Thursday, 31 October 2013

A withdrawal management, detox programme for mass media addiction and indoctrination

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Actually, there is really no need for anything complex in this endeavor; since withdrawal from the mass media is more like going 'cold turkey' from heroin (feels very bad, but won't kill you) than it is like suddenly stopping alcohol consumption (very dangerous, often fatal).

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Breaking-out from mass media addiction and the accompanying indoctrination, (manipulation into evil) is for many people the vital first step in recovering from the nihilistic psychosis of modern life.

But the good news is that the process is simple and the healing is spontaneous; because it is only the continuous high volume consumption of mass media that is keeping us ill.

So, at root, the detox progam is merely a matter of Just. Say. No.

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1. Do not seek out mass media.
2. Develop mental 'blinkers' so as not to notice or be distracted by mass media.
3. Turn away (physically and or mentally) when you do notice and are distracted by mass media.

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Positive treatment entails

1. Filling-up your mind with good things
2. Living in the present moment (self remembering Me! Here! Now!), take notice of experience as it happens.
3. Ensuring unstructured, undistracted solitary time - walking, travelling, sitting etc.

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A new evaluation system:

1. Attitudes - treat the mass media as you would a conference of con-men; people you know are out to exploit you: somehow, anyhow.

2. Knowledge - Recognise that the Mass Media is so dishonest that you know nothing from it: there is biased reporting, gross selection within reports, and there are made-up lies and falsehoods seeded throughout.

Thus the Mass media is misleading in its general trend, its specific framing, and in its fine detail. Nothing about it can be assumed correct. And it is in practice very seldom possible to detect discount all of the ongoing dishonestys: the most dangerous delusion is that you personally can filter the mass media, decode and see through its biases, selections and lies to discern the truth of the situation.

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So there is no programme for quitting the mass media, no 'antidote' is required; rather the de-programming begins to happen as soon as you begin significantly to cut yourself off from the mass media.

Of course you will still be wrong about many things - probably about most things - but you will no longer be believing or spouting utterly incoherent nonsense.

This is not about trying to be right about everything but about trying to avoid the common state of being crazily and incurably wrong about all the most important things of life.

Only after you have escaped from the toils of the mass media can you, will you, begin again to thinks-straight - to see what is going-on in yourself, your life and the world around you.

For many. mass media withdrawal is a necessary first step in pursuit of anything better. Because so long as someone is addicted to the mass media, all potential gains are swept-away by unrelenting distraction; by recurrent episodes of amnesia or intoxication.

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The cancer of bureaucracy

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From 2010, on the Medical Hypotheses blog - for those who missed it... I regard this as probably one of my most important 'scholarly' articles. The post is about 2,500 words - so is better copied, pasted and printed-out before reading (assuming the 400 word summary seems sufficiently alluring)

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The cancer of bureaucracy: how it will destroy science, medicine, education; and eventually everything else

Bruce G Charlton. Medical Hypotheses - 2010; 74: 961-5

Summary

Everyone living in modernizing ‘Western’ societies will have noticed the long-term, progressive growth and spread of bureaucracy infiltrating all forms of social organization: nobody loves it, many loathe it, yet it keeps expanding.

Such unrelenting growth implies that bureaucracy is parasitic and its growth uncontrollable – in other words it is a cancer that eludes the host immune system.

Old-fashioned functional, ‘rational’ bureaucracy that incorporated individual decision-making is now all-but extinct, rendered obsolete by computerization. But modern bureaucracy evolved from it, the key ‘parasitic’ mutation being the introduction of committees for major decision-making or decision-ratification.

Committees are a fundamentally irrational, incoherent, unpredictable decision-making procedure; which has the twin advantages that it cannot be formalized and replaced by computerization, and that it generates random variation or ‘noise’ which provides the basis for natural selection processes.

Modern bureaucracies have simultaneously grown and spread in a positive-feedback cycle; such that interlinking bureaucracies now constitute the major environmental feature of human society which affects organizational survival and reproduction. Individual bureaucracies must become useless parasites which ignore the ‘real world’ in order to adapt to rapidly-changing ‘bureaucratic reality’.

Within science, the major manifestation of bureaucracy is peer review, which – cancer-like – has expanded to obliterate individual authority and autonomy. There has been local elaboration of peer review and metastatic spread of peer review to include all major functions such as admissions, appointments, promotions, grant review, project management, research evaluation, journal and book refereeing and the award of prizes.

Peer review eludes the immune system of science since it has now been accepted by other bureaucracies as intrinsically valid, such that any residual individual decision-making (no matter how effective in real-world terms) is regarded as intrinsically unreliable (self-interested and corrupt). Thus the endemic failures of peer review merely trigger demands for ever-more elaborate and widespread peer review.

Just as peer review is killing science with its inefficiency and ineffectiveness, so parasitic bureaucracy is an un-containable phenomenon; dangerous to the extent that it cannot be allowed to exist unmolested, but must be utterly extirpated. Or else modernizing societies will themselves be destroyed by sclerosis, resource misallocation, incorrigibly-wrong decisions and the distortions of ‘bureaucratic reality’.

However, unfortunately, social collapse is the more probable outcome, since parasites can evolve more rapidly than host immune systems.

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Everyone in modernizing ‘Western’ societies (roughly the USA, UK, Western and Central Europe) will, no doubt, have noticed that there has been a long-term, progressive growth and spread of bureaucracy. Except during major war; this has not been a matter of pendulum swings, with sometimes less and sometimes more bureaucracy, but instead of relentless overall expansion – albeit sometimes faster and at other times slower.

The bureaucratic takeover applies to science, medicine, education, law, police, the media – indeed to almost all social functions. Such unrelenting growth implies either that 1. Bureaucracy is vital to societal functioning and the more bureaucracy we have the better for us; or that 2. Bureaucracy is parasitic and its growth is uncontrollable. Since the first alternative has become obviously absurd, I am assuming the second alternative is correct: that bureaucracy is like a cancer of modernizing societies – i.e. its expansion is malignant and its effect is first parasitic, then eventually fatal.

While it is generally recognized that modern societies are being bled-dry by the expense, delays, demoralization and reality-blindness imposed by multiple expanding and interacting bureaucracies, it is not properly recognized that bureaucratic decision-making is not merely flawed by its expense and sluggishness but also by its tendency to generate wrong answers. Modern bureaucracy, indeed, leads to irrational and unpredictable decisions; to indefensible decisions which are barely comprehensible, and cannot be justified, even by the people directly involved in them.

In what follows, I will make a distinction between, on the one hand, Weberian, functional, ‘rational’ bureaucracy which (in its ideal type, as derived from the work of Max Weber; 1864-1920) incorporated individual decision-making and was evaluated externally in terms of results and efficiency; and, on the other hand, modern ‘parasitic’ bureaucracy which (in its ideal type) deploys majority-vote committees for its major decision-making, is orientated purely towards its own growth, and which by means of its capacity to frame ‘reality’ - has become self-validating.

I will argue that parasitic bureaucracy evolved from rational bureaucracy in response to the rapidly changeable selection pressures imposed by modern society, especially the selection pressure from other bureaucracies having constructed a encompassing, virtual but dominant system of ‘bureaucratic reality’; and that the system of rational bureaucracy is by now all-but extinct – having been rendered obsolete by computerization.


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The problem of parasitic bureaucracy

It is a striking feature of modern bureaucracy that nobody loves it, many loathe it (even, or especially, the bureaucrats themselves), yet it keeps growing and spreading. One reason is that bureaucracy is able to frame reality, such that the more that bureaucracy dominates society, the more bureaucracy seems to be needed; hence the response to any bureaucracy-generated problem is always to make more and bigger bureaucracies. It is this positive feedback system which is so overwhelming. Mere human willpower is now clearly inadequate to combat bureaucratic expansionism. Bureaucracy has become like The Borg on Star Trek: the next generation: it feeds-upon and assimilates opposition.

Bureaucracies are indeed no longer separable but form a linked web; such that to cut one bureaucracy seems always to imply another, and larger, bureaucracy to do the cutting. When the dust has settled, it is invariably found that the total sum and scope of societal bureaucratic activity has increased. And it is well recognized that modern bureaucracies tend to discourse-about, but never to eradicate, problems – it is as-if the abstract bureaucratic system somehow knew that its survival depended upon continually working-on, but never actually solving problems... Indeed, ‘problems’ seldom even get called problems nowadays, since problems imply the need and expectation for solutions; instead problems get called ‘issues’, a term which implies merely the need to ‘work-on’ them indefinitely. To talk in terms of solving problems is actually regarded as na├»ve and ‘simplistic’; even when, as a matter of empirical observation, these exact same problems were easily solved in the past, as a matter of record.

Over much of the world, public life is now mostly a matter of ‘bureaucracy speaking unto bureaucracy’. Observations and opinions from individual humans simply don’t register – unless, of course, individual communications happen to provide inputs which bureaucracies can use to create more regulations, more oversight, hence create more work for themselves. So individual complaints which can be used to trigger bureaucratic activity may be noted and acted-upon, or personal calls for more bureaucratic oversight may be amplified, elaborated and implemented. But anything which threatens the growth and spread of bureaucracy (i.e. anything simple that is also worryingly swift, efficient or effective) is ignored; or in extremis attacked with lethal intent.

The main self-defence of modern bureaucracy, however, is to frame reality. Since bureaucracies now dominate society, that which bureaucracies recognize and act-upon is ‘reality’; while that which bureaucracies do not recognize does not, for practical purposes, exist. Bureaucracy-as-a-system, therefore constructs a 'reality' which is conducive to the thriving of bureaucracy-as-a-system.

When a powerful bureaucracy does not recognize a communication as an input, then that communication is rendered anecdotal and irrelevant. Information which the bureaucracy rejects takes-on an unreal, subjective quality. Even if everybody, qua individual, knows that some thing is real and true – it becomes possible for modern bureaucracy implicitly to deny that thing's existence simply by disregarding it as an input, and instead responding to different inputs that are more conducive to expansion, and these are then rendered more significant and 'realer' than actual reality.

For many people, the key defining feature of a bureaucracy (as described by Weber) is that ideally it is an information-processing organization that has established objective procedures which it implements impartially. It is these quasi-mechanical procedures which are supposed to link aims to outcomes; and to ensure that, given appropriate inputs a bureaucracy almost-automatically generate predictable and specific outputs and outcomes.

However modern bureaucracies do not work like that. Indeed, such has been the breakdown in relationship between input and output that modern bureaucracies devote immense resources to change pure-and-simple; for example continually changing the recognition of input measures (i.e. continually redefining 'reality') and re-defining an organization’s mission and aims (i.e. rendering the nature of the organization different-from and incommensurable-with the past organization) and repeatedly altering the organizational outcomes regarded as relevant (re-defining making any decline in the efficiency of the organization formally un-measurable).

Such change may be externally- or internally-triggered: either triggered by the external demands of other bureaucracies which constitute the organizational environment, or triggered by the innate noise-generating tendencies of committees.

With endlessly-altering inputs, processes and outputs, bureaucratically-dominated organizations are impossible to critique in terms of functionality: their effectiveness is impossible to measure, and if or when they may be counter-productive (in terms of their original real world purpose) this will also be unknowable. Individual functional organizations disappear and all bureaucracies blend into a Borg-like web of interdependent growth.


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The nature of bureaucracy: rational versus parasitic

What is bureaucracy? The traditional definition emphasises that bureaucracy entails a rational human organization which is characterized by hierarchy and specialization of function, and that the organization deploys explicit procedures or regulations that are impartially administered by the personnel. A rational ‘Weberian’ bureaucracy was probably, on the whole, performing a useful function reasonably efficiently – in other words its effectiveness was perceived in terms of externally-pre-decided criteria, and its growth and spread were circumscribed.
In medical terms, Weberian bureaucracy was therefore – at worst - a benign tumour; potentially able to overgrow locally and exert pressure on its surroundings; but still under control from, and held in check by, the larger host organism of society.

But, just as cancers usually evolve from benign precursors, so it was that modern parasitic and useless bureaucracies evolved from the rational and functional bureaucracies of an earlier era. Probably the key trigger factor in accelerating the rate of this evolution has been the development of computers, which have the potential to do – almost instantly, and at near zero cost – exactly the kind of rational information processing which in the past could only be done (much more slowly, expensively, and erratically) by Weberian bureaucracy. My contention is that large scale rational, functional bureaucracies are now all-but extinct, destroyed by computerization.

I assume that, when rational bureaucracy was facing extinction from computerization, there was a powerful selection pressure for the evolution of new forms of irrational bureaucracy – since rational procedures could be converted into algorithms, formalized and done mechanically; while irrational procedures were immune from this competition.

The outcome is that, despite retaining a vast structure of procedure and regulation, and the organizational principles of hierarchy and specialization, those powerful modern bureaucracies that survived the challenge of computerization and are still alive and growing nowadays are non-rational in their core attributes. Irrationality is indeed an essential aspect of a modern bureaucracy’s ability to survive and thrive. Those bureaucracies which remain and are expanding in this post-computerization era are neither rational nor functional.

This evolution towards pure parasitism – with no performance of a substantive real-world function - is only possible because, for any specific bureaucracy, its relevant environment now substantially consists of other bureaucracies. It is 'other bureaucracies' that are the main selection pressure: other bureaucracies pose the main threat to survival and reproduction. A modern bureaucracy therefore must respond primarily to ‘bureaucratic reality’ – and any engagement with ‘real life’ (e.g. life as it is perceived by alert and informed individual human beings) simply stands in the way of this primary survival task.

So, the best adapted modern bureaucracies are those which most efficiently play the game of satisfying the constantly-and rapidly-changing requirements of other major bureaucracies. Success brings expansion by local growth and metastatic spread. But, in contrast, satisfying the stable requirements of ‘real life’ and human nature, by contrast, brings a bureaucracy little or no rewards, and a greater possibility of extinction from the actions of other bureaucracies.


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The role of committees in the evolution of bureaucracy

I will argue that the major mechanism by which irrationality has been introduced into bureaucracies is the committee which makes decisions by majority voting.

Committees now dominate almost all the major decision-making in modernizing societies – whether in the mass committee of eligible voters in elections, or such smaller committees as exist in corporations, government or in the US Supreme Court: it seems that modern societies always deploy a majority vote to decide or ratify all questions of importance. Indeed, it is all-but-inconceivable that any important decision be made by an individual person – it seems both natural and inevitable that such judgments be made by group vote.

Yet although nearly universal among Western ruling elites, this fetishizing of committees is a truly bizarre attitude; since there is essentially zero evidence that group voting leads to good, or even adequate, decisions – and much evidence that group voting leads to unpredictable, irrational and bad decisions.

The nonsense of majority voting was formally described by Nobel economics laureate Kenneth Arrow (1921-) in the 1960s, but it is surely obvious to anyone who has had dealings with committees and maintains independent judgement. It can be demonstrated using simple mathematical formulations that a majority vote may lead to unstable cycles of decisions, or a decision which not one single member of the committee would regard as optimal. For example, in a job appointments panel, it sometimes happens that there are two strong candidates who split the panel, so the winner is a third choice candidate whom no panel member would regard as the best candidate. In other words any individual panel member would make a better choice than derives from majority voting.

Furthermore, because of this type of phenomenon, and the way that majority decisions do not necessarily reflect any individual's opinion, committee decisions carry no responsibility. After all, how could anyone be held responsible for outcomes which nobody intended and to which nobody agrees? So that committees exert de facto power without responsibility. Indeed most modern committees are typically composed of a variable selection from a number of eligible personnel, so that it is possible that the same committee may never contain the same personnel twice. The charade is kept going by the necessary but meaningless fiction of ‘committee responsibility’, maintained by the enforcement of a weird rule that committee members must undertake, in advance of decisions, to abide by whatever outcome (however irrational, unpredictable, unjustified and indefensible) the actual contingent committee deliberations happen to lead-to. This near-universal rule and practice simply takes ‘irresponsibility’ and re-names it ‘responsibility’…

Given that committee decisions are neither rational nor coherent, and are therefore radically unpredictable, what is their effect? In a nutshell the short answer is that committees – overall and in the long term – generate random ‘noise’. Committees almost certainly increase the chances that a decision is wrong – but overall they probably do not have lead to any specifically biased direction of wrongness. While some committees using some procedures are biased in one direction, others are biased in other directions, and in the end I think the only thing that we can be sure about is that committees widen the range of unpredictability of decisions.

Now, if we ask what is the role of randomness in complex systems? - the answer is that random noise provides the variations which are the subject of selection processes. For example, in biology the random errors of genetic replication provide genetic variation which affects traits that are then subjected to natural selection. So, it seems reasonable to infer that committees generate random changes that generate variations in organizational characteristics which are then acted-upon by selection mechanisms. Some organizational variations are amplified and thrive, while other variations are suppressed and dwindle. Overall, this enables bureaucracies rapidly to evolve – to survive, to grow and to spread.

How much random noise is needed in a bureaucracy (or any evolving system)? The short answer is that the stronger is the selection pressure, the greater is the necessity for rapid evolution, then the more noise is needed; bearing in mind the trade-off by which an increased error rate in reproduction also reduces the ability of an evolving system accurately to reproduce itself. A system under strong selection pressure (e.g. a bureaucracy in a rapidly-changing modernizing society) tends to allow or generate more noise to create a wider range of variation for selection to act upon and thereby enable faster evolution – at the expense of less exact replication. By contrast, a system under weaker selection pressure (such as the Weberian bureaucracies of the early 20th century – for instance the British Civil Service) have greater fidelity of replication (less noise), but at the expense of a reduced ability to change rapidly in response to changing selection pressures.

I am saying here that committees using majority voting are responsible for the evolution of malignant bureaucratic growth in modern bureaucracies, and that this is why majority-vote decision-making permeates modern societies from the top to the bottom.

Although almost all major decision-making in the ‘Western’ world is now by majority voting there may be two significant exceptions: firstly military decision-making in time of war; secondly the personal authority of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. In both these types of organization there seems to be a greater emphasis on individual decision-making than on committee voting. Military command structures and the Roman Catholic hierarchy are therefore probably both closer to the ideal type of a Weberian rational bureaucracy than to the ideal type of a modern parasitic bureaucracy.

If so, the only major exceptions to majority rule decision-making at a world level, and probably not by coincidence, are the oldest and longest-enduring bureaucratic structures: that is, organizations which have retained functionality and have not themselves been destroyed by bureaucratic cancer.


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Why are there committees at all?

Although they may nowadays be almost wholly damaging, committees cannot in their origins have been entirely useless or harmful; or else the form would never have survived its first appearance. If we acknowledge that individuals have the potential for better (i.e. more rational and coherent) decision-making than committees, then the decline of individual decision-making must not be due to the lack of advantages so much as the perceived problems of individual decision-making.

The problems of individual decision-making are the same as the problems of individual power: in essence these problems are self-interest (i.e. the observation that power will be deployed differentially to benefit the power-holder) and corruption (i.e. the observation that over time power will corrupt, making the individual progressively a worse-and-worse decision-maker until he us note merely self-interested but progressively driven mad: power mad).

Since humans are self-centred beings living in an imperfect world, all individuals tend to be both self-interested and corruptible (albeit to widely-varying degrees!). Of course, self-interest and corruptibility applies equally to people 'serving' on committees - each of whom is wielding lesser but anonymous and irresponsible power. Nonetheless, it seems to me that committees are mostly favoured because they are seen as a solution to these intrinsic problems of individual power. The implicit assumption is that when a committee is run by majority voting then individual self-interests will cancel-out. Furthermore, that since power is spread-around more people on a committee, then the inevitably corrupting effect of power will be similarly diluted.

In reality, committees mostly solve the problems of power to the extent that they reduce the effective deployment of power. So that, if committees are indeed less self-interested and less prone to corruption than individuals, this is achieved mainly because the committee structure and procedures make decision-making so unpredictable and incoherent that committees are rendered ineffective: ineffective to such an extent that committees cannot even manage consistently to be self-interested or corrupt! Therefore, the problems of power are ‘solved’, not by reducing the biases or corruptions of power, but simply by reducing the effectiveness of power; by introducing inefficiencies and obscuring the clarity of self-interest with the labile confusions of group dynamics. Power is not controlled but destroyed…

Therefore, if committees were introduced to reduce the abuse of power, then instead of achieving this, their actual outcome is that committees reduce power itself, and society is made docile when confronted by significant problems which could be solved, but are not. And surely this is precisely what we observe in the West, on an hourly basis?

Because committee-based bureaucracy is predicated on an ethic of power as evil: it functions as a sort of unilateral disarmament that would be immediately obvious as self-defeating or maladaptive unless arising in a context of already-existing domination. And a system of committee-based bureaucracy can only survive for as long as it its opponents can be rendered even-weaker by even-more virulent affliction with the same disease: which perhaps explains the extra-ordinarily venomous and dishonest pseudo-moralizing aggression which committee bureaucracy adopts towards other simpler, more-efficient or more-effective organizational systems that still use individual decision-making.

If we assume that committees were indeed introduced as a purported solution to (real or imagined, actual or potential) abuses of individual power; then committees will therefore usually achieve this goal. So long as the quality of decision-making is ignored, then the committees seem to be successful. Committees can therefore be seen as a typical product of one-sided and unbalanced moralism that has discarded the Aristotelian maxim of moderation in all things. Bureaucracy adopts instead unilateral moralism which aims at the complete avoidance of one kind of sin, even at the cost of falling into another contrasting kind of sin (so pride is avoided by encouraging submission, and aggression is avoided by imposing sloth).

However the subject matter of ‘trade-offs’ is avoided; and the inevitable self-created problems of single issue moral action are instead fed-upon by bureaucracy, leading (of course!) to further expansion.

Hence, modern decision-making means that societal capability has declined in many areas. It has become at best slow and expensive, and at worst impossible, to achieve things which were done quickly, efficiently and effectively under systems based on individual decision-making. To avoid the corruption of individual authority, society has been rendered helpless in the face of threats which could have been combated.


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Bureaucracy in science – the cancer of peer review

This situation can readily be seen in science. Although modern science is massively distorted and infiltrated by the action of external bureaucracies in politics, public administration, law, business and the media (for example), the major manifestation of bureaucracy actually within science is of course peer review.

Over the last half-century or so, the growth and metastatic spread of peer review as a method of decision-making in science has been truly amazing. Individual decision-making has been all-but obliterated at every level and for almost every task. The elaborateness of peer review has increased (e.g. the number of referees, the number of personnel on evaluating panels, the amount of information input demanded by these groups). And peer review or other types of committee are now used for admissions, appointments, promotions, grant review, project management, research evaluation, journal and book refereeing, the award of prizes… the list just goes on and on. Clearly, peer review fits the pattern of malignant expansion of bureaucracy that is seen in the rest of modern society.

And, as with the rest of society, the cancer of bureaucratic peer review eludes the immune system of science. It has now been widely accepted, by the other bureaucracies of modern society in particular, that peer review is intrinsically valid; and that any other form of decision-making is intrinsically corrupt or unreliable. This belief is not merely implicit, but frequently explicit: with ignorant and nonsensical statements about the vital and defining role of peer review in science being the norm in mainstream communication.

The irresistible rise of peer review can be seen most starkly in that any deficiencies in peer review triggers demands (especially from other bureaucracies) for more elaborate and widespread peer review. So that the endemic failure of increased journal peer review to maintain quality, or to eliminate what it is purported to detect; such as deliberate fraud, or multiple publication, or serious error - leads inevitably leads to plans for further increases in peer review. So there is peer review of greater elaborateness, with further steps added to the process, and extra layers of monitoring by new types of larger committees. The ultimate validity of peer review is simply an assumption; and no amount of contrary evidence of its stultifying inefficiency, its harmful biases, and distorting exclusions can ever prove anything except the need for more of the same.

Yet the role of peer review in the progress of science remains, as it always has been, conjectural and unverified. The processes of gathering and collating peer opinion as a method of decision-making are neither rational nor transparent – and indeed (as argued above) this irrationality and unpredictability is in fact a necessary factor in the ability of committee systems such as peer review to expand without limit.

In the past; the ultimate, bottom-line, within-science validation of science came not from the committee opinions of peer reviewers but from the emergent phenomenon of peer usage – which refers to the actual deployment of previous science (theories, facts, techniques) in the ongoing work of later scientists. This was an implicit, aggregate but not quantified outcome of a multitude of individual-decisions among peers (co-workers in the same domain) about what aspects of previous science they would use in their own research: each user of earlier work was betting their time, effort and reputation on the validity of the previous research which they chose to use. When their work bore fruit, this a validation of previous research (in the sense that having survived this attempt at refutation the old science now commanded greater confidence); but when previous research was faulty it 'sabotaged' any later research building upon it in terms of correctly predicting or effectively-intervening-in the natural world. Beyond this lies the commonsensical evaluation of science in terms of ‘what works’ – especially what works outside of science, by people such as engineers and doctors whose job is to apply science in the natural world.

But now that committee-based peer review has been explicitly accepted as the ‘gold standard’ of scientific validity, we see the bizarre situation that actual scientific usage and even what works is regarded as less important than the ‘bureaucratic reality’ of peer review evaluations. Mere opinions trump observations of objective reality. Since ‘bureaucratic reality’ is merely a construct of interacting bureaucracies, this carries the implication that scientific reality is now, to an ever-increasing extent, simply just another aspect of, and seamlessly-continuous-with, mainstream 'bureaucratic reality'. Science is merely a subdivision of that same bureaucratic reality seen in politics, public administration, law, the media and business. The whole thing is just one gigantic virtual world. It seems probable that much of peer reviewed ‘science’ nowadays therefore carries no implications of being useful in understanding, predicting or intervening-on the natural world.

In other words, when science operates on the basis of peer review and committee decision, it is not really science at all. The cancer of bureaucracy has killed real science wherever it dominates. Much of mainstream science is now ‘Zombie Science’: that is, something which superficially looks-like science, but which is actually dead inside, and kept-moving only by continuous infusion of research funds. So far as bureaucratic reality is concerned, i.e. the reality as acknowledged among the major bureaucracies; real science likely now exists at an unofficial, unacknowledged level, below the radar; only among that minority of scholars and researchers who still deploy the original scientific evaluation mechanisms such as individual judgement, peer usage and real-world effectiveness.

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What will happen?

The above analysis suggests that parasitic bureaucracy is so dangerous in the context of a modernizing society that it cannot be allowed to exist; it simply must be destroyed in its entirety or else any residuum will re-grow, metastasize and colonize society all over again. The implication is that a future society which intends to survive in the long-term would need to be one that prevents parasitic bureaucracy from even getting a toe-hold.

The power of parasitic bureaucracy to expand and to trigger further parasitic bureaucracies is now rendered de facto un-stoppable by the power of interacting bureaucracies to frame and construct perceived reality in bureaucratic terms. Since bureaucratic failure is eliminated by continual re-definition of success, and the since any threats of to bureaucratic expansion are eliminated by exclusion or lethal attack; the scope of bureaucratic takeover from now can be limited only by collapse of the social system as a whole.

So, if the above analysis is correct, there can be only two outcomes. Either that the cancer of modern bureaucracy will be extirpated: destroyed utterly. In other words, the host immune system will evolve the ability to destroy the parasite. Maybe, all majority voting committees will coercively be replaced by individuals who have the authority to make decisions and responsibility for those decisions.
Or that the cancer of bureaucracy will kill the host. In other words, the parasite will continue to elude the immune system. Modernizing societies will sooner-or-later be destroyed by a combination of resource starvation plus accumulative damage from delayed and wrong decisions based on the exclusions and distortions of ‘bureaucratic reality’.

Then the most complex rapidly-growing modernizing Western societies will be replaced by, or will regress into, zero-growth societies with a lower level of complexity - probably about the level of the agrarian societies of the European or Asian Middle Ages.

My prediction is that outcome two – societal collapse - is at present the more probable, on the basis that parasites can evolve more rapidly than host immune systems. Although as individuals we can observe the reality of approaching disaster, to modern parasitic bureaucracies the relevant data is either trivial or simply invisible.

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Further reading:

Although I do not mention it specifically above, the stimulus to writing this essay came from Mark A Notturno’s Science and the open society: the future of Karl Popper’s philosophy (Central European University Press: Budapest, 2000) – in particular the account of Popper’s views on induction. It struck me that committee decision-making by majority vote is a form of inductive reasoning, hence non-valid; and that inductive reasoning is in practice no more than a form of ‘authoritarianism’ (as Notturno terms it). In the event, I decided to exclude this line of argument from the essay because I found it too hard to make the point interesting and accessible. Nonetheless, I am very grateful to have had it explained to me.

I should also mention that various analyses of the pseudonymous blogger Mencius Moldbug, who writes at Unqualified Reservations, likely had a significant role in developing the above ideas.

This argument builds upon several previous pieces of mine including: Conflicts of interest in medical science: peer usage, peer review and ‘CoI consultancy' (Medical Hypotheses 2004; 63: 181-186); Charlton BG, Andras P. What is management and what do managers do? A systems theory account. (Philosophy of Management. 2004; 3: 3-15); Peer usage versus peer review (BMJ 2007; 335: 451); Charlton BG, Andras P. Medical research funding may have over-expanded and be due for collapse (QJM 2005; 98: 53–55); Figureheads, ghost-writers and pseudonymous quant bloggers: the recent evolution of authorship in science publishing (Medical Hypotheses. 2008; 71: 475–480); Zombie science’ (Medical Hypotheses 2008; 71:327–329); The vital role of transcendental truth in science’ (Medical Hypotheses. 2009; 72: 373–376); Are you an honest scientist? Truthfulness in science should be an iron law, not a vague aspiration (Medical Hypotheses. 2009; Volume 73: 633-635); and, After science: has the tradition been broken? Medical Hypotheses, in the press.

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What is the function of Numenor in Tolkien's universe?

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/numenor-as-nation-of-elf-friends.html
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Neoreactionaries versus (Religious) Reactionaries

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Following from:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/what-does-neo-in-neoreaction-signify.html

A quick distinction:

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Neoreaction (secular right, alt-right etc) focuses on social institutions - indeed, neoreaction regards institutions as primary.

Neoreactionaries say the problem with modernity is in the social institutions - (e.g. corruption by Leftism of The Cathedral of elite media, civil administration, educational organizations).

(Neoreaction regards religion as an institution, like any other.)

To fix modernity, the neoreactionaries say: first, fix the institutions.

They say: nothing good can happen unless we first fix the institutions.

They say: if (somehow, and that somehow is a major focus of discussion) we can fix the institutions - then things can, and probably will, improve.

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Reactionaries (that is Religious Reactionaries) focus on religion.

Reactionaries say the problem of modernity is apostasy - the abandonment of religion.

We say: none of the above will happen without, first, religion.

Reactionaries say that religion is absolutely and unavoidably necessary (but not sufficient) to fix modernity.

*

Neoreaction disagrees because they see religion as an institution (just like any other) and corrupted by Leftism (just like any other), therefore: first fix the institutions.

*

Reaction regards religion as hierarchically-above other institutions, and something which cannot therefore be fixed by other institutions; but only by religion.

Reactionaries say: to fix the institutional basis of corrupt religion, we need real (not corrupt) religion, therefore: first, religion.

**

Why old is good - lessons for modern-style churches

*

Old is good - what our society needs is to keep contact with the past through the old; not to be 'relevant' and modern.

Religions too. All Christian denominations that have been strong and 'worked' seem to have maintained a link with the past via the old.

*

Old buildings - a church which meets in an old church building has a built-in advantage - since the setting intrinsically links the present with the past.

(That this advantage can be overcome is easily seen by the destructive, anti-traditional, past-rejecting Liberal Christianity which has emanated from the beautiful old buildings of Oxford and Cambridge universities. But still, old architecture has to be overcome - the Liberalizers will not really be happy until they can operate in a newly-built glass and concrete box without any visible reminders of the slave-trading, patriarchal, war-mongering, excluding bad-old-days.)

*

Old formality.

Robes and rituals are good, especially if they are old or backward-looking. Modernizers always want to introduce casual dress, causal manners, causal language, promiscuous chumminess with first names all around.

This is so as to be friendly, and welcoming, and not to exclude people, and not to be off-putting. But it is another break with the past, makes church the same as everywhere else, nothing special.

Every break with the past increases the influence of the present; and when the present is profoundly anti-Christian, every break with the past is an obstacle to Christianity.

*

Old music.

In church, old music (and styles and instruments) tend to evoke a deep continuity with the past - modern music doesn't. It may have other virtues, but modern music is of the modern world.

This goes beyond enjoyability. It is about a mind-set that either recognizes continuity, or forgets it.



Old words - old language.

This is very important - perhaps the most important thing of all.

Things can be said in old language which cannot be said in modern language.

So when the Authorized Version of the Bible is discarded and an easy to understand modern translation is substituted, we find that the modern language simply does not allow Christians to say some of the things they need to say.

Because modern language has been created - in part - precisely to exclude the basis and also the substance of Christianity.

*

Tolkien knew this for a fact and knew it deeply - and he used archaic forms of language, he had to use archaic forms of language, as well as modern forms - in order to express things that were embedded in archaic worlds. The fact of the great and enduring success of his work shows that people responded.

*

It could be rejoined that a real Christian does not, should not, need old buildings, old formality and rituals, old music, old words; a real Christian only needs Jesus...

Well, yes, but...

To live the life of a Christian in an increasingly anti-Christian modern world, it is certainly very helpful to link-up with the past - in fact, without the links to the past, there aren't very many modern Christians to link-up with!

The context of Christian life and worship can help maintain alive and psychologically-active these links with Christians of the past.

This can strengthen and deepen and insulate modern Christianity, in a pervasively hostile environment. 

*

If church is almost indistinguishable from the rest of the world - if church takes place in an aggressively modern building; with people wearing their normal clothes and shambling around in their usual daily manner; chatting casually using first names to friend, stranger and Pastor alike; singing recently-written songs accompanied by modern instruments; hearing Scriptures that are either in the style of modern bureaucratic memos or the style of pop music radio announcers - and hearing them expounded in the style of a jolly, jokey TV documentary ...

well, the least that can be said is that everything about such a church is working-against Christianity;

because Christianity is saying things for which modern culture has (deliberately) no place.

*

If, therefore, churches try to be completely modern, then they will find that they cannot expound Christianity.

At best, at most, fully modern churches can only tell-people-about Christianity - in hope they will at some time go and find it for themselves - but people will never experience Christianity in the church itself.

Such a wholly-modernized church operates rather as if they were telling-people-about the beauty of Shakespeare's poetry - but never actually quoting it. 

*

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mass media addiction and its cognitive consequences

*

Mass media addiction has been bad for many decades and continues to get worse since the advent of the internet and social media (these having amplified the mass media by orders of magnitude, rather than displacing it as some once assumed or hoped).

The mass media controls society, but nobody (no person or specific group of people) controls the mass media.

*

Most people in modern societies cannot go cold turkey and simply stop their exposure, because the mass media is unavoidable - it shouts for attention from every computer screen and communication device, from posters and bill boards, in the conversational topics of the people around us.

All we can do is cut-back and cut-back until (with luck) a point is reached when we begin to emerge from under the cloud, become somewhat independent again - but even this is a constant fight against being distracted, attracted, drawn-in and again addicted. Withdrawal must begin again and again.



The most profound truths, the most lasting experiences, the most precious memories are swept away like a drop of crystal water in a daily torrent of polluted effluent - for someone unresistingly, enthusiastically to consume the mass media is like standing in the path of a burst dam with your mouth wide open and where the deluge just goes on and on, and on.

But the fact that most of the output of the mass media is a pollutant is not the worst problem; the worst problem is that the mode by which the mass media communicates become habitual - until it becomes very difficult to think in any other fashion.

The worst problem is that by consuming a lot of the mass media for a lot of our lives, we are entrained to its cognitive mode; that mode becomes habitual, normal - and eventually unavoidable. Ultimately, we cannot think otherwise, but only in the way that the mass media thinks.

*

The mass media is a language that imposes exclusions, has rules; the exclusions include all objectivity - such that everything is a matter of opinion, a personal point of view; and the rules are those of emotions - attention, excitement, interest, boredom, happy and sadness...

The mass media is therefore necessarily a flickering kaleidoscope of impressions that evoke feelings; the mass media are therefore essentially relativistic - not in terms of asserting the validity of relativism (which would be self-refuting), but in terms of its cognitive style.

Therefore, the reason for the deadly relativism of modern societies is not that radical philosophers have convinced people of the validity of relativism; but because relativism is the cognitive mode of the mass media, and people are habitually entrained to think and reason the way the mass media thinks and reasons.

*

Even when the mass media is asserting objectivity, then in practice (and without any justifying theory) it can be, and usually will be, in a moment be undercut by simply starting something else.

(Those amazing words 'and now...' which were noted by Neil Postman as used to join up whatever happens to be in the new on a particular day.)

Every statement is thereby retrospectively reframed as opinion - and confronted by another opinion. The mass media presents only opinion, and everything is treated by it as opinion - as and when necessary.

*

Opinions can - in principle - be ranked by the heirearchical authority of the opinionator; then re-ranked by another criterion; and again and again.

While being presented, each and any opinion displaces all alternatives; then something else is presented, and that overwhelms all alternatives.

*

In this respect the mass media exemplifies the nature of modern societies in which social functions are divided without the over-arching unification system of religion - which potentially comprehends, explains and regulates all other functions.

Yet the media is not without its over-arching system - that over-arching system is New Leftism or Political Correctness, and it is not a centripetal system but a centrifugal anti-system. In other words, the ideology which connects (but does not bind) all the strands of the media is the ideology of opposition.

Opposition to what? Opposition not so much to the natural, the common-sensical - to legitimate authority; but rather opposition to the very reality, the categories themselves of the natural, common-sensical, legitimate, authoritative or any other such principle.

The very cognitive structure of the mass media makes any such concepts meaningless - instead of structuring reality they become objects for examination, discussion, challenge, using and discarding - then maybe taking up again.

*

Therefore the modern Western mass media as it now operates is not a tool which could, in principle, be used to propagate a variety of political ideologies; rather the modern mass media is of its essence a Leftist phenomenon, THE Leftist phenomenon - a phenomenon, that is, of opposition to Christianity and to transcendental Good - because Christianity and The Good cannot operate if treated in practice and necessarily - by the very structuring mode of the media - as opinions.

*



Why is the Lord of the Rings sad, *almost* without hope?

*

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/lord-of-rings-deeply-sad-almost-without.html
*

Monday, 28 October 2013

Did *anything* substantive happen at GAFCON 2013?

*

See http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/gafcon-2013.html

The Church of England is an Episcopal church - which is to say it depends on Bishops for running things in general and for ordaining priests in particular. The fact that there are no conservative evangelical Bishops in the CoE is therefore... a problem.

No such Bishops are appointed, which means virtually all Bishops are hostile to conservative evangelicals and will not appoint conservative evangelicals as Vicars (Priests-in-charge); and also that there is virtually no official theological training for Conservative evangelicals but on the contrary indoctrination with Liberal Christianity, often of a very extreme type.

*

This means that no matter how successful (large, profitable, growing, devout) a conservative evangelical church in the CoE becomes (and I am a member of one such church), its existence is extremely precarious - the moving-on, retirement or death of the existing Vicar usually spells an end to its achievements; and in particular a forced accommodation to the latest diktats of the sexual revolution.

The options are therefore: 1. Join the mainstream. 2. Leave the Church of England but remain Anglican (that is, being supervised by GAFCON Bishops from abroad). 3. Leave the Church of England AND the Anglican Communion.

Thus I was awaiting the outcome of GAFCON 2013, to see whether they would be an alternative system of Anglican Episcopal supervision so that conservative evangelicals could remain Anglicans while leaving the CoE .

*

But I am not sure whether-or-not anything substantive happened at GAFCON 2013!

I can find no analysis or summary from a trusted source - only this segment from the Nairobi Communique and Commitment

http://gafcon.org/news/nairobi-communique-and-commitment

"We commit ourselves to defend essential truths of the biblical faith even when this defence threatens existing structures of human authority (Acts 5:29). For this reason, the bishops at GAFCON 2013 resolved ‘to affirm and endorse the position of the Primates’ Council in providing oversight in cases where provinces and dioceses compromise biblical faith, including the affirmation of a duly discerned call to ministry. This may involve ordination and consecration if the situation requires.’ "

Is this anything new, or just more of the same?

It sure doesn't sound like the kind of alternative but formal and solid Episcopal structure required for a church contemplating leaving the CoE but remaining Anglican...

*

Something new or more of the same? I fear the latter; in which case there will be no prepared place for ex-CoE conservative evangelicals in the Anglican church - which suggests that individual conservative large evangelical churches will probably leave the CoE and set-up on their own - and, over time, will almost certainly abandon the Episcopal structures (including ordination) and cease to be Anglicans.

*

Is being a mother to be regarded as a good thing; or not?

*

Since neutrality is, in fact, impossible - we have to take sides on all major issues: we must favour.

So, is being a mother a good thing, or not?

*

The Christian answer is that to be a mother in the context of marriage is a good thing.

The Christian evaluation of the goodness of motherhood is, ultimately, not-worldly, but a matter of eternity - not of pleasure but of purpose.

(Much more could be said, but let that suffice to sketch the framing of motherhood.) 

*

(Which is not-at-all to say married motherhood is always and under every circumstance a good thing, far from it; but that we must and will always start from a bipolar assumption against which evaluations are framed: so motherhood will, like it or not, be regarded either as good or bad - and for Christians it is good. For Mormons it is the highest behavioural 'good' for a woman - for Catholics it is a good, but lower than the celibate religious life.) 

*

The secular modern answer is that motherhood is a lifestyle choice.

The evaluation of motherhood is therefore done by the same criteria as other lifestyle choices - which is essentially related to hedonic prospects, the probable predicted outcome in terms of pleasure and pain, fulfilment and suffering.

From the secular perspective, motherhood (of course) has nothing to do with divine plans of ultimate purpose or eternity -it is not a profound thing - at most it might be said that motherhood (for a particular person) might be helpful - or even necessary - for their personal development.

*

As secular lifestyle choices go, motherhood has some advantage of being a biologically powerful experience (due to evolutionary heritage), but this also brings problems because of phenomena like 'bonding' and the forms of psychological dependence - which mean that mothers may be made miserable by bad things happening to their children, children's failure to be beautiful or status-enhancing; plus of course if a mother finds that her need for personal development requires her to abandon her marriage and children - then these biological factors may make her feel guilty and miserable.

(Note: From a secular modern perspective it is the woman's feelings of guilt and misery that are bad - not abandoning marriage and family in pursuit of self-development. Luckily, any such guilty and miserable women have therapy and antidepressants to make them feel better about things...) 

So, considered as a secular lifestyle choice, motherhood- and indeed marriage - are high risk investments; and (from this secular perspective) probably best undertaken by people who either thrive on psychodrama or are immune to guilt - so that dependence is avoided and responsibilities can be walked-away-from without sabotaging the primary and sacred goals of fulfilment and self-development...

*

These two perspectives on motherhood are - if not exactly opposed - about as far apart as it is possible to be: the Christian and secular framing of motherhood have almost nothing in common: the one is a end validated by other-worldly considerations, the other a means to an end validated by here-and-now emotions.

Of course, Christian motherhood is also often validated by here-and-now emotions of astonishing intensity - but from a secular perspective this is not due to intrinsic worth but merely to a biological heritage.

*

And there must be some secular women who have a very powerful, but theoretically inarticulate and publicly indefensible gut-feeling that marriage and motherhood are something of primary significance for women - far, far more than the normal run of lifestyle choices such as choice of job, car and house.

And this justifies their own existential choice to put motherhood near the centre of life - as far, far more important than other aspects of lifestyle.

But even if they do regard motherhood as more important for themselves; when it comes to organizing society (propaganda, laws, regulations etc) secular moderns have zero basis for 'assuming' that motherhood (in marriage) is what most women want to do, or ought to be able to do (if possible) - no way for organizationally privileging the status of motherhood...

Because all that would be prejudiced; it would entail setting-up and maintaining a society primarily organized around the needs of married couples and families - what would help them; and therefore necessarily a society according lower status to the single, and to childless couples.

*

If the secular modern frame is  being applied, it is difficult/ impossible to justify privileging one lifestyle choice - married motherhood - over another; especially because it would inevitably be one consequence that single and childless women would be made to some significant extent to feel less happy, second rate, either an object of sympathy or disapproval.

This is a real cost (both real, and a cost) of acknowledging the special transcendental value to motherhood.

To the modern Leftist, this cost seems absolutely intolerable. So motherhood is and must be treated as merely a lifestyle choice, on a par with choosing a college or a holiday.

And, since motherhood really is a very a high risk lifestyle choice, with vast potential to induce misery - by and large modern secular women women don't take the risk - and therefore focus on what else is left-over: careers, fashion, sex, friends, holidays... the stuff of a modern women's life as displayed and advocated daily by millions upon millions of mass media outputs.

*

...Which, if Christians are correct, means that women in modern secular culture are, en masse, rejecting reality in one of its most fundamental aspects; and instead embracing a very obviously false, very obviously fake, and very obviously unsatisfactory delusional existence.

Look around - it's everywhere!

*

Sunday, 27 October 2013

What happened in the 1960s?

*

The proper question is "What became apparent after the mid-1960s" - the mid-sixties was the point at which longer-term changes became unambiguously visible and increasingly dominant; it was the watershed.

The first answer to what happened is that from the mid-60s apostasy from Christianity became dominant - the West became mostly, then almost entirely, secular in its public discourse; then anti-Christian.

*

But this invites the question why? Why did the West abandon Christianity after all these centuries?

Or rather what for? For what did the West abandon Christianity?

The single word answer is SEX.

*

With the sexual revolution, in all its emerging facets - still ongoing and expanding - the Left (that is to say, fundamentally, organized anti-Christianity; and secondarily the forces of destruction unleashed by the end of Christianity), after trail and error with economics, meritocracy, egalitarianism etc. discovered its most powerful weapon: sex.

*

So what happened in the 1960s was the sexual revolution, and the purpose driving the sexual revolution was the destruction of Christianity and its removal from public discourse. And the reason for this is that the Left is anti-Christian.

And the reason for this is that the Left is anti-Good (i.e. evil); and knows that religion is the only effective long-term defense of the Good.

After the sexual revolution had done its work on Christianity, the Left was free to embark upon wide ranging destruction of anything and everything good, traditional, useful, long-termist - and most of all the multi-method destruction of the family - which is where we are now.

*

But the sexual revolution is at the root of it all. While that dominates, so does the Left, so does destruction. 

**

Note: when I say the Left is evil, I am not - in general- referring to Leftists. Everybody mixes good and evil and the balance or predominance is ard to discern and impossible to measure. I mean that Leftists are servants of evil, work to promote evil; they themselves, taken as detached individuals, might be kind and well behaved; and those who serve the Good might be less kind, less well-behaved - but THAT is not the point.

*

Saturday, 26 October 2013

"What does the ‘neo-’ in ‘neoreaction’ signify?"

*

This is a question asked at:

http://foseti.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/topics-of-interest

To which there is a short and very simple answer: 

The 'neo-' in neoreaction signifies 'not-'. 

*

If there ever was any serious doubt; every passing month shows more and more clearly that the neoreactionary, secular-right, alt-right, dark enlightenment movement are just a type of Leftists.

You can actually track the corruption of neoreaction, happening before your very eyes; in the going-down-the-tubes attitudes, style, focus and behaviour of individual bloggers. 

(If it looks like Leftism, talks like Leftism, and in general behaves like Leftism - that it is Leftism - not least because the rare Western non-Leftists stand-out from modernity like a beacon, or a sore-thumb.) 

*

Neoreactionaries dislike many aspects of mainstream Leftism, but not so much as they dislike religion.

Proof?

That the only real-life reactionary societies have been and are religious - and if reactionaries were serious about being reactionary they would simply choose their religion.

*

Instead they prefer the cut and thrust, snark and sarcasm of (characteristically Leftist) speculation on how, somehow, it might be possible to construct a sustainable non-religious reactionary society of a kind that never was seen (but which includes all they stuff they like best, and not the stuff they hate: no need for hard choices here!).

*

But why are neoreactionaries they so hostile to religion?

There are many possible reasons for being personally non-religious, as I know from recent personal experience; but the answer is to become a seeker.

It is hard to rationalize or even excuse anti-religiousness in anyone who wants their self-defined 'reaction' to be serious, or to be taken-seriously.

However, whichever anti-religious reason applies in each particular instance, the conclusion remains the same: neoreactionaries are more serious about their anti-religion than about their pro-reaction - hence the 'neo-'.

See also: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/neoreactionaries-versus-religious.html  


**

But what about the cadre of supposedly-religious neoreactionaries? What indeed... What do they hope to get from this unequal alliance? Could be they are simply mistaken in their assumption of a possible synergy between tough-minded- this-worldly hedonism on the one hand; and religion on the other. Or it could be they are led astray by the daily excitements and distractions, the status fun and games, the guilty pleasures of swearing and salaciousness - and the opportunities and inducements to hatred and hard-line-ism 'in a good cause'?

*

Friday, 25 October 2013

What is the *real* reason why the New Left, Politically Correct elites are so vehemently against eugenics?

*

The real reason for the New Left opposition to eugenics (beyond strategic electoral demographics) has nothing to do with preventing the state from imposing low fertility upon the lower orders (after all, the politically correct see no limit to the state's right to control people, and the Left care nothing for the freedom of the lower orders).

The modern ruling class opposition to eugenics has almost-everything to do with preventing the state from enforcing high fertility upon the higher orders - ie. the PC elite themselves.

*

In other words, eugenics is about two things - increasing the differential representation of beneficial genes in the gene pool, and reducing or eliminating the proportion of deleterious genes in the gene pool; and in terms of human fertility this implies higher fertility for the most able and best-behaved, as well as lower fertility for the least able and worst-behaved.

*

Note added:

It is my contention that the modern Leftist elites are not really bothered about the fertility of other people; they don't talk or write about this topic and don't lose sleep over it (although they probably should); and they would naturally regard themselves and people like themselves as having the highest aptitudes and best attitudes; however, they are also extremely concerned with controlling, delaying and in general suppressing their own fertility (and duties and responsibilities).

Therefore they dishonestly deny that intelligence and personality are substantially heritable - because this gets them off the hook!

Anything which would tend to pressure the modern elites to focus on marrying much younger, staying married, and quickly start having children, up to three or more...

Well... anything of that kind is regarded with fear and loathing - whether it be eugenics or traditional religion.

**

NOTE: I personally am against eugenics, because I am a Christian.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/why-eugenics-is-bad-and-anti-eugenics.html

And I am in favour of making marriage and family a major focus of national policy; and I also believe that family size should be constrained by family resources - so, for these reasons - pro-natalism tempered by self-sufficiency, in general (with exceptions) I approve greater fertility/ larger families for the more wealthy than for the poorer. But (although in some ways similar) that is not eugenics, because it is not aiming to influence the gene pool. 

*

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The three most important issues in The West now

*

1. Religion.

Unless The West becomes religious again, then nothing can be done - because our lack of religion has made us crazy. This must come first.

2. Demography.

Population growth and migration - and the nature and characteristics of populations - is by far the most important and powerful 'economic' factor in the world. Never has the global population been so big, so rapidly growing in real terms, so rapidly changing in composition, so old in some places and young in others; and never has the movement of peoples occurred on such a vast and fast scale.

3. Bureaucracy.

...must be eliminated. We must return to individual people taking all significant decisions, and not groups, committees, voters etc. Otherwise - no matter what we 'know' about the problems, and no matter how sane we may be as individuals - then we will continue incrementally to be destroyed by decisions that are necessarily irresponsible, short-termist, irrational, blame avoiding - nonsensical.

*

Religious belief is like love, not science

*

What does it mean to say that you believe that something is true?

It means that you live-by it (belief means to live-by).

*

So, when I believe that my mother loved me, I mean that that truth was what I lived by.

I believed it as a whole; and this belief was not made up from observation, evidence, analysis.

I did not treat it as a scientific hypothesis. If I had treated my mother's love as a scientific hypothesis to be investigated, and compared with alternative hypotheses, and always kept open to doubt and revision; then I would not have believed she loved me.

*

What does is mean to believe that the Bible is true?

Something closely analogous. It means to live-by the Bible, as a whole.

It means precisely not to regard the Bible as an assembly series of hypothetical propositions for open-ended scientific investigation; 

*

When I say that my mother loved me, does this mean that I think you could chop-up this love into all the specific moments of a human life, which could be analysed and individually tested, and where conclusive evidence of 'love' could be detected, and where no alternative hypotheses were viable? 

Of course not, that is silly - that is a silly, unserious, obscene way to talk about the subject.

*

The love of a Mother is not the kind of think to pick-apart and examine moment-by-moment, to test empirically against alternative hypotheses, and so on - in fact, if you are doing this then you are not believing that your Mother loves you.

To behave like that, is showing by your behaviour that you do not believe - that is not how people behave that believe.

*

What about the Bible? If you believe the Bible is true, does that mean - should that mean - that you are open to scientific investigation of the Bible as the test for validity of belief; that you regard it as appropriate, perhaps necessary to cut-up the Bible into little pieces, into detachable propositions, or into themes, or focus upon micro-translation issues - on the basis that you will believe only if it is established that every-which-way you slice the Bible you are certain of the verifiable factuality and internal consistency of the whole lot?

No - because if you do that, then you do not believe in the truth of the Bible - you show by your behaviour that you do not believe.

In behaving like that, you have ceased to believe; you have ensured that you never can believe in the way that you should believe.

You can only believe (at best) in the way a scientist believes - which is not to live-by a belief, but to regard the 'believed-in' as an object for investigation.  

*

To believe in the truth of religion is, properly, a behaviour analogous to belief that your Mother loves you, it is not analogous to science, philosophy or any other scholarly discipline.

This is especially the case for Christians; where love is the proper medium of belief; and where the primary (indispensable) metaphor of divinity is relational: God our Father, Christ His Son, ourselves as His Children.

*

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Too much sarky snark - Gandalf versus Saruman

*

It's not just swearing and cussing; but I'm fed-up of sarcastic snark on the internet, and indeed everywhere!

(I'm fed up of it mostly in myself.)

And I can't be bothered anymore with blogs (or novels, or newspapers, or TV, or movies, or science, or literature, or songs or anything) based on sarky snark.

*

Good-natured ribbing and teasing (of those who don't mind): great!; irritability and even short outbursts of bad temper: okay, nobody's perfect - but sark and snark are a particularly insidious and addictive form of evil.

It's the difference between Gandalf and Saruman.

‘So you have come, Gandalf,’ [Saruman] said to me gravely; but in his eyes there seemed to be a white light, as if a cold laughter was in his heart.

‘Yes, I have come,’ I said. ‘I have come for your aid, Saruman the White.’

And that title seemed to anger him.‘Have you indeed, Gandalf the Grey!’ he scoffed. ‘For aid? It has seldom been heard of that Gandalf the Grey sought for aid, one so cunning and so wise, wandering about the lands, and concerning himself in every business, whether it belongs to him or not.’

*

So, if something is dominated by sark or snark, chances are I won't be bothering with it in future.

Better ways to spend my time.

(e.g. Doing nothing but stare into space is better.)

*

My views on divine providence

*

I do have views on what I understand to be 'God's plan' or 'God's hopes' about the nature and role of some churches and nations - but there is no possibility of persuading other people of the correctness of my beliefs, and it would be dangerous to try.

So I will not argue or defend these views - nor will I respond to challenges or requests to do so; I merely state them.

For what they are worth; I believe that the way God works in history is to support the best possibilities as they emerge through human choices; but people often, usually, choose wickedness,  - later if not sooner - often encouraged by demonic influences - and therefore these plans and hopes get sabotaged and new ones must be launched.

*

I presume that the focus of world Christianity was the Roman Empire and its continuation in Constantinople then Moscow - but that God foresaw how this was crumbling towards destruction (which actually happened, from evil choices encouraged by demonic influences, in 1917).

I believe God also supported the best manifestations of the Western breakaway churches, including the (many) good features of the Reformation; and including the early Church of England translations of scriptures (to form a basis for English-speaking Christians).

I also believe that God enabled and has sustained the Mormon church - and its 'timing' to emerge as so many other Christian churches in the West are corrupting, crumbling and dying.

*

The focus of Christianity has roots, but also has moved around the world; the Holy Ghost being most active at one place at one time, and another place at another time - especially in relation to anything which is or may become a Christian empire.

In this sense I think it likely that the USA both has been, and was meant to become, the focus of world Christianity - at least since the apostasy and de facto secularization (and then decline) of the British Empire.

This kind of thing has various indices - but missionary activity is one of them. Britain was the main source of missionaries until this 'role' was taken over by the US - and Britain has been a major recipient of missionary activity since the mid-20th century.

But of course, the nation of the USA has not lived-up-to these hopes (although until recent decades there was hope that it might) and has now become (and is becoming ever more so) via the mass media perhaps the most significant anti-Christian influence in the world.

*

So I am sure that there is divine providence, but not destiny, nor fate - Men may sabotage almost anything Good, if and when they choose evil; they may also repent (since evil cannot be complete, and in Men there is always an incorrupt residue, a fragment of Goodness, that cannot be obliterated).

While I am not sure I understand providence, neither am I convinced that other people understand it better than me - especially when such people clearly display hard-heartedness, lust for destruction and domination, and hatred when discussing these matters (as do so many supposedly orthodox or traditional 'Christian' bloggers and commenters!).

I am also sure that we each need to do our best to understand the broad workings of providence - to feel the movement and direction of the Holy Ghost - by the discernment of the heart; especially so as to avoid inadvertently sabotaging providence by fighting against God's actual energies, plans and hopes.

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GAFCON 2013

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The Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON - http://gafcon.org ) is currently happening in Kenya; and I find myself waiting with a mixture of hope and trepidation; because I suspect that these few days will determine whether anything of significant value can be salvaged from that wreck of corruption which is the Church of England.

Most of what is both good and hopeful (with possibilities of growth) in the Anglican communion is focused in GAFCON, as epitomized by its chairman (and the president of the current conference) the Archbishop of Kenya, Eliud Wabukala.

If you read some of the speeches, you will see that most are excellent; but be sure to leave-out the usual wicked-weaselling boiler-plate-bureaucratic speech by Archbishop Justin Welby; who was not actually at the conference but did his best to steal the wind and cast a dense pall of political correctness over the proceedings.

The fascinating political implication of GAFCON is that the only realistic hope of salvaging a Christian remnant from the Church of England is the swift development of a new Episcopal structure to sustain those few solidly-Christian churches that remain in the Church of England; a structure that would be administered from the 'Global South'; that is from the third world rather than Canterbury, York and London.

There is a sense of irony about the prospect - or rather just a hope - of England being evangelized by missionary activity and Episcopal oversight from the countries where a century ago we were sending missionaries; but there is no real debate about where the spiritual authority - the truest and most devout Christianity - lies in the Anglican communion; and there may still be a slender thread of hope for a part of the C of E, if administrative authority can be taken-away from the apostates, and restored to real Christian Bishops.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tolkien failing to get to Faery...

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-wind-siezes-them-and-drives-them.html

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Motivation in the modern world

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Perhaps the deepest problem in the modern world is lack of motivation.

It is lack of motivation which can be argued to lie behind the more obvious short-termist hedonism and expedient cowardice which dominates modern public life.

It is the lack of motivation which leads all of the developed world to choose sub-replacement fertility; we lack even the motivation necessary to reproduce ourselves.

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What is needed is a motivation which is less short-termist and pleasure orientated - which is prepared to suffer and strive for Goodness.

But motivation is a means, not an end; one cannot be 'motivated' in a vacuum or without an object - and modern culture is a vacuum.

One can only be motivated towards some-thing or -things - and the object of motivation must seem worthwhile in order to overcome the distractions, short-termist pleasures, and expedient pressures of modern life.

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The average answer to this need for motivation - for most people most of the time - is religion (including, but not necessarily, Christianity); and it is the absence of religion that is demotivating the developed world.

It is the lack of religion which renders us demotivated into sub-fertility; and devout, traditional religion is the only known antidote to sub-fertility in modern societies.

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So how does motivation work to overcome the short-termist, hedonistic, expedient?

Well, the wrong answer is that it allows people to 'defer satisfactions'.

Not True. False.

In reality the only thing which enables us to overcome a passion is a stronger passion; the only way to overcome a pleasurable temptation is the even-greater happiness to be gained by living in accordance with longer term goals of extreme happiness.

Thus religious passion trumps worldly passions, and the here-and-now deeply-joyous hope of eternal happiness beats-back the relatively feeble temptations of pleasurable distractions.

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So, potentially, long termism is ultimately not a state of worldly self-denial, sacrificing here-and-now happiness in pursuit of remote-happiness in a hoped-for life to come; rather long-termism is a consequence of the greater here-and-now and currently-experienced happiness, consequent upon living a strategic worldly life in anticipation of the joyous life to come.

It is a greater short-term pleasure of living a religiously motivated life which renders controllable the lesser short-termist pleasures of a life devoted merely to avoiding suffering and passing the time as pleasantly as possible.

It is the current satisfaction of working strategically towards a truly satisfying goal that leads to happiness; while chasing after instant pleasure, detached from any valued objective, is a recipe for jadedness, aggressive pursuit of ever feebler satisfactions, and self-disgust.

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Monday, 21 October 2013

What advantage is there to living in an atheist society? (compared with Christian)

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Note: I am talking about an atheist society - which has clear and discernible characteristics; and I am not talking about every single individual self-described atheist - atheists of course vary extremely widely.

As do Christians; and in fact most modern Christians are indistinguishable form atheists expect in terms of a few superficial 'lifestyle' features.

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So what advantages are there to being an atheist society?



Well, let us first consider the dis-advantages.

These relate to the transcendental 'Goods' of Virtue, Beauty and Truth:

1. Virtue. Atheist societies are very recent - only abut a century old; but already include most of the most evil societies in the history of the world - the Soviet Union, Mao's China, Germany under National Socialism, the communist regimes of Pol Pot and current North Korea.

So atheism is at best a big disadvantage if you want a virtuous society; and quite possibly makes a virtuous society impossible.

(Of course, this is obscured because atheist societies are perfectly free to redefine evil as good - as in all the above examples.)

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2. Beauty. From the industrial revolution onwards, the rise of secularism has - on the whole - correlated with the decline of beauty and the rise of ugliness. Any backlash against this decline in the beautiful has tended to be religious (if not necessarily Christian).

(Again, this is obscured since atheism is free to redefine the ugly as beautiful; so the arts have become more and more purposefully ugly, while claiming that this deliberately evoked disgust, boredom and alienation is actually a higher and more refined type of beauty.)

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3. Truth. The most fully atheist societies are the least honest; since they have no reason for being honest about anything at any time - except expediency, and it is often expedient to lie.

The totalitarian atheist dictatorships are therefore a bye word for systematic falsehood; and modern secular Western societies have made giant strides in the same direction in the past half century.

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We could also say that atheist societies are more miserable than Christian societies; and almost certainly atheists are on average much less-happy than devout Christians.

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So, in conclusion: atheist societies are - on the whole - lying, ugly, evil and miserable.

So! What are their advantages?

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Well, the main advantage of secularism - and this is an advantage which overwhelms all disadvantages for increasing numbers of people; is that in an atheist society there is no compelling reason not to do whatever it is you want to do, and to do it here and now; if you get the opportunity and can get away with it.

And there we have it - Ladies and Gentlemen!

The trump card advantage for atheist societies over all other previous and possible societies.

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Timescale for testing scientific hypotheses: the longer the timescale of hypothetical change, the longer it takes to test the hypothesis

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I learned from medicine that it is much harder, sometimes in practice impossible, to test therapeutic claims for drugs and treatments which are supposed to affect long-term and unpredictable processes.

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For example, it was easy to show that lithium had a calming effect in mania, but very difficult to show that when lithium is taken long-term ('prophylactically') it can (probably, potentially, and with severe disadvantages and side effects) reduce the frequency of manic episodes.

But the 'mood stabilizing drugs' which have been marketed so successfully to replace lithium were adopted within a timescale of years, not decades, and therefore before there had been any possibility of testing their effectiveness in the treatment of such a long-term and variable condition as mania.

Therefore we know for sure these drugs were in fact (not as a matter of opinion) adopted without evidence, on the basis of hype.

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Another medical example was the supposed effects of diet changes on the incidence of coronary heart disease.

These dietary changes (low cholesterol, high polyunsaturates, low fat overall etc) were recommended and implemented at a population level long before there had been any possibility of testing whether they a.) worked or b.) were overall beneficial - since this would have taken decades to establish.

Therefore we know for sure that these dietary changes (and others such as the eating of 'five a day' fruits and vegetables) were in fact adopted without evidence and on the basis of hype.

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The necessary and sufficient ground for rejecting the claims of the advocates of 'man-made climate change' is that there is no way they could possibly know whether their claims are true.

(Or to put it the other way about: it is im-possible - i.e. not-possible, i.e. literally beyond possibility - for the climate change activists to know what they claim to know.)

In other words, these people are claiming to possess knowledge truly vast in its scope: they claim to be able to understand, predict and influence the climate of the earth. It is not a matter of whether they are right or wrong in their claims - but that their claims are pre-evidential; they have not even reached the level of being able to discuss whether they are right or wrong.

They are just ideas, notions, suggestions - not even formulated sufficiently to count as formal-hypotheses. 

Because of the very large temporal (year-by-year) variation in climate/ temperatures, the timescale over which one can be confident of measuring a climate trend is of the order of many years - in fact, a few decades.

In other words, because temperature varies so widely according to time and place, we could not know whether we really understood the causes, really could predict the future, and really could engineer global climate without many decades of measurement and testing of hypotheses.

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It follows that the timescale of 'a few decades' would also be the absolute minimum time over which it could be tested whether hypotheses/ models of climate change were valid.

Thus it is necessary to: 1. put forward a specific hypothetical model of climate change, 2. use the model make precise predictions of future climate, and 3. measure future climate over a period of decades to compare the predictions of the model with what is observed.

Only if future observations matched with predictions would it be reasonable to assert that the model of climate change was accurate; and only if the model was accurate in these predictions would it be reasonable to believe that understanding of the causes of global climate had been achieved; and only if changes (against trend) had been mapped against outcomes would it be possible legitimately to claim that by changing the magnitude of these causes there was any genuine possibility of really controlling the earth's climate.

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But this necessary process, lasting a few decades, was not followed. There never was a decades-long period between the construction of hypothetical climate models and their testing.

Therefore, we know for sure that the theories of anthropogenic climate change, the focus on carbon dioxide, the vast multi-trillion dollar government programs to change the world economy to prevent global warming -  all of these and the rest of it was in fact (and not as a matter of opinion) adopted without evidence, on the basis of hype.

Without this necessary period of testing; claims to be able to understand the causes of climate, predict future climate changes, and influence the future global climate have zero validity.

As the TV astronomer Patrick Moore used to say when he had reached the limits of solid knowledge: We just don't know

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NOTE:

Whether there has been global warming in recent decades (in the past, from here backwards) is a matter of evidence and interpretation.

But, whether there will be (in the future, from now onwards) global warming - and whether future climate change is controllable by human action - is unknown, a matter of sheer assertion, purely conjectural.

And this is not just a matter of opinion. To disagree is proof of either scientific incompetence or personal dishonesty (or both).