Tuesday, 8/1/17

  1. “Government Schools”
  2. What could possibly go wrong?
  3. Talk to the Elephant
  4. Cecile Richards’ Freudian slip
  5. Weighing the probabilities


Confession: My child attends a classical Christian school. More confession: We chose this for our child because we believe that what public schools value as true, good, and beautiful do not align with what we believe is true, good, and beautiful. It’s a conflict of visions, and in America, we’re blessed to have options.

We teach our child about diversity and seek to live it out. We also want our child to have an education foundation that prioritizes our Christian faith, while also seeing its relevance to modern society’s deepest, metaphysical questions. That’s our personal conviction arrived at by prayer, study, and conscience. Others are free to disagree.

(Andrew T. Walker, responding to an ugly piece of propaganda in the New York Times.)

Why do libertarians and Christians intentionally increasingly use the term “government schools” to describe public education? First, because it’s true. Public schools are government schools. Second, because it’s clarifying. Too many Americans are stuck in a time warp, believing that the local school is somehow “their” school. They don’t understand that public education is increasingly centralized — teaching a uniform curriculum, teaching a particular, secular set of values, and following priorities set in Washington, not by their local school board. The phrase is helpful for breaking through idealism and getting parents to analyze and understand the gritty reality of modern public education. The phrase works.

And so it must be squashed. And there’s no better way to discredit any modern idea than by tying it to a Confederate past. It’s certainly easier than addressing the core of the fundamental idea — that it’s better for America if more parents enjoy the educational choices that wealthy progressives take for granted.

Wealthy Americans have enormous educational advantages. They can afford private-school tuition (and many do just that). They can afford homes in the best school districts. They can employ private tutors and create the most lavish and interactive home-schooling experience. The rest of America? They’re typically reduced to no choice at all. There’s the mediocre public school in the moderately priced neighborhood or the dreadful school in the cheapest district. That’s it. There is nothing else.

(David French responding to the same piece)

H/T Rod Dreher. Both Walker and French nail it, and French’s may be the more important point rhetorically: If you think “the public” still controls “public schools,” you’re delusional or are confusing the government with the public.


Wire reported this week:

In new guidelines issued on the official Planned Parenthood website, the federally subsidized corporation explains how parents should talk to their pre-schoolers about gender roles, sexuality, masturbation, and transgenderism, even offering tips on how to tell if your toddler “is transgender or gender nonconforming.”

Filling the head of your three-year-old child who thought he was a dinosaur last week with confusing messages about sex and gender? What could possibly go wrong.

(Bethany Mandel, Trump’s Transgender Tweets Resonate with Americans, National Review)


The moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt developed a powerful analogy to explain human decision-making called the Rider and the Elephant. In the analogy, the rider is our logical side, the conscious part of our brains that we’re aware of … We’d all like to think that we’re dominated by the rider but, of course, we’re not.

What we’re dominated by — what we are actually made up of — is the elephant. It’s the automatic reactions that we have, stuff so ingrained in who we are and what we do that we’re not even aware of it. If you think you are a thoughtful, rational person whose days to day actions and impulses are governed primarily by logic, I challenge you to read Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. You, like me, are governed almost exclusively by your base impulses.

The idea of the rider and the elephant is not that we’re powerless, but that our logic — to be followed — needs to appeal to our base instincts. The rider can try to convince the elephant where to go, but if the elephant is not in agreement, it will go where it wants. In a battle of head versus heart, the heart has an easier task.

And to take it a step further, when we try and persuade someone else to change their mind, we won’t get far trying to persuade their rider. We actually need to appeal to their elephant, to their intutitve sense of how they see the world.

This is why issues like climate change are so impossible. Those who believe we need urgent action on climate change cite studies as the basis of their beliefs, yet the notion that we should consume less, lower our environmental impact and adopt redistributive policies on an international scale is something that intutively appeals to most of their elephants. They would want these actions whether the conclusions of science demanded them or not. So is the science a motivating factor or an after-the-fact justification? (For those of you who think it doesn’t matter, it does if you’re trying to persuade others.)

For those who are skeptcial of climate science, the same dynamics apply. There are no number of scientific studies — no number of PhD’s or Nobel prize winners — that will convince someone whose has an ingrained skepticism of government action, a belief in our modern capitalist systems and a natural inclination to resist change. This elephant is so maddening to some that even President Obama, a decent man not given to gratuitous cheap shots, would taunt skeptics as part of the “flat earth society.” This label surely convinced more people that a flat earth was a possibility than ever persuaded skeptics to embrace climate science. That is the nature of the elephant/rider relationship.

Instead of throwing studies and statistics at each other in a battle of the riders, we actually need to speak to each other’s elephants. Or, more precisely, we need to listen and try to understand the other’s elephant. Only then can we find real common ground that we can build upon. Only then can we change minds.

(Chuck Marohn) Marohn goes on to give a recent example of his own failure to talk to the elephant: his immediate and negative reaction to Trump’s announcement that Foxconn was going to do a big plant in Wisconsin.


Did the President of Planned Parenthood know what she was tweeting?

Almost certainly not.

But let’s give credit where credit is due. When luminaries everywhere have flicked off the lights in their noggins, Cecile Richards shone the torch of truth onto the most controversial issue of the day: transgenderism.

Can there be anything more heteronormative, more supportive of the archaic and oppressive theory of gender binarism than the offensive words “brothers” and “sisters”? By using this fundamental binary distinction Ms Richards was quietly trashing all of the other 54 genders, from Genderqueer to Pangender to Trans* Woman. All of them. Into the rubbish bin of history.

Ms Richards’s insightful tweet may only have been 22 words long, but it reminded all of her 149,000 followers on Twitter that the complementary duality of male and female, man and woman, boy and girl, or brother and sister is simply inescapable. Human beings are born as one or the other. The distinction is embedded in their bodies, their psyche, their DNA, even the bacteria in their gut.



Probability that Trump’s Evangelical sycophants (especially those who can always be counted on to defend the indefensible to the MSM reporters who have them in their rolodexes) are helping to drive the rising levels of self-declared atheism or religious disaffiliation: 95%+.

But the loss of souls is a small price to pay for (the illusion of) gaining a world of political power, right?

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.