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The Cultural Revolution hits a Canadian university: grad student teacher bullied for promoting free discussion in her class

Why Evolution Is True

Wilfred Laurier University is a public university in Waterloo, Ontario, and has just become the target of international opprobrium after its persecution of a graduate teaching assistant became public this week. The teaching assistant, 22 year old Lindsay Shepherd, is now one of my heroes for standing up for the principles of free speech and pushing back against the bullying of her professors and the University who want Suppressed Speech.  Here she is:

Lindsay Shepherd. Photo by David Bebee

What happened? Well, as reported by several sources, including the Globe and Mail, Shepherd, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in cultural analysis and social theory, was teaching a tutorial on language to first year students when the subject of personal pronouns arose. As you may have heard, this year Canada passed a federal law that added “gender identity and gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act (“Bill…

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The complaint against Lindsay Shepherd at Wifrid Laurier University was by its LGBT Center

Why Evolution Is True

I’ve posted several times about Lindsay Shepherd, a grad student at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Canada.  Shepherd got in trouble with her advisor and the school because in the class she was t.a.ing, she played a short clip from The Agenda showing Jordan Peterson questioning the need to use special pronouns for students not identifying as male or female. Shepherd also showed a counter clip of Nicholas Matte arguing against Peterson, and in fact Shepherd disagrees with Peterson’s views and was simply trying to stimulate discussion in a communications class. For that she got into trouble, and was interrogated threateningly by two professors and a university official. Fortunately, Shepherd secretly (but legally) recorded her inquisition on her computer, and the bullying by the University people was so ridiculous that when the recording was released by the press, WLU looked really stupid and clueless. The President of WLU, as well…

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Equal Pay for Equal Work: The New/Old Trojan Horse; Unfairness

Notes On Liberty

I am a sore loser. Thoughts of re-emigration dance around in my head. However, I am too old. And the very mechanism that I fear is trapping this whole society has entrapped me: I am dependent on Medicare which is not transportable. I am a ward of the federal government which took loads of my money for forty years and turned it against me, like a two-bit dope-dealer. Like other conservatives I know, I am tempted by the option of personal, psychological secession from the new Obama Peronista United States. But, finally, there is nothing to do right now but to continue to sound a voice of reason and of conscience in the hope that it will reach some of the inner children Pres. Obama has been singing to.

(Personally, I make it a practice to take my inner-child out every so often and to beat his ass.)

President Obama…

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On Antitrust, the Sherman Act and Accepted Wisdom

Notes On Liberty

I am generally skeptical of “accepted wisdom” on many policy debates. People involved in policy-making are generally politicians who carefully craft justifications (i.e. cover stories) where self-interest and common good cannot be disentangled easily.  These justifications can easily become “accepted wisdom” even if incorrect. I am not saying that “accepted wisdom” is without value or that it is always wrong, but more often than not it is accepted at face value without question.

My favorite example is “antitrust”.  In the United States, the Sherman Act (the antitrust bill) was first introduced in 1889 (passed in 1890). The justification often given is that it was meant to promote competition as proposed by economists. However, as often pointed out, the bill was passed well before the topic of competition in economics had been unified into a theoretical body.  It was also rooted in protectionist motives. Moreover, the bill was passed after…

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Review: Enlightenment Now

Saloni's blog

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress is the newest book by Steven Pinker, a Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and, probably unsurprisingly, my favourite writer and thinker.

Its aim is straightforward in one sense – that it is a manifesto aiming to show how far human progress has come and how we can use reason, science and humanism to continue these improvements – but immensely difficult in another, aimed to convince a general audience that is overwhelmingly unaware of the historical global declines in poverty and improvements in other indicators of human progress, and one that is susceptible to cognitive biases and partisan beliefs that cloud their (our) judgment.

Of course, not all readers will be uninformed or unaware of this progress, or disagree substantially with Pinker’s political beliefs, but the clarity, breadth and passion infused into the book make it…

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Virtue Signaling as a Vicious Circle

Science Matters

A recent article reveals how perverse is the trendy pattern of virtue signaling. Ron Ross observes examples of this growing substitute for ethical behavior, adding perspective and raising concerns. His essay at the American Spectator is The Power and Prevalence of Virtue Signaling  Excerpts below with my headings, bolds and images.

Puzzling Events Explained by Virtue signaling

One key to understanding much of the bewildering behavior we see around us is to recognize the power and popularity of “virtue signaling.” Keeping virtue signaling in mind will help you understand a lot of behavior that otherwise makes no sense.

What, for example, is the point of removing Confederate statues or attempting to disown the country’s Founding Fathers because some were slave owners? It makes sense if your objective is to be sanctimonious. You make yourself feel better by looking down your nose at Thomas Jefferson.

Virtue signaling is the modern…

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Advocating for the CPTPP

croaking cassandra

A couple of days ago MFAT released its National Interest Analysis of the new CPTPP preferential trade, investment (and all manner of other stuff) agreement.  Unsurprisingly, given MFAT’s own heavy involvement in negotiating the agreement for the government of the day, MFAT concludes that New Zealand should sign the agreement.

They may well be correct that, taking all the aspects of the agreement together, and recognising that the other countries would probably have gone ahead even if New Zealand hadn’t signed, entering the now-concluded agreement would be in the best interests of New Zealanders as a whole.    But the National Interest Analysis (NIA) isn’t the resource an interested and informed citizen would turn to for a considered assessment of all the pros and cons.  The NIA is really best seen as an advocacy document, written to make the government’s case.    In particular, the document seems targeted to the…

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