Did the Tories Start an Advertising Campaign to Discredit Sociology in the 1970s-80s?

I heard this from a friend of mine, who has an MA in Cultural Studies. He told me that in the 1970s, the Tories paid Maggie’s favourite advertisers, Saatchi & Saatchi, to start an advertising campaign designed to discredit sociology. The Tories wanted to turn the British public against the subject by presenting it as an intellectually fraudulent pseudo-subject, dominated by Marxists. To do this, Saatchi & Saatchi placed comments sneering at, or otherwise disparaging the subject in other adverts. One of these, my friend claimed, was the advert for BT with Maureen Lipman, in which the actress is delighted that her son has got an ‘ology’, in this case a qualification in sociology.

Cultural Studies arose as a reaction to it, combining some social history with feminist and left-wing cultural criticism, including the French postmodern philosophers Julia Kristeva, Foucault, Derrida and Lacan. While there was a reaction against postmodernism in the 1990s, such as in Michael Sokal’s and Jean Bricmont’s Intellectual Impostures, Cultural Studies was left largely alone. This was because it’s research and conclusions were qualitative, rather than quantitative. It presented a series opinions on the nature of society, but, unlike sociology, it was not dominated by statistics, which had the potential to show unpalatable truths that the Tories would like to hide.

I’d be interested in finding out more about this. For as long as I can remember, sociology has had that image of a non-subject, taught in modish redbrick universities by Communists. And it’s true that Marx has been called the founder of sociology because of his research trying to show how the economic structure of society determined its overall form. However, others have suggested that the origins of sociology go further back to Auguste Comte, an atheist, who wished to establish a ‘religious of humanity’ with its own rituals and priesthood, and who also advocated the use of statistics for investigating social conditions.

One of the other major influences on sociology was Emile Durckheim, the founder of fuctionalism. This is the view that society functions somewhat like a machine or organism, with different parts of it performing different functions according to the needs of society as a whole. From what I understand, Durckheim was a socialist, but not a Marxist.

There’s also a very strong relationship with anthropology, which began long before Marx, and whose major 20th century influence was Boleslaw Malinowski. Malinowski was the creator of ‘participant observation’, the view that anthropologists should ‘get off the missionaries’ veranda’ and live amongst the people they are researching, in order to experience their way of life and see the world and their culture from their point of view. Or as close to it as possible. Ethnographers don’t just research the lives and customs of primal societies in the Developing World. They are also active researching different social groups and subcultures in developed countries like Britain, America and Europe. One aspect of this project was the establishment of Mass Observation in the ’30s. This was founded by a group of anthropologists, who complained that less was known about the lives of ordinary people in this country, than about tribes in remote Africa or Asia, for example. They therefore set about trying to correct this by carrying out research into what ordinary working class Brits were doing.

Some of this research was very bizarre. A book came out on Mass Observation in 1985, and I can remember reading a review of it in the Observer. One bit of research consisted of one of the anthropologists going into the toilets in a pub and timing how long it took the men there to use the urinal. I wonder how the man avoided being beaten up, or arrested. Nevertheless, they did much valuable research, some of which formed the basis for the first television documentaries on the British working class made in the 1950s.

And even in the 1980s, not every Tory stalwart was convinced that sociology was dominated by Commies. I can remember reading a piece in the Torygraph in 1986/7, in which one female Tory stated that while sociology had a reputation for left-wing jargon and viewpoints, ‘there was nothing more Conservative’.

The story that the Tories made a deliberate effort to discredit sociology isn’t one that I’ve heard before, but it does ring true. As does my friend’s opinion that they left Cultural Studies alone because it didn’t back up its critique with statistical facts, or at least, not to the same extent as sociology. Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, has said there that it seemed to him that postmodernism was a retreat from actively critiquing and combating modern capitalism and Conservatism. Instead of presenting a clear expose of the way elite groups and corporations ran governments in order to reinforce the class structure and keep the working class, the poor and other marginalized groups in their place, exploited at the bottom of the social hierarchy, postmodernism instead produced mountains of largely unreadable and intellectually pretentious text, much of which was deliberately obscure. The leading postmodernists were left-wing, but the obscurity of their prose meant that to some they had little to say of any real political value. That was the attitude of Michael Sokal, a scientist of very left-wing opinions, who had resigned from his career in American academia to teach mathematics in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas.

In recent years Cultural Studies has been attacked by the right in its turn. Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have declared that it, and related subjects, are full of Gramscian Marxists attacking traditional western society in order to introduce Communism. This has in turn resulted in anyone, who offers any kind of left-wing critique of Conservativism or traditional western society being denounced as a ‘cultural Marxist’.

My friend was convinced that the Saatchi campaign against sociology was part of a wider Thatcherite assault on intellectual freedom in the universities. Thatcher was rabidly anti-Communist, and passed legislation that tried to make it illegal for Marxists, or members of Marxist organisations, to hold tenure at universities. Hence the rise of people calling themselves ‘Marxian’. It was a legalistic device by which academics, who held Marxist views, described themselves as ‘cultural Marxists’, that is, people who had a Marxist culture, which allowed them to hold on to their jobs.

If it is true that Maggie and the Saatchis tried to discredit sociology, then it shows just how afraid the Tories were of their favourite economic theories being discredited by inconvenient fact. As indeed they have been for a very long time. I can remember how they began redefining unemployment to create the false impression that it had decreased when I was at school back in the 1980s. It also shows how deeply, profoundly anti-intellectual Conservatism is. There’s no particularly surprise there. The philosopher Roger Scruton in his book on the new Conservatism in the 1980s stated quite clearly that it wasn’t intellectual, but based on respect for tradition. And more recently we’ve seen a succession of Republican administrations in America attacking the teaching of evolution in schools and trying to suppress the evidence for climate change.

The Tories don’t just rely on propaganda and distorted news to support their rule. They have also been actively engaged in censoring and using propaganda in order to spread ignorance and misinformation against established academic disciplines. Their goal is to keep ordinary working people poor and uninformed. They are a party of anti-intellectuals, who aim to rule partly by spreading stupidity and ignorance.

New Idea Parade #9

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/10/2017 - 11:29pm in



Kevin Logan’s Critique of Vox Day and His Summary of Alt Right Principles

Kevin Logan is a British male feminist, whose Descent of the Manosphere vlog critically discusses various members of the men’s movement and other parts of the American and British far right, and exposes them for the utterly reprehensible human beings they really are.

In this video, he attacks and criticizes the American alt-right blogger and vlogger, Vox Day. Vox Day is a former newspaper columnist, an SF/Fantasy writer, and the author of a statement of the fundamental principles of the Alt Right. The Alt-Right is a diverse and often contradictory movement, and so there’s considerable disagreement amongst its members on what it actually stands. But Day’s summary of its principles have received the approval of its leading members, including Richard Spencer.

In the video Logan takes the viewer through Day’s ideas and bizarre personality, pointing out his intellectual vanity – he keeps harping on about how high an IQ he has, and how he used to be a nationally syndicated columnist for the tech pages of a paper in Minnesota. He’s also a massive fan of Donald Trump, whom he lauds, without irony, as ‘the God Emperor’, presumably like Leto Atreides, the half-sandworm ruler of the universe in the Dune sequel, God Emperor of Dune. So enamoured is he of Trump, that he also tries to excuse Trump’s comment about sexually assaulting women, trying to tell everyone that it’s ‘alpha (male) talk’, when it isn’t. It’s simply sexual assault.

He then critiques his statement of the principles of the Alt Right. These are basically that it’s a right-wing movement, which is not traditionally Conservative, Libertarian or Neo-Con, which promotes western civilization as derived from Christianity, the European nations and the Graeco-Roman heritage. It states that every nation has the right to their own homeland, free of domination by other groups and that no race is superior to another. But he also strongly rejects free trade, because that also brings with it immigration and diversity. He quotes approvingly the ’14 Words’ – ‘We must secure the existence of the White race and a future for White children’ of the Nazi, David Lane, and is also massively anti-Semitic. He states very clearly that Jews are not members of the American people, and are working against their interests. Day states he is in favour of peaceful repatriation, but shows how peaceful he really is by talking about gunning down immigrant boats and praising the Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik, whom he calls a saint. He tries to defend the Alt-Right as in favour and based on science, but notes that this accompanied by a caveat – except where its conclusion have been altered by democracy – which therefore allows him and his Nazi friends to dismiss global warming and claim that Whites are intellectually superior to Blacks. The Alt-Right also claims to be ‘anti-equalitarian’, which it dismisses as being ‘unicorns and leprechauns’, and also claims to be based on history. States have to be ethnically uniform, as proximity + diversity = war. Although it also claims to be in favour of peace between nations.

Logan shows how the liberal parts of Alt Right ideology are either unviable or contradictory – for example, the statement that each nation has a right to its own homeland doesn’t account for instances where two ethnic groups also claim the same territory, like Zionist Jews and Palestinians. He also states that there are other examples. Indeed, he could have mentioned the Hungarians and Romanians, who both claim Transylvania as the historic cradles of their peoples. He also makes the point that if the Alt Right took seriously their point about each nation having the exclusive right to their own historic homelands, then this would mean that White Americans should return to Europe, as the country they’re currently inhabiting is that of the Amerindians. As would all the European colonists throughout the former British Empire, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc. The statement that no race is superior to another is a sop to the Alt Right’s battered egos to get them over the fact that so many sports are dominated by Blacks and other non-Whites. In short, the liberal aspects of Alt-Right ideology mask the real White supremacy and Nazism underneath.

As for Day’s attitude to women, he fears and hates educated women to the extent that he defended the Islamist assassin, who shot Malala Yousafzai in the head simply because she was a girl, who wanted to go to school as boys did.

To be fair, Day on his blog describes himself as a ‘cruelty artist’, and I think like Milo Yiannopolis, he’s also a troll who delights in saying the inflammatory and unspeakable simply because he enjoys shocking liberals and leftists. Or simply the majority of decent human beings. But the misogyny is still very real.

The only thing I disagree with here is Logan’s opinion that Christianity isn’t fundamental to western civilization. Logan states that it isn’t, because western civilization pre-dates Christianity, going back to Greece and Rome, and America is a secular country, while in recent centuries western Europe has also moved significantly away from Christianity. This is true. But historically Christianity has formed one of the major influences on European culture. It was through Christian writers and intellectuals that the ancient legacy of classical Greece and Rome was passed on and expanded, and which also mediated influences from other civilisations such as Islam, India and China. American secularism also has its origin in the demands made for religious toleration first articulated during the British Civil War by the Nonconformist sects. Again, there are other influences. Some of the atheist commenters on this blog have pointed to recent works arguing that the first radical democrats in Europe were influenced by Baruch Spinoza. It’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean there also wasn’t an influence from radical Christianity. See the collection of writings from the British civil war published by Penguin Classics as Divine Right and Democracy.

The Odyssey of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/10/2017 - 3:08pm in


poetry, Science

by Ashutosh Jogalekar

6a01b8d282c1f3970c01b8d2b03831970c-320wiThe day you were born, the world died.

Died in glitter and grist, in skeletons and slogans.


Scenic Riverside Drive which bequeathed you to us.

Sparkling New York lent us its sordid dreams

To trample underfoot, like so many lost souls.

You were born of a merchant;

Of loathsome success,

Of a hurried past,

Whose pogroms pushed him into the future.


Precious, precocious little one

You lit up your mother's eyes.

Her arm you were coy about,

Gloved as it stayed, seemingly hiding

The misfortune of your future mischief.

Never to be spoken of

In that household of labored repute.


You went to the Ethical Culture School,

Where they taught the holy gospel.

A man is known not by his creed but by his deed.

A reformed Jew would know this, they said.

But what consequences that deed had,

Free floating things, of dubious character,

They never said

Or thought respectable to do so.


A mind of formidable power and reach,

That everyone knew from the beginning.

Painfully aware, plumbing minerals and poetry.

Grandpa Ben from the old German country,

Hands you a set of stones; birefringent, languidly green and blue.


At twelve you read Katherine Mansfield and Plato.

Sink deeper in your chair.

Ponder what men do when they make poetry and figure out politics.

You say, "Ask me a question in Latin, and I will answer.

In Greek."

You freak.

You're an unctuous, repulsively good little boy.


A gift to Ethical you are.

Driven by a chauffeur,

Waiting for the elevator.

Can your son please not, they plead,

Hold up the class.


They had their revenge, the boys from proper households,

Who, out in a camp in the Catskills, painted your genitals green,

Locked you in an icehouse.

Silently you bore the frigid embarrassment,

Out to prove yourself a man, embarrassed of your parents who rescued you,

For not giving you a normal, healthy way

To be a bastard.


Holding a valedictory flame, you set forth.

Ethical's motto, "Fiat lux", you take to heart,

Your light will set everything aglow,

In its own private, luminous agony.


An unholy constriction of the innards,

Sends you into bouts of pale melancholy,

The cavalry comes in the disguise

Of your English teacher, Herbert Smith,

To elevate you with mountains and air.


Go west, young man, away from those "bizzness" men,

To New Mexico, where the old ones speak.

To pueblos and horses and the sunset ablaze.

Joy alternating with conscious self-hatred,

An endearing quality all your life.

Smith asks you to fold a shirt,

"The tailor's son would know, won't he".


Harvard beckons, the Harvard of Ivy and anti-Semitism.

You raid the library, swallow Eliot and Baudelaire.

Exhaust yourself with Russell and Whitehead and Kant,

Pound the streets of Cambridge

With unrequited longings for girls and gentiles.

To prove you are still alive.


You write letters and poetry,

Solid efforts at vaporous endeavors,

Undertaken with disembodied spirituality.

Science is reassuring, tangible,

A refuge, a corner of your own.


Chemistry solidifies its hold over you,

The capacity for change and renewal.

Easy, you ask, for salt and sulfur.

Why does it escape human beings?


The golden age of physics is upon the world,

Bohr and Einstein and Rutherford; names in books.

What will they say, when you show them your wares?

Chemistry becomes physics, physics becomes soma.


In Cambridge, the New Zealand lion roars.

Sets you upon a gloriously numbing task,

Something to do with thin films of a metal oxide.

Splendid, you say, while your heart weeps.


Months of lugubrious effort in the lab.

You are clumsy at women and workmanship.

Gazing into the inky blackness of the Cam,

How wonderful it would be, you ask,

To bump myself off.


Your toils fail in the wilderness of error.

With old Cambridge friends you undertake

A voyage to Corsica.

Southern comfort for the wounded soul.

You travel over mountains and rivers,

Shielded by horses in the rain, violent vistas out there.

Assaulted by pangs of hunger, you light up.

Feels good, you say. I think I will keep the habit.

Suddenly you remember, you must go back.

There is the trivial matter, of ambition and murder,

A poisoned apple you kept on your tutor's desk,

Must be disposed of, before it causes a minor inconvenience.


Feverishly they send for the New Yorkers, who rush with great concern.

You will no longer try to poison your tutor, they promise the university,

In return for silence and a shrink,

Who diagnoses you with dementia praecox.

Friday finds you walking at a furious clip,

Contemptuous of the man, what kind of psychobabble?

Does he dabble in? I understand my own troubles better.


The Great Dane visits his favorite son,

Master of Theory meeting Master of Experiment.

Casually he comes over and asks,

"Are your difficulties experimental or conceptual"?

"I don't know".

"That's bad", he says.

But his avuncular, insipid sweetness perseveres.

The clog starts clearing up.


Eagerly you go to Göttingen, to the tutelage of Max Born.

Born; of thin skin, shrinking fear and complete mastery.

With Heisenberg he invented quantum theory,

Reduced the world to waves of probability.

"The point can be made more simply thusly", you say,

Grasping the chalk from Born's hands,

While he cowers in fear of your untutored cleverness.


Göttingen unfurls the colors of your creative soul.

Mathematics and equations come tumbling out.

So do Dante and Goethe and Nietzsche.

Glowing embers of the intellect,

Surrounded by international scientists

And national socialists.


From the world over come savants and penniless wanderers,

To dive into the depths of the alien world.

They come from Rome and Cambridge, Leiden and Warsaw.

Benighted, intellectual altar boys, eyes full of wonderment.

Arguing, calculating, wandering among scenic streets and mountains.

Parked in a land nursing old wounds, creeping toward the precipice.


You befriend most; they regard you with jealousy and admiration.

The most austere one, Dirac, regards your crisscrossings with impatience.

How can you work, he asks, at both poetry and physics?

In physics we try to explain something that was not clear before.

In poetry it is the exact opposite.

You pity Dirac's exact mind; how could it fathom

The part where the humans who create science matter.


Triumphant from your glorious explorations you come home.

King of the atomic realm; a thicket of papers; the old guard calling.

Harvard and Princeton, Caltech and Berkeley, you feign considered respect.

Berkeley sounds interesting, a desert in the middle of civilization, you call it.

Your mission, should you choose it, is to bring physics to the barbarians.


You make your bed, you sleep here.

Should civilization come undone, as it seems to be,

This is where you make your last stand,

Among partial differential equations and scattering matrices.

You buy a fast steed, name it Garuda, for the Hindu god of speed,

It terrifies your friends; the speed of your own mind awes them.


The universe is your playground, physics alone never satisfied you.

Arthur Ryder, old soul with a laconic mind, infused with Eastern philosophy.

With him you read the Bhagavad Gita in the original.

Princes and duty, detachment and effort,

The fire in your heart glows brighter every day.


Gradually the world takes notice, the center of physics starts shifting.

You get a new friend with a pragmatic, earthy mind.

Aw shucks, says Ernest Lawrence; he works sixteen-hour days,

As his new cyclotron accelerates particles to the end of kingdom come.

Lawrence and you, you make a fine team, politics aside.

What does politics have to do with beauty, purity and truth anyway?


They come to you as they came to Born.

Eager schoolboys burning with intellectual thirst.

Living on cat food, from depression-ridden Oklahoma and Philadelphia.

You introduce them to an unfamiliar life.

Spicy food and martinis, Beethoven and Sanskrit.

Late night ruminations reverberating against the silent hills.

Mesmerizing sermons on truth and quantum electrodynamics.

The cigarette always lit, the mind finishing others' sentences.

Your wealthy father's trust fund allowing you to feign asceticism.


With your students you gaze upwards into cosmic rays

And downwards into the vacuous space

Inside collapsing stars.

You Trump the Europeans at their own game,

The world beats a reluctant path to your door.

They will no longer have to make pilgrimages

To Göttingen and Cambridge.

Home is where the good stuff is.

You have put America on the map.


And yet you don't always pursue

Your soaring ideas to their logical ends.

Later others will say you hesitated;

A first rate mind which could have achieved more.

You remain enamored with detachment.

Perhaps you should have studied the Talmud after all.


The world around you collapsing,

Communism the one fond hope.

Parched minds begging to be watered,

Looking for redemption from

The wretchedness of self-interest.

You plunge in yourself,

While never making sense of Communist dogma.

But the die has been cast.


One parched mind belongs to Jean Tatlock.

Lithe, with a smoldering passion

For ideas and depressive thoughts,

John Donne living rent free inside her head.

A tumultuous relationship, simmering,

At the edge of sanity, sometimes.


The unstable Jean discourages you,

You seek succor in other arms.

Kitty Harrison, twice divorced,

Cradling the lost memory of her husband,

Killed fighting Franco in Spain,

A good communist.

It all adds up, the stars aligned.

You become a family man,

You could get used to encroaching normalcy.


Events overtake the best-laid plans.

War and peace, but war always wins.

A dingy laboratory in Berlin

Steals a secret from Nature's bosom.

A squadron of grinning pilots

Carpet an island with death and blood.


When can you stop, asks Lawrence,

This political nonsense?

Truth and honesty being a small price,

To pay for fame and fortune.

We want you.

We want you to save the world.


The future calls with its crooked smile,

Will you come join our little project?

Will the King don his armor,

And fulfill the goal destiny has thrust on him?

The verdict of his grandchildren be damned.


You team up with a gruff general. Blistering efficiency.

The house of principles is a house of cards.

Sure I'll be a commissioned officer, you say,

Until cooler heads threaten to resign.

Your friends remain important to you.

For now.


A millennial weapon, as yet unshaped.

A figment of men's wild imagination.

Would it end a madman's jackbooted visions?

They ask for an isolated place.

Where a bang will sound like a whimper.

You thought it a pity physics and desert country

Could never be combined.

You were wrong.


A great city arises in the middle of the desert,

Untamed, wrung out of infant uncertainty.

Coated with the gloss of brutal aspirations.

Barbed wire, secrecy, the gnarled green of the army.

Did we leave Berlin and come here for this, ask the refugees?

Thankfully, they say in thick European accents,

Soon there may be no Berlin.


Until then, the mountains provide solace.

The desert air stirs something elemental in you.

You take over with a whirlwind of enthusiasm,

Entrust the initiation to your close associate with the lisp.


You have wrested free discussion from the general

With great effort and cloying pleas.

You are a good soldier.


"The object of this project

Is to create a practical weapon in the form of a bomb."

Leave behind your particles and fields,

Except as precision instruments of mass murder.

And spare me your talk of morality,

Says famous, friendly Fermi,

When it's all superb physics.


A constellation of egghead geniuses, diverted from their life's goals.

Fleeing from a world gone half mad to the crucible of freedom.

In which they now forge this weapon which can end freedom.

Brainstorming neutrons and diffusion,

Lenses and implosion.

The mechanics of annihilation

Never embodied such fine craftsmanship.


Dancing, devilish dervish Edward Teller,

Visions of megatons in his head.

Just let me know how big you want it,

I can make it so.

Quickly though, I have to get back to my piano,

And raise Bach from the dead.

My neighbors' sleep be damned,

The world really needs to wake up now.


Gently you soothe these rumpled egos,

Feynman and Groves and even terrible Teller;

They call you the best director they have seen.

Everything has a home in your mind;

The problems of pregnant women.

The high fertility rate.

The height of detonation.

How to turn humans to embers.


The Great Dane arrives one March,

His presence a reassurance

That you may be able to redeem yourself after all.

This could be the weapon to end all wars, says Bohr,

If mankind gets tired of killing, that is.

But whatever else transpires between

The devil and angel of fate,

Don't forget, until then,

It's all superb physics.


There is no solution without a test.

You know where it has to happen.

A desolate scrub of land at the end of time,

The Jornada del Muerto, the Journey of Death,

Which never looked so full of promise.

The name should be logical; Trinity.

In deference to the mystical Donne,

And his disciple Jean Tatlock.

Poor, wretched Jean,

Who could not blind the demons in her mind,

Until they were immersed in a tub full of water.


What burdens men's hearts may bear,

Are drowned out in the din of a downpour,

Trying to desperately wash away the vulgarities,

About to be visited on this primeval landscape.


The cigarettes have started to show their power.

The chronic cough racks up your inner desires.

The Gita speaks to you; convenient balm for your sins.

You tell everyone that in the middle of javelins and arrows,

The good that men do sustains them.

Philosophy can perhaps wipe away the stain of physics.


The lever thrown, the sunglasses donned,

The future triggered irrevocably,

Set in murderous motion.

At the chosen hour the heavens rumble,

Nuclei split, the elemental light shines.

It bores and pounces,

Tracelessly drills into your conscience,

Proclaims obscenity,

In a boiling cauldron of neutrons,

Invented by the one species,

Capable of shaping its future,

Which having worshipped the sun,

Now strives to create its own.


The hand tears away from the face,

Streaked with tears,

At first, Donne.

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you 

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; 

That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend 

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new." 


Then Krishna, inaugurating death in our times.

"I am become death, destroyer of worlds."

"I am time, destroyer of worlds."

It must feel mighty good to be Krishna.


Then silence, jubilation, indifference to the ghost in the machine.

The best compliment, from a man named Bainbridge.

"We are all sons of bitches."

You have finally found a healthy way

To be a bastard.


The war is over; the scientists are going home.

They have been good soldiers, dutiful sons.

But you have tasted power

And spat out the morsels of fame.

It feels good.

The thread constricts you tighter.


What does it matter

That a hundred thousand souls

Were burnt, beaten, and irradiated to death.

War does these things to men.

They killed ours, we killed theirs.

A simple moral calculus.

Maybe we will finally stop killing

Because of this great adventure we took part in.

What a marvelous time it was.


A great power rises to the East,

Fuelled by similar ambitions,

To enslave the dirt of humanity,

Through the precise application of science.

You plead with the leader of the free world,

Confess your guilt.

A crybaby scientist, he says.

The blood is on his hands, not yours, he says.

Get him out of here, he says.


Hostile men, enamored with power,

Resentful of your silver tongue and fame.

You are too clever for your own good.

Goading them, mocking them,

Making them aware

Of their own frailties.

They wait and watch.


An even bigger force of nature looms,

Engineered by devilish dervish Teller.

Having raised Bach from the dead,

He now raises Hell about the new danger.

He's paranoid, shaped by childhood trauma.

His scheme will make your invention

Look like a parlor trick.

Fusion instead of fission,

Coming together instead of breaking apart,

Will rent the world asunder.


The Eastern promise claims its own morbid authority.

The laws of nature are not privy only to the West.

Paranoia sweeps through the land

Like a miasma extolling urgent action.

You despair, you warn.

Answering in kind

Only breeds more hatred.

You would know.

You started it.


The paranoia claims its victims.

Mob justice ignoring reason.

Your own pupils fall prey to it.

But what are old bonds

Compared to new horizons.

And when they come for your pupils,

You betray them to save your hide,

Call them radicals,

Ignoring your own radical past.

And who will speak for you

When they come for you?


They come swiftly and surely,

Embattled, resentful, seeing treason.

Your position of privilege rattled,

Your loyalties questioned,

Your past newly scrutinized.

They say you are the Mandarin

Who with his silver tongue and powers of persuasion,

Is striking a blow against his country's monopoly,

On its exclusive capability to kill other human beings.


You decide to fight.

You are the good soldier.

An unctuous, repulsively good little boy.


On trial you go,

Warped arguments digging up past indiscretions,

Of friends betrayed, lies and equivocations.

It didn't matter before, but the world has changed.

You were the man who changed it.


Men of the law running roughshod over it, hiding evidence used against you.

No chauffeur to drive you to school this time.

You remember the character of Karna from the Mahabharata.

At the opportune moment his knowledge of weapons deserts him.

What happened to your quick mind? Its dazzling sweep?

At this time it seems more appropriate

To lie catatonic on the couch.


Your friends come to your aid,

And the devilish dervish Teller damns you.

But no friend can save you from

The moral morass you created,

Which clutches souls in its tentacles,

And averts the gaze of history

By distracting it with visions of glory.


The axe falls swiftly,

Expertly wielded by the man of the law.

"Doctor, why did you lie?", he asks.

"Because I was an idiot", you say.

You were an idiot.

You were a son of a bitch.

We are all sons of bitches.


You are done, you are spent,

You lie sprawling on the battlefield

Wrapped in the robes of self-inflicted sin,

Your role in history subverted by the unrelenting

Machinery of maniacal power.


Men and women still come to you, seeking advice and attention,

Wanting to let some of your bloodied wisdom

Sprinkle on themselves.

They want you to lick your war wounds,

To wring your hands

In their presence.

But you won't.

Not when you know

You did your duty with detachment.


Your intellect still commands

Wide attention and benign admiration,

But you cannot help but think of yourself

As a cast off piece of wood.

Once supporting a mighty house,

Now drifting silently on the waves.


Now your body is beaten.

The puff that quieted those hunger pangs

Has finally caught up with you.

The cancer spreading rapidly,

Claiming territory cell by cell.

It's all fields and particles in the end.


You wait with bated breath for the end to come.

As your body weakens, your spirit strengthens.

As mind and body fail, you still think of Donne.

And Eliot.

And Krishna.

And Eliot and Krishna.

You think of those fragments from your life

That you have shored against your ruins.

May those fragments give you peace,

May those fragments give you Shantih.

Shantih, shantih, shantih.

Producer of Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Programme Promises Guest Editor Will Be AI

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 01/10/2017 - 8:25am in

Sarah Sands, the new producer of Radio 4’s Today current affairs programme got into the news this week because of the controversy over her intention to expand the range of topics the programme covers. Sands has plenty of experience in the arts, but little as a political journalist. She’s already expanded the programme so that its coverage includes the arts, science, culture and fashion. The programme’s got 7 million listeners, and there are fears that she’s dumbing the show down. The I quoted John Humphries as complaining that she was filling it with ‘girls’ stuff’, as well as a fashion designer or journalist, who described how, when he interviewed her, it was clear he had no understanding or interest in the subject.

Sands has also said that she intends to line up a series of guest editors for the show, one of which will be an A.I. This was followed by a quote from her where she said that it was certain that Artificial Intelligence would outstrip human intelligence as sure as night follows day, but should humans bow to the superhumans?

Despite repeated assertions by computer scientists that next year, or perhaps the year after, no, wait, by the mid 2020s, or sometime soon at any rate, computers will be more intelligent than humans, I remain unconvinced. They’ve been saying that ever since I was at school in the 1970s and 80s. And even before then. The philosopher Hubert L. Dreyfus wrote a book, What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Intelligence, detailing the repeated failures of the attempt to recreate human-level intelligence in machines. One edition of his book was published 20 years ago in the 1990s, but I’ve still got no doubt that nothing much has changed in the intervening years. And looking round Waterstone’s a little while ago I saw a similar book on the shelves, with the title Humans Are Seriously Underrated.

So I really don’t see computers overtaking human journalists any time soon.

And then there’s the question of who this automated editor will be. Somehow I don’t it will be the great, computer-generated vid jockey, who appeared on Channel 4 in the 1980s: M-M-M-Max … Headroom!

Yes, the AI presenter with the big hair, big suits with massive shoulderpads, and an ego to go with it, as well as a fixation with golf and S-S-Severiano Ball-ll-ll-osteros. And also a massive electronic stutter.

Max was one of the biggest things on TV at one point, talking to Terry Wogan, David Letterman, and had his own chat show, whose guests included Boy George and Rutger Hauer.

Here’s a reminder from YouTube what the big guy was like.

This should be the only AI to guest edit, and front, the Today programme.

And yes, I realise it was actually Matt Frewer in rubber mask, suit, and wig, and the only thing that was really computer generated were the patterns behind him. But even so, he had style. And if you can bring back Elvis by hologram, you should be able to do the job for real and generate Max properly on computer this time.

Which Reporter’s Name Should Be Used as the Scientific Unit of Media Bias?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/09/2017 - 4:12am in

Thinking about the Beeb, Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg and their spurious protestations of objectivity and impartiality the other night, I remember one of the jokes going round Nazi Germany about Goebbels, Hitler’s notorious ‘Minister for Public Enlightenment’. There were a number of comments and nicknames about him. He was very promiscuous, so much so that he got the nickname ‘the Tadpole’. Like Hitler, he was also short, so that the Germans produced a saying ‘Luegen haben kurzen Beinen’ – ‘Lies have short legs’.

And one of the jokes played on the various scientific terms then being coined as research advanced. For example, in electronics there are the terms volt, amp and ohm, which all take their names from the physicists Volta, Ampere and Ohm, who did pioneering research into electricity.

Thus, German wags defined the Goeb – from Goebbel’s monicker – to be the minimum unit of power required to turn off 100,000 radio sets. The joke here being that every time the Nazi propagandist appeared on the radio to rant about how wonderful the Reich was, and how evil Jews, Communists, democracy, Socialism, trade unionism, ‘capitalism’ and the allies were, the Germany public reacted en masse by finding something much better to do. This might explain why family board games are still very popular in Germany. After all, if there’s a choice between listening to another foam-flecked rant from Adolf, or playing Cluedo, I think most people would probably opt for the latter.

Thinking about the joke made me wonder, however. Which modern broadcast journalist would we choose to have their name used as the minimum unit of right-wing political bias? At the moment, I’m undecided between Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg. I wonder who else people would nominate?

Telesur English: Caribbean Paying the Price for Developed World’s Global Warming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/09/2017 - 2:11am in

This is another extremely short video from Telesur English, covering the speech by the president of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit. The video and President Skerrit make the point that the developed world is responsible for the pollution that is altering this planet’s climate. The rise in sea and air temperatures mean that storms, such as the hurricane that recently devastated so much of the Caribbean, have greater force. The Caribbean itself contributes about 0.001% to the carbon emissions driving climate change. Telesur makes the case that it is capitalism that is the root cause of these storms, and that the peoples of the Caribbean are the innocent victims of a war produced by the developed world.

Scientism’s Threat To Philosophy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/09/2017 - 1:16am in

So, just as naturalism-as-opposed-to-apriorism succumbs to scientism when it falsely assumes that whatever isn’t a priori must be science, naturalism-as-opposed-to-supernaturalism succumbs to scientism when it falsely assumes that whatever isn’t religion must be science. Granted, theological “explanations” don’t really explain anything; but it doesn’t follow, and it isn’t true, that science can explain everything. The achievements of the sciences certainly deserve our respect and admiration. But, like all human enterprises, science is fallible and incomplete, and there are limits to the scope of even the most advanced and sophisticated future science imaginable…

So writes Susan Haack, professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami, in “The Real Question: Can Philosophy Be Saved?” in the new issue of Free Inquiry. She discusses some of the questions science cannot answer, and continues:

More generally, none of the sciences could tell us whether, and if so, why, science has a legitimate claim to give us knowledge of the world, or how the world must be, and how we must be, if science is to be even possible.

The rising tide of scientistic philosophy not only threatens to leave the very science to which it appeals adrift with no rational anchoring; it also spells a shipwreck for philosophy itself…

Professor Haack’s example of this “shipwreck” is The Atheist’s Guide to Reality by Alex Rosenberg, professor of philosophy at Duke University, which she describes as putting forth the view that “physics fixes all the facts” and that “this means there is no meaning, no values—moral, social, political, or, apparently, epistemological—and, in effect, no mind.” (I’ve not read the book and can’t comment on the accuracy of this summary.) She then writes:

Answering questions like “What’s distinctive about human mindedness?” “What’s the relation between natural and social reality?” “How does philosophy differ from the sciences?” “What has philosophy to learn from the sciences, and they from it?” etc., requires serious philosophical work. And serious philosophical work, like any serious intellectual work, means making a genuine effort to discover the truth of some question, whatever that truth may be.

I’m curious whether philosophers think that there is in fact a “rising tide of scientistic philosophy” and whether they agree with Professor Haack’s characterization of it.

I’m skeptical that the proportion of philosophical work that Professor Haack would describe as “scientistic” has increased over the past, say, twenty years, but since there is plenty of philosophy I’m ignorant of, I could be mistaken.

I can think of four developments that may give the appearance of supporting Professor Haack’s view—(1) the growth of experimental philosophy, (2) the increased emphasis in philosophy of science of having expert knowledge not just of philosophy but of the particular sciences, (3) the increased visibility in popular culture of philosophical arguments for atheism, and (4) the increased presence of large (“science-sized”) grants in philosophy—but I don’t think they really do.

Regarding (1), a recent study concluded that the extent to which experimental philosophy challenges traditional philosophical methods is highly exaggerated (e.g., only 1.1% of the empirical work in experimental philosophy over the past five years could be construed as taking aim at “conceptual analysis”). Development (2) doesn’t imply increased scientism; my engagement with philosophers of science, though limited and perhaps unrepresentative (let me know), suggests that those more knowledgeable about the special sciences tend to be less scientistic. The pop culture phenomenon described in (3) does not track what’s going on more generally in professional philosophy, and it seems, rather, that the publicity that popular atheistic books are getting (be they by academic philosophers or others) is heightening philosophers’ sensitivity to crude scientism. Lastly, regarding grants (4), as Professor Haack observes elsewhere in her article, the largest ones are from the John Templeton Foundation—and while such grants may be problematic, they aren’t so in virtue of them supporting scientism.

Professor Haack’s article can be found here. Discussion welcome.

(via @J_H0UST0N )

Igor Siwanowicz, “Acilius diving beetle male front tarsus (foot) 100x”

The post Scientism’s Threat To Philosophy appeared first on Daily Nous.

38 Year Old Man Now Owns Every Shirt He’s Going To Wear For The Rest Of His Life

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/09/2017 - 8:19am in

A 38 year old shire man is done and dusted as far as shirt shopping goes for the rest of his life after recently adding an eighth shirt to his wardrobe.

“That’s it, unless I magically grow an extra arm or something, I don’t see any reason why I’d need to buy another shirt,” said Dolan’s Bay electrician Phil Hubbard after impulse buying a plain blue button up shirt from a Rivers outlet shop on the weekend. “I probably have two shirts too many as it is. I put that down to that mad spree back in 2006 when I bought two collared shirts from Tarocash in the same week after reading an article about shirts in Men’s Style magazine.”

The shirt is Hubbard’s first major addition to his shirt repertoire in five years, following on from the olive green t-shirt he found hanging on a post in the park after soccer training that he correctly guessed might be his size, and the paisley shirt his sister bought him for Christmas in 2009.

“I was initially sceptical about his “I just liked it” story and wondered if he was having an affair,” said Hubbard’s wife Candy when came home from a trip to the shops to buy a replacement part for the lawnmower carrying a bag from Rivers. “Then I remembered him staring intently at George Clooney in a DVD we watched the night before where George was wearing a nice blue shirt.”

Scientists in Belgium recently published a paper showing that the male body was the least abrasive substance to common shirt fabrics.

“Male sweat actually forms a compound with detergent that thickens the material that shirts are made from,” said Dr Hercules Tintin from the Brussells Institute of Shirt and Cardigan Studies. “The average male shirt should last sixty or seventy years, provided it is properly tossed down onto the bedroom floor for several days after wearing.”

Peter Green

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Laissez–faire Childcare (1978)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 7:26pm in

In 1978, Scarfolk Health Council launched a campaign which exploited people's fear of children (especially those with uncontrolled supernatural powers), to normalise the idea of letting kids do whatever they want without censure.

It was no accident that the infants in the campaign's various posters were depicted smoking, drinking and licking chocolate-covered asbestos.

A 1979 magazine interview revealed that the campaign had been privately funded by Mrs Bottomlip, a pensioner who worked in the local cancer charity shop on Scarfolk High Street. Her reasons were largely personal. Apart from the fact that she enjoyed her part-time job and "wouldn't ever want it to end because one meets such lovely people and it gets me out of the house", her son worked for a cancer research institute. Mrs Bottomlip was concerned that he, along with a whole generation of scientists and support staff, could find themselves out of work unless the number of people developing cancer was maintained, or preferably raised.

For her support of cancer research, the institute presented her with an award, which, unbeknownst to science at the time, was made from highly carcinogenic materials.