Of Curmudgeonly Interest This Week – 19 March 2017

This was supposed to be last week’s wrap-up, but, well, things get in the way, y’know. Hope there’s enough of interest in here to make it worth the wait.

Your Opinion- Tommy Robinson on ISLAM & The UK Part1

This is an extraordinarily good example of a panel discussion show – something that our own Q&A could take a lesson from – where the participants discuss their disagreements civilly. This should especially be required viewing for anyone who thinks Tommy Robinson is just a racist meathead: ignoring his Luton accent, he comes across as intelligent and respectful of his Muslim fellow guests.

I was particularly struck by the fact that he repeatedly quizzed them as to their specific views on certain subjects, making clear that because he hadn’t been aware that they, specifically, were going to be guests, he hadn’t had time to research them, and he wanted to be careful not to misrepresent them. That should be a model for all of us in debates, because, let’s face it, most of us tend to simply assume too much about our opponents: They’re a conservative? They must believe x, y and z. They’re a 20-year-old Arts student? They must believe a, b and c.

Richard Shah made some good points about religious courts in general, and while Imam Javed was also very interesting, he did fudge a little at one point, when he talked about the difficulty of interpreting the Koran – when in fact the Koran itself explicitly says that it is written so as to be easy to understand.

But still, a very interesting discussion that I highly recommend watching.


#March4Trump Madness

Some Black Guy nails it again:

A lot of people have very fucking dull lives.They just live mediocracy, and they look for anything they can in real life to be like, this is like a movie, this is like a video game, “we need to vanquish our enemy”, and just look at the results that you’re seeing.

Oh, but he was wrong about pineapple pizza, though.


Douglas Murray LAUGHS at claims of Islamic “Inventions” (with Gad Saad)

For a long time, I bought the whole “Islamic Golden Age” narrative, because – well, because I was told it was true. Then I studied it for myself, and, yeah, it’s mostly overhyped horse-shit. As Douglas Murray says, it’s mostly motivated by Islamophilia, an often strangely self-abasing adoration of Islam by non-Muslim Westerners. As Murray and Saad point out, almost all of the “discoveries” attributed to Islam were either the products of another culture entirely (algebra, for instance, so often attributed to Islam, not only dates back to at least the Romans in some form, but was mostly invented in India), or are attributed to Islam by the most implausible casuistry – thus, jumping of a tall building becomes “the invention of flight”.


My Chat with Milo Yiannopoulos (THE SAAD TRUTH_121)

The first fifteen minutes of this talk are perhaps the most compelling, as Saad and Milo demolish the terrible, anti-science nonsense peddled by celebrity “scientists” like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. While Tyson is popularly believed to be some kind of acme of science, the reality is that his work in actual science is vanishingly thin (as Saad notes). Other “tv scientists”, like Richard Dawkins, similarly abandon doing scientific work in favour of pursuing celebrity – which Saad refers to as the Kardashian Index. Milo also talks about the lack of proper epistemic humility in celebrity scientists, an aspect of science that is often forgotten.


The Mother of All Same-Sex Parenting Studies

When studies into socially contentious areas are published, their results are touted, or ignored, by the media and activists, depending on whether or not they are congenial to the media and the activists’ prejudices. This is especially true for same-sex parenting. It’s been a standard trope to triumphantly claim that “the science” shows that same-sex parenting is not only just as healthy for children as traditional families, it may even be better.

Now, this is something that no journalist, especially a science journalist, should be letting past their bullshit filters. This is an extraordinary claim, just on the face of it. While one could accept that children of same-sex parents might not be worse-off that children of traditional families, the claim that they are better off should raise suspicions, especially given the twin narrative we are steadily fed about the awful social pressures the same-sex alphabet face in our society.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Any journalist faced with an extraordinary claim should immediately be asking hard questions. Yet hardly any do, because, one suspects, the children are as well off, or better-off in same-sex families narrative simply feeds into their prejudices. They’re being told what they want to hear, so they don’t ask questions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, such studies are extremely flawed. Poor study design, such as self-reporting (self-reported studies should *always* be viewed with extreme skepticism), self-selected and other types of non-random sample types, short study duration, and so on.

When, on the other hand, long-duration, hard data from the likes of CDC-NCHS are correlated, significantly poorer outcomes on some criteria for children from same-sex families emerged.

This does not, of course, say that all same-sex families are awful. What it does say is that the narrative of a rainbow utopia being peddled by media and activists simply does not seem to be supported by the evidence.


Dr. Jonathan AC Brown – Islam and the Problem of Slavery

A very long lecture, so for those of you who don’t have the patience, the TL;DR is:

Slavery is, like, really, really complicated. Sometimes slaves were treated well in the ancient world. Sometimes people who weren’t slaves were treated badly. So, like, who are we to criticise Islam for practising slavery?

Yep, this is how academia defends Islamic slavery.

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