Of Morality And Marshmallows

The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous “marshmallow test” is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt:

In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

Maybe so. But might it also be the case that children raised in more affluent homes will have been taught the value of resisting their impulses? I say this because one of my own children has had a very demanding sweet tooth from earliest childhood. He is also impulsive by nature. It has taken years of effort on the part of his mother and me to train him to say no to his impulses — not only for sugar, but, as he has gotten older and started earning spending money, his enthusiasms for buying things that strike his fancy. Many times I have pondered the difficulty he is going to have managing his money if he doesn’t get this impulsiveness under control. He’s a very good kid, highly moral and responsible, but impulsiveness is his Achilles’ heel.

He’s not being raised in poverty. We are middle class people, but culturally I guess that puts us with more in common with the affluent than not. Our impulsive child has been raised in a stable household — materially and emotionally — so there are no environmental factors that nurture his impulsiveness. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, this is simply one of his passions, something he has to struggle against. I have my own particular passions (anger and gluttony). Orthodoxy teaches that life itself is a struggle to crucify the passions and order ones desires towards the will of God. There is nothing wrong in principle with wanting to eat a marshmallow, but if your reason and your will are overcome by that desire to eat a marshmallow, you are weak, and can fall into sin. The regular fasting that Orthodox Christians do is designed to train the will to desire what God desires for us, not what we desire for ourselves.

Anyway, all of that is prelude to what I want to tell you. Last night, I was at a dinner party with some friends. One of them, N., told a long story about a local carpenter she and her husband had hired to do some renovations on their house. I won’t tell the story in depth, because the story is hers to tell, and she’s a writer. The gist of the story is that N. and her husband have been working with this guy for a long time — it’s a big project — and have gotten to know him well. He’s working class, and economically quite precarious. N. said the man has become a friend, and that she and her husband have been working hard to help him stabilize his life.

N. said — again, I’m summing up, but the details are sort of breathtaking — that the carpenter’s personal life is a study in chaos. He cannot grasp that he has the power to determine future events by the choices he makes today. A sense of moral agency totally escapes him. He sees N.’s ordinary family — they have kids — and thinks that they are simply one of fate’s winners. N. talked about the extraordinary lengths she and her husband have gone to befriend and to help this man, but how ultimately it has been futile. No matter what they say to him, no matter what they do for him, he cannot get it together. And he is leaving all kinds of chaos in his wake (several wives, kids, etc.).

I told N. that my wife and I have been in the very same situation, trying to help someone just like that who had become a friend … and in the end, concluding that it was futile. I wrote about it in the past on this blog: how I had gone to my lawyer, offering to pay him to represent this impoverished friend in a particular case. Lawyer said he would take my money and meet with the friend, but that in his lengthy experience with these cases, he could tell me that I’d be wasting my money and his time, because my friend would not follow through. It’s in the nature of people who get themselves into these kinds of situations, he said, to keep doing what got them into that situation in the first place. I told him I would be willing to take that chance to help her.

Next time I saw this friend, I told her to make an appointment with Lawyer X., that he would be willing to advise her, and that I would pay the bill. She thanked me profusely, but said that wouldn’t be necessary that she had decided to … well, that she had decided to keep doing the same stupid thing that got her into this bind in the first place. The country lawyer’s practical experience in dealing with the poor was wiser than my heart-on-the-sleeve idealism. Not for the first time did I feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. (My future epitaph: “Call me Azzberry”.)

At dinner last night, my friend and I dwelled on the intractability of human nature in cases like this. She said that she had to conclude that a stable family life in childhood provides psychological goods that cannot be given through any other way. There aren’t enough government programs, personal charitable efforts, or anything else to compensate adequately for a chaotic childhood. My friend was certainly not saying that we can wash our hands of the responsibility for our neighbor’s welfare, but she was concluding — accurately — that we have to recognize the limits of our ability to change the lives of others. She was also saying that her experience with the carpenter made her more fully aware of how important it is to do everything she can to give her own children a stable home life.

Notice that I’m not saying — nor did I hear her to say — “affluent” home life. My folks never had a lot of money. We were an ordinary working-class to lower-middle-class family. But the gift my mother and father gave me of an orderly, stable childhood was priceless, I now see. How did they do it? They were both imperfect people who endured their share of difficulties in marriage, caused by their own flaws, as well as a period of economic stress. My father is no longer with us to discuss the matter, but the truth is, neither one of them would have been given over to much self-reflection on the question. They were the kind of people who would have simply said, “We made a vow,” and left it at that. For them, that was reason enough to stay together — that, and they always made it clear that the needs of us kids came before their own. That was just how my folks went through life. Not to get too philosophical about it, but for them, that was the Tao.

That wouldn’t have guaranteed stability in my family’s or my late sister’s, but they gave us such a good model of how family was supposed to work. Again, I don’t want to hold my mom and dad out to have been perfect. I don’t think there are any perfect families, and certainly mine had its particular flaws, some of which had unfortunate long-term consequences. That said, I am so very grateful to my parents for holding things together, and showing my sister and me that it is possible to build that kind of life, even when you don’t have much money.

My father was the chief breadwinner in our household, and, because they were a traditional 1950s-era couple, he was the one who dictated how our financial resources would be handled. I find this interesting with relation to the Atlantic article because having grown up very poor in the Great Depression, he ought to have been shaped by the experience of inconstancy in a particular way. Remember, the Atlantic writer said:

There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

That’s how my father grew up, but that same experience made him far more likely to do what he could to hedge against chaos. He talked to Ruthie and me a lot about these things, relating him to his childhood. His own father was away from home for most of my dad’s early childhood, entirely because he had to work and send money back to support his wife, children, and elderly mother, who lived in the household. That sense of vulnerability made a profound impression on my dad, who was determined that his children would not feel it, if he could help it.

Daddy wasn’t unique in that. What I can’t quite understand today is why his response to childhood poverty and insecurity was so very different from what is normal today. That is, Daddy’s response was to live as an adult in such a way that he was less vulnerable to that chaos, and in which his own children were made less vulnerable to the chaos that would have come had outside pressures broken the family apart. I’ve written many times in this space about how he had deep compassion for people who were poor and suffering victims of circumstance, but also something bordering on contempt for people who were poor and suffering, but who always blamed others, or fate, for their suffering. He would say, “You can’t do nothin’ for people like that.” This was the opinion of a man who had once been poor, and who had lived his entire life in the same community as poor people, and working with them. Kind of like that country lawyer I mentioned above.

It seems to me that aside from his personal qualities, my father was the beneficiary of a local culture that, for better or for worse, had a strong bias against people living morally disordered lives. I should add that my dad had much more hostility towards middle class and wealthy people who lived that way. “They know better,” he would say. “They don’t have an excuse.” In his case, it wasn’t so much a matter of religion — my dad wasn’t particularly observant — as it was a matter of shame and honor. The culture that shaped my father’s code said it was dishonorable for men and women to live in ways that violated its core moral code. I heard my dad say on a number of occasions, “There’s no shame in being poor,” but he also spoke with stern judgment against men who abandoned their families, people who wouldn’t work, and so forth.

That code could be harsh, but it was more realistic about life than a lot of what passes for wisdom today. I think that has a lot to do with why Jordan Peterson is so popular. He gives to young men a sense of moral agency. Peterson is not Moses coming down from the summit of Sinai, but he talks common sense to a culture that has forgotten it. There has never been a society, and never will be a society, in which somebody can live like a fool and not pay the consequences — and for that matter, inflict consequences on others. You can’t not show up for work and expect to keep your job forever. You can’t ignore your kids and expect that they will grow up to be responsible people. You can’t get loaded every weekend and wonder why your roof is falling in, and won’t fix itself. You can’t allow television and social media to raise your children, and expect that they will be good.  And so forth.

“The world doesn’t owe you a living,” my father would lecture me, usually when I hadn’t done my homework, or failed to do something I was supposed to have done. I suppose this attitude is what made my dad a natural conservative. He couldn’t stand people who were ungrateful and lazy. His basic attitude towards us kids was: I bust my ass to provide for y’all, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you waste the opportunities you’ve been given. There was a time in my life when I thought he was so square, but the older I get, the more I see that there really isn’t any other way to live. My dad was keen to help people who were down on their luck, and I see now that he allowed himself to be taken advantage of by some folks with hard-luck stories. Mostly, though, what he was eager to do was to teach people how to help themselves, and to encourage them to do so. For him, this was a matter of natural justice. A society in which people were rewarded even though they did the wrong thing, or failed to do the right thing, was not a just or good society. And doing the right thing always meant subjugating your own desires to the greater good, especially the greater good of your family.

Here’s a funny thing: a few years back, when I was working with the African-American actor Wendell Pierce on his memoir of growing up in south Louisiana, I spent some time speaking with his Uncle L.C. Edwards, the last surviving member of Wendell’s parents’ generation. Uncle L.C. was the same age as my father, and like him, had grown up in rural poverty. I loved the stories of L.C.’s parents (that is, Wendell’s grandparents): poor black farmers who weren’t educated, but who had a very strong religious ethic, and who placed enormous value on education and self-discipline as the only reliable means of self-advancement. Poverty was the enemy of both L.C. and my father, but Lloyd and his siblings also had to deal with Jim Crow. If memory serves, every one of the children of Wendell’s grandparents got educated, and escaped poverty. I’m telling you, the chapter on Papo and Mamo (the grandchildren’s name for L.C.’s parents) is worth the price of the book. Here’s a characteristic excerpt:

One Christmas evening after supper, the Edwardses went to call on their College Point neighbors, to wish them a happy holiday. The kids were startled to go into one house and to see that all that family had eaten for their Christmas meal was potatoes and grits. When they returned home, Papo told the children, “This is what I mean when I tell you it’s important to save for a rainy day. If you put your money aside now, you will have enough to eat well on Christmas.”

Given the man Papo was, if the Edwardses had any food left, he probably took it to that poor family and didn’t tell his own children for the sake of preserving their neighbors’ dignity.

His children remembered Papo as a slow talker but a deep thinker. He never made a quick decision, but acted only after prayer, deliberation, and sleeping on it. Whatever the answer was, he arrived at it through careful reason, not passion. Acting on impulse was the sure way to lose your money, in Papo’s view.

Papo worked for a time in a sugar factory and received his weekly wages in a brown packet. He had a firm rule with himself: Wait twenty-four hours before spending a penny of it. Uncle L.C. said that as a young working man, he thought his father’s rule was silly. You have the money, he figured, so why not enjoy it?

But when he got married and started a family of his own, he understood Papo’s good sense and followed the rule himself. Uncle L.C., who worked at the DuPont chemical plant, has done well through saving and investing over the years. To this day, he credits Papo for teaching him by word and example the importance of being careful with your money and not letting your passions guide your decisions.

Talking with L.C. was like speaking with a black version of my own father. Though he had long been in retirement when I met him, L.C. was always thinking of ways he could make a little money. He told me about how he would take fatherless black boys from a nearby trailer park, and try to teach them something about working to make money and to plan for the future. He told me how sorry he felt for those young men, who had no father in the home to offer them direction, or a sense of responsible manhood.

But his pity had strict limits. Like my own father, L.C. was death on those who wouldn’t work or practice self-discipline. He told me about how his own wife, a retired public schoolteacher, quit her job the very day the last of their adult children no longer needed their help paying for college. She was of a generation for whom education was the most precious thing, their ticket out of poverty and oppression. Today, though, she was worn down by students who wouldn’t work, wouldn’t behave themselves, and parents who blamed the schools and the teachers for their kids’ failures.

American culture is far less friendly to the worldview of those Depression babies like L.C. and my father. Politics and economics are complicated things. You can’t simply apply a moral code to every situation, and expect it to solve the problem. But let’s recognize this: very few Americans in 2018 are as materially poor as my dad and L.C. Edwards were when they came into this world in the 1930s. Is there anybody in America today who is poorer than a black child born to uneducated farmers living in the Deep South under American apartheid? And yet, look what they did with what they had been given! There never will be a society in which family won’t matter, and in which moral self-discipline won’t matter. 

The wealthy, and those with social connections, can absorb a lot more disorder than the less well off can, but money won’t last forever.

The world we have today is wealthier, and in some ways is better able to defray the cost of that disorder. We have more of a social safety net today than we did back then. But this world is much poorer in social capital, which is not something you can raise from Chinese bankers.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this country, and no clear way to fix it. The people my dinner companion and I were talking about last night are white. They live in Charles Murray’s fictional Fishtown. They diverge greatly from the core values and practices of stable middle-class and well-off Americans, in ways that were not true a couple of generations ago. Society has grown far more individualistic and tolerant of non-conformity. This is not entirely a bad thing! But the cost to people who don’t have a lot of social and material capital to begin with has been immense. People love to imagine that if only we brought good jobs back to America, or voted in this or that political party, then these problems would solve themselves. I don’t believe that’s true. That’s no reason not to try to improve opportunities for people, but there are no government programs or private charitable initiatives that can meaningfully compensate for the loss of a sense of moral order and purpose.

Finally, I phrase occurred to me while writing this post, a fragment from something I’d read ages ago. I googled it, and the source turned up here. Here is the excerpt I was thinking about. The writer is talking about the 1950s:

It was a more human world in that it was a sexier world, because sex was still a story. Each high school senior class had exactly one girl who got pregnant and one guy who was the father, and it was the town’s annual scandal. Either she went somewhere and had the baby and put it up for adoption, or she brought it home as a new baby sister, or the couple got married and the town topic changed. It was a stricter, tougher society, but its bruising sanctions came from ancient wisdom.

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

The author of those words is Peggy Noonan. She published them in, get this, 1992. Some things have gotten better over the last 26 years. For example, when she published this, David Dinkins was mayor of her town, New York City, and the city would record just over 2,000 homicides. Know how many the city recorded last year, 25 years after the column was published? Only 290.  Progress is real!

On the other hand, I can’t get out of my head the words spoken to me by a professor at an Evangelical Christian college. Speaking about the student body, which is predominantly white, he told me that he didn’t think most of them would ever be able to form stable families. I was shocked by this.These were not kids from the blighted projects or wretched rural trailer parks. Why not? I asked.

He said, “Because they have never seen it done.”

We live in a society in which the moral code that we applaud and the people we celebrate all say: Take the marshmallow now, and don’t worry about the future. This is going to cost us.

Read more from The American Conservative…

He’s a long shot for SC gov, but GOP firebrand Kevin Bryant says he defined the race

For years, he made waves for his filibusters of tax hikes and his unflinching support of pro-life legislation, gun rights and traditional marriage. But in a crowded field running in the 2018 GOP primary race, Bryant has struggled to stand out. The fiscal …

Read more from Pro-Life Legislation…

Ironism

Amerika, like the projects before it, broke new ground with a few ideas. The first was to view politics as an instance of herd behavior; another was to oppose diversity itself instead of the groups involved. Now it expands into inspection of human motivations and how those result in a distorted worldview.

Few think about ironism, mainly because the word is rarely used in what would be its consistent sense, namely to speak of those who advocate an approach to reality and moral choice rooted in irony, or things not being what they seem to be. Ironists extend this inversion beyond appearance and deny that things are as they are.

There is great power in denying that things are as they are. One becomes instantly messianic because people cannot tell the difference between more accurate perception, as happens with upsets in the scientific field, and simply projecting a conjecture as a replacement for reality itself.

Ironism becomes self-reifying, or manifesting itself by pursuit of itself, because it changes the human social order to be reality-denying and then only reality-deniers win. This is why once-thriving societies just drop off the map and fall out of history; their people went into denial, a form of insanity, and become incompetent, at which point the societies failed to do anything of relevance and withered away.

In other words, once ironism begins its cancerous work, soon only the bad will win, and the good will lose, which becomes important because the good are what make civilization possible. The bad are what unravel civilization and replace it with people living third world style, in anarchic personal lives bonded into thronging herds.

One of the approaches that Amerika has taken over the years is to view politics as philosophy because every organized system of thought or behavior reflects an underlying way of viewing the world and sense of purpose within it. This reveals some surprises.

For example, under the surface of “collectivism” we find that in fact, individualism motivates each member of that group. This is why idiots bleat about collectivism a lot; they do not want to acknowledge the sin they share in common with that collective, which is the desire to be above anyone who might tell them “no” or that their ideas are unrealistic. This is why conservatism fails, for example.

When we look deeply into individualism, we find that some people are merely bad, and they choose badly, going with their herd animal nature instead of observing, understanding, and adapting to reality. Since they are one step removed from nature through the cooperation and judgment of others, they exist entirely in that bubble.

Soon that bubble expands to include others as they seek to find compromise with the bad ones. This leads to an eternally recurring pattern where human groups become inverted, then ironic, and through that, act against all sensible and natural instincts, propelling them down a path of both self-destruction and a generalized “impulse to destroy”:

We know very little of the Adamites, but the picture that emerges of them – one that comes primarily from their enemies – was of a people more like the Hippie subculture of the 20th century rather than the Middle Ages.

For example, the chronicler Laurence of Brezova writes:

Wandering through forests and hills, some of them fell into such insanity that men and women threw off their clothes and went nude, saying that clothes had been adopted because of the sin of the first parents, but that they were in a state of innocence. From the same madness they supposed that they were not sinning if one of their brethren had intercourse with one of the sisters, and if the woman conceived, she said she had conceived of the Holy Spirit.

The scholar Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who later became Pope Pius II (1458-1464) also noted their supposed sexual activities:

They indulged in promiscuous intercourse, but no one might take a lover without the consent of Adam, their chief elder. When one of these brethren ardently desired a sister, he took her by the hand, and, going with her to the chief elder, said, “My soul is afire with love of this woman.” Whereupon the elder would reply, “Go, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”

These views of Adamites were not necessarily new – in the early centuries of Christianity there was a sect called Adamites and that St. Augustine even mentions they practiced nudism while rejecting marriage.

Wherever ironism goes, the result is the same: invert all that works and replace it with whatever affirms the power of the individual over reality and common sense.

They seek this inversion through “reality is not as it seems” because they desire to cover up something, specifically that natural selection applies to humans and so we are unequal in character, ability, intelligence, and talent because these are inborn and we cannot alter them.

For them, every fact is something to be interpreted in a way that advances the ideology of Leftism. The best way to do this is to read the facts backward, so that effects appear to be causes. Witness a mundane example of backward thinking:

The research, published in the journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, indicates that a chronic lack of money can be damaging to people’s health and wellbeing – something which currently isn’t widely acknowledged by policy makers and mental healthcare providers.

Edited by Dr. Jaime Delgadillo, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield, the international collection of research featured in a special edition of this journal indicates that people living in poverty are more likely to develop mental health problems, which could be related to their increased exposure to adverse life events and a chronic state of unmet material and emotional needs.

The studies presented in the journal examine the relationship between social inequalities and psychological care. Together, the findings show that people living in poverty are less likely to start treatment for mental health problems. Once they do start treatment, they are more likely to have ongoing mental health problems after the treatment is completed, and they face a range of material (e.g. lack of transportation) and social (e.g. stigma) barriers to accessing support. The studies also indicate that people living in poor neighbourhoods are less likely to recover from depression and anxiety symptoms after psychological treatment, compared to people from more affluent neighbourhoods.

Turning this around:

The research, published in the journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, indicates that bad health and low wellbeing can cause a chronic lack of money – something which currently isn’t widely acknowledged by policy makers and mental healthcare providers.

Edited by Dr. Jaime Delgadillo, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield, the international collection of research featured in a special edition of this journal indicates that people with mental health problems are more likely to be living in poverty, which could be related to their increased proclivity for adverse life events and a chronic state of unrecognized material and emotional needs.

The studies presented in the journal examine the relationship between mental health and social inequalities. Together, the findings show that people with mental health problems are less likely to start treatment for living in poverty. Once they do start treatment, they are more likely to have ongoing mental health problems before and after the treatment is completed, and they face a range of material (e.g. lack of transportation) and social (e.g. stigma) barriers to accessing support. The studies also indicate that people living in poor neighbourhoods are less likely to recover from depression and anxiety symptoms after psychological treatment, compared to people from more affluent neighbourhoods.

The last two lines did not require writing because they baldly stated facts, which is why this study gets away with what it does. The earlier material interpreted those facts backward — as our counter-inversion shows — and used those facts to make broad proclamations about policy.

Later facts however simply state the association the study found, which is that some people achieve both wealth and mental health, while others achieve both poverty and mental disease. That is the opposite of the lede which the story chose:

a chronic lack of money can be damaging to people’s health and wellbeing

In fact, as anyone with experience in the world can tell you, poor mental health leads to poor decision-making which leads to having less money. In order to support the dogma of egalitarianism, however, they have to flip that around and blame a lack of money for the mental health issues of the poor.

Since the dawn of time, the riff of ironism has plagued humanity because people want to believe it. Like a good cult, it excuses their failings and blames someone else all in the same statement, while giving a sense of meaning to lives that doubtless need more of it.

Once they are hooked, they cannot remove the parasite because it has become part of what supports their self-esteem. Caught in hopeless contradiction, the civilization collapses, and the last thing that most people try to do is loudly bleat proclamations of innocence as the result of their actions brings their world down around them.

Read more from Amerika…

Is it Possible to Know Goodness without European History?

It’s an often repeated and battled about question for young people, and those young of mind. “Is it possible to be good without God?” And its various iterations.

Here Judeo-Boomer Dennis Prager demonstrates his 115 IQ with an infographic worthy of a Jordan Peterson debate. By the way, if you intend to start a YouTube channel, I suggest you watch as much PragerU as you can. His audience is mostly boomers, the content is easy to parrot, and if you are young, female, and remotely good looking you’ll get both the beta bucks and the boomertards who publicly claim they wish their daughters had role models like you, while watching for the YouTube alert to hope they can add something new to the yank bank.

And If you want to seem edgy forget Patreon and go MakerSupport (which is a good site, by the way, without sarcasm). For a conservative, MakerSupport it will make you seem too edgy for Patreon. If you want to be more mainstream, Patreon is safe as is pretty much everything else deplatforming the real right these days. Hell even Candace “I found Reagan on the road to Damascus” Owens got a public apology from Jack Dorsey for calling her “far-right”.

Here is the answer from a non-militant nearly life-long atheist: Yes. Yes, you can be good without God; yes, even if God does not exist, murder is (still) wrong.

I was an atheist for 37ish years and I was, for the most part, a pretty good person. This is typically a Prager-tier question to atheists in a futile display of boomer-autism to convince young people who have rejected by stench if not logic and history the contemporary religious scene that passes for “Judeo-Christianity.”

Most of my former fellow atheists were atheists because they didn’t like Christianity. I don’t blame them. I don’t like it either. I grew up around Evangelicals who genuinely believed things (frequent but not universal among them) such as:

  1. Scientists are lying about the age of the Earth, the Great Flood, the discovery of certain archaeological sites whose existence would conclusively prove not only the Bible but the Evangelical version. Some Evangelicals believe that dinosaurs were put there by the devil to confuse man.
  2. Scientists lie about stuff all the time, I trained in Geophysics as an undergrad and once had a professor tell me to pretend a mountain didn’t exist so my gravity data would match up with the model we were using. Think about that the next time Bill Nye talks about “climate change models”.
  3. Jews are God’s chosen people and the reason they keep getting kicked out of — well, everywhere they’ve ever been — is because of anti-semitism. I’ve heard Evangelicucks say “Jews are God’s barometer for evil. If someone like Hitler hates God’s chosen people, he hates, God and therefore goodness.” That’s some Hagee-tier rationalization going on there guys. Even if you believe Jews are God’s chosenites, does it follow that it’s always the other guys fault you get kicked out? If a woman goes on 109 dates with 109 guys and no one calls her back, the common denominator is her.
  4. Complex eschatology such as dispensationalism, millennialism, pre-millennial/post-millennial dispensationalism, the two witnesses being stuck down in Jerusalem, and “Biblical prophecy” coming to fulfillment in our lifetimes because Izrul, as John Hagee pronounces it.

Have some of Pastor Hagee at his absolute most Judeo-Boomer:

They really believe this stuff. He is not a fringe nut among American Christians.

In reality the primary cause of the rise of secularism among the west isn’t any goofy belief though, or iron clad paradox seen on Reddit or a logical presentation of science YouTube Skeptic.™ It’s the fact that the churches don’t actually mean anything anymore. Churches are not a home for strength and men you respect. They are the home of the concessionist. They are the place you go for warm feelings of childhood.

In their desire to shield their children (and let’s just be honest here, many of these Christian men, raised in the church and on the internet, are rather uncomfortable with physical sex as well) from “the world” they have constructed a sterile cultural bubble where Christians cannot survive.

When gay marriage was legalized in the US several years ago, one of my best friends, a devout memeer of his Baptist Church, and a layman who often helped out with things needing to be done, turned to me — the secular, single man, who enjoys amusing my married friends with disturbing stories of debauchery — turned to me and said, “I told pastor, that if he wanted to marry a gay couple in our church, I’d stand by him. I’d be proud to have a gay family member.”

Christians today lead nothing, they follow Caesar. They follow, and have followed for a very long time, because they are afraid of “the world” which does not belong to God. In fact, many of my Christian friends like to blame Hollywood, or the MSM, or celebrities, or politicians, academia, really anything they can, for the problems facing the country and the west.

They’ll blame everyone but the one group responsible: themselves.

In the 1970s Christian boomers retreated from the culture and left it to young Marxist culture-makers to bastardize and darken everything good about American and European culture. The fruits of those seeds were reaped in the 90s when The Ellen Show aired TV’s first lesbian kiss, when women began appearing in combat roles in action films, when the zeitgeist turned to feminism as cool. I remember watching MTV play women artists back to back to back to back all weekend one time to prove to radio programmers you could make money off female artists.

As if women had never sung before. But in the 90s my generation witnessed as our classmates: historical illiteracy and professional oppression were the parents of a little mulatto baby named Social “historical oppression” Justice. She has an even more temperamental brother coming of age called “Corporate Social Responsibility” watch out for that ingrate. He’s what happens when HR gets a Six-Sigma black belt.

Back to the question of goodness. We today debate goodness and morality not as if they were subjective. But as if they were a figment of the imagination of Descartes’ demon. Pascal’s Wager once made sense because the worldview of the people to whom he was speaking knew the difference between love and happiness. Today, we seem to have two categories of words related to morality: words that make GoodFeels and words that make BadFeels.

Ask an atheist if it’s possible to be “Good without God” and you’ll usually get snark, or if the atheist is out of college, an eye-roll and an “of course it is: is am good.”

But rather than ask the basic question “Good without God” why not ask a question that rebukes Descartes’ demonic scenario which can only be answered by the very Enlightened cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). And do not apply Pascal’s Wager to people who would rather take ten dollars today than twenty tomorrow. Just watch this regular blonde woman say she would change her opinion on weather preference for $55 US!

Religion today is fungible. It means little because it is a social club one joins to get ahead in life or to have people like yourself with whom to associate. It has no moral foundation.

But it once did.

So rather than address the tired question, “Can you be good without God,” ask, “Is it possible to know if another person is good without a socially agreed upon set of values?”

In more elegant terms: If one claims, “Man can be good without God” simply reply, “But how would you know if he is good without the reality of asking such a question in the shadow of more than a thousand years of European Civilization?”

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Poll: More Americans Hold Liberal Views on Moral Issues

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans hold highly permissive views on top moral issues, including same-sex relations, having a baby outside of marriage, sex outside of marriage, and divorce. The survey further showed that these views have shifted dramatically more to the left since the early 2000s.

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Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds

Judges appointed by Republican presidents gave longer sentences to black defendants and shorter ones to women than judges appointed by Democrats, according to a new study that analyzed data on more than half a million defendants.

“Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared with Democratic-appointed judges,” the study found, adding, “These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.”

The study was conducted by two professors at Harvard Law School, Alma Cohen and Crystal S. Yang. They examined the sentencing practices of about 1,400 federal trial judges over more than 15 years, relying on information from the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

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It has long been known that there is an overall racial sentencing gap, with judges of all political affiliations meting out longer sentences to black offenders. The new study confirmed this, finding that black defendants are sentenced to 4.8 months more than similar offenders of other races.

It was also well known, and perhaps not terribly surprising, that Republican appointees are tougher on crime over all, imposing sentences an average of 2.4 months longer than Democratic appointees.

But the study’s findings on how judges’ partisan affiliations affected the racial and gender gaps were new and startling.

“The racial gap by political affiliation is three months, approximately 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap,” the authors wrote. “We also find that Republican-appointed judges give female defendants two months less in prison than similar male defendants compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap.”

The two kinds of gaps appear to have slightly different explanations. “We find evidence that gender disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by violent offenses and drug offenses,” the study said. “We also find that racial disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by drug offenses.”

The authors of the study sounded a note of caution. “The precise reasons why these disparities by political affiliation exist remain unknown and we caution that our results cannot speak to whether the sentences imposed by Republican- or Democratic-appointed judges are warranted or ‘right,’” the authors wrote. “Our results, however, do suggest that Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges treat defendants differently on the basis of their race and gender given that we observe robust disparities despite the random assignment of cases to judges within the same court.”

The study is studded with fascinating tidbits. Black judges treat male and female offenders more equally than white judges do. Black judges appointed by Republicans treat black offenders more leniently than do other Republican appointees.

More experienced judges are less apt to treat black and female defendants differently. Judges in states with higher levels of racism, as measured by popular support for laws against interracial marriage, are more likely to treat black defendants more harshly than white ones.

{snip}

“Our estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of Republican-appointed judges in each court would increase the racial sentencing gap by approximately 5 percent and the gender sentencing gap by roughly 2 percent,” the authors wrote. “During an average four-year term, a Republican president has the potential to alter the partisan composition of the district courts by over 15 percentage points, potentially increasing the racial and gender sentencing gap by 7.5 and 3 percent, respectively.”

{snip}

{snip} Republican appointees are markedly more likely to vote in a conservative direction than Democratic ones. {snip}

{snip}

But judicial ideology is one thing. The race and gender gaps identified by the new study present a different and difficult set of questions.

{snip}

The post Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds appeared first on American Renaissance.

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Hatch: GOP aims to ban same-sex marriages

The conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports on Monday published the results of its poll, conducted last week, which shows incumbent Republican Gov. Terry Branstad leading Democratic challenger and state Sen. Jack Hatch, 46 percent to 40 percent. That six …

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