William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 5 of 707

Stream: EPA Issues 57-State Climate Warning!

The EPA. Like a Kungfu Ninja.

The EPA. Like a Kungfu Ninja.

Today’s post is at the Stream: EPA Issues 57-State Climate Warning!

Strike that. It’s a 50-State warning. That 57 came from elsewhere in the Obama administration.

Well, 50 is less than 57, so the warning is not as dire as you might have thought. Yet it’s still serious. Everybody knows that our beneficent government knows best and that all its cautions should be heeded. This is why you should listen to its bureaucratic experts, who are saying “climate change” will have “impacts.”


Very real impacts,” says the EPA. And what is real is not a fantasy. So get ready to rumble, weather wise. But before thinking about that, we have to understand what “climate change” is.

Here is a scientific fact. In 1936, a typical year, the climate of the earth was perfect. Every afternoon everywhere was sunny and a clement 78 degrees on Mister Fahrenheit’s scale, even in winter. The rain fell in amounts sufficient to water every crop, fill every stream, and extinguish every forest fire—and then it stopped. Floods didn’t happen. There was just enough wind to loft every kite, and no more.

Of course, it’s true that an anomalous heatwave killed over 12,000 Americans in 1936. But still, since there was quite a lot less carbon dioxide in the air then than now, the climate was necessarily better.

The climate was also better in 1886, long before people were burning gasoline on their commutes to work. It was better because there was less atmospheric carbon dioxide, even less than in 1936. And it was better even though the USA was hit by seven hurricanes, the most since records began to be kept (which wasn’t that long ago).

The climate continued to be better than it is now, right up through the 1960s and 1970s when the consensus was that global cooling was going to kill many people. Good thing it never happened (the government had not yet reached its current state of perfection)…

Go there to read how much your government really cares.

Is Homosexuality A Disability?



Guy’s walking along, innocent like, when, lo, he has his “nuts bit off by a Laplander“.

Perhaps needless to say, his young wife is distressed over the incident. What goes through the poor man’s mind, as you men out there will understand, is easy to guess. But, more importantly, can we say the man now has a disability?

You bet we can.

Suppose instead that, from before birth, a genetic anomaly, the feared Lapinkoira Suomenlapinkoira syndrome, causes the man to be born without the extremities so enticing to the aforementioned hound. He still have a disability?

Yes, and the same one.

And would it also be a disability if the syndrome did its number on only the first of the pair of pertinents? Yes. Not firing on all cylinders is a disability. Not all disabilities are as disabling as others: disabilities have gradations.

Now suppose another man, by whatever method, by choice or by biochemical means as yet undiscovered, despite an intense search and lack of plausible mechanism, acts exclusively on his self-declared same-sex attraction. He have a disability?

He does. It is effectively the same disability as the man who met the dog. The second man cannot reproduce, and, with trivial and known qualifications, not being able to reproduce is a disability.

But wait. This is the modern world, and what was trivial and obvious to our ancestors is hidden and difficult for many of us. A prepubescent male is unable to reproduce, but his inability is not a disability, because—and be careful agreeing with me here, for that will have deep consequences—it is not in the nature of prepubescents to be able to reproduce.

Being stuck on a desert isle—or in a Womyn’s Studies Department, which is a near equivalent—is also a bar to reproduction, but it is obvious that it is not a disability, just the lack of chance for an ability.

Choosing not to reproduce is also not a disability, but the refusal to use an ability. The man who has same-sex attraction is only refusing to use his ability to reproduce in the most trifling sense. It is exactly the same sense when a normal man refuses to use his ability on any but his own wife: he could, but he chooses not to (“desert-isle” circumstance may prevent him even if he chooses to).

No. We are told, and supporters are adamant, that same-sex attraction is not a choice. It is therefore a disability, because the lack of the ability to reproduce is a disability. And this is so because it is in the nature of men to reproduce. Ask your father for verification.

The only possible objection to this is to deny the nature of man. If you do that, you also deny the nature of prepubescent males. You must even deny the difference between males and females, for to recognize any distinction is to recognize human nature, and if you recognize human nature the only questions left are what characteristics are proper to man’s nature and which are accidents. But if you insist same-sex attraction is not a disability, then you are are left arguing that reproduction is not natural, which is absurd.

The conclusion is that (exclusive) same-sex attraction is a disability, and a major one. Of course, lacking a foot or having congestive heart failure are also disabilities, not necessarily to reproduction, but to health in general. Having a disability is not therefore in itself a judgment on a person’s morality. Acts are always reason for a judgment on a person’s morality. And there we leave it.

This is but an introduction to the real story, which is this: Christian Organization Apologizes After Keynote Speaker Argues That Homosexuality Is a Disability.

Michael Rea, president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, apologized Saturday to anyone who may have been offended by a recent presentation by leading Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne at the 2016 Midwest Society of Christian Philosophers in which Swinburne said homosexuality could be considered a disability.

More about it here: ‘Shut Up, Bigot!’ The Philosophers Argued. Another attendee, one Hackett, said, “My response was mixture of abhorrence and overwhelming anger”, which only proves he doesn’t get out of the house enough—or that he is willing to use hyperbole to advance a fallacy.

Rea’s and Hackett’s conclusion is that a (most mild-mannered) Christian speaking of the historic and accurate interpretation of Christianity at a Christian philosophy conference now requires apology.

Reportedly, Swinburne also said same-sex attraction is “incurable”, a mistake and false in fact. There have been many men who reported prior exclusive same-sex attraction but who were able to lose their disability.

Regular readers will recall the prediction that the time is soon coming where the culture will demand not only that you not disavow homosexual acts, and not only that you not just tolerate them, but where you will you be required to say they are in some sense superior to heterosexual acts. Claiming, what is true, that homosexuality is a disability will be classed as “hate speech”, and will be proscribed.

Bonus A Georgetown University academic philosopher says Swinburne and his supporters, whom she labels “douche tankards”, can, she says, “suck my giant queer [go and find out which learned word she used].”

The Culture is Wrong, and The Church is Right: Zmirak’s New Book Reviewed


Today’s post is at One Peter Five: The Culture is Wrong, and The Church is Right: Zmirak’s New Book Reviewed.

Scurry out and buy two copies of John “Bad Catholic” Zmirak’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. Keep one for yourself, and give the other to your priest or clergyman (despite the title, this book is for all Christians). Be quick: get it to him before the election.

If you have a clergywoman, buy three copies, because she might throw the first one out the window.

Cringe at that (anemic) joke, did you? Then, boy howdy, do you need Zmirak’s book. Hyper-sensitivity to trivial and imagined sleights, and the notion that any disagreement to the prevailing progressive ideology is immoral, are the hallmarks of our age. It’s pleasant to discover somebody who isn’t buying it.

Here is a partial list of the politically incorrect opinions Zmirak outlines. Catholics, and by extension all Christians, can’t support socialism. Catholics cannot support abortion in any form: Catholics can’t be personally against abortion but be happy to vote for it for the sake of others who do support it. Catholics must especially eschew artificial means of preventing conception. Catholics can own guns and use them to defend themselves against maniacal intruders, even if those maniacal intruders are amnesty-seeking immigrants, and even if those amnesty-seeking immigrants are Muslims. Catholics don’t have to support wide open borders, nor do they have to believe in one-world government.

Catholics can support the investment of capital, and can support personal property rights. Catholics can even believe profit is good, while simultaneously professing the love of money is root of all evil. Catholics must believe same-sex “weddings” are evil and they must not participate in them. Catholics must also say that homosexual acts are sins that cry out to heaven. Catholics can support a just war and the death penalty. Catholics can be proud of the Crusades. Catholics can and should support good science. But no Catholic is obligated to support bad science, and this is so even if it the Pope himself who is touting the bad science.

No Catholic is obligated to believe everything the Pope said, especially if what he said is a flippant remark made on a low-oxygen aluminum tube hurtling through the atmosphere. Personal incredulity is even more justified if the remark appears to go against centuries of Magisterial teaching.

No Catholic must profess that every Pope is above average…

Go there to read the rest. Bonus Patton quote at the end!

Prince Metternich Predicts Our Future From 1834 & Nails It


I saw a link to an interesting looking article entitled “Conversations With Prince Metternich” from our friend Nick B. Steves, clicked it and jumped right in.

IT was in the early part of the winter of 1834 that I made the acquaintance of Prince Mettemich at Vienna. He had heard of the interest that I took in Dr. Gall’s system; and soon after my arrival in the Austrian capital, a lady, a mutual friend, and a relation of his wife, communicated to me the Prince‚Äôs wish to see me at his palace. I was told to go there any evening about ten, and I lost no time in profiting by the opportunity. I was ushered into the saloon of the Princess, the beautiful Melanie, born Countess Zichy Ferraris, whom I found surrounded by a small and somewhat noisy circle of relations and friends….

“Brilliant!”, thought I after reading four or five paragraphs. “This blogger has beautifully captured mid-Nineteenth Century English. What talent.” Gall, of course, was Franz Joseph Gall, the phrenologist. We giggle now, but phrenology was The Consensus (it had about same fractional support as today’s Consensus), and when science is a Consensus, it is settled. At any rate, it wasn’t an implausible theory given the then state of medical knowledge; it was also much discussed and I was surprised the reader would know Metternich was familiar with it.

He again drew me aside, and returned to the subject of phrenology. The outcry against Gall’s discoveries,’ he said, ‘as leading to Materialism, was founded on ignorance. I saw the subject in a totally different light and had I not done so, I should have been one of Gall’s opponents. Nevertheless,’ he added, ‘Gall himself was a Materialist and this was the only point on which we could not agree.’

The Prince said that he found also in the phrenological principles a confirmation of the existence of God. He had told Gall that he should oppose him if his doctrines of the functions of the brain should lead to materialism and atheism, but that he had soon found out the contrary. I mentioned the opinions expressed in the Phrenological Journal, that the religious sentiments were the result of inborn fundamental faculties of the brain. ‘Yes,’ said the Prince, suddenly interrupting me, ‘they could not be there without a purpose. It is impossible to suppose the Almighty meant to deceive his creatures.’

It was at this point I became convinced this essay was a brilliant spoof of our modern days. Here was a witty observation about current theories of the brain and free will. Next was a trenchant observation of how the government harms its poorest, which it then assists.

I was told, too, that excessive gambling in the ‘Lotto’ had brought many into the ‘Narrenthurm’ [the lunatic asylum]. This Lotto, I may mention here, is a vile kind of lottery, which makes gambling easy and alluring to the poorest classes, and brings in considerable revenues to the State. In all the provincial capitals of the Austrian empire, as well as in Vienna, drawings periodically take place. Out of ninety numbers, five are drawn; speculators can stake even as small an amount as the value of a penny on such numbers as they fancy be the lucky ones, receiving in proportion as they stake on one number, or on two or on three, and in their order of, succession or not. The gain being great to those who hit upon three numbers in their order of succession, the amount that may be staked on this chance is limited, to prevent the State exchequer running too great a risk of having to disgorge. There are offices for staking on the numbers in every little town. In several I have had opportunities of observing the poorest classes carry articles of clothing, &c., to the pawnbroker’s on the evenings before a drawing, and then go with the money to the lotto office. The rage for gambling and the consequent misery resulting from this lotto system of the ‘paternal government’ of Austria may be easily imagined.

There were other reasons for madness:

[The prince] told me that it had been proved in Paris that gambling and politics were the principal causes of suicide. He added, that many minds became unhinged in consequence of frequently attending the debates—a characteristic idea of his Highness.

Then came the scathing barbs against modern philosophy.

He spoke much of the German philosophic systems, which he did not like. With his matter-of-fact understanding (Plattgeist) he could not, he said, admire such pure speculations and theories as the German philosophers indulged in. They were extraordinary creations of the imagination, glittering castles built upon sand. The reflective faculties were wrongly directed, and the inductive philosophy too much neglected, in Germany. When the German philosophy was examined by the light of physical science, it was found to consist principally of fine words, the sense of which no two minds would interpret exactly in the same way. He blamed, too, the synthetical system of mental philosophy, as opposed to the analytical.

A short thrust at scientism and then a more sustained one at atheism.

‘Lalande, the astronomer,’ he said, ‘exerted himself to the utmost, when I associated with him at Paris to convert me to atheism. I told him, firstly, that his principles were repugnant to my feelings; and secondly, that he ennuied me extremely. It did not silence him, so at last I said “You do not believe in God.” He affirmed it. “Well,” I replied, “I do believe in God, so we are both believers. The only difference is that I believe yes, and you believe no; so let us continue good friends, and drop this subject, for no one can prove what he believes.” The Prince told me this anecdote both in German and French, with an air of much self- satisfaction.

Another jab at scientistic materialism and the current idea that nothing separates man and beast except a few neurons. (I added paragraph breaks here.)

Subsequently he mentioned that he wished to have it fully established to what extent the faculties of animals were capable of development. On the one hand, he said, he did not think their treatment by man such as to elicit all their powers; but on the other, he could not agree with those philosophers who assert that animals have souls. Their instincts and propensities he found to be something quite different from the moral and intellectual faculties of man. I ventured to dissent from this view in its general and absolute bearing, stating that several of the intellectual differences between man and the superior animals were more quantitative than qualitative. I called his attention to many of the actions of monkeys and dogs which could not be explained by so-called ‘blind instinct.’

The Prince acknowledged that dogs would choose between motives, as when they will check their inclination to steal food from the recollection of punishment; but nevertheless I found it to be entirely repugnant to his religious feelings to suppose it possible that animals could have souls. He did not hold with the celebrated German physiologist, Burdach who has said that man in his pride never did a more foolish thing than when he built up a wall between himself and the rest of the animal creation. The Prince stated, however, that although he firmly believed the soul of man to be an immaterial essence or principle, yet he could not deny that all mental manifestations were dependent on material conditions.

A devastating critique against those who would ban capital punishment.

The execution of criminals became the subject of conversation. The Prince defended this extreme rigour of the law in cases of murder saying that it should not be view in the light of punishment but of prevention only. Therefore he thought judges should never enter into the question whether a convicted murderer were a monomaniac or not, but leave him to be executed as a warning to others. Besides, it would be dangerous for society if it were established that eccentric indulgence in unbridled passions should they lead to murder, might be excused on the score of unsound mind, Prince Schönburg mentioned a project in Saxon to abolish public executions, and to have them take place in jails before certain public functionaries.

This plan Prince Metternich decidedly disapproved of; it would be as well, he said, to do away with capital punishments altogether, for the object being to deter by the example of a painful and ignominious death, the public at large would soon cease to believe in executions if they took place within the precincts of jails, and before social persons only. A little incident amused me in the course of this conversation. Prince Schönburg expressed his doubts whether cases of monomania should be exempted from capital punishment or not, and whilst apparently anxious for the solution of this question, and without allowing time or its discussion, he started another question, viz., Whether executions at all were useful? Prince Metternich immediately, and in no very gentle manner, desired him not to confound two distinct questions, nor whilst requiring an answer to one, to expect at the same time an answer to the other. He alluded to the frequency of such illogical proceedings in conversation, and to the confusion which they cause in arguments…

A lurid media is pilloried.

In the course of our conversation this evening, the Prince expressed his disapproval of the publication of crimes and suicides, with all their details, in the public prints. He considered this custom, as it takes place in England, to be injurious to society. It often created a morbid taste for horrors, and led to the commission of crimes and suicide, owing to the instinctive imitative propensities of man. I was again struck with the remarkable composure and self-possession of the Prince, though he never seemed to be thinking of himself, as a diffident man generally does.

Democratic politics gutted.

The Prince now, for the first time, began to speak to me of the political state of things in England… ‘In reality, neither Tories nor Whigs exist any longer as bodies, although individuals may cherish the old party principles. Conservatives and Radicals are now the only two political parties in England.’…The Prince made some remark on the interpretation put on the word Reform, on the variety of meanings different people attached to it…’Mankind,’ he added, ‘is always anxious for change, always wanting to be doing something. Men attach too much importance to words. They seldom know what they really want, or they disguise selfish desires under some specious cloak, some popular cry.’… The Prince made some sagacious remarks on the necessity in politics and legislation of well calculating reactions. ‘As in physics,’ he said,’so in politics ; every action has its reaction ; and superficial politicians, in their desire for change, are unable to foresee how the measures they advocate, if carried out, would react upon society.’

On what he called the spirit of the age—the craving for change—the Prince entered at some length, and used the simile of the stream, which it would be dangerous to attempt to stem altogether, but which could not be left to take its own course. ‘The wise,’ he said, ‘would take care to direct it into such channels as would irrigate the fields, and be of benefit to the country.’…

‘The entire difference,’ said the Prince, ‘between enlightened politicians and the advocates of violent measures may be exemplified by the difference in the signification of the singular and the plural of the word Reform. A man who uses this term in the singular, exclaiming, “I am for Reform,” is a revolutionist and an advocate of every kind of Violent change which would suit his selfish ends or his vague conceited notions of things; but the term reforms means the salutary removal of certain impediments to the welfare of society which powerful minds, after a thorough investigation and consideration of circumstances, have found to be such: therefore every enlightened politician may pronounce himself an advocate of reforms.’ The same distinction of parties and motives he added, might be applied to the use of the word ‘liberty’ in its singular and plural meanings (Freiheit und Freheiten). Those who were always crying out for liberty, he said, wanted exemption from control, a general licence to gratify their individual desires and passions, and moreover power to tyrannize over others; but the plural sense, liberties, did not exclude that protection which good laws and wise social arrangements afforded to every virtuous citizen.

The dismal consequences of universal suffrage and education. (My paragraph breaks again.)

‘Man,’ he continued, ‘is said to be born for freedom, and thus we have the cry for universal suffrage and freedom of the press, institutions for which society is very far from being prepared. As well might it be proposed that because the horse is the animal most fitted for drawing vehicles I should take a wild steed from the plains, and without subjecting it to a long process of training harness it to a carriage in which I had placed my ‘beloved wife and children. Who but a fool would act in this way? And yet the folly would be equally great to give universal suffrage to a people incapable of making a proper use of it.’

I spoke to him of the power of education, and the mischief resulting from too much control, too much bureaucratic police rule, which must always prevent the development of those faculties and those social habits which alone could fit men for freedom. ‘It is quite impossible,’ replied the Prince, ‘for all classes of society to arrive at that degree of education and enlightenment necessary to enable a State or community to derive benefit from ultrademocratic institutions.

‘A large proportion of the inhabitants of any country must always work, and besides be debarred the mental capacity to appreciate virtue. What folly, then to allow a licentious press to appeal to and inflame their passions, promote discontent and anarchy.’ He again referred to the injurious effects on society from the reports of murders, robberies, brawls, and so on, in the English papers. Such reports, he asserted, increased the number of crimes, and tended to demoralize the people. ‘What people in the world,’ he added, ‘are such horrormongers as the English? It is disgusting to see how they crowd to any place where some dreadful crime has been committed; and men in general will always prefer such objects as appeal to their vulgar curiosity and animal passions, to such as require a purely intellectual and moral appreciation.’

Like I said above, and like I said in the comment to this article, “Before I checked the (obvious, well-placed) link at the top, I thought this was a subtle, superior, superlative spoof of modern culture.”

The well placed link was to Fraser’s magazine from 1860, which is digitized.

I of course cut a lot of context and content, my notes retaining perhaps a fourth of the original.

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