Category Archives: Science

Cyril Wecht On Freddie Gray’s Likely Cause of Death

Criminal Injustice, Ethics, Race, Reason, Science

Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht has been around the block a few times. Two minutes and 31 seconds into this typically tedious, CNN broadcast, Dr. Wecht ventures the following with conviction, about the Freddie Gray murder. I paraphrase:

Legs shackled and hands cuffed, placed in a prone position, face down—a position that has been banned for decades, claims Wecht—how, pray tell, did Freddie Gray run around, banging himself against the van’s interior?

The victim is yelling and screaming for help. His body is inert and the van is moving. Right there is the velocity needed to create the force for the injuries! Those injuries are not spontaneous pathological fractures; the injuries came as the body flapped back and forth, breaking the vertebrae in the neck and eventually severing the spinal cord.

Indubitably, the injuries were sustained by the police by their stopping Gray. Gray did not sustain those spontaneously. Also quite possible, says Wecht, and as I’ve hypothesized, the initial injuries were produced when police compressed and leaned into Gray’s back, to be aggravated by the flopping around in the van.

The Data Are In: Even American PhDs Are … Dumber

America, Education, Literature, Science, Technology

I’ve been saying it for years, based on my encounters with a relatively smart cohort, through this column. My husband, a South African PhD (received at the age of 24), has been saying it for a long time based on encounters in his field. Barely A Blog correspondent Myron Pauli, a physics PhD from MIT (of which he thinks poorly), has been saying it over these pixelated pages:

American millennials, in general—but even with masters degrees and doctorates—are unimpressive, to put it charitably. They do, however, score high in self-esteem, which is part of the problem. From a 2007, Ottawa Citizen article I wrote:

Paradoxically, while our high school students score near the bottom in international competitions, when asked to rate themselves, they consistently give themselves top marks. But then so do their parents and teachers. Thanks to constant, unwarranted worship, and no moral or rigorous intellectual instruction, American schools are full of lame and lazy megalomaniacs.

The Washington Post cites a recent report by “the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECDU.S,” according to which “millennials with master’s degrees and doctorates did better than their peers in only three countries, Ireland, Poland and Spain. Those in Finland, Sweden and Japan seemed to be on a different planet.”

Top-scoring U.S. millennials – the 90th percentile on the PIAAC test – were at the bottom internationally, ranking higher only than their peers in Spain. The bottom percentile (10th percentile) also lagged behind their peers. And the gap between America’s best and worst was greater than the gap in 14 other countries. This, the study authors said, signaled America’s high degree of inequality.

The “daunting” PIAAC Test showed that “U.S. millennials performed horribly.”

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

“We were taken aback,” said ETS researcher Anita Sands. “We tend to think millennials are really savvy in this area. But that’s not what we are seeing.”

By the way, note how forthrightly readers of the liberal WaPo discuss the well-documented racial differences in scholarly achievement. Alas, could the “dumbassery” documented in the WaPo article be manifesting in the reading and comprehension skills of its readers? For the article explicitly states that results were consistent across “class” and “race.” Yet many readers missed this crucial tidbit.

The information comes courtesy of Vox Day, who also quips as follows about the findings:

This isn’t surprising to me. Generation X had to understand its toys in order to play with them. There is nothing creative about a tablet or a smartphone. You can’t do anything on it. It’s basically a dumb terminal on the mainframe of the Internet. These digital natives are actually digital cargo cultists, comfortably familiar using things they don’t actually know the first thing about. As far as they’re concerned, it might as well be magic.

Gunning For Your Rights: Data Vs. Rights-Based Deductive Reasoning

GUNS, Individual Rights, Natural Law, Reason, Science

When motivating for the individual, natural rights to life and property always proceed from an argument from rights and not from a utilitarian, outcome-based position. After all, individual rights are not predicated on an optimal statistical outcome.

With respect to the Second Amendment right of self-defense: Ample empirical data exist of a statistically meaningful correlation between a well-armed citizenry—i.e., in middle-class neighborhoods as opposed to in gangland—and lower crime rates, in aggregate. New Hampshire is an example of a heavily armed, low-crime state.

Moreover, the benefits of a well-armed population redound to the non-carrying crowd. David Kopel is one of the finest and most respected 2nd Amendment scholars in the country. About these “free riders,” Kopel writes the following in the Arizona Law Review, Summer 2001, Symposium on Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America:

American homes which do not have guns enjoy significant “free rider” benefits. Gun owners bear financial and other burdens of gun ownership; but gun-free and gun-owning homes enjoy exactly the same general burglary deterrence effects from widespread American gun ownership. This positive externality of gun ownership is difficult to account for in a litigation context (since the quantity and cost of deterred crime is difficult to measure), and may even go unnoticed by court–since the free rider beneficiaries (non-gun owners) are not represented before the court.

In other words, the unarmed owe the armed among you a debt of gratitude. We subsidize your safety. Read on.

However, what if this were this not the case? What if, for some weird, wonderful, unlikely and inexplicable reason, arming yourself, commensurate with your right to defend your life, increased the aggregate crime rate in your community? Would this hypothetical empirical data somehow invalidate your inalienable, individual right to protect your life, loved-ones and property?

No! It would so do only if you accept that, de facto, you do not posses an inherent right to life and property.

For, at the risk of repeating what ought to be obvious:

… a right that can’t be defended is a right in name only. Inherent in the idea of an inalienable right is the right to mount a vigorous defense of the same right. If you cannot by law defend your life, you have no right to life.
By logical extension, Britons are bereft of the right to life. Not only are the traditional ‘Rights of Englishmen’—the inspiration for the American founders—no longer cool in Cool Britannia; but they’ve been eroded in law. The great system of law that the English people once held dear, including the 1689 English Bill of Rights—subsumed within which was the right to possess arms—is no longer. British legislators have disarmed their law-abiding subjects, who now defend themselves against a pampered, protected and armed criminal class at their own peril. Naturally, most of the (unnatural) elites enjoy taxpayer-funded security details. …

UPDATED: A Pesky Pussy @ Antiwar.com (Steigerwald, Oy Gevalt!)

Feminism, Gender, libertarianism, Paleolibertarianism, Race, Racism, Reason, Science, Socialism

It used to be that Justin Raimondo was more discerning about the women he welcomed into the Antiwar.com fold. Here is how Mr. Raimondo welcomed this writer:

A major confetti-throwing welcome on the occasion of Ilana Mercer’s first regular column for Antiwar.com. Ilana is a principled longtime libertarian, and literally an international figure: she’s an ex-Israeli, ex-South African, and ex-Canadian, now a permanent resident of the U.S. And it isn’t only her prose that’s beautiful. She’s opinionated, she can write, and she’s a lot of fun. Give her a warm welcome by checking out her column.

“Respect,” as Ali G.—the creation of comedic genius Sacha Baron Cohen—would have said.

I sincerely hope Mr. Raimondo is not losing his grip on this important outfit. For no sooner had contrarian libertarians celebrated the voluntary departure of “regimist” Cathy Reisenwitz from libertarian activism —than one of Raimondo’s new columnists unleashed herself on this writer, rabbiting on about racism. Just like Reisenwitz.

This is ironic, because, Mr. Raimondo—a life-long, creedal libertarian—had smoked Reisenwitz out for libeling Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Hans-Hermann Hoppe as racists. I don’t expect Justin to defend me too; he and I have had a fractious relationship (although I was under the impression that some respect for each other’s commitment to liberty accounts for the détente). I do expect Justin to call off his hound-dog. No boot; just Kibbles ‘n Bits (it’s for her own good).

The paper trail of one Lucy Steigerwald is short, the prose turgid, the topics well-trodden, the angle never original. Nevertheless, this second-hander has enough to say about my column (begun in Canada, circa 1998). What It has to say is terribly predictable, tedious, and now time-consuming (opportunity costs mounting).

Long-time readers of this space will have figured out what it is that I’m being fingered for. A bit of hyperbole—literary license, really—has gotten me into hot water. For asserting that “whites don’t riot and loot” (from “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law”), I am said to be swimming is very polluted waters. The dodo Steigerwald has diagnosed me as suffering “certain propensities for racist generalizations.” Strictly speaking, I should have anticipated the response of tinny automatons like Steigerwhatshername, and written that “whites are less likely to riot and loot than blacks.” In any event, corrective feedback to that effect would have been appreciated and acted upon. Instead, I find myself fending off a bloodhound scenting for her prey: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fem, Steigerwald Has Smelt The Blood Of A ‘Racist.'” Oy gevalt! Once started, nothing will stop the “fee-fi-fo-fem’s frenzy” of a Steigerwald (who has twice now maligned me).

Steigerwald’s worldview belongs to a tyrannical, joyless tradition. The hateful habit of policing what people say for political propriety; snidely intimating that they are somehow defective on those grounds alone and deserve to be purged from “polite” company; scrutinizing literature, music, art, television or comedy for signs of so-called sexism, racism, elitism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and meanness—this belongs squarely to the tradition of cultural Marxism. “Political correctness, especially in libertarian circles, is cultural Marxism masquerading in libertarian clothing,” warns Hans-Hermann Hoppe. It is “[a]n intellectual joke, indicating the loss of all common sense and, propagated by self-described libertarians, seriously harmful to the intellectual reputation and further development of libertarianism and libertarian scholarship.”

Indeed, what kind of libertarian polices speech for propriety, and alights on those who violate standards set by the PC set? An excuse for a libertarian! Like left-liberals, “lite libertarians”—they’re the kind that is afflicted with the same spineless conformity; a deformation of the personality euphemized as political correctness—are incapable of appreciating a script or book; a painting or symphony; a stand-up routine, if only because the material and its creator violates the received laws of political correctness. As far as promoting the demonstrably false racism meme—what speech is racist, what slip of the pen (like mine) or tongue deserves outing; which feelings are bigoted; the kind of humor that is off-color; the fears of The Other that are verboten—this kind of left-libertarianism is indistinguishable from left-liberalism on this front.

On the matter of my alleged “propensities for racist generalizations,” here’s my reply, taken almost verbatim from “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa” (pp. 41-42):

My answer to those who’d fault me for daring to make broad statements about aggregate group characteristics, vis-à-vis crime [or rioting], … would be as follows: Generalizations, provided they are substantiated by hard evidence, not hunches, are not incorrect. Science relies on the ability to generalize to the larger population observations drawn from a representative sample. People make prudent decisions in their daily lives based on probabilities and generalities. That one chooses not to live in a particular crime-riddled county or country in no way implies that one considers all residents to be criminals, only that a sensible determination has been made, based on statistically significant data, as to where scarce and precious resources—one’s life and property—are best invested.

For me, the road to freedom lies in beating back the state, so that individuals may regain freedom of association, dominion over property, the absolute right of self-defense; the right to hire, fire, and generally, associate at will. As a paleolibertarian, however, my idea of liberty is never propositional–it is not a deracinated principle, unmoored from the realities of history, hierarchy, biology, tradition, culture, values. The paleolibertarian grasps that liberty has a civilizational dimension, stripped of which the libertarian non-aggression axiom, by which we all must live, cannot endure.

Race is never an organizing principle in my work. You have to be an idiot to say so. I am, however, a bit of a misogynist. And for good reason.

UPDATE (1/14)::

* Cathy Reisenwitz Redux: Steigerwald, Oy Gevalt!

* Target Liberty

* Quarterly Review: “Ilana Mercer reads the riot act.”