First, let’s pause for a moment to remember the victims of last Friday night in Sweden.
This weekend, Rush Limbaugh explained to Chris Wallace why Barack Obama was able to get major legislation passed when he took office in 2009:
You have the first African-American president. You have everybody falling all over themselves to acknowledge that, to reward that. Obama was going to get everything he wanted in the first year because if anybody opposed it, they were going to be accused of being a racist, or a bigot, or who knows what.
Rush, with his usual acumen—he is, after all, the popularizer of the “Barack the Magic Negro” meme—hit the nail right on the head: Barack “I’m black” Obama, our first affirmative-action President, benefitted from the usual deference displayed in America towards people of color and the privilege that comes from being black. Like blacks across the country in all walks of life, Obama got to go to the head of the line and no one dared say a word in opposition.
What’s interesting is that Mr. Limbaugh, who does not even see race but can still opine about it, has long insisted that millions of people voted for Obama only because he is African-American; yet Limbaugh steadfastly denies that anyone at all voted against Obama for the same reason. Apparently only liberals see race; color-blind conservatives merely view the issues rationally and dispassionately, as Martin Luther King would have wanted.
Rod Dreher (at The American Conservative) has been publicly fuming about the court ruling against the mild-mannered Washington grandmother and florist, Barronelle Stutzman, who refused to do a floral arrangement for a wedding between two men (long-time customers of hers, as it happens). The courts (state courts and appellate courts) have consistently ruled that Ms. Stutzman’s religious beliefs do not allow her to discriminate among paying customers, and that selling (and arranging) flowers for a wedding in no way constitutes an endorsement of said nuptials.
Nowhere in Mr. Dreher’s fulminations does he either acknowledge or deny the relevant undisputed fact: Ms. Stutzman was breaking the law. Perhaps the law ought to include a “religious conscience” exemption, but as currently written in Washington State, it does not. The courts could not have ruled otherwise—unless, heaven forfend, they were to substitute their own judgment for that of the state legislature and thereby make law from the bench; which, as we know, is the very definition of meddling judicial activism.
I would also note that Dreher’s insistence that courts should defer to Ms. Stutzman’s “conscience” is passing strange in itself. Mr. Dreher is no fan of the modern (Protestant) individual whose conscience is the final authority; shouldn’t Ms. Stutzman at least have consulted some clerical authority before deciding, all on her own, what her religious beliefs did and did not allow? Next thing you know, every Tom, Dick, and Martin Luther will be claiming the authority to interpret Scripture and to discern God’s will all on their own.
Does religion have a future? The best way to figure that out, of course, is via an algorithm which enables you to run computer simulations from which you can then extrapolate in order to make your prediction. What you need is this:
Plus, of course, some good data; or says Boston University philosopher and theologian Wesley Wildman, along with his colleagues at the Modeling Religion Project.
Michael Fitzgerald, writing at Nautilus, sums up what the MRP has concluded thus far:
The Modeling Religion Project continues to refine its models and build new ones. One of its recent models looks at how religion and violent behavior interact. And the team is currently working on a Holy Grail of sorts, LuCy, short for “lucid cybernetic agent,” and a nod to the hominid fossil that is over 3 million years old, to plumb deeper into the origin of religion.
So far, Wildman says, the project has shown that both supernatural and non-supernatural societies can and do occur, depending, of course, on the variables. When he looks past the project, though, Wildman sees the perennial emergence of supernatural ones. People have a basic propensity—a biological imperative—toward a desire to ascribe actions to an agent, a being, even one we cannot see, Wildman says. “Every generation is born supernaturalists.”
That's quite a powerful algorithm, alright, which can conclude that both kinds of society (supernatural and non-supernatural) can and do exist, "depending, of course, on the variables." I can't wait to find out what the Modeling Religion Project has to say about "how religion and violent behavior interact"; I sure hope they get LuCy online before it's too late.
According to thousands of mental-health professionals who have never met him, much less examined him, our so-called “President” Donald Trump is—not to put too fine a point on it—certifiably nuts:
Nearly 60,000 mental health professionals have diagnosed President Donald Trump with a type of insanity that is often compared to an alcoholic’s lack of honesty and impulse control. Sparked by Change.org petitions by a top former Johns Hopkins professor and a California congresswoman, the psychiatric community has declared that Trump suffers from “Malignant Narcissism.”
In diagnosing Donald Trump, mental health pros are breaking with a decades-old precedent. After Barry Goldwater won a 1969 defamation lawsuit when psychiatrists called him crazy in Fact magazine, the psychiatric community put in place a “Goldwater Rule” in their ethics handbook that forbids diagnosing public figures.
So why are psychologists breaking with tradition now? A big problem during the Goldwater scenario was that there weren’t objective criteria for diagnosing mental health conditions at the time. Therapists used all sorts of jargon and their best judgment—but they were all over the place. Since then, however, the community has put in place official, objective standards in their bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short). This makes it possible to unanimously agree on diagnoses.
As someone who has a fair amount of experience in this area, I can honestly say that last paragraph, and especially the final sentence, is among the funniest things I have ever read. Shane Snow, author of the article, has a great future ahead of him in comedy.