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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Links - 25th July 2016

The Gulen Movement Is Not a Cult -- It's One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam Today - "Gulen arguably lacked even the capability to organize a serious coup in an army that, over decades, has rigorously weeded Hizmet followers out — indeed, any officers showing any religious beliefs. Turkish intelligence has also been all over the movement for years, amassing massive dossiers. Why would Gulen choose to attempt a coup that’s contrary to all his views and at a time of maximum weakness vis-a-vis Erdogan?... It beggars the imagination to believe that the now tens of thousands of people purged and arrested — police, army, judges, lawyers, teachers, bankers, journalists — are all terrorist enemies of the state. Clearly Erdogan is seizing the occasion to eliminate any and all opposition to his plans to create a new super-powerful presidency for himself. Erdogan will find many, even within his own party, who are dismayed at his reach for total power — but are cowed into silence. Once objective journalists now watch their words."

Tool to help police spot suspects engaging in extremism being developed - "A tool to help police detect individuals who may be engaged in online violent extremism early on is being developed by the Home Team Behavioural Science Centre (HTBSC), said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee on Wednesday (Jul 13). He said the Online Violent Extremism Screening Tool is being developed so that interventions can be prioritised for these high-risk persons. The Senior Minister of State was speaking at the Asian Conference of Criminal and Operations Psychology (ACCOP) held here."
If you needed proof that Ah Kong is watching everything you do online...

Young women can’t cope with ANY ideas that challenge their 'right-on view of the world' - "I knew many wouldn’t agree with my stance, which was that Evans had completed his sentence and should be able to return to his profession. But during the final Q&A all hell broke loose. I dared suggest (as eminent feminists have before me) that rape wasn’t necessarily the worst thing a woman could experience. I expected robust discussion - not for them all to dissolve into outraged gasps of, ‘You can’t say that!’... It illustrated this generation’s almost belligerent sense of entitlement. They assume their emotional suffering takes precedence. Express a view they disagree with and you must immediately recant and apologise. But as I argue in my new book - I Find That Offensive! - Generation Snowflake believe it’s their right to be protected from anything they might find unpalatable. This mindset is particularly rife in universities. The examples are beyond parody... There’s a constant emphasis on [children's] vulnerability, which is proving toxic... a Leeds primary school banned games of tag as children had been getting upset and having clothes torn. There’s a campaign to stop tackling in school rugby, and to assess the safety of other contact sports such as hockey... the old motto ‘Sticks and stones . . .’ is now forgotten, as we teach children that words can indeed hurt them. Bullying has been redefined to include ordinary playground verbal tussles. I remember my niece telling me, aged 11, that she was being bullied at school. I feared she was being beaten up or viciously taunted. In fact, she was being ‘excluded from her friendship group’. I don’t doubt it was upsetting for her, but falling out with your chums is part of growing up. Through it you learn to handle the difficult interactions you will inevitably face as a grown-up... a look at the ‘evidence’ suggests an expansive definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. Is giving a compliment based on looks really ‘unsafe’ behaviour? If a boy pings a girl’s bra it may be unpleasant and annoying, but is it really assault? An ever-widening definition of abuse can incite a culture of fear and complaint: encouraging teachers and girls to name and shame could mean labelling sexually awkward teenage boys as sex pests... I am particularly concerned we are teaching girls to see themselves as victims. Recent research showing that fewer young people are going to nightclubs is revealing. It’s not because they can’t afford it. Rather, women cite reasons such as the fear of encountering drunken men who may try to take advantage of them. How sad that modern women are frightened enough to associate a night out with sexual assault. Many say they prefer to socialise on the internet. Not only is this retreat from the public sphere damaging - it’s not safe either. The Reclaim The Internet campaign, launched last month by MPs including Maria Miller and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, focuses on the impact sexist trolling has on young women - yet it only fuels stereotypes of them as weak and fragile... We need a younger generation that’s prepared to grow a backbone, go out into the world, take risks and make difficult decisions. Otherwise the future doesn’t bode well for any of us."

Professors, Stop Opining About Trump - - "I’m not saying that this view of Mr. Trump is incorrect; nor am I saying that it is on target: only that it is a view, like anyone else’s. By dressing up their obviously partisan views as “the lessons of history,” the signatories to the letter present themselves as the impersonal transmitters of a truth that just happens to flow through them. In fact they are merely people with history degrees, which means that they have read certain books, taken and taught certain courses and written scholarly essays, often on topics of interest only to other practitioners in the field... Academic expertise is not a qualification for delivering political wisdom. Nor is it their job, although they seem to think it is: “It is all of our jobs to fill the voids exploited by the Trump campaign.” (I’m not sure that I understand what that grandiose sentence means.) No, it’s their job to teach students how to handle archival materials, how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable evidence, how to build a persuasive account of a disputed event, in short, how to perform as historians, not as seers or political gurus. I would have no problem with individuals, who also happened to be historians, disseminating their political conclusions in an op-ed or letter to the editor; but I do have a problem when a bunch of individuals claim for themselves a corporate identity and more than imply that they speak for the profession of history."

The Problem of “Social Justice Elitism” - "A recent piece by Amer F. Ahmed outlines a phenomenon he calls “social justice elitism.” Ahmed is the associate director of multi-ethnic student affairs at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He notes a tendency among certain students to “out social-justice” each other by denouncing the subtle prejudices of others... true discussion about social justice is conjunctive rather than disjunctive. That is, it creates connections by promoting an understanding of the experience of the other. By contrast, the rhetoric of social justice elitism divides people by assessing the degree to which they contribute to a system of injustice. Second, while sincere dialogue about social justice requires courage, social justice elitism rarely involves risk. Speaking truth to power is a frightening undertaking. So is talking about social justice in a way that leverages one’s privilege or runs the risk of being misunderstood. The rhetoric of social justice elitism generally occurs through channels in which there is no risk of being challenged: online comment sections, gossip, and seminars full of like-minded people. Ironically, I suspect that we engage in social justice elitism for the same reason an otherwise reasonable man became a Neo-Nazi: out of a desire to construct and perform an identity. While the SJWs really do care about social justice, they are also invested in constructing a heroic self-narrative... At its worst, the move to create villains where none exist can amount to “weaponizing” the values of social justice. I have even seen cases where undergraduates have used the rhetoric of tolerance to punish faculty for giving them low grades... When well-meaning students fear being attacked for their lack of sensitivity, the opportunity for a sincere dialogue or a teachable moment about structural injustice closes. A judgmental classroom environment also lends credence to the canard that higher education claims to promote critical thinking while actually enforcing “liberal brainwashing.” The most ironic consequence of these sorts of attacks is that untenured white male professors (i.e. professors like me) may feel discouraged from discussing those voices and traditions that have historically been neglected by academia"

"Scrutiny Instead of Silence" - "Sensoy and DiAngelo (2014) argue for alternative behavioral guidelines than those currently being used in many social justice courses. Their alternative is to silence or constrain privileged voices so that marginalized voices have ample space to be heard and taken seriously. This raises the concern that silencing any group of persons runs too great a risk of alienating them to the point where their mistrust of the “other” is exacerbated rather than assuaged. This response suggests that, instead of silencing or even constraining privileged voices in the classroom, we may want to move toward developing in students the attitude that all claims and assertions, especially those that society often accepts as true without question, must undergo critical scrutiny"

Press Release: Out with conspicuous consumption, in with virtue signalling, says new report - "Virtue signalling has made widely-held ideas like ‘keeping up with the Joneses' and conspicuous consumption completely outdated, according to a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute. Rather than trying to one-up one another by buying Bentleys, Rolexes and fur coats, the modern social climber is more likely to try and show their ‘authenticity’ with virtue signalling by having the correct opinions on music and politics and making sure their coffee is sourced ethically, the research says... individuals may pick extended study of essentially useless degrees in pursuit of status. This is enabled by an extensive system of subsidies, which actually, since the last reforms, made the terms for those expecting to earn very little—i.e. those pursuing degrees that barely enhanced their career potential—much more generous. Murphy’s analysis suggests these subsidies should be scaled back—we are only encouraging an endless arms race."

‘Unfriending’ Trump supporters is just another example of how we isolate ourselves online - "“Since the 16th century, we’ve figured out ways of going about disagreements that don’t involve killing each other,” said Mark Kingwell, a political philosopher at the University of Toronto. “It’s a basic liberal notion that when people disagree on something, they can’t just go their own way — there has to be a discourse.”In the era of News Feeds and content-blockers, however, avoiding discourse and dissent has never been so easy... On Facebook, the average user agrees with the politics of more than three-fourths of her friends. The social network has found that affinity is more pronounced among liberals than it is among conservatives... “I can imagine people installing these apps to ‘protect’ themselves from contrary opinions: global warming, women’s rights, gun-owner’s rights, vegetarianism, CrossFit, whatever it is that they don’t like,” said Julio Castillo, the (apparently regretful) creator of the Trump-blocking app Trump Trump. “It’s a little like everyone creating their own great firewall of China to censor everything that annoys them.” Castillo imagines religious cults that mandate members block information sources they disagree with, or loyalty programs that reward customers for blocking the competition... “This is basic to the fundamental liberal aspiration: to put yourself in the position of the other,” Kingwell said. “If we don’t do that, we’re not a community. We’re a bunch of micro-communities and … to me that’s quite dystopian”... Kingwell, the philosopher, has spent his career attempting to convince people that civility and discourse are political virtues worth aspiring to; lately, he’s had to make his message a little more doomsday, stressing that — without consensus and moderation — everyone basically stands to lose."

Why We Unfriend - "The ebb and flow of Facebook friendships has become fruitful territory for social scientists in recent years. At least 63 percent of people report having unfriended someone on Facebook, but what prompts these digital rejections can tell us a lot about both the nature of real-life friendship and about how we manage our online personalities. Past research by Christopher Sibona of the University of Colorado Denver found that the four most common reasons for unfriending on Facebook were: “frequent/unimportant posts, polarizing posts (politics and religion), inappropriate posts (sexist, racist remarks), and everyday life posts (child, spouse, eating habits, etc.) and in that order of frequency”... ex-friends were most likely to be a high-school buddy, a work colleague, a “friend of a friend,” or a category Sibona called “Other”: “didn’t know her,” “former student,” or, ominously, “enemy.”"

10 Ridiculous Fears People Had About New Technology - "Many thought staying up after the sun went down would cause everyone to catch colds, creating a serious health crisis. The Catholic Church believed staying up at night was an act of defiance against God, who obviously wanted them to sleep. I mean, don’t even get me started on all those damn Devil-worshipping nocturnal animals… And then there was Pope Gregory XVI, who actually banned gas lighting because he believed visibility at night would encourage rebellion against the church... anti-train propaganda spread warnings that man was not meant to reach incredible speeds like twenty miles an hour. Apparently, it would destroy the environment, cause us to asphyxiate, go insane, and our bodies would disintegrate under the stress... The humble telephone is a huge part of our daily lives, but it wasn’t long ago that it was scaring the bejesus out of us every time it rang. This is because the elderly – who have to be suspicious of anything new; it’s in their contract – thought they’d be electrocuted if they touched one. Husbands feared their wives would be on it all day, gossiping, while preachers believed it was the Devil’s instrument and a conduit for evil spirits."

How Feminism Screwed Up My Love Life - - "I have been angry and defensive for a big chunk of my life, and I’m not even sure why. I’ve worked so hard to be independent, thinking that, as the anti-chick, I would need nothing and no one–and that men would somehow love this. The very last thing on earth I ever wanted to be was a needy, awful girl. I figured if I needed nothing, I’d win. I just didn’t realize the cost of winning. I certainly don’t regret how feminism has served me: I’ve learned to be aggressive, tough, resilient, and have had many successes in my life as a result. I never have let a man get in my way–are you kidding? No one ever stood a chance. But now I’m trying to unlearn some of that–to learn what it means to soften, not weaken, and to expand, not constrict. To have power without the shiny, hard outer shell. This is incredibly fucking hard. The notion that some post-fem fallout is to blame, well, that makes sense to me. I swung really hard in one direction and am gradually finding my way back to a more balanced state. My understanding of feminism has evolved, too–in that you don’t have to hate men or beat them in order to be a powerful woman... my tendency to fight and compete and fear losing to men has made it incredibly hard for me to love the way I know I could. Even though marriage has never been a goal for me, how silly to think that you can–or should–get through life without loving, as often and as intensely as you can."
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