Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Norway: Brainwashed Science on TV Creates Storm

The heat is generated by Harald Eia, a TV-comedian turned science reporter, who is exposing social scientists and gender researchers in a not very flattering manner in a TV series called «Brainwashed». The uproar started already last summer, more than half a year before the series was ready. Some social scientists who had been interviewed by Eia, went out in the press to say they felt they had been fooled, tricked to expose themselves by «dubious» tactics.

What Eia had done, was to first interview the Norwegian social scientists on issues like sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, education and race, which are heavily politicized in the Norwegian science community. Then he translated the interviews into English and took them to well-known British and American scientists like Robert Plomin, Steven Pinker, Anne Campbell, Simon Baron-Cohen, Richard Lippa, David Buss, and others, and got their comments. To say that the American and British scientists were surprised by what they heard, is an understatement.


In Norway, the social sciences have been more dominated by ideology and fear of biology than in perhaps any other country. This has a long history starting in the 60s. Social science became very much bound up with the ideology of the Social Democrats, who put pride in the fact that Norway was the most egalitarian country in the world. And with the new wealth from the North Sea oil, it became possible to create a society with very little poverty. Which of course has been good for most Norwegians.


But science started to suffer. With so much easy money, few wanted to study the hard sciences. And the social sciences suffered in another way: The ties with the government became too tight, and created a culture where controversial issues, and tough discussions were avoided. Too critical, and you could risk getting no more money.

It was in this culture Harald Eia started his studies, in sociology, early in the nineties. He made it as far as becoming a junior researcher, but then dropped off, and started a career as a comedian instead. He has said that he suddenly, after reading some books which not were on the syllabus, discovered that he had been cheated. What he was taught in his sociology classes was not up-to-date with international research, and more based on ideology than science.

One of the problems, which has prevailed until now, is that the social sciences in Norway not at all will consider biological (evolutionary, genetical) factors in their analyses of human behavior. Even gender roles and sexual identity are explained as 100 percent determined by culture. The theory is that boys and girls are created equal – at least in their heads. All talk about possible inborn differences in interests or capabilities was taboo. Because Norwegians wanted everybody to be equal, it was considered threatening to even ask if there might be some inherited differences. Not only between the sexes, but between people generally.

... And in Norway this became a big problem because there are few scientists, and most research is sponsored by one source, the Norwegian Research Council, which has strong links with the government.


The situation was such that until recently, there has been no critical discussion of the basic dogmas about sex and gender, about criminality and about the Norwegian school system. Some questions were asked when Norway joined international school tests, and we discovered that we had fallen behind, to a level with much poorer countries. And there was some discussion why the most egalitarian country in the world had bigger differences in choice of education and careers between the sexes, than any other developed country.

This has been called the «gender equality paradox», and nobody could explain it. The common reaction was that we just had to work harder to reach our egalitarian goals. But of course, this «paradox» is easily explained if one takes evolutionary psychology into consideration: Because Norway has such a high living standard that you can live a decent life also with «female» jobs such as nursing, the women now choose careers that suit their psychological needs. But to say such things aloud, was like putting yourself in the gauntlet.

If Eia had presented the series five years ago, he also would have had to try the (media) gauntlet. But even in Norway, the outside world is creeping in, and last year he felt that the time was ripe for this project. He was maybe a bit optimistic, and some of the interviews created such storm, long before the series was aired, that there was a possibility that the project has to be abandoned. Some scientists even threatened to sue him.

But his standing as the most popular TV-comedian in Norway, made it difficult for NRK (the national broadcaster) to back off, and after some delay and bitter dicussions in the media, the series went on air on March 1. It immediately became one of the most watched series on Norwegian TV, and the most watched program on internet-TV.


For many people, it was difficult to see Eia in his new role as an investigative science reporter (a kind of science journalism’s Michael Moore), but he was well prepared. He could look naive, but he often knew more about the subjects than the scientists he interviewed, which made some of them look like arrogant ignorants. One of them fled the country, declaring that Eia had «ruined her life».

Eia's methods have been critisised as being unfair to the Norwegian scientists, but they were given a chance to defend themselves, and his ways of interviewing people are not worse than most politicians or business people are used to. One problem is maybe that the Norwegian scientists had not met any critical journalists before.

But the main problem, which Eia has exposed so brilliantly, is that much of Norwegian social science, and gender science in particular, is built on very shaky ground. Most studies have been done without even considering factors like heredity: The reason why some people turned criminals, or did badly in school, was always explained by social and cultural factors. To even mention heredity as a possible factor, was met with condescending laughter or irritation.


Before the series, most of the social science community was very skeptical, but now even established scientists have admitted that the critical light had been justified. Another effect of the series has been that scientists you almost never heard from in the public: psychologists, biologists and other natural scientists, have started to write in newspapers and participating in debates.

So even if Eia’s methods have been critisised, there is now a general agreement that the result of this project has been good for both the sciences and society as a whole. For the first time, science is really being discussed. Even if many strange things have been said and written, this has been (and still is) a unique educational process for both the general public and the scientific community.


If Israel Is Not Evil, the World Is in Big Trouble

With the exception of the United States, nearly all the world's nations; newspapers, radio and TV news stations; the United Nations; and the world's Leftist academics and organizations have condemned Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident. The characterizations of the Jewish state range from a society so evil that it should not be allowed to exist to a villainous nation that is responsible for a) the suffering of millions of innocent Palestinian men, women and children; b) the lack of Mideast peace; therefore c) the Muslim world's anger at the West; and therefore d) Islamic terrorism itself.

Let's hope the world is right.

Israel is almost totally isolated. A visitor from another planet would have every reason to report back home that the greatest problem on planet earth was this planet's Jewish state. Though Israel is the size of the American state of New Jersey and smaller than El Salvador, and though its population is smaller than that of Sweden, Burundi and Bolivia, it is the most censured country in United Nations history.

Let's hope the world is right.

Though Israel is a thriving liberal democracy for all its citizens, including the one out of five that is Arab (83 percent of whom are Muslim), with an independent judiciary and press; though it signed an agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state; though it returned to Egypt every inch of the Sinai Peninsula, a land mass larger than Israel itself with major oil reserves -- the world deems Israel a villain.

Let's hope the world is right.

Though Hamas runs a theocratic police state based on torture and terror, with no freedom of speech, no freedom for any religious expression outside of radical Islam, seeks to annihilate the Jewish state, and its state-controlled media depict Israelis and Jews as worthy of death, the world sees Israel, not Hamas, as the villain.

Let's hope the world is right.

Here is a random sampling of world reactions:

"The EU condemns the use of violence that has produced a high number of victims among the members of the flotilla ..."

"The President of (France) expresses his profound emotion in the face of the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation," Sarkozy's office said. "He condemns the disproportionate use of force ..."

"Spain unequivocally condemns the Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla and it does so as a country and as the acting president of the EU Council."

"Swedish Port Workers Union spokesman Peter Annerback says workers will refuse to handle Israeli goods and ships ..."

"The Swedish Football Association said it was to ask European football's highest body, UEFA, to rule if the qualifier scheduled for Friday in Tel Aviv should go ahead or not, citing the 'strong reactions in Sweden and around the world.'"

"Norway's military says it has cancelled a special operations seminar because the Defence Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program ... Norway calls for boycott on arms to Israel."

South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, "to show our strongest condemnation of the attack."

India announced that "There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn."

"The Argentine Government expressed on Monday its condemnation of Israel's naval attack to an (sic) humanitarian six-ship flotilla."

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry in a statement said that "Brazil strongly condemns the Israeli attack, because there was no justification ..."

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini: "I deplore in the strongest terms the killing of civilians. This is certainly a grave act."

The News, the leading Pakistani English daily: "This monstrous outrage has caught the world's attention and once again put the spotlight on the activities of a state that has been a law unto itself for most of its life."

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu: "We were shocked by the Israeli attack which led to severe casualties and condemn it."

Let's hope that the European Union, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, India, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Pakistan, China and nearly all other nations are right.

And not just nations, of course. According to Amnesty International, "It is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment ... Israel should invite the relevant UN experts to carry out an investigation ... It begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified. It appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed."

To restate AI's positions:

1) Since blockades are "collective punishment," presumably Amnesty International deems all blockades as immoral. 2) The U.N. is fair regarding Israel, so Israel should support a U.N. investigation. 3) And the Israeli soldiers should have allowed themselves to be beaten to death rather than throw away their paintball guns and use real ones.

Let's hope Amnesty International is right.

Now, some representative views in American newspaper editorials:

The Los Angeles Times, in its editorial, posed some deep questions. Here are three:

"Were the boats ferrying novelists and Nobel Peace Prize winners and elderly Holocaust survivors, as news accounts have suggested, or seething Israel haters, as defenders of the raid would have us believe?"

Apparently, the Los Angeles Times believes that novelists, Nobel Peace Prize winners and elderly Holocaust survivors cannot be "seething Israel-haters."

"Was the goal to bring 10,000 tons of aid to needy Gazans in an act of peaceful civil disobedience, or to provoke Israel into just this sort of violent response? ..."

I did not make this up in order to embarrass the LATimes. They really posed this question.

"We agree with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the blockade '... hurts forces of moderation and empowers extremists.'"

Unlike the Times, many of us thought that Palestinian extremists were more powerful than the "forces of moderation" prior to the blockade.

Let's hope the Los Angeles Times is right.

And now, The New York Times editorial:

"There can be no excuse for the way that Israel completely mishandled the incident ... It has damaged Israel's ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the Muslim world."

"No excuse?" Being beaten to death by "peace activists" while carrying paintball guns is "no excuse"? And why wasn't it Turkey's sponsorship of an Islamist organization labeled a terrorist group by the American government that damaged Turkey's relations with Israel? Why is it not Turkey's cooperation with Iran's Holocaust-denying, Holocaust-planning Ahmadinejad that has damaged Turkish-Israeli relations?

Let's hope The New York Times is right.

The reason mankind has to hope that the world, its leaders, its newspapers, its so-called human rights organizations and the United Nations are right about Israel is quite simple: If Israel is the decent party in its war with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas -- and nearly all the world's countries, nearly all the world's media and the United Nations are morally wrong -- what hope is there for humanity? If the world's moral compass is that broken, are we not sailing into a dark age?


UK prisoners convert to Islam to get jail privileges

How crazy can you get?

INMATES in the UK are converting to Islam in order to gain perks and the protection of powerful Muslim gangs, Britain's Chief Inspector of Prisons warns today. Dame Ann Owers says that some convicted criminals are taking up the religion in jail to receive benefits only available to practising Muslims.

The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s - from 2,513 in 1994, or 5 per cent of the population, to 9,795 in 2008, or 11 per cent. Staff at top-security prisons and youth jails have also raised concerns about the intimidation of non-Muslim inmates and possible forced conversions.

Dame Anne's report, Muslim Prisoners' Experiences, published today, says that, although several high-profile terrorists have been jailed recently, fewer than 1 in 100 Muslim inmates have been convicted of terrorism.

She says that prison staff are suspicious about those practising or converting to the faith and warns that treating Muslim inmates as potential or actual extremists risks radicalising them.

The report says: "Many Muslim prisoners stressed the positive and rehabilitative role that Islam played in their lives, and the calm that religious observance could induce in a stressed prison environment. "This was in marked contrast to the suspicion that religious observance, and particularly conversion or reversion, tended to produce among staff. Converts did, however, have mixed motives, which could include perceived dietary benefits, or protection within a group."

All prisons offer a halal menu for Muslim prisoners, which some inmates see as better than the usual choices. The group are also excused from work and education while attending Friday prayers. Some converts, who are known as "convenience Muslims", admitted that they had changed faith because they received better food and more time out of the cells because of the requirement to attend Friday prayers. One quoted in the report said: "Food good too, initially this is what converted me."

In some of the most secure jails, the size of the Muslim population is well above average. Two years ago, Muslim inmates accounted for a third of prisoners in Whitemoor, Cambridgeshire and a quarter of inmates in Long Lartin in Worcestershire.

The report says that inmates converted after learning about Islam from other inmates or their family, to obtain support and protection in a group with a powerful identity and for material advantages. One inmate quoted in the report said: "I've got loads of close brothers here. They share with you, we look out for each other."

Tom Robson, vice-chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, admitted that prisoners feared that guards would not be able to protect them on the wings. He said that some vulnerable and impressionable prisoners were converting because they wanted status and protection from other inmates. "What we have got at the moment is an upward trend," he said. "It is worrying."

Phil Wheatley, director-general of the National Offender Management Service, defended the way in which the service treated Muslim inmates. "Our clear policy is that all prisoners are treated with respect and decency, recognising the diverse needs of a complex prison population, and that the legitimate practice of faith in prison is supported."

Dame Anne's study is based on 85 jail inspection reports and in-depth interviews with 164 Muslim prisoners in eight jails. It follows reports of Muslim inmates seeking to assert their authority on the wings of prisons.


Sleazy Peter is another Israel-hating Jew

He looks good and has a nice voice and sounds vaguely reasonable at first -- but his words of praise for that great hater -- Karl Marx -- tell you all you need to know. And his other heroes are of a similar ilk. Systematic distortion of reality is the typical game of Leftist haters like Peter. Excerpt only below

The Mavi Marmara victims are the most visible of many unarmed international solidarity workers and Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli military forces at peaceful demonstrations. Charges that Israel's lethal commando assault violated international law are far from the most serious it faces, after wars on Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and Gaza in 2008-09. The lame official excuses for the assault invite the question: what does it take for "supporters" of Israel to protest that enough is enough?

Jewish leaders and their community follow Israeli official script: the raid on the unarmed civilians of the flotilla was in self-defence, just as pasta, coriander and children's toys entering Gaza pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The collective punishment of Gaza is merely putting them "on a diet". George Orwell would have been impressed by such Newspeak in "defence of the indefensible".

Apologists claim international outrage towards Israel is evidence of global anti-Semitism, seeking to "delegitimise" the Jewish state. The slur has caused non-Jewish commentators and individuals to avoid public criticism. The Jewish establishment has even sought to discredit human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though the same criticisms may be found in reports of Israel's own B'Tselem.

For such reasons, in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart has charged the diaspora Jewish establishment with being detached from reality, failing to recognise "Israel is becoming (has become) a right-wing, ultra-nationalist country" being abandoned by younger liberal and progressive Jews. As early as 1948, an open letter published in The New York Times signed by Hannah Arendt, Einstein and others warned against the fatal combination of "ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and a propaganda of racial superiority".

The question of Jewish identity and responsibility has been posed acutely by some Jews themselves, those who break ranks - those referred to in Isaac Deutscher's essay as ''The Non-Jewish Jew''. Among these, Baruch Spinoza (1634-77) is described by Bertrand Russell as "the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers". For his heresies, he was given the severest punishment, Cherem - permanent excommunication from the 17th century Amsterdam Jewish community.

He notes the paradox that Jewish heretics who transcend Jewry belong to a characteristically Jewish tradition, among the great revolutionaries of modern thought, including Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. To Deutscher's list we may add Hannah Arendt, the late renegade American historian Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, all reviled by their communities....

In view of the brutal occupation of the West Bank, inhumane blockade of Gaza, continuing dispossession, injustice and suffering of the Palestinians, Jews might heed Einstein's prophetic warning in 1955: ''The attitude we adopt towards the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.''

More HERE. The author above is Peter Slezak, senior lecturer at the University of NSW's school of history and philosophy of science (Australia).


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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