The swarm of locusts

Vox Day links to a Time article

More than 800 men have joined a movement called “Abused in Scouting,” started by a group of lawyers who worried that the Boy Scouts of America were planning to file for bankruptcy, cutting short the timeline for victims to bring sex abuse claims against the organization in court. Those attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of one ex-Scout identified as “S.D.,” who said he was assaulted hundreds of times as a Boy Scout in Pennsylvania in the 1970s. The suit demands $50,000 in damages from both the Boy Scouts organization and the alleged abuser.

The extent of the Boy Scouts’ sex abuse problem first surfaced in 2010 when a judge ordered the organization to release its so-called “Perversion Files,” which listed complaints of abuse in the Scouts. In January, a child abuse expert hired by the Boy Scouts to analyze the files testified that she found 12,254 boys had reported experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of at least 7,800 alleged assailants between 1944 and 2016.

Now, hundreds more men are claiming they were abused by men who do not appear in the published “Perversion Files.” “It’s the largest pedophile ring on earth,” Tim Kosnoff, one of the lawyers representing alleged victims, said during a press conference on Tuesday. “The numbers we’re talking about now dwarf what we’ve seen in the Catholic Church cases.”

It would seem that they’re following the same swarming attack strategy that has been so successful against the Catholic Church.  Each accusation against an organization lowers the threshold of credulity for the next accuser, so the conmen pile onto one organization by their thousands.  A commitment to fight sexual abuse in one’s ranks is lethal, because it singles you out as an easy mark.  Of course, I am assuming that most of the accusations against scoutmasters are false, just as most accusations against priests are false; credulity at this point is irresponsibly naive.  Like with the Catholic Church, one starts the ball rolling by casting an absurdly long temporal net, all the way back to World War Fucking II, accusations so far back that the institution cannot possibly defend itself.  Especially important is to make sure the 1970’s are covered, because there really was a lot of adults having sex with adolescents that decade.

As I have said before, any organization that is half a century or more old and interacts with children is vulnerable to such attack.  Americans’ susceptibility to moral panics over pedophilia, and our absurdly late age of consent so that adults having sex with teenagers can be called “pedophiles”, makes it almost impossible to defend against.  For now, the Catholic Church, with its presumption of guilt against its priests and decades-long demonization by external and internal media, is still the accused of choice for the aspiring abuse survivor, but we now see that similar things will happen to other organizations.

Now that it’s not just us sub-human Catholics, can we talk about unfairness?  Why should today’s boys lose scouting opportunities because of something that may or may not have happened in the 70s?

Once again, we have a homosexual scandal (in this case, entirely so), and yet the moral status of homosexuals remains stratospheric.  Clearly the public’s potential to generalize only follows certain allowed paths.

If this sort of thing spreads, I suppose the outcome would be that no one would dare belong to an organization more than ten years old.  A liberal’s dream.  Making the world anew indeed.

At Unz

In March 2017 Israeli police arrested 22 ultra-Orthodox Jews for sex crimes against minors and women. In April 2019 Haaretz admitted that “There’s a Hole in the System. Israel Became a Haven for Suspected Jewish Sex Offenders.” The Israeli paper reported that “65 suspected sexual offenders [are] allegedly seeking refuge in Israel.”

Malka Leifer was formerly the principal of an orthodox Jewish girls school in Melbourne and has been charged with as many as 74 assaults against minors. The extradition battle over Malka Leifer, who fled Melbourne in 2008 with the help of some in the local ultra-Orthodox community, has dragged on for several years, frustrating her accusers.

In 2015 Michael Lesher, an orthodox Jewish attorney, published a book titled “Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities.” In the introduction Lesher writes that his book isn’t “about sexual abuse per se but on the dismal history of how far too many of those cases have been assiduously concealed both from the public and from the police: how influential rabbis and community leaders have sided with the alleged abusers against their victims; how victims and witnesses of sexual abuse have been pressured, even threatened, not to turn to secular law enforcement for help; how autonomous Jewish ‘patrols,’ displacing the role of official police in some large and heavily religious Jewish neighbourhoods, have played an inglorious part in the history of cover-ups; … how some Jewish (orthodox) communities have even succeeded in manipulating law enforcement officials to protect suspected abusers.”

We’ve grown used to accusations of cover-ups.  I doubt that Orthodox Jews are particularly prone to sexual misconduct, but given what’s happening to the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, can you blame them for wanting to protect themselves?  I know it’s counterintuitive, but most groups are not enthusiastic when someone announces that he plans to drag their name through the mud and legally seize their assets.

The destruction of Orthodox Jewry, or even just the ultra-Orthodox, would be a loss to the human race.  Fortunately, the Orthodox Jews agree.  I read on Wikipedia that the Haredi population in the US is doubling every 20 years.  The Orthodox future is looking bright.

I’m not entitled to a team

I mentioned John Zmirak a few days ago.  A decent guy from what I can tell.  And yet I was rather rude in my disagreements with him some years ago, due to his unsoundness on matters of freedom of speech and religion, etc.  I wish I hadn’t been that way.  In those days, I was angry to find conservative Catholics who were not on board with integralism.  I knew that my opinions were very unpopular in the wider world, but on that account I thought myself even more entitled to have unanimity on my own little team.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost this sense of being entitled to be part of a team that shares the same beliefs on every matter I regard as important.  Even on the Orthosphere, I am in some ways a minority, as I find little to agree with in the writings of Nicolas Berdyaev or Rene Girard, at least as far as my colleagues have explained them.  After all, I hate freedom, and my understanding of Christianity is grounded entirely on ritual sacrifice.  Five years ago, I would have probably made an ass of myself accusing Richard Cocks and Tom Bertonneau of undermining the Faith, or some such thing.  Now it seems silly to me to get angry about disagreements, and perverse to be more angry at disagreements with people on “my side”, as if someone who agrees with me about one thing is thereby obliged to agree with me about others.  I am very lucky to be on the same team as RC and TB.

This change of attitude comes just in time too, because I know no one agrees with my opposition to a reform of the Church.  I only feel pity for my fellow Catholics.  Having internalized one thousand years of self-loathing, they hope that with this final act of institutional self-immolation God will finally be happy with them.  I understand their self-hatred, because it’s in me too.  I’ll always be haunted by the feeling that being a Catholic means that I’m not as good as everybody else.  None of us can have the simple pride toward our ancestors and our leaders that other peoples have and take for granted.  As the sodomite is defined by his pride, the Catholic is trapped in his humiliation.

I suspect that, because the Devil is the Prince of this World, our evil words have more effect than our good ones.  I cannot prove it, but I fear that the most influential writings on this blog were my deleted attacks on Pope Francis, which undermined the Church and thus advanced the agenda of Satan.  Good intentions have little influence on the career of our words once we have uttered them and thus turned them loose.  And how can I know if my intentions were truly good?  Fortunately, this blog now gets very little traffic, meaning I suppose that the Enemy can no longer find any use for it.  Nevertheless, I played my little role in bringing ruin to the Church, through my writings and my various personal failures.  How could I be angry at anyone else?

I have argued for performative conservatism in the past.  I imagine, though, that the Prince of this World will always arrange things so that, if one does decide to make some grand gesture of fidelity to God or the Church or one’s people that more ill will come of it than good.  Perhaps like me you are an unimpressive person, and that toward which you wish to be faithful is better off not having you publicly associated with it.  Perhaps you will only inspire your workplace to crack down harder on dissidents, making life even harder for your side.  Perhaps performative conservatism is selfish after all.  Thinking that one should do something grand and romantic, when more likely God intended one to do something mundane and practical.  Was I too proud to ask myself what God is realistically asking of someone with my meager abilities?  Were the essays an excuse to avoid manual labor volunteer work?

On the Amazonian Synod and its preparatory document

If the Church is to survive my expected lifespan, we need priests with their body cameras on 24/7.  This effectively means that the discipline of celibacy can never be relaxed.  Are we to expect a man to video himself copulating with his wife?

I’m all in favor of ancestor worship and communitarianism, I have a soft spot for genuine paganism, and I hate Western individualism, so I don’t mind the neo-pagan humbug so much.

On the other hand, I don’t like all of this bashing of “colonizers” that I read from the get go, which I assume is the Church’s dehumanizing name for the Portuguese (and probably the Spanish too, although I confess I’m not sure exactly over what geographic area this document is supposed to apply), whom as I recall were Catholic.  The rules of group survival in the pitiless moral status arms race that is 21st century social life are simple.  Never apologize; never admit fault; never expect reciprocity for admitting fault; never accept outside criticism; always close ranks; play the victim; save your compassion for your own people.  Apologies are suicidal if you’re the only one making them.  Criticize me if you like for caring less about pleasing God with vicarious contrition than about the survival of my tribe, but save more of your anger for the prophets and reformers who created this world in which I must choose between the two.  Life is a zero-sum game, and I prefer for my tribe to be the one conquering and killing.  Catholics, be like those Amazonian barbarians–WORSHIP YOUR ANCESTORS.

“Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think”

Well this is depressing:

According to research by Dean Keith Simonton, a professor emeritus of psychology at UC Davis and one of the world’s leading experts on the trajectories of creative careers, success and productivity increase for the first 20 years after the inception of a career, on average. So if you start a career in earnest at 30, expect to do your best work around 50 and go into decline soon after that.

The specific timing of peak and decline vary somewhat depending on the field. Benjamin Jones, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, has spent years studying when people are most likely to make prizewinning scientific discoveries and develop key inventions. His findings can be summarized by this little ditty:

Age is, of course, a fever chill
that every physicist must fear.
He’s better dead than living still
when once he’s past his thirtieth year.

The author of those gloomy lines? Paul Dirac, a winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Dirac overstates the point, but only a little. Looking at major inventors and Nobel winners going back more than a century, Jones has found that the most common age for producing a magnum opus is the late 30s. He has shown that the likelihood of a major discovery increases steadily through one’s 20s and 30s and then declines through one’s 40s, 50s, and 60s. Are there outliers? Of course. But the likelihood of producing a major innovation at age 70 is approximately what it was at age 20—almost nonexistent.

Interesting that the decline starts so soon after the average age for getting a tenure-track job.

Much of literary achievement follows a similar pattern. Simonton has shown that poets peak in their early 40s. Novelists generally take a little longer…

Entrepreneurs peak and decline earlier, on average. After earning fame and fortune in their 20s, many tech entrepreneurs are in creative decline by age 30. In 2014, the Harvard Business Review reported that founders of enterprises valued at $1 billion or more by venture capitalists tend to cluster in the 20-to-34 age range

In sum, if your profession requires mental processing speed or significant analytic capabilities—the kind of profession most college graduates occupy—noticeable decline is probably going to set in earlier than you imagine.

Sorry.

The implications for a 42 year old who has not yet accomplished anything in his field are grim.

The author does have some helpful advice for managing one’s professional decline.

A potential answer lies in the work of the British psychologist Raymond Cattell, who in the early 1940s introduced the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence. Cattell defined fluid intelligence as the ability to reason, analyze, and solve novel problems—what we commonly think of as raw intellectual horsepower. Innovators typically have an abundance of fluid intelligence. It is highest relatively early in adulthood and diminishes starting in one’s 30s and 40s. This is why tech entrepreneurs, for instance, do so well so early, and why older people have a much harder time innovating.

Crystallized intelligence, in contrast, is the ability to use knowledge gained in the past. Think of it as possessing a vast library and understanding how to use it. It is the essence of wisdom. Because crystallized intelligence relies on an accumulating stock of knowledge, it tends to increase through one’s 40s, and does not diminish until very late in life.

Careers that rely primarily on fluid intelligence tend to peak early, while those that use more crystallized intelligence peak later. For example, Dean Keith Simonton has found that poets—highly fluid in their creativity—tend to have produced half their lifetime creative output by age 40 or so. Historians—who rely on a crystallized stock of knowledge—don’t reach this milestone until about 60.

Here’s a practical lesson we can extract from all this: No matter what mix of intelligence your field requires, you can always endeavor to weight your career away from innovation and toward the strengths that persist, or even increase, later in life.

Like what? As Bach demonstrated, teaching is an ability that decays very late in life, a principal exception to the general pattern of professional decline over time…

 

What could be better?

What I really want is to be one of those guys who says to his younger colleagues “Yeah, I’ve had lots of professional success and acclaim, but it was all so unfulfilling.”  The so unfulfilling is the twist of the knife.  Shows you’re so spiritual.  “Not only am I better than you; I’m better than what you’re trying to be.”  What could be better?

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Book review: The Order of Time

The Order of Time
by Carlo Rovelli (2018)
also his
Time in quantum gravity: an hypothesis, Phys Rev D 43, 442 (1991)
Statistical mechanics of gravity and the thermodynamical origin of time, Class Quantum Grav. 10 1549 (1993)
Relational Quantum Mechanics, Int. J. of Theor. Phys. 35 1637 (1996)

I saw Carlo Rovelli, inventor of loop quantum gravity, give a talk once.  I believe it was at GR22 in Warsaw.  It was my first exposure to his general philosophy of doing physics.  Rovelli thinks that questioning the core insights of quantum mechanics and general relativity is by this point an unpromising strategy for theoretical physics.  Our task is to extend and synthesize them.  Like his fellow Italian Thomas Aquinas, Rovelli is a synthesizer; by my count, in this book he synthesizes Anaximander, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Newton, Leibniz, Boltzmann, and Einstein.  All around his surprising claim that time, at the most fundamental physical level, does not exist.  Surprisingly for a work of science popularization, he ends up agreeing with phenomenologist philosophers who claim that the “lower-case t of physics” doesn’t capture the human reality of time.  Rovelli agrees that the essence of time is to be found in human subjectivity, and claims that physics itself leads to this conclusion by murdering the “lower-case t of physics”.

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Book review: The Catholic Imagination

The Catholic Imagination
by Andrew Greeley (2000)

Having mentioned Father Greeley’s book, I might as well review it.  Greeley suggests that Catholics have a particular (compared to Protestants) style of religious imagination, one that stresses God’s immanence over His transcendence, that prefers the dangers of superstition and idolatry to those of disenchantment and cynicism.  Crucially, Greeley does not wish to describe an ideal, but what he asserts to be qualities of actual Catholics, a distinctively sacramental imagination that manifests itself both in the art of those who were or were raised Catholic and in the attitudes of ordinary believers.  This is to be welcomed.  For too long, apologists have given all their devotion to God, doctrine, sacraments, and exceptionally rare saints while having nothing but scorn for their actual co-religionists, and so they do nothing to counter Catholic self-hatred.  Unfortunately, Greeley isn’t satisfied with humbug but wants to present a falsifiable sociological case.  And so he has gathered information, mostly from the GSS, comparing the attitudes of Catholic Americans to those of others.  The differences he finds are probably real, but in a footnote he acknowledges that liberal Protestant attitudes are more similar to Catholics’, so what’s really distinctive is the conservative Protestant imagination, the only one that takes Original Sin seriously.  In fact, the Catholic/other split is probably mostly just the liberal/conservative, urban/rural split.  So, for example, small-town conservative girls think they should lie on polls and say they don’t enjoy sex, while big-city progressive girls think they should lie on polls and say they do enjoy it.  Catholics’ “imagination” leads them to take their marching orders from the Democratic Party and the New York Times.

That being said, I expect that the core insight on the Catholic difference is valid.  It seems quite clear that Catholic religious sensibilities are less worried about idolatry, more concerned to give every manifestation of God its due.  They happily carry on pagan customs.  Catholics are more communal and less individualistic.  They are more appreciative of the need for social structure and less suspicious of authority.  They stress God’s mercy more than His justice.  They learn these attitudes mostly from their families, so Greeley is confident they will prove resilient in the face of conciliar disruptions.

I would point out that many of these things can be better understood in terms of my distinction between the priestly and prophetic religious types.  Catholics are more priestly; Protestants (and also Jews and Muslims) are more prophetic.