Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What Should We Do About "Racial Disparities?"

I once subbed in a Middle School classroom to which a public librarian had been invited that day, to talk about books in her library about the Vietnam War.  After she was finished, I asked, "Why were five out of six books you introduced less about Vietnam than about American racism and Vietnam?"  She looked surprised: she hadn't even noticed.  

Sunday, April 26, 2020

No, the Shutdowns Are Not "Pointless"

See the source imageA controversial radio host named Bryan Fischer argues that "Shutdowns were pointless all along."  Citing Yitzhak Ben Israel, an Israeli general with a background in physics, math, and philosophy, Fischer argues that the coronavirus comes and goes in its own mysterious time, and will work its evil magic no matter what we do.  Italy suffered badly because of its poor health system.  Sweden is doing about the same as America, even though they have not shut their economy down as we have.   

See the source imageOur sacrifice has all been in vain!  Claims Fischer.  

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Letter from Wuhan Virology Institute

Over the past week or so, some western journalists have echoed the suspicions of some Chinese netizens two months ago, in arguing that Covid-19 escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute.  I have also discussed this possibility.  So I thought it would be appropriate to translate the letter posted in February by the leadership team of that institute, defending themselves.  

Fellow staff and graduate students: 

Friday, April 03, 2020

Does California have "Herd Immunity?"

Recently, reports of a study from Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, "went viral," claiming that the United Kingdom might not suffer so badly from Covid-19 because it already had achieved something called "herd immunity."  The virus had already made the rounds and rendered enough people immune to it that it couldn't spread far or fast, like trying to start a wet log on fire.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

"Christians Poisoned the Wells!" -- Katherine Stewart, New York Times

A week ago, the New York Times warned against encouraging hatred towards one group of Americans by associating them with the dreaded Covid-19:

"As bigots blame them for the coronavirus and President Trump labels it the 'Chinese virus,' many Chinese-Americans say they are terrified of what could come next."

See the source imageThen last Friday, America's "paper of record" changed its mind about scapegoating groups of people over pandemics.  In a piece originally entitled "The Road to Hell was paved by Evangelicals," (the title has now been toned down) Katherine Stewart tried to exploit the present crisis to stir up more proper hatreds: 

"Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The World Should Thank China! And America Should Apologize!

Here's my translation of an article in China's official news agency, Xinhua ("New China"), that has stirred angry reactions in the United States.

I'll write some commentary on this later.  Certainly there is much to say in response.  One important point: I do not know how much these views represent the thinking of the Chinese leadership.

The original is included below. -- DM

The Truth is, the World Should Thank China

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Covid-19: Why here? Why there?

(Most recent update May 15th.)  

"It only takes a spark to get a fire going."

Fires burn down buildings as well as warm people up.  Right now a fire called Covid-19 is setting nations ablaze.  

Why does this disease break out in one city or nation, while merely simmer in another?   In this article, I discuss fourteen popular theories.  

Friday, January 10, 2020

US NEWS on the Impact of "Religion"

Why schools should teach history better. 
Teaching high school kids how to think and do research sometimes drives me to despair.  Not because they don't get it, but because they generally do.  And then I turn around and look at how "successful" thinkers in the Media and often even the Academy argue in public, and I have to wonder if I'm wasting my time.  Maybe, after all, sloppy use of key terms, broad generalizations based on anecdotal and impressionistic "evidence," the profligrate employment of logical fallacies, and in short, shoddy reasoning that makes emotional appeals to key segments of your audience, is the way to make a name for yourself and grab your share of the world's approval and financial renumeration.  Maybe I'm setting these kids up for failure by teaching them how to think and argue rationally.