breaking news from the world of ideas

by UnHerd
Thursday, 15
October 2020
Video
11:58

Piers Morgan: I don’t want to be hated anymore

Piers Morgan has made a career out of robust, forceful and — at times — abrasive interviews. Since the start of the pandemic, he has found himself an unlikely hero of the ‘pro-lockdowners’ (even being labelled by one columnist as ‘the hero Gotham didn’t know it wanted, but possibly needed’) for this confrontational style, the full force of which was felt by government ministers earlier this year.

He has, however, been criticised for the hostile nature of his interviews. No minister has appeared on his show for over 100 days, which has led many to question its efficacy of a style that cannot even attract guests. The Good Morning Britain host makes no apology for this, arguing that government officials deserve to be scrutinised — if they can’t deal with a heated interview, how can they be expected to cope in a global pandemic? Morgan expresses deep misgivings over No10’s handling of the Covid outbreak and even goes so far to suggest that, having voted for the Boris Johnson in the last election, he would now vote for Keir Starmer.  ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Thursday, 15
October 2020
Reaction
07:00

When did ‘sexual preference’ become politically incorrect?

The Democrats are out to get Amy Coney Barrett. That’s because a) she’s been nominated to the Supreme Court by a Republican President and b) they don’t like her religious beliefs.

Fortunately, neither of these things are disqualifying factors (yet). Instead, her opponents have pinned their hopes on something she might say during the Senate confirmation hearings. And so when she made a reference to “sexual preference” during Tuesday’s proceedings, they pounced. Her use of the term was “offensive and outdated” they protested.

Why, though?

Kyle Griffin of MSNBC was one of those who leapt in to explain: ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Wednesday, 14
October 2020
Reaction
15:27

The New York Times is at war with itself

Once the newspaper of record for the richest and most powerful empire the world has ever seen, The New York Times still leads the world in in-depth coverage of one particular topic: the internal politics of The New York Times. 

Its foreign reporting, buoyed by budgets British newspapers can only look upon with envy, is now overshadowed by its recent coverage of ‘The Gray Lady’s’ own bitter internal disputes over the acclaimed Caliphate podcast; whether or not it should have published Senator Tom Cotton’s call to disperse protestors by force; first the presence, then the resignation of opinion writer Bari Weiss, a lightning rod for progressive angst; and its 1619 Project, an ambitious attempt to replace one national myth of the essential moral goodness of America’s founding, with another, on its inherent moral evil. ...  Continue reading

by David Paton
Wednesday, 14
October 2020
Factcheck
11:46

Where is the evidence that the ‘tier three strategy’ works?

Ostensibly, the Government’s new 3 tier local lockdown strategy was introduced to prevent case rises, but there seems to be little evidence that it will succeed. Indeed, it might even be counter-productive as closing pubs in tier 3 areas like Liverpool shifts socialising and drinking away from Covid-secure venues to less controlled settings like homes.

Moreover, cases in these cities do not appear to be increasing exponentially, something that was suggested in the various Government briefings to MPs and the public.

There is no doubt that Covid cases have increased rapidly in many northern cities, notably Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds, over the past couple of months. While there has been a rise in hospitalisations and deaths particularly in the North West and North East, it is nothing like the levels or the rates of increase that we saw back in March and April. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 14
October 2020
Reaction
07:00

The empty symbolism of the Nobel Prize for Economics

A knock on the door in the middle of the night is usually bad news. But not for the American economist Paul Milgrom. His midnight caller was his colleague, Bob Wilson, bringing the happy news that the pair had just won the 2020 Nobel Prize for economics. Milgrom, not unreasonably given the hour, took some rousing. You can see the video here.

A lovely moment, but also a symbolic one. The whole world is knocking at the door of the economics profession, but without getting the answers we need. In this respect, the Nobel Prize is part of the problem — because, too often, it honours the wrong sort of economics. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 13
October 2020
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16:27

America’s history is swallowing our own

I used to find it strange that during my years of schooling I learned more about German history than I did about my own country. When I say “German history” I mean, of course, 12 particular years of German history; I learned little else about the country, which is why so many of my countrymen continue to have such a weirdly outdated view of Europe.

People love to make points about “why aren’t we taught more about the Tang Dynasty or the Benin Empire or whatever” at school as if the subject were limitless; there’s not enough time for passionate history enthusiasts to learn about the whole world, let alone bored schoolchildren, so the subject is limited, and benefits from having a clear narrative. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 13
October 2020
Reaction
07:00

Will $30 billion fix racial inequality?

Jamie Dimon is the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in America. Back in June, at the height of the BLM protests, he was photographed ‘taking a knee’ in one of his branches.

Just the sort of virtue signalling we’ve come to expect from our woke corporations? A lot of people thought so at the time, including me.

However, JPMorgan Chase has now unveiled a “$30 billion commitment over the next five years to address some of the largest drivers of the racial wealth divide.”

Even for a major bank, that’s a colossal sum. As my colleague Ed West points out, it’s roughly a quarter of what the Marshall Plan cost (in today’s money). Certainly, it makes other corporate pledges this year look puny by comparison...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Monday, 12
October 2020
Spotted
11:39

Rebels against the marriage ‘market’

Does algorithmic matchmaking actually reduce your chance of getting married? Outbreaks of human-powered relationship broking among the Very Online suggest that some have their suspicions.

Over the weekend, renegade academic Justin Murphy posted a long tweet thread in praise of marriage that garnered so much attention he’s offered to act as marriage broker for any of his friends who’d like his help. Murphy reports that he’s been overwhelmed with requests. And over the same weekend Tyler Alterman, a theorist of the ‘metatribe’, offered to do the same thing: matchmaking, a proposal that has also apparently been wildly popular. ...  Continue reading