breaking news from the world of ideas

by UnHerd
Monday, 12
October 2020
Seen Elsewhere
07:00

The liberal paradox

We all hope that every child grows up to become a successful adult. But, of course, not all of them do. And so we worry — for our children and grandchildren, but also for the younger generation in general.

But who are we most worried about — girls or boys? In a revealing piece of research, Brookings put that question to a sample of Americans. Overall, the respondents were more worried about boys than girls (as well they might be, judging by educational and other outcomes). However, they also found a big difference between how conservatives and liberals answer that question.

As you can see in the graph below, conservatives were much more worried about boys than girls. With liberals, however, it was the other way around — they were more worried about girls than boys, though by a narrower margin: ...  Continue reading

by Freddie Sayers
Friday, 9
October 2020
Reaction
12:06

Is The Guardian planning an attack on the Great Barrington scientists?

Last night The Guardian sent the following email to Professor Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, one of the three initial signatories of the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ calling for a different approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The article is yet to be published, but it looks very much like a move to delegitimise the ideas of these eminent scientists by smearing them by association. As Professor Kulldorff told The Guardian, he had never heard of the ‘Richie Allen show’ before he was invited on, and as a public health expert, he thinks it’s his duty to talk to all audiences in any case, whatever their beliefs. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Friday, 9
October 2020
Spotted
07:00

Populist or progressive? Post-Covid politics will be neither

Has Covid killed-off populism? That would seem to be a reasonable assumption. In a pandemic we don’t want change, we just want things to get back to normal. Thus we can expect voter appetites to swing away from disruption and back to competence.

Well, that’s the theory, but is there any hard evidence to back it up? The picture we see so far from opinion polls (and actual elections) is mixed — and besides they don’t directly measure the impact of Covid on political attitudes.

Which is why a recent study by a team lead by Gianmarco Daniele of the University of Milan is so valuable. The findings are summarised in an article for VoxEU — and while they provide some comfort for the establishment, they come with clear warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored. ...  Continue reading

by UnHerd
Thursday, 8
October 2020
Video
15:00

Prof Francois Balloux: the climate of fear on Covid is dangerous

Since the start of the pandemic, the debate over Covid restrictions has grown increasingly acrimonious. As both sides have dug their heels in, one person that has tried to keep himself above the fray is Prof Francois Balloux, Director of the UCL Genetics Institute and Professor of Computational Systems Biology at University College London.

He is typically grouped with the lockdown sceptics, but Prof Balloux has so far managed to retain the respect of both sides. Earlier this week, we caught up with Francois to discuss his thoughts on the pandemic, what kind of strategy he would like to see implemented, and why fear poses such a threat to society. Hope you enjoy. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 8
October 2020
Reaction
10:45

McCluskey is playing right into Starmer’s hands

I have no doubt if things start to move in different directions and ordinary working people start saying, ‘Well, I’m not sure what Labour stands for,’ then my activists will ask me, ‘Why are we giving so much money?’”

That was Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s warning shot to Sir Keir Starmer following the union’s decision to reduce its financial contributions to the Labour party by a reported 10%.

McCluskey was especially critical of the party leadership’s decision to apologise and pay damages to members of staff who had co-operated with a BBC Panorama investigation on anti-Semitism, but he made clear that his discontent with Sir Keir and his team runs much deeper than that particular grievance. ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Thursday, 8
October 2020
Reaction
08:00

The Covid ban on visitors during childbirth is inhumane

As a consequence of lockdown restrictions, three-quarters of NHS trusts are not allowing women to be accompanied by birth partners at scans, throughout labour, and in hospital after the baby is born. Birth partners can be present in the final stages of childbirth, but women must spend most of their labour surrounded by strangers, and their loved ones are whisked away soon after the baby is born.

Women are then left in hospitals that are all too often understaffed, with many new mothers reporting that they didn’t get nearly enough help with basic care for themselves and their newborns. Given all this, it’s little wonder that, as The Lancet reported this week, there has been an increase in births at home or in private facilities since the beginning of this year. ...  Continue reading

by Sarah Ditum
Wednesday, 7
October 2020
Reaction
10:46

Sorry, kids, we were ‘demisexual’ years ago

I guess I’m old now. Not because the things young people do shock me with their novelty, but because I’m incredulous that they think any of it’s new. You’re “genderfluid”? Oh you mean you only wear makeup when you feel like it, is that an identity now? I used to call it “Saturday” – and so on, crankily, through the entire list of pret-a-porter, online-bio-friendly descriptors from which one may these days assemble a self.

But my least favourite of all these labels is “demisexual”. A demisexual — in the words of a HuffPo piece currently doing the rounds – is “someone who exists in between asexuality and sexuality, someone who needs a strong emotional bond to feel attraction.” Congratulations, goes my chippy old-person inner voice, you have invented “fancying people”. Liking someone before wanting to have sex with them is so stunningly banal, so epically un-noteworthy, that the need to turn it into an identity suggests something very wrong in our sexual culture. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 7
October 2020
Spotted
07:00

Boris Johnson’s U-turn

Bracing stuff from Boris in his conference speech today. He promised a “green industrial revolution” with a special emphasis on offshore wind power — including a commitment to floating wind farms:

Far out in the deepest waters we will harvest the gusts, and by upgrading infrastructure in such places as Teesside and Humber and Scotland and Wales we will increase an offshore wind capacity that is already the biggest in the world.

As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind — a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions, without the damage to the environment.

- Boris Johnson

Great. But while I was listening, I couldn’t help noticing that the PM’s words had a familiar ring to them. Take a look at the following extract:

Literally and figuratively our North Sea is still a sea of energy. Where else in the world do renewable resources coincide, in such abundance, with unusually shallow waters and enormous energy markets — not just on one coast, but two? We possess the world’s best offshore wind, wave and tidal resources. Britain could and should be the Saudi Arabia of marine energy.
- Greg Clark

No, that’s not from an earlier draft of today’s speech, but from a speech given eleven years ago by Greg Clark (who, in 2009, was the Conservative shadow minister on these issues). ...  Continue reading