WATCH: 10 Christmas day messages
From the Queen to Kevin Spacey, our selection of the interesting and the bizarre
Christmas day saw the usual assortment of Christmas messages from world leaders, celebrities and wannabes. Here’s our selection of ten, from the interesting to the downright bizarre…
1. The Queen on healing divisions (no mention of the B word)
2. Boris Johnson – “Merry Little Christmas”
3. Rory Stewart – thoughts to people who are alone
Very Happy Christmas to everyone!!! pic.twitter.com/NXPDXeqRUz
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) December 24, 2019
4. Donald and Melania Trump go Christian
5. The Pope – urbi et orbi ...
Three myths about social conservatives
Unhelpfully, social and cultural conservatives are often used interchangeably
The general election was less than two weeks ago — and in that time hundreds of articles have appeared claiming to explain the big result.
Luckily you don’t have to read them all. But if you do have a moment over Christmas, then you could do worse than UnHerd’s coverage. It’s been encouraging to see such interest in the pieces we’ve published since the 12th December, but I’m especially proud of what we published in weeks and months before the earthquake.
Time and again, our contributors have explained that, in Britain beyond the Westminster bubble, there are millions of voters who lean to the Left on economic issues, but to the Right on others. In other words they’re sceptical both of untrammelled free markets and excessive political correctness. ...
Leave your echo chambers this Christmas
Many of us have lost the habit of navigating political differences
Three years after the technocratic style of government hit the iceberg of Brexit, politics is back with a vengeance. It is likely that whichever way you voted, not all of your loved ones will be on the same page this Christmas about the significance of recent events.
One of the most pernicious myths perpetuated by city life, and deepened by social media, is that we can create an ideological family around ourselves. With a bit of curation and careful unfollowing, we can ensure this elective family is composed entirely of people sympathetic to our own worldview.
We see this in social media ‘echo chambers’; but something similar has been occurring geographically, with Left-wing voters increasingly concentrated in urban centres and university towns (a trend which preceded the election). The result has been a growing self-sorting of communities by political outlook. Many of us have lost the habit of navigating political differences in the community that surrounds us every day. ...
The Two Popes is made in liberal Hollywood’s image
The film's two main characters are a simplistic representation of two competing worldviews
Popes do not abdicate. In fact, before this century the only pontiff to have done so was Celestine V, an elderly hermit who had been in charge for just five months in 1294 before scurrying off back to the mountains. Poor Celestine was a bizarre choice for the job, and used to hide himself in a small cell during his short reign; afterwards his successor imprisoned the poor old man, because a second living pope could prove a threat, a focus for discontent among enemies of the supreme leader.
Fast forward seven hundred years and during a Monday morning conference at the Apostolic Palace Benedict XVI made his shock announcement, which an Italian journalist scooped because she spoke Latin. ...
The dark side of the communitarian idyll
What drives people to religious withdrawal in contemporary individualistic America?
This week’s long read pick is Emma Green’s ‘The Christian Withdrawal Experiment’ at The Atlantic, which looks at both the appeal and some of the questions raised by religious withdrawal from contemporary, individualistic America.
The author visited St Marys in Kansas, home to a chapter of the Society of St Pius X, an ultra-traditionalist Catholic order of priests. The lay religious community that has grown up around the SSPX chapter there meets the description of something increasingly being described as ‘tradical’: that is, radical traditionalist. The community observes Latin mass, encourages traditional sex roles in marriage, large families and strictly policed sexual morality including prohibitions on contraception, abortion and same-sex sexuality. ...
Will Boris fight for middle-aged men?
Single middle aged men are the group most likely to commit suicide — and most likely to vote Tory
Middle age is rubbish, there’s no question about it. Happiness levels start to sink in your thirties and the average only starts rising again among people in their fifties, partly because a lot of the most miserable are dead by then.
Bear with me, this post does get cheerier.
Since the election results last week I’ve felt a mild sense of anxiety that the Conservative Party is going to fail all its new voters, and that the What’s the Matter with Kansas? theory of social deception will prove correct.
If that happens, then all the talk of national solidarity and patriotism will turn out to be a lie, the whole thing a trick – especially Brexit. ...
Does Dominic Cummings get survivorship bias?
The advisor's recommended reading to Downing Street aides may be misguided
In the latter years of the war, the US Navy wanted to improve its bomber fleet, so they commissioned a study. They looked at planes which had returned from missions, and looked at where they were most damaged. They found that bullet and flak damage to their wings and fuselage was the most common, so they planned to increase armour protection over those areas.
But a statistician, Abraham Wald, pointed out that this prescription missed a vital point. The reason that it was possible to see the damage on those planes was because those planes had successfully made it home. The planes that were hit on the engines were much more likely simply to have fallen into the sea. The data suffers from “survivorship bias”. Wald recommended that armour be added to the engines, rather than the wings and fuselage. ...
Don’t nuke the North, Dom
Cummings should bury nuclear, not praise it, in his vision for economic renewal
“Reinvigorate north with nuclear power stations, says Dominic Cummings.”
Or rather so says a headline in The Times today.
In fact, if you read the piece by Oliver Wright (who probably won’t have written the headline) the actual story is about a paper by the Sheffield University academic Richard Jones, which was mentioned favourably by Dominic Cummings during the election campaign. (UnHerd covered the story earlier this month).
A new generation of nuclear power stations is one just one of the advanced technologies that Professor Jones says that the government should consider as part of a massive investment programme. ...