I have removed the search box because it was not working but the search box in the title bar seems to.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Message to Geoff – A Wonderful Human Being

Geoff and I have no grandparents in common. We are not, therefore, cousins. But, we have as many great grandparents in common as we would have if we were cousins. Explain.

What follows is a very slightly modified version of my message to him.

Geoff commented: "Broadly I agree with this although not with your views on science (as a scientist how could I?)"

What are my views on Science (I try to use a capital "S" every time)?

I think that Science is among the greatest achievements of Humanity!

Let's deal with Induction and Deduction - since childhood I have found it impossible to remember which is which. So, I am not going to use these terms, especially since the internet has added to my confusion.

Mathematics is representative of one kind of Science. True (ie irrefutable) axioms lead by logical laws to Truth. Austrians say that Praxeology (their method) is representative of the same kind of Science.

Physics is representative of another kind of Science. Observation leads to speculation. Speculation leads to theorising. Theories require testing by repeated further observation and (where possible) experiment. A theory unrefuted by observation and/or experiment deserves respect - not unconditional acceptance.

There may be competing theories to account for any set of observations. As far as I understand it, theories which explain more deserve more respect than those which explain less. Every theory in the Natural Sciences is at risk of being replaced (in respectability) with a theory which explains more.

Science and its greatest practitioners (Newton is always the best example, although he had loony ideas: numerology and alchemy among them) occupy a place in my thinking alongside St Paul, Shakespeare, Bach and St Thomas Aquinas.

I have no quarrel with Science - never have had.

I have a bitter quarrel with two other schools.

The first is "Scientism", the idea that that the Natural Sciences are sufficient to explain everything. Peter Atkins states this in so many words and gets humiliated by William Lane Craig. Science has nothing to say about Ethics or Aesthetics. Sam Harris, a very decent chap, tries to show that it does - unsuccessfully, in my view.

My other quarrel is with those who take it upon themselves to define Science in such a way to exclude a priori the speculations of others about, for example, Intelligent Design.

Intelligent Design is allowed when we are confronted by the Taj Mahal or Mount Rushmore - but not when we are confronted by Information in DNA. Even though whenever we are confronted by Information in any other context, it is always the product of intelligence.

So, I have no reason, from what you have said, to differ from you about Science. Wherein do you think we differ?

Lastly, Geoff, you took issue with my assertion that government funding has corrupted all Science and you gave an important example. I am content to stand corrected. I still think that government funding has a tendency to corrupt.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Daniel Hannan (MEP) – Politicians aren’t all bad!

What a man!

DH speaks and votes against the very institution that provides him with a living – the European Union.

Apologies for repeating myself: We had a referendum on the Common Market. The Common Market turned itself into the European Economic Community. This turned into the European Community, which morphed into the European Union. They obviously know we are stupid. Well, we didn't take to the streets – though it wasn't that subtle, was it?: CM4EEC4EC4EU! Never once did the bastards consult us! The EU makes over 80% of our laws. It's as though I joined the Co-op and discovered that, in next to no time, they were telling me what to eat and how to bring up my children.

I have respect for very few politicians – less as the years go by. The coalition makes me physically ill.

There are a few others: IDS, Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell and Frank Field. Recently I have been holding my nose as I put my "X" against the Conservative candidate's name. Never again, I think. UKIP, if there is a candidate. Otherwise I'll spoil the ballot paper.

Daniel Hannan

Abiotic Oil

There are two competing theories about the origin of petroleum and natural gas: The "fossil theory", which is the conventional wisdom in the West, and the "abiotic (ie non-biological) theory", which is scientific orthodoxy in Russia and the Ukraine.

The first says that oil is the result of pressure and other factors working upon organic matter (both zoological and botanical) – prehistoric forests and the corpses of long dead animals.

The second says that geological forces way way down continually generate oil out of inorganic material. In support of this theory they point out that there are instances of dried out wells which have been replenished. What is more, astronomers have detected hydrocarbons (chemicals similar to petroleum) in comets – no rotting dinosaurs up there, I think.

I have read that oil prospectors in the West have a 20% success rate, whereas their Russian counterparts achieve 70-80%. The latter have found oil at 30,000 feet (maybe more) – far too deep for prehistoric forests and the corpses of long dead animals.

Estimates of oil reserves are constantly revised upwards. Alarmists say we have only a few years' worth left. Their opponents say there is enough down there for 500 years, or maybe for much longer.

Thomas Gold (now deceased) is a scientific hero of mine. Three times he found himself in the academic wilderness:

  • He proposed a theory of hearing which said that our ears emit a sound and that it is the interference with this sound by external sound waves which is processed by our nerves and brains. Nobody wanted to know. Now scientists have identified individuals where the noise is detectable and the theory has enjoyed a renaissance. Anyway, Gold was discouraged and went off to do Cosmology.
  • He proposed a theory to account for pulsars, astronomical objects which produce regular pulses of energy. He said that pulsars were pairs of (binary) stars which rotate about each other. Nobody wanted to know. His theory is now mainstream.
  • He and his collaborators proposed that oil did not come from fossils but from geological processes.

The Russians are totally convinced that he was right. I think there was some controversy about alleged plagiarism. Western scientists have not yet followed suit. He did not get credit in his lifetime. I hope Duesberg lives to be vindicated.

This link is to a site where the controversy is discussed in some detail, with arguments from both sides.

Peak Oil Debate

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Duesberg on AIDS – Musings about the Nature of Dissidence

Peter Duesberg at a Libertarian Conference

I have not seen this before although I am familiar with most of the contents.

Now, here's a funny thing. I am genuinely puzzled by this. Your comments will be welcome, honestly.

There are no hard and fast statistics about what follows. It could be done by conducting polls at Libertarian Conferences.

My strong impression is that upholders of free markets (1) are very likely to be sceptical about Climate Catastrophism (2). If you are doubtful about Climate Catastrophism, you are unlikely to be a hard-line Darwinian (3). If you are dissatisfied with the Darwinian consensus, you may well be similarly dissatisfied with the HIV theory of AIDS (4). If you are an AIDS dissenter then you may not be persuaded of the "peak oil" disaster scenario (5). Clearly, I am not saying that 1 leads inexorably to 2, 3, 4 and 5.

I am in all these camps and suspect that if I were to meet a kindred spirit from any of them, there would be a better than even chance that the person would be in at least one of the others.

So, assuming that there is some validity in my speculation, how shall we account for the phenomenon?

The easiest answer would be say that I am simply mad, that mad people have all sorts of mad ideas. This answer has the advantage of simplicity.

Another answer would be to say that I am incorrigibly contrarian, that I oppose pretty well everything the majority accepts. The problem with this is that I do accept thousands of mainstream opinions. I don't go around looking for conventional ideas to oppose. You have to trust me on this; I have privileged access here.

Each of these camps is very different from all the others in detailed respects. But a similarity shared by all of them is that in each case the position they oppose is supported by very powerful vested interests. Of course a position is not invalidated by the fact some people benefit if others accept the position.

It would be interesting to know if you are in any of my five camps above. If so, are you in any of the others too? If someone hints that they are, for example, "tired of all this Global Warming nonsense", ask them whether they think that government interference in markets (by manipulating interest rates, by high taxes and heavy regulation) is, on balance, good or bad.

Regrettably, although there are lots and lots of people who detest socialism and an increasing number who are unconvinced by Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change, most people are totally unaware of, for example, the Russian/Ukrainian Theory of Abiotic Petroleum. How many people know that thousands of scientists admit that the fossil record does not provide the proof of Darwinian Evolution that the Biology Establishment claims it does? Cambrian Explosion, what are you talking about? Everybody knows that HIV is "the virus that causes AIDS" – radio and TV and the press have told them so thousands of times. The vested interests do not typically address their opponents' arguments. They do their damnedest to prevent them from publishing. Phil Jones at the CRU (University of East Anglia) admits as much.

Is it because I am mad or contrarian or because I have eccentrically decided to read up on these controversies?

What about "9/11 Truthers", I hear you cry. Frankly, I believe some of these people have difficult questions. Equally frankly, I have not read up on the subject – I simply cannot bear the thought that they may be on to something. What a coward!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

My Muslim Brothers – We Need You!

By "we" I mean British/Western conservatives and traditionalists – Christians.

By "need" I mean urgently require (in the face of Western materialist/self-indulgent hedonism).

By "you" I mean theistic men and women, followers of Mohammed, whose thinking is essentially conditioned by moral concepts, who believe that God created the World for His purpose.

Am I ever going to become a Muslim? No. But I am closer to Islam than I am to what I regard as the void at the heart of modern Britain.

Do I have a problem with Islam's failure to embrace Democracy, with its apparent sexism, with the violence of Islamism, with Islam's failure to distinguish between Religion and Politics, with the racism of many Muslims with respect to the Jews, with extreme reactions to infringements to "honour"? Indeed I do.

All the same, we have so much more in common with each other than we have with the ghastly zeitgeist of contemporary Britain.

You have much to remind us about family values – the care that you take of your extended family members. You don't say, "Abdul, it's OK to be dependent on the State; Aisha, it's OK for you to have multiple children by multiple fathers." In Britain one-in-five children is born to parents who have never worked – not so in Egypt or Indonesia.

Political Secularism appeals to me not because my outlook is secular but because state interference in religious practice has always been horrible, in Christendom and in Islamic societies.

Whenever Christians and Muslims have attempted to create Heaven on Earth, the result has been appalling – though our common enemies, the Socialists, have, literally, created Hell. I would rather live in Iran than in North Korea.

Muslims have slaughtered other Muslims; Christians have burned other Christians at the stake – not a record to be proud of!

The contribution that Islamic scholarship has made to Western culture is enormous. Thank you!

We (Christians) have given the World Science and Democracy (the least bad system of government) – but pretty bad! Is there an alternative to Theocracy and to electorates that vote themselves ever more generous entitlements – which impoverish societies so catastrophically? For what it is worth, I regard this as an important question – to which I don't have a ready answer.

Incidentally, we Westerners (not Christians) have also given the World Scientism, the idea that Science is the only proper way of understanding the World – profound apologies!

Jews, Christians and Muslims should be in dialogue. We should fraternally oppose the bad guys – those who declare that morality is subjective. We have many problems to resolve. I would be dishonest to pretend that I don't think Catholicism is the best religion. As a Libertarian, however, I think that we can agree that non-aggression is a good basis for living in harmony – that we have more to gain by fighting our common enemies than by fighting each other.

Christians have recently had a pathetic record of even attempting to increase their numbers. Catholics don't seem even to want everyone to be a Catholic. I do! But I'd rather my countrymen were Muslims than Materialists.

Read this Book with me!

[Apologies. I thought the link was to the whole book. It to the first 49 pages. Well, we know the book exists.]

Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics

I have been feeling a bit nervous that someone might challenge me to define the Theory of Marginal Utility. I'm an amateur Austrian. So I went to Google – and found the above.

This book is not published by the Mises Institute but a quick glance at the list of contributors reveals a number of Misesian/Austrian names, including Walter Block, Joseph Salerno and Israel Kirzner – reassuring.

The editor is Peter J Boettke. I don't know this guy but I have a good feeling about him.

So, I am recommending a book I haven't even read! How impertinent.

Friday, 26 August 2011

How Stuff is Made

There is a TV programme with this name. It's presented by Robert Llewellyn, aka Chrichton in Red Dwarf. It's great. Tonight's episode featured railway sleepers, manufactured out of recycled bottles and tyres; and tissues – how each time you pull a tissue out of the box, the next one presents itself, ready to be pulled.

Each tissue costs you next to nothing. But the resources which make this possible cost a King's Ransom! A mind-blowing investment to enable you to blow your nose. Premises, computers, energy, steel, paper, plastic, glass and ingenuity, each one of which has many higher order production processes to make it possible. A single tissue requires the cooperation of hundreds of thousands of people. They don't know each other; they speak multiple languages; they worship at different shrines. Wow!


But respect for whom? Each of those myriad people? Some may be personally admirable; the majority are as ordinary as you or me, deserving of no more special respect than I am. I am made in the image of God – but so is everyone. We deserve no credit for that.

The ingenuity of the people involved is special. We are creative (some of us) because we are made in God's image. Tolkien says we are "sub-creators". What a privilege.

We ought to learn to respect the mechanism which makes all the above possible. It can be summarised as Human Action, the title of Ludwig von Mises' greatest book.

Von Mises was an agnostic – likewise his great disciple, Murray Rothbard. Had he been a Catholic, he might have called it, God's Grace as Revealed in Human Action.

Catholics believe that God's Grace is revealed every morning, as the sun rises. Catholics should also believe that God's Grace is revealed in the so-called "hidden hand" of individual personal choice.

When creative human beings produce, essentially for their own benefit, they can't help benefitting their fellows. Thanks be to God!

There are those out there who will wonder if I am out of my mind. Either pray for me or show me my error in a comment.

I’m Giddy with Excitement!

My blog has a new "follower": Dr Gerard Casey of the Dept of Philosophy at University College Dublin.

I have been a huge fan of this man since I first heard him (on YouTube), addressing the Austrian Scholars' Conference at the Mises Institute:

Two Roads, One Truth

I hope you enjoy this wise and witty man as much as I have.

I sent him a fan message by email and was delighted to receive a reply less than 24 hours later.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

What Makes Austrians so Effing Smug?

[Geoff, what is the "high falutin'" index here? More than 4, I'm sure.]

Well actually, they aren't – at least, not as smug as they have every right to be.

It is those on the left who claim the high moral ground, those whose thinking is socialist. Left wing trolls, who frequently lurk below the bridge to hurl abuse at "right wing" blogs (including this one) use unpleasant language to sneer and smear.

Socialists have been, by far, the greatest mass murderers in history. Why would someone like Tony Benn, a man of considerable natural gifts, be so proud to call himself a Socialist? Why was I? Why would he allow himself to be associated with killers like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Guevara and Kim Jong Il? Why did I? I will answer for him and for myself: Culpable Stupidity!

Rudolph Rummel, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii gives the figures for Communist murder. This table does not include National Socialist murders, although you can find those figures on his site too. For too long we accepted the nonsense that Communists and Nazis were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. It was a clever trick by Uncle Joe Stalin to label his sometime allies as "rightists". Jonah Goldberg, in his magnificent Liberal Fascism, opened my eyes; and it seems that more and more people now recognise that Communism and Nazism were fraternal twins.

Rummel's website is not very user-friendly but it is well worth a visit. Here is a link:

Socialist Democide

Why do Austrians have the right to be smug?

In trying to answer this question, I am going to address another one first, one about which there is no longer any controversy in developed countries: Why would you have the right to be a bit smug (or condescending) on the subject of hygiene, if confronted by a hypothetical someone who denied its relevance to health?

  • Your education included the notion that many deadly diseases were/are caused by microbes (fungi, bacteria and viruses).
  • That notion is supported by observations and by logic – remember Koch's postulates?
  • Scientists looked down microscopes and saw the little buggers. These microbes caused diseases when injected into healthy subjects. They had a theory that is absolutely convincing – watertight!
  • When they took action to kill the microbes – in food for example (pasteurisation), the incidence of disease declined.
  • When sewage systems were installed – thereby isolating people from huge concentrations of these microbes, the incidence of disease declined.
  • When water treatment plants ensured that the population had microbe-free water, the incidence of disease declined.
  • When people were educated into habits of hygiene – eg washing their hands after relieving themselves, the incidence of disease declined.
  • When and where unhygienic conditions prevailed, the incidence of disease was seen to be high. Repeated observations have confirmed the theory 100% of the time.

Your education gives you some right (not much) to be smug about hygiene. You and I are in 100% agreement on this issue. Anyone who disagreed with us would do so only because of (not necessarily culpable) ignorance.

The Austrians are in a comparable position to Semmelweis (one "s" not two, whoops), Lister and Pasteur (our hygiene heroes) – comparable but not identical. The Austrian method is "praxeology" (arguing from general principles, or axioms – as in Mathematics), whereas the natural sciences derive a theory from observations and then test it by experiment – a subtle but important difference. In Praxeology and in Mathematics, if your reasoning is correct, your conclusion is true. No amount of observation can disprove Euclid's theorems, whereas in Astronomy, for example, ever more accurate observations might force you to reconsider your theory – and come up with something closer to the truth.

Anyway, the Austrians have true theorems. Nevertheless, as it happens, repeated observations are another way of convincing doubters.

  • By pure Reason, the Austrians demonstrate, for example, that the division of labour (ie specialising) makes a society richer – argument watertight!
  • Observation and History confirm that the richest societies are those in which specialisation has gone the furthest.
  • By pure Reason, the Austrians prove that prices are subjective and they derive the Theory of Marginal Utility – argument watertight!
  • Observation and History confirm that, without this insight, planned economies have found it impossible to determine
    appropriate prices and that gluts and shortages always result – massive government induced famines, for example, in which millions died. Tractors rusted unused for lack of fuel and spare parts.
  • By pure Reason, the Austrians show that when interest rates are held down by central banks, malinvestment is inevitable – argument watertight!
  • Observation and History have confirmed repeatedly that interference of this kind by central banks always creates
    unsustainable booms. These booms are followed by busts. Hello!

This is why Austrians have a right to be smug.

Compare these countries:

Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, China (recently), India (recently) and Japan (until recently)


North Korea, Cuba, China (until recently), Zimbabwe, India (until recently), Japan (recently) and all socialist countries.

Compare the so-called Iron Curtain countries with themselves before they threw off the Soviet hegemony.

Wherever economic policy accords with free-market theory (and to the extent that it does), people are better off. I assume that you want people to be better off. Me too! No brainer!

Keynes vs Hayek - BBC Debate

This debate took place at the LSE earlier this month. It was repeated yesterday on Radio 4.

It seems that I am not alone. A significant number of Brits must be getting turned on by Economics.

I cannot resist two observations:

  1. The BBC has here presented two sides of an argument. Are they ever going to do the same on Climate Change?
  2. The Hayekians won and the LSE audience acknowledged the fact. There is hope.

Keynes vs Hayek

Tom Woods – A Brief Intro to Austrianism

It gives me great pleasure to present the ever lucid Dr Thomas E Woods Jr.

There is a glitch at about 3:45; but it sorts itself out pretty quickly.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Free Market Chaos? – I Don’t Think So!

Conventional wisdom – for now – blames our economic woes on unregulated free-market capitalism. The tide of opinion may be turning, I hope so. If it is, we have the Mises Institute and Ron Paul in the USA and the Cobden Centre, the Adam Smith Institute and a handful of politicians (including Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell) in the UK to thank. In fact, there are thousands of good economists around the world whose clear-eyed analysis enabled them to predict the current mess and point out that it has been government interference which is to blame.

Governments! Obscenely high, business-crippling taxation; thousands of pages of business-crippling regulations; a business-crippling welfare state; socialised banking, whereby banks can make profits but are protected from losses; a bloated, unproductive public sector (with bloated salaries and index-linked pensions); eye-watering National Debt, which the Coalition is doing nothing to address – the poor bastards are being blamed for cuts(?) which caused the riots. The list is endless. In every sphere governments make things worse. We have experienced nothing like unregulated free-market capitalism for generations. Good intentions have produced a monster state, a cancer whose growth seems to be out of control. Only radical surgery will give us even a glimmer of hope.

I have pointed out before that taxation is, at best, a necessary evil. It costs money to levy taxes; it costs money to disburse the tax take. Think of the waste! And they make a crappy job of disbursing it. If they let you keep it, you would undoubtedly spend it more wisely. The British have been infected with idea that "for profit" enterprises are bad. "For profit" businesses create all the wealth. I'd rather have Tesco provide my healthcare and educate my grandchildren. Morrisons or Sainburys would have to compete, not to mention a million others who saw an opportunity. Imagine how much richer we would be without the cost of the gargantuan NHS and all those schools. Just as with Defence spending, Health and Education spending push costs up and quality down.

We are in for a good deal more woe – that's for sure. I shall be sixty-five in November. Pension funds are sinking as far as the eye can see. Oh woe is me!

James Delingpole – may his sins be forgiven – has a piece in The Spectator and another in today's Telegraph. Read them both, in this order:

An open letter from my old mate David Cameron to the people of Britain

Bulverism - CS Lewis

[This is prompted by a comment which suggested that I hold some of my beliefs (for example that the HIV theory of AIDS is deeply flawed) because I want to hold them. In reply, I answered yes, that has been true of some of my beliefs: I certainly wanted to believe that my wife loved me! On the other hand, why should I have wanted to reject the HIV theory of AIDS? In any case, the veracity of my belief is unaffected by my wishes.
Lewis says below, "you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong."]

It is a disastrous discovery, as Emerson says somewhere, that we exist. I mean, it is disastrous when instead of merely attending to a rose we are forced to think of ourselves looking at the rose, with a certain type of mind and a certain type of eyes. It is disastrous because, if you are not very careful, the colour of the rose gets attributed to our optic nerves and its scent to our noses, and in the end there is no rose left. The professional philosophers have been bothered about this universal black-out for over two hundred years, and the world has not much listened to them. But the same disaster is now occurring on a level we can all understand.

We have recently "discovered that we exist" in two new senses. The Freudians have discovered that we exist as bundles of complexes. The Marxians have discovered that we exist as members of some economic class. In the old days it was supposed that if a thing seemed obviously true to a hundred men, then it was probably true in fact. Nowadays the Freudian will tell you to go and analyze the hundred: you will find that they all think Elizabeth [I] a great queen because they all have a mother-complex. Their thoughts are psychologically tainted at the source. And the Marxist will tell you to go and examine the economic interests of the hundred; you will find that they all think freedom a good thing because they are all members of the bourgeoisie whose prosperity is increased by a policy of laissez-faire. Their thoughts are "ideologically tainted" at the source.

Now this is obviously great fun; but it has not always been noticed that there is a bill to pay for it. There are two questions that people who say this kind of thing ought to be asked. The first is, are all thoughts thus tainted at the source, or only some? The second is, does the taint invalidate the tainted thought - in the sense of making it untrue - or not?

If they say that all thoughts are thus tainted, then, of course, we must remind them that Freudianism and Marxism are as much systems of thought as Christian theology or philosophical idealism. The Freudian and Marxian are in the same boat with all the rest of us, and cannot criticize us from outside. They have sawn off the branch they were sitting on. If, on the other hand, they say that the taint need not invalidate their thinking, then neither need it invalidate ours. In which case they have saved their own branch, but also saved ours along with it.

The only line they can really take is to say that some thoughts are tainted and others are not - which has the advantage (if Freudians and Marxians regard it as an advantage) of being what every sane man has always believed. But if that is so, we must then ask how you find out which are tainted and which are not. It is no earthly use saying that those are tainted which agree with the secret wishes of the thinker. Some of the things I should like to believe must in fact be true; it is impossible to arrange a universe which contradicts everyone's wishes, in every respect, at every moment. Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is "wishful thinking." You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant - but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.

In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method [Note: This essay was written in 1941.] is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it "Bulverism." Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father - who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third - "Oh, you say that because you are a man." "At that moment," E. Bulver assures us, "there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall." That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

I find the fruits of his discovery almost everywhere. Thus I see my religion dismissed on the grounds that "the comfortable parson had every reason for assuring the nineteenth century worker that poverty would be rewarded in another world." Well, no doubt he had. On the assumption that Christianity is an error, I can see clearly enough that some people would still have a motive for inculcating it. I see it so easily that I can, of course, play the game the other way round, by saying that "the modern man has every reason for trying to convince himself that there are no eternal sanctions behind the morality he is rejecting." For Bulverism is a truly democratic game in the sense that all can play it all day long, and that it give no unfair advantage to the small and offensive minority who reason. But of course it gets us not one inch nearer to deciding whether, as a matter of fact, the Christian religion is true or false. That question remains to be discussed on quite different grounds - a matter of philosophical and historical argument. However it were decided, the improper motives of some people, both for believing it and for disbelieving it, would remain just as they are.

I see Bulverism at work in every political argument. The capitalists must be bad economists because we know why they want capitalism, and equally Communists must be bad economists because we know why they want Communism. Thus, the Bulverists on both sides. In reality, of course, either the doctrines of the capitalists are false, or the doctrines of the Communists, or both; but you can only find out the rights and wrongs by reasoning - never by being rude about your opponent's psychology.

Until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs. Each side snatches it early as a weapon against the other; but between the two reason itself is discredited. And why should reason not be discredited? It would be easy, in answer, to point to the present state of the world, but the real answer is even more immediate. The forces discrediting reason, themselves depend of reasoning. You must reason even to Bulverize. You are trying to prove that all proofs are invalid. If you fail, you fail. If you succeed, then you fail even more - for the proof that all proofs are invalid must be invalid itself.

The alternative then is either sheer self-contradicting idiocy or else some tenacious belief in our power of reasoning, held in the teeth of all the evidence that Bulverists can bring for a "taint" in this or that human reasoner. I am ready to admit, if you like, that this tenacious belief has something transcendental or mystical about it. What then? Would you rather be a lunatic than a mystic?

So we see there is justification for holding on to our belief in Reason. But can this be done without theism? Does "I know" involve that God exists? Everything I know is an inference from sensation (except the present moment). All our knowledge of the universe beyond our immediate experiences depends on inferences from these experiences. If our inferences do not give a genuine insight into reality, then we can know nothing. A theory cannot be accepted if it does not allow our thinking to be a genuine insight, nor if the fact of our knowledge is not explicable in terms of that theory.

But our thoughts can only be accepted as a genuine insight under certain conditions. All beliefs have causes but a distinction must be drawn between (1) ordinary causes and (2) a special kind of cause called "a reason." Causes are mindless events which can produce other results than belief. Reasons arise from axioms and inferences and affect only beliefs. Bulverism tries to show that the other man has causes and not reasons and that we have reasons and not causes. A belief which can be accounted for entirely in terms of causes is worthless. This principle must not be abandoned when we consider the beliefs which are the basis of others. Our knowledge depends on our certainty about axioms and inferences. If these are the results of causes, then there is no possibility of knowledge. Either we can know nothing or thought has reasons only, and no causes.


[The remainder of this essay, which was originally read to the Socratic Club before publication in the Socratic Digest, continues in the form of notes taken down by the Secretary of the Club. This explains why it is not all in the first-person, as is the text-proper.]

One might argue, Mr. Lewis continued, that reason had developed by natural selection, only those methods of thought which had proved useful surviving. But the theory depends on an inference from usefulness to truth, of which the validity would have to be assumed. All attempts to treat thought as a natural event involve the fallacy of excluding the thought of the man making the attempt.

It is admitted that the mind is affected by physical events; a wireless set is influenced by atmospherics, but it does not originate its deliverances - we'd take no notice of it if we thought it did. Natural events we can relate one to another until we can trace them finally to the space-time continuum. But thought has no father but thought. It is conditioned, yes, not caused. My knowledge that I have nerves in inferential.

The same argument applies to our values, which are affected by social factors, but if they are caused by them we cannot know that they are right. One can reject morality as an illusion, but the man who does so often tacitly excepts his own ethical motive: for instance the duty of freeing morality from superstition and of spreading enlightenment.

Neither Will nor Reason is the product of Nature. Therefore either I am self-existent (a belief which no one can accept) or I am a colony of some Thought and Will that are self-derived from a self-existent Reason and Goodness outside ourselves, in fact, a Supernatural.

Mr. Lewis went on to say that it was often objected that the existence of the Supernatural is too important to be discernible only by abstract argument, and thus only by the leisured few. But in all other ages the plain man has accepted the findings of the mystics and the philosophers for his initial belief in the existence of the Supernatural. Today the ordinary man is forced to carry that burden himself. Either mankind has made a ghastly mistake in rejecting authority, or the power or powers ruling his destiny are making a daring experiment, and all are to become sages. A society consisting solely of plain men must end in disaster. If we are to survive we must either believe the seers or scale those heights ourselves.

Evidently, then, something beyond Nature exists. Man is on the border line between the Natural and the Supernatural. Material events cannot produce spiritual activity, but the latter can be responsible for many of our actions in Nature. Will and Reason cannot depend on anything but themselves, but Nature can depend on Will and Reason, or, in other words, God created Nature.

The relation between Nature and Supernature, which is not a relation in space and time, becomes intelligible if the Supernatural made the Natural. We even have an idea of this making, since we know the power of imagination, though we can create nothing new, but can only rearrange our material provided through sense data. It is not inconceivable that the universe was created by an Imagination strong enough to impose phenomena on other minds.

It has been suggested, Mr. Lewis concluded, that our ideas of making and causing are wholly derived from our experience of will. The conclusion usually drawn is that there is no making or causing, only "projection." But "projection" is itself a form of causing, and it is more reasonable to suppose that Will is the only cause we know, and that therefore Will is the cause of Nature.

A discussion followed. Points arising:

All reasoning assumes the hypothesis that inference is valid. Correct inference is self-evident.
"Relevant" (re evidence) is a rational term.
The universe doesn't claim to be true: it's just there.
Knowledge by revelation is more like empirical than rational knowledge.

Question: What is the criterion of truth, if you distinguish between cause and reason?
Mr Lewis: A mountainous country might have several maps made of it, only one of which was a true one; i.e., corresponding with the actual contours. The map drawn by Reason claims to be that true one. I couldn't get at the universe unless I could trust my reason. If we couldn't trust inference we could know nothing but our own existence. Physical reality is an inference from sensations.

Question: How can an axiom claim self-evidence any more than an empirical judgment on evidence?

[The essay ends here, leaving this question unrecorded.]

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fractional Reserve Banking

I have mentioned this in earlier posts. I haven't gone into detail because I only dimly understand it. The problem is not the complexity of the issue – although it isn't simple. The problem is believing that this is how banking works, how banks create money out of nothing. An additional difficulty is believing that the process works with the connivance of government. Only Victor Meldrew could do justice to this colossal scam, "I don't believe it!"

Below is a link to the first of a series of videos on YouTube: Money as Debt - Fractional Reserve Banking part 1 of 5

It is in cartoon format. When it's over you will see links to the other four parts. If and when you have understood all five parts you will be astonished – and depressed. Sorry!

When I have described in earlier posts the process by which depositors save money in banks (at x%) and banks lend the money (at y%) to entrepreneurs, who use it to produce stuff (ie wealth), I was oversimplifying. Would that I were not! That is how the system should work. Paper money should be "backed" by some commodity (traditionally gold or silver), which is valued for itself. In our world, paper currency is printed by the government and its value is simply the government's say-so. Economists call it fiat money – Latin subjunctive meaning, "Let it be!"

In an honest system, the rates of interest would depend on how much depositors save. If they are prepared to forgo present consumption themselves and save more, interest rates will be lower. If they spend instead of saving, rates will be higher. In our world, the government or the central bank decides the rate. They usually get it wrong. We are where we are because governments have kept rates too low. We have had low rates not because we were all saving so much but because the government wanted to create an artificial "boom", which makes us feel richer – for a time. This is cynical in the extreme. They want us to re-elect them. But it is unsustainable. Booms are always followed by "busts".

The Austrians teach us that although a boom feels good (for a while), booms are bad and the inevitable bust is the period when the economy is starting to cure itself. The Keynesians would like to "buck the market". It can't be done. They would have us believe that they can repeal the Law of Gravity.

Their solution is "stimulus": continued low interest rates and "quantitative easing". The "idea" is to cure the disease with more of what caused it. They claim that they can keep the boom going. Cloud Cuckoo Land!

Governments have an interest in our almost universal ignorance.

I have a headache!

Kevin still hasn’t read this blog!

Perhaps he will do so on Wednesday, in the library.

He and I have been drinking gin-and-tonic together at the Robin Hood, as we do once a fortnight – very pleasant.

He is the most courteous of debating partners. I don't know how many times he has said, "You make a very good point."

I try to reciprocate in courtesy. I keep saying, "Kevin, you are too decent to get it!" And this is the point. Decent, thinking people naturally, inevitably, by default, inspired by a desire for the economic wellbeing of all (particularly the poor), tend to the belief that we can legislate wellbeing.

You can't! All you can do is facilitate the means whereby people can improve the wellbeing of themselves and their neighbours.

You, imaginary reader, are the benevolent dictator of Poorland. Children in your country work long hours for low wages in horrid conditions. You want to help. So you issue decrees to the effect that the very young will henceforth not be employed at all; and that low wages are to be abolished. You feel very good.

First question: Are the kids any better off? No, they are unemployed and the subtraction of their wages from their family economies means that they and their parents and their baby siblings are hungrier than before. Perhaps they will try prostitution. Ouch!

Second question: Did your decrees, in any way, increase the wealth of Poorland? No, production has declined – the country is poorer than before. Wealth is production. Production is wealth. Ouch, ouch!

The minimum wage you set doesn't have the effect of making everybody richer – it simply means that the least productive people get the sack. Why would any sane employer give work to anyone who couldn't more than cover the cost of employing them? The question answers itself.

You are decent; you are benevolent – you are desperate to improve the lot of the poor. What do you do?

  • You look at the Statute Book.
  • You repeal all the laws (and the bureaucracy) that inhibit the acquisition of capital. For example, you make it easy for people to prove that they have title to the land on which they live. If they are not paying rent, then nobody else owns it. Trillions of dollars worth of capital is unavailable in the Third World because the land-holders are not, legally, the landowners.
  • Some of the "new" landowners will approach lenders with propositions for enterprises wherein their ideas, mixed with the money they want to borrow and their own labour and perhaps that of others will create stuff that people want to buy. Production, geddit?
  • If they are convincing, the lenders will be forthcoming. The capital goods, premises, machinery etc will make them (the borrowers, the entrepreneurs) and their employees (if any) more productive than they would otherwise have been. The lenders' money is at risk but they know that they can call upon the security provided by the borrowers – the land.
  • Your advisors tell you that a very large percentage of everything people earn is taxed away from them and used to pay for a variety of programmes designed to make things "fairer" in Poorland. You observe that these programmes don't make things fairer. You also observe that it costs money to tax people and it costs money to spend the tax take.
  • You wonder what would happen if your overtaxed countrymen were allowed to keep more of their income. What would they do with it? They would spend some of it on themselves – thereby providing profit and employment to businessmen and their employees – vicious, huh? They would save some of it. The savings would available to be lent to businesses, capital – which enables the businesses to be more productive, and the country (by definition) richer.

OK, Your Excellency, you are beginning to get it. It will soon be time to start thinking about changing the name of your country. How does Richland sound?

Children don't have to work long hours for low wages in horrid conditions in Richland. Their parents are so much more productive than they used be that they don't need the pittance that their kids used to earn.

Our wise overlords, as Tom Woods calls them, have got the wrong end of the stick. They are infected with the hare-brained idea that "consumption" creates wealth. It doesn't, as a moment's reflection will prove. Production creates wealth.

Less than two years ago I accepted the idea that stimulating spending on consumption was a rational idea. How stupid was I?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Two Excellent Books by Catholics – Now, there’s a surprise!

I have recently read Peter Kreeft's CS Lewis for the Third Millennium. It is magnificent. I downloaded it to my Kindle – what a fabulous device! More at a later date on PK, perhaps.

Over the weekend I read for the third time Tom Woods' The Church and the Market – beyond magnificent!

It was occasioned by Woods' disquiet about certain trends in "Catholic Social Doctrine" from the nineteenth century onwards. He is very courteous about the authors with whom he takes issue (including Popes Leo XIII, Pius IX and John XXIII). He does not question their Theology. Indeed, as an orthodox Catholic, Woods subscribes impeccably to the Catholic view that when the pontiffs pronounce on Faith and Morals, we have to accord to their words a very special importance indeed. Am I being wishy-washy about papal infallibility? Perhaps. Woods does not have a problem with it. However, it is when they come to recommending particular social policies, even popes will err if those policies lead to outcomes that are contrary to the very objectives they espouse – because those policies are based upon faulty economic reasoning. If they were to recommend bleeding for sundry diseases, neither their Charity nor their Theology would be at fault. It would be their medical knowledge.

The so-called Late Scholastics were the first to observe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that there are Scientific Laws of Human Behaviour – and this before the idea of Scientific Laws of Nature (gravitation etc) was generally accepted. Their writings influenced Adam Smith. In fact they understood prices better than he did. Their latter day successors were Mengler, von Mises and Rothbard – the Austrian School, of which Woods is such a distinguished member.

TC&TM contains an excellent introduction to Austrian Economics, which I am not going to summarise here. I will only say that it is true, as irrefutable as Pythagorus.

What a tragedy that we have not accepted these well-founded theories. If we had similarly disregarded the Germ Theory of Disease, our life expectancy would be half what it is, or less.

Private property, the rule of Law, free markets and sound money would have vouchsafed us a standard of living light years beyond what we now enjoy (having only sporadically based policy upon them). We could easily have eradicated poverty and probably war.

Bien pensants elites have not only failed to understand what the Austrians teach. They have actively embraced contrary ideas: State Interference, Social Justice (the whole disastrous panoply of Socialism). Would it be enough to erase the influence of Marx and of Keynes – if we could? Perhaps not. There is something seductive about meddling.

Nevertheless, Hope is a virtue. Watch me as I practise it! Truth will out! The inexorable rightness of Austrian thinking will continue to spread. Its future is assured by the failure of current policies. God's Kingdom is not of this World. Austrian Economics will not abolish Original Sin. But we can make the World better.

Apologies to David Rasnick

I misspelled his name in an earlier post.

Here is a link to his website:

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Catholic Falls out with a Priest

Whaddya gonna do, abandon your faith? Come on!

Priests are men. Men (and therefore priests) are fallible and sinners.

It is a very painful situation. You know he is fallible and sinful – you always did. You have an opinion about his intellectual ability – brilliant, ordinary, not particularly gifted. You have an opinion about his social skills – amazing, clumsy, crass or whatever. Likewise about his judgement.

It is painful but it affects your participation in the Mass not at all. As in the military, we salute the uniform, not the man. We are lucky when our commanders or clergy are inspiring. We don't have the right to expect it. When an ordained priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is consecrated.

The above is personal. But it does relate to something for which anti-Catholics have enjoyed castigating the Church: child abuse.

[Incidentally, typical anti-Catholic castigators have helped to create a society in which (almost) any sexual preference or sexual behaviour is simply regarded as a lifestyle choice.]

As a father, I find the very idea of children being abused (in whatever way), particularly by one entrusted with their spiritual development, nauseating.

Here follow a few personal thoughts:

I am sure that the individuals involved in recent scandals are (for the most part) filled with self-loathing. Their superiors have been disgusted. Those superiors are (as it happens) charged with responsibility for the welfare (spiritual and non-spiritual) not only of the laity but of the perpetrators. I don't envy them.

They are presented with evidence of appalling abuse, perpetrated by clergy. They are confronted with conflicting choices. Should their primary concern be for the children, or for the reputation of the Church?

For what it is worth, my view is: the children!

I love the Church. Her reputation matters to me. I want everybody to be a Catholic. Insofar as the scandal has encouraged anyone to reject the Church, I am appalled.

God's Church on Earth is a human institution, (though instituted by Christ Himself). It has been ruled by monsters in the past – and by fallible men in every generation.

Catholics are as disgusted by priestly abuse as any one – more so, I assume. Catholics, as a whole, are disgusted by "cover ups" by the hierarchy.

Catholics should be aware that Bishops have multiple responsibilities. And yet! They should have had greater courage. They should have had greater Faith!

God's Church doesn't need cover ups. Don't do it – ever!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

HIV/AIDS – A Response to Elisa: Part III

I'm going to wrap this up fairly quickly with a few bullet points. Please let me have your comments.

  • None of the predictions of the AIDS establishment have come true. It never became a heterosexual epidemic. No vaccine has been developed. As Duesberg points out, Jenner developed the first vaccine in a few weeks for a few quid. Billions of dollars and thirty years have not produced an AIDS vaccine.
  • The anti-viral "therapies" have killed more people than AIDS. An American couple wrote to Duesberg when their adopted daughter became very ill while on an anti-viral regime. He implored them to take her off it. They did and she immediately recovered.
  • Many people who died while taking the drugs died of kidney failure. Kidney failure is not an AIDS defining disease.
  • There are many people who have been diagnosed as "positive" who have eschewed the drugs and lived healthy lives.
  • Google Rethinking Aids.
  • Never take an AIDS test.
  • Never take the AIDS drugs.

Thank you for your attention.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

HIV/AIDS – A Response to Elisa: Part II

Apologies for spending so much time on this subject:

Why am I doing so? Well, Elisa deserves it. Not because she is stunningly beautiful or because she is frighteningly intelligent; but because she has asked me for my opinion and my justifications therefore.

Well now. On Shakespeare's birthday 1984, A US government bureaucrat, Margaret Heckler announced that the probable cause of AIDS had been discovered – in spite of what you have read in the previous post.

The very next day the New York Times removed "probable".

There had been no peer review (not that I place much reliance on peer review- not a hoop that Newton ever had to jump through); there had been no scientific paper; there had been a press conference. Gallo invented the HIV theory of AIDS, Heckler endorsed it, the New York Times confirmed it and the rest of the scientific community rolled over. But not quite – Peter Duesberg and Kary Mullis (Nobel Laureate) refused to give in. Of the two, Duesberg has suffered the most. Having a Nobel Prize confers a certain degree of immunity.

[Oh dear, Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize (Economics) and he is certifiable. He won't debate Robert Murphy. Why not?]

AIDS was a sexually transmitted virus and we were in the middle of an epidemic.

Viral epidemics have a well defined trajectory. A few people get the disease, others have natural immunity, yet others develop immunity from contact with the virus. The curve goes up, peaks and declines. In the case of AIDS the numbers remained flat. There was some confusion because "AIDS diseases" were added to the original definition; but essentially AIDS did not behave like a "normal" epidemic".

Normal epidemics do not discriminate. When syphilis or smallpox enters a population, males and females suffer equally. Not so with AIDS – the victims remained resolutely within the gay community.

Intelligent gays were disquieted by the facts. Are our friends getting sick because of our lifestyle? Or is there a deadly microbe out there which will kill regardless of sexual preference? A gay activist will be drawn inexorably to the second hypothesis. The first implies a criticism of the new gay lifestyle. The second puts the wind up heterosexuals. They will spend money to address the problem.

Is one true and the other false? Which one will kill gays? If our friends are getting sick and dying because of their lifestyle, then they will continue to die as a result of the second hypothesis.

Where did AIDS come from?

The conventional answer as to why a new syndrome arose alongside a new lifestyle was not that the former was the result of the latter – not an unreasonable supposition. Occam's razor – essentially that the fewer factors you call upon to explain a phenomenon the better – was cast aside. Monkeys and clandestine CIA operations were called upon. Africa seemed promising and Africa was it!

Africans are not more promiscuous than Europeans or Californians but they are (for the most) part poor, ironically and tragically, because their continent is so rich in natural resources. Being poor means that clean drinking water doesn't come out of your taps – you don't have taps (or flush toilets) and your faeces contaminate your drinking water and that of your neighbours. You and they get sick. This was the situation in Europe two/three/four hundred years ago. It was in Africa one/two/three hundred years ago. We got sick, they got sick. We are rich; they remain poor. We stopped getting sick. They still get sick. There is no new sickness in Africa.

You have to be racist to blame sickness on Africans' inability to keep their trousers fastened. We are the ones who teach promiscuity to our children.

AIDS is not decimating Africa. Check this out for yourself. Since the eighties the population in every African country (except Ruanda!) has risen. Check this out for yourself. All Africans have had more to eat in the past quarter century – until recently, when subsidies for bio-fuels have raised the cost of food for everyone. You might not notice it; but an African who spends most of his income on food certainly has.

Rian Malan has lost friends by comparing alarmist AIDS death statistics to actual death rates. "AIDS" deaths in South Africa are not increasing – coffin makers are going out of business.

Charles Geshekter is very good on African AIDS statistics.

Good night. More tomorrow, I'm afraid.

HIV/AIDS – A Response to Elisa: Part I

[A gremlin – this is out of sequence. Word tells me that it was posted on 17/08/2011; but it seems to have evaporated!]

First of all, thanks to those of you who have commented, whether by email or on the blog. I love you!

Elisa, you mentioned H Pylori, about which, by chance, I blogged on Monday, 15th August.

The HIV theory of AIDS

In the late seventies and early eighties a ghastly phenomenon emerged. Young men were presenting with a new combination of symptoms, including: weight-loss, diarrhoea, dementia, various types of pneumonia and (in some cases) Kaposi's sarcoma, a disease which had hitherto been observed mostly in middle-aged men. All these conditions were well-known to medical science. They nearly all had well understood causes. What was new was their combination in young men. These young men were all practising homosexuals. Many died.

A name was given to the syndrome (ie a collection of symptoms): GRIDS (Gay Related Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

The sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies – the repeal of laws against homosexuality and changes in attitude – resulted in an explosion of promiscuous activity among gay men. Certain bars and bathhouses were hot beds for this activity. Thousands of young men were having sex with more people than had almost ever occurred in history. To get this much sex you would once have had to be a Roman Emperor. Michael Callen wrote about it – I think his book was called We Know Who We Are. Some people claimed to have had hundreds of partners in a year. Many people indulged in practices which elementary hygiene would have warned against. Many of these people suffered repeated infections of gonorrhoea, syphilis and herpes. Those who did were repeatedly prescribed antibiotics. Many indulged in recreational drugs. One drug was almost exclusively used by gays, amyl nitrite (poppers), extensively advertised in the gay press.

Concerned doctors suggested that GRIDS was the result of this lifestyle – a theory which had a lot going for it. Repeated infections damage your immune system. Antibiotics damage your immune system. Recreational drugs damage your immune system. Semen is immunosuppressive – otherwise sperm would not survive inside another human being, as they need to do to make babies. A combination of all four is not going to do your immune system a whole lot of good.

The press loved AIDS! Sex and Death were very marketable as a story. Throw in celebrity victims: Rock Hudson, Rudolph Nureyev and Freddie Mercury. The press couldn't get enough of it. Lots of scientists turned their attention to it – some because they were genuinely eager to prevent suffering and save lives, some because they saw an opportunity to further their careers (nothing ignoble about that per se).

One such scientist was Robert Gallo, a super ambitious virologist with a high profile in the scientific community. It has been said that to a man with a hammer every problem looks like a nail. When a virologist turns his attention to a problem, he will inevitably apply his expertise to that problem. He may say eventually, "Nah! Nothing to do with viruses, this!"

Virologists had been heroes in the defeat of polio and of smallpox. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. When President Nixon declared a War on Cancer in the seventies, virologists naturally wondered if they could make a contribution here. They had credibility and prestige and government was prepared to throw a whole lot of money in their direction. Great days to be a virologist – at least to begin with. As time went by, however, it became apparent that hardly any (if any) cancers were caused by viruses. This is not to say that in future a connection will not be established – just that the promise of early success was not realised. So, we had all these, admittedly clever, people, armed with sophisticated techniques and amazing technology and large budgets.

Clever, (perhaps ruthlessly) ambitious Robert Gallo put his resources to work. He suspected that a fruitful approach might be to investigate an entity discovered by a French virologist called Luc Montaignier, named by him (LM) LAV. Gallo claimed to have discovered this entity himself. He called it HIV. Subsequently a political, face-saving compromise was agreed between the French and US governments that credit should be shared. LAV/HIV was said to be a retrovirus. But no retrovirus had ever been shown to be the cause any disease whatsoever. All the same, if you've got a hammer..., if you know a thing or two about viruses.

Gallo acquired samples from GRIDS patients and subjected them to investigation. However, he never isolated HIV from these samples or anywhere else. He said that he found antibodies to HIV in samples from some patients but nowhere near all.

There are a number of problems with this:

  1. Without having isolated HIV how can you be sure that the antibodies are HIV specific? You can't? You have to fudge it by saying that the antibodies react to certain proteins which (you also say) are in HIV.
  2. Antibodies are created to fight off (ie kill) invading pathogens. I will never get smallpox because my blood contains antibodies which would kill off (in a trice) any smallpox virus that invaded my body. I have a scar on my left arm as a memento of the vaccination.
  3. He couldn't find even the antibodies in all the GRIDS patients.

Medical researchers have a standard for building a case against agent A as the cause of disease B. It was established by the great German Dr Koch. You can google Koch's postulates; but they go like this:

  1. The microorganism (A) must be found in abundance in all organisms suffering from the disease (B), but should not be found in healthy organisms.
  2. The microorganism (A) must be isolated from a diseased organism and grown in pure culture.
  3. The cultured microorganism (A) should cause disease (B) when introduced into a healthy organism.
  4. The microorganism (A) must be re-isolated from the inoculated, diseased experimental host and identified as being identical to the original specific causative agent.

The HIV theory of AIDS fails all these.

Some, but not all, researches have revised these postulates. Is this perhaps because they are more wedded to the HIV theory of AIDS than to good Science?

Breaking off now. I shall return.

Rioting Youth

Dai Harris has remarked upon the fact that I have not unleashed a broadside on the rioters.

In a courteous, measured and thoughtful email reply to him I expressed the opinion that they are more sinned against than sinning – not innocent, to be sure – but not the real culprits. I chose as representative bad guys the National Union of Teachers.

This institution is a revolting instance of the way in which public services end up by being run for the benefit of those who run them. Schools in the private sector have no choice but to be run for the benefit of parents and children. Repeat, there are no private schools which are not run for the benefit of parents and children – just as there are no supermarkets which are not run for the benefit of consumers. There couldn't be.

Public sector schools have failed spectacularly to achieve the most basic objectives of education, namely, that of enabling all children of normal intelligence to acquire knowledge of the world and mental tools to exploit that knowledge. History is simply not taught and without a knowledge of History we are (famously) condemned to repeat it.

For example, History tells us that the stock markets crashed in October 1929. Many businesses failed and many were thrown out of work. However, by the spring of the following year the stock markets were recovering and unemployment was falling. And then Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated the New Deal which caused the longest and deepest depression in US history, affecting the whole western world and, of course, setting back the development of poor countries. Roosevelt, under the baleful influence of Keynes and his followers believed that government borrowing and spending would "stimulate" the economy. His administration did mad things, like keeping wages artificially high (low, but growing, wages in China and India have been the stimulus to those economies) and like destroying crops and livestock to keep prices high – yeah, as if destroying wealth will make you wealthy; as if getting deeper and deeper into debt will improve your financial position.

Thousands of neo-classical economists begged FDR to desist. He didn't and the depression lasted another decade.

We are seeing a re-run at the moment. Billions and billions have been pumped in to "stimulate" the economies of the West – billions we don't have and have to borrow. The too-big-to-fail banks and motor manufacturers have been rewarded, instead of being punished by the free-market. Bankruptcy of failing enterprises is a bloody good thing. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to buy capital goods cheaply – and to create wealth.

Has the stimulus worked – even a little bit?

I've drifted away from rioters and the NUT.

Highly paid NUT members (very highly paid, in view of their failure to enable all children to become employable) have a leftist mindset: government should run everything and should cushion its employees with index-linked pensions, extraordinary job security and the like. Their mindset excludes the idea that education should pass on the wisdom and morality of the past. Poor bloody rioters, whose minds are empty of useful knowledge and skills, whose hearts are strangers to moral concepts and who are paid to be unproductive!

BTW I have just googled "Was Keynes a Fascist?" and found this:

I haven't read it all; so, I'm not commending it unconditionally.

In case you need reminding, I view Socialism and Fascism to be fraternal twins. Mussolini invented Fascism and declared himself a Socialist.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I mentioned Semmelweiss in my previous post. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article about him:

In brief, Ignaz Semmelweiss was a Hungarian doctor in the Vienna General Hospital, appointed in 1846.

There were three categories of maternity patients in the hospital: those who had given birth before they were admitted to hospital, those who gave birth in hospital, cared for by midwives and those who gave birth in hospital and were cared for by doctors.

Puerperal fever (which we now know to be an infection caused by bacteria) is now practically unknown in advanced societies. In the Vienna General Hospital it was common: less so in the first group, more so in the second group and alarmingly so in the third group.

Why should the patients who enjoyed the care of professionally trained doctors be more likely to contract the condition than those cared for by less expensively educated midwives (and much more likely than those who received no professional care)?

Semmelweiss proposed an explanation. He observed that the lethal doctors spent some of their time conducting autopsies and some of their time delivering babies. They wore the same clothes for both duties. They did not wash their hands after cutting up corpses and before entering the delivery room. He suspected that they might be carrying "cadaverous material" (what we now call infectious agents, bacteria etc), which caused the deadly fever.

He followed the practice of washing his hands with chlorinated lime. This is essentially the chlorine bleach we use to disinfect toilets. He begged his colleagues in vain to follow his example. His patients died in far smaller numbers than those of other doctors in the hospital, who continued to sneer.

Twenty years later Louis Pasteur, following on from Semmelweiss' observations and practices, developed the Germ Theory of Disease, without which you might never have come into existence.

Semmelweiss flourished (if you can call it that) only a century and a half ago. Has humanity (or society) come so far since then that reliance on "received wisdom" or "current theory" is never at risk from good observation and careful theorising? Nope.

I once had a conversation with a nurse about AIDS. She said I was wrong and clinched it by telling me that she had been on a special AIDS course. It was useless to point out that if the ruling theory was wrong, "trained" people (like her) were the least likely to get it right.

I'd like to see this quotation from Oliver Cromwell prominently displayed in every place of scientific education

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bad Science – Cancer II

In years to come Peter Duesberg will be recognised as the brave genius he is. Tragically, he upset the community of happy secure virologists by casting doubt on the establishment's espousal of the HIV theory of AIDS.

The establishment took only 24 hours to espouse Robert Gallo's claim to have discovered the "probable cause of AIDS".


An American scientist had put his finger on the cause of the media's favourite story: Sex & Death. The National Institutes for Health and the Centres for Disease Control probably took no more than 24 seconds to spot the gravy train of all gravy trains. How will the federal government not be forced to spend billions with us? Their dreams quickly came true.

Their sad counterparts in the Environmental Protection Agency had to wait years before Al Gore did the same for them. Do these bureaucrats resent the millions that Gallo and Gore have made for themselves out of these "issues"? Do they fish?

Do you? You should!

Progressives encourage us to resent the fortunes made by entrepreneurs. But entrepreneurs only ever get rich by giving us what we want. Gore and Gallo have made fortunes by picking our pockets – what saps we are!

There is a double tragedy in the case of Duesberg. Having blotted his copy book (ie screamed "Wake up!") over AIDS, he could be ignored by the Cancer Establishment when he questioned their favoured gene-mutation theory of cancer.

The link below is to Duesberg in his own words. I am in no position to state that he is right and the gene-mutationists are wrong. The HIV/AIDS stuff is much more clear-cut. The AIDS establishment's predictions have been falsified over nearly 30 years. All the same, who are you going to trust, Semmelweiss or his colleagues in their pus streaked coats with their unwashed hands and their catastrophic mortality figures?,_Duesberg0507,_SciAm.pdf

Bad Science – Cancer I

Ever since World War II governments have become increasingly involved in scientific research. Indeed, governments now have almost a monopoly on scientific funding. Why? During the greatest periods of scientific discovery, from the seventeenth century onwards, government was almost nowhere. Newton, perhaps the greatest modern scientist, never received a government grant – at least not to conduct his research.

Occasionally governments offered prizes, as in the case of that won by Harrison for his invention of the marine chronometer.

Now, almost no scientific research is carried out without the support of government grants.

Hurrah for governments, you might say. Why am I such a kill-joy?

A thought experiment is in order.

A problem or an objective is identified, perhaps by the media.

The government wants to be associated with the solution or the achievement. Government is never disinterested – they always want to curry favour with the electorate or to distract attention from their failures.

They invite "experts" to advise them. These experts are immediately compromised. They know that if their approach is adopted, they will be in clover. They have every incentive to exclude those whose opinions are different.

I defy you to deny what I have said so far.

In the negotiations which follow, the government will indicate subtly but clearly what sort of solutions are acceptable, namely those which accord with their constituents' prejudices. Objective Truth – what are you talking about? The bureaucrat we remember in the Creed famously asked, "What is Truth?"

Imagine that you are the expert in this situation. Do you go for the millions on the table or do you say, "I'm a scientist! I must go where the evidence leads me." I know nothing about you but I do know (from painful personal experience) about Original Sin.

QED: What chance has Truth when faced with constituents' prejudices or millions on the table?

When "Science" is revered as the only way we have of understanding the world and when "scientists" can be bought so readily, we are in deep doo-doo!

I yield to no-one in my reverence for the great scientists of the past: Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton. They were not in thrall to the state. Lysenko was perhaps (?) the greatest "scientific" whore of all time. He flourished when scientific truth was subservient to Soviet orthodoxy. Google him!

I've got "Cancer" in the title to this post. Am I claiming that I know more about the disease that will afflict more than 30% of us than all the cancer institutes in the world? I'm not that crazy. But I am claiming that the currently accepted theory of cancer being caused by "gene mutation" has elbowed out of the picture a theory which starts from the observation that nearly all (if not all) malignant tumours are "aneuploid", that is, their cells don't have the "euploid" 46 chromosomes but between 60 and 90 chromosomes.

David Raznik and Peter Duesberg suggest that this might be significant. If they are right, then research should be directed to investigating the possibility.

I will finish this post by telling you about Helicobacter Pylori. This is the cause of stomach ulcers – everybody now agrees. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren of Perth, Australia, first came up with this theory – they were vilified. The reigning theory was that excessive stomach acid was the cause. Pharmaceutical companies made billions from drugs that suppressed acid production. These guys proved their theory by ingesting HP, developing ulcers and then curing themselves with antibiotics. I think they got a Nobel Prize.

Perhaps Perth should be declared the Scientific Capital of the World. Google The Perth Group – very subversive, these guys are worth a Google.

I will post again on the aneuploidy theory of cancer.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Welcome, Kevin!

I hope this will embarrass you for having ignored my previous invitations to this blog!

I hope you enjoy it.

You will recognise some of my themes – I have tried some of them out on you in the pub.

God, Science and the New Atheism (Keith Ward)

This man is phenomenal. I can't do justice to him; so, I'll let him speak for himself:


On a different subject altogether, though it does have the word "God" in the title, is this piece by Jay Richards, Money Greed and God:

I have linked to it before.

Do you find it persuasive? Comments please.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Harry Potter – Not Good Writing but a Good Thing?

I have just watched a Harry Potter movie on TV. I think I have seen two or three before. And I have read one of the books, can't remember which one – no plans to read another one. I am quite certain that the films are better than the books – after all the casts are magnificent.

All the same, I think that, despite the muddled plots, the whole HP phenomenon is wholesome. I am delighted to hear that J K Rowling (wonderfully old-fashioned, that name) is a half-billionaire – always pleased by innocent success. Moreover, she is credited with getting young teenagers to read – can't be bad.

The three other writers with whom she will always be compared are J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis and Philip Pulman. The first two are incomparably superior and the latter is totally malign – well, I would think that wouldn't I? Perhaps PP writes as well as (or better than) JKR but the two are amateurs compared with Tolkien and Lewis. Well, Tollers and Jack were actually educated to a degree that is very rare these days – yes, we've got Roger Scruton, Peter Hitchens, a few dozen magnificent Americans and a few dozen other luminaries I am too lazy to name (but they don't write books for children).

So why am I writing an encomium for Rowling, when I regard her as being a children's writer of the third or fourth rank? The answer is that she knows the difference between Good and Evil – and that the struggle between the two is central to her writing.

More particularly, she describes a situation in which those who should be relied on to be on the side of the angels, The Ministry of Magic and the acting headmistress of Hogwarts (stupid rather than evil), have been subverted by "the dark side".

This is the situation in which we find ourselves today.

Almost all our institutions have been subverted by political correctness. Incidentally, the term PC was not coined by those on the right; it was a totally non-ironic description of their own thinking by progressives on US campuses in the period when Alan Bloom wrote The Closing of the American Mind.

Our governments are in thrall to Keynesianism, in spite of the fact that we have had the best part of a century to observe that it has never worked.

Good on you, J K. Perhaps very few of your readers have drawn the parallels between Harry Potter's world and ours in terms of economics – all the same, most will have ingested the lesson that Evil must be resisted. Pity that Ben Bernanke is not as ugly as Lord Voldemort.

Climate Justice – I Didn’t Make it Up!

Out of curiosity I have just googled "Climate Justice" – Over twelve million hits. There is also, apparently something called "Environmental Justice"!

This seems to me to be an example of moral illiteracy.

The worst case of moral illiteracy I have ever encountered was in The Sunday Times a few years ago. They had conducted a poll to discover what people thought about a certain type of behaviour, perhaps it was adultery.

The question was: Is adultery (or whatever it was)

A) A sin


B) A temptation?


All the Best Ingredients

  • Garlic – lots, chopped
  • Ginger – a piece at least as big as your thumb, chopped
  • Chilli – as much as you like, chopped
  • Soy Sauce – quite a bit
  • Balsamic Vinegar – less than the Soy Sauce
  • Some Red Wine

Mix this lot together.

Brown some meat – chicken thighs, for example.

Pour the mixture over the meat and simmer for a long time. Don't let it dry out!

Serve with rice.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Social Justice

Am I simply being perverse and gratuitously controversial when I declare myself to being opposed to the very idea of Social Justice? I don't think so; and here's why.

Our belief in Justice is innate. Aquinas declares that the Natural Law cannot be erased from the heart of Man. We are born believing that some things are just and some things are unjust. Of course, most of us are most vociferous about injustice when we perceive ourselves to be the victim. C S Lewis points out in Mere Christianity that humans do not just fight, as other animals do; we quarrel. Nearly always (if not always) we quarrel over perceived injustices. "That's not fair," we complain. Any single such complaint may or may not be justified. Nevertheless, we all do it.

So, Justice is fundamental to our thinking about Right and Wrong. Any particular issue may get complicated; but we instinctively believe that, given all the facts, the justice or injustice of the case can be pronounced upon.

The Hebrew Scriptures, the ancient Greeks, the New Testament, the Church Fathers and nearly all philosophers in nearly all civilisations conceive of Justice as being the cornerstone of the moral life.

Putting "Social" in front of it simply dilutes the idea. Worse than that, it is nonsense and will lead to evil. Imagine Chemical Justice, which is absurd. Regrettably, it is easy to believe that Climate Justice has been appealed to. But that would also be absurd. If you can persuade me that some action on my part will adversely affect the climate enjoyed some other people, then my action can be judged unjust – full stop.

What also happens to be true is that a gross injustice is being perpetrated on the poorest people in the world by legislation which subsidises bio-fuels, thereby increasing the cost of food. In order to feel good about themselves, governments have enacted wicked legislation hampering the exploitation of colossal reserves of natural gas, shale oil, tar sands and off-shore oil deposits. If we stopped subsidising bio-fuels and allowed the cost of electricity to fall, the poor would have cheaper food and children would be less likely to die of respiratory diseases caused by burning wood and dung in unventilated huts.

It is patently true that some people have insufficient resources to live comfortable lives. Indeed, for the whole of human history, the vast majority have had insufficient resources to live what we would consider bearable lives. All of the authorities above are agreed that insofar as the poverty of any group is the result of cheating or violence on the part of another group, then an injustice has been done. Well, it's circular, isn't it? Cheating is unjust; violence, except in self-defence, is unjust.

However, you would not get similar unanimity over the idea that everyone should be equally well-off – any more than that everyone should be equally tall or equally brainy. That it is unfair that Jane is prettier than Jenny. That it is morally wrong for Jack to be able to run faster than John. We can certainly say that it is regrettable that Jenny is disfigured or that John is crippled or that some children do not have enough to eat. It's appalling that some children do not have enough to eat. We may be (damnably) failing in Charity if we do nothing to alleviate their hunger, whether by giving or by enabling their parents to help themselves.

Good economic theory demonstrates and history has shown time and again that free markets, based upon property rights and the rule of law, are the only way to enable people to help themselves out of wretched poverty. When it takes years of fighting bureaucracy and paying bribes to establish a business, then the poor remain poor. Granted, some will become rich through markets, perhaps fabulously so. Some of the rich will be philanthropic.

In the so-called Gilded Age, the age of America's fastest growth and steepest improvement in standards of living, we had the example of John D Rockefeller, among others. He brought the cost of kerosene down by 90%. People could afford to read in the evenings rather than having to go to bed. He employed thousands of people and he gave away millions of dollars. I don't know if he was a nice man – he was a man and therefore a sinner – but he contributed more to the wellbeing of his fellow men than any number of government entitlement programmes.

Government entitlement programmes are created to increase so-called Social Justice. They always fail. More importantly, they are unjust. I don't have the right to help myself to your property. Therefore I cannot delegate that right to the government. Theft by individuals is wrong. Theft by government is wrong and catastrophic.

Overseas aid always fails. It almost always means taking from the poor in rich countries and giving it to the rich in poor countries. No country has ever become "developed" by receiving aid. We developed by having a relatively well established system of property rights and the rule of law.

Let us pause to consider the enormous amount of good done in poor countries by charitable enterprises, usually religious. Missionaries, unsupported by governments, have contributed massively to health and education, without which development ain't going to happen.

Social Justice programmes don't work and they are UNJUST. Have I convinced you? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Jesus Prayer

I understand that the Jesus prayer is much loved by the Orthodox Church. I love it.

It is packed with theology

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Be merciful to me, a sinner.

Working backwards: I, like all my fellow men, am a sinner. The concept of Original Sin is absolutely fundamental to Christianity/Catholicism. We know the difference between Good and Evil – and we know that we do Evil. Read a newspaper; examine your conscience. To acknowledge Original Sin is the beginning of Wisdom.

We therefore require Mercy.

We appeal to Christ for Mercy. We acknowledge that the historical Jesus is the Christ – the Son of God, the Lord of Creation.

A hundred times a day – not nearly enough.

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say that there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't.

I'm one of the first.

I say, there are those who believe that we can create Heaven on Earth and those who believe that, although we can improve this world (and dramatically!), God's Kingdom is not of this world.

Those who believe that they have a blueprint for Heaven on Earth in fact have a blueprint for Hell. And they have been successful in bringing their plan to fruition. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Kim Jong Il, Castro and their like have created Hell precisely because they had the plans for Heaven in their pockets.

I love this paragraph from C S Lewis, quoted by the magnificent James Delingpole in Watermelons:

It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Letter to Carrie

Very very dear Carrie

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog - yes, it is a great medium.

Thanks too for saying that I write well.

Needless to say, I am not surprised that you disagree with pretty well everything.

Nor was I very surprised by the fact that you don't know anyone who wouldn't.

When I was a "progressive", I didn't know many (perhaps any) conservatives. As I morphed into a conservative, then into a neo-con and then into a libertarian - quite painful that - I had no personal relationships with other conservatives, neo-cons, libertarians. I was swimming in a progressive sea. I was thrilled (before morphing) by the defeat of Barry Goldwater, by the election of Harold Wilson.

So, I take some satisfaction in having swum against the tide. Of course, this doesn't make me right. But when I examined my earlier mindset (the default mindset of all decent people), I came to realise that it boiled down to: "Wouldn't it be nice if...", "We should elect clever, incorruptible(?) people who will make all the important decisions for our society.", "It isn't fair!"

Yes, I did read the "Nudge" stuff and found it interesting - though I don't remember everything; and I will follow the link you have sent me. What I do remember is my disquiet at the thought that the clever and the incorruptible, having come up with the appropriate solution to any particular issue, the question was how to get a thick electorate to go for it. Really sorry if I am misrepresenting Nudge theory.

My strong belief is that over two hundred years ago Adam Smith described a far more benign idea: individuals act in their own interests, and that (astonishingly), when they are allowed to do so without impinging on the interests of others, the whole community is served. When I innocently serve my interests I serve the interests of my fellow men - and vice-versa. I prefer the Invisible Hand to being nudged.

Do you take my point that where "Social Justice" conflicts with "Justice", the latter should prevail - so what need of SJ?

Much love to you both


XX (one each)

PS there was a debate on Radio 4 last night between Keynesians and Hayekians. Check it out if you have time.