who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. The Post-Constitutional
2. Green politicians launch legal challenge over GCHQ
3. Lewis Lapham and Thomas Frank Forecast the
4. The Reformation: Can
Social Scientists Save Themselves?
5. America Is NUMBER
ONE...In Income Inequality
This is the Nederlog of May 5.
It is a crisis issue.
There are several interesting items: The first is by Chris Hedges, who
argues, convincingly I think, that the U.S. is in a post-constitutional
phase, mostly due to the partiality of the majority of the judges of
the Supreme Court for the rich; next is a legal challenge by Green
Party parliamentarians to the GCHQ; next a long article of which I
quote only one bit on the next American Revolution (according to Lapham
an Frank); next is a long article on the issue whether social
scientists are capable of saving themselves (I say: No, not if they
remain as they have been since 1970, and they probably will: proto- and
pseudo-science for the lesser gifted); and finally a piece about the
U.S. being easily number one in income inequalities, compared to most
The first item is
article by Chris Hedges on Truth dig:
It starts as follows -
and you may need some understanding of the Hedges-Ellsberg-Chomsky-and
others case, that the Supreme Court refused to hear, though it is
explained after this beginning:
The U.S. Supreme
Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2)
of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the
military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military
detention centers without due process, means that this provision will
continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a
post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S.
citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the
courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government,
exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of
fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so
corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of
reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional
rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by
OpenCongress.com showed that this provision had a 98 percent
disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not
rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny,
including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask
of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.
This is sharply
formulated, but it seems mostly true to me - except that I do not
see any "militant mass
movements" and I also do not expect much of them.
Then what, you may ask. Keep argueing, I'd say, and perhaps
hope for another major crisis, that will destroy the present US state
and government, because of its enormous debts.
There is also this, on page 2 of the article:
The goals of
corporate capitalism are increasingly indistinguishable from the goals
of the state. The political and economic systems are subservient to
corporate profit. Debate between conventional liberals and
conservatives has been replaced by empty political theater and
spectacle. Corporations, no matter which politicians are in office,
loot the Treasury, escape taxation, push down wages, break unions,
dismantle civil society, gut regulation and legal oversight, control
information, prosecute endless war and dismantle public institutions
and programs that include schools, welfare and Social Security. And
elected officials, enriched through our form of legalized corporate
bribery, have no intention of halting the process.
Yes, that also seems to
be basically correct and sharply formulated. The next paragraph has
this, which I tend to doubt (but I have never been to the U.S.):
Those of us who
are condemned as radicals, idealists and dreamers call for basic
reforms that, if enacted, will make peaceful reform possible. But
corporate capitalists, now unchecked by state power and dismissive of
the popular will, do not see the fires they are igniting. The Supreme
Court ruling on our challenge is one more signpost on the road to
What I tend to doubt is
capitalists, now unchecked by state power and dismissive of the popular
will, do not see the fires they are igniting": I think they very well may both see this and
have planned for this, among other things by militarizing the American
It ends as follows:
masters will not of their own volition curb their appetite for profits.
Human misery and the deadly assault on the ecosystem are good for
business. These masters have set in place laws that, when we rise
up—and they expect us to rise up—will permit the state to herd us like
sheep into military detention camps. Section 1021(b)(2) is but one
piece of the legal tyranny now in place to ensure total corporate
control. The corporate state also oversees the most pervasive security
and surveillance apparatus in human history. It can order the
assassination of U.S. citizens. It has abolished habeas corpus. It uses
secret evidence to imprison dissidents, such as the Palestinian
Al-Najjar. It employs the Espionage Act to criminalize those who expose
abuses of power. A ruling elite that accrues for itself this kind
of total power, history has shown, eventually uses it.
Yes - that is: "they expect us to rise up", and indeed the most likely outcome
of such an uprisal is that it "will permit the state to herd us like sheep into military
detention camps", from
which almost no one will come back.
And as I also see very few willing to rise up, my message is to
keep argueing, and, perhaps, keep or start hoping that the existing
U.S. system will collapse, from debts, from incompetence, from greed,
from stupidity, from internal strife or from other reasons.
considerably more under the last dotted link, and it is better if you
read all of it.
2. Green politicians launch legal challenge
over GCHQ surveillance
The next item is an
article by Rob Evans on The Guardian:
This starts as
Two politicians have
launched a legal action to challenge the government's ability to spy on
The pair allege that GCHQ is violating a
long-established rule that bans intelligence agencies from
eavesdropping on MPs and peers. They say their communications are
likely to have been intercepted by GCHQ, which gathers and stores data
on millions of people "on a blanket basis".
The claim by Caroline
Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, and Lady
Jones of Moulsecoomb, the Green party's two
representatives in parliament, adds to a growing number of legal challenges over the large-scale
harvesting of emails, phone calls and other internet traffic by GCHQ.
Their complaint focuses
on a rule introduced by 1966 by the then prime minister, Harold Wilson,
instructing Britain's intelligence agencies not to tap the telephones of MPs and peers unless there
is a national emergency.
Also, the present
government has affirmed that the rule still is in place, as the rest of
the article makes clear.
I am for it, although
I believe that nearly all people should not be surveilled. But
parliamentarians at least have some special right not to be surveilled,
precisely because they may be mailed or written to by many
persons, and indeed Harold Wilson agreed to that.
Then again, I am not
very confident about the outcome, which I expect will go as the SCOTUS
rulings: You cannot prove that you are surveilled (for this is done in
secret, if it is done), and "therefore" you have "no standing" - case
dismissed. That is effectively: "Our government's secret services are
and must be free to do whatever they please - Trust UsTM",
but then they have done so since 9/11/2001, both in the U.S. and Great
But I am for
it. There is considerably more under the last dotted link.
Lapham and Thomas Frank Forecast the Next American
next item is an
article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:
contains the following, by Lewis Lapham, that in a sense continues the first item:
“I suspect that if any
genuinely revolutionary change takes place it will be forced upon us by
a collapse of some kind in the system,” he told the bookstore audience.
“That’s another form of revolution that you find across time where the
civilization or the ancien regime falls apart of its own dead
weight. And in the ruins, the phoenix of a new idea or a new thought or
a new system of value takes its place. But that’s not something that
can be organized by a committee or preached from a column in the New
York Times, or even by a four-day conference about American values
sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.”
“I don’t think we have to
be concerned that we’re not parading around in the streets,” he added.
“It will come of its own accord sooner rather than later.”
that seems mostly correct. There is more in the last dotted link, and a
lot more in the next link (which I did not read all):
Reformation: Can Social Scientists Save Themselves?
It is over 100 Kb, and
it is here mostly because I am a psychologist and a philosopher, who
also has argued and written a lot about related questions.
The next item is
article by Jerry Adler in Pacific Standard - The Science of Society:
The article starts - correctly - with postmodernism and how that was mostly killed by the Sokal Hoax
(<-Wikipedia: interesting), which was an intentional fraud by a
leftist professor of physics, who thereby showed that leading
postmodernists did not know at all what they were
talking about, as indeed was the case.
The Sokal Hoax was published in 1996, which is nineteen years
after I first had argued, in published writing, against the beginnings
of postmodernism, but that ended in 1977 by attacks on my character,
while I was in 1988, briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy,
removed from the faculty of philosophy, "because of my published
ideas", as the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam wrote
me , which was the only case any Dutch
student was ever removed from a university since WW II, namely "because
he had published ideas" (that consisted only and exclusively of
questions: See here, in English).
Incidentally, that is another example of the willful blindness I had an item about
Almost no one in the Dutch "academic world" saw any
problem with postmodernism
from its start in the nineteen seventies to its finish (as a major
stream of quasi-"thought") in the nineteen nineties (although parts
still live on), just as almost no one saw any problem with the
postmodernistic slogans that "everybody knows that truth does not
exist" and "everyone knows that everybody" - you, Einstein and Eichmann
- "is equivalent".
And they did not see any problem with it, because of willful
blindness and conformism,
and besides almost no one had a brilliant mind or an independent
Next (and I am skipping a lot), Adler writes:
unprecedented has occurred in the last couple of decades in the social
sciences. Overlaid on the usual academic incentives of tenure,
advancement, grants, and prizes are the glittering rewards of
celebrity, best-selling books, magazine profiles, TED talks, and TV
appearances. A whole industry has grown up around marketing the
surprising-yet-oddly-intuitive findings of social psychology,
behavioral economics, and related fields. The success of authors who
popularize academic work—Malcolm Gladwell, the Freakonomics
guys, and the now-disgraced Jonah Lehrer—has stoked an enormous
appetite for usable wisdom from the social sciences. And the whole
ecosystem feeds on new, dramatic findings from the lab.
Yes - but this is
clearly due to a combination of market forces and stupidity (or
lack of real intelligence),
and in fact in Holland something similar happened to prizes for writers
of literature: The literature keeps being mostly as awful and horrible
as it always was, but there now is a lot of money available for prizes
- that gets earned back by the sales of awful books to the majority of
dimwits (who these days also lack the knowledge of foreign languages,
and therefore can't see how awful it is).
I do not think it will last long, but I may be mistaken, for the
universities are not what they used to be, until the 1960ies.
In any case, Adler moves next to Diederik
Stapel and some colleagues, who made up the data, because that made
him and them famous, that is, until Stapel and the others were found
Next (still skipping) there is this problem:
FAKERY IS CLEARLY more common in psychology and other sciences
than we’d like to believe. But it may not be the biggest threat to
their credibility. As the journalist Michael Kinsley once said of
wrongdoing in Washington, so too in the lab: “The scandal is what’s
legal.” (..) It is called “p-hacking,” or, more
colorfully, “torturing the data until it confesses.”
Yes, indeed - and this
is why I've said (long ago already, and in quite a few
Nederlogs) that I generally distrust p-values - but I was the only
psychologist to do so in the 1980ies and 1990ies, albeit also almost
the only one with a good knowledge of philosophy of science.
(Basically, the rest didn't care, and wasn't interested in the truth
either, and agreed it didn't exist.)
Back to Simmons:
As Simmons showed,
psychologists who deploy enough statistical sleight of hand can find
“significance” in almost any data set. How often do researchers give in
to this temptation?
Yes, indeed - and Adler
cites several fine examples, that I leave to you. Then (again skipping)
there is this:
The idea that
experiments should be replicable, producing the same results when run
under the same conditions, was identified as a defining feature of
science by Roger Bacon back in the 13th century. But the replication of
previously published results has rarely been a high priority for
scientists, who tend to regard it as grunt work. Journal editors yawn
Quite so, at least in
psychology and sociology. The basic formal reason that
replications are rarely done is that they are harder to publish; the
underlying real reason is that almost all social scientists
have very little real understanding of philosophy of
science (which requires knowledge of mathematics and logic, both of
which tend to be too difficult for social scientists).
Note that I did not say they know nothing of it: Most know about
falsification, and all can use the term "paradigm" in a Kuhnian way
(that is, with 26 different meanings). The problem is that very few
know more, and most are not really interested either, especially not if
it contains mathematics.
Here is my last quotation:
THINK THAT these problems of fraud, statistical analysis, and
replication are merely endemic to the “soft sciences,” think again.
Over the past few years, the skepticism surrounding high-profile
psychological findings has bled over into other fields, raising
awareness generally of scientific misconduct and error.
I say. Well... I welcome
that, but now I will do something Adler did not really do, namely
answering the question in the title of his essay (that I do
like) namely "Can Social Scientists Save
I graduated while I was
studied also while ill) but did so with the best possible marks, but I never
published anything in psychology after 1981. The reason I did not and
will not is that it has become very clear to me that the vast
majority of those who qualify as psychologists or sociologists,
including the vast
majority of those who become tenured academics, at least in Holland,
are utter dimwits, who do not really like science, do not really
understand science (other than as "a career opportunity"), and do not
really care for science: all they care for is an easy life and possibly
some personal fame and status, however gained.
Besides, psychology and sociology are not real sciences, as are
physics and chemistry, except in the hands of a very few, such as William
James and Max Weber, and that is also far less due to their
subjects than to their personal brilliance.
So my answer is: No, not in a really scientific way.
The very great majority of the social scientists studied a social
science because they are no good in mathematics, and therefore can't do
physics or chemistry; the very great majority of the social scientists I've
known had serious problems with the elementary statistics they had to
pass; the very
great majority of the social scientists is not really interested in real
science, in real philosophy of science, or in real
There are a few exceptions, and indeed I have met two, but in
35 years, and seeing or knowing of several hundreds of social
scientists, at least, that is very little.
Finally, although this is quite clear to me, it is quite
conceivable "the social sciences" will continue, if only because they
have been university subjects for almost a hundred years now: They give
occasion for small and tiny minds to get a Ph.D. in "a science" and,
with sufficiently many graduates, now and then someone will even
publish something with some value, but by and large, if they continue
to exist, they will exist as they have done the last nearly hundred
years: As proto-scientific
"studies", at best, that are mostly undertaken by the less intelligent,
and that are really worthwile and "readable" only for those
making a career in it, which will be nearly always with trivia or
5. America Is NUMBER ONE...In Income
The next and last item is not an article but a video, by The Young
This is from May 3, and
under the item it says:
When it comes to
income inequality, no other developed economy does it quite like the
U.S.A. If you need some proof, here it is.
In fact, this is a very
convincing video, and here are two parts of the reasons why: Two
The first shows 12 countries between 1975 and 2007, and shows how much
of the total incomes growth (without capital gains!) were divided over
the 90%, the top 9%, and the richest 1%:
much more went to the 1% in the U.S. than happened in other
countries, especially in Denmark, Portugal and Sweden, where
(re-)distribition is much more equitable, though Denmark is a
Next, a chart of how much top incomes surged between 1981 and 2012:
Again, the 1% of the
rich of the U.S. grew much more than any other country.
This seems to me a very clear illustration that indeed things are much
better for the few rich than they are elsewhere, which they owe to all
American presidents since Reagan.
As to the numbers and graphics: These are derived from the Organization for Economic
Development and therefore may be regarded as quite safe.
Finally, I should say the research is from the Huffington Post. See the
article by Maxwell Strachan, that is quite readable and not long:
P.S. May 6, 2014:
I corrected a few typos.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
This took so long because both my ex and myself were (and are, to the
best of my knowledge: we separated a long time ago) ill since 1.1.1979.
This entailed many things, and one was that I did not attend university
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: