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Insanities of the Age

Deploring Competition   April 16, 2022

Competition is our evolutionary heritage. Evolution is the story of primitive organisms becoming more complex, of organisms struggling to survive against the pressures of the environment, and competing with other forms of life. Most living creatures survive at the expense of others – including all human beings who eat meat.

The natural world embodies the principle of necessary murder.

That fierce competition is modified in the case of tribal animals. In order to gain the benefits of co-operation, the law of the jungle must be modified. But the ultimate aim of co-operation is still competitive. The tribe co-operates in order to survive the threats posed by the environment – and those threats include other tribes.

The history of mankind is a history of war. One civilization rises to a position of power. It expands by conquering other tribes. Over time, the powerful civilization begins to decay. It would appear that it loses focus – the competitive zeal fades – the raison d être – the national myth -- seems less compelling. Luxury breeds complacency; prudence and discipline relax, corruption becomes normalized.

Another tribe – more hungry, more focussed, moves in, takes over, and the process is repeated.

That process has now been seen as potentially catastrophic. The wars of the 20th century have introduced the possibility of a nuclear nightmare – from which few might awake. We have sometimes wondered – given the likelihood of other civilizations in the vastness of the universe – why no radio signals have yet been detected. Could it be that any civilization capable of sending radio signals soon discovers nuclear power, and promptly blows itself to smithereens?

Just asking.

With the advent of nuclear weapons, the necessity of avoiding the historical pattern of warring civilizations has been realized. And that has led to a stronger appreciation of the need to curtail competition. The law of the jungle promises the obliteration of its inhabitants.

But, while competition must be curtailed internationally – just as it is within nations – it is folly to think that it can be banished. Modified, yes. Avoided, no.

Competition is the recipe for improvement and efficiency. It is through competition that it is determined that one idea, one approach, one direction -- is better than another. It is through discovering a hierarchy of things that the best function is determined. Nations – and individuals – should compete in order to progress. If there is no progression – there is stasis or decline.

All creatures, we would submit, are programmed to advance. Self-interest and self - improvement are in our genes.

But the modern reaction to the danger of competition is an over-reaction. It seeks not just to modify competition but to banish it altogether. That desire is seen in the modern emphasis on “equality.” There is a sense in which equality is the opposite of competition. The idea of equality underlies socialism, multiculturalism, open borders, diversity, inclusion, equity, and the new religion of political correctness. It is the foundation stone of the modern preferred narrative.

But equality is not in the blueprint of nature; it is neither attainable nor desirable. It is a theoretical concept inimical to change – for any state of theoretical equality could not change without creating inequality – thus destroying itself.

Competition -- the antithesis of equality -- is consistent with change and progress. Competition leads to inequality – it involves a constant replacement of one thing with something that functions better. It is the heartbeat of achievement and success – it echoes the very pulse of life itself.

Imagine – if you can – a world of equality where competition was denied. The outcome of every football game would be known in advance – a tie. There would be no winners or losers. There would be no horse races or stock markets. Prices would be the same everywhere. Nothing new could be built. No new product could ever appear. In fact – nothing could change at all – because “equality” would be destroyed. The theoretical world of “equality” could only exist in stasis. Death is another word for it.


But those who advocate for “equity” do not see the ultimate consequence of banning competition. They wrap themselves in a mantle of virtue – they think that competition is both evil and unnecessary.

A case in point is the Cherry Creek School District in Colorado: they have recently announced that they will be getting rid of valedictorians and class rankings. The valedictorian, of course, represents the best performer in a class. These terrible hierarchical practices encourage the idea that “learning is a competition.” The District also maintains that “all students can learn at a high level.”

Cherry Creek School District staffers have also sent a letter to families characterized as a “Declaration of Excellence.”

The idea seems to be that “excellence” can arise naturally, without competition.

At first glance – that may appear to be true. Is an author primarily motivated by competition? Is a composer trying to outdo a contemporary rival? Was Einstein trying to put Newton in the shade?

Perhaps not. But creative people are trying, in a sense, to compete against their environment. There is a void to be filled with their creative ideas. They are trying to create something new and different to the best of their capacity. They may not be playing soccer – but they are playing golf. They are internalizing the competitive spirit.

Generally speaking, when they produce something they think to be worthy, they do not lock it in a vault. They publish it to gain recognition and, usually, reward.

Thus, while the idea of competition is not immediately evident, it is still there. The world is seen, at its core – as a competitive place. People attempt to function at their best – because that is how societies and living creatures operate. The real world has a harsh law: adapt or die. The move to “equity” attempts to defy that reality. It says – essentially – don’t worry – be happy. Don’t worry, don’t compete – just sit there.

That is a recipe for obsolescence and defeat.

It is not inconsistent that The Cherry Creek School District also says “all students can learn at a high level.” That is not true. There is hierarchy in abilities – including the ability to learn – just as there is in everything else. But to deny that hierarchy is perfectly consistent with the idea of “equality.” The optimistic belief in equal abilities is often expressed in the phrase: “no child left behind.” It’s a wonderful image. Here is the straggling group of little children, toddling down the necessary path. But we will not let anyone straggle too far. We will go back to the very last toddler, and make sure he does not get lost in the woods which menace, darkly, by the roadside. He will not be left behind.

We do enjoy being logical rather than sentimental. If no child is to be left behind – the logical implication is that no child can forge ahead. His forging necessarily leaves the others behind.

The aim of the egalitarians is not to have a group of runners and stragglers. It is a group of equals abreast along the road. No one can be in advance. No one can lag. They are all the same. The necessary pace is that of the slowest child.

That, of course, is why the focus on equality invariably leads to mediocrity. Mediocrity leads to incompetence. Incompetence leads to irrelevancy. Irrelevancy leads to nothingness.

The Final Irony

We have spent a long time pointing out that “equality” is both unattainable and undesirable. The irony is that everyone knows this already. Everyone knows that people have varying talents and abilities, and that some things work better than others. Everyone who makes a choice is refuting the principle of “equality” – because to make a choice is to say that one thing is better than another.

So – what gives?

“Equality” sounds really good. It is in the Declaration of Independence, after all, and it was part of the rallying cry of the French Revolution. It is – perhaps – like “heaven” or “Nirvana” – or a unicorn farm -- or “happily ever after.” It’s the kind of thing you say to conjure up a comfy cloud of perpetual ease and carefree bliss.

It has nothing to do with reality. Its rise to prominence in the modern era is a manifestation of the new religion – political correctness. That religion ignores facts and puts feelings first. Its primary function is to “sentimentalize” reality. The real world is one of hierarchy, competition, and survival. The sentimental world is one of “equality,” dysfunction, and oblivion.

Increasingly, it appears, school and universities are aiming for oblivion rather than survival. Success in that ambition seems assured.



Insanities of the Age

Affirmative Action        (March 27, 2022)

If you don't understand the cause of the problem -- your solution will become part of it. (Observation #737)

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Lao Tzu

“Respect is more easily obtained by achievement than compelled by complaint.” Observation # 2043)

In the attempt to remedy group inequities -- affirmative action – the favouring of less successful groups -- and the necessary concomitant – the penalizing of successful groups -- has become seen as a virtuous solution. What could be more virtuous than lifting up the depressed and pushing down the successful? Everyone will be in a happy egalitarian middle.

The inherent difficulty with attractive, feel-good solutions is that they are often implemented with an insufficient understanding of the problem. For example – if there is a short term food shortage for the man in Lao Tzu’s famous aphorism – perhaps providing a free fish is the correct remedy. But if there is a more profound problem of lack of skill or ignorance – that remedy will falter over time– since it requires a circumstance of permanent charity, dependence, and incapacity. It is far better to teach the man to fish so that he can solve his own problems, avoid dependence, and increase his skills and confidence.

We would argue that this is exactly the case with affirmative action. It assumes that the less successful group is fundamentally the same as the more successful group. The problem is one of perception – “racism” – and a quick temporary boost of the less successful will achieve the balm of “equity.”

But suppose the problem is more profound? Suppose the less successful group lacks certain skills and attitudes that may take decades to acquire? In that case, the quick fix is not going to work. Indeed, it may simply add to the problem.

Let us consider a few examples, to see whether inequities are entirely the result of perception and prejudice – or whether there are other factors at play.

1. Prejudice against Afro-Americans.

There is no doubt that after slavery was abolished, there was a terrible prejudice against Afro-Americans. It was simply reflexive, and often horrifically cruel. Considerable progress has been made – but some degree of reflexive racism still remains. Whether it is the most important factor in the relative lack of success in some areas of endeavour, is worth examining.

When it was possible to say: “ I have never seen an Afro -American as a baseball player, a movie star, a judge, or as an actor in a TV commercial” – it could be argued that affirmative action is a worthwhile policy –it will help to show that such circumstances do not, actually, threaten the unfolding of the universe. It is a temporary measure to shock people out of long-held irrational prejudices. But once the jolt has been administered – and people accept that Afro-Americans are competent and talented, there is a question as to whether continued promotion is necessary or even advisable. By promoting some people because of their membership in a particular group, those who are not in that favoured group are denied opportunity. In the search for “equity,” the concept of equality of opportunity is denied.

While admitting that reflexive prejudice plays a part in disadvantaging some group over others, it would seem careless to omit a consideration of the rôle of cultural dissonance. If it is a large factor in “unequal” outcomes – then the remedy of affirmative action is akin to providing free fish – it is not going to address the problem of skills, attitudes, and cultural differences.

2. Some Hard Truths about Minorities and Majorities.

In an age of egalitarian optimism, hard truths about hierarchical differences are not popular. We know that what we are about to say will be rejected as racist, mean, unfeeling, cruel, and downright evil. The more cherished the illusion, the more reviled is the teller of truth.

But here goes. A majority culture is, by definition, that accepted and endorsed by a majority of citizens. While it may be pleasant to imagine that a minority culture will be equally respected, admired, and praised -- human beings do not function that way. We are tribal creatures, and there is a natural prejudice of the herd. If a minority culture has a better idea about something, it may not be as immediately recognized as logic would suggest. It will have to stick to its guns, toot its horn, and beat the drum of superiority until, gradually, the truth is recognized. If it has demonstrably worse ideas about a lot of things, sweetness and light will not be the natural outcome. The bad ideas will only serve to legitimize any existing prejudice.

No culture is monolithic, of course, and many cultural differences are superficial. But some differences are fundamental. The best example is shown by the religious belief that there should be laws against blasphemy, and that the proper principles of government are to be found in religious texts. Such beliefs are incompatible with the idea of freedom of speech and the idea that government should be guided by the will of the people.

But less fundamental differences may still be problematic. If an indigenous minority decides that it wishes to pursue a traditional lifestyle in remote locations, far from any modern economic opportunity, it is not legitimate to complain about the lack of indigenous neurosurgeons, chief executive officers, or real estate moguls. We do not think, in fact, such complaints are often made – but we would not be at all surprised to hear them – quite soon -- from the equity-obsessed.

Similarly, if a significant contingent of Afro-Americans shows little interest in education, is not inventive and entrepreneurial, sees no problem with fatherless families, adopts a divisive patois, and is significantly more involved in crime,* those minority views are unlikely to gain much respect.

It should be noted, of course, that there are many Afro-Americans who succeed in spectacular fashion. But – almost by definition – that means they have adopted the cultural values of the mainstream.

The idea that a “resistant” segment of Afro-American culture can have wonderful success in an Anglo-American culture with significantly different priorities needs careful examination. To use a current example – the promotion of judges to the Supreme Court on the basis of gender and race – while ignoring significant cultural dissonances – is the perfect example of affirmative action. But a happy ending seems unlikely.

It is worth noting that those who are chosen based on membership in a group will be subject to extra scrutiny. There will always be the tendency to say that their “success” was not based on competence – but on a policy – a policy designed to ignore competence, and show “equity.”

Indeed, the fact that no sunset clause has ever been suggested for affirmative action policies is a profound indictment of the rationale. What such indefinite quota systems proclaim is that some groups are so inferior that they can never compete: they must be coddled forever in order to give the appearance of “equal” competence. It’s a considerable stigma for any recipient to bear.

We recognize that some may argue that cultural dissonance and failure is evidence of prior oppression. We are skeptical of that argument. The world is a hard, competitive place. Chinese labourers who worked on the railways in the 19th century, suffered much discrimination. They did not decline into indigenous irrelevancy or Afro-American fracturing. They opened laundries and restaurants. They were culturally resilient.

If cultural dissonance is, in fact, a major cause of the lack of Afro-American success, then affirmative action – which does nothing to alter culture – is not the best solution. It is like a constant supplying of fish to the hungry. It is important to recognize that “success” regardless of rationale --will be defined by the majority. To gain that success, you need the cultural tools of the majority. You have to learn how to get your own fish. A fish handout is a papering over of a more fundamental problem.

3. A Minor but perhaps Instructive Diversion: The Backward Class

Some years ago, we saw a documentary called “The Backward Class.”** It depicted the struggles of a graduating class at Shanti Bhavan – a free school in Bangalore, India. The school was founded by Dr. Abraham George, an Indian- American businessman. The intent is to provide a free education to Dalits students, with the understanding that they will, upon graduation and employment, return a portion of their salaries to their families and communities to help break a cycle of poverty and discrimination.

The Dalits – formerly known as untouchables – are victims of the caste system which discriminates against them entirely because of an accident of birth.

With untouchables, we can see the same sort of mix of reflexive and cultural discrimination at play as with Afro-Americans. Because they are “untouchable” by birth and tradition -- they are also extremely poor and culturally deprived.

The solution proposed by the school is not that of affirmative action – the promotion of group members into fields of employment which have never been open to them before. It recognizes the more fundamental problem of cultural dissonance. It, perhaps, gives a temporary fish – but only to allow the time for the teaching of fishing skills. They do not reject the cultural environment in which they are trying to succeed – rather they embrace it. They acquire knowledge in order to compete at existing institutions of higher education. They do not seek immediate “equity” – but rather equality of opportunity. By accepting values of the majority, they aim to achieve the success which their natural talents justify in the environment in which they live.

Many Afro-Americans have succeeded by accepting the cultural values of the majority. If a significant subset of Afro-Americans think that they will succeed in the majority culture by rejecting it, they might wish to consider the inherent logical deficit in that position. They might wish to consider the approach suggested by the Shanti Bhavan School.

4. A special case.

The Rôle of Women in Society.

There is little doubt that women have traditionally been victims of irrational prejudice and denied opportunities in society. It was widely believed that women were incapable of certain kinds of intellectual activity, and they have had an uphill battle in becoming authors, scientists, politicians, and executives. It was a huge struggle just to get the right to vote. Most of this – as history has shown -- has been simply a matter of prejudice. Women have been very successful in most fields. There can hardly be much opposition to the idea that women should have the opportunity to follow any path or career that interests them. Equality of opportunity can never be perfect – but the principle that no one should be denied entry into a field of endeavour on grounds that have nothing to do with competence or suitability seems a sound one.

However, the modern sentiment has gone beyond the notion of providing equality of opportunity and now insists on equality of result – or “equity” as it is now called. Thus we have had Mr. Trudeau insist on having a gender-equal cabinet. There is much lamentation about the paucity of women in corporate boardrooms -- or as real-estate moguls, or captains of industry. We hope we will be forgiven for pointing out that the outrage is somewhat selective: that there is no call for equal numbers of female auto mechanics, garbage collectors, roofers, or stevedores.

This – do we dare call it an unequal balance of demands? – suggests that calls for equity are somewhat disingenuous. We have long held that it is a general principle that most people who seek “equality” are not entirely truthful. They seek improvement – and if they should gain a temporary “equality” in some regard – they would seek further improvement – even if that should destroy the “equality” they claim to cherish.

We will no doubt be accused of terminal misogyny when we suggest that women are no different from men in this regard. We accept the obvious penalty --we can only hope the method of execution will be quick and painless.

But we must to return to our question: is “equity” for women a desirable aim – and is affirmative action the proper policy to achieve it?

We think the answer is “no” in both cases. We say that because the assumption behind the call for “equity” is that men and women have exactly the same interests, aptitudes, and capabilities. Only on that basis*** would equality of result seem reasonable. That does not appear to be the case. While some particular women may thrive in the competitive climbing of corporate ladders – it appears that most do not have that ambition. Nor, in fact, do women – generally – complain about thwarted ambitions to become auto mechanics, roofers, or garbage collectors. In view of the fact that women – by and large – seem drawn to some activities, and men to different ones – there seems little point in engineering equal representation in every field of endeavour.

We think this matter of gender dissonance is so obvious and fundamental that anyone who doubts that men and women have – in general – different interests and physical capabilities should immediately schedule an appointment with their current psychiatrist or therapist. Such serious denials of reality – left unchecked – may become dangerous.

For those who have inadequate psychiatrists or bad therapists – we suggest you – and they – look up an experiment --which involved giving a troop of monkeys dolls and trucks -- found the female monkeys preferred the dolls, the male monkeys chose the trucks.**** Until a reasonable case can be made for the malign effect of institutional primate inflexibility – the ossification of monkey business – we must conclude that these results do not reflect a “social construct" – but biology.

Thus, we must conclude that women should have – as much as is humanly possible – the freedom to pursue any path of endeavour they wish. That will doubtless result in a number of Madame Curies, Eleanor Roosevelts, and Margaret Thatchers. We doubt that it will lead to equal representation in politics, real estate moguldom, or automobile repair. If it does – that’s fine.

But to engineer “equity” is to attempt to make unequal inputs result in equal outcomes. It is worth remembering Aristotle’s definition: “The worst form of inequality to try to make unequal things equal.”

5. Conclusion

We must conclude that affirmative action has a limited value in providing a jolt to dispel long-held prejudices. The assumption is, initially, that the problem is prejudice -- which can be remedied by the giving of a short term fish of favouritism. When that fails to work, it is assumed that only more time is needed. A popular saying – incorrectly attributed to Einstein – defines insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The results, in fact, are not benign. To extend affirmative action indefinitely – is to establish and entrench a discrimination remarkably like the one it pretends to correct. It destroys equality of opportunity in order to achieve equality of result. It assumes that the favoured group is, actually, inferior – and requires perpetual artificial aid. It thus subverts the respect it aims to give. It ensures that the favoured are viewed with suspicion. Their competence is, reasonably, mistrusted.

However, if the true problem of inequalities is – primarily – a matter of cultural dissonance – or different interests and ambitions -- affirmative action may be described as a misunderstanding of the fundamental problem. It applies a solution which does not remedy, but compounds.

If the disparities among groups is largely a problem of cultural dissonance, a fishing course is the only long-term reasonable remedy. A man who thinks that getting free fish is a solution to his problem – that he can ignore fishing rods, lures, and fish behaviour – will not get the catch he thinks is his due.

People do not like to say that. They don’t want to hurt peoples’ feelings.

But the truth is often impolite.

* In 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery. (Wikipedia)


***There is one other: that women are, in fact, different – they have a special viewpoint which, unable to get recognition on the basis of its merits, must be artificially supported. That special viewpoint is to be encouraged only in certain special circumstances – in positions of power and influence. It may safely be disregarded in humble and lowly occupations.




Drug Independence  (March 19, 2022)

We cannot help but note the most recent development in the marketing of drugs on television.
The drug is named, but not explained.

Perhaps the drug manufacturers became aware of the downside of heralding the purported function of their most recent concoctions. It appears that, if a drug is marketed to stop hair loss, reduce belly fat, or halt the irreversible cognitive decline associated with watching TV commercials, there is a requirement to list the side effects.

Now, of course, every drug has side effects – but some effects are more unpleasant and dangerous than others. Listing the side effects of a remedy invites a rough and ready cost/benefit analysis: if the drug that stops hair loss may cause nausea, vomiting and permanent facial pink spots, baldness acquires a hitherto unsuspected allure.

And if the belly fat disappears, taking with it a large chunk of libido, perhaps bigger pants and a new belt will be seen as the more practical solution.

Sometimes the list of side effects is so alarming that it is pretty clear that only someone with a terminal disease wishing to make it to the holiday season, or a significant birthday ending in a zero, would be at all interested.

Whether the new approach is, indeed, an attempt to avoid the listing of side effects -- we do not know. But we admit we have been  intrigued by the new, coy, seductiveness.

Instead of hailing the new drug, Luxlockadebub, as the cure for hair loss, we see a thingamabubble of random characters, pretending that Luxlockadebub is all the rage. “My friend takes it,” burbles one. Another chimes in that his sisters, cousins, and aunts are all enthusiastic devotees. Someone else – as if he had discovered a gold mine in his backyard – trumpets his happy adherence to the Luxlockadebub regimen. As a final tease – someone not in the know -- asks -- “What is Luxlockabub?”

In another ad, a character turns away from her discussion of Rotundabub to the viewing audience: “You (poor sod) probably don’t know about Rotundabub. But your doctor does.” The implication is that your ignorance is shameful; If you will just ask your doctor about Rotundabub, you may avoid the bigger pants and the new belt, and live svelte and happy -- ever after.

We say we have been intrigued by the new, coy seductiveness. But we have not been seduced. When the aim is so clearly to send us rushing to Mr. Google for elucidation, it is a matter of pride to resist. We suspect that Mr. Google will be reluctant to advise us of the side effects, and we will be unable to conduct our cost/benefit analysis.

For all we know, Luxlockadebub and Rotundabub will put us on the path to Nirvana. But we doubt it. We suspect that the side-effects are horrors deemed too corrosive for delicate television circuitry,  too daunting for public exposure, and too counterproductive in terms of drug sales.

We prefer to cherish our drug independence.


Trudeau, the Tin-Pot        (March 4, 2022)

The Emergencies Act has been withdrawn. Mr. Trudeau made the announcement on the afternoon of February 23.

The Senate was debating its approval in anticipation of a vote the next day. When the announcement came, they stopped. The sighs of relief could be heard in Vancouver.

We can only speculate why Mr. Trudeau made his decision. Knowing Mr. Trudeau as we do, we think it unlikely that he had sober second thoughts about his draconian approach to the truckers’ protest. We are inclined to think he had some inkling that the Senate was insufficiently pliable, incorrectly inked, and possibly unable to land in the designated square marked “Yes, Boss!”

Such an outcome was not to be contemplated. It is better to hang up the axe, than have it yanked away in a scuffle, with the potential for slicing wounds -- awkward, debilitating, or life-threatening.

The best suggestion that we have heard for the Senate’s hesitancy is that the members of that august body had become aware of a risk to the banking system, and feared that people would withdraw money from their bank accounts – accounts which could be frozen upon the whim of the resident dictator. Jordan Peterson, for example, made that recommendation on February 22.*

After all, who would want to invest money in a country where bank accounts are “conditional?”
If the government disapproves of your politics – that bank account is no longer under your control.

And how many ordinary citizens would be comfortable with the notion that a donation to the “wrong” cause could suddenly be declared illegal, and access to funds be denied?

No mistake should be made about the totalitarian mind-set of Trudeau and his minions.

We remember, particularly, the scarcely repressed vindictive glee – we would almost call it sadistic – as Chrystia Freeland detailed the plans to pummel the truckers into financial oblivion.

As John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms pointed out -- in a interview with Rebel News reporter Adam Soos -- the government should treat all protests equally. It is not proper to treat an indigenous protest which blocks rail lines in a kindly and indulgent manner, just because the Prime Minister wishes to signal sympathy with a designated victim group, and yet freeze the bank accounts of anyone who supports a group objecting to the principle that employment should be conditional upon vaccination with a substance for which the long-term side effects are unknown.

The case for vaccination can be made – with a conviction and urgency that varies with the threat involved. A plague with a death rate of 40% would justifya different response than a pandemic with a death rate of 1%. Under the present circumstances, compulsory vaccinations do not invite the same immediate assent as the heliocentricity of the solar system or the law of gravity. The truckers can hardly be considered evil incarnate for their objection to vaccine requirements even as restrictions are everywhere being lifted.

It should be remembered that the government was anxious to placate indigenous protestors blockading rail lines in February of 2020. As the CBC reported: “From Justin Trudeau, there were no denunciations, threats or ultimatums. Instead, the prime minister called for things like patience, listening, partnership, collaboration and trust.”**

But Mr. Trudeau immediately classified the truckers as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable opinions”– and smeared them with emotive and unfounded terms such as “racist,” “misogynist” and “science deniers.” He refused to speak with them.

The criminality of protest seems to depend, not upon actions and effects, but on the motivations of the protestors, and, in particular, Mr. Trudeau's personal view of them.

Nor should we forget that Mr. Trudeau admired China’s “basic dictatorship.” He also praised Fidel Castro as a “legendary leader” who “served his people” for nearly fifty years. It takes a certain mind-set to see Castro in the warm, hazy glow of socialist good intentions, while ignoring oppressive results.

Mr. Trudeau’s ethical lapses are well known. He was found in breach of ethics rules in his attempt to protect SNC Lavalin. He claimed the Aga Khan was a close family friend. He failed to recuse himself in the decision to award a contract – without competitive bids -- to the WE charity -- an organization with which he had a personal connection. He thought protecting the feelings of immigrants was more important than condemning honour killings as barbaric.

The needle in his moral compass seems permanently fixed in the direction of self-interest.

It does not seem unreasonable to conclude that, like Louis XIV, Mr. Trudeau thinks “L’état, c’est moi.”

In his mind, laws and ethical conventions are just for the little people.




The Trudeau Disaster   (February 19, 2022)

The violence in Ottawa has begun. The Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa is being disbanded, with horses charging and windows smashed. The violence, of course, is being committed by the police.

The parliament of Canada has prudently crept away. Instead of debating the justification for invoking the Emergencies Act, the debate has been suspended so that implementation can be carried out. The principle adopted, in the tradition of desperados, is to shoot first, and worry about the legal niceties later.

There will be some legal niceties – some court challenges have been initiated. Decisions about the legality of banks’ freezing of funds and seizing of assets will be rendered after those events have taken place. It is difficult to know whether the obvious glee of Chrystia Freeland and David Lametti in pursuing these policies and rejecting the “Trumpian” sentiment which they have alleged is at the root of Canadian discontent, may be later somewhat modified.

It strikes us that the allegations are of a piece with Mr. Trudeau’s classification of protestors as racists, misogynists, Nazis, and others whose opinions should not be tolerated.

Oh, for the days of Black Lives Matter and indigenous protests! Certain victim groups are on the approved list, and may be warmed with hot soup, nourished with freshly baked cookies. They will be negotiated with, indulged, reassured, and coddled.

But truckers – “ordinary people” – not of the elite one might encounter at your average World Economic Forum shindig – are nowhere to be found in the Registry of Verified Victims.

Further, they have the temerity to seek “freedom” – the four-letter word at the top of every central planner’s taboo list. How are we ever going to get people to own nothing, but suffer deleriums of happiness if they want freedom too! It is a concept not to be countenanced.

It appears to us that, after two years of vaccines, mandates, and lockdowns, the veneer of the virus narrative has begun to wear thin.

Yes, we took the vaccines and lockdowns in good faith. We just had to flatten the curve for a few weeks, and the Nirvana of Normality would come into view. We ignored Geert Vanden Bossche – with a name like that– who would pay any attention? He argued – in March of 2021 -- that mass vaccinations in a time of pandemic were a significant error. The virus, being fond of mutation, would seek to overcome the gradually mounting resistance offered by the vaccines. Clever little devils, viruses would alter their structure, creating new variants. The vaccines would lose their efficacy. The vaccinated would be left with a virus-fighting mechanism that was no longer relevant – and their own natural immunity would be overshadowed. New vaccines would then be required – but they would suffer the same fate. The vaccine dog, chasing its virus tail, would never quite catch up.

We now have Pfizer admitting that two shots are no good against Omicron – but holding out the hope that a third – while not preventing infection – will moderate symptoms. Fourth shots have been given in Israel – and the prospect of quarterly top-ups does not seem entirely absurd.

Shades of Geert Vanden Bossche! All his predictions are being confirmed.

Throughout, there has been little interest in establishing the efficacy of treatments – like hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin. Would we be imprudent to suggest that the hesitancy could have something to do with the fact that such established drugs have a profit profile that makes “skeletal” sound corpulent? Would it be cynical to think that if trials were to be conducted by drug companies, they would be beset by supply issues, the price of cucumbers, and a determination to employ the medications at the wrong time and without the recommended adjunctive prescriptions?

We know not. But – in this world – it is hard to be overly suspicious when vast amounts of hard cash are weighed in the balance with the straggled feathers of health outcomes.

The trucker convoy was the distillation of dissatisfaction with the failing narrative. If the death rate were 40% – perhaps we would clutch at the straws from that rotting haystack. But it is not. In what kind of society is it legitimate for a government to force people to take a medication whose efficacy is in doubt, and whose long-term side effects are unknown?

The convoy – the irresistible force – met the implacable object – Mr. Trudeau.

Mr. Trudeau is comfortable massaging shoulders with tyrannical idealists at the World Economic Forum, or comforting approved victims whose gratitude and loyalty is assured. But he is nervous with ordinary people wanting freedom. It’s not a word used in the crystal palace, the egalitarian collective, or the Great Reset. In fact, like most on the Left, Mr. Trudeau sees himself as on the side of the angels --a darling of the hair-worshipping masses. A popular movement directed against him is not actually possible. Thus, his first instinct was to deny the popularity the movement represented.

They were a “fringe minority” of malcontents. Just to be safe, he trotted out the defamatory standbys. They were racists, misogynists and Nazis. It was Mr. Lametti who came up with terrorists and Trumpers. Good Lord! It’s a surprise they did not accuse the truckers of reading Breitbart News. That might have turned the tide and made the Emergencies Act unnecessary!

In the end, of course, he invoked the Emergencies Act. For him, it was an emergency. There was evidence that people were less than enamoured of his hair, and wanted to get rid of vaccine mandates. They should, of course, stop talking about issues, and focus on his hair. But the hair failed him. It was what was underneath that seemed to count. Impossible!

Mr. Trudeau – before he was elected – said that he admired China’s “basic dictatorship.” Later, he praised Castro as a “legendary leader who served his people for almost half a century.”

As we get tired – almost – of saying – Mr. Trudeau was outraged that honour killings should be termed “barbaric” – because the only people who might object – those who thought they were normal – might be offended. Mr. Trudeau’s reflexive response was to protect the feelings of immigrants with unsuitable values – rather than condemn murder.
His history of ethical violations is well-known –we need not list them here.

We simply wish to make the point that with someone so intellectually incompetent and morally bankrupt running the show – ticket sales are unlikely to remain robust. Mr. Trudeau has declared an emergency based on his disagreement with the aims of the protestors – without waiting for a few days for the approval of parliament. How, then, is Canada different from the legendary “Banana Republic?”

At this point, the courts are the last resort for sanity. If they fail, Canada – as a credible democracy – is lost.



Insanities of the Age     ( January 28, 2022)

4. Open Borders and Redistribution of Wealth

The world is a very unequal place. Some countries prosper through a combination of natural advantages and cultures oriented to the creation of wealth. Others, lacking helpful geography or cultural sophistication, lag behind.

Egalitarians, disturbed that human beings should suffer because of an accident of birth, conclude that people should be able to travel freely to the most successful countries from those less favoured. Alternatively, they see the solution as a transfer of wealth from the haves to the have-nots.

Unfortunately, while such ideas may be lauded for their compassion and empathy, they tend to founder in the  complications of execution.

Perhaps – in the simpler days before social programs became common in developed countries – a better argument could have been made for unlimited immigration. Come one – come all. If you can survive – you have passed the test. If you cannot survive – try somewhere else. But that Darwinian approach is not appropriate in developed countries. Ours is a world of welfare, unemployment insurance, shelters, food stamps, and government-supported health care systems. Immigrants enter a world of benign safety nets.

Again, in the days before our present enlightenment, immigrants encountered a kind of tribal prejudice -- unpleasant --but a primitive means of encouraging conformity. Today, it is considered a terrible crime to criticize the culture of another. Mr. Trudeau, we remember, thought it an outrage that honour killings be termed “barbaric.” In our darker moments, we wonder that if they were conducted without too much fuss, he would be discreetly silent.

Thus, unlimited immigration, while superficially attractive, is not practical. The successful countries would run out of resources to provide for those who moved primarily to raise their standard of living with "free" stuff. With no attempt to limit immigration to those likely to adapt and function successfully in an advanced economy, there is a risk that the existing, successful culture will be eroded. There may be greater equality – to be sure – but it may be -- in Churchill's phrase -- “an equality of misery.”

We like to compare the problem to a sea of ships and lifeboats – all with varying degrees of seaworthiness, speed, and capacity. When a great ship founders on an ice-berg – the passengers are thrown into the sea. They swim to the nearest lifeboat. But it may already be overburdened. If compassion rules, all the desperate swimmers will be brought on board – but the boat will sink. If practicality rules – only so many as can be accommodated will be allowed on board. The rejection of the desperate is cruel – but necessary. We live in an age which likes to believe that reality can accommodate limitless compassion – but that would appear to be a triumph of feel-goodery.

The second solution to global inequality is wealth distribution. Even now, we understand, the World Economic Forum is in possession of a report which advocates a permanent tax on the rich so that the funds can lift millions out of poverty.

We think the name should be changed to the World Feel-Good Forum.

Unfortunately, giving money to poor people may provide a temporary benefit – but does nothing to solve the underlying problem. One of our favourite observations reads thus: If you do not understand the cause of a problem, your solution will become part of it. While it is true that geography plays a rôle in economic success – you can have an abundance of natural resources – but if you lack the cultural heft to make use of them – poverty will be unaffected.

There is a saying attributed to the legendary Chinese philosopher. Lao Tzu: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

If the World Feel-Good Forum believes that wealth redistribution – taking money from those that have and giving it to those who have not – will cure poverty – they are wrong. If they imagine that the money will be used to alter culture – they may have a point. A successful culture requires stability, institutional structures, technology, freedom – and a spirit of initiative. If money is used to change culture – there is at least a chance. We would note, however, that human beings are tribal in nature. Cultures are not changed like a pair of shoes.

The problem of reducing severe inequality is not an easy one to solve. There are no magic wands. The fact is that life is, in its essence, hierarchical. We are the products of an evolutionary system which is cruel, ruthless, and competitive. Societies are built, in part, on a softening of the Darwinian realities. Yet the purpose of that compromise between competition and co-operation is still, at its core, a strategy for competitive tribal advantage. Those who think the world can be transformed into a compassionate, egalitarian Nirvana, are unthinking optimists.

We have summed up the problem of “justice” as the opposition between the justice of function and the justice of being. The justice of function rewards strength, speed, determination, and cunning. It follows the Law of the Jungle – and must be modified for civilization to exist. The justice of being is at the opposite extreme – it holds that all should be rewarded equally – not for any competence of function – but just for “being” there. But that won’t work either. It is important to recognize that incompetence leads to failure. The proposition that 2 +2 = whatever your skin colour determines, is a dangerous lie.

The answer to “social justice” lies between the two extremes. But there is no treasure map with a convenient X marked – just fifty paces north of the big boulder.

Open borders -- so popular now in the United States -- and wealth distribution -- currently being discussed at the Feel-Good Forum -- are pleasant obfuscations based on the idea of the justice of being -- which serve only to avoid an examination of the cultural causes of global inequalities.

There are practical limits to immigration; funding the unproductive rewards inefficiency.

What is needed is a greater emphasis on the justice of function: what measures are needed to improve the competence of the less successful?



Insanities of the Age (January 16, 2022)

3. Multiculturalism

We imagine that multiculturalism is an idealistic response to the nationalistic wars of the last century. Mankind has always engaged in war – but technology has made wars more horrifying and deadly – and nuclear weapons threaten the survival of our species.

It does seem like a good idea to see if – instead of engaging in tribal warfare -- we can’t all just get along. The vision appears to be one of mutual and infinite tolerance. It is quite consistent with the religion of our times – political correctness – which holds that the protection of feelings is the primary virtue. If no one has hurt feelings, then why would conflict ever be necessary?

Once again – in the desire for multiculturalism – we should note the tell-tale marker of “equality” which underlies most of the follies of our age. The idea seems to be that infinite tolerance is possible because, underneath, all human beings are the same. We are all struggling to get by – we all have the same hopes and fears. We all want food and shelter, financial security, good health, freedom, and the best possible future for our children and grandchildren.

Alas, this analysis has much truth in its favour – but it sees humanity at a very simple, basic level – it ignores the facts of cultural complexity. Some cultures work relatively well in providing health care, education, an effective legal system, technological expertise, a climate beneficial to enterprise and innovation, scientific discovery, opportunities for individual self-fulfillment, and both freedom of speech and freedom from fear.

Others are much less successful at providing these things. Cultures are not equal! We realize that this statement is considered, by many, to be a horrendous blasphemy. We don’t care. We will admit to our prejudicial presumptions. We won’t list them all – just enough to indicate our reasoning.

So here are some assumptions behind our sacrilege. We think it is better – usually – to be alive than rather dead – to be fed rather than hungry – to be sheltered rather than exposed – to be healthy rather than sick – to have more opportunities rather than fewer – to have more freedom of speech rather than less – to be less fearful rather than more terrified.

Those who object to those basic assumptions will not, of course, agree with our conclusions. We wish them every happiness crouched in the shade of that big rock, waiting for the next unwary rabbit, while their relatives, not too far away, are dying of fever, starvation, and technological deficit.

Once the terrible blasphemy has been uttered, and the universe has given scarcely a wobble -- it seems clear that cultural complexity destroys the simplistic egalitarian argument.

Multiculturalism is based on the assumption that all cultures are pretty much the same. They are completely compatible – no cultural value is antithetical to any other.

We are fond of pointing out the folly of that assumption. There is no common ground between the idea of laws against blasphemy, and the notion of freedom of speech; between the idea that religion should dictate the operation of government, and the opinion that government should be guided by the will of the people; between the idea that killings are an excellent mechanism for preserving family honour, and the critical stance that they represent bloody murder.

Naturally, the disparities among cultures are not always as great. But the idea that countries can withstand large influxes of those with significant cultural differences is naive. Further, the idea that numbers are irrelevant in exposing cultural differences ignores the realities of human societies – which are tribal in nature.

To illustrate this point – imagine that you emigrate to Australovenia -- a large hypothetical country west of Easter Island -- and discover that there are no other speakers of English in that entire land. Nor, indeed, is there any evidence of Big Macs, Mountain Dew, or chocolate bars. Your particular religion – based on Druidism with a bit of Mayan human sacrifice thrown in for excitement – is unheard of and nowhere observed. (Probably a good thing.)

Your adaptation will be remarkably swift. You will gain a working knowledge of Australovenian within weeks. Do the Australovenians wear red shorts in the morning, and switch to blue shorts for the afternoon? That will become your own devoted habit. Does their religion require you to worship the Great God Bigfoot? You will hasten to observe the ritual sacrificing of a pair of size twelve shoes at each sacred solstice ceremony.

But now -- imagine how different things would be if you had encountered a well-established cohort of ex-patriots – complete with your favourite retail establishments. You would eat at McDonald’s, and buy your shoes at the nearby Walmart. The idea of sacrificing a pair of size twelves would be a constant source of amusement. And as for red and blue shorts – well the Australovenians are clearly mad! And their language is needlessly difficult – and not really necessary anyway. If the Australovenians want your business – they should learn to speak English, just like normal people!

Assimilation is -- to a large degree -- a function of necessity. Why do as the Romans do, if they don't really care? Far better that they adopt your customs. It's a lot more convenient.

It is worthwhile noting that “multiculturalism” – like many other buzzwords in our culture – serves – perhaps primarily – to signal virtue. If you are in favour of multiculturalism, you are inherently virtuous. You believe in tolerance, understanding and – of course – equality. Your credentials for correct thinking and superior compassion are immediately proclaimed.

But it’s an odd thing. When asked whether they approve of cannibalism, slavery, human sacrifice to the Gods, or honour killings -- multiculturalists will usually say they don’t. They don’t actually approve of all cultural practices. When push comes to shove, they are remarkably intolerant. They are, in fact – just like everybody else.

But hey – the “virtue” is there for the proclaiming. No thinking required.

Like so many inordinately fond of signalling virtue – multiculturalists want to appear virtuous, but are not especially concerned with discovering where real, practical virtue actually lies. That would be a bit awkward.

Hint: it is not in “universal tolerance.” The virtue of tolerance lies in its direction – tolerating honour killings is not virtuous. To claim to be in favour of multiculturalism is not really an indicator of virtue. Stupidity and hypocrisy – perhaps. But not virtue.

It should not be necessary to add – but it probably is – that immigration is not a bad thing. But immigration should be based on a realistic assessment of the human condition. The danger lies in ignoring two aspects of reality. First, large numbers of immigrants with different cultural backgrounds will, quite naturally, resist change. And second, that resistance to change runs the risk of fracturing society. “Multiculturalism” is not realistic. Diversity does not lead to strength – as our politicians are so desperate to have us believe -- but has the potential for division and chaos.

“Multiculturalism” – as wonderful as it sounds – is an ideal inconsistent with the realities of human social constructs. To believe otherwise is to value hope above logic – and increasingly – experience.


Insanities of the Age     (January 13, 2022)

2. Gender is determined by Psychology rather than Biology

We have little doubt that some people have a profound sense that their true gender differs from that indicated by biology – the anatomical elements that are associated with reproduction. We think this an unfortunate condition – but we understand that no one wants to suffer from an unfortunate condition – everyone wants to feel special and blessed.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that a pro-transgender lobby group has arisen, has taken note of one of the chief dogmas of political correctness -- that feelings are more important than facts – and has applied it to a situation which might otherwise be classified as “unfortunate.” The solution – simple, quick, and “religiously” sanctioned – is to declare that error rests in the facts. The real truth of gender is not in biological function – but in perception. If there is a misfortune at all, it is a glitch in the facts – the mysterious workings of some ancient and apparently alien process -- not a glitch in the mind – which has an unerring view of the true nature of things.

While this is perhaps understandable, and has, perhaps, some use as a private solace – it has also been decided that everyone else should adopt the same view. And that requires a complete upending of the notion that biology is a marker of gender. It requires – apparently – that people give up that common sense perception – which works well for the vast majority of human beings. Indeed, we suspect that if a magic potion were developed which could alter a perception of gender so that it accorded with biology – it would be rejected as terrible and unwarranted interference with the truth.


We should note that the claim that perception trumps facts is rooted, in a roundabout way, in the notion of equality. There is an attempt to imply that a “woman” who is biologically a male is “just the same as” a woman who is biologically female. But this a bucket of codswallop which challenges the most enthusiastic esophagus. That first “woman” cannot give birth – no matter how earnest and heartfelt her desire to do so. Further, she will retain a strength which will give her an unfair advantage in gender specific athletic competitions.

There is wonderful joke --a famous preacher – leaving the stage – let fall a page of his notes. A devoted follower, anxious to see what was on the sheet, saw an outline of the sermon and an annotation in the margin: “Argument weak here – yell like hell.”

Thus it is that the transgender lobby has also pushed for an abandonment of traditional terms such as “mother,” and “son.” Why? Well – because they refer to biological function – and any reference to biological function is unwelcome in a brave new world in which it has been deemed irrelevant.

We conclude that the approach of the transgender lobby is Orwellian. In the Oceania of 1984, history was altered and language changed so that no one could have a perception of established truth – or any sense of permanence. People were expected to believe that freedom was slavery, and war was peace. The transgender lobby requires us to reject our historical definitions, to accept logical absurdities such as “not all boys have penises” and to pretend that facts are malleable, uncertain – merely concepts that can be changed at the whim of Big Brother. You will see two, three, or five fingers – depending on what is required to suit the narrative of the moment.

In doing so, they preclude any sympathy that sensible people might otherwise feel.

We suggest that a re-evaluation of strategy might be useful.



Insanities of the Age   (January 9, 2022)

1. Feelings are sacrosanct

Religion seems to be a necessity for the human species. The dominant religion of western civilization – Christianity – is fading as its dogmas are challenged by discoveries of how the world actually works. The theory of evolution has struck a significant blow, and sexual mores have chafed at the impractical religious requirements concerning divorce, birth control, and sexual attraction.

But it appears that we cannot continue without a code of restrictive ideals – and a new religion is taking over. It is called political correctness. History will, no doubt, define political correctness with more accuracy than is currently possible – but some basic principles seem clear: unpleasant and awkward truths should always be avoided -- the chief virtue in society is harmony -- and feelings should be protected wherever humanly possible. Indeed we have summed up political correctness as follows: it values feelings over facts, and fiction over freedom. If there is an opposition between the truth and feelings – the truth must be disregarded. If there is an opposition between free speech and a cherished illusion – harmony must be preserved with discreet silence.

Now, a certain amount of tact helps to make the world go around. It is wise not to antagonize others needlessly. But every virtue – pursued with determination – is subject to the law of diminishing – and eventually negative – returns. This paradox is actually central to human experience – and although it has been encapsulated in well-known sayings such as “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and Mr. Pope observed – in the 18th century -- “The difference is too nice/ Where ends the virtue or begins the vice” – there is a great resistance to any practical, limiting approach to the idea of human perfectibility.

But we do think it is important to point out some of the dangers of excessive idealism. Not only is it important -- but we derive a sense of virtue – limited – of course -- with the thought that we are furthering an understanding of the human condition. We will not admit, of course, to any of that secret, illicit pleasure which, it is alleged, may come from raining on parades too showy, too noisy, and too exuberant by half.

Thus – it should be evident that feelings are a weak reed upon which to build a morality – a social contract. Feelings are variable and personal, and can be erroneous, unreliable, and silly. You may indeed think you are the King of Siam, a mathematical genius, or irresistible to members of the opposite sex – but the chance of these perceptions being correct is slim. Feelings, at some point, must be tempered by a degree of objectivity. You may feel insufficiently valued, unreasonably ignored, or deplorably victimized – but some degree of realism may modify such perceptions, and allow you to struggle on, regardless.

The concern for feelings has become so exaggerated that a whole industry has grown up around the discovery of slights – no matter how minor or unintended. The problem with these “microaggressions” as they are called – is that almost any remark – parsed with an insult-seeking magnifying glass of sufficient power – can be seen as hurtful and insulting. Did you praise the hostess’s roast beef? Why were you not equally enthusiastic about the cheese sauce on the broccoli? She will take to her bed for a week on the strength of your clear and evident insult.




It is worth noting that the emphasis on feelings ensures the death of much comedy. Humour relies upon the immediate perception of incongruity – perhaps between two meanings of a single word – between aspiration and unsuitability – between appearance and reality – between what is proclaimed and what is hidden. It is, essentially, intellectual and agnostic with respect to feelings. Very tragic circumstances preclude a humorous response; the intellectual perception defers to profound emotions. But when even the most minor possible slight to feelings is considered a social crime, the scope for humour is much reduced. Laughing at others and ourselves can give a valuable perspective – it is an aid to objectivity.

We suspect, by the way, that this aspect of political correctness – the obsession with feelings – may have had its origin in the “self-esteem” movement. Some decades ago – we are not sure exactly when – it was decided that everyone should be marvellously self-confident. The old-fashioned method of achieving confidence was through accomplishment – but this was deemed far too slow, cumbersome, and unreliable. Instead – it was assumed that esteem could be engineered, painlessly, from without – sprinkled like psychic confetti directly into the human brain with burbles of praise amid a continuum of murmuring approbations.

Indeed, at the root of the regard for feelings is the unspoken “virtue” which inspires the modern zeitgeist – the blessed balm of equality. What political correctness aims for is an equality of self-esteem. That is why feelings must never be hurt. The great virtue of the age – equality – is too much at risk. To that dangerous and deceptive God – all must be sacrificed.

We said earlier that the pursuit of virtue entailed both diminishing – and ultimately negative – returns. Indeed, the protection of feelings is not necessarily an admirable kindness. It may be a furthering of evil. Some feelings deserve to be hurt. For an extraordinary example -- consider that some years ago, Justin Trudeau – inexplicably our current Prime Minister -- was outraged that honour killings should be termed “barbaric.” Such a classification, he complained – signalling virtue before bothering to consider where it might actually lie -- might offend immigrants. Now, the only immigrants whose feelings might be hurt would be those who consider honour killings normal. If people with really bad ideas are not to have their feelings hurt – how can good ever prevail over evil?

A measure of how far the pernicious worship of feelings has spread – how deep the undermining rot of senseless feel-goodery has seeped – is shown by a recent response by Facebook and Instagram to those quoting Thomas Paine: “He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” This neatly points out one of the difficulties of putting feelings first – facts, truth, and honesty must be also-rans.

Facebook removed posts and blocked accounts, citing its policy against “false information.” Similarly, Instagram removed the quotation, claiming that it “goes against our community guidelines.”

Some community! Some guidelines!

The community is a Bedlam of the mind; the guidelines are strait jackets of the intellect.

Finally, we are pleased to introduce – herewith – a series of cartoons to illustrate the insanities of the age. Each silly idea is presented to our resident seer, Clara Voyant, by a misguided dolt who has mindlessly appropriated the follies of the age into his own impoverished view of the world. Clara Voyant – consulting her crystal ball of reality – points out – in brief – the flaws in his thinking.