AmblesideOnline

Suggested Articles/Essays (These articles reflect the AmblesideOnline Advisory's worldview. Feel free to substitute if you prefer. Preview for content; these are articles written for adults about controversial topics; articles about gender issues, in particular, should be screened.)

Diversity/Tolerance

The Downside of Diversity by Michael Jonas. 2007 the "diversity paradox" - "a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings. . . Some critics have found his prescriptions underwhelming. And in offering ideas for mitigating his findings, Putnam has drawn scorn for stepping out of the role of dispassionate researcher. "You're just supposed to tell your peers what you found," says John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "I don't expect academics to fret about these matters.""

Why We Need to Tolerate hate by Wendy Kaminer, 2012 hate laws threaten free speech": "Hate crime laws are generally sentence enhancement laws, imposing harsher sentences on crimes motivated by bias. They ensure that assaulting someone you hate because of his personality quirks is a lesser crime than assaulting someone you hate because he belongs to a particular, protected demographic group. In other words, when you're prosecuted for a bias crime, you're prosecuted for your bad thought and beliefs as well as your conduct. Once convicted of a hate crime, you may even be subject to mandatory thought reform: In Massachusetts, you're required to complete a state sponsored and designed "diversity awareness program" before being released from prison or completing probation. Deface someone's property for the wrong reasons -- bigotry or a bad attitude toward a protected group -- and your thoughts become the business of the state. "

Censorship as Tolerance by Jacob Mchangama, 2010 Censorship didn't stop Hitler: "In modern-day Europe, Spinoza's insight has not so much been forgotten as turned on its head. There is a pan-European consensus, fertilized by multiculturalism, that tolerance and peaceful coexistence require the restriction rather than the protection of freedom of speech. This has led to the mushrooming of hate-speech and so-called anti-discrimination laws that criminalize expressions characterized as 'hateful' or merely 'derogatory' toward members of religious, ethnic, national, or racial groups. . . Hitler himself was prohibited from speaking publicly in several German jurisdictions in 1925. None of this prevented Streicher from increasing the circulation of Der Sturmer, or Hitler from assuming power. The trials and bans merely gave them publicity, with Streicher and Hitler cunningly casting themselves as victims. Perhaps even more important, when the Nazis swept to power in 1933, they abolished freedom of expression. Nazi propaganda became official truth that could not be opposed, ridiculed, or challenged with dissenting views or new information. Such a monopoly on 'truth' is impossible in a society with unfettered freedom of expression, where all information and viewpoints are subject to intense public debate."

Feminism/Women's issues

What does the Bible say about feminism? "Feminism is a counterfeit solution to the real issue of the inequality of women in a sinful society. Feminism arrogates to itself the right to demand respect and equality in every aspect of life. Feminism is based in arrogance, and it is the opposite of the call to the born-again believer to be a servant. . . A believing woman, who is seeking to obey God and walk in peace and grace, should remember that she has equal access to all spiritual blessings in Christ. . . Men and women have a God-given privilege to fulfill the plan He has set for us. Rebellion against that plan and the arrogance that seeks to put self above God's Word result in very difficult consequences. We see those consequences in the destruction of the relationship between husbands and wives, the destruction of the family, and the loss of respect for human life. . . It is sad but true that artificial barriers that have no basis in God's Word have always divided humanity. There is only one race--the human race! Within that race are male and female, different ethnicities, different colors, and different national origins. It is sin in the heart that causes inequality. It is sin in the heart that causes men to treat women in ways that are meant to demean. It is sin that sets one person above another. And it is sin that seeks to use counterfeit solutions to counteract these inequalities. The only true cure for inequality is obedience to God's Word. If men and women would walk in obedience to God's Word, feminism would be unmasked for what it is, and the harmony that God has ordained for the relationship between men and women would result."

Gender Issues

Confessions of a Social Constructionist 2019, by Christopher Dummitt, author of the 2007 book The Manly Modern: Masculinity in Postwar Canada on gender history. "I insisted that there was no such thing as sex. And I knew it. I just knew it. Because I was a gender historian. . . . The problem is: I was wrong. Or, to be a bit more accurate, I got things partly right. But then, for the rest, I basically just made it up." (The Quillette website "is a platform for free thought." Ads and comments on this website are not all family-friendly.)

Why Some Christians Embrace LGBT Theology by John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris, 2018 "What if I told you that the best arguments to embrace LGBT ideology in the church aren't really arguments at all?'"

An atheist identifies "the central problem with the gay marriage agenda" by Carl E. Olson 2013 "In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one's mind or sticking with one's beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them."

40 Answers and 2 Questions for Gay Christian Matthew Vines by Dr. Michael Brown, 2015: "I am answering the 40 questions put forward by Matthew Vines, after which I will put two simple questions to Matthew (and his allies). What is absolutely stunning, though, is that in these 40 questions, he failed to ask the only one that really matters, namely, "What does the Bible say . . ." More responses: Will Graham, Albert Mohler, James White.

No 'gay gene': Massive study homes in on genetic basis of human "The largest study to date on the genetic basis of sexuality has revealed five spots on the human genome that are linked to same-sex sexual behaviour -- but none of the markers are reliable enough to predict someone's sexuality. The findings, which are published on 29 August [2019] in Science and based on the genomes of nearly 500,000 people, shore up the results of earlier, smaller studies and confirm the suspicions of many scientists: while sexual preferences have a genetic component, no single gene has a large effect on sexual behaviours."

Health Risks of the Homos--ual Lifestyle 2011; " . . . we see a substantial body of scientific literature repeatedly confirming that same-s-- behavior carriers with it increased rates of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, tobacco use, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicidality, obesity, hepatitis of various forms, numerous transmitted infections, various cancers, and domestic violence, with substantially shorter life expectancy."

How to Respond to the LGBT Movement by Peter Sprigg, 2018 (the "read more" link opens a 25-page pdf) "The first wave of this attack came from the modern feminist movement, challenging traditional social roles of men and women. The second wave came from the homos--ual movement, challenging the principle that men and women are created to be s--ually complementary to one another. The third wave of this assault on the s--es has come from the transgender movement, which has attacked a basic reality--that all people have a biological s--, identifiable at birth and immutable through life, which makes them either male or female."

The Girl in the Picture by Emily Thomes, 2016 Brief testimony of a girl caught up in the LGBT lifestyle who came to the Lord. There's an interview with her here. Also of interest: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield ($); Sy Rogers (search YouTube); Jackie Hill Perry; Chrisopher Yuan; Sam Alberry; Ruth Christian's Testimony and audio: "The culture shift and homosexual Christians"; Richard Evans, or here

How The Transgender Crusade Made Me Rethink My Support For Gay Marriage by Bethany Mandel, 2017 Over the course of the last few months, whenever I write or tweet anything, on any topic, I usually receive a caustic social media response about my position on transgenderism. These trolls post links to my tweets about the subject and screenshots, as if showing me my own recent opinion is some sort of gotcha.

Immigration

Illegal Immigration: A Christian Perspective by Trevor Thomas, 2013 What makes the issue of immigration more challenging than topics like abortion or marriage is that there is not clear-cut biblical direction on the matter. Some who favor a more liberal position on immigration often point to Leviticus 19 or Deuteronomy 24 (go read them) when making their arguments in favor of an open-borders type policy. However, as Alan F. H. Wisdom, then vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) noted nearly three years ago, "[t]he United States is not analogous to ancient Israel. Biblical 'sojourners' [aliens or foreigners] are not easily comparable to modern-era illegal immigrants. The 'foreigners' in ancient Israel were non-Israelites who were permitted to pass through or reside in Israel. They were required to comply with Israel's laws and respect its customs." . . . However, as FrontPage also notes, with so many Mexicans able to leave their country for work and welfare, the Mexican government has little incentive to improve conditions there. And despite decades of illegal immigration, economic and living conditions for poor Mexicans have improved little, if at all. Thus, the current immigration policies of the U.S. have made us an enabler, hurting not only the American taxpayer, but the millions of poor who are still living in Mexico. Is this very Christ-like?

Critical Considerations for Immigration Reform by Andy Logar, 2013 Our immigration policies worked well prior to 1965, assuring the existing national ethnic and cultural mix and encouraging assimilation. However, in the wake of the momentous Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed with wide bipartisan support, then-current immigration policies appeared exclusionary and were decried by political liberals and many conservatives as manifestly racist or discriminatory, spurring the passage of the Democrat-sponsored Immigration Act of 1965 (Hart-Cellar) . . The result has been that poor and unskilled immigrants are often reunited with poor and unskilled relatives, producing a concatenation of relatives and the much-abused "chain migration" reportedly depopulating entire villages in Mexico while imposing mounting socio-economic costs on America. . . . The most distressing aspect immigration today is that Hispanics (unlike Asians) are not assimilating. They self-segregate into Hispanic communities to become part of a growing adversarial underclass, magnified by a Hispanic high school dropout rate almost twice that of the blacks. Tellingly, the third-generation Hispanic has a lower median income than the first. More troubling, many Chicanos actually disdain assimilation, having been taught that the Southwest was stolen from Mexico in 1848 and thus considering themselves indigenous inhabitants reclaiming Mexican territory. Predictably, the Hydra-headed monster of irredentism and separatism has appeared in the form of movements such as Reconquista, Aztlan, MEChA, and La Raza.

Swearing In the Enemy by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2012 One of the suspected Boston bombers was a naturalized citizen, and the other was on his way. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a new citizen, asks how we might change the process of becoming an American to exclude those who hate America. Also here.

Sanctity of Life and Abortion

Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft There is one and only one reason why people argue about the topic of this paper, whether human personhood begins at conception: because some people want to justify abortion. Therefore I begin with some remarks about abortion. Abortion is a clear-cut evil. Anyone who honestly seeks 'peace on earth, good will toward men' will see this if only he extends it to include women and children. . . . The Functionalism that is the basis of the 'Quality of Life Ethic' is morally reprehensible for at least three reasons. First, it is degrading, demeaning and destructive to human dignity; it treats persons like trained seals. Second, it is elitist; it discriminates against less perfect performers. Third, it takes advantage, it is power play, it is might over right rationalized. To see this point, let us dare to ask a very naive and simple question, a question a child might ask, especially a child like the one in 'The Emperor's New Clothes': Why do doctors kill fetuses rather than fetuses killing doctors? Fetuses do not want to die. They struggle to live. (I hope you have all seen 'The Silent Scream' and its sequel.) The answer is power. Doctors have power, fetuses do not. If fetuses came equipped with suction tubes, poisons, and scalpels to use to defend themselves against their killers, there would be no abortions.

Why my support for abortion was based on love . . . and lies by Jennifer Fulwiler, 2013 One day my husband was re-evaluating his own pro-choice ideas, and he made a passing remark that startled me. He said: "It just occurred to me that being pro-life is being pro-other-people's-lives. Everyone is pro-their-own-life." It made me realize that my pro-choice viewpoints were putting me in the position of deciding who is and is not human, and whose lives are worth living. I (along with doctors, the government, or other abortion advocates) decided where to draw this very important line. When I would come across claims that life begins at conception, I would scoff. Yet I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with my defense: "A few cells is obviously not a baby, or even a human life!" I would sneer to myself. "Fetuses eventually become full-fledged humans, but not until, umm, like, six months gestation or something. Or maybe five months? When is it that they can kick their legs and stuff? . . . Nine weeks?! No, they're not human then, those must be involuntary spasms. . . It took my breath away to witness the level of evil that normal people can fall into supporting. They were talking about infanticide, but completely refused to label it as such. It was when I considered that these were educated, reasonable professionals who were probably not bad people that I realized that evil mainly works by getting good people to believe in lies. I also took a mental step back from the entire pro-choice movement. If this is what it meant to be "pro-choice," I was not pro-choice. Yet I still couldn't bring myself to say I was pro-life. . . . I was reading yet another account of the Greek societies in which newborn babies were abandoned to die, wondering to myself how normal people could possibly accept something like that. Then, a chill tore through my body as I thought: I know how they did it."

Unstringing the Violinist, 2013 The well-known parasite argument; Mr. Koukl uncovers some serious flaws with this argument: First, the violinist is artificially attached to the woman. A mother's unborn baby, however, is not surgically connected, nor was it ever "attached" to her. Instead, the baby is being produced by the mother's own body by the natural process of reproduction. Both Thompson and McDonagh treat the child--the woman's own daughter or son--like an invading stranger intent on doing harm. They make the mother/child union into a host/predator relationship. A child is not an invader, though, a parasite living off his mother. . . . Thompson ignores a second important distinction. In the violinist illustration, the woman might be justified withholding life-giving treatment from the musician under these circumstances. Abortion, though, is not merely withholding treatment. It is actively taking another human being's life through poisoning or dismemberment. A more accurate parallel with abortion would be to crush the violinist or cut him into pieces before unplugging him. . . .

Bad Pro-Choice Arguments by Neil Shenvi debunks pro-choice arguments: So what are some of the most popular pro-choice arguments and slogans that are deeply flawed? Here are a few: "Women have a right to do what they want with their own bodies." The fundamental problem with this objection is that it assumes that laws against abortion are primarily concerned with what a woman can and cannot do to her own body. But they are not. Why? Ask yourself a simple question: how many brains does a woman have? One. But how many brains does a pregnant woman have? Still one. The woman's body is not the issue in abortion: the baby's body is. The developing fetus has a complete set of human DNA different than the mother's. It has its own circulatory system, its own brain, its own fingers and toes and arms and legs. If it is a male, it even has a different gender than the mother. Therefore, the fetus is clearly not just 'part of the woman's body'. Laws against abortion aren't telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body; they are telling a woman what she can and cannot do with someone else's body. (Another:) "The government has no right to make laws telling a woman she can't have an abortion" Based on the argument above, it is clear why this second objection also fails: the government can and should be able to tell people what they can and cannot do to other people's bodies. It is legal for me to shave my head or to cut my fingernails or to pierce my ears. It is even legal for me to stick a knife into my leg. But it is illegal for me to do any of these things to another human being without their consent. The government rightly recognizes that the other human being has their own rights which can and should be protected by law. Thus, if the unborn is a human being, the government can and should protect it from being harmed by anyone, even its mother.

Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion? Who Decides? by Richard Evans, 2012 What is the motive behind this unasked-for change in terminology? I would contend it has to do with the continuing attempt to bring us together with the "pro-choice" movement. And while there are people on both sides of the issue who are honestly of good will, and who care deeply about society, we as "pro-life" folks have the specific goal of eliminating abortion from society, or at very least lessening its frequency and perceived need. That of course is a huge threat to the other camp whose main concern is the "woman's right to choose.".

Guest Post on BadCatholic by Michael Frances, 2012 Before my conception, I did not exist. Since my conception, I have existed. If another person had interfered with my natural development at some point since conception, it's elementary that I would not be here. . . Choosing any moment after conception to protect human life from intentional destruction crosses a line into personal opinion.

The consequences of treating a fetus as a human being various people, including Wendell Berry, each write their own response

The Left has betrayed the sanctity of life by Mary Meehan, 1980 . . . it is out of character for the Left to neglect the weak and helpless. The traditional mark of the Left has been its protection of the underdog, the weak, and the poor. The unborn child is the most helpless form of humanity, even more in need of protection than the poor tenant farmer or the mental patient or the boat people on the high seas. The basic instinct of the Left is to aid those who cannot aid themselves -- and that instinct is absolutely sound. It is what keeps the human proposition going. Second, the right to life underlies and sustains every other right we have. . . . To save the smallest children, save its own conscience, the Left should speak out against abortion.

The Abortion Papers: Bob Woodward unearths primary evidence, 1989 The Roe v. Wade memos were found among the personal papers of the late Justice William O. Douglas, which became available to the public at the Library of Congress last year. . . In the final published opinion, Blackmun, far from acknowledging the "arbitrary" aspect of his ruling, wrote that the woman's right to an abortion is "compelling" and prevails up "to approximately the end of the first trimester." . . . Blackmun changed the opinion somewhat to accommodate Marshall's concerns, saying that after approximately the first trimester, the states could regulate abortion to protect the health of the mother.

Abortion Bias Seeps Into News by John Carmody, 1989 A landmark Los Angeles Times investigation: A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington showed that over a period of nine months, the major TV networks used "pro-choice" in 74 percent of their references to abortion -rights advocates and used "pro-life" in only 6 percent of their references to abortion opponents. The survey also found that abortion-rights activists were quoted almost twice as often as their antiabortion counterparts. . . Reporters may be assisting the Democrats by creating the image of a damaging rift in the Republican Party, while the efforts of pro-life Democrats to diversify their party's stance are mostly ignored.

Separation of Church and State

The True Meaning of Separation of Church and State by Bill Flax, 2011 [Forbes requires disabling ad-blocking] Our forefathers never sought to evict the church from society. They recognized that the several states did not share uniform values. We lived and worshipped differently. The framers were a diverse bunch with wildly divergent opinions on many issues, but eliminating the very foundations of America's heritage would have horrified them. On few issues was there more unanimity. . . Episcopalians in Virginia would live amicably next to Catholics in Maryland, Quakers in Pennsylvania or Baptists in their midst. None saw cause for contention because there was no threat that others would gain dominion over them or any prospect that they might gain such dominion themselves. Rivalry was unnecessary because 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.'

Forgetting the Constitution by Thomas Sowell, 2010 The assurance that "separation of church and state" is in the Constitution shows our elites' ignorance. "The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about a "wall of separation" between church and state, either directly or indirectly. That phrase was used in a letter by Thomas Jefferson, who was not even in the country when the Constitution was written. It was a phrase seized upon many years later, by people who wanted to restrict religious symbols, and it has been cited by judges who share that wish. There was no mystery about what "an establishment of religion" meant when that phrase was put into the Constitution. It was not an open-ended invitation to judges to decide what role religion should play in American society or in American government."

Illicit Temptation/Pornography

Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain by Donald Hilton, 2011 It's the overuse of the dopamine reward system that causes addiction. When the pathways are used compulsively, a downgrading occurs that actually decreases the amount of dopamine in the pleasure areas available for use, and the dopamine cells themselves start to atrophy, or shrink. The reward cells in the nucleus accumbens are now starved for dopamine and exist in a state of dopamine craving, as a downgrading of dopamine receptors on the pleasure cells occurs as well. This resetting of the 'pleasure thermostat' produces a 'new normal.' In this addictive state, the person must act out in addiction to boost the dopamine to levels sufficient just to feel normal. . . Studies show that oxytocin is also important in increasing trust in humans, in emotional bonding between sx mates, and in parental bonding. We are wired to bond to the object of our sexuality. It is a good thing when this bonding occurs in a committed marriage relationship, but there is a dark side. When sx gratification occurs in the context of pornography use, it can result in the formation of a virtual mistress of sorts.

A Warped Worldview: Another Moral Effect of Pornography by Albert Mohler, 2013 Late last year, Professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas argued that exposure to pornography may well influence views on the legalization of same- sx marriage. He suggested that viewing pornography leads men, in particular, to shift to more positive attitudes toward same-sx marriage. Regnerus cited the New Family Structures Survey and then reported that a majority of men who view pornographic material 'every day or almost every day' agreed that same-sx marriage should be legal. . . As they indicate, previous research had pointed to the influence of pornography exposure in developing sx attitudes. Wright and Randall argue that exposure to pornography 'activates a sx 'liberal' mind-set.' This mind-set 'embraces non-judgment toward and even approval of nontraditional sx behavior.'

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers - 1800's These remarks apply not merely to love considered in its state of desire for an object not yet obtained. They apply also to love considered in its state of indulgence, or placid gratification, with an object already in possession. It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. At least, it is very seldom that this is done through the instrumentality of reasoning. It may be done by excessive pampering, but it is almost never done by the mere force of mental determination. But what can not be thus destroyed, may be dispossest--and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind. It is thus that the boy ceases, at length, to be the slave of his appetite; but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination, and that the youth ceases to idolize pleasure; but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendency, and that even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart of many a thriving citizen; but it is because, drawn into the whirl of city politics, another affection has been wrought into his moral system, and he is now lorded over by the love of power.

Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important than You Ever Thought by Kirk Durston - A discussion of Oxford social anthropologist J.D. Unwin's conclusions from his data collected "from 86 societies and civilizations to see if there is a relationship between sexual freedom and the flourishing of cultures." "What makes the book especially interesting is that we in the West underwent a sexual revolution in the late 1960's, 70's, and 80's and are now in a position to test the conclusions he arrived at more than 40 years earlier." ". . . some moral laws may be designed to minimize human suffering and maximize human flourishing long term."

Technical/Media Use

Multitasking while studying impairs learning by Annie Murphy Paul, 2013 ". . . College students who participated in the study were asked to watch a 30-minute videotaped lecture, during which some were sent eight text messages while others were sent four or zero text messages. Those who were interrupted more often scored worse on a test of the lecture's content; more interestingly, those who responded to the experimenters' texts right away scored significantly worse than those participants who waited to reply until the lecture was over. This ability to resist the lure of technology can be consciously cultivated, Rosen maintains. He advises students to take "tech breaks" to satisfy their cravings for electronic communication: After they've labored on their schoolwork uninterrupted for 15 minutes, they can allow themselves two minutes to text, check websites, and post to their hearts' content. Then the devices get turned off for another 15 minutes of academics. Over time, Rosen says, students are able extend their working time to 20, 30, even 45 minutes, as long as they know that an opportunity to get online awaits

Is Your Brain Being Wired By Technology? by Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, 2013 It all seems positive, right? Not exactly. Research shows we are exposed to three times more information today as compared to four decades ago. This information overload leads to more multitasking and forces us to push our brain to do things it was not built to do. Technology is allowing us, pushing us to do more as we toggle back and forth between projects and switch between using our personal computer and cell phone endlessly throughout the day. This high-performance demand to smoothly switch back and forth fatigues the frontal lobe, slows efficiency, and decreases performance. Multitasking contributes to the death of brain cells, takes a dramatic toll on mental processing and causes increased errors. Multitasking also leads to the build up of cortisol, the stress hormone, and stress reduces the immune system's first line of defense. Science demonstrates that the human brain is not wired to perform two tasks at once, yet we have all become addicted multitasking. Technology is rewiring your brain daily so that you are becoming more addicted to being distracted. Just like your brain's response to a drug, dopamine is released in response to technological 'pings,' such as text or email alerts. Dopamine cells respond to a reward primarily when it occurs unpredictably, and because our brains want to repeat the feelings of pleasure and euphoria triggered by dopamine, one technological 'ping' my produce a greater desire for the next. Bottom line: while technology can boost your brainpower, it can also impair the normal function of our brain, especially the frontal lobe. (The website has moved; until the article's new location can be found, there's a related article by the same author: Protect Your Brain for Life: Follow these expert strategies

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction by Matt Richtel, 2010 technology's effect on education: Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks-- and less able to sustain attention. 'Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,' said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: 'The worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.' . . . One student begins to read aloud, and the rest follow along. To Ms. Blondel, the exercise in group reading represents a regression in American education and an indictment of technology. The reason she has to do it, she says, is that students now lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own. 'How can you have a discussion in class?' she complains, arguing that she has seen a considerable change in recent years. In some classes she can count on little more than one-third of the students to read a 30-page homework assignment. She adds: 'You can't become a good writer by watching YouTube, texting and e-mailing a bunch of abbreviations.'

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime by Matt Richtel, 2010 At the University of Michigan, a study found that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say. 'People think they're refreshing themselves, but they're fatiguing themselves,' said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist.

Attached to Technology and Paying a Price by Matt Richtel, 2010 multi-tasking: Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement-- a dopamine squirt-- that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored. The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life. While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist.

An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness by Tara Parker-Pope, 2010 internet dependence and addiction; short. We do spend a lot of time with our devices, and some studies have suggested that excessive dependence on cellphones and the Internet is akin to an addiction. Web sites like NetAddiction.com offer self-assessment tests to determine if technology has become a drug. Among the questions used to identify those at risk: Do you neglect housework to spend more time online? Are you frequently checking your e-mail? Do you often lose sleep because you log in late at night? If you answered 'often' or 'always,' technology may be taking a toll on you. . . . The problem is similar to an eating disorder, says Dr. Kimberly Young, a professor at St. Bonaventure University in New York who has led research on the addictive nature of online technology. Technology, like food, is an essential part of daily life, and those suffering from disordered online behavior cannot give it up entirely and instead have to learn moderation and controlled use.

Warning Signs of Tech Overload 7 signs of technology overload: 1. Do you always check your e-mail before doing other things? 2. Do you often find yourself anticipating the next time you'll be online? 3. When you're online and someone needs you, do you usually say 'just a few more minutes' before stopping? 4. Have you ever lied about or tried to hide how long you've been online? 5. Have you ever chosen to spend time online rather than going out with others? 6. Does going online lift you from a depressed or nervous mood? 7. Do others in your life often complain about the amount of time you spend using technology?

The Medium Is the Medium by David Brooks, 2010 They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the 'summer slide'--the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school. This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains. . . the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores. This study, following up on others, finds that broadband access is not necessarily good for kids and may be harmful to their academic performance. And this study used data from 2000 to 2005 before Twitter and Facebook took off. . . But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer's world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher. Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

What Screen Time Can Really Do to Kids' Brains by Liraz Margalit Ph.D, 2016 When very small children get hooked on tablets and smartphones, says Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Medicine, they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains. Too much screen time too soon, he says, 'is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people's attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary--all those abilities are harmed.' Put more simply, parents who jump to screen time in a bid to give their kids an educational edge may actually be doing significantly more harm than good . . .

Media Bias

The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards by Michael Goodwin, 2017 A NYT journalist clearly describes the shift in the media from unbiased to opinionated. "I've been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn't always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed." . . . "I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naive liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it." "The mismatch between the mainstream media and the public's sensibilities means there is a vast untapped market for news and views that are not now represented. To realize that potential, we only need three ingredients, and we already have them: first, free speech; second, capitalism and free markets; and the third ingredient is you, the consumers of news."

They Lie About Everything: Inherit the Wind, Evolution and the Scopes Monkey Trial 2016 Details specific facts about the trial and compares how those facts were portrayed by Hollywood. "Many of us were even shown [the film Inherit the Wind], presented uncritically as a factual account of an American historical event, while in school and it remains the basic foundation for our culture's understanding of Darwinian Evolution. What most people don't know is that both Inherit the Wind and the Scopes Trial itself were both calculating pieces of propaganda. . . The prosecuting attorney, William Jennings Bryan, was interested only in proving that John Scopes broke the law, but the leading defense attorney and militant atheist, Clarence Darrow, had been trying to lure Bryan into a public debate about Christianity for years and intended to use this forum to put Bryan's Christian beliefs on trial."

Education and Culture

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture by Patrick Deneen, 2016 "Our students' ignorance is not a failing of the educational system - it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts - whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about - have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

Establishment Art's Ingrained Indoctrination and the Postmodern Manifesto by Richard Bledsoe, 2017 (The first image on the page is a sculpture of a hand gesture that parents might want to preview first.) I've written before on how elitists push this ideology because it makes an effective tool of oppression. To be Postmodern is to be relativistic, cynical, narcissistic, and conformist. For those who might question such an interpretation, we are fortunate to have a document found posthumously among the papers of one of the leading advocates of this world view, French writer Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 - October 9, 2004). Hugely influential amongst those susceptible to such pedantic banter, he pretty much summed up his accomplishments with this quote: "I'm no good for anything except taking the world apart and putting it together again (and I manage the latter less and less frequently)." Derrida left behind a statement that bluntly summarizes the intentions of Postmodernism. I would suggest these days his ideas are like the water that we fish are ignorant of; propaganda so widely disbursed and unquestioned it's invisible to us, even as we move through it, and are carried along by its flow.

America's Second Civil War from Dennis Prager, 2017 "Just as in Western Europe, the left in America seeks to erase America's Judeo-Christian foundations. The melting pot is regarded as nothing more than an anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic meme. The left suppresses free speech wherever possible for those who oppose it, labeling all non-left speech 'hate speech.' To cite only one example, if you think Shakespeare is the greatest playwright or Bach is the greatest composer, you are a proponent of dead white European males and therefore racist. . . Without any important value held in common, how can there be unity between left and non-left? Obviously, there cannot."

There's More to Life Than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith, 2013 "Meaning comes from the pursuit of more complex things than happiness . . " "Researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a 'taker' while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a 'giver.'"

The Decline in Teaching Western Civilization by Anthony Esolen, 2016 ". . . students are not really interested in studying cultures other than ours. What counts for them as 'diversity' is governed entirely by a monotonous and predictable list of current political concerns. If you read a short story written in English by a Latina author living up the road in Worcester, that counts as 'diverse,' but if you read a romance written in Spanish by a Spanish author living in Spain four hundred years ago, that does not count as 'diverse.' It probably does not even count as Hispanic. If you pore over the verb system of Old Icelandic so that you can stumble around in the sagas of Snorri Sturluson, that does not count, despite the fact that the sagas are utterly different from any form of literature now written. But if you collect a few editorials written by Toni Morrison, that does count, despite the fact that they are written in English and that you have read hundreds of such."

Social Justice is 'Fake Scholarship,' Oxford Philosopher Says by Sir Roger Vernon Scruton, 2017 ". . . the ideology might be grounded in truth, but it's impossible to know because one cannot freely question its premises. Conformity to the orthodoxy takes precedence over the intellectual method, he said, something which is occurring more and more at universities. Scholarship is no longer a tool to seek truth but a means."

Muslim women

For Women Under ISIS, a Tyranny of Dress Code and Punishment by Rukmini Callimachi, 2016 It eventually became clear that the aim of the rules was to keep women cloistered inside their homes. "This was the entire purpose. The essence of their Islamic jurisprudence is to make women melt away. To make them invisible," Ms. Aqeedi said. She gave the example of a woman she keeps in touch with who is still in Mosul and has not left her home for more than two years.

Violence against Women made 'Right' -- Is it Islam, Culture or Individuals? by Ruby Usman of the Unshaming Project, 2018 My uncle used to beat my auntie--his wife--with belts. In her world, it was somehow okay because it was much more shameful to be divorced. There was more honour in being a woman owned by a man--even one who subjugated and violated her--than to sit at home with her parents and be the subject of humiliation in the community. . . I didn't even flinch at any of these incidents. As far as I was concerned, this was how a woman's life is meant to be. I was taught by the Pakistani society that by sacrificing my own needs and desires, I become honourable in the eyes of Allah because I am fulfilling my purpose. To speak against it is to speak against Islam and that's blasphemous. (Ruby has additional articles about repression in Islamic cultures on her blog).

Women in the Words of Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Sami Alrabaa, ex-Muslim - quotes about women from the Koran. Or, from the same website, False Propaganda about the Empowerment of Women in Islam

Her-Story: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2012 (short) 'I would like to be judged on the validity of my arguments, not as a victim.' Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she would move many times in her childhood, with her family eventually settling in Kenya. . . She was taught to be mistrustful, particularly of men. When her little brother Mahad asked her to look at something and then pushed her into a latrine, he was not punished. Instead Ayaan was punished for not sufficiently protecting herself. . . In 1992, Ali fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage.

The Caged Virgin by Christopher Hitchens, 2006 At the Swedish event, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke calmly and rationally about the problem . . . The murderer (who had expected to become a martyr but who was only wounded in the leg by the gentle Dutch cops) left a long "martyr's letter" pinned to van Gogh's corpse by an equally long knife. In it, he warned Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she was the next target, and he gave a long and detailed account of all the offenses that would condemn her to an eternity in hell . . . I would urge you all to go out and buy her new book, The Caged Virgin, which is subtitled An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. The three themes of the story are: first, her own gradual emancipation from tribalism and superstition; second, her work as a parliamentarian to call attention to the crimes being committed every day by Islamist thugs in mainland Europe; and third, the dismal silence, or worse, from many feminists and multiculturalists about this state of affairs.

My Life in an Afghan Harem, 2013 Phyllis Chesler, 72, is a feminist scholar and a professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at City University of New York. In her 14th book, An American Bride in Kabul, she shares for the first time the story of the five months she spent, as a young bride, held prisoner in a Afghan household: ". . . I am now a Muslim--at least in my mother-in-law's eyes-but that still isn't enough for her. When she is angry at me, she spits at me. She calls me 'Yahud' or 'Jew.' When I complain to my husband, he dismisses me as being dramatic. I must escape. Looking both ways, I walk out feeling like a criminal. I board a bus and notice that all the other women are at the back of the bus wearing burqas. I am horrified, slightly hysterical. Meanwhile, all eyes are on me. I am without even a head scarf or a coat. . . I am lost and dizzy with fear. My husband is informed of my escape, and he finds me and brings me home . . ."

Abu-Ghanem women speak out against serial 'honor killings', 2007 "It was a women's revolt against the men of the family. While the men refused to cooperate with the police and forbade the women to speak, the women revealed all. They decided to put an end to the bloody circle of silence," Chief Inspector Haim Shreibhand, who was in charge of the investigation, told Haaretz. The detectives gathered testimonies from 20 Abu-Ghanem women and assembled the pieces of the puzzle together into an indictment, he said. Kamal Rashad Abu-Ghanem, 30, was arraigned in Tel Aviv's District Court yesterday for murder. His cousin Mahmoud, who was also arrested, was released for lack of sufficient evidence to file charges. Rashad Abu-Ghanem was charged with entering the family's home, in Ramle's Juarish neighborhood. His sister was alone in the house, lying on her bed. She probably knew she was about to die. He went up the stairs with a loaded 9-mm. handgun, entered his sister's room and fired nine bullets at her.

The Power and the Glory of Islamic Women, 2004 What gives with Western feminism? Families of Muslim women rape, torture, behead, crucify, and hang them in public squares--all because they have committted the truly mortal sin of being female--yet the silence here on the behalf of these victims is deafening.

Yes, This Is About Islam by Salmon Rushdie, 2001 "This isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West, partly because if the United States is to maintain its coalition against terror it can't afford to suggest that Islam and terrorism are in any way related. The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side? . . . I'm reminded of the way noncommunist socialists used to distance themselves from the tyrannical socialism of the Soviets; nevertheless, the first stirrings of this counterproject are of great significance. If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must be encouraged until they swell into a roar. Many of them speak of another Islam, their personal, private faith.

Climate change, bioethics, food issues (GMO, corporate interests, sustainability) will probably covered in science)