Sunday, December 03, 2006

Religious Songs not Allowed

A far-Left local council at work in the Unhinged Kingdom:

"A mother and toddlers' group has been threatened with closure unless it stops singing traditional Christian songs, it has been revealed.

Childcare officials have attacked the weekly sessions which feature sing-alongs with youngsters, claiming they are too religious and need to be more 'inclusive'.

The drop-in group has been warned it will lose its 7,000 pounds-a-year government grant which is distributed by Labour's Haringey Council in North London, unless it agrees to remain 'non-religious' in future.

It has been told to stop teaching children songs about 'loving Jesus', to consider dropping the word 'Christian' from its title and instead be more welcoming to gay families.


So we should re-write Christmas songs so that they "welcome" homosexuals? Any suggestions? Let's see: Maybe "Rudolph the red-nosed homo, had a very shiny butt.... "??

A green bill of health?

Natural England's claim that 'contact with nature' can improve mental and physical wellbeing is both silly and sinister.

Natural England – a conservation umbrella group that includes English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service – has launched a health campaign that aims to ‘encourage’ doctors and other health professionals ‘to make more use of the natural environment as part of the total healthcare they give to their patients’ (1).

According to William Bird, a Berkshire GP and Natural England’s health adviser, ‘increasing evidence suggests that both physical and mental health are improved through contact with nature’. A campaign factsheet claims that ‘aggression and domestic violence is [sic] less likely in low-income families with views or access to natural green space’, and ‘crime rates are lower in tower blocks with more natural green space than identical tower blocks with no surrounding vegetation’ (no references provided). Dr Bird is worried that ‘people are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past’ and insists that ‘this has to change!’.

Natural England’s campaign, which is endorsed by Britain’s deputy chief medical officer and the BBC and supported by a budget of £500million of taxpayers’ money, offers a curious combination of the silly and the sinister. On the one hand, the notion that a breath of fresh air and the sight of a few trees can cure the ills of both the individual and society has the aura of whacky green fundamentalism. On the other hand, Dr Bird’s schoolmasterish tone and his offer of a natural cure for a wide range of social problems clearly appeals to the authoritarian instincts behind New Labour’s public health policies.

While Natural England presents itself as the acme of fashionable environmentalism, its roots lie in the tradition of ‘nature therapy’ that flourished in Germany from the turn of the twentieth century and reached its peak in the Nazi Third Reich. Nature therapy combined hostility towards scientific medicine with enthusiasm for homeopathy and hydrotherapy and was closely linked with movements promoting eugenics and racial superiority. ‘Air, light, a healthy diet and exercise were recognised as the basis of good health.’ (2)

Though in its early days this movement drew support from across the political spectrum, in the 1930s it was incorporated by the Nazis, and the Reich Labour Service (Reicharbeitsdienst) became a means of mass conscription of the unemployed into conservationist – and health-enhancing – rural labour (3). Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal government in the USA followed the German example, with the Civilian Conservation Corps.

By the time that Brigadier Armstrong formed the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) in 1959, the movement had abandoned its coercive and eugenic features and had become a benign voluntary organisation devoted to practical conservation work (though in 1970 it acquired a deeply reactionary patron – the Duke of Edinburgh) (4). In the course of the 1990s, however, when Dr Bird became closely involved, BTCV moved back towards its nature therapy roots, promoting the countryside in terms of its supposed beneficial effects on contemporary health problems. With support from central and local government, and health authorities, BTCV has sponsored a network of ‘Green Gym’ projects, linking exercise to conservation (5).

The nature therapy revival has also attracted major corporate sponsorship. BTCV enjoys the support of Rio Tinto, formerly known as Rio Tinto Zinc, one of the world’s most rapacious – and environment-despoiling – mining corporations, and Barclays Bank PLC (from which a generation of students withdrew their accounts because of its involvement in imperialist exploitation in Africa). It seems that an association with environmentalism and health promotion provides a positive public relations front for capitalist enterprises with dubious reputations.

Natural England’s health campaign emphasises the healing power of nature, in particular in relation to children and those with mental illness. It claims that nature can tackle the obesity epidemic, prevent bullying, reduce ADHD and improve concentration, self-discipline and self-esteem (it is striking that modern nature therapy only deals with fashionable conditions). In common with current public health policies – such as the school meals crusade – Natural England focuses on the sections of society least capable of resisting the advance of intrusive and authoritarian health policies.

Let’s hope that the growing revolt against Jamie’s school dinners soon extends to the ‘back to the country’ fantasies of Natural England.


Dr Paul Irwing: 'There are twice as many men as women with an IQ of 120-plus'

Dr Paul Irwing is a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Manchester University. He claims that men are more intelligent than women

All the research I've done points to a gender difference in general cognitive ability. There is a mean difference of about five IQ points. The further you go up the distribution the more and more skewed it becomes. There are twice as many men with an IQ of 120-plus as there are women, there are 30 times the number of men with an IQ of 170-plus as there are women.

I don't know why this is, all I can say is that we have a huge amount of data. In my 2005 paper in the British Journal of Psychology we looked at 22 surveys sampling 20,000 university students. In 21 out of the 22 studies males always had an advantage. That's a lot. We ignored the survey from Mexico because the results were consistent with a university that was extremely selective with respect to females [i.e. You have to be a very bright female to get into a Mexican university in the first place]. Why did Steve Blinkhorn call our research "flawed and suspect"?

The results of both studies were a shock to me. I find prejudice abhorrent. I've always taught sex differences from a left-wing point of view, that women are every bit as good as men. My findings don't fit my view of the world at all. Girls often do better than boys at school. There has to be some female compensating factor, most importantly the ability to process speech sounds, which means women read faster and more accurately and have an advantage in basic writing tasks. And women work harder than men and are more conscientious so they do things technic-ally correctly. Men are often quite original but deficient in what is technically demanded.

Historically women have been discriminated against. They've made tremendous progress and some people feel findings like this are a kick in the teeth. I have sympathy for that, but only people who know virtually nothing about IQ tests claim they have a cultural bias. All IQ tests are thoroughly tested and adjusted for bias, so if anything IQ tests are biased in favour of women not men.

People should have equal opportunities but if you want a society where everyone feels satisfied you're not going to find men and women doing the same things in the same proportions. It would help if we recognised that.


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