Current Events with Hicks and Salsman

September 16, 2021 00:58:52
Current Events with Hicks and Salsman
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
Current Events with Hicks and Salsman
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Show Notes

The Atlas Society Senior Scholars Stephen Hicks and Richard Salsman join host Jennifer Grossman for an Objectivist perspective on a recent Media Bias study, President Biden's Vaccine Mandate, and a rise of secularism in Harvard chaplains. Be sure to tune in for what will prove to be a thought-provoking discussion!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Um, and welcome to the 70th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer Anji Grossman. My friends know me as JAG. I'm the CEO of the Atlas society, where the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in fun, creative ways. Today, we are going to be doing our monthly current events panel with our very own senior scholars, uh, professor Stephen Hicks and, uh, professor Richard Salzman. Uh, we're going to save a bit of time at the end to take some audience questions. So go ahead and start teeing those up right up at the top. So we'll have them in the Q a and for those who are watching us on, on, um, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, uh, go ahead and just type your questions into the comments stream. And we are going to get to as many of them as we can. Speaker 0 00:01:02 So, uh, today our scholars came up with a couple of topics they'd like to discuss, uh, one that professor Hicks brought to our attention, a study of, uh, modern media bias, um, looking at an analytical paper of quote unquote prejudice, denoting word usage. I'm going to let him get to that in a moment. And then of course, we're going to talk about the, uh, the Biden administration's, uh, recent announcement of Mac, uh, mandates for vaccines, for companies with a hundred more employees, uh, and may have some, some good news to add in at the end. So Stephen, I thought this was just a, a fascinating, um, study that, that you found maybe didn't make the headlines, uh, but it is in the news and that's, um, I I'd love for you to bring it to our audience's attention. Speaker 1 00:02:02 Yeah. One of the things that I want to do in my role as a senior scholar is bring important academic work that bears upon current events. Is there any, one of the important current events in a democratic Republic is a issues use of media bias and politicization of our important information sources. So, as we all know, for the last several years, we've been having this huge national debate about our culture on some important moral dimensions, uh, many of us, uh, prize ourselves on being a progressive nation in the healthy sense of progressive. That is to say that a lot of traditional tribal isms we've, uh, we've gotten past that the vast majority of people are not racist. They're not ethnocentric, they're not classist are not sexist and so on. And we have a whole narrative, uh, about how much progress we have made along, along all of those dimensions. Speaker 1 00:02:58 But we also have this huge, uh, lead influential other side that is pushing a different narrative. It wants to argue that a United States and broadly Western culture is a deeply racist culture. It's a deeply sexist culture that is riven with classism and so forth. It's a deeply dysfunctional moral society. So we have these two narratives. And how do we tell though which narrative is, uh, is true or, or not now, uh, social science. So we start gathering some data. So what do we want to give you just a little bit of data? Uh, let me call this one up here. So let me go to slideshow from the beginning. There we are. So hopefully you're all seeing a blank screen kind of boring, but this is an interesting one. I chose this one because this is the results of a survey from 2013, and I've chosen 2013 advisedly where they ask internationally people, their attitudes about race and so forth. Speaker 1 00:03:59 Uh, are you comfortable working with people of another race? Do you mind if other people of another race live in your neighborhood right, and so forth? And the blue countries are all very unraced nations have basically, uh, 95% of the population there. They say they have no problem with working with people, with other races, having them in their neighborhoods, right. And so on. So it's a multiculturalism and assimilation or assimilation and bullet colorblindness in the, in the best possible sense. So this is the good news story. And then we look at other parts of the world and say, well, what we need to do is bring enlightenment values, uh, to further civilize the world. Now this is 2013. So my next graph, though, this is from a Gallup poll. And you'll notice that 2013, uh, this as asked people that are perceptions about in this justice case race issues. Speaker 1 00:04:47 And basically what you find in 2013 is people of all races are saying, yeah, race relations are pretty good in the United States, uh, or they're very good in the, in the United States. And we've got 30% who were saying they're somewhat troubled or they think they are, they're, they're very bad and so forth. But look what happens after 2013, suddenly the discussion shifts, people's attitudes shift and so on. And that's what I want to focus on that. Now what happened after 2013, now the pessimistic narrative wants to argue that, uh, the United States and by extension Western civilization still is deeply racist. And their explanation, uh, is to say that, uh, something like say the Trump presidency is an indication of that latent racism, suddenly starting to come out of the woodwork and someone like Donald Trump being elected. He, uh, you know, he's both a symptom, but also an exacerbator of, of the existing problem or the negative, uh, narrative also wants to make a claim that someone like Jordan Peterson, his rise is both symptomatic of certain kinds of problems. Speaker 1 00:05:57 And of course, they'll put all sorts of, uh, racism into his views. I don't think he's racist at all, but they will argue that he appeals to racism and pushes certain code words that is causing a significant number of more people to become racism and racist rather. And so we get a reactions reactions back and forth. And so, again, there's a very hard question. How do we tell whether that narrative has some teeth to it or whether, uh, something else is going on now, the other side though wants to say, it's not the case that we have a racist society. In fact, what we have is most people are not racist. Most people are not sexist. We're very healthy. But what we do have is an intellectual class and a high culture class that is in some senses, a wedded to that very negative pessimistic narrative about America. Speaker 1 00:06:49 And because perhaps they have captured huge chunks of the media and some of the more important cultural platforms, they're in a position to push a certain narrative. Of course, we have a whole bunch of other people who are, uh, I like the word race hustlers. They, uh, they use racism as an issue to advance certain kinds of agendas and get certain kinds of grants and certain kinds of notoriety and so on. And so we're not a racist country, but what we have is a certain manufactured narrative that's being pushed on, on the culture. So how do we tell whether that narrative is correct or whether the other narrative is correct? And the point of the paper is that I'm wanting to highlight this came out this summer, is that, uh, this is also a, not only an issue about objectivity and media bias, but also some very fascinating issues in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Speaker 1 00:07:41 So David Rosato, <inaudible> our data scientists and, uh, uh, w what has happened is with computing power and algorithms, the ability to crunch vast amounts of data, and then tease out significant things, uh, has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. So what they did was they went through in this case, 47 major news media outlets, and took every single word that those media outlets either said, or printed, and then counted all of them. And you can do this with, with media, and then they paid special attention to words that are in what we might call the politically correct, or the, uh, the Wolf, uh, the, the woke vocabulary. And then you can graph the frequency of the use of various words over time. So you can go back in the archives of the New York times to 2000, 2005, 2010, and do your word count. Speaker 1 00:08:39 Now, this is a, an aggregate. So at the bottom, you see listed all of the key words that, uh, that we're interested in, racism, racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, bigotry, nationalism, feminisms, that are et cetera, et cetera. And what we find then is if you go back to the year 2000, there was a measure of how many of those words were being used. And then we get to 2012, and suddenly there's a huge change in slope. Suddenly the major news media outlets are using these words in a growth phase, right? And that's a, that's an exponential curve. There's a bit of a dip in 2017, 2018, and then it starts to accelerate again. So question then is what does the data, what does this show for the narratives, right? And how can we, how can we, uh, use this as data for the narratives? Well, one of the things I think it does clearly clearly is, uh, uh, defeat the hypothesis that someone like Trump is responsible for shape changing the narrative of the country, say in a more racist direction. Speaker 1 00:09:46 And the reason for that is that Trump does not become president. And until the beginning of 2017, but already this trend line is four years old. By the time Trump comes along. So that's a, it can't be that Trump is a driver of it. Now he might be responsive to it and riding a certain wave and so on. And then, then the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, we can set that hypothesis aside as well, because Parkinson comes to remind me, when was that late 2016 on into 2017 is when Jordan Peterson becomes a superstar intellectual as well. So something is happening in around this time. So then what we need to do is start looking at some other hypotheses, uh, that perhaps what has happened is, and one hypothesis would be, is that there's a major change of editorial policy at certain major news outlets, right? Or there is the appointment of, of a new editor in chief, right? Speaker 1 00:10:45 Uh, and so different staffing is coming on board. At that time. It could be a broader cultural phenomenon that what we're getting into is say second generation or third generation postmodernism, postmodernism conquered certain elements of the culture, say in the 1990s. And then we have a whole generation of students who were educated in that, uh, philosophical framework and that cultural framework, they come to positions of prominence by the time they in their thirties or perhaps early forties. But by then, we're now talking about, uh, uh, the, the, the early 2000 and tens 2013 and so forth. And so it's a reflection of those educational trends. Now this slide is just a, a further breakdown for each of the key words and there's timelines. So I have the link to the, uh, to the, uh, to the paper it's right there. I can send this, I'll put it in the chat. Speaker 1 00:11:36 And as soon as I'm done chatting here as well here, for example, there is a focus on the New York times, uh, and all of these are the words that are focused on. And what we can see is it's a steadily increasing use of those particular words at the New York. Now, if the trend line is going up, uh, in the major news media outlets, at the same time, you're doing surveys of the broader culture and people are saying, I don't have any problem with, uh, with people of other races. I think racial attitudes are pretty good. Then that tends to undermine the hypothesis that it's a racist culture. And the media is only reporting that, and it tends to support the hypothesis that what is going on is the media, the major media outlets that are being looked at here are starting to prioritize and push certain concepts and to shape the narrative rather than simply being a responsive to, and, and reporting. Speaker 1 00:12:32 Now, this a, of course has a broader issue. This is just one set of issues about objectivity in the media, the media being clear about when it's doing reporting, when it's doing opinion icing, and when it's actively trying to shape the media we want, and we're fine within a free society, the media trying to do all three of those things, but we as savvy consumers need to know when news media is reporting when it's editorializing, and when it's trying to push a narrative that might not in fact be true of, uh, of, of, of, of the culture. So I want to do a draw your attention in case you're not familiar to it, to our whole, uh, now Atlas university course, we've rebranded the waterfall courses as Atlas university and Atlas intellectuals that four week six, there's a primmer on objective journalism. Uh, I did want to say there's another hypothesis that work aside from the media trying to drive the narrative. Speaker 1 00:13:26 And that is that there are things that are going on, uh, in, uh, in, in political circles as well. Uh, the United States government over the last two to three administrations has become increasingly unfriendly toward press freedom. And so there's a very good measures that are reported in this, uh, this primmer on objective journalism. So for example, uh, I'll just highlight these ones as well, uh, that, uh, you know, for the last five years, the United States has ranked of all of the nations in the world, uh, in the forties for press freedom. So that is to say there's 40 countries in the world that have significantly better press freedom than the United States that should, of course be a deep source of embarrassment for Americans who take first amendment seriously take being the nation of Liberty seriously. Uh, but it has been a downward trend over the course of the last three administrations. And it's a, and it's well measured. Now, this is not a media driven thing. This is a largely responsive to the kinds of policies that mostly the federal government is putting in place with respect to press freedom. So that's another thing to worry about, okay, I'm going to stop at that point. Uh, but I do commend to your attention. This paper by Rosato is worth drilling down into, and I'll put the link in the, uh, in the chat now. Speaker 0 00:14:48 Fantastic. Thank you, Steven. Richard, um, any, any thoughts or reflections on what Steven just shared? Speaker 2 00:14:55 Yes. I would want to ask in the graphs that breakout, uh, by right center and left media, I'm noticing that all parts of the spectrum share in the rise. So what do you make of that? That it's not, I mean, I'm in many ways the argument it's ubiquitous, it's not just the left wing. Yeah. And there's the right way is picking it up as well. Speaker 1 00:15:21 Right. Uh, w what the data do seem to show is if you break all of the, the news media outlets, so you take, say the top 47, you say, here are the ones that are left of center, or the ones that are right of center. And here are the ones that are centrist. It's the ones that are right of center significantly or left of center. They're the ones who are using these words a whole lot more, the centrist news, media outlets aren't doing so, or they're doing so with a significant time lag after the other one. But also when, uh, when you look more closely, it does seem to be that the right leaning media are more reactive to left leaning. So it's like a one or two or three month gap. Then they pick up, oh, this is what we're talking about now. Right. Speaker 1 00:16:04 And they start using those, uh, those words. And in many cases, now this is more, uh, data drilling down than I had done. But from what I've sent so far, is that a lot of it is reactive. So you'll have the right leaning media saying, look what the New York times said about racism, and then just disagreeing with that. So it does seem that it's the more left leaning ones that are starting and, uh, the, the narrative and the others are in, uh, a follow-up visit, follow the leader type of position. But that's a very interesting follow-up question. Speaker 2 00:16:37 And are the points about Peterson and Trump, are those points that you're making Steven? Or are they in the, Speaker 1 00:16:43 Yeah, those are my, those are my glosses. Yes. For sure. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:16:46 Those are not causative. What does the paper suggest is the cause of the rise this upswing, do they Speaker 1 00:16:53 Suggest they don't, they don't, Speaker 2 00:16:55 They're just, Speaker 1 00:16:57 Yeah. And actually, they, they are very careful to go out of their way to say, we're not going to do any normative or interpretive stuff on this. Just here's the data, here's our methodology and so on, but there is huge risk for the mill, for those who are interested in the normative questions. Speaker 0 00:17:14 Fascinating. And, you know, I, um, I also would not have associated Jordan Peterson with, with racism in, in any respect. Um, so I also wonder, you know, to what extent, uh, that these aren't necessarily developments of whether political candidates, political leaders, public intellectuals, who are promoting, um, a sort of ethnic sentence ethnocentric point of view, but maybe sh are just promoting a different narrative or different than a kind of conventional one. And the response is rather than, well, I take issue with how you're looking at, you know, reason or critical thinking, um, or individual merit, let's say. And, uh, just saying, well, you're, you're, uh, perspective as a sense of, and therefore it's racist. You know, we've all heard racism as a, as a rejoinder, uh, applied to a lot of different, um, non-conventional perspectives. Speaker 2 00:18:22 I mean, one major event that did occur at this turning point that I know is not really an event, but BLM began in 2014 and largely so under Obama and reaction to events like Charlottesville and the Trayvon Martin case, which Obama himself elevated up into the national discussion. That's just a suggestion, but I wonder, I wonder, Speaker 1 00:18:49 So if we're interested in a political explanation, right, we might talk about what's going on, right with Trump, but also a 2013 is the beginning of the second term of the Obama administration. So one argument you can make is that groundwork was laid for four years, and then things took off, uh, in the second year. Um, and again, I don't, uh, have enough data and analysis to be able to, uh, put much weight into that, uh, that hypothesis as well, just to come back quickly though, to Jag's comment about Jordan Peterson, I think you're right. Uh, there are, uh, lots of catch all accusations by his enemies that he's a kind of racist or a crypto racist and so forth. Uh, but in this discussion, I was just using racism is one particular issue with respect to Peterson. It's more the, the, the misogyny charges that get leveled at him and other aspects of a bad thing that, uh, that he's charged with. Speaker 0 00:19:48 Got it. All right. Well, um, fast forwarding from, uh, the Obama administration through Trump, to our current circumstances. And, uh, the, uh, the most recent major announcement out of the white house was Biden's, uh, national address announcing new vaccine mandates using the, uh, the OSHA, the office of, um, of the safety and health, um, occupational safety and health administration to, uh, require that all companies with 100 or more employees, um, mandate vaccines. Uh, he also talked about, again, repeating a, a pandemic of the unvaccinated expressing frustration. And, um, and in patients, you know, with, with the, uh, the rate of vaccination, uh, and next week, we're going to have, uh, our, as our guest, Dr. Scott Atlas. So we're going to be able to talk perhaps about some of, um, the medical aspects of, of this, but, uh, but Richard, you know, what was, what's your take, you, you also had brought to our attention, you know, I think it's really important to remember vine Rams take on inoculation and, and a lot of what she said back then also seems to apply to, to what we're dealing with right now, uh, that we're talking about. Speaker 0 00:21:25 He wants to protect the people who are protected against the people who are not protected with the same protection that affected people have that requires protection. So it's just, it's a little bit confusing. Maybe you can break it down. Speaker 2 00:21:44 It is the reason I think this one's important to focus on is one it's truly unprecedented, but that's probably the one word we've been using too much in the past year. Everything is unprecedented. I do remember a panel we had last year on authoritarianism, and I think this is part of the authoritarian move. Now, what, what to me is so striking about it is how authoritarian it is in what I would call the late stage of the epidemic. Meaning the weak stage. Yes, there's a, yes, there's a Delta of variant and things like that, but it's not anywhere near as lethal. So you couldn't even argue that it's a pragmatist, a panic reaction to anything serious. So if that's true, then it's, it smells much more like a power grab. Now these are the same people who say, follow the science and, and, uh, JAG. Speaker 2 00:22:34 You're absolutely right. There's no science behind this at all. Authoritarianism is bad enough, but when it's backed by pseudo science, it's, it's kind of scary. So a couple of things I'm interested in whether this is going to be challenged constitutionally, I, there is some, uh, indications that it will be. So the first one is unequal treatment. Some companies and industries are arguing that it's arbitrary to carve out a hundred as the number of employees. And that certainly is arbitrary. But if the solution to that was well, all companies, including those below a hundred are treated with authoritarian measures. I wouldn't be so happy about that. There's a certain arbitrary in as to it as well, because even though you might think the federal government itself can make its own employees do this, the reach here is that he's making private companies do it, but even within the public workforce, something on the order of 680,000 postal workers are exempt. Speaker 2 00:23:31 So how crazy is that here? You have a part of the federal workforce, which most interacts with the public, uh, every day and that's, and for some reason he doesn't think they should be vaccinated. It also of course undermines the whole claim that the vaccines work, uh, there isn't any attention to what's called natural immunity or herd immunity, which is building in the population. So, um, I I'm, uh, on the, on the good news part, which is really the tail end of our discussion. I think there is some pushback that's interesting, but for the most part, people are accepting this lying down. And to me, that's, um, very disturbing. I just want to mention, uh, to get away from the details a little bit, um, the philosophy behind this, I agree with the Dr. Hicks, we should be doing current events, but also from the standpoint of exploring, where is this coming from from a deeper, a philosophic perspective and that, and then we probably should end with what I ran said about this, which I think is actually very mixed. Speaker 2 00:24:29 I, I Enron's issue on this is somewhat mixed with might interest that the listeners there's something called the precautionary principle, which may be almost no one has heard of, but I believe me, it's behind the scenes and it's been an academia and growing. And if I said to you, we should live our lives with caution, you know, and not be reckless risk takers. And most people would say, well, of course not, some people take more risks than others. And so it's just, you know, rational in many contexts to, to have caution, but the idea of precaution, which is what the precautionary principle is, is the idea that we be, we should be super sensitive to things that might cause us to be cautious. So it's like one step removed and it's a whole movement. And I don't even know what you would call it. There's a journals, a risk assessment, there's journals or risk analysis. Speaker 2 00:25:24 They apply these to climate change models. They apply these to epidemiology. They apply these to workplace incidents, but what has happened is they have supercharged the whole idea of taking risks and they've set up a standard, which is so platonic and actually so fear inducing that is causing people to not do things within the norms of like low risk. Uh, and that's what's happening, I think in COVID it isn't just that there are these problems with the world health organization, the CDC, the FDA, the authoritarianism and Biden. There is also this kind of philosophic fuel being given to it by, uh, this push again, to say that you shouldn't just be risk averse, you should be massively risk averse. You know, almost to the extent where you live in a bubble and this isn't infected, even by the way, parenting, for those of you who know what helicopter parents are, parents who try to immunize their children have many kinds of failure or risks, uh, at all. Speaker 2 00:26:28 So, uh, for those of you who want to dig into it, that's what it is. It's a very odd and damaging, I think, approach called the precautionary precautionary principle. And unless we back there are peaks of it, by the way, if you just look up critiques of the very principle, there are some philosophers of science and others who are trying to push back at this, but I don't think they're succeeding at this point. So, um, I, I thought now I would turn to, if you can put it up, I did. I don't know if this is available as a slide, but <inaudible> actual comments about vaccines. Um, Lawrence, are you able to put that up so the audience can watch it? Or should I just read from my copy of it going up now? Okay. Speaker 0 00:27:14 And while he's doing that, I did want to also just mention for the record, we are not against vaccines. We are for vaccines. I have been vaccinated. I am not going to ask our scholars their vaccine status, but, uh, th the vaccines are, are working reasonably well to, uh, to prevent serious illness. Um, but what we're discussing right now is the issue of, of mandating it and the philosophical issue of who should be the ones to be making those Speaker 2 00:27:46 Absolutely absolutely important to say. And the, this issue is, you know, control of your own body, but it's also an issue of rights. And to the extent you're harming others. So the plausibility here is the perfectly natural legal theory of torts, which is a wrong if you're doing wrongs to others, the government does have a role in either. Now, whether it has a preventative role is, is a dispute, but certainly in terms of restitution, the civil courts themselves deal with harming others. So to the extent you're infecting others, um, there's a role here. Now, this is interesting because this is from way back in 1963. And she was asked about this, and this is in a Q and a, and I just want to read this because there, there are two different answers. One's on vaccines and the next one's on quarantine. And the answer on the vaccines is very interesting. Speaker 2 00:28:32 If you think about what we're going through now, so let me read this. She says, now requiring inoculation or vaccines against diseases, should this be a job for the government? She says, most definitely not. And there's a very simple answer for it. If it is a medically proved, the certain inoculation is in fact, practical and desirable, then those who want it will take that inoculation. Now, if some people do not see it that way, do not agree, or don't want to take it only. They will be in danger since all the other people will be inoculated. That's the key phrase, by the way, those who do not go along, if they're wrong in this case will merely catch the disease. They will not be a danger to anyone else. And nobody has the right to force others to do anything for their own good, against their own judgment. Speaker 2 00:29:22 They will merely be ill. Then they could not infect others on. Now, before I read the one about, well, I'm not going to read the one about quarantine, because there she says, the government does have a right to quarantine people if they're already infected, but she says they do not have the right to quarantine people who are not affected. So I'm going to set that aside for a moment because the current controversy is a vaccination. Now notice what she says when she says, since all the other people will be inoculated unquote, that is exactly what Biden is saying is not true. So he's not saying that we, whoever vaccinated are going to harm others, and he's not even saying I'm forcing all the unvaccinated to get vaccinated. Um, because I, um, you know, I care about them infecting others. Even if we're vaccinated, he's talking about two groups that are unvaccinated and they're basically facing each other and infecting each other. Speaker 2 00:30:20 And I believe I Iran's answer here is, well, one of them is really guilty and the other one is not. So the, I think the problem here is that even if Biden was benevolent about this, and, and even if an objectivist say were in charge of this, they would still face this difficulty. I believe, unless I'm reading this wrong, they would still face this difficulty of how do you classify someone today who was unvaccinated and is not threatening me? I'm I happen to be vaccinated, but they're threatening other unvaccinated people. I think the only answer you could give is the vaccination is available. It's not as if it's not easily attainable. It's not even as if there's no evidence that it works. But I think this is what is making some people a fuzzy about this whole policy. And, and before I did this research on other aspects of the plan, I did a little digging, Justin Ko, call it our side of the field. Speaker 2 00:31:16 And I did not know this until the last week or so, but I researched probably a dozen scanned, a dozen libertarian journal papers from libertarians about exactly this issue, uh, whether the government, to what extent the government can mandate vaccines. And the papers are very, very mixed. Some of them take a very strict light's based argument, my body, my choice, I decide what goes in or out of it. But I was surprised at the number of essays that go the other way and invoke the principle of, you know, as you can imagine, liability toward others. And, and so I've actually come away from this with a less firm view, uh, not endorsing the Biden authoritarian approach, but I, I think I am much more conscious of how you negotiate this problem of people harming each other. And it's especially difficult of course, with an infectious disease, because what, what's the principle always in tort, if you can bring forth the evidence that shows a direct and material impact, then you can get compensation. Speaker 2 00:32:21 But if it's anything murkier than that, you know, you don't really have a case. And the problem with infectious diseases is, is it's murky. And for those who say, I don't want it to be murky their net with an authoritarian answer that says good, then we'll do contract God, contact tracing. And if you know what contact tracing is, that's the government or your employer literally invading every part of your life saying, who do you meet in the last week? You know, who did you possibly infect? I'm not sure we want to go down that route. And yet the challenges that is the kind of information that would be required to make people liable. So I'll stop there. I know there's a lot there and I'm sure I'll get pushed back on a lot of these things, but I just wanted to bring that. So 0.1, I think this is an authoritarian move and very wrong. On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure what our position should be on, on people harming each other when they're not vaccinated. Speaker 1 00:33:18 Yes. Right. Uh, I was, uh, checking off points. I wanted to make, uh, to make sure I don't duplicate what Richard says. So I, uh, I second pretty much everything that Richard Richard said. Let me just say with respect to Biden's mandate, I understand it has three parts to it. One is requiring employees of the federal government with some bizarre exceptions. I've got a, I agree that's entirely hipper hypocritical, uh, what Richard is saying, but I do want to, uh, to caution any one's against, you know, whatever the government does is bad and I'm opposed to it. The government as an employer has the same rights that any employer does to, uh, to a certain conditions of employee meant, and employees have an equal rights to accept or, or, or not into possibly impose their own conditions as well. I think also, uh, the, the government as a vendor and as a broker, dealing with businesses as a right to set the terms of the, the business agreement there's going there. Speaker 1 00:34:16 So if you want to do business with the government, you can set your terms. It can set the terms right. And so on. So the real problem here is a quite rightly what, uh, Dr. Salzman is focusing on the requirement that private businesses, uh, mandate that their employees be the, uh, B B vaccinate. I think that is a huge problem. It is. I agree at authoritarian power grab and why the authoritarianism is so naked. Uh, that's an interesting question. I do want to highlight a couple of philosophical principles that are, that are behind it. Uh, it is a sacrifice of the principle of freedom. And I think that that's important. I mean, a lot of businesses are saying, I think this is there. They're going along with it because what we're already, uh, you know, pushing and making your employments do it. So we don't have any problem with the government telling us that we should do. Speaker 1 00:35:05 And there's a difference between you doing it voluntarily because you think it's the right thing to do it. And you not having the right to make that choice, the government telling you, you have to do it. So what in effect, the government is doing to large businesses to say, we do not trust you to do the right thing. And so we are going to make you do the right thing, and that should be extraordinarily insulting to anybody who's in any sort of management position at any large businesses, who are you to tell us that we don't know how to responsibly look after our employees deal with our customers and so forth, back off right. And so forth. And of course there is the arbitrariness of the 100. And you know, that number was just pulled out of somebody's hat. I don't know what it was. Speaker 1 00:35:49 It's kind of, it's weird. Uh, I got the, the only thing I can think of as they, they want to, in some sense, say, uh, we, we don't want to come across as unfriendly to small business, but they're coming from a background political perspective that is suspicious of big business. And so it's okay to go after big business, but I don't, it's by analogy, I was thinking suppose they were talking about families. And when they were said, well, we're going to mandate that families have to, everybody in the family has to be vaccinated, but only if you have more than five people in your family, right. If you've got fewer than five people in your family, we don't really care. Don't worry about it. It's like, it's bizarre. So the arbitrariness of it is weird. I don't think they're all serious about the, a, about the 100 number. Speaker 1 00:36:31 I think also the, uh, the underestimating of the self-responsibility and rationality of most people is, is appalling in this particular case. So like Richard, I looked at some numbers, uh, right now, 75% of working age Americans have had at least one vaccine. So if you say, I agree with this position backseat, good idea, responsible person will get vaccinated, protect yourself. Uh, don't be a risk to other people. And so on, uh, that then already is to say, seventy-five percent of adults, Americans that actually, uh, people who are older than working age, the, the vaccination rates are much, much higher. So 75% of the population, they get it, they're doing the right thing by their own judgment, by their own initiative. They don't need the nag in chief to command them, to go out and get the vaccine. So what we then have is the issue of the remaining 25%. Speaker 1 00:37:29 And I think the clearer minds in the, uh, in the, in the administration, they're focusing on that 25%. Now, it's kind of an interesting mix again, when I looked at some of these numbers as well, um, there is a political party ideology issues. You find a whole lot more vaccine skepticism among some segments of the, of the Republican party. It's much less in some segments of the democratic party, but it also, there is an interesting racial, ethnic mix, Asian Americans by far have something close to 80% vaccination rate. White Americans, I think is somewhere around 60%. And then it's a, it's much below 50% for both Latinos and for, for black Americans. So that might of course be, uh, also a political issue that among those racial minorities, they are more distrustful of the things that are coming from big government or authoritative institutions, right. Speaker 1 00:38:26 And so on. But whatever the constitution of that 20%, I think that's what, they're what they're thinking about. Now here, I want to introduce, uh, uh, uh, the compliment terms. There is a kind of paternalism that's working with and motivating the authoritarianism. So I think what's really going on is it's the problem of the remaining 25%. And the administration really is saying, we think you are irresponsible. You are not going to do the right thing. And so this is literal paternalism where your dad, where your mom, we're going to make you do the right thing. And so it's a kind of a naked paternalism, uh, that's doing it, but it's also a kind of altruism. Uh, and that is, I think the thing that the 75% who are responsible people need to worry about because what they seem to be saying is in order to protect everybody from these 25%, uh, what we need to do is sacrifice everybody's principle of Liberty in order to make sure that these sort of 25%, these weaker you're responsible people get protected and so on. Speaker 1 00:39:31 So it's a kind of altruism sacrificing the principle of Liberty for the majority of Americans who are smart and responsible in order to help the people whom they think of as weekend irresponsible. So it's a very toxic, I think, mix of a certain kind of altruism, a certain kind of paternalism that's coming out in a, in a, uh, in an authoritarian form. Um, I just want to put a couple of things out there since Richard mentioned precautionary principle. I don't know if we could have a whole other discussion based on that one as well, but I think, uh, uh, one of the behind the scenes, uh, issues, I don't know that it's talked about here is, uh, a disagreement about what the benchmark should be for dealing with COVID and various other kinds of things that are risks, right? And so on. And I think what is driving the administration and some of their fellow travelers is that they've set the benchmark at 100% elimination, and that's what they're striving for. Speaker 1 00:40:32 And they will do whatever it takes to get to 100% elimination for many other people. I think the standard they are looking at is this is a risk risks comes in degrees, risks also have trade offs, and we should not strive for 100%, but we should leave everybody wiggle room to make their own judgment about what the manageable trade-off is going to be. So COVID is just like one, any other risks that we have out there in life. And I think there's a, a close to the surface, but not quite explicit enough disagreement over what that standard should be for us to strive for. And then of course, uh, the issue that Jack mentioned along the way, whatever that standard is going to be and whatever the right standard should be well, who gets to make that decision, is it a government decision, or should we all be able to make our own risk assessment decisions? So I'll stop there for now. Speaker 0 00:41:26 Thanks, Stephen. I thought what you've mentioned about what's being communicated to those who are managing businesses, that the government knows better than they do, uh, how to take care of their employees, how to take care of their operations and their customers. But I think that in what Biden, um, communicated, there's also a lack of respect, uh, for the people who are unvaccinated. We are, uh, we're making, uh, equivalent a choice to be unvaccinated and meaning that you are there for, uh, an infectious, contagious, um, a threat to others. And, uh, back in August of last year, there was a, uh, a study in, I think, nature, which at that point had estimated that 30% of Americans had already contracted and recovered from COVID here. We are more than a year later. Uh, no part of the discussion very little has been given to something that has been around forever, which is no natural immunity. And, uh, only more recently there has been a public acknowledgement about, um, the research that shows that it's a thing it's actually a thing. It may even be a very good thing and possibly even a superior thing. So, uh, to justice Speaker 1 00:43:02 And I to take that compliments nicely Richard's point about the, uh, the bad science or at least, uh, elements of science that are strategically being set to the side in order to make another kind of political point. For sure. Speaker 2 00:43:14 Uh, and not just that one, there are studies showing that if you already have herd immunity, now what they call natural immunity, then getting the vaccine can be more dangerous. And so by Biden is basically mandating that people do not, who do not have vaccine papers must get the vaccine. These people already got COVID and that's very dangerous. I, by, by the way, I think it's really important leveraging off of what the Dr. Hicks said. I think one of the important things going on here, if you notice closely is mandating that companies do this, this takes the pressure off of anger toward the government. I don't know if you remember, but a couple of months ago, people started talking about the government going door to door, making sure people were vaccine vaccinated, push back. Yes. If you remember, there was all sorts of pushback. And I think some of the government officials thought, okay, that could be dangerous. Speaker 2 00:44:02 There's going to be many altercations. Okay. But to turn around and say, well, we'll still get you, but we'll get your employer to get you. I think is very insidious. It's, it's a kind of fascistic move. Fascism is known for not nationalizing companies, but using them as vehicles for the government that you companies become appendages of the government. So for all intents and purposes, at least on this policy, every company in the country is basically a department of OSHA. That's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting. And it diverts animosity from people we're being forced to do these things to their own employers, not to the government who is actually mandating it, but their employers. So it is so it folds in something like a cancel culture as well. You don't get this vaccine, you're going to lose your job. Not you're gonna lose your health or your pay is going to be docked or something. You literally can't go to work. I mean, that to me is just so disgusting. Uh, they used to, for years have mandated benefits, you know, employee leave and parental leave and everything, and now we're getting mandated costs. So some companies are just repositories for government dictates either. You must, you must provide these benefits or you must impose these costs, but at least the politician, isn't doing it according to the recipients of the, of the action. Speaker 0 00:45:22 So we have a less than 15 minutes left. Uh, so, uh, we did get a few questions coming in here about our discussion, including one from our friend David Horowitz, uh, who has a hypothesis. Is it possible that the Biden administration is not intentionally making a power grab, but instead, uh, that their motivation could be to provide cover for those businesses that might want to mandate vaccinations, but are afraid on the other side of the spectrum of, uh, politicians, such as the governors of Florida and Texas who are saying businesses aren't allowed to, to mandate vaccinations. Speaker 1 00:46:10 Well, yeah, that's an interesting question. I think a would have to get the data on it, go talk to some CEOs and see if that's what they're saying. If they're welcoming it for that reason, I'd be open to that for sure. Speaker 0 00:46:23 Uh, okay. Well, this one might be for you, Richard, since you were also a fellow at a I E R M Z Ben 64 on YouTube asks any thoughts on the great Barrington declaration. And I'll add to that Zyban. You might want to, uh, to check out a previous interview that we did with Jeffrey talker on the subject. Speaker 2 00:46:45 Yes, I was in, uh, being at air indirectly. I was I a fan of them doing that. I thought it was a bold move. The idea of picking the name of the town, that great Barrington instead of the institution, I think was interesting that that's not unprecedented that's that's happened before, but I think it enormously, uh, centralized the argument in one place that, uh, the lockdowns worth our Tarion. They weren't really science. I don't really know of any other think tank or Institute that did as well as air did in 2020 pushing back. And that includes some of the more free market oriented ones. So, uh, you know, the short answer is I was a fan of great bearing declaration and most of the people up at air were as well. There was some dissenters worrying about bad publicity, but the, the outages, uh, even bad publicity is good publicity. And it's certainly put air on the map a little bit too, to this day, you still hear references to the great Barrington declaration. It's pro science, it's pros, Liberty it's pro capitalism. So it's an important declaration about public health and how to do it. Right. Speaker 0 00:47:53 Fantastic. All right. Well, we have a few other questions. Some of which may be more suitable for a conversation of our Atlas intellectuals with, uh, professor Hicks or our morals and markets, uh, with professor Salzman. So I'm going to commend our viewers to, uh, to check out the Atlas university section of our website, check out the events section, uh, questions about the fed and various issues, uh, uh, we'd love to get to, but, uh, we were in search of some good news and, um, maybe debatable among, uh, the diversity of people watching this, uh, this webinar, but, uh, professor Salzman tell us, uh, what, what you found that you wanted to put out as soon as the thought Speaker 2 00:48:41 Those of you have a more secular bent. I couldn't resist the very odd, uh, headline that I heard a couple of day, a couple of weeks ago, Harvard chaplain nominated or appointed is an atheist. All right. So chaplains are supposed to be religious leaders and guidance. Now he's the head chaplain. So apparently they have a hierarchy of chaplains to handle, but the fact that they pick an atheist for the first time. So I read it, I'm thinking why the universities are known for trying to make the kids be religious. So that part of it didn't surprise me. It was just the idea of, well, why would they go out of their way to name a chaplain who was an atheist, but in the process of looking at that, and I don't know if you have this Lawrence, if you can put it up on the screen in the process of reading that, uh, story and that it was just a story. Speaker 2 00:49:27 It did cite statistics. That that was interesting. That 40% of Harvard freshmen are not religious. And that surprised me. I at duke, I don't do a poll of duke kids, but, uh, that surprised me now that the categories, you see the pie charts here, the categories, and I did this little table on the top left. I did that myself, uh, agnostics and atheists. And if you look, uh, they do this every year. So I took the last four years, and it's not only a big chunk, 40%, but it's been growing. I can't see that earlier number, but back in 2017, it was 32%. So in 2017, a third of the incoming freshmen, you know, we had no religious affiliation and now it's 40% and growing. So anyway, the point of the article was perhaps, that's why they picked the chaplain who was not religious. I just wanted to add to this, and I don't have much, not much more than this is this good news or bad news. Speaker 2 00:50:23 I mean, I am a rational pro-rata pro and secular thinker. And so I applaud this, but I just wanted to say it's perfectly possible. And maybe even probable there's many ways to get to atheists. I mean, one of them would just be, you're a skeptic. So skepticism basically says, I don't believe in anything by the way, including God. Okay. So that's a flimsy, it's at least not religious, but it's a kind of flimsy way to get to it. You could also be kind of a Marxist materials and philosophically materialism says, basically there's no consciousness. You know, there's no, uh, higher elements even in the human mind. So of course it's not going to be a supermind like, God. Um, now there is an irrational road to that. You know, if you just go by reason and the evidence of the senses, you would say, uh, I'm not religious. I don't know how many of the Harvard students are in that vein. But I think in general, I would rather see a freshman class of college students coming in less religious rather than more religious than I would be hoping to introduce them. The idea of being non-religious for rational reasons. Speaker 0 00:51:29 Um, we have a question from, from mark Shoup asking would not an atheist chaplain be an anti conceptual development. Speaker 2 00:51:39 Uh, it depends on whether he was just coming in as anti-God. I mean, if he only got up at the lectern every day and said, by the way, I still don't believe in God. Yes, that would be anti the anti conceptual anti intellectual. But if he got up and said, the reason I don't believe in God is I believe we should have a more enlightened view of how to live your life and morals. And let me tell you what that is, or that could be a very good sermon or whatever they call them. That's a good question though, mark. Yeah. You don't want anti intellectual ism either. Speaker 0 00:52:11 Good news. Bad news. Speaker 1 00:52:13 Yeah. I just wanted to piggyback on this. There is in the Catholic tradition. Uh, I also am secular, but I, I track some of these developments, a longstanding, uh, fact that a significant number of priests are not particularly religious. They, they like the lifestyle. Uh, know they're very well-educated in philosophy and theology and by the time they come to adulthood, they do not believe what Catholicism means or more broadly religion means to them as a certain moral code. And they're making a judgment that, so this particular institution is the best vehicle for me to pursue a certain kind of a social project, including comforting people and teaching people about morality and so on. So, uh, and even within non-Catholic traditions, you know, I don't know what you think about the Unitarians, but that's, you know, there's, there's all kinds of very soft versions of Protestantism. And it's hard to tell whether they actually believe in anything supernatural or not, and really what they are there for is the fellowship, the moral compass and, and, uh, and the, the social movement and so on. So I think this is continuous that, but it is, uh, it does make you smile when you first encounter it. That is Speaker 2 00:53:30 A really good distinction because Speaker 1 00:53:31 They Speaker 2 00:53:33 Just gets to this issue of the metaphysics. You, right. It just says, you believe in God, it doesn't say what about a sermon on the Mount Judeo-Christian ethic? You're right. If he gets up and says, I don't believe in God, but I believe in Jesus, his teachings, right? It's not atheism, but it's also not rational legalism. Speaker 1 00:53:50 Yeah. Good. Also, when you look at the various, the pew foundation does regular surveys of people's religious beliefs and what religious beliefs mean to them. But there is this long standing phenomenon in America. People who call themselves Christian, but they're not particularly Christian. And they weren't really a Christian until they got married and started having a family and religion was not really a part of their life, but they said, look, I want to raise my kids to be good kids and to have a social life and so forth. So they joined the church, but it's really not for metaphysical reasons. And it's a highly American, uh, secularized understanding of what Christianity or the religion happens to be about in our few remaining minutes though, I did want to mention one other good news item. Uh, now that we're at the beginning of the academic year, and that is the huge upsurge in homeschooling that has, uh, occurred, uh, at the start of this school year. Speaker 1 00:54:43 We started to see that, uh, last year with the people withdrawing their children from school, public schools, formally, uh, due to COVID and various other other issues. But I think it's a, it's a, it's a sign of health just in that the majority of public schools are documented the dysfunctional institutions. There are a huge waste of time. They are actually a positive, uh, pain, uh, for most children who have to put up with a larger amount of boredom for six or seven hours of their, of their particular days. Uh, but many parents of course, would just continue to send their kids to the public schools because they couldn't afford an alternative, or they thought they couldn't afford an alternative. Uh, but now, uh, parents who care about their children, and I think that's, most of them are fed up. They knew that the schools were not delivering the goods despite dramatic increases in funding problem is that the funding does not go to the teachers. Speaker 1 00:55:38 It goes to administrators and bureaucratic paper filter routers of various sorts, but schools are not delivering the goods, but until there's an alternative, most people will stay with a, a failed system as well. And one of the things that's encouraging is the development of all kinds of other alternatives. Uh, one of the things people will will say is the cost of education is going up and up and up, but I don't think that's true. I think the cost of schooling has gone up and up and the cost of education has gone down significantly burdened by the internet and all of the other things available. And now we have a savvy or generation of parents, young parents who are just now aware of how much resources are available to them online. They can form their own social networks, uh, and so forth. And they are fed up with what they're seeing in the, in the public schools. Speaker 1 00:56:27 It's not just, you know, cognitive, uh, not delivering on basic math reading and, and communication types of skills. It's the, uh, the, the, the widespread, uh, ideological awareness of things like critical race theory and other forms of postmodern inspired. Uh, and now we see are seeing a movement going, uh, looking actively for positive alternatives. Now, I don't think that the homeschooling movement is going to be a longterm trend because, because, uh, doing homeschooling is a serious commitment. I think this is a waystation or a halfway house. That's going to work in parallel with the development of lots of other kinds of educational institutions, building new platforms, uh, and that, uh, many of the parents who are trying homeschooling, they will never send their kids back to public schools. Some of them will stick with homeschooling, but there's a huge entrepreneurial now, uh, opening for alternative platforms. And I think we'll see that field. And I think that's just good news. Speaker 0 00:57:25 Good news indeed. And so we're going to end on that highlight of a good news. I want to thank our scholars, professor Hicks, professor Salzman for, for joining us and for this excellent conversation. I want to encourage, uh, those who have joined us today to consider supporting the Atlas society. If you are benefiting and driving value from this kind of weekly programming from our other, uh, educational publications, pocket guides, uh, animated videos, uh, and if you are a donor, um, then we hope you'll join us tomorrow. I'm going to be posting a donor happy hour at, uh, 4:00 PM. My time 7:00 PM east coast time. So, uh, we'd love to see you there. We'll get to know each other, um, get your feedback, ideas, criticism, what have you on, uh, what we're doing and what we should be doing. And then again, please, um, consider joining us next week. Uh, at the regular time I'm going to be interviewing, uh, Dr. Scott Atlas, a former member of the coronavirus task force under the Trump administration and, uh, currently a senior fellow at the Hoover institution. He said, thanks everyone. And we'll see you soon. Speaker 1 00:58:52 Okay.

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