Month: January 2020

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Faith and Family Play a Bigger Role in Academic Achievement Than Race or Socioeconomic Status

The phrase “achievement gap” refers to the well-documented discrepancies between the scholastic achievements of African American and Latinos on the one hand and white students on the other. What explains the gap? My meta-analysis revealed that if an African American or Latino student was a person of faith and came from a two biological parent family, the achievement gap totally disappeared, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status.

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Institutions and the Culture War in 2020

In order to alleviate our social crisis, we will need to improve the moral formation that our institutions provide their members. Yet the institutions best suited to lead in this task are those with a religious mission, which in turn are imperiled by the culture war that elite institutions are waging against them. The cause of institutionalism today therefore requires a forceful defense against the aggressions of the cultural Left. Part two of a two-part review essay.

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Thinking and Acting Institutionally in 2020

In an important update to Aristotelian political thought, Yuval Levin’s new book shows that the health of a modern society depends on the health of its social institutions, and that our social institutions today are not healthy. Part one of a two-part review essay.

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Moral Standards and Legal Enforcement: The Debate on Free Speech, Continued

There are moral standards applicable to all forms of human behavior, including speech, but neither the existence of such standards nor even our acknowledgement of them entails that government should enforce them. Whether the government should enforce a given standard depends on the likely effects of such enforcement, and the sad history of censorship shows that empowering the government to suppress “immoral” or “offensive” speech is highly susceptible of abuse and results in serious violations of the rights we all have to engage in good speech and hear the good speech of others. Giving this power to government is wrong for the same reason that giving alcohol and automobiles to teenage boys is wrong.

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Cerian Contra Mundum

The story of Cerian Williams affirms the intrinsic value of the unborn, handicapped, dying, and all who do not fit the standards of a culture that insists on strength, not weakness, for admission to its elitist country club.

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Why Roe Must Go

All ideological fads eventually fade and collapse into disrepute, because they have no foundation in truth. “Pro-choice” ideology had its rise, which was based on the crude, reductionist falsehood that a human being in the womb is an anonymous, generic “bunch of cells.” Now, its central lie has been unmasked, and Roe is ripe for reversal.

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Aborting the Wanted Child

The unstated mythology of therapeutic “abortion care” is that pregnancies come in only two types: wanted pregnancies, all of which children are delivered, and unwanted pregnancies, all of which children are aborted. But that’s not true. At least one in seven abortions in the U.S. are of children that the mother reports were wanted. I recently found that the risk of depression, suicidality or anxiety disorders from such abortions was almost four times higher than for women who had aborted a child in an unwanted pregnancy. Mine is the first empirical study ever to examine these more distressing, invisible abortions.

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Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being

Active Christians exhibit greater current life satisfaction and are more likely to report that they are thriving. In addition, active Christians have higher levels of subjective well-being throughout the entire business cycle—not just in booms, but in the busts as well. Our results suggest that religion and religious communities will continue to play a driving role in helping people cope with change by keeping their eyes pointed towards the eternal even as storms surge around them.

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Classical Liberalism against Relativism

Robert Miller’s defense of free speech risks removing the moral ground that could explain the rightness or goodness of the freedom we seek to preserve. In place of a moral defense in principle, we would simply have a set of utilitarian guesses: that if we pretend we have no standards of judgment, things will work out better for us in the long run.

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Human Rights for Human Beings

Contrary to activists’ claims, other animals lack the rational faculties characteristic of human beings. Rationality is not some particular power humans have, but rather their distinctive manner of having powers. To describe a human being as rational does not describe properties requisite to qualify for a certain species or species’ right; rather it characterizes human nature itself.

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The Pediatric Endocrine Society’s Statement on Puberty Blockers Isn’t Just Deceptive. It’s Dangerous.

The Pediatric Endocrine Society recently issued a statement claiming that the effects of puberty-blocking medications on normal puberty are reversible. Has the FDA determined that there is scientific evidence to validate this claim? Have there been any rigorous long-term studies addressing this question? Is social transition truly harmless? Is it ethical to continue this experiment on children? The answer to all of those questions is no.

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Weak Data, Small Samples, and Politicized Conclusions on LGBT Discrimination

The measurement, analytic, and interpretive decision-making displayed in much (though certainly not all) of the LGBT discrimination and well-being literature is troubling, indicative of a lack of standards, poorly defined concepts, impressionistic conclusions derived from small numbers of interviews, the politicization of results, and the overall novelty of the field.

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Sympathy for the Devil in the Cultural Moment of 1969

Fifty years after Altamont, no clear-eyed observer of American culture can doubt that the demonic spirit of 1969 is still very much in the air in our country. This is how the evil of cultural destruction presents itself. It would be so easy to turn aside from it if all collapsed into ugly, nauseating chaos instantly as soon as the old cultural rules and restrictions were abandoned. But such things take time to materialize in their full wreckage.

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Loose Talk on Free Speech

If you really must attack other conservatives, take the time to figure out what they actually said and why, and interpret them charitably, the way you would wish to be interpreted. You owe this even to your enemies, but other conservatives are not your enemies but your friends. After that, have some definite arguments.

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On Virtue Politics

“Virtue politics” is modeled on the phrase “virtue ethics,” an approach to moral philosophy inspired by Aristotle and elaborated by the British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. “Virtue politics” describes the central concerns of Renaissance political philosophy. Like the ancient Greeks, the Renaissance humanists had a richer understanding of what the state has to do in order to encourage virtue.

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