The Delusional Demos Director

Before getting round to their director, Polly Mackenzie, let’s start with Demos.

Demos on Wikipedia

Their Twitter Bio

The last bit, “Based in London”, and it’s name, “Demos”, might be the only true parts of that bio line.

Think tank? Well, I’ve a couple of other posts related to their thinking. I’m not impressed. These were about a really sloppy piece on the Victoria Derbyshire, on the BBC News channel, and Carl Miller, of Demos, and their dubious ‘research’ milking the ‘Islamophobia’ craze.

BBC Victoria Derbyshire – Sloppy Islamophobia Journalism

Carl Miller of Demos Still Misfires on ‘Islamophobia’

Britain’s leading independent cross-party think tank? Really? Independent and Cross Party?

Well, they have done work for more than one party, but to say they are cross-party is a bit of a stretch. Independent? Not of thought.

From the Wiki page:

Demos was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director.

In the run-up to the 1997 general election it was seen as being close to the Labour Party, in particular its then leader Tony Blair.

On 9 August 2006, in a speech at a Demos conference, British Home Secretary Dr John Reid stated that Britons ‘may have to modify their notion of freedom’, as a result of his plans, claiming that freedom is ‘misused and abused by terrorists.’

Take a look at their 2018 accounts, here.

https://demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/application-pdf.pdf

And, after you’ve tried to work out the flow of money in and out, go to page 30 for some of their funders.

The Open Society Foundation. And who are they? You want to know what George Soros funds? Demos is one of his pets. Independent?

Don’t like the George Soros conspiracy theories? OK, let’s try another.

The Politics and Economics Research Trust. Did you know this report was produced by Charity Commission for England and Wales?

You can read more here: Politics and Economics Research Trust: case report

And here: Charity alleged to have illegally funded Brexit campaign groups – Questions over grants given by the Politics and Economics Research Trust to anti-EU groups, with potential for tax relief.

I can’t pretend to know everything Demos get up to, but to me, and having seen the work of the fabulous Carl Miller, it looks like a bunch of people that can’t get proper jobs so they sell their souls to anyone that will buy them and enjoy playing around in the dubious charity money-go-round, and call the work ‘research’.

So, what about their director, Polly Mackenzie? How much thinking does this head of a think tank do? More to the point, what’s the quality of this thinking?

Polly Mackenzie joined Demos as the new Director in January 2018. She previously worked for Nick Clegg from 2006 to 2015, helping to write the 2010 Coalition Agreement, and served as Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010-15

Well, that didn’t go too well did it.

Just curious, but did Polly have anything to with forming Nick Clegg’s opinions on the EU. Yes, I know her time with him was up to 2015, before Brexit EU Ref, but, well, ideas aren’t formed over night, are they, and when Nick Clegg laid into Nigel Farage about how saying there would be an EU Army was a dangerous fantasy, Nifty Nick had buggered off to Facebook just before Merkel and significant EU figures started telling us that not only was the EU starting an EU Army, but political and military fusion ought to be a future goal.

Anyway, whatever contribution Polly made towards Nicky Know Nothing’s demise, at least she is able to put her own thoughts down. Sadly, it doesn’t get any better.

Case 1 – Letting Children Vote – And Proxy Parental Votes

This is Polly’s recent piece in Unheard …

What if we gave children a vote? – The electoral system is inherently biased towards the 83% of the population who are over 18

Here are some of Polly’s bright ideas:

  • Children 10 and above should be able to vote. How hard is it for a ten year old to make a cross in the right place on a piece of paper?
  • Children under 10 shouldn’t be able to vote (come on, Polly’s not mad, you know). Instead, their parents should be able to cast a proxy vote on behalf of the infant (I presume only one parent gets to vote for each child, but which one? Not sure Polly has think-tanked this through).

You can read the delusional reasoning yourself. But here, for Polly’s benefit, are some objections.

The notion of a proxy vote is entirely counter to the principle of one-person-one-vote. Large families, religious conservative families, would in fact give multiple votes to the parents, as proxies. To say that such proxy voting parents were casting a vote for the children themselves is delusional. They would be casing a vote for themselves and their of how the world should be.

Childless people will be disenfranchised, because parents get 2 or more times their vote.

As for children themselves voting, there are several reasons why they should not, not least of which are the following.

We have limits on parent power. Parents cannot abuse their children. An anathema to this is the indoctrination of children into political and religious ideologies. We are not raising independently minded adults, but pre-programmed adults. It takes a lot of learning to realise the extent to which you’ve been indoctrinated, and some never get out of it. Jess Phillips, Labour MP, describes how she was taught a visceral hatred of Tories. The indoctrination of children into our main religious cults is a disgrace to civil society. Until both political and religious indoctrination are criminalised, and a rounded education in reason and science becomes the standard, we will not be producing independent minded rational adults, but victims and perpetrators of the tribal party and religious politics we have today.

Young teenagers are naturally rebellious, and are wide open to the political indoctrination by extremists. Labour’s Momentum know this – Corbyn’s Kids is not a neutral educational programme but a mind programming school. Many young people were so easily indoctrinated into extreme Islam, and left home to join ISIS. The Orthodox Jewish communities keep a tight control of their children, as do Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholics, and even ‘moderate’ Islam.

Why do you think the Humanists UK and National Secular Society are campaigning to stop and reverse the growth in faith schools.

Read Poly’s article. But just for fun, here’s a sample of Polly’s think-tanking.

“Will you let them drink and smoke, too?” – This is usually the first response I get when I propose enfranchising all citizens under the age of 18. The answer is, obviously, no. We have laws that prevent young people from drinking and smoking because these things are harmful. voting, by contrast, is not harmful; drawing an X on a ballot paper is substantially less dangerous than inhaling toxic smoke into your lungs.”

What? So, coerced voting of ten year olds, indoctrinated ten year olds, isn’t a danger? To society, and the better judgement of those children that have to live in the world they were coerced into voting for?

Polly, putting an unlit cigarette in a child’s hands and to a child’s lips is no more dangerous than putting a pencil in the mouth after drawing a cross on a piece of paper. However, to the child personally, the former could have longer term implications for the individual, if they were coerced to light it; but the latter could cause a far wider danger to themselves and society, if they were coerced to vote a particular way.

There are now many people that were indoctrinated into voting Labour – “I’m a life long Labour supporter.” But many such supporters are overcoming their own indoctrination because they can see before their eyes how Corbyn and Communist McDonnell are changing the party, and they have figured out that in their opinion they don’t like it. The same has been true of may Conservative voters. Many adults learn to change their minds for themselves. 

Children cannot. Do you imagine a ten year old having a conversation about the subtleties of Labour’s Socialism, McDonnell’s Communism, the entryism that’s been going on in the Labour Party for generations? No. They won’t even take an arbitrary lucky dip vote. Their parents will coerce them into voting for the parent’s preference.

And all the above doesn’t even begin to take into account the actual issues of brain development and maturity.

We should be worried about the indoctrinating abuse of children and their use in political vote rigging only somewhat less than psychological child abuse.

No, children should not be allowed to vote, and their parents should definitely NOT get extra votes because they have kids.

This piece by Mackenzie is idiotic. Yet she’s the director of Demos? And Carl Pilkington, sorry, Carl Miller (apologies to Carl Pilkington) is their Research Director, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media? Would you trust ANY of their output?

I can see why conspiracy theorists look to Soros. Throwing money at this bunch of clowns is top rate trolling.

Case 2 – Free Stuff Utopian Dreams

It was at this point I thought I’d have a look at Polly on Twitter. Interesting. Following what was obviously a quick lesson in economics by Labour’s John McDonnell’s free stuff promises, Polly gave it a critical eye.

Tweet – Nationalising Openreach is perfectly plausible. But why should broadband be free and not – for example – water, food, heating, clothes, all of which are rather more essential to the human condition.

You’d think Demos might have a director that have some feel for economics. Apparently not.

But, not to worry, Utopia is within reach for Polly …

Which manifesto? Only given Polly’s eagerness to indoctrinate voting children there are several to choose from.

So, for Polly’s benefit, what’s wrong with free stuff, state control and the removal of wages?

  • Eventually, workers don’t need money because everything is free. 
  • But workers are then dependent on the state alone. 
  • Result: oppression of workers that can have no independent means of survival so must comply with the state.
  • Check out some history. Hint: Soviet Union and its oppressed satellites; Moa’s China. The brutality of the party and the Dear Leader.
  • Political Utopias are no better than religious fantasies – they are used to control people.

Hylas And The Nymphs – A Local Visitor’s Perspective

Most people have jumped the gun. I did too – prepared to vent my indignation. I went to take a look on Saturday, the day the picture was put back.

The removal was a part of another project specifically planned to provoke discussion. The #MeToo and #TimesUp were the context, not the reason.

Here’s the gallery’s perspective in more detail:

Presenting the female body: Challenging a Victorian fantasy

Opposite the Nymphs picture is Sappho, by Charles Mengin – supposedly one of the most alluring images of the female body. And I have to say that’s not too far off the mark. And there are other provocative representations of naked and part naked women around the gallery.

As a male curator explained,

“If we wanted to censor, we’d have to remove maybe half our exhibits.”

To be honest, they seemed as thrilled by the negative responses as much as the positive. It might be worth noting the deep love of art that would be a natural part of a curator’s persona: the human body, which they may well have been exposed to in the flesh while studying. I don’t think we’re dealing with 3rd wave feminist prudes here (though I know nothing more about the curator or artist that were involved in the event).

The other charge was that it was a publicity stunt. Again, he said that had they intended that, there are a number of things they would have done differently … and would have been better prepared … which brings us to the post cards: it seems they sold out, so much was the demand. They were not removed, as many have claimed.

I had conversations with some other visitors there, those that, like me, saw it as censorship initially … they too were changing their minds.

And as far as the stated intent, it worked well. On Saturday the picture was put back, and the post-it notes left in place. And the outrage on display (again, of which I might have been a willing contributor) was as visceral as any that we might accuse SJWs of engaging in.

So, given the pre-planned project by the artist Sonia Boyce ( #MAGSoniaBoyce ), I’ll give the benefit of any remaining doubt to those who run my favourite local gallery.

And, as this the context was about #MeToo and #TimesUp, I thought I’d end with a sobering piece: Nobody’s Victim: An Interview with Samantha Geimer 

There are a lot of perspectives on these movements, and a lot of heated outrage, rather then healthy, if heated, debate.

Happy Christmas Santa; Bah Humbug Jesus

The Skeptical Teacher has a post on Santa.

In it he refers to Barbara Drescher’s post on An Argument for Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and (gasp!) Even Jesus.

I’d agree with Barbara Drescher’s positive view on Santa, as echoed in one of the comments, where the Lahurongirl’s son realised there was no Santa, but still wanted to maintain the story for his younger sister. I’ve seen the same insight and intention from children I know – which is just spoiler avoidance. There’s the implicit assumption that their younger siblings will get to the end of the Santa ‘novel’ too, one day, so why spoil it for them now.

But Barbara seems to take the point too far. Does Richard Dawkins really not like fiction for children? This seems more like Barbara is jumping on a journalistic bandwagon picking up on a simple quote, attributed to Dawkins:

Guardian:
[http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2008/oct/27/richard-dawkins-childrens-literature]
Quotes Dawkins: “…looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.”
And the author, Jean Hannah Edelstein, goes on to say, “Dawkins sounds to me not unlike the fundamentalist Christian mums who tried to get Roald Dahl’s The Witches banned from my primary school for fear that it would undermine what their kids had learned at Sunday school rather than acknowledging that sometimes, stories are just stories.”

Telegraph:
[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3255972/Harry-Potter-fails-to-cast-spell-over-Professor-Richard-Dawkins.html]
“I think it is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don’t know,” he told More4 News. (a reporting of a reporting then)

Double Think Online
[http://americasfuture.org/conventionalfolly/2008/10/27/richard-dawkins-scourge-of-fun/]
“Looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.”

All sadly similar. Seems like some quote mining has been going on.

But I’m not sure what the controversy is here. Dawkins is expressing a good scientific response to the question of the effect of stories on children – i.e. he doesn’t know, and would be interested in any research to that effect. I don’t think he’s claiming there is an effect. Unlike someone like Susan Greenwood, who has been the butt of Ben Goldacre’s ire for some time for her claims, without evidence, about the effects of some modern media, such as computer games.

Much fiction for young children, such as the Santa myth, is expressed as truth, knowing full well that as older children and as adults they will grow out of it, hopefully learn something positive about the susceptibility of humans to gullibility, and, in the mean time, enjoy some magical fantasy for a while. There minds are malleable enough to learn and later unlearn, so what’s the harm? How many adults do we know that still believe in Santa to make that fiction worth worrying about?

The significant difference with religion – and this is where I see Barbara as being wrong – is that these fictions are carried on seriously into adulthood. In a religious family and social environment there is specifically, usually, no opportunity or encouragement to challenge the religious dogma, and indeed the prospect some traumatic ostracism for doing so. In fact the strength of belief instilled in children by adults, and seen by children to be genuine beliefs in adults, is what does the long term damage and causes serious disability when it comes to applying critical thinking to those beliefs.

And, it doesn’t matter that “Religion is not a barrier to science literacy”, as Barbara puts it – Francis Collins and Ben Miller show this; as long as you limit the science that we are being ‘literate’ about. If you do apply the usual requirement for evidence to everything then the only rational conclusion about the source of the universe beyond what current science shows is, we don’t know. Now, that certainly does allow, as metaphysical speculations, some passive ‘natural’ explanation, or even some active ‘agency’ explanation – though the latter then needs explaining too. But none of this speculation is sufficient to warrant the subsequent claims by any of the main religions. So, in that wider scientific sense, deeply instilled religious belief is a barrier to science.

So, if the Jesus story was to become an acknowledged myth, like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, then that would be fine. But as yet it isn’t. The story of Jesus is a whole other industry, with a drive to capture the child’s mind (and the adult’s) as insidious as any capitalist behemoth advertising to children in order to sell the company’s wears; or, for religion, to buy the childrens souls.

Educational Fairness: Equality of Access, or Equality of Capabilites

See Stephen Law’s blog – Ban private schools? – the freedom issue. Is the topic addressing the underlying question?

It may be desirable that the possession of native wit should not be disadvantaged by school, or even by family. Does this mean that native wit should be positively advantaged – positive discrimination? Should the “better” (assuming greater native wit is better than lesser native wit) always be promoted above the “lesser” in order to achieve “equality”? Equality of what?

What’s the balance between promoting the better at the risk of leaving behind or discarding the lesser? Fairness appears to be an ever receding goal – a concept, like infinity. Try following these rules to achieve equality:

1) Make a consistent high quality education suddenly available to all (no resource or access problems). Those with higher native wit would be advantaged, since they’d make better use of it. So we need to address this imbalance, in rule 2.

2) Introduce corrective brain surgery to bring the lesser up to scratch with the better. Surely the “better” should have access to the same corrective surgery to improve their capabilities, so maintaining an imbalance. Well, we don’t have corrective surgery, so instead let’s just boost the education provided to the “lesser” – oops! Denial of service to the “better” and the breaking of rule 1.

Which is required, equal access to a service that improves your capabilities or equality of capabilities? This appears to be the basic question here.