30 July 2012

If Allah Wills It

    In the Middle East, planning discussions are regularly punctuated by Inshallah
“if Allah wills it.”  The status of a person’s health, wealth, and safety are believed to be inevitable.  Interviewees reported, “We don’t plan ahead,”  “We only act when a catastrophe happens,” and “If it’s going to come, 
then it will come.”

The question of HBD and the Arab might interest Western policy-makers for two reasons: Nation-building and Immigration. Whether we're imposing our political systems on them ('neo-colonialism') or inviting them en masse into our countries ('reverse colonialism?'), the deciders behind these things would do well to have a notion who they're dealing with.

The immigration question is especially salient. Western Europe has invited millions of Muslims (Arabs and others) into her bosom, with a variety of results...


...And so forth.

Portuguese and Italians and Swiss and French have been wandering into each others' lands for centuries. Flying in millions of folks from a foreign civilization (cf. Huntington), however, is something new.  Who are these people, and what are their chances of assimilating? ['Arab' = 'Muslim Arab' for purposes of this post only.]

Observers may wonder at the apparent gulf between today's Greeks and the titans of two thousand years ago, but it seems to pale in comparison with that of the Arabs.  Lauded for embracing science while Europe slept, their present-day allergy to it has become a planetary curiosity:

OIC [Organisation of the Islamic Conference] countries have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1000 population, compared with 139.3 for OECD countries.

Forty-six Muslim countries contributed 1.17% of the world's science literature [in 1997], whereas 1.66% came from India alone and 1.48% from Spain alone. Twenty Arab countries contributed 0.55%, compared with 0.89% by Israel alone. The US NSF records that of the 28 lowest producers of scientific articles in 2003, half belong to the OIC.

19 July 2012

Boats Against the Current

For some who think about HBD and public policy, it's become an idée fixe that the 1950s is a line in the sand before which things went well, and after which things went to hell.

For others, our slow slide towards atomized, post-religious hedonism was inevitable: It had to follow the Industrial Revolution, like night follows day.

So who's right?  One way to know is to go back and see what folks were saying and doing as the second Industrial Revolution reached its end.  Was this the beginning of what we've become?  Did it have to be this way?  Hop in the touring car and take a brief spin with us through post-WWI America:


The notion that before the 1960s all or even most women were full-time homemakers is of course ahistorical; most women in history have been farmers' or artisans' wives, with all the labor that entails.  Only women of the leisure class have ever been spared hard work. And after WWI, industry blew up that leisure class to proportions never before seen.  Just how old is 'the new woman'?

11 July 2012

O tempora! O mores!

One last vacation post. Between holiday-making, we at Those Who Can See have stumbled upon a few news stories that so vividly called to mind Juvenal's satires that we couldn't help but take a peek side-by-side.

The empire was still centuries from falling when the Roman satirist so scathingly critiqued her vices.  Today many of us find ourselves tempted to proclaim 'the end is near!'  But decadence can have a long shelf life. Inertia, some claim, is itself one of the mightiest forces in human history. Who knows what lessons then (if any) can be drawn from comparisons such as these.  Perhaps wiser minds than us can say.

'How can a woman who wears a helmet be chaste?'