Links and Comments: War on Science; How to Make a Prophecy; Nazis and Magic

Catching up on some saved links from some weeks ago…

NYT: long editorial, from Sept. 9th: President Trump’s War on Science

Among the points: the Trump administration has
— Stopped a study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining; earlier studies revealed cases of birth defects and cancer;
–“Even allowing for justifiable budgetary reasons, in nearly every case the principal motive seemed the same: to serve commercial interests whose profitability could be affected by health and safety rules.”
–Trump has called global warming a “hoax”
–and so on.

Related: Trump Promised to Hire the Best People. He Keeps Hiring the Worst

This is not my original thought, but consider this: if a foreign power bent on the destruction of the United States were to infiltrate its government and inject officials into government positions with the key task of dismantling and undermining those positions, wouldn’t that be an act of war? Or if from within the US, an act of treason? How is that different from the efforts we’re seeing by the short-term-goals driven Trump administration?

Trump, it seems to me, can be counted on to make the worst decision, to make the worst appointment to any position, conceivable. He can be counted on to do the wrong thing, every time.

\\ Want to Make a Prophecy? Then Follow These Rules

1, The prophecy must have predictive power
2, The prophecy must be specific
3, The prophecy must be counterintuitive
4, The prophecy must not be influenced by the prophet

Needless to say, prophecies in religion and fantasy fiction do not fulfill these requirements.

Why do storytellers resort to such flimsy devices? Why are the prophecies so unclear as to be left futile, if not completely useless? Probably because the authors of such works grew up being sold on the idea that prophecies are cryptic, an idea handed down to them from their religious upbringing.

Indeed, when trying to prove the Bible’s divine inspiration, a favorite recourse of fundamentalists is to point to prophecy. Among the more popular examples are: the Old Testament prophesied Jesus’ arrival, Daniel predicted the march of world powers, and Revelation predicts the end of days.


From back in August, at Slate: The Nazis Were Obsessed With Magic; subtitle: “What can their fascination with the supernatural teach us about life in our own post-truth times?”

An interview with the author of Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich.

Grouping astrology, some practices in archaeology, history, and folklore, and out-there scientific theories together under the heading “the supernatural imaginary,” Kurlander writes about how the popularity of border thinking guided the Nazis in creating their own political reality in Germany.

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