Night Will Fall

Night Will Fall is a powerful documentary about the footage captured by Allied forces of newly liberated concentration camps, in the closing days of WW2, that was later made into a film titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (1945).

The scenes the soldiers were confronted with were so shocking that they feared no one would believe that they were real. Indeed the first accounts that Soviet soldiers had given of Auschwitz and Majdanek in eastern Europe were initially written off by Britain and America as atrocity propaganda. They soon realised how wrong they were. In fact, the Soviet footage of Auschwitz contains some of the most infamous images of the monstrous extermination camps. An elderly Russian soldier interviewed in Night Will Fall is overcome with emotion as he remembers the terrible things he saw… Read the rest On Netflix Now

British Ideologues Should Not Be Meddling With Schools In Africa

I was dismayed to read in The Spectator that British activists are trying to shut down Bridge schools in African countries .

Aidan Hartley writes that:

“… several British charities, in cahoots with some British unions, are making a concerted effort to close down hundreds of schools in Africa. They are doing this because they dislike private education, seeming not to care that this will destroy the life chances of thousands of desperate children, forcing them, at best, into state schools where the teachers are often absent, drunk or incapable.

The campaign involves not only an alphabet soup of left-leaning charities from Action Aid to Amnesty International but also Unison and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). Their attacks are directed at Bridge International Academies, a private company backed by, among others, Bill Gates and the British government.” Read More…

The New Putin Worship Is Idiotic and Morally Bankrupt

Every now and then, social media conspires to produce a perfect storm of idiocy and moral bankruptcy so backward as to make one speculate about the possibility of living in some kind of surreal simulation populated by half-wits. Of course, I should know by now not to be surprised by the depths to which political discourse has sunk on social media. For the politically-minded, Facebook and Twitter can become an addictive form of torture, a sort of digital self-harming ritual. Last week, however, I saw something that makes a pretty conclusive case for the corrosive effect of social media echo chambers on both intelligence and decency. Read More…

Free Speech Is The Only Way To Shift Consciousness

Last week, the writer Sam Harris posted an incredible conversation recorded between himself and Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who now tries to counter extreme political beliefs with what he describes as “listening” and “compassion”.  Picciolini has a lot of insight into what drives ideological fanaticism and he knows that much of it fuelled by emotional undercurrents of insecurity, self-loathing and basic ignorance.

He and Harris make the point that rather than shaming or silencing people with extreme opinions that we disapprove of, we should engage with them instead. That is how the battle for hearts and minds are won. This is very similar to what Megan Phelps, a former member of the religious cult the Westboro Baptist Church said in her now famous TED talk, which I have written about before:

Her decision to leave the WBC was not a Damascene conversion. It was part of a long process of engaging with people who opposed her on social media. Often they did so with anger or bemused disdain, but, occasionally, she would encounter individuals who would argue with her civilly. It was these discussions that began to slowly chip away at her harsh worldview, eventually causing it to collapse.

Harris also makes the important point that people will never build up “intellectual antibodies” to manipulative and hateful ideas if they are not exposed to them. Sunlight and air is the best disinfectant for odious speech.

Listen to to the full conversation here.

Violence Against Women Shouldn’t Be Scrubbed From Television For Politically Correct Reasons

For several years now, the BBC Radio 4 review programme Front Row has been more or less explicitly campaigning against crime drama involving depictions of violence against women. When the BBC first broadcast the first season of Happy Valley, John Wilson interviewed writer Sally Wainwright, and he supplemented high praise for Wainwright’s work with challenging questions about the dramatic treatment of violence against women. At the time of the third season of The Fall, Samira Ahmed took Gillian Andersen to task over the violence towards women portrayed in earlier seasons. And around the time the third season of Broadchurch was being shown on ITV, John Wilson, interviewing David Tennant, held the actor’s feet to the fire in connection with the representation of rape in the drama. Read More…

Stephen Hawking and the Poetry of Science

 

In this episode of The Imagine Athena Podcast, Candice Holdsworth speaks with Robin Gilbert Jones, contributing editor to Imagine Athena. They discuss the legacy of the late Stephen Hawking who passed away this week. He will be remembered not just for his scientific discoveries, which were immense, but also the courageous struggle he waged against his physical disability.

They also discuss how he represented the noble pursuit of objective truth in a time when people believe truth to be relative, or determined by whoever has the most power. These paranoid notions are regressive and disempowering. The very opposite of Hawking, who, in his career as a public figure, taught science to the public and tried to inspire them with the joy of discovery. He didn’t tell them they were the victims of some vast, dark conspiracy against them, but part of the magnificence and mystery of the Universe.

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