Evidence and conventional wisdom

I’ve been looking over some posts from the bright dawn days of blogging in the early 2000s. One thing that struck me is that some ideas I put forward as unconventional but evidence based, are now fairly widely accepted. In view of the widespread, and justified, concern about a post-truth era, this seems encouraging, and worth investigating. A few examples

  • In this post on equality of opportunity from 2003, I noted that “contrary to popular belief, there is less mobility between income classes in the United States than in European social democracies.” I was drawing on a 1999 book, The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism by Goodin, Headey Muffels and Dirven, which I’d reviewed a couple of years previously. In 2009, when I started work on Zombie Economics, I wrote about this again. However, I soon realised I was pushing at an open door. The decline of social mobility in the US had become part of the conventional wisdom.
  • In 2004, some of the first studies of charter schools were coming out, showing that, contrary to the widely-shared expectations of education reformers, they weren’t showing any clear gains in student performance. I wrote about this fairly cautiously, noting that studies of this kind often fail to find any effect. As it turned out, however, the findings were replicated, particularly in the case of for-profit schools. This piece in the Washington Post (which used to be associated in some way with the for-profit testing industry, IIRC) shows how much the tide has turned against charters, and even more against for-profits.
  • Here’s a post on minimum wages, drawing on the work of David Card and Alan Krueger (whose tragic death recently was a big loss to the economics profession). from the early 1990s. By then, the formerly orthodox view that minimum wages had big negative effects on employment was sufficiently out of favour to be revived in Slate (then famous, or notorious, for “contrarian” views that generally tended to support the establishment).
  • Finally, I wrote a couple of mildly snarky pieces about the “Reading Wars” between phonics and whole language. This was one of the relatively rare cases in which the emerging evidence supported the cultural right. It’s pretty hard nowadays to find unequivocal supporters of whole language.

Looking at these examples, there’s a gap of about 10 years between the time the evidence emerged (or at least, emerged prominently enough for me to take notice) and the time the conventional wisdom adjusted. That doesn’t seem too bad. As the great replication crisis has shown, it’s unwise to take too much notice of an individual study on any social science topic.

Unsurprisingly, most of the examples above are cases where the emerging evidence was consistent with my broad political principles (I was never engaged in the Reading Wars, though I mostly lined up against the phonics advocates on other issues). I’d say that’s because most of the evidence we’ve had in the past twenty-five years or so has gone against the beliefs of the political right, who have had to retreat from the triumphalism of the early 1990s. But it’s obviously possible that there is confirmation bias at work. I’d be interested to see suggested examples of evidence shifting the conventional wisdom to the right in this period.

30 thoughts on “Evidence and conventional wisdom

  1. I’d be interested to see suggested examples of evidence shifting the conventional wisdom to the right in this period.

    1. Stopping the Boats would work and ave lives. Severe border protection policies have stopped the boats and saved countless lives. The common Left claim was that push factors were far more important that pull factors. That has proven to be false.

    2. Identity politics is poisonous. Writing fiction is now like stepping into a minefield. Even the New York Times appears to have gotten the memo: ***www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/books/amelie-wen-zhao-blood-heir.html?fallback=0&recId=1KnNzui6QbByGoA5dE734e5aebr&locked=0&geoContinent=OC&geoRegion=VIC&recAlloc=story&geoCountry=AU&blockId=home-featured&imp_id=917720568

    On the other hand, the Left has won out on

    1. Gay marriage. We have it and the sky hasn’t fallen in.
    2. Religion. We’re rapidly losing our religion and elevating LGBTQI rights etc above religious rights and once again the sky hasn’t fallen in.
    3. History Wars. What happened to those extra Windschuttle volumes?
    4. Women’s rights. #Metoo etc
    5. Transgender acceptance. This is still a decade behind gay acceptance but we’re moving in the right direction with under 35 yo’s being much more accepting than older groups

  2. Hugo, given that there are groups who choose to use the description ‘identitarian’ for themselves, why shouldn’t they be considered the greatest champions of ‘identity politics’? They certainly aren’t on the left. Why, then, should defence of ‘identity politics’ be associated with the left?

  3. These were never mainstream on the cultural right, but they were and are still bitterly opposed by the left:

    – Social constructionism – its obvious now that every personality trait has a substantial genetic basis.
    – The failure of education, early childcare, etc to meaningfully impact IQ long term. Except perhaps in particularly vulnerable populations.
    – genetic differences in population means in traits such as sprinting across what historically were called “races”. Exactly as evolutionary theory would predict.
    – “peak oil” and other “running out of resources” doomsday predictions.

    The religious right/neocons haven’t covered themselves in glory, but right wing atheists have done well.

  4. I checked through the minimum wage blog post. I see that I commented on this post in July 2004 so I have been commenting on your blog for 15 years. Whatever happened to Uncle Milton et al…. ????

  5. Hugo
    Identity politics is mostly about a tussle between the “right” insistence that their standard is the only possible one (white christian etc) and the rest. In this sense its a re-hash of of the “we are people too” arguments of decolonisation and the even earlier arguments for inclusion in the political nation of the lower classes.

    John – the more we understand genetics (and the interaction between genes and environment), the less IQ and much else seems “determined” in any real sense. In fact, the less IQ seems to be anything but a social construct. And “fitness” in the darwinian sense is not IQ.

    The “running out of resources” issue turned out to be “running out of usable dirt, water, capacity to absorb nitrogen, capacity to absorb CO2, fish…” before we run out of oil.

  6. Peter T,

    I think positive affirmations of identity, such as gay pride and mardi gras, are excellent. What I find disturbing is the “crabs in a bucket” cultural policing side of identity politics as per the NYT article I linked to.

  7. Dear John

    “Social constructionism – its obvious now that every personality trait has a substantial genetic basis.”

    It’s also obvious that this genetic basis is subject to what is called epigenetics and that whatever genes we have are malleable in certain directions and the ongoing dynamics of change are determined by the interaction between the genes and the environment.

    Which is why your claim that “The failure of education, early childcare, etc to meaningfully impact IQ long term.” is so not true. There is substantial evidence that IQ can and is increased but the main problem with your assumptions is that IQ is not the measure of a human’s ability that is important in establishing good societies.

    And can you explain what you mean by “vulnerable populations? Is it their genes that make some populations vulnerable and if so how come these genes have not been ‘bred out’ by ‘survival of the fittest’ leaving just people like you to carry on?

    “genetic differences in population means in traits such as sprinting across what historically were called “races”. Exactly as evolutionary theory would predict.”

    Which evolutionary theory are you referring to? Do you think there is only one because it’s the one you like?

  8. Hugo

    “Even the New York Times”?? It’s been a bastion of the kind of “moderation” derided by Martin Luther King for decades. Chris Cilizza? Climate deniers have a point? Let’s again interview some “authentic American” reactionary from Iowa? A pointless spat in the tiny world of New York publishing is the end of civility? The NYT will be deploring the rudeness of the left even as Trump signs the Fake News Abolition Act.

  9. The extent to which kids are programmed and boxed-in by culture is profound. Those who doubt the immense power of culture to shape our “traits” would do well to watch this two part documentary about an experiment in the UK that sought to remove gender bias for a class of young school kids. ***www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y4lgKnmWSk

    I would like to gender bias free education made compulsory in all schools, but any attempt to do so would create the mother of all culture wars.

  10. Without wanting to sound like I am defending the right to drown, I wonder if that while the boats may have mostly stopped, are refugees just dying somewhere else instead ? Did we simply push the problem just far enough away from our TV news cameras ? Maybe we could have worked with Indonesia to make processing and policing better, or not prosecuted wars in other countries ,or not engaged in ruthless empire building ,economic warfare and oppression as deputy sheriff to the Big Dog.

    Also the widespread belief that the Right dont engage in identity politics or cultural engineering seems wrong. They are masters of those.

    Yes compared to the depth of human time there has been progress in 10 years .Compared to the brevity of a single human life things can seem frustrating and slow.

  11. Julie Thomas is correct about the importance of epigenetics and hence of looking at phenotype rather than just genotype.

    It’s important to remember some key issues:

    1. The right to life, equality and dignity should be the same for all humans regardless of genetic and epigentic issues.

    2. Though having some genetic differences, humans actually show relatively little genetic variation compared to many other mammal and even primate species. We are remarkably homogeneous.

    3. Our notable genetic differences, though often of survival import, rarely have anything to do with the issue of intelligence. The very fact that intelligence is so hard to measure objectively and that one’s subjective assessment of one’s own intelligence is so susceptioble to the Dunning-Kruger effect probably explains why it is seized upon by racist thinking as a supposed essential difference.

    The one amendment to point 3 above might be that Ashkenazi Jews are a bit smarter on average than the rest of us and produce more geniuses per 100,000 persons. I only mention this because people seem to obsess over intelligence so much. Disease resistance (for example) is at least as important as intelligence to survival, so there is no particular need to obsess over “better” intelligence. Indeed, more than one evolutionary theorist has pointed out that intelligence can be maladaptive as well as adaptive. Intelligence is not a special trait but one trait among many.

    At the same time, some racial differences are real and do relate to different genotypes. A significant proportion of black people have inherited resistances to malaria which vary according to the malarial species challenge. Elite black athletes tend to be better at track and elite white athletes tend to be better at swimming. These traits are related to inheritable physiological and morphological processes and structures. However, the important thing here is to recognize that elite white sprinters are still faster than most black people and elite black swimmers still swim faster than most white people. The slight differences at elite level, which are narcissistically obsessed over by both elite performers themselves and their fans, apply only to the thin slice of top end performers.

    Finally, if a person is generally okay at many things (physical and mental performances) but not elite at anything, we can note that the former implies and indeed usually mandates the latter. Such a person is a generalist. Learning opportunities have a lot to do with it but evolution also seems to produce a lot of generalists both across and in species. Generalism clearly has a lot going for it in terms of evolutionary fitness.

  12. John (not me) “The failure of education, early childcare, etc to meaningfully impact IQ long term.”

    The Flynn effect (average IQ scores increasing over time) strongly implies that something in the “etc” has a huge impact. Until we have an explanation, I think the certitude of the “atheist right” on this point is misplaced.

  13. I agree with Prof John Quiggin. Improved education, literacy and numeracy, access to books, parents encouraging educational attainment etc have massively shifted IQ results as per the Flynn effect.

    I recall a kerfuffle in the “atheist right” a few years back when it became undeniable that Igbo Nigerian students in the UK were performing better than whites. Unfortunately, instead of revisiting their views on African intelligence and the importance of culture and access to resources, they decided that Igbos were the Jews of Africa. http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-jews-of-west-africa.html

  14. There is of course the “Possible end of progression”; a sub-heading in the Wikipedia entry on the Flynn Effect. It seems that Westerners (at least) stopped getting smarter starting from about 1995 to 2000. This might be a natural leveling-out with all positive gains from nutrition to education being played out. Some stats even show us (Westerners) getting dumber from about 1995 onward. Is this an effect of all the bad diets, lack of exercise, junk news, junk entertainments etc? Are new cohorts getting a little dumber in the West? Of course, I am sooner or later going to become (even) dumber than I am currently, as I move into the old, atherosclerotic and dementia-addled cohort.

  15. Just a few random factoids to add …

    The Japanese men beat the US (black) men in the 4 by 100 at the last olympics ,there was no dropped batton or stumbling. Easily the fastest runner over the first 50 meters in the 100 m final at the olympics before that was Japanese. I wonder if participation rates might be the key to racial success in different sports. School track days in the Caribbean attract tens of thousands of spectators and long distance running is massive in Africa. There are towns where 40 -50% of residents are runners. Also there are freaks – US swimmer Michael Phelps’ muscles only produce 50% of the lactic acid considered normal and Cadel Evans has huge abnormal lung capacity so he was able to compete drug free in long distance cycling. South African runner Caster Semenya has high testosterone for a woman ,1.7 % of people are intersex ,almost as many as red heads. There are those with odd freakish abilities amongst us who never discover the fact.

    I believe that IQ is not correlated with any life outcome. I cant think that it is of any relevance at all, and that measuring it (if it is even a thing) may actually be counter productive. Mostly I just hear of it being used as a weapon by smarty pants parents with chips on their shoulder and precious little kids.

    Lastly, apparently Chimpanzees are closer to us genetically than they are to Gorillas .

  16. That’s called wishful thinking, Sunshine.

    IQ is often dismissed as antiquated, misguided, or less important than personality traits. But according to Stuart Ritchie, an intelligence researcher at the University of Edinburgh, there’s a massive amount of data showing that it’s one of the best predictors of someone’s longevity, health, and prosperity. And psychologists have been able to replicate these findings over and over.


    The good news for us ordinary dummies is that IQ doesn’t appear to be linked to happiness.

  17. Hugo, why did Chisala miss the most salient feature that as his UK and USA black African and Caribbean academic/athletic performance examples were non-random they were not able to be applied generally? In fact they rather proved “The predictable response of the hereditarians is to adopt the environmentalist argument of super high immigrant selection to explain this unexpected trend.”, ie., it was a clear cut case of highly selective migration. In the host country the exceptional performance abilities were maintained both environmentally and genetically in the immigrant group offspring due to endogamy.

    Somewhat related there is this recently at The Unz Review http://www.unz.com/jthompson/world-iq-82/
    Graphics at larger scale available at ZeroHedge https ://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-10/world-faces-uphill-battle-average-iq-just-82

  18. Epigenetics as a dodge for recent GWAS findings is the left-wing equivalent of blaming observed warming on solar cycles. Yes, it’s a (minor) factor, no it explains little of the observed heritability of IQ and other traits. Studies which examine correlations of separated fraternal vs identical twin studies are unlikely to be confounded by epigenetics.

    Regarding IQ, the Flynn effect doesn’t seem to affect G, and may even have reversed in the 90’s despite massive expansion of education at all levels.

  19. Hmm. Struggling to find an example where the CW has shifted to the right on the basis of evidence, here’s a candidate JQ may not like: competition in electricity. Since Margaret Thatcher’s electricity privatisation, her scheme, designed by Littlewood, has been widely copied. Success has been variable, but at the risk of falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, you can make a case that the grids where it has worked fairly well – Germany, Texas, India – have stayed closer to the archetype than those who tinkered with it extensively – California, Australia. (Look how many agencies Australia has regulating or advising on electricity compared to the UK.) Even Japan has at long last joined the movement to break up its regional silo monopolies. I get the impression that even generally lefty experts like JQ have accepted that generation should be competitive, with regulation focused on the technical monopolies of transmission, distribution and market-making, plus strategic planning. I won’t question that the gains to consumers have been modest, and those to the climate have been driven by policies like the German EEG and renewables obligations in the USA that have had nothing to do with it.

  20. Julie Thomas: your cat’s fur is a pretty example of your point about epigenetics. No question that the pattern of white and ginger say is fixed by nature and neither Kitty nor her “owner”-slave can affect it one whit. But it’s not fixed by her DNA for al that. Suppose one parent was all white and the other all ginger. As I understand it, one of the competing colour alleles is switched off randomly at about the 32-cell stage of the embryo, so any twin kittens would have different patterns. All tortoiseshell cats are female because you need two X chromosomes to get the three colours in this process. Human monozygotic twins have the same DNA, and they tend to turn out very similar in appearance and character, but they are not simple mirror images of each other.

  21. Yep there is no doubt that epigenetics have a significant effect on the way genes are expressed.

    “What began as broad research focused on combining genetics and developmental biology by well-respected scientists including Conrad H. Waddington and Ernst Hadorn during the mid-twentieth century has evolved into the field we currently refer to as epigenetics. The term epigenetics, which was coined by Waddington in 1942, was derived from the Greek word “epigenesis” which originally described the influence of genetic processes on development.2 During the 1990s there became a renewed interest in genetic assimilation. This led to elucidation of the molecular basis of Conrad Waddington’s observations in which environmental stress caused genetic assimilation of certain phenotypic characteristics in Drosophila fruit flies. Since then, research efforts have been focused on unraveling the epigenetic mechanisms related to these types of changes.”


    It is a shame that so many people don’t understand the basics of this area of research, that makes all the ideas of ‘the right’ about ‘survival of the fittest’ and how genes are related to behaviour irrelevant and nonsensical.

    It seems to me like the media no longer pay for journalists who have science degrees and can explain the new knowledge. Where else but Radio National can one find out about what is going on in science?

    But talking about cats..these kitten experiments are interesting and not really creepy to me but then I’m not a cat lady.

    “The set-up for this experiment involved ten litters of kittens. The litters were born, and for the first few weeks, raised in darkness. One pair was selected from each litter. Of the pair, one kitten was selected to be the Mobile Kitten, and one to be the Immobile Kitten. Both kittens were taken away from their litters for a time and placed on a kind of turntable called the kitten carousel.”

    “The experiment has a somewhat happy ending. The Immobile Kittens were placed in lighted rooms for about forty-eight hours and allowed to explore freely. They were retested and had learned to understand visual cliffs. So even if deprived of stimulus, the brain can still learn. Still, the Immobile Kittens never became visually normal. Their time in the dark, and without the ability to work with the world around them, left a permanent mark on them.”


  22. Twin studies once upon a time tended to confirm the misconceptions that people of the right have about genes being the most important determinants of behaviour.

    “Lately, however, twin studies have helped lead scientists to a radical, almost heretical new conclusion: that nature and nurture are not the only elemental forces at work. According to a recent field called epigenetics, there is a third factor also in play, one that in some cases serves as a bridge between the environment and our genes, and in others operates on its own to shape who we are.”


    And I think a foundation belief of right wing people is that humans are selfish and greedy naturally which means that babies are born selfish and greedy – original sin? – and so war is the natural state of ‘uncivilized’ humans. Although really war seems to be the natural state of civilisation and not that of hunter-gatherers.

    However this myth that we are selfish and greedy is also out dated and has been discredited.

    “The last few years produced a spate of related studies hinting that, far from being born a “perfect idiot,” as Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued, or a selfish brute, as Thomas Hobbes feared, a child arrives in the world provisioned with rich, broadly pro-social tendencies and seems predisposed to care about other people. Children can tell, to an extent, what is good and bad, and often act in an altruistic fashion. “Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children,” a study of under-2-year-olds concluded. “Babies Know What’s Fair” was the upshot of another study, of 19- and 21-month-olds. Toddlers, the new literature suggests, are particularly equitable. They are natural helpers, aiding distressed others at a cost to themselves, growing concerned if someone shreds another person’s artwork and divvying up earnings after a shared task, whether the spoils take the form of detested rye bread or precious Gummy Bears.”

    Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/are-babies-born-good-165443013/#j51m5z0wvk5Hb5Z5.99

    The exceptions to the rule that babies are ‘naturally’ good are those with genes for whatever it is that leads to children being described as ‘on the spectrum’. It is increasingly clear though that such children and even adults, because brain plasticity, can learn to understand how the social world works and be more cooperative and fit in to their society.

    But being raised in a nuclear family is not conducive to these children learning how to be part of their society – because it limits the environment to which these children experience and what they need is a wide range of role models and interactions with a range of people.

    This is possibly why alloparenting has been so important in our past; the nuclear family is not the traditional way that humans have formed families or raised children and it is why child care is an investment in a ‘better’ society.

  23. I have the suspicion that the next big culture war will be fought over animal rights. The vegan activists who sat down at the Flinders and Swanston Steet junction in Melbourne a few backs are, I believe, a sign of things to come.
    Over the past 12 months I’ve spent a lot of time on atheist, science and philosophy you tube and these channels get swarmed by proselytising vegan activists. As far as I can tell, no philosopher has developed a good argument that supports the ethics of meat eating.
    The vegan activists say future generations will on our slaughtering and eating of fellow sentient beings as an evil on par with slavery. Are they correct? Will this eventually become a Left/Right issue?

  24. Chiefly race issues. Hugo is right to point to a broad consensus that Australia is not bound to be our brother’s keeper, that we are entitled to pretend that our self-interested and racist behavior is charitable etc. This was quite simply done by covering up all the boats that continue to come, while brutally mistreating those that came under Labor in more-or-less public, with sharp limitations on local reporting. Labor is now promising to sustain the same, globally unique, and failed policies until the end of time, for hack political reasons. No doubt this has done much to blow up the other race issues such as widespread mainstreamed Islamophobia and a degree of Sinophobia particularly among the lunatic right, the Murdock press and the Liberal party. Other race issues relating to Indigenous Australians have dropped off the map.

  25. Hugo,

    What about plants’ rights? Plants should have rights too. What gives anyone the right to eat a plant? I’m being facetious but where does one draw the line?

    According to some sites, tardigrades are the smallest (multi-cellular?) animals. Another site says:

    “If you eat fresh lettuce, you’ve probably done the experiment (of eating tardigrades) already. Tardigrades are pretty ubiquitous in nature and you can collect plenty of them from freshly cut lettuce, spinach and other garden greens, as demonstrated by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh in a citizen science activity.” – quora.

    Therefore, I seriously challenge vegetarians to not eat animals. Or are some animals more equal than others? Or is it okay to accidentally eat animals?

    I support the right of vegetarians to not eat animals (of sufficient macroscopic size for them to notice). I don’t support their attempts, if any, to dictate what others eat (aside from my supporting the general prohibition on human cannibalism). They may proselytize and demonstrate peacefully as much as they like albeit without infringing on the livelihoods of others. I do support bans on eating endangered wildlife, wildlife unfit for human consumption and iconic wildlife species of concern. I do support bans on cruel and unusual animal raising and slaughtering practices. I support banning live exports. I do support Westenrers moving to a lower meat diet. We eat too much meat from the point of view of health and environmental concerns. I think it’s a matter of being nuanced in detail rather than trying to be an ethical purist. I actually support the banning of pet keeping, of mammals and reptiles at least, which might make me quite welcome at a PETA meeting provided I only took lettuce and tardigrade sandwiches.

  26. Ikonoclast,

    The vegan argument is centred around a creature’s ability to experience pleasure and pain. If higher order animals suffer pain, how would it be ethical to ignore it?
    Obviously vegetables lack sentience, so eating them is not an ethical issue.

  27. Hugo,

    How would it be ethical to deny human children a balanced omnivorous diet? Homo sapiens are near-obligate omnivores except under rather special conditions. These conditions are availability of nearly all required nutrients in locally available vegetarian / vegan foods plus an excellent knowledge of nutritional needs plus often enough the need for pharmaceutical supplements, especially for children.

    A quarter of all vegetarians felt unwell and/or malnourished according to a British study in 2016. Of course, the operative word is “felt”. However, when 25% of the proponents, or at least the proselytized, feel physically bad enough to self-report in such a strong negative fashion on their adopted eating habits, you can be pretty sure something is going significantly wrong in the lifestyle. That’s a large percentage admitting they feel like sh*t. I can only imagine matters are worse for their children.

    “Following are the common categories of vegetarians. Although none eat meat, poultry, or fish, there are other areas in which they vary:

    Lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume eggs, dairy products, and plant foods.
    Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products and plant foods but not eggs.
    Vegans eat only plant foods, no eggs or dairy products.

    Children can be well nourished on all three types of vegetarian diet, but nu­tritional balance is very difficult to achieve if dairy products and eggs are com­pletely eliminated. Vegetarians sometimes consume insufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D if they remove milk products from their diet.

    Also, because of the lack of meat products, vegetarians sometimes have an inadequate iron intake. They may also consume insufficient amounts of vita­min B-12, zinc, and other minerals. If their caloric intake is also extremely low, this could cause a delay in normal growth and weight gain.

    Vegetarians may also lack adequate protein sources. As a result, you need to ensure that your child receives a good balance of essential amino acids. As a general guideline, his protein intake should come from more than one source, combining cereal products (wheat, rice) with legumes (dry beans, soybeans, peas), for example; when eaten together, they provide a higher quality mixture of amino acids than if either is consumed alone.

    Other planning may be necessary. To ensure adequate levels of vitamin B-12, you might serve your child commercially prepared foods fortified with this vitamin. While calcium is present in some vegetables, your child may still need a calcium supplement if he does not consume milk and other dairy prod­ucts. Alternative sources of vitamin D might also be advisable if there is no milk in the diet. Your pediatrician may recommend iron supplements, too, al­though your child can improve his absorption of the iron in vegetables by drinking citrus juice at mealtime.” – healthy children dot org

    As I said, the need for meat for complete and easy nutrition is relatively low. Admittedly, I am old guy no longer growing extra muscle mass but I eat relatively little meat.

    Breakfast – other food but no meat
    Lunch – other food but no meat.
    Dinner – Two nights a week I eat no dinner (part of my calorie control)
    – two nights a week my wife and I make a vegetarian meal – might have eggs in it.
    – three nights a week I would eat meat; so about 3 x 150 grams (usually chicken, fish and red meat respectively)

    I snack a bit on crackers and cheese (bad boy) or fruit (good boy) between meals and I do go through a fair bit of milk on cereal and in coffee.

    But , if people want to be fanatics and pretend they aren’t near-obligate omnivores then that’s fine by me. But they shouldn’t do it to their kids, IMHO.

    But hey if you admire them, go vegan. 🙂

  28. Ikonoclast,

    I support the right of vegetarians to not eat animals (of sufficient macroscopic size for them to notice). I don’t support their attempts, if any, to dictate what others eat (aside from my supporting the general prohibition on human cannibalism).

    Yeah but that’s an ethically void statement. It is the ethical equivalent of a circa 1860 Mississippi gentleman with a slaveholding saying he supports the right of his white neighbours to not own negro slaves and to disagree with negro slavery but only if they do nothing to undermine the institution of negro slavery. Or at least that is the type of argument the vegan evangelists are making.

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