Orwell on freedom

The relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them. - George Orwell

Random links

China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains
"Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission." See also China Is Using Facial Recognition Technology to Send Jaywalkers Fines Through Text Messages.
On Truth and Beauty
"Chinese women of the Han Dynasty (c.206BC – 220AD) were expected to have long black hair, red lips and white teeth, among other things. But also on the list was pale skin, and unless you’ve been living under a rock since the 1960s you’ll know that no shortage of intellectuals have blamed the desire for pale skin on the nefarious effects of colonialism. That its presence was a beauty criterion as long ago (and as far away from Europe) as Han China is telling, to say the least."
Ad hominem attacks on scientists are just as likely to undermine public faith in research as legitimate empirical critiques
A good reason, whatever your beliefs, to read at least a sample of those getting heavy amounts of negative press.

On open-mindedness

A quote from The Difference Between Open-Minded and Close-Minded People which is a bit paradoxical if you try to apply it to yourself:

So which group are you in?

Before you smugly slap an open-minded sticker on your chest, consider this: closed-minded people would never consider that they could actually be closed-minded. In fact, their perceived open-mindedness is what’s so dangerous.

Random links

Israeli rabbi says eating cloned pork is kosher, genetic engineering would prevent animal suffering
If this rabbi isn't the only one to reach that conclusion (also concluding that a bacon cheeseburger might also be kosher if similarly created), somehow I suspect Israel may lead in the uptake of lab-grown meat.
The Legacy of Colonial Medicine in Central Africa
"Between 1921 and 1956, French colonial governments organized medical campaigns to treat and prevent sleeping sickness. Villagers were forcibly examined and injected with medications with severe, sometimes fatal, side effects. ... We find that greater historical exposure to the campaigns reduces trust in medicine - measured by willingness to consent to a free, non-invasive blood test. The resulting mistrust is specific to the medical sector. We examine relevance for present day health initiatives; we find that World Bank projects in the health sector are less successful in areas with greater exposure to the campaigns."
Pirates of the Caribbean (Metric Edition)
Are British privateers why the reason the US has been slow to adopt the metric system?

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