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The Conservatives vs. the Intellectuals?
So everyone’s talking about the article by the intellectual Russell Jacoby on the alleged fact that there are no conservative intellectuals anymore.
The article isn’t much good, in fact. One problem is that it doesn’t really explain what an intellectual is.
The first outstanding criticism of modern intellectuals came from the lefty philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He explained that in a modern, sophisticated society they’ll be a “new class” of people attempting to distinguish themselves by their devotion to ideas. They would be driven much more by vanity than love of truth or concern for others, and their main impulse would be displaying their superiority in the public square. They would be the source of the fashionable dogmas—kinds of popularized science and other forms of self-helpy expertise—that would tend to displace religion and patriotism. The new dogmas wouldn’t really be more true than the older ones, and they would have the huge practical disadvantage of “deconstructing” moral virtue as most people experience it.
So against the witty and fashionable intellectuals Rousseau praised ignorance. His authority in that respect was Socrates—the philosopher who said time and again that all I know for certain is that I know nothing. Socrates didn’t know enough to be an atheist, just as he didn’t know enough to affirm the gods of Athens. Socrates distinguished his endless quest for what he didn’t yet know with the activity of the sophists—the experts who thought they possessed the true and scientific theory of education and should be paid the big bucks for sharing those most useful and enlightened techniques with others.
Socrates differed with the sophists by not thinking that the education of the whole human being could be reduced to some technique, just as he differed from excessively patriotic and pious—and so sometimes excessively angry—good citizens who thought that education is only adhering to traditional moral principles or obedience to the gods.
Education has a lot to do with technical knowledge, but it also has to do with morality, with knowing who you are and what you’re supposed to do as a being with a soul (or a self-conscious mortal animated by more than merely materialistic impulses). Socrates claimed to be ignorant because he knew he didn’t have a comprehensive theory of education that brought together and did justice to both our technical and moral dimensions. So he thought that those—including both fundamentalists and sophists or intellectuals—who thought they had such a comprehensive knowledge of the human good assumed they knew much more than they really did.
Our fundamentalists these days know a lot less than they think they do. But so do our “new atheists,” evolutionary psychologists, neuroscientists, and so forth. The latter—when they become public intellectuals—typically fall victim to scientism, to highly speculative and ideological systems of explanation that go way beyond what they really know through science. Arguably the truth is that the arguments for and against atheism—and universal determinism—are pretty much the same as they were in Socrates’ time.
Arguably, the biggest change since the time of Socrates is the idea of the free person—one introduced into the world by Biblical and Christian thought. When our deterministic scientists deny the real existence of the free person, they, today’s conservatives often object, are asserting more they they really know. That denial, of course, includes the denial of the real existence of the virtues, beginning with courage. It makes nonsense out of the indispensable moral categories of praise and blame and good and evil.
Today’s best conservatives don’t object to elites as such, but to elitists vainly or unreasonably contemptuous of the longings and beliefs of ordinary people.
Let me add that it’s not been my experience at all that conservatives are either contemptuous of or lacking in true erudition. I just returned from the week-long honors program of the conservative foundation the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Both the students and professors in the program are so serious about the wisdom to be fund in our great intellectual tradition that they actually have devoted themselves to all sorts of highly disciplined intellectual pursuits quite uncharacteristic of our liberal public intellectuals. Several of the students are majoring in classics and many others are studying Greek or Latin as part of majoring in theology and philosophy. The most charming and accessible of the young professors is a Harvard specialist in medieval Latin.
They all agreed that to be civilized and genuinely educated depends upon overcoming the dogmas of our time—both fundamentalist and scientistic. And so they’re all about reading the Greek and Roman authors in their original texts—including, of course, the brilliant theologians St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. They know all about Maimonides and Buddha too.
There was no talk of Palin, and almost none of ObamaCare. But there were all sorts of highly informed and open-minded arguments concerning the real existence of God and the real existence of the human person.
There were also lots of deep lectures than ranged across all sorts of great books and millenia of history. But there was no PowerPoint. And there was, to say the least, no shortage of good questions.
Alexis de Tocqueville, as I’ve said before, contended that public intellectuals in democratic times should focus attentively on the Greek and Roman authors as indispensable antidotes to the prejudices of our time, beginning with techno-atheistic prejudices against metaphysics, theology, and the human soul and its distinctive needs. I don’t see our liberal intellectuals, for the most part, having what it takes to free themselves from our sophisticated prejudices.
A new study finds that dogs fed fresh human-grade food don't need to eat—or do their business—as much.
- Most dogs eat a diet that's primarily kibble.
- When fed a fresh-food diet, however, they don't need to consume as much.
- Dogs on fresh-food diets have healthier gut biomes.
Four diets were tested<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU5ODI1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjY0NjIxMn0._w0k-qFOC86AqmtPHJBK_i-9F5oVyVYsYtUrdvfUxWQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="1b1e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="87937436a81c700a8ab3b1d763354843" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: AntonioDiaz/Adobe Stock<p>The researchers tested refrigerated and fresh human-grade foods against kibble, the food most dogs live on. The <a href="https://frontierpets.com.au/blogs/news/how-kibble-or-dry-dog-food-is-made" target="_blank">ingredients</a> of kibble are mashed into a dough and then extruded, forced through a die of some kind into the desired shape — think a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_extrusion" target="_blank">pasta maker</a>. The resulting pellets are sprayed with additional flavor and color.</p><p>For four weeks, researchers fed 12 beagles one of four diets:</p><ol><li>a extruded diet — Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe</li><li>a fresh refrigerated diet — Freshpet Roasted Meals Tender Chicken Recipe</li><li>a fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Beef & Russet Potato Recipe</li><li>another fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Chicken & White Rice Recipe.</li></ol><p>The two fresh diets contained minimally processed beef, chicken, broccoli, rice, carrots, and various food chunks in a canine casserole of sorts. </p><p>(One can't help but think how hard it would be to get finicky cats to test new diets. As if.)</p><p>Senior author <a href="https://ansc.illinois.edu/directory/ksswanso" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kelly S. Swanson</a> of U of I's Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences, was a bit surprised at how much better dogs did on people food than even refrigerated dog chow. "Based on past research we've conducted I'm not surprised with the results when feeding human-grade compared to an extruded dry diet," he <a href="https://aces.illinois.edu/news/feed-fido-fresh-human-grade-dog-food-scoop-less-poop" target="_blank">says</a>, adding, "However, I did not expect to see how well the human-grade fresh food performed, even compared to a fresh commercial processed brand."</p>
Tracking the effect of each diet<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU5ODI1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NjY1NTgyOX0.AdyMb8OEcjCD6iWYnXjToDmcnjfTSn-0-dfG96SIpUA/img.jpg?width=980" id="da892" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="880d952420679aeccd1eaf32b5339810" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: Patryk Kosmider/Adobe Stock<p>The researchers tracked the dogs' weights and analyzed the microbiota in their fecal matter.</p><p>It turned out that the dogs on kibble had to eat more to maintain their body weight. This resulted in their producing 1.5 to 2.9 times the amount of poop produced by dogs on the fresh diets.</p><p>Says Swanson, "This is consistent with a 2019 National Institute of Health study in humans that found people eating a fresh whole food diet consumed on average 500 less calories per day, and reported being more satisfied, than people eating a more processed diet."</p><p>Maybe even more interesting was the effect of fresh food on the gut biome. Though there remains much we don't yet know about microbiota, it was nonetheless the case that the microbial communities found in fresh-food poo was different.</p><p>"Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt," says Swanson, "fecal microbial and metabolite profiles are important readouts of diet assessment. As we have shown in <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jas/article/92/9/3781/4702209#110855647" target="_blank">previous studies</a>, the fecal microbial communities of healthy dogs fed fresh diets were different than those fed kibble. These unique microbial profiles were likely due to differences in diet processing, ingredient source, and the concentration and type of dietary fibers, proteins, and fats that are known to influence what is digested by the dog and what reaches the colon for fermentation."</p>
How did kibble take over canine diets?<p>Historically, dogs ate scraps left over by humans. It has only been <a href="https://www.thefarmersdog.com/digest/the-history-of-commercial-pet-food-a-great-american-marketing-story/" target="_blank">since 1870</a>, with the arrival of the luxe Spratt's Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes—made from "the dried unsalted gelatinous parts of Prairie Beef", mmm—that commercial dog food began to take hold. Dog bone-shaped biscuits first appeared in 1907. Ken-L Ration dates from 1922. Kibble was first extruded in 1956. Pet food had become a great way to turn <a href="https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/" target="_blank">human-food waste</a> into profit.</p><p>Commercial dog food became the norm for most household canines only after a massive marketing campaign led by a group of dog-food industry lobbyists called the Pet Food Institute in 1964. Over time, for most households, dog food was what dogs ate — what else? Human food? These days more than half of U.S. dogs are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/magazine/who-made-that-dog-biscuit.html" target="_blank">overweight or obese</a>, and certainly their diet is a factor.<span></span></p><p>We're not so special among animals after all. If something's healthy for us to eat—we're <em>not</em> looking at you, chocolate—maybe we should remember to share with our canine compatriots. Not from the table, though.</p>
What makes some people more likely to shiver than others?
Some people just aren't bothered by the cold, no matter how low the temperature dips. And the reason for this may be in a person's genes.
Eating veggies is good for you. Now we can stop debating how much we should eat.
- A massive new study confirms that five servings of fruit and veggies a day can lower the risk of death.
- The maximum benefit is found at two servings of fruit and three of veggies—anything more offers no extra benefit according to the researchers.
- Not all fruits and veggies are equal. Leafy greens are better for you than starchy corn and potatoes.