"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wSaturday, April 13, 2002

WHAT A WEEK: Four papers due last Wednesday, this Monday, Wednesday and today - including two presentations - made life quite a bit more frantic than normal. But that fog lifted at about 3 this afternoon, when I sent off the last paper. Now I have time to write stuff that people don't have to be paid to read.

The presentation on Monday was interesting. For most of the semester, students had been presenting on such topics as multiculturalism (for), euthanasia (mixed but mildly against) and nudity in art (sexist), to barely stifled yawns. Then I went and upset that apple cart by defending globalization. Specifically, I asked the question that I posed in an earlier article, Is globalization Christian?

The question was posed in two senses: 1) Has the increased role of markets had an overall beneficial effect?; 2) Is it possible that the missionary impulse of the West bred habbits that paved the way for globalization? I answered "yes" to both questions.

On the first, I cited United Nations statistics comparing incomes and other important statistics for 1992 and 2000, the years of Bill Clinton's presidency. The nut is that abject poverty declined by something like a hundred million people even as the population spiked, infant mortality fell, wars became less frequent and the number of refugees fell by about a third. That, I argued, is a startling success story.

Then the question period commenced and the "what abouts" started: What about inequality? What about evil multinational corporations? What about... one gets the idea. When I responded by pointing to the data, one student actually had the balls to declare that all statistics are lies. Yes, I replied, but they're lies that contain truth. It took him a minute to digest that one.

The questions continued well into the break, and arms continued to fly into the air (I wouldn't acknowledge anybody unless they raised their hands). I eventually had to declare the class over and thank everybody for the interest, but it was just bizarre to listen to that many people trying their very best to deny even the possibility of good news.

posted by Jeremy at 1:52 AM