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An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,868

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Iona Italia is an Author and Translator, and a Sub-Editor for Areo Magazine, and Host of Two for Tea. She discusses: Margaret Atwood, a feminist frame for research, feminisms, and 1694 to 1770; equality playing out in the daily lives of ordinary women; social equality and legal equality; impacts on the further equality of women; the reaction of men when they came back from the war, and the counter-reaction of women; precedents of women entering into new arenas as a trend; sex and gender divide by disciplines; and sympathy.

Keywords: Areo Magazine, Iona Italia, Margaret Atwood, Parsi, Two for Tea, Zoroastrianism.

An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy: Host, Two for Tea & Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When you were talking earlier about a feminist frame for the research, what was the understanding of a women’s movement, of feminism, at that time?

Because we live in a time when there are, more properly framed, “feminisms.” I know Margaret Atwood commonly states it is probably at least 50 things, depending on who you’re talking to. At the time, from 1694 to 1770, what did they mean?

Dr. Iona Italia: When I was doing my Ph.D., I was interested in women’s position in society and how the way that they talked about themselves and they represented themselves as women reflected those kinds of stereotypes. The way that they played with those stereotypes, e.g., the old maid being one of the obvious ones.

Jacobsen: Right.

Italia: Yes. It wasn’t necessarily that those stereotypes created a victimhood stance. I was interested in that, in women, their position in society, women as writers, et cetera. I wasn’t exclusively interested in that, but that was what I began being interested in for my Ph.D.

Then I noticed that there were five women – well, four and the maybe. They are all anonymous. The one whose identity we haven’t yet discovered was probably a woman. There are various theories, though. I thought five is the perfect number for a Ph.D. It is one per chapter, and then the introduction and conclusion. That is why I decided to focus on the women essayists, rather than looking at women poets or novelists.

They did not think of themselves as feminist. That term wasn’t used. Feminism as we know it, I would say, did not begin until 1788, with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. What we have in earlier works, pre-Wollstonecraft, with people like Mary Astell, I would say they are classic battle-of-the-sexes style things. It is all about which sex is better, men or women.

There were some people in the early 18th century. A lot of people published. For example, there is one called From Abbasia to Zenobia. It is a biographical mini-encyclopedia or dictionary of famous women. It is a book celebrating famous women throughout history.

There are also some works that are addressed to usually upper-class women, which are educational works, which are encouraging women to study botany or astronomy or mathematics, often framing that as a man teaching his daughter or a brother teaching his sister and it is “The Lady’s Guide to” whatever. There are also those kinds of works.

There are some works, like Mary Astell’s, which advocate a pseudo-nunnery style situation, a pseudo-university for women. (What Mary Astell is advocating is a college.) Then there are also a lot of polemical works that have titles like “The Proof that Woman is Superior to Man,” and things like that. This is the battle of the sexes. None of those things are what I would describe as feminism. Although, you could say that these are women-centric writings and concerns.

But feminism begins where it is not a battle, but it is about equal rights. That begins with Mary Wollstonecraft. The systematic definition of that begins with Mary Wollstonecraft.

2. Jacobsen: How was women’s position in society transitioning towards more equality in the 1694 – 1770 period? How was this played out, not necessarily in thematic things like a battle-of-the-sexes form? How was this playing out in the daily lives of ordinary women?

Italia: I would say that I do not think there were a huge number of legal changes happening, but, of course, the Enlightenment was happening. That had a couple of knock-on effects for women, I think. One was that education became much more highly valued, so the proportion of women who were illiterate went down considerably over this period.

Then also, because of this emphasis on rationality, there was more emphasis on education. I was talking earlier about, mostly for upper-class women, this spread of books teaching women different subjects. That became democratized in the 1760s with the magazines.

The original magazines were huge tomes, monthly tomes. They had lots of this educational material inside them. You would pick up a magazine, open it up. There would be an article on the flora and fauna of Sri Lanka with fold-out illustrations and things like that.

Magazines were affordable. They were often available in public spaces, like cafes and coffee houses and in people’s houses, where domestic servants would have access to reading them. You did not have to buy a copy to be able to see it. I think that also helped women’s education and self-awareness.

The decline in superstition. 1733 was the last time that a witch was burned in Great Britain, in Tring, in Hertfordshire. Clearly, that also improved women’s lots.

In general, during the Enlightenment, there was a strong emphasis on questioning authority, on not accepting authority, of any kind, blindly. That began with not accepting the divine right of kings. That began with The Glorious Revolution.

Then, of course, the questioning of religion and Christianity, which the church was able to fight back against in Europe. But in the UK much less so, the church was so much weakened by what had happened during The Glorious Revolution. Of course, it was a logical next step from there to questioning the authority of husbands over wives.

3. Jacobsen: What came first, social equality or legal equality?

Italia: I think it depends on the specific law. Sometimes, laws are changed to reflect what is already common behaviour. Other times, laws are changed first and then behaviours gradually change.

4. Jacobsen: After 1770, what were some major developments in other parts of the world that were directly or even derivatively impacted by this development of further equality for women?

Italia: That is a good question. If you’re talking globally, then I do not know. If you’re talking about the West, then, eventually, women began to enter the professions. That happened around the 1870s, 1880s, starting with medicine. There were a couple of famous women in the 18th century who dressed and lived as men and entered the medical profession, as everybody knows. Women began officially entering the professions starting with medicine in the 1870s, ’80s.

Then you had the suffrage movement. Women got the vote. I think largely as a result of the First World War; women began entering the workforce in greater numbers. Those are some of the larger developments that happened.

5. Jacobsen: After the world wars, when the men came back, what was the reaction of the men? What was the counter-reaction of the women, in general?

Italia: There was a strong backlash against feminism after the Second World War, after the First World War I think even more so. There was a strong backlash among many men who had been to war who felt that women were complaining about nothing. They had it too easy because they hadn’t had to go to war.

In the meantime, of course, during the war, women had had to take over many jobs that had previously been male jobs. For example, here in Buenos Aires, there is a bridge called Puente de la Mujer, the “Woman’s Bridge,” which was entirely designed by women engineers and built by women construction workers because the men were at war. That was a genie that it was not possible to put back into the bottle.

6. Jacobsen: Does this reflect a common trend for centuries, women seen as not being able to do something, some cultural or historical event requires women to simply do something when the men are not there, or the women making their way in some way and then that basically being continual waves of genies’ bottles being opened up and then the genies not being able to put back into the bottles? I guess the current example is Will Smith now, in the new Aladdin.

Italia: [Laughing] I think so. There is also the question of average preferences. This is the other side to the coin, which is if women are not within a profession, to what extent is that social? To what extent do women prefer certain professions over others?

Also, I do not think there is anything particularly and intrinsically good about every profession having a 50/50 male/female balance. That is only good if otherwise, it is stopping people who would be happier doing that profession from being in that profession. Otherwise, there is no intrinsic reason why every profession must have 50/50.

There may be a reinforcing factor, which, maybe, also, that women prefer to be in professions where there are some other women around. That may also put the brakes on opening of new areas. Then, obviously, there are things that require more upper-body strength, or which call for more risk. Women are less keen to take physical risk than men.

I do not know. I think that it is hard to tell always how much of a thing is socialized and how much is nature. That is an impossible question to answer unless we do “the forbidden experiment.” I do not know if you have heard about this. You would kidnap a bunch of babies and throw them together on a deserted island and leave them with enough food and resources that they wouldn’t die and wait to see what society they would build.

A few people have attempted to do crazy things like this, like Rousseau, on a small scale. Since you cannot do that experiment—it is not ethical—we do not know how that experiment would turn out, so we’re always working with what we have and developing from where we are. I think that there is a tendency in some strings of feminism—I’ve noticed it a lot in the men’s rights movement, as well—to completely disregard biology.

For example, the wage gap may not at all be at all due to discrimination, but it may be due to women’s voluntary choices of certain professions and those professions being less well paid. “Why they are less well paid?” is another question, but it may not be a sexual discrimination factor.

And then men’s rights activists always complaining about men are committing suicide more often, living less time, I think it is a nine-year average shorter lifespan and performing less well in academics during puberty and early adulthood. All of those could be due to biology, for obvious reasons. Testosterone is not conducive to concentrating or focusing. One would expect men to have more trouble focusing during the period when your testosterone is highest, which is school, early university.

Also, men dying sooner than women is what we would expect from biology. There is a cuts-both-ways thing, here, going on. When we see disadvantages, we do not know if disadvantages are the result of discrimination, or the result of biological factors which we could mitigate, as we did, for example, with birth control, or biological factors that we cannot easily mitigate. Hard to say, but it is a complicated issue.

7. Jacobsen: It is a complicated issue. It requires extensive conversation. It also requires a courage, in the current moment somewhat limited, to look at the facts, admit them, of which there are fair points on all sides, not two, and then having a distanced, relatively objective analysis of things insofar as one can attain it.

However, if we look at English literature, or English, psychology, and medicine, we can see a stark split by sex and gender, in general, compared to physics, cosmology, mathematics, engineering. We see these. We note them. In some reportage, there does seem to be an indication of quiet – within admissions offices – selection for more men in certain areas, simply to balance things out in terms of the ledger of gender or sex in the universities.

Italia: There seem to be some preference things at stake, as I understand it, at school, if they are taking sciences. In some educational systems, you can stop taking it at a certain age, like 16. Girls’ and boys’ performances are equal, or girls generally outperform boys in all subjects except maths.

They outperform them in sciences at school, but they do not choose to take science at university in the same numbers. Certain sciences, they do. Biology, I think, is now equal. Medicine has more women than men, but physics, engineering, et cetera. That suggests that something is going on, some factor is going on there that is not aptitude related. It could be socialization. It could be choice. We do not know.

I do slightly have some sympathy with positive discrimination in favour of men in arts and humanities. Because, I feel, in science, it is not important what the sex is of the person doing the work; although, I would love to see more women in science. I do not think science suffers from having fewer women in it.

I do not think there is a feminine approach that would benefit science. However, in arts and humanities, I think that your subjective approach can be much more coloured by your personal experience, so I think it is actually more important to have more gender balance in those subjects. That is my personal feeling. But I do not think it should be forced, either. I do not generally like positive discrimination much because it is unfair, but I have a little more sympathy with it in that case.

8. Jacobsen: In my own perspective, everyone has my sympathy because, in a way, we’re at a historically unprecedented moment. I think everyone is trying to figure it out at the same time, and not on this question or this set of questions alone, and so everyone has my sympathy.

Italia: [Laughing].

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Host, Two for Tea; Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 15). An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on 1694-1770, Sex and Gender Dynamics in History, and Universal Sympathy (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,454

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Sarah Lubik is the Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Concentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She discusses: innovation, science, and economics; and the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda of Canada.

Keywords: Canada, entrepreneurship, innovation, Sarah Lubik, science, SFU, technology.

An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development: Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & InnovationConcentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Part Four)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, there’s an article in 2016, where the first sentence described you as “one of Canada’s 10 Innovation Leaders who will help form the nation’s Innovation Agenda.” (SFU News, 2016). I’m referencing with respect to that time stamp.

This is being spearheaded by Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. What is your particular role? What is the overall vision? How will this Innovation Agenda be implemented?

Dr. Sarah Lubik: Lot of good questions. Navdeep Bains and his ministry are spearheading the formation and implementation of Canada’s Inclusive Innovation Agenda. This was started in collaboration with the Ministers of Science, and Small Business

Ten leaders were picked from across the country as people who could help, gather, activate, and excite Canadians across the country about innovation and to gather grassroots and bottom-up ideas for what the Innovation Agenda should look like.

One of the things that is important to understand, that I’m glad our government understands, is that you cannot top-down command innovation, at least that I’ve seen. Passion drives innovation and entrepreneurship, if you try to create an innovation strategy nationally without getting buy-in from people in the country, you will end up with a great deal of shelf ware. Recommendations and reports that will be difficult to do anything about in practice.

What you need is to find out what do people actually want to do and what do they see as the challenges and how might you get around those challenges, and when you set that big vision, how will people across the country see themselves in it?

So, our job was to bring together these members of the community across the country and host roundtables and events with experts, one of the other reasons they asked the innovation leaders rather than run it through the government was because they also wanted to get the perspective of people who were not the usual suspects,

That they wouldn’t necessarily have thought of or had access to.

The outside perspectives also led to more outside perspectives. One of the other innovation leaders from back East went down to the States and to learn what we could learn from them. Back to my trend of being opportunistic, I was going over to Cambridge, England to be at an R&D management conference with some European leaders around innovation.

So, I enlisted a roundtable there to talk about what we learned from places around the world and what would be their advice for Canada, given what they’d seen work, and not work, elsewhere.

One of the other things that we did was bring together a number of different communities.

That’s why it can be so helpful to have a university’s backing when you’re doing innovation. SFU actually hosted a sold-out event of 170 people at the Center for Dialogue, partnering with the Center for Dialogue and Public Square at SFU, but also the early stage incubator Venture Connection, RADIUS Futurepreneur, the Beach Association a more. The whole point of this was to get as many different communities as possible. We set the scene, and asked “How do we create a more entrepreneurial and socially innovative society?”

It was a friendly conversation with the public as well as leaders from the First Nations Community and from Social Innovation Community and a Tech Community -To get the public and the experts talking across communities.

What we found from having that event was actually a lot of the challenges these communities of people were facing where the same, and that we could learn a lot for each other.

With regard to wanting people to be more entrepreneurial, no matter what community you came from, people were concerned about things like if you want too entrepreneurial, will there be security for you, what will the rewards be?  Can our national systems be better set up to take care of innovators and entrepreneurs?

If you have come up with a great idea or a great initiative, whether you’re social or tech, do we know how to scale them effectively in Canada? How can we support that? Then how can we create and maintain talents?

We have many fantastic international students with entrepreneurial hopes but then if they come up with a venture they want to take forward, how can they do that if they can only stay if they work for someone else’s company?

How do we bring in leaders? Because again, we’re a small country. The people who have grown 100 million dollar companies in Canada are few and far between us.

The thought process was that if we can bring in more of them, more people can learn at the feet of giants.

A big take away from that event was that these communities have a lot in common and a lot to learn from each other. We need to make sure that in the Canadian Innovation Agenda, we were speaking to a diverse range of people and that the Canadian entrepreneurial community has a lot of communities within it.

These findings were delivered to the ministries to help inform Canada’s next steps around innovation.

There was also a website where Canadians were asked to tweet or submit their ideas for a more innovative is Canada. What can we do to use innovation to make the lives of Canadians better?

There are so many excellent pieces of feedback including “focus on problems that matter to the world”. The innovation leaders have also been invited Ottawa and other ventures to talk to different leaders and communities.

What did we learn? What did we hear? What would our advice be? We came back with more interesting perspectives like from a woman who said, “How do we make innovation as Canadian as hockey? Everyone gets that here. Most Canadians get their first pair of skates or have their first hockey lesson, what’s the innovation equivalent?”

Can we answer that question? I thought that was brilliant. With my own experience of bringing those different communities together, one of the pieces of feedback that I thought was important to give way that is an opportunity for Canada to build its own brand of innovation.

Are we in place that solves problems that matter to Canada and the world? That comes back to your question on why would people stay. That’s also important to say, “What does Canada mean when it says that it’s going to be an innovative nation?”

That we are collaborators and peacekeepers, whether you like that or not; it’s the reputation we have internationally.  There’s a reason why we usually travel pretty happily with a Canadian flag on our back.

So, building on what’s already established as this friendly, collaborative, intelligent country, can we be the place you come to solve problems that matter to Canada and the world? So, those are the pieces of feedback I gave.

Regardless of what innovation leader talked to who and where, coming back to where you and I started, entrepreneurial talent came to the forefront. The culture and the mindset of it.

The culture and the mindset that comes with being entrepreneurial, whether it’s your need to start your own company or being an agent of innovation – being that person that finds a way to make sustainable economic and social value from innovation.

With that definition, you can be an entrepreneur whether you’re in a big company or government or a small company or non-profit.  So, right across the board, no matter what sector you’re in.

When I met different officials, they asked great questions around, “How can we either help or boost with the systems we already have, the resources we already have?”  One of the things that makes me happy is to look at the government and seeing them actively try to strengthen our system of innovation and spurring innovation through investment in talent.

But also, are there systems that need to change?’ Yes, there are.

2. Jacobsen: Where is an area where Canada is a complete whole in its innovation and entrepreneurship agenda? And what are we not succeeding in where you need to get on because it’s one of the major future industries that Canada with its current talent pool could capitalize on?

Lubik: So, I have to unpack that question because with the current talent pool that might be one of the challenges of making sure that those translational skills we talked about at the beginning, that ability to speak across disciplines to deeply understand probable outcomes, etc., haven’t been part of traditional curriculum In particular, it’s important to not to confuse technology talent with entrepreneurial talent. It’s easy to talk about innovation and think we need to learn tech, and we do, but we need entrepreneurs from every sector and background.

We have good schools; we graduate smart people. But are their skills and mindset necessarily the skills and mindset you need for innovation when you look at Canada’s performance on international indexes? We don’t do nearly as well as you’d think. In particular, we don’t rank highly on the commercialization of the world-class research we have, because we do rank pretty highly on global research rankings.

However, on getting that research out into the world, we do poorly. So, we have to get better translating it into a useful application, then into companies or ventures. Hence the commercialization program I mentioned earlier.

This is a place where that talent creation is going to be so critical. It’s also where systems are going to be important because one of the things that is not been happening is what I’ve seen in my own research, and looking in other countries, has been people taking bets on innovation in the earlier, less risky stages.

So, waiting until you get to the point where venture capitalists or at least angel investors can invest and say, “We’re going to put all our money there.” The problem with that, going back to what we originally talked about, is that innovation happens on a continuum and in a social system.

So, if you haven’t built that talent that understands translation and understands how to work in teams and how to actually take those great ideas forward, then none of that moves any farther forward. A lot of that great work and research is going to go nowhere because you don’t have the talent to create those big visions and take them forward. That means pouring investments onto a few good ideas that got through, which is not what we should be doing.

If you look at how innovation usually works, you want a lot of tries. Few people are successful on the first go. So, you want people who have been serial entrepreneurs before they’ve been out of school or people who have tried and learned.

Then by the time you get to that later stage, there should be more to choose from. So, one of the keys of how we could do right with this – one of the things Canada could do – if we looked at innovation as a system, as a continuum, and make sure that investment is going in all the different stages.

You need quality and quantity is the beginning, those people who can be serial entrepreneurs or serial innovators, who have taken shots and created teams.

They’ve dealt with ambiguity, who have connections into the ecosystem, who have connections into all the resources that they need and then you’re going to get a bigger quantity of saleable businesses and of high growth and high impact businesses etc.

That will help take the Innovation Agenda forward and help, I hope.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Concentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 15). An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (Part Four) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/lubik-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,249

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy is the Founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Founder of the Muslims Against Terrorism. He discusses: narratives of Canadian Muslims; certain media outlets or anchors who are fanning the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment; countering hate groups and hate movements; conversations within Islamic theology; leading Sufi scholars; concerns and hopes as we’re moving forward as a country further into 2019; and negotiable and non-negotiable aspects of Islamic theology.

Keywords: Islam, Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, Muslim, Muslims Against Terrorism, Sufi, Syed Soharwardy.

An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology: Founder, Islamic Supreme Council of Canada; Founder, Muslims Against Terrorism[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you were to relay some stories or narratives in conversation with Canadian Muslims about their own experiences, what would those be? What would their experiences be of a rise of hate crimes, of the experiences of some Canadian Muslims in Canada?

Imam Syed Soharwardy: With the rise in Islamophobia and hate crimes, we still believe Canada is the best country on the planet. We believe in the Canadian system and the Canadian leaders, whether the background is religious or ethnic.

It is a place where people of faith and non-faith can come together and live in peace and harmony. There are some people who come and spread hate, who are in the minority. Unfortunately, hate and violence are more viable than love and peace. The stories of this country for Canadian Muslims is that we live in the best country; that God has blessed us with a place like Canada as a home.

2. Jacobsen: Are there certain media outlets or anchors who are fanning the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment? Or is this something simply coming out in the media more?

Soharwardy: Yes, I know there are some outlets. I don’t want to give them an advertisement.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Soharwardy: I have confronted them. They have confronted me, in the past. They dislike Islam anywhere. No matter how good a Muslim becomes. They hate him, or her. In the past, when I had to face these people, they are 25 or 30 people at most.

They were putting anti-Muslim comments on websites. They are very active. It looks like a lot. But no, they are very small. We have seen the Yellow Vest movement in Canada. The Yellow Vest movement was all about the economic prosperity and the crunch Canada is facing, as in France.

Those kinds of things have all symptoms of being frustrated within the nation; thus, they became anti-immigrant. Those people are very small. They can get into many of the good organizations and then contaminate the whole environment.

But we are not represented by those people. Even though, they cause concern. The majority of Canadians are decent people, tolerant and accepting people. They have no problem with ant segment of the society.

We stand side by side. Those who are hatemongers. We pray for them that God changes their heart.

3. Jacobsen: Who has been important in the efforts to counter hate groups and hate movements, or those who want incite, very consciously, hatred against individuals or groups in this country?

Soharwardy: I think it is at all levels of the government being worked on, as they can. I always say, “They are not doing enough.” But the law enforcement is doing their best to monitor and see those people who are inciting violence against anybody.

They are the ones who have the responsibility to protect all Canadians equally. But the same, Muslims in this place of the world acknowledge the Indigenous peoples have been here since God knows when.

Muslims know the history of this part of the world. Whenever we come, we had to face a hard time. When the Jews came, they had to face a hard time. When the Sikhs from India came, we know what happened to them. When the Japanese came, we know what happened to them.

When the Chinese came, we know what happened to them. We did not face a hard time like the Chinese, Sikhs, Jews, and others, in the past. We were lucky. Civilization has matured. People understand diversity.

There are bad elements that cause racism and violence against minorities anyway.

4. Jacobsen: When it comes to the more advanced and graduate-level, professional theologian levels, of Islam, what is the conversation right now? How are things developing along those more advanced lines? The nuances of the faith being discussed intellectually. I mean the specialist-intellectuals who professionally read, research, and think about Sufi Islam.

Soharwardy: I think it people who research and have a modern interest. People are getting inclined towards the Sufi interpretation of Islam, especially Sunni-Sufi Islam. It focuses on the main meditation and centrality of the person and life of the Prophet (pbuh).

There is quite a bit of research happening in theology departments around the world. There are all levels of degrees offered in many places around the world. There were many Ph.D. students working on various Sufis of Islam and Sufi theology of Islam.

They were doing those things. There was a tremendous interest in the Sufi interpretation of Islam. I am so happy that several bridge-minded academics who used to be in their past life quite supportive of Salafi-Wahabbi school of thought are changing their mind.

I see it in Pakistan, where, in the past, even currently, there is a lot of Saudi influence. It has brought Wahabbism in Afghanistan and Iraq, and elsewhere. People are realizing that this Salafi-Wahabbism is violent, the Devil’s interpretation of Islam.

They are coming back to the Sufi version or interpretation of Islam; that this is the correct or true interpretation of Islam. That is what caused Muslim deaths. We never hated God’s creation. We live in peace with our Christian, Jewish, and other people of different faiths.

They have a different faith than us. They practice their faith. We practice our faith. It depends on the faith. We still love each other as creations of God.

5. Jacobsen: Who would you consider some of the leading Sufi scholars today?

Soharwardy: There are many Sufi scholars, especially in North Africa. There is Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi who is very respected in Morocco. He lives in France. There is the chancellor at Al-Azhar. There are several scholars in Egypt.

I met some scholars in Syria. I met some who came as refugees in Canada. They have been quite intellectual on the Sufi Islam. So, there are many others in Pakistan. There are people who are quite learned people of the Sufi version of Islam.

Shaykh Habib in Yemen, he is a very good Sufi person. There are many in Canada now. It is a growing population around the world.

6. Jacobsen: If we’re now back to Canada rather than the international perspective, as we’re moving more into 2019, what are your concerns and hopes as we’re moving forward as a country further into 2019?

Soharwardy: 2019 is going to be a very important year because there are the federal elections upcoming. We hope that the next government, whoever the government will be, will stay on the path of tolerance and diversity.

That they do not take an extreme path and do not follow the Donald Trump line. Our government in Canada should continue in the way of our traditions. We are peacemakers and not warriors.

We do not get into wars. We work towards peace. This is the stance of Canada in the world. We hope the economic prosperity will continue. In Alberta, we have problems because of this oil price and the pipeline.

I am hoping that because I am Albertan and have been here more than a quarter of a century. It is my home. [Laughing] I would hope the government would realize that it is affecting thousands and thousands of families in Alberta because of this pipeline issue.

It is a survival issue for many, many families. I know many families. They have no jobs. They are hand to mouth. They are below the poverty level. I know how many Muslim families are depending on the food banks.

They can even be professionals. This is the issue in Alberta. I would hope 2019 would bring some senses to the people who are causing these kinds of uncertainties in our country. And that the federal government continues on the path of immigration.

I know Mr. Trudeau stated that they will bring 1,000,000 immigrants in the next 2-4 years. I think this is good for making a good tax base for the government. This is the secret of the United States being the world power. It is immigration.

With Canada, it is on the right path. Hopefully, this continues and the economic prosperity will help each and every Canadian be treated with dignity and respect. I want people to realize that this pipeline issue should be resolved.

It is 2019. I think in British Columbia; they’re seeing this as an environmental issue. We are concerned about it. It is my faith requirement to keep the environment clean because it is God’s gift to us.

We should not be polluting the environment. But there are thousands and thousands and thousands of families who should not be deprived of their basic needs.

7. Jacobsen: Now, if you looked at, let’s say, primary aspects of the faith, and if you looked at secondary aspects of the faith, of the Sufi interpretation of Islam, what is negotiable? What is non-negotiable?

Soharwardy: What is non-negotiable is the teachings of the Holy Quran and the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), those cannot be interpreted. That is totally unacceptable. I will not allow others to misinterpret it, as with this Victoria, B.C. imam. This thing about Christmas.

It is non-negotiable. I am 100% sure that he is wrong. It is against our scriptures. It is against the prophet’s teachings (pbuh). It is against the faith. What is negotiable within the Muslim community, we have been different definitions and different internal positions and perspectives, and way of life, as long as we are law-abiding citizens of this country.

We can accept and disagree. What I cannot accept, violence against innocent people, hatemongering, or rigged and narrow-minded views towards any segment of the society; this goes against basis and the foundation of my society.

This is what the Sufis always believe. You have to always believe to accept diversity and acceptance. You have to understand all humanity has created differences intentionally, not all people are the same. The Quran says that God created us different nations, and colours, and peoples so that we can unite. This has to happen.

This is the Sufi tradition, which is the basic Islamic tradition.

8. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Imam Soharwardy.

Soharwardy: Thank you very much, Scott, thank you very much, bye.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Islamic Supreme Council of Canada; Founder, Muslims Against Terrorism.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Image Credit: Imam Syed Soharwardy.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 15). An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Sufi Imam Syed Soharwardy on Canadian Muslim Narratives and Theology (Part Two)[Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-sufi-imam-syed-soharwardy-on-canadian-muslim-narratives-and-theology-part-two/.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,848

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ is an Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. He discusses: declines or apparent declines in IQ over the last decade or so; the changes in the notions, or the formal definitions, and research, and trends into race, class, and IQ over time; general thoughts about the state of academic freedom and the state of graduates; modern developments of things like research ethics boards, REB and IRB; what the socio-political left and right are doing right and wrong in the academic system, in the humanities, regarding academic freedom; justifications for an ethics review or not; historical precedents of adherence to the principles of freedom of academic inquiry; persecution comparable to The Red Scare and the McCarthy Era; egregious cases in the modern period of persecution; trajectories into research on IQ and intelligence; the future of the academic system regarding freedom of expression (and so freedom of speech); and overall thoughts on life’s work. 

Keywords: academic freedom, general intelligence, intelligence, IQ, James Flynn, political studies.

An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work: Emeritus Professor, Political Studies, University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand (Part Three)[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about the declines, or apparent declines, in IQ over the last decade or so?

Professor James Flynn: People have never understood that the factors that feed into IQ gains are quite complex and interlinked. I do not know if you have seen the article with the very distinguished British psychologist, Michael Shayer, that we published in Intelligence.

People focus on Scandinavia but most of the Scandinavian data are young adults taking military tests, and it could well be that the environmental triggers for IQ gains have declined for that age-group while they have not declined for other age-groups. For example, in all cultures today, including Scandinavia, there is much more emphasis on cognitive exercise in old age. This may still be progressing today and if you looked at the aged in Scandinavia, you would find gains.

I have studied the Dutch. I suspect that the Dutch are still treating their aged better, making them healthier, and giving them more food, and more cognitive stimulation. Then we go down to mature adults who are in the world of work. There is some Wechsler data showing that in that age group, IQ gains are still proceeding, meaning the world of work in Holland is still more cognitively challenging than it was 30 years ago.

Then you come down to the kids just out of school who aren’t in the world of work. There is overwhelming data that in most Western societies, males are interfacing with formal education worse than they did in the past: more expulsions, less homework, more rebellion. At that age, Dutch IQ may be slightly lower than in the previous generation.

Then you look at the Dutch down at preschool and you find, essentially, stasis. This is before kids go to school. It appears that their environment is neither better nor worse. Perhaps parents have exhausted their bag of tricks for making the childhood environment cognitively demanding, but they haven’t lost any ground either.

The question of IQ gains over time must be looked at in the light of full data that involves all age groups. Remember, again, my point, that whether we have slight increases in IQ during the 21st century, is far less important than the level of ignorance during the 21st century.

2. Jacobsen: [Laughing] Looking at the research since 2000, how have the notions, or the formal definitions, and research, and trends into race, class, and IQ changed over time as further research has been done?

Flynn: As for race, those who want to evade the issue still say, “Oh, the races just differ in term of class.” This is ludicrous because as you know, if you match black and whites for socioeconomic status, it does almost nothing to eliminate the IQ gap.

Then you say: “But the black class is more insecure, they are more recently arrived at middle-class status, and thus class does not mean the same thing for black and white.” Note those words. Although it is never admitted, you have slipped from a class analysis into a black subculture analysis. You are saying that you can no longer look at this issue purely in terms of socioeconomic status. You must look behind matching for SES and see what is going on in the minds and hearts of people. Despite this, there is an enormous inhibition against using the notion of subculture. This has to do with weird notions about praise and blame.

If you look at Elsie Moore, you think, “Isn’t she saying that black mothers are less efficient mothers than white mothers? Isn’t she saying that they are more negative? Isn’t more corporal punishment waiting in the wings?” Maybe there is. If so, these things must be isolated and altered. But they make white scholars shudder. If they talk about black subculture, they will be accused of “blaming the victim”.

The cover is to talk vaguely about the fact that blacks have a history of slavery for which they are not to blame. And that they are poor for which they are not to blame. This is a sad evasion. Unless the history of blacks has current effects on their subculture, it would be irrelevant. Once again, you must come back to subculture. Note that the Chinese have a history of persecution but that is irrelevant because their subculture today is not affected in a way that lowers their mean IQ.

I do think that there has been a rise in the number of people who take Jensen’s hypotheses seriously. I have. Dick Nisbett has. Steve Cici has. Bill Dickens has. How do you balance that against this deeply rooted feeling that any investigation in this area has to be subject to a moral censor?

Jacobsen: This leads into the book you are going to be publishing later.

Flynn: The one on the universities?

3. Jacobsen: Yes. It has to do with academic freedom and the prevention of certain research. Also, in terms of what is coming out of the universities in terms of the graduates, what are your first general thoughts about the state of academic freedom and the state of graduates?

Flynn: There is a sad intolerance on the parts of students when they encounter people who hold ideals or ideas that they find repugnant. Look at the persecution of Charles Murray. I do not, by the way, deny that this sort of thing happened in the past. When I was a young academic, I was persecuted for being a social democrat and driven out of US academia, so I am not one of these elderly people who say, “It was nice in my day.”

It is ironic that the left today seem as intolerant as the right were in my day. When students banished Charles Murray at Middlebury University, they merely proved they were more powerful than he was and could threaten him with violence. There was not one person in that mob educated enough to argue effectively against his views. They did not know what he had to say and never having heard him, they will never know. They mimicked lecturers who said, “This man is a racist. Let us keep him off campus.” That is one force against academic freedom.

The is also the fact that no young academic has security. Over half of the courses in America today are taught by adjunct professors.

They have no tenure and can be fired at the drop of the hat. They know where their careers lie. Imagine giving a vita to a university and saying on it, “One of my chief interests is research into racial differences and intelligence and the necessity of an evidential approach to the work of Arthur Jensen.” What chance do you think you would have? You wouldn’t get hired. You wouldn’t get given tenure. You might as well jump off a bridge.

People are being fired in American universities today, merely because they use the term “wetback” in a lecture, which is considered so offensive that they could not possibly apologize for it.

The administrators, of course, are supine. They just want as little trouble as possible, and the least trouble possible is to have a speech code. When a student is upset, you get the lecturer fired. If the lecturer remains, there is trouble and controversy. What other people do to academics is one source.

The second source is what academics do to themselves. There are certain departments where there is what I call “a Walden Code”. The phrase is taken from Skinner’s book Walden Two, which has a code that describes what is permissable. Various academic departments tend to enforce such a code.

In anthropology, if you are a Piagetian, and you think that societies could be ranked in terms of mental maturity, you are considered unholy. If you are in education and you think that IQ tests have a role to play, people recoil in horror. IQ tests rank people, and what education is all about is producing a society in which no-one ranks anyone else.

Then there are the new groups like black studies where there is often a fierce fight between ideologies as to who gets control. Who gets control is very likely to banish the others. Whether you are a revolutionary black Marxist, or whether you are this or that. There is a great deal of intolerance.

The same is true of women’s studies, though by no means in all departments. My department here at Otago is good. But in many of them, you cannot seriously investigate the reasons why women have less pay than men. It is automatically attributed to male malice without looking at all the sociological variables.

There is also the larger issue of what universities are doing to their students in general. They do not educate them for critical intelligence but to just get a certificate for a job. And some departments see themselves as sending out missionaries, for example, Schools of Education send students out to turn the schools into an imitation of a “liberated” society.

The teachers and students bat ideas around, but the teacher steers the conversation toward America’s ills points out that there are poor people in America, and that rich people profit from the poor, and that blacks and gays suffer. All very true. But the students arrive at university without learning what they need to cope.

My book gives a classical defence of free speech. It details the knowledge I would have been cheated out of had I not benefited from arguing against Jensen, and Murray, and Lynn, and Eysenck. It details all the threats to free speech posed by the university environment.

4. Jacobsen: How important are modern developments of things like research ethics boards, REB and IRB?

Flynn: Some of these, of course, are appropriate. You do not want psychologists experimenting with how students perform at various levels of inebriation, and then let them drive home and kill each other in traffic accidents. Certain ethical codes are important. The abuse is when they are used to ban research that the university knows is unpopular.

A point that I haven’t touched on. The natural sciences, the mathematical sciences, and professions like law and medicine are not exempt from pressures toward conformity, but they do have to educate for the relevant knowledge, and they are less subject to corruption. I guess you could take an ideological line in favour of Newton, an Englishman, and against Leibniz, a Frenchman. I once knew a lecturer who turned his Accounting classes into a plea for Social Darwinism. But still, students have got to learn to do the math.

In physics, it is hard to take an ideological line when you teach the oxygen theory of combustion against the phlogiston theory. The same is true of chemistry. After all, your graduates go on to graduate schools and you don’t want them to embarrass you by seeming woefully inept. Someone must be able to do surgery without always nicking the tonsils in the process.

The hard sciences have an incentive to maintain a higher standard of intellectual training than the humanities and social sciences. Yet they can easily be corrupted by the fact that they usually require lots of money. The government put strings on what money it is willing to give, and corporations put strings on what money they are willing to give. They can effectively forbid research that they dislike.

My book does not go into that. It is mainly about the humanities and the social sciences. I am told that the Trump administration is trying to do awful things to the biological sciences when funding the National Health Foundation. He is certainly discouraging research into climate change.

5. Jacobsen: If you were to take what would be termed the socio-political left and the socio-political right in the academic system, in the humanities, what are they doing right and what are they doing wrong regarding academic freedom?

Flynn: They are doing something right insofar as they are scientific realists, and they are doing something wrong insofar as they are not. [Laughing] Of course, that is not purely a political divide. There are plenty of people both on the so-called left and on the right who live in an ideological dream world, an image of man and society which they try to “protect” by getting people fired they disagree with.

But fortunately, on both right and left, there are people who say, “We have got the scientific method. It is the only method that actually teaches us what the real world is like, and we’re going to fight like crazy to apply it despite all of the forces against us.

6. Jacobsen: If an academic on either side of the aisle want to make a point as in the ends justify the means, is it justified for them to simply ignore or skip an ethics review and potential need for ethics approval in a university when they are doing research?

Flynn: The notion that the end justifies the means, if stretched far enough, will open the door to censorship. There are limits, of course. I wouldn’t be in favour of a physics department that spent all of its time trying to develop a doomsday machine: how to dig a hole, and put enough nuclear weapons in there, so that any nuclear attack on your soil would trigger a nuclear explosion that would tilt the earth on its axis. [Laughing]

There are also limits in the humanities. To have a whole department of geology dominated by people who believe in crop circles, would also be bizarre. What you have got to do is say, “The scientific community recognizes that there are screwballs out there. We have got to take efforts to try to limit their presence in the classroom. But we must always, always be alert to the difference between necessary guidelines and censorship guidelines that allow us to shut up people we disagree with.”

Aristotle called finding this balance “practical wisdom”. I do not know how to give say 90% of academics practical wisdom so they can tell the difference between the two, but it is what academics have got to strive for whether they are right or left.

7. Jacobsen: In what contexts in history have there been academics as a majority who have adhered to those freedom of academic inquiry principles?

Flynn: I am not sure that they have ever been a majority. It is better to ask, “Are there universities today that sin less than others?” I would say that the University of Chicago sins much less than Harvard or Yale. In my book, I detail the extent to which the University of Chicago tries to deal with the forces against free speech on campus, and the extent to which Yale and Harvard have succumbed to these.

When you look at the history of universities, there sure as hell was not much tolerance before let us say about 1920, if only because of the influence the churches and their respectable members. In the 1920s, the Red Scare intimidated thousands of academics. Later, there was the McCarthy period. But in all those periods, there were academics who fought for free speech come hell or high water.

It is hard for me to say what the ebb and flow has been over history. It is much better to look at universities today and see who the worst sinners are.

8. Jacobsen: If you were to take a period-based qualitative analysis, is the persecution now from the so-called left, as you labelled them, worse than those from the so-called right towards the left during, for instance, The Red Scare, or the McCarthy era?

Flynn: I am trying to say that it is too hard to tell. I lived through the McCarthy period. I was damaged by it. My wife was damaged by it. My friends were damaged by it. Obviously, it has an immediacy for me. But at that time, even then, I felt I could probably find somewhere in the academic world where I might find a home.

Today, I look at the young adjunct professor in Virginia frantically trying, despite being an outstanding researcher, to find a berth somewhere, and being terrified of being thought unorthodox. I think today is at least comparable to what went on in the McCarthy period. It shouldn’t be thought of as somehow a lesser influence against freedom of inquiry than what went on then.

9. Jacobsen: What are the more egregious cases in the modern period that come to mind regarding this?

Flynn: The continual firing of adjunct professors because of a slip of the tongue. In my book, I also examine cases in which tenured professors have either been fired or have had their research curtailed. All sorts of things are done to them because they were investigating the wrong issue at the wrong time. Hiring policies. The banning of speakers on campus. All these things are at present in full swing.

10. Jacobsen: What do you see as the trajectory of research into the 2020s on IQ and on intelligence?

Flynn: If you look at problems that do not raise the spectre of race, there’ll be very considerable progress, particularly from the brain physiologists. Also people are becoming more sophisticated in understanding that you must deal with g and not be hypnotized by it.

11. Jacobsen: What about the future of the academic system regarding freedom of expression, not just freedom of speech?

Flynn: There is a real reaction against what is going on. The interesting thing will be to see how far it will go. It will go far only if principled university lecturers get behind the various groups that are fighting like crazy to have a more open university. Heterodox Academy is one such.

I do not know how many university staff still retain academic integrity. I do not know how many of them, integrity aside, can no longer think clearly about issues. I do not know how many of them have sold out to careerist interests, but there do seem to be encouraging signs. A lot of academics are saying, “We’d rather teach in a place like Chicago, and not a place like Yale.” Let us just hope we can turn the tide.

A lot of it will have to do with exterior events. If you get a wartime climate, all reason goes out of the window. What the effects will be of global warming, I would hate to guess. I have no crystal ball, but the universities are in the balance. There are significant pressures against the forces of reaction.

12. Jacobsen: Do you have any further thoughts, overall, just on your life’s work?

Flynn: I do not want to comment on my life’s work. Either it has had an influence, or it hasn’t. [Laughing]

Jacobsen: I think it has. It was nice to talk to you again. Take care. I hope you have a wonderful evening.

Flynn: We will be in touch.

13. Jacobsen: Excellent. Thank you very much.

Flynn: Good-bye.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Emeritus Professor, Political Studies, University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Image Credit: James Flynn.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 8). An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. AAn Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Emeritus Professor James Robert Flynn, FRSNZ on Intelligence, Academic Freedom, and Life’s Work (Part Three) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/flynn-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,145

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Mahua Mukherjee is a Reporter for The Times of India. She discusses: family background; personal story; the Times of India; religion in Indian politics; Hindu nationalism; favourite professional moments; becoming involved in India’s journalistic world as a foreigner; and final feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: journalism, Mahua Mukherjee, politics, religion, reporter, Times of India, writing.

An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism: Reporter, The Times of India[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us start from the top. What is family background, geography, culture, language, and so on?

Mahua Mukherjee: Well I am Mahua Mukherjee and I am from Bihar. I was born in a small border town of Farakka in West Bengal and was brought up in Patna the capital city of Bihar. My parents are from Bengal and shifted to Patna when my father joined the State Bank Of India. I was educated in Notre Dame Academy and then went To Patna Women’s College. Thereafter, I did a crash course in Business Journalism from the Times Centre of Media Studies and joined the Times of India. I can speak three languages English, Hindi and Bengali.

2. Jacobsen: What is your personal story? How did you become involved in journalistic and other work?

Mukherjee: There is nothing great about my personal story. It is an endless saga of trials and tribulations. I wanted to go into academics and had started writing about offbeat stuff right from my college days. I was supported by Mr Uttam Sengupta the resident editor of Patna Times of India. My first story was about A homeopathic doctor Dr Bandhu Sahani who transmitted homeo drugs through hair and you can get cured any where across the globe provided your hair is with him. It sounded fascinating as I was his patient, so I did it I got very good response and he literally long queues outside his clinic in Shivpuri way back in 1990s. Thereafter Uttam sir kept on giving me assignments and I would travel across  the city in search of stories. I got into the mode of being the first one to get the news and tell others. It was like an opium for me. So much so that even after getting a chance to join the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University I opted for Times of India. I broke many important stories as a business journalist and one of my stories about McKinsey report revamp of State Bank Of India was raised in the Parliament and I was very scared. I also received death threats for breaking a major fraud and thereafter I switched to desk reporting. It was during this period I decided to be less adventurous and stay grounded. I wanted to do something different and was given the task of conceptualizing the NIE (Newspaper in education) edition. It was great fun as well as learning experience. All my experiments of telling the news items as stories to my daughter came to use. It was well appreciated. I have also written and   designed a kid’s magazine and want to distribute it free of cost to under privileged kids from government aided schools, but I do not have enough funds to do it. As of now I am working  on the political desk and cater to Western Uttar Pradesh in northern part of the sub-continent.

3. Jacobsen: You have written for the Times of India (TOI). It is huge and prominent Indian publication. To give a sense to the audience here, what is the level of influence of the Times of India on public and public intellectual discourse in the world’s largest democracy?

Mukherjee: It is very true that TOI is very prominent not only in India but also in this part of the globe. Many a times during my stint as a business journalist on global junkets, fellow journalists were literally in awe of the paper and that gave me a kick. We do have various campaigns by our paper, and it acts as a pressure group on the government of the day. Also, some of our campaigns like the current organ donation helps in putting across the message loud and clear to the masses who come forward in large numbers to be a part of the movement initiated by the paper. Also, many a times our human-interest stories have a significant impact on the people. Once a journalist did a story on how an Olympic level archer Limba Ram was living a life of penury and was very unwell. Within 24 hours the apex Olympic Body  got him admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in new Delhi. The minister announced ex-gratia and numerous individuals and NGOs came forward to help him. Not only in India but people across the globe follow Times of India. Way back in 1997 I did a story based on NIMHANS study about nearly 80 percent of Delhi Police personnel being depressed. The next day I got a call from BBC London about how they had got a call from some NGO there who wanted to help the Delhi Police personnel come out of their depression and what was the route they should take and the best way they found was to contact the Times of India through their London office. What I want to prove that Times of India is still followed by the elite and we do make a difference in people’s lives so our stories and whatever we report must be true. We cannot afford to be casual because if we dare to the next day we are literally torn apart. Even small thing like a single column picture of African elephant instead of Indian one tucked somewhere down the inside pages is noticed by our readers. Yes, it feels great to be a part of tradition called the Times of India.

4. Jacobsen: You have written a bit on religion and its influence on politics, where personal identity impacts political trajectory. How important is religion in today’s India?

Mukherjee: Frankly speaking it is some stupid notion fed by some equally stupid journalist to the world and it refuses to go. I have been closely associated with Syed Shah Nawaz Hussein, who being a staunch Muslim, is the national spokesperson the BJP, which for some very strange reason is a communal party. And let me assure you that I have not seen religion being so important to overshadow his political life. Well the great Karl Marx was very right when he said ‘Religion is the opium of the masses’ but here I need to define the word masses. In Indian context masses are the illiterate people who are literally herded by the political leaders for their petty gains. For the educated Indian youth religion is to be practiced inside the four walls of your homes and left there only when you step out. Because they have understood religion is not going to lead them anywhere, so it is very personal. Talking of Shahnawaz Hussein, his wife is a Hindu Brahmin and their sons, studying in London, think religion is as personal as your body. As you do not take off your clothes before everyone, so your belief and how you follow your religion should not be of concern to anybody. On the other end of the spectrum we do have a sizable chunk of the so-called masses for whom religion and politics are the same thing and want to garner votes by dividing the voters. It might work in the interiors of the nation but certainly not among the educated ones.

5. Jacobsen: Is the influence of Hindu nationalism healthy or unhealthy, overall, in India?

Mukherjee: I do not think there is any thing called Hindu nationalism as I have said before for the educated Indian there is no concept of Hindu nationalism. Only because some not so great leader coined some stupid term does not mean it rules our lives. If some government takes steps to protect the cow or clean the Ganga river it does not make them Hindu nationalist. We are secular country and I am very proud of the fact in my country every person is free to follow his or her religion without any fear. Some stray incidents here and there do not make the country Hindu nationalists. Nationalism is just nationalism and religion have no place in it. I refuse to believe in the concept of Hindu nationalism.

6. Jacobsen: What have been your favored moments in professional life so far? What writings are you most proud of looking back now?

Mukherjee: The Mckinsey report,

MS shoes fraud

Urea fraud

Launching of NIE

Branding of Apollo Hospitals

Conceptualising of my kid’s magazine ‘Kalpana’ (PDF Attached)

7. Jacobsen: If a foreigner wanted to become involved in Indian political culture, writing, and journalism, how would they do it? Any recommendations for them?

Mukherjee: To begin with you must become a part of India. You must understand the nuances of the Indian culture which varies from state to state to be able to do justice to your writings. You must learn to love and accept India and Indians with all their shortcomings and follies and begin by reading a lot about India. Where do you start well, come to India be a part of it and the best place to start would be to begin with writing blogs and take it forward and the best place of course in The Times of India .

8. Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

Mukherjee: Journalism is a great responsibility so one must choose their words carefully. A casual question mark at the end of a sentence can create havoc. Be impartial and just be a reporter. We must report facts and do not try to colour your reports with your own thoughts.

9. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mahua.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Reporter, Times of India.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 8). An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and JournalismRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and JournalismIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and JournalismIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Mahua Mukherjee on Life Story, the Times of India, Religion and Politics in India, and Journalism [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mukherjee.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,396

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Alix Jules is a Writer at Patheos Nonreligious. He discusses: secular communities and positive work; the proportion of African Americans who identify, not simply as secular, but as an atheist, in America; the slower trajectory for the black community compared to the white community in America in secularization; and communicating and socializing.

Keywords: Alix Jules, atheism, Catholic, intellectual trajectory, Patheos, secularism.

An Interview with Alix Jules on Background and Meeting an Atheist: Writer (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of the narrative or story provided before, or the personal ups and downs about the trajectory of world view, this has a lot of overlays. Some of them not necessarily stated explicitly, but they’ve come up in other conversations in personal journalistic work, for me, talking to other people in secular communities.

One of them has to do with the explicit and implicit bias, if not outright prejudice, against the secular from the nonsecular, from the religious. Sometimes, it can go the other way. That’s an internal conversation secular communities need to have about civility standards, providing dignity to even those one opposes.

However, in other conversations, we could find sectors of the secular community having conversations about inclusion, the inclusion of more women, the inclusion of more people of colour, not simply having the conversations, but actually doing things about it. In terms of American secular communities, for those who would like to help or include more people of colour, and more women, what would be a baseline recommendation? What has been some positive work that has been done?

Alix Jules: That is a tough one. I used to travel, talking about how we need to build bridges in the secular community. This was one of the first things I did in terms of outreach. My guidance then was first an explanation to these communities as to why it is so difficult to build these bridges.

Even though you’re an atheist- and you may be a white atheist, however you identify, ethnically- when you take a look at black atheists, or atheists of colour, and women, we still exist in a much broader context. This one thing that we share in common, may not be enough to bring us together. In fact, that’s what we’ve seen. If you consider that there was a much larger, much broader big-time atheist movement in the US. There’s been a lot of fracturing and factionalization.

I would argue, no, it’s just what someone would call “dividing lines” have been defining lines, all along. Just because you’re an atheist on those side of the tracks, doesn’t mean that you’re going to cross those tracks to come to see me. So, just saying that, “Hey, I’m an atheist now and we should all just come together and form a large community,” doesn’t work.

The first thing that I tell people is, “You’ve got to be cognizant of all the biases that still exist, even within your own community.” Even if we just say, “I’m a big atheist community.” But 98% are white males. That’s not necessarily inviting because there is the rest of who I am that is built, as a black person, or a person of colour, around the identity of being an atheist.

I have not been profiled in the US driving while being an atheist. I’ve been profiled driving while being black. I’ve been pulled over because I was black. I’ve been stopped in the street because I was black. I was followed in stores because I was black. I had to run away from groups of Confederate-wielding youth because I was black, not because I was an atheist. We have not addressed those issues within the larger context.

If you want me to meet you where you’re at, the first thing you have to do, not necessarily ideologically, but physically, is meet me where I’m at. You need, because of the issue of trust that just exists between these communities, plain black communities. Within those subsets, there are groups of atheists, humanists, et cetera.

First, you’ve got to break down that barrier, which in itself, is very difficult. You’ve got to show up on my other issues, what you would call “fringe issues” or what others have just called “identity politics”. Those “identity politics” allow me to vote, allow me to buy and purchase equally, allow me to scream and get heard when police are harassing me. That’s the first thing, is meet me where I’m at.

The second one is to realize that these what you call “fringe issues”, or what some call “fringe issues”, aren’t. They’re issues that define my humanity. I didn’t ask for them. I didn’t ask for them. I want them gone, as much as anyone else.

I often get into the discussion. “Why are we all so hung up on race? Race is a social construct.” Well, we live in a society. The beginning of the word “society” is S-O-C. It’s all a related social construct. It exists in society. We are social creatures. We are influenced by societal norms. You can’t say that you’re immune to them just because you’re an atheist.

Just like Christianity, there was magical thinking. In various religious thought and circles, there’s magical thinking. You can’t have the same magical thinking in the atheist community if you say that you are evidence-based. It’s incongruent. It doesn’t happen.

If you can look at me and say, “I understand that you have issues outside of Christianity, regardless of what the root cause is. If you take a big step back, yes, absolutely, in the beginning, when we take a look at how we even define what race is, you take a look at The Inquisition; how do we define bloodlines, and “the other”? Yes, it’s tied to race, but the racial construct is more tied to religion that most people will even acknowledge. Sure, I get that, totally.

But regardless of where it came from, where we are today being this is still my reality. Acknowledge the reality. You want to be an ally; you have to show up. Once you gain that trust, I’ll meet you where you want me to be.

2. Jacobsen: One thing pointed out to me. It was the notion, or the idea, or the reality of if in the African American or the black community in America, not religious, then not fully black, or African American. How does this play out in practical terms in the life of an African American male, or a black woman?

Jules: I can say that, for me, in my generation- I’m Generation X, if that means anything. Previous generations, it was infinitely more taboo to be non-religious. In fact, it was once you become a doubting Thomas, you become an Uncle Tom. That’s true.

We saw that in the ‘60s and ‘70s. You get a little bit of education from the white man. I’ll be blunt. You come back home and you’re doubting God. How dare you? It doesn’t matter who gave you the god. All those arguments just do not matter because the identity of being black, or African American, in the United States, is so tied to religion. It’s Moses. It’s Harriet Tubman. Her story is tied to lore, of course, or the meso-self of the Bible and the Christian Moses.

The fact that so much of the civil rights movement itself was enabled, to a certain extent, by black churches. Of course, you had really strong secular influences, as well, that just never got the attention as secular influences. It was “brethren so-and-so”, “pastor so-and-so”. We can’t ignore the truth that the church has played a galvanizing force in the African America community for so long. You just can’t undo that.

I think that was generational. “You say that you don’t believe. I say that you’re not black.” I think that’s changed. I think we’re changing. I think a lot of what we’re seeing, in the US anyway, is an artefact of the black civil rights movement, where we are beginning to see, even in the streets when there were significantly more protests, or significant more coverage regarding the protests.

I would talk to young organizers and they would tell me, “God hasn’t done anything for me. The church isn’t here. They’re not doing anything. Why would I believe in that?” So, there are challenges that we’re seeing with the younger generation, the Millennials and younger, that show a significant dip in religiosity in the African community. It’s significant. Even if it’s single-digit, 5%, 8%, 9%, that’s pretty significant given that when you take a look at their cohorts in different strata.

Whites, we’re seeing 70% religiosity, 30% “nones” or atheists, if you lump it all together. Even the Hispanic community was actually more or less secular than the white community. What we saw, at least if you use solid polls, is within the African American community, we saw about a 95% of the African American community identified as being heavily religious. That’s changed. It’s below 90%. I think it’s 80-something percent. That’s a big change. That’s a big shift.

The churches we still have, obviously, they’re strong church groups. That’s not going to go away but we’re not seeing the coherence to that identity as much. It is loosening. That, right there, has also, in the US, played a role in why we’ve seen it be so sticky. When you had your identity taken from you, stolen from you, and a new one given to you, or you created one and even the one that you created, you were told was ugly, and lazy, and dumb.

Again, many of those are Christian sentiments from the past and the South in the US that were just pushed onto the negro from about the 1600s all the way through to Jim Crow. It’s the reason why those stereotypes still exist, this identity that African Americans were able to cohere. Identity is complex. It just stuck. Yes, black is beautiful but black also includes this. Fortunately, we’re seeing that black identity is no longer monolithic. It’s wonderful.

3. Jacobsen: What would be the proportion of African Americans who identify, not simply as secular, but as an atheist, in America?

Jules: I think it’s still less than 1% It’s been a while since I looked up the numbers but it’s hovered around the 1% to 2%. It’s going to be low. It’s going to be low, but the ones that identify as “nones”, or say that– I think we’ve reached a tipping point in the US, as a whole, where secularism is just becoming significantly more wide-spread.

We are seeing the lashing out from the other side, especially the evangelical movement. They’re not happy about it. I don’t believe it’s in the death throes. I think we still have a few generations of them being there, but white evangelical children are not going to church anymore. They’re just not.

As that becomes more common, I think we’ll see more of that on the African American side. It’ll be slower but as those numbers really begin to dip, I think you’ll see more people identify as atheist. Even if they won’t call themselves atheist, they’ll know that they are. Just like me. I stayed in that bubble for years.

4. Jacobsen: Why is that trajectory slower for the black community compared to the white community in America?

Jules: I think one of them is the need for the church. The church has been there for childcare. It has been there for education. It’s been there as a safe haven. There’s a lot of reasons why the church exists in some communities, as well. Good and bad comes with the church.

The idea of community itself is necessary with the church. You have the moms. You have the grandmas, the aunts. “We’re going to see you in church, right? I’m taking her to church.” Continuously. It’s a conveyor belt system, to that extent. [Laughing]

Just wanting to continue to be part of that community. That community has, in numbers, been able to push the needle on civil rights movements where no other driving, massive force has. It is still going to be a little bit.

Jacobsen: I’m out of questions. I’m trying to think of another one.

Child: Dad.

Jacobsen: Is that your kid?

Jules: You heard that. Yes. She just ran in from one room to the other.

Jacobsen: Kids are almost like apparitions, sometimes. They just go in and out.

Jules: Yes.

5. Jacobsen: Aside from internal demographic, and inclusion, and dignity issues, and civility issues of the secular communities in North America, how can secular people, for want of better terminology, learn, potentially, some better social skills in communicating, in socializing, and in interacting with those who harbour more supernatural sentiments than them, in public, and in private? This has come up as an issue in some commentary.

Jules: I don’t know that there is a lot of work outside of the human dignity piece that is going to drive people together. One of the problems with not being able to bridge that first. If an outside group comes knocking on a black door, you wind up having the concerns about a white saviour. “Why are you here? Why are you trying to deconvert me? Why are you doing this?” Again, the trust issue is a significant issue. “Why are you trying to sell me this?”

Regardless of the fact that you were sold on the opposite message by the same person, or your core belief system. That’s really difficult. I think it still winds up being interfaith issues or interfaith initiatives. If you can find the white youth in the US, some of them- I know a lot of atheists have issues with churches and their acceptance of magical thinking, or just the acceptance of everyone, but those wind up being really fertile grounds for cross-cultural communication and “contamination”, in the best way.

I will drive down in some areas around here and I will see a huge “black lives matter” banner out front on the church. I already know that’s a UU church, right there, and they’re at least 70% white. I walk in there. Maybe it’s 90% white, but they’re taking the initiative to roll out the carpet and say, “Number one, I hear you. Number two, I acknowledge what’s going on. Three, if you want a place to be, here I am.” That’s something that UUs, Unitarian Universalists, have done well.

In fact, I guess it was in Ferguson, and during the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, after the Michael Brown murder, and then again in Baltimore, after the Freddie Gray murder. The people that are out there, if they were white, they usually were carrying a UU pin or UU banner. If you are able to get close to them and build enough bridges there, sometimes it comes.

I have got a very quick story. A few years ago, we did- it was The North Texas Food Bank. They had what was called a “full on faith” week, where they would invite all these churches to work at the food bank and package food and ship food, et cetera.

One of my colleagues, Dr. Zachary Moore, found out about it, and said, “Wait a minute. Why aren’t we doing this as well?” He reached out to them. They said, “You’re not really a church. You’re faithless. It’s like, “Yes, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t do exactly the same thing. It’s not that we aren’t without charity, without motivation. We’re humanist as well.”

The first event that we went to, I want to say there were maybe 30 people that showed up, which I thought was a great number. We were there and we were mixing it up with other- Christians. Maybe five people, one person, in particular, asked me, “What church are you with?” I explained the organization that I was with. I said “atheist” and “humanist”. She said, “I’m not familiar with that denomination.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing]

Jules: Right. Exactly. I enjoyed the internal giggles for about a good 15 minutes, maybe, but as we worked together, as we were bumping into each other and helping each other, at the end of that, we were, “Where do we learn more about you all?” They had questions. I was probably one of the only black atheists there. There were maybe one or two more.

Even the black church members were very generous and wanted to talk. Some of them kept in contact. One of them is no longer Christian. She was like, “I knew I had questions but I didn’t know who to ask.” That’s one person that was able to leave religion and say, “It’s not that I hate religion. It’s just I don’t need it for what I thought I needed it for.”

That’s a great example of bumping into people doing service, and just being out where people are and having an atheist spin, a human spin. You don’t necessarily need to be competition. You just need to show them that you’re there, and you’re there to help. Sometimes it just takes that much, or at least, that’s a good first step.

6. Jacobsen: I think that’s a perfect place to end on. Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Alix.

Jules: You’re very welcome. It was fun. [Laughing] I get to go back. It’s been a very long work day. I was like, “Wait. What’s going on?” [Laughing] This was good, thank you. I appreciate the conversation.

Jacobsen: It’s one drop at a time.

Jules: All right. Yes, absolutely.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Writer, Patheos Nonreligious.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 8). An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Alix Jules on American Secular Communities, Positive Work, Secularization of Communities, and Communication (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/jules-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,037

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Pascal Landa is the Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics). He discusses: early life, or his superhero origin story, some more.

Keywords: AAVIVRE, dying with dignity, early life, euthanasia, France, religion, right to die, Pascal Landa.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More: Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics) (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Pascal Landa: To backtrack a little bit. While I was the President of AAVIVRE, which I founded five years ago, I wrote two booklets. One is a new self-deliverance booklet in which I explain clearly, with all the precautions and so forth, about life being precious, that how, if one wants to end his life, he can do it easily, safely and with no investment. It is not difficult to do that.

I detail what we call “the plastic bag method” originally promoted by Dereck Humphry. It is the method where you inhale your own carbon dioxide which puts you into a deep coma and in a matter of generally less than an hour, kills you. The advantage of that is that everybody can get a plastic bag. Everybody can get a scarf to put it around your neck for comfort and scotch tape to make sure it is held in place. Everybody can take sleeping pills, which you do beforehand so that you are sure to sleep throughout the process.

The nice thing about it is when you take the bag off the person’s head, he looks like he is just gone to sleep and had an easy death. What is most important about that method is that most people are horrified about it, and that is essential because of those people who are horrified are clearly not people who are in a phase of their life where they are facing the fact that their life needs to end.

If you are facing, either through pain, or loss of consciousness, or knowing that you are going to be completely debilitated, you are no longer worried about the plastic bag. You are worried about being sure to end your life. I only sell the book to people who are members of an association affiliated to the World Federation of Right to Die with Dignity and any profit is used to finance the movement.

I have observed that experience myself many times while accompanying people. Frankly, the fear that you have of not being able to breathe is not right at all. You breathe easily. You are breathing your own carbon dioxide, but you are breathing and there is NO suffocation. You go progressively. First, you go into sleep because you have taken the right number of pills to go long-term into deep sleep. Then your breath becomes shorter and shorter until you are into a deep coma and you die.

That is good for people who can still manipulate things enough to be able to do that process, but it is not good for those people who are paraplegics, who are unable to physically handle their own lives. Therefore, the law is still needed for those who want or need to be assisted. In the last 35 years, I have spent probably 25 years saying we need a law called “the right to die with dignity law”.

Finally today, I have become aware that we were going the wrong path for legislation. We were going the wrong path because the opponents to our movement oppose us on two principles. The first principle is that a society of persons is a contract between people who live together. One of the foundation stones of that contract is, “Thou shalt not kill.” If we want a law that says we can kill, we are obviously stepping into the mouth of the wolf who is then able to say, “This is not the right way to go.”

However, there is a good way to go. The good way to go, as far as I am concerned, and particularly in Southern European mentalities, which are emotional rather than rational. Latins are a different type of society than the puritan, rather logical and strict mechanical societies that we know in America, in Australia, in England. In France and in Italy and in Spain, the mentality is such that- and it is not just playing on words. It reveals the real basic issues that rule those societies.

The right path is to write a law for the irreversible medical acts. Know that in France, one specialist out of two every year, gets attacked in court. One generalist out of ten, every year, gets attacked in court. All of that is because the powers of the medical profession have been trying to sell us the idea that medicine is a science, which it is not.

Medicine is not a science by the simple fact that drugs that operate on you and drugs that operate on me are going to act differently. We are, each of us, individuals. We are, each of us, different. So the act of medical caring is not just a mechanical process of distributing drugs or operating. It is primarily a human adaptation and accompaniment process. We know that psychology also plays a large part of human well-being or not well-being. Thus medicine is an art.

If we understand that medicine is an art, then we cannot guarantee the results. If we cannot guarantee the results, then we need to have a process when we do a medically irreversible act. A codified process for the amputation of an arm, a leg, the extraction of part of a liver, the extraction of whatever it is, the replacement of a heart ….something that irremediably changes a person’s life.

Several things qualify an “irreversible medical act”. One is that the person is going to change his life fundamentally, for the rest of his life. We need social accompaniment, but a doctor is not a social worker. We need a social accompaniment of that process. We need to guarantee that a diagnostic of the doctor is a good diagnostic. That means that we need to have a second opinion that confirms the first opinion. “This is what is going on and this is what the problem is.”

The third thing is we need to be able to offer, as a professional medical practitioner, a large set of solutions. One is to do nothing. The other is to amputate. The third is to try to treat with drugs but with the risk of having gangrene and dying. Et cetera.

One of the options that doctors often must face is there is that there are no treatment issues to your problem. I am thinking of sicknesses such as those in which you die of suffocation because your lungs cannot do it anymore, which are terrible deaths, or those in which you cannot control the pain anymore because drugs do not work. Despite all the false data and the statements of lobby paid researchers, we know that about 5% – 6% of painful situations cannot be dealt with at end of life. In those situations, one of the options must be assisted medical dying.

Who are we to say when is the right time to say, ‘Deciding to die is the right option?” I am sure you would not want me to tell you when it is the right option for you. I can tell you that I do not want you to tell me what the right option for me. In fact, I want to protect you so that you can also decide that until every single cell in your body is dead, you are alive, and you want medical treatment. That is fine for you. But it is not fine for me.

Me I want the law to state that in a medical process of the irreversible act, that if a certain protocol is followed that guarantees all of the protection of the individual, then we should be in a situation where I can ask for medically assisted dying, and you, the doctor, can give me that prescription or do the actual injection if I choose it. That must be one of the options for care at end of life.

This is what happens in Switzerland. When you go to Switzerland, you provide a medical record that shows that you are in a terminally ill situation of one way or another. It doesn’t have to be terminally ill in the next six months. It just must be terminally ill. But remember, life is a terminal illness. We are all going to die. If we are in a situation where that is the case, and if the patient is not mentally disturbed, and is capable of making concious decisions, then he can choose to have a doctor prescribe a death giving cocktail, but only the patient can “open the valve” or drink the substance. It does not work for those who cannot even move a finger.

I am thinking of, for example, the young man who says, “She has left me. Life is no longer worth living because my sweetheart has left me,” or vice versa. Those kinds of situations are psychological situations where the person has not the required perspective to decide to die. We need, as a responsible society, to be able to determine those cases. Yet we must also be able to say, “You have the right to decide what is a life worth living and what is a life not worth living.” Only a well-codified process can allow this.

You should be able to die with your friends around you. I know a lot of people who like to play cheerful, joyful music. I have friends who said to me, “Pascal, I want you to drink champagne on the day of my death because it is the end of my life and I think everybody should celebrate the fact that I have had a good life.”

To make a long story short, I think that is one of the rights that we will have to recognize, and it is being recognized by more and more people. Unhappily, there’s a lot of issues with the way it is being recognized. For example, in America, they want you to sign off a list of situations in which you say you want to die. That is stupid. The one thing we know is that we do not know when or in what context with what situation we are going to die.

In the French law today, we have been able to get the right for terminal sedation under specific circumstances, and more importantly, the right for a person to say that he is not willing to accept certain types of medical treatment. That includes force-feeding and all treatments that do not pertain to his total recovery. But you can never anticipate, so anticipated directives, as we call them, are just a philosophical statement to guide the persons around you as to how you would like to end your life.

The real key is having somebody who is your person of confidence, a person with whom you have talked and who is going to be a valid person to talk with for the medical profession because the medical profession facing somebody dying has got a huge problem. The huge problem is that he can act like a professional, but he is being asked to make decisions as if he was the person. These are two different roles that require a dialogue and cannot be assumed by a single person.

What he needs is he needs a person to talk to. Often, the patient is no longer able to communicate correctly. What he needs is for the patient to have named somebody who is a person of confidence, who has his full confidence, and who is able to adjust the patient’s will to the real situation.

The real situation could be a car accident and to find yourself in a coma. Do we decide, because you marked on the questionnaire, “I do not want artificial respiration”, that we should decide to let you die? Even though if we give you artificial respiration for three weeks or even two weeks, you’ll be able to recuperate fully and then he’ll be able to live? NO!

We need to have somebody who is fully conscious, fully aware of the person’s wishes and desires, of course, and who can speak for the person. That seems to me more important than anticipated directives.

We must avoid, also, the bad path that codifies what the medical professional one has to do the multiple response questionnaire. Do you want us to do this? Do you want us to do that? Do you want us to do this?” That is ludicrous because the situation is in constant evolution. Those questionnaires only pertain to things that are black and white, but life is not black and white. Life is always specific to the individual, specific to the case at a moment in time.

Exchange and participation are essential. We know, for example, that a person going to see a doctor, when the doctor talks with him and has an exchange, he has 30% more chance of recovery than a person who doesn’t talk to his doctor because medical care is a mutual trust space between a practitioner who knows medical practices and a patient who knows himself. We also know that it reduces costs by 30%, as well, which is an impressive amount.

Last, of all, I think one of the important things we need to keep in mind is that end of life today represents somewhere between 60% and 80% of all medical expenses during your whole lifetime. That means that the end of life is big business for some people. We cannot let financial big business interests be above concerns for that a person that is supplicating that he wants to end his life because he has had enough, enough of suffering, enough of mental torture, enough of seeing those around him suffer, et cetera.

As a responsible society, we also must remember that a person who is in a situation of sickness or end of life, has tremendous pressures from external sources, the wife that tells the doctor, “I want you to keep him alive by all means because as long as he is alive, I am getting my pension. The day he dies, I get nil.” Or the kids who say, “Speed him up. I want to get that inheritance. I can use the money dads got better than he does. Look at what condition he is in.” I just gave examples, but there are millions of motivations.

As a responsible society, we must have a law that saves the individual from torture by the medical industry. End of life people today are test grounds for lots of medications. That is not acceptable unless the person says it is okay but often, they never ask the person or omit this experimental aspect for a proposed treatment.

Today in France, 30,000 people die because doctors, mostly by compassion, help them die. Even that is not acceptable because, first of all for 1% or 2%, we question the fact that is the right decision, but more important, is that they never asked the opinion of the person concerned, and there is no reason we should allow this, it’s like playing “god”. When you do not have the agreement or request of the person, it is called murder. If you ask the person and the person wants it, it is called assisted dying and compassion. Two different concepts.

The other reason is that as a society, we cannot let the medical profession be attacked permanently because people think that medicine is a science and not an art. If we develop a the protocol that protects the medical profession, we’ll find more and more medical professionals having human compassion, human interest in their patients, and doing their job which is helping us to live as well as we can, as long as we can, and in a state that is compatible with an individual’s will to live.

I think I have covered the three basic subjects. My own personal life is not interesting in all this except to say that perhaps I started this movement when I was 30, replacing my father as president of the association in France, and that I have done a successful IT career as an international director of IT while continuously being an active member of the right to die with dignity movement in France and internationally.

That shows that I am not interested in glamour. I just want that law, some day or another, to be enacted. I wrote a book on how to write your personal directives and how to designate the person of confidence so that people can read that book and know how to do that because it seems to be a difficult thing for people to do. It is a book written in French and if you turn the book around, it is in English because I am both a French and English speaker.

I think I have covered the law in France today. In 2005, the law allowed recognition for anticipated directives and the fact that a person you choose “personne de confiance” (person you trust) could be more important than the family as advice for the medical profession.

In 2016, it reinforced the law and said, “Directives are now an obligation for the medical profession and the person of trust is still an advisory, but a much more an important advisory than it ever was stated before.” Otherwise, the law used to say, “We cannot kill people. We can just put them in terminal sedation.” The 2016 law said, “Terminal sedation, the doctor does not have to wake up the patient regularly to check that he is not killing him.”

But terminal sedation today, as practiced in France, can take one day to one month, depending on the state of health of the individual. We think that is totally unacceptable. It is unacceptable for the individual because we cannot say that he is not suffering. It is unacceptable for the family and those around them because we know that they are suffering. We can see it clearly.

There’s still a long way to go but I think this road must pass through a protocol for irreversible medical acts and not a law for directing doctors on how we can kill people when they choose it. That will neither be accepted by the doctors, nor by the religious people, nor by the basic community, even though 90% of the French citizens all say, since about 30 years now, that they want legislation for the right to die with dignity.

Dying is not an easy thing. I am in the middle of writing a book on how you live the best way the last part of your life. Living at the end of your life is a tremendous adventure. At the end of your life, one of the things that happen, whether we like it or not, is you can no longer lie to yourself.

All our lives, we can lie to ourselves, and say, “Life, it is going to continue. I am not going to die,” or any other lies that we do for ourselves, but the one thing that you can no longer do when you are nearing death is you can no longer lie to yourself. That is a period when you can do a lot of progress in your own mentality and on your own awareness of life.

It is too bad you do not do it beforehand. So many people would rather act like the ostrich and keep their heads in the sand until the moment arrives. That is not acceptable, for me. If somebody else wants to live that way, I have no objections. A corner stone of the right to die movement is: We are not asking that others live the way we want to, we are just asking that we be able to live the way we want.

We defend also the person that wants to live until the last second of the last cell that survives in his body. One of the things that I wanted to do at one point was to attacked the state because in today’s life, today’s scientific community knowledge about organisms and their way of living, we are able to grow meat, we are able to grow skin, we are able to grow organs, we are able to create stem cells out of any other cell in the body. We can now, very recently, replace parts of the DNA. In fact, we could say that we shouldn’t ever let anybody die. We could keep a body alive forever. Is living being just a body and the cells that function? We do not think so.

An important issue that is being raised today by the right to die with dignity movement is what is the real meaning of life? Is the real meaning of life having cells that are alive or is the real meaning of life that of being conscious, being able to love, being able to have emotions? Those are the real questions that we must deal with as a society.

Do you have any other questions?

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics).

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-one; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 8). An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

 

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