The term Socialist was once downright insulting. Socialism is now not only widely accepted — but embraced, especially by Gen Z. This epidemic is the road to Communism. How did we get here? What is the antidote? @JesseKellyDC has the answers.
Christopher Hope, Charles Hymas 9 hrs ago 9 – 11 minutes
Animals with a backbone will have a legal right to feel happiness and suffering in a Government drive to raise welfare standards in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech.
An Animal Sentience Bill will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and can experience joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
“Sentience” will apply to “vertebrate animals – anything with a spinal cord”, Environment secretary George Eustice told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview below.
An existing committee of experts and civil servants in Defra will be tasked with ensuring Government’s policies take into account animal sentience.
Ministers were criticised in 2018 when the duty was not carried across into UK law from the European Union after Brexit.
The Government wants to make the UK a world leader in animal welfare and laws that protect animals form the centrepiece of this week’s Queen’s Speech.
As well as an Animal Sentience Bill, an Animals Abroad Bill will ban the import of trophies from animal hunting. A third measure – a Kept Animals Bill – will stop live animal exports and ban families from keeping primates as pets.
The Government will also publish an animal welfare strategy which will raise the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all domestic cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
Animal welfare is not at odds with caring about our rural communities
The Conservative government has certainly come a long way since the party first won power in 2010 on a pledge to offer a free vote on legalising fox hunting, writes Christopher Hope.
This week’s Queen’s Speech will see the Tory government publish draft laws that enshrine in law the right of animals to feel pain, as well as bans on live animal exports, importing hunting trophies and keeping primates as pets.
A separate animal welfare strategy document will set the direction of travel, raising the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
It is some journey from “hoodie hugging” when David Cameron was leader in the 2000s to “bunny hugging” under Boris Johnson in the 2020s. And it has been witnessed at first hand by George Eustice, a party press officer in the 2000s and now the Environment secretary.
He says: “I don’t really see that there’s an inconsistency between caring about animal welfare, wanting to promote that and believing in rural communities, and the values of the countryside.
“I grew up on a family farm from a sixth generation farming family. I’m somebody who really understands the social capital that exists in our farming communities and rural communities.
“And by having higher standards of animal welfare, there’s nothing at all that is at odds with caring also about rural communities in the countryside.”
For Mr Eustice, who grew up on his family farm with Guinea pigs, rabbits and a rescued Border Collie called Mono, the difference between then and now is that Boris Johnson wants to prioritise animal welfare.
“There were always other priorities. Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister, probably ever, to mention animal welfare on the steps of Downing Street. We’ve now got an occupant in Number 10 who really just wants to get some of these things done.”
Critics claim that Mr Johnson’s love for animals comes from his fiancee Carrie Symonds, a passionate environmentalist. Mr Eustice says he has not talked to Miss Symonds “directly” about the new animal welfare laws.
He says: “She [Miss Symonds] has long held views on this so there’s no doubt about that – she’s campaigned on animal welfare issues.
“And it’s not as though she’s unique and alone in this. She is a Conservative she’s passionate about animal welfare, as am I, as is the Prime Minister.”
The most eye-catching of this week’s slew of animal welfare laws is an Animal Sentience Bill which will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
Mr Eustice says: “It would not make fishing illegal – people needn’t worry about that. It is much more than when we design policies, we have to have regard for animal sentience.”
Mr Eustice admits some of the measures – such as the ban on bringing back hunting trophies to the UK and possible restrictions on fur imports – will not affect large numbers.
The ban on keeping primates as pets, for example, is mainly targeted at the small number of people who have marmosets in homes (numbers grew after the Labour government removed restrictions in 2008 on the grounds that they are not dangerous).
But it is all about “sending a signal”. He says: “It sends an important signal around the world and this is something that we want to try and stop.” Many of these changes – such the ban on live animal exports – are made possible by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“As a self governing country you gain some agility and also the self confidence to make these judgments for yourself.
“And it does show that outside the EU, we can address areas of policy that some might consider, small niche areas of policy, but where you can make laws better or stronger.
Mr Eustice admits that tackling the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic is the Government’s number one priority.
But he says: “That doesn’t mean you have to stop work on every other front. How you treat animals, and the legislation you have to govern that, is a mark of a civilised society, and we should be constantly looking to improve and refine our legislation in this area.”
It has been a busy week for Mr Eustice who last week had to defuse the row between French fishermen and Jersey’s government over access to their waters which led to the Navy sending in gunboats to ensure no one came to any harm.
Mr Eustice is unrepentant.
“It was an entirely legitimate response to a situation that you couldn’t have predicted what might have come, and it’s better always to have your assets on standby ready to react should they be needed.”
And he is scathing of “disproportionate” threats to cut off Jersey’s power not least because France “would have to intervene in a commercial arrangement between EDF and Jersey”.
He blames the French government for not telling its fishermen that they had to agree to new licensing agreements based on their historic catches with Jersey’s government.
“It appears that some of the French industry hadn’t quite appreciated what the European Commission had agreed in the Trade and Cooperation agreement,” he says.
Jersey has now given the French fishermen until July 1 to ensure their paperwork is in order. Mr Eustice does not rule out sending in the Navy again.
He says: “If the intelligence model – and an algorithm they follow – suggested that there was illegal fishing activity in Jersey waters, then some of those assets would be redeployed into that area to address that.”
Mr Eustice is optimistic about the future of the Union – despite concern about buoyancy of support for the SNP – pointing out that “within Defra, we work very constructively with Scottish Government and with Welsh Government.
His hope is that over time, as Brexit beds in, the calls from independence parties in the devolved administrations will die away.
“They will accrue powers in everything from agriculture and environment to animal welfare policy powers that they never had before the devolved administrations will now again.
“What will happen is over time once the tensions over Brexit heal …, things will bed down the devolved administrations, all of them will realise that they can do things that they could never do as an EU member and the attraction of rejoining the EU will fade.”
He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. pic.twitter.com/1x4VOMsLGR
An immense body of empirical evidence has supported the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and disease. But perhaps more importantly, recent developments in evolutionary and developmental biology, genetics, gene regulation, gene expression, and gene networks gained in large part as a result of the Human Genome Project, in addition to advances in understanding complex systems, have significantly increased our understanding of why animals have no predictive value for human response to drugs or the pathophysiology of human diseases.
Applying Complexity Theory and the Theory of Evolution to the problem of using one evolved, complex adaptive system (CAS) as a model in order to predict responses of a second, has resulted in what Dr. Ray Greek has called Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT)1: While trans-species extrapolation is possible when perturbations concern lower levels of organization or when studying morphology and function on the gross level, one evolved, complex system will not be of predictive value for another when the perturbation affects higher levels of organization.
TSMT allows scientists to place the empirical evidence regarding the failure of animal models in context. TSMT is a theory (although not universally accepted at present). In order to understand theory in science, note the following statements from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.
In detective novels, a “theory” is little more than an educated guess, often based on a few circumstantial facts. In science, the word “theory” means much more. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.
The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.
Many scientific theories are so well-established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence. However, like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously.
One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed. For example, the theory of gravitation predicted the behavior of objects on the moon and other planets long before the activities of spacecraft and astronauts confirmed them. The evolutionary biologists who discovered Tiktaalik predicted that they would find fossils intermediate between fish and limbed terrestrial animals in sediments that were about 375 million years old. Their discovery confirmed the prediction made on the basis of evolutionary theory. In turn, confirmation of a prediction increases confidence in that theory.
In science, a “fact” typically refers to an observation, measurement, or other form of evidence that can be expected to occur the same way under similar circumstances. However, scientists also use the term “fact” to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions.
TSMT is supported by vast amounts of empirical evidence, is consistent with science outside of the specific areas of biology it addresses, and both explains current scientific facts as well as predicting the answers to future questions.
Why is TSMT important?
When AFMA was formed in 1999, the case against the predictive value of animal models for human drug and disease response was of the empirical or clinical variety. A wide variety of clinical studies and case reports had shown that, when compared with how drugs ultimately affected humans or how diseases affected humans, animal models had reacted the same way a small percentage of the time. That meant that animal models had failed to meet the scientific standard for burden of proof in terms of offering predictive value.
From the perspective of the physician practicing medicine in the real world, this evidence would be sufficient to abandon the use of animal models in hopes of learning about drug and disease response in humans. For the clinician engaged in the world of cancer patients and auto accident victims, human response is the final arbitrator of truth—not what happens to animals in a laboratory. So when physicians observe a drug kill or maim even a small number of patients, that is enough proof for them to stop administering that drug, regardless of how much the drug was studied in the laboratory and what was learned from those studies. They don’t need to know—and are not necessarily even interested in—the pharmacology of the drug in eight different animal species.
Far from the often messy and chaotic world of clinical medicine, some medical researchers believe, and have stated, that the laboratory (meaning the laboratory where animals are used) is the “true sanctuary” of medicine, as opposed to the clinic or hospital where clinical research is performed. Indeed, clinical medicine is fraught with variables that cannot be controlled, thus leaving any clinical study or observation open to criticism and second-guessing. In this respect, the animal-based researchers are correct in their assertion that laboratory-based research is much more controlled and thus, from their perspective, better than clinical medicine. But patients suffer from disease in the real world, not the artificial world of the laboratory, and hence must be studied in the real world. This is not intended to undermine the importance of in vitro or in silico research, provided such research is human-based. But the final arbiter of truth is how patients respond, not what happens in an animal or other non-human system.
Accordingly, empirical evidence in the form of clinical observations, controlled studies, and case reports refuted the claims for predictive value by the animal model community. But the animal model community, as well as some that do not rely on animals, demanded more before abandoning animal models. Such people believe that what one aims for in science is an overarching theory that can predict outcomes without having to perform experiments every time a question is raised. Therefore, they asserted that the empirical evidence previously put forth had not been scientific enough, for it has failed in their view to adequately answer the “big” question: why do animal models fail?
The reason animals sometimes—but more often do not—react as humans is being illuminated by our knowledge concerning genes, gene regulation, gene expression, and gene networks. This knowledge has come in large part from the results of the Human Genome Project and other similar genome projects. In addition to advances in genomics, application of Complexity Theory to biomedical research has informed scientists on the subject of animal models. This combination of scientific advances allows us to formulate an overarching theory to explain what we have observed empirically for decades. In short, all animals are examples of robust, complex systems (on many levels) and hence demonstrate emergence, are modular, are dependent upon initial conditions, and are nonlinear, in addition to exhibiting other relevant properties. This means that a perturbation to complex system S1 that led to effect A will not necessarily lead to effect A in complex system S2, regardless of how similar the two complex systems are currently or were at one time.
Living complex systems manifest different responses to the same perturbation due to:
1. differences with respect to genes present; 2. differences with respect to mutations in the same gene (where one species has an ortholog of a gene found in another); 3. differences with respect to proteins and protein activity; 4. differences with respect to gene regulation; 5. differences in gene expression; 6. differences in protein-protein interactions; 7. differences in genetic networks; 8. differences with respect to organismal organizations (humans and rats may be intact systems, but may be differently intact); 9. differences in environmental exposures; and, 10. differences with respect to evolutionary histories.
These are some of the important reasons why even two nearly identical living complex systems (e.g., a chimpanzee and a human, or even monozygotic twins) may respond differently to drugs and experience different diseases, and hence why one evolved complex system/species cannot reliably predict responses for a different evolved complex system/species. Current biomedical research is studying disease and drug response at the level where the differences between complex systems (be they two different species or two different humans) are critical, hence using animals (e.g., vertebrates) as predictive or causal analogical models (CAMs) for human diseases and drug testing is a scientifically invalid paradigm. Because we have scientific theories, we don’t have to evaluate examples covered in the theory on a case-by-case basis, we just apply the theory. Theories and laws in science prohibit certain hypotheses. For example, the Germ Theory of Disease prohibited, and indeed replaced miasma—the notion that rotting organic matter caused disease. The Germ Theory does not prohibit other causes of disease, such as cancer, vascular abnormalities, and endocrine disorders, but it does mandate the clinician consider bacteria and viruses instead of rotting matter for certain clinical presentations. Likewise, Atomic Theory prohibits an infinite division of matter into smaller and smaller units, and the Theory of Relativity prohibits faster than light velocities. Suggesting that animal models must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis is like asking that each flora or fauna that fills an ecological niche be evaluated for achieving its position through an act of special creation or evolution. There is no logical reason to assume the trait in question was not the result of a special creation. But in light of theory—the Theory of Evolution—and empirical evidence, there is no reason to seriously consider such a hypothesis. Despite the development of an all-encompassing theory as to why animals offer very low predictive value, there remains—much to the detriment of human health and medical progress—extraordinary resistance to abandoning the use of animals as predictive models (see Why All the Opposition to AFMA?). The goal of AFMA, therefore, is to educate the scientific community, as well as society in general, about the urgent need to move away from the ineffective animal model and to move toward research methods that truly reflect the enormous strides science has made in knowledge of living systems.
Public lands that were formerly protected inside Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah are under threat from energy extraction, archeological theft, off-road vehicle abuse, and other impacts. These treasured places need to be protected once again. Please ask President Biden to act quickly to reinstate the boundaries of these two cherished places.
President Joseph ‘Joe’ R. Biden
Dear President Biden, Personalize your message Thank you for reaffirming our nation’s commitment to conserving our national treasures and monuments. Your executive order on January 20, 2021 directing a review of the boundaries and conditions for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was a much-needed call to reconsider the proclamations of President Trump in December 2017 that dismantled these two fragile landscapes. Please work with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to move quickly to issue proclamations under the Antiquities Act that reinstate the prior Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante boundaries. Time is of the essence, as sites sacred to the Bears Ears Tribes, which were protected in 2016, are once again potential targets for looters and even grave robbers. The United States made a promise to the Bears Ears Tribes to protect this place when the monument was designated in 2016. We must keep that promise. Former monument lands face other threats, too, including oil and gas development, uranium mining, and inappropriate off-road motorized travel. Public lands previously protected inside the boundary of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are similarly at risk. Energy extraction, increased livestock grazing, fossil collection, and off-road vehicle travel all threaten the incredible beauty and biodiversity of public lands, which had been protected inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante boundary for more than 20 years. Proclamations restoring the boundaries of these two monuments would promote other important parts of your agenda. Re-establishing the earlier boundaries will protect more than two million acres of public land, significantly advancing your goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by 2030. Boundary restoration will also boost efforts to address the climate crisis by ensuring that fossil fuels are kept in the ground inside the monuments. The case for restoring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante is clear. Please act quickly to protect these important places. Thank you.
WildEarth Guardians protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.
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North Pacific loggerhead turtles’ years-long oceanic journeys remain poorly understood. Using data from satellite tracking and other techniques, scientists reveal a unique phenomenon that may explain the endangered migrants’ pathway.
“Not all those who wander are lost … ” — J.R.R. Tolkien
Known as “the lost years,” it is a little-understood journey that unfolds over thousands of miles and as much as two decades or more. Now, a Stanford-led study illuminates secrets of the North Pacific loggerhead turtles’ epic migration between their birthplace on the beaches of Japan and reemergence years later in foraging grounds off the coast of Baja California. The study, published April 8 in Frontiers in Marine Science, provides evidence for intermittent passages of warm water that allow sea turtles to cross otherwise inhospitably cold ocean barriers. The findings could help inform the design of conservation measures to protect sea turtles and other migratory sea creatures amid climatic changes that are altering their movements.
“For decades, our ability to connect the migratory dots for this endangered species has remained elusive,” said study lead author Dana Briscoe, who was a research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment during the research and now works at the Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent marine science organization. “This work builds on the backbone of exceptional research about these ‘lost years,’ and for the first time ever we are excited to provide evidence of a ‘thermal corridor’ to explain a longstanding mystery of one of the ocean’s greatest migrants.”
Satellite tracks of 231 juvenile North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles (light gray), including six (various colors) that migrated to the coastal waters of Baja, California. Credit: Dana Briscoe, et al. / Frontiers in Marine Science
Wildlife seekers thrill to the sight of sea turtles, but ship traffic, fishing nets, and other perils have been less kind. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists six of the seven sea turtle species as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable.
Despite scientific advancements in core habitat use, we still know precious little about the movement of turtles and other long-lived sea creatures between disparate locations. This knowledge gap makes it impossible to effectively assess and protect these species.
The researchers wanted to know how and why some loggerheads travel to the western coastline of North America while others remain in the central Pacific Ocean. How is it that some sea turtles – creatures highly sensitive to temperature – can cross a frigid zone called the Eastern Pacific Barrier between the two ocean regions that normally stops most creatures in their tracks?
To unlock that mystery, the researchers created the largest dataset on satellite-tagged loggerhead sea turtles ever compiled, employed sophisticated remote sensing oceanographic techniques and collected one of the first detailed records of sea turtle aging and stable isotope testing – a bone analysis that can be used to provide information about an animal’s life. The work relied upon decades of research by the international team of scientists.
Loggerhead sea turtle swimming. Credit: Ralph Pace
They started by looking at a 15-year study tracking the movements of more than 200 turtles tagged with satellite tracking devices. Six of the turtles caught the researchers’ attention because – unlike their peers – they made distinct movements toward the North American coast. Adding to the intrigue, the “sentinels,” as the researchers called them, made their journey during the early spring months. A look at remotely sensed ocean conditions for the time period showed that the farthest-roaming of the sentinels swam through water significantly warmer than their peers had confronted on their travels.
A bigger picture analysis involved identifying the years loggerheads arrived in Baja California by measuring stable isotope “fingerprints” in the bones of sea turtles stranded on beaches there. Because like us, turtles are what they eat, these stable isotope signatures can reveal when the turtles transitioned from the open sea to the coast. The analysis showed significantly greater annual numbers of eastward-bound sea turtles during warm ocean conditions.
The likely cause, according to the researchers: the development of a “thermal corridor” from unusually warm sea surface temperatures due to El Niño and other intermittent warming conditions that allowed the turtles to cross the Eastern Pacific Barrier to coastal foraging grounds.
The corridor was present during the late spring and summer, and was also preceded by early warming of temperatures in the months before it opened. Such anomalous conditions, especially if sustained for several months, may provide key environmental cues to sea turtles and other animals concentrated in the eastern edge of the central Pacific that the thermal corridor is opening. Studies combining data from loggerhead aerial surveys, at-sea-sightings, stranding records and tissue samples supported the hypothesis.
A dangerous trend
The phenomenon may be part of a trend. As the planet undergoes unprecedented climate changes, locations once considered impassable obstacles to species movements, like the Eastern Pacific Barrier, are being redefined. This, in turn, is shifting the distributions and migratory pathways of creatures ranging from sea birds to white sharks and presenting new conservation challenges.
For the North Pacific loggerhead, the trend could mean higher exposure to bycatch – unintentional fisheries harvest – off the Baja California coast and other potentially important North American foraging grounds, including the Southern California Bight. The study provides important insights, such as an understanding of how animal movements relate to climate variation, that could help predict when sea turtles and other protected species could be vulnerable to such threats.
The researchers caution that their multi-year dataset represents only a snapshot of an important developmental period for sea turtles. The small number of turtles that moved into the eastern North Pacific limits the ability to fully test the study’s hypothesis under varying conditions. To do that, the researchers call for more satellite tagging and stable isotope studies of turtle bones in this region.
“Understanding how and why species like the North Pacific loggerhead move among habitats is crucial to helping them navigate threats,” said study senior author Larry Crowder, the Edward Ricketts Provostial Professor at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. “Emerging technologies and analyses can help illuminate these journeys.”
Reference: “Dynamic Thermal Corridor May Connect Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles Across the Pacific Ocean” by Dana K. Briscoe, Calandra N. Turner Tomaszewicz, Jeffrey A. Seminoff, Denise M. Parker, George H. Balazs, Jeffrey J. Polovina, Masanori Kurita, Hitoshi Okamoto, Tomomi Saito, Marc R. Rice and Larry B. Crowder, 8 April 2021, Frontiers in Marine Science. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.630590
Crowder is also a professor of biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Co-authors of the study include Calandra Turner Tomaszewicz and Jeffrey A. Seminoff of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service; Denise Parker and George Balazs of Golden Honu Services of Oceania; Jeffrey Polovina of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; Masanori Kurita and Hitoshi Okamoto of the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium (Japan); Tomomi Saito of Kōchi University (Japan); and Marc Rice of Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy.
Funding for this study provided by the Crowder Lab at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford’s Department of Biology and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard