Learning through Examples: Inductive Learning

Book with chalkboard and lightbulb with brain drawn on it

Imagine that you are a first-year student in a biology course. The goal of today’s class is to describe the topic of biology: What is life? There are two paths to reaching that goal.

Traditional path (from general principle to specific examples)

One path—the direct route—is to review the list of characteristics that experts agree living things share. As a learner, you might listen to a lecture, watch a video, or read a textbook presenting this information. You will discover, among other things, that all living things metabolize energy from their environment to sustain their own activities. The information might also include illustrative examples. You might learn that humans are living, as exemplified by the fact that they eat food to extract energy that they convert into motion, heat, and chemical processes. Following this sequence—presenting the concept and then reviewing examples—you should meet the objective of describing “What is life?”

Alternative path (from specific examples to general principle)

Now imagine a different learning journey. When you arrive to class, the instructor doesn’t tell you what experts know. Rather, you start with examples. You are placed in a group and are given a list of five organisms: a donkey, a moss, an E. coli bacterium, an alga, and a cactus. You are told that these things are alive. You are also provided a list of three things and are told that they are not alive: fire, wind, and a rock. Your task is to compare and contrast the items in each list and infer the characteristics that are common and unique to all of the living things.

Your group makes hypotheses. What about the ability to extract elements from the environment to grow and make more of themselves? You test them out with the evidence available. Yes, all living things do that, but disturbingly, fire uses oxygen to grow. You explore ways in which fire’s use of oxygen to grow is different from a cactus using oxygen to do the same thing. Rich discussions arise about the meaning of “metabolism.”

Once your team comes to a consensus about what constitutes living and non-living things, you share it with the class. You discover that other teams worked from a different set of examples and came to slightly different conclusions. The class tests each team’s hypotheses with the larger set of examples. As a class, you decide that “metabolism” is necessary, but not sufficient to classify something as “alive.” Other characteristics must be present. And you work to answer the question: What is life?

Inductive learning

This second path, which starts from examples and asks learners to infer general principles, is called inductive learning (or sometimes, analogical learning, learning through comparison, or learning through examples). Research suggests that it is a more robust way to learn. The understanding that arises from this approach is richer and deeper. The concepts are retained longer, and it seems to help learners with transferability—that pesky challenge of education where most learners have difficulty applying a concept to a new context, setting, or example from the context in which they originally learned it. In my own experience, using the example described above to explore “What is life?” I found that the approach elicits curiosity, triggers questions, and leads to a more nuanced understanding of the concept. I also observed that the struggle to understand, and the fact that learners come up with the concepts de novo on their own, leads to confidence in their ability to think.

Much of formal education is deductive—we tell learners about concepts, rather than training them to make observations and use their thinking to generalize and make abstractions. That’s a missed opportunity to invest in their abilities to learn by themselves.

How to use inductive learning

How does one structure a lesson to utilize inductive learning? Research informs us that there are a few key ingredients necessary.

  1. Examples

The first ingredient is a series of carefully selected examples that fall within one category. At a minimum, there should be two examples. There shouldn’t be too many that it becomes cognitively taxing for the learner to keep them in mind as they compare them, but there should be fodder for analysis. For example, in a journalism course, the instructor might present learners with five ledes (introductory paragraphs) from published articles and ask them to extract elements which seem to be common across all ledes. Or, the instructor may ask learners to bring exemplars of articles that they find have a particularly effective lede. Then, in groups, learners compare and dissect their pooled examples, looking for commonalities, and in the process articulate the components that appear to be important for an effective lede.

2. Examples that are dissimilar in context

There is evidence that when the examples used in the comparison are complex—for example, case studies—then the selected examples should not have too many superficially similar features that learners mistakenly conclude they are important to the similarities. For example, if medical students review two patient records of plumbers that developed measles, they may incorrectly infer that there is a relationship between being a plumber and developing measles. Rather, it is better to find cases that are contextually different so that the learner can identify and focus on those aspects of the case that are important to understanding the concept.

3. Contrasting examples

Studies have shown that learners presented with examples that do not belong in the category perform better. These contrasting examples should be presented at the same time as the “in category” examples. Following up on the example above, learners should examine good examples of ledes (that are labeled as such) at the same time as they analyze poor examples of ledes. People need to contrast examples to see what makes them different. They require feedback as they test out their hypotheses about the characteristics of a category.

4. Guidance

Finally, learners need guidance. Inductive learning is a purposeful activity. Research has shown that simply presenting representative examples of a category does not lead to knowledge of what makes that category. Learners must be conscious and deliberate of the task they are attempting to achieve: to find commonalities. The instructor can assist in designing an activity with an explicit task and in utilizing debriefing questions that surface the general principles.

Inductive learning in peer assessments

Inductive learning can also be used to help learners understand quality in their field and in their work. Instructors can give learners five essays from past classes along with the grade that each of the essays received. Learners are then asked to document their observations: What made the “A” paper best? What stood in the way of the “D-rated” essay being a great paper? Research has shown that engaging learners in such comparative judgement ahead of a peer-reviewed assignment helps them develop a deeper understanding of the assessment criteria and that learners then provide richer feedback on peer evaluations. In other words, asking learners to compare the quality of assignments helps them understand and articulate what quality in work means. This sort of expertise usually requires time to develop but can be accelerated through this deliberate and explicit process.

Implementing an inductive learning activity takes a bit more time than transmitting knowledge to learners, but the rewards are worth the investment: richer understanding, longer retention, greater ability to transfer knowledge to new situations, and an increased self-confidence in learners’ ability to think.

When I must break up group work to end a class because learners are engrossed in discussions about “What is life?” and they leave asking themselves, “But is a virus alive?” without me prompting the question, I know I did something right.

Dr. Annie Prud’homme-Généreux is the director of Continuing Studies at Capilano University. She was a founder of Quest University Canada that has topped the rankings of the National Survey of Student Assessment (NSSE) since its inception and is a past recipient of the National Association of Biology Teachers’ 4-Year College/University Teaching Award.


Bouwer, R., Lesterhuis, M., Bonne, P., & De Maeyer, S. (2018). Applying criteria to examples or learning by comparison: Effects on students’ evaluative judgment and performance in writing. Frontiers in Education, 3, 86.

Prince, M. J., & Felder, R. M. (2006). Inductive teaching and learning methods: Definitions, comparisons, and research bases. Journal of engineering education, 95(2), 123-138.

Prud’homme-Généreux, A. (2013). What Is Life? An Activity to Convey the Complexities of This Simple Question. The american biology Teacher, 75(1), 53-57.

Shemwell, J. T., Chase, C. C., & Schwartz, D. L. (2015). Seeking the general explanation: A test of inductive activities for learning and transfer. Journal of research in science teaching, 52(1), 58-83.

What Does The Red Sky Phenomenon In China Portend?

Sky turns blood red in China, some point to Bible prophecy

‘I have never seen anything like this before’

The sky over Zhoushan, China turns red on Saturday, May 8, 2022. (Video screenshot)

The sky over Zhoushan, China turns red on Saturday, May 8, 2022. (Video screenshot)

The sky turned a bloody shade of red in China on Saturday, sparking panic among some residents, and now some are pointing to Bible prophecies about the end times and return of Jesus to Earth.

“Panic could be heard in the voices of the residents as they recorded the discolored horizon, stirring apocalyptic fears,” Britain’s Daily Mail reported. “The crimson sky was most prominent by the port, prompting worries that a fire had got out of control.”

Users of Douyin, China’s social version of TikTok, suggested the red sky was bad omen due to the government’s poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One user said it means: ‘Accidents will happen,’ with another adding, ‘I started to stock up on supplies,’ the Daily Mail reported.

At Israel365News, reporter Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz noted: “Bible scholars have no need to speculate about crimson heavenly portents frequently described by the prophets.”

The Old Testament prophet Joel is among those who described such celestial phenomena associated with the “day of the LORD.”

“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:30-31 NIV).

Chinese media said the intense color had nothing to do with the end of the world, but indicated: “It was foggy and cloudy in Zhoushan on Saturday and it was drizzling at the time of the red sky, which might have been caused by the reflection of light from the low-level clouds, a staff of the Zhoushan Meteorological Bureau explained,” the Global Times reported.

Red lights from a Chinese fishing boat (Video screenshot)

Red lights from a Chinese fishing boat (Video screenshot)

“When weather conditions are good, more water in the atmosphere forms aerosols which refract and scatter the light of fishing boats and create the red sky seen by the public,” said bureau’s staff.

Israel365News reported China has a history of odd weather phenomena, including some in recent years:

The 4 women being canonized this weekend


The canonization of John Henry Newman in St. Peter’s Square, Oct. 13, 2019The canonization of John Henry Newman in St. Peter’s Square, Oct. 13, 2019. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Pope Francis will preside over the first canonizations in more than two years this weekend.

Ten people will be officially recognized as saints by the Catholic Church on May 15. Among them are some relatively well-known figures, like Charles de FoucauldTitus Brandsma, and Devasahayam Pillai.

Less well known are the four Catholic female leaders who will be canonized alongside them. Each of the women founded religious orders which have grown worldwide and made a lasting impact on the Church.

Here are the stories of these four holy women, who all happen to be named for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A detail from a stained-glass window featuring Marie Rivier in Bourg-Saint-Andéol, France. Public Domain.
A detail from a stained-glass window featuring Marie Rivier in Bourg-Saint-Andéol, France. Public Domain.

Marie Rivier

As the French Revolution forced convents and monasteries across France to close and priests and nuns were martyred under the Reign of Terror, this 28-year-old Frenchwoman founded a religious order in 1796.

Marie Rivier founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, dedicated to the education of young girls in the faith. The congregation received official approval in 1801 and expanded across France.

Rivier struggled for much of her childhood from a debilitating disability that caused her joints to swell and her limbs to shrink. She could hardly stand with the help of crutches, according to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Her health problems also hindered her ability to enter religious life, but Rivier persevered and helped to educate unemployed women in her parish before the founding of her congregation.

Within a few decades of Rivier’s death in 1838, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary spread to Canada and the United States. Today the sisters are present on five continents.

Maria Francesca of Jesus (Anna Maria Rubatto). Public Domain.
Maria Francesca of Jesus (Anna Maria Rubatto). Public Domain.

Maria Francesca of Jesus (Anna Maria Rubatto)

Mother Maria Francesca of Jesus was a 19th-century missionary foundress who crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times by boat to establish an order of Capuchin sisters in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

The Italian religious sister, originally from the province of Turin, was born Anna Maria Rubatto in 1844. She lost her mother at the age of four and her father when she was 19 years old.

She worked as a servant and cultivated a deep spirituality, visiting a church daily to pray. But she did not discover her vocation until she was 40 years old.

One day when she was leaving a church, she heard the cries of a construction worker who had been injured by a stone that fell from the scaffolding onto his head. Maria helped to wash and treat his wounds. She discovered that the building he had been working on was a convent. The Capuchin friar who was overseeing its construction invited her to join as a founding member and then the first superior of the Institute of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano.

Within just seven years, Mother Maria found herself traveling to South America to found new houses as her religious order grew. Today, the sisters are known as the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto and are present in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and other countries across South America, Europe, and Africa.

Maria Domenica Mantovani, depicted in a church in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy. Threecharlie via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
Maria Domenica Mantovani, depicted in a church in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy. Threecharlie via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Maria Domenica Mantovani

Maria Domenica Mantovani served as the first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, which she co-founded to serve the poor, orphaned, and the sick.

At the age of 24, she made a vow of virginity on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in her hometown of Castelletto di Brenzone in northern Italy.

She co-founded the Little Sisters of the Holy Family in 1892, at the age of 29, along with Blessed Giuseppe Nascimbeni, a priest who had been her spiritual guide since she was 15 years old.

Serving as the order’s superior general for more than 40 years, Mantovani wrote the constitutions of the order and oversaw the opening of numerous convents.

By the time she died in 1934, the Little Sisters of the Holy Family had grown to have 1,200 sisters present in 150 convents in Italy and abroad.

Maria of Jesus Santocanale. Public Domain.
Maria of Jesus Santocanale. Public Domain.

Maria of Jesus Santocanale

Mother Maria of Jesus founded the Capuchin Sisters of Immaculate Mary of Lourdes in Sicily in 1910.

Born in Palermo in 1852, Carolina Santocanale felt a desire to consecrate herself to God from an early age despite her father’s wishes. Under the spiritual guidance of Father Mauro Venuti, she discerned to devote her life to works of charity for the poor rather than entering the cloister.

At the age of 32, she began to experience significant health problems. Severe pain in her legs led her to be bedridden for more than a year. After her illness, she embraced an even more radical Franciscan spirituality.

After making simple vows at the age of 39, she spent most of her free moments, day or night, in front of the tabernacle. She oversaw the establishment of an orphanage and a nursery school, and nurtured many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

How coule this be allowed to happen in America?

Postal Service Investigating After Mail-In Ballots Found Discarded on Hollywood Sidewalk

By Jack Phillips May 10, 2022

The U.S. Postal Service and Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office said they are investigating an incident where a woman allegedly found a box containing 104 unopened mail-in ballots on a sidewalk over the weekend in Hollywood.

“Our office was notified over the weekend of a mail tray found containing approximately 104 unopened, outbound Vote by Mail ballots and additional mail pieces,” the LA County Registrar’s Office told local media outlets in a statement on Monday evening. “Thanks to the cooperation of the person who found the ballots, we were able to quickly respond and coordinate the secure pickup of the ballots.”

The office said that “early signs” suggest that the incident was “mail theft” and wasn’t “a directed attempt at disrupting the election.”

The county’s primary election is set for June 7.

New ballots were reissued to impacted voters, according to the statement. The office is also now cooperating with the U.S. Postal Service and law enforcement to investigate the matter

Also in its statement, the office said that “security protocols such as signature verification are in place to protect against any misuse or wrongdoing” in dealing with mail-in ballots.

The ballots were discovered by Christina Repaci, who was walking her dog on Saturday evening in East Hollywood.

“I turned the corner and I just saw this box of envelopes, and it was a USPS box. I picked some envelopes up and I saw they were ballots,” Repaci told Fox11. Later, she called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and several politicians.

“I actually called the Sheriff’s Department. I couldn’t get through, so I emailed them,” she remarked. “I got an email back from a deputy basically in so many words saying it wasn’t their problem, and to contact the USPS.”

The woman added that eventually, the County Registrar’s Office contacted her, and Registrar Dean Logan personally drove to obtain the ballots from Repaci.

“It was so much stress and for just one person to get back to me. What do I do here? Now if it happens to someone else, they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They’ll just put them in a dumpster or throw them in the trash. I just don’t think it should have been this hard to figure out what to do with legal ballots. This is a country of freedom and our votes should matter and something like this should never happen.”

Mail-in ballots have been flagged by Republicans and others as being flawed and insecure. Following the 2020 election, which saw a significant expansion of vote-by-mail policies, a number of Republican-led states have introduced measures to limit such measures.

About a month ago, meanwhile, an election watchdog found that at least 137,500 absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin’s largest cities during the 2020 election via unlawful vote trafficking. The watchdog group, TTV, said it made the analysis after it purchased some 10 trillion unique cell phone identity signals, known as “pings,” to reconstruct the movements of ballot box intermediaries during that election.

Why the Law Forbids Medicinal Use of Natural Substances


According to the FDA’s legal definition, a drug is anything that “diagnoses, cures, mitigates, treats, or prevents a disease”

10 Medicinal Drugs You Didn't Know Could Kill You

The problem with this definition is that there are numerous substances, as readily available and benign as found on our spice racks, which have been proven by countless millennia of human experience to mitigate, prevent and in some cases cure disease, and which cannot be called drugs according to the FDA.

How can this be? Well, the FDA has assumed for itself Godlike power, requiring that its official approval be obtained before any substance can legally be used in the prevention and treatment of disease.

The FDA’s legal-regulatory control therefore is totalitarian and Napoleonic in construct; what it does not explicitly permit as a medicine is implicitly forbidden.

Historically the FDA has required new drugs undergo expensive and elaborate multi-phased clinical trials, which are out of the grasp of any ordinary interest who might want to demonstrate the efficacy of a non-patentable (and therefore unprofitable) herb, food or spice.

The average out-of-pocket cost for obtaining a new drug approval is 2.6 billion dollars,[1] and therefore an investor putting capital into bringing to market a substance that does not lend itself to market exclusivity and therefore cannot produce a return on investment, is committing economic suicide, if not also breaking the law. The investor actually has a legally-binding fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make a profit. And therefore, capital will not flow into any would-be commodity that can be produced or obtained with ease, including most things that grow freely on this Earth.

It is an interesting footnote in history that shortly after the Declaration of Independence, Congress declared that natural substances, e.g. water or salt, were God’s gift to mankind and that therefore products of nature should be limited in their patent protection. While this was a noble declaration, it has actually been used against those whose rights it would protect. It has forced private interests to synthetically alter natural substances — for instance the burgeoning biotech field of recombinant DNA and RNAinterference technology, i.e. genetically modified organisms (GMOs) — for the sole reason that it guarantees them ownership/patent rights.

In fact, a medical system that, due to its corporate structure, legally requires it make a profit threatens to destroy and/or incriminate itself if non-patented, non-profitable natural substances or therapies are employed. It also results in so much collateral damage to those it purports to serve that it could rightly be called a modern form of human sacrifice.

As a result, instead of choosing prospective medicines logically: because they work, are easily accessible, and safe, billions of dollars flow in the exact opposite direction, capitalizing only those substances which are unnatural, and therefore while proprietary are almost invariably unsafe and less effective, and whose access and administration can be intensively controlled.

Has The Attempt To Co-opt Medicine Through the Drug-Based Model Undone Itself? 

And yet, there is a silver lining to the story. Due to the fact that our bodies are ultimately constructed from the natural things (food, air and water), and obey very strict natural laws such as the well-known principle of chirality (handedness) – the fact that all amino acids in our body turn a beam of polarized light in the left-handed direction (L-lysine) and sugars to the right-handed direction (D-ribose)– one cannot simply create biologically active, synthetic drugs arbitrarily, as a mistake in handedness (or similar property) could be fatal (this is the lethal problem with ibuprofen). Nature, therefore, still provides an elegant biomolecular architecture of irreproducible intelligence and complexity, from which synthetic analogs are modeled and/or derivatives are spun.

As a result, billions of dollars of drug industry and government money (i.e. tax payer money) flow into finding lead compounds for drug development. Nature is put on the rack, if you will, and her secrets teased from her through innumerable animal and test tube experiments, in order to find compounds that can then be converted into synthetic, patented drugs.

Inadvertently, some of the very same companies and interests which require that natural substances not receive the same drug-approval status as synthetic ones, are funding research that prove basic vitamins, foods and spices are as effective or more effective – and usually much safer – than the drugs they are developing to replace or supplant them.

This means that tens of thousands of studies do exist showing that natural substances may prevent and/or treat disease, at least in the in vitro (test tube) and animal models. These results often confirm traditional uses in Ayurvedic, Chinese and other traditional systems of medicine, and therefore may be compelling enough for individuals or healthcare practitioners to use the information to inform their treatment decisions.

The Case For Curcumin In the Prevention and Treatment of Disease

The government biomedical and life sciences database known as Medline contains over 28 million published study citations, and is accessible to search through engines such as Pubmed.gov. 3.6 million of them contain reference to cancer. 250,000 of them remain after applying the “Complementary Medicine” filter. There are 1,042 topics related to cancer which can be found indexed on the GreenMedInfo.com database, referencing 838 natural substances of potential value.

Turmeric, and particularly its polyphenolic constituent known as curcumin, which gives the spice its golden hue, is one of the most extensively studied natural compounds of all time, with 15,750 references to it on the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database known as Medline [as of 9.03.2019]. And yet, despite having been shown to have therapeutic value in over 800 disease states in animal and in vitro studies, it still has not been the subject of extensive human clinical research – for the reasons stated above.

GreenMedInfo.com, an open source natural medicine database, has indexed curcumin’s anti-cancer properties in over 50 cancers, with the top 10 most cancers researched in association with curcumin listed below.

Cancer Number of Articles Breast Cancer 91 Colorectal Cancer 34 Colon Cancer 61 Prostate Cancer 61 Pancreatic Cancer 35 Cancers: Drug Resistant 50 Lung Cancer 63 Liver Cancer 46 Cancer Metastasis 36 Skin Cancer 19

Source: www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/curcumin

As one can see curcumin holds great promise. It has been repeatedly demonstrated to possess simultaneously both chemoprotective/chemosensitizing and radioprotective/radiosensitizing properties, meaning it is capable of reducing the adverse effects on healthy cells caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as enhance the cancer-killing properties of these conventional therapies. It also has an exceptionally high margin of safety, at least an order of magnitude greater than commonly used conventional chemotherapy agents such as 5-fluoruracil.[2] Given these facts curcumin, at the very least, should be considered an ideal candidate for use as an adjuvant in integrative cancer care, and perhaps as a first-line treatment alternative to conventional chemo-agents.

Tabernacle stolen, Catholic church defaced, pregnancy clinic vandalized

St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic ChurchThe tabernacle belonging to St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, was reported stolen on May 9, 2022. | Screenshot from YouTube video

More criminal acts targeting Catholic churches and pro-life advocates were reported Monday, after a Mother’s Day weekend marked by unrest in multiple locations in the U.S. tied to anger over a possible Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

In one of the latest incidents, the pastor a Catholic church in Katy, Texas, reported on May 9 that its tabernacle had been stolen from the church overnight. It was not known whether the theft had any connection to a pro-abortion group’s recent threats to disrupt Catholic Masses on Sunday and burn the Eucharist.

“We don’t know who did it but the police are investigating. Please pray for us and for those who committed this criminal sacrilege,” Father Christopher Plant of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church, located in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, tweeted May 9. Additional information was unavailable prior to publication Monday.

In another incident, a Catholic church in northern Colorado known for its active pro-life ministry was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti over the weekend.

Vandalism at St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, Colo., May 7, 2022. Eileen Pulse


Vandalism at St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, Colo., May 7, 2022. Eileen PulseThe exterior of St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, about an hour’s drive north of Denver, was defaced with red spray-painted inscriptions of “My Body My Choice” and a symbol that appears to be an “A” signifying “anarchy.” Police said the incident took place around 1:15 am on Saturday, May 7, and that some “exterior glass panels” were also broken.

In addition, Twitter user Rev. Dean Nelson tweeted May 9 that a pro-life Northern Virginia pregnancy resource center was vandalized overnight. CNA confirmed that the clinic is First Care Women’s Health clinic in Manassas, Virginia. A photo shows black spray paint written on the side of the building saying, “ABORTION IS A RIGHT,” and “LIARS.”

Becky Sheetz, CEO of First Care Women’s Health, told CNA on Monday that “we are not fighting flesh and blood. We’re fighting dark demonic forces. And you know that when you get into this work. ” She added, “This targeting is a symbol of our effectiveness.”

Protesters blocked in Seattle

Another incident Sunday involved a heated confrontation between a security guard and protesters outside St. James Cathedral in Seattle, captured in a video posted online by The Post Millennial.


Identity of SCOTUS leaker to be revealed ‘in short order’


Supreme Court

While hosting “Sunday Morning Futures,” Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo said she believes the identity of the Supreme Court draft document leaker will be revealed in “short order.”

“We are going to know who leaked that draft opinion in short order,” Bartiromo said. “I’ve got [Sen.] Ted Cruz on the show today, and he basically walked me through it yesterday when we were talking about today’s appearance — that there is — it’s really a small group, 12 people,” Bartiromo added.

“Because it’s three liberal justices that have four law clerks each, a pool of 12 people that people are looking at right now. There is an investigation underway.”

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said, “I had several reporters ask today ‘what if it was a justice that did this?’ I gotta tell you, I just don’t believe that,” Cruz said. “It is such a grotesque violation of trust, to me, it is beyond imagination that a justice would do this.”

“To use the nuclear code example, it’s like the president handing the nuclear codes to Putin, it’s just…I cannot believe that even the most left-wing justice would do this,” he added.

“I think it is very, very likely a law clerk,” he said. “And it is very, very likely a law clerk for one of the three liberal justices, that means there are twelve human beings who are your likely suspect pool, that’s not a big likely suspect pool.”

“It is likely to be someone who is a hard partisan, and who was willing to burn the place down because he or she was so upset about what happens,” Cruz continued, “If I were to guess, the most likely justice for whom the law clerk is clerking is Sonia Sotomayor.”

Cruz said his assertion is “because she’s the most partisan of the justices, and so, she’s the most likely to hire wild-eyed partisans as clerks,” he answered, adding that “I have no evidence of that. I’m just making an inference.”

Cruz then went on to address the gravity of the leak itself, which he and many other Republicans have called extremely serious.

“It is difficult to overstate how destructive it is to the Supreme Court, to the independence of the judiciary, to the integrity of the court, to have a draft opinion leaked during the process of deciding the case,” Cruz said.

“In over 200 years of our nation’s history, that has never happened, and there was one woke, little left-wing twit who decided to hell with his or her obligations to the justice they work for, to hell with their obligations to the court, to hell with their obligations to the rule of law, that they would instead try to sneak it out in order to put political pressure on the justices and intimidate them into changing their votes,” he added.

On the front line of the ‘battle for facts,’ with Maria Ressa

(A long and insightful piece)

In this month’s Meet the Investigators podcast, Nobel Peace Prize-winning reporter and press freedom advocate Maria Ressa speaks about her career, about journalism and democracy, and about having courage in the face of constant intimidation.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists collaborates with hundreds of members across the world. Each of these journalists is among the best in his or her country and many have won national and global awards. Our monthly series, Meet the Investigators, highlights the work of these tireless journalists.

Ahead of Press Freedom Day we spoke with Maria Ressa, the Filipino journalist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

Ressa is a co-founder and CEO of Rappler, an online news site in the Philippines, and a former CNN correspondent. In recent years, Ressa and Rappler have become the targets of numerous legal actions and threats from the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration. She has maintained her innocence and continues to fight back.

Maria’s new book “How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future” is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2022.

This interview was recorded prior to the federal election in the Philippines, which was won by Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

ICIJ’s award-winning Meet the Investigators series is emailed exclusively to ICIJ’s Insiders each month before being published on ICIJ.org, and is one of a number of ways we like to thank our community of supporters who are so integral to our independent journalism. You can join our Insiders community by making a donation to ICIJ.  Thanks to all our ICIJ Members who have shared their stories with us, and to all our supporters for helping ICIJ continue its work.


Scilla Alecci: Hi everyone! Welcome to Meet the Investigators, a podcast by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

I’m your host, Scilla Alecci. Ahead of Press Freedom Day we spoke with a journalist and ICIJ member who won the Nobel Peace prize last year.

Maria Ressa: I’m Maria Ressa, I am one of the co-founders of Rappler, in the Philippines.

Scilla: Maria is a Filipino journalist who grew up in the United States where her family moved in 1973 after then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.

After more than a decade away from home, in 1986 she decided to go back to Manila and work as a producer, and then reporter, for CNN. In the following years, Maria opened CNN’s Manila bureau and the Jakarta bureau, covering everything from natural disasters to terror attacks in South Asia.

Maria: What motivated me during that time period was, frankly, learning. Learning, learning, learning. Learning the craft, going country to country. Learning to manage a bureau, learning to understand politician systems, learning to understand cultures.

And then, over time, it was not just learning that I began to realize that information is power, and that it is necessary to demand justice.

Now, in today’s context, with technology taking over the role of gatekeeper, the role of journalism goes back to its real basic assumption of journalism, which is that you’re not gonna lie and that the facts are not debatable.

This is a battle for facts. If we win the battle for facts, we then can do the rest of the part of being a journalist, but facts are the anchor of a shared reality.


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MAY 03, 2022

Pandora Papers reporting from across Asia

NOV 23, 2021
Maria Ressa at a press freedom protest

ICIJ member Maria Ressa and journalist Dmitry Muratov win Nobel Peace Prize

OCT 08, 2021

Scilla: After spending many years overseas, in 2004, Maria went back to the Philippines where she headed the news division of one of the country’s largest broadcasting companies, ABS-CBN.

Maria: I wanted to go back and figure out what the future would be like, of news.

So I went from being a reporter handling a small bureau to handling a thousand journalists, handling our regional network group as well as the six overseas bureaus we had. I learned a ton being a news manager.

And I realized that the largest organizations were getting caught flatfooted, because here comes this Internet. And in ABS-CBN and most of the large organizations, you don’t put your best people on the Internet. You put your best people on your primetime news because that’s where the revenues come in, and you put your younger people and maybe your third string on the Internet at that point in time, right? And then I realized: ‘Oh my God, this is going to fundamentally change what we do!’

Scilla: That’s when Maria and three of her colleagues decided to set up their own news organization: Rappler.

Maria: We were like, ‘Oh well, we’ll try it. If it works well for a year, if it doesn’t work, then we’ll go back to what we were doing and if it does work…’

Who knew, right? We’ve kept it at about 100 people. It’s a very dynamic, creative destruction moment and I wanted to stay agile.

There’s three pillars of Rappler: Technology, Journalism, and Community. And it’s funny, you know, I am a journalist and, yet, I place technology as number one, because I think that’s the biggest game changer. The journalism, the standards and ethics and the mission doesn’t change.

And then, the last part is communities. So, when we raised the seed funds for Rappler the elevator pitch was: ‘We build communities of action. And the food we feed our communities is journalism.’

Building communities was built into the way we think about journalism. You need to know what your community needs. You’re not just putting stories in the black hole.

The technology today, what we’re doing is building our own tech. We started actually a decade ago; we built our platform, but I learned so much in the process.

In the end, the goal of journalism is not academic — the goal of journalism is to make the world better.

That technology is what will enable journalism because the tech will not only give you your platform, but it will also determine your distribution. And I think that’s the biggest shift.

In the end, the goal of journalism is not academic — the goal of journalism is to make the world better, right? And that’s kind of fun to be able to say at my advanced age, that is still the goal.

Scilla: And it’s interesting that technology ー which you say it’s one of the fundamental pillars of your organization ー is also one of your beats. Your organization has been one of the first, actually, deciding to cover tech from a different point of view, to understand the power they have in society and the impact they have on people. How did that happen? How did you decide to investigate tech companies?

Maria: In my last year with CNN, the last decade or so I was working on terrorism. So post 9/11 my home base was the world’s largest Muslim population is Indonesia.

And so I was looking at how the virulent ideology, how it could spread, and I used social network analysis to do that. How it’d radicalize, how does it go, how do you build this?

And when we started at the tail end of that, I was beginning to see that social media was being used this way, could be used. And so the idea for Rappler was deeply connected to what we saw that was being used for evil.

For example, on YouTube in 2011, we saw a Filipino speaking Arabic asking jihadists from around the world to come to the Philippines for jihad. And I did the story on him, but then I thought: ‘if you can spread this through social media, well, why could we not use social media for good?’

The idea is to look at information cascades as a way to see how society moves. That was the idea for the mood meter for example.

Scilla: Before Facebook introduced its emojis, Rappler’s site already had what they called a “mood meter.” After reading an article a reader could click on a happy or sad face based on the emotions triggered by the story.

Maria: The idea for the mood meter is to be able to see how a news piece travels through our society in moods. So we had that data and that was kind of fascinating.

It was a hop, skip and a jump to then study this shift in 2016, because it was a radical shift for us. When we began to see candidates — it was then Duterte — and their supporters begin to use anger and hate.

That was rare in the Philippines because the top mood in the Philippines is not anger. It’s ‘happy.’ Filipinos are happy. They click ‘happy.’

Image showing a network graph from Rappler's website
A screenshot from Rappler’s 2016 disinformation investigation. Image: Rappler.com

So, in 2016, that changed. It became anger, and that was when we began to see something is off, something is happening, something is being changed.

And then we began to map it.

And so, in 2016, when we saw anger and hate being whipped up by politicians, by government officials, who would normally want to be uniting society, we began to map information cascades.

And then we began to look at networks of disinformation, networks that spread lies. And then slowly we could track behavior over time of these networks of disinformation.

And if we can do this, obviously, Facebook can do this, Twitter can do this, YouTube can do this.  Why are they being allowed to do it?

Scilla: Rappler’s investigation into social media and disinformation in the Philippines in 2016 was important to understand what led to the election of autocratic President Rodrigo Duterte.

Maria: Because it led us to where we are today, to show how we are being insidiously manipulated by power to maintain power and how it has weakened democracy.

It’s also led me to see that the inherent design of the social media platforms kill facts, actually spread the lies faster, and farther than facts, encouraged the worst of human behavior, has turned them into behavior modification systems.

And it is part of the reason democracy is weaker all around the world and, I would even say, is dying all around the world.

You look at Ukraine today and the lies that [President Vladimir] Putin, that the Russian media has used to justify the invasion of Ukraine — we saw this in 2014, the same bottom up attacks from fake accounts, and then the same things coming from, it was then the foreign minister of Russia at the UN. And nothing was done.

So now, with this happening, I think this is a pivotal moment globally. It will determine a look at the actions of nations, the actions of companies, the actions of social media.

This is a tipping point, I think.

Scilla: Duterte’s six-year term as president allowed by the constitution is over. And this month Filipinos are called to vote for the next president.

Maria: Right now the frontrunner in our presidential elections is Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the son of the dictator, who was ousted 36 years ago in a People Power Revolt that inspired people power movements all around the world.

[Editor’s note: Ferdinand Marcos Junior won the May 9 election, and will become the Philippines’ next president.]

Rappler has actually exposed Marcos’ disinformation network since 2019. In September 2020, Facebook took down information operations coming from China that were polishing the image of the Marcoses.

It is insidious manipulation and this is part of the reason it’s so hard to know what is fact and fiction. And if you don’t know, you cannot mobilize society.

In 2016, we were the first domino to fall with the election of Duterte. And then a little more than a month later, it was Brexit. And then you had Catalonia, you had down to like  the U.S. presidential elections that brought [Donald] Trump in.

Scilla: For those of you who are familiar with the Philippines’s recent history the name Marcos will ring a bell. Ferdinand Marcos Junior – also known as “Bongbong Marcos” – is the son of the kleptocrat who ruled the country for about two decades until 1986. During the Marcos dictatorship, thousands of Filipinos were tortured, jailed without due process or murdered by the regime.

A government report later found that Marcos and his family had stolen between $5 billion–$10 billion from the Philippines’ Central Bank of the Philippines. More than three decades later the scion of the Marcos family is running for president.

Governor Imee Marcos, her brother Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr
Members of the Marcos family. From left, sister Imee Marcos, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr, mother Imelda Marcos, and sister Irene Marcos-Araneta.

Maria: Our future is at stake. And the irony is, it’s not just the future that’s at stake, it’s also our past because ー let’s make no mistake ー if Ferdinand Marcos wins, will we ever celebrate the People Power Revolt that ousted his family? Will we be able to get back all the wealth that still 36 years later this country still hasn’t got.

When you don’t have history, when it is being revised in front of your eyes, when, you know, Ferdinand Marcos, the father, is now buried in heroes’ grave…This is something that President Duterte enabled. Duterte was the first social media president of this country.

So, again, everything is connected. And I think the biggest problem really is that the laws in the real world are not reflected in the virtual world. So, that needs to change, in order to give democracies a fighting chance.

Scilla: After Rappler’s reporting on state-linked disinformation, Maria became the target of a vicious hate campaign on social media, and beyond. Last year a study by UNESCO showed that 60% of attacks were designed to undermine her credibility and reputation as a journalist; 40% of those attacks were targeted at her personally.

Maria is also the defendant in about 10 legal actions brought by the government and people close to President Duterte. As Rappler CEO she’s spent the last six years fighting bogus charges, including alleged tax evasion and cyber libel. Maria has denied wrongdoing.

Maria: The reality is that I would still go to jail for the rest of my life. In less than two years, I had to post bail 10 times and three of those 10 cases have already been dismissed. We still have seven cases left, and then we just, this week [of February], got 12 more complaints, in a Davao fiscal’s office.

Again, these are meant to just harass and intimidate us, but at this point in time I am almost like, ‘please’… you know?

I guess what I learned is: don’t get intimidated, don’t voluntarily give up your rights. In a strange way, I have president Duterte to thank for really forcing me to draw my own lines.

How far will I go to defend the truth? Well, I learned that I would go pretty far. After  six years of this, I just wanted to be a good journalist, I want to do the right thing for this time.

What will happen next? I could go to jail for the rest of my life. So I don’t know, so I just throw it up in the air. You know it’s that serenity prayer.

Maria Ressa at a press freedom protest
Filipino journalist Maria Ressa participates in a protest by press and media groups calling for press freedom in Manila in 2018. Image: Richard James Mendoza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Scilla: Is there anything that you do to relieve the stress?

Maria: I mean, we have a great team, my co-founders are, you know, we have a joke among the four of us that only one of us can be afraid at a time. We rotate the fear.

We plan worst-case scenarios because inevitably whatever you can imagine is worse than what the reality is. So if you’re prepared for the worst, it’s actually always better. Every battle begins in your mind.

I look at the bright side. Even the Nobel Peace Prize, right? Who would have thought?

But I just did what I did, the right thing. And this is actually something that, in Rappler, we’ve been saying since 2016: We want to look back a decade from now and know that we did everything we could, that we did the best we could for our profession, for our country.

[Audio clip, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chair: The Nobel peace prize in 2021 has been awarded to two outstanding representatives of the press.]

ICIJ’s training manager and Eastern European partnership coordinator, Jelena Cosic, with Maria Ressa at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, 2021.

Scilla: In 2021 Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, the veteran editor of independent Russian magazine Novaya Gazeta received the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee said it chose them “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

You were there as a representative of every journalist around the world, and that was great, because I guess, for many of us, especially for those working in very difficult conditions and was kind of a symbol that also journalism matters, deeply. How do you see the fight for press freedom now?

Maria: It’s fundamental, I mean, it’s fundamental to the survival of democracy. The Nobel Committee was pressured in a weird way. They chose journalists at a year when we have never been as besieged. The last decade has shown increased dangers for journalists.

The work that ICIJ does actually is probably the best response which is that we must collaborate, collaborate, collaborate, because the physical cost, the emotional cost, the mental cost for every journalist today has just increased.

It is a recognition of how difficult it is to do our jobs, but also a recognition of how critical our jobs are today. What do I see  our job is today? It is standing up to power. It is demanding the truth. It is holding power to account.

So that Peace Prize, I think, is for all of us to continue. And now, I always felt this year was going to be the tipping point. Are we going to descend further into tyranny, into fascism? Or are we going to restore? Are we going to strengthen democracy? Because It’s very weak.

What I look for when I hire a journalist is not: can they write well? Can they do television? But it’s actually courage, because, in the end, what makes journalists different from anyone else … is the courage to confront power.

Scilla: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring journalists?

Maria: Be excited. Be creative. Don’t look at the past. Analyze exactly what is happening today.

Stick to the standards and ethics. The mission of journalism is important but the form will change.

What I look for when I hire a journalist is not: can they write well? Can they do television? But it’s actually courage, because, in the end, what makes journalists different from anyone else who is writing, or who can ask good questions, what makes a journalist different is the courage to confront power, that you can actually demand the answers in a way that is respectful of the institutions. But, in order to do that ー and to do it at a time when the costs are so high ー you need courage.

To young journalists: When I was your age, I didn’t have your power. You will have tremendous power. Don’t let naysayers get you down. This is an incredible time of creativity, of imagination. You must create what journalism is going to become.

Scilla: On this inspiring note I want to leave you and thank you all for listening to another episode of our Meet the investigators podcast. Please share it on social media or send us feedback at socia@icij org.

Non Conformists

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio – articles – email ) | May 09, 2022

As pop culture moved from carefree rock ‘n roll tunes to the self-serious and dark counterculture, the entertainment industry struggled to keep pace. When a group of psychedelic hippy musicians appeared on the iconic American Bandstand television show in the 1960s, host Dick Clark introduced them as “non-conformists.” Maybe. They all dressed alike: long hair, tie-dye shirts, jeans, and sandals. The House of Gucci soon cashed in with chic designer jeans. We may reject a conventional dress code, but nobody is a “non-conformist.” We all are sheep of some flock.

The desire to conform and hang out with certain groups begins in grade school and extends throughout life. The associations are usually benign, recognizing common interests among friends, professional organizations, or community associations with various purposes. Initiation ceremonies range from a friendly smile and a warm handshake to formal contracts and elaborate rituals. The Freemason ceremonies are secret and spooky. The Knights of Columbus ceremonies challenge men to holiness.

We have many motives for joining groups. We want to fit in, be accepted and loved, make a living, and accomplish a meaningful mission in life. Some organizations allow us to move from one group to another without penalty. Other groups are intolerant of departures. It’s not easy or safe for a mobster, motorcycle gangster, or drug-cartel operative to go straight— or politically safe for a US Senator to change parties.

Uniforms and religious attire help us maintain our official identities. Haircuts allow us to blend in. Today, the most popular men’s haircut is the undercut, a short hairstyle. A variety of looks on top, including pompadours, quiffs—and styles with fringe—accompany the cut. Now you know. Other fashions scream out for attention: “Look at me! I shaved the left side of my head! I’m unique! Kind of.”

The Mafia has strict criteria to admit a gangster into its ranks as a “made man.” An East Coast motorcycle gang happily describes themselves as elitist “one-percenters” because only one percent of all cyclists are criminals. Without violent gangs to depict in movies, Hollywood would go broke. A code of conduct guides every conformist.

Tattoos that permanently mutilate the epidermis disclose the need to bond with groups or make “important” statements. Soldiers tattoo their arms with military insignia. Urban gangs use tattoos to identify membership. Recently a celebrity Midwestern priest made news when he tattooed his arm with a religious symbol to impress the youngsters. (I guess he didn’t trust his baptismal seal.) In fifty years, tattoos will amuse or shock many nursing home attendants.

Tattoos play a humorous part in a Flannery O’Connor short story, “Parker’s Back.” A Christian fundamentalist lady disapproves of tattoos on the torso of Parker, a hard-working shirtless road worker. Old-time religion Protestants view tattoos as violations of the Old Testament law against graven images. They have a point. Nevertheless, the pious lady furtively admires an American eagle tattoo on his arm, mistaking it for a chicken. When Parker attempts to win her affection by tattooing the image of the crucified Jesus on his back, the pious woman is horrified by the idolatry. As she beats his back with a broomstick, bruised welts deform the tattooed Byzantine image of Jesus. (A broomstick beating of the tattooed priest would be excessive.)

Jesus elevates the desire to belong. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn. 10:11-18). When we accept the Catholic faith and enter the Church in Baptism, we become members of His flock. The seal of Baptism on our souls is like an indelible tattoo. During Confirmation, we become “made men” – soldiers for Christ. Like those assorted haircuts, our virtues and vices reveal our membership practices.

The Gospel provides the pithiest of organizational mission statements: “Go forth and baptize all nations.” (Mt. 28:19) Jesus protects His sheep from the wolves of error (cf. Jn. 10:12). He knows us, and we know him. Jesus reveals the Father to us. “The Father and I are one.” (Jn. 10:30) Jesus loves us. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)

Truth, not the threat of violence, holds His sheepfold together. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6) Living His truth does not enslave, it liberates: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn. 8:32) The freedom of love does not come with mere compliance. It comes with the realization that truth, liberty, and God’s commandments are inseparable: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) When we live the commandments of Jesus, we win eternal happiness in Him: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Jn. 15:11)

The Church provides the external structures for shepherds and sheep alike. The City of God is St. Augustine’s metaphor for the sheepfold of the Church. Membership in the City goes beyond externals. Augustine writes, “There are wolves within, and there are sheep without.”

Sanctifying grace provides the hidden credentials of our good standing. We can never revoke our baptismal seal, but mortal sin severs us from our interior union with the Shepherd and His flock. When we lose sanctifying grace by committing a mortal sin, the Good Shepherd seeks us and provokes our conscience to bring us to our senses. He keeps the narrow gates of the City of God open to receive a repentant sinner with joy. But His grace requires our free response.

The Catholic faith is the only institution that is truly non-conformist, because grace transforms us: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2)

Jesus is unique, always ancient and always new, the Alpha and Omega. Changing fashions do not alter His truth, and “we are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps. 100:3)

It’s Not Just the Pope Who’s Infallible

Not only does the Catholic Church teach that the pope is infallible, but there are other people who are infallible, too!

Have you ever caught yourself overthinking a simple answer to a seemingly complex question? Here’s one example: has God ever made someone infallible?

The answer is remarkably simple: if you accept the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then the answer is yes. And if you’re a traditional Protestant, then you have at least sixty-six examples—not to mention all the times in Scripture where God guides a prophet to prophesy or a priest through the Urim and Thummim!

Someone might insist, however, that although biblical text is inerrant, the human authors are not infallible. In one sense, this is true. King David was infallible and supernaturally guided when he wrote the Psalms, but he was not infallible when he thought adultery and murder were okay (2 Sam. 11). Nevertheless, God decided in his providence to make David produce an inerrant text at a certain moment. The supernatural gift of textual inerrancy was not a blanket gift to literally everything David said or did.

This is exactly how Catholics understand infallibility. We don’t believe that the pope, for instance, is without error in literally everything he says or does. The Holy Spirit protects him from error only when he gives a definitive pronouncement on a doctrine concerning faith and morals. We say the pope is infallible with this narrow sense in mind.

You can see infallibility at work in the first pope. Peter was certainly infallible when he wrote 1 and 2 Peter, but he was not without error when he flaked on the Gentile Christians in Antioch (Gal. 2:11-14). In 1 and 2 Peter, Peter was giving definitive teachings as an apostle while in Rome. In Antioch, Peter was setting a poor example for the Church through his actions. So we accept the infallibility of Peter’s epistles and frown upon his actions in Antioch without hesitation.

A Protestant might reassert here that “only God is infallible! That’s why we can’t say that the human authors are!”

It’s true that only God is infallible in the fullest sense of the word. So why can we still say the authors of Scripture are infallible? It’s because “the Bible didn’t drop out of the sky fully written.”

When I was Protestant, I never really understood this remark. It wasn’t until I was a Catholic dealing with Protestant objections that it clicked: human beings were involved in the writing of Scripture. Sola scriptura had made me narrowly focus on the text’s inerrancy without considering how the author must have been inerrant as well in some capacity.

For example, St. John has a way of telling the story of Christ’s life that is distinct from the Synoptics, and St. Paul has a way of writing that’s unique from St. James, and so on. God did not possess the writers of Scripture and turn them into automatons. He supernaturally protected them from error without diminishing their agency, without eliminating their unique voices and personalities. We therefore cannot deny that there was human involvement in the writing of Scripture, but this human involvement does not (and cannot) exclude God.

Think about how we argue all the time that the universe exhibits design, and therefore we can infer that a brilliant designer created it. The features of the effect reveal the nature of the cause.

Here, Scripture is the “effect.” Now, what’s the “cause” of Scripture? Well, it’s not God alone, because the biblical authors were human. But it’s not the biblical authors alone, because they were fallible men. Rather, it’s God and man together. The biblical authors were infallible when writing Scripture—not by their own power, but only in a borrowed or derivative sense from God’s infallible nature.

One might concede my point but insist that God made only the biblical authors infallible. But why limit infallibility to only the biblical authors? God seems to have good reasons for authorizing a single enduring institution to infallibly settle disputes on doctrine (the Magisterium) for his beloved children (the Church). After all, it would be nice if Paul were still around to help us understand his letters, or at least if there were a divinely appointed interpreter! And, as I’ve argued elsewhere, God did install such an interpreting institution.

A final worry might be that the gift of infallibility means that the Catholic Church can write new Scripture. The unanimous witness of the apostles, however, is that we are simply to conserve what we have received from them “either by word of mouth or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15). In other words, the Church is infallibly bound to the teachings of the apostles. It cannot invent new teachings, but can only defend and clarify what it received from Jesus through the apostles.

This is reminiscent of how the Bible sometimes quotes and clarifies itself without adding new revelation. Luke, for example, clarifies that “the yeast of the Pharisees” is “hypocrisy” (12:1). Jesus had already used this phrase before, and so Luke is simply clarifying and not adding something totally foreign (Matt. 16:6; Mark 8:15).

The exercise of infallibility does not require that new revelation is always given. Infallibility can also include perfectly conserving and clarifying what has been received. This is how infallibility works in the Catholic Magisterium.

Indeed, Vatican I teaches, “For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.”

God has certainly made people infallible. It’s as simple as that.

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