OPEN DISCUSSION – DECEMBER 2017

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

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OPEN DISCUSSION

OPEN DISCUSSION – SEPTEMBER 2017

OPEN DISCUSSION – OCTOBER 2017

https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/10/open-discussion-november-2017/ 

107 COMMENTS

  1. The December open discussion thread is now open.

    Please do NOT add any further comments to earlier Open Discussion threads.

    Thank you.

    The mods

  2. Reposted (from Nov OD):

    Arkrid #188

    They need to give back to their mega rich donors and that’s all that
    matters to them.

    I hear that a lot, and agree–to an extent. Our ‘representatives’ are also in the bracket that reaps the most, and also benefit greatly from this tax bill.

  3. Reposted (from Nov OD):

    Alan #193

    I think I’ll have a t-shirt made that says:

    Donald Trump: Pissing off the planet, one country at a time

    *Mods, you can delete my two last minute, under the wire posts from November!
    Like

  4. Vicki,

    Tshirt logo

    Donald Trump: Pissing off the planet, one country at a time

    I think a front and back logo is called for. Same sentence only flipping the preposition from off to on.

    I thought I was going to be rich. I invented the Trump urinal target only to find I had been beaten to it. The world was already splashing out on them.

  5. Phil

    I think a front and back logo is called for. Same sentence only
    flipping the preposition from off to on.

    Genius!

  6. (@Previous month) – Dan #190 Nov 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve started getting emails from a group called Refuse Fascism. I thought I’d share part of the one I just received.

    I commented on Trump’s pro-fascist tweets and silly response to Theresa May here!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/11/tax-bills-repeal-of-johnson-amendment-could-cost-taxpayers-more-than-1-billion/#li-comment-228295

    Lord Bourne tweeted: “Millions of fellow Britons of all races and religions and none, appalled by conduct of @realDonaldTrump – understandable that they feel unable to welcome him here under these circumstances nor could I.”

    Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

  7. Alan

    Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to
    accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

    Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention, Alan. These guys’ll turn on their own faster than a doberman.

  8. Arkrid Sandwich #9
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Trumpists don’t understand what socialism is.

    To Trumpists, “Socialism” is an insult directed at anyone whose politics are to the left of Genghis Kahn! 🙂

    They think it’s communism.

    They don’t know what communism, liberalism, humanitarianism, or altruism, are either!

  9. Vicki #8
    Dec 1, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention, Alan.
    These guys’ll turn on their own faster than a doberman.

    Ah! That is to be expected, – but the real issue is how this will be perceived by those who Trump is seeking as mainstream allies in Europe!

    Significant numbers of people in both houses of parliament, are talking about cancelling Trump’s UK state visit!

  10. Alan #7 Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to
    accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

    Heh, yes that’s right Vicki.

    In fact, if that Tory supports universal health care, regulations on the financial sector and strong financial support for disadvantaged class and higher education then the Trump supporters and the entire political right here will be screaming “commie pinko” at the guy.

    The American political spectrum has gone careening off to the right. People who identify as “conservative” are often actually in the category of “reactionary” but don’t know the difference. They also believe that “liberal” is something like “anarchist” or “radical”. This may be a result of the strategy of extremists in either camp actively pushing others away from the political center and out to the fringes. Creation of a false dichotomy is in the interest of extremists.

    As it stands now, when in conversation with an American who identifies with one of these labels, I can’t trust that they actually know what they’ve signed up for. I admit that I’ve been too quick to label myself in the past. Now I hesitate to label myself and I find that others are quick to label me based on my opinions – even though it might just be one single issue that I express an opinion on! Not ok! People don’t always fit neatly into a single political category. My own father used to proudly self-label as libertarian but was also pro-choice. shrug.

    When in the company of Trumpists, just declare assertively that you are a centrist and watch what happens. They go silent and don’t know where to go with that. There’s nothing in their official play book on how to deal with centrists. “Liberals” oh yes! The brain switch clicks on and all sorts of insults and misinformation spews out immediately!

    Political spectrum from Wiki:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

  11. Laurie

    As it stands now, when in conversation with an American who identifies
    with one of these labels, I can’t trust that they actually know what
    they’ve signed up for.

    Funny you should mention that; I just replied to a guy who claimed he was a “true liberal”: a libertarian!

  12. Alan

    I’m hoping that the invitation is canceled. Or, if Trump does show up there, hopefully he’ll be pelted with rotten tomatoes and offal.

  13. Alan

    Ah! That is to be expected, – but the real issue is how this will be
    perceived by those who Trump is seeking as mainstream allies in
    Europe!

    Which brings me back to my t-shirt…

  14. Significant numbers of people in both houses of parliament, are
    talking about cancelling Trump’s UK state visit!

    They are, and quite right too … but the government is too cowardly and too dependent on the US post-Brexit to dare to take that kind of stand.

    Which is a scandal in its own right, of course, but I don’t think he’ll come in any case. There have already been reports that he’s said he won’t come so long as there’s a risk of major public protest. Not that he cares about offending public opinion in Britain, of course: it’s all about his ego, as ever.

    But part of me hopes he will come – because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it would lead to the most massive, most vocal, most impassioned public protests the UK has ever seen. He’d be protected from it all, of course – there’s already been talk of basing him at Balmoral and of helicoptering him around so as to be out of reach of demonstrators at all times. But protests can’t be hidden these days and the very fact he was having to be protected from them would make him look utterly pathetic. It wouldn’t do anything for the UK government’s standing either, so it could be a highly satisfying win-win.

  15. Laurie

    What?! He thinks that liberal = libertarian? What the hell!

    Right?! I think I’m going to have to step back and rethink the IQs of some of these guys–and I’m no Einstein–and maybe start at a much lower level of intercourse. The equivalent of taking the scenic route, I guess, to get to my destination.

  16. Vicki #8
    Dec 1, 2017 at 7:32 am

    . . . and if Trump is hoping to get sympathy and support from Tory Christians in the UK, it is worth noting that unlike the separation of church and state in the USA, the UK still has a few CofE Bishops (The Lords Spiritual) in the House of Lords!

    Several leading UK politicians have criticised the president for retweeting her {Fransen} posts, as has the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said it was “deeply disturbing” that Mr Trump had “chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists”.

    .. and their Archbishop is distinctly unsympathetic!

  17. Vicki

    So you’re no Einstein. Neither am I. So what?

    I know people with IQ’s higher and mightier than mine (I always know this in 5 minutes) who are also completely brainwashed religious ideologues or they are so highly educated in one field that they are completely ignorant of any other field and many of these people are afflicted with both conditions and the result of this situation is that along comes someone with say, a lower IQ who may have made it their business to understand the political spectrum (even just a Wiki page can boost us way ahead of the fray) and with a general basic competency in science and civics, etc., and then the latter can offer a statement of important correction to the former.

    (Longest sentence in history. Sorry, have to run out.)

    And the other thing in our favor Vicki, is the ability to self-correct. The extreme ideologues can’t seem to accept that they’re on the wrong track when it’s pointed out that they are promoting something negative or that they’ve made a statement that is inconsistent with their previously stated position, etc. Concession of an inconsistency or of a lack of knowledge on any issue is in my view, a strength and not something to be ashamed of. What’s wrong with saying, “I don’t know enough about that issue to take a stand at this time. Can you recommend some useful reading on that?” But no, the bullies can never admit a weakness. It’s a character flaw.

    From your friend Laurie. Mediocre IQ, mediocre education. Doing the best I can with what I got! 😀

  18. Marco #17
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:36 am

    He’d be protected from it all, of course –
    there’s already been talk of basing him at Balmoral
    and of helicoptering him around so as to be out of reach of demonstrators at all times.

    I think the Scots will remember Trump’s ludicrously incompetent, abusive, run-in with Scottish Nationalist First Minister, (“Mad”) Alex Salmond!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/12/climate-change-skeptic-to-head-epa-mcmorris-rodgers-as-interior-secretary/#li-comment-216230

    A series of colourfully-written letters sent by Donald Trump to then-Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has been published in full for the first time.

    But protests can’t be hidden these days and the very fact he was having to be protected from them would make him look utterly pathetic.

    They could hide Trump from the protesters, and could hide the protesters from Trump, but they couldn’t hide the protesters from the world’s media!

  19. There are 21,000 jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy economy in Scotland across 9 renewable energy sectors.
    The largest single sector was onshore wind, followed by solar PV, and heat pumps.
    (Source: The Size and Performance of the UK Low Carbon Economy)

    Renewable electricity generation in Scotland made up approximately 26% of total UK renewable generation in 2015

    Renewables are the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland—higher than both nuclear generation (33%) and fossil fuel generation (28%).

    So with Trump giving “Mad Alex”
    the “benefit of his expertise”
    on how wind-turbines “will ruin the Scottish economy”
    and how Trump’s “brilliant” tourist developments
    will “save Scotland”:-

    Donald Trump’s Scottish golf courses have reported losses of £19m.

    In annual accounts filed with Companies House, the Menie Estate development in Aberdeenshire lost £1.4m, while Turnberry in Ayrshire lost £17.6m.

    In addition to the Turnberry shutdown, the company also noted in its report that it took an £8m loss due to fluctuations in the value of the pound last year.

    The company reported that revenue at the two courses fell 21% to £9m in 2016 from £11.4m a year earlier.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/12/climate-change-skeptic-to-head-epa-mcmorris-rodgers-as-interior-secretary/#li-comment-226938

  20. Yes, Scotland has no reason whatsoever to fall for the “I’m a great business man” schtick.

    And as a nation, Scots also pride themselves on a strong sense of values which are totally opposed to everything that man stands for.

    Also – we’re not known for holding back once our ire has been roused!

    Bring it on!

  21. Marco #24
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:08 am

    And as a nation, Scots also pride themselves on a strong sense of values which are totally opposed to everything that man stands for.

    I live south of the Scottish border – but not a long way south of it!

    and BTW: My wife is Scottish!

  22. The is an eye-opening piece on Trump’s “information sources” (or lack of them), here:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42187596

    Trump, Twitter and his ‘filter bubble’

    Although his main Twitter account has nearly 44 million followers, President Donald Trump chooses to follow just 45 other Twitter users – all of whom agree with him, most of the time.

    Now that seeming reluctance to expose himself to alternative viewpoints is being put forward as a possible factor in the president’s decision to retweet three videos by a far-right UK group.

    Social media experts call it the “filter bubble” – the ability to choose only the news and views that we agree with.

    Earlier this year, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned against the negative effects of the filter bubble, which he said increasingly prevented people from “mixing and sharing and understanding other points of view”.

    “It’s turned out to be more of a problem than I, or many others, would have expected, ” he told the Quartz website.

    Sometimes the bubble is automatic, created for us by a combination of our browsing history data, plus the algorithms of Facebook and Google. The end result: posts, people and stories that conform to our individual world view.

    Sometimes we get to build our own bubble, by deliberately cutting ourselves off from dialogue with people who don’t agree with us.

    If Wednesday morning followed the president’s typical routine, he woke up, turned on the TV and opened Twitter on his phone.

    Shortly afterwards, the worldwide outrage started.

    Although the White House has refused to discuss the “process” by which the video was shared, most observers think it was the president who chose to retweet the video “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”

    The authenticity of that video has now been challenged.

    The anger deepened when it was confirmed the three videos had originally been shared by the deputy leader of an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group – Britain First.

    They had made their way onto the president’s feed – it’s thought – via one of the few people the president follows on Twitter: right-wing commentator Ann Coulter.

    On Thursday, she defended her retweet, telling the BBC: “A video is a video…you don’t need to fact-check it.”

    Ms Coulter is one of the 45 Twitter users that the president “follows” on his most effective communication tool – @realDonaldTrump has 43.7 million followers

    But compared with his predecessor, Mr Trump follows a tiny number of other users.

    Barack Obama – with 94.7 million Twitter followers – follows 626,000 other Twitter users.

    Mr Trump, on the other hand, is much more selective about who he follows.

    Trump also uses another Twitter handle, @POTUS (president of the United States) which follows 41 other accounts, mainly family and government departments. He tends to tweet less frequently from this account.

    You can recreate the president’s @realDonaldTrump feed here https://twitter.com/trumps_feed, courtesy of the Washington Post.

    It may be, however, that Mr Trump does expose himself to other viewpoints, according to social media marketer Alex McCann (@altrinchamhq): “We have to remember that he has hundreds of thousands of notifications every day of people replying to his tweets.”

    “Hopefully he does check these and get a bigger picture than presented by his curated feed of the 45 people he follows. He may have created a Twitter list as well that might give more variety, but we don’t know.” (No public lists are available on @realDonaldTrump.)

    “But if he is restricting himself to 45 people that’s going to create a very monotonous feed – an echo chamber of people that agree with you.”

    Amelia Tait (@ameliargh), tech and digital culture writer at the New Statesman, said that compared with a “normal” user, Mr Trump follows very few people on Twitter.

    “This isn’t necessarily surprising, as he has always used the site as more of a place to talk rather than listen.

    “It could have troubling implications about what he sees and interacts with, though. It’s been theorised he saw the Britain First tweets via Twitter’s “in case you missed it” tool. Had his feed been busier, he might have missed that too!” she said.

    On the @realDonaldTrump’s “following” list are seven family members, including wife Melania, his children, and two daughters in law.

    He follows four government departments, such as the Department of State, and eight Trump commercial organisations such as his main company, five golf courses and two Trump-branded hotels.

    Current and former employees include Vice-President Mike Pence, White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also feature.

    But by far the largest subset of people and organisations that Mr Trump follows is made up of conservative journalists and TV presenters.

    Ten of them work, or have worked, for the conservative news channel Fox News, like Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling – both of whom left Fox following allegations of sexual misconduct.

    Staunch Trump defender Sean Hannity is also on the president’s “follow” list.

    The show Fox and Friends – thought to be a major opinion former on the president – is on the list.

    Fox and Friends has been known to cover a story, only for the president to tweet on the same story a few minutes after the programme ends – and sometimes while it is still on air.

    With information sources like these, “Who needs to appoint government expert, scientific, diplomatic, administrative, legal, or financial, advisors”? 🙂

    How dare people in Scientific bodies, the IPCC, or like Theresa May, Alex Salmond, or other foreign leaders, challenge Trump’s parroting of them on Twitter? 🙂

  23. Alan, #26

    Having a White House that’s prepared to conceal or distort the truth isn’t exactly a first.

    But have we ever had one before now that simply hasn’t been even remotely interested in the truth? Trump isn’t remotely interested in other perspectives on reality because the only reality he’s interested in is his own. He doesn’t see it as any part of his mission to improve reality for others. He just couldn’t give a damn.

    He’s a greedy, hate-filled little man whose entire life is dedicated to amassing as much wealth as possible for himself while kicking as many others as possible as often as possible and as hard as possible. All the while thumping his chest, of course.

    The truth – about the contribution made by immigrants; about what really creates and maintains poverty, and the methods of reducing it; about how international relations actually work; about the causes of and contributors to terrorism; about how economies flourish; about the way whole societies flourish when policies are put in place to support the underprivileged and under-represented – would be highly inconvenient for him. And boring. He hates all that stuff. He couldn’t care less.

    He didn’t run for president so he could govern. He ran for president so he could ransack. And you don’t need information for that: just power.

  24. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42209758

    Donald Trump has responded to a guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying Mr Flynn’s actions as a member of his transition team “were lawful”.

    Mr Flynn has entered a plea deal and agreed to co-operate with an inquiry into alleged collusion with Russia.

    The deal, for a lesser charge than he might have faced, prompted speculation that he has incriminating evidence.

    The president wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he had “nothing to hide”.

    Under the terms of the plea deal – offered to Mr Flynn by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into the Russia scandal – Mr Flynn admitted making false statements to the FBI.

    Analysts say the deal suggests that the former general has evidence implicating one or more senior members of the Trump administration.

    Responding to Mr Flynn’s indictment, Mr Trump tweeted: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice-President and the FBI.
    He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

    The thing is, that these “so-called-judges” who have actually studied law, keep contradicting Trump’s “authoritative pronouncements” on what is lawful! . . . .
    and considering that “there is nothing to hide”, Trump and Co. have made extraordinary efforts to lie and cover-up these activities!

    In the tweet, he appeared to admit that he knew before he fired Mr Flynn that the former general had lied to the FBI, contradicting his own account of the sacking from the time and once again raising speculation that his actions could amount to obstruction of justice.

    Apparently Trump thinks that lying to the FBI about potential foreign espionage, or political manipulation of the US government, “is lawful” – but then Trump regards lying as a normal part of communication and reporting!

    Mr Flynn has admitted lying about his contact with the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016 – after Mr Trump was elected but before he became president.

    The charging documents against Mr Flynn state that he was directed to make contact with Russian officials by a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team.

    I suppose it could be argued, that Trump appointees are a law unto themselves, – and just make up laws as they go along – according to the hidden agenda of the day! I suspect that judges would disagree! 🙂

    Several US news organisations report the very senior official now under the spotlight is Jared Kushner – Mr Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

    What a clever Trump!!! 🙂 – He knows ALL the answers BEFORE the prosecutors have presented the EVIDENCE to the court! – and does not need to wait for the court to present and report a verdict!! 🙂

    After all! If it has not been reported on Faux News, or sycophant twitter, it does not exist! 🙂

    According to the FBI’s statement of offence signed by Mr Flynn, he discussed Russia’s response to US sanctions as well as a UN Security Council resolution on Israel, at the direction of the Trump team.

    Under the Logan Act it is illegal for a private US citizen, as Mr Flynn was during the transition period, to conduct foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.

    The charge of making false statements normally carries up to five years in prison, but under the terms of his plea deal Mr Flynn faces a lighter sentence of only up to six months, court filings show.

  25. Once again President Chump just can’t keep his stupid mouth shut or give his twitter finger a rest. He admitted in an interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of Russia and now he’s just admitted he knew Flynn lied to the FBI after denying it for months. For a man who keeps claiming his IQ is very high he sure as hell does a good impression of stupid as a rock.

  26. Marco #27

    He’s a greedy, hate-filled little man whose entire life is dedicated
    to amassing as much wealth as possible for himself while kicking as
    many others as possible as often as possible and as hard as possible.

    Yes. Trump is an unusual study. Truly wealthy people see money as a means, whereas Trump sees money as an end in and of itself. It provides everything he wants in life. So now that he’s in a position of power, I think he’s seeing a little beyond the immediate material comforts his wealth provides. But because he’s always been so shallow and one-dimensional, his next step will be money=power, unencumbered by any expanded thoughts of compassion or altruism. That isn’t leadership material, particularly of a nation as diverse as ours.

  27. Arkrid #29

    …and now he’s just admitted he knew Flynn lied to the FBI after
    denying it for months.

    “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain

  28. Not only has he admitted to knowing Flynn lied to the FBI, in so doing he has publicly admitted to obstruction of justice – an impeachable offence. There’s an excellent short Twitter thread here that explains why:

    https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/937022705378975744

    Which is doubtless why Trump’s attorney has put himself forward (or has been put forward) as the fall guy, claiming that it was he, and not the Trump, who wrote the incriminating tweet:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-lawyer-wrote-presidents-sloppy-tweet-flynns-dismissal/story?id=51541650

    Which is about as credible as … well, anything else coming out of this regime, frankly.

  29. Marco #32
    Dec 3, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Trump’s problem is that while HE will endorse any rubbish his sycophants care to spout, he is encountering expert critics, who don’t care about Trump’s “know nothing” chorus of cheerleaders, and are going to present their evidence before professionals who understand laws and legal requirements!

    https://twitter.com/SethAbramson

    @SethAbramson – Attorney. Professor @UofNH (journalism, law).

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    ATTENTION: If John Dowd has lied, is lying, or does lie about whether he authored a tweet in which Donald Trump admitted committing a crime, (a) he has himself committed a crime, and (b) he’d be disbarred from legal practice immediately.
    America needs an answer on this right now.

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    4/ Based on the information he has now—and I mean only the information that’s public; I’m not even counting the reams and reams of information he has that we don’t know about—Bob Mueller will hunt both Trump and Pence to the ends of the Earth to secure impeachment and conviction.

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    3/ Once you have Trump and Pence telling lies about their relationship with Russia on national television—which you do, as they both knew what Flynn was doing in December and then repeatedly lied about whether they knew—there’s no prosecutor in America who’s going to let them go.

  30. This is a must read for anyone interested in the cause of this foundation. This is utterly pernicious trash. The regressive left at its worst. (I had issues with the term regressive left in the past but here it applies.) I have no respect for Salon anymore. Check this out! They are equating the ever reasonable Harris and the marvelous and humane Dawkins and the “new atheism” with the alt-right!

    https://www.salon.com/2017/07/29/from-the-enlightenment-to-the-dark-ages-how-new-atheism-slid-into-the-alt-right/

  31. Laurie

    There is no apartment in the Boston area for less than $1500/month.

    1500! I’m moving.

    Q: how do you explain the fact that you came from a religious right wing Fox News loving family and have managed to emerge as an enlightened and progressive person?

    And why have so may others been unable to do that, but instead stay stuck? It would be great if you could trace your development and explain to yourself how that happened and then maybe take it a step further and try to get others to do what you did. No easy task.

  32. Dan
    Ha! Good question. Too bad I don’t know the answer. I think that coming of age in the late sixties and seventies had everything to do with it. I think I had some less than ideal attachment which morphed into outright rebellion. The culture served up the means to express it. Hippie culture and feminism seemed like a utopia in my teens. Reading had always and still is my great escape. No one seemed to be interested in what I was reading. Heh. Also the music, remember it? Pink Floyd, the Stones, Zeppelin and the drugs to go with them. All of this culture swirling around at the time was in stark contrast to the deadly dull middle class WASP culture that existed along side of it. Church every Sunday morning was an extremely annoying, boring waste of my time. The pastors were creepy and quite stupid, gluttons for teenage punishment, and they got plenty of that from the Sunday school pupils and especially from the youth group. We were a bunch of sarcastic, bored teenage shits who stood there in church watching our parents gazing at the cross and the pastor transfixed. I thought to myself; get me the hell out of this fucking place. I just want to get high and fuck. That’s how it happens, Dan. My story is not unusual. The feminists of that time were inspirational heroes. Jesus was a boring loser.

  33. It behooves me to demonstrate why that article is, in my opinion, “pernicious trash”. It is not honest. It is biased and distorted. This example should suffice as proof: The author attacks Harris for saying “We are at war with Islam.” (There is also a photo of Harris next to Milo Yiannopoulos. All I can suggest to those who are unfamiliar with both is to read Harris or listen to him speak. Plenty of YouTube videos. Then listen to Yiannopulous.)

    Here is what the author, a Mr. Phil Torres, says:

    Harris wrote in a 2004 Washington Times op-ed that “We are at war with Islam.” He added a modicum of nuance in subsequent sentences, but I know of no experts on Islamic terrorism who would ever suggest that uttering such a categorical statement in a public forum is judicious.

    “We are at war with Islam.” Like most literary gangsters this author takes that out of context and suggests bigotry, suggests some kind of base, nefarious motive on the part of Harris. Here is the quote in its entirety. It should be clear to any reasonable person that Sam Harris is not motivated by bigotry, but by his horror of the abuses perpetrated by fundamentalists.

    “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with “terrorism.” We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us. Every American should read the Koran and discover the relentlessness with which non-Muslims are vilified in its pages. The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a dangerous fantasy — and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge.”

  34. The big question in my mind now since Flynn pled guilty is how long will it take the Trump administration to make Pence the sacrificial goat for everything Russia related? Pence led the transition team, he surely knew everything that Flynn et al were doing and no doubt he’s the one who passed on Trump’s instructions to them all. The deal that Mueller just offered Flynn can only really be to get testimony on someone above Flynn in the chain of command and that’s only Trump or Pence. There’s not a cat in hell’s chance that Trump will accept blame for anything so Pence must be the one that gets pushed under the bus.

    Trump has two choices. Fire Mueller before he presses any charges and try to ride out the shitstorm that follows. Let Mueller run his investigation and press whatever charges he comes up with but have a scapegoat handy. I reckon we are going to see everyone start to distance themselves from Pence until the final night of the long knives where he gets stabbed in the back by all of them.

    However there’s no one to pass the blame onto for things that Trump has admitted to himself which are basically obstruction of justice charges. The firing of Comey and the recent tweet about Flynn. If Mueller charges Trump with those then I guess we get to see if a president can pardon himself or not.

  35. Hello,

    This post is in reply to a video I saw recently with Dr. Dawkins answering a question, which he said he gets a lot regarding evolution. If there is a way this question could get to Dr. Dawkins somehow, it would be incredible, as I would love to hear his input or feedback on this point, certainly I cannot think of an alternative as I will show:

    The question posed to Dr. Dawkins, was in regard to evolution and homosexuality, and if there is any evolutionary advantage to it. Clearly, I love the theory, when I first heard about it in college, it completely captivated me and I remember I got a series of the videos from the public library about it, and could not get enough of the logic, which I use to try to explain different physical or physiological phenomena.

    Dr. Dawkins reply to the question, was something along the lines of, uncles would have more time to tend to children, thereby increasing chance of survival and so forth.

    There is no doubt that more people tending for weak offspring will increase that offspring’s chances of survival.

    Evolution, however, at least as I understand it at a non-expert level would have to involve the passing on of genes, just for the theory to make any sense.

    My question/objection is, whichever behaviors may have been involved, and however beneficial they were, those genes would have not been passed on to the next generation. Because that is, essentially, the definition of homosexuality, the inability to pass on genes to the next generation. Of course, not nowadays with the available technologies, however, evolution clearly took place before any of that was possible.
    In other words, just using the very basic definitions of evolution and homosexuality one cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that the two terms are essentially opposite of each other.

    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be. I understand this is a very sensitive topic, and people may tend to tiptoes around it, as to not offend anyone. However, this is just a scientific inquiry using an elegant theory. The conclusion therefore, from a darwinian evolutionary standpoint, is that homosexuality is unnatural. It is not a reason to judge or have any negative views, however, there can’t be any basis for it, in evolutionary logic, simply because those genes would not have been passed on.

  36. Dan #36.

    I think Laurie ignores the most important reason for her escape, though as a fellow Hippy, that whole culture was an important aspect, I suspect also.

    Intelligence. The brighter, the freer… on average.

  37. sam,

    only a brief comment, as no time at present. Siblings are likely to share genes that predispose to homosexuality. Not all genes are uniformly expressed in the phenotype (the actual body and its behaviours). The axalotl and a salamander, for instance, share the same genes but due to local factors find different body expressions.

    Two effective, food gathering protective fathers say, reproductively favours the reproducing brother and the gene that caused them.

    A few other explanations are possible…

  38. sam h #40
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Because that is, essentially, the definition of homosexuality, the inability to pass on genes to the next generation.

    Hi Sam,

    As Phil points out, the survival of genes is not simply about genes in individual organisms, but the survival of COPIES of individual genes in the population.

    The contribution non-breeding individuals make to the survival of particular genes, is in support for identical COPIES of (some) of their own genes, (passed on from parents), in the families of brothers and sisters. – gathering food, defending the tribe, gifts from the rich uncle!

    A classic case is in the insect world of bees, where thousands of sterile workers bring up the offspring of their sister queen!

  39. Hi,

    Thank you for the reply. It is definitely interesting to think about these sorts of logic deductions based on evolution. I often times think of how the education system, at least what I went through, ignored some fundamental issues, that I am only getting into now, such as the notion that the self is an illusion, which I have been watching a lot on youtube by Sam Harris.

    I cannot find any single statement you said, that I disagree with, yet I think the logic I’ve proposed can still hold. Regarding Phil’s answer, I will admit I will have to look up some of the terms, I am not a biologist. However, I will address your reply, as I can follow your logic.

    Clearly, I wish I understood the science of genetics much better. It is completely fascinating, there are questions I have that I wish I could discuss at some point, at the very basic level, things such as how DNA encodes information to make proteins and so forth, I would love to gain a deeper understanding of that. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the process at its simplest form, from a very basic molecular standpoint.

    I will keep my rebuttal in simple terms. Just to reply to your points: Let’s say there are copies of genes that cause homosexuality in a population, so if I understand correctly, what you are proposing is that, a member of that population who carries that gene will pass it on to the next generation:

    So this will have to mean, that this individual, carries that gene however it is ‘inactive’. It would have to be, in order for him/her to be able to pass it on.

    However, if that same gene is inactive in him, why would the same exact gene be active in his/her sibling. Clearly, that is not possible. By definition, a ‘copy’ of a gene, would indicate that the gene is identical.

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    I just think that the question is very interesting, and as Dr. Dawkins said, he was asked it many times, because, it is an apparent contradiction or dilemma.

    As you well know, evolution was discovered in the 1800’s so it is a relatively young field, and what I have always loved about it, is that it’s a tool. In other words, you can use it to think about the world, just like the basis of this question/discussion.

    Back to the issue, I think at the heart of this problem, is as I mentioned the obvious contradiction just in the basic definition of the two terms, that’s what I think makes it interesting for people to question.

    The question again posed to Dr. Dawkins was, if there was an evolutionary advantage to homosexuality, and his reply was about the uncles caring for the offspring and so forth.

    I have no doubt that an offspring with 10 uncles will have a better chance of survival than one with only 1 uncle. That is clear. However, to say that something had an evolutionary advantage, would have to mean that it was passed on genetically, that’s the only connection to the past that exist in biological systems.

    That genetic component, however, would have died out at that generation, because the gene would restrict individuals from the ability of passing on their genomes. The idea of copies of genes, as I have mentioned earlier, would have to imply that the same gene can be dormant in one individual and active in another. And if we assume that is true, in the individual where the gene is dormant, who supposedly will pass it on to the next generation, would he/she pass on the genetic code that is making that gene dormant? Or would they pass code that makes it active? Of course, it is very hard to imagine such scenario.

    I think, in today’s world people perhaps find it politically incorrect to question the naturalness from an evolutionary standpoint, of an issue such as homosexuality. However, this argument does not carry with it any negative connotations, it is simply stating that the behavior in incapable of being explained through classical darwinian evolutionary principles, due in short to the genetic basis of the theory of evolution.

  40. sam h #44
    Dec 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    There are genes called HOX genes which switch on and off other genes.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hox_gene

    Not only is sequence of switching important in the brain development, which programmes an individual’s perception of their sexuality, but abnormal switching during embryonic development can lead to transgender and intersex physical conditions where the individuals have ambiguous genitalia.

    One of the problems for those whose thinking is human centric, and lacking an education in the wider features of biology, is a lack of awareness of the diversity of sexual conditions in the animal and plant kingdoms.

    Many species have individuals which are hermaphrodite – ie. have both sexes in the same individual. (eg. snails or many flowers)
    Several species of fish can change from male to female, or vice-versa, through the course of their lives, – and in the example of bees, which I gave earlier, the difference between a sterile female worker bee and a queen, is the hormonal effect of being fed “Royal Jelly” during development.

    Similarly, the mental or physical sexual development of human embryos, can be affected by hormones from the mother, or from an associated fraternal twin of the opposite sex!

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003269.htm

    Ambiguous genitalia is a birth defect where the outer genitals do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

    The “black and white thinking” of “male OR female” does not cover the diversity of sexual conditions recognised in either biology or medicine!

    We discussed some of these issues in this earlier discussion – with links illustrating the obvious stupidity of some bigoted claims made by the biologically ignorant!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/06/montana-initiative-would-limit-transgender-use-of-bathrooms/#li-comment-223017

    The biology is recognised in the laws of educated civilised countries like Germany.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/11/va-republican-trans-people-violate-the-laws-of-nature-at-a-fundamental-level/#li-comment-227786

    I hope you find this information informative and useful.

  41. Sam h
    Hi sam h,
    We’ve had some interesting discussion on this topic here on this website in the past. You might be well served by reading through them for information that doesn’t show up on this one.

    What I think you are asking here is if homosexuality is an evolutionary adaptation in and of itself and how an adaption such as homosexuality would serve to enhance the reproductive success of an individual. Do I have that right?

    In other words, just using the very basic definitions of evolution and homosexuality one cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that the two terms are essentially opposite of each other.

    This can’t be framed correctly. Evolution is a biological principle and homosexuality is a sexual orientation. They can’t be opposites. They’re apples and oranges.

    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be.

    This is much too simplistic. The situation is more complicated. Genes/environment interactions can be difficult to unweave.

    The conclusion therefore, from a darwinian evolutionary standpoint, is that homosexuality is unnatural.

    Unnatural? Then what is it? Supernatural? Artificial? If 10% of the population is homosexual, let’s say, then is it still “unnatural”? What about other sexual behaviors like say, rape? Is it unnatural ? Physical violence, unnatural? The thing about calling something unnatural is that statistically, if it reaches a level of occurrence that is higher than chance and persists over long periods of time then really, at some point we must concede that it is in fact, for our species, perfectly “natural”. This has nothing to do with whether or not you like it. Feelings are irrelevant in the assessment of what is natural and what is unnatural. Homosexuality is so common in our species that we have no choice but to say it’s “natural”. Also rape is so common in our species that we must say that it’s natural. Can we drop the natural vs unnatural line of thinking? It gets us nowhere. It’s not useful.

    there can’t be any basis for it, in evolutionary logic, simply because those genes would not have been passed on

    There is large amount of “junk” that gets passed along in our DNA that serves no known purpose and/or codes for structures that are obsolete. Still, it just sits there and goes along for the ride.

    Sam, another point that might be worth investigating is the situation regarding certain points of view on the topic of adaptation. Some of our best thinkers in the field of evolutionary theory are in disagreement over what is considered an adaptation at all. There is sometimes a problem of bias in this matter. There are certain requirements, different types of evidence that must be met before a trait is considered an adaption. It’s not as simple as you’ve made it out to be. A trait, in the absence of compliance with the evidence required to be considered an adaptation must be explained in another way. But Sam, is everything an adaptation? The answer is no. Some traits are evolutionary byproducts. Some traits are the result of genetic predisposition that only express in certain environments. We might consider homosexuality to be one of these traits. There is interesting material out there that points in the direction of this possibility. The environment of the uterus is considered in this material to have an effect on sexual orientation.

    Here is a Wiki page that gives a quick explanation of adaptations and byproducts:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptationism

    .

  42. LaurieB #46
    Dec 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Homosexuality is so common in our species that we have no choice but to say it’s “natural”.

    We need to remember that sexual reproduction based on two sexes, came quite a long way down the approximately 4 billion year+ evolutionary line, with asexual division and horizontal gene exchange pre-dating it for millions of years! Even then it had a long way to go to develop internal fertilisation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_sexual_reproduction#Origin_of_sexual_reproduction

    Many protists reproduce sexually, as do the multicellular plants, animals, and fungi. In the eukaryotic fossil record, sexual reproduction first appeared by 1.2 billion years ago in the Proterozoic Eon.[62] All sexually reproducing eukaryotic organisms derive from a single-celled common ancestor.[1][55][63][58] It is probable that evolving of sex was an integral part in evolution of the first eukaryotic cell.[64] There are a few species which have secondarily lost this feature, such as Bdelloidea and some parthenocarpic plants.

    Organisms need to replicate their genetic material in an efficient and reliable manner. The necessity to repair genetic damage is one of the leading theories explaining the origin of sexual reproduction. Diploid individuals can repair a damaged section of their DNA via homologous recombination, since there are two copies of the gene in the cell and one copy is presumed to be undamaged. A mutation in a haploid individual, on the other hand, is more likely to become resident, as the DNA repair machinery has no way of knowing what the original undamaged sequence was.[51] The most primitive form of sex may have been one organism with damaged DNA replicating an undamaged strand from a similar organism in order to repair itself.[65]

    If, as evidence indicates, sexual reproduction arose very early in eukaryotic evolution, the essential features of meiosis may have already been present in the prokaryotic ancestors of eukaryotes

    Also, with simpler sexually reproducing organisms being hermaphrodite, with both sexes within the same organism, perhaps the question should be:-
    “How reliable is the evolved mechanism for separating the sexes into single sex individuals and generating an attraction to the opposite sex?” , in place of a hermaphrodite breeding attraction of ALL individuals as in some hermaphrodite molluscs?

    In fact molluscs serve as a good illustration, as some are hermaphrodite, some have separate sexes, and some individuals change sex at some stage in their lives.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_system_of_gastropods

    Courtship is a part of the behaviour of mating gastropods.

    The majority of gastropods have internal fertilization, but there are some prosobranch species that have external fertilization.[5]
    Gastropods are capable of being either male or female, or hermaphrodites, and this makes their reproduction system unique amongst many other invertebrates.
    Hermaphroditic gastropods possess both the egg and sperm gametes which gives them the opportunity to self-fertilize

    In some of the main gastropod clades the great majority of species have separate sexes.

    Protandrous sequential hermaphrodites – Protandry means that the individuals first become male, and then later on become female.

    Within the main clade Heterobranchia, the informal group Opisthobranchia are simultaneous hermaphrodites (they have both sets of reproductive organs within one individual at the same time).

  43. Alan

    “How reliable is the evolved mechanism for separating the sexes into single sex individuals and generating an attraction to the opposite sex?

    Very interesting!

  44. I think other possibilities for sam to catch up on is the compounding of genes as clusters to create phenotypical features, and that variations are not the super crisp thing of much popular imagination of one gene to one trait. Given 17% of genes are pleiotropic (multifunction) in themselves, its not surprising that homosexuality comes in quite a variety of associated, expressed cognitive traits. These traits may be highly desirable in a gender without netting outright homosexuality, but contributed a double dose (from both parents rather than one) may net a positive homosexual identity.

    This kind of theory puts sexual identity in a similar category to other cognitive modes that we would do better not to think of as illness as we’ve learned with homosexuality. Autism, schizophrenia, psychopathy even. Undeniably an entirely and exclusively homosexual population would die out as would a society of scientists like Newton and Cavendish, or artists like Van Gogh and Breughel, and leaders like Churchill and Elizabeth I, but in a tolerant and mutual society, astonishing and transformative use is made of such cognitive outliers.

    What we see is a population graph from pure hetero to pure homosexual that looks a little like an asymmetric dog-bone, with the (much) bigger hump at the hetero end. There may be three broad populations here, if we hypothesise a metero sexual genetic cluster, that confers in men say an enhanced empathy in emotional reading others and a bunch of other skills and exists in 20% of breeding parents, 96% of adults in this illustration. The most populous, hetero-hump with a double negative dose (complete absence) of metero-sex-cluster is 76% of the total population. The homosexual hump (double positive, 20% of 20%) is 4% high, and spread in-between, totaling 20% in all is the metro-sexual disposition. In practice this “bisexual” disposition is more culturally driven in this theory mostly piling on to the hetero end bringing its self-reported numbers up to 90 to 94%. It could be that those few remaining, brave or foolhardy enough to defy convention and opt for bisexual lifestyles spread out between the two strongish poles of behaviour of double negative or positive behaviour with a 20/80 or 60/40, or any other balance of male to female relationship count would be purely an opportunistic function.

    I note among the young these days (in conversations reported or overheard) a wildly higher incidence of bisexual encounters than was evident in my Hippy hay-day. I think if homosexuality is a doubly expressed metro-sexuality we may expect to see a boom in bisexuality as cultural norms made more tolerant of the neurally diverse.

    If metrosexuality is a thing and in men is say an increase in empathy, via mirror neuron up take, then a hyper version of it for the double dose individual may make the sexual experience of those with the identical sexual equipment particularly and directly exciting.

  45. I know we’ve come a long way since Freud’s time. But I was fascinated and surprised when I came upon something Freud said (and I forgot where): sexual attraction between heterosexuals – and I assume that this applies to homosexuals too – cannot, according to him, be explained by “chemical” processes. He concluded that sexual attraction must be “psychological”.

    I’ll try to dig up the passage, but that would be like trying to find a needle in a heap of straw.

    Here’s something else:

    “In all our male homosexual cases the subjects had had a very intense erotic attachment to a female person, as a rule their mother. . . . This attachment was evoked or encouraged by too much tenderness on the part of the mother herself, and further reinforced by the small part played by the father during their childhood. Indeed, it almost seems as though the presence of a strong father would ensure that the son made the correct decision in his choice of object, namely someone of the opposite sex.” (Freud, 1932)

    Could it be that homosexuality is in some cases innate and in some cases not innate (but psychological)? Maybe there is a variety of causes; not just one.

  46. Dan #50
    Dec 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Freud said . . . . .. cannot, according to him, be explained by “chemical” processes. He concluded that sexual attraction must be “psychological”.

    I think this is simply a case of refuted speculative ignorance and personal incredulity, on his part. (“I can’t understand the complex chemistry, THEREFORE it does not exist, and it must be some vague undefined psychological process” – is not a credible argument!)

    All neurological and psychological processes are based on neurotransmitter chemistry, the endocrine system, and the brain circuitry powered by chemistry.

    http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html

    However, there is now evidence that neurons can contain and release more than one kind of neurotransmitter.

    The neurotransmitter molecules then diffuse across the synaptic cleft where they can bind with receptor sites on the postsynaptic ending to influence the electrical response in the postsynaptic neuron.

  47. Dan,

    That particular quote of Freud’s is (perhaps unwittingly) a wrong headed and dangerous assertion. Like the immensely damaging assertion from later Freudians that Autism is the fault of “Refrigerator Mothers”. The signature of a specific cluster of cognitive skews cannot begin to emerge from a hugely variable set of family circumstances. The specific assertion I know to be wrong in quite a number of instances. The observation is possibly the reversal of cause and effect and a mother protects a high empathy son from the displeasures of the typical Victorian dynastic-ambitioned father. (This lack of rigour in cause and effect is a major complaint of Freudians. They totally lacked alternative causes to moot, because they lacked the detailed complexity of brains and simply chose, too often, to substitute the correlates of effects in their stead. Autistic children are truly difficult to love, hence the observation of Refrigerator Mothers, unleashing the monster of Blame.)

    I think based on my intimate experience that there is entirely a hard-wired core to homosexual identity like there is to heterosexual. There is no choice for another identity. Bisexual though is the more interesting. Sexuality is undiminished, but, cultural disapproval aside, actual gender is less important in a partner than things like beauty/attractiveness, personality.

    Bisexuality is notably common in psychopaths, but may simply reflect what I believe to be the true proportions in society. This arises perhaps because they simply don’t care about societal approval. I suspect my lower visceral empathy leads to a degree of indifference to other’s approval or disapproval

  48. Phil

    Bisexuality is notably common in psychopaths,

    Now you’ve got me wondering how common that is. Any stats? Or, want to take a guess? (which I won’t hold you to of course.)

  49. Phil

    That assertion was based on his clinical experience. He discovered a pattern: identification with the mother combined with a weak or non-present father. I’m confused. Was he lying? Maybe in some case it is hard-wired and in others it isn’t.

    Here’s another interesting hypothesis based on observation concerning a certain category of homosexuals (not all):

    We have discovered, especially clearly in people whose libidinal development has suffered some disturbance […] that in their later choice of love-objects they have taken as a model not their mother but their own selves. They are plainly seeking themselves as a love-object, and are exhibiting a type of object-choice which must be termed ‘narcissistic’. In this observation we have the strongest of the reasons which have led us to adopt the hypothesis of narcissism.

    He also said this:

    It is one of the obvious social injustices that the standard of civilization should demand from everyone the same sexual life-conduct which can be followed without any difficulty by some people, thanks to their organization, but which imposes the heaviest psychical sacrifices on others. (Freud, 1959)

  50. Intolerance and bigotry have not moved on along with them, however.

    Moore, the candidate for Senator in Alabama, is clearly hostile towards gays and lesbians. And he has the “President’s” endorsement.

    He accused “Democrats pushing a liberal agenda” of trying to destroy his campaign.

    “When I say they, who are ‘they?'” he asked.

    “They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God. . .”

  51. They are plainly seeking themselves as a love-object.

    Again a possible inversion of cause and effect, from a group of gay folk no longer seen in Europe. Once you can easily find others to love this defensive personal preciousness tends to fade. Its interesting that transgender folk now occupy the defensive personal preciousness area. I expect that to fade soon enough.

    On the other,

    Was he lying?

    I explained already

    fathers were often absent and absented themselves from disappointing offspring. Mothers love most those who need it most. The correlates don’t indicate the direction of causation if any. Homosexuality indicates early, even if not consciously apprehended at this time.

  52. Dan #56
    Dec 5, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Intolerance and bigotry have not moved on along with them, however.

    Moore, the candidate for Senator in Alabama,
    is clearly hostile towards gays and lesbians.
    And he has the “President’s” endorsement.

    True, but then both Moore and the president are stuck in 1869!

    “They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God. . .”

    Or in brief – Liberals don’t share his bigoted arrogant ignorance!
    Well spotted Sherlock Moore! 🙂

  53. Laurie I had a good reference for sociopathy and bisexuality a few years back. I’ll try and find it.

    From personal experience over the years I’ve known several alpha male types in business with trophy wives, who, unbuttoned by drink, were very happy, in company, to talk about fucking men in some kind of power play.

    I don’t have a reliable number of sociopaths who might be described by the term gender fluid or bisexual, but I would be unsurprised by it being at least 10%.

    This confirms my expectation that bisexuality will be increasingly reported. But it is a mostly reviled state perhaps in yielding the least predictability of actual group behaviours.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/07/health/bisexuality-on-the-rise/index.html

  54. Dan #59
    Dec 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    America “the beautiful” in the hands of a monster.
    He’s destroying everything he can.

    . . . . and escalating problems world wide with his big mouth and diplomatic incompetence!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42232158

    Jerusalem: Turkey warns Trump against crossing ‘red line’

    Turkey’s president has warned it could sever ties with Israel if the US recognises Jerusalem as its capital.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such a move would cross a “red line” for Muslims.

    Donald Trump called Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday amid growing warnings against taking the step.

    Reports say the president will dramatically shift the US position on the status of Jerusalem this week. Its fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Israel has always regarded it as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    If Washington recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it would be the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.

  55. 61

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such a move would cross a “red line” for Muslims.

    Hold onto your hats. This is bad. Is there a single thing this complete moron has done that isn’t moving us toward domestic and international catastrophe? He’s on the wrong side of every single issue. I’ve been worried this whole time about Trump doing things that are impossible to reverse and correct. Once the national parks are loaded with oil wells it’ll be too late to fix it. When North Korea bombs South Korea and kills innocent people it’ll be too late to fix that. When the Middle East blows up just because Wonder Boy Kushner wants to be the beloved of Zionists everywhere, it’ll be too late to fix it! Kushner fancies himself to be the long lost messiah. We will all suffer for his disgusting delusions. We are in free fall here. Where are the anarchists when we need them the most??!!

  56. Phil

    I don’t have a reliable number of sociopaths who might be described by the term gender fluid or bisexual, but I would be unsurprised by it being at least 10%.

    Right. Nailing that number would be a methodological nightmare. Care to speculate on the male/female divide on that? Also extremely difficult to know. The appearance is that females have much more freedom for fluidity than males but I can’t get a true picture of it.

  57. Laurie. They are oiling up their firearms just in case the government is taken over by a corrupt president.
    Just in case……..

  58. The latest data shows females (not psychopaths) netting 17% bisexual experience of some sort versus 2% by men. (I suspect cultural shame greatly suppresses this latter.)

    I have no feel for the numbers of psychopath women. I’ve not really met any.

  59. @ Laurie 63

    Absolutely right.

    There have been a number of protests about the tax bill. At least that’s something. But it’s looking grim. Mailer once said that America is a volcanic nation. (Forgot exactly how he put it.) He meant that in a good sense. He was explaining – and this was during the cold war – that the former Soviet Union would never try to take us over; they know that we are a volcanic people. We could never be taken over. But right now I am having some doubts. You asked where the anarchists are. Where is that “volcanic” activity when we need it? I only see a little smoke. We are, as I said, under attack. It is almost as bad as being taken over by a foreign government.

    Hi, Vicki.

  60. Phil

    I have no feel for the numbers of psychopath women. I’ve not really met any.

    Heh. I have. A client of mine some years back. I envied her career that’s for sure. She is a force. I don’t know much about her sexual behavior except for the description her mother gave me – “promiscuous and cruel. Sneaky and calculating”. Please don’t ask me to inquire further about her preferences. I’m afraid of her. Like I said above – methodological nightmare. I agree about the 2%. Way, way under what I expect.

  61. Dan

    Your mom must be freaking out about the Palestinians. Despair. Give her a solidarity fist bump from me, will you please?

  62. LaurieB #63
    Dec 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Hold onto your hats.
    This is bad. Is there a single thing this complete moron has done
    that isn’t moving us toward domestic and international catastrophe?
    He’s on the wrong side of every single issue.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42245289

    Trump’s Jerusalem calls spark warnings from Arab leaders

    Arab leaders have warned US President Donald Trump that moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could have dangerous repercussions.

    Mr Trump phoned several regional leaders on Tuesday to tell them he intended to move it from Tel Aviv.

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told the US leader that any such move would provoke Muslims around the world.

    The calls came amid speculation that Mr Trump could recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

    He is scheduled to deliver remarks and White House
    spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said he was “pretty solid” in his thinking on the issue.

    “Pretty solid”?

    I think “THICK AS A BRICK”, is the terminology most informed people would use!

    The city’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

    If Washington recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it would be the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.

    King Salman told Mr Trump that the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

    Meanwhile, US government employees and their families have been barred from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for security reasons ahead of planned protests.

    In other reaction from leaders who spoke to Mr Trump:

    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "warned of
    the dangerous consequences such a decision
    would have to the peace process and to the peace,
    security and stability of the region and of the world"

    Jordan's King Abdullah said the decision would
    "undermine efforts to resume the peace process"
    and provoke Muslims.
    Jordan acts as custodian of the Islamic sites in Jerusalem

    Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged Mr Trump
    "not to complicate the situation in the region"

    Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    Reports suggest Mr Trump will sign a waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for six more months, while committing to a move.

    The White House only said the president discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem with all the Middle East leaders he spoke to on Tuesday, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Israel preparing for violence

    Earlier, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his country could sever ties with Israel if the US recognised Jerusalem as its capital.

    Ismail Haniya, the chief of the Islamist Hamas group that runs Gaza, said a shift of the embassy and recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would cross “every red line”.

    France, the European Union and the Arab League have also spoken out to express concern.

  63. Trump’s Jerusalem call is a nightmare.

    I wonder, however, if it may start to form the nucleus of a global move against the Dangerous Stupid?

    It puts so many people on the same side against him. Far from setting a Middle East position in stone it may hitch an untenable position to a President, who’s fall, when it comes, may be mighty, pulling over much behind him.

    His joining of the distasteful dots, highlights pretty reliably all that has to go.

  64. Phil

    I wonder, however, if it may start to form the nucleus of a global move against the Dangerous Stupid?

    If this latest declaration doesn’t start the global move then what will? The Dangerous Stupid tosses a match onto the powder keg and we all go up in smoke. What could be next? Reinstatement of slavery? Wouldn’t put it past him.

    The squabbles between Hezbollah, ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda and every other fundamentalist group may now be slipping down the priority list as the Dangerous Stupid rises to top position. You know how a threat from the outside has an amazing unification effect.

    “All that has to go” is becoming crystal clear day by day.

  65. Laurie, not the white one! Just in case we get another not-white one.
    Ya know, the “other”.
    Has anybody read ‘Tribe” by Sebastian Junger?

  66. sam h #44
    Dec 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    @ #45 – There are genes called HOX genes which switch on and off other genes.

    The HOX genes switch on and off whole sequences of reactions in developing embryos and foetuses at appropriate times and stages. (ie. start growing limbs – stop growing limbs) There are whole loads of unfortunate cases (Thalidomide) where medications taken by mothers during pregnancy, have caused deformities by interfering with these switching processes.

    The underlying mechanism, was only unknown to you – and not to science, so the question arises:
    “Can you accept the explanation, after the information and the links to scientific articles have been provided?”

    Should wish to look into the matter further, it may be better to continue the discussion on this other thread – in order to keep it separate from unrelated issues being discussed here.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/12/views-of-transgender-issues-divide-along-religious-lines/

  67. sam h #40
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:28 am
    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be.

    I think you might be making the assumption that there is a single gene that codes for homosexuality, that it does only that one thing, if you have the gene you are gay and if you don’t you aren’t and as that gene shouldn’t get passed on because gay people don’t reproduce then it ought to have died out.

    However things are nothing like so simple. It may well be that a gene that has an advantageous effect in a woman by perhaps making her more attractive to men and thus more likely to reproduce has a disadvantageous effect in men by making them homosexual but nonetheless still gets passed on down the generations because overall it is beneficial.

    It could also be that many genes are involved in homosexuality and only a certain rare combination causes it but the genes involved are needed for other things and so get passed on anyway by people who don’t have the rare combination of them.

    The fact is that genes that code for bad things don’t necessarily die out and they survive despite not conferring any evolutionary advantage. Homosexuality might well have no evolutionary advantage despite some theories like the caring uncle one being postulated but that doesn’t mean it can’t be genetically based and inherited.

  68. Arkrid Sandwich #78
    Dec 6, 2017 at 7:14 am

    I think you might be making the assumption that there is a single gene that codes for homosexuality, that it does only that one thing,

    While you are correct about complex combinations of genes determining expressed characteristics, even at the basic single gene level of understanding of genetics, there are expressed dominant genes, and repressed recessive genes – as explained by Gregor Mendel in the 1800s!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Mendel#A_specific_illustration:_Crossing_tall_and_short_plants

    If a gardener crossed one tall plant to itself or to another tall plant, collected the resultant seeds some three months later, planted them, and observed the height of the progeny, he would observe that all would be tall. Likewise, only short plants would result from a cross between true‑breeding short peas.

    However, when Mendel crossed tall plants to short plants, collected the seeds, and planted them, all the offspring were just as tall, on average, as their tall parents.
    This led Mendel to the conclusion that the tall characteristic was dominant, and the short recessive.

  69. Just a heads up for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of genetics and evolution I can recommend the Duke University “Coursera” courses which you can do for free. I took this one a couple of years ago although I confess I didn’t finish it due to time constraints but I knew a good bit of it anyway.

    https://www.coursera.org/learn/genetics-evolution

    This will give you a solid grounding in how genetic traits are passed on, including dominant and recessive genes, calculating the probability of a trait manifesting, how the fact that we inherit two copies of each chromosome, one from each parent, affects how we end up looking and behaving, genetic mutation, sexual selection, the chromosome 23 issue of XY or XX determining whether we are male or female and how purely X or purely Y genes are inherited, speciation. Much other stuff. It’s no walk in the park though, you’ll have to do some serious thinking.

  70. I’m going to add something to my post #78 which might help explain to Sam how genetic traits which confer no evolutionary advantage still get passed on. I’ll choose the issue of red green colour blindness which is of particular interest to me because I have it. We all inherit two copies of each of the 23 chromosomes we have, one from each parent, because both a sperm and an egg only have one copy of each and it takes two of each to make a complete DNA structure. In 22 of the 23 chromosomes the gene structures are the same but in the 23rd there is an X option and a Y option. Women have two X variants and men have one X and one Y. So your sex is determined by whether the sperm you came from had an X or a Y variant (women can obviously only pass on one of the two X variants they possess.

    RG colour blindness is caused by a defect in one of the genes in the X chromosome. If you are male that chromosome can only have come from your mother (the Y chromosome must have come from your father). If you are female then you get one X from your mother and the other X from your father.

    So here’s the dealio. The “good” version of the X gene is dominant so even if a woman inherits one bad X from either parent the good X will still give her normal vision. However a man only has one X chromosome so if he gets one with a bad RG gene from his mother he’ll be colour blind because there is no second good X to over ride it. For a woman to be RG colour blind she needs two bad X’s, one from each parent. That means by definition her father must have been colour blind too and her mother was either colour blind herself (two bad X’s) or at least a carrier (one bad X). So being colour blind is far less common in females than males.

    Being RG colour blind is clearly a bad thing. You can’t spot ripe fruit properly or see predators as well as someone with normal vision. However the gene doesn’t die out because it rarely affects women who keep passing it on down. It is perfectly possible that the homosexuality gene (or combination of genes), if that actually exists, also confers no evolutionary advantage but persists in the same way.

  71. Two senior White House staff admit that Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has derailed the peace process.

    http://us.cnn.com/2017/12/06/politics/jerusalem-peace-process-white-house/index.html

    President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could temporarily derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, two senior White House officials acknowledged after Trump’s speech.
    The question now for those officials: For how long?
    “We’re prepared for derailment — temporary, I hope. Pretty sure it will be temporary,” said a senior White House official, who acknowledged that the President’s peace team has not spoken with furious Palestinian officials since the Trump’s announcement.

    Of course president dumbass doesn’t care about the damage he does as long as he gets to be photographed signing things and pretending to be decisive. The problem with being a malignant narcissist though is that he needs to change something even if was fine to begin with so he can say he made it right. Leaving anything status quo means that someone else got something right and he couldn’t make it better. I have little doubt he’d just as happily have changed the capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv if that’s the position he’d inherited.

  72. Well a new strategy has just become clear from Trump Junior. From now on every Trump family member will have a lawyer present 24/7 so that they can try and claim every conversation is protected by attorney/client privilege.

  73. Endorsed by Trump. Supported by many Republicans. He will win. In addition to being a sex offender, Moore is an ignorant, sick bigot. Horrifying. The Republican party is exposing its true character, is becoming more and more what it truly is. The veil is being lifted.

    “Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” – Moore, 2002 concurring opinion

    “There is no such thing as evolution,” he told The Washington Post this month. “That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”

  74. Dan #84
    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    “There is no such thing as evolution,”
    he told The Washington Post this month.
    “That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”

    A god-delusion in denial????

    An ignoramus with a disabled neocortex, minimal learning abilities, and minimal capacity for abstract thought, with his god delusion crying out denying its evolved existence, from its nest within his primaeval reptilian and limbic brain areas! 🙂

    http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_05/d_05_cr/d_05_cr_her/d_05_cr_her.html

    The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

  75. From electoralvote.com and CNN today.

    Tax Bill May Allow Dark Money Political Donations to Become Tax Deductible

    After the Citizens United decision, millionaires and billionaires were free to spend as much money as they wanted to on political campaigns. If someone like Sheldon Adelson decided to spend $100 million helping Republican candidates, that was up to him. Now imagine if that donation were tax deductible. The new tax bill might just allow for that, including donations of “dark money,” which cannot be traced to the donor.

    The issue began with the repeal of the Johnson amendment, which forbids churches and other nonprofits from supporting or opposing candidates for office. But negotiators from the House and Senate are considering changing the language to allow political donations, even secret ones, to be tax deductible.

    Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, an estimated $800 million in dark money has been funneled through 501(c)4 groups, which can accept unlimited anonymous donations but which are not tax deductible. The bill may allow donations to flow through 501(c)3 groups now, and these donations are tax deductible. Previously, 501(c)3 groups were religious, educational, charitable, scientific, or other groups working for the public good, but were not political. If the proposed change goes through, it will completely change the nature of these nonprofits and inject politics into groups that previous stayed above the fray. Making political contributions tax deductible would be Citizens United on steroids and change American politics enormously, giving millionaires and billionaires even more clout than they already have. (V)

    While people’s attention is focused on crap like whether a man’s hand on your waist constitutes groping this is what is happening behind the scenes. Trump is going all out to make the swamp as deep as possible so that the only people with a voice in politics will be the mega rich. He’s already stacked his cabinet and top jobs with mega rich, the entire Republican party is funded by the mega rich and soon if they get their way those donations will become tax deductible so the donors can afford to pump even more money into the corrupt system.

    It’s an amazing con job that could only be done in a country where the electorate is so dumb they still keep voting for the party that’s actually trying to crush them. Take away their healthcare, they just carry right on voting for you, raise their taxes, remove their protections for clean air and water, they just carry right on voting for you. As long as you throw in the right trigger words every now and then like muslims, terrorists, black gang violence, keep them low information and nicely scared, oh and tell them it’s what Jesus would have wanted, yep, they keep right on voting for you.

  76. I wonder when the ceremonial handing over the White House keys to the Koch Brother’s will happen?

    A Kleptocracy founded on an Idiopolis.

  77. I wonder when the ceremonial handing over the White House keys to the
    Koch Brother’s will happen?

    I predict some ugly in-fighting between the Kochs and the Mercers, who will be helped by Bannon.

    The hundreds of millions of Americans will be collateral damage, of course.

  78. Yes, Arkrid. The democratic senators (like strident airhead Gillibrand and showboating Harris… Sorry I don’t like them) had no trouble going after Franken for basically nothing, in my view, and after he has helped women; and yet they have been strangely silent in the face of Trump’s abominations. Maybe a tweet here and there, and maybe a meaningless town hall photo op, but that’s it, as far as I can see.

    Protecting Minnesota Women From Violence: The bipartisan Violence Against Women Act enacted in 2013
    includes two provisions Sen. Franken authored to help protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
    The first would make it unlawful to evict a woman from federally supported housing just because she is a
    victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the second ensures that survivors
    of sexual assault are never forced to pay for their own rape kits.

    This is what Trump has done!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxH_vFofjEU

  79. Comment 90 w video about Trump’s decision about Jerusalem lost. If lost to spam please retrieve when / if you can. Thanks.

  80. Found and retrieved, Dan. But in the moderator system we see any spammed comments before we see any comments alerting them to us, so there’s no need (or point!) to post a comment about it if it happens again.

    The mods

  81. Okay, mods. I won’t do that again.

    Obama finally speaks out.

    The normally tight-lipped former president was describing the importance of protecting democracy at a question and answer session in Chicago. Crain’s Chicago Business reported Obama told the Economic Club: ‘We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly. ‘That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate.

    Hitler was elected into power in 1933 and then quickly began dismantling democratic institutions to ensure he could rule as a dictator until his death in 1945. Though Obama did not mention Trump by name it has been widely interpreted in American media as a dig at Trump’s autocratic style and America First agenda. Fox News and various other right wing news outlets criticised the comments as did Trump supporters on social media.

  82. Vicki

    I predict some ugly in-fighting between the Kochs and the Mercers, who will be helped by Bannon.

    Pence is a Koch kreature by all accounts. Big money is to be splashed out. Nearly $1bn is already earmarked for the next campaign, I understand. A lot of personal fortunes will be made in the struggle.

  83. Some evidence to back up my claim that Ms. Gillibrand is an “airhead.” There are far worse people than her, and I’d take her over almost any Republican. But I don’t like her. She goes after Franken because she can, and turns a blind eye to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. – And that is real oppression and suffering that we’re talking about.

    “My record makes it clear that I am one of the strongest and most consistent supporters of Israel in the Senate. Israel is one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. In my visits to Israel, I traveled to Sderot, a town where Israelis fear that rockets from Gaza could hit their homes – or worse, the local kindergarten, where they set up beds in a local bunker in case of rocket fire during nap time. I visited an Iron Dome battery, which the United States and Israel are building together to protect Israelis from these very rockets. Every year, I lead the effort to make sure joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs – Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow Programs – are fully funded in the federal budget, so that Israel’s government can better protect its citizens from threats near and far.”

  84. Anyone on Twitter might be interested to check out the #RaptureAnxiety hashtag that’s taken off there today.

    Interesting that many of those affected are directly making the connection between the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and an intensification of their Rapture anxiety. Actually, not even just the moving of the embassy, but Trump and his cohort more generally.

    That won’t come as news to many of us, I guess. But the posts there make the cruelty and danger of that bonkers theology crystal clear.

  85. Speaking of Twitter…

    https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/12/06/far-right-trolls-are-manipulating-twitter-silencing-journalists-and-trump-critics/218759

    Far-right trolls are manipulating Twitter into silencing journalists and Trump critics

    Twitter is getting played.

    In October, a notorious right-wing troll quietly launched an “operation” aimed at suspending progressive voices from Twitter. The plan was to use the platform’s mechanisms for reporting abuse in order to silence those he perceived as attempting to censor right-wing voices. With Twitter’s cooperation, and by taking out-of-context tweets that could have been made in sarcasm, the project has now become another successful entry in the playbook online trolls are using to silence progressives.

    Terrible times we’re living in.

  86. Marco #96
    Dec 9, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Interesting that many of those affected
    are directly making the connection
    between the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem
    and an intensification of their Rapture anxiety.

    This sort of faith-based popularism, does seem to come around in cyclical waves, with charismatic deluded air-heads as leaders – aided and abetted by theocratic charlatans!
    Of course uneducated faith-schooled Americans, are totally unaware of the recorded history of such matters!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/12/after-25-years-on-the-culture-wars-front-lines-this-prominent-pastor-activist-thinks-liberals-are-winning/#li-comment-228557

    The peasant population had been afflicted by drought, famine, and disease for many years before 1096, and some of them seem to have envisioned the crusade as an escape from these hardships.
    Spurring them on had been a number of meteorological occurrences beginning in 1095 that seemed to be a divine blessing for the movement: a meteor shower, aurorae, a lunar eclipse, and a comet, among other events.
    An outbreak of ergotism had also occurred just before the Council of Clermont. Millenarianism, the belief that the end of the world was imminent, popular in the early 11th century, experienced a resurgence in popularity.

  87. Fascinating stuff from electoralvote.com today.

    Donald Trump Needs a Brain Test

    Ok, you probably already knew that. But now someone with the appropriate credentials is saying it openly. He’s Ford Vox, M.D., an Atlanta neurologist who has written extensively about brain injury. He groups what is publicly known into three categories:

    Language and executive dysfunction: Vox observes that “the president’s speech patterns are increasingly repetitive, fragmented, devoid of content, and restricted in vocabulary.” Repeated, excessive use of words like “fantastic” and “terrific” might make for good rallies, but they are also signs of reduced fluency. Interview transcripts are particularly instructive in this regard, as they lack the non-verbal cues that elide over some of the President’s shaky communication skills. When you read those transcripts, such as this one from the Wall Street Journal, significant portions are barely comprehensible.

    Dysfunction of social cognition and behavior: Trump shows little concern for the thoughts and feelings of others (more below), which could be a product of personality and privilege, but could also be a sign of cognitive decline. His impulsivity and lack of inhibition is particularly concerning; often, when someone who can’t stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing, it is because they are really and truly unable to stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing. In many such individuals, the frontal lobe of the brain has deteriorated significantly. As Vox points out, “Such frontal impairment often does not stop at troublesome communication, but has physical manifestations such as childlike facial expressions and physical restlessness, both features we see in Trump.”

    Dysfunction in memory, attention and concentration: Trump could just be a liar (again, more below) that is very good at convincing himself of his own falsehoods. But his dishonesty could also be a sign that he struggles to keep things straight, and he can’t actually remember what is true and what is not. His recent return to Obama birther claims and his newly-discovered theory that the pu**ygate tape is a forgery are particularly instructive.

    Vox also spends much of his article grappling with the ethics of this kind of armchair diagnosis, and ultimately concludes that remaining silent is more problematic than saying something. He also makes clear that he is not saying that Trump does have a debilitating brain injury or disease, merely that it is more likely than not, and the possibility is certainly compelling enough that it’s time to look into the matter.

    Though Vox does not specifically point them out, there are really two distinct reasons that Trump should heed the doctor’s advice. The first is that if he really is impaired, he’s in a job that is too important to be done by someone not in full command of their faculties. The second is that even if he is not impaired, the perception that he might be will make it much more difficult for him to do his job. Foreign leaders and the American public both need to have confidence that the President is playing with a full deck. Trump has promised to undergo a full physical in January, as is customary for presidents. If that happens, then it will be an opportunity to conduct the necessary neurological tests and to answer these questions. And if no neurological tests are conducted, or if those results are not released, then there are going to be a lot of questions as to why. (Z)

    Donald Trump Is a Liar

    Ok, you probably already knew that, too. But Bella DePaulo is a social scientist who has studied lying extensively, producing several books on the subject, like The Hows and Whys of Lies and Behind the Door of Deceit: Understanding the Biggest Liars in Our Lives. She has written a very interesting op-ed for the Washington Post in which she declares that she’s never seen a liar anything like Donald Trump in her 20 years of studying the subject.

    DePaulo’s observation applies to both the quantity and the quality of Trump’s lies. The quantity is well known; in his first year in office Trump has averaged about six lies a day, though recently that number has been closer to nine. And those are just his public lies; only his staff knows what happens when the cameras are off and the phone with Twitter is in the pocket. DePaulo says this is more lying than she’s ever seen from anyone, in all the folks she’s studied.

    What is really, unusual, however, is the quality of the lies. Generally speaking, people tend to tell self-serving lies (“I wasn’t speeding, officer!”) about half the time, and they tend to tell kind lies, often called “little white lies,” about a quarter of the time (“That shirt looks very nice on you!”) That is a ratio of about 2 to 1. In Trump’s case, however, he tends to tell self-serving lies about two-thirds of the time, and he tells kind lies about 10% of the time. That’s a ratio of 6.5 to 1, which is the worst that DePaulo has ever seen. Even more unusual, however, is that most people are loath to tell cruel or mean lies (“Your wife is cheating on you!”); those tend to constitute only 1-2% of all lies for the average person. Not for Donald Trump, however, where fully 50% of his lies are meant to inflict harm on a person or group. Either he really does have a brain problem (see above), or else we now have statistical evidence that he’s an unusually nasty person, or both. (Z)

  88. Its an interesting hypothesis, Arkrid, but I don’t think its been tested anywhere near enough with counter hypotheses.

    He may have required pre-sight of questions in the earlier interviews and been allowed them because of his lower status.

    He may be struggling with intense coaching and being more a mouthpiece. Flow comes from intense internal rehearsal of more complex, owned ideas. (Hitchens rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.)

    For all the calm act (he knows how to act) he may be highly stressed, which itself inhibits flow.

    This is an accusation that mustn’t fall flat. And all the counter hypotheses need to be preemptively shut down.

  89. Arkrid Sandwich #99
    Dec 10, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    His impulsivity and lack of inhibition is particularly concerning;
    often, when someone who can’t stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing,
    it is because they are really and truly unable to stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing.
    In many such individuals, the frontal lobe of the brain has deteriorated significantly.
    As Vox points out, “Such frontal impairment often does not stop at troublesome communication,
    but has physical manifestations such as childlike facial expressions and physical restlessness, both features we see in Trump.”

    That is interesting in the context of the evolved lobes of human brains and their respective functions!

    http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_05/d_05_cr/d_05_cr_her/d_05_cr_her.html

    Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

    The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals.
    It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings.
    The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus.
    The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

    Frontal lobe impairments would likely result in a fall back on to the more primitive back-up systems, which in turn would chime with the thinking of those whose development of rational thinking has been impaired and inhibited by indoctrination in the “values” of irrational thinking and spoon-fed irrational beliefs!

  90. Arkrid, anyone

    The Fox people and others are really going after Mueller, calling him biased and unAmerican. Could his investigation really be derailed by such propaganda if it affects public opinion in a major way? If Mueller is fired that would be the beginning of the end. Trump will then be in effect above the law…

  91. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42319018

    The US ambassador to Britain says he expects Donald Trump to visit the UK in the new year despite his recent Twitter row with Theresa May.

    Mrs May had said Mr Trump was “wrong” to share videos posted by the far-right group Britain First, prompting an online backlash from the US president.

    She also said he was wrong about many other things including his endorsement of Jerusalem as THE Israeli capital!

    Woody Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the disagreement was “probably misinterpreted”.

    Mr Johnson said Mr Trump’s relationship with the UK was still “very very good”.

    Which shows that the ambassador is a stooge spokesman or a Trumpist delusional! Woody by name and woody by nature??

    Former NFL tycoon Mr Johnson – who has known Mr Trump for 35 years – said he was “familiar with these kinds of emotions people have” from his background in sport.

    Ah! An emotional Trump appointed wish-thinking ambassador!!
    Enough said! 🙂

    The relationship between much of America and the UK is very good!
    The relationship of Trump with the UK (and most of the educated civilised world) is abysmal!

    But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the visit would be “massively opposed in Britain” and a full state visit should be “absolutely off limits”.

    Sir Vince told the BBC Mr Trump had been “openly abusing and insulting our own prime minister.”

    Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, opposes the visit and said British people deserved a special relationship that works “both ways”.

    “By sharing and promoting videos by Britain First he’s undermined our democratic process and put at risk people in our communities,” she told Radio 4.

    “He didn’t listen to our own prime minister who said this is not acceptable.”

    Put simply, Most British people are not going to put up with Trump turning up in our country and spouting fascist extremist nonsense, anti-science fantasies, racist or bigoted hatred, muck-stirring divisive drivel, or false allegations about honest reporting!

    If he is allowed to do so, he can expect to be pilloried with derision in response!

  92. Q for Alan, Phil, anyone who is is knowledgeable in the area of neuroscience:

    Is it accurate to say that words are somehow “stored” in the brain? How is it possible that we know what a word means after we have learned it and then hear or read the word? For example, the word “stop”. How am I able to know what that means? Is the definition stored in the brain?

  93. Dan #104
    Dec 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Is it accurate to say that words are somehow “stored” in the brain?

    I’m no expert, but clearly words related to sounds, text, images, smells, sensations etc. are remembered, with varying degrees of accuracy.

    Words (especially nouns), are essentially labels.
    What particular understanding or baggage we attach to them, varies according to individuals and levels of maturity, development, experience, and education.

    In terms of memory or recall, what particular word will be recalled depends on the frequency, recency, and intensity of association with the learning process and the keying stimulus.

  94. Dan.

    Copies of some words exist in most heads. They are encoded in brain states which are physical objects, though we don’t know what the physical disposition might be nor the extent over neurons that may be required to encompass all that defines for a person that word. Much more information than exists in most dictionaries goes into the sum total of its personal definition, much semantic, much biographical. Further its encoding is not located by anything like a sequenced index, but like all such knowledge it is located via very many routes, links with words that auto index each other. Hebbing learning, cells that fire together wire together, works to note correlations and use those to help navigate future experience.

    Leaving grammar aside, the first words are found and defined ostensively. Apple… points. Mummy… points. Correlations work easily but so too meta-correlations. Categories are the natural byproduct of correlations between correlations. “Animal” correlates apparently to Cat/Mimi and Dog/Bertie.

    A lot of fragmentary correlations exist before a reliable, good enough word and definition are produced. My four year old son picked up my scalpel whilst I was distracted and cut his finger. Looking at the blood he observed, “Shark!” My novelist friend Clive started young, writing fantasies at the age of twelve. Nipping in to a stationary shop with him he declared he was going to buy “a realm of paper.” Sharp things draw blood, like sharks. Reams of paper for Clive were where Realms resided. We are inspired and poetic detectives of meaning.

    Alan is entirely correct to invoke Bayesian probabilities in the slow refinement of correlations.

    Not too many words are needed (a thousand or so) to be able to get to all the others, first by a simple thesaurus type grouping then further teasing these apart with further semantic nuancing, very often providing cultural context.

    Abstract concepts can exist because our metaphorical brains (wildly crosswired before 18 months) allow correlations between bodily states and how they feel, and abstractions. Up and forward are “good” etc., etc..

    Having an interest in etymology and shunning American spellings, designed to hide word origins behind phonetics, words can become self decoding. Knowing Latin and Greek can triple your English vocabulary, very speedily.

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