OPEN DISCUSSION – AUGUST 2018

Aug 1, 2018

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

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that all Terms of Use apply as usual.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

OPEN DISCUSSION – MAY 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JUNE 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JULY 2018

131 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION – AUGUST 2018

  • The August open discussion thread is now open.

    If you wish to continue any of the discussions from earlier Open Discussion threads, please do so here rather than there.

    Thank you.

    The mods

  • Some considerable time ago, in one of my early assessments of Trump’s mental condition. I opined that as a psychopath he has no normal emotions about other people but sees them only in terms of whether they are currently useful to him or not. Once that usefulness is over he has no more time for you. You go straight under the bus or as he said of war hero John McCain, he prefers soldiers who don’t get captured. Not that Trump would ever get captured being too cowardly to ever enlist. To Trump a captured soldier is simply a useless pawn off the board now and of no more concern. There is no recognition of past service there as there never was with all the thousands of contractors he stiffed during his career.

    However even the dumbest of the dumb might think it isn’t the best idea to trumpet your complete indifference for past service to people who are currently on trial with plenty of dirt on you like Manafort and Cohen. Not Spanky though. He’s too dumb to even fake having any concern or loyalty for others. The Koch brothers have spent billions on getting republicans elected, including Trump himself. But they don’t like his trade wars or his imaginary border wall so they’re tightening their purse strings. Now you might think those billions would have earned them a little gratitude for past performance but not to a psychopath. If they aren’t going to spend in the here and now they’re just more “under the bus” fodder and of no more use. So Trump unleashed a positive shit storm of twitter abuse at them.

    Jul 31, 2018 05:14:18 AM The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made….. ….them richer. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker – a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!

    I’m not sure how he both “made them richer” and also “beat them at every turn” but logic and consistency aren’t in Trump’s toolkit.

    So hopefully both Manafort and Cohen got the message. Nothing you ever did for Trump in the past will ever be counted for you because there is zero loyalty in Trump’s vocabulary other than from others towards himself. None ever goes back in the opposite direction.

  • I did not check the statistics of the two papers discussed in https://www.richarddawkins.net/2018/07/evolution-religion-and-why-its-not-just-about-lack-of-scientific-reasoning-ability/ – the used tests were not exactly lauded here: http://davidakenny.net/cm/fit.htm – but there is a large problem. The first paper claims that science reasoning ability is not significant in acceptance of evolution, but the second paper claims that knowledge of evolution is. That is good, we know from the anecdotal but large sample of converts on this site that confrontation works.

    But the second paper also claims, unsurprisingly, that understanding of own cult religious doctrine on evolution is significant. From there they go on to claim that education in both the facts and the conflicting, erroneous doctrine is helpful. (For instance, they erroneously claim a single human breeder pair bottleneck like the Catholic cult: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_views_on_evolution ; 2010ish it was found a bottleneck of > 10,000 humans before Out Of Africa happened.) I doubt that, rather the latter override the former. “Another interesting finding is that students seemed to retain knowledge of the LDS stance on evolution while forgetting specific knowledge of evolution. … we do find that knowledge of LDS doctrine remained while knowledge of evolution was lost.”

    The paper seem to think they showed that accommodationism is helpful in teaching science. I think they showed signs that it is harmful. It certainly helps evangelizing and cementing religious doctrine, again unsurprisingly.

  • Torbjörn Larsson #3
    Aug 1, 2018 at 10:29 am

    The paper seem to think they showed that accommodationism is helpful in teaching science. I think they showed signs that it is harmful. It certainly helps evangelizing and cementing religious doctrine, again unsurprisingly.

    While some initial accommodation MAY be helpful in weaning the deeply indoctrinated minority off their preconceived dogmas, clearly the teaching of evolution, as is, on the basis of the science, should be the educational objective, rather than wasting masses of time, trying to cope with the multitude of diverse obfuscating mythologies which have been concocted by the speculating ignorant, and passed on in the name of numerous “faiths” and gods!

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

    When taken in a world context, and on the basis that there are no default, gods or default creation myths, studying this long list of creation myths in science education, would simply be a confusing waste of time!

  • Torbjörn #4

    Don’t worry – you are able to post comments! It’s just that your first one contained a number of links, and the system automatically put it aside for moderator approval before posting it.

    If it happens again, please don’t worry: one of us will clear it as soon as we’re online.

    The mods

  • Hi Marco [#360 – July Thread],

    You posted that you had reached your article limit at The Economist dot com.

    Here is the TL/DR of that article (slightly compressed):

    The Prologue: Bashing America’s … media organisations [is] Donald Trump’s most consistent hobby [using] the term fake news … [but] the President’s broadsides have failed to dent faith in his targets. The Economist [and] [pollster] YouGov, [over 3 years, took a] representative sample of Americans to rate … American news organisations on a scale from “very trustworthy” to “very untrustworthy”.

    … | …

    The Result: From October 15th 2016, shortly before he was elected, to [July 2018], confidence in Mr Trump’s two most frequently targeted newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post, has actually grown. During the same period, trust in two media outlets that offer him reliably fawning coverage, Fox News and Breitbart, has withered.

    … | …

    The Payoff: This trend is not only a product of liberal readers flocking to publications criticised by the President they revile. Instead, trust in America’s mainstream print media has improved across the political spectrum … even among people who support the President, net trust of Mr Trump’s bêtes noires has increased [while in the] past two years, the New York Times’ monthly online readership has doubled to 130m. If anything is failing, it appears to be Mr Trump’s campaign to undermine trust in the press, not the Gray Lady.

    For those not in the know: the Gray Lady is a double entendre: a volunteer non-professional for the Red Cross providing services for the sick and convalescent – & – the press.

    For anyone in the US, even if you are only remotely interested in being ignored / side-lined / cheated by the Republicans: Your anger is pointless and powerless – unless you actually vote in the mid-terms. Put it in your diary, your calendar and your To-Do List now.

    Peace.

  • Just had reason to check Miriam Webster dictionary on-line and was fascinated to discover that the top 5 trending words (less than 100 days before the mid-term elections) are:

    Emolument
    Troll
    Exculpatory
    Ideologue
    Socialism

    I know, I know, I’m clutching at straws.

    Even so: Golly-gee Mary-Lou!!!

    Peace.

  • Torbjörn

    Perhaps a related phenomenon in education is that well evidenced theorem’s are notably less well retained than problematic hypotheses. This is quite consistent across all classes of knowledge.

    One hypothesis regarding this (its not proven so remember it) is that problems are retained to keep a look out for more evidence to be able to resolve them and so put them out of your head.

    Good educationalists know that complex knowledge retention is related to giving people ownership of problems that demand that knowledge. We don’t need to doubt the theory to retain it, we need to doubt something related to it.Our brain needs a reason to retain it.

  • Vicki #10
    Aug 3, 2018 at 5:38 pm
    We need to have a book-naming contest.

    @your link:
    I’m actively working on 2 new books.
    Outgrowing God is Atheism for Teenagers.
    Second one (illustrated) is Atheism for Children.
    It still needs a title.
    Maybe OMG I think I’m an Atheist.

    If it is similar to “The Magic of Reality”, –
    “Believing in Fairytale Gods through the ages”, sounds like a possible title. OR:- “Beliefs in Fairytale Gods around the world”!

  • LaurieB #11
    Aug 3, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    101 Way Better Things To Do On a Sunday Morning!

    Or Friday evening – or Saturday!

    I think this is too Christian orientated!

  • Or Friday evening – or Saturday!

    I think this is too Christian orientated!

    Ha! If you’re a Southern Baptist, Friday and Saturday is, too (along with Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; I think they take Tuesday off).

  • Well, my favourite program is back again after their summer break. My first job on Saturday mornings is always to get online on my torrent sites or youtube and download Real Time with Bill Maher. This episode I have to say though has just scared the crap out of me. If you thought you realised what the whole Trump, Putin, Koch brothers, deep state stuff was all about well chances are you didn’t and it’s much much worse than you thought it was.

  • In an unexpected split with the White House, Ivanka Trump, daughter and sexual partner of Donald Trump, launched an almost scathing attack on his immigrant children policy last week in an interview on C-Span. It had come to her attention, she elaborated, that these children were being kept in detention in conditions that didn’t give them access to even basic clothes making materials and equipment. Just as birds know instinctively how to build nests, children from poor countries are genetically evolved to sew and tailor and can suffer emotional harm when prevented from doing so, she explained.

    “If they could just get simple printed fabrics and sewing machines these children could work productive 12 hour days making knock-off fashionwear which would enable them to pay for legal representation, english lessons so they would know what was actually being said about them in court and even phone calls to their parents which ICE are currently charging them for.”

    She even offered to give freely of her time and previous expertise in exploiting sweat shops to set up distribution and advertising channels for them in exchange for a cut of 80% of the profits. “It’s the least I can do” she warbled “if it helps just one poor little immigrant child.”

  • @Phil

    OK, got it now…

    Good with God?

    Morality Undone.

    Too complex for a children’s book, even if true.

    Personally, I think it would be beneficial to have a question and answer section at the end, like a textbook.

    Arkrid #23

    I hate to have to admit this, but I really can’t tell if you’re being facetious. Sadly, so many over-the-top words and actions have come out of this administration that I spend more time fact checking than I think I should. I have become another victim of gaslighting.

  • Vicki

    I really can’t tell if you’re being facetious.

    Yes! That’s where I’m at too. I’ve been thinking the whole time that these Trump psychos must have a reason for sidelining these poor kids into holding camps. Usually Repubs won’t spend a cent to support poor children but now they’re fine with spending millions to herd them into holding pens…what’s going on here?! This is the state of affairs here now. Observe a strange action and then dig deeper to find the true selfish predatory reason for it’s existence. I just can’t doubt the plausibility of any scenario anymore!

    Arkrid

    Yes, thank goodness Maher is back. I hope he stays put straight through the November elections now. We need our satirists, critics and court jesters now more than ever. I’ll watch Maher’s new show today.

  • Vicki.

    D’oh. Dozy pillock. I really wasn’t thinking. I lost track of the audience.

    I so want to engage about morality.

    Christians think morality is our weak point. I know it to be our real strength. The Creation Myth is destroyed in the Magic of Reality. I want to see all the biology of empathy dealt with a la Frans de Waal, of gender discussed demurely to blow the stuff of “Natural Law” out of the water. Yep….courting controversy here….

    So just

    Good before God.

    Yep, this with its multiple meanings….

  • phil rimmer #26
    Aug 4, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Good before God.

    Or to be more explicit!

    [Human] “Good before God, or God before [Human] Good?”

  • Following Ivanka’s criticism of her lover, Melania Trump, wife of and definitely no longer sexual partner of Donald Trump also rebuked him after his twitter attack on Don Lemon and LeBron James. Through a spokeswoman she said she supported James’ charity work and would like to visit his school, preferably at night and when no one else but him was there. “Black is definitely the new orange!” tweeted Melania at her cheating husband.

  • Phil #26 Good before God.

    Yep, this with its multiple meanings….

    I mean it about a Q and A section: maybe after each chapter. I raised my kids without that added burden of religion, but one thing I regret is not educating them on the tenets of the various religions. It’s one thing to reject an ingrained social construct, but I think it’s important to be able to explain why one rejects it.

    Arkrid #28 …his twitter attack on Don Lemon and LeBron James.

    The orange twit is hitting a little too close to home on his latest racist distraction. I live about a mile from the school that the LeBron James Family Foundation helped spearhead, in conjunction with the public school system. I personally know two Trump supporters who are also James supporters–their heads are doing back flips, I’m sure.

    My favorite tweet-reply is, “LeBron is living in Trump’s head rent free.”

  • I don’t know if y’all know of the Facebook Trumplethinkskin page but it’s well worth a visit. Just recently they posted a Peanuts cartoon spoof with Linus talking to his sister Lucy. I obviously can’t post the drawings but the conversation, each exchange in a new pic, went like this.

    Lucy: America should get back to biblical Christian principles.

    Linus: So we should feed and shelter the poor?
    Lucy: No, I’m not paying for a lazy person.

    Linus: We should visit and comfort prisoners?
    Lucy: No, they don’t deserve that.

    Linus: We should pay our taxes without complaining?
    Lucy: No, it’s MY money and I want it.

    Linus: We should show love and mercy freely?
    Lucy: No, that has to be earned.

    Linus: We should avoid violence?
    Lucy: No, we have to take out the “bad guys”.

    Linus: We should be gracious to foreigners?
    Lucy: No, they shouldn’t be here.

    Linus: We should seek to end social injustice throughout the world?
    Lucy: No, that’s not our problem.

    Linus: Then what principles are you talking about?
    Lucy: Opposing gay marriage.

  • Vicki #24
    Aug 4, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Arkrid #23

    I hate to have to admit this, but I really can’t tell if you’re being facetious.

    I hate to have to admit this, but I’m far too feckless to be bothered Googling what “facetious” means.

  • I hate to have to admit this, but I’m far too feckless to be bothered
    Googling what “facetious” means.

    Lol…at least look up gaslighting. It would go far towards explaining what’s happening over here.

    BTW, I found the cartoon online–hilarious! I posted it on my FB page.

  • Vicki,

    Q and A based on something like this perhaps?

    In the UK kids often do the religious studies course and get to know religions and of course their differences.

    Here’s the typically excellent BBC resource for the GCSE exam

    https://www.bbc.com/education/examspecs/z3xvfcw

    Its only failing is it explores the more moral end of faiths.

    My daughter did fantastically well and could out argue her teachers (atheist and pious), revealing the moral incompetence of many religious positions. Her eventual atheism is based on a bedrock of understanding.

    My only concern over this is that children are encouraged they don’t have to make up there minds on anything yet. Wait until you feel confident you have all the facts…..

  • @Phil #35

    I see your point. [OT] The one question I stumbled upon in your link was pretty humorous:

    What are the different suffixes that boys and girls have after their
    first names? 1.Singh for boys and Kaur for girls 2.Lion-heart and Princess
    3.Fred and Ginger

    Olgun

    That is definitely a title that would connect with the up-and-coming, smart phone generation!

  • Olgun

    Yes and let’s capitalize on the teenagers’ natural shift away from parental influence over to the influence of the peers.

    Title: Just Doubt Everything!

    Subtitle: (They’re Just Making Shit Up)

    Obviously I’m not too proud to take the low road if it gets me the best results. ;-(

  • Vicki

    It’s getting harder to think like a teenager.

    Laurie

    Too much scope for those crafty teens 😁

  • For those of you who still think fascism couldn’t possibly rise in the USA as it did in Nazi Germany, maybe time to think again.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/armed-trump-supporters-march-on-portland-beating-up-opponents-and-calling-for-hillary-clintons-arrest?ref=home

    PORTLAND, Oregon—Hundreds of armed supporters of President Donald Trump, led by a fringe Republican congressional candidate, marched on Saturday, leaving blood from scattered street fights in their wake.

    Ostensibly a campaign event for long-shot U.S. Senate hopeful Joey Gibson, members of his group Patriot Prayer urged the president to lock up his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, and promised violent retribution for anyone who threatened their right to “free speech” or armed self-defense. Groups of Trump supporters swarmed through the streets, singling out people of color to fight, some of whom appeared to belong to small vigilante squads of local anti-fascists, as well as others who appeared to be mere passersby. Police announced four arrests, but gave no estimate of injuries.

    Police it is reported largely ignored the armed and violent Trump supporters and instead launched flash-bang grenades and repeatedly charged at the antifascists and black locals being attacked by them.

  • It should be apparent to anyone who has ever come into contact with Donald Trump that knowing him is a dangerous business. Either you get told to lie for him like his press secretaries, or you end up spending a fortune on lawyers if you become a witness to his various corruptions and intrigues or he screws you over like he just did to his son. One has to imagine that even Trump wouldn’t deliberately screw his own son so we must conclude he’s too stupid to realise the gravity of what he tweeted. Trump admitted by tweet that Don Jr met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to get info on Hillary.

    Aug 5, 2018 07:35:43 AM Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!

    Totally NOT legal as any real lawyer i.e. anyone other than Rudi Giuliani would have told him. Foreigners are not allowed to contribute to an American election campaign, even just with information. So Donny just gave up his own son for a federal crime.

    Trump seems unable to grasp a number of things. Getting election info from an American is legal but not from a Russian. Secondly, just because no valuable information was forthcoming doesn’t stop it being a crime. If you go into a bank to rob it but can’t find any cash it’s still an attempted bank robbery. The crime is in the motive, not necessarily the outcome.

    Arrogance mixed with stupidity is a dangerous combination. Trump is too arrogant and narcissistic to think he can ever be wrong and too stupid to often be right. Mueller hardly has to work at this. Trump shoots himself in his bone spurry feet all by himself on a regular basis. Trump has had thousands of law suits but mainly civil ones he could just pay his way out of. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the trouble he and those around him are really in. He’s so used to creating his own fake reality I’m not sure he can even process real reality anymore. He’s too deep in denial that “anything like this could ever be happening to me” to face up to any of it. So he just twists and squirms and lies and lies and lies.

    Mueller has a huge club to hit Trump over the head with now though. Several people have confirmed that Trump knew very well about the meeting and Dopey Rudi just told us there was even a meeting with Spanky to plan for the main meeting two days before it. Even so Trump might just wriggle out of all that but Don Jr’s goose would seem to be cooked. All Mueller, or whoever he hands this off to, has to do is wait until Trump is out of office and therefore no longer able to pardon people and then file charges against Jr. Maybe he’ll suggest those charges could go away if Trump resigns his presidency.

  • Hi, I was wandering about how the big bang happened and I’ve looked up on some documentaries and some scientists saying on this but I think we have a rather vague understanding about it. I have a hypothesis on this and I wanted to know what others might think about it.

    The way I see it is that before the big bang happened there was only the space(created due to the fact(presumption) that nothing can NOT exist and it’s forced to create something that nullifies that ‘nothingness’. If you think about it space is the only thing that can efficiently take over everything. That would makes sense if you ask why is space the something that was forced into existence to nullify the ‘nothingness’.I suspect that the universe is not expanding, rather it just ‘is’. So now what remains to question is how did the big bang happened in that space. I think space builds up energy over time (that is the only thing that makes sense to me right now but we would need to study the space further if that’s the case). Think about it, if space builds up energy over time that would make sense of why the big bang happened. Also the space would have had to build up that energy in a very long time. The only thing I can’t figure out is what would that energy be and how it came to gather into a single point.

  • Catalin #44
    Aug 9, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    I was wandering about how the big bang happened and I’ve looked up on some documentaries and some scientists saying on this but I think we have a rather vague understanding about it.

    Our space-time was formed in the process of the Big-Bang, which would appear to be a transformation of some form of energy into our universe.

    There is a fairly clear view, apart from the first fractions of a second of the Big-Bang.

    Wikipedia gives a timeline and quite a lot of detail!

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

    It comes down to states of energy at different densities, and related strengths of gravity.

    nothing can NOT exist and it’s forced to create something that nullifies that ‘nothingness’.

    It is true that nowhere in our universe does “nothingness exist. (There is radiation and gravity everywhere in the space-time continuum) –
    But before the universe formed, we just don’t know what if anything was there.

  • I’m a 16 years old Lebanese. My mum is muslim and my dad christian. Where I live it’s extremely rare to find an atheist. Even most intelligent people and people who believe in evolution and in science don’t question the existence of god. I’m a very curious person and I think a lot, but for some reason, even though I had all the arguments to prove that the existence of god is highly unlikely, I just couldn’t stop believing in him. When I turned 13, I read for the first time the name Richard Dawkins on Youtube. After watching a video, I felt so much relief. Everything he said, all his argument made me feel that I’m not the only one that thinks this way. Everyone around me is ignorent and it’s so frustrating to talk to people who believe in god so blindly. I haven’t met 1 person in my life who questioned for a second the existence of god. How am I suppose to stop hiding my atheism if everyone around me is gonna see me as a “bad person” ?

  • Samer #47
    Aug 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Welcome to this RDFS site.

    Everyone around me is ignorant and it’s so frustrating to talk to people who believe in god so blindly. I haven’t met 1 person in my life who questioned for a second the existence of god.

    That is the problem in countries where theocracy dominates the majority of the population and the government.

    The are plenty of non-religious people around.
    It’s just that they are found in the better educated countries where attempts at religious domination are restricted as they should be.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/21/christianity-non-christian-europe-young-people-survey-religion

    Figures show a majority of young adults in 12 countries have no faith, with Czechs least religious

  • I see the Trump campaign has come up with a new money making gimmick!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-45123606

    Donald Trump’s goal of creating a new military branch has yet to take off, but his campaign is hoping it will fill their coffers to infinity and beyond.

    Trump 2020 re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale emailed supporters on Tuesday asking them to vote on a Space Force logo which will be sold later on.

    However, I think the selection of logos offered is rubbish, so I would suggest this one which is much more appropriate for a Trump space venture!

    https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/520728775644761181/

  • Samer

    Try to be patient. I know it’s difficult because I grew up in a strict religious family like yours. Maybe you will never find understanding in your family or school or friends for your lack of religious beliefs but if you can just wait until you go to University then you will find others who are frustrated by the consequences of religious extremism in your country and in your region. Until then, this website and others like it is your intellectual home.

    I met another atheist for the first time when I was in my late forties. Now I have a few atheist friends. I thought I was the only one.

    The people around you have been brainwashed since they were children. It’s very difficult to resist this strong force. The really interesting question is; how did you manage to resist this brainwashing? It’s you who is the special one! Everyone else is just going along with the same old boring program! Try not to waste time in anger against them. Instead, read everyday and make friends online. Please be careful not to aggravate people in your country over these religious disagreements. There is a terrible price to pay for those who declare they are atheists. Be careful.

  • A quick heads up about a great interview on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah last night with two kids from the Parkland School shooting. Pretty amazing listening to teenagers talking so maturely and with such passion about their aims of trying to keep people safe by educating the country about gun control when the supposed grownups in Congress behave like children and get nothing done. I am quite sure that if Congress was run by 18 year olds like these the country would be in a much better state than it actually is with the current lunatics who’ve taken over the asylum.

  • Samer #47
    Aug 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    I’m a 16 years old Lebanese. My mum is muslim and my dad christian.

    This not only shows that you come from a tolerant family, but that you live in one of the more tolerant states where Islam is prevalent.

    In the more aggressive Islamic theocracies, your father would have been forced to convert to Islam before marrying your mother!

    As global communications and modern science education challenge the errors of the ancient mythologies, the younger generation is learning science and history from reputable academic sources, rather than blindly accepting what they are told by preachers and imams, who repeat confused stories from the past.

  • `@Alan #45

    Wikipedia gives a timeline and quite a lot of detail!

    For my layman’s mind, the most fascinating parts of the Big Bang are the Planck epoch and the idea that we could have gone either way with matter or anti-matter.

  • Hello everyone, greetings from Malaysia. Big fan of Richard Dawkins.

    Our country recently saw a ‘revolution’ of sorts, with the mostly liberal-religious/secular opposition coalition having won its first general elections to form a new government, of which most would agree is far better (in every sense of the word) than the previous.

    The Malaysian government, since the 80’s and even now (more or less), propagates the idea that we are an Islamic country/state/nation (?) that ‘allows’ its citizens the freedom to practice other faiths so long as they do not ‘interfere’ with Islam. This idea, which has for decades permeated public/private discourse, was also supported by state resources in the form of compulsory education/training courses/legal requirements etc. This together with the fact that 60-70% of the population are ethnic malays who are, by law, also ‘compulsory’ muslims, means that a majority of the electorate (and population) that put the new government in power – are made up of religious people (including the more-or-less 100% of christians/catholics/buddhists/hindus from various ethnicities). In my opinion, the religious moderates probably make up the largest segment, followed by religious fundamentalists, and then secularists. The rest of the population who voted for the status quo are mostly from the ethnic malay population, made up of seemingly equal numbers of religious moderates and fundamentalists, including some extremists.

    To say that the LGBT community over here are persecuted, is an understatement. Together with atheists, they are seen as the Black Death, the Great Evil that God warned all about (all the gods seem to agree on this).

    Next, my question to you all here…

  • Since the opposition coalition formed the new government, there has been renewed hope that genuine reforms in every institution that has been corrupted by the previous government, might finally take place. Among these, are the very influential and well entrenched religious institutions, which is actually happening as I type.

    Question:
    If you were the “Minister of Religious Affairs” (i think that’s what he’s called) of this new government popularly elected with its reform agenda, what do you do when roughly half of your voters and roughly half of your colleagues in your party and government, and most of the rest of the public, oppose you for daring to even entertain the idea of LGBT rights (forget about atheists)?

  • Adrian #55
    Aug 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    what do you do when roughly half of your voters and roughly half of your colleagues in your party and government, and most of the rest of the public, oppose you for daring to even entertain the idea of LGBT rights ?

    The obvious first move to combat ignorance, is to instigate a medical education program on the biological development of gender and sexual orientation.

    [MedlinePlus Encyclopedia Fetal development;](MedlinePlus Encyclopedia Fetal development;)

    https://medlineplus.gov/gaylesbianbisexualandtransgenderhealth.html

  • Alan4discussion #56
    Aug 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Suppose that that had been attempted in the past, and failed, and most or half of society, religious pressure groups (some with violent tendencies), and many politicians and national institutions remain adamant on what (and who) is moral and what isnt, in the way that only fundamentalists and confused moderates can. Also, as part of a new government, you feel compelled to make reforms as promised (many concerning rights of minority groups like atheists and LGBT), but the risk of losing votes in the next elections from the sizable population of religious fundamentalists, many of whom just voted for you, is practically forcing you and your new government to include fundamentalist interests in your policies. In this environment, we see on one hand, the idealists who want Reform and on the other, the pragmatists who want to keep votes and stay in government, in order to reform. We can see this divide within the government and also among the public on a daily basis now… Do you take a side? Whose side do you take?

  • Adrian #57
    Aug 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    I see on my previous comment @#56 one of the links has not pasted correctly, making the comment much less clear.

    This should be the first link @#56.

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001669.htm

    Intersex is a group of conditions where there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes and ovaries).

    The older term for this condition is hermaphroditism. Although the older terms are still included in this article for reference, they have been replaced by most experts, patients and families. Increasingly, this group of conditions is being called disorders of sex development (DSDs).

    It explains the development of intersex conditions in embryos, leading to inter-sex / trans-sexual conditions.

    These are physical and observable (although usually kept private).

    Understanding of these at medical schools and subsequently in school biology classes, will lead to a better educated population.

    Having established the existence of physical conditions, the more abstract psychological conditions can be studied.

    Suppose that that had been attempted in the past, and failed, and most or half of society, religious pressure groups (some with violent tendencies), and many politicians and national institutions remain adamant on what (and who) is moral and what isnt, in the way that only fundamentalists and confused moderates can.

    There will always be the know-it-all confident ignorant! It is a feature of human psychology known as “the Dunning-Kruger Effect” where the profoundly ignorant are so ignorant they are ignorant of their own ignorance and ignorant of the existence of the knowledge they lack!

    It is only through education of specialists spreading knowledge into the wider population, that the wider awareness of the information is established.

    There is also the more general understanding of the natural range of sexuality in the biology of various animals, where it is probably better to make a start away from the human examples.

    For example many fish can change from female to male during their lifetimes, and other animals like snails, have both male and female sex organs in the same individual animal, and both sex partners lay eggs after mating.
    The notion that there are exclusively “fixed” separate male and female individual bodies in nature, is simply wrong!

    It is the “know-it-all delusion” derived from religious dogma, combined with a profound ignorance of biology, which leads to the bigoted views about those individuals whose biology deviates from preconceived notions of “normal” sexuality!

  • Following from my previous comment:-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

    The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

    Only with a dawning awareness of the existence of the knowledge, will gradual learning begin to take place!

  • That suggests a focus on keeping votes for the long term to enable perhaps, the making of discreet and incremental/gradual reforms so as not to shock too many religious interests. Any campaign/program to introduce education material/resources can only have a hope of success with the full backing of both the entire government (or the whole cabinet at least) and the head of state, which seems quite impossible here. Many religious moderates/liberals and secularists from the Reform circles might argue that aiming for gradual learning and awareness, over here at least, runs the risk of important aspects of the reform agenda becoming gradually co-opted by the far louder, more powerful and well-connected religious institutions/NGOs, to maintain the status quo.

    Even seemingly harmless little campaigns (perhaps poorly thought out/planned) can raise a religious backlash the likes you’ve never seen before, such as one that organized an awareness raising/family themed day-long picnic where people could bring their dogs along and curious/interested/dog-owning muslims might get a chance to be introduced and be close to these animals in a fun and safe way with friends and families of various ethnicities and faiths. Attendants unanimously agreed that the event was an amazing success, then over the next 2 or 3 weeks, the organiser, who was a muslim individual, and attendants who were identified by pictures taken and posted online, were ‘crucified’ by pretty much the whole country in a very open, public and unsettling manner (e.g. death threats every other day), completely into submission, and all talk of dogs practically ended.

    And so we wonder if it is better, now that public sentiment is still strongly with the new govt, to take that risk of losing important religious votes and upsetting powerful people, and just forge ahead push for more substantial reforms?

    Important
    I hope what i say here is somehow saved or archived securely so that there is a full record, in case someone tries to spin my comments/questions to accuse me of treason/sedition.

  • Adrian #60
    Aug 11, 2018 at 8:13 am

    hope what i say here is somehow saved or archived securely so that there is a full record, in case someone tries to spin my comments/questions to accuse me of treason/sedition.

    The archives on this site contain comments going back several years.

    From time to time I put links on my comments referring back to the earlier discussions – As with the link in my recent comment on this discussion:-

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2018/08/jewish-child-muslim-child-christian-child/#li-comment-233234

  • Adrian #60
    Aug 11, 2018 at 8:13 am

    That suggests a focus on keeping votes for the long term to enable perhaps, the making of discreet and incremental/gradual reforms so as not to shock too many religious interests.

    That is the way it has worked in Europe – where it did take an extended period of time to progress this far, and where backward religious views are still holding back progress in some countries.

  • If there’s one thing that President Unhinged likes even more than dictators like Turkey’s President Erdogan it’s trade surpluses. He thinks deficits are bad and “losing” and surpluses are good and “winning” and to Trump all that matters is winning. In his bizzaro zero-sum game world that plays out in his head he can only win if someone else loses or perhaps more aptly if he can make someone else lose then he wins. So when Turkey’s exchange rate collapsed even further last week Trump leapt into action on twitter with commiserations for his “friend” Erdogan. Oh no, sorry, my bad, he leapt into action on Twitter by imposing higher tariffs on Turkey’s steel and aluminium exports because it was so unfair to the USA that these were getting cheaper now as the Lira collapsed and Americans might actually buy more of them.

    Aug 10, 2018 07:47:42 AM I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!

    This promptly caused an even bigger fall in the Lira which is now suspended on currency markets at about 1 Lira = £0.12 GBP. Ten years ago it was £0.46 GBP. So get booking your holidays to Turkey which now has a cost of living less than 1/3 of the USA or UK.

  • One begins to wonder what Donald Doolittle actually has to do to really lose support amongst his deplorables. Shoot someone on 5th Avenue? Everything he touches turns to shit but his approval rating has been clawing back up since it tanked at 37% approval and 57% disapproval in December, 20 points under water. Now it’s back to 42 approval, 52% disapproval. Still 10 points under but far higher than he deserves. Hopefully his trade wars will start tanking the economy soon and then people will really find out what they bought in 2016.

  • A pretty explosive interview with the ex Apprentice contestant and WH employee Omarosa Manigault Newman today on NBC which I just watched online. The WH has always claimed she resigned and had to be removed from the WH by security after she tried to “storm” the residence. She’s always said she was fired by Kelly. Turns out she was recording him when she was fired and they played the tape. When she tries to ask Kelly if Trump knows about what he’s doing firing her he refuses to get into it other than to say clearly “all the staff in the White House work for me not Trump”. That’s going to go down great with narcissist Cadet Bone Spurs so Kelly better start packing his bags. Not that he does much these days other than work out in the gym and try and avoid Trump as much as possible so he might even be glad.

    Omarosa also made available the written confidentiality agreement they tried to get her to sign after firing her offering her $15,000 a month to just go away and shut up and not talk about Trump. She says numerous other ex WH employees are on the same deal and it looks very believable now.

    Finally she says she’s now heard the recording at The Apprentice of Trump calling contestants niggers. I wonder how long it will take that to surface too. Expect a twitter storm from Spanky later today.

  • Alan4discussion #62
    Aug 11, 2018 at 8:52 am

    phil rimmer #63
    Aug 11, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I must say I’m a little surprised here, I did not expect that the popular view in RDF (if it really is) would be the ‘softly-gently’ approach 😉

    I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that education can affect real change. But perhaps the problem here is the dilemma of choosing between making important policy changes at the price of popular support, or, maintaining popular support at the price of superficial policy changes. And we musn’t forget that the decline of the church/christianity in Europe happened at a time when information was disseminated much more slowly than it is today (internet/mobile devices/etc.). Are we really sure that there isn’t an opportunity here to take Some risks? I wonder what would Richard Dawkins say…

  • Adrian #68
    Aug 12, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I must say I’m a little surprised here, I did not expect that the popular view in RDF (if it really is) would be the ‘softly-gently’ approach.

    It is a matter of “horses for courses”.

    Working for political support for policy changes, is a whole different game to challenging some fundamentalist individual in a debate in front of an audience.
    Fundamentalists are unlikely to change their minds, but the audience can recognise their bigoted ignorance, if they are challenged and matters properly explained.

    Quite often in politics, it can be a matter persuading someone who is mistaken or uneducated, but not necessarily hostile to change, to change their mind.

    An aggressive Trump-like bull-in-a-china-shop approach, can be very counter-productive.

  • Here, an aggressive loud trump-like character, even if he’s challenging some really bad religious ideas, might be dead or disappeared in a month. Everybody believes this and i doubt anyone really considers such options, those who have and still do are all living in liberal democracies that wont extradite over what they consider unjust laws. So we don’t have to worry too much of such an approach being adopted by the new government, at the moment.

    We also know that under such circumstances, Any kind of policy changes that have even a perceived effect on the legal authority and primacy of religion/religious institutions will likely spark a fierce backlash, the only questions being on how fierce and from how many people. And since we cannot predict the extent of such a backlash, wouldn’t both comprehensive reforms (Dawkins’ approach, not trump) and superficial reforms carry sort-of similar risks? Similar enough perhaps that it may be worth going for the big change instead?

  • Adrian #70
    Aug 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Any kind of policy changes that have even a perceived effect on the legal authority and primacy of religion/religious institutions will likely spark a fierce backlash, the only questions being on how fierce and from how many people. And since we cannot predict the extent of such a backlash, wouldn’t both comprehensive reforms (Dawkins’ approach, not trump) and superficial reforms carry sort-of similar risks?

    It is an unfortunate fact, that over the centuries, with their flawed thinking processes, backward theocracies have inflicted repression, corruption, poverty, and starvation, on their populations.

    It is also a feature of the modern world, that selfish greedy Trump-like capitalists, and colonialists, have promoted and propped up such governments, providing they were open to bribery and giving foreign businesses cheap labour – with access to the native resources for exploitation and export! eg. – Without oil money, the repressive Saudi regime would be just another desert tribe of camel herders!

    That is why it is important to defend civilised countries with representative democracies which respect facts, education, and science, and to export this culture to the more backward nations.

    At present too many industrialised countries are recklessly exporting arms and armaments technologies, to primitives and gangsters, who are unfit to handle them in an ethical and responsible manner!

    Without the scientifically developed weapons and communications, the primitive theocratic minds would not be able to spread and enforce their views the way they do.

  • I am a new member and a first time poster. I have read the forum requirements, and I am not entirely sure I am posting correctly. Someone please inform me if this is the case.

    This weekend I have been enjoying a number of debates involving Dr. Dawkins and the late, greatly lamented Christopher Hitchens. I truly feel both of these men have provided an important body of work supporting the possible erosion of ignorance and irrational thinking in our world. Sadly, it has not been enough, but it is far better than nothing. In particular, I want to commend Dr. Dawkins on his gentle, considerate, and thoughtful demeanor when bracing that which frankly often tends to send me into a fit of screaming. I feel strongly one reason the movement towards supporting reason in favor of emotional considerations is often less than successful is we can so often be abrasive and off-putting to those among us who have real problems thinking logically and observing objectively. Dr. Dawkins has from what I have seen provided us with genuine examples of how best to help bring others to a better understanding of science and nature.

    I would like to bring up an idea I had during a recent lecture Dr. Dawkins provided to a group of young students at a religious school. One girl asked something to the effect of, “Can we become advanced enough to become gods?” Dr. Dawkins quite properly responded that the key element missing from allowing us to be considered gods is the fact we evolved, and a god by definition cannot have done.

    I thought about the lecture for a bit, and I recalled one of my favorite Isaac Asimov short stories called “The Last Question”. If any participants here have not read it, then I encourage they do so. The main point, however, is the computer eventually becomes so knowledgeable and powerful that at the very end of time, it re-creates the now dead universe.

    So I ask the question in a slightly different way. Assume for the moment the universe arose as a result of a quantum fluctuation which did not collapse as they are generally want to do. If we ever become knowledgeable and powerful enough to create a “baby” universe, then while we cannot be considered gods in this universe. would it not still be appropriate in some sense to consider us as gods in that universe? Creators, but not omnipotent or immortal? Hmm. Does it not then follow it is possible there were gods, perhaps long gone now, and never properly a part of our universe, that created our universe?

    I want to make it clear at this point I am only offering this as a point for speculation, discussion, and consideration. I am not in any way suggesting this is in fact the case, or that it is at all less than wildly unlikely it could be accurate. What’s more, I am compelled to point out it is almost surely an unscientific idea in that I can think of no way at all the notion could be falsified.

  • Leslie Rhorer #72
    Aug 13, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Welcome to RDFS.

    Creators, but not omnipotent or immortal? Hmm.
    Does it not then follow it is possible there were gods, perhaps long gone now, and never properly a part of our universe, that created our universe?

    There has certainly been speculation about sources of the energy in the Big-Bang which created our universe.

    Indeed, some years ago, when debunking theist claims of “existence by default, due to the inability to prove a negative”, I challenged one of them to prove that the Big-Bang was not caused by an exploding Klingon warp-drive in another universe!

    Humans have certainly claimed in the past that powerful forces, leaders, or animals, were gods. This tendency is clearly a feature of the psychology of human group politics.

    What we can say, is that the numerous conflicting Earth and human centred claims of creationists, have no support from the physics of cosmology, or the history of an evolving universe, galaxy, star, or planet.

  • Arkrid Sandwich #66
    Aug 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

    In the UK there has been a very interesting TV series, with Ed Balls (ex UK Westminster government minister) touring “Trump-Land” to investigate the views of Trump supporters.

  • I challenged one of them to prove that the Big-Bang was not caused by an exploding Klingon warp-drive in another universe!

    Oh, now wait! I can easily disprove that one. A Klingon warship simply would not produce enough tachyons to sustain the quantum fluctuation beyond the Heisenberg limit for energy x time. The answer, as it were, is obvious. It was an imploding quantum singularity caused by the collision of two Romulan starships!

  • Humans have certainly claimed in the past that powerful forces, leaders, or animals, were gods. This tendency is clearly a feature of the psychology of human group politics.

    Hmm. Honestly, I don’t know that is clear, at all. To be sure, I would estimate it is possible, but I suspect it has more to do with the tendency of the majority of most individuals to cling to anyone who proclaims themselves to be an inspired authority. Just look how many people are duped by any manner of hoax. I can scarcely believe how many people on the internet have claimed to invent perpetual motion machines. People want to believe in something, and it is more religious vigor in nature than political machinery.

  • Alan4discussion #74
    Aug 13, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Arkrid Sandwich #66
    Aug 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

    In the UK there has been a very interesting TV series, with Ed Balls (ex UK Westminster government minister) touring “Trump-Land” to investigate the views of Trump supporters.

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m now downloading them.

  • Leslie Rhorer #76
    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Humans have certainly claimed in the past that powerful forces, leaders, or animals, were gods. This tendency is clearly a feature of the psychology of human group politics.

    Hmm. Honestly, I don’t know that is clear, at all.

    What I had in mind was the claims of both Egyptian pharaohs, and Roman emperors, who were pronounced divine either by themselves, or by their followers or relatives, for political purposes.

    To be sure, I would estimate it is possible, but I suspect it has more to do with the tendency of the majority of most individuals to cling to anyone
    who proclaims themselves to be an inspired authority.
    Just look how many people are duped by any manner of hoax.

    I think this is the imaginary parent substitute, for those who want someone or something to take over the responsibilities they cannot (or don’t want to), cope with! It is the perfect side-track for political leaders seeking to duck blame for their poor judgement or failure to address serious issues.

    Natural disasters are also high on the fundamentalist list of “God delivered punishments”, for the lack of contributions to the local religion, or shortage of kow-towing to the priesthood! (see the fundamentalist Muslim expansion following Banda Ache tsunami!)

    We see this “Big-Daddy-will-take-care-of-us”, attitude among some climate change deniers: – “Don’t ask us to make any effort to think or change our ways; – God will take care of it!”

  • Alan4discussion #73
    Aug 13, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Indeed, some years ago, when debunking theist claims of “existence by default, due to the inability to prove a negative”, I challenged one of them to prove that the Big-Bang was not caused by an exploding Klingon warp-drive in another universe!

    I am reminded of the saying “science likes questions you can’t answer. Religion likes answers you can’t question.”

  • Among Hindus and many animist hunter-gatherers, animals trees etc. are regarded as having “spirits” or being scared, in addition those which are personified as gods.

    Very true. In thinking about the Greek and Roman gods, I was often puzzled about what, exactly, made them gods.They really didn’t seem to me to have much in the way of god-like qualities. I guess their powers had to be watered down quite a bit since there were so many of them.

  • I think this is the imaginary parent substitute, for those who want someone or something to take over the responsibilities they cannot (or don’t want to), cope with

    Good point. Indeed, upon reflection, there is nothing which prevents it from being a combination of all three.

  • 83
    Garrick says:

    Leslie Rhorer #81
    . . . In thinking about the Greek and Roman gods, I was often puzzled about what, exactly, made them gods.They really didn’t seem to me to have much in the way of god-like qualities. I guess their powers had to be watered down quite a bit since there were so many of them.

    The first two chapters of the book How Jesus Became God by Bart D. Ehrman may be helpful to your understanding of the Graeco-Roman pantheon (and of ancient Jewish thinking about gods too). Everyone at that time, including the Hebrews, Israelites or Jews, were polytheists, in that they believed that those purely spiritual beings existed and were able to interfere in human affairs and take bodily form on occasion (the Jews just reserved divine honors for the one god that they believed had chosen them as its people and called all the other gods angels (if they served their god and devils or demons if they did not). Not only were there many gods in the ancient worldview but they each had their place in a hierarchy of being, power and majesty. In this worldview humans were thought to have within them a divine spark too, the spirit, what we might describe as the rational-moral consciousness, so humans were regarded as existing on a rung of being between the divine (spiritual, supernatural) and the entirely physical (natural) world, alongside some spiritual beings whose dignity was little higher than theirs. (Neuroscience was then a long, long way in the future.)

    In this worldview it was quite reasonable to regard a man like Alexander the Great, whose extraordinary achievements seemed to ordinary people to be proof of divine power. How one theologizes this does not matter — and it was theologized in different ways among the ancients themselves, some regarding Alexander as semidivine by birth and others regarding him as achieving divine status through his magnificent deeds — but the fact is that he was regarded by some people in his rapidly acquired, far-flung empire as a god even before his death, and was generally regarded as a god after his death. Likewise, in the Roman empire, emperor-worship became established and readily accepted as reasonable, because the immense power of the emperor seemed indeed nothing short of divine, the kind of power wielded by a god.

    As Ehrman puts it in the first chapter of the cited book: “Today we think of the realm of divinity, the realm of God, as completely Other and separate from our human realm. God is up there in heaven, we are down here on earth, and there is an infinite gulf between us. But most ancient people did not see the divine and human realms in this way. The divine realm had numerous strata. Some gods were greater, one might say ‘more divine,’ than others, and humans sometimes could be elevated to the ranks of those gods. …” In order to make more sense of the ancients’ attitudes towards gods, we have to put aside the notion of “an infinite gulf” that our own thinking, inherited from Christianity, has us positing between a divine being and ourselves. No, the gods of antiquity lived above and below and around the earth that we inhabit, and they took responsibility for its shaping and ordering, even taking an occasional interest in human affairs, especially if their honor was brought into question.

    If you find the qualities attributed to the gods of the ancients disappointing in comparison with the supposed qualities of the god of the Christians, that is only to be expected. Again, to understand the ancients’ attitude towards the gods, you have to put aside the centuries of Christian theologizing that separate us from antiquity. An excellent exposition of ancient religion is given by Larry Siedentop in the first three chapters of his book Inventing the Individual, and I hesitate to attempt to summarize it in a few words here, since it is already quite a condensed account of ancient religion as a prelude to his treatment of the development of the modern notion of the individual person. What I will say is that ancient religion was based on family, clan, tribe and later on city. Each such grouping of people had its titular gods, the most basic being the ancestors of the family. The point to be made here is that the gods of the ancients were always conceived of as being psychologically similar to people, and indeed the most basic level of gods were one’s family’s deceased patresfamilias. The family belonged to a clan, whose god, associated with the locality where the various families dwelt, the families would periodically assemble to honor in some religious ritual. Likewise the tribe was united by a god honored by its various clans in common. The emergence of the city required local gods to be honored and worshiped by all members of the city, i.e. the citizens, who were not just anybody who wanted to join up, but who were people who belonged to families, clans and tribes resident in the territories of the city and were united in the worship of the city’s gods, who were regarded as having an interest in the city’s wellbeing. This horribly simplified account of the role of religion in antiquity may at least convey some sense of the human-based, projected notions the ancients had of gods, and may make it easier to understand how, in ancient thinking, an outstanding human might quite reasonably be deified. For them it was just not such a leap (across an infinite gulf) as it would be in the modern way of thinking about divinity.

    Incidentally, the two chapters I cited lead into the question of how Jesus, whom Ehrman takes to have been a historical early-first-century Palestinian Jew, later came to be believed to be God. But they make at least as much sense, if you favor the view for which Richard Carrier argues, that Jesus turns up first as the ahistorical divine savior in an intertestamental Jewish mystery cult.

  • Well, this sounds promising:

    Electric cars could be charged in a matter of seconds using a revolutionary battery system developed by a team of Scottish scientists, it has been claimed. Researchers at the University of Glasgow have adapted nano-molecules so they are able to store either electric power or hydrogen gas, creating a flexible dual-output battery system.

    Full story:
    https://www.scotsman.com/future-scotland/tech/scots-scientists-battery-breakthrough-could-revolutionise-electric-cars-1-4783460

  • I see Spanky has filed suit against Omarosa for breaking a confidentiality agreement she is alleged to have signed while she was with his election campaign. I predict that she will soon reveal she’s being defended by Michael Avenetti. He seems the obvious choice.

  • Marco #87
    Aug 18, 2018 at 11:50 am

    CNN (and others) are reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has recommended that the judge sentence George Papadopoulis (former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Trump’s presidential campaign) to up to 6 months in jail for lying to investigators in the Russia probe.

    I was commenting on this, and the retiring of the Manafort jury to consider a verdict – over here:-

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2018/05/trumps-foreign-policy-looks-a-lot-like-rapture-christians-plan-to-welcome-the-apocalypse/#li-comment-233402

  • Wow, that was some day yesterday in the Mueller investigation. The jury find Manafort guilty on 8 of the 18 charges against him and can’t reach a decision on the other 10 but that matters little. Mueller has proved that his investigation is no witch hunt, or if it was it’s found a lot of witches. However that was not even the worst of the news for Agent Orange. At almost the exact same time as the news was coming out of the Manafort trial, Michael Cohen was pleading guilty to attempting to influence the 2016 election by paying off Stormy Daniels which he said was at the request of a presidential candidate. We are left to guess who that means but even Trump is unlikely to be able to claim it was Crooked Hillary.

    Of course we’ve all known for ages that Trump was lying about not knowing anything about the Stormy payoff but now there is a recording of him speaking to Cohen about it plus Cohen’s own testimony.

    Manafort faces maybe 10 years in jail which is effectively a life sentence at his age. Cohen has struck a deal for about 4 to 5 years instead of much longer. So far neither of them have actually co-operated with Mueller, maybe hoping for pardons from Trump. We’ll see how long their resolve lasts.

    Sadly it is unlikely that Trump can be charged with criminal offences while he is still president which says that the power of the presidency is way too great. This needs to be remedied in Congress and also the matter of presidents being able to pardon people connected to them.

  • Arkrid

    One of the great things about getting older is that I forget the jokes I’ve heard, which means I can enjoy them all over again next time I run into them 🙂

  • Marco #84

    Their invention is a very high charge carrying particle for flow batteries (my favourite).

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41557-018-0109-5

    Currently they are at a quarter theoretical capacity 225Wh/l. At 500Wh/l Lithium batteries are obsoleted given the possibility of recharge as refill.

    Power Utlitities will become the new owners of refuelling stations as they will put in large tanks to store every last Wh of surplus electricity (from night-time wind to summer surplus midday solar, and from these distributed facilities stabilise the grid, reduce grid losses, and eventually, after the same systems are used for creating on-site never-fail supplies for hospitals, local communities and manufacturing, dispense with any carbon burning except for waste. For a bigger longer lasting battery you just need a bigger steel tank.

    At 500Wh/l you’ll still need a big tank at 10mpg, but a tank no bigger than a lithium battery volumetrically and any shape you like with no safety concerns. At home it is plug in rechargable.

    It should be called Juice.

  • Before anyone gets their hopes up that Cohen’s admission that he paid off Stormy Daniels on Trump’s instruction is some sort of smoking gun for Trump’s own legal liability I’m afraid to say it probably isn’t. The prosecution would need to prove two things. Firstly that the payoff was election related and not just about Trump’s personal embarrassment and secondly that he knew it was a violation of campaign finance law. Given that Trump said he could kill someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any support from his base he has a good claim that he would be even less worried about an affair coming to light, especially given he got away scot free with the Pussygate recordings. Secondly he’s going to claim he relied on Cohen to do everything legally and shares no responsibility if that wasn’t the case. Now if Cohen has a tape where he explains to Trump it’s illegal then that would do very nicely but I suspect he hasn’t.

    One thing Trump does very well is wriggle and I think he’ll wriggle out of both this and the 9th June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary. I think his greatest danger is going to come from money laundering, or perjuring himself either to Mueller, in court or before Congress if the Dems can take the House and make him testify. The rich are very good at insulating themselves from white collar crime charges by using lawyers to legitimise what they do and provide plausible deniability. There is however a damn good chance that once he’s out of office he can face state charges for misusing his charities for personal gain and tax avoidance. That should be a slam dunk if the Dems get the right Attorney Generals into maybe NY state or Virginia.

    I can’t even put into words how much I want to see the repulsive wankmaggot on the criminal hook and finally getting his comeuppance for a lifetime of conning people.

  • MSNBC just reported that on the Manafort trial jury there was one juror who was a holdout on that verdict. Of the ten counts that were misstrialed, that one Trump supporter juror maintained a not guilty position. Hmmm.

  • Awwwww. Poor little snowflake is whining now that if he’s impeached the stock market will crash. Well good say I. Nice of him to point out yet another benefit of getting him impeached. As my recent analysis showed, the bottom 90% have hardly any investment in the stock market anyway these days so it’s only Trump’s rich cronies that would suffer.

    The market is well overdue for a collapse anyway so I suspect it will happen whether Trump gets impeached or not.

  • Arkrid

    I agree with all of that. In fact, those of us who have stock market investments have been riding a lucrative wave. However, we are also sitting here with our fingers hovering over the “sell” button. My nephew, a finance guy who works for Fidelity, a huge investment company, confirms that all the brokers have the same stance – prepare to sell “bigly” !! If the stock market takes a huge tumble, all other investments will follow. This will be frightening. It will take us ten years to dig out from under it.

  • OK, this is quite the thing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz_2VYeHAx4

    It’s being called the “Tinder Trap” A woman and her associate have conducted a social experiment where they presented her as available for a date on Tinder. They attracted many interested men and arranged to have them all meet in the same place and filmed the meeting. She had them compete for worthiness and dismissed the failures. Watch their reactions!

    This is the creation of a human lek.

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

    Greater sage-grouse at lek, with multiple males displaying for the less conspicuous females
    A lek, from the Swedish word for “play”, is an aggregation of male animals gathered to engage in competitive displays, lekking, to entice visiting females which are surveying prospective partners for copulation.[1] Leks are commonly formed before or during the breeding season. A lekking species is characterised by male displays, strong female mate choice, and the conferring of male indirect benefits. Although most prevalent among birds such as black grouse, lekking is also found in insects including paper wasps, crustaceans, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

    A classical lek consists of male territories in visual and auditory range of each other. An exploded lek, as seen in the kakapo (the owl parrot), has more widely separated territories, but still in auditory range.

    Lekking creates a paradox: strong sexual selection by females for specific male traits ought to erode genetic diversity by Fisherian runaway, but diversity is maintained and runaway does not occur. Many attempts have been made to explain it away,[2][3][4][5] but the paradox remains.

  • RIP Senator John McCain 🙁

    Sir, the Senate and your country will sorely miss you. You were the bravest of men and a hero who served your country for decades in ways the present incumbent is incapable of understanding or emulating. In a congress of spineless sycophants without a shred of decency or honour amongst them you were the oak who stood tall and firm against the treasonous gale that blew in with the coward Trump and bent the rest to his evil will.

    5 was the number of years you spent being tortured by the Vietnamese but still refused to be released without your comrades and 5 was also the number of times the coward Trump dodged the draft rather than serve his country as you did so willingly. If life was fair it would be you sitting in the oval office and him with the cancer in his brain although to be honest he behaves as if he has that anyway.

    A man cannot buy his legacy though, he can only earn it and you will forever be remembered as a patriot and a hero and Trump will be remembered as a coward and a traitor who conned his way into both his fortune and his presidency.

    When I was a boy I had to call my schoolmasters “sir”. Since I became a man I have found no one I felt deserved to be addressed that way and have never used the word since. I have never served as you did so I am not entitled to salute you. But I can call you Sir, if only to your memory. It is the most profound form of respect I possess and it is still much less than you deserve or earned.

    So sleep well Sir. You will not be forgotten in your own country or in mine. I will raise a glass to you today and shed a tear because the world is a little poorer now and men of your calibre are sorely needed.

  • Phil #101

    Yet he was a complex character…

    He was. I was appalled at the prospect of his possibly becoming President back in 2008, though not quite as appalled as I was with Mitt Romney in 2012.

    The simple fact is that Trump has transformed the political playing field. Both McCain and Romney seem positively saintly compared with him. In the Trump era anyone who has not been caught up in his cult will inevitably look more kindly on any politician who is not demonstrably treasonous, unfailingly corrupt, and unhinged.

  • The problem with Atheists:

    Well, in fairness, it seems to me to be more a problem with most people, or at least with so many believers. Believers?!! Yes, believers, and to my eye, that means atheists, a well as any other sort of “ist”. I have listened to many debates between various religious apologists and a number of atheists, including Dr. Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others, and I am compelled to infer virtually all of them are believers at some level. ‘Not believers in god, of course, but believers nonetheless.

    Now, let me say without reservation I have found speakers like Dr. Dawkins to be often far more honest and intellectually reliable, as it were, than many of the other individuals. Many of the so-called religious apologists I find to be either out-and-out liars, or else willfully ignorant, which ultimately amounts to the same thing. Some are honestly moronic. To be sure, I find the atheists’ arguments to be by and large far, far more well reasoned and supported by evidence. Many of the true believers, by contrast, display precious little in the way of reason and often nothing at all in the way of evidence.

    Yet at the same time, I sometimes cringe at some of the statements made by those who seek to support atheism. For example, one time someone asked Dr. Dawkins if religion (or was it specifically Christianity?) had any value at all? His response was a flat, “No”. Now, first of all, that response I found to be a bit arrogant and quite dismissive. This saddened me, because not only was it very highly uncharacteristic of Dr. Dawkins, it also was greatly over-simplistic. Perhaps more importantly, I can only deduce it would likely be off-putting, and even insulting, to those who are in no way guilty of the excesses so often found to be associated with religion. In short, these people, regardless of their beliefs should never, ever be dismissed or belittled. I feel exceedingly strongly that every person should have an absolute right to believe whatever they choose, regardless of how foolish or inconsistent it might be, without comment from anyone on their reasons for doing so. In short, I feel while we needn’t agree or even respect anyone else’s beliefs, we must absolutely respect the right to hold those beliefs without any fear of personal attacks because of it. We must cherish Charlie Brown and his belief in the Great Pumpkin, not criticize, ostracize, or condescend to him, the fact we hold the notion of the existence of a Great Pumpkin to be incredibly unlikely not withstanding.

    This sort of thing is far from rare on either side of the argument, and I really wish it could be eliminated altogether. There is something far more common, however, and I REALLY cringe whenever I hear Dawkins, et al, say, “I believe…” Upon reflection, what really makes me cringe, is the fact it is often accurate. Many self-proclaimed atheists actually do believe there is no god. My question is, “Why?” Frankly, it rather depresses me to realize atheists believe in anything. For that matter, it depresses and even appalls me that theists believe in some Cosmic Muffin, but from those who actually can and do think I find it perfectly unfathomable.

    For the record, if you will, I believe nothing. I do not believe there is a god or gods, and I do not believe there is not a god. I accept, provisionally and for the moment only, any evidence gathered in a methodical manner, and any well reasoned inferences drawn therefrom. I have every expectation that at some point there may be gathered evidence which implies something else, and upon verifying the experimental methods employed I will demand the former inferences be modified or even abandoned entirely, all without remorse. I understand we must stipulate the First Principle of Science (there is a real, observable universe) in order to assign any meaning or value to scientific reasoning and investigation. I do not in any sense believe it. I merely realize we apparently can’t make any inferences without it, so I take it as a postulate until such time as someone can show it doesn’t need to be a postulate, or perhaps it is just plain wrong. After all, there is every possibility the Hindu god Lord Vishnu will wake up one day and the universe will sim0ply disappear. Also for the record, I don’t believe that, either.

    So no, I do not believe there is any such thing as a god, and I do not believe there is no god. I never will believe there is no god, but on the other hand I see no reason to believe there is a god. I do wonder about one thing, however. Why does it really matter? I really think before anyone can even begin to convince me of either position, they will need to convince me the question is somehow important. For anyone who would like to try, I warn you: It won’t be easy.

  • Leslie Rhorer #106
    Aug 30, 2018 at 4:40 am

    The problem with Atheists:

    I feel exceedingly strongly that every person should have an absolute right to believe whatever they choose, regardless of how foolish or inconsistent it might be,

    They may, but that does not pre-empt the right of other people to criticise, correct, or in the case of strongly asserted ridiculous views, mock them, when reason fails!

    without comment from anyone on their reasons for doing so.

    That is the error of the assertion that beliefs are ENTITLED to UNEARNNED respect.
    Any view should be open to criticism, correction of errors, and defence against any negative effects it has on other people.
    (Beliefs that quack medical treatments “are wonderful and can be substituted for modern medicine” – maim and kill those persuded to such views!)

    In short, I feel while we needn’t agree or even respect anyone else’s beliefs, we must absolutely respect the right to hold those beliefs without any fear of personal attacks because of it.

    That is fine pproviding that there are clear boundries between harmless isolated personal views, and those which have damaging applications in the material world, – just so long as criticism is not taken as “personal attacks” by the holders of mistaken views, and personal attacks are not directed at critics by those criticised.
    Any respect for persons must by mutual and reciprocated.

    For example there is no “right” of preachers to preach lies and hatred of non-believers (in their religion), and discrimination against non-members, – and then play the poor little religious martyr, when others defend themselves and criticise this bigotry!

    We must cherish Charlie Brown and his belief in the Great Pumpkin, not criticize, ostracize, or condescend to him, the fact we hold the notion of the existence of a Great Pumpkin to be incredibly unlikely not withstanding.

    Err no! Cherishing and promoting irrational silliness, is a step too far!
    The point of Charlie’s Great Pumpkin, is that it is laughable, and should be laughed at!
    (Anyone for “cherishing” belief in jihadist suicide bombing, universal female cicumcision, or forbidding the teaching of honest science in schools?)

    I do not believe there is any such thing as a god, and I do not believe there is no god. I never will believe there is no god, but on the other hand I see no reason to believe there is a god.

    The question then arises as to if you give credibility to all the thousands of gods which are, and have been, proclaimed to exist by their followers – given that most of these concepts and doctrines, are in conflict with each other?

    I do wonder about one thing, however.
    Why does it really matter?

    It matters because believers act upon their indoctrinated world-views and take the prescribed actions required by these – often to the detriment of wider societies, other citizens, their children, and themselves!

    For the record:
    I believe that gods in all their diverse and conflicting forms, exist: – as delusional images in the brains of believers, and that they reproduce and evolve memetically, to act in the best interests of spreading those delusions. (. . . and not in the best interests of the people involved – Those people may be injured or martyred in the best interests of the religion!)

    I really think before anyone can even begin to convince me of either position,

    It is an error to to think of “religion” and “atheism” as TWO conflicting positions.
    Most religious believers, are atheistic to all gods and religions except their own, and dispute some of the features of other religions (particularly the more ridiculous or destructive ones), in the same way atheists do. – Therefore there are thousands on conflicting views abou any particular form of god, , not just two!

    they will need to convince me the question is somehow important.

    It is the damaging actions which are taken by as a result of the beliefs which are important to others in communities who associate with religious individuals and groups.

    People have a right to beliefs. They do not have an unquestionable right to inflict them on others who may have different views.
    Imposing particular views or laws, is a matter of politics, which must be open to criticism and debate, if conflicts of interest and questions of fact, are to be resolved in a civilised manner.

    For anyone who would like to try, I warn you: It won’t be easy.

    It should not be too difficult if you are open to evidence based reasoning!

  • Is there any such thing as good or evil?

    Well, absolutely. Even Dr Dawkins has suggested DNA does not care about right or wrong, but I am afraid he is mistaken. 🙂

    Really?? Yeah, really. OK, before we go any further, let’s make sure we are arguing the same things. I feel Dr Dawkins and others here will not argue much if I remove any religious underpinnings to moral fundamentals. I therefore define evil in its broadest sense as any influence which involves or causes harm to one or more individuals or things. Now, I realize as with any other definition, this is arbitrary and certainly not inarguable. Also as with any other definition, it relies on at least one undefined term: harm. The notion of “good” is far more nebulous, so I shan’t even try to define it here, except to offer it is in some sense the antithesis of evil.

    So now what? Well, first of all, I suggest we look at upon what, fundamentally, is evolution based? I submit it is in fact based upon the same thing which underlies chemistry and even physics. Good heavens, what could be more fundamental than physics? And it is also the basis for chemistry and evolution? The answer is, “Economics”. Really? Economics? Yes, and not just one one level, either.

    “Les”, I imagine you are saying now, “you are either an idiot or insane.” Well, honestly, it would not be the first time someone said something to that effect, but I think maybe not. I could be wrong, of course. To the point, what makes me think otherwise? Well, first of all, I do know a bit about physics, and it should be realized physics at its heart is an accounting system. There are a number of fundamental principles ascribed to by contemporary physics, and while we do not have as yet any real notion of why these fundamental principles are strictly maintained over regions of space-time long compared with Heisenberg’s constant, but they are. Regardless of any process, energy and momentum are conserved, and entropy in any closed system never diminishes. The universe is the most up-tight accountant that has ever been, and if Mother Nature is a bitch, she is a bitch with a balance sheet in her hands!

    So we see that physics is at its base an accounting system, and in particular Thermodynamics has as its basis a rudimentary sort of what is in effect a sort of moral analogue. Entropy is based upon the randomness of a system. According to the Second Law, “That is good which results in an increase in randomness.” Hey, if Dr. Dawkins can take the poetic license to say a gene is selfish, I think I can be forgiven for anthropomorphising the number of quantum states in a group of particles. Facetiousness aside, evolution, like macroscopic chemistry, is rather a bit removed from physics at the quantum level, but it is still quite fully constrained by the conservation principles and in some important respects by the Second Law. More to the point, it is fundamentally based upon an essentially moral judgement. It favors the genes which are successfully reproductive and disfavors the genes that are not as successfully reproductive. One might argue this bears little or no resemblance to human “morality”, but I submit it is not so different, and that in any case it is at least morally analogous, and as such the notion evolution does not result in morality is just plain incorrect. Indeed, some people will actually assert the Basic Moral Principle, “That is good which is successful” is a valid one.

    “OK,” you insist,” but that does not result in the definition of evil above, nor of any one of the common BMPs espoused by philosophers.” Well, no, it doesn’t, but it does from one perspective counter the notion that evolution cannot result in morality. I submit there is much more, however. To be sure, I can see no way in which evolution would be likely to produce human-like morals in ants, krill, or naked mole rats. This is not particularly surprising. Does it mean there is no sort of moral analogue for those species? I don’t think anyone really knows. I certainly do not. If we look at many species – even ants and mole rats – social activity is very evolutionally important. Whether or not a particular behavior is determined in whole or in part by genetic factors, the genes of the individuals whose behavior produces an environmentally specific productive advantage will be more broadly expressed in a population. That is evolution. So, if you ask me, most human like moral imperatives in species that produce large numbers of young will not produce much, if anything, in the way of a reproductive advantage. Among highly social creatures which only produce small numbers of young and have fairly long parental associations, I submit notions of good and evil are a very natural development, and I submit that any such species who has some notion of evil being something like I have defined above will be more successful from an evolutionary standpoint than one which does not. Thus I insist a moral perspective of some sort among creatures such as we is not only possible, but in fact inevitable as a species develops to something like us.

    Finally, I submit I myself have directly observed what can only be described as apparent morals – not all human-like ones, but morals nonetheless in cats, dogs, rats, squirrels, certain reptiles, and even some fish. I have also observed what I interpret as such in documentaries involving meerkats, elephants, and rhinos, among others. If I am not mistaken, few theists consider these animals to be other than soul-less, but then arrogance and egocentricity is far from uncommon in theists.

  • LR#108

    You seem to be trying to impute physics parameters into a ‘good and evil’ concept which in reality derives from mental processes – i.e. human psychology. Good and evil essentially refer to human actions taken against other humans (or other lifeforms) either directly or indirectly. The motive for the former may be life enhancing to varying degrees for the recipient, while the opposite will be true for evil actions. Your conflation with physics factors is simply invalid.

  • “Belief” is not a word I like to use or ever apply to myself. “Belief” implies a conscious decision despite lack of evidence. You would never ask someone if they believed in trees or horses. It is readily apparent that those exist. You only ask people if they believe in things which are not proven like fairies, unicorns and gods. I accept as true those things for which there is ample evidence. I consider those things for which there is not sufficient evidence to be false until proven otherwise. I reserve judgement on anything in between. However I do not “believe” in anything without reason.

    In the case of gods I see no evidence for the existance of any and ample logical arguments that they are all man made constructs which do not exist in reality and can not exist due to conflict with the laws of physics.

  • Leslie Rhorer #108
    Aug 30, 2018 at 6:19 am

    Is there any such thing as good or evil?

    Well, absolutely. Even Dr Dawkins has suggested DNA does not care
    about right or wrong, but I am afraid he is mistaken. 🙂

    When Richard Dawkins says “DNA does not care about (moral codes of) right or wrong”, he means that evolutionary survival of COPIES of genes, does not care about the suffereing or death of individuals. (Only about one in a thousand turtle hatchlings survives to mature adulhood!)

    Really?? Yeah, really.
    OK, before we go any further, let’s make sure we are arguing the same things.
    I feel Dr Dawkins and others here will not argue much if I remove any religious underpinnings to moral fundamentals.

    Indeed so! That is precisely what he means when he separates survival of genes from the interests and welfare of individuals.

    I fact his hypothesis of the uncaring memetic replication of religious beliefs and behaviours, shows the same pattern of suvival of the gene/meme, being priorotised over the interests and welfare of the individual.

    Thus I insist a moral perspective of some sort among creatures such as we is not only possible, but in fact inevitable as a species develops to something like us.

    In deed so! Most social animals have, pecking orders and some sort of rules and reciprocal altruism, promoting the benefit of the group. (Wolves, for example will feed and protect any cubs recognised as belonging to their pack. Buffalo will defend calves from lions.)

    I therefore define evil in its broadest sense as any influence which involves or causes harm to one or more individuals or things.

    That would be a cultural humanist-community type moral code which Richard Dawkins recommends.

  • They may, but that does not pre-empt the right of other people to criticise, correct, or in the case of strongly asserted ridiculous views, mock them, when reason fails!

    Two things. First of all, my main point is one should not be asserted to have the right to mock anyone, nor to criticize them for their internal belief system. Criticizing the beliefs themselves is another matter, and respecting them, as opposed to respecting the believer, is even less imperative. On the other side of the coin, mocking anything is bordering on moral and ethical bankruptcy. It is certainly not appropriate, in my estimation, and it is most definitely an inappropriate and inept debating tactic. You might consider that theistic apologists use it all the time. It completely fails to impress me, and it is no better or more acceptable from an atheist and certainly not from a scientist. Please let’s leave the childish behavior to the other side.

    That is the error of the assertion that beliefs are ENTITLED to UNEARNNED respect.

    I agree beliefs are not. I said so. To a certain extent, people should be. You see, it’s not entirely about them, it is about us. Other people may be evil, arrogant, stupid, abusive, or whatever, but the fact does not give you or me leave to act in kind. Yes, respect must be earned, but that goes for everyone, myself included. In order for me, or you, to earn the respect the other person does not deserve, you and I must offer the respect to them they might attempt to deny to us. It’s called “taking the moral high ground”, among other things. And yes, there are certainly limits. For me, it absolutely will end as their fist approaches my nose. At that point, they will find themselves the recipient of some very unpleasant behavior.

    Any view should be open to criticism

    Again, as I suggested in my original post, yes, all views should be not only open to criticism, they all should be exposed to criticism. I just looked at a YouTube debate posted by a Creationist, which he claimed was won by the Creation apologist. Isn’t it amazing he denied any comments? Criticizing a person is another matter. At the very least, ad hominem attacks are an invalid argument. Jane Curtin’s criticism of Chevy Chase’s position on SNL was perfectly valid. Chevy’s response of, “Jane, you communist slut!” was not.

    That is fine pproviding that there are clear boundries between harmless isolated personal views

    No, you are attacking a straw man, here. It doesn’t matter how vile or stupid the view might be. I definitely despise the espoused beliefs of the KKK, and I will fight hard against their being able to foist their vitriol in any aspect onto anyone else, but I also will fight hard to allow them to hold their obnoxious and moronic beliefs.

    Any respect for persons must by mutual and reciprocated.

    Definitely not. I insist I am a moral, ethical, decent person, and I will actively try with every fiber in my being to continue to be one, irrespective of how badly the people around me may act. Both Jesus and Mohandas Gandhi are said to have blessed the men who killed them. I may not be strong enough to maintain my morality in the face of such aggression, but I will surely do my best. I am certainly not going to get my knickers in a wad if some theistic idiot calls me a bad name or tries to laugh at my reasoning. He is the idiot, not me.

    Err no! Cherishing and promoting irrational silliness, is a step too far!

    I never said that. I specifically said we must cherish CHARLIE, not the notion of the existence of the Great Pumpkin. My mother was a staunch and steadfast Christian. She was certainly human and certainly possessed any number of flaws, her mistaken beliefs aside. I can myself list many, many things about which she was mistaken, and if you were to point them out to me, I shouldn’t be too very upset, but if you were to attempt to criticize her personally anywhere near where I could reach you, then I assure you we would be having a VERY uncomfortable, largely non-verbal, discussion.

    The point of Charlie’s Great Pumpkin, is that it is laughable, and should be laughed at!

    I think you really missed the point of the movie. Ultimately, he was wrong, but he did not deserve the derision and scorn of his friends. He did nothing wrong, and he did not seek to hurt anyone. His friends, however, behaved extremely badly. They hurt him, deliberately, merely because he wanted to believe in something they found ridiculous, in every sense of the word. Such behavior is not only bad manners, it is in fact evil. Very evil. Do you not realize that people have been tortured and killed for nothing more than believing in something authorities found ridiculous? It is not as far a cry as you might think from unanimously ostracizing an innocent youth for his beliefs to torturing to death a Jewish person for being accused of eating fish on Friday, which happened to thousands of men and women during the Spanish Inquisition. Again, I insist the bad behavior, if any, be relegated to my opponents, not those on my team.

    The question then arises as to if you give credibility

    Weren’t you “listening”? At the fundamental level, I give credibility to virtually nothing. I find no need for faith at any level, and I certainly am not going to believe something anyone says- not even a qualified genius such as Einstein. After all, it is essentially certain that every conclusion of his, and of every other person who ever lived, is flawed in some respect. Such is the nature of human reasoning.

    It matters because believers act upon their indoctrinated world-views and take the prescribed actions required by these – often to the detriment of wider societies, other citizens, their children, and themselves!

    And that matters? Perhaps I have just become cynical in my old age, but it has happened a million times before I ever came on the scene, and will no doubt happen millions of more times when I am dead. None of it will actually impact the fact of the existence of a Prime Mover or any scientific fact. They are beating their heads on a wall, as it were, and I honestly am finding it harder and harder to care. The impact to the children bothers me, but I fail to see what I can do about any of it, other than to present my case with dignity, grace, respect, and a lack of fear and anger.

    I believe that gods in all their diverse and conflicting forms, exist: – as delusional images in the brains of believers

    Why do you “believe” such a thing? Is it not possible you are wrong? Does believing lend any strength to your arguments? Is it in any way necessary to your position? It certainly is not necessary to debating your position. In classical debate, one does not need to personally support at all the position one is assigned. No offense, but in light of these facts, it seems your believing this is of little value. If it happens you are wrong, then it is of no value at all. For myself, you will find it basically impossible to get me to believe they exist, or that they have brains, so you aren’t going to be successful getting me to believe they have created gods. I will be happy enough to stipulate it, or not, for the sake of discussion, but I won’t believe it.

    It is an error to to think of “religion” and “atheism” as TWO conflicting positions.

    OK, sure, I will allow that, but it really isn’t salient. Two positions or two million, I don’t believe any of them. At best, one or more may be only slightly flawed. It is entirely possible none of them are even close. Why I should believe any of them is quite beyond me.

    It is the damaging actions which are taken

    So if we all agreed the matter was not important, no one would be at much pains to do anything about it, would they? You seem to have added weight to my question, here. Far from convincing me it is an important question, it seems to me your argument suggests the argument is even less important than I implied. Make no mistake, the human animal is quite perverse, and frequently people do the most extraordinary things for completely unimportant reasons. The only way to actually stop them is to get them to realize they really are not important.

    They do not have an unquestionable right to inflict them on others who may have different views.

    I never argued that. At the very least, it fails to respect the other individual and their rights. It is perfectly unacceptable, IMO.

    It should not be too difficult if you are open to evidence based reasoning!

    I am perfectly open to evidence based reasoning. I am not open to belief on any basis. It is exceedingly unlikely you will be able to get me to believe you exist, or even that I exist, so getting me to believe there is or is not some universe spawning critter is really a fool’s errand.

    I am not just being obtuse, here. Both experience and long consideration have led me to infer that any reasoning individual must needs eschew all manner of belief in order to truly be a reasoning individual. One should never exclude any possibility merely because it fails to fall in line with an attractive world view. To be sure, one must attempt to weigh the likelihood of competing ideas based on all available evidence before provisionally accepting one, but ascribing a belief to the most likely essentially eliminates the rest from any consideration, and that is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

    There is also a somewhat more practical reason WRT the theist vs. atheist debate. Constantly using the word “belief”, or especially, “I believe”, in a debate with true believers gives them a lot of unnecessary ammunition. In their mind, and more importantly in the minds of onlookers, merely using those terms places the arguments of both sides on an equal footing. After all, why should an onlooker put any more value on Dr. Dawkins’ beliefs than someone else’s? With great respect to Dr. Dawkins, in essence they should not. They should, however, place much more value on his inferences and deductions based upon verified facts from reproducible experiments. I suppose in a way this could be considered spin-doctoring, but the fact is appearances and nuances do have an impact on how much credit is given by an individual to a presenter. Will it make any difference to me for my assessments? Absolutely not. Will it allow others less steeped in scientific reasoning than I to come to a better conclusion? I think it might. At the very least, I think it will cut off a number of unreasonable positions available now to the apologists.

    You can believe me, if you like. 🙂

  • Leslie Rhorer #112
    Aug 30, 2018 at 8:45 am

    On the other side of the coin, mocking anything is bordering on moral and ethical bankruptcy.

    I would differ on that, but it should certainly reserved for special situations.

    It is certainly not appropriate, in my estimation, and it is most definitely an inappropriate and inept debating tactic.

    I would reserve it for people who I refer to as “posers”! –
    Those who delusionally or dishonestly present themselves as expert authorities when they do not even have basic school level qualifications or understanding of the subject!

    On this site they are often described as suffering from the psychological “Dunning-Kruger effect”.

    You might consider that theistic apologists use it all the time.

    In this context, theist apologists frequently act as “posers” or make pathetic strawman caricatures of opponents.

    It completely fails to impress me, and it is no better or more acceptable from an atheist and certainly not from a scientist.

    Not really! It is unacceptable as a first resort, but when trying to debate some ignorant bigot WHO IS NOT OPEN TO REASON or evidence, in front of an audience WHICH THEY ARE TRYING TO DISHONESTLY CONVERT TO THEIR VIEW, I would consider both mocking and exposing their ignorant dishonest assertions, and false claims to expertise, as fair game.

    Please let’s leave the childish behavior to the other side.

    There is certainly plenty of it “on the fundamental theist side”, but exposing and mocking childish irrational behaviour, (especially when it is presented as “superior adult behaviour”), is not in itself childish behaviour.
    Reason is frequently demonstrated to be wasted on such people, who are well versed in habitual fallacious thinking from preconceptions, while some actually disparage reason, with accompanying delusions and postures of superior itellect and allegedly superior thinking processes!
    To such people, “logic” is the ability to perform mental contortion acts involving sticking a self awarded “authority badge” labelled “logic”, on to their preconceived conclusions.
    I often have to explain to those making such claims, that logic is “a process of induction or deduction”, which is best performed by starting with scientifically confirmed evidence!

  • You seem to be trying to impute physics parameters into a ‘good and evil’ concept which in reality derives from mental processes

    You seem to be implying mental processes are somehow independent of the physics and chemistry of the human brain. You will need to do some very fancy explaining to show how that could be the case. Not only are all the functions of the human brain completely bounded by the underlying chemistry and physics involved in brain function, but the evolution of those functions is also bounded by chemical and physical principles. The main point you seem to be missing, however, is even though the nature of said mental processes are not directly attributable in a deterministic way to the underlying processes, the evolution of the brain, and thus both the form and function of those processes is an inevitable result of the evolution of the human animal. If we were other than human, then to one extent or another, we would think differently – at least in form – and our morality would be somewhat different. It would still be a natural result of evolution. As an example, do you disagree that a species with small numbers of offspring who cherishes its children and is reticent to do violence to its members is liable to increase its numbers more than one which is prone to abandoning its young and killing every member of its species it meets?

    Good and evil essentially refer to human actions taken against other humans (or other lifeforms) either directly or indirectly.

    It doesn’t have to be a life form. I submit destroying a work of art or burning a book is evil. It diminishes the worth of the environment. The point, however, is all else being equal, a species – human or otherwise – which has positive emotional responses to actions which enhance the survival of progeny is going to be a much more successful species than one which has a lower tendency to protect other members of its species, or even other organisms or lifeless objects that enhance the lives of the species. It does not even have to be an animal. We see an analog of morality in plants all the time. Many trees will support the survival of kindred species, or at least their own offspring, while actively fighting against other species. If you wish, we can call this the “psychology” of the tree, in the same way Dr Dawkins uses the term “selfish” to refer to a DNA sequence. They certainly do not possess any structure we can identify as a brain, but plants can and do move based on various stimuli and can and do produce chemicals based on certain stimuli. This is all produced by their evolution, and it most certainly does result in actions that directly affect other individual organisms. The bottom line? Evolution does result in moral frameworks.

    Your conflation with physics factors is simply invalid.

    In what way? Please elucidate. First of all, my thesis did not really conflate physics with psychology, other than pointing out the functioning of the brain is 100% dependent on the underlying chemistry, which is in turn 100% dependent upon the underlying physics. My point was also that evolution as well as physics and chemistry are fundamentally economic in nature. Physics takes an “accounting” of how much energy, momentum, and entropy are lying around, and forces all physical processes to fall strictly within those accounting guidelines. Chemistry takes an accounting of how many of what types of objects are on one side of every process and forces the other side to balance exactly. Evolution takes an accounting of how successful a gene is at reproducing itself in a population of organisms and sees to it the organisms containing said gene steadily outnumber other genes in the same locus. That was the extent of my comparison between the three.

  • Leslie Rhorer #112
    Aug 30, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I believe that gods in all their diverse and conflicting forms, exist: – as delusional images in the brains of believers

    Why do you “believe” such a thing? Is it not possible you are wrong?

    It is possible to be wrong in details, but the evidence of thousands of conflicting versions of these beliefs existing in the minds of the indoctrinated – along with the geographical and family distribution patterns, is strong evidence that the god-beliefs arise from implandted programmes in brains.

    Does believing lend any strength to your arguments?

    Absolutely! – Although I would tend to use the term “confidence” rather than “belief”!
    In the real world acting on delusions, is very different from acting confidently on soundly confirmed scientific evidence!
    All the technology of the modern world works on applications of scientific evidence.
    Actions taken on delusions and “faith”, frequent result in being the subject of accident investigation reports due to their incompatibility with reality!

    Is it in any way necessary to your position? It certainly is not necessary to debating your position.

    That would only be so in the context of an abstract debate conducted purely for amusement.

    In any debate about practical decisions leading to real world activities with consequences, they are absolutely crucial. – Hence the disputes between religious dogmatic requirements and modern scientific biology and medicine, on issues such as organ transplants, faith-healing, dignified dying, abortion, etc.

    These are not matters of inconsequential debate!

  • I would reserve it for people who I refer to as “posers”! –

    I might mention at this point I reject the application of labels to people. Not only is it fundamentally prejudicial, but it is also true prejudice is only possible in a practical sense if one applies labels to people and their actions. (No offense intended, Dr. Dawkins, I realize labels are very important in biology.) If there is one thing I hate more than rudeness, or indeed more than anything else, it is prejudice. “Poser” is certainly a label.

    Now yes, I have seen many, many people behave in the most bizarre fashion in the pursuit of validation of their less than reasonable ideas. Indeed, I have upon occasion dealt with schizophrenics in the midst of full blown psychotic breaks who held at length with fully assumed authority upon the most truly incredible theses. These unfortunate individuals were definitely not deserving of the term “poser”. They were inarguably ill, yet they were perhaps only a little less irrational than the folks you mention within their own logic-tight compartments. Now, honestly, the people you mention do indeed have the ability to make me far more angry than any mental patient in the grip of a terrible psychosis, yet it seems to me many of them are just as ill in their own, limited, fashion as any mental patient. Regardless, IMO, it doesn’t matter much. I will judge them on their behavior largely without consideration of the behavior of their opponent. (And yes, they often rate lower on the intelligence scale to some pieces of lumber I have seen, and lower on the behavior scale than a baboon.) By the same token, I judge the behavior of the opponent without much consideration of the apologist’s behavior. Now, you are perfectly free to behave however you choose, short of gratuitous violence, and I genuinely mean absolutely no offense by the following. We spoke of respect. I assure you, no matter how much I may agree with your position, you will not gain any respect from me by stooping to such tactics. I say this having, I must shamefully admit, in my youth done that very thing. All I really accomplished was to make a fool of myself and to leave an impression that I was not very secure in my position. I hope these many decades later I have acquired some wisdom.

    that logic is “a process of induction or deduction”, which is best performed by starting with scientifically confirmed evidence!

    Oh, now I disagree with that completely. Certainly it was not the way logic was formally introduced to me nor where I honed my logic skills. First of all, logic is not scientific. Science is logical, of course, but logic is a branch of philosophy, just like mathematics, and as such is not required to be externally consistent. Indeed, logic can be arguably considered to be a branch of mathematics. I any case, it was in mathematics, specifically geometry, where I first encountered and became proficient at logic. As a sophomore in high school, I fell in love with executing proofs in Euclidean geometry. That was quite some years prior to the onset of my apostasy. Now, I could easily be wrong on this point, but in my estimation, I think it best a person learn to handle logic in a largely artificial framework, and then introduce the evidence-based disciplines of science and engineering once logical reasoning becomes second nature. It might well be I feel this way because it was the way I did it, but I would argue it is best to introduce one well structured discipline at a time to those not yet able to handle scientific reasoning. ‘Just my $.02.

    Furthermore, science doesn’t always start with evidence. To be sure, evidence is absolutely needed at some point, but some very important scientific work has started as nearly pure speculation. Perhaps the most famous examples are Einstein’s thought experiments. Einstein began as a young boy of around 14 thinking about what would happen if he could ride on a light beam, with little to no empirical evidence at the outset. Indeed, part of the truly elegant beauty of the Theories of Relativity is they are based upon only three postulates and a single undefined term, and only one of the postulates is based upon empirical evidence. Astounding.

  • It is possible to be wrong in details, but the evidence of thousands

    The point I am making is strictly speaking evidence is not belief. Belief requires no evidence, and armed with evidence one needn’t rely on belief.

    Absolutely!

    Absolutely not. One may believe anything one likes as fervently as one likes, and it in no way supports any position one might wish to propose. It changes nothing whatsoever about the way the universe works or about how we should try to understand it.

    Although I would tend to use the term “confidence” rather than “belief”!

    That is the very crux of my thesis. I encourage all non-theists to stop using the word, “belief”. To address your statement more directly, I feel compelled to point out by connotation, if not strict definition “confidence” is the polar opposite of “belief”. Confidence is based upon the preponderance of evidence. Belief is based upon a lack of evidence, or very often an ignorance thereof. In many cases a very willful ignorance. In my view, all belief is anathema to science. It is the death of reason.

    Your next several sentences strongly support my thesis. The terms “delusion” and “faith” are synonyms for “belief”. “Confidence” and “evidence” are antonyms of “belief”.

    That would only be so in the context of an abstract debate conducted purely for amusement.

    Oh, nonsense. Any point of debate founded on belief is so much swamp gas. The effective debater provides evidence, strong inferences, and solid physical relationships.

    These are not matters of inconsequential debate!

    You’ve veered off from the point. How consequential the issue may or may not be has nothing to do with how well or properly a proposition is presented. Present an idea based upon expansive, careful research and solid reasoning and you have something of substance. Present something based upon belief and you have Creationism.

  • LR#114

    You seem to be implying mental processes are somehow independent of
    the physics and chemistry of the human brain. You will need to do some
    very fancy explaining to show how that could be the case.

    No I’m not. I’m just saying that the basic physics and chemistry involved are far removed from the point at issue – which is the derivation of the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The latter occur from thought processes that arise via neuronal connections in the brain, which then express themselves through physical actions of the person concerned.

    If we were other than human, then to one extent or another, we would
    think differently – at least in form – and our morality would be
    somewhat different.

    The brain has to be advanced enough (i’e. large in size with a great many neuronal connections) in order to be able to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. As far as I know, the only creature on Earth able to do this is the human being.

    As an example, do you disagree that a species with small numbers of
    offspring who cherishes its children and is reticent to do violence to
    its members is liable to increase its numbers more than one which is
    prone to abandoning its young and killing every member of its species
    it meets?

    I don’t disagree but what you refer to as an apparent ‘moral’ effect in animals is actually a subconscious action which naturally brings about a population increase in that species – i.e. the species exists for that reason. The opposite ‘not caring’ attitude would eventually bring about the extinction of the same.

    I submit destroying a work of art or burning a book is evil. It
    diminishes the worth of the environment.

    It depends on the context of the event. One could argue that burning a valuable book in an extremely cold environment might be necessary if the warmth it produced was life saving! And ‘diminishing the worth of the environment’ can be regarded as ‘evil’ because it negatively affects other humans!

    The bottom line? Evolution does result in moral frameworks.

    Moral is not the right word here. Evolution largely depends on successful adaption to the environment and actions which are self sustaining to the species concerned.

  • Leslie Rhorer #116
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I think we are agreeing on the substance of many points.

    I would reserve it for people who I refer to as “posers”! –

    I might mention at this point I reject the application of labels to people.

    Why? People fit into certain categories with accurate labels!
    I note that you label some people “creationists”,

    Not only is it fundamentally prejudicial, but it is also true prejudice is only possible in a practical sense if one applies labels to people and their actions.

    Just as you are accurately labelling of some people as “creationists”, labelling those who posture as fake experts, can properly be labelled as “posers”. – ie. those dishonestly posing as something whch they are not, in order to fraudulently con an audience into accepting their erroneous views!

    (No offense intended, Dr. Dawkins, I realize labels are very important in biology.) If there is one thing I hate more than rudeness, . . . .

    Exposing a fraud or charlatan to their audience, may be challenged as rudeness or “offensive”, as a hurt to the feelings of the charlatan resenting being exposed for what they are, but for those who value truth over “political correctness”, the offended feelings of a charlatan on exposure of their fraud, are of little consequence and a very low priority!

    or indeed more than anything else, it is prejudice. “Poser” is certainly a label.

    “Poser”, is certainly a label;- an accurate label, and has nothing to do with predjudice when it is based on the evidence of their past history of fraudulent posturing.

    These are not matters of inconsequential debate!

    You’ve veered off from the point.
    How consequential the issue may or may not be has nothing to do with how well or properly a proposition is presented.

    How consequential the issue may or may not be, depends on if the parties involved, take actions on their views and conclusions.
    In this sense, inaction or erronious action, as a result of a valid argument being presented badly, can have dire consequences. – especially in the political arena.

    Present an idea based upon expansive, careful research and solid reasoning and you have something of substance.
    Present something based upon belief and you have Creationism.

    I would agree (particularly in debates involving religion), that the ambiguous word “belief”, is best avoided, except in the context of “faith-belief” without proof.
    The term “confidence in evidence” is better for substatiated views.

    However; unfortunately that is not what the dictionaries say (in definition 3)!

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belief


    Definition of belief
    1 : a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing

    her belief in God

    a belief in democracy

    I bought the table in the belief that it was an antique.

    contrary to popular belief

    2 : something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion : something believed

    an individual’s religious or political beliefs

    ; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group

    the beliefs of the Catholic Church

    3 : conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

    belief in the validity of scientific statements

  • Leslie Rhorer #116
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Just to clarify my above post without making it longer and more complicated:-

    I might mention at this point I reject the application of labels to people.

    Why? People fit into certain categories with accurate labels!
    I note that you label some people “creationists”,

    . . . .and I call-out some charlatans as “posers”!

    That does not mean that I miss your point about the MISUSE of political or religious labels as expressions of prejudice as an excuse for dismissing valid arguments, in using erroneous terms such as:- “Liberal science”, “Warmist science”,”Republican science”, “Jewish science”, atheist science, etc.

  • “Belief” is not a word I like to use or ever apply to myself.

    Good. That very thing was my express request for anyone who debates a True Believer.

    “Belief” implies a conscious decision despite lack of evidence.

    ‘My point exactly.

    You would never ask someone if they believed in trees or horses.

    Oh, yes I would. Rather, I would chastise them for believing trees or horses exist. First of all, there is no way to prove they actually do. Any such proof would rely among other things upon the assumption the First Postulate of Science is true. It simply cannot be established. Even assuming the First Postulate, however, it still does not prevent the possibility both the other observer and myself are suffering a shared hallucination whenever we think we see horses and trees. Finally, it is entirely possible what all of us think are trees, horses, rivers, planets, stars, etc, are actually only a 4 dimensional projection from the surface of a black hole. I say, “Finally” but there are no doubt other possibilities, none of which are suggestive of any reality associated with trees or horses. Although highly speculative, all of these notions are perfectly consistent with modern scientific evidence and hypothesis.

    It is readily apparent

    Pseudo-science alert! ‘Sorry, but that punches one of my alarm buttons. Science is not based upon ready appearances. Leaving aside for the moment the readily apparent facts the Earth is both flat and the center of the universe, the universe itself is anything but readily apparent. One needs only understand the shallowest, most inconsequential realities of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (and I do claim to understand a bit more than that of both disciplines) to realize there is nothing at all readily apparent about the fundamental nature of the universe. Fortunately, science is able to ignore such irrelevancies as being “readily apparent”.

    You only ask people if they believe in things

    What I ask of people is they should not believe in anything. Absorb with skepticism any reported fact, and bear fully in mind further research may completely contradict the fact, or at least modify its value. In fact, the probability in general is rather high. Absorb with equal skepticism any hypothesis aimed at describing and explaining the reported facts, and bear fully in mind further evidence may completely or partly overturn the hypothesis, or it may eventually turn out the apparently valid explanation may be nothing of the sort. Be ready at a moment’s notice to completely throw out everything we thought we understood about some aspect of the universe. Accept scientific inferences only provisionally and understand they are pretty much certain to be wrong in some way. Believe nothing.

    In the case of gods I see no evidence for the existance of any

    Neither do I. A lack of evidence is not necessarily an evidence of lack, however. It is just an imponderable. Emphatically, it says nothing at all for the other side of the argument, either. We just don’t know, period. To my way of thinking, people should have the courage to not only say that, but to own it. Is it likely there is a god? I think probably not, but that is just a guess on my part. I could be wrong. It happens.

    ample logical arguments that they are all man made constructs

    A logical argument is not evidence, and for a scientific model we require evidence. Now, I am not saying you are wrong. I am just saying I don’t believe one way or the other. If you want to speak about some specific gods, there may be some actual evidence one way or the other, and in truth often is. As a corollary to Dr. Hawking’s quote, “If there is a god, there seems to be very little left for him to have done” (from memory, so it may not be 100% accurate), then some proposed deities would seem to be without evidentiary and logical merit. At the very least, there is no reason at all to think they would have done the things they supposedly did, and sometimes very real evidence they did nothing of the sort.

    can not exist due to conflict with the laws of physics.

    That one does not quite work. If we stipulate the presence of an omnipotent being, then by definition that being can modify the laws of physics at will. It is perforce within their capability to modify or abate said laws at any time and for whatever length of time they choose. That gets around any physical improbability related to miracles and the like, but to my way of thinking it exposes an even bigger problem for the Creationists and their kith. Why in the name of Odin would an omnipotent being bother with such piddling means of dealing with ostensibly recalcitrant beings? For that matter, why would he worry about a bunch of sheep herders who wiped their butts with their left hands and drank camel pee? In this huge, illustrious universe, doesn’t he have anything better to do than worry about a 3rd rate planet out in the middle of nowhere? If he is so omniscient, why is he such a lousy engineer, and why does he bother with such pusillanimous methods of retribution? I mean, rain? A burning bush? Really? He can produce nuclear fusion or antimatter annihilation on any scale he likes at ant spot in the universe and he chooses to make it rain and have eight people build a wooden boat? He couldn’t build it for them out of Titanium in the blink of an eye? And why inundate the Earth? Why not just fill the lungs of all those wicked people with water? Selectively killing off the entire human population of the Earth, with a few very special exceptions in an instant is certainly a far more impressive miracle than making it rain. I might add that I really call B.S. when someone claims there were only eight relatively virtuous people on the entire planet 4K years ago.

  • I’m just saying that the basic physics and chemistry involved are far removed from the point at issue

    I never suggested anything to the contrary. Your inference was faulty.

    The latter occur from thought processes that arise via neuronal connections in the brain

    While true, in this context, it matters not whence the process may arise. Any heritable trait or consequent activity that confers a selective procreative advantage or disadvantage to the organisms in a particular environment will provide a mechanism for evolution, and thereby will either increase or decrease within the population. In many cases, it may also increase or decrease the size of the population itself. It is beside the point whether the trait is eye color, bone density, visual acuity, or a tendency to throw feces at one’s opponents. The trait can be simple and dependent upon as little as a single allele, or it may be extremely complex behaviors dependent upon many thousands of DNA sequences coupled with intricate social interaction. If it will be passed on to subsequent generations and confers an environmentally coupled advantage or disadvantage, evolution will act upon it. Morality is every bit as subject to evolution as walking upright or being able to understand mathematics. All three developed through evolution.

    which then express themselves through physical actions of the person concerned.

    If that expression, for instance love, confers an advantage to the progeny of the expressor, and if the ability to express the trait – in the case of love, the existence of an R-complex – can be passed on to said progeny, then over time lovers, all of whom possess the rudiments of an R-complex, will become more and more common. Eventually, creatures will develop who are readily capable of extreme acts of love. Although a bit more complex, and rooted more widely in the prefrontal cortex than simple love, it is no different for morality. Your attempt to separate the phenomenon as being psychological is a red herring. The development of behaviors we consider to be psychological in nature is no less susceptible to evolution than any other trait, provided in environmental context the result of the subsequent behaviors enables members of the population bearing those traits to procreate more or less effectively.

    The brain has to be advanced enough (i’e. large in size with a great many neuronal connections) in order to be able to differentiate between right and wrong

    That is quite specious. No such thing is required, especially not in early development. It does not require sapience or in fact as I demonstrated before, even a brain. You are confusing a behavior with the recognition of a behavior and the conscious performance of a behavior with the same behavior enacted through instinctual processes. It is the results of the behavior which spawns evolutionary processes, not the source of the behavior.

    As ostensibly sapient beings, we are able to deal with symbolic logic. We are also able to recognize particular behaviors as belonging to one category or another. An organism – even a sapient one – does not necessarily have to understand its behavior or recognize anything about it in order to act. The fact I understand the medical and psychological implications of having a separate designated space for waste elimination in no way means a cat cannot posses a natural proclivity for using a litter box without any understanding of its implications, moral or otherwise.

    Long, long ago in our development, we began to develop brains. Those brains allowed us to pass on traits to our young that are too complex to be passed on strictly by the direct expression of DNA sequences. While the brain’s entire purpose was to accomplish what DNA could not do directly, it nonetheless did function within boundaries specified by the DNA. Some abilities and behaviors of the brain itself are determined directly by the DNA. Instincts are to some extent or other hard-coded in the DNA. So is the ability to handle abstract thought. And yes, so is the ability to make moral judgements. How much the judgements themselves are actually hard coded is a matter for discussion and research at great length. None of these existed in their current form in our distant ancestors, however. They developed over time. To the point at hand, creatures developed with behavioral biases toward what we now define to be morality. They were probably not able to distinguish them intellectually, they just had emotional responses associated with the particular activities and situations. A mother bear likely has little or no notion that her behavior is “right” when she viciously defends her cubs. She just does it, and becomes livid if her cubs are threatened. Perhaps in a million years, her descendants will actually make a judgement of her behavior and say it is “right” she defended her cubs with violence, but it would be “wrong” if she had murdered her sister over a bit of food.

    Moral is not the right word here.

    Sure it is. When we undertake to understand morality, we define various moral principals. That is not morality itself, but rather an artifact of sapience. We don’t have to seek to understand morality to sometimes consciously make moral judgements based upon an informal understanding of those principals at some level. That is an artifact of sentience, and can readily be described as an aspect of morality. We do not always think about our actions, however, even subconsciously. We often act based on instinct. One might even argue subconscious activity may be to some extent instinctual. This also quite properly should be described as an aspect of morality. Regardless, at some point in the past, we did not even have the ability to act anything other than instinctually. The progression from that point to the state of affairs we seem to observe today was not a sudden, blinding flash of moral capabilities. It was a slow progression dictated by evolution. If you choose (I don’t) to arbitrarily draw a line somewhere in the past, before which our activities were not moral (despite the fact the activities themselves are precisely the same on either side of the line), but beyond that line they are… well, OK, fine. The point is, the activities themselves (however we may categorize them) developed over time under the direction of evolution, and the subsequent development of moral frameworks was also directed by evolution. The Creationist notion that evolution cannot produce morality is just nonsense.

  • LR#123

    The problem with your argument is that people can dramatically change their ‘moral coding’ through environmental influence. The many recent examples of religious radicalisation that converts an otherwise normal person to commit obscenities suggests that ‘brain washing’ is a reality, and points to instilled ‘good’ intentions learned early on from that person’s parents now being replaced by ‘evil’ ones. This further indicates that human moral behaviour is a largely ‘learned’ attribute rather than an evolutionary one.

  • Leslie Rhorer #116
    Aug 30, 2018 at 10:55 am

    You make a very good point about the mis-use of labels by theist apoligists, science deniers, propagandists etc. but as I point out above, this should not be conflated with labels which are proper descriptions.

    We should also be clear when discussing debates, if we are talking about trying to persuade an individual in a one-to-one discussion, or if we are trying to expose a bigot (who is not open the evidenced reasoning), and who is posing to an aundience.
    In the latter case it is likely that the bigot’s views will be impervious to all attempts a persuation, so the rational option is to write off the attempts to persuade the bigot, and expose their deceptions to the audience.

    One of the commonly used dishonest tricks in debate is to apply labels which have a selection of defininitions – including self contradictory ones, and then cherry pick and swap around the meanings to mislead an audience.
    Political propagandists and theological texts, often coach their audiences to exclusively accept disparaging definitions of key words, (Scientism, theory, environmentalist, evolutionist etc.), and then challenge an opponent to answer yes or no to allegations such as; –
    “Your argument is scientism”! They then dishonestly retrospectively cherry-pick definitions to claim that the opponent has admitted to the disparaging version, OR denied the alternative positive dictionary definition!

    Some of the ambiguous words commonly used for such deceptions are:-

    Scientism:- https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scientism

    Definition of scientism
    1 : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist

    2 : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

    Theory – swapping the common usage with the more rigorous definition of “scientific theory” – in order to elevate some dreamed up notion to parity of with a view firmly supported by multiple sources of scientific evidence, OR:- to down-grade the the scientific evidence to the status of a vague notion.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/just-a-theory-7-misused-science-words/

    The purpose of using these ambiguous terms is to project the ignorant bigotry of the deceiver on to the expert authorities who prodce the evidence debunking the deceiver’s claims.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Projection is the psychological phenomenon where someone denies some aspect of their behavior or attitudes and assumes instead that others are doing or thinking so.
    It is usually seen as the externalisation of a person’s negative traits, placing blame on an outside force such as the environment, a government, a society or other people.

    To an audience which has been coached and indoctrinated in irrational fallacious processes of thinking, it is natural to assume that other people think in the same way they do – because lacking in science education, they have no concept of scientific methodology or rational thought processes.

  • I think we are agreeing on the substance of many points.

    Indubitably.

    Why? People fit into certain categories with accurate labels!

    No, they don’t. Certainly I do not. First of all, human traits, like most phenomena, are not well represented by a Kronecker Delta function in a population, yet a label suggests just that. Rather, at most the range is more likely to be well represented by something like a Gaussian curve or a catenary in the domain of some aspect of humanity. It makes me want to hit someone whenever I hear something like, “Men do this”, or “Women like that”. It’s nonsense. If .000001% of men or women don’t fit the profile, then men or women DON’T do this or like that. Only 99.99999% do. If one happens to be dealing with the 1 person out of a million who doesn’t fit the profile, but assumes they are because “men do” or “women like”, then one is an insufferable creep. In life, and certainly in science, it is very often the one in a million that is important. The rest are often inconsequential.

    You mention bigotry in great, big letters above, but bigotry and labels go hand in hand. Indeed, often the only purpose for a label is either bigotry or else sometimes really bad pseudo-science. People like to stick labels on things so they can deal with them without consideration. Quite some years ago, this young man was trying to make a case for Creationism (although he pretended this was not the case). At one point he whined, “But I have begged you repeatedly to change the definition of entropy [to a better one]!” He did not understand that we surely could swap around labels and define entropy to be something different. Doing so, however, would not change the Second Law. It only meant the Second Law would no longer relate to entropy. Instead, it would relate to “puddingness”, or whatever else we might choose to call the natural log of the number of quantum states in a system. Straw man attacks are entirely a matter of applying some facile, but inaccurate, definition to some process and then attacking the definition, rather than the process. The other day I heard Ken Ham (I think it was) say that one of his professors tried to point out to him a blind cave dweller was an example of evolution. He ranted to the effect, “But that’s not evolution! That removed a trait from a creature. It dodn’t create one.” Of course his outburst was utterly ridiculous. It is an excellent example of evolution at work. Ken Ham feels perfectly justified in his position because he took the label “evolution” and stuck it on some other process only vaguely resembling evolution.

    “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Abso-feaking-lutely. So many people think “rose” is that beautiful thing which smells so sweet. It isn’t. It is just a collection of letters we attach to a number of different sweet smelling things that seem at first glance to be similar. On a side note, I am mightily weary of being blamed for things “men do”, when I would never do any such thing. I don’t treat women badly, and I am not unaware of their feelings. I don’t sit on the couch and drink beer. I don’t watch any sports, either live or on TV. I don’t particularly care to talk about cars or lie about my sexual activities. I don’t consider any of my sexual encounters to have been”conquests”. The list goes on and on.

    I fervently beseech everyone to deal with every other individual as just that: an individual. Ignore their possible association, tenuous or strong, to any minority, ethnic group, religion, gender, sexual orientation, facial structure, hair color, or size and shape of their ding dong, and deal with them expressly on how they behave. Sure, labels are convenient, but neither science nor human relations are convenient. At their very best, labels represent lazy, sloppy work.

    Just as you are accurately labelling of some people as “creationists”

    No, they label themselves that, to their detriment, I might add. By no means are all self-proclaimed Creationists stupid, idiotic blow-hards (yes, I know, those are labels, too, but I am using them for reference, not applying them to some group of people), but by the mere fact they allow the label to be pinned to themselves, they are automatically assumed to be of some particular ilk. To turn the appellation to myself, I am not a theist, an atheist, an agnostic, a True Believer, a non-believer, a scientist, a layman, or any other label some other person might apply to themselves. Any traits or mental processes I might share with them are purely incidental, perhaps even accidental. Frankly, one of the things that sometimes distresses me most is the people who agree with me on one matter or another. Considerations of truth aside, I sometimes really would almost rather they didn’t agree with me.

    The bottom like is many people will inevitably make judgements, moral or otherwise, based strictly upon applied labels, irrespective of how well those labels fit the person, thing, or situation at hand. What’s even worse, labels often fit very poorly, indeed.

    However; unfortunately that is not what the dictionaries say (in definition 3)!

    Yes, but that is not really the point. Many words have multiple, frequently conflicting definitions. My concern here is not the strict definition of “belief”, but rather what the use of the term conveys to various listeners. Note this is in fact related closely to the use of labels. The speaker may not at all intend to mean his notions are not well supported by evidence, but the mere use of the term may cause the listener to infer it to be the case, and once such a conclusion is embedded in the psyche of the listener, it may be very difficult to remove it. Prejudice takes many, many forms, and sometimes it can be most difficult to even recognize it. Nonetheless, I submit it is the case a scientist or other reasonable individual may find themselves fighting prejudice without even knowing it simply because they used the term “believe” when referring to themselves.

    I think they should use it all the time when talking about theology in general and Creationism in particular.

  • The problem with your argument is that people can dramatically change their ‘moral coding’ through environmental influence.

    The fact in no way poses an insurmountable issue for my argument. The fact some trait can itself be modified by an environment in no way of itself removes the trait from evolutionary pressures. All it does it add a previously non-existent feedback element to the evolutionary process. Depending upon the details, it might actually strengthen evolutionary pressures, causing evolutionary change to happen faster than ever. Indeed, I can readily think of an excellent example right off the top of my head: sex. Prior to the introduction of sex, evolution proceeded glacially. After nature invented sex, the fact the organisms’ productivity was interactive in certain respects with the geography of the environment and the topology of the populations helped increase the rate of evolution. Of course, the main reason sex increased the rate of evolution is it also increased the rate of variability of the genome, but environmental feedback was also a factor.

    This further indicates that human moral behaviour is a largely ‘learned’ attribute rather than an evolutionary one.

    There are at least two big problems with your conclusion. First of all, the two are in no way exclusive. Evolution is active regardless of the source of a trait. The Japanese macaques who have learned to bathe in hot springs have a significant advantage over similar populations that have not discovered this ability. They will indeed prosper better than those who have not, at least until the others make the same discovery. Such an advantage may not really be evolutionary, however, since the others possess the same genome as the smart ones, but just haven’t been lucky enough to stumble on the idea. Compared to populations that do not have the ability to make the discovery in the first place, however, it is evolutionary. Our ability to produce and manage fire was the beginning of a population explosion among humans. I don’t know for certain, but if Neanderthal Man was not able to produce fire, then it may be the main reason they are extinct. Assuming it for the moment to be the case, then it doesn’t matter whether the Neanderthals were just unlucky not to make the discovery or whether they were fundamentally unable to learn how because of an issue with their mental machinery, the result was still extinction due to evolutionary pressures.

    The second issue is there is a big difference between the details of a particular moral framework and the existence of one. Now, actually it is possible for evolution to work on either one or both. Remember, too, that evolution in general takes many, many generations to effect significant phenotypical change in a population. During that time, many other mutations may arise, including some within the same locus. Somewhat regardless of the details of certain subsequent frameworks, the evolution of the mental machinery involved with having a framework in the first place can still move forward. That some subsequent frameworks will develop with varying evolutionary impacts is quite expected, actually. At the same time, the fact the frameworks are not entirely static in their internal structure does not necessarily mean there are no evolutionary pressure differences between two different frameworks.

  • LR#127

    The fact in no way poses an insurmountable issue for my argument.

    But there is no testable evidence for your argument – which basically reduces to a belief that you are fond of.

    You are then quick to make an assumption to further your argument (i.e. Neanderthal Man unable to make fire) and wonder whether this might have aided in their extinction. But their is scientific evidence that it knew about fire!

    I cannot prove to you that morals are not an evolutionary trait, and you cannot conclusively show me otherwise, so our discussion here will have limited worth.

    Incidentally, the investigation into the origins of sexual intercourse have focussed on a crude version employed by a species of fish that was alive 385 million years ago.

  • Leslie Rhorer #126
    Aug 31, 2018 at 6:16 am

    It makes me want to hit someone whenever I hear something like, “Men do this”, or “Women like that”. It’s nonsense. If .000001% of men or women don’t fit the profile, then men or women DON’T do this or like that. Only 99.99999% do.

    It makes me want to hit someone whenever I hear something like, “Men do this”, or “Women like that”. It’s nonsense. If .000001% of men or women don’t fit the profile, then men or women DON’T do this or like that. Only 99.99999% do.

    I think what you are objecting to is over-generalisations, but in some absolutiest way.

    There is no rule which says ALL individuals must meet the criteria of a group for a system of classification to cover (most of) a range. Nor is there some rule which says there can be no variation or subsets within a labelled set.

    You mention bigotry in great, big letters above,
    but bigotry and labels go hand in hand.
    Indeed, often the only purpose for a label is either bigotry or else sometimes really bad pseudo-science.

    What you are again trying to sell here is absolutism!

    So bringing this back to reality and separating use from mis-use:-

    You mention bigotry in great, big letters above, but bigotry and labels MAY go hand in hand.
    Indeed, often the only purpose for a label CAN BE either bigotry or else sometimes really bad pseudo-science. –OR to properly identify a group or sub-group sharing specific properties!

    I fervently beseech everyone to deal with every other individual as just that: an individual.
    Ignore their possible association, tenuous or strong, to any minority,

    Why? – When groupings are a key elements of collective and tribalist copied behaviours which frequently charicterise conspiracy groups or irrational behaviours in religious cults?
    Science does not do “ignoring evidence”!

    Just as you are accurately labelling of some people as “creationists”

    No, they label themselves that, to their detriment, I might add.
    By no means are all self-proclaimed Creationists stupid, idiotic blow-hards

    Once again, – there is no reason why subsets cannot exist within groups, or any reason to believe the problems they cause can be tackled without using language which identifies the group, set, or subset, which is causing the problem.

    (yes, I know, those are labels, too, but I am using them for reference, not applying them to some group of people),

    If the cap fits, those it fits should wear it!

    but by the mere fact they allow the label to be pinned to themselves, they are automatically assumed to be of some particular ilk.

    Assumption is the mother of error!
    That is why in science, precise observations, records, and precise definitions are required, stated and consistently applied.

    I think what you are objecting to is over-generalisations, but in some absolutiest way.

    There is no rule which says ALL individuals must meet the criteria of a group for a system of classification to cover (most of) a range. Nor is there some rule which says there can be no variation or subsets within a labelled set.

    You mention bigotry in great, big letters above,
    but bigotry and labels go hand in hand.
    Indeed, often the only purpose for a label is either bigotry or else sometimes really bad pseudo-science.

    What you are again trying to sell here is absolutism!

    So bringing this back to reality and separating use from mis-use:-

    You mention bigotry in great, big letters above, but bigotry and labels MAY go hand in hand.
    Indeed, often the only purpose for a label CAN BE either bigotry or else sometimes really bad pseudo-science. –OR to identify a group or sub-group with specific properties!

    I fervently beseech everyone to deal with every other individual as just that: an individual.
    Ignore their possible association, tenuous or strong, to any minority,

    Why? – When groupings are a key elements of collective and tribalist copied behaviours which frequently charicterise conspiracy groups or irrational behaviours religious cults? Science does not do “ignoring evidence”!

    Just as you are accurately labelling of some people as “creationists”

    No, they label themselves that, to their detriment, I might add.
    By no means are all self-proclaimed Creationists stupid, idiotic blow-hards

    Once again, – there is no reason why subsets cannot exist within groups, or any reason to believe the problems they cause can be tackled without using language which identifies the group, set, or subset, which is causing the problem.

    (yes, I know, those are labels, too, but I am using them for reference, not applying them to some group of people),

    If the cap fits, those it fits should wear it!

    but by the mere fact they allow the label to be pinned to themselves, they are automatically assumed to be of some particular ilk.

    Assumption is the mother of error!
    That is why in science, precise observations, records, and precise definitions are required, stated and consistently applied.

  • I’ve been wondering what it takes for Trump’s approval ratings to finally start tanking. Last December they were 37% but have steadily climbed despite him killing everything he touches. The last two weeks have taken a toll though if you look on fivethirtyeight.com. They had been at 42% approval 52% disapproval so 10 points underwater but today are at 40.3/54.5 so a solid 14 points under. I imagine his disrespect to John McCain and cancelling the pay rise to federal employees haven’t helped. His reasons for the latter are bizarre. He both claims that the economy is in the best shape ever due to his own wonderful leadership but also that the fiscal situation is such they can’t afford pay rises. The total cost of the federal pay rise is only $25 billion. He had no problem affording a $1 trillion tax cut for the mega rich though, a shit load of extra money to the military and his frequent jaunts to Mar-a-Lago and playing golf all the time.

    Of course he thinks federal employees are all part of the imaginary “deep state” which is out to get him. Now after pushback he says he’ll look at the federal pay situation again carefully implying he didn’t bother to do so before cancelling the rises.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.