OPEN DISCUSSION – AUGUST 2018

83

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OPEN DISCUSSION – MAY 2018

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83 COMMENTS

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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”!

  10. 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!

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. 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.”

  14. @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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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….

  17. 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.

  18. 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.”

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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…..

  23. @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!

  24. 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. ;-(

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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” ?

  30. 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

  31. 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/

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. `@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.

  36. 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…

  37. 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)?

  38. 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

  39. 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?

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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…

  49. 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.

  50. 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?

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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!”

  59. 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.”

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

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