Open Discussion – January 2019

Jan 1, 2019

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 – OCTOBER 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – NOVEMBER 2018

Open Discussion – December 2018

98 comments on “Open Discussion – January 2019

  • A very happy new year to all commenters and readers!

    The January 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.

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  • Continuing our discussion about Elizabeth Warren and other potential Democrat candidates, the Independent has a very interesting article today:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/democratic-candidates-us-election-2020-trump-presidential-race-elizabeth-warren-a8706391.html

    It’s a UK paper, but the article appears to have been licensed from the New York Times.

    The authors clearly expect Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to announce their intention to run within the next few weeks, but their analysis goes deeper and gives a good sense of the conflicting priorities and concerns, as well as of the apparent aura of headless-chickenness that seems to be besetting the party in the Trump era.
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  • Marco

    Interesting article. Let’s not underestimate Cory Booker. He has that dynamic kick ass quality and could fit into a good combination with another politician who can fill in some other desirable voter categories.
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  • This seems to reinforce some of the hesitation you were expressing, Laurie:

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/01/03/some-democrats-say-they-lukewarm-warren/go7xxXeduBl9lnRmvNZodI/story.html?s_campaign=bostonglobe%3Asocialflow%3Afacebook

    In the days following Warren’s announcement that she had formed a presidential exploratory committee, many top Democratic activists in New Hampshire said they had concerns about her nascent campaign in more than a dozen interviews with the Globe. 

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  • Hi all,

    I need a book recommendation please.

    I got into a conversation with the young son of the guy we rent a car off in North Cyprus. He was driving us to the airport and is in his early twenties. It was more like talking to an uneducated fifteen year old and I don’t remember how we got into it but soon he was telling me stories of myths and legends that I tried to explain and dismiss. He was very open and seemed to be taking it all in. He even got a little excited about it all and asked me to bring him back a science book. I am stuck on what to get him. I don’t want to baby him but don’t want to get him something that will put him off. Any help would be much appreciated.
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  • Olgun

    If it’s an introduction to scientific/critical thinking you’re looking for, you really could do worse than Richard Dawkins’ A Devil’s Chaplain. It’s one of the books that did most to help me get science – by which I don’t so much mean scientific knowledge (though I did learn a lot along the way) as an understanding of the scientific way of considering questions and why it matters. It was the first science book I’d read that not only taught me some science but also enthused me about science.

    If you find it on Amazon and use the “Look inside” feature, you’ll see a list of chapter headings, though a lot of them are rather poetic, so they’re perhaps not quite as self-explanatory as they might be. But I do remember a chapter that debunks the whole “that can’t possibly be coincidence” claim that we all encounter so often. The book does also tackle religion in places, but not especially head-on, other than to discuss good and bad reasons for believing things …

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Chaplain-Selected-Writings-ebook/dp/B004GHN2ZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546614822&sr=8-1&keywords=dawkins+a+devil%27s+chaplain

    If you’re looking for something that focuses more on religion, while still being packed full of fascinating information without being in any way confrontational, you might like Carl Sagan’s The Varieties of Scientific Experience. 

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Varieties-Scientific-Experience-Carl-Sagan/dp/0143112627/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1546615258&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=carl+sagan+varieties+of+scientific+experience

    Then, of course, there’s Demon-Haunted World, also by Carl Sagan:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dark/dp/0345409469/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546615424&sr=1-1&keywords=carl+sagan+demon+haunted+world

    I expect you’ll get lots of recommendations for that one!
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  • My favourite way to approach science for someone innocent of it, is to be historical. In that way you can be simple without appearing condescending, and you have the drama of personal lives, historical contexts and the roots of why people wanted or needed to know these things. More importantly the process of science is revealed as a never ending sidling up to the truth, that though scientists may sometimes be arrogant science is not.

    John Gribbin, “Science, A history 1543-2001”

    is a frequent recommendation from me.

    Maybe…. maybe even followed up with Jim Al Khalili’s Pathfinders and The House of Wisdom, showing what fed into Gribbin’s History from the Golden Age of Islam and what a fantastic and enlightened heritage he is heir to.

    I can’t fault Marco’s suggestions. The majesty of, and the delight in, the view from science from Dawkins and Sagan can’t be bested.

     
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  • Thank you Marco and Phil.

     

    I might be doing him a disservice but I think even these might be a bit out of his range of language. I am now thinking of getting him a Kindle where he can look up words in an instant. It helped me. I wish I could stick to a budget 🙄. Here’s hoping his children will benefit from it in the future.
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  • Then surely it is “The Magic of Reality” Dawkins that you need?

    Here is the first-listed Amazon review

    A magnificent book. It explains science really well, both for young and old. It’s a book that is being continually dipped into by the whole household, which is the sign of a very good book. I also love the way Dawkins writes. He takes care to make his work understandable; you never seem to come across complicated writing in his work, even though he is often explaining complicated ideas. A masterful writer and a beautiful book, especially with the illustrations by Dave McKean, which only adds to the quality of this publication. A definite buy for anyone interested in science.

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  • “Stardust: supernovae and life, the cosmic connection” by John Gribbin

    It may not be the best choice for your friend.  But it’s an excellent book that deserves to be mentioned in these discussions.
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  • Phil #10

     

    Thanks Phil. That’s the one I think. Saved me the price of a kindle.

     

    Sean #11

     

    Thank you. Added to the list for a probable second round.
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  • (This is in response to Olgun’s post about his friends’ racist attitudes (#11) on the Jerry Falwall Jr. thread (https://www.richarddawkins.net/2019/01/jerry-falwell-jr-cant-imagine-trump-doing-anything-thats-not-good-for-the-country/#comment-235409). Apologies for the length of it – it’s hard to fit my disgust and horror into a short post.)

    For me, the most appalling aspect of the Leave vote and its aftermath is not the economic harm it will do (has already begun to do, in fact), but what it has revealed about the state of British values, the state of British education, the state of British pragmatism. No, that’s wrong: not British. English. Scotland, as you know, voted emphatically against Brexit, and the Scottish government has made it clear, over and over again, that people from elsewhere who choose to make Scotland their home do us a great honour, and that we value their contribution to our economy and our society, and that Scotland wants them to stay. I don’t for one moment make the claim that we don’t also have our share of racists or that everything in the Scottish garden is rosy, but nevertheless, having divided most of my life between England and Scotland, I can definitely confirm that the atmosphere north of the border is very different. Northern Ireland, too, voted clearly against Brexit. Wales voted for – just – but polls show that voters there have changed their minds. The only part of the UK still driving this nightmare forward is England.

    It’s all founded on English Exceptionalism. On a sad little country that once dominated the world and that has not been able to come to terms with the fact that the world has moved on and that in isolation it (England) is wholly insignificant. Where other countries in Europe have embraced the 21st century reality that we are all stronger when we pull together, and have readily accepted that this pulling together inevitably involves some compromises but that what they gain by it far outweighs what they lose, English Exceptionalism merely takes umbrage at it. The English never wanted to be partners in Europe. If they had to be part of it at all, then it had to be as leaders, nothing less. If the EU had a permanent presidency with executive powers and had appointed England to the role, England would have been as happy as Larry. Telling forriners what to do is what God made the English for, after all.

    Just look at this sickening article in today’s Sunday Telegraph (retweeted by the odious Brexiteer ex-Cabinet minister Priti Patel with the words “Absolutely right”):

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/06/britain-must-rediscover-confidence-lead-world-responsible-creating/

    “Without a confident Britain, rooted in history & philosophy, we cannot lead. Patriotism, pride in our past & future, should be the clarion call of 2019 & beyond.”

    You know a country is well and truly screwed when it tells itself that all that is required for its success is “confidence”, “history”, “philosophy”, “patriotism” and “pride”. Not a strong manufacturing base, not a highly educated workforce, not openness to the world, not expert negotiators, not strong action on climate change, not better products, not strong social cohesion, not a circular economy, not even a strong economy. No: patriotism. Pride. Mere Britishness.

    The British Empire lives and reigns in the hearts of English Brexiteers. Enough of this snowflakey partnership malarkey! Enough of this egregious requirement to negotiate and persuade and convince forriners before we can get our own way in absolutely everything! Don’t they know we’re British, for goodness’ sake!! We’ll soon show them what we’re capable of: we’ll open a new military base in the South China Sea! (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/12/29/britain-become-true-global-player-post-brexit-new-military-bases/)

    It is truly pathetic. Shameful. Embarrassing. Or at least, it is to anyone who hasn’t fallen under its spell. The problem is, it is such an all-pervasive message in Britain. Is there another country in the world that fills its TV schedules with endless repeats of war films the way Britain does? Is there another country in Europe that has so determinedly failed to inform its citizens about the EU, what it is for, why it was founded, how it works, what it is responsible, what it is not responsible for? Or another country in Europe that has signally failed to inform its citizens even about itself: how their own country works, how the economy works, what layer of government is responsible for what, how it fits into international organisations such as the UN, NATO, the EU, etc? Britain is a country of know-nothings. Seriously. The majority of Brits have no understanding whatsoever of anything more complex than the goings-on in Albert Square (apologies to non-UK readers: that was a TV soap reference).

    How is it possible that in a country with 11 years’ compulsory education, with regular elections, with two public service broadcasters and a free press, the majority of the electorate is still stuck with the sophistication of a class of kindergarten kids when it comes to politics, current affairs, world affairs, etc? How is it possible that two-and-a-half years after a referendum on the EU, which itself followed a ten-week campaign period and 43 years of actual membership, most Brits still know bugger all about the EU? (A recent letter to the New European newspaper listed the reasons for voting Leave that had been given in phone-in programmes over the last few months: “The EU banned mothballs”; “The EU have closed our public toilets”; “I don’t want to drive on the right-hand side of the road”; “I want to keep the pound”; “I want to stop European football on TV”; “We can have fish and chips in newspaper again”; and, rather spectacularly, “The Council have changed the days our bins are collected”. I campaigned for Remain in the run-up to the election and I can confirm that these are absolutely typical of the standard of the responses from people planning to vote Leave. That and wanting to give David Cameron a kick in the pants.) “How is it possible?”, I ask, but IMO the answer is it’s no accident. Clearly it has suited successive politicians and press barons to keep the electorate in the dark.

    We live in a state that has drenched us in Empire and World War and “I vow to thee my country” and god knows what else; and has simultaneously failed utterly to provide us with any real knowledge or understanding of how the country or the EU or the world work, creating a huge mismatch between our self-image and our actual abilities and status. A state that has wholly failed to live up to the requirements and responsibilities of the 21stcentury. How could racism fail to thrive in such carefully tended soil? What more perfect recipe for racism could there possibly be than nationalism + ignorance on a grand scale? To escape it requires someone to have actively sought out information, experience, other perspectives; to challenge, to question; to be open to otherness; and to have equipped themselves to see through the toxic headlines in the Daily Mail, the Express, the Telegraph, the Sun.

    And it helps if people have a sense of existential security: confidence in their ability to thrive (at best) and feed and home themselves and their families (at least), confidence that support will be there should they need it as a result of unemployment or sickness or old age, confidence in properly funded police services and healthcare; and a general sense of solidarity and equity in society – everything that a decade of Tory austerity and callousness has quite deliberately stripped away.

    The rot goes so deep that I now truly believe the UK is utterly unfit for the 21stcentury. And I think the changes that are urgently needed – to everything: our voting system, the whole way Parliament functions (or doesn’t), the way the economy functions, taxation, public schools, state schools, press regulation, the whole damn system intended to perpetuate the endless cycle of privilege and wealth begetting yet more privilege and wealth, and, importantly, the values underlying all of that – … I think the changes we need are so dramatic and so all-encompassing that we basically need to chuck the whole damn lot away and start again. But that would be so wholly anathema to the politicians and the press barons and the tax dodgers and the corporate bloodsuckers alike, that it simply won’t ever happen. Nothing remotely like it will ever happen. No real, fundamental reform of any kind will ever happen. The UK will continue to limp on, an increasingly lonely 19thcentury throwback in an increasingly joined-up world. Britain lost its empire in the first half of the 20th century, and its continued refusal to internalise and adjust to that fact means it’s now well on track to lose everything else in the first half of the 21st.
     

     
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  • Marco #14

     

    I remember all you say above being a fluffy joke about the English once.

     

    I am almost sure it is against this sites rules and probably not a wise thing to do but, I would have liked to have posted a FB page of a former work mate of one of the friends at our get togethers. She is English and comes up on my wall because, guess what, she has a house in North Cyprus and belongs to a page I am admin on. She is a Romford woman were I would guess Brexit is rife. My honest response is that it scares me. Her latest post to say she had just bought a new car and it was British. She added the ‘buy British’ slogan at the end. Reflects the whole Brexit mentality. It has no history to show reliability and I won’t bother to find out what the real cost is going to be but ‘buy British’.

     

    I do want to say that I have no intention of painting all English people with that brush. It has no class structure either. I found that out when I met my wife and met some of the people she worked with in the city (London).

    I have met some wonderful people as I have grown up doing my trade. An elderly man always comes to mind first. My being Turkish Cypriot didn’t matter to him. He too had been an electrician in his day and all he cared about was being nice and encouraging me to carry on by giving me his mostly obsolete old rusty tools. He was what I expected English people to be like. I’m glad I met him.
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  • Olgun,

    No, of course not all English people are like that. Nevertheless, it is an English issue rather than a Scottish one, or a Northern Irish one, or even a Welsh one.

    And even more than anything else, it’s about the attitudes of the people at the top: the beneficiaries of the self-perpetuating cycle of ever-increasing wealth and power. All the recent polls point to Brexit opinion having turned around, and there now being a majority of people in favour of a second vote and also in favour of Remain. The huge YouGov poll published yesterday (which polled a massive 25,000 people) also asked whether control of EU immigration was more important than keeping free trade with the EU, and only 31% responded that it was. 49% said it wasn’t, and 20% didn’t know.

    So opinion is on the move, even in England, and it is the politicians who are still beating the jingoistic drum.

    Nevertheless, England (I’m generalising, of course) has some incredibly deeply ingrained, deeply unhelpful, deeply anachronistic attitudes. And they keep being reinforced because it suits those with the power to reinforce them.
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  • Marco

     

    It is an English one I agree. There are a mix of races in North Cyprus these days. Hell of a lot of Russians. Still the ones having trouble integrating are the English at most. It’s not even really about integration. It’s about smugness. I watch a Russian having a conversation with a native and it looks friendly, level. The same conversation with an English person looks disconnected and temporary.

     

    The tainting of all English people was just a disclaimer from me.  I didn’t want to sound like a rabid English hater. Some of your comments in the first post even offended my Britishness and my love of English people 😁
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  • Olgun,

    I despair of England, and now that it’s inflicting the consequences of its own sense of Exceptionalism on at least 2 other countries in the UK that simply do not share it, I am furious with it too. But its faults lie with the system, not the people. The people are the product of a lifetime of conditioning.

    But there is no doubt in my mind that, however likeable individual English people may be, England, the system, is not fit for the 21st century and is in urgent need of far-reaching reform. The country is a mess.

    I write as someone who is technically English, though these days I am highly reluctant to draw attention to the fact and prefer to think of myself as Scottish.
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  • Marco

     

    I blame historians. Someone posted about “Ottoman Turkish History” on our FB page, a couple of months ago, claiming this and that. I asked if Ottomans were Turkish and got torn to bits. 😁
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  • I see that pseudoscientists who have acquired academic employment, are being given a platform at the Indian Science Congress, so this body looks like its science credentials are going down the pan!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-46778879

    Scientists in India have hit out at speakers at a major conference for making irrational claims, including that ancient Hindus invented stem cell research.

    Some academics at the annual Indian Science Congress dismissed the findings of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

    Hindu mythology and religion-based theories have increasingly become part of the Indian Science Congress agenda.

     
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  • Here in India we have people who are really smart stupid people. Who belives hindu mythalogy as true. They would claim that hindus invented air vehicles, nuclear weapons, researched stem cells and belives the test tube baby technology really existed.

    And with the BJP govt those people are making their claim with pride.

    The fundamentals of Hinduism is Vedas which clearly divides the people into four types priest, kings, traders, servants. And then there is untouchables, unseekable and so on (which still continues on).

    Hindusim is pure myth as much as very other religion is(you could relate it with Greeks gods).  And i think Hinduism is the only religion which discirmates their own followers itslelf for more that 2500 years.

     
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  • @Madu balan. Vedas do not divide people into categories for discrimination. Vedas are scriptures of philosophies which are very complex to understand if you read them by your own. The Varna system basically tells human beings how to live their lifes based on their professions.

    For example, the Brahmin class means priestly class who had the responsibility of preserving Vedas and Upnishads. So, basically they were carriers of knowledge because of which they had a high status in the society. The diet prescribed to them was vegetarian diet because they did not do any physical labour. They only consumed vegetables,fruits or milk products because this diet helps in memory development. Only in Bengal you see the Brahmins eat fish because Bengal suffered from a lot of famines in the past and being a coastal state, fish was easily available.

    The Kshatriya class means the rulers or aristrocrats who were basically royal, meaning protecting and rulling their respective kingdoms. The kshatriyas could eat meat only when they are traveling in forest for days when they have to survive wild.

    The Vaishya class is the businessman class and the shudra class is the labourer or workers. They were not forced to eat only vegetarian, but it mainly depends on the place. North Indians were mainly vegetarian, whereas coastal states like Goa,Kerala,Bengal,Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh and some other states ate fish because it was available.

    Each class is essantial for the functioning of the society. There was no superior or inferior in this hierarchy. But as we all know how the human tendency is, some of the brahmins, being the knowledge bearers, became proud and arrogant and used their status for their own selfish deeds. The untouchables that you said are Shudras but they did jobs like sewage cleaning and garbage collection. Unfortunately they were not paid  or given wages and they suffered a lot. Their condition was so bad they were forced to eat dead cows or animals on the street. Seeing them eat dead animals, people maintained a social barrier with them in the past. Even now they are suffering but not as much as they did in the past.

    Indians before vedic civilization were nomads when they came from Africa. They learned about agriculture afterwards as time progressed. When the Vedic civilization began, people had realized how to live their lives and what are the responsibilities they had. So, the well developed kingdoms were strictly vegetarian as they realized consuming too much meat makes them more animal like.

    Smritis like Manu Smriti was later developed which were strict guidelines to be followed. The thing about you inheriting caste from your parents is a wrong understanding of the Vedas. The word Caste is a Portuguese word, which is not the same as Varna. Varna depends on your profession.
    Some nice examples are, Chandragupta Maurya who was not born royal. He was trained by Chanakya and later on went on to become a king. Famous rishis like Kalidas and Valmiki were not born Brahmin as well.

    As for cows, Cow is like a mother for the Hindus. When a cow gives birth to a calf, cow produces excess milk so once it feeds the calf, we can use the remaining milk for drinking or making various milk products. When a woman is unable to breastfeed her child, cow’s milk could be used as an alternative(not 100% of them of course since the child could be lactose intolrent). Bull can be used in the fields. Cow is a kind animal and is a pet for many people. Cows feel pain when someone in the family dies. Animal agriculture demands doing agriculture first to produce crops for feeding animals and after that the cattle is slaughtered for meat. Animal agriculture is indeed unsustainable and hence was never promoted in the past.

    I’ll add more later.
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  • One of the most eye-opening books I’ve read in the last year or so was Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire, about the depredations of the British in India.

    Of course most of us are aware that the Empire was intended and managed as a massive exercise in removing wealth from the colonies and transferring it to Britain, but even so, the sheer extent of the rapaciousness, the boundless greed, the brutality, and the utter callousness where the welfare of the Indians themselves was concerned was deeply shocking.

    The cynicism too, and I’ve been reminded of it by the discussion about India’s castes, above. Tharoor’s book shows how the Raj quite deliberately and even overtly (i.e. they documented it) adopted a policy of divide and rule in India. Tharoor makes no claim that everything in the Indian garden was rosy before the Brits turned up: of course castes existed and of course Hindus and Muslims weren’t always the best of friends. But for all that, he describes a pre-Raj India in which those divisions were actually, to a certain extent, reasonably fluid. Naturally, Indian society wasn’t organised along Western lines (why should it have been?), but nevertheless, on the whole and despite some inevitable exceptions, it functioned reasonably cohesively.

    Then along came the Brits and for two reasons – firstly, their policy of divide and rule, in order to make it harder for a united pro-independence movement to gather steam; and secondly, the utter ignorance and lack of interest of the British civil servants tasked with managing huge swathes of the country – rigidly cemented those divisions. The British bureaucracy in India was gargantuan. They kept numbers and statistics on everything. Censuses rigidly identified which religion and which caste Indians belonged to, and then the British equally rigidly implemented measures to cement those categorisations, not just keeping Hindus and Muslims apart so far as humanly possible, but the different castes too … thereby giving the divisions an energy and an impact they hadn’t previously had, and actively creating a sense of a rigidly divided and disunited country that simply hadn’t been there on anything like that scale before.

    The book goes into far more detail, of course, with citations. It hasn’t been written as an academic textbook and I gather that Jon Wilson’s India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire covers much the same ground and arrives at very similar conclusions, but in a rather more dispassionate manner. All the same, it’s fascinating, in a horrifying kind of way, and an important read. The chapter on famines under the Raj is particularly damning. 
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  • Jan 12, 2019 at 7:57 am
    23
    Shrinath Arolkar says:

    Vedas do not divide people into categories for discrimination. 

    But if discrimination is the end result then how could we defend it?

    Vedas are scriptures of philosophies which are very complex to understand if you read them by your own.

    This statement is said by every devout believer about their own preferred scriptures when they are challenged. To tell the truth, I find nothing challenging about any sacred writing I’ve come across except when they intentionally obfuscate for the purpose of creating dependency in the flock. Honestly, if they’re so complex then what good are they? It’s probably just bad writing that has compounded down through the ages. And by the way, don’t you feel a twinge of condescension in the assertion that you are capable of understanding the writings but most others are not?

     

    The Varna system basically tells human beings how to live their lifes based on their professions.

    How is that a good thing?!! Why should anyone go along with that?! I pity anyone who is assigned a life based on their profession. This is mind slavery. A revolution is needed just to correct this one utterly restrictive imperative if for nothing else.

     

    The thing about you inheriting caste from your parents is a wrong understanding of the Vedas. The word Caste is a Portuguese word, which is not the same as Varna. Varna depends on your profession.

    You are really splitting hairs here. I suspect that you are waving your arms and promising that a caste is not a caste and we need you to explain the subtitles of this sensible system so we will see the beauty in the end. The whole thing stinks of authoritarian rigidity.

    For example, the Brahmin class means priestly class who had the responsibility of preserving Vedas and Upnishads. So, basically they were carriers of knowledge because of which they had a high status in the society. The diet prescribed to them was vegetarian diet because they did not do any physical labour. They only consumed vegetables,fruits or milk products because this diet helps in memory development. 

    It’s not unusual for members of a religion or philosophy or any other ideology to impose culinary restrictions on the members as the price of membership or as a type of sacrifice that members rally around as part of their own self image. Muslims and Jews decry pork. Fasting is admired in Christianity (Lent) and Islam (Ramadan). And of course, the hindus have their obsession with vegetarianism. When we recognize these arbitrary restrictions and control devices for what they are, they lose their spiritual other worldly appeal and come to recognized for what they are; the price of group membership.

    As for cows, Cow is like a mother for the Hindus

    Errr…I don’t see it. This is in your head because it’s been installed there when you were a child. Silly ideas like this don’t deserve respect.

    When a cow gives birth to a calf, cow produces excess milk so once it feeds the calf, we can use the remaining milk for drinking or making various milk products.

    Do you think that cows just naturally produce milk for their calves and a whole extra quantity out of the goodness of their hearts? And thank god(s) that humans are around to relieve the poor cows of all this excess milk. What would they do without us?!

    Actually, that’s not how breasts work. The amount of milk produced by a breast is directly related to demand made on it by the offspring. Those cows are producing much more than they need for their calf because humans are draining off a large quantity of the milk she produces and causing the cow to produce much more than she really needs. Production of milk is a metabolically expensive process that is a great burden on the cow.

    Cows feel pain when someone in the family dies. 

    What?! How do you know that? This is a statement that can be proven with evidence. Do you have evidence? Perhaps humans project their own grief onto the poor oblivious cow. Ever thought of that?
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  • How is that a good thing?!! Why should anyone go along with that?! I pity anyone who is assigned a life based on their profession. This is mind slavery. A revolution is needed just to correct this one utterly restrictive imperative if for nothing else.

    No-one is assigned a life based on their profession. What I meant was there is a certain lifestyle that the person should follow if he has to do a task. Since Brahmins, for example, had the task of preserving the vedas and not do any physical labour, it was obvious that they were not supposed to eat stuff that would give them a strong toned body. The lifestyle was not forced down upon anyone but was prescribed. Nowadays, people around the world dont take care of their lifestyle while doing their work and it only hurts them. People in ancient India used to do yoga regularly after waking up and then they used to begin with their work.

    Errr…I don’t see it. This is in your head because it’s been installed there when you were a child. Silly ideas like this don’t deserve respect.

    Most of the India is rural and since I was born and brought up for a while in a village, I used to be around cows. Cows are like pets for us and we loved grazing the cows on farm. Cows are so cute and innocent if you look at them. We respect various other things besides cows as well.

    Do you think that cows just naturally produce milk for their calves and a whole extra quantity out of the goodness of their hearts? And thank god(s) that humans are around to relieve the poor cows of all this excess milk. What would they do without us?!

    Indian cowherds(not the big animal factories which artificially inseminates cows and do all tortures to them) raise their cattle as their own children. I do not support those who forcefully impregnates a cow. Cows once they get impregnated would then be taken care of by feeding them properly. I do not understand why do you look at all this through your perspective. People in India shows their respect towards a ton of things.

    What?! How do you know that? This is a statement that can be proven with evidence. Do you have evidence? Perhaps humans project their own grief onto the poor oblivious cow. Ever thought of that?

    I don’t think I have to give any evidence regarding this. If you ever had the luxury of living in Indian villages or farmer’s home, you can see it.

     

    I just want to say that people in cities or people living outside India never understand the ancient culture. As far as being obsessed with vegetarianism, it is much better than slaughtering animals for your own taste.

    Sanskrit is a language whose 95% literature is not religious and unfortunately many Sanskrit words dont have exact translations in English. The word Varna is not the same as the word Caste.
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  • …I don’t think I have to give any evidence regarding this. If you ever had the luxury of living in Indian villages or farmer’s home, you can see it…

    One more piece of evidence showing that the scientific and religious views of the world are indeed fundamentally incompatible.
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  • @LaurieB What I am saying is instead of asking other people and just reading stuff about India, which will give a biased perspective(good and bad), just travel to India and experience the culture yourself. Most of the things are exaggerated in news,articles. If india is so dangerous to live, non Hindus would have left India as refugees in other countries, but infact many minorities in neighbouring countries of India are coming to India

    I once thought that most of the Americans are dumb, hardcore Christians. But I realised that’s not exactly how it is. Unfortunately atheists  are still discriminated in some of the states. Congressman who are actually atheists can’t proclaim their non belief.

    If you know about India, India had a Muslim president (Late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam), a female president (Mrs. Pratibha Patil) and the current president is a dalit (the so called untouchable, which is no longer the case in majority places in India), Mr. Ramnath Kovind.
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  • @Shrinath Arolkar

    Really?. If you say in varna system there is no discrimination, then why did karuna was cursed by his guru?.

    Why a job of person should be fixed just becuase he was born in certain varna. ? Isnt that his choice. ? You can take example from epics that all it said was that son of servant is servant, son of king will be prince, son of brahmin is brahmin.

    If you believe that Vedas actually limited food choice of brahmins. Read the book “the myth of holy cow” it supported every statement with eveidence . And that book actually claims that jains, buddist, hindus actually ate meat which includes beef.

    And Hinduism started to adopt vegetarianism after the buddism started to criticise hindusim for its consumption of meat. Evidenec is available in that book itself.

     

    Who said that brahmins are barred from physical work. The guru of karnun was brahmin and he teaches archery to karunan.

    Actually harappan civilization was not vedic. Only nomads from present day iran brought vedic civilization, so does Sanskrit, varna system, vedas. Even DNA evidences suppourt it.

    https://www.indiatoday.in/amp/magazine/cover-story/story/20180910-rakhigarhi-dna-study-findings-indus-valley-civilisation-1327247-2018-08-31

    But sitll hindu nationalist for their own propanganda is denying it.

    Well I don’t belive in stories of valmiki and all others as much as I dont believe in Mahabharatam, ramanyram. Because you can see all their stories will actually have some kind of supernatural things.

    Speaking of in ancient india cow was slaughtered. You can find example that book which I mentonied earlier or aracelogical evidence

    :http//beef.sabhlokcity.com/2013/07/archaeological-evidence-of-beef-eating-in-india-indus-valley-vedic-period-etc/

     

     
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  • @Shrinath Arolkar

    Hey we actually have large numbers of cows in our village. And i am saying that they won’t express it on that way you are saying.

    If it cant express i am agonistic  about its feeling.

    Yeah rohinag muslim refugees are coming to India. And what does our govt is doing now , deporting them and introducing the bill to call a person who is living in India for 70 years as non-indian. This is happening in the same govt which makes A.P.J (muslim) as president of our country.
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  • Why a job of person should be fixed just becuase he was born in certain varna. ? Isnt that his choice. ? You can take example from epics that all it said was that son of servant is servant, son of king will be prince, son of brahmin is brahmin.

    As I mentioned before.

    Some nice examples are, Chandragupta Maurya who was not born royal. He was trained by Chanakya and later on went on to become a king. Famous rishis like Kalidas and Valmiki were not born Brahmin as well.

     

    Speaking of in ancient india cow was slaughtered. You can find example that book which I mentonied earlier or aracelogical evidence.

    And I never said our ancestors were pure vegetarian at that start. Agriculture was later on adapted and vegetarianism was then followed. But if anyone is promoting vegetarianism now how harmful is it for the world?

    Only nomads from present day iran brought vedic civilization, so does Sanskrit, varna system, vedas. Even DNA evidences suppourt it.

    If you really believe in Aryan invasion theory, then I do not think it is worth arguing. Fine, believe whatever you want.

     
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  • Well I don’t belive in stories of valmiki and all others as much as I dont believe in Mahabharatam, ramanyram. Because you can see all their stories will actually have some kind of supernatural things.

    Ramayana and Mahabharat are classified as itihaas(history) and they actually happened. You should know that Indian culture is associated with story tales. It was not easy to explain it to any ordinary place, so the best way to explain it was story telling. Unfortunately this also means a lot of information was lost. Evidence for ramayana and Mahabharata exists and places outside India are mentioned as well. Gandhar kingdom in Mahabharata is present day Kandahar in Afghanistan.

    India is the land of symbolism, and everything does not appear straightforward. When you do not realize something, you just do not say it is false or stupid.

    As far as politics, if you think any party other than BJP is actually worth right now then you very well vote for them. Nationalism is indeed needed right now, looking at all the current circumstances. Rohingya muslims are not that innocent as you think they are. Just imagine Buddhists use violence to tell them to leave. And even in India, where they had settled they started killing the local people. The citizenship bill is something that even I am not 100% agreed, but considering many minorities(hindus,christians,buddhists) from Pakistan and Bangladesh are suffering there, it is better they live peacefully here.

    Anyways I don’t want to take this discussion further.

     

     
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  • I see that pseudoscientists who have acquired academic employment, are being given a platform at the Indian Science Congress, so this body looks like its science credentials are going down the pan!

    @Alan4Discussion… I saw your message right now.
    I 100% agree with what you said. It is so frustrating how people make such claims without any evidence. If there is any evidence, then you can make a claim.
    I know that surgery was performed in India without Anesthesia and it is given in Sushruta Samhita, but any other claims don’t have strong evidence.
    When I heard one minister saying “Evolution should not be taught in schools because it is difficult to understand how monkey turned to human”, it really pissed me off.

    Narendra Modi might have got carried by emotions, but he is the only person who can lead India right now. I am sorry but other options like Mamta Banerjee, Mayavati or Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi are not good alternatives.

    Overall, India should invest more in R&D.

     
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  • Shrinath Arolkar #29

    What I am saying is instead of asking other people and just reading stuff about India, which will give a biased perspective (good and bad), just travel to India and experience the culture yourself. 

    I have travelled to India. 

    There was much that was wonderful, beautiful: the peace, tranquility and beauty of the national parks; the exquisite palaces; strange (to western eyes, anyway) and fascinating architecture (Orchha, for instance, was magnificent); the food; and the simple experience of being immersed in a completely different culture.

    But there was also much that appalled. I won’t dwell on the constant noise and crowds in the cities: I am particularly sensitive to both so perhaps other visitors wouldn’t find them as distressing as I did. And of course, I was expecting to witness appalling poverty, and had already done so in other developing countries. All the same: the sheer size of India, the sheer numbers of people affected, the sheer extremity of the poverty and the hideous lengths destitute families had been driven to in order to try to survive it (those children I saw pulling themselves along the ground with their hands, their legs broken so that they protruded sideways from the hip with immobile knees permanently bent the wrong way had not been, physically could not have been, born like that) made the Indian form of it particularly overwhelming. 

    But the very worst thing about it – and this is what connects it with Hinduism, in my view – was the the unquestioning acceptance of poverty and squalor, the total passivity in the face of it, both on the part of the poor themselves and the most definitely not-poor. The simple passive acceptance of the existence of hunger, filth, preventable disease, huddled masses sleeping on every pavement, child mortality, countless millions of people whose every ingenuity, talent, skill has had to be devoted to the mere basic act of keeping themselves alive rather than to contributing to the benefit of the country of the whole.

    This passivity in the face of searing poverty, this acceptance, is the real scandal. For India is a wealthy country, with massive natural resources and an inventive, entrepreneurial population with a huge range of skills (or the ability to acquire them); it has a highly educated elite, a rapidly growing economy, some of the world’s wealthiest billionaires. It has a space programme, it has a nuclear programme and it has some world-class hospitals. 

    And while I accept Shashi Tharoor’s argument that the legacy of the British Empire has in many ways hampered India’s development since independence, there is simply no excuse for a country with India’s assets to have such vast numbers of its people living in squalor, on what look like landfill sites, rummaging through the rotting waste for scraps to eat, babies sitting and playing among the human excrement. No excuse for a country with the wealth and skills to launch a Mars Orbiter Mission, not to provide proper sanitation and sewerage – or even a refuse collection service – for all its population. And by the way, I am not suggesting India should not have a space programme; I am simply saying that it should be urgently taking direct action to address the appalling mass poverty of its people as well. So why isn’t it?

    “You’ve got to admire their faith,” one of the other people on my tour said to me one day. His reasoning: that the people were so poor, had nothing, lived in unimaginable squalor and yet accepted it cheerfully, this cheerful acceptance made possible by their trust that this was just an unavoidable part of their spiritual journey and that things would be different in another life.

    “And that,” I told him, “is precisely why I can’t admire it.” 
     

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  • @ #30.

    You must have seen how sad a dog becomes when it realises it’s owner has died. Cows literally sheds tears and sometimes refuses to eat. Just check on net or come to India and experience it.

    First, the focus of my argument was not on cow (or dog, for that matter) psychology, but on your reply when you were asked to provide evidence to your claim about cow psychology, and its bearing on the issue of whether science and religion are compatible.

    Your reply was: “I don’t think I have to give any evidence about this. If you ever had the luxury of living in Indian villages or farmer’s home, you can see it.” Any scientist who provided a reply of that kind to a request for evidence in support of her/his hypotheses would have to look for a new job in very short order.

    Second, if you really are convinced to have solid evidence to support your cow-psychology claim, you should submit it for publication in a high-ranking, peer-reviewed scientific journal. If your article were to be accepted for such publication, then you could indeed claim that there is some evidence for your claim.

    Good luck.

     
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  • Alan #20

    The ubiquitousness of superstition masquerading as science was something else I struggled with during my trip to India. Our guide was a Hindu who repeatedly made the most outrageous claims – though I have to add that the claims were swallowed wholesale by far too many of my travelling companions (all from the West).

    For example, Jantar Mantar in Jaipur was billed as an ancient astronomical observatory, but it turned out that any astronomical information gleaned was and is used purely for the purposes of astrology. It did a roaring trade in “accurate horoscopes” – and no fewer than three of the people in our group phoned home – from India – to check their exact time of birth so as to get the most “accurate” horoscope possible. One of them was subsequently hugely impressed when her horoscope informed her she had trouble with her back, and another that her horoscope told her she was experiencing digestive problems.

    Best of all, our guide told us about a Hindu custom of holding a pitcher of water up to the rising sun and tipping it so that the water fell to the earth. According to our guide, the sun’s rays reaching the person through the water acted as a kind of laser eye surgery, which is why “Indians don’t have problems with their eyes” (exact quote). A few days later, another tour member (one of those who had fallen for the astrology in Jaipur), ran out of cleaning fluid for her contact lenses and got into a real tizz because Indians don’t get eye problems so there wouldn’t be anywhere she could buy some more. Imagine her astonishment when she discovered that, actually, opticians do exist in India and she had no difficulty finding the cleaning fluid …

    The same woman also purchased a small leather purse with a symbol on it, telling me the symbol represented “om”, which was “the sound of the universe”. She stopped talking to me when I asked her how she knew.

    Superstition finds fertile ground where there is no knowledge and no critical thinking. But that description really shouldn’t apply to a scientific conference …
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  • Hello all,

    I am from India. Here there have been recent frenzy about science in vedas and speakers at a science event have made ridiculous comments trying to refute the likes of Einstein and Newton in favour of scientific knowledge in scriptures. Here’s the link if you are interested:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46778879

    Some years ago, I used to get confused by all these kinds of claims. But over the years, thanks to people that Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins etc, my thoughts have cleared through and I feel very nice to be a non – religious guy. I have read ‘Magic of Reality’ by Richard Dawkins and I am now reading his other book – ‘The God Delusion’. I think Richard is very crisp, clear and concise in communicating his thoughts. I have almost become like a fan of him and I absolutely agree with most of the things he says. I also agree with his view that we can be moral without the help of religion.

    Recently, I have come across something called ‘Humanism’ that emphasized the idea of human agency and being ‘good without God’. But I have lack of idea which books should I read to satisfy my appetite of knowing things like – how science works, characteristics of science that distinguishes its from pseudoscience, how to lead a good and moral life without religion or God, atheism, securalism, agnosticism. Please give me some recommendations.

    Also please recommend some popular science that are worth reading. So far, I have loved the interview and books of Richard Dawkins.
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  • @#36

    It is indeed sad how poor people especially in the cities live their lives. Up until 2000s, many rural villages in India did not even have 24*7 electricity. One of the worst things here is law enforcement is poor. Police are corrupt thanks to the politicians. Certain laws mentioned clearly in the constitution has been violated. It is sad but things are changing slowly, as the current government has brought many schemes for uplifting the poor. But the awareness is not done in many places and this always hurted people.

    In many places, people vote for candidates not because of their qualifications and expertise but rather the candidates will give them some money later. It is really sad that some people do not want to work but want free money for nothing.

     
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  • @#38

    Indians are very supersitious. Many of them are. It is sad that people just boast about their past but they cannot even give a concrete evidence. But I guess everyone boasts about something and of course we cannot tell people to stop boasting.

    The truth is most of the Indians will say we have done this and that but they would not be able to give you any evidence. But trust me, some people are working hard to understand the Indian culture and its past. Let’s hope we will find some positive things.
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  • @ #40

    A very recent paper on the topic.

    Very good literature-review article. It provides evidence to support the idea that cow psychology is likely more complex than previously thought.

    Nonetheless, nothing in that article suggests (nor was implied by the authors) that cows have anything like the ability to comprehend their own death, or that of another cow, let alone the death of a human caretaker.
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  • Olgun #45

    There is a body of evidence to show that cows experience real distress when

    a) a member of their herd disappears

    and especially

    b) when one of their calves is removed.

    I’ve just picked this article pretty much at random, but I’ve seen numerous articles to this effect over the last few years: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/animal-emotions/201711/cows-science-shows-theyre-bright-and-emotional-individuals

    However, this does not make them in any way unique. The same can be said of sheep (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230851712_Animals'_emotions_Studies_in_sheep_using_appraisal_theories) and pigs (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/pigs-exhibit-complex-emotions-claims-study-2037318.html) and a number of other animals.

    As soon as you have an animal that lives in a group of some sort, you pretty much have the emotions that go with that style of living. I’m not suggesting they necessarily experience the full range of emotions, in all their depth and nuance, that humans do, but all the research points to their being far more sentient than we have traditionally assumed.

    Elephants, though, appear to be the most emotional of all, even going so far as to hold a kind of funeral rite for their dead friends/relatives: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/echo-an-elephant-to-remember-elephant-emotions/4489/

    However, while these findings certainly create an obligation to take these animals’ ability to suffer into account and to treat them accordingly, there is nothing in any of this that makes them sacred or deserving of worship. It’s just life, the law of nature, call it what you will.
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  • Olgun and Marco,

    Obviously there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that individuals of many large-brained non-human species (mostly vertebrates) have subjective feelings, including suffering and other emotional experiences. Most behavioral scientists accept that nowadays.

    Nonetheless, using personal (“I’ve seen a cow cry…”) and folk (“farmers in India say that…”, “there is a video on youtube showing…”) anecdotes to suggest that cows might actually have subjective experiences of real (i.e., human like) grieving for the death of a member of another species, definitely does not cut it – if anything, that is good evidence of anthropomorphism at work.
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  • Marco #46

    We rented a cottage on a working dairy farm when our boys were young. A couple of nights into our holiday, we heard a cow that sounded in distress. We got our torches and went to investigate and found a cow standing the other side of a gate howling at the moon. The farmer saw our torch light and came out. He told us not to worry. Cows always did this when they were separated from their young. He said it usually last just one night then all goes back to normal again. Seems more like more primitive switches being switched on and then off again when whatever chemical is depleted. It doesn’t need emotion as such but symptoms of. Is it a step, lower than humans, in empathy. Group feel? I am thinking that when an animal sounds the alarm for its group, the others just need to respond to that alarm and not necessarily have empathy for the one sounding the alarm. This could then evolve to the level humans feel/understand.

     

     

    Sorry if a little muddled. I am only just putting it together myself .
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  • Marco #38

    …The same woman also purchased a small leather purse with a symbol on it, telling me the symbol represented “om”, which was “the sound of the universe”…

    Is there a symbol for “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!“?

    I’d have purchased that – I have tinnitus…
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  • Nonetheless, using personal (“I’ve seen a cow cry…”) and folk (“farmers in India say that…”, “there is a video on youtube showing…”) anecdotes to suggest that cows might actually have subjective experiences of real (i.e., human like) grieving for the death of a member of another species, definitely does not cut it – if anything, that is good evidence of anthropomorphism at work.

    You are right. Perhaps more research is required to understand cow psychology. I am sorry for indicating some anecdotes rather than a research. I hope we can understand more in the future.
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  • However, while these findings certainly create an obligation to take these animals’ ability to suffer into account and to treat them accordingly, there is nothing in any of this that makes them sacred or deserving of worship. It’s just life, the law of nature, call it what you will.

    Cow has a special status among all animals because of the following:-
    1) Cow milk:- We all know by now how useful is cow milk. We also make dairy products from it.
    2)Cow Urine:- Cow urine, used alone or alongside other medicines for treatment of some diseases.
    3) Cow dung:- There are 2 kinds:-
    a) Dried cow-dung cake:- It is used as a source of fuel instead of wood. People cook food on stoves burning cow-dung cake.
    b) Wet cow-dung :- Many rural homes use wet cow-dung for smearing floors. The smearing with wet cow dung is done in order to keep bacteria outside home.
    4) Bull:- As we know again, bull is used in farms for ploughing fields as well.

    Cow is indeed very perfect and therefore respected.
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  • Shrinath

    It’s goats in some parts of the world and sheep in another. Cats and dogs in developed world that bring down blood pressure and help protect against illnesses. We can even drink the milk of other animals as well that doesn’t contain lactose

     
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  • Its worth bearing in mind that adult lactose intolerance is the base state of our species.

     

    “When standardising for country size, the global prevalence estimate of lactose malabsorption was 68% (95% CI 64–72), ranging from 28% (19–37) in western, southern, and northern Europe to 70% (57–83) in the Middle East.”

    Indeed the numbers for East Asia are 90%.

     

    I have much sympathy for the idea that many of our emotional states, often the treasurable ones emerge from our mammalian physiognomy. The play and the cuddles and extended bonding, seem three of the best things in my life so far.

     

    I just offer two sources of warning over what we impute in the expressions of our fellow mammals. Professors Nicholas Epley and Lisa Feldman Barrett (in Mindwise and How Our Emotions are Made respectively) point out; in the first Epley shows that we are four times out of five wrong in our our assessment of the mental states of other humans* and in the second Barrett explains the entirely, culturally contingent and personal nature of our emotions. We mostly impute emotions in others from our own, by which means, the same virtues (of bonding say) can emerge. Our mind may at any moment trick itself into a fellow feeling with another, but in so doing rehearses and better establishes fellow feeling in both, by gestures and interactions. Feeling sad we may comfort our mammal pet and be comforted in return, because mammals invented brilliant new mechanisms for nurturing.

    *(A couple in a long-term relationship at least assess each others’ mental states twice as often as average… correct two out of five times.)
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  • A couple in a long-term relationship at least assess each others’ mental states twice as often as average… correct two out of five times.

    Should read

     

    A couple in a long-term relationship at least correctly assess each others’ mental states twice as often as average… correct two out of five times.
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  • Shrinath #51

    Ok, I’ve been checking my assumptions about the status of the cow in Hinduism and it looks as if the concept of its ‘sacredness’ is more complex than I had appreciated.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_in_religion_and_mythology#Hinduism and https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/the-splainer-what-makes-the-cow-sacred-to-hindus/2015/11/05/acdde3e2-840c-11e5-8bd2-680fff868306_story.html?utm_term=.5ffcc198cc0d both point to the reverence for the cow having originated in its economic and domestic value, as you describe above, rather than the cow itself being an object of worship.

    I have absolutely no problem with that, so far. The cow is indeed a hugely useful domesticated animal and, especially in the context of agricultural village life, an animal that is of far more value to humans alive than dead, and it therefore makes perfect sense to take good care of it and not to kill it. No belief in anything remotely supernatural is required so far.

    And yet the Washington Post article says that the cow is regarded as a “sacred symbol of life”. Not “a symbol of life”, but “a sacred symbol of life”. Which does immediately introduce an element of the supernatural. And this supernatural dimension can also be sensed in the fact that a well cared-for cow that had reached the end of her natural lifespan and died of natural causes would still not be eaten, would she? If the reasoning were purely pragmatic and rational, as in the reasons you list above, there would be no earthly reason why there should be a taboo on eating the meat of a cow that had died of old age. There might be other reasons – it might be too tough to be enjoyable, for instance – but that would be a matter of personal preference, wouldn’t it, not the stuff of taboos.

    And the problem is that the moment you introduce the concept of the ‘sacred’, you are going beyond the rational. You are introducing an element of coercion and obligation, based on something wholly unseen and unproven. The moment you declare something ‘sacred’, you remove the ability to safely question or challenge its status. Treating the ‘sacred’ object as ‘sacred’ is no longer a matter of choice; or pragmatism; or mere desirability. And this isn’t just irrational: it can be actively dangerous, as the incidents that prompted the Washington Post explainer show:

    “Since September, four Muslims in India have been killed by predominantly Hindu mobs after they were suspected of either eating beef or slaughtering a cow, considered sacred by the country’s majority Hindus.”

    I’ve now found a Hindu source too: https://www.nhsf.org.uk/2007/05/why-do-hindus-worship-the-cow/, that refers to “the cow and her sacred gifts – milk and ghee in particular” (again introducing an element of wholly unnecessary mysticism into the purely biological fact that mammals produce milk for their young and the purely economic one that humans regularly take that milk and use it for their own purposes); and also claiming that “Hindus regard all living creatures as sacred” – which isn’t quite true, is it, otherwise those 4 Muslims wouldn’t have been murdered, would they?
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  • “Since September, four Muslims in India have been killed by predominantly Hindu mobs after they were suspected of either eating beef or slaughtering a cow, considered sacred by the country’s majority Hindus.”

    If you know about mob lynching, then you should also know about cattle theft and how are cattle smuggled across Bangladesh borders. It is a serious concern as cow is a source of income for many people in India.

    Out of all the cattle thefts registered under police, only 50% of the cattle gets recovered. Out of these 50%, some get recovered by police and some by people. In some cases, the people lose their cool and kill those people.

    Now, why does this happen? Noone cares about the people who lose their cattle and no media would report it. Law enforcement is so poor that sometimes people are forced to take law in their hands. Media only wants to show that Hindus do violence on the name of Hinduism but never shows what the non-hindus do in the name of their religion. If India is so dangerous, then why didn’t muslims fled India? In fact, minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan wants to leave their countries. Some of the Rohingya refugees who were in India now want to live in India.
    Why do you think that may be?

    Understand the whole scenario first and then comment on it.
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  • Shrinath, #57

    But you make my point for me.

    These are human concerns – very genuine, human concerns. Of course it is of huge significance to people if their cattle are stolen: for very pragmatic reasons. Food security and personal security are vital to everyone, everywhere.

    All this stuff about cows being ‘sacred’ is wholly superfluous: they are valuable and valued in their own right. No ‘sacredness’ required.

    Media only wants to show that Hindus do violence on the name of Hinduism but never shows what the non-hindus do in the name of their religion.

    Really? The media don’t cover Islamist terrorism?

    If India is so dangerous, then why didn’t muslims fled India?

    You’ve misunderstood my comment, and my reason for making it. My focus so far has been entirely on the wholly meaningless concept of ‘sacredness’. There are perfectly sound, economic, pragmatic reasons for Indians to value their cows and do everything in their power to keep them safe. The concept of ‘sacredness’ adds nothing, and ‘holding all life sacred’ could not even prevent the murder of human beings who had sought to steal your property.

    Everything we’ve discussed can be explained in purely social and economic terms. Speaking of the ‘sacred’ simply adds a layer of wholly unnecessary mysticism to what are actually very basic functions of survival.
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  • One more thing about the tolerance of Hindus. Bollywood is probably the best example. There are so many movies which mock Hindu traditions,Hindu gods, Hindus in general. Hindu tolerance is much more than anyone can expect. Other religions get so angry if someone comments on their gods or prophets. It is just incomparable.
    Of course, there is a level of tolerance. Once the limit is crossed, people show their anger.
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  • Really? The media don’t cover Islamist terrorism?

    Indian media I meant.

    Everything we’ve discussed can be explained in purely social and economic terms. Speaking of the ‘sacred’ simply adds a layer of wholly unnecessary mysticism to what are actually very basic functions of survival.

    I do not want to talk much about people’s belief.  As I said, non-hindus would not understand why Hindus add sacredness to some things. That is the culture.
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  • Oh no. I realised that you are trying to actually understand the culture. I’m sincerely sorry for the misunderstandings. Well, I do not think I can answer you in deep insight at this point. I myself am trying to understand the culture and it’s beauty.
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  • Shrinath #62

    I think people will always be likely to defend their economic interests, especially where state law enforcement is weak.

    However, I think that adding notions of ‘sacredness’ to those economic interests adds a layer of combustibility to them, making the defence of them a religious duty as well as a practical necessity. It can only add to the anger, the heat and the risk of real violence.

    You can’t have it both ways, Shrinath. Either the ‘sacredness’ attached to cows is purely a reflection of their economic and practical value; in which case it adds nothing and could be abandoned as a concept because people would care for their cows in any case, of necessity. Or it adds an extra dimension to their value: in which case it also adds an extra reason for violence in defending (or avenging) them. You can’t insist on the ‘sacredness’ and then claim it’s not a factor.
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  • If sacredness was a huge factor in this, then it should have created problems for everyone who eats cow. Everyone should have been attacked or killed, but again that’s not what has happened.

    Please don’t say the extra dimension is the reason why violence happens.
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  • The Indian culture believes in sustainance. Cow protection is given in some scriptures. I’m trying to understand what sustenance was achievable by protecting cows. Do they release something when they are slaughtered? I am not sure.
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  • Shrinath #65

    If sacredness was a huge factor in this, then it should have created problems for everyone who eats cow. Everyone should have been attacked or killed, but again that’s not what has happened.
    Please don’t say the extra dimension is the reason why violence happens.

    I’m actually trying to spell out very clearly what I’m saying and it’s not that!

    In #64 I wrote:

    I think people will always be likely to defend their economic interests, especially where state law enforcement is weak.

    No mention of sacredness there. Steal villagers’ cattle: expect a reaction, quite possibly violent, because you have harmed their economic interests. 

    Why is there no violence towards those who eat non-stolen beef? Because no economic interests have been harmed. Where no economic interests have been harmed, notions of sacredness alone probably won’t be enough to result in violence.

    Me, #64: However, I think that adding notions of ‘sacredness’ to those economic interests adds a layer of combustibility to them, making the defence of them a religious duty as well as a practical necessity. It can only add to the anger, the heat and the risk of real violence.

    In other words: where economic interests have been harmed, the notion that the cattle are not just economically important but also ‘sacred’ creates an added dimension to the perceived injury done and therefore potentially to the heat of the response. I’m not suggesting that the violence in these cases was the result of notions of sacredness alone, but that adding notions of sacredness increases the value of the loss and therefore increases the likely severity of the violence in response too.

    If I am mistaken in this – if Economic Value + Sacredness don’t add up to a more important cow than Economic Value alone – then the value of the Sacredness = 0 and you might as well dispense with it altogether.

    It might help if you try to think of it in algebraic terms:
    If the value of x where x = y + z is the same as the value of x where x = y, then the value of z MUST be 0.
    x = perceived value of the cow
    y = sum of the economic benefits of a cow
    z = sacredness of the cow

    If on the other hand, z is GREATER THAN 0, then the anger at the loss of x, where x = y + z, is going to be greater than the loss of x, where x = y. And where the anger is greater, then the violence of the response is likely to be greater.

    Please note that I am talking about the risk and scale of violence, not suggesting that notions of sacredness are the sole cause of violence.

    But I’m already repeating myself, so I’ll leave it at that.
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  • Shrinath #71

     

    ”crime/sin”!

    You can take the sin part as just a disservice to your fellow man/animal if you like. That is what it boils down to to in the end anyway.

     
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  • Shrinath #70

    Thanks for that.

    Just one final push from me, then: if a cow’s sacredness is no more than a reflection of its value to humans – i.e. not some extra, mystical dimension – why not strip out the supernatural terminology altogether and simply describe it in non-mystical terms? Would anything be lost if we did that? Would there be something about how Hindus view cows that wouldn’t be adequately conveyed if, instead of saying that Hindus consider cows sacred, we just said they “revere” them, for instance?

    (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/revere: “to very much respect and admire someone or something”)
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  • Shrinath #50

    …I am sorry for indicating some anecdotes rather than a research…

    No need to apologize, my friend – if I had a penny for every time I got something wrong, I could probably buy a plane ticket to India by now…
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  •  I see another judge has blocked another set of Trump religiously biased regulations!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46862504

    A US federal judge has blocked new Trump administration regulations on birth control from applying across the entire country.

    The rules allow employers and insurers to decline to provide birth control if doing so violates their “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions”.

     

    There is also another article here;-

    https://www.wabe.org/judge-blocks-trump-birth-control-policy-in-13-states-and-d-c/
    Second Judge Blocks Trump Birth Control Policy Across The Country
    A federal judge in Pennsylvania has blocked the Trump administration from implementing a rule allowing employers to decline to offer contraceptive coverage on moral or religious grounds.

     

  • @#73

    You know I thought the word revered and sacred were the same until now.lol.

    Okay, I think it’s important to understand how Santana Dharma actually works. I always prefer using Sanskrit words for a reason that sometimes there is no exact english substitute for it. You understand?

    It is that you have to understand Sanskrit and then read the scripture in Sanskrit to get the exact feel.

    The word god is not a word which I would use because it is notoriously used to describe Abrahamic god. I would use Ishwara.

    Everything in Sanatan Dharma is symbolic. Deities are abstract gods. People like Ram and Krishna were men, who are revered because of their legacies, even until now.

    Karma works in it’s own way. Person doesn’t even have to know what Karma is and can live his life. So in Hinduism there are 4 yogas. You can read about it. But I will say the concepts can only be understood with a proper knowledge of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is of 2 types, conversational and literature.

    I am not glorifying Sanskrit as such but the language serves a purpose to convey something. So I would say the actual word is revered because sacred is confusing.
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  • I’m just worried about Richard Dawkin’s health. I don’t know how he is able to withstand the stupidity of the majority of the human population. It must be very stressful. I hope he has a good outlet for stress relief. I wish him and all of you the best, no matter your views.
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  • Cantaz (#76)

    Don’t worry: it takes 2 reports for a comment to be removed automatically, for precisely this reason. And even so, comments that have been reported 2 or more times are simply moved to our Pending folder, so we would always replace them if it was clear there was no reason not to.

    The mods
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  • @#78

    Yes. All the people out there trying to make the world a better place, they will always be opposed by those who are greedy and selfish. Flat earthers at the moment would not be a problem as much as compared to climate change deniers.

    Can education alone help?
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  • Shrinath #77

    But why do you need religious concepts and a religious text and an ancient language to describe what is actually the most down-to-earth, prosaic, fundamental concept, which is the desire to protect economic value?

    My point is that the reverence for cows in Hindu society can be explained without ANY of this hocus-pocus. You’ve even admitted it yourself, in #70:

    Then, I would say the sacredness was indeed a reflection of it’s value.

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  • #@81

    As I mentioned, I thought sacred and revered was same.

    Let me phrase it one more time.

    Cow provides milk,cow dung(used as fuel, disinfectant and fertilizer). Cow ghee is used in the Vedic rituals.

    The most important point is, cow is a calm and non-threatening animal. Thus, cows stood for the goodness of Hinduism and hence considered a representative of the Santana Dharma.

    I guess you would understand now that it is not something supernatural.
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  • @#81

    I was clearly absent minded there. 😂😂

    @#83
    I think you might have looked at that cow image(which shows many deities within it), but that’s symbolic. So, do not think the cow has supernatural powers.
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  • Vicki says:

    With the rejection of May’s proposal, is it feasible to rethink holding a second referendum?

    May will probably plough on regardless as she has done in the past despite censure for contempt of parliament.

    Corbyn will continue to shuffle about and continue fence-sitting.

    There will be a vote of no-confidence in the government tomorrow with the government  likely to win that vote.  
    May has 3 days to come up with plan B, so wants the confidence vote out of the way, and the chance to proclaim that parliament now has confidence in her government.

    The Tory brexiteers and the DUPs are not going to relinquish power and trigger a general election, if they can help it!

    Brexit was always about holding the Tory Party together and in power.

    Corbyn’s agenda is to manipulate himself into the post of prime Minister.

     
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  • Some nice examples are, Chandragupta Maurya who was not born royal. He was trained by Chanakya and later on went on to become a king. Famous rishis like Kalidas and Valmiki were not born Brahmin as well.

    You are just taking example from real life and saying that this is real hindusim . I am taking example from Vedas and saying it as real hindusim.
    And I never said our ancestors were pure vegetarian at that start. Agriculture was later on adapted and vegetarianism was then followed. But if anyone is promoting vegetarianism now how harmful is it for the world?

    And I never said our ancestors were pure vegetarian at that start. Agriculture was later on adapted and vegetarianism was then followed. But if anyone is promoting vegetarianism now how harmful is it for the world?

    No you are not. But you said that vedas promotes vegan. What I am trying to say was that vedas doesn’t promote veganism it does promote cow slaughter for rituals. And hindus adopted veganism after buddism started to spread.

    Only nomads from present day iran brought vedic civilization, so does Sanskrit, varna system, vedas. Even DNA evidences suppourt it.

    Well I said I am agonistic about its migration or invansion but i am sure that there is mixing of genes. And I backed my claim with evidence. But you just reject it.  Just like hindu nationalist for their own propoganda.
    Ramayana and Mahabharat are classified as itihaas(history) and they actually happened. You should know that Indian culture is associated with story tales. It was not easy to explain it to any ordinary place, so the best way to explain it was story telling. Unfortunately this also means a lot of information was lost. Evidence for ramayana and Mahabharata exists and places outside India are mentioned as well. Gandhar kingdom in Mahabharata is present day Kandahar in Afghanistan.

    So now you are believing that there was man who got immortal as a gift. A women who is giving birth to 100 babies at same time. A man born with 10 heads. A man born with an armor which cant be deafeated. A arrow which can kill whole world.

    Can you just give me an evidence for those?.

    Cow is indeed very perfect and therefore respected.

    Well now we have reaplaced bull with tractors. Dung with fertilisers. We need cow for only one thing that is milk. And we know after certain age cow can’t produce efficent amount of cow. Thats why farmers sell cow to slaughter house to turn it into beef. What’s your prob in that. And certain production house breeds cow for beef only. And whats your problem in it.
    If you know about mob lynching, then you should also know about cattle theft and how are cattle smuggled across Bangladesh borders. It is a serious concern as cow is a source of income for many people in India.
    Out of all the cattle thefts registered under police, only 50% of the cattle gets recovered. Out of these 50%, some get recovered by police and some by people. In some cases, the people lose their cool and kill those people.
    Now, why does this happen? Noone cares about the people who lose their cattle and no media would report it. Law enforcement is so poor that sometimes people are forced to take law in their hands. Media only wants to show that Hindus do violence on the name of Hinduism but never shows what the non-hindus do in the name of their religion. If India is so dangerous, then why didn’t muslims fled India? In fact, minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan wants to leave their countries. Some of the Rohingya refugees who were in India now want to live in India.Why do you think that may be?
    Understand the whole scenario first and then comment on it.
     

    Well wait?. From the news I got most of the people were killed becuase people thaught that he slaughtered cow. You can find these people taking vedios of those incident and putting in Facebook with proud saying “cow is our mother”.

    You can even find in iit Madras(I think so) a man was killed becuase he ate beef. And remember it happened in IIT not in some border between bangaldesh and india.

    Well Muslims want live in India becuase they find india safer than our neighbour countries. But is that make Muslims adeasafe in india? No. The safness is not enough.

    One more thing about the tolerance of Hindus. Bollywood is probably the best example. There are so many movies which mock Hindu traditions,Hindu gods, Hindus in general. Hindu tolerance is much more than anyone can expect. Other religions get so angry if someone comments on their gods or prophets. It is just incomparable.Of course, there is a level of tolerance. Once the limit is crossed, people show their anger

     

    Tolerence?. I mean what happened during padamavati movie. Just by seeing trailer they taught they are defaming their own caste. But actually there was no scene like it isnt?.

    Well in Tamil movies we can make fun of every religion and people dont care as long as it doesnt cross line.

     

    I thought you were saying cow is sacred for hindus that is why they are killing muslims. I just said that is not what it is.

    Well actually that’s the case for most of viloence. Most of the violence not happening in the border of bangaldesh.

     
    sacredness was a huge factor in this, then it should have created problems for everyone who eats cow. Everyone should have been attacked or killed, but again that’s not what has happened.
    Please don’t say the extra dimension is the reason why violence happens.
     

    Most of hindus even though they consider cow as scared they don’t have any problem if some people ate it. Like jains don’t have any problem if some other people ate onions.

     

    Well “sanatan darma” is word instead for “hindusim” which has Persian origin. And I am sure my arugment above is all for agaisnt hindusim.

    And you never talked about manudarmam.
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  • Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

    – Martin Luther King jr

    This is what i believe. And I am always open to discussion.

     
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  • Shrinath and Madu

     

    Have either of you ever heard of the Philosopher named Peter Singer? He has taken on the issue of animal rights and has made the issue clear and understandable.

    As an atheist, I don’t appreciate the religious dogma that drives the sacred veneration of cows but in fact, based on the writings of Singer and other animal rights supporters, we have an excellent possibility of agreeing on the benefits of vegetarianism if we can all come around to the issue from an animal rights perspective.

    There are several issues that I find a better possibility of agreement is possible between people who take opposite positions if only we can find a starting statement that we all agree upon. Animal rights in India and in the world appears to be one of them.

    What is the opening statement here about the best interests of cows that everyone in India could agree on? What is an action that you could all agree on that would improve the condition of cows (and other animals) in India that is doable in the near future?

    My approach to this discussion must appear to be removed from respect for tradition and respect for supernatural forces and I do admit that this is true. I respect neither. But what is of supreme importance to me is animal and human rights and the establishment and rule of law based on modern morality and everything we know from all fields of science.

    Can we reboot? I have no faith in Hinduism or any other religion but I do have faith in you, the people right in front of me who have a stake in the lives of their fellow humans and in the lives of the animals all around them. What say you both?
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  • I mentioned something in @#83.

    Btw, I live in a coastal state and I eat fish. But I have never eaten any other meat(chicken,mutton). I support the movement of vegetarianism from a non-religious perspective. If I was not a Hindu, then also I would have promoted Vegetarianism. So, I hope @LaurieB, my point is conveyed.

    As far as discussing with @Madu, she(I hope my assumption about the gender is correct) wants me to debate her rather than a discussion. I just don’t want to explain again, and besides I understand she is having a one-sided perspective and for some reason bringing politics here to make her point.So, I’ll leave it there.
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  • Shrinath,

    I’m glad you and Madu have engaged us in this discussion. It’s interesting and important and I’ve learned something! Never said it would be easy though, right? Of all the times I’ve changed my mind about anything it’s always the weighty emotionally charged issues that have upset me the most when I really had to admit to myself and others that I was just dead wrong. I felt the comfortable safety net fall away and knew I was in for some emotional vulnerability for the time it took me to rethink the position that I surrendered.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, just I think it’s wise for all of us to brace for emotional impact when in discussion of weighty issues. I’m pleased to report that when this process is worked through a number of times it becomes easier and now I even welcome it!

    What a thrill it is when someone drops a statement that blows my dearly held position out of the water. It tends to happen from time to time on this website. I’m sure you will find that out for yourself.

    😀
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  • @LaurieB Thanks.

    Well I am a full-time student and I usually don’t get time to come here and discuss. But I somehow manage to do it because I can see genuine concerns from people and even though I misunderstand them sometimes I still manage to convey my ideas. Being a fan of Richard Dawkins, I managed to find this wonderful page.

    The reason I didn’t reply back is because there are so many mistakes in her sentence. I just surrendered when she mentioned Aryan Invasion theory(AIT) again and again when she should know that AIT is false.

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