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

180 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.

    The mods Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. 

    Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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! Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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.

    Report abuse

  • “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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • (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.
     

      Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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 😁 Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. 😁 Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • MODERATOR MESSAGE

    The website managers have now implemented the ability to fast-scroll upwards/downwards on threads that some people were requesting recently.

    Just beneath the OP on any thread you will now see a “REPLY” button. Clicking this will take you straight to the comment box at the end of the thread (i.e. just beneath the most recent comment).

    In the bottom-left corner of the page (in the bottom-center if viewing on a mobile) there is now a “TOP” button. Clicking this will take you straight to the top.

    Hope this helps.

    The mods Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • @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. Report abuse

  • 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.  Report abuse

  • 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? Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • …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. Report abuse

  • @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. Report abuse

  • @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/

     

      Report abuse

  • @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. Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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.

     

      Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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.” 
     
    Report abuse

  • @ #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.

      Report abuse

  • 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 … Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • @#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.

      Report abuse

  • @#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. Report abuse

  • @ #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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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 . Report abuse

  • 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… Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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

      Report abuse

  • 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.) Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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? Report abuse

  • “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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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”) Report abuse

  • 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… Report abuse

  •  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. Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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 Report abuse

  • @#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? Report abuse

  • 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.

    Report abuse

  • #@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. Report abuse

  • @#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. Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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.

      Report abuse

  • 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? Report abuse

  • 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. Report abuse

  • 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.

    😀 Report abuse

  • @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.

  • @Phil

    It is a singular catastrophe that the Remain position has no commensurate political champion in our “representative” democracy.

    If there were a champion, what party would he/she be from? Clearly, May has the conservatives tentatively wrapped up. I assume Corbyn is labor? Those are the only two I hear about.

     

    That leaves liberals, and are they a powerful enough group to do anything? Why aren’t we hearing anything from them (or do they even exist)? Report abuse

  • Vicki says:

    May has the conservatives tentatively wrapped up.

    I assume Corbyn is labor? Those are the only two I hear about.

    As I expected, May is on some other planet, and is carrying on as before as if nothing had happened.

    Corbyn won’t meet May unless she gives an assurance up-front that “No Deal” is off the agenda.

    Other leaders have met May for her “consultations”, but the feed-back is that she is totally inflexible and will not give them an assurance that “No Deal” is off the agenda, so all they have done is give her the chance to cynically pose as a reasonable negotiator.

    Meanwhile, the European trading partners are busy spending lots on money adapting their ports for a “No Deal” scenario at the end of March.

    I think May’s “plan” is still the same.  She will continue trying to prevaricate, in the hope of presenting her opponents with a “no deal” or “my deal” choice, on the last day before the UK leaves the EU, when there is no time to arrange anything else.

    The people with brains and a lot of businesses want the Article 50 withdrawal notice withdrawn or rescheduled to a later date.  May is adamant this will not happen.

    I was talking to my MP about this earlier tonight.

    That leaves liberals, and are they a powerful enough group to do anything?

    The Liberals have been for “remain” all along, but have very few MPs. They lost a lot of trust two elections back, when they reneged on a load of election promises in order to  form a coalition government with the Tories – and got lots of their MPs dumped in the election which followed.

    The Northern Irish right-wing reactionary DUP, were bribed with special funding for Northern Ireland and bought to support May and the Tories.    That did not stop them voting against her deal because of potential damage to N. Ireland, but they did vote for her in the following confidence vote, so we now have a lame government with no credibility hanging on to power!

      Report abuse

  • @Alan #99

    Better a lame government than a Corbyn one! I bet if there was an election now May would win hands down! The British public realises that May has tried tenaciously to get a middling agreement with the EU that both sides might possibly accept. Unfortunately, the current Irish ‘backstop’ provision is seen by hardliners and the DUP to be a masked spider’s web from which it would be difficult for the UK to extricate from. So this needs to be looked at again.

    And why would May give an up-front assurance of ‘no deal’ being off the agenda when this is a key bargaining chip in her negotiations with the EU? Already today we hear that German industrialists are now pleading with Merkel to be more conciliatory towards May in order to avoid a ‘no-deal’ prospect! And Corbyn wants this bargaining counter to be ditched!! LOL!

  • @Vicki #98

    I posted a reply to Alan recently which would provide you with a pro-Teresa May view as opposed to the one Alan posted (#99). Unfortunately, the mods have decided that they will only countenance one set of views on this supposedly ‘Open Discussion’ thread!!

  • Erol #101

    Not true.

    The system had automatically set it aside for pre-moderation. It was entirely within our rules and ethos, and we have therefore approved it, as you’ll see at #100.

    You’re welcome.

    The mods Report abuse

  • Erol says:

    @Alan #99

    Better a lame government than a Corbyn one!

    That is the inherent problem!  Corbyn is a brexiteer, but as an opportunist one, he wants May to take the blame for the damage as an aid to getting himself the post of prime minister.

    If there had been an effective opposition which forced a plan showing consequences into the public view, may’s lack of planning and the brexiteer lies and fantasies would have been evident.

    I bet if there was an election now May would win hands down!

    I think the best outcome would be be a hung parliament with Greens, Liberals etc. holding a central bock and a balanced position.

    The British public realises that May has tried tenaciously to get a middling agreement with the EU that both sides might possibly accept.

    There is no fudged “middle position, between brexiteer fantasies of a “glorious British Empire” (run by millionaires for the benefit of millionaires) and the constitutional EU rules. The “club” is not going to change the rules so that a disgruntled dissonant member can have privileged use of its facilities  without pay the membership fees or ignoring any rules they don’t like.

    May has been repeatedly told what the rules are and that “have your cake and eat it”, is not an option.  It does not matter how many times she sits in denial and presses the mental “reset button”, her fanciful notions in some other universe are not going to materialise in Europe regardless of the repetitive chantings of the hirelings in the  propagandist gutter press! .

    The UK currently has a very good deal with the EU and will be very unlikely to EVER get such a good deal again, if we are stupid enough to throw it away to placate a few reactionary Europhobic nutcases on the Tory right wing or in UKIP.

    May’s one and only “plan”, has been to hide the absence of a plan and the likely dire consequences, from the scrutiny of  parliament and the public.  As time ran out, she arranged another moth’s stalling and prevarication over Xmas.  That’s why she was given 3 days by parliament to come up with a new plan, which she has spent nearly three years, failing to produce!

    Erol says:  101.

    I posted a reply to Alan recently

    Stuff still keeps disappearing into the spam filter here.

  • @Alan #104

    The UK currently has a very good deal with the EU and will be very unlikely to EVER get such a good deal again

    I happen to think that May’s compromise was a good one, and it would have passed if it wasn’t for the annoying Irish ‘backstop’ issue. I suspect that this will be the focus of thinking now both here and in the EU. Yes, I know that the EU has stated that nothing can be changed here, but if the EU wants to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit they may come to believe that a compromise is necessary!

  • @Erol

    …but if the EU wants to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit they may come to believe that a compromise is necessary!

    What incentive does the EU have, though, to want to avoid a no-deal Brexit? How many economic cards, so to speak, does Britain actually hold? Report abuse

  • @Vicki

    The EU generally sells more to the UK than the other way round. So it’s in their strong interests to preserve this trade as far as possible! More data here.

     

  • Erol #108

    What proportion of EU GDP comes from its trade with the UK?
    What proportion of UK GDP comes from its trade with rEU?

    Which of those numbers is bigger?
    So which will experience a bigger effect on its economy in the event of losing that trade? Report abuse

  • Marco #109

    I don’t believe that either side will lose that trade! It’s plainly in no one’s interest to!

    A deal will therefore have to be struck!

  • Thanks for the link, Erol. It didn’t really strike me as Britain having very much clout, though, in the bigger EU and global market, either in import or export.

    Am I misreading it? Report abuse

  • Erol says:

    I happen to think that May’s compromise was a good one,

    It was the least worst one.  Remain is vastly better socially and economically, than any Brexit.

     

    and it would have passed if it wasn’t for the annoying Irish ‘backstop’ issue.

    An open/closed Irish border is a self contradiction and a brexiteer fantasy!

     

    I suspect that this will be the focus of thinking now both here and in the EU.

    There is nothing to change at the EU.   Britain had the chance of a term as EU president and chair meetings managing changes, but brexiteers turned down that option.

    The other 27 countries agreed among themselves, hold all the cards, and aren’t going to change the rules to have their businesses, workers and economies, suffer the  likely  fate of the dumb British who voted for this self-abuse.

    Scotland is already making moves to independently stay in Europe, if the stupid in England prevail in sabotaging the economy in the name of ideology!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/ce1qrvlexlzt/scottish-independence
    Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish Parliament
    that regardless of whether there is an extension of Article 50
    she will make her views on the timing of
    a second independence referendum known soon.

    Yes, I know that the EU has stated that nothing can be changed here,

    Fantasy will not become reality regardless of how much Theresa May bangs on with her unrealistic claims.  She has promised to sell brexit to the punters, but most of the punters have recognised they were lied to, and that the product is rubbish!

    but if the EU wants to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit they may come to believe that a compromise is necessary!

    Some European countries like Denmark, which have close trading links with Britain, will be hurt, but the damage to Britain will be vastly greater than any damage to Europe.

    No-deal –  leaves Britain out, – up the creek with none of its existing trade deals with other countries through EU arrangements or with the EU itself, probably no competent experienced trade negotiators, a bunch of brexiteer ministers who are a laughing stock and who may well resign in disgrace or disgust, next to no international credibility, and no paddle!

    The other 27 EU countries will carry on trading with each other, and the 50 or so countries with which the EU has trade deals. Britain will lose the lot, and have to start from scratch, with no credible plans in place while chaos reigns, and various useless politicians blame each other for the mess.

     

  • @Alan #111

    Fantasy will not become reality regardless of how much Theresa May bangs on with her unrealistic claims.  She has promised to sell brexit to the punters, but most of the punters have recognised they were lied to, and that the product is rubbish!

    I disagree! We await to see further developments!

  • Erol #110

    Both sides will indeed be harmed if that trade is lost.

    However, your comment at #108 implies that the EU will lose more and will therefore be more likely to give way on its red lines than the UK.

    So the question of which would be harmed *more* is relevant here. Clearly, while both sides will suffer from a No Deal, whichever side will experience the biggest hit to its economy will suffer more. I assume we can agree on that?

    So here are my questions again:

    What proportion of EU GDP comes from its trade with the UK?
    What proportion of UK GDP comes from its trade with rEU?
    Which of those numbers is bigger?
    So which will experience a bigger effect on its economy in the event of losing that trade? Report abuse

  • Marco says:

    So the question of which would be harmed *more* is relevant here. Clearly, while both sides will suffer from a No Deal, whichever side will experience the biggest hit to its economy will suffer more. I assume we can agree on that?
     

    There is no doubt that the UK will suffer most by a large margin. Report abuse

  • Marco #114

    However, your comment at #108 implies that the EU will lose more and will therefore be more likely to give way on its red lines than the UK.

    No, I didn’t really want to imply that. Both sides will lose out heavily, and both are therefore going to push hard for a good deal (as May’s nearly was – but which floundered at the Irish border!)

  • Erol #116
    You’re being disingenuous. In #105 you wrote:

    I happen to think that May’s compromise was a good one, and it would have passed if it wasn’t for the annoying Irish ‘backstop’ issue. I suspect that this will be the focus of thinking now both here and in the EU. Yes, I know that the EU has stated that nothing can be changed here, but if the EU wants to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit they may come to believe that a compromise is necessary!

    The logical conclusion from this, and from your subsequent comments, is that you think a deal WILL be reached. And that you think it will be the EU that does the giving way on the backstop.
    You reinforce this in #108, where you wrote:

    The EU generally sells more to the UK than the other way round. So it’s in their strong interests to preserve this trade as far as possible!

    From which it is clear you think the EU has more to lose than the UK if there isn’t a deal and that therefore it will be the EU, not the UK, that gives way on the backstop issue.

    Your belief that the EU will give way on the backstop in order to secure the deal you’re saying you think will happen is based on your belief that a no deal would harm the EU more than it would harm the UK. This is the clear logic of your comments on this subject.

    So, back to my questions:

    What proportion of EU GDP comes from its trade with the UK?
    What proportion of UK GDP comes from its trade with rEU?
    Which of those numbers is bigger?
    So which will experience a bigger effect on its economy in the event of losing that trade? Report abuse

  • @Marco #118

    Your belief that the EU will give way on the backstop in order to secure the deal you’re saying you think will happen is based on your belief that a no deal would harm the EU more than it would harm the UK. This is the clear logic of your comments on this subject.

    No – I’m saying that it would be easier for the EU to give way on this issue than the UK could. Frankly, the notion that one side or other might come out better in a ‘no-deal’ scenario is irrelevant – both will suffer heavily – and is therefore not an acceptable outcome to either party!

  • Erol #119

    Frankly, the notion that one side or other might come out better in a ‘no-deal’ scenario is irrelevant – both will suffer heavily – and is therefore not an acceptable outcome to either party!

    On the contrary, when you have deadlock between two negotiating partners and the deadlock can only be overcome if one of them gives way, then it is highly relevant which of them has most to lose if that doesn’t happen.

    So back to my questions:

    What proportion of EU GDP comes from its trade with the UK?
    What proportion of UK GDP comes from its trade with rEU?
    Which of those numbers is bigger?
    So which will experience a bigger effect on its economy in the event of losing that trade? Report abuse

  • No – I’m saying that it would be easier for the EU to give way on this issue than the UK could. 

    Erol, isn’t that a clear example of who holds the bargaining chips? And if so, wouldn’t the UK be wise to pay very close attention to the EU’s position? Clearly, the UK wants to make it as advantageous as possible, but my point is how far can the UK reasonably push?

    For the record, I think Cameron is going to have a very despised position in the history books. Report abuse

  • Marco #120 and Vicki #121

    On the contrary, when you have deadlock between two negotiating partners and the deadlock can only be overcome if one of them gives way, then it is highly relevant which of them has most to lose if that doesn’t happen.

    It actually boils down to which party has less to lose in idealogical terms rather than moneytary ones.

  • Erol #122
    Hmm. Not in #108, it didn’t:

    The EU generally sells more to the UK than the other way round. So it’s in their strong interests to preserve this trade as far as possible! More data here.

    So for the 4th time of asking:

    What proportion of EU GDP comes from its trade with the UK?
    What proportion of UK GDP comes from its trade with rEU?
    Which of those numbers is bigger?
    So which will experience a bigger effect on its economy in the event of losing that trade?

    I fully realise you will continue to wriggle and move the goalposts (it’s your standard MO on this subject), but please be aware that everyone else realises that if the answers to my questions in any way bore out your claim that the EU had more to lose than the UK, you would have provided them the first time I asked. They are, after all, right there in the link you yourself cited to Vicki in #108 and included in my quote above.

    I can provide them myself and will do so if you continue to refuse, but Erol, if you did it yourself, it would at least go some way to counteracting the impression that you do not engage honestly on this subject. Are you interested in the reality or only in preserving your own ideological position at all costs?
     

  • Marco #123

    I really don’t know why you are labouring this point. The EU is far larger than the UK so its GDP percentage trade with the UK relative to the UK’s the other way is obviously going to be smaller. But that doesn’t mean that the EU could afford to lose that trade!

    However, your comment at #108 implies that the EU will lose more and will therefore be more likely to give way on its red lines than the UK.

    No!!! If I had meant that I would have written: “So it’s more in their strong interests……”

    The only point I was making is that both sell much to each other which neither would wish to lose out on… and without making an overall value judgement. If you don’t wish to understand that then I can’t help you here.

  • Erol #125

    The EU is far larger than the UK so its GDP percentage trade with the UK relative to the UK’s the other way is obviously going to be smaller. But that doesn’t mean that the EU could afford to lose that trade!

    Sigh.

    Both sides would be harmed by no deal. No quibble about that.

    From your own link:
    Exports from the rEU to the UK make up 3-4% of the value of the rEU economy.
    And exports from the UK to rEU make up 13.4% of the value of the UK economy.

    Both sides would feel the pain. But we would feel a lot more of it. Three or four times as much.

    So in a deadlocked negotiation situation, where one side will have to give way in order to get the deal, which is in the stronger position?

    Come on, Erol, you can do this 🙂 Report abuse

  • Marco #126

    So in a deadlocked negotiation situation, where one side will have to give way in order to get the deal, which is in the stronger position?

    The side that also realises it has to be magnanimous in order to reach a successful conclusion!

  • Olgun says:

    article/brexit-impact-on-european-regions-revealed-by-eu-report-phase-2-negotiations/

    That is an interesting interactive map.

    The warnings have been around for a long time.

    https://citywire.co.uk/wealth-manager/news/no-deal-brexit-could-spark-recession-and-downgrade-warns-sandp/a1170675

    S&P has warned that a no deal Brexit could spark a deep recession in the UK economy, resulting in a downgrade from the ratings agency.

    The report suggests that a no deal Brexit scenario will result in a ‘moderate recession lasting four to five quarters’. The company downgraded the UK economic growth outlook to -1.2% in 2019, with a 1.5% contraction in 2020 in this scenario.

    ‘After that, the economy would return to growth, although the pace of growth would be moderate,’ S&P said. ‘By 2021, economic output would still be 5.5 per cent less than what would have been achieved in a scenario with an orderly exit and transition period for the UK.’

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-brexit-fitch/no-deal-brexit-almost-certain-to-trigger-uk-rating-cut-fitch-idUKKBN1OG1GP

    Fitch has kept a ‘negative outlook’ – effectively a downgrade warning – on Britain’s rating since it cut it to AA from AA+ in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote.

    It had already stripped of its prized triple-A grade back in 2016 but is now on alert again as the fierce political opposition to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit transition plans raises the “no-deal” threat.

    The proclaimed “brexit dividend”, is downgrading both the UK economy and the UK credit ratings – as it has been since the referendum.

    There is considerable danger, that will be like when clever Trump “helped” the US farmers who were exporting soya to China, Where European trade is disrupted by tariffs and  the UK chaos of “taking back control at borders,” without any coherent plan, they will simply divert trade elsewhere.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-brazil-insight/trump-trade-war-delivers-farm-boom-in-brazil-gloom-in-iowa-idUSKCN1ML0E7
    Trump trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa.
     

  • I wonder if a pissed off EU will use their buying power to cut the U.K. off?

     

    Here we come America. Soon be classed as internal flights and cheaper. You can visit this quaint place filled with strange people more often. We are going to need another wall though. Report abuse

  • Erol #127

    That’s not what “stronger position” means, and you know it. On this subject you disappoint every time. Not because I disagree with you, but because you do this every time: wriggling, twisting, dodging: anything rather than actually engage honestly with the argument. Just don’t run away with the idea that no one’s noticed.

      Report abuse

  • Olgun #124

    Note comment at the bottom of your link:

    Their analysis predicts that countries closest to the U.K. — such as Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as those with high volumes of trade such as Germany and France — will suffer the biggest economic impact from Brexit.

    That’s why a deal will eventually be struck between the EU and the UK!

  • Errol #131

     

    You’re kidding right? You read that and thought those topical coastal problems tip the balance towards the EU being kind?

    Nope. Go to the report itself.  Only Ireland and Belgium gets nearly as fncked as the UK.

    Look at regional GDP dependency on Brexit in Fig.2 of the linked report about which that comment was made.

     

    Link follows/ Report abuse

  • Fig.3 for local labour income exposure.

     

    Meanwhile my European colleagues are greatly enjoying our discomfort. The EU has to deflect further defections. Having been as accommodating as possible (at the risk of encouraging others) it is a delight that it may yet end bloodily and with a clear loser and despite their best apparent endeavors. Yet a little more blood from them? Its a good investment to avoid future haemorrhages.

     

    Lost UK business? But a great opportunity for the Germans and French to pick up bargain UK companies. Then they can steer purchasing back to the great Eastern European low cost manufacturers increasingly being set up by those same French and German companies.

    So many people have their fingers crossed over this, not least the faux British Brexiteer Leaders who will do very well with their European portfolios. Report abuse

  • Sorry Erol but I am tired of Brexiteer denial to facts. I have decided that Brexit talk is not allowed on our FB page. I took up the discussion on another British Turkish Cypriot page. Not one fact got through. We have lost some English supporters because of the discussion. We don’t support them so they won’t support us unable to separate the two. I don’t get that they do not understand the dangers to the country and it’s economy and that racism is rife in the lower classes at least. Report abuse

  • Olgun #137

    Sorry Erol but I am tired of Brexiteer denial to facts.

    Absolutely. Me too.

    The sheer glibness and lack of seriousness with which the loudest Brexit advocates approach what will be, by any standards, a huge upheaval to our economy, to citizens’ rights, to our opportunities, to our public services, to our universities, to our communities, to our international relations, to our security, to our global influence, and to our whole way of life is to my mind the most maddening aspect of all.

    At the very, very, very least, upending our entire modus operandi will need to be managed.

    Yet here we are, two and a half years since the referendum, and with just 69 days left to go before we officially Brexit (by default: without a deal), and still there is simply no detail from these people, no engagement with the real issues, the real challenges, just jingoistic Tinkerbellism. We just have to believe. We just have to have faith. Oh, it’ll all be fine, you’ll see. Be optimistic! Be patriotic! All those analyses? Just Project Fear! All those companies leaving the country right now to set up elsewhere … oh look, a squirrel! All the hardship that the government’s own figures predict? What? We survived the Blitz, what are you worried about? Britishness alone will get us through. And if it doesn’t, it will be everyone else’s fault: resisting Remoaners, dastardly Europeans, and other forriners and traitors.

    Arguably the most significant, most far-reaching peace-time upheaval in our lifetimes (and beyond), and its loudest advocates are still treating it with all the seriousness of a West End farce.

    It’s utterly disgraceful. “Patriots”, indeed. Report abuse

  • Marco #138

    I still can’t fully get my mind around what a stripped down version of “Britishness” would look like?

     

    HSBC advert getting grief from Brexiters. Hope it’s a slap in the face for some of them to pull them out of their agoraphobia.

     

    https://youtu.be/V-1UNaA92fg Report abuse

  • I think the ad is merely pro-global and anti-isolationist, Ollie.

    Material for both sides (excepting Brexiteer isolationists, of which there are some).

    Maybe it will stir stir days of empire when our wealth came from opium pushed on the hapless Chinese and was funneled through the newly established bank. Report abuse

  • Olgun/Phil

    The ad is beautiful and without the xenophobia, paranoia and ‘traitor’-hunts unleashed by the referendum campaign and result, would have aroused almost no negative comment.

    But it is being aired, and viewed, in the context of Brexit, and Brexit demands that we all insist Britain IS an island, in every sense of the word, that the rest of the world exists for us to grow rich from, NOT for us to see ourselves as partners of. The Brexit mentality fears partnership, co-operation, interaction, negotiation, equality, mutuality and anything else that goes against the idea of Britannia ruling the waves. It is regressive in every possible respect. Report abuse

  • Hello, Richard. Are you back from Chile? A 6.7 magnitude earthquake has rocked central Chile last night. I hope you are all right. Charles Darwin experienced a major 8.5 earthquake here in Chile too as part of his voyage on HMS Beagle. Report abuse

  • Hello Fuegia

    It’s kind of you to be concerned. We’re not sure where exactly Richard is at the moment, but we see he’s tweeted within the last hour, without any mention of an earthquake, so we’re assuming he’s fine!

    Hope you are safe and well too, and everyone you care about.

    The mods. Report abuse

  • 145
    Thetaoflogn says:

    Hello,

    I detected a mathematical error in ‘The Selfish Gene’ (40th Anniversary Edition) today.

    Is there a suitable way to report the error (e.g. with the possibility to include a PDF)? Or is it unlikely that anyone will care anyway?

    Best wishes.

     

     

      Report abuse

  • Great news that Kamala Harris has announced her candidacy. She’s always struck me as highly impressive.

    Other Democrat candidates definitely running so far:
    Julián Castro
    Tulsi Gabbard
    John Delaney
    Richard Ojeda
    Andrew Yang

    Other candidates considering running:
    Kirsten Gillibrand
    Elizabeth Warren

    I haven’t heard of most of these people (though I’m not from the US so that doesn’t signify anything). Should I have a preference for any of them in particular?

      Report abuse

  • Marco

    Gillibrand and Warren are declared candidates. They are in the running.

    Currently on US TV interviews, Gillibrand is facing confrontation regarding her flip-flopping on important issues of immigration and gun control – both from a conservative position to one more palatable to liberals here. This apparent flip-flopping doesn’t go over well. A couple years ago our commenter Dan made negative comments about Gillibrand (he is a New Yorker as is Gillibrand) and I only wish I had inquired further of his opinion then. As it stands now, early in the game, she has an uphill slog to raise her low poll numbers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000006305265/kirsten-gillibrand-2020-election-video.html

     

    Julian Castro is interesting and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up on someone else’s VP slot to balance the ticket. He is accomplished, experienced, and no horrific scandals on his record that I know of.

    Kamala Harris is now all over the interview circuit and I’m very interested to see how she performs.

    More contenders soon to come they say. There’s a long way to go for all of these POTUS hopefuls. They must battle it out on the public stage now. Debates and reporters digging around for skeletons in the closets. It’s a brutal process.

    Between Trump on this side of the pond and Brexit on yours, what will be left of us all at the end of the day?

    ~whimper~

      Report abuse

  • Thanks, Laurie.

    Interesting about Kirsten Gillibrand. I gather Tulsi Gabbard has ruffled a lot of feathers too. I’d never heard of Julián Castro, but the way you describe him does make him sound like a credible candidate. I just wonder how the US electorate would react to a potential president or VP called “Castro”!

    But it’s just such a relief to see candidates coming forward now – it’s a very welcome reminder that we’re now closer to the last presidential election than the last. And it’s so good to see a fresh field of apparently strong and credible Democrat contenders.

    By the way, I took the info about the candidates from the CNN website, which shows Gillibrand and Warren still at the exploratory stage rather than officially running at this stage: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/21/politics/2020-democrats-running-for-president/index.html Report abuse

  • As for what will become of us on either side of the Atlantic, the worst case scenarios don’t bear thinking about.

    But I get the impression the dynamic with Trump has changed these last few weeks. More and more revelations on the Russia front. The disastrous government shutdown, for which I read recently that Trump’s own supporters are now blaming him. Credible candidates emerging to oppose him at the next election … He’s still in post and can still cause an awful lot of pain before he’s done, but right now he’s not looking like a man who’s going to win a 2nd term. Or at least: there’s a good chance that he won’t. So I do feel slightly less alarmed than I did, though obviously, 3700 miles of Atlantic may be blunting my anxiety.

    As for Brexit … a People’s Vote is by no means in the bag as yet, and a vote for Remain is by no means certain even if we get one … yet both have moved a bit closer, I think. The really bizarre thing right now is this state of complete unknowing, just 66 days away from the official Brexit day (29 March). It’s such a huge thing, and yet even now no one can confidently predict whether it will even happen a) on that date or b) at all or c) what form it will take if it does (deal or no deal). Given that there can be no transition period without a deal, on 30 March we could be either still in the EU pending a people’s vote or other action to resolve the impasse; technically out of the EU but  in a transition period and things therefore not feeling any different for the time being; or utterly up the proverbial creek without a paddle. And here we are on 22 January without a clue …

      Report abuse

  • Marco

    I just wonder how the US electorate would react to a potential president or VP called “Castro”!

    Ha! Yes, and that’s exactly what I said about candidate Obama all those years ago but with less wonder and more certitude that a candidate with his amount of melanin would definitely go down in flames. How happy I was to be wrong! Relative to that, Castro seems like milquetoast. Spanish speaking immigrants are our largest immigrant block here. It’s an important voting block here with their own special interests. They may vote as dictated to them by the Catholic church but on the other hand, they do appreciate a strong government social services network.

     

    Although we are in a state of alarm here, as Brexit approaches, Americans with any awareness of the outside world beyond our own (wide open insecure – shriek!!) borders are definitely worried about the looming hard Brexit. Just as the crash and burn of America affects Europe, the EU affects us too and the instability that we foresee on your side of the pond can never be a good thing for us here. I’m bracing for a severe market wobble. We’ve seen the jockeying that it’s taken to make the EU work and I have to say that EU won’t be the same without Britain and I just don’t know what to expect Britain to look like after a hard Brexit but I’m not optimistic. Won’t we all be diminished by all of this fracturing on both sides?

    Bracing for decline and fall of the West. (Pinker rolling his eyes at me no doubt! sigh.) 😉 Report abuse

  • Laurie,

    It was specifically the Communist Cuban associations of  ‘Castro’ I was concerned about, rather than a Hispanic name in general 🙂

    The EU will survive without the UK. In many ways, it will do even better: we’ve acted as a brake on too many of their objectives for too long. Yes, they’ll be sorry to see us go, and yes of course, there’ll be an economic hit too, but any union of 27 countries, not to mention the world’s largest single market (even without us), has strength built in. Brexit will be a source of huge sadness for the EU – but not serious decline. (The most serious threats to the EU come from elsewhere.)

    The UK, on the other hand, will be knocked for six. Brexit has always been first and foremost a Libertarian project: small state, low tax, small-to-zero public services, privatised NHS, low-to-zero worker/consumer rights and low-to-zero environmental protections. Leavers tend to see Brexit as an end in its own right, but just about all the politicians behind it, whose wet dream it has been for years and years, have far bigger ambitions: with the exception of our bizarrely anti-EU leader of the ‘Opposition’, they have all at various times advocated ‘solutions’ for the UK that would be entirely at home in the US Tea Party. Brexit would not be the end: it would just be the beginning. The beginning of the systematic dismantling of community in Britain. It wasn’t sold on that prospectus, obviously. The great, cynical, irony was that it was sold as a means of supporting the NHS and making life better for those who had been cruelly left behind or deliberately excluded by the austerity politics of the last decade. Whereas in reality it would be the final nail in the coffin of a state that gives a damn about its citizens. Brexit: a deception wrapped in a fraud wrapped in a whole sodding myriad of lies.

    But it hasn’t happened yet. There are signs that our MPs are beginning to wake up to their responsibilities. At the very least, there’s a reasonable hope that a No Deal Brexit will be avoided – thanks to Parliament, NOT the UK government – even though No Deal is the legal default if nothing else is agreed in the meantime. But a People’s Vote is clearly in the air now, and with Parliament and Government and even the Cabinet itself at a complete and utter impasse, putting it back to the electorate is the obvious way forward.

    I am still deeply worried, there is still masses of scope for everything to go horribly wrong, but I am not yet despairing: there is still hope. We shouldn’t have to ‘hope’, though. We shouldn’t have to ‘hope’ that the government of a country like the UK won’t deliberately inflict enormous economic and social harm on us. The whole situation is lunacy on a grand scale. But still: I do hope. Report abuse

  • Marco, 150
    You ask:   I just wonder how the US electorate would react to a potential president or VP called “Castro”!
     
    My sense, for what it’s worth, is that the hardcore Trump supporter, will not vote for Castro, and will probably use his name against him.  However, the majority of the population who voted for Clinton – or should have voted for her if she would have just got the people to the polls in the right states to have made an electoral college victory – will not be bothered by a common Hispanic name.  Keep in mind that Castro has been elected the mayor of a large city in the State of Texas.  If his policies are correct, he stands as much chance as anyone to win the nomination of the Democratic party as any other candidate.  See also LaurieB’s 152 comments.  It’s too early to pick a winner in the nomination process.
     
    Another thing to keep in mind about Castro, as well as the other candidates, is that a lot of people who voted for Trump, voted twice for Obama, and he left office with record high approval ratings.  They voted for Trump because they got sucked into his lies about how bad the country was and they believe his stupid slogan.  Furthermore, Clinton dropped the ball by failing to campaign effectively in the states that would have given her an electoral college victory.  I really believe that those people will vote Democratic next time because they are being hurt by Trump’s “policies”.  I agree with you and others that there are several good candidates coming forth.  I think Kamala Harris will also be a good candidate, she has been the Attorney General of the State of California – an elected position.  I still haven’t written off Elizabeth Warren, although she receives a lot of criticism for lacking charisma.
     
    There’s a young man by the name of David Packman who has a youtube show in which he analyzes political issues.  For the most part, I enjoy his analysis.  He has kind of an interesting background.  According to what I’ve seen him explain, his family left Germany before the rise of Hitler and settled in Argentina where David was born.  His family emigrated to the United States when he was one or two years old.  He holds an MBA degree, and sometimes teaches at one of the colleges in Boston, Mass. (not Harvard).  David makes no secret of the fact that while he is culturally Jewish, he does not in any way subscribe to religious beliefs.  For the most part, I find his commentary interesting and pretty well thought out.  If you just google David Packman, you’ll find his videos.  I think he’ll be a good source of information on the candidates as the field widens and then gets narrowed out.
     
    The State of Iowa is already gearing up for the first-in-the-nation political caucuses.  Although Iowa was the spring board for Obama, the people there are more likely to narrow the field because if a candidate comes in last, or close to the bottom in Iowa, their money quickly dries up.  There’s a good article on Politico today about the expected large crowds.     Report abuse

  • Marco

    Oh! The reference to the Castro of Cuba was completely lost on me! Probably because I never found him to be particularly threatening and therefore not on my personal radar although I suppose there are some fear based anti-commie thinkers out there who would find the name similarity to be substantially threatening. I agree with Michael’s analysis in the first paragraph of his comment above. Castro is an entirely respectable candidate.

    Brexit has always been first and foremost a Libertarian project: small state, low tax, small-to-zero public services, privatised NHS, low-to-zero worker/consumer rights and low-to-zero environmental protections.

    Well, that sounds familiar. As you have said here before, “Two cheeks of the same arse” (forgive me if the wording is a bit off). I’ve adopted the phrase even if my fellow Americans regard me quizzically. It’s perfect. So be it.

    Michael

    I will be interested to hear what Packman has to say. Report abuse

  • Michael #154

    Interesting and insightful comments, as always. Thank you!

    Good point about the need not just to get the most votes, but to get the most votes in the right states. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Hillary Clinton did actually win the popular vote and that it was the Electoral College that did for her. I’m quite sure you’re right that whoever is the Democrat candidate next time will pull out all the stops to prevent that happening again. Flawed electoral systems have an awful lot to answer for (as Britain knows – or should know – only too well).

      Report abuse

  • Michael #154

    See also LaurieB’s 152 comments.

    Moses’ 10 commandments
    Luther’s 95 theses
    Laurie’s 152 comments

    Steven Pinker was right: our moral arc is improving! Report abuse

  • Laurie #155

    As you have said here before, “Two cheeks of the same arse” (forgive me if the wording is a bit off).

    The wording is spot on. Delighted to hear you’ve adopted it! Report abuse

  • Marco 156, re: the electoral college.  I apologize in advance for the length of this.
    Regarding the electoral college, it’s my understanding that it made sense to the framers of the US Constitution.  Here’s how I understand the framers’ thinking.  Basically, with some exceptions, they were wealthy landowners and colonial, slave owning, aristocrats.  They did not want to establish a democracy, because their reading of history told them that democracies quickly become cumbersome, and soon collapse.  Basically, they did not trust the masses of “the people,” the mob,  because they knew that “the people” are too easy to manipulate.  Rather, they wanted to establish a democratic republic controlled by individuals such as themselves.  “The people” actually had very little to say about who served in the government.  Of the three branches of the government, only one half of one branch was directly elected by “the people,” namely the House of Representatives of the legislative branch – Article I of the Constitution.  The other house, the senate, was composed of members appointed by state legislatures.  The second branch of government, the President, was elected by the electoral college the members of which were appointed by the states.  The third branch, the Supreme Court, consisted of justices appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.  Each of those offices had various lengths of service time.  The members of the House of Representatives – those elected directly by “the people” must stand for election every two years.  That is to say, the members who are directly answerable to “the people” have the shortest term of office.  Why?  Because “the people” are likely to make terrible mistakes when they base their decisions on the passions of the moment, so they’d better have the chance to correct their mistakes frequently.  On the other hand, the senators and the president, serve for six and four years respectively because they answer to the state legislatures rather than to “the people.”  The justices of the Court, who are appointed entirely at the federal level, without any input from the states, are appointed for life – or during “good behavior,” at their commission document states.  Things began to change in 1913 when the 17th amendment to the Constitution was passed which provides that Senators are elected directly by “the people.” 
    In the old days, the political parties nominated their candidates for the presidency by votes of delegates to the party convention.  For the most part, the delegates were pretty much hand selected by the leaders of the party, and “the people” had very little to say about who the nominee of the party would be.  The real decisions were made in the proverbial cigar smoke filled back rooms of the conventions.  Sometimes conventions would go several days – vote after vote – until the nominee was selected.  I can still remember the 1960 Democratic convention during which no one knew for sure who the nominee would be.  Lyndon Johnson, the majority leader in the Senate, was considered the front runner.  John Kennedy, a wealthy senator from Massachusetts, was a strong contender although it was very doubtful that a Catholic could be elected in November.  I was 16 years old, and can remember watching the news reports, and hearing my parents’ friends and neighbors speculate, three days into the convention, who would win the nomination – no one, even the delegates, knew who would win.  Finally, Richard Daily, the mayor of Chicago, was able to deliver the required number of delegate votes and Kennedy won.  In the 1970s, after the Watergate scandal, both major parties made reforms so that the nominees are chosen by “the people” mostly in primary elections.  In order to vote in a primary election, you only need to say you’re a member of the party, and the party has no say whatsoever on who can consider themselves a member.  Now, the nominee is selected several months before the conventions and the conventions are really a useless relic of the past.    
    So in today’s United States, “the people” have a lot more to say about who the members of the government will be.  I think that in 1913, or at least in the 1970s when the parties reformed the nominating process, the electoral college should have been eliminated.  For better or worse, “the people” have more to say about who the senators and president will be.  Candidates, however, must still keep this 18th century institution in mind when strategizing their campaigns. 
    In one sense, I think the framers of the Constitution were correct that “the people” are too prone to be swayed by the passions of the moment.  On the other hand, do we want the aristocrats or the likes of Boss Tweed or “King Richard” Daley deciding who the “elected” officials will be?  “King Richard” gave us John Kennedy, and “the people” gave us Donald Trump.  If the leaders of the Republican party had chosen the nominee, it would have been someone like Jeb Bush or some other competent member of their party who knows something about how government works.  I have never voted for a Republican, but until now, I never thought that a Republican President would be this disastrous.  “The people” rejected all the Republican candidates and chose someone who, very much like “the people,” has no idea how government works.  The Founders thought their system would allow the cream to rise to the top, and they were afraid that too much involvement by “the people” would allow incompetent leaders to come to power.  In January 2019, the government of the United States is in complete chaos, either closed or operated by dedicated workers who are not being paid.  With “the people” now in charge of the process, I have to wonder if our democracy is too cumbersome to survive.                    Report abuse

  • Michael 100

    Nice comment. It’s interesting to read between the lines and understand what the founders were really worried about. Avoidance of monarchy and their clerical enablers and tyranny but on the other hand, the rabble couldn’t be trusted either. Such an interesting dilemma!

    Oh to go back in time and sit in on those conversations amongst the revolutionaries! Report abuse

  • I just read a new article by journalist David Cay Johnston, the author of the book It’s Even Worse Than You Think, What The Trump Administration Is Doing To America.  The headline on the article states:  Trump Wants To Run The U.S. Like A Banana Republic.  The focus of the article is about how little understanding Trump has of how the government of the United States works.  The article is found at https://www.dcreport.org/2019/01/23/trump-turns-the-u-s-into-a-banana- 
    To demonstrate the lack of respect for the office of the Speaker of the House, Johnston relates a story, first reported in the Washington Post, of when former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, was at the White House to talk about health care legislation, Trump, during Ryan’s presentation, simply got up and left the room as though Ryan was completely unimportant.  That incident was also talked about by David Packman in a video I watched yesterday in which Mr. Packman cites this as an example of Trump’s childishness.  The video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qozzYXbkTF4.
    I have no experience in dealing with stubborn, unruly, children, but I wonder if the responsible members of the government should consult child psychologists or other experts from whom they can receive parenting advise.  What a sad state of affairs.    

  • Meanwhile – Milk producers in India, are feeling the “benefit” of religious thinking!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-46984569

    Milk traders in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu have complained to police over the rampant theft of milk ahead of movie releases in the state.
    On certain religious occasions, Hindus pour milk over idols of deities but many fans have adopted this practice in the hope that a film will become a hit.

    Milk traders say they face heavy losses as a result.

    “It is a practice for worshipping gods – not film stars,” the president of the state’s milk traders association said.

     

    It must be that “superior religious morality” being expressed! ☺

  • I’m trying to find a video that I saw on this site quite some time ago. It’s a beautiful creation of receptors on the surface of a cell. I can’t remember if it was part of the article of the day or if it was just posted as a link by someone in the discussion. Anyone else remember it? I searched the site and did a google video search but came up with nothing as attractive as the one I remember.

    A little help please? Report abuse

  • Both of those are interesting. The video I’m searching for resembled the one in Olgun’s youtube video but was more general than that one. I’m still searching. Grrr! Why didn’t I bookmark that other one?!!

    Daughter-in-law creating a presentation on the gene editing situation that took place lately in China. That guy was trying to edit out the CCR5 cell receptor that HIV virus uses to dock onto and break into cells. Want to start off presentation with explanation of what cell receptors are. That video was beautiful and efficient.

    Thanks. Report abuse

  • Phil

    I read Power, Sex, Suicide a while back but you remind me that I need to read through the rest of Lane’s stuff. I’ve been zoning out on some light sci fi lately and need to get back to business. Can’t take anymore political books. Can’t face how bad things really are. Lane seems just about right for the next book. Report abuse

  • The most delicious light stuff for me has been The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. A musical box of chocolates with all good centres,,,,,

    I’m hitting politics more and more “In God We Trust” Kevin Krause will probably be followed by “Winter War”. Hoover, FDR transition hiatus by Eric Rauchway. I’m fascinated how the New Deal and WWII government competence appears to be a substantial component in the capitalist led hatred of governments. Governments and people must be kept apart at all possible costs.

    Did you ever read Andreas Wagner, Arrival of the Fittest? Its still one of the biggest new ideas in all of biochemistry and evolution. It also has some great explanation of these heat powered lock and key nanobots…. Report abuse

  • I see there has finally been a UK conviction for severe child abuse!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47094707

    The mother of a three-year-old girl has become the first person in the UK to be found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM).

    Spells and curses intended to deter police and social workers from investigating were found at the Ugandan woman’s home, the trial heard.

    The defendants, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denied FGM and an alternative charge of failing to protect a girl from risk of genital mutilation.

    Mrs Justice Whipple warned of a “lengthy” jail term as she remanded the woman into custody to be sentenced on 8 March.

    Those delusional supernatural beliefs really can mess up the thinking of the uneducated! Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.