Jun 1, 2019

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Open Discussion – March 2019



39 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION JUNE 2019

  • The June 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

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  • 2
    Michael 100 says:

    I Don’t understand voters like those in the video. Don’t they know how the political system works?  Time and time again the Democrats have implemented policies and programs for working people (can you say “Social Security”?), and time & time again the Republicans have opposed them and done everything they can to cripple Democratic Presidents who want to do more for working people.  And yet the people like those in the video fall for an obvious con-man like Trump, or Bush, or Bush, or Regan, or Nixon, or Eisenhower.  And then they wonder why their jobs and health care and education disappear. Why would anyone other than a banker or a religious fanatic even consider voting for a Republican?  

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  • Hi!

    My name is Tolulope, and I am new here. Let me here and now say well done to the mods and everyone on the team…

    I want to ask about mysticism and other forms of diabolical manifestations. Does anyone know any science to them?

    I ask because I live in an area of the world world were such things are a daily occurrence and real too. For instance, there are cases of blood-money rituals. Another example would be employing the services of a traditional herbalist to help in doing away a person or making the person go mad… Convincing persons who are witnesses to such events that are scientifically inexplicable, otherwise, seem Herculean..

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


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  • 4
    Michael 100 says:

    Pardon my cynicism, but I can’t help but wonder how many of those expressing grief, horror and shock about the latest shooting, voted for politicians funded by the NRA.  How many own guns themselves?  It’s time for a massive buy back of guns of all sizes and shapes. No civilian needs a gun for any reason whatsoever.  Ban the sales of guns now and destroy those that exist.

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  • Welcome Tolulope

    A good first question for me would be, why does it only happen in your part of the world?

    You can look at the particular culture, rituals, past beliefs and how stories can grow to an extent that they no longer represent reality or the original. If you have had personal experience then to revisit what happened and how it might be different to what you experienced at the time. I have done this and found it to be vital in understanding my your own perceptions better.


    It it might be better if you gave us a personal experience of yours, rather than a story passed down

    many times.

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  • Thank you very much Olgun.

    I wonder pretty much the same and I in fact, use that same question in my discussions with friends. I really don’t know why these occur in somewhat localized pockets. This, nonetheless, doesn’t mean they aren’t real. It’s why trying to take the concept of God and the devil away from people is hard. The most I have experienced personally is the “Night hag syndrome”. I understand now that it’s a condition called sleep paralysis. But, many other phenomena aren’t that lucky. I have seen people go mad (mentally dysfunctioned) as a consequence of telling a lie at a shrine, I have seen some persons sacrifice some part of their body in a bid to get rich – and they do get very rich, while the sacrificed body part wither progressively. I have seen some persons disappear from a state and appear somewhere else entirely immediately. These aren’t illusions. All these events further cement people’s beliefs in gods and other “powers-that-be”… If we can’t really, scientifically and otherwise, explain these experiences to the lay person, weaning them off of the generic god concept, I think would be next to impossible.

    I used to be Christian, and for a long time, my belief in God stemmed from the belief that there was a devil (Satan). This, evidenced by super-than-natural occurrences in the environment.

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  • 7
    Michael 100 says:

    Tolulope Arogundade #  6. It seems to me that you are in a difficult and possibly dangerous situation about which I am not qualified to give advice.  The last thing I want to do is tell you something which would put you in jeopardy. I do have one or two suggestions that you might find helpful for your own piece of mind.

    First, I would suggest a couple books:  1) The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, a 1995 book by astrophysicist Carl Sagan; 2) Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, is an excellent work in which you will find good advice.  There are many others, but these two are a good beginning if you haven’t read them already.

    My second suggestion is that you should rest assured that you are correct that science and reason provide better, reality based, explanations than those put forward by alternative viewpoints.  

    My friend Olgun is a knowledgeable source of information as are others who I expect will respond soon. In the meantime, stay strong and safe.

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  • Tolulupe #6

    I have seen some persons disappear from a state and appear somewhere else entirely immediately.

    No, you haven’t.

    These aren’t illusions. 

    Yes, they are.

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  • Tolulupe #6


    My father grew up at an uneducated time in Cyprus. He used to tell me off for reading too much because, he believed ( because he saw it with his own eyes) an accountant in his village went mad because he too read too much. That was the only link the (uneducated) villagers could find with why he had gone mad. They were not educated, and therefore didn’t read nearly as much, and that was the reason ( through their uneducated experience) they could find. Hardly a scientific breakthough don’t you think? Our brains need to find links but if your education is limited then you can only guess at that link and if your knowledge is limited then it will almost always be a bad/ wrong guess at best.


    Another question to you is, how can you witness some one disappearing from one place and appearing in another if you are not in both places at the same time yourself? If it was one part of the room to another, in which you will actually be in, then I am afraid that this “trick” is done all the time by people who practice “slight of hand” but call themselves “magicians” for entertainment purposes.


    The link below shows a trick  being performed. The question for me, and the clue to the slight of hand, is, why did he need to put the four of hearts, his example of a full size card, in his right hand pocket? You might be able to work it out from there?





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  • I deeply appreciate your comments Marco and Olgun. I’m also reading “how the mind works” by Steven Pinker, pretty enlightening too.

    Like I said, I used to be Christian but I had an abiding romance with science. I was genuinely interested in knowing how things worked. I set aside bias and sentiments, and asked the hard questions. The “no-go-areas”… It all fell apart afterwards. My fiancée left me,  that was hurtful.

    What ways are there to pique curiosity in people who would normally be labeled dogmatist and absolutist? Is it possible to jumpstart people who are otherwise in a state of cognitive dissonance? What question would you ask to such a one that would introduce a speck of doubt in their closed minds? Is there hope for such people? How can we make science more interesting and relatable to the simpleton and layperson?


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  • 12
    Michael 100 says:

    Tolulope Arogundade # 11:  When you finish reading Pinker’s How the Mind Works, I hope you will post a review in the Book Club section of this site, I for one would love to read your impressions of the book.
    Regarding your question about how to pique curiosity in people who are dogmatic and absolutist I might recommend some of Victor J. Stenger’s books – not to immediately give to others, but to bolster your ability to reason with such people.  If you go to the Book Club and scroll to #34, you will see some remarks I made about God: The Failed Hypothesis.  That’s only one of his books on the same subject, but I found it quite helpful to demonstrate that supernatural claims can be tested scientifically, and that those claims fail every time.  If people will listen to you, you can explain that the old ways simply do not withstand critical scrutiny.  The problem is that until people figure out that demons and gods don’t exist, they will refuse to listen to reason, however once the blindness of faith falls away, my experience is that people become hungry for information.  Furthermore, there is a lot of pressure on people to cling to religion — religion is, in addition to being a means of social control, big business and priests see reason as a threat to their livelihood.      
    We are so lucky to be living at this present time because there is a wealth of scientific information at our finger tips.  Gone are the days when anyone needs to be bound to the superstitions of the ancient times.  And, little by little, those superstitions are disappearing into the dust bin of history (See, Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now).

  • Tolulope #11

    To be honest, in light of how Brexiters are able to suspend reality in the U.K, I don’t know how to pique people’s curiosity. I can work with those who show an interest and prefer to talk about the wonders of science rather than religion, hoping that they can come to the conclusion that there is not god or magic once they have gotten their minds around how the world, and universe work. I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination but, have come to a point sufficient enough that the common sense of one makes the other a nonsense. I have not passed on any religious rubbish to my children so there is another three that have been saved the trouble of working their way out of a delusion. I hope I have had a few more successes in the greater members of my family through spending nearly all our money on education, with my children doing well, and showing the way. A bit like your example  where, in your part of the world, people cutting off body parts in order to become rich is interpreted as, people who study do quite well. I suppose I can claim we cut off what We could buy for ourselves (my wife) and spent it on the children’s education instead. Fully practical with no magic involved. If the success is the end game then only how to get there changing might be the key?

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  • I see there are more cases coming to light of abuses by fundamentalist religious leaders!

    Naasón Joaquín García, who heads La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church, was detained at Los Angeles airport, California prosecutors said.

    Mr García, known as “the Apostle” among his followers, and his three female co-defendants are facing 26 charges.

    These included human trafficking, production of child sex abuse images and forcible rape of a minor.

    As with Pell, the they deny everything, and play the “holier person above such things” card!

    It seems to be a sheeple herding organisation with mass baptisms,  hysterical crowds, and the abused youngsters being told that obeying abusive  “Apostle”was “the will of god”!

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  • Hi Vicki #14

    Thanks for this.

    We’re asking the court to apply bedrock constitutional law and principles to a wholly new set of facts

    This is the essence of the case. It is finding within a democracy a way of using the law to deny free rein to a rich and influential few, who freeload off The Commons, the assets owned by all.

    The manipulative parasites may deliver much that we enjoy, but it is our duty to keep them in check. Low empathy folk may mostly run the show, but it is we who more vest our cares in our children, that need to find levers to pull to redirect the out of control trolley. Yes we may see a few of the 0.1% run over but a better proportion of the 99.9% may be spared.

    The biggest problem our society faces is how to deal with our psychopaths. We need to find as many controlling levers as possible.

    On the book thread I’ll post something on “The Goodness Paradox” by Richard Wrangham. His hypothesis is that “goodness” as a moralising force may have emerged in early hunter gatherer societies because we were adept at hunting collectively and given the opportunity for weaker males to secretly conspire against oppressive alpha males because of the advent of language, these alphas were taken out of the reproductive loop far earlier, breeding ultimately more agreeable and co-operative alpha males. We started like chimps but became far more cooperative for much of our hunter-gatherer past.


    We need another wave of breeding our alphas to the benefit of all, not just themselves.


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  • A brilliant howl of despair here about the state of the Anglo (US, UK) world:

    Hard to pick a single highlight, but maybe this:

    Can anyone really deny by now that Anglo societies are the world’s greatest hotbeds, breeding grounds, and maybe even industrial-scale laboratories of imbecility…by a very long way? Where else do you find gigantic, unbelievable spectacles like armed teachers, kids pretend dying, economic suicide, imploding middle classes voting for their own ruin, and people taking away their own healthcare and retirement (while people Facebook applause at Insta-celebrities while it all burns down)…not by mistake, but by design? Not by accident, but deliberately? If that’s not imbecility, my friends, what is?

    In one respect, though, the author doesn’t go far enough. He hints at the underlying cause of this mass outbreak of “ignorance, demagoguery and self-inflicted catastrophe” and the connection with capitalism and neoliberalism, but doesn’t develop that part of his theme. Yes, US and UK societies are awash with all the ills he so vividly describes, but consider where they have come from, and why. Look at the trash that passes for ‘entertainment’ on our TV channels, all playing to the lowest common denominator. Look at the mind-numbing celebrity obsession that fills the newsagents’ shelves. Look at the lack of real journalism in most of our newspapers. Look at the ubiquitous subtle and not-so-subtle messages that to be “cool” you have to buy this, wear that, drive the other. That wealth and success are synonymous. That having stuff is all that matters. That celebrities should be our role models. That cleverness is decidedly “uncool”. That art, classical music, classical literature, philosophy, science, even thoughtful discussion are “boring” and “elitist”.

    There are two groups of people who benefit from a nation of imbeciles: those who will make money from them and those who exercise power over them. And since those who make money from us (the corporations, the press barons) and those who seek to exercise power over us (the politicians, the press barons again) are the very ones setting the national agendas in the Anglo world – the ones deciding the content of our newspapers, magazines, TV schedules and school curricula; the very ones telling us what our priorities should be, what we should think, who we should support, who our enemies are – it is impossible not to conclude that the infantilisation and imbecilification of our societies has been entirely deliberate. (Imbecilification may not be a real word … but if not, it should be.)

    Why have so many countries in Western Europe not succumbed to this horror to anything like the extent that the Anglo world has? Despite also being in thrall to capitalism? I would argue that there are two reasons: the first is that they generally still genuinely respect and cherish culture and education, and this arms them more effectively against these tendencies. Converse with any German and you will soon discover they do not share our national aversion to serious discussion or displays of knowledge. Nor have they been taught that art and classical music and other forms of entertainment considered “highbrow” here are “not for people like them”. And the second reason is that most Western European countries still have a pronounced sense of solidarity: they just have a much more solidly in-built sense that society matters and that we all have a role to play in it, we all matter and we all need to do our bit. Of course I’m not suggesting that they are perfect or that they’re completely immune to our national imbecility. Of course they are neither. But they have more in-built defences against it, defences that to some extent result from the fact that social and economic inequality in those countries, while still high, is nowhere near as extreme as it is in the Anglo world.

    I don’t like it when people point out the stupidity of individuals. Individuals are the product of their societies, and in the Anglo world those societies are so arranged as to deliberately create mass stupidity.

    Anyway – it’s a great piece, well worth a read.



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  • Marco,

    From the American point of view, this paragraph from your linked article rang very true:

    All that he knows how to wield is the sledgehammer of stupidity, the gun of idiocy, and the fist of folly.
    And he will use it on everything, if he is told just this much: “destroy this, and you will be the one who prevails!” He will obey — even if the target is his democracy, his future, his society, his life savings, his job, his income, himself. He doesn’t see the paradox, the problem, the issue. He cannot think that far, because he is not thinking at all to begin with. You can never make him see any problem with his illogic, because he is already looking, in awe, at a certain kind of heaven. A place where he will be a king, a saint, and a billionaire — even if he has to destroy himself to do it. Bang! Democracy is replaced by something like a mass system of willing suicide.

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  • Not just American, Laurie. It’s also the UK’s Leave voters to a T.

    I’ve always said that the Leave vote in June 2016 was the culmination of 40 years determined effort on the part of the UK’s self-serving billionaires. You only have to look through the headlines of the Murdoch press during that time. It’s been a seriously long-term project.

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  • Marco says:

    Leave vote in June 2016 was the culmination of 40 years determined effort on the part of the UK’s self-serving billionaires. You only have to look through the headlines of the Murdoch press during that time.

    Yes! Unfortunately,  the consensus of ignorance was busy cheering it’s confirmed threat to shoot itself in the other foot!

    I see that the bill to have parliament and MPs take on the responsibility for the brexit timetable, which  they are paid to supervise in the national interest, and despite 10 Tory MPs standing up for the national interest,  it was voted down by the ERG disaster profiteering speculators, plus the  “Torons” aided and abetted by 8 Labour brexiteers!


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  • Marco

    Oh yes, it’s been a very long con indeed! It feels like there’s a checklist that is slowly coming to completion.

    Destroy workers’ rights by fighting unions and other groups who advocate for them thereby reducing them from confident middle class citizens to poverty level quasi slaves who live from one tenuous paycheck to the next.
    Even though the Constitution guarantees a separation of church and state, maintain a facade of sanctimonious religiosity with strong connection to morality and link atheism to the horror of the communism of the enemy. Keep the great unwashed masses confused between fantasy and reality.
    Allow religion to infiltrate the education system to enable support for indoctrination of children and confuse supernatural and science based knowledge acquisition.
    Block access to medical care to the bottom half so they remain fearful and desperate and lose their meager savings trying to keep themselves and their children alive.
    Eliminate pensions to keep workers chained to their jobs until they drop in their spots.
    Stack the Supreme Court and other high courts with pawns of super capitalism to enforce the transfer of power and wealth to the top 1%. Think Citizens United. John Roberts sealed the deal.
    Make free press appear to be the “enemy of the people”

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  • Alan #20

    Yes, I saw that too. The complacency and cowardice of our parliamentarians is beyond belief. They can always find an excuse for doing the wrong thing.

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  • Marco #17

     (Imbecilification may not be a real word … but if not, it should be.)

    I most definitely agree!


    Thanks for the link–a marvelous piece, and a marvelous post!

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  • On reflection, I think the usual word for ‘imbecilification’ is ‘dumbing down’.

    And if that isn’t the perfect example of imbecilification, I don’t know what is 😀

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  • Marco #17

    Excellent piece, but of course, I particularly appreciate your further analysis.

    Hyper individualism, notable in the US and UK in respective order, does seem to have licensed the excessive liberty taken by our countries’ alphas. (Indeed this perfected individualism is as praised by Larry Siedentop in the last chapter of “Inventing the Individual”. Sorry, Cairsley, but this is in effect what he commends about the US over Europe.) If the UK is less hyper individualistic I propose this is because it is less religious.

    Be that as it may, dealing with our psychopaths is our number one problem. We are hugely biddable once put under quite modest pressure and it is the alphas doing most of the bidding. Our task is first to notice alphas when they occur, and then to notice the problems they can particularly cause us. Then to find ways of mitigating those problems.


    There does seem a credible link between shallow affect and consumerism, (OK I’m addicted to Killing Eve. American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis pioneered the observation, though.)

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  • 27
    Michael 100 says:

    Olgun #26, extremely frustrating, to be sure.  The Brexiters, like those who supported Trump in 2016, think they sound intelligent, but as in the video you posted, their ideas don’t withstand even a minimum of scrutiny.  Check this video, which I just saw last night.  I think Mr. Eddy – the interviewee –  has some good ideas.

  • Michael #27


    Thanks for that video Michael. I like the end especially. I have been trying, in my awkward way, to say that I think complacency has been the key to the failure of right thinking people.  Those educated better than me have not matched the intensity of the sociopaths, who are charged with putting out ten times the amount of false claims in the video. I remember a discussion about whether to give Farrage (in the U.K.) a platform or not. The intelligent/fair answer was yes, in a democratic world. Some said he would make a fool of himself and he would therefore not be taken seriously. They then sat back and hoped to watch it happen. They did not match the ferocity and soon found they had lost. Still today, most don’t want to share a platform with him. He is not worth bothering about. His bubble will soon burst. Well it hasn’t and it wont. Our elite will have to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for that to happen but first, I suppose, they have to realise their mistake and arrogance in the first place.

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  • In addition to #28


    What seems to be happening at the moment though is, the Conservatives are trying to fight fire with fire, without actually going to the site of the fire, and pitching Borris Johnson, as Farrage and UKIP are a great threat. Labour is waiting to pick up pieces when the Conservatives collapses and the Liberal Democrat’s are happy to pick up anything they can including the odd deflecting politician. No one but some of the media are tackling the Farrage and UKIP problem at the source for fear of upsetting the Brexiters. Trump seems to be enjoying the same licence.

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  • Just watched the trailer Phil. That looks amazing too. We saved watching Blacked Mirror for Cyprus. Will have to catch up on Years and Years when we get back home in a couple of weeks. I am still buzzing from this episode of Blacked Mirror. So so clever.


    Can we say this reviewer missed something or am I missing something? I was playing out the “wish my wife was like my best friend” thing and even going into bonobo behaviour. Maybe I was way off?




  • Also Phil


    I enjoyed, though I could see it coming, the real kiss and fight near the end. That it was okay to have virtual sex, which is not illegal in reality but sort of frowned upon, and getting arrested for having a real fight when you can kick seven bells out of each other in the virtual world. It felt like an apology for being so hard on the virtual reality world throughout the series.

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  • I see that one of the new green technologies being trialled in the UK and Germany, is hydrogen fuel-cell trains, for operation away from main-line overhead cabling!

    Hydrogen-powered trains are said to be the greenest trains out there.

    “Mini power stations on wheels”, is how a University of Birmingham researcher describes them, as they give off zero emissions and their only by-product is water.

    There are some short videos on the link explaining more details.

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  • Alan4discussion:

    Hydrogen, as a fuel, is more like a battery than petrol. You can’t simply “dig it up”, it needs to be created (whether by electrolysis or cracking or some other method), which has an energy cost & efficiency. So the trains aren’t “mini power stations” in the sense that they are only re-converting stored energy, with the inherent efficiency of that conversion.

    Hydrogen certainly has its uses, but I don’t think trains are one. Trains are “fixed” to their tracks, so are much better suited to direct electrical connection. Heavy trucks (only to be used where the tracks don’t run…) ARE a better use for hydrogen.

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  • ShadowMind says:

    Hydrogen, as a fuel, is more like a battery than petrol. You can’t simply “dig it up”, it needs to be created (whether by electrolysis or cracking or some other method), which has an energy cost & efficiency.

    This is true, but there are new clean technologies for producing hydrogen from water using solar-thermal or nuclear energy.

    BoulderEngineers from the University of Colorado Boulder have devised a solar-thermal system that can be used to split water in order to produce clean hydrogen fuel.

    This could basically set up hydrogen production facitilites in sunny desert climates where water (rivers) is available or piped in.

    There is also the proposal for a SKYLON based  Mach 5 hypersonic airliner using hydrogen as a fuel, in a hybrid air-breathing jet/ Lox-hydrogen rocket, engine, from Reaction Engines UK.

    Toyota and others also have fuel-cell hydrogen car projects.

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  • ShadowMind

    The Chinese have a project to set up molten salt reactors, possibly using thorium, and using these for various purposes including creating synthetic fuels.

    Methanol, hydrogen etc.

    See this link for details.

    Molten salt reactors can produce one thousandth of the radioactive waste of existing nuclear reactors because of deep burn.


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