OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2020

Aug 1, 2020

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

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28 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2020

  • Welcome to the August 2020 open discussion thread.

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

    Thank you.

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  • In The Selfish Gene, our esteemed host wrote:

    “We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. […] We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.”

    What is meant by this? Who is this “we” that can rebel against the tyranny of our “program”? Where if not in our very genes and cultural and personal memes would the desire to rebel against them reside? What is left without them? When we feel that we can oppose our nature or act against its imperatives, isn’t it just another part of our nature that’s behind that motivation (in which case there’s an inherent contradiction in the idea of rebelling against it)? How can it be otherwise? I develop the idea a bit further here: https://medium.com/swlh/our-genes-dont-give-a-fig-about-our-happiness-477c4ae9c0b9?source=friends_link&sk=14b5287dc1a526e2c4d79decf142e9f7


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  • Cristóbal de Losada says:

    “We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination.

    I would suggest that if you want to understand “The Selfish Gene”, that you read the book, rather than reading flea-book quotes from it which fail to clearly explain the details.

    https://royalsociety.org/news/2017/07/science-book-prize-poll-results/

    Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, has topped a public poll of the most inspiring science books of all time, commissioned by the Royal Society to mark the 30th year of the prestigious Royal Society Science Book Prize. It is followed by Bill Bryson’s 2003 book A Short History of Nearly Everything in second place, and Charles Darwin’s 1859 classic On the Origin of Species in third place.    

    Participants called The Selfish Gene a “masterpiece” and Dawkins an “excellent communicator”, with many commenting on how the book had changed their perspective of the world and the way they were trained to see science.

    The quality of the scientific explanations is recognised by the prestigious UK Royal Society – the Country’s top scientific body.

    What is meant by this?

    What is meant, is that civilised societies can be educated to accommodate  social support, and the  Humanist ethics of reciprocal altruism, which can over-ride the instinctive selfish biological mechanisms of gene replication for the purposes of the propagation of particular genes.

    Who is this “we” that can rebel against the tyranny of our “program”?

    “We”, are the communities which can draw up laws and cultural traditions, that  put human welfare as a priority ahead of the selfish replication of our genes which callously cause suffering and death to significant numbers of our populations  in the form of infant mortalities and starvation etc. by reckless instinctive activities such as over populating the planet and inflicting the consequences of this on it populations.

    We should also be directing resources to education producing competence and expertise in understanding the workings of nature, rather than the proselytising memetic replication of superstitions and god-delusions in human brains.


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  • Alan4discussion says:

    What is meant, is that civilised societies can be educated to accommodate  social support, and the  Humanist ethics of reciprocal altruism, which can over-ride the instinctive selfish biological mechanisms of gene replication for the purposes of the propagation of particular genes.

    “We”, are the communities which can draw up laws and cultural traditions, that  put human welfare as a priority ahead of the selfish replication of our genes which callously cause suffering and death to significant numbers of our populations  in the form of infant mortalities and starvation etc. by reckless instinctive activities such as over populating the planet and inflicting the consequences of this on it populations.

    Even though I’d be genuinely interested in knowing what precisely Richard Dawkins had in mind when he wrote that paragraph, my question could be considered largely rhetorical. After all, my further questions are in fact answering my “What is meant by this?”. This idea that we can rebel against our nature (which is constituted by nothing but our genes and memes) doesn’t seem too compelling to me. It’s as if a free-willed soul is being invoked. I believe in neither souls nor free will, that’s why I find that passage puzzling. Of course R.D. doesn’t believe in souls either, but perhaps he believes in libertarian free will?

    By the way, I have read The Selfish Gene… I pretty much agree with the results you quoted from the Royalty Society poll: It’s indeed a masterpiece and one of the most inspiring science books of all time.

    On another note, you seem to be suggesting that because our genes are selfish we’re bound to be selfish too. That’s not necessarily so. Selfish genes can create unselfish organisms. The better angels of our nature come from our genes too, not from some sort of Freudian super-ego that hovers above our nature to monitor and suppress our “base instincts”. It’s all part of our nature: the “good” and the “bad”.


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  • Cristóbal de Losada says:
    On another note, you seem to be suggesting that because our genes are selfish we’re bound to be selfish too.

    I don’t say that, but I am very aware that many creationists who have read flea books,  or have looked no further than the title of the book, make that claim, – despite the fact the book itself goes into reciprocal altruism and kin selection, in some depth.

    The sheer brutality of selfish genes, becomes very evident when we look at many aspects of the animal kingdom! – Mortality rates of offspring, parasitism, etc.

     


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  • I don’t want to distract from the interesting discussion started by Cristóbal, but I have been meaning to share this article for several days now: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

    As you’ll see, it’s over 4 years old now, having been written shortly before the Brexit referendum in the UK and the last presidential election in the US. But the truth of it has only become more acute and more obvious since then, and with the next election looming in the US and an even greater lurch to neoliberalism looming in the UK once the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December, it seems even more important than ever to know exactly what we are dealing with.

    It’s a long article, but every line of it packs a punch and provides a crystal clear explanation for the situation we now find ourselves in, both in the UK and the US. I really do recommend it. And since it is such a long article, I’ll quote a few more sections of it than I normally would, to whet your appetites – there is still far more in the article itself:

    The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.
    Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

    ~~~~

    Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.
    Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

    ~~~~

    Chris Hedges remarks that “fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the ‘losers’ who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment”. When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation. To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

    ~~~~

    The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. “The market” sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What “the market wants” tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. “Investment”, as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities “camouflages the sources of wealth”, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

    It’s one of the most insightful articles I’ve seen in the English-language press over the last few years, so I do hope I’ve tempted at least a few people to take a look!

  • I’ve ordered the Naomi Klein The Shock Doctrine.

    I always find reading the reviews of books and films telling. US reviews were split, some thinking it cheap propaganda as their own simplistic ideals were challenged. UK reviews rock solid in favour.

    Brilliant and telling article, Marco. Thanks for it.

    I so want neo-liberalism replaced with a much richer and more sophisticated model of what our financial and economic endeavours could be about. It so fails to extract the full juice from a rich and diverse society. It so fails to have answers for all the big threats it faces, in mismanaging the Commons, in not seeing the end of toil through smarts and automation destroy its customer base. It so fails to demonstrate why it slides into short-termism (gambling is more fun than hard work needed by longer-term investments). It only worked when it could be allowed to manipulate consumers desires, making such desires as trite as there own brief dopamine hits, able to be ever swept  away by the new.


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  • Marco

    I just finished reading the important article that you’ve linked to above. I don’t even know where to begin with the mess we’re in and how much we’ve lost over this Neoliberal model.

    What a long con this is. It’s completely disgusting and I believe the author is correct in saying that the public doesn’t know what Neoliberalism is and they have been influenced to admire the very processes that do them terrible harm.

     


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  • @Marco #6

    I add my kudos too, Marco. That article was a nice summation of what we’ve been witnessing for about the last 40 years or so.

    I can’t help but wonder if Libertarianism isn’t Neo-Liberalism on steroids. Or at the least, the logical progression of it.


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  • Phil, Laurie, Vicki

    So pleased you got as much out of the article as I did. And yes, Vicki, I think libertarianism is just neoliberalism by another name. “Libertarian” sounds so benign, doesn’t it? “Pro-freedom” – what’s not to love? And how handy that it makes it sound as if it were OUR freedom those nice politicians were espousing.

    The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In a world where it’s the exploiters whose freedoms are being promoted at all costs, the freedoms of the exploited must necessarily be curtailed. Because the various protections on which the exploited depend for their freedoms are the very things that constrain the exploiters‘ ability to exploit them more freely.

    The whole thing depresses me enormously. You are so right, Phil: it is such a criminal waste. All that human potential, all that talent, all that creativity, all that potential for joy and fulfilment, all the ways life could be transformed for the better and made more meaningful and rewarding, for far far more people than is the case now; all the ways the world could be improved by creating a more level, less exploitative playing field, by focusing on wellbeing and sustainability and on reducing the obscene inequalities between rich and poor – all blown, all scorned, all shat upon, frankly, because all that matters to those who govern us is continuing to cram the world’s resources – the world’s people included – ever faster, ever more efficiently, ever more comprehensively, into the maw of this grotesque neoliberal monster.

    Brexit was always a project intended to turn the UK into neoliberal USA’s neoliberal little brother. Don’t get me wrong: neoliberalism isn’t new here either: it’s been alive and kicking here ever since Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. But it had been kept within bounds by our EU membership, which mandated a host of rights and protections that enshrined the concept that corporations have responsibilities as well as rights. You only had to look at the track records of those who had agitated longest and loudest against the EU to see how their hatred of the EU was just one aspect of a wider neoliberal agenda. Leaving the EU was always going to mean losing our protections – our employment rights, our health & safety protections, our consumer rights, our food standards, our environmental protections. It was always going to mean far greater privatisation of the NHS. It was absolutely inevitable, because getting rid of these protections was always one of the key drivers of the people behind the anti-EU campaign. And we are already getting a sense of how our post-Brexit world is going to map out. 

    It was so obvious to me, long before the EU referendum. But the reality is proving even more horrific than I’d feared, as not even I had foreseen the assaults on the very structures of democracy that would follow in the hands of a Brexit government: government by unelected political advisor (a man lauded by Steve Bannon, no less), systematic attacks on the impartial civil service, attacks on parliamentary democracy (including the unlawful proroguing of parliament at a crucial point in the passing of the Brexit legislation); daily greater centralisation and authoritarianism, including an unprecedented proposed grab on the powers of the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; packing the already wholly undemocratic House of Lords with Boris Johnson’s Brexit cronies and Conservative Party donors, including the son of a KGB spy; the granting of multiple multi-million pound government contracts to wholly unqualified companies owned by close associates of members of the government, without any kind of open tender process; and the normalisation of government-by-bluster-and-blatant-lie. 

    For everyone’s sake I am desperate for Trump to be defeated in November, and of course, for all of you in the US most of all. But his influence reaches far beyond the US, so I am desperate for it for the UK’s sake too. Boris Johnson is modelling his government on Trump, just gagging for that lovely juicy neoliberal trade deal with Trump’s America. You can bet your boots Johnson is desperate for a Trump victory in November because, like it or not, the US is always the backdrop against which UK governments act. Trumpery suits Johnson and his neoliberal agenda down to the ground.

    Sorry, this post feels quite rambling, even to me, but everything that’s been happening in the US and the UK these last few years has been so interconnected. Neoliberalism, Trump, Brexit: they’re all part of the same utterly hideous nightmare.


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  • Not rambling, Marco. There is a lot of connected material here.

    What seems remarkable to me is how readily we have accepted the new normal of Covid. Had February me been dropped into the diligently masked queue at Tesco just now I would have freaked out. Not a bit of it. My blood pressure is lower than ever. We in fact acclimate to the novel with surprising ease. What I fear is that we are walking into this shameless right wing push with too few noticing.

    On the other hand we may have had our avaricious impulses a little tempered by realising that we need much more to notice and cherish the essentials.

    My son has been urging George Monbiot on me since 2016, first on eco matters and then on his political commentary. My daughter too. My sense of failure as the responsible adult, makes me feel a powerful need for action, for trying to make up for lost time.


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  • @Marco #10

    For everyone’s sake I am desperate for Trump to be defeated in November, and of course, for all of you in the US most of all.

    I had a yard sign custom made that says, “Bye-Don” For President. I’m thinking of getting another one that says, Biden Trumps the Alternative.


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  • Marco  #6

    Many thanks for the hyperlink to George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian. It brings together into a chilling, sober conspectus the cynical, stealthy monstrosity threatening our free, humane, democratic civilization. The aim of neoliberalism is neofeudalism — the dispossession and disenfranchisment of all but the top fraction of one percent of the population, and for no other reason than that those at the top of the wealth hierarchy want all the goodies for themselves. One has to be a narcissistic sociopath to be a neoliberal. No-one of balanced upbringing and liberal education would tolerate such inhuman, antisocietal greed and conceit.

    I agree with you that the approaching presidential and congressional elections in the United States matter immensely in view of this neoliberal threat, and one can only hope that the outcome of that opportunity will be better than that of the opportunity passed up in the United Kingdom last December. Living outside the United States in a land where people’s welfare still takes priority over financial gains, I can only watch from afar and wait to see how the “American people” choose, insofar as they can, which way they wish to go. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, the effects of those elections will reach far beyond that nation’s borders.


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  •  I am Ali Rafiee and I live in the Islamic Republic Of Iran, I am forty-two years old now and after nearly 25 years of researching and following scientific discoveries I have created a very important theory which based on evolutionary biology and sociobiology, I need your help to have the opportunity for publishing it but before that lots of things have to be done, first we need to have a discussion on my theory, and I assure you when you get familiar with my theory, you will understand it how much important it is. 
     
    That is something about pay passion for science:
     
     

    That is why I love science
    That’s why I love Richard Feynman and I always try to have a discussion with him with my heart and my brain and understand his cut face and his excitement when he was talking about sciences especially physics.
    I remember he said:
     living with doubt and uncertainty is much more beautiful than knowing the most important question in my life.

    Please help me to move forward, the most important step is getting out of my country because there here there is no one interested in scientific discoveries, moreover, I can trust no one here, because they take my idea and publish it as their own. I have several experiences with it.
    This is a very important idea and helping each other something great is about to happen in scientific discoveries, not only in evolutionary biology but also in sociology as well.

    And most importantly I got a revolutionary idea

    Which based on science and that refers to evolutionary biology and public understanding science but here no one could help me to make it out because there is not any are to listen to and I can’t blame them, as it is so obvious, you know why.

    My ideas are directly related to education which one can revolutionize. There is no doubt about that.

    Have you seen the video which is called ” The Four Horsemen” the discussion between Richard, Christopher, Dan Danette, And Sam Harris, at the end of the discussion Sam Harris proposed a question for constructing new ideas, so I got it? Would you help me out? Because your foundation as Richard Dawkins always mentions, based on, helping people such as me who live in the Islamic Republic Of Iran.
     In order to share my ideas with you and the world would you please tell me what to do?
    Please Sir would you inform Richard Dawkins about my email?
    Do you know how hard is it to talk about this?
    And please if you know the other way let me know.
    I am deadly waiting for your reply.
    Thank you so much
    Best regards


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  • Ali Rafiee says:

    I have created very important theory which based on evolutionary biology and sociobiology,

    If you have developed ideas on sociobiology, It would be a good idea to check out MEMETICS on Wikipedia, and perhaps get a copy of this book by Susan Blackmore to read.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meme-Machine-Popular-Science/dp/019286212X

    This will allow you to compare your ideas with some of the material which has already been published on that topic.

     

     


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  • Phil #11

    What I fear is that we are walking into this shameless right wing push with too few noticing.

    Are you familiar with the concept of “the culture industry”, Phil? Part of my degree course a million years ago involved engaging with some of the ideas of Marxist critical theory, and I must admit it was a bit of a slog (not that the ideas themselves were particularly complex, but German intellectuals have always tended to get their kicks out of making everything sound as complicated as possible in my experience). That said, the “culture industry” aspect of it has always stayed with me, and has only become more relevant and insightful as the decades have gone by.

    Wiki actually gives a very good, mercifully clear summary of it:

    The term culture industry (GermanKulturindustrie) was coined by the critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), and was presented as critical vocabulary in the chapter “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), wherein they proposed that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods—filmsradio programmes, magazines, etc.—that are used to manipulate mass society into passivity.[1] Consumption of the easy pleasures of popular culture, made available by the mass communications media, renders people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances.[1] The inherent danger of the culture industry is the cultivation of false psychological needs that can only be met and satisfied by the products of capitalism; thus Adorno and Horkheimer especially perceived mass-produced culture as dangerous to the more technically and intellectually difficult high arts. In contrast, true psychological needs are freedomcreativity, and genuine happiness, which refer to an earlier demarcation of human needs, established by Herbert Marcuse. (See Eros and Civilization, 1955)

    On this view, it is no coincidence that the masses don’t notice the horrors being foisted on them. It’s not that the information isn’t available: it’s simply swamped out by a veritable tsunami of crap: celebrity this, celebrity that, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Big Brother, who designed this duchess’s dress, who that prince has been seen with, pop stars, the season’s Must Haves, “Everyone’s talking about this amazing blah blah”, faddy diets, the latest iPhone, the latest bonkers Gwyneth Paltrow pronouncement, celebrity love lives (I mean, srsly: I wouldn’t know Amber Heard or Johnny Depp if they knocked at my front door and asked for a cup of tea, and I never read the celebrity coverage, but even I haven’t been able to escape knowing about the ins and outs of their marriage …).

    Then there’s all the emotionally manipulative stuff, the stuff designed to make people well up with entirely manufactured emotion, the soap operas that lure people into living vicariously and deflecting their care and concern away from the real world, the stuff designed to get them angry (though only ever with the victims of the system, never with those actually responsible: think Benefits Street and similar). Even the occasional vehicles for truth (documentaries, Panorama investigations, etc) maintain the overall effect by serving as a vent and creating the illusion that the powerful can be held to account.

    It is certainly no coincidence that almost no one in the UK had (or has) any real understanding of the EU and how it works. I’ve written about this before, but while campaigning for Remain I was staggered at the ignorance I encountered (and I include myself in that: as a passionate pro-European, I knew a reasonable amount, but still learned a huge amount while researching for the campaign). But when talking to people in the street, it became evident that many Leave voters didn’t have the first clue how or by whom they were governed. I am still reeling from the man who was going to vote Leave because he was fed up of the potholes in his street.

    In a wealthy first-world country with compulsory free education, these things do not happen by chance. On the “culture industry” view, we have been manipulated into devoting our attention and our priorities to stuff with no inherent value so that we do not notice what those in power are doing and so that we find politics boring by comparison and so that we seek our meaning and significance in wearing the right brand of trainers or the “in” shade of nail varnish.

    So you’re absolutely right, Phil: we are indeed walking into this shameless right wing push with too few noticing. And I think the concept of the “culture industry” goes a fair way to explaining it.

  • phil #7

    naomi klein’s the shock doctrine

    watch out for the chile shock doctrine section

    see how r c religion played a vital role

    in “the chicago school’s” ideas spread


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  • Alan #18

    Very much so, so far as keeping the populace docile and complacent was concerned. “Culture industry” goes beyond that in a couple of respects, though: the first is in the standardisation of cultural “products” and the consequent marginalisation of “higher” forms of culture (e.g. the dominance of programmes such as Great British Bake-Off on TV, with the consequent sense that “higher” (sorry, I don’t like the term) forms of culture – such as opera, ballet, live concerts, theatre etc – are more difficult and therefore elitist); and the second is the relentless promotion of capitalism, the relentless creation of the sense that contentment is something we buy.

    Bread and circuses was about keeping the populace docile.
    Culture industry is about keeping the populace docile and spending.

    There’s certainly a strong connection between the two, but culture industry goes further. “Bread and circuses” is certainly snappier than Adorno and Horkheimer’s treatise on the subject though!


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  • @Marco 19 and @Alan4discussion 18

    Reading today’s featured article in the NYT, I couldn’t help conflating your ideas of the ‘culture industry’ and ‘bread and circus’ into the political realm. There were so many talking points made by the evangelicals in the article that were full of holes, yet no one connected those dots. Points such as “Obama is going to take your guns” and “Christians are the majority, but we have no power.” Evangelicals seem to have taken those ideas as presented by ultra-conservative media at face value, without really digging into whether or not they are true.

    This is the type of illogical pseudo reasoning we (anti-Trumpers) are up against. I confess I do not see how it is possible to debate evangelicals. To me, their entire line of reasoning is fear-based and irrational, and where do you start?

    As Phil suggests (good idea, Phil!), article to follow…

  • Vicki #20, #21

    Hi Vicki, and thanks for the link to that worrying/insightful/interesting/aaaarrrrggggh article. I do want to reply properly, but it may be a few days before I get chance. “I’ll be back.” 🙂


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  • Vicki  #20:  (I am new here!)  “I confess I do not see how it is possible to debate evangelicals. To me, their entire line of reasoning is fear-based and irrational, and where do you start?”

    I try not to engage evangelicals and/or creationists. My thought is that you cannot argue with a person who cannot evaluate the validity of their own position, which to me, pretty much defines a person of strong faith.

    Paraphrased from a blog post I found a long time ago: (This is why I avoid discussions on faith or evolution with evangelicals/creationists.) “Good post, but challenging the thinking of fundamentalists (such as it is) is pretty much like trying to kick large stones out of the way. It only hurts your foot & rarely moves a cumbersome inert object. Much better to walk around obstacles and go about your way. The boulders will still be there when you return, so have no doubt about that. Stones are stones because that’s their nature and Lord knows they don’t know any better.”

     


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  • I see that “religion of peace” is enforcing its “morality” again!

    Those “evil singer-song writers”  and their “WhatsApp terrorism” are such a threat to society, that those “faithful moral citizens” have to deal with their violent threats – and the call in the Sharia police for back-up!!!!!!

    WhatsApp has the world come to?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-53726256

    A musician in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano has been sentenced to death by hanging for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad.
    An upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state said Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, 22, was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March.

    Protestors had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.

    Critics said the song was blasphemous as it praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the extent it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad.

     


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  • @ Joe M #23

    Vicki  #20:  (I am new here!)  “I confess I do not see how it is possible to debate evangelicals. To me, their entire line of reasoning is fear-based and irrational, and where do you start?”

    One cognitive dissonance at a time Joe.  I worked until recently with a JW.  He was of course a creationist, nice guy but could not handle criticism of his views.  I noted he was perfectly happy to say things that would offend others but not terribly happy to take any criticism himself.

    So I made it my mission when appropriate to help him understand there were other points of view at the lunch table and we did not all have to respect his views.  I did this with good humor and in a joking manner but it occasionally would blow up.  And it would blow up when I had him nailed on a point he had no way of arguing.

    I’ll expound on the last one I remember.  We were talking about veganism, vegetarianism etc. and he decided this was time to interject.  “I eat meat and I know it’s perfectly okay because the bible says the plants and animals have been put their for our use.”

    I replied with something like “Ah, but that’s not so easy I saw you with some prawns at the last school BBQ.  They are forbidden”.  “That’s the OT he complains you don’t have to follow that we are under a new covenant”.  I replied that “that may be so but Matthew 5:18 says not one jot or tittle of the old word may be changed until all has passed and the stars have fallen from the heavens ….etc. So one interpretation has shellfish still out”.  He then told me I couldn’t comment on the bible because I was not a Christian.  “Ah but I was a Christian and as an literate adult I can parse a sentence”.  I then decided to placate him because he was turning red now.  I said “Look mate I understand there are other Christians who disagree and I’m glad you are one of them because it was passages like this that were used to support biblically condoned slavery and to try to argue against it being abolished”.  “THE BIBLE DOESN’T SUPPORT SLAVERY!” he was now shouting.  “Ah, yes it does.  These passages…” I pulled them up and started reading them out off my phone.  At this stage my fellow staff members were starting to edge away.  Anyway you can imagine where it went from there.  But until that conversation no-one had ever confronted him with the contradictions he was living with as a result of having never really read the bible in full.  What’s more I had not expressed any criticism of him for believing in his faith and all I had done was quote scripture back at him and when he objected I explained that as an atheist contradictions in his book were not my problem but I did note they existed.  “You can choose whatever interpretation you like, but just know that the church down the road considers you a heretic”.

    He now has to live with the knowledge that the bible has some uncomfortable things in it.  What do you think will happen if he asks his minister about it?  Will he leave that conversation more or less comfortable?  He was genuinely a pretty nice bloke although inconsiderate of other beliefs, or wishes to not be bombarded with his religious ignorance every lunch hour.

    What I did achieve was that he was afterwards hesitant to bring god up at the lunch table (which I would have welcomed).  Several other staff members pulled me aside after and thanked be because they were sick of being preached to and they’d been avoiding the conflict of upsetting him.

    So one cognitive dissonance at a time. That’s my opinion anyway.

     

     

     

     


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  • Reckless Monkey says:

    I worked until recently with a JW.  He was of course a creationist, nice guy but could not handle criticism of his views.  I noted he was perfectly happy to say things that would offend others but not terribly happy to take any criticism himself.

    You might find this study helpful.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1174772/

    The present study of 50 Jehovah’s Witnesses admitted to the Mental Health Service facilities of Western Australia suggests that members of this section of the community are more likely to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital than the general population. Furthermore, followers of the sect are three times more likely to be diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and nearly four times more likely from paranoid schizophrenia than the rest of the population at risk.

     


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  • I am new to this blogging. How do you answer a person’s post with a quote from their post in a highlighted block? Everyone seems to be doing it but I can’t figure out how. I tried to comment on a part of a post by Vicki, and Reckless Monkey seems to have attributed that quote to me.


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  • Hi Joe and welcome

    You just copy and paste the bit you want to quote into your new comment, add a couple of blank lines by hitting return a couple of times, then highlight the text (without the extra lines you’ve added) and click on the quotation mark in the bar at the top of the comment box. Adding the extra lines like this helps make sure that just the quoted text is shown in the quotation box and not your own comment about it. Hope that helps.

    The mods


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