OPEN DISCUSSION SEPTEMBER 2020

Sep 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.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that our Comment Policy applies as usual. There is a link to this at the foot of the page.

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 JUNE 2020

OPEN DISCUSSION JULY 2020

OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2020

 

The Book Club can be found at:

BOOK CLUB

 

22 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION SEPTEMBER 2020

  • Welcome to the September 2020 open discussion thread.

    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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  • My name is Emmanuel, a 28 year old Nigerian atheist. I’ve been trained as a teacher and I am passionate about promoting science and reason alongside discouraging superstition and pseudoscience. I’ve even dedicated my Facebook page for thesame purpose – to propagate as much reason as possible. However majority of Nigerians can only be reached on the streets, in schools and workplaces. And I’m particularly impressed and educated by the CFI videos on evolution. I think such information will go along way in promoting reason and eliminating superstitions in Nigerian schools. As a result I’m proposing a CFI and Richard Dawkins foundation branch or branches in  Nigeria. I’m very passionate about this and I’m ready to dedicate my life to this mission.

  • Hello, Emmanuel. What you propose in your message at #2 sounds promising and worth encouraging. This here is only a discussion forum for people supportive of the work of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and the Centre for Inquiry to promote science, reason, secularism and all the good things that flow therefrom. Have you contacted the Centre for Inquiry Headquarters direct, by letter or some kind of electronic means, to make your proposal to them? Their contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

    I wish you all the best with your proposal — it does sound very worthwhile.


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  • I thought New Zealand wasn’t as bad as the USA, but it seems some religious leaders here are just as silly.

    Evangelical Fellowship cluster

    In one breath, the leader says “Well, I’m not quite sure we would have done [things] differently” while in the next it’s “The Bible has made it very clear we’re to be submissive to [the Government]”; and of course “the church was obviously discriminated against”…


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  • “We don’t really know too much about science. We don’t really know too much about politics.”

    Blessed are the wilfully ignorant…for they shall preach the truth.


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  • Mods,

    Can you see a comment of mine in moderation? I’ve had a couple vanish in the past couple weeks that were short, had no links and were of no account but another one has gone astray just now that was long with no links.


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  • Laurie

    No, there’s nothing in moderation, sorry.

    Can you try again, making sure that you stay on the page until the comment appears, since navigating away before it’s visible on the page does cause posts to get lost.

    And if that doesn’t work, can you email the text to us (moderator   at   richarddawkins.net) and we’ll see if we can post it for you. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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  • Dennis G. Carrier says:

    From the reports we’re getting there are portions of Nigeria where it is downright dangerous to be publicly identified as a proponent of atheism.

    It also seems it is dangerous for children to argue about those hypersensitive god-delusions!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-54177504

    The UN children’s agency Unicef has called on the Nigerian authorities to urgently review an Islamic court’s decision to sentence a 13-year-old boy to 10 years in prison for blasphemy.

    The boy was convicted in August of making uncomplimentary remarks about God during an argument with a friend in northern Kano state.

    Kano is one of 12 Nigerian states practising the Sharia legal system alongside the country’s secular laws.

    It looks like that “religion of peace” and “morality” has been afforded theocratic political power once again!


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  • Vicki

    Want to have a pity party over RBG’s tragic death? I’m completely downcast. All of her wonderful accomplishments acknowledged but what a fix we’re in now. I don’t mind saying it because apparently she was quite disturbed about the prospect of her replacement being named by Trump.

    The worst elements of the authoritarian right wing christian fundamentalists will be solidified in the coming weeks. We’re on a train hurtling toward the cliff. Please tell me I’m wrong!


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  • Laurie & Vicki

    I’ll join your pity party in spirit from the other side of the Atlantic. Just when I thought 2020 really couldn’t get any darker. We really couldn’t afford to lose RBG just yet.


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  • LaurieB # 11

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘pity party’, but it does not sound like what is needed right now. Of course, if the ladies want to commiserate together on the loss of Justice Ginsberg, I hope they find it helpful in steadying them to face and deal with the situations they are having to live through.

    It is sad that Justice Ginsberg, who has been a significant positive influence in high office for so long, has died. The timing of her death may seem problematic, but it is less than two months  now to the presidential elections. Given that several high-ranking Republicans (even Mitch McConnell himself) are on record as being in favor of leaving the appointment of Justice Ginsberg’s successor till after the next election, trying to appoint someone to that vacant seat before the election would require most unseemly haste and would not play out well for the President and the Republicans. Even so, there is no knowing what a president as irrational and moronic as the present one might do in an awkward situation; so it is only prudent to remain alert to the dangers.

    So, ladies, chins up! Take heart! More than can be told in one book or many depends on the outcome of these November elections. I am hoping — and this is a time for hope — that the basically decent character of the American people will prevail.


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  • Cairsley #14

    If you think the “unseemliness” of the Republicans rushing to appoint a replacement for RBG would for one moment stop them, I’m afraid you haven’t been paying attention for the last 4 years – or even for the last 36 hours. That is precisely the concern: that they will not honour the stance they themselves insisted on when a similar situation arose in the last months of the Obama presidency, and will go ahead and nominate an ultra-conservative to the Supreme Court and get them installed at breakneck speed, precisely in order to preempt a possible election loss in November. Indeed, this is their stated intention. Whether or not the Senate lets them get away with it is another matter: I very much hope not, but it’s hardly an overreaction to be deeply concerned at the prospect of so much being dependent on the decency of the GOP in its current incarnation.

    Also – and I’m sorry to have to say this – your repeated use of the word “ladies”, particularly in a context where you are effectively telling us to “calm down, dears”, risks coming across as deeply patronising. I genuinely don’t think that was your intention, Cairsley: it would be wholly out of keeping with everything I’ve seen of you in the past. But I think (hope, anyway) we can agree that terminology so laden with societal, gender-based assumptions is best avoided.


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  • Marco  #15

    . . . your repeated use of the word “ladies”, particularly in a context where you are effectively telling us to “calm down, dears”, risks coming across as deeply patronising. I genuinely don’t think that was your intention, . . .

    You are right that it was not my intention to patronize or otherwise belittle the concerns expressed by women in this discussion. The word ‘ladies’ I have always understood and used as a term of respect. If it now “risks coming across as deeply patronising”, I thank you for your advice. My intention in any case was to exhort les dames découragées to take heart.

    About the Republicans and the possibility of an attempt to appoint a successor to Justice Ginsberg I quite agree, but the limited time and obvious disrespect for the judiciary that such an attempt would reveal are reasons to hope that it would spur yet more voters to reject the presidential incumbent and the Republicans.


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  • Thanks, Cairsley. I honestly didn’t think it was intentional on your part. (Though I suspect our French counterparts may prefer “les FEMMES découragées”, and for precisely the same reason 🙂 )

    “Ladies” used to be considered more respectful than “women”, it’s true, but actually precisely because of its gendered baggage. Think, after all, of the word “ladylike” and all the implicit limits it imposes on the behaviours and life choices open to a woman, all the assumptions about how women are supposed to be and think and speak and act. It was seen as a more respectful term precisely because a lady doesn’t swear, a lady doesn’t get drunk, a lady doesn’t wear bovver boots, a lady doesn’t sleep around, a lady doesn’t sweat, a lady doesn’t fight, a lady doesn’t speak too loudly, a lady doesn’t trouble her little head with politics or business or science or engineering or anything much, really, other than her clothes and her hair and her husband and her little cherubs. A lady is dainty, in need of protection. A lady doesn’t make the big decisions. A lady has no place in the board room, unless it’s to do the shorthand and pour the coffee. The term “lady” is really just a cage for women, a whole layer of societal expectations that holds them in check. And it was in such wide use that it was possible not to notice, unless you were one of the women having their freedom constrained by it; and it’s still possible to use it without intending or even being aware of the connotations. But I must confess I am becoming more and more aware of such things, and irritated by them, and would happily see the word consigned to the dustbin of linguistic history.


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  • Cairsley #16

    About the Republicans and the possibility of an attempt to appoint a successor to Justice Ginsberg I quite agree, but the limited time and obvious disrespect for the judiciary that such an attempt would reveal are reasons to hope that it would spur yet more voters to reject the presidential incumbent and the Republicans.

    The problem is that any such appointment will last far into the future and fatally shift the political balance on the SC for years, maybe decades, to come, regardless of who wins the election. It’s not an appointment that Biden would be able to overturn if he wins. It really isn’t just about the election.

     


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  • The timing of her death may seem problematic

    I know she was old, but has there been an independent post-mortem? (Particularly looking for things such as novichok, polonium, inexplicably-high levels of Covid-19…) Sometimes things are just a coincident, but the timing is very convenient…


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  • @Marco #15

    That is precisely the concern: that they will not honour the stance they themselves insisted on when a similar situation arose in the last months of the Obama presidency…

    The ‘lame duck’ portion of the presidency is the period between the election in November and the inauguration of the new president in January. Scalia died the previous February with almost a full year remaining in Obama’s term.

    I would add that, unlike Trump, Obama was elected with a sizable portion of the popular vote. A nominee from him would have better reflected the will of the majority. A nomination from Trump, who won via the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, not so much.


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  • Vicki #15

    Yes, but I wasn’t referring to the ‘lame duck’ period between election and inauguration. When Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell more or less immediately ruled out a Senate vote on his replacement, saying that the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. That was nearly 9 months before the election, and before Obama had even nominated anyone.

    Now, just 43 DAYS before the election, he’s saying that Trump’s nominee WILL get a vote in the Senate.

    The similarity I referred to was merely the death of a SC justice in an election year, giving rise to the question of whether their replacement should be delayed until after the election has taken place. In 2016 it wasn’t even that close to the election, though I suppose it was arguable that Biden’s own criterion – that no SC appointment should be made once the political season was underway – was met. But if it was met in 2016, it’s unquestionably met in 2020.

    As ever, it’s just naked self-interest at work. These leading GOP voices are wholly undemocratic: for all the rhetoric, literally all they care about is their own power, and they will trample over anything that gets in the way. Shamelessly, too: in this case they could not be more more brazen.


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