Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
On the NPR (US public radio) website, Brian Reed writes condescendingly about the benighted residents of Kiribati.
Even in a place as vulnerable as Kiribati, there are skeptics.
“I’m not easily taken by global scientists prophesizing the future,” says Teburoro Tito, the country’s former president and now a member of Parliament.
“Saying we’re going to be under the water, that I don’t believe,” Tito says. “Because people belong to God, and God is not so silly to allow people to perish just like that.”
Tito is not alone in his views. Of the more than 90,000 people counted in Kiribati’s last census, a mere 23 said they did not belong to a church. According to the most recent census, some 55 percent of citizens are Roman Catholic, 36 percent are Protestant and 3 percent are Mormon.
As a result, many are torn between what they hear from scientists and what they read in the Bible.
Silly deniers! If only they’d listen to reason! Then they’d realise their whole country is going to be submerged.
Except that the faith-filled folk of Kiribati are the ones whose views are closer to reality.
This graph shows changes in sea level at Kiribati over the last twenty years:
This graph shows what the rise would look like if the alarmists’ claims were true:
Now a study by scientists in New Zealand and Fiji has found that not only are sea levels in Kiribati and Tuvalu not showing any dangerous long term rising trend, but the islands themselves are growing.
Professor Paul Kench, of Auckland University, who co-authored the study with Dr Arthur Webb, a Fiji-based expert on coastal processes, said the study challenged the view that the islands were sinking as a result of global warming.
“Eighty per cent of the islands we’ve looked at have either remained about the same or, in fact, got larger.
“Some have got dramatically larger,” he said.
“We’ve now got evidence the physical foundations of these islands will still be there in 100 years.”
There is a collision between faith and science. But it is the warmists’ faith, not the faith of Kiribati Christians, which distorts the facts and makes for bad policy.
And it is right to be.
Mohammed ElBaradei says that Israel signed a treaty with Mubarak, not Egypt.
Not one of the parties or movements which could potentially form part of a new Egyptian government is friendly, or even neutral, towards Israel and the West.
Said Abdel-Khalek, former editor in chief of the Wafd Party’s Al-Wafd, said that the conflict with the Jewish state will be renewed because “there isn’t a house in Egypt that doesn’t have a martyr, killed in one of our wars with Israel. There are too many open wounds. I was an officer in the 1973 war and I can’t put my hand in an Israeli’s. And the vast majority of the people share this feeling.”
Let’s be clear: The 1973 Yom Kippur War was an unprovoked attack on Israel by three much larger countries, a war which those countries lost, and an officer for one of the aggressor nations says this was such an offence against the Arab people that it can never be forgiven.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Arab national leaders, and leaders of popular movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, have said with absolute consistency that the existence of Israel is an offence that cannot and must not be tolerated.
This means that any attempt by Israel to defend its people or borders is perceived by the Arab world as an unforgiveable act of violence – Israel has no right to exist, so it has no right to defend itself.
Iranian influence is growing in the North, fueled by Amadinejad’s relentless and continuing calls for the destruction of Israel.
In the South, Bahrain’s monarchy is weak, detested by the 70% of the population who are Shi’ite, many of whom will look to Iran for leadership.
After the US abandonment of long time ally Mubarak, the Saudis know that they cannot rely on America for support if the going gets tough. They cannot afford to be isolated. Of necessity, they will now value the US alliance less than the friendship of their neighbours.
Israel too, must now doubt the support it can expect from the US or the UK in the event of any conflict.
From the US, because the US seems to lack the political will to get out of bed in the morning, let alone come to the aid of a friend.
From the UK, because any assistance from the UK in an Arab/Israel conflict would cause a wave of hostility and violence to be stirred up by the UK’s powerful and radical imams.
So Israel is now surrounded by unstable regimes looking for a diversion from their problems, or by states which openly declare their intention to destroy Israel as soon as possible, while its two strongest allies look like they are ducking for cover.
And then there is this – a million Egyptians shouting, ‘To Jeruslaem we go, to be martyrs for the millions.’
Israel is right to be worried.
There are many people for whom that ruling by a judge in Austria will come as a great comfort.
There are many more for whom it be a source of astonished dismay.
Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a critic of islamic activism in Europe, has been on trial in Austria for inciting hatred and denigrating religious teachings.
The judge began the delivery of his verdict by pointing out that the integration of Muslims into the community is a question of public interest, that it is acceptable to ask questions, and even to be critical. It is not acceptable to incite hatred. The judge found that Elizabeth’s remarks had not done so.
However, Elizabeth had also said that by today’s standards, Mohammed was a paedophile. I have said the same thing. He was also a mass murder, torturer and rapist.
I do not see how it is possible for a fifty-four year old man having sex with a nine year old girl not to fit the definition of paedophilia.
The judge disagreed. A person is only a paedophile, he said, if that person’s primary sexual interest is in children. Mohammed did not fit that description because he had other, adult wives, and because he continued to have sex with Aisha after she was eighteen.
Elizabeth was found guilty of denigrating religious teachings, and fined €480.00.
By the judge’s line of reasoning, if someone has sex with children, he is not a paedophile if he continues to have sex with them when they are adults, or if he has more sex with adult women than with children.
That is just plainly idiotic.
It may well be the case that Mohammed’s behaviour, which included raping women captured in war, was acceptable in his time and culture.
But that is not what Elizabeth was concerned about.
There would be no problem if Muslims acknowledged that some of Mohammed’s actions might have been acceptable then but are not acceptable now, and therefore that he cannot be taken as a moral exemplar.
But they cannot do this. For Muslims Mohammed is the highest moral exemplar of all humanity. His actions and the teachings of the Quran apply everywhere and at all times.
If Mohammed did something, no court or law can forbid it. If the Quran commands or even permits something, no court or law can forbid it.
Just as one example, the Quran provides for rules for waiting periods after intercourse before a man can divorce a wife. It includes a rule to cover the prescribed waiting period if a man wishes to divorce a wife with whom he has had intercourse, but who has not yet started to menstruate.
Elizabeth is right. The judge is wrong.
This short (11 minute) video is by a French journalist. It documents the presence and growing danger of islamism in London.
It could easily be Lakemba in Sydney.
My younger sister lived in Lakemba. It can be a scary place. If it was just Falafel land, as Eddie McGuire joked, no one would have a problem.
But there is a problem. Don’t believe me? Try taking the Gay and lesbian Mardi Gras through there and see. Or see how you go organising a sausage and wine streeet party.
Sickening and disturbing and not for viewing by children:
This is video of an event that took place in Indonesia on the 6th of February.
1,000 Muslims attacked a small group of members of the Ahmadiyah sect, destroying their home and beating them to death.
The last few minutes are especially horrifying. The murders are over by then, and then these men take out their mobile phones, get their souvenir photos of the mutilated bodies, and casually stroll back to their families.
The courage of the one policeman who tries to stop them is amazing.
The violence comes less than three months after US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia and praised its “spirit of religious tolerance” as an “example to the world”.
Update: The response from the Indonesian government is to blame the members of Ahmadiyah:
Imran Muchtar, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party, said he agreed with the solution offered by the minister. “First, Ahmadiyah members should repent, recognize their mistake and come back to the mainstream Islam,” he said.
“The second option they have is to leave Islam and declare a new religion. Otherwise the conflict will never end.”
Hazrul Azwar, a lawmaker from the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP), called for stronger action.
“The Ahmadiyah should be disbanded permanently, as long as the government is not strict enough the conflict is never going to end,” he said. “The fake prophet is a disgrace to my religion. Clerics in the whole world have banned Ahmadiyah, why is the government not doing the same thing?”
And editorial differences, too.
Nine News reports that four Perth taxi drivers have been charged with sex offences. No names. Nothing about cultural differences.
Perth Now covers the same story, but notes that two or three (Singh could be Sikh) of the four have islamic names. One of them is called Arshad. Seriously.
Perth Now also notes:
The allegations against the drivers have prompted police to concede there are some “cultural issues” within the taxi industry which need eradicating.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Hindriksen of the Police Sex Assault Squad said the majority of WA taxi drivers were doing a “great job” but that a small minority were bringing the industry into disrepute.
“Certainly there are some cultural issues within the industry,” Det Snr Sgt Hindriksen said.
Nine News makes a deliberate choice to leave out that information. Why?
A letter from 36 leading climate scientists responding to the latest round of alarmism. Longish, but worth quoting in full:
February 8, 2011
To the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate:
In reply to “The Importance of Science in Addressing Climate Change”
On 28 January 2011, eighteen scientists sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of
Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging them to “take a fresh look at climate change.” Their
intent, apparently, was to disparage the views of scientists who disagree with their contention
that continued business-as-usual increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from the burning of coal, gas, and oil will lead to a host of cataclysmic climate-related problems.
We, the undersigned, totally disagree with them and would like to take this opportunity to briefly
state our side of the story.
The eighteen climate alarmists (as we refer to them, not derogatorily, but simply because they
view themselves as “sounding the alarm” about so many things climatic) state that the people of
the world “need to prepare for massive flooding from the extreme storms of the sort being
experienced with increasing frequency,” as well as the “direct health impacts from heat waves”
and “climate-sensitive infectious diseases,” among a number of other devastating phenomena.
And they say that “no research results have produced any evidence that challenges the overall
scientific understanding of what is happening to our planet’s climate,” which is understood to
mean their view of what is happening to Earth’s climate.
To these statements, however, we take great exception. It is the eighteen climate alarmists who appear to be unaware of “what is happening to our planet’s climate,” as well as the vast amount of research that has produced that knowledge.
For example, a lengthy review of their claims and others that climate alarmists frequently make
can be found on the Web site of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
(see http://www.co2science.org/education/reports/prudentpath/prudentpath.php). That report
offers a point-by-point rebuttal of all of the claims of the “group of eighteen,” citing in every
case peer-reviewed scientific research on the actual effects of climate change during the past
If the “group of eighteen” pleads ignorance of this information due to its very recent posting,
then we call their attention to an even larger and more comprehensive report published in 2009,
Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on
Climate Change (NIPCC). That document has been posted for more than a year in its entirety at
These are just two recent compilations of scientific research among many we could cite. Do the
678 scientific studies referenced in the CO2 Science document, or the thousands of studies cited
in the NIPCC report, provide real-world evidence (as opposed to theoretical climate model
predictions) for global warming-induced increases in the worldwide number and severity of
floods? No. In the global number and severity of droughts? No. In the number and severity of
hurricanes and other storms? No.
Do they provide any real-world evidence of Earth’s seas inundating coastal lowlands around the
globe? No. Increased human mortality? No. Plant and animal extinctions? No. Declining
vegetative productivity? No. More frequent and deadly coral bleaching? No. Marine life
dissolving away in acidified oceans? No.
Quite to the contrary, in fact, these reports provide extensive empirical evidence that these things are not happening. And in many of these areas, the referenced papers report finding just the opposite response to global warming, i.e., biosphere-friendly effects of rising temperatures and rising CO2 levels.
In light of the profusion of actual observations of the workings of the real world showing little or
no negative effects of the modest warming of the second half of the twentieth century, and
indeed growing evidence of positive effects, we find it incomprehensible that the eighteen
climate alarmists could suggest something so far removed from the truth as their claim that no
research results have produced any evidence that challenges their view of what is happening to
Earth’s climate and weather.
But don’t take our word for it. Read the two reports yourselves. And then make up your own
minds about the matter. Don’t be intimidated by false claims of “scientific consensus” or
“overwhelming proof.” These are not scientific arguments and they are simply not true.
Like the eighteen climate alarmists, we urge you to take a fresh look at climate change. We
believe you will find that it is not the horrendous environmental threat they and others have made it out to be, and that they have consistently exaggerated the negative effects of global warming on the U.S. economy, national security, and public health, when such effects may well be small to negligible.
Syun-Ichi Akasofu, University of Alaska1
Scott Armstrong, University of Pennsylvania
James Barrante, Southern Connecticut State University1
Richard Becherer, University of Rochester
John Boring, University of Virginia
Roger Cohen, American Physical Society Fellow
David Douglass, University of Rochester
Don Easterbrook, Western Washington University1
Robert Essenhigh, The Ohio State University1
Martin Fricke, Senior Fellow, American Physical Society
Lee Gerhard, University of Kansas1
Ulrich Gerlach, The Ohio State University
Laurence Gould, University of Hartford
Bill Gray, Colorado State University1
Will Happer, Princeton University2
Howard Hayden, University of Connecticut1
Craig Idso, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
Sherwood Idso, USDA, U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory1
Richard Keen, University of Colorado
Doral Kemper, USDA, Agricultural Research Service1
Hugh Kendrick, Office of Nuclear Reactor Programs, DOE1
Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology2
Anthony Lupo, University of Missouri
Patrick Michaels, Cato Institute
Donald Nielsen, University of California, Davis1
Al Pekarek, St. Cloud State University
John Rhoads, Midwestern State University1
Nicola Scafetta, Duke University
Gary Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study
S. Fred Singer, University of Virginia1
Roy Spencer, University of Alabama
George Taylor, Past President, American Association of State Climatologists
Frank Tipler, Tulane University
Leonard Weinstein, National Institute of Aerospace Senior Research Fellow
Samuel Werner, University of Missouri1
Thomas Wolfram, University of Missouri1
Rodney Armstrong, Geophysicist
Edwin Berry, Certified Consulting Meteorologist
Joseph Bevelacqua, Bevelacqua Resources
Carmen Catanese, American Physical Society Member
Roy Clark, Ventura Photonics
John Coleman, Meteorologist KUSI TV
Darrell Connelly, Geophysicist
Joseph D’Aleo, Certified Consulting Meteorologist
Terry Donze, Geophysicist1
Mike Dubrasich, Western Institute for Study of the Environment
John Dunn, American Council on Science and Health of NYC
Dick Flygare, QEP Resources
Michael Fox, Nuclear industry/scientist
Gordon Fulks, Gordon Fulks and Associates
Ken Haapala, Science & Environmental Policy Project
Martin Hertzberg, Bureau of Mines1
Art Horn, Meteorologist
Keith Idso, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
Jay Lehr, The Heartland Institute
Robert Levine, Industrial and Defense Research and Engineering1
Peter Link, Geologist
James Macdonald, Chief Meteorologist for the Travelers Weather Service1
Roger Matson, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists
Tony Pann, Meteorologist WBAL TV
Ned Rasor, Consulting Physicist
James Rogers, Geologist1
Norman Rogers, National Association of Scholars
Thomas Sheahen, Western Technology Incorporated
Andrew Spurlock, Starfire Engineering and Technologies, Inc.
Leighton Steward, PlantsNeedCO2.org
Soames Summerhays, Summerhays Films, Inc.
Charles Touhill, Consulting Environmental Engineer
David Wojick, Climatechangedebate.org
1 – Emeritus or Retired
2 – Member of the National Academy of Sciences
‘Don’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood’, President Obama is reported as saying, ‘they don’t have majority support.’
Maybe not, but they do have majority support for the majority of things they believe in – an islamist state, sharia law, beheading people who leave islam, stoning adulters, war with Israel, etc.
And they are the only well organised opposition, the only opposition likely to be able to field and fund a large number of candidates.
I heartily agree with the implied answers to President George Bush’s rhetorical questions about freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
People in Islamic countries should be able to choose those who govern them, should have economic freedom, freedom of movement and religion.
They should. But it is counter-factual to write off as ‘cultural condescension’ a suggestion that a commitment to Islam may be very difficult to combine with a commitment to democracy.
Democratic government does not instantly result in everyone’s suddenly deciding to abandon old enmities, to foreswear the use of violence in the resolution of political debate, and to work together for the good of all.
In 2003 Robert Congleton set out some Economic and Cultural Prerequisites for Democracy.
Perhaps the key pre-requisite for effective democratic government is a commitment by every citizen, or at least, an overwhelming majority of them, to the rule of law.
This means being willing to accept a government you don’t like and didn’t vote for, which takes your money to do things you don’t believe in.
Every Muslim is required to work for the implementation of sharia law. Sharia means, amongst other things:
No freedom of religion
No equal rights for women
No freedom of speech
No freedom of thought
No freedom of artistic expression
No freedom of the press
Justice does not apply equally to all – there are different rules for Muslim males and for women and non-Muslims.
Gays and lesbians subject to the death penalty
Girls as young as nine can be married and divorced
In theory, democracy is incompatible with sharia. A democratic government means equal weight is given to the opinions of muslims and non muslims. And a democratic government could introduce laws contrary to sharia.
By all means let’s work for democracy in Islamic countries. But let’s not be naive. To a large number of muslim leaders in those countries, such efforts are another example of the imposition of corrupt Western values on islamic people.
It won’t be easy. And we shouldn’t expect any thanks.
Two videos from the thought-provoking and frequently sensible Andrew Klavan.
The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions.
Yes, we’ve all heard that. But why is it true? And can you give some actual examples?
Why, yes I can, thank you for asking:
Is America Satanophobic?
Probably, but why not? Satan is bad.
No, in an age of tolerance, this sort of calling things what they are has to stop:
Oh my goodness, the legacy media really are a laugh a minute.
Pope changes view on condom use. No he hasn’t.
Pope Agrees Condom Use Can Be Justified. That’s not what he said.
Pontiff Blesses Condom Use. Did you even read what he said?
OK, then, what did he say?
Basically, that in some circumstances, the use of a condom by a male prostitute might indicate an awakening of a moral sense, or at least a recognition that sexual pleasure is not the highest good.
So condoms are OK?
What Pope Benedict said was that, possibly, for a male prostitute to use one might be an indication of the beginning of a journey towards the development of some responsibility, of concern for others.
See the last paragraph in the excerpt below.
Seewald: . . . In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.
Benedict: . . . In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.
As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.
Note that the Pope’s overall argument is that condoms will not solve the problem of AIDS. In support of this, he makes several arguments:
1) People can already get condoms, yet it clearly hasn’t solved the problem.
2) The secular realm has proposed the ABC program, where a condom is used only if the first two, truly effective procedures (abstinence and fidelity) have been rejected. Thus even the secular ABC proposal recognizes that condoms are not the unique solution. They don’t work as well as abstinence and fidelity. The first two are better.
3) The fixation on condom use represents a banalization (trivialization) of sexuality that turns the act from being one of love to one of selfishness. For sex to have the positive role it is meant to play, this trivialization of sex—and thus the fixation on condoms—needs to be resisted.
So that’s the background to the statement that the press seized on:
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality. [EMPHASIS ADDED]
There are several things to note here: First, note that the Pope says that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals,” not that there is a basis. This is the language of speculation. But what is the Pope speculating about? That condom use is morally justified? No, that’s not what he’s said: that there may be cases “where this [condom use] can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way to recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed.”
In other words, as Janet Smith puts it,
The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.
I remember seeing a guy a guy who had been asked to leave several supermarkets interviewed on TV.
He objected to being told ‘Have a nice day’ by checkout operators.
Fair enough. It is a silly, empty phrase.
But he responded by abusing the employees. These were mostly teenage girls in their first jobs, who were doing what their employer had asked them to do.
Abusing them was pointless bullying.
I feel the same about airport employees who are now required to implement intrusive and embarrassing security measures, incuding full body scans or searches.
Ann Coulter writes incisively (as usual) about this, and how silly and misguided these airport security measures are:
After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.
The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.
This is amusing, but unfair. It is like blaming checkout operators for ‘Have a nice day.’
They are not responsible for the utterly ridiculous policies implemented by their political masters.
Ann Coulter again:
It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)
You have to search for the terrorists.
Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)
This would give us a major leg up — if only the country weren’t insane.
Terrorists are not all foreign born. And I wouldn’t be surprised if islamists started using 3 year olds to carry explosives onto airplanes.
But the key word in that sentence is ‘islamists.’
There are no Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist or Buddhist groups which have an announced policy of destroying the West, and who have proven their seriousness by repeatedly blowing up embassies, churches, and schools.
Targetting Muslims may be unfair to the majority. But as long as a substantial number of muslims living in the West believe suicide bombings and violence in the cause of Islam are acceptable, and as long as Muslim leaders do not consistently, clearly and frequently denounce such violence, the rest just have to wear it.
Is that unfair? Yes.
But it is less unfair than implementing security procedures which humiliate everyone while achieving nothing.
Proof of psychic powers? Actually, no.
Just proof that academics are not easily able to think beyond their preconceived notions.
He conducted nine different experiments on over 1000 students. Eight of the experiments showed some psychic ability.
I am willing to bet that the experiment that didn’t was the only one that was properly designed.
One experiment asked students to memorise a list of words, and then asked them to recall as many as they could.
The students were then asked to type a list of the words randomly selected – which tended to be the words they had earlier recalled.
It suggests they knew which words were going to be selected to be typed.
No it doesn’t.
The question is, how were the words to be typed selected ‘randomly’?
If they were just picked by another person, all this means is that some words have more impact than others, and that those words are more likely to be remembered, and chosen.
It is amazing to me – a non academic, but someone trained in problem solving – how quickly academics jump to the wrong conclusion, and how firmly they then insist on those conclusions being accepted.
I have a friend who is a PhD candidate. She is studying changes in Black Brim populations. Black Brim are a common fish in South Australian waters.
Her thesis is that Black Brim numbers have declined over the last fifty years because of changes in water quality.
She is extraordinarily diligent in examining ear bones from Black Brim. This enables her to track changes in water quality over the life of the fish.
I have no doubt she can get an accurate picture of water quality over the life of any individual fish.
But there are three problems with her thesis.
She has no idea how many Black Brim there really were fifty years ago. There were no accurate counts.
She has no idea whether water quality now has deteriorated in ways that affect Black Brim compared with fifty years ago. There were no accurate measures.
She has no idea whether other factors (eg, fish just move) might account for changes in Black Brim populations in the small area she is studying.
I asked her, since her theory was that fish numbers had declined because of changes in water quality, whether she thought it important to have accurate measurements of fish numbers and water quality from fifty years ago.
She insisted it was OK, because she had accurate measures of fish numbers and water quality now.
But surely, I insisted, if she was claiming changes in fish numbers over fifty years were a result of changes in water quality, she had to know what the numbers and water quality were fifty years ago.
She told me she could measure changes in water quality through studying ear bones.
OK. That tells you about changes over the life of an individual fish, but nothing about what the starting point was fifty years ago.
Nope. She just didn’t seem to understand the question.
Well, it doesn’t matter, really. She’ll get her PhD and work for Natural Resources and ruin a few fishermen’s businesses, or spend her life telling farmers to use less fertiliser.
Not much harm done.
But lots of harm is done in other ways.
As an example, there are reduced rates of HIV infection in males who have been circumcised.
So of course there claims that male circumcision acts as a ‘vaccine’ against HIV infection.
A couple of days ago the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, called on male MPs to be circumcised to give a moral example to others, and to help reduce the rate of HIV infection.
It seems blindlingly obvious to me that many men who are circumcised are either Jews or Muslims, and that differences in sexual behaviour in those groups would better account for the very small measured differences in rates of HIV infection.
Certainly behavioural differences might be worth investigating before spending vast amounts of money ramping up ‘circumcision services.’
This won’t work. It is cruel and irresponsible. In fact, like dishing out condoms, it is likely to increase rates of HIV infection, because it encourages people to think they are safe.
The only thing that has been shown to make a long term difference to rates of HIV infection is changes in behaviour.
But that is an unacceptable conclusion, so Africans continue to be given advice which is known to be, or should be known to be, wrong. And more Africans die.
Africa has suffered enough from AIDS.
We have all suffered enough from the consequences of shoddy thinking.
One of the arguments for the existence of God is that without God, there can be no objective moral standards. Rights are whatever we decide they are, good and bad are whatever we decide they are.
But we all do acknowledge objective standards of morality – some things are good, and some things are bad, no matter what anyone, or any particular society says about it.
Therefore these standards do exist. Therefore God must exist.
I don’t think this is a particularly compelling argument.
It is entirely possible, even if there were no God, that it could be useful from an evolutionary point of view for us to believe in objective moral standards, even though, of course, no such standards would or could actually exist.
But the non-existence of objective ethical standards is nonetheless problematic for atheists who wish to claim that atheism is as intrinsically moral as the teachings of Jesus (more, as they see it, because based in reality) and leads to just as ethical and caring a society.
Atheists are fond of pointing out the horror stories (again, as they see it – careful examination of the facts often tells a different story) in Christian history. The Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, for example.
But it is worth keeping in mind that the Soviet Union killed off in an average day approximately the same number of people as the Spanish Inqusition sent back to secular authorities to be executed in its entire 300 year history .
We take the equality of women, kindness to children, fairness in dealing with strangers, etc, for granted, precisely because we have 2000 years of Christian history behind us. These values are so normative for us that we assume they are shared by everyone.
But history shows this is not the case.
Jeff Jacoby on Town Hall has more:
It may seem obvious to us today that human life is precious and that the weakest among us deserve special protection. Would we think so absent a moral tradition stretching back to Sinai? It seemed obvious in classical antiquity that sickly babies should be killed. “We drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal,’’ wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger 2,000 years ago, stressing that “it is not anger but reason’’ that justifies the murder of handicapped children.
Reason is not enough. Only if there is a God who forbids murder is murder definitively evil. Otherwise its wrongfulness is a matter of opinion. Mao and Seneca approved of murder; we disapprove. What makes us think we’re right?
The God who created us created us to be good. Atheists may believe — and spend a small fortune advertising — that we can all be “good without God.’’ History tells a very different story.
Bombs found on planes in Dubai and Britain were large enough to have destroyed the planes mid-air, killing all on board, and causing further casualties if the bombs exploded over populated areas.
A woman named Hanan al Samawi has been arrested in Yemen. The Telegraph headline says she is an engineering student, while later in the text it reports: She was arrested at a house in a poor area in the west of Sana’a, where she is studying medicine at the university.
Engineering, medicine, whatever. These are not areas of study which the poor usually take up.
There are three points here.
First, the Telegraph needs to get some new copy editors. Accuracy is important. It is not good enough in a major national daily to have a headline contradicted by the text immediately below it.
Second, the female of the species is as dangerous as the male. There is no justification for policies which discriminate against men in relation to being held in detention centres, for example, on the basis that they are likely to be terrorists whereas women are not.
And finally, terrorism does not have its roots in poverty. There is a great deal of talk about understanding the causes of terrorism. The commonly identified causes in such talks are Western imperialism and Western monopolisation of consumer goods.
This is nonsense. The major source of terrorist activity is radical Islam. Thai Buddhists, African animists, and Orthodox believers living in Siberia, all of whom suffer poverty compared with the West, are not burning down schools and blowing up planes.
Osama Bin Laden, of course, is a multi-millionaire. Terrorism has nothing to do with poverty.
It has everything to do with what its perpetrators keep telling us is the reason for their actions: They hate infidels, and believe they are commanded to destroy them.
You can’t be a bloke if you don’t respect women. But ask a group of women if they respect men and you will likely be greeeted with hoots of derisive laughter.
Not true of all women, of course, but true of more than it should be.
Interesting, and not unexpected, then, the instant castigation of footballers and men in general after the latest accusations of sexual assault against some Collingwood players. More work is needed! Players need more sensitivity training! Men are bastards!
I saw one comment by a woman connected with a sexual assault centre to the effect (I couldn’t find it again later) that even if women were throwing themselves at footballers, the footballers needed to behave appropriately.
She didn’t elaborate as to what she thought the appropriate behaviour might be.
But given the currently popular ‘casual shagging does no one any harm and is probably healthy’ opinion of most women’s magazines and popular shows like Sex in the City, it is hard to see why any bloke should not think that the appropriate form of behaviour in any circumstances where a woman is asking for sex is simply to let her have it.
To suggest, as that person did, and as others have, that only men should be responsible for their decisions, and that if a woman later regrets what she has done, the man is the one at fault, is to treat women as lesser beings – more like children than adults.
This is not respectful of women, and it does not encourage respect for women.
Even when both are drunk, and meaningful consent cannot be given, responsibility lies with both, not just with the man, even if he is a footballer.
Of course, life would a lot simpler if people kept sex for marriage. Casual sex devalues both men and women, and makes it easier for persons of both genders to see persons of the other as simply means to an end – their own pleasure. This really means treating a sexual partner as nothing more than a masturbation aid.
Some men do think this way. Anyone who has seen Sex and City, and seen how popular that show is, and how some of its stars are regarded as role models(!) knows that women are capable of thinking this way too.
The harm this way of thinking and acting causes to individual men and women (and their offspring) and to gender relationships and understanding, seems to me to be simply obvious.
Also obvious is the fact that easy availability of contraception, especially the pill, and the easy availability of abortion, has encouraged this ‘if it feels good, do it’ mentality, a disregard of (or deliberate ignoring of) the consequences of sexual activity, and a deepening disregard for the different emotional needs of men and women, and for their value as persons.
Freely available contraception has not enhanced the lives or status of women.
Of course this should have been, and was, clear from the beginning. The Catholic faith said so, and so did sommon sense. Cardinal Pell has recently made these points with his usual no nonsense clarity.
Incidentally, Cardinal Pell points out, and rightly, that the Christian consensus on this matter was first broken by the Anglican Church at the Lambeth Conference in 1930 – the point from which, in my view, the Anglican Communion could no longer claim only to teach and practice the faith once delivered to the saints, and at which it began to come loose from its moorings in Scripture and Tradition in ways that are now disastrously obvious.
But the truth is ever unpopular, especially amongst those whose theme song is ‘I want to, so dont’ tell me it’s wrong.’
The week’s Weekend Australian Magazine contains a mercifully short article by Susan Maushart called ‘The Bitter Pell.’
I have met Cardinal Pell, and enjoyed several minutes of conversation with him about Anglican – Roman Catholic relations. He is far from bitter. In fact, he struck me as a person of very considerable intellect, who is driven both by a passion for truth, and compassion for those harmed by the lack of it. He certainly was willing to listen respectfully to views which differed from his own.
Susan Maushart, however, gives every impression of harboring deep bitterness against anyone who holds views that do not co-incide with hers.
Her article contains no reasonable arguments at all, just a series of cheap shots about the Chruch and the faith, even including a mention of the inquisition, for heaven’s sake.
The best way to earn respect is to give it. It can be a hard lesson to learn.