Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Attempt to Advance an Alternate Atheist Amorality

After discovering that "2 + 2 = 4" cannot be explained or affirmed outside of Christianity (and really not outside of "reformed" Calvinism, since mere Methodism was "broadly compromised"), I dropped off making any arguments or presenting any alternate viewpoints on a certain web site, but after stumbling across this web site:
I thought it might fit here.  And Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seperation v Integration of Church and State in U.S. v Saudi Arabia

In a place with a Free Exercise clause, "religion" is not a thing which occurs only within the four corners of a particular lot and then only for one hour a week.  Or it's not supposed to be . . . .

Whereas in places without a Bill of Rights - - written or not (such as the U.K.) - - the very concept of a distinction between "public" and "private" life may not exist.  When Mussolini said "nothing outside the state" he was renouncing a tradition already about 400 years old in the West.

Anyway, interesting reading for Christmas.  And, like Scrooge's Nephew, I wish you both a Merry one! [whether you keep it or not; Bah! Humbug!  ;)]


The Death of God Is Greatly Exaggerated
Kate Bachelder interviews Eric Metaxas
The Wall Street Journal
The Weekend Interview (Fri 18 Dec 2015)
The happy warrior for a muscular Christianity on why faith and science are not opposed, and why the public square benefits from expressions of belief.

"Part of my life’s thesis is that we live in a culture that has bought into the patently silly idea that there is a divide between the secular world and the faith world," he says, the idea that religion can be walled off exclusively into private life or pitched altogether, particularly when 70% or so of U.S. residents identify as Christian. "Culture presents us with this false choice between channels that are exclusively faith-based" versus those that are "exclusively secular." Yet "that’s not how most Americans process the world."


U.S. Department of State: Marriage to Saudis
Middle East Quarterly
WINTER 2003 • VOLUME 10: NUMBER 1, pp. 74-81

The document is an advisory to American women contemplating marriage to Saudi men, based on the long experience of U.S. consular personnel in the kingdom. It is remarkable for its undiplomatic and anecdotal tone, so distant from the department's standard bureaucratic style. For prospective spouses, "Marriage to Saudis" constituted an official tutorial in Saudi culture; for others, it served as a fascinating example of practical anthropology, school of hard knocks.

The straightforward and talkative frankness of "Marriage to Saudis" also led to its retraction by the department. The Saudis themselves were not perturbed by the document.[4] But when the brochure went up on the department's website, the American Muslim Council demanded its removal, calling it "hurtful," "derogatory and biased." In February 2000, the department removed the document from its website for "revision," but it was never replaced. (The department has since published a straightforward fact brochure on child abduction in Saudi Arabia.)[5]

No subsequent revision could supersede "Marriage to Saudis," a minor classic by an anonymous diplomat determined to tell it straight. The document appears here in its entirety.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Return of "White" Science?

The ‘Benefits’ of Black Physics Students
by Jedidah C. Isler, December 17, 2015
A version of this op-ed appears in print on December 17, 2015, on page A39 of the New York edition with the headline: Being Black in Physics Class. [printer-friendly URL]


Many laymen (meaning "not attorneys," as contrasted to those who are not scientists) have made fools out of themselves the last 10 days or so having vapors over Scalia's questions in oral argument.
But this physics PhD goes well beyond not have the remotest inkling of understanding what happened in court, much less understanding what the fight in Fisher is even about.
So, I'm curious to see if you two see the same defects in logic and self-awareness in this Op-Ed as I did.  I think there's a howler in almost every paragraph . . . but maybe that's just me?  Thus, I'm looking for some second opinions here - - y'all see anything odd or weak in her logic?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Are y'all ready for my tinfoil hat theory?

First the setup:

We've known for several years that strep infections in children can cause OCD.
A likely mechanism by which a bacterial infection triggers obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in some children has been demonstrated by scientists at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and collaborators at California State University (CSU) and the University of Oklahoma (UO). Their research suggests that an antibody against strep throat bacteria sometimes mistakenly acts on a brain enzyme, disrupting communications between neurons and causing a form of obsessive compulsive and related tic disorder in children — pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococci (PANDAS).
And we've known that toxoplasmosis, a parasitical infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, can cause behavioral changes in animals and in humans.
...T. gondii-infected rodents exhibit an increase in activity and a decrease in predator vigilance behavioural traits (Berdoy et al., 1995; Hay et al., 1983; Hay et al., 1984; Hutchison et al., 1980a; Hutchison et al., 1980b; Lamberton et al., 2008; Webster, 1994; Webster, 2001; Webster, 2007; Webster et al., 1994; Webster et al., 2006). Moreover, whilst uninfected rats show a strong innate aversion to predator odour, T. gondii infection appears to subtly alter the rats’ cognitive perception of cat predation risk, turning their innate aversion into a ‘suicidal’ ‘fatal feline attraction’ (Berdoy et al., 2000; Vyas et al., 2007c; Webster et al., 2006). Such fatal feline attraction appears specific towards a response to cat (urine) odour, with no difference observed between infected and uninfected rats in their responses to odours of non-predatory mammals such as rabbit (Berdoy et al., 2000; Vyas et al., 2007c; Webster et al., 2006) nor contrasting potential predatory species odours such as mink (Lamberton et al., 2008) or dog (Kannan et al., 2010).
Consistent with a possible impairment in psychomotor performance and/or enhanced risk-taking personality profiles, individuals with latent toxoplasmosis have been reported to be at a 2.65 times increased risk to be involved in a traffic accident relative to the general population (Flegr et al., 2002), a result subsequently replicated by other groups (Flegr et al., 2009; Kocazeybeka et al., 2009; Yereli et al., 2006). Another recent study, albeit significant only in a subset with lower socioeconomic status, linked T. gondii seropositivity with workplace accidents (Alvarado-Esquivel et al., 2012). There is also the ever growing and convincing body of evidence concerning a potential relationship linking T. gondii with that of some forms of affective and neurological disorders in humans. Correlations have been found for OCD (Miman et al., 2010b), Parkinson’s disease (Miman et al., 2010a), Alzheimer’s disease (Kusbeci et al., 2011), suicide (Arling et al., 2009) and bipolar disorder (Pearce et al., 2012). The most substantial body of empirical evidence gathered to date relates to the potential association between T. gondii and some cases of schizophrenia in humans. T. gondii seroprevalence has been associated with schizophrenia in at least 38 studies to date (Mortensen et al., 2007; Torrey et al., 2007; Torrey et al., 2012; Torrey et al., 2000; Torrey and Yolken, 2003; Yolken and Torrey, 2008).
There's even been speculation about T. gondii causing cultural differences.
The associations between prevalence and cultural dimensions are consistent with the prediction that T. gondii can influence human culture. Just as individuals infected with T. gondii score themselves higher in the neurotic factor guilt-proneness, nations with high T. gondii prevalence had a higher aggregate neuroticism score. In addition, Western nations with high T. gondii prevalence were higher in the ‘neurotic’ cultural dimensions of masculine sex roles and uncertainty avoidance. These results were predicted by a logical scaling-up from individuals to aggregate personalities to cultural dimensions.
So when we read about people traveling to the Middle East, or associating with folks from the ME in their mosques and whatnot, and their being suddenly and inexplicably "radicalized" ... see where I am going with this?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Maybe they're both right

Muslim extremists with guns shoot up a holiday party.

One lobby says it's not fair to blame all Muslims for the misdeeds of a few.

Another lobby says it's not fair to blame all gun owners for the misdeeds of a few.

Maybe they're both right.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


1 - What makes an act terrorism? Is this distinct from paranoid schizophrenia, from disgruntled employee (remember "going postal"?), from angry ex?

2 - If we think too much about whether or not an act is terrorism, as opposed to "just" mass murder, have the terrorists won?