liveonearth: (Default)
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

About Pirsig and his book: I was made to read this book at approximately age 18, when I first started working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I was quite moldable, impressionable, unformed at that age. Payson Kennedy was in charge of training and orienting all new staff, and reading this book was his one requirement. What it taught me was a lesson that took many years to sink in, that small details deserve our full attention, that doing your best it the only way to do anything right. Thank you Payson for requiring us to read this book, for it has helped form my perspective for over 30 years since then. I think it may be time to reread it.

This of course was all brought up because Pirsig has died at the age of 88. It's encouraging to note that his book was rejected by 121 publishing houses before someone decided to print it.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/24/525443040/-zen-and-the-art-of-motorcycle-maintenance-author-robert-m-pirsig-dies-at-88
liveonearth: (bright river)
No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it is not the same river,
and he is not the same man.

-Heraclitus
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

A president intent on developing

a base of enthusiastic supporters

who believe bald-faced lies

poses a clear threat

to American democracy.

This is how tyranny begins.

--Robert Reich,

here: http://robertreich.org/post/154643782110

liveonearth: (moon)
Creationism gets treated by religious people as if it were a viable theoretical alternative to Evolution.  They do this in spite of the fact that evolution is broadly accepted by educated people world wide.  Evolution is obviously working on species today, and it is visible to any person with minimal powers of observation and exposure to the natural world.  Darwin was one such person.  Creationism is a myth, a dogma.  It is based on nothing other than a nice fictional book, and promoted by a whole lot of people who need a simple and colorul story to tell about how the world came to be.  Every culture, language and religion has its own creation story.  Creation stories can be spectacular and we love them.  But this does not make them theories in the scientific forum.  This does not make them true.  This just makes them good fiction.
liveonearth: (pentacle 2)
This is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple.   It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists.  They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan.  Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma.  Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line.  "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism."

This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble.  If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy.  So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on.  Why choose such a hot button for Christians?  Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution???  Well they do have a reason.  The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.

I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god.  Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.

The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new.  They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered.  They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed.  The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies.  Only two students signed up.  I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?

The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation.  If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress.  So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content.  Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.

The Good News Club is a private Christian organization for children.  Their goal is to Christianize the next generation.  They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God.  The Child Evangelism Fellowship creates the curriculum and trains instructors.  They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide.  THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation.  And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked.    A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.

Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization.  The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does.  There have been ample protests.  The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.

One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple.  They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:

I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.


II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.


III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.


IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.


V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.


VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.


VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?

liveonearth: (mushroom cloud)
The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm with what you already believe to be true.  Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a "backfire effect", which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them.  So, where do we go from here?  The only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths.
--Emma Roller
in NYTimes.com

Note to self: This bias may not be uniquely American.  A 2016 study confirms that our political beliefs are the ones most resistant to change in spite of new information that refutes them.  It's called Neural Correlates of maintaining one's political beliefs in the face of couterevidence.

WHAT MAKES US RESISTANT TO NEW IDEAS 2016

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39589

Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence

Jonas T. Kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel & Sam Harris

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 39589 (2016)

doi:10.1038/srep39589

23 December 2016

Abstract

People often discount evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms that govern this behavior. We used neuroimaging to investigate the neural systems involved in maintaining belief in the face of counterevidence, presenting 40 liberals with arguments that contradicted their strongly held political and non-political views. Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation and disengagement from the external world. Trials with greater belief resistance showed increased response in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. We also found that participants who changed their minds more showed less BOLD signal in the insula and the amygdala when evaluating counterevidence. These results highlight the role of emotion in belief-change resistance and offer insight into the neural systems involved in belief maintenance, motivated reasoning, and related phenomena.

liveonearth: (moon)
"Do not take the Jews and Christians as allies"

I read this in a summary of an article by Lailatul Fitriyah in The Jakarta Post.  He says "hard-line Muslims" are invoking a twisted interpretation of this verse to argue that true Muslims must not vote for a Christian governor.

Truth be known, American style freedoms only work if all religious people do NOT take the dictates of their religious books as literal requirements.  What if all Christians did exactly what the Bible tells them to do?  Nevermind the old testament, the new is just as full of horrors.

Islamism is what we call government within the Muslim religion.  What do we call what we have, where religious people continually try to infiltrate government and government funded programs?  Christianism?

Islam is not the problem, religion is.
liveonearth: (moon)
The current retrograde is supposed to last until September 22.  It's a long one.  Lots of people think that this planetary phenomenon is the reason that things haven't been going their way.  You're not supposed to make any major decisions or stick your neck out during a retrograde.  Why?  Superstition, in a word.

Most people who believe this bunk don't understand what the mercury retrograde really is.  They think it's something serious, when it is really just an optical illusion in the sky.  Mercury appears to be going backwards because of our perspective from here on earth, and the relative movements of the other planets.  For a sky-watcher, it's interesting.  For the superstitious person, it's momentous.  Like zodiac signs in astrology, it guides their choices and gives meaning to events.

People who embrace "new age" spirituality are the most likely to believe in the negative effects of a mercury retrograde.  They also tend to believe in karma and reincarnation.  These beliefs are indicative of the overall ignorance of our populace.  People think that because they have shed institutionalized religion that their new superstition must be better.  Too many people seek explanations for what they experience, and then latch onto them without further consideration.

How is reincarnation any more plausible than heaven and hell?  Are we capable of living with "I don't know" as our answer?  Is intellectual laziness really our future?
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
—Isaac Asimov

liveonearth: (moon)
I think this may be part of the reason that so many people have defaulted to supporting tRump.  At a gut level he gets it, that somehow the religion of Islam is motivating some people to kill bunches of hedonistic rich oblivious Americans.  We are The Great Satan, after all.  Our women roam around half naked.  We drink alcohol and eat so much that we can't get out of our chairs.  The Muslims who hate us find plenty to hate.  And the teachings of the religion are harsh.  Unforgiving.  Granted, most religions have some myths and stories that motivate hateful actions.  Most religions have a few fundamentalists whose simplistic interpretations lead them to extreme beliefs and behaviors.  Islam has a lot of people like that.  I am certain that the followers of ISIL think that American Muslims who don't help their cause are apostates, no better than the rest of us.  So given that there are quite a few Muslims who think we all deserve to die, and several at least who've been successful at violently killing Americans, being afraid of Muslims sounds kind of reasonable.  If the Dems don't admit to this, and begin teaching Americans about how they've been attempting to quell the fears of peaceable Muslims in order to prevent religious based warfare, they are missing the boat.  Blaming the Pulse shooting solely on easy access to guns is missing the very important point that currently there are a lot of people with this religious background who are motivated to kill.  We need to study them, to understand them.  They are not necessarily insane, they simply live in a different reality dictated by a different culture.  There are also a lot of Americans who are not Muslim who share their distaste for gays, their disrespect for loose women, and their instinctive hatred of other races.  Maybe you should be afraid.
liveonearth: (Spidey: come into my parlour)

THE MISTRUST OF SCIENCE

By Atul Gawande , JUNE 10, 2016

The following was delivered as the commencement address at the California Institute of Technology, on Friday, June 10th.

Text behind cut )

Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, became a New Yorker staff writer in 1998.

liveonearth: (333 only half evil)
One cannot believe
everything they read
on the internet.

--Abe Lincoln
liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
There was a pretty good turnout at the usual CFI venue, a beer and pizza retreat called the Lucky Lab.  David is younger than I expected, pretty much right out of school having gotten a master's in Religious Studies.  He points out the difference between Religious Studies and Theology right up front: his education is more about comparative religion and history than about the dogma of any one ism.

He has written several books, including Disproving Christianity, which he wrote right out of undergrad school I believe. The Belief Book and the Book of God are intended for the education of children by parents who want to satisfy their natural curiousity with actual information instead of indoctrination.  And he announced last night for the first time in public that he has signed a contract for his next book, No Sacred Cows, which will be a manual for teaching critical thinking to children and adults.

I am very excited that this young man has taken to writing, and based on his public speaking, I suspect he is a clear and concise writer.  I look forward to reading some of his books, and I may start giving them as gifts too.  =-]

His main point in this talk is that the reason that there is so much dogmatic religion in the US is the lack of religious studies education.  People who do not know what religion is and what it has done in history are more likely to be religious, and more likely to be fundamentalist.  He says that to protect your children from falling prey to fundamentalism, teach them about all relgions, and satisfy their curiousity with real information.  Without this education there is in his words a "snowball effect" that leads to a widespread lack of critical thinking---which is exactly what we are seeing in today's political sphere.  If there were a strong component of religious studies integrated into primary school history and philosophy classes, there would be more critical thinking nationwide.

He mentioned an organization called the OASIS network, which is jokingly called "atheist church" but really it "an alternative to faith based community" that provides among other things programs for kids.  For freethinkers surrounded by religiousity, the name is really appropriate

Here's his blogpost on how to respond to door to door religion sellers:
https://davidgmcafee.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/how-to-respond-to-door-to-door-evangelists-and-hotel-room-bibles/

**Created tag: freethinker
liveonearth: (old books)
Foresight isn't
a mysterious gift bestowed at birth.
It is the product of particular ways of thinking,
of gathering information,
of updating beliefs.
These habits of thought can be learned and cultivated
by any intelligent, thoughtful,
determined person.

--Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner on page 18 in
Superforecasting; the Art and Science of Prediction
liveonearth: (dont_be_heavy)

"If one allows the infidels
to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth,
their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger.
Thus, if we kill the infidels
in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities,
we have indeed done them a service.
For their eventual punishment will be less.
To allow the infidels to stay alive
means to let them do more corrupting.
[To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator."

--Ayatollah Khomeini, 1984

liveonearth: (critter)
You can't talk about the ocean
with a frog who lives in a well;
he is bounded by the space he inhabits.

You can't talk about ice
with an insect who was born in June;
he is bounded by a single season.

You can't talk about Tao
with a person who thinks he knows something;
he is bounded by his own beliefs

The Tao is vast and fathomless.
You can understand only by stepping
beyond the limits of yourself.


From the Chaung Tzu. 17
via Stephen Mitchell, The Second Book of the Tao.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] bobby1933 at But I Don't Know The Frogs Language Or Mind, And Can't Know What The Frog Knows.
liveonearth: (Homer Simpson "D'oh!")
A group of 30 homeopaths at a conference in Germany became ill from an apparent overdose of a psychotropic medication. The article implies that the trippers had no intention of tripping, but I have my doubts.  Perhaps the food was spiked, or they were told it was "harmless".  Or perhaps they thought themselves ready for an incautious dose of a mind-expanding drug, and got more than they bargained for.

A homeopathy conference descended into drug-induced madness after thirty healers were spiked with a powerful hallucinogen.

Ambulances raced to the conference in Handeloh, south of Hamburg after 29 healers were found suffering from delusions having taken 2C-E.

The synthetic drug is a powerful hallucinogen, with effects similar to LSD, experts say.

German broadcaster NDR said that victims were, ‘staggering around, rolling in a meadow, talking gibberish and suffering severe cramps.’

SOURCE
http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/08/drug-madness-at-alternative-medicine-group-after-30-healers-are-spiked-5382472/
liveonearth: (praying girl)
There are no gods, no devils,
no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.


--Inscription planned for a monument
to be installed on Arkansas Capitol grounds,
if the state persists displaying
the 10 commandments.
liveonearth: (hwy 666)
Factoid: 1/100 people in the US and Europe live in a cult at some point in their lives

Distinction: living in not same as belonging to (do second generation adults *SGAs* who are plotting to escape count as members? perhaps not)

Sources not viewed by my own eyes: International Cultic Studies Assoc in Florida, European anti-cultic groups ...

This factoid in combination with the assertion that most people in cults do not call them that, means that lots of people have probably been in something Lisa would call a cult, but who would deny it.
liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
I am just home from a terrific talk on cults by Lisa Kendall of Portland, Oregon. Her family joined a cult called The Move of God, which Wikipedia calls a nondemoninational charismatic Christian group. It happened because her 7 year old sibling made friends with another 7 year old on the walk home from school, in a city that seems as safe as Portland.
Read more... )

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