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Discussion Forum

Way Of The Mister Short (WOTMS): A Reassuring Fable

Started by Loren Miller. Last reply by Chris B Oct 11. 2 Replies

Brian Keith Dalton, a.k.a. "Mr. Deity," has been taking William Lane Craig to task lately for his lazy and generally not-horribly-thoughtful take on why belief in Yahweh is so essential to him and how wonderful it must all be to have the supposed…Continue

Tags: Carl Sagan, Brian Keith Dalton, William Lane Craig, Mr. Deity

The Big Picture: How We Got Into This Mess, And How We Get Out of It (Robert Reich)

Started by Loren Miller. Last reply by Doug Hanlon Sep 24. 16 Replies

Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been. -- The Grateful Dead, "Truckin'" And that "long, strange trip" has gotten positively rocky, particularly in the last 40 years, under the influence of Reagan, both Bushes, and of course,…Continue

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Started by Sydni Moser. Last reply by Mrs.B Sep 6. 4 Replies

   Had a long hard day?Need to just unwind and 'shoot the breeze'with a few good buddies?Pull up a stool, grab yourself a brewski ora cup of hot fresh brewed java andlets chit-chat about anythingthat's on your mind.Pass the peanuts please.  Continue

A riddle: What is IT?

Started by Adriana. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck Sep 3. 49 Replies

Astronomers do IT all night. Chemists do IT by bonding. Newton did IT with force. Eighteenth century physicists did IT with rigid bodies. Maxwell did IT with magnetism. Volta did IT with a jolt. Watt did IT with power. Joule did IT with…Continue

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How do mothers (usually) bring up boys to respect women as equals? Or not do so?

Started by Tom Sarbeck. Last reply by Andy Stout Jun 30. 12 Replies

Who can get through a day of the 2016 presidential campaign and not think of this?Here's part of how my mom did it in the late 1930s and the 1940s. I didn't know what she had in mind when she raised us as if there was no such thing as boys' work or…Continue

Tags: sexism

Thanksgiving Day Plans

Started by Jean Marie. Last reply by Joan Denoo Dec 8, 2020. 45 Replies

What is everyone doing for Thanksgiving this year, or, as the Native Americans call it, "Immigration Day". Are you hosting or guesting?Are you looking forward to it,or dreading it? Who will be there, what recipe will you be cooking?Continue

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Comment was by Mrs.B on October 16, 2022 at 12:22pm

So true, Ian!

Comment was by Ian Mason on October 16, 2022 at 11:52am

Comment was by Doug Hanlon on October 16, 2022 at 9:34am

And as I said, this is not dishonorable. (Okay, with some people, there is no doubt the motivation to show just how wonderfully good they are, to signal their shining virtue, especially since it costs nothing to do so.) But basically, these naive beliefs are well-intentioned. However, neither is this way of seeing reality a good thing, because it actually gets in the way of making a better world. If you can't comprehend reality, you can't change it. For beliefs about things which are facts -- not values -- we should always ask ourselves, "What evidence would make me change my mind?" If, for you, there can be no such evidence, even in principle, then you have a religious belief.)

Anyway, which African country shall we look at in detail?

Comment was by Doug Hanlon on October 16, 2022 at 9:33am

The concept of 'backward societies' was commonplace among Right AND Left until very recently, when Political Correctness let emotions replace reason among some people. (Who, I should say, are no doubt moved by very honorable intentions.)

So ... let's start with Africa. Remember, a description of a group's behavior is not an explanation of the behavior of the individuals in that group.  The description is just the raw data.  WHY things happen among people is complex.

One thing we can rule out is that behavior is a simple function of unchanging human nature. We can rule that out because we have many examples of a group behaving one way in one historic period, and in another way in another historic period.

My favorite example is the Danes, the nicest people in the world. But their ancestors were the fearsome Vikings, objects of the prayers of those living  along the English eastern seabord, "From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, deliver us!"  

Next favorite are the inhabitants of Guatemala today ... an impoverished peasantry, with all that implies. But these people are the descendants of the Maya, who were doing astronomy, had a complex calendar, and had an positional-exponential numbering system ahead of the Europeans. What happened? It wasn't there genes which changed.

So ... we can all mouth nice platitudes: let's all live together, I don't care what your ancestors were, etc etc. All decent people subscribe to these nice warm feelings. 

But we must also view reality. Humans are the 'third chimpanzee', and not inherently sweet and kind.

Getting to a society which, at least in principle, honors human rights, believes in treating people equally before the law, is committed, indeed, to the rule of law ... that's something that has taken millenia of struggle. And which has not happened evenly among the tribes of the world.

As for Africa today, after the colonialists left. Where shall we start?

I'll let the people who think it's just as advanced as Europe or China or the US choose. Pick a major African country. Zimbabwe?  The Democratic Republic of the Congo? Rwanda? South Africa? Uganda?  Nigeria? Kenya?

Pick one, and we'll investigate.  Now ... if you are religious, nothing I or anyone else can write will change your mind.  And many atheists are in fact deeply religious, even more so than many notional Christians or Jews.

That is, they have beliefs about matters of fact  which cannot be shaken by any experience. Just as fundamentalist Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and NOTHING will change their view, many atheists believe things which are questions of fact, but which they don't believe for factual reasons, but for emotional reasons.   

And this is not, in either case, necessarily dishonorable. Many Christians entertwine their ideas about God with ideas about being good. They believe, with Dostoevsky, that "without God, all things are possible."

So if you don't believe Jesus rose from the dead, ie you don't believe in miracles, you must, at least potentially, be an evil person, in their eyes. It's the same motivation that led many religious people to oppose the idea that the earth (and therefore man) was not the center of the universe, or that we are descendants of non-human primates.

So also with atheists who believe that daily life in Africa is as civilized and pleasant for the inhabitants as it is in Iowa ... or if it's not, it's all the white man's fault. These are beliefs which no amount of facts will shake, because they're not based on facts, but on the desire to be a good person.

Continued in second post to follow:

Comment was by Kurt Neuleuf on October 15, 2022 at 9:39pm


I am of the same opinion as you. We have racists in abundance here in Australia. Our past government was adept at inciting and playing the racist card. Not only to our immigrants and asylum seekers, but to our own indigenous cultures.

I ponder over the idea that people band together based on race, culture or religious beliefs as a direct result of the blatant racism and ostracisation(social and economic) they are subjected too?

Saying that other races are backward , uneducated or too undeveloped to live in our"modern" society, is a  mechanism used to brand one society as superior.

This tool, although used to great effect, is hollow, because the ignorant uneducated society is our "modern" one. The little known  Dogan tribe of Africa knew all about quantum physics for thousands of years, yet they did not see any need to develop weapons of mass destruction or too pollute their environment. 

The Australian aboriginal nation/ tribes have lived in harmony with each other for well over 100,000 years, being the first known bakers, lived in towns and villages, had a continent wide legal system that worked and wars too kill were rare. Usually a spearing occasioning wounding sufficed.

No culture on earth is, or ever has been perfect,yet each has or had a unique perspective and way of life.

The whole being the sum of it's parts, why is there the propensity to destroy and depress some of the sum of its parts?

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on October 14, 2022 at 10:33am

I couldn't care less what the racial makeup of my country is now or in the future. Nation-states are a construct anyway, what I do worry about is the increasing influence of religion on the relationships between the people of Britain. Whole areas of London and elsewhere in other cities the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and of course Christians have congregated into their own communities where contact and relationships are kept to a minimum, and suspicion of the other is increasing. Recently in Leicester, the Muslim and Hindus have been rioting against each other ostensibly about a cricket match between Pakistan and India but made worse by rumours spread by "religious leaders". Unless something is done to change the situation things will only get worse. Sorry for sounding so apocalyptic but I live in a mainly Muslim area and I witness this animosity on a daily basis. 

Comment was by Onyango M on October 14, 2022 at 12:57am

Hello Doug,

I am surprised at the naivety of your knowledge of Africa.

What tribal violence are you talking about? Which tribe fighting who? This is the same language used by racist colonialists 100 years ago!

You say-But they are painfully backward in so many important ways, by many metrics. The treatment of women, police corruption, superstition, longevity ... this is not arguable- and one wonders which place are you talking about? How many people have been killed by the police in the US this year alone? Do you have an idea? How many sherriff or police departments in the US have had corruption scandals this year? Superstition? There is even a blog on this site dedicated to Christian nationalism in the US. Are you saying they are not superstitious?

You can say Walter Rodney's book is nonsense but that is not a response to the arguments he makes. Unless you are willing to show why you think it is nonsense, I will take your comment with a pinch of salt.

I have read Jared Diamond too. Do you think if you were given time you would domesticate the African buffalo or zebra?

A few somalis are creating havoc in Sweden and then you make the argument here that what's true of an individual is true of the group. So because a few Americans are white nationalists, this must be true of all Americans?

Peoples that have few PhD's in physics and lots of witch doctors also tend to be ones that kill twins on birth, and rape their women a lot. Is such a wild claim. It may do you great service to look at the influence of christianity on witch burnings. Start with Salem while at it.

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on October 13, 2022 at 10:07am

Why the Monarchy Should Have Died With the Queen

Comment was by Doug Hanlon on October 12, 2022 at 7:36pm

Continued from previous post:

As for 'Why is it impossible for host nations to create a multicultural society that allows all groups to thrive?', you'll have to ask the Somali gangs now ripping up the nice, but terminally naive, Swedes that question. Or ask the Swedes, who didn't realize they were committing national suicide when the opened their borders.

Every one of us has a family tree that includes brutal savages. The human species advanced beyond that stage in some areas, in other areas, not so much. I blame the geography.

And it's interesting -- and rather depressing -- to note that technical/scientific advances are loosely coupled, but only loosely, with social advances. Peoples that have few PhD's in physics and lots of witch doctors also tend to be ones that kill twins on birth, and rape their women a lot. Those that do have some PhD's in physics also tend to be ones that respect human rights much more than the former.

But ... and here's the depressing part -- this coupling is only 'loose', and the proof of that is Nazi Germany. The most civilized country in Europe, with many brilliant scientists.

Anyway, if our stupid leaders can just refrain from getting into an insane nuclear war, in another fifty or so years, distinct human tribes will be on the way out.

We'll be crafting the genomes of our descendants, and they'll all be a nice bronze color, with IQ's of 175+, cancer and all other genetic diseases will be a thing of the past, and man will start to become the subject, rather than the object, of history.   If ....

Comment was by Doug Hanlon on October 12, 2022 at 7:32pm

Onyango said: "

Doug I am being as general as one can be in this situation. I think you are guilty of ethnocentrism. I doubt the people leaving Africa are looking for a higher culture as you claim. For most, their cultures are richer than they can get anywhere. It is opportunities to prosper is what they are looking for. Maybe I am naive, but the reasons you give for people moving are so outlandish- you talk of corruption, gang violence & discrimination as if these are not present in the west.

Why is it impossible for host nations to create a multicultural society that allows all groups to thrive? A society that makes integration possible through cultural exchange? What do you find particularly wrong or untoward about the concern of losing one's identity? What is it about their identity that bothers you?"

No, I don't think African would-be immigrants to Europe are "looking for a higher culture". I think they are as you say, "looking for opportunities to prosper" ... which are not there in their countries, because of the corruption, incompetence, tribal violence. Yes, every horrible thing in Africa can also be found in Europe and America -- the difference is one of scale: it's far, far worse in Africa.

Are their cultures 'rich'? Of course they are, in one sense. They're satisfying to those who grow up in them. But they are painfully backward in so many important ways, by many metrics. The treatment of women, police corruption, superstition, longevity ... this is not arguable.

We could argue about why things are so bad in Africa -- there is a book entitled 'How Europe Underdeveloped Africa', which presents one side of the argument. I think it's nonsense, but, on the other hand, I don't 'blame' Africans, or believe that it's some inherent flaw in them.

We're all intelligent chimpanzees. And we're a pretty nasty species. How our different sub-groups ('races', 'tribes', 'ethnic groups') have climbed up the ladder of social evolution, at very different rates, would also be an interesting discussion. My personal guess is that geography plays a big role -- here I've been influence by Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, and Peter Zeihan's Accidental Superpower.

[ Jared Diamond Peter Zeihan]

I'm part American Indian, and my particular tribe never got far beyond the hunter-gatherer stage. But a bit futher south, with, presumably, not very different genes, there were Native Americans who were clearly on the road to high civilization: pyramids, astronomy, a positional-exponential numbering system that was superior to its contemporary European equivalent. They invented many things but, as Che Guevara noted, they didn't invent gunpowder. So they were destroyed by those who had invented it.
Continued in a second post.


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