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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just up at The Mindful Hack

Andrew Newberg and the problem of measuring consciousness

Spotted: Neuroscientists in the movies - Andrew Newberg!

For all go to The Mindful Hack is my blog on issues in neuroscience and spirituality.

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Canadian Conservatives vote for freedom

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The motion passed overwhelmingly!

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Via Ezra Levant:

99% of Conservatives vote against infamous Section 13, and the Justice Minister voted against it (even as his department is enforcing it). Guess he better do lunch with his staff?

Message to evil snitches: Research retraining ops via Employment Canada Monday pronto.

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The intellectual freedom resolution has passed the Canadian Conservative party's floor vote.

Heard that from a friend watching C-PAC .

Here's Ezra Levant's view. And remember, there is a long way to go.

Also Franklin Carter of the Freedom of Expression Committee at the Book and Periodical Council (to whom hat tip) offers an excellent op-ed by Rex Murphy in the Globe and Mail:

Human rights, the real ones, are ours from the beginning. They are not bestowed by the state, because the state does not "own" them; they are not a state's or a ruler's or, for that matter, a human-rights commission's to give. It equally follows that they are not a state's or a commission's to abridge, circumscribe, tamper with or make a toy of.

The concept of human rights, real human rights, has been long with us. But only in modern times did we learn what immeasurable darkness falls on the world when they are nullified. The butcheries of Auschwitz and Buchenwald followed as a straight and bitter line from Hitler's assumption of absolute power in 1933 and his cauterization and extinction of the concept of freedom in the German Reich. Nothing less than the Holocaust underwrites the modern understanding and appreciation of human rights. They are as profound and central a concept to the democracies of the world as we have.

They constitute the core of human freedom. They are the antidote to tyranny. They are fundamental.

Of late, in Canada, however, this most painfully acquired understanding has been utterly unmoored. The various provincial human-rights commissions and their federal godfather have been cutting away at the core of, and extending into utter fatuity the term, human rights.
. To which, Rex, there is only one proper response: Fire. Them. All.

As in Chariots of Fire ...

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One third of British teachers think ID or creationism okay

In The Daily Telegraph, Martin Beckford tells us "One in three teachers says teach creationism alongside evolution" (07 N0v 2008).
The poll found that 31 per cent of teachers agree that creationism or intelligent design – the theory that the universe shows signs of having been designed rather than evolving – should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom, including 18 per cent of science teachers.

Half of those questioned agreed that excluding the alternative to evolution would alienate religious pupils, and almost nine out of 10 believed they should be allowed to discuss creationism if pupils bring it up.

Mr Bethell said: "Although over half of teachers either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that creationism should be given the same status as evolution, there is a significant minority who believe that it should be given equal weight.

"Nearly half of teachers also agreed with Professor Michael Reiss' sentiment that excluding alternative explanations to evolution is counter-productive and alienates pupils from science.
No surprise here, except, were I advising those teachers, I would tell them to keep quiet about their doubts for now. The people who fired Michael Reiss are perfectly capable of a purge, and indeed, a purge has already been threatened.

The elite Darwinist materialists will then - par for the course - replace experienced teachers with their stooges - signally free of either brains or guts, and likely to resolve evidence-based doubts by an orgy of compulsory communal Darwin worship.

Arthur Jones, chair of the British Association of Christian Teachers, writes to say,
If you want to watch what TeachersTV in the UK is producing for teachers and schools, promoting Darwin and attacking creationism and intelligent design, then go here.

It is dreadful, but it does illustrate a stark divide - scientists agitating for dogmatism and indoctrination and educationists and teachers feeling that discussion and argument are better.

I say it was dreadful because at no point does it explain what creationists or ID proponents actually believe, nor how they handle the evidence. Almost none of the 'evidence' mentioned in the programme discriminates between the positions. Adam Rutherford, the presenter, is, in relation to the issue he was addressing, plain ignorant (and that's being generous!)

However there are some good omens in the UK - growing instances of the atheists having to face the hard questions that their control of the UK media has hitherto enabled them to avoid (e.g. Justin Brierley's interview of Richard Dawkins after his last debate with John Lennox in Oxford on 21 October - you can listen to it on the Premier website here ).
Actually, Dawkins - who told Ben Stein that, given a choice, he is willing to believe space aliens created life rather than that God did - should long ago have been discredited as a public figure. The fact that he hasn't been tells you how bad things are in Britain.

So British teachers, read as much as you can about design and teach those alert students with whom you can safely share information to remain quiet about what they know for now. And wait for the signal.

See also: Can we all just spell out together "U-S-E-F-U-L I-D-I-O-T-S" and have done with it?

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Farewell, fat gene ... goodby gay gene ... so long, sloppiness gene

When someone informs you that it (whatever it is) is in their genes - so forget asking them to grow up and accept some responsibility - show them this article:

.... new large-scale studies of DNA are causing her and many of her colleagues to rethink the very nature of genes. They no longer conceive of a typical gene as a single chunk of DNA encoding a single protein. “It cannot work that way,” Dr. Prohaska said. There are simply too many exceptions to the conventional rules for genes.

It turns out, for example, that several different proteins may be produced from a single stretch of DNA. Most of the molecules produced from DNA may not even be proteins, but another chemical known as RNA. The familiar double helix of DNA no longer has a monopoly on heredity. Other molecules clinging to DNA can produce striking differences between two organisms with the same genes. And those molecules can be inherited along with DNA.

The gene, in other words, is in an identity crisis. - "Now the Rest of the Genome" by Carl Zimmer (New York Times, November 10, 2008)

And will somebody please text Lamarck, and tell him he's being rehabilitated?

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Can we all just spell out together "U-S-E-F-U-L I-D-I-O-T-S" and have done with it?

At the blog + Science and Values*: ("Support for Michael Reiss from Unlikely Sources," November 15, 2008), we read,

It is noticeable that many creationists and intelligent design supporters have written in support of Michael Reiss, despite the fact that Reiss claims to be a theistic evolutionist. The latest is a piece in the November issue of Evangelical Times by David Tyler, in which he welcomes Reiss’s call for respectful dialogue in the classroom so that the views of those who hold to different worldviews can be recognised, respected and treated fairly. Reiss has argued that disrespecting those who have different worldviews only turns children away from science and is therefore counter-productive to providing good science education. Many creationists broadly agree with this assertion and therefore welcome calls for respect in the science classroom.

What is also noticeable about the events surrounding Michael Reiss is the lack of comment and support for him from organisations such as the Faraday Institute (FI) and Christians in Science (CiS). A word search on the CiS website for ‘Reiss’ reveals only one entry in an article [1] merely as a mention of Reiss’s book under ‘Further Reading.’ On the FI website no results for Reiss were found.

One may wonder why there is such silence from CiS and FI when Reiss (who is a theistic evolutionist who held an important position) was recently treated so unjustly at the hands of some Fellows of the Royal Society. ...
If you don't remember Reiss, see "Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God." He's that Brit cleric who got the boot from the Royal Society for suggesting that students should learn about ID and creationism before launching directly into the two-minute hate.

Look, "theistic evolutionist" - Denis Alexander-style - is a brief synonym for "useful idiot for materialist atheism." Like most useful idiocy, it is an answer to a problem that doesn't exist. The problem is supposed to be that the universe shows no evidence of design - but some people need that crutch. So how can they responsibly hold the belief in the absence of evidence?

The reality - which the most brief acquaintance with the popular science press will illustrate - is that the universe shows lots of evidence of design, and the big move on the part of atheist materialists is to explain it away when dealing with intelligent adults (and to institute the two-minute hate when dealing with children).

So Reiss the Nice was underbussed because, reckless idealist, he thought the theistic evolutionists' program was supposed to do something other than front atheistic materialism to foolish, pious Brits. And he tactlessly reveaeld that he thought so.

But just how many foolish, pious Brits are there? It sure wouldn't work so well here in Canada, where many of us are shaking off our chains.

*A group of theologians and scientists concerned about truth and values in science and society

The two-minute hate, in case you wondered:

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Why does it matter if humans are not just the "third chimpanzee"?

"Human exceptionalism" means thinking that humans are not simply big-brained animals. Here bioethicist Wesley J. Smith explains why that is important for human rights:

There is a war being waged against unique human worth on many fronts, from personhood theory and the animal liberation movement to radical environmentalism and philosophical materialism. Very powerful forces have dedicated themselves to convincing us that we really aren't all that important. Smith explains these attacks and shows why human exceptionalism must be defended for the sake of human rights everywhere.
Shades of Eric "ebola" Pianka, perhaps?

On a more serious note, many people don't realize that the late hotel queen Leona "only poor people pay taxes" Helmsley left her fortune to animal rights:

In fact, the clear motivation underlying Leona Helmsley’s will—her desire to pass her wealth on to dogs—is more common than might be expected. Pet-lovers (many of whom now prefer the term “animal companion”) have engineered a quiet revolution in the law to allow, in effect, nonhumans to inherit and spend money. It is becoming routine for dogs to receive cash and real estate in the form of trusts, and there is already at least one major foundation devoted to helping dogs. A network of lawyers and animal activists has orchestrated these changes, largely without opposition, in order to whittle down the legal distinctions between human beings and animals. They are already making plans for the Helmsleys’ billions.

- Jeffrey Tobin, "Rich Bitch: The legal battle over trust funds for pets" (New Yorker, September 29, 2008)

In my view, "animal rights" will not benefit animals but will denigrate humans. Animals cannot use civil rights, for example, but humans cannot have a rational relationship with government without them. And I don't consider it an accident that "animal rights" is advanced at the same time that we are locked in a struggle against the destroyers of civil liberties in Canada (the "human rights" commissions).

Even if human intellectual endowments were an accident, which I do not believe, they would be an accident with unavoidable consequences - including the struggle for the restoration of civil rights.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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