Tag Archives | Culture

Veiled Threats and the Danger of Ideology

Via orwellwasright:

The controversy over the wearing of the niqab, hijab and burka in Western nations is picking up once again. For many Westerners, the wearing of the veil is a mark of a repressive medieval religion – the recent case in the UK where a Muslim school forced its female teachers to wear the hijab and the subsequent condemnation by officials at the National Union of Teachers is indicative of the backlash Muslim traditions face. Al-Madinah School in Derby is also accused of practicing discrimination between male and female pupils, forcing girls to sit at the back of the class – hardly a ringing endorsement for modern Islam’s commitment to contemporary values on gender equality.

Another recent controversy emerged over the issue of Muslim wearing the veil while giving evidence in court, and similar issues were raised about whether or not Muslims working for the National Health Service should cover their faces when treating patients.… Read the rest

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The Musical Universe

Via orwellwasright:

What is it about music that moves us in so many different ways? The rhythm begins and we slide onto the dancefloor, gyrating to the beats; a guitar strikes a chord and we throw ourselves into the crowd, surfing across a sea of hands; a favourite song comes on the radio and we sing along at the top of our voices, oblivious to the looks of bemusement coming from other drivers stuck in the traffic jam. The right songs can change the way we feel in an instant, as effective as the mood pills consumed in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I recently had the good fortune to attend a live performance of Beethoven’s legendary 9th Symphony. While it is something of a cliché – and perhaps exaggeration – to call this “the greatest music ever written” it’s certainly an intensely powerful experience which has endured the test of time, remaining one of the most popular pieces on the classical repertoire.… Read the rest

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DragonCon 2013 Exclusive: The Transmedia of Tomorrow

Exclusive: DragonCon 2013 – The Transmedia of Tomorrow: The Art That Lies To Tell The Truth

01-dragonconlogoFiction and non-fiction, fact and myth, often aren’t opposites.

These lines blend a little more every day. When these things play such a crucial role in our news as well as entertainment media, and in a world where social media platforms are often at the front lines of cultural revolutions, it is increasingly necessary that these things are understood. Join us for a discussion on this topic, along with links to a variety of articles that expand upon and support the limited amount that can be discussed in a 45 minute panel.

This three person panel is a truncated transcript of the initial Dragon*Con discussion, moderated by David Metcalfe. The other two participants were transmedia artist James Curcio and Damien Williams, who you may have caught at one of many other panels at Dragon*Con this year including “How To Be a Comics Scholar,” “Devouring Selfhood: Zombies In Narrative,” “Gender, Race, and Identities in Comics,” and many others.Read the rest

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Study Finds Atheists More Intelligent Than Believers

Richard Dawkins

Well, as it turns out, atheists have one more thing to be smug about.

(Where is your god now?!)

VIA Yahoo

Religious people are less intelligent than non-believers, according to a new review of 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades.

Previous studies have tended to assume that intelligent people simply “know better”, the researchers write – but the reasons may be more complex.

The studies used in Zuckerman’s paper included a life-long analysis of the beliefs of a group of 1,500 gifted children – those with IQs over 135 – in a study which began in 1921 and continues today.

Even at 75 to 91 years of age, the children from Lewis Terman’s study scored lower for religiosity than the general population – contrary to the widely held belief that people turn to God as they age. The researchers noted that data was lacking about religious attitudes in old age and say, “Additional research is needed to resolve this issue.”

As early as 1958, Michael Argyle concluded, “Although intelligent children grasp religious concepts earlier, they are also the first to doubt the truth of religion, and intelligent students are much less likely to accept orthodox beliefs, and rather less likely to have pro-religious attitudes.”

A 1916 study quoted in Zuckerman’s paper (Leuba) found that, “58% of randomly selected scientists in the United States expressed disbelief in, or doubt regarding the existence of God; this proportion rose to nearly 70% for the most eminent scientists.”

The paper, published in the academic journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, said “Most extant explanations (of a negative relation) share one central theme—the premise that religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who “know better.”

 

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The Ugly Truth: What the Drop in Unemployment Doesn’t Tell You.

ratrace

It’s the same game, only harder!

The truth is out.  We are living in a time when a shocking four out of 5 U.S. adults will struggle with joblessness or poverty.  This revelation not only flies directly in the face of another drop in unemployment, but reconfirms what many of us had already known, we’re in trouble.

If you find yourself looking for a job, you’re in an over-crowded market where the young and educated are relegated to jobs well below their intellectual station. This is due in part to the heavy competition at the of the top of the job market among the highly-skilled.  Basically, those left out of the jobs they really want are knocked down a peg, creating what Economist Paul Beaudry calls “cascading.”  The top pushes down on the middle and the middle pushes down on the bottom, burying those who are most vulnerable and under-qualified.

This phenomenon stems from what’s been deemed  The Great Reversal.”  That is, there used to be an over-abundance of high-paying jobs that required skill, intellectual capital and education, but now there just aren’t.  In fact, demand for those types of jobs peaked all the way back in the year 2000.  That’s right, even with all this talk of a “skills gap,” the need for high-skill jobs actually stopped growing 13 years ago.… Read the rest

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Stephen Bond: ‘Why I Am No Longer a Skeptic’

strawman2Writer Stephen Bond’s eloquent rejection of  the skeptic movement is sure to ruffle a few feathers here.  Is he overstating his case and condemning a large group of well-meaning people for the actions of a poorly behaved few? (I’m particularly intrigued by his own dismissive and somewhat patronizing generalization of people who hold minority beliefs as only doing so because they’re powerless and marginalized and need to reject whatever authority has dictated to be an acceptable  belief system.)

What about his suggestion that many of his former colleagues prefer to spend their time reaching for low-hanging fruit instead of taking a swipe at thornier issues? It is important to emphasize that he isn’t rejecting the idea of skepticism, per se, and certainly not reason and science. His fight is what he perceives as dogma rather than the message itself.

Excerpt:

Our political system, education and culture leave a lot of people marginalised, lost, impotent, irrelevant, and made to feel so daily.… Read the rest

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Kenneth Smith: Cultural Critic of the Modern Era

Kenneth SmithIn 1988 artist and philosophy professor Kenneth Smith began writing a philosophy column called Dramas of the Mind in The Comics Journal. Smith’s column ran there intermittently for the next twenty years. Smith wrote about philosophical issues as they relate to modern civilization, covering ethics, violence, sex, education, science, art, etc. Smith wrote powerful analysis of contemporary manias and delusions in a blazing, take-no-prisoners style. His insights into the modern age are penetrating and worthy of the great cultural critics and essayists of the past, in the traditions of Chomsky, Mencken, Bloom, Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Vidal, Žižek, etc. Certainly his is a voice that deserves greater exposure.

This information page gives an overview of Kenneth Smith, links to many resources, and posts scans of his classic run of TCJ columns. The scans contain his most essential writing, but there is a Tumblr blog and a Gaim library that provide quotes from longer pieces.… Read the rest

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Alan Moore and Psychogeography

Picture: Karen Karnak (CC)

Picture: Karen Karnak (CC)

Alan Moore interviews are always worth reading. Here he discusses psychogeography as it applies to various of his works.

via Reasons I Do Not Dance:

What exactly, in your not unlimited understanding, is Psychogeography?

In its simplest form I understand psychogeography to be a straightforward acknowledgement that we, as human beings, embed aspects of our psyche…memories, associations, myth and folklore…in the landscape that surrounds us. On a deeper level, given that we do not have direct awareness of an objective reality but, rather, only have awareness of our own perceptions, it would seem to me that psychogeography is possibly the only kind of geography that we can actually inhabit.

What books and writers ignited your interest in psychogeography?

The author that first introduced me to the subject was the person I regard as being its contemporary master, namely Iain Sinclair, with his early work Lud Heat.

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Cultural Illness and the Curse of Shifting Sands, DSM V

Cultural Relativity

In evaluating dysfunction or illness, we have long followed the seemingly straightforward model of diagnose, treat, evaluate, iterate.

However, diagnosis has long been the secret — or not so secret — Achilles heel of the psychiatric establishment. Many philosophic issues arise, issues of cultural relativism, ethical issues of financial interests in pharmaceuticals, to name a few. These are issues that ‘by the book’ psychiatrists frequently dismiss as ‘merely philosophical.’ Indeed, it’s been a relatively long time since Freud or Jung were taken entirely seriously by the establishment doling out the meds. “By the book.” What is “the book”?

Since DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association 1980), disorders have been defined in terms of syndromes—that is, clusters of symptoms that covary together (see the section following, titled “Need to Explore the Possibility of Fundamental Changes . . .”). …

The major focus of field trials for DSM-III was establishing the reliability with which multiple clinicians could come to the same diagnostic conclusions when presented with a patient’s expressed signs and symptoms.

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