Tag Archives | Opinion

Blasphemy Laws: A Crime Against Humanity

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet when it comes to disparaging the Prophet Mohammed, two additional certainties become readily apparent: first, that a wide swath of the Islamic world is immediately going to erupt into spasms of chaotic and senseless violence, and second, that their leaders will redouble their perennial efforts to have the United Nations nullify the West’s most sacred human right – freedom of expression – through the passing of a so-called “blasphemy law,” which would criminalize defamation of religion.

For the past decade or so, ever since these efforts first began in earnest, one of the prime counterarguments has been to point out how any such repressive forms of broad censorship are inevitably used to primarily punish and suppress political dissidents, or to otherwise discriminate against unpopular segments of the population.… Read the rest

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No, Astrobiology Has Not Made the Case for God

Via Lawrence M. Krauss – The New Yorker:

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a piece with the surprising title “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” At least it was surprising to me, because I hadn’t heard the news. The piece argued that new scientific evidence bolsters the claim that the appearance of life in the universe requires a miracle, and it received almost four hundred thousand Facebook shares and likes.

The author of the piece, Eric Metaxas, is not himself a scientist. Rather, he’s a writer and a TV host, and the article was a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to resurrect the notion of intelligent design, which gives religious arguments the veneer of science—this time in a cosmological context. Life exists only on Earth and has not been found elsewhere. Moreover, the conditions that caused life to appear here are miraculous.

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I Thought I Was A Feminist Until I Started Dating A Men’s Rights Activist

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Jasmine Subrata writing at Thought Catalog:

I didn’t know what a men’s rights activist was until I fell in love with one. He didn’t know I was a feminist until our First Big Argument. Every couple went through one, but I doubt any of them had one based on something as petty as ours.

My boyfriend is a cis white male of European descent. He is 6’7, barely fits through a doorframe, listens to indie music and enjoys video games more than puppies. I grew up in a third world country and am currently studying overseas, where I met him through a mutual. I am a feminist because in my country, patriarchy is rampant, child brides are aplenty, and street harassment is commonplace. My boyfriend is an MRA because after objectively comparing the issues of both genders in a first-world context, he finds that the male activists need more support in fighting for their issues.

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Take it and Like it: Corporate America and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill by Mark Weiser at Dissident Voice:

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors.

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Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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Op-ed: The Plot Against Public Education

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big.

When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire is willing to back it up with hard cash, public officials tend to reach for the money with one hand and their marching orders with the other. Gates backed his small-schools initiative with enormous amounts of cash. So, without a great deal of thought, one school district after another signed on to the notion that large public high schools should be broken up and new, smaller schools should be created.

This was an inherently messy process. The smaller schools—proponents sometimes called them academies—would often be shoehorned into the premises of the larger schools, so you’d end up with two, three or more schools competing for space and resources in one building.

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We need more focus on the women poets of World War I

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Lisa Regan, University of Liverpool

Members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. PA/PA Archive

We’ve become very accustomed to connecting World War I with its soldier-poets. And the centenary celebrations in Britain have very rightly reminded us how important key figures such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon were to their own generation and continue to be for future generations.

But for all that I was struck by actress Penelope Keith’s reading of Rose Macaulay’s poem, Many Sisters to Many Brothers at Westminster Abbey’s candle-lit vigil. It was refreshing – not least because Macaulay is an author often edged off the literary map. But despite this I was left wondering whether this particular poem was the right poem to choose.

Macaulay’s 1914 poem expresses women’s envy of men’s freedom to go to war (service being voluntary until conscription began in 1916).… Read the rest

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Can blogging be academically valuable? Seven reasons for thinking it might be

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

I have been blogging for nearly five years (hard to believe). In that time, I’ve written over 650 posts on a wide variety of topics: religion, metaethics, applied ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of law, technology, epistemology, philosophy of science and so on. Since most of my posts clock-in at around 2,000 words, I’d estimate that I have written over one million words. I also reckon I spend somewhere in the region of 10-15 hours per week working on the blog, sometimes more. The obvious question is: why?

Could it be the popularity? Well, I can’t deny that having a wide readership is part of the attraction, but if that’s reason then I must be doing something wrong. The blog is only “sort of” popular. My google stats suggest that I’ll clear 1,000,000 views in the next month and half (with a current average of 35,000 per month).Read the rest

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Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with cooperation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Robert Imre, University of Newcastle

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today, terrorist groups have one thing in common. They seek to shock, while simultaneously portraying themselves as victims. While their beliefs can vary wildly, what they all share is the “propaganda of the deed” in their extreme violent activities.

Typically, political violence in the most extreme form – terrorism – usually will see groups fracture in to smaller sub-groups. Once violence is legitimated, it then becomes a way to settle internal disagreements as well.

Given that we have seen a number of terrorist groups come and go over the decades, it bears scrutiny how these various groups were successfully stopped, as well as where governments failed.… Read the rest

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Deepak Chopra is pissed off by Richard Dawkins’ arrogance

Deepak_Chopra_2013

This post is certain to polarize the Disinfo audience, as some of you seem to follow Chopra and others Dawkins. Let’s all try to be civil in the comments!

via The Raw Story:

A new book details the years-long, highly acrimonious feud between self-help guru Deepak Chopra and evolutionary biologist and skeptic Richard Dawkins.

According to Salon.com, Tom Roston’s book The Quantum Prophets: Richard Dawkins, Deepak Chopra and the spooky truth about their battle over God, explains that the longstanding rivalry between the two men began at the 2002 TED Conference and culminated in a public debate in 2013. In an interview with Roston, Chopra explained that Dawkins’ “arrogance” continues to bother him.

“With Dawkins, I am just pissed off. I am pissed off by his arrogance and his pretense of being a really good scientist. He is not,” Chopra told Roston. “And he is using his scientific credentials to literally go on a rampage.”

When Roston said that this kind of resentment is surprising coming from a man who purports to teach millions of others the secrets of inner peace, Chopra, surprisingly, agreed.

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