Logic Matters

Tim Blair highlights how social workers are feeling the need to be ’sensitive’ when dealing with female genital mutilation in Australia.

A South Australian child protection worker, quoted in this report:

I might just add that the thing that throws a real spanner across the board for everybody, and it’s just such a delicate subject, is female genital mutilation. While some staff see that as very wrong, we need to be very sensitive how we deal with that issue.

Only some see it as wrong? The issue is sensitive? Child protection expert Professor Freda Briggs isn’t buying it:

Professor Briggs said this attitude was unacceptable. “This is an offence against Australian law and they should throw the book at them – there is no shade of grey in this,” she said …

Briggs has criticised the views of departmental officials in the report, saying the practice is illegal torture and the perpetrators should be charged immediately by police, without any sensitivity.

Prof Briggs is from an era (and an area) not inclined to cultural hand-wringing. Worryingly, some of those mutilating perps may be outside the communities involved:

Professor Briggs said a tolerance of the practice had even led to mainstream doctors carrying out the practice for fear that it would otherwise be done by family members.

If this is so, certain mainstream doctors require mainstream investigation and mainstream imprisonment.

Think about the logic and reasoning used here.

  1. We need to be culturally sensitive when someone mutilates a little girl
  2. If doctors don’t do the procedure, it will cause more harm as it will be done by unqualified people

Do any of these arguments sound familiar?

Evolution and Morality

If the neo-darwinian hypothesis is correct, then this perspective logically follows.

From Jerome H. Barkow, “Steps toward convergence: Evolutionary psychology’s saga continues,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, September 1, 2009 vol. 106 no. 35 14743-14744, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907723106

From the unsentimental perspective of evolution, however, not just anger but sexual jealousy, male sexual insistence, infidelity (on the part of both men and women), sibling rivalry, preoccupation with one’s relative standing, nepotism, and individual and collective aggression are not pathologies or even errors to be corrected once and for all by morality and religion or at least proper child socialization, they are strategies that have often, at least in the past, been biologically adaptive.  Like socially valued traits such as love, loyalty, cooperativeness, and forgiveness, traits that we may find unsavory are nevertheless also products of our evolutionary history.

(Emphasis Mine)


Separation of Church and State

Whilst Australia doesn’t have a specific notion of separation of church and state, America does.

In America, they have the ‘Establishment clause’ where it says in their first amendment that  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

This clause has been used to remove religion from public education in America as it is claimed that such education would ‘Establish’ a religion. Obviously, proponents of this claim believe that education is a tool for creating acceptance of particular ideas.

My question is this. If you accept this reasoning, then shouldn’t there also be restrictions on other things in education, such as politics?

Consider Barack Obama’s upcoming address to school children (who will be forced to watch it) or even the numerous efforts of teachers to use their students as lobbyists and protestors. If teaching or making students practice a religion is wrong, then shouldn’t also these political activities be stamped out with just as much gusto?

Flee From Tempation

An article on New Scientist finds that those most confident about being able to resist temptation, are the most likely to give in to temptation.

“We don’t appreciate how powerful temptation can be,” says Nordgren, and our brains may prime us for addiction. Avoiding the temptation altogether is the only way to stay out of trouble, he says.

The Dangers of Borrowed Capital

A recent article highlights the Islamification of Europe

One passage in the article got me thinking though…

Recent polls have tended to show that the feared radicalisation of Europe’s Muslims has not occurred. That gives hope that the newcomers will integrate successfully. Nonetheless, second and third generations of Muslims show signs of being harder to integrate than their parents. Policy Exchange, a British study group, found that more than 70 per cent of Muslims over 55 felt that they had as much in common with non-Muslims as Muslims. But this fell to 62 per cent of 16-24 year-olds.

Why do second and third generations of immigrants seem to not integrate as well (as happens in Australia too)? I suspect it is because the first generation has seen first hand what living in an Islamic nation can be like. The second and third generations, fed to constant distortion of multi-culturalism, without the true experience of what they seek, use the borrowed capital of a society based on Christian heritage, freedom and liberty,  and believe their vision of society is going to simple improve on it.

It reminds me of a quote I saw last week

“We forgot that the opposite of integration is disintegration.” -George Jonas

Astounding DNA Discovery – DNA Differences in an Individual

In a finding that has taken scientists completely by surprise, it seems DNA may not be the same in different cells of the same body.

When they compared them, the researchers discovered major differences between BAK genes in blood cells and tissue cells coming from the same individuals, with the suspected disease “trigger” residing only in the tissue. Moreover, the same differences were later evident in samples derived from healthy individuals.

This is huge!

Man-made Global Warming Science Settled?

One of the most common claims is that the Man-made Global Warming claims are settled science.

Yet, Tom Tripp, one of the 450 ‘lead authors’ of the IPCC report disputes that claim.

He said there is so much of a natural variability in weather it makes it difficult to come to a scientifically valid conclusion that global warming is man made. “It well may be, but we’re not scientifically there yet.”

Of course, you might find it hard to see Tripp’s opinion reflected in any of the text of the IPCC reports, even though he was a lead author. Which begs the question as to why his views were not represented. Of course, the removal of any doubt about man-made global warming from the IPCC reports seems to be fairly clear.

Interestingly, the language in IPCC AR4 is (using the terminology of climate science) “remarkably similar” to Bony et al (J Clim 2006) url , with the differences as interesting as the similarities. It seems to me that each language change from Bony to IPCC had the effect of papering over or softening the appearance of problems or contradictions, rather than clearly drawing the issues to the attention of the public.

Archaeological Evidence for King David’s Palace

Dr. Eilat Mazar has found what evidence suggests is the Palace of King David.

For a growing number of academics and intellectuals, King David and his united kingdom of Judah and Israel, which has served for 3,000 years as an integral symbol of the Jewish nation, is simply a piece of fiction. The biblical account of history has been dismissed as unreliable by a cadre of scholars, some of whom have an overtly political agenda, arguing that the traditional account was resurrected by the Zionists to justify dispossessing Palestinian Arabs. The most outspoken of these is Keith Whitelam of the Copenhagen School which promotes an agenda of “biblical minimalism,” whose best-known work is The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History.

But the debunkers of Jewish biblical history got some bad news recently, when a spunky, dedicated archaeologist began her latest dig. Dr. Eilat Mazar, world authority on Jerusalem’s past, has taken King David out of the pages of the Bible and put him back into living history. Mazar’s latest excavation in the City of David, in the southern shadow of the Temple Mount, has shaken up the archaeological world. For lying undisturbed for over 3,000 years is a massive building which Mazar believes is King David’s palace.

Brain Scans About Honesty

A recent study found that “Honest people don’t have to work at not cheating. They’re not even tempted.”

The morally responsible skeptic

Dallas Willard’s talk on skepticism

Summary: We have reached a point, says Dallas Willard, where doubting is considered smarter than belief. Furthermore, we have severed responsibility from disbelief. According to Dr. Willard, this is morally reprehensible. Just as a doctor is responsible for making herself aware of new potential treatments for her patients, individuals have a responsibility to assume the burden of proof for their disbelief. Drawing on teachings about the nature of belief and disbelief, rationality, truth, and responsibility, Dr. Willard makes a strong case that disbelief is not a stance to be taken lightly.