Change or Die

Posted in Religion on March 12, 2010 by 66notout

“The neck of religion is in the grip of that relentless strangler – education, like any victim religion will kick and struggle but death is inevitable”

Change is a fundamental feature of nature the rule is simple: change or die. In spite of our own foolishness, in spite of religion’s attempt to control and hold us back, humankind has progressed and continues to progress. Unless we self-annihilate, this natural state of affairs will be the death of religion, it will die because it is static and incompatible with the dynamic world in which we live.

The only way for any religion to live on would be to change, it must meet the changing needs of its followers and keep pace with progress. Of course, this cannot happen because religious dogma would have to be altered, bibles and other guide books rewritten to be less fantastic and nonsensical, more in line with fact than fiction. For obvious reasons this will not happen and religion will therefore eventually die, a lingering death perhaps but as people become more educated its demise will accelerate.

Don’t be fooled by the apparent upsurge in fundamentalism in the USA, the political string-pullers know that pandering to religion is the correct stance because it gives them “heavenly” control of the largely uneducated believers. In addition, religion helps enormously with the maintenance of the number one domestic policy rule, which is to keep the rich people happy and ensure that the poor people live in fear, either of a vengeful God or a bogeyman like Osama Bin Laden.

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Evidence is Paramount

Posted in Humanity on March 12, 2010 by 66notout

If you’re an educated, thinking person with an interest in the world you will I feel sure, be convinced that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old. Because you are educated, you will have read about the age of the Earth and/or attended lectures by experts on the subject. No doubt the eminence of the speaker or author would have had some bearing upon the degree to which you were convinced, but it would not have been your sole criterion. You will have sought the opinions of other experts, you would have weighed one against the other to see how much agreement or contradiction was apparent, in short; you would have looked for evidence.

Evidence is the foundation upon which the legal systems of sane, free countries are based. Imagine a crazy place where convictions were handed down based purely upon eyewitness say-so; I certainly wouldn’t want to live there! We long ago learned that human beings can lie and are often mistaken; police forces know that eyewitness reports are notoriously unreliable, especially when a complex series of events is involved. That is why evidence is far and away the most important part of any legal system, if the evidence is not beyond doubt, the accused will be acquitted. The key to all this, is that the burden of proof lies with the law, the accused is not obliged to prove innocence, the law must prove guilt.

Evidence controls the belief systems of rational beings, any person or so-called authority no matter who or how important, making a claim unsupported by compelling, solid evidence, will have that claim rejected by any thinking person.

It needs repeating; the onus of proof lies with those making the claim. That really means that any claim failing the evidence test is virtually worthless.

It’s worth noting that there’s a whole host of things that have no supporting evidence whatever, not even bad evidence! These follies and sundry doctrines obviously cannot be tested, they are therefore useless! The late Carl Sagan is his book The Demon Haunted World’, makes this point in the chapter entitled, ‘The Dragon In My Garage’

“‘What’s the difference?” he asks, “Between an invisible, incorporeal dragon breathing flames that can’t be seen, and no dragon at all?”

Unfortunately, we live in a world where the importance of evidence seems to be lost on most people. The media bombards us with lies, misleading advertising and diversions designed to prevent us seeing the truth. Politicians actively encourage us not to think so they can convince us in the absence of evidence, that their policies are correct.

The Iraq invasion is a perfect example of action being taken because of a claim, a claim with almost no supporting evidence, the claim was WMD, which of course, did not exist. But there’s something wrong here; either Bush and Blair are two of the dumbest politicians who ever lived (entirely possible) or they really believed that Saddam had WMD. In the first case, they’re really stupid because they didn’t even have a cover-up plan standing by for when their feeble reason was shown to be false. In the second case, they’re almost as stupid because they must have fallen for a load of bullshit spun by their lackeys and failed to look for the all-important evidence. Of course all the thinking people knew the real reason behind the invasion and even although a majority of us on both sides of the Atlantic were against the war, they went ahead anyway. Another perfect example, this time of undemocratic democracy, the people didn’t want it but the people were ignored.

History has shown that acting without evidence can have dire consequences, the WMD farce has cost thousands of lives but it won’t matter, we won’t learn any lessons from it. Iran or North Korea will be next, the political con-men are probably working on the scam right now, soon we’ll hear the tale and most will be frightened enough to fall for it. I say this because of evidence, the evidence shows that belief in nonsensical falsehood is growing, Christian fundamentalism, Islamic militancy, the New Age crap; all are examples of daft things with no supporting evidence that frightened people with dull, crappy lives are prepared to swallow.

I hope you can forgive my pessimistic stance, but I feel it’s justified.

Industry Of Deception

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 10, 2010 by 66notout

For a long time now, a multi billion-dollar/pound industry whose sole reason for existence is to dupe people into making mostly irrational financial decisions, has been growing steadily stronger. Personally, I find it difficult to imagine what it must be like to be an employee of this industry; people who spend their time bullshitting and lying their way through life at the behest and in the pay of, their corporate masters. Some people will do anything for money, I suppose.

A few of the leaders of this almost criminal enterprise are actually proud of their efforts at deception; they seem to think they’re being creative! Sadly, the reason for their continued expansion is the willingness of consumers to accept the bullshit and allow their thinking to be done for them. The great mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, once said:

“People would rather die than think, and in fact they do so.”

This seems to be even truer today that it was when he first said it and this industry of deception called advertising, depends entirely upon this fact.

Imagine a world where we the consumers decided to think for ourselves and subjected products to properly conducted testing of their claims. Take anti-wrinkle skin creams aimed at aging ladies for example; testing would prove these products ineffective in their stated role. Vendors however, could simply re-label them as “brain cream” and then they may even pass tests, because there is little doubt that’s where they’re working!

The New Dark Age?

Posted in Science on March 10, 2010 by 66notout

2300 years ago a man named Eratosthenes proved the Earth was a sphere and calculated its size to a high degree of accuracy. He did this in an age of zero technology using only sunlight and a brain unfettered by mysticism or religion. If you had strolled into the Great Library of Alexandria a few years later and asked the scholars therein if the Earth was flat, they would likely have patted you on the head and explained kindly that their buddy Eratosthenes had proved otherwise.

Now fast forward 1500 years and imagine trying to explain your findings to people in any European city, most likely you would have been forcefully told that everyone knows the Earth is flat. In addition, you would have been reported to the local religious leaders as a heretic and tortured into accepting their dogma on pain of death and eternal damnation. Such was the power that religion held over us at that time. Only a few hundred years after Eratosthenes, the mystics and religites destroyed the Great Library and burned the scrolls, almost nothing remains of what once was the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. They also murdered the female librarian Hypatia, who may have been the world’s first feminist – the Dark Ages had begun.

It seems clear then, that mysticism and religious dogma held us back and suppressed knowledge for more than 1500 years before the changes made during the Age of Enlightenment became accepted. Imagine where we would be now had the Great Library of Alexandria flourished and spread its knowledge and thirst for learning throughout the world, perhaps poverty, famine, ill-health, wars and illiteracy would be but dim memories or may have never even existed.

There is no doubt that some religious bodies in recent times have tried and succeeded in doing good, unfortunately, it’s also true that in general, religion has been the scourge of humankind and has slaughtered millions of us for no sane reason whatever.

As a matter of interest, if you’re a religious person, ask your local minister/pastor/priest or whatever to explain how Eratosthenes did his feat. If you get the answer then it’s likely that they have read about it and should therefore be ashamed of themselves, if not, then I’d bet they wouldn’t know how to do it.

In this world of charlatans, woo-woo’s, astrologers, spiritualists and religious fanatics, it’s beginning to look as if The Next Dark Age is here.

Havering Homeopaths

Posted in Humanity on March 10, 2010 by 66notout

Humankind’s worst natural enemy is the Anopheles mosquito; it carries the deadliest strain of malaria that kills more than 2 million humans a year. An increasing number of these deaths are occurring in people from Europe and the USA who visit Africa on trekking style holidays that take them through mosquito infested zones.

The general nonsensical trend towards so-called “alternative” medicines is making the problem worse. It seems that some backpacking woo-woo’s are ignoring medical advice by taking useless homeopathic placebos instead of real anti-malarial drugs.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine sent an investigator to visit several homeopaths to ask advice about malarial protection; in every case some form of homeopathic quackery was recommended; only one practitioner said that a doctor’s advice should also be sought. Despite the recent statements made in professional medical publications indicating the ineffectiveness of homeopathy, many people still cling to fallacies. They don’t appear to understand that malaria is not like catching a minor self-limiting ailment that they think was cured by homeopathy but that in fact had simply left of its own accord. Sadly, maybe that’s what it will take, a number of malarial deaths in the homeopathic woo-woo population to ram the point home.

HOMEOPATHY IS NONSENSE AND SHOWS NO EFFECT OVER PLACEBO, YOU MAY AS WELL SIP SOME WATER, WHICH IS OF COURSE, EXACTLY THE SAME THING!

The homeopaths themselves are the real danger in all this; perhaps a naïve few of these people actually believe they’re doing good but I suspect quite a few of them know they’re peddling crap and don’t care if easily-duped people die in their care.

The Meaning Of Life?

Posted in Humanity on March 9, 2010 by 66notout

Five hundred page – maybe larger – books have been written on this subject. Mine is a short simple version; there is no meaning, we individually give or take away meaning from our lives. You and I are here because our parents were an evolutionary success, that is Nature’s way, that’s all there is to it.

Of course as humans, we may feel that those simple facts are a little brutal and perhaps not worthy of such a magnificent species as us but that’s wrong; we are just primates who have gained some intelligence. Personally, the search for truth gives meaning to my life, it gets me high, I have no need for drugs, intoxicants, fairies, gods or mumbo jumbo of any kind. It doesn’t matter what you do, if it gives you a feeling of fulfillment, then you have meaning in your life.

I admit the feeling that we will probably be one of the shortest-lived species ever to inhabit the Earth, leaves me a little depressed. In fact, our demise may be as a result of our intelligence, we have learned and discovered many things in a short time but seem pathetically unable to reach the realistic level of maturity required to handle the knowledge. Many species on Earth have been here much longer than us, they are the kind of creatures we would consider among the least intelligent, reptilians, for example.

It seems clear then, that intelligence has little, if any, survival value. Perhaps that is the default condition of life in the Universe – rarely, a species evolves to intelligence and then promptly destroys itself because of distrust, national fervour or religious dogma. I harbour a glimmer of hope that we may survive our technological adolescence but sweeping changes must occur, here are just a few.

  • All organised religions must go away, they have killed millions of us already and still pose the most dangerous threat.
  • Nationalism and patriotic fervour are also dangerous, nations must go, we need to become citizens of the planet.
  • It seems obvious, but needs to be said: survival of the species needs to be the goal of each and every one of us.
  • The foolish greed that drives some of us must be suppressed, we need to ensure that all of us can reach our potential.
  • The worth of a person must be measured by what they can do that benefits humankind in general, desire for fame in a nonsensical activity is worthless.

Now, being realistic, I know that most of these things will not happen soon and a few may never come to pass, that’s why I don’t think we’ll make it. It’s highly unlikely but possible, that those younger than me will witness contact with an intelligent alien species at some future time. I’d be willing to bet that many, if not all of the characteristics above, will form part of their culture.

I will also bet that no-one in their culture will be capable of calmly sawing the head off one of his fellows whilst mindlessly chanting that god is great.

GM Anyone?

Posted in Science on March 9, 2010 by 66notout

The hubbub on GM crops seems to have abated somewhat; I hope this doesn’t mean that development is slowing down. I’m slightly fed up with seeing all that organically grown ‘natural’ produce in its obviously expensive packaging taking up space in supermarket shelves, we are being conned here folks; all this ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ nonsense is just an excuse to double the price.

Let’s examine the situation more closely.

A few thousand years ago the stuff we ate that grew in the soil was indeed natural, we wandered around tasting things, if good, we ate. Then some bright spark realised that by planting seeds, protecting young plants from weather damage and from being eaten by other creatures, we could have more of the stuff for ourselves, thus was born that very unnatural device; agriculture. Then we found ways to improve the quality and size of the produce, by various grafting and crossbreeding techniques we obtained fruits, vegetables and cereals that were much better than their ‘natural’ counterparts. All these genetic modifications became so successful and popular that we gave the process its own special name, we called it; farming.

So, now we’re aware that we’ve been GM’ing for at least two thousand years, why not continue? Nothing really bad has happened that can be blamed on a farmed crop, I can’t recall anyone being raped by a perverted potato or murdered by some strawberry strangler! GM crops will be developed; get used to the idea; economics alone will ensure it happens. There’s nothing inherently wrong with modifying something, we just need to be sure that good modifications are made, if we follow this simple plan we’ll have no worries about some triffid-like ambulatory foliage having its planty way with us! Taste will be all-important of course, but given that, which would you rather have? A sorry-ass ‘organic’ spud that’s riddled with screwworm holes and costs a fortune, or a beautiful blemish-free potato that on command, peels itself (thinly of course) then jumps automatically into the cooking vessel of your choice?

I’ve made up my mind!