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Science : Implicitly Bound To Facts Beyond Suspicion?

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

“A powerful riposte to atheist mockery and cocksure science, and to the sort of philosophy that surrenders to them. David Berlinski proceeds reasonably and calmly to challenge recent scientific theorizing and to expose the unreason from which it presumes to criticize religion.”
—Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University

Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement–one that now includes much of the scientific community.

“The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.”

A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community’s cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on.

Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated.

This book explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it can be–indeed must be–the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world and ourselves.

David Berlinski is an American educator and author of several books on mathematics. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He has authored works on systems analysis, differential topology, theoretical biology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics, as well as three novels. He has also taught philosophy, mathematics and English at Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York and the Université de Paris. In addition, he has held research fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques.

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Israel’s minimal defensible borders in any future agreement

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Israel, in any future agreement with its neighbours, has a critical need for defensible borders. This video outlines the threats to Israel from terrorist rockets, ballistic missiles, and conventional ground and air threats from the east.

In light of a widening range of threats to Israel’s security, for the first time a group of senior Israeli generals has come together to outline the basic principles of a defence policy – rooted in a consensus spanning past and present Israeli governments – which is focused on Israel maintaining defensible borders. The crisis over the Hamas flotilla to Gaza illustrates how some of Israel’s critical alliances in the Middle East are changing, especially its relationship with Turkey, and the importance of designing a defence policy that takes into account the uncertainties that Israel faces with many of its neighbours. Recent events only underscore that it is critical for Israel to preserve the principle of defending itself by itself.

Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport is only 6 miles from the West Bank, putting it into range for indirect fire, explains Vice Admiral Brian Peterman, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.) and even shoulder-fired missiles can bring down an airplane.

Download executive summary PDF
Download the full study PDF
(4Mb)

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“My Genes Made Me Do It”

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

My Genes Made Me Do It, Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence shows homosexuality is not inborn or biologically innate and that sexual orientation naturally undergoes huge change.

The book argues for a roughly 10%/90% nature/nurture effect in homosexuality while asserting that any genetic effect is very indirect eg: any physical characteristic making a person feel gender-atypical. The book shows that homosexual orientation is not biologically driven or fixed but that change toward heterosexuality frequently occurs naturally without any therapeutic interventions. It contains arguments not found elsewhere. Using orthodox science and summarising over 10,000 scientific publications and papers, it is nevertheless very accessible to the average reader.

The book is available for free (or to purchase) online at http://mygenes.co.nz

Contents:

Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1. Can genes create sexual preferences?
Chapter 2. The genetic implications of SSA population percentage
Chapter 3. Are heterosexuals born that way?
Chapter 4. How strong are our instincts?
Chapter 5. What produces the sexual identity of intersexes?
Chapter 6. What do different cultures tell us about homosexuality?
Chapter 7. Pre-natal hormones? Stress? Immune attack?
Chapter 8. Are brains gay?
Chapter 9. The “discovery” of the “gay gene”
Chapter 10. Twin Studies: the strongest evidence
Chapter 11. Path Analysis – social factors do lead to homosexuality?
Chapter 12. Can sexual orientation change?
Summary
Index

Categories: Culture, Deception, Science

TV & Children…!

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Never before in parenting history has there been entire product ranges (and channels) available to make television-watching more ‘appropriate’ for children, as young as three months old. Surely, if I am letting my baby watch a dvd that was specifically designed for him, it’s ok? Surely, television is as beneficial for our children as it is for us?

The simple and honest answer is “No”. Television is not good for babies or young children at all. It doesn’t matter what’s on, even if it’s a special dvd you spent your hard-earned money on. A whole series of scientific research projects confirms this for us. Sorry folks, that’s the ugly truth.

What do the scientists say?

The University of Washington studied more than 1000 families and reported that for every hour that infants of 8 – 16 months watched dvds such as “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby”, they understood 6-8 fewer words than other babies who were not exposed to such dvds (Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children under Age 2 years – The Journal of Pediatrics, V151, Issue 4, Pgs 364-368). Interestingly, Disney, who own Baby Einstein, is now offering refunds to disgruntled US parents.

A study from Seattle examined more than 2500 children younger than 36 months, and found that for every hour of television watched daily, the risk of attention problems at age seven increased nearly 10 percent. They were more likely to be confused, impulsive, restless or obsessive about things in their lives – the problems were similar to symptoms of ADHD. (Attention-Deficit Risk Linked to Young Kids’ TV Time, Seattle Times, 5 April 2004)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV before the age of two years and that children over two years be limited to one to two hours per day of educational material on TV. (Eh-Oh! Pediatricians Ban TV for Toddlers, David Burke www.whitedot.org)

In August 2009, France’s broadcasting authority banned the airing of TV shows aimed at children under three, after French psychologists found that: “Television viewing hurts the development of children under three years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration, as well as dependence on screens.” (France Pulls Plug on TV Shows Aimed at Babies, CBC News, Wed Aug 20 2008)

Why does television have such a negative effect on children during the early years?

As adults, we can watch something on television and give it meaning – this is primarily because our brains are already wired. We have real life experiences behind us, we understand language and we have a frame of reference to draw from.

Young children, however, are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of television because a young child’s brain is being wired at a rate of half a million brain cell connections per second…(The Baby Brain-Drain, The Times, 1 Nov 2007, Dr Miriam Stoppard). The experiences that your child is having is literally shaping his brain, and the more often he uses certain pathways, the more ‘hardwired’ those neural pathways become.

Young children simply stare at the rapidly changing scenes and take in the noises without any understanding whatsoever. We know this for a fact because scientists using Positron Imaging Technology can see inside a young child’s brain when they’re watching television. They have discovered that only the visual and listening areas of the child’s brain is stimulated, while the areas of the brain used for communicating, learning, thinking, memorising, expressing personality and fine tuning social behaviour remain inactive and completely un-stimulated during television-time.

In stark contrast, when a parent reads to a child and plays various games with him, his brain lights up like a Christmas tree as links are rapidly formed between all the regions of the brain. For example, when you show your child a picture of a dog and explain how the dog jumps and barks, he has to use various parts of his brain to form a mental picture of this through his imagination – when he watches television, the work of understanding and imagining is literally stolen away from his young developing brain, and along with that, the brain development that could’ve taken place is also snatched away. This arguably makes television one of the greatest and most silent thieves in the modern child’s world.

Reading and interacting with your child gives him language (scientific research proves that spoken language on TV is just ‘white noise’ for your child, without any meaning). In addition, when you’re interacting with your child you can read his emotions and respond appropriately, giving a little more attention to an area he doesn’t quite understand or laughing at the parts that he finds amusing (television cannot do this).

As adults, we often use television as a relaxation tool, ‘spacing out’ in front of our television sets after a stressful or busy day, and many adults find that it helps them to fall asleep. For young children, the rapidly changing scenes and noise is so mesmerising, it can actually be equated to ‘baby crack cocaine’.

Watching television literally rewires a child’s brain during the early years – the result is a child whose brain is so used to side-stepping the language and thinking areas that it becomes the default setting of that child’s brain to react to information without understanding – not only when they’re watching television, but in the real world as well.

The result is child who literally looks without ‘seeing’ and hears without ‘listening’.

OK – so what if your child has already been exposed to large amounts of television?

As quoted by a writer for The Times, Dr Martin Ward-Platt believes, “of course, the thing that really makes a difference for a baby is interaction with a caregiver and there is nothing we can invent as a people substitute. But if a child watches some TV and is exposed to people for the rest of the time, they will do fine. What we don’t know is where the limit is, where you start to hold children back.”

In real life, if you have a strong immune system, your body can fight off small viral attacks, and if you exercise everyday you can indulge in that piece of chocolate cake without fear of putting on too much weight. Similarly, if your baby receives large amounts of loving one-on-one interaction and stimulation from the important people in her life, her brain will be more densely wired and therefore will be more resilient to the impact of short periods of television watching.

As a parent I didn’t understand the effects of television on my young baby, and knowing what I know now, I will make wiser choices. If you enjoy some ‘me-time’ or a cup of coffee while your young child is watching television in the morning or evening, it is not the end of the world. As long as you don’t for one second believe it is actually good for them in any way. Keep in mind that you need to ensure a healthy balance by giving your young child as much individual attention as possible, whenever you can. We literally have to counter-act the negative effects of television-viewing with the positive effects of large amounts of one-on-one interaction.

This is a copy of the article originally posted at http://practicaprogram.blogspot.com/2010/10/television-great-thief.html

 

Categories: Culture, Science

Child Brides Worldwide

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

There is no need for commentary. The pictures & videos tell this story…

Mass Marriage in Gaza:

Debate on child marriage in Yemen:

Extracts from two videos below:

Pro-Hamas Broadcast:

Non-translated video footage:

Categories: Culture, Deception, News
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