Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Children Full of Life (documentary)

Mr. Kanamori, a teacher of a 4th grade class, teaches his students not only how to be students, but how to live. He gives them lessons on teamwork, community, the importance of openness, how to cope, and the harm caused by bullying.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The History of the Devil

The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking

Music: "Natural Selection" - Baba Brinkman

So what-ch-you know about Natural Selection? Go ahead
And ask a question and see where the answer gets you
Try bein’ passive aggressive or try smashin’ heads in
And see which tactic brings your plans to fruition
And if you have an explanation in mind, then you’re
Wastin’ your time, ‘cause the best watchmaker is blind
It takes a certain base kind of impatient mind
To explain away nature with “intelligent design”
But the truth shall set you free
From those useless superstitious beliefs
In a literal Adam and Eve, and that Edenic myth
‘Cause their family tree is showin’ some genetic drift
Take it from this bald-headed non-celibate monk
With the lyrical equivalent of an elephant’s trunk
It’s time to elevate your mind-state
And celebrate your kinship with the primates

The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on?
We lived in the dark for so long
The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on
Creationism is dead wrong

Okay, it’s time to reveal my identity
I’m the manifestation of tens of millions
Of centuries of sexual selection, best believe
I’m the best of the best of the best of the best
Of generations of competitive pressure genetically
But don’t get upset, ‘cause we’ve got the same pedigree
You and I will find a common ancestor eventually
If we rewind geological time regressively
And I could say the same for this hibiscus tree
And this lizard and this flea and this sesame seed
And if you still disbelieve in what your senses perceive
Then I could even use this rhyme as a remedy
‘Cause there’s so much variation in the styles in this industry
And differential survival when the people listening
Decide what they’re into and what really isn’t interesting
You could thrive like Timberlake on a Timberland beat
Or go extinct like Vanilla Ice and N’Sync
It’s survival of the fittest, but fitness is a tricky thing
It changes from place to place and from winter to spring
But the real question in this social-scientific simile
Is heredity, whether we inherit our techniques
From our predecessors, or invent them independently
But then we’re talkin’ memes and that’s a different thing
Richard Dawkins can I get a proper definition please?

The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on?
We lived in the dark for so long
The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on
Creationism is dead wrong
The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on?
Whoever leaves the most spawn
The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on
Creationism is erroneous

I hear some people complain, like “I don’t wanna be an ape!
I never came from monkey DNA!
I believe God made me in a day – Jesus saves!”
Yeah, he’s great, but stop bein’ afraid
To use the reason “he” gave you to let science solve
Some giant problems and find some final results
I think it’s time for y’all to let your minds evolve
And listen to a different kind of silent call
The kind that comes from pine trees and not Pinesol
I’m talkin’ about the mystical vision that Einstein saw
Wondering at the infinite depth of divine thought
And realizing that scripture can never define God
‘Cause if there is a personal God, then he’s been jerkin’ off
So why would he bother designing an albatross
Especially when natural selection does such an excellent job
Just by balancing benefits and costs?
I say banish God into the gaps
If he can’t help us understand the simplest facts
I want a relaxed God of infinite naps
We’ll be all right without him, just give us a chance

The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on
We lived in the dark for so long
The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on
Creationism is dead wrong

(Listen to the whole album here: The Rap Guide to Evolution)

Music: "I'm a African" - Baba Brinkman

I’m a African, I’m a African
And I know what’s happenin’
I’m a African, I’m a African
Archaeologists know what’s happenin’
You a African? You a African?
Do you know what’s happenin’?
I’m a African, I’m a African
Geneticists know what’s happenin’

No I wasn’t born in Ghana but Africa is my mama
‘Cause that’s where my mama got her mitochondria
You can try to fight if you wanna, but it’s not gonna change me
‘Cause it’s plain to see, Africans are my people
And if it’s not plain to see then your eyes deceive you
I’m talkin’ primeval; the DNA in my veins
Tells a story that reasonable people find believable
But it might even blow your transistors;
Africa is the home of our most recent common ancestors
Which means human beings are all brothers and sisters
So check the massive evidence of Homo erectus
And Australopithecus afarensis in the fossil record
And then try to tell me that we’re not all connected
The fossil record has gaps but no contradictions
And it complements the evidence in your chromosomes
So I came to let you know about your ancestral home

Chorus x1

Yeah, it’s plain to see, you can’t change me
‘Cause I’ma be a Homo sapien for life
Yeah, it’s plain to see, you can’t change me
‘Cause I’ma be a Homo sapien for life

Yeah, the red is for the blood in my arm – it runs in the veins
Of all my cousins from the same African mom
And the black is for the melanin, which I guess I lost
A mutation with benefits that offset the costs
At least in the North, after massive glaciation
My family passed through some adaptive radiations
We started as Africans, and then became Eurasians
And then one final migration made us Canadians
But it’s back to my origin, ‘cause I understand
For every colour of man, Africa is the motherland
So I’m comin’ back, that’s my right of return
I’m only speakin’ the facts, which I invite you to learn
We came from Africa first; Charles Darwin predicted it
‘Cause that’s where modern chimps and gorillas live
So the green is for the envy in the eyes of intelligent design
Advocates and scientific illiterates

Chorus x1

Music: "Scientific Method" - Mr. Lee

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Grace

Let us take a moment to think about where the food we are about to enjoy has come from and to acknowledge those who worked to bring us this food. Let us appreciate the earth, the sun, the air, and the water needed to nourish the plants and animals. Let us thank the farmer who cared for the plants and animals and the migrant worker who toiled to harvest the crops. Let us thank the laborer who processed the food, the truck driver who brought the food, and the grocery store workers who displayed it. Finally, let us thank our friends who prepared this meal and have provided us with the opportunity to be together and share each other's company.

Silverman, H. (2010, 25. Nov.). A secular Thanksgiving. The Washington Post.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Music: "White Wine in the Sun" by Tim Minchin

I really like Christmas. It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it. I am hardly religious. I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest. And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism, to the commercialization of an ancient religion, to the westernization of a dead Palestinian press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer. But I still really like it.

I'm looking forward to Christmas, though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus. I'll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum; they'll be drinking white wine in the sun. I'll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum; they'll be drinking white wine in the sun.

I don't go in for ancient wisdom. I don't believe just 'cos ideas are tenacious it means that they’re worthy. I get freaked out by churches, some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy. And yes I have all of the usual objections to the miseducation of children who, in tax-exempt institutions, are taught to externalize blame, and to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right or wrong. But I quite like the songs.

I'm not expecting big presents. The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate is just fine by me. Cos I'll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum; they'll be drinking white wine in the sun. I'll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum; they'll be drinking white wine in the sun.

And you, my baby girl, my jetlagged infant daughter. You'll be handed round the room, like a puppy at a primary school. And you won't understand, but you will learn someday. That wherever you are and whatever you face, these are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world. My sweet blue-eyed girl.

And if, my baby girl, when you're twenty-one or thirty-one and Christmas comes around, and you find yourself nine thousand miles from home, you'll know what ever comes…your brother and sisters and me and your Mum, will be waiting for you in the sun. Whenever you come, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles, your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum, we'll be waiting for you in the sun, drinking white wine in the sun. Darling, when Christmas comes, we'll be waiting for you in the sun, drinking white wine in the sun. Waiting for you in the sun. Waiting for you...waiting...

I really like Christmas. It's sentimental, I know...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why Call Him God? (The Thinking Atheist)

Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech (1/3)

The Atheism Tapes

Jonathan Miller interviews intellectuals about religion and faith.

Extraordinary People: The Million Dollar Mind Reader (1/5)

Derek Ogilvie says he can read the minds of infants who are too young to communicate verbally. Now he agrees to undergo a series of controlled experiments to test the limits of his alleged abilities. He even faces the ultimate sceptic in the form of James Randi, an investigator of the paranormal who has offered $1million to anyone who can provide evidence of the supernatural.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose?

Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins VS Rabbi David Wolpe, William Lane Craig, Douglas Geivett

Monday, November 15, 2010

Philosophy 4 Children

Philosophy can be defined as the study of general and fundamental problems, by thinking critically and systematically and engaging in rational argumentation. All students can benefit from philosophy, so there is just no good reason why they should not be taught it.

How to Teach Philosophy

Students should not read books or listen to lectures; rather they should be motivated to engage themselves in debate about topics and ideas that concern them and they think are worthwhile pursuing. Philosophy taps children's natural curiosity and sense of wonder. The subject matter is common and central concepts that underpin both our experience of human life and all academic disciplines, such as: truth, knowledge, right, wrong, bad, good, justice, fairness, etc. Topics and ideas for discussion can be found in books, movies, on the Internet or other sources.

Community of Inquiry

Students should work together to generate and then answer their own questions about an issue; it is a community of inquiry. In this community, as all participants share their own ideas and arguments, each individual student must consider many different opinions and perspectives. The students become accustomed to asking each others for reasons and opinions, listening carefully to each other, and build on each others' ideas. This encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning process and develop as independent thinkers. They develop confidence and courage to put forward their own views and arguments in a group.

Between Absolutism and Relativism

The discussion should be aimed at constructing the most reasonable and defensible answer(s) to the question(s). Answers are not provided or validated by the teacher. The teachers' role is to develop and challenge the students thinking. The students have the responsibility for both constructing and evaluation the range of possible responses to a question. Even if final answers are not obtained, students will find out that some answers are more reasonable and defensible than others. The rigorous nature of the inquiry, and the emphasis on assessing reasons for positions, means that, in practice, the students are very unlikely to come to the conclusion that “anything goes”. In addition, students will create a stable set of core intellectual and ethical values which have withstood the test of careful evaluation.

The Benefits

Philosophy engages children in a search for meaning, extends their understanding, strengthens thinking skills, and builds self-esteem. They improve their communication skills and their abilities to work with others.

Thinking Skills:

• Analyzing concepts and clarifying ideas
• Constructing and evaluating arguments
• Deductive and inductive logic
• Identifying fallacies
• Identifying underlying suppositions and assumptions
• Finding examples and counter examples
• Formulating and testing criteria
• Seeing broader perspectives and fundamental principles
• Seeing connections and recognizing implications
• Testing ideas with thought experiments

Intellectual Values:

• Confidence and Courage
• Curiosity, Open-mindedness and Skepticism
• Integrity and Consistency
• Offer and Accept Constructive Criticism
• Truth and Honesty

Ethical Values

In the community of inquiry requires and develops a range of values that are essential to participation in a society, in which there exists a plurality of democratic values, including: tolerance, openness, and co-operation.

Transferable Skills and Values

Thinking skills and values are transferable. They enable students to make bridges between various things they learn, thus making the curriculum more meaningful and therefore more exiting. This will increase their motivation and liking for intellectual work. Both thinking skills and values will improve social interaction and responsibility.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Great Debate Panel (6.11.2010)

A lively panel discussion between Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Patricia Churchland, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, Peter Singer. If human morality is an evolutionary adaptation and if neuroscientists can identify specific brain circuitry governing moral judgment, can scientists determine what is, in fact, right and wrong?

It Does Not Interest Me…I Want to Know…

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love. If you fail at something, will you come back and try again and not give up easily? I want to know if you have been opened by betrayals and sorrows, or closed down from fear of further pain. Do you pick yourself up when you have been knocked down? I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, stubbornly carry on and keep your head up.

It doesn't interest me what the color of your skin is, or if you are skinny or fat. I want to know what is on the inside, your personality, your virtues and vices. Are you a moral person with principles and values? I want to know if you live a self-examined life. Do you know yourself and are you in touch with your own feelings? I want to know if you have integrity and a healthy love of your “self”. Can you tackle personal criticism and not let it get you down?

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know if you are willing to change your opinions in light of evidence and sound arguments. Are you skeptical and open minded? I want to know if you have passionately pursued wisdom. Are you curious about the universe and our place in it? Do you value truth more than comforting beliefs?

It doesn't interest me which religion you adhere to. I want to know if you can take the good without the bad and if you are tolerant. Will you defend the universal rights to freedom of belief, conscience, practice and speech? I want to know if you have the courage to stand up to any black sheep in your own house. And, will you do what is right for the children and let them choose their own paths?

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living, what you own, or how much money you have. I want to know if you have found your purpose. What are your goals and dreams? What do you desire most of all? I want to know if you are a spiritual person: if you got your mind on “higher” things, and is passionately devoted to a belief about the meaning of life and the path to the collective happiness of the human race.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how many friends you have. I want to know if you are compassionate. Will you fight evil wherever and whenever you see it manifests itself, and struggle to make this world a better place for all of humanity? I want to know if you can die tomorrow, but say today that you did your best with what you had and be content, with no regrets.

(This was inspired by, “The Invitation” by Oriah)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Compassion is love of humanity, and one of the greatest of all virtues.

Compassion is more powerful and more extensive than empathy and kindness. Compassion is the capacity to feel both empathy and sympathy, coupled with the realization that all human beings wish and desire to be free from suffering and shielded from harm.

Compassion is an active desire that others be free from suffering, to alleviate their suffering and to shield them from harm. Compassion moves a person to destroy the causes of harm and suffering. A compassionate person shelters and embraces the distressed and the victim.

Compassion is often, but not necessarily, the key component of altruism. The Golden Rule embodies the principle of compassion. True compassion extends to all human beings; it knows no limit.

There are two main reasons to be compassionate: First, to protect fellow human beings from or help them to escape suffering and harm; and second, if you want to experience genuine happiness then you should value compassion and act compassionately.

Without compassion our world would be a dark place without much meaning. Therefore, compassion should be praised and rewarded whenever and wherever we see it manifest itself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Spiritual experiences are a subset of ordinary psychological experiences. All spiritual experiences are of the same core nature, and are molded and interpreted by the subject, in light of his or her personal worldview. This explains reports of spiritual experiences in all of the world’s religions; it cannot be explained by supposing that only one religion is true. Thus, “being spiritual” does not entail being religious and “spirituality” do not entail religion or anything supernatural. Therefore, spiritual experience in itself cannot be taken as proof of any specific worldview.

A spiritual experience is a combination of the sensation of inner peace, awe and enlightenment, which culminates in a reverence for nature and life, and sincere self-reflection about the cosmos and oneself.

A spiritual person is someone who lives a self-examined life and has his mind on “higher” things, not obsessed with property or personal gain, but is passionately devoted to a belief about the meaning of life and the path to human happiness.

Spiritual experiences are potentially beneficial, contributing to the quality of human life and they often produce emotional harmony and contentment, clarity of thought and perspective. Spiritual experience leads to and reinforces the spiritual lifestyle.

There are several paths to spirituality. First, meditation can be a path to spiritual enlightenment and ought to be mastered by all. It can have beneficial effects on self-understanding and health. Second, an appreciation of science can be a path to spiritual awakening: by taking in the awe of nature and the complexity of the cosmos, can give a spiritual awakening, a profound reverence and amazement in the face of breathtaking beauty and the immense powers of the nature.

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual" – Carl Sagan

Any devoted and true philosopher is a spiritual person who has spiritual experiences.

Richard Carrier – Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meningen med Livet

Våre liv er ikke meningsløse eller verdiløse fordi vi en gang vil dø. Alt vi finner meningsfullt og verdifullt i vårt liv, våre erfaringer, varer ikke evig. Det er ikke meningsløst å høre på en sang fordi den en gang vil slutte. Det gjør ikke noe at livet er kort; selve muligheten er den største gaven: vi bor på en vakker planet i et fascinerende solsystem i et mystisk univers, og vi har muligheten til å erfare det, studere det, erkjenne det, og elske det.

Mening finner vi ikke bare i vår eksistens her og nå, men også i våre håp og drømmer for fremtiden, både vår egen og medmenneskers, deriblant våre barns. Meningen med livet er et sunt sinn i en sunn kropp, som søker og manifesterer det den kan elske dypes.

Kjærlighet er nøkkelordet. Hva er verdt å elske? Visdom og Skjønnhet. Pennens makt og fornuftens styrke. Menneskehetens potensial og medmenneskers godhet. Tenk på hvor mange vidunderlige personer vi kjenner, som er verdt å elske, kun på grunn av det faktum at vi skulle ønske det var flere av dem i verden, fordi de gir oss en grunn til å leve, de gjør våre liv mer meningsfulle og verdifulle.

Meningen med livet er å skape en bedre verden for alle sammen. Dette formålet er knyttet til moral. Du bør alltid handle slik at du ikke bare tenker på din egen lykke, men også maksimere andres. Kun en person som er moralsk kan oppleve autentisk lykke. Universet er ikke-intelligent, ikke-empatisk. Det bryr seg ikke om vår velferd, lykke eller helse, fordi det ikke kan. Vi må være godheten i universet. Det eneste nødvendig for at ondskap florerer, er at gode menneske ikke bekjemper den. Derfor bør vi beskytte dem vi elsker fra lidelse, ved å gjøre det rette.

Ved å bidra til å skape en bedre verden gir vi en gave til utallige medmennesker som vil leve etter vi er borte. Vi kan gjøre universet litt lysere gjennom våre handlinger. Så hvis vi synes det er for mye ondskap i verden, bør vi gjøre noe med det. Og det gir våre liv mening. Ved å gjøre verden litt bedre og mer meningsfull, får vi selv mening og verdi i våre liv.

"Accept a life of reason, a life of love for science, truth and humanity...Seek to live your life by the true humanistic ideals of compassion and integrity...And help us work toward a better future for all of humanity" - Richard Carrier

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Poetry of Science: Dawkins & Tyson

Two of science's luminaries converse on the beauty of science. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of NOVA and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins will explore the wonders of the Cosmos and of Life, its origins, its inspirations, and why science is not just an option, it is the only reality we possess.

'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

Lawrence Krauss gives a talk on our current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing. Krauss is the author of many bestselling books on Physics and Cosmology, including "The Physics of Star Trek."

It Gets Better: DOs and DON'Ts for Parents

Neuroscience and Free Will

Marcus Du Sautoy (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and current Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science) participates in an experiment conducted by John-Dylan Haynes (Professor at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin) that attempts to find the neurological basis for decision making.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anniversary Isaac Asimov Debate: Is Earth Unique?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts and moderates a panel discussion dedicated to the question "Is Earth Unique?" Panelists are selected for their diverse expertise in geology, biology, chemistry, and physics and for the ways they have applied these fields to address the past, present, and future of planet Earth.

It Gets Better Project

It Gets Better is an online video channel founded by Dan Savage in September 2010, in response to the suicide of Billy Lucas and a number of other teenagers who were bullied because they were gay or their peers suspected that they were gay.

Its goal is to prevent suicide among LGBT youth by having gay adults convey the message that these teens' lives will improve. Savage wrote, about the founding of the project, "I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better."

Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."


Dan and Terry

Joel Burns

DOs and DON'Ts for Parents

President Barack Obama

Two Mothers


- Wikipedia

- YouTube

- Facebook

It Gets Better: Joel Burns

“The attitudes of society will change. Please live long enough to be here to see it.” - Joel Burns

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Music: "Changes" by 2Pac

Come on come on
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
is life worth living should I blast myself?
I'm tired of bein' poor & even worse I'm black
my stomach hurts so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
pull the trigger kill a nigga he's a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
one less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship 'em dope & let 'em deal the brothers
give 'em guns step back watch 'em kill each other
It's time to fight back that's what Huey said
2 shots in the dark now Huey's dead
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin' changes
learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers
and that's how it's supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me?
I'd love to go back to when we played as kids
but things changed, and that's the way it is

Come on come on
That's just the way it is
Things'll never be the same
That's just the way it is
aww yeah

I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let's erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they'll be acting right
'cause both black and white is smokin' crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain't a secret don't conceal the fact
the penitentiary's packed, and it's filled with blacks
But some things will never change
try to show another way but you stayin' in the dope game
Now tell me what's a mother to do
bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
"I made a G today" But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin' crack to the kid. " I gotta get paid,"
Well hey, well that's the way it is


We gotta make a change...
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes.
Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
and let's change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.

And still I see no changes can't a brother get a little peace
It's war on the streets & the war in the Middle East
Instead of war on poverty they got a war on drugs
so the police can bother me
And I ain't never did a crime I ain't have to do
But now I'm back with the facts givin' it back to you
Don't let 'em jack you up, back you up,
crack you up and pimp smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own
they get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone
But tell the cops they can't touch this
I don't trust this when they try to rush I bust this
That's the sound of my tool you say it ain't cool
my mama didn't raise no fool
And as long as I stay black I gotta stay strapped
& I never get to lay back
'Cause I always got to worry 'bout the pay backs
some punk that I roughed up way back
comin' back after all these years
rat-tat-tat-tat-tat that's the way it is uhh


Friday, October 8, 2010


Numbers are words invented by humans to stand for any occurrence of a pattern of discrete things. “Two” is a word for any occurrence of a pattern of two discrete things. Thus, the only thing required for it to exist is any two distinguishable things, and wherever that pattern is repeated we can say a “twoness” exists there. And for the number to exist “in the abstract” it is required that there be a potential – real or imagined – for two discrete thing of any sort to exist. “Two” means something like "the pattern of two distinguishable things", and to say that it “exists” is to say that this pattern is manifest in the world.

Carrier, R. (2005). Sense and Goodness without God

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Sound of Science (music)

Hello Darwin, my old friend
I’ve come to read from you again.
You comfort me when I grow weary
of people saying “it’s just a theory”.
Because a theory is a system of abstractions in our finite minds
of laws behind
the things we find with science.

And on the internet I saw
a billion people, maybe more
people clinging to old delusions
people jumping to conclusions
people holding superstitions that are obviously quite absurd
who’d never heard
a single word of science.

How do you think a doctor knows
how a disease like cancer grows?
How did we learn how we might treat it?
How do you think one day we might beat it?
It won’t be by taking sugar pills or standing on one leg for hours
while eating flowers
but through the power of science.

If you have answers and you are sure
they’re better than what came before
make your hypothesis and test it
Take the results that you have collected
then you write them in a paper and submit for peer review.
That’s what we do
to check it’s truly science.

And the people stood and prayed
they said “our faith cannot be swayed”.
They have their views and they won’t move them.
They have their “truths” and won’t prove them.
Take’ll the word of the prophets over fossils that were really found
beneath the ground.
They don’t like the sound of science.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Secrets of Scientology (BBC Panorama)

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Protect Dissent: "In the Cards"

This video was submitted as part of the Center for Inquiry's Campaign for Free Expression Video Contest, and won.

Music: "Fuck You Very Much" by Lily Allen

[Verse 1]
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
Then look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbor

So you say it's not okay to be gay
Well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

[Verse 2]
Do you get, do you get a little kick
Out of being small minded?
You want to be like your father
It's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it

Do you, do you really enjoy
Living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control a bit
And it's really distasteful


[Verse 3]
You say you think we need to go to war
Well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bang Goes The Theory: Richard Dawkins on Eye Evolution

Beyond Belief: Explorations in the Paranormal

Journalism: Rights and Responsibilities

On the morning of July 7, 2005, three bombs exploded on three London Underground trains, and a fourth exploded an hour later on a double-decker bus. 52 people were killed and around 700 were injured.

Six hours after the terror-attack, BBC counted more than 1,000 photographs, 20 video clips, 4,000 text messages, and 20,000 e-mails – all sent in by citizens. New technology had enabled citizens to be players in the news and become partners of the media in a time of crisis.

Director of the news division, Richard Sambrook, wrote:
As we open up to contributions from the public, we must do so in a way that is consistent with our editorial values. However, I believe that truth, accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion are strengthened by being open to a wider range of opinion and perspective, brought to us through the knowledge and understanding of our audience.

Rights and Responsibilities

What should we as citizens expect from journalists and news organizations? And, what should we do if we believe we are not getting it? The elements of journalism are a citizens’ bill of rights as much as they are journalist’s bill of responsibilities.

Citizens should expect journalists to be aware of our basic dilemma: we have a need for knowledge of important issues in our community, but we lack the means to access most of this information.

Truth: Citizens should expect that newspeople pursue the truth.

Loyalty: Citizens should expect newspeople to serve the interests of the people.

Monitoring: Citizens should expect newspeople to monitor the most important institutions and centers of power, and focus resources on the major issues.

Forum: Citizens should expect newspeople to create several channels through which they may interact with them (e.g. e-mail) and other concerned citizens (e.g. chat room).

Proportionality: Citizens should expect the news to reflect the true nature of threats to their community, as well as those aspects of that are functioning well, so that they can make sound and well-informed decisions about the issues that touch their lives.

Citizens have a responsibility to set aside their prejudice and judge the work of journalists on the basis of whether it contributes to their ability to take an informed part in shaping their society

Citizens have an obligation to approach the news with an open mind and not just a desire that the news reinforce existing opinion, but be willing to accept new facts and examine new points of view. Citizens should help journalists if they can, so that important news can see the light of day. Citizens have a responsibility to show up at the public forum and be active.

The marketplace fails if we as citizens are passive, willing to put up with a diminishing product. News should not only engage us but also challenge us and make us think

What do we do if our rights are not met? We should contact the relevant news organization or journalist and tell them our thoughts. But, any criticism should be constructive, as advice or information, rather than condemnation. Also, praise are in order if journalists or news organizations does something good.

Journalists and news organizations should listen and engage in dialogue. So, if the complaint is ignored, it should be offered again through more than one means and other citizens be made aware of it. If the criticism is still being ignored, then withhold your business: drop the subscription or stop watching. Write a clear explanation of why you have done so and send it to the editor and media critics, and make it public any way you can.

Kovach, B. & Rosenstiel, T. (2007). The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How One Man Defeated the Entire Ku Klux Klan

Wade Watts (1919–1998) was an African American gospel preacher and civil rights activist. He served as the state president of the Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP for sixteen years, challenging the Ku Klux Klan through Christian love doctrine.

When Clary renounced the KKK, he and Watts became close friends!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Journalism: The Pursuit of Truth

A few days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the new President, Lyndon Johnson, sent for the Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to gather information on the status of the Vietnam War. McNamara flew to Saigon and talked to generals and touring various battle zones. Afterwards, he held two press conferences and reported the he was greatly encouraged: progress was noteworthy; South Vietnamese forces were taking a greater role and Viet Cong casualties were increasing.

Eight years later, the press published a secret government-written history about what the government knew and thought about the Vietnam War – The Pentagon Papers. They knew that things were going to hell, and it was a complete repudiation of everything McNamara had said. What might have happened had the truth emerged in 1963, instead of 1971?

In the first hours of an event, when being accurate is most difficult, accuracy is most important. This is the time that public attitudes are formed. Is it a threat to me? Is it good for me? Is it something I should be concerned about? The answer to these questions determines how carefully we follow a new event and how critical we reflect upon the information we are presented.

This is also the time in which the government can exercise its greatest control over the public mind. If given a couple of days without challenge, the government will have set the context for an event and can control public perception of that event. But if challenged, the news can be a powerful weapon against oppression and manipulation.

Journalism’s first obligation is to the Truth

The earliest journalists – messengers in preliterate societies – were expected to recall matters accurately. Often the news these messengers carried was a matter of survival, e.g., leaders needed information about whether a rival tribe might attack them and how many warriors they have.

Journalists should pursue the truth. Since news is the material that people use to learn and think about the world, the most important quality is that it is useful and reliable. If the news is incorrect, then it is no longer conductive to the collective happiness of the people and the health of the society. No sensationalism. No invention. No propaganda. No distortions. Just accurately bringing to light facts and construct an honest and reliable picture of reality, upon which people can act. Journalism is after a functional form of truth, on which we can operate on a day-to-day basis.

Once they have verified the facts, reporters try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. They try to provide the best obtainable version of the truth. They attempt to get at the truth in a confused world by first stripping information of any attached misinformation, disinformation, or self-promoting bias. Accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built: context, interpretation, debate. If the foundation is faulty, then everything else is flawed. One of the dangers with many programs, radio shows, tabloids, blogs, etc. is that they are not really concerned about the truth, as much as to control, to influence, to moralize and/or to gain power and money.

Between Relativism and Absolutism

Journalists may never see and present the truth, but some of them will come closer than others, be more objective and more honest. We can still tell when someone has come closer to a true picture of reality, when the research is exhaustive, the interpretation is logical, the methods are transparent.

The concept of truth is controversial. We can never be certain that we have obtained the truth. The notion of absolute truth is a delusion. The truth is an ideal and a goal that we pursue and value, but will probably never fully obtain.

This does not mean that all is relative. Some claims are clearly more correct than others, and the success of the sciences picture of the nature of the universe, shows us that there is still possible to talk about knowledge. There is a large difference the claim "I got clothes in my closet", and the claim "I got a time-machine". The first is not only possible, but very likely, given our background knowledge about closets and clothes. The second is not impossible, but highly unlikely, given that there has been no previous report about successful construction of a time-machine. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary skepticism and extraordinary evidence.

“We strive for coverage that aims as much as possible to present the reader with enough information to make up his or her own mind” – Bill Keller

Music: "Keep Your Head Up" by 2Pac

[Verse 1]
Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots
I give a holler to my sisters on welfare
Tupac cares, if don't nobody else care
And uhh, I know they like to beat ya down a lot
When you come around the block brothas clown a lot
But please don't cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don't forget, girl keep your head up
And when he tells you you ain't nuttin don't believe him
And if he can't learn to love you you should leave him
Cause sista you don't need him
And I ain't tryin to gas ya up, I just call em how I see em
You know it makes me unhappy (what's that)
When brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy
And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up

Keep ya head up, oooo child things are gonna get easier
ooooo child things'll
get brighter [2x]

[Verse 2]
Aiyyo, I remember Marvin Gaye, used to sing ta me
He had me feelin like black was tha thing to be
And suddenly tha ghetto didn't seem so tough
And though we had it rough, we always had enough
I huffed and puffed about my curfew and broke the rules
Ran with the local crew, and had a smoke or two
And I realize momma really paid the price
She nearly gave her life, to raise me right
And all I had ta give her was my pipe dream
Of how I'd rock the mic, and make it to tha bright screen
I'm tryin to make a dollar out of fifteen cents
It's hard to be legit and still pay tha rent
And in the end it seems I'm headin for tha pen
I try and find my friends, but they're blowin in the wind
Last night my buddy lost his whole family
It's gonna take the man in me to conquer this insanity
It seems tha rain'll never let up
I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin wet up
You know it's funny when it rains it pours
They got money for wars, but can't feed the poor
Say there ain't no hope for the youth and the truth is
it ain't no hope for tha future
And then they wonder why we crazy
I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby
We ain't meant to survive, cause it's a setup
And even though you're fed up


[Verse 3]
To all the ladies havin babies on they own
I know it's kinda rough and you're feelin all alone
Daddy's long gone and he left you by ya lonesome
Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want em
Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I'm sure
And if you fall, stand tall and comeback for more
Cause ain't nuttin worse than when your son
wants to kno why his daddy don't love him no mo'
You can't complain you was dealt this
hell of a hand without a man, feelin helpless
Because there's too many things for you to deal with
Dying inside, but outside you're looking fearless
While da tears, is rollin down your cheeks
Ya steady hopin things don't fall down this week
Cause if it did, you couldn't take it, and don't blame me
I was given this world I didn't make it
And now my son's getten older and older and cold
From havin the world on his shoulders
While the rich kids is drivin Benz
I'm still tryin to hold on to my survivin friends
And it's crazy, it seems it'll never let up, but
please... you got to keep your head up

The Ethics of Journalism

What Journalism Should Be For

News satisfies a need to know what is occurring beyond our own direct experience, and give us a sense of control and security. We need news to identify friends and enemies and protect ourselves. They influence the quality of our lives.

Journalism is the System Societies Generate to Supply News

Journalism should provide independent, reliable, accurate and comprehensive information that people require to be fee and self-governed. A journalism that is asked to provide something other than that subverts our society and culture.

The ethics of journalism is seldom studied or clearly articulated. This lack of reflection has weakened journalism. If we cannot formulate an ethical theory of a free press, then journalists risk allowing their profession to disappear. If journalism dies, what would replace it? Advertising? Entertainment? Propaganda?

There are some principles that journalists should agree upon and the people should expect. They are the elements of journalism.

The Purpose of Journalism is to Provide People with Accurate Information they Need to be Free and Self-Governing

To fulfill this task:
- Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
- Its first loyalty is to the people
- Its essence is a discipline of verification
- Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
- It must serve as an independent monitor of power
- It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
- It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
- It must keep the news comprehensive and in proportion
- Practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience
- Citizens have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news


Kovach, B. & Rosenstiel, T. (2007). The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect.

Music: "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" by Baz Luhrmann

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance. Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Music: "Heal the World" by Michael Jackson

There's A Place In Your Heart and I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could Be Much Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try You'll Find There's No Need to Cry
In This Place You'll Feel There's No Hurt Or Sorrow

There Are Ways to Get There
If You Care Enough for The Living
Make a Little Space
Make a Better Place...

Heal the World
Make It a Better Place
For You And For Me
and The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make a Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why there's A Love That cannot Lie
Love Is Strong, It Only Cares For Joyful Giving
If We Try, We Shall See, In This Bliss We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread, We Stop Existing and Start Living

Then It Feels that Always
Love's Enough For Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were Conceived In Will Reveal A Joyful Face
and The World We Once Believed In Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep Strangling Life
Wound This Earth, Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High, Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart I Feel You Are All
My Brothers Create A World With No Fear
Together We'll Cry Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn Their Swords Into Plowshares

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place...

Heal The World...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why do Bad things Happen to Good People?

Because the universe is non-intelligent, non-designed and non-caring. There is no cosmic mechanism or intelligence that punishes the wicked. No good God exist.

That good things should happen to good people and bad things to bad people is only something that can be understood and caused to happen by an intelligent and compassionate being.

Some people do bad things: steal, murder, bully, etc.

Therefore, if we want good things to happen to good people, only we can make that so. That means we have to work together to defy the cruel indifference of the natural world, and create a world of compassion and justice.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

Richard Carriers response

Dawkins Interviews Illusionist Derren Brown

Derren Brown Investigates "Psychic" Joe

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Devil's Advocate

A devil's advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli) is someone who argues against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent, but to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the opposing cause or position.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cenk Rant On Gay Marriage & The Bible

Holocaust-denial: Convergence of Evidence

We know about the past through a convergence of evidence:

…there is an assumption by deniers that if they can just fine one tiny crack in the Holocaust structure, the entire edifice will come tumbling down. This is a fundamental flaw in their reasoning. The Holocaust is not a single event that a single fact can prove or disprove. The Holocaust was a myriad of events in a myriad of places and relies on myriad pieces of data that converge on one conclusion. Minor errors or inconsistencies here or there cannot disprove the Holocaust for the simple reason that these lone bits of data never proved it in the first place (Shermer & Grobman, 2009, p. 33)

There are several lines of evidence that proves the Holocaust (Shermer & Grobman, 2009, p. 33):

1. Documents –letters, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, confessions.

2. Testimony – accounts from survivors, Nazis, local townspeople.

3. The Camps – concentration camps, work camps, and extermination camps

4. Inferential Evidence – population demographic

5. Photographs – official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage

Holocaust-Denial: Why So Concerned?

Aren’t Holocaust-deniers just a small fringe group and harmless? Therefore, by answering their claims, you are validating them!?

Yes, that is a risk. But to let the arguments of deniers go unanswered presents a greater danger. Joseph Gobbles observed that, if you repeat a lie enough times, people will believe it.

The most prominent Holocaust deniers are very knowledgeable about the Holocaust (Shermer & Grobman, 2009). This means that anyone not versed in the specifics cannot properly question and answer their claims. For many people, the Holocaust is incomprehensible, unintelligible and untenable, and an explanation claiming that it did not happen may therefore be accepted with relief.

We can no longer ignore the deniers, calling them names and hoping they will go away. They are not going to go away. They are highly motivated, reasonably well financed, and often well versed in Holocaust studies. Like most fringe groups, denies may seem relatively small and harmless, but remember the adage: For evil to triumph it only requires that the good do nothing. We cannot remain silent anymore. It is time to respond (Shermer & Grobman, 2009, p. 17).

Holocaust historian Robert Jan van Pelt observed: "Academics who choose to ignore Holocaust deniers are like the crew of the Titanic straightening the deck chairs while the ship is going down" (van Pelt, 1996; Shermer & Grobman, 2009). I believe that the truth will prevail in the open marketplace of ideas.