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.