All entries by this author

It’s almost as if vaccines work

Jun 26th, 2014 12:40 pm | By

Striking.

Via I fucking love science on Facebook.

 … Read the rest

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Meet Leo

Jun 26th, 2014 12:00 pm | By

Here’s a gem! Tom Williamson of Skeptic Canary talked to Leo Igwe yesterday.

Leo’s a very exuberant guy. He does great interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJx_tJn6tmMRead the rest

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Put those in the Do Not Recycle bin

Jun 26th, 2014 10:34 am | By

A “free speech” discussion on Twitter, spinning off the discussion of Badar and FODI and saying “honor” murder is morally justified. It’s annoying the way people recycle dopy platitudes that, if you pause to consider them, are actually complete bullshit.

Like

I favour so let them speak. Alternative is views forced underground.

No it isn’t. That’s a very popular cliché, of course, but that doesn’t make it true, and it’s not true. There are a lot of alternatives to letting Uthman Badar give a talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House saying that “honor killing is morally justified” other than forcing that view underground. Does Uthman Badar look as if he’s been … Read the rest

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Guest post: A lot of psychology may as well be feng shui

Jun 26th, 2014 9:58 am | By

Originally a comment by Marcus Ranum on Which to believe?

diagnosis is difficult, even with training

That’s a red flag, right there.

Psychological states are too subjective to diagnose, so a lot of psychology may as well be feng shui, until neuroscience is able to establish cause/effect relationships in underlying disorders. The idea that psychology diagnoses “disorders” is also interesting to me, because itimplies that there is something broken – literally un-ordered in the patient, yet it’s equally possible that some of these things are learned behaviors. At this time we can’t tell whether any given person lacks empathy because:

  • there is an as-yet undiscovered empathy function in the brain, which this person lacks or has damage to
  • Read the rest

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Unknown hooded men

Jun 26th, 2014 9:40 am | By

A terrible piece of news from Libya:

The Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis has been shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in Benghazi on the day of the country’s general election.

“Unknown hooded men wearing military uniforms attacked Mrs Bugaighis in her home and opened fire on her,” said a security official, who did not wish to be named.

Her husband is missing.

Bugaighis, a lawyer, played an active part in Libya’s 2011 revolution, which overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. A former member of the National Transitional Council, the rebellion’s political wing, she was vice-president of a preparatory committee for national dialogue in Libya.

The US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones called the news “heartbreaking”,

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Hiba is on the BBC on the air right now

Jun 25th, 2014 5:48 pm | By

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_five_live

Ok that’s over. She was great, and she got a lot said! Often radio people interrupt their guests a lot, but Hiba’s good at not being interruptable.

I made the mistake of commenting encouragingly on her Facebook page while she was on the air, and was startled to see her “Like” the comment. Hiba in future close your Facebook page while you’re on the air!

But seriously: this is great. The Ex-hijabi blog is getting a lot of attention and that’s fabulous. Hiba got in a plug for the Ex-Muslims of North America and their parents the Ex-Muslim Council of Britain, founded by Maryam Namazie.

 … Read the rest

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For walking home from school with a male classmate

Jun 25th, 2014 5:46 pm | By

The murder of 13-year-old Aya that Joanne mentioned:

A Tunisian man is accused of burning his 13-year-old daughter to death for walking home from school with a male classmate May 28 in Ibn Khaldoun, a suburb of Tunis.

Aya, a middle school student, died on June 7 from fourth-degree burns, Kapitalis and other local news sources reported.

“The father has been arrested since the incident occurred,” Allala Rouhma, a spokesperson for the Tunis Court of First Instance, told Tunisia Live. The father’s name has not been released.

Aya spent nine days in the Ben Arous Hospital for Burns and Injuries before succumbing to her injuries.

Source: Facebook

Those must have been nine horrible days. Burns are painful beyond … Read the rest

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Discussing evil is not wrong

Jun 25th, 2014 5:17 pm | By

And on Twitter we can see “edgy” Simon Longstaff commenting on the issue.

Oh gee people read the session title – silly silly people – they should have simply assumed the session title had nothing to do with the content, apparently.

Only, the title is so unambiguous, isn’t it. “Honour killing is morally justified.” It says what it says. It doesn’t even pose it as a question.

Also? Saying “honour  killing is morally justified” is not the same thing as “discussing evil.” The right title for the latter would have been, say, “Discussing the evil of honour killing.”

But he’s getting lots of attention for the FODI; no doubt that was the goal all along.… Read the rest

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Extremely uncomfortable

Jun 25th, 2014 4:50 pm | By

Joanne Payton has a terrific post on the FODI provocation. (Hey they have a festival to run! They got your attention, right? Well there you are then.)

In Australia, there is an event called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, with some high-calibre contributors, like Salman Rushdie and Steven Pinker. One of the speakers they invited was one Uthman Badar, of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The title of the speech was Honour Killings are Morally Justified.

Badar says he did not choose the topic himself, but accepted it upon the urgings of the board. The festival’s co-curator Simon Longstaff said he had nominated the topic for six years in a row, because the point of the festival is to push

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Which to believe?

Jun 25th, 2014 4:06 pm | By

Here’s an epistemological puzzle. What’s the right way to be a skeptic when it comes to thinking about a possible psychopath? I don’t mean a serial murderer or anything, but a more everyday kind of psychopath – you know, no conscience, compulsive lying, good at manipulation, persuasive, charming, successful.

You know a number of people who suspect that X is a psychopath of that type. You too know X and have always found X charming and persuasive.

What’s the skeptic thing to do? To doubt the people you know? Or to doubt your own sense of X? As a good skeptic, you know that people can be charming and persuasive and still be psychopaths, but you also know that not … Read the rest

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It says a lot about the reality of freedom

Jun 25th, 2014 11:34 am | By

Melissa Davey in the Guardian reports on the aftermath of the cancellation of Badar’s FODI talk.

A Sydney-based Muslim speaker has said the public outcry that prompted the Opera House to cancel his lecture called Honour Killings Are Morally Justified reveals the “extent and depth” of Islamophobia in Australia.

Does it? Or does it just reveal the extent and depth of opposition to “honor” murder in Australia? Which would be a good thing.

Badar said people had jumped to conclusions about his views before he had a chance to speak.

“Things were assumed and outrage ensued,” he said. “That is the way Islamophobia works. The assumption is ‘we know what the Muslims will say’. This a very instructive case

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Potential participants

Jun 25th, 2014 10:50 am | By

CAFE is in the news again – the Canadian Association for Equality, you know, founded by Justin “not THAT Justin” Trottier, formerly the ED of CFI-Canada. Why is it in the news again? Because it’s been discovered that it cited women’s rights organizations on its application to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status, which it got.

…when the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a self-described “men’s issues” organization, applied to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status last year, it listed the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Egale Canada, and Status of Women Canada as potential participants in its “regular panel discussion series” on women’s and men’s issues. The CRA granted CAFE charitable status in … Read the rest

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The accused is the oriental other

Jun 24th, 2014 6:12 pm | By

Here is the cached version of the page for Utham Badar’s (now canceled) talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney.

For most of recorded history parents have reluctantly sacrificed their children—sending them to kill or be killed for the honour of their nation, their flag, their king, their religion. But what about killing for the honour of one’s family? Overwhelmingly, those who condemn ‘honour killings’ are based in the liberal democracies of the West. The accuser and moral judge is the secular (white) westerner and the accused is the oriental other; the powerful condemn the powerless. By taking a particular cultural view of honour, some killings are condemned whilst others are celebrated. In turn, the act becomes a

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Honor killings are peachy keen

Jun 24th, 2014 5:36 pm | By

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney has canceled a talk by an Islamist from Hizb ut-Tahrir titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’.

Cue outrage; what about free speech?!

Is that a legitimate worry? Is it bad for free speech to not host a talk titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’?

Sydney-based Muslim speaker Uthman Badar, from Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was to give the speech, titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August.

However, the event sparked an angry response on social media and talkback radio, and drew strong condemnation from two New South Wales Government ministers.

The state’s Minister for Women, Pru Goward, and the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor

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In an imaginary afterlife

Jun 24th, 2014 4:41 pm | By

Here we have Michael Nugent going head to head with Robert Grant who wrote that terrible article in the Irish Times, on the radio program News Talk.

It’s slightly shocking, because as I mentioned, Grant is a philosophy tutor at TCD, yet he repeatedly and consistently draws wild conclusions from what Michael says that simply are not there – and surely if there’s anything a philosopher should know better than to do, it’s that.

The presenter is torture to listen to, frankly, because he sounds as if he’s slobbering the whole time, plus he’s silly. (The ten commandments ffs!)

A takeaway from Michael:

[Religion] hides its testability in an imaginary afterlife and therefore it never gets the reality check

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Time and size do not exist for the law of attraction

Jun 24th, 2014 4:10 pm | By

Thanks to James Croft I’m now aware that there’s such a thing as a Facebook page for The Secret. What is The Secret? Some positive thinking “you can get rich by fantasizing about it” book or movie or brain implant. Anyway whenever you have an impulse to dive into a source of Modern Absurdity, it’s right there for your viewing pleasure.

Top item on the page right now:

Time and size do not exist for the law of attraction. It is as easy to heal a pimple as a disease. The process is identical; the difference is in our minds. So if you have attracted some affliction to you, reduce it in your mind to the size of

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A system of open discrimination

Jun 24th, 2014 3:41 pm | By

Fintan O’Toole tells a story of priest-ridden Ireland and slightly less priest-ridden Belize.

In 2003, the Catholic diocese of Toledo fired a primary school teacher called Maria Roches because she was pregnant, not married, and therefore in breach of an obligation to live by “Jesus’s teaching on marriage and sex”. Ms Roches sued the diocese and the case went to the supreme court. The church cited, in support of its right to fire Roches, the 1985 Irish High Court case of Eileen Flynn. Ms Flynn was fired from her job at the Holy Faith school in New Ross for living with a man to whom she was not married. Judge Declan Costello sided with the nuns. He found, among

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Francis dispatches

Jun 24th, 2014 12:26 pm | By

The pope is such a comedian. Independent Catholic News (there’s a joke right there) reports his latest joke.

On Saturday morning the Holy Father received participants in the International Congress organised by the Department of Law of the Maria SS Assunta University of Rome (LUMSA) and the School of Law of the St John’s University on the theme: “religious freedom according [to] international law and the global conflict of values”, held in Rome on 20 and 21 June. Francis remarked that the theme of religious freedom has recently become the subject of intense debate between governments and the various religious faiths, and added that the Catholic Church, has a long history of supporting religious freedom, culminating in the Vatican

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You’re free, you can go! Haha just kidding

Jun 24th, 2014 11:59 am | By

Yesterday Meriam Ibrahim was released from prison. Hooray! Now all they had to do was get the hell out of Sudan. They got to Khartoum airport. Hooray!

There she was re-arrested and thrown back in the slammer.

Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman released from death row in Sudan on Monday, was arrested with her husband and two children at Khartoum airport on Tuesday as the family attempted to leave the country.

Agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detained the family just 24 hours after Ibrahim was released on the orders of the appeal court.

Her lawyer, Elshareef Mohammed, who was with Ibrahim at Khartoum airport at the time of the arrest, said more than 40 NISS officers

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Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925

Jun 24th, 2014 10:52 am | By

Imagine an orphanage where news that the mortality rate for the last year was 19% was good news. That was the mother and baby home in Pelletstown in Dublin in 1930.

While fatalities had undeniably fallen, the fact remained that 66 – or almost one in five – of the 336 children housed in Pelletstown died in the year to March 31st, 1930.

Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925, with a measles epidemic cited as the explanation for the high death rate. The following year, more than a third died. The death rate rose to 42 per cent in 1927 before falling to under 20 per cent in 1930.

Between 1924 and 1930, 662 children

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