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Jay-Z and Beyonce Cuban Trip Highlights US Travel Embargo

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Recently, the reigning king and queen of hip hop, Jay-Z and Beyonce, have been heavily criticized for a trip to Cuba. While the Castro regime has touted it as “tourism”, the American government has tried to pass it off as more of a “cultural exchange”. While the Obama administration has loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba and travel to Cuba isn’t technically illegal, it is still illegal for Americans to spend money in the country.

Two members of Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, have been pressing Congress for details of the trip and multiple accusations have been made that the power couple traveled to Cuba illegally. When asked why, here was their response:

Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda. We represent a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents.

To begin with, who cares if they went to Cuba illegally? Even though their trip was legal, I don’t see what difference it would make if they went illegally. The trade embargo against Cuba has been around for over fifty years and is an archaic and useless law. Sure, Cuba and America haven’t been on the greatest terms over the years but, I still don’t think that should matter. You don’t travel to a country for their politics, you travel for the people, culture, and overall experience. For example, do I agree with Ireland’s policies regarding abortion (or the lack of a woman’s right to an abortion? No, I think that the law is archaic and ridiculous. However, I would still love to travel there someday.

Another example would be Americans who travel to North Korea. PersonallyI find it ridiculous that travel to North Korea is legal, yet, travel to Cuba is not. Last time I checked, Cuba isn’t trying to blow us off the map.

What most people don’t understand is that there are countries where corruption is rampant at various levels of government and/or human rights violations occur, yet people still travel to them anyway. For example, how many people have gone to Mexico for spring break or for a family vacation? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful country, I went there for a family vacation when I was nine years old. However, the Human Rights Watch has mentioned the following effects of the drug war against the Mexican drug cartels, as well as other organized crime groups: torture, extrajudicial killings, and random “disappearances.” There is also a lot of violence there on both ends of the spectrum (the cartels and the government), yet, many Americans still go there for frequent vacations. While I would imagine that plenty of them don’t, are we really naive enough to think that plenty of Americans in their prime college years aren’t down there buying drugs, partying, and, in turn, supporting these cartels, whether they realize it or not? To me, that is far worse than traveling to Cuba.

Case in point? Leave Jay-Z and Beyonce alone! It’s not the government’s place to tell Americans where they are and are not allowed to travel. From what I have heard, the country is absolutely beautiful and, from their pictures, it looked like they had a lovely vacation.

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About Kate Derringer Barclay

Kate Derringer Barclay is the pseudonym of a freelance writer and blogger. Kate Derringer Barclay is also working on her first book.
  • Dr Dreadful

    The US is still sulking over the Bay of Pigs and that’s really the only reason for the continuing commercial embargo against Cuba.

  • Deano

    The US would do far better to end the embargo and co-opt the Cubans with tourism dollars, travel and exchange.

    But I suspect the embargo is more useful as a domestic political balm for the exiles in Florida…so don’t expect it to end anytime soon.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I have yet to meet anyone who personally thinks we should continue this silly embargo of Cuba. It’s stupid and I’ve said as much many times. Someday some politician’s going to wake up and realize that he or she would gain several approval points by coming out for normalizing relations with Cuba…and then it will snowball from there. It’s only a matter of time.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I would like to take this opportunity to state for the record that I am in complete agreement with the remarks of Mr Contrarian in comment #3.

  • Clav

    There’s also a credible argument that Fidel himself welcomes the embargo, because the shortages it generates provide him another tool with which to keep the population under his thumb.

    Which, of course, if true, is yet another reason for the US to end it.

    There is an error in the article; travel to Cuba by American citizens is not yet legal, except for student groups and religious groups.

    During the 1990s, I operated several charter flights a week from Miami to various cities in Cuba, with permits from both governments, for several years. These flights were open only to Cubans who were US residents and who could prove they still had family on the island. They inevitably ran full, with waitlists.

    The demand is enormous.

  • Dr Dreadful

    It’s like the federal criminalization of marijiuana and the ban on gay marriage. More and more people understand that it’s silly, and things will change, but it just takes time. Washington is only ever reactive, not proactive, if it can help it. It’s very slow to realize when a long-established norm no longer has popular support.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    True enough, Clavos and Dr; the political problem is the common one in Western politics, politicians no longer lead, they follow because they are afraid of the electorate rather than trusting them.

    That’s why they are all lying through their teeth and losing all respect in the process.

  • Clav

    “…politicians no longer lead, they follow because they are afraid of the electorate rather than trusting them.

    That’s why they are all lying through their teeth and losing all respect in the process.”

    QFT; especially the latter point.

    The situation not only loses them respect, it makes me wonder just how intelligent many of them are.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The situation not only loses them respect, it makes me wonder just how intelligent many of them are.

    Not that it’s all that reliable a measure, but didn’t someone once do a study that found most members of Congress have mediocre degrees?

    And I would have thought that the utterances of many of them, sooner than their slow-wittedness in dealings with the electorate, would have raised questions for you about their intelligence…

  • Baronius

    Here is an interview with Oscar Biscet.

  • zingzing

    “politicians no longer lead, they follow because they are afraid of the electorate rather than trusting them”

    of course, if they did lead, they’d be lambasted for not listening to the electorate, being dictators, etc, etc. so let’s not pretend we the people deserve proactive leaders or any such nonsense… we demand they fall in line, and they do, or they’re out of a job.

    what exactly do you mean by a “mediocre” degree, doc?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I think there is more to it than that, zingzing.

    Politicians are specialists that are supposed to fulfil the social management role, so we should expect them to be the experts in that field and advise and lead us. After all, we don’t tell mechanics how to fix cars or surgeons how to operate.

    Just because someone demands something doesn’t mean they should have it and we all know that.

    Giving in to the demands of the electorate is simply pandering to their worst instincts and is a surrender to the power of the mob.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Baronius: Biscet’s testimony is compelling, but as Kate asks in her article, why should Cuba be a special case? It makes no sense to shun Cuba while allowing commerce with oppressive regimes like those of North Korea, Turkmenistan, Belarus and the like. Either trade with all or cut ties with all.

  • Baronius

    The US does have sanctions against Belarus. Ditto North Korea. As far as “Turkmenistan”, if you’re going to make up the names of fake countries, at least try for something a little more realistic.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    You bewilder me, Baronius, Turkmenistan is a real country…

  • Glenn Contrarian
  • Dr Dreadful

    Baronius, I’m not sure whether or not you were being facetious, but Turkmenistan is indeed a real country. A former Soviet republic, it had the misfortune, after the breakup of that worthy federation, to come under one of the most ostentatious and oppressive cults of personality ever to disgrace the surface of the planet. The original dictator, Niyazov, died several years ago and his successor Berdimuhamedov, while not nearly as bonkers, still rules with an iron fist.

    And the subject of the article is the trip to Cuba by two American celebrities, thereby sparking discussion on the ongoing travel embargo that exists between the US and Cuba but not between the US and, as far as I’m aware, any other country on Earth.

  • Zing zing

    Chris, #12, I agree with what you say there, but that doesn’t mean much. We don’t get leaders who really lead because if they try to do just that, we shout them down for it. You say they don’t trust the electorate, but we don’t trust them either. Given the state of the electorate and the state of politicians, I’d say we’re all correct in our assumptions…

    We should expect more of our politicians, but we should also allow them to do their jobs without nitpicking everything they do. They’re paranoid and tentative about everything because that’s what they’ve been taught to be by us. If we want real leaders, we have to let them lead, and I’m not sure we’re ready to do that. I’m sure I’ll be reluctant to give the next right wing admin any sort of leeway or benefit of the doubt. Such is life in the 21st century.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Surely the reason we don’t trust our politicians, or at least one of the most key reasons, is that we don’t allow them to be honest.

    So I guess, yes, we do get the politicians we deserve, but someone has to break the cycle and it obviously needs to be the politicians.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    The cycle can only be truly broken by the politicians, yes – but as with other issues (like I pointed out in my most recent article), Hollywood and the music industry can play a vital role in changing the view of American Society. Hence, Jay-Z and Beyonce.

  • Zing zing

    Politicians don’t speak or act like human beings much of the time. They think in terms of reelection probability and speak/act accordingly. It’s a fundamental problem at the core of our political system. The fact that it takes so much money to secure (votes for) reelection is making it even worse. I think we could limit money without having to dismantle the entire system, but I’d bet that’s the last idea the politicians, who decide such things, would go for. And corporations are not people.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I have to tell you, no joke, that I’m truly taken aback and offended by your comment. For years now we have discussed the history of the Coptic Church, Anatolian demography, Kurdish nationalism, but you assume that I’m not joking when I make a reference to Turkmenistan having a fake-sounding name. Some of the people around here aren’t exactly the Kings of Reading Comprehension, but you should know me better than this…

  • roger nowosielski

    @12

    “Politicians are specialists that are supposed to fulfill the social management role, so we should expect them to be the experts in that field and advise and lead us.”

    But wouldn’t that conflate politicians with technocrats, Chris? One of the complaints emerging from the EU austerity program proposals and implementation of said programs is that the politicians have been replaced by technocrats.

    My view of politics and politicians is that the main object is to steer the ship of state, in the interest of justice; and further, that technocrats, or the so-called experts, are supposed to serve and to the extent possible implement the political objective(s), rather than rule.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Some of the people around here aren’t exactly the Kings of Reading Comprehension

    You dare question the validity of my crown? Off with you, knave!

  • Clav

    I think we could limit money without having to dismantle the entire system…

    I do too, and I think we need to do it NOW, because the system (and those who play in it) are rapidly growing ever more corrupt.

    We have to stop that corruption…

  • Zing zing

    If clavos and I agree on a thing political, that’s good evidence of something. Merit and community support instead of funds should decide who wins office. Now how to do that and how to convince people to run for office without lining their pockets… Ugh.

  • Clav

    If clavos and I agree on a thing political, that’s good evidence of something.

    Why, our brilliance, of course…

  • roger nowosielski

    Yep, the only evidence this is of — it’s a fallacious argument.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    It would take a lot of courage and electoral failure before succeeding, but I would welcome a radical shift in politics that allowed politicians to be who they are rather than artificial constructs manufactured to manage perceived political requirements.

    That perceived requirement forces politicians to lie and should be stamped out, if necessary by law. It sets a bad example to the nation and the world and legitimises bad behaviour at all levels. After all, if our political leaders are going to lie, it’s okay for us to lie too.

    We may also need to look at the nature and structure of political parties and their funding. I’m not sure that political parties by definition don’t contribute to this pervasive political dishonesty by requiring their members to toe the party line.

    Roger, to be able to steer the ship of state requires one to know how to navigate politics, which is by definition a technical skill, as well as a social one.

    It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect politicians to be skilled at political negotiation and require them to tell us their own opinions.

    One example would be the political “debate” around Iraq in which people like Powell were being forced to present “facts” and “information” that they clearly didn’t believe and the American people and the wider world through the UN were lied to.

    I disagree with your concept that this steerage is “in the interest of justice”. Justice is vitally important (and sorely abused in contemporary USA) but the ship of state has much broader requirements than that one component.

    There is a lot of blather spoken about serve and rule; modern politics seems to expect the former, whereas many politicians seem to think it is the latter. I wonder if a large proportion of that is just smoke and mirrors.

    If the role of politicians is simply carry out the wishes of the electorate at every level, then we are really just talking about mob rule dressed up as some kind of bogus respectability.

    As a species we are still evolving and not yet totally grown up humans still have a lot of ugly impulses. One example is the United States embrace of the death penalty, which is clearly about vengeance, not justice. The USA is the only Western country to indulge in legalised state murder, a practice it shares with such savoury nations as North Korea, Iran, Syria and China, to name just a few.

    In the current political environment it would probably be both impossible and political suicide to campaign against the practice, but the American people need to be resisted on this point, not indulged. I would have thought as a nominally Christian country it would be against people’s moral beliefs to allow this practice as Christianity, unlike some religions, is supposed to be about compassion, love and forgiveness not revenge.

    There are many other less dramatic examples, but mob rule dressed up as politics should always be resisted not indulged.

    I think there is a growing consensus that the current system is broken and changing it will cause massive disruption and upheaval.

    Taking on this necessary but difficult task will be challenging to all of us and our beliefs, but we need to find better ways of doing politics in order to preserve the best of what we already have and take things forward.

    The alternative may well be even more bloody and disruptive, probably requiring at the very least an American Spring, at worst a new civil, possibly global war.

    Melodramatic? Yes, sure, but wrong? Not so sure.

  • S. T. M

    I might have a nice cup of tea.

  • llort

    Chris…all well and good – arguing over our major differences ranging from our opinions of so-called mob rule to the purposes of government to our notions concerning the course of human development would be useless

    so – do you see points of leverage presently existing from which individuals and small groups can actualize the radical change you call for?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Not sure, troll, I think it has to start with people making personal choices to stand up for the truth and not ignore it because it contrasts with their political, religious or other beliefs.

    There has to be an acceptance that one’s beliefs are personal but that there are larger universal issues. If people are going to insist on elevating the personal over the universal, there can only ever be negative outcomes.

    Political and other “leaders” should start demonstrating this by abandoning group speak and embracing reality, for all our sakes.

  • llort

    while talk of truth and universals begs some non-trivial questions at least we can start from an agreement that It is a matter of individual responsibility

  • Dr Dreadful

    It’s another sad reflection on the state of contemporary politics that politicians who are incorruptible and who do speak the truth as they see it, like Ron Paul in the US and Dennis Skinner in the UK, tend to be vilified, marginalized and regarded as whackjobs.

  • Clav

    I think it has to start with people making personal choices to stand up for the truth and not ignore it because it contrasts with their political, religious or other beliefs.

    While I don’t disagree with your underlying point, I think it worthwhile to point out that people have a disconcerting habit of denying a truth if it flies in the face of their fundamental beliefs, especially the religious ones. It follows then, that such people are unlikely to acknowledge the truth in any given premise if it contradicts their core beliefs, and thus are literally unable to accomplish what you suggest.

  • roger nowosielski

    Is “contemporary politics,” as you call it, Dreadful, unconnected to, or not a product of, the ethos of our times, which, in turn, is also a reflection of some wider, more comprehensive schema?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Doc –

    Ron Paul is a whackjob. Like most whackjobs he does make a good point or two – heck, even Hitler and Stalin did a few things right – but anyone who thinks that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against whomever they will (be it for race, religion, ethnicity, religion, or disability) for whatever reason they deem appropriate…is IMO a whackjob and should be vilified and marginalized.

    He opposes the Civil Rights Act, has sought to abolish public education, says that education is not a right…a list of his political positions is here.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I think it worthwhile to point out that people have a disconcerting habit of denying a truth if it flies in the face of their fundamental beliefs, especially the religious ones. It follows then, that such people are unlikely to acknowledge the truth in any given premise if it contradicts their core beliefs, and thus are literally unable to accomplish what you suggest.

    That’s true for most in the short run, but in the long run, not so much – otherwise the American public would not have changed so radically on LGBT rights from the 1960’s till now.

    And when it comes to an inability to acknowledge the truth, there’s this little thing called Anthropomorphic Global Warming. You may have heard of it….

  • Dr Dreadful

    Glenn:

    @ #37: But each of those positions has a rational basis in his personal philosophy, i.e. that the rights of the individual take precedence over the claims of the state. Just because you disagree with his views or find some of them abhorrent that doesn’t make him a whackjob.

    @ #38: For the 50 millionth frickin’ time, Contrarian, it’s anthropogenic global warming. Jesus Luis…

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, it’s those very people that have that extremely disconcerting habit that are most likely to be problematic. They have to understand that belief is not absolute and allow others to thrive as well. If not, they are just the West’s own Taliban.

    Glenn, it isn’t mad for businesses to want to have the right to associate with the people they want to, so your depiction of Ron Paul, of whom I know little, as a whackjob seems excessive.

    My own businesses are very small and I wouldn’t be able or willing to bring people into it if their behaviour or abilities were going to be problematic.

    Forcing businesses to employ people they don’t want is absurd and is just going to make them create false reasons for not employing certain people.

    The opposition to LGBT rights may not have been as core an issue as you seem to presume. It’s worth noting that the biggest change in views about that has been in the last five or ten years, not since the 1960s.

    I don’t think it is reasonable to highlight global warming as that isn’t the kind of core belief we are talking about. Did you bring it up just to have a pop at Clavos?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Roger @ #36:

    Yes, it is: and that’s exactly the point Chris and Clav have been making.

  • Clav

    Did you bring it up just to have a pop at Clavos?

    Of course he did.

    But he’s right: I have never believed in anthropomorphic global warning! 😉

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    As climate change isn’t what we are trying to address in this conversation, I suggest we ignore that tangent and focus on the crucial matter here, which is the increasingly urgent need for large scale political reform…

  • Dr Dreadful

    I have never believed in anthropomorphic global warning! 😉

    Although somebody did post a photo on Facebook the other day of a cloud that looked like the genie from Aladdin

    …And also, when we were in Fiji several years ago and were feeling sad about leaving on our last morning, we looked out to sea and there was a cloud formation on the horizon that looked for all the world like God giving us a giant finger. For those of you who are Facebook friends with me, I did take a pic… :-)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Okay, Anthropogenic Global Warming – but all of you knew what I meant. And yes, I pointedly meant it for Clavos because he mentioned how some are simply incapable of acknowledging a truth that contradicts their core beliefs…and he’s living proof of his statement.

    And for Chris:

    Glenn, it isn’t mad for businesses to want to have the right to associate with the people they want to, so your depiction of Ron Paul, of whom I know little, as a whackjob seems excessive.

    Yes it is mad. Why? Who here has lived where such was allowed? I have, more than anyone else here. I have seen it and lived it and know all too well where it leads, which is to ever-greater separation of the races. With each passing year, those of one race would feel ever more unwelcome in the presence of those of the other race – and they’d get reminded of it every time they see (in real life or in the media) examples of racial prejudice against them…and it is a vicious circle to which there is no end…

    …and all your pretty rhetorical statements claiming that you have this or that right, or that market forces would prevent the spread of segregation…all these are just so much pollyannish claptrap.

    Any organization that conducts commerce with the general public must do so with all the public unless there is a reason that doing so is in any way irresponsibly dangerous (e.g. selling guns to violent felons, arsenic to children). If some church doesn’t want to admit black people, or if a private club wants to admit only recovering homosexual Tea Partiers, that’s fine, that’s up to them. But when it comes to a business that conducts commerce with the general public has a level of responsibility to that general public

    …and part of that responsibility is to treat everyone the same, regardless of who they are or what they believe.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, you far more accurately fit the model of somebody of someone who can’t escape their core beliefs than Clavos will ever do.

    As for the Ron Paul thing, you can’t even escape your own subjective experience with racism. Based on the little information I have, Ron Paul wasn’t making an argument about race, which is what you have attempted to reduce it to.

    With regard to the racial dimension in particular, my opinion is that any business that hires along racial lines is going to be at a competitive disadvantage.

    It isn’t market forces that will prevent the spread of segregation though, it is social forces, the same force that has lead to the increased acceptance of sexual diversity.

    My concern is more that hiring someone like, say, you, with their extreme beliefs, would be corrosive to the working environment and damaging to the business, so I wouldn’t want to hire you and I think I should have that right to run my business the way I want to.

    If I am mistaken, market and social forces will surely correct me, just as they are correcting religious belief, which is steadily declining as our species continues its growth and evolution towards knowledge rather than gnosis.

    Anyway, interesting as all this is, it is again dragging the conversation away from its initial interesting focus into less interesting areas, so let’s get back to the need for social and political change through the medium of personal actions and demand for a better governmental product.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Although, Chris, we should prudently regard these forces as impersonal, and therefore the “corrections” they impart are not necessarily going to align with what you or I or Glenn personally feel to be “correct”.

    For example, without intervention who’s to say that market and social forces would not deepen, rather than erase, racial segregation?

    Furthermore, we can perhaps extend this to the original question, and say that social and market forces should eventually correct the current state of political affairs. Moreover, I suggest perhaps they’ve already done so: in our demand for convenience and instant gratification we’ve created a political class that will give us exactly that: the easy, quick, glib soundbite solutions we think we want to hear, and that we don’t have to think too much about before casting our vote and moving on to matters of more pressing concern like the latest gadget or reality show. Alternatively, politicians even provide quick, glib soundbites we can easily get angry about. Both, you could say, fill a social need.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    That depends whether you consider yourself to be aligned with those forces or not, Doc.

    I think the evolutionary curve humanity is following will transcend attempts at division along racial lines, although I might be mistaken, but looking at the way things are going, I think not.

    I think there will be a correction, the question is whether we will act to make it happen or follow the more common human pattern, which would be the “Spring” option…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I think the evolutionary curve humanity is following will transcend attempts at division along racial lines, although I might be mistaken, but looking at the way things are going, I think not.

    Can anyone name a time when anything approaching racial harmony came about in any country in history where it did not require government intervention?

    No.

    Even though England outlawed slavery long before America did, England continues to have her own issues with race to this day. Does that mean that government intervention in England has been a failure? Certainly not.

    if minorities suffer economic persecution and have no recourse to the courts, then the racists will be emboldened to publicly do and say what they will. The more this happens, the more those minorities will feel unwelcome, unwanted, dispossessed even if most of the majority aren’t racist…and the minorities will they have nowhere to turn to but themselves. They circle their wagons against The Man…and The Man has less and less interaction with those minorities…and the less that either side reaches out to each other. This is the beginning of the vicious circle to which I referred earlier.

    Which is precisely what the racists want…particularly when the racists are of the race that is economically dominant.

    We Anglo whites have it very easy – if anything, we’re given preferential treatment in most places on the planet, and because of this, it’s often hard for us to see the difficulties other races face. After all, are we really fool enough to believe that things would have been just fine in America if the Civil Rights Act had never been passed (as Ron Paul seems to believe)?

  • Clav

    “Past performance does not guarantee future results.”

    A Wall Street disclaimer that is valuable in a number of contexts.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, I think we all get that you are scarred by your past racism and experience of it, but your #49 is just hand wringing and speculation about what might happen from a fearful and pessimistic perspective, to say nothing of you repeating your earlier efforts to make this conversation about racism rather than politics.

  • llort

    …personally I think we should be equally concerned with anthropomorphic global warming (which will occur when mother nature gets pissed off enough) as with the anthropogenic sort

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    That’s not actually possible though is it?, troll, unless you are assigning the word some special meaning I don’t know of…

  • llort

    …about as possible as gaia being in some humanly comprehensible sense a conscious being

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    LLO @ llort

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Time for bed.

    G’night all.

  • Clav

    Buenas noches, Chris.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Even though England outlawed slavery long before America did, England continues to have her own issues with race to this day. Does that mean that government intervention in England has been a failure? Certainly not.

    All factors taken into consideration, it’s probably been no more nor less of a success or failure than it has in the US. But there’s one significant difference between the abolition of slavery and subsequent race relations issues in the two countries. And it’s this: you twits were imprudent enough to import slaves to work in your own country. And therefore, you had to deal with all the repercussions of emancipation right in your own backyard. Millions of folks you’d just spent centuries oppressing, right there in front of your noses every day, reminding you.

    By contrast, British slaves were, with the odd exception, kept well away from home soil, mainly in the Caribbean. While this allowed us rather deplorably to quickly forget about any guilt associated with the practice, it also left the former slaves free to build a culture and identity of their own, far from all but the most vestigial influence from their former masters.

    Therefore, when they did at last seek to leave their adoptive homelands and partake of the economic bounty of the old country, it was on their own terms. Meanwhile the native Brits, without any lingering “what are we to do about…” questions, got over the initial shock of shiploads of West Indians and South Asians suddenly walking the streets, and several decades later, everyone lives for the most part in relative racial harmony.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    Glenn, I think we all get that you are scarred by your past racism and experience of it, but your #49 is just hand wringing and speculation about what might happen from a fearful and pessimistic perspective, to say nothing of you repeating your earlier efforts to make this conversation about racism rather than politics.

    Times change. So do technologies and environments and even societies. But people do not change – at least not in the range of personalities and intelligence. You can claim all day long that humankind is going to magically overcome prejudice without governmental support, but there’s precisely zero data to back up your claim

    …whereas I can present a wealth of hard data demonstrating human prejudice from the modern day ranging all the way back to ancient days.

    Prejudice, Chris, whether against a different race, religion, ethnicity, political stripe, sexual orientation, whatever, is still prejudice…and it’s part and parcel of the human animal. We are biologically driven to beware of that which is radically different from what we’ve always known.

    For you to claim that humankind would magically learn to overcome the tendencies to prejudice that dwells (if to different levels) in all of us…isn’t really much different from claiming that people would drive more safely if we got rid of punitive traffic laws and instead posted only “suggested” speed limits and “recommended” stop signs. It sounds nice, but you and I both know it would lead to the same kind of traffic statistics found in nations where traffic laws are effectively nonexistent…just like getting rid of laws against prejudice would lead to the same kind of societal problems found in other nations today where such laws are effectively nonexistent.

    As much as you may hate the notion, Chris, all societies need regulation…and regulation that lessens the interpersonal friction within a society is generally a very good thing. Again, do you really think American society would have been better off without the Civil Rights Act? Do you really?

  • Zing zing

    “You twits were imprudent enough to import slaves to work in your own country.”

    And whose idea was that? Granted it didn’t become quite the economic imperative it was until the early 1800s, but blaming us twits for such imprudence is kinda like shooting someone up with heroin then complaining that they’ve become an addict. Europe tainted us from the start, and don’t you forget it. (And I think the importation of slaves was banned within a couple of decades of the constitution… Which is a couple of decades too long, but that was the date set by the original constitutional congress, as a necessity in order to get the constitution ratified. Call it our hangover of you.)

    Slavery was a fact in America for about century and a half before the USA was established, which is the fault of the colonists and the nations that were busy colonizing. They built an economy that suckled the teat of free labor which became more and more dependant upon it. The 8 hypocritical decades that followed are certainly cause for national shame around here, but we did have a big bloody war over it, so that has to count for something, right? But then we spent a century being even more hypocritical with an entire race (really every race but one) “liberated” but not free, so whatever… We suck.

    It astounds me to think that my parents grew up during Jim Crow years, and that I’m of the first generation of Americans to live in an America where the law pays more than lip service to the equality of all people (except the fags, because we can’t have that in our Christian nation, another thing we can blame on you fucking Europeans. What is there shameful in American history that we can’t blame on you scum?)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Generally speaking, since the late 1700’s England and France have done better when it comes to race relations than America has. I clearly remember reading the translation of a letter that the French high command sent out in 1917 to their officers warning them of the incomprehensible prejudice Americans had against those of African descent.

    But to pat ourselves on the back, AFAIK neither England nor France (or any other Western first-world nation, for that matter) have ever come close to having a head of state of nonwhite heritage.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, your #59 is a classic example of the problems with trying to converse with you. Your subjective backward looking beliefs get in the way of reality.

    If you can’t see that there is more racial integration in the USA these days than there was, say, 50 years ago, or even further back, then we aren’t living on the same planet.

    Humankind is learning to overcome prejudice, right before our very eyes. Sure, it is a work in progress, but the fact that you can’t see it says more about the limitations you place on yourself than the actual world around us.

    It’s true that we humans have a cautious nature when it comes to differences or strangeness; that is, or at least was, a survival trait. These days, not so much, and less so as we learn more about the world and its people.

    You are just a sour old pessimist, apparently scarred beyond redemption by your own experiences, about which you appear to make the all too common mistake of presuming that your personal is somehow universal, rather than just one person’s story amongst many.

    Religion is one of the negative traits that divide and separate us, so it is clearly part of the problem, not the solution. Why don’t you do the world a favour, open your eyes, and abandon these divisive falsehoods?

    You are also flat out wrong when you say people don’t change, because they do. These days there are more diverse personality types than ever and as a species we are clearly more educated and aware of the world around us now than at any time in all human history, a trend I expect to continue for many millenia, assuming we don’t go extinct first.

    Furthermore, I didn’t say anything at all about society and the need for regulation. As with this racism issue, it is just another red herring you are introducing to confuse the conversation, which is what all faithists do when they are losing an argument.

  • Clav

    Chris is right: Glenn often cites personal, anecdotal experience as proof of the truth of whatever point he’s trying to make at the time.

    As any first year student of logic can confirm, such “evidence” proves nothing.

    Red herrings and attempts to steer the conversation into territory more friendly to his viewpoint(s) also highlight Glenn’s “arguments.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Social engineering isn’t evolution; it’s Intelligent Design – – sometimes not-so-intelligent design: ixnay on the American Spring or Big Bloody Global Revolution to bring about what you consider to be positive social change, Christopher Rose.

  • llort

    “not-so-intelligent design”…I’ve always held god’s Parents to blame for his poor social skills

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Whatever, troll. We all have to blame the great enigma of the existence of evil on something.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Sorry, I meant llort ;). But I wonder…where is the evidence of this “evolutionary curve” Christopher Rose confidedently asserts homo sapiens is following.
    I see more evidence of God – – lack of “social skills” notwithstanding – – working at the micro level in the lives of individuals, than evidence of some great benevolent mystical evolutionary force moving civilization on planet Earth to utopia.

    When men try to be that mystical force, it always starts with idealism, and ends in the Reign of Terror. There’s no room for compassion or tolerance in the world of Nature where Survival of the Fittest is the only rule. Maybe the time for compassion comes when all the dissenters have been eliminated.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    You are also flat out wrong when you say people don’t change, because they do. These days there are more diverse personality types than ever and as a species we are clearly more educated and aware of the world around us now than at any time in all human history, a trend I expect to continue for many millenia, assuming we don’t go extinct first.

    Individual people can and do change. People as a whole do not change. Individual psychology is far more difficult to divine than mass psychology…

    …and it’s mass psychology which is pertinent here.

    Human civilization’s come a long way since the passage of the Civil Rights Act just under 50 years ago. Before then, prejudice was not only the norm in society, but it was also enshrined by law. Yes, you know all this. But what you are not getting is that human civilization has been around for at least 5000 years. Look at your assumption:

    It isn’t market forces that will prevent the spread of segregation though, it is social forces, the same force that has lead to the increased acceptance of sexual diversity.

    So you’re saying that the progress that Western society has made (because there’s not been much progress outside the Western world) in the past fifty years – the past one percent of human civilization – is enough to justify your apparent contention that the government no longer needs to provide legal protection to minorities in the private sector.

    Here’s a clue, Chris – whatever human civilization does in the most recent one percent of its existence does not denote a lasting departure from the other ninety-nine percent. It’s not so much about general social trends as it is about educating and influencing the people – it’s the education and influence that brings about the social trends, and not the other way around.

    Examples? Look at the hostility and sometimes outright hatred that many Americans (mostly conservative) now have for Muslims, for those of Arab descent, and even for those who to some people just look like Muslims (e.g. Sikhs). This hostility and hatred did not exist in the 1960’s…but it exists now.

    Look at the Balkans, at Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia. While Tito held the reins of power in Yugoslavia, while he was a bit of a tyrant (but not that bad as tyrants go), he held his country together. But not long after he died, ethnic and religious divisions tore the region apart…the region that had been kept peaceful by government.

    If you look at the story of WWI, do you see much in the way of hatred of Jewry? Not much at all. At the time, the Jews were a valued part of the German social fabric. But what happened when runaway deflation hit and the Weimar Republic fell?

    Time and time and time again in human history, Chris, when great tragedy hits or governments fall, the underlying prejudice of the population comes to the fore…and humanity (or human society) has not even begun to evolve beyond that particular trait in the past one percent of human civilization.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Are you going to claim my previous comment is just another raft of anecdotes and personal experiences? No, I don’t think you will…but neither do I think you’ll defend Chris’ claims about human society somehow outgrowing prejudice.

    But I figure you will continue to stand on the sidelines and take pot shots at the messenger.

  • llort

    I agree with most of your position and so tend to a general (embarrassed and shamed) ‘turning away’ from exhibitions of civilized power over others – that lording it over each other

    I’m suspect that such an image of escape is archetypal to humans

  • yort

    (70 is to that Athena goddess)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    What’s the archetype? The ape who survived because he was best at lording it over others? Or Version 1.0 who had the ability to lord it over himself?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    re your #64, Irene, as far as I can tell you were the first person to mention social engineering, so I’m puzzled as to your point.

    As to your #66, what’s enigmatic about the existence of evil?

    And your #67? I’m not surprised you can’t see evolution taking place if your senses are fogged by myths and legends. I’d recommend some kind of mental demisting spray!

    Glenn, I don’t know what can be done with you. If individual people change and “people” is by definition made up of lots of individual people, then people are changing too.

    The rest of your #68 is simply too silly to even bother with. Why you bleat?

    Human civilization has been around far longer than 5,000 years but the evolution of modern civilization is much more recent and far from complete.

    I didn’t contend that “government no longer needs to provide legal protection to minorities in the private sector”, that’s just you making shit up again to give yourself something to say.

    You may not think what has is happening in these current times is significant, but then what you think is significant is little more than fairy stories for children, so you aren’t really able to make that call.

    As it happens, over 99% of everything we know has happened in that tiny percentage of time as humanity grows and develops out of ignorance into knowledge.

    Hatred and hostility are part of a process; have you never seen two people fight and then become friends? So it is with cultures too, it’s just that the timescales are different.

    All you see is pessimism and gloom, Glenn. I’ve no idea if it is your past, your religion, your need for being in a hierarchy, your age, or some combination of those elements and who knows what else.

    Your #68 may not be anecdotes and personal experiences, but it is a personal perception of experiences by someone who believes in myths and legends.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Christopher Rose, your #29 meanders through a reasoned assault on the concept of the death penalty…to a wholesome denunciation of mob rule. . . to the naive claim that the human species is evolving (whereas the surviving fittest are elite psychopaths willing to whittle the species down to an inbred and dysfunctional few). . . to the shocking assertion that a necessary challenge to our beliefs may be “bloody and disruptive” [THERE’S YOUR SOCIAL ENGINEERING]…probably requiring at the very least an American Spring, at worst a civil war” . . .culminating in what is not a hearty endorsement of that great evil, but definitely not a denouncement: “wrong? Not so sure.”

    Christopher Rose, have you forgotten what evil is? Or is naming a thing “evil” or “wrong,” in the Bright Bright ethos of your New World a-comin’, nothing more than a symptom of mental mistiness?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    So a new page will start with a fresh salvo of Rose-esque silliness, i.e., the ignoring of the content of a person’s comment, and replacement of any sort of an intelligent reply with with a school-yardish cascade of nyah-nyah-nyahs and neener-neener-neeners, I will use up comment #75 with an apology for misquoting you.

    It was, of course, the prospect of a possibly GLOBAL civil war in which you were having difficulty discerning evil.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    Your #68 may not be anecdotes and personal experiences, but it is a personal perception of experiences by someone who believes in myths and legends.

    Really? I wasn’t aware that America’s reaction to 9/11, Nazi Germany’s hatred of Jewry, and the ethnic cleansing following the disintegration of Yugoslavia were merely ‘personal perceptions’.

    And when it comes to who’s being faithist, YOU’RE the one who thinks that “the evolutionary curve humanity is following will transcend attempts at division along racial lines” based only on what’s happened within the past one percent of the history human civilization (and then only in the West) with complete disregard of what happened in the other 99% of the history of human civilization. Seems to me you’re being at least as faithist as I if you really think that humanity is going to ‘trancend attempts at division among racial lines’ – because you’ve got zero evidence other than your own hunch, and you’re ignoring the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Here’s a clue for you, Chris – as you admitted above, we humans do tend to distrust the different – and if you’d been paying attention to recent scientific research (read up on the amygdala sometime), you’d have seen that there seem to be biological – not psychological, but biological – reasons that factor significantly into this distrust, this fear. Until we somehow evolve away from these biological factors, we will stand zero chance of ‘transcending’ any sort of prejudice at all…but at the same time, the day we stop distrusting that which is different may well be that day when we stop being able to discern very real threats. It’s not at all a stretch to say that it’s this distrust of the different that has in many ways helped to enable mankind to survive not only the natural world, but each other as well.

    Oh, and one more thing – how is it I’m so d**ned pessimistic and gloomy if (as I’ve pointed out repeatedly to Cindy and Anarcissie under Roger’s newest article) I believe that humanity has it better now than at any time in human history? Seems to me that you’re just projecting. Again.

  • S.T.M

    Tea anyone?

    Milk or black?

    One lump or two?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    It’s odd; there appear to be two Irene Athenas. There’s one that is sharp as a knife and this one!

    Your #74 contains so many false interpretations of my words that I’m nonplussed as to whether I’m a terrible writer, you’re as high as a kite, which seems unlikely or your beliefs are getting in the way of your brain, which may be the lesser of three evils!

    I’ve no idea why you would consider the idea that humans are still evolving as naive. To me it seems obvious. Care to put some flesh on them bones?

    An American Spring wouldn’t be social engineering, it would be violent and painful, even if it did ultimately make things better. What I was addressing was the hope and idea that changes could be made so we (well, you) wouldn’t have to go through that. Not sure that changes to a political system amount to social engineering.

    Also baffled by your remark asking if I had forgotten what evil is. All I said was ask you what was enigmatic about it.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn you are so self contradicting it is almost funny.

    Let’s just agree that you carry on believing your heady mixture of myths and legends dressed up as something respectable and the young human race will get on with its business despite the worst efforts of you and your like.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And that’s what you do every time someone presents you something you can’t argue with – you simply dismiss it. You really are a waste of my time, because (unlike most of the others here) you make claims that you can’t back up, and when your claims are refuted, you reject whatever a person’s said for no other apparent reason than that they disagreed with you. Now as before, I pity you – and the real sadness is, you have no comprehension why I pity you.

    You go ahead and take the last word. I’m done with on this thread.

  • S.T.M

    Tea break? Everything always seems so much better after a nice cup of tea …

  • yort

    …let’s get ’em wired with thermoses of rum spiked coffee instead

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, yet again you have it backwards. Do you walk around that way too?

    The reason I don’t respond to your arguments is because they are so full of rambling logic and presumption.

    You use exactly the same type of argument as doorstep preachers and it isn’t actually possible to debate with them because every time you rebut one point they spin off into another, which is exactly what you have done throughout this sorry excuse for a debate.

    Let me remind you, your initial point was to say that Ron Paul was a “whackjob” because he wants business owners to be able to decide who they want to employ.

    My response was to say that as a small business owner it is important that I hire who I need and want to hire and ever since then you have been spinning left right and centre to try and argue against that simple point.

    None of your arguments have any relevance to that, so I simply am not going to follow you down the road to irrelevance, that’s all.

    It is emphatically not a case of dismissing you because I can’t argue a point, simply that I can’t argue your points, because they are both irrelevant and not a little mad.

    It’s also untrue, in other words you are lying, when you say that is what I do when “someone presents you something you can’t argue with”; it is simply what I do when you go off on your Gish gallops. To do otherwise would be utter folly.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    I had to respond to this:

    your initial point was to say that Ron Paul was a “whackjob” because he wants business owners to be able to decide who they want to employ.

    No, I call Ron Paul a whackjob because he’s a whackjob. He’s a racist who’s using libertarian thought to give him an excuse for his racism. I’ve written about his racism before – it’s plainly there for all objective readers to see.

    As I’ve said before, Ron Paul makes sense about a few things – like legalization of marijuana, for one – but most of his positions are not only poorly thought out (from my point of view, of course) but not at all libertarian, as we can see from his hard-line opposition to abortion rights for women.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Must. Not. Engage. Remember. Welch’s Grape Juice.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Christopher Rose (78) there’s a fourth alternative. You write well enough and I am compos mentis and was compos mentis when I responded to your comment, the functions of my brain hindered by nothing, as I had not accepted the special tea from STM and The Trolley from Troy until after comment #82.

    Christopher Rose, in nearly EVERY comment you address to Glenn, Baronious, me, on just about any topic, you work in a swipe about how damaging and dangerous religious belief is, not only for “the faithist” himself, but for any society in which believers exist. You have said time after time that the world would be a better place if religious faith did not exist. For you the existence of faith is not only irrational, it’s evil — a political evil.

    Can you imagine how it would strike you had I made the comment that the world would be a better place if atheism were to be eliminated in a bloody civil possibly global war? (Not that I would, because the world wouldn’t be a better place without atheists, neither would atheists be eliminated in a bloody civil, possibly global civil war?

    So that’s what fueled the emotional harshness of my comment. That harshness was ironic, though, because what I had intended to convey was that aggression and hostility were the worst ways to address social problems, and tend to move progress toward peaceful societies backwards by centuries.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    It’s a crap shoot as to whether the side with the most (for want of a better word) “life-affirming” outlook wins a war. The winners are those whose weaponry and military strategies are more effective than the other sides’ under the prevailing conditions. So winning is a matter of good luck as well as good preparation.

    And the side with the more “life-affirming” viewpoint wins a war, they don’t really win. The war against slavery was won in the northern united states and in England without bloodshed, and blacks fared well. In the South, where the cruelty of war set back civil relationships between blacks and whites by at least a couple of centuries.

    Some of the same politicians who opposed slavery in England also opposed the treatment of the American colonists. The American Revolution against the British was another war that could have been avoided had people listened to the sanest voices.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Irene, anything that misleads people and causes them to live their life by falsehoods is, to my mind, cruel, wrong and unacceptable. It follows then that I am in favour of reducing the grip this thing has on people.

    I don’t know if I would, in all seriousness, say it was evil, although I do think it has no place in politics.

    I haven’t ever, ever, said that faithists should be eliminated in any kind of way, let alone a war.

    If you got that from my remarks about politics, you have 100% taken something from my words that wasn’t there. Please go back and re-read it, but I assure you my remark was purely about politics.

    For the record, although I oppose faithism as misguided, I defend people’s right to believe anything they want to and so long as they don’t force it on others, I’m cool with it. That doesn’t mean that I am not going to oppose such foolishness when it presents, just as I would if people wanted to live by astrology, phrenology or numerology.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    It’s interesting how he’s so against religion when officially atheist regimes don’t exactly have a record to brag about.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    The fourth alternative (because I didn’t explicitly name it in #86) was: because of the drift of a hefty percentage of your other comments, your comment about bloody civil possibly global war could properly be interpreted in a way you had not intended.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Of course humans are still evolving. There isn’t some rarified state of evolutionary nirvana towards which our genes are purposefully marching: evolving is just something we do as a condition of our existence. We can no more stop evolving than an electron can lose its negative charge or a planet can switch off its gravitational pull.

    In fact, the only point at which any species ever stops evolving is if it becomes extinct, so I hope that never happens.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    (follow on to your last words in #88)…or homeopathy, which Dr. Oz (Glenn’s wife probably knows this) has endorsed on the tee-vee. You’ve called it foolishness plenty of times, just because you don’t know how it works. Dr. Oz knows more about medicine than you do. Are you on the tee-vee talking about medicine, Christopher Rose? No, you are not.

    You don’t know it all, Christopher Rose, and may be one day pleasantly surprised to understand things you don’t understand yet–even if you still won’t be able to explain them to anyone else.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Irene, how can Chris possibly know how homeopathy works when it doesn’t?

    And you really should know better than to appeal to authority. Dr Oz may be a competent cardiothoracic surgeon, but he’s a quack when it comes to pretty much anything else.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Dr. Dreadful…thankyou for framing the discussion of evolution in terms of genetics, because that may help people understand what I am trying to say…My contention with Chrisopher Rose about the evolution of the human species is that I see no evidence of some genetic force at work that is causing people to advance spiritually — using the common denominator of peoples’ understanding of spirituality – – in their propensity to treat each other decently, share, to overcome inevitable differences without resorting to bloody aggression.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    re #89, Glenn, no, it’s not interesting at all. That is just faithist cliché #3.

    Irene, faithists “interpret”, aka make stuff up, because they have to in order to “explain” their beliefs. If I wanted to make the point you think I did but actually didn’t at all, I would have said so explicitly.

    If I thought somebody was implying something between the lines of their words, I would ask them if that was what they meant.

    Doc, whilst I agree with your general point, isn’t it the case that sharks have been around for millions of years and aren’t evolving?

    My point is that humanity is a very young species and we are just getting started…

    Irene, I don’t even know who Dr Oz is, but if he or she is arguing that homeopathy works, they are probably bonkers. Note the caveat.

    I will follow the orthodox view of this. “Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine originated in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of similia similibus curentur (“like cures like”), according to which a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people.

    Scientific research has found homeopathic remedies ineffective and their postulated mechanisms of action implausible. The scientific community regards homeopathy as a sham; the American Medical Association considers homeopathy to be quackery and homeopathic remedies have been criticized as unethical…

    The low concentration of homeopathic remedies, which often lack even a single molecule of the diluted substance, has been the basis of questions about the effects of the remedies since the 19th century.

    Modern advocates of homeopathy have suggested that “water has a memory” – that during mixing and succussion, the substance leaves an enduring effect on the water, perhaps a “vibration”, and this produces an effect on the patient. This notion has no scientific support.” Wikipedia.

    Clearly Dr Oz is a liar. Probably.

    I have never, and would never, claim to know it all, but you can be certain that anything I do ever understand I will be able to explain to anybody else.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Irene (@ #94):

    There’s certainly a case to be made that the suppression of H. sapiens‘ propensity for intra-species aggression, and/or the enhancement of that part of the brain that considers ethics and morality, may confer an evolutionary advantage, and that may be the source of Chris’s optimism.

    But it just as certainly isn’t a given.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Doc, whilst I agree with your general point, isn’t it the case that sharks have been around for millions of years and aren’t evolving?

    No, Chris, sharks certainly do still evolve, although such is the success of the general design that there isn’t the environmental pressure to evolve as fast.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    I was being a little silly (but not entirely) about Dr. Oz. I believe in Western medicine, and I don’t like quacks, but I’ve seen non-traditional doctors who aren’t quacks being described as such. Western doctors — who go through a heck of a lot of pain and expense to get their MD’s — are often threatened by the success of anyone using methods they weren’t themselves taught in med school.

    There are many folk treatments that have been used effectively for millenia, and worldwide, too, for those without access to Western medicine still use them. For most of them, there’s been no Western outfit that sees any profit to doing studies to see whether the method really does make a difference, and if so why.

    For the record, I’ve never tried homeopathy, but I’m less likely than some to describe its practitioners as frauds, for the two reasons I’ve named. So I don’t know how seriously to take the article you linked to, Dr. D. He might be right, might not be.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Western doctors — who go through a heck of a lot of pain and expense to get their MD’s — are often threatened by the success of anyone using methods they weren’t themselves taught in med school.

    Doctors possess human failings just like everyone else, so whether or not some of them feel threatened by “alternative” practitioners says absolutely nothing about the efficacy of the latter’s methods.

    There are many folk treatments that have been used effectively for millenia, and worldwide, too, for those without access to Western medicine still use them.

    I’ve yet to hear a Western medical practitioner make a blanket claim that folk treatments don’t work, since clearly many of them do and the mechanism for such treatments can be scientifically explained and demonstrated.

    Moreover, framing things in terms of “herbal” versus “Western” medicine is a false distinction, since many modern medical treatments are derived from natural sources.

    There are many reasons to be sceptical of homeopathy, but the most compelling one is that for it to work in the way its practitioners claim, much of chemistry and physics would have to be wrong.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, that’s a case of a new hybrid species of shark, whereas I meant evolution of an existing species, so technically my point still just about stands, I think.

    So Irene, no acknowledgement that you misunderstood me? No modest apology? Don’t worry, I forgive you anyway!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Chris, did you read all the way through the article, to the bit wherein an evolutionary explanation for why the hybridized species has been found is advanced?

    Speciation is part and parcel of evolution, and there’s no reason why it should involve only the bifurcation of one species into two or more new ones.

    And while sharks as a class have indeed existed for hundreds of millions of years, there are hundreds of shark species in existence today and they are certainly not all the exact same species that were around in the Ordovician period!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, yes, I did, but I still don’t see how it pertains to my point.

    Anyway, I’m off to bed now, so will catch up with you all tomorrow.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Dr. Dreadful (#96), to prove me wrong, not only would Christopher Rose have to show that there is a genetic advantage to ethical and moral behavior (caring about people even if they aren’t securing a future for ones genes) he’d ALSO have to show me that a propensity toward consideration of ethics and morality is a property that is passed down genetically.

    And even if he COULD prove the latter: Highly intelligent psychopaths have keen insight into the ethics and morality of other people — that’s how they can so profitably convince so many of them to fight in their bloody civil possibly global wars, to “defend” an ethical or moral principle. That’s how so many of them manage to convince others to put them into positions of power, where they are able to defeat any evolutionary advantage ethics and morality might have given the species in the first place.

    And that brings my remarks on his comment about evolution and bloody global wars full circle, to the point where I still think I’m right and he still thinks he’s right. Fortunately for my ability to stay optimistic, I am not a reductionist!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Don’t let the bedbugs bite, Christopher Rose.

    (re#100 And you DID get an acknowledgement, in #90, that I’d misunderstood you! You do frighten the children, though, the way you talk.)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    (99) Dr D…But I didn’t say the doctors’ defensiveness about an alternative cure had anything to do with whether or not the method is quackery. I said the defensiveness was one of two factors (the other being threat to profit) that cause legitimate alternatives to be branded as quackery when they should not be.

    Do you see now how you misread that sentence? You may have been focused on disproving homeopathy specifically, rather on my reasons for tending to wait longer than some others to name any practice quackery.

    Yes, Western drugs are often derived from herbs that have been used as cures for centuries. By saying that, you aren’t telling me anything I did’t know, nor are you correcting anything I said.

    The advantage that the Western pharmaceutical has over folk medicine is its ability to manufacture cures that haven’t yet been found in nature, and to standardize dosages. Blanket demonization of “Big Pharm” is as damaging as blanket demonization of distributors of cures not yet FDA approved.

    But the latter type of demonization DOES exist, Dr. D, whether or not you’ve noticed attempts by the FDA and FTC to put up barriers to the promotion of alternative health methods.

    Here’s some work done by a Congressmen, who shall remain nameless, whom both you and Christopher have pronounced “not a whackjob.” You’ve even called him a rare example of an honest politician:

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Health Freedom Protection Act. This bill restores the First Amendment rights of consumers to receive truthful information regarding the benefits of foods and dietary supplements by codifying the First Amendment standards used by federal courts to strike down the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to censor truthful health claims. The Health Freedom Protection Act also stops the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) from censoring truthful health care claims…”

  • Zing zing

    I think Chris might have some misconception about how evolution works… Unless sharks have perfected themselves in an unchanging environment, they must be evolving. They are pretty damned perfect, but it’s a big ocean. Maybe I’m missing the point.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Chris –

    re #89, Glenn, no, it’s not interesting at all. That is just faithist cliché #3.

    So could you then please enlighten us as to how ensuring atheism in a society would lead to a better society? I mean, since you can’t show a single example of such having happened in all human history….

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    As for whether or not homeopathy works, or how it works, I can’t tell you. Dr. Oz says it does, and a good friend claims to have been helped by it when nothing else helped. That’s just anecdotal evidence, I know, and naming Dr. Oz falls under the category of an appeal to authority (but no more so than did your directing me to the article where another author defamed him…) I’m not willing to call my friend deluded, or the person who helped her a charlatan. Not yet. Maybe I will when….LOL…Dr. Ron Paul says homeopathy is quackery.

    Follow the evidence, wherever it leads. Not being able to explain how something works doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, you know that. Maybe some homeopathic cures are legit, and some do no good at all. The bogus-sounding explanations (water memory!) may have been flawed attempts to explain a real phenomenon that we don’t know about yet. Maybe there’s some subatomic particle at work (we’re still discovered new varieties of those…) and some highly sensitive organic entity that reacts to it.

    Anyway, I know that dinner will do me good. So that’s what I’m after now. Good talking with you again.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Golly, Irene, I can’t think which congressman you can possibly be referring to… :-)

    If I misread the sentence it was because you provided no context. I do get what you were saying now, but at that point you had made no reference to your “two factors … that cause legitimate alternatives to be branded as quackery”.

    And if an “alternative” treatment actually is legitimate there is always the potential that it will eventually be scientifically demonstrated to be so. Believe you me, if the pharma corporations spot a potential profit they’ll be funding research and working up clinical trials faster than you can say “aaah”.

    So if Dr P… excuse me, I mean our anonymous congressman… actually does have evidence of some instances where the FDA has tried to “censor truthful health claims”, let’s see them.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Yikes! Dr. D., I read the article. Without paying closer attention, or watching more than a few episodes, I’d gotten the impression the guy ranked right up there with the Surgeon General. Can’t blame the author for claiming Dr. Oz has “crossed the Woo-bicon.” The only thing I can think of to say in his defense now is: maybe he feels that if a placebo is what it takes to make a person feel better psychologically, he’s not going to discredit it, especially if feeling better psychologically will reduce or prevent physical ailments.

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll stick to the cooking shows or PBS children’s programming next time I tune into something while I’m folding laundry at that time of day.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    So I’ll return the favor, you asked for one at the end of #109. Others are continuing the work that the good doctor — you know, that OTHER doctor — started in 2005. Here are some of their reasons.

  • Zing zing

    Glenn, to chris: “So could you then please enlighten us as to how ensuring atheism in a society would lead to a better society?”

    You two need to calm it down and stop taking shit so personal.

    As to your question, Glenn, maybe it would be nice if we, as a society, dealt with reality instead of fantasy. Religion does lead to some morality, but that particular sword cuts both ways to the point where whatever good religion does, it does equal bad. Look at the major ills in the world and tell me how many have religion at their heart. If we could get rid ourselves of oil and religion, we could rid ourselves of most of humanity’s problems.

    “I mean, since you can’t show a single example of such having happened in all human history…”

    I’d like to see what would happen if we gave it a shot. Political agnosticism is an attainable goal. If there is a god, and he’s any good, I doubt he’d be pissed if we just tried to allow all our various interpretations of him to coexist without conflict. Even if that means we basically agree to pretend he doesn’t exist on a political level.

    I hope there is a god, but there’s nothing in this world that makes me think there is. Buddhism seems to be on a better track to illumination, but if one is being honest, hedonism is probably the most rewarding path. Maybe baronius is right about me…

  • yort

    so….what do y’all make of Feuerbach’s thesis that faith – being an essentially solipsistic exercise – precludes human love (materialistically speaking that is)?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    The reason I said that about atheism is that it has been tried – we have had officially atheist societies, and in every single case I can think of, those in charge have committed genocide against their own people: USSR, China, North Korea, Cambodia, and (if to a lesser extent) Vietnam. Maybe Mongolia’s different – I don’t know enough about them to say.

    But the point stands: nations that are officially atheist don’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to human rights. Now you could say it’s not because of the atheism, but because of the totalitarianism disguised as communism, and you’d be right…

    …but the thing about religion is that for those who take it seriously, they know that Someone is watching them and that they will someday have to pay for what they did or failed to do, whereas an atheist doesn’t have that to worry about at all. This is not to say that there aren’t good-hearted atheists – of course there are! – but I think you’d agree with me that it’s a basic flaw in human behavior that a man who doesn’t think he will ever have to answer for what he does is more likely to do things that he’d never do if he thought he would have to answer for those actions. Religion doesn’t ensure that people do the right thing – we all know that monstrous crimes that have been perpetrated in the name of religion over the millenia – but so far, the track record of nations that are officially atheist is even worse.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Glenn, the funny thing about your “officially atheist” nations that have committed genocide is that they are or were nothing of the kind.

    In all of the countries you name, God was replaced by either a personality cult or an allegedly infallible State, and in some cases both. They had an official religion in all but name.

    In contrast, a benevolent godless state would remove religion from government while respecting the rights of those of its citizens who wished to practice it privately. Now, can you think of any countries that are constituted thus? And what their human rights records look like?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Irene (@ #111):

    Your linked article from the Alliance for Natural Health is eerily reminiscent of the arguments used by the folks who want intelligent design to be taught in science classes.

    It claims that what it wants is for the FDA to give consumers the ability to make informed decisions about “natural” remedies; in just the same way as ID proponents claim to want students to make “informed decisions” about whether organisms evolved or were created.

    The reality, of course, is that this is a false equivalency. In the vast majority of cases, natural remedies are supported by nowhere near the amount of scientific evidence and clinical trials that modern medicines are.

    In the case of the example discussed at length, MedaVir, one is moved to wonder why, if the product has indeed “been proven effective by an official FDA phase 2 double-blind clinical trial” and additional research, the manufacturers have not applied for FDA approval.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I usually don’t disagree with you, but this is one of them. Central part of any religion I can think of are prayer (or meditation) to Someone or Something that can hear and act upon that prayer, mystical powers possessed by a deity or deities, and an afterlife that is largely based on one’s deeds in life. Your comparison of personality cults to organized religion does not work, for not even the most powerful personality cults – like those of Stalin or Mao – included any of the above traits of a classic religion.

    My point about the macroscopic results of religious societies versus atheist societies – where in the former it is normal for one to have the belief that Someone just might be looking over one’s shoulder to judge what one does and does not do, as compared to the latter where it is normal for one to ‘know’ that one will never be held accountable in any kind of afterlife – stands.

  • Dr Dreadful

    My point about the macroscopic results of religious societies versus atheist societies – where in the former it is normal for one to have the belief that Someone just might be looking over one’s shoulder to judge what one does and does not do

    Ahem

  • roger nowosielski

    Just like anything about Glenn’s style of “argument,” “officially atheist nations” is just another prop, a strawman, a ploy to create the impression that he’s engaged in deep thought while the underlying purpose is — to circumvent thinking. It was no different with “first-rate non-OPEC nations”; it served the same purpose as the present phrase.

    In fact, to say even that is to give Glenn more credit than he actually deserves, for he certainly doesn’t suspect in the least that his thinking processes aren’t cogent or critical to have to devise anything like a prop in order to cover up for his deficiencies. In his heart of hearts, he truly believes that nearly everything emanating from his mouth is gospel truth.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The point that Glenn is missing, of course, is that where religion has been used to justify war, mass killing or genocide, it has merely been an excuse. If religion had never been invented, it would just have been something else.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone’s belief in an afterlife, communion or divine retribution, and in any case, history has shown that it is amazingly easy to persuade oneself and others that the atrocities are being committed in the name of the higher power one believes in and that he/she/it approves.

    It is this, I believe, that underpins Chris’s argument that the world would be better off without religion.

  • roger nowosielski

    By the same token, however, Chris’s argument is a hypothetical at best — and of little practical value (usefulness?) precisely for that very reason: if it weren’t for religion, it would have been something else.

    There’s no escaping our form of life, in particular, that aspect of it which has us believe in some things to the point of wagering wars, offering excuses, etc.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I think you’d find it difficult, though, Roger, to argue against the proposition that religion is the most effective way ever invented of persuading large numbers of people to do something.

  • roger nowosielski

    Except that perhaps it wasn’t invented — just came by naturally. And then it was made use of . . . say by the powers that be — for any number of purposes.

    A sense of national/ethnic identification is another such source — perhaps as prominent nowadays as religion once was (unless you buy the idea that “War on Terror” is just another religious crusade).

  • Dr Dreadful

    Nationalism is certainly a powerful motivator, Roger, but it’s been a sporadic phenomenon. The concept of the nation-state is fairly new.

    Before the invention of the steam locomotive, any sort of long-distance communication or travel posed enormous difficulties, and while someone who lived 100 miles away from you might share your ethnic background, for all practical purposes he might as well be from Mars. For most of human history your primary loyalties were to your family group, your village or town, and your lord.

    Along with most other successful empires the Romans, who recognized this, left you pretty much to your own devices once their armies had established who was boss, as long as you paid taxes and acknowledged that their governance and laws trumped yours if the two were in conflict.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And the notion that the WOT is a religious conflict isn’t entirely silly. We know it is from one point of view, but from ours… Well, let me just say that as a young Englishman I lived through the worst years of the IRA mainland bombing campaign, and while strong feelings certainly abounded on both sides, there was never the level of hysteria, xenophobia and paranoia we’ve experienced since 9/11.

  • roger nowosielski

    Sure, but it’s a (natural?) extension of our primary, tribal-based loyalties you speak of. And although modern, I think it has at least equaled if not surpassed religion as the source of strife, competition and aggression.

    In any case, I have no dog in this race.

  • roger nowosielski

    @125

    I can’t speak of course for what it looks like from the Muslim’s point of view (though even here, bin-Laden was more moved by political considerations and only used the idea of jihad as a pretext), only from the pov of a (sophisticated?) Westerner. The “hysteria, xenophobia and paranoia,” not to say they aren’t real, are manufactured. And from the US POV, surely a great many other considerations are at stake, in comparison to which, the idea that all of a sudden “civilizations/religions are at war” certainly doesn’t figure in as a major factor except again, as a pretext.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Don’t have time to get into all that Glenn gets wrong about religion vs atheism, since it’s quite a bit and obviously a waste of time, but if religious folks only do good because someone is watching and there’s a reward at the end rather than because it’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t say much for the character of religious folks.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    El B –

    if religious folks only do good because someone is watching and there’s a reward at the end rather than because it’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t say much for the character of religious folks.

    Or does it say something about the character of people in general? After all, is there some kind of biological difference between those who believe and those who don’t? I’ve read somewhere that there is some preliminary indication of such in the brain, but it would not explain way the actions on a nationwide scale…

    …and again, look at the track record of nations that were officially atheist.

  • roger nowosielski

    What has biology got to do with it?

    It’s precisely because biology is of no account here that ELB’s query is well taken.

  • Dr Dreadful

    …And again, religion is a very powerful idea, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s been exploited more often than anything else as a tool of mass persuasion.

    Communism and fascism are also very powerful ideas, and were successful for the same reason as a vehicle to get a lot of people to do very bad things. Belief in a sky jockey has nothing to do with it.

    And I think you need to drop the tu quoques, Glenn. They’re infantile.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    The point that Glenn is missing, of course, is that where religion has been used to justify war, mass killing or genocide, it has merely been an excuse. If religion had never been invented, it would just have been something else.

    That’s an assumption, and a wholly inaccurate one at that. At no time have I ever defended what great evils have been done in the name of religion – the Thirty Years War or the Taiping Rebellion immediately come to mind, the latter of which resulted in at least twice as many deaths as WWI, all in China. I’ve also pointed out several times here and elsewhere that the religion whose adherents have killed the most people in the name of that religion is mainstream “Christianity”, who have killed many, many more people than have those who follow Islam – I can better understand the Muslims’ paranoia than that of mainstream ‘Christians’. I know you understand this from your comment #125.

    Doc, this was in your case a one-off – it’s not your nature to make such assumptions. Leave the making of assumptions to Chris and Roger and myself, okay? We three have all got lots more practice at it than you.

    Nationalism is certainly a powerful motivator, Roger, but it’s been a sporadic phenomenon. The concept of the nation-state is fairly new.

    The first phrase of your first sentence is quite true, but when it comes to the rest…do I really need to go down the list for either one?

    And one more thing, on your link to the ‘surveillance state’ – that’s still not even close to being the same thing and you know it.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Someone “looking over one’s shoulder to judge what one does and doesn’t do”? It’s closer than you’re prepared to admit, Glenn.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And you still managed to miss the point.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    No, Doc, I didn’t miss the point.

    But are you referring, perhaps, to the new research where scientists are able to (very roughly) image a sleeping person’s dreams, and other research where they’re able to show an image of what someone’s thinking?

    Have you ever read Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man? I think it was better than Philip K. Dick’s The Minority Report, both of which at the most basic level concerned a state that was able to know what people are thinking and used that ability to prevent crime.

    I will admit that there is a possibility of that in generations to come…but it is not that way now, and so does not serve to disprove my point about how people believe that their religion looks over their shoulders in a way that government cannot do…or at least cannot do today.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    113–If he’s right, then you’re throwing peanuts to an animal in a zoo whenever you speak to me.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    @ # 135: Yes, you did, Glenn, and created yet another strawman to blow down into the bargain.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Then I’m slow and stupid, Doc – please spoon-feed your point to me so that I can understand what you’re trying to say.

  • Dr Dreadful

    We’re talking about macro effects here, Glenn. Clearly, belief in a potentially retributive god hasn’t stopped a lot of people from doing terrible things; quite the contrary, since they invariably persuade themselves that they’re doing those things for the god.

    It takes, as I said, a big idea to motivate large numbers of people to do evil things, and whether that idea is a crusade, communism or nationalism makes no fundamental difference: the effects are the same. Because we’re talking about the behaviour of groups, your point regarding a personal god looking over one’s shoulder and putting a brake on one’s actions is nothing but a red herring.

    My link to the story about the surveillance culture in China was flippant, I admit, but it does speak to that point.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Thank you for replying – it bugs me greatly when I don’t see what you tell me that I’m missing.

    It takes, as I said, a big idea to motivate large numbers of people to do evil things, and whether that idea is a crusade, communism or nationalism makes no fundamental difference: the effects are the same.

    But while we should be careful about where those big ideas may lead us, we should remember that big ideas (whether political, scientific, or industrial) have gotten us where we are today. I think you’d agree that big ideas are like particularly sharp knives – they can be used for good or for ill.

    Because we’re talking about the behaviour of groups, your point regarding a personal god looking over one’s shoulder and putting a brake on one’s actions is nothing but a red herring.

    Is it? This might be a case of lack of understanding between two well-meaning people. Here’s an example: a few years ago I wanted to start up a medical tourism business, and I was pretty stoked about it. My wife – who is certainly the smarter of the two of us – pointed out that while we might make a lot of money, we would be responsible for anything that went wrong.

    And what she meant by that, Doc, was that all the hold-harmless agreements and insurance in the world didn’t matter. What mattered was that God would know if we failed in any way, and that we would be liable in His eyes for making up for everything that went wrong. Now I know that’s probably silly in your eyes (and certainly so in Chris’ eyes), but that’s how we felt and still feel about it. It’s not that we’re afraid of making things happen – we just opened an Adult Family Home last year – but we just don’t want to set ourselves up for failure in His eyes.

    If I’m guilty of something here, it’s projection – in that I’m assuming that most (but certainly not all) other ‘faithists’ feel the same way about their actions, that they believe there’s always Someone looking over their shoulders and knowing their thoughts and motives. But to give the devil his due, what are we to make, then, of all the monstrous wrong that has done in the name of religion by all those people who believe that God is watching what they do? It’s a hard nut to crack, indeed.

    My link to the story about the surveillance culture in China was flippant, I admit, but it does speak to that point.

    I read about that back in the mid-90’s – it didn’t have anything to do with computer surveillance. It was in a book by Jan Wong (can’t remember which one) wherein she described the lengths that the Chinese society would go to know all about everyone else’s business. She’s a natural-born Canadian who decided to ‘find herself’ in China, and when she went there they assigned her a room. The door had no lock, and when she asked for one the people asked her in return, “Why? Do you have something to hide?” She also related how the old women in seemingly every community seemed to be officially tasked with knowing everything that was going on in every family. All this was long before anyone even dreamt of the “Great Firewall”.

    So I hope I understand what you’re talking about on that account.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I think you sort of get what I’m driving at now, Glenn, but your medical tourism anecdote shows that you still can’t let go of your divine accountability control idea. Once again, what you’re not getting is that the behaviour of individuals is not the same as the behaviour of groups.

    Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot didn’t slaughter all those people because they “knew” there was no God to punish them for it (and even if they had “known”, they would just have reasoned that they were doing it on his behalf). They slaughtered them because they were raving fucking maniacs.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Dr. D. What about a those who believe in a God who cooperates with people who are fighting against evil (why he allows it in the first place is mysterious, granted) at work in the world? What if people see THOSE forces as the objects of God’s retribution?

    Despite what’s been said on these threads, I’m not going to be ashamed of nor am I going to be discouraged about ambitious projects by Christian groups to end extreme poverty by 2035. Methods of doing this include by helping those in poverty get clean water, start their own businesses, protect the natural resources around them through teaching sustainable agriculture methods, stopping human trafficking, etc.

    Will they be telling people about that kind of God while they’re helping them, to encourage them to live that way, too? Yes. I know you don’t like it, and I know you’ll see that as taking advantage of people’s poverty to spread religion.

    But if you like the material changes that are happening, you can be happy that others are joining your efforts to help, in their own way, following the ideals that motivate them. People who believe in God aren’t going to go away soon. Aren’t you glad some of them are committed to doing things you’d consider good, and encouraging others to do the same, rather than doing creating evil? The evil-doers are higher profile.

    OK, now the onslaught will come I guess, but I guess you all have your own evangelizing to do, too, which is your right in a free society.

  • roger nowosielski

    In addition, Glenn may be unaware of the old Roman precept — virtue is its own reward! — if he keeps on insisting that the fact Someone’s watching is the chief motivator of religious or moral behavior.

    Am kinda surprised Irene hadn’t stepped in to steer him clear of this heresy.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I think you sort of get what I’m driving at now, Glenn, but your medical tourism anecdote shows that you still can’t let go of your divine accountability control idea. Once again, what you’re not getting is that the behaviour of individuals is not the same as the behaviour of groups.

    And I’ve pointed out many times that while individual psychology is almost infinitely variable, mass psychology is much easier to predict…which is why it takes a PhD to be a psychologist, but even a politician can move the masses.

    And about the ‘divine accountability’ thing. Sorry, but that’s part and parcel of what Chris would call ‘faithism’. But look at what I said – it’s not ‘control of my actions by divinity’, but ‘self-control encouraged by Someone looking over my shoulder’. There’s a difference.

    Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot didn’t slaughter all those people because they “knew” there was no God to punish them for it (and even if they had “known”, they would just have reasoned that they were doing it on his behalf). They slaughtered them because they were raving fucking maniacs.

    True enough…I could still argue the point, but I’d be doing so from a position of logical disadvantage. I’m not saying that you’re wrong or that I’m right, but that it’s simply more likely that you’re right.

  • roger nowosielski

    “I could still argue the point, but I’d be doing so from a position of logical disadvantage. I’m not saying that you’re wrong or that I’m right, but that it’s simply more likely that you’re right.”

    What kind of weaselly statement is this? What the fuck are you saying here? Do you read out loud what you type?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    In addition, Glenn may be unaware of the old Roman precept — virtue is its own reward! — if he keeps on insisting that the fact Someone’s watching is the chief motivator of religious or moral behavior.

    Where did I say it’s the chief motivator of religious or moral behavior? I don’t think I even implied such.

    Roger, here’s fair warning – I’m going off on another tangent here. How much have you read about, say, the Eastern Front of WWII? It’s was like one long experiment in mass psychology to show just how thin that veneer of civilization really is. Untold millions of people (military and civilian) did horribly cruel and perverse things that they would never, ever have dreamed of doing before the war, and they did it on a grand scale.

    It was like the Milgram Experiment writ large. If you haven’t already done so, you should read up on that particular experiment where regular people (students, at first) were asked to participate in a study wherein they were expected to administer electrical shocks to “students” who got answers wrong. The shocks were up to 450V, and the “students” being shocked would scream in pain.

    The shocks were fake, the “students” were never shocked, and they faked being shocked. The participants themselves were the subjects of the study, the aim of which was to measure the degree to which people would follow the orders of authority…and the results were, well, shocking. This experiment was repeated in different nations and cultures, and while the results did vary somewhat with the cultural norms, there was enough similarity in the results that the author of the study was able to state that:

    Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.

    The point is, we’re all capable of terrible things – given the right motivation, there’s cruel murder in the heart of almost every man. Once that veneer of civilization is stripped away, almost all of us will do things that would horrify us today. What civilization does is to give us the opportunity to show our virtue and to experience that reward to which you referred.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger #145 –

    If you were to refrain from relying on your preconceptions about the motives of others when you read their words, you might find something completely different than what you think you see.

    For instance, read again what I wrote. It’s dense, perhaps, but it says in so many words that Doc and I are not discussing a black-and-white matter, but that he’s probably right, or at least more right than wrong.

    So much of adult discourse is clothed not in black and white, but in shades of gray, Roger – I would have thought you understood that concept by now.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    What about a those who believe in a God who cooperates with people who are fighting against evil (why he allows it in the first place is mysterious, granted) at work in the world? What if people see THOSE forces as the objects of God’s retribution?

    If it motivates them, great. (One would hope that if their God didn’t exist they’d still want to fight evil.) Their actions jibe far better with the avowed precepts of most religions than those of people who think God wants them to kill everybody; although it should be noted that the God of the Semitic scriptures can often be a spiteful so-and-so.

    Despite what’s been said on these threads, I’m not going to be ashamed of nor am I going to be discouraged about ambitious projects by Christian groups to end extreme poverty by 2035. Methods of doing this include by helping those in poverty get clean water, start their own businesses, protect the natural resources around them through teaching sustainable agriculture methods, stopping human trafficking, etc.

    I hope they succeed or at the very least make a difference, although I’m a little cynical, as my city has witnessed numerous and similarly noble projects to end homelessness within/by a defined period of time. Methods of doing this include forming committees, having meetings and writing action plans, the process of which latter seems to take up most of the proclaimed time period.

    This state of affairs will hopefully change since we are graced with a new mayor who seems to have a real commitment to making a dent in homelessness. Regrettably, he’s also an obnoxious prat, which tends to work against him where the city’s Establishment is concerned. We shall see how it turns out.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I hope they succeed or at the very least make a difference, although I’m a little cynical, as my city has witnessed numerous and similarly noble projects to end homelessness within/by a defined period of time. Methods of doing this include forming committees, having meetings and writing action plans, the process of which latter seems to take up most of the proclaimed time period.

    Maybe one day Sisyphus will smarten up and hire a contractor with a crane.

  • roger nowosielski

    “It’s dense, perhaps, but it says in so many words that Doc and I are not discussing a black-and-white matter, but that he’s probably right, or at least more right than wrong.”

    If that’s the meaning or the intent of that convoluted sentence, then why bother saying it? You must suffer from a compulsion of sorts to keep on sputtering out meaningless strings of words just for the hell of it, whether you have a point or not. In this instance, you have no point at all. Still, it doesn’t stop you from going on a diatribe of sorts and why — just to say that you’re not altogether wrong and that someone else may be more right than you are? And you’re calling it “shades of gray,” again, another one of your ploys, a default position, a license to say whatever comes to mind in order … not to lose face.

    It’s not your thinking processes, Glenn, I’m led to surmise, that lead to such obnoxious behavior. It’s a psychological defect of some kind, and I’m ready to stake my life on it if I have to, that makes you so obtuse and so full of yourself.

    Of course I’m not a professional, and not a PhD, so you may readily dismiss what I’m saying as ravings of a lunatic. Still, I’d definitely seek a professional advice if I were you, and I stand by this statement.

    To give you a clue: How do you really relate to your peers? Not the indigenous people you happen to associate or be stuck with, but your peers. And I’m not talking about the twenty some years you’ve spent in the Navy, for that doesn’t count: your rank, whatever it was, would surely cover up any psychological defects you may be suffering from. I mean here and now, not on the BC forum of course, because it doesn’t count, since no one here really knows you, but in real life. Care to say respond to this question?

    Please try to understand that I don’t mean for any part of this comment to be ad hominem, but I’m really at my wit’s ends trying to come to terms with someone like you, which implies of course, trying to take you seriously.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    LOL @ Glenn! Yeah, as Dr. Dreadful says, “mission accomplished” deadlines have come and gone before. They’re great motivators while they’re coming, and tend to be demotivating when they’ve gone. Maybe 2035 will be different, though…or maybe the progress made by then will be significant enough to encourage people to keep on going. Maybe Sisyphus’ new crane will be social media.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    I’ve seen one disappointing Big Online Push for Justice, but I think it’s because one guy took too much of the organizing on himself.

    Anyway, hope your mayor succeeds, Dr. D.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Interesting question. It’s late and I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to answer.

    I admit that’s a question I didn’t expect from you, and I’ll treat it with the respect that it does deserve.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    If you think it’s any of his business, go ahead and answer, Glenn. I think he was a wee bit too hard on you today. And on himself. (Nobody said or thinks you’re trash, Roger.)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    It’s late. And I have my own business to be interfering with. ‘bye

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Of course I’m not a professional, and not a PhD, so you may readily dismiss what I’m saying as ravings of a lunatic. Still, I’d definitely seek a professional advice if I were you, and I stand by this statement.

    To give you a clue: How do you really relate to your peers? Not the indigenous people you happen to associate or be stuck with, but your peers. And I’m not talking about the twenty some years you’ve spent in the Navy, for that doesn’t count: your rank, whatever it was, would surely cover up any psychological defects you may be suffering from. I mean here and now, not on the BC forum of course, because it doesn’t count, since no one here really knows you, but in real life. Care to say respond to this question?

    On a different thread you posted (about 1.5 hours after the above comment) in so many words “never mind, let’s just end any personal discussions.” But I’ll give you a partial answer anyway.

    I thought long about your questions in #150. How do I relate to my peers? Not much at all, and nor do I care to to do so. This is obviously evidence of a psychological problem, right? Accepting that one’s brain “doesn’t work right” isn’t easy.

    Part of it’s the ADD, which is why (as you may have noticed) I hop unexpectedly from subject to subject to subject. I do so because I see connections between those subjects that others don’t see. My youngest son has a more profound case of it than I, and once he began to understand the condition, he began to appreciate it, and to hope his children also have ADD. Unless you have this trait (which I think should not be referred to as a disorder), it’s highly unlikely you could know why I feel it’s more of a benefit than a disorder…but I also realize it’s not easy for those who have to try to keep up with my subject-hopping – they often simply don’t see the connections that are obvious to me.

    Another part of the reason for my lack of a social circle (and my lack of desire for one) is my memory, which is famously faulty. I can remember facts and figures with the best of them – but when it comes to remembering daily taskings and appointments.

    The greatest part of the reason is related to the previous one – I’ve got a moderate case of face blindness, which is a disorder describing varying degress of inability to remember faces. Unless I see someone almost every day for a long time, or unless there’s something really distinctive about a person, I won’t remember his or her face from one week to the next. I’m lucky in that I can remember my wife’s face – whenever I returned off overseas deployment, my chief worry was that I wouldn’t recognize her waiting for me on the pier.

    As you can imagine, that’s a bit of a drag on one’s social life – not only in that it’s hard to remember a person from one week to the next, but also because it limits the interpersonal experiences one has with other people as a whole. In retrospect I was very lucky in joining the military since almost everyone wears a name tag. It wasn’t until after I retired that I began to notice that I even had a problem.

    Once you mix together the face blindness, the memory problems, and the ADD, well, things get a bit interesting not only when it comes to social interaction, but also in the workplace.

    I hope that all helps you to understand why I post the way I do. Frankly, it surprised me that you picked up on the possibility that I don’t get out much, and that’s why I decided to reply.

    But you know what? I’m still a very happy camper. I’m one of the luckiest (or most blessed, depending on how you look at it) people you’ll ever meet. But there’s no need for me to go into that.

    Take care, Roger.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I hope that all helps you to understand why I post the way I do.

    Just as long as you understand, Glenn, that by posting on these threads you disqualify yourself from any special allowance for your congenital cerebral flatulence. :-)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I never asked for any special allowance. If anything, I should be allowing for that of others.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And at least I didn’t list the sleep apnea, the restless leg syndrome (a sleep disorder), the irritable bowel syndrome, the ocular migraines, the gout, the growing inoperable cyst in my right calf, my cartilege-free right knee, and at least a half-dozen other systemic problems.

    Oh, wait – I just did.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Well, I’m sure your wife is a huge fan of those first three, Glenn…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You’ve no idea….

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    They could get around the trade limitations by visiting family. That way, no money could be spent, technically speaking.

  • roger nowosielski

    @156

    When I put that question, Glenn, it was only for your own consideration, surely didn’t expect you to come up with so frank an account. That’s not what I intended or had in mind.

    No, I don’t think of the ADD as a disorder, it’s too easy to keep on labeling people who are different than us rather than having to deal with them. But I do see why, on account of your rather limited social life at present (I’m not certain I put that right), you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, BC, for instance.

  • Clav

    your congenital cerebral flatulence

    Oy.

    Sometimes, Doc…Oh, never mind…

  • Dr Dreadful

    Roger,

    Shouldn’t you have said “putting his eggs in one basket case“?

    :-)

  • roger nowosielski

    No, I’m not being cruel and unusual . . .

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    Note that I didn’t deny Doc’s description of my opinions. I’ve said in so many words before that if he really wanted to, he could wield insults like a skilled fencer does an epee – and on some level I appreciate such more than I do the efforts of those who use insults like a Mongol uses a battle-axe or a bludgeon. Besides, fencers stink a lot less than do Mongols – after all, a Mongol by any other name still smells like a Mongol.

    (couldn’t resist….)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    P.S. – When I say ‘Mongol’, I’m not referring to those of modern-day Mongolia. Please see the “Wrath of the Khans” series by Dan Carlin on his Hardcore History podcast series. Anyone with half an interest in ancient or military history would find it quite interesting.

  • Stan Squires

    I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that Beyonce is well known around the world. She was in Cuba recently and she should be condemning the U.S.Blockade of Cuba.Danny Glover is well known and he is doing the right thing in condemning the U.S.gov. in the way it is treating Cuba.Beyonce should do the same.

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