Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 39

Hey, it's Friday, so let's get into some science.

What is the scientific explanation for religion?

There may be several, but today I want to talk about the theory of "natural selection" as it applies to religion.

I intend to criticize the theory as not standing up to what my eyes and ears are telling me, compared to what the theory urges, and compared to what 87-97 percent of climate scientists tell us.

Let's cut to the chase and look at the theory first:
The near universal appeal of religious belief suggests a biological component to religious beliefs and practices, and science increasingly confirms this view. There is a scientific consensus that our brains have been subject to natural selection. So what survival and reproductive roles might religious beliefs and
Religious Intelligence
practices have played in our evolutionary history? What mechanisms caused the mind to evolve toward religious beliefs and practices?

Today there are two basic explanations offered. One says that religion evolved by natural selection—religion is an adaptation that provides an evolutionary advantage. For example religion may have evolved to enhance social cohesion and cooperation—it may have helped groups survive. The other explanation claims that religious beliefs and practices arose as byproducts of other adaptive traits. For example, intelligence is an adaptation that aids survival. Yet it also forms causal narratives for natural occurrences and postulates the existence of other minds. Thus the idea of hidden Gods explaining natural events was born.
(Religion’s Smart-People Problem, emphasis added). In the past few days I have published two posts which talk about religion.

In those two posts, the topic of conversation is religious views of climate catastrophe (Global Warming / Climate Change Will Generate Dangerous Religion, The Baby Is Not The Bathwater; The Guilty Are Not The Victims).

I want to criticize the hypothesis, set forth in the quote above, that "religion evolved by natural selection—religion is an adaptation that provides an evolutionary advantage."

Yes, the quote is quite general, possibly even an over generalization to the extent that it applies to all religion, however, I intend to limit the criticism to its application toward religious beliefs that apply to global warming induced climate change.

More specifically, I want to focus on those beliefs that "God is doing the climate change if there is any, because human civilization is not capable of doing anything that could change the climate" (Ergo Anthropogenic Deigenic climate change).

Let's use the religious beliefs of two human public figures, Pope Francis and Senator Inhofe, to get the criticism in gear.

Pope Francis is of the faith that anthropogenic climate change is the reality, and that endangering and harming humanity by damaging the Earth is sin (Message of Science & Religion - Western - 2).

Senator Inhofe thinks the Pope is arrogant to have the faith that people could damage the Earth's climate ("the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate").

So, which of those two faiths evolved as a result of natural selection?

Which of those two opposing religious beliefs shows that "religion is an adaptation that provides an evolutionary advantage"?

I don't know about you, but this is one of those places where, as Yogi said, "when you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Have a good weekend.

"Losing My Religion", by R.E.M.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On This Date Some Years Ago

Once upon a time
Occasionally we take a look at the past on Dredd Blog to see how much things are the same or how much things have changed.

One thing going on back then that we did not know about, which we know now, is that psychologists, who are supposed to be doctors were torturing people as if that was their calling (Psychologists Torture).

The stress of 911 developed weird religious reactions in some folks, more so than in others (examples of weirdness: Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 2, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 4).

Anyway, here are three Dredd Blog posts from this date in 2009:

We Killed More Of US Than They Did

In a recent article here we asked who is the enemy, took ourselves back to a very popular president who warned us to beware of militarism, and mused that we would be better off economically if we just invaded ourselves.

The military is very stingy with data which they think puts them in a bad light. For instance, they have not been allowing the public to even view coffins of the dead coming back from Iraq.

But they, for some reason, have had to disclose that suicides killed more soldiers last month than the wars did:
"The Army is investigating a stunning number of suicides in January — a count that could surpass all combat deaths on America's two warfronts last month."
(Fox News). I think we must congratulate them for not covering up this news item.

The old saying that "many hands lighten the load" reminds me that they would do well to let many psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, in and out of the military, take a meaningful look at this trend.

Then do some treatment.

Supreme Arrogance

One of the Supremes who instilled us with Bush II in 2000 via the decision in the still infamous Bush v Gore case, scolded a student who asked him a question during a question and answer session.

Justice Scalia has often said of the Bush v Gore decision, "get over it", when asked about it, as if it was the stare decisis maximus case of all time.

It is as if he has no intellectual position on it, but says we must live with it and that is that. A case that should not be talked about in terms of a good or bad decision?

We are trying to "get over it" Scalia, but your boy just will not go away. His wars are still with us, his voodoo economy is still with us, and his corruption is still with us.

Thank you so much o supreme one for your gift of Bush II to the American people.

One that keeps on giving us pain and suffering to this very day.

President Warns Republicans

The President is becoming relentless in his focus on the political posturing the republicans are conducting.

They seem to think their stonewalling and threatening to filibuster is good politics, but Obama seems to think it is voodoo economics.

He said:
President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession that might prove irreversible, a fresh call to a recalcitrant Congress to move quickly.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the president argued that each day without his stimulus package, now exceeding $900 billion in the Senate, Americans lose more jobs, savings and homes. He painted a bleak picture if lawmakers do nothing.
(The Star, emphasis added). The voters clearly stated which ideas they want and trust and which they do not.

Senate and House republicans seem to have not received that memo yet.

President Obama also issued and executive directive which will put some wind into the sails of the ship of state.

He directed them to use all dispatch to save energy and promulgate regulations toward that end.

That's all folks. Except for a timely song:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Global Warming / Climate Change Will Generate Dangerous Religion

Code Red: Weird Religion Approaches
Most or all of our human religions are engendered when people realize that nothing humans can make or do will cause a difference in a given situation.

Thus, in good times religion is composed of various instances of the more benign word generators and practices.

However, when human endeavors and/or religions cause unintended or unforeseen consequences, "regular crazy" can morph into "crazy on steroids."

In yesterday's post I provided some examples.

Such as Senator Inhofe's statement that "God's still up there", the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

Let's describe it as the cultural amygdala doing what our individual amygdala does under an overdose of stress:
Chronic stress also does bad things to the nervous system. Stress kills neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus and weakens the cables between neurons, so they can’t talk to each other. This impairs the formation and retrieval of long-term memory. The opposite thing happens in the amygdala, which is where we see fear in a brain scanner. In the hippocampus, stress causes stuff to shrivel up. But stress feeds the amygdala. It actually gets bigger. Chronic stress creates a hyper-reactive, hysterical amygdala, and this tells us tons about what stress has to do with anxiety disorders.
(Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3). When a doctor tells a patient that there is nothing more modern medicine can do, and that the patient is going to die, generally an overdose of stress happens.

That individual's normal amygdala becomes a "hysterical amygdala", which can also happen in many strong stressful circumstances way short of impending death.

Those who understand what the amygdala is will understand that code red is the only way to describe the situation of religion based on, or improperly reacting to, a hysterical cultural amygdala.

For example, this is what happened when an individual amygdala got a bit crowded by a tumor:
... [Whitman] killed a receptionist with the butt of his rifle. Two families of tourists came up the stairwell; he shot at them at point-blank range. Then he began to fire indiscriminately from the deck at people below. The first woman he shot was pregnant. As her boyfriend knelt to help her, Whitman shot him as well. He shot pedestrians in the street and an ambulance driver who came to rescue them.

The evening before, Whitman had sat at his typewriter and composed a suicide note:
I don’t really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.
By the time the police shot him dead, Whitman had killed 13 people and wounded 32 more. The story of his rampage dominated national headlines the next day. And when police went to investigate his home for clues, the story became even stranger: in the early hours of the morning on the day of the shooting, he had murdered his mother and stabbed his wife to death in her sleep.
It was after much thought that I decided to kill my wife, Kathy, tonight … I love her dearly, and she has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have. I cannot rationa[l]ly pinpoint any specific reason for doing this …
Along with the shock of the murders lay another, more hidden, surprise: the juxtaposition of his aberrant actions with his unremarkable personal life. Whitman was an Eagle Scout and a former marine, studied architectural engineering at the University of Texas, and briefly worked as a bank teller and volunteered as a scoutmaster for Austin’s Boy Scout Troop 5. As a child, he’d scored 138 on the Stanford-Binet IQ test, placing in the 99th percentile. So after his shooting spree from the University of Texas Tower, everyone wanted answers.

For that matter, so did Whitman. He requested in his suicide note that an autopsy be performed to determine if something had changed in his brain — because he suspected it had.
I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt [overcome by] overwhelming violent impulses. After one session I never saw the Doctor again, and since then I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.
Whitman’s body was taken to the morgue, his skull was put under the bone saw, and the medical examiner lifted the brain from its vault. He discovered that Whitman’s brain harbored a tumor the diameter of a nickel. This tumor, called a glioblastoma, had blossomed from beneath a structure called the thalamus, impinged on the hypothalamus, and compressed a third region called the amygdala.
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala). The delusions, illusions, fears, and psychotic behaviors that can ensue will inevitably lead to strange places.

And during such times, economic strategy, military strategy, social strategy, and even religious strategy is subject to the ensuing madness:
The Church, too, had her place in the feudal system. She too was granted territorial fiefs, became a vassal, possessed immunities. It was the result of her calm, wide sympathy, turning to the new nations, away from the Roman Empire, to which many Christians thought she was irrevocably bound. By the baptism of Clovis she showed the baptism of Constantine had not tied her to the political system. So she created a new world out of chaos, created the paradox of barbarian civilization. In gratitude kings and emperors endowed her with property; and ecclesiastical property has not infrequently brought evils in its train. The result was disputed elections; younger sons of nobles were intruded into bishoprics, at times even into the papacy. Secular princes claimed lay investiture of spiritual offices. The cause of this was feudalism, for a system that had its basis on land tenure was bound at last to enslave a Church that possessed great landed possessions.
(American Feudalism - 2, cf. Mass Suicide & Murder Pact). If the governments continue with their current madness (increasing nuclear weaponry & pollution of air, water, land), it is likely to become a form of unstoppable authoritarianism:
Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want -- which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I'm going to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the nation.
(Authoritarianism: Past And Future Is Now). Authoritarianism can go nowhere if the masses of the citizenry maintain their cool and reject despots.

Keep an eye out, over the next decade, for religious madness of a sort never seen before.

This is the religious sentiment required of hopium based serfdom (a.k.a. "authoritarian followers"):

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Baby Is Not The Bathwater; The Guilty Are Not The Victims

The guy being interviewed in the following video, at the bottom of this post, says god is a maniac and worse.

So, is that blasphemy or rather is it intellectual honesty?

The origin of evil in this world is a controversial subject (like immigration, taxes, religion, accountability, and climate change).

The notion of the origin of evil, in the sense of social power, has been discussed in terms of scientific research and religion on the Toxins of Power blog in times past (A Religious Doctrine For Toxins of Power, 2/3/10; Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3, 1/17/15).

That governments of civilizations could be evil enough to destroy themselves, along with their own citizenry, is unthinkable in many academic persuasions even though when we look around, today, to examine what is supposedly the most advanced state that human civilization has ever reached, we see two threats to the very survival of human civilization: climate change and nuclear war (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5).

These realities today are not out of step with the history of societies of the past:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History,  by Arnold J. Toynbee). Nevertheless, these observations of history are not believed by some people who are called "deniers."

One chief among them, in terms of climate change denial, is Senator Inhofe.

He bases his denial on his perception of god and human civilization:
In 2012, Inhofe's The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was published by WorldNetDaily Books, presenting his global warming conspiracy theory. He said that, because "God's still up there", the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
(Wikipedia, Jim Inhofe, emphasis added). He evidently thinks that all things climate constitute "what He [God] is doing in the climate" unabated and unassisted by human civilization.

Someone taught that to Senator Inhofe, because, as seen by philosophers, "knowledge" is at its fundamental roots, in essence a belief and trust in what other people tell us:
I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students' grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) ...

The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato's right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the "logic" or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.
(The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?). Thus, this belief or trust essence of "knowledge" is something that is not limited to religion.

The Bible, which Inhofe says he uses to derive his beliefs, essentially implies the same thing that Stephen Fry implies, but it seems contrary to Inhofe.

"THE GOD OF THIS AGE has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4, emphasis added)

"Again, THE DEVIL took him to a very high mountain and showed him ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD and their splendor. “ALL THIS I WILL GIVE YOU,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9, emphasis added)

"For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive ..." - Jesus Christ (Matt. 24, emphasis added)
So, who is "the god" of this deadly Anthropocene scene, the Sixth Mass Extinction (Your God Wears Combat Boots, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 4)?

Who controls the weather, and thus by implication, originated climate change (scientists say Petroleum Civilization, Inhofe says it's his God)?

One implication set forth in the scriptures above is that an evil power is the god of "this age", but specifies no exact time frame, except to imply the epoch when a human face is found on human-government bodies.

Inhofe's implication also focuses on a non-human epigovernment of "God," working with individual human governments, to change the climate of the Earth, evidently with "righteous, natural, God made" fossil fuels (Oilah Akbar! Oilah Akbar!; Message of Science & Religion - Western - 2).

Let's consider a few more examples of the nature of beliefs, just to extend the context, such as:
Lucifer is just another name for Satan, who as head of the evil world-system is the real, though invisible, power behind the successive rulers of Tyre, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and all of those evil rulers that we have seen come and go in the history of the world. This passage [Isaiah 14:12-14] goes beyond human history and marks the beginning of sin in the universe and the very fall of Satan in the pristine, sinless spheres before the creation of man.
(Story of Lucifer). A contrary or alternate view considers the nature of evil, using a different analysis:
Throughout its history and teachings, religion has preached the merits of good and condemned the temptations of evil. Good and evil are principles conceived by humankind and exist independently of religions and theology. The idea of evil is deeply embedded in human existence. It feeds on bad morals and harmful, injurious behavior. To think that animals have evil intentions is extremely debatable. Animals kill for survival and weed out the weak among them through natural selection. There are no moral issues within the animal kingdom. In the vast expanse of interstellar space and time there is no evil; only energy as it relates to the Universe. There is nothing evil about planets and stars. It seems, rather, that a mind capable of conscious thought, must introduce the possibility of intended evil. Humans are conditioned to learn the difference between good and bad according to how it relates to society’s survival.
(There is no Devil ... no Hell, emphasis added). But one thing is for sure: if evil exists then it came from somewhere, and thus, evil has an origin.

All wrongs have an origin, then a subsequent history (conflating "history" with "origin" is a common mistake; a mistake because they are composed of different dynamics, i.e., they are not exactly the same).

Justice is the identification of the source of a wrong, then applying some perceived remedy (punishment, rehabilitation, etc.) to the source of the wrong, while avoiding blaming or harming the victims of that wrong.

Justice must replace "Just Us."

Anything short of that is unjust, whether done in a religious context, or done in a secular context.

Interview of Stephen Fry, evidently an atheist, making some of the above points:

Canadian Neil Young describes the evil being brought upon The First Nations, and everyone else ultimately, in his beloved country:

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Common Good - 10

Some of those who focus a very accurate eye upon the economic dynamics of American culture use the word "oligarchy" to describe those dynamics (dynamics which actually constitute what is technically a "plutocracy"). 

The use of "oligarchy" is a ~2,300 year old mistake commenced by Aristotle (Wikipedia: Oligarchy), but it is still in use by a lot of people in the alternate media who contemplate the structures of our "economy."

As the video at the bottom of this post shows, Chris Hedges uses the word "oligarchy" tens of times, as Aristotle was wont to do, in order to describe what is technically a plutocracy (Wikipedia, Plutocracy), not an oligarchy.

The improper use of the term, however, does no damage to his understanding of the Ferengi system (Life In The Ferengi Home World - 3) he is describing.

Truth be known, the economic system is complex, so, analyzing it is somewhat akin to the ancient story of the blind men describing an elephant.

The economic system looks and feels a bit different, depending on the part of it that one uses for an analysis.

For example, I have used the terms "plutocracy", "plutonomy", "wartocracy", "military-oil-media-complex", and "American Feudalism" to describe "it."

IMO, the main thing, in any valid analysis of "it," is to determine what is being done, in terms of doing the common good v. doing the common bad (The Common Good, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Interview of Chris Hedges:

Interview of John Perkins (reformed economic hit-man) ...