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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Comics rally for freedom: Let's LAUGH Canada's "human rights" commissions out of existence!

Guy Earle, the "edgy guy" whose jokes, according to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, are not funny (he is being charged because someone was offended), has just written me to say:

Thought this might be news worthy for you,
and thanks for all the support, by the way!

There will be some talent apearing to support the fight, it should be a doozie!


COMICS FOR FREEDOM RALLY to be held at The Comedy Bar (945B Bloor West) on Saturday, July 19 in Toronto. Canadian Comic, Guy Earle, is holding a benefit show, celebrating 40 years of stand-up comedy, to raise money for his impending Human Rights Tribunal. Guy is being taken before the Human Rights Tribunal based on his comebacks to a heckler during a Vancouver comedy night back in May 2007.

The show is UNIQUE in its format. 40 comics will hit the stage for one minute of raw, uncensored social commentary. Stand-up is the embodiment of FREE SPEECH and this show personifies our right to speak while we still can. The show, on July 19th, starts at 9pm and tickets will be available before the show and at the door for 20$. Comics are invited to register for the show at Supporters for the cause are invited to come to the show or donate at the same homepage. Come one, Come all, but REMEMBER there WILL BE offensive language!

good laughs and best wishes,
Guy Earle

Guy, you are most welcome, and it is interesting to reflect that it would never have crossed my mind to attend late nite comedy until the BC Human Rights Commission decided to get into the business of joke law.

Just because they themselves are a bad joke?

No but, commissioners darlings, ... being a bad joke yourselves means you are NOT funny. So you should NOT be judges of jokes.

More here.

(By the way, at my age, I have heard all the profanity there is. I may even have invented some but choose not to be interviewed on the point. - d.)

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Common descent and uncommon descent - answer to a reader's question

A reader of The Spiritual Brain asks,
... , you write that evolution (i.e., macro-evolution, descent by a common ancestor) is a fact, given the fossil record. Do you really believe this, or this is simply a concession to the scientific establishment, in other words, a disclaimer of sorts that is making sure that your ideas in this book can be taken seriously ...

Well that was grounds for a gourmet cup of coffee!

The Spiritual Brain was an enormous amount of work. Mario and I risked much to maintain what we think the evidence supports about the non-material nature of the human mind.

Anyone who thinks we would complicate our lives by also maintaining positions we do not support ... has a future in writing afternoon soaps, where life is the art of the impossible.

So I wrote back and said,
I am intrigued by the way you put your question, “Do you really believe this?”

It reminds me of the day I was received into the Catholic Church (as an adult).

But I am not sure that a question about common descent should remind me of my reception into the Church. Let me explain why:

I do not have either an emotional or intellectual problem with the idea of common descent of all living things.

As an idea, common descent is very convenient. I would like to think that all the information needed for the universe to unfold was encoded at the Big Bang.

However, convenience does not make an idea accurate to reality. What I would like to think might not be true. The true story might be messy. It might be something I will never know, and I must live with that.

There is evidence for common descent, but the so-called tree of life is such a mess now that I would be more inclined to think of it as the Lego (c) set of life. (Don’t like it this way? Organize it that way then!)

Here is the difficulty: If common descent remains a central idea but the details often collapse in the telling, it may come to be held as a sort of “religious” position.

And that is how it often is held. As I explained in a recent book review, "… this new religious profession [of common descent] helps us understand many peculiar current obsessions of the pop science media - like trying to prove that great apes think like humans, for example.

One must ask, why would it matter so much if great apes don't think like humans? That would not be a blow to common descent of humans and apes because no one maintains that common descent requires detailed similarity or even, for that matter, that similarity is strong evidence of descent.

After all, ravens may also think like humans in certain respects, and no one proposes reorganizing our current ideas about common descent on their account.

It would be closer to the mark to say that seeking such similarities is a religious exercise among those for whom common descent is not so much a convenient explanation of origins as an article of religious faith. "

In other words, in the case of humans and chimpanzees, genetic similarities such as the vitamin C pseudogene and physical similarities are strong evidence for common descent, but similarity of behaviour or mental capacity are not.

That is why I say that obsessive pursuit of such similarities “so that we can learn about ourselves” reveals an underlying tendency among some in our society to treat common descent as a sort of religious truth – and sometimes as a crusade.

Mario and I both think that the non-material nature of the mind is easily demonstrated. If the current science establishment has difficulty accommodating that, so much the worse for the establishment. People who refuse to take us seriously will eventually have to take the evidence seriously, and we are patient people. Cheers, Denyse


Just up at The Mindful Hack

Sociologist: Modernization and secularization are not the same thing - and the difference makes a big difference

The Spiritual Brain: See the Probe article and hear the radio program! Materialism is only a theory but non-materialism is a fact.

Neuroscience: If it sounds unbelievable, don't believe it. And when in doubt, doubt.

(Note: The Mindful Hack is the blog for The Spiritual Brain, of which I am co-author. )

Today at Colliding Universes

Will the rarity of the element lithium endanger the Big Bang theory? Maybe ...

Spacetime more like simple stir fry than elaborate wedding cake?

Could life on Earth be much older than supposed?

Does Mercury really need to exist?

David Warren - further on Frank Tipler ...

Call for Papers: "First International Conference on the Evolution and Development of the Universe."

Cladograms: Reconstructing evolution's history depends on the assumptions you start with

British physicist David Tyler points to a recent paper by L. Vogt in the journal Cladistics which explains why attempts to construct a tree of life are generally unfalsifiable:
Putting this in more popular language, cladists have adopted a variety of rationales to justify giving weight and credence to their evolutionary trees, but these rationales do not survive critical scrutiny if the test is Popper's demarcation criterion for science.

[ ... ]

The debates within evolutionary circles are always about specifics: the broader issues are not debated because they have an axiomatic status. So, evolutionary theorists do not have the mental tools that would allow them to disprove common ancestry, or whether design inferences are warranted. Consequently, it is not unreasonable to conclude, from the perspective of empirical science, that proposed evolutionary scenarios represent not "scientific but metaphysical hypotheses".

The paper suggests that the common science criterion that a theory should be falsifiable (able to be shown to be incorrect) be abandoned where evolution is concerned.

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Learning biology is more fun with free virtual cell animations

At the Molecular and Cell Biology Learning Center, you will find a Virtual Cell Animation Collection
In addition to Virtual Cell's online game modules, animations have been developed to introduce students to new concepts. By walking through the still images and movies included for each topic, viewers can easily choose between either studying a specific step from one of the processes or taking a more immersive look at the process in it's entirety. In order to better serve all levels of educational interest, each topic is being offered with a choice between two approaches:
A great way to learn about protein traffic, photosynthesis, and transcription of genes.


Me? Too hard on social workers?

A reader writes to ask if I am not being too hard on social workers, when I write,

Don't be fooled by the absence of jackboots and rigid salutes. When soldiers introduce fascism, it comes in battledress, with guns. When social workers introduce it, it comes in claims about hurt feelings, with crippling fines, imposed speech bans, and forced reeducation.
The reader knows many social workers who are kind and caring.

I have no doubt of that. So do I.

It is important to remember, however, that compassion is not a virtue in and of itself. That is a major misunderstanding of our times and has led to much grief. So I replied,

... social workers both can be and have been agents of much wrong, in direct proportion to the amount of good they can do.

It is no accident; there is a divine economy in it.

If you doubt the fact base of what I am saying, read up on the eugenics movement. Social workers were front and centre in forced sterilization and worse.

You see, the essential difficulty is that "caring" a lot can lead to good or bad actions.

In Canada today, "caring" people want to make themselves the judges of both a clergyman's sermons and a comedian's jokes - and stop both if they feel that someone, somewhere has been (or might be) hurt by them.

In other words, caring (traditionally, compassion) requires discipline like any other emotion. It is not, in principle, a virtue. It becomes part of the pursuit of virtue when guided by the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude).

So far, the human rights commissions have failed abysmally in the first three of these four virtues. That is, I am afraid, what happens when a society is unloosed from its Christian moorings without adopting any other classical tradition that enables people to check their bearings.
Notice, I didn't say "I'm here to help." I am not. I am stating some facts that bear thinking about.

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