A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

There’s a very moving film made by Sally Phillips, one of Britain’s popular actors. Sally’s son Olly has Down’s Syndrome, and she’s made a BBC documentary about the wonderful life experiences of having a child with Down’s, and of the value he has for himself, and that which he brings to Sally and her family. It’s very moving. But it also makes a strong case for having children like Olly, and against a world without the condition.

The film is here, on the BBC: A World Without Down’s Syndrome? (BBC programmes are available for a limited time, so watch it while you can)

Thanks to others that brought this to my attention on a Lib Dems site. My response here is for them, but was too long to post directly.

Everyone owes thanks to Sally Phillips for this film. I disagree with some of the messages of the film, and below I refer to Sally and Olly in making my points. I don’t wish to disrespect either of them. All I can say is I am not saying anything that diminishes Olly’s or Sally’s value to themselves, or to the rest of the world.

My position is that there is some completely natural confusion around the subject, and that’s what I want to address here.  Continue reading A World Without Down’s Syndrome?

Lies, Damned Lies, and .. Political Rhetoric

Britain voted to leave the EU, and the 48% British people went all wobbly, then turned into hate filled monsters spewing fire in the direction of the 52% Brexiters, for the hate filled xenophobic racist bigotry some of the 48% perceive in them.

I’ve no way of knowing how many of the 48% have gone crazy with hate, but they are certainly loud. It really isn’t the end of the world for the UK. Look at Aleppo. Remember two World Wars?

We’re damned lucky to live in Britain, even a Brexit Britain. We have to get over our disappointment and deal with it, whether it’s committing to the leave process or trying to persuade the nation to remain in the EU despite the referendum – not such a good idea.

But the haters, with their powder dry, primed and ready to blow, watched the Tory government hold their conference. Correction – the crazies watched and misrepresented, and the gullible lapped up the misrepresentations.

There is always room to criticise a government – none are perfect and there’s always room for improvement, and opportunities to take a different route. That’s what an opposition should focus on. The gross misrepresentations are plain dishonest and bring into disrepute the offenders themselves more than their target.

Amber Rudd gave her conference speech, and despite the text of her speech being available, people seemed to hear things that weren’t said by Rudd, their Babel Fish translators set to Demonic.
Continue reading Lies, Damned Lies, and .. Political Rhetoric

Referendum – Not Such A Good Idea

I used to like the idea of a referendum on big decisions that set the direction of the nation for the foreseeable future. It’s important everyone gets a say, right?

When I was really young and idealistic I looked to a future where the power of computers would allow every voter to have a say on every issue and problem the government faced. Until I realised how chaotic that would be.

But I still thought it was a pretty good idea on big issues like EU membership. I voted in favour every time we had a choice. I’ve gone off the idea. Is it just because I was on the losing side? Or has being on the losing side woken me up to the problem with referendums?

One problem with a referendum is it represents a single snapshot of opinion, influenced by conditions at the moment of the vote, supposedly on one issue, but influenced by many others. Had the UK EU referendum been held before Merkel opened the door to migrants (and not just the minority of refugees) the result could have gone the other way. Had Johnson not made such a hash of it with his Bus NHS millions the Brexit win might have been greater. It’s all down to the moment.

Another problem is that many of us, we the voters, don’t have the technical knowledge to make the right choices. And here for me, like Dawkins, I don’t mind admitting this is the case, even if I do think I have a grasp of many of the issues.

Elected representation for a number of years brings some stability that a referendum cannot. The scientists at Cern don’t have a referendum on what experiments should be run.

And ‘experiment’ is a good analogy. The world is changing all the time, such that any elected government is effectively experimenting with the economy in a set of novel world conditions, and the conditions change throughout the life of a government. And you need bags of expert input when making decisions (not less, Mr Gove).

Not only is a referendum a bad idea in this regard, it could also be argued that all too often governments don’t take enough of an account of expert opinion, letting ideological politics overrule it.

It’s not just the government choosing ideology over good ideas. What’s disappointing about a lot of politics is that oppositions act as if the government should have foreseen and planned for problems that neither the government or the opposition saw coming anyway; or the opposition work to make a government policy fail, and then crow over the fact that it failed. Much of our plolitical rhetoric carries the fortunate weight of hindsight.

Perhaps we need to make the system we have work better, rather than throw it out in favour of a referendum. And perhaps demand better quality members of parliament, and better standards of political behaviour.

One of the principles we hold dear is that elected members should come from a cross section of society and therefore be ‘representative’. Unfortunately that alone isn’t enough, because it ensures some popular but inadequate people can be elected, and their faults become apparent the more important a role they are given in government. Counter to this is the fear of elitism – but in science I want scientists to be the elite of their profession.

To some extent this worry of electing dummies is alleviated by the fact that cabinet positions are determined by the leader, and the leader is chosen by the party. There’s a chance that there are enough sensible people around not to elect a fool. Not iron clad I know, but still better than a referendum, surely.

Corbyn has been elected leader effectively by a referendum of the Labour party membership – anyone with £25 and a bucket of idealistic wishful thinking to spare; and he will now have the power to determine a shadow cabinet. Which will form a destructive rather than a constructive opposition.

So, we (I) have realised that referendums aren’t that helpful.

Is that it? Scrub referendums and let the government decide? Well, no. It should be a parliamentary decision, with free votes – not of that bullying party whip stuff. And perhaps it should be precedded by more expert opinion. Parliamentary committees have a pretty good reputation generally. We should use them more as precursors to big events, rather than for telling us what went wrong after the fact.

Types of Atheism

In arguments with theists and in the books of theologians the theists often proclaim we atheists don’t udnerstand God. Well, it’s a fair comment since theists don’t understand god either – they are inconsistent about it, and often provide really poor explanations of what they mean by ‘god’.

The funny thing  is that while making such a claim about they are not understood, they also go on to tell us what atheism is. They are very often dead wrong.

This is a short and simple explanation, for theists.

Kinds of Atheist

It is worth remembering that the only meaning to ‘atheism’ that makes sense is what is often termed the pejoratively ‘Dictionary Atheism’.

Social Justice Warriors of the PZ Myers school of unthinking have been trying to create a Social Justice Atheism for some time. Myers first went with New Atheism, then flee out with New Atheists. He tried Atheism+ or A+ (any distinction isn’t worth discussing). Who knows what he’s on for now.

The trouble is that ‘atheism’ really is simply ‘a-theism’, as a-symmetric is non-symmetry. Of course you can have symmetry in one direction and not in another. In a similar way you can be atheist in the direction of one religion while atheistic towards all others. Total a-theism is like total a-symmetry – none of it.

Unfortunately ‘atheism’ doesn’t give us the slightest clue about what else one thinks. Here are some some systems and modes of living that are atheistic:

– Humanist – (capital H). Of course the religious can be ‘humanistic’ (small h), but Humanism is a system of principles that relies on evidence and reason and sees neither that convinces us there are any gods. That’s the reason Humanism is atheistic. If it ever turns out there is a god remotely like the gods we are told about by most religions then Humanists will probably oppose such a god’s oppressive and cruel nature.

– Marxist Communist – Since this system included a perspective on religion that wasn’t particularly favourable it is atheistic in nature. Of course you could be a Communist and religious, if you take the socialist political ideology and marry it with a belief in god. Many Christian Democrats seem to manage this quite well – up to a point.

– Psychopath – Given the lack of empathy, and siince excess empathy and a shut down of the analytical brain is required for religious belief it seems likely that psychopaths will on the whole be atheists. Again that would apply mostly if they had the autonomy of not being indoctrinated. And indoctrinated psychopath might simply think of himself as an evil sinner or as possessed by demons.

The problem for SJW Atheism is that atheism is ONLY about a-theism, and any type of non-believer, even really awful ones, can have an atheistic perspective.

Measures of Atheism

There are measures of atheistic claims that range from bad to good.

1 – “I know there is no god. I can just tell. I have a sense for it. I KNOW!” – Such claims to certain knowledge based on no evidence or reason are really inadequate, and such people are best ignored, unless you want to help them overcome their certainty. The same applies for the religious that claim ‘sensus divinitatis’ – i.e. Alvin Plantinga. I would pass him off as the flake and atrociously poor ‘philosopher’ he is, but for the fact that so many people think of him as a philosopher and not just a flaky theologian. Who knows what delusions convince people of his high status.

2 – “I see no evidence of God, so I know there can’t be one. I have faith that there isn’t one.” – Faith is a really poor reason for believing anything, and that applies to atheists too. Of course, they do base that faith on there being no evidence for god, while believers use faith in spite of there being no evidence of a god; so at least they are not that bad.

3 – “I can prove there is no god.” – I doubt it. It’s hard to say whether this is better or worse than faith based atheism. Probably worse in an intelligent person because you know they don’t have a good grasp on reality; slightly less a indictment of a poorly educated person duped into thinking you can prove such things – at least there’s hope they might learn.

4 – “There is no evidence or reason for god – and that’s the only way we know there isn’t one. On that basis I claim there really isn’t one.” – This isn’t that bad. It’s quite pragmatic. It’s only flaw is a technical one: in matters of philosophy and metaphysics you shouldn’t really make solid claims based on the lack of evidence or reason so far. You might be prepared to bet your shirt on there being no god. See next.

5 – “There is no evidence or reason for god – and that’s why it’s reasonable to act ‘as if’ there isn’t a god. It’s reasonable to NOT pretend that religious claims there is one should give credence to the supposed moralistic demands of this unevidence god. … [and so on].” – This is the only strictly logical position to take, though it’s still pragmatically reasonable to take the previous position.

Arguing With Atheists

For the theist making statements like this:

These atheist fundies act exactly like traditional religious fundies in every way, and yet they deny their religion

they really need to come to terms with the fact that they are likely to be arguing with atheists in 4 or 5.

Atheism really isn’t like a religion – unless you stumble upon the rare 1, 2 or 3, but then if there’s a discussion going on rather than a shouting match you’re probably not interacting with one of those.

Some more points a theist my want to consider when engaging with some atheists: My Atheism.

Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

Yet again idiots around the world write clueless articles that incite horendous tweets, one actually suggesting Italians go and shoot up the offices of Charlie Hebdo [sarcastically, I’m assured] .

CharlieHebdo-ItalyMafiaShooting the messenger because YOU don’t get the power of satire? You are squandering the opportunity to address the problem, in such a manner you will fall silent with embarrassment for getting it so wrong (see later).

Amatrice sits in an unstable region of Italy, and this is well known. The techniques to retrofit safety measures to the houses in these old villages is available. It’s not as if it’s a new phenomenon. Accumoli, Posta and Arquata del Tronto.

It’s not Charlie Hebdo that built your homes , it’s the mafia!
Continue reading Amatrice Pasta, Yet Still, Je Suis Charlie

Pseudo-Liberal Double Standards

Pseudo-liberals are supposedly liberals, but they aren’t too fussed about being inconsistent in the way they apply their liberalism. And will employ methods that one would expect of an authoritarian regime, to the extent that one wonders how they would use their power, if the were in fact leaders of a government; or a secret police.
Continue reading Pseudo-Liberal Double Standards

BBC Victoria Derbyshire – Sloppy Islamophobia Journalism

What links the BBC News channel, a prime BBC program & reporter, Victoria Derbyshire, with Catrin Nye, the BBC Asian Network, and a shoddy piece of ‘research’ by Demos and their claims to have exposed 7,000 Islamophobic tweets right after the Nice Westernphobia* Kaffarphobia* attack in Nice?

*All aboard the phobia bandwagon.

The BBC News is the BBC’s TV dedicated news channel. Pretty important, the best of BBC news reporting, you’d think.

When that channel gives over a two hour chunk to one programme, that bears the name of the main presenter, Victoria Derbyshire, you think they’d invested in a pretty reliable and thorough journalist, right?

Well, not quite: …

Continue reading BBC Victoria Derbyshire – Sloppy Islamophobia Journalism

Carl Miller of Demos Still Misfires on ‘Islamophobia’

Carl Miller (@carljackmiller) of Demos, a ‘Cross Party Think Tank’  has produced some research that claims to show spikes in ‘Islamophobic’ tweets around incidents of Islamic terrorism.

There are problems with this research, as ponted out very well in this piece, by Benjamin Jones: Conflating abuse with criticism of Islam risks a return to a UK blasphemy law [1], from the National Secular Society (NSS). One big problem is the word ‘Islamophobia’ and how it is used; which in turn leads to a subsequent problem, the selection and analysis of the tweets used to produce the results.

Carl Miller responded to Benjamin here: Measuring Islamophobia on Twitter [2]. He acknowledges the problem, but then goes on to compound it. Continue reading Carl Miller of Demos Still Misfires on ‘Islamophobia’

Catlicks and Prodidogs

 

Religion’s sectarian influence pervades the minds of children and can persist into adulthood and on into politics, and on across generations.

Heather Hastie’s More Delusions About Religion looks at a news article that tries to distance religion from violence, by trying to convince us that the the Northern Irish Troubles were not about religion. That’s nonsense, and here’s why. Continue reading Catlicks and Prodidogs

I Don’t Like The Labour Party

I haven’t voted Labour for a long time, and even back then I occasionally voted Conservative when I thought that Labour was leaning too far left.

I’ve been watching the Labour internal conflict and it has echoes of earlier decades, just different players. A post I read recently was about the unelectability of Corbyn, and the author mentioned “57 varieties of Trotskyists“. That pretty much says it all. Continue reading I Don’t Like The Labour Party

Clinton Exposes Muslim Victimhood

Hot on the heels of Fireman Sam, Bill Clinton has managed to expose how many Muslims are more interested in Muslim Victimhood and playing the offended and persecuted.

Here’s what Clinton said:

If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you.

Here’s an article from Imraan Siddiqi: Continue reading Clinton Exposes Muslim Victimhood

Fireman Sam Exposes Victimhood of Muslims

I follow the Facebook page of British Asians UK. It has great well balanced articles. Very fair in reporting. A good place to come for honest articles when the mainstream press is too afraid to be un-PC.

But some of the followers do not do it justice. The outrage over a Fireman Sam episode that contained a page depicting script from the Quran just shows, in the context of Islamic terrorism and honour killings, the professional victimhood, and hypocrisy, within our Muslim communities.

There were many sensible Muslim voices too – but it’s setting a low bar when I have to point that out.

None of the Muslims commenting have all the details about the episode, but the importance of this fact is a crucial part of the fiasco that is an embarrassment to any credibility Islam has. Continue reading Fireman Sam Exposes Victimhood of Muslims

Cenk Uygur Misrepresents D’Souza – To His Face

Here I go again, unbelievably defending someone I disargee with: Denesh D’Souza. But Cenk does exactly what he’s done with others – totally twists their words, misrepresents the balance of fact by ignoring the salient facts and screaming the obvious but less relevant facts.

Remember, from here on in this isn’t about the case either is making, though some of the points will be covered, it’s about Cenk’s misrerpesentaiton of D’Souza’s case, right there in front of D’Souza, and D’Souza calls Cenk out on it. Naturally, Cenk passes that by; doesn’t hear it for the challenge it is; even misrepresents that.
Continue reading Cenk Uygur Misrepresents D’Souza – To His Face

George Clooney’s Lake Como Refugees

George Clooney has been done a great job of raising awareness of the plight of refugees. I wonder how committed he is.

Type this into Google:

  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees

Then try this for you ‘respectable’ press (this is for some British news outlets):

  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:bbc.co.uk
  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:independent.co.uk
  • George Clooney Lake Como Refugees site:theguardian.com

Continue reading George Clooney’s Lake Como Refugees

The Cenk Uygur Files

This is becoming such a regular occurrence that it makes you worry about the guy. Hold that thought …. nope, when he’s so malicious in the treatment of his targets my sympathy is not with him, but with them – including Sarah Palin, FFS!

Yes, the voices of reason are actually defending Sarah Palin . Strange? No – when someone is being genuinely misrepresented it does your own case no good if you leave that out there. This is where Cenk and other Regressives go off the rails: the demonisation and misrepresentation they call out in others is exactly what they engage in themselves.

So, the evidence: Cenk’s victims. Continue reading The Cenk Uygur Files

Cenk Uygur – Knucklehead Extraordinaire

Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola jump on the regressive demonising bandwagon and smear a teacher, by saying what she said, then saying she means something entirely different.

 

Many people complained it appeared to be casting blame on women who were raped while drunk. It kept saying it wasn’t blaming those people, but, if you read between the lines …

John has learned well from his Dark Lord master. “Maybe … Just sayin'”

TYT reading between the lines amounts to nothing more than saying the opposite of what the lines say.
Continue reading Cenk Uygur – Knucklehead Extraordinaire

Another Greenwald Attack on The Evil West and its Media

A friend recently asked me why I attacked Glenn Greenwald for his Intercept article Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.

Specifically I was asked:

It’s strange that your focus is on the reputation of the person who wrote and also whether what is said is unique or not. Neither are relevant. Do you agree with what is said?

Where journalistic integrity is known to be lacking it’s worth pointing out to those that might not know, and in this case it is relevant.
Continue reading Another Greenwald Attack on The Evil West and its Media

Total Islamist Whitewash – Incompetent or Brilliant

I can’t figure out whether Emma Green and Shadi Hamid are providing an incompetent interviewer’s apologism for Islam, and an Islamist’s propaganda, or they have colluded to show Islam to be the violent authoritarian political religion it is.

The Meaningless Politics of Liberal Democracies – An interview of Shadi Hamid by Emma Green.
Continue reading Total Islamist Whitewash – Incompetent or Brilliant

Populations in a Secular Liberal Democratic EU – #EUref

This is about the UK referendum on EU membership. It’ll meander back an forth across some issues as it’s more an ideas and concerns barf than a rational argument aimed to persuade, so apologies if it’s a chaotic and incoherent at times. These are the issues that I hear people talking about; issues about populations, migration and sovereignty that are easier to understand than the economic ones that even the ‘experts’ can’t give clear answers to.

Here’s a quick summary, with short videos, that explains the organisation of the EU and the powers of its various bodies. Use it as a primer if you’re not sure what the EU is about: BBC’s EU Introduction.
Continue reading Populations in a Secular Liberal Democratic EU – #EUref