This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comments by smegely

Go to: Free speech and religious fundamentalism

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by smegely

the most draconian restrictions on free speech in the UK are the "anti-hate/racism/sexism" laws?

The Left likes to pretend that such restrictions are irrelevant because nobody should hold the opinions they restrict but that really isn't a defensible position.

Just out of interest, who is this Left who are in favour of those anti-hate laws?

Just a quick search found a lovely article by Peter Tatchell in the Guardian from 2007 being worried that new laws being considered to prevent homophobic speech would attack freedom of speech. If Peter Tatchell and the Guardian aren't representative of the UK Left I don't know who is.

Sat, 09 Jul 2011 19:15:43 UTC | #848014

Go to: Inside a tarantula spider's beating heart

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by smegely

I am always slightly taken aback by the way that such articles have to give some practical applications, as though the pursuit of knowledge was not interesting enough in its own right.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 19:27:35 UTC | #845292

Go to: Phallic Symbols at Denver International Airport

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by smegely

He's clearly obsessed. Has he noticed that his own nose is a phallic symbol? Shouldn't he have it removed?

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:33:49 UTC | #635419

Go to: Ritual Slaughter and Animal Rights

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by smegely

Reminded me of this article on the subject in New Humanist Magazine last year. Which argues that ritual slaughter methods may be more humane than conventional methods.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 13:12:04 UTC | #634704

Go to: [Update - comments by AC Grayling] British academics launch £18,000 college in London

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 203 by smegely

The generous New College scholarship and exhibition schemes ensure that finance should not be a barrier to any talented UK student who wants to apply to New College. The schemes are competitive, based on academic ability and potential, and the scholarships are means-tested.

And yet

assisted places will be offered to 20% of the first year's intake.

So it has been calculated that of the first year's potential intake only 20% would find 18k tuition fees a barrier. I know inflation has made 18k not as much as it used to be, but really?

If it were the case that all applications were assessed on academic potential/merit and then bursaries were awarded independently based only on financial circumstances, then it would be fair, but surely more than 20% would qualify. Presumably the financial model uses the 18k from the wealthy thickos to subsidize the poorer bright kids and that's why the 20% ceiling has had to be put in. The trouble is that, not only is this grossly unfair, but it also undermines the credibility of the institution - an NCHUM degree will not be a badge of excellence, because everyone will know that rich kids can buy one.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 13:06:58 UTC | #634702

Go to: Why Evolution is Difficult: An American Perspective

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by smegely

It's just a minor point, but it niggles: since this was a talk given in the UK, being discussed on the website of a British Professor, why is the date of the talk given in US format?

Sat, 28 May 2011 19:37:17 UTC | #631829

Go to: Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by smegely

Good points Sara12.

Also, the abstinence only approach often takes an "all or nothing" line about saving yourself for that special someone, once it's gone it's gone. Instead of encouraging young adults into making a decision at each and every potential sexual encounter, considering whether or not with this person, at this time, in this place, how etc you want to have sex or not.

Wed, 25 May 2011 13:25:42 UTC | #630758

Go to: Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by smegely

I find the most worrying part of that article

In Richmond, south-west London, the Catholic Children's Society has taken over the £89,000 contract to provide advice to schoolchildren on matters including contraception and pregnancies

Wed, 25 May 2011 12:19:44 UTC | #630729

Go to: Saudi women are being driven to rebellion

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by smegely

Sbooder, can you clarify your point? I am confused as to why you think that the fact that cars are expensive makes banning women from driving them OK.

If drivers are only affordable by wealthy women, surely not having to have a driver would make slightly poorer women free-er then they currently are.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:03:57 UTC | #630359

Go to: France officially bans the burka

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 98 by smegely

Many banks and petrol stations require motorcyclists to remove their crash helmets before entering or approaching the cash desk, simply because it is a face covering that has been used in the past by armed criminals to disguise themselves from CCTV cameras.

Out of interest, I did see a woman in full Niqab recently at Peterborough train station - the interesting thing was that it was bright, cerise, pink, with gold trimming. I spent ages trying to understand quite what the significance of that was supposed to be - "notice me, but not actually me, only my clothes"?

Mon, 11 Apr 2011 19:57:55 UTC | #614142

Go to: Japan quake: "Total, utter, stupid, offensive made-up bollocks in the Daily Mail"

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by smegely

Just thought I'd share NewsBiscuit's take on the subject

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 20:43:16 UTC | #602664

Go to: The Pakistan killings are not about blasphemy

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by smegely

I may be misreading Cohen's article, but it seems to me that the thrust of it is that the Pakistan killings are the fault of liberals outside Pakistan who are not condemning religious ideologies for fear of offending ethnic groups. Aren't the Pakistan killings the fault of illiberals inside Pakistan who are condemning freethinking in order to cement their own religious power-base?

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 19:47:56 UTC | #599451

Go to: Donor 'influenced by guru centre'

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by smegely

The RSPCA case is interesting, and can be read in other newspapers such as the Telegraph, if the Daily Mail makes you physically sick.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 11:01:23 UTC | #592679

Go to: UPDATED: British GCSE exam: evolution FAIL

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by smegely

If you want to see what the criteria are then you can probably find it all in the Science key stage 4 section of Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority.

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 16:18:36 UTC | #592127

Go to: Living Waters newsletter

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by smegely

Didn't 20/20 also come in a blue version? Or was that anti-freeze?

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 19:16:28 UTC | #587995

Go to: Earth's Rotation Changes Zodiac Signs

Go to: The enigma of America's secular roots

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by smegely

Comment 24 by Rtambree: For those who are interested ...

Thank you. I love it when the few bits of history I know anything about join together.

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 20:33:56 UTC | #573802

Go to: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer assassinated in Islamabad

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 83 by smegely

Comment 72 by Dirty Kuffar

Having read the paragraph you refer to in http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/01/09LONDON27.html I am fascinated that the poll that showed that 40% of UK muslim students thought that UK muslims should be under sharia law also found that

only six percent believed that people who leave Islam for another religion should be "punished according to Sharia law" (killed)

Does no-one have any handle on logic any more? Or is this sort of inability to make a logical connection peculiar to the highly religious?

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:28:57 UTC | #573647

Go to: Stargazing Live

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by smegely

Isn't Dara's degree in some sort of physicsy thing?

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 16:44:10 UTC | #573261

Go to: This Remarkable Thing

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by smegely

I enjoyed the first half, the last part became a bit too evangelical for me. I don't disagree with what he was saying, just seemed a little unnecessary to keep banging on. Maybe it's because I already agree with him, and if I was actually a wavering faith-head it might be what I needed to push me that bit more. I've liked it on facebook in the hope that some of my faith-head friends will watch it. I'll see if I get any reactions.

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 16:41:12 UTC | #573259

Go to: Rationality, religion and atheism

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by smegely

I think the deliberate use of slightly obscure language to try to complicate something quite simple is a bit like the resistance the church had to translating the bible into local languages so that it could be understood by the uneducated masses. There was a fear that these masses would lose their faith once they understood what it was they were being asked to believe. Perhaps they did. I think this article is trying to fool the less educated into thinking that there are good rational arguments in favour of religion, by dressing up a substanceless argument in scholarly language. The reader is supposed to go something like "well I don't really understand all of that, but it sounded like a very intelligent thing to say and next time I am confronted by an atheist argument I shall say Kalam's cosomological argument (if I remember what it's called, obviously I didn't actually understand what it was) at it and it'll go away"

Rather patronising really

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 16:14:55 UTC | #573238

Go to: Rationality, religion and atheism

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by smegely

It's interesting that he seems to be arguing that atheist thinking relies solely on science, without logic. And that the human mind is incapable of developing it's own morality. Has he bothered to look at current atheist publications at all?

There is a huge amount of literature devoted to logically disposing of, for example, The Kalam Cosmological argument, which he nods to, and then dismisses. How is that logical?

It is not the intent of this piece to assess any of these, but merely to show that rational arguments do exist, have existed for a long time, and are the subject of serious scholarly debate and discussion.

They may exist, but if they have all been ripped apart by logical means then they are as irrelevant to logic as homeopathy is to evidence-based medicine.

There is also plenty of atheist philosophical discussion of morality, which he seems to be completely unaware of.

But how can the human mind determine good and evil? It will surely lead to a subjective morality?

How does anyone get away with writing an apparently scholarly article without actually bothering to do any research and get it published?

You wouldn't catch Hitchens or Dawkins not bothering to do their homework like that.

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 15:12:59 UTC | #573204

Go to: Stargazing Live

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by smegely

What time and in what direction should we be able to see the Jupiter and Uranus conjunction (UK)? I tried googling but got a load of astrology sites! My eight year old would love to see it, and I'm slightly cautious about her watching Dara O'Briain live in case his language becomes unsuitable (I shall record them anyway for her so I can check them first, she adores Brian Cox).

Mon, 03 Jan 2011 16:51:48 UTC | #572764

Go to: The Coalition must protect the right to be true to our Christian faith

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by smegely

Bloody hell, use of the word intolerance

Christians should not accept intolerance at home

as an argument that Christians should be allowed to be intolerant of gay couples? WTF

Also,

it is common sense to respect Christian values, even when these clash with the prevailing liberal consensus

err, no it's not.

Just because an ancient book of fairy tales says something is right, doesn't make it right.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:51:26 UTC | #570837

Go to: God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by smegely

I'm almost tempted to have a fourth child, but I do think Jonathon Porritt has a point too (I've already "borrowed" one child from a couple of childless friends).

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:06:03 UTC | #570810

Go to: Eight-year-old children publish bee study in Royal Society journal

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by smegely

The peacock thing: I believe the theory is the advantage for the peahen is that her sons will be more brightly coloured and therefore more likely to get mated and reproduce. It's bootstrapping, it only requires a slight preference in the first place, a small mutation I guess, and that becomes bootstrapped over generations to become the amazingly ostentatious colouring we see in peafowl now.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 16:23:04 UTC | #568459

Go to: 'Jesus' Ultrasound Featured In New Billboards

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by smegely

Comment 33 by AlabamaAtheist

AffirmingLife.org (the URL at the bottom of the billboard) is pro-life group. So, if that's not the message that the donors intended, then they must be pissed.

The version of the poster on the churchads.net website is different from the version in the article posted here. It doesn't have the affirminglife.org bit at all. Weird. Perhaps it was removed. The anglican church is not usually associated with such strong opinions.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 19:47:33 UTC | #568096

Go to: 'Jesus' Ultrasound Featured In New Billboards

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by smegely

This is not supposed to be an anti-abortion ad - look on the Christianads.net site which paid for it. There is a statement from the donors explicitly denying any pro or anti abortion message. This article is terribly badly written and apparently un-researched. Notice that it claims that two of the donors were the Church of England and the Anglican Church!

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:52:56 UTC | #567978

Go to: Obituary for John Dawkins

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 134 by smegely

Thank you Prof. Dawkins, fascinating obituaries, as always you write so well. Your family is clearly full of historical figures - I mean that they get involved with the world around them and have an impact on history, and a good impact at that. I suppose it's hard to see the whole shape of a life until a person has died, but it does seem a shame that people are rarely aware of the image they will leave behind them.

Deepest sympathies to you and your family.

Sun, 12 Dec 2010 15:15:42 UTC | #562061

Go to: Obama's stimulus pours millions into faith-based groups

smegely's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by smegely

Maybe it's because I'm not American so am not so steeped in the "separation of church and state" thing, but I don't see why religious buildings becoming more energy efficient is such a bad thing. Surely it's good for everyone (assuming you're not a climate change denying nut-job).

Sat, 04 Dec 2010 18:47:33 UTC | #558486