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Comments by Jeremy Nel

Go to: Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Jeremy Nel

I still do not know any African country...

I support the general tenor of Igwe's article wholeheartedly, but in South Africa at least, the constitution is explicit about the right to "freedom of religion, thought, belief and opinion" as well as outlawing "advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm". Furthermore, it denies the state or individuals the right to discriminate on the basis or religion or belief. [Legally, not having a religion is the same as having a religion, with regards to these rights.]

I'm not sure about other African countries, but I'd be surprised if a few of them didn't have similar provisions too.

As I said, though, this is not to undermine the central point of the article, which is excellently made.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 13:15:43 UTC | #944959

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Jeremy Nel

@Anaximander - I wouldn't be surprised. "Quantum" is apparently a word about which every idiot has an opinion.

Sat, 26 May 2012 10:13:02 UTC | #943635

Go to: The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Jeremy Nel

A substantial proportion of commenters over at the original site (and indeed even a small percentage here), appear to be amateurs either petulantly or fatuously claiming that Dawkins was wrong – for reasons that I suspect the few experts around these parts may find truly exasperating.

Richard, and indeed anyone else whose is ACTUALLY qualified to competently adjudicate these matters, you should know that not all the amateurs are so haughtily dismissive of these wonderful, but subtle, ideas. (Some of us may even understand them, in no small part thanks to your tireless explanations.)

Sat, 26 May 2012 09:08:57 UTC | #943629

Go to: Q&A: Pell vs Dawkins - April 9, Easter Monday night

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by Jeremy Nel

Well, the "debate" may have been a bit of a damp squib, but the radio interview was OUTSTANDING. Well done, Richard!

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 14:10:59 UTC | #933648

Go to: The spectre of militant secularism

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Jeremy Nel

Superb article.

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 17:15:51 UTC | #928672

Go to: No blood on the carpet. How disappointing. [Also in Polish]

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 93 by Jeremy Nel

Richard, as with last week's article, thanks for setting down your response to the events directly involving you. It's so nice to have your side of the story, since the newspapers are evidently incapable of printing it themselves! I think it's important that their ridiculous assertions are countered, even if you have to do it yourself. What's more, we know the better newspapers read this sort of thing, as when the Times quoted from your "slavery" rebuttal article last week.

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 11:40:55 UTC | #922399

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 284 by Jeremy Nel

Another good comment on one of the websites:

Perhaps Richard Dawkins' ancestor was a good Christian slave owner.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 05:11:54 UTC | #919885

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by Jeremy Nel

You know, as depressing a story as this could have been, I find myself oddly cheered by Richard's account of it. To be able to respond to the "some of your ancestors were slave-owners" slur with a piece of scientific logic all but proving that we all have the genes of slave-owners (and slaves) ... well, it made me chuckle.

I'd like to propose that Richard writes something like a monthly newsletter for this website, so that we may hear his side of the stories that inevitably involve him, rather than just the (usually fatuous) opinions of his detractors. (Such a newsletter could also be used to update us on the good work his charity is doing - its tremendous good work is largely ignored by this website!)


Sat, 18 Feb 2012 18:19:05 UTC | #919316

Go to: Beyond Reasonable Doubt? [Also in Polish]

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Jeremy Nel

Ah, I see Valla has made essentially the same point.

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 17:08:17 UTC | #911748

Go to: Beyond Reasonable Doubt? [Also in Polish]

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Jeremy Nel

I strongly suspect that two judges, forbidden to talk to each other, would have a higher concordance rate than two juries and might even approach 100 percent.

I come from South Africa, and we don't EVER have jury trials here. The court verdicts are entirely decided by a judge (or several judges in certain important circumstances, such as for constitutional issues). Furthermore, In this country, judges are usually chosen on the basis of a distinguished legal career as a barrister or solicitor (or "advocate" and "attorney", as we call them here).

I can't help but think that this is almost always a better way to do things. Instead of 12 LAYMEN potentially deciding the fate of someone's life*, you (hopefully) have a person of legal distinction and above average intellect, who is au fait with the various possible ruses and shenanigans of a court trial. Surely such an individual is better suited to decide matters? I know I'd prefer a judge, rather than a jury, to decide my fate any day - provided I was innocent!

Of course, even this strategy doesn't ameliorate all the problems rightfully illuminated by Richard, but I do think it's step in the right direction. Perhaps we should ALWAYS have at least two independent judges in the South African system. Thoughts?

*Not that we have the death penalty anymore, of course!

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 17:07:34 UTC | #911747

Go to: [Updated 15th Jan]- Atheists have no right... - Atheists face Muslim-led censorship from UCL Union

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Jeremy Nel

No one has the right not to be offended. It's high time people started standing up for their actual rights, which certainly include freedom of expression.

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 10:32:07 UTC | #906834

Go to: RDFRS: Innovating for a Secular World. Help us make this the Season for Reason and a Secular New Year.

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Jeremy Nel

I second Jan's comments. I'm continually surprised by how much of the RDFRS's good work goes unclaimed by the RDFRS itself. Stop being so modest! ;)

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 20:57:24 UTC | #899309

Go to: Lawrence Krauss on Cosmic Connections

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Jeremy Nel

What a wonderful lecture. Thanks for putting this up!

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 19:04:29 UTC | #895363

Go to: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (illustrated by Dave McKean)

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Jeremy Nel

Dear Mr Tudge,

Thank you SO very much for your extremely humorous satire (The Magic of Reality). It was a virtuoso pastiche of all the common fallacies used by religious idiots worldwide, and you even managed to sprinkle in a few egregious errors that I'm sure are destined for stardom.

I haven't laughed so much in ages.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Nel.

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 18:12:10 UTC | #874500

Go to: Thank God

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Jeremy Nel

For what it's worth, it DOESN'T help your hydration status to drink your own urine, if you were already dehydrated when that urine was made. A dehydrated person's urine is EXTREMELY concentrated (technically: up to 1200 mOsmol/L), and drinking this urine is merely ingesting again what the body was trying to rid itself of - with NO net gain of water. In addition, drinking a fluid this concentrated (hypertonic) will actually increase the thirst sensation. It's not smart, and it's NOT recommended by reputable survival guides.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:55:37 UTC | #869723

Go to: The Selfish Gene, a musical

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Jeremy Nel

the prof tries to push the idea that our genes make us selfish

Jesus, the (real) Prof must be tired of this misconception...

Fri, 12 Aug 2011 20:42:20 UTC | #860538

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Dr Yan on genetic ancestry

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Jeremy Nel

That was a lovely, informative interview, but Dr. Yan's opening jarred somewhat:

"We wrote this book"

I presume he's referring to "The Ancestor's Tale", in which case isn't that statement more than a little presumptuous? Dr Yan is credited with co-authoring three or four of the "tales", and with being a more than useful research assistant. But, I'm still not sure I would have been so hasty as to include myself as coauthor of the whole book, had I been in Dr Yan's shoes. Am I just being officious or pedantic?

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 19:20:53 UTC | #619660

Go to: Attempted rescue of pro-life poster child is deeply misguided

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Jeremy Nel

What a brilliant outstanding article by the outstanding Peter Singer.

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 18:37:04 UTC | #605483

Go to: Follow the gourd? No, the shoe, the SHOE!

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 110 by Jeremy Nel

Oh, for GOODNESS' sake, take this as a well meant JOKE, or else find somewhere else to be miserable. This is ridiculous.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 16:29:17 UTC | #587919

Go to: Follow the gourd? No, the shoe, the SHOE!

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 109 by Jeremy Nel

Comment Removed by Author

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 16:26:59 UTC | #587917

Go to: Scientists find that genes have help in determining our traits

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Jeremy Nel

What a depressing article! The article's central premise - that genes "have [newly-discovered] help" in determining our traits - is too bad even to be wrong. Uh, yes, piRNA is a relatively discovery, but:

  1. Genetic effects interact with environmental ones to create our traits. Obviously! The role of environment has been proven for several hundred years (well before people knew what genes were) and postulated since the beginning of history. Literally. So, quite apart from piRNA, the fact that genes get "help" in creating our traits is both banal and well-known.

  2. piRNA is coded for by the genes. The fallacious logic here is akin to saying that genes "have help" in determining our traits from proteins! This is clearly nonsense (genes CODE FOR proteins), and it is similar for piRNA.

There MUST be biologists out there willing to write for - even for free!

Tue, 28 Dec 2010 16:30:35 UTC | #569685

Go to: UPDATED: Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Jeremy Nel

Makes me proud to be an atheist. Thank you, Richard.

Sun, 19 Sep 2010 18:44:22 UTC | #521417

Go to: Richard Dawkins: 'I never meet people who disagree with me'

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Jeremy Nel

Oh dear, we seem to have another horrendous example of a subeditor's headline that is (1) incongruous with the subject of the story and (2) makes Prof. Dawkins' statement seem ridiculous, when the actual quote was perfectly sensible. This is getting tiresome...

Thu, 16 Sep 2010 15:26:01 UTC | #519057

Go to: The Vatican Rag

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Jeremy Nel

Thanks "UKVillaFan" and Richard - another wonderful discovery for me!

Sun, 12 Sep 2010 14:15:21 UTC | #516592

Go to: George C Williams (1926-2010) Obituary link added.

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Jeremy Nel

Such sad news.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 20:20:45 UTC | #514899

Go to: How not to think about kin selection

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Jeremy Nel

Comment 3 by Jerry A. Coyne RETICENTLY??? I think not! That was about as strong a critique of the Nowak et al. paper as I'm willing to mount in public! And I'll have more to say about it.

Jerry, don't you know that 'round these parts we're all so "shrill" and "strident"...?

Sat, 04 Sep 2010 07:27:29 UTC | #511064

Go to: Richard Dawkins calls for arrest of Pope Benedict XVI

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 109 by Jeremy Nel

Bravo Richard!

Sun, 11 Apr 2010 08:45:00 UTC | #457991

Go to: How can you derive an 'ought' from an 'is'?

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 88 by Jeremy Nel


I couldn't agree more with your earlier comment (#477121). I worry that this book is going to fall flat, when in fact the many, many outstanding bits could easily be rescued by some minor editing.

Wed, 07 Apr 2010 11:35:00 UTC | #456681

Go to: The faith trap

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by Jeremy Nel

Re: Richard's last comment - No! The article was extremely clear, the anecdote was illuminating and "apophatuous" is brilliant.

Richard, please don't even consider altering your wonderful style. To bolster my plea, I hereby summon the wonderful Bertrand Russell to offer part of the preface to his "Unpopular Essays":

A word as to the title. In the Preface to my Human Knowledge I said that I was writing not only for professional philosophers, and that "philosophy proper deals with matters of interest to the general educated public." Reviewers took me to task, saying they found parts of the book difficult, and implying that my words were such as to mislead purchasers. I do not wish to expose myself again to this charge; I will therefore confess that there are several sentences in the present volume which some unusually stupid children of ten might find a little puzzling. On this ground I do not claim that the essays are popular; and if not popular, then unpopular.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 11:17:00 UTC | #450777

Go to: I Guess They Could Call It The International Non-Cross

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Jeremy Nel

What a disgusting, hateful article. And so far off the mark! The idea behind setting up "another" charity isn't of course that "faith-based groups are claiming to help the victims while simply using the suffering as a pretext to extol their beliefs" - far from it. Naturally, it is primarily to provide aid for the people of Haiti, only with a secondary goal of (as Mr Berreby quoted but failed to comprehend) correcting "the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow humans."

But perhaps Mr Berreby would prefer it that the money remained in the pockets of the non-believers, rather than allowing the donations to disturb his idle prejudices.

[I've also tried to leave this comment on the original site, but I'm "awaiting moderation". I won't hold my breath.]

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 14:31:00 UTC | #434512