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Comments by rationalmind

Go to: Mitt Romney's Mormon God was a lousy CEO

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by rationalmind

Mitt Romney's god was also illiterate. Not a good trait for a supreme being., The Book of Mor(m)on is supposedly written in the language of the King James bible, but English had developed in the centuries in between and the true author, convicted con-man and womanising sexual predator Joseph Smith, didn't know the meaning of the old verb endings and repeatedly got them muddled up. Thou sayest and He sayeth etc.

The other example is a part of this fraudulent religion's canon of literature. is The Book of Abraham yet another of Smith's bogus translations. Only this time we have absolute proof. It is supposedly a translation of ancient Egyptian scrolls . In fact since we can now read the scrolls, which still exist, we know that it is a funerary document dedicated to the god Horus.

Tue, 22 May 2012 11:42:08 UTC | #942800

Go to: Am I over-reacting?

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by rationalmind

Comment 44 by mmurray :

Comment 42 by pdw709 :

If the school had been more honest as to the true nature of the Abernethy trust and the activites involved I would have had no hesitation in requesting that my son not take part in the "time out" sessions - after all I have paid for the trip myself. At the end of the day the lack of communication is the real issue, and that as a parent I should not have to request/demand/research all this information from the school. I attended an evening lecture designed to fully communicate the pending trip so they had the perfect opportunity to tell me.

Having children exposed to this kind of religious indoctrination is clearly something that should have been very carefully explained to parents and explicit permission should have been obtained. The fault lies entirely with the school.

Michael

I entirely agree. The school should have made it clear. Son of a Muon, I don't know if you are British but, since British society is so generally non-religious, this kind of establishment sounds rather strange and a parent would not expect this from a school trip.

It does make me wonder if the school deliberately failed to mention it. Quite a lot of people would have concerns about sending children off to something, that in British terms, sounds to me rather like a cult.

To fail to mention it is a grave failure. Remember even religious parents might have concerns about sending children off to something run by the wrong kind of religion for them.

It should be raised with the school. They should be made aware that, firstly, it is inappropriate to send children off for religious indoctrination. Just imagine if it was political indoctrination! (Actually, religious indoctrination is often political, they frequently have odd conservative views they want to impart.) Secondly, they should be made aware that some parents object to this kind of mistreatment of their children. If you don't make a fuss it will happen again.

This organisation has a slightly creepy feeling to me. Doing things kids enjoy and then indoctrinating them sounds rather sinister. Do we also know how they regard creationism or discrimination on sex or sexual orientation? These are again political things, in many senses.

Sat, 12 May 2012 16:02:50 UTC | #941198

Go to: Am I over-reacting?

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by rationalmind

No I don't think you are over reacting at all. Perhaps for those who are not from the UK I should recount my own fairly typical experiences in a normal non-faith UK state primary school. This is up to the age of 11. We call the ordinary schools which are free and paid from taxes "state schools" "Public schools" are ones you pay to attend. I know it sounds backwards, but these were once the only schools that any rich member of the public could use.

There would be assembly in the school hall first thing in the morning. There would be prayers and hymn singing and perhaps a talk from the headmaster. This wasn't at all a religious talk. The law mandates a "collective act of worship," so they pay lip service to it. At the end of the day we would put our chairs up on the tables and put our hands together close our eyes whilst the teacher spoke some prayer or other.

However, it really was lip service. I never ever heard a teacher expressing religious ideas outside that context. I now my old primary school doesn't do the morning assembly for everyone now. They have added extra classrooms and there isn't enough room for all the kids to get into the hall.

Incidentally I was never a believer during this period. I had decided it didn't make sense to me at an early age, but I never actually felt that school was indoctrinating me. I would have had a strong reaction against that. Even as a child.

What the incident here is describing is kids being sent away to an overtly religious institution for a while. This is very very different and you are right to be concerned. Make a fuss about not being properly informed!

I would actually check it out. There are faithheads who are teachers. I am told the headmistress of a local primary near me is actually a real evolution denying creationist. One of the mothers complained to me about her. These deluded people are quite rare in the UK.

Fri, 11 May 2012 18:22:50 UTC | #941060

Go to: Protest against the “Punch your gay kids” Pastor – Sean Harris.

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by rationalmind

Comment 40 by DanDare :

I thought inciting violence was a crime in the US? People have phoned the police about this but nothing has happened? Will nothing happen?

I'd suggest an on-line petition to get the police to act, but somehow I don't think they will. They are probably as religious as Harris is and are unlikely to act unless forced by enough complaints. People attracted to authority roles tend to be hostile to those who are different, like gay people. We know this from the research. Sadly it also tends to lead to lower IQs too, which means they are unlikely to see the consequences.

If you want an example this is Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward, who is a famous actor in her own right and reads beautifully, reading from the God Delusion. They give an example of police acting stupidly and ignorantly in favour of a snake oil salesman type faith healer.

Mon, 07 May 2012 13:08:09 UTC | #940296

Go to: Neurons in Bird Brains Encode Earth's Magnetic Field

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by rationalmind

I think the problem of field direction reversal is not insurmountable. It is quite likely that the pigeons use other clues as well as a magnetic sense, for example the position of the sun and how that varies.

It may well be like those experiments where they made someone wear a device that turns vision upside down. (The back of the eye normally receives an upside down image anyway and the brain corrects it.) After a short while their brain adapted to see normally. It may well be that the same kind of factors would work with magnetism, that is to say there is a way for the bird to generally know where north and south are and the brain adapts to refine this using the magnetic sense. Therefore, the polarity of the field isn't really relevant just like the upside down or right side up images in the eye.

Mon, 07 May 2012 12:50:58 UTC | #940291

Go to: Open letter and video re threat to GM Research

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by rationalmind

Comment 71 by Helga Vierich :

There is a rather unfortunate problem with the GM soy, however, which is true also of the GM canola. Both of these have been made resistant to a herbicide called Roundup. This is the one implicated in the decline of Monarch butterfly populations, which was mentioned earlier. The big problem has nought to do with butterflies, however. It is that the weeds are becoming resistant to the Roundup as well. Herbicide resistant pigweed now occupies over 10 million acres in the USA, for instance. Meanwhile, it turns out there might be some unintended environmental and health side effects.

Yes. I am not sure about that health side effects link, but unexpected problems are only to be expected because of the failure to properly look at the ecological side.

I am personally quite worried about GM corn, because in this case, what was inserted into the plant was an insecticide gene sequence taken from a bacterium. That insecticide is actively produced in every cell of the plant. There have been some suggestions that GM maize causes liver damage.

This is a classic example. The bacterium is usually described as a "soil bacterium." Part of this may be marketing. It sounds better than the reality, which is a bacterium that eats its victims from the inside out. Especially in the case of a food item! :-)

The reality is that this is not quite the case and I do wonder if it is partly a consequence of the poor education of scientific people, with regards to evolution, which is prevalent in the USA. The USA is of course where this is happening and where the companies are based.

The bacterium produces a toxin, which is a remarkably specialised tool. Variants exist that specialise in different insect groups as well. After a series of digestive steps it is converted into the active form which makes holes in the insects gut through which the bacterium can gain access. It acts on a specific system like a lock in a key. It produces enough of this substance for it to be extracted and used as an insecticide in its own right. Making holes in an insect gut is alone enough for an insecticide to work.

Evolutionary principles dictate that such a complex and biologically costly protein would be selected against in individuals that do not have a use for it. Therefore, the bacterium's main habitat should be where the compound is of selective advantage to the individual posessing it. This would be where it acts as an insect pathogen not as an ordinary "soil bacterium".

Indeed there are other closely related bacteria in the soil which do appear to live there. It can of course be sometimes extracted from soil, where it exists as spores, but so can another closely releated bacterium, that which causes anthrax. We wouldn't refer to that as a "soil bacterium".

Where this is significant is that putting the toxin into plants will eventually cause resistance. What should really be investigate is what, if any, effect this has on the interactions of the natural pathogenic bacteria on other insect pests? Are we, for example, creating resistance to a natural control of pests?

This has not even been looked at. There is nothing that I have found in the literature where the natural role of the wild bacterium has been researched. This is exactly the problem that many of us have. Those who look at this from the view point of the science of conservation ecology. There is too much concern with the actual nuts and bolts of modification and not enough on the wider consequences.

Sun, 06 May 2012 14:23:29 UTC | #940163

Go to: Open letter and video re threat to GM Research

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by rationalmind

Comment 27 by Al Denelsbeck :

Comment 10 by rationalmind:

What about the link from a GM produced tryptophan source and Eosiniophilia Myalgia Syndrome? What about it? The "link" is not the "cause" - the problem was impurities in processing the supplements, and had little or nothing to do with GM tryptophan. This took less than a minute to find online.

This is game over . You have lost the argument. You have just admitted that you knew so little about this piece of information( despite it actually being a well known phenomenon to those in the field) that you had to go and look it up. Then of course you demonstrated a poor and shallow knowledge of the facts.

The evidence strongly suggests, based on the published literature, that those contaminants were similar compounds to tryptophan which were created as a result of the raised level of tryptophan in the GMOs concerned.

For example the migration of the North American Monarch butterfly is being affected because the milkweed plants that the caterpillars eat are being exterminated by the glyphosate being sprayed on the GM crops. First, it hasn't even been determined that the monarch decline is a real number, since only a few areas can be observed - they may simply be migrating to different areas (not surprising in the slightest concerning the changes in average temperatures.)

Second, the connection between the assumed decline and the milkweed reduction in farmland (which is the only place the glyphosate is sprayed) is in dispute.

Using google as a research tool doesn't equip you to answer someone who is a specialist in this field. Putting it plainly, you do not know what you are talking about. The evidence that GM glyphosate is causing a problem to the monarch butterfly is well known and well established. For example there is a problem with it reducing the fecundity of the females because they have to travel further to lay.

There has been comparison of certain arguments with those of creationists. Rebutting you has the same feel. With creationists I am always aware that I know the subject better and that their arguments are based on poorly researched ideas which violate basic scientific principles. Glyphosate sprayed on the crops kills the foodplant of the monarch butterfly, (before GMOs they could not use such powerful weedkillers because they would also kill the crop.) Consequently there is a worsening of the quality of the habitat. The relationship between habitat quantity and quality, and the level of a population of the animal is a fundamental tenet of ecology your arguing against it with poorly researched information gives me the same feeling as I get when creationists argue against evolution, with things like accusing it of breaking the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. This is just another example of a fundamental tenet of science. To deny or muddle fundamental scientific tentets just demonstrates ignorance.

Or the enormous effect that GM is having in South America where grasslands and rainforest areas are being gobbled up by enormous soy plantations which are grown by the no-till direct seeding method. First off, to even try to promote the idea that soy plants would take over from any form of rainforest is fatuous to the point of insanity.

Again you would benefit from a proper study of the evidence. There are severe problems in South America where habitat destruction is occuring which would not be possible were the crops being grown not the subject of genetic modification. It is not fatuous. It is based on the evidence!

So, distribution is an issue, hampered by costs, politics, and accessibility. What does this have to do with GM crops? Except that some of them are specifically aimed to grow in areas previously inhospitable to them, negating the need for distribution.

All that South American soy is just going to feed cattle to make more "Muck burgers" and generate more obesity which isn't good for people anyway. Save us all some time, and put your mindless rants at the beginning of your posts so we can see the source of your attitude before going any further.

It is well excepted from the scientific evidence that eating high fat foods causes obesity. I dislike fast food because it is bad for my health, so I used a word play. That is all. In response I get an ad-hominem attack from you. I would suggest curbing your evident anger before you post or else what you say just sounds like it is full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Sun, 06 May 2012 13:52:34 UTC | #940155

Go to: Protest against the “Punch your gay kids” Pastor – Sean Harris.

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by rationalmind

Comment 33 by mmurray :

Comment 31 by QuestioningKat :

 [Hey buddy, some kids are born gay.](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTiBv99MYDk)

What an idiot. Some kids are just born this way. He is promoting terrorism for toddlers. Imagine telling parents to punch the stupid out of their mentally delayed kid. Most people today would recognize this as abuse. Unfortunately, gay children are not as obvious, however as the preacher noticed, they sometimes act out in ways similar to the opposite sex. What gay person would choose this life - to be tormented and abused from an early age on. I think the LGBT group should file a class action suit against any church that promotes hatred.

Serious, we need to end all tax breaks for all religions.

And spare a thought also for all the heterosexual boys who don't fit this guys idea of being manly. What a nasty piece of works he is.

Michael

Exactly. He has a very thick-headed idea of what it means to be manly. You have to be all macho and butch etc. A lot of straight guys like me aren't like that, we are thinking types. I got trouble when I was younger because some of my interests in nature were perceived to be a bit sissy, but so what. I got on in life better than some of the bullies anyway!

I can't say that I find his obnoxious sexist picture of a woman very attractive anyway. For me the most attractive part of a woman is her brain. I really mean that. It is pretty much self-evident anyway that you have to like someone's personality, which comes from their brain anyway, but I find intelligence attractive.

It is highly likely that this "pastorbaiter" :-) is gay. There is even research showing the link with homophobia.

Sun, 06 May 2012 12:48:45 UTC | #940144

Go to: Open letter and video re threat to GM Research

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by rationalmind

There is one argument in that video that sounds more typical of the sort of thing you would have heard from Cardinal Pell, during his debate with Richard Dawkins. "We believe that you are in the minority." Well so what? This is really really irrational argument and it really does undermine my credibility in the whole organisation that they let such poor thinking be put out in a public statment like this.

This is a well known logical fallacy called "argument from numbers". It is really annoying to hear scientists making an argument like this. There is a very very simple refutation and if someone doesn't realise this, it undermines my confidence in their ability to think rationally. It seems to me that it is symptomatic of a lack of a degree of critical thinking skills, especially when you would hope the statement as a whole would have been checked.

The simple refutation is this. You cannot argue that something is right or wrong because of the number of people who believe it. It is the evidence that needs to be considered not the number who believe. At one time everyone thought the earth was flat. They were all wrong. If you want another example the consider this one. Atheists are in the minority in America. Does this mean they are wrong?

This is really a very basic error.

(Incidentally, I am aware that even in medieval times people did know the world was round. There were however,times before knowledge and literacy was widespread when the notion of the earth being flat would have seemed correct to most people. The Bible for example contains numerous examples where ideas are expressed from a flat earth perspective.)

Wed, 02 May 2012 15:44:59 UTC | #939047

Go to: Open letter and video re threat to GM Research

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by rationalmind

Comment 3 by Jos Gibbons :

Why are the "unintended consequences" of GM liable to be any greater a threat than the unintended consequences of the ordinary artificial selection that agriculture has used throughout recorded history? At least with GM you know which genes you end up with, which gives you a good idea what phenotypes will result. So far, literally the only bad thing that's happened with GM is that an allergy to Brazil nuts has proven applicable also to the meat of some animals with the relevant nut genes inserted. It hardly seems, for example, a just reason for some poor nations to deny tens of thousands of tonnes of food donations.

That is simply not true. What about the link from a GM produced tryptophan source and Eosiniophilia Myalgia Syndrome? Then there are the biodiversity problems. For example the migration of the North American Monarch butterfly is being affected because the milkweed plants that the caterpillars eat are being exterminated by the glyphosate being sprayed on the GM crops. Or the enormous effect that GM is having in South America where grasslands and rainforest areas are being gobbled up by enormous soy plantations which are grown by the no-till direct seeding method. This method would normally not be possible because of the weed problem, but GM crops allow the spraying of glyphosate.

I'd bet that if you questioned the scientists developing GM crops they would have a very poor knowledge of the technical aspects of ecology. It is not sensible, for our own sakes, for us to treat the earth as if it only exists for our benefit. This is the biblical notion of having "dominion " over the world, and it is the usual claptrap that you get from religion.

We already know that we are diminising the biodiversity at a rate which is not sustainable. This creates environmental damage that will ultimately cause humans to suffer. Climate change is not the only problem caused by the overuse of resources. The biodiversity on the planet is responsible for what is known as "Ecosystem services". This is basically the variety of living organisms and the fundamental life-support services provided by natural ecosystems, without which human civilization would cease to thrive. Ignoring what the science of ecology tells us, and particularly some of the recent work on ecosystem resiliance and its relation to diversity.

Contrary to what is constantly said we are not actually short of food in the world. There are problems caused by global inequality of course, but famines are usually the result of other factors such as war.

All that South American soy is just going to feed cattle to make more "Muck burgers" and generate more obesity which isn't good for people anyway.

Wed, 02 May 2012 15:03:22 UTC | #939030

Go to: Rare Protozoan from Sludge in Norwegian Lake Does Not Fit On Main Branches of Tree of Life

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Comment 8 by AgriculturalAtheist :

Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins :

Irritating, headline-seeking rubbish. This creature may be our most distant eucaryotic cousin, but that makes it a very close cousin compared with bacteria.

Richard

Well that does seem a bit harsh. Is this organism, in fact, not a bacterium?

NO! Bacteria are prokaryotes that lack organelles or a proper nucleus. This is a protozoan. It is a eukaryote with those structures.This is one of the most fundamental differences in life on earth. I'd be the last person to argue from authority as it is not a rational way to make a conclusion. However, I would caution anyone to be VERY sure of their facts before they accuse Richard Dawkins, of all people, of making a mistake concerning a matter involving the evolution of life on earth.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 21:48:19 UTC | #937826

Go to: Rare Protozoan from Sludge in Norwegian Lake Does Not Fit On Main Branches of Tree of Life

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by rationalmind

Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins :

Irritating, headline-seeking rubbish. This creature may be our most distant eucaryotic cousin, but that makes it a very close cousin compared with bacteria.

Richard

Well I'm glad to hear that being said, because I read the article in full before I looked at the comments. I thought to myself whilst reading it, "Hang on, what about the bacteria?"

I am glad that someone so expert, to say the least, confirmed my suspicions.

Disturbingly, the article appears to be copied verbatim from a press release from the University of Oslo.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 19:24:01 UTC | #937798

Go to: Richard Dawkins Has a Point, Your Eminence!

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by rationalmind

Comment 27 by glenister_m :

"It’s so simple even an atheist gets it. "

I thought the idea that 'god doesn't exist' was so simple that Catholics would get it, after all lots of children figure it out. Doesn't seem to be the case though.

I wasn't exposed to catholicism but children really do work this out for themselves. I can remember standing outside the house in which we then lived and telling my mother that I didn't want to go to sunday school because I didn't believe and that science was a better explanation. We moved house when I was young so I know I could not have been more than six years old.

My parents are both humanists now! I brought them up well. :-)

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 16:51:10 UTC | #937771

Go to: Richard Dawkins on Beautiful Minds - BBC Four Wed April 25

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 154 by rationalmind

This was an excellent programme. I really enjoyed it and it was really good hearing all the life story details. I liked it so much that I watched it twice.

It was really good that Richard's old teacher, who was so inspiring to him, was still alive to give an interview. Although, as is typical for any Welsh item, the narrator messed up his name. The screen said "Ioan Thomas" which is pronounced "yo-an" and the narator called him "Ewan".

Richard's writing is so good that I am slowly rereading his works to see what I can learn from his style.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 16:25:55 UTC | #937765

Go to: Dear E. O. Wilson: Please retire or stick to ants

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by rationalmind

As someone who has been fascinated with the natural world since early childhood. I have three great heroes that I would like to meet. One is David Attenborough, who I have been lucky enough to meet and talk to for a while.Another is Richard Dawkins whom I hope to meet someday. The third is E. O. Wilson. I meet him briefly when he gave a talk in London some years ago. A friend managed to get me a ticket and it fitted in with a trip to London.

I think he is wrong I think he is very wrong, but I would also like to look at the nature papers myself. I have access and I will probably dig them out at some point.

The value that such disagreements have though is that they ensure that minds are focused on ensuring that we know the truth.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 19:03:57 UTC | #936325

Go to: Romney to give commencement speech at Falwell’s Liberty University

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by rationalmind

They really are quite literally the "Christian Taliban". Taliban is the Pashto word for "students"

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 14:54:19 UTC | #936035

Go to: Richard Dawkins on Beautiful Minds - BBC Four Wed April 25

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by rationalmind

Comment 9 by InYourFaceNewYorker :

Please, somebody cap this and put it on YouTube!

I am going to be out when this is shown but I will watch it when I get home on BBC Iplayer. Even if someone doesn't do a live capture it is possible to download from all iplayer programmes with some free software, so I am sure this will find its way onto YouTube. There are companies that offer for a relatively small charge to provide you with a Uk IP address to access British television.

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 11:53:38 UTC | #935713

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by rationalmind

Comment 16 by ukantic :

“Prudes,” they would argue, should be upheld as exemplary role models because a sexually repressive society is also a society with fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer sexually transmitted diseases.

What they really mean is that they have a religious based objection (all this, "sinning" rubbish) against other people's private sexual activity, which they then try to legitimise/rationalise by cherry picking out any negative consequences they can get their hands on.

Other examples of such failed and back to front religious logic are:

Creationists, who start with a biblical based conclusion of a young earth and then interpret (i.e. mutilate) all the available evidence to support it.

Jehovah's Witnesses, who start with the conclusion that blood transfusions are prohibited by the Bible and then list the possible complications of the procedure to support it.

What a dreadful thing to happen just because of having a religious delusion.

Incidentally, Jehovah's Witlesses (sic) are , in my experience, creationists too.

I once had the misfortune of opening my door to go out and running slap bang into a pair of them. I criticised their beliefs to them and discovered thet were also creationists, "Evolution is only a theory." I called them illiterate because of that, that didn't seem to phase them. Apparently this cult discourages education! It is OK to be ignorant of basic biology. What did get through to them was telling them to read The God Delusion and particularly that they had an imaginary friend! It rather annoyed them.

This bunch are only a bit worse. Not having blood transfusions is not much nuttier than believing that a wafer turns into the flesh of a 2000 year old jew!

You are right about chery picking. All these religions do it. They even chery pick from the Bible.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 09:58:31 UTC | #935443

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 136 by rationalmind

Comment 130 by Akaei :

Comment 122 by archway

According to philosopher Jacques Maritain, atheism starts in an act of faith in reverse gear and is a full-blown religious commitment.

When the religious attempt to devalue atheism by comparing (defined as: identifying similarities) atheism to religion we are treated to the highest form of entertainment. Where else are tragedy and comedy so fused. It's as if to say "You're an idiot for believing the same way I do."

It's tempting to concede such points just to encourage more unintended self-humiliation. It's almost not worth mentioning he was wrong, let alone how/why. It is unsurprising, given Maritian's misplaced reverence for intuition, that he could so confidently spout such fallacious nonsense.

Thanks for the laugh.

By now there is a standard answer to this nonsense.

Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.

Sun, 15 Apr 2012 14:03:56 UTC | #934833

Go to: Update - Sanal Edamaruku under attack for exposing Catholic "miracle"

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by rationalmind

There is a direct parallel here with "The Miracle of Peckham" an episode of the British comedy series Only Fools and Horses where lovable rogue Derek "Del Boy" Trotter, who runs Trotter's Independent Traders AKA TITCO out of a delapidated 3 wheeled van, visits the local church to have the sin of an unspecified dodgy deal absolved. The father notices a miracle of a weeping virgin Mary statue and Del Boy organises publicity. He charges the world's media a fortune to view the miracle saving the local hospice from the procedes.

The priest suddently notices that the miracle only happens when it is raining and realises why Del Boy wanted his sins absolved. The lead has been stolen off the church roof and water is leaking onto the statue. Del knows this because the lead is in Del's garage courtesy of his two friends Sun Glasses Ron and Paddy the Greek.

In the end the priest thanks Del Boy for conning all the money out of the media to help save the hospice.

It is pretty obvious that a lot of these miracles are easlily explained fakes and the writer of the comedy knew this.

John Sullivan, the late and very much lamented genius behind Only Fools and Horses, was known to use real happenings as tha basis for his stories. The famous priceless chandelier scene, for example, which the BBC have put on YouTube was actually based on a real event which got his own father fired from his job in the 1930s. (If you haven't seen it take a look. It is really good.)

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 10:45:03 UTC | #934375

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 99 by rationalmind

Comment 98 by Mark Jones :

I can't say I noticed a pro-Pell bias too much from the audience. Richard performed fine to me - there's always things one could say better, but I know I couldn't be as articulate as RD in similar circumstances - but the real killer for the theists was Pell's hilarious blundering around every subject that came up. He appears to be a polydaft.

There was definite bias there. As someone who has spoken a lot in public and who has been in the audience of a similar Welsh langauge program where there is more audience participation, it is very obvious. Firstly the microphones may have diminished it from the viewer but the FACES of the audience would also have been more obvious to those on stage. Some people were just laughing because Richard said it and the Cardinal disagreed.

Getting to be a Cardinal doesn't necessarily require a lot of brains. There are a lot of priests who could do the job but they weren't favourites, had the right politics internally etc etc etc. Being a professor usually requires brains. I say usually because in an area that I study I know one who says the most bizarre and silly things, but I suspect that in this case too the job is a quasi-political appointment. However, being a best selling scientific author does require intellect. Even jet lagged Richard Dawkins can trounce Pell , but only if he is allowed to put his point across without being moved to the next question. I'd never heard of Pell until this discussion was mentioned and having heard him and his ideas has hardly been an edifying process. on the other hand Richard is internationally famous.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 16:43:45 UTC | #933693

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 92 by rationalmind

Comment 85 by Richard Dawkins :

On the question of the stacking of the audience by Catholics, the following interesting comment by mitchgarside is reproduced from Pharyngula:

I can shed a little light on the audience, I’m a politically involved uni student in Aus and I heard about this from a few contacts: First some context, the show Q&A is on the ABC, a publicly funded channel, and is principally a political show that attempts to find real balance by having the best of all sides involved (not like the faux balance of many news programs, especially in the US). Hence the audiences are vetted by political leaning to attempt to produce a balanced crowd of right and left leaning, the way they do this is by asking which party you support/vote for when you apply to be in the audience.

This week the Catholic groups on campus discussed plans to stack out Dawkins appearance by applying as both Coalition voters (which would be true, they are our conservatives, yet still closer to the Democrats really, heh) and also as Green party voters (the most left wing party that has seats in Australian Parliament). So they managed to stack out both sides of the audience.

Bearing false witness being a sin doesn’t seem to have come across in this plan.

Well well well, bearing false witness is a sin but lying for Jesus is a virtue :-)

Seriously though ABC should have taken more care not to bias the audience. I am British not Australian. I know the BBC has a complaints procedure. Would it be an idea for some of our Australian colleagues to complain about the audience bias. Surely for this they should have asked a religious question not a directly political one to determine the polarity of potential audience members' beliefs. Is this really what they did as is being suggested?

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:05:47 UTC | #933604

Go to: Richard Dawkins radio interview

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by rationalmind

Comment 2 by hairybreeks :

I hope I have your stamina when I reach my seventies.

I agree!

It was a good interview. I was glad that once again the point was got across that Hitler was actually religious.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 09:08:49 UTC | #933585

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by rationalmind

Comment 66 by raam :

It's always a pleasure to listen to the measured and well-reasoned arguments of Prof Dawkins whom I admire very much. He did well in this debate but he seemed the most irritable I've ever seen him. But so would I be if I had some juveniles erupting into unprovoked laughter just as I was about to make a serious point. Perhaps it was the let-lag. Prof Dawkins, please do some shows in India, which might help spread awareness about science and atheism and help to make these issues more mainstream.

I did detect irritation with the stupidity in the audience. From personal experience I know jet-lag does tend to make people more irritable. It is very understandable though. I think that Richard Dawkins is extraordinarily cool in dealing with stupid people.Take the interview with that dumb woman from Concerned Women For America. I was utterly amazed that he managed not to get irritated with the arrogant and wilful ignorance that she epitomises. I really envy his ability to remain composed in the face of such obvious personifications of the Dunning Kruger Effect.

I would be interesting to go through a script of the programme and look at the vocabulary that the two people used. Pell's English is noticably less erudite and there is a marked contrast between him and Rowan Williams. I know Williams is a deluded faithhead in many respects, but he has a much greater intellect than Pell. As ever Richard's superb command of English was apparent. It is an illustration of why he is a world famous author.

I was good to see the vote at the end and I suspect the audience had been biased away from typical with a lot of faithheads. I really do think that the link between education, intelligence and lack of religiousity was a factor there. There were theists laughing at things because they didn't have the cognitive ability to realise that what was being said was true. Unfortunately when it comes to cognition "cogito ergo sum" ( I think therefore i am) is true but the opposite doesn't hold, there are plenty of people who exist who do not think.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 22:07:06 UTC | #933452

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by rationalmind

Comment 58 by Janet Inglis :

Very entertaining. Despite being laughed at by the Cardinal and putting up with derogatory comments from him, Richard kept a straight face until the Cardinal mentioned how he was "preparing some young boys in England". Priceless.

So far that is the only item that those of us outside Australia can see on Youtube. Just a few seconds someone has recorded off the tv screen. The laughter from the audience shows that the meme of the abusive priest is well established now.,

Pell v Dawkins

I do hope the whole thing ends up on youtube.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 14:09:14 UTC | #933332

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

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by rationalmind

Comment 27 by katy Cordeth :

Richard could do a lot worse than reiterating the late American politician George Butz's famous quip in 1974 about the then Pope's attitude to birth control: "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules".

It was Earl Butz. It is really funny but Butz's racism led to him resigning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Butz

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 23:15:25 UTC | #932963

Go to: Richard Dawkins and his Foundation at the Reason Rally

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by rationalmind

Being British myself I have heard the same thing said by Americans about British accents before. My accent is rather different to Richard's though.

All three are excellent public speakers.

The next speaker on the podium was Cristina Rad, ZOMGitscriss from Youtube. and I feel similarly about her Romanian accent

Reason Rally 2012: Cristina Rad (ZOMGitsCriss)

It was interesting to see good use being made of the Ipsos Mori Poll. There is one thing that has recently occured to me and that is people, particularly those registered for the Telephone Preference Service which stops sales calls but not surveys, refusing to answer the polsters who call them because they have already got fed up of nuisance calls. It seems to me that people registered with the TPS are probably different than those who are not and this could bias things. Just google TPS and Ipsos Mori to see what I mean.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 20:14:33 UTC | #932936

Go to: Q&A for Sean Faircloth "Can Religion Justify Bullying Children"

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by rationalmind

To comment on his point about Santorum being similar to muslim fundamentalists. It is quite simple. These people are just the Christian Taliban. Theocrats everywhere are very similar.

Sat, 07 Apr 2012 06:38:26 UTC | #932856

Go to: Robert Wright promotes accommodationism, disses Dawkins

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by rationalmind

Richard Dawkins is accused of not being reasonable. I believe that this is false. He is absolutely wedded to reason. It is his very being. He has to use reason as a prime means of understanding the world. That is fine, I think, because I do the same thing.

It may well be that his unreasonbleness is not fitting in with tradition and going along with the status quo. Well, we have research on this and it is the mark of intelligence to behave like this.

This kind of unreasonableness was commented upon by the great philosopher George Bernard Shaw who said.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Thank goodness for a man who is "unreasonable" enough to insist on reason!

Fri, 30 Mar 2012 12:24:43 UTC | #931338

Go to: “The Hidden Brain”: Behind your secret racism

rationalmind's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by rationalmind

Comment 3 by Wokkie :

Comment 2 by rationalmind :

Be aware it contains a LOT of bad language

Is it your first day on the internets? :-)

Of course not! I have been using the internet for 3 decades now. I also know that people may be reading this website from a work environment and that for some people watching a video like that in work may pose a problem. Even if the volume is turned off there are subtitles on it. People are probably aware from the nature of the video but it is just worth pointing it out.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 19:29:43 UTC | #929927