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Comments by Bernard Hurley

Go to: A lawsuit too far?

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 1 by Tyler Durden :

We sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" in my Catholic primary school for one reason, and one reason only.

That's strange, I had always thought that particular song was unashamedly protestant.

Wed, 22 Aug 2012 19:49:49 UTC | #951147

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 233 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 225 by Steve Zara :

What I do believe in ironically comes from your own causal chain. It is self evident and stands out like a sore thumb. If the entire chain must be physical, then, inescapably, awareness must be physical too. That is to say, awareness is a physical thing in its own right.

OK then, how does it result in knowledge about itself ending up in your words? This is where physical dualism, non-physical dualism, supernaturalism, panpsychism and so many other philosophical positions fail. They fail to show how we can have knowledge of them.

I have a computer that can print stuff out but it has no scanner or ocr software so it cannot read the stuff. It can print out a spreadsheet and then print out the message 'This is a print out of a spreadsheet'. It can go on and then print out a pie chart based on this information and print out 'This is a print out of the a pie chart based on the print out of the spreadsheet'. Now just how did the printout's knowledge about itself get into the printout?

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 11:16:15 UTC | #949818

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 231 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 192 by Zeuglodon :

Shunting consciousness aside into, say, a fifth dimension or another realm merely delays this problem, not overcomes it.

Did I suggest otherwise?

Your point about epiphenomenalism suggests that mental processes were caused, but then cut off from the rest of the system so that it had no effect.

Epiphenomenalism precisely is the claim that physical events can cause mental ones but mental events cannot cause physical ones. See: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epiphenomenalism/

I don't think this is a good argument, because a thing that is caused but which has no effect could never induce a body to acknowledge its existence. I could not talk about consciousness if it had no effect on my motor actions, because without an effect or input, how could those motor actions be caused? It's no argument to point to the cause heading towards the mental part, the cause that branches off, because that presupposes that cause has an effect on the rest of the system right before it vanishes into the mental other realm, so you end up back where you started.

You seem to have spectacularly missed the point of what I was saying. I was not trying to defend epiphenomenalism, I was merely pointing out the standard ephiphenomenalist reply to Steve Zara's argument which is a version of the so-called self-stultification argument. I think is a particularly weak argument. (Incidentally, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy disagrees with me about that!)

Another way of putting the standard objection to the argument is this: Imagine the brain to be a group of journalists and imagine consciousness to be the final printed newspaper. The journalists don't need to actually read the newspaper to find out what is in the news because they already have that information. Now suppose yesterday's headline was "Journalists to strike for 24 hours starting at 10.00 am tomorrow" and suppose the journalists actually do go on strike today. An epiphenomenalist would say that to claim consciousness causes motor actions is to make the same mistake as to claim that this headline caused the strike. What's more is that they would still be able to write about the strike tomorrow even if they were forbidden to read the final copy; i.e. even if the cause branches off into the printed realm,as it were. Correlation, even perfect correlation, does not imply causation. I was once on a committee of an organisation that put on series of choral concerts. Even if the brochures we produced corresponded perfectly with what went on in the concerts that would not mean that they had caused the concerts - the performers don't need to read the programme before performing! As I said Steve's argument, which you have merely repeated in another form is not particularly strong. It does express fairly well the intuitive reason most people find epiphenomenalism implausible, and is the first thing many people think of when asked to come up with an argument against epiphenomenalism that doesn't make it a good argument.

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 10:57:11 UTC | #949816

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 189 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 133 by Zeuglodon :

Comment 131 by Bernard Hurley

We already have areas of reverse entropy - in the nuclear hearts of stars converting mass into energy. Life is made possible because of such local reversals, but when all the matter is used up in this way, entropy will win.

Yes, but this misses Boltzmann's point. His point is that the reason entropy will win could be because of the way we experience time. The operative word here is "will". If the direction of increase of entropy actually determines the way we experience time then the second law will be trivially true. But for a being that experiences time in the opposite direction, if there are any, it would not be true. In other words Boltzmann's suggestion is the second law is an artifact of the way we experience time.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 07:26:04 UTC | #949730

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 188 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 133 by Zeuglodon :

Comment 129 by Bernard Hurley

The problem, though, is that consciousness obviously feeds back into the world.

Why do you make the distinction between consciousness and the world? Why do you use this dualistic language? We don't, when speaking literally, say for instance that the light from the sun radiates into the world because we recognise that, what ever the source of this radiation, it is part of the world. No mental phenomena are an aspect of the world; we know as a matter of empirical fact that where there are certain configurations of matter there are mental phenomena.

My consciousness of red and yellow, for instance, doesn't sit apart from the workings of my brain. If I see a red dot, I behave differently to how I would if I saw a yellow dot. A skilled neuroscientist could point out the differences at the level of the brain, and an expert on the EM spectrum could describe the properties of red and yellow light. The result is that I'm conscious of the difference, and this feeds back into my behaviour.

What is this "me" that owns this consciousness? Again you are using dualistic language. This is OK if you are merely doing so because the grammar of our language demands it, but you seem to be saying the somehow there is a "me" that somehow owns the chemistry of the brain but does not own the red dot itself. How do you make this distinction? Where does the boundary of the "me" and the "not me" lie? Is it when the light enters my eye? Is it at the retina? Is it somewhere along the optic nerve? Is it at the retina? A little thought reveals that there is no answer to this question.

Shunting consciousness aside into, say, a fifth dimension or another realm merely delays this problem, not overcomes it.

Did I suggest otherwise?

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 07:10:43 UTC | #949728

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 136 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 108 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Determinism is not in the least bit silly as it is impossible ( as Steve Zara pointed out in an excellent thread some months ago ) for 'free will' to be excercised without it !

That is the totally contradictory absurdity of so-called 'free will'. That 'will' requires causality in order to be excercised.

First let me say that I have never seen what I would consider a reasonable argument either for or against determinism or for or against free will, accordingly I have no opinion on whether free will exists. But I do consider compatibilism to be incoherent and I can't see how one can separate determinism and fatalism except to say that fatalism in the ancient Greek sense is somewhat weaker than determinism. I.e. one could be a fatalist, in that sense, but not a determinist, but could not be both a determinist and not a fatalist.

To say that one could not exercise free will unless determinism were true seems just silly. It is true that some degree of regularity in the world must be assumed if we wish our choices to influence history in particular ways but there is no logical requirement that our actions actually will have the desired effect and in practice it is impossible to guarantee that they will. If I throw a brick through a shop window in order to steal a computer, part of my reasons for doing so are that I believe bricks do tend to smash windows when thrown at them. But there is no logical requirement that it will actually do so. Even if I, the brick thrower, assume determinism to be true, it may not be true in precisely the way required for my action to be successful.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 14:50:11 UTC | #949574

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 132 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 58 by raytoman :

Our brain is just another multi cell organ that we only discovered recently (apparently our consciousness resided in our hearts until very recently (when the earth was flat - about a hundred or so years ago).

You must have incredibly long years! No serious intellectual has thought the earth was flat since the time of Ptolemy and Descartes in the first half of the seventeenth century argued that the seat of the emotions was the brain not the heart and it only seemed like we felt emotions in the heart because there were nerves connecting it to the brain.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:38:33 UTC | #949569

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 131 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 44 by nick keighley :

Comment 25 by Bernard Hurley :

[...] if we look at modern physics as it is applied in cosmology, we use a curious mixture of relativity theory and quantum theory, without having actually reconciled them. Then the second law of thermodynamics is added in to the mix as it cannot be derived from either as they are both time symmetrical. Incidentally, I quite like Bolzmann's suggestion that the second law is an illusion caused by us experiencing time in the direction of increasing entropy.

I know Bolzmann is much smarter tahn me but I don't really see what this adds. A clock advances in the direction of increasing entropy. Our memories operate in the direction of increasining entropy. There is no way to move information fromthe future to the past. So time points int he direction of increasing entropy. So what? In what sense does this make time an illusion? Or the 2LoT?

Boltzmann (sorry I missed out a 't' the first time) argued that over the universe as a whole, entropy might be subject to large scale local fluctuations. We experience entropy as increasing with time, but, he argued, there may be parts of the universe where, from our point of view entropy is decreasing with time. However from the point of view of a being like us in that part of the universe, what we call the forward direction of time is actually the reverse direction. For both of us any local experiment will always confirm the second law but this is merely an artifact of how we define time. Giving this a more modern perspective, some multiverse theorists do claim that different multiverses can have time running in different directions.

I'm not sure what I make of this idea, but I find it intriguing.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:13:51 UTC | #949567

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 129 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 26 by Steve Zara :

Comment 25 by Bernard Hurley

The only reason some insist that there must be more physics is that it feels like there must be, and that's no evidence at all, really.

No, its not, and clearly the onus of proof is upon those who make this claim. But that does not rule this out as a possibiliy.

Not if like David Chalmers you say the interaction went only one way, from physical substance to mental substance.

That's nonsense. If it only goes one way, then how the heck can anything we say about mental substance be justified? If mental substance doesn't go to physical substance, then the nerves which fire when you say something about mental substance can't actually be firing because of mental substance!

It's not clear what you are calling nonsense here. I was not trying to defend Chalmers. My point was that arguments about causal closure don't work against theories like this. Chalmers' theory is basically a form of epiphenomenalism and, in common with all epiphenomenalists he would argue that the mental has no causal effect on the physical.

The thing to bear in mind is that in your brain cells are firing when you think of awareness. Their firing is about awareness, therefore that firing has to be caused by awareness, therefore awareness has to be physical.

This is one of the standard arguments against epiphemomenalism. It usually runs along the lines of: "f the mind is an epiphemomenon, how is it possible to think (a physical activity) about mental states when these mental states can have, by definition, no casual effect on the thoughts?" Hilary Putnam, a property dualist, argues that when you think about a mental state, the mental state and the thought about it have common causes so that the mental state need not be part of the cause of the thought. In other words, the answer to your question is that both the awareness and the thought about the awareness have a common set of physical causes, the awareness itself having no causal effect. In any case thinking about something does not imply that the thing itself has any causal effect, or, even exists. Many people think about God. Does that imply God caused those thoughts or even that there is a God to cause them? Your argument that awareness must be physical is perilously close to the ontological argument.

Personally I think a much stronger argument against epiphenomenalism is the following:

Any theory of mind has to take account of the fact that the mind evolved. (Perhaps I should say "Any theory of mind that does not depend on miracles.... ) Mental phenomena and awareness are not simple things, they are remarkably complex and the the different modes of awareness are remarkably coordinated. The coordination is not perfect and 'mistakes' can be made, for example, when someone feels a pain in the 'wrong' place, the most dramatic example being pain in a phantom limb. But the mere fact that we can identify shows that, for the most part, they do not happen. But it would be absolutely remarkable for this to evolve if mental states could not be causal. After all evolution involves causal feedback.

Of course if you reject the idea that the mind is an epiphenomenon, as I do, and accept that the physical universe must be causally closed then it follows that mental states are physical states of some kind. But for all that this says nothing about what physics has to look like to account for such states.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 12:49:43 UTC | #949564

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 23 by Steve Zara :

No, because we are talking about extra ingredients to physics, not new discoveries about how things behave.

I'm not sure it is possible to make a clear distinction between these ideas. However if we look at modern physics as it is applied in cosmology, we use a curious mixture of relativity theory and quantum theory, without having actually reconciled them. Then the second law of thermodynamics is added in to the mix as it cannot be derived from either as they are both time symmetrical. Incidentally, I quite like Bolzmann's suggestion that the second law is an illusion caused by us experiencing time in the direction of increasing entropy. Speaking of experiencing time, there does not seem to be any reason why we should experience it as flowing rather than, say, experiencing out whole life at once. Maybe we don't need any new physics to deal with this but, if so, it is not obviously so.

No it isn't, and causal closure is precise. It means that every physical event has a physical cause.

Putting it like that is problematical since it assumes that for every event something else which is the cause of it can be identified. That's why I prefer to formulate it Humean terms in terms of descriptions of events falling under universal laws.

It certainly doesn't work with substance dualism because the extra substance would have to interact with conventional substance, and that breaks closure.

Not if like David Chalmers you say the interaction went only one way, from physical substance to mental substance.

It doesn't work with property dualism because property dualism is a load of pig poo. If there are mental properties that co-incide with physical properties, there is no way we could know of them unless they interact with physical properties, and yet the definition of property dualism is that they don't interact.

Well there are several versions of property dualism the most well known being anomalous monism according to which there are no strict psycho-physical laws.

One motivation is to make sense of statements involving reasons instead of causes. Thus on this view "He ate the toast because he felt hungry" is not even a candidate for a causal statement because there is no strict law relating feeling hungry to eating toast. However it can function as an explanation. For causes you have to look to the physics.

Another is the so-called realization problem. Pain may turn out to be realized in a certain way in humans however other animals, aliens or machines may not possess the same structures and yet, under appropriate circumstances, we might still feel justified in saying they are in pain.

It's not a non-sequitur. This isn't about description, but about new physics, about extra ingredients. We have the ingredients of nature sorted out up to the TeV energy scale. We don't look for new particles at the scale of torch battery energies (which is way above that of the processes in the brain), we slam together beams which have the energies of aircraft carriers.

You are mistaking the energy needed for the probe for the energies involved in the processes being investigated. See for instance this quote - it's from Wikipedia but I believe it to be correct:

It is widely believed that any theory of quantum gravity would require extremely high energies to probe directly, higher by orders of magnitude than those that current experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider can attain. This is because strings themselves are expected to be only slightly larger than the Planck length, which is twenty orders of magnitude smaller than the radius of a proton, and high energies are required to probe small length scales. Generally speaking, quantum gravity is difficult to test because the gravity is much weaker than the other forces, and because quantum effects are controlled by Planck's constant h, a very small quantity. As a result, the effects of quantum gravity are extremely weak.

It's pretty simple. If we express ideas because of physical processes (talking, nerve cell firings), then those ideas must be in our brain cells because something has influenced our brain cells.

"2+2=4" is an idea but it isn't anywhere. It may be represented in your brain cells but it does not have to be for you to use it competently. Did you know, for instance, that alligators do not naturally run wild in Norfolk? Is it represented somewhere in your brain cells? Maybe it is now but was it before you read the statement? So did you know it then? The point about knowledge and other ideas is that they are not primarily about representation but about competence. But, although the knowledge is not represented anywhere you would still be able to use it competently. Thus if you came across an alligator while walking your dog you would still be surprised and register this event as something special. Alternatively if someone said he/she saw one you would still display an appropriate degree of skepticism.

..Talking about ideas isn't an abstract process, it's a physical process.

Obviously!

... Therefore any new physics must necessarily influence brain cells, ...

If some new physics is needed to account for the brain then obviously it will involve the brain, but so what?

... and that hits the problem of causal closure, of the Dirac equation.

This last statement just seems like a non-sequitur. Why can't I equally well argue that any new physics "hits the problem of causal closure, of the Dirac equation?" What's so special about brain cells that this problem arises with respect to them but not anywhere else?

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 18:54:45 UTC | #949092

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 17 by Steve Zara :

Comment 15 by logicophilosophicus

Personally I think awareness itself, and probably also volition, will require new physics. I'd certainly regard it as an unwarranted act of faith to assert that the known particles and forces, as of this moment in time, MUST be entirely sufficient to explain free will, intention, purpose, ethics, value and the rest.

I often come across this view. It seems reasonable to some, because when you look at conventional physics it doesn't appear to have what is needed for awareness and so on. However, it doesn't take much thinking to show that this view simply doesn't work.

There seems something odd about this argument. Why couldn't the same thing have been said about the photoelectric effect at the beginning of the 20th century? In this case it did take new physics to account for it.

Firstly, if there is something that seems so strange about awareness that the physics we know doesn't appear to be sufficient, then there is no reason to expect adding more physics will help. The problem is that awareness seems strange and irreducible, so adding more physics which we understand won't assist with removing the strangeness or make it seem any less irreducible.

The argument here cuts both ways. It could be taken as an argument for the absolute irreducibility of mental phenomena as you are arguing that if present day physics will does not account for the mental then no physics ever will. One who thought that such reduction is impossible would agree with you here.

Secondly, awareness cannot in fact be irreducible. We have evidence of its reducibility from the fact of us being able to talk about it!

I don't understand what you are trying to say here.It looks like a non-sequitur to me, but I will see if your elucidation helps:

Talking about it arises from the firing of neurons in the brain, and so awareness must, through its presence, mean that some brain cells are active that otherwise would not be, and therefore there must be some aspect of awareness that involves normal physics, because brain cells don't fire because of magic.

I still don't see what you are getting at. I don't think even Descartes would disagree that "there must be some aspect of awareness that involves normal physics." And I don't see that someone who thought that some new physical principles were needed to account for awareness would be committed to the thesis that brain cells can fire because of magic.

Thirdly, because brain cells don't fire because of magic, there can't be any physical evidence for any new physics.

If brain cells don't fire because of magic, then if some new physics is needed to account for it then we would expect to be able to find physical evidence for it. In other words it is, in the end, an empirical fact whether there is any new physics.

Because brain cells don't break the principle of conservation of energy, any new physics must have effects that when summed up add to precisely zero. It must have the same effect as nothing.

This is a very curious thing to say. Couldn't a similar argument be used to preclude any advances in physics whatsoever?

The third reason is called 'causal closure', and is why only a minority of philosophers now accept the idea of dualism, that there is more going on than conventional brain activity.

'Causal closure' is a somewhat vague term. It seems to mean something like "Every event in the physical universe has a description according to which it falls under some universal scientific law." It is quite possible to accept that and to accept either property dualism or substance dualism.

There is another reason to reject the idea of new physics, and involves the recent discovery of the Higgs boson! This discovery means that we understand physics pretty well up to energies a million million times higher than anything that happens in the brain.

Another non-sequitur. You might as well argue that because relativity theory is quite good at describing the behaviour of galaxies that are millions of times larger than elementary particles it must be good at describing their behaviour too.

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 14:59:04 UTC | #949065

Go to: Ghost seance goes wrong

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Bernard Hurley

It sounds like a great film to me and it would be a pity to abandon it as the children will be disappointed after the work they have put in to it. I have taught in primary and secondary schools, further education colleges and universities in the UK and in all situations where conflicts have arisen I have always considered my prime duty to be towards my students. Something like this would make me want to fight even harder.

Tue, 15 May 2012 21:36:48 UTC | #941698

Go to: Pseudoscience harming unis - journal

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Bernard Hurley

Shouldn't we call the schools that teach this rubbish Wooniversities?

Mon, 05 Mar 2012 07:59:31 UTC | #924532

Go to: Church 'does not own marriage'

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by Bernard Hurley

I believe at present the law is that a C of E vicar cannot legally refuse to marry a couple, who could legally marry, if one lives in the parish and has lived there continuously for over a certain time and neither is a divorcee with the ex-spouse still living. If this is so, and I am not absolutely certain, but my source was a C of E vicar, then this means just merely allowing same sex marriages would force to C of E to marry gay couples. However I suspect that any bill will and up with all sorts of caveats to deal with "anomalies."

Sat, 25 Feb 2012 18:09:05 UTC | #921871

Go to: BBC RADIO 4 PHONE IN THIS MORNING: IS RELIGION IN THE UK BEING ERODED?

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 32 by sycorax :

What is Warsi's real agenda.?

Sainthood?

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 20:53:11 UTC | #920513

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

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by Bernard Hurley

Adam Lusher owes more to evolutionary biology than he would care to admit.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 15:58:42 UTC | #919250

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

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 25 by Ivan The Not So Bad :

No-one by the name of Adam on the list of Telegraph journalists.

Could be a freelancer. Or someone on the run from the local asylum.

He has published five articles in the Telegraph so far this year. Links to them are here: http://journalisted.com/adam-lusher#tab-work

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 14:30:13 UTC | #919221

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

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Bernard Hurley

I've got Viking rape-and-pillage genes and Irish horse-thief genes but the ones that really bother me are those damned apple-eater genes.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 14:26:05 UTC | #919220

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

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Bernard Hurley

If you look here: http://journalisted.com/adam-lusher#tab-bio you will discover that Adam Lusher claims to have no experience, no education and won no awards. He seems to be able to get some things right. Oh, and he isn't too sure what his email address is either.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 14:09:13 UTC | #919208

Go to: Queen highlights Church of England's duty to all faiths

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by Bernard Hurley

I hope the Jains were wearing their traditional ecclesiastical dress.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 00:34:44 UTC | #918618

Go to: So Britain's a Christian Nation?

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Bernard Hurley

"Then come and live with me in peace and safety, away from all the Wangdoodles, and Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers, and rotten, Vermicious Knids."

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 21:02:09 UTC | #918165

Go to: So Britain's a Christian Nation?

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Bernard Hurley

"Christianity, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple."

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 20:53:49 UTC | #918159

Go to: RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #2: UK Christians oppose special influence for religion in public policy

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Bernard Hurley

I can't say I find any of this surprising. Obviously I had no ideas of the exact figures. However the real problem is still the number of people who identify as Christian because they think of it as "being a good person." This essentially turns the clergy into "goodness experts." I have been convinced for decades that it is this not belief in dogmas that gives the Christian religion a psychological hold over people.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 02:54:59 UTC | #917481

Go to: Discussion thread for "One Law For All" Rally - London or anywhere in the world

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by Bernard Hurley

I was married to a Chinese lady for over 20 years. There had been a sizable Chinese community in England since the middle of the nineteenth century. You only have to look at some of the names of streets in the East End to realise this. This community carries on teaching various Chinese languages on weekends. Running restaurants and organising celebrations for traditional Chinese festivals. They have managed to preserve what they want in traditional Chinese culture. But many Chinese have also become part of traditional English institutions. That is not to say that they have not been the victims of racism, because they have. But on the whole everything has worked out well for both the Chinese and the English communities and each community has contributed to the vibrancy of the other. This is multiculturalism.

However there are aspects of traditional Chinese culture that many Chinese are glad to have left behind. My wife's grandmother once said she was lucky to have been born so poor because otherwise her feet would have been bound. What would happen if there were those who called themselves leaders of the Chinese community but insisted that girl children had their feet bound? I hope we would tell them to get lost, but there are those who, while taking full advantage of the freedoms of Western societies for themselves and for their daughters would insist that this had to be done to Chinese girls because "it is their culture." This is just nonsense. These people may say "I am a muticulturalist" but they are idiots. Words like "muticulturalism" need to be re-claimed from the idiots.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 23:17:32 UTC | #917017

Go to: Discussion thread for "One Law For All" Rally - London or anywhere in the world

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 13 by NMcC :

"This is shocking. Isn't this against the law? It's not the role of the police to make cultural judgements."

It certainly is both of those things. But the real question is: did it happen?

I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to believe that the police reacted in such a way to the reporting of a serious crime like the one depicted.

What you find possible or not to believe is irrelevant, what matters are the facts. I have absolutely no idea whether this particular allegation is true. However having had personal experience of how police handle "culturally sensitive" issues it would not surprise me in the least if it were.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:49:26 UTC | #916951

Go to: Abortion, an anti-Christian student union, and the closing of the British mind

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Bernard Hurley

I don't think the important issue here is religious belief. The resolution seems to be saying that any organization affiliated to the UCLU is only allowed to have "balanced" discussions of a particular issue. This is a blatant infringement on freedom of speech.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 06:08:27 UTC | #913329

Go to: Do kids have to be taught about the supernatural?

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Bernard Hurley

So this supports the earlier studies by Jonathan Lane, which found that only older kids really get the idea of omniscience. Younger kids assume that supernatural beings have more ordinary mental capabilities.

I always knew I was cognitively retarded.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:23:25 UTC | #913183

Go to: More rubbish about "shrill" atheists - this time in The Daily Mail

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Bernard Hurley

Sung to the Pingu tune:

Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill Shrill, shrill, shrill, shrill!!!!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:16:52 UTC | #913178

Go to: Endangered and in demand

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 3 by Eyerish :

Superstition and status is behind the use of these products. Unfortunately you cannot overcome centuries of superstition easily. The Chinese will only believe what they think was good for their ancestors - no matter how dumb the ideas are. No amount of education will fix this and the poachers are making a fortune by deliberately reducing the supply to make it more appealing to the dumb and rich by simply killing off the source.

The bottom line is that the Chinese don't really care about wild animals - they are shown the way by a government that barely cares about the humans there.

Please don't generalize like this. My wife was Chinese and did not have this attitude to either wild animals or these superstitions. I would wager that there are millions of Chinese with similar views.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 17:27:06 UTC | #903341

Go to: Richard Dawkins: "The tyranny of the discontinuous mind"

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Bernard Hurley

On the subject of race, my first wife was half Ghanaian. In the UK she was black but whenever she went back to Cape Coast she was referred to as "Mbregni" - or white.

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 08:41:13 UTC | #901291