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Comments by lackofgravitas

Go to: Celebrating Female Science Bloggers

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by lackofgravitas

Daily Mail much Mr blitz442?

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 23:56:54 UTC | #875540

Go to: Male deep-sea squid seeks mate of either sex for fun in the dark

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by lackofgravitas

Is that what I think it is?

Um, what????

Hair gel!!!

(answers on a postcard)

But seriously, recently read an impressive book by a guy called Peter Watts. Yes. it's kinda sci-fi, but in the best way. It's called Starfish. Made all the more believable due to the author being a marine biologist.

There are some scary things down there, but not as scary as mankind............

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 23:23:40 UTC | #875532

Go to: Retailers Are Put on the Spot Over Anti-Gay Aid

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by lackofgravitas

Seriously, someone needs a good, hard slap.
Volunteers! Please form an orderly queue and take a ticket from the dispenser.

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 23:14:24 UTC | #875530

Go to: Pope accused of crimes against humanity by victims of sex abuse

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by lackofgravitas

From what I've read, SteveHill is saying that the US will obstruct (in any way they can) any attempts by the CCR (a non-US Govt.funded organisation) in its attempt to prosecute said pontiff. It really is a point of international law. Unless you recognise the court (as a Govt.) you cannot allow your subjects/citizens to benefit from it (by prosecuting) or be judged by it (by being prosecuted by it).

I see that there seems to be confusion in previous comments. The CCR is in no way affiliated the ICC. Though they support them. This is, in no way a two-way street. The ICC which calls for the arrest of international war criminals isn't involved in this intended prosecution. Although it should be. Soon.

Hope that clears up any misunderstandings.

Unless I got it wrong of course :)

Wed, 14 Sep 2011 00:12:13 UTC | #870584

Go to: [UPDATE 9/14] - VIDEO ADDED - Richard Dawkins on Newsnight, BBC2, Tues 13 Sept 2011

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by lackofgravitas

May I humbly suggest this blog link? And yes, there will be Youtube afterwards judging by the responses here.

This also aids folks in the UK to watch The Daily Show, and helps relay anonymous internet traffic from countries where censorship is a problem.

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 22:00:24 UTC | #870536

Go to: Fundamentalism, Spirituality, and IQ

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by lackofgravitas

Rod has a point here. There is a long and chequered history to IQ/Intelligence testing in the first place. Then we conflate intelligence with education. It is probably true that very religious people home-school or put their children in religious schools in order to avoid questions about that pesky reality stuff. This doesn't mean however, that the child will be any less intelligent, just less educated according to the norm.

I don't consider it a chicken/egg proposition, your parents always get to you first, but according to The Blank Slate by Stephen Pinker, parental influence on the growth and development on the brain and its ideas is rather less than previously supposed, with environment, especially peer pressure, having more effect than we thought before.

It seems that what the research is attempting to say is not that religious people are less intelligent, just that the way they have been brought up maybe makes them more susceptible to suggestion, or unable to question authority figure who dispense "The Truth".

The worrying point I take away from the article is the inability to educate the fundamentalists. Once they believe, that's it, they're done. critical faculties suspended for the duration. Hardly a big surprise, but worrying to get it in black and white. Again.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 17:43:52 UTC | #869878

Go to: Journal editor resigns over 'problematic' climate paper

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by lackofgravitas

Follow the money.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 22:50:30 UTC | #867026

Go to: Calling all foxhole atheists – fill out THIS version of the Spiritual Fitness test.

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by lackofgravitas

OK, I retract. I cal POE on this. It's too obviously taking the proverbial. If it's serious, we really are in for a sh*tstorm about this.

How many people have taken the "Test"?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 01:05:57 UTC | #866777

Go to: Calling all foxhole atheists – fill out THIS version of the Spiritual Fitness test.

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by lackofgravitas

Seriously? No, honestly, I mean seriously?

This is what passes for information gathering for the US military today?

You have got to be f*cking joking. And these people are in charge of our young men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, flying over Libya, helping in Egypt, trying to buttress democracy all over the world and........ what is your favourite fairy story?

Yes, the West may, possibly, have a little bit of a credibility problem, methinks.

Shit, does anyone else know about this? Hope Wikileaks doesn't get it!!!!!1111

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 00:37:03 UTC | #866770

Go to: Scientology: Game Over? Australia May Be About to Bankrupt Church Operations Down Under

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by lackofgravitas

As an antidote to asinine Scientologists, I can heartily recommend Paul Malmont's "Chinatown Death Cloud Peril", not so much that it's a great book, or that the research is impeccable. It's more that you get an idea about the people involved. There is no way that LRH is regarded highly as a writer. Nor are Robert E Howard or H P Lovecraft. I actually like all three.

Back on topic, I agree that it is a bit difficult to get a real idea about the organisation, bearing in mind their non-proselytising stance, unless you're wealthy. So. Let's have an AUDIT. A real one. In the UK, an HMRS audit, in the US an IRS audit. To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, "Follow the money."

Can we in the UK organise to herd enough atheist cats as we did for Simon Singh and ask for the Government to audit these monkeys?

Can you, in the US ask your Congressmen/women to investigate in the same way as the Australians did?

Maybe a new T-shirt, "I'm tax-exempt; I'm religious" could be made available?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 00:14:45 UTC | #866767

Go to: Catholics: dead pope’s blood will stop Mexican crime

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by lackofgravitas

That really is a shocking monstrance isn't it. Now I know the real etymology of the word; monstrosity. No mention of the Pyx though, very disappointing.

But seriously, this is beyond parody. I'm sure future generations, hopefully not too distant from now will look back on the last few hundred years and realise that the human race was infected by a viral meme which died off not because of its violence, but its irrelevance to modern life.

I despise the fluffy thinking of those in power in Mexico who requested this charade. I suspect it is pragmatic in that most, if not all, the population have respect for catholicism, and they hope the drug gangs will be nudged by guilt. I don't see it working though.

I'd posit the real answer would be to legalise all drugs, this prevents the organised crime that goes hand in hand with drugs, then work to treat addicts and educate people against abuse. There, fixed that for you.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 17:57:33 UTC | #863817

Go to: Ungodly Discipline

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 91 by lackofgravitas

What is the point? Really? We know the point of life is to propagate our genes.

The family has 8 white children and adopt a black child to kill later. What?

It is a proven statistical fact that males are more likely to kill children they have no genetic investment in. It is also a proven fact that the mothers of (or guardians of) children who are not genetically invested in a child are more likely to allow abuse even to the point of death of the child.

Where is the big surprise here?

The only thing that surprises me is the constant and merciless torture of children in the 21st century.

I think, perhaps, we don't deserve the gift of reproduction. Sometimes, I'm ashamed to be human. Usually when I turn on the news.

Fri, 19 Aug 2011 21:34:31 UTC | #862578

Go to: Heritability of Intelligence

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by lackofgravitas

I can heartily recommend Stephen Pinker's book "The Blank Slate" which puts many of the myths about intelligence, learning and their respective heritability to rest. I'd love to get into the whole nature/nurture debate again, but I thought most sensible folks thought it was both.

Just from a social point of view, if you have two musical parents, you're going to have a superior understanding of music even if you don't become a musician. Same applies with two scientific parents, you just 'get' stuff. I'd say that's more likely nurture, but then if you come from 15 generations of musicians of scientists, who can tell.

Oh, and BTW, the gene for risk-taking behaviour has been isolated. I don't have it. I have the 'sitting behind a big desk stroking white cats' gene.

Fri, 19 Aug 2011 20:21:24 UTC | #862562

Go to: Building Blocks of DNA Found in Meteorites from Space

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by lackofgravitas

The earth isn't different. That's the point. With the constant recombination of molecules, forces, chance and environments, eventually there will be more than a few chances of life on more than a few likely looking mudballs like ours. The problem here is perspective, and I hate to labour it here, but we have a practically infinite range of possibilities. To think that life began on only this planet, and it's 'ours' isn't much different from saying our planet is special in some way. It's not.

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 21:45:17 UTC | #859502

Go to: 50 Famous Academics & Scientists Talk About God

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by lackofgravitas

Pinker's whole film is fantastic. Working my way through all of them slowly......

Thanks for the link.

Wed, 27 Jul 2011 17:19:22 UTC | #854744

Go to: no longer banned in Turkey!

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by lackofgravitas

It seems we may be a little premature. Secular? may not be banned in Turkey, but I wonder what percentage of people consider themselves secular.

Sun, 10 Jul 2011 19:52:43 UTC | #848325

Go to: Wichita Doctor Takes Up Fight for Abortions

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by lackofgravitas

Actually, I think it'd be more like "If men had babies, there's be abortion services at every bar, gas/petrol station, motorway services, cinemas, theatres and workplaces." Just to be on the safe side.

Can someone remind me, what is the count of states where abortion is illegal even if it's a product of rape or incest?

Sun, 10 Jul 2011 19:44:01 UTC | #848320

Go to: Pictures: Nine Fish With "Hands" Found to Be New Species

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by lackofgravitas

I'm afraid it's not going to convince the creationists, but then again, who cares. Existence is a wonderful thing, and I'm making the most of it. I'd advise you all to do the same if I didn't think I was preaching to the choir.

Next stop, lets block the RE teachers in the UK. Get a real victory under our belts:

And remember, it's all your fault. You should all be proud we've got them on the run :)

Sat, 09 Jul 2011 23:10:38 UTC | #848064

Go to: no longer banned in Turkey!

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by lackofgravitas

I'm reminded of a book that I read in the nineties called Only Forward. Not so much because it was about things happening today, but the title sums up how things must necessarily proceed from now on.

Democracy (for all its faults) is the bare minimum that any person can expect in the C21st. To withhold that from anyone is a direct contravention of the Declaration of Human Rights. Those countries that deny their people democracy are to be encouraged (preferably not at gunpoint) to go down the path of equality.

Worldwide, the process has begun, there is no more US (the West) and THEM (non-democracies) just many nations in transition.

Thankfully, when peoples learn of democracy, an alternative to what they have, it cannot be unlearnt. The rest of the world can only move forward now, despite their leaders. No-one really chooses to be ruled by tyrants when there are viable alternatives.

Progress, Only Forward.

Congratulations to Turkey.

Sat, 09 Jul 2011 22:57:23 UTC | #848062

Go to: Godlessness has doomed Britain

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 125 by lackofgravitas

I seem to remember that Mr Boteach left the US amid rumours of tax evasion. He settles in the UK and commences his fleecing of the easily led. The UK Charities Commission investigated him for fraud, he had to repay £250,000. Google is your friend :)

As this article is published in the Jerusalem Post, can we assume he's living in Israel? Away from the authorities I'd imagine.

He reminds me of the evangelical preacher Popoff, who was exposed by Randi on the Letterman show. He's back and still making money. For me, these hucksters are no different from each other.

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 18:33:44 UTC | #846998

Go to: A ruling class that is "religiously illiterate" cannot lead in the 21st century

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by lackofgravitas

I despise, with a passion, his phrase 'ruling class'. He really is a piece of work for a so-called left-winger, though I think he's disproved that assumption pretty categorically with this diatribe.

On the other hand, becoming 'religiously literate', as we here know, means only having to read one book. Ever. Becoming scientifically literate, however, requires reading a number of books, some of which require careful thought and consideration. In effect, he's saying that literacy is in direct opposition to religion. And he's right. As soon as people are able to read and reason for themselves, the whole idea of religion becomes nonsensical. It's not an accident that the catholic church kept masses in latin for so long, it helped them control the uneducated masses.

Sat, 02 Jul 2011 17:08:00 UTC | #845555

Go to: Your Genes: More Virus than Human

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by lackofgravitas

Genes coding for protein transcription keep us alive, doing the day-to-day stuff of life. They keep us alive. They are the genes that code how a collection of cells becomes a foetus, in what order those cells differentiate, how the foetus develops. Quite fundamental stuff. Yet we have more genes in our DNA that have a common source, but isn't originally part of our ancestral mammalian DNA. We have more viral genes than protein transcription genes.

I think it's acceptable, but would argue that 90% is junk. More likely that 90% has an unknown potential. As mentioned earlier, some of the 'junk genes' are involved in gene regulation. Evolution, as a process, tends to conserve beneficial traits, so I think we can assume there will be very little 'junk' once the whole genome is 'figured out'.

As a slight aside, I'd also recommend The Long Now Foundation as something for all of us to familiarise ourselves with. Forward thinking doesn't even begin to cover what they are doing.

Declaration of COI: I'm a member.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 18:53:45 UTC | #641375

Go to: Get them while they're young

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 85 by lackofgravitas

WTF is going on here? On the front page of RD.NET we have people who still think religion can be a force for good? That religious indoctrination is equivalent to teaching children to think for themselves, including what we (free-thinkers?) teach them? Seriously people, this is very sad indeed. Herding cats aside, this whole argument about 'atheists are as fundamentalist as evangelicals' is so old it's got its own Culture habitat. Can we please move on and avoid feeding the trolls? Nothing to be gained and a lot of bullsh*t to be avoided.

I would apologise if I've offended anyone, but I'm not going to. If you're offended; fine, be offended. Get over it.

Au suivant....

Mon, 30 May 2011 20:20:27 UTC | #632452

Go to: Church of England tied in knots over allowing gay men to become bishops

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by lackofgravitas

It seems that all organised religions are, by definition, secret societies. Minutes of all meetings should be published. We expect it from all companies, all charities all organisations which have an effect upon societies, but not religious institutions. In fact, there should always be an independent person present at these meetings so we know what is going on.

As an aside, how often are these religious institutions audited? I work for a charity, and as such we are audited annually by law. Maybe the way to finally purge these morons from society is "follow the money". And prosecute accordingly. If only we had an Establishment clause.

Thu, 26 May 2011 21:32:16 UTC | #631318

Go to: Islamists jailed for attack on RE teacher

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by lackofgravitas

Yeah, let's deport them to where they came from. That's be here, wouldn't it. Can we please stop with the "deporting" stuff already?

Let's hope they aren't up in front of Mrs Blair, probably being first time offenders and all.

Thu, 26 May 2011 19:26:12 UTC | #631264

Go to: New method 'confirms dark energy'

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by lackofgravitas

I love cosmology and physics. Nothing brings the ego down to its base level better than talking about distances between galaxies, the age of the universe and dark metter and energy.

All observable matter constitutes 4% of the universe? Wow. I mean...really, wow! All that stuff up there, shiny and energetic and colourful, just 4%. And most of the stuff in the universe is unobservable/invisible, but we know it's there. Love it.

Mon, 23 May 2011 17:47:54 UTC | #629966

Go to: Rock the Fort Chaplain Is From the Moon, Writes Foxhole Atheist A Letter

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by lackofgravitas

Justin is doing a great job.

It's distressing to see human beings who actually have a modicum of reasoning ability become apoplectic when their ownership of 'morality' is questioned. The whole screed descended into a childish, fingers-in-ears 'I'm not listening! Na na na na na.....' scene. It's embarrassing to see a grown man behave like this.

On the other hand, he made repeated efforts to distort the truth to fit his own agenda, and so he must be treated like the rest; chalk him up as a liar or an idiot. There doesn't seem to be any other explanation for people like this. They're either making serious money at it, or they really do believe the bullsh*t. In which case they're probably idiots.

I've tried time and time again to find a middle ground between the liar and the idiot. Really tried. I can understand the blatant snake-oil charlatan, it's just simple greed. But to be brought up in this century or the last, with all the evidence at your fingertips, and still believe the fairy stories you were taught as a child? That takes an effort of will. It's a choice to be ignorant. Possibly cowardice. I appreciate that some people have no choice, especially if they live in bronze-age dominated countries/states, but in Europe or the US, there's no excuse.

My own example, I was brought up catholic. Taught to respect the authority of the church. It didn't take long (maybe I was 8 or 10 years old) to get the idea I was being sold a bunch of crap. I'm not in the genius league here, so what words are there to describe those who are less able to detect bullsh*t than the average child?

Fingers crossed there will be a resurgence of belief in Nordic, Greek and Roman, even Zoroastrian (and other) myths.

Strange that I can't remember very much from the bibble, but I know the name of Thor's hammer and a number of the greco-roman gods. Is it just me? Batman was roman, right?

Tue, 17 May 2011 19:39:21 UTC | #627592

Go to: [UPDATE 10-Jun - final version of UK jacket] The Magic of Reality - new book by Richard Dawkins this Fall

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 75 by lackofgravitas

Dave McKean. Richard Dawkins. Same book. That's reason enough right there. While you're at it, get the Sandman series, lovely McKean covers, written by Neil Gaiman, writer of the next upcoming episode of Dr Who. I remember the beginning of a review of Anansi Boys by Kim Newman;

"Anansi Boys is one of Neil Gaiman's books for grown-ups, which means that it's a lot less ruthless than the material he produces for children."

What he was saying was that children are OK with the nasty stuff, it's the adults who worry about 'the effect on children'. I'm hoping Richard's book will be of a similar ilk, the parents/adults can complain about it, some US states will ban it, controversy abounds, etc. So, ideal material for any kid who has been told "No".

Can't wait!!!!

Thu, 12 May 2011 22:14:07 UTC | #626305

Go to: Afghan women risk death to learn

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by lackofgravitas

I remember an old story that was about a funeral in India. A British officer was watching the proceedings and noticed that the widow was tied up. 'What is this?' asked the officer. 'It is a tradition that the wife (and sometimes servants) died on the funeral pyre of a powerful man.' It is a tradition'. The indian man expected the officer's acceptance of the proceedings.

A short time later, a company of soldiers arrived and began to build a scaffold for 20 people to hang from.

'what is this?' asked the indian gentleman. 'Oh, in my country, anyone who enslaves or murders another human being is hung by the neck until dead.' He went on to explain; 'It's one of those traditions we have.'

We have to lead by example, not in a colonialist way, but in an enlightened way. Teach by example, not by rule.

Sat, 07 May 2011 20:03:46 UTC | #624291

Go to: Death of a Madman

lackofgravitas's Avatar Jump to comment 120 by lackofgravitas

For the conspiracy theorists, I quote Benjamin Franklin: "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead". And let's face it, this has been shown to be true throughout history, not just gingerscouser's examples.

ObL is probably dead, in fact it's almost a certainty for the reasons mentioned above. I'm quite neutral on this, I see both sides. He may have been responsible for 9/11 and many other atrocities, even if not directly, at least getting money to organisations capable of implementing those acts of terrorism. How many deaths was he responsible for? Does it matter? Unless we are comparing to Bush Jnr and his invasions. If that's the case it just becomes a pissing contest, not worth the effort to consider rationally.

On the other hand, I don't find myself in a celebratory mood either. Another human being is dead. Many will say (and have said) that he deserved to die, and I can't really bring myself to disagree. But you can't kill an idea. The popular uprisings of recent times show us that people want to be free. Unfortunately, Islam shows the way to freedom through submission, by surrendering all responsibility and letting god (and his mullahs of course) rule. We've seen the death of the furthest outlier on the extremist curve, but we still have to deal with many others of similar ilk from this point on.

Wed, 04 May 2011 20:34:34 UTC | #623081