Monthly Archives: September 2015

Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .

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The Argument from Consistency (and Justice)

This blog post, reblogged from a blog called The Superstitious Naked Ape, is a good example of how capricious, evil, malicious, rancorous, malevolent, unjust, partial – you name it – the imaginary friend up in the sky, with omnipotent and omniscient powers, is. An imaginary friend and crackpot who calls himself I am that I am (Exodus 3:14), but is called God Almighty by his worshippers.

The author of the reblogged post, John Zande, also demonstrates how inconsistent this Almighty God is, especially when it comes to punishing people committing sins.

John Zande starts his analysis by retelling a story in Acts 5 about a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira.

Both Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for not telling the truth about what happened to some money they had had at their disposal.

Because Ananias and his wife were dishonest, God decided to kill them. Not only does God hate sins; he hates sinners as well, maybe even more than the sins.

This story in Acts 5 reminds me of what can be read in 2 Kings 2:23-24:

And [God’s beloved prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Those two verses bring up the question of how a prophet chosen by God Himself is allowed, by that same God, to call a deadly curse down upon a group of kids for taunting him about something as insignificant as baldness.

And maybe worst of all, Almighty God consents, without hesitating the least, to his prophet’s wish and uses/forces two she bears to accomplish the killing.

Anyhow, this is not the first time God kills children for misbehaving.

Here are four more examples:

#1: Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (demanding that children who refuse to obey their parents must be executed).

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

#2: Exodus 21:15

He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

#3. Exodus 21:17

He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

#4. Proverbs 30:17

Children who mock their parents will have their eyes plucked out by ravens and eaten by eagles.The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

IMHO it’s one of life’s biggest riddles how on Earth there can be people who still worship such an evil, vengeful and inequitable God, who at the same time is so full of inconsistencies and biased partiality.

IN GOD WE TRUSTThe god of the Pentateuch does not exist. This is not news. The entire premise of such a being is as Jeremy Bentham would have said, “Nonsense on stilts”[1]… and we should all be very, very pleased that such a creature does not exist. The god of the Pentateuch is a bad god, and we can prove that here by something I’m calling The Argument from Consistency, or perhaps more accurately, The Argument from Consistency in Justice

A story is recounted in Acts 5 where a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, were killed by Yhwh for the (victimless) crime of lying.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’…

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REBLOGGED: Bible vs Quran—Test Your Knowledge of Who Deserves Death in Which Religion. About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence.

About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence

According to the social sciences religion increases trust among congregants (i.e. among those who already know each other by belonging to the same group). But at the same time religion causes trust to drop towards unfamiliar people (i.e. those outside the congregation or group).

That’s why religion (religious faith) correlates so well with xenophobia and racism. For more details, see http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Xenophobia.aspx .

Here’s an interesting quote from that article:

[I]t is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between racism and xenophobia because they exhibit similar motivations for exclusive behavior designed to demean others and the exercise of political violence. However, there is one element missing in racism that is often present in xenophobia: religious identity. Manifestations of xenophobia occur not only against people with different physical characteristics but also against those of similar background who are believed to hold different and presumably dangerous and hostile religious convictions.

When it comes to the point of relationship, specifically, between religion and violence, see for example http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencecauses/ .

OK, I admit that not all pundits agree with my somewhat simplified correlations that seem to show how toxic religious faith can be with regard to interpersonal relationships. Karen Armstrong, for example, is of a different opinion, see this review of one of her books: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular .

But if I am to be accused of being a cherry-picker, then all those denying or minimizing the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism, and violence clearly must be cherry-pickers as well.

As a matter of fact, my views on this relationship are more mainstream than Karen Armstrong’s. Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence#Abrahamic_religions .

Let me quote from that Wikipedia article:

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that “Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in “sacred texts” and until each affirms nonviolent power of God.”

Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.

Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, “(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence.”

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn’t just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.

Bruce Feiler writes that “Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible”.

(END OF QUOTE)

Anyhow, it would have been very interesting to ponder how Karen Armstrong and her followers would have answered, and commented on, this quiz of 30 holy verses, taken from the Bible or Qu’ran that Valerie Tarico, one of my favorite bloggers, wants her readers to take.

You don’t even need to take the quiz to understand that Abrahamic religions have caused many sufferings and wrong-doings both past and present.

So, thank you very much, Valerie, for this disclosing quiz and blog post!

ValerieTarico.com

quran vs bible 2The world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behavior—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.

At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as…

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THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions.

All of us every now and then fall a victim to logical wrong-thinking. In fact we are full of intellectual vices.
Sometimes this mental deficit or dysfunction/malfunction is called LMD (the Lazy Mind Syndrome). Read more about LMS here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/16/920860/-BEWARE-Lazy-Mind-Syndrome-LMS-growing-mental-disorder-in-U-S-endangers-our-American-democracy# .
LMS seems to be unusually prevalent in religiously true believers. Probably that’s why the representatives of the American political American Right show such a profound intellectual dishonesty and indulge in angry, arrogant and dishonest rantings and never – or at least very rarely – apologize for their blind misstatements, personal attacks, under-handed insinuations and direct factual contradictions.
While googling for Lazy Mind-articles I also found this pdf article: THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions. See:  https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/pdf/FallaciesPoster16x24.pdf .
I immediately understood that this overview of common logical fallacies can explain many, if not all, of the misstatements done by both religious and political (yes, you’re right, they ARE overlapping each other in a very distinct manner) true believers.
A logical fallacy is defined as a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They are frequently, and often also very sneakily, used by politicians, priests, ministers and others twho earn a living by fooling people in one way or another.
So don’t be fooled! Take a look at these 24 common methods and techniques that so often are used by true believers.
Because the poster with the 24 logical fallacies is published under a Creative Commons No Derivative Works license 2012, by a man named Jesse Richardson, you are free to print, copy, and redistribute this artwork, with the binding provison that you reproduce it in full so that others may share alike.
Here are the 24 logical fallacies that thou shalt not commit yourself and that thou shalt look for when meeting and debating a true believer.
1) STRAWMAN: Misrepresenting someone’s argument to make it easier to attack. By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine rational debate.
After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting military spending
2) FALSE CAUSE: Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how temperatures have been rising over the past few centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the world and global warming is a hoax.
3) APPEAL TO EMOTION: Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument. Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, guilt, and more. Though a valid, and reasoned, argument may sometimes have an emotional aspect, one must be careful that emotion doesn’t obscure or replace reason.
Luke didn’t want to eat his sheep’s brains with chopped liver and brussels sprouts, but his father told him to think about the poor, starving children in a third world country who weren’t fortunate enough to have any food at all.
4) THE FALLACY FALLACY: Presuming a claim to be necessarily wrong because a fallacy has been committed. It is entirely possibly to make a claim that is false yet argue with logical coherency for that claim, just as is possible to make a claim that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.
Recognising that Amanda had committed a fallacy in arguing that we should eat healthy food because a nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said we should therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.
5) SLIPPERY SLOPE: Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to baseless extreme hypotheticals. The merits of the original argument are then tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.
Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we’ll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.
6) AD HOMINEM: Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or casting doubt on their character. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone without actually engaging with the substance of their argument.
After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe anything from a woman who isn’t married, was once arrested, and smells a bit weird.
7) TU QUOQUE: Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering criticism with criticism. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off the accused having to defend themselves and shifts the focus back onto the accuser themselves.
Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.
8) PERSONAL INCREDULITY: Saying that because one finds something difficult to understand, it’s therefore not true. Subjects such as biological evolution via the process of natural selection require a good amount of understanding before one is able to properly grasp them; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.
Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with effusive disdain asked Richard if he really thought we were stupid enough to believe that a fish somehow turned into a human through just, like, random things happening over time.
9) SPECIAL PLEADING: Moving the goalposts or making up exceptions when a claim is shown to be false. Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one’s mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs.
Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his ‘abilities’ were tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared. Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for them to work.
10) LOADED QUESTION: Asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty. Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.
Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having any problems with a fungal infection.
11) BURDEN OF PROOF: Saying that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove. The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not make it valid (however we must always go by the best available evidence).
Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong his claim is therefore a valid one.
12) AMBIGUITY: Using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth. Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. It’s a particularly tricky and premeditated fallacy to commit.
When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn’t paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn’t have to pay them because the sign said ‘Fine for parking here’ and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.
13) THE GAMBLER’S FALLACY: Believing that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins. This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create a city (Las Vegas) in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last.
Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.
14) BANDWAGON: Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation. The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.
Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.
15) APPEAL TO AUTHORITY:  Saying that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true. It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding.
Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’ Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn’t herself a primate).
16) COMPOSITION/DIVISION: Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it. Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, but because this isn’t always the case it can’t be presumed to be true. We must show evidence for why a consistency will exist.
Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.
17) NO TRUE SCOTSMAN: Making what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument. This fallacy is often employed as a measure of last resort when a point has been lost. Seeing that a criticism is valid, yet not wanting to admit it, new criteria are invoked to dissociate oneself or one’s argument.
Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.
18) GENETIC: Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes. To appeal to prejudices surrounding something’s origin is another red herring fallacy. This fallacy has the same function as an ad hominem, but applies instead to perceptions surrounding something’s source or context.
Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.
19) BLACK-OR-WHITE: Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or on the side of the enemy.
20) BEGGING THE QUESTION: A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise. This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good. The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.
21) APPEAL TO NATURE: Making the argument that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good, or ideal. Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s justifiable.
The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it was only natural that people should be wary of ‘artificial’ medicines like antibiotics.
22) ANECDOTAL: Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics. It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding variation across a continuum. Scientific and statistical measures are almost always more accurate than individual perceptions and experiences.
Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 – so don’t believe everything you read about meta analyses of sound studies showing proven causal relationships.
23) THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER: Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption. This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting at barns and then painting a bullseye target around the spot where the most bullet holes appear. Clusters naturally appear by chance, and don’t necessarily indicate causation.
The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.
24) MIDDLE GROUND: Saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth. Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.
Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice oered a compromise that vaccinations cause some autism.

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REBLOGGED: Additional notes on Never Let Me Go. Or: Why so many of us seek comfort from Hidden Causal Agents.

My friend Charles Rogers is, as always, full of both knowledge and wisdom. On his blog he likes to review books that have touched his heart and/or brain.

At the moment he and I are discussing a rather dystopian novel, “Never let me go”, written by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The message of that book is that life is not a rose garden. Instead life can be seen as a bumpy pathway full of disappointments and broken expectations. But at the same time, as Charles Rogers puts it, even a blind hog can sometimes find an acorn to eat; i.e. life contains both tricks and treats.

One of the many important messages from both Kazuo Ishiguro and Charles Rogers is that childhood matters – all life long.

Life is about how to endure living. How to survive in an a world loaded with atrocities and trying to do the best out of what is happening and evolving before your eyes.

Such questions and topics tend to lead to religion, or rather religious beliefs. In fact, eschatology can be defined as a part of theology, physics, and futurology, concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, the ultimate destiny of humanity.

And that’s why I want to reblog this blog post.

To make it clearer for my own followers, I now add a comment that I wrote in the comment field of Mr. Rogers’ blog post. So now I quote myself (not only to inflate my own ego:

Now, after reading both the original review and this “supplement”, I come to think of what Schopenhauer once said/wrote: “In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theater, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear.”

Or in my own, more banal, words: The goal (of our lives) is, of course, of big interest, but what really matters is what happens during our life’s journey towards that goal.

Harshly speaking, the end station of our lives is always DEATH.
We will all arrive at that end station some day in our lives.
So why focus on that gloomy and dreadful “goal”?

IMHO it’s much better to try to live NOW – and try to do the best you can while living.

There is no second try for you (unless you are a true believer in religious bullshit dogmas).

Then the conclusion must be: Why not, like Kazuo Ishiguro (and now also Charles Rogers), instead, move the attention to our childhood. where it all starts?

Much of our lives revolves around that period of life – even later on, after entering adulthood.

Being a child means being malleable – and full of expectations. You have your whole (at least almost) in front of you.

Some of us are lucky to be born into a – put in your words, Mr. Rogers – “loving environment in which [to be] reared and educated”.

Others, like me, drew a blank.

I think most of us draw blanks.

That is, we grow up—if we are lucky—in security and wonder, and afterwards we are delivered to the grotesque goals of life, that usually are not chosen by us.

Therefore it’s not hard for me to agree with you, Charles, that “it can’t be insignificant that [Kazuo Ishiguro] was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it”.

Vestigia terrent! (The footprints are frightening!)

You can’t avoid being influenced, both consciously and unconsciously, of your heritage.

In fact, it’s impossible to evade your sociocultural and genetic heritage.

That’s why I, the atheist, “believe” that folks, in order to survive their perceived Weltschmerz – find it easier to start believing in Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) a.k.a. gods.

It’s so easy, and sometimes also comforting, to close down one’s critical thinking and instead become a true believer.

In short, many people prefer to enter into a kind of cocooned version of reality, hoping that such a choice (I doubt it is of “free will”) will provide some psychological comfort.

I now want to pose this question to you, KK: Have you seen – or heard of – the movie “Brazil” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(1985_film) ?

I myself imagine that there are some simlilarities between Kazuo Ishiguro (or his dystopian novel) and that movie.

The protagonist enters his own little fantasy world and feels at peace living there, obviously oblivious to the grim reality that is taking place outside his own little comfortable “bubble”.

The message is clear: You can’t evade your past. But, and this is important, you ARE able to influence the one you are today and, maybe, at least partly, the one you’re going to be tomorrow.

As far as I understand it, Kazuo Ishiguro is a dystopian author. But, if I have understood your book review correctly, Charles, life is still – and will always be – about never to surrender too easily to setbacks and misfortune.

We all have to understand, and accept, that life contains both tricks and treats.

And that the choice is partly yours. Cf. the controversial view that depression is a learnt “behavior”.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Although bbnewsab conceded that my review of Never Let Me Go was my best effort thus far, my Swedish critic  required some “more blood out of the stone”.     ; o)>

[An aside: Although I don’t recall that Ishiguro has mentioned it, it can’t be insignificant that he was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it.]

The following is an attempt to placate PV (bbnewsab). The “rest of you may talk amongst yourselves” while he and I sort out the lack of my first attempt at a review.(ha ha not seriously)

bbnewsab:  “But I don’t quite understand what emotions or feelings this book woke up in your brain and your heart, KK.
I can easily understand the anger and disgust you must have felt by reading about, for example, Joseph Mengele’s twin experiments and other horrible Holocaust memories brought up to the surface by Kazuo Ishiguro.

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Speaking of how religious beliefs can poison the mind of a true believer, here’s just ONE terrifying example.

This story made its way to the newsdesks here in Sweden the other day.

It’s about a 47-year-old man accused of murdering his nine-year-old daughter and assaulting his own wife and an older stepdaughter (plus the boyfriend of this stepdaughter), trying to kill them too.

The man is suspected to suffer from severe religious delusions. *well, I’m not the least surprised*

He has himself told the police that God ordered him to wring the neck of her daughter in order to kill her. When he hesitated, he was promised by God that this “act of love” would guarantee his daughter an eternal life in Heaven.

“I was deceived by the devil all the time”, the man said in the first hearing after the murder.

On 9 July this summer the 47-year-old company director was arrested in his own home, suspected to have stabbed her nine-year-old daughter to death in that same family house.

The man was taken by police to a psychiatric emergency department.

The day after the girl’s death the first hearing was held with the murderer. According to the interrogation documents the 47-year-old-man asked the interrogator to let him meet his nine-year-old daughter again, whom he was convinced now had been resurrected to a new life, because God the Almighty had promised him that would be the case.

Later in the same interrogation the man tells the interrogator that he obviously, during the last months, seems to have been duped by the Devil. Satan must have pretended to be God and being the one communicating with him.

“One minute I feel like I have sold my soul to God, the other second, it feels like I’ve sold my soul to the devil, the man told the interrogator.

The man also says that he grew up in a religious home and that his own father was a pastor in a Pentecostal church he himself had founded.

In subsequent questionings, the man tells the interrogator that he has been on heavy medication due to sleep problems. He also discloses that earlier in his life he has been a drug addict, and that psychiatric doctors have told him that he manifested distinct psychotic symptoms.

During the interrogations the man also admits that he obviously must have suffered from religious delusions. He says that God used to speak to him through persons, particularly children, in his surroundings and through radio or television broadcasts.

The man also tells what happened on that special day he murdered his own nine-year-old daughter. He says the delusions took a new turn during the day when his daughter was murdered. He felt as if God spoke directly into his brain that day.

“The voice of God told me to go out in the backyard of the house and ask my daughter, who was playing there, to join him.

While standing there in the backyard waiting for his daughter to come to him. he says he was instructed by God to count down from three to zero. He was also told, by God, that when saying ZERO, he would immediately be shot to death.

Since the man wanted to obey God, he began counting down and came to ZERO, without anything happening. He was of course surprised, but interpreted it as he, like once Abraham, just had passed a divine test.

The man also says that he was convinced that if he refused to obey what God told him to do, then he would be punished. And the punishment for disobedience of God’s will is, as “all know”, an eternity of suffering in Hell.

Back in the house, now together with his daughter, the voices in his head soon returned, leading to devastating consequences.

During the interrogation, the man says that God soon demanded him to break the neck of his own nine-year-old daughter.

When he hesitated, God promised him that his daughter would of course be resurrected, She would wake up to eternal life.Because he loved his daughter so much, the man couldn’t resist that promise or offer by God. Who wants to prohibit an eternal life in Heaven for his own children?

So the man made now a first attempt to break the neck of her daughter, but was unsuccessful.

The daughter was able to break free and ran up to her room on the upper floor in the house and tried to block the door.

The man tried to open the door, but realized he couldn’t. So he went back, downstairs, heading for the kitchen. There he took a knife from a drawer. With the knife in his right hand he returned back to the girl’s room and soon managed to open the door.

The man’s wife (and also the girl’s mother) heard there was a fuss, with a lot of screaming, going on upstairs, so she decided to find out what was going on.

Despite attempts by the mother to prevent him, the husband managed to give his (and her) own daughter multiple stabs with the kitchen knife, and soon those stab wounds caused the girl’s death.Afterwards the man attacked his own wife with his knife. And also the wife’s adult daughter from a previous relationship, who now appeared on the upper floor of the house, together with her boyfriend.

All three were attacked by the the 47-year-old man, and hurt by him and his knife. But he didn’t manage to give them any deadly wounds.

The man admits that everything points toward the fact that his own physical body must have performed all these terrifying acts, but he claims that he himself – that is his soul – can’t have been present when all these wrongdoings happened in the house. So the real murderer is no other than – Satan. The Devil Himself.

Are there still any followers of my blog who don’t understand why I call religion a poisonous and detrimental delusion?

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REBLOGGED: You Could Be Immortal! Words of wisdom from a wise man.

My cyber friend clanton1934 is a man full of both knowledge and wisdom.

If you don’t believe me, then have a(nother) look at this post (the one I’m now going to reblog), published yesterday on clanton1934’s blog.

His text generates lots of “feeling good” emotions. It’s full of positive, hopeful and inspiring “vibrations”, and maybe best of all, clanton1934 doesn’t fall victim to the urge so many bloggers have for dressing the message in religious clothing, i.e. using words full of religious connotations.

That’s why I consider clanton1934 to be a both honorable and honest man. His message to the world can be summarized as “You yourself, not God, are the architect of your fortunes”.

That’s why I now want to spread his words to my own readers.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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If you are a good teacher/ mentor, you will live in your students.

Lessons for Writing and Life:  I write something every day. I make many decisions every day.

Every sentence that I write is influenced by my grandmother, my parents and a regiment of teachers/ mentors.  “We stand on the shoulders of giants.” (1)  Every word, sentence and paragraph that I write, is “in-my-ear-edited” by numerous teachers who still tell me to “pay meticulous attention to detail”.  ” Check for spelling errors and clarity of meaning.; does this sentence say what you mean?” “Check the accuracy of, and the certainty of, if checked, that the reference is where you have indicated.”

My mentors are far more than some vague accumulated habit-patterns. As I write, my mentors come to mind, and I see their face, and each face has a name; they advise me…

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Are Brainwashing Techniques in the Bible and Strategically Used in Churches? Facts and consequences of priming.

Thanks to God (?) – yeah, praise the Lord! Amen! – I recently became acquainted with Victoria Neuronotes. She’s a BRILLIANT antitheist blogger, full of both wits and knowledge. And yes, sometimes she also speaks words of wisdom. She knows from her own experience how poisonous religious thoughts can be. So i will in the weeks to come reblog some of her many clever posts on my own blog, starting with this one. Indeed, she deserves many readers. And followers.

In her blog post Victoria – her name means “the victorious one”; God seemingly chose a good name for her – Amen! – focuses on different brainwashing techniques, used by spokesmen who promote the belief that there is an equivalent of childhood’s imaginary friend (sometimes more than just one, though) living somewhere in the sky (heavens).

An imaginary friend, usually full of benevolence, omniscience, and omnipotence – and, of course, always loving and caring for you, provided that you 1) believe He exists, and 2) are willing to help promoting His good advice and commandments by donating money to people, often called priests, chosen by God to spread His message all around the world.

A very interesting question is this one: How can grown-up persons continue to embrace the “out of this world” concept of an imaginary friend living, usually hidden, somewhere in the sky? (As I myself use to say to answer that question, “Only God knows…”)

Anyhow, in this reblogged post Victoria describes common techniques used by those who promote God’s lovable (?) and caring (?) message.

These techniques can be summarized in one word, BRAINWASHING.

Another word for brainwashing is PRIMING. Just google the words RELIGIOUS + PRIMING, and you’ll find almost countless of good articles and papers dealing with the effects of religious priming (a.k.a. brainwashing).

For example this one, https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/47943/priming%20papers/ejsp834.pdf .

Or this one, https://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/psyreli/documents/2009.IJPR.Submission.pdf .

Some details about paper #1:

TITLE: When authoritarianism meets religion: Sacrificing others in the name of
abstract deontology.

AUTHORS: Matthieu van Pachterbeke, Christopher Freyer, and Vassilis Saroglou.

ABSTRACT: Authoritarianism is a stable construct in terms of individual differences (social attitudes based on personality and values), but its manifestations and behavioral outcomes may depend on contextual factors. In the present experiment, we investigated whether authoritarianism is sensitive to religious influences in predicting rigid morality. Specifically, we investigated whether authoritarians, after supraliminal religious priming, would show, in hypothetical moral dilemmas, preference for impersonal societal norms even at the detriment of interpersonal, care-based prosociality toward proximal persons and acquaintances in need. The results confirmed the expectations, with a small effect size for the religious priming vs. authoritarianism interaction. In addition, these results were specific to participants’ authoritarianism and not to their individual religiosity. The interaction between authoritarian dispositions and religious ideas may constitute a powerful combination leading to behaviors that are detrimental for the well-being and the life of others, even proximal people, in the name of abstract deontology.

Some details about paper #2:

TITLE: “Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”: Religious Priming Activates Submissive Thoughts and Behaviors.

AUTHORS: Vassilis Saroglou, Olivier Corneille, and Patty Van Cappellen.

ABSTRACT: According to many theoretical perspectives, religion is positively associated with submission and conformity. However, no study to date provided xperimental evidence for this hypothesis. We did so in two experiments that relied on priming procedures. In Experiment 1, participants were tested for the strength of their religion-submission associations by using a lexical decision task. In Experiment 2, participants were primed with either religious or neutral concepts and were invited or not by the experimenter to take revenge on an individual who had allegedly criticized them. Both studies provided evidence for the expected religion-submission association, although the effects were limited to participants scoring high in personal submissiveness. Among these individuals, religious priming increased the accessibility of submission-related concepts (Experiment 1) and the acceptance of a morally problematic request for revenge (Experiment 2). Discussion focuses on questions for future research and implications for our understanding of religion’s role in morality and interpersonal relations.

The wordings in both abstracts can, according to me, be reworded in the following manner:

Religion is built on associative, emotional thinking (which is the opposite of logical and critically analyzing thinking), and is full of intellectual vices. For more details, have a look at this Wikipedia article; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . And this article, found in the Aeon Magazine: http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/intellectual-character-of-conspiracy-theorists/ .

Qualities like submissive behavior, obedience, and belief in authorities are encouraged and exhorted. Religious people are strongly advised and admonished to be accepting, not criticizing, what their leaders tell them to do, act, and believe. The key word here is CONFORMITY. Discord leads to bad feeling, feuding, and conflicts. So tell me, is that the higher “meaning of life”? (See there a so-called rhetorical question.)

Anyhow, this is why priming/brainwashing is a common technique used in religious groups in order to establish concord and unity. (And it also opens up to thinking of we and them, i.e. we are better than those others not sharing our beliefs, faith and values.)

Victoria NeuroNotes

Brainwashing and mind control techniques have been used by dictators, their agents and cult leaders throughout history. While it took me years to come to this understanding, it became apparent to me, through my research, that the Bible could be used as a tool for

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Blogger’s GPS – 22 Writing Sages. Reading/Writing as a way to share thoughts and emotions and pass them on to future generations.

This blog is so full of knowledge and wisdom.

If you want to enrichen your own life, then Charles Roger’s blog is a must-read.

If you liked this one, then I’m sure you’ll also appreciate what can be found here: http://therogerspost.com/2015/05/28/english-language/ .

Charles Rogers (a.k.a. the blogger clanton1934) at his best!

He is scientifically well educated (today a professor emeritus), but also a great defender of human values and especially interested in what makes humans human. I’m so glad I found him and his blog on the web.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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I think I might have been born in a library or a bookstore!  From the first moment I can remember, I was surrounded by books. Dead tree, hardcover decorated books. My security blanket was a book. Decades before Sesame Street, my”Swiss-Army-knife” of a teacher was my grandmother.  I was her project for six years. Grandmother read to me, as many times as I wished (shamelessly I was indulged!). At about four years, she would have me point to the words and say them out loud. She had me “reading” the books. (It was not reading for real – I knew the stories by heart, and there were as many pictures as text )  She would show me a page, and I would speak the story from memory. It was my fun, and a positive experience to say the least. Seven decades later and in spite of the electronic age, I love to…

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Lawrence Krauss on the xenophobia inherent in religion

Earlier this week I drawed my own blog followers’ attention to the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars, by referring, in general, to data available at the Correlates of War project, and, in more specific details, to an interesting paper, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”, written by Igor Mackarov; see: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf .

After having read this new blog post here at Why Evolution Is True, and listened to the attached video clip, I find that our topics and takes on religion are much the same.

There is definitely a more or less strong relation between true believers, especially religious ones, and atrocities of different kinds, ranging from (sexual) abuse within the family to proper wars between clans or countries.

Maybe worst of all, sometimes those atrocities, in the name of one god or another, seem to be caused without malicious intentions. That’s why religion is a dangerous thing, “largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia”.

For even more details, see: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/mjr/pdf/2002/rev_schoen_2002.pdf

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a new seven-minute Big Think video in which physicist and anti-theist Lawrence Krauss discusses religion. While he notes that faith has some good aspects, his overall take is negative, largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia.

I find it heartening that this strong criticism of faith appears on places like The Big Think, but a little bird told me that Dr. Krauss has another fusillade that will appear soon. In my view, now is no time to retreat from the atheist critique of religion. As Lawrence notes, each time a decent person comes out as a rationalist or atheist, it shows others that we are not monsters, and gives a little nudge towards unbelief to those on the fence. And, as Jeff Tayler noted in a Salon piece about the Republican penchant for outdoing each other in crazy protestations of faith:

Discussing religion freely and critically will desacralize it, with…

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