Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Values and Morality

beliefnet
If our values are not policing our thoughts immoral actions would be all to common.  See any fervent believer that does as told without even applying a value test.  Believer in the Shermer sense which may or may not have anything at all to do with religion. 

I do see values as different from morality, as the values are axiomatic and morality is the expression of those values.  A value of radical respect for all people doesn't do much good when the perp is attacking.  Morality is the mental activity of deciding what the proper reaction to the attack is. 

Source of morality

beliefnet
We all get our concepts of good and evil, right or wrong from the same place: The local society we grew up in, very slightly modified by adult reasoning about morality. 

You say your morality is from a Moral Law Maker. It isn't really. It is from your family, (hat tip to Robert Fulghum) your kindergarten teacher, your Sunday School teachers,  and your play groups which were probably selected from church relationships of your parents.  They all had in common a belief in a Moral Law Maker, God or Jesus depending on the church community. (Off topic my guess would be Jesus.) All moral instructions were of the form share this, don't hit, respect your elders, don't take the toy that isn't yours, etc. because Jesus won't like it if you don't do it. 

I grew up in a secular society and my friends and I learned from family, (hat tip toRobert Fulghum) kindergarten teacher, and play groups which were selected from secular relationships of  parents. All moral instructions were of the form share this, don't hit, respect your elders, don't take the toy that isn't yours, etc. because that is what we humans do. 

Please note in either case nothing is really learned, the admonitions are simply reinforcing the genetic necessities of intelligent social living.   

Friday, April 4, 2014

HowMuch Sleep is Enough

It depends on genetics.  A good article can be found at
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232784
Excerpt: Unfortunately, for most of us, sleep is the one non-negotiable. To operate optimally, 90 percent of the human population needs somewhere between seven to nine hours a night, says Ying-Hui Fu, a human geneticist at the University of California-San Francisco. She estimates that a small segment of the population -- about 3 to 5 percent – needs less than 6.5 hours, while an even smaller sliver (Fu places it at less than one percent) can function normally on less than five hours.
As one of the miniscule percentage 'tis nice.

 

If you think you might be a short sleeper the consistent wake time usually to the minute seems to be the characteristic to be aware of even on the first day off after a long week. (Or two.)  One short sleeper I talked to trained himself to "Feet on the floor at 4:44" every day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dual Careers and Sex

Excerpt from Amanda Hess in Slate
Gottlieb’s story relies heavily on a 2012 study (PDF) published in the American Sociological Review that found that when men in heterosexual marriages performed chores that are traditionally coded as feminine—like “folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming”—the couple had sex less frequently. But if the husband performed traditionally masculine chores, like mowing the lawn or taking out the trash, the couples “reported a 17.5 percent higher frequency of sexual intercourse”—and the wives were more sexually satisfied, too. The data on which the study is based was collected 20 years ago, when the husband who cooks dinner or does the dishes was still an anomaly, but Gottlieb cites one contemporary couple she’s treated in her psychotherapy practice as further evidence of the trend. The couple came to her looking for help distributing their career and household duties but found that once their responsibilities were balanced, their sex life suffered. The wife claimed that she was highly sexually attracted to her husband ”when you’re just back from the gym and you’re all sweaty and you take off your clothes to get in the shower and I see your muscles,” but that desire turns to irritation when the husband tossed his dirty clothes onto the floor, sparking an argument about his failure to vacuum the house. “So if I got out the vacuum, then you’d be turned on?” the husband asked. “Actually, probably not,” she replied. “The vacuuming would have killed the weight-lifting vibe.”

J'C rant here:

To the lady for whom the weight lifting vibe was turned off by vacuuming: Get out of that business suit, buy a Victoria Secret's maid uniform, do the vacuuming yourself and be ready when he comes home from the gym after a hard days work sucking up to the boss to pay for the secret.

As one who has been there, and done that with two high powered jobs and two high maintenance kids in the household, sex frequently was a cuddle in bed before sleep.  If we both had any energy left the cuddle might get more active, but the sexual attraction in either case was two multifaceted jobs at work and at home well done for the benefit of the family. 

Having to be turned on by some socially mandated "vibe" misses the point of sexual equality in the first place.  If one is a sex object on either side of the bed.  Forget the equality, you will never understand.  Go buy the maid outfit and find a partner that can afford it in exchange for sex. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Is Death an Extinction?

beliefnet
Is death an extinction
frbnsn

In the sense of the particular body, certainly.  In the sense of the whole person probably not.  That person has influenced others and for better or for worse that person will be remembered by those influenced.  "Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them."  Actually God is a piker.  The iniquity of some is visited on human memories for millennia, if only in myth.  

On the other side of the moral ledger those that have enriched human culture will be remembered as long a people can make music and tell stories.  Homer, Jesus, Shakespeare, Palestrina, Mozart and countless others are long since returned to the stardust of their origins.  To say they are extinct is the raving of a fool.  One can easily understand that the kid that sang "Twinkle, twinkle little star" or more likely "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman," to Mozart still lives on in Mozart's 12 Variations. 

Pain and Death and Morality

beliefnet
Humans and other social animals work very hard to eradicate pain because pain is next to death on the spectrum of things to try to avoid. There is a problem, however, in that humans have been inventing tools, weapons and machines that are designed to inflict pain and death in order to conquer and use other humans for thousands of years. Somebody want to continue this thought? I don't know exactly where to go with it. .christine3

Inflicting pain and death is part of survival for predators and frequently pain and risk of death are part of predation.  And humans are certainly predators.  Avoiding pain and death is a characteristic more of prey than predators, and social prey animals develop moral strategies to minimize pain and death for the social unit.  One universal moral imperative is protect the next generation at any cost.  Although it might be argued that this is a species survival instinct rather than a moral precept for our purposes the difference is probably insignificant. 

The real problem for humans is that they are both prey and predators.  In tribal societies (aren't we all) especially nomadic tribes resources are generally controlled by other humans and tribal survival means better killing tools, weapons and machines and not incidentally tribal moral imperatives that encourage their use.  Kill or subdue all the heathen, gentiles, or other "non-humans" that is, not us,  with the fear of pain and death.   It is no accident that religious morals distinguish strongly between "us" and "them" and discourage any sympathy or empathy for them. 

It is perhaps significant that the "thems" have not only developed highly efficient defensive killing and pain inflicting weapons, but have also developed more inclusive moral imperatives that recognize others as important as well.  Probably the most radical and important moral innovation of the Enlightenment was that all are equal.  OK all men, but that was the critical break with the "Us v. Them" morality.  And put the human race on the slippery slope to the humane treatment of all.  There are still those trying to claw their way back up the slope to the rock of hatred, frequently led by God the rock, but those "defensive" horror weapons in the hands of the relatively enlightened are formidable intimidators of the remaining predator humans. 

Interestingly one of the most intimidating of those weapons is the Enlightenment idea that all are equal.  The people in the streets have no fear of pain or death, and can in fact defy the most powerful offensive weapons.  See Tiananman Square or Kent State University. Certainly many were hurt and killed, but the mores of the world were radically changed.

Incidentally, I would put pain as a much greater fear than death. Suicide is a common solution to pain, emotional and physical. Three banksters seem to have heard the call to jail them and fear the pain that will be inflicted if those calls are implemented.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Late Pleistocene Predators.

The following is speculation pure and simple, but based on narrow science discoveries with a lot of help from the speculations of Jon Franklin in The Wolf in the Parlor .
Neanderthals were well adapted as European top predators in the late Pleistocene strong, large brained, robust and skillful hunters of large game.  They may even have preyed on Homo Sapiens, at least they toyed with Homo sapiens women.  Neanderthal DNA in the main H. Sap. genome with no mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthals would indicate that the preying was all one way.  It would seem that Homo sapiens mostly stayed out of their way where the ranges overlapped.

The other major top predator, particularly of smaller game that was probably the primary meat source of H. Sap was the wolf.    Wolves were skillful pack hunters and based on the ancient stories of wolf predation on humans may have been the primary predator of humans.   But some of the wolves apparently lost the pack hunting skills/instincts of other wolves and began to hang around human habitations.  Living on the abundant garbage of the frequently moving humans.  These "follower wolves" presumably also prey of wolf packs developed a herd type organization with a bark instead of a howl to warn of predators.  This predator warning was also useful to the humans who could respond intelligently to threats.  Over time Franklin speculates that the more docile of the follower wolves were co-opted as herd protectors, and most important as baby sitters and companions for the elderly and infirm.  An instinct/skill retained from the pack wolves.

The combined skills of the human-dog symbiote as Franklin speculates were critical in becoming the top predator in the Late Pleistocene.  I  suspect the extinction of the big game for whatever reason either over hunting by Neanderthals or climate change eliminated them from the comfortable niche they dominated, but the wolves remained as a major contender for the top spot.

Genesis 3:16

Beliefnet
DotNotInOz wrote:

The Garden of Eden story is one of the nastiest in the Bible. It was a setup from the get-go.

Somebody wanted to explain why people so often have "grass greener" syndrome, why we have to work, why women have labor pains and, generally speaking, why men get themselves in trouble when they listen to women.

How much you wanna bet a man who liked playing the misogyny card came up with that story?
teilhard wrote:
Every Mythological Story has some Level of "explanatory" Aspect ...

No Doubt MANY Women throughout History have resonated to Genesis 3:16 -- " ...in Pain you shall bring forth Children, yet your Desire shall be for your Husband ... "

Just to refresh your memory as to how this started.  You used the truncated Gen 3:16 to counter(?) or justify the accusation of misogyny.  Incidentally using Bible quotes to justify anything on an atheist board is generally a bad idea.

Nonetheless, linking the undeniable pain inherent in childbirth to the wrath of God and suggesting that women should "resonate" by associating the pain of childbirth with the dominance of the husband, is just what Christine and I have been talking about as one of the horrible exploitive aspects of the Abrahamic religions.  As I noted before Gen 3:16 is the worst verse in the Bible for half of the human population.  And in my opinion for men as well as it justifies abuse of women which degrades men as well as women.  On the other thread you indicated that owning slaves was degrading for slave owners.  Does abusing women cause similar approbation from you and your religious tradition?  It certainly does from my humanist tradition and I would submit from the tradition of Jesus as well.  


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why I Live.

beliefnet


Why do you desire to accomplish well your endeavors? Are you pleased with your creations / your accomplishments?  - 
iamachildofhis

Since they are in fact the meaning of life or at least mine, I had better accomplish my endeavors well, as they are how I affect others in my community, and how I will be remembered by them.  Overall I am quite pleased with my creations and accomplishments.  I chose most of them carefully as being beneficial to my community, and molded and shaped them to the best of my ability to
continue in the paths I set them on. Sooner or later I will die, leaving to my community my creations, my accomplishments, and "This valuable and useful space which I have occupied temporarily"  John Dobbs, atheist, from Legacy.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

More on Historical Jesus

beliefnet
A rational analysis of the available data admittedly limited to the Gospels and some recently discovered Gnostic writings, shows that the Nazarene cults centered on Jesus were popular enough that a century after his death they were documented by literate followers of the major cults centered on the male disciples.  A year or so after his death the cults were important enough that Saul was sent out by the Romans (Jews?) to suppress them.  After his famous incident on the road to Damascus, Paul found it necessary to promote the leader of these cults to his Christ, either as a political move to co-opt the cults, or as a cynical move to debase the populist leader to a conventional God.  In either case it worked and Christ became conflated with Jesus as "Jesus Christ."    In any event it was necessary to canonize the Gospels when Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.  Permitting a clandestine few to retain the populist, humanist ideals of Jesus with the Holy Bible as their writ albeit a la Jefferson a whole bunch of the NT was ignored.  The Enlightenment may be the flowering of these clandestine cults.  The parallels between the populist, humanist teachings of Jesus and the Enlightenment are apparent to all who wish to look with an open mind. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Social Reality

beliefnet

I think of morality as a socially generated reality.  It is not coexistent with physical or science reality as there is no way to measure it directly. It becomes real over time with a steep learning curve in childhood, and eventually becomes internalized as conscience. 

Like all realities it can change as new information is internalized, but by adulthood new information is strongly blocked by the belief system in the brain.   There are several other socially generated realities, religion and politics are the most prominent, and status of other humans seems to be another social reality, which is in my view independent of morality.  Morality deals only with "My people" whatever that means to the particular individual.

All socially generated realities are real only for the individual although within a small tight social group there may be many commonalities. 

Understanding social reality may be a key to dealing with others who may have a completely different reality.  Fundies as an example inhabit a reality that may even exclude physical science as real.  Pretending that they are deluded only complicates the issue of dealing with them rationally.  Presenting facts that conflict with social realities as fact is ineffective in dealing with the social reality of the fact denier.      

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Socially Responsible Humanism

Thad Yep, J'Carlin. That's my sense of "prick", too. And I reiterate: unfortunately, any prick can be a father, too. "Father" is not some noble vocation, unfortunately, and neither is "parent". In the U.S. today, the terms seem to be increasingly confused with "unpaid juvie officer". ...
 
Thad J'Carlin, you're doing a lot of generalizing there and in my experience, that sort of thing doesn't work very well. "Humanism" is also a grand phrase that's devoid of any practical meaning. What does one do if one is a humanist? What does treat everyone as if they had inherent worth really mean, in practice?

As my virtual friend Stream Angel well knows, I believe that it's quite easy to make these great sweeping statements about justice and equality and human worth and what not. What I think is difficult is to actually boil those down into concrete practices.

It's all well and grand to talk about "good parenting", for example, but what does that really mean in terms of practices? Some people will tell you a good parent needs to swat their kid's rear end occasionally. Others are horrified by the very idea and feel no compulsion against dropping a dime on a parent who'd do that.

Is it "good parenting", for example, to take a child to a brothel? Be careful: the question is a hell of a lot more tricky than you might expect.

I may be generalizing, admittedly a harder row to hoe, but cherry picking specific examples, what we call in Bible arguments prooftexting, is really worthless in any argument.  For any shit you sling on the wall I can find different shit to cover it up.  The only result is a shitty wall.  
 
The takeaway is that it is all solved by the principles of humanism (lc h) that is all people are humans.  Not men, not women, not children, not Christians, not Jews, not [whatever.]  Simply humans. Not all the same humans certainly, humans are all different, but if you put "human" before the [whatever] it really does change the way you think about and look at people.


If it is a human body builder does it really make a difference which costume the human is wearing?

If it is a human dancer does it really make a difference which costume the human is wearing?

If it is a human CEO does it really make a difference which costume the human is wearing?
If it is a human street person does it really make a difference which costume the human is wearing?
or for more difficult cases 
If it is a human bigot does it really make a difference which -ism the human is wearing?
If it is a human criminal does it really make a difference which suit the human is wearing?

Humanism does not mean noble or even not a prick.  But the assumption of inherent worth and dignity does change the way you think even of a prick.  Maybe a victim of bad parenting, or the wrong associations while an adolescent, or any of a host of factors.  Hesh is still a prick, a crippled human, but a human nonetheless.  

Please note.  I am saying nothing about what a humanist society will do to protect itself from crippled humans.  It must do so.  Even humanist societies remove threats, but even threat removal must recognize the dignity and humanness of the threat.   

Parenting is a different issue.  But the same principles apply.  A parent, that is a person or persons who chooses to accept a child into their family, also accepts the societal obligation to nurture and socialize the child to become a responsible human adult in the society.  The society will provide resources to help, but ultimately it is the responsibility of those who choose to parent to choose the most useful resources to supplement their nurturing guidance.  This is a joint effort of the parents and the society so whether the child goes to a brothel, is beaten into compliance with societal rules, or whatever is as much a society issue as a parenting one.  

 

 

Friday, October 25, 2013

TRUTH™ Means that Others are Wrong.

Beliefnet
The theist concern for the TRUTHTM is a critical difference that causes many problems.  If you have the TRUTHTM then by definition anything that does not comply with that TRUTHTM is necessarily inferior and/or wrong.  You are still under the delusion that an atheist or even a rational theist that thinks differently from you has a wrong belief, and that therefore considers their belief to be the TRUTHTM and all other beliefs inferior and/or wrong.
 
For most atheists and some rational theists this is simply not the case.  A rational approach to living merely says this paradigm works for me, and I will therefore follow this path.  Others are not necessarily wrong or inferior, they are just on a different path to a common goal, that is getting along with all people and things in a responsible way. 
 
As long as belief in God is subservient to getting along with others in a responsible way, I have no issue with that belief.  But if that belief is that God takes precedence over others and that those others are wrong and/or inferior, then we have a major problem.  It is those and only those theists that don't give the benefit of the doubt that are a problem for their fellows, theist or not.  Unfortunately, those theists are all too common and pose a real threat to atheists, and rational theists, and non-theistic believers in other truths.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is is sex or sexism that sells?


“Everyone says sex sells, but actually sexism sells. There’s a difference.” -@femfreq (via @mmjordahl)
Not so. If the attractive and provocative model pitching the oversize SUV convinces the buyer of either gender that the SUV will compensate for lack of the necessaries for attractiveness where is the sexism. Pure sex sell. Also, is Yuja Wang being sexist by selling her music by dressing appropriately for a star of her age? It sure makes the reviewers drool all over their copy, who is sexist here?
Jonathan Korman  The process is sexist. It doesn't need to be located in any individual.
A process cannot be sexist. It is the individual reaction only. Dressing appropriately for the job is not sexist. Consider a CEO in a power tie or scarf and shoulder pads, at the head of the table. Is hesh being sexist? Using sex to sell, or what?

This is the same argument that a runner in a sports bra/top and tight shorts is asking to be raped. It doesn't fly.

More later... 11/? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homophobia

Courtesy The Other 98% facebook. 10/14/13
I hate the word
Homophobia.
It isn't a phobia.
You're not afraid.
You're an Asshole.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Yesterday is up. No, it is East.

http://edge.org/conversation/how-does-our-language-shape-the-way-we-think
What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.
Where yesterday is depends on your native language in the title Mandarin and Kuuk Thaayorre (aboriginal Australian) respectively.  I don't know about you but as an English speaker it is behind me.

If you describe a key or a bridge in English, the words you choose have the characteristics of the gender of the word in your native language if that native language is gendered.

A sentence in Japanese where many things seem to me to be personalized I remember from my capital budgeting days is "The air conditioner for our office wants to leak, we are not permitted to repair it, but the building will close its eyes if we do so."

A fascinating article. Linked to study.  Well worth the time. 

Godless Evolution in a Nutshell

beliefnet
As the universe evolved heavy elements were created in hot massive stars that exploded seeding the universe with heavier elements that could react as elements do because of energy considerations to form compounds.   Some of the lighter elements, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, commonly reacted with hydrogen to form methane, ammonia and carboxylic acid, which in turn reacted to form amino acids the building blocks of life.  As stars and planets formed out of dust clouds in space those amino acids were distilled onto planets that were suitable in distance and energy flux to contain liquid water. Eventually life formed on such planets.  Hardly something from nothing.  But no creator necessary, simply physics, chemistry and energy.
 
As life evolved it became necessary for survival to sense and react to the environment in which life existed, as finding nutrients and avoiding being one, was necessary for survival and reproduction.  Those organisms that were good at sensing and reacting to the environment reproduced and thrived until something that sensed and reacted better came along and became locally dominant.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, until part of the package needed for survival was in addition to experiencing and doing, thinking, planning, and feeling were added to the mix.  In particular feeling good about the opposite sex to form pair bonds to facilitate getting infants to be reproducing adults.  Thinking and planning are added relatively early in evolution as all mammals and birds appear to do so.  

Those animals that have evolved to assist humans in guarding, herding, rodent control and other needed functions around settlements have learned to sense human feelings of happiness, joy, wonder, and do things that create them in order to survive in the presence of humans.  See Facebook threads of cute animals doing things to please humans.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spirituality is Ordinary Sensory Input.


Beliefnet
Okay, so we feel something unusual, overwhelming even. How can we be certain, as F1fan suggests, it's not simply imagination or tricks of perception due to our misinterpreting quite ordinary sensory input? DotNotInOz

It is. 

It is a purely natural response of the human mind to focus all of our attention on some unusual but ordinary sensory input to determine if it is a threat or or just something memorable.  Tennyson's poem is just a word salad.  A word salad like any other word salad but with an unusual "dressing" that tastes funny.  Is it poison like the word salad

"And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:1-3)"

or something profound that a reasoning human being should consider a life changing event? 

It is always your choice.  It is even your choice to dismiss it as imagination or misinterpretation.  Or something that was "inspired by God" and therefore a poison to run away from.  That "God hole" in your mind is a precipice to Hell.  Avoid it all all costs.  But it is also that scary view from the rim of the Grand Canyon, or the brow of Half Dome.  Never go there, your life might be changed forever.  

But as I said in a different context "I feel sorry for you."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beliefnet
 iamachildofhis wrote:
 JCarlin wrote:
 iamachildofhis wrote:
iama:  We know that "all die."

JCarlin: End of story.  Get used to it.

iama:  You have evidence?

Yep.  In a long lifetime with many friends of all ages, I have been to many funerals, and other rituals associated with the end of life.  In many the celebrant said nice things about the deceased being "with God" and that we should be happy that their alloted life of woe and sin is over, including the devoted wife and mother of a 2 year old child I was godfather for.  In 100% of the deaths, the living had no further contact with the deceased, except for memories of the good times when the deceased played, sang, enlightened, and otherwise brought joy to our lives.  It didn't matter what faith they were, real memories, were the only contact anyone had.  Ever. 

I was at a Catholic Requiem Mass recently where the celebrant made rude comments in the homily about celebrations of the lives of the deceased, implying that those lives were worthless, and that the only important thing was that the deceased was happy in heaven or would be at some point.  But all those still living wanted to talk about was the influence the deceased had on their lives and how they would miss it now that (whisper it) the deceased was with God.  

In all the funerals, and celebrations of life, I have been to, not even once has the deceased been present in the moment even lying in the casket, to share the stories, the songs, and all that made their life worth living.  Nor has any been back since except in memory to report on their experiences with God, or the worms, or even the mingling of the material remains with a beautiful sacred place for them. 

No matter really, the living do it for them and keep the meaning of that sacred place alive for them.   Part of the cremains of my sister are near the grave of her beloved Chopin, and even the picture of her son placing them can evoke the many times she shared Chopin and others with us on whatever piano was available.  Actually, not even a picture is necessary, any thoughts of her always included either her sharing music or her kitchen with all who loved her for both and the wisdom and love that were a part of either sharing. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Belief, Truth, Reality, and Learning

beliefnet

I believe nothing as beliefs are incompatible with that learning. The mind is configured to protect beliefs, and the only counter is to root out the beliefs, be aware of them and be ready to sprinkle a little salt on them as needed.

What do you mean here? Of course you believe things about reality. Are you just saying you are open to changing your currently tentatively held beliefs?
 Thetanager

I define "belief" as an emotionally accepted truth that needs no verification.  "God exists" is a belief.  "Fox News is fair and balanced" is a belief.  According to noted skeptic Michael Shermer in The Believing Brain beliefs come first and are defended later.   He further argues with strong scientific backing that information that tends to weaken or refute the belief is not even processed by the brain.  "Fox News is BS" is not even heard by a believer in Fox News. The "La, la, la, I can't hear you" is not figurative according to Shermer, it is a true statement.
I don't confuse "belief" with "true" in regard to statements or "real" in regard to the material world.  Both "true" and "real" are ultimately verifiable by independent means.  "You are 33" is a statement that I tentatively accept as true, but if someone else said it is false, we could resolve the dispute factually with documentation.  "The chair is real" can be verified by sitting on it.  You need not believe the chair is real.  If you were concerned you would sit tentatively and if it seemed substantial possibly rock on it to verify that it is functional as a chair.