Class Warfare Blog

June 4, 2020

Why Science Hasn’t Stamped Out Religion

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:42 am
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I was reading a piece on the Vridar blog site and Neil Godfrey wrote this (in 2013): “Religion has not gone away since the end of the Europe’s religious wars and the ensuing Age of Enlightenment. Indeed, scientific advances and the rise of secularism may even be largely responsible for religious revivals.”

One part of the reasoning behind this statement jumped out at me. As opposed to science, religion puts no intellectual demands on its proponents. Scientists are asked to explain themselves, and argue, and think . . . really, really hard. Religionists, to the contrary, are given warm “There, theres” and are not asked to think. They are not expected to answer or ask questions. They do not have a final arbiter of what is right and wrong as natural scientists have in nature.

As a college professor, I saw a great many students over the years, almost all of whom had selected a major course of study. Since the science courses I taught were not something that other students took to meet a breadth requirement or “for fun,” I tended to see the same types of students. And didn’t encounter students who were majoring in far flung intellectual pursuits. But I did meet and work with colleagues from all over the college. And one could see clear divides in those folk according to their chosen fields of study.

For one, there is a simple dichotomy between scientists and non-scientists that breaks along the lines of, what should I call it . . . social skills (?). Science types, often referred to as “geeks,” often lacked social skills one could observe elsewhere and it is my opinion that science attracts people with poorer social skills because the topic addresses and studies things and not people. (Things can be pinned down, people are inconsistent, variable, and often cantankerous.) Study science and you have fewer people to deal with and more things/facts/etc. (Yes, I know these are broad characterizations. There are many, many exceptions. I myself am a scientist who is suave as hell and comfortable in the company of a wide strata of society. And I need a tongue-in-cheek emoji here.)

Another fault line between scientists and non-scientists is math. To learn math, you must master, to some extent, abstract thinking. This makes a clear line between those who faired well in math (I wasn’t that good, just persistent.) and those who did not.

So, to make an argument or address a problem scientifically, you have to pull non-science types into a realm in which complex arguments, math, and foundational knowledge all are involved in complicated fashions. (Look at how complex environmental issues are often described with simplistic and, at root, misleading explanations. Global atmospheric warming was attributed to the Greenhouse Effect and greenhouses work primarily by not allowing warm gases to escape the house. This is not the mechanism of climate change as we are experiencing it now.)

On the other side of this divide, the religionists are told “There, there . . . all will be well” and other nonsense like “The blood of Christ will protect you in the pandemic.” (The latter led me to wonder where I can get me some of that shit.) It may be nonsense, but it is simple nonsense, making no intellectual demands and offering many reassurances, albeit vacuous ones.

I do not claim that all of this plays out consciously through free will. In general I think most of us drift in the currents of our lives (me, especially). But those unable to accept the complexity of real problems set in a real nature are subject to those more than willing to provide fantasy solutions set in a fantastic nature which are less demanding. All you need is faith and there are no real tests of that any more.

June 2, 2020

I Repeat . . .

Filed under: Culture,Morality,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 10:22 am
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A simple rule change is all that is needed to proscribe the actions of police officers. As I have suggested before, the actions of police need to be limited to the penalty were one convicted of the crime alleged. So, if someone is accused of passing counterfeit money, the most that infraction of the law can impose is a short stay in prison. If a police officer uses lethal force, it should be clear to everyone that that is not allowed and must be prosecuted. If someone is being arrested for the crime of passing counterfeit currency and they resist arrest, what is the penalty for resisting arrest? A short stay in jail. Anything imposed by police in excess of the punishment were the person being arrested convicted of the crime, is a violation of the law and must be prosecuted.

Using lethal force to arrest someone for jaywalking, or an equipment violation on a car is ludicrous and needs to be addressed and this way makes the police and prosecutors accountable for their decisions.

That someone is killed because he was selling cigarettes one at a time illegally, is ludicrous and no prosecutor should be given the option to “file charges against the officers involved or not.”

This is simple, easy to learn. If an officer is ignorant of the law, a quick call to dispatch can inform them of the amount of force that can be applied. (Come on, they do not have to memorize all of the penalties of all of the crimes, they just need to know which qualify for the death penalty. Any other infractions are covered by excessive force regulations.) When someone is arrested for selling single cigarettes, a scratch on the wrist from when handcuffs were applied is an acceptable amount of force. Remember these are the people who protect a detainee’s head when getting into a patrol car to be taken in to be booked. When they show extreme neglect of such care must be prosecuted.

Okay, if someone holds up a gun and seems to be going to shoot, can cops shoot back? Considering the police’s track records at shooting kids with BB guns, even an adult in a store shopping for Christmas and holding a BB gun, I think the police need to be trained to take cover and be authorized to return fire, not shoot “because I was afraid.” Being afraid and doing a good job is part of the qualifications for the job. It should not include the current “if you feel fear, open fire” dictates so often employed.

Interestingly police in other countries, some of whom are not armed with firearms, seem to do a better job at this than our police, so we know it can be done.

And, yes, all of the other recommendations about psychological testing, more training, and a national registry of police officers fired for cause being kept are all good, but I think the limits of the behavior of our police are good ones. And hiring police departments should be required to search that database before hiring.

May 29, 2020

The Values of the Western Cultural Tradition . . . Biblically Inspired?

I was reading a book last night and read this: “The implication is that this crisis should be of concern not only to theologians and clerics, but also to intelligent lay folk, and indeed to all who cherish the Western cultural tradition, which in large part derives from values enshrined in the Bible (emphasis mine).”

So, the nature of the crisis aside, have you read something like the italicizes part before? I have many, many times. But right now it seems a sop thrown to the Christians who often form the majority of citizens in Western countries.

So, our cherished “Western cultural tradition” is. . . ? We favor democracies as our governing models. Would a democracy be supported by anything in the Bible? Not at all. In the Bible it is Yahweh or the highway. The only allowed form of government supported by the Bible is a theocracy and a Christian (or Jewish) theocracy at that.

How about . . .
The separation of church and state in the U.S. and elsewhere? Nope.
No religion tests allowed in elections? Nope.
The elimination of blasphemy laws? Nope.
The elimination of anti-abortion laws (on going)? Nope.
The government refusing to support Christian schools? Nope.
Allowing people to get a divorce on their own recognizance? Nope.
Legal same sex marriage? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon gender? Nope.
Allowing people of different faiths to marry? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon race? Nope.
Trial by a jury of one’s peers? Nope
Local control of various government functions? Nope
Anti-slavery laws? Nope.

So, what are these “cherished” values “enshrined” in the Bible that are still part of our Western traditions? It seems that we have, step-by-step, weeded out all of those influences as being unenlightened. (Pun intended.)

 

May 28, 2020

Climate Change . . . Have We Been Too Optimistic or Too Pessimistic?

Some enterprising climate scientist went back to the early days of climate modeling and put the actual data involved into the models instead of the hypothesized data we used back then (we didn’t have all the data needed so we made up “reasonable” estimates). What they found was that those models were very close to being spot on. Their deviation from actual values of climate change parameters was mostly due to the faulty inputs, not the models themselves. Climate change opponents at the time were scathing in their “reviews” of the climate change model predictions as being premature, not capable of being done, being pie in the sky wishful thinking on the part of the scientists. Of course, the critics that were most prominent could barely spell climate change, let alone had mastered any of the intricacies.

As time went on the models were revised and we found a data consensus (based upon data from different sources indicating the same things). But for the critics, the predictions were “overblown,” “too pessimistic,” and neglected advances in technology that would mitigate much of the changes. Again, most of these objections were not science-backed, just economics-backed, aka they said “we are making too much money to change for you airy-fairy science types.”

Now we are finding out that the dire predictions we have been hearing for the past couple of decades have been far too optimistic, that is not pessimistic enough. More than a few effects of climate change that were predicted for years or decades in the future are happening now.

In short order, I expect the climate change deniers to start saying “How could we have known?” and “Who would have predicted this?” Assholes . . . greedy assholes.

May 25, 2020

I’d “Like” to Hear from the Nazi Flag Wavers

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:47 am

I put “like” in the title in quotes because if I actually did hear from Nazi flag wavers, I suspect that I wouldn’t like what I heard.

What I would “like to know” is what part of Nazism do they like and espouse.

Do they like and espouse, for example, making war on one’s neighbors to make space for more Germans (or Americans) to live and if a few million of the neighbors die in that process, well that makes even more room for us?

Do they like and espouse, for example, letting a small cadre of politicians redefine the country any way they deem fit, even if it contradicts all previous version of the country?

Do they like and espouse, for example, identifying cadres or “races” of people to blame for the current ills of the country (well, and past ones, too)?

Do they like and espouse, for example, crafting and executing plans to exterminate the cadres/races of people identified as “enemies of the state?”

Do they like and espouse, for example, indoctrination of the entire populace, but especially young people, to respect, adore, love the Leader of the small cadre of politicians through propaganda based upon nothing real?

Do they like and espouse, for example, controlling all of the news media so that they only report what the ruling regime wants reported?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the efficiency of the Nazi’s secret police, that was able to kill or disappear any persons who were the slightest bit inconvenient to the plans of the small group of ruling politicians?

Do they like and espouse, for example, rigged elections that when they produce the desired effect then result in elections being suspended as being counterproductive to the plans of the ruling elites?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the pushing of religious leaders into the background where their influence becomes nil?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the Nazi’s promotion of white supremacy/racial superiority?

What is it about Nazism that they love so much that they promote it by waving a Nazi flag?

Or are they just childishly seeking attention that their rather meager skills otherwise do not merit?

Enquiring minds want to know. . . .

May 21, 2020

How I Know UFOs Aren’t of Alien Origin

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Science — Steve Ruis @ 10:31 am
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I was watching a program available on Amazon Prime called Hanger 1 which refers to a storage facility in which the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) keeps its files. An episode I watched last night referred to “crashes and cover-ups,” which “exposes” governments covering up the recoveries of crashed UFOs to harvest their technology out of public scrutiny. (That hypothesis is not hard to accept.)

In any case, at one point they showed a map of the eastern hemisphere with dots indicating all of the UFO crash sites they have identified in just the 1990s and 2000s. There were over a dozen of these crash sites indicated.

At that point I sought another program to watch. (Why was I watching in the first place? Because pandemic, that’s why.)

The reason these claims defy all reason is that the claims of alien origins for UFOs is based upon the hypothesis that aliens have technology far superior to ours (anti-gravity, tractor beams, flight without inertia, etc.) which as enabled them to traverse vast distances through space to come here, to visit our planet and “do things.”

Superior technology, my ass. If it is superior, how come so many of the dammed things crash into the planet. Dozens and dozens have crashed they claim … recently!

Oh, I know, aliens are bad drivers! They are fine when the have vast amounts of empty space around them, but when they get close to a planet, they hit it, repeatedly. No, wait, it is only juvenile aliens who come here to test out their hotrodded spacecraft and, as teenagers here do too, they push those craft a little too hard and Wham! No, wait . . .

May 11, 2020

Texas Governor Declares Texans Fit for Guinea Pig Role

The Governor of the State of Texas is allowing businesses, including barber shops, to reopen. Since barber shops can scarcely function with distancing controls in place, I assume this means without any such controls. Other states are to follow.

I guess we should thank the Republican governors supporting Donald Trump for volunteering to be guinea pigs for this pandemic.

Since (a) we still do not have enough test kits available to determine an accurate count of such cases and (b) I do not trust these shitweasel politicians to report accurate counts even if they were, we will only have the numbers of deaths in Texas as a measure of their success or failure. Shitweasel politicians are always willing to send the able-bodied into wars, disease hotbeds, etc. as long as they themselves and their families are not at risk.

Interestingly, someone looked up the normal range of deaths for the months of the pandemic, nationwide, and that number is definitely not normal, that is it isn’t in the range of the numbers of people who would die over such a period. Interestingly the “overage” is about twice the number of COVID-19 deaths, so either those deaths are being under reported or there are secondary causes for these “extra” deaths, such as medical facilities being full of coronavirus patients and not enough care is available to go around to everyone.

May 9, 2020

The Royals v. The Tabloids

Filed under: Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 8:48 am
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It seems the main reason to have royals of the British sort now is so the tabloids have something to publish about this or that tiff in their weird social club.

I find the whole idea of royals to be absurd in the first place. Consider the British Royals Harry and William. So, what do they bring to the table? Why are they so “special?” Well, they are special because they were born of “special parents.” Those parents were Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spenser. Lady Diana Spenser was “special” because she was born of “special parents,” and more so because she married a “very special” person, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. Prince Charles was special because he was born of “special parents,” too. And those parents were special because they were born of “special parents,” and on and on. Most of these people have done nothing to merit their “special” claim, albeit one or another does something charitable from time to time, but so do many other people.

When you get back to “special people” who actually did things to merit their specialness, we find that the main skills of these people were: spending other peoples money in large quantities. One was to lavish expensive gifts upon themselves: jewels, clothes, houses, land (lots of land), food, wine, . . . there really was almost no limit. And of course, lavishing gifts and “grants of specialness,” aka titles, on their friends and relatives. The other main activity was unnecessary wars.

Imagine what would have happened if each of the wars initiated by British royals had been forgone. What would have changed? How would people’s lives have been different? Obviously if someone else brings war to your land, someone needs to lead a response, but this doesn’t seem to be all that common.

Consider the back and forth wars with the continent made by British monarchs. What were these about? Mostly they were about who was to be the most “special” where. The tussles over who ruled Normandy were incredibly destructive but the claims of both sides were equally ridiculous. The royals were motivated by ego, greed, vengeance, etc. none of which had anything to do with the future of the British realm.

And at one point more than half the countries in Europe were ruled over by people from one family. Now, that’s special.

Think about all of the times people have done wonderful things for you. Doctors, dentists, car mechanics, plumbers, you name it. You remembered their effort with a gift or a Christmas card come that season. You didn’t worship them as a monarch.

Well, those are small things, what about the big things?

Ah, you mean like Abraham Lincoln did in preserving the union or Franklin Roosevelt in fighting the Second World War and helping to win it? Did we kneel down to any of those? Did we acknowledge that they were divinely inspired agents of God? It seems that this divine right of kings bullshit was made up as a way that religions could support monarchies giving the religions some say as to which monarch would rule. (How many European monarchs got excommunicated because of their bad behavior, eh?)

If at one time in our development, we may have need a war leader who we gave some authority over us to. But we didn’t have to go whole hog (as the Vikings proved) as we acceded to most everywhere.

History is a story in which human beings think way too much of themselves. I call it the Great Man Theory of History.

May 4, 2020

Now and Then

Filed under: Art,Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 10:03 am
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I just read an obituary for Tony Allen, the drummer’s drummer and one of the eulogizer’s pointed out that he sought for someone who could play his pieces as Tony had, but that drummer was not yet born, apparently. Musicians who are transformative often prove hard to impossible to replicate.

A little more than a century ago when such a musician died, the best that we could hope for in a musical legacy was sheet music, and of course the effect that musician had on his fellow musicians. But listeners had no way to observe the effect, other than in memory once that musician died.

Before written sheet music, the best we had was that so and so was taught by “him,” you know. “He was a student of . . .” was another way to say the same thing. But there was no way to share that with future generations.

Now, we have sheet music, commentary, video, and audio recordings, autobiographies, etc. so as far as musical immortality, we are much closer to that, but still people bemoan the loss of people who cannot be replaced.

The life lesson is that replicating the past is important, especially is we want to know “where we came from” in a tradition, but what is more important is what we create next. Having just a focus on the past gets to a state of stale rapidly. Taking what was offered and moving up to new highs, now that is a challenge, a challenge Tony Allen met, extraordinarily well. He survives in recordings as an inspiration to all future drummers and musicians.

April 24, 2020

The Industrial Usurpation

(The title was to be The Industrial Revolution Usurpation, but I can’t seem to format fonts in the damned titles! SR)

Ian welsh had a fascinating take on the roots of capitalism (The Transition to Capitalism) which I recommend to you. I have excerpted much of it below to make my point, starting with …

“One of the most important things to understand about industrial capitalism is that the lower classes didn’t want it.

“Peasants did not leave the land voluntarily. They were forced off, often with violent force, in a series of enclosures, where their millennium old rights to use the land were taken together.”

“With the fields enclosed, the peasantry lost control of capital: land is capital. They couldn’t grow their own food, raise sheep for wool, chop down trees for fuel and so on.

“They were thus forced off the land, into the slums of cities and had to work for industrialists, six and a half days a week, 12 hours a day on average. They died younger, there was far more disease, they were maimed often and they lived worse.

“They knew this. They resisted. They hated.

“Capitalism, among the many things that it is, is the concentration of capital in the hands of a few people. That means access to capital is removed from most people. They must now work for someone else. In some times and places that work is nice, at others it is not, but it is a loss of control and choice.

“Peasants and free farmers in Britain had far more control over what they did and when than factory workers. In fact, they had more control than most modern American workers do today.”

“The choice for most people today is to choose their master, not to choose to have no master.”

“They control the capital. We do what they tell us to, negotiating only who wields the whip.

“That’s capitalism.

“Did it have to be that way?”

In reading this, it seems as if capitalism is the crowning achievement of civilization.

Most people consider “being civilized” as an asset, a complement even, but actually civilization occurred through force, just like the onset of industrial capitalism. Hunter-gathers had it much better than an existence as a farmer provided, but they were given no choice. Actually, they did have one choice left and that was to hightail it out of that “civilization” and apparently more than a few “farmers” did just that. They had the advantage of possessing skills in living off the land which were still quite recent. These “defections” resulted in severe labor shortages which led to large scale slave raids on neighboring populations. And, as I have mentioned before, many of these nascent civilizations didn’t last a century or in some cases even close to that length of time.

So, civilization was brought about by force. The hunter-gatherers transformed into farmers did not want it, but the elites forced the issue. Since confiscating the “surplus food” grown through forced labor supported more soldiers, the idea grew basically as the only way to stem the threat one’s neighbors now posed.

And then from the above we are able to appreciate the coup-de-grâce of industrial capitalism once again forced by elites (elites who were often more wrong than right, but they always seem to decide in their own favor somehow). The key line in the above, for me, is “The choice for most people today is to choose their master, not to choose to have no master.” Basically this says that you are born into a form of serfdom and there are very, very few ways out. This may possibly be the source of our addiction to “self-made man” mythologies, especially the ones in which an “ordinary Joe” becomes a millionaire.

If I may repeat Ian Welsh: “Did it have to be that way?” And, does it have to continue to be this way?

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