Stories that have grabbed my attention over the last day or so.
Curing Religious Feelings
It’s all about the brain. One day we should be able to use fMRI tools (or their descendants) to identify psychopaths before they hurt someone and offer to cure them. Can we also use neuroscientific tools to help cure religious fundamentalists? I’m not sure they would willingly submit to be cured and we can’t ethically force them. Would you stop believing in imaginary gods and monsters if you could?
An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness.
Kathleen Taylor, who describes herself as a “science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics,” made the suggestion during a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday. In response to a question about the future of neuroscience, Taylor said that “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” The Times of London notes. (source)
Women Are Horny After All
I didn’t need journalist Daniel Bergner to write a book to tell me that my wife has a massive sex drive. She reminds me every day! He’s written the book anyway – “What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire”. According to the research he did for the book, many popular ideas about women’s sexuality is wrong, wrong, wrong. For example, they aren’t made for monogamy any more than men are. And women become physically aroused to a much wider array of visual stimuli than men, even though they deny it. Read the interview. (source)
Nazis On Meth!
No, that’s not the title of the sequel to Iron Sky, it’s the story about meth was invented by a German in 1938 and then distributed by the millions to Nazi soldiers. Makes me wonder what impact that might have had on their early successes – and their eventual downfall? We know Der Fuhrer didn’t partake of alcohol or cigarettes, but did he use meth?
…the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” (source)
We saw The Great Gatsby in 3D last night. It wasn’t the complete disaster I expected from the bad reviews and the stories about its troubled production, but I didn’t like it. I’m generally not a fan of Baz Luhrmann. I loved Strictly Ballroom, but all of his films since Romeo + Juliet have been too over-the-top for my tastes. I don’t mind CG effects if they are required – sure, go ahead and use them in The Avengers if you must. I just think character-driven stories don’t need them. We also saw Joe Wright recent adaptation of Anna Karenina a few months ago and I’m sure it also used CG, but it was used much more carefully, enhancing the story rather than over-powering it. That’s my two cents, anyway. Chrissy, on the other hand, loved it.
(he was Q in the latest Bond film), although he might be too big now. Cumberbatch is definitely too big – and he turned it down four years ago anyhow. It will probably be someone totally unknown. If I could choose, it would be Stephen Merchant.
Yeah the last season has been pretty dreary. It’s had a few cool moment (John Hurt) but nowhere near as cool as the first season of Eleven or the first couple of seasons of Ten.
How does the CEO of Evernote use Evernote?
Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, shares how he organises his personal install of Evernote.
As of the time of this answer, I have about 9,000 notes in my Evernote account divided among 45 notebooks. However, the majority of these notes are in my single, default notebook. (source)
A little disappointing to those of us who obsess over getting the right combination of Notebooks & Tags. At least he has more notes than I do (6617).
I totally endorse this rant by Penn Jillette. Sure, what Mormons (and Scientologists) believe sounds batshit crazy to most of us. But is it really any crazier than what mainstream Christians, Jews or Muslims believe? Hell no. “Just more modern, not more crazy”, as Penn says.
I’m as confused as Penn is about how otherwise intelligent-sounding people can just spout crazy stuff and act like it’s totally normal. It’s especially scary when you hear it from politicians, the people who are supposedly running the country. Surely there should be a sanity test that you have to pass before you can be elected to public office.
My question is this: what made her mentally incompetent?
Is it the believing in evil spirits or the murdering of her son?
It can’t be the murder aspect. If you believe in evil spirits and you are convinced that your son is possessed by them, wouldn’t murdering him be a rational response? That would make you competent.
I can only conclude that the court found that the mental incompetence was regarding the believing in evil spirits in the first place. And if believing in evil spirits makes you mentally incompetent, surely believing in good spirits holds equal stead?
Personally I agree – believing in spirits makes you kooky.
I meet people all the time who believe in evil spirits and are walking around in the community.
Not just Christians, either – Hindus, New Agers, Mahayana Buddhists, etc.
Now if all of these people living in society are mentally incompetent – for the same reasons as the woman from South Australia – what is to be done? I’m being serious. What should we do when, say, 80% of the population is defined (by the legal system, no less) as mentally incompetent? Should we mandate psychiatric help for them? I realise that not all of them are dangerous – but some obviously are and as a direct result of this belief in evil spirits.
What about politicians who believe, such as Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey? Should people who are mentally incompetent be allowed to work in politics? Should they allowed to be CEOs of companies? Should they be allowed to be parents?
The number of people reporting ‘No Religion’ also increased strongly, from 15% of the population in 2001 to 22% in 2011. This is most evident amongst younger people, with 28% of people aged 15-34 reporting they had no religious affiliation.
Three cheers for young people!
The Christians are continuing to lose ground steadily too:
There has been a long-term decrease in affiliation to Christianity from 96% in 1911 to 61% in 2011. In the past decade, the proportion of the population reporting an affiliation to a Christian religion decreased from 68% in 2001 to 61% in 2011.
If Christianity continues to lose 10% of its membership every decade, we will see it wiped out altogether in 50 years. The ACL’s days are numbered.
Unfortunately, the “no religion” answer doesn’t really give an accurate indication as to whether or not these people believe in other fluffy concepts like astrology, spirit guides or anything else that doesn’t fit neatly into traditional religions, so it’s hard to get a handle on whether or not we’re really getting smarter and more scientific, or if we’re just drifting away from monotheism.
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