Thursday, May 17, 2012
Born to win! The drive to success is in our genes, say scientists - and DNA dictates if we triumph or fail
Yet more evidence that genes are the main factor in what we are. Behaviour geneticists have known all this for years. The only problem is that nobody wants to believe it -- Leftists particularly
Some people are born a success, scientists believe. Research shows that much of our predisposition towards determination, sociability and self-control and sense of purpose is in our genes. In fact, our DNA plays a bigger role in influencing these traits than our upbringing and the company we keep.
Taken together, these facets of personality can make the difference between success and failure, say the Edinburgh University researchers.
They questioned more than 800 pairs of twins about their attitudes to life to tease apart the influences of nature and nurture. Comparing identical twins, who share all their DNA and their upbringing, with non-identical twins, who have a shared background but are no more genetically alike than other siblings, is a technique often used by researchers to quantify the influence of genetics.
The results, published in the Journal of Personality , revealed genes to play a much bigger role than lifestyle, with self-control particularly etched into our DNA.
Our genes also largely determine how determined and persistent we are. This is important in terms of success, as someone who refuses to give up is more likely to achieve their dreams than someone who throws in the towel at the first hiccough.
Researcher Professor Timothy Bates said: ‘Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have debated the nature of a good life and the nature of a virtuous life. ‘Why do some people seem to manage their lives, have good relationships and cooperate to achieve their goals while others do not?
‘Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people's ideas about what affected psychological well-being. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics.’
However, those who haven’t been dealt a helpful hand of genes shouldn’t be too despondent. The professor says a sense of purpose is key and advises those vying for success to focus their thoughts on making a difference.
Free speech row after British watchdog asks Christian blogger to justify 'offensive and homophobic' anti-gay marriage advert
Advertising watchdogs have demanded an explanation after a Christian blogger posted an allegedly 'offensive' advert on behalf of a petition against plans to legalise gay marriage.
The writer, known by the pen name Archbishop Cranmer, said the Advertising Standards Authority received 24 complaints and is asking that he respond to claims that the message - which asks viewers to 'Help us keep the true meaning of marriage' - is homophobic.
The Coalition for Marriage advert flickers between pictures of heterosexual couples on their wedding day, the phrase 'I do' and a message citing a market research poll that showed '70% of people say keep marriage as it is'.
The campaigners behind the petition describe themselves as 'an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support traditional marriage and oppose any plans to redefine it'.
The ASA has stressed that the adverts, rather than the blogger, are the subject of their probe - and insist he is not compelled to justify the campaign message.
However, Archbishop Cranmer - who takes his pseudonym from a sixteenth-century reformer - remained adamant that the ASA is trying to restrict his and the Coalition for Marriage's right to free speech.
In a post attacking the anonymous complainants he wrote: 'They called in the Gestapo to censor the assertion that marriage is a life-long union between one man and one woman, in accordance with the teaching of the Established Church, the beliefs of its Supreme Governor, and the law of the land.'
Fellow ecclesiastical bloggers leapt to his defence and even the National Secular Society, which is in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, has stood by him. A statement from the society read: 'The NSS wants to announce its support for the Archbishop Cranmer blog. Although it disagrees with this blogger profoundly on so many issues, it agrees with him entirely that the Advertising Standards Authority is overstepping the mark and posing a rather sinister threat to freedom of expression.'
Though the NSS went on to distance itself from Archbishop Cranmer and the Coalition for Marriage campaign, it argued the complaints made to the ASA were 'not reason enough to silence them'.
The ASA today stressed it would not necessarily uphold the complaints, which would lead to the ad being banned. It said in a statement: 'The right of advertisers responsibly to express their views will undoubtedly be an important factor in our assessment of whether the ads are likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We are also looking at whether the ads are misleading.'
The authority also responded to Archbishop Cranmer's outrage over the 'threatening' way in which it approached him, explaining that: 'We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to ‘offence’ complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended'.
Of the 24 complaints said to have been lodged, ten took issue with the advert's allegedly offensive content.
The rest demanded evidence to back up the claim that seven in ten people do not want any change to marriage laws - but as this figure came from major polling agency ComRes, the ASA did not expect those who posted the advert to provide this.
Free speech 'strangled by law that bans insults' and is abused by over-zealous British police and prosecutors
Theresa May is being urged to reform a controversial law which bans ‘insulting words or behaviour’ amid mounting evidence that it is strangling free speech.
Campaigners say the Public Order Act is being abused by over-zealous police and prosecutors to arrest Christian street preachers, critics of Scientology, gay rights campaigners and even students making jokes.
Currently, Section 5 of the 1986 Act outlaws ‘insulting words or behaviour’, but what constitutes ‘insulting’ is unclear and has resulted in a string of controversial arrests.
Human rights campaigners, MPs, faith groups and secular organisations have joined forces to have the ‘insulting words or behaviour’ phrase removed from the legislation, arguing that it restricts freedom of speech and penalises campaigners, protesters and even preachers.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis, a leading campaigner for civil liberties, said reform was ‘vital to protecting freedom of expression in Britain today’.
‘There is a growing list of examples where the law against using “insulting” language has led to heavy-handed action by police and prosecutors. It is not only distressing for the individuals concerned, it constitutes a threat to Britain’s tradition of free speech,’ he said.
‘Of course nobody likes to be insulted, particularly in public, but nor does anyone have a right not to be insulted. Freedom of speech includes the right to criticise, to ridicule and to offend. It is not the job of the police and the courts to prevent us from having our feelings hurt.
‘The solution is simple: The law needs to change. The word “insulting” should be removed from section 5 of the Public Order Act. This would provide proportionate protection to individuals’ right to free speech, while continuing to protect people from threatening or abusive speech.’
A poll by ComRes, commissioned by campaigners, found 62 per cent of MPs believe it should not be the business of Government to outlaw ‘insults’. Only 17 per cent of MPs believe removing the ‘insult’ clause would undermine the ability of the police to protect the public.
In an unlikely alliance, the Christian Institute is joining forces with the National Secular Society to back the campaign, because both organisations are committed to free speech and open debate.
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: ‘Britain’s historic civil liberties were often hammered out amid controversy over freedom to preach without state interference. Christians know first hand why free speech is precious and this is why the Christian Institute is pleased to join people across the political and philosophical spectrum to help bring about this simple but important change.’
Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: ‘Secularists, in defending free expression, must ensure that the law is fair to everybody and argue equally for the right of religious and non-religious people to freely criticise and exchange opinions without fear of the law, unless they are inciting violence. Free speech is not free if it is available only to some and not others.’
Others backing the campaign include Big Brother Watch, the Freedom Association and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Mr Tatchell, a prominent gay rights advocate, said Section 5 was a ‘menace to free speech and the right to protest’. He added: ‘The open exchange of ideas – including unpalatable, even offensive, ideas – is a hallmark of a free and democratic society.’
In October, Home Secretary Mrs May launched a consultation on the Public Order Act, including whether the word ‘insulting’ in Section 5 strikes the right balance between freedom of expression and the right not to be harassed, alarmed or distressed. The consultation closed four months ago, but the Government has yet to set out its views.
Banning Crosses, Erasing History
A simmering controversy surrounding the "Ground Zero Cross" exposes the intolerance and absolutism behind ongoing battles over religious symbols on public property. Contrary to popular belief, it's not Christian conservatives who normally start these bitter disputes. It's more often atheist activists who seek to alter the long-standing status quo by scrubbing the landscape of the most visible signs of the nation's religious heritage.
American Atheists, an organization representing the civil liberties of agnostics, filed suit in 2011 to block display of the Ground Zero Cross anywhere on the grounds of the new memorial museum planned for the World Trade Center site. The artifact in question became the best known piece of debris recovered from the terrorist attacks, when workmen spotted it on Sept. 13, 2001. The huge cross beam, presumably detached from the collapse of the North Tower and hurled down with many tons of rubble onto the stricken eight-story structure to its northeast, somehow survived intact and almost immediately became an informal shrine for the tireless crews who labored to clear Ground Zero.
A Franciscan friar blessed the welded girders as a sign that "God had not abandoned Ground Zero." Later, with the cross installed on a city-approved pedestal, millions of tourists came to pray or leave flowers, but as construction proceeded at the World Trade Center, a crane helped to move the giant welded girders to nearby St. Peter's Church in 2006.
The lawsuit insists the relic must remain where it is, but planners for the new museum, supported by many 9/11 families, want the cross returned to Ground Zero as part of the permanent memorial. The lawsuit cites "mental pain and anguish" suffered by the plaintiffs due to "the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack."
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League, which often takes a dim view of religious symbols in government-owned locations, declared that it "fully supports" the inclusion of the cross in the museum.
On my radio show, Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, denounced the potential placement of the cross as unfair because there would be no comparable display of atheist or Muslim symbols. But no one happened to recover atheist symbols (whatever they might be) from the rubble. The cross deserves its unique place of honor because of its powerful historic connection to the first dark days after the terrorist attack.
Moreover, America's leading government-funded art museums all boast collections of sacred objects, including icons, crucifixes and altar pieces exhibited for their historical and artistic significance.
Had fate shaped the steel beams into any form other than a Christian cross, American Atheists would never think to object to its museum display. The group's visceral hostility to the cross plays a role in a number of continuing controversies:
* In Woonsocket, R.I., the Freedom From Religion Foundation seeks to remove a World War I memorial topped by a cross that has stood without controversy on city property since 1921.
* In the Mojave National Preserve in California, officials are hoping to settle an 11-year dispute over a "desert cross" first erected on Sunrise Rock in 1934, also to commemorate the sacrifices of those who served in the Great War. In a complicated agreement, private parties have pledged to donate 5 new acres to the 1.6 million-acre federal reserve in return for title to the single acre on which the cross formerly stood before vandals destroyed it. Veterans groups hope to restore the monument, but they must first enclose the area in a chain-link fence with signs explaining that the cross stands on now private property.
In each of these fights, it's the opponents of long-standing religious displays who seek to impose their narrow views on the rest of us. It hardly amounts to an effort to impose theocracy when people of faith defend monuments that have inspired passersby for generations. In the case of the Ground Zero Cross, for religious believers, the artifact they honor played a prominent role in the haunting imagery after the terror attacks.
Meanwhile, secular extremists seek to erase such imagery from the collective consciousness and to purge public places of religious reminders. For skeptics, prominently displayed crosses convey the uncomfortable message that the great majority of Americans still honor a faith that self-proclaimed free-thinkers hold in undisguised contempt.
Beneath all the hypocrisy over constitutional restraints and traditional walls of separation, secular activists and self-styled defenders of "civil liberties" seek to transform American society in a way that our Founders and most subsequent generations would never recognize. They seem eager to defend flag-burning, obscenity and every other form of radical expression, while seeking to suppress emblems of the Christian faith that helped shape the nation since the arrival of earliest colonists.
An experiment in enforced secularism might count as a bold departure from the nation's God-haunted past, but it's hard to believe it would produce a better country than the beloved, multifarious and clashing religious symbols that have always characterized our faith-based pluralism.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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