Monday, March 28, 2016

Human religions

There is a site of the above name maintained by Englishman Vexen Crabtree, who says he is a Satanist.  He has slender academic qualifications but he seems to have read widely.   Curiously enough, however, he seems dismissive of religion generally.  Only the small band of Satanists have the truth, apparently.

As an atheist myself I find his Satanism amusing but I was interested to see what he has up about religion and IQ.  It is commonly asserted that religious people are a bit dim and he accepts that uncritically.  The only actual evidence he quotes, however is as follows:

[Paul Bell in Mensa Magazine, 2002, reviewed all studies taken of religion and IQ. He concluded:]

"Of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one's intelligence and/or educational level, all but four found an inverse connection. That is, the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious or hold "beliefs" of any kind."

As I have pointed out previously, however, such studies are usually poorly sampled and usually report only slight effects.  Religious people are less frequent among high IQ people but not by much.  And the whole effect could be artifactual:  High IQ people get on better within higher education so almost certainly get more of it.  But universities are places where religion is skeptically viewed so  high IQ people will get more exposure to anti-religious messages.  And greater exposure to anti-religious messages would be very likely to undermine religious belief to some extent.  So it could be that the level of university exposure accounts wholly for the slightly smaller number of religious people in a high IQ population.

That could be tested fairly easily by assessing  religion and IQ BEFORE the people got into university.

In short, I doubt that IQ has any influence on whether you are religious or not.  It is probably a surprise to most of my fellow atheists but religious people think THEY are stupid.  You have to be pretty dim to think creation was a spontaneous, uncaused event, according to religious people.

There is what I think is good evidence for no association between religion and IQ here

The NFL’s Bullying of Believers

Do you think a pastor who’s against same-sex marriage should be forced to perform same-sex weddings? Do you believe that a religious college should be allowed to hire only people who agree with the religious beliefs of the college? Do you think no one should be forced to attend a wedding he doesn’t agree with?

If so, cheers: The National Football League basically thinks you’re a bigot.

A CBS News/Associated Press story Sunday, headlined "NFL warns state of Georgia over ‘religious freedom’ bill," reported that "the NFL acknowledged that the religious exemptions bill … could have an impact on the selection process for the championship game in 2019 and 2020." Atlanta is one of four cities up for the next two Super Bowls.

Yes, because who wants the Super Bowl in a state where some random clergy member may not be forced to perform a gay wedding? That would totally wreck the ambiance of…a sports game.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

The bill in question, now on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, is embarrassingly limited. I’m not exaggerating: The bill’s applications to religious liberty are so minor that it likely wouldn’t even protect Catholic nuns like the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are currently in a legal fight to not be forced by the federal government to offer health care that includes contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

And according to my Heritage Foundation colleagues Ryan T. Anderson and Roger Severino, the Georgia bill "provides no protection for bakers or florists or other similar wedding professionals who cannot help celebrate a same-sex wedding" because of their religious beliefs.

In other words, Georgia residents like the Kleins (the Oregon bakers fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding), the Giffords (the New York couple fined $13,000 for declining to host a gay wedding at their family farm), and Barronelle Stutzman (the Washington state florist in a legal battle over her refusal to provide flowers for a gay wedding) wouldn’t be protected by the proposed law at all.

In fact, this bill’s protections for believers are so minimal that in theory even top Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be able to support the bill.

Florida’s Wasserman Schultz told The Daily Signal last year that the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage "doesn’t mean that churches and religious institutions have to conduct same-sex marriages and it doesn’t mean that religious institutions aren’t able to practice their own values."

But the NFL is geared up to lecture anyone who thinks religious liberty matters.

"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement, adding that the NFL may evaluate "whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies" when looking at Super Bowl contenders.

Yes, because tolerance and inclusiveness require making sure people of faith who don’t support same-sex marriage have no freedom to live in accordance with their beliefs.

Nor is the NFL the only big businesses weighing in against believers.

"We urge Gov. Deal to veto the discriminatory legislation headed to his desk and send a clear message that Georgia’s future is one of inclusion, diversity, and continued prosperity," said Apple in a statement. Hundreds of companies are part of Georgia Prospers, a coalition that told The New York Times that the bill "could harm our ability to create and keep jobs that Georgia families depend upon."

What would they even have left to say if Georgia had actually moved to substantially protect the consciences of believers?

This is unbelievable.

There is no doubt that lesbian and gay Americans have not always been treated with the civility and respect they deserve throughout our history. And that is a shame. But the answer is not now to force those who have deeply held moral beliefs about the nature of marriage to act against their consciences.

And in fact, the Georgia bill could also help protect the consciences of LGBT residents, such as by allowing a college founded by those who believe that same-sex marriage is a moral necessity to decline to hire professors who disagreed.

Like the NFL, I believe in tolerance. But unlike the NFL, I think that means recognizing that in our lawsuit-crazy era, that means sometimes giving legal protections to people who want only to be allowed to live in accordance with their consciences.

Ultimately, if the NFL were serious about limiting the Super Bowl to states and local areas that promote "tolerance," that would mean the NFL should look to hold Super Bowls only in states with religious freedoms. 

Unfortunately, it looks as if football fans can join Apple users and others in realizing that the businesses they once loved are now working vehemently against them—and their beliefs.


British border guards are BANNED from X-raying trucks searching for illegal immigrants - in case the radiation harms the stowaways' health

Yet medical X-rays are OK?

British border guards have been banned from X-raying lorries while searching for illegal immigrants at French ports in case the radiation harms the stowaways' health, it was revealed today.

Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union said that her members are only permitted to use the scanners at ports in France when searching for smuggled or illegal goods.

The revelation comes as it emerged that at least 24 of the migrants who made it to Britain hiding in the back of two lorries earlier this week have already been given their freedom.

Mrs Moreton told The Times: ‘The French will not allow us to use them for looking for illegals. They only allow us to use scanners to search for contraband, not people.’

Speaking to the newspaper’s reporters Richard Ford and Sean O’Neill, the ISU general secretary added that the machines are 'very, very slow to operate, taking about an hour per each vehicle'.

Also yesterday, Mrs Moreton suggested that increased borders checks in the wake of the Brussels attacks are likely to only last for two weeks because the ‘stepped up’ level cannot be maintained.

Mrs Moreton - from the ISU, which represents border agency and immigration staff - said checks had been ‘raised’ at border points but would significantly disrupt freight if they continued long-term.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: ‘There's quite a lot of immediately available money for very high profile types of interventions.

‘We've stepped up controls at the border, and at all borders, but it is maintaining that at a high level for a long period of time and whether there is the political will, or potentially even the necessity to do so.’

Asked if there was the political will, she replied: ‘Experience from past would suggest that it isn't. The increased checks at the border last about two weeks, or that's how long they lasted after the Paris attacks.’

Meanwhile, an independent report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found plans to remove foreign criminals and illegal immigrants were cancelled in 40 per cent of cases.

And last night it was revealed at least 24 of the migrants who made it to the UK hiding in the back of two lorries in recent days have already been set free.

All 51 stowaways had claimed asylum and the remaining 27 men, women and children who were discovered sneaking into the country were expected to have been let out by last night.

One of the trucks arrived in the UK on Wednesday, hours after Home Secretary Theresa May announced toughened border security following the Brussels suicide bombings in which 31 were killed and 270 wounded.

We've stepped up controls at the border, and at all borders, but it is maintaining that at a high level for a long period of time and whether there is the political will, or potentially even the necessity to do so

It was a damning illustration of how Britain has lost control of its borders – and fuelled fears about the rigour of security checks during the current terror alert.

All 51 migrants are understood to have claimed they were fleeing war, persecution and humanitarian disaster in Iran, Iraq and Syria.

By yesterday most had been processed at the Kent Intake Unit, where they were offered food, drink and medical attention, and underwent security screening.

After this was done, they were officially classed as asylum seekers – then released from the centre to specialist accommodation or to live with family with instructions only to report in intermittently.

The Mail reported in 2008 that UK border guards in Calais had been banned from using X-rays to search for illegal immigrants in lorries, unless they asked for the stowaways' written permission.


Right to Try: A Policy with No Downside

Terminal patients deserve a right to try live-saving medicine.

Imagine you or a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Currently available medicine has no cure, and barring a miracle, you’ll be dead in a matter of months. You’re told about an experimental new drug that has been shown to help people in a similar situation, perhaps even cure them. Wouldn’t you be willing, in the absence of any other hope, to try such a drug? After all, you’ve got nothing to lose, right?

Too bad. Unfortunately for you and others like you, the medicine in question has been caught up in the FDA’s lengthy approval process, and will not be released to the public until it will be too late. The law prohibits you from taking the one chance you might have to beat a deadly illness. Why? For your own protection, of course.

If this reasoning seems perverse to you, you’re not alone. It makes no sense to try to protect dying people from trying to save their own lives. That’s why many states have embraced a policy known as "right to try." Under right to try laws, terminal patients are permitted to try unapproved drugs that might save or prolong their lives. Of course, all this is done with fully informed consent, under consultation with a qualified physician, and no one is being made to accept treatment against their will. We’re not talking about wildly untested or debunked medicines, but rather legitimate drugs that have simply not yet cleared the final hurdles of official approval.

In fact, one of the flaws in the current right to try structure is that the administrative process for obtaining experimental medicines is still too lengthy and restrictive, but any step in the direction of giving patients more control over their treatments is good for freedom, as well as for public health.

So far, right to try legislation has been limited to the state level, with 21 states legalizing the practice, and pending legislation in 19 more. Last year, however, Rep Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced a federal bill that would pave the way for right to try nationwide. The bill bans the federal government from interfering with the distribution, prescribing, or possession of potentially life-saving medicine, so long as such medicine is in accordance with state law.

What this means is tat the Food and Drug Administration, as a federal agency, would not be able to restrict the use of experimental drugs to save lives in states that wish to allow them. If legislation like this were to be signed into law, it could save countless lives across the country. It’s difficult to imagine any cogent argument against allowing terminal patients to fight for their own lives, and if Congress has any sense, they should follow the lead set by the states, and work to make national right to try laws a major priority.


The left’s problem with Jews has a long and miserable history

Much of the student left has "some kind of problem with Jews", said the bravely decent Alex Chalmers last week in his resignation statement as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club following a vote in favour of Israeli Apartheid Week.

Labour’s national student organisation is launching an inquiry but the "the problem with Jews" on the left is not going away. In January a meeting of the Kings College London Israel Society, gathered to hear from Ami Ayalon, a former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence service, who now champions a two-state solution, was violently interrupted by a chair-hurling, window-smashing crowd.

Last summer the Guardian columnist Owen Jones made a courageous plea for the left to confront this demon head on. Since then, however, criticism of Israeli government policies has mutated into a rejection of Israel’s right to exist; the Fatah position replaced by Hamas and Hizbollah eliminationism. More darkly, support in the diaspora for Israel’s right to survive is seen by the likes of Labour’s Gerald Kaufman, who accused the government of being influenced in its Middle Eastern policy by "Jewish money", as some sort of Jewish conspiracy.

The charge that anti-Zionism is morphing into anti-Semitism is met with the retort that the former is being disingenuously conflated with the latter. But when George Galloway (in August 2014 during the last Gaza war) declared Bradford "an Israel-free zone"; when French Jews are unable to wear a yarmulke in public lest that invite assault, when Holocaust Memorial day posters are defaced, it is evident that what we are dealing with is, in Professor Alan Johnson’s accurate coinage, "anti-semitic anti-Zionism".

The fact is that the terrorists who slaughtered customers at the kosher supermarket in Paris did not ask their victims whether they were Israelis, much less supporters of Israeli government policies. They were murdered as Jews because in the attackers’ poisoned minds all Jews are indivisibly incriminated as persecutors of the Palestinians and thus fair game for murder.

When the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement singles out Israel as the perpetrator of the world’s worst iniquities, notwithstanding its right of self defence, it is legitimate to ask why the left’s wrath does not extend, for example, to Russia which rains down destruction on civilian populations in Syria?
With the retreat of Marxist socialism, militant energies have needed somewhere to go

Why is it somehow proper to boycott Israeli academics and cultural institutions, many of which are critical of government policy, but to remain passive in the face of Saudi Arabia’s brutal punishment of anyone whose exercise of freedom of conscience can be judged sacrilegious? Why is the rage so conspicuously selective? Or, to put it another way, why is it so much easier to hate the Jews?

Growing up in London in the shadow of world war two my pals and I talked about who might be the bad guys, should evil come our way. We agreed the Jew-haters would not wear brown shirts and jackboots but would probably be like people on the bus. It is not the golf club nose-holders we have to worry about now; it is those who, in their indignation at the sufferings visited on the Palestinians, and their indifference to almost-daily stabbings in the streets of Israel, have discovered the excitement of saying the unspeakable, making hay with history, so Israel is the new reich, and a military attack on Gaza indistinguishable from the industrially processed incineration of millions.

Enter the historian. And history says this: anti-Semitism has not been caused by Zionism; it is precisely the other way round. Israel was caused by the centuries-long dehumanisation of the Jews. The blood libel which accused Jews of murdering Christian children in order to drain their blood for the baking of Passover matzo began in medieval England but never went away, reviving in 16th century Italy, 18th century Poland, 19th century Syria and Bohemia, and 20th century Russia.

In 1980s Syria, Mustafa Tlass, Hafez al-Assad’s minister of defence, made his contribution with The Matzo of Zion, and last year the Israeli-Palestinian Islamist Raed Salah, once invited to parliament by Jeremy Corbyn as an "honoured citizen", declared that Jews used blood for the dough of their "bread".

In the 19th century virtual vampirism was added to the antisemitic canon. And the left made its contribution to this refreshment of old poison. Demonstrating that you do not have to be gentile to be an anti-Semite, Karl Marx characterised Judaism as nothing more than the cult of Mammon, and declared that the world needed emancipating from the Jews. Others on the left — the social philosophers Bruno Bauer, Charles Fourier and Pierre Prudhon and the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin — echoed the message: blood sucking, whether the physical or the economic kind, was what Jews did.

For the Jews, the modern world turned out to be a lose-lose proposition. Once reviled for obstinate traditionalism; their insistence on keeping walled off from the rest (notwithstanding that it had been Christians who had done the walling) they were now attacked for integrating too well, speaking, dressing and working no differently but always with the aim of global domination.

What was a Jew to do? The communist Moses Hess, who had been Marx’s editor and friend, became persuaded, all too presciently, that the socialist revolution would do nothing to normalise Jewish existence, not least because so many socialists declared that emancipating the Jews had been a terrible mistake. Hess concluded that only self-determination could protect the Jews from the phobias of right and left alike. He became the first socialist Zionist.

But that was to inflict an entirely colonial and alien enterprise upon a Palestinian population, so the hostile narrative goes, who were penalised for the sins of Europe. That the Palestinians did become tragic casualties of a Judeo-Arab civil war over the country is indisputable, just as the 700,000 Jews who were violently uprooted from their homes in the Islamic world is equally undeniable. But to characterise the country in which the language, the religion and the cultural identity of the Jews was formed as purely a colonial anomaly is the product of the kind of historical innocence which is oblivious of, say, Jewish kabbalistic communities in Galilee in the 16th century or the substantial native Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the late 19th century.

None of this unbroken history of Jews and Judaism in Palestine is likely to do much to cool the heat of the anti-colonial narrative of the alien intruder, especially on the left. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of Marxist socialism around the world, militant energies have needed somewhere to go.

The battle against inequalities under liberal capitalism has mobilised some of that passion, but postcolonial guilt has fired up the war against its prize whipping boy, Zionism, like no other cause. Every such crusade needs a villain along with its banners and I wonder who that could possibly be?



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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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