Fundamentalism and Fear - Dr V.V. Raman

Some partial backups of posts from the past (Feb, 2004)

Postby Kelly Jones » Mon May 21, 2007 9:18 pm

The entire human mind and all human products are ugly just as they are.

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Postby Leyla Shen » Mon May 21, 2007 9:38 pm

Seriously, this is ridiculous.

I have just as much evidence for my statement regarding DU and mass destruction as Kevin does his.

You lot are just afraid of being blown up!

Kevin wrote:

Yes. I'm aware of it, and I think it is a big problem, especially if the fundamentalists take political control.


Yes, well, thankfully Islam has done a great job, so far. Whose the US bombing, eh?

And, Kelly, I had no idea that this was an in-patient clinic. I must have missed the "Please, keep quiet and calm" sign on the door when I came in.

The one I saw was this:

Genius is a discussion forum that is passionately dedicated to the nature of Genius, Wisdom and Ultimate Reality and to the total annihilation of false values. It is an unconventional discussion forum suitable only for the bravehearted. It is for those who like their thoughts bloodied and dangerous. That is to say, it is a forum intended solely for men - of either sex. It is sometimes said that genius is "the infinite capacity for giving pain." This is very apt. If one is not deliberately causing pain to the ego, both in oneself and in others, then what is the good of one's life?


Course, if it's inmates the administrators really want, then I have no problem respecting that wish. All they need to do is say it is as the way you say it is.

[Edit: typo]
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Postby Leyla Shen » Mon May 21, 2007 10:32 pm

David:

DQ: You do come from a Turkish background, don't you?

L: Yes. 100% Muslim blood. Your point being?

DQ: Have you completely renounced Islam? For example, I come from a Christian environment, but I no longer have anything to do with Christianity and make it plain to others that I think it is a completely insane religion. Have you done the same with respect to Islam?


Yes, David. Long, long ago! I even got kicked out of home because of it. Impressed now?

I do not visit relatives, except my parents. My brothers and sisters are atheists--and I don’t see more than two of them (there are six of us) more than a few times a year. I see my parents regularly, however.

So, you can rest assured I am not raising suicide bombers.

Should I have a blood transfusion?

Again, what was your point?
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Postby Kelly Jones » Mon May 21, 2007 10:44 pm

It is sometimes said that genius is "the infinite capacity for giving pain." This is very apt. If one is not deliberately causing pain to the ego, both in oneself and in others, then what is the good of one's life?


Only mindfulness and a mindful voice gives true pain.

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Perhaps it comes to this: when two countries wish to destroy each other, like two crazed bulls tearing up the land, then it is up to a rational person to influence the fight so that rational people are not destroyed, and to salvage anything of worth.

How does one influence the fight, and is there anything of worth to salvage ?

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Leyla, do you see Muslims as being, in general, victims of propaganda?

If so, do you see anything of worth in the Koran?


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Postby Jamesh » Tue May 22, 2007 3:02 pm

Leyla, do you see Muslims as being, in general, victims of propaganda?


They obviously are, but does she realise that the only "efficiently planable" way to stop them is to kill those amongst them who are the most militant fundies?

There will be no other way to stop this totally imperialistic mob of non-individuals. Unfortunately in the long run, the ramifications for atheists may be extreme, as the opposing religion, the Christian right will gain more and more power the more difficult the task becomes. That is essentially why Bush and the neo-cons declared war in Iraq, and are puposefully mismanaging the occupation.

The sad fact is that most people desire to be lead.

By "efficiently planable" I mean that although western memes will without any shread of doubt, infiltrate and destroy the Muslim religion in time, oil and the ownership of nukes may mean that Islamists develop the resources for a more even outright Christian-based-nation versus Muslim-based-nation world war. It is not a risk I would take as a world leader.

The US does not have the background to win "hearts" over, due to their abysmal record in world affairs bought about by the lies of their purposes, but it is time the rest of the western world stood up and said "we will not allow the muslimisation of the world".

As business is the only superpower left in the world (as distinct from the US) their is no way that a massive confrontation will not occur at some stage - better to make it now while the Muslims only have Pakistani nukes as protection.
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In the news

Postby Kevin Solway » Tue May 22, 2007 6:56 pm

In the news:

Pakistan's most senior female cabinet minister quit in despair last night after failing to get support from her government colleagues when Islamic extremists issued a fatwa against her for hugging her 60-year-old French paragliding instructor.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Leyla Shen » Wed May 23, 2007 1:59 am

Oh, well in that case...

Also in the news:

"The dismissed US attorneys have testified under oath and said in public that they believe political influence was applied," the Democrat chairman of the Senate committee Patrick Leahy said at Thursday's hearing.

"If they are right ... then we have a situation highly improper. And it corrodes the public's trust in our system of justice."

Eyebrows were also raised over Gonzales's role in the affair this week when another top aide, Monica Goodling, said she would refuse to testify fearing prosecution.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 23, 2007 2:05 am

So you reckon the dismissed attorneys are going to be killed, Leyla?
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Leyla Shen » Wed May 23, 2007 2:14 am

It must be deadly for her to refuse to testify for fear of prosecution!

And I'm still looking for the wisdom....
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Leyla Shen » Wed May 23, 2007 2:15 am

PS: what are the stats in Pakistan for government sanctioned death by fatwa?

[Edited to properly qualify]
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Leyla Shen » Wed May 23, 2007 3:19 am

"Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years - that means thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come. This is what I call terrorism," says Dr Ahmad Hardan.


The world beyond the West, for now...

And this weapon, James, was used long before America's convenient "anti terrorism" campaign.

[Edit: the link above is now broken. It referenced this 9 January 2005 article called "Iraq's Real WMD Crime" (with photos): http://english.aljazeera.net/English/Ar ... iveID=2508]
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Ryan Rudolph » Wed May 23, 2007 8:07 am

Leyla,

You’re Anti-American obsession is preventing you from fully realizing just how insane Islamic extremists are. American foreign policy has been insane, but the majority of the population currently disproves of the war in Iraq, and soon the US will have a new president, and the odds of a future blunder such as Iraq happening by the US will be much lower.

The main difference is that there is a democracy in America, so if opinions quickly change, then leadership changes as well. This is a bonus because their type of government is much more favorable to positive change by intellectuals, general opinion and so on.

Whereas in many middle-eastern countries, no stable democracy exists, so an Islamic extremist group can hold power until someone overthrows them by force. Moreover, nuclear weapons in the Middle East is not a situation modern civilization should be in because the entire political structure is much more volatile there.

Also some of these Islamic extremists organizations are not governed by a fear of self-preservation; they’re fanatical beliefs have overridden these instinctive fears, as many of them are hoping for the return of their messiah, the end of the world, and so on.

The Christians talk about the same thing, but they’re not as united and certain on the issue, so there not as irrational as the Islamic fundamentalists. When push comes to shove, the Christians in power aren’t going to make the first move by firing nukes, whereas some of the Islamic extremists that are operating in Iran just might.

The major difference is the degree of irrationality between them.

Islamic Extremists operating in Iran and Lebanon believe that if they destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, the biggest evil in the world will be eliminated, which will cause Allah to soar down from the clouds and reward them all for their good deeds.

Moreover, because they believe so firmly in these prophecies, and are so united in their hatred for the west and jews, they’re much more likely to go through with the action, whereas with the Christians there is much more doubt, division, uncertainty, and ambivalence on many of these issues, and therefore there is much more fear as well.

Basically where there is a united fanatical conviction of belief, there is also a total loss of the fear of self-preservation.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 23, 2007 9:27 am

Ryan R wrote:Leyla,

You’re Anti-American obsession is preventing you from fully realizing just how insane Islamic extremists are.


It's not that at all, it's because said extremists are holding her hostage in her home and making her type stuff. Don't worry Leyla, Australia's version of Homeland Security is on the case!! Um, on second thought, maybe you should worry just a little...

American foreign policy has been insane, but the majority of the population currently disproves of the war in Iraq,


Yes, but you have to ask why. It's that why that matters. The majority initially supported it, because that's what mindless jingoists do. The extent of the turnaround has only been due to the numbers of U.S. casualities and the obvious failure of the plan (such that one even existed). Even Afghanistan, which we frankly never hear about anymore, is a complete cockup. One has to wonder if success was ever really part of the plan at all.

and soon the US will have a new president, and the odds of a future blunder such as Iraq happening by the US will be much lower.


History doesn't support this notion. Sadly, the main difference between Repuke and Democrat policy tends to be domestic. When it comes to foreign policy and warmongering they are about as bad as each other.

The main difference is that there is a democracy in America, so if opinions quickly change, then leadership changes as well.


Democracy is no safeguard against anything, and I know some people would suggest that your belief that democracy exists in the U.S. is a bit naive. I'm one of them.

This is a bonus because their type of government is much more favorable to positive change by intellectuals, general opinion and so on.


It's also just as subject to change by anti-intellectuals and sundry dolts.

Whereas in many middle-eastern countries, no stable democracy exists, so an Islamic extremist group can hold power until someone overthrows them by force.


And, yet, arguably, the most extreme Islamic group that actually holds power in Muslim countries is our fuck-buddy Saudi Arabia. And thousands of Iraqi "insurgents" have been killed, incarcerated and abused, yet we just hanged a guy for much the same thing. Gotta love the irony, dontcha?

Moreover, nuclear weapons in the Middle East is not a situation modern civilization should be in because the entire political structure is much more volatile there.


I don't think we'll ever see more proliferation of nuclear weapons, and certainly not in the middle east. Does anyone think for a second Israel would allow Iran to develop such a capacity? Does anyone recall what happened in Iraq in 1988? It would be nice if some actual historical fact were inserted into this discussion, which has thus far been all about wild speculation and hyperbole. Islamic extremists are to feared and controlled; no doubt about that. However, they're not the only problem and argubaly not even the main one.

Also some of these Islamic extremists organizations are not governed by a fear of self-preservation; they’re fanatical beliefs have overridden these instinctive fears, as many of them are hoping for the return of their messiah, the end of the world, and so on.


I don't believe this line of argument at all. These organisations simply exploit the weakest of their members, the most desperate, the ones with nothing to lose, the mentally fragile. Suicidalism as a broad psychology is an argument for which I can see exactly zero evidence. If we were to take away the political dimension to such activities we would see a very large dimunition of suicide attacks. But, it's much easier to simply think of the other "side" as mad-arse fanatics. That way we don't have to consider the politics. We can just dismiss it and focus on their delusional religious beliefs. i.e., we can ignore the way they are actually living and how we are actually treating them.

The Christians talk about the same thing, but they’re not as united and certain on the issue,


No, that's not entirely true. The ones that are, are. I think it's foolish to ignore the extent of power and influence of the pro-Zionist, Armageddonist Xian movement in the U.S. And I think you'd be surprised at how many of the average, man on the street Septics would happily express the "turn the mid-east into glass" sentiment. But that's just rhetoric, right? When it's us it's just empty dumbass rhetoric; when it's them, it's deadly serious! Need I remind anyone who invaded two of their counties - neither time with a shred of legitimacy?

so there not as irrational as the Islamic fundamentalists.


That's highly debatable. Actually it's not - it's just wrong. Like I said, the religious right, the pro-Zionist, Armageddonist dropkicks in the U.S. have significant political clout and peace in the middle east is precisely what these people do not want, so they actively lobby against any measure that might bring it about. Given the enormous power of the U.S. and its economic and corporate might (let alone it's military power) there's a strong argument to be made about who we should really be fearing in terms of potential for future problems. Can someone please explain to me why it is that if we are so fearful of the potential harm Islamic fanatics can do to us that we are in bed with the Saudis? This is a place that produces more of these idiots than anywhere else and bankrolls them as well.

When push comes to shove, the Christians in power aren’t going to make the first move by firing nukes, whereas some of the Islamic extremists that are operating in Iran just might.


Iran doesn't have nukes. It never will have them. It's a meaningless argument. As I've said before, we have to argue Pakistan in that sense, not Iran. And if Muslim fanatics somehow got control of power in Pakistan, why do we think we'd have anything to fear? If I was an Indian I'd be shitting bricks, but if that power shift happened I would not lose sleep over it. You can't just hand a nuke to someone and say: "Go for it, muhammo-dude, kill a few Septics for me".

Islamic Extremists operating in Iran and Lebanon believe that if they destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, the biggest evil in the world will be eliminated, which will cause Allah to soar down from the clouds and reward them all for their good deeds.


Who cares what such idiots believe? I mean, seriously, who cares? They can't and never will be able to do any such thing. They may as well believe that Superman will convert to Islam and destroy all their enemies. I have to say I think these sorts of arguments are not much more rational than the ideas we're arguing against.

Moreover, because they believe so firmly in these prophecies, and are so united in their hatred for the west and jews, they’re much more likely to go through with the action, whereas with the Christians there is much more doubt, division, uncertainty, and ambivalence on many of these issues, and therefore there is much more fear as well.


Yes, there was bucketloads of doubt and ambivalence about invading two entire nations because of the actions of a handfull of people. Actions that have now - and were always going to - afford those people greater capacity to do as they please. Again, who is it we really need to fear? I say everybody! And I'm not being paranoic :)

Basically where there is a united fanatical conviction of belief, there is also a total loss of the fear of self-preservation.


Like the belief in democracy, say?
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 23, 2007 9:44 am

Katy posted something in the Science forum that is actually pertinent to the content of the podcast (as opposed to where this thread has actually gone) so I'll re-post it here:

Resistance to Science
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Katy » Wed May 23, 2007 10:05 am

Ryan R wrote:The main difference is that there is a democracy in America, so if opinions quickly change, then leadership changes as well. This is a bonus because their type of government is much more favorable to positive change by intellectuals, general opinion and so on.


Uhm. Since when?
Approval Ratings have been below 50% since 2004 and sinking fast (currently hovering around 33%) and yet not only has George Bush failed to be impeached (and c'mon... they impeached Clinton for a blow job) but congress is yet to do anything.

Personally, I'd rather deal with terrorists. 19 guys with airplanes did a lot less damage than one chimpanzee with an army.
Iraq Body Count - at least 64,000 civilians dead
Less than 3000 dead on 9/11
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Ryan Rudolph » Wed May 23, 2007 10:27 am

Dan:

Democracy is no safeguard against anything, and I know some people would suggest that your belief that democracy exists in the U.S. is a bit naive. I'm one of them.


There are a multitude of candidates running for the US presidency, do you not agree that the one with the most votes from the public will be voted in?

History doesn't support this notion. Sadly, the main difference between Repuke and Democrat policy tends to be domestic. When it comes to foreign policy and warmongering they are about as bad as each other.


Noam Chomsky lectures suggest otherwise. The consciousness of humanity is slowly changing. Some Americans are growing increasingly weary and skeptical of military invasions as history has repeatedly proven that they do not accomplish anything.

And, yet, arguably, the most extreme Islamic group that actually holds power in Muslim countries is our fuck-buddy Saudi Arabia. And thousands of Iraqi "insurgents" have been killed, incarcerated and abused, yet we just hanged a guy for much the same thing. Gotta love the irony, dontcha?


I agree that the US gov are hypocrites, as they have bedfellows with the same types they disprove of in other circumstances.

I don't think we'll ever see more proliferation of nuclear weapons, and certainly not in the middle east. Does anyone think for a second Israel would allow Iran to develop such a capacity?


Iran is developing them now, and the world needs to be ready for a US/Israeli lead military strike on Iranian facilities because it will probably happen.

These organisations simply exploit the weakest of their members, the most desperate, the ones with nothing to lose, the mentally fragile. Suicidalism as a broad psychology is an argument for which I can see exactly zero evidence.


I have a slightly different view, the leaders are not conscious of their exploitation because they believe they are doing the right thing. Moreover, Most operate on honor, pride, and duty to country and Allah. The leaders believe in their causes, and some of the leaders who have considerable wealth have actually fought in the front lines against the west to illustrate their courage and heroism.

like I said, the religious right, the pro-Zionist, Armageddonist dropkicks in the U.S. have significant political clout and peace in the middle east is precisely what these people do not want, so they actively lobby against any measure that might bring it about.


I couldn’t find any evidence to support this, do you have any sites?

Yes, there was bucketloads of doubt and ambivalence about invading two entire nations because of the actions of a handfull of people. Actions that have now - and were always going to - afford those people greater capacity to do as they please. Again, who is it we really need to fear? I say everybody! And I'm not being paranoic :)


do not trust everybody? yes I agree, but I believe that due to free speech and open criticism in the US, that an increasing minority of Americans are slowly learning, for instance documentaries such as Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky were quite popular among an intellectual elite; whereas the problem with the media in the Middle East is that it is heavily controlled.

Basically, America is more fertile for change and growth, whereas the middle east is much more stagnant and doomed.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Jamesh » Wed May 23, 2007 10:36 am

The majority initially supported it, because that's what mindless jingoists do.


I strongly supported the war, not because of being a mindless jingoist, but out of the goodness of what remained at the time of my bleeding heart. Dictators always seem to harm their countries to a very great degree. Of course it didn't help that we were lied to about Hussein's nuclear ambitions leading up to the war. Nor did it help that the neo-cons did not allow information about the likelyhood of a sunni-shite guerilla civil war, post-Husseins removal.

I actually still support the war having occurred, but I do not support the occupation methods employed by the US [with a proviso that I know stuff all about how it could be done significantly better, without doubling expenditure]. At the global level, I think anything that stops the advance of Islam is well worth a million western lives. My support for the war would change depending on what sort of proofs I found out about the real reasons the neo-cons were not willing to wait for UN resolutions, why they did not send enough troops and many other relative unknowns.

In many ways the rest of the world are due some blame for the present Iraqi situation. Most nations, but particularly China, Russia and the African and Middle Eastern nations do not allow the UN to operate properly - otherwise we would have taken out others like Kim Jong Il, and be planning to eridicate Ahmadinejad presently. European nations should have sent more troops and not withdrawn. Middle Eastern nations should have protected their borders more vigorously, to lessen the number of radicals moving into Iraq to fight. If the political game playing in the UN is truly justified because the US basically was just being an economic hitman, and just wanted to take over the Iraqi oil reserves and production and obtain lower prices than other countries for this oil, then fair enough, but I lack such evidence.


History doesn't support this notion. Sadly, the main difference between Repuke and Democrat policy tends to be domestic. When it comes to foreign policy and warmongering they are about as bad as each other.


To me the US occupation of Afgan/Iraq are much like the Communist domino theory like for Vietnam, where in place of communism the problem is Islamism. To this day I still believe that the West had to put up a indirect barrier to Russian/Chinese communist expansion and that the Vietnam war was a success for that reason. Just like the present war, there is of course the question of whether it was needed - would the spread of communism have fizzled out naturally or would it have spread to the whole of South East Asia. Will the Muslims bloody borders spread through Africa (Sudan), Ex-USSR countries, take over Israel, and will they get an unbreakable foothold in Europe, much like the Jews, and cause the Western Europeans to despise them to the point of ethnic cleansing.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 23, 2007 10:45 am

Ryan,

My contigency plan, btw, though all of this is: nuke 'em and nuke 'em hard. Just thought I'd make that clear.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Katy » Wed May 23, 2007 10:50 am

Ryan R wrote:There are a multitude of candidates running for the US presidency, do you not agree that the one with the most votes from the public will be voted in?


No, I don't agree.
For example in 2000 Bush got 47% of the popular vote compared to Gore's 48% (and that's the official record, completely ignoring the hanging chads and disappearing votes in Ohio and Florida...)

jamesh wrote:At the global level, I think anything that stops the advance of Islam is well worth a million western lives.


Hey, wow! That's what the crusaders thought, too!
Glad to see you've advanced your thought in the last several hundred years!
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Jamesh » Wed May 23, 2007 11:06 am

At the global level, I think anything that stops the advance of Islam is well worth a million western lives.

Hey, wow! That's what the crusaders thought, too!
Glad to see you've advanced your thought in the last several hundred years!


Yeah, but to me they are opposite purposes. Just like the present day Muslims, the Crusaders were invading in order to prevent personal freedom, whereas I am suggesting that we should fight, if necessary, to retain existing freedoms.

I am probably exaggerating the dangers of the present situation. Some Muslim countries are becoming relatively westernised, and as a result they should gradually become less autocratic and more ameniable to secular societies. Those who are going for Shari law are a big problem, as that will lead to societal regression, and small wars involving multi-millions dead will become common.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Kelly Jones » Thu May 24, 2007 12:25 am

Dan,


Do you believe it's possible to separate Islam and Christianity (religious vendettas) from political squabbles? If so, what do you think is the best way to correct hundreds, if not thousands, of years of political squabbles? Become war allies ?



Islamic extremists are to feared and controlled; no doubt about that. However, they're not the only problem and argubaly not even the main one.


What is the "main problem", Dan?

Please be explicit and succinct.


Ryan: Also some of these Islamic extremists organizations are not governed by a fear of self-preservation; they’re fanatical beliefs have overridden these instinctive fears, as many of them are hoping for the return of their messiah, the end of the world, and so on.

Dan: I don't believe this line of argument at all. These organisations simply exploit the weakest of their members, the most desperate, the ones with nothing to lose, the mentally fragile.


Are you saying that the majority of Islamic extremists are psychologically stable, Dan, and free from suicidalism ?



Suicidalism as a broad psychology is an argument for which I can see exactly zero evidence.


Zero evidence for the majority of Islamic extremists, or absolutely zero evidence for all Islamic extremists?



If we were to take away the political dimension to such activities we would see a very large dimunition of suicide attacks.


To do so, would mean correcting political issues. Would this boil down to interfering with decisions about how to organise a society? Can religion be largely divorced from social organisation, in Islamic countries --- or in Christian ones too, for that matter ?


we can ignore the way they are actually living and how we are actually treating them.


What do you think we should change ?


Iran doesn't have nukes. It never will have them. It's a meaningless argument. As I've said before, we have to argue Pakistan in that sense, not Iran. And if Muslim fanatics somehow got control of power in Pakistan, why do we think we'd have anything to fear? If I was an Indian I'd be shitting bricks, but if that power shift happened I would not lose sleep over it. You can't just hand a nuke to someone and say: "Go for it, muhammo-dude, kill a few Septics for me".


Why?


Ryan wrote:Islamic Extremists operating in Iran and Lebanon believe that if they destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, the biggest evil in the world will be eliminated, which will cause Allah to soar down from the clouds and reward them all for their good deeds.

Dan: Who cares what such idiots believe? I mean, seriously, who cares? They can't and never will be able to do any such thing. They may as well believe that Superman will convert to Islam and destroy all their enemies. I have to say I think these sorts of arguments are not much more rational than the ideas we're arguing against.


How do you know this for certain?



Ryan: Moreover, because they believe so firmly in these prophecies, and are so united in their hatred for the west and jews, they’re much more likely to go through with the action, whereas with the Christians there is much more doubt, division, uncertainty, and ambivalence on many of these issues, and therefore there is much more fear as well.

Dan: Yes, there was bucketloads of doubt and ambivalence about invading two entire nations because of the actions of a handfull of people. Actions that have now - and were always going to - afford those people greater capacity to do as they please.


I think your basic argument is

- America is a far more powerful country politically, than its enemies, and that American leaders are using that power poorly
- Islamic extremists have virtually no power politically relative to America

I am not sure if you are saying that America should relate to all other countries as a benevolent dictator, or a fair and honest, wealthy relative.


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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Ryan Rudolph » Thu May 24, 2007 9:28 am

Katy wrote:

No, I don't agree.
For example in 2000 Bush got 47% of the popular vote compared to Gore's 48% (and that's the official record, completely ignoring the hanging chads and disappearing votes in Ohio and Florida...)


Just because fraud occurred in one US election does not mean that there isnt a democracy there. Even though the US is not free from corruption, there still exists a partial democracy, as there have been many elections in the past that have not been rigged. And overall, public opinion does eventually cause changes in governmental policy. This political achievement is eons ahead of most of the developing world.

Moreover, no absolute democracy exists anywhere, but partial ones do. And In an irrational world, it is all-relative. We are measuring degrees of irrationality here.
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Re: The Reasoning Show - Dr V.V. Raman

Postby Dan Rowden » Thu May 24, 2007 12:02 pm

Kelly Jones wrote:Dan,

Do you believe it's possible to separate Islam and Christianity (religious vendettas) from political squabbles? If so, what do you think is the best way to correct hundreds, if not thousands, of years of political squabbles? Become war allies?


If we have to couch everything in the language of war then we may as well just give up and kill each other. Because Islam (and Judaism for that matter) has not undergone the kind of separation of Church and State that Xianity has it is more difficult to separate the religious from the political (but this is now rather true for Xian nations too). Political debate and disagreement tends to be articulated through religious speech, and action justified through religious morality. However, it is possible to see those circumstances in which the underlying problem is essentially of a political nature. Things have just gotten out of hand on that front. I actually don't think Osama bin Laden, for example, is really that bad a guy (comparatively speaking). I am quite sympathetic to his actual demands, the meeting of which could well bring about a cessation of action on his part - or even a meaningful recognition thereof. I do not extend this attitude to others in his "organisation" however. As to religious squabbles - yes, they've existed for ages but it's true that the problems between contemporary Judaism (or, frankly, it should be said: Zionism) and Islam are largely politically driven. The trouble we see in the middle east is a direct result of the creation of the Israeli State and the general shamozzle of the partitioning of that entire region. That was so poorly handled, much like the partition of Pakistan and India (millions died in that process), that these problems were inevitable. We leave things in a shambolic state and expect the peoples of those territories to sort things out. Unfortunately, things aren't as simple as that. Even now we continue to make these same mistakes, seemingly learning exactly nothing from them. Our motives are simply impure. We all too readily exploit cultural and religious conflicts that already exist for our own political purposes.

My point in all of this, really, is that we are no better than those we seek to demonise; no better and no less a danger to ourselves than they are to us. If you beat a tease a dog and then complain later because it bit your hand off, you're an idiot. The solution to the innate religious conflicts is to encourage greater secularisation of these societies. This can't be effective in a volatile political environment. It just isn't possible. Instead of demonising Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, it would be far more politically astute to encourage the significant secular movement there. But we have leaders that are just as brainless as they do. Nought of worth can be expected from such a scenario.

Islamic extremists are to feared and controlled; no doubt about that. However, they're not the only problem and argubaly not even the main one.


What is the "main problem", Dan?


The West's obvious desire for economic, social and military influence, control and even dominion over other people - and the natural consequences thereof. People tend to get all Peter Finchy over stuff like that. Of course, some would argue that a nation like the U.S. has "civilised" itself into a corner and virtually needs to take control to ensure its survival at its present level of material wealth and sophistication. That's quite possibly true, but let's not pretend it doesn't have consequences.

Ryan: Also some of these Islamic extremists organizations are not governed by a fear of self-preservation; they’re fanatical beliefs have overridden these instinctive fears, as many of them are hoping for the return of their messiah, the end of the world, and so on.


Dan: I don't believe this line of argument at all. These organisations simply exploit the weakest of their members, the most desperate, the ones with nothing to lose, the mentally fragile.


Are you saying that the majority of Islamic extremists are psychologically stable, Dan, and free from suicidalism ?


They're hardly psychologically stable. The average human being isn't psychologically stable. But a handful of swallows does not a summer make. I also think the language we're employing makes this issue tricky to discuss. If we keep saying "extremists", well, sure, by their nature they tend to be on the loony side and more easily given to suicidalism. But these people are a minority. The average Muslim fundamentalist is not a suicidalist. The dynamic and causes of the movement from simple fundie to extremist is one we need to understand and work towards avoiding where possible. Sadly, we're contributing to the forces that produce such a dynamic. Even sadder, it may well have taken on a momentum of its own that has no readily identifiable political salve. This is the real danger of the modern global scene. I concede that things may have gone beyond the potential for a non-war resolution. Trouble is, if the U.S. is in charge we'll still be screwed afterwards because they are totally incompetent - and what's worse, their motives cannot be trusted.

Suicidalism as a broad psychology is an argument for which I can see exactly zero evidence.


Zero evidence for the majority of Islamic extremists, or absolutely zero evidence for all Islamic
extremists?


The former.

If we were to take away the political dimension to such activities we would see a very large diminution of suicide attacks.


To do so, would mean correcting political issues. Would this boil down to interfering with decisions about how to organise a society?


I think America has to step aside and let other parts of the world deal with certain issues, such as Palestine. They are too inept, distrusted and parochial to be effective in their influence. Britain likewise.

we can ignore the way they are actually living and how we are actually treating them.


What do you think we should change?


At this point a simple change in attitude would help. If Britain, for example, put its hand up and acknowledged its role in leaving behind the shamozzle I spoke of earlier it might go some way to tempering people's attitudes. One of the reasons it and the U.S. won't do this, or back off from their attempts at influence and manipulation, is that they are solely concerned with political outcomes that suit themselves. Resolution, per se, is not really on their agendas, which is why they are as dangerous to us as the Islamic nutters. Somewhere along the line the West appears to have adopted the idea that Islam must be crushed into passive submission rather than modified and encouraged and nurtured into a more secular and less fundamentalistic form. Unfortunately, this approach just pours fuel on the fire of fundamentalism. It aggravates it, spurs it on - validates it. I find it incredibly stupid. Let's take Iran for example: when 9/11 happened, the West immediately went to its own form of fundamentalistic flapping and we're still flapping like mad people. We just invaded two of Iran's Islamic neighbours and have decided that it is possibly next on our list. What the friggin hell do we expect as an outcome of that but that fundamentalism will rise just as it did with us? I mean, seriously, what the hell do we expect? The humanist/secular movement in Iran, which is culturally significant and has been growing in significance - must be wondering the same thing. I'd hate to be them right now, frankly. They must be wondering if secularism naturally breeds as much stupidity as religiosity does.

Iran doesn't have nukes. It never will have them. It's a meaningless argument. As I've said before, we have to argue Pakistan in that sense, not Iran. And if Muslim fanatics somehow got control of power in Pakistan, why do we think we'd have anything to fear? If I was an Indian I'd be shitting bricks, but if that power shift happened I would not lose sleep over it. You can't just hand a nuke to someone and say: "Go for it, muhammo-dude, kill a few Septics for me".


Why?


Nukes only work that way in Hollywood movies.

Ryan wrote:
Islamic Extremists operating in Iran and Lebanon believe that if they destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, the biggest evil in the world will be eliminated, which will cause Allah to soar down from the clouds and reward them all for their good deeds.

Dan: Who cares what such idiots believe? I mean, seriously, who cares? They can't and never will be able to do any such thing. They may as well believe that Superman will convert to Islam and destroy all their enemies. I have to say I think these sorts of arguments are not much more rational than the ideas we're arguing against.


How do you know this for certain?


I don't recall saying I knew any of this for certain. There's no certainty is such matters. I don't have the foggiest idea why Ryan even mentioned Lebanon. It's meaningless in this discussion. I have no doubt there are lunatics in Iran who think like that. There are Islamic lunatics in almost every nation who think that way. I happen to think the chances of them gaining control of government are close to non-existent. The expressed view that Israel should not exist is an arguable viewpoint. It's also a political view, not a "we'll nuke them off the planet" view. I don't think the world is about to allow the latter types to control a nuclear armed state like Iran.

I think your basic argument is:

- America is a far more powerful country politically, than its enemies, and that American leaders are using that power poorly


Yes, that's part of it.

- Islamic extremists have virtually no power politically relative to America


That's obviously true, but more significantly we give them power - through validation - by our own actions.

I am not sure if you are saying that America should relate to all other countries as a benevolent dictator, or a fair and honest, wealthy relative.


Well, I think we could give either one a try, really, but my preference would be for the latter. But it's a complex issue which takes in historical political realities and also contemporary trends like corporatism and the exportation of culture and so forth. That's a thread in itself! The trouble is we don't recognise the worst elements and excesses of our culture anymore than Muslims do (so we keep exporting it and cry foul at the level of resistance to it - this is part of our own deep, cultural vanity). All either side recognises is the ways in which they conflict. That's not a very good recipe for anything but more conflict.
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Drama

Postby DHodges » Thu May 24, 2007 11:07 pm

Dan Rowden wrote:Resolution, per se, is not really on their agendas, which is why they are as dangerous to us as the Islamic nutters. Somewhere along the line the West appears to have adopted the idea that Islam must be crushed into passive submission rather than modified and encouraged and nurtured into a more secular and less fundamentalistic form. Unfortunately, this approach just pours fuel on the fire of fundamentalism. It aggravates it, spurs it on - validates it. I find it incredibly stupid.

It would be stupid, if that were not the actual reason for doing it. Fundamentalist Islam is being encouraged because it also encourages fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. People are more willing to go along with things unquestioningly when there is a dangerous enemy. Christianity is by nature authoritarian.

Bush and Cheney have consistently said that questioning US policy "enboldens the enemy."


That's not a very good recipe for anything but more conflict.

Indeed. There will be more drama.
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Technical difficulties

Postby Laird » Sun May 27, 2007 3:26 am

Excuse the diversion from this interesting discussion and into a technical report, but I thought that Dan, David and Kevin might find this information useful. I had a lot of difficulties downloading this podcast but finally managed to do it. FYI I am connected via a 56k modem. My first difficulty was that despite several attempts the php download link downloaded only the first 60Kb or so of the mp3. Kevin suggested that I try the direct mp3 link and right-click, choosing "save target". I attempted that, with the same result. So I then resorted to wget - a console-based download manager (run under Linux). I gave it the option -c which turns on resuming on disconnect, and again specified the actual mp3 link rather than the php link. This allowed me to fully download the file, however the on-screen diagnostics showed that the download connection consistently closed after a certain number of kilobytes - varying between about 60 and about 250 but more frequently in the lower ranges. So across the entire download I encountered somewhere in the realm of 450 closed connections and resumes. I wonder if anyone else experienced anything like this - perhaps the fact that I am on dial-up exacerbates the problem. I also wonder whether it is worth you guys communicating with your host to try to identify what is causing such excessive connection closures.

Also FYI, I did not have the same problems with the first three podcasts (perhaps because they were on a different host) however I did have the same problems with the Susan Blackmore podcast and lost motivation to solve it - I listened to that one at Kevin's place. I've just attempted the wget solution and it seems that if I were to leave it running I could fully download Susan's podcast with a fairly similar disconnect-resume pattern.

Finally, as I write this post I have reconfirmed that the same disconnect-resume problems are still occurring with the Raman podcast download, so this is an up-to-date report.
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