Monday, April 30, 2012

Reloaded: Your Corporatocracy At Work




Back there, I endeavored to illustrate how Big Business interests keep being embedded with our government's policy-making, going as far as dictating how laws are written - all thanks to compliant politicos and with the sole purpose of serving the interests of Big Business.

In addition, I've made much on APOV (one recent example here) of Prime Minister Harper's (and his government's) anti-science attitude, especially with regards to climate change scientific research and monitoring.

Here's where it all comes together, folks.

First, we have this little tidbit of news (emphasis added):
Cuts force Environment Canada to trim monitoring of emissions, water

Federal budget cuts at Environment Canada have forced the agency to scale back its monitoring and oversight of a program designed to help the mining industry meet emission standards.

In an email to employees sent April 23 and obtained by Postmedia News,
Environment Canada personnel were told that the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program, "will prioritize work based on risk" and "not always provide guidance on a facility-by-facility basis." The email also said that cuts will require the agency to cut some of its wastewater monitoring programs and water conservation efforts.

It's not clear how many jobs will be lost, but the government said the cuts will save about $3 million, eliminate duplication on water monitoring and
save money on a program that already has a high rate of compliance.

(...)


The Environmental Effects Monitoring Program, or EEM, has been around for 20 years and has helped the mining and pulp and paper industry meet federal environmental guidelines by being both a watchdog and an adviser.


The program was first introduced into the pulp and paper sector in 1992, then again 10 years later in 2002 to the mining industry.
The EEM's role was to ensure that industry wasn't affecting local waterways and fish habitat.

>Studies in the last four years from the office have shown that in the years since it was introduced, lower levels of toxicity were found in fish habitats. However, those studies still found reproductive issues in fish habitats, specifically the size of reproductive organs.


The Conservatives are cutting more than $5 billion in spending over the next three years. The cuts announced in the March budget mean that the EEM will see 20 per cent of its budget cut.

Now, let us hear the usual hypocritical, double-talking platitudes from Harper and his Harpies, trying to spin again a way out of their mendacity (emphasis added):

"This will not affect our ability to meet air pollution and GHG (greenhouse gas) targets," Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a statement. "This approach is aimed at implementing the broader federal regulatory reforms . . . and it will enable (Environment Canada) to focus its efforts on areas where the biggest effect can be achieved, and where lower-cost options, such as developing codes of practices, will not do enough."


"We will prioritize the program's work based on risks. We will also continue to help industry meet their regulatory obligations, but we will not always provide this guidance on a facility-by-facility basis," John Moffet, Environment Canada's director general for legislative and regulatory affairs, wrote in the email to employees.

(...)

Kent said the program will continue, albeit in a reduced capacity. "The same level of effort as was provided to establish the program is no longer needed now that the program is over a decade old and has widespread high levels of compliance," he said.

Ah, that good old tortuous logic whereby less is more, and what has been efficient is now "no longer required" (because, you know, there will never be again any need for such monitoring and oversight ... right?). And perish the thought of establishing/enforcing codes of practices and, you know, regulations.

As always - Harper and Co. talking the (mendacious) talk about the environment, yet never actually walking the walk. Here's some notes added in proof:

(...) remember this from our bullshitting Prime Douchebag of some three years ago?

"Canada won't meet its Kyoto targets to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but can be a world leader in battling climate change."
And what magnificent leadership we have provided so far (and even recently), eh?

Hence, I proclaim that "for too long we have heard your bullshit with regards to fighting climate change" - or, in other words: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; and fool me thrice ...?"

Case in point (only but a very small sample, by the way):

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, four years ago, on the Clean Air Act. “After more than a decade of inaction on the environment by the previous government, Canada’s Clean Air Act is the first step in turning things around to protect the health of Canadians.”


Environment Minister John Baird, three years ago, on the Bali climate talks. “With the United States now signed on to this framework the results of this conference show progress and we see that as an important first step.”


Environment Minister Jim Prentice, last February, on the submission of Canada’s emission targets to the Copenhagen accord. “We took our first step down that road on Sunday, January 31, 2010.”


Environment Minister John Baird, this weekend, on the Cancun accord. “This represents the first step to a single, new legally binding agreement … A first step.”


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, last week, on the Copenhagen accord. “Mr. Speaker, the Copenhagen accord was only a first step.”

When always stuck at "first step", you go nowhere fast - eh?

In the meantime: Canada formally abandons Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Talk about "not affect(ing) our ability to meet air pollution and GHG (greenhouse gas) targets" ... indeed.

Then, let us move on to a second little tidbit of news, very much à propos (emphasis added):
Oil lobbyists approved Harper’s climate policy as ‘elegant’ approach

The federal government asked the oil and gas industry last fall to review its foreign climate change policies, which were then approved by lobbyists as “an elegant” approach, reveals newly-released correspondence.

The government was consulting the industry about European climate change legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels, according to an email exchange between senior bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an oil and gas industry lobby group, is opposed to the European Fuel Quality Directive legislation, because it believes it unfairly discriminates against bitumen, the heavy oil derived from the oilsands sector, which the government describes as the “fastest growing source of (greenhouse gas) emissions in Canada.”

“I talked to (CAPP president) David Collyer about the possible Canadian position on the FQD that we discussed — everyone in same basket, at same level, until they prove otherwise,” wrote Mark Corey, an assistant deputy minister at Natural Resources Canada, in an internal email sent on Oct. 14, 2011. “He said his initial impression was that he liked it, but would confer and call me back.”

(...)

Corey wrote in the email, sent to his deputy minister, Serge Dupont, that (Natural Resources Minister Joe) Oliver’s position would be crafted with industry input, explaining that Collyer had also discussed the matter with the association’s vice-president of markets and oilsands, Greg Stringham.

“He said they liked the proposal a lot,” Corey wrote in the email, released through access to information legislation to Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based conservation group. “He termed it as an elegant solution that is worth pursuing.”

The email also said that Collyer would “quietly talk to a few more players,” and that another senior bureaucrat would then “write the position up so that it could be raised with the minister, if you are comfortable, as a possible position around which we could try to build support.”

Under pressure from Canadian lobbying, Europe recently agreed to perform an impact study, postponing its decision until 2013.

“Of course it’s regrettable that there’s a delay, we want to have this legislation in place as soon as possible,” the European Union’s ambassador to Canada, Matthias Brinkmann told reporters last week.

Brinkmann that the legislation was designed with a “science-based” approach to assess the climate footprint of fuels used for transportation and their feedstocks. Bitumen from the oilsands, which requires large amounts of energy, water and land in its production, ranked among the most polluting sources of fuel, based on a life-cycle analysis of its emissions.

But the European assessment ranked oil shale and coal converted to liquid fuel as more polluting sources of energy in its proposed legislation.

Travis Davies, a spokesman for CAPP, said it was normal for bureaucrats to consult with industry about information (...).

(...)

Although the government was warned by bureaucrats not to become “cheerleaders” for the oilpatch, three years ago, when it launched a lobbying and marketing strategy to defend the Canadian industry, federal officials have since allowed its efforts to evolve into a sophisticated campaign, funded by taxpayers, that has included special training on lobbying for diplomats, regular meetings with industry representatives, and outreach to “select” foreign media outlets.

“The federal government is supposed to represent the interests of Canadian citizens abroad, but it’s clear that the oil industry is now in the driver’s seat when it comes to our role on the world stage,” said Gillian McEachern, deputy campaign director at Environmental Defence. “This is another example of the erosion of Canada’s democracy at the hands of the tarsands lobby, which not only threatens Canada’s air, water and land but is actively trying to prevent good climate actions in other countries.”

Climate scientists and governments around the world have agreed that humans must rapidly slash greenhouse gas emissions, mainly produced through consumption of fossil fuels and deforestation, to avoid irreversible damage to life on Earth.

In December, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government announced that Canada would withdraw from the world’s only legally binding treaty on global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, to focus on negotiating a new binding treaty by 2015 that would come into force several years down the road.

Cue in yet again the usual hypocritical, double-talking platitudes from Harper and his Harpies, as well as from the lobbyists:
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has championed the industry’s concerns, explaining that the oilsands are important to the Canadian economy as well as energy security, but only represent a fraction of global emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

(...)

Travis Davies, a spokesman for CAPP, said it was normal for bureaucrats to consult with industry about information, and that this doesn’t “sugarcoat’ the fact that there is an environmental component to oil and gas production. He also said CAPP supports policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as long as they are science-based and reward transparency.

"Science-based", my own scientific ass - indeed.

Climate change denialism is anything but science-based - it is in fact nothing more that complete rejection of scientific evidence in favor of selfish corporate interests.

Conclusion: the anti-science policies of Prime Minister Harper and his government are not only dictated by their own religious interests but, especially in matters of the environment, all the more dictated as well by the mining/oil/resource industry - but what about the expert opinion of actual scientists? Pshah!

So, now we know why Harper and his Harpies have ever been happy at doing nothing about climate change ...

And never mind our health or that of our country's environment - as long as there's money to be made at the expense of it all.

Welcome to your Corporatocracy, eh?

Q.E.D. - yet again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anti-Science Harper: Whereby I Say (Again) - Q.E.D.


Back there, some two years ago, I discussed how Harper and his Harpies shut down the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS), all the while spinning about keeping it funded and even going as far as lying about what they were actually doing. One of the points I made as "note added in proof" was the following:


Indeed - ever since Harper and Co. took power in early 2006, science funding has been drying up all across the board in Canada. No shit. Really.

Hell - even a creationist is currently our Minister of ... Science and Technology! What else did you expect?

Results? Here's one.

Here's another one.

And another one.

And another one.


(...)

Whether it is about climate change, biomedical sciences, physics, chemistry, astronomy, astrophysics, et al. - Harper and his Theocons are effectively killing scientific research in our country.

And guess what? They ain't done yet (emphasis added):
HARPER: (...) But we do have to cast our minds in terms of the economy, in terms of our budget, to tackling the deficit. That will obviously be the next phase to ensure that the extraordinary measures we’ve had to undertake don’t result in a permanent deficits. Right now we do have, we still have the lowest deficit in major industrialized countries; we have the lowest debt ratio but those assets have to be protecting through prudent management and our focus will start to be on exit strategies from the extraordinary fiscal measures we’ve undertaken.

(...) I won’t speculate on what will be in the budget but I will say — and you’ll hear me say this both nationally and internationally because as you know I’m chairing the G8 and co-chairing the G20 — that we’ll be talking about, both nationally and internationally, the necessity of continuing the stimulus measures in the short-term but beginning to think in the medium term about serious exit strategies from some of these economic measures. And also how to continue to advance key economic priorities in a period of constrained spending growth which we will need to see in the next few years. We still have to be able to advance key files that will continue to build the strength of the Canadian economy.

I’ve given my cabinet ministers — all of my cabinet ministers now — comprehensive mandate letters to re-examine their priorities in terms of this major direction. We’ll also review all government legislation. We’ll decide what we’re going to proceed with. We’ll decide what we may combine. We’ll decide what we’ll drop and, of course, we’ll be taking a look at what new measures we might be able to introduce going forward.
"Security" expenditures and generous (free) money to banking institutions aside (of course), wanna bet where there will be further budgetary cuts to reduce Teh Deficit?

I won't give the obvious answer. Instead, I'll let our Prime Poseur say the closing words (emphasis added):
So look: I’m convinced that the country, this country, will be a positive contributor to a realistic fight against climate change. But ultimately, this government, the national government, will make those decisions and it will make those decisions in a way that treats all parts of the country fairly.
How reassuring, n'est-ce pas?

How reassuring indeed - case in point (emphasis added):

Environment Canada cuts eliminating research, monitoring and partnerships

Scientific research, monitoring and partnerships are disappearing from Environment Canada's budget as part of a multimillion-dollar reduction in spending. Here is a partial list of cuts confirmed by the federal government.

* Emergency disaster response: Spending reduction of $3.78 million per year as part of nationally co-ordinated model. Environment Canada can continue to provide information and advice ``from a centralized location.''

* United Nations Environment Programme Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS)/water: Canada has managed the international database examining water quality around the world since the 1970s, but will save $851,000 per year by 2014-15 by ending its funding and asking another country to take over.

* Canadian Environment Technology Advancement Centres: Centres established in 1994 with funding from Environment Canada to offer advice and support to small businesses for commercialization and development of new products. But government says other organizations must jump in to support because Environment Canada ``does not have the mandate or accountability to develop an environmental industry in Canada.'' Anticipated savings of $1.2 million per year.

* Research on industrial emissions measurements: The department to achieve annual savings of $718,000 by moving away from doing its own measurements of industrial pollution, and relying instead on outside sources of measurements to be assessed and reviewed for quality assurance.

* Urban waste water research: Environment Canada aiming to save about $1.2 million per year mainly in areas of wet weather and wastewater technology research.

* Waste management: Environment Canada aiming to save about $400,000 per year by reducing waste management activities since this is the responsibility of the provinces and municipalities.

* Integration of monitoring for water and air quality: Government says there is duplication and is projecting savings of $4.9 million ``by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental monitoring,'' including reduction in number of ozone monitoring stations. Scientists have asked the government for evidence supporting its plans to reduce spending on monitoring.

Oilsands monitoring is not affected since it is supposed to be funded by the industry.

* National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy: Environment Canada projects savings of $5.2 million annually by eliminating the advisory panel, established by the Mulroney government to do research and special projects informing decision makers about the links between business and protection of the environment.


In other words, we have the typical hypocritical and intellectually dishonest, outright mendacious, Harper & Co. double-talk - i.e. "less is more" and "let's private/corporate/industrial interests perform 'responsible', 'voluntary', monitoring" ... ri-i-ight - here's what I wrote in this respect 5 years ago (emphasis added):

As the Harper conservative minority government keeps backtracking and spinning on the Kyoto Accord while standing against reducing (let alone getting rid of) tax breaks to oil producing companies, and with coal, gas plants and tar sand operations in Alberta now being the worst greehouse emitters of the country, it looks as if Canada's earned reputation as a world-leader on the environment question is gradually going down the drain.

But we are not quite yet from going all the way of the Bush administration and its love for, to paraphrase former Vice-president Al Gore, "Big Oil, Big Energy and Big Corporations".

Now, I am all for a free market-based economy. Competition drives initiative and creativity, leading to better (or new) products as well as to better (or new) services, and henceforth to a better and greater choice for consumers. This in turn will usually translate well into job creation or maintenance, along with better salaries. And this in turn will usually translate into better individual spending powers and higher standards of living.

However, trusting in corporations to "do the right thing" with regards to the welfare of society and/or the environment is pure nonsense. The reality is that companies live by one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. Hence, companies will do anything, regardless of whether they initially had good intentions or not, to keep profits not only high but also to increase them as well. In other words, companies will cheat, lie or steal, even go as far as to use spying, sabotage and violence, as means to protect and increase their profit margins. This is simply the nature of the beast.


Five years ago, we were "not quite yet from going all the way of the (G.W.) Bush administration".

But today, now we are "there".

So all I can say is - Q.E.D.

"Going down the drain", indeed ...

And whoop-dee-doo ...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Simple Statement Of (Rationalist/Atheist) Creed

It is high time to realize that it is not wise to continue indulging irrational, ideology-driven, religious-driven, science-rejecting, mendacious, folks by allowing them to spew their bullshit without being called upon it - for the lame sake of "civility". Allow me to offer to you my argument why:

For too long now, too numerous people out there have been allowed a veritable destructive wide range of leeway to put forth their creationist/religious arguments based from incredulity/ignorance, outright self-serving/self-centered self-righteous feelings/beliefs, mendacious bullshit -if not outright lies- regarding science and scientific facts, and/or devious/malicious bastardization/corruption of scientific knowledge and understanding, all with the unavoidable result of conveying the (absolutely wrong-headed and false) impression that such (non)arguments constitute "valid, reasonable points" to be considered in the same balance as ... actually tested/verified/demonstrated scientific facts.

Now, as I opined before, such primitive-minded folks are in effect irredeemable. However, through it all, it is always all those other folks out there, those that are "sitting on the sidelines", that have been going away from such discussions between rationalists/scientists and religious/creationists/fundamentalists with the said wrong-headed/false perception that the "religious" arguments constitute valid, reasonable counter-points to scientifically established facts - thus consequently leading to the current, sad and confused state of affairs (re: evolution, global warming/climate change, vaccination, etc.).

Do you know how the 18-19th century era is named by an overwhelming consensus of historians? It is named the "Age of Enlightenment" or the "Age of Reason". Why? Because that is when science - and the scientific method- truly came into its own, already then flaying hard and fast at irrationality and superstition with its 100 mm-caliber bullets of reason, rationality and scientifically tested/verified/demonstrated acquired knowledge -of us, of life, of the world, or our solar system, of our galaxy, of our universe- and cutting foolishness down without a second thought (and deservingly so).

And yet, some 200-250 years later, it is as if we are right back when (then) we started - except with the paradoxical fact that science and knowledge has improved/increased a million fold (especially over the last 30-50 years!). How has this come about? Well, this is obviously another discussion for another time, of course. Be that as it may, here we are now in the 21st century - and yet so many folks still reject evolution (as but one example), purely for superstitious/religious/theistic beliefs. This is where my observation from the earlier paragraph comes into full play: a large part as to why we find ourselves "stuck back" essentially to prior the 19th century is precisely because for far too long not enough of us has ever called out the ignorance, bullshit and outright mendacity of religious/creationist/primitive-minded people right in their faces - and especially for the benefit of all those other folks out there who "are not sure", "don't know", or "are confused" ... i.e. sitting on the sidelines of this artificial (non)debate.

Hence, that is why I've resolved a long time ago to call out arguments from ignorance and incredulity for what they are. That is why I've resolved to call out bullshit and outright lies/bastardizations/corruption regarding facts that have been established/tested/verified/demonstrated scientifically. That is also why I do not even bother to put on kid gloves, let alone "civil" or diplomatic ones, with such indecent, immoral people. For too long they've been allowed to push utter bullshit without being called out for it.

Thus we must draw the line once and for all. Now and forever.

Therefore, such people must not only be called out for their intellectual dishonesty, their willful ignorance and/or outright mendacity, but they must also be deservingly ridiculed in order to expose them for what they truly are - *especially* for the benefit of all those others that remain "on the sidelines".

This is my honest creed regarding such matters - from attacks on scientific knowledge and the scientific method, through continuous assaults on reason and rationality, to political/ideological hypocrisy/pandering/fearmongering (rightwingers, theocrats, creationists/IDists, climate change-denialists and/or authoritarians, anyone?).

That is because I sincerely, genuinely, fear for the future of Humanity. I look historically at the Christian Middle Ages and I weep. I look historically at Islam in the 900-1100's CE (do you know how many stars have Arabic names? Almost all of them! Where do the "zero" comes from? Where do "Arabic numerals", our very numerical system, come from? Etc.), and how by 1200 CE they crashed down towards full theocracy and a consequent dark age of ignorance (continuing to this day, albeit I grant other external colonial forces contributed to such perpetuation), and I also weep.

I likewise look historically at what has been going on since the 1950's (Cold War years) and, especially, since the last decade, and I am frankly scared as to how this will end up if We. Keep. Playing. "Reasonable". Instead. Of. Calling. Out. Frankly. Their. Bullshit.

That is why I am "militant" in such matters. Now, mind you, I'm not seeking here the "atheismation" of the world. I'll be somewhat content if the majority of folks at the very least become like the Kenneth Millers of the world - folks who accept the reality of evolution, while doing their own mental gymnastics privately to reconcile said acceptance with their religious beliefs (with the added bonus of not really trying to impose their religious beliefs upon others).

Of course, I'd rather see the world completely free of superstition and religion ... but as a pragmatist, realist, rationalist -and yes, scientist-, I've no problem about going at this one step a a time.

So, in conclusion, we must realize and understand that we can no longer indulge fundamentalist/creationist people - or all those that would deny/reject reason, rationality and scientific facts. They constitute a veritable -critical- problem. They must be exposed and ridiculed for what they are - primitive-minded ignoramuses -, if only for the potential benefit of all those others that keep "sitting on the fence" ...

... and let's not forget that, at least for the time being, it is *they* that constitute the actual majority, eh?

Hence, for the future, I say: be proud, stand up, and shout at the religious buffoons!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apology Of A Poseur

(The following was inspired by Deepak Chopra's quackery-laden and hypocritically self-serving review of Richard Dawkins' book, The Magic of Reality. And yes, I do use herein a lot of Deepak Chopra's very own arrogant, self-condemning words. Enjoy).



I find myself saddened - yet also outraged - by Richard Dawkins’ latest written offering, an intellectually dishonest waste of paper titled The Magic of Reality. As you all know, I have written many substantive books concerning my personal revelation and enlightened understanding of the Quantum Nature of the Universe, of Consciousness and, ultimately, of God. In fact, my body of work so far constitutes a significant part of an overwhelmingly large ensemble of considered treatments, from many modern intellectual, theological and spiritual quarters, that irrefutably establishes the non-illusory existence of God. Hence, as a world-renowned best-selling author whose written works have helped countless fellow human beings better understand such Quantum Nature of our souls, of our spirituality and of our universal connection to everything, and thus providing a living framework of spiritual self-improvement for hundred of millions of you, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer a serious – yet thoughtful - critique of Dawkins’ latest sortie.

To put it bluntly, Dawkins, a dogmatic atheist and scientist of popular fame whom I strongly perceive to have the arrogance of thinking himself immune to critical challenge, demonstrates with his recent book to be clearly on an ominous and destructive mission to prove that all spirituality is the field of fools and knaves. Indeed, not only does Dawkins continue to ignore his myriad of intellectual and spiritual critics, such as myself, but he furthermore maintains a merry arrogance about his ignorance of all things spiritual. To this effect, I herein pronounce his dismissiveness of spirituality as a cowardly and underhanded cover for his own deep misunderstanding on such matters, as quite plainly revealed by his contention that nothing that we know emotionally or intuitively is valid.

Please, good and faithful reader – re-read the last sentence. How can Dawkins be more stupidly and blindly wrong about the validity of human emotions and human intuition? Deep down, you know the inherent reality and truth of said emotions and intuitions, of hunches and gut feelings, for it is such truthiness that has always wisely guided our decisions and life-choices since times immemorial. All of us human beings whom are in touch with their spirituality do know this irrefutable, fundamental, and brightly shining Truth.

In fact, every fibre of my own being know with crystal-clear certainty that my intuition not only has helped me to grasp and understand the Quantum Nature of human spirituality, but additionally it is that very same intuition that has allowed me, and keeps allowing me, to deeply understand the current state of Humanity’s scientific knowledge and what it truly means for the very real nature of spirituality and God. And all I need to do is to read the works of great scientists past and present to find validation for my intuitive understanding of scientific findings, regardless of the fact that I have no training in any scientific discipline. Indeed – it is this very intuitive understanding of Life and the Universe which enables my enlightenment regarding the Quantum Nature of the soul, of the spirit, of God. This is, again, a simple, yet so obvious, Truth.

Instead, the godless Dawkins would deny such Truth by pushing his shameless atheist propaganda disguised as helpful, even avuncular popular science. And what does he offer instead? Only science, through the materialist scientific method, tells us what's real. In actuality, my intuitive understanding is that science is severely limited by the axiom that it can only extrapolate data so that experience can be quantified and measured. Yet, Dawkins senselessly claims that anything science cannot prove falls into two categories: either it's false, or science will get around to it soon enough. Thus by his own written words, Dawkins ignores the basic fact that the scientific method is quite limited, in addition to conveniently forget that human experience will ever remain richer than any scientific model – if only because every single human being in touch with his own spirituality intuitively knows so. In other words, only personal revelation and enlightened, intuitive understanding allow us to perceive the spiritual nature of ourselves and the Universe at the Quantum level.

But not science. Never science. That is because the Mysteries of the Universe can only be explored and understood through spirituality – namely, emotions and intuition. Yes, science can never even aspire to understand the spiritual Universe, let alone God. Science always corrects itself while never claiming any absolute truths - contrast this to the innate, understandable Truth and certainty one such as I, or you, can grasp through our inner spiritual voice! Hence, Dawkins' vision that only science tells us what is really true, and that no supernatural explanation can ever be true, not only seeks to extirpate any Magic, or Mystery, out of Reality, but is furthermore downright obnoxious. To this effect, throughout his book, he arrogantly uses a tone of absolute authority about matters that he shows complete ignorance of – including the very nature and conduct of science itself. Thus I say: behold Richard Dawkins, the “scientist”.

I have no doubt that Dawkins' glaring shortcomings will be pointed out by academics who know their philosophy and theology. Still, I find that it is truly a shame that he will in the meantime get away scot-free in the popular press. In this regards, I hereby announce that I fully intend to write yet another best-seller book to counter such incompetence and intellectual dishonesty on the part of Dawkins. For indeed, while his book irresponsibly and insanely tries to kill the legacy of faith in human culture, it instead winds up showing bad faith toward the science that Dawkins supposedly reveres. Believe me when I say that my intuition tells me that this is indeed the case – sadly for the dogmatic atheist, and oh so foolish, Dawkins.

Thus once again the undeniable truthiness is verified: scientists will never fully understand Reality because of the limitations of the intuition-deprived materialist scientific method, in addition to never truly knowing what they are talking about, or let alone being able to understand with their closed, non-spiritual minds, what it is they are trying to actually understand. Science and the scientific method must be reined in, or at the very least put back in their very limited roles in the progress of human technology and medicine, for only the spiritually enlightened can truly, intuitively understand the nature of Reality, of the Universe, of Ourselves, of God.

Why waste energy and time to demonstrate what you know, deep down, to be Truth?

Never forget this rhetorical question, dear faithful reader. And remain ever wary of deceivers, charlatans, mountebanks, swindlers and quacks, such as Richard Dawkins and his ilk, who would deny you the very rewarding opportunity – for you and me - to explore our inner selves in order to touch God at the Quantum Spiritual Level.

Always be spiritual, and thus be blissful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Darkness Strikes Back

I've begun a series of video-essays on YouTube (my channel is here) titled "Welcome to our Semi-Dark Age". The first episode is now up (in three parts, due to time length restrictions by YouTube) - hopefully, my skills at video recording/editing will improve as I make more videos. Similarly, my pronunciation of English words remains a work in progress ... In any case, I've embedded herein the three videos of this first episode of the series, titled "The Darkness Strikes Back". The transcript is reproduced below the videos.







Welcome to our Semi-Dark Age: The Darkness Strikes Back


Well, here we are in 2011 CE.

I am simply amazed at the accumulated knowledge that science, through the scientific, naturalist method, has diligently produced over the last 2 centuries or so.

In fact, just the past 3 decades alone have constituted a veritable exponential expansion of knowledge and understanding with regards to the fabric of chaos and order, the formation and nature of planets, stars and galaxies, the nature and fabric of energy, light, matter, the atom, elements, molecules, macromolecules, genes, chromosomes, cells, tissues, and so on and so forth.

Indeed, all the various scientific disciplines continue relentlessly to push back further the boundaries of Humanity’s ignorance, thus working together in order to keep playing – and improving upon – the enlightening and joyful symphony of Humanity’s accumulated knowledge of this intriguing, complicated, dangerous – and yet so enticingly wondrous – reality of ours.

Yes – I am amazed.

And yes – I feel a child-like wonderment and excitement at such continuously built monument to Humanity, by Humanity, for Humanity.

Take for example our origins. We now know for a fact that we have evolved some 200 thousand years ago, that our species – homo sapiens sapiens – is but the currently living, single twig of a branch that previously sprouted other hominids. Yet, this very hominid branch from which Humanity stems is itself an offshoot of an older branch, which in turn is an offshoot from a yet older branch, and so on, until we reach the oldest branch that is common to both ours and that of our well known modern chimpanzees.

Sure – details need to be worked out further, yet this in no way invalidates the factual knowledge that we are indeed evolved, self-aware primates that are capable of abstract-thinking and reasoning, of speaking, of creating culture, of technological progress, and of building civilization.

Furthermore, molecular biology and genetics have demonstrated that all of us have in common ancestry a small group of humans that lived in Africa, one through which Humanity ended up colonizing the whole world - over a span 60-80 thousand years.

Hence, we are Africans – all 7 billion of us. And we are all related!

Even more fascinating is the evolutionary tree of life on our planet.

It’s gradual and incremental understanding over the last 152 years, thanks to the integration of various scientific disciplines, reveals to us not only our specific place in the diverse web of life around us, but furthermore conveys the simple verity that all lifeforms on Earth – including us – are related to each other closely or distantly at the very genetic, molecular and cellular levels, thanks to the factual process of evolution over the span of 3.5 billion years.

Sure – details need to be worked out further, yet again this in no way invalidates the reality of the existence of this evolutionary tree of life, let alone our place within it.

In fact, thanks to the knowledge that keeps on being accumulated by science and the scientific method, we now have broad, yet factual, answers to many of the most fundamental questions that we have ever asked of ourselves since the beginning of our recorded history. Such as:

Who are we?

Where do we come from?

What is our place in this world?

Well, we now know. Period.

Sure – once again, details need to be worked out further, yet this in no way invalidates the reality of the answers that we have to these questions.

We also know the answer to yet another fundamental question, namely: “what is our place in the universe?

Well, here is the broad, yet factual, answer:

We know precisely where our planet earth is situated within our solar system.

In turn, we know the place of our solar system within our galaxy, the Milky Way.

And in turn, we know the location of our galaxy within our local group of galaxies.

Still in turn, we know the location of our regional galactic group within our local supercluster of galaxies.

And in turn, we know where our local supercluster is situated within our universe, in relation to other superclusters.

We even know with confidence not only the age of our universe, 13.75 billion years, but how long ago our solar system – our own planet included – was formed.

Some 4.5 billion years ago.

Sure – again, details need to be worked out further, yet this in no way invalidates the reality of the knowledge that we have of our place in the universe.

In effect; science - and namely the scientific method – are the proven, very best tool invented so far by Humanity, constituting a rigorous, integrative and self-correcting process of fact-based and experimental demonstration-supported inquiry which allows us to gain further understanding of the inner workings of the Universe, of Life, of ourselves and, ultimately, of Reality.

And knowledge has always been used by us human beings to devise new technological applications, ever since the dawn of Humanity.

And as we increase our overall knowledge, we devise new ways to improve our daily living conditions, our daily activities, our health, our means of transportation and communication, and so on and so forth.

As we understand more, we are able to create better tools and means to improve our lives. And in turn, we devise improved and/or new means to continue our scientific inquiries.

That is how we keep maturing not only as a self-aware, abstract-thinking species, but also as a civilisation.

That is what we do - it is the very essence of who and what we are.

Yet, as much as we are fortunate to live in this modern era of ours, the overwhelming prevalence of ignorance and irrationality in our supposedly civilized societies leaves us mired in superstition, dogmatic beliefs and a reactionary rejection of scientific facts evidenced and demonstrated by the scientific method.

Indeed, never mind that current scientific knowledge already has potential solutions to problems such as the despoilment of our environment, the warming of our global climate, the over-exploitation of the very finite resources of our planet, or the over-exploitation of animal and plant food sources.

And never mind that although we know with absolute genetic certainty that we are all the same species *and* race, that we are all related, the cosmetic variations that are ethnicities are still met with tribal and xenophobic fear, hate, and even violence.

We have the knowledge.

But it remains ignored – whether unwittingly or willingly.

In effect, ordinary people and so-called leaders the world-over, including within our supposedly advanced societies, are more than ever quick to dismiss scientific knowledge, reason and rationality, for the promulgation of self-interests, ideology and/or superstitious beliefs.

Thus we find ourselves in a Semi-Dark Age of sorts.

For instance:

Despite our current, advanced biomedical knowledge and related technological, curative innovations, people flock en masse towards “alternative medical practices”, such as aura cleansing, aromatherapy, faith healing, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, chelation therapy, reflexology, naturopathy, and so on, and so forth.

These pseudo-sciences represent big business with billions in profits each year, pushing and selling pills, extracts, philtres, potions and books, all sold in pharmacies or in bookstores or in self-proclaimed “health centers”.

Worse, these are not only promulgated by their pushers, but by actual nurses and physicians as well.

Even worse still: such alternative medical practices are either silently or openly supported by governmental health agencies the world-over.

But never mind that such collective quackery is incapable of curing anything – instead, at best, being able to act like a placebo; at worse, doing actual harm.

Indeed, over the last decade, 2.5 billion has been spent in research to demonstrate curative properties – if any - for such quack practices. What was rather demonstrated is that, indeed, most of them do act no better than placebos.

And yet … people still flock to these sham practices, enriching the quacks that promulgate them.

No doubt, the encouragement – or pushing - in the usage of such quackery comes first and foremost through simple ignorance and a profound lack of knowledge and understanding of science ...

... all overly amplified over by word of mouth. And the printed word – on paper or online – with “health columns” or “sections”. And the talk-radio shows about health. And television newscasts with their so-called health segments, or reports.

And again – via those nurses and physicians that should know better.

Hence, all of these keep on providing highly audible/visible platforms, either unwittingly or willingly, to the quacks and their devout adherents, thus allowing them to confuse and convince too many gullible individuals.

In any case, people happily and eagerly swallow such fantasy selling points because too many among us would rather believe in magic cures and magic potions and spiritual incantations and in anything that promises fast, miraculous – but non-existent - cures, rather than accept factual, proven medical treatments – however relatively limited some may still be.

Thus, seemingly more than ever, too many people prefer to wallow in superstition and the supernatural in order to sustain a so-called spiritual need for health and guidance in life.

The pervasiveness of seers, astrologers, mediums, and other assorted quacks, illustrates well this tragic state of affairs.

Consequently, ignorance and superstitious beliefs remain indeed prevalent – at the expense of rationality and scientifically-demonstrated factual knowledge.

Yes - still in 2011 CE.

And does the world ever believe – in God, Gods, ghosts or spirits.

From the three abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and their various, usually fundamentalist off-shoots; through Budhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Taoism and Universalism; and to all other sorts of beliefs and cults embracing witchcraft, druidism, spiritism, including – of course – scientology.

Yes, the world does believe indeed.

Take this recent survey throughout various nations: an average of 45% of Humanity absolutely believes in a God or a Supreme being.

But that is a part of the overall, dismaying picture: another 17% of Humanity on average is ambivalent about believing in a Deity or Deities, sometimes believing and sometimes not. And another average of 13% of Humanity is simply uncertain whether they believe or not in a Deity or Deities.

So, in effect, that amounts to about 75% of Humanity that either always believes, sometimes believes, or aren’t sure if they believe or not, in some supernatural being or beings.

Yes, still in 2011 CE.

Now, how does this impact on the acceptance of scientifically demonstrated facts?

Let’s take the case of evolution, for instance: that same world-wide survey shows that on average, only 41% of Humanity accepts that human beings evolved.

Still, these numbers are staggeringly depressing, for they should range in the 80-90% across the board – if only because evolution is a fact and that facts are, you know, facts.

Yet, look at the US: a dismal 28% accept evolution. In Canada, my country: only 45%. In Great Britain: only 55%.

But wait – the picture is not complete: we find that on average 31% of Humanity finds itself ambivalent – sometimes accepting evolution or sometimes accepting …. creationism.

In the US: there is 32% of such people; in Canada and Great Britain: 34%.

And then, on average 28% of Humanity believes in creationism. Not surprisingly, the percentages are astronomical in essentially theocratic countries such as Saudi Arabia, or even Turkey.

Yet in the US, it is nonetheless a whopping 40%.

So, in effect, an average majority of 59% of Humanity either firmly rejects the fact of evolution, and/or remains apparently unsure or confused on the question.

Let’s look at another example, such as anthropomorphic global warming.

This one year-old survey was conducted in Canada, the US and Great Britain. Once again we find dismaying numbers of people that accept the scientific evidence which supports the fact that global warming is primarily caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Indeed, actual majorities of people in the US and Britain either reject outright that there is any global warming going on at all, or concede that it is going on but not caused by humans.

Are you beginning to see a pattern, a link, a correlation, here?

In his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan wrote the following:

I worry that, especially as the millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused – in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.

This was published on the year of Sagan’s passing, some 15 years ago. Yet here we are, in 2011 CE.

Over the last decade, the light of reason, knowledge and science has been under an increasing, systematic and relentless attack by the darkness of ignorance, fear of the unknown and superstitious beliefs.

And this, sadly enough, shows no sign of ebbing.

Yes - the darkness has been striking back – with a vengeance.

Similarly to the previously mentioned horde of proponents of pseudo-scientific alternative medicines, there is an even more formidable horde of men and women that have embraced ignorance and fear of the unknown, all the while rejecting reason, rationality and science, for the benefit of their parochial and intractable beliefs.

In Canada and the US alone, they are mostly pastors, priests, reverends, pseudo-scientists, spokespeople, and so on and so forth, all determined, along with their devout flocks of believers and fund-backers, to confuse and convince the too large proportion of people that are gullible, unsure or likewise ignorant, so as to impose their own superstitious beliefs.

Many of these proponents of the darkness we know all too well, already.

In fact, their devout followers will be found at all levels of our societies: in town or city councils; as mayors; on school boards; in state or provincial legislatures; as your state or provincial heads of government; in your federal legislatures.

They have been, are, or really want to be, your federal heads of government.

They are in the mainstream media – in print, on radio, on tv.

They are in entertainment.

They are nurses, physicians and pharmacists.

They are in your judiciary.

In law enforcement, armed forces; as prosecutors, or vendors, or neighbors.

They are everywhere.

Yes, the light of reason, knowledge and science is under siege by the ever growing darkness of ignorance, fear of the unknown and superstitious beliefs.

All thanks to its proponents, promulgators and defenders.

Its agents.

They are about the rejection of evolution.

Rejection of anthropomorphic global warming.

Rejection or distrust of evidenced-based medicine.

Rejection or distrust of science and scientists.

They reject knowledge, and consequently, they reject progress.

Thus they also reject reason and rationality.

Where have we heard this before?

Without the light of critical reasoning and scientific investigation in our curiosity-driven endeavour of understanding our universe, our world and ourselves, we would still be living in ignorance, paralyzed by fear of the unknown and imprisoned in the vice-like grip of superstitious notions, fabled myths and dogmatic beliefs.

Yet they – these agents of the darkness – would do away with this precious light, therefore thrusting us back into a veritable Dark Age.

In the meantime, thanks to a pervasiveness of gullibility, as well as a prevalent lack of understanding concerning scientific facts and knowledge, among a seeming majority of people, the darkness has kept on gaining ground, has kept on growing back to engulf Humanity anew.

Thus, over the last decade or so, we find ourselves in a Semi-Dark Age where reason and science are constantly being waged war upon – in the classroom, in legislatures, in the mainstream media outlets.

The darkness has been striking back against the light at every turn and opportunity.

Hence, more than ever, those of us that would promulgate and defend the light of reason, rationality, knowledge and science must stand up and use our voices to say enough, to push back the darkness anew – so that it may one day, finally, dissipate into nothing more than fleeting shadows.

I am therefore adding my own voice to the number of people with greater minds, and/or better eloquence, than me, whom have written books, blogs and produced incisive and thoughtful YouTube videos to this effect, and are still doing so.

Thus, I humbly cast myself among these resolute agents of the light.

Now the question is – what about you?


REFERENCES (Books, scientific articles)

Dawkins, R. (2008) The God delusion. Houghton Mifflin, New York; 463 pages.
Dawkins, R. (2010) The greatest show on earth. Free Press, NewYork; 472 pages.
Einstein, A. (2010) Relativity. the special and general theory. Martino, Mansfield Centre; 188 pages.
Gore, Al (2007) The assault on reason. Penguin Press, New York; 320 pages.
Hawking, S. (1996) A brief history of time. Bantam, New York; 212 pages.
Hawking, S. (2010) The grand design. Bantam, New York; 198 pages.
Herrada, A., et al. (2011) Scaling properties of protein family phylogenies. BMC Evol. Biol. 11:155.
Hitchens, C. (2008) God is not great. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto; 307 pages.
Lappalainen, T., Dermitzakis, E.T. (2010) Evolutionary history of regulatory variation in human populations. Hum. Mol. Genet. 19:R197-R203.
Sagan, C. (1996) The demon-haunted world. Science as a candle in the dark. Ballantine, New York; 457 pages.
Underhill, P.A., Kivisild, T. (2007) Use of Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA population stucture in tracing human migrations. Annu. Rev. Genet. 41:539-564.
Wood, B., Harrison, T. (2011) The evolutionary context of the first hominins. Nature 470:347-352.

URLs

$2.5 billion spent, no alternative cures found
Angus Reid: views on global warming vary in three countries
Another Point of View: about that whole "defining reality" thing ...
Another Point of View: the limits of ignorance
Another Point of View: welcome to our semi-dark ages
Antimatter atoms trapped for 16 minutes
Antimatter found orbiting Earth - a first
Autism linked to rare gene changes
Cellular laser microsurgery illuminates research in vertebrate biology
Holograms reveal brain's inner workings: microscopy technique used to observe activity of neurons like never before
Ipsos Global @dvisory: supreme being(s), the afterlife and evolution
NASA: exploring the universe
New leukemia treatment exceeds 'wildest expectations'
New method detects emerging sunspots deep inside the sun, provides warning of dangerous solar flares
News Junkie Post: where in the universe are we?
Quackwatch: your guide to quackery, health fraud and intelligent decisions
Science Magazine: a phylogeny of complete genomes: data repository
Scientific American: tracking Y chromosomes through time
Understanding evolution: the emergence of humans
Why evolution is true: selective creationists


Friday, April 1, 2011

Late Friday Night Ode To ... The Future (Again)

Yet another war, another election campaign (Canada), Christian fundamentalists posing as Conservatives doing everything they can to impose their religious views and beliefs (Canada and USA), so-called liberals/progressive/democrats cowering or triangulating while still not doing much to prevent the Christian fundie march (Canada, USA), the majority of the electorate more ignorant, uninformed and/or disinformed than ever (Canada, USA), informed critical reasoning increasingly becoming scarce (Canada, USA), scientific knowledge and education increasingly under assault while average folks don't care or actually approve ... same thing with regards to constitutional laws and civil rights, further eroding in the name of Holy Security.

That is the state of North America in 2011.

Instead of leading our countries and the world to a veritable better place, we keep on destroying what we have achieved in the past, having become not just part of the world's problems, but selfishly and insousciantly worsening the FUBAR we keep causing.

Thus I give you: Alter Bridge - Before Tomorrow Comes and Open Your Eyes




So remember folks - we can be so much more than we are.

If we open our eyes at last.

But I guess only time will tell if we'll ever get out of these Semi-Dark Ages we keep miring ourselves into.