Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is Religion Child Abuse?

Is Religion Child Abuse? 

Yes, and No. Why, well because;
 My response could be misunderstood, as the question is itself, a "loaded" question. Therefore, we should all agree, to start us off, that there is no equivocation between repeated extreme child abuse and, for example, letting your child believe in an invisible dragon. I hope you can guess just how far one could take the invisible dragon metaphor.

However the fact remains that believing in imaginary dragons can cause potential harm, (or perhaps even real harm). Now, we can further imagine the harm that a belief in one or more omnipotent Deities might potentially cause or actually cause. In fact the list of atrocities and abuses committed against human's, directly by other human's, in 'the name of religion' (which includes the horror caused as a result of a belief in a Deity) is almost endless - So I will have to be summary, even terse, in my conclusion. Teaching children fables as fact is potentially harmful, as is repeatedly lying to children. So, Religion is child "abuse".

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you.  Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself.  There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!
"Show me," you say.  I lead you to my garage.  You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.
"Where's the dragon?" you ask.
"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely.  "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."
You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.
"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."
Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.
"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."
You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.
"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick."  And so on.  I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.
Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?"
- Carl Sagan (Demon Haunted World)

Thanks, Brady :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Root of All Arrogance.

"Now that we know just how truly ignorant we are, the time now is not for credulity but for skepticism" C. Hitchens.

"As the area of our knowledge grows, so too does the perimeter of our ignorance" N. Tyson

  The most arrogant claim one can make, in my view, is the claim one make's after weighing up the knowledge and ignorance we have acquired, or are yet to acquire, from the cosmos - and then assert that the entire universe was made with one mammalian species in mind. This is ridiculous and hubristic beyond all measure. To put it as mild as I must, it is crucial that we use human evidence, efficacy and reason to replace human arrogance, superstition and ignorance if we are to built a lasting 21st century civilization.

Thanks, Brady :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Religion and the Opium of People?

"...the heart of the heartless world, the sigh of the oppressed creature, the spirit of the spiritless situation; the opiate of the people. Criticism has plucked the flowers from the chain, not so that men may wear the chain without consolation, but so that he may break the chain, and cull the living flower." - Paraphrased by Hitch.

We have all heard the vulgarized or unrefined form of the above quote. It starts and ends with "Religion is the opium of the people", or something very similar. It should be noted that this is not what Marx really expresses here. I thought it worthy to post the quote in it's entirety, in order to give more context - but more importantly - to provide extra content, to what Marx actually said about Religion. In this verse he expresses something more profound and eternal than the neutered, watered down version it has devolved into since the original words were written. Marx was the author of more than just influential books and routinely quoted phrases (which now are reduced to soundbites), his works radically and profoundly changed the course of history and the reverberations, although diminishing, are still vibrating to this day. Words do change the world and this is an irreproachable example of the proverb "the pen can be mightier than the sword' - Karl Marx's novels and slogans became far more powerful than anyone could have predicted at the time.

"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."
-k.marx-"Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right".

Thanks, Brady.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The E- Cig Dilemma.

 Electronic Cigarettes or E-cigs, are a relatively recent trend in the use of the drug Nicotine. Nicotine has traditinally been ingested by inhaling the burnt smoke of the Tobacco plant, usually in the form of a cigarette. Electronic cigarettes were first invented or patented in the late 1960's, but were never put into production. The first modern electonic cigarettes appeared on the market in the first years of this century. E-cig popularity has incresed significantly in the last five years and now hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people use them.

 The E-cig Dilemma in Australia is a combination of two factors. The first is the high mortality and illness rates assicated with smoking tobacco - 20,000 people die in Australia each year from smoking. As a point of comparison all other drugs combined kill around half as many people per annum (8,000 of these 9,000 deaths are caused by Alcohol). The second factor to consider is the legal status concerning the sale of nicotine.

 In Australia it is illegal to re-sell nicotine - meaning it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes containing nicotine at shops. Tobacco is the only legal option at the local shopping centre. This in turn means that smokers in Australia are somewhat "forced" to continue smoking the remakably dangerous tobacco plant. However there is no law against importing nicotine for personal use - But the fact remains that cigarettes are easily availabile while E-cigs are harder to aquire. This implies that people will keep using tobacco - and continue to die.

 E-cigs are a recent phenomenon, so there is a scarcity of strong scientific peer reviewed research on the harms and benefits asociated with their use. However the basic E-cig contains Nicotine, Propolyne Glycol (or similiar) and/or flavouring/colourings. This is a very different creature, on the face of it, than the tobacco cigarrette - but the drug is the same. If I were a betting man, I would bet that E-cigs are less harmul than Tobacco. However all smokers, indeed all Australian's, are victims of the illegality of the resale of nicotine. If every smoker swtiched to E-cigs i doubt 20,000 people would die per annum as a result.

Thanks, Brady :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Methadone Diaries: 2

Diary Entry 2. Day 1 continued.

9:00am - Greg  examines his diverted dose of pure Methadone with extreme exigency - and he knows exactly what he is going to do with it. Greg was on his way back home after leaving the pharmacy a few minutes ago. At the pharmacy he collected 2x 100ml bottles containing 65mg of Methadone each. His pure dose also contains 65mg of Methadone but is undiluted. Methadone has 5mg of methadone/ml of water - so undiluted it provides a greater "rush", as it can be put into the bloodstream faster than 100ml's of Methadone diluted with water can.

10:00am - Greg arrives home and eagerly rushes inside. He prepares a 20ml syringe and draws up the pure methadone into the syringe. He then attaches a micron or wheel filter to the syringe, to filter out any impurities or microbes. Then a "butterfly" needle is connected to the wheel filter. A butterfly needle has "wings" on either side of the needle (hence the name), it also has an ~30cm long, clear, thin tube which links the wheel filter and syringe to the needle's metallic point - It is quite an elaborate device. Greg is ready to inject the drug.

10:15am - Greg finds, or "registers" a vein and watches the blood flow into the needle, to assure that he is injecting into a vein - practice has made this an easy thing to accomplish. Missing a vein can be painful at best and literally dangerous at its worst, resulting in possible loss of limb. Greg shudders in anticipation thinking about the opiate rush he is about to experience. Greg depresses the plunger on the syringe and watches the Methadone disappear into his bloodstream. Within a few seconds a sensation of euphoric calm overwhelms him... ... ...

Thanks, :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The DMT Dilemma: Part II.

"History once a tragedy, is now a farce" K. Marx.

DMT or Dimethyltryptamine is currently an international Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive category. Meaning it is illegal in most countries as a result of the ridiculously short-sighted 1971 Convention on Psychotropic substances. The global 1971 "drug war" initiative, led by the equally narrow-minded Nixon, banned DMT as well as many other commonly used drugs, but it also banned other important psychedelics such as LSD, Psilocin and Mescaline.

DMT is probably the most ubiquitous naturally occurring drug in the entire biological sphere. DMT is found in many different species of plant and the brains of virtually all mammals (although in smaller amounts than in the plant specimens). The drug is manufactured by nature in vast amounts and can be found in countless plants and animals who make the drug - DMT is peppered around the globe, from Australia to the Americas, from the Acacia to the Amazonian rainforest, there is no short supply.

The DMT Dilemma can be understood as a bizarre contradiction between the brains of humans and DMT's International status as an illegal Schedule 1 drug. DMT is the only drug that is naturally produced in the brains of Humans. When someone is charged with manufacturing illegal DMT, they are charged with making an illegal schedule 1 drug. Manufacture of schedule 1 drugs carry many severe legal consequences, including imprisonment and loss of liberty.

So imagine being caught by the police "manufacturing" or synthesizing DMT using a basic knowledge of chemistry. When you are in the courtroom facing imprisonment for making this drug, it is ironically true that the prosecution is also guilty of the manufacture of a Schedule 1 drug, in the literal sense; they are making DMT too, as they prosecute you. Not only that, but the jury, the judge and everyone in the courthouse is also guilty of the same crime as the accused. Every human on Earth is a walking DMT laboratory and making the drug illegal makes a joke of drug policy and makes everyone into an illegal drug manufacturer…

Thanks, Brady. :D

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Necrocracy, Heaven and Hell.

“The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies" T. Paine.

Paine highlights for us the absurd situation many nation states find themselves in currently, under oligarchies, hereditary monarchs and the vilest of all temporal dictatorships the necrocracy. Furthermore, this quote expresses much of what one should find unsettling about religion. Specifically religious claims about a dictatorship after death.

Focusing on the real world first, the problems arising from hereditary monarchs and ruling family dictatorships should seem self-evidently problematic (hopefully). How can the offspring, next in line for the throne, of a previous dictator have any more right to rule his fellow humans than the previous owner, who also inherited the title. The answer is they have no extra right.

The worst form of all the hideously backward government’s on Earth today is the necrocracy. There is only one necrocracy and it clearly demonstrates why “governing beyond the grave” is the worst of all tyrannies. North Korea, a necrocracy, was ruled into ruin by Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994. After his death his corpse was made the eternal president of North Korea. His son, Kim Jon Il (who continued driving his country into depravity), was not the president during his reign of terror, ending in his death in 2011, nor is his son, Kim Jon Un, who rules the country today, second in command only to his dead grandfather (and maybe his dead father). The country is still “lead” by a two decade old corpse. As it turns out dead people are not perfect for running a country – unless that country is to be run into the ground, which is exactly what has happened and is tragically still happening.

Moving to the metaphysical, The Qur'an and Bible both express that there is a "kingdom" that one can go to, after one's physical death (a non-sequitur, it seems to me – as a corpse cannot be “ruled” in any demonstrable or meaningful sense). In this "kingdom" you are governed or overseen by one Entity, God. Depending on how one lived one’s life, one can expect anything from eternal torment to divine reward. Either way, the dictatorship is eternal and goes beyond the grave.

Heads the Qur'an is the perfect word of God!

Tails the Bible is the perfect word of God!

 Putting the scientific truth about the actual veracity of this “kingdom to come” to one side, one can focus on how absurd and disrespectful this proposition is to the life you are currently living. The wish to have a single unchangeable entity rule one’s existence forever has been pushing the boundaries of masochism, and servility ever since the vile idea was concocted.

Each generation should govern its own destiny, rather than an old destiny governing a new generation. One should have enough self-respect to accept that the dead must not rule the living in this life. Furthermore, after one dies, one should also be free from any eternal reign from an unalterable Deity.  

“I respect you as a person too much, to respect your ridiculous beliefs” – Johann Hari.