2/28/2011

Americanii si ACLU. O discutie interesanta de la emisiunea DoubtCast


Asculta:

Religious right commentators have referred to the ACLU as the "Anti-Christian Lawyers Union" which targets the rights of Christian citizens. Ed Brayton, author of scienceblogs.com's popular blog Dispatches From the Culture Wars joins us on the show to expose the blatant misinformation behind such accusations and to share the important contributions religious believers have made to defending liberty.

In the end, Brayton argues, we should honor those who defend freedom of expression as the true American heroes they are. Also in this episode, RD discusses possible evolutionary advantages to religiosity and the hype behind "the God gene" for another installment of God Thinks Like You.


Download mp3: http://www.doubtcast.org/podcast/rd14_in_defense_of_the_aclu.mp3

More: http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/

2/27/2011

Mostenirea genetica si religiozitatea fundamentalistilor. Un grafic interesant


Un studiu realizat in SUA pentru a explora relatia dintre factori genetici si religiozitate: Analiza


Ultimii din lista sunt fundamentalistii.

Daca tot am scris ceva despre populatia globala si suprapopulare (scenariul Idiocracy), sa vedem ce relevanta are mostenirea genetica cand vine vorba de viata religioasa.

Trageti voi concluzii. Eu sunt ingrijorat de fundamentalisti, dar imi pare bine ca ei sunt in minoritate.

Caracteristicile importante ale indivizilor ce mostenesc acest tip de bagaj este nevoia mare de ordine si frica de incertitudine. Acest caracter psihologic se aliniaza foarte usor cu religiile patriarhale fundamentaliste; din fericire, este si minoritar. Dar daca vrei sa reduci religiozitatea... acestia sunt cei doi factori la care trebuie lucrat. O societate pasnica, functionala si previzibila nu va stimula religiozitatea (vezi cazul tarilor din nordul Europei).

Despre studiu: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00425.x/abstract

2/26/2011

12 ani de indoctrinare in scoala - caricatura


Imagine din cadrul campaniei “Stop îndoctrinării religioase în şcoli” iniţiată, în 2008, de Asociaţia Umanistă Română




Imagine copiata de aici:

Încrederea în biserică scade! De ce este pozitiv acest lucru pentru democraţia şi politica din România

Despre mitul problemei cu scaderea fertilitatii


Am raspuns la articol de pe Dollo.ro




Ma bag si eu, pentru am intalnit prea des acest mit al problemei cu fertilitatea si consider ca tine de modelul patriarhal, de rasism, de crestinism, de islamism si alte chestii asemanatoare si repugnante:





"Sociologii spun că ni s-a urcat dezvoltarea asta la cap, și că de asta se duce dracului omenirea.

Sociologii sunt analisti, nu oameni de stiinta. Cei care se pronounta la nivel generic o fac cu subiectivism si filosofie personala, nu profesionalism.




"Dezvoltarea societății duce la scăderea fertilității, deși logic ar fi invers."

Duce la o reglare a populatiei. Societatile subdezvoltate nu isi pot controla populatia, asa ca sunt expusi la "triajul" natural al virusilor, secetelor si altor elemente.

Afirmatia eronata este ca e logic sa duca la o cresterea fertilitatii, aceasta fiind mai mult o observatie personala cu caracter patriarhal (cultul familiei). Cresterea copiilor, chiar si intr-o societate foarte dezvoltata, cere foarte multa investitie mentala, pasiune, timp.


Hai sa fac o comparatie mai clara pentru a sublinia dilema: ce ar fi mai comod si bine pentru tine, ca individ: sa ti acasa 1 caine/pisica sau sa ti acasa 1000 de caini/pisici?

Alegem un numar arbitrar, conform abilitatilor si pasiunilor noastre, dar in niciun caz nu e logic sa alegi optiunea "fara numar".






"Oamenii au mai multe posibilități materiale decât aveau părinții lor acum 30-40 de ani,"

Da, asta inseamna dezvoltarea societatilor pentru oameni: reducerea haousului, organizarea pe termen lung, crearea de oportunitati.







"dar în loc să le folosească pentru a perpetua specia și implicit a-și asigura viitorul"

Non-sequitur. Este destul de clar ca producerea de descendenti nu mai asigura viitorul. Asta mergea cand erau comunitatile mici, izolate, si era nevoie de muncitori. Acum s-au automatizat o gramada de treburi, iar unii oameni mai au si pensii sau ajutor social (familia = natiunea).

Nu in ultimul rand, trebuie sa mentionez faptul ca aceasta atitudine este extrem de egoista. "Hai sa facem copii ca sa-i punem la lucru, sa traim noi bine in viitor" ...






"preferă comoditatea unui trai și mai îndestulat, o mașină în plus, o casă, o vacanță."

Hedonistii naibii, nu? doar ca in lista se poate adauga, la fel de usor, si elementul de "accesorizare cu copii".






"pentru a perpetua specia"

7 miliarde de indivizi in specie; e ridicol sa afirmi ca fertilitatea e problema... specia e amenintata de razboaie nucleare sau colaps ecologic, nu de criza de fertilitate.







"Singurul lucru care pare că se dezvoltă odată cu dezvoltarea economică e egoismul."

Egoisti sunt si cei care vor sotii tinere si fertile, sa le faca prunci non-stop. Egoisti sunt si cei care vor sa-si raspandeasca "semintia" cat mai departe... defapt sunt chiar egomaniaci. Nu egoismul se dezvolta, ci asteptarile de la societate. In tarile dezvoltate, apa curata si canalizarea sunt, practic, "de-a gata", putand fi ignorate... dar in tarile sarace, accesul la apa curata si canalizare este o mare asteptare.






Dacă și părinții noștri ar fi gândit așa, nici noi nu mai ajungeam acum să ne lamentăm că nu ne convine viața pe care o avem.

Intai trebuie sa demonstrezi ca existenta este superioara non-existentei (din perspectiva nasterii, nu a executiei). Si aici e o problema, pentru ca vietuitoarele, din care facem noi parte, au un "bias" natural care trage spre a aprecia existenta mai mult. Sau cum zicea George Carlin: "Only living people care about it so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It's a self serving, man-made bullshit story."






"De prea multe ori se întâmplă, însă, să nu mai ajungi și la copil, că e prea târziu. Și o trăi ea femeia mai mult ca bărbatul, dar ovarele au o viață limitată."

In Occident, femeile isi pot pune la congelator ovule. Iar in rest, exista adoptie.






"Dar părinții noștri nu aveau la îndemână lumea largă, nici atâtea gadget-uri de încercat, nici alte tentații pe care să cheltuiască banii."

Asta doar subliniaza faptul ca "a face copii" este si o forma de "accesorizare"; produci un gadget organic, un robotel inteligent care consuma mancare, aer si apa, nu curent electric sau benzina.








"Omenirea îmbătrânește în principal din cauza scăderii fertilității. Nu e doar problema României, așa cum se tot prezintă îngust pe la TV în ultima vreme. E o problemă globală. "

Problema nu este ca imbatraneste populatia, ci ca sunt prea multi batrani. Batranetea a fost intotdeauna, dar marimea fenomenului de acum este ceva nou pe suprafata planetei. Repet: 7 miliarde de oameni, in crestere. Nu fertilitatea este problema. E o chestiune cantitativa, nu proportionala.







"Iar cel mai afectat continet, ați ghicit, e Europa"

Cel mai dezvoltat continent.


HAI sa propun o schimbare de perspectiva:

europenii, cu timpul lor liber si cu dezvoltarea lor, au produs o gramada de chestii. Acele CHESTII sunt "copiii". Toata industria, toate masinile, toti robotii, toate computerle, toate inventiile - acestea sunt produsele societatii, niste copii fara viata, dar care au acelasi rol: de a inlocui ce fac oameni in societate, fie munca, fie cultura, fie joaca...


Mi se pare foarte ingust sa consideri doar fertilitatea sexuala, fara productivitate (fertilitatea intelectuala, tehnologica, culturala etc.), cand vorbim de intregul domeniu social.







"O proiecție pentru 2050 a Organizației Națiunilor Unite pentru Populație arată că peste 40 de ani singurul continent pe care populația scade este Europa."

Ar fi misto, dar populatia va creste, foarte probabil, in urma unor valuri mari de migratie dinspre Est (cum s-a mai intamplat in istoria Europei).






"Unde rata feritilității e de 1,6 copii/o femeie, adică sub rata necesară înlocuirii populației, de 2,1 copii femeie."

De ce sa tot inlocuim? Asa se vorbeste de parca ar exista un nivel perfect de populatie in societate, ca o masinarie o cantitate fixa de parti parti, iar daca nu se inlocuiesc acele parti, masinaria nu mai functioneaza. E un argument bazat pe comparatie cu ceva imaginar, fals.






" România are 1,1 copii/femeie, pentru cine întreabă."

Ma bucur. Sper ca intr-o zi sa poporul roman sa se dizolve in populatia continentala (cum a inceput deja sa faca, prin migratie), lasand acest experiment tragic numit "Romania" sa se usuce. Suna ofensiv? Sa zicem, dar eu sunt de parere ca singurul lucru ce uneste toti romanii este limba, in rest sunt populatii foarte diferite. Nu stiu daca doar limba merita investitia in conservarea integritatii nationale, dar in orice caz emigrarea este mai atractiva.





"Deci în viitor probabil singurii oameni tineri ai lumii vor proveni din zonele sărace ale globului."

Excelent, se reimprospateaza bazinul genetic, ducand la cresterea imunitatii populatiei si la reducerea malformatiilor in nou nascuti.







" Pentru că Africa, rezervorul de copii al omenirii (datorită celei mai mari rate a fertilității, 4-5 copii/o femeie), are și un nivel de dezvoltare scăzut. Deci în viitor probabil singurii oameni tineri ai lumii vor proveni din zonele sărace ale globului. "

Fertilitatea mare este "temperata" de conditiile mizere. Copiii mor de boli, de foame, de razboaie. Daca Africa reuseste sa iasa din Evul Mediu African, va ajunge la o fertilitate mai mica: copii mai putini, dar care traiesc mai mult si se dezvolta mai bine.







"Ce fel de populație va fi aia, oare? Poate mai bună, dacă totuși dezvoltarea a demonstrat că nu e benefică perpetuării speciei?"

Conteaza? Parca era vorba de specie, nu de nationalism sau rasism.








"Îmbătrânirea populației are implicații profunde în economie, investiții, piața muncii, impozite, consum, pensii, compoziția familiei și relațiile din ea."

Modelul economic este o mostenire dintr-o perioada primitiva si trebuie renovat. In secolul 20, muncitorii au inceput sa fie inlocuiti din ce in ce mai mult de masinarii, de aparate automate. Este evident ca vor exista probleme, din moment ce locurile de munca rezervate oamenilor sunt in scadere si masinile nu cotizeaza la fondul pe pensii si nu platesc impozite pentru fondul de asigurari.

Problema nu este ca imbatraneste populatia, ci ca sistemul de ingrijire a societatii si de distributie a produselor ei nu se potriveste cu sistemul de productie. In esenta, capitalismul nu se potriveste cu industrializarea automatizata, pentru ca se devalorizeaza total munca umana, astfel ca nu pot exista venituri pentru majoritatea populatiei (raman cateva sectoare foare mici, liberale si sofisticate intelectual), lasand doar doua cai de actiune: lichidarea populatiei inutile si muritoare de foame ori asistarea populatiei respective).


HAI sa mai fac o clarificare pentru incheiere:

Dezvoltarea duce la reducerea fertilitatii, iar reducerea fertilitaiti duce la dezvoltare, atat timp cat nu e redusa la aproape 0 (evident).

In lumea dezvoltata, indivizii traiesc mai mult, putand sa contribuie mai mult la societate, prin idei, prin cultura, prin comunicare si prin munca, ducand la mai multa dezvoltare. Ce lasa in urma? multe informatii, multe limbi, multa cultura, multa stiinta, multe descoperiri, multe relatii, multe (si multa poluare... momentan ).

In lumea primitiva/saraca, indivizii traiesc putin si nu apuca sa invete, nu apuca sa contribuie la cultura, la stiinta, nu apuca sa cunoasca multi alti oameni, nu apuca sa-si vada nepotii (in mare masura), ci apuca doar sa se reproduca, poate sa lupte pentru o cauza si sa invete niste ideologii simpliste si primitive oferite de autoritati, fie ele religioase sau despotice. Ce lasa in urma? Copii multi, ceva produse de baza facute din munca primitiva ( constructii, agricultura ) si poate niste cadavre. Produsele lor sunt o contributie mica, iar copiii sunt blocati in acelasi sablon.

Problema in Yemen...






Pana nu scapa de indobitocirea religioasa, ciclul de dictaturi, revolte si coruptie va continua...

Vreau sa vad niste poze cu protestatari ce tin in mana Declaratia Universala a Drepturilor Omului! http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

Cristofascism: Sfanta tinerete legionara


2/25/2011

"De ce scade increderea in Biserica?"... De ce nu?


Am lasat un mic comentariu la articolul De ce scade încrederea în Biserică?



BOR s-a imbatat cu putere si acum se plimba prin public ca un barbat mare, gras si agresiv, lipsit complet de civilitate si palmuind si scuipand trecatorii care reactioneaza cu indignare la acest comportament anti-social.


Ultimii ani de activitati ale BOR arata dorinta lor pentru intoarcere in feudalism, la proprietatile vechi, la puterea veche, la ordinea veche. E destul ca romanii sa realizeazeze ce a insemnat feudalismul pe teritoriile romanesti, chiar si relativ la restul Europei, ... si atunci Catedrala Mantuirii / Miturii Neamului va deveni mausoleul BOR, ca piramidele faraonilor egipteni.


2/24/2011

Robert Sapolsky: sunt oamenii doar niste primate?


Despre diferente si asemanari dintre oameni si alte specii (mai ales primate). O prezentare educationala si foarte interesanta.




Alta versiune:

2/23/2011

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, despre conflicte de valori, multiculturalism si conversiuni




O lectura interesanta cu intrebari interesante la final.

Imi place de Ayaan Hirsi Ali si am mult respect pentru ce face ea, dar ma dezamageste faptul ca nu a studiat destul crestinismul cat sa realizeze ce eroare oribila s-ar face. La un moment dat, chiar zice ca islamistii ar trebui convertiti la crestinsm, facand o presupunere foarte naiva ca ar fi mai docili asa si mai usor de domesticit...

De asemenea, mai face o eroare cand zice, referindu-se la musulmani, ca "nu vor sa fie atei, asa ca trebuie sa le oferim altceva in schimb". Eroarea este in presupunerea ca exista credinciosi care vor sa fie atei... cand nu exista; credinciosii sunt conditionati sa fie creduli, naivi, religiosi si sa puna pret pe credinta fara indoiala, nu pe gandire critica si pe cautarea de adevar. Sunt de acord cu ea ca trebuie redusa pasivitatea si e nevoie de campanie de "convertire", dar NU convertire la crestinism. Exista multa alte religii mai putin toxice... poate chiar rastafariansim sau chiar pastafarianism.

Leul romanesc. Intrebare.


De ce au acceptat crestinii din Romania ca moneda nationala sa se numeasca "leu"?

Au o forma de majoritate, au destula istorie in fundal... dar "leul"? Moneda nationala e un "leu"? Chiar au uitat relatia dintre crestini si lei in trecut, in leaganul religiiei lor, Imperiul Roman?



E destul de ironic.

Cand femeile pot alege, infractionalitatea scade pe termen lung



Pe scurt:


Premisa 1:

Copiii tratati rau de parinti, mai ales de mame, ajung mai anti-sociali, mai infractori, in tinerete.


Premisa 2:

Ilegalizarea avortului duce la copii nedoriti ce cresc, evident, in mediu ostil, unde maltratarea e comuna.


Concluzia:

Interzicerea avortului creste infractionalitatea, efect cu intarziere de aproximativ 15 ani.


Reciproca:

Legalizarea avortului si asigurarea de servicii accesibile si usoare in acest sens duce la o scadere de a infractionalitatii.



-----

Nu tine doar de religie, ci de mentalitatea patriarhala, intalnita in regimurile dictatoriale de orice culoare.

2/22/2011

Editorial dragut in Catavencu


Daţi un leu pentru Dumnezeu

Spus clar, dens si pe scurt...

Despre Iran, teocratie si miscarea democratica




"Iran, the Green Movement and the USA": Hamid Dabashi On the Future of the Iranian Pro-Democracy Movement


Iranian protesters returned to the streets on Sunday to mark the deaths of two men killed during demonstrations last week. Police used batons and tear gas to break up the protests. Among those detained were Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. “On one hand, the Iranian authorities are expressing solidarity with the democratic movement in Tunisia and Egypt and throughout the region," says Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi. "Then deny that very principle to their own people."


Transcriere:

AMY GOODMAN: To discuss the situation in Iran and the region, we have with us Professor Hamid Dabashi from Columbia University. His most recent book is "Iran, the Green Movement and the USA". Also he has written the book Shiism. We welcome you to "Democracy Now!"

HAMID DABASHI: Thanks for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Its great to have you. Tell us what is happening. What do you understand took place in Iran over the weekend?

HAMID DABASHI: I think beginning with the 14th of February in solidarity with the revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt, we’ve entered a new phase of the green movement. Green Movement went through at least two phases. The first phase was phase of mass street demonstrations that began back in June of 2009 and continued all the way until February 2010. The second phase, when Mousavi began to write a series documents culminating in a charter of the Green Movement which are extraordinary documents in the history of democratic movements in Iran. But in the aftermath of this massive, massive democracy movement in North Africa to Afghanistan, in fact, these events galvanized the Green Movement in Iran. And as a result, we have entered a new phase. There are two aspects to be noticed in this new phase. Number one, the Green Movement has initiated its own calendar that is the 14th of February coincides with nothing, that is simply in solidarity with the revolutions in Tunisia and Cairo, in Egypt. And in the course of which two young demonstrators were killed by security forces, their corpses were stolen, their identities were falsified. And they were pretended to be part of the Basij organization.

On the seventh day anniversary of the death of these two young demonstrators, again the Green Movement called for a demonstration, but this time around, because the entirety of the major highways and streets and major squares of the cities were occupied by the military, by in fact the entire country was turned into a garrison, the demonstrators opted to do their work in a specific neighborhood. And also remember, the galvanizing force of Al Jazeera in the case of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Al Jazeera does not have that kind of presence in Iran. As a result, what the kids were doing, they would gather in a specific neighborhood and their mobile phones, they shot 30 seconds to a minute and a half minute of video of demonstrations and sent it to YouTube, and as a result asserted their presence.

AMY GOODMAN: And the response of the Iranian government?

HAMID DABASHI: The response has been not only massively, massive cracking down, but also hypocrisy. Because on one hand, the Iranian authorities are expressing solidarity with the democratic movement in Tunisia and Egypt and throughout the region, and then they denied that very principle to their own people. So with one move, the Green Movement has in fact achieved two ends. It reasserted itself in public space and forced the empty hand of the Islamic republic in terms of its rhetoric for democratic changes in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a book about the Green Revolution. The whole Green Movement. But you thought it was dead in the last year.

HAMID DABASHI: I never thought it was dead. I thought it was a standstill. Because what we have is the power of Islamic Republic in the region, not because of how smart they are, but because of the horrors of the Bush administration and war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq. And as a result, the Islamic republic had emerged as a very powerful broker, peace broker. President Obama could do nothing in Afghanistan without the help of the Islamic Republic. The same in Iraq. So while Islamic Republic was very weak weak domestically inside Iran, and whatever it did it strengthened the Green Movement in the region, it was in a negotiating position if President Obama wanted to deliver on his promise to come out of Iraq, it needed the support of the Islamic Republic, particularly with the Shiite community in the south. That stand still has now changed to the benefit of the green movement because of the democratic uprising in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: And on the one hand, you had the President Ahmadinejad congratulating the protesters in Egypt and in cracking down on his own.

HAMID DABASHI: Of course. That is the hypocrisy of it. The minute the Egyptian revolution was happening, Mr. Khamenei sent a message to Egyptians in Arabic congratulating them for the revolution there were about to have. Within minutes, the Muslim Brotherhood issued in a statement this is not an Islamic revolution this is an Egyptian revolution, for Egyptians Muslims, Christians and any other person, so the rise of democratic revolutions in the region is is exposing the hypocrisy of the Islamic Republic.

AMY GOODMAN: Benjamin Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister accused Iran of exploiting the current political unrest in the Arab world, highlighting his government’s concern over planned to send two Iranian warships into the eastern Mediterranean, talk about that.

HAMID DABASHI: First of all, it is not unrest Mr. Netanyahu should recognize this is a democracy movement, this is a massive revolutionary uprising for democracy. Mr. Netanyahu is used to dealing with Arab dictators, so when he sees democratic uprising, he calls it unrest. Number two, in my judgment, those were very wary of what is happening in the Arab and Muslim world are the United States, Isreal, and the Islamic Republic. Because they have entered into old tiring politics of dispair, and they cannot tolerate the rise of democratic movements in the region. The sending of two warships through the Suez Canal...

AMY GOODMAN: ...First time since 1979...

HAMID DABASHI: ..Since 1979, is an attempt by Islamic Republic to divert attention from the democratic movement both inside Iran and in the region. And lo and behold, Israel that doesn’t like the democratic movement either and calls them unrest, response immediately. I would put that exactly next to Obama’s administration’s obscene vetoing of this UN Security Council draft resolution against expansion of settlements in Palestine. Precisely because these three acts of the Islamic Republic, Israel continuing expansion into Palestine and the United States, they are trying to pull back the politics of the region into the politics of despair because what they’re witnessing they don’t like.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dabashi, you have a very quick response on the part of the United States against the Iranian government for cracking down on the protesters. President Obama, Secretary State Hillary Clinton, not as quick response when Bahrain attacked the protesters there, the home of U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, though eventually Obama did call. Talk about that.

HAMID DABASHI: Its hypocrisy.

AMY GOODMAN: And Libya as well.

HAMID DABASHI: It is absolute hypocrisy Amy. In fact every time American administrations, neo-conservatives, even President Obama’s administration comes near the Green Movement supporting it and so forth, it discredits it. And the Green Movement has actually restored its dignity by coming close to Egyptian and Tunisian revolution. So the best thing the Obama administration can do for the Green Movement, please, don’t come near it. The hypocrisy is so palpable, the young Tunisian who set themselves on fire in desperation because of this neoliberal economics that Ben Ali was known for, the State Department even did not know, let alone express solidarity with the Tunisian people. President Obama did not come to even address the issues of the masses of millions of Egyptians in Tahrir Square until Mubarak was about to leave. The hypocrisy is what is exposed here. And as a result, the best thing that Mr. Obama and Secretary Clinton can do for the green movement, don’t come close to it. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your latest book that’s just come out is on Shiism.What role does Shiism play in what is being called this Arab spring?

HAMID DABASHI: Shiism, the way I read it, is a religion of protest and it never belongs to people who are in power. The Islamic republic came to power back in 1979 by banking on the revolution in the aspect of Shiism, but it is a paradox within Shiism that as soon as it is in power it loses legitimacy. And that legitimacy is now cast into people, young people in the streets, fighting against the Islamic Republic. I don’t see what is happening in the region as Sunni-Shiia bifurcation at all. In fact I see it as the retrieval of a cosmopolitan political culture that includes Islam, Sunnism and Shiism both but is not really similar to it.

AMY GOODMAN: What do think is gonna happen in Iran right now? I mean, this was not predicted, of course.

HAMID DABASHI: As I have always said Amy, anything that the Islamic Republic does will strengthen the green movement is a paradox. If it cracks down, it will be strengthened. If it allows it to unfold, it will strengthen it. Right now as of yesterday, Mousavi is not only under house arrest. In fact they have just built a metal gate in the cul de sac that leads to his house. And with that…..

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who he is.

HAMID DABASHI: Mr. Mousavi was the eight-year Prime Minister under Homeni during the Iran-Iraq war. A very, one of the founding members of the Islamic republic. And then after those eight years, he went into seclusion. He’s a painter, he’s very much interested in art and so forth. His wife had more of a public role as [unintelligble] the chancellor of the university. And then during the last presidential election in 2009 he re-entered politics with a very clear message that this revolution has gone wrong and we need to retrieve its ideals and aspirations. And there is a sizable Iranians who believe he actually won the election but the election was rigged and in the aftermath of that, we have the rise of the Green Movement. His incarceration, first of all before that there were chants of death for Mousavi and, Karroubi, from the parliament of the Islamic Republic. The most clear indication of the implosion of the Islamic Republic from within where you have eight year Prime Minister and eight-year President and former Speaker of the House, you’re asking for their heads and not in the streets but…..

AMY GOODMAN: in the parliament

HAMID DABASHI:In the parliament itself.

AMY GOODMAN: They were chanting.

HAMID DABASHI:The most visible indication of the collapse, internal implosion of the Islamic Republic. But now they have even gone further and put him under house arrest but putting him under house arrest means that with that very act, the Iranian Mendela is now born. Because leading uprisings, leading revolutions from inside prison is the best thing that can happen to a political leader.

AMY GOODMAN: And Karroubi?

HAMID DABASHI: Karroubi is very much sort of hand in hand with Mousavi. They have been coordinating, as much as coordination is possible between two people in house arrest. He has his own constituency and has been very valiant, courageous, both of them extraordinarily courageous under the circumstances. But the nature of the leadership of the Green Movement, Amy, is not contingent on one person. It is a rolling kind of leadership that can be inside Iran, outside Iran. Young people in the streets, the new media YouTube etc., that is where the revolution is headed; because of demography and economics, two factors that are leading the uprising.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday Iranian authorities briefly detained the daughter of the former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the most powerful opposition supporter inside the country’s clerical leadership. Faezeh Hashemi, she was born in 1962. Talk about her and her father.

HAMID DABASHI: I think the sins of the parents should not be extended to their children. Hashemi Rafsanjani, as a political operator in my judgment has lost credibility in this movement. He plays too much on both sides. But, that does not extend to his children, particularly for Faezeh Hashemi, his daughter who has always been an activist of women’s rights, human rights, democratic rights in the streets. And as of course she came out and said, that I was just out shopping and had nothing to do with it. But the fact the matter is that there is a sizable constituency particularly among women who look up to her.

AMY GOODMAN: And they said that she was protesting in the streets according to the IRNA news agency.

HAMID DABASHI: Exactly, exactly, exactly

AMY GOODMAN: Overall media coverage?

HAMID DABASHI: Media coverage. Nowhere near what “Al-Jazeera” did for Egypt or in fact doing for North Africa. Partially because there is no presence of global media, CNN, and so forth. [Unintelligble] was covering it from Pakistan. But I also believe this is the age of new media and smaller scale media; your own work and other similar smaller scale networks that have a global reach because of the Internet. And also the fact is that these young people, 80% of the Iran population is under the age of 40, 70% under the age of 35; they are in charge of representing themselves by virtue of this, your know, mobile phone that they carry. They feed the YouTube, they are on Facebooks. They generate the sustained pressure not only in cyberspace, but in physical space and as a result, they are the ones that had informed the global media. That is where they get their ideas. The combination of new media and globalized media is the best thing that can happen. But as I said they have had to change their strategy, how to mobilize in the streets, in the absence of globalized media.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dabashi, Wikileaks. The trove of U.S. government cables that have come out. What have they revealed about the U.S. relationship with Iran?

HAMID DABASHI: This has been generated through most of the Wikileaks. Not much that we did not know. The fact that United States and Iran have common strategic interest in the region in the Persian Gulf area in Afghanistan, in Iraq is something that we have known forever. The fact that some of the Persian Gulf area potentates, they don’t like the rising power military and diplomatic power of Islamic Republic is also something that we have known. So altogether, I think the ability of the people, the democratic will of the people to generate and sustain information and globalize it is far more important than secret wheelings and dealings between the powers that be.

AMY GOODMAN: How long is Ahmadinejad’s term?

HAMID DABASHI: Four years. He is now two years into his second term.

AMY GOODMAN: Where do you predict this movement, now in the streets could go?

HAMID DABASHI: I think the crisis of the Islamic Republic, the burning need of Islamic Republic faces, at they face is not just who is going to be the next president. We have the globalized discrediting of the Islamic Republic, which now it faces, number one. Number two, the democratic uprising in North Africa has exposed the hypocrisy of the Islamic Republic. So, of course the Islamic Republic for 32 years has managed to stay in power precisely by using and abusing the crisis that comes its way. It’s for the first time in its 32-years that it is facing domestic and regional crisis that it cannot manage. So as a result, every day the brutal theocratic garrison state that it is, becomes more exposed.

HAMID DABASHI: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, professor Hamid Dabashi, is the Hagop Kevorkian professor of Iranian Studies and comparative literature, Columbia University. Among his books, "Iran, the Green Movement and the USA” and his latest is called “Shiism”.

2/21/2011

Saga lui Biorn. Despre paradis(uri)


Raiul unora este iadul altora...

Bachelor film project 2011 from The Animation Workshop.



Story

Biôrn, an old Viking, is determined to reach Valhalla, the warrior's afterlife full of excessive drinking and debauchery. To gain entry he has to die honorably in battle, but he discovers that the right death isn't so easy.



Credits

A film by: Benjamin J. Kousholt, Daniel D. Christensen, Mads Lundgaard Christensen, Jesper A. Jensen, Jonas K. Doctor, Steffen Lyhne, Pernille Ørum-Nielsen, Frederik Bjerre-Poulsen, Jonas Georgakakis

2/20/2011

Niste africani credinciosi ard "vrajitoare" - VIDEO.
[ Atentie, contine imagini necenzurate ]




Asa arata o societate in care crestinismul este liber sa domine.

DESPRE CLIP: http://www.bestgore.com/execution/five-people-witchcraft-suspects-slowly-burned-alive-in-kenya/

Lectura. Richard Dawkins: de ce Evolutia depaseste Creationismul


O lectura in care vorbeste despre cartile sale si raspunde la multe intrebari din public intr-o atmosfera destul de relaxata.

2/19/2011

Jack Miles: despre Obama, razboaie, politica internationala




Realism...

2/17/2011

Taloane sfinte






Micile bucati de hartie coloarata sfintita sunt ca orice alt talon lipit pe parbriz - o taxa de protectie pentru o birocratie mai mult sau mai putin imaginara.

Madrassele islamice din UK invata copiii cum sa fie sovini fata de non-musulmani




Urat. Asta se intampla in Marea Britanie, nu Afganistan.

Dispatches goes undercover to investigate allegations that teachers regularly assault young children in some of the 2,000 Muslim schools in Britain run by Islamic organisations.

The programme also follows up allegations that, behind closed doors, some Muslim secondary schools teach a message of hatred and intolerance.

2/16/2011

BOR isi arata moaca de dictator senil


Titlul de la sursa

Patriarhia Romana: Denigrarea predarii religiei in scoala afecteaza grav fondul sufletesc al copiilor



(citatele sunt cele de culoare albastrie, cu stil Comic Sans)

Interventia denigratoare la adresa religiei in scoala, prin promovarea de sloganuri si conceptii insuficient sustinute pe fapte reale, este o agresiune inacceptabila, care afecteaza fondul sufletesc al persoanelor aflate in procesul educativ, se afirma intr-un comunicat de marti al Patriarhiei Romane, citat de Agerpres.

Traducere: am creat o problema imaginara - "sufletele si murdarirerea lor cu pacate" - iar noi suntem singurii care avem solutia, tot imaginara - "educatia crestina ortodoxa ce va apara sufletele de pacate".

Aceasta tactica trebuie subliniata si evidentiata, pentru ca este esentiala fraudei sociale comise de BOR.




Potrivit sursei citate, predarea in scoli a religiei se face pe o baza teoretica si la nivel general, ea urmarind formarea sau educatia spirituala a elevului, .

"O baza teoretica" - evident, doar nu au dovezi pentru povestilor lor fantastice.

"nivel general" - TEOLOGIE CRESTIN ORTODOXA la nivel general. Nu istoria religiilor la nivel general.

"formarea sau educatia spirituala a elevului" - ......... ÎNDOCTRINÁ, îndoctrinez, vb. I. Tranz. A iniția într-o doctrină, a înarma cu o doctrină.




iar aceasta se face in conformitate cu Constitutia Romaniei si cu Legea educatiei nationale

Mari smecheri popii astia. Legea educatiei nationale este un produs legislativ secundar, nu e pe acelasi nivel cu Constitutia. Dar o sa las pe cei de la ASUR sa explice mai bine - DOWNLOAD .DOC.






"Asa cum geografia ofera cunoasterea configuratiei spatiale a Pamantului, esentiala pentru cunoasterea patriei si planetei, iar istoria ofera cunoasterea succesiunii temporale a generatiilor umane, religia ofera perspectiva comuniunii eterne de iubire intre Dumnezeu si oameni, intre Creator si creaturi, intre persoane si intre popoare.


Cine zicea ca stiinta NU este in conflict cu religia? Aici se vede clar conflictul. Popii afirma ca religia-crestin-ortodoxa este o stiinta, ca altele ce se predau in scoli. Nici macar nu e vorba de o istorie a religiilor, ci doar de teologie crestin ortodoxa.

Frauda din argumentul lor se bazeaza pe asumarea implicita a validitatii crestinismului ortodox, un non-sequitur camuflat.





Drept urmare, a afirma ca studiul religiei in scoala este o indoctrinare, dovedeste faptul ca viziunea clar anti-religioasa pe care o ofera ASUR nu este nicidecum integrativa, ci una exclusivista", mentioneaza documentul citat.

Da, este indoctrinare, iar Teologia trebuie exclusa din curicula scolilor de stat, cum cere Constitutia Romaniei, i.e. legea fundamentala a tarii.

Aici popii abuzeaza de cuvinte din vocabularul politic modern... "exclusivism", "integrativa", doar pentru a da impresia ca BOR-ul reprezinta partea civila, liberala, decenta si asumand, eronat, din nou, ca nu exista minoritati religioase (ce sunt excluse, in realitate, din sistemul dominant de BOR).





Biserica Ortodoxa Romana (BOR), prin predarea religiei in scoala, propune modele viabile de bunatate si sfintenie

...Da' pă Dracu..!

(asa se zice la noi prin Ardeal cand dorim sa exprimam incredulitate fata de o afirmatie)


Sfintenia se preda la teologie, iar bunatatea este discutabila si se preda mai bine la ora de filosofie. Modelele crestine de bunatate sunt extrem de discutabile, in cel mai bun caz. Pana si marele erou de basm, Isus, are o niste trasaturi anti-sociale si chiar sociopate extrem de grave.

Cine ia in serios afirmatia BORunzilor nu a citit Biblia cu atentie.








oferind tinerilor repere in viata de familie si in viata sociala

Toate bibliile abrahamice sunt PLINE de exemple de familie nebuna, nu discfunctionala, ci nebuna. De la marele tata din nori, care-si abandoneaza copiii sau ii omoara in randuri repetate, aproape pe toti, pana la nenumaratele cazuri de incest, sacrificii, ucideri in toate directiile, abandonuri, blesteme si alte cacaturi total anti-familie.

Indoctrinarea crestin-ortodoxa nu promoveaza valori pozitive, ci OBEDIENTA fate de autoritatea suprema, atat. Aceasta nu este o valoare, ci e fundamentul totalitarismului si sclaviei.







"educatia religioasa reprezinta un factor de stabilitate si de comuniune in societatea romaneasca"

Da, stabilitate, la fel cum oamenii pot fi stabil infundati intr-o mlastina plina cu cacat sau stabil inghetati in permafrost; stabili ca vacile scufundate in mocirla. STABILITATE.







'dezvoltarea unor obsesii legate de moarte, de pacat, de iad, tulburari de somn sau de nutritie, instrainare de prieteni'

Asta invata copiii inca din clasa I. Terorismul crestin! Bau-bau-ul cu diavol si iad. Popii astia mint cu asa nerusinare incat politicienii de la putere par cetateni onesti pe langa ei.






"BOR apara si promoveaza identitatea spirituala

BRANDING. Indoctrinare.





si demnitatea persoanei care traieste astazi intr-o lume din ce in ce mai pluralista, confuza si individualista din punct de vedere spiritual si social

A, deci cine incurajeaza exclusivism aici? BORunzii!






unde prinde tot mai mult contur un model degenerativ de viata in care sunt la moda: minciuna, hotia, coruptia, inselaciunea, tradarea, vulgaritatea, pornografia, violenta de toate tipurile etc. Toate acestea, insa, reprezinta negarea valorilor crestine traditionale".




Aceasta bucata densa de minciuni ascunde dorinta fundamentala a BOR-ului:

intoarcerea la feudalism, la robie, la sclavie, unde ei au puterea suprema si nelimitata pentru a afecta vietile oamenilor pana in cele mai mici detalii. Big Brother Beta, varianta non-tehnologica.

Valori crestine fixe oricum nu exista; dogma crestina contine atatea contradictii, incat viermii din sutane pot alege orice-si doresc de acolo pentru a face un colaj de "valori" personalizate pe gustul lor. Dovada e evidenta, popii fiind printre cei mai spectaculosi degenerati de pe planeta, in special pentru ca comit exact actele pe care le denunta.






profund anti-BOR arata ca ASUR promoveaza un umanism antireligios si se face astfel continuatoarea procesului de ateizare 'prin informare'

Nu are legatura cu ASUR... ASUR doar reprezinta o pozitie a unei minoritati de romani lucizi si seriosi.

Cat despre "ateizare prin informare", cam asa se intampla. Ateii desavarsiti intelectual sunt foarte bine informati. Informarea, sau mai exact - adevarul, este o valoare principala pentru atei.







pe care comunismul l-a propus Romaniei, timp de 45 de ani, cu roadele dureroase pe care le resimtim si acum".

Nu are nicio legatura cu comunismul, informatia adevarata este independenta de orice ideologie, de orice set de opinii.

Ca fapt divers, BOR a fost biserica regimului ceausist, beneficiind de monopol religios si servind serviciile cu informatii... ca spovedania e prea buna sa fie ignoranta de securisti. Vizionati acest clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MYlxop8PZw







"De fapt, sub pretextul promovarii umanismului, ASUR militeaza pentru eliminarea religiei din cultura copilului, nu doar pentru alternarea informatiei.

Daca parintii vor sa aiba copil religios, sa-l trimita la scoala duminicala privata sau sa-i dea de citit carti de religie. Sau sa le faca home-schooling la copii, asumandu-si riscurile cu care vine asta. Scolile de stat trebuie sa respecte Constitutia Romaniei.








Niciunul dintre demersurile ASUR nu inspira convingerea ca, in cazul in care copilul ar vrea sa fie educat religios, iar familia s-ar opune, ASUR e gata sa militeze pentru acest drept al copilului!"

Ce argument "straw-man" dragut. Nici nu ma obosesc sa-l desfac.








Potrivit sursei citate, atunci cand insinueaza ca Biserica sustine adevarul in contrast cu stiinta, "textul ASUR este vadit anti-crestin, de factura umanist-ateista".


Si daca ar fi asa, care ar fi problema? Se cere doar RESPECTAREA LEGILOR care exista deja.








"Anii grei ai dictaturii comuniste, cu ateismul ei zis "stiintific" si impus in scolile de stat, contrar vointei unui popor religios, ne-au invatat sa nu mai dorim cultura fara credinta, stiinta fara spiritualitate, materie fara spirit, cunoastere fara comuniune, filosofie fara speranta si, indeosebi, scoala fara suflet, adica educatie fara religie, mai ales la varsta intrebarilor existentiale si a formarii spirituale a tinerilor", se arata in precizarea Patriarhiei Romane la campania 'Stop indoctrinarii religioase in scoli', lansata de ASUR.

V-au invatat prost! Defapt nu e surprinzator ca niste persoane care cred in basme vechi de mii de ani invata mai greu...

2/15/2011

Biorezonanta - cum arata un afis plin de minciuni





Testeaza-ti sanatatea in doar 20 de minute.
Prediagnosticare completa cu un aparat performant.
O consultatie - 100 lei.


Ce rost mai au aparatele de sute de mii de euro pe care incearca sa le obtina clinicile pentru a putea obtine informarii din oameni fara sa-i desfaca?


Aflati factorii de risc la care e predispus organismul dumneavoastra!


Nu incercati sa intelegeti logic, ideea e doar sa existe niste cuvinte cheie intr-o propozitie: risc, organism, predispus


Cel mai mult ma amuza pozele pe care le folosesc in software. Pe ecran, apar bulinute colorate pe niste poze de atlas anatomic (cam ce se vede prin manualele de liceu), iar in functie de cum se schimba bulinutele pe o arie determinata de 2 axe (nu 3, ca omul e ...2D) se calculeaza diagnosticul... ca un scanner din filme S.F..

Am fost martor la acest tip de "masuratori" si am observat ca se folosesc casti audio obisnuite, Phillips in cazul respectiv, care se pun pe urechi (evident, urechile seamana cu prize)... si cand am intrebar "operatorul" de ce sunt casti audio Phillips, a zis ca nu sunt casti normale, ci "modificate", desi pareau integrale, sigilate, folosind inclusiv cablul din fabricatie, mufa din fabricatie si intrarile analogice "jack".

Mi-a fost jena sa mai intreb daca are impresia ca buretii de pe difuzoare ori scheletul de plastic al castilor este folosit in circuit, ca electrod.

Preotul Fotescu vs Toma Pătrașcu de la ASUR [TVR]


Incercati sa respirati inainte, sa va calmati. Va vorbi un preot si va utiliza argumente deformate sau eronate.



P.S. preotul incepe sa vorbeasca mentionand "burta". Observati ce slab e... atat de stereotipic.

PPS. sunt usor dezamagit de domnul de la ASUR; poate nu e integrala discutia, dar nu am vazut nici argumentul constitutionalitatii si observatia cu spitalele :(

Colbert on revolution in Egypt, Beck's conspiracy theory, Occams Razor and O'Reilley




Colbert dezumfla rapid teoriile faimosului mormon Glenn Beck, folosind Briciul lui Occam.

2/14/2011

Video. Joseph Stiglitz: Cine a scufundat economia globala si problema mea cu religia "free market"


Problema mea cu religia "free market" este ca e o religie, un cult, care se lupta cu realitatea, ca multe alte culte. Las pe Joseph Stiglitz sa faca observatiile si argumentele privind religia free market si cum a produs criza financiara globala. Recomand sa ascultati pana la capat, pentru ca si intrebarile sunt bune.



Daca sunteti neinitiati economic, nu va temeti, limbajul folosit este destul de general, iar discursul e clar si incet.

Family Guy on AA and religion




ALT LINK: http://yfrog.com/6xuyoz

Design comun fara designer comun




Intelligent Design is built on two pillars: Irreducible Complexity, and Design. I have previously shown that evolution predicts the IC systems will evolve. Here I disprove the concept of design.

Is life designed? Actually, yes. But the designer is not an intelligent supernatural being, life is sculpted by the environment through natural selection. Mother Nature and Father Time are the designers of life.

2/12/2011

Fat Boy Slim - Right Here, Right Now. Evolution of man, with a great beat.




Nu e un "documentar", dar merge.

Douglas Adams - un discurs stiintific-filosofic pe subiectul religiei si ateismului


Stiu ca e lung, dar merita. Eu am ascultat versiunea recitata de browserul meu, Opera, prin functia "voice", in timp ce jucam Broodwar :)


Is there an Artificial God?



In honour of Douglas' memory, Biota.org presents the transcript of his speech at Digital Biota 2, held at Magdelene College Cambridge, in September 1998. I would like to thank Steve Grand for providing this to us. Douglas presented this ''off the cuff'' which only magnifies his true genius in our eyes. -- Bruce Damer



This was originally billed as a debate only because I was a bit anxious coming here. I didn't think I was going to have time to prepare anything and also, in a room full of such luminaries, I thought 'what could I, as an amateur, possibly have to say'? So I thought I would settle for a debate. But after having been here for a couple of days, I realised you're just a bunch of guys! It's been rife with ideas and I've had so many myself through talking with and listening to people that I'd thought what I'd do was stand up and have an argument and debate with myself. I'll talk for a while and hope sufficiently to provoke and inflame opinion that there'll be an outburst of chair- throwing at the end.

Before I embark on what I want to try and tackle, may I warn you that things may get a little bit lost from time to time, because there's a lot of stuff that's just come in from what we've been hearing today, so if I occasionally sort of go… I was telling somebody earlier today that I have a four-year-old daughter and was very, very interested watching her face when she was in her first 2 or 3 weeks of life and suddenly realising what nobody would have realised in previous ages - she was rebooting!

I just want to mention one thing, which is completely meaningless, but I am terribly proud of - I was born in Cambridge in 1952 and my initials are D N A!

The topic I want to introduce to you this evening, the subject of the debate that we are about to sort of not have, is a slightly facetious one (you'll be surprised to hear, but we'll see where we go with it) - ''Is there an Artificial God?'' I'm sure most of the people in this room will share the same view, but even as an out-and-out atheist one can't help noticing that the role of a god has had an enormously profound impact on human history over many, many centuries. It's very interesting to figure out where this came from and what, in the modern scientific world we sometimes hope against hope that we live in, it actually means.

I was thinking about this earlier today when Larry Yaeger was talking about 'what is life?' and mentioned at the end something I didn't know, about a special field of handwriting recognition. The following strange thought went through my mind: that trying to figure out what is life and what isn't and where the boundary is has an interesting relationship with how you recognise handwriting. We all know, when presented with any particular entity, whether it's a bit of mould from the fridge or whatever; we instinctively know when something is an example of life and when it isn't. But it turns out to be tremendously hard exactly to define it. I remember once, a long time ago, needing a definition of life for a speech I was giving. Assuming there was a simple one and looking around the Internet, I was astonished at how diverse the definitions were and how very, very detailed each one had to be in order to include 'this' but not include 'that'. If you think about it, a collection that includes a fruit fly and Richard Dawkins and the Great Barrier Reef is an awkward set of objects to try and compare. When we try and figure out what the rules are that we are looking for, trying to find a rule that's self-evidently true, that turns out to be very, very hard.

Compare this with the business of recognising whether something is an A or a B or a C. It's a similar kind of process, but it's also a very, very different process, because you may say of something that you're 'not quite certain whether it counts as life or not life, it's kind of there on the edge isn't it, it's probably a very low example of what you might call life, it's maybe just about alive or maybe it isn't'. Or maybe you might say about something that's an example of Digital life, 'does that count as being alive?' Is it something, to coin someone's earlier phrase, that'll go squish if you step on it? Think about the controversial Gaia hypothesis; people say 'is the planet alive?', 'is the ecosphere alive or not?' In the end it depends on how you define such things.

Compare that with handwriting recognition. In the end you are trying to say “is this an A or is it a B?” People write As and Bs in many different ways; floridly, sloppily or whatever. It's no good saying 'well, it's sort of A-ish but there's a bit of B in there', because you can't write the word 'apple' with such a thing. It is either an A or a B. How do you judge? If you're doing handwriting recognition, what you are trying to do is not to assess the relative degrees of A-ness or B-ness of the letter, but trying to define the intention of the person who wrote it. It's very clear in the end - is it an A or a B? - ah! it's an A, because the person writing it was writing the word apple and that's clearly what it means. So, in the end, in the absence of an intentional creator, you cannot say what life is, because it simply depends on what set of definitions you include in your overall definition. Without a god, life is only a matter of opinion.

I want to pick up on a few other things that came around today. I was fascinated by Larry (again), talking about tautology, because there's an argument that I remember being stumped by once, to which I couldn't come up with a reply, because I was so puzzled by the challenge and couldn't quite figure it out. A guy said to me, 'yes, but the whole theory of evolution is based on a tautology: that which survives, survives' This is tautological, therefore it doesn't mean anything. I thought about that for a while and it finally occurred to me that a tautology is something that if it means nothing, not only that no information has gone into it but that no consequence has come out of it. So, we may have accidentally stumbled upon the ultimate answer; it's the only thing, the only force, arguably the most powerful of which we are aware, which requires no other input, no other support from any other place, is self evident, hence tautological, but nevertheless astonishingly powerful in its effects. It's hard to find anything that corresponds to that and I therefore put it at the beginning of one of my books. I reduced it to what I thought were the bare essentials, which are very similar to the ones you came up with earlier, which were “anything that happens happens, anything that in happening causes something else to happen causes something else to happen and anything that in happening causes itself to happen again, happens again”. In fact you don't even need the second two because they flow from the first one, which is self-evident and there's nothing else you need to say; everything else flows from that. So, I think we have in our grasp here a fundamental, ultimate truth, against which there is no gain-saying. It was spotted by the guy who said this is a tautology. Yes, it is, but it's a unique tautology in that it requires no information to go in but an infinite amount of information comes out of it. So I think that it is arguably therefore the prime cause of everything in the Universe. Big claim, but I feel I'm talking to a sympathetic audience.

Where does the idea of God come from? Well, I think we have a very skewed point of view on an awful lot of things, but let's try and see where our point of view comes from. Imagine early man. Early man is, like everything else, an evolved creature and he finds himself in a world that he's begun to take a little charge of; he's begun to be a tool-maker, a changer of his environment with the tools that he's made and he makes tools, when he does, in order to make changes in his environment. To give an example of the way man operates compared to other animals, consider speciation, which, as we know, tends to occur when a small group of animals gets separated from the rest of the herd by some geological upheaval, population pressure, food shortage or whatever and finds itself in a new environment with maybe something different going on. Take a very simple example; maybe a bunch of animals suddenly finds itself in a place where the weather is rather colder. We know that in a few generations those genes which favour a thicker coat will have come to the fore and we'll come and we'll find that the animals have now got thicker coats. Early man, who's a tool maker, doesn't have to do this: he can inhabit an extraordinarily wide range of habitats on earth, from tundra to the Gobi Desert - he even manages to live in New York for heaven's sake - and the reason is that when he arrives in a new environment he doesn't have to wait for several generations; if he arrives in a colder environment and sees an animal that has those genes which favour a thicker coat, he says “I'll have it off him”. Tools have enabled us to think intentionally, to make things and to do things to create a world that fits us better. Now imagine an early man surveying his surroundings at the end of a happy day's tool making. He looks around and he sees a world which pleases him mightily: behind him are mountains with caves in - mountains are great because you can go and hide in the caves and you are out of the rain and the bears can't get you; in front of him there's the forest - it's got nuts and berries and delicious food; there's a stream going by, which is full of water - water's delicious to drink, you can float your boats in it and do all sorts of stuff with it; here's cousin Ug and he's caught a mammoth - mammoth's are great, you can eat them, you can wear their coats, you can use their bones to create weapons to catch other mammoths. I mean this is a great world, it's fantastic. But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, 'well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in' and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question which is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says 'So who made this then?' Who made this? - you can see why it's a treacherous question. Early man thinks, 'Well, because there's only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he's probably male'. And so we have the idea of a god. Then, because when we make things we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself , 'If he made it, what did he make it for?' Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, 'This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely' and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.

This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there's plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that's a very dangerous thing to say. Look at what's supposed to be going to happen on the 1st of January 2000 - let's not pretend that we didn't have a warning that the century was going to end! I think that we need to take a larger perspective on who we are and what we are doing here if we are going to survive in the long term.

There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be, but we have done various things over intellectual history to slowly correct some of our misapprehensions. Curiously enough, quite a lot of these have come from sand, so let's talk about the four ages of sand.

From sand we make glass, from glass we make lenses and from lenses we make telescopes. When the great early astronomers, Copernicus, Gallileo and others turned their telescopes on the heavens and discovered that the Universe was an astonishingly different place than we expected and that, far from the world being most of the Universe, with just a few little bright lights going around it, it turned out - and this took a long, long, long time to sink in - that it is just one tiny little speck going round a little nuclear fireball, which is one of millions and millions and millions that make up this particular galaxy and our galaxy is one of millions or billions that make up the Universe and that then we are also faced with the possibility that there may be billions of universes, that applied a little bit of a corrective to the perspective that the Universe was ours.

I rather love that notion and, as I was discussing with someone earlier today, there's a book I thoroughly enjoyed recently by David Deutsch, who is an advocate of the multiple universe view of the Universe, called 'The Fabric of Reality', in which he explores the notion of a quantum multiple universe view of the Universe. This came from the famous wave particle dichotomy about the behaviour of light - that you couldn't measure it as a wave when it behaves as a wave, or as a particle when it behaves as a particle. How does this come to be? David Deutsch points out that if you imagine that our Universe is simply one layer and that there is an infinite multiplicity of universes spreading out on either side, not only does it solve the problem, but the problem simply goes away. This is exactly how you expect light to behave under those circumstances. Quantum mechanics has claims to be predicated on the notion that the Universe behaves as if there was a multiplicity of universes, but it rather strains our credulity to think that there actually would be.

This goes straight back to Gallileo and the Vatican. In fact, what the Vatican said to Gallileo was, “We don't dispute your readings, we just dispute the explanation you put on them. It's all very well for you to say that the planets sort of do that as they go round and it is as if we were a planet and those planets were all going round the sun; it's alright to say it's as if that were happening, but you're not allowed to say that's what is happening, because we have a total lockhold on universal truth and also it simply strains our personal credulity”. Just so, I think that the idea that there are multiple universes currently strains our credulity but it may well be that it's simply one more strain that we have to learn to live with, just as we've had to learn to live with a whole bunch of them in the past.

The other thing that comes out of that vision of the Universe is that it turns out to be composed almost entirely and rather worryingly, of nothing. Wherever you look there is nothing, with occasional tiny, tiny little specks of rock or light. But nevertheless, by watching the way these tiny little specks behave in the vast nothingness, we begin to divine certain principles, certain laws, like gravity and so forth. So that was, if you like, the macroscopic view of the universe, which came from the first age of sand.

The next age of sand is the microscopic one. We put glass lenses into microscopes and started to look down at the microscopic view of the Universe. Then we began to understand that when we get down to the sub-atomic level, the solid world we live in also consists, again rather worryingly, of almost nothing and that wherever we do find something it turns out not to be actually something, but only the probability that there may be something there.

One way or another, this is a deeply misleading Universe. Wherever we look it's beginning to be extremely alarming and extremely upsetting to our sense of who we are - great, strapping, physical people living in a Universe that exists almost entirely for us - that it just isn't the case. At this point we are still divining from this all sorts of fundamental principles, recognising the way that gravity works, the way that strong and weak nuclear forces work, recognising the nature of matter, the nature of particles and so on, but having got those fundamentals, we're still not very good at figuring out how it works, because the maths is really rather tricky. So, we tend to come up with almost a clockwork view of the way it all works, because that's the best our maths can manage. I don't mean in any way to disparage Newton, because I guess he was the first person who saw that there were principles at work that were different from anything we actually saw around us. His first law of motion - that something will remain in its position of either rest or motion until some other force works on it - is something that none of us, living in a gravity well, in a gas envelope, had ever seen, because everything we move comes to a halt. It was only through very, very careful watching and observing and measuring and divining the principles underlying what we could all see happening that he came up with the principles that we all know and recognise as being the laws of motion, but nevertheless it is by modern terms, still a somewhat clockwork view of the Universe. As I say, I don't mean that to sound disparaging in any way at all, because his achievements, as we all know, were absolutely monumental, but it still kind of doesn't make sense to us.

Now there are all sorts of entities we are also aware of, as well as particles, forces, tables, chairs, rocks and so on, that are almost invisible to science; almost invisible, because science has almost nothing to say about them whatsoever. I'm talking about dogs and cats and cows and each other. We living things are, so far, beyond the purview of anything science can actually say, almost beyond even recognising ourselves as things that science might be expected to have something to say about.

I can imagine Newton sitting down and working out his laws of motion and figuring out the way the Universe works and with him, a cat wandering around. The reason we had no idea how cats worked was because, since Newton, we had proceeded by the very simple principle that essentially, to see how things work, we took them apart. If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have in your hands is a non-working cat. Life is a level of complexity that almost lies outside our vision; is so far beyond anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; 'life', something that had a mysterious essence about it, was god given - and that's the only explanation we had. The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes 'On the Origin of Species'. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it's yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we're not made of anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn't read well. But also, we have no opportunity to see this stuff at work. In a sense Darwin was like Newton, in that he was the first person to see underlying principles, that really were not at all obvious, from the everyday world in which he lived. We had to think very hard to understand the nature of what was happening around us and we had no clear, obvious everyday examples of evolution to point to. Even today that persists as a slightly tricky problem if you're trying to persuade somebody who doesn't believe in all this evolution stuff and wants you to show him an example - they are hard to find in terms of everyday observation.

So we come to the third age of sand. In the third age of sand we discover something else we can make out of sand - silicon. We make the silicon chip - and suddenly, what opens up to us is a Universe not of fundamental particles and fundamental forces, but of the things that were missing in that picture that told us how they work; what the silicon chip revealed to us was the process. The silicon chip enables us to do mathematics tremendously fast, to model the, as it turns out, very very simple processes that are analogous to life in terms of their simplicity; iteration, looping, branching, the feedback loop which lies at the heart of everything you do on a computer and at the heart of everything that happens in evolution - that is, the output stage of one generation becomes the input stage of the next. Suddenly we have a working model, not for a while because early machines are terribly slow and clunky, but gradually we accumulate a working model of this thing that previously we could only guess at or deduce - and you had to be a pretty sharp and a pretty clear thinker even to divine it happening when it was far from obvious and indeed counter-intuitive, particularly to as proud a species as we.

The computer forms a third age of perspective, because suddenly it enables us to see how life works. Now that is an extraordinarily important point because it becomes self-evident that life, that all forms of complexity, do not flow downwards, they flow upwards and there's a whole grammar that anybody who is used to using computers is now familiar with, which means that evolution is no longer a particular thing, because anybody who's ever looked at the way a computer program works, knows that very, very simple iterative pieces of code, each line of which is tremendously straightforward, give rise to enormously complex phenomena in a computer - and by enormously complex phenomena, I mean a word processing program just as much as I mean Tierra or Creatures.

I can remember the first time I ever read a programming manual, many many years ago. I'd first started to encounter computers about 1983 and I wanted to know a little bit more about them, so I decided to learn something about programming. I bought a C manual and I read through the first two or three chapters, which took me about a week. At the end it said 'Congratulations, you have now written the letter A on the screen!' I thought, 'Well, I must have misunderstood something here, because it was a huge, huge amount of work to do that, so what if I now want to write a B?' The process of programming, the speed and the means by which enormous simplicity gives rise to enormously complex results, was not part of my mental grammar at that point. It is now - and it is increasingly part of all our mental grammars, because we are used to the way computers work.

So, suddenly, evolution ceases to be such a real problem to get hold of. It's rather like this: imagine, if you will, the following scenario. One Tuesday, a person is spotted in a street in London, doing something criminal. Two detectives are investigating, trying to work out what happened. One of them is a 20th Century detective and the other, by the marvels of science fiction, is a 19th Century detective. The problem is this: the person who was clearly seen and identified on the street in London on Tuesday was seen by someone else, an equally reliable witness, on the street in Santa Fe on the same Tuesday - how could that possibly be? The 19th Century detective could only think it was by some sort of magical intervention. Now the 20th Century detective may not be able to say, “He took BA flight this and then United flight that” - he may not be able to figure out exactly which way he did it, or by which route he travelled, but it's not a problem. It doesn't bother him; he just says, 'He got there by plane. I don't know which plane and it may be a little tricky to find out, but there's no essential mystery.' We're used to the idea of jet travel. We don't know whether the criminal flew BA 178, or UA270, or whatever, but we know roughly how it was done. I suspect that as we become more and more conversant with the role a computer plays and the way in which the computer models the process of enormously simple elements giving rise to enormously complex results, then the idea of life being an emergent phenomenon will become easier and easier to swallow. We may never know precisely what steps life took in the very early stages of this planet, but it's not a mystery.

So what we have arrived at here - and although the first shock wave of this arrival was in 1859, it's really the arrival of the computer that demonstrates it unarguably to us - is 'Is there really a Universe that is not designed from the top downwards but from the bottom upwards? Can complexity emerge from lower levels of simplicity?' It has always struck me as being bizarre that the idea of God as a creator was considered sufficient explanation for the complexity we see around us, because it simply doesn't explain where he came from. If we imagine a designer, that implies a design and that therefore each thing he designs or causes to be designed is a level simpler than him or her, then you have to ask 'What is the level above the designer?' There is one peculiar model of the Universe that has turtles all the way down, but here we have gods all the way up. It really isn't a very good answer, but a bottom-up solution, on the other hand, which rests on the incredibly powerful tautology of anything that happens, happens, clearly gives you a very simple and powerful answer that needs no other explanation whatsoever.

But here's the interesting thing. I said I wanted to ask 'Is there an artificial god?' and this is where I want to address the question of why the idea of a god is so persuasive. I've already explained where I feel this kind of illusion comes from in the first place; it comes from a falseness in our perspective, because we are not taking into account that we are evolved beings, beings who have evolved into a particular landscape, into a particular environment with a particular set of skills and views of the world that have enabled us to survive and thrive rather successfully. But there seems to be an even more powerful idea than that, and this is the idea I want to propose, which is that the spot at the top of the pyramid that we previously said was whence everything flowed, may not actually be vacant just because we say the flow doesn't go that way.

Let me explain what I mean by this. We have created in the world in which we live all kinds of things; we have changed our world in all kinds of ways. That's very very clear. We have built the room we're in and we've built all sorts of complex stuff, like computers and so on, but we've also constructed all kinds of fictitious entities that are enormously powerful. So do we say, 'That's a bad idea; it's stupid - we should simply get rid of it?' Well, here's another fictitious entity - money. Money is a completely fictitious entity, but it's very powerful in our world; we each have wallets, which have got notes in them, but what can those notes do? You can't breed them, you can't stir fry them, you can't live in them, there's absolutely nothing you can do with them that's any use, other than exchange them with each other - and as soon as we exchange them with each other all sots of powerful things happen, because it's a fiction that we've all subscribed to. We don't think this is wrong or right, good or bad; but the thing is that if money vanished the entire co-operative structure that we have would implode, but if we were all to vanish, money would simply vanish too. Money has no meaning outside ourselves, it is something that we have created that has a powerful shaping effect on the world, because its something we all subscribe to.

I would like somebody to write an evolutionary history of religion, because the way in which it has developed seems to me to show all kinds of evolutionary strategies. Think of the arms races that go on between one or two animals living the same environment. For example the race between the Amazonian manatee and a particular type of reed that it eats. The more of the reed the manatee eats, the more the reed develops silica in its cells to attack the teeth of the manatee and the more silica in the reed, the more manatee's teeth get bigger and stronger. One side does one thing and the other counters it. As we know, throughout evolution and history arms races are something that drive evolution in the most powerful ways and in the world of ideas you can see similar kinds of things happening.

Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and that it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That's an idea we're so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that it's kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!' If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it, but on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say, 'Fine, I respect that'. The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking 'Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?' but I wouldn't have thought 'Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics' when I was making the other points. I just think 'Fine, we have different opinions'. But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say 'No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief but no, we respect it'.

It's rather like, if you think back in terms of animal evolution, an animal that's grown an incredible carapace around it, such as a tortoise - that's a great survival strategy because nothing can get through it; or maybe like a poisonous fish that nothing will come close to, which therefore thrives by keeping away any challenges to what it is it is. In the case of an idea, if we think 'Here is an idea that is protected by holiness or sanctity', what does it mean? Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows, but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe, no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so? There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be.

There's a very interesting book - I don't know if anybody here's read it - called 'Man on Earth' by an anthropologist who use to be at Cambridge, called John Reader, in which he describes the way that… I'm going to back up a little bit and tell you about the whole book. It's a series of studies of different cultures in the world that have developed within somewhat isolated circumstances, either on islands or in a mountain valley or wherever, so it's possible to treat them to a certain extent as a test-tube case. You see therefore exactly the degree to which their environment and their immediate circumstances has affected the way in which their culture has arisen. It's a fascinating series of studies. The one I have in mind at the moment is one that describes the culture and economy of Bali, which is a small, very crowded island that subsists on rice. Now, rice is an incredibly efficient food and you can grow an awful lot in a relatively small space, but it's hugely labour intensive and requires a lot of very, very precise co-operation amongst the people there, particularly when you have a large population on a small island needing to bring its harvest in. People now looking at the way in which rice agriculture works in Bali are rather puzzled by it because it is intensely religious. The society of Bali is such that religion permeates every single aspect of it and everybody in that culture is very, very carefully defined in terms of who they are, what their status is and what their role in life is. It's all defined by the church; they have very peculiar calendars and a very peculiar set of customs and rituals, which are precisely defined and, oddly enough, they are fantastically good at being very, very productive with their rice harvest. In the 70s, people came in and noticed that the rice harvest was determined by the temple calendar. It seemed to be totally nonsensical, so they said, 'Get rid of all this, we can help you make your rice harvest much, much more productive than even you're, very successfully, doing at the moment. Use these pesticides, use this calendar, do this, that and the other'. So they started and for two or three years the rice production went up enormously, but the whole predator/prey/pest balance went completely out of kilter. Very shortly, the rice harvest plummeted again and the Balinese said, 'Screw it, we're going back to the temple calendar!' and they reinstated what was there before and it all worked again absolutely perfectly. It's all very well to say that basing the rice harvest on something as irrational and meaningless as a religion is stupid - they should be able to work it out more logically than that, but they might just as well say to us, 'Your culture and society works on the basis of money and that's a fiction, so why don't you get rid of it and just co-operate with each other' - we know it's not going to work!

So, there is a sense in which we build meta-systems above ourselves to fill in the space that we previously populated with an entity that was supposed to be the intentional designer, the creator (even though there isn't one) and because we - I don't necessarily mean we in this room, but we as a species - design and create one and then allow ourselves to behave as if there was one, all sorts of things begin to happen that otherwise wouldn't happen.

Let me try and illustrate what I mean by something else. This is very speculative; I'm really going out on a limb here, because it's something I know nothing about whatsoever, so think of this more as a thought experiment than a real explanation of something. I want to talk about Feng Shui, which is something I know very little about, but there's been a lot of talk about it recently in terms of figuring out how a building should be designed, built, situated, decorated and so on. Apparently, we need to think about the building being inhabited by dragons and look at it in terms of how a dragon would move around it. So, if a dragon wouldn't be happy in the house, you have to put a red fish bowl here or a window there. This sounds like complete and utter nonsense, because anything involving dragons must be nonsense - there aren't any dragons, so any theory based on how dragons behave is nonsense. What are these silly people doing, imagining that dragons can tell you how to build your house? Nevertheless, it occurs to me if you disregard for a moment the explanation that's actually offered for it, it may be there is something interesting going on that goes like this: we all know from buildings that we've lived in, worked in, been in or stayed in, that some are more comfortable, more pleasant and more agreeable to live in than others. We haven't had a real way of quantifying this, but in this century we've had an awful lot of architects who think they know how to do it, so we've had the horrible idea of the house as a machine for living in, we've had Mies van der Roe and others putting up glass stumps and strangely shaped things that are supposed to form some theory or other. It's all carefully engineered, but nonetheless, their buildings are not actually very nice to live in. An awful lot of theory has been poured into this, but if you sit and work with an architect (and I've been through that stressful time, as I'm sure a lot of people have) then when you are trying to figure out how a room should work you're trying to integrate all kinds of things about lighting, about angles, about how people move and how people live - and an awful lot of other things you don't know about that get left out. You don't know what importance to attach to one thing or another; you're trying to, very consciously, figure out something when you haven't really got much of a clue, but there's this theory and that theory, this bit of engineering practice and that bit of architectural practice; you don't really know what to make of them. Compare that to somebody who tosses a cricket ball at you. You can sit and watch it and say, 'It's going at 17 degrees'; start to work it out on paper, do some calculus, etc. and about a week after the ball's whizzed past you, you may have figured out where it's going to be and how to catch it. On the other hand, you can simply put your hand out and let the ball drop into it, because we have all kinds of faculties built into us, just below the conscious level, able to do all kinds of complex integrations of all kinds of complex phenomena which therefore enables us to say, 'Oh look, there's a ball coming; catch it!'

What I'm suggesting is that Feng Shui and an awful lot of other things are precisely of that kind of problem. There are all sorts of things we know how to do, but don't necessarily know what we do, we just do them. Go back to the issue of how you figure out how a room or a house should be designed and instead of going through all the business of trying to work out the angles and trying to digest which genuine architectural principles you may want to take out of what may be a passing architectural fad, just ask yourself, 'how would a dragon live here?' We are used to thinking in terms of organic creatures; an organic creature may consist of an enormous complexity of all sorts of different variables that are beyond our ability to resolve but we know how organic creatures live. We've never seen a dragon but we've all got an idea of what a dragon is like, so we can say, 'Well if a dragon went through here, he'd get stuck just here and a little bit cross over there because he couldn't see that and he'd wave his tail and knock that vase over'. You figure out how the dragon's going to be happy here and lo and behold! you've suddenly got a place that makes sense for other organic creatures, such as ourselves, to live in.

So, my argument is that as we become more and more scientifically literate, it's worth remembering that the fictions with which we previously populated our world may have some function that it's worth trying to understand and preserve the essential components of, rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water; because even though we may not accept the reasons given for them being here in the first place, it may well be that there are good practical reasons for them, or something like them, to be there. I suspect that as we move further and further into the field of digital or artificial life we will find more and more unexpected properties begin to emerge out of what we see happening and that this is a precise parallel to the entities we create around ourselves to inform and shape our lives and enable us to work and live together. Therefore, I would argue that though there isn't an actual god there is an artificial god and we should probably bear that in mind. That is my debating point and you are now free to start hurling the chairs around!

Q – What is the fourth age of sand?

Let me back up for a minute and talk about the way we communicate. Traditionally, we have a bunch of different ways in which we communicate with each other. One way is one-to-one; we talk to each other, have a conversation. Another is one-to-many, which I'm doing at the moment, or someone could stand up and sing a song, or announce we've got to go to war. Then we have many-to-one communication; we have a pretty patchy, clunky, not-really-working version we call democracy, but in a more primitive state I would stand up and say, 'OK, we're going to go to war' and some may shout back 'No we're not!' - and then we have many-to-many communication in the argument that breaks out afterwards!

In this century (and the previous century) we modelled one-to-one communications in the telephone, which I assume we are all familiar with. We have one-to-many communication - boy do we have an awful lot of that; broadcasting, publishing, journalism, etc. - we get information poured at us from all over the place and it's completely indiscriminate as to where it might land. It's curious, but we don't have to go very far back in our history until we find that all the information that reached us was relevant to us and therefore anything that happened, any news, whether it was about something that's actually happened to us, in the next house, or in the next village, within the boundary or within our horizon, it happened in our world and if we reacted to it the world reacted back. It was all relevant to us, so for example, if somebody had a terrible accident we could crowd round and really help. Nowadays, because of the plethora of one-to-many communication we have, if a plane crashes in India we may get terribly anxious about it but our anxiety doesn't have any impact. We're not very well able to distinguish between a terrible emergency that's happened to somebody a world away and something that's happened to someone round the corner. We can't really distinguish between them any more, which is why we get terribly upset by something that has happened to somebody in a soap opera that comes out of Hollywood and maybe less concerned when it's happened to our sister. We've all become twisted and disconnected and it's not surprising that we feel very stressed and alienated in the world because the world impacts on us but we don't impact the world. Then there's many-to-one; we have that, but not very well yet and there's not much of it about. Essentially, our democratic systems are a model of that and though they're not very good, they will improve dramatically.

But the fourth, the many-to-many, we didn't have at all before the coming of the Internet, which, of course, runs on fibre-optics. It's communication between us that forms the fourth age of sand. Take what I said earlier about the world not reacting to us when we react to it; I remember the first moment, a few years ago, at which I began to take the Internet seriously. It was a very, very silly thing. There was a guy, a computer research student at Carnegie Mellon, who liked to drink Dr Pepper Light. There was a drinks machine a couple of storeys away from him, where he used to regularly go and get his Dr Pepper, but the machine was often out of stock, so he had quite a few wasted journeys. Eventually he figured out, 'Hang on, there's a chip in there and I'm on a computer and there's a network running around the building, so why don't I just put the drinks machine on the network, then I can poll it from my terminal whenever I want and tell if I'm going to have a wasted journey or not?' So he connected the machine to the local network, but the local net was part of the Internet - so suddenly anyone in the world could see what was happening with this drinks machine. Now that may not be vital information but it turned out to be curiously fascinating; everyone started to know what was happening with the drinks machine. It began to develop, because in the chip in the machine didn't just say, 'The slot which has Dr Pepper Light is empty' but had all sorts of information; it said, 'There are 7 Cokes and 3 Diet Cokes, the temperature they are stored at is this and the last time they were loaded was that'. There was a lot of information in there, and there was one really fabulous piece of information: it turned out that if someone had put their 50 cents in and not pressed the button, i.e. if the machine was pregnant, then you could, from your computer terminal wherever you were in the world, log on to the drinks machine and drop that can! Somebody could be walking down the corridor when suddenly, 'bang!' - there was a Coca-Cola can! What caused that? - well obviously somebody 5,000 miles away! Now that was a very, very silly, but fascinating, story and what it said to me was that this was the first time that we could reach back into the world. It may not be terribly important that from 5,000 miles away you can reach into a University corridor and drop a Coca-Cola can but it's the first shot in the war of bringing to us a whole new way of communicating. So that, I think, is the fourth age of sand.




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