“atheists are, alongside rapists, the most distrusted group of people.” Maybe in your privileged world, they are. Um, have you heard of race?
There a number of independent studies that have shown this to be true. I know it sounds surpising, but here are the links, so u can see for yourself:
Scientifc American article on a University of British Colombia study:
The original paper:
Here is an article on a University of Minnesota study, it states the conclusions, but I can’t find the original paper:
I’m sorry but this isn’t my “privileged” world. These are peer-reviewed studies carried out with the highest degree of scientific and statistical reliability. Of course there ia a degree of uncertainty in the sample, but it is only small, or else the papers wouldn’t be published. If you can provide me with some studies that point to race being the greatest indicator of distrust, I would be quite happy to read them.
On another note, we must always remember that the modern USA was willing to elect an African-American president, but never an atheist one. This is just anecdotal evidence, so we can’t read to much into it, but I think it gives some backing to my point, However, as I say, better to read the studies.
Appreciate that languages change over time; that they are in a constant flux; that there is no Platonic Form of (or “Queen’s”) English. All you have to do is watch Shakespeare:
Appreciate that different languages express thoughts in different ways – to this end, learn a second language, absorb its grammar, it will open your ears. Appreciate that even in globalized world, language is an important marker of identity for people. Google the Chomskyan Revolution in Linguistics and read Stephen Pinker on the subject:
Finally, see my post on the dangers of Linguistic Determinism
By science I do not mean scientific knowledge* but the scientific method. It’s our best tool for making sense of the world. Observation, the experiment, Occam’s Razor, Popper’s falsification.
(*Chemistry. Biology. Physics. Maths. All wonderful. But they have enough people defending their camps. Personally, I’d argue no one should leave school with no knowledge of Newton. But, I decided I’d stick to one scientific idea and that one was gonna be evolution)
Here’s a concise and clear step by step guide to researching scientifically:
I don’t mean Darwin and the Beagle. I mean Fisher, Haldane, Mayr – a decent grasp of population genetics is a must. Plus google Gould and his “punctuated equilibrium” for the controversies. Appreciate that Natural Selection and Evolution are two distinct things. Skip the God Delusion and read Dawkins’ books on biology – the man’s enthusiasm shines through. Finally, if you decide to click on any of my links, make it this one:
Picture a map of the world in your head – know where countries are in relation to one another. This is a biggie: maps are fun, while away an afternoon just flicking through an atlas. Learn where exactly your latest holiday destination actually is. Pick up any fantasy novel and appreciate the effort that’s gone into making the maps – the story is written into the hills. My advice, draw your own maps and realize what a great tool for art and expression cartography can be. Check this guy out – tis an astonishing feat of the imagination:
This is a word I detest. My advice is: either read a daily newspaper or spend 15mins a day reading analysis on a news website. You can get the actual info of the headlines but its the analysis what counts. For a daily dose: Guardian, Independent, Herald (in print or online) and Newsnight on BBC2 at 10.30pm. For a weekly dose: the Economist magazine. Moreover, I’d advise getting to grips with A) Economics: Keynesianism, Monetarism, what a recession actually is, what interest rates do; and B) Politics: learn the spectrum, what the parties stand for, appreciate what different governments and ideologies hold sway in the world.
And If you want your own voice heard: http://www.opendemocracy.net/
Not the school subject with its evidence, analysis and sources, important though that be. Instead, make sure you have a general overview in your mind, a historical consciousness, of what happened when and where. Of who conqured whom. A grand sweep of the past. Maps help:
It’s astonishing how many people believe the Aztecs and the Romans were contemporaneous.
Also, find out about the biggest of Why? of history: what made the West and the Rest. What made Europe overtake everyone else and then conquer them. Jared Diamond is the best and most rigorous if you want answers:
Above all, know that America didn’t used to have white people living there and that Jesus did in fact not speak English!*
(*he spoke Aramaic)
This is the real “humanities” subject. Learn the order in which the Homos come. Research the debates as to the origins of art, language, culture, etc.
Find out about Chimpanzees, our closes cousins. About human migrations.
Join this with your appreciation of Human History and ‘Current Affairs’ to create a three-pronged attempt at making sense of humanity through time. Use your map skills to evaluate humanity through space. Check out the transcendental values and customs, reported in all societies, and think that they might possibly be there cos of evolution – use to science to test this idea. Realize that the one thing we all have in common, thru space and time, is language.
Appreciate that we begin with language and end with language. It is this which makes us truly human.
Oh, and NEVER use Comic Sans…!
So this is my list from May 2011. To this I think I would now add a knowledge of Statistics and Probabliity. Also I have realized how ignorant so many people are of science so you can’t get away from Basic Physics and Chemistry - maybe the idea of the atom as Feynman said.
This was my reply.
‘No, I’m not frustrated that I’m not with a guy too. Being bisexual isn’t an excuse to date more than one person at a time, but lots of people seem to think that’s what it means.
I can see it as possibly being a problem if you’re just dating someone casually, maybe you like them and don’t want to cheat but also have these inclinations towards the other sex. But I’m in love with Sian, and I’m incredibly happy to be with her so I don’t wonder about ‘what I’m missing out on’ because it isn’t just about sex. And sex with anybody wouldn’t be nearly as good as how being with Sian makes me feel. With her I have much better, more important things than simply sexual satisfaction.’
The answer seemed more extensive as I was writing it than when I read it afterwards. I really can’t get across the fact enough that I truly adore Sian and I’m so grateful to have her. It completely trumps any curiosity about what being with a guy might be like. And seriously, being bisexual isn’t the definition (nor an excuse) for polygamy.
To reiterate a point I’ve made many times before: ultimately, to say I am straight, or gay, or bi is a meaningless statement. What can being ‘straight’ even mean? Obviously not ‘being attracted to the set of all women’ as I can cite numerous women to whom I am not attracted (viz. Slanty). I could say I have tendency to be attracted to people who display feminine characteristics, but of course that doesn’t rule out men with those characteristics. You can’t be attracted to a group, you are attracted to particular people, who may cluster in some particular region of population space, but nonetheless are all individual people.
The only meaningful statement I can make is that I am attracted to (and of course love) Rachael.
I can also say I find other people attractive, for instance Helena Bonham Carter and Elizabeth Banks, who just happen to be female. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility in future of finding a man attractive.
Which Stephen is my roundabout way of saying I agree with you, and how logically ridiculous it is to think being bisexual implies wanting to have sex with the set of all men, even though you have a girlfriend.