Scientists Invade Religion

first_imgScience and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media.  The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded.World religion:  Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an “ideal religion” would look like if humans could start one from scratch.  She acknowledged that religion is “good for some things” like a sense of community and promotion of happiness, but she accepted the speculations of researchers who treat religion as something that can be classified like plants, focusing on outward ritual activity instead of epistemology.  (The article was posted, after all, on New Scientist.)    From there, Douglas speculated about how an ideal world religion would promote a blend of physical activities like chanting and dancing “to stimulate the release of endorphins” and “social cohesion”  It could even include few tame myths to keep people coming back.  It would even be polytheistic: “With many gods and great tolerance of idiosyncratic local practices, the new religion will be highly adaptable to the needs of different congregations without losing its unifying identity,” she continued.  “The religion will also emphasise worldly affairs – it would promote the use of contraceptives and small families and be big on environmental issues, philanthropy, pacifism and cooperation.”  She even proposed a name for it: Utopianity.Free willy nilly:  Theologians have debated free will for centuries; does science have a better position to provide answers?  New Scientist has posted several articles recently about the subject.  In one, MacGregor Campbell promoted the answer from some secular neuroscientists that free will is an illusion.  The short article includes a video beginning with a cartoon of a tea-party patriot SUV waving American flags, whose owner turns out to be a murderer.    The video states without criticism that “every choice you have ever made was predetermined billions of years ago at the moment of the big bang” accompanied by a cartoon of evolutionary progress.  It continues claiming our brains are lying to us, and that murderers (like said tea party patriot) are not responsible for their actions.  As scientific justification for these radically deterministic views, the narrator says, “Many neuroscientists think that what we call free will is just the result of electrical and chemical signals in the brain, explainable ultimately by the laws of physics.”  (No critics were called on to point out that the narrator was predetermined to say that, or that laws of physics are not composed of matter.)    The narrator continued, with apparent scientific authority, to opine that belief in free will and moral accountability is a useful fiction, because “a society that doesn’t believe in free will would suck.”  It ended by advertising the April 16 issue of New Scientist, with its cover story, “Free will: the illusion we can’t live without.”    In a follow-up article on New Scientist that showed the same video, freelance writer Dan Jones again gave the scientific edge to neuroscientists who present the “manifest truth of determinism”.  He made matter-of-fact statements claiming materialism is scientific truth, such as Francis Crick’s remark, “you are nothing but a pack of neurons.”  Jones did acknowledge that when people are taught that free will is an illusion, their ethics, altruism and values plummet.  But he never questioned the materialistic view; he just presented arguments that belief in free will is so ingrained, we will probably not have to worry about an amoral society.Convert the Muslims:  In another article in New Scientist, Michael Bond interviewed “scientist imam” Usama Hasan, who thinks Muslims need to talk about evolution.  “I want Muslims to question creationism, says the physicist and imam who has had death threats for supporting evolution.”  As could be expected, there were no calls for any scientists to question Darwinism.Experimental cheating:  Psychologists at the University of Oregon used human guinea pigs to measure the effect of one’s view of God on the propensity to cheat.  The write-up on Medical Express includes a video that tried to correlate cheating on a sample test with the student’s view of God as forgiving and loving or God as vengeful and punishing.    According to the results, “students who specifically perceived God as punitive, angry and vengeful showed significantly lower levels of cheating.”  Nowhere did the press release question the ethics of this kind of experimentation – or its validity as a scientific investigation.  Should a priest, rabbi or preacher have evaluated the psychologists instead?Psychological swearing:  Swearing isn’t a sin; it’s good for you.  That was the message of an article on PhysOrg taken from the Los Angeles Times based on experiments at Keele University, England.  The “researchers” found that swearing helped subjects endure pain when their hands were immersed in ice water. The “experimental research” described above begs some epistemic questions on several levels.  Are moral experiments on human guinea pigs ethical?  Do they generate knowledge, or merely reinforce the researcher’s bias?  Are psychological investigations of religion scientific?    A rare article that questioned the validity of psychological/psychiatric research was posted recently on Medical Express, “Rethinking Psychiatry” by Candace O’Connor.  She started by noting the difference between positions of the American Psychiatric Association today and that of a few decades ago, when “Everywhere, psychiatry departments were dominated by psychoanalysts, who focused on Freudian theory.”    She quoted George E. Murphy, who said, “I remember one meeting, when I told a psychiatry professor about a study I had read showing that no two psychiatrists could agree better than chance on diagnosis,” implying the obvious: “our diagnoses don’t mean anything.”  Since then, instead of relying on Freud like a modern Moses, the field has tried to live up to “evidence-based approach to clinical psychiatry.”  She seemed supportive the latest iteration of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but ended by quoting a psychiatrist eager to keep asking questions: “We want to keep reminding people that we haven’t done enough and to keep asking: ’Where is the next thing coming from?’”  (See 02/17/2010.)    Admirable as that inside-skeptical spirit may be, it leaves open the possibility, illustrated by the evolution from DSM-II to DSM-V, that the “next thing” may undermine today’s current thing.  By contrast, religions tend to be stable over centuries, an observational fact that may lead to questions about science’s pretensions of epistemic authority.The presumption that science can study religion and answer ultimate questions is a kind of religion itself.  Instead of the gamesmanship between the Science Building and the Arts and Humanities Building, academics need to realize they are fallible human beings, not purveyors of absolute truth.    The secular materialists who honor themselves as “scientists” disqualify themselves, when making claims about free will and the “ideal religion,” by committing the self-refuting fallacy.  If beliefs are determined, so is their belief in determinism.  It cannot make any independent claims to validity or truth.    The ideal religion proposed by Kate Douglas sounds a lot like the end-times mythology predicted by the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  Prediction is supposed to be valued in science.  Here’s a prediction 2,000 years old that was right on.    Notice also that Paul did not have to keep revising and repudiating his documents like the APA does.  Since the observational evidence for Paul’s validity appears superior to those who have disqualified themselves by shooting their own feet, it seems justified to take seriously Dr. Paul’s advice, “Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 6:5) and “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’” (I Timothy 6:20-21).(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Google takes world on a tour of Robben Island

first_img24 April 2015As South Africa prepares to celebrate Freedom Day this year, the 21st anniversary of its first democratic elections, the Robben Island Museum and Google have announced the release of the first-­ever Street View imagery of Robben Island, as well as an audio-­visual tour hosted on Google Cultural Institute.A collaboration between Google and the Robben Island Museum to make the Unesco World Heritage site accessible to the world via the internet represented an effort to marry history with the future, the museum said in a statement. Mandela’s 2×2 prison cell. He rolled and unrolled his bedding each night as the majority of space in the tiny cell was taken up by his desk and book shelves. (Image: Google Cultural Institute) Sibongiseni Mkhize, chief executive of the Robben Island Museum, said at the launch that the museum was embracing technology to avoid becoming “irrelevant”. “We are using technology to enhance the story of the island.” He said the educational element of the island would be highlighted with this new partnership.“The reason Robben Island is now a museum is to educate people about the part of South Africa’s heritage that is embodied in the island’s multilayered history. Together with Google we are making this heritage accessible to people all over the world,” he said.Luke McKend, country director for Google South Africa, said that they had launched the project just days ahead of Freedom Day because “Robben Island is a symbol of South Africa’s fight for freedom”.“Once a symbol of the oppressive apartheid regime, Robben Island is now a memorial and a reminder of the human spirit’s irrepressible search for freedom. We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time to explore and be inspired by the island’s story of hope and humanity,” McKend writes on the official Google blog.It is hoped that the tour will help educate people around the world about the prison colony, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the apartheid regime for nearly two decades. WATCH: Former Robben Island prisoner Vusumsi Mcongo recalls the incident that led to the closure of the lime quarry on the island. The newly launched guided tour of Robben Island includes a virtual visit to Mandela’s prison cell as well as to activist Robert Sobukwe’s house. It uses a combination of Google’s Street View technology, videos of a tour guide (former political prisoner Vusumsi Mcongo) as well as original still images.As part of this project, Google Maps will also develop teaching notes on Robben Island for educators who will be using this interactive tour as an educational tool.Ahmed Kathrada, a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, a former inmate and close friend of the late Mandela, welcomed the initiative at the launch on Wednesday.“Not being able to see or interact with children for 20 years was possibly the most difficult thing to endure during my time on the island,” he said. “There’s a poetic justice that children in classrooms all over the world will now be able to visit Robben Island using this technology.” The house on Robert Island where Robert Sobukwe was sentenced to solitary confinement during the 1970s. (Image: Google Cultural Institute) Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said, “The internet is the world’s most powerful source of information and thanks to Google’s partnership with the Robben Island Museum, more people than ever before have access to this World Heritage Site.“We hope that this initiative not only allows for the world to reflect on South Africa’s struggle for freedom, but also showcase its beauty,” Hanekom said.The Robben Island Museum announced in April that they would be overhauling the ailing user experience on the island. The app and partnership with Google was a step in the overall improvement of the island, the museum said.The Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory also confirmed it would update their Cultural Institute exhibits with new layouts and add Street View panoramas of Robben Island.The Robben Island interactive tour can be accessed on mobile phones, from desktops and from Google’s Cultural Institute, where Robben Island Museum will host five exhibits depicting the history of the island.Download the app from the Google Store SAinfo reporter and news24.comlast_img read more

How to Deal with Sales Advice from Civilians

first_imgBusiness managers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs offer all kinds of advice to sales managers and salespeople as to how they might improve sales results. It can be difficult to listen to advice about selling from those who have never carried the bag. The recommendations are often naïve and often ignore the realities and constraints the sales force is forced to confront. If it were easy to sell more or sell faster, your life would be as easy as the non-salesperson’s advice makes it sound.You can react to advice from civilians by being defensive, insulted, or hostile. It’s easy to ignore the suggestions from civilians without the experience base from which to offer the advice they offer. Or you could make a healthier choice and spend the time educating the inexperienced as to your real challenges.Here’s how to deal with advice about sales from civilians.Help Them UnderstandThe primary reason non-salespeople so easily dole out sales advice is because they are unaware of the real challenges we face in sales.When non-salespeople suggest that sales should be closing faster, you need to spend time educating people on your sales process, your client’s buying cycle times, and the velocity of the deals in your pipeline. The business’s need for fast sales doesn’t allow you to violate the natural laws of the sales process or buying cycle. You have to educate non-salespeople on sales cycle times so they understand what options are available when it comes to increasing speed.When civilians suggest that sales people should be closing more business, you educate them the limitations of the sales force. Increasing quotas doesn’t do anything to improve territory coverage or the sales force’s effectiveness. You have to spend time working to help your non-salespeople team members understand what is possible and what isn’t possible.Probably the hardest advice to take from civilians is advice about deal strategy. It’s hard to accept advice about how to move a deal forward from people who have never met your dream client contacts, who weren’t there through the discovery process, who don’t really understand your competitive position, and who don’t have to actually do the work of winning of the deal. You have to help the civilians on your team to understand what it will really take to win your dream client.You help yourself and you help your team when you educate the non-salespeople on your team on the realities, the challenges, and the constraints. This sets you up to do what comes next.Ask for the Resources You NeedYou don’t do yourself or your company any favors by avoiding the battle for resources. Your job is to give the company what it needs in the way of sales results, and to do that you have to ask for the resources you need.You may need to make investments that reduce your sales cycle time. You may need to make investments in a larger sales force to produce the sales results that your company needs from you. You may also need changes or modifications to what you do to serve your dream clients in order to win deals.Asking for what you really need is likely to run smack into a discussion over resources. But often that is exactly the discussion that needs to be had.Sometimes producing results means that you have to put as much energy into selling inside as you do outside. You are more likely to get what you need from the organization if you have spent the time building their understanding of what is needed and why.Engage Them in the Sales ProcessKeeping the civilians away from the sales process is a mistake. The more deeply you engage the entire organization in the realities of selling, the better results you will produce. Selling is a team sport.Instead of keeping non-selling senior management away from the sale process, ask them to engage in the process. Let them join pipeline review and opportunity review meetings. Let them understand what is being done, the challenges, and the opportunities. If you want them to see the world from your viewpoint, invite them to sit on your side of the table and show it to them. Let them feel it.Instead of keeping them away from your dream clients, ask them to join you in sales calls with your dream clients so that they get to see and feel what it’s like to work on big deal. Do some relationship mapping and send the high-level civilians from your company to call on the high-level management team from your dream client. These is work that they can do that makes a difference, and they are normally happy to do it.It’s amazing how much more you can get done and how much faster you can get it done when your whole team is engaged in the deal. They look at your role and they look at deals very differently when they have skin in the game.As a final note, go into this endeavor knowing things aren’t any easier for non-salespeople. Respect their challenges like you want them to respect yours.QuestionsWhy is it so difficult to take sales advice from non-salespeople?Are you ever guilty of telling your non-selling peers how they should do their job?How can you educate your civilian peers on what you need to produce better results?How can you help them understand more about what you need?What actions can you engage management in to help you win your dream client? Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

Preity’s new avatar

first_imgPreity ZintaPreity Zinta has a new mission on hand-to lose weight for her upcoming film Ishq in Paris. The actress is currently in Los Angeles and has been hiking most of the time, since adventure sports are not only good for maintaining weight but they also serve as a stress buster, but that did not go too well for her.She injured herself when she met with an accident while hiking. On July 30, 2011, she tweeted, “Good morning tweeple! Too much flying for me these days and of course…. The knee is still recovering…. Whatz up with u guys? Hurt my knee Hiking up a 4 mile steep hike in La..” The 36-year-old actress has not only lost oodles of weight but has had a complete makeover. She has also learned French for the new movie.last_img