back to article Come off it, Moon, Earth. We know you're 60 million years older than we thought

Geoboffins have cracked open some ancient crystals to discover that the Earth and the Moon are actually 60 million years older than previously thought. Giant impact, common at the end of planet formation You’d imagine that figuring out the age of the hunk of rock right under our feet would be something that scientists had …

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Re: @Trevor_Pott

I have no problems with homeschooling, so long as very stick guidelines are observed, and there's a damned good reason. The reason pretty much has to be "there isn't an adequate public school system available." In Canada, in a major city, that's a line of bullshit, and almost always trotted out by people who want to homeschool in order to indoctrinate their children.

Which brings me to the next item: homeschool should never include religious indoctrination. No child should be exposed to any religion until they are in secondary school. At which point, religious instruction should be mandatory: all major religions and beliefs should be covered, as well as where they have been (or not) disproven by science.

At that point, children should have a solid foundation of science, mathematics and critical thinking that allows them to make a rational, informed choice as to whether or not they want to believe in a given religion. No family should have a "right" to commit child abuse by forcibly indoctrinating their children before they are old enough to understand.

Where and when homeschooling is used as an excuse to isolate a child from science and increase their religious indoctrination children should be placed in custodial care and parents jailed ad aeternum.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott #2

Trevor,

You are the bigger danger to society than the few members of the lunatic fringe because you cannot handle people thinking differently than you. Your's is the same narrow minded attitude the Catholic Church had in the medieval and Renaissance times that persecuted Galileo and didn't allow doctors to admit that men had the same number of ribs as women. Same attitude, different "facts". The reason facts is in quotation marks is because the Catholic Church had it wrong and because science is a moving target - read a college astronomy textbook from a century ago and marvel at how wrong it is compared with modern ideas.

As for indoctrination, everyone iindoctrinates. You want other people's kids indoctrinated your way, homeschoolers are content to keep their noses out of other people's business.

And do not even think about equating something that does no physical or psychological damage, no matter how looney it is, to real child abuse. You make a mockery of the damage done to abuse victims.

A world where we are not free to think for ourselves, no matter how poorly some of us do it, or raise our children as we see fit is worse than the fustercluck we have now. It is the world of "1984".

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Re: @Trevor_Pott #2

Bullshit. Teaching children religion absolutely is child abuse. Abuse has many facets, from the physical to the psychological. Religious indoctrination is all about denying children the right to think for themselves. It is about taking away their ability to choose before they are even old enough to realise that what the right to choose is and why it matters.

Teaching children facts, figures and critical thinking gives them the tools they need to make informed choices. It gives children the knowledge required to understand people who think differently and to deal with them in a way that doesn't involve violence.

I do not have any problem whatsoever with an adult who has reached the age of majority choosing to pursue one or more faiths of their choice. There is plenty of peer-reviewed science to show that faith is an important component to the psychological well being of a significant percentage of our species. If they need spirituality to feel whole, more power to them.

But I absolutely and vehemently disagree with the concept that parents "own" their children. That child's mind is not yours to do with as you please. It belongs to the child themselves and you've no right to remove their right to choose or their ability to think critically.

There is absolutely no moral or ethical argument you can make for indoctrination of children to any belief system before their brains have fully developed. Belief in a structured faith must be a choice, one made in full knowledge of the alternatives.

You're absolutely full of shit if you think I want other peoples' children "indoctrinated" in any specific way. I emphatically do not. I want them trained to think critically, to be aware of all options before they make a choice.

I don't pass judgement on the choice itself, if that choice is made after full cognitive development has occurred, with full exposure to alternatives and of the free will of the individual in question.

If you honestly believe that the above is "indoctrinating" a child to "my way of thinking" you're a liar or a fool. You can decide which.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott #3

Trevor,

1. If you cannot accept that other people can and do think differently than you on this and many other subjects, why should anyone else grant you the privilege of thinking for yourself?

2. We agree that parents don't own their children but it is my responsibility to raise my child in a manner that gives her the tools and abilities she needs to make her way in the world. And since it is *my* responsibility, I will make choices that seem best to *me*. This also includes trying to develop some good moral character to keep her from becoming another Ken Lay or Ed Gein.

3. Why is it *my* choice. Home schooling is not done without sacrifice. One parent has to stay home to do the schooling, making all home school households one-income families in a two-income society. Not impossible to do, but we do have less shiny things. By homeschooling my wife and I save the school district we are in about $10,000 per year and still pay our full share of income, sales and property taxes to support other people's kids public education. We get no significant tax breaks - the textbooks and other approved materials we purchase knocks about $30 off our taxes. These same tax breaks are also available to parents of public schooled kids so its not like we're getting special treatment. So, given that I am paying the full cost of both raising and educating my daughter, I get to decide what is right for her. Your opinion doesn't mean squat. Sorry.

4. Indoctrination to some sort of belief system *is* inevitable no matter how much you try to avoid it. I. at least, know where I am coming from and can take steps to mitigate it. You seem to be some sort of Scientific Fundamentalist and don't know it which means you would probably do an even more egregious job of it.

5. I think you discount the incredible pig-headedness of teenagers too much. They have an amazing tendency to throw off crap that people try too hard to dump on them.

6. As for me being a liar or fool for thinking you want to indoctrinate other people's kids your way, when you call something a crime you give every indication that you want to use the power of the State to enforce Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy here being defined as "the one right way to think". The power of the State, by the way, comes out of the barrel of a gun. You wrote it, we read it. What are we supposed to think?

I still say society is better off letting the lunatic fringe teach their own kids creationism no matter how much I disagree with them than to try to corral and control them as they will fight back and just might succeed in getting their curriculum taught to everybody's kids. They have had some success here in the Land of the Free, learn from our example.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott #3

1. Think as differently as you want. Don't indoctrinate children before they are old enough to make decisions for themselves.

2. Morality doesn't flow from religion. You can still be doing what you think is right and abusing a child. In fact a lot of people who abuse children don't honestly believe they are being abusive.

3. If you are homeschooling in order to give your child a better education because you feel that the extant system is inadequate, I've no issue with that. If you are doing it in order to religiously indoctrinate your child then I believe you should not be allowed to have children. Period.

4. The very concept of a "scientific fundamentalist" is nonsense. To be a fundamentalist you need a doctrine to adhere to. Science has no doctrine. Any aspect of science can be proven wrong if the correct reproducible evidence is provided. I absolutely am a believer in teaching all people critical thinking, but that doesn't necessarily lead to science. (It most frequently does, but make of that what you will.)

As a matter of fact, I am myself a religious person, I just don't generally discuss my religion because it isn't particularly mainstream and it takes a rather long time to explain. I chose my religion, after having explored various faiths, and decided that some element of faith - a belief in something greater than myself - was required to fill a void in my life. But I'm not fundamentalist about that either. I see no reason why I would push that faith on someone else - especially an innocent! - or even discuss it at length unless asked.

People must be free to make their own choices. If you do not believe that, then to my mind, you're a fucking monster. Whatever religion you wrap your ideology up in.

5. Don't you dare try to say "you cannot indoctrinate a child into a religion against their will because teenage religion." That's fucking bullshit and I expect fully that any reader of this site be capable of recognizing it for what it is. If you can't, leave. Don't ever come back. You aren't smart enough to play here.

6. I demand that the power of the state be used to ensure that all children be raised in such a manner as to be capable of making choices in their lives as to what to believe. That isn't orthodoxy. It's ensuring freedom for all citizens.

Your freedoms end exactly at the point where they would infringe upon the freedoms of another. A child does not belong to it's parents. A child is not property. Therefor you do not have the freedom - or the right - to indoctrinate them. They have the right to make their own choices.

You advocate a "right" by parents to to take away the right of children to choose, by indoctrination them before they are biologically developed enough to understand what is happening, old enough or experienced enough to make choices in full knowledge of the alternatives.

You demand the right to determine the fate of another human being and then have the unmitigated gall to say that I am the one preaching orthodoxy?

Do I believe that the state should prevent parents from indoctrinating children? Yes. Just like I think it should prevent parents from physically abusing them.

I also think the state should prevent people from murdering, from raping, from treating those who are a different gender/race/sexuality/etc differently...

All people should be equal under the law. That means we don't have the "right" to deprive others of their rights, or to force them to do our bidding, or to force them to believe what we tell them to believe. To me, that absolutely includes a parent's relationship with a child, or any vulnerable adult.

Do you think it should be legal for a parent to take their adult child, strap them to a chair and Clockwork Orange them with propaganda until they believe what they're told? No? How the merry fuck is that different from taking a child and indoctrinating them in a religion?

With an adult you'd need the restraints because they would otherwise walk away. A child can't. Even teenagers are demonstrably vulnerable. There's scads of science on this.

So, to come right down to it, you demand the ability to abuse children psychologically in the form of religious indoctrination be granted as a "right" to parents and enforced by the state with guns.

I demand that parents be prevented from abusing children psychologically in the form of religious indoctrination by the state, using guns if necessary.

The difference is that you aren't capable of accepting that your demands amount to child abuse. Somehow "it's different" if it's religion. And I say: "that's fucking bullshit." You can continue to reinforce your point, but you aren't going to change my mind on this. Indoctrinating a child into a belief system before they have the biological capability, knowledge and life experience to make a decision about what they want to believe is abuse. Full fucking stop.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott yet again

"I demand that parents be prevented from abusing children psychologically in the form of religious indoctrination by the state, using guns if necessary."

So you admit my main argument against your position - that you cannot handle people thinking differently than you and that you do support using the power of the state to enforce Orthodoxy.

I made no claim of a right to teach my child religion. I admit that indoctrination is unavoidable, much like gravity or breathing, and admit to knowing just what my a priori assumptions about life, the universe and everything are and am, therefore, capable of mitigating the effects of this unintended behavior. The only things I have said about homeschooling is that it works better than public education in the US in general and in my own child's case in particular and that we do not teach her creationism because its a load of crap. Again, I do what I think is best, your opinion does not matter.

I do think society is better off letting the looneys do their own thing WRT teaching things you or I don't necessarily agree with. The punchline from a Dilbert cartoon says it best "When you find a big kettle of crazy, sometimes its best to leave it alone". Prove to me the deep psychological harm that always results from teaching a child about god, sky fairies, invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, tree spirits and Santa Claus. I don't doubt its possible to damage a child in certain cases that probably incorporate real abuse, but I have seen no evidence of harm to children in general resulting from such instruction. And, yes teenagers do rebel when you try to squeeze them into your mold to hard.

As for Scientific Fundamentalists, its not whether Science has any doctrine its about individuals who place Science on the same mental pedestal as God - they have doctrine. I have seen numerous examples of this sort of creature in my life. If you are no such animal, my mistake.

Getting to the general tone of your posts, you are coming across as increasingly shouty and strident. Perhaps you should start using recreational drugs. Heavily. Or maybe you illustrate my boast about my teenage daughter being more socially well adjusted than a lot of Reg commentards. She just shakes her head and smiles when told about all this.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott yet again

"So you admit my main argument against your position - that you cannot handle people thinking differently than you and that you do support using the power of the state to enforce Orthodoxy."

Not at all, I'm perfectly okay with people thinking differently, if they are allowed the opportunity to make an informed choice. I absolutely do not hold that "removing someone else's rights" is merely "thinking differently." It is not merely "thinking differently" to indoctrinate a child. It is removing their right to choose.

You claim "indoctrination is unavoidable", but have nothing to back it up. You throw this out as a justification for religious indoctrination but cannot prove that raising a child to think critically and offering them a wide range of diverse options for belief as well as broad life experience before asking them to choose consists of "indoctrination." That is because, in fact, it is the opposite of indoctrination. It is not forcing any belief system on the child, but giving them the tools to discover one on their own.

You naturally think that it's okay to let the loonies abuse children because you are in here arguing for your personal right to abuse your child. You are arguing stridently that your "right" (and I maintain no such right exists) to force your belief system on an undeveloped child supersedes their right to be free to choose.

You also don't seem to actually read what I write, you just jump in and start screaming. I never said that "teaching a child about god, sky fairies, invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, tree spirits and Santa Claus" harmed a child. I said that religious indoctrination was akin to child abuse.

To be perfectly clear, I am saying that teaching a child that one and only one religion is the "one true faith" is akin to child abuse. This would include taking some subset of science and holding it up as absolute doctrine, never to be questioned.

In fact, if you reread my comments you'll find that I believe children should be exposed to all of the mainstream faiths before the age of majority, and as many non-mainstream faiths as possible. They should be exposed to science, mathematics, art, literature and more as well. More importantly than anything else they should be taught critical thinking.

Exposure to this broad mix of beliefs and science, combined with as rich a life experience as is reasonable to afford the child is the only way to give them the tools to choose for themselves what to believe.

Taking a child out of school so that you can spend 15 years teaching them "science is evil, Muslims are evil, Blacks are subhuman, and everyone who doesn't worship Jesus in exactly the same way as we do is also evil" is fucking child abuse. End of.

What is not child abuse - what is in fact the antithesis of child abuse, or of orthodoxy - is to expose that child to various flavours of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Hindu, the various other Abrahamic religions, the flying spaghetti monster, Gaianism, various flavours of paganism while also teaching them science in all it's messy, controversial and argumentative glory.

Teach them about the right diversity of human thought and never, under any circumstances tell them what they are to believe. Tell them that part of growing up is making that choice for themselves. Let them experiment, play, investigate and learn.

To force a child - and make no mistake religious indoctrination in the "one true faith" from nipple to nupital is the use of psychological force - to believe something is abuse. You can try to dismiss that as somehow "okay" because you feel it's your "right" as a parent to own that child, but that just makes you a monster.

Homeschooling can be a great thing, especially if the local school system is inadequate. It can also be a great thing if the only public school available is hell bent on indoctrinating a child into a given a religion.

Where homeschool absolutely is a terrible thing is where it is used by self-important monsters to remove from children the right to choose what to believe. Quite frankly, that it was it seems to be used for more than anything else, especially in North America.

And I don't care if you use homeschooling to achieve the ends or not; indoctrination of a child is abuse.

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Trevor, Trevor, Trevor

You have come to the most fanciful conclusions about me based on... I don't know what. Nowhere have I claimed a "right" to tell my daughter what to think. So just stop it. Has it occured to you that I might *want* my daughter to make *her* own choice about such things? Just to make things clear, I *do* want her to make her own choices about these things. If you would actually have comprehended my posts you would also have picked up on me agreeing with you that parents don't own their progeny. So just stop that too. And to be clear, my progeny is learning critical thinking which is why she is enjoying sitting on the sidelines watching this exchange.

Also, to be clear, I only advocate letting the looneys do what they want is based on nothing other than a lack of evidence that what they are doing is harmful. Just. Being. Pragmatic. Nothing. More.

Homeschooling does not automatically mean teaching things like science is evil, Muslims are evil and that blacks are subhuman and everyone who doesn't worship Jesus in exactly the same way as we do is also evil. Those who hold such ideas usually pass them on quite adequately without homeschooling. So stop with the caricatures already.

As for indoctrination, anyone who has kids knows you can't avoid teaching them to be like you. You are their biggest influence before they reach school age, they naturally imprint on you. Even if you send them to any public or private school of your choice, you can still have an enormous influence on them. Watching mom and dad is primarily how girls learn to be women and what to expect from men and how boys learn to be men and how to treat women. Watching you is also how your children learn an entire moral code and other things like whether or not chiropractors are quacks, for example. This is why I call it unavoidable - kids watch what you do and what you say and internalize it. Anyone who had to clean up their manner of expression because their child's first word was "shit" will know what I'm talking about.

Frankly, Trevor, you know very little about homeschooling.

And now to deal with the internal inconsistency in your argument.

1. You have no problem with adults choosing a religion because you see positive psychological effects from such a choice. It doesn't seem to matter what they choose, apparently its all good.

2. You have a big problem with children only being exposed to one religion and you seem to see negative psychological effects even though you haven't enlightened me about them.

So, if its good gor an adult, why is it bad for a child. The artificial reduction of sample size should not matter because they are apparently all good.

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Re: Trevor, Trevor, Trevor

I never said all homeschooling is bad, you forehead-slanted idiot. I qualified it by saying very specifically that home schooling in order to indoctrinate your children with religion is bad. There are reasons why home schooling can be a good thing, but that - on the whole - it isn't engaged in for those reasons.

1. I have no issue with adults choosing a religion because they have reached the point where their brains are at their maximum development. They are not going to get any better at making decisions. I believe the right to choose your own fate is a fundamental human right. That means that at some point people have to have the right to choose.

Science tells us that we are no longer vulnerable to easy influence by authority figures around the age of 16, give or take two years, depending on the development of the individual. It's one of the reasons why the age of majority is generally accepted as 18(ish) in most countries.

Also: you again completely failed to actually read what I wrote, instead inserting your own inane gibberings. I said - quite specifically - that a spiritual belief was required for some individuals. As a matter of fact, we can even identify the gene sequences responsible for this requirement. It absolutely does not affect the entire population, it is present in approximately 25% of us.

Thus some of us have a need for some sort of spiritual belief to feel whole. The rest don't. Determining if that is true of you is your own personal journey.

Is any belief as good as the next? Yes. The bible isn't true, and none of the other scraps of parchment written by madmen wandering the desert are either. Morality isn't divine. Morality flows from pragmatism and a genetic predisposition to altruism that exists in approximately 85% of our species. (About 5% of our species are not pre-disposed to tribalism and sociopaths make up about 10% of the population.)

Literal interpretation of any sacred text is outright lunacy, which makes any religion as good as the next. Morality is asynchronous of religion: you learn your society's values regardless. That means that it doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you realize that those beliefs are limited by laws. If you want to change laws, you have to work within the system.

2. The reason that it is bad to tell a child what to believe is quite simple: humans aren't born fully formed and fully capable. We have a learning process wherein we are heavily influenced in our formative years by individuals in authority over us.

Telling a child repeatedly their whole life "this is what you must believe, this is the One True Faith" is not giving them a chance to choose a belief system. It is forcing your own upon them.

A life involving spirituality is not a net positive for all individuals. In fact, it's net positive for only about 25% of our species. All children should have the opportunity to decide for themselves A) whether they feel religion is net positive for them and B) which religion they would like to believe in.

What you, as the parent, believe doesn't matter because you don't matter. Not in the context of the rights of the child. Your desire to pass on your belief system is irrelevant. The right to choose comes before your desires.

And that choice must include the right to choose not to believe in a religion at all.

The separation between child and adult is all about cognitive development. If you use a position of power to tell a child what they should believe - especially if you isolate them from their society in order to reinforce it repeatedly over the course of decades - you're a monster. Pure and simple.

By all means teach children that religions exist. Teach them about as many as possible. Do not tell children that one - and only one - is somehow "fact".

Instead, teach them critical thinking and let them decide for themselves what is or isn't fact. Do not use your position of power on a developing mind to force them to develop a belief system. That is nothing more than child abuse, pure and simple.

By demanding the right to do so, you are demanding the right to abuse your child. Would baby jesus want that, do you think? Little baby jesus? Really? He wants you to take advantage of the children? Really?

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Re: Trevor, Trevor, Trevor

Your ad hominem attacks weaken whatever argument it is that you are trying to make and, quite frankly, are getting tiresome. Same goes for the straw men you attack.

You have continually accused me of engaging in heinous criminal activity without even telling me what it is about teaching a child only one religion that dooms that individual to a life as an automaton unable to engage in critical thinking or to exercise free will. Keep three things in mind before replying with a reasoned, calm response. First, I have never said that I am subjecting my child to the horrible things you say I do. Second, the "handicap" of growing up knowing about only one religion has afflicted probably the majority of humans that have ever lived yet we still managed to come up with the scientific method, mathematics, women's suffrage, engineering, medicine, logic, the civil rights movement and critical thinking among other fine things. Third, children are not idiots. They may be born ignorant but by the time they are around 10 years old they do start thinking for themselves and start asking the hard questions. So any parents truly wishing to keep their children blindly following in their footsteps are pretty much doomed to failure.

As for being a "forehead-slanted idiot", there is a 99% chance that my IQ is bigger than yours.

The ball is now in your court.

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Re: Trevor, Trevor, Trevor

I never said that children exposed only to one religion would not be able to exercise free will. I said that exposing a vulnerable child only to one belief system and repeating over and over that it is the "the One True Truth" is abusive and damaging. One example amongst many is discussed by Richard Dawkins here.

The reality of it is that once inculcated into a given belief paradigm, the overwhelming majority of individuals can't move too far afield from it. Train a child to believe that hell exists, and if they're bad they'll go there, that will be in the back of their mind for the rest of their life. It certainly goes beyond religion.

A good (no religious) example from my own life: if the house was not perfectly clean when my mother got home, there would be hell to pay. The sound of the garage door opening late at night caused completely autonomic fear, anxiety and panic. Fifteen years later, the sound of a garage door opening in the middle of the night is still enough to bring me out of a dead sleep, body flooded with ++ adrenaline.

Religions have a similar impact. They impart a sense not only of what is right and wrong (though it needs be noted that in no way are religions the only means by which right and wrong can be transmitted), but they impart concepts like eternal damnation, faith-based-lack-of-consequences (nothing you do matters, so long as you believe you'll get into heaven!), hatred for non-believers and so on and so forth.

Religion doesn't merely present hatred, fear and lies to children, it imprints it deep into their psyche as the truth. The majority of our species finds that decades later they still believe these things that they were indoctrinated to believe. Even after a lot of effort on the part of many individual to "unlearn" these subconscious beliefs they were so kindly "gifted" by their parents, it's still there.

Contrary to your callous disregard for the impact of childhood indoctrination, one does not simply wake up one day and decide they don't believe in $religion anymore, thank you very much. Even if they put real effort into it, it's twisted up into so many aspects of their understanding of the world that it may never be untangled.

That is the legacy of religious indoctrination. And by advocating for the right of the parent to indoctrinate their child that is what you are saying it is your right to do to the mind of an innocent.

Most children are absolutely not fully cognitively developed by 10 years old. High neuoplasticisty is observed up to an average of 16 years of age, with children still developing important core psychological concepts (like conservation) into their teens.

Just because a kid learns to talk back doesn't mean they're ready to be told hell is real and if they love the wrong person they'll spend eternity there, or that if you think about something really hard you can cure any disease, or that aligning your spirit properly will solve your schizophrenia.

A child asking hard questions doesn't mean they're immune to being indoctrinated. It doesn't mean the indoctrination that occurred prior to that point suddenly vanishes. It means only that they've entered one of the latter stages of psychological development; there's still a great deal of development yet to occur before they are fully adult. (Incidentally, it's a great time to introduce children to the concept of religion, along with multiple examples and let them ask hard questions. So long as you aren't holding up any one belief and saying "this is the one true belief" then it will indeed help them develop critical thinking.)

As for your BS about "knowing about only one religion has afflicted probably the majority of humans that have ever lived yet we still managed to come up with" is just that: BS. You can rape a person to within an inch of their life and they can still go on to cure cancer. Does that mean you didn't abuse them? Cause long-lasting psychological damage? Even put them at a disadvantage compared to their peers?

Lots of people have achieved great things with disabilities. Does that mean that if I poke out your eyes and sever your legs I'm not abusing you? What utter twaddle.

Mental and emotional abuse is still abuse.

Regarding your self-congratulatory claims of intellectual supremacy, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a pass on that particular leap of faith.

Addendum: my calling you a goddamned idiot doesn't weaken my argument at all. Facts are facts and reality is objective. What you think or feel matters nothing to how the world plays out. An argument stands on it's own merits or it doesn't; attacking the individual (or bitching about attacking the individual) doesn't make a difference to the content of the argument, it's purely emotional byplay. It can affect acceptance of the truth, but does not change the substance of the truth itself.

To wit: I think you're a self-important cockbag who feels that the minds of children are property. As such, I will obtain whatever minor pleasure I can get from calling you a dunce. You don't have to like it. I rather hope you don't. And your tiredness (or not) with regards to the concept doesn't affect me one bit.

Nothing you've said has altered my initial impression of you, but you've manged to reinforce it repeatedly. Hence, I will enjoy continuing to needle, poke, jab and jibe until you trundle off to impose your belief system on another innocent.

Cheers!

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Finally!

Finally you have posted something that is not a total barking-at-the-furniture-mad rant. Thank you. You utter lack of an explanation for your views has led to me and several others wondering just what you were so upset about. The whole free will and critical thinking hypotheses was based on your earlier lack of clarification.

I agree with you that the anecdotes in the Dawkins article are bad. But, just as it would be terribly inaccurate to claim that all mothers are bad because your's abused you, it would be terribly inaccurate to paint every last religion with this brush. I submit to you that it is possible to present a religion to a child in a positive manner, one that does not fixate on negatives like Hell or demonize those who do not share such beliefs. It is possible to have a religion that does not teach hatred and violence. Jesus was the antithesis of a douchebag, I submit to you the idea that he could use a whole new fanclub - one whose members actually try to live like him.

But I must point out that Richard Dawkins is no mental health professional - he has an axe to grind. And the anecdotes about the excesses of the Catholic Church are just that - anecdotes, not peer reviewed scientific literature. The article also comes close to conflating sexual abuse with the mental trauma you no doubt want me to notice. Not the best source.

We can agree that religious instruction received in childhood often does stick around for life. But, outside of those cases where ham-handed assholes have done damage, is that necessarily a bad thing? We all need some sort of "lens" to view and make sense of the world around us and we largely get that from the people around us whether they be family, community, teachers or, in some cases, churchy types. This lens will be acquired long before the child reaches an age you consider appropriate for making informed choices, can't be helped thats just how life works. If the lens is not based on hatred, violence or negativity does it really matter where it comes from?

Yes, morality and religion are not joined at the hip. You may find "The Abolition of Man" by C.S. Lewis to be worthwhile reading.

Facts are facts and reality is objective but resorting to personal attacks does weaken your argument because your argument is the *use* of the facts. Makes you look desperate.

As for me being a self-important cockbag, look in the mirror - you're the shouty one. Seriously.

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Re: Finally!

"I submit to you that it is possible to present a religion to a child in a positive manner, one that does not fixate on negatives like Hell or demonize those who do not share such beliefs."

So? Even if you can present a religion to a child that isn't chalk full of psychologically damaging crap designed to keep the peasants in line so the priests can rule...you're still presenting the child with a carefully manufactured lie and indoctrinating them into believing that it is the truth. That is still abuse.

You are still placing them at a disadvantage compared to those who weren't raised in a lie, to say nothing of the potential psychological fallout should they ever find out the fairy tale isn't true. Nihilism spirals aren't fun.

Present all known possibilities to the individual and give them the tools to make rational, informed decisions. If they choose to believe a lie - or to believe in one possibility amongst many in situations where the truth isn't yet known - that absolutely must be their choice. Forcing it upon them through "one truth and only one truth" indoctrination is still abuse.

"Jesus was the antithesis of a douchebag, I submit to you the idea that he could use a whole new fanclub - one whose members actually try to live like him."

Oh, yeah, the world needs another Christian cult like it needs a nuclear war. Puh-lease. You're veering dangerously close to the sun of "my church knows the one true truth, and everyone else is an unbeliever!" Danger! Danger! Danger!

"But I must point out that Richard Dawkins is no mental health professional - he has an axe to grind." You mean he champions empirical truth and condemns organized lying? Well shit, he's a witch! Burn him!

"The article also comes close to conflating sexual abuse with the mental trauma you no doubt want me to notice."

I don't give a bent goat what you notice or not. I've spend several days building things from source and I'm bored out of my skull. I'm trolling you largely for my own personal amusement because I don't think for a second you're actually capable of considering the negative impact of religion.

Your little line about "conflating sexual abuse with mental trauma" is evidence of your bias. You quite obviously perceive mental trauma to be not as important as physical or sexual trauma. Somewhere, someone taught you that this was so. Probably repeatedly until you internalized it good and proper. Sex is bad! Sexual abuse, therefore is significantly worse that mental abuse! Based on nothing, of course, excepting your own moral judgement about how different kinds of abuse are "rated"...which is rooted in your belief system. Hence why this whole conversation was completely pointless several comments ago...but hey, I got my trolling on, so I'm quite happy.

"...religious instruction received in childhood often does stick around for life. But, outside of those cases where ham-handed assholes have done damage, is that necessarily a bad thing?"

Yes.

Religious indoctrination is the removal of the child's choice in what to believe and who they want to become. That is wrong, regardless of how "good" and "moral" and "right" you think your religion is. Those "ham handed" types teaching their kids racism or burning the heathens? They don't think to themselves "that's wrong, better teach it to my kids." They think to themselves "my beliefs are just, right and moral, I must pass them on to the next generation."

The individual you want to indoctrinate deserves the right to choose for themselves what to believe. What is right and what is wrong. They deserve, most of all, to be taught critical thinking so that they can identify truth from fabrication; to identify where the truth is genuinely unknown versus where manufactured controversy exists.

If they choose to make a leap of faith, that's up to them. under no circumstances should that faith be indoctrinated into them.

"We all need some sort of "lens" to view and make sense of the world around us and we largely get that from the people around us whether they be family, community, teachers or, in some cases, churchy types. This lens will be acquired long before the child reaches an age you consider appropriate for making informed choices, can't be helped thats just how life works. If the lens is not based on hatred, violence or negativity does it really matter where it comes from?"

Absolutely, yes it does. Critical thinking is what needs to be passed on, not doctrine. A moral compass doesn't require religion, and quite frankly doesn't benefit from religion at all. Doctrine and faith obscure the ability to question authority, question morality, question standing ethics and question extant social moors.

A child should be entirely free to believe that there is no "one true truth". That everything needs to be questioned, analyzed and confirmed. They need to know that people lie, and that as a consequence of this you cannot simply take what the parent/teacher/priest/politician/journalist/etc says at face value.

Faith of any sort is the instruction that it's entirely okay not to question. That something simply are, no matter what anyone says. Faith is about accepting the word of another over your own judgement. It is about accepting the authority of the lie over the truth, or - at the very least - accepting that the truth is unknowable/not worth knowing, and choosing to believe the comforting thing instead.

When the child is of age and they are ready to make an informed choice about faith, more power to them.

Until then, the "lens" they should be gifted is one of truthseeking.

Truthseeking is all the more critical as our population balloons. The percentage of charlatans per population unit likely hasn't changed much with time, but as the absolute population grows, so does the absolute number of charlatans. Worse, technology enhances their power and reach manyfold. Today's charlatan can do a lot more damage than those of yesteryear, and there are more of them.

So that child will grow up in a world where nearly all jobs are automated. Where competition for any job at all - let alone a good job - is rabid and fierce. Where charlatans of skill and knowledge are everywhere and where the truth is every more easily obscured beneath layers and layers of personal opinion, anecdote and beliefs.

Being taught that there is a "one true faith" is a weakness. It's a chink in the armour. Not only does it increase your attack surface (as you have so helpfully demonstrated) but it means you are trained from birth to accept a comforting lie as truth. It's a minor effort to find the hooks that drove into the psyche and exploit them.

"As for me being a self-important cockbag, look in the mirror - you're the shouty one. Seriously."

Funny, I don't feel particularly shouty. Bored, maybe. A little somolent. Perhaps eve a tinge malevolent with a dash of gleefully impish. Shouty would imply I'm either talking in all caps, or that I care enough about the topic to get worked up about it. Neither are true.

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Re: Finally!

So, in a nutshell, you just do not like religion. Fair enough.

As for your comments about truth (and lies), it may come as a shock to you but the human race has no way of determining with absolute certainty just what truth is. This is the first thing they teach you in Logic 101 in college. Even the scientific method is based on a formal fallacy of logic called "Affirming the Consequent". Wikipedia is accurate enough for the purpose of this discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent

So your statements calling Richard Dawkins a champion of empirical truth and me a purveyor of lies cannot be made with absolute certainty. Don't get me wrong, seeking truth is important, just don't be surprised if we all come up with different results. I am also not saying that truth is relative. This is a self-refuting statement for if "Truth is relative" is a true statement, it must also be relative.

You are almost right about "one true faith" being a weakness and a chink in the armor except for one thing - I agree with you. I have my beliefs, I think they are right just as much as you think you're right. I also know there is no way to figure out absolutely if I'm right, let alone what others believe which is why I don't hold on to my beliefs too tightly. This is where faith comes in. You see, faith is not "accepting the word of another over your own judgement"; faith is simply taking the next logical step into the unknown based upon what I already know.

The shouty stuff has more to do with the overall tone of the whole collection of your posts in this thread. Was a little concerned that you might blow a gasket a couple of times there. I must also congratulate you on the "forehead-slanted idiot" insult - that one struck me as quite inventive.

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Re: Finally!

"So, in a nutshell, you just do not like religion."

Not true at all. I don't believe children should be indoctrinated into a religion. I'm perfectly okay with adults believing whatever they wish; they have the cognitive development to make that choice. (Well, most of them, anyways.)

"the human race has no way of determining with absolute certainty just what truth is"

Perfectly aware of this. Which is at the core of my disagreement with indoctrinating children. That said, while we can not be 100% positive that every single organized religion on Earth is a fabrication - proving a negative is impossible - we can be statistically sure enough that it makes no difference. They are all lies. Some more pleasant than others...but all lies.

" faith is not "accepting the word of another over your own judgement"; faith is simply taking the next logical step into the unknown based upon what I already know."

Wrong. Faith absolutely is one of two things: accepting the word of another over your own judgement, or choosing to believe in something that can't be proven (usually because it is the most comfortable alternative.) The next logical step into the unknown is to find out where the "known" ends and do more research. Faith is never the next logical step; it is what happens when you choose to cease asking questions.

"I must also congratulate you on the "forehead-slanted idiot" insult - that one struck me as quite inventive."

Thanks, but honesty is of prime importance to me, so I can't claim any sort of credit for that. It comes from a kids show called "Beasties." (A transformers cartoon.) One of the characters (Blackarachnia) encounters a fawning austrolopithicine. Disgusted, she says "ugh, get away from me kid, your forehead slopes."

As for the "overall tone" of my posts, this is always done with a purpose. The use of emotive phrases and mixed language (mixing gutter epithets with words that have more than four syllables) tends to cause the majority of individuals to become emotionally invested in the conversation.

Once they're committed, minor verbal probing will get them to reveal their positions and cause them to focus more on defense than dissembling. If they can do nothing but dissemble, you can be reasonably certain they have no knowledge worth mining.

If they respond emotively you know that they are speaking from a position of belief. Attack them. Sting them. Force them to go into a shell of false dignity and mad Google Scholar searching. Here they might not only turn up the odd useful tidbit of knowledge worth digesting, but you trigger in your opponent a form of introspection.

In approximately 10% of cases I've logged so far, this will actually lead to either completely redefining their belief system in the tread itself. Of these, about 90% land not too far from where they started, but about 10% of individuals land far afield. (I'd have to write some scripts to mine the data to see how many ended up close to the argued position and how many landed somewhere orthogonal to both, but I suspect the latter is ever so slightly more common.)

The trick is to categorise the opponent. Once you've isolated the basic elements of the individual you can tailor your prose to achieve maximum effect. So far, I've only got a sample size of about 5000 debates. Given the limited debate partner choice amongst the few sites I've conducted my research in, this isn't quite enough to determine a representative sample. I'm still refining classification categories.

With time, perhaps, I will gather enough data to be able to write a proper comment trolling bot. The autotroll 5000! Point it at the comments section of any website and watch the commenters go insane! It's a long way off, but man...there's money to made if I can get it right. :)

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This could be winding down

We have come to opposite conclusions based on our acknowledgement that the human race has no way of determining truth with absolute certainty. I figure if one cannot prove with absolute certainty that another's position is wrong then it follows that one cannot prove with absolute certainty that one's own position is right. So I don't worry too much about how someone else raises their kids as it is entirely likely that there is more than one way to raise a viable human. As long as they don't do something really egregious like making their kids wear inadequate clothing in the winter or brush their teeth with butter, that is.

It looks like we have become like Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass" in that words mean what each of us say they mean neither more nor less when it comes to our definitions of faith. I think it is absolutely essential to have that little sliver of doubt that comes from knowing I can't be absolutely certain that I'm right to keep my brain engaged. Anyone who chooses to turn their mind off is an effing moron.

One of these days you will meet another who uses the same style of argument as you and it could take months to figure it all out. Loads of cash will be made by popcorn vendors while everyone watches :)

But, once you got done with the trolling, you did give me a viewpoint to consider that I had not seen before. Didn't change my thoughts on the matter under discussion but the exercise was valuable nonetheless.

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Re: This could be winding down

I don't believe that my own position is "100% for certain right". I simply don't believe that until someone can prove their position 100% correct they should not be indoctrinating children with that position.

Teach, by all means. Inform and pass knowledge. But do not lie to a child and tell them something is true unless you can prove it is...at least to within such certainty as to be statistically irrelevant. If you can prove the existence of God, an afterlife and the literal truth of scripture to within 5 sigma, then by all means tell a child that's the truth.

If you can't, then by whatever shred of honour or decency you may have let the child make their own damned choice.

Anyways, I'll end there. Signing off...

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The Earth and its collision to be neighbor must have had different orbital times around the sun before the collision. Would that be faster or slower than post-collision? Would it's orbit timing be different after it gathered water than it was before? We use Earth orbits as a constant in connection with the timing of many things. Might there be some variables that should be considered..at least refer to "current" earth years as opposed to earlier ones?

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Well, sure it is the current Earth Year. Which is just a fixed number of seconds. Which are defined using distance and the universal dimensionless constant 1 ... or lightspeed for the hoi polloi.

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some mechanics

Sorry, I might not be understanding your questions exactly, but will try answering to the best of my knowledge.

1) ...must have had different orbital times around the sun before the collision...

According to the 3d Kepler's Law, the period, T, is proportional to the 3/2-nd power of the major axis of the orbit [for the almost-circular orbit that would be the (average) distance to the Sun]. Hence, given the impactors on stable orbits, their periods must be the same. Of course, the 3d KL might not be as accurate, since Kepler's Laws disregards the third body. The closer the impactors get to each other the more they disrupt each others' orbits and should be taken into account besides the central force from the Sun. Apparently, Thea and the Earth collided due to the mutual attraction :) not due to the difference in their orbits.

*With Sir Isaac's own (derivation) explanation of Kepler's Laws for the circular orbit, you can imagine a planet (or a body) as follows:

a=F/m (2nd Newton's Law) so a ~ 1/R^2 (the Univ. Law of Gravitation)

where R is the distance to the Sun. For the circular motion we have also:

a=R*omega^2 ~ R*/T^2, where omega and T are the angular velocity and the period of the orbit, resp., (omega=2Pi/T)

=> Thus T^2 ~ R^3.

2) Would that be faster or slower than post-collision?

If it did, it has to change the orbit and the excess or the loss in potential would be used to do the work for it. However, not because of the impact, more due to the attraction and change in the velocities. The only loss could be in the thermal energy of the collision and the additional proper axial rotation of the Earth received by the impact with an acute angle (as opposite to head-on) . And that is what has been hypothesized to explain a number of rather odd phenomena for the Moon-Earth system.

3) Would it's orbit timing be different after it gathered water than it was before?

?? the mass of the acquired water is negligible w/r to the Earths mass, and again, the orbit of the planet depends on the mass of the Sun not the mass of the planet, however the Sun's own "wobble" does, but it is even more negligible than that.

....

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Last I heard ...

Mother Earth was 29 Million something. Of course she has never looked a day over 35 Million. Now either quit complaining or get off her.

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Joke

Re: Last I heard ...

"Last I heard ...

Mother Earth was 29 Million something. Of course she has never looked a day over 35 Million. Now either quit complaining or get off her."

When did you hear that? 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years ago and you're still typing? You wear it well sir, you wear it well.

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Gentlemen NEVER discuss a lady's age

Just 'cause Gaia is.....

@ GrahamD, -- why do we see this here? Because the creationists will drag out the same old tired arguments as well. We can still enjoy kicking the literal creationists. Myself, I can rationalize an agreement for them, but they never listen. Thus I've given up on bringing them into the 21st century.

@ DAM, Kudo and upvote on "Jimbo's Store".

@ Magani, Agreed, looks like Marvin pinged that time.

I keep wondering when we'll be able to say definitively how long the dance has really been. It is constantly intriguing to find new ways of measuring the age of objects, and we have wonderful instruments out there that can tell us about things far, far away. I suppose this all just part of a journey. And like DAM, I rather hope we get to see ZenSunni along the way.

And AndyE -> it wasn't a slow printer, he didn't check the cartridges before he started and it sat there for 3 days waiting for him to replace the empty "magenta" cartridge.

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Re: Gentlemen NEVER discuss a lady's age

That's just the thing, there are almost never any creationists arguing their side on these articles, just lots and lots of whining about creationists.

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Re: Gentlemen NEVER discuss a lady's age

"And AndyE -> it wasn't a slow printer, he didn't check the cartridges before he started and it sat there for 3 days waiting for him to replace the empty "magenta" cartridge."

I would have thought the printer would run out blue first.

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Re: Gentlemen NEVER discuss a lady's age

"That's just the thing, there are almost never any creationists arguing their side on these articles, just lots and lots of whining about creationists."

Bingo! There's really only a tiny, tiny minority of Creationists, it's just that they're very loud... Almost as loud as the people railing against them, who give more publicity to the Creationists than they could ever drum up themselves.

Best course? Just ignore them, except to point and shake your head in pity whenever one is paraded on TV by some attention seeking sot using him/her to drum up ratings for his/her TV program.

And... This is the last time you'll hear me mention them here.

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Dig

See those people who were sceptical or didn't believe in the age of the earth presented in a survey the other month were right. Whose laughing now. Actually they probably don't care. Another few years and they'll have added another billion or so years and we will all be saying how naive the scientists were to believe their guesses.

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I have to say that I found both the content of the article and many of the comments somewhat ironic; "science" "KNOWS" the age of the earth is blah de blah years now, anyone (scientist or not) who has a different opinion is a fool and must be ridiculed.

Only... "science" "KNEW" that the age of the earth was something vastly different just a few days ago! Both values are almost certainly wrong, but dissenters with perfectly plausible theories of their own will be ridiculed regardless, for being ignorant heathen unbelievers.

The hard fact of the matter is that nobody can _ever_ prove the age of the earth - it isn't possible because we don't have all the observational data required and can't ever have it. You can take one of many different sets of assumptions and guess at it "scientifically" - but you can't be truly scientifically sure that your assumptions are correct. Oh - and it doesn't matter in the least what percentage of "true scientists" take the same set of assumptions; their opinion is as worthless as yours because they haven't a complete set of data either. History has proven that ideas firmly believed to be fact by the majority of scientists at any one time are often completely wrong.

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Why not attack me instead?

I have a theory about the genesis of our Solar System - http://rampsontheory.blogspot.com . Please read and give me your comments!

Oh yeah, my next book equates Genesis I to my (RSG) solar system theory - interesting that it matches (as much as a 2000 year old book can be translated "properly"). So the final answer is - Creationists and Scientists are both right - and both wrong.

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Re: Why not attack me instead?

Because no one gives a F$%k.

Dude I've sadly just read your 'blog' and it is atrocious , did you just make most of that up.. are you on medication ? Embarrassed for you.

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Re: Why not attack me instead?

An answer to "why does that look like that?" for every feature of the Solar System - what else are you looking for?

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Xenon has 38 ISOTOPES ! ! !

The longest half life, Xenon-136 is 2 x 10^21 years, the second longest half life is Xenon-127 with 36 days. In todays atmosphere, Xenon is ~ 1%, but because it is a decay product, this ratio has been increasing over time. Trapped billions of year old gas samples, from a few locations cannot be extrapolated to any useful information about age, especially this level of ACCURACY. To assume the vast number of variables that effect decay rate to be constant over time is ABSURD.

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Boffin

Re: Xenon has 38 ISOTOPES ! ! !

"To assume the vast number of variables that effect decay rate to be constant over time is ABSURD."

Ok, bring it on. What effects do you know that effect decay time? Last I heard, there was nothing known that affected the decay rate of a particular isotope, apart from the most extreme nucleus-impacting environments.

The constancy of radioactive decay is what enables us to date materials. Cross-referencing using different daughter isotopes gives good agreement for (say) the age of the Earth. Would you suggest that some force has affected all the different isotopes in some cunning way so that they still give the same result?

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Re: Xenon has 38 ISOTOPES ! ! !

Actually, the various radiometric dating methods almost always provide significantly varying results, each with a large set of error bars. It's an idea based on many unprovable assumptions (including the vital initial conditions which usually cannot be known), with the results fine tuned by the expectations of the operator to choose the most acceptable "age"; often with (circular) reference to other methods relying on the same assumptions.

Even the most useful variants which are employed for historical dating require fine tuning with reference to known historical environmental data to provide acceptable results.

Radiometric dating can be a useful tool when used in conjunction with other methods but anyone who thinks it provides an infallibly accurate age for anything is badly mistaken.

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Boffin

Re: Xenon has 38 ISOTOPES ! ! !

Ok, bring it on.

To be fair, there was some periodic modulation in a decay time test correlated with Earth's position relative to the sun. Neutrino flux influencing decay times? Unlikely, but...

At the present time, this is no further than the "That's odd..." stage.

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I'll have Brid-Aine Parnell know that our satellite is larger than most.

You don't see many planets with satellites that have a mass ratio like the Earth and Moon do!

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If the Earth has been passing as younger...

...that proves the Earth is female. Mother Earth, indeed.

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