Grey Thoughts
Michael Leunig and Tim Blair
Tim Blair enjoys showing the moonbat lefty cartoonist Michael Leunig for all his deranged anti-western views. In the latest post, he points out how the Australian Catholic University showed its support for Michael by giving him an honorary doctorate. You have to wonder if the university is really a place filled with intelligent, educated people. Obviously, the leftist bias common at other universities also infects the ACU.

The ACU release on the doctoring of Leunig's qualifications also has an amusing final comment.
“As with all artistic expression, Michael’s work is sometimes misinterpreted or misundetsood, but his champions far outweigh his critics.”

Of course his champions far outweigh his critics....have you seen Michael Moore?
Or Bryan Law?
The Science of Morality - Ideology as Science
Allahpundit seems quite happy that a study reported in the Washington Post claims to have found a biological basis for altruism. Of course, it is probably better to go to a proper scientific news wire for more reliable details of studies. The study in question is reported on Science News Daily.

Lets just take a quote from the Washington Post article to see how strong this finding is
The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.
Interesting eh? It seems however, that their aim was to destroy the notion of free will. If altruism is 'hard-wired' it isn't a choice. If it isn't a choice, then it isn't a moral decision.

Also, the whole argument that finding an area of the brain that activates for a particular activity means that materialists are right. Just as with the creation evolution debate, where the similiarities between animals could be due to either common design or common descent, so too this finding could merely highlight God's design or evolutions activity.

The Washington Post continues
What the new research is showing is that morality has biological roots -- such as the reward center in the brain that lit up in Grafman's experiment -- that have been around for a very long time.
Assume we evolved and obviously this is a logical conclusion. Otherwise, it is just more begging the question about reality.

Perhaps the scientists or journalists have been reading Richard Dawkins, because the Post continues.
The more researchers learn, the more it appears that the foundation of morality is empathy. Being able to recognize -- even experience vicariously -- what another creature is going through was an important leap in the evolution of social behavior. And it is only a short step from this awareness to many human notions of right and wrong, says Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago.
Straight from the Secular Humanist handbook. What they don't tell you though, is that if empathy is the foundation for right and wrong, and this empathy evolved, then there is no rational reason to judge another persons actions as wrong, because that person is just following their own empathy.

Of course, this is all considering that the Washington Posts article is the whole story. Moving to Science News Daily, we get a description of the research methodology for the main study being reported...
One study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,* involved about 20 people, each of whom had the potential to walk away with a pot of $128. They also were given a separate pool of funds, which they could choose to distribute to a variety of charities linked to controversial issues, such as abortion and the death penalty. A computer presented each charity to the subjects in series, and gave them the option to donate, to oppose donation, or to receive a payoff, adding money to the pot. Sometimes, the decision to donate or oppose was costly, calling for subjects to take money out of the pot.

It turned out that a similar pattern of brain activity was seen when subjects chose either to donate or take a payoff. Both types of decisions were associated with heightened activity in parts of the midbrain, a region deep in the brain that is known to be involved in primal desires (such as food and sex) and the satisfaction of them. This result provides the first evidence that the "joy of giving" has an anatomical basis in the brain – surprisingly, one that is shared with selfish longings and rewards.

Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., the scientist who led the work, was more interested by what happened when subjects donated, or opposed donation, at a cost to themselves. In either case, an area of the brain toward the forehead, known as the anterior prefrontal cortex, lit up. When Dr. Grafman and his team asked subjects to rate their charitable involvement in everyday life, he found that those with the highest ratings also had the highest level of activity in the prefrontal cortex.

Okay. Now we see that the findings are not so clear cut. The subjects got the same 'reward' whether they were altruistic or selfish. Hardly a useful finding.

The last paragraph also talks about how people who donated OR opposed donation at a cost to themselves got the same response. Considering the 'charities' for the study were ones that supported or opposed hot button issues like abortion and the death penalty, this is hardly surprising.

You could probably restate the findings of the research as 'Scientists find out that people get a brain response when they spend money on causes they already believe are important'. Those causes could be believed important for selfish or unselfish reasons...the study didn't control for that at all.

All in all, the only use for this study was to encourage the materialist believers who don't bother to think through what things really mean.

One last thing, on the prolife cause, from the Washington Post article
Hauser said that if his theory is right, there should be aspects of morality that are automatic and unconscious -- just like language. People would reach moral conclusions in the same way they construct a sentence without having been trained in linguistics. Hauser said the idea could shed light on contradictions in common moral stances.

U.S. law, for example, distinguishes between a physician who removes a feeding tube from a terminally ill patient and a physician who administers a drug to kill the patient.

Hauser said the only difference is that the second scenario is more emotionally charged -- and therefore feels like a different moral problem, when it really is not: "In the end, the doctor's intent is to reduce suffering, and that is as true in active as in passive euthanasia, and either way the patient is dead."
Hauser just agreed with all pro-lifers who argue that there is no logical difference. I bet you he is not pro-life though.
What is worse than consensus science?
Andrew Bolt has done a great public service. In commenting on how the ABC is going to air 'The Great Global Warming Swindle', he has put together a good list of the many scientists who doubt that global warming is significantly caused by man.

Not surprisingly, the moonbat leftoids that frequent the payroll at the ABC are besides themselves with angst. It seems a shock to them that anyone would consider even showing both sides of the issue.

You would think that the moonbats, after reading Andrew's article, would admit that the thousands of climate scientists who doubt man-made global warming mean there was no consensus and the question was not settled scientifically. But no! Instead, the 'reality based' community pretend that because many scientific organisations support the hypothesis of man-made global warming, there was a consensus and the question settled.

Here is the rub. When the man-made global warming alarmists get three times as many signatures from climate scientists than Andrew has listed, perhaps then we can think the debate is over. Until then, claiming the debate is over just shows them to be dishonest and gives us even more reason to doubt their claims.

The list Andrew has compiled is below for those who are interested....

1. Scientists who doubt there’s a scientific “consensus” that we face dangerous man-made global warming.

Prof John Christy, IPCC lead author and head of Alabama’s Earth System Science Centre: “I’ve often heard it said that there is a consensus of thousands of scientists (who say) humans are causing a catastrophic change to the climate system. Well, I am one scientist, and there are many, that simply think that is not true.”

Prof Charles Wax, Mississippi state climatologist: “There isn’t a consensus among scientists.”

Dr Roy Spencer, formerly NASA’s senior climate scientist: “The only consensus I’m aware of is that it’s warmed in the last century.”

Prof emeritus Joel Kauffman, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia: “(M)any professors of climate science realise that carbon dioxide generated by human activity has caused little or no global warming.”

2. IPCC scientists who doubt even the IPCC, said to represent 2500 scientists who all believe in dangerous man-made warming.

Prof Yuri Izrael, IPCC vice-chairman: “There is no serious threat to the climate.”

Richard Lindzen, former IPCC lead author and meteorology professor at MIT: “There is no substantive basis for predictions of sizeable global warming due to observed increases in minor greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons.”

Dr Vincent Gray, IPCC reviewer: “The continued fairly unchanging warm weather since 1998 shows no signs of increasing, and is probably influenced by changes in the sun.”

Dr Christopher Landsea, former IPCC author and hurricane expert: “It is beyond me why my (IPCC) colleagues would utilise the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming . . . I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.”

3. Petitions of scientists who doubt the faith.

A 2006 letter to Canada’s Prime Minister signed by 60 experts in climate-related fields: “ ‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified.”

The Oregon Petition of Dr Frederick Seitz, US National Academy of Sciences past president, with the verified signatures of 17,800 scientists and technicians, including 2600 climate scientists: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The 2005 Leipzig Petition of Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental science at Virginia University, and signed by about 80 prominent scientists and academics: “(W)e cannot subscribe to the politically inspired world view that envisages climate catastrophes and calls for hasty actions.”

4. Experts who once believed but now doubt.

Prof Nir Shaviv, Hebrew University astrophysicist: “Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming.”

Dr David Bellamy, famed green activist: “Global warming is largely a natural phenomenon.”

Dr Reid Bryson, top climatologist and founding chairman of Wisconsin University’s meteorology department: Temperatures are rising “because we’re coming out of the little ice age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air”.

Prof Tim Patterson, Carleton University paleo-climatologist: “The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles.”

Prof Emeritus Jan Veizer, Ottawa University environmental geochemist: “The past record strongly favours the solar/cosmic alternative (to human gases) as the principal climate driver.”

5. Local doubters.

Bob Carter, research professor at James Cook University: “That 20th century warming - the most recent of many previous warm phases of similar or greater magnitude - was dangerous or human-caused, or even that the warming has continued after 1998, all yet remain to be demonstrated.”

William Kininmonth, former National Climate Centre head: “(A)larmist predictions have no sound basis.”

Dr David Evans, former plant modeller and climate accountant at the Australian Greenhouse Office: “(N)ew evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now sceptical.”

Ian Plimer, professor of mining geology at Adelaide University: Blaming humans is “pseudo-science”.

6. Interesting doubters.
Prof Antonio Zichichi, World Federation of Scientists president: Plausible “man is not to blame”.

Prof Edward Wegman, who led an inquiry for a US Congressional committee to check IPCC statistics: “The assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported.”

The late Roger Revelle, the professor Al Gore says first warned him of warming: The science is “too uncertain to justify drastic action”.

Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of Russia’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory: “Solar irradiance began to drop in the 1990s, and a minimum will be reached by approximately 2040. It will cause a steep cooling of the climate on earth in 15 to 20 years.”

There’s dozens more, but I’ve run out of space. Now count: How many has the ABC let speak? Why so few?


The Six Day War
The 40 year anniversary of the Six Day War waged against Israel by the Arab world is almost here. Charles Krauthammer has a good article outlining some of the history of the war, and why Israel is reluctant to simply return to the territorial boundaries it had before this unprovoked attack.
that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel's 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of the Six Day War -- the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza -- in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez War, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.

It is also of note that he mentions that the USSR, who had been trying to turn the Muslim world against the west and its allies (including Israel), fed false information to Egypt which directly led to the war.

For more information check out the Wikipedia entry on the Six Day War. Wikipedia of course refers to 'Palestinian Refugees', which is actually a little misleading, as
It is important to note however that Palestine was never an independant nation and that Palestinians refers to those people who claim residency in that area. Prior to 1948, they were immigrants of Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. After 1948, those Arab countries refused to allow them to return forcing them into lives as refugees.
Yep. People immigrated, attacked Israel. Got defeated and their Arab friends refused to take them back (How often has the west been derided for it's refugee policies?).

Reading a bit more about the history also has uncovered other crumbs of interesting information. "4,255,120 Palestinians are registered as refugees with UNRWA; this number includes the descendants of refugees from the 1948 war, but excludes those who have emigrated to areas outside of the UNRWA's remit." Curiously, in 1947, the UN records that only around 800,000 arabs where in the Palestinian territories. Over 40 years, this is a population increase of around 4.5% a year. Pretty impressive for an 'oppressed' people.

The Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt in 1948 (who also disbanded the Palestinian Government in 1959) and so Egypt only wanted the area returned to the Palestines after they lost control of the region.

The West Bank was ruled by Jordan from 1948 and they only demanded it's return to the Palestinian's when they lost control of the region to Israel.

It seems a key goal of the Arab world was to marginalise the Palestinian people so that the Arab world could divvy up the areas for their own rule. They didn't want a Palestinian state. They wanted the land for themselves. Ironically this means that if Israel had been destroyed in any of the wars waged against it by the Arabs, there would still not be a Palestinian state.
Humanism and Morals
Last night, the 'Spoonman' on Triple M, a secular humanist, was defending the claim that he could have a solid moral foundation without the bible. I'd have to agree. In fact the bible is not a solid foundation for morality. It may be a revelation of moral rules, but a foundation is a different thing. The foundation must be the source of the moral rules, not the moral rules themselves.

Spoonman's defense of his own moral foundation amounted to empathy. Empathy is a feeling, 'the understanding and entering into another's feelings '. As such, Spoonman's morality is based on a subjective feeling. Each person shares a different level of empathy for a different range of objects and situations. Some people empathise very strongly with cats, some with dogs, some with babies, some with girls. This is a simple and obvious observation.

This opens up three questions

1) how can someone, using Spoonman's moral foundation, criticise or argue with another persons morality? Jeffrey Dalhmer, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Lenin. All these people thought they were acting morally, and their empathy was obviously vastly different to the Spoonman's. But if subjective feelings are the foundation, then there is no rational reason to say one person's actions are moral and another's are not.

2) Why is it that empathy is the foundation for morality? Why not other feelings?

3) If Spoonman's moral foundation is a feeling, it is not a rational morality, but an emotional one. How then can Spoonman criticise other people for their own irrationality, as he did on the show?

Finally, Spoonman seemed to think that his atheistic, secular humanist morality was superior to any religious morality, yet atheistic morality has been responsible for more deaths is less time than theistic morality.
Public Education - A Totalitarian Tool
The problem with government controlled education is that it is used to indoctrinate students into thinking how the education policy makers want them to think. Since John Dewey and his other secular humanist friends jumped on the communist band wagon, we have seen public education used to further the left wing moonbats ends. Indeed, Marx and others realised the absolute necessity of stopping families from educating their children with their own beliefs in order to create their new world order. (Consider Sex-education, removal of prayer and Christianity as some prime examples)

Recent news stories highlight that this trend has not stopped, even though communism and socialism have caused the deaths of 200 million people in a century. One example is the recent conference of Math teachers in New York (Boy, what a fun week that would of been) who proudly discussed how anti-capitalist, socialist agenda's were spread to their unsuspecting students. Another example is a teacher showing 'Brokeback Mountain' to her class.

It isn't about teaching Math or Science. It is about controlling what people think.
Global Warming News Lies
The Australian sources a story from which gets it from the AFP, which uses a report by warmongers Christian Aid, a British aid organisation. From the outset, it sounds like a bad game of Chinese whispers. Of course, the headline of the article is 'Global Warming to displace one billion'. also carries the same headline.

It sounds staggering. Global Warming is obviously a massive issue we should all focus on. Did you want to buy some swamp land?

Even reading the article, it is clear that the report doesn't say that 1 billion people will be displaced by global warming. From the article...
"We estimate that over the years between now and 2050, a total of one billion people will be displaced from their homes," the 52-page report said.
So far so good, but read the next paragraph and the lying, fearmongering headline becomes clear.
The figures include 645 million who will migrate because of development projects, and 250 million because of phenomena linked to global warming like floods, droughts and famine, it said. now the figure is only 250 million. Then of course, you have to look at those 250 million due to 'phenomena linked to global warming'. Floods and droughts and famine....Why, I remember before global warming we didn't have ANY of those things. It must be global warming.

Stupid dishonest alarmist nonsense. Some call it journalism.
Warmening Hysteria comes to Aussie Schools
Janet Albrechtsen has an article outlining how her daughter was force fed Al Gore's reality challenged mockumentary 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Sure, they complain about Intelligent Design being taught in schools, but Al Gore's wild exaggerations gets a tick?

Of course, Janet also laments Sheryl Crow's suggestion that we only use 1 sheet of toilet paper per visit. Presumably Sheryl will be creating her own mockumentary called 'An Incontinent Truth'.
Wierd News Lag for Mars Global Warming
The Times Online in the UK finally posts a story about how Mars is experiencing climate change. Of course, this story broke several weeks ago.

Tim Blair also links to a former warmenologist who has turned skeptic, Dr David Evans. Read his post, AND the comments for a good discussion of the global warming debate (Yes...there is a debate).

Of special note is that he speculates in the comments that other mechanisms may also be responsible for some of the temperature changes, which one warm-mongerer suggests MUST be the fault of carbon dioxide.

What possible mechanisms? Tim Blair to the rescue again. A darker surface causes more heat to be absorbed and can drive global warming. And what happens with global warming? The snow melts...all that white snowy goodness disappears and the surface of the planet warms even more. Is this the feedback loop we are looking for? Possibly...I doubt they factored that into their 'computer models' though.

As Dr David Evans said..."arguments based on models, when those models are not presented to me in their entirety, are opaque due to their incompleteness. They do not sway me in the slightest; they are just arguments by authority." Remember that when someone tells you that a 'computer model' is proof of their view.

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