Friday, April 16, 2010

Dawkins on Hysteria

"Priestly abuse of children is nowadays taken to mean sexual abuse, and I feel obliged, at the outset, to get the whole matter of sexual abuse into proportion and out of the way. Others have noted that we live in a time of hysteria about paedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witch-hunts of 1692… All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defence, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).

"The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium. For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can’t help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America… We should be aware of the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown great courage, in the face of spiteful vested interests, in demonstrating how easy it is for people to concoct memories that are entirely false but which seem, to the victim, every bit as real as true memories. This is so counter-intuitive that juries are easily swayed by sincere but false testimony from witnesses."

- The God Delusion, pps 315-16

Monday, April 05, 2010

Not really saying anything

In the beginning I was pretty clueless, and believed everything I read.
Then 5 years ago I got weaned off Newsweek.
4 years ago I stopped reading Time.
1 year ago The Economist, it too bust my bullshit geiger counter.
and now The Straits Times is treating my church like a piñada.

Who can I trust now?
Everyone has a side in the story. But not everyone has their leverage.
If a lobby is influential enough, even their most trivial causes can rally support.
You cannot count on the media to present the most conscientiously-pure account on anything.
And if they cannot give you the untainted view,
you have to give yourself the power.
The price to pay is your opinion over those ever-faraway issues
Where the myriad messengers throng between you and the truth.

Because it is better to have power over seaworthy opinions
Than to be adrift and swaying in the high waves of contention
And to drown in a sea of no faith.
What sage am I to concern myself with things that do not touch me?
God alone judges those who need to be judged.

Let facts be your wood, and verification your varnish;
Let faith be your sails and wind;
Let everything else on earth be put to question;
Let questions be the waters to set your vessel afloat;
Let there be enough questions to fill the world's oceans.