Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shower-Nuts Repeat Their Lines In Colorado

Out in Colorado the legislature has just passed a new law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and they're waiting for the governor to sign it. In the meantime, you might remember that Focus on the Family is in that state. They're the ones that are so big they have to have their own zipcode in Colorado Springs. They produced a radio ad, trying to fight this bill, and it is fascinating to see that they would try to use the strategy that our local shower-nuts used to get people to sign their petitions.

Listen to it here:


Here's the transcript of this ad:
Kid's voice: "Mom..."

Announcer: If the Colorado legislature has its way...

Kid: "A man in a dress came into the girl's restroom at school today."

Announcer: We could all be dealing with a new type of predator.

Concerned mom's voice: "Honey, there was a man in the women's showers at the gym today, and the management said it was, it was Colorado law."

Announcer: And instead of our kids worrying about class work, they'll be worrying about who might be in the restroom with them.

Kid: "No way I'm going in there (school bell), I'd rather wait all day if a guy's in there."

Announcer: Our children must be protected from predators, but if Governor Ritter won't veto Senate Bill 200, all public restrooms, including those in our public schools, will be open to anyone of any sex. Colorado's Democrat-controlled legislature has already passed this bill, but Governor Ritter still has time to veto it. Call him now and ask him to protect our kids and veto SB 200. Call 303-866-2471. 303-866-2471.

Brought to by Focus on the Family Action and Colorado Family Action.

Love the way they mention the "Democrat-controlled legislature."

You should know that, just like in our county, the law doesn't say anything at all about the use of restrooms.

A local radio station out there got a quote from the governor's office:
Governor Ritter's Spokesman Evan Dreyer also gave us this statement:

"The intent of this particular anti-discrimination bill is to update existing laws and bring consistency across the board to a whole host of areas, including age, race, marital status, religion and sexual orientation. It appears Focus on the Family is misconstruing this bill and waging a campaign based on fear and that's disappointing. It seems to represent the politics of yesterday." Radio Ad Causes Anti-Discrimination Controversy

Imagine that, a Family Blah Blah group misconstruing something.

Anyway, it sounds like the governor's planning to sign it. You wonder why they're going to the trouble. Governor Ritter is not even up for re-election this year.

You also have to wonder, watching this, do they learn from each other, or is there some central talking-points-generator somewhere that sends them all the script? This is exactly the same thing the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever said here in Montgomery County, when they were trying to get up momentum against our gender identity nondiscrimination law. Word for word. So did our local yayhoos dream this up, and then the Colorado yayhoos saw that it worked and picked it up? Or did some policy committee in some Family Blah Blah office spend weeks in meetings trying to dream up the best way to insult gay and transgender people without actually, you know, saying anything. Like, in this article:
"We are not in favor of discrimination against homosexuals in public accommodations," says [Focus on the Family Action Judicial Analyst Bruce] Hausknecht. "We don't believe that people should be discriminated against in restaurants, hotels, trains on the basis of their sexual orientation."

There. You see how nice they are?

53 Comments:

Blogger Emproph said...

"We don't believe that people should be discriminated against in restaurants, hotels, trains on the basis of their sexual orientation."

Wh’hell, as long as I, the only pro-gay person sitting here on this public park bench, next to the only public drinking fountain in sight, am still allowed to travel by rail, to places of public accommodation, on the “basis” of my sexual orientation alone, then it shouldn’t be much longer before folk like me are also allowed to read and write.

I can only see this new found privilege of rail travel as a good thing.

May 23, 2008 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

So Focus on the Family Action believes LGBT people should be allowed to eat in restaurants, stay at hotels, and ride trains but should not be allowed to use public bathrooms?

That's not very nice.

May 23, 2008 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Let's keep FOTF and the Showernuts away from the Rockville parade on Monday- there are at least three groups which have men wearing kilts.

May 23, 2008 9:04 AM  
Blogger Emproph said...

Not to mention all the women wearing pants!

May 23, 2008 9:28 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Jim asked:

“You also have to wonder, watching this, do they learn from each other, or is there some central talking-points-generator somewhere that sends them all the script?”

Where have you been Jim? All this stuff comes from the Society for the Protection of Everything Religious, Theological, and Really Evangelical. (SPECTRE) Wikipedia has some information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPECTRE but as is sometimes the case with this site, not all of the information is correct. SPECTRE unfortunately is NOT fictional, and NOT just confined to James Bond films and novels. As for the global reach and potential damage they can do to society, that’s all true. I’m not sure about the submarine-swallowing super tankers though – reconnaissance has been inconclusive on that one.

Have a nice day,

Cynthia

May 23, 2008 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

Focus on the Family truly is not pro-family if they support tearing families that happen to be headed by same-sex parents apart.

Once again, another example of why the Christian Right is WRONG.

May 23, 2008 10:22 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

You also have to wonder, watching this, do they learn from each other, or is there some central talking-points-generator somewhere that sends them all the script?

Jim, Jim, Jim...sigh...for someone that is so smart, you do strike me as someone that is just a little "not with it". (Just so you know, I had to consciously suppress my laugh reflex because I now work in an office with many cubicles and co-workers attempting to get work done).

Yes, Jim, the "Religious Right" has a central clearinghouse for such agenda items...just as the ACLU, People for the American Way, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State do. Actually I suspect they all monitor each other and then adopt/adapt those points will score them the most political mileage.

This is exactly the same thing the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever said here in Montgomery County, when they were trying to get up momentum against our gender identity nondiscrimination law. Word for word.

Goodness, what can I say? Great minds think alike?

So did our local yayhoos dream this up, and then the Colorado yayhoos saw that it worked and picked it up?

Ok...Jim, if you are going to insult those with whom you have political disagreements you can at least get the spelling of such a simple name correct. The correct spelling is YAHOO, like in the website Yahoo!, but of much older origin (good grief, even the comment section of this blog picks up on it as a spelling error by underlining it in red). Wikipedia has a good thumbnail sketch on this most loathsome a creature,

A Yahoo is a legendary being in the novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift.

Swift describes the Yahoos as vile and savage creatures, filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver, who finds the calm and rational society of intelligent horses the Houyhnhnms far preferable. The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with "pretty stones" they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term "Yahoo" has become synonymous with "cretin," "dinosaur," and/or "Neanderthal."

American frontiersman Daniel Boone claimed that he killed a hairy giant that he called a Yahoo. Boone often used terms from Gulliver's Travels.


So, I guess I don't mind being called a "Yahoo" (if that is what it takes to help marriage from being redefined to mean something it does not) provided that it is spelled correctly, and that the person using the term as an epithet knows something of the origin of this character.

Now, if all of you would like a read and look of a news story buzzing around Denver, perhaps this might interest you,

Ritter's son hosts bashes at Governor's Mansion
Photos find their way to the Web and political circles.


go to the Denver Post online for details (and yes, if I wanted to be partisan I would say that his son is acting like a bit of a Yahoo, but then again, doesn't every other college student?).

Or did some policy committee in some Family Blah Blah office spend weeks in meetings trying to dream up the best way to insult gay and transgender people without actually, you know, saying anything.

Well, there is the principle of incrementalism (something I first learned as a student of politics), whereby it is understood that some legislation is too radical, expansive, far reaching...call it whatever you will...and the idea is to "bite off a small piece" with every intent of coming back later for more. Please Jim, tell me that living in and around so political a town as DC that you have never been introduced to this idea?

Connected to incrementalism is the idea of mission creep, where the original idea gets lost in so many other agendas. Here is an example of that,

The Denver Post

Colorado Voices column

Gay pride needs new direction
By Keith W. Swain

Sunday - June 24, 2007

and this gives those of you enough information to look it up yourself (which is still accessible in their archives...I just checked).

And I thought I lived in the hinterlands...

May 23, 2008 2:42 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Orin, Orin, Orin...for someone with relatively little intelligence you certainly are "not with it".

You claim to want the best for LGBTs but then you support this sort of hateful dishonesty as ""Great" minds thinking alike". Not great minds Orin, dishonest hateful minds Orin.

May 23, 2008 4:29 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Priya Lynn prattles on about something,

Orin, Orin, Orin...for someone with relatively little intelligence you certainly are "not with it".

Two words: grow up.

You claim to want the best for LGBTs but then you support this sort of hateful dishonesty as ""Great" minds thinking alike". Not great minds Orin, dishonest hateful minds Orin.

Did I? LOL...oh, my, then I guess I was in error. Nope, I want what is best for everyone, even that percentage that numbers between 3 to 5 (at best by some estimates) percent, but keep in mind that being the communitarian that I am I am not willing to hold hostage the other 95% for the sake of that 5%.

And, truth be told, the "great minds think alike" comment was meant in jest as the context makes fairly clear...though I guess for those like yourself that is not so clear.

May 23, 2008 7:16 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 23, 2008 7:20 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Orin, I grew up 30 years ago, we're still waiting for you to do so. Giving LGBTs equal rights in no way holds straights hostage to anything. Only a child like you would think so.

The gay couple down the street getting married in no way deprives your marriage of anything, but like the selfish being you are you'd force a huge deprivation on gay couples to give you a cheap psychological thrill. Protecting LGBTs from discrimination in no way deprives you of anything yet you'd deprive LGBTS of the right to not be fired for anything other than their ability to do the job, or the right to housing or a safe bathroom. You are not a communitarian, you are a bigot.

May 23, 2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Priya Lynn writes,

Orin, I grew up 30 years ago, we're still waiting for you to do so.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but..." oh, you know the rest.

Giving LGBTs equal rights in no way holds straights hostage to anything. Only a child like you would think so.

My, you must be new to this forum...even regulars like Dana Byer, Robert and others that vehemently disagree with me know that I am not a child. I hold contrary views to the prevailing cultural fashions of our day and I have a sense of how to defend those views. Can you defend your position on anything other than a pavlovian reflexive resort to an appeal to absolute equality? Have you ever heard the expression "treat equals equally, and unequals unequally"? can you tell me the source of that idea? (and no cheating with "google")

The gay couple down the street getting married in no way deprives your marriage of anything, but like the selfish being you are you'd force a huge deprivation on gay couples to give you a cheap psychological thrill.

If I looked at MY marriage as the BE ALL and END ALL then you would be correct. In fact, the day I was married that was pretty much how I thought...then again, I was in my mid to late 20's and had not yet experienced being a parent, so yes, I did think it was all about me.

Actually I feel a constant presence of tension over the personal friendships I have with gays and lesbians and my opposition to same-sex "marriage". Truth be told it does not thrill me as I witness the seriousness of their love, and by way of comparison the relative lack of seriousness on the part of so many heterosexuals to the institution of marriage. However, I choose my values, and from those values I direct my feelings; most these days have it the opposite way around.

Protecting LGBTs from discrimination in no way deprives you of anything yet you'd deprive LGBTS of the right to not be fired for anything other than their ability to do the job, or the right to housing or a safe bathroom. You are not a communitarian, you are a bigot.

Since I *support* laws banning discrimination in employment and in housing on the basis of sexual orientation (with a limited religious exemption clause to honor the letter and spirit of the First Amendment), I am not sure where your argument with me is to be found. Oh, yes, I do not support same-sex "marriage" because I have an understanding of what marriage *IS* and what marriage *IS NOT*. Yes, there are private purposes to marriage, but there are also public purposes to marriage and I will not stand idly by while they are tossed out to the curb as little more than last week's trash.

And I am willing to endure the petty name calling of a provincial like you. If you would like to carry on this dialogue you have to bring more to the table than a constant repetition on the theme of radical egalitarianism...ok?

May 24, 2008 1:38 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Orin,

I have never been "vehemently" in disagreement with you. Strongly, yes, and firmly. Maybe even vociferously, but not vehemently.

May 24, 2008 8:23 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Dana writes,

Orin,

I have never been "vehemently" in disagreement with you. Strongly, yes, and firmly. Maybe even vociferously, but not vehemently.


I stand corrected - thank you.

May 24, 2008 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Orin complained about "a constant repetition on the theme of radical egalitarianism..."

America was founded on "the theme of radical egalitarianism." Remember this statement in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This idea of equality was radical in its time and forms the basis of American freedom. Each of us has the right to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness.

According to the California Supreme Court, as cited in their recent decision to allow same-sex marriage, the US Supreme Court found in the case of Meyer vs. Nebraska freedom means:

“ ‘[w]ithout doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint, but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of one’s own conscience, and, generally, to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.’ ” (Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d at p. 714, italics added [“to marry” italicized by Perez], quoting Meyer, supra, 262 U.S. 390, 399.) The Perez decision continued: “Marriage is thus something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men.”(Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d at p. 714, italics added.)

Every American should be free to marry the person they love and every married couple should be afforded the same rights to protect their family. One function of the family is to nurture and protect children, and all children deserve the same protection. Too radical for you Orin? Shame on you.

May 24, 2008 9:45 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Orin, in this day and age there is nothing radical about egalitarinism. It is the foundation of all that is good and right and if you don't stand by that you don't stand by what is good and right. That's the problem with you, you think you deserve more than others - that is the heart of evil.

As once again basic logic has gone right over your head let me rephrase:

The gay couple down the street getting married in no way deprives your's or anyone else's marriage of anything, but like the selfish being right wingers like you are you'd force a huge deprivation on gay couples to give you a cheap psychological thrill.

Orin said "Since I *support* laws banning discrimination...I am not sure where your argument with me is to be found."

Aparrently your support changes with the wind. Earlier in this thread you were applauding those who oppose discrimination laws as "Great minds". You may pay lip service at some times to supporting discrimination laws but its apparent that when we get to the real core of you you oppose any advances for LGBTs.

Orin said "Actually I feel a constant presence of tension over the personal friendships I have with gays and lesbians and my opposition to same-sex marriage."


LOL, you're like the bigot saying "some of my best friends are black". I seriously doubt any gays and lesbians you know would characterize their relationship with you as one of friendship.

And now back to an earlier comment Orin the unwise made:

"I want what is best for everyone, even that percentage that numbers between 3 to 5 (at best by some estimates) percent, but keep in mind that being the communitarian that I am I am not willing to hold hostage the other 95% for the sake of that 5%."

That tripe illustrates your basic dishonesty on this issue. Contrary to the way you've framed it it is well known that not all straights (as you claimed) are opposed to gay equality. A large percentage, and in some cases a small majority of straights are in favour of equality for gays so your suggestion that 95% of the population doesn't want to be "held hostage" is really a lie on your part. At best only 10 or 20 percent of the population that is hard core haters would characterize the situation this way and they are totally - dishonest as well - allowing gays to marry in no way deprives any straight couple of anything, the reality is that it is gays who are held hostage to the tyranny of a bigoted slight majority of the population.

Lastly, according to a study by the CDC in 2002 9.8% of men refer to themselves as something other than heterosexual. As many or most gays live in the closet a reasonably intelligent or honest person would know that those 3 to 5 percent figures you quote undercount the actual number of gays.

May 24, 2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

And its hilariously ironic that Orin whines about being called childish when he was the one that first hurled that insult at me. That truly is childish of you Orin.

May 24, 2008 2:27 PM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

Orrin writes:

"Yes, there are private purposes to marriage, but there are also public purposes to marriage and I will not stand idly by while they are tossed out to the curb as little more than last week's trash."

I agree that their are public purposes for marriage. Could you please explain how letting my son and his boyfriend, both in their late 20s, get married would undermine any public purpose of marriage.

May 24, 2008 4:04 PM  
Anonymous dinesh d'souza sample said...

Why are secular liberals so unhappy? This question is provocatively discussed in Arthur Brooks' new book Gross National Happiness. Brooks is a sociologist and statistician at Syracuse University. I am reading his book while vacationing with my lovely wife on the beautiful island of Santorini. So it's natural for me, watching the most beautiful sunsets in the world, martini in hand, to think about the question of happiness.

Brooks' book is full of interesting data. We learn, for instance, that money does buy happiness, but only upto a point. Poor people and poor countries are unhappy, and by the self-description of the people involved. So the movement from grinding poverty to the comfortable middle-class brings a huge gain in happiness. But interestingly economic improvement at this point brings diminishing marginal returns. This is not to say that rich people aren't happier: they are. But not by very much.

Brooks also shows that, in his own words, "people who say they are conservative or very conservative are nearly twice as likely to say they are very happy than are people who call themselves liberal or very liberal. Conservatives are much less likely to say they are dissatisfied with themselves, that they are inclined to feel like a failure, or to be pessimistic about their future." Conservatives' mental health is far better than that of liberals.

Equally fascinating, Brooks notes that "faith is an incredible predictor, and cause, of happiness. Religious people of all faiths are much, much happier on average than secularists." Specifically, 43 percent of those who attend church weekly or more call themselves "very happy," versus 23 percent who attend seldom or never. Observant Jews and Christians are by Brooks' measure the happiest people in America.

So why are secular liberals in general so miserable? I offer two reasons. The first is that liberals are political utopians. They consider human nature to be wonderful, and they expect freedom to be used wonderfully well. So they are always bitterly disappointed when they discover that this is not the case. Conservatives, by contrast, have a dimmer view of human nature. So their expectations are more modest. When things don't turn out half-badly, conservatives are pleasantly surprised. They are happier because it takes less to make them happier.

It's not too hard to figure out why religious people are happier. Belief in God gives people a powerful sense of higher purpose in life. It assures people that the universe is in the benign hands of a omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate higher power. It offers people a code for how to live. It gives us a reason to hope in cosmic justice, which is better than the imperfect justice of our terrestrial world.

By contrast, secular people have little to hope for. They are sure that they came from nowhere--the chance product of random mutation and natural selection--and are going nowhere. They know that terrible things happen, and they don't believe there is any purpose in this. No wonder that secular people have so few children: they have much less reason than religious people to believe in the future.

So why is an atheist like Richard Dawkins so frequently wearing a conspitated scowl? And why am I usually smiling? Some may attribute these differences to our genetic temperaments. Others may put it down to the fact that I live in sunny California, eating healthy nouvelle cuisine and going on walking tours in Santorini. Dawkins, by contrast, lives in dank, rainy England and eats abominable English food. ("May I offer you some more kidney pie, Professor Dawkins? It's somewhat bland, I know, but perhaps it will work as a laxative.")

But Arthur Brooks would probably say that our temperaments are also the consequences of two very different worldviews, one producing the wholesome optimism of What's So Great About Christianity, the other the angry bitterness of The God Delusion. Read Brooks' new book yourself to see if he's right.

May 24, 2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron, what happened, you said you weren't going to post anymore? Did you realize you weren't breaking anyone's heart by witholding your hate filled rants?

May 24, 2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Is it Red Baron (if Priya Lynn is to be trusted) that writes,

Why are secular liberals so unhappy? This question is provocatively discussed in Arthur Brooks' new book Gross National Happiness

Thanks for the heads up notice on that...I have Brooks last book (a book that makes an open and shut case for what I have long wondered about, are conservative religious folks more generous and charitable with their money and time than their secular liberal counterpart? Brooks says yes, and has the facts to back up that assertion), but I have been side-lined by so many other distractions so it sits in a huge "to be read" pile....sigh. I will have to read his first book which I have before thinking of adding yet another to "the pile".

And this heads up on a new book out brings the "best" out of the likes of Priya Lynn,

Red Baron, what happened, you said you weren't going to post anymore? Did you realize you weren't breaking anyone's heart by witholding your hate filled rants?

Wow...."hate filled rants"? Well, not having followed this forum for a while (work, school, changing jobs...heck, LIFE...has kept me busy enough) and then now reading this posting, I can only imagine that he/she has been filling in in my place. Hate to burst your bubble, but some of us religious conservatives are not content to frequent only our own forums (forums that become pretty much like this one - echo chambers for a particular weltanschauung), and are capable enough to defend our ideas with something more than one and two word put downs.

Here is another book to consider...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/24beliefs.html

It would appear that Austin Dacey is concerned about secular liberalism enough to "speak the truth in love" to his fellow compatriots, and the Uber secularist Prometheus Books is the publisher. Problem appears to be (and this is just from a cursory glance and after having had two cups of yummy Papua New Guinea coffee) that folks like Richard John Neuhaus are also reading this book. I could tell Priya Lynn that is because some (though not all) conservatives do take ideas very seriously, but that would be a waste of time now, wouldn't it Priya? Sigh...

And what is this author's reaction to such news? “I’d take the risk,” Mr. Dacey said in an interview. Now there is a book and an author that will not only make the short list (as opposed to "the pile"), but that I can admire, even if I don't agree with a thing he writes.

Finally, David Fishback, rather disingenuously (my opinion, I know) asks,

I agree that their are public purposes for marriage. Could you please explain how letting my son and his boyfriend, both in their late 20s, get married would undermine any public purpose of marriage.

I have done so to date on this forum...BUT I have some hill training to do on my bicycle (I am riding in the 2008 Denver Post Ride the Rockies bicycle tour next month) and it cannot be begged off any longer...not to mention that my 14 year old just came down and wants to hop on the laptop here in the kitchen.

What I will say is simply this for now: just as heterosexuals weakened marriage by accepting "no fault" divorce and the culture it strengthened, same-sex "marriage" will further that culture along to its logical conclusion. The irony is that in homosexuals pushing this thru, the victory they achieve will be a hollow one in the long term. Pity...

May 25, 2008 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

So Dinesh would have us belive that conservatives, rich people, Jews and Christians are happier than other people. Does he mean better? What about Dartmouth grads?

rrjr

May 25, 2008 10:50 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

A couple of posts have brought up to the topic of happiness, in particular that of “liberal” versus “conservative” happiness. I myself have often wondered how particularly restrictive religious groups (the most obvious examples we might be familiar with are Amish, Mennonite, and Mormon) given how many restrictions are placed on their behavior. To a lesser extent, the same question might be asked of those who consider themselves devoutly religious, but more “mainstream” in terms of their daily work and social habits.

This reminded me of an article pointed out to me some months ago, but which I was unable to find. However, I did find a better-referenced publication on the same topic.

http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Choice%20Chapter.Revised.pdf

It’s called “Doing Better but Feeling Worse: The Paradox of Choice” It’s a bit long (39 pages, including 7 pages of bibliography), but examines an number of issues regarding happiness as it relates to the number of choices we have, and whether or not we’re the type of person who tends to be a “maximizer” or “satisficer” in our decision making.

It does not cover “liberal,” “conservative,” “secular” or “religious” biases in being a “maximizer” or “satisficer” or whether or not any of these groups tend to be happier than others. To me it begs the question of whether or not D’Souza or Brooks are aware of this research, and whether or not it explains Brooks’ results.

To me it also brings up the question “are religious conservatives somehow sub-consciously aware that their limited choices may be the source of their happiness and they somehow construe this to believe that if they limit other peoples’ choices, those people will be happier as well?” Of course an awareness like this (sub-conscious or not) isn’t necessary to “spread the word” if your religion includes a predilection for proselytization – behavior limited “happiness” may follow along as a side-effect.

Going to the extreme of limiting choices for everyone eventually gets you to totalitarianism – obviously not a happy choice for most people.

These studies of happiness and choices make we wonder if the political battles we face here regarding choices in who we marry, as well as global battles involving certain fundamentalist Islamic sects striving to “turn back the clock” on progress aren’t rooted in a fear of change, and the need to control a society in a way that limits choices to those they can understand and accept. Obviously, fewer choices would make THEM happier, and the cost of limiting the choices to other people doesn’t seem to be concern.

On a tangential note, another ingredient to happiness? Paying your taxes: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/06/15/taxes-study.html

On a personal level, some folks could be wondering how someone referred to by the CRG as “mentally ill,” a “guy in a dress,” “confused” and a “guy who thinks he’s a girl” could ever possibly be happy – especially since I’m apparently one of those “liberals” advocating gay marriage.

Could it be that my surgery severely limited my choices in “genderhood,” and even if I wanted to go back to trying to be a guy, there really isn’t much of a chance of doing that? Yes, I could try spending another $100 grand or so trying to get back with a reconstructed but non-operational anatomy, cut my hair, have facial re-construction surgery (again) and try to act like a man, and be depressed. But why? Especially when I’m so much happier now?

I advocate for gay marriage not because I’m particularly philanthropic, not because I’m unhappy, but for my own personal self-interest. It’s simply because some people can’t seem to figure out what gender I am – and since THEY can’t figure it out, they somehow think that –I– must be confused. I figure if both gay and straight marriages are acceptable, then my marriage, whether you think I’m a man or a woman, will be legally acceptable as well. (Oh, and for the record, people’s gender confusion doesn’t come from meeting me, working with me, talking with me or looking at me – I’m treated as a woman wherever I go. The confusion comes if they somehow find out about my medical history – and often the response from women is something like “oh my god, I don’t see how you could have ever been a guy!”)

O.K., I’ve probably done enough rambling for one day. If you are a Veteran, or have one as a relative or friend, I hope you get the chance to spend some quality time with them this weekend and share your warmth and love.

Peace,

Cynthia

May 25, 2008 3:16 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Oops, I missed a phrase in my first paragraph. It should have read:

"I myself have often wondered how particularly restrictive religious groups (the most obvious examples we might be familiar with are Amish, Mennonite, and Mormon) *could be happy* given how many restrictions are placed on their behavior."

Sorry for any confusion.

Cynthia

May 25, 2008 3:22 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Roberts writes,

So Dinesh would have us belive that conservatives, rich people, Jews and Christians are happier than other people. Does he mean better? What about Dartmouth grads?

Good question...

My sense of Mr. D'Souza is that he is quite proud of his accomplishments, though to be honest the only book he has written that I think is of any enduring value is his first, _Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Class on Campus_. Since that time I think he has been resting on his "laurels".

Still the question remains: is a conservative happier than a liberal? I think the observation that conservatives set their expectations low with regards to human nature leads to fewer disappointments.

May 25, 2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.salon.com/comics/opus/2008/05/25/opus/index.html

May 26, 2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

That could very well be. New immigrants confronted with the choices in a supermarket or hardware store are often become flummoxed and depressed.

Then again, I recall a trip to the Soviet Union where a hardware store one type of nail, and that was it.

I would take the former, though there must be some point when enough "new and improved" is enough.

That doesn't explain, however, all the hatred and fear that motivates so many fundamentalist Christians and Muslims these days. Those are not exactly what you call happy people.

May 26, 2008 9:24 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Dana noted:

“That doesn't explain, however, all the hatred and fear that motivates so many fundamentalist Christians and Muslims these days. Those are not exactly what you call happy people.”

True. I haven’t figured that one out yet. However, I may have stumbled across why so many of them are clamoring for a religious exemption. Can you imagine if Eddie Izzard were hired to teach Sunday school? (Warning: Contains adult language.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ope-1Zb5t-k&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XJfRzNOJNE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFdmG-TRxzE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t8cpH6AbwQ

Or as a history teacher?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6omQ5JjjLsE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mu02xUgE4k&feature=related

It should be pretty obvious how much damage an “executive transvestite” can cause.

;)

Peace,

Cynthia

May 26, 2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 26, 2008 3:17 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 26, 2008 3:18 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Now orin, I know you love to change the subject when you're asked about details of your bigotry, but how about you answer David Fishback's question (and no you haven't done so on this forum anymore than you've explained how gay couples gettimg married keeps men and women apart):

"Could you please explain how letting my son and his boyfriend, both in their late 20s, get married would undermine any public purpose of marriage.".

And keep in mind that the public is made up of individuals, without individuals there is no public and there are no individual marriages that are deprived of anything by a gay couple getting married.

Keep the nebulous dodges to yourself, those aren't explanations.

May 26, 2008 3:27 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Really though Orin, the excuses don't get any more lame than "I explained that before". If you had you wouldn't be afraid to explain it again. People only make that excuse when they have no response.

May 26, 2008 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For an answer to Dr. Fishback's question, and others, read articles by John McKeller, a well-known homosexual and founder of Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism (HOPE). He's an amazing person.

May 26, 2008 5:59 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Go away Red Baron, you promised us you wouldn't be posting anymore. If you can't answer that question after having read this book obviously you didn't get any such answer.

May 26, 2008 6:32 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Priya Lynn types,

Really though Orin, the excuses don't get any more lame than "I explained that before". If you had you wouldn't be afraid to explain it again. People only make that excuse when they have no response.

How is this for starters?

http://www.teachthefacts.org
/2005/12/two-no-nos.html

though it is primarily of the mortal fear the LDS Church has of having no excuse for re-embracing "the Principle", it does touch on one reason.

And here you can read Dr. Dana Byer compliment me,

http://www.teachthefacts.org/2006/02/
light-blogging-ahead.html

Orin,

It's good to hear from you. You are always a rational voice.

I don't believe the sociological research shows that good gay paernting is any worse than good straight parenting. You resort to justifying failed parenting by blaming the parents. OK, so having opposite-sex parents doesn't prevent a child from turning out badly. And simply having two same sex parents guarantees a similarly poor result?

I don't see how the simple fact of being gay and in a gay relationship has any significance on whether a child feels loved and cared for. I accept the statement that men are more promiscuous than women, but the outcome of that is that gay men will marry less than straight men. So there is still no problem, since there will be no reaon for a promiscuous gay man to marry.

But marriage doesn't cure straight men of their promiscuity -- they've been cheating for millenia. If you want to fix society, get straight men to stop cheating. And good luck.

Also, I don't think David said or implied anything about a slippery slope occuring. There's no evidence for that other than right-wing propaganda.
February 04, 2006 12:29 AM


One of the best arguments though that I came across (not so recently) opposing gay "marriage" is the number of scholars that David Blankenhorn listed in his book that are ON RECORD previously as being OPPOSED to marriage that now support same-sex "marriage". So, these scholars were previously opposed to marriage, and now support it...so long as gays and lesbians are included. What would the "Church Lady" from SNL say? Oh, yeah..."isn't that conveeenient?"

And then there is this for starters,

http://marriagelaw.cua.edu
/Issues/DOMAtalk.cfm

...sigh, I know, I know, it is Catholic University, an educational outpost of what the more "enlightened" sect considers the source of too much repression. Still, this list of "talking points" is a quick read and lays it out in simple terms.

I used the search function on the TTF and in using my name came up with only 28 hits...huh? Perhaps someone can explain a better way to do a search because I know I have posted more than 28 different times.

Again, Priya Lynn,

People only make that excuse when they have no response.

Then you would not mind explaining what I wrote in an earlier entry,

Have you ever heard the expression "treat equals equally, and unequals unequally"? can you tell me the source of that idea? (and no cheating with "google")

because at the present time you are still engaging in little more than personal insult and invective as a way of making an argument.

Last chance Priya...while I enjoy watching "Groundhog Day" (the very funny movie with Bill Murray), I have not interest in someone with nothing of substance to say.

May 26, 2008 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn,

I am not the Red Baron -- just another "anon" here. Also, I think that I misspelled the name of HOPE's founder -- I think it's "McKellar." I didn't want to post anything too long here, but since you thought I should, I have one excerpt of his about marriage:

Quote from John McKellar (a Canadian):

"Most Canadians believe that gays and lesbians should be able to pursue any brand of consensual sex as we see fit and form whatever relationships that make us happy. But I'm sick and tired of the activist mantra that my dignity
and my relationships are devalued because the state will not codify same-sex marriage. And I'm not so insecure and so selfish to demand that marriage be redefined for everyone else.

Marriage is not an arbitrary convention and is not meant to change with the times. We're not talking about music, fashion or
art.

We're talking about an institution whose 4 prohibitions - you can only marry one person at a time, only someone of the opposite sex, never someone beneath
a certain age, and not a close blood relative - have been grounded in morality and in law for millennia (the highlighting etc is mine - RJ). Humankind
yearns for these stabilizing factors in our kaleidoscopic world and if we abandon these standards, then everything becomes legal and everything becomes moral. If gay marriages are permitted (a
prerogrative of the most decadent Roman emperors), why not polygamy? Why not brother and sister or parent and child?

One does not have to be a "fanatical, right-wing, religious fundamentalist"
to oppose gay marriage. It is significant to note that an interfaith coalition of Roman
Catholics, Sikhs, Muslims, Anglicans and Evangelicals intervened in the court
challenges to the Marriage Act and continue to fight this nihilism to the bitter end.

That such a diverse body of religious organizations, all of whom have numerous disagreements in matters of doctrine, theology and practice, are unanimous
in their defence of marriage, clearly shows a universal pressing concern for this issue.

So gays need to stop bitching about sincere Christians, Jews and Muslims who are merely exercising their constitutional rights to free speech about homosexuality
and whose vast philosophical perspective easily triumphs over the provincialism
and amorality of the gay world. Indeed, their position is far more credible and honest than the tortuous casuistry of self-interested clerics who take the
path of least resistance by creating their own church, tailor-made to affirm their Rainbow philosophy."

May 26, 2008 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

Nice, AnonFreak.

So, with your way of thinking, people who want to be treated equally under the law are "bitching".

People who don't want to be targets of hate crimes are "bitching".

People who want to see their loved ones in the hospital are "bitching".

People who want DO NOT want to be treated as second-class citizens are "bitching".

Women who don't want to be called "bitching bitches (sexist remarks)" are "bitching".

...as we know, the list can go on and on.

AnonFreak: every time you post something on this blog it only makes you look more and more pathetic, bigoted, hateful, ignorant and selfish.

Interesting... you say you're not a bigot but your words and actions speak enough for you.

May 26, 2008 9:42 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Orin, contrary to your suggestion you said nothing in that thread that explained how letting David Fishback's son and his boyfriend get married would "undermine any public purpose of marriage.". Of course this is what I've come to expect from you, once again it is you with nothing of substance to say.

Orin said "Have you ever heard the expression "treat equals equally, and unequals unequally"? can you tell me the source of that idea? (and no cheating with "google")".

Couldn't care less what the source of that inane idea is. It highlights your bigotry, your thought that you should be superior to others and your lack of committment to the principle that underlines all morality - equality. This is why your concience is bothering you about your opposition to same sex marriage. Feelings don't appear out of nowhere divorced from our sense of right and wrong. Thoughts about what is right and wrong precede our feelings and create them and you know in your heart its wrong to treat gays as something lesser than you, you know you have no rational reason to justify that.

Frankly I couldn't care less if you are interested in anything I say. You're a lost cause, you are determined to oppress gays regardless of what's right. I write for other readers to point out the lack of logic and rational for your hatred.

May 26, 2008 10:01 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron stop lying. You promised you wouldn't comment so be honest for once and go away.

Similar to Orin you haven't presented any explanation as to how letting gays get married undermnines any public purpose of marriage. No surprise there.

Polygamy oppresses women and creates a shortage of marriageable partners for men, it in no way can be compared with same sex marriages which harm no one.

Contrary to your suggestion that "Marriage is not an arbitrary convention and is not meant to change with the times." marriage has changed drastically over the times. Whereas it was once about property rights, women as possessions and not about romantic love it is nowadays an institution of romantic love joining two people who promise to care for each other always.

Contrary to your suggestion that 4 prohibitions have been grounded in law and morality for millenia that clearly is not the case. Ancient marriages where frequently between more than two people (look at your bible) and marriages between brothers and sisters not unheard of - in ancient Egypt they often did this with the pharaohs to preserve the "royal" bloodlines. Further it is immoral to prevent people from doing whatever they want as long as they harm no one. Same sex marriages don't deprive any heterosexual couple of anything and are good for the children of the increasing numbers of gay couples that have children - the right wing religionist attack on marriage is what is immoral.

No gays are "bitching" about bigoted Christians exercising their rights to free speech. What they have a problem with is those people trying to go beyond speech and dictate to others how they should live their lives. You religionists have no right to dictate any life other than your own. Don't like same sex marriages, don't have one, its that simple.

May 26, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

And Orin, when you want to treat people unequally, its up to you to make a compelling case for so doing, not up to me to justify what we all know to be the foundation of justice. While you've written much you've said little and have, as was the case at the beginning, presented no rational for your desire to oppress gays.

May 26, 2008 10:24 PM  
Anonymous dinesh sample said...

Conventional wisdom holds that the human mind is nothing more than the human brain. This belief derives from materialism. By "materialism" I don't mean the mania to shop unceasingly at the mall. Rather, I mean the philosophy that material reality is all that there is. Immaterial or spiritual realities are, in this view, simply epiphenomena of the material world.

We find the materialist view ably expressed in Francis Crick's The Astonishing Hypothesis. What Crick finds astonishing is that our thoughts, emotions and feelings consist entirely in the physiological activity in the circuitry of the brain. Daniel Dennett argues that "mind" is simply a term for what the brain does. And how do we know that the brain and the mind are essentially the same? The best evidence is that when the brain is damaged, the injury affects the mind. Patients whose brains atrophy due to stroke, for instance, lose their ability to distinguish colors or to empathize with others.

But in his book The Spiritual Brain, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard shows why the Crick-Dennett position is based on a fallacy. Yes, the brain is the necessary locus or venue for the mind to operate. It does not follow that the two are the same. Beauregard gives a telling analogy. "Olympic swimming events require an Olympic class swimming pool. But the pool does not create the Olympic events; it makes them feasible at a given location." Far from being identical to the mind, Beauregard argues that the brain "is an organ suitable for connecting the mind to the rest of the universe."

A provocative idea. Beauregard produces several lines of evidence, but there I focus on just one: the placebo effect. The placebo or sugar-pill effect is one of the most widely-attested phenomena in medicine. One medicine journal notes that "the history of medicine is the history of the placebo effect." So powerful is the impact of the sugar pill that today the effectiveness of drugs is measured by the FDA in comparison to the placebo effect.

Yet as Beauregard points out, the placebo effect is an embarassment to the simple-minded conception of the mind as an ephiphenomenon of the brain. The reason is that this effect shows the mind shaping the brain. The mental expectation of being cured leads to an actual alteration in the physical workings of the brain, and the patient experiences a measurable physiological improvement. One doctor who cured a patient through the placebo effect was asked what he gave the patient that produced such an incredible result. His answer? "Hope."

Beauregard also writes about something I didn't know much about: the nocebo effect. "The nocebo effect is the harmful health effect created by a sick person's belief and expectation that a powerful source of harm has been contacted or administered." So if patients are strongly convinced that a particular pill will give them nausea, they frequently become nauseous, even when the pill they have taken is not the one they expected but only a sugar pill.

Materialism is based on the assumption that the only way to alter the mind is to alter the physical operations of the brain. But Beauregard uses the placebo and nocebo effect to show the reverse. The mind can also regulate the operations of the brain. Beauregard writes that he placebo and nocebo effects are not triggered by the sugar pill but rather are "triggered by the patient's mental state. In other words, they depend entirely on the patient's state of belief."

But if minds can control brains, them minds are not the same as brains. This leads to the unavoidable conclusion that there is an aspect of thought and feeling that lies outside the realm of the material. This is what Beauregard calls "the spiritual brain." Atheists too have one, even if they refuse to admit it.

May 26, 2008 11:43 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Dinish Sample quoted:

“Beauregard also writes about something I didn't know much about: the nocebo effect. "The nocebo effect is the harmful health effect created by a sick person's belief and expectation that a powerful source of harm has been contacted or administered." So if patients are strongly convinced that a particular pill will give them nausea, they frequently become nauseous, even when the pill they have taken is not the one they expected but only a sugar pill.”

Interesting argument. It seems to me that the same line of reasoning could be used to argue the existence of “The Matrix.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix )

Perhaps the placebo and “nocebo” effects are proof that we are really tied into a giant, world-wide computer system that is using our bodies as energy sources, and the only way to get out of it is to swallow a certain red pill – which actually doesn’t do anything – because the pill, and the very awareness of our “existence” is created by an external machine. The red pill is merely a bit of code being executed deep in some processor core while our body is being harvested for energy in a liquid-filled pod.

Wait a minute, how long have I been sitting at this computer today???

Peace,

Cynthia

(About to take her little yellow pill… ahh, Estrogen! It does a body good!)

May 27, 2008 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Dearest Dinesh,

Argument by analogy is only sophistic Jesuiticalism. Oh yeah, that makes sense for you.

The placebo effect is an interesting phenomenon in science and medicine, and not fully explained. The difference between science and religion is that when scientists find something that they can't explain, they look for reasons for it (i.e. they try to explain it). Religion retreats to an appeal to the supernatural (i.e. it declares it unexplainable). Did they not teach you this in your liberal, Ivy League education?

May 27, 2008 5:17 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Dinesh knows, of course, that it was Descarte who said "Cogito ergo sum", "I think therefore I am," that is, that consciousness implies existence, and that in fact all that I know by direct experience is my own existence, or consciousness.

My sincere hope, in the heart of my being, is that I exist beyond the physical reality of my body and brain, that "this" is not all there is.

I also hope that entropy is reversible on a universal scale (the most depressing thing I know in all science is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics).

These are my hopes, but I have no reason to believe they are true beyond the fact that I want them to be. Neither do you. You think hope creates reality. I hope so too.

rrjr

May 27, 2008 5:44 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

The 2nd law is depressing only from a Woody Allen point of view. Life, which demands order, simply uses energy to create that order, and some of that energy goes to counteracting entropy, which is simply a function of order/disorder, the number of microstate possible for any given macrostate.

So the question isn't how do we fight entropy, it is where do we find the energy needed? Since the vacuum itself is filled with what is called "zero point energy" or dark energy, there's plenty to be had. We just have to figure out how to tap into it.

I think Robert's point is that we actually have to think and work at doing that, not simply sit back and praise God. All the religious folks I know would simply praise God for giving us the minds to even comprehend such a possibility, and then get to work. And not waste any time hating others.

May 27, 2008 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Doesn't the second law say that total entropy in a closed system can't decrease?

May 27, 2008 7:53 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Right -- the "total" entropy in a closed system.

First, the system can be construed as extremely large. It is that system to which people refer when they discuss the "heat death of the universe." Of course, there is no longer just "a" universe, but a multiverse, but, whatever.

The key point is that within any closed system energy and entropy can be rearranged to have pockets of order among disorder.

Another interesting point, about which Jim, I'm sure, knows much more than I, is that entropy can be construed as a form of information. I believe the equations are very similar, and that insight goes back to Claude Shannon of Bell Labs back in 1948.

May 27, 2008 8:19 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

http://humanities.byu.edu/elc/student/idioms
/idioms/pearls_before_swine.html

May 27, 2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Of course, rearranging patches of entropy and energy takes energy, thus increasing entropy.

Then again, if an infinitely large universe has an infinitely large amount of energy to expend on redistributing patches of entropy, assuming that both the number of particles and the amount of energy are countable, then you have a countable infinity divided by an another countable infinity. What does that equal (One, I think)? Or are the number of particles and quanta uncountable? I know that such a division is meaningless, or unexplainable in our mathematics.

rrjr

May 27, 2008 6:28 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

This is posted here,

http://online.wsj.com
/public/page/opinion.html

and then click the link to Best of the web for today, Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 (though fair warning that this may offend the humor impaired),

"Animal rights advocates are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to declare a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Matthew to be a legal person," the Catholic News Agency reports:

British teacher Paula Stibbe and activists with the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories want to declare Matthew a person so that Stibbe may be appointed his legal guardian if the bankrupt animal sanctuary where Matthew lives in Vienna shuts down, the Evening Standard says.

Coming on the heels of the California Supreme Court decision mandating same-sex marriage, this raises some alarming possibilities. The rationale for same-sex marriage is that any person should be allowed to marry any other person, regardless of sex. Surely that would apply to nonhuman persons as well, so that Matthew would be able to marry another chimp--or a human.

Wait, it gets worse. Others have raised the specter of polygamy. What about interspecies polygamy? The CNA report reveals:

Matthew lives with another chimpanzee and a crocodile in an animal shelter.

As the definition of marriage and the definition of person both become more and more elastic, all sorts of impossible problems will arise. Example: If you marry an amoeba and he splits, are you on your own, or are you suddenly a polygamist against your will? This is a can of worms humanity would be better off not opening.

May 28, 2008 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this a "reductio ad absurdum?"

rrjr

May 28, 2008 8:04 AM  
Anonymous further dinesh said...

In his book A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, V.S. Ramachandran says it "never ceases to amaze me" that "all the richness of our mental life--all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions--is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in our brains. There is nothing else." Here is the voice of materialism, the doctrine that holds that matter is all that there is, and mind is simply an epiphenomenon of matter. It is the intellectual foundation of the new atheism espoused by Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett and others.

Dawkins, Pinker and Dennett offer nothing to prove the doctrine, and neither does Ramachandran. The best Ramachandran can do is cite exotic ailments: the fellow who could recognize shapes but not faces; the fellow who thought his mother was an imposter in disguise, the patient who responded to pain with laughter, and so on. Turns out that these peculiarities emerge as a result of damage to particular parts of the brain.

But so what? When I bash my radio, the sound stops. Does that mean the radio is creating the sound waves? Isn't it more reasonable to say the radio is simply the instrument or conduit that makes it possible for us to hear those sound waves? Similarly when it rains on the Wimbledon tennis court, play is cancelled. Does this mean that the tennis court is responsible for Federer's serve? No, it simply shows that Federer's serve requires a tennis court for us to be able to watch and appreciate it. In the same vein, all that Ramachandran's outlandish examples prove is that the brain is the site or venue where mental activity takes place. The brain may well be the necessary vehicle for mental activitity. It does not follow that brains and minds are identical.

In his excellent new book The Spiritual Brain, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard turns Ramachandran's argument on its head. He shows that if matter can shape mind, it's equally true that mind can shape matter. In my last post I offered one line of Beauregard's evidence, focusing on placebo and nocebo effects. Here I offer a second. Beauregard matches Ramachandran with his own list of ailments: patients suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, patients who are depressed, patients who have various phobias such as fears of spiders and cats, and so on.

It turns out that many of these disorders are the result of mental traumas of one sort or another. These traumas leave scars or effects on the physical structure of the brain. Drugs can sometimes help, but frequently they have unpleasant side effects. So what many skilled health care professionals now do is they train the patients to think differently about their condition. For instance, patients who are scared of spiders are shown and taught that most spiders are quite harmless. Eventually the patients train their minds learn to control their paranoia.

Now here is the remarkable thing. When the patients learn to use their wills to control their fears, researchers have discovered that this mental activity also changes the workings of the patients' brains. In other words, mental activity can change the very structure and distribution of the neurons and circuits in the brain. Call it "mind over matter."

What Beauregard is saying that that since minds can regulate brains, therefore minds are not the same as brains. And if my countryman Ramachandran is amazed that little pieces of matter can shape our mental life, I am equally amazed that purely mental events can remake the physical operations of our brains. One day we will figure all this out, and then I predict we will find that minds are much more than an epiphenomenon of matter.

May 28, 2008 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Dinesh argues by analogy with radios and tennis that there 'may be' a supernatural aspect to consciousness. He fails to acknowledge that sound waves and the motion of tennis balls are explained by physical realities without recourse to the supernatural (besides which the fact that he's trying to make a point by analogy, which is a little intellectually shady). Intellectual honesty requires that we investigate things we can't explain, rather than throwing up our hands and appealing to religion.

For example, how can you explain that an Ivy League college spawned the Dartmouth Review? The Review existed outside of it's printing presses, so is clearly a manifestation of the whimsical intervention of the Flying Spagghetti Monster.

rrjr

May 28, 2008 10:35 AM  

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