Posts Tagged ‘genocide’

Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape, The Monty Hall Problem and Genocide Neglect

07/04/2010

manicstreetpreacher’s brain is feeling rather sore.

Following his extraordinary appearance at TED 2010 discussing the link between science and human morality, this lecture by Sam Harris discusses in greater detail his upcoming book, The Moral Landscape, due to be published on 5 October 2010.

Harris raises The Monty Hall Problem.  This is an intriguing game of probabilities that appears to be a total affront to common sense.  People have it explained to them and they still don’t get it.  When it was first published in Parade magazine thousands of people, many with PhDs, wrote in to tell the publishers that the solution was wrong.

Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say Number 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say Number 3, which has a goat.  He then says to you, “Do you want to pick door Number 2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

Many people think that switching doors will have no effect on increasing your chances of winning the car at all.  It will be 50/50.

However, this is incorrect!  Switching doors will increase your chances of winning the car to 2/3s!?!?!?!?!

I’m not sure that I understand it completely.  Wikipedia has the full story!

Aside from this brain ache, Sam Harris discusses the intriguing contradictions in human morality.  An interesting paradox he raises is “Genocide Neglect” as described in this paper by Paul Slovic: the more suffering people that humans are faced with, the less they will care.

Genocides such as those carried out in Rwanda and Cambodia attract minimal attention in the media, whereas the story of Jessica McClure, the 18 month old girl who fell down a well in Midland, Texas in 1987 gained round-the-clock television coverage during her 58 hour rescue and transformed CNN into a fledging cable channel into a global news service provider!

Harris has hit on something depressingly solipsistic about the human moral condition.  New Coke backlash anybody?

Addendum to “William Lane Craig Provides the ‘Scholarly’ Basis for Holy Horror”

06/04/2010

As part of my three posts reassessing Christopher Hitchens’ debate against Christian apologist William Lane Craig held at Biola University on 4 April 2009, I have added the following text to the end of my piece on Craig’s take on the morals of the Old Testament God.

UPDATE 06/04/2010:

Since publishing this piece, I have come across a podcast on this topic as part of the “Reasonable Faith: Conversations with Dr William Lane Craig” series that Craig’s website produces  if you can bear it.  Lukeprog over at Common Sense Atheism has posted an excellent discussion.

I have also found this comment by Richard Dawkins posted on the debate forum of his website:

Theological justification for genocide Part One

Richard Dawkins >> Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:22 am

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767

One of our commenters on another thread, stevencarrwork, posted a link to this article by the American theologian and Christian apologist William Lane Craig.  I read it and found it so dumbfoundingly, staggeringly awful that I wanted to post it again.  It is a stunning example of the theological mind at work.  And remember, this is NOT an ‘extremist’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘picking on the worst case’ example.  My understanding is that William Lane Craig is a widely respected apologist for the Christian religion.  Read his article and rub your eyes to make sure you are not having a bad dream.

Richard

That just about says it all.

(H/T: Steven Carr)

NonStampCollector lampoons “CONTEXT!”

24/02/2010

manicstreetpreacher presents a nutshell of every scriptural debate he has ever had.

So funny and yet so true.

Check NonStampCollector’s YouTube channel for more masterpieces of Paint Brush insight.