A panel of experts

Sam Harris talks to Michael Shermer about morality, or meta-morality. They’re both experts in the subject, so the combination must be super-expert.

Shermer: The criterion I use—inspired by your starting point in The Moral Landscape of “the well-being of conscious creatures”—is “the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.”

He says that as if the idea originated with Sam Harris. It didn’t.

Today we no longer accept the witch theory of causality because science debunked it. In its stead science created natural and more accurate explanations for such phenomena as weather and diseases. Science has also debunked other superstitious beliefs, such as demon possession; the need for animal and human sacrifice to appease God; that Jews caused the Black Death; that African Americans are an inferior race; that women are the weaker gender…

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The content is vetted

Heina is disappointed with the Sunday Assembly Los Angeles.

When I was invited to be the main speaker for the first-ever Sunday Assembly Los Angeles, I felt very optimistic. The people with whom I worked were so incredibly helpful, I got to cover an awesome topic that gave me an excuse to further educate myself, and the event went swimmingly. The press coverage wasn’t bad, either. I later spoke at the first Sunday Assembly Orange County as well.

As rarely happens, I had hope about something. But, as always happens when I do have them, those hopes were dashed. I have recently found out that this April, Sunday Assembly Los Angeles is hosting Michael Shermer. His talk is promoting the latest of his many books. [Read more…]

Well aware of expectations

Sophy Ridge at the Telegraph says what I more or less assumed – that Michelle Obama’s non-compliance with the Saud family dress code was an intentional snub. I more or less assumed that simply because there’s not really any way it could be just neutral, given what everyone knows about “the kingdom” and how many people are available to tell her all about it.

Make no mistake: this was a deliberate decision by the First Lady.

She and her advisers will have been well aware of expectations in the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia. They will have known her outfit choice would attract attention away from the role of her husband, Barack Obama, who cut short a trip to India in order to lead a parade of dignitaries in Riyadh, paying respect after King Abdullah’s death.

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It has a hard time accepting that women can compete in sports

Saudi Arabia wants to host a men-only Olympics. What a fun idea.

Saudi Arabia has proposed holding a gender-segregated Olympic Games.

In comments made by Prince Fahad bin Jalawi al-Saud – a consultant to the Saudi Olympic Committee –it was suggested the country could bid jointly with Bahrain, which could host the women’s events.

“Our society can be very conservative. It has a hard time accepting that women can compete in sports,” the Prince told French website Francs Jeux. [Read more…]

When the cane strikes

A report commissioned by Amnesty International says – entirely unsurprisingly – that further lashes to Raif Badawi would cause permanent damage. Ludovica Iaccino gives the details.

Now, a medical expert from from the charity Freedom from Torture has warned in a report commissioned by Amnesty International that more lashes are likely to cause permanent damage.

Dr Juliet Cohen, head of doctors at Freedom from Torture, explained: “When the cane strikes, the blood is forced from the tissues beneath… Damage to the small blood vessels and individual cells causes leakage of blood and tissue fluid into the skin and underlying tissue, increasing the tension in these areas. [Read more…]

She is a ghost buster

So let’s ask an actual female ghostbuster, shall we? Is it totally weird and off the wall to remake Ghostbusters with women in the eponymous roles? Is it weird the way it would be weird to remake Lone Star with frogs playing all the parts?

Ask her. Ask Hayley Stevens. Or don’t bother to ask her, because the answer is already there on her blog.

Throughout the history of paranormal research women have often been the leading figures despite being under-represented at every step of the way. [Read more…]