Monthly Archive: July 2010

Jul 30 2010

Crime and guns (part 2 of 2)

(See part 1 here.) Opponents of personal gun ownership worry that easy access to guns may cause needless death and injury in situations which otherwise might end peacefully. We have all heard horror stories where children have accidentally killed people because they stumbled upon firearms left unattended. We worry that people in drunken states or …

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Jul 29 2010

Crime and guns (part 1 of 2)

In American politics, strangely enough what gets people really fired up are not the major issues of the economy or wars but the three g’s: guns, god, and gays. (Also abortion, but it ruins the alliteration.) The split on this issue is pretty much along ideological lines. Self-described conservatives tend to oppose almost any restrictions …

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Jul 28 2010

Crime and punishment

Studies “indicate that across a wide spectrum of the population and independent of local crime rates, viewing local television news is related to increased fear of and concern about crime.” That is consistent with my personal experience. I hardly ever watch TV and definitely not the local TV news. As a result, I tend to …

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Jul 27 2010

The origin of religion-9: Real and fictive kinship

For the last post in this series, I want to look at the strategies that religions use to both grow and retain their members. Elisabeth Cornwell and Anderson Thomson in their article The Evolution of Religion suggest that the growth of religion could have been aided by the idea of ‘fictive kinship’. To understand this, …

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Jul 26 2010

The origin of religion-8: Religious observance as obsessive-compulsive behavior

In the previous post in this series, I discussed neurologist Robert Sapolsky’s theory that the charismatic founders of religious cults had schizotypal personalities. He then goes further and tries to identify what traits might be at work amongst the followers of religion. What is it that makes them adopt ritualistic practices that serve no useful …

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Jul 23 2010

The phony social security crisis-7: Who are the hard workers?

As I said in the previous post in this series, the elites who work in comfortable conditions in well-paying jobs have no idea of what work is like for the vast majority of people. And they live in this cocooned world where the media feeds their inflated sense of self-worth. The ever-oblivious New York Times …

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Jul 22 2010

The phony social security crisis-6: Retirement and the nature of work

The doomsayers have managed to persuade the majority of people that they will not receive anything from social security, though that is completely false. The idea that the only way to solve the overblown social security ‘crisis’ is to raise the age of full benefits eligibility from 65 to 70 is wrong. There are other …

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Jul 21 2010

The phony social security crisis-5: Raising the social security retirement age

(Continuing a series from March 2008.) If you want to implement policies that really stick it to poor people, you have to do it when the Democratic Party is in power. The reason that Democratic administrations are the most useful vehicle for harming the poor is that those who call themselves ‘liberals’ are far more …

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Jul 20 2010

The origin of religion-7: Messiahs and prophets as schizotypal personalities

What has been discussed so far is the origin of prototypical religions, the early forms that consist of vague beliefs in supernatural forces and the afterlife. At various points in time, these became crystallized into concrete religions some of which are still extant, each distinguished from the others by their rituals and the specific forms …

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Jul 19 2010

The origin of religion-6: Religion as a by-product of evolution

As with other features in evolution, there are two possible ways that evolution can give rise to some phenomenon. One is that it is an adaptation that came about because it was directly advantageous in itself at some point in time. The other is that it is an accidental by-product of natural selection for some …

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