Move to Big Think

I’m happy to announce that I am now going to be blogging at Big Think. Thus, subscribers should add my BigThink blog “Against the New Taboo” to their RSS feed: http://bigthink.com/blogs/against-the-new-taboo.rss. Otherwise, be sure to check ATNT. I’ll probably add my first post next week.

In case you’re unaware, BigThink.com is a news, science, and politics website which regularly features interviews, writings and analysis from the world’s top thinkers: from Steven Pinker and Sam Harris to Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais. It’s an exciting move for me, since I’ve never earned anything from my writing before. I’ve already contributed some essays for them, which seemed to have been received well (by well, I mean they were featured at the Huffington Post, whatever that means in terms of numbers). Big Think was rated the #1 website for News & Info in TIME magazine last year, which is well-deserved in my opinion. I’ve been reading BigThink in general for a long time, since it engages with new ideas either from secondary sources or directly – since their “Experts” are truly experts, which includes numerous Nobel Laureates. I recommend you add them to your regular reading, too.

I doubt I’ll be using this site as much, now, but it will remain here for archive purposes or in case I should decide to move back. Thanks for being with me and I hope you’ll follow me to Big Think, to help defend unappetising (but reasoned) views against silly, but powerful, ones.

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Why Secular Values Require Constant Defence

The Founding Fathers

In her book Freethinkers, Susan Jacoby constantly highlights how often great thinkers are neglected from the American historical canon due to their criticism of religious authority or social norms. This may seem odd to anyone who knows even a little about the Founding Fathers and, for example, Abraham Lincoln – but we know of these gentlemen due to their role as presidents and founders of the very nation itself, despite their antagonism toward organised religion and its “truths”.

During the late 18th century, many thinkers – prominently those fighting for abolition and women’s equality, which were often united causes – optimistically presumed that the deliberate neglect of powerful activists would be eroded, since the values themselves would come to fruition; and, thus blooming, all would recognise those who originally distributed the seeds of such knowledge. But even today, the names William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott, and Ernestine L. Rose, are quite forgotten by those who more confidently remember other names within the era.

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The King’s Speech: Gays are Rotten

UPDATE: Prof. Pierre de Vos has written an excellent post detailing the idiocy of still having royalty in South Africa, who receive millions from the government for having the right genetics. Start a slow clap for these people…

Can you imagine any public figure saying on a public platform that all black or coloured people “are rotten”? Not only are these statements false (and I think meaningless), they are insulting to the group of people in question. But insult or offense isn’t a measurement of a statement’s strength. Anyone reading those statements, whether they are part of the targeted group or not, would rightfully think such statements unjustified and bigoted – and it’s these two conclusions that matter. In this same way, I look forward to the day when we take a similar hard-line approach to those who make homophobic statements, as King Goodwill Zwelithini has done.

The Zulu monarch – Brits aren’t the only ones with these strange titles still in existence – has recently said:

Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same sex relationships. There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten.

And in case you didn’t quite understand him or feel different, it doesn’t matter: “I don’t care how you feel about it. If you do it, you must know that it is wrong and you are rotten. Same sex is not acceptable.”

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Christopher Hitchens – No Rest and No Peace, Merely a Thank You

Considering Christopher Hitchens was the master of the English language, it seems particularly stupid of me to use it now. It’s like trying to serenade the world’s greatest singer. But here goes my poor attempt which is aided greatly by a quotation by a Nobel prize winning author.

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I’m now a BigThink.com ‘Expert’…

Er, not really sure how this happened.

I don’t consider myself an expert on any topic. Nevertheless, it is nice to be featured among such amazing contributors to Big Think. You can find my page there. I currently have two articles up. The latest one on incest is getting very lazy and emotive comments, as well as a few really complimentary ones. The most insulting comment I’ve received from it points out a typo. The rest is about someone called god, something about evolution being good and others pointing out how it leads to deformities (despite me dealing with it in the article).

It’s an amazing website. You should subscribe to their feed.

Some problems with local atheist article

News24.com is one of those websites that makes you ashamed to share a species label with other humans. The comments sections often reads as though a bunch of blind, three-fingered lunatics have been set alight and told that typing really fast on a keyboard will put the flames out. Oh and someone is hitting them on the head with a hammer. Regardless, sometimes a brave soul emerges from the cloud of nonsense to write something comprehensible. Recently the user ‘Increasingly Annoyed’, wrote an article ‘Ask an atheist’. I have a number of small problems with it, though I think it is fairly well-written (though it uses some unnecessary phrasing) and refreshingly sober.

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How Offensive – The Banned Axe Advert and Patronising Christians

An advert about odours that “could offend” Christians has been pulled because of a single complaint from an angelically-concerned, single (male) individual. I’m offended his offence was taken seriously. Does my offence count?

From the Axe advert - How offensive that they would want to do anything else for eternity except dwell in servility and worship

Recently, it’s been very interesting watching advertising bodies get involved in metaphysical debates about the existence of god. For example, when the wonderful (but British) Ariane Sherine successfully managed to get an atheist message on busses – with powerful support from Richard Dawkins – they were told to change “There is no god” to “There is probably no god”. There were very bad arguments for this, but it’s fairly obvious why – ironically it is to cater to those who do believe, despite it being directed at those who obviously do not. Now, in South Africa, we’ve had something similar. Continue reading