Episode 88 – 22 March 2017

0:52 There is renewed discussion over S.18c. A plan to replace “insult, offend or humiliate” with “harass”.

10:11 Pakistan is not happy with the amount of blasphemy on Facebook and have asked Facebook for names and details of blaspheming Pakistanis.

11:43 The BBC asked what is the right punishment for blasphemy.

14:25 A Firis brochure for NSW listeners to distribute which explains rights regarding RI lessons. We should be telling RI horror stories.

17:36 The legal rights of rivers.

20:32 Flat earth basketballers in the NBA. It’s all funny until somebody gets hurt, and, we are being hurt. The recent devotion to cultural tolerance is opening the door to alternative facts. Often, the very people who cheer journalists calling out Trump’s falsehoods are unwilling to do the same when falsehoods are the product of cultures they find more sympathetic or less dangerous. We must maintain the value of objective truth.

30:57 The gay panic defence.

33:56 The hijab in Europe

36:17 King Salmon of Saudi Arabia visited Indonesia with 1000 helpers in his entourage. King Salman is poised to increase Saudi influence in Indonesia exponentially. In one swoop Saudi investment in Indonesia has gone from $US900,000 last year to $US7 billion, with the Indonesia media reporting that another $US25 billion may be waiting in the wings.While the Saudis prepare to unload billions, our fiscal investment in our nearest neighbour hovers around $605 million in foreign aid, and Indonesia is not yet one of Australia’s top 10 trading partners.


Geoffrey Cohen, a professor of psychology at Stanford, has shown how motivated reasoning can drive even the opinions of engaged partisans. In 2003, when he was an assistant professor at Yale, Cohen asked a group of undergraduates, who had previously described their political views as either very liberal or very conservative, to participate in a test to study, they were told, their “memory of everyday current events.”

The students were shown two articles: one was a generic news story; the other described a proposed welfare policy. The first article was a decoy; it was the students’ reactions to the second that interested Cohen. He was actually testing whether party identifications influence voters when they evaluate new policies. To find out, he produced multiple versions of the welfare article. Some students read about a program that was extremely generous—more generous, in fact, than any welfare policy that has ever existed in the United States—while others were presented with a very stingy proposal. But there was a twist: some versions of the article about the generous proposal portrayed it as being endorsed by Republican Party leaders; and some versions of the article about the meagre program described it as having Democratic support. The results showed that, “for both liberal and conservative participants, the effect of reference group information overrode that of policy content. If their party endorsed it, liberals supported even a harsh welfare program, and conservatives supported even a lavish one.”

In a subsequent study involving just self-described liberal students, Cohen gave half the group news stories that had accompanying Democratic endorsements and the other half news stories that did not. The students who didn’t get the endorsements preferred a more generous program. When they did get the endorsements, they went with their party, even if this meant embracing a meaner option.


Are you a soldier or a scout? Your answer to this question, says decision-making expert Julia Galef, could determine how clearly you see the world.

Imagine for a moment you’re a soldier in the heat of battle — perhaps a Roman foot soldier, medieval archer or Zulu warrior. Regardless of your time and place, some things are probably constant. Your adrenaline is elevated, and your actions stem from your deeply ingrained reflexes, reflexes that are rooted in a need to protect yourself and your side and to defeat the enemy.

Now, try to imagine playing a very different role: the scout. The scout’s job is not to attack or defend; it’s to understand. The scout is the one going out, mapping the terrain, identifying potential obstacles. Above all, the scout wants to know what’s really out there as accurately as possible. In an actual army, both the soldier and the scout are essential.

In other words, if we really want to improve our judgment as individuals and as societies, what we need most is not more instruction in logic, rhetoric, probability or economics, even though those things are all valuable. What we most need to use those principles well is scout mindset. We need to change the way we feel — to learn how to feel proud instead of ashamed when we notice we might have been wrong about something, or to learn how to feel intrigued instead of defensive when we encounter some information that contradicts our beliefs. So the question you need to consider is: What do you most yearn for — to defend your own beliefs or to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?

52:58 Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to change two-witness rule because ‘that’s our stand’

CHILD sexual assault is a secret crime carried out by men and women who do everything they can to avoid detection.

Which is why one passage in the Bible is a Get Out of Jail Free card for offenders, particularly when adhered to so strictly by those within religious organisations.

Timothy 5:19: demands followers “do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses”.

It’s a message echoed in Matthew 18:16: that reads, among other things, “ … at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established”.

The two passages became the focus this week of a royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness church in Australia, of which there are 65,000 followers.

Having adopted a number of recommendations in the name of greater transparency, there was only one thing the church refused to change: a 2000-year-old protocol requiring two witnesses before a child sexual assault allegation be investigated.

Before the commission, Jehovah’s Witness spokesman Terrence O’Brien said the church “considered the implications of the finding” that the two-witness rule should be scrapped.

“And your response is that the two-witness rule is required by the scriptures and can’t be changed or avoided?” he was asked.

“That’s correct. That’s our stand.”

55:49 We need to incentivise functional countries to aid dysfunctional countries. The Velvet Glove recommends dividing Africa into 4 parts.

1:00:03 Against Empathy by Paul Bloom.

1:01:55 The invention of the “Third Pounder” in competition to the “Quarter Pounder” failed as people thought it had less beef as the 3 in 1/3 is smaller than the 4 in 1/4.

Muslim presenter sparks uproar as she asks BBC Asian Network Twitter followers ‘what is the right punishment for blasphemy?’

FaceBook and Blasphemy
FIRIS brochure

Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to change two-witness rule because ‘that’s our stand’

South Sudan’s famine is the fallout from a spiralling ethnic war

It’s Not All Relative

Against Empathy

24 Logical Fallacies You Should Understand and Avoid


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