Nowadays the situation is almost reversed. Eye witness testimony is regarded with great suspicion, to the extent that it is now unlikely that a trial would even go ahead if there was only eye-witness testimony with no other collaborating evidence.
When I speak to theists the issue of 'witness' is never far from the surface. If we are debating religion - as I am inclined to do - then it is almost a certainty that, at some point, the theist will resort to an argument along the lines of 'well what I saw/experienced/felt was enough to convince me that God exists'.
I am not limiting this to religion, however. Religious-type beliefs usually rely on a similar 'conviction' on the part of the believer. This applies to conspiracy theorists, alien abductees, spiritualists, and a host of other belief systems for which there is little or no empirical evidence.
If we experience something then we are reluctant to even consider the possibility that it didn't really happen as we remember. Our only link with external reality is via our senses. If we can't rely on our senses then what CAN we rely on?
Nevertheless, the evidence is conclusive and the matter is beyond doubt - our senses are constantly creating perceptions, and memories, of things which did not happen, or did not happen as we recall them. This is not a matter for debate - the evidence is clear and conclusive.
In this essay I will show just a few examples of how your senses can deceive you.
The problem starts with perception. Consider the eyes - sight is our most important sense, if we measure by the amount of processing resource each sense occupies in the brain. There is still much work being done, and much more to do, with regard to the processing of sense perceptions, but we know that a significant amount of our total capacity is used in processing visual information. Nor should this surprise us if you consider that the eye delivers an upside-down image (like a pinhole camera), which is shaky and, worse, has a thumping great hole in it (where the optic nerve enters/exits the eye). The brain has to do significant amounts of processing simply to present us with an image that doesn't have an obvious hole and which is the 'right' way up.
In fact there isn't enough raw processing power in the brain to do this methodically in real time (consider, more than 12 images per second, each image consisting of about 150 million signals from the rods and cones in the eye - all this has to be combined, inverted, treated and delivered to our consciousness as an uninterrupted stream of vision). The brain simply doesn't have the raw processing power to do this.
In order to see, our brain and nervous system use a number of 'non algorithmic' approaches - in simple terms we use short-cuts. Much of the time this causes no problem - evolution demanded that our vision should allow us to spot potential predators and potential food as a priority, and for most of the time our vision is adequate to these tasks. Sometimes, however, the short-cuts mean that we see isn't what is actually there. This is true even when we KNOW that to be the case. One way of illustrating this is the use of 'optical illusions'.
One of the most startling visual illusions is shown below. This illusion is so convincing that I have had pupils almost in tears with frustration, refusing to accept that their eyes were deceiving them.
This is an effect generally known as the checker shadow illusion.
Verbal abuse of men, as a gender, continues. In the Lords we had Baroness Jenny Jones call for a 6pm curfew for men - without much comment from our complicit media.
As in all such cases, it is informative to switch the genders and evaluate, honestly, whether the result would be the same. Obviously any male politician even joking about a curfew for women would be sacked and disgraced before the end of that same day. Instead , this misandrist bitch has the cheek to whine at the very limited blowback she got from twitter, whilst continuing her pathetic attention-grabbing bigotry.
I read very few newspapers nowadays, and it’s fairly rare that I actually watch terrestrial TV, including the news.
I have however noticed a spate of articles from women recently on a similar theme - the lack of availability of good men, particularly those available to women in their thirties and forties.
I have also for the last several years been technically single and ‘available’ on the dating market. In this post I wish to look at the same issues and bring them together.
My thoughts and my support this week go out to Will Knowland - an English teacher at Eton, who has been sacked for questioning the feminist notion of a patriarchy in a thoughtful and well argued resource on his YouTube channel.
As someone who shares many of the views Will expressed (though they may not be entirely his own opinions), this oppressive and illiberal action saddens but does not surprise me. Even as a supply teacher I have got into trouble for one of my own videos in which a parent - without actually watching it - found grounds for official complaint to the school. The video challenged some feminist thinking when looking at the responsibility and duties of pastoral teachers. It was an academic argument, citing supporting materials and summarising positions which are academically well understood, intellectually and morally respectable, and which simply summarised a position, based on published, peer-reviewed and largely mainstream studies and findings.
I am glad to see that Will appears unrepentant and unbowed by the action - I just watched an interview on Youtube which explored the issues.
The Scots are about to pass legislation which will make it illegal to speak in a manner considered to be 'inciting bigotry' - even in one's own home. I have always opposed the very idea of hate speech, since I regard it as part of free speech to be able to say hateful things. Such matters should be dealt with via social and peer pressure, not the state. This latest bill goes way beyond that and into the territory of state oppression. The notion that a citizen could be arrested and charged as a result of a conversation in the privacy of their home is abhorrent. I will be looking carefully for any attempt to pass similar legislation in England. I trust and hope that many others find this as outrageous as I do and will, like me, oppose any such proposal vehemently, for as long as it takes to kill it.
The Swiss courts recently released their judgement on the appeal brought by Semenya against the ruling that she cannot compete in women's athletics unless she takes medication to lower her testosterone levels. Having looked into this case I find that there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding on the matter - hence this posting.
There is what I would once have called a Teefal man (for those too young, the reference is to an old TV advert which featured large-headed boffins) currently stirring things up in Physics and Maths. His name is Stephen Wolfram, and he will be immediately familiar to many, via his commercial computational products, like Mathematica and Alpha, or for his work in mathematics.
Several people have asked me for my opinion of where we are with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, and what the future might hold. Obviously I'm not an expert in epidemiology or, in fact, any relevant science. I do, however, have a good basic grounding in science generally, and I have a circle of friends and contacts who are experts in a variety of scientific and medical fields.
Frequently in debate an opponent will raise the issue of capitalism - usually to do with perceived inequity/unfairness/brutality. When I was young I thought in similar ways. It seems obvious that any system which relies on greed to motivate must be morally dubious, whereas a system designed at more equitable distribution of resources must be morally superior.
At last. For someone with an internet name of Bikerman, I've been without a bike for far too long. For personal and work reasons I had to sell my beloved Yamaha several years ago. Now, being finally in a position to get a new bike, I've bought myself another Yamaha.
Matthew Goodwin gave an interview on YouTube in which he gives his analysis of the failures of Labour and the left in general. To me he seems to talk with sincerity and sense. His shares many of my own conclusions about the issues - although there are a few points of difference between us. On the main political and socio-economic analysis, however, I think he has it just about spot on.
There has been much buzz about a young girl from Sweden who has become the darling of climate activists. Greta admits to having several mental issues and deciding to abandon school to concentrate on climate activism. Supporters have lionised the young girl whilst critics have attacked her as a damaged young girl who knows next to nothing about the issue.
I have written in the past about my concerns over the concentration of power within the tech sector. Google, for example, has tremendous power with no real accountability. Most people know that the ubiquitous search engine deals with user searches in a 'less than straightforward' manner. It is fairly common knowledge that companies willing to pay can have their listings advanced up the list of search results. This, however, is the tip of the iceberg.
Some time ago I promised to post something on this issue - the claimed gap in pay between women and men. So, here is the promised article.The image heading the article is typical of the general claim made. Obviously most of the fuss is coming from the US - hence the currency - but a similar story of woe is articulated by UK feminists. Is it correct?
If you are contemplating spending a great deal of money on a University course for yourself, or for your child(ren), then I think you should check whether the University of choice is one which supports and encourages free speech. If not it is probably following the trend first seen on US campuses, but now spreading through UK universities - namely, the idea that it is the role of the University to train activists in social justice.
In the UK the Labour party is currently a shambles. In the US the democrats managed to loose an election to a reality-show host. Clearly there are some serious issues with left wing politics in general. In this article I try to explain what the problem is and how it arose.
Before I go on I will define what I mean here by 'left wing'. In broad terms there are two viewpoints regarding society and politics. One view is that we should strive to arrange society according to a historical blueprint or a past ideal. The other view is that society is better than it has ever been but needs to progress further by looking to the future, not the past. We can call the first conservatism and the second progressivism.
In the first article, I looked at how the regressive left arose from the remnants of the revolutionary radical left, after most decided that they could no longer openly cling to classical Marxist theory. I explained that having abandoned Marxism, with the promised utopian communist state that it predicted, the regressives no longer had a specific utopian end-point to talk about, but most still remain committed to the overthrow of the state in a Marxist-style revolution, even though they cannot say what, exactly, they would put in its place. Finally, we saw that the modified version of identity politics adopted by the regressives is toxic and actually undoes all the progress made by the liberal left in addressing equality of minorities and reducing both the importance and the awareness of identity differences such as gender, race and sexuality. I finished by explaining that it is for this reason in particular that many people, including me, label this destructive mutation of left-progressive politics the regressive left.
In this article, I want to explain the dangers that I think regressives pose to society, and offer some thoughts on how we might address these dangers.
Emma Watson is the latest in a growing line of celebrities who suddenly feel qualified to lecture on the meaning and goals of feminism.
How she suddenly discovered this expertise is left to our imagination but presumably it involved some weird and wonderful arcane mysticism and waving a magic twig around. It certainly didn't involve reading the relevant studies and papers.
Emma has broken her instructions into a handy seven bullet points so that the audience can take the bit-sized message without getting hopelessly lost or confused. I'll take each point individually and respond. This is NOT a rant and I will not be seeking to fire off cutting put-downs or to 'destroy' her. It is a reasoned explanation of why I think she is misguided, misinformed and misdirected.