April 4, 2013

Chomsky on cruelty + Greenwald on the new atheists
1. Chomsky on cruelty
2. Greenwald on the new atheists

About ME/CFS


Yesterday I wrote about sadism as a part of the explanation of many social events, from concentration camps to modern health care and the treatment of the poor.

Today I found Chomsky has been writing about cruelty recently, and I had missed that, so I have a little on that. My other subjects is about Glenn Greenwald on Sam Harris and other new atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, and a parallel I see with the late Theo van Gogh.

And there would have been more today if my sore eyes had been a bit better.

1.  Chomsky on cruelty

Yesterday I wrote about briefly the role sadism plays in human society, and did not mention much I do know that is relevant, such as the 400 years of Roman circuses, and also, no doubt, a lot I do not know that is relevant.

Today I found a small bit of the latter large class, namely the text of a speech Noam Chomsky gave in March of this year, published on April 2 under this title and link
This is mainly concerned with the situation in Gaza, but applies to much more, since, as Chomsky wrote

Journalist Amira Hass writes that "(..) the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people."

The means are humiliation, degradation and terror – familiar features of repression at home and abroad.

The need to humiliate those who raise their heads is an ineradicable element of the imperial mentality.
Contempt for the worthless victims is no small part of the barrier to achieving a settlement with at least a modicum of justice and respect for human dignity and rights.
2. Greenwald on the new atheists

I am an atheist
and have been so all my life. My parents were atheists, and my mother's family have been atheists since the 1850ies. For me, it always seemed the natural position, and my studies of philosophy and psychology, and much else besides, only strengthened that conviction.

Having been raised in it, I also never felt any strong desire to defend it or to attack religion, because opposing religion never was important in my life. For others this may be quite different, and I can understand why someone who was raised in a religion and lost the faith may feel strongly about both religion and atheism.

I don't and I also never have been able to feel much sympathy for people like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris (a supporter of Geert Wiilders) who have gotten quite well-known throught their opposition to religion, even though I agree with them on atheism, or more so than not.

It so happens that Glenn Greenwald in his latest column in "On Security and Liberty" finds much to disagree with in Sam Harris' position, who got to be well-known for being an atheist, and whom Greenwald finds to be anti-Islam in a way that seems quite fanatic against them, and quite aggressively in favor of the "war against terrorism" waged by the American governments since 2001, that has  in fact been styled by both Hitchens and Harris as "wars against Islam", which Greenwald disagrees with for what seem to me quite cogent and moral reasons, that you can check out here:
I mostly agree with Greenwald, but I will here only write about anti-atheism, and a parallel I notice between Harris and Hitchens and the late Theo van Gogh.

To start with
atheism. The last link is to my brief discussion of that subject in my Philosophical Dictionary (also see: God and religion there), and perhaps it helps understanding my position that I call myself an atheist rather than an agnostic or a skeptic because I am also not agnostic or skeptical about the non-existence of mermaids, dragons and elves. I do not have a definitive logically valid proof from premisses all known to be certainly true that there are no mermaids, but that logical possibility seems to me to be about as unlikely as the thesis that Winston Churchill was a werewolf.

It is in the order of my throwing 1000 successive heads - (1/2)1000 - with a fair coin to win a bet that I can: It is logically possible, but extremely unlikely, and if asked whether I could or would accept such a bet I also would say "No" without any hesitation.

Next, Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins.

In the past nearly four years that I have fast internet I have several times watched videos with these men, but never watched all of the videos, in each case because I got rapidly bored: I agree with them, more than not, on the subject of atheism, but I find the arguments I watched not interesting, and the same goes for their persons and books. [1] Perhaps this says as much about me as it says about them, but that is the fact.

Also, while I don't know about Dawkins in this respect, I do know I disagree with both Harris and Hitchens about their position about the Islam, that Hitchens called "islamofascism", which was a term Theo van Gogh also liked - and he got murdered by an Islamic fanatic in 2004.

As it happens, I spoke out against this in 2003, before Theo's murder, in Dutch, reproduced here:
and also in English in 2005, here:
Dutch readers may be interested reading in an interview I made with Theo van Gogh in 1989, when I was befriended with him
and in charting my description of his murder in 2004, that starts here, in Dutch:
I am sorry most of this is only available in Dutch, but the bit about Ayaan Hirsi Ali is in English, and explains quite clearly why I disagree with her and her position, that seems to be quite close to that of Sam Harris. Ms Ali since has married, and made a career in the US at the American Enterprise Institute of Dick Cheney.

P.S. Apr 6, 2013: Corrected a typo, and did the same in the above linked text about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


[1] I get easily bored, and there are many others who have the same effect, including "well-known philosophers" like Daniel Dennett who, like Dawkins, often seems subtly wrong to me, for reasons I can explain, but that usually will be quite boring and uninteresting to my readers.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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