Loosing My Religion

In the western world, religious belief is in decline. Most people never or rarely go to church. They no longer transmit their faith to their children. The bible is not taught to children. There is usually a strong separation in between the church and the state. Weather this is right or wrong is a very debatable issue, nonetheless I will look at reasons for this decline and propose some theories of my own.

 

The first reason for the decline of religion is that parents choose not to expose their children to their own religion. Parents pass on many of their views and beliefs to their children. Schooling could give different perspectives to children and teenagers and in some cases they will reject their parents view entirely. However, schools are no longer religious in much of the western world so children ad teenagers have to find religion through their parents or on their own.

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Another reason has to do with the rise of Internet. It is responsible for much of the decline of religion in the western world. Many people especially the younger generations spend large amounts of time online interacting with ideas from all walks of life whether they realize it or not. This leads to conscious or unconscious questioning of values and ideals. Though this thinking rarely leads to a personal redefinition, they lead to more openness. The doctrines and commandments of a religion seem a lot less strong when one can see and appreciate the beliefs system of others. It should be noted though that the Internet can also bring people together who live far from each other but share common beliefs and this can lead to these beliefs being reinforced.

The Influence of the Internet

No matter the reasons why religious belief is in decline, religion has been around since the dawn of human kind because it gives answers to question such as “where do we come form? ” or “where do we go when we die? ” Religion often provides a frame to live out our lives. It gives us ways to treat others and ourselves. We still need the answers to these questions and this guidance today; we just find ways outside of religion to get the answers we need.

 

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: Heartbleed: Most of Internet struck by security failure by Natasha Lennard

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/04/new_study_says_internet_could_be_why_americans_are_losing_their_religion/

 

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/10/the_internets_destructive_gender_gap_why_the_web_cant_abandon_its_misogyny_partner/

Stop the Bleeding

Recently in the news, especially in tech circles, there has been talk about the Heartbleed bug. Simply explained, when to login to a website your information is sent to that website server. That information is encrypted for security when it is sent to the server. It has been discovered though that the main tool used for encryption (OpenSSL) has a bug that allows hackers to gain access to any exchange between a user and a server such as emails, passwords and documents. This bug has been around for two years and amazingly it could be gone within the week but it is hard to imagine how much data could have been recorded in the last two years.

 

The amount of information we exchange over the Internet is nearly endless. It is probable that every last bit of our personal information has gone through the Internet at some point in time whether it was under our accord or not. We share parcels of our financial information every time we purchase something online.   Every time we create an account on a website we give out our email, our address and our telephone number. Many of us do our banking online and file our income tax reports online. If someone gains access to the personal information we share online, they can steal large sums of money or even steal our identity.

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We feel confortable online because we think that what we are sharing will stay between the intended target and us. When we pay for something we expect that we are exchanging our information with a secure server and that no one will ever have access to that information. When we give our home address to subscribe to a website we don’t expect that information to end up anywhere else than on their servers. Should we really feel comfortable though? If you spend the least bit time online you can tell that lots of the advertisement you see is tailored for you. Servers somewhere are analysing the sites you visit to tell what your interest are. Another good example is Facebook. The more you chat with someone or the more you look at what they post and “like” them, the more of them you will see.

 

Video Explaining the Heartbleed Bug

 

It is quite obvious that tech companies are mining the data your internet activity provides them with. They want to get us interested or keep our interest in their products. All we can hope it that our personal information isn’t making it into unscrupulous hands but we can’t really be sure if our information is safe or not in the end. We just have to trust the people that handle it and take a certain amount of precaution when it comes time to sharing it.

 

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: Heartbleed: Most of Internet struck by security failure by Natasha Lennard

 

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed_most_of_internet_stuck_by_security_failure/

 

Destroy Yet Cherish

Human’s beings have a very confusing relationship with nature. We cherish it and we destroy it. We decide that some parts of nature are beautiful and should be preserved but we have no guilt totally destroying others parts of it. Some natural sites become the sites of bitter battles between people who want to preserve them and those you want to develop them.

 

For most of us, the beauty of nature takes our breaths away. Most of us live in the city, but we still love to venture out to the country or use our vacation time to go and visit beautiful sights of nature. Just about every country including Canada and the United States has national parks; protected natural spaces for everyone to enjoy. We designate particularly stunning sites that represent a unique habitat as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We also feel the need to designate the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

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We also like to recreate parts of nature or keep little parts of it close to us. There are zoos all around the world where we keep animal to observe them or to preserve them. We seem to have a joy that no other species on earth shares to gaze at other breeds. We like to learn about the other species out there. And in lots of cases we will never see these species in the wild or in flesh even. Most of us will not come across a panda munching bamboo in the forests of china or a lion hunting on the African savannah. However, we still love to hear about them. By hearing about other species, it makes us feel part of a whole, of an entity that transcends us and it somehow justifies our presence on this earth.

Lion hunting :

 

At the same time, human have no problem with destroying large parts of nature for their own needs. We bulldoze mountains and the forest that cover them to extract mineral and others resources from the ground. We cut pristine rainforest to grow palm trees. We dry up wetlands to build our houses. We pollute rivers and lakes with industrial waste. Some people do take offence to this and try to stop all this destruction but to make our way on this earth we have to destroy certain parts of nature to get our resources. We can do our best to restore what we destroy though.

 

As much as we like nature, we have no problem destroying it to advance our wealth and extract resources. We have to find a balance in between preserving nature and exploiting it. We depend on nature for our survival, so we have to make efforts to protect it and assure that when we exploit it we return it to a near original state. Ultimately we depend on nature, it does not depend on us.

Philosophy is Fun

When we enter a philosophy class for the first time we often think that it will waste our time. We wonder what we will get out of all the complicated questions and reflections of philosophers. In some cases, philosophy courses can lay on the theory heavy and bore us instead of capturing our attention. A good teacher however can really open our horizons and get us interested in the discipline.

 

In a good philosophy class, we look at the views of other, the issues of our society and ourselves. We compare our points of views with those of others. We put our ideas out there, analyse them and this can leads to changes in our mindset or can solidify our views. By opening up about our views and exchanging or reading about views we develop the ability to not only question the opinions of others but our own.  We become more critical thinkers and by the same token better thinkers.

 

If we can analyse and understand the point of views of others it is easier for us to have more moderate opinions. We can see the good and the bad in the views of others. We can stay away from the very emotional more extreme views that cause tension and radical actions. We can negotiate and make dialogue with other people not just throw strong opinions at each other and not listen to each other.  

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We also become better at questioning. We don’t automatically take what we hear to be factual or bogus. We will look over information and see what supports it and what doesn’t. We become better at living in a society where information is constantly being thrown at us. We also become better employees. We can think on our feet. We need less guidance and are better at making key decisions.

 

Even if we inherently can think on our own, philosophy is essential because its gives structure to our thinking. It helps us look at ideas with more openness. It pushes us to have a more open mind and to engage in dialogue. In the end, if a large numbers of people study philosophy this leads to a more unified and accepting society.

 

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: Be Employable, Study Philosophy by Shannon Rupp

 

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/01/be_employable_study_philosophy_partner/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

 

 

Just Lend a Hand Instead

Murder is wrong. It is not right to kill another human being; period. However, there are a lot of interpretations of the punishment that should be carried out for this act. There are multitudes of criminal charges for killing another person. And there are contexts were we believe that a person should not be punished at all for killing another person, such as cases of self-defence. There are charges manslaughter, 1rst degree murder, and 2nd degree murder. There are charges like dangerous driving causing death. In some cases, murder can be watching another person commit a murder and doing nothing. Ultimately, we weigh whether the act a person undertook or failed to undertake considered murder. Given that the act of killing another person has such a broad spectrum of punishments (and in some cases no punishment at all) it can be complicated to determine which punishment is appropriate for a given circumstance.

 

Consider the case of Rennie Gibbs a black teenager from Mississippi, who was 15 years old when she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Most experts think that her daughter died from her umbilical cord wrapping around her neck as she was born but a blood sample from her mother revealed a cocaine by-product in the baby’s blood so the state attorney accused Rennie of “depraved heart murder” which is the murder committed by a negligence of human life. Lets consider they two issues separately however, whether cocaine use during pregnancy that would result in death of the foetus in considered murder and whether there is any scientific proof that cocaine can actually kill a foetus.

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On the first issue; if cocaine use that kills a foetus during pregnancy is murder, I do not think it is. Future mothers taking cocaine are not doing it to kill their unborn child. They most probably has an addiction problem and needs help not persecution. Trying to deter these women from doing drugs with the fear of persecution does not do them any good.  They will end of up fearing doctors and help groups because they could report them. This means they could pass by the help they dearly need. If their drugs habits kill their foetus they should be directed towards help resources not tried for murder. Murder charges are all about intent and these women have no intent to kill their foetus.

 

On the second issue; if cocaine actually kills foetus, the science suggests that it not often the case. This assumption comes from old research that has been debunked but is still spread by word of mouth, books and websites. Consuming cocaine does not do a foetus any good but there is not any proof that cocaine consumption consistently results in foetal death. It can have adverse effects but there is not a clear link between cocaine use and foetal death. Most experts agree Rennie Gibs daughter probably died from having her umbilical wrapped around her neck when she was born not from her mother consuming cocaine.

 

Overall, Rennie Gibbs should have been given help to combat her drug addiction and mend the other problems she may have had. Persecution will not do her any nor will it do any good to other women in her situation. They need help at a tough time in their lives and this help will mean that more babies survive.

 

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: A terrifying precedent: Woman to be tried for murder for giving birth to a stillborn by Nina Martin

 

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/22/a_terrifying_precedent_woman_to_be_tried_for_murder_for_giving_birth_to_stillborn/

When Science and Art Collide

At first sight, science and art don’t go together. Science is all about following strict procedures and methods to gather and classify knowledge. Art is all about expressing yourself and letting yourself go. In art, there is a lot more freedom than in science. We tend to see artists as the free spirits and as the dreamers. Scientists are the logical thinkers and the intellectuals.

 

Upon looking closer though, science and art go quite well together. A person can be both an artist and a scientist. It just depends on personal taste and interest. Scientist need lots of creativity and imagination especially when they conducting experiments that no one has preformed before them. Artists need methods like scientists to carry out their work. Artists need to learn a lot of techniques to be able to make their pieces as beautiful as they are.  Science and art do have a lot in common even though it is hard to see this on the surface.

 

One example of this is the painting of human beings. With the knowledge of anatomy, artists are able to paint very realistic paintings. They beauty leave us in awe because they mimic reality so well. Leonardo Da Vinci studied human anatomy to get the most realistic depictions of human beings at a time when the knowledge of anatomy was very limited. This interest eventually led him to study human anatomy more in depth and make important discoveries about this domain.

 

Science and art cohabit to show different dimensions of given phenomenon. We can both admire a phenomenon for its beauty and explain it with science. Pictures of outer space are an example of this. They are very beautiful to look at (they can be considered art) but at the same time science can explain (or tries to explain) the phenomenon that we see.

 

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Art can also be useful to science and science useful to art. Art is used in science in a variety of ways. There are artist renditions of fossilised creatures, anatomical posters that illustrate human, animal and plant anatomy and models of body parts. The main purpose of these objects is not to serve as art but given that they where drawn or modelled they are art and can be appreciated as that. Science is useful to art because the knowledge of it can make art better (such as the example of Da Vinci or the Venus de Milo which are examples of the use of the knowledge of anatomy). Also, science with the help of technology  can lead to developing new artistic mediums and techniques.

 

Art and science are two different things but they often overlap and can make important contributions to one another. Scientists and artists are often seen as polar opposites but in fact they both need some of the same characteristics and a scientists can also be an artist and vice versa.

 

Examples of science and art colliding:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/art-meets-science/

Vaccination : An Essential

People will always question authority. When we are young we question our parents and our teachers. As we get older we start to question our bosses, the law and the government. This is not necessarily bad. Democracy relies on people getting involved in the administration of their country, their province and their municipality. It is good that we question decisions and investigate. However, it is unhealthy to assume that politicians shouldn’t be trusted and especially to distrust government agencies that are not partisan at all.

The Provincial and Federal Health Agencies both recommend and provide vaccination for a variety of ailments to the population. These vaccines are mostly provided to minors but can be administered to adults. They are provided free of cost by family doctors to all Canadian. However, they are not mandatory. Parents can choose to not have their children immunized or adults can also choose that they will not be vaccinated. There are many reasons for this belief, the most common being that they are dangerous and that there risks outweigh their benefits.

This argument hinges largely on the research of an English doctor that showed that vaccination was linked to autism. This research has however been totally discredited. Governmental health agencies are not out to get us. They have done research of their own to make sure that the vaccinations they are administering us are safe and beneficial. Vaccines do have side effects. However, all medical treatments do. A routine surgery that goes well for 9999 patients could go wrong for the 10 000th and could lead to complications that result in him loosing his life. However, that surgery was beneficial to the other 9999 patients and that must be taken into account. It is the same with vaccines. It is a sad truth that some people will face grave consequences from a vaccination but the benefits for everyone else being vaccinated mean that getting vaccinated is worthwhile.

Video talking about the English doctor and the importance of vaccination:

Another issue involved in vaccination is the transmission of disease. Certain vaccines are for illnesses that are not deadly to most of the population. However they are administered to protect a minority of population that are susceptible. For example, the flu vaccine is administered to the elderly and those who care for them because this illness without consequence for most of us can have severe repercussions on the elderly. If someone doesn’t get vaccinated, caries an illness and infects a vulnerable person this is being negligent. They are not taking into consideration the well being of others. They are focused on their personal beliefs.

Even though vaccination is beneficial to our health by preventing illnesses from affecting others, and us, we cannot force someone to be vaccinated. Ultimately, people have the control over which medical treatments they will receive especially when they are adults. The best we can do is inform them of the benefits of vaccines and help them unmask the myths that prevent them from getting vaccinated.

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: Getting Pat Vaccine Scepticism by Dr. Brian Goldman

http://www.cbc.ca/whitecoat/blog/2011/06/15/getting-past-vaccine-scepticism/

Lets Be Mature About This Whole Situation

The parents of a 14 year old girl from British Columbia are outraged because their daughter was given a vaccine without their consent or a medical cheque. They argue that even if it is legal for their daughter to consent to a vaccination, she would be too shy to refuse it and that it was that she is not mature enough to make the decision to be vaccinated or not. The parents do not want their children to be vaccinated given one of their daughters had a bad allergic reaction to a vaccine. I do remember the time I was vaccinated in school just like her. Indeed, at that point in time I new so little about vaccination that I just went right up and got vaccinated. I actually got three extra vaccinations on top of the one everybody was getting because my parents had avoided giving me when I was younger. 

 

On the maturity front, it is true that most 14 year olds don’t know that much about health issues and maintaining their health. That is probably due to the fact that they are not particularly interested in the subject and they are not taught about it in school. Unless they have had some sort of discussion with their parents before hand, they lack the information to make a good decision about being vaccinated or not.  This is really what they lack most; information not maturity. If they have the information they need they can make an informed decision. Parents can advise and indeed they should, but teenagers 14 and older should have the ability to decide if they want to be vaccinated or not.

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This issue extends far beyond vaccination. At 14 year of age (in British Columbia), a teenager can make medical decisions if it deemed that they understand a treatment and its possible consequences. It is meant as a measure to give them their independence and also to let them make the best decisions for them even if it against the will of their parents. If parents hold certain beliefs that would make them refuse a treatment for their child against his/her best interest a child can decide that they do not have the same beliefs as their parents and receive treatment.They can also seek treatment or medical advise without needing the approval of their parents. 

 

At 14, our brain is still developing. We are going threw significant changes and emotional ups and downs. However, we have gained significant maturity since childhood. We have enough maturity to make important decisions including ones concerning our health but we should be well informed before we take them.

 

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: B.C. Family Furious Teen Vaccinated Without Parental Consent by Natalie Clancy

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-family-furious-teen-vaccinated-without-parental-consent-1.2570354?cmp=fbtl

 

Fewer Antibiotics Please !

Not so long ago, people raised their own animals on there own farms in rural areas. They ate the food they produced. There was excess produced so people in cities could have access to meat obviously but agriculture was practiced on a much smaller scale. In the last century though farming has become more and more concentrated in the hands of large industrial producers. They raise thousands of animals in close quarters. Animals travel around a lot more especially when they are transported to the slaughterhouse. So there are a lot of exchanges in between animals of different farms and a lot of opportunities for illnesses to spread. So producers have to find ways to contain these them.

The best way they have found to contain these illnesses is the use of antibiotics. They are used in a much larger range of applications than for humans though. They are not only used to treat illnesses but they are also given as a preventative measure to avoid the spread of diseases. They are also used to allow animals to reach maturity quicker.  These applications mean more animals can be slaughtered over a given amount of time and more profit made. And that basis alone it is very understandable because for these farmers, raising livestock is their livelihood.

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However, this excessive use is leading to antibiotic resistance in both the bacteria than infect the animals and those that infect the consumers of meat, us. Constant exposure to antibiotics means the bacteria that are resistant to these antibiotics proliferate. Once an antibiotic is no longer effective, we can move on to another. However there are not large numbers of antibiotics available. Therefore we could end up with situations where there is no longer an effective antibiotic for a given bacterial infection. This means that certain ailments that are easily treatable at the moment could be deadly in a close future.

Video on a case of an antibiotic resistant infection:

This means that farmers should reduce their use of antibiotics to a minimum in order to avoid the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It requires a tighter control of animal interactions as well as some sacrifices in productivity among other things. In the end it will amount to higher prices for the consumer if producers want to keep making similar profits. However, this is a relatively small sacrifice to make in the present so that in the future antibiotics can still be effective and save lives.

Link to the article that inspired this post:

Article: Canada gets failing grade on antibiotic use in animals by Wendy Stueck

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/canada-gets-failing-grade-on-antibiotic-use-in-animals/article17340999/?cmpid=rss1&click=dlvr.it

We Absolutely Need to Feel

Does anyone want to feel bad? Not really. However, bad times are part of our lives. It is inevitable that we will come across people or events that will cause us to have negative emotional response. Some events such as the death of a close parent will cause a very strong reaction. The sadness will grip us for days, week maybe even months. We might recall these events every day for the rest of our lives. These events stay deeply entrenched in us. Some events are quite minor. Someone yells at us for some mundane mistake. We feel bad for a little while, seeing that person might remind us of the emotion we felt. We forget about the event or it is buried deep in our mind.

 

Weather these negative emotions are significant or not they contribute to us in some way. Our mind is made up of extremely complex and diverse connections that science has only begun to understand. Interfering with these connections by removing certain negative emotional memories could lead to a domino effect and scramble our brains in ways that could lead to gaping holes in our memory or leave us totally disoriented because of the complex interlinking of our thoughts.

 

All our past shapes us. The bad and the good make us who we are. We learn what makes us feel good as much as we learn what makes us feel bad. By understanding this, we can avoid or repeat behaviours that make us feel right or not. We grow and become better people because we overcome obstacles not because things are nice and easy. The world is not all rosy. We have to learn to make our way threw it and to know that we need to live threw negative and positive moments.

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Where would we be without our negative experience? Our breakups and rejections teach us how to approach the opposite sex. The deaths of the people close to us help to remember the importance of the people that are still with us. Talking about hard times with our friends bring us closer to them.

 

Our negative emotional memories are as important a part of us as our positive ones. We shouldn’t necessarily stay focused on them. We should do our best to focus on the good to be as happy as possible, but they need to be offset by negative memories. Together they shape the people we are today and the people we will be tomorrow.

A deeper reflexion on how to approach emotions:

http://livingrealization.org/articles/emotions-are-a-doorway/

 

Tweet that inspired my post:

 

Good or bad?  Scientists are developing a method of erasing negative emotional memories using mild electric shocks. #thinking_science_W14

 

By @TeachableM