I don’t think religion is inherently incompatible with science. Sure, one of its fundamental tenets is faith—unwavering belief in God with or without evidence— but so long as faith is compartmentalised and everything else is treated with a dose of healthy skepticism, there shouldn’t be a problem. There is, however, something that is slowing down our advancement as a species: the scary amount of people who deny things like evolution and the Big Bang.
i forget all the time that i don’t need to just make a single choice for the rest of my life and that my identity does not consist of just a single self
i forget all the time that i do not have to give up everything else just because i nominally chose something. i do not have to give up all my other interests just because i chose a certain subject to study at university. i do not have to become a writer or critic or teacher or whatever just because those are the popular career choices for the subject i want to do. i can find fulfilment in running a little café or being part of a travelling dance troupe if that is where my interests take me to. and even then, my life does not have to be constricted to just that
i have multiple selves and all of them are important because i believe they are, not because i need an institution to validate them. i enjoy many things, everyone enjoys many things, and this openness to everything that life has to offer is part of the beauty of living. it shouldn’t be seen as something that weighs me down and it shouldn’t be forgotten
“The bottom line is that saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon.
“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.”
Prof Rippon points to earlier studies that showed the brains of London black cab drivers physically changed after they had acquired The Knowledge – an encyclopaedic recall of the capital’s streets.
She believes differences in male and female brains are due to similar cultural stimuli. A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use.
“What often isn’t picked up on is how plastic and permeable the brain is. It is changing throughout out lifetime
“The world is full of stereotypical attitudes and unconscious bias. It is full of the drip, drip, drip of the gendered environment.”
Prof Rippon believes that gender differences appear early in western societies and are based on traditional stereotypes of how boys and girls should behave and which toys they should play with.
I’m embarrassed of the person I was five years ago, I want to slap the person that I was three years ago, and I’m even ashamed of who I was one year ago.
I can safely say that me five years ago is a different person from me today; if we met we’d probably end up hating each other. I’m changing fast, so are you, and we’re getting better every day because of it.
And that makes me all the more afraid of the day when I can look five years into past and be content with the person I was.
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy, ” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.
That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness.
Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.
In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.
Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another.
At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections.
About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about?
It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
Roald Dahl, 1986
NINETEEN EIGHTY SIX.
roald dahl was calling out the anti-vaccination movement as self indulgent bullshit //thirty god damn years ago//.
And this is only in recent history. I can’t imagine the numbers if we had data all the way back to 1986.
And thanks to anti-vaxxers, measles is back in the United States.
Lamb of God: Blasphemy
Ke$ha: Offends our delicate sensibilities
Future Music Festival Asia: Drug use
How many of these reasons are legit?
0.5 (that’s the drugs fyi)
(gentle reminder that we also fined the pussycat dolls for being too sexually provocative. the pussycat dolls.)
When my husband died, because he was so famous & known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — & ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage & never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief & precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting.
Every single moment that we were alive & we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous & so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space & the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me & it’s much more meaningful…
The way he treated me & the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other & our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
Ann Druyan, wife of the late Carl Sagan.
I think I should stop with the Sagan quotes now. I CAN’T HELP IT OK. HE SEEMED LIKE A REALLY COOL GUY.