Pope Benedict XVI is right about the dangers of moral relativism

As one of the characters in The Brothers Karamazov puts it, if there is no God, everything is permitted….The problem for atheists that has never been satisfactorily addressed is that it’s very, very hard to find a solid foundation for any moral values in the absence of a belief in God. Reason and science alone simply won’t cut it.

 

So what should a secular society base its morals on? Read more on: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100202482/pope-benedict-xvi-is-right-about-the-dangers-of-moral-relativism/

Shared by Jonathan Tan

How To Defend Society Against Science

I want to defend society and its inhabitants from all ideologies, science included. All ideologies must be seen in perspective. One must not take them too seriously. One must read them like fairy-tales which have lots of interesting things to say but which also contain wicked lies, or like ethical prescriptions which may be useful rules of thumb but which are deadly when followed to the letter.
Now, is this not a strange and ridiculous attitude? Science, surely, was always in the forefront of the fight against authoritarianism and superstition. It is to science that we owe our increased intellectual freedom vis-a-vis religious beliefs; it is to science that we owe the liberation of mankind from ancient and rigid forms of thought. Today these forms of thought are nothing but bad dreams – and this we learned from science. Science and enlightenment are one and the same thing – even the most radical critics of society believe this. Kropotkin wants to overthrow all traditional institutions and forms of belief, with the exception of science. Ibsen criticises the most intimate ramifications of nineteenth-century bourgeois ideology, but he leaves science untouched. Levi-Strauss has made us realise that Western Thought is not the lonely peak of human achievement it was once believed to be, but he excludes science from his relativization of ideologies. Marx and Engels were convinced that science would aid the workers in their quest for mental and social liberation. Are all these people deceived? Are they all mistaken about the role of science? Are they all the victims of a chimaera?

 

Read more: http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43842

Shared by Herng Yi Cheng

The Post-Crisis Crises

NEW YORK – In the shadow of the euro crisis and America’s fiscal cliff, it is easy to ignore the global economy’s long-term problems. But, while we focus on immediate concerns, they continue to fester, and we overlook them at our peril.
The most serious is global warming. While the global economy’s weak performance has led to a corresponding slowdown in the increase in carbon emissions, it amounts to only a short respite. And we are far behind the curve: Because we have been so slow to respond to climate change, achieving the targeted limit of a two-degree (centigrade) rise in global temperature, will require sharp reductions in emissions in the future.
Some suggest that, given the economic slowdown, we should put global warming on the backburner. On the contrary, retrofitting the global economy for climate change would help to restore aggregate demand and growth.

 

Read more: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/global-warming–inequality–and-structural-change-by-joseph-e–stiglitz

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?

Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

 

Read more: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1754/20122845.full

Shared by Hemanathan Sathya

The Tax System Explained in Beer

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7..
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do..
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner offered “Since you are all such good customers, I’m will reduce the charge of your daily beer by $20”. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

 

Read more on: http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/the-tax-system-explained-in-beer/

Shared by Xu Leyi

Social planning via education not a bad thing

In the UK, the state education system underwent a series of changes in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in the teaching  of English and Maths. These changes took away the learning of language, spelling and arithmetic by rote, in  the name of experimentation. Allied to this was the removal of teachers’ ability to discipline recalcitrant students. Kids who are told  that they do not need to do anything and they will not be punished for it, are going to take advantage. We all know that.  This idiocy was replicated in  other countries, including the US, then the world’s largest  economy. It did not seem to matter if a child could not spell or do simple multiplication, so long as that child was encouraged to find the answer by himself.

 

Read more: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/news/files/2013/01/20130103-bt-social-planning-via-education-not-a-bad-thing.pdf

Shared by Madeline Chen

The Real Invasion of Africa and Other Not-Made-for-Hollywood Holy Wars

The “Islamic terrorism” that is an excuse for the enduring theft of Africa’s vast store of minerals was all but invented by US, Pakistani and British intelligence agencies, which created the mujahedin of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 
A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by the Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.

 

Read more: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14254-the-real-invasion-of-africa-and-other-recent-not-made-for-hollywood-holy-wars

Shared by Shriram Varadarajan

Busting the “Ageing Population” myth

On Tuesday, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) published their Population White Paper, that projects a population increase to 6.9 million by 2030. The premise of this White Paper was “to address this demographic challenge” associated with low birthrates and an ageing population.
This premise (that an ageing population is BAD) of the report is however flawed. It is increasingly accepted that an ageing population does not have any significant detrimental socioeconomic impacts.
It is deeply worrying that the Government still continues to believe that an ageing population is definitely bad, and would not even question this belief before proposing ideas to “solve” this “problem”. The Government’s solution of an ever-increasing population is also that of a vicious cycle.
“Problem”: ageing population
Solution: increase population
Result: more old people in the future (i.e. ageing population delayed)
Time to bust the myth…

 

Read more: https://www.facebook.com/notes/gordon-lee/busting-the-ageing-population-myth/10151248027453175

Shared by Jonathan Tan

The Perils of the Siege Mentality in Singapore

Someone once told me that the only constant in Singapore is change, and I was going to agree: each time I return from abroad, new glitzy buildings decorate our skyline (the Avatar-land that is gardens by the bay being the latest addition), some of my favourite hawker stalls would have disappeared or moved, and prices of things would have changed, mostly upwards.
But two things, I realized, have never changed. They seem to be the few constants in Singapore’s history: one is the ruling PAP; the other is the siege mentality it has inspired from day one. Singapore, we are told, is unique. Our circumstances are unique (as if the same cannot be said of just about every other country on earth), and what they have tried to drill into our minds from a very young age, is that we are also uniquely vulnerable.
What the PAP has done, in essence, is to have played up global and regional uncertainties and the narrow margin for error in policy formulation, impressing upon the citizens that the current political system and its attendant peculiarities is a function of necessity rather than choice.

 

Read more: http://clockworkskies.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/the-perils-of-a-siege-mentality-in-singapore/

Shared by Ansel Lim