Quick Roundup 331

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Of Chemicals and Epistemology

Monica has some further thoughts on the BPA backlash in particular and on epistemology in general over at her blog, Spark a Synapse.

First, despite some similarities to past environmentalist scares, she is not so sure that it necessarily is one:

The claims that BPA is an estrogen mimicker are somewhat concerning, as it has been pointed out that even natural phytoestrogens (isoflavones) in the soy products hyped by the vegetarian and environmentalist communities as healthy may alter sexual development. And because of that, I don't see clear evidence that BPA is a specifically environmentalist scare tactic. While I’m skeptical of any impending doom from minute amounts of a chemical in plastic, I’m also skeptical of blanket assumptions of the safety of synthetic or natural products....
And her look at BPA causes her to consider the question of how people arrive at decisions that rely on input from "trusted sources".
They see person A claiming C, and then they personally validate information C. A thus becomes a trusted source. Then, when person A or person B (who is associated with person A) claims D, they believe D simply because they already believe person A who said C. In other words, a person’s beliefs are often based in the “authority” of someone else -- this can occur with or without some mix of their own process of validation. Furthermore, when persons A or B attack person E as being pseudoscientific, the facts at this point are often not even investigated by the observer due to their reliance on persons A and B as authorities.
She also discusses non-objectivity among scientists. Very interesting.

Great Britain's New State Religion

Via HBL is a article about how multiculturalism and the lack of separation of church and state are helping to impose Islamic law in Britain. The web site of Church of England News appears not to have functional archives, but another web site has reprinted the article. I excerpt from there:
If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.

At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland's aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen's clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging 'Muslim women only' sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day -- a Monty Pythonesque scenario of lunacy, but astonishingly true. Prisons are replete with imams who are keen to inculcate conservative Islam in any inmates who are deemed to be culturally 'Muslim': the Prison service in effect treats such prisoners as a cultural block to be preached to by imams at will. Would the Prison service send all those with 'C of E' on their papers to confirmation classes with the chaplain?! We could go on.

The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. [bold added]
The hospital scene, aside from being patently absurd, reminds me of the following Ayn Rand quote: "When I say 'capitalism,' I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism -- with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church."

How much easier would it be for Britain to stem this tide were its economy more free from the state?

Epstein on High Gas Prices

The next time you hear someone complaining about how the gas companies have us over a barrel, drop everything and send him over to Alex Epstein's latest:
Americans deserve to know the story--in all its gory detail--of what their government has done and is doing to cause high prices at the pump, and to make gasoline--indeed, all energy--more scarce and more expensive in the future. A congressional investigation of Congress would be a great public service.
That's how he closes. Go there now and see how he builds up to it.

Objectivist Carnival

C. August has posted this week's edition of the Objectivist Carnival over at Titanic Deck Chairs.

-- CAV


: (1) Corrected missing hyperlink to article about Islam in Britain. (2) Minor edits.

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