AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1446551 times)

Offline knarf

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Farhana Yamin is one of the most respected climate change lawyers in the world. She has represented various countries at the UN & helped negotiate the Paris Agreement. She has now turned towards direct action as the way out of this crisis. Join her. Stand up for the planet.




This was a tweet that came in one hour ago.

https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 08:46:11 AM by knarf »
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Offline Eddie

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Re: This Interactive Map Tracks White Supremacist Hate Crimes in America
« Reply #12436 on: April 16, 2019, 09:27:29 AM »
The Anti-Defamation League documented and mapped 4,500 hate-related incidents.



A year after Charlottesville, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has released an interactive map of hate-driven violence in the US documenting upwards of 4,500 incidents and activities.
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The result is one organization’s look at a countrywide issue—the US has seen an uptick in race-related crimes in all of its major cities, up 12.5 percent in 2017, according to a California State University report. The majority of these hate crimes are anti-Black and anti-Semitic, according to that study, but vary widely depending on the city.

“There’s a sense of urgency, a rising number of hate incidents,” said Oren Segal, director of the Center on Extremism.

The team at the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish non-profit organization that has historically spoken out against Anti-Semitism, has been compiling data on anti-Semitic crimes for years. For the map, the team separated its proprietary data into categories including extremist murders, anti-Semitic incidents, and white supremacist events.

The incidents range from the white supremacist group Identity Evropa handing out fliers, to terrorist/plot attacks, such as the case of Taylor Michael Wilson, a white supremacist in Nebraska who carried a loaded gun onto an Amtrak before he was found and arrested.

The incidents are spread throughout the country, though more prevalent in heavily populated areas on each coast. New York City, for example, had 102 anti-Semitic incidents, compared to Miami, which had seven. Segal said the data reflects not only the density of the areas, but those dealing with more extremist activity, such as Texas and Indiana.

But tracking the hate crimes is not always straightforward. “Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision between anti-government extremism and white supremacy; sometimes these ideologies overlap,” Segal said.
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The map builds on a compendium of tracking race crime across the country—important to view collectively since some organizations have been criticized for including their own agenda. This includes the Anti-Defamation League, which has been accused of anti-Muslim rhetoric by some far left groups.

Other organizations documenting hate-driven violence include ProPublica in its Documenting Hate project, the Southern Poverty Law Center with Hatewatch, a platform that tracks and analyzes radical right activities, and Muslim Advocates, with a map of hate-related incidents reflecting the Islamophobia that has been rampant since the election.

https://motherboard.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/3kyjz9/this-interactive-map-tracks-white-supremacist-hate-crimes-in-america

More scare bullshit. It's mostly hype.

The ADL calls any incident where a Jewish person even perceives that they are being singled out for their Jewish identity a "hate crime".

The "interactive map" is not limited to hate crimes by white supremacists, it is supposed to be a map of ALL hate crimes, as so defined by the ADL. The ADL is very eager to call just about anything a hate crime. They called the Parkland shooter a white supremacist because some of the kids that were killed were Jewish. There isn't ANY evidence at that was a racially motivated crime.

But the headline makes it look like every dot on the map was put there because of some act by a white supremacist. This is simply hyperbole.

People need to understand that non-profits whose entire purpose is to "expose" hate have a real vested interest in making sure they have a lot to report. The ADL is taking a tactic from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This reference below is from a middle-of-the-road Jewish online magazine that isn't afraid to call the ADL out. They (the ADL) vehemently disagree, of course.

https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/273777/correcting-the-adls-false-anti-semitism-statistic



« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 09:33:43 AM by Eddie »
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Offline knarf

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One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority
« Reply #12437 on: April 16, 2019, 04:24:24 PM »
In a major ethical leap for the tech world, Chinese start-ups have built algorithms that the government uses to track members of a largely Muslim minority group.


SenseTime is among the Chinese artificial intelligence companies developing facial recognition technology.

The Chinese government has drawn wide international condemnation for its harsh crackdown on ethnic Muslims in its western region, including holding as many as a million of them in detention camps.

Now, documents and interviews show that the authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling, experts said.

The facial recognition technology, which is integrated into China’s rapidly expanding networks of surveillance cameras, looks exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review. The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism.

The technology and its use to keep tabs on China’s 11 million Uighurs were described by five people with direct knowledge of the systems, who requested anonymity because they feared retribution. The New York Times also reviewed databases used by the police, government procurement documents and advertising materials distributed by the A.I. companies that make the systems.

Chinese authorities already maintain a vast surveillance net, including tracking people’s DNA, in the western region of Xinjiang, which many Uighurs call home. But the scope of the new systems, previously unreported, extends that monitoring into many other corners of the country.


Shoppers lined up for identification checks outside the Kashgar Bazaar last fall. Members of the largely Muslim Uighur minority have been under Chinese surveillance and persecution for years.

The police are now using facial recognition technology to target Uighurs in wealthy eastern cities like Hangzhou and Wenzhou and across the coastal province of Fujian, said two of the people. Law enforcement in the central Chinese city of Sanmenxia, along the Yellow River, ran a system that over the course of a month this year screened whether residents were Uighurs 500,000 times.

Police documents show demand for such capabilities is spreading. Almost two dozen police departments in 16 different provinces and regions across China sought such technology beginning in 2018, according to procurement documents. Law enforcement from the central province of Shaanxi, for example, aimed to acquire a smart camera system last year that “should support facial recognition to identify Uighur/non-Uighur attributes.”

Some police departments and technology companies described the practice as “minority identification,” though three of the people said that phrase was a euphemism for a tool that sought to identify Uighurs exclusively. Uighurs often look distinct from China’s majority Han population, more closely resembling people from Central Asia. Such differences make it easier for software to single them out.
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For decades, democracies have had a near monopoly on cutting-edge technology. Today, a new generation of start-ups catering to Beijing’s authoritarian needs are beginning to set the tone for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Similar tools could automate biases based on skin color and ethnicity elsewhere.

“Take the most risky application of this technology, and chances are good someone is going to try it,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. “If you make a technology that can classify people by an ethnicity, someone will use it to repress that ethnicity.”

From a technology standpoint, using algorithms to label people based on race or ethnicity has become relatively easy. Companies like I.B.M. advertise software that can sort people into broad groups.

But China has broken new ground by identifying one ethnic group for law enforcement purposes. One Chinese start-up, CloudWalk, outlined a sample experience in marketing its own surveillance systems. The technology, it said, could recognize “sensitive groups of people.”

“If originally one Uighur lives in a neighborhood, and within 20 days six Uighurs appear,” it said on its website, “it immediately sends alarms” to law enforcement.

In practice, the systems are imperfect, two of the people said. Often, their accuracy depends on environmental factors like lighting and the positioning of cameras.

In the United States and Europe, the debate in the artificial intelligence community has focused on the unconscious biases of those designing the technology. Recent tests showed facial recognition systems made by companies like I.B.M. and Amazon were less accurate at identifying the features of darker-skinned people.

China’s efforts raise starker issues. While facial recognition technology uses aspects like skin tone and face shapes to sort images in photos or videos, it must be told by humans to categorize people based on social definitions of race or ethnicity. Chinese police, with the help of the start-ups, have done that.

“It’s something that seems shocking coming from the U.S., where there is most likely racism built into our algorithmic decision making, but not in an overt way like this,” said Jennifer Lynch, surveillance litigation director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There’s not a system designed to identify someone as African-American, for example.”

The Chinese A.I. companies behind the software include Yitu, Megvii, SenseTime, and CloudWalk, which are each valued at more than $1 billion. Another company, Hikvision, that sells cameras and software to process the images, offered a minority recognition function, but began phasing it out in 2018, according to one of the people.

The companies’ valuations soared in 2018 as China’s Ministry of Public Security, its top police agency, set aside billions of dollars under two government plans, called Skynet and Sharp Eyes, to computerize surveillance, policing and intelligence collection.

In a statement, a SenseTime spokeswoman said she checked with “relevant teams,” who were not aware its technology was being used to profile. Megvii said in a statement it was focused on “commercial not political solutions,” adding, “we are concerned about the well-being and safety of individual citizens, not about monitoring groups.” CloudWalk and Yitu did not respond to requests for comment.

China’s Ministry of Public Security did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

Selling products with names like Fire Eye, Sky Eye and Dragonfly Eye, the start-ups promise to use A.I. to analyze footage from China’s surveillance cameras. The technology is not mature — in 2017 Yitu promoted a one-in-three success rate when the police responded to its alarms at a train station — and many of China’s cameras are not powerful enough for facial recognition software to work effectively.

Yet they help advance China’s architecture for social control. To make the algorithms work, the police have put together face-image databases for people with criminal records, mental illnesses, records of drug use, and those who petitioned the government over grievances, according to two of the people and procurement documents. A national database of criminals at large includes about 300,000 faces, while a list of people with a history of drug use in the city of Wenzhou totals 8,000 faces, they said.

Using a process called machine learning, engineers feed data to artificial intelligence systems to train them to recognize patterns or traits. In the case of the profiling, they would provide thousands of labeled images of both Uighurs and non-Uighurs. That would help generate a function to distinguish the ethnic group.

The A.I. companies have taken money from major investors. Fidelity International and Qualcomm Ventures were a part of a consortium that invested $620 million in SenseTime. Sequoia invested in Yitu. Megvii is backed by Sinovation Ventures, the fund of the well-known Chinese tech investor Kai-Fu Lee.

A Sinovation spokeswoman said the fund had recently sold a part of its stake in Megvii and relinquished its seat on the board. Fidelity declined to comment. Sequoia and Qualcomm did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Mr. Lee, a booster of Chinese A.I., has argued that China has an advantage in developing A.I. because its leaders are less fussed by “legal intricacies” or “moral consensus.”

“We are not passive spectators in the story of A.I. — we are the authors of it,” Mr. Lee wrote last year. “That means the values underpinning our visions of an A.I. future could well become self-fulfilling prophecies.” He declined to comment on his fund’s investment in Megvii or its practices.

Ethnic profiling within China’s tech industry isn’t a secret, the people said. It has become so common that one of the people likened it to the short-range wireless technology Bluetooth. Employees at Megvii were warned about the sensitivity of discussing ethnic targeting publicly, another person said.

China has devoted major resources toward tracking Uighurs, citing ethnic violence in Xinjiang and Uighur terrorist attacks elsewhere. Beijing has thrown hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and others in Xinjiang into re-education camps.

The software extends the state’s ability to label Uighurs to the rest of the country. One national database stores the faces of all Uighurs who leave Xinjiang, according to two of the people.

Government procurement documents from the past two years also show demand has spread. In the city of Yongzhou in southern Hunan Province, law enforcement officials sought software to “characterize and search whether or not someone is a Uighur,” according to one document.

In two counties in Guizhou Province, the police listed a need for Uighur classification. One asked for the ability to recognize Uighurs based on identification photos at better than 97 percent accuracy. In the central megacity of Chongqing and the region of Tibet, the police put out tenders for similar software. And a procurement document for Hebei Province described how the police should be notified when multiple Uighurs booked the same flight on the same day.

A study in 2018 by the authorities described a use for other types of databases. Co-written by a Shanghai police official, the paper said facial recognition systems installed near schools could screen for people included in databases of the mentally ill or crime suspects.

One database generated by Yitu software and reviewed by The Times showed how the police in the city of Sanmenxia used software running on cameras to attempt to identify residents more than 500,000 times over about a month beginning in mid-February.

Included in the code alongside tags like “rec_gender” and “rec_sunglasses” was “rec_uygur,” which returned a 1 if the software believed it had found a Uighur. Within the half million identifications the cameras attempted to record, the software guessed it saw Uighurs 2,834 times. Images stored alongside the entry would allow the police to double check.

Yitu and its rivals have ambitions to expand overseas. Such a push could easily put ethnic profiling software in the hands of other governments, said Jonathan Frankle, an A.I. researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I don’t think it’s overblown to treat this as an existential threat to democracy,” Mr. Frankle said. “Once a country adopts a model in this heavy authoritarian mode, it’s using data to enforce thought and rules in a much more deep-seated fashion than might have been achievable 70 years ago in the Soviet Union. To that extent, this is an urgent crisis we are slowly sleepwalking our way into.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/technology/china-surveillance-artificial-intelligence-racial-profiling.html
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 04:27:23 PM by knarf »
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Offline knarf

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Farhana Yamin, env. lawyer arrested at ER protest, interviewed on podcast
« Reply #12438 on: April 16, 2019, 07:30:08 PM »
  Mass protests are set to disrupt London and other cities on Monday over politicians’ failure to tackle climate change. Matthew Green has written about Extinction Rebellion, the group behind the protests, for this week’s FT Weekend Magazine, and he spoke to Neville Hawcock about its origins and aims, along with one of the movement’s leading voices, environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin. Read Matthew's article here

A MUST LISTEN

https://www.ft.com/content/d74b437f-13c3-41af-8d71-c5fd965b4710
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Metro Denver school districts cancel classes Wednesday amid threat
« Reply #12439 on: April 17, 2019, 04:25:41 AM »
DENVER — Most major school districts in metro Denver have canceled classes Wednesday amid what the FBI called a credible threat to schools in the area.

Districts and schools that have canceled classes are listed below. It will be updated as more are added.

    Academy of Charter Schools
    Adams 12 (Five Star)
    Adams 14
    Aurora Public Schools
    Boulder Valley School District
    Brighton 27J
    Cherry Creek School District
    Christ the King School PK-8
    Clear Creek School District
    Denver Public Schools
    Denver Cooperative Preschool
    Douglas County School District
    Englewood School Districts
    Graland Country Day School
    Greeley-Evans School District 6
    Holy Trinity Catholic School of Westminster
    Humanex Academy
    Jefferson County
    KingsWay Christian Academy
    Littleton Public Schools
    Mapleton Adams County District 1
    Notre Dame Catholic Parish and School
    Sheridan School District
    St. Mary’s of Littleton
    St. Vrain Valley Schools
    Thompson School District
    Vanguard Classical School
    Weld RE-8
    Westminster Public Schools

In a letter from DPS, district spokesperson Will Jones said superintendents from across the metro area discussed the threat and collectively decided to cancel classes Wednesday.

“The decision was based on information provided by law enforcement and analysis provided by threat assessment experts. Based on the fact that the FBI have identified a person who represents a credible threat and her whereabouts are unknown at this time, the districts agreed that it was best to exercise extreme caution and close schools for the day,” Jones said.

According to the FBI, Sol Pais is the woman wanted in the case. She is infatuated with the Columbine massacre and purchased a shotgun and ammunition in the Denver area after arriving at Denver International Airport on Monday night.

https://kdvr.com/2019/04/16/denver-metro-districts-cancel-classes-wednesday-amid-metro-wide-threat/
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Portugal declares 'energy crisis' as fuel supply runs low
« Reply #12440 on: April 17, 2019, 04:37:00 AM »
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal declared an “energy crisis” on Tuesday after a strike by fuel truck drivers hit the country, forcing the government to order striking workers to get back on the road immediately as airports resorted to emergency reserves.

Demanding better workers’ rights, fuel truck drivers started a strike on Monday but guaranteed the operation of minimum services. According to the Socialist government, however, the minimum service has not been provided and fuel supplies are running out.

In Faro, one of the country’s biggest tourist hubs, the airport resorted to emergency fuel reserves. Lisbon airport has also been affected.

“At both airports, where fuel supply wasn’t ensured, we have reached critical levels of fuel reserves for aircraft refueling,” Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told reporters.

Alongside oil companies, Portugal’s government and security forces are sending dozens of tanker trucks to Lisbon to supply the capital’s airport with fuel.

An energy crisis was declared by the government on Tuesday evening, meaning security and emergency services now have priority when it comes to refueling at gas stations. In addition, an alert was issued to ensure security forces are mobilized to run fuel supply operations and guarantee people’s safety.

The government said in a statement the strike was also affecting fire stations, ports, public transport companies and gas stations.

“I want to ask drivers to comply with the law and with the determined minimum services required,” Siza Vieira said, explaining the decree passed ordering drivers to return to work.

The National Union of Dangerous Goods Drivers said the strike would continue until its demands are met.

Across the country, panicked drivers queued outside gas stations to fill up their tanks. More than 200 gas stations were already shut.

Only one flight has been canceled, but according to the minister, there could be more cancellations in the next few hours if supplies are not resumed.

Air traffic controllers said on Twitter that a Ryanair flight had to stop in Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain, to refuel the aircraft before heading back to Lisbon.

Portugal’s national airline, TAP, has a contingency plan to reduce the impact of the strike.

Airport authority ANA is monitoring the situation and has asked passengers traveling from Lisbon or Faro to check their flight status with airlines.

Fuel company Prio, which operates in Portugal, told news agency Lusa that it expected almost half its stations to run out of gas or diesel by the end of the day.

“This could aggravate if the truckers’ union does not advise its members to comply with the order issued by the government to fulfill the minimum services to supply stations,” Prio said in a statement.

Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the government was trying to “stabilize and normalize the situation”, especially with families traveling home for Easter.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-portugal-strike-fuel/portugal-declares-energy-crisis-as-fuel-supply-runs-low-idUSKCN1RS1TT?utm_source=reddit.com
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White supremacist gets life for running down black man
« Reply #12441 on: April 17, 2019, 04:47:31 AM »
A white supremacist ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years




This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.



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White supremacist gets life for running down black man
A white supremacist ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years
This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.
(Multnomah County Sheriff's Office via AP) This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.
By The Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. — Apr 16, 2019 10:19 PM

A white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.

Russell Courtier's sentencing came after jurors in March found Courtier, 40, guilty of murder, hit-and-run driving and the hate crime of second-degree intimidation in the death of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .

Courtier and Colleen Hunt were in a Jeep driven by Courtier in August 2016 when he was encouraged by Hunt to drive into Bruce after the two fought outside a convenience store in the Portland suburb of Gresham, authorities have said.

Prosecutors argued Courtier was motivated by his white supremacist beliefs — saying he was a member of the European Kindred white supremacist prison gang and was wearing the gang's logo on his baseball cap and had its tattoo on his leg when he encountered Bruce.

Surveillance video showed Bruce standing outside the store when Courtier drove up and parked. A fight erupted, but it was not clear how it started, said prosecutor David Hannon.

The video then captured Bruce running down a street and a sidewalk in an attempt to get away from Courtier, who chased Bruce in the Jeep and hit him. Bruce died several days later.

Hannon called Courtier violent and "unapologetic" for his white supremacist views.

Bruce's mother, Christina Miles, told Courtier in court that "you allowed the devil to misguide you and take the life of such a beautiful young spirit."

Larnell Bruce Sr., the victim's father, said he hopes Courtier spends his time in prison thinking about whether he wants his own son, who is 8, to grow up among white supremacists.

"That ideology that you have is not good for anybody," Bruce said.

Courtier teared up in court, but did not speak during the sentencing because his lawyers said they advised him against doing so. He is already serving a four-year sentence for his role in a 2015 bar attack.

Hunt pleaded guilty to manslaughter, agreed to accept a 10-year sentence and was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday afternoon.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/white-supremacist-life-running-black-man-62438702
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The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem - the ocean is dying
« Reply #12442 on: April 17, 2019, 04:56:54 AM »
I have some bad news for you—the ocean is dying. And it gets worse, because when the ocean goes it’s taking us with it.

One of the ocean’s finest qualities is its seductive sense of mystery—there’s still so much that we don’t know about it. But a dangerous byproduct of this is that the ocean isn’t close to the top of most people’s concerns when they consider climate change. It’s “out of sight, out of mind” when we can least afford it.

Ocean acidification has been called the “other carbon dioxide problem” because it’s not the one causing temperature increases observed in the ocean’s waters—that’s global warming. Acidification is the result of changes in ocean chemistry caused by its absorption of a vast quantity of carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution. When carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean it reacts with water to form carbonic acid, which has cumulatively caused ocean water’s acidity to rise dramatically.

Consider the vast size of the global ocean, then reflect on how much carbon dioxide it had to absorb for its acidity to increase 30 percent in just 200 years—around 525 billion tons. The speed with which this has occurred is thought to be the most rapid change in ocean chemistry in the last 50 million years.

The most widely recognized effect of acidification is the inability of shelled organisms—coral, oysters, starfish, and zooplankton among them—to either form shells or prevent the dissolving of existing shells. Its implications hit the commercial shellfish industry some time ago; in 2007 the West Coast of the US began to experience widespread oyster hatchery failures. What began as a working collaborative among Pacific Coast states and the Canadian province of British Columbia has evolved into the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, currently with 28 government members and 45 affiliate members working to address acidification globally.

Zooplankton are tiny animals with an outsize role in the ocean food chain. Larger ocean animals eat vast quantities of it, or they eat animals that eat zooplankton. If zooplankton can’t form or maintain shells it won’t survive. It’s not difficult to follow this train of thought all the way to how disruptions on such a large scale would affect the many millions of humans who subsist on food from the ocean. And that doesn’t include the industrial harvesting of seafood for people who simply enjoy it.

Something else most folks are unaware of is how acidification affects the physical chemistry and behavior of some fish. Fish blood becomes more acidic when its cells take in carbonic acid to create chemical balance with the surrounding seawater. But more acidic blood is a threat to survival, so the fish burns extra energy to secrete out excess acid. More energy for this process means less energy for catching and digesting food, eluding predators, and reproducing.

Acidic seawater has also been observed to affect how some fishes’ brains process information. Typically fish are aware of and flee from more noisy predators, but with elevated seawater acid levels they can “forget” to do so. They also tend to wander farther from home base and can’t “smell” their way back.

Dr. Judith Weis, a dedicated Sierra Club volunteer with the Grassroots Network’s Marine Team, is a Professor Emerita of biological sciences at Rutgers University with extensive research experience in ocean health. “While the concerns about shell formation are worrisome, equally if not more concerning are behavioral changes—impaired migration and navigation in fish and other animals due to effects on the olfactory system,” says Weis. “Most people are unaware of this, despite many studies on the topic. One of them, on clownfish, was dubbed 'Losing Nemo.' Threats such as this to marine ecosystems could cause a domino effect that disrupts economies and the ability to feed Earth’s growing population.”

Separately and together, the ocean’s carbon dioxide problems—acidification and global warming—pose an existential threat to the ocean, and by extension to the humans responsible for creating this mess in the first place. It’s time to stop talking and slow-walking necessary change and start acting with urgency. Because unless the tide turns soon, the life force that is the ocean will be no more.

https://www.sierraclub.org/articles/2019/04/other-carbon-dioxide-problem
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The evidence that Jesus ever existed is weaker than you might think
« Reply #12443 on: April 17, 2019, 05:03:42 AM »
Before the European Enlightenment, virtually all New Testament experts assumed that handed-down stories about Jesus were first recorded by eye witnesses and were largely biographical. That is no longer the case.

Assuming that the Jesus stories had their beginnings in one single person rather than a composite of several—or even in mythology itself—he probably was a wandering Jewish teacher in Roman-occupied Judea who offended the authorities and was executed.  Beyond that, any knowledge about the figure at the center of the Christian religion is remarkably open to debate (and vigorously debated among relevant scholars).

Where was Jesus born? Did he actually have twelve disciples? Do we know with certainty anything he said or did?

As antiquities scholarship improves, it becomes increasingly clear that the origins of Christianity are controversial, convoluted, and not very coherent.

1. The more we know the less we know for sure. After centuries in which the gospel stories about Jesus were taken as gospel truth, the Enlightenment gave birth to a new breed of biblical historians. Most people have heard that Thomas Jefferson secretly took a pair of scissors to the Bible, keeping only the parts he thought were historical. His version of the New Testament is still available today. Jefferson’s snipping was a crude early attempt to address a problem recognized by many educated men of his time: It had become clear that any histories the Bible might contain had been garbled by myth. (One might argue that the Protestant Reformation’s rejection of the books of the Bible that they called “apocrypha,” was an even earlier, even cruder attempt to purge the Good Book of obvious mythology.)

In the two centuries that have passed since Jefferson began clipping, scores of biblical historians—including modern scholars armed with the tools of archeology, anthropology and linguistics—have tried repeatedly to identify “the historical Jesus” and have failed. The more scholars study the roots of Christianity, the more confused and uncertain our knowledge becomes. Currently, we have a plethora of contradictory versions of Jesus—an itinerant preacher, a zealot, an apocalyptic prophet, an Essene heretic, a Roman sympathizer, and many more —each with a different scholar to confidently tout theirs as the only real one. Instead of a convergent view of early Christianity and its founder, we are faced instead with a cacophony of conflicting opinions. This is precisely what happens when people faced with ambiguous and contradictory information cannot bring themselves to say, we don’t know.

This scholastic mess has been an open secret in biblical history circles for decades. Over forty years ago, professors like Robin S. Barbour and Cambridge’s Morna Hooker were complaining about the naïve assumptions underlying the criteria biblical scholars used to gauge the “authentic” elements of the Jesus stories. Today, even Christian historians complain the problem is no better; most recently Anthony Le Donne and Chris Keith in the 2012 book Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity.

2. The Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. Every bit of our ostensibly biographical information for Jesus comes from just four texts – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Though most Christians assume that associates of Jesus wrote these texts, no objective biblical scholars think so. None of the four gospels claims to be written by eyewitnesses, and all were originally anonymous. Only later were they attributed to men named in the stories themselves.

While the four gospels were traditionally held to be four independent accounts, textual analysis suggests that they all actually are adaptations of the earliest gospel, Mark. Each has been edited and expanded upon, repeatedly, by unknown editors. It is worth noting that Mark features the most fallible, human, no-frills Jesus—and, more importantly, may be an allegory.

All of the gospels contain anachronisms and errors that show they were written long after the events they describe, and most likely far from the setting of their stories. Even more troubling, they don’t just have minor nitpicky contradictions; they have basic, even crucial, contradictions.

3. The Gospels are not corroborated by outside historians. Despite generations of apologists insisting Jesus is vouched for by plenty of historical sources like Tacitus or Suetonius, none of these hold up to close inspection. The most commonly-cited of these is the Testimonium Flavianum, a disputed passage in the writings of ancient historian Flavius Josephus, written around the years 93/94, generations after the presumed time of Jesus. Today historians overwhelmingly recognize this odd Jesus passage is a forgery. (For one thing, no one but the suspected forger ever quotes it – for 500 years!) But defenders of Christianity are loathe to give it up, and supporters now argue it is only a partial forgery.

Either way, as New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman points out, the Testimonium Flavaniummerely repeats common Christian beliefs of the late first century, and even if it were 100% genuine would provide no evidence about where those beliefs came from. This same applies to other secular references to Jesus–they definitely attest to the existence of Christians and recount Christian beliefs at the time, but offer no independent record of a historical Jesus.

In sum, while well-established historic figures like Alexander the Great are supported by multiple lines of evidence, in the case of Jesus we have only one line of evidence: the writings of believers involved in spreading the fledgling religion.

4. Early Christian scriptures weren’t the same as ours. At the time Christianity emerged, gospels were a common religious literary genre, each promoting a different version or set of sacred stories. For example, as legends of Jesus sprang up, they began to include “infancy gospels.” As historian Robert M. Price notes, just as Superman comics spun off into stories of young Superboy in Smallville, Christians wrote stories of young Jesus in Nazareth using his divine powers to bring clay birds to life or peevishly strike his playmates dead.

Early Christians didn’t agree on which texts were sacred, and those included in our New Testament were selected to elevate one competing form of Christianity, that of the Roman Church over others. (Note that the Roman Church also proclaimed itself “catholic” meaning universal.)

Our two oldest complete New Testament collections, Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanusonly go back to the beginning of the fourth century. To make matters worse, their books differ from each other – and from our bibles. We have books they don’t have; they have books we don’t have, like the Shepherd of Hermas and the Gospel of Barnabas.

In addition to gospels, the New Testament includes another religious literary genre—the epistle or letter. Some of our familiar New Testament epistles like 1 Peter, 2 Peter and Jude were rejected as forgeries even in ancient times; today scholars identify almost all of the New Testament books as forgeries except for six attributed to Paul (and even his authentic letters have been re-edited).

5. Christian martyrs are not proof (if they even were real). Generations of Christian apologists have pointed to the existence of Christian martyrs as proof their religion is true, asking “Who would die for a lie?” The short answer, of course, that all too many true believers have died in the service of falsehoods they passionately believed to be true—and not just Christians. The obvious existence of Muslim jihadis has made this argument less common in recent years

But who says that the Christian stories of widespread martyrdom themselves were real? The Book of Acts records only two martyr accounts, and secular scholars doubt that the book contains much if any actual history. The remaining Christian martyr tales first appeared centuries later. Historian Candida Moss’ 2014 book The Myth of Persecution gives a revealing look at how early Christian fathers fabricated virtually the entire tradition of Christian martyrdom—a fact that was, ironically enough, largely uncovered and debunked by later Christian scholars.

6. No other way to explain the existence of Christianity? Most people, Christians and outsiders alike, find it difficult to imagine how Christianity could have arisen if our Bible stories aren’t true. Beyond a doubt, Christianity could not have arisen if people in the first century hadn’t believed them to be true. But the stories themselves?

Best-selling New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman believes that the biblical stories about Jesus had their kernel in the person of a single itinerant preacher, as do most New Testament scholars. Historian Richard Carrier and David Fitzgerald (co-author of this article) take an opposing position—that the original kernel was a set of ancient mythic tropes to which unsuspecting believers added historical details. Ehrman and Carrier may be on opposite sides of this debate, but both agree on one important fact: the only thing needed to explain the rise of Christianity is the belief fostered by the rival Christian preachers of the first century.

Witchcraft, bigfoot, the idea that an American president was born in Kenya, golden tablets revealed to a 19th century huckster by the Angel Moroni . . . we all know that false ideas can be sticky—that they can spread from person to person, getting elaborated along the way until they become virtually impossible to eradicate. The beginnings of Christianity may be shrouded in mystery, but the viral spread of passionately-held false ideas is becoming better understood by the year.

Keeping Options Open

University of Sheffield’s Philip Davies—who believes that Christianity probably began with a single Jesus, acknowledges that the evidence is fragile and problematic. Davies argues that the only way the field of New Testament studies can maintain any academic respectability is by acknowledging the possibility that Jesus didn’t exist. He further notes this wouldn’t generate any controversy in most fields of ancient history, but that New Testament studies is not a normal case.

Brandon University’s Kurt Noll goes even further and lays out a case that the question doesn’t matter: Whether the original Jesus was real or mythological is irrelevant to the religion that was founded in his name.

That is because either way, the Christ at the heart of Christianity is a figure woven from the fabric of mythology. The stories that bear his name draw on ancient templates imbedded in the Hebrew religion and those of the surrounding region. They were handed down by word of mouth in a cultural context filled with magical beings and miracles. Demons caused epilepsy. Burnt offerings made it rain. Medical cures included mandrakes and dove blood. Angels and ghosts appeared to people in dreams. Gods and other supernatural beings abounded and not infrequently crossed over from their world to ours.

Who, in the midst of all of this, was Jesus? We may never know.


https://www.rawstory.com/2019/04/evidence-jesus-ever-existed-weaker-might-think/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

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Using Behavioral Economics in Digital Marketing to Entice Consumers
« Reply #12444 on: April 17, 2019, 05:12:27 AM »
According to the 4 types of cognitive biases


There are a lot of unconscious biases that control our shopping habits.

The field of behavioral economics received increased attention from both media and marketers when U.S. academic Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2017 for incorporating psychological assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making.

Cognitive biases have been used in marketing for a long time, often unknowingly. As engagement with customers increasingly moves online, cognitive biases offer new opportunities for marketers.

There are many cognitive biases, and below we have selected four to discuss how they are being or could be used with great effect online.
Decision paralysis

Is more choice always an advantage? It might not be. Researchers have found that when faced with too many options, we are unable to evaluate them all and, overwhelmed by choice, we might choose not to choose. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Tesco, the U.K.’s biggest retailer, recently decided to remove about one third of the 90,000 products available on its shelves in reaction to the increasing market shares of discounters offering 2,000 to 3,000 products.

Ecommerce brands have an advantage over brick-and-mortar supermarkets. Instead of reducing the number of products they offer, they can help the shopper overcome decision paralysis by making the search for the right product as easy as possible. To help its customer find the right accommodation, for instance, Airbnb offers a wide range of filters according to price, number of beds, amenities offered, etc.

Scarcity principle

People are motivated by shortage: the rarer or more difficult a product or an offer is to obtain, the more valuable it becomes in consumers’ eyes.

In brick-and-mortar stores where stock can be visible, it is easier to demonstrate a shortage. Yet online retailers have been creative in how they tap into this bias by communicating scarcity with real-time numbers, such as limited quantities or a narrow window of time. Booking.com shows the number of hotel rooms left at a certain price, while clothing outlet Zalando Lounge limits the validity of items in the basket to 20 minutes before removing them.
Endowment effect

The endowment effect occurs when we overvalue something that we own and become reluctant to part with it. People are often willing to pay more to keep something they feel they already own while new customers will be less inclined to pay the same price.

The endowment effect is a cornerstone of new business models, such as Stitch Fix, an online styling service. Based on a detailed customer style profile, the startup mails a selection of clothing, shoes and accessories. The customer can try on the items at home, keep what they like and send back the rest. This is where the endowment effect kicks in: Once the customer has received and tried the items, they feel a sense of attachment and will be more likely to keep them.
Decoy effect

The decoy effect is a phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a change in preference between two options when presented with a third option that is less desirable. Therefore, by presenting customers with additional choices, marketers can guide customers toward the option they want them to take.

UPC, a Swiss internet provider, added a third option to its choice of internet packages. Once the decoy “Happy home 50,” with 50 Mbit per second for $.99- per month was introduced, the more expensive of two other initial options looked much more interesting.

So, is this good or bad?

As with any other marketing tool, there is a fine line between using behavioral economics to improve customer’s experience and using it to manipulate consumers.

Indeed, the way marketers use cognitive biases does not always lead to added value for the customer. One example how not to apply behavioral economics comes from Uber. The car-sharing company has been using behavioral economics to influence its drivers’ behavior, inducing them to work longer hours, sometimes at hours or locations that were less lucrative for them.

To help marketers and policymakers remain on an ethical path, Thaler has identified these principles that should guide marketers or policymakers when applying cognitive biases: transparence, which says that nudges should never be misleading; ease to opt out, where the customer should be able to easily opt out of an option; and benefit, where the measure should aim at improving the welfare of those being nudged.

If marketers follow these principles, there is a great opportunity to apply behavioral economics in online retail to create real win-win situations and better customer experiences.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/using-behavioral-economics-in-digital-marketing-to-entice-consumers/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

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New psychology research suggests that the so-called “dark triad” of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism are three independent personality traits. The findings indicate the dark triad traits are not just different manifestations of the same underlying lack of empathy.

The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

“Aggressive and violent behaviour has serious impact on individuals and society as a whole. I want to understand what drives or underpins aggressive or antisocial tendencies in individuals with maladaptive personality traits,” said Nadja Heym, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and corresponding author of the study.

“Initially my PhD and then subsequent research looked at the associations of psychopathy with different forms of empathy, direct aggression and antisocial behaviour. Examining these associations in the context of the dark triad and more indirect (manipulative) forms of aggression is simply an extension to this research.”

The researchers used a dark triad personality survey and a multifaceted measure of empathy to assess 301 participants. Heym and her colleagues also assessed how often the participants engaged in interpersonal acts of indirect aggression, such as trying to embarrass someone, excluding someone from activities, or using emotional blackmail to coerce someone.

The three dark triad traits each had their own pattern of empathic responses. The three traits also had different relationships with aggression.

Those with high in psychopathy tended to score low on all five facets of empathy and psychopathy was also associated with all forms of indirect aggression.

But participants with high Machiavellianism scores only showed reduced empathy in two areas. They were less likely to put themselves in another person’s position by imagining what that person was feeling and also tended to be less responsive to emotional cues in immersive settings.

In other words, those high in Machiavellianism tended to disagree with statements such as “I always try to consider the other fellow’s feelings before I do something” and “I often get deeply involved with the feelings of a character in a film, play, or novel.”

Machiavellianism was also associated with guilt induction, but not any other form of indirect aggression.

Participants with high narcissism scores were also less responsive to emotional cues in immersive settings, but actually scored higher in one area of empathy; they were more likely to say they could see things from someone else’s perspective. Narcissism was unrelated to indirect aggression.

“Different maladaptive or dark traits are linked to different forms of aggression, and whilst narcissism has been traditionally seen as a dark trait and linked to aggression – this may be simply due to its links (or overlap) with the other two, much darker traits – psychopathy and Machiavellianism,” Heym told PsyPost.

“Our research suggests that narcissism is not as badly affected as these – in terms of its preserved empathic capacities and lack of association with indirect manipulative forms of aggression. Thus, just because someone is too self-involved and narcissistic, it doesn’t make them necessarily aggressive or dangerous.”

“It’s is therefore questionable whether we should lump these three traits together and see them as equally problematic – personally, I am a splitter and prefer a more fine-tuned approach – that is to look at them individually to better understand their unique impact on behaviour,” Heym explained.

“In a similar way, we need to also differentiate amongst different forms of empathic deficits (or capacities) in order to understand more precisely which aspects of functioning are affected, and thus, underpin specific forms of aggressive behaviour.”

The study — like all research — includes some caveats.

“Firstly, this study measured dark traits in the general population – that is, we did not measure personality disorders at the extreme ends of personality dysfunction. The findings therefore only pertain to individuals from the general population with elevated levels of certain constellations of dark traits. Though they partly mirror what we also see and expect at the extreme ends (e.g., in psychopaths), they need replicating in forensic/clinical populations,” Heym said.

“Secondly, indirect aggression was measured using self-reports, which have their own inherent limitations. Future research could include other-reports and more importantly, experimental paradigms to measure aggressive behaviour more directly.”

“Thirdly, whilst narcissistic traits were not uniquely (only by association) related to the indirect types of aggression studied (malicious humour, guild induction and social exclusion), it doesn’t mean that they are not aggressive per se. Narcissism, particularly the vulnerable type, may be more likely to behave aggressively in response to ego threat (such as personal criticism) – though as this is a reactive form of aggression, self-control might be a moderating factor here,” Heym explained.

The findings suggest that some concerns about narcissism could be overblown.

“From a societal viewpoint, there is concern that we live in a more ego-centred, attention seeking and self-obsessed narcissistic society where youth (and old) post never-ending streams of selfies on never-ending streams of social media. Our research is interesting in terms of suggesting that having elevated narcissistic traits is less problematic in the absence of the other dark traits,” Heym told PsyPost.

“So one contention is that there is an overlap with certain psychological constructs such as high levels of self-esteem, extraversion and lower levels of neuroticism or anxiety, which might reduce risk for internalising psychopathology (depression, anxiety disorders, etc) in the long term.

“On the other hand, the sought perfectionism in appearance might increase risk for vulnerable narcissism and anxiety. However, these notions need to be further studied to better understand the impact of such potential societal transitions towards more online/social media presence,” Heym added.

“Currently, I am taking the next step, looking at the Dark Tetrad – that includes sadism – and sexual aggression and violence. Testing different theoretical and aetiological models in order to understand the underpinning of deviant behaviour is important in order to inform intervention strategies.”

https://www.psypost.org/2019/04/study-uncovers-the-unique-links-between-dark-triad-traits-and-specific-empathic-deficits-53492
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline Eddie

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Re: The evidence that Jesus ever existed is weaker than you might think
« Reply #12446 on: April 17, 2019, 05:40:49 AM »
Before the European Enlightenment, virtually all New Testament experts assumed that handed-down stories about Jesus were first recorded by eye witnesses and were largely biographical. That is no longer the case.

Assuming that the Jesus stories had their beginnings in one single person rather than a composite of several—or even in mythology itself—he probably was a wandering Jewish teacher in Roman-occupied Judea who offended the authorities and was executed.  Beyond that, any knowledge about the figure at the center of the Christian religion is remarkably open to debate (and vigorously debated among relevant scholars).

Where was Jesus born? Did he actually have twelve disciples? Do we know with certainty anything he said or did?

As antiquities scholarship improves, it becomes increasingly clear that the origins of Christianity are controversial, convoluted, and not very coherent.

1. The more we know the less we know for sure. After centuries in which the gospel stories about Jesus were taken as gospel truth, the Enlightenment gave birth to a new breed of biblical historians. Most people have heard that Thomas Jefferson secretly took a pair of scissors to the Bible, keeping only the parts he thought were historical. His version of the New Testament is still available today. Jefferson’s snipping was a crude early attempt to address a problem recognized by many educated men of his time: It had become clear that any histories the Bible might contain had been garbled by myth. (One might argue that the Protestant Reformation’s rejection of the books of the Bible that they called “apocrypha,” was an even earlier, even cruder attempt to purge the Good Book of obvious mythology.)

In the two centuries that have passed since Jefferson began clipping, scores of biblical historians—including modern scholars armed with the tools of archeology, anthropology and linguistics—have tried repeatedly to identify “the historical Jesus” and have failed. The more scholars study the roots of Christianity, the more confused and uncertain our knowledge becomes. Currently, we have a plethora of contradictory versions of Jesus—an itinerant preacher, a zealot, an apocalyptic prophet, an Essene heretic, a Roman sympathizer, and many more —each with a different scholar to confidently tout theirs as the only real one. Instead of a convergent view of early Christianity and its founder, we are faced instead with a cacophony of conflicting opinions. This is precisely what happens when people faced with ambiguous and contradictory information cannot bring themselves to say, we don’t know.

This scholastic mess has been an open secret in biblical history circles for decades. Over forty years ago, professors like Robin S. Barbour and Cambridge’s Morna Hooker were complaining about the naïve assumptions underlying the criteria biblical scholars used to gauge the “authentic” elements of the Jesus stories. Today, even Christian historians complain the problem is no better; most recently Anthony Le Donne and Chris Keith in the 2012 book Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity.

2. The Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. Every bit of our ostensibly biographical information for Jesus comes from just four texts – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Though most Christians assume that associates of Jesus wrote these texts, no objective biblical scholars think so. None of the four gospels claims to be written by eyewitnesses, and all were originally anonymous. Only later were they attributed to men named in the stories themselves.

While the four gospels were traditionally held to be four independent accounts, textual analysis suggests that they all actually are adaptations of the earliest gospel, Mark. Each has been edited and expanded upon, repeatedly, by unknown editors. It is worth noting that Mark features the most fallible, human, no-frills Jesus—and, more importantly, may be an allegory.

All of the gospels contain anachronisms and errors that show they were written long after the events they describe, and most likely far from the setting of their stories. Even more troubling, they don’t just have minor nitpicky contradictions; they have basic, even crucial, contradictions.

3. The Gospels are not corroborated by outside historians. Despite generations of apologists insisting Jesus is vouched for by plenty of historical sources like Tacitus or Suetonius, none of these hold up to close inspection. The most commonly-cited of these is the Testimonium Flavianum, a disputed passage in the writings of ancient historian Flavius Josephus, written around the years 93/94, generations after the presumed time of Jesus. Today historians overwhelmingly recognize this odd Jesus passage is a forgery. (For one thing, no one but the suspected forger ever quotes it – for 500 years!) But defenders of Christianity are loathe to give it up, and supporters now argue it is only a partial forgery.

Either way, as New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman points out, the Testimonium Flavaniummerely repeats common Christian beliefs of the late first century, and even if it were 100% genuine would provide no evidence about where those beliefs came from. This same applies to other secular references to Jesus–they definitely attest to the existence of Christians and recount Christian beliefs at the time, but offer no independent record of a historical Jesus.

In sum, while well-established historic figures like Alexander the Great are supported by multiple lines of evidence, in the case of Jesus we have only one line of evidence: the writings of believers involved in spreading the fledgling religion.

4. Early Christian scriptures weren’t the same as ours. At the time Christianity emerged, gospels were a common religious literary genre, each promoting a different version or set of sacred stories. For example, as legends of Jesus sprang up, they began to include “infancy gospels.” As historian Robert M. Price notes, just as Superman comics spun off into stories of young Superboy in Smallville, Christians wrote stories of young Jesus in Nazareth using his divine powers to bring clay birds to life or peevishly strike his playmates dead.

Early Christians didn’t agree on which texts were sacred, and those included in our New Testament were selected to elevate one competing form of Christianity, that of the Roman Church over others. (Note that the Roman Church also proclaimed itself “catholic” meaning universal.)

Our two oldest complete New Testament collections, Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanusonly go back to the beginning of the fourth century. To make matters worse, their books differ from each other – and from our bibles. We have books they don’t have; they have books we don’t have, like the Shepherd of Hermas and the Gospel of Barnabas.

In addition to gospels, the New Testament includes another religious literary genre—the epistle or letter. Some of our familiar New Testament epistles like 1 Peter, 2 Peter and Jude were rejected as forgeries even in ancient times; today scholars identify almost all of the New Testament books as forgeries except for six attributed to Paul (and even his authentic letters have been re-edited).

5. Christian martyrs are not proof (if they even were real). Generations of Christian apologists have pointed to the existence of Christian martyrs as proof their religion is true, asking “Who would die for a lie?” The short answer, of course, that all too many true believers have died in the service of falsehoods they passionately believed to be true—and not just Christians. The obvious existence of Muslim jihadis has made this argument less common in recent years

But who says that the Christian stories of widespread martyrdom themselves were real? The Book of Acts records only two martyr accounts, and secular scholars doubt that the book contains much if any actual history. The remaining Christian martyr tales first appeared centuries later. Historian Candida Moss’ 2014 book The Myth of Persecution gives a revealing look at how early Christian fathers fabricated virtually the entire tradition of Christian martyrdom—a fact that was, ironically enough, largely uncovered and debunked by later Christian scholars.

6. No other way to explain the existence of Christianity? Most people, Christians and outsiders alike, find it difficult to imagine how Christianity could have arisen if our Bible stories aren’t true. Beyond a doubt, Christianity could not have arisen if people in the first century hadn’t believed them to be true. But the stories themselves?

Best-selling New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman believes that the biblical stories about Jesus had their kernel in the person of a single itinerant preacher, as do most New Testament scholars. Historian Richard Carrier and David Fitzgerald (co-author of this article) take an opposing position—that the original kernel was a set of ancient mythic tropes to which unsuspecting believers added historical details. Ehrman and Carrier may be on opposite sides of this debate, but both agree on one important fact: the only thing needed to explain the rise of Christianity is the belief fostered by the rival Christian preachers of the first century.

Witchcraft, bigfoot, the idea that an American president was born in Kenya, golden tablets revealed to a 19th century huckster by the Angel Moroni . . . we all know that false ideas can be sticky—that they can spread from person to person, getting elaborated along the way until they become virtually impossible to eradicate. The beginnings of Christianity may be shrouded in mystery, but the viral spread of passionately-held false ideas is becoming better understood by the year.

Keeping Options Open

University of Sheffield’s Philip Davies—who believes that Christianity probably began with a single Jesus, acknowledges that the evidence is fragile and problematic. Davies argues that the only way the field of New Testament studies can maintain any academic respectability is by acknowledging the possibility that Jesus didn’t exist. He further notes this wouldn’t generate any controversy in most fields of ancient history, but that New Testament studies is not a normal case.

Brandon University’s Kurt Noll goes even further and lays out a case that the question doesn’t matter: Whether the original Jesus was real or mythological is irrelevant to the religion that was founded in his name.

That is because either way, the Christ at the heart of Christianity is a figure woven from the fabric of mythology. The stories that bear his name draw on ancient templates imbedded in the Hebrew religion and those of the surrounding region. They were handed down by word of mouth in a cultural context filled with magical beings and miracles. Demons caused epilepsy. Burnt offerings made it rain. Medical cures included mandrakes and dove blood. Angels and ghosts appeared to people in dreams. Gods and other supernatural beings abounded and not infrequently crossed over from their world to ours.

Who, in the midst of all of this, was Jesus? We may never know.


https://www.rawstory.com/2019/04/evidence-jesus-ever-existed-weaker-might-think/

Don't get Ashvin started on Jesus. Trust me when I say he knows enough about this topic to write circles around this author.

Jesus the myth is way more important than Jesus the man, at this point in human existence, as far as how it impacts our behavior. Jesus isn't the problem. His fan club is the problem.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: The evidence that Jesus ever existed is weaker than you might think
« Reply #12447 on: April 17, 2019, 05:51:56 AM »
Jesus isn't the problem. His fan club is the problem.

Too true.  And Watson is his #1 Fan.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline Eddie

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Re: White supremacist gets life for running down black man
« Reply #12448 on: April 17, 2019, 10:37:38 AM »
A white supremacist ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years




This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.



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White supremacist gets life for running down black man
A white supremacist ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years
This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.
(Multnomah County Sheriff's Office via AP) This undated file photo provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office shows Russell Courtier. The white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.
By The Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. — Apr 16, 2019 10:19 PM

A white supremacist who ran down and killed a young black man in Oregon two years ago was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 28 years.

Russell Courtier's sentencing came after jurors in March found Courtier, 40, guilty of murder, hit-and-run driving and the hate crime of second-degree intimidation in the death of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .

Courtier and Colleen Hunt were in a Jeep driven by Courtier in August 2016 when he was encouraged by Hunt to drive into Bruce after the two fought outside a convenience store in the Portland suburb of Gresham, authorities have said.

Prosecutors argued Courtier was motivated by his white supremacist beliefs — saying he was a member of the European Kindred white supremacist prison gang and was wearing the gang's logo on his baseball cap and had its tattoo on his leg when he encountered Bruce.

Surveillance video showed Bruce standing outside the store when Courtier drove up and parked. A fight erupted, but it was not clear how it started, said prosecutor David Hannon.

The video then captured Bruce running down a street and a sidewalk in an attempt to get away from Courtier, who chased Bruce in the Jeep and hit him. Bruce died several days later.

Hannon called Courtier violent and "unapologetic" for his white supremacist views.

Bruce's mother, Christina Miles, told Courtier in court that "you allowed the devil to misguide you and take the life of such a beautiful young spirit."

Larnell Bruce Sr., the victim's father, said he hopes Courtier spends his time in prison thinking about whether he wants his own son, who is 8, to grow up among white supremacists.

"That ideology that you have is not good for anybody," Bruce said.

Courtier teared up in court, but did not speak during the sentencing because his lawyers said they advised him against doing so. He is already serving a four-year sentence for his role in a 2015 bar attack.

Hunt pleaded guilty to manslaughter, agreed to accept a 10-year sentence and was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday afternoon.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/white-supremacist-life-running-black-man-62438702

I think it's worth noting that this guy, who is no doubt guilty of murder and really deserves a quick bullet to the brain instead of a lifetime meal plan at taxpayer's expense, got his white supremacist toilet training in prison.

A quick search will show you that a LOT of real white supremacists who actually do commit real hate crimes are indoctrinated while behind bars.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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New psychology research suggests that the so-called “dark triad” of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism are three independent personality traits. The findings indicate the dark triad traits are not just different manifestations of the same underlying lack of empathy.

The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

“Aggressive and violent behaviour has serious impact on individuals and society as a whole. I want to understand what drives or underpins aggressive or antisocial tendencies in individuals with maladaptive personality traits,” said Nadja Heym, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and corresponding author of the study.

“Initially my PhD and then subsequent research looked at the associations of psychopathy with different forms of empathy, direct aggression and antisocial behaviour. Examining these associations in the context of the dark triad and more indirect (manipulative) forms of aggression is simply an extension to this research.”

The researchers used a dark triad personality survey and a multifaceted measure of empathy to assess 301 participants. Heym and her colleagues also assessed how often the participants engaged in interpersonal acts of indirect aggression, such as trying to embarrass someone, excluding someone from activities, or using emotional blackmail to coerce someone.

The three dark triad traits each had their own pattern of empathic responses. The three traits also had different relationships with aggression.

Those with high in psychopathy tended to score low on all five facets of empathy and psychopathy was also associated with all forms of indirect aggression.

But participants with high Machiavellianism scores only showed reduced empathy in two areas. They were less likely to put themselves in another person’s position by imagining what that person was feeling and also tended to be less responsive to emotional cues in immersive settings.

In other words, those high in Machiavellianism tended to disagree with statements such as “I always try to consider the other fellow’s feelings before I do something” and “I often get deeply involved with the feelings of a character in a film, play, or novel.”

Machiavellianism was also associated with guilt induction, but not any other form of indirect aggression.

Participants with high narcissism scores were also less responsive to emotional cues in immersive settings, but actually scored higher in one area of empathy; they were more likely to say they could see things from someone else’s perspective. Narcissism was unrelated to indirect aggression.

“Different maladaptive or dark traits are linked to different forms of aggression, and whilst narcissism has been traditionally seen as a dark trait and linked to aggression – this may be simply due to its links (or overlap) with the other two, much darker traits – psychopathy and Machiavellianism,” Heym told PsyPost.

“Our research suggests that narcissism is not as badly affected as these – in terms of its preserved empathic capacities and lack of association with indirect manipulative forms of aggression. Thus, just because someone is too self-involved and narcissistic, it doesn’t make them necessarily aggressive or dangerous.”

“It’s is therefore questionable whether we should lump these three traits together and see them as equally problematic – personally, I am a splitter and prefer a more fine-tuned approach – that is to look at them individually to better understand their unique impact on behaviour,” Heym explained.

“In a similar way, we need to also differentiate amongst different forms of empathic deficits (or capacities) in order to understand more precisely which aspects of functioning are affected, and thus, underpin specific forms of aggressive behaviour.”

The study — like all research — includes some caveats.

“Firstly, this study measured dark traits in the general population – that is, we did not measure personality disorders at the extreme ends of personality dysfunction. The findings therefore only pertain to individuals from the general population with elevated levels of certain constellations of dark traits. Though they partly mirror what we also see and expect at the extreme ends (e.g., in psychopaths), they need replicating in forensic/clinical populations,” Heym said.

“Secondly, indirect aggression was measured using self-reports, which have their own inherent limitations. Future research could include other-reports and more importantly, experimental paradigms to measure aggressive behaviour more directly.”

“Thirdly, whilst narcissistic traits were not uniquely (only by association) related to the indirect types of aggression studied (malicious humour, guild induction and social exclusion), it doesn’t mean that they are not aggressive per se. Narcissism, particularly the vulnerable type, may be more likely to behave aggressively in response to ego threat (such as personal criticism) – though as this is a reactive form of aggression, self-control might be a moderating factor here,” Heym explained.

The findings suggest that some concerns about narcissism could be overblown.

“From a societal viewpoint, there is concern that we live in a more ego-centred, attention seeking and self-obsessed narcissistic society where youth (and old) post never-ending streams of selfies on never-ending streams of social media. Our research is interesting in terms of suggesting that having elevated narcissistic traits is less problematic in the absence of the other dark traits,” Heym told PsyPost.

“So one contention is that there is an overlap with certain psychological constructs such as high levels of self-esteem, extraversion and lower levels of neuroticism or anxiety, which might reduce risk for internalising psychopathology (depression, anxiety disorders, etc) in the long term.

“On the other hand, the sought perfectionism in appearance might increase risk for vulnerable narcissism and anxiety. However, these notions need to be further studied to better understand the impact of such potential societal transitions towards more online/social media presence,” Heym added.

“Currently, I am taking the next step, looking at the Dark Tetrad – that includes sadism – and sexual aggression and violence. Testing different theoretical and aetiological models in order to understand the underpinning of deviant behaviour is important in order to inform intervention strategies.”

https://www.psypost.org/2019/04/study-uncovers-the-unique-links-between-dark-triad-traits-and-specific-empathic-deficits-53492
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I had never heard of Machiavellian Personality Trait, so I looked it up.

Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait which sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals.

There's a whole lot of that going around these days.

I do think it's good he mentioned that this study is on the general population. It's a known fact that it's the outliers at the extreme ends of the personality spectrum that tend to exhibit pathology, so all these findings should be viewed with that in mind. jmho.
































































































































































What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.