Inoculating The Public From The Fake News And Pseudoscience Crisis

Yes, it is time to inoculate the public to fake news and pseudoscience! This is important research, and we need to be supporting it. As a nation that is supposed to be the more educated and scientifically relevant in the world, we have got to get the general public aware of what is real news and what is fake news, and of what is objective and substantiated science and what is religion pretending to be science.

As a country, we would not have a stolen election and an illegitimately elected 45th president right now – whose administration is filled with climate deniers and believers in pseudoscience over real science, if we had acted as a People a lot sooner to combat “fake news” and religious myth masquerading in the clothing and words of objective scientific research. It’s called inoculating the public against deliberately spread misinformation for the political and financial gain of a select few within society.

#ResistTrump #UnitedWeStand #FakeNews #ClimateDenial

“In medicine we can try to build resistance to infections by injecting people with a weakened strain of the virus or small dose of the virus that will trigger antibodies in people’s immune system to confer resistance. The attitudinal theory of inoculation is exactly the same — in the sense that what we try to do is pre-expose people to a bit of the misinformation… then debunk that information with specific facts. This process helps arm people with what I call a cognitive repertoire to resist basically future encounters with misinformation. That’s the basic idea… We see that we can incrementally protect people’s beliefs about science, through inoculation.” – Dr Sander van der Linden

Fake news’ power to influence shrinks with a contextual warning, study finds
What surprised the researchers most about the results of the study? Firstly how powerful misinformation can be, says van der Linden, but also — on the positive side — that ‘inoculating’ people against misinformation can be effective even if a person has an entrenched prior viewpoint.
“I didn’t anticipate that the misinformation would be so overwhelming for people,” he says. “I would have anticipated that the misinformation would have some influence — but not that it would cancel out the facts completely. I think that was quite surprising and also quite concerning, in some way, that people are paying so much attention to this idea of balance. And it’s tricky for people because they don’t know what the sources are, and how credible each side of the debate is — so it is difficult.”
“Similarly we weren’t sure if inoculating people, depending on their prior position, is going to be effective because some people might already have certain prior beliefs — and we were surprised by the fact that on average the inoculation worked well, regardless of what your affiliation or your prior beliefs were. This is not to say there aren’t individuals in the study for whom it didn’t work — and similarly vaccines work for most people but they can’t guarantee they work for everyone — so I would say that’s very much the same here too. But we were surprised that it worked across the board — and that is quite promising.”
Asked about the global challenge posted by the propagation of misinformation, van der Linden is also relatively upbeat — pointing out that misinformation is nothing new, even though the popularity of social media platforms has led to an amping up of the fake news volume in recent years.

Even In The 13th Century, Some Jews Believed The Earth To Be 15 Billion Years Old

Modern religious Creationists of both Haredi Jewish and, especially, Christian fundamentalists persuasion (the Young Earth Creationism types) would have us believe that the earth and universe is about 5,500 years old (and no greater than 10,000 years). Modern scientists tell us that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Now, jump back 700 years to the 13th century, wherein Isaac ben Samuel of Acre and other Orthodox Jewish kabbalists concluded that the earth is actually 49,000 years old and that the universe is 15 billion years old. What?! Did you just ask? Would you like to know how they arrived at this conclusion?

“Rabbi Tanhuma said: In its due time the universe was created. It was not appropriate to be create before then, but it was created in its time, as it is said ‘He made everything beautiful in its time.’ Rabbi Abbahu said: From this we learn that the Holy One, blessed be He, kept on constructing lands and destroying them until he constructed the present one and said, ‘This pleases Me, the others did not.’ Rabbi Eleazar said: This is a door which is opened to the depths, as it says, ‘And God saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was very good.’” – Kohelet Rabbah 3:14, written in the 7th Century C.E./A.D. (Hmmm, so no Jurassic or Cretaceous period for us, then? Shucks.)

Anyone who says that Jewish religious tradition is at odds with modern scientific studies is woefully ignorant of Jewish religious tradition. Most Jews accept the theory of evolution and do not see it in contradiction to our mythic accounts of creation. Sure there are those modern sects of traditional Judaism (the ultra-fundamentalists, like the Haredi) that have taken a Christian-like literalist interpretive approach to Jewish “biblical” texts, but they are actually not in-line historically with Jewish contemplations on the relationship between Jewish religious myths and the (pre-)scientific age objective-made observations of the world around us. Jewish religious thinkers and community leaders had already begun to come to the conclusion centuries before the rise of modern science that the myths of Torah (the Jewish Bible) had hidden times frames by which to reveal the “true” age of things and the order of their developments. And, some of these conclusions and imagined beliefs are quite creative! It is no wonder, then, that so many breakthrough scientists have been Jewish. But, on to the question above. How did the 13th century Jewish kabbalists come to the conclusion that the earth is 49,000 years old and that the universe is 15 billion years old? Are you curious to know?

The 13th century’s Sefer HaTemunah’s take on the Sabbatical cycles and the age of the universe

One of the main concepts in Sefer HaTemunah is that of the connection of the Sabbatical year (Hebrew: Shmita) with sephirot and the creation of more than one world. The author of Sefer HaTemunah believed that worlds are created and destroyed, supporting this theory with a quote from the Midrash, “God created universes and destroys them.”[1] The Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a) states that “Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate”.[5] Sefer HaTemunah asserts that this 7000-year cycle is equivalent to one Sabbatical cyle. Because there are seven such cycles per Jubilee, the author concludes that the world will exist for 49,000 years.[1]

According to some sources, the author of Sefer HaTemunah believed that the world was currently in the second Sabbatical cycle, corresponding to Gevurah (Severity), which occurs between the cycles Chesed (Kindness) and Tiferet (Adornment).[6] Sefer HaTemunah offers a description of the final Shmita, Malkuth (Kingdom), as “distinctly utopian” in character. This may explain why the book was widely embraced by Kabbalists.[7]
According to Kaplan[8] the Sabbatical cycles in Sefer HaTemunah can be used as a basis for calculating the age of the universe. While Sefer HaTemunah sees the world as existing in the second cycle, others[9] say it is in the seventh cycle.[1] If so, Adam was created when the universe was 42,000 years old, and six worlds were created and destroyed before the creation of Adam.[1] This thesis was laid out by Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel of Acre, a 13th-century Kabbalist, who said that when calculating the age of the universe, one must use divine years rather than physical years.
“ I, the insignificant Yitzchak of Akko, have seen fit to write a great mystery that should be kept very well hidden. One of God’s days is a thousand years, as it says, “For a thousand years are in Your eyes as a fleeting yesterday.” Since one of our years is 365 ¼ days, a year on High is 365,250 our years.[10] ”

Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko then goes on to explain a value of 49,000 years, but does not proceed with the multiplication, nor the reduction of 49,0000 to 42,000, which is Kaplan’s own interpretation. Kaplan calculates the age of the universe to be 15,340,500,000 years old.[1][11] His reasoning was as follows: as the Midrash states, “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday” (Psalm 90:4); a physical year contains 365 ¼ days, which, if multiplied by 1000 would give the length of a divine year as 365,250 physical years; if we are living in the last, 7th Sabbatical cycle, that would mean that the creation as it described in the Bible happened 42,000 divine years ago; to convert this figure to physical years it should be multiplied by 365,250; this gives the result 15,340,500,000 years.[1]

In 1993, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote that the Big Bang occurred “approximately 15 billion years ago”, calling this “the same conclusion” as the 13th century kabbalists.[1] According to a 2013 estimate by ESA’s Planck project, the age of the universe is 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years.[12] Kaplan also relates to Sefer HaTemunah the idea that Torah teachings are compatible with other areas of modern science. According to Kaplan, Orthodox Jews often challenge the findings of paleontology and geology as conflicting with Torah concepts. But in an “extremely controversial” essay, Israel Lipschitz drew on the writings of Abraham ibn Ezra, Nahmanides, and Bahya ibn Paquda to argue the opposite conclusion: “See how the teachings of our Torah have been vindicated by modern discoveries.” Lipschitz wrote that fossils of mammoths and dinosaurs represent previous Sabbatical cycles in which humans and other beings lived in universes before Adam, and that the Himalayas were formed in a great upheaval, one of the upheavals mentioned in Sefer HaTemunah.[1]

Sourced from World Heritage Encyclopedia™ licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

To read the full article and cited references –

#Creationism #Midrash #KoholetRabbah #SeferHaTemunah #Genesis #youngearth #creationscience #intelligentdesign #evolution

Why Donald Trump And His Administration Deserves No Support Throughout 2017-2020

“Trump clearly resents the dissemination of info that could be viewed as delegitimizing his win in the slightest.” – The Washington Post

Yes, yes. That Trump guy’s Achilles’s heel. It is a patriotic act to “delegitimize” his ill-got position of self-serving power at the expense of the highest office of the land. He lost the General Election of Nov 2016 and clearly so! The “People” of the United States, the decisive majority of its voting citizens, rejected him as President. The only reason he has obtained his position is through a skewed Electoral College vote made on Dec 19th and the intensely partisan-focused Senate confirmation of the results of this skewed Electoral College vote subsequently made in the Senate on Jan 6th. And this up-turned election that stands against the clear voted will of the People of the United States was made fully possible through the galvanizing efforts of the minority white Christian nationalist voters, primarily, and economically hurting voters, secondarily, to the election booths on Nov 8th. By the number of votes, they are the clear minority in America, but they were able to skew the Electoral College results to reflect against “the voted will of the People.” How did they do this? This “illegitimately” gained election win by Donald Trump and his Wall-Street-Evangelical-White-Nationalist administrative partners was achieved very openly and obviously – for those watching the rise of white Christian nationalism in the United States of America – before the very eyes of the inattentive and disbelieving greater U.S. public.

It was achieved through the last eight years of deliberate Republican obstructionism in government (the “shut the Government down” and “do nothing” #GOP in the U.S. Senate and House) and an unrelenting railing of disparaging comments and attitudes towards the first black President of the United States – our 44th President, President Barack Hussein Obama. It was achieved through the constant demonizing of the Obama Administration, the President himself, and his family over the last eight years by Republicans and “Conservative” media, and their constant whining railing against the Liberal-slash-Democratic “godless, atheistic progressive agenda” of the Democratic “Left,” that would dare to stand for civil rights, economic justice, and real populism in the United States (which they call “communism,” but are actually talking about “democratic socialism”). It was achieved through the propaganda rhetoric spewing from religious pulpits across this nation, especially the televangelist ones, and “conservative” media outlets that have been disseminating expressions of fear, bigotry, hate, and false and out-right “fake news” to the masses for decades, to bring easily push-able angst and disillusionment into the public mind about the state of our democracy. More specifically to the time frame of this election, it was achieved through the deliberate and highly intricate “influence campaign” conducted by the Russian Kremlin during this election process to intensify this social media influenced disillusionment occurring in the U.S. populace, so that the citizens of the United States see Trump’s racist, misogynist, xenophobic rants as symbols of strength and change – not the hate and thin-skinned-ness for which these behaviors actually are. And, (Now, we Independent voters and Populist voters and Atheist voters told you so over a year ago!) it was achieved through the targeted political paybacks made against a highly qualified candidate for the job of President, but a candidate who was carrying with her considerable baggage to be targeted and does not have a charismatic personality like that deceptive and habitually lying con man Trump guy. “Perceived” political scores that needed to be settled by the head of the FBI (James Comey, a Republican who has unsuccessfully investigated the Clintons several times in the past) and the top man of Russia (Vladimir Putin, who himself gained power illegitimately in 2011, and blamed “Hillary” across the seas for all the rioting that occurred in Russia afterwards), thus discrediting the only candidate actually qualified for the job of President that was running in this election.

So, the #Trump guy has obvious and valid good reasons to be concerned about the U.S. public treating his “win” as an ill-gotten and illegitimate achievement, because it is true! He deserves to have the populace – who clearly by majority vote, by “the will of the People,” gave him the decisive and undeniable “No!” rejection vote, #NotMyPresident, in this #election2016 – seek to remind him daily that he does not have the support of the greater majority of United States citizens. Facts are simply facts, no matter how many times and how many ways you try to respin it, Trump, through your own mouth and “tweets” and through the mouths and tweets of the many puppets you’ve assigned to speak for you – to “explain” you to the general public. There is no reason for the citizens of the United States to ever unite behind Donald Trump and his proposed Wall-Street-Evangelical-Alt-Right administration. The clear majority of U.S. citizens, 73.6 million of us, said #NotOurPresident to the Trump guy choice, and we all meant this when we casted our votes. We must keep in mind (by continuously publicly voicing it) that 10.67 million more Americans voted against the Trump guy, than the total amount that voted for him. And we must keep in mind that 2.86 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton as President, than all the votes made for that Trump guy. We must also keep in mind that the election was decided in just a few states, by electoral college numbers, *at the disenfranchisement* of most of the voters across the United States. And, we must definitely keep in mind and keep our focus on what the majority of U.S. citizens want for this country: a livable way of life that is based in a “level playing field” of justice, fairness, and opportunity for all our citizens.

These are just the facts of the 2016 Presidential Election. That Trump guy deserves no reprieve from this any day during the next four years, deserves to be reminded of it daily (regardless of his thin-skinned nature), and deserves no support from the People of the United States for his Wall-Street-Evangelical-Alt-Right #TrumpAdministration – the United States citizens deserve better than this! Continue to #Resist with the facts and with attentive populist-mindedness. It’s the patriotic thing to do! It’s time for the #NationalPopularVote movement in the United States of America, so the voice of the People is actually heard and listened too by our legislative and political bodies during our democratic processes!

Why the media can’t dismiss Trump’s call on Congress to investigate an NBC report
While Trump’s pride might have been wounded by the thought that journalists received information before he did, the incoming president probably will have a hard time getting members of Congress too worked up about these leaks. Trump clearly resents the dissemination of info that could be viewed as delegitimizing his win in the slightest, but even Republicans appear uncomfortable with his effort to undermine intelligence agencies’ conclusions about Russian interference.

Conversion Therapy Is Unnecessary Religious Pseudoscience, Like Creationism

“Pirke Abot, chapter 5, section 10, states: “There are four attitudes among men: He that says, “What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours” – this is the average attitude; but some [Sages] say that this is the attitude of the Sodomites….” A Sodomite is described here as being a person who accepts no responsibility for the poor in his community. He owes them nothing.” – Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill

Sedom v’Gemorah (Sodom and Gomorrah) were ancient plant-cultivating cities, and their very names are references to this fertile and, thus, prosperous lands. The crimes (sins) of these legendary cities in Torah and extended TaNaKh (the Jewish Bible) and in the Talmud are the crimes of selfish indulgence and utter lack of hospitality toward strangers. This is made clear in the Torah legend with the extreme behavior of “all” the men of the city, from “youth” to “old man,” towards the messengers of Avram’s god (Avraham) that arrived to the city. “All” the men of the city came to Lot’s home intent on raping these messengers, an act of extreme violence symbolizing extreme inhospitality. The intent or “moral” of the Torah myth is to compare the character and quality of Avraham’s and Lot’s families, the displaced tribal family, to the settled and indulgent city-dwellers.

Sadly, among many European and American “Judeo-Christian” modern religious traditions these passages are erroneously translated as cities given to homosexuality and this is the reason for their destruction, and that it is evidence that “the Bible” abhors and prohibits homosexual behavior and orientation. This is categorically untrue when Torah is read on its own terms (without modern hermeneutics placed upon it), for the Hebrew “Bible” has nothing to say about committed and loving homosexual relationships. Except, maybe only positive things to say about it – think about the very intimate relationship between David and Johnathan (future-king David clearly swings both ways in orientation in the actual Hebrew, and Johnathan’s father in a fit of anger eventually attempts to shame him about it, showing he knows about them!). As to the two infamous (in modern times) Leviticus same-sex prohibitions (verses), both are expressed without built-in context to explain specifically what the “lyings of woman” are, but context clearly shows that the prohibited acts are males raping another male and heterosexual males sexually substituting a male for sex “as if” he were a woman in an idolatrous sexual act.

“Ve’et zachar lo tishkav mishkevey ishah to’evah hee. And a male do not lie down with as lyings of woman, abhorrent he.” – Vayikra/Leviticus 18.22

“Ve’ish asher yishkav et-zacher mishkevey ishah to’evah asu shneyhem mot yumatu dmeyhem bam. And man that lie down with a male as lyings of woman, abhorrent to do, both of them death by execution, extreme guilt in them.” – Vayikra/Leviticus 20.13

“Where is the prohibition of a male? Because it says, `if a man,’ a man and not a minor. And it says, `lie with a male,’ whether the passive partner be an adult or a minor. And it says, `as with a woman,’ from which we learn that there are two modes of lying with a woman (that are prohibited).” – Mas. Sanhedrin 54a, 28-32

Let’s put this in perspective, two thousand years ago, before the birth of Christianity, the Rabbis clarified in the Talmud that Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13 are referring to two specific homoerotic acts between males, and not to homosexuality itself. They were a lot closer to the time this law code was written than we were, wouldn’t you agree? So is it just possible that they may have had a better understanding of the intent of this prohibition, than what is assumed by inadequate translation and exegesis in this modern age? Unfortunately, as is common with ancient law codes, the situational specifics are not written for posterity with the laws, because these laws were meant for their place and historical time. Meaning, they in their historical time understood in everyday social context what specific acts this enigmatic prohibition was referring to. For us, we have to rely on the hints of ancient teachers and the obvious context self-evidently presented in Torah as a whole. Torah presents a man raping a male and a man having religious sex with a male as these most extreme male on male abominations. Abominations worthy of death and, even, entire city destruction, at times. Now, literally, to’evah means “abhorrent” or “disgusting”, not abominable as often translated, but this is a subject for another post at another time (how to translate sacred texts without theological bias).

These prohibitions in question are a part of the codex of laws dealing with familial sexual relations that, then, extend to sexual relations with neighbors and, then, to idolatrous religious sexual practices (turning your children into sexual prostitutes or engaging in idolatrous sexual rituals) in which these prohibitions are found. Further, these verses that are focused on male-with-male sex, as with most of the prohibitions of this codex, *only* applies to Jewish males within the boundaries of the sovereign kingdom of ancient Israel. Of all the prohibitions within this part of the law codex, these two verses (18.22 and 20.13) are the only ones that are enigmatic in nature – requiring contextual clarification beyond the verse itself, clarification that would have been commonly understood during the time of their writing. Using the whole of TaNaKh as context, it is rather clear that Leviticus only prohibits the following “situational specific” acts of homosexual union: that of a male (assumed to be sexually responsive towards females) substituting a male for sex when a female is available (whether by rape or consent is not specific, but overall context leans towards rape), and that of a male having ritual sex with a sacred prostitute of his own gender (a common practice within the religions of non-Israeli nations).

“There is to be no holy-prostitute of the daughters of Israel, there is to be no holy-prostitute of the sons of Israel. You are not to bring the fee of a whore or the price of a dog (pagan priest) to the house of YHWH your G-d, for any vow; for an abomination to YHWH your G-d are the two of them!” – D’varim/Dueteronomy 23.18-19

“When (David) finished speaking with Saul, Jonathan’s soul became bound up with the soul of David; Jonathan loved David as himself. Saul took him (into his service) that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Jonathan and David made a pact, because (Jonathan) loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the cloak and tunic he was wearing and gave them to David, together with his sword, bow, and belt.” – Shmuel 1/Samuel 1 18.1-4

It is truly amazing that the religious issue over naturally occurring “homosexuality” is still a very present and contentious issue in present scientifically and historically enlightened modern society. It is truly amazing that, to this very day, those who are LGBTQ are being stigmatized, threatened, discriminated against, demonized, and harmed within societies due to the teachings of present day theistic religions. The simple fact is, the statement that “the bible condemns homosexual acts” is simply untrue! Maybe so in English translations of the “Bible” and in Common Era (A.D.) theistic teachings of what the ancient Hebrew scrolls are saying. But, the simple fact is that Torah (and TaNaKh), the Jewish “Bible” does not condemn homosexual acts, only the very specific acts of a male raping a male and a male substituting a male for a female for sex during idolatrous fertility rituals. The Talmud of the first modern monotheistic Jewish rabbis (that replaced the Temple cult henotheistic theocratic religious system) backs this understanding of the two ancient prohibition verses in Leviticus. Homosexuality itself and homosexual relationships were not an issue to the ancient BCE Jews within their tribalistic family-Nation lifestyle.

#LGBTQ #Equality #ReligiousFundamentalism #ReparativeTherapy #ConversionTherapy #Christian #Jewish #Islamic

Boynton Beach outlaws ‘conversion therapy’ on minors
January 4, 2017, 8:35 PM
LGBT youngsters living in Boynton Beach are free to be themselves and love who they want to love without worrying about medical efforts to change them.
The city on Tuesday became the latest municipality in South Florida to outlaw “conversion therapy,” a method aimed at converting a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Boynton Beach Commission gave initial approval to an ordinance banning licensed professionals from trying to convert the gender identity or sexual orientation of LGBT youth. Violators can be fined $500 or sued by the city, according to language in the ordinance.
Commissioner Justin Katz voiced his support for the ban Tuesday.
The ban will apply only to state-licensed therapists. To ensure its constitutionality, the law still allows unlicensed professionals, such as religious leaders, to engage in conversion therapy, the city said.

“It’s just an absurd idea that in 2016 — going on 2017 now — that people could believe that you could change someone’s sexuality through chastising them and berating them and making them hate themselves,” Katz said. “I’m happy that this ordinance has been trickling its way down Palm Beach County, and we’re able to solidify that we are protecting children regardless of their sexual orientation.” Amein!