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longship

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Member since: Thu Aug 12, 2004, 03:43 PM
Number of posts: 25,101

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Home town: Detroit, MI Current residence: Paris, MI. Manistee Nat\'l Forest.

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An important lesson the world has apparently not yet learned

I recently purchased a copy of the 1974 production of the PBS series The Ascent of Man which is a very personal account of humankind's (not to use the 1970's sexist vernacular) cultural and intellectual advancement. It is one of the best series ever broadcast on PBS hosted by mathematician and humanist Jacob Bronowski. I watched this when it was first broadcast and had never forgotten it.

The eleventh episode covers quantum theory, but Bronowski delves much deeper. Since he speaks as much about culture as he does science, he ends the episode with, in my opinion, one if the best lessons on the confluence of science and philosophy, and is a lesson that this country seemingly, and sadly, has not learned.

I post the ending monologue here with no further comment other than that I think there are lessons we could all learn. Your opinions, of course, are welcome.

There are two parts to the human dilemma: one is the belief that the ends justify the means, that push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering that has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit, the ascertion of dogma that closes the mind and turns a nation into a regiment of ghosts, obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

It's said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That's false -- tragically false!

Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance; it was done by dogma; it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We're always at the brink of the known. We always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible.

In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell, I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

I owe it as a scientist to my friend, Leo Szilard; I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and as a witness.

We have to cure ourselves of the itch of absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.


Jacob Bronowski, a mathematician, author, and humanist of some note.

I think that's it. We have to touch people.

Thank you, DU.


This is becoming a perfect storm V1.2

What a week! It is like a roller coaster ride.

*V1.2- item 13 corrected re senate activity

Earlier this week, when ABC broadcast their exclusive, I posted that this may turn out to be like a Rope-A-Dope for President Obama. Look what has happened.

0. Friday, 4 May. The likely trigger event. Richard Grenell, foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney resigns under blistering attacks by party-not-named Rmoney supporters for Grenell's gay lifestyle, as they often phrased it.

1. Sunday: Vice President Biden answers a question on MTP about gay marriage, affirming his support.

2. There are ripples in the press about this, some speculating whether this was a shift in policy by the Obama administration. But no hard news either way. Party not named goes ballistic. Republicans don't say much.

2.5. Monday: Secy of Education Arne Duncan supports Biden's position.

3. Tuesday: NC votes a state constitutional amendment basically outlawing any but heterosexual marriages, and simultaneously removing existing rights for other relationships.

4. Wednesday: President Obama comes out for equal marriage rights. It makes a huge splash.

5. Party not named doubles down. FOX calls it war on marriage. Mitt doubles down with party not named. Log Cabin Republicans double down.

6. Centrist Republicans and Shep Smith of FOX News back Obama position. Ornstein and Mann screed hits big. Danforth's also.

7. Thursday: WaPo publishes that Rmoney was an anti-gay high school bully, alleging that he assaulted a student because he was gay.

8. Rmoney equivocates. Says he can't remember the incident in spite of the fact that WaPo cites four witnesses, three on the record! Makes weak apology.

9. Party not named doubles down again, implying that Rmoney was right by cheering the bullying.

10. Rmoney exposed as having specifically opposing anti-bullying commission while he was governor of MA, a commission whose mandate was to specifically address gay bullying.

11. Log Cabin Republicans flip-flop and basically support the Obama position. FOX News flip-flops on war on marriage.

12. Major Jewish organizations make prominent announcements in support of Obama. This takes away the religious arguments of the party not named. Waiting for more of the same from others, like Episcopals, UCC, Methodists, UU, others?

13. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee announces the intention to bring the Employment Non Descrimination Act (ENDA) on June 12.
Majority Leader Reid intends to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Hoyer and Reed make statements in support of Obama position.
*Clarifications at responses #30, #41, thx Tx4obama

14. Pelosi supports Obama in the face of House Republicans and party not named attempting to strengthen DOMA, doubling down yet again.

And the hits are going to keep coming.

This is not going to go away. I think we will always remember this week. Cherish it. It could be very important.

Let's not waste it though. We can leverage this by all getting together and before the election and joining hands in DC and as people of reason and intelligence and of all faiths and no faith. We can show the Republicans and the party not named what politics are about. Even though we throw a lot of chairs at each other here at DU, we'll be together as one in DC.

I have no resources to make this happen. But many of you do. It would be an incredible thumbed nose to our ideologically pure opponents.

Thanks for your time.

Nota Bene: low bandwidth here. Please don't ding me for getting days wrong. This week's been fast moving. The take-away is the order of events and how fast the story is developing.

Thank you to everybody supporting this thread. I thought it might be useful in this hectic week. Substantive additions will be added to the chronology.

Love you all!


Gotta go for version numbers
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