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Member since: Mon Mar 27, 2017, 07:57 AM
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Imam bayildi Turkish stuffed roasted eggplants


Made this for dinner with local eggplants. Delicious.

Free will: Should the law be based on luck?

THE DEFINING CONCEPT of criminal guilt is “mens rea” — the guilty mind. The idea of mens rea emerged from 12th- and 13th-century developments in Catholic canon law that redefined criminal guilt to align it more closely with notions of sin: Your will is what makes you guilty. Criminals are distinguished by their freely willed intent to commit (or at least risk bringing about) a culpable act.

This vision shaped European and then American legal systems for centuries. But in the early 1900s, American social scientists proposed an alternative view. They saw crime as a matter of social, not individual, responsibility. They had studied the ways in which environmental factors, including poverty, could lead people to commit crimes, and they advocated for criminal justice reforms that aimed to rehabilitate those criminals.
Today, however, neuroscience shows at a biological level what early 20th-century scientists showed at a social level: Our behavior has influences we cannot control. What we identify as free will, a person’s decisions and choices, always operates under a set of environmental and genetic constraints. In some cases — like the mass shooting committed in 1966 by Charles Whitman, who was later found to have a brain tumor — there’s an identifiable disorder. But in other cases, these constraints are part of typical development. New research shows how the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds — traditionally treated as adults by the law — are still developing the crucial decision-making and impulse control mechanisms that would otherwise restrain criminal behavior, leading scientists to advocate for mitigated sentences for this age group.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman agrees that “Was it his fault, or his biology’s fault?” is the wrong question to be asking. In his 2017 Atlantic article “The Brain on Trial,” he explains, “The choices we make are inseparably yoked to our neural circuitry, and therefore we have no meaningful way to tease the two apart.” In other words, there’s no reliable way to separate free will from luck. Therefore, Eagleman says, we should stop focusing on blame altogether. Blame is “a backward-looking concept that demands the impossible task of untangling the hopelessly complex web of genetics and environment that constructs the trajectory of a human life.” We need to look forward instead, he argues, to study how an individual is likely to behave from now on and how we can structure social incentives so as to deter destructive behavior in the future.

Entire essay here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2018/07/21/should-law-based-luck/mnlC0EaMl13hrPfuXvI8wI/story.html

Non-religious countries experience greater economic growth, study finds

A shift away from religion may make countries more prosperous, according to a new study.

Using data on countries ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe, researchers analysed the relationship between values held by different nations and their GDPs.

They found that lack of religion tended to come before economic growth over the course of the 20th century – a discovery that partially answers a long-standing question about the impact of secularisation on the economy.


Science and Philosophy Offer More for Grief than Religion

Bereavement is horrible, but religion is false comfort.

In a recent New York Times column, Stephen T. Asma claims that religion can help people to deal with grief much better than science can. His case for religion over science has four flaws. It depends on a view of how emotion works in the brain that has been rendered obsolete by advances in neuroscience. It underestimates how much science can help to understand the nature of grief and to point to ways of overcoming it. It overestimates the consoling power of religion. Finally, it neglects how science can collaborate with philosophy to suggest ways of dealing with grief.

Asma tells the heartbreaking story of the murder of a teenager and its devastating effect on his mother, brother, and sister. I know how overwhelming grief can be, having lost two parents and a beloved wife who died young of cancer. But Asma’s reasons for looking to religion as consolation are not convincing.

He claims that science can only reach the recently evolved rational part of the brain, the neocortex, whereas religion can access the older emotional part of the brain, the limbic system. This view of the brain as sharply divided between cognitive and emotional systems has been overthrown by decades of research. Brain scanning and other methods find enormous integration between the prefrontal cortex and parts of the limbic system such as the amygdala. Luiz Pessoa’s book,The Cognitive-Emotional Brain, thoroughly reviews the effects of the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system on many kinds of perception, cognition, and motivation. These cortical functions also affect the amygdala, so science with its evidence-based approach to theory and rationality can influence emotions by helping people to evaluate the situations that generate emotions. Understanding grief can help people to recover from it.

There is good scientific research on grief that can help people understand its process and prospects. For example, Ruth Davis Konigsberg's The Truth about Grief cites studies that most people substantially recover from the horrors of grief within about 18 months. For those who have greater difficulty, there are psychotherapists who are skilled at helping people deal with underlying emotional problems. There is no scientific backing for the famous five-stage model of grief based on denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Coping by repressing emotions is sometimes effective. So science can suggest ways of dealing with grief without buying into the metaphysics of religion.


UNHOLY? Charities Can Reject Foster Parents for Immigrant Kids Over Religion

A major Christian nonprofit taking care of undocumented children said caregivers ‘must attend a Christian church.’ It’s not the only one—and it’s legal.

Private charities housing undocumented immigrant children in several states are permitted by law to reject prospective foster families based on religious objections.

Under current policy, undocumented minors apprehended by Customs and Border Protection are sent to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services. From there ORR tries to place the kids with a sponsor, usually a relative. The last option is a “licensed program willing to accept legal custody; or an adult individual or entity seeking custody.”

Right now, HHS oversees more than 100 shelters in 17 states, a number of which are operated by nonprofit providers housing kids separated at the border by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. In nine states, providers are protected by law if they reject an applicant (or child) on religious grounds.

In Texas, Republican-sponsored legislation passed last year guarantees organizations that refuse prospective foster or adoptive parents “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs,” won’t be penalized or lose government funding because of it.


Do our intelligence services have a contingency plan for a treasonous president?

Haven't they spent the last 60 years developing contingency plans for every possible scenario they could imagine?
Certainly this one, where the elected president is an agent of a hostile foreign power, has to be in their files, right?

"We'd all love to see the plan"

Like soon. Like WTF?

Democrats Take Major Step to Reduce Role of Superdelegates

Source: New York Times

Democratic Party officials took a major step Wednesday toward sharply reducing the role and influence of powerful political insiders in the presidential nominating process, a change sought by Senator Bernie Sanders and many other liberals after the 2016 campaign.

These insiders, called superdelegates, who are free to back any candidate regardless of how the public votes, would no longer be allowed to vote during the first ballot of the presidential nominating process at the party’s convention in most circumstances. Superdelegates would only be able to vote in extraordinary cases such as contested conventions, where the nomination process is extended through multiple ballots until one candidate prevails. They would still have a significant voice in other party debates outside of presidential nominations.

“This is a compromise that reduces that influence of superdelegates by taking them out of a first-ballot vote. Therefore, the activists that have been concerned that superdelegates will overturn the will of the voters should feel good about this,” said Elaine Kamarck, an influential member of the Democratic National Committee and its rules committee since 1997.

The party’s rules committee officially adopted the language Wednesday in advance of a final vote during the Democrats’ summer convention next month in Chicago. Members of the D.N.C. are now hoping the measure will move forward in August without fanfare, therefore settling the matter before November’s all-important midterm elections and well before the 2020 presidential campaign season.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/us/politics/superdelegates-democratic-party.html

The 'King' of Shambhala Buddhism, Undone by #MeToo

In a shrine on the sixth floor of a Manhattan office building, a photo of a man in golden robes hangs above an altar. Another photo of him sits upon a throne.

He is the head of one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the West, Shambhala International, a network of more than 200 outposts in over 30 countries where thousands come for training in meditation and mindfulness and some delve into deeper mysteries.

The man is Mipham Rinpoche. He is known as the Sakyong, a Tibetan word that translates roughly as king, and his students take vows to follow him that are binding across lifetimes. These days, they are feeling sad, confused, angry and betrayed.

Late last month, a former Shambhala teacher released a report alleging that the Sakyong had sexually abused and exploited some of his most devoted female followers for years. Women quoted in the report wrote of drunken groping and forcefully extracted sexual favors. The report said that senior leaders at Shambhala — an organization whose motto is “Making Enlightened Society Possible” — knew of the Sakyong’s misconduct and covered it up.


I'm pro abortion.

I refuse to be shamed or bullied into denying that I am unequivocally in favor of abortion.

Does anybody read thread titles before adding a new one on the same topic?

I think the answer is "yes, somebody does".
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