Greenteeth Digital Publishing

Questions and Answers

These are contributions to the online Question and Answer forum Quora.
March 2, 2018

Will the EU listen to Tony Blair and reform itself to help keep Britain in the project?

Mark Simon Hockey, PPE, MA(Oxon)1979. Medicine, MB.ChB (Bristol) 1987
Answered 7h ago

The answer to this question was given to Cameron when he tried to negotiate changes prior to the Referendum . No.

I will now address why.

The EU is a political project for uniting the continent into a single polyglot superstate deep enough to drown the individual National European States whose very competition with each other has produced the dynamic technological and scientific revolution which has been pivotal in establishing the cultural hegemony of Europe over the rest of the World.

The giant Asiatic monolithic Empires were monolithically wrong, time after time. In marked contrast, when England and Genoa and Venice and Portugal had all refused Columbus funding for his voyage of discovery, he was still able to ask Spain. And had they refused, the Dutch, the Danes or Swedes might have seen matters differently. This is why Europeans discovered the World, and why the World failed to discover itself. Even the Inca and the Aztecs, each with five times the population of Spain, were completely aware of each other’s existence until the conquistadors showed up and “informed” them.

Any new idea that might give your Nation the edge over its rival will be seized upon avidly. And those States which refuse to adopt better ideas will be crucified by those which have adopted them. Not only Nations but critically our religions were fractured, Latin v. Byzantine v. Protestant Christianity, and the most fractured of these, the various forms of Protestantism with its multitudinous States, many no bigger than a single City, were the most dynamic crucibles of Rationalism and the discovery and application of science to mastering the challenges and problems of the physical world.

Yes, OF COURSE having lots of little States who all think and act a bit differently will create more international wars, but it has also created the most dynamic cultural technological and economic laboratory which has, in just 500 years, raised the most poverty stricken, climatically and agriculturally least favoured Continent with the smallest population of any (Save Oceania), to sweep aside vast and mighty Asiatic and Native American despotic Empires. These, like China, Egypt, India were so self assured in their own superiority of thousands of years without significant change, all decimated and humiliated within a few centuries by a few handfuls of dynamic European barbarians armed with devastating new ideas and technologies they had developed as a direct result of their struggles with each other.

And this is what the EU wants to end. It wants uniformity, centralised control, domination, just like ancient Persia, China, The Inca and Aztec Empires, Egypt etc, to turn Europe into another vast bureaucratic sclerotic fossil, and all just so we can not harm each other any more.

The diversity of the Nation State, with its individuality, it’s refusal to comply, its belief in itself, its bolshiness, and its capacity to leave the vast populations of Asiatic Empires simply gasping in disbelief at their achievements, this is what the EU wants to smother, just so none of them will be able to come up with ideas like blitzkreig ever again.

It has happened before, Constantine bequeathed the Eastern Church a culture of vassalage to the State. The Roman Church , where at least the Emperor wasn’t also the Pope, tried to enforce bans on ideas like a heliocentric solar system, as well as its own brand of crackpot religious compliance. But the anarchic little Protestant States wouldn’t comply. And yes, the Thirty Years War did decimate the population of Europe, but the price was worth paying, because after it was all over in 1648, they were still free to think the unthinkable and do the undoable. And no European State has gone to war over religion since.

And this is why the Eurocrats project to smother the Nation State is so utterly pointless and unnecessary. No Democratic State has yet gone to war with another. The economic integration of the World is now so intimate and so complex that warfare between States is vastly more costly and with weapons of mass destruction now so freely available, far more threatening than ever before. The desire and the necessity of Europe to cooperate is so pressing that it needs no Superstate to enforce and regulate it.

The EU wants to destroy all National individualism, to blend into a homogenous whole the cultural distinctiveness and independence of mind which has so characterised Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire.

And of course this fits perfectly with the desire of business to have access to the cheapest source of Labour, and go allow it the freest possible access. And when even East Europeans are expensive relative to millions of economic migrants, there is the same drive to open the gates of Europe itself. And into what a quandary this has thrown to the traditional Left. Anti Racist but pro organised labour and anti business. They just don’t know which way to turn.

So they will not listen to Blair or anyone. Nothing will make the Eurocrats change their mind. These are ideologues. Force of circumstance alone can make them abandon the objective of political union, and settle for the model of political cooperation among independent Nation States. Demographic forces and the Eurozone crisis are the only things that could fracture the project of the Eurocrat ideologues.

There is nothing intellectually essential to connect the “four freedoms”. There is no reason on Earth why free trade should involve free movement of national populations. Nowhere except within the EU are these two indissolubly harnessed together, and the absurdity of doing so is demonstrated by the EU free trade treaty with Canada, which involves no such freedom of movement of population. It is precisely because of the reasonableness of the British demands that the Eurocrat ideologues cannot permit it, because it is so perfectly sensible that half a dozen other member States will immediately want it.

We live in a World where population growth is the unspoken driver of most political conflict. The Left will not mention it because it is associated with the dogma of “racism”. The Right will not mention it because it contravenes the dogma of religion to which so many of them are bound. Europe is shrinking, the African and Muslim neighbours are growing. This is the circumstance which may force th Eurocrats to abandon free movement, because Germany in 2016 demonstrated that the principle can be extended unilaterally by any one member, without any consultation or agreement, to every member of the EU. If a million entirely unscreened Muslims can be brought into Germany, in five years they have the right to move anywhere in the EU.

And this, more even than the Eurozone crisis, is what produced Brexit. A more graphic demonstration of the loss of sovereignty could not be given than the threat by the Eurocrats to take legal action against Hungary and Poland if they refuse, not to accept it, and not just the free movement of EU citizens, but the movement of thousands of Muslim and African economic migrants (and some refugees) which Germany alone has determined will be allowed in because it suits her own demographic crisis.

The other great rock upon which the Eurocrats may founder is the Euro, again, a currency which suits German but not Southern or Eastern economic interests.

Brexit will not destroy the EU. But it could be the beginning of the end. So far from abandoning it, the Eurocrats’ ideological commitment to free movement has been extended beyond the borders of the EU, and all in the name of the interests and choices made by the Nation which bankrolls the EU.

Germany is in many ways a Nation State which earnestly desires its own destruction whilst at the same time continues to nurse impulses to control and dominate. Utterly bizarre. She cannot live with her past, nor with her future. She wants her identity to get lost in the crowd, sublimated and purged in a greater European identity which has no association with and no memory of her past, whilst at the same time her drive for economic success drives her to continue to want to direct and control the crowd itself. And this is the economic and political engine behind the Eurocrats, and it finds support among many other European Nation States who also sit uneasily with their recent past. Be it as collaborators with, or incompetent opponents of, Nazi iniquity or be it more distantly as Imperial oppressors, the Germans are not entirely alone in having mixed feelings about belonging to the modern State which remains married to its past, and really wants a divorce. A new beginning. This is the ideological dynamo behind the Eurocrat dreams.

Britain and Russia alone do not share these guilt-driven National suicidal impulses. The Russians because they feel their sacrifice of blood has expunged the sin of early collaboration with Germany. Britain, because she refused to collaborate in the first place.

And this is why the Eurocrats will always say “no” until they are forced by circumstance to change.

Feruary 20, 2018

According to Barnier, will we educate the British on leaving the EU?

for context, chief EU negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, is reported to have said the EU will 'educate' britain on the folly of leaving the wannabe European federal superstate.

Alun ap Rhisiart, D.Phil in Zoology from Oxford University

Yes, I think so. It has been very educational for many people so far, and I expect that to continue. The entire history of the British involvement with the EU has been one where the political elites have practised deliberate deception of the people of its true nature and intent, and an overweening ambition by the original six to grab as much from the UK as it could. While we have consistently been told that the EU consists of our ‘friends and partners’, in practice they have been competitors, determined to make sure that the UK pays as much as possible for their ‘project’.

This began even before we joined. When MacMillan first applied in 1962 it was vetoed by de Gaulle, and again in 1967. The reason was simple: the Common Agricultural Policy had not yet been finalized. In particular, it had not yet been ratified that it would be paid out of EU central funds, rather than nationally, and that much of the money would come out of import duties and VAT. Of course, the UK was the one member that imported more than the rest, having enjoyed cheap food from the Commonwealth. It had to be ratified so that the UK would stump up much of the bill to support French farmers, not matter how destructive to British agriculture. Once ratified in the Luxembourg Agreement, of course there was no way to challenge it, so we were force to accept it. I can understand de Gaulle’s motives here, he was in a very bad position, with 25% of the French economy from agriculture, a lot of it small, inefficient, peasant farmers. The cost of the farming subsidy was just unsustainable, and the effect of cutting it back and putting a lot of these small farmers off their land and unemployed in the cities (and so probably voting Communist) was a real danger. Still, it was hardly an act of a ‘friend and partner’.

The second, and I find this truly disgraceful, was the Common Fisheries Policy. Once it became clear that new members Britain, Eire, Denmark and Norway would own 90% of the richest fishing grounds in the World, the six rubbed their hands and set about appropriating them. So they tasked a group to find something in the Treaty of Rome that would allow them to demand common access. Unfortunately there was nothing, and such policies were supposed to be based on treaties. But what is a little illegal money-grabbing between friends? They pushed it through anyway, on the very day that Britain gained entry; of course, once again, it was a fait accompli, it could no longer be changed.

Later, we saw how Blair agreed to hand back half the rebate that Thatcher had gained (to partially offset that original betrayal), in exchange for an agreement to rework the CAP so that it was fairer, rather than simply a means to prop up French agriculture. Have they looked at it? Of course not, this is the EU. They also gave an agreement to Osborne that the UK would not be involved in any bailouts of Eurozone countries. Then within months they reneged on this promise and took 860 million pounds as part of the bailout package of Greece. To cap it all, they came back a short time later demanding another 1.6 billion (which Cameron duly paid). Anyone surprised?

But still, people were unclear about this project. Now, I hope everyone can witness the words and behaviour of the Commission, of Juncker, Barnier, and also of Verhofstadt, and finally understand the nature of the Beast.

An education? Yes, and a very good one, long overdue. There really isn’t anything the EU can educate the UK about in terms of running a country. The UK once held hegemony over 1/4 of the World’s land surface, we can certainly govern ourselves. Over just the last couple of hundred years, Spain and Italy have been ruled by fascist dictatorships, Germany by a Nazi one, and France had The Terror. France and Germany between them have started a number of European wars, whereas Britain has not. No, I don’t think we have much to learn from the EU.

Answered Feb 17

Are Brexit supporters as ignorant as EU remainers think they are?

This is not one of our replies but is from one of the few people who voted 'Remain' but is capable of making intelligent comments about the people who voted the other way.

Are Brexit Supporters As Ignorant As EU Remainers Think They Are

Michael Burden, Retired Drainage and Sewerage Engineer at Severn Trent Water (1975-present)
Answered 14h ago

On the theme which is the subject of this question, in June 2017 Channel 4 TV here in the U.K. broadcast a very interesting programme in its “Wife Swap” series, in which the wives of two families go and live with another and completely different family. In this particular programme one family was very much in favour of the U.K. leaving the European Union, while the other family was in favour of the U.K. remaining in the EU.

In this programme we are introduced first to Pauline, her 14-year old daughter Katie and her husband Andy who live in Canvey Island, Essex – a traditional white working class area where many people have Cockney (East End of London) roots and ancestry, and one of the areas of the country which recorded the highest Vote Leave majority in the EU referendum. Pauline works behind the bar in the local private member’s club; Andy is employed in a local warehouse; and Katie is doing her GCSEs. The entire family are keen leavers and Pauline campaigned during the referendum for UKIP The couple voted out for a number of reasons, with immigration being one of the most important. Andy in particular feels that the country is losing its identity and that the U.K. must regain control of its borders. The family believe that many Remainers look down on them or think they’re racist and they get very upset by this allegation.

Kat, her 17-year old daughter Sophie and partner Roger live on Roger’s family farm in a prosperous area of rural Nottinghamshire. Kat is a psychotherapist who works for the NHS and is also a Green party Councillor; Roger works on the family farm; and Katie is studying for her A-levels. Kat has dual-nationality, but was born in Germany and came to the U.K. 17 years ago. She originally fell in love with the country, but feels that a wave of xenophobia has been unleashed since the referendum and is now thinking seriously of leaving the U.K.

Pauline and Kat, in line with the usual format of this programme, swapped homes and lives for one week, and lived with a family and mixed amongst a community of people whose views were very different from their own. By the end of the week, the two wives had begun to appreciate the other side’s point of view, but still had not changed their basic position on the issue.

Having missed this programme when it was broadcast on TV I have only watched it very recently when my 17 year old son Philip acquired a copy of it, which is now on his laptop computer. Philip was very interested in this programme, because Sophie was for many years his classmate at his school here in Nottingham, though she has left to continue her sixth form studies elsewhere now. Philip and most of his sixth form classmates, who are now in the final year of school preparing for A levels and hoping to go to university soon afterwards were very much in favour of the U.K. remaining in the European Union, like Sophie, which seems to be the case among young people of his age or who are slightly older, who are receiving a better than average level of education.

However Philip did remark after watching the programme that he believed that it was biased against the Vote Leave side, because the people chosen by the programme seemed so ignorant in the way that they blamed the European Union for everything they saw as wrong concerning this country, including issues unrelated to the EU. As someone who voted Leave in the referendum myself, you may think that I would agree with my son on this issue, but actually I did not. Instead I had to tactfully explain to him that although this may be his opinion of the Vote Leave family in this television programme, he should remember that through no fault of their own they are not as well educated or as well informed as he is thanks to his level of education, and that contrary to being exceptionally ignorant or ill informed they probably were a family who were very typical of the place where they lived and the people with whom they associated. I hoped that he would then have a more sympathetic attitude towards them.

As I see it, British membership of the European Union offers benefits to the more educated and affluent, or “upwardly mobile” people here in the U.K. who are going on to higher education, or who can take advantage of job opportunities within the EU or who wish to settle in another EU country, or who see the immigration of Eastern Europeans to the U.K. as providing them with more children’s nannies or tradesmen doing household repairs and maintenance, as well as enabling them to enjoy foreign grocery shops and restaurants. By contrast, people not in this “upwardly mobile” category see the EU as offering nothing for them or have found that it even puts them at a disadvantage through an influx of immigrants making the jobs market tougher and more competitive for them, keeping their wages low, and resulting in more pressure on housing, education and health services on which they rely. Indeed in the TV programme Pauline recounted how she experienced this when she was temporarily homeless at one time in her life, and it made her resentful of immigration generally.

It therefore became clearer to me watching the programme that the family who voted Leave in the referendum did so not because they were ignorant and ill informed concerning the European Union and so were able to be manipulated by the Vote Leave campaign (though it may have looked that way to some Remainers) , but because they saw their vote as a metaphorical protest vote at the way they had been disadvantaged over the years by changes in the country, the world, the economic order, even if these changes were unrelated to the European Union. I am sure that whether we like it or not, this was the reason why many people voted Leave, especially older people who have lived longer and have seen more of the changes, and was another significant reason why Vote Leave won the referendum.


Alex Jeffery, Brexit Education Officer

Answered Feb 7 · Upvoted by Tony Jackson, lives in The United Kingdom (1981-present)

No Brexit supporters generally speaking are not as ignorant as some remainers think they are. I mean lets be honest remainers haven’t got a great track record for getting things right:

Mr George Osbourne predicted that tax rises and spending cuts would have to be introduced in the event of a vote to leave, he even alluded to a ‘punishment’ budget. To date no emergency budget, changes to tax rates or massive cuts in public spending (that were not planned pre Brexit).

Nick Clegg told Nigel Farage on national television that an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy” pre referendum. Junker post referendum has proposed the EU should have it’s own army by 2025.

Stephan Crabb after a rise in unemployment in the 1st quarter of 2016 blaimed it on Brexit uncertaintity and then alluded that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be at risk with a vote to leave. To date UK unemployment has fallen to 4.3% it’s lowest level since joining the EU in 1973.

David Cameron suggested prior to the referendum that Horizon 2020 funding could not be guranteed in the event of a leave vote. Chancellor Phillip Halmond has committed to keeping such funding in place post brexit.

Mark Carney claimed that the UK economy could enter recession in the immediate afermath of a brexit vote. UK economy has grown at a consistent rate since the Brexit vote.

So it would appear that rather than Brexit voters being the ignorant ones it could be argued that some remainers who voted on the belief of what was said by leading politician’s were ignorant of reality.

Barney Lane, Pro-Europe, Pro-Brexit
Updated Tue · Upvoted by Tony Jackson, lives in The United Kingdom (1981-present)

Like all diverse groups of people, supporters of Brexit come in all shapes and sizes, colours and creeds. Some are quite intelligent, some are pig ignorant. There’s a cogent rationale for Brexit. It is not self evident that Britain is better off inside the EU than out of it. Yet to have a keen and comprehensive grasp of the logical case for Leave requires above average intelligence, for the simple reason that you need to be able to think through the dynamics of a future state, that currently doesn’t exist.

By contrast, being a “Remainer” is easier. Leaving aside the fact that EU has never stood still in its history and isn’t about to start doing so now, the EU is still “the devil you know”. If you haven’t thought through how the future will (or could) evolve, it’s much easier to consider any change, an unpalatable risk.

Of course, if we always thought like that, we wouldn’t get anywhere. A CEO of a challenged company would quickly get fired if he/she said something like “let’s carry on doing as we are”. A CEO gets paid to change things. He/she is tasked with charting a course that nobody else has conceived. The pay is good because the skill to do it, is so very rare. (Viewed like this, no, I’m afraid Theresa May wouldn’t get the job).

Whenever there’s a controversy, humans have a tendency to belittle the other side, oversimplifying their position, sometimes even claiming they have no argument at all. In the Brexit debate, it’s tempting to see those wanting out, as people who haven’t quite reached the point where their cerebral faculties master their base instincts. “Id” dominated folk, to put it in Freudian terms.

But there are several problems with this attitude. The first is, it’s very snooty. It depends on people having a view of others, that they’re somehow lower down in the food chain, at a more primitive stage in the evolutionary cycle and consequentlty, their views and preferences are less valid. A second is, it’s self-defeating. Claiming your opponents have no case is a statement about you, not them. You’ve basically just told the world that you haven’t bothered to think it through, or possibly, that you’re incapable of doing so. In that, you prove yourself guilty of exactly the fault of which you accuse the other.

It’s fine to say there’s a case for the alternative point of view and you disagree with it. But to say there is no argument, is factually incorrect and thus, you reveal yourself to be a fool.

Now, on Quora, I’ve tried to present the case for Britain’s position outside the EU, as I see it. I love when people engage, regardless of whether they’re of the same opinion. I get few (but some) comments that are overtly hostile but plenty written in a condescending tone. Comments starting with “Actually, blah blah blah” (a la mansplaining); sarcastic, clever dick replies; witicisms about belief in unicorns; and condescensions about my capacity for logical reasoning, are red flags. I don’t engage with such people because they are annoying and have failed to show sufficient intellectual curiosity for a constructive discussion. If they persist, I block them. I suspect this is a common experience among Leave supporters; the sense of being treated by the other side, like an inferior species.

So yes, in answer to the question, indeed some Brexit supporters are stupid, though some are not. But if you think they’re all stupid, that says more about you than about them.

Steve Haywood, Tax Manager at Moore & Smalley (2004-present)
Answered Feb 7

No. Both Remainers and Brexiteers are probably both about as ignorant as the other thinks they are. Okay so that’s a bit flippant, but it sums up the problem fairly well. Most people don’t have a good knowledge of all of the issues and the inner workings of the EU, and both sides told lies and misinformation bordering on lies that their supporters swallowed hook line and sinker. Now I think the Brexit camp told the biggest lies, but that has a lot to do with the fact that they were passing off as certainty a lot of great unknowns about leaving the EU.

The thing is that Brexit supporters have a lot of legitimate grievances that they are correct on. There has been a lot of immigration that has affected the country unequally, and some areas have been swamped with migrants. Now the economic facts are that EU migrants have a positive impact economically - i.e. improve growth, jobs, tax revenues etc. But if you live in the north for instance, and the Europeans come in and take all your jobs, it’s not very helpful that lots of jobs have been created down south and in the City of London, in banking, high tech industries. You don’t care about that, all you see is Europeans coming and taking your jobs. Now this also means that there’s more demand for doctors, hospitals, more pupils in your kid’s classroom, maybe more of a wait for social housing etc etc. Now as I mentioned above, there’s clear evidence that EU migrants bring a net contribution to the public purse (even over and above the EU membership fees). What the government should do is ensure there’s more money in the areas most affected by migration, to pay more doctors, nurses, teachers, build more social housing and so on. But in actual fact it hasn’t done that, it’s just pocketed the money to try and partially patch up the massive hole in the public finances (i.e. not borrow so much). So to all intents in purposes a lot of those Brexit supporters are correct, they aren’t ignorant of their own circumstances. Politics is a blunt instrument and they’ve chosen their side because people in positions of authority have told them it will help, because they want to protest and the negative effect they’ve experienced from EU migration.

Now anyone who thinks that we are going to get a really good deal out of the Brexit negotiations, whether they support Brexit or Remain, now they’re ignorant, or a hopeless optimist. The deck is stacked against us, we don’t have much to negotiate with. We’re going to get a really crummy deal, the only question is whether it will be just moderately bad or really terrible. For that we’ll have to wait and see.

For the record, I’m British (I like in the north of England) and a Remain supporter, but I like to see both sides of the argument and appreciate everyone’s position. Most of the people I know supported Remain, but I have a few Brexit supporting friends, and yes we’re still friends!

How much power does the British Royalty actually have in their government? Recently someone showed me a list of some of their controversies and they sound like awful people.
Ian Thorpe - Answered Jan 5

The answer to your question “How much power does the British Royalty actually have in their government?” is very little. But what makes you think they are awful people. Their scandals are not particularly shocking even after the details have been sensationalized by the tabloid press. The treatment of Princess Diana by Prince Charles was pretty appalling but there were special circumstances, both had been pushed into a marriage neither really wanted, (ever watched the bit in four weddings and a funeral where Hugh grant is getting married to ‘Duckface’ (a name by which that actress will now always be known to many people)? That fictional fiasco represents a case of someone marrying through a sense of duty. Diana had her revenge of course, just look at the physical resemblance between that ginger haired lad of hers and a certain British Army Office, Major Hewitt (right)

the Hewitt Boy

Compared to some of the political scandals covered up by the authorities over the years the rest of the royal scandals are trivial. There was a Labour MP, Greville Jenner who escaped arrest on paedophilia charges for years despite the evidence against him. He had once escaped conviction by pleading dementia, but miraculously he recovered sufficiently to continue attending The House Of Lords and picking up his £300 a day allowance. Also a conservative L**n B*****n, whose family obtained a court injunction preventing his being named in connection with several sex scandals, was named in a paedophila investigation. Rumour has it there were moves to get past the legal ploys protecting him when he rather conveniently died.

I’ve never been a fan of the monarchy, in fact when younger I believed it was an archaic institution that should have been abolished. As I’ve aged however, contemplation of what horrors a President Blair or President Thatcher might have inflicted on British society has convinced me the monarchy does a decent job for us. And when they get caught with their pants down it provides some entertainment.

What is it we're getting so wrong in our teaching of evolution that so many people have so many misconceptions about it? It seems such a simple thing to me and yet the same basic errors keep coming up again and again.
Ian Thorpe, writer, poet, free thinker Answered Jan 4

I’m probably not the best person to answer this because I’m neither a naturalist nor a biologist, but what I notice is that while many religious people argue that evolution is “only a theory” (which is correct btw, but more on that later,) they then try to claim that proves the theory is wrong. The scientific method requires demonstrable, observable proof. For example to make a propellant for bullets, cannonballs etc. you mix sulphur, saltpetre and carbon to make gunpowder, and light it to get a bang. Demonstrable and observable.

Later experiments, by adding other substances, usually nitrates, to the mix, produced improved types of explosive propellant, including Cordite which though less powerful is less likely to destroy the barrel of the weapon it is fired from, and delivers a more controlled explosion. Later came dynamite and nito - glycerin so we could say explosives evolved though that is stretching the word a bit. To make a chicken you might take a few breeding pairs of small lizards with long, powerful rear legs, and short forelegs, and put them in an environment hostile to lizards but friendly to other life forms - then wait a few million years and see if those members of the species best equipped to adapt have turned into chickens. They might have turned into man eating monsters or something like the Stymphalian Birds of Greek myth. Or they might simply have died off.

That’s the problem with evolution, a lot of people want to believe it is an ordered, mechanistic process and inevitably humans will one day evolve into gods (or half human - half machine humandroids,) when in fact the process is messy, random and chaotic. When Charles Darwin coined the phrase “Survival of the fittest, he did no mean those who work out at the gym or go running most often but those best fitted to adapt to changes in their environment. And the changes are unpredictable.

Thus while we may in the future evolve into higher beings, there is an equal chance we may revert back to being knuckle dragging tree dwellers. The problem is while there are masses of evidence that Darwin’s evolution theory is probably very close to correct, science requires absolute proof and evolution requires far longer than homo sapiens sapiens has been around to turn lizards into birds or fishes or whatever and lemurs into humans. In other words it is not an observable or demonstrable process. There are however no realistic alternatives unless people are prepared to believe creation myths (which is their right.)

So evolution might seem simple to you but it is really very complicated and uncertain and that’s perhaps why so many people can’t get their heads round it. And if you start thinking about human evolution, that’s a mass of different questions.

For a book or any other printed publication, what’s the base whether to trust its references? What makes a reference trustworthy? There are tons of resources for all opposite ideas in the world and the references, so what stand point should be grown?
Ian Thorpe, lived a lot
Answered Jan 3

As you say, on every contentious issue there are always many sources all claiming to be authentic and all putting forward differing (and often completely contradictory) points of view. In the end, unless something is demonstrably true (i.e. scientifically proven) we can only rely on our own judgement.

It is necessary however to be wary of those who use the term ‘scientific’ to back up their own opinions or beliefs. I was recently involved in a comment thread on a Quora question about why Britain wanted to leave the EU.

I had linked my answer to an ebook compiled by myself and a couple of friends of our own wrtings on why Britain should leave the EU backed up by links to official documentation of the EU, various governments of EU member states and a number of politicians, sociologists and economists since the 1930s to show that from its earliest incarnation as the European coal and steel community the log term plan had been to create a federal European superstate to which the national sovereignty of member states would be sacrificed.

Somebody who claimed to be a lawyer replied by questioning my credibility, honesty and professional qualifications and then told me my sources were not reliable because they were not ‘scientific’. I asked her to define what she considered a ‘scientific’ source for a topic that could only ever be about opinions. Obviously nobody can ever know why 17.5 million Britons voted to leave, it’s often hard enough to understand what is going on in our own heads let alone millions of other peoples’.

Lawyers of course are not noted for honesty or for being able to give a straight answer to a straight question so I was not surprised when she replied by simply reiterating her demands. At that point I politely told her she had no right to pretend she was qualified to hold the rest of us on Quora to standards of her invention and that she is a troll. Then I dropped out of he thread.

That story serves to illustrate that it is not possible to provide definitive answers to most questions, we should simply accept that most people who do answer believe what they are writing is correct, although we are not obliged to accept their belief. The Scottish philosopher David Hume summed it up when he wrote, “There are no single, general answers to the great questions, rather every person has their own perception of what is right. So in answer to your question, having described - ‘scientifically or not - what leads me to this point, I give you the words of Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."Ian Thorpe, lived a lot Answered Jan 3

As you say, on every contentious issue there are always many sources all claiming to be authentic and all putting forward differing (and often completely contradictory) points of view. In the end, unless something is demonstrably true (i.e. scientifically proven) we can only rely on our own judgement.

It is necessary however to be wary of those who use the term ‘scientific’ to back up their own opinions or beliefs. I was recently involved in a comment thread on a Quora question about why Britain wanted to leave the EU.

I had linked my answer to an ebook compiled by myself and a couple of friends of our own wrtings on why Britain should leave the EU backed up by links to official documentation of the EU, various governments of EU member states and a number of politicians, sociologists and economists since the 1930s to show that from its earliest incarnation as the European coal and steel community the log term plan had been to create a federal European superstate to which the national sovereignty of member states would be sacrificed.

Somebody who claimed to be a lawyer replied by questioning my credibility, honesty and professional qualifications and then told me my sources were not reliable because they were not ‘scientific’. I asked her to define what she considered a ‘scientific’ source for a topic that could only ever be about opinions. Obviously nobody can ever know why 17.5 million Britons voted to leave, it’s often hard enough to understand what is going on in our own heads let alone millions of other peoples’.

Lawyers of course are not noted for honesty or for being able to give a straight answer to a straight question so I was not surprised when she replied by simply reiterating her demands. At that point I politely told her she had no right to pretend she was qualified to hold the rest of us on Quora to standards of her invention and that she is a troll. Then I dropped out of he thread.

That story serves to illustrate that it is not possible to provide definitive answers to most questions, we should simply accept that most people who do answer believe what they are writing is correct, although we are not obliged to accept their belief. The Scottish philosopher David Hume summed it up when he wrote, “There are no single, general answers to the great questions, rather every person has their own perception of what is right. So in answer to your question, having described - ‘scientifically or not - what leads me to this point, I give you the words of Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Isn't it time for Britain to stop discrimination against Muslims and allow Imams to serve alongside the Lords Spiritual?
Ian Thorpe · Add Credential
Answered Jan 1

No, it’s time to kick the Lords Spiritual out of government completely, they are an anachronism. Until early in the 19th century The Church of England was an important part of local administration, the Anglican ‘parish’ was responsible for, if my memory is correct - long time since I left formal education, the poor relief system, care of the sick, old, and orphans, cleanliness of public areas, maintaining public buildings, cemeteries roads and footpaths, burying the dead (with due ceremony if they could afford a coffin, a service and a grave plot,) and keeping records of births, marriages, death and property ownership.

Once the right of religious freedom had been won, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and non - conformist congregations felt (with justification) it was unfair the position of being the official church gave the Church of England a voice in government while they had none.

It became even more unfair when the Great Reform Act of 1832(?) began the long process of transferring those functions from the church parish governors to secular local authorities.

While the reforms have continued to the present (the latest changes were made in the 1990s when parish bodies were put under the oversight of the government’s Department of Communities and Local Government. But while the Church of England’s position in local administration has been eroded, the Bishops still have their seats in the unelected upper house of government. And while Muslims and Evangelical Christians make a lot of noise and Catholic leaders claim they are the one true church, most of us are secular. So while there are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Methodist and non conformist Lords, the Church of England bishops are the only ones who qualify because of their position in the official religion. Yet most of us are now secular humanists or Christian in name only.

Personally I am in favour of replacing the House of Lords with an elected upper house for which any faith could nominate candidates.

Why are people so against women covering their heads for religious reasons?

Few people in the free world are against women covering their heads for religious reasons. Many are against women covering their faces in public areas for religious reasons but that is a totally different thing. The use of the mantilla is still common in rural parts of Spain and Portugal and there are various custom relating to head covering in the Orthodox Christian communities.

As for the Muslim practice of covering the face (not demanded by the Koran but by tribal and caste customs, a lot of Europeans are not comfortable with this because they suspect a level of coercion in involved in persuading women to comply with this custom.Few people in the free world are against women covering their heads for religious reasons. Many are against women covering their faces in public areas for religious reasons but that is a totally different thing. The use of the mantilla is still common in rural parts of Spain and Portugal and there are various custom relating to head covering in the Orthodox Christian communities.

As for the Muslim practice of covering the face (not demanded by the Koran but by tribal and caste customs, a lot of Europeans are not comfortable with this because they suspect a level of coercion in involved in persuading women to comply with this custom.

Why does the United Kingdom want to leave the European Union?
Ian Thorpe, Worked in EU for several years
Updated Jan 7 · Upvoted by Khandu Patel, former Gentleman of Leisure at The United Kingdom (2016)
Originally Answered: Why does Britain really want to leave the EU? · Remove Banner

I worked for the European Commission, the administrative branch of the EU governing bureaucracy for several years, though I was not an official but an external consultant. On the way to my office in the Batement Jean Monnet in Luxembourg City every morning I would pass a large plaque, a tribute to Monnet, a French civil servant and one of the founding fathers of the EU. On the plaque were engraved Monnet’s words spoken on the inauguration of the Common Market at the EU was originally called.

The words described the vision of Monnet, Coudenhove - Kalergi, Robert Schuman, Paul - Henri Spaak and others, of a Europe in which there were no French people, no Germans, Italians, Dutch, Belgians and eventually, as the community expanded, no Britons, Spaniards Portuguese, Greeks, Austrians, Swedes etc., only Europeans, citizens of a single political entity with a single, synthesized culture and all controlled by a central committee of unelected bureaucrats. Reference to the ‘Kalergi plan’ would help remainers understand more, exactly where the eventual goal of the European union lies.

I have been called racist and xenophobic for supporting the leave campaign but I saw up close the waste, the suffocating bureaucracy and the dangerous political ambitions of the EU bureaucracy. Racist is ridiculous, we’re predominantly Caucasoid in Europe. Xenophobic is just wrong, I love France and its people and culture, likewise Luxembourg and Sweden having worked in all of them and I found a lot to like in most other European nations I have visited. I like their culture, cuisine, history, architecture and would happily go there again. Isn’t it hypocritical, and more than a little stupid of those who supported remaining in the EU to accuse people like me of xenophobia when they are the ones who want to sweep away national sovereignty and all that wonderful cultural diversity and create a federal European superstate, a single political unit with a common culture?

Now most people who voted to leave are probably not in a position to give an answer such as I did, but they know that previous attempts to unite Europe, (Hitler’s Nazis - from where much of the EU ideology originates, The Soviet Union, Bonaparte’s French Empire,) have not ended well. And despite having been described as ignorant, ineducable working class oiks by leaders of the remain campaign, most leave voters were intelligent enough to know why the vision of a united Europe can never work, why the interests of fishermen and olive farmers in southern Sicily and unranium miners or lumberjacks in Kiruna (northern Sweden) can never be served by one-size-fits-all economic policies and why nothing can bridge the vastly different cultures of both areas.

People who support the ‘European Project’ are detached from reality, people in Britain and the growing numbers in other member states who want out are realists.


What do you think about solipsism? Is it selfish?
Ian Thorpe, lived a lot
Answered Dec 26

Though solipsism can in some ways be said to be the belief that each individual is at the centre of their own universe, that is not necessarily selfish although it could easily be used as a justification for selfish behaviour. I see that other answers already posted have given a clear definition of solipsism as the belief that the only thing we can be sure exists is our mind so there’s no point expanding on that. I think where solipsism fails is that while each individual has our own perception of reality and no two are quite the same, those perceptions will usually have enough similarities to suggest there is a common reality of which we are all a part.

Where solipsism becomes dangerous is in politics, where a person can gain enough power to impose their personal perception on policy decisions which affect all members of the community. Where the politician’s perception is out of kilter with the group perception, or is shaped by self interest, there is seldom a good outcome.

Which country has the oldest building in the world?

It depends what you define as a building. There is a sophisticated temple complex at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, discovered in 1995, which is estimated at between 9,000 and 10,0000 years old, but other sites in Egypt, India and Europe could easily be as old. The problem is carbon dating can only be carried out on organic matter, for example wood, bamboo, bone. And most of the remains are stone or pottery fragments, vegitation decays and bone can easily be moved by animals to there is no certainty that bones found at a site were left by the original occupants.

On top of that there is the problem of adacemic orthodoxy, for a long time now ancient history professors have insisted that civilisation began about 6000 years ago (which is very close to the biblical creation timescale - well they don’t want to risk losing research grants,) though the evidence that interesting things were going on is now almost irrefutable.

The Brodgar temple complex in the Orkney Islands to the north of Britain is acknowledged to be ‘over 5000 years old’ but archaeologists are coy about how old the oldest parts might be.

When we move further south in Britain, both Silbury Hill and Glastonbury Tor are man made and the current structures can be dated at 5000 - 6000 years old. Both however are built over older structures. This is where definitions come in because we have to ask is it right to call a pile of stones a building? Glastonbury is not completely artificial but the natural landscape was greatly enhanced by humans and there is evidence tho tower on the summit was built over older structures.

There are many such ancient sites around Europe, north Africa, India and the middle east and a lot of debate about how old they actually are. Speculative historian Graham Hancock claims to have found submerged ruins of architectural remains as old as 20,000 years. The problem academics have in considering such claims is they would lose too much credibility if people like Hancock turned out to be right.

Did ancient Egypt have their own Hercules or Thor?

Most of the ancient pantheons have parallel gods who have similar roles, though the job descriptions overlap sometimes. For example while Thor looks after war and thunderbolts in Norse mythology, for the Greeks, while Ares was the god of war (whose firey chariot was pulled by Phobos and Diemos (fear and panic) whose iron hooves struck flame from the ground as they galloped.

Because the Egyptian civilization went through several evolutionary stages there are often several gods for each discipline.

The oldest Egyptian war god is in fact a woman, Sekhmet. She was followed by Annanuki, also female, whose imminent return to earth is predicted on many websites on the, shall we say speculative fringe of historical research. Later came Onuris. As with gods, so with the semi divine super heroes of the ancient world. Arthur and Cuchullain are Celtic equivalents of Hercules, as in Seigfried in Germanic myth. I know of no direct equivalent in Egyptian myth but the legendary Ethiopian warrior Bousiris firs the job description quite well.

If you are interested in mythology here’s a link that might prove useful.

Do the signals that a cellular BTS/tower propagates cause any harm to humans or either form of life?
Ian Thorpe, Was IT consultant in nuclear industry
Answered Dec 21

Yes, but you are not at much risk if you live a short distance away. I worked on the cellular networks in the 1980s and we were frequently reminded when scheduling our visits to existing masts to carry out line-of-sight and signal quality tests that a few seconds exposure to the microwave radiation at close quarters to the transmitter could sterilise an adult human.

Nobody ever stood in front of the transmitters so the truth of this was never tested, because we all knew the health risks associated with electro magnetic radiation.

My 17 y/o daughter dyed a strip of her hair pink, so she’s not allowed to hang out with friends for 4 months. Am I going easy on her? Unground her now! When my daughter was 17 she had pink AND blue streaks in her hair, she later went to all pink, magenta, orange and blonde with two inch dark roots, wore Doc Martin boots with short skirts and had a lot of ear piercings (six per ear I think) and a nose stud yet her mother and me always had good relationships with her and because we let little things go she respected our right to tell her when we did not like what she was doing. Now in her late thirties she’s manager of a winter sports resort company in France. 17 is a good time to be a bit crazy sometimes, it does not necessarily indicate how they will turn out later. My wife comes from an Irish catholic background and several of her friends attended a private convent school run by nuns, where punishments were handed out to even senior girls if their hemlines were not at least two inches below the knee (this was in the 1960s) or there was any trace of lacquer in their hair or varnish on their nails. She has often talked about the number of girls from that school who went completely off the rails after leaving, compared with the zero from the more secular catholic school who experienced difficulties coping with freedom. We are all individuals and should not forget that our children are too, and when they reach that blurred area between childhood and adulthood what we think is moral guidance can easily seem like repression to them. I remember my Dad often saying to me, “I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as I did,” until one day I said, “Don’t worry Dad, I’m going to make my own mistakes and they’ll be better than yours.” That went down like the proverbial lead Zepplin.

God and faith

Why is it really important to have faith in god?

If you want there to be a God then yes, because if people did not believe he would not exist. You should read “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.

What Have The British Done For Us

How exactly has Great Britain contributed to the world? What have the British ever done for us?

“Well obviously the roads, goes without saying.” (h/t Monty Python’s Flying Circus.) But it is actually true in both the cases of Rome and Britain. The Romans bulit a network of paved roads, the routes of which of which many of our main roads follow but tarmac / asphalt which provides the smooth surfaces that let us cruise at 100 (oops I mean 70) miles per hour was invented by an Englishman, Edgar Hooley in 1901.

Modern tarmac / asphalt uses bitumen, a by product of oil rather than naturally produced tar, with similar results. OK, that deals with the Monty Python bit, now for the rest, from the common law in 870something AD (still the basis of UK, US, Canadian, Australian and many other legal systems around the world,) to Graphene within the last ten years … how much time do you have?


If There was no Religion Would There Be Less Conflict

If Jerusalem had been razed to the ground a thousand years ago, would there be less conflict in the modern world? Or would we have built new structures there, decided they were now holy and gone back to killing each other over them?

I think Jerusalem has been, if not razed to the ground, certainly knocked about a bit on several occasions though I could not be specific about when. And yes we would still be killing each other over it because the argument is not about the material fabric of the city but about what it symbolises spiritually.

Religion and Science

Why do at least some religious people believe in things that go against science? Would not being allowed to use anything that required science to exist help them see how science is important

When you write: “Would not being allowed to use anything that required science to exist help them see how science is important?” it makes me wonder how well you understand what science really is. Derived from the Latin noun ‘scientia’ which means knowledge. Usually science means a classified body of knowledge which is capable of being demonstrated. There is another kind of knowledge defined in Latin dictionaries, ‘sapiens’, meaning wise. So scientia is knowledge which can be learned, sapience is that which is understood without being taught.

It could be said then that everything requires science. A preacher who wants to preach a sermon about Noah’s Flood needs to know the story as written in The Bible, and the mythological significance of the details. (the Flood was real, Noah probably wasn’t and there are far more logical theories on what caused the inundation than that God made it rain a lot. The preacher would also need to know some rhetorical technique to convince people of his case so the knowledge is quite varied.

On the other hand there is not a lot of science involved in computers. The first logic gate was demonstrated in 1870, since then they have been made much smaller and faster. but that is technology rather than a true science. Science has become one of the most abused words in the English language, so no, I would not stop religious people who reject science from using technology because things are often not as clear cut as science fans would like them to be. Let religion deal in certainties, the sciences should deal in questions.

Forgiving Germany?

Is it okay if I can't forgive Germans for what they did during WW2?

I don’t see there is anything to forgive now. Any German, British, American or French people who were actually involved in the war are very old now. Most Germans alive today were not even born when the war ended, and while the fact that their country spawned the National Socialist movement which committed so many atrocities is a source of shame to them, they are rightly proud of what Germany has achieved since the Nazis were defeated.

Just as British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch people can bear no responsibility for the Atlantic slave trade because none of us was involved and there is no moral justification for hanging blame on us two hundred years later, it is equally unjustified to hold Germans responsible for what happened in their country before they were born or when they were children.

And we should remember that millions of Germans, Communists, Social Democrats, non - conformists, homosexuals, and the old, disabled or mentally ill, as well as Jews and Gypsies suffered at the hands of the Nazis. By all means work to keep the memory of Nazi atrocities alive, but there is no justification for attaching blame to Germans in general.

Living with Clones

Could you live with an exact clone of yourself, who was exactly the same as you but was a die-hard conservative?

I couldn’t live with any clone of myself, the idea is creepy.

ancient Rome multiculturalism

If we take a look at Ancient Rome and its demographics, can we say it was a cosmopolitan city? Were there Iberians, Gauls, Nubians, and Greeks living there and speaking their own language? As happens in modern cosmopolitan cities these communities probably spoke the language of their people among themselves and low Latin when they had to mix with people outside their communities for business or social reasons. We have no way of knowing for sure but that’s how things work when different cultures live side by side.

Britain and Civil Rights

Why does Britain have very few civil liberties?

The case is that we have lots of civil , some of which have existed since King Alfred the Great signed the Liber Judicialis in Eight Seventy something, but we are such a well balanced bunch of people generally that we don’t feel the need to scream and shout about it. I spent a couple of summers in New York in the 1960s, mixing mostly with people of the professional and managerial class. They were warm, friendly people but so obsessed with unwritten rules and codes of behaviour and so desperate to be assured what they were doing was OK, I felt at times as if I’d walked into an enactment of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial.

Whereas in the parts of Britain I’ve lived or worked (and I’ve been around most of it in 70 years) people tend to mind their own business. Sure people will gossip about us behind our backs, but most of don’t get screwed up about it because it’s human nature to gossip.

More on "Why Does Britain have very few civil liberties?

If you are an American citizen and move to the UK, do you get free healthcare?

No, there is no such thing as free healthcare, it costs money to run hospitals, pay doctors and nurses salaries and provide medicines and health aids. The system in the UK and most other European nation as well as Canada and Austrialia is “free at the point of delivery.”

In other words you don’t get a big fat bill from the hospital if you need minor treatment and you don’t bankrupt your family if you suffer a major injury or serious illness, the cost of your treatment is shared by all who pay taxes. So when an American citizen moves to the UK to take advantage of the socialised health service, they are not getting ‘free’ treatment, they are stinging UK taxpayers for the cost of their treatment.

More on: If you are an American citizen and move to the UK, do you get free healthcare?

If all of mankind left Earth one year from now, regardless of how or why, magic spaceships, the rapture, or whatever, how would we best make the transition for Earth from human domination back to nature with the least damage?

If we all left the earth we wouldn’t make the transition because we’d be elsewhere. As for earth, if we left the transition process in the hands of nature, it might take a while but eventually balance would be restored.

The difference between nature and science is nature finds what works and sticks with it until changing conditions render it non functional, then adapts what is capable of adapting to new conditions (evolution.)

Science sees what works and interferes with it. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes catastrophic, often results are both and bad, but scientists get a tad upset if we mention unforeseen negative consequences (like switching from biodegradable paper and card to plastic for wrapping ans packaging.)

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Did the ancient religions like the Greek, Roman and Egyptian religions have names?

Rome had many cults, the main one was the Sol Invictus cult in which the Emperor was Pontifex Maximus, then there was Mithraism which was very popular with the men of the legions, a bull cult which originated in Persia or Assyria, the Bear cult of Germanic warriors, north African, Celtic and Slavic cults. And little about any of them is known to us. It is commonly supposed (and a lot of people will be mad at me for contradicting the belief,( that something called Wicca is the ancient religion of norther Europe. It isn’t, north European tribes’ spiritual beliefs and rituals had a lot in common but were not a formal religion, Wicca was at attempt by an English eccentic, Gerald Gardner, to recreate a single, coherent version of those old religions (he also had a ‘thing’ about dancing naked around bonfires,) and the name was invented in the 1950s though it is derived fom the Anglo Saxon word Wiccan, meaning a wise woman. The Druids had a central philosophy quite similar to Hinduism and the Hermetic rituals of the Assyrians and Persians, but again the Druids were not a formal religious group but a scholarly caste. They adapted their belief to the tribal lore of the people they lived among. There were great centres of Druidic learning in Britain at Glastonbury and Ynys Mon (the Isle of Mona, or Angelsey to us modern Brits,), in France at Mont St. Michel in Normandy and elsewhere around Europe. I visited one in Sweden when I worked there, but I can’t remember what it is called. In general you can assume that most ancient religions had no names and the names we know them by are modern conveniences. More on Ancient Religions

What existed before time?

Ian R Thorpe

The standard answer is nothing. Those who believe Big Bang represents the true beginning of the universe claim that time began at the instant of Big Bang. Others argue against this, but the question is not about the alternatives to Big Bang theory, which was itself suggested as an alternative to creationism.

A more satisfying answer for me at least, is chaos. To our modern way of thinking, chaos probably suggests something like a riot or pupils in a school running wild because the teachers are on strike, but it has deeper metaphysical meanings.

There are some wonderful creation myths around the world, one of my favourites is that of a South American rainforest tribe who believe their god created our world by attaching a dream to an illusion. But for purposes of an answer rather than a long essay it’s best to stick with the two versions in The Bible, one of which, in The book Of Genesis, is familiar to most of us even if we do not follow any of the Abrahamic religions. The other in the Gospel of John is less well known, but from a metaphysical philosophy point of view more interesting. To understand why chaos existed before time we need to look at both. First Genesis but there is no need to go as far as God creating everything in seven days in the Genesis version (if you believe that fine, that’s no problem here, I’m not trying to convert anyone,) the interesting bit is in the first three or four verses.

King James Bible, 1611
Genesis Chapter 1

1 In the beginning God created the Heaven, and the Earth.

2 And the earth was without forme, and voyd, and darkenesse was upon the face of the deepe: and the Spirit of God mooved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkenesse.

OK, some weird spellings there, but that’s part of the 1611 version’s charm. Now let’s look at the other idea:

Gospel of St. John, Chapter 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darknesse, and the darknesse comprehended it not.

In the first example ‘darkness was on the face of the deep.’ Does that mean the ocean, or another vast, unexplored entity, the human mind (or soul if you prefer?)

And God says let there be light. Does He mean its time to switch on the sun or does He mean another kind of light, enlightenment, the awakening of intelligence. It’s entirely possible the beginnings of true intelligence were stirring in the darkness of primitive minds, early hominids honoured their dead which suggests they believed in some kind of spiritual life. So when God says let there be light is it a reference to when we made the jump from Homo Sapiens (man who knows) to what we are today, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, (man who knows he knows.)

The Gospel Of St. John appears to back that up, “In the beginning the word was with God and the word was God.” Now in the ancient Aramaic language and its variants which were spoken around the middle east before Greek became the standard, Jah, El and Ea, the names of God all mean “I am.” And in the ancient texts the nameless one we know only as The Ancient Of Days uttered that phrase and it was the only thing he ever said.

Or to look at it another way, our ancestors gained consciousness and self awareness, and from there they progressed to leaning to live in communities.

Another creation my, an earlier one than The Bible shows the next step. In the Avesta of the Zoroastrians, the nameless God says “I am” and awakes consciousness, then his son drives an axle though the centre of the earth (ancient civilisations did not believe the world was flat,) and in a metaphorical sense flattens it and by ‘squaring the circle’ enables primitive humans to make maps and measure the passage of time through night and day - thus dividing darkness from light and and signalling the development of mathematics.

So from the darkness (of the mind) which kep our primitive ancestors in chaos, we have the coming of light, the enlightenment that enables us o impose order in our lives. And so humans moved from a state of existence similar to wild animals, a constant struggle for survival, to civilized ways of living in which they benefitted from humanity’s greatest invention, porridge. Ah, your teachers probably told you our greatest invention was the wheel. Well it could have been a contender, but if we take the broad view, by learning to boil grain which was abundant, we might have lost a little nutritional value but that was more than balanced by how much easier our digestive systems could extract the valuable nutrients from it.

With better nutrition they had more time and more energy to experiment with wheels, pottery, buildings, taming animals and so on. And to build better clocks, measuring time more accurately and moving further away from the chaos. It wasn’t all good of course, while one porridge eater was inventing the wheel, another was inventing taxes, which was probably ou forst step on the way back to chaos..

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It is possible that in history there existed other philosophers like Plato and Aristotle that have been forgotten with their own theories about how the world works?

Ever heard of Xalmoxis? He is reputed to have lived around the delta of the Danube sometime between 500 and 600 BC and was the Dacian equivalent of Buddha, Lao Tse and Ezekiel in their respective cultures. He was later worshipped as a deity by the people of that culture, who were called Thracians by the Greeks

Greek historian Herodotus tells us Xalmoxis was a freed slave who founded a reliion based on his own philosophy and begame enormously wealthy and powerful. Herodotus it notoriously unreliable however, working mostly from hearsay and folk tales. We now know Xalmosis lived many centuries before Herodotus’ estimate.

The Romans described the Daciand (Gatae to Rome,) as the most savage of people but that may just have been an excuse to wipe them out as they controlled some lucrative trade routes Rome wanted.

Briefly, the Xalmoxian philosophy is quite similar to Buddhism and the spirituality of the north European Druids. All believed that after physical death the spirit simply enters a different state of being, returning to a ‘oneness’.

The 1st century Roman Emperor Trajan wrote: “"We have conquered even these Getai (Dacians), the most warlike of all people that have ever existed, not only because of the strength in their bodies, but, also due to the teachings of Zalmoxis who is among their most hailed. He has told them that in their hearts they do not die, but change their location and, due to this, they go to their deaths happier than on any other journey."

None of this should be read as absolute truth of course, historians and chroniclers of that era typically wrote what would please their ruler, or at least what would not displease him, keeping one’s head and body attached at the neck was as important a consideration as factual accuracy, but we do know the cult of Xalmoxis existed and from the little of Dacian civilisation the Romans did not destroy we know that like the Greeks, Assyrians and Hindus they were quite advanced in mathematics and astronomy and by the standards of the day were capable of complex civil engineering projects.

The name of Romania’s car maker, Dacia, commemorates them.

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How true is Donald Trump's statement that says "parts of London city are so radicalized that police are afraid to go there"?

Ian R Thorpe

Not true at all. There are part of all our cities where after dark cops only go in twos, but that has been the case since the nineteenth century and there are parts of London where nobody in their right mind would WANT to go (try getting a London cab driver to go south of the river after dark,) but the cops have to go there because it’s part of their job.

One of the things that makes Trump so entertaining to us outsiders is that he doesn’t THINK before he tweets. There have been problems in London, in an east end borough called Tower Hamlets. A few years ago a radical Muslim, Lutfer Rahman and his followers hijacked the local Labour Party branch and gained control of the local council. Rahman started making ridiculous statement such as proclaiming parts of the borough Sharia Law zones and Muslim only areas. The Labour Party’s national executive quickly moved to expel him, but he and his supporters retained control of the council at the next election, amid allegations of electoral fraud and intimidation.

An official investigation found Rahman guilty on various counts of electoral malpractice and his council was dissolved.

Tower Hamlets: the rise and fall of Lutfur Rahman

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How come black people in the UK are less segregated than black people in the U.S.?

Although people in the British colonies owned slaves abroad up to the early 19th C (1812 in fact), there has been no slavery on British soil for getting on for a thousand years. The medieval sefs were not actually slaves, their social status meant they belonged to the land, rather than the landowner. While this may seem strange, it was very logical in the context of how society was organised, with the Christian church being a very important part of the government structure, especially in its role as administrator of poor relief.

There has been a small black population in Britain, especially in port cities, since the Roman era, and archaeologists have found there was a well established coastal trade route from Scandinavia and The Baltic, around the Mediterranean coasts and down the west coast of Africa to the Niger Delta. There was little or no feeling that black people were intrinsically inferior or suited to being slaves just by being black, although there was a lot of curiosity about their very different appearance: North African slaver raiders had been kidnapping white Britons as slaves for many centuries, and black Africans were taken as slaves for class reasons rather than racial ones - because they were seen as peasants and culturally primitive.

This meant that when we came to abolish slavery it was much easier to sell the idea. If you’ve been taking people as slaves because they were peasants, all you have to say is “Even peasants and foreigners should be protected by English Common Law”, and there you are. But if you start with a constitution which says all men are created equal, and then you want to keep foreigners as slaves, you have to invent a reason why they aren’t really human, and then that’s rather hard to get away from.

It’s difficult to say, “Everything we told you about black people was wrong, and they’re just as capable as whites of being doctors and lawyers if they have access to good schools, decent living conditions and proper nutrition”, so up until the 1960s black people who did well and "bettered themselves" in the US were likely to be beaten or even killed by white racists for the sin of being "uppity niggers", although their persecutors were usually less intelligent and educated.

For much of the 20th C many US cities deliberately confined black people to poor areas with poor schools and facilities would not allow them buy property in affluent areas, even if they could afford to. So until very recently black and white in the US were actively prevented from integrating by local by-laws. Add to that the deliberate, organised segregation of schools up until the 1960s, preventing black children from making white friends and vice versa.

None of this happened in the UK. There was prejudice, when I first went to work in London in 1967 it was still possible to see low priced horels displaying signs that read, "no blacks or ~Irish", but such prejucice as there was rarely involved assuming that black people were somehow not human, it was just a spin on the good ol’ British class system which fostered the idea of people having a 'station' in society, and it was individual, not enshrined in law.

Q: Was there ever a time when nothing existed?

Wednesday 29 November, 2017

In spite of what theoretical physicists may tell you, no there could not possibly have been. Some Big Bang theorists will tell you that before Big Bang nothing existed, others say all the matter in the universe, plasma, gas, liquid, solid, as well as all the energy was compressed into a ball the size of … (it varies according you who’s talking,) a small planet, a football, a tennis ball, a rat turd, a grain of sand or a grain of salt. I go for the cosmic rat turd because it’s amusing.

Then, the theory has it, the pressures inside the pellet became so great it exploded, releasing all that compressed matter inside a shock wave which has been travelling outward at the speed of light (186,000 miles or 300,000 Kilometers per second) for about thirteen and a half billion years.

Now as I have mentioned here before, I have a classical education, and learned about Socrates at school more years ago than I care to mention. Socrates taught that if we keep questioning anybody on a belief we will eventually expose the fallacy or assumption the belief is based on.

So in a thread some time ago when some theoretical physics fanboi was ridiculing people who quite reasonably say we simply don’t know how the universe started by saying that only creationist nuts question Big Bang theory because “a consensus of scientists believe it is true and that makes it as good as a fact.” Nothing existed before Big Bang and that was the end of the discussion he asserted, everything was compressed in this amazing pellet.

Having decided to wind him up as Iasked, “What about the cosmic rat turd, that must have existed, so that was just floating around in space?” I asked (I recorded this exchange in a blog post and so have a record of it, this is an edited version because he threw some angrily profane insults at me and I threw some gratuitously profane, but funny insults at him in language that is not right for a public forum .

“No, you idiot, time and space did not exist, they were all compressed with the matter and energy inside the pellet.” I pointed out that time is a human concept and asked had he ever tried compressing space. The argument went on with him getting angrier and me getting more surreal.

Another, more feasible, theory is that matter is highly compressed energy. In this, energy existed and driven by forces not yet understood, began to compress itself (maybe with a bang or maybe with a slurping sound like Scooby Doo makes when consuming a Scooby snack, to bind itself into atoms and then molecules and so on.

But these are all just theories, we believe what makes sense to us, or in the case of people like me, believe nothing but are prepared to consider all ideas.

So about the only thing we can be certain of is there was never a time when nothing existed.

How would you feel if you were told that everything you have ever done in your life was exactly what you were destined to do and you by no mistake are fulfilling your life purpose just by being, and so is everything and everyone else?

Tuesday 28 November, 2017

I would not feel anything, I would simply ignore the person who told me that and get on with shaping my own destiny. There’s an old Nordic saying, “Wyrd biÞ ful ared” (fate must be fulfilled, the old German characters don’t with well with modern editors, that Þ is the letter Thorn, pronounced ‘th’ ). Northern British tribes however said, “Dree thy wyrd” or “face your fate,” implying that if we can overcome what life throws at us, we are masters of our own fate.

Fate decrees that we must face our monsters but if you look at any mythology, Greek, Roman, Nordic, Celtic, Egyptian, middle eastern or Chinese, the hero usually overcomes the seemingly invincible monster by using intelligence to counter the opponents gigantic strength, firey breath, toxic claws or such extreme ugliness it turns men to stone. That last one, the story of Perseus and Medusa (a Hollywoodized version is told in Clash of the Titans,”) is a classic example.

Tasked with ridding the world of the monstrous demigod and knowing he dare not look at her face when confronting her, Pesreus polishes his shield to mirror like brightness, approaches the Gorgon by walking backwards looking at the reflection of her cave in the shield, then when the Gorgon wakes, he holds up the shield and she sees her own face and is herself turned to stone.

The point most people miss about fate is it dictates situations but does not determine outcomes. It is the fate of Perseus to confront Medusa, but not to be killed by her. He ‘drees his wyrd’, overcomes the problem and a new chapter begins for him.

So in my view we are not fulfilling our purpose be simply being, we have to face the challenges and make what we can of our lives. That will not involve the kind of things mythological heroes have to do, but simply being the best person we can be.