Author: Rodd Rothwell

  • Translated from English by hafid ouaiahou

    التصميم الذكي

    (دعاة التصميم الذكي)

    ​ما هو التصميم الذكي ?

              ربما يمكن القول أن اقتراح داروين للتطور عن طريق الانتقاء الطبيعي كتفسير لتنوع الحياة على الأرض هو من أكثر النظريات العلمية المثمرة على الإطلاق ، وقد ولدت هذه الفكرة العديد من التخصصات العلمية بالإضافة إلى العلوم البيولوجية ، و اكتشاف الحمض النووي ، أو الحمض النووي الريبي منقوص الأكسجين الذي يحتوي على الجينات ، ووظيفة التكاثر التي تشكل اللبنات الأساسية لجميع الكائنات الحية قد عززت فكرة داروين

              ومع ذلك ، هناك زمرة صغيرة من أولئك الذين يشيرون إلى أنفسهم كعلماء يعارضون الأسس الكاملة لنظرية داروين. لا يمكن للاختيار أن يفسر تنوع الحياة على الأرض دون تدخل من خالق أو كائن خارق. يتم أخذ عملهم في محاولة لفضح الانحرافات في الانتقاء الطبيعي ، فهم يميزون أنفسهم عن الخلقيين ، ومعظمهم من المسيحيين أيضًا ، يرفضون فكرة الانتقاء الطبيعي ويجادلون بأن جميع الأنواع الطبيعية قد نشأت بشكل منفصل وفي غضون 10000 سنة الماضية. دعاة التصميم الذكي ” قبول نسخة محدودة من الانتقاء الطبيعي “يعتقدون أن تعقيد الأنواع يتطلب عمل مصمم ذكي خارق للطبيعة. تمكنت حركة التصميم الذكي من الحصول على دعم مالي كبير لتمكينها من إنشاء مؤسسات لتعزيز قضيتها.أحد أفضل المعاهد المعروفة يهتم بنشر الأدب حول التصميم الذكي ويدعو إلى تدريسه كعلم في المدارس الحكومية الأمريكية هو معهد الاكتشاف في سياتل ، واشنطن


            يدور هذا العرض التقديمي حول “التصميم الذكي” الذي يقال إن أصوله موجودة في أعمال رجل الدين والفيلسوف البريطاني ويليام بالي (1743-1805) الذي أنتج العديد من الأعمال حول حجة العالم الطبيعي الباهت التي كانت مقدمة للتصميم الذكي الذي ظهر في فلسفته الطبيعية حيث جادل عن وجود ;

          “عقل مصمم ذكي لمخالفة وتحديد الأشكال التي تتحملها الهيئات المنظمة”

           كان بالي ، بالطبع ، يكتب هذا قبل داروين على الرغم من أن داروين نفسه قيل أنه قرأ هذا العمل وأعجب به في البداية .  واعتقد لاحقًا أنه رفضه على وجه التحديد في عمله الخاص. اشتهر بالي أيضًا باستخدامه لتشبيه صانع الساعات الإلهي لشرح تنظيم النظام الشمسي

           “مؤخرًا أحد أهم المنشورات حول التصميم الذكي بعنوان الباندا والناس ؛  “السؤال المركزي للأصول البيولوجية”  تحرير تشارلز ثاكستون

       تم إنتاج هذا المجلد كنص في المدرسة الثانوية يدرس التصميم الذكي كعلم جنبًا إلى جنب مع التطور.  المحرر تشارلز ثاكستون هو أحد منظري الخلق وكان شخصًا مهمًا في تطوير فكرة التصميم الذكي.  يتكون المجلد من حجج وضع التصميم الذكي إلى الأمام ضد التطور عن طريق الانتقاء الطبيعي لصالح نظرية الخلق الخاص من قبل مصمم ذكي. بعض الحجج المقدمة من التصميم الدكي ضد التطور هي في الغالب نفس تلك الخاصة بموقف الخلق وتتضمن ما يسمى بالعيوب المعتادة – الثغرات في السجل الأحفوري ونقص الأشكال الانتقالية. ومع ذلك ، فإن تركيز التصميم الدكي هو عدم قدرة التطور على شرح الظهور المفاجئ لأنواع جديدة مكتملة التكوين 

                                                                                                                           

    Pandas and People

           كان اعتماد مصطلح التصميم الذكي بدلاً من نظرية الخلق في الأساس لتجنب استخدام مصطلح الله الذي يعني ضمناً أن التصميم الذكي ليس ديناً.  ومؤخراً ، وضع مجلس النواب في أركنساس مرة أخرى (هُزم تشريع مماثل في عام 1981) قانونًا افتراضيًا يقبل التصميم الذكي  كعلم يتم تدريسه جنبًا إلى جنب مع التطور ، تم رفض القانون من قبل مجلس الشيوخ في تصويت قريب.  لحسن الحظ ، ليس من الضروري الآن الاستماع إلى المحكمة العليا الأمريكية التي تم تحميلها الآن لصالح القضاة المحافظين الذين قد يميلون إلى الموافقة على الخطوة التي ستكون قرارًا رائدًا في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية

        يحظى الإيمان بالخلق والتصميم الذكي ورفض النظرية التطورية بشعبية مدهشة في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وبعض البلدان الأخرى في الغرب ، ففي استطلاع جالوب الأخير في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية (2019) ، يؤمن 40٪ من المستطلعين بفكرة الخلق. يؤمنون بأن الله خلق الحياة تقريبًا خلال العشرة آلاف سنة الماضية ويرفضون التطور باعتباره تلك النظرية غير المثبتة.ومع ذلك ، لا يزال المزيد من الأمريكيين يعتقدون أن الحياة تطورت على مدى ملايين السنين – إما بإرشاد من الله (33 في المائة) أو ، بشكل متزايد ؛ دون تدخل الله من الجميع (22 في المائة). 

        في أستراليا ، يعتبر الإيمان بذكاء الخلق مرتفعًا بشكل مدهش وإن لم يكن مرتفعًا كما هو الحال في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. أظهر استطلاع عام 2011 من قبل مجلة العلوم الأسترالية أن 31٪ يؤمنون بالخلق ، و 27٪ يؤمنون بالتطور الذي يوجهه الله و 42٪ يؤمنون بالطبيعة(التطور بدون الله.)
    فيما يلي قائمة بالحجج الرئيسية لحركة التصميم الذكي 

    ​اساسيات التصميم الدكي

    أ)  ​التعقيد غير قابل للأختزال

    التعقيد غير القابل للاختزال يشبه تعقيد ” الشمولية ” الذي طوره علماء النفس الذين يجادلون بأن النظام الكلي أو السيبراني أكبر من مجموع أجزائه ، وبعبارة أخرى ، إذا تعطل أحد عناصر النظام ، فإن النظام بأكمله مثل كل عنصر في النظام متكامل مع الآخرين ويجب أن يكون موجودًا حتى يعمل النظام. لا ينكر علماء التطور التعقيد في الأعضاء ، لكنهم يصرون على أن مثل هذا التعقيد لا يمكن إظهاره ، كما يفعل دوكينز ، للتطور بخطوات صغيرة على مدى فترة زمنية طويلة ، دون الحاجة إلى افتراض تصميم.  التصميم لتوضيح التعقيد غير القابل للاختزال والحاجة إلى استدعاء مصمم ذكي لشرح التعقيد. المحرك السوطي للبكتيريا (نوع من الذيل الذي يغوص الكائن الحي  فيه مثل محرك خارجي) هو مثال مفضل على أن التصميم الذكي يدعو للخروج بإثبات لإثبات وجهة نظرهم في التعقيد غير المنطقي.  يمكن للذيل الحركي أو ذيول البكتيريا أحادية الخلية تحريكها إلى الأماكن بسرعات غير عادية لبيئات مفيدة لها.يمكن للبكتيريا أيضًا أن تستشعر البيئة المفيدة (حيث يمكنها امتصاص المواد الكيميائية المغذية على سبيل المثال) حيث توجه نفسها ، لذا فهي تمتلك وظائف حركية وحسية ، ويمكن للبكتيريا أيضًا تغيير هيكلها لتمكينها من الوصول إلى الأهداف. إلى الحد الذي يعتبره المصممون الأذكياء معقدًا بشكل غير منطقي لدرجة أنه لا يمكن أن يتطور في التراكم المعتاد خطوة بخطوة للطفرات الصغيرة لأنه يحتوي على نظام يعمل بكامل طاقته – بواسطة المصمم الخارق

                                                                                                         

    Bacteria Flagella

    الحل لهذا الشذوذ المزعوم تم تقديمه جزئيًا من قبل داروين نفسه في أن تراكم الوظيفة ليس هو المسار الوحيد الذي يتبعه التطور ، فهو يتضمن أيضًا ، كما هو موضح في العديد من الأمثلة ، تغييرات أساسية في الوظيفة. في الاعتبار من قبل دعاة التصميم الذكي.في حين يتفق علماء الأحياء على أن البكتيريا المعنية تتطلب أن تعمل جميع أجزائها لتعمل كما تفعل ، فإنهم يجادلون بأن التطور يحتوي على العديد من الأمثلة على التغيرات في الوظيفة بالإضافة إلى التعقيد. لأداء آخر ، قبل أن تتطور إلى شكلها الحالي ، مثل هذه البكتيريا ربما تكون قد تطورت من سلف تغيرت وظيفته في أشكال لاحقة

                                                                                                                   

    Penguin

    ​أجنحة البطريق

       لجعل فكرة التطور هذه عن طريق تغيير الوظيفة أكثر وضوحًا ، يمكننا النظر إلى الوظيفة في الطيور. تطورت الأجنحة في الطيور ومكنتها من الطيران في الهواء ، ولكن في حالة البطريق ، تغيرت أجنحته لتعمل بمثابة الزعانف تسبح (أو تطير) عبر الماء وليس الهواء ، تعمل الأجنحة كزعانف يعتقد أنها ، من الناحية التشريحية ، أجنحة ، وكطيور ، فإن أسلافها كانت من خلال التطور كجناح ، وهو عضو سمح للعديد من الكائنات الحية بالطيران في الهواء. من المحتمل أن يكون سلف البطريق قادرًا على الطيران في الهواء ويمكن أن يسبح أيضًا كما هو واضح في بعض الطيور حاليًا. يتم تكييفها للقيام بالأمرين على الرغم من أن طيور الغاق بعد السباحة تضطر إلى تجفيف أجنحتها بعد الغوص في الماء قبل أن تتمكن من الطيران

                                                                                                   

    Flightless Cormorant

    ​أعضاء أثرية​

      نوع من طائر الغاق من جزر غالاباغوس (أشار داروين إلى ذلك) هو بلا طيران لأن أجنحته قد ضمرت (يشار إليها باسم الأعضاء الأثرية) إلى زوائد عديمة الفائدة تقريبًا ، لكنه سباح بارع وقد تطور بشكل قوي للغاية, أقدام مكففة كبيرة تدفعها بقوة عبر الماء ويبدو أنها قادرة على حبس أنفاسها لفترة طويلة. هذا على عكس البطريق الذي غير وظيفة الجناح إلى الزعنفة ,بينما في حالة الغاق غالاباغوس القدم مكشوفة لزيادة القوة لتمكينه “الطيران” عبر الماء. لم يختف الجناح الأثري لأنه يبدو أنه لا يمثل الكثير من القيود على البقاء, على الرغم من أن بعض علماء الأحياء يجدون أنه يخدم بعض الوظائف في السباحة. ومع ذلك ، فإن الأعضاء الأثرية تصعب على دعاة التصميم الذكي لأنها تشير إلى التصميم الخاطئ

     ​ب)لا يتوافق التصميم الذكي مع المنهجية العلمية المتعارف عليها في المذهب المنهجي الطبيعي)

    من المهم توضيح النقطة التي مفادها أن كلا من الخلق والتصميم الذكي يخرقان القاعدة المقبولة للمنهجية العلمية ، والتي يطلق عليها معظم العلماء ضمنيًا ، وهي أن العلم هو دراسة للعالم الطبيعي بالوسائل الطبيعية ولا يمكنه النظر في الأسباب الخارقة للطبيعة ، والتدخل الإلهي ، أو الفاعلية الخارقة كمبدأ توضيحي ، يتفق معظم العلماء (حتى العديد من أتباع الدين) على أن التفسيرات العلمية تقصر نفسها على العالم الطبيعي ، والسبب هو أن السبب الخارق ليس ظاهرة إمبريالية ولا يمكن ملاحظتها وقياسها ، أو تم تسجيلها ، وإذا تم الاحتجاج بها ، فإن ذلك يخالف اتفاقية تميز العلم عن أشكال المعرفة الأخرى.

    من الواضح أن دعاة نظرية الخلق والتصميم الذكي لا يتفقون مع هذا المبدأ المنهجي ، حيث أن ستيفن ماير من معهد الاكتشاف (نوع من مركز تفكير التصميم الذكي) في ورقة تدافع عن نقد موقفه تتعارض مع مبدأ الطبيعية المنهجية. بشكل صحيح أن العلم الطبيعي يستبعد عمدًا الإشارة إلى ما هو خارق للطبيعة وهذه مشكلة بالنسبة له كما يدعي (ومعظم العلماء يختلفون معه) بعض الظواهر لا يمكن تفسيرها إلا بوسائل خارقة للطبيعة وأن اتفاقية الطبيعة المنهجية تستبعد بشكل غير عادل شرحه الخاص, عن انفجار أشكال الحياة في فترة الكامبريا التي يرى أنه لا يمكن تفسيرها إلا من خلال استدعاء التدخل الخارق (رفض معظم العلماء الآن ادعاء ماير عن انفجار كامبريا على الرغم من أن ماير يرفض ادعائه). كما عملت العلوم دائمًا على أساس استبعاد الاستكشافات الخارقة للطبيعة وهدا ما فعل بالضبط ، إنه محق في الإشارة إلى أن العديد من العلماء متدينون ، ولكن قلة منهم ، إن وجدت ، تشير إلى أسباب وتفسيرات خارقة للطبيعة في ممارساتهم العلمية ، حتى بالعودة إلى نيوتن الذي كان بالتأكيد مسيحيًا ملتزمًا بل وادعى أنه كان يقوم بعمل الله ولم يستخدم سببًا خارقًا لشرح نظريته في الجاذبية

    في حين أن هناك انتقادات أخرى لكل من نظرية الخلق وشكلها الحديث من التصميم الذكي ، سألمح إليها في القسم التالي ، كتعليق أخير ، يجب أن يقال أنه لا يمكن الإشارة إلى أي من الموقفين على أنه علمي. الأماكن التي يعتبرون فيها نظرية التطور ناقصة ولا يمكن تفسيرها من خلال عملية تطورية (إله الفجوات). في الواقع ، فإن معظم العمل الذي يقومون به هو إيجاد قيود للتطورات دون إجراء الكثير من الأبحاث الخاصة بهم ؛ هذا في الأساس هو نظرًا لأن النظرية نفسها محدودة في توليد الفرضيات للاختبار ، فهم غير قادرين ، أو لا يعتبرون ذلك ضروريًا ، لتقديم دليل على طبيعة المصمم ، ويبدو أن اقتراح المصمم الإلهي يشير أيضًا إلى عدم حدوث أخطاء و كل تصميم مثالي. هذا بعيد كل البعد عن الحقائق كما رأينا أنه يشير إلى تصميم غير كامل أو معيب للغاية ، وهذا لذكاء غير مادي خارق؟

    هناك نقطة أخرى يجب توضيحها حول التدخل الخارق وهي أن دعاة التصميم الذكي يركزون فقط على الحالات التي يرون أنه لا يمكن تفسيرها من خلال نظرية التطور ، فهل يشيرون إلى أنه يجب استدعاء المصمم الذكي فقط في الحالات التي تكون فيها النظرية التطورية ناقصة؟ الحالات التي تقدم فيها النظرية التطورية إجابات مرضية هي أن المصمم الذكي لا يزال يعمل؟ ما هو دور المصمم في هذه الحالات ؛ هل سمح المصمم الذكي فقط للطبيعة أن تأخذ مسارها في هذه الحالات ؟؟ وبالتالي فمن المنطقي أنها ستتبع ذلك الذكاء , يجب على  دعاة التصميم الدكي أيضًا شرح دور الذكاء الخارق في جميع الحالات حتى تلك التي يمكن الإجابة عليها دون التذرع بتدخل خارق للطبيعة. ليس الأمر أنه إذا كان بإمكان الذكاء الخارق أن يشرح كل مرة تتعلق بتنوع الحياة ، فنحن لسنا بحاجة العلم على الإطلاق؟ هذا هو الاستنتاج القائل بأن بعض الخلقيين يؤيدون- التطور هو أسطورة لأن الحياة كلها خُلقت بواسطة قوى خارقة للطبيعة خلال 10000 عام ، لا نحتاج إلى مزيد من التفسير من ذلك

    في القسم التالي ، سأقدم وصفًا لنوعين متطورين للغاية ، كلاهما لهما تكيفات تشريحية وحسية متطورة للغاية ، وآمل أن يؤكد هذا على الطبيعة الخام للتطور ، وافتقارها إلى ذكاء تصميمي (ومفيد)


    ​الفهد و الأمبالة

    ما يلي مستوحى من مثال في كتاب ريتشارد داوكين “أعظم عرض على الأرض” لما يشير إليه بسباق التسلح بين تطور الفهد وفريسته (الغزلان). يثير هذا التفاعل قضايا تتعلق بمفهوم التصميم الذكي من مقاصد الله في التصميم

    الفهد

    إن مراقبة جمال الفهد ورؤيته أثناء العمل يجعل من الصعب عدم الحديث عن تصميم مثالي. فهو مصمم للسرعة ويتم تعديل كل جزء من الحيوان لتحقيق هذه الغاية. إنه الأسرع بين جميع الحيوانات البرية القادرة على أن تصل من 96- الى127 كم / ساعة

                                                                                                     

    Cheetah

    الفهد هو عضو في عائلة القطط الكبيرة يعتقد أنه مختلف تمامًا عن أنواع النمر الأكثر تمردًا التي تشمل الأسد والنمر والفهد ونمر الثلج (الآن نوع مميز) وجاكوار. من القوة الغاشمة المميزة لأنواع النمر. وهي الآن نادرة في إفريقيا وتوجد في شرق وشمال إفريقيا ، وهناك أيضًا أنواع نادرة جدًا على الرغم من وجود القليل منها في البرية – بعض المئات في إيران وبعضها ربما في الهند على الرغم من أن هذا الأخير متنازع عليه
    تم تصميم الفهد تلقائيًا وفسيولوجيًا للسرعة. إنه السلوقي لعائلة القطط الكبيرة ، وله نفس الحجم والوزن مثل النمر ولكن مع مظهر ديناميكي أكثر أناقة ؛ رأس صغير وشريط مطاطي مرن للغاية يسمح له بعمل حدود من 3 إلى 7 أمتار ، لديها أيضًا دفة طويلة كبيرة مثل الذيل تعمل كنوع من الموازنة التي تساعدها على الحفاظ على التوازن وتغيير الاتجاه بسرعات عالية ، كما أن مخالبها شبه قابلة للسحب, هذه الميزة تسمح للفهد بمزيد من الجر. لديه صدر عميق لاستيعاب قلب ورئتين كبيرتين للغاية مع فتحات أنف عريضة تسمح بالتدفق السريع للهواء وزيادة كمية الأكسجين لسرعة الانفجار ، كما أنه يتمتع بمشهد استثنائي مقارنة بالقطط الأكبر حجمًا

    ومع ذلك ، كما هو شائع في التطور ، فإن المزايا مصحوبة بالقيود.يمكن أن تحافظ فقط على رشقات من السرعة لدقائق ,حيث يمكن أن ترتفع درجة حرارتها بسرعة كبيرة ويجب أن تستريح بعد هذا الوقت للتعافي. يؤدي بناؤها النحيف ورأسها الصغير إلى قيود في القوة ، يتم قتلها بسهولة من قبل الأسود إذا تم القبض عليها على حين غرة ، كما أن لديها عضة أضعف مع عدد قليل من الأسنان الأصغر من القطط الأخرى ويمكنها فقط التغلب على الفريسة الأصغر مثل الغزلان ، كما يمكن أن تتسلق .كما يمكن للفهد الهروب من حيوان مفترس محتمل


    أود في هذه المرحلة أن أثير مسألة التصميم فيما يتعلق بالفهد. إنه كما هو موضح ليس تصميمًا مثاليًا ، فهناك نقاط ضعف وعيوب داخلية في السرعة. هل من الممكن أن يقوم المصمم البشري بعمل أفضل؟ السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه أيضًا فيما يتعلق بالغرض من تصميم الفهد ,حيث أن هذا أمر حاسم لتخطيط التصميم البشري. من الناحية التطورية ، فإن الغرض من سرعة الفهد واضح للبقاء على قيد الحياة يجب أن يكون سريعًا لأن فريسته هي أساسًا الظباء والفرائس الصغيرة الأخرى التي  تطورت للبقاء على قيد الحياة أيضًا والتغلب على الفهد. الفرائس الرئيسية من الفهود هي أعضاء أصغر من غزال عائلة الظباء. أنا الآن سأتناول ميزات أكبر فرائس الفهد ورائعة بنفس القدر ، الإمبالة

    الأمبالة(​نوع من أنواع الغزال والظباء)

    الإمبالا هي عضو في عائلة الظباء وهي موجودة فقط في جنوب أفريقيا وجزء من شرق إفريقيا ، وهي على الأرجح أكبر فريسة للفهود ويمكن أن تصل إلى 92 سم (ما يقرب من 3 أقدام) عند الكتف وما يصل إلى 80 كجم (168 رطلاً) في الوزن. للذكور قرون رائعة يصل ارتفاعها إلى متر واحد ، وهناك نوعان من الإمبالا ذات الوجه الأسود أكبر بكثير مما هو موضح أعلاه. القدرات الجسدية للإمبالة مثيرة للإعجاب مثل تلك الموجودة في الفهود. الميزات في السرعة – يمكن أن تقفز حتى 3 أمتار (9.8 أقدام) ، فوق الغطاء النباتي وحتى الإمبالا الأخرى ، وتغطي مسافات تصل إلى 10 أمتار (33 قدمًا) ؛ النوع الآخر من القفزات يتضمن القفزات (تسمى التنجيم) التي يهبط فيها الحيوان على قدميه الأماميتين ، يحرك رجليه الخلفيتين في الهواء بطريقة الركل ، ويهبط على أربع ثم يرتد ، ويمكنه تغيير اتجاهه بسرعة في اتجاهات مختلفة. من بين جميع الظباء ، فهو أسرع وأعلئ قفزا

                                                       ÷                                       

    Impala

     أحد الحيوانات المفترسة الرئيسية للإمبالا هو الفهد الذي يمكنه الركض بشكل أسرع وتغيير الاتجاهات بشكل فعال تقريبًا على الرغم من أن الأسود والفهود والضباع تصطادهم إذا فاجأتهم على حين غرة. في حين أن الفهد يمكن أن يركض بسرعة ، فإن الإمبالا لديها قوة بقاء أكبر ويمكن أن تتفوق على الفهد إذا تم التنبيه في وقت قريب بما فيه الكفاية ، فإن الإمبالا لديها حاسة شم وسمع حادة للغاية والإمبالا البالغة السليمة إذا تم التنبيه إلى وجود حيوان مفترس يكاد يكون من المستحيل الإمساك بها


    يتحدث ريتشارد دوكينز عن سباق تسلح تطوري بين الفهد والأعضاء الصغيرة الأنيقة من عائلة الظباء ، وخاصة الإمبالا التي طورت سمات السرعة والحواس الأخرى التي تمكنهم في الغالب من الجري والتغلب على الحيوانات المفترسة السريعة مثل الفهود. النجاح في الجري على إمبالا لا ينجح إلا بشكل غير متكرر ومعظم الكرات تنتهي بالفشل. تشبيه “سباق التسلح” مناسب لأن كل حيوان ، الفهد والإمبالا لهما تاريخ تطوري لكل منهما يتقدم بخطوة واحدة على الآخر. التوازن هو أمر حاسم كما لو أن المرء يحقق ميزة ، فهناك اختلال في التوازن يضر بكليهما

      أعتقد أنه من المناسب أن نسأل ما الغرض الذي يخدمه سباق التسلح في التصميم الذكي؟ هل ينقل المصمم نوعًا من الرسالة إلينا – ما هي؟ هل يدعم المصمم مصلحة الإمبالا أو الفهد؟ أم أنه ببساطة يلعب لعبة؟
    يتماشى تشبيه “ سباق التسلح ” تمامًا مع التوقعات التطورية ، حيث يتم نقل جينات كلا النوعين ، ويكون ذلك بتكلفة ما للأفراد من كلا النوعين ، وقد تنجو الظباء الصحية من الافتراس لبعض الوقت على الرغم من أن أولئك الذين يكبرون في السن ، يصبحون المعوقون والشباب هم أكثر عرضة لأخذهم. وينطبق الشيء نفسه على أفراد الفهود المسنين أو المرضى أو المعاقين وخاصة الأشبال المعرضين للخطر حيث يعيش حوالي 10 في المائة فقط حتى النضج. إنه شعور بوجود خطر لكلا النوعين كما كان الحال مع البشر الأوائل ، لكن هل يهتم الخالق؟ لماذا يسمح الخالق الخيِّر لهذا البؤس بأن يسود معظم الأنواع معظم الوقت؟   

         هل هذا هو الجواب الذي يجب أن نقبله

    آيات (8، 9):- “«لأَنَّ أَفْكَارِي لَيْسَتْ أَفْكَارَكُمْ، وَلاَ طُرُقُكُمْ طُرُقِي، يَقُولُ الرَّبُّ. لأَنَّهُ كَمَا عَلَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ عَنِ الأَرْضِ، هكَذَا عَلَتْ طُرُقِي عَنْ طُرُقِكُمْ وَأَفْكَارِي عَنْ أَفْكَارِكُمْ

    (سفر أشعياء 55 9.8 )

    لذلك هناك تفسيرات لا يسمح لنا نحن البشر بمعرفتها…

    الأمر متروك لنا نحن البشر وليس الآلهة للعمل علئ الحفاظ على روعة تنوع الحياة وضمان بقاء الأنواع                                          

  • 1
    Observations on Sam Harris’s Rejection of Free
    Will: A Vygotskian Approach
    Introduction
    I apologise to readers for taking a long time since my last presentation to post something new. One
    reason is that the topic I chose for this blog has proved extremely difficult as you will no doubt see. It is
    not only complex and difficult to get on top of but of real importance to me. So, I wanted to make my
    own views clear as possible. I hope I have. The topic is about free will and its importance in our everyday
    lives. I have always taken it for granted that we have free will and my view is that it is of immense
    importance to us as individuals and the functioning of society.
    I have not up till now questioned this presumption of mine but did after reading
    neuroscientist Sam Harris’s book ‘Free Will’ 1(cover pictured)i where the entire idea that we
    have free will is debunked by him. I do not hesitate to say that I am quite a fan of Sam
    Harris and have read most of his publications and followed his presentations, blogs, and
    debates on YouTube. He is a clear and interesting writer and is one of the most effective
    debaters around. I am impressed by his ability to make matters clear and agree with all his
    views (until now). However, the stance he takes on free will (that it is an illusion) did, as I
    said, give me pause and caused me to rethink my own views on the subject. This presentation is thus
    really an expression of my own thoughts on the subject after reading Harris and its importance to me.
    Also, I want to present my own views on this issue.
    This presentation is not designed as an academic treatise, and I have tried to avoid technical terms as
    much as possible. What I have sought to do is present Sam’s position as clearly as I can and to refer
    writers who take issue with Harris’s position. This is a long presentation as I will be referring to my
    studies of LS Vygotsky, the Russian philosopher and psychologist who lived at the beginning of the
    twentieth century. I will argue that Vygotsky’s work in developmental psychology (which I will overview)
    provides a means of questioning Sam Harris’s stance on free will. My coverage of Vygotsky is not
    exhaustive, I have just sought to highlight certain aspects of Vygotsky’s position to achieve the goal of
    supporting a notion of free will. For those interested in reading Vygotsky in more detail there are new
    English translations (and recent translations into other Languages) that are quite comprehensive.2
    Sam Harris (pictured) is a neurophysiologist and psychologist. His book ‘Free Will’ has
    resulted in considerable debate in the philosophical and neuro psychological arena. My
    aim here is to reflect upon the implications of Harris’s position as it relates to our
    everyday understanding of the role of choice and decision making. I am no expert on
    the history of this issue in the philosophical literature or in cognitive science. However, I
    am aware now that in philosophy free will has an exceedingly long history and a
    prominent issue of discussion from Aristotle on. I will briefly deal with certain issues in
    the literature to provide readers with an understanding the differences in approach,
    though my goal is not to go into detail in the philosophical literature but to discuss
    implications I consider important.
    Sam Harris is internationally known as an atheist writer, commentator, and debater. He is a member of
    the ‘Four Horsemen Group” (representing the new atheism) the group includes the evolutionary biologist
    and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is an emeritus professor at New College, Oxford and
    was for a time Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. Another in the
    group is Dan Dennett an internationally known philosopher and cognitive scientist an expert on Artificial
    Intelligence. Daniel Dennett is Co-Director of the Centre for Cognitive Studies and Professor of Philosophy
    at Tufts University, Massachusetts USA. The fourth member was the Late Chritopher Hitchens. He died in
    2011, he was a British author, journalist, political commentator, and educator. He moved to live in the US
    in the 1980’s where he gained considerable numbers of admirers and developed an international
    reputation as a writer and remarkably effective speaker and debater.
    In the next section I will give a brief account of Harris’s position. I will try and make it as simple as I can
    as I am not writing this for professional philosophers or neuroscientists which I am not qualified to do.
    However, I know where he is coming from, so I can hopefully provide the basics of his position which is
    not that complex. For those readers who seek a more detailed exposition and criticism of Harris’s position
    there are publications on-line.
    1 Harris Sam (2012) Free Will, Free Press; First Edition, ISBN-10781451683400- ISBN-13: 978-1451683400
    2 http://psyanima.su/journal/2012/3/2012n3a6/2012n3a6.2.pdf
    2
    The Illusoriness of free will
    This title above reflects Sam Harris’s basic stance on free will. He begins his book on free will
    emphasising that we take for granted in our everyday life that free will is a fact and of significance in
    critical areas of social life. It is important in the administration of the law, in politics, religion, personal
    accomplishment, and we take for granted in these areas that individuals are the authors of their actions
    and function as autonomous individuals. Despite this Harris in book argues that the notion of free will is
    an illusion, we don’t have it.
    To Illustrate his position Harris relates a true event of a horrendous crime committed in 2007, by two
    known criminals, Steven Hayes, and Joshua Komisarjevsky. They invaded the home of Dr. William and
    Jennifer Petit in Cheshire, a quiet town in central Connecticut in the US. Without going into details of the
    crimes, three of the family of four were raped and tortured and finally died in a fire after Hayes and
    Komisarjevsky torched the house. Harris goes on to say that the two individuals after they were
    apprehended shows signs of surprise at their acts.
    One said he did not mean to kill anyone he was just a career criminal. The other was said to have had a
    history of being continually raped as a child, and even attempted suicide. These details, says Harris,
    would not normally excuse their behaviour, they would be held responsible for these atrocious acts
    whatever the remorse they experienced. Harris goes on to argue these men were in fact the victim of
    their circumstances. Thus, he says if he had ‘the same genes and life experience and an identical brain
    (or soul) in an identical state—I would have acted exactly as he did (comment: though if that was the
    case, he would be that person – I don’t really understand the analogy). He adds to this that if these men
    had brain tumours that explained such behaviour, then our moral intuitions may change. But he says.Understanding the neurophysiology of the brain, therefore, would seem to be as exculpatory as
    finding a tumour in it. How can we make sense of our lives, and hold people accountable for their choices, given the
    unconscious origins of our conscious brains?
    There is much to unpack here, and I have problems with that statement. What he is saying, I think, is
    that brain processes produce our conscious behaviour, and it makes no difference whether the brain is
    diseased or injured, the brain activity is identical. Thus, these men (and all of us) were not in control of
    what they did, as this is a result of brain activity over which they were not aware of and had no control
    over that process. Thus, free will is an illusion as free will according to Harris implies.
    1. That we are free to choose our actions and thoughts and we could have chosen a different action
    than the one we made.
    2. We are the sole conscious source (cause) of our own thoughts and actions.
    Harris rejects both these assumptions – we could not have done otherwise, and we are not the free agent
    of our thoughts and actions. Our thoughts and actions are not in control of our conscious minds they arise
    from prior causes such as brain activity and other experiences that effect those processes all of which we
    are unaware.
    It is important to point out here that Harris’s position was significantly influenced by studies of brain
    activity by neuroscientists. Such studies have been conducted over the last few decades. Harris in
    particular mentions experiments conducted in the 1980’s by Benjamin Libert and his associates. Libert’s
    experiments became famous as a scientific indication that the notion of free will was false. This research
    used what is referred to as an EEG (electroencephalogram) to monitor brain activity. The subjects had
    electrodes placed around their scalp that measured neuronal activity in their brain and in that part of the
    brain associated with higher cognition. The participants were asked to perform simple manual asks such
    as pressing a button. The researchers recorded mounting brain activity related to the resultant action as
    much as three hundred milliseconds
    before subjects reported the first awareness of conscious will to
    preform that action. The experiments seemed to show that the brain “registers” the decision to make
    movements before a person consciously decides to move. The experiments are central to Harris as
    evidence for his position on free will.
    There is significant literature on the Libert experiments. However, it is I interesting to note that Libert
    himself later questioned whether his findings did lead to a rejection of free will.
    3
    Harris’s Position in Relation to Compatibilism and Libertarianism
    Harris follows what is referred to in the scientific and philosophical literature as
    determinism. Simply put
    determinism means that all that exists is a universe of material matter. Thus, only matter exists and other
    so called nonmaterial phenomena such as mental states, mind, consciousness (add to this God and
    supernatural events) are the results of material phenomena interacting to cause such phenomena, so
    everything that occurs has a prior physical cause. Determinism is often related to
    reductionism.
    Reductionists like determinists claim that all non-material phenomena can be said to be explained by
    material or physical causes (which means reduced to physics). Thus, Sam can say that my thoughts are a
    production of physical brain processes which are their material cause, they do not originate in my mind,
    they seem just to pop up and I have no conscious idea of where they are coming from.
    Harris compares his position to the other two recognized positions. Firstly,
    compatibilists are those who
    argue that Free will is a reality and that it is compatible with determinism. Harris’s friend the philosopher
    Daniel Dennett argues for such a position he sees free will as a reality and this is compatible with
    determinism. I will make certain comments on Dennet’s reaction to Harris’s position later but suffice it to
    say the compatibilism has an exceedingly long history in philosophy and research shows that most
    philosophers are compatibilists.
    The last position on free will is referred to as
    Libertarianism, which claims our choices are free from the
    constraints of natural processes, they argue this is an essential condition for moral responsibility.
    Libertarians consider that determinism and compatibilism cannot support a notion of free will. Libertarians
    do not accept that fee will is caused only by brain activity but by conscious decisions that cannot be
    reduced to simply activities of the brain. Not all, but some libertarians are theologists, as the ability to
    freely choose or reject God is an essential feature of most Christian positions. This is particularly the
    case with evangelical Christians where the ability to choose or reject God (or Christ) is a central feature of
    salvation. So, for libertarians, free will is not caused by prior brain processes – though it can be
    influenced by external factors. However, Harris rejects all libertarians unfairly I think as many do not refer
    to supernatural explanations as he infers.
    However, the libertarian view is seen as difficult to support as it rejects any notion of brain activity as
    having any input into decision making. This forces libertarians to find other ways of explaining the basis
    of conscious activity. However, it is the case that some libertarians have resorted to invoking mystical, or
    even extra nonmaterial factors. They may propose the mind or soul being free of a physical cause and of
    a different substance that is not physical. These substances free our mind from the deterministic forces of
    the natural world. This was the position of the French philosopher Rene Descartes who saw the soul as a
    different substance from the body or physical world. Descartes gave us a form of dualism that has been
    an extraordinarily strong influence on western society since.
    Though dualism and the existence of a nonphysical world has been now rejected by science and
    philosophers, libertarianism has always been a minority position. I mention in passing (as this is also
    mentioned by Harris) that certain libertarians have invoked Quantum Mechanics and what is referred to
    as Quantum indeterminism. Briefly Quantum mechanics proposes an indeterminism at the subatomic and
    atomic level where we see random non determined occurrences. These libertarians propose that these
    random events may change our brain activity and allow freedom from physical causes. I am not qualified
    to go into this in any detail, but I mention it because Harris does, and I agree with his dismissal of it. If
    you wish to follow this up there is the considerable material on the web on libertarianism and free will.
    It is important to note that compatibilists and non-compatibilists all concur that there are some actions
    we perform that are totally caused. So, no position holds that all actions are freely performed, and certain
    of them are caused by physical events whether it be psychological, physical, or biological. Medication,
    psycho active drugs, unaccounted-for physical event may cause us to act in ways that are not a result of
    our choices. For Harris however, all mental processes are caused by processes that we do not have any
    conscious awareness of or where they come from. So, for him there is no free will even if we think that
    decisions, we make are made freely by us consciously.
    In the next section I want to look at two critiques of Harris’s position from legal and religious writers.
    4
    Brief Overview of the Implications of the Harris Position on law and
    Criminality and Religion
    The law and criminal Behaviour
    It is understandable that most philosophers and criminologists see Harris’s view as not just problematic
    but as a threat to human values and our system of justice. For example, the law is based on the notion of
    individual responsibility for one’s actions. Courts decide the seriousness of the crime (and the proper
    punishment – Jail time, fines, even execution). It is assumed that you deliberately chose to commit the
    crime unless circumstances reduce that responsibility.
    The usual task of the defence is to find ways of reducing your conscious criminal intentions. It can be
    argued that your actions were accidental, you were protecting yourself, you were under the influence of
    drugs, certain constraints you cannot control. Harris makes the point that the two murders, were not
    responsible for their horrendous crimes, but their DNA and childhood experience were the determining
    factors. He understands that such individuals are a threat to the social order and the solution is to remove
    them from society so they cannot commit such crimes again .
    Note: Harriss is dismissing the possibility of re-education of rehabilitation that may enable the offenders
    to return to society as a changed person. While it is true that certain behaviours are difficult if not
    impossible to change such as paedophilia and other sex crimes. I consider that there is evidence to
    indicate change is possible with evidence that rehabilitation can work in the criminal area. However,
    Harris is saying that change is not possible at the individual level as all behaviour is caused by brain
    neural processes which the conscious mind cannot access. He does not seem to allow for causal
    relationship between mental processes and neural brain processes. I will be dealing with this later in the
    paper.
    Religion
    Free will has for millennia been an issue to be dealt with by those religions that worship an entity, a deity,
    that stands above all creation. The central feature of any deity is their all-powerful (omnipotent), all-
    knowing (omniscient) nature. The deity worshipped has created all things and has foreknowledge and
    control of that creation. This statement from the Church of England’s Westminster Confession reflects
    that view.God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from
    the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and
    the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness,
    and mercy. (chapter 5)
    It is not surprising then that Free will and an all-powerful God are incompatible, and this has been a
    problem for most religions especially the Abrahamic ones – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Individual
    choice and freedom of choice is central to these religions. In most Christian denominations the ability to
    choose or reject God (or Jesus) is crucial. The most significant action for evangelical Christians and other
    Christian sects is to spread the message of salvation through persuading non-Christians to choose Christ.
    Not to make such a choice when given the message of salvation renders one guilty of deliberately
    rejecting Jesus and thus God, so punishment is extreme for these individuals.
    The claim that free will does not exist is unacceptable as without the ability to choose freely the entire
    notion of salvation collapses. However, the problem of a creator God and free will still has to be resolved
    in an acceptable manner. Christian Theologians and apologists (and Islamic and Jewish scholars) of all
    strips propose ways of making free will be compatible with God’s nature. It is not my intention to go into
    the detail of all these positions as the literature is extensive. However, there are some of quite well-
    known attempted solutions.
    1. God’s Foreknowledge
    A common solution is to indicate that God though all knowing and powerful allowed humans to exercise
    free will. In other words, God chooses to limit his own power and give humans free will. Once again, the
    Westminster Confession.
    Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden
    fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to
    order it to his own glory.(Chapter 6)
    This is the most common solution to that problem though it does seem problematic. This is the issue of
    God’s foreknowledge. While God may suspend his control and allow free will, his foreknowledge would
    indicate that he knows what will happen, what choices people will make. However, as has been pointed
    5
    out by many ; if God knew people would sin then that sin would have been committed of necessity
    because God knew it would occur. How could there be free will if the choices were of necessity?
    An answer to this was given by Saint Augustine who argued that foreknowledge does not involve
    causality. Thus, he says that God’s foreknowledge of all events does not cause them to happen. Thus, we
    may be able to see what will happen, (like one of those one-sided mirrors for example) but we are not
    responsible for it. Most scholars and apologists are not satisfied with this argument as they say if God
    knows all that will occur then it will occur and there is no freedom in that. Nevertheless, this is a common
    answer to the problem of the incompatibility of an all-powerful creator and the existence of free will.
    Solutions to God’s Foreknowledge
    In this section I will deal briefly with two of traditional approaches that seek to deal with the
    foreknowledge problem. They will be brief as there is considerable literature on these.God is Outside of Time
    Another approach is to emphasise the timelessness of God. This mean that the past, present, and future
    are in a constant presence . For God there is no past nor future God sees it all in one present whole. Thus,
    God is outside of time in a sort of eternal presence. This means you cannot say that God knew your actions
    and determined them before you were born. The principle of foreknowledge is therefore redundant and
    are actions are not determined by the past as for God there is no past. The idea then is that we are not
    determined the past and can exercise our will freely.The Dualist Answer
    Dualism claims that mind and body or psychical and mental phenomena are distinct orders of being.
    Research3 has shown that a majority of people believe in dualism and that they have free will. This is
    referred to as Folk Psychology. A dualist can say therefore that a mind is a different order of being than
    the physical processes of my brain, so my mental states are not determined by any brain function. I am
    free to do as I choose without any determining physical processes. This means that one can hold both
    physical determinism and free will. This is , of course, not acceptable to most modern scholars and
    scientists who refute the existence of non-physical states. As mentioned, science only deals with
    objective physical causation and mental events can be reduced to physical causes.
    It should be mentioned in closing this section on religion that certain theological positions accept the
    notion of God’s omniscience and that he knows who will make choices to follow him and who will not.
    These are minority Christian approaches such as the reformist movement, (inspired by theologians such
    as Saint Augustine, John Calvin, Jonathon Edwards and others) that try to deal with the fact that God’s
    attributes include all knowing and, all powerful, that seem to indicate that there can’t be free will as God
    controls what is to occur. Thus, the notion of predestination says that God choses who will be is (saved)
    and who will not (the reprobate). They still maintain that humans make choices and are responsible for
    them, but they also argue that God knows what will occur but suspends his ability to control their choices.
    In the section to follow I will seek to draw together the information covered above to formulate my own
    position on free will. To do this will require me to speak of my own experience as a university lecturer and
    take an approach based on the work of a not so well-known Russian psychologist/philosophy Lev
    Semovich Vygotsky (Vygotsky is often now spelt Vygotskii, though I will continue to use the traditional
    spelling).
    3 Lim, D., Nichols, R. & Wagoner, (2024) J. Experimental Philosophy of Free Will and the Comprehension of
    Determinism.
    Rev.Phil.Psych. (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13164-024-00726-
    6
    My Approach to the Problem of Free WillIntroductory Comments
    I am commencing this section with reflections on my experience as a university teacher. I believe that the
    process of teaching at any level from primary to senior students, though especially at levels of higher
    education, requires an understanding of free will. I always regarded the educational process as not just a
    process of acquiring knowledge (and skills) but one of utilising that knowledge and skills to see things
    differently and thus amend one’s understanding of oneself, to challenge our preconceived ideas . My view
    is that the acquisition of new knowledge and skills should lead to personal change as it provides a new
    understanding of ourselves the world around us. These changes to ourselves do not just come upon us
    unexpectedly as it were, we make them, we change ourselves, we can change ourselves by an act of will.
    I do not believe that we need to be just the outcome of the circumstances in which we were born. It is
    true we cannot control where we were born, the culture the religion we grew up in, but that need not be
    fully determinative of who we are. My point is that we have the ability, the freedom to choose to become
    the person we want to be.
    I need to add at this point that the changes to us involves understanding oneself. We are born with skills
    and abilities that need to be enhanced or recognised. One may have a gift for music, art, literature,
    mathematics, and other gifts such as athletic abilities and many other abilities we inherit. Most of these
    attributes are abilities we want to enhance though we also must deal with certain negative issues of birth
    we can’t change. These include various disabilities that are genetically inherited or problems in utero, and
    they impact on one’s entire life. This involves a recognition of aspects of ourselves we really cannot
    change by an act of will. However, we can nevertheless, as many individuals with disability do, develop
    our own identity irrespective of any physical or mental disabilities.
    There are other aspects of ourselves we can’t change. For example, most members of the LBTQI
    community consider they were born that way. Unfortunately, in the past such orientations had to be
    hidden as they were unacceptable. While there remains discrimination, we have come some way in
    accepting such differences. Thus, in seeking to change and take control of oneself requires us to look at
    those aspects of ourselves that we cannot change. Though we can by an act of will enhance , accept, and
    control these hard-wired inheritances.
    I am aware that a determinist answer to my thoughts above may be that the changes I make to myself
    are already determined. I have difficulty accepting this as I will argue that changing oneself is a learned
    ability and that change is a process not something that just happens to you. This is the view of Dan
    Dennett and the basis of his critique of Harris.
    Dennett’s Critique of Harris
    Denett comments on this statement of Harris’Where is the freedom in being perfectly satisfied with your thoughts, intentions, and subsequent actions when they
    are the product of prior events that you had absolutely no hand in creating?
    Dennett’s answerNot only has he not shown that you had absolutely no hand in creating those prior events, but it is false, as just
    noted. Once you stop thinking of free will as a magical metaphysical endowment and start thinking of it as an
    explicable achievement that individual human beings normally accomplish (very much aided by the societies in which
    they live), much as they learn to speak and read and write, this rhetorical question falls flat. Infants do not have free
    will; normal adults do. Yes, those of us who have free will are lucky to have free will (we are
    lucky to be human beings, we are lucky to be alive), but our free will is not just a given; it is something we are
    obliged to protect and nurture, with help from our families and friends and the societies in which we live. 4
    Dennet position expressed above is one I endorse; that free will is an achievement to be accomplished
    by human beings. We are not born with it we acquire it. Dennett and other scholars do not really indicate
    how the acquisition of free will is accomplished and do not indicate the nature of the process from child
    to adult? This is the task I have set for the next section. I will argue that we can acquire an
    understanding of the process of developing our freedom by reference to certain developmental
    psychology positions. I choose in the section to follow to present Lev Vygotsky’s developmental approach
    as a means of understanding how freedom evolves. I will also briefly relate the position on cognitive
    4 Reflections on Sam Harris’ “Free Will” p.223
    Daniel C. Dennett (2017) RIVISTA INTERNAZIONALE DI FILOSOFIA E PSICOLOGIA
    Vol. 8 n. 3, pp. 214-230
    https://www.rifp.it/ojs/index.php/rifp/article/download/rifp.2017.0018/776
    7
    development by reference to one of the most prominent developmental psychologists of the twentieth
    century, Jean Piaget. I think it is important for an understanding of developmental processes to highlight
    some significant differences between in these two scholars.
    Developmental Psychology as a Means of Understanding the Achievement of
    Independent Thinking that Enables Free Will
    Developmental psychology has a long history in psychology. It was known as genetic psychology (from
    the term ontogenesis meaning the process of the development of the individual) and recently referred to
    as Life Span Developmental Psychology. Initially, developmental psychology focused on the development
    of cognitive and physical acquisition from infants to adults, so the focus was on child development, and it
    was important in educational practice. Life span developmental psychology focuses on the whole of life
    and the changes that occur both cognitively and physically over the whole of life.5 What we can say
    about developmental psychology in general is that it seeks to understand how humans develop the
    cognitive and physical skills through an interaction between biology and culture – abilities that enable
    humans to participate in social life. In this section I will focus on those studies that look at how a human
    infant develops cognitive and physical skills that enable social participation. I will not cover the later
    developments in these abilities, that is the object of life span developmental psychology.
    Piaget and Vygotsky are major figures in the history of developmental psychology. Both were born in1896
    Vygotsky unfortunately died suddenly of tuberculosis at early age of thirty-eight. Piaget lived to 84 years.
    Both knew and respected each of the others work despite significant differences. My goal here is to focus
    on Vygotsky whose work I have studied. Readers may question why I am mentioning Piaget. I consider it
    is important as I mentioned above, to provide an overview of Piaget’s position as his developmental
    approach has dominated educational theory and child development in the late twentieth century. Also, he
    did have an influence on Vygotsky’s work and there are some similarities. There is hardly any higher
    degree thesis in education and educational psychology that does not refer to Piaget’s work.
    Jean Piaget
    Jean William Fritz Piaget 1896-1980 6
    In this section I will not be relating Piaget’s theory in detail my object is to compare certain aspects of it
    with Vygotsky’s approach. There was a mutual interchange between Piaget and Vygotsky, they both were
    familiar with each other’s work so an understanding of Piaget’s position will assist in understanding
    Vygotsky’s approach.
    Piaget was interested in how infants with certain hard wired primitive cognitive and physical capacities
    form the basis of adaptation to the external environment. Piaget, through quite detailed empirical
    observations of children’s behaviour over four decades from infancy to adulthood, proposed that children
    journey through four stages of developmental change. These were referred to as, the sensorimotor,
    preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. In this progress all children’s cognitive
    abilities change qualitatively irrespective of the cultural and physical environment they were born into.
    To give an example of Piaget’s position I will refer to his first and second stages of development. The
    sensorimotor stage is a stage where initially the child has no language and their actions and thought are
    based on basic sensory experience only – seeing , feeling, thought is not abstract as language acquisition
    is required for that. Sometimes it was referred to as egotistic or sometimes autistic thought, the use of
    the term autistic was not that of the recent modern use of the term autism but to the fact that the child
    5 see
    Paul B. Baltes, Hayne W. Reese, John R. Nesseiroade (1988) Introduction to Research Methods LIFE SPAN
    DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 365 Broadway
    Hillsdale, New Jersey 0764 file:///C:/Users/rrot2129/Downloads/71.pdf
    6 I am very fond of this photo of Piaget; he was a man of many skills and interests and perhaps the first
    scholar who saw a child’s intellectual life as unique. He was a happy man as this photo shows.
    8
    was acting instinctively and not yet socially. In proposing this mode of activity, Piaget was influenced by
    Sigmund Freud’s idea of the unconscious ‘Id” drives that followed what was referred to as the pleasure
    principle – seeking pleasurable experiences and avoiding painful ones. Piaget following Freud saw
    development or socialisation as a process of adapting the pleasure principle to external reality (called the
    Reality Principle). The idea that humans and all animals were driven by pleasure pain goes back to
    antiquity to the Greek philosophers. For Piaget development in children requires an adaptation to reality
    and some deferment of pleasure as necessary for survival. Adaptation for Piaget involved two processes
    of adaptation to the physical and psychological environment. These he named the processes of
    Assimilation and Accommodation. Assimilation is where elements of the environment are integrated into
    the organism’s preexisting organizational mental structures (in young children it is the sensorimotor
    stage). Accommodation is the process whereby the child’s existing schemes are modified in response to
    the environment. Through these two processes the child through its own actions moves from one stage
    to another.
    To briefly illustrate development in the sensorimotor stage which extends from to about 2 years old
    Piaget proposed that at this stage infants and young children lack what is referred to as object
    permanence. Object permanence means that we can recognise that objects in our environment exist
    whether we see or experience them through the senses or not. An infant cannot do this and if they
    cannot see objects through the senses then they do not exist. Later at the age of about 18 months
    infants exhibit what Piaget called deferred Imitation the ability to bring into their thinking a model of
    an object they experienced in the past. They begin to understand that that objects remain permanent
    whether even when they cannot be empirically experienced ( i.e. by sight, touch smell, hearing).
    The second stage of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory is the preoperational stage it begins around
    2 years and progresses through to about 7 years of age. Children begin to use words as symbols to
    understand the external physical world. Children can also draw images though they cannot think
    conceptually. Also, at this stage children do not have the ability to distinguish between living and non-
    living phenomena. This is a form of Animism where everything in their world is alive. Another important
    aspect of the second stage is the Egocentrism of the child. This is form of what we refer to in
    philosophy as solipsism meaning I only exist. At this stage, a child cannot distinguish between the view
    of themselves and others. They do not perceive that other individuals see the world with a distinct
    perspective different to theirs.
    In the latter two stages children begin to think conceptually. Without going into the detail here, the final
    cognitive stage among children is the formal operational stage. Piaget proposed that when children reach
    about 11 or 12 years of age their ability to think and use abstract reason develop significantly.
    It is obvious that Piaget’s idea of qualitative development change in stages should be incredibly
    significant for teaching and learning in educational practice. It offers teachers some concrete structures
    about a child’s level of ability and capacity to change. Teachers must be aware of what stage a child is at
    before introducing new or advanced information as added information will not be integrated by the child
    unless their cognitive and physical abilities have matured enough.
    While Piaget’s work has had an immense influence on educational practice recent research has shown
    that infants at birth have capacities that are innate or are acquired earlier than suggested in Piaget’s
    work. Also, Piaget’s work focused on individual accomplishments and did not consider in any detail the
    interaction between culture and physical development.
    Readers may ask at this point what these ideas have to do with free will. To answer this my goal is to
    argue the point that free will is not a given in humans but an accomplishment or a skill. I consider that
    developmental theory may provide a way of understanding how this might be achieved. Also,
    developmental theory might show how human mental processes are impacted by cultural and social
    integration. I have included Piaget as he is the best-known developmental psychologist and has had more
    impact on areas of education than any other scholar. Piaget’s work is also relevant to understanding
    Vygotsky’s which I regard as a basis for a critique of Harris and biological determinism.
    I aim to show in the following section how Vygotsky’s proposals on development in children challenge
    some of the assumptions underlying Piaget’s (and Freud) positions and in fact show how cultural factors
    impact on biological or mental processes. As mentioned, Sam Harris’s determinist position does not allow
    for this two-way interaction. Harris does not refer at all to how an individual’s cognitive and cultural
    development can lead to an ability to make choices characteristic of free will.
    9
    L S Vygotsky 1896-1934
    .
    Lev Simkhovich Vygotsky Rare photo Vygotsky teaching
    Vygotsky with his wife Rosa Noevna Smekova
    And two Daughters Gita Vygodskaya and Asha Vygodskaya
    Gita Vygodskaya in her eighty’s, psychologist and
    organiser and publisher of her father’s manuscripts
    (Wikipedia)
    BiographyVygotsky was born on November 5, 1896, in the town of Orsha in the Russian Empire (now Belarus) Vygotsky was
    raised in the city of Gomel,[] where he was homeschooled until 1911 and then obtained a formal degree with
    distinction in a private Jewish gymnasium, which allowed him entrance to a university. In 1913, Vygotsky was
    admitted to the Moscow University by mere ballot through a “Jewish Lottery”: at the time a three percent Jewish
    student quota was administered for entry in Moscow and Saint Petersburg universities. He had an interest in the
    humanities and social sciences, but at the insistence of his parents he applied to the medical school at Moscow
    University. During the first semester of study, he transferred to the law school. In parallel, he attended lectures at
    Shanyavsky Moscow City People’s University. Vygotsky’s early interests were in the arts and, primarily, in the topics
    of the history of the Jewish people, the tradition, culture and Jewish identity.
    In January 1924, Vygotsky took part in the Second All-Russian Psychoneurological Congress in Petrograd (soon
    thereafter renamed Leningrad). After the Congress, Vygotsky met with Alexander Luria and with his help received an
    invitation to become a research fellow at the Psychological Institute in Moscow which was under the direction of
    10
    Konstantin Kornilov. Vygotsky moved to Moscow with his new wife, Roza Smekhova, whom he would have two
    children with. He began his career at the Psychological Institute as a “staff scientist, second class”. He also became a
    secondary teacher, covering a period marked by his interest in the processes of learning and the role of language in
    learning7
    Vygotsky’s developmental approach differed significantly to that of Piaget (and Freud) through the three
    of them accepted an understanding of human cognitive and physical achievements could only be gained
    by an analysis of the process of their development. Piaget and Freud analysed this process of
    development from the perspective of the individual and their adjustment to, adaptation of their external
    environment. They look at the way innate biological processes transform themselves because of
    interaction with the external environment. As we shall see Vygotsky emphasised the role of social
    interactions as a transformative process. For Vygotsky social interactive processes were central in
    cognitive and physical development.
    Vygotsky’s work was not only focused on child development but of the acquisition by individuals of what
    he referred to as, “The Higher Mental Processes” These were associated with the emergence of a sense
    of self, the creative ability that humans exhibit in art, architecture, science, mathematics and thinking
    itself. He said that such abilities came from the emergence of deliberative and autonomous action, which
    I understand as related to free will the ability be creative. He recognised the problem of explaining how
    such higher mental processes could emerge from simple basic natural processes.
    For Vygotsky explaining this process involved interaction between the social and the natural dimensions.
    For Vygotsky this interaction was a problem for the psychology of his time. The psychology of the time
    followed two distinct and irreconcilable lines, both unsatisfactory for Vygotsky. One branch;
    Psychoanalysis, Gestalt , Phenomenology, emphasising mental functions without reference to the physical
    and the other, Behaviouralism, Reflexology, Experimental psychology all emphasising physical processes
    with little attention to mental and social processes even to deliberately ignore such phenomenon as the
    mental.
    Vygotsky sought to overcome this dualism in psychology (which I argue still exists) not by reference to
    Marx or Lenin both of whose work he knew intimately, he turned to the Dutch Philosopher Benedict De
    Spinoza whose monistic naturalism and critique of dualist approaches (such as that of Descartes)
    suggested some ideas towards a solution this problem. As an epigraph to his book “The Psychology of
    Art,” Vygotsky refers to Spinoza’s’ reply to the objection that the study of body and nature alone will not
    reveal the creative powers of the human being.“No one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body…but it will be argued, it is impossible solely from
    the laws nature considered as extended substance, we should be able to deduce the causes of buildings, pictures and
    things of that kind which are produced only by human art; nor would the human body, unless it were determined and
    lead by the mind, be capable of building a single temple. (Spinoza replies), ‘However I have just pointed out that the
    objects cannot fix the limits of the bodies power or say what can be concluded from a consideration of its sole
    nature’. ” 8
    Spinoza’s writing is very dense and difficult, but the point here is (I think) we are not fully aware of the
    limits of nature of the human brain and its capacity to produce such creative mental abilities that he
    referred to as the higher mental processes. It would seem to me that Spinoza and Vygotsky are
    prefiguring recent studies on brain plasticity where studies show the interaction of the natural brain
    processes and social experience can lead to changes in the functioning of the brain and consciousness.
    This is a contemporary line of study itself that I think will prove fruitful in understanding the interrelation
    of brain function and socially based culture. In Vygotsky there is some suggestion of brain plasticity in
    that he follows Spinoza in suggesting that we do not know the limits of the capacity of the brain to
    change its structure. In the following I will discuss Vygotsky’s notion of development of physical and
    mental abilities. Readers may see in this account how there is in Vygotsky certain hints of brain plasticity.
    Vygotsky’s Developmental Approach
    Vygotsky, as did Piaget, considered that the basic method for studying the emergence of cognitive and
    physical abilities was to study it in the process of change from more simple forms to the complex
    behaviour of socialised human beings. One of Vygotsky’s best known and one of his most important
    works for understanding human development and the unique aspects of human behaviour (basically what
    he referred to as the ‘Higher Mental Processes) was entitled in English, ‘ Thought and Language’)9. It was
    7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky8 Spinoza Benedict De, Ethics Part 111, Postulate 2, Scholon
    from Jonathon Bennett (1984) A Study of Spinoza’s Ethics, Cambridge Press
    9 A number of linguists consider Thought and Language would be more accurately translated into English as
    ‘Thinking and Speaking’.
    11
    first published in Russian by Vygotsky in 1934 as a unified work on the development of consciousness10.
    In 1962 it was published in English, though that version was seriously flawed as it was heavily abridged
    by editors and translators and excluded certain discussions not considered relevant to the main theme. In
    a time of the Cold War many of these omissions were seen as having communist or Marxist sources so
    they were excluded. Thus the 1962 version was thus greatly limited. More comprehensive translations
    into English have however been made in the late 1980’s . In 1987 Many of Vygotsky’s works were
    published in “The Collected Works of L S Vygotsky’, It appeared in two volumes, Thinking and Speech in
    Vol. 1:11
    Vygotsky’s approach focused on two features of human achievement, the use of speech (Language) to
    communicate (Speech is a crucial aspect of human society) and the capacity to think conceptually. He
    argued that these comprise a revolutionary capacity to make meaning to create new ways of life by new
    ways of thinking. These capacities are not derived by any biologically inherited structures, or instincts.
    Nor are they be seen as imposed by some external cause on the individual organism, they are acquired
    through a process of internalisation of social skills. For Vygotsky individuals were able to become, through
    their internalisation of social activity, self-determining entities. I view Vygotsky’s notion of ‘self-mastery’
    as a capacity of humans to be creative, to choose one’s destiny by an act of (free) will. This view radically
    distinguishes Vygotsky from the biological determinists such as Sam Harris all of whom reject the notion
    that humans can choose their destiny instead, he argues it is caused by biological brain process, the
    source of which the individual has no knowledge. As Harris says, ‘…we are a puppet (The puppet image is
    the cover of his Book) [who] is free as long as he loves his strings”, meaning (I think) we can feel free
    only if we are happy with the thoughts that control us .
    Vygotsky, like Piaget, describes the process through which a child develops their mental (cognitive) and
    physical skills that enable adaptation to the world around them. The world includes the physical external
    world and the social world. Both see adaptation to these worlds as a staged process where elementary
    mental functions (of the child) are transformed by interaction with the physical and cognitive realities. As
    we have seen Piaget’s approach focuses mainly on a child’s individual physical and cognitive adaptation
    (by the processes of assimilation and accommodation) to the world around them. This adaptation process
    brings changes to the child’s way of relating to the world. So, the child is active in their own
    developmental change.
    Vygotsky like Piaget is known as a developmental constructivist where children are active in changing
    themselves. However, Vygotsky differs significantly to Piaget in how the child progresses to more complex
    levels of interaction with the internalisation of speech that serves as a tool that changes the nature of
    consciousness. Vygotsky argues that children are born with a pre intellectual capacity to communicate
    with others such as the adults that surround them. Such communicative action comprises actions such
    verbal babbling, smiling and crying. These are initial means of communication with adults. This differs
    from Piaget who sees instinctual actions, such as pleasure over reality as having to be overcome or
    controlled, there is little reference in Piaget’s work to any notion of inbuilt abilities to communicate.
    Vygotsky’s principles of development are presented in his major work ‘Thinking and Speech” to which I
    will now turn.
    Vygotsky’s Approach to Child Development
    Vygotsky does not look at development as a process of becoming socialised from a pre-social early
    period, as do both Piaget and Freud. He argues that young infants even from birth are social beings and
    have innate capacities for communication. Even as infants their behaviour is communicative. The verbal
    babbling of a baby and young infant of which most of us are familiar is not a senseless verbalisation that
    simply accompanies what the baby or child is doing, as Freud and Piaget maintain. For Vygotsky it is in
    fact a means ((a tool) for directing and accompanying their behaviour, as we will see below, a tool
    directing their activity.
    Thiis leads me to make the general point that Vygotsky proposes that development from infancy to the
    complex behaviour and thinking of adults is a study of the development of mental processes. For
    Vygotsky mature human consciousness refers to the sophisticated mental processes that engender the
    achievements of civilisation. Such achievement is not just a biological given but evolves because of its
    socialisation which for Vygotsky argues is through language acquisition. Mature human consciousness is a
    10 It was in fact a collection of quite separate essays one of them (included in L&T as chapter 4) was in fact
    written in1929. It was however Vygotsky himself who brought all these separate essays together as a unified
    work.
    11
    Reiber R W and Carton A S (Eds.) (1987), The Collected Works of L S Vygotsky, Plenum Press NY.
    12
    unique phenomenon12 as it based on the internalisation of language which is a purely social phenomenon
    that brings about a physical change in the functioning of biological systems. It could be argued from this,
    the mind (consciousness) of human beings is an interrelation between the biological and the social.
    Vygotsky did not elaborate his theory of how changes in the use of the psychological tool, or speech (that
    engenders new mental abilities) brings about changes in physical activity. However, he did indicate that
    the physical and culture have evolved in an interrelated process.The growth of the normal child into civilization usually involves a fusion with the processes of organic maturation.
    Both planes of development—the natural and the cultural—coincide and mingle with one another. The two lines of
    change interpenetrate one an- other and essentially form a single line of sociobiological formation of the child’s
    personality. (Vygotsky, 1960, p. 47
    Vygotsky’s position is that human activities such as thinking do not originate in the brain as biological
    determinists maintain but is a function of the interrelation between the social (language) and the
    biological substrate. Thinking is not just a biological action in the brain that appears in consciousness
    spontaneously, but also a social acquisition without which human thinking is not possible. In the following
    section I want to , briefly, indicate the process by which a child moves through a series of stages which
    enable the capacity to think conceptually and how language itself serves as a tool for that process.
    The process of development of a child’s abilities passes through periods of qualitative change. These
    critical periods can be stressful, but they are the result of the maturing of the physical abilities being
    impacted by changes in the child’s social environment. When a child, starts school, for example, they
    encounter new forms of social relations, new individuals in their lives and new expectations. Interaction
    with peers and adult teachers makes new demands on the child’s behaviour and thinking. Vygotsky saw
    these changes as new ways of experiencing the world requiring more elaborate physical and mental
    abilities.
    Theis initial stage is referred to as an egocentric period. The child can communicate with others with
    words (speech), though these not the complex communication skills of adult conceptual thought but are
    effective forms of communication between children. Adult teachers are aware of this and adjust their
    speech to communicate with the children they teach.
    At the early stages of development, a child learns to solve problems that confront them with the
    assistance of others, mainly more mature individuals. Vygotsky referred to this process of acquiring new
    skills as occurring within a relationship with other more competent individuals as, ‘The Zone of Proximal
    Development’ or the ‘ZPD’. The ZPD has now become a well-known educational practice. In this
    relationship the child has not fully acquired a certain skill so the adult in the situation (the ZPD)
    supplements the child’s actions to enable them to complete the action in question. In time the child
    becomes able to complete the action without that assistance, the skill becomes internalised as an
    individual competency. The notion of learning in the ZPG in quite common in early social life. Mothers and
    significant others in the child’s early life will interpret what a child is seeking to achieve and provide them
    with assistance to enable them to complete that action. The child will eventually be able to complete that
    action without assistance from the competent others; in others words they have internalised that action
    that becomes a personal competency.
    What is occurring in these transformations of mental (and physical) processes is that the child begins to
    use the speech (Vygotsky refers to it also a ‘the sign’) as an aid. Vygotsky argues that the sign or speech
    serves as a tool for the transformation of mental functioning. The tool analogy was borrowed by Vygotsky
    from Marx’s notion of the material tool in production. According to Marx the tool is an instrument that
    mediates the production process by enabling natural resources to be transformed into human artifacts.
    Thus, Vygotsky refers to speech or the sign as enabling the transformation of a child’s mental functioning,
    it is referred to as internalisation. Speech reflects the culture in which the child is immersed and enables
    the child to communicate with others. This is a transformative action as at first the child communicates
    socially with others and then that becomes internalised as a new formation in the child’s mental processes
    (their mind). In this Vygotsky has iireversed a trend in western society which traditionally regards
    individual development preceding social interaction. For Vygotsky socialisation by means of speaking
    (using language) precedes and results in individual mental change. The internalisation of social speech
    becomes Vygotsky says, ‘inner speech’. I consider this notion of inner speech an alternative to Harris’s
    view that ideas just pop up into consciousness without us having any idea where they originate.
    12
    There are some current debates about the uniqueness of human consciousness in that some scholars of animal
    behaviour argue that related species (such as chimpanzees and bonobos) have quite sophisticated forms of
    consciousness and communication. It is however not established that their vocalisations comprise a language.
    13
    It has been pointed out by certain Vygotsky scholars that mental functioning extends beyond the
    individual and individual mind and is also a social phenomenon where even individual thought depends on
    the internalisation of social speech as inner speech. As Vygotsky says the mind is a sociobiological
    formation. I would submit that this differs substantially from the stance of biological determinists such as
    Sam Harris. Biological determinists distinguish between brain processes and mental processes. They
    argue that thinking originates as a process of brain functioning and only later appears in consciousness.
    The process of how thinking processes are acquired through enculturation is virtually ignored. I think
    from Vygotsky it can be argued that thinking is only possible through the acquisition of language which is
    a social phenomenon. However, this is not to say that brain processing is not involved, it is that which
    enables language to be internalised. Harris and biological determinists do not even mention the impact of
    language on thinking, but ideas seem to just pop up from unconscious brain processes.Decisions, intentions, efforts, goals, will- power, etc., are causal states of the brain, leading to specific behaviours,
    and behaviours lead to outcomes in the WORLD. Human choice, therefore, is as important as fanciers of free will
    believe. But the next choice you make will come out of the darkness of prior causes that you, the conscious witness
    13
    of your experience, did not bring into being.
    AndChoices, efforts, intentions, and reasoning influence our behaviour, but they are themselves part of a chain of causes
    that precede conscious awareness and over which we exert no ultimate control. My choices matter and there are
    paths toward making wiser ones, but I cannot choose what I choose. And if it ever appears that I do for instance,
    after going back and forth between two options—I do not choose to choose what I choose. There is a regress here
    that always ends in darkness. I must take a first step, or a last one, for reasons that are bound to remain
    inscrutable.14
    The position Harris takes here contradicts the Vygotskian perspective I have sought to express. To say
    that thinking, decisions, goals are simply caused only by brain states ignores completely the role of
    language in thinking as I have sought to show above. I consider that Vygotsky’s notion of inner speech
    may serve as an alternative to this idea of Harris’s that ideas, reasoning, intentions simply originate from
    brain processes that just pop up into conscious without us have any idea of where they came from.
    Inner speech
    Inner speech is Vygotsky’s term for the internalisation of social speech, it becomes changed in this
    process as an individual’s private thought and thinking. For Vygotsky, thinking is spoken language
    internalised into the structure of the individual’s consciousness. My interpretation of what Vygotsky means
    by the process of internalisation of speech is that it is that it transforms wired in mental processes we
    may have in common with other primates to a qualitatively different level. It becomes internal thought
    which itself is qualitatively different to social speech from which it derives and becomes the individual’s
    private mode of thinking. Inner speech has a different structure to social speech. Innate and natural
    forms of behaviour are reconstructed and integrated with conceptual thinking that enables generalisation,
    abstraction, logical memory, attention and memory. Thus, adult thought and consciousness are not
    distinct from the activity of the brain as determinists argue, brain processes and consciousness are an
    integrated single entity. Vygotsky also speaks of how creativity emerges from this integrated system and
    refers to the impact of emotions though I will not discuss this further it complex and needs to be the
    subject of another paper.
    Conclusion
    I have sought to show by referring to the process of the development is that brain process and
    consciousness or mental processes are not to be seen dualistically (as brain processes and consciousness,
    seen as two different entities) as determinist claim. They are integrated into a single system, a social
    biological system. This level of the higher mental processes allows for thinking conceptually , to plan
    what we will do, to be creative , fantasise and image entities that cannot be observed. Our ideas, our
    13 Harris Sam op.cit. p41
    14 Ibid. p39
    14
    thoughts, our future plans, do not simply pop up out of the blue (from the brain) but are an act of
    thinking which is not an unconscious brain activity alone. These free actions we can are not of a
    supernatural or religious nature they are gained from a developmental process of integration of natural
    biological processes with the internalisation of social structures.
    The notion that ideas just appear in consciousness are linguistic phenomena. Conceptual language has a
    function of abstraction and generalisation, and concepts or words can have multiple meanings. I mention
    in passing the role of metaphor in language. I have not dealt with this above in any detail as the study of
    metaphor use in language it a large topic and would require another presentation. But metaphor is
    important in language in general and is used frequently in everyday language to convey meaning.
    Basically, metaphor brings two unrelated phenomena to together and they can render an abstract idea
    clearer by relating it with concrete experiences. I must mention here what Donald Trump aimed to
    achieve as President – his answer, ‘to drain the swamp’. It was quite clear to everyone what he meant
    but is also conveyed multiple meanings. People use metaphors to reason about certain difficult abstract
    issues. Iin short, my point here is that metaphor can bring to consciousness ideas not thought of before
    the ideas they bring may appear (to use another metaphor) to come out of the blue. This may be some
    answer to Harris’s assertion that ideas come into consciousness, and we have no idea of their origins.
    Their origins, I suggest, are metaphorical not unconscious brain processes.
    i Harris Sam (2012) Free Will, Free Press; First Edition, ISBN-10781451683400- ISBN-13: 978-1451683400
    e

  • Conspiracy Theory (Arabic)

    Translated by Hafid Ouayahou

    نظرية المؤامرة والشك 
    نظريات المؤامرة هي ظاهرة لطالما اهتممت بها ، فهي تبدو وكأنها تخرق كل قواعد العقل والأفكار العقلانية ، ومن يؤمن بها يتمسك بها بقوة ، هناك القليل يمكن أن يقوله لإقناعهم بعدم عقلانيتهم.
    المشكلة هي أنها يمكن أن تكون مدمرة وخطيرة على سبيل المثال هنا في أستراليا ، نحن ، مثل العديد من البلدان الأخرى في جميع أنحاء العالم ، نحاول التعامل مع فيروس كوفيد 19.
    تروج الحكومة للتطعيم كاستراتيجية واضحة لهزيمة انتشار الفيروس ، لكن هناك عددًا كبيرًا من الأفراد والجماعات الذين يعتقدون أن التطعيم ما هو الا مؤامرة ، وقد تم تقديم العديد من الادعاءات السخيفة المختلفة ، مثل محاولة متعمدة من قبل البعض.
     مجموعة سرية لقتل الملقحين على المدى الطويل. تم دمج الآثار الجانبية بشكل متفاوت في اللقاح لإلحاق الضرر بالجسم وهكذا دواليك.

    سأناقش في هذا العرض طبيعة نظرية المؤامرة ، التي تجعل مثل هذه النظريات جذابة للأفراد والجماعات وماذا لو كان يمكن فعل أي شيء لمواجهة تأثيرها المدمر في المجتمع.
    يبدو على الأرجح بمساعدة الإنترنت أن نظريات المؤامرة قد ازدادت ، ومنها هجوم مركز التجارة العالمي ، وفيروس كورونا ، ولقاح فيروس كورونا ، وكذلك الاحتباس الحراري ، وموت الأميرة ديانا ، واغتيال الرئيس كينيدي ، و الانتخابات الرئاسية  لعام 2020.وأكثر وأكثر.
    اللاعقلانية والنية الخبيثة هي السمات الوسيطة لنظريات المؤامرة في معظم الثقافات ، فهم يفسرون العديد من الأحداث على أنها أفعال أعداء غابرين ومجهولين ، هؤلاء الجناة المجهولون أقوياء وخبثون ومدمرون لمعارضتهم.
    درس كل من علماء النفس وعلماء الاجتماع طبيعة وتأثير نظريات المؤامرة ، وهناك عدة أنواع من نظريات المؤامرة بعضها أكثر تدميرًا من البعض الآخر ، وسأناقش بإيجاز اثنتين من نظريات المؤامرة الرئيسية في الخمسين إلى الستين عامًا الماضية المتعلقة برؤساء الولايات المتحدة. لن اغطي جميع نظريات المؤامرة الرئيسية بسبب قيود المساحة ، هنا سأقوم بإلقاء نظرة موجزة على اغتيال كينيدي ثم المؤامرات الأخيرة حول الانتخابات الرئاسية الأمريكية لعام 2020.اغتيال كينيدي
    وفقًا لتقرير الحكومة الأمريكية الرسمي وارين حول اغتيال كينيدي ، كان لي هارفي أوزوالد يتصرف بمفرده دون دعم من شخص آخر أو أي منظمة أو هيئة حكومية. كانت اللجنة واسعة ، تتكون من صفحات أدلة ومقابلات مع خبراء وشهود وعسكريين
     وشهود عيان وغيرهم ، ولم يقدم أوزوالد أي دليل على إطلاق النار عليه وقتله على يد جاك روبي بعد يومين من الاغتيال. والأدلة التي قدمها هذا كانت قوية للغاية على الرغم من هذا كله.
    ومع ذلك ، يبدو أن التصرف بمفرده أمر بسيط للغاية. شرح لكثير من الناس والجماعات. وقد ولّد الكثير من الشك والتفسيرات الشريرة ، كثير منها غريب جدًا. المافيا والقادة العسكريون الأمريكيون. وحتى الرئيس الجديد ليندون جونسون قيل إنه
     متورط. أدى الاستجواب المستمر للتقرير إلى تحقيق آخر في الكونجرس في عام 1979 وخرج بنفس النتيجة التي توصل إليها تقرير وارن.لكن المؤامرات استمرت واتهمت بعض السيناريوهات الأكثر غرابة الحكومة الإسرائيلية. الحكومة السوفيتية ، الاحتياطي الفيدرالي الأمريكي ، سائق الليموزين ، تعديلات في جراح جسد كينيدي والعديد من الآخرين. تم نشر ما يقرب من 2000 كتاب عن مؤامرة الاغتيال ، وأظهرت العديد من استطلاعات الرأي حتى مؤخرًا أن غالبية السكان الأمريكيين يعتقدون أن كينيدي قُتل بنوع من المؤامرة. أظهر استطلاع أجرته شبكة سي بي إس نيوز في عام 2009 أن 76 في المائة ممن شملهم الاستطلاع يعتقدون أن الرئيس قد قُتل نتيجة مؤامرة  .أرأيت.

    وهكذا يبقى اغتيال كينيدي مؤامرة لمعظم المواطنين الأمريكيين. تم إنتاج أكثر من 20 فيلمًا ووثائقيًا على مر السنين منذ ذلك الحين حول مؤامرة تتعارض مع تقرير وارين الأصلي الرسمي. فيما يلي سنناقش بعض السمات الرئيسية لنظرية المؤامرة
    الانتخابات الأمريكية 2020 
    سيكون معظم القراء على دراية بادعاء ترامب بالتزوير في الانتخابات الرئاسية لعام 2020. يدعي هو وأعوانه وأتباعه وجود مؤامرة لسرقة الانتخابات منه. المشكلة الأساسية في مؤامرة التصويت هي أن ترامب نفسه هو من يروج لها.
     هو في الحقيقة يشجع فكرة التزوير ويساهم في فكرة المؤامرة الانتخابية.

    أكد الرئيس ترامب وزملاؤه المقربون على ممارسات احتيالية في الانتخابات في الغالب من قبل مؤيدين ديمقراطيين. وشمل ذلك تقديم أعداد كبيرة بشكل غير عادي من الأصوات بكميات كبيرة للديمقراطيين. لقد ادعى الجمهوريون إدراج 
    أصوات ديمقراطية من غير المؤهلين للتصويت. أيضًا ، استخدام آلات التصويت الحاسوبية الخاطئة أو التي تم التلاعب بها لصالح الناخبين الديمقراطيين والتلاعب غير القانوني بالأصوات لصالح بايدن. وقيل إن احتيالية في الفرز اليدوي للأصوات لصالح بايدن قد حدثت. واشتكى “مراقبو الاقتراع” الجمهوريون أو “سلطات الانتخابات” من عدم السماح لهم بالاقتراب بما يكفي لمراقبة عملية الفرز. 
    كان التركيز على ولايات مثل بنسلفانيا ونيفادا وميشيغان وجورجيا وأريزونا التي فضلت ترامب في الانتخابات الأخيرة. أظهروا الآن أغلبية لصالح بايدن. تم عرض العشرات من قضايا الاحتيال على المحاكم مع إلقاء معظمها دون الاستماع 
     إليها. لم يتم العثور على احتيال أو فساد كبير من قبل مسؤولي التصويت. تدقيق الحقائق يظهر أن الإحصائيات المقدمة إلى المحاكم كانت مضللة وكاذبة. زعم ترامب “على سبيل المثال” أنه في ديترويت “ميشيغان” كان هناك أصوات أكثر  من عدد الناس. في الواقع ، تظهر نتائج الانتخابات الرسمية إقبالاً بنسبة 50 في المائة في ديترويت – وكان هذا الادعاء خاطئًا. 
    لم يردع أي من هذا معسكر ترامب الذي يدعي حتى يومنا هذا أن الاحتيال منتشر ، حتى المذيعين والشخصيات العامة التي تفضل ترامب الذين عادة ما يكونون عقلانيين في عروضهم تتحدث عن المؤامرة. يمكن العثور هنا على التحقق من  صحة ادعاءات الاحتيال الرئيسية.
    تؤدي المؤامرة أيضًا إلى أفعال أكثر جدية من قبل مؤيدي ترامب الذين غزوا الكونجرس الأمريكي في 6 يناير 2021. توفي خمسة أشخاص فيما يشار إليه الآن على أنه تمرد أو انتفاضة وتم إلحاق أضرار أكثر بكثير مما كان يعتقد في ذلك الوقت على أنه جديد. ظهرت مقاطع فيديو لإظهار العنف الفعلي للحدث. ليس من الواضح ما إذا كان ترامب قد شجع هذا التمرد بلهجة. بدا أن ترامب يدعم التمرد في البداية ، كما يعتقد مع مرور الوقت وتم التعبير عن الغضب العام  من أعمال الشغب ، وطلب من المتمردين العودة إلى ديارهم بسلام. 
    التمرد

    في البداية ، رأت وسائل الإعلام أن المشاغبين غير منسقين وغير منظمين ولا يخططون للهجوم. على الرغم من أن لقطات الفيديو تظهر  مجموعات منظمة بين الغوغاء الأكبر. كان العديد من المشاغبين يرتدون زيًا عسكريًا على طراز الهجوم مع أعمدة العلم والهراوات وعصي 
     الهوكي ورذاذ المواد الكيميائية. كان بعضهم يحمل أصفاد بلاستيكية مضغوطة ، مما يوحي بأنهم يأملون في القبض على المسؤولين المنتخبين. يبدو أن العديد من الجماعات المسلحة كانت هناك. كان أحدهم يُعرف بـ QAnon ، وهو حركة رئيسية لنظرية المؤامرة كانت واضحة في حضورها في الانتخابات.

    كيوانون أو QAnon

    قيل إنها جنة لمنظري المؤامرة ، فقد دعمت مجموعة QAnon مجموعة غريبة من الادعاءات التي تمسك بها وتوجيهها من قبل الجماعات الديموقراطية “الليبرالية”.QAnon يؤمن بأن العالم يسيطر عليه مجموعة من النخب الخبيثة. احتضنت المجموعة كل شيء بدءًا من الجمعيات التي لا أساس لها والتي تربط شبكة الجيل الخامس بالمخاطر الصحية إلى المستوى المركزي أيضًا ، كما تمت إضافة حلقة الاتجار بالجنس للأطفال وكذلك استنتاجات أكل لحوم البشر. إنهم يشيرون بشكل خاص إلى “طقوس الاعتداء الجنسي” على الرغم من عدم توضيح ما هو موجود بالفعل. هذا المصطلح مهم للمناقشة أدناه فيما يتعلق بـ QAnon في أستراليا.
    كان من الصعب تعقب قائد أو قادة المنظمة لأنهم ظلوا مجهولين. على الرغم من أن سلسلة فيديو مؤخرًا من HBO بعنوان “Q ؛ في العاصفة” زعمت أن القائد ليس مسؤولًا رفيع المستوى في ترامب ولكنه شخص يدعى رون واتكينز – المسؤول منذ فترة طويلة للمجموعات على الإنترنت. قال واتكينز الذي يعيش الآن في اليابان إنه تقاعد كمسؤول. قيل إن هذه الخطوة أيقظت المجموعة حيث تضاءل موقعها منذ تمرد الكونجرس. ومع ذلك ، لا يتفق الكثيرون مع الادعاء بأن الجماعة قد ضعفت ، فهي قوية في ألمانيا (لها صلات بالنازيين الجدد). كما سنرى أدناه ، لدى أستراليا أيضًا اتصالات مع QAnon. في الولايات المتحدة ، سعت مجموعة QAnon لتفسير خسارة ترامب بإعادة تفسير مؤامرة الناخبين.
    الرجل ذو القرون
    تم الكشف عن الرجل ذو القرون بين المتظاهرين الذين اقتحموا مبنى الكابيتول الأمريكي يوم الأربعاء كممثل ومؤيد قوي لترامب ، جيك أنجيلي.  أنجيلي ، الذي يرتدي زي “ الرجل ذو القرون ” ،يضع قبعة رأس من النوع الأمريكي الأصلي الغاضب مع وشومً في  صدره العاري ويحمل مكبر صوت ، ويشير إلى نفسه على أنه ذئب QAnon Shaman و Yellowstone. أنجيلي من المتظاهرين المنتظمين في ولايته الأصلية أريزونا ؛ الظهور بأشكال مختلفة غير الرجل ذو القرون. إنه مؤيد ورقة رابحة وممثل ومتظاهر محترف. اشتهر بإطلاق ادعاءات في مقابلة إذاعية بأن فيروس كورونا هو عمل لمسؤولين حكوميين رفيعي المستوى استخدموا معلومات كاذبة لهزيمة ترامب.

    رئيس الوزراء الأسترالي و QAnon يدافع عن تيم ستيوارت QAnon معروف بأنه يضم أعضاء أستراليين. واحد من هؤلاء هو تيم ستيوارت عضو QAnon وصديق رئيس الوزراء الأسترالي سكوت موريسون. كان ستيوارت وموريسون صديقين لأكثر من 30 عامًا بعد أن التقيا لأول مرة في الكنيسة المعمدانية المحلية في جنوب سيدني.زوجة موريسون وزوجة ستيوارت جيني ولينيل هما أفضل صديقات. كانت الحكومة الأسترالية قد وظفت لينيل لمساعدة زوجة رئيس الوزراء. أُعلن لاحقًا أنها لم تعد تعمل في الحكومة.
    كان مكتب رئيس الوزراء هادئا بشأن صداقة رئيس الوزراء مع ستيوارت وبعض أفراد عائلته. على الرغم من أن ستيوارت نفسه صامت بشأن علاقته بموريسون. زعم ستيوارت أن كان له تأثير على رئيس الوزراء عندما يتعلق الأمر بالاعتذار الوطني لعام 2018 لمؤسسي الناجين من الاعتداء الجنسي على الأطفال. وفقًا لما ذكره ديفيد هارداكر من موقع crikey.com في رسالة نصية على تويتر (وعد ستيوارت بأن “المعلومات المزعجة” التي تلقاها حول التربية الجنسية في المدرسة ستذهب مباشرة إلى سكوت).
    تباهى ستيوارت إلى حد ما باستخدام شخصيته على تويتر “إشعار الحرق” تحت عنوان Twitter @ burnedspy34 ، والذي أشار فيه موريسون في اعتذاره إلى “طقوس الاعتداء الجنسي”. كان يُفترض أن هذا المصطلح المشفر يقال إن ستيوارت قال إنه اقترح استخدام رءيس الوزرء. في الواقع ، في اعتذاره ، استخدم موريسون مصطلح “طقوس الاعتداء الجنسي” على سعادة ستيوارت . على الرغم من أن مكتب موريسون علق عندما سئل عن هذا المصطلح بأنه مرجع شائع الاستخدام وهو ليس كذلك. بينما ذهب الاعتذار الوطني بشكل جيد للغاية ، أثار استخدام مصطلح طقوس الاعتداء الجنسي على الأطفال بعض الأسئلة لأنه لا يستخدم في كثير من الأحيان على الإطلاق حول الاعتداء الجنسي على الأطفال. نأى موريسون بنفسه عن QAnon بعد تقرير ABC (لجنة البث الأسترالية) عن “الزوايا الأربع” على ستيوارت وكانون. وهو يقول إن ستيوارت كان صديقًا رغم أنه رفض QAnon “.

    على الرغم من صوت الانتقال الوطني (PTV) ، تم تنظيم موقع QAnon الرائد في الولايات المتحدة. الشهر الماضي وفقًا لإحدى المقالات الصعبة PTV,(نظمت مسيرة حاشدة في دالاس ، تكساس – “من أجل الله والوطني الوطني” – مما أعطى منصة لمؤيدي ترامب الرئيسيين بما في ذلك مستشار الأمن القومي السابق لترامب ميشيل فلين والمحامي الرابح سيدني باول ، وهو من أبرز المؤيدين لمؤامرة فرز الأصوات الزائفة. جادلت فلاين بأنه يجب أن يكون هناك انقلاب على غرار ميانمار في الولايات المتحدة لإعادة دونالد ترامب ، بينما جمعت باول المزيد من الأموال لمنظمتها المؤيدة الرابحة غير الهادفة للربح “للدفاع عن الجمهورية”.)
    في بداية هذا العام ، استخدم ستيوارت اسمًا جديدًا على تويتر ، وكتب على تويتر دعمه لاقتحام مبنى الكابيتول الأمريكي الذي لعب فيه أتباع QAnon دورًا بارزًا. تم إسكاته منذ ذلك الحين في وسائل الإعلام ذات نفس التيار. 
    مناقشة

    تثير هذه النظرة العامة المحدودة لنظرية المؤامرة بعض الأسئلة حول لماذا وكيف تترسخ دون الكثير من التساؤل. قام علماء النفس وعلماء الاجتماع بالتحقيق في ظاهرة نظرية المؤامرة وتوصلوا إلى بعض الاقتراحات.
    من المهم أن تكون دقيقًا في الإبلاغ وأسباب الأزمة الاجتماعية والطبيعية حيث يتأثر العديد من الأفراد بها. يستغرق إعداد التقارير الدقيقة والتحقيق وقتًا ويتطلب الانتباه إلى تفاصيل وتعقيد الحقائق. ليس هذا هو الحال مع نظريات المؤامرة ، فهي مجرد تأكيدات على النوايا المدمرة من قبل قوى خفية.
    بعد قولي هذا ، وعلى الرغم من سخافة بعض الادعاءات ، من المهم أن نفهم لماذا يجد بعض الأفراد أن مؤامرات المؤامرة قابلة للتصديق.
    في حالة حدوث أزمات مفاجئة وغير متوقعة ، يشعر الكثير من الناس بالقلق وحتى الخوف من الأشياء القادمة. تسبب هجوم مركز التجارة العالمي في قلق وخوف شديدين وسعى الناس للحصول على إجابات لتهدئة هذا القلق. من بين الإجابات ، هاجم الأجانب هجومًا ذريًا من قبل دولة معادية (الصين وكوريا الشمالية وإيران وما إلى ذلك) حتى هجوم من قبل عملاء الولايات المتحدة. سيجد الكثيرون نوعًا من الحل لقلقهم مع هذه التفسيرات – فهي توفر نوعًا من الخاتمة. أيضًا في مواجهة التفسيرات الواقعية المحدودة ، يشعر البعض بالأمان عند تصديق المؤامرات.حدد علماء النفس نمطًا من التفكير يشيرون إليه على أنه تصور نمط خادع مرتبط بميل الأدمغة البشرية إلى إيجاد أنماط في العالم ليست موجودة بالفعل. مثال في علم التنجيم الغربي هو سماء الليل التي تظهر اثني عشر نمطًا من الأبراج. وتشمل هذه الأنماط حيوانات مثل الماعز (الجدي) والثور (الثور) بالإضافة إلى ظواهر أخرى مثل القوس (القوس) والتوائم (Gemeni) وما إلى ذلك. توفر هذه الصور بعض المعنى للتوزيع العشوائي للنجوم وترتبط كل علامة بتواريخ الجسر والسمات الشخصية ذات الصلة وحتى تقديم تنبؤات للمستقبل الفردي.
    في الثقافات الأخرى ، تختلف العلامة عن الأبراج الغربية كما هو الحال في الأبراج الصينية التي تتكون من الحيوانات ، كل واحدة تمثل سنوات ميلاد محددة. في أستراليا القديمة ، كانت هناك علامة نجمية عديدة تعود إلى آلاف السنين (هذه في نفس موقع سماء الليل في دائرة الأبراج) للسكان الأصليين الأستراليين. تم التعرف على هذا في عملة فضية من قبل Royale Australian Mint. وهي تتميز بـ “Gugurmin؛ the emu in the sky” من تقاليد السماء لشعب Wiradjuri في وسط نيو ساوث ويلز.
    بينما لا أقترح أن علم التنجيم هو نظرية مؤامرة ، فإن إسناد إشارات ذات مغزى إلى أحداث عشوائية يظهر ميل الانسان ، أو الدماغ البشري ، للبحث عن النظام في العشوائية أو ما يبدو أنه فوضئ. يناقش موقع إلكتروني خاص بالصحة العقلية علاقة إدراك النمط الوهمي بنظرية المؤامرة مما يوضح أن ؛(خلصت دراسة نشرت في المجلة الأوروبية لعلم النفس إلى أن إدراك النمط الوهمي هو عامل معرفي مهم تشارك في نظريات المؤامرة. وجدت الدراسة أن كلا من التفكير التآمري والمعتقدات الخارقة كانا مرتبطين ارتباطًا وثيقًا ببعضهما البعض وبالميل لإيجاد نمط داخل العشوائية. كانت رؤية الأنماط في حالة من الفوضى ولكن لا يوجد نمط في المنبهات المركبة مؤشراً على المعتقدات غير المنطقية).

    وجد أنصار ترامب صعوبة في تصديق أن الانتخابات خسرت (في الواقع شجع ترامب ذلك) ، وتسببت في حالة من عدم اليقين وفوضى غير متوقعة. جلبت فكرة أنه كان احتيال نوعًا من النظام إلى القلق. كان هناك العديد من الأسباب التي أدت إلى خسارة الانتخابات ، وبعضها تمت مناقشته علنًا ، ولكن بالنسبة للكثيرين ، بما في ذلك مؤيدي ترامب ، كان هذا التعقيد غامضًا للغاية ومربكًا وغير مقبول ، لذلك كان التفسير البسيط للتزوير جذابًا لهم. قدم الاحتيال حلاً أكثر تصديقًا ، وهو سبب واحد مشترك منذ ذلك الحين ، وأدى إلى عدو يصعب للغاية اكتشافه ، ولكنه قوي وشرير. هذه الفكرة عن العدو الخبيث ستعزز فكرة الاحتيال. يعطي افتراض الاحتيال نوعًا من المعنى للنتيجة التي يريدونها – وقد وفر لهم دافعًا لهزيمة المتآمر.
    كما أعطت فكرة الاحتيال أنصار ترامب منذ ذلك الحين صداقة حميمة وشعورًا بالسيطرة على الموقف. كان هناك دليل مقنع ضد أي احتيال ، تم تجاهل ذلك قائلا إن الحقيقة ستظهر على المدى الطويل. وافق العديد من الشخصيات الإعلامية اليمينية على هذا. على سبيل المثال ، أشارت شخصيات على YouTube مثل ديف روبن (تقرير روبن) بن شابيرو (عرض شابيرو) ، سواء كان محافظًا أو يمينيًا معتدلًا ، إلى دعم مؤامرة الاحتيال من خلال التلميح إلى أن الحقيقة ستظهر في النهاية. على الرغم من كل هذا ، فإن الحقائق المزعومة أو الحقيقة لم تظهر على المدى الطويل.

    هل نظريات المؤامرة هدامة أم خطيرة؟

    الإجابة المختصرة هي نعم لأن معظمها تاريخيًا كان مدمرًا بشكل خطير. من بين منظري المؤامرة في الماضي هتلر وستالين ، وكانوا مسؤولين عن ارتفاعات فظيعة. هناك تأثيرات خطيرة أخرى تتعلق بالرعاية الصحية مثل المؤامرات المضادة للقاحات. كلها مدمرة إلى حد ما والمشكلة الأكبر هي أنه يكاد يكون من المستحيل المجادلة بين المؤمنين. المناقشة العقلانية غير ممكنة بشكل عام ، وكما قيل ، يبدو أنها تزيد من ادعاءاتهم غير المنطقية ، وتجعل المناقشة مستحيلة عمليا لأن أي دليل ضدهم يتم تكوينه كدليل لهم. من المهم أن تسأل عما إذا كان هناك أي إجراء يمكن اتخاذه لتغيير الآراء. يشير جميع علماء النفس الذين يدرسون نظريات المؤامرة تقريبًا إلى قوة اعتقاد المؤامرة والاستثمارات النفسية القوية جدًا في مثل هذه المعتقدات. وبالتالي ، فإن الطعون المباشرة (الأدلة ضدهم) ليس لها تأثير. تميل بعض النظريات إلى الضعف بمرور الوقت عندما لا تظهر النتائج المتوقعة. انتهت الآن الانتخابات الرئاسية الأمريكية ، وحل بايدن محل ترامب ، وتلاشى الحديث عن التزوير إلى حد ما. لا مزيد من طلبات الاحتيال تذهب إلى المحاكم. كما تم تهميش بعض الدعاة الرئيسيين للاحتيال والسخرية منهم. رودي جيلياني ، المحامي الرابح ، تم تعليق ترخيصه القانوني بعد أن قضت محكمة نيويورك بـ “تصريحات كاذبة ومضللة بشكل واضح” في انتخابات عام 2020 نيابة عن ترامب. سارة هاكابي ساندرز تتفوق على السكرتيرة الصحفية التي قدمت ادعاءات شائنة كسكرتيرة صحفية تم تهميشها وسخرية منها. نجل ترامب دونالد الابن. أدلى بتصريحات تآمرية تم رفضها من قبل الصحافة.ربما تكون الطريقة الأكثر نجاحًا لتقليل نظرية المؤامرة هي التعليم. وهذا يعني تعليم دور الشك والمطالبة بتقييم الإيمان بأدلة موثوقة. بعض المعرفة بالطريقة العلمية قد تساعد أيضًا. وفقًا لدوغلاس ساتون ، فإن البحث النفسي للشيشوكا ، (حتى الآن تم أخذ عينات من الطلاب الجامعيين من السكان ومعاقبي المسح الذين لم يتم التنصل منهم أو تهديدهم بشكل خاص والذين لا يؤيدون نظرية المؤامرة بشكل عام. أن تكون مقلقة ومزعجة للاستقرار وربما تنفر).وبالتالي ، قد يكون للتعليم تأثير على تقليل الإيمان بنظريات المؤامرة ولكن بالنسبة للعديد, مثل هذه المعلومات لا تصل إليهم.

  • Conspiracy Theory and Scepticism

    Conspiracy theories are a phenomena that has always intrigued me. They appear to break all the rules of reason and rational thought. Those who believe them hold to them so strongly there is little one can say to convince them of their irrationality.

    The problem is that they can be quite destructive and dangerous. For example, here in Australia we, like many other countries throughout the world, are trying to deal with the covid19 virus. The government is promoting vaccination as an obvious strategy to defeat the virus spread. Yet there are quite a number of individuals and groups who believe that vaccination is a conspiracy. Many different quite absurd claims are being made, such as a deliberate attempt by some secret group to kill those vaccinated in the long run. The side effects have been deliberately incorporated into the vaccine to damage the body and so it goes on.

    In this presentation i will discuss the nature of conspiracy theory, what makes such theories so appealing to individuals and groups and what if anything can be done to counter their destructive impact on society.

    It appears, probably with the assistance of the internet, that conspiracy theories have increased. These include the World Trade Centre attack, the Corona virus, the corona virus vaccine. Also, global warming, the death of Princess Diana, the Kennedy assassination and the 2020 presidential election and many more. 

    Irrationality and malicious intent are the main features of conspiracy theories in most cultures. They explain many events as the actions of hidden, unidentifiable enemies. These anonymous perpetrators are powerful and malicious and are destructive of opposition to them.

    Both psychologists and sociologists have studied the nature and impact of conspiracy theories. There are several types of conspiracy theories some more destructive than others. I will discuss briefly two of the major conspiracy theories of the last 50-60 years relating to US presidents. I will not cover all major conspiracy theories due to space restrictions. Here I will briefly examine the Kennedy assassination and then the recent conspiracies around the 2020 US Presidential election.

    The Kennedy Assassination
    See the source image
    The Kennedy Motorcade Dallas 1964

    The Official Government Warren Report, a t

    horough going evidence-based report on the Kennedy assassination of 1964, found that the assassination was performed only by Lee Harvey Oswald himself alone without the support of another person or persons or any organisation or government body. The commission was extensive consisting of pages of evidence and interviews with experts, witnesses, government and military personnel, eyewitnesses, and many others. The evidence presented for this was very strong. It was however difficult to get firsthand evidence from Oswald as he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby a day or so after the assassination.

    According to the Official US Government Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was acting alone without the support of another person or any organisation or government body. The commission was extensive, consisting of pages of evidence and interviews with experts, witnesses, government and military personnel, eyewitnesses, and many others. No evidence was given by Oswald as he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days after the assassination. However, The evidence presented for this was very strong despite this.

    See the source image
    Lee Harvey Oswald

    However, to be acting alone appeared to be too simple an explanation for many people and groups and it spawned many doubts and sinister interpretations, many of them quite bizarre. The Mafia, US military leaders, and even the new President Lyndon Johnson were said to be involved. The continuing questioning of the report lead to another congressional investigation in 1979 and it came up with the same conclusion as the Warren report.

    However, the conspiracies continued and some more bizarre scenarios accused the Israeli government. The Soviet government, the US Federal Reserve, the limousine driver, wound alterations on Kennedy’s body and many others. Almost 2000 books have been published on the assassination conspiracy and many polls even recently ones showed the majority of the American population believed Kennedy was killed by some sort of conspiracy. A 2009 CBS News poll found In 2009, 76% of people polled believed the President had been killed as the result of a conspiracy, see. [1]

    Thus the Kennedy assassination remains as a conspiracy for most US citizens. More than twenty movies and documentaries have been produced over the years since then most of them on conspiracy taking issue with the official original Warren Report See[2]. Below we will discuss some of the major features of conspiracy theory.

    US Election 2020

    Image result for Trump Images PNG. Size: 139 x 105. Source: pngimg.com
    President Trump

    Most readers will be aware of the Trump claim of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. He and his immediate staff and followers claimed a conspiracy to ‘steal’ the election from him. The problem basically with the vote conspiracy was Trump himself who promoted it. He in fact encouraged the idea of fraud and contributed to the notion of an election conspiracy.

    The President Trump and his close colleagues asserted fraudulent practices in the election mostly by democratic supporters. These included the submission of unusually high numbers of votes in bulk for the Democrats. They republicans claimed the inclusion of democratic votes from those who were illegible to vote. Also, the use of faulty or manipulated computer voting machines favouring democrat voters and illegal manipulation of votes favouring Biden. Fraudulent hand counting of votes to favour Biden were said to occur. Republican ‘poll watchers’ or ‘election authorities’ complained they were not permitted to get close enough to observe counting.

    The focus was on states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan and Arizona that favoured Trump in the last election. They now showed a majority for Biden. Literally dozens of cases of fraud were presented to courts with most of them thrown out without being heard, (see a summary of such cases [3]). No significant frauds or corruption by voting officials were found. Fact checks show that statistics presented to courts were misleading and false. Trump claimed,for example, that in Detroit (Michigan) there were more votes than people. In fact the official election results show a 50% turnout in Detroit – this claim was false.

    None of this deterred the Trump camp who to this day claim fraud was rampant; even broadcasters and public figures favouring Trump who are normally quite rational in their presentations talk of a conspiracy. A fact check of the major fraud clams can be found here[4].

    The conspiracy also leads to more serious actions by Trump supporters who invaded the US congress on Jan 6th, 2021. Five people died in what is now referred to as an insurrection or an insurgency and much more damage was inflicted than was thought at the time as new videos[5]  have appeared to show the actual violence of the event. It is not clear whether Trump deliberately encouraged this insurrection. Trump initially appeared to support the insurrection, though as time went by and public outrage at the riot was expressed, he asked the insurgents to return home peacefully.

    The Insurgency

    Initially the media saw rioters as uncoordinated and disorganised with no plans of attack. Though video footage shows organized groups among the larger mob. Many of the rioters wore military assault-style uniforms, with flagpoles, batons, hockey sticks and chemical spray. Some carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs, suggesting they hoped to seize elected officials. It appears many militant groups were there. One of them know as QAnon, a major conspiracy theory movement was obvious in its presence in the election.

    QAnon

    Said to be a haven for conspiracy theorists, the QAnon group has supported a bizarre range of claims held and directed by democrat/liberal groups. QAnon believe the world is controlled by a group of malicious elites. The group has embraced everything from baseless associations linking 5G to health risks to the central Also, a child sex-trafficking ring has also been added as has inferences of cannibalism. They make special reference to ‘ritual sexual abuse’ though do not elaborate on what it actually is. This term is important for the discussion below in relation to QAnon in Australia.

    It has been difficult to track the leader/leaders of the organisation as they remained anonymous.Though recently a video series by HBO called ‘Q: Into the Storm’, has claimed the leader is not a high-ranking Trump official but a person named Ron Watkins – the long-time administrator of the group’s online home. Watkins who now lives in Japan has said he is in retirement as administrator. This move has been said to weaken the group as its posts have diminished since the congress insurgency. However, many disagree with the claim the group has weakened, it is strong in Germany (with connections with Neo Nazis).  As we shall see below, Australia also has connections with QAnon. In the US the Anon group has been seeking to explain Trump’s loss with reinterpretations of voter conspiracy.

    The Horned Man

    The horned man among protesters who stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday has been revealed as actor and hardcore Trump supporter, Jake Angeli. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP Dressed as a ‘horned man’ in a fury native American type head dress with bare chest showing tattoos and carrying a megaphone, Angeli refers to himself as the QAnon Shaman and the Yellowstone Wolf. Angeli is a regular protester in his native state of Arizona, appearing in various guises other than as the horned man. He is a Trump supporter, an actor and professional protester. He was famous for making the claim in a radio interview that the corona virus is an act of high-ranking government officials who used false information to defeat Trump..

    Australian Prime Minister and QAnon advocate Tim Stewart

    QAnon is known as having Australian members. One of these is Tim Stewart a member of QAnon and a friend of the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  Stewart and Morrison have been mates for 30 years having first met at a local Baptist church in Sydney’s south. Morrison’s wife Jenny and Stewart’s wife Lynelle are best friends.  The Australian government had employed Lynelle to assist the Prime Minister’s wife. It was later announced that she no longer works for the government.

    The Prime ministers Office has been quiet about the PM’s friendship with Stewart and some members of his family. Though Stewart himself is quite open about his connection with Morrison. Stewart has claimed to have influence on the prime minister when it came to the 2018 national apology to the survivors of institutional child sex abuse. According to David Hardaker of Crikey.com in a text message on Twitter.

    ‘Stewart promised that “disturbing information” he had been given on school sex education would go “straight to Scott”. [6]

    Stewart has boasted to friends using his Twitter persona “Burn Notice” under the Twitter handle @BurnedSpy34, that Morrison in the Apology did refer to ‘ritual sexual abuse’. This was a supposedly coded term Stewart is allegedly said he suggested the PM use. In fact in the Apology Morrison did use the term ‘ritual sexual abuse’ to Stewart’s glee. Though Morrison’s office commented when asked about this term that it is a commonly used reference – which it isn’t. While the National apology went over very well, use of the term ritual sexual abuse of children has raised some questions as it is not often used at all about child sexual abuse. Morrison has distanced himself from QAnon after an ABC (The Australian Broadcasting Commission) report on ‘Four Corners” on Stewart and QAnon. He does say Stewart was a fiend of his even though he rejected QAnon’.

    Meanwhile Patriot Transition Voice (PTV), a leading QAnon site in the US has organised. Last month according to a Crikey article PTV,

    organised a rally in Dallas, Texas — the “For God and Country Patriot Roundup” — giving a platform to key Trump supporters including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, a leading proponent of the false vote count conspiracy. Flynn argued that there should be a Myanmar-style coup in the US to reinstate Donald Trump, while Powell collected more funds for her pro-Trump not-for-profit organisation “Defending the Republic”.[7]

    At the beginning of this year, Stewart, using a new Twitter name, tweeted his support for the storming of the US Capitol in which QAnon adherents played a prominent role. He has since been silenced on mainstream media.

    Discussion

    This limited overview of conspiracy theory raises a few questions about why and how they take hold without much questioning. Psychologists and some sociologists have investigated the phenomena of conspiracy theory and have come up with a few suggestions.

    It is important to aim to be accurate in the reporting and causes of social and natural crisis as many individuals are impacted by them. Accurate reporting and investigation take time and require attention to the detail and complexity of facts. This is not the case with conspiracy theories, they are simply assertions of destructive intentions by hidden forces.

    Having said this, as absurd as some of the claims are, it is important to understand why some individuals find conspiracy theories believable.

    In the case of sudden and unexpected crises many people get anxious and even fearful of things to come. The World trade Centre attack caused great anxiety and fear and people sought answers to allay such anxiety. Among the answers were attacks by aliens, a precursor to an atomic attack by an ‘enemy’ nation (China, North Korea, Iran and so on) even an attack by US agents. Many will find some sort of resolution to their anxiety with these explanations – they provide a sort of closure. Also, in the face of limited realistic explanations some feel safer with believing conspiracies.

    Psychologists have identified a pattern of thinking they refer to as Illusory Pattern Perception associated with the human brains tendency to find patterns in the world that aren’t actually there. An example in Western Astrology is the night sky that shows twelve patterns of the Zodiac. These patterns include animals such as the Goat (Capricorn) The Bull (Taurus) as well as other phenomena such as the Archer (Sagittarius) and twins (Gemini) and so on. These images provide some meaning to the otherwise random distribution of stars and each sign is associated with birth dates and related personality traits and even providing predictions of individual futures.

    In other cultures, signs vary from the Western Zodiac such as in the Chinese Zodiac that consisted of animals, each one representing specific birth years. In ancient Australia there have been numerous star signs dating back thousands of years (these in the same night sky position of the Zodiac) for Aboriginal Australians. This has been recognised in a silver coin by the Royal Australian Mint. It features “Gugurmin: The Emu in the Sky”, from the sky lore of the Wiradjuri people of central New South Wales.

    While I am not suggesting that Astrology is a conspiracy theory the attribution of meaningful signs to random events shows a tendency of humans, or the human brain, to seek order in randomness or what appears to be chaos. A website on mental health discusses the relation of illusory pattern Perception to conspiracy theory making the point that:

    A study published in the European Journal of Psychology concluded that illusory pattern perception is an important cognitive factor involved in conspiracy theories. The study found that both conspiratorial thinking and supernatural beliefs were strongly correlated with each other and with the tendency to find patterns within randomness. Seeing patterns in chaos but no pattern in structured stimuli was a predictor of irrational beliefs.[8]

    Trump supporters found it difficult to believe that the election was lost (Trump in fact encouraged this), it caused uncertainty, and unexpected disorder. The idea it was fraud brought some sort of order to the anxiety. There were many reasons why the election was lost, and some were discussed publicly but for many, including Trump supporters, this complexity was too vague, confusing and unacceptable, so the simple explanation of fraud was appealing to them.  Fraud provided a more believable solution a single common-sense cause and brought about an enemy very difficult to detect, but powerful and evil. This idea of a malignant enemy would reinforce the notion of fraud. The postulation of fraud gives some sort of meaning to the result they want – and it provided them with a motive to defeat the conspirator.

    The notion of fraud also gave Trump supporters a sense of camaraderie and a feeling of control of the situation. There was convincing evidence against any fraud, this was ignored saying that the truth will come out in the long run. Many right wing media personalities agreed with this. For example, U Tube personalities such as Dave Rubin (The Rubin Report) Ben Shapiro (The Shapiro Show) both conservative and mildly right wing have indicated support for the fraud conspiracy by implying the truth will eventually come out. Despite all this the so-called facts or truth never did come out in the long run.

    Are Conspiracy Theories Destructive or Dangerous?

    The short answer is yes as historically most of them have been seriously destructive. Conspiracy theorists of the past include Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot and they were responsible for terrible atrocities. Other serious impacts relate to health care such as anti-vaccine conspiracies. All are to a certain extent destructive and the greatest problem is that they are almost impossible to dispute in believers. Rational discussion is generally not possible and, as argued, seems to increase their irrational claims, and make discussion virtually impossible as any evidence against them is construed as evidence for them.

    It is important to ask whether there is any action that can be taken to change minds. Psychologists studying conspiracy theory almost all indicate the strength of conspiracy belief and the very strong psychological investment in such beliefs. Thus, direct challenges (evidence against them) do not have an impact. Some theories do tend to weaken over time when predicted outcomes do not appear. The US Presidential election is now over, Trump has been replaced by Biden and talk of fraud has faded somewhat. No more fraud applications are going to courts. Also some of the main advocates of fraud have been sidelined and ridiculed. Rudy Giuliani, lawyer to Trump, had his law license suspended after a New York court ruled he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” in the 2020 election of behalf of Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary who made outrageous clams as press secretary has also been sidelined and ridiculed. Trump’s son Donald Jr. has made conspiratorial type statements that have been dismissed by the press.

    Probably the most successful way of reducing conspiracy theory is education. This means education on the role of scepticism and its demand for evaluating belief with reliable evidence. Some knowledge of scientific method also would assist. According to Douglas, Sutton, and Cichocka psychological research has,

    thus far has sampled from populations (under-graduate students and survey panelists) that are not particularly disadvantaged or threatened and that gen-erally do not endorse conspiracy theories. For these people, conspiracy theories are likely to be experienced as unsettling, destabilizing, and potentially alienating.[9]

    Thus, education may have an impact on reducing belief in conspiracy theories but for many such information does not reach them.


    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy_assassination_conspiracy_theories#cite_note-Knight-23 retrieved 16/6/21

    [2] https://www.imdb.com/list/ls032836549/?sort=moviemeter,asc&st_dt=&mode=detail&page=1 accessed 20/06/21

    [3] https://standupamericaus.org/complete-list-of-significant-claims-errors-fraud-of-2020-presidential-election/ accessed 20/06/21

    [4] https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-55016029 Accessed 25/06/21

    [5] https://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/BB1cFmPZ.img?h=720&w=1123&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f accessed 20/06/21

    [6] https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/01/22/australia-qanon-conspiracy-joe-biden/

    Accessed 4/0721

    [7] Ibid

    [8] https://mentalhealthathome.org/

    [9] Karen M. Douglas, Robbie M. Sutton, and Aleksandra Cichocka, (2017) The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories, sage pub.com/journals accessed 10/07/21

  • Free speech Issues Translated from English by hafid ouayahou

    حرية التعبير وخطاب الكراهية والدين
    مرحبًا أيها الأصدقاء ، مرحبًا بكم في مدونتنا. في هذا العرض التقديمي ، أود مناقشة القضايا المتعلقة بحرية التعبير ومزاياها وقيودها والمواضيع ذات الصلة مثل خطاب الكراهية والتمييز. تهديدات خطيرة لهذا التقليد من الحرية الذي هو حجر الزاوية في الديمقراطية.
    قبل أن يصيبنا الفيروس ، كنت أحضر شيئًا عن حرية التعبير والذي كان في ذلك الوقت موضوعًا هنا في أستراليا حيث تخطط حكومتنا الفيدرالية للتشريع بشأن التمييز الديني. جاء الدافع لمثل هذا القانون نتيجة للجدل بشأن الزواج من نفس الجنس. تم إجراء التصويت البريدي أو الاستفتاء على المستوى الوطني بين 12 سبتمبر و 7 نوفمبر 2017 وأعاد 61.6 في المائة التصويت بـ “نعم” لصالح الزواج من نفس الجنس.
    كما هو متوقع ، أدى الجدل إلى بعض اللغة القوية من كلا الجانبين. فمن وجهة نظر دعاة مناهضة الزواج ، كان هذا الارتباط غير طبيعي ، والزواج كان مخالفًا لقوانين الله التي لا تنطبق إلا على الرجل مع المرأة.  كما تم في إجراء للتنبؤات.أصر الطرف الآخر على أن إعادة المساواة مع الزواج مؤسسة اجتماعية يجب أن تكون متاحة للجميع بغض النظر عن التوجه الجنسي.
    كان هذا الجدل مدنيًا نسبيًا وإن كان عدوانيًا في بعض الأحيان من كلا الجانبين ، وصُنف بعض المعارضين على أنهم كارهون للمثلية الجنسية وأنصارهم على أنهم أشراروخطاءين.

    كان أحد أكثر المعارضين صراحة لمشروع القانون معروفًا  لاعب كرة القدم الأسترالي الشهير للرجبي ؛ اسمه إسرائيل فولاو.
    تم عزله من قبل هيئة الرجبي الأسترالية الحاكمة لإدلائه بتعليقات عامة سلبية حول الشذوذ الجنسي. والسبب هو خرقه لعقده الذي وافق فيه على عدم إصدار تعليقات سلبية أو إدانة حول مجموعة المثليين والمثليات ومزدوجي الميل الجنسي ومغايري الهوية الجنسانية (LGBTI) حيث أرادت هيئة الرجبي الحاكمة تجنب الاتهامات من رهاب المثلية الجنسية.ليس واضحًا ما إذا كان القيد مكتوبًا في العقد أو ما إذا كان اتفاقًا شفهيًا أبرمه مع لعبة الركبي الأسترالية.
    Folau هو مواطن أسترالي من أبوين  من أصول مملكة تونغا (وهي أرخبيل تضم 176 جزيرة في المحيط الهادي)، وقد لعب في جميع قوانين كرة القدم هنا ، ودوري الرجبي ، والقواعد الأسترالية واتحاد الرجبي ، ويُنظر إليه عمومًا على أنه أحد أفضل اللاعبين في البلاد والأكثر ربحًا أيضًا. أولئك من الدول الجزرية الأخرى في جنوب المحيط الهادئ نشأ من قبل الآباء الذين اتبعوا شكلاً من أشكال المسيحية الإنجيلية الصارمة. إنهم يدافعون عن الحقيقة الحرفية لكل من العهدين الجديد والقديم باعتبارهما الشكل الوحيد للسلطة.  وبذلك فولاو هو ناقد متسلسل للمثليين وشعر بأنه مقيد لكسر هذا الصمت في’أستراليا الان” َAustralia time ، حيث يشير استطلاع الزواج من نفس الجنس إلى أنه لن يدعم أبدًا “زواج المثليين”.ويشير اليهم علئ أنهم الخطاءين مثل “اللصوص واللواط والسكارى وغيرهم كثيرون” هم حتما في  الجحيم “ما لم يتوبوا عن خطاياهم”.
    أدى ذلك إلى نقد عام ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي لـ Folau – على الرغم من أن رد الفعل لم يحدث في المرحلة التي قال فيها إنه اقتبس فقط من ST.Paul في كورينثيانز
    ١ كورنثوس ٦ : ٩-١٠
    أَمْ لَسْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لاَ يَرِثُونَ مَلَكُوتَ اللهِ؟ لاَ تَضِلُّوا! لاَ زُنَاةٌ وَلاَ عَبَدَةُ أَوْثَانٍ وَلاَ فَاسِقُونَ وَلاَ مَأْبُونُونَ وَلاَ مُضَاجِعُو ذُكُورٍ وَلاَ سَارِقُونَ وَلاَ طَمَّاعُونَ وَلاَ سِكِّيرُونَ وَلاَ شَتَّامُونَ وَلاَ خَاطِفُونَ يَرِثُونَ مَلَكُوتَ اللهِ.
    هذا الاقتباس موجود أيضًا في الرباعية القديمة التي من الواضح أن بول قد استمد منها.
    كان بإمكانه أيضًا استخدام هذا الاقتباس الأكثر رعبًا leviticus 20 13 الذي يفرض عقوبة الإعداملاويين ٢٠ : ١٣

    وَاذَا اضْطَجَعَ رَجُلٌ مَعَ ذَكَرٍ اضْطِجَاعَ امْرَاةٍ فَقَدْ فَعَلا كِلاهُمَا رِجْسا. انَّهُمَا يُقْتَلانِ. دَمُهُمَا عَلَيْهِمَا.

    ​جاء الاحتجاج ضد Folau من وسائل الإعلام وممثلي LGBTI وإدارة قانون الرجبي الخاصة به. هددت شركة الخطوط الجوية الأسترالية كانتاس بسحب الرعاية واضطرت لعبة الرجبي الأسترالية إلى التصرف ، باختصار قاموا بطرده لخرقه عقده. لقد كان لديه أنصاره الذين قالوا إنه يجب أن يكون حراً في التعبير عن آرائه.
    فواو ، على ما يبدو لم يعتذر على الإطلاق عن تعليقاته ، مع مجموعة من المؤيدين قرروا استئناف قرار طرده أمام المحكمة الفيدرالية على أساس الاضطهاد الديني أو التمييز. كانت قضية فولو هي حقه في حرية التعبير والحق في القيام بذلك. وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي أو instagram أو twitter أو facebook أو أي مكان آخر في هذا الشأن

    في الاستئناف الذي قدمه إلى المحكمة الفيدرالية ، أراد فولاو اعتذارًا من لعبة الركبي أستراليا ، حيث تمكن من الحصول على دعم العديد من الشخصيات العامة وأراد بشكل أساسي أن تحكم المحكمة بحق  علئ أي شخص في التعبير عن آرائه الدينية. أيد رئيس الوزراء الخماسي القضية ، ويمكن القول إنها كانت حافزًا للحكومة على الخروج بمشروع قانون يدعم الحق في الحماية من الاضطهاد الديني والقدرة على التعبير عن الآراء الدينية دون تمييز.
    ليس الغرض من هذه المدونة هو الخوض في تفاصيل دعوى Folau القانونية ولكن Folau حصل على اعتذار من نوع ما ، وحصل على تعويضات كبيرة تقارب 4 مليون دولار أسترالي لكنه لم يسترد وظيفته. كان هادئًا ضعيفًا. ومع ذلك ، لم يردع ، لا يزال فولو يواصل التعبير عن آرائه السلبية حول المثليين إلى حد جعل زواج المثليين مسؤولاً بطريقة ما عن حرائق الغابات التي كانت في ذلك الوقت تدمر البلاد. ومع ذلك ، فهو يقول إنه لا يكره  أي فرد كان يقتبس  من الكتاب المقدس.فشل مشروع القانون المتعلق بالتمييز الديني الذي أعده المدعي العام الاتحادي المسيحي الحمال في الانطلاق مع رفض جميع الأطراف تقريبًا جوانب مختلفة منه. كما ذكر أعلاه ، لم يتضرر ماليًا ، فقد حصل الآن على عقد جديد مع الفريق الإسباني ، التنين الكتالوني”catalan dragons”.

    نزلت الحلقة بأكملها إلى الانقسام في المجتمع حول الحرية الدينية وحرية التعبير. كان للانقسام مدافعون غريبون ومفاجئون إلى حد ما من كلا الجانبين ؛ دعم حق حرية التعبير عن آرائه الدينية (في الواقع كانت معظم تصريحاته عبارة عن اقتباسات انجيلية وإعادة صياغتها). كان أنصاره من رجال الدين رفيعي المستوى وشخصيات عامة أخرى معروفة مثل آلان جونز (ساءق الفورمولا 1 المشهور جدا)وبث ذائع الصيت (والمثليين)(and Gay).

    أيضا ، مارغريت كورت ، واحدة من أنجح لاعبي التنس في أستراليا (فازت بـ 24 مباراة سيدات في جراند سلام لا مثيل لها من قبل أي شخص) معروفة بآرائها الدينية الإنجيلية وكراهية LGBTI (خاصة المتحولين جنسيا) واصلت الإشارة إلى أعضاء LGBTI على أنهم أشرار. تسبب في عاصفة من الجدل ولكن النقد لم يردعه.ومع ذلك ، كان ضد فولاو العديد من زملائه في الفريق ، والعديد من الرعاة من الشركات الكبرى بما في ذلك كما ذكرنا ، كانتاس ، بقيادة رئيسها مثلي الجنس والمدافعين عن حقوق المثليين.ما نفهمه من كل هذا ؟هل الاعتداء على من يقتبس من الكتاب المقدس يشكل اعتداء على الحرية الدينية؟
    هذا رأيي.
    يقتبس فولاو من الكتاب المقدس أو يعيد صياغته ، إنها حقيقة وليست كلماته الخاصة. ومع ذلك ، فهو يستخدم هذه الكلمات لتوضيح وجهة نظره حول الخطيئة ، ويبدو أنه يركز بشكل أساسي على المثلية الجنسية ، وليس كل الخطايا الأخرى المذكورة. كان الاعتراض على هذه الاقتباسات هو تحديد الشذوذ الجنسي (مثلي الجنس) كجريمة بنفس الطريقة التي تعتبر فيها السرقة والقتل جرائم .. كونك مثليًا ، يُقال إنه ليس مسألة اختيار مثل السرقة ، إنها الطريقة التي أنت عليها. والتي ليس لديك خيار بشأنها. هذا بالتأكيد ما يقوله معظم المثليين (وغيرهم في مجموعة LGBTI) عن أنفسهم ، أن هذا هو حالهم وأن الاختيار ليس له دور في هذا. إنها ظاهرة برامج الأجهزة.
    يصارع الكثيرون مع هذا ، وخاصة المراهقين الذين يعتبرون أنهم قد يكونون مثليين ويحاولون التعامل مع هذا الأمر. إنها مسألة تحديد هوية ويمكن أن تكون بالنسبة لهم وقتًا لأزمة شخصية يمكن أن تؤدي إلى مشاكل نفسية. القلق من المرض والاكتئاب: تظهر العديد من الدراسات أن المراهقين الذين لديهم جاذبية نفس الجنس هم أكثر عرضة للانتحار من أقرانهم من جنسين مختلفين.
    الانتحار هو السبب الرئيسي للوفاة بين الشباب الأسترالي – حوالي 250 شابًا تتراوح أعمارهم بين 150 و 24 عامًا ينتحرون كل عام – أكثر من يموتون على الطرق. مقابل كل انتحار شاب ، هناك 100 إلى 200 محاولة أخرى. يشير راسل وكارا جوينر 2001 إلى ؛أنه من بين عوامل الخطر الأولية لانتحار المراهقين ، تم الإبلاغ عن مستويات أعلى من الاكتئاب وتعاطي الكحول من قبل الشباب الذين لديهم توجه جنسي من نفس الجنس. وقد أشار بحث آخر إلى أن المراهقين المثليين والمثليات يبلغون عن مستويات عالية من الاكتئاب . وتعاطي المخدرات وإساءة استخدامها  وقد تم اقتراح أنه بالنسبة للشباب المثليين والمثليات الذين يقدمون المشورة بشأن هوياتهم الجنسية ، يمكن استخدام الكحول لتخدير القلق والاكتئاب المرتبطين بهما. وينبغي أن تركز جهود البحث والوقاية مع هذه الفئة من السكان على الاكتئاب وتعاطي المخدرات كمقدمة للانتحار.​

    العديد من الدراسات الأخرى تدعم هذا ، ويبدو أن فولاو لا يفهم هذا ، فهو بطل رياضي ربما يحظى بإعجاب العديد من الشباب المثليين ، وهو يدينهم تمامًا ولا يقدم أي تعاطف أو مساعدة.
    أن يتم إخبارك أنك ذاهب إلى الجحيم لا يتطلب منك الإيمان بالجحيم ولكنه يجعلك تشعر بأنك بلا قيمة وغير مرغوب فيه. كلمة أو مفهوم الجحيم هو مصطلح محمّل في مجتمعنا وحتى لو كان معظم الناس يرفضونه الآن على أنه المفهوم الوسيط لا يزال بإمكانه استحضار القلق للكثيرين. لا يزال العديد من المتدينين يستخدمونه لاستحضار الخوف ومع الأطفال على وجه الخصوص يمكن أن يؤثر بشكل غير واعٍ على نفسنا خلال مرحلة البلوغ.
    النقطة هي الآن ، هل هو خطاب كراهية؟ من الواضح أن فولو وآخرين مثله لديهم الحق في التعبير عن هذه الآراء. لم يتم اتهامه بأي جريمة قانونية ومن المشكوك فيه للغاية أنه لن يشرع أي هيئة تشريعية ضد الاقتباس أو إعادة الصياغة الكتاب المقدس.علينا أن نقول إن هناك أي عدد من المدافعين عن الكتاب المقدس الذين يسعون إلى تخفيف أو تفسير العبارات المعادية للمثليين وكراهية الأجانب وكراهية النساء والعبيد في كل من العهدين القديم والجديد. معناه الحقيقي ، هناك مسيحيون لا يأخذون الكتاب المقدس حرفيًا ويمكنهم رفض هذه القواعد البغيضة والقاسية باعتبارها إعلانًا قديمًا لا علاقة له بالظروف الاجتماعية الحالية ، ومع ذلك يصر الكثيرون على أن كل آية في الكتاب المقدس موحى بها من الله وبكلمة الله. يندرج إسرائيل فولاو على ما يبدو في هذه المجموعة الأخيرة.

    لا أعتقد أن مناهج المدافعين تعمل كسياق تاريخي فهذه واضحة ، فهي عبارة عن كتابات لثقافة بدوية صحراوية تعود إلى العصر الحديدي 3000 سنة ، ولم يكن لديهم فهم لعلم نفس المرض العقلي أو العلم أو أسباب المرض أو أي فكرة عن المساواة أو حقوق الإنسان ، ومع ذلك يتم الاستشهاد بها على أنها ذات صلة بثقافة القرن الحادي والعشرين. كما ذكر العهد الجديد ليس مختلفًا ، فهو يواصل تقليد رهاب المثلية الذي لا يمكن تفسيره بعيدًا.
    قد يقول البعض أن Folau له الحق في التعبير عن آرائه حول المثلية الجنسية كمواطن عادي ولكن كيف يمكنه ذلك؟ إنه ليس في الحقيقة مواطنًا عاديًا ولكنه لاعب كرة قدم مشهور وقد وافق بعد كل شيء على عدم الإدلاء بمثل هذه التصريحات أثناء عمله في Rugby Australia. نقض الاتفاق وقد تم طرده ، كما ينبغي.

    كما هو مذكور أعلاه ، فإن التعليقات على المثلية الجنسية لا معنى لها على أي حال وكما ذكر أعلاه ، فقد أشار الكثيرون إلى أن المثلية الجنسية ليست خيارًا كما هو الحال بالنسبة للسرقة القتل والاغتصاب كما يقول فولو والكتاب المقدس. أن تكون قادرًا على القول بحرية أن مثل هذه العبارات معادية للمثليين.
    إذن ماذا يقول التشريع الفيدرالي في أستراليا فيما يتعلق بخطاب الكراهية والتمييز؟ إنهم يندرجون تحت قانون التمييز العنصري لعام 1975 الذي يحظر خطاب الكراهية لأسباب عديدة. والقانون الذي تمت إضافته في منتصف التسعينيات يجعله “غير قانوني بالنسبة لأي شخص القيام بعمل ما ، بخلاف السرية ، من المحتمل أن يكون مهينًا ؛ إهانة أو إذلال أو ترهيب شخص آخر أو مجموعة من الأشخاص ؛ ويتم الفعل بسبب العرق أو اللون أو الأصل القومي أو العرقي للشخص الآخر ، أو بعض أو كل الأشخاص في المجموعة “.
    في يونيو 2018 ، قامت حكومة نيو ساوث ويلز بتعديل قانون جرائم نيو ساوث ويلز ليشمل تشويه سمعة جميع الجماعات التي تنتمي إلى مجتمع الميم(LGBTI) وحددت هذه المجموعات.
    تم توجيه عدد قليل من الاتهامات بموجب أي من هذه الأفعال ، ففي عام 2010 ، تم استخدام الصحفي أندرو بولت في محكمة اتحادية بسبب منشورين على مدونة هيرالد صن الخاصة به في عام 2009 ، وتبين أن بولت خالف قانون التمييز العنصري الفيدرالي لعام 1975. ووجد قاضي المحكمة الفيدرالية أن بولت قام بتشويه سمعة السكان الأصليين عنصريًا من خلال فصل هؤلاء من “البشرة الفاتحة” عن أنهم من السكان الأصليين لفضح وتشويه النظام.

    في النهاية ، أود أن أوضح بضع نقاط ، وإن كانت مختصرة ، فيما يتعلق بمشروع قانون التمييز الديني الموعود به في الانتخابات الفيدرالية الأخيرة ، وكان هذا نتيجة لما يسمى بالتمييز ضد التعبير عن الآراء الدينية. الأشخاص الذين لديهم آراء دينية من التمييز ، ومع ذلك ، فإنه لا يحمي فحسب ، بل يمنح أصحاب الآراء الدينية الحق في التمييز ضد الآخرين ، وبالتالي ؛ لدينا مشروع قانون للتمييز يسمح لمجموعات معينة بالتمييز.

    وفقًا لفرناندا دالستروم ، (انظر أدناه);
    (إذا تم تمرير مشروع القانون ، لا يمكن مقاضاة الشخص الذي يدلي بتصريح له تأثير في تشويه سمعة شخص على أساس جنسه أو توجهه الجنسي أو أي صفة أخرى بموجب قانون مكافحة التمييز إذا كان البيان مستندًا على أساس ديني الاعتقاد ما لم يتم البيان “بقصد خبيث”)

    هذا غريب ، كنت أعتقد أن التشهير ينطوي على نية خبيثة. يبدو أنه ليس كذلك إذا كان رأيًا دينيًا. يسمح هذا القانون أيضًا بالتمييز في التعليم في المدارس القائمة على الدين ، ويمكن فصل أو طرد كل من المعلمين والطلاب على أساس الجنس التوجيه بغض النظر عن أدائهم في الوظيفة أو في المدرسة. يمكن للممارسين الطبيين أيضًا رفض الأدوية والعلاج للمرضى في الظروف التي لديهم اعتراضات دينية عليها. يمكنهم على سبيل المثال ، رفض علاج المرضى من معتقدات دينية أخرى أو عدم وجود معتقدات وعلى أساس الجنس التوجه فقط: هناك أحكام أخرى تسمح بالتمييز في مكان العمل ، ويبدو أن مشروع القانون يتجاوز تشريعات التمييز الأخرى ويمنح الحقوق الدينية امتيازًا.
    أعربت لجنة فكتوريا لتكافؤ الفرص وحقوق الإنسان عن قلقها من أن مشروع القانون يعطي امتيازًا للمعتقد الديني على أشكال الحماية الأخرى من التمييز ، وأنه يقيد حق أصحاب العمل في تعزيز أماكن عمل آمنة وشاملة للجميع ، ويقوض الوصول إلى الخدمات الطبية الشاملة ويوسع دون داعٍ المجال الديني. الاستثناءات بموجب قانون مكافحة التمييز الحالي.
    لم يكن هناك شك في أن مشروع القانون هذا لا يحظى بشعبية ولكن له أيضًا تأثير في حماية مجموعة أقلية على حساب الأغلبية. آمل أن يتلاشى.

  • What is Intelligent Design?

    It probably can be said that Darwin’s proposal of evolution by natural selection as an explanation for the diversity of life on earth is one of the most fruitful scientific theories ever. This idea has spawned many scientific disciplines in addition to the biological sciences, and the discovery of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid which contains genes, and its function of replication that are the building blocks of all organisms has further enriched Darwin’s idea.

    However, there exists a small coterie of those who refer to themselves as scientists who take issue with the entire fundamentals of Darwin’s theory. Most of them are active Christians of the protestant variety (though not exclusively Christian or protestants) argue that evolution by natural selection cannot explain the diversity of life on earth without the intervention of a creator or a supernatural being. Their work is taken up trying to expose anomalies in natural selection. They distinguish themselves from the creationists who, mostly Christians also, reject the idea of natural selection and argue that all natural species were created separately and within the last 10,000 years. Intelligent Design (ID) advocates, accept a limited version of natural selection though they say the complexity of species requires the work of a supernatural intelligent designer. The ID movement have managed to gain significant financial support enabling them to establish institutions to promote their cause. One of the best-known institutes concerns itself with the publication of literature on Intelligent design and advocates to teach it as a science in US state schools is The Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington.

    This presentation is about ‘Intelligent Design’ (ID) whose origins are said to be found in the works of the British clergyman and philosopher William Paley (1743-1805) who produced many works on the natural world – Paley’s argument a precursor to intelligent design appeared in his, Natural Philosophy [1]where he argued for the existence of;

    “… an intelligent designing mind for the contriving and determining of the forms which organized bodies bear”[2]

    Paley was, of course, writing this prior to Darwin though Darwin himself was said to have read this work and was initially impressed by it though later rejecting it specifically in his own work. Paley was also famous for his use of the divine watchmaker analogy to explain the regularity of the solar system.[3] .

    More recently one of the most significant publications on Intelligent Design is titled Of Pandas and People: The central question of Biological origins”. Edited by Charles Thaxton.[4] This volume was produced as a high school text teaching Intelligent Design as a science alongside evolution. The editor Charles Thaxton is a creationist theorist and was an important person in the development of the idea of intelligent design. The volume consists of arguments against evolution by natural selection in favour of a theory of special creation by an intelligent designer. Some of the arguments ID put forward against evolution are mostly the same those of the creationist position and include the usual so called shortcomings – gaps in the fossil record and a lack of transitional forms. The emphasis of ID however is evolution’s inability to explain the abrupt appearance of new fully formed species.

     

    The adoption of the term intelligent Design rather than creationism was basically to avoid using the term God implying ID is not a religion. Recently the Arkansas house of representatives again ( a similar legislation was defeated in 1981) enacted a law virtually accepting ID as a science to be taught alongside evolution. The law was rejected by the State Senate in a close vote. Fortunately it does not now have to be heard by the US supreme court that is now loaded in favour of conservative judges who may be inclined to approve the move which would be a ground-breaking decision. Also, it would dumb down science teaching in the US.

    The belief in Creationism and Intelligent Design and a rejection of evolutionary theory is surprisingly popular in the US and some other countries in the West. In a recent Gallop Poll in the US (2019) 40% of those polled believe in creationism. They believe that God created life roughly within the last 10,000 years and reject evolution as that unproven theory. However, more Americans continue to think that life evolved over millions of years — either with God’s guidance (33%) or, increasingly, without God’s involvement at all (22%).

    In Australia the belief in creationism/Intelligent is surprisingly high though not as high as in the US. A 2011 poll by the Australasian Science magazine found 31% believe in creationism, 27% believe God guided evolution and 42% believe in natural evolution, without God.

    Following is a list of the major arguments of the creationist/intelligent Design movement.

    The Basics of Intelligent Design

    A) Irreducible Complexity

    • Irreducible Complexity is like that of ‘holism’ developed by psychologists who argue that a holistic or cybernetic system is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, if one element of the system breaks down so does the entire system as each element in the system is integrated with all the others and must be present for the system to operate. Evolutionary scientists do not deny complexity in organs but insist that such complexity can be shown, as Dawkins does, to evolve in small steps over considerable time, without the need to postulate a design.The flagella motor of certain bacteria are often use by ID to illustrate irreducible complexity and the need to invoke an intelligent designer to explain its complexity.
    • The flagella motor of bacteria (a sort of tail that dives the organism like an outboard motor) is favourite example that ID advocates constantly trot out to prove their point of irreducible complexity. The motor tail or tails of a single celled bacteria can move it to places at extraordinary speeds to environments that are advantageous to it.[6] The bacteria also can sense the advantageous environment (where it can absorb nutrients/chemicals for example) where it directs itself so is has movement and sensory functions. The bacteria can also change its structure to enable it to reach goals. This minute bacterium is very complex to the point that Intelligent Designers consider it is so irreducibly complex that it could not have evolved in the usual step by step accumulation of small mutations as it has to be a fully functioning system and can’t function as it does in an incomplete form as evolutionary theory advocates it was. Thus, it must have been created as a fully functioning system – by the supernatural designer.
    Bacteria showing flagella

    The solution to this so-called anomaly was in fact partially given by Darwin himself in that accumulation of function is not the only track evolution follows it also involves, as shown in many examples, by fundamental changes in function. This seems not to be taken into account by ID advocates. Whilst biologists agree it is the case that the bacteria in question requires all its parts to be functioning to operate as it does, they argue that evolution has many examples of changes in function as well as complexity. Thus, organs evolved for one function can change to perform another. Thus, before evolving onto its current form such bacteria it may have evolved from an ancestor whose function was altered in later forms.

    Penguin Wings

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    Penguin Swimming

    To make this notion of evolution by means of change of function clearer we can look at the functional changes in wing function in birds. Wings evolved in birds and enabled them to take flight in the air, however in the case of a penguin its wings changed function to serve as flippers to swim (or fly) through the water not the air. The wings serve as flippers though they are, anatomically, wings and as birds their ancestry was through evolution as a wing, an organ that allowed many organisms to fly in the air. The penguin’s ancestor probably was able to fly in the air and maybe also swim as is evident in some birds currently. In some sea birds such as the cormorant the wings serve both as organs of flight and as flippers to fly through the water and they are adapted to do both though cormorants after swimming have to dry out their wings after diving in the water before they can fly.

    Vestigial Organs

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Flightless-commorant-10.jpg
    Galapagos Flightless Cormorant Drying its Wings

    A species of cormorant from the Galapagos (this is pointed out by Darwin) is the flightless as its wings have atrophied (they are referred to as vestigial organs) to almost useless appendages, but it is a consummate swimmer and has developed very strong unusually large webbed feet that propel it strongly through water and it appears to be able to hold its breath for a considerable time. This is unlike the penguin that has changed the wing function to that of a flipper while in the case of the Galapagos cormorant the webbed feet have increased strength to enable ‘flight’ through water. [7]  The vestigial wing has not disappeared as it appears not to be too much of a limitation for survival though some biologists find it serves some function in swimming. However, vestigial organs are difficult for ID advocates as they indicate faulty design.

     

     

     

     

     

    B. Intelligent design does not conform to the accepted scientific methodology of Methodological Naturalism

    It is important to make the point that both creationism and Intelligent Design break the accepted rule of scientific methodology, called Methodological Naturalism that is accepted implicitly by most scientists. It is that science is a study of the natural world by natural means and it cannot consider supernatural causes, divine intervention, or supernatural agency as an explanatory principle. Most scientists would agree (even many of those who are followers of a religion) that scientific explanations restrict themselves to the natural world. The reason is that supernatural cause is not an empirical phenomena and cannot be observed, measured, or recorded and if invoked would break a convention that has distinguished science from other forms of knowledge. [8]

    Clearly, advocates of creationism and Intelligent design disagree with this methodological principle. Stephen Myer of the Discovery Institute, (a sort of ID think tank) in a paper defending criticism of his position takes issue with the principle of Methodological Naturalism.[9]He claims (correctly) that normal science deliberately excludes reference to the supernatural and this is a problem for him as he claims (and most scientists disagree with him) certain phenomena can only be explained by supernatural means and that the convention of methodological naturalism unfairly excludes his own explanation of the explosion of life forms in the Cambrian period that he considers can only be explained by invoking supernatural intervention. (Meyer’s contention of a Cambrian explosion has now been rejected by most scientists though Meyer rejects this claim). I think Meyer misses the point as science has always operated on the basis of excluding supernatural explanations and it has worked by doing just that. He is correct in pointing out that many scientists are religious, however few if any of them refer to supernatural causes and explanations in their scientific practice. Even going back to Newton who was certainly a committed Christian and even claimed he was doing god’s work did not use supernatural cause to explain his theory of gravity.

    Whilst there are other critiques of both creationism and its modern form of intelligent design I will allude to in the next section, as a final comment it has to be said that neither position shows it can be referred to as scientific. They propose a designer in the places where they consider evolutionary theory is deficient and can’t be explained by an evolutionary process (the God of the gaps). In fact most of the work they do is to find limitations to evolution without undertaking much research of their own: basically this is due to the theory itself being limited in generating hypotheses to test. They are not able, or don’t consider it necessary, to provide evidence on the nature of the designer. The proposal of a divine designer appears also to suggest that no mistakes are made, and every design is perfect. This is far from the facts as we have seen as they suggest very imperfect or flawed design, and this for a non-material super intelligence?

    Another point to make about supernatural intervention is that ID advocates only focuses on cases they consider can’t be explained by evolutionary theory. Are they implying that an intelligent designer has to be invoked only in those instances where evolutionary theory is deficient? In those cases where evolutionary theory provides satisfactory answers is an intelligent designer still at work? What is the role of a designer in these cases; does the ID just let nature take its course in these cases? ? Thus logically it would follow that ID advocates have to also explain the the role of a supernatural intelligence in all cases even those that can be answered without invoking supernatural intervention. Is it not the case that if a supernatural intelligence can explain everything relating to the diversity of life then we do not need science at all? This is the conclusion that some creationists support – evolution is a myth as all life was created by supernatural forces in10,000 years, we need no further explanation than that.

    In the next section I will present an account of two highly evolved species both of whom have extremely sophisticated anatomical and sensory adaptations. I hope this will emphasis the raw nature of evolution its lack of a designing (and a beneficent) intelligence.

    The Cheetah and the Impala

    The following is inspired from an example in Richard Dawkin’s book “The Greatest Show on Earth’, of what he refers to as the arms race between the evolution of the cheetah and its prey (gazelles). This interaction raises issues relating to ID’s notion of God’s purposes in design.

    The Cheetah

    To observe the beauty of a cheetah and to see it in action makes it difficult not to speak of a perfect design. It is built for speed and every part of the animal is modified to that end. It is the fastest of all land animals able to reaches 96-127Kph.

    Cheetah

    The cheetah is a member of the family of big cats though it is quite distinct from the more robust Panthera species that includes the Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard (now a distinct species) and the Jaguar. Anatomically it is structured for speed rather than brute strength characteristic of the Panthera species. It is now rare in Africa and is found in east and North Africa there is also a very rare Asiatic species though few are still are to be found in the wild – some hundreds in Iran and some perhaps in India though this latter is disputed.

    Anatomically and physiologically the cheetah is built for speed. It is the greyhound of the big cat family, being the same size and weight as the leopard but with a much sleeker aerodynamic appearance; small head and a very flexible elastic spine allowing it to make bounds of 3 – 7 metres, it has also a large long rudder like tail that serves as a sort of counterbalance assisting it to maintain balance and change direction at high speeds. Its paws a semi retractable unlike other members of the big cat family whose claws are fully retractable this feature allows the cheetah more traction. Though slim in body it has a deep chest to accommodate a extra-large heart and lungs with wide nostrils that allow a fast flow of air and increased oxygen intake for explosive speed. It also has exceptional sight compared even with the larger cats.

    However, as is common in evolution, advantages are accompanied by limitations. It can only maintain bursts of speed for minutes as it can overheat very quickly and must rest after this time to recover. Its slim build and small head result in limitations in strength, it is easily killed by lions if they are caught unawares. It also has a weaker bite with few smaller teeth than the other cats and can only overcome smaller prey such as gazelles. Also, it can’t climb as can a leopard to escape a possible predator.

    I would like at this point to raise the issue of design in relation to the cheetah. It is as indicated not a perfect design there are inbuilt weaknesses and disadvantages because of its advantages of speed. Is it possible that a human designer could do better? The question also arises relating to the purpose of the cheetah’s design as this is crucial to human design planning. In evolutionary terms, the purpose of the cheetah’s speed is clear to survive and to survive it needs to be fast as its prey are basically antelopes and other small prey who have evolved to survive as well and outwit the cheetah. A major prey of cheetah’s are smaller members of the antelope family gazelles. I will now address the features of the largest of the cheetah’s prey and equally magnificent, the Impala

    The Impala

     

     

    The Impala is a member of the Antelope family and it is only found in Southern and part of Eastern Africa. It is probably the largest prey of the cheetahs and can reach 92 centimetres (nearly 3 feet) at the shoulder and up to 80 kg (168 pounds) in weight. Males have impressive horns up to 1 metre. There are two species the Black Faced Impala being significantly larger than that shown above. The impala’s physical abilities are as impressive as that of the cheetahs. It has two types of features in speed that are impressive – it can jump up to 3 metres (9.8 ft), over vegetation and even other impala, covering distances of up to 10 metres (33 ft); the other type of leap involves  jumps (called stotting) in which the animal lands on its forelegs, moves its hind legs mid-air in a kicking fashion, lands on all fours and then rebounds and it can change direction fast in different directions. Of all the antelopes it is the fastest and highest leaper.

    Impala

    One of the Impalas’ major predators is the cheetah which can run faster and change directions almost as effectively though Lions, leopards and hyenas catch them if they surprised them unawares. While the cheetah can run faster the impala has more staying power and can outdistance a cheetah if alerted soon enough. The impala has a very acute sense of smell and hearing and a healthy adult Impala if alerted of the presence of a predator is almost impossible to catch.

    Richard Dawkins talks of an evolutionary arms race between the cheetah and the sleek small members of the antelope family especially the Impala that has evolved traits of speed and other senses that enable them to mostly out run and outwit fast predators such as cheetahs. The cheetah’s traits of speed and maneuverability must keep up with that of the impalas. The cheetah’s success in running down impalas is only successful infrequently and, most chases end in failure. The “arms race” analogy is apt as each animal, the cheetah and the impala, have an evolutionary history of each keeping one step ahead of each other. He balance is crucial as if one achieves an advantage then there is imbalance to the detriment of both.

    I think it is relevant to ask what purpose does this arms race serve an intelligent designer? Is the designer conveying some sort of message to us – what is it? Is the designer supporting the interest of the Impala or the Cheetah? Or is he simply playing a game?

    The ‘arms race’ analogy is perfectly in line with evolutionary expectations. The genes of both species are being passed on. It is at some cost to individuals of both species. Healthy impalas may escape predation for a time though those who grow old, become disabled and the young are more prone to be taken. The same applies to the cheetah individuals who are old, sick or disabled and especially cubs are vulnerable with only about ten percent surviving to maturity. It is in a sense a precarious existence for both species, as it was for early humans, but does the creator care? Why does the benevolent creator allow this misery to prevail for most species most of the time?

    Is this the answer we must accept?

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    So are My ways higher than your ways

    And My thoughts than your thoughts.[10]

    So there is an explanation we humans are not permitted to know about.

     

     

    It is up to us human beings not gods to act to preserve the magnificence of the diversity of life and ensure the survival of species.


    [1] Paley, William (1809), Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (12th ed.), London: J. Faulder

    [2] Retrieved 13/5/21 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Paley

    [3] Richard Dawkin’s ’The Blind Watchmaker’ was inspired by the Paley watchmaker analogy

    [4] Thaxton Charles (1989) (2nd edition 1993) Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins, Foundation for Thought and Ethics TX USA

    [5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X1iwLqM2t0 Retrieved 15/5/21

    [6] See https://research.csiro.au/synthetic-biology-fsp/evolution-or-intelligent-design-the-story-of-the-bacterial-flagellar-motor/ Retrieved 14/5/21

    [7] The photo shows a Galapagos cormorant drying out its wings though it doesn’t need to, it is a function of its previous ancestry as a flying bird which remains as a habit.   

    [8] This is an excellent and clear paper on both methodological and philosophical naturalism https://infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html accessed 19/5/21

    [9] https://biologos.org/series/reviewing-darwins-doubt/articles/reviewing-darwins-doubt-response-by-stephen-meyer accessed 15.5.21

     

     

     

     

  • Scepticism and Evidence

    As indicated in previous blogs I am here presenting an overview on the nature of evidence. It is important to understand what constitutes evidence for a sceptic as this is what we turn to for validation of claims and assertions. The topic is quite complicated to cover as there is so much material around, I can only cover what is relevant to an everyday sceptic which I am assuming most of us are. Evidence is necessary if the claim or assertion is either complex, questionable, or maybe counterintuitive – however the claimant is obliged to supply the evidence. If they can’t supply evidence, then we can validly reject the claim. In many cases the evidence is weak, taken from a questionable source, – so sometimes the evidence itself needs checking.  We don’t really expect the everyday sceptic to make such complicated checks, but often other experts make evaluations that are available so it’s a matter of checking all sources.

    As we have said the question of the nature of evidence or what constitutes evidence is central to the practice of scepticism. However, there appears to me to be a considerable lack of knowledge and even misinformation on what constitutes evidence. Often you find, especially in religious blogs, that quotation from some authority is regarded as sufficient. Religious blogs tend to use the bible or some other religious text as evidence to support their assertions. As I have said in other blogs it is not acceptable to support a claim by reference to statements made by the author of the claim. This is common in religious texts as they hold to the assumption that the bible is the literal word of God and you can’t quote a greater authority. This is circular and unacceptable for many reasons including the lack of evidence indicating that the bible is the literal word of god. Also, and obviously, the bible and biblical writers are biased in favour of their own assertions. If you’re going to use authorities, then you try to use disinterested authorities who have no bias either way. My point is that a sceptic not only has to demand evidence to support a proposition, but they also must check that evidence.

    It is important for us to understand that we don’t have to check for evidence for all that we do in everyday life as we would end up doing nothing but checking evidence. But it is important to check assertions or claims that are controversial or otherwise important for us. Below I have listed different types of evidence as the type of evidence used depends on the nature of the claim.

    What are the essential features of valid evidence?

    I want to outline several the important features of evidence that are required by a sceptical stance. The discussion is not by any means exhaustive of the topic as there are several issues that we will not cover. Rather my aim is to present the nature and forms of evidence in as simple a form as I can.

    1. Avoid Bias

    A crucial feature of all evidence is that it is objective, meaning not subjective such as unsupported claims by authorities or personal views. To be objective means the evidence lacks bias or the favouring of a certain result over another. The important aspect of this is that bias is often unconscious and the researcher may not be aware of their own bias. To counteract this, science in general aims to avoid bias by the adoption of methods that eliminate its possibility, in experimental science double-blind trails of medication are an example of this as the researcher has no idea of who is getting what. In fact, even outside of experimental science researchers of all stripes aim to eliminate bias.

    2 Repeatability

    This is a demand for example, that a repeat of the experiment will come up with the same result. This is essential in experimental science – if a different result is derived from a repeat of the experiment then the finding is seen as questionable.

    Types of evidence

    Evidence requirements vary according to the science or nature of the claims or assertions made.

    1. Experimental evidence

    An experiment is a procedure (or a method) conducted under controlled conditions that enables one to determine the truth or otherwise of a hypothesis or assertion. Findings of an experiment are presented as a statistical analysis of the data acquired. Thus in medical science, for example, an experiment on the effectiveness of blood pressure medication may involve providing the medication to a selected group of individuals and a placebo (e.g a pill that does not contain the medication but looks like the ones that do) to a second (control) group in controlled conditions. The outcome sought is whether the group taking the medication experienced a drop in blood pressure whilst no such change was recorded for those receiving the placebo (the control group). These experiments can also be so constituted to show difference in gender, age etc. The value of the experimental approach is that it avoids bias by the experimenter by using controlled conditions.

    b non-experimental evidence

    This may also be what can be referred to as qualitative research, (though many scientists don’t like that term nowadays as many research projects include elements that can be referred to as both quantitative and qualitative). The subject matter of this research is not only the natural world but the world of customs, practices, values, viewpoints, and ways of thinking. This is research that seeks subjective information on individual’s opinions, choices, voting orientation and so on. It uses questionnaires, telephone polls, interviews to ascertain personal views. The information is collected and analysed mostly statistically to ascertain such information as trends in fashion, in thinking, people’s voting intentions, purchasing practices and opinions on certain issues. Statistical procedures are often used to collect data from interviews, polls, questionnaires Such research also has to beware of bias because in this area bias is sometimes harder to detect than in natural science research. The repeatability criteria can be checked by comparisons with other similar research for consistency etc.

    C Anecdotal Evidence

    Things to Know About Anecdotal evidence - YouTube

    An anecdote is a story told by an individual about themselves; of an event that they experienced. It is sometimes referred to as a testimony in which the individual talks about such personal experiences. Normally, It is a personal experience story that another person cannot corroborate. For example, advertisements for certain products often include testimonials from people who claim they have successfully used the product. The goal of such testimonials is to encourage others to buy the product.

    Anecdotal evidence is mostly unreliable in scientific studies as there is no way of objectively checking the story. One has to exercise a sceptical approach to advertisements and other media that contain testimonials as they are biased.

    However, anecdotal evidence can be used as data in certain studies that ask for personal views or opinions. In these studies researchers may ask questions about personal views from a group of randomly selected individuals. Statistical techniques can be used to collate the data collected and then it can be analysed for trends and differences between individual groups such as by age, gender and so on.

    In courts witnesses give evidence that is mostly anecdotal. It is the responsibility of defense lawyers to question witnesses about the evidence given to bring out any biases, forgotten facts, even lies. All this is done under oath so lies and deliberate fabrications can be regarded as perjury, a crime  that can result in jail terms.

    d. Legal evidence

    Documents and expert witness testimony can provide legal evidence. I will not deal in detail with all aspects of legal evidence as information is available on the web. I want instead to address the way we should deal with legal evidence as sceptics. Often legal decisions are met with considerable controversy mostly because there is considerable ignorance by the public of court processes and the use of evidence in convicting.

    In courts there are rules of what counts as evidence (are admissible) in legal proceedings, as well as the quality and quantity of evidence that are necessary to fulfill the legal burden of proof. The types of legal evidence differ from scientific evidence somewhat. Testimony is evidence gathered from individuals that have observed the crime or have some personal knowledge of the person charged. The testimony is normally also in written form and signed in front of witnesses and given under oath. The witness can be charged with perjury if found to be lying. Types of legal evidence as well as testimony include documentary evidence, and scientific evidence. Expert witnesses can testify to the legitimacy of, for example, DNA samples. The courts can also use physical evidence (e.g. objects such as knives, guns).

    The point I wanted to make here for an ordinary sceptical approach, the judge or jury making the judgment of guilt or otherwise must be convinced that the evidence indicates that the crime was committed beyond reasonable doubt.  Such a requirement is to protect an innocent person from being charged with a crime they did not commit. Reasonable doubt is a recognition that there was some doubt in the evidence given that they might not have committed the crime for which they were charged. Sometimes for the ordinary person in the street this may appear unfair as the general view is that the person charged was guilty. It is the case that the general view reflected in the media and especially social media is that the courts were wrong and biased or influenced by some authority.

    To illustrate this, I will look at a recent case in Australia. This was trial of Cardinal Pell arguably the most senior catholic in the world accused of a sex crime. In fact, of two sex crimes on two young boys a month apart. The crimes were said to be committed in the same robing room (the sacristy) of the church where the cardinal was officiating. Evidence was taken from the victim of one of the ‘crimes’ the other victim unfortunately had committed suicide. The prosecution claimed that after the service the cardinal slipped away from the procession and entered the sacristy saw two boys there and managed to sexually assault them. The evidence from the surviving victim was said to be compelling however other witnesses such as the churches’ priest testified that the cardinal could not have committed the crimes as he was never alone and was in his company all the time when the crimes were supposed to have been committed. Despite this claim by the priest, the jury found the cardinal guilty and he was jailed. The case was subsequently appealed to the state Court of Appeal of three judges with two of them upholding the jury verdict the third arguing that there was reasonable doubt that the crime was not committed.

    Subsequently, the case was appealed to the High Court of Australia the highest court in the land. They found unanimously (all 7 judges agreed) to many people’s surprise that there was indeed a reasonable doubt that the cardinal may not have committed the crimes due to the evidence that he was in the company of people all the time. The high court found that the victims account was credible but that the appeal court (and the County Court) had virtually disregarded evidence from those accompanying the cardinal at the time of the ’crimes’. Without going into detail, as the case is well covered by media, the high court found basically that too much credence was given the victims testimony while they did not take fully into account other evidence that the cardinal could not have committed the crimes. The case was quashed, and the cardinal was out of jail.

    It was not found by the court that the cardinal did not commit the crimes, but the evidence was not adequate to convict him – beyond reasonable doubt.  The high Court decision was very controversial dividing the community. There were those who considered Justice was done and the cardinal was innocent. Others suggested conspiracies by the high court. It was claimed the judges were biased in favour of the cardinal as they were all Roman Catholics. Most of the social internet media considered him guilty.

    What does a sceptic do in this case? A sceptic must be logical and make a judgement on what is available that is reliable. Let’s look at this.  

    On reading the Judges decisions they were remarkably in agreement – all seven of them tended to note the same inadequacies of judgement. Secondly, I do not think the judges are all Catholics though I was unable to check this fully. However, my view is that if there was bias it could be bias in both directions for and against the cardinal.

    This decision of the high court does not mean that the cardinal was innocent of the crimes but that in view of the evidence presented there was a reasonable doubt that he was not. We must be satisfied with that. This tells us something about evidence. That is it is not 100% conclusive. In most cases some doubt remains as evidence basically rules out conclusions rather than prove them.

    To conclude this presentation, I will mention briefly a relatively new approach to evidence in the areas of professional practice.

    Evidence based practice (EBP)

    The beginnings of this approach can be traced back to the 1990’s in medical practice where is was known as Medical Based Practice. It is a process of transferring new medical research onto clinical practice. It was based on the view that medical practitioners and other health professional did not always translate new research finding about medication and practice approaches on the newest scientific evidence.

    EBP came about after research indicated that many health practitioners were caught up in older practices and did not seek to integrate new research into best practice.  The idea is that new research can provide information or data that has relevance for professional practice and shows the best outcomes for users, patients and clients. Information presented by research cannot automatically translate into practice or clinical decision making but provide the latest information be used by professionals to enhance their practice and outcomes for patients. Evidence does not make or provide decisions or suggest outcomes for specific patients it simply provides the latest data on which such decisions can be based. A number methodologies have been developed to guide the translation of data into specific contexts. [1]

    Two new forms of refereed articles have been developed for those who may not have the resources or time to look at all the research. The first is referred to as ‘systematic reviews’. Briefly these are articles that review the research literature on certain specific issues relevant to practice. They begin by setting up a research question (e.g. what is the outcome for using medication x and/or y for reducing symptoms of blood pressure?). The process involves using filters to eliminate research that is not fully relevant to the questions. Thus, they may sift out outdated research, only look at certain age groups and so on. Also, they look at the research methodology used and have a hierarchy of methodologies with random control trials at the top of the list. This latter, however, may not apply to qualitative type research that cannot use Random Controlled Trials, RCT’s.  It may result in the analyses of 30 articles from an original 200. They become a rich resource as professionals can see precisely what criteria was used for the analysis. Normally, the analysis is carried out by experienced researchers. Also, it is not difficult for non-professionals such as us ordinary sceptics to access and use these reviews. I will not go into this in detail but some RCT’s fall into a category of Meta-Analysis where the combined effects of studies are analysed. [2]

    We will probably have to further address the nature of evidence in future presentations but hopefully we can now get started when we are confronted by some unsupported claim.


    [1][1] See https://www.nomanis.com.au/single-post/what-does-evidence-based-practice-mean-in-education-in-2019

    [2] See https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33247016/

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