May 162012

The Greek economy is a tiny fraction (2%?) of that of the eurozone. The economy of the eurozone is a fraction of the global economy. The population of Greece is about 11 million, a small faction of 1% of the population of the world. Yet a democratic election in Greece is feared in financial circles across the world! The global impact of Greece exiting from the euro would be many times the size of the Greek economy. Politicians and economists want Greeks to take the rest of the world into account when they vote. But that is really a contradiction . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 302012

If there really are people whose mission is to see religion eliminated across the world, I am not one of them. My vision is much more limited. I want everyone to realise that religions are hobbies and to treat them as such. If this is achieved, most of the conflict caused by the existence of religions will disappear, and atheists and followers of all religions should be able to coexist reasonably peacefully. After all, other hobbies can coexist reasonably peacefully (unless they have double-booked the meeting room!) By any plausible definition of “hobby”, religions (more specifically “religious practices”) really are . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 212012
Public sector workers don't really pay tax!

See below for what I’m not saying here! This post is in response to people who justify the number of public sector workers by using the argument: “public sector workers pay their taxes which contribute to the public purse”. No – public sector workers do not contribute to the public purse (consolidated fund)! What is the difference between the following payment methods for a public sector worker for a given number of hours? Salary £1000, income tax £200. Salary £900, income tax £100. Salary £800, income tax £0. Essentially, no difference. They all draw £800 from the public purse. The . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 202012
In praise of cartoons about Islam

This is also in praise of cartoons about other religions! But a cartoon about Muhammad has been in the news recently: Pharyngula: This is getting ridiculous Butterflies and Wheels: More from the bully boyz BBC: Muhammad cartoon row leads to resignation NSS: Students defend freedom of expression at University College London Here is the cartoon. (I’ll show it to emphasise how silly it is to try to censor something like this!) What is all the fuss about? Some might think that the fuss is because it suggests that Muhammad drinks alcohol in a pub alongside Jesus. But no-one on the . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 302011

I normally stay out of internet wars, but this one has progressed well beyond the point that I can remain silent. Sometimes you just have to stand up and be counted. The details are well covered elsewhere: By Rebecca Watson: Mom, Don’t Read This By PZ Myers: Haters gotta hate By Ophelia Benson: What misogynists call outspoken women and many others I hadn’t thought that supposedly rational people would even think such nasty things. But publishing those views, in such a sustained and apparently coordinated manner, suggests that “enlightenment” is not an aspiration for those people. That is the biggest . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 262011

I recently posted Silly review by Colin Tudge of “The Magic of Reality”. In there I quoted from an older article of his: Microscopes have no morals (Guardian, 2003): It is often said that science answers “how” questions while religion asks “why”, but that is simplistic. The greater point lies in their scope. Religion, properly conceived, attempts to provide an account of all there is: the most complete narrative that human beings are capable of. Science, by contrast, is – as the British zoologist Sir Peter Medawar put the matter – “the art of the soluble”. It addresses only those . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 132011

I started this blog exactly 7 weeks ago. I wasn’t sure then what I would want to say, so initial choices of Categories and so on were guesses. I’ve gradually adapted the blog to align better with experience so far. I have a sort of wistful desire for a fancy name, perhaps a bit esoteric. Examples include: “Pharyngula“; “Butterflies and wheels“; “Lacrimae Rerum“. But I don’t have that sort of imagination. So I started with “Barry Pearson’s blog”, then because that was too formal, settled on “Barry’s blog” until I can find a better name. (I don’t appear to be . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 112011
We are winning some battles in the "war for enlightenment"

I follow Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, for good reason. He recently posted Shocking: Young Americans Have a More Favorable View of Atheists Than Senior Citizens Do, drawing attention to an important survey (What It Means to Be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America Ten Years After 9/11) which showed increased acceptance of atheists in the USA. His post concentrated on the attitude towards atheists. But the diagram he used shows much more: This isn’t merely about attitude towards atheists. This is about Enlightenment. The younger generation is more Enlightened that the older one. We are engaged in a . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 282011

I used the term “Militant enlightenment” in a recent post. (I view “enlightenment” as more comprehensive and hence more important than simply “atheism”). Needless to say, it turns out not to be original. Google for “Militant enlightenment”. Oh, well! At least it is an excuse to show this relevant video, one of my YouTube favourites: The … video was retrieved from the Richard Dawkins foundation after a government raid…. … “Militant Atheist” is no longer a figure of speech…. However, this spiritual war will be different. Numbers may be on the side of religion, but Richard Dawkins is using evil . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 262011

Richard Dawkins and Paula Kirby have struck again! They have independently launched attacks on the competence of Texas governor and Republican candidate Rick Perry. Richard Dawkins: Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact. Paula Kirby: Evolution threatens Christianity. Is this wise? Jamie L. Vernon thinks not, (via PZ Myers). He appears to be an “accommodationist”, like Chris Mooney. They are not arguing with the fact of evolution. (They are not that stupid). They simply don’t understand the nature of the discourse. See an earlier comment of mine at We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]