Worthwhile reading

I was updating my blogroll with new links when I realised that I had never actually made a post about them in the first place. You can see them along the side of this blog and it’s a collection of some of the sites that I follow. I’ve excluded news sites so these are usually blogs of individuals or small groups.

3 Quarks Daily
This is the closes to a news site of all of them but it’s not news. It shares a wide variety of posts from all over the internet, including some original pieces, covering science, art, philosophy and politics. chances are there will always be some content of interest here. Continue reading

Must we choose animals or science?

Lab rat (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

You might have heard about it already but, in April, animal rights activists broke into an Italian lab and released a number of lab animals. All it really accomplished was to slow down research and the animals will almost certainly die in the wild. This is an example of the wrong way to protest animal experiments. That’s not to say I don’t sympathise but I don’t think their methods are particularly constructive. Continue reading

Theism versus atheism: Uninspiring VC Open Lecture

John Lennox (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Last Tuesday I attended the Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture at UCT. The topic was “A Matter of Gravity – God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking” and given by Oxford mathematician Professor John Lennox. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to see the theistic side being well-presented by a man who was highly educated and had debated Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, amongst others. Overall, I found myself disappointed by what didn’t strike me as a particular good lecture. You can read the UCT summary, as well as get links to the recording, over here. Continue reading

Western laws constricting free speech

There is one aspect of the US that I particularly admire and that is their protection of free speech due to the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Unfortunately that protection is not always available to people in other Western countries, with the UK having a number of high-profile incidents where citizens have been arrested for things that they’ve said. Continue reading

Updates and Quick Links

I do have plans for a proper post soon but I was hoping to receive an email in connection with it. In the meantime here are a few little things to keep you occupied.

In August I described the violence in Burma that left 90 people dead and forced a further 100 000 from their homes. A few days ago I noticed the country was back in the news with another 22 000, mostly Muslims, displaced in fresh violence. Continue reading

Quick links: Vegetarianism

Here’s a blog post containing a thought experiment about the ethics of vegetarianism that I found quite interesting. It was also written by a watcher of my blog; this blog is small enough that I do at least glance at each person who watches me. You are all important to me. I’d recommend reading the link but here’s a really condensed version of what it says.

If you were on one of two train tracks and were told continuing on your current would result in you hitting and killing a pig but you could change tracks to one where you would hit and kill a bean plant, most people would rather hit the plant. That’s an ethical decision where most people value animals more than plants. This is analogous to the situation in a shopping centre where you have the option of either buying ham or beans yet in that situation people do not go for the beans as often. This means at some point there is an inconsistency in the ethics of those people that would eat meat rather than plants but still avoid killing an animal when food is removed from the equation.

The other link I’ll share is a more practical one. Clean drinking water is a fairly rare commodity, particularly in Africa. A vegetarian diet can be produced with less water than a meat-based diet. This means become vegetarian (or at least reducing the amount of meat eaten) would have benefits with regard to water availability. This article shares that some water scientists are suggesting that mankind will be forced to follow a primarily vegetarian diet by 2050 in order for there to be sufficient water for everyone.

Faculty bioethics day 1/2

Early this week (correction: last week. I started writing this last week but forgot to update the wording) I attended the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Bioethics Day. I found the talks very interesting and, at times, confusing. I won’t deny that there were some points that I just did not understand but I at least take comfort in that many other people, I think all my academic seniors, seemed just as confused. There were four talks in three sections, namely research ethics, professionalism and circumcision. I want to share, very briefly, what was said.

I was going to share everything in a single post but it’s actually quite a bit of effort writing everything up and I’ve been tired recently so I’ve broken it down a bit. I’ll post two talks now and the next two later. Continue reading

Petition for personal autonomy in South Africa

Way back in my first blog post I tried to make the point that rights were something that could not be taken from you but which you could relinquish voluntarily. This was because although they are afforded to empower each individual to live their own life to force people to abide by certain rights when they do not want them actually undermines their entire purpose. There were a few possible cases which I had in mind when I wrote that and I want to say a little bit more about one of them today, the right for someone to choose when they want to end their life. Continue reading