Editorial: Oakland’s anti-trust lawsuit a potential NFL game-changer

first_imgFootball fans across the country should welcome Oakland’s lawsuit challenging the monopolistic practices of the NFL and its 32 teams.It won’t keep the Raiders in the East Bay, but frankly they’ve outstayed their welcome. However, if the city prevails, other cities would have stronger negotiating power to hold onto their teams.And Oakland might recover money to help pay off about $80 million of debt the Raiders are leaving behind for taxpayers. The money was used for publicly funded …last_img read more

Science Cannot Defend Moral Relativism

first_imgIf morality evolves, then why do some scientists cast judgment?Science reporters occasionally make the case for moral relativism: the idea that moral judgments can vary from culture to culture, depending on what the people in a culture were taught is right or wrong. Live Science, for instance, teaches that “Right or Wrong: How You Judge Others Depends on Your Culture.” But in other articles, they will promote abortion rights, gay rights and other moral questions in an absolutist manner (e.g., 3/13/16).In another case, PNAS published results of surveys about whether people take reason into account when they make moral judgments. “It is widely considered a universal feature of human moral psychology that reasons for actions are taken into account in most moral judgments,” the summary begins. “However, most evidence for this moral intent hypothesis comes from large-scale industrialized societies.” So who’s right? Aren’t hunter-gatherers closer to the pristine evolved state of Homo sapiens? Isn’t industrialized society a recent anomaly? If they believe that, it undercuts their reason for writing this paper, since natural selection considered our ancestors fully fit without “reasons for actions” for millions of years, according to consensus theory.Modern secular science is in a hopeless dilemma. Evolutionary scientists and their reporters teach that morality evolved, but want to speak with authority about right and wrong. Some recent examples:“Oregon’s new birth control law increases access, but more still to be done” (Science Daily). The headline makes a moral judgment on a divisive issue that is currently pitting the Obama Administration against the Little Sisters of the Poor (and other religious institutions) in an important case facing a deeply divided Supreme Court. Yet the academics behind the article say, “This law is a step forward for contraceptive access.”“‘Abortion Pill’ Gets New Label: 5 Things to Know About Mifepristone” (Live Science). Try as she does to present a straightforward, factual explanation of the infamous abortion pill, Rachael Rettner delivers a list of “5 things to know” that omits the very most important aspect: whether the pill causes a murder of an unborn human baby. Some of the facts and terms are useful to know, but one cannot be neutral on a moral issue this important that is dividing the country and the world. She ends by focusing only on the potential risks and side effects for the mother, totally omitting reference to the other human being inside of her. You can’t find the words baby, unborn, or even fetus in the article.“Breeding humans: Utopias from the early modern period” (Science Daily). The opening sentences show moral relativism: “The idea to improve humans and to optimise procreation emerged long before genetic engineering. As far back as the 18th century, concepts did exist that appear unthinkable from the modern perspective.” But if it wasn’t unthinkable for them, was it morally right?Sometimes Big Science can’t handle the moral hot potatoes. There was the notorious “evolution of rape” controversy a few years ago (7/18/03). More recently, scientists published in PNAS a defense of polygyny (plural marriage) in some contexts as healthy for children, or at least not harmful. That was too much for a couple of sociologists who responded in PNAS with criticism of the claim, not so much on grounds that polygyny is “immoral” as to argue that the conclusions were not supported by the data. “Additional evidence could be collected,” Rieger and Wagner say, “about cowives and inheritance conflicts and longitudinal nutritional and educational outcomes for children of polygynous families to gauge whether polygyny is really harmful for children in the long run.” Gauging harm is a moral question.To that, the original authors stuck to their guns. In PNAS, they defended their opinion on purely pragmatic grounds (e.g., “our demonstration that (male-headed) polygynous households are relatively food secure and wealthy compared with monogamous households.” But is their final rationale neutral? “In studying ‘harmful cultural practices’ it is vital that we apply equivalent standards of evidence independent of whether results meet or contradict conventional expectation.”But if it’s merely a question of conventions, those are relative. It’s clearly conventional to the families in Tanzania. How does one measure what is harmful? If it is harmful to children but not their polygamous father, why don’t his values trump those of his children?Let’s apply the scientists’ relativistic morality back on themselves. Is it just a convention to study other human tribes and report on them in journals? What would they say if ISIS bombed their labs? Would that just be an Islamic cultural convention? We can continue this line of thinking on the earlier stories. Would it have been Rachael Rettner’s mother’s “convention” to take the abortion pill, preventing Rachael’s embryonic self from being born? Is our process of reasoning about one another’s intentions to make moral judgments an illusion from our evolutionary past? That destroys both reason and morality, robbing them of any foundation. If a society breeds humans, will those humans have free will if they disagree with the morality of breeding humans?Moral relativism has a way of biting the ones who promote it.Everybody has a worldview, even the person who says he has no worldview. Everyone espouses a philosophy, even those who say philosophy is dumb or worthless. Nobody can escape making moral judgments and believing his or her judgments are justified, even the one who says morality is relative. To see why this must be true, ask each of these scientists if they feel their own writings and research are justifiable. If they say no or balk, they become purveyors of nonsense.The only escape from the self-refuting trap of moral relativism is to believe in moral absolutes. And the only One who can give us moral absolutes is a timeless, omniscient, holy Creator. Then, the project of moral judgments consists of comparing one’s assertions to the standard. Unless morality is immutable, it is not moral. The same goes for truth. (Visited 159 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA, Germany to improve water

first_imgA diagram of the workings of the communal water house, which is being piloted in the small Karoo town of Jansenville, Eastern Cape. Dignitaries at the sod-turning ceremony held in July 2008 in Jansenville. The commemorative plaque unveiled by The Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, and HisExcellency the German Ambassador to South Africa, Dieter Haller. The community will benefit from access to better quality water. (All images: Communal Water House.)Janine ErasmusIn a partnership to boost access to safe drinking water in Africa, South Africa and Germany have developed a unit that promotes water-use efficiency in rural communities.The communal water house (CWH) is being piloted in the small Karoo town of Jansenville in one of South Africa’s most impoverished provinces, the Eastern Cape. It was unveiled in July 2008 by the national Department of Science and Technology (DST).Speaking to an audience of jubilant residents at the sod-turning ceremony, Derek Hanekom, deputy minister of science and technology, said, “Today we celebrate the power of innovative thinking and partnership.“It is hoped that such initiatives will be rolled out to other municipalities in South Africa in the future. This project clearly demonstrates how, through science and technology, we can meet the needs of the poor.”The DST’s key partners in this project are the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which has invested R21-million ($2.7-million), the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the Ikwezi Municipality and the University of Potsdam in Germany.Other partners include the University of Tshwane, the National Research Foundation in South Africa, the German Society for Solar Energy, and German Water and Energy GmbH.First for SAThe pilot project is the first such facility in South Africa and encompasses the use of advanced water treatment, water recycling and improved sanitation technologies, enabling residents to access potable water within a short walking distance. The CWH is designed to service between 200 and 800 people at a time.In the CWH, run-off from cooking and bathing, or grey water, is treated and re-used for laundry, sanitation and irrigation. Solar panels are provided to heat the water, boosting standards of hygiene and making the washing process more efficient. Other community benefits include a reduced need to transport large volumes of water over great distances and the creation of jobs for the construction and maintenance of CWHs.After being drawn from its source, which may be a rainwater tank, borehole or tap, the water is put through a water treatment station and undergoes filtration, biological cleaning methods and UV irradiation, before being diverted to the community water outlet.The DST plans to expand the technology to people in other municipalities. “We are confident that this cutting-edge technology will enable us to reach the last 12% of our people who currently have no access to safe drinking water,” said Hanekom.The water savings from this innovative project are estimated at 10 m3 or 3 500 m3 per year, which is the equivalent of free public services for 150 000 people. The CWH website claims that water is used two to three times more efficiently; therefore more people can be serviced by the same amount of water. Some 50% to 70% of the community’s water is recycled.In addition, energy demand is 100 000 kWh lower per year – as solar energy is used instead of fossil fuels. Access to electricity is not required, reducing the pressure on the environment.“Our partnering with the DST and its project team aims to benefit the poor and contribute jointly to better livelihoods in South Africa,” commented German ambassador to South Africa Dieter Haller, adding that he was proud of the results of the science and technology partnership.Germany and South Africa have collaborated extensively over the years in fields such as economy, biodiversity, defence, geoscience, environment, culture, development cooperation, and science and technology. The two countries have bilateral agreements in place in a number of areas and are currently involved in some 80 active projects with a total investment value of R951-million ($125-million).Access to clean water a global problemThe World Health Organisation states that as of 2002 only 58% of the entire global population had access to improved water, while access to proper sanitation stood at 36%. Many people have to travel long distances to get water from rivers and wells, while drinking from these unreliable sources increases the risk of contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis E, typhoid and dysentery.Part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals drive is to improve water supply across the world. The World Health Organisation reports that in order to meet the goal of halving the number of people without sustainable access to drinkable water and basic sanitation by 2015, an additional 260 000 and 370 000 people every day from now until 2015 must gain access to improved water and sanitation respectively.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view Useful linksCommunal Water House project websiteDepartment of Science and TechnologyDepartment of Water Affairs and ForestryGerman Federal Ministry of Education and ResearchWorld Health OrganisationUnited Nations Millennium Development GoalsIkwezi Municipality (Jansenville)last_img read more