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September 21st, 2011

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11:19 am - Some links
Three very diverse things that I wanted to blog about. perhaps I am better just to give the links. Apologies for slight variation in tone, some are more serious than others.

Dinosaur feathers discovered in amber. Incredible. They may be extinct but 'Beautiful plumage' as Michael Palin would say.

webofevil blogs about the Norwegian response to the recent atrocity. He links the extremely restrained and mature response of the community and media to the fact that a very high proportion of the population know someone who was directly affected, and the exemplary leadership of the Norwegian Prime Minister. Very moving.

The worst graph in the world, from Andrew Gelman's blog on the uses of statistical inference and modelling. This was actually used to teach FBI agents about Islam. The general gist is that Christianity and Judaism started violent and have become non-violent while Islam has remained primitive (click on the graph for a larger version - there are 'Stars of David' as well as crucifixes but due to the b/w reproduction they look like dots). I suspect the lurking five-point star in the 'highly violent' section of the graph is evil socialism.

Andrew Gelman explains some of the problems with this graph:
I assume the line labeled “Bible” is referring to Christians? I’m sort of amazed to see pious and devout Christians listed as being maximally violent at the beginning. Huh? I thought Christ was supposed to be a nonviolent, mellow dude. The line starts at 3 B.C., implying that baby Jesus was at the extreme of violence. Going forward, we can learn from the graph that pious and devout Christians in 1492 or 1618, say, were much more peaceful than Jesus and his crew.

and here's Slacktivist on the case.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:September 21st, 2011 10:58 am (UTC)
This may not be the worst thing about that graph, but what bothers me about it is the way it ties Judaism and Christianity together. Per fjm's recent post about the fallacy of "Judeo-Christianity" this seems to, on the one hand, assume that the two religions are interchangeable (or rather, that Judaism can be contained within Christianity), and on the other hand, to perpetuate the view that Judaism was a violent, "Old Testament" creed which Christianity came along and civilized.
[User Picture]
Date:September 21st, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
Yes. I think the term 'Judeo-Christian' packs a lot of baggage, like 'weapons of mass destruction' it reveals what those who use it wish to elide.

There's the whole mutually exploitative/supportive relationship between the US and Israel, complicated by evangelical eschatology. And there's a rhetorical need to show clear water between the demonisation of Islam and antisemitism, which even the most unreconstructed conservatives have realised is a Bad Thing. By throwing in Judaism in the graph they buffer themselves against accusations of Christian triumphalism.

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