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According to a terrorism expert, Marc Sageman, individuals who join terrorist groups have one thing in common before they commit a terrorist act: they have had 'insignificant' lives. He said, "You have a lot of people who are bored out of their minds. Joining this movement brings significance to their lives. Now they are special, part of the vanguard and better than others."
(Read the article)

This is interesting because two weeks ago I just blogged about the big reasons offered to try and understand terrorism. If Sageman is correct in his assertions, then it means that even though the leaders of terrorist groups may have some philosophy on why they do what they do, the foot soldiers at the bottom of their ranks are mainly taking part for emotional reasons.

MY THOUGHTS

If a person feels inferior because he believes he is insignificant, or that he is living an insignificant life, it is logical for him to presume that to become someone significant, or to live a significant life, he must achieve superiority over others. However, he is neither significant nor insignificant. He is neither superior nor inferior. These concepts only exist because of his perceptions. The truth is, he is simply himself.
Sunday, 20 August 2006 22:24

Frigid sperm still works 15 years on

"Sperm extracted from mice and testes that have been frozen for as long as 15 years have yielded normal, healthy offspring in a study that researchers say heralds fresh hopes for bringing back extinct species." Source.
Published in Scientific Advances
Monday, 01 May 2006 22:54

Catholic priesthood in decline

The number of priests worldwide has decreased by 3.5 per cent in the past quarter of a century, the Vatican said, noting that the overall figure was affected by a sharp decrease in Europe despite a rise of vocations in Africa. Read full article here.
Tuesday, 28 February 2006 22:24

Blood-clotting Protein In Venoms

"A blood-clotting protein found in the venom of nine snakes, including the taipan and the tiger snake, can be used to stop excessive bleeding during surgery and major trauma, the team of Brisbane based researchers announced*."
Published in Scientific Advances
Tuesday, 28 February 2006 21:22

Fig Leaf For A Terrorist Authority

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who wants peace talks with Israel to establish a Palestinian state, says that Hamas might make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to lead. Israel's acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says that Mr Abbas "can't be a fig leaf for a terrorist authority".

Full article.
Saturday, 25 February 2006 09:21

Culture, Nudity, Religion and Politics

A bill is being passed in Bali. "Traditional Balinese art and dance could become illegal. Prohibitions against kissing and revealing bodies could be imposed against foreigners, destroying Bali's faltering tourism industry."

Gadis Arriva, a university professor says: "It states it is illegal to express any sexual desire, even imagine sex ? how do you prove that?" she asks. She sees the anti-porn movement as part of an agenda to reshape Indonesia, with pornography a symbol of Western culture to the many Muslims who believe globalisation aims to destroy their culture."

See full article here.

The striking point about this article for me is this: The Balinese people had their own culture, expressed through their art and dance, way before people with different beliefs or religions came to tell them that these forms of expressions should be banned because it went against 'morality'. Should the Balinese stop expressing their culture just because of religion or politics: because some people think nudity is 'bad'? No.
Sunday, 19 February 2006 09:43

Muslim Imams In Australia

The Australian Government have proposed a code of conduct to prevent religious leaders from inciting hateful and inflamatory statements and sermons. But Brunswick-based Sheikh Omran, probably the most radical Muslim cleric in Australia (according to The Age), is not going to cooperate.

In next month's summit of imams, Muslim groups are divided whether they should invite him or not. Some do not want him to join the meeting so as not to validate his teachings. One or two imams will not attend if he attends. The imams who want him to attend feel that it is important to keep him engaged. I guess it is important for them to debate and challenge his ideas.

The articles I read were at: www.theage.com.au, titled Speak No Evil and Imam To Defy Code Of Conduct.
Friday, 03 February 2006 17:43

Art & Science

An observant person sees things overlooked by others. A scientist sees things going on and then asks how these goings-on array themselves into patterns, patterns that are reliable and predictable. A really good scientist--or a really good artist for that matter, anyone whose mind and soul are capable of some extension--sees what is going on, sees the patterns, and asks, 'Why?' What underlying forces are at work? How are those forces exerting themselves? How may we understand? Once pried from the universe by a great mind or a discerning heart, the hard-won understanding may then be conveyed and conferred upon humanity at large. A painting is nothing more than light reflected from the surface of a pigment-covered canvas. But a great painter can make you see the depth, make you feel the underlying emotion, make you sense the larger world. That, too, is the power of science: to sense and convey the depth and dimensionality of nature, to glance at the surface and to divine the shape of the universe around us.
Carl Safina

Published in Scientific Advances
Friday, 03 February 2006 17:42

Humans Fighting For Beliefs

Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told--and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion.
Michael Crichton in The Lost World

Based on an article written by Michael Borgas,the Government is still failing to give science the support it deserves.

"...The Federal Government has opted to leave science in the Education and Training ministry, where it has languished with poor support and little interest from the cabinet...CSIRO science differs from that of the universities, with research priorities set by senior executives in consultation with government. Individual researchers must align with long-term strategy. In this way large teams of researchers can tackle problems and initiatives that are important for Australia." See Full Article.

Science is an investment for the future. We need to ensure we are investing enough in it.