At the Icasa hearings on TopTV’s application to screen adult content channels, theatre and testimony of the sort you normally find in church might have triumphed over evidence and rationality.
In my previous column, I explained why I’d be presenting to the Icasa hearings in support of TopTV’s planned adult content channels. Based on what I heard that day, any ruling against TopTV would be ample evidence that Icasa need lessons in basic logic and statistics, as well as a reminder that anecdotes don’t count as data.
If you ever needed evidence that some students don’t really listen to a word you say, here’s some – in a course that teaches an evidence-based approach, and in a week where pseudoscience was the topic under discussion, a student submitted a medical note from a naturopath.
TopTV’s strategy for rescuing itself from financial ruin includes a second application to Icasa for the right to screen pornography channels. As with the previous application, religious lobby groups are up in arms. But with there being no good reasons to believe that pornography is harmful, Icasa will hopefully remember that their mandate does not include the enforcement of religious moralising.
Choice architecture (or “nudges”, as in the 2008 book by that name) is an example of what has been called “libertarian paternalism”, in that it is an attempt to get people to do what’s best for them. But if we know that people aren’t always the best judges of their own interests, is there perhaps room for even stronger interventions?
I was recently invited to give a talk at the launch of the UCT Student FSI. Here is the video of that talk.
Giving up on some of the comfortable fictions that come bundled with religion – like the idea of an afterlife – does not mean that we have to give up on commemorating the lives of those we’ve lost, or that we’re inconsistent in wishing that something like an afterlife did exist.
It’s wrong to impute negative intentions – that’s where the principle of charity comes in. And while an insistence on people setting aside any pre-existing perceptions regarding your motives might be logically coherent, it’s not sufficient in this world of real insults and (at least psychological) harms.
#WeSayEnough was by all accounts the largest protest march in the University of Cape Town’s history, and UCT has had its fair share of protest marches. I don’t know if these marches serve any purpose, but I think – and hope – that my cynicism is misplaced.
Thanks to columns and arguments like Dowden’s that it becomes ever clearer that the debate should ideally not be around whether the next Pope should be African or other, but rather around how long the Papacy – and Catholicism in this form – can survive at all.