Remarks on science and scientific thinking

June 26, 2014

 

Nasir  Khan, June 26, 2014

When did  ‘science’ start in human history? And when did the ‘scientific thinking’ start? These seemingly simple questions can only be answered by a historian of science who has acquaintance with historical data relating to the issues. In other words, to find an answer we need the expertise of specialists. However, we should keep in mind that science is not any static body of knowledge but rather an active process through the ages.

Man’s use of his near environment and his attempts to understand the phenomenon around him goes back to the times when he started to use his hands and much later in the history of his social evolution he started to use stones and flint, for instance, to hunt and skin off the animals for food and clothing. That is the time when man started to affect his near environment intentionally that was primarily to meet his practical needs for his survival. These can be called man’s first steps towards ‘science’ in a general sense.

But the question of scientific thinking has a dialectical relationship with man’s relationship with nature as he started to form some ideas about how things work. These were his early steps towards understanding how things worked. That process has gone on in history for long. What we associate with scientific thinking’ in contrast to idealistic, speculative and mythical thinking

(eventually becoming religious thinking) belongs to the period after the Renaissance. But to a historian of ideas and science any such periodization is only for our convenience, not for its historical accuracy.

Prof. Richard Falk: Force-Feeding Palestinian Hunger Strikers

June 15, 2014
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Hunger Strike and Israeli Force-Feeding Pending Legislation

             The highly respected human rights NGO, Adalah (meaning justice) dedicated to securing human rights for Palestinians living in Israel, has issued an urgent appeal on behalf of a reported 125 Palestinian prisoners who are engaged in a hunger strike protesting their being held in Israeli jails on the basis of ‘administrative detention’ procedures. It is the longest collective hunger strike in Palestinian history. Administrative detention is an objectionable practice by which individuals are held in prison, sometime for months or even years, without being informed of charges or facing trial. According to international law reliance on administrative detention is regarded as prohibited unless there are overwhelming reasons in the form of imminent and severe security threats to justify the failure to produce criminal charges and hold a trial. Israel has made no such appeal, and appears to use administrative detention procedures routinely and against individuals who cannot be considered security threats.

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Criticising Israeli policies towards Palestinians is not anti-Semitism

June 13, 2014

Nasir Khan,  June 13, 2014

I perceive some formulations of Gilad Atzmon a bit simplistic. But he produces facts to support his views whereby he maintains some Jews, NOT all, have been instrumental in standing for and supporting the Gulf War and the Iraq War, etc. Their names are familiar to anyone who has followed the events for the last two decades, if not more. The arguments of Gilad need to be faced and refuted by those who feel they are racist or unsubstantiated projections. But without refuting the evidence he has produced, it is unfair to dub him anti-Semite or racist. He himself is a Jew. I am also aware that many people use the shield of anti-Semitism and racism to cover-up the ugly policies of the apartheid state of Israel and its backers. Aren’t we well aware that whenever the Zionist leaders of Israel are condemned for their crimes against the captive populations of the West Bank and Gaza, they readily resort to the charge of anti-Semitism against their accusers? When Professor Richard Falk, the UN rapporteur on the occupied territories, told the facts, he was called a self-hating Jew and anti-Semite by the Zionist lobby and Israeli propagandists. To my knowledge, Zionists’ standard response is to call those people anti-Semite who voice their opposition to the oppressive Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. But that is a lie and a deceptive camouflage.

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The document, later labelled as ?Yinon Plan?, implied that Arabs and Muslims killing each other in endless sectarian wars was, in effect, Israel?s insurance policy.
dissidentvoice.org

Oddbjørn Leirvik’s constructive role in Norway

June 8, 2014

 

Nasir Khan, June 8, 2014

In Norway one social activist and theologian within the Lutheran church  who has done much to advance the cause of religious dialogue  amongst  the believing communities is  Oddbjørn Leirvik. He has focused on creating bonds of understanding and toleration between diverse religious communities. He represents an enlightened perspective in matters of religion that traditionally have led to much conflict and acrimony  in history. Single-mindedly he has followed an open and all-inclusive approach in inter-religious dialogue instead of the more familiar practice where people beat the drums of their own faith being the best and repository of all the truth for the whole of humanity.

Professor Leirvik is one of those people who understand that in these times social and political conditions have changed fast. Many countries in Western Europe have become multi-ethnic,   muti-cultural and multi-religious.  Now we find an increasing number of people from different parts of the world, belonging to different religions, religious traditions and non-religious ideologies living and working in the same country. They are all part of the same society. To live and work together in a humane and peaceful way we need to understand and respect others. That does not mean that we have to accept the misuse and manipulation of religion by some groups or individuals or bow down before those traditions that violate basic human rights and relegate an inferior social status to women. In all such things, Professor Leirvik stands for a just and equitable society where basic human values take precedence over bigotry and crude anti-social indoctrination.

The D-Day Celebrations

June 6, 2014

Nasir Khan, June 6, 2014

The Normandy landing on June 6, 1944 was a decisive military operation on the Western Front. It dealt a heavy blow to the Nazi occupation of Western Europe and liberated France from the German occupation. Joseph Stalin had for long asked United States and Britain to open up a western front that could have eased up the Nazi military pressure on the Eastern Front. President Roosevelt was willing to do so but Prime minster Winston Churchill hesitated. However the great D-Day was a monumental military operation in 1944.

We congratulate all those who opposed the Nazi war and brutal occupation and helped liberate Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Our solute to the brave men and women who took part in this war of liberation both on the Western and Eastern fronts and bow our heads in gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives in the war against the Nazi scourge.

 

Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East?

June 4, 2014

Nasir Khan, June 4, 2014

As compared to the pre-historic dinosaurs that rule the Arab world, Israel has the nominal wherewithal of a democracy, more in form than in substance. Its apartheid system, its occupation of the land of the Palestinians, its disregard of international laws and conventions, its continued expansion by illegal settlements in the West Bank brings it in the category of a state whose hybrid status puzzles social scientists! But it is a colonial-settler state based on a mythical supremacist ideology that has a destructive political agenda in the region and beyond.

Why has the U.S. Postal Service blocked me from buying books from the United States?

June 3, 2014

Nasir Khan, June 3, 2014

Last month I ordered a book from Oakwood Books through Amazon.com (USA). Today I was informed by the bookseller that the book package has been returned to them by U.S. Postal Service marked “Sender or recipient name matches a denied party/entity who may not send or receive exports.”

I wonder what is the reason for putting this ban on me. I have never done anything wrong against any American or anyone else. As an academic I buy the books I need from different countries. Can anyone explain this strange decision on the part of the USPS?

The root causes of brutal crimes against women in India and Pakistan

May 31, 2014
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Nasir Khan,  May 31, 2014
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How can such crimes be prevented? It seems there are no easy answers. On the one hand there is much adoration and lip-service to traditions and family-values in tradition-bound Indian and Pakistani societies. On the other hand in such tradition-bound patriarchal societies, the status of women is one of inequality and subordination. Women have no option than to obey the commands of their male family-members and comply with their wishes. There exists a vicious circle of traditions and misguided use of old religious edicts to oppress and misuse women. No doubt, to seek retribution and show our emotional outrage are our justified responses to such events as has happened in India in this case and also in Pakistan recently when a young girl was battered to death by her relatives in the name of ‘family honour’ to justify such an abominable barbaric killing. But the question remains: Can we improve the condition of women in traditional societies without pointing to the sources of oppression? In the name of old traditions every year thousands of women are genitally mutilated, many are killed in the name of ‘family honour’ and countless millions suffer physical torture and oppression. That means the sources that lie in old traditions and the misuse of religious teachings should be publicly discussed by the media. Here comes the role of the enlightened members of society who understand the problem and who can use their knowledge and skills to devise strategies that can help us to spread the message amongst the people and help us fight against these social ills.

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Two Teenage Girls Gang Raped, Murdered, and Left Hanging from Tree in Latest Gruesome Sexual Assault in India

 By

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Protestors rally after five-year-old girl was allegedly raped, tortured and kept in captivity for 40 hours in April 2013.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India’s deeply troubling problem of sexual violence towards women sunk to a new, gruesome low on Wednesday. Two teenage sisters in rural northern India were abducted from fields near their home and gang raped before being strangled by their attackers and then left hanging by nooses from a mango tree. “The girls, who were 14 and 15, had gone into the fields because there was no toilet in their home,” the Associated Press reports.

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Thailand: Human Rights Situation Rapidly Deteriorating as Political Impasse Continues

May 29, 2014

FORUM-ASIA Statement: 27 May 2014

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The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights group with 47 member organisation across 16 countries in Asia, registers its deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand following the imposition of martial law since 20 May 2014 and subsequently a military coup on 22 May 2014. Increasing restrictions have been imposed on the exercise and enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms while violations continue unabated without any accountability or safeguard mechanisms put in place by the military government.

In a time of deep political turmoil and uncertainty, the restrictions on press freedom – through the initial silencing of TV stations and channels, sweeping restrictions on print, broadcast and online media, blocking of websites and threats to shut down social media – are particularly worrying as people are denied access to crucial information, critical analysis and the opportunity to discuss issues of national importance. This is further exacerbated by the recent summons and arrests of academics, journalists and other media practitioners who continued to report on or speak out against the coup and for alternative solution.

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Hindu Supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party Comes To Power In India

May 16, 2014

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By Countercurrents, 16 May, 2014
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Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won a landslide victory for Indian parliament election. BJP is set to win in 283 seats, eight more than the required half way mark in 543 member House. With its allies, the tally of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is expected to go up to 335.

Narendra Modi, the BJP’s leader, will be the next prime minister of India.

The Congress party, that has run India for all but 13 years since independence, was set to crash to its worst ever result after a decade in power. Congress was virtually decimated as it bagged only 18 seats and was leading in 27 others. Party president Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi accepted responsibility for the defeat.

There was a record turnout in the elections, with 66.38 percent of the 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during several stages of the six-week ballot. Turnout in the 2009 elections was 58.13 percent.

Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat and a strong proponent of Hindutva. Hindutva is a virulent fascist ideology which holds a Hindu supremacist world view.

Narendra Modi’s role in the infamous Gujarat Pogrom, is still under legal scanner. The anti-minority carnage started following the gruesome killing of 59 Hindus on 27th February, 2002 in a train fire at Godhra. Modi’s alleged to have given free reign to rioters without taking sufficient steps to prevent the massacre. The Gujarat administration was accused by the opposition of taking insufficient action against the violence, and even condoning it in some cases.

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