Hi, I've just noticed that since I've been on here my views have changed - in reaction to the heavy Americanisation of the site.  I don't have anything against American per sa, but it has caused me to think more about the integrity of our own culture and maintaining that.  We are heavily exposed to American culture already - especially due to our own smaller populations.  I think it's important that we band together and preserve some of our own ideas and foster our own thinking and persepctives.  I've met many atheists locally in Melbourne, who don't like the strong anti christian persepctives of American atheists and also writters such as Dawkins and Dennett and Harris.  They are all great authors with great things to say, think and contribution to our understanding of truth and life as we currently know it to be according to science - but again I've noticed a sharp change in Dawkins work over the years, that is in direct reaction to American culture.  This is in part to do with globalisation but also I think to American dominance generally.


I wonder if it is useful to aim to highlight these differences - so as to be more aware of them as a way of maintaining cultural identity as seperate.  I don't want to loose my cultural identity to a homogenised culture dominated by the US.


I wonder if American culture generally sees itself as great and wonderful and a completely desirable influence on the rest of the world, in all it's forms - christian, atheist, cultural, scientific, social etc.


I personally am very impressed with countires such as Sweden, Norway and Iceland.  Holland also.  For their social policies.  The Germans have gone a long way since their greens in power in the 70's with their green revolution and are pinoniring green technology. (forgive spelling - I've lost my spell checker and had a very poor education in northern england...)


I can think of many good things about many countries - but what my children are being exposed to on TV and internet is mostly american content with the same myths and scripts over and over - it's quite tedious and boring for me - as well as homoginased culture that lacks depth.  I'm sure 'real' americans have lots of depth, and I've heard stories that they can be very welcoming and other such stories - but that's not the impact of their media exports.


It's interesting because we are all brought together in the name of not believing in God and in a way we end up talking about god an awful lot - in the same way I'm bringing up the idea that I'd like to foster an independant non american culture - only because I didn't think the way I do now, after strong american influence - so what I'm proposing isn't a long conversation about american - but what we are in contrast to that, and what we have that is unique and not nessisarily about not believing in God - but in what we do believe in - what we do value and what we do want to foster for our selves and our society.




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Hi Mike,

Hi Mike Thanks for posting...


You start by saying it doesn't matter and end by saying you are concerned
about what our culture might become... that was my point.  I agree culture
is changing all the time.  I think that lots of tv and computer time is bad
for our children and I think we need to see them just playing more outside
with mud, sticks and in our local environment.

I didn't know that about The Netherlands - I always was confused about what
to call the place.



I haven't seen stats about children are getting smarter - but I'm very skeptical of that claim.


I think that children generally are always more clear in the mind and therefore quicker and more immidiately adaptable to ideas coming up.  The older we get the slower we get and the less adaptable we are.  I remember people being very impressed with my quick mind and ability to grasp and use new ideas when I was a child - say around 9 years old.  And now as a 34 year old I'm much slower in the mind and it takes me much longer to get my head around concepts.  Whereas my 9 year old takes it all in his stride.


I really can't see that computers and TV would make you smarter.  The same way as going to school wouldn't make you smarter, compared with not going to school.  I would say that diet would make you smarter - as that has a direct effect on your bodies ability to create brain cells - so enough of the right fats and protiens and vitamins etc.


I think that children just adapt to what ever environment they are put into.  I suppose it's useful in this day and age for them to have time to learn about computers and programs and watch some TV for familierarity of it - but I find most of what is on the computer to be absolute crap.  For example many of the american children's shows we import here to australia - they are terrible - with awful values and langauge and treatment of each other - I want my children to be exposed to nice values and nice people - I like a few of the candadian shows and find them much more kind and loving in their content.  If my children watch TV I want that influence to be positive - but alas it's majority crap.


I tend to encourage them to be critcle of such shows and aim to get them interested in documentaries and nature shows, and anything scientific.  I've even managed to encourage my husband to watch such shows rather than b grade news - although he has good taste also and tends to watch shows on war - his personal interest - the second world war and also sport - which is fare enough -


Many of the kids in our street when playing - play their games with an american accent!  And they use the same words and put downs of that culture that they have been indoctranated with through cheap import American childrens shows.


 As a parent of 3 children I find it difficult to regulate everything they watch - and they are addicted to watching, so it makes it harder for me to enforce rules about watching when I'm dealing with addicted kids.  The TV is obviously meeting some needs for them that I'm not offereing an alternative for - so it's an ongoing balancing of meeting their needs and mine.



So kids are getting better at IQ tests.


That means that we are getting more adapted to our current model for intellegence.


Our fitness on the other hand is decreasing and kids in the 50's were way more fit than kids are today - which would have an impact on physical health later in life also - as well as diet.


So how smart are modern kids if they are risking poorer health and more chance of dieing young from lack of fitness because they're sitting on their bums watching TV and computer screens instead of running around outside maintaining their physical fitness?


Sure, re use of accents in games - they all really like star wars at the moment - which I agree is great fun for kids - especially boys it seems - and I have 3 boys.  My 2 year old will make a gun out of a piece of toast and make the corrisponding shooting noises and actions - whilst he's killing the orange peel...

So you say that TV is making us more intellegent, but then cite figures that show children who attend school are what is making them more intellegent - based on IQ intellegence anyhow - not smarts or adaptibility to surviving - which I would say was way more valuable a skill than recognising patterns - face it, we know what a lion looks like and you can't see cold viruses anyhow - although you could spot someone who was very sick and avoid them.


I disagree that we are better than any other culture before us - I think each cultural time is appropriate to it's own era.


When I started parenting I did have fears about guns etc - but now I realise that it's part of their natural development - I encourage my kids to climb trees, explore on their own outside - learn about safety themselves and they play war games with their plastic fake guns.  I don't think any of them would really want to kill another person - but it's something about feeling safe and learning how to protect - that they play the war games.  It's also about social things, when they choose sides and like to be on the same side as their closest friends or siblings.  None of them want to join the army - 'you might die or something'.  I think the army would be a good thing here in Australia because they get paid heaps for not much exposure to dieing in general - compared with the US marines who seem to have heaps of losses - which I think is tragic - although it seems that is part of life really.  Although democracy and civilisation seems to have brought us further away from killing each other generally - which might be a bad thing in terms of population control and running out of resources.

Mike - it makes sense actually that we might be selectively breeding for those that do well at school and therefore are better at seeing patterns or what ever it is that our society values in terms of intellegence.


The story goes that people who don't do so well at school aren't attractive as mates - whereas those that do well at school are more attractive as mates and therefore might breed more - over all - leading to an upward trend over time...  so the ones that do really bad at school don't breed at all and so on...


Otherwise how would you explain this trend to do better each generation at IQ tests?


I suppose those other ideas are relevant - about disease in the under 2's when brains are developing and also better dietary access - generally - but perhaps not overall - in that we aren't making better choices with food even though we have better access to good foods.


To be honest I can't remember what my first complaint was - although according to you it was that American TV and children weren't good... or something...  I'm more about enjoying our own culture or who we are - as opposed to this culture where we are caused to feel that we aren't good enough and need more stuff in order to feel better - house, accent, toys, possessions in general or status in the form of money, power or titles such as phd or dr etc.


The TV does tend to promote those sorts of things as valuable - perhaps it's connected to our consumer economy - meaning that everything we look at buys into the marketing machine that is our current comsumer society - without it the economy would slow and that wouldn't be good for business - but it might be good for the planet in general and the sustainablity of bio diversity for example...

Well I have different perspectives than you on some of those issues. But similar on others.


I don't go for the science is the answer to our prayers thing - in that some hold science up as a sort of god of our age.  I wonder if humans won't all die out before we work out all there is to know about the universe, and I'm skeptical about our ability to work out how to get to another inhabitable planet before this dies due to lossing our sun - if we even last that long.


Greater advances in food technology seems to tend to increase population - so I can't see how that would change things much.


Urbanised life seems to decrease population - in that people have less kids, none, 1 or 2 max on average - but with rising sea levels and climate change refugies from low laying places such as Bangladesh etc, we will - like Al Gore has said be flooded with immigrants - and therefore out population will still go up - and Muslims tend to have more children as do christians also.


So if we slow down on having kids, others will catch up for us.  If we improve our food creating ability we allow population will increase.


I don't suppose it really matters to me as I'll be dead before any of these issues come up - if ever - by 2056 if I get that far - we have such short lives really.


Dennett says that we won't convert people to natural thinking but the theists will die out and the next generation won't have those same beliefs.  I think due to globalisation and technology such as the internet - people are better educated about reality - and have more access to information and science - as well as other things that are supernatural in content - but I think this overall does provide an environment that is better suited to poeple being better educated about reality in general.


I heard the other day a guy saying about his belief in astrology that Indian astrologers were more nieve and superstitious - implying that he went for astrology that was reality based - amusing.  But most people's superstitions and myths are soon ssquashed due to modern technology.  Although people still suffer paranoier and fear - creating myths and conspiricy theories.


Most people it seems don't really care to think about these topics.  I don't get out much and my husband calls me a geek - or a want to be geek - even worse.  But when I do go out and meet others, they have other interests - I think a lot of young people simply watch american tv shows and spend time talking about the plots and characters as if they are real.


I know a lot of older women who get right into self help and spiritulism - so raki, alternative therapies, ora healing, diets such as vegetarian, vegan, raw foodists and special cleanses - to be honest though, I don't really know what most people do with their time.  I think most peoples' time is taken up with working to earn enough money to pay their bills and then basic house work and sleeping.



I wonder if Denmark and Norway are leveling off due to their lack of immigration - unlike other european countries they don't accept immigrants so easily...  so their population is quite stable in that way.... god knows how they police their boarders...

When I said that people saw science as God - I meant that they believe that science can do anything - rather than seeing that it is through scientific practice that humans find things out.


I'd be really interested to know if that is truely the case - that if humans have all their needs met that slow down having kids.  I think it might be more cultural than that - there are lots of humans who have all their needs met and yet they have lots of kids.  I know war seems to encourage breeding - as in post war baby booms - but you seem to be saying that people have more kids when they have less food?  How can they do that if they don't have enough food?  How will more food help?  Are you sure it's not just cultural?  Or perhaps even connected to education?  Or something else.  I thought that I might be more connected to city living and working parents.

The IQ of different countries around the world would make an interesting study.  I quite miss being able to study things in detail - but it often takes up so much time in reading and searching for books and articles in order to get to the facts.  I think good books are a great short cut to this - but I'm lacking authors and recomendations at the moment.  I read recently Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape which was a good read - also Dawkins lastest one on evolution which was a good read too.  I'm currently reading Dennetts Breaking the Spell - But am loosing inspiration due to it's focus on Christianity again - it's getting tired now - I really would prefer to read a book about real things rather than religion - religion is crap and boring - why can they write books about IQ stats or sustainablity of world population or culture and how we can have fun in life... :)
By the way did you see Q&A last night?  Not sure if you are in Australia or not...  it was about pornography - one woman was trying to ban it because young men want women to have all their fanny hair cut off - and that's bad - or something - and another women was saying that we shouldn't demonise men - others said that we shouldn't talk about the results but hold individuals responsible for bad things that might happen - such as rape or bad attitudes to women.  I was wondering if the porn industry might be preventing more violence in our society - because I think that sexually frustrated men tend to be more violent, agressive, competative and unhappy - not that I've done any broad based research on this - just what I've observed. Apparently Australians tend to upload their own porn for other consumers to view - and it's mostly very normal sexually - no rape or rape simulation or other things that might cause problems for people.  It's the americans who like the barbie doll porn stars - the English and Australian markets tend to prefer the women or man next door look and avoid american porn - I don't have personal data on other nations... 

That's interesting regarding porn - although I wonder that it's hard to know what came first - did they have low sex crime first and then decide to be more open about letting people have access to porn, or was it the porn that allowed them to have less sex crime - or perhaps it's just a coincidence.  I trust that you've done a bit of research from reputable sources and found that there is a true link and that it is the access to porn that causes the reduction in sex crime.


I wonder though if it might also be that cultures who are more supressed or out of control regarding sex - and more likely to offend might have governments who are more restrictive?


Interesting topic though - I heard that porn is about 90% of the traffic on the net - which means that it's very popular - and yet, although I've seen a bit of porn, I've never paid for it and it's never been part of my lifestyle - and not so with any of my friends that I'm aware of - so either it's quite a private thing, or I'm just not bringing it up enough in conversation.  I presume that it's more of a single guy thing - although I haven't seen stats so wouldn't know - I can imagine a lot of long term couples getting into it also.  Interesting though that it has such a bad reputation in terms of moral or ethical values - feminists seem to get very upset about it.


It obviously meets a need - and yes again, I wonder if that is for the best on the whole.

I've got a cousin in Auckland and a friend in Wellington - where are you?


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