RE: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 14:51:11 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
    Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 09:51:11 -0500
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    Joe, I checked into these sources. Thanks for the citations. I see what is
    happening. You are going to sites that are polemical, that are put together
    by people whose goals are to attack, rather than to learn and explore. This
    is one of the problems with the web: anybody can say anything, largely
    unchallenged. You are not going to academic or scholarly sites and sources,
    nor to primary ones. The consequence is a bit like going to Madalyn O'Hair's
    (sp???) atheist website to learn about Christianity. At some point, if you
    really want to learn about Christianity, you have to go to its primary
    sources, and then read what its mainstream adherents have to say.

    One also needs to be careful about the provenance of some of these polemical
    web-sites. For example, some health, energy, pharmaceutical and chemical
    companies have set up false web-sites that purport to be in favor of 'the
    environment' or 'health' and that in actuality just promote pro-industry
    views or policies. One should not be too surprised if websites are created
    are set up to do this in the political or religious fields, as well.
    Checking into the actual credentials of some of the site authors may help in
    assessing how much credence should be given to them.

    To be clear, without further inquiry, I am not suggesting that this is the
    case with your Ibn Warraq site -- it would be quite natural, and beneficial,
    to find secular humanists in the Muslim world, and that some of these might
    be quite bitter against Islam, and have expressed that anger in such a way
    that it has drawn the condemnation of those attacked. But I wouldn't depend
    on such a site to give me my understanding of Islam. With regard to the
    contents of the site, I found the section on Muslim law particularly weak,
    and highly tuned to citing western or Christian sources, e.g. Charles Watson
    and Bertrand Russell. Perhaps the site author did this to gain credibility
    with a Christian or Western audience, but it has the opposite impact on me;
    it makes me wonder about Ibn Warraq's background. As a non-doctrinal secular
    humanist, I find the site to be quite weak, almost deliberately so. Any
    secular humanist can mount far more credible critiques of religion than is
    contained in this site. Its goal seems not so much to advance secularism but
    to attack Islam, by hook or by crook.

    Can you give us any confirmable information on Ibn Warraq himself? I
    couldn't find any from his site.

    Huntington's book, I agree is in a different class, and his Harvard
    credentials give him a certain luster. But please consider that he may in
    fact be wrong. After all, the same luster enwrapped Henry Kissinger, to whom
    history is now beginning to give high marks for wrong-ness, and even war

    By your own quote, Huntington concedes that his observation was 'casual'
    though he quickly asserts that 'every disinterested source' agrees with hims
    view. But of course this is not the case: indeed I am not familiar with ANY
    disinterested source that has agreed with him on this point. Huntington's
    was an interesting theory -- and what a wonderful title! -- but I don't
    think his views stand up to rigorous examination. of course, that doesn't
    mean his book won't influence, and indeed, not that you point it out, one
    can see echoes of in Bush's unfortunate declaration that the US was in a

    Thanks again for the citations.


    > > "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    > <> RE: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory
    > PerceptionDate: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 15:40:18 -0500
    > >Reply-To:
    > >
    > >
    > >> I, for one, happen to share them, as do Howard Bloom, Ibn Warraq,
    > >> Richard Dawkins, Samuel Huntington, and many others,
    > >
    > >Joe, do you have any citations for Huntington that would back
    > this up. Who
    > >is Ibn Warraq, and any citations?
    > >
    > For Samuel P. Huntington, read THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS,
    > passim, but particularly pages 109-120 and 183-266 (and most
    > particularly the chapter entitled INCIDENCE: ISLAM'S BLOODY
    > BORDERS, PP. 254-258). I quote a footnote from page 258:
    > No single statement in my FOREIGN AFFAIRS article attracted
    > more critical attention than: "Islam has bloody borders." I made
    > that judgment on the basis of a casual survey of
    > intercivilizational conflicts. Quantitative evidence from every
    > disinterested source conclusively demonstrates its validity.
    > Ibn Warraq was once a Muslim but has become a secular humanist.
    > His book WHY I AM NOT A MUSLIM (a title that echoes Bertrand
    > Russel's WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN) earned him a death fatwa, a
    > badge of honor he shares with the Bangladeshi doctor Taslima
    > Nasrin (she earned it for her book SHAME), and, of course, Salman
    > Rushdie. I HIGHLY recommend you avail yourself of several
    > insiders' views as to the virulent, murderous and uncompromising
    > toxicity of the Islamist memeplex by accessing the website of the
    > Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society, to be found at:
    > In particular, I recommend you read the articles that may be
    > found in the upper left hand corner of this page.

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