ReasonINC

Reason; as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct

Category: History

“where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.” – Heinrich Heine

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TEDtalk: James Flynn: Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents

“Think how different America would be if every American knew that this is the fifth time Western armies had gone to Afghanistan to put its house in order. And if they had some idea of exactly what had happened on those four previous occasions. And that is they had barely left and there wasn’t a trace in the sand”

James Flynn, in this resounding and brilliant TEDtalk, calmly and patiently makes a very clever point about exactly why IQ scores have been improving. He astutely cites our increasingly common ability to apply logic to abstraction; to deal sincerely in the hypothetical and casts this concept into a very impressive talk.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vpqilhW9uI)

The Warsaw Ghetto

The Warsaw Ghetto

A collection of photographs taken inside the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941 by Joe J. Heydecker, a German soldier. The ghetto, which was enforced for nearly three years, was the largest in Nazi-occupied Europe. 400,000 Jews were confined there, of which at least 300,000 lost their lives either in its violent eventual conclusion, or after transport to one of the many active and appalling concentration camps.

(http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/23097-container.html)

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Ghetto)

TED talk: Phil Plait: How to defend the Earth from asteroids

TED talk: Phil Plait: How to defend the Earth from asteroids

This TED talk covers some fascinating facts on historic asteroids and discusses the potential dangers they could yet pose. More interesting still, Phil Plait goes on to describe some of the many creative solutions that have surfaced since the discussion began.

(http://www.ted.com/talks/phil_plait_how_to_defend_earth_from_asteroids.html)

Famous last words

Famous last words

“And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead” – Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort, his last words before his death in 1794.

An assortment of quite interesting last words spoken or written by some famous names:

(http://www.phrases.org.uk/quotes/last-words/suicide-notes.html)

TED talk: Peter Ward: Earth’s Mass Extinction

TED talk: Peter Ward: Earth’s Mass Extinction

Peter Ward presents the findings of a study that makes for an example to fledgling scientific investigations. The study has followed evidence relentlessly until, at its fruition, a near-complete picture of the area has been painted. This is sometimes accomplished by many different groups working over many decades, but in this case the specific issue demands quickly nothing but complete and irrefutable evidence, an issue at the centre of a denial that is prevalent almost throughout our species – the denial of the rapid destruction of our planet.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzLCWrPhBLY)

The 6th and the 9th of August… 1945

The 6th and the 9th of August… 1945

The detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, three days apart at the end of the first week of August 1945, were fine examples of the brazen disregard for civilian suffering that characterises war of all kinds, and that is independent of nationality. Two years later Japan’s people would endorse a new constitution that prohibited war, and today are one of the world’s most forward-thinking cultures.

Reading in detail about the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki reveals a great tragedy to be more adorned with horror than we might dare to guess. The death toll of either event is split into two categories; immediate deaths and deaths after the fact, mainly from radiation poisoning, burns or cancer. Looking at Just Hiroshima, for example, the immediate death toll was 70,000 and estimates of total death toll suggest 100,000 – 200,000. What still lingers in my mind since I first read about these events is that ‘immediate’ includes a period of 24 hours after detonation.

The closest known survivor, to the point exactly under where the bomb was detonated, 600m above the city, was Eizo Nomura. Living on into his eighties, Eizo was in the basement of a concrete building just 170m from the point below the centre of the blast in Hiroshima.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki#The_bombing)

Unit 731

In the dark basement archives that detail the history of unethical medical trials it is important to remember that even from the countries or cultures without notable documented cases it would hardly constitute a challenge to find equally distinguishable breaches of ethics, if not perhaps in the name of medical science.

I have to give the introduction above to feel that I am not being unfair to post here the example of perhaps the most shocking single case of atrocious medical research that emerged from a country with a cultural history at least as interesting and rich as any I have come across. Unit 731 was a research facility under the control of the Imperial Japanese Army between 1935 and 1945 in an area of north-eastern China under Japanese control.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731)