Another resurrection, this time from 2007. Expect a few more as we enter the busy season.

Talking of which, you can get 30% off all book orders by entering the code LULUVIP30662 at checkout.

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Discussion (75)¬

  1. European says:

    Busy with Xmas preparations, author?

  2. remoran says:

    Your work is awesome. This last toon made me laugh out loud. I linked it to my blog as what you do has real value. Keep up the humor, god knows the world needs it.


  3. CT says:

    “Not just pretending — pretending really hard.”


  4. Lancaster Brown says:

    I’ve finally caught up!
    Been reading J&M and the comments since the guys got banned from LSE. People were right to think it would bring new readers. I’ve gradually worked my way through the archives and greatly enjoyed myself.
    Here I am in realtime. What happens now?

  5. Rosbif says:

    I always wondered if there is a real difference between “belief”, “opinion” and “guess”.

    If the Pope said
    “I reckon that if there is a deity, he wouldn’t really approve of gay marriage (or fill in your own pet hate bigotry)” , it would be far more difficult for people to pass of their own irrational phobia as an order from on high. Well that’s what I reckon …err, believe, … guess.

  6. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Please excuse all the snoring
    Atheists tend to be boring
    There’s only so many random acts
    That can be shilled as facts
    Questions worth discussing, they’re ignoring.

  7. hotrats says:

    Lancaster Brown:
    Here I am in realtime. What happens now?

    In a word, you do. Welcome to the Cock and Bull. Feel free to share a joke, talk about your own experiences, ask questions, offer answers, or just chip in to the general chatter. If you have read all the way through the archives, you will already be familiar with the regulars.

  8. hotrats says:

    hotrats – You have succumbed to the temptation re the flattery thing; you posted it! Please note that my approach regarding smee began long before his reference to me, and was steadfast consistently. And disinterest? Pray, how?

    No, I didn’t just ‘post it’; I said it was naked flattery on smee’s part, and it would be inappropriate to accuse you of being influenced by it. I was trying to pay you a compliment – ‘a model of disinterest’ (ie impartiality, lack of prejudice, fair-mindedness). I am concerned that you feel you have been disrespected, which I never intended.

  9. Lewis R. Lowden, DAV says:

    If there was no belief in Gods, there would be no “Jesus and Mo” nor atheists and believers to squabble so endlessly over a question without an earthly answer…unless, of course, you pretend.

  10. two cents' worth says:

    I can’t recall the source, but this cartoon reminds me of a movie about a child that asked whether Santa Claus really exists. An adult replied, “If you believe it, it is so.”

    It also reminds me of something Robert Heinlein wrote, along the lines of, “If you believe enough, you can make water flow uphill. How much is enough? Why, enough to make water flow uphill, of course.”

    When a religionista talks about beliefs, I assume that what they’re really saying is, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with facts!” ( has some interesting background info. on this saying.)

    There are many ideas out there about what happens to us after we die–for example, we become ghosts, or go to heaven/hell/purgatory/Valhalla/etc., or are reincarnated, or reach nirvana, or add to the Spider God’s/Universe’s knowledge about itself, or (most likely, I think) simply cease to exist. Discussing ideas about “life after death” may be an entertaining way to pass the time, but it seems to me that it is as useful as discussing ways to catch unicorns. I figure that, soon enough, I will find out for myself what happens after I die. In the meantime, what seems important to me is not to focus on “life after death,” but on life before death–doing what I can to build the common good and make my own days glad.

  11. I see…. you have been reading Peter Boghossian’s book “A Manual for Creating Atheist”

  12. Emma Peel says:

    two cents’….your two cents worth today was lovely. Just lovely. I’m trying to make my own days glad too, something we should all work on.

  13. omg says:

    I don’t know how to comment on this one. Bunt this one from Bill Maher about heaven is funny:

    two cents’ worth :
    “If you believe enough, you can make water flow uphill. How much is enough? Why, enough to make water flow uphill, of course.”
    I will tel you how to believe that that water can flow uphill: You just need a strong magnet, electrical current and salty water:

  14. omg says:

    Please replace “Bunt” by “But”

  15. smee says:

    Fresh, funny and relevant as ever author:

    Good evening all.

    [Don’t start]

  16. Author says:

    @Street Epistemologist I haven’t read Peter’s book yet, but it’s on my list. This strip was originally published in 2007.

  17. WalterWalcarpit says:

    I just did a very odd thing.
    I just bought Mohammed Jones’s entire catalogue of J & M publications (including both versions of Book 3) having been reimbursed today by a community group via PayPal.
    “That took a long time, eh Wal?” is what I put on the order note – which would be extra fun if it appears on the outside of the packaging given it’s destination.
    Now to see if I can beat them to Brisbane for what will indeed be a busy season.

    It’s never too late to say it, so Happy New Year to you all.

  18. ottebrain says:

    Love this resurrection-loved it the first time too! So clever; I mean some religious people must be aware that some of the things they believe in are stupid and only believe in them to antagonize us, it seems. I’d rather a religion free world but hey! they can still be a subject of ridicule for us. Thanks, and Merry December everyone!

  19. Undeluded says:

    So, believers pretend (really hard) to have faith in belief! Why quit there? One deluded character deluding another deluded character may continue indefinitely – they have confidence in celestial assurance for trusting divine providence having a conviction for its credence! Now join the end of this chain to the beginning, and we have our circular “illogic.”

    Thanks for the clarification, hotrats! I’m really glad I misunderstood you!

    I wonder if an anthology of Nassar’s contributions is in the offing. Any suggestions for a title? Inoffensive, of course.

  20. Lancaster Brown says:

    Why does religion exist? Why are people religious? We know that they’re delusional and reaching for easy answers that bear no relevance to the real world.
    And yet they’re still with us?
    Why haven’t they been evolved out of existence?
    Is religion such a recent phenomenon that evolution hasn’t had time to do its thing?
    Or could it be that being religious actually conveys some form of advantage?

  21. two cents' worth says:

    omg, thanks for the links to the Bill Maher video and the physics video! I sit* corrected regarding getting water to flow uphill 🙂 .

    *I’m sitting because it’s easy to type when I sit, but not when I stand 😉 .

  22. Jesus loves him some cognitive dissonance, I tell you what 😉

  23. djdummy says:

    Live two sents worth live, Then we will feed the worms. Big +.DJ

  24. Mary2 says:

    Lancaster Brown, THere have been suggestions that religion conveys evolutionary advantages: mainly to do with obedience to authority (children learning by being told instead of having to work it all out for themselves); strengthening group cohesiveness etc. As with all evolutionary psychology it comes with the caveat that this is conjecture not ‘proof’. I’m sure some of the regulars will know much more about this area than I do and may chose to enlighten us both.

  25. Undeluded says:

    Lancaster Brown – your queries are so fundamental that the amount of time, ink and bandwidth dedicated to them are unfathomable. I googled “why is there religion” and got over 700 million hits. I random-read a few, and I particularly enjoyed which seems fair and balanced (and with hardly any trolling!).

    My own take is that the main reason for religion existing today is the same I give to so many “why” question: it’s the way our brains are wired. We are born with an enormous capacity for learning hard-coded in our brains. In our early stages of life we get our first knowledge from our parents and later from other adults and peers. If this initial learning process imbues religion – any religion – into a child’s mindset as indoctrination (as against entertaining stories), chances are this child will grow up to be a devotee of that same religion. Unfortunately, this self-perpetuation is exactly what is happening.

    Of course, there are exceptions. There are those who turn to religion in adulthood, and vice versa. But I believe that if there were no systematic religious education, religion would probably die out (or, at worst, just be a mostly ignored cult). The greatest contribution atheists can make toward a better world is in making appropriate reforms in government-controlled education for children.

    And blogs like this one are probably the most effective medium for influencing adults.

  26. two cents' worth says:

    Lancaster Brown, you could base an academic career on investigating the questions you’ve posed 🙂 . I can’t add much to Undeluded’s reply to you, but if you’re interested in learning more about how the “wiring” of the human brain led to the development of religion, one of the books that you might find useful is Why God won’t go away : brain science and the biology of belief, by Andrew Newberg.

  27. John Moriarty says:

    enough to make one believe in resurrection.

  28. two cents' worth says:

    Omg, thanks for the links! My favorite line from one of the videos: “Religions are natural phenomena; they’re just as natural as cows.” (Which reminded me of something Miss Manners wrote, along the lines of, “Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean we should do it.”) Dennett’s ideas are fascinating, and I admire how he expresses disagreement without being disagreeable. I look forward to checking out his other TED talks and his books. I’d particularly like to learn his thoughts on how to curb dangerous memes. Does anyone here at Cock & Bull know which of his books addresses that point?

  29. eddy says:

    Or maybe pretending you’re not pretending.

  30. JoJo says:

    two cents:
    Just as natural as cows.. or what comes out the end, at any rate…

  31. Undeluded says:

    Thanks, omg, for the Dennet links. Interesting – whereas Dennet proposes teaching all religions in schools and I propose teaching none, we both agree that teaching just one religion is “a bad thing.” However, with Dennet’s proposal there arises the problem of not leaving any religion out of the syllabus. Furthermore, the “facts, not values” demand will probably meet with fierce arguments – just as they are today. And how about extinct religions? Then again, the argument could be taken further – alchemy, astrology, homeopathy, etc. could all claim to be included; they are all basically belief systems lacking substantiating evidence.

    Bottom line – I doubt very much whether is or my approaches will ever be adopted in a democracy. But we gotta keep trying!

  32. Undeluded says:

    “Whether his” – not “whether is.” Sorry.

  33. Non-super Man says:

    JoJo and two cents’ worth : Cows are *NOT* natural, they are machines created by humans to turn inedible grass into highly edible burgers and steaks. They came from things that were randomly evolved; wild cow-like animals the ancient humans trapped, fed and mutated but the common Western cow could no more survive in “Nature” than could a seedless grape or a banana.
    Or was that the point? That religions, too, are highly unnatural? That they are machines, systems invented to control the masses and ensure the privileges of the privileged? I wouldn’t know as I haven’t watched the videos.

    Undeluded: it’s not physically possible to teach all religions, even if the students spend their entire lives on the task. Far too many of them are restricted to small groups who don’t proselytise and even more are micro-schisms of others. Then there’s Islam which may be fully understood by a couple of people in all of History; or not. It’s a complex beasty. I did a class called “Comparative Religions” once. It skimmed the very obvious surface of a couple of religions and mentioned that there were many more not included in the curriculum.
    Thousands of religions – or thought patterns and mythologies that could be taken as religions in dim light – don’t even have true “gods”. They make do with things mid-way between Marvel Superheroes, unconscious forces of nature that have no choice in what they must do and trickster humans. Those would be difficult to explain to a child whose parents are devout Muslims. No supreme boss creator yet a load of super-beings running around interfering. No “good and evil” just helpful, indifferent and mischievous.
    It may not be a bad thing to teach one single religion in schools, so long as it is placed in the same category as “Marvel” comics and the “Harry Potter” books. One story about how the world began, how super-beings from Outside interfered with human social evolution and how morals and ethics and general niceness are all very good ideas.
    Morality, ethics and general niceness are difficult concepts to teach to selfish apes at the best of times. Trying to do it without some sort of punishment for infractions of the general niceness rules could well be impossible. At least until the little thugs leave school and start earning a living. Maybe even then.
    Children are not born bad, nor born innocent, they are born quite blank and need to *learn* bad. That’s easy. Learning “good” [kindness, leaving others be, generally being nice] takes a bit more effort. Kick-starting it without some sort of absolute moral reference point may be considerably more work than just telling them not to ‘cos it’ll anger the boss.
    Still, I would dearly love to see the results of a society, a completely isolated and superstition-free society, that tried.
    Whether it succeeded or wasted itself in selfishly hedonistic apocalypses it would finally end the debate over whether religion was *needed*.
    That could be a mercy.

  34. Non-super Man says:

    omg: I watched the Mr. Dennet videos. Thank you. I was right, he did think religions were machines designed for a purpose but built on evolved foundations, very like cows and aurochs. He’s a good talker but he really needs more time.

    Dan Dennet : quoting a random church: “Good without god becomes 0”.
    Actually, I would fully endorse that.
    Zero harm done in the name of an over-boss, zero reason for hating the worshippers of some other over-boss or your very own boss in the wrong manner and zero reasons for thinking your myth is better than my myth so it needs and demands legislative support.
    Most importantly, zero pressure to do evil in support of “good”.
    That is a very good slogan for the support of a neutral, godless state in which Humans decide what is kind and what is nasty. A rational state in which you can use this simple logic:
    I don’t like being hurt
    She’s a being very like me
    She won’t like being hurt
    I should never hurt her.
    Having a non-zero, fixed state in which some over-lord tells you that hurting someone can be a goodness, even if they don’t like it, is an idea installed in a few of the more popular religions. Not having it, being in zero-mode with the possibility of learning that this is idiocy is possibly a good thing.

    Dan Dennet: “no other species does this”. Inaccurate at best. Dogs protect their humans with no genetic linkage involved and I’ve lived with a cat that did the same thing. I’ve even seen magpies protecting other birds from my cat, the other one who never figured out birds were good eating and who would go to sleep among them. And Koko kept kittens. Whether Koko understood that these were alive in the same sense as Koko herself will probably never be known but it does show that some non-human animals can transcend genetics.
    A little.

  35. Undeluded says:

    Non-super Man – re your 11:50 pm post: wonderful reading Thank you. How about taking it one step further? Teach atheism in schools! Or, at least, expose it. Introduce small children to the equivalence of the bible to fairy tales and myths, and refer the older pupils to Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, J&M, and more. Surely there are secular schools on this planet (well, maybe not in Iran or North Korea or… oh, dear, this will be a long list).

    Re your 1:17 am post: Your zero-mode wouldn’t work for me, I’m afraid. I need law and legislature of some kind to keep things running smoothly. Taking your simple logic and expanding a bit:
    I don’t like being hurt
    She’s a being very like me
    She won’t like being hurt
    I should never hurt her.

    However, she is far weaker/stupider/poorer than me, so there’s nothing wrong in taking advantage of her. I don’t intend to hurt her, but I “need” what she has more than she does.

    I realize that any law system would have its opposers – that is almost always the case. The number of these opposers need to be kept at a minimum, but you’ll probably never abolish jails and insane asylums. Deficient as it may be, democracy is still (in principle) the best solution. As Dennet said, you need informed voters to make it succeed. Religion suppresses information and promotes delusions (as do totalitarian regimes), but in democracies – where you and I can voice our opinions, and perhaps advocate reason to the undecided, there is a chance of weakening (at least, institutional) religion.

  36. Non-super Man says:

    Undeluded, you talk as though religion were somehow an enemy. As though it is either die religious or live free forever as some sort of “Vulcan”, a kind of best-of-human being. You are not the only one. Some of the other posters over the last few months have also seemed to express the thought that it’s a binary universe, that, as one poster said “the religious see the Earth as a grave, those with the Dream see it as a cradle”. There are, of course, many middle ways.
    It need not be that limited.
    Just as an example, how about a godless, non-supernatural religion of the Human Galaxies. A religion with the one purpose of greening the cosmos, of seeding the worlds of all the stars with the grandchild species of our cultures. A faith in the future that can accept the premises of all other faiths – all others – so long as the one over-arching drive to make the stars human abodes is paramount and fundamental.
    We could strive for Eternity, in this life and in whatever is next. The two are not incompatible.
    It does not matter what else you believe, so long as you believe in Man.

    “The wiccan rede eight words fulfil, an it harm none do as you will.”
    The Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest.
    Same idea expressed in different logics. I help you, and everyone else, because I know that one day I will need help. I don’t harm you because harm to you will eventually be harm to me.
    Sure, I’m bigger and stronger than some, but there is always some bigger, stronger savage. PESI, and ideas like the Rede and indeed twelve millennia of civilisation – including much of the best of all religions – are all about not taking sweets from babies just because you can.
    It’s a fairly simple idea. It’s somewhat like the famed “Golden Rule”, expanded a little to encompass the idea of future benefits from embracing it.
    It’s an idea we could easily teach as the keystone of all religion even the Starman religion of the Human Galaxies.
    Don’t hit your little sister for you may need her when she’s a famed, skilled surgeon, or starship captain also she doesn’t like being hit.
    It’s not original, some of the C&B regulars have already mentioned it, but we could teach the children the words of their parents’ gods and the scientific method and be true to both.
    Faith and reason are compatible.
    Both are beautiful in their way.

  37. Undeluded says:

    Non-super Man: Apparently I did not clarify my ideas enough. Religion per se is not the enemy. Institutionalized religion and its self-perpetuation by brainwashing children are the enemy. When religious institutions have their way, my (democratic) freedom is compromised – I’m sure I don’t need to produce evidence for that.

    In a certain sense, it is the religionistas who live in that “binary universe” you mentioned. When the need rises to oppose them, that is the kind of challenge I face. They see it as a mission to try to impose on me their notions of afterlife, worship methods, various ceremonies and emblems, etc. Some profess indoctrinated hatred for me, worthy of death, just because I do not follow their dogmas. When that happens, I, for one, will not “suffer their slings and arrows” (apologies, WS).

    Your utopian portrait of a godless religion (are you promoting Buddhism?) is all very well, but just telling people not to be “bad” won’t, I’m afraid, make them so. Even Buddhism has its criminals and insane. Human nature allows for people to be, consciously and voluntarily, parasitic and power-seeking, putting what we call scruples and morals behind them. There will always be that minority, and the rest of society needs to deal with them.

    It all boils down (for me, at least) to: do people’s beliefs make sense in terms of reflecting reality? Well, some may ask me if I’m sure there is only one objective reality, to which I respond with a “yes.” It’s what keeps me sane and functioning. I might pander to other philosophies from an academic point of view, but in discourse with my fellow human, “truth” and “reality” are the first terms we need to agree on! (I’ve discussed my definition list elsewhere). Sorry, NsM, but I cannot find a “middle way” between truth and non-truth. I’ll accept “maybe truth” under the condition that eventually that term needs to be resolved one way or another.

    “We could strive for Eternity, in this life and in whatever is next. The two are not incompatible.” That’s a tough one for me to swallow. Striving for the world you describe sounds very much like just another religion – you’ve practically described the doctrine as well (The Principle) – especially raising my eyebrows when you refer to something that follows “this life.”

    “Faith and reason are compatible.
    Both are beautiful in their way.”

    In my book, NsM, the definition of faith is the absence of reason – therefore they are not compatible. It always boggles my mind how religionistas attempt to bring logic and reason (even science!) to back up their claims. However, I heartily agree that beauty may be found in both (and probably in everything else, existing or imaginary).

    As an atheist, I am negating the principles of religion; I’m not looking for a better alternative! (Which – by the way – I’d be happy to adopt if presented to me convincingly).

    Are you an atheist, NsM?

  38. Non-super Man says:

    Undeluded asked: “Are you an atheist, NsM?”

    Who knows? Who cares? I refuse point blank to force any belief I might have onto anyone else, or any non-belief for that matter.
    I am not entirely sure faith and reason are incompatible. So long as you keep your faiths to yourselves, don’t tell anyone and pray, if you must, silently in a cupboard who *cares* what you believe? So long as you can operate in a rational fashion, a caring, human, humane manner, does it matter whether you believe in pixies, Satan Claws [the demon street-cat] or wise and powerful bananas?
    The problem seems to be getting to the point where reason is resorted to *first* and that is just a matter of training. People can be trained to whip round, crouch, flash a pistol out of a holster and fire at a single unexpected noise. Training them to ask “What the fuck was that?” before crouching and firing could be contrary to personal survival at times but maybe more often it could be the basis for a calmer world.
    React with a reasoned response first. Believe what you like while doing so.
    Okay, so it only works for non-criminal sane people but those are the majority and the tiny minority of insane people can be coped with. Coping with criminals isn’t easy, but it isn’t easy even in totalitarian theocracies; were it, there would be no need for punishments. That’s not the kind of problem one can solve in a C&B comment; anyway, there are very smart people around who can work on that one.
    That “pray silently in a cupboard” idea isn’t mine. It’s from Leviticus or Numbers or somewhere. It pre-dates Christianity and Islam by centuries. I think. It’s late and I can’t be bothered WikiPeeing it.

    Okay, I was wrong about the source, it is the first verses in Matthew 6, which makes it just barely Christian.
    It still pre-dates much of Christianity and all of Islam.

    To answer your question truthfully, Undeluded, I’m not an atheist, a theist or an agnostic. I’m just a man trying to cope with a complex world. I don’t see belief as mattering much whether I had any or not.
    But then, I’m not a True Believer so I wouldn’t.

  39. Undeluded says:

    Good luck, NsM, in ‘coping with a complex world.’ IMHO, the first steps I would take in such an endeavor would be to find tools to help me distinguish between truth and delusion!

  40. lol says:

    i think the reposting of this comic indicates that the moses character has been absent for far too long.

    this sort of pretence of knowledge is pretty much universal. it is present every time somebody presents as fact something that they have obtained from some other source. even facts coming from one’s own experience, such as scientific ideas espoused by a scientist working on them or a witness (eye, ear, or character) testifying in court, are subject to their own particular contextual inbuilt assumptions (reliability of perceptions and measurements etc.)

    i think the only definition of faith i’ve ever really been happy with is the gap between what we can establish to be true and what we are convinced is true – the leap of faith is that act of “rounding up”. whether the gap is all that exists depends on how much you subscribe to the ideas of the moses character, whose way of thinking has a name that i can’t quite recall. help, anyone?

  41. lol says:

    i don’t appear to be able to comment on the previous comic. presumably this is by author’s decree, as things do seem to have escalated (descended?).

    i haven’t completely decided, but i probably disagree with the ‘endorsement of segragation’ thing. certainly it has tended to frustrate me when i attend events. (though i suspect my reasons for this are in part less idealistic and more selfish. not to suggest i go to these things to eye up and bother women, because i’m significantly too shy for that. i just enjoy the presence. anyway, this is an embarassing tangent.)

    the reason i’m not rushing to sign the petition is the tricky idea that segregation is tantamount to ‘apartheid’ as practiced in, say, 1980s south africa. it is etymologically equivalent, sure, but i genuinely don’t think that the segregation at the events i have attended has treated women as having lower importance.

    however, i’m reluctant to oppose the petition, because i would definitely oppose this reasoning if it came to race: while there is a clear ideological distinction between racial separatism and racial supremacism, i do suspect an ingrained version of the latter can permeate the former and i don’t think the former is to be accommodated even if it is free of hatred, second-class treatment and the like.

    but then, while i suspect most people would oppose, say, race-segregated toilet and changing-room facilities, i have a feeling that not all people signing the petition to rescind approval of sex-segregated audiences would sign one to abolish single-sex bathrooms. perhaps they should be and the wait for this is only a matter of time, even if i’ve just committed some egregious reductio-ad-extremum sin, partly since the same trans rights issues crop up wherever any gender segregation does.

    a happy coincidence, given the theme of this particular comic, as i must conclude that, at least here, i just don’t know.

    (does this mean that i haven’t, after all, wandered horrendously off-topic?)

    sorry for the lengthy, meandering post. it is a fairer representation of my thought patterns than my previous, usually shorter, interventions. i’m happy not to comment further on this, should there be a fear of sparking something akin to what happened in the previous comments section. good night all.

  42. Non-super Man says:

    Undeluded: are you insinuating that I am delusional? Guilty as charged. I think people are basically trainable to be good, kind and generous of spirit, that dogs like me, that cats like me, that I’m a fairly nice guy at heart and probably a lot of other unlikely things.
    That doesn’t mean I’m wrong, though. There’s a small but finite chance that any particular delusion might actually model reality, might be right, without it necessarily being related to or caused by reality.
    “A stopped clock is right twice daily” always struck me as particularly idiotic as there is no way of knowing *when* it shows the correct time so it may as well not ever do so. However, a clock running slow, or fast, may also tell the correct time occasionally and just as uselessly without ever being reset by connecting it to reality.
    Being deluded may make me crazy, if I were deluded, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m always wrong. Just more likely not to know *when* I’m unwrong.

    lol: separating toilets is done for reasons of decency. To devout followers of quite a number of faiths, a similar decency aspect is present when gatherings gather. The question is: when does decency *not* impose a duty to segregate? Women are generally searched by female officers, generally kept in segregated prisons, generally kept in segregated sporting events (Women’s tennis) but not – in the “satanic” West, usually – kept segregate when shopping or in school.
    There are special one-sex schools, even in liberal England but these are the exception and usually legacy. There are shops no man would go into (I went into a fancy underwear shop with my sister once, it felt *wrong*) but not many. with all the segregation we are happy to accept, what does it matter, really, if a nice gentleman thinks decency is offended by not extending it a little?
    Isn’t making a guest comfortable the decent thing to do?
    Wouldn’t insisting on our ways be indecent and rude?
    Aren’t I about to be slowly broiled by my sister?
    Those of strong faith in their own paths would have answers to all of those questions. My sister certainly would. Continued consciousness post mortem? Big hairy fairy building gardens full of clay people? True believers might think they know, some of the rest of us don’t.
    So long as no harm is done, what would be wrong with making the guest feel better? Even if he is not undeluded.
    And now I’m banned, yes?

  43. Non-super Man says:

    Parting gift:
    She’s a rather sexist superhero, but so were some Phantoms, and Doc Savage. There’s no indication, yet, as to whether Qahera is devout. Or even Muslim. Maybe that comes later.
    Now to see if PhysicsRoolz was right …

  44. Second Thought says:

    Call me strange but I am just not interested in making someone comfortable in their sexist traditions.

  45. Micky says:

    Nsm – you might find this interesting…

    For me, I’m with Arthur C. Clarke…

    I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.

  46. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Blimey, I go away for a few days and come back to Zen, and the Art of Talking Metabollocks

    Did you hear about the homeopath who forgot to take his medicine and died of an overdose?

  47. Acolyte, metabollocks. I am stealing that for sure. 🙂

  48. Undeluded says:

    NsM – no insinuation at all, merely pointing out my own preferences in my approach to a complex world.

    But please do not admit you are delusional. That is tantamount to denying concrete evidence and/or living in an imaginary world! The image you project of yourself is almost (in my terms) saintly. Kindness and goodwill to all are undeniably “good” and “moral” (I put quotes there to emphasize that these terms have various interpretations) attributes in practically all societies. I agree – you are most probably a very nice guy, and a pleasure to be acquainted with.

    Your issue of “wrong,” however, is… um… faulty. Everybody is occasionally wrong. Personally, if I find myself in the wrong, I want to know why and – if possible – take steps to avoid being wrong again. That does not seem to concern you. While you are talking of just being wrong, I am talking about being repeatedly wrong. You realize that both your clocks are useless for telling time – yet what would you call those people who insist that those clocks are what they consider their time-telling authority? Would you, in all kindness, attempt to set them right? And how would you react if they also insisted that you tell time their way? And your children be taught the same?

    How about getting the (more expensive, I expect) clock fixed? For your own peace of mind, I mean. It may or may not help in convincing those “others” above.

    I agree, NsM, you are not always wrong. But for me it matters to be less wrong to the best of my ability. Being non-delusional helps a lot.

    The existing “segregation” by sexes can be categorized thus:

    a) that’s how the sexes prefer it (toilets, body searches, etc.) I’ve seen enough joint public toilets; just stalls, no urinals – just like at home). This may be a disappearing feature in an enlightened community. There are places where a doctor may not examine a patient of the opposite gender – aren’t we beyond that today? But some people still have a preference for that (due to their upbringing). This links to c) below.

    b) equality of opportunity – physical sports mainly. You have mixed bridge competitions (can you imagine segregation there?) and even chess grandmasters of both sexes compete against each other.

    c) dogmas of morality (decency).

    d) artistry – women’s choirs and men’s choirs – just because of the beautiful quality of the output.

    BTW, prison segregation is part of the punishment, as is solitary confinement.

    Let me expand on c) a bit. This is usually not a problem where cultures do not mingle. Within your mosque or synagogue you can segregate as you see fit. But when you’re a visitor to a non-segregating culture, you need to show the same kind of flexibility you would expect of visitors to your own culture. Decency is relative (and heavily related to morals). If I were to give a lecture in a muslim university, could I insist that the sexes be mixed, because “otherwise I would be offended” (which, in fact, I would)?

    Demanding your culture be “respected” when in conflict with another, hosting, culture is grounds for opposition. I see the concealing of a face on the streets of London as offensive as the Muslim would the revelation of female hair on the streets of Mecca – yet the former “needs” to be tolerated and the latter considered a crime.

    Micky – excellent link. Thank you.

    AoS – I’m stealing that, too!

  49. hotrats says:

    Evidence of elevated Basal Metabollock Rates?

  50. botanist says:

    Still grinning at metabollocks. Imagining exam question of the future, where student answers with ‘metabolism, as defined by the world-renowned Acolyte back in 2013, is…’
    hotrats, yes 🙂

  51. Chiefy says:

    AoS, I’m stealing “metabollocks” and that great one-liner. I have no shame. 😮

  52. Metabollocks is a branch of metaphysics. Actually, it’s the whole damn discipline.

  53. IanB says:

    lol says:

    “but then, while i suspect most people would oppose, say, race-segregated toilet and changing-room facilities, i have a feeling that not all people signing the petition to rescind approval of sex-segregated audiences would sign one to abolish single-sex bathrooms”

    Many years ago on a camping tour of France I stopped at a fairly well equipped site site in which the facilities were communal. There were doors on the toilets and the showers but the basins were all in one area and there was only a single block unlike most places where the male/female facilities are split. Now I didn’t see much difference in this to visiting someone at home and it seemed to bother no one for the first few days I stopped there. Then a muslim chap and his family came, and then left very quickly once the patron explained the layout.

    Basically it’s all social conditioning and can be overcome with the application of some thought. Bit like religion really.

  54. Old Johnson says:

    On the subject of the comic strip: J & M and all their friends believe that people are really some sort of non-physical immortal entity that temporarily lives in a meat suit then goes on to one of two, or three, afterlives.
    This is a strange idea, but let’s go with it.
    Let us think on how a typical human family fares.
    A baby dies after being baptised near birth so she is saved. Thirty years later her mother dies. She was maybe fifty-ish. Fifty-odd years later than that the husband and former father follows. So far, so good, however …
    When movies and TV shows show the long-deceased welcoming the recently deceased into the light the first ones to go have not aged. Children stay children, Granny stays Granny and Daddy recognises them instantly.
    This is getting even stranger.
    When Daddy arrives, is Child eighty years old with an entire life behind her, half a century of which she has shared with Mummy? Has Daddy missed her entire childhood and young, active adulthood? Has Daddy missed helping her grow?
    Has Mummy spent half a century in misery with her child but without Daddy?
    Or have the dead ones sat in frozen limbo while Daddy suffers through eighty and fifty years of loss? Have the dead ones seen no time at all so not even noticed they had a loss? Is living time not related in any way to time among the dead? How is that in anyway a life?
    Either way, it’s grossly unfair, isn’t it?
    Sorry if this is a digression from the main thrust of the ongoing discussion but the problem has bothered me a tiny bit ever since I noticed that TV ghosts don’t seem to age much.
    And then there’s the loving, devout, Catholic lady who marries and very much loves a dissolute, arrogant, irreverent, irreligious heathen. (It happens, even the true love part.) They go separate ways and they do so forever.
    How could this ever make her eternally happy? Is she re-programmed to forget all about her evil lesser half just to keep the peace in paradise?
    More unfairness and strangeness.
    The more one considers this segregation by moral choices thing, this separation by state of livingness thing and the eternal and unchanging consequences of them the stranger and more unfair it seems.
    Being re-united with your children forever seems like a good idea and a lovely gift from a nice big daddy until you wonder who the hell this octogenarian is. And why the other one resembles your wife’s mother so much.
    It’s a weird idea at the best of times. Weirder when you examine it closely enough.
    And where do the children souls learn about shoes? If they had lived, Mummy would have taught them all about sensible shoes and their peers all about non-sensible ones but are there really shoe shops in Eternity?
    Can a spirit learn about painting, including painting themselves to look pretty? Or did the octogenarian once-child soul miss out on all the fun of finger paints?
    All simplistic questions, I know but I’ve never seen answers.
    Maybe WikiPedia has them?

  55. mmmmQ says:

    I’ve been looking for an excuse to comment for some time, and keep leaving it far too late. I’m leaving it late again and it’s only vaguely related to last week’s topic, but maybe someone has the imagination to explain this inconsistent approach to segregation that has often amused/confused me.

    Intercity buses in Turkey were (still are?) subject to low-level gender segregation. Unrelated men and women do not sit next to each other, where tickets do not assign a seat an usher (conductor?) will assign seats, and I have even seen one (usher) growl at people who subsequently moved, and order them back to their original seats. On intercity minibuses and trains such segregation seems to be common, but entirely voluntary. Intracity buses vary significantly depending on the city. On planes I have noticed no such segregation, even when the booking form requires a defacto declaration of gender (a required title field which, in English, gives only the option of Mr or Mrs). I’m still wondering what temptations exist on a bus that don’t on a train or an aeroplane.

  56. Barr-the-Door says:

    Has anyone posted this link :
    You people may find it funny. Not safe for work.
    Merry Christmas.

  57. omg says:

    Ok, that is the best description of the creation the universe that can be.

  58. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Metabollocks is the natural language of metaphysics, post-modernism*, and New-Age-anything. In fact, a Venn diagram showing the intersection of metabollocks within the three disciplines doesn’t so much look like three circles with a common, shared area, it’s a triple full-eclipse.
    And you don’t have to steal ‘metabollocks’; what’s mine is yours, mi casa si casa, and all that.

  59. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oh, the asterisk after ‘post-modernism’? Since ‘post’ means ‘after’, and ‘modern’ means ‘now’, isn’t ‘post-modern’ just an arty-farty (metabollocky) way of saying ‘future’?

    There’s a lot of new names here just lately; welcome one and all to the Cock and Bull. Don’t be shy of voicing your opinions; even so-called ‘dissenting’ views are welcome, even encouraged, and please rest assured that nobody is either banned or bullied here for not ‘going with the flow’. Irrelevance, irreverence, daft jokes, serious conversations, alternative viewpoints: pretty much anything goes, but we crusty old – and not-so old – regulars have little tolerance for sheer stupidity, racism, sexism, or homophobia. Don’t worry about going ‘off-topic’, we are a bunch of meanderthals, so whatever’s on your mind, just say it. The conversation may at times get a little robust, and the language on occasion rather fruity, but don’t let that put you off; it’s not personal, just normal bar-room banter between friends old and new, lifted whole from the pub and re-located here.
    So, charge your glasses, pull up a chair, and enjoy being a part of the best site and chat on the interwebs.

  60. hotrats says:

    That’s ‘mi casa su casa’ – ‘si’ means ‘if’. Only one key adrift, so probably just a typo.

    Oh, the asterisk after ‘post-modernism’? Since ‘post’ means ‘after’, and ‘modern’ means ‘now’, isn’t ‘post-modern’ just an arty-farty (metabollocky) way of saying ‘future’?

    Er, no. Modernism was trend in the arts that expressed a complete break with the past, more specifically with the bourgeois values of Edwardian culture. According to Wiki,

    ‘…Modernism encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the “traditional” forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.’

    ‘modern’ and ‘Modernist’ are not equivalent. ‘modern’ does means ‘recent’, but ‘Modernism’ as a movement arguably began in the middle of the 19th century and was in decline by the 1960s. You are right to say that ‘post-modern’ literally means futuristic, but until another art movement has a similar impact on society, ‘Post-Modernism’ is just the default description of our present culture, and does in that respect mean ‘now’.

  61. omg says:

    Woo: very nice reading. I must approve…

  62. Chiefy says:

    I enjoyed your musings, Old Johnson. To me, it’s quite simple. There are no rules concerning the nature of afterlife. If you want to reconcile your vision with some traditional formulation, go ahead. If you don’t care about that, just make up any scenario you want. It’s not like there’s any evidence to contradict your story. Fantasy can be lots of fun, as long as one doesn’t take it too seriously.

  63. WalterWalcarpit says:

    IanB, wrt your camping story, I find that extremely pertinent (to last weeks strip).

    A perfectly sensible and presumably efficient set up was not up to the standards of a client with a particularly structured belief system – and importantly one he was trying to impose on his family and so was not about to allow an opportunity for his metabollocks to be questioned or doctrine to be challenged.
    So he left, just as he had every right to do just as the camp site and the other guests had every right, even reason, to step away from the norm.

    Now, imagine if Universities UK had taken the other path available to them; the one that celebrates Universities as special places of higher learning and of debate and free thinking and of enlightenment and all the other positive memes they have been over the centuries. Then unequivocally the edict would have been that segregation of any form in a public space is contrary to the principles and philosophies of both higher education and of our explicitly secular and generally progressive contemporary society and thus would not be tolerated. (Otherwise we will never get beyond postmodern, and I too am ready to move on from that).

    And thus the guest speakers would have a clear choice either to surrender their intolerance and outward manifestations of their prejudice at the entrance (just as a visitor is expected to surrender footwear when entering a mosque irrespective of personal belief) as a condition of accepting the privilege of an opportunity to address the students on their hallowed campus or to leave (and take his chances on finding an intelligent audience that is prepared to pander to his prejudice).

    Talk about cut their cake and eat it!

    I refuse to tolerate religious tolerance.
    I say ‘No Pasaran!’

  64. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Walter, re. “Talk about cut their cake and eat it!”

    Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say anything they like, but if anybody says anything back, that is an outrage.
    Winston Churchill

    When do you fly out to Brisbane? I’m not sure where Mary2 lives but as Australia isn’t really that big (the first cartographer to put the place on a map buggered-up the scale, but nobody thought to check:-) ) I’m sure she’d love to show you the sights.

    I saw my neighbour’s young daughter digging quite an impressively-sized hole in their garden earlier, so I asked her why she was doing it.
    ‘I’m burying my pet hamster,’ she said, ‘it died today’.
    ‘I’m sorry to hear that, but isn’t the hole a bit on the large side for a hamster?’ I asked.
    ‘Not really’, she said, ‘ the hamster’s still inside my brother’s rottweiler!’

  65. John M says:

    @Old Johnson
    Maybe not Wikipedia, but I’ll bet Conservapedia has those answers.

  66. John M says:

    @ Ian B
    Perhaps the unsegregated facilities in France are deployed deliberately in some cases. Like the Spanish pig-burying exercise designed to prevent erection of a mosque. The difference being that the Spanish announced what they were up to.

  67. Acolyte, all I can say is (groan). Your description of the atmosphere here is exactly why this is pretty much the only forum I comment on.

    Old Johnson’s your musing on the nature of an afterlife: All I can do is put it down to simple minds thinking simple thoughts. Metabollickally speaking there’s no kind of afterlife that makes any sense at all.

    WalterWalcarpit , yes, the university missed the chance to make a good decision and instead made a very bad one. Sad.

    Hotrats, I believe the phrase is mi casa es su casa. You need the es in there. Or maybe it’s est. Or is that Latin? The es means “is”, as in My house is your house.

  68. Acolyte, the groan was in response to your dead hamster joke.

  69. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Did that come across as a joke, DH? I can only assume that the kids round these parts must be a different breed to the ones you’re used to, my friend. 🙂

  70. Acolyte, if that wasn’t a joke then I’m really impressed with your neighbour’s daughter.

  71. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Call it a ‘shaggy dog’ story, Darwin.

  72. Chiefy says:

    DH, technically it is “Mi casa es su casa,” but you can say “Mi casa, su casa.” It’s more informal, but still correct. More informal would be “Mi casa es tu casa,” but I have never heard that. I suppose that anyone you would “tutear” would already know to treat your place as their own.

    Intercultural marriage is so complicated.


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