I hate to break it to you, gentle reader, but fake facts are nothing new. We are designed by evolution to invent fake facts, fervently believe in them, and even defend them to the death. Still, there is something about the current epidemic of fake facts that should scare us into action.

Imagine grading everything you ever said according to two criteria: 1) How well it corresponds to what’s actually out there, and 2) what it causes you and others to do. These can be called factual realism and practical realism, respectively, and they are so familiar that we use the word “realistic” in both senses without needing to think about it. If we’re at an art gallery and I comment on how a portrait is realistic, I mean that it corresponds closely to the person being depicted (factual realism). When you outline your latest get rich quick scheme over lunch and I call it unrealistic, I mean that it probably won’t work out well for you (practical realism). All of us are experts at toggling between factual realism mode and practical realism mode as warranted by the situation.

Read the essay at the source : The Evolution Institute.

Sunday’s Sermon

Rescuing Memory: the Humanist Interview with Noam Chomsky

Noam C

Plan Ahead: Doctor-Assisted Suicide – A Two-Part Lecture Series on the Ethical Foundations

There is a very timely two-part lecture series coming up at the Institute of Practical Philosophy at Vancouver Island University in April:

  • Is Doctor Assisted Suicide Acceptable? Thursday, April 7th, 4-5:30pm, Bldg. 200, Rm. 203 (Theatre), VIU
  • How Should We Move Forward? Thursday, April 21st, 4-5:30, Bldg. 200, Rm. 203 (Theatre), VIU

Screenshot 2016-03-13 at 15.58.51

For more information, see the Institute of Practical Philosophy Events page.

Canada’s Euthanasia Law

English: Supreme Court of Canada building, Ott...

English: Supreme Court of Canada building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Polls show the public is supportive of assisted dying. The Supreme Court has directed the government to write a new law. Have an opinion? Let the government know what you think. Go here.

More information:

Euthanasia for Children?  [Source.]

Passive euthanasia, withdrawing or withholding treatment with the effect of hastening a patient’s death, has long been legal in Canada. Active euthanasia, taking positive measures to bring about a patient’s death, will soon also be legal as per a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2015. A new public debate has emerged in the wake of this step: Should the right to ask for one’s own life to be terminated to be extended to children too?

It is not as strange a thought as it may seem: in the Netherlands euthanasia is lawful for patients over the age of 12, in Belgium for terminally ill children of any age if they are experiencing ‘constant and unbearable suffering’. The consent of parents and doctors is, of course, needed. Dr Eduard Verhagen is a lawyer and the medical director at the department of paediatrics at the University Medical Center Groningen. He argues that “most children with a life-limiting illness, before they have even entered the terminal phase, have made decisions about their treatment, and about their lives 30, 40 or 50 times.” A Canadian provincial-territorial advisory panel has now argued that access to doctor-assisted dying should not be hindered “by the imposition of arbitrary age limits.”

Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center comments: “Setting the precedent that the state is going to tolerate killing children, even mature minors, is very, very dangerous… It’s the slippery slope argument, and this is a slope I worry about. Sometimes I don’t, but this one I do.” There is also serious opposition from medical practitioners: “Most of our fight is about kids that want to live … not most of our fight, all of our fight is about that, and how to do it with as minimal suffering as possible,” says Dr Stephen Liben, director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital pediatric palliative care programme. “The last thing I need as a palliative care physician for children is a euthanasia law.”

“Euthanasia: The Debate Continues.” [Source.]

Global News report. [Source]