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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,997

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ tests scores developed by independent psychometricians. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Erik Haereid, Rick Rosner, and myself.

Keywords: actuarial science, America, Erik Haereid, Norway, Rick Rosner, statistics, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us talk about good and evil, what defines good? What defines evil? Do these terms suffice in the representation of the reality? 

Or do these terms carry metaphysics and ethical baggage, which detracts from the reality of proper notions of morality?  In a discussion on good and evil, we can analyze the topic from multiple levels. 

Let us talk about the small acts and thoughts, the little world of good and evil, then the next session can engage on a micro-level foundation into dialogue on the medium- and macro-level forms of good and evil. 

What seems like quintessential small acts of good and evil – everyday acts of kindness?  Also, as an aside, does religious belief or faith influence personal conceptions of good and evil?

Erik Haereid: I have experienced a strong connection to others based on mutual feelings and empathy.

One time I met a stranger, a man, on the street downtown, crowded with a lot of people walking in their own thoughts, and he looked me in my eyes and I did the same and both smiled warmly.

It was nothing sexual (I am heterosexual, and I guess he was too), only a friendly empathic mutual silent confirmation (“Hey, I see you”). I felt good the rest of the day.

Small actions like that are good because they enhance something in us. We did both, I am quite sure he did too, became better persons after that moment. I smiled warmly to some others, become more tolerant, friendly and inviting.

Most people, at least in my country, do not understand warmly smiles; they misinterpret it in mistrust. Many, not all, of course, think you want something from them that they don’t have or don’t want to give to you.

The mistrust is basic in our culture. We want the kind smiles and friendly behaviour, but we mix things up. Either we make it sexual, or we think it’s irony and contempt. Trust is essential here; you have to believe in yourself to receive good deeds and implement it into your personality and self-image.

When curiosity is replaced by judging people for their genes or personality, we have a problem as a group, if you ask me. Individual freedom has to be supported by respect for every individual in the crowd.

If not, some maybe gain a lot, but society is polarized, and this implies more conflicts. But, as we can see from for instance my country, the lack of winners strangles each individual; you are forced into an average (the average is the winner).

If you are outside the standard, the average tends to attack you. This system creates polarization too; you have to fit into the average to be accepted by the society.

A good deed or thought is when it makes the other person feel better, also in the long-term. It’s trusting in it. We have to believe in the behaviour. And the same with evil actions; it has to be pointed at us, and we have to believe that the person wants to harm us.

A good thought and deed are one that strengthens the other person’s self-esteem and self-image in a way that does not make him, her or them more extreme egocentric (narcissistic). Evilness is the same with the opposite sign.

In this context, I believe that good and evil deeds (and thoughts) have to make perpetual influences on the object’s mentality. If you save a person from drowning, you make changes to that person’s mentality for the rest of his life.

If you make a person feel bad about herself as part of her perpetual self-esteem, you make eternal changes to her mind. A rape is such a deed. Being bystander to for instance a school-killing, too.

The deeds and thoughts have to be meant; deeds, where the outcome is good/bad for the object, is not good/bad deeds if it is not intended to be. If it’s by chance, by impulse, it’s something else. A condition for good deeds is that the sender has empathy with the other person(s).

To hate or scorn someone for their genes and natural behaviour is evil, even though it’s impulsive and one can’t control the impulse at the moment. This is so, I believe because hate and contempt also are products of some nurturing processes.

You can choose to reflect on your impulsive thoughts, feelings and actions. If you nurture your impulses, you act evil/good. The fact that you have impulses doesn’t make them acceptable or true; they can be worked on and changed.

You can blame the forces of evolution, that something is cemented and not possible to change, and then fasten your immediate emotional experiences.

Or you can believe, as I do, in the elasticity of our brains, and that almost everything is possible beyond the present stringent scientific discrimination and reduction; that we in the future with help from AI, nano- and biotechnology will find a way.

It’s easier to act bad and evil, than good. Then you control your feelings. But the price is high; you also teach others to act the same way to you.

I think the best good act and deed one can do is to open up, and not close others out from your feelings or thoughts and invite others to express their feelings and thoughts whatever they are. This is, of course, more difficult than it sounds.

It assumes that we can handle our own feelings among other reactions and that we really are open-minded towards all other people. As soon we start discriminating, in thoughts or actions (normative, not descriptive), the tense and stress among all in that social realm increases.

Rick Rosner: I wanted one more comment on statistics. Now, it is frustrating because I have many, many years of college courses and extensive training in statistics. But statistics is beyond me now, in terms of being able to do it, because statistics is so coding based that I cannot do anything productive in the field anymore. Because I do not code.

I understand statistics and probability super well, but, at this point, I am nothing but a rank amateur because I cannot build databases, statistical apps, or work with statistical apps.

Now, in terms of good and evil, I look at good and evil as the preservation of order versus the destruction of order, order versus chaos. 

Generally, everything is dressed in story and detail, but, basically, when people are fighting for good; they are fighting for the preservation of structure and order and, usually, higher order.

Star Wars is probably our most prominent good versus evil story now. You can see good as being a higher order that includes individuality and liberty, and the ability to do high-level things. That to be fully developed people who are free to pursue their lives.

The Empire is a suppressive force, which will blow up your planet if you defy them. It is a lower level of order. It is draconian and rule-based and is based on a few simple rules.

The people who are in favour of liberty, the Jedi and the Rebels, stand for a higher level of, say, information processing. The ability to look at the world and address it in sophisticated and creative ways rather than having to reduce the world into a few simple rules as The Empire does.

Good versus evil is about higher-level information processing versus chaos and lower level information processing. The increase in information and order in the world is basically good.

To further clarify based on the questions from you, Scott, evil is associated with the destruction of higher order, whether it is killing a living being, where the living being is higher order, or destroying works of art that are reflections of higher order and so on.

These terms carry ethical baggage, sure, because the ideas are usually brought to us within a philosophical framework that is often obsolete to some extent and has developed its own repressive and not innovative characteristics.

For instance, America is based on, or a lot of American politics is rooted in, the Constitution is the highest level of rule-giving order. 

What we have been running into in today’s stupid American politics, the dumber forces in politics trying to justify whatever they do that is reactionary or repressive by saying that it is based on the originalist conception of the Constitution.

That this is immutable. You must let people have as many guns as they want given the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Then people on the Liberal side arguing less persuasively because they do not have the infrastructure and ruthlessness of the Conservative side.

That our understanding of the Constitution must be tempered by 225 years of history. That the Constitution is centuries old and it is not going to adequately address every possible thing. 

So, the Constitution of this embodiment or this symbol of good, but it is obsolete in a lot of ways. So, yes, conceptions of good and evil can have ethical and historical baggage that fuck things up.

[Addendum from Rick.]

As an addendum, I have said this at greater length, and so have a lot of other people elsewhere. To quickly point out the political situation in the US, due to some demographic game playing that began with the Republicans 30/35/40 years ago – before Reagan, well-funded Republican thinktanks began to research how to wrangle voters.

They found that dumb voters are easier to wrangle. The current situation in American politics is the result of one party spending two generations getting better and better at manipulating dumb voters. 

The Republicans, who started out as a respectable major political party, are, now, at their nadir. Because they have become a party of dumb assholes. Once you start herding dumb people, you have to keep going dumber.

You end with a base and elected officials being more and more amoral/immoral. The values that get lost in the demographic push further and further right. To quickly sum up, it is like smokers.

When I was a kid, a huge percentage of adults smoked, probably well over half. It was in planes and restaurants. Planes would be a bit blue with smoke because so many people smoked cigarettes. Nobody thought anything of it.

I worked in a bar in 1980. 2/3rds of the people smoked. The air was blue-ish with smoke. Over the past 30 years, more and more people have gotten the message about how terrible smoking is – for people and animals around them.

What was widely spread around the general population in 1984, the person who smokes in 2018 is more likely to be either a dick or an idiot. They are like, “Fuck you! I will keep smoking.” They either didn’t get the message.

Or if they did, they don’t care. It is a smaller segment of the population. But in a Bayesian way, as that population shrinks, it keeps proportionately more of the idiots and the assholes. That is basically what has happened with the shrinkage of the Republican base.

If people want a more in-depth conversation on gerrymandering and electoral politics, then they can go elsewhere on other things you and I, Scott, have talked about.

Haereid: I have corrected my view on the evolution process; I see it as brutal, not evil. That’s an important distinction. The evolution process seems evil because it (for humans) contains a lot of evil actions, like manipulations that harm others to gain possession. But in a pure form it’s basically honest and egocentric. I clarify this below.

First a short comment on statistics and data. I also think that statistical methods and math will benefit more in the future, not least because of the huge access to data, such as Google and other big companies has. Greater storage capacity, stronger processors, and “infinite” data access (AI) in the computers will make statisticians’ biggest nightmares, not getting enough data, history.

But, I am not aware of how much and where statistics is used today, but know it’s used in many areas (like medicine and psychology).

Back to the topic: I agree that the development and freedom of the individual must be at the center and that we can and should mature to a higher order; as through a Hegelian dialectic.

It is the outcome of a creative, individual free will. This is what I mean when I say that egoism is altruism (see below); that the good exists in individual freedom and not in the appearance of a straightjacket of conformity and normality.

Egoism is altruism in practice (cf. Aristotle’s Eudaimonia); I use altruism in the sense that all actions we make lead to a win-win situation or any other outcome where one or all loses, and where altruistic actions create win-win situations. I do not believe in complete self-sacrifice. Therefore, I do not use the term altruism in the strictest, most rigid sense.

The best example of altruism is when we feel better after doing others well. Since I feel better, I did it for me, even if you also felt better afterwards. Win-win. You could criticize it and say that it is lack of empathy. But I don’t think so, because the feelings and emotions are contagious.

I do not use egoism and altruism as opposites. When we nurture ourselves, according to our own abilities, opportunities, in freedom, we influence others to do the same, and thus society becomes good (theoretically).

Altruism in the usual meaning of the word, i.e. complete self-sacrifice, often leads to the opposite of intentional intent; violence, war, assault, exploitation, pecking order… It may be a good purpose, but by suppressing your own needs and abilities, your own opportunity to get the best out of your life, and be brainwashed to believe that an overall system, a culture, trumps your own preferences and opportunities, you develop evil.

We become evil of being hindered in our individual growth and development (this is also theoretical: of course not all become evil to others, but perhaps to themselves; self-destructive). The sense of belonging is conditional on being allowed to be oneself in that culture.

In Scandinavia we have a well-developed welfare model, something that I’m a fan of to some extent. And we also have a culture that cultivates equality; by nurturing an egalitarian society everyone gets the same possibilities, worth and we get a good community. This is the doctrine. In practice, it’s almost the opposite.

By cultivating differences, people find each other in mutual respect, and then people act good against each other. It’s about accepting the strengths of others, and using them as inspiration. When we focus on the weaknesses of others, we spend our time on others and not our own abilities and opportunities.

In short, it is not about being equal but about equal worth, and that equal worth is created through acceptance and respect of inequalities. This is good.

At a macro level, such as nations and global societies, one should (to act good) prepare for individual freedom, safety net for those who, for various reasons, should be abandoned, general healthcare, police, etc. (welfare model), and the right to be different; being ourselves (since everyone is different).

When the focus is on equality, the culture undermines the individual’s needs; to develop their abilities, talent, opportunities. Thus, people get frustrated and attack each other.

Egoism (in my sense of the term) is about respecting each other, narcissism about not doing so. An egoist knows how to develop his abilities, but also to see what he is capable of and not. A narcissist believes he is God, Lord above others, and that others obey him.

Competition is important to acknowledge and see how far it is possible to develop. You are not competing to make the others worse, but to make the others even better so you have more to aspire after.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Erik Haereid: “About my writing: Most of my journalistic work I did in the pre-Internet-period (80s, 90s), and the articles I have saved are, at best, aged in a box somewhere in the cellar. Maybe I can find some of it, but I don’t think that’s that interesting.

Most of my written work, including crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway, as Nettavisen is)), a second place (runner up) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985 arranged by Aftenposten, and several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s, is not published online, as far as I can see. This was a decade and less before the Internet, so a lot of this is only on paper.

From the last decade, where I used more time doing other stuff than writing, for instance work, to mention is my book from 2011, the IQ-blog and some other stuff I don’t think is interesting here.

I keep my personal interests quite private. To you, I can mention that I play golf, read a lot, like debating, and 30-40 years and even more kilos ago I was quite sporty, and competed in cross country skiing among other things (I did my military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)). I have been asked from a couple in the high IQ societies, if I know Magnus Carlsen. The answer is no, I don’t :)”

Haereid has interviewed In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal Advisory Board Member Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, some select articles include topics on AI in What will happen when the ASI (Artificial superintelligence) evolves; Utopia or Dystopia? (Norwegian), on IQ-measures in 180 i IQ kan være det samme som 150, and on the Norwegian pension system (Norwegian). His book on the winner/loser-society model based on social psychology published in 2011 (Nasjonalbiblioteket), which does have a summary review here.

Erik lives in Larkollen, Norway. He was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1963. He speaks Danish, English, and Norwegian. He is Actuary, Author, Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Statistician. He is the owner of, chairman of, and consultant at Nordic Insurance Administration.

He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000) in Sandvika, Baerum, Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring, and a Journalist at Norsk Pressedivisjon.

He earned an M.Sc. in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences from 1990-1991 and a Bachelor’s degree from 1984 to 1986/87 from the University of Oslo. He did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests in history, philosophy, reading, social psychology, and writing.

He is a member of many high-IQ societies including 4G, Catholiq, Civiq, ELITE, GenerIQ, Glia, Grand, HELLIQ, HRIQ, Intruellect, ISI-S, ISPE, KSTHIQ, MENSA, MilenijaNOUS, OLYMPIQ, Real, sPIqr, STHIQ, Tetra, This, Ultima, VeNuS, and WGD.

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.

He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.”

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 15). Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-three.

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Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,553

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is an Author, Educator, and Philosopher of Science and Ethics. He discusses: Religulous; and foundational questions for naturalists and supernaturalists.

Keywords: author, Christopher DiCarlo, educator, philosopher.

An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo: Author, Educator, Philosopher of Science and Ethics (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Do you remember that line from Bill Maher in Religulous when he’s interviewing ex-Mormons? Familial, basically it is social suicide, that reminds me of this narrative you are telling me.

Dr. Christopher DiCarlo: When I was in grade 6, we knew our teacher was gay. We knew he was gay. He was the poster boy for homosexuality but we were Catholic. So, we said, “No, he cannot be a fag, right? He married whatever her name is. Her Grade 1 teacher. He had kids. No, he’s not a fag.”

Turns out, he was gay. However, he was Catholic. It was the 1970s. He comes out. He gets excommunicated. To a Catholic, you cannot be buried in consecrated ground. You are forever in limbo. You are never getting into heaven with your family.

So, he stayed in the closet. He did what so many gay men of the time did: they lived a lie. He finally came out. His wife accepted it. His sons accepted it. Now, his community accepted it, but it took decades for people to realize this. His whole life was a lie because of a belief system.

To me, that is harm; therefore, it is wrong. Therefore, guys like me have a right to say, “No, I am going to speak out against it. I am going to try to be more compassionate to others who might be going through that same situation.” Ideally, in the perfect world, we do not want people to suffer needlessly.

We are all going to suffer. We have to suffer, but that seems so needless. Today, Muslim communities are even worse than what the Catholic community was like in the 70s. In Saudi Arabia, places like that, people get thrown off buildings, get stoned, get executed all the time.

Simply, through no fault of their own, for being homosexual, it is medieval. I have a right to speak up against it. It would be interesting for you to know that some of the work I am doing in critical thinking. I am meeting with people from Iran. He has to be smuggled into Iran.

I might be on a hit list [Laughing]. That I do not know about, but I do not think I can visit Iran like I did with Guatemala and what I will do with other countries. So, we are going to do it by Skype and by smuggling the information and allowing teachers to take over at an underground level.

Jacobsen: It is going to be hard because the kids can report back to parents or authorities.

DiCarlo: I know and then the teachers will be in trouble.

Jacobsen: But these are also individual choices to make.

DiCarlo: That is it. That level moves very slowly, creeps. However, we have to try it. You have a mission in life. Philosophers have missions in life. If they are not trying to make the world better in some ways, I mean that is audacious as hell, but if we do nothing than we are doing a disservice to our calling.

Which is the love of wisdom,  is the capacity to educate and to offer people more than what their particular code system is telling them is right and just. So, it is like an “emancipation,” for lack of a better word, to free up their minds to think in a more liberated way.

I understand this is extremely audacious of me to believe. That I am a liberator in that context, but whether I am pie in the sky misguided or not. That has become my calling and that is the type of thing I am finding myself to be most passionate about. That is what I am going to continue to do.

2. Jacobsen: How might hypothetical naturalist and supernaturalist respond to each of the 5 foundational questions of life? 

DiCarlo: We get of them sent to us. Publishers want us to use them in our courses. None of them would talk about the elephants in the room.

They all talk about, “We can think about this, here is a Venn diagram, here is a truth tablet, here is propositional logic, there is formal and informal logic and fallacies and what not.” of them have great stuff in them, but none of them dealt with the nuts and bolts of thinking. Which is: let’s look at the 5 most important questions that people try to answer that sum up the meaning of life.

Then we can look at the two major ways people try to answer them: naturally and supernaturally. I try to be fair in the book and treat both sides as fairly as possible and not tell you what side you should believe and put it out there for both of these sides.

In terms of the question, what can I know? The ancient skeptics, like Socrates, were so adept at identifying. To me, this is one of the most important distinctions that humankind has ever made. It is to be aware of the fact that you do not know absolute truth.

To me, this is probably the greatest understanding of our epistemic state that any human has been able to do at any time in the history of thought. By absolute truth, I mean knowing from a God’s eye view thing. So, the supernaturalists maintain that they are in possession of absolute truth.

So, it is not as though an Orthodox Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, or whatever, get up in the morning and say, ” I could be very misguided in my views. I should question why I believe this stuff.”

No, I mean when you are a true believer, it follows that the information in your head is about how the universe is and that God answers very those other 4 questions and that gives you a certain feeling.

To me, the brain evolved in order to get you to do certain things in certain ways: largely to reproduce. However, along the way, your brain in eating and having sex releases certain chemicals that feel really good. Evolution has modified your brain over time to make you feel good by doing certain things.

What does that mean? That means that our brains get us high. Lots of things that we do get us high.

Watching a good movie, voting for the right candidate that we think will take this country to the next stage, watching the Raptors do as they did, or Milos Raonic doing so at Wimbledon, or swinging on a swing, or watching the birth of your child, these things get us high.

They are incredible experiences. Religious belief is the granddaddy of all highs. If you have got those big 5 answers supernaturally, things are going along and can get you through some rough times.

Not only is it going to feed you dopamine and serotonin and other types of neurotransmitters that make you feel wonderful; they are also going to produce endorphins for when you are stressed and will reduce your stress. So, the work that I did in Harvard looked at the neuropsychological factors of religious beliefs along this evolutionary model that I developed.

So, when you say, “What can I know?” To be consistent, a supernaturalist would say, “I know absolute truth. I am in possession of the information, which is absolutely true. That which cannot possibly be misguided or mistaken.”

When you are making a claim like that, man, it is not an easy thing to deal with that level of dogmatism. The number one question I get from students and people who interview me is: what do you do with a pig-headed person who is so dogmatic that they simply will not listen to reason? Do you give up on them?

I say, “Obviously, it depends not on the circumstances. Who is it? Do you want them to give up on it?” My mother was a Catholic until the day she died.

We would have conversations. She knew I was an atheist. She would hold a rose up and said, “What a beautiful thing God has made!” I would say, “Glorious accident mother, absolutely amazing.”

However, nothing more than that. A wonderful, genetic freak accident of nature. As she approached death, I called the dogs off, essentially. Because you have to exercise a level of diplomacy and critical thinking when answering those big 5.

I thought the greatest thing for my mother as she is approaching death is to think she is going to meet St. Peter at the pearly gates. She is going to see Jesus. All of her dogmatic beliefs will be proven right.

She will be up in Heaven looking down on me praying for me to come back to the fold. Even though, we had our disagreements; I would never raise the issue of God. I let her go to her grave believing that what she knew was absolutely true.

However, for others who are dogmatic, who wish to engage in conversation, how I do it is less, less in your face, “What an idiot you are for believing this stuff. Here is all the evidence. Why cannot you see it?”

I tend to be far more Socratic. So, initially, I will not necessarily agree with them, but feign ignorance as Socrates did and say, “This God that you believe in, sounds like a quite an amazing character.”

They respond, “He is, let me tell you more about him.” So know, you have put them at ease. Now, you have made them more comfortable and let them know you are open to listening to their side. So, then I say, “Tell me more. What else can this God do?”

Give them enough time, I will ask questions, which will much force them to think about things like “How do you reconcile omniscience with free will? How can they reconcile, if they are Christian, an all intelligent God with the capacity to see original sin?”

That is a no-brainer. That he didn’t see that. He had to make a part of himself flesh to die to himself to alleviate original sins from what he created, of what he should have known would be sin in the first place.

So, I get people to walk through the inconsistencies and contradictions, so that they see it. Instead of me hammering them like a Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, type of approach, I say to them, “I want to believe in this God, so convince me.”

It puts them at ease. It makes them talk; the more they talk, the more you throw in some questions that allow them to realize, “Oh, huh… I never thought of that.” Then you leave them for a while and let them mull all that over.

Dan Barker told me, “Chris if I had someone like you who showed me the inconsistencies and contradictions, I would have changed my views in a day.” I said “No, you would not have. You were hardcore Christian. It would have taken you weeks, months, and, maybe, years.”

You and I know: we talk to former theists who are now atheists. They tell us their story and sometimes – although, it is rare – there is that flash of epiphany. That secular epiphany, “How could I have been so stupid?”

To me, those are people who were along that path, already questioning things, to begin with. They were the ones who were already thinking, “What am I believing here?” So, they read The God Delusion or looked up Sam Harris online or read Dennett’s books or whatever.

But it is the ones who are hardcore dogmatic who are firmly entrenched, digging the heels; if you come at them in an adversarial way, they are only going to become more entrenched and dislike you all the more for it.

I am trying to teach people how to have intelligent, adult conversations and disagree and still get along. Because that is your neighbour, that is your kids’ teacher, that is a cop who pulled you over. We want to make sure people are treated fairly. So, when people say, “What can I know?”

The naturalist says, “I know that I do not know what absolute truth is.” So, that, immediately, puts me into a pragmatic level of lessening my epistemic requirements and saying, “What do I know about cause and effect relationships?” It comes under the rubric of the scientific method and the sciences. That is what I will say I know.

But that knowledge is perhaps limited to being pragmatic, useful, and beneficial. It may turn out to be absolutely true, what physicists are telling us about matter or energy and biologists about function and mechanisms, may, ultimately, turn out to be absolutely true.

But all my colleagues and I are not in that businesses. We are not here to worry about it. That is what the worry is about. We are all humans. Does it work? Does it cure cancer or put people on the moon?

Vaccines cause the recognition of certain types of pathogens and kill them before it gets a chance to kill our children. Pragmatic truth is really good. It has helped our species and many other species.

That is the difference between the natural and the supernatural claims to knowledge. Why am I here? The naturalist – I am here – one answer: luck. Luck that is why we are here.

If the world happened in any other ways and functioned differently, that comets, meteors, didn’t crash into the Earth at the right, specific time to wipe out the dinosaurs to give the mammals the shot that caused the line of descent from ground squirrels to simians to primates to the split divergence of orangutans from the rest of the great apes to us, then we are not having this conversation.

We are not here. Why are we all here? Luck: that is my explanation. Luck by way of natural forces. Supernatural? Depends on the particular flavour of the day. “By the divine grace of God. We are here because God wanted us to be here.”

What am I? A natural explanation, “I am a descendant of the African ape. Prior to, that more than likely, a reptilian, prior to that fish, prior to that much pond scum, blue-green algae.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing] I love that phrase.

DiCarlo: Prior to that, every atom inside of us was once inside of stars. Joni Mitchell was right; we are stardust, billion-year-old carbon. That is it! Nothing more special to us than that and why we are here is of lucky episodes.

Supernaturalists, whatever. “I am a physical being but I am also a spiritual being. I am often a dualist. That means there is some corporeal aspect to me that will survive bodily death and will maybe be recycled and maybe not recycled depending on the flavour.” That is the thing within us that does the choosing.

That is not somehow affected by the natural law and that is a tricky one to reconcile. However, none the less, this cosmic goo or this spiritual fog or whatever it is you want to call our essence and continues on after we die somehow in some other realm.

I have no evidence for that so I stay over on the natural side. Supernaturalists, they believe it for their various reasons and like I said, as long as that is not generating verb harm, you go ahead and you believe that to the cows come home.

I am not, but you go ahead. How should I behave? this is the field of ethics; most supernaturalists will have some divine command theories.

God has created us for a particular reason, wants us to behave a particular way and out of that emerges somehow a free choice. Out of your choices, you get the black checks or the red hearts from God who is watching your behaviour.

If you get enough red hearts over black checks, you get rewarded in some particular way. If you do not, it is not going to favour your protoplasmic goo after you have shuffled off the mortal coil. For a naturalist, we are on our own. We are in a big old cold universe. I am an ultimate nihilist. That means I have found no ultimate universal rules for behaviour, but I am a proximal ethicist. That means we have to come up with the rules. It seems like we have indicators that help us.

We try to avoid pain and suffering. We tend towards comfort and approval in certain areas. So, maybe, those connect as guides. Maybe what good and bad is coming from biology, and what is good and bad for an organism than can come from the bottom up rather than top-down, it will give us some capacity.

It will then make rules, which will favour our comfort and disfavour our discomfort. It will extend to another species as well. Because other mammals clearly can experience pain and pleasure; therefore, we owe them rights or must extend rights to them as well.

Nothing in the universe tells me in any way that I am more privileged than a squirrel. If you can show me that, please do. I am more conscious, maybe than a squirrel, but a squirrel is way better at other things, e.g., walking on a wire, than I am.

So, why do I get to value my life more than that of a squirrel? Or we can talk about hierarchies if you want but that would get into a criteria problem. What criteria now? Is that entirely arbitrary and favours ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism?

So, I, basically, want humans to get along as much as we possibly can so we can get as much as what we want, but that cannot be at the expense of other species and other humans. I am not saying this is easy to figure out.

This is what social and political theory is about, trying to make sure people have the lives that they want, but not at the cost of so many others. That means another species as well.

That goes right to the level: I am an omnivore; I enjoy eating meat as much as I enjoy eating plant products. However, I do not eat as much pork anymore because I drive into Toronto and see those huge trucks carrying pigs.

I know how intelligent they are. I see they are going to the slaughter. I would rather not see them die, so I am going to try to cut that out as much as I can. I am a little bothered that there has not been more attention paid to.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Educator; Philosopher; Fellow, Society of Ontario Freethinkers; Board Advisor, Freethought TV; Advisory Fellow, Center for Inquiry Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 15). An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Five) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-five.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,129

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Monika Orski is the Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden. She discusses: the fun of the super smart; researchers of the gifted and talented; theories of creativity and genius; other demographics of Mensa Sweden; and the old “nature” argument.

Keywords: chairman, Mensa Sverige, Mensa Sweden, Monika Orski, Ordförande.

An Interview with Monika Orski: Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden (Part Six)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Now, if the super smart are anything like ordinary people, where their higher general intelligence simply implies a bigger hammer or a stronger ox, they must have a friendly competition with some of the other chapters of the super smart groups. You mentioned some within the definition of Western Europe. How do some of the Mensa chapters have some competitive fun? How do smart people compete with one another, simply in a more amplified and varied set of ways?

Monika Orski: Probably in lots of ways I am not aware of, but of course I know of some kinds of competitive fun.

I am not a particular fan of board games myself, although I occasionally enjoy one at some Mensa meeting. There is a quite large group within Mensa who are very much into board games of different kinds, mostly with a preference for the strategic games where you need to think fast. No large Mensa gathering feels entirely complete without a games room, and some participants will spend almost all of their time in it, while others might step in for an hour or two in between other activities.

At EMAGs, the European meetings, there is usually also a football (soccer) tournament, where mensans from different national groups form teams – sometimes mixed nations teams, to get enough players.

Some national gatherings, including the AG of Mensa Sweden, often include a poker tournament. Only small money stakes, of course, as it’s purely intended for friendly competition for the fun of it.

There has also been a logic puzzles competition with national teams from the four Nordic Mensas. It’s been a while since anyone organized one of those, though. If I remember correctly, Sweden lost the finals to Denmark the latest time we had it. It might be time for us to try and organize a re-match.

2. Jacobsen: In the European context, who are some researchers with a great deal of experience and research into the gifted and talented community there?

Orski: This is a question where I need to resort to an excuse: I’m an engineer, not a psychologist. I don’t have the deeper knowledge of psychological research needed to provide a good answer.

From my own reading, I would pick the names Ian Deary and Robert Plomin. In the more local, Swedish context, I know that Roland Persson has done a lot of interesting research regarding gifted children, and there is also some interesting work by Berit Carlstedt on intelligence and intelligence testing. But those happen to be some names I know of, I’m sure there are many others.

3. Jacobsen: In the European context, who are individual, establishment or independent, researchers with interesting or unique take on creativity and, indeed, genius? Any personal theory or theories, from reading and observation, as to what comprises the roots necessary for genius to flourish – with, of course, a definition of genius as a bulwark for the theory or theories?

Orski: As above, I have no particular knowledge of the foremost research into creativity or genius. I think my reading is too amateur too really allow me in good conscience to point to anyone.

I know that there is a continuing debate on whether genius is a useful term at all. But if we are still going to use it, I think the definition used on the English language Wikipedia page for the subject “genius” is a good one: “A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creative productivity, universality in genres or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge.”

Thus, I think it important to remember that gifted rarely means genius. There are few geniuses, while gifted is a label used for a fast-thinking part of the population – be it the 2% allowed Mensa membership, or 5% as is often set as an estimate of the number of gifted children, or something in between. This is not a large minority, but it is not truly rare, as genius is.

How can we help genius to flourish? My theory, or maybe rather my guess, would be to follow the same principles as to help anyone gifted to flourish, only the genius would probably need more of it and at a much faster pace. Let people learn things, and keep learning. Leave room for creativity. Don’t be afraid to give a young person space to explore things in solitary occupations. Keep teaching them new things. Let them find their multiple talents, even if they chose to pursue one of them more than others. Allow them to create positions for themselves to keep exploring, and to keep learning also when they are no longer young.

4. Jacobsen: Also, I am curious. What are the religious demographics, if known or even simply surmised, of Mensa Sweden? What are the political demographics? How does this, potentially, reflect the international data on intelligence and political orientation & religious beliefs?

Orski: The simple answer is, I don’t know. We do not keep records of religious, ethnical, or political characteristics of our members. I might add that I would find it quite repugnant if a society like ours did.

Religion is not particularly present in Swedish everyday discourse. Many people would rather define themselves as of no particular religion at all. This makes it a bit hard to define. Also, it’s not a particularly common topic in everyday talk.

Regarding politics, some people tend to talk much more about it than others, especially on social media. Those are usually not the level headed, middle of the road types. But from what I know of the politics of the mensans I meet, I have no reason to believe there is any significant difference to the general political demographic. There might be reason to take into account that the educated part of the population is probably overrepresented in Mensa, but other than that – we have all sorts, just like everywhere else.

Which leads me to another demographic, where I have no statistics but a qualified guess based on who I meet in Mensa. While we have people from all walks of life, there is an overrepresentation of those with university education. Seems quite natural, especially if you take into account that in our part of the world, access to education is not limited by the financial means of your family.

5. Jacobsen: Occasionally, in the early 21st century less than the 20th century but still, we find individuals, internationally speaking, who crop up. They, at times, hold great stations of power and influence, and prestige.

They proclaim science as a male thing, not as a female thing; science only built, statistically speaking, for the male brain, in their some time terminology; even, that women simply are intellectually inferior to men and, therefore, should have a pre-ascribed role within society based on, what they see and argue, innate differences in not only abilities but also preferences based on temperaments.

Ironically, temperaments seen as innate in which they feel the need to encourage through all systems and channels reaching mass audiences in society, especially reflected in the reactions to non-traditional roles for women in representations within films and television, for example.

Even so, or while saying these things, often, these individuals will lose their jobs and be lambasted in public. Others, at the same time, will see them as pariahs of the genetic truth of the human species in sex differences – full stop, end of story, exclamation point.

What seems like the proper interpretation of the situation here? How can one respond to the arguments about innate differences and prescribed roles for women in society? Why do these individual make these arguments?

How do – in your lifetime of as one and in conversations with them – women tend to react to these individuals when speaking with one another, which may not be the same manner in which women speak in public or to men for that matter?

When they bring data forward, or historic examples of more men than women as the listed discoverers or inventors, what seems like a proper retort?

Orski: The old “nature” argument. Of course, if this was in fact a matter of nature, there would be no need to try to force that conviction on anyone, and even less to put it into laws, as those authoritarian sexists often will. No one seems to see it necessary to make laws to prevent that humans photosynthesize, or that we fly by way of flapping our arms. Why? Because there are truly innate traits of human nature that make those acts impossible.

My recipe for a proper retort is usually to simple say that is not true, and go on do something productive, nice, or both. There is usually no way you can reason with people like this. They obviously have a need to cling to some sense of being superior, no matter how unrealistic. Unless you are a psychologist they came to in order to get help with the inferiority complex that is likely to be somewhere at the bottom of this attitude, it is not your job to make them understand how the world works.

For those who are simply unaware of the different expectations men and women still live under, even in relatively equal societies, I recommend a little mind game. Next time you think a man is well qualified for a position, ask yourself if you would also think a woman of exactly the same merits and exactly the same level of professional behaviour qualified. Also ask yourself the corresponding question next time you think a woman might not be quite qualified for a position.

Lastly, for all the decent men with true merits of their own who encourage women to make sure they do not get positions based on gender: Ask yourself whether you would be in your current position if you were a woman with exactly the same qualifications. If your honest answer is yes, assuming you have a realistic assessment of your qualifications, then you can congratulate yourself on being hired on merit, and not on the all to common male quota.

References

  1. Mensa International. (2018). Mensa Sweden. Retrieved from https://www.mensa.org/country/sweden.
  2. Mensa Sverige. (2018). Mensa Sverige. Retrieved from https://www.mensa.se/.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Ordförande/Chairman, Mensa Sverige/Mensa Sweden.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 15). An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Monika Orski (Part Six) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/orski-six.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,302

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Tim Moen is the President of the Libertarian Party of Canada. He discusses: family background, culture, family, geography, language, and religion/irreligion;  early involvements in activism and politics prior to the Libertarian Party of Canada; responsibilities with this public recognition; tasks and responsibilities as leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada; the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada; derivative policies, which have details and acts as sub-clauses to the primary policy, following from the primary policy; the overarching mission of the Libertarian Party of Canada; the vision for Canada through the Libertarian Party of Canada; and activists, authors, bloggers, writers, and so on, that influence him, and deserve greater exposure.

Keywords: Libertarianism, Libertarian Party of Canada, Tim Moen.

An Interview with Tim Moen: Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of culture, family, geography, language, and religion/irreligion, what is your background?

Tim Moen: I grew up on a farm in Northern Alberta about 80 km NE of Grande Prairie with my mom and dad and younger brother. My grandparents were Mennonite Brethren who were branded Kulaks and fled Stalinist Russia and settled in Southern Alberta around Lethbridge. They worked hard to build a life in Canada and I’m grateful for their legacy of hard work, responsibility and sense of connection to something greater than one’s self.

Our family went to a non-denominational Church and I was a very involved and earnest evangelical Christian and truth seeker. I spent a year in Bible College immediately after high school studying theology with an eye towards serving as a pastor. That year left me with the impression that there were no real answers to be found and I realized I’d have a difficult time being a pastor selling any kind of certainty so I moved on to a career in Emergency Services.

I’ve spent over 22 years working in Emergency Services in various roles and still work today as a Firefighter/Paramedic. I love helping people and I consider my primary purpose in life to protect people from destructive forces whether its acute illness, fire, trauma, authoritarian force or unclear thinking.

2. Jacobsen: What were your early involvements in activism and politics prior to the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: I started writing and expressing a political opinion about a decade ago. I didn’t have much of a political opinion before and generally went along with TV pundits like Bill Maher and his 90’s show “Politically Incorrect”. About 10 years ago I went through a period of self-exploration where I examined my faith and realized I had not reasoned my way into this belief system. I realized that if I had been born in another country my view about the nature of reality would be completely different and I’d be worshipping a completely different deity. My beliefs had been a product of my environment, my culture, my family more than anything else. This was very disconcerting and left me feeling like I couldn’t trust that many beliefs and I started examining my worldview through the lens of skeptic trying to parse out truth from falsehood.

Examining political beliefs through this lens caused me to realize that politics was essentially a set of implicit and explicit claims about the morality of using force. I started blogging, making videos and appearing on podcasts to promote clearer thinking and skepticism towards extraordinary claims about government and the use of force.

In 2009 the Province embarked on centralizing control of Emergency Medical Services taking control away from communities and local practitioners. My first foray into the political sphere was appearing as a panellist at a local town hall meeting trying to alert the public to what we could clearly see was going to hurt them.

In the fall of 2013, I wrote an article about my experience working with Neil Young on a film project about the Oil Sands and what I saw as some hypocrisy and unclear thinking. The article went viral and was noticed by some libertarian activists who started trying to convince me to run as a candidate for the Libertarian Party of Canada (LPoC) in the 2015 general election. I was very resistant to that idea at first, I saw involvement in politics as implicitly supporting an idea I found immoral, but ultimately they convinced me that I’d be missing out on an opportunity to connect a lot of people to important ideas.

A few days after committing to run for office in 2015 my MP resigned and I was thrown into a by-election in early 2014 with zero clues about how to even file candidacy paperwork or run a campaign. I had a number of volunteers sign up to help me including a guy who moved across the country to volunteer for my campaign. We threw a lot of things at the wall including a meme that said, “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.” That meme went viral and got me a lot of attention. I was interviewed on Fox, CNN and “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” made fun of me. This wave of attention led to me being nominated for the leader of the LPoC in May 2014.

One of my goals as a leader was to expand the party and get more people involved. We worked hard for a year and a half and had our best result in 43 years in the past election.

3. Jacobsen: You have moderate exposure in the media. What responsibilities come with this public recognition?

Moen: Whenever you start getting a bigger audience there is a temptation to tell people what they want to hear. This is particularly true when you are a politician who is in the business of trying to win popularity contests. This is why so many politicians seem like vacuous and soulless caricatures of what voters want rather than their authentic selves. It is understandable, it’s really cool to be held in high esteem and have adoring fans who see you as the answer to all their problems and it really sucks being the villain that everybody hates and be seen as the antithesis to everything good.

I understood this when I agreed to get involved in politics and it was a real concern. I was really concerned about this toxic pull to bury my authentic self in exchange for popularity. In fact, I wear a replica of the Lord of the Rings ring of power to remind myself of this corrupting influence.

So with all that said the responsibility that comes with public recognition is to hold on to my humanity, my authentic self, to not portray myself as something I’m not. This is first and foremost a responsibility to my self, then my family and friends, and finally as a responsibility to the public. Then there is also an incredible responsibility to my party and people who I speak on behalf of to present the message that is so important to all of us in the most genuine, authentic, and grounded way possible. The by-product of speaking from an authentic, grounded place is that the message has much more integrity and is far more difficult to dismiss. Our message can seem shocking to some people and I think it’s important to be sympathetic and connected with listeners as I am delivering the message.

4. Jacobsen: You are the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada. What tasks and responsibilities come with this station?

Moen: My job is to be the public face of the party and to speak on its behalf. I believe its also my job to help discover the vision and strategy of our party with our members and communicate it to our members. Ultimately it is my job to serve the needs of our members and our candidates.

5. Jacobsen: What is the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: The primary policy of our party is to restrain government from hurting people or taking their stuff and limit its role to protecting individuals. We recognize that government is an institution that has a monopoly on and a mandate to use force and that the only proper use of force is to protect people from the initiatory force (ie murder, assault, rape, theft, fraud). Basically, we think the government should not violate consent and should protect people from violations of consent. People in government don’t get a special exemption from behaving ethically.

6. Jacobsen: What derivative policies, which have details and acts as sub-clauses to the primary policy, follow from the primary policy?

Moen: Since all law represents threats of violence for non-compliance our goal is to limit laws to only those that protect individuals. This means that activity between consenting adults that doesn’t harm anybody else should not be interfered with by threats of violence, even by people in government. So as an example we would repeal prohibitions on drug use and sex work.

Another area the government overreaches with force is on the financial lives of citizens. Taking money forcibly (or through threats of force) ought to be limited or eliminated. This means we want to dramatically reduce or eliminate taxation and find non-coercive ways to fund the government and eliminate all non-necessary government departments and spending. We also take issue with onerous regulation on individuals owning and running businesses and working for businesses. Raising the bar to enter the marketplace creates an unfair advantage to crony capitalists at the expense of consumers and start-up entrepreneurs.

We also want to improve property rights. Property rights give individuals immediate access to justice and dispute resolution. This includes our comprehensive policy on indigenous sovereignty which gives indigenous people sovereignty over their territory and allows them to push back against government appropriation of resources on their property and allows them to develop or not develop resources in a manner that is determined by them.

Our military is there to protect Canadians and not as a proxy for US imperialism or UN “Peace Keeping”. We would ensure our military isn’t used for a political agenda but to establish Canadian sovereignty and particularly to find ways of ensuring our Arctic sovereignty is established and protected.

A key element of liberty is the ability to exclude others from your private realm and so we would eliminate warrantless spying, repeal Bill C-51 and C-13, and the TPP in whole or in part.

7. Jacobsen: What is the overarching mission of the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: Our overarching mission is to limit government and decrease the amount of institutionalized initiatory violence being used against the very people government is supposed to protect form initiatory violence.

8. Jacobsen: What is the vision for Canada through the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: We are not utopians, we don’t have a central plan or vision for Canadians. Our vision would be for a Canada that is full of people who are free to pursue the destiny and vision they choose for their lives. Amazing positive unexpected consequences occur when people are free and it is our belief that Canada will flourish in a way that we can’t imagine or predict.

9. Jacobsen: Who are activists, authors, bloggers, writers, and so on, that influence you, and deserve greater exposure?

Moen: On various liberty subjects I recommend Murray Rothbard, Frederic Bastiat, Ron Paul, Ludwig Von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Nassim Taleb, Peter Jaworski, Tom Woods, Jeffrey Tucker, Stefan Kinsella, Dr. Carl Hart, Butler Shaffer, John Taylor Gatto, Ayn Rand and Adam Smith. A few authors that have been particularly helpful to me in my personal development are Marshall Rosenberg, Michael Shermer, and Tony Robbins.

10. Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Mr. Moen.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 15). An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part One) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,081

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Katherine Bullock is the Chair of the Islamic Society of North America-Canada and Lecturer at the University of Toronto. She discusses: family background regarding culture, geography, language, and religion; personal life and upbringing in the early years; first woman Chair of the Islamic Society of North America – Canada; the next generation of Muslim women leaders in Canada; Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical and Modern Stereotypes (2007); prejudice and bigotry; freedom of religion; the perceptions of the capabilities and roles of women; advancement and empowerment of women within the Canadian Islamic communities; prevention of those; some women Muslim scholars representative of the future and current leadership of Muslim women in Canada; and recommended books or organizations.

Keywords: Chair, Islam, Islamic Society of North America-Canada, Katherine Bullock, Lecturer, University of Toronto.

An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock: Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada; Lecturer, the University of Toronto[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is family background regarding culture, geography, language, and religion?

Dr. Katherine Bullock: I was born in Australia to an Anglo heritage. I was raised in the Anglican Church and attended the Presbyterian Ladies College for high school. In Australia, the PLC is part of the United Church. I think it’s different in the US/Canada.

2. Jacobsen: How did this build into personal life and upbringing in the early years for you? When did Islam become the proper way of life for you?

Bullock: The Church, and especially the all-girls high school, instilled some very important values in me, which I recognize today as also being Islamic – respect for others, commitment to excellence in work, the importance of family and community, being resilient and persistent through difficulties and hardship, and living an ordered and disciplined life. I converted to Islam in the 2nd year of my Ph.D. studies at the University of Toronto.

3. Jacobsen: You are the first woman Chair of the Islamic Society of North America – Canada and were its Executive Director of Education, Media, and Community Outreach. What tasks and responsibilities come with these stations? 

Bullock: I was the Executive Director of Education, Media and Community Outreach for a couple of years in 2004. That position no longer exists. As the Chair, the main task and responsibility are to see to the proper running of the board and to be the main point of contact with the Executive Director.

The board deals with ensuring legal compliance, setting the organization’s policies, strategic visioning and planning, and financial policies and budgeting.

4. Jacobsen: How might this inspire the next generation of Muslim women leaders in Canada? 

Bullock: Hopefully just seeing a woman in this position will inspire another woman to imagine that possibility for herself. Although we’ve been a bit busy with all the duties I previously mentioned, I hope to establish a women’s group that can contribute to leadership development before my term expires.

5. Jacobsen: You authored a number of books with some emphasis on Muslim women in particular. In Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical and Modern Stereotypes (2007), what were the main questions, the central thesis, and the answer to the questions within the framework of the thesis of the text?

Bullock: Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil was born directly of my experience of converting to Islam and starting to wear hijab. I received so many unexpected negative comments from people around me, from strangers on the subway, to colleagues in my department where I was pursuing graduate studies.

I couldn’t understand why my friends and I had such a positive view on wearing the hijab and yet it is viewed so negatively by the wider society. I decided to investigate the origins of the Western notion of hijab as oppression and to compare that with Muslim women’s own perspectives and opinions.

6. Jacobsen: Muslims and other Canadian citizens undergo undue prejudice and bigotry. At times, this can include scapegoating and becoming targets of cynical political rhetoric or disproportionately negative media coverage, as far as I can observe.

Ordinary religious and non-religious people of conscience, typically, are appalled by this behaviour by politicians and others to demonize minority sectors of the Canadian population. First question, what is the source of this xenophobia and ethnic-nationalist hatred of the other and, in particular, Muslim women (and men) in Canada?

Bullock: First of all, I want to thank you and others like you who can see through the smear campaigns and for reaching out to gain more understanding. Muslims really need allies like that. I believe that the source of this xenophobia is actually quite complex.

It involves a sense of fear of loss of status and place; some white/Anglo/Franco nationalists feel that immigration is pushing them out of ‘their” society, and will change its values for the worse.

Second, I believe anti-Muslim prejudice is deeply rooted in Western cultural discourses.  We can trace negative portrayals as far back as the eighth century when Christendom feared Islam as a Christian heresy.

Some thought Muhammad had wanted to be Pope and failed, then breaking off to found a rival and schismatic group. While we now live in a secular world, many of the early themes mentioned in these folktales are still around, such as barbaric men and oppressed women.

They passed on from Christian writers to missionaries, to colonizers, to secular publics.

7. Jacobsen: Second question, what can reduce and eventually – ideally – eliminate the rhetoric of division and hate? I realize some non-religious people want to eliminate religion altogether or stop the freedom of religion of others by implication.

I disagree with those non-religious people. I consider the freedom to religion and freedom from religion as equal rights for the religious and non-religious to mutually enjoy.

In particular, I note the emphasis among this sub-section of the non-religious population on hypervigilance on Islam as a set of beliefs and suggested practices, and Muslim communities and Muslims as individual citizens in their respective countries. 

Bullock: This obviously is a very big and important question.  It seems, most, unfortunately, that some forms of hatred will always exist as part of the human condition.

I have recently learnt how anti-Semitism in Canada has lasted for over 100 years.  I think the best we can do is try and make as many friends as possible amongst the different religious and non-religious groups, and take a “live and let live” attitude, as you suggest.

We should learn about each other through dialogue and shared activities.  We ought to be able to understand our differences with respect, remind ourselves constantly what we have in common, and work in solidarity on issues we share concern over, like the environment, good employment, affordable housing, and good education for our children.

8. Jacobsen: Now, within the Islamic communities in North America, what tend to be the problems in terms of the perceptions of the capabilities and roles of women? This links to larger issues within societies in the refusal to implement the rights of women, and the advancement and empowerment of women, in global culture.

Bullock: There is so much diversity in Muslim communities this question is hard to answer.  There are those that see total equality between men and women as being normal, those who favour a patriarchal attitude, and many shades in between.

There are those who think Muslim women should not lead, nor work outside the home and those who think the opposite.  Social workers, lawyers, women’s groups and community activists, both male and female, have raised the plight of women in situations of domestic violence, issues of mental health and parenting.

There are Muslim women teaching things such as self-defence, literacy, and know-your-rights to try and advance and empower Muslim women.

9. Jacobsen: What is being done to advance and empower women within the Canadian Islamic communities? 

Bullock: In addition to what I just said, there are many activities, projects, and education plans to advance and empower women, both spiritually and secularly.

To name a few, there are groups that teach Arabic, Qur’an and Islamic studies; storytelling and art to boost self-esteem; sports and good nutrition; and leadership development and volunteer recruitment to increase civic engagement. 

10. Jacobsen: What is being done to prevent the advancement and empowerment of women within the Canadian Islamic communities?

Bullock: What prevents the advancement and empowerment of women in Canadian Islamic communities are cultural practices, customs, habits and religious interpretations that say a woman should only be a wife and mother, and not have any other role outside the home.

I do not mean to downplay these roles. I have children and I understand completely the special honour and role of these traditionally female roles. I also know the exhaustion that can come with multi-tasking “inside” and “outside” roles.

But it is quite clear that Scripture intended for women more than the “home-based” role only. Women have many skills and talents that can and should benefit society.

11. Jacobsen: Who are some women Muslim scholars representative of the future and current leadership of Muslim women in Canada?

Bullock: Dr. Ingrid Mattson is a much-admired Canadian Muslim scholar. In Critical Muslim and anti-racism studies, Dr. Jasmin Zine stands out, and in Muslim chaplaincy development, Dr. Nevin Reda is providing leadership.

As for the next generation, I know several very smart Ph.D. students who will take their place as leaders in the next decade.

12. Jacobsen: Any recommended books or organizations?

Bullock: One of my favourite books that I think most people would enjoy is the autobiography of Zarqa Nawaz, called Laughing all the Way to the Mosque. Zarqa Nawaz helped produce the first Muslim sitcom on Canadian television called Little Mosque on the Prairie.

She used comedy and television to try and give a better image of Muslims to the wider society. Her book is inspiring as it talks about her life journey and how she made it to that high point.

Anyone who wants an inspiring book about Muslim women scholars should read Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam, by Muhammad Akram Nadwi.

It is a bit academic in places, but it is inspiring for how it reminds us of Muslim women’s scholarship in our history so that we can reclaim that role with confidence, and know that we are not innovating something, but restoring something that has been lost.

13. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Bullock.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada; Lecturer, the University of  Toronto.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 8). An Interview with Dr. Katherine BullockRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Katherine BullockIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Katherine BullockIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,562

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. is the Chairman for Mensa Pakistan. He discusses: recommendation of the MENA region moving forward in the identification, education, and utilization of the young gifted and talented population; advanced industrial economies for the gifted and talented; gifted and talented programs in the MENA region that would have the greatest long-term impact on the intellectual flourishing of the region; some informal education and practical life skills the gifted and talent should acquire if they wish to pursue a life in entrepreneurship and business; some prominent cases when a known highly gifted person went wrong, e.g. antisocial, violent, and so on; collaboration work with the other Mensa chapters in Indonesia and the UAE; the British, Canadian, and US chapters; hosting visiting Mensans from Germany, Finland, India, Indonesia, Norway, and the Philippines; very rare cases of a 1 in 30,000 kid; the removal of important discoveries, sciences, and philosophies by colonial powers; the most important ethical theories and narratives; revive the influence and culture of Mensa in the MENA region once more; terrorist or extremist activity lure some gifted youth into an unhealthy life trajectory, individually and societally; favourite writers, philosophers, and artists; the wisest person ever met; the smartest people ever met; people donating time, skills, professional networks, or join Mensa Pakistan; more men join Mensa compared to women; the positives and negatives of the perfectionistic tendencies of the gifted and talented; the gifted and talented often left languishing or simply wasted as not only individuals with needs but also potential massive contributors to the flourishing of the nation; bureaucratic downsides to a national and international Mensa leadership; the boundaries and possibilities of national Mensa groups; and alternative IQ tests for societies with very high IQ cut-offs.

Keywords: Hasan Zuberi, Islam, Mensa Pakistan, Muslim, Pakistan.

An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A.: Chairman, Mensa Pakistan (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: There seems to be a widespread loss of the gifted and talent for the benefit of society and the fulfillment and meaning, in their own lives. How would you recommend the MENA region move forward in the identification, education, and utilization of the young gifted and talented population?

Hasan Zuberi: IMHO, the Academia, Government, and society, in general, has to realize the potential of individual giftedness and work on the various available gifted programs right from the school age. It will help them identify the true potential and direction for kids and on how to carve their intellect into a positive skills-set.

2. Jacobsen: What programs exist in advanced industrial economies for the gifted and talented that could easily be implemented in the MENA region? 

Zuberi: There is a number of programs, Gifted Education is widely used in a number of Western countries as a specialized area. STEM, robotics, and coding are also on the go.

Then we have the Japanese gifted programs introduces in 2005, and above all the Quran based education, that is a mix of subjects from languages, to numerology, to basic astrology and medicine (tib) that has been practised since the Islamic golden age, but removed by colonial powers can also be revived.

3. Jacobsen: What gifted and talented programs would take the longest to establish in the MENA region but would have the greatest long-term impact on the intellectual flourishing of the region?

Zuberi: I think the last one I mentioned above, the Islamic golden era methodology, that mixes the education, religion, with the daily affairs and prepares a child for everyday task. it teaches a student right from personal hygiene to grooming, and from multiple languages to sociology, astrology, numerology, and basic medicine (tib) all derived from the holy scriptures of the Quran.

Interestingly Quran is 40% based on the Old Testament (Book of David, Torah & Zabur) and the new testament (Bible/Injeel), and the remaining 60% is of the present, and future and covers the base of the other subjects. So for a region predominantly Muslim and with Arabic as a primary language, it is something that can improve the society in general.

4. Jacobsen: What are some informal education and practical life skills the gifted and talent should acquire if they wish to pursue a life in entrepreneurship and business?

Zuberi: Languages skills, interpersonal skills, digital knowledge, and above all the personality traits, like honesty, dedication, and hard work. These should be part of the skills taught to every inspiring individual.

5. Jacobsen: What are some prominent cases when a known highly gifted person went wrong, e.g. antisocial, violent, and so on?

Zuberi: In Pakistan, we had a very talented boy. He qualified and joined Mensa Pakistan. He was from a very deprived background and was resident of a slum area, in fact, it is Asia’s biggest slum called Orangi Town in Karachi, and was very bitter towards life.

After he joined Mensa, we the management committee tried our best to make him feel welcome and gave him responsibilities, which he did with pride and brilliantly. He got admission in the most prestigious University.

We helped him secure a scholarship to cover his education cost and, I personally, visited him to show our support at his university and met his teachers and fellow students, in one of my visit to Islamabad as Chairman Pakistan Mensa.

He was on honour roll and won a gold medal in the initial terms, but halfway there, he left the University, after putting up accusations on his faculty dean.

He returned to Karachi, and we hired him, as first paid post holder, but it turned out to be a disaster as soon after he took out his frustration directly on me and wrote to our Vice Chairman and other ManCom members to remove me from office, wrote to Mensa International accusing me of what not.

I had to answer Mensa International on all his false accusations, provided them with valid proofs on each point. After a long, due investigation process, the management committee of Mensa Pakistan found his accusations false and revoked his membership.

He hasn’t stopped there and till now, and often try to influence me through other international Mensa members, the last was Chair of Mensa Cyprus.

6. Jacobsen: How does collaboration work with the other Mensa chapters in Indonesia and the UAE? What have been some of the collaborative projects worked on together?

Zuberi: Well, Mensa Indonesia was long dead, when I visited Jakarta back in 2008, met some of the members and the Chairman, offered my help in reviving it. I wrote to Mensa International there and then and asked for assistance in terms of test booklets.

Mensa Germany came forward and provided support and send us the booklets there which were used for first revival test, on the same trip. Now Mensa Indonesia (MInd) is one of the very active chapters in the Asian region. I feel so proud of my small contribution to its revival.

Likewise, during my work year in UAE, I started contacting Mensa Pakistan and other members residing in the UAE. our first meeting, I still remember, had 12 people from 10 different countries.

After that Mensa UAE was active for a good number of years before slowing down again. Many of the members, like me, left the Emirates and others got busy with their lives.

7. Jacobsen: How have the British, Canadian, and US chapters been helpful in the development of Mensa Pakistan?

Zuberi: Well, the established chapters, British, Canada, and the US have always helped in terms of guidance, knowledge transfer, and above all accommodating visiting Pakistani Mensa members.

Mensa Germany has been always at the forefront in supporting, as in the case of Indonesia mentioned above, as well as in the time of our need, like when our office was flooded and everything destroyed, we got books from Germany.

Then there was a massive earthquake in Pakistan back in 2005 and many International chapters supported us in providing assistance.

Mensa Australia members send us their pocket money as monetary assistance at the time of floods in Pakistan. Likewise, Mensa China and Malaysia were accommodating to our visiting Mensa members and helped in every way possible.

8. Jacobsen: With hosting visiting Mensans from Germany, Finland, India, Indonesia, Norway, and the Philippines, what was involved in that?

Zuberi: Due to a decade of terrorism and violence in and around Pakistan, there were few incidents of foreigners visiting Pakistan; and among them, the Mensans were very small in numbers.

But we had members from many countries visiting Pakistan, primarily for business, and we, as the host Mensa chapter, tried our best to facilitate them wherever applicable. The Philippine mensan was the master chef, who joined a leading 5-star hotel in Karachi. whereas Mensan from Finland was part of a big packaging company.

Our Indian neighbour was there to witness a friendly Cricket match between our countries. We hosted special meetups for them for the exchange of ideas and knowledge and it worked very well every time.

9. Jacobsen: What should be done with the very rare cases of a 1 in 30,000 kid, or even more rare. How should we educate them, the unusually bright?

Zuberi: It is called Gifted or Special. so should be treated like one. The problem is the identification of such gifted talent as in most countries the talents are not identified putting them in more isolation and depressing state. Once identified, certainly should be put up with experts and should be educated in their field of interest.

10. Jacobsen: Regarding the removal of important discoveries, sciences, and philosophies by colonial powers, can you explain in more depth? Those discoveries, sciences, and philosophies with the need for revival and renewal of professional-academic activity.

Zuberi: The colonial powers had to subdue the occupied land and demoralize the occupied people, and the tactics they used was to make them realize that their knowledge, education, discoveries were all worthless.

Hence creating a feeling that whatever the occupiers are doing is good, just, and accepted. From cultural to dressing and from language to inventions, everything was ridiculed and put up as backward.

11. Jacobsen: Within the Islamic context, what remain the most important ethical theories and narratives? How do these apply to the current context?

Zuberi: In Islamic context, the most important ethical theory, as prescribed in the holy scriptures is of Saving and Serving the humanity. even it is written there that Prophet Muhammad was sent for all humanity and not alone for any one religion, tribe, nation, or creed. The killing of one person is termed as the killing of humanity.

But it seems that the message is lost in present-day circumstances and with terrorists glorifying their acts as acts of religion and justifying it from selected verses.

Another interesting fact is that 40% of the Quran is comprised of the Old & New Testaments: Zabur (The book of Prophet Dawood or David) Torah/Taw rat – of Musa/Moses) and Injeel/Bible (of Prophet Isa/Jesus). Whereas 60% remaining covers the time of Prophet Muhammad, and future till the judgement day.

The 60% also covers Shariah (which literally means the Daily routine/life) that covers hygiene (brushing teeth, combing hair, cleanliness) to mannerism (treatment with family, neighbours, merchants, business etc), and from dressing up to dressing down.

12. Jacobsen: What could revive the influence and culture of Mensa in the MENA region once more?

Zuberi: IMHO, localization can help. Be it in language, culture, and national interests. For instance, in GCC countries, in particular, they have some strange rules to secure the interests of the ruling class, and gathering of intellectual brains in one place is termed as something against it.

So if it can be done under some other contexts, like (related to some trade of area of interest) it can work in a much effective and positive way.

13. Jacobsen: How does terrorist or extremist activity lure some gifted youth into an unhealthy life trajectory, individually and societally? What are some protections older generations can create for them?

Zuberi: If I can talk with a brief history and from the perspective of Pakistan, the terrorism was started as a sacred duty and disguised as Jihad (literal meaning: Struggle), against the oppressing Soviet occupying of Afghanistan.

And was sponsored by USA / CIA and other West European countries to stop Soviet expansion to the hot waters / Oil of the Middle East. It helped the mushroom growth of the unregistered holy school, which only used their own version of the Holy text to justify “fighting Atheist Soviets for protection of Monotheism”

The reward for these young kids, willing to fight and sacrifice their lives was: money (approx 200 USD in the early 80s), power (weapons/authority), and religious backing (Islamic context of helping the occupied poor Afghans). Then they were left unattended and uncontrolled with all the weapons, after the fall of Kabul, the departure of Soviets, and the collapse of USSR.

Fast forward, 2001, after 9/11 and the attack on US forces on Afghanistan to counter Al-Qaeda, the narrative changed. Now, the enemy has a new face but the game is still the same, and with many players. From Russia, China, India, and Gulf nations, to neighbouring Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian republics, all are part of it.

So, education is the key. It has started in Pakistan, but still controlled by powers with their interests. The need is to teach humanity from the perspective of the respective religions and sects.

14. Jacobsen: Who are your favourite writers, philosophers, and artists?

Zuberi: Starting from Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (national poet of Pakistan), and the great Persian philosophers Jalal Uddin Rumi, Sheikh Saadi Shirazi, and Khawaja Shams Tabraiz. and in the present day Noam Chomsky.

15. Jacobsen: If you reflect on personal interactions, who seems like the wisest person ever met by you?

Zuberi: Have met many interesting people in my 22 years of journey with Mensa and my professional life. One of the best people was Late Mr. Ardeshir Cowasjee, a leading newspaper columnist and social activist of Pakistan.

Meeting him as Chairman Mensa was a great honour for me. I remember replying to his email was such a huge task, so articulate and well written it was, that it took me a good hour to reply to his email.

16. Jacobsen: Also, in terms of IQ, which is non-trivial as a life factor, who are the smartest people ever met by you?

Zuberi: I have met many, many amazing people. From all walks of life, not enough space for names here.

17. Jacobsen: How can people donate time, skills, professional networks, or join Mensa Pakistan?

Zuberi: People can join Mensa Pakistan after appearing and attaining IQ score in the top 2 percentile in a Mensa supervised test session, or by presenting an IQ equivalence score of 98% or above by a certified, recognized and registered Psychologist.

As it is a volunteer society, members willing to take up responsibilities donate time accordingly.

18. Jacobsen: Why do so many more men join Mensa compared to women? How does this phenomenon impact relationships, dating, marriage, and potential family life for the mensans?

Zuberi: Well, in my opinion, it depends on the choices and interests. Women have their own set of interest and do not really feel to showcase their intellect in front of a group.

Women are more compassionate and dedicated compared to us, the men, and prefer to use their intellect when it is required. In Pakistan, we have a mixed crowd, and almost equal number of qualifiers so the opportunities are also the same for all genders.

19. Jacobsen: What are the positives and negatives of the perfectionistic tendencies of the gifted and talented? 

Zuberi: Positive tendencies are certainly that they keep control over their performances at their pace and as per their satisfaction. Whereas the negativity is that they want to keep everything under control, it affects their performance as team players and/or leader.

20. Jacobsen: How are the gifted and talented often left languishing or simply wasted as not only individuals with needs but also potential massive contributors to the flourishing of the nation?

Zuberi: I think; the biggest problem is of identifying the gifted talent; as if not identified, they have to follow the norms which result in getting bored from the routine lives and effects their own growth, as well as slow the pace of the tasks they are assigned to. But results can be 100% improved if utilized according to their intellect level and interests.

21. Jacobsen: Are there bureaucratic downsides to a national and international Mensa leadership? What are the upsides, comparatively?

Zuberi: Like many organizations, there certainly are. but Mensa is a high IQ society, we tend to find alt-routes, thanks to our amazing Mensans in mancom.

22. Jacobsen: What are the boundaries and possibilities of national Mensa groups? What can and cannot be done? That is, what are the limits for the national groups or representative organizations?

Zuberi: Well, like any organization, we too have cultural, national and territorial boundaries, and apply the law accordingly. Otherwise, all local chapters have their respective constitutions, in line with the core recommendations and duly approved by Mensa International.

For sure, we cannot interfere with any matter that is beyond our limitations and for that, we refer to Mensa International, which has an amazing system and protocols in line.

23. Jacobsen: There are alternative IQ tests for societies with very high IQ cut-offs. Some developed by qualified psychometricians, or at least those with experimental psychology and statistics backgrounds. Others are from intelligent people without these formal qualifications. What is the general perspective of the high-IQ community of these tests? What is the range of quality of them? What is the average of the quality of them? Has Mensa ever accepted them for membership? Have they ever been considered for qualification of membership?

Zuberi: Well, the societies are there, but since their acceptance rate is very limited, so is their membership base. So generally, it is very odd to see someone with qualification from these ultra high IQ societies. So far have not met anyone, in this part of the world, even from our Mensa crowd, interested or inclined towards these societies.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chairman, Mensa Pakistan.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 8). An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,866

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is an Author, Educator, and Philosopher of Science and Ethics. He discusses: helping others in hardship; his difficult story; religious beliefs and evolution.

Keywords: author, Christopher DiCarlo, educator, philosopher.

An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo: Author, Educator, Philosopher of Science and Ethics (Part Four)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Also, not only what it would take but, what is the recourse to do it? What organizations, associations, and support exists? For instance, we see this with people leaving Islam in many cases.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, I know Maryam Namazie does work through there. I can imagine. It is a difficult job not only in terms of likely ridiculous and threatening emails and letters but the amount of time and resources out of one’s life to do this.

I can imagine if you are dealing with a shaman if you are dealing with a major figure in a society or group, it would be a difficult thing. In fact, Steven Weinberg, senior physicist, noble prize winner, as you know, he was talking about a man.

He worked with Abdus Salam, who was a noble prize co-winner in physics. Abdus Salam was saying when he was trying to bring science to the Islamic world, MENA region; he had a hell of a time because they were open to technology but not to science because the clerics and imams found that science was a corrosive force for religion.

Steven Weinberg stated in the Atheism Tapes, “Damn it, I think they were right.” It is a consistent theme. You see this in Saudi Arabia. Atheism was made illegal or a terrorist offence, recently. It was claimed as terrorism against the state.

Something to that effect. Although there was a good move where women got the right to vote. However, what, 16 or 14 women showed up? Because you need a male companion to drive to the voting booth.

Dr. Christopher DiCarlo: Being an avid atheist has significantly hurt my career, I do not know if you are familiar with that?

2. Jacobsen: I am not familiar enough with it. What is the story there?

DiCarlo: I am not a tenured professor right, so I am a regular schmo. When I was teaching at a university in 2005, towards the end of a critical thinking course, I wrote on the board. I said, “Okay, so, we have all learned these skills. We have all learned various types of information.”

“If we take evolutionary theory seriously, and we should, what does that say about human origins?” Some students put up their hands. We talked about it. I said, “Okay, let’s look at the entailments. What logically would follow if evolutionary theory is right? “

We look at the evidence for it, about our own origins.” Then I wrote the words. It would have to follow; we are all African. So, a student challenged this. She joined up with others. She was Aboriginal. I said, “I know your people might think you have always been here.” She said well, “Who is right, us or science?”

I said, “Not your people.” I was teaching in an area, which is 6 nations. However, then I said, “Look, can you bring in some leaders? I will bring in some scientists and we will show the class how to conduct a dialogue between cultures when there is a clash of science and mythologies?

So, we can have intelligent conversations. Maybe, we can continue to disagree and get along. The class erupted with applause. I thought this is great. This is what university should be about here. No, she hooked up with two fundamentalist Christians, went to the dean. I lost a tenure-track position.

Jacobsen: I do recall an article stating that science was “Eurocentric.” I believe this was one of the quotes.

DiCarlo: That is right.

Jacobsen: That is like saying there is Christian science or Muslim science. It is science. It does not matter who is doing it. The Aboriginal chiefs could be doing it. It works. It is the nature of it.

DiCarlo: I got headhunted to another brand new university in Southern Ontario. The deans were on board with me. The chairs were on board with me. The staff was on board with me. Everything was going well. However, I was such an outed atheist. I am on the radio. I am on television. I could not get tenure.

I was wondering why the provost was not rubber stamping the approval to make it happen and certain things would occur; and they would go, “We did not like that particular aspect. So, we are not going to give you tenure. Maybe, next year at this time.”

After 2 three-year contracts in which I was supposed to be tenured, I was out the door. So, I sued in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for discrimination of creed. This was the first recorded lawsuit where somebody is suing for discrimination of creed where creed is atheism.

Jacobsen: In Canada?

DiCarlo: In Canada. Maybe the world but certainly in Canada. You are not going to know about this. Because I have a bit of a gag order on this. So, my human rights lawyer and I took them to the task; they took us to task and tried to counter sue. For 2 years my wife and I nearly lost this house, we separated; it was unbelievably hard on our family.

We went to trial and they showed up with their five attorneys compared to my one guy, an ex-Muslim. The judge said, “It does not seem that either side was willing to negotiate a settlement, so we are going to proceed.” Their head lawyer stood up and said, “Who said we are not willing to negotiate a settlement? We will do that right now.”

They pushed me. For two years, they would not talk about any settlement until the first minute of the trial because this is what they do. They push you and push you and push you for 2 years of your life and chew you up. Then we settled and then they put a gag order on me so I cannot tell you any of the details.

My lawyer said, “I can tell you about as much as I can tell you. It is what I have said publicly. However, that is it. I am out of a second job. Now, you sue two universities because you are an atheist, word gets around.” So since 2010, every gig I have applied for and I have won major awards.

Jacobsen: I saw the listing.

DiCarlo: Yes. I am well published, I am well connected, but I have been told they are never going to hire you because they are never going to take the risk.

Jacobsen: I know it.

DiCarlo: So, my life and my families life where I should have been a normal tenured professor making a pretty decent income, publishing, not having to worry about so many different things all the time, has been taken from me and I have no recourse because the lawsuits are done.

I won both lawsuits but they were only for damages and legal fees and things like it. So, they by no means made our family better off. So, I am stuck in this netherworld where I am pretty sure I am never going to get a tenured position unless I know somebody so deep like a chair or a dean who looks at my work and says, “Yes, get this guy on staff. This is the type of person we need here.”

Unless you become that big, but even then the unions can keep you out, there are all other ways you can be kept out. So, I am teaching at U of T and Ryerson where I can and trying to be as good an academic writer as I possibly can.

Now going worldwide with this critical thinking stuff, trying to bring it to developed nations where to me that is the greatest tool to combat inequities and injustices is to give the people the skills to the reason for themselves. So, I am a bit of a renegade secular missionary [Laughing].

3. Jacobsen: I have seen the statistics on Canada. So, when I interviewed Eric Adriaans and I interviewed Pat O’Brien, do you know both of them?

DiCarlo: Yes, I know both.

Jacobsen: In the midst of the research, if you look at the global statistics on no religious affiliation, it is not necessarily atheistic; it can be agnostic or others. Then it is about 16% in North America, 17% in Canada, BC is like 35%.

I am not sure the statistics on Ontario, in particular. But if it is the general national statistics, then, in any class you are going to be teaching in with 30 students, most are going to harbour some belief, where, probably, some religious principles won’t necessarily take unguided evolutionary by natural selection, which is the actual one – not theistic evolution and so on.

The idea itself is an affront to a lifetime for students of religious teachings, which teach them wrong things about origins and the development of humans. I could easily see why it would seem offensive to them because it is going against things; not only that belief, but associated with many other things. They are in the wrong.

DiCarlo: The thing is, with all of this, I am a really nice atheist. I do not come in banging the drum, banging the gong saying, “If you do not believe what I do, you are an idiot.” I am attentive to their belief systems because that is what I have studied at Harvard and throughout my life as to why religious beliefs are so important.

I have talked to Richard Dawkins about this. I said, “Richard, you are showing people a prefrontal cortex thing.” The majority of religious thinkers are limbic. It is an emotional attachment they are having. It is far older and far stronger than what our prefrontal cortex is capable of.

I may think all that I want that my wife is not cheating on me but my limbic system, my gut, is saying, “That bitch is screwing around.” It does not matter how many PhDs I have; our emotions are in most cases going to get the better of us.

When I go into my classes and we have talk about God, especially as it relates to morality and ethics and that thing, the first thing I do is I say, “I am not here to judge you, I am not here to tell you what to believe or not to believe. You all know or have done your research on who I am, it I am an atheist. So, I am telling you right up front that does not mean I want you to be one.”

Jacobsen: That is ideal. It would be like a journalist saying look, “I am part of the NDP, let’s go for the lesson now.” That is ideal because you know up front.

DiCarlo: Yes. I try to say, “You know what? I am here to teach you guys how to think. What you think is left up to you. I am going to give you a skill set. I do not care if you are an atheist. I do not care if you are a Muslim. None of this bothers me. All I care about is: are you doing harm through your beliefs? “

“That is what you need to think about. Are your beliefs in any way generating harm?” Then I give my little soapbox talk. I say, “Look, you are in university. It means your beliefs are going to be challenged. Because where else should they be if not here? If you do not like your beliefs to be challenged in any way, do not take this personally from me, because I am on the spectrum, I am Asperger’s.”

“Do not think I am addressing this to you as a person. I might look at your belief set. But it has nothing to do with you as an individual. However, here’s how things are going to go down. Some of you – you know who you are, I am going to call you what you are. You are Muslim. You have a belief system. If you happen to be a lesbian or a homosexual, you know how tough your life is.”

“I am here to tell you right now there is nothing wrong with you. You are as normal as every heterosexual person in this world. There is nothing wrong with you. If your religion thinks that homosexuality is wrong. Maybe, there is something wrong with it.”

So, I created with Eric Adriaans an underground for students of Muslim faith, Christian faith, whatever, who are way deep in the closet, who can never have this come out for fear of rejection, ostracism, and apostasy. You get tossed out.

I tell them, “If you or anyone you know is facing a difficult time in your life because you know you are homosexual and you know this isn’t going to work well with your particular belief system, contact me once, and we have a secure encrypted site, I can tell you about it. We have meetings with others like you. Those who are wondering what the hell to do because through no fault of your own; you happen to be gay.”

“You try to figure out. Can you be a gay Muslim? I hope you can. If you want to maintain your beliefs in that particular God, you being gay or not should have no effect. So, I am here to tell you, ‘You are a normal human being. If you want help, I am here. It is all I am going to say.’”

Invariably, at the end of almost every class, I take longer to pack up. I take a long time packing up. I talk to whichever students are waiting around and let them all leave because there will be one or two guys. They will be online pretending to do something. They are waiting for everybody to leave.

A guy will come down and he will say, “How sure are you that homosexuals are normal? I said, “As close as science will allow,” which is a high rate of probability. I say, “Let me guess, you are gay?” Half of the time they say, “Yes,” and the other half of the time they say, “No,” but I have a friend [Laughing].

I say, “Fine, have your friend contact me.”

“I will do that sir.”

Sometimes, I never hear from them. They cannot take the risk. Their community, their family, is so important to them, not to disappoint them. If they marry, they have kids. I am sure they must have secret societies.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Educator; Philosopher; Fellow, Society of Ontario Freethinkers; Board Advisor, Freethought TV; Advisory Fellow, Center for Inquiry Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 8, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four) [Online].October 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 8). An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, October. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (October 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):October. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo (Part Four) [Internet]. (2018, October; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/dicarlo-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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