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Everyday hate speech in Romania

In Romania it’s common for people to condemn the accent from other regions without any pudency. And many don’t do it jokingly, they really mean it. They call people with accents “peasants” and “rednecks” that destroy the Romanian language and nobody reacts, it’s socially acceptable. Openly complaining about gypsies with strong language is even more common. Some even say they’re a “spoilt race” that is genetically damaged, although these tend to be more extreme than the majority. But even the less extreme ones seem to find it normal when they hear it. They’re used to it, and even if they disagree with the choice of words, they wouldn’t defend gypsies because, after all, all they do is steal, beg and destroy the reputation of Romanians in Western Europe.Read More »Everyday hate speech in Romania

Slaves to the DNA?

Since its discovery in the early 20th century, the DNA has become a huge center of attention in biology. It has sparked new interest in the field of genetics, become basic knowledge for the more recent generations, a target of media coverage and even a common element of popular culture. But what do we really know about the DNA? Is our high-school curriculum up-to-date with current research and are educators aware of the implications this sensitive field of knowledge has on how we understand and deal with human differences?

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National Day

On the first day of this month, Romanians celebrated their “National Day”, the day Transylvania united with the rest of the country. According to the state-owned national channel TVR1, it was a day to celebrate Romanian culture and Romanian values such as “faith and family”. There was a lot of patriotic songs, folk music, dancing and nostalgic displays of affection towards Basarabia, a former region of Romania that was taken by the Russians (oh, the Russians…) during the Soviet expansion and is still rather influenced by them, nowadays known as the Republic of Moldova. It was all very positive and peaceful but I must say one thing kept bugging me: there was no mention of Hungarian, Saxon or Gipsy (confusingly also known as Romi or Romani) culture. All significant minorities in terms of number and cultural contributions to music, architecture etc.

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Atheism is becoming politically incorrect and we have to stop it

The atheist movement has seen a somewhat recent boom. Some say it was triggered by the 9/11 attacks and call it the “New Atheism” movement. There are many great things about atheists speaking out and forming a community. It encourages other people to “come out of the closet”, it raises awareness about discrimination against religious minorities, mob rule, threats to secularism etc. On the other hand, many criticize the movement for its aggressiveness, arrogance and lack of diplomacy. Some even claim that atheists shouldn’t be outspoken at all. They say they’re being more religious than the believers they criticize, and attack any atheist association as being hypocritical and turning atheism into a cult.Read More »Atheism is becoming politically incorrect and we have to stop it

Intellectuality in Brazil

Intellectual. Is this a positive or a negative attribute? Asked in such a direct manner, I thought it would be difficult to ever get a negative answer. But surprisingly, most people I talked to didn’t answer it was positive without hesitating first or at least mentioning that it can be both positive and negative. Even among educated people.Read More »Intellectuality in Brazil

Proud of being a straight, white man

Many people complain that black people can talk about “black pride” but that white people can’t. That a band called “Black City” is cool but one named “White City” with Caucasian members is racist. Or that a parade of gay pride is acceptable but one of straight pride is not. That the media turns to women on their day and some even receive flowers and chocolate, but that nobody remembers men on their day. Indeed, all of this seems to be true. However, many people usually criticize this as something illogical and hypocritical, an unfair double-standard. Is it really so? Let’s give it some thought. When did these movements begin? Why did minorities start to have this attitude in the first place?

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Reason, emotion and motivation

Imagine you’re in a restaurant, reading the menu and trying to decide what you’re gonna eat when magically, all of a sudden, you loose all your emotions and become a purely rational person. You become incapable of feeling fear, sadness, happiness, of suffering or feeling pleasure. You still have your senses, but even if you eat and feel a good taste, it won’t please you anymore. It won’t really feel good anymore. Actually, the word “good” will loose its meaning in your new universe, once nothing brings pleasure. If something touches you, you notice it, but there is no feeling of pleasure or pain. Even if you get hurt and feel what you used to call “pain”, it won’t bother you anymore. Under these conditions, what do you think you’d do?Read More »Reason, emotion and motivation

Determinism and free will

John Wayne Gacy (1942 – 1994), also known as “the killer clown”, was an American serial killer sentenced and executed for the rape and murder of 33 boys and young men between 1972 and his capture in 1978.

As we well know, John was the fruit of a sexual encounter between a man and a woman. Let’s imagine, however, that on the day of this encounter, as the sperm cell met the egg, the life that started forming in the woman’s womb was yours, instead of John’s.Read More »Determinism and free will

Moralism and Religious Intolerance

Atheists are often accused of arrogance and prejudice against religions. Sentences like “Each to their own”, “What is the problem with believing in God?”, “Religion is personal” are always used to defend religion. In this text I explain the cause to my opposing religion and how, in some cases, the mere existence of religious persons may have negative consequences to the construction of a just and equalitarian society.Read More »Moralism and Religious Intolerance