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The tendency to insulate belief from evidence is related to another feature that Leiter thinks is distinctive of religion – “the contribution of religious belief to existential consolation”. Religious belief, he seems to be saying, is not just rationally unwarranted; it is insulated from evidence because it gives consolation and thereby confers meaning on the lives of believers. Once again, however, it is not only the traditionally religious who cling to their beliefs for the sake of the consolation they provide. In our time, secular believers have done the same and on a larger scale. Think of the claims about Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Undoubtedly there were geo - political factors (mainly to do with oil) behind the disinformation that preceded the war. But if proper standards for the evaluation of evidence were abandoned for what has been aptly described as “faith-based intelligence”, it was also because overthrowing Saddam was for Tony Blair and the Bush White House a way of furthering an irresistible movement towards democracy and human rights and thereby being “on the right side of history”. The idea that toppling the tyrant would produce anything resembling liberal democracy was never plausible and quickly shown to be mistaken. That has not prevented the same failed experiment being repeated in Libya (and soon, perhaps, it will be repeated yet again in Syria). For those who believe in western intervention, it provides a sense that they still matter in the world; without the conviction that they are in the vanguard of history, their lives would be drained of significance.

(Source: newstatesman.com, via sociolab)

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STALKING THE WILD SELF

The hunter is in a dilemma.

Wind is blowing his sails

to the shores of the prey’s den

& nostrils are smelling the air

for the sound of his breathing,

shadows, tales, footsteps.

Eyes on the look-out,

imaginations run wild and

danger looms large, hangs heavy

like a thick cloud.

Time ticks, slows and halts, exhausted.

Each waits for the steps of the other,

life and limb pegged on the ear

so that a mis-relay condemns it to

eternal blame.

It must sieve the half-sound of

the tip-toe and the half-breath

and the stealth and the dead silence.

Therein lie life and limb.

                                                           ~Danieli Otieno