Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

With terrorism at the forefront of public consciousness, it is easy to let civil liberties slip off the radar. This is unfortunate, if we learned anything from the classic psychology experiments, it was that unchecked power and authority can lead to terrible evils. The findings of the classic psychology experiments of Zimbardo and Milgram have been demonstrated in the real world time and again. From Hitler and Stalin to North Korea, Abu Ghraib and the cult members who drank the Kool-Aid, one lesson resounds, where unchecked power resides, indescribable evil can arise.


All of the above have one thing in common. Rights you and me hold dear were relinquished or taken. Whether subjugation comes through design or by accident is to some extent irrelevant, once we cede our rights we are one step closer to a darker future.

Americans are currently battling CISPA whilst Brits are facing the Communications Data Bill, both of which threaten basic freedoms, if not immediately then without doubt if a more extremist government took power.

One right that still remains in the US and the UK is the right to film police officers, despite what British police officers will tell you. The following video tells the story of one woman's fight to retain this right for all of us, her tale brings many valuable lessons.

If you are in the UK you may wish to remember the following quote:

“Under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act you can only stop me filming you if you have reasonable suspicion to believe I am a terrorist", the Metropolitan Police's own guidelines in fact go even further - "An arrest would only be lawful if an arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion that the photographs were being taken in order to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

If you are ever in an unfortunate situation where you feel you must record an injustice, you would be well placed to have installed the ACLU-NJ app (or the NYCLU app for NYC residents) which will secretly upload video you record on your phone with the app directly to the ACLU's servers, so even if your phone is stamped on or your memory card is wiped, your evidence will be safely stored in the cloud with the ACLU, for you (and your lawyer) to access, if the need arises.

Simple rights, are rights we should fight for. Giving them up is letting the terrorists win.

Image Credit: Act of Terror Documentary 

A brief history of human dignity

What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.

Credit: Benjavisa Ruangvaree / AdobeStock
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
  • That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
  • We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
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Urban foxes self-evolve, exhibiting Darwin’s domestication syndrome

A new study finds surprising evidence of the self-evolution of urban foxes.

A fox at the door of 10 Downing Street on Janurary 13, 2015.

Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A study from the University of Glasgow finds urban foxes evolved differently compared to rural foxes.
  • The skulls of the urban foxes are adapted to scavenging for food rather than hunting it.
  • The evolutionary changes correspond to Charles Darwin's "domestication syndrome."

How much can living in the city change you? If you were an urban fox, you could be evolving yourself to a whole new stage and becoming more like a dog, according to a fascinating new study.

Researchers compared skulls from rural foxes around London with foxes who lived inside the city and found important variations. Rural foxes showed adaptation for speed and hunting after quick, small prey, while urban fox skulls exhibited changes that made it easier for them to scavenge, looking through human refuse for food, rather than chasing it. Their snouts were shorter and stronger, making it easier to open packages and chew up leftovers. They also have smaller brains, not meant for hunting but for interacting with stationary food sources, reports Science magazine.

Interestingly, there was much similarity found between the male and female skulls of the urban foxes.

The observed changes correspond to what Charles Darwin called the "domestication syndrome," comprised of traits that go along with an animal's transition from being wild, to tamed, to domesticated.

The study was led by Kevin Parsons, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Glasgow.

"What's really fascinating here is that the foxes are doing this to themselves," Parsons told the BBC. "This is the result of foxes that have decided to live near people, showing these traits that make them look more like domesticated animals."

The researchers are not suggesting you should go out and get a fox as a house-pet just yet. But they are seeing the evolutionary process taking place that's moving the urban foxes along the path towards becoming more like dogs and cats, explained the study's co-author Dr. Andrew Kitchener from National Museums Scotland.

A fox beneath a tree in Greenwich park, south east London

A fox beneath a tree in Greenwich park, south east London on May 14, 2020.

Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP

"Some of the basic environmental aspects that may have occurred during the initial phases of domestication for our current pets, like dogs and cats, were probably similar to the conditions in which our urban foxes and other urban animals are living today," said Kitchener. "So, adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication."

The specimen came from the National Museum Scotland's collection of around 1,500 fox skulls.

You can read the study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

fox sleeping beneath stadium seats

A fox at the LV County Championship, Division two match between Surrey and Derbyshire at The Brit Oval on April 9, 2010 in London, England.

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

​'The time is now' for cryptocurrencies, PayPal CEO says

Is Bitcoin akin to 'digital gold'?

Technology & Innovation
  • In October, PayPal announced that it would begin allowing users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies.
  • Other major fintech companies—Square, Fidelity, SoFi—have also recently begun investing heavily in cryptocurrencies.
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"Clean meat" approved for sale in Singapore

Singapore has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product in an effort to secure its food supplies against disease and climate change.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Big Think
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  • Singapore has become the first country to approve the sale of a lab-grown meat product.
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