BBC Apology - 4. Doves and Hawks

Tuesday, 30 December 2008 05:11
Jill Tweedie once wrote an article for the Guardian about her encounter with some evangelical Christians. Jill noted their smiling, joyous certainty about their salvation, and called them doves, in contrast to the dour, punitive Christian fundamentalists whom she called the hawks. She related that, as her encounter with this group of doves ended, she saw in their eyes the cold, steely glint of the hawk. I’ve been encountering quite a few doves and hawks at the talks and interviews I’ve been giving about my new book What Should I Believe? I find that they fall into three groups, namely, the vulnerable doves, the hawks masquerading as doves, and the proud, vigilante hawks. The proud, vigilante hawks examine me and dismiss me coldly. In another time and place, they would have sent me to the stake with a wave of their hand. The hawks masquerading as doves wait until the event is ending and then they advance on me to patronise me. If being patronised were fatal, I’d have died weeks ago. The poor, vulnerable doves cannot contain their distress at my suggestion that their most dearly held belief might be a fantasy. Life is difficult, and we all need a…

BBC Apology - 3. Emails linked to Summary

Tuesday, 30 December 2008 05:11
1 From: Tom WilliamsSent: 11 September 2008 12:24To: Dorothy RoweSubject: FW: DOROTHY ROWE - BBC Radio Two documentary on why we believe in God Dear Dorothy, Please let me know if you are interested in participating in this discussion programme.  It should all be able to be done over the phone or at your house. With best wishes, Tom WilliamsAitken Alexander Associates, From: Charlotte King-Manchester Sent: 10 September 2008 17:51To: Tom WilliamsSubject: DOROTHY ROWE - BBC Radio Two documentary on why we believe in God Dear Tom Williams, I'm writing to ask whether Dorothy Rowe might be able to take part in a programme I'm setting up for BBC Radio Two. It's an hour-long documentary for Faith in the World Week - a week of special programmes exploring religious belief around the world, made by the BBC's Religion and Ethics department. This documentary will ask where does religious faith come from and, in an age when secular voices tell us that scientific reason has replaced religion, why do so many of us still want to believe in God and search for faith? It'll be a fairly touchy-feely documentary with lots of music, as well as interviews with celebrities, experts (both…

The Tablet: Catherine Pepinster (Nov 08)

Friday, 28 November 2008 05:05
The self-help delusion Spurred by the atrocities of 9/11, critics of religion first turned their fire on the fundamentalists – initially those of Islam, then those of Christianity. Now, doyenne of the make-it-alone gurus Dorothy Rowe has conventional Christians in her sights By Catherine Pepinster If you have attended literary festivals you will know which kind of author is guaranteed to be a big draw. There will be a good crowd for a novelist, a few hangers- on for a poet reciting his verse, but the sellout stars are the gurus – the ones that people feel explain the world and make sense of it. Once, that might have been the role of a priest, and certainly some of today’s gurus reflect the characteristics of a holy man. There’s the fire-and-brimstone, preaching-from-the-pulpit type – a Christopher Hitchens or a Richard Dawkins warning their followers of the dangers of religion. Or there are the emotional gurus, the ones attracting those wanting to confess their misery and their failings, looking for some kind of redemption from those who advocate psychological self-help. And among the self-help gurus, you don’t come bigger than Dorothy Rowe. Rowe, to give her credit, is no self-made selfhelper. She has…
IS PSYCHOLOGY a science? This was the big theme in the fourth year of my undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Sydney, Australia, in the late 1940s. Our professor, Bill O'Neill, devoted many lectures to this question. The subject matter of research in psychology might not fit easily into experimental designs, he argued, but that should not prevent us from holding fast to scientific principles to define our terms and refine our hypotheses. The purpose of science, he said, was not to discover facts but to ask better questions. Today, psychologists - and the public - take it for granted that psychology is a science. I base my work on the developmental psychologists who study infants, and neuropsychologists who study how we make sense of our experiences. I know developmental and neuropsychologists follow O'Neill's principles. However, many psychologists prefer to try to show that the world is what they want it to be, while others fear venturing into any area where they might have to confront the questions of how our brain creates meaning, and how, out of this meaning, comes what the neuropsychologist Chris Frith calls the "illusion" of being a person. The subjects of research in the…

Moral babies, or born to be wild? (Nov 07)

Friday, 23 November 2007 02:29
Daily Telegraph, 23 November 2007 Moral babies or born to be wild? A new study suggests that babies can differentiate between good and bad behaviour from as early as six months. Psychologist Dorothy Rowe disputes claims that humans are born with an innate morality.Babies are born with one thing: an instinct to survive Babies are born helpless. Their survival depends on other people. Babies can make their distress known to others, but those people won't necessarily respond in the way the baby needs. To survive, babies need to be able to assess whether an adult will be helpful or not. So do toddlers, for whom being able to read feelings is essential. My own mother had an erratic, explosive, dangerous temper which she usually vented on me; my survival depended on being able to read her danger signs. For the Yale experiment, six- and 10-month-old babies were made to watch two colourful wooden toys either help or hinder another who was trying to climb a steep hill. After the baby viewed the characters, they were invited to pick one. The babies showed a strong preference for the toy that helped rather than hindered, proving, according to the Yale scientists, that babies…

Not mad or bad, just scared. (Jun 07)

Friday, 29 June 2007 02:30
Not mad or bad, just scared (June 07) Suppose you’re at home awaiting the arrival of the person on whom you feel your life depends. The person is very late and the minutes are flying by. You try to watch television but you can’t concentrate. You move from chair to window and window to door. Acting on sudden impulses, you make phone calls, check diaries and traffic news. When a friend phones you for a chat you rudely order them to hang up. The line must be kept clear. You’re exhibiting hyperactivity, impulsiveness, distractibility and emotional lability (short temper). You have been stricken with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Or it may be that you are afraid. The symptoms of ADHD are the symptoms of fear. ADHD is the mental disorder which millions of children in the developed world have succumbed to in recent years. At the same time the numbers of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder ‘have risen astronomically’ (NS 19/5/07). The symptoms of this disorder are hyperactivity, irritability (not getting your own way), psychosis (grandiosity/inflated self-esteem), elation (expansive mood), rapid speech, sleep (lack of).These symptoms are an exaggeration in a particular way of the symptoms of ADHD. The person…
5 February 2005:  Like a puppet on the couch Psychologists and psychiatrists persist in treating us as if we were helpless victims of our biochemistry. This is a disastrous mistake, says Dorothy Rowe. The Bible says you have free will and you can choose to do whatever you like, but if you make a choice God doesn’t approve, He’ll clobber you. Most scientists, on the other hand, argue that what you do is nothing but the end result of a long chain of causes over which you have no control worth talking about. Who is right? Are we agents capable of acting on the world anyway we choose or puppets dangling off biochemistry’s strings? Actually neither really fits our daily experience. In my work as a psychologist one of the big questions I ask people is: “How do you operate as a person?” I also listen to people talking to each other about how they operate. The vast majority describe themselves as engaged in making sense of a situation, deciding what to do and acting on those decisions. A few insist that they are being controlled by extraterrestrial powers or voices emanating from their television. Not surprisingly, these people don’t…
From The Right Use of Money edited by David Darton, The Policy Press, University of Bristol and Friends Provident Foundation, 2004 (Also mentioned in blog published on 13 July 2011) Vast sums of donors' money have been wasted because the donors did not take the time and trouble to understand how the people they wanted to help saw themselves and their world. Gaining such an understanding usually threatens the donors' world view, and so they prefer to believe that they know best. We often see the same thing happen in our personal lives. I was ill recently, nothing life-threatening but it was quite debilitating with intermittent bouts of severe pain. Two friends, separately, chose to help me. Without asking me, the first friend decided what it was that I needed. I found myself side-lined and, from the way she was treating me, I feared that my friend thought that I had become senile. Meanwhile she created havoc around me. Finally she departed, and I was left to pick up the pieces. The following week, still ill, I went to visit the other friend. She listened carefully to my account of my illness and she observed me closely. She learned very…
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