Think you know the bible? There’s a Bible Bee

August 18, 2014

The first one was in 2009 (I know because I wrote about it) and I see it’s still running. Ken Ham is promoting it on his blog.

August marks the start of regionals with the finalists to be head-to-head at the finals in Orlando, Florida at the end of October.

This year’s theme for the AiG ministry is “Standing our Ground, Rescuing our Kids,” based on Galatians 1:4. It’s one of the reasons we support something called the National Bible Bee in the USA.

Now, the Bible Bee is a family discipleship program—with a competition at the end of the year—for students ages 7–18. Through the summer, families will be memorizing Scripture and studying God’s Word, preparing to be tested on their general Bible knowledge. The format has changed this year. You can read about the changes at

Will do, Ken.

First, though, Galations 1:4 — “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (via)

I wonder what particular evil is on the minds of organizers this year. “Standing our Ground” really puts me in mind of the shooting deaths of several Americans over the years, whether they possibly “deserved” a bullet or not. I doubt a nine year old did. Maybe the intent with the theme is something like, “Use your bible as your gun and your knowledge of verses your bullets to pierce the souls of the heretics and light them with the fire of the Lord our Jesus amen…”

At the Bible Bee website, I learn that the first round starts on August 23rd and serious money is up for grabs by the end of this event, available in cash and scholarships. (Award breakdown here.)

The site offers a multitude of study tools, all which entrants (or their parents) must pay for, in order to make memorizing the bible a lot easier and supposedly more fun. It’s still the bible, though, and at the end of this nobody’s really more educated or enlightened by memorizing entire chunks of it.

The Shelby Kennedy Foundation (also referred to as “SKF”) is the parent organization of the annual National Bible Bee. SKF sponsors the Bible Bee to help families strengthen their personal relationships with the Lord and dynamically impact the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. The vision for the Bible Bee is to encourage parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memorization, and prayer.

That’s from the scholarship website just mentioned. I’ll quote another article from 2012’s contest.

This year, organizers cut back on the amount of information students were required to study in preparation for local competitions. With the help of special guidebooks, parents can now effectively lead their children in their Bible Bee studies in about 20 minutes per day.

Those who qualify for nationals, however, are eventually faced with much greater intellectual challenges, including the memorization of several hundred verses of Scripture.

“The top 300, when they come here, it’s a whole different ball game. They’re the Olympians, they’re the ones that have really studied and worked hard,” said Widdoes.

It’s not intellect, it’s memorization. Two different things, isn’t it?

I Google to find a definition of intellect for proof of this. The Free Dictionary offers these:

a. The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.
b. The ability to think abstractly or profoundly

I’ll bet a cookie that none of that is happening at a bible bee. They aren’t being asked to write essays on the cultural impact of these verses and what they mean for society as a whole or debate the value of this interpretation of a verse other another. They don’t have to show they’re learning anything while they recite a shit ton of verses. They just have to memorize them.

I highly doubt this contest results in winners being smarter, more intelligent people. This just turns kids into bible parrots. How does that really help them in life and career prospects? The Atlantic pointed out something similar during the 2010 contest.

The obvious question in all this: Just what is the implicit value of memorizing the Bible word for word? Just because a kid can spell “appoggiatura” doesn’t guarantee he or she can string together a coherent sentence; likewise, does the memorization of vast swaths of scripture actually “plant a godly heritage in the next generation”?

Not surprisingly, the Bee’s proponents have answers to these questions. LaFleur, Widdoes, and Lawrence each talk about the power of “hiding the word in your heart,” an allusion to Psalm 119:11: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Replace “heart” with “head” and you have a pretty clear idea of the theory behind the Bee.

The article also points to a part in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom cheats his way to the top of a similar contest. I never read that book. My Banned Book club read Huck Finn recently, though. Tom might need a reading now just so I can say I’ve done it.

For LaFleur, the ability to instantly summon verses makes it that much easier to live according to the Bible’s dictates. “It’s so ingrained in my heart that I can just say it. I know it without looking it up,” she says. “It becomes so much more a part of every moment of your life. As you lie down and go to sleep, whenever it’s quiet, verses will come to mind.”

Well, okay. If that’s the ultimate goal for the bulk of the participants so be it. If it somehow gives them peace at the end of a long and trying day to call up verses that sooth and stimulate them, who am I to condemn it? I think the amount of time devoted to memorizing them could be spent in so many better ways but whatever. Their lives, not mine. Their time, not mine.

Thoughts? I always ask. Don’t keep them to yourself if you’ve got ‘em…

The Gospel of Barnabas and a 1500 year old bible

August 16, 2014

I’m a couple years late to this story; the original article is from 2012.

The bible had been seized in 2000 when a group of smugglers were charged with illegal evacuations, smuggling antiques and being in possession of explosives as well. A manuscript had been tucked inside the bible with gold lettering spelling out various verses. The thought at the time was that the manuscript could be anywhere from 1500 to 2000 years old. The bible sat in Ankara until 2012 before getting transferred to the Ankaran Ethnography Museum via police escort. Nobody stepped up to claim either piece. The Vatican was very interested in getting a look at it, for obvious reasons.

Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript, and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a fake. Other questions surround the discovery of the ancient bible, whether the smugglers had had other copies of the relic or had smuggled them from Turkey.

Let’s move forward to the article linking to the National Turk article I already quoted. This one’s from May 2014 at Higher Perspective:

This discovery turns modern Christianity on its head! This bible, dating as far back as 2,000 years, details the Gospel of Barnabas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, which shows that Jesus wasn’t actually crucified and doesn’t claim him to be the son of God, but instead a prophet. The book charges that Apostle Paul was “The Impostor.” The story is completely different. In the Book of Barnabas, Jesus wasn’t crucified, but ascended to heaven alive, and Judas Iscariot was crucified instead.

The Turk didn’t have any mention of what books were included in that old tome so I have no idea where HP found this nugget of Wow.

Barnabas is available to read at Sacred Texts but in an ugly format. The fun starts at chapter 215 where Judas is bringing the soldiers to where Jesus is. God and his angels come to collect Jesus and take him to the “third heaven” before the soldiers get there. God then gets back at Judas by transforming him to look and sound like Jesus. Judas doesn’t realize it and is in the room where he last saw Jesus. As the disciples wake, he asks where their “master” is and the disciples find that kind of hilarious since Judas is currently the spitting image. The soldiers then assume he’s Jesus and the rest of the disciples escape with their lives. In 217, Judas gets crucified instead and utters the famous line, ‘God, why hast thou forsaken me, seeing the malefactor hath escaped and I die unjustly?’

Verily I say that the voice, the face, and the person of Judas were so like to Jesus, that his disciples and believers entirely believed that he was Jesus; wherefore some departed from the doctrine of Jesus, believing that Jesus had been a false prophet, and that by art magic he had done the miracles which he did: for Jesus had said that he should not die till near the end of the world; for that at that time he should be taken away from the world.

I have to break in here to remind readers that Barnabas, “He who writeth” this version of events, should have also been tricked into thinking Judas was Jesus because no one saw the transformation occur. See how it’s foolish to think of these stories as first hand accounts of real events? Interesting as literature, though. I’d never come across this version before.

I suppose that false prophet notion is part of why Barnabas is considered a Muslim gospel in some circles. Also, nobody can conclusively determine, Christian or Muslim, whether the Barnabas book is a product of fraud or an authentic record. I suppose the jury is still out on that. Read more about Barnabas from an Islamic point of view at Answering Islam.

Back to HP:

Experts believe that during the Council of Nicea, the Catholic Church went through and hand picked the gospels that form what we know the bible to be today and omitted the Gospel of Barnabas (among others) in favor of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These original texts surfaced over time, and this new discovery is especially worrying to the Catholic church.

Believe? I thought the hand picking was an established fact, although maybe this author meant nobody’s sure if Barnabas’ version was known of at the time of the Council and purposefully omitted by them or if it turned up years later.

Barnabas is not a new discovery, though. Sacred Texts notes that Spanish and Italian manuscripts of the book date back to the 14th century and experts uniformly agree it’s probably fraudulent. The Catholic Church is hardly shaking in their boots because of Barnabas.

As an antiquity, though, that bible is one hell of a find and it’s great that a museum was able to procure it for study. Its value is its history and whatever books are within it might illustrate very nicely how the bible itself has altered over time. It was written in a dialect of Aramaic that would have been spoken around the time Jesus supposedly lived. If people can still decipher it, that’s pretty nifty. Every translator from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to whatever you’re speaking today would have put his own spin on the text and worked hard to bring it to their audience in the most understandable and hopefully accurate way. It’d be fascinating to see a good translation of the 1500 beside an NIV or King James now and really see how it varies from how we interpret the bible today.

I don’t intend to get the “Shut up, Devil!” app

August 12, 2014

All right for some, maybe, but to a non-believer like myself it sounds pretty damned silly. Also, I don’t have a smartphone.

The Shut Up, Devil! app is an innovative resource that puts the power of the Word of God in your pocket. And because it’s on your smartphone, which is almost always with you, you’re ready to resist the devil whenever and wherever he attacks. Additionally the app features reminders that will help you keep the enemy at bay and silenced in your life.

The app conception stemmed from Charisma House’s upcoming book, Silence Satan by Kyle Winkler, which releases in September. Winkler is founder of Kyle Winkler Ministries, a media and teaching ministry broadcasting on the Christian Television Network.

I guess it still throws me to find people in the world who think of the devil as an actual adversary in their lives who is intent on manipulating them and luring them down dark paths away from the light of their lord. I’ve just done too much reading that lends credence to other far more likely scenarios: namely that the devil is an invention added to the bible as time went on. Became anthropomorphized as Jewish thought and culture changed to match and keep up with the beliefs of other societies they found themselves in. Ideas change, minds change, hearts change, and then ideas change again..

Religious Tolerance has a nice rundown of the history of Satan.

There are no passages within the older parts of the Hebrew Scriptures where Satan is portrayed as an evil devil – the arch enemy of God and of humanity. At most, he is described as a henchman who carries out God’s evil instructions. There is no dualism here between two powerful supernatural entities: an all-good God and an all-evil Satan. God is portrayed as performing, directly and indirectly, both kind and evil deeds.

It’s only in the later books, after the Zoroastrian religion gained a footing, that the dualistic idea of God vs Satan started showing up. There was an evil god in the Zoroastrian tradition (Ahriman) and it’s suspected that early Jewish writers likely adapted the beliefs in that deity to fit their own needs for their religion.

During the last three centuries before Christ’s birth, the portrayal of Satan underwent a major change. The Zoroastrian / Persian dualism concept appeared in Jewish writing: God was now looked upon as wholly good; Satan as profoundly evil. History was seen as a battle between them. No longer was Satan simply God’s prosecuting attorney, helper, or lackey. Satan, and his demons, were now humanity’s greatest enemies.

The followers of Jesus grew up thinking of the world as divided by this good and evil and the idea that malevolent spirits had their fingers on the hearts and minds of the faithful all the time. The way they viewed the world coloured the way they wrote down the stories that later became the Gospels. Paul and the rest coming later thought and felt the same way and continued the trend.

These days, though? Why hang onto the idea? What purpose does it really serve? Why not just accept that humans have the capacity for tremendous good and perplexing badness and may illustrate both on the same day?

To end, a song I still like by a band I don’t listen to anymore, but it seemed like a good song to throw in here.

Your dead child is gay? We won’t do his funeral.

August 8, 2014

A Baptist church in Tampa, Florida cancelled funeral arrangements for 42 year old Julion Evans after the obituary listed a surviving husband. His mother, Julie Atwood, was floored by the news; the funeral was to be the next day.

Atwood said she was told it would be “blasphemous” to hold the services at the church because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay.

“It was devastating,” she said. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”

Evans’ husband, Kendall Capers, says the pair were partners for 17 years and married last year in Maryland. Evans died at home after a 4-year battle with a rare illness called Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body.

He says the obituary named him as “husband,” and that their marriage was no secret.

It was going to be a very large funeral at New Hope but Paster T.W. Jenkins had no idea the deceased was gay when he agreed to it. Other churchgoers spilled the beans when they complained about the obituary. Only then did he cancel. The family was able to arrange a last minute service elsewhere but were unable to inform everyone of the change so many turned up at New Hope anyway.

Jenkins said his church preaches against gay marriage.

“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” Jenkins said. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”

And yet by refusing to provide the family with the agreed-upon funeral, it’s still proof of condemnation to me, and everyone else who’s picked up the story and run with it.

Slate picked up the story and notes

As a pastor, of course, Jenkins has a constitutional right to deny religious services to anybody he wants. But legal impunity does not exempt Jenkins from moral judgment—and his action is surely one of breathtaking immorality. Here was a man in a deeply committed relationship, who suffered bravely through a horrible disease—and yet his church denied him peace, even in death. Jenkins can “stand up for [his] principles” all he wants. But the rest of us have every right to be absolutely disgusted.


The church’s website claims they’re “Christ-centered and biblically-based” and offer this gospel verse:

The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

—- Numbers 6:24-26

But rather than be gracious and peace-giving themselves, they turned the family away.

Quotable comment: help the poor (somehow) with Jesus

August 1, 2014

This comment was left on a post recently but it has nothing to do with the post itself so instead of replying with a comment there, I made a new post to share my thoughts on it.

Help the poor ,live as we do.that is what the bible and jesus preached d to us is a book about poverty help not rich ,money help

Ignore the seasoning in terms of spelling and punctuation and try to focus on the meat of the comment.

Help the poor…

How exactly?

It’s already clear that prayers to Jesus or his mother or various saints or other gods aren’t helping the poor not be poor. People pray every day. Does God think those prayers are insincere and therefore not worth answering? Is he somehow incapable of fixing the problem? Does he not want to fix the problem? Or, and this is my favourite scenario, there isn’t any superior being anywhere to hear them? Scratch prayer.

…money help.

Part one of this aphorism holds true: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Throw some money at the poor today and they might buy coffee or beer or pay a bill or something, but that isn’t getting to the root of the problem. The problem isn’t just “they have no money”.

What’s going on in their city, province, state, country in terms of the government and aid for low/no income families? What’s available for them? How many roadblocks are there for getting health care and enough food and education for themselves and their children? How many chances are they given to get further ahead?

Now the other part of the aphorism: teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life. How much help are they able to get? What facilities exist for assistance and getting them out of a bad situation? How much support is really there? How much compassion from their employers, their landlords or their governments? True, some money problems are a direct result of bad choices made by the people themselves (you really think a carton of smokes and another tattoo is a good use of that pay cheque?) but how can people really learn how to manage their money if they never had much to begin with? How will kids learn how to save and invest in the future if the parents can’t?

Something that might help a little: churches and the governments that support them should stop fighting birth control and abortions. Life may be precious but think about the lives of the people here right now and how they’re doing. If they’re doing well, having a child (or another child) won’t be as huge a financial strain as it will be for a low income family. Make birth control as cheap as possible if it can’t be free. Put the choices in the hands of the families, not businessmen and lobbyists. I hope it doesn’t come across as if I don’t think poor people should get to be parents. That’s not the argument I’m making here. What kind of support system is in place for these families, though? If the support isn’t there to accommodate the added monetary weight for each new kid born, these families will inevitably fall.

…Jesus preached to us…

Yes, this story is credited to him:

Jesus did not extol poverty as some great virtue. In fact, only one time did He tell someone—the rich young ruler—to sell his possessions and give to the poor. I think it was because that man was possessed by his possessions. Because when Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21), the Bible says that he went away sorrowful. It was a test to see whether God was more important to him than his things.

But recall that no writer of the bible knew the man in life. All they had were anecdotes of varying degrees of validity about a man who may never have lived at all.

A few western examples of life on a low income:

McDonalds and their goofy budget suggestions.

Employees at McDonald’s and Walmart support living wages and it’s not going to be quick fight to get it.

Woman gets jailed and fired because she can’t afford child care and let her kid spend the day at a park.

Bottom line, don’t quote Jesus as the solution and simply stop there. Yes, even atheists will admit that there are bits in the bible that are still relevant today but he’s more like an advice columnist from a bygone era, Miss Manners for the 1st century.

Apologies to the Beatles, but the poverty issue really is bigger than Jesus.

What part of the bible is worth following letter for letter?

July 30, 2014

Due to forest fires up north, the sky has been pretty smoky some days. My mother is a photographer who never misses a moment to snap a cool picture. I’ve nabbed this “red sun at night” photo from her Facebook feed.

red sun at night

She always gets a lot of likes for her stuff and supportive comments. This morning I noticed this comment from a friend of hers in New Brunswick.

It-s written in the Bible…that wewill see lhe moon red,,,,”

(Ignore the weird spelling and punctuation in this case; English is not the woman’s first language and she has no typing skills to speak of but she still wants to take part in the conversation.)

My first temptation was to retort with a comment of my own but I decided to put it here instead:

The bible also bans the eating of shellfish. Pick what part you want to follow, I guess…

(Seafood is big in New Brunswick.)

She’s confused the Mom’s Sun with the bible’s Moon in her comment but never mind that for now. What does the bible say about the Moon? First off, the anonymous storytellers were not astronomers. I take from the only version of the bible I’ll read, the Skeptic’s Annotated, starting at Genesis:

In an apparent endorsement of astrology, God places the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament so that they can be used “for signs”. This, of course, is exactly what astrologers do: read “the signs” in the Zodiac in an effort to predict what will happen on Earth. 1:14

God makes two lights: “the greater light [the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [the moon] to rule the night.” But the moon is not a light, but only reflects light from the sun. And why, if God made the moon to “rule the night”, does it spend half of its time moving through the daytime sky? 1:16

Ezekial 32:

(32:7-8) God “will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.” To Ezekiel, the sun is just a little light that can be covered with a cloud, and the moon produces its own light.

Ezeikial 46:6 mentions the moon but only in terms of how to properly honour God on a New Moon night by sacrificing “a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram.”

Why do people insist prayer in schools is what God wants? Maybe he really just misses the smell of blood and flesh burned in his name. Focus less on prayer in schools and more on holy BBQs! No wonder he sends floods and earthquakes! There’s always a flood or an earthquake within a couple weeks of a new moon! Haven’t you noticed that? It’s proof I tell you! Proof!

But I digress.

The winning entry in the possible moon verses comes out of – you probably guessed already – Revelations. In this case, chapter 6. To sum up,

Jesus (the 7-horned, 7-eyed, 7-holy spirited dead lamb from chapter 5) begins breaking seals and all kinds of bad shit happens. Before each seal is broken, a beast tells John to “come and see.”

Seals One through Five are supposed to unleash all manner of horror on the world, essentially the four horsemen of the apocalypse to rain death and destruction on everyone plus all the dead martyrs so they can see their killers get what’s coming to them, I suppose. Seal Six:

Sixth seal: A great earthquake, the sun becomes black, and the moon red, the stars fall from heaven, mountains and islands move around, and everyone on earth wishes they were dead (if they’re not already).

(6:12) “There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black … and the moon became as blood.”

(6:13) “The stars of heaven fell unto the earth.”

(6:14) “Heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

And 6:14 is there to once again illustrate the fact that these authors didn’t understand how the universe worked. Stars aren’t loosely hung on a black bed sheet and at risk of falling to the earth if someone shakes them a little. And falling stars aren’t even falling stars in the first place. Total misnomer. It’s always meteors.

Speaking of, we’re in the midst of the yearly Perseids show, running from July 13 to August 26 and supposed to peak around August 12/13 or so. If you like watching that sort of thing.

Optimism and world peace

July 29, 2014

First, the question posed to Billy Graham.

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve always been an optimistic person, believing we can solve our differences and create a better, more peaceful world. But frankly it’s been harder for me to think this way recently. Will we ever see true world peace? — G.H.

Ted Conversations had a section related to this a couple years ago suggesting it’s unattainable and naive to think otherwise. Some commentators disagreed. Writes Gerald,

Why is it naive? You gotta give reasons.
To anyone living 3000 years ago, it would’ve seemed naive to think Europe could some day hold 700 million people and be more at peace than it ever was before.

Statistically speaking, we do live in the least violent part of human history thus far even though it doesn’t sound like it when you watch the news.

Steven Pinker’s 2007 Ted Talk on that topic is here and offers a transcript. I’ll quote from it but Billy first.

DEAR G.H.: From time to time, the world may experience periods of peace, and we certainly should pray for these (and for our leaders). Othniel was one of ancient Israel’s wisest judges (or rulers), and the Bible says the nation had 40 years of peace as a result (see Judges 3:11).

Cherry picker. Pinker picks bits from the bible for his talk, too:

…we can look at the way of life of early civilizations such as the ones described in the Bible. And in this supposed source of our moral values, one can read descriptions of what was expected in warfare, such as the following from Numbers 31: “And they warred against the Midianites as the Lord commanded Moses, and they slew all the males. And Moses said unto them, ‘Have you saved all the women alive? Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him, but all the women children that have not know a man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.'” In other words, kill the men; kill the children; if you see any virgins, then you can keep them alive so that you can rape them. You can find four or five passages in the Bible of this ilk. Also in the Bible, one sees that the death penalty was the accepted punishment for crimes such as homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, idolatry, talking back to your parents — (Laughter) — and picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

Billy goes onto say that lasting peace isn’t possible until Christ returns “to establish his perfect rule of peace and justice over the whole Earth.” He then reminds us that Jesus predicted “greater periods of conflict and war” prior to this event. (Mark 13:7) and blames the human heart as being more of a problem than politics, economics or social unrest.

Where, after all, does greed come from? Or the lust for power? Or anger, or racial pride, or anything else that people use as an excuse for war? They come from within our own hearts and minds.

Which is why he thinks Christ is the answer and prayer will “help you bring his peace to those around you and to our world.”

Yes, because that’s worked so well for the past 1970ish years so far… Religious differences have also been touted as reasons for war, too. Which faction’s prayers should which version of a god be listening to?

John wrote Revelations thinking he’d witness the end times for himself in all its horrible glory and he wasn’t the only one over the years and authors. People today are still in the grips of this end of the world thinking, too. Remember Harold Camping? His doomsday never happened like he said it would and he died the death of an elderly man. Probably his family thinks he went to heaven, but there’s no way to know. At least he apologized for being wrong. Doesn’t help anyone who went bankrupt because of his daft beliefs but so it goes.

Watch Pinker’s talk, or read the transcript, or read his interview in New Scientist where he breaks it down again and explains part of why we get an inflated sense of violence:

the human mind loves to learn about violence. Blood sells. The media don’t report that yesterday in Buenos Aires several hundred people died peacefully in their sleep, but if five of them were blown up, that would be news. More generally, when conflicts peter out it never makes the headlines. Unless you systematically tabulate violent deaths as a proportion of all deaths or as a proportion of population size, you will be misled.

The interview was given when his book, The Better Angels of our Nature came out and I never got around to reading it. Perhaps I should rectify that.

I don’t imagine a global reduction in overall violence will translate to complete world peace, though. That’s unreasonable. People are going to disagree and some people will inevitably turn to violence to deal with those disagreements without exploring any other possibilities for a solution.

Then again, I learned a very interesting thing about baboons a while back. Read the section of this article called Left Behind. These males had been very aggressive and anti social to other troops and females within their own group but they all got tuberculosis from the literal garbage they were eating and all the males eventually died. This was in the 1980s. Female baboons stay with the group they were born into but the males move away so eventually new males found their way to this group. The females did something very interesting with them compared to how other baboon groups were treating new additions. Instead of ignoring the new guys for months, within a few weeks the females started grooming them and showing sexual interest. By the ’90s, it was discovered the males of the group would also chip in to groom the new guys, too, something unheard of for other baboon troops being studied. If a group of baboons can change the way they deal with each other, there’s little reason humans can’t as well. Last quote:

Test a person who has a lot of experience with people of different races, and the amygdala does not activate. Or, as in a wonderful experiment by Susan Fiske, of Princeton University, subtly bias the subject beforehand to think of people as individuals rather than as members of a group, and the amygdala does not budge. Humans may be hard-wired to get edgy around the Other, but our views on who falls into that category are decidedly malleable.



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