I would recommend this Scientific American article (link) discussing our ability to empathise.
It seems that there are several forms of empathy. The one we commonly think of is an emotional and situational empathy. We can place ourselves in another's shoes and gain some form of understanding about how they might feel and why they react in the manner they do. But empathy goes much further than this. Evidence shows that the same neurons are fired whether we directly experience something or when we observe it happening to others (European Journal Neuroscience). This is not restricted to humans but has also been observed in monkeys (Experimental brain research). Additionally, there appears to be a link between the strength of this neural response and individual ability to empathise with another's perspective (Neuroimage) (the Scientific American article summarises each study quite nicely for those unable to open the full papers). So it seems that we may be able to "feel" another's situation to far greater depth than we had previously thought.
I wonder how this links in with peoples choice of books, films and other entertainment, or if it does at all?
Cherie Blair has made a speech denigrating the lifestyle choice of women who stay at home and look after the children.
While I advocate work and self reliance for women and would have a problem not working (I enjoy my work too much), I also do not want or have children. But it is not my place to judge the lifestyle that others choose. It is not possible for many couples and families to have one partner stay at home (it isn't always the woman who raises the children) but when it is possible... why not? I can't find any rational argument that a stay at home mum would do any damage to her children's career aspirations. I think that a lot of this speech is misrepresenting the feminist argument. It is not about whether career, family or having both is a better lifestyle choice. It is about being able to make that choice and choose what it is
We are not isolated organisms and we carry around with us many different types of microbes while remaining perfectly healthy. This BBC news article highlights some of the interesting snippets from research investigating our microbial populations.
As with all things, it is about balance, and maintaining a good balance between microbial populations can be fairly important. For example, taking antibiotics can kill friendly bacteria all over the body, leading to a common yeast infections such as Thrush. The reduction in bacteria that keep the normal yeast population in check can trigger a population explosion, leading to irritating consequences on skin and mucous membranes. Bacteria are part of our health and well being, as are the other microbes in our systems. Even those that could become dangerous are generally found in low levels in a healthy individual.
I particularly like this quote:
Legislating that marriage could be available for gay couples within the next 3 years or would, according to the church of England, damage the institution of marriage.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18405318The main basis of the argument appears to be the definition of marriage as being between an man and a woman and for procreation. By allowing gay marriage it would undermine the CofE and its "vast" importance to society.
Yet again, a religious institution fails to move with the times and progress naturally. Rather than being at the forefront of change, leading the world to a better place and potentially bringing more people together, it hangs back, clinging with all its might to outdated notions about what the right thing is to do. The right thing is equality for the legal status of people who chose to share their lives together. It is clear that the sex of the individual is insignificant, it will not damage society nor will it undermine anything for anyone. It merely is an extension of rights to those who are different. There are religious organisations and leaders that support gay marriage (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17796511) and they certainly seem to be moving in the right direction. It is a shame the people who issue the statements and policies of the CofE are not progressive enough to embrace the change that will come, and it will, sooner or later.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!