RE: 'Singularity Realism' - A few thoughts

From: mike99 (
Date: Sun Mar 14 2004 - 17:48:47 MST

One comment I'd like to add below...(I'm not sure who in this tread wrote
the original text I'm commenting on)...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Keith
> Henson
> Sent: Saturday, March 13, 2004 3:55 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: 'Singularity Realism' - A few thoughts
> >But also oil and the non-democratic nature of the regimes has put very
> >large amounts of money into the hands of some quite
> fundamentalist people
> >enabling them to bank roll extremist hate-based schools in the
> region and
> >in Pakistan etc. and terrorist networks.

I have had several Muslim students in the university English classes I
teach. They've come from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan and Iran. When
I've spoken to some of them out of class, I have found quite a range of
opinion. But one thing struck me about how they responded to one of the
assignments I give, which is to write a resume and cover letter. Among the
Saudi and Yemeni students, the only employers they ever consider working for
are the government-run combines (e.g., Aramco, which is a conglomerate with
business interests that go far beyond the oil industry; and government-owned
banks, which under Islam, are curious institutions since they are not
allowed to loan at interest).

The corruption of the Saudi royal family is legendary. But in this, they are
certainly not unique. In trying to understand Muslims better, I have done
some reading. Among all the sources I've looked at, my personal favorite
(being the skeptic that I am) is "Why I Am not a Muslim" by Ibn Warraq (the
pen-name of a former Muslim now living in the West).

My general conclusion is that Islam had enough diversity in its intellectual
history to offer models for Muslim societies that were far more open than
most today. Contemporary Muslim societies are backward-looking and resentful
of the gap between their former glory and their present squalor. Most are so
insular that they prevent their members from knowing what the rest of the
world is really like. (Obviously, the Muslim college students who have some
to the West are the exceptions.) According to the United Nations, more
foreign books were translated and published Greek in recent years than in
the entire Muslim world, which is hundreds of times larger.

The other factor here is that the Muslim world has no industry and few
universities of any quality. Yet the elite live very well from oil revenues.
It seems to me that any society that depends on an extractive industry like
oil will tend to stratify into a super-rich elite and the vast majority who
will depend mostly on government hand-outs and state "businesses" for their
daily bread. That's not a situation conducive to free inquiry, innovation or
economic independence.

Michael LaTorra

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