Tag Archives: murder

The Bain illusion

Cover via Amazon

The recent media discussion of the “I shot the prick” is rather distasteful. That’s the discussion about a “hidden message” in the recording of David Bain‘s emergency phone call on the day his family was murdered.

Whether or not this should have been submitted as evidence during the trial there is no doubt that the interpretation is highly imaginative. Trouble is with these sort of things, once you are told what the alleged “hidden message” is there is no way you are not going to hear it. We are all very suggestible this way.

Michael Shermer describes a beautiful example of this illusion using the song Stairway to Heaven played backwards. Initially you don’t make sense of it but once you are told what the message is meant to be you can’t help hear hear demonic lyrics. He describes this phenomena, and other similar illusions in his TED talk “Why people believe strange things” in the video below. He also goes into this perception problem in his book Why People Believe Weird Things.

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Remarriage not an option

The recent murder of South Auckland liquor store owner Navtej Singh shocked New Zealand. Unfortunately this murder was only the last of a number of similar events. New Zealanders were also concerned about the time taken by ambulance workers to get to Mr Singh.

But I think many of us were also shocked to hear of the full plight of Mr Singh’s widow, Harjinder Kaur. She has now been left with the responsibly of caring for three young children and elderly parents. And, according to her brother, “in our culture, remarriage is not an option.”

Most of us in New Zealand just have no comprehension of the limits some cultures place on the human rights of people – usually the women. In her blog Stargazer, Anjum Rahman discusses (see widow) the problems widows face in India and the activity of Women’s groups on these issues.

The comment made by Harjinder Kaur’s brother highlight a problem we face in today’s world of massive global movement of peoples. Imposition of customs, usually enforced by religion, which are inappropriate for people living in a modern liberal and pluralistic society.

These are the sort of problems which our National Statement on Religious Diversity ignores.

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Facing up to child abuse

The repeal of Section 59 of New Zealand Crimes Act 1961 sparked a lot of debate here about the use of violence against children. I feel this discussion concentrated on parental rights and often ignored the results of parental violence on children. Sad, because child abuse is a problem in New Zealand.

Triple abuse

I think the victims of child abuse suffer three times over (if they survive the original abuse). Continue reading