Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Evidence Against Evolution?

  • The Wall Street Journal

Week in Ideas: Daniel Akst


Honesty Begins at Home

Studies in lab settings have found that people are quite willing to lie when it's to their advantage. But a paper finds that, at home, they're remarkably honest.
In one experiment, researchers phoned people at home and asked them to flip a coin, promising about $20 or an Amazon.com gift code if the coin landed tails. Heads? They'd get nothing. The researchers had no way to know which of the 658 participants might be lying, but a result of around 50-50 would indicate honesty. In fact, 56% reported heads.
In a second experiment, 94 people were asked by phone to flip a coin four times (and promised about $6.60 for every throw of tails). The results were almost exactly what would be expected statistically, suggesting that not much lying was going on. The data weren't correlated to gender; in previous studies, women were found to be more honest.
"Truth-Telling: A Representative Assessment," Johannes Abeler, Anke Becker and Armin Falk, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Discussion Paper 6919 (October)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Hangout/You Tube/Conference Call Shiur Live this Motzo'ei Shabbos: Zos Chanukah

This Motzo'ei Shabbos, Parashas Mikeitz
נר שמיני של חנוכה, זאת חנוכה
The night following 2 Teves, Dec. 15th

10:00 pm EST

9:00 pm CST, 7:00 pm PST

זאת חנוכה

Zos Chanukah

Invitations to the Hangout will go out 

shortly before the shiur via Google+.

Simulcast live at youtube.com/mtajt

To join by conference call:

Dial: (209) 647-1600
Access Code: 435678#

Additional Help

Joining the Conference - At the scheduled date and time of the conference call, dial the conference line and enter the access code followed by the pound sign when prompted.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"Halacha b'yadu'a Esav soneh l'Yaakov"

מסירת מודעה

The assertion that Halacha b'yadu'a Esav soneh l'Yaakov is related to general Antisemitism, has no source in Chazal. As Rashi brings it down in Chumash (Bereishis 33:4), it is strictly a statement concerning the relationship between the two brothers. There is no basis for its extrapolation to broader groups of people. From my perspective, bandying the statement around obfuscates rather than clarifies, as it makes Antisemitism some intrinsic emotion innate to non-Jews. Were that indeed the case, it would seem unjust to punish those who are predisposed to it. It is also not appropriate to link this Chazal to the profound derashah (Shabbos 89a) concerning the sinah that came down at Sinai. The Likkutei Torah (R' Schneur Zalman of Liadi) explains that this derashah refers to the hatred that the Jews received at Sinai - towards the vile traits of pagan nations (see Rashi ad loc., who also seems to have understood the Gemara in that vein).

Moreover, it seems very difficult to reconcile this notion of pre-programmed detestation of Jews with our mission of Ohr la'Goyim:

...ועיקר סיבה זו שיהא רוב חיותנו בגלות, דהקב"ה גילה לאברהם אשר נוצרו בניו להיות לאור גויים, וזה אי אפשר רק כשהם מפוזרים בגלות
 הנצי"ב, העמק דבר לבראשית מז כח