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War and critical thinking… a British perspective
Posted: 24 November 2010 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Kyuuketsuki UK - 09 November 2010 02:30 PM
garythehuman - 08 November 2010 02:51 PM

Science like religion is just another tool that humans use for good or evil.  Moral/ethical judgments can be informed by science but humans make and live with the results of their own and their societies decisions.

I’m afraid I can’t agree with that ... whilst both science and religions try to explain the universe around them religions , as far as I am aware, ALWAYS carry a philosophical/moral component. That alone sets science far apart from (and IMO above) any religion.

Keke

(Physical) Science is a tool used to investigate and manipulate the physical world.  Religion is a tool (and not the only one) used to define and manipulate the social construct of society and its human relations.  They are both tools that can be used for good (the betterment of humankind) or evil (the determent of humankind.)

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Posted: 02 December 2010 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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garythehuman - 24 November 2010 01:47 PM

(Physical) Science is a tool used to investigate and manipulate the physical world.

I pretty much said that though I am unsure why you put “physical” in there ... all science concerns the observable/inferable and therefore is inherently physical.

garythehuman - 24 November 2010 01:47 PM

Religion is a tool (and not the only one) used to define and manipulate the social construct of society and its human relations.  They are both tools that can be used for good (the betterment of humankind) or evil (the determent of humankind.)

I see no evidence that religion especially acts to the betterment of humankind ... good people do goods things, bad people do bad things but it takes religion and other philosophies to make people act against their basic natures ... on occasion bad people can be made to act better through such philosophies but typically religion seems to turn people into bigots or something rather nastier than they would normally be.

IMO the world would be a much better place without religion ... unfortunately I think we are built to believe and, despite religious claims to the contrary, I think it is the harder path to remain sceptical and objective.

Keke

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Posted: 03 December 2010 12:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Kyuuketsuki UK - 02 December 2010 02:50 AM

I see no evidence that religion especially acts to the betterment of humankind ... good people do goods things, bad people do bad things but it takes religion and other philosophies to make people act against their basic natures ... on occasion bad people can be made to act better through such philosophies but typically religion seems to turn people into bigots or something rather nastier than they would normally be.

IMO the world would be a much better place without religion ... unfortunately I think we are built to believe and, despite religious claims to the contrary, I think it is the harder path to remain sceptical and objective.

Keke

just to point out, the immorality of human sacrifice started out as a religious belief.

People demand to belief in something, religion is something people do to themselves. In some cases the demand for a belief in science is little different. Moses gave the Hebrew a religion because they demanded one from him. Faith is what makes the world go. The Economy runs on faith. The most important thing the President can do is give the people faith. Without faith in something, what is your next step?

Religion gave people faith in something so they could have hope for their own well being. People really want something to have faith in. So much so that some individuals realized they could give people something to believe in and never have to deliver any verifiable results at all.

Science shouldn’t be some ideology to stand by at all costs. Science should be there to remind people to demand verifiable results whatever, whomever people put their faith in.

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Posted: 03 December 2010 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Gnostikosis - 03 December 2010 12:15 AM

just to point out, the immorality of human sacrifice started out as a religious belief.

Er whut? That’s like saying Jesus is mankind’s saviour and expecting others to simply accept it ... I’m sorry but you’re really gonna have to justify that one!

Most of your next two paragraphs seem to say much the same ... yes, faith makes the world go round but not religious faith, faith in people, faith in things happening as they have before, faith that the sun will likely rise in the east because that’s where it has always risen.

Gnostikosis - 03 December 2010 12:15 AM

Science shouldn’t be some ideology to stand by at all costs. Science should be there to remind people to demand verifiable results whatever, whomever people put their faith in.

Where have I said it was?

Keke

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Posted: 03 December 2010 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Kyuuketsuki UK - 03 December 2010 07:16 AM

Er whut? That’s like saying Jesus is mankind’s saviour and expecting others to simply accept it ... I’m sorry but you’re really gonna have to justify that one!

Ouch! Sorry don’t think I can. I trusted some sources I guess I shouldn’t have. Thanks for calling me on it.

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Posted: 04 December 2010 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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“.

I pretty much said that though I am unsure why you put “physical” in there ... all science concerns the observable/inferable and therefore is inherently physical.

I put “physical” in there because in the vast majority of discussions with the non-religious they seem to only use the physical sciences in their examples.  This may be a personal reaction because my “scientific” interests lie in sociology, political science and cultural history.  I have been a member of this forum for a couple of years now and I think I may have been the only one that has even mentioned the work of social scientists such as Rodney Stark, Mark Noll, Richard Horsley, Karen Armstrong, etc.  Many seen to think (as many of the religious do also) that the role of religion is to describe and explain all things known to humankind.  Theology has attempted this and failed as it always will.  However theology is not religion, it is only a minor part of it.  Religion is a tool to organize society beyond the family and local community.  It is a useful tool and like all human tools that can be used for positive or negative ends.

Science, even with all its improvements in human welfare which is one of the stated goals of most regions, seems in this context to becoming a religion to many who consider themselves non-believers and they like the traditional religious are to be held responsible for the actions taken in the name of their “faith”.
IMO, traditional religions today are having great problems dealing with the current rapid change taking place in society, because they are stuck with theologies that originated in the Axial Age.  (The period when human society converted from hunter gatherer to organized agriculture which was concurrent with the change from an oral based tradition to one that was based on writing.)  New “theologies” will evolve to deal with today’s world and it is very possible that we will end up with something akin to religion where the theology is based upon the scientific method.

[ Edited: 04 December 2010 01:13 PM by garythehuman ]
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Posted: 13 December 2010 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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garythehuman - 04 December 2010 01:00 PM

“.
I put “physical” in there because in the vast majority of discussions with the non-religious they seem to only use the physical sciences in their examples.  This may be a personal reaction because my “scientific” interests lie in sociology, political science and cultural history.  I have been a member of this forum for a couple of years now and I think I may have been the only one that has even mentioned the work of social scientists such as Rodney Stark, Mark Noll, Richard Horsley, Karen Armstrong, etc.  Many seen to think (as many of the religious do also) that the role of religion is to describe and explain all things known to humankind.  Theology has attempted this and failed as it always will.  However theology is not religion, it is only a minor part of it.  Religion is a tool to organize society beyond the family and local community.  It is a useful tool and like all human tools that can be used for positive or negative ends.

Science, even with all its improvements in human welfare which is one of the stated goals of most regions, seems in this context to becoming a religion to many who consider themselves non-believers and they like the traditional religious are to be held responsible for the actions taken in the name of their “faith”.
IMO, traditional religions today are having great problems dealing with the current rapid change taking place in society, because they are stuck with theologies that originated in the Axial Age.  (The period when human society converted from hunter gatherer to organized agriculture which was concurrent with the change from an oral based tradition to one that was based on writing.)  New “theologies” will evolve to deal with today’s world and it is very possible that we will end up with something akin to religion where the theology is based upon the scientific method.

Then what would be the point of theology? Or religion for that matter? A “religion where the theology is based upon the scientific method?” That would effectively redefine my understanding of religion. Could we even label that a religion by definition?

To me, if this would ever happen, religion, as the world understands it, will evolve to the point of non-existence. (which I’m not so sure will ever happen). If one could get all of the religious community to start rigidly basing all of their beliefs on the scientific method, then there wouldn’t be any religion in the first place, right? Such a new “theology” would just be calling itself “religious” for the sake of religion, and nothing else.

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Posted: 13 December 2010 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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.

Then what would be the point of theology?

The same as philosophy, determining a set of beliefs and/or values that identify and provide a common ideology for a social organization.

Could we even label that a religion by definition?

What’s your definition of religion, in the past I have proposed several different definitions of religion and couldn’t get any agreement.  Ask around.

If one could get all of the religious community to start rigidly basing all of their beliefs on the scientific method, then there wouldn’t be any religion in the first place, right?

You are equating religion with theology, religion is much more than this.  IMO, its primary survival value is as a social organizing tool..

We all have to accept things on faith, no human has the ability to acquire all knowledge.  The best we can do is set the qualifying standards for the experts in each field that we are not expert in ourselves.  Today, at least we humans are calling these people scientists in the past they were called theologians, standards and tittles change, but we still, from necessity, have the division of labor.

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Posted: 13 December 2010 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Then what would be the point of theology?

The same as philosophy, determining a set of beliefs and/or values that identify and provide a common ideology for a social organization.

Okay, so whats the point of theology then?

What’s your definition of religion, in the past I have proposed several different definitions of religion and couldn’t get any agreement.  Ask around.

I agree. I was a committed Christian for most of my life (until 2008), and I still feel that defining religion is a slippery task. You sound like you may have some good ideas, though. Can you offer one for a point of reference here?

You are equating religion with theology, religion is much more than this.  IMO, its primary survival value is as a social organizing tool..

While I don’t think they are the same, they are, however closely linked. Perhaps I’m doing an injustice to your understanding and definition of religion and theology, but I’m still waiting for you to offer it to me (or just point me in the right direction). For now, my understanding of religion is that it deals with ones commitment and devotion to a set of non-verifiable creeds/beliefs, while theology is nothing more than philosophy about God and its implications (theos logos, or “words, thoughts, or ideas about God”). Again, I welcome your suggestions here.

We all have to accept things on faith…

I’m not as clear of a thinker as most others here, so I need your help before agreeing or disagreeing with this statement. Would you care to give me an example for further discussion?

The best we can do is set the qualifying standards for the experts in each field that we are not expert in ourselves.  Today, at least we humans are calling these people scientists in the past they were called theologians, standards and tittles change, but we still, from necessity, have the division of labor.

I got lost at this point. Are you saying that there are no differences between theologians and scientists other than titles and positions? In my opinion, there are vast differences between the two, and at one point one of them didn’t even exist.

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Posted: 13 December 2010 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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.

While I don’t think they are the same, they are, however closely linked. Perhaps I’m doing an injustice to your understanding and definition of religion and theology, but I’m still waiting for you to offer it to me (or just point me in the right direction). For now, my understanding of religion is that it deals with ones commitment and devotion to a set of non-verifiable creeds/beliefs, while theology is nothing more than philosophy about God and its implications (theos logos, or “words, thoughts, or ideas about God”). Again, I welcome your suggestions here.

I separate theology the intellectual religious traditions descriptions of the nature of gods and humans from the much more important, social organizing role that the various religions have.

An individual may subscribe to any particular religious belief and when doing so they are identifying with a particular group of humans.  This may be Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, any of the various nationalisms, etc. IMO, it is all the same sociological phenomenon and should be treated as such.

To sum up, believing in any particular religion is a badge of identity that most often depends upon your parents and of immediate community’s you grew up in, beliefs.  It can be useful or destructive depending on the circumstance.

 

I’m not as clear of a thinker as most others here, so I need your help before agreeing or disagreeing with this statement. Would you care to give me an example for further discussion?

Individual humans are unable to become truly knowledgeable in any but the most limited areas of knowledge at best.  Therefore we are required to have faith in the knowledge of specialists in fields not our own.  In the past many issues were left to the certain priests and prophets as they had the time and resources to devote to abstract thinking.  Today we have created an entire knowledge industry, but we still are not individually competent in any but very limited fields and have to accept the knowledge of experts in other fields on faith.  Our very survival often depends upon it.

We have also created mechanisms for policing these experts, one of these is the scientific method where knowledge is required to be verifiable by other experts in the physical sciences through the experimental method. (These do not work so well in the social sciences due to necessary ethical restrictions.)

Hope this helps.  Thanks for asking as it has helped me clarify my own thinking.

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Posted: 16 December 2010 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I separate theology the intellectual religious traditions descriptions of the nature of gods and humans from the much more important, social organizing role that the various religions have.

An individual may subscribe to any particular religious belief and when doing so they are identifying with a particular group of humans.  This may be Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, any of the various nationalisms, etc. IMO, it is all the same sociological phenomenon and should be treated as such.

To sum up, believing in any particular religion is a badge of identity that most often depends upon your parents and of immediate community’s you grew up in, beliefs.  It can be useful or destructive depending on the circumstance.

Thanks for the clarification, Gary. However, after taking some time to think about your posts in this thread, I must say that I find your understanding of the concept of religion to be a bit odd. It’s almost as if your stripping away most of its key elements and attempting to rebuild the concept.

While religion is surely a social phenomenon, merely focusing on its sociological features causes one to miss out on many other essential aspects of it. The ideologies that these religious groups hold are based upon the superstitious creeds and mythological traditions that their communities are centered around. Some of the most heinous and harmful actions taken by these groups have been a reflection of these beliefs systems. While it’s difficult to separate the concepts of community and cultural identity from religion, I even more strongly believe that you can’t separate religion from the claims that it often makes. If you try to do so, it ceases to be religion, and becomes something else, in my opinion.

I’m still wondering where you get the idea of humanity’s potential to one day develop a “theology based upon the scientific method”. I don’t even see how the nature of theology makes such a thing logically possible. That is, unless you define theology differently, as well?

Individual humans are unable to become truly knowledgeable in any but the most limited areas of knowledge at best.  Therefore we are required to have faith in the knowledge of specialists in fields not our own.  In the past many issues were left to the certain priests and prophets as they had the time and resources to devote to abstract thinking.  Today we have created an entire knowledge industry, but we still are not individually competent in any but very limited fields and have to accept the knowledge of experts in other fields on faith.  Our very survival often depends upon it.

We have also created mechanisms for policing these experts, one of these is the scientific method where knowledge is required to be verifiable by other experts in the physical sciences through the experimental method. (These do not work so well in the social sciences due to necessary ethical restrictions.)

There is a real difference between the knowledge of a scientist and that of a religious leader. If I wasn’t so sure of the knowledge of a particular scientist in a particular discipline, I could question his claims, and even do my own personal research to verify them. This is not because I have “acquired all knowledge”. It’s because I refuse to give this expert any more credit than he actually deserves. I am in no way forced to “have faith” in what he says. If a so-called “prophet” or “priest” comes to me and a makes some kind of claim, just because he has spent most of his life studying his own religious beliefs, I am not forced to just accept the claim “on faith”.

The difference is that the claims of the scientist are generally verifiable, while the claims of so-called prophets and priests tend to be non-verifiable. I feel that the scientist would take it as an insult if I were to lump him in the same group as someone who claims to be a prophet or priest of the “Most-High”. Scientists study reality, mainly for the progression of civilization, while priests and prophets study and memorize their own beliefs, mainly with the intention of keeping the followers following. I hope I’m not being too blunt here, but that’s the way it appears to me.

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Posted: 16 December 2010 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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The Traveler - 16 December 2010 08:42 AM

There is a real difference between the knowledge of a scientist and that of a religious leader. If I wasn’t so sure of the knowledge of a particular scientist in a particular discipline, I could question his claims, and even do my own personal research to verify them. This is not because I have “acquired all knowledge”. It’s because I refuse to give this expert any more credit than he actually deserves. I am in no way forced to “have faith” in what he says. If a so-called “prophet” or “priest” comes to me and a makes some kind of claim, just because he has spent most of his life studying his own religious beliefs, I am not forced to just accept the claim “on faith”.

The difference is that the claims of the scientist are generally verifiable, while the claims of so-called prophets and priests tend to be non-verifiable. I feel that the scientist would take it as an insult if I were to lump him in the same group as someone who claims to be a prophet or priest of the “Most-High”. Scientists study reality, mainly for the progression of civilization, while priests and prophets study and memorize their own beliefs, mainly with the intention of keeping the followers following. I hope I’m not being too blunt here, but that’s the way it appears to me.

A scientist uses the scientific method to justify their beliefs. This is probably the best method we have available to verify the accuracy of their truth. Prophets rely on visions and dreams for their truths. Priests rely on religious texts for their truths.

When a scientist makes a claim we can assume they used proper scientific procedures to verify their claim. Or if you don’t happen to trust a particular scientist you can examine their experiments and data provided.

For a Prophet there is nothing to guarantee their claims. For a Priest you you can examine their religious texts however these are just further claims made by Prophets and Religious leaders without scientific data of evidence to back up the claims. There is no provision for scientific justification of those claims.

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Posted: 16 December 2010 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Gnostikosis - 16 December 2010 11:38 AM
The Traveler - 16 December 2010 08:42 AM

There is a real difference between the knowledge of a scientist and that of a religious leader. If I wasn’t so sure of the knowledge of a particular scientist in a particular discipline, I could question his claims, and even do my own personal research to verify them. This is not because I have “acquired all knowledge”. It’s because I refuse to give this expert any more credit than he actually deserves. I am in no way forced to “have faith” in what he says. If a so-called “prophet” or “priest” comes to me and a makes some kind of claim, just because he has spent most of his life studying his own religious beliefs, I am not forced to just accept the claim “on faith”.

The difference is that the claims of the scientist are generally verifiable, while the claims of so-called prophets and priests tend to be non-verifiable. I feel that the scientist would take it as an insult if I were to lump him in the same group as someone who claims to be a prophet or priest of the “Most-High”. Scientists study reality, mainly for the progression of civilization, while priests and prophets study and memorize their own beliefs, mainly with the intention of keeping the followers following. I hope I’m not being too blunt here, but that’s the way it appears to me.

A scientist uses the scientific method to justify their beliefs. This is probably the best method we have available to verify the accuracy of their truth. Prophets rely on visions and dreams for their truths. Priests rely on religious texts for their truths.

When a scientist makes a claim we can assume they used proper scientific procedures to verify their claim. Or if you don’t happen to trust a particular scientist you can examine their experiments and data provided.

For a Prophet there is nothing to guarantee their claims. For a Priest you you can examine their religious texts however these are just further claims made by Prophets and Religious leaders without scientific data of evidence to back up the claims. There is no provision for scientific justification of those claims.

I agree.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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gary100 - 19 September 2010 08:15 AM

ADDENDUM:

When Good People Back Bad Wars
By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com
15 September 2010

Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren’t Possible Unless Good People Back Them

... before we get too far away from something we would all just like to forget, will you please allow me to just say something plain and blunt and necessary:

We invaded Iraq because most Americans - including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry - wanted to. ...

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/266-32/24-when-good-people-back-bad-wars

I certainly hope you and others see the irony in Moore’s statement, given that he’s traveled to Cuba and given them high praise.  Fidel Castro has murdered untold amounts of the nation’s own citizens, imprisoned thousands of others and oppressed gays and other non-conformists for decades.  Lots of “good people” in Moore’s book have supported people like Castro. 

Standing by, waiting to hear how X amount of Cubans are “literate” or have health care.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Traveler;

after taking some time to think about your posts in this thread, I must say that I find your understanding of the concept of religion to be a bit odd. It’s almost as if your stripping away most of its key elements and attempting to rebuild the concept.

I have been reading about religion as a social institution for several years now and the conclusion I have been coming to (at least at this point) is that the theology of any religion is a result of the particular social situation that it arises from.  When we study religion putting theology first, without looking at what caused the particular beliefs, we are going about it backwards.  People may “serve religion” but religions first and foremost serve people.  Conflicts among societies are the most usual cause of religious conflict, not the other way around.

I’m still wondering where you get the idea of humanity’s potential to one day develop a “theology based upon the scientific method”. I don’t even see how the nature of theology makes such a thing logically possible. That is, unless you define theology differently, as well?

I am only positing that as a possibility, not even a strong probability.

There is a real difference between the knowledge of a scientist and that of a religious leader.

There is today that has not always been true in the past, and may not be in the future, the role may be being transferred in our society.  (Note: I am not an academic, but the both the College I attended and the University I graduated from had many of the intellectual characteristics of a monastery.  Study what we tell you, in the order we say, or get out.  “I am the PHD and you’re not.”) 

Scientists study reality, mainly for the progression of civilization,

I can agree with that, or at least that they study physical reality.

If I wasn’t so sure of the knowledge of a particular scientist in a particular discipline, I could question his claims, and even do my own personal research to verify them.

This is where the problem comes in.  How much time do you have to do the research?  We often have to accept the conclusions of the scientists on “faith” for very practical reasons.  Modern society has addressed this limitation by inventing the scientific method, which I agree is a major advance over what existed in the past.  Therefore we can be much more confident of placing “faith” in the results of these still very human experts.

while priests and prophets study and memorize their own beliefs, mainly with the intention of keeping the followers following.

That I disagree with, they study their inherited beliefs, yes, but with the purpose of applying them to the particular part of society they belong to.  (This is where theology and tradition does start to come in, as it gives them a starting point accepted by the part of society they represent, to motivate people to take the actions the priests deem necessary.)  They know the best, if not only way to get and keep followers is to meet their needs, no matter whether this means supporting or opposing the overall direction of the general society they live in. 

I hope I’m not being too blunt here, but that’s the way it appears to me.

Don’t worry about that, we can’t have a serious discussion without presenting our viewpoints honestly, I am thoroughly enjoying this exchange, as I said before, you are making me think, Thanks.

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