Topic Review
Judgment of Solomon
The Judgment of Solomon is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which King Solomon of Israel ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a child. Solomon revealed their true feelings and relationship to the child by suggesting to cut the baby in two, with each woman to receive half. With this strategy, he was able to discern the non-mother as the woman who entirely approved of this proposal, while the actual mother begged that the sword might be sheathed and the child committed to the care of her rival. Some consider this approach to justice an archetypal example of an impartial judge displaying wisdom in making a ruling.
  • 16055
  • 24 Oct 2022
Topic Review
Timeline of Human Prehistory
This timeline of human prehistory comprises the time from the first appearance of Homo sapiens in Africa 300,000 years ago to the invention of writing and the beginning of history, 5,000 years ago. It thus covers the time from the Middle Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) to the very beginnings of world history. All dates are approximate subject to revision based on new discoveries or analyses.
  • 13872
  • 02 Nov 2022
Topic Review
Peace Be Upon Him
The Arabic phrase ʿalayhi s-salām (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), which translates as "peace be upon him" is a conventionally complimentary phrase or durood attached to the names of the prophets in Islam. The English phrase is also given the abbreviation PBUH in English-language writing. An extended variant of the phrase reads ṣallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-ʾālihī wa-sallama (Arabic: صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ), and it is often abbreviated SAW or SAWS in writing, even in English. The Arabic phrase is given the name Salawat. The phrase is encoded as a ligature at Unicode code point U+FDFA ﷺ ARABIC LIGATURE SALLALLAHOU ALAYHE WASALLAM Some Islamic scholars have voiced disagreement with the practice of abbreviating these phrases, arguing that it demonstrates laziness and a lack of respect.
  • 11829
  • 04 Nov 2022
Topic Review
Folk Dance
A folk dance is a dance developed by people that reflect the life of the people of a certain country or region. Not all ethnic dances are folk dances. For example, ritual dances or dances of ritual origin are not considered to be folk dances. Ritual dances are usually called "Religious dances" because of their purpose. The terms "ethnic" and "traditional" are used when it is required to emphasize the cultural roots of the dance. In this sense, nearly all folk dances are ethnic ones. If some dances, such as polka, cross ethnic boundaries and even cross the boundary between "folk" and "ballroom dance", ethnic differences are often considerable enough to mention.
  • 11406
  • 12 Oct 2022
Topic Review
Chronology of Jesus
A chronology of Jesus aims to establish a timeline for the events of the life of Jesus. Scholars have correlated Jewish and Greco-Roman documents and astronomical calendars with the New Testament accounts to estimate dates for the major events in Jesus's life. Two main approaches have been used to estimate the year of the birth of Jesus: one based on the accounts in the Gospels of his birth with reference to King Herod's reign, and the other by subtracting his stated age of "about 30 years" when he began preaching. Most scholars, on this basis, assume a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC. Three details have been used to estimate the year when Jesus began preaching: a mention of his age of "about 30 years" during "the fifteenth year" of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, another relating to the date of the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, and yet another concerning the death of John the Baptist. Hence, scholars estimate that Jesus began preaching and gathering followers around AD 28–29. According to the three synoptic gospels Jesus continued preaching for at least one year, and according to John the Evangelist for three years. Five methods have been used to estimate the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. One uses non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus. Another works backwards from the historically well-established trial of the Apostle Paul by the Roman proconsul Gallio in Corinth in AD 51/52 to estimate the date of Paul's conversion. Both methods result in AD 36 as an upper bound to the crucifixion. Thus, scholars generally agree that Jesus was crucified between AD 30 and AD 36. Isaac Newton's astronomical method calculates those ancient Passovers (always defined by a full moon) which are preceded by a Friday, as specified by all four Gospels; this leaves two potential crucifixion dates, 7 April AD 30 and 3 April AD 33. In the lunar eclipse method, the Apostle Peter's statement that the moon turned to blood at the crucifixion (Acts of the Apostles 2:14-21) is taken to refer to the lunar eclipse of 3 April AD 33; although astronomers are discussing whether the eclipse was visible as far west as Jerusalem. Recent astronomical research uses the contrast between the synoptic date of Jesus' last Passover on the one hand with John's date of the subsequent "Jewish Passover" on the other hand, to propose Jesus' Last Supper to have been on Wednesday, 1 April AD 33 and the crucifixion on Friday 3 April AD 33.
  • 11278
  • 09 Nov 2022
Topic Review
Ashkenazi Jewish Intelligence
Whether Ashkenazi Jews have higher average intelligence than other ethnic groups, and if so, why, has been an occasional subject of scientific controversy. Studies have generally found Ashkenazi Jews to have an average intelligence quotient (IQ) in the range of 107 to 115, and Ashkenazi Jews as a group have had successes in intellectual fields far out of proportion to their numbers. A 2005 scientific paper, "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence", proposed that Jews as a group inherit significantly higher verbal and mathematical intelligence and somewhat lower spatial intelligence than other ethnic groups, on the basis of inherited diseases and the peculiar economic situation of Ashkenazi Jews in the Middle Ages. Opposing this hypothesis are explanations for the congenital illnesses in terms of the founder effect and explanations of intellectual successes by reference to Jewish culture's promotion of scholarship and learning.
  • 10622
  • 14 Oct 2022
Topic Review
Language Acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language (in other words, gain the ability to be aware of language and to understand it), as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Language acquisition involves structures, rules and representation. The capacity to successfully use language requires one to acquire a range of tools including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and an extensive vocabulary. Language can be vocalized as in speech, or manual as in sign. Human language capacity is represented in the brain. Even though human language capacity is finite, one can say and understand an infinite number of sentences, which is based on a syntactic principle called recursion. Evidence suggests that every individual has three recursive mechanisms that allow sentences to go indeterminately. These three mechanisms are: relativization, complementation and coordination. There are two main guiding principles in first-language acquisition: speech perception always precedes speech production and the gradually evolving system by which a child learns a language is built up one step at a time, beginning with the distinction between individual phonemes. Linguists who are interested in child language acquisition for many years question how language is acquired, Lidz et al. states "The question of how these structures are acquired, then, is more properly understood as the question of how a learner takes the surface forms in the input and converts them into abstract linguistic rules and representations." Language acquisition usually refers to first-language acquisition, which studies infants' acquisition of their native language, whether that be spoken language or signed language as a result of prelingual deafness, though it can also refer to bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA), which refers to an infant's simultaneous acquisition of two native languages. This is distinguished from second-language acquisition, which deals with the acquisition (in both children and adults) of additional languages. In addition to speech, reading and writing a language with an entirely different script compounds the complexities of true foreign language literacy. Language acquisition is one of the quintessential human traits, because non-humans do not communicate by using language.
  • 10255
  • 18 Nov 2022
Topic Review
Morality and Religion
The intersections of morality and religion involve the relationship between religious views and morals. It is common for religions to have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong. These include the Triple Gems of Jainism, Islam's Sharia, Catholicism's Catechism, Buddhism's Eightfold Path, and Zoroastrianism's "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds" concept, among others. Various sources - such as holy books, oral and written traditions, and religious leaders - may outline and interpret these frameworks. Some religious systems share tenets with secular value-frameworks such as consequentialism, freethought, and utilitarianism. Religion and morality are not synonymous. Though religion may depend on morality, and even develop alongside morality, morality does not necessarily depend upon religion, despite some making "an almost automatic assumption" to this effect. According to The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other. Conceptually and in principle, morality and a religious value system are two distinct kinds of value systems or action guides." In the views of some, morality and religion can overlap. One definition sees morality as an active process which is, "at the very least, the effort to guide one's conduct by reason, that is, doing what there are the best reasons for doing, while giving equal consideration to the interests of all those affected by what one does." Value judgments can vary greatly between and within the teachings of various religions, past and present. People in some religious traditions, such as Christianity, may derive ideas of right and wrong from the rules and laws set forth in their respective authoritative guides and by their religious leaders. Divine Command Theory equates morality to adherence to authoritative commands in a holy book. Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism generally draw from some of the broadest canons of religious works. Researchers have shown interest in the relationship between religion and crime and other behavior that does not adhere to contemporary laws and social norms in various countries. Studies conducted in recent years have explored these relationships, but the results have been mixed and sometimes contradictory. The ability of religious faiths to provide useful and consistent value frameworks remains a matter of some debate. Some religious commentators have asserted that one cannot lead a moral life without an absolute lawgiver as a guide. Other observers assert that moral behavior does not rely on religious tenets, and/or that moral guidelines vary over time and space rather than remain absolute, and secular commentators (such as Christopher Hitchens) point to ethical challenges within various religions that conflict with contemporary social norms.
  • 9377
  • 28 Sep 2022
Topic Review
Quetzalcoatl (/ˌkɛtsɑːlkoʊˈɑːtəl/; Spanish: [ket͡salˈkoatʊl] (listen); Template:Lang-nci-IPA, in honorific form: Quetzalcohuātzin, modern Nahuatl pronunciation (help·info)) is a deity in Mesoamerican culture and literature whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "feathered serpent" or "Quetzal-feathered Serpent". The earliest known documentation of the worship of a Feathered Serpent occurs in Teotihuacan in the first century BC or first century AD. That period lies within the Late Preclassic to Early Classic period (400 BC – 600 AD) of Mesoamerican chronology; veneration of the figure appears to have spread throughout Mesoamerica by the Late Classic period (600–900 AD). In the Postclassic period (900–1519 AD), the worship of the feathered-serpent deity centred in the primary Mexican religious center of Cholula. In this period the deity is known to have been named "Quetzalcoatl" by his Nahua followers. In the Maya area he was approximately equivalent to Kukulkan and Gukumatz, names that also roughly translate as "feathered serpent" in different Mayan languages. Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning, wears around his neck the "wind breastplate" ehecailacocozcatl, "the spirally voluted wind jewel" made of a conch shell. This talisman was a conch shell cut at the cross-section and was likely worn as a necklace by religious rulers, as such objects have been discovered in burials in archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica, and potentially symbolized patterns witnessed in hurricanes, dust devils, seashells, and whirlpools, which were elemental forces that had significance in Aztec mythology. Codex drawings pictured both Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl wearing an ehecailacocozcatl around the neck. Additionally, at least one major cache of offerings includes knives and idols adorned with the symbols of more than one god, some of which were adorned with wind jewels. In the era following the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, a number of records conflated Quetzalcoatl with Ce Acatl Topiltzin, a ruler of the mythico-historic city of Tollan. Historians debate to what degree, or whether at all, these narratives about this legendary Toltec ruler describe historical events. Furthermore, early Spanish sources written by clerics tend to identify the god-ruler Quetzalcoatl of these narratives with either Hernán Cortés or Thomas the Apostle— identifications which have also become sources of a diversity of opinions about the nature of Quetzalcoatl. Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are the best-documented in the historical sources, Quetzalcoatl was related to gods of the wind, of the planet Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon, along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. Two other gods represented by the planet Venus are Quetzalcoatl's ally Tlaloc (the god of rain), and Quetzalcoatl's twin and psychopomp, Xolotl. Animals thought to represent Quetzalcoatl include resplendent quetzals, rattlesnakes (coatl meaning "serpent" in Nahuatl), crows, and macaws. In his form as Ehecatl he is the wind, and is represented by spider monkeys, ducks, and the wind itself. In his form as the morning star, Venus, he is also depicted as a harpy eagle. In Mazatec legends the astrologer deity Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, who is also represented by Venus, bears a close relationship with Quetzalcoatl.
  • 9095
  • 11 Oct 2022
Topic Review
List of Topics Characterized as Pseudoscience
This is a list of topics that have, either currently or in the past, been characterized as pseudoscience by academics or researchers. Detailed discussion of these topics may be found on their main pages. These characterizations were made in the context of educating the public about questionable or potentially fraudulent or dangerous claims and practices—efforts to define the nature of science, or humorous parodies of poor scientific reasoning. Criticism of pseudoscience, generally by the scientific community or skeptical organizations, involves critiques of the logical, methodological, or rhetorical bases of the topic in question. Though some of the listed topics continue to be investigated scientifically, others were only subject to scientific research in the past and today are considered refuted, but resurrected in a pseudoscientific fashion. Other ideas presented here are entirely non-scientific, but have in one way or another impinged on scientific domains or practices. Many adherents or practitioners of the topics listed here dispute their characterization as pseudoscience. Each section here summarizes the alleged pseudoscientific aspects of that topic.
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  • 14 Oct 2022
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