Thursday, December 31, 2009

My entire childhood was a lie. What other mysteries of the universe did I miss.

My goodness.








It's true! You really can put up a fight. You really can fight the power. It's not inevitable, it's quite evitable. Perhaps Ray Kurtzweil isn't insane when he says we should live long enough to live forever. My entire view of the world has changed. Reality bends to my will. There is no spoon.

F.

Faith doesn't answer questions.

Very true. Faith is the only option concerning things beyond our current grasp. :)

Very false. Science is the only option concerning things beyond our current grasp.

Make no mistake about this point. Things that have previously been beyond our grasp but are now within our grasp have, without fail or exception, been grasped by science. Every single thing we previously didn't understand and now do understand have come into the folds of our understanding through science.

Never once in the history of the world, in the entirety of things known and unknown, has faith every solved any problem or answered any question great or small sans evidence.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fractals, trees, and palms --- oh my!


Fractals are a great and important insight that is often the way real life maps into mathematics. We owe Mandelbrot deeply for his insight into this realm of mathematics. They really are a fascinating subject and the intersection with natural and self-similar design structure within evolved solutions to real problem are quite important and impressive.







Much of my love for fractals in nature is sort of tweaked by the bits of nature that doesn't use it. Palm trees aren't fractal. The fronds aren't fractal and neither is the trunk. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but there's no part of the tree that looks anything like the entire tree or any other part. I know nature does what works, and palm trees are a very successful species and fractals work in some cases but are not necessary by any stretch. Watching the trees riding in a car, and viewing the self similarities of branch to tree to forest was a somewhat enjoyable way of passing the time. Then I looked at a palm tree and was stopped dead in my tracks. That's not a damned fractal! So annoying.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When life gives you lemons...

"... make lemonade."

Somebody doesn't know the recipe for lemonade. It's equal parts lemon juice and sugar, water to taste. The saying also requires that life gives you sugar in equal proportion to how many lemons you've been given. In which case, it's simply being pessimistic. "When life gives you sugar, make lemonade." Somehow that doesn't sound as deep and symbolic. It sounds like one of many uses for sugar. The reverse claim that life has given you lemons and you mysteriously pull equal amounts of sugar from thin air, is supposed to be somehow deep?

When life gives you lemons, make lemon meringue pie!
When life gives you lemons, make lemon peel candy!
When life gives you lemons, use them as a garnish for alcoholic beverages.

And since we're pulling magical allegorically good ingredients out of thin air, why not just ignore the premise.

When life gives you lemons, eat sugar.
When life gives you lemons, make yourself a sandwich.
When life gives you lemons, listen to people tell you stupid things that they haven't spent very long paying any attention to or they would realize that the premise of being "given lemons" and the obvious sweet flavor and recipe of lemonade requires a magical step of phantasmagorical sugar.


When life gives you lemons... learn to juggle.

It's certainly something you can do with just lemons, I know, I learned to juggle with lemons. And it's certainly something people who have been given proverbial lemons learn to do well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nice. Carnival of the Godless 131...

CotG 131: (it mentions me): http://gaytheists.org/?p=821 -- The A in "gay" is fabulous for emphasis (the link seems like a theist site otherwise). For my rather clever work: A modicum of thought. A parable of cards. A look at pascals wager, logic, epistemology, and accepting what you want to be true over what is actually true.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Somebody from the internet actually kinda pissed me off.

That's rare. Usually I look the various people I converse with a sort of distant amusement. I can crush their arguments with absolute ease and wax poetically about fairly obscure notions that necessarily reveal their rather critical mistakes. But, I'm always cool and calm. But, this one actually pissed me off.

In a long exchange involving several points, I noted that minds are sloppy and therefore can make mistakes and often do. He advocated that perhaps that means evolution is false. I pointed out how scientific theories that explain a great amount of evidence are a bit better than guesses and because of the scientific method are of a different quality. The next topic we had discussed was a claim he made that the Discovery Channel was now claiming that the new scientific evidence said the Earth was 7-8 billion years old. I pointed out that the Earth is certainly 4.5 billion years old and that perhaps he misheard and they were talking about the galactic core and did he have a reference for this claim. Then, I was given this chestnut:

Someone else told me the Discovery Channel said that, so I’ll concede that one. Sorry.

That pisses me off. ARG! You... ARG!

I replied:

FFS. Seriously, how much less false crap would you accept as true if you didn't accept second and third hand anecdotal evidence about silly things? I daresay you might not suggest that groggy figments of your imagination and second hand innuendo trumps 150 years of well verified scientific data confirmed by fossil, genetic, morphological, developmental, paleontological, and embryological evidence by a massive collection of some of the worlds greatest scientists if you had a modicum of intellectual honesty or personal reflection. And as a secondary (but personally relevant) effect, I wouldn't want to flay all the skin, tendons, and muscles off my hands right now for their inability to reach through the monitor and punch you.

Witnesses to the Creation.

I guess perhaps the Onion hasn't lost all of it's ability to entertain.

Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.

...

Richard Carrier on Jesus











Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some crackpot sent me a book. Pro-evo'ly.

Yeah, free book from a crackpot. A dead crackpot at that. Tomotom Stifung apparently wants to enlighten me on "pro-evo" thinking and help me to adjust my life towards the cosmic evolution of universe.

http://www.amazon.com/Pro-Evolution-Guideline-Age-Joy/dp/3952251909

He's apparently atheistic and all newagey and denies actual biological evolution because it's "against all odds". This cosmic evolution cannot be the chance evolution of biology, because if it were, then everywhere in the universe would have different laws and forms. However, since everywhere seems to have similar universal laws of physics as Earth, it must be the case that there is universal evolution to the universe. I mean, if biological evolution were possible, then mathematics constants like phi (the golden ratio) wouldn't be the same everywhere.

From this he supposes there are ways to act in favor of this universal force and against this universal force. And acting against it is evil and in favor of it will cause joy. Then he lays out a mediocre worldview couching his agnosticism in terms of pro-evo and his opposition to abortion except to control population, protect the life of the mother. Or that the point of parenting is to raise kids to act in a pro-evo fashion. Or to law, only pro-evo things are the standard for law and its interpretation. Or women, who should in the future be treated equally and should act in a pro-evo manner and support men when they act in a pro-evo manner.

He also gives a great commandment "Steadfastly think and act pro-evo: establish pro-evo goals, tasks and modes of behavior for all areas and in every situation of life - and energetically realize them."

All in all, this book is the the intellectual equivalent of "buy low and sell high, because that's what the universe wants." It might sound good in places but it's entirely pointless and other than defining "pro-evo" as that which furthers your own evolution. We can see what these things are by judging the absolute moral standard. Things are pro-evo and in tune with the other forms if they are "right, good, sensible, and valuable." As if what is right or good or sensible or of value aren't entirely dependent on your sense of rightness, goodness, sensibility, or values. "Do what's right, the universe wants you to, and it will make you happy." So in the future we'll stop dying and AI will come around to save humanity, and it doesn't matter about God so long as you keep doing what is pro-evo.

This great "advice" is absolutely pointless as it is dependent on itself. It's akin to saying "buy low, sell high". Sure, if you did buy low and sell high, you'd make a lot of money. But how can you really figure out what is low and what is high? You can't tell at the time whether this point is the low point or if this point is the high point. You may buy the stock before the floor fell out or sell at the point before the stock skyrockets. You don't know. And without a valid method to actually derive morality this little book is a bunch of pointless nonsense wrapped in the bitter patina of evolution denial, misunderstanding, and new aged nonsense.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ayn Rand was a total crackpot.

In case anybody didn't know that...

http://www.slate.com/?id=2233966

In her 70s Rand found herself dying of lung cancer, after insisting that her followers smoke because it symbolized "man's victory over fire" and the studies showing it caused lung cancer were Communist propaganda. By then she had driven almost everyone away.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You can't prove that! You have no evidence.

Church burned, paster has good words for arsenists: I hope God kills them.



He almost had it too. I love the good news is that people took the gifts home to wrap. That makes everything better. Lol.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robert Ingersoll: The damp and dropping dungeons.

I keep using this quote and I keep having to look it up over and over again. Ingersoll is so brilliant that I'm often forced to quote and genuflect from afar. But, for the sake of convenience I check my blog for things that I want to look up. Even if nobody reads the blog, I still use it as a quick reference guide to all the awesomeness I've encountered.

Is it nothing to free the mind? Is it nothing to civilize mankind? Is it nothing to fill the world with light, with discovery, with science? Is it nothing to dignify man and exalt the intellect? Is it nothing to grope your way into the dreary prisons, the damp and dropping dungeons, the dark and silent cells of superstition, where the souls of men are chained to floors of stone; to greet them like a ray of light, like the song of a bird, the murmur of a stream; to see the dull eyes open and grow slowly bright; to feel yourself grasped by the shrunken and unused hands, and hear yourself thanked by a strange and hollow voice?
Is it nothing to conduct these souls gradually into the blessed light of day -- to let them see again the happy fields, the sweet, green earth, and hear the everlasting music of the waves? Is it nothing to make men wipe the dust from their swollen knees, the tears from their blanched and furrowed cheeks? Is it a small thing to reave the heavens of an insatiate monster and write upon the eternal dome, glittering with stars, the grand word -- FREEDOM?

Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine, http://www.thomaspaine.org/bio/ingersoll1870.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Damn spammers. Brief hopes that somebody loves me...

... dashed by enlarged penises and weight loss creams.

The Evolution of Candy.

In one more vain attempt to get people to understand evolution:

Imagine you have a bowl of candy and every day one a few pieces of candy from the bowl duplicate. Now if people ate candy out of this bowl and after a while what would happen? Well, interestingly it depends on the candy people prefer, if you really like skittles but you hate granola bars, then you'll eat the skittles and avoid the granola bar. As a consequence of this "predation" the skittles would be less likely to be that candy to duplicate as there would be fewer skittles in the bowl. Also the granola bars would be eaten far less often and as a consequence of nobody really liking them would become the dominate "population" in the candy bowl. If you ate the best candy, you'd end up with a population overwhelmingly made up of the least editable candy. If you "culled the herd" and ate only the worst candy in order to make sure the population of candy would all be of very good tasting candy, you'd be engaging in artificial selection. This is how we have giant cows and sheep with lots of fluffy wool. We have only allowed the best individuals to breed and the most wanted individuals to propagate and allowed the least desirable animals to die off without "duplicating" (reproduction).

Now, imagine if rather than a pure duplication you have a imperfect duplication only slightly though. You might end up with a slightly larger or smaller candy bar, you might end up with more nuts or fewer nuts, you might have a larger bag of skittles or smaller bag. You might have more green skittles than blue skittles. And these subtle mutations could occur every once in a while. Even if the most common one was a bit of a wonky candy bar or a messed up M&M. Then what would happen if you ate the ones you liked?

Not only would you end up with your least favorite candy you might end up with the smallest candy that looked ugly or reminded you puke or if you were inclined to eat many because they were small, you might end up with the candy getting large in order to sate your appetite with one sacrifice rather than enduring the death of several individuals. If you were to breed the candy for your liking. You could end up with bags filled with a single giant bright green skittle to the point that they don't even look much like skittles anymore. You could bread a second population of millions of tiny red skittles over the course of a long period of time. And while bags of tiny red skittles and giant green could seem like completely different candy, they would have descended from a common ancestor.

At what point are such things evolving? Make no mistake, this hypothetical candy bowl is evolving. Is it when you "naturally select" the candy? Is it when they duplicate? It's the entire process. In humans there are more subtle ways of changing and differences and rather than you eating candy we are faced with the prospect of the uncaring reality of organisms in the struggle for existence dying of disease, famine, and being devoured. But, like the candy, whatever is best suited towards survival is the most likely to survive and pass it's genes off to the next generation.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hm, we might be in trouble...

The Earth would fall down to the earth if it was on earth.
Mars doesn't have life but it would be possible, so why haven't we found it.
Chris Angel uses jin (genie) to help make his magic.
... this is about where I stopped watching. It was too disruptive to my denialism about God.






Sunday, December 6, 2009

A modicum of thought. A parable of cards.

Imagine you are a member of a group of about ten people and everybody is given a card which is placed on their head so that they can see the card. These cards are going to have at most one black card and all the rest of the cards are white. The object of the game is to find the black card. When you do, you will be given a trillion dollars. If you choose the wrong card, you're out one dollar. If it's your card, you need to wait until the attending people return.

Now, everybody is been given their card. The big reveal! Everybody sits looking around the room, at everybody else's cards. You notice that everybody else's card is white. So then your card must be the black card! What luck! You barely give up anything if you guess wrong and if you guess right you get a trillion dollars. And you can rule out everybody else's card so, aren't you that much more likely to be correct? I mean they can't rule out the card on their head but you can! Why aren't they choosing your black card then? Shouldn't it be obvious that you're is the correct card? Shouldn't they have chosen by now? Isn't the fact nobody is choosing your card evidence that your card isn't the correct card? Why should it be your card, I mean it's not like you chose it, it was chosen for you. You ponder these doubts for a while, shoving them down each time they rear their head. It's a trillion dollars after all!

Isn't there at least a one in a trillion shot chance that everybody else at the table is blind and can't see a black card plain as day? Then aren't you losing nothing by choosing your own card. I mean, if you chose correctly you get a trillion dollars and if you choose wrongly, you'll have to clock out five minutes later when you go to work next Sunday. I mean, you've got everything to gain and nothing to lose.

One person at the table starts shouting: "None of the cards are black. You would have chosen by now. If somebody had the right card, everybody else would have thrown their cards to the ground by now. We've been sitting at this table for millennium!"

"What a blind moron!", you think to yourself. He doesn't see your card is clearly black.

Another person at the table chimes in, "You're wrong sir, my card is clearly black. I know that it must be the black card because all of your cards are white."

You can see his card is white, but you've liked what he's said to this presumptuous rabblerouser.

"Here-Here!" another man shouts.

"You can't see the black card unless you have the black card!" shouts a third man.

A Hah! That's clearly the case. That explains everything! That's why these people can't see your card is black! You can taste that money now. You didn't hear that as a rule, but it would explain the situation perfectly. I mean, what's the purpose of all of this if none of the cards are black? Wouldn't it be terrible if nobody got the trillion dollars!

Why is this brash, rude, arrogant man doing attacking you. You don't have to take this, you're a flipping trillionaire. Mentally you already have this money spent. This jackass wants to steal your constellation of castles, your bevy of beauties, your silo of gems. This wicked, evil, know-it-all wants to remove from the mouths of the hungry the charitable donations you'll make, he wants people to suffer the diseases you'd cure with that funding, he wants you poor and miserable. He wants to take away your hope. He want's to deprive you of your purpose.

Why is he maligning you in such a terrible way? Why doesn't he see that your card is the correct one and just collect the money? Does he hate your card or the money? Did somebody hurt him? Doesn't he know you can't see the card unless you have the card? What a deluded fool! These other men, though, they have white cards are ripping into this fool for being such a deluded brute who knows nothing of the secret rules of the game... good on them! They maybe wrong and will probably end up without any money if they don't choose your card soon, but they at least know how to put such an intolerant know-it-all in his place.

"Why would you get a trillion dollars for picking a card?", the inept blowhard asks quizzically? "What evidence do we have that there's any money at all!" "Where's the evidence? I mean we're in a pretty run down building, is this the kind of place people have when they trillion dollars laying around?"

"Shut-up", a young woman shouts! "Clearly they saved a lot of money in order to have the trillion dollars to give us, they love us that much."

"Yeah!", the rest agree.

The arrogant man, finally gives up, he throws his white card to the ground and leaves to room to go home and spend time with his family. What a fool, he was a few feet from a trillion dollars. The fool says in his heart, there's no black card. What an idiot!

When you finally get to see your card, what color do you think it'll be? Should you choose your card? I mean it is a trillion dollars after all!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Firefly Redemption



I had managed to play the first section with the shiny firefly-speak, but then due to sluggishness it wanted to buffer, so I paused it and went to check something in another room so it could buffer. When I got back, my sister was in my room staring very very intently at the screen. And to be fair, it made me feel a bit giddy to watch it, and embarrassed by the geekiness of the whole thing. It would be like the difference between watching a scifi epic like Avatar or watching it in costume (I'm uncommitted about Avatar, it might suck and just have some good hype). Giddy over a movie = geeky. Giddy over a b made for fans non-profit movie = geeky while in costume.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gloss by David McCord

Concerning the missing positives.

Gloss

I know a little man both ept and ert.
An intro-? extro-? No, he's just a vert.
Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane,
His image trudes upon the ceptive brain.

When life turns sipid and the mind is traught,
The spirit soars as I would sist it ought.
Chalantly then, like any gainly goof,
My digent self is sertive, choate, loof.

The Oxford Book of American Light Verse
David McCord (1897-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reality, belief, and evidence.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. When you believe that elves cause it to rain, each time it rains, you'll see evidence of elves. If you believe that rain is caused by condensation of water vapor in rain clouds, each time it rains, you'll see evidence of condensation of water vapor in rain clouds. The thing is, when you stop believing in elves, you'll stop seeing evidence of elves. And when you stop believing in condensation of water vapor in rain clouds, you will still see condensation of water vapor in rain clouds.

That is why belief as a prerequisite of seeing evidence for something is obviously suspect.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Belief in Belief.

Often times the right to believe crowd is heavily atheistic and some of the loudest voices against criticism are those of atheists. I've rarely encountered such examples but... seriously wow.

You have no place to tell me that my beliefs are wrong. I am not religious. I do not believe in god. However, I do believe that if someone wants to believe in god, then that's up to them. You can't tell people what to believe. Let me rephrase that since you obviously aren't understanding what I am trying to say. You shouldn't tell people what to believe. People will think what they want, they will believe what they want. Being arrogant won't change that.

To which I replied:

Your beliefs are wrong. You think that my right to criticize denies another persons right to religion. That's silly and wrong. I'm not telling people what to believe. I'm pointing out that their beliefs are wrong. Whether they want to continue believing in something that causes sexism, homophobia, slavery, murder, genocide, and xenophobia is up to them, but I have the right to point this out to them at every turn. People will believe what they want, but when they believe evil crap that makes the world a worse place, they will be forced to do so over my cackles and rebukes.

It's times like these I'm glad I bookmarked Kazim's Korner's post on mockery.
http://kazimskorner.blogspot.com/2005/12/mockery.html

Well worth a read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You should stock up on leprechauns.

That way the gold is covered for you.



Wow, I knew he was crazy but seriously... wow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hm, this seems wrong somehow...


I don't think peer guardian should do that somehow. Maybe it's just me. You might want to have a closer look if you don't see it right away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skeptism and causes.

(On the topic of the Bermuda Triangle, "There's no statistical aberration and no need to speculate a mechanism to explain it. No more ships vanish there than any other equally sized body of water.")

Incredulous: So are we to embrace the whole "coincidence" ideology? Hundreds of reported cases of disappearing aircraft and surface vessels in a specific area, and the only reason why is that there is no reason why; someone just drew a triangle on a map...Everything upon everything is based on chance? Wouldn't that rule out the whole "cause and effect" thing?



No. It's not a coincidence either, it's not anything. There's no there there. It is no more likely that your plane or ship will go missing in that expanse of water than in any other expanse of water. The odds are the same. There's no phenomenon.

Let's say I draw an arbitrary triangle. Let's say between Hawaii, Alaska, and California. Now how many ships have gone missing in this region? Lots. In fact, it's going to still be the average number which is what the Bermuda triangle has. So is this mysterious? What's causing these disappearances? What has caused hundreds of reported cases of disappearing aircraft and surface vessels? Is it Atlantian power crystals, vortexes, or aliens? Perhaps it's the spirit realm. Amelia Earhart vanished while trying to fly the Triangle (that I just made up) and go from Hawaii to California. Very spooky!

It's not chance, but there is a random background noise of probability, and events will occur. If for some reason nobody vanished in the triangle I outlined there'd be need to explain that. But, as all reports are that the same number of people vanished as should be expected by sheer chance. I'm sure something could be said to have "caused" these events (mostly crashing and sinking) but there's not necessarily and overarching cause and as there's no statistical aberration there's nothing to fucking explain!

Sometimes things have coherent causes, sometimes they don't, sometimes the causes. Sometimes there are causes for the causes and sometimes there's no cause for it at all. Why did the Yankees win the world series? There's no one answer. It's a large list of varying reasons (one would presume, I had to google who won). Or we could have a long series of various causes: why isn't grandma here? Because she's at the hospital. Why is she at the hospital? Because she fell and broke her hip? Why did she break her hip? Because she fell? Why did she fall? Because gravity works and because she was standing on ice? Why was she standing on ice? Because she needed to find a shovel and slipped. Why did she slip? Because ice is slippery. Why is ice slippery? Because pressure causes a very thin layer of water directly where the pressure is applied to liquefy and act as a lubricant. Why is that a lubricant? Because it reduces static friction by filling in the rough edges while not adding extra friction. Why does the ice liquefy under pressure? Because ice expands as it freezes, and putting pressure on it causes the process to reverse. Why does ice expand as it freezes? Because the solid form of water forms crystals of hexagons that trap empty space between then in manners which liquid water avoids. Why does it form crystals? Because the shape of the water molecule and angle of the hydrogen and oxygen makes the crystallized state more stable as the amount of heat decreases. And so on and so on and so on...

And sometimes we encounter things like why did the radioactive isotope decay? And there's simply no answer at all because it's a causeless quantum effect.

The point is, there are coincidences. They really do happen. And the start to scientific inquiry isn't accepting a phenomenon at face value and starting to evaluate foolhardy speculation but actually measuring and seeing if there is actually a phenomenon that is above statistical expectation. How many people should we expect to report seeing strange things in the sky, a lot. How many people should we expect to report being abducted by aliens or molested by demons or assaulted by spirit figures? Plenty. Is there a reason for this? There are some. Sometimes there really was an object there, sometimes it was balloons or flares or clouds at night. Sometimes they were just seeing crap.

What causes alien abduction phenomenon? Probably the same thing that caused demon abuse phenomenon in the middle ages. Most of the descriptions are similar to reports of sleep paralysis. Many more are vivid after visiting a sympathetic hypnotherapist, are these recovered memories? Well, hypnotherapy has shown only one tangible effect of making people believe the stuff they confabulate while under hypnosis. We went through a stage of repressed childhood abuse by hypnotherapists and it was finally ended when a few high profile cases had people categorically prove their innocents and the "victims" sued the therapists and recovered massive injuries. And the entire phenomenon of repressed memories is completely discredited.

So are there causes, sometimes, sometimes not. Are there things we should look into, sometimes, sometimes not. But, what if even one of the millions of reports is true? -- Well that would be quite fantastic but so long as there's no demonstrative evidence behind it or reproducible phenomenon there's no point. We don't jump to evaluation of mechanisms without first figuring out if there is some phenomenon that needs a mechanism to explain it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spork in the Eye: Round 2.

Spork replied inline to my comment on his blog post on his blog. I'll do the same but post here as well. As there's no new post on his side outside of complements on my photostream which certainly does roxxor, massive tip of the hat to the clever folks at A/A.

* Spork claims in a comment on my previous blog on this topic that the government couldn't do it better because insurance companies only make about 3% profit. This somehow reminds me of a large graphic put out by the oil industry that showed that 100% of the dollar spent on gas went to various different places and oddly none of it was profit.



The problem here is that it's simply false. Medicare, the US's current socialized medicine engine, has about a 5% overhead and private insurance has a 17% overhead (though the numbers are really closer to 3% and 30% let's just run with these numbers), that means that certainly if you weren't paying massive salaries to the top industry brass (that's an expense and doesn't count as profit) they could cut the prices rather dramatically. There's a lot more overhead due to inefficiency in the system and lack of good organization, massive departments dealing with the departments of the various other companies in order to get through different forms to get the money, because of non-single payer situations. There's none of these billing issues or any such things with the fire department. They just go where they are needed and put out the fire. Just as healthcare should fix the health problems that arise with various individuals.


Warning, addressing the point Spork bothered with is long and very involved. For your own sake you'd be better off taking the fact that he's deluded on the profits insurance companies make as the entire reply because to answer the rest of his question requires a tearing down of libertarianism and a building up of morality and to an extension socialism.

Spork continues by advocating that he's so stubborn and pigheaded that you could argue with him back and forth dozens of times and he'd never see the light (I'm paraphrasing here), and so he decides to focus on just the point of the constitution and individual rights. I suddenly smell a Rand whore argument brewing. What's next people should fix their own roads and watch establish various anarchy teams of people who go around with goop and trowels out of necessity to not have their roads completely disintegrate while other people benefit and they get nothing for their services.

This is the core of his argument. His philosophy of libertarianism and opposition to socialism as an undemonstrated group good in exchange for a real and tangible set of personal freedoms. The dismantling of libertarianism and establishment of morality or socialism is going to take a little bit to address.

How things work.

Morality, economies, and governments don't work like that. You really need to have collective rules in place to restrict the powers of businesses from ruining the lives of people. Such things are Economic Darwinism and the invisible hand of the market is the same as the blind watchmaker of evolution. Much as the hand of the market tends towards making monopolies and collusive business practices not everything in nature is benign. To the contrary, most everything in nature is a parasite living off the work of others and doing very little itself. In nature the sun provides energy and plants absorb this energy and everything lives off the plants. In a way Rand's philosophy understands this and treats the genius people who read her book as the intellectual producers who are only not rich solely because the government is around leeching off the brilliance of these intellectual producers like leeching leechers to support those who are weak and cannot support themselves.

This is critically wrong in a variety of ways, not limited to the fact that the real intellectual producers of our economies are scientists making chump change. But, in a larger sense it seems to reject the the real core of what makes humanity excel. It rejects the cooperation of humanity to advocate that the best result are found in a battle for the fittest, no holds barred fight to the death. This is wrong.

In reality, we should seek for economy what the advent of morality did for humanity. We should seek to cooperate more, in social groups and domesticate the markets. Just as we're better off as a group making roads and fire stations and police because these are things that everybody needs and they can't be coherent and functional without central authority we should seek to place the health of humans outside the purview of profit businesses. We should seek to make those sections of our life, on which everybody need rely, akin to farms or hydroponic greenhouses, restricting pests and parasites and engineering the systems to provide the most bang for our buck rather than the most buck.

It is in the best interests of all people to go along with the group. Much like morality allows us to coexist in functional groups by restricting individual rights sometimes by force and preventing crime and deviation away from certain set norms. The same applies to fire departments, roads, and yes, healthcare. The fact that I seem to be drifting towards is that it socialism is an extension of morality. Which is to say that socialism is in the best interests of people, that collectively, as a group, we can make everybody more wealthy and more prosperous than we could as individuals. Just as in a group we make everybody safer and healthier when we surrender our personal rights to kill other people and steal their things.

Anarchy/Libertarianism/Objectivism

Ultimately the libertarian section of the argument boils down the the tangible difference between living in a moral society where we simply refuse to kill each other, enslave each other, or steal each other things and we are thusly endowed by ourselves the inalienable (though easy to alienate) rights of life, liberty, and property as a consequence of surrendering our rights to murder, enslave, and steal.

The difference between a moral anarchy where everybody is out for themselves but not harming others and anything else is the single difference of taxes. The moment you decide that levying taxes to protect yourselves as a group, to defend yourself as a group, both physical and economically. The moment you decide to build roads, build schools, build firehouses, build hospitals, fund science, put shows on PBS, or settle disputes between people you've moved away from the ideal anarchy and established government. But, make no mistake, without these infrastructure concerns there is no enforcement outside of the casual approximation this shares with mob rule (which one could argue is still socialized enforcement). And when prosperity dwindles the moral precepts which allow for life, liberty and property breakdown and people turn to "crimes" (of readopting rights to murder, enslave, and steal that they previous surrendered) as their personal interests are better served outside of group mores. I do not believe that anarchism in this fashion because mob-like quasi-governments would form and spontaneous groups of individuals who could in some cases go beat a rapist to death couldn't successfully defend the anarchy against larger breaches of economic and social power. I have long maintained that far left anarchists and far right neo-conservatives have the same goals but completely different understandings of the consequences of achieving those goals.

Government Utopia

With government everything changes, and everything can easily be made significantly better if it's done correctly. One can socialize industries on which everybody depends, saving the group as a whole, a significant amount of money, we can promote science which is and always has been the fuel that runs our economy. We can establish schools to give children the benefit of an education. We can regulate the markets so we do not suffer monopolies or trusts. We can endeavor as a people to be a better people. We can progress forward just as we progressed forward when we gave up our rights to murder, enslave, and steal. To work not simply with our own shortsighted goals in mind but the best interests of the group and the individual. And while we must allow for a specter of force by the government, and corruption of a government by the people, we are all easily better off for it. And while one may think that without morality we should go around killing and murdering people because we'd be out for our own selfish interests the opposite is true within group dynamics. We must seek to cooperate with others and not kill or murder people, but also as a group restrict the powers of others to kill or murder.

Ultimately we cooperate as groups for our own benefits, and this implies forming governments to restrict the rights of others. Just as we restrict the rights of people to murder others, we should restrict the rights of people to profit from the illnesses of their fellow man.

The group good is neither unseeable nor unprovable. In fact, it's quite demonstrative. We can see the benefits such restrictions in places where profiting from illness and death is unacceptable. And see that all the metrics of quality of life are improved and with 44,000 deaths from lack of medical care, it's pretty easy to see that there's certainly room for improvement. That there's definite advantages for non-profit government run monopolies. Though to be fair, the advantage is from non-profit monopolies and you don't really need the government to run it.

Purpose of the Constitution

The constitution was more oppressive than the Articles of Confederation and gave greater central authority to the government which, in turn, had more powers. The Bill of rights were added to restrict the power of the government in very specific ways. The fact is the Constitution was written to give more central authority because decentralized authority was a complete failure. The opposition shouldn't be against government power but corruption, inefficiency, lack of accountability, failure, and intrusion on public rights. We shouldn't oppose universal single-payer healthcare, we should oppose the war on drugs and the fact that as a people we can't do away with that unneeded largess or legalize marijuana or somehow have citizens have veto powers on the rights of marriage of certain individuals. There are problems with government, with this there is no disagreement, however those problems aren't with socialized programs like, schools, healthcare, or fire departments but rather more tangible problems like corruption, inefficiency, and failures.

And bringing it back to the actual argument.

As for the original point, yes fire departments are very much the same as medicare.

There's a sucker born every minute, I wish!

134,000,000 people were born in 2007 there are 525,600 (24*60*356) minutes a year so 254.946728 or closer to 255 born every minute. That'd mean that less than one half of 1% of people were suckers. I wish. 99.96% of skeptics in the world would be enough herd immunity to save the suckers who are born from themselves.

Fired for Faith?






Woman: I'm getting married. My girlfriend and I am getting married! I'm getting married! I'm engaged!
Man: The gay is evil.
Woman: LOL!!!

*FIRED*

Man: They fired me for being Christian!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ingersoll, The Gods, The Devil...

Fire department analogy, a response. Spork in the Eye.

I have a few actual readers and commentators and I check out some of their blogs (they have the good taste to check out mine, so do you for that matter). And well Spork In the Eye had an interesting blog post as to how socialized medicine would be nothing like a socialized fire department but rather more akin to socialized fire insurance (which by the way exists in many areas along with socialized flood insurance and others, but lets ignore that). Since burying a long reply on a distant forum for a post made about half a month ago is a bit off... let me repeat the point here. First it'll give you something to read. Second if Spork cares to reply and I don't happen to make it back to his board there's one here.

-------

Real Universal Health Care IS like the fire department.

Insurance shouldn't enter into the picture and is only there because of a lack of actual fortitude and actual political will to make the system into what the system should be, a real universal health care system. Where the government pays hospitals and doctors for services rendered and there's no payment without services.

Insurance is a business model whereby we mitigate risks (in theory) and pay for services as such. There are actual insurance plans which cover you in the case of illness to get you back to where you were. If you become ill they pay you for lost wages and make sure you don't get hurt. Much like fire insurance will pay for your lost stuff when your house burns down. -- The fire department in this situation really is like real universal health care.

The difference is largely like the fire department before socialization. It was previously the case that fire brigades would put out fires and charge the person helped or loot their property and such. Insurance companies would pay the brigade that put out the fire for those properties with insurance. The system was haphazard and lead to large losses in property rather than a centralized system where fire departments put out fires and it didn't really matter whose stuff was saved.

Further you argue disanalogy due to the idea that the fire departments are localized. This is certainly the case for hospitals and doctors as well. Further it holds true for medicare as such as much of the reimbursement rates and businesses are conducted regionally. Additionally fire departments have very regional operations as well where fire departments are used to fight fires across state boundaries on federal land and as part of a much larger and national effort and presidential and gubernatorial declarations of disaster.

Ultimately any real universal health care plan would require, local, regional, as well as national support.

You aren't reimbursed for your lost health. You aren't paid for getting sick, your doctors are paid for mitigating the situation. And the constitution is established to "promote the general welfare".

There are certain requirements that everybody has and that need to be conducted at above the individual level. We have need for water, housing, health, security, electricity, roads, and a number of other projects and needs that cannot be elsehow conducted on an individual basis. If we do not own these utilities as a people they will end up owning us.

Much of your analysis seems dependent on staying on the obviously failed system we currently endure. Rather than making a clean break towards Medicare for all. Insurance is a terrible way to cover healthcare. Just as it was a terrible way to conduct fire departments prior to the Civil War. Your objection seems to be largely that we shouldn't half-ass this socialism and nationally pay for insurance but rather nationally pay for health-care; I couldn't agree more.

------

Basically if we half-ass it and using insurance as our model, ofcourse everything will suck. If we somehow did away with the whole thing and paid for the required care of anybody in need of care all of the problems would melt away. There'd be no need to saddle small businesses with the burden of providing insurance, there'd be no need for insurance, the prices would drop, the overhead would drift away, and we'd be able to assemble some more efficient system of regional support. Not every hospital needs an MRI machine. You only need them every once in a while but while everybody is out on their own without any centralization there's going to be more and more lost costs and opportunities, we'll have terrible procedures and unneeded tests, and little help from various. We need a much better system and insurance is never going to build such a system, it's going to build a system of making money by hoping people die.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tat's Trivia Bot v. 3.58

Tat's Trivia Bot 3.7


Update: Latest Tat's Trivia Bot 3.69

See latest blog and version 3.61
See latest blog link: 3.6



So Geocities shut down and my long dead drifting set of links to the files has likewise died out.

I have a semi-permanent site setup

http://tatarize.nfshost.com/


It should always have links to such my old scripts and various bits of information as to the on goings. It will presently link to MediaFire folder where I have the latest version of the trivia bot 3.58 as well as the question files and all of the old versions.

Again, if you find any bugs with the script I am still correcting those (though due to the lack of urgent reports I doubt there are many large ones). The bot is still free and open to edit and change in any way you see fit. Thanks to everybody who supported it over the years.

Intelligence Squared Debate: Catholics, tey evil?



I've at times ran into jokes about the way Anne Widdecombe talks and I didn't think much of it, but damned that's freaky. The debate was fantastic and pretty crushing all in all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Damn you Joplin38 from Kansas from last year (almost to the day).

I was, earlier today, commenting on a Christians' claim about Romans 7:7 having Paul talk about how the commandments made him want to sin and I was scoffing:

"So you, like Paul in Romans, are drawn to sin because of the commandments. Since it says you shouldn't have sex with horses you start looking lustfully after horses? Since it says don't murder you look longingly at an icepickless neck?"


I thought the word play was clever with the word icepickless and it probably was but, I'm somewhat annoyed at having not coined such a shiny word. A google search turned up an example of such a word being previously used:

http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/golden-years/524549-menus-mon-tues-wed-nov-5-6-7-a.html

11-06-2007, 11:09 AM Joplin38:

Very funny, Jezzie. For those of you who are icepickless, a carving fork would work just as well to puncture the squash before microwaving to soften.


I'm verklempt at having not coined the word and made the clever wordplay. I've been outcoined (others have apparently used that to describe having more coin/money/price, but my meaning is novel)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You're a monkey.



AronRa is a hero of mine. What Richard Carrier is to history of science Aron is to taxonomy and cladistics. Which is very high praise from me indeed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dios mio! Quasifame undeserved. Robgene's clever.

So ego searching today I found an interesting bit credited to me. Tatarize is unique enough that other than Tatarizing a region of some former soviet somethingorother, it's all me. So crazy people I pissed off who think the swastika was made to look like the S in Adolf Hitler's signature (there's no S there), or several year long slow motion debates on TANG on some distant board about some monkeys or something or some comments I made on the Raging Atheist's blog before he became the Raging Theist (he never was right in the head). Well I came across this little chestnut:

Dios y Superman

Querer demostrar que Dios existe con la Biblia es como querer demostrar que Superman existe con un cómic

— Tatarize (vía Microsiervos)


Wha? It says trying to show God exists with the Bible is like trying to show Superman exists with a comic. Which is close to a demotivator I posted on Flickr,

Proof

But the actual quote itself is by robgene on About's Atheism/Agnosticism forum (a forum I've frequented for years) and picked up as part of a large quote file compiled by Twsh.

Microsievos gives the following attributions:

Demostraciones

Querer demostrar que Dios existe con la Biblia es como querer demostrar que Supermán existe con un cómic.

– Proof
(vía Maikelnai)


The proof links to the original flickr image and the Maikelnai links to a twitter post.

Querer demostrar que Dios existe con la Biblia, es como querer demostrar que Supermán existe con un cómic http://tinyurl.com/m6yz4c


The URL of which links also to the flickr. Which was one of the images I added to the atheism pool on Flickr. And apparently lead to the latest comment on the flickr image:

JulissaMirabal says:

ignorantes! ninguno de ustedes tienen idea de como se escribió la bilbia


"Ignorant! None of you have any idea what was written in the Bible!"


The internet is weird, and to make it worse... now I'm blogging on this really odd chain of semi-interrelated events.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ingersoll speaking contest.

Good selection. Good rendition.



http://www.thomaspaine.org/bio/ingersoll1870.html

"Mental phenomena are considered more complicated than those of matter, and consequently more mysterious. Being more mysterious, they are considered better evidence of the existence of a god. No one infers a god from the simple, from the known, from what is understood, but from the complex, from the unknown, and incomprehensible. Our ignorance is God; what we know is science. " - The Gods, Robert Ingersoll

Damn it Mal! Watch the gorram heartstrings!



* Nathan Fillion in Castle.

It's shiny to see 'em browncoating again, but even after half a decade... the wound's still a might fresh.

Ashes to Ashes, Air to Air

Most of the matter in our bodies comes directly and indirectly from plants and those organisms lower on the food chain. Most of the actually molecules from those plants come from the atmosphere rather than the ground. If this weren't the case, trees would grow themselves into giant holes in the ground and we'd have to truck new dirt constantly to the heartland to fill in the holes produced by cornfields. Most of your molecules weren't dirt, they were air.

Ashes to Ashes, Air to Air.

Felicia Day: NASA PSA, cute as button



If you don't know/love Felicia Day just crawl in a hole. That or find yourself a copy of Dr. Horrible Sing Along Blog and the last few seasons of The Guild.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strategy, Epistemology, Argumentation, Dhorpatan and Ignorance.

Behold a terrible argument for the non-existence of God.



The argument is unsupported, circular, fraudulent, false, incorrect, fallacious, and utterly idiotic. On top of this it's part of a terrible strategy apparently in favor of atheism. To be fair, Dhorpatan is a dumbass. He can't even reason himself out of the paperbag called objectivism. And his purpose seems to be to use a bunch of big words and try to confuse the Jesus out of people.

Let's look at the argument in question:


P1) The Christian God is said [to] exist by definition, as an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Incorporeal mind.
P2) The Christian God cannot prevent Quantum Tunneling, as an immaterial mind lacks the means to instantiate violations of Schrodinger['s] equation and evanescent wave coupling.
P3) No mind can know the exact amount of information loss from a system into the environment through Quantum decoherence, nor instantiate as well as exemplify, the mediated attachment between state crossing relations of the microscopic, and macroscopic "worlds", to prevent thermodynamically irreversible actualization, from Quantum decoherence.
-- Supporting P3) An Incorporeal/Immaterial mind lacks kinetic actuality, as energy is of the material realm.
P4) Thus, the Christian God cannot exist as an Omnipotent entity. (From P2 and P3)
P5) Thus, the Christian God cannot exist as an Omniscient entity. (From P3)
Conclusion) Therefore, the Christian God does not exist. (From P1)


The first point that should be stressed is most of those buzzwords are just made up bullshit. Your first sign should be his inability to use grammar. He randomly capitalizes words like "omnipotent", leaves out other words and possessives etc. But, from a scientific sense, most of this is just gobbledygook. It's akin to post-modernism where the hope is that nobody really understands what was said so people just sit there nodding and not pointing out that the emperor isn't wearing any clothing. Lets confuse the Jesus out of them! To really understand how true this is, we must understand the underlying serious flaws in the argument.

Let's simplify and analyze:

* God is an all powerful, all knowing, incorporeal mind.
* God can't do "X" because God is immaterial.
* No mind can do "Y" BECAUSE immaterial minds lack property "A" BECAUSE "A" is associated with material.
* Therefore God isn't all-powerful.
* Therefore God isn't all-knowing.
* Therefore God doesn't exist.

Ultimately, then the real argument is entirely predicated on premise 2 and premise 3. Why can't immaterial minds do X? Why can't immaterial minds do Y? This are simply asserted without any good reason to accept them and since they pretty much guarantee the conclusion, we are left to ask how these are supported? And moreover how one rules out the other possibilities?

And how are you establishing that there isn't a non-energy of the non-material that doesn't do the same fundamental thing. How are you excluding all the other possibilities in order to make substantive claims about the non-material?


Dhorpatan was kind enough to clue me in:

Hahahaha! An immaterial mind itself is by inherent definition, contradictory, since nothing can exist, by what it's not. Nothing can exist, and not have a compositional identity, as that violates the Law of Identity.


This argument suggests the inability of immaterial minds to do things by arguing that they don't exist. So the support for the premise on which everything hinges is inability via non-existence. Immaterial minds are contradictory and thus don't exist and thus can't do X and thus aren't all powerful and thus don't exist.

The given support renders everything else moot. All that out of context QM crap is a moot point and irrelevant to the argument. One might as well suggest that because non-existent things can't play baseball they aren't all-powerful and thus do not exist and call it an argument from baseball.

When pressed on the lack of support for the argument further, I was given the delightful insight that:


The second and third premises don't require support.

They ARE the support for premises FOUR and
FIVE. Haahahahaha. This is what I've been saying.


That's right, any premise used for support do not themselves require support.

So even a causal scratch at the surface of the argument results in pretty serious flaws being uncovered, worse logic, and terrible reasoning.

Apparently being pressed for reasoning rather than being blindly accepted annoyed Dhorpatan some, "I'm growing fairly tired of your stick" he managed to offer between claiming I don't understand logic or was committing fallacies by asking questions. Rather than beat a deadhorse with a shtick, let's sum it up to say he's a terrible anti-apologist and not a logical person. Now, why should we care?

Because his entire strategy is flawed.


Don't get me wrong, I've read a lot of deconversion stories on Ex-Christian.net they are often heartwarming and give you an understanding of the freedom deconverts often feel. However, not once have I seen one where the one key element was having some postmodernist-wanna-be objectivist confuse the Jesus out of them, I've seen people lose their faith after being asked 'why their reasons for believing should suffice for any other purpose.' I've seen people lose their faith when explained what platypuses mean for mammalian evolution (Oh, it's not a refutation for evolution but actually really good evidence).

But, Dhorpatan's strategy? It's probably never going to work. So for the most part because confusing people with fallacious arguments is probably not effective (though it seems delightfully reinforcing amongst theists), we can venture that this strategy probably has no up side (as far as pragmatism is concerned).

I've seen more than a few good Christian responses to Dhorpatan's videos that often portray such arguments as somehow indicative of most atheistic arguments. They usually raise a good point or two and certainly do a lot to let Christians pat themselves on their back and reassure themselves that they are right. And I think even small examples of terrible arguments on the counter-apologetic side is an extremely bad thing.

Bad arguments muddy the water and make it a little hard to judge how overwhelmingly one-sided the actual argument. The arguments for God are always, without exception, tissue-paper thin and riddled with the most obvious and trivial errors. Any debates with regard to logical arguments for God are heavily weighted towards atheists.

Likewise arguments dealing with science are often heavily slanted towards atheism. It has been the case since Darwin that a functional epistemology terminates in atheism. It use to be that rational individuals in the time of Hume would be deists, or in the time of Galen theists. But, since Darwin atheism has been the logical endpoint of a functional epistemology. If you care whether your beliefs are true and you want the most true beliefs and the fewest false beliefs then you're probably going to review the facts and end up being an atheist.

So the logic, reason, and science is all in favor of atheism. However, on the flip side, it is for these reasons that I think a number of atheists are terrible debaters. They have never had to vigorously defend a losing proposition, or fight tooth and nail in favor of a falsehood. Most of the debates one witnesses online and in various forums are such that one poorly educated teenage atheist can seem ninja-like in dismantling the most time honored claims of large groups of religionists. It's not really a challenge and thus many of the arguments are completely terrible. I once witnessed an atheistic argument with ten premises, of which nine were factually false, with three obvious fallacies have a theist respond with a flawed understanding of the second law of thermodynamics (a criticism that wasn't even applicable to the argument). Such things are pathetic, but amazingly common. However, I think the staggering lopsidedness is a great argument in itself, and one of the more compelling ones for atheism. Though, it's screwed when one considers a few bad apples.


What about self policing?

With Dhorpatan's complete failure with regard to logic and rationality, shouldn't this expose some tender tissue to the evisceration of fellow logical atheists who don't want bad arguments in support of good positions. Let's see:

-.- Do you accually think you understand quantum machanics? I bet if einstein was alive, he would have no clue how to solve or explain quantum machanics properly if he studied it for years...
 The point is, we haven't even scratched the surface of this science, which is scary becuase it's already disproving god... This is all theory...
God might not be real after all, you might have to throw in the towel christans. Don't try to explain stuff that not even the best phisicst in the world can't.


First off Albert Einstein is one of the fathers of Quantum mechanics. Secondly we've scratched the surface. We've looked under the hood. We've thought about the implications, we've built hard drives and innumerable devices based on our understanding of quantum mechanics. It's simply rather alien. A lot of our natural intuitions about how the universe work, break down at the quantum level. We understand exactly what the answers will be, we just aren't exactly sure there's a reason why that's the answer. It's great if you want to build an insanely fast computer. It's not so great if you want to portray the entire universe as Newtonian or relativistic.

This commenter seems amazed for as little as we know about the theory it's already disproving God and Christians might want to give up now. This might be interesting if not for the fact that the entire argument is a complete crock of shit, and QM doesn't matter a jot to the argument.


On this point, I argued with a pretty reasonable Dhorpatan fan for a while concerning this argument and he finally arrived at the conclusion:

I think there must be some kind of point in it, but its structure is invalid.


Just because something is full of crap, doesn't mean it's pointless? If one accepts that then why not be religious?

---

I think that terrible arguments hurt the cause because terrible arguments on both sides allows for one to offer a tu quoque to suggest that there are bad arguments on both sides of the debate (Dhorpatan is also find taking on the burden of proof for no reason whatsoever). However, on top of that, muddying up the waters ruins the best argument for atheism which is largely a meta-argument: "all the arguments for theism are utter shit and atheists bring up a number of good points." There's something delightfully powerful about having theists always be wrong. Throwing them a bone with terrible arguments is just going to encourage them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If evolution is true, why haven't mothers evolved extra arms?

Development works like a pattern triggered on and off by various genes. Certain parts of the program code for certain things so things like arms and legs are triggered by limb buds and follow very similar programs. The primary bone is a single bone be it the femur or humerus then a joint and then a lower limb of two primary bones (tibia and fibula or ulna and radius). The same pattern is followed with modifications.

For example the knee cap is actually an ossified tendon that evolved early within the placental mammals. You won't find them in marsupials or any more diverse tetrapods. Likewise other tetrapods like some of the hoofed ungulates have modified limb ends, or sloths have fewer digits, or pandas have heavily modified wrist bones to make a thumb (look at their hands they have 6 digits because their thumb is not a digit).

So biology and genetics is more like a toolkit and the various cells and different cell types follow a decentralized build scheme to invoke specific organs in specific places. So it only takes one mutation to make limbs into hooves or to make humans largely hairless (by changing the growth rest cycles) rather than coding for individual parts.

This evo-devo scheme of developmental biology combines the understanding of evolution, development, genetics, and embryology into a single coherent field. So we know interesting things like octopuses, like squid, have ten legs but, unlike squid, have two of their legs suppressed by other genes. So you'll encounter an occasional "mutant" octopus with nine or ten legs, but never eleven. Or that the gene used in mice and fruitflies to start the program to build an eye is the same, even though mice have a lensed eye and fruitflies have a compound eye. You can simply move the gene from one to the other and it works just as well. Or that snakes still have functional leg genes that don't get activated and are just invoked elsewhere for non-leg purposes.

To properly change a lot of the patterning you need to change a lot of the structure, you'd need to make another upper torso section or otherwise cause the patterning to start the arm creation program multiple times. But, as the program only really takes small tweaks it would be hard to cause such a duplication and have a viable resulting phenotype.

It's like asking if there's some step you could tweak in making a chocolate cake that would actually end up making cookie dough icecream instead. If you want to gradually make a larger cake or tweak the coloring or flavor, that's easy, but you can't make a small tweak to the recipe to make a cake into cookie dough. Even if cookie-dough icecream were a great thing to make, using slight modifications of a cake recipe you'd likely end up with a cake that mimics cookie-dough icecream rather than the real thing. You can't really change the plan you already have down in the books, that's the reason why animals have vestiges. It's why humans have an eye with a blind spot. It's why aquatic flightless penguins have wings. You can only tweak the previous recipes, rather than change them wholecloth. And the recipe for land animals with four limbs was set down during the evolution of fish prior to migration on to the land. Tweaking that bit is going to cause serious problems for every step that comes later, which is pretty much every step.

We can tweak the expression of genes a lot easier than the pattern. So longer arms or more hair or to change the degree of anything is easy. However to actually change the recipe itself is not so simple. Which is why things typically evolve gradually from very small nearly inconsequential traits to large robust developments. Rather than encountering freakish but awesome new organs like sharp spikes on one's knuckles or extra arms or whatnot.

Humans like all the tetrapods are really just a jerryrigged fish.

Sorry if I'm cryptic at times, but evo-devo is very impressive science and somewhat cutting edge biology. And is actually the correct answer to why if extra arms might be evolutionarily advantageous could humans never evolve them. A lot of organisms get locked into certain patterns. For example humans have seven neck vertebrae, want to venture a guess as to how many a giraffe has? How about a mouse? A cat? A dog? A cow? -- The answer to all of these is always seven. Giraffes and humans have the same number of neck vertebrae they just get longer and shorter rather than more common like one would find in long necked birds, because, for some reason, nearly all mammals are locked into this pattern and the recipe is really hard to change.

Ingersoll on the Temptation of Jesus.

The fact that Christ could withstand the temptations of the devil was considered as conclusive evidence that he was assisted by some god, or at least by some being superior to man. St. Matthew gives an account of an attempt made by the devil to tempt the supposed son of God; and it has always excited the wonder of Christians that the temptation was so nobly and heroically withstood. The account to which I refer is as follows:

"Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when the tempter came to him, he said: 'If thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread.' But he answered, and said: 'It is written: man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city and setteth him upon a pinnacle of the temple and saith unto him: "If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou shalt dash thy foot against a stone.' Jesus said unto him: 'It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.' Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him: 'All these will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

The Christians now claim that Jesus was God. If he was God, of course the devil knew that fact, and yet, according to this account, the devil took the omnipotent God and placed him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and endeavored to induce him to dash himself against the earth. Failing in that, he took the creator, owner and governor of the universe up into an exceeding high mountain and offered him this world -- this grain of sand -- if he, the God of all the worlds, would fall down and worship him, a poor devil, without even a tax title to one foot of dirt! Is it possible the devil was such an idiot? Should any great credit be given to this deity fear not being caught with such chaff? Think of it! The devil -- the prince of sharpers -- the king of cunning -- the master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of sand that belonged to God!

Is there in all the religious literature of the world anything more grossly absurd than this?


From The Gods...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is this dismissive crock I see before me?



Would it happen naturally? Probably not.

What about in a lab? Maybe, but how will they get funding. Who will give them permission to conduct the experiments?

* Chimps not sexy.
* Sex is hard.
* Differing numbers of chromosomes, more likely to be infertile.
* It's the evolutionary difference that counts.

However horses and donkeys are 10.10 million years apart and have different chromosome numbers. And we're only 6 million years off from chimpanzees.

* Ivanhov tried it three times and failed.
* Oliver was just a chimp.

--

No evidence that it's happened and not likely to happen.

--

Somehow this seems overly dismissive to me. The evolutionary distance is pretty close far closer than mules. And there are no confirmed barriers to reproduction as such. There's no evidence that it's impossible and less related species have hybrids quite often.

Kinds, Taxonomy, Clades and Macroevolution.

>>"otherwise you're just witnessing the allowable variations and ADAPTATIONS within a specific "kind" of organism."


Your definition of microevolution, suffices to explain all life on this planet. You have arbitrarily defined macroevolution as something that evolution does not suggest will ever happen.

Evolution includes to a large part clades. Which is to say the common ancestor of a given organism and all of it's descendants. At no point will the common ancestor of two species in a specific group ever be something other than in that group. Humans and mice are both mammals and so our common ancestor will be a mammal. And though the ancestral mammals have given rise to sheep, whales, platypus, kangaroos, humans, lemurs, aye-ayes, elephant shrews, shrews, elephants, dogs, hyenas, bears and all the other mammals alive today. They will never become non-mammals. That's not the way evolution works. It is always about modification of previous forms. Not the change of one form into another.

Animals will never be non-animals. And mosquitoes and I share a common ancestor that was an animal. You are simply abusing a rather silly platonic idea and misunderstanding clades. The truth is "An X will never evolve into a non X" is true for all clades. It's actually a prediction and explanation of evolution. Any grouping that includes a group of closely related species must by definition include them all and they will never stop being that group. Even if the group is as narrow as the great apes which is only five main species (chimpanzee, bonobo, orangutan, human, and gorilla) or as wide as all of the animals. At no point will a human stop being an animal or stop being an ape.

The thing is the allowable variations within a specific kind are nearly infinite. So bats may always be bats, but if after a large extinction event they were a group to survive and have many millions of years of allowable variations they might troll the skies like birds of prey, graze the fields like cattle, some primates, and iguanadons of yesterage. Or fill the seas like penguins, whales, fish, or plesiosaurs. Even as these hypothetical bats burrow into other animals and live as parasites burrowed just under the skin they will still be bats. They would be bats if they returned to the seas, they would be bats if they burrowed in the ground, they would be bats no matter what kind of diversity they achieved. Oddly enough there are a lot of birds with this kind of diversity, some burrow, some in the oceans, some graze, some hunt at night with ears on their cheeks, some take to the skies with unrivaled vision and speed, and some scavenge for carrion or sing intricate songs. But, all birds are birds and they will never be anything different, just as all birds are the only surviving dinosaurs and will never be anything different, nor will they stop being tetrapods or animals.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Went to beach, got burned.

I look a little lobster-like right now. Sun screen is for cowards.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You want me to believe sorting algorithms work?

Statistics is the wrong math to use concerning evolution. Rather algorithmics is correct. Allow an analogy.

If I used a bubble sort to sort 1000 items in a list, the odds of getting the correct answer is going to be 1000! (1000 factorial). That's 1000*999*998*997...*3*2*1. It's absolutely astronomical! It would like having a tornado hit a beach of sand and just happen to build the Empire State Building and the rest of New York.

402,387,260,077,093,773,543,702,433,923,003,985,719,374,864,210,714,632,543,799,910,429,938,512,398,629,020,592,044,208,486,969,404,800,479,988,610,197,196,058,631,666,872,994,808,558,901,323,829,669,944,590,997,424,504,087,073,759,918,823,627,727,188,732,519,779,505,950,995,276,120,874,975,462,497,043,601,418,278,094,646,496,291,056,393,887,437,886,487,337,119,181,045,825,783,647,849,977,012,476,632,889,835,955,735,432,513,185,323,958,463,075,557,409,114,262,417,474,349,347,553,428,646,576,611,667,797,396,668,820,291,207,379,143,853,719,588,249,808,126,867,838,374,559,731,746,136,085,379,534,524,221,586,593,201,928,090,878,297,308,431,392,844,403,281,231,558,611,036,976,801,357,304,216,168,747,609,675,871,348,312,025,478,589,320,767,169,132,448,426,236,131,412,508,780,208,000,261,683,151,027,341,827,977,704,784,635,868,170,164,365,024,153,691,398,281,264,810,213,092,761,244,896,359,928,705,114,964,975,419,909,342,221,566,832,572,080,821,333,186,116,811,553,615,836,546,984,046,708,975,602,900,950,537,616,475,847,728,421,889,679,646,244,945,160,765,353,408,198,901,385,442,487,984,959,953,319,101,723,355,556,602,139,450,399,736,280,750,137,837,615,307,127,761,926,849,034,352,625,200,015,888,535,147,331,611,702,103,968,175,921,510,907,788,019,393,178,114,194,545,257,223,865,541,461,062,892,187,960,223,838,971,476,088,506,276,862,967,146,674,697,562,911,234,082,439,208,160,153,780,889,893,964,518,263,243,671,616,762,179,168,909,779,911,903,754,031,274,622,289,988,005,195,444,414,282,012,187,361,745,992,642,956,581,746,628,302,955,570,299,024,324,153,181,617,210,465,832,036,786,906,117,260,158,783,520,751,516,284,225,540,265,170,483,304,226,143,974,286,933,061,690,897,968,482,590,125,458,327,168,226,458,066,526,769,958,652,682,272,807,075,781,391,858,178,889,652,208,164,348,344,825,993,266,043,367,660,176,999,612,831,860,788,386,150,279,465,955,131,156,552,036,093,988,180,612,138,558,600,301,435,694,527,224,206,344,631,797,460,594,682,573,103,790,084,024,432,438,465,657,245,014,402,821,885,252,470,935,190,620,929,023,136,493,273,497,565,513,958,720,559,654,228,749,774,011,413,346,962,715,422,845,862,377,387,538,230,483,865,688,976,461,927,383,814,900,140,767,310,446,640,259,899,490,222,221,765,904,339,901,886,018,566,526,485,061,799,702,356,193,897,017,860,040,811,889,729,918,311,021,171,229,845,901,641,921,068,884,387,121,855,646,124,960,798,722,908,519,296,819,372,388,642,614,839,657,382,291,123,125,024,186,649,353,143,970,137,428,531,926,649,875,337,218,940,694,281,434,118,520,158,014,123,344,828,015,051,399,694,290,153,483,077,644,569,099,073,152,433,278,288,269,864,602,789,864,321,139,083,506,217,095,002,597,389,863,554,277,196,742,822,248,757,586,765,752,344,220,207,573,630,569,498,825,087,968,928,162,753,848,863,396,909,959,826,280,956,121,450,994,871,701,244,516,461,260,379,029,309,120,889,086,942,028,510,640,182,154,399,457,156,805,941,872,748,998,094,254,742,173,582,401,063,677,404,595,741,785,160,829,230,135,358,081,840,096,996,372,524,230,560,855,903,700,624,271,243,416,909,004,153,690,105,933,983,835,777,939,410,970,027,753,472,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000

That's roughly 4 * 10^2568 it's more than 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 googols all multiplied together! And you're going to tell me that the sorting algorithm just happens to get the correct answer? Any statistician would laugh at you!

You want me to believe sorting algorithms work? You have more faith than religion. THAT'S INSANE!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Simon and doubting Thomas.

So I get blog posts. The best place to respond is clearly on the blog.

Simon writes:

There are many different thoughts in Science and religion on the start of the world. So what is right? Are any of them right? The fossil record leaves more questions than it answers. The biblical guide to creation leaves more questions than it answers. So that gets me nowhere.


We're off to a staggeringly confused start. Which one is right, science. Why is science the correct answer, because it changes it's opinion all the time based on the evidence to have the answer that gets closest to the truth and when it finds errors it corrects them. The fossil record sometimes does raise interesting new questions and sometimes there are more questions than answers. Likewise religion's claims in genesis certainly does give us more questions than answers. The problem here is the quality and quantity of the answers given and the questions raised. For example the latest bipedal ape fossil is that of Ardipithecus does the critter raise more questions than it answers, perhaps. The staggering difference between this and the Biblical account is that it actually answers *some* questions. And the questions that it raises in turn are smaller and more specific. We have a much clearer picture as to what our side of the family looked like some 4.4 million years ago, however is Ardi a prime example of what such bipedal apes looked like or is there more variation among bipedal apes. How much did the chimpanzee line change if bipedalism was already pretty common 4.4 million years ago? The questions we ask because of the fossil finds are specific and able to be investigated.


Now, comparing this to the Bible we note that Genesis solves no problems whatsoever. And it does raise questions like what the fuck? And seriously dude, clay?

Fossils in areas that we don't have much information on do give rise to questions, but these questions are a result of our mapping the perimeter of our ignorance. We may not now know what we want to know but we have a better idea of what we don't know. We have better questions to ask. Science and religion differ greatly on this point, because regardless if we become better versed on what we don't know the absolute volume of our ignorance goes down. We actually learn things about the world. And answer one big question and replacing it with three smaller questions is an a fantastic deal in my book.



So you then have a dilemma. Do you accept flawed model 1 or flawed model 2?
You can argue either case as much as you like and never find a happy common ground other than "I believe this because I think it seems reasonable" So I wanted to have a better reason to believe either.


Wrong. I can find fantastic ground that certainly isn't common ground. I'm fine basing many of my beliefs within the firm foundation of science. I don't want common ground with religion. Religion is a swamp of nonsense and flawed epistemological reasoning. I'd rather use a good foundation and get rid of things that do not work. It isn't that I think it's reasonable. It's that there is literally a world of evidence supporting it.


I know you probably think Jesus is just a big joke, but he is historically proven.


As I said before, I'm about the evidence. Go ahead and show me this historical proof. I'm actually quite well versed on the evidence for historicity of Jesus and this is part of the reason why I don't believe in a historical Jesus. Further historical evidence is hardly proof of anything magical. Unlike Jesus or Buddha (though the Buddhists don't really care) there is fantastic evidence that Muhammad existed. I'm talking real evidence of actual places and actual people who saw and recorded his existence, contemporary sources, and archeological evidence. There's really no question about it. Does that therefore prove Islam?



There is as much evidence for Jesus as Julius Caesar (more in fact, but not the point here).


There is significantly less evidence for Jesus than for Julius Caesar. In fact, if there were as much evidence or even a fraction as much then there would be no place for any debate. Julius Caesar likewise has actual people and places contemporary which record his existence, extra-Roman sources that speak of the same events as the Roman sources and clear archeological evidence of the events. Julius Caesar is said to have taken Rome from a Republic to a Empire, and we find exactly that in the historical records as well as many independent confirmations of various events within Roman politics.

SO if Jesus existed, he was either a) the biggest liar ever, b) totally deceived, or c) telling the truth. You probably wonder why I am even writing this.


I'm certainly not wondering why you are writing this, I'm quite well versed on apologetics and notice the most blatant attempt at invoking C.S. Lewis' Lunatic, Liar, and Lord argument ever. What's more amusing is that you don't even bother to follow through with the rest of the argument. You're suppose to say he wasn't a liar because he said some general platitudes in the Sermon of the Mount that people agree with, and he wasn't a lunatic because something-something, and therefore he was really Lord. The argument itself is rather silly and is an obvious false trilemma and excludes more the reasonable answer of Legend. I'm not sure if Robin Hood existed and he certainly seems like a stand up character so am I to accept that if he claimed to be God incarnate he really would be? He's a character in a book and a corpus of various legends that builds up remarkably quickly. King Arthur sounds like a stand up guy, but am I really suppose to accept that he pulled the sword from the stone and was given Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake? I certainly shouldn't call such stand up people liars or lunitic.

The answer is that I was very much where you are now 10 years ago. I spent a lot of time trying to "prove" evolution and atheism, and all I got was more questions and issues.


Another classic claim and it is on the surface false. If you actually were where I am, you certainly wouldn't be making these claims today. I'm far better versed on theology and apologetics than you and your obvious ignorance of the serious problems precludes the chance that you were a healthy minded empirically driven atheist with a functional epistemology. This claim is often employed by people who weren't as churchy as they now are. It's a different category all together. I'm fine with evolution and atheism and I get more and more answers. Science is one of the only things that gets bigger and better and more beautiful the more you dig.


When I looked at God's principles and word, I had to ask a bigger question. I had to ask what the penalty for being wrong under either option was.


God doesn't have principles. God doesn't exist. And punishment is a smaller and petty question, not a larger one. It's a weak notion that doesn't really matter. You should always do what is right in every situation and damn the consequences.


This was my starting point. A lot of things happened after this that convinced me beyond doubt that God and Jesus are real, which I could go through but will refrain (unless you want to hear them at some point).


I'm quite interested. Evidence would be a nice change of pace. Considering how much Allah is going to have you tortured in the hereafter is a terrible reason to accept religion. If you don't give me 1000 dollars, you are going to be tortured by ants in the after life who spend all day long eating your eyes. Sounds pretty gross, so you should pay up. This is the sum of your "evidence": threats. I'd prefer actual evidence rather than bold-faced claims and threats.


Don't discount God because of his followers.


I certainly don't. In fact, I find the most reasonable religions to be the ancient pantheons like the Greek, Roman, and Norse. I think they are significantly more reasonable than the Christian God and they don't have any (many) followers at all. I don't discount God because of the followers. I discount God because God doesn't exist.

So many people stuff it up and make silly points because they want to look godly. You obviously have researched this, but in the end it comes down to weather you are willing to bet your life on it..


Pascals wager is a particularly pathetic argument. It's not even an argument for God, it's a pragmatic argument that you should accept God whether it's true or not.

I'm privy to the atheists wager as a reply because frankly it makes a lot a sense. There are three possibilities. Either God does not exist, God does exist and is an evil jackass who punishes people on the basis of beliefs, or God exists and is fair and just. The end conclusion is that you should do good. If God doesn't exist, then doing good is it's own reward. It makes life good and safe and prosperous. If God exists and is a jackass who thinks Anne Frank should be supernaturally abused and murdered forever for the same reasons the Nazis thought Anne Frank should be abused and murdered (Being Jewish and not accepting Jesus) then screw that God. Seriously any God who would damn Gandhi to burn in hell forever but feel that Torquemada warrants eternal bliss is a piece of shit. And finally if there's a fair and just God, then the obvious staggering lack of evidence makes it pretty easy not believe and certainly wouldn't punish individuals for having entirely reasonable beliefs. In which case doing good has an infinite reward. In all the cases the best answer is simply to do good.

You however argue that your God is the second variety the kind of God who does to Anne Frank what the Nazis could only do briefly forever for the unconscionable sin of failing to accept bad and lacking evidence for an absurd claim by suspending her basic use of reason and upbringing.


Thanks for your time.


And thank you for yours, I hope you respond.