Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Face of Rose the Riveter dies.

My grandmother when applying for assistance after my grandfather died (in the 50s), wrote on her application that she had always been a housewife. She, for reasons that seem alien to me, left off the time she spent in San Diego working as a riveter. My grandmother died a few months back. Her mother died during the Spanish flu of 1918.

Monday, December 27, 2010

'I' before 'E' except for when 'E' is before 'I'.

QI suggested the rule was stupid and wrong. I told my sister and she thought it was absurd that the rule was wrong and that I just believed it blindly. Such things I suppose can be verified. How often do we find CIE vs. CEI?

Using OSPD (Scrabble dictionary) and running a search on words:

CEI is the way it should be after a C, because after a C the I before E rule does not apply.


37 words found

So how many exceptions are there to this rule? How often it it 'I' before 'E' regardless of 'C'?


64 words found

There are 64 exceptions to a rule that applies to 37 words. has words with CEI (the rule sanctioned version).


a heraldic wand or staff -- CADUCEAN



one that receives

24 words found.

And for CIE (the exceptions):

ABBACY [15 pts] , (ABBACIES)

the office of an abbot


the quality or state of being vibrant
167 words found. 


The rule should say I before E, 92%  (400 EI vs 5000 IE) of the time, and I before E even after a C around 85% of the time.

It gets even dumber. Consider things like I before E except after S. There's 38 examples of SEI and only 237 exceptions (SIE) which is a solid 16% correct. Which is a bit better than the rule with the C in it, which is only right 14% of the time applying to 24 words and having 167 exceptions. With 'H' you can get 39 applications with 228 exceptions for 17% application. The real clincher is 'E'. I before E except after E applies 39 times and is wrong 0 times. There are 39 'EEI' words and 0 'EIE' words.

There you go. I before E except after E.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The problems with Jesus' trial, and a modern analogy.

The biggest problem there is that the whole thing doesn't make a lick of sense. It would be like having a town in modern day America having a church arrest somebody for blasphemy and overseen by the state Governor who offers a choice between allowing a death row inmate go and punishing this person for blasphemy and having them let the inmate go. And then proceed to execute the person for blasphemy.

Really, it's exactly like the events the Bible depicts. There were actual Roman laws and they sure the hell didn't allow for insurrecters to go free or to arrest people for crimes that weren't real Roman crimes or to try them with secret Jewish cabals.

The only coherent analogy one could find is with the practice of scapegoating. Whereby a choice is made between two seemingly equal goats or in this case (sons of the father / Barabbas means "son of the father") and one is set free and the other is sacrificed, though rather than to carry away the sins of the Jews it is to condemn them and show guilt and culpability. It certainly doesn't make a lick of sense as a matter of history. (This might not even be an analogy but rather a homology if Dr. Carrier is right).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Awesome, cold plasma sterilizing and overly optimistic.

Using cold plasmas, a state of matter where the ions are all torn up and everything is a bunch of ionizing radiation but at room temperature, allows one to use a flame at room temperature of ionizing radiation that manages to kill bacteria. So you could use such a thing on hands or directly on wounds and it'll work on antibiotic resistant bacteria quite well. However there's this odd point in the article where it somehow insists that bacteria can't evolve around it. Ahem? What? There are bacteria that can take super-lethal doses of radiation where their entire DNA is blown up into smithereens and they come out perfectly fine, slapping their DNA back together like an easy to solve jigsaw puzzle. Yes, it's a radically different way to kill bacteria, yes it is awesome. But, you could also have bacteria become ionizing radiation, some are heavily resistant to nuclear bombs worth of radiation radiation. Sure, it might work well on some branches that can't adapt, but to say that nothing could adapt is a bit silly. We have bacteria around today that would survive rather easily on a few planets or moons in this solar system.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Losing a bird by hand is worse than losing two to the bush.

There is within psychology, markets, and decision theory a sort of odd bias with loss aversion. People hate to lose things far more than they like to win things.

If you have a choice between getting $1000 bucks and then just taking another $500 bucks or flipping a coin and getting a bonus $0 or $1000 bucks a lot of people just take the $500. However if you are given $2000 dollars and asked to either give back $500 or flip a coin and lose $0 or $1000 people opt for the bet. There's a chance you can hang on to all of your money! -- But the deals are exactly the same. You get $1500 or $1000 vs. $2000 half the time. You should like both of them the same.

Now, I love poking fun at idioms, or questioning some of the merits (some are stupid and inverted between each other and whatever the outcome the idiom is just adjusted after the fact. If you acted too quickly and lost, you should have looked before you lept, if you didn't act fast enough and lost, that's what happens to "he who hesitates"). And I wonder if loss aversion would play a roll with regard to the bird in hand is worth two in the bush. If you're odds of catching a bird in a bush is 1/2 for each particular bird. Is it also loss adverse if you have two birds and have to either just let one of them go free or play a game of chance whereby you might keep them both or neither? Is losing one bird by hand worse than maybe losing or keeping both? What if by some authority I see you with two birds. And demand that you either free one or if you'd like shoot my bird in the bush accuracy game to maybe keep both birds.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

David Hume, I pencil, Markets, and Intelligence.

All these various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them. The curious adapting of means to ends, throughout all nature, resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the productions of human contrivance; of human designs, thought, wisdom, and intelligence. Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble; and that the Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man...
 One should logically draw this conclusion. The author of nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man. Somehow about the time Darwin looked behind the curtain and determined  that the author of nature is nothing more than compounded dumb luck, blind chance distilled into the miraculous, where life cheats at thermodynamics and only collects on the winning bets and forgets it even made the losing ones. That design is the product evolution by natural selection sufficed to give cause for forgetting these previous conclusions. Why should we accept a logical conclusion of the sort that "the author of nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man"? When we know full well how the author of nature writes? Sure we don't have a flipping clue how the mind of man works, but certainly we can be justified to ignore the logical arguments above out of hand, without explaining it. After all when one considers the amazing nature of  human minds, it ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them. And equivalences somehow only go one way, to say that the author of nature is similar to the mind of man, certainly it true but to be disregarded because we now have Darwin to explain the authorship of nature. And why should anybody bother taking that one tiny extra step of saying that perhaps the mind of man is somewhat similar to Darwinian evolution? -- I would argue that they should because it explains the vast majority deep mysteries about intelligence. But that's just me.

There was a somewhat influential essay within Economics, which some are coming to understand  is Darwinian in nature, called I Pencil. Which argues, that the markets are such that nobody really knows how to make a pencil. That we cannot fathom how trees are made and so we conclude that it must be God. Only God can make a tree. But, nobody really knows how to make pencils. We know they are wood, graphite and brass (now aluminum for the ferrule) but who knows how to mine graphite, who knows how to make the mining equipment, who knows how to drill for oil to power the equipment, who knows how to make the lighthouse for the shipments of tin, or to power the saws. The division of labor by the markets is so profound that nobody really knows all the steps. You could set no person on a massive island filled with resources for the taking and have them make a pencil, because nobody knows how to do it.

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work.
Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.
 That evolution plays a distinctive role is nothing new, to economics. It's gaining some steam but isn't a rather widely understood point. Evolution is decentralized and doesn't require that particular part know the whole. It's just not needed. And though, Read here seems to suggest that God is behind the invisible hand rather than the same blind watchmaker behind the tree. And also concludes his essay with a presumption of laissez faire faith.

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed.

Neglecting that the blind watchmaker does better for humans when humans gum up the works. Everything in nature is on a knife's edge. Nature's red in tooth and claw. And filled from the foot fungus to head lice with parasites. We shouldn't have faith in the markets, we should recognize that they are the single most powerful economic tool we have but are far better off domesticated than dominating.

In any event, the invisible hand of the markets, the blind watchmaker, the homunculi that live in the pituitary gland are really just different sides of the same process. A decentralized process that doesn't require knowing anything to know everything, to design without understanding, to arrange without forethought, to create without a creator. Is it any wonder that religious people the world over have been saying intelligence is behind the designs of nature? Darwinian evolution looks exactly like intelligence, because intelligence is likely the same process at its core. Intelligent design is trying to replace the cranes (in the Dennett sense) of evolution with the skyhooks behind intelligence often wrongly attributed to God, but really if one takes the arguments seriously, the universal acid of evolution flows the other way. It doesn't save God from the clutches of evolution, it allows the universal acid of the explanatory power of evolution to explain away that meek idol of that He who made the lamb made thee. It ends up splashing acid in the face of God. Because yes, you can argue for intelligent design in nature, but the intelligence, like all intelligence, is just another face of Darwin. The illusion of design, and the thoughts of intelligence behind nature, which even Darwin noted tend to come and go, are the other side of the same coin.

Within research into intelligence, we haven't produced anything even remotely intelligent and fail to produce anything, there is an utter lack of something we could confuse for intelligence. Within biology we have gobs of intelligence, it's all over the place infecting ever facet of what biologists do, and a seeming effort to call it an illusion of design, a mirage of intelligence. On one side of intelligence, we have no intelligence and deeply want something we could confuse for intelligence and no understandable processes and on the evolution side, we have lots of intelligence and a process we understand and all the while deep in the vaults of human intellectual history we have valid arguments which say these are the same thing. It was a mistake to disregard the equivalence of the Author of Nature with the contrivances of human minds, just because Darwin fully explained nature. We should have, at the time, and in the years since, realized that Darwin also explained human minds. It isn't that intelligence in nature is an illusion or that the design is a mirage, it really is there. It's actually completely really deeply and truly a part of nature. God is the illusion. We see the intelligence in the essence of nature and claim that it must belong to somebody, but that's just not the way it works. You can worship the Author of Nature as God, the Intelligent Designer as a divine being, but really if you look behind the curtain you'll find that you're just worshiping what Darwin so aptly described. But "It's intelligent!" one  might insist, rightfully I concede, but that's not a contradiction. Darwin's process is behind that curtain as well. Intelligent Design doesn't save God from evolution, it meekly attempts to call evolution God. Somehow I don't think that even theists who find Paul Tillich's God (a theism as close to atheism as twilight is to night) palatable could manage to swallow that bitter idolatry when properly unmasked.

Properly, the argument for design has been touted as the greatest argument for God ever devised, but really, when you get down to the core, and a dollop of universal acid is splashed on it. We find that much of theological effort, has been, over the years, engaged in worshiping Darwinian Evolution. Insisting on the false distinction that because it's intelligent, it can't be evolution.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Facebook Fundies.

"BUT if you keep using the word "homophobia" and sincerely feel that this is a valid word, then you are in fact imposing and projecting terroristic acts into society where homosexuality is NOT the norm. Therefore you are infringing on the "constitutional rights of others"

Wow, disagreeing with somebody is terrorism and a violation of their constitutional rights.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lego Antikythera Mechanism.

Building ancient Greek computers out of legos. That's pretty cool. Now somebody needs to build one of those ancient Greek robots out of them. Yes, the ancient Greeks also invented robots. But, you could do that rather nicely. Have a play put on by replica Greek robots (without cheating with electric obviously, powered by sand the traditional way).

What other cool things could be built? There's some movement to create a complete Babbage computer, there should also be a sub project to make one out of legos too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If there is no God, why don't you shoot yourself in the foot?

I mean, it's not like anything would matter without God. Why not just pull out a gun and shoot yourself in the foot, it's not like it matters.

Somehow I think this is a delightful rephrasing of the old canard. It's not only well phrased by it provides it's own rebuttal. There's something delightful about presenting a valid variation of another's argument, in such a way that it's obviously self-refuting. The only thing better than an argument that can be refuted in one word, is an argument that is refuted in zero.

There was no good science between Aristotle and the Middle Ages! (an actual argument made by Stark and other people)
 -- Archimedes.

Faith is a beautiful thing and is good for it's own sake.
-- Jonestown.

If there's no God, why don't you just shoot yourself in the foot.
-- ...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Irreducible complexity cut down to size.

That's actually really really good. The quality of explanation videos on youtube has gone up a lot. So have the production values and other things. Maybe it's just a few channels but quality is starting to get rather mainstream.

There's apparently a proud tradition of scientifically and historically accurate songs about the sun.

And of course the classic mass of incandescent gas.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BEC of photons. One big ass photon. That's pretty cool.

Apparently it's not only possible, but insanely easy to make Bose Einstein Condensates of photons. I'm not sure why you'd need a giant photon but apparently science can now make them. A single quantum mechanical photon is pretty much a laser, and those were pretty useful. Not that such things need to be useful to be awesome. Somehow a giant quantum mechanical equivalent of a photon is likely more useful than the quantum mechanical of a sodium atom.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Atom Song.

So holds my bi-monthy post of a youtube video of some note to appear like I blog more consistently than I do. But, then you don't read this blog so it's a mutual relationship. I don't really blog, and you don't really read it.

In any event, kick ass.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Arg. What's with this religious crap in Stargate Universe.?

I thought I drew the line in the sand at Line in the Sand back with SG-1. Stargate does religion hella wrong. I mean back when it was about some baseline skepticism of aliens with good technology posing as gods, that was cool. I could even get behind the metaphysics of ascension and all that jive.

But, with Universe they harp on this crap way too much. Apparently the ship the people are on (Destiny) has a true mission to figure out some pattern written inside the CMBR (because nothing says magical God did it like background radiation having a pattern). Apparently this must have been "before" the big bang because it exists and therefore must have been added before. And then there's these episodes with a God-like alien created planet called Eden and a bunch of "is it real", "isn't it" crap about faith and about not being sure about various aspects. It's not a coherent central story and there's nothing uplifting about "faith" episodes. You can't be sure, isn't it wonderful. Blah.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I finally invented a cool thing in Minecraft.

Not that you care, but I'm sure in the realm of minecarts in the game Minecraft my bi-directional double booster will be all the rage. It can even be made into a uni-directional quadbooster giving a person 40 track lengths of boost in only 37 units of track. With an additional 4 units of boost for each additional 3 units of track. It gives better than a 1:1 track to boost ratio. At best the alternative boosters are either unidirectional 1:1 boosts (assuming you use it inline with already existing track, or bidirection 2:1 (with rather marked overhead) at best. Further, all previous bidirectional boosters used two additional minecarts for boosts, and were really direction parsed parallel unidirectional boosters. My design needs only one additional minecart, even in quadboosting mode. My design can get about a better than a 1:1 ratio and work in a bidirectional fashion. Or if you don't need bi-directionality, it can be reflipped to quad boost. Because super-efficient construction things in a sandbox game are all the rage.

(this should work after the video is processed one would think)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Custom Essay Writing. Cheaters.

Is a pretty interesting look at the world of custom paper writing. Working doing the college papers of other people who suck too badly to write the papers themselves. A few things stick out about the practice. Not plagiarism which is mostly detectable, but getting an actual paper that nobody previously wrote.

The subject matter, the grade level, the college, the course—these things are irrelevant to me. Prices are determined per page and are based on how long I have to complete the assignment. As long as it doesn't require me to do any math or video-documented animal husbandry, I will write anything.

No math. You can't fake math.

After I've gathered my sources, I pull out usable quotes, cite them, and distribute them among the sections of the assignment. Over the years, I've refined ways of stretching papers. I can write a four-word sentence in 40 words. Just give me one phrase of quotable text, and I'll produce two pages of ponderous explanation. I can say in 10 pages what most normal people could say in a paragraph.

Density. You end up with huge pages of ponderous drivel where reasonable ways of saying things just doesn't take up enough space. 

... and the obligatory xkcd.

Richard Carrier: The God Contention.

Some of his answers are hilarious. The other columnists put up massive sets of a page and more of weasel words and he gives a curt reply that direct and to the point.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Minecraft So Win

Little blocks of crap. You build stuff. It's like the sims but with zombies and an entire world made of out cubes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I hate speaking too soon. *cough*


I love being healthy.

So easy to take breathing from your nose for granted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I hate being sick.

Arg. This sucks. My face aches.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The latest edition of QI is wrong.

I love QI, but in season 8 episode 8, they make the comment that you can't explain what is right and what is left to an alien. And in fact, you can. There is no right/left symmetry properly with with regard to weak nuclear interactions. If you aimed the electron emission of a carbon-14 atom at you, the electron would be spinning counter-clockwise. Which is to say the top is moving to the left.

 Also, you can tell what matter is as opposed to anti-matter because in a supercollider matter muons will be produced slightly more often than antimatter muons. Also, you're nearly undoubtedly made out of it.

Five miles or less. Five Planck distances or fewer.

The words "less" and "fewer" are applied to non-discrete and discrete values respectively. So in lines in supermarkets it should be "ten items or fewer", rather than "less". With regard to miles, you can have part of a mile, so it's five miles or less. With regard to a Planck distance you can't actually have less, so you need to have fewer of them not less.

There are fewer than 5 ^ 38 Planke lengths in a five miles.

There are less than 27,000 feet in five miles.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Naturalism Boilerplate.

I've written about the same before, borrowing heavily from Richard Carrier and with a line or two scrapped from John McCarty (of AI fame). I'm always impressed enough by myself that I keep reposting it here. I'm always amazed by the power of "I don't know, but it's not magic." because really there is a huge burden on anybody who would claim magic regardless of my ignorance on the subject, that it is rather doubtful that any reasonable review could find it an acceptable position.

Science as a tool has answered every mystery in the history of the world. Everything that we have previously not known, that we now do know, was brought under the umbrella by way of science. Throughout history however, theists have always claimed that behind every mystery has been the visage of the Divine Being. That behind every unknown there was a God; they have always been wrong. It is like having two horses and one has won every single race ever over millions of races and the other horse has lost each and every race throughout history. And, when presented with yet another race, another unknown, the answer isn't again to place your bet with the horse that has never won. But, rather to do the prudent thing and bet one the horse that has always won, to bet that the winner will be an unknown naturalist phenomenon.

Being honest is fine, and much desired, but when given a question about things that go bump in the night, a miracle cure, or something strange and currently unexplainable. You shouldn't ever claim it's supernatural. You should claim it's an unknown naturalistic phenomenon. "I don't know, but it's not magic." -- This isn't hubris or claiming to know everything, it's given the answer that has been right each and every time for every phenomenon throughout history. There's a lot to say about beauty, morality, life, death and existence. And even where ignorance abounds, the answer is still, "I don't know, but it's not magic."

Just because I don't have an answer, doesn't imply that you do. And even if I don't have an answer doesn't mean I can't rule out magic, spirits, or gods. After all, those have always been wrong. So unless you have a good reason to bet on, what has always been the wrong answer, you should perhaps accept that what has always been the right answer. "I don't know, but it's not magic." When you hear a gallop, you should think 'horsey', not zebra. If it's really strange, maybe you should think zebra, but you should never think unicorn.

Naturalism, and some of the more explicit forms of atheism, predict that a great many people will be wrong about a great many things, throughout history and contemporary culture. This amount of accurate predictions, about a great many and diverse people, is greater than most sociologist could dare to dream.  About science, the claim "there is nothing supernatural" has no equal in power and strength, for every question we've ever answered it has always been correct. About religion, the belief "there are no gods" finds accuracy in the predictions of the behaviors and results of practitioners beyond that of any guess. One need not have proof there are no gods, to be an atheist. One only needs to find that the evidence on the god question is on par with the evidence for the werewolf question.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science.

In 2001, rumors were circulating in Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumors with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her.

Medicine and medical science has been really bad over the years. I mean we are a bit better than ancient Greece to the 19th century when Medical Science was actually harmful, and you'd be more likely to die if you saw a doctor than if you didn't. As well as the hugely terrible issues of hygiene and the cutting off of limbs all willy-nilly. We've gotten really good at cutting people and having them live. And medicine managed to turn the tables and become quite useful, but it's still terrible science at times, with findings of rather massive points being flatly wrong. There were hundreds of studies showing the efficacy of antidepressants. Very reciently GlaxoSmithKline was fined $750 million dollars because they made Paxil that didn't work.

Some of the antidepressant Paxil CR produced at the plant was ineffective because a layer of active ingredient split from a layer of a barrier chemical during manufacturing, the government said, and some lots contained only the barrier chemical.

But, this seems to ignore the rather interesting fact that Paxil, even when made properly, doesn't work. It makes me happy that biology is working on cures for things like vaccines for HIV and cancer. If medicine worked on it it might end up being cured by prayer. Which a couple terribly constructed studies have said is effective in limited areas (one of 20 factors they checked for with a 95% confidence (one should pass by random chance)).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Needle in a Haystack: preterpossible

I needed a word that didn't exist. So I made it up. Preter meaning beyond but connoting that it might be within the realm of the possible. Finding a needle in a haystack is a common idiom. Although, I think the Mythbusters should check it, because beyond magnets, reason tells me the needle being far more dense will end up at the bottom of the haystack rather easily. It might actually just be slightly hard to see the needle but not remotely hard to find it. Get a needle an inch or two long, and it might be downright easy. In any event:

Preterpossible: Impossible, with the possibility of just being really really hard.
It's preterpossible to break 4092 bit encryption.
It's preterpossible to prove an optimal solution to a 100,000 node TSP.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Theunis, Catholicism, and the history of religion.

Theunis in the Bill Donohue post has been making some claims.

Loving Jesus etc. I have repeatedly spoken of Christianity in the third person. Jesus, That wasn't even his name, never claimed to be the GOD of the Jews. It took the RCC +300 years to elevate him to that status. Even the Jews and Muslims acknowledge him as a great teacher, no more.
Well, there's certainly parts of the Bible where it clearly says that Jesus is equal to God. These are largely late Trinitarian additions.

How many times must I repeat that the RCC persecuted Christians. They started the RCC not Christianity. Who made Peter a martyr?. Who set themselves up as THE ultimate, The RCC not Christians.
Certainly the church was not kind to heretics. It doesn't make them non-Christians. You're after all selecting a group of Christians you disagree with and saying that their beliefs don't count.

Wasn't Emmanuel (Jesus) one of the greatest Psychologists/Teachers of his time ?

No. And frankly just because Isaiah says that the coming Messiah will be called Emmanuel and instead the character is name Jesus, doesn't mean the name was changed. It means the prophecy was wrong.

The Jews, downtrodden as they were, were given new hope. The Jewish Government/King actually started the persecutions because they feared they would lose power over their subjects.
There's plenty of persecution to go around in the ancient world.

The Romans in their declining years saw the power they could again grasp by controlling the people and the RCC, their official organ, did their bidding.
That's a pretty terrible understanding of the fall of the Roman empire. The Romans suffered fifty years of civil war during which all of the emperors were assassinated one after another followed by a massive economic collapse. The best way to get out of such a thing is through a totalitarian state. Much like the Nazis helped Germany recover after the fall of the Weimar Republic, the totalitarian state tried to save Rome. However after the first tyrant, the Christians took over and helped ram it into the ground again. The RCC wasn't the last ditch effort of Rome it was just mostly dumb luck. Followed by the Holy Roman Empire which was neither Holy, Roman, or an Empire. But, the Christians basically lucked into control of a dying state and helped it stay that way for the thousand years of the dark ages.

Can we as humans start again and and with an open mind read what is actually there (although this is difficult in view of the edits and distortions) and not interpret it to suit ourselves.
 We could. But why bother? Even a perfect copy of a work of fiction is a work of fiction. Even a perfectly interpreted work of fiction is a work of fiction.

Godlike beings, in comparison to the people of that time, is a fact recorded in history by many diverse cultures and peoples, sometimes couched in very esoteric language which was more appropriate to that culture and their language of the time.
There's no indication of anything. The Bible has very little real history in it, and has even less Godlike insights. It's basically the book that a bunch of bronze and iron age nomads would write.

I am a realist. I love the truth. When necessary I test for what is motivating the statement.
You're a truth loving realist and you think the Bible was written by Godlike beings? Why? 

I believe anyone can have his beliefs/opinions. To be fanatical, fight over it, is nonsensical and detrimental to inner peace.

 I believe anybody can have beliefs and opinions on account of the fact that that's basic reality. No. To be confused about what reality is can be detrimental to inner peace. The indicators suggest that Fundamentalists are the most at peace with their beliefs, followed by the atheists, and then the mainstream Christians.

I have not in any one instance defended Christianity or any other persons beliefs, I have only indicated some facts that life has presented me with.

I didn't take issue with your lack of defense. I took issue with your statement that Roman Catholics aren't Christians.

That Donahue and the RCC are fanatics is a fact, but to fight with them is only adding fuel to the fire which could engulf and destroy both parties.

Only if you were so silly as to lose. The idea that because one argues against a pompous windbag  that it's going to be somehow an even fight is absurd. When I, or many other atheists, argue with religion and religionists it's basically spearing fish in a barrel. It's really not that hard to win.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mandelbrot died. And the world is a little dimmer.

Mandelbrot was one of the greats. He pretty much turned fractals into something math can discuss, and as it's one of the more important ideas of mathematics, it's one of the greater losses. I was just saying the other day that Mandelbrot is perhaps the most important mathematician of the 20th century.

Survivor, physics, rainbows and miracles.

So on last week's episode of Survivor one of the players revealed a touching heartwarming story about how he knew it was all okay after his father died. He was driving and looked in his rear view mirror and the back of his truck was filled with a rainbow, and he turned around and didn't see anything.

"Right there was when I knew that my dad was good."

Now, let's apply what we know from physics to unweave this story. Why would you be able to see a rainbow in your rear view mirror but not looking directly at the bed of your truck?

Well, because rainbows consist of numerous refraction and reflections of the sun among many various drops of water, within the drop themselves. And there's a bow that appears at your feet when you look down (usually with a hose you can see them down there) but they only occur when you look down at a specific angle (42°). And this is what changes dramatically between looking behind you and looking in the rear view mirror, the angle at which the light is is being reflected from the sun. Shift to less steep angle and the rainbow might not be there (and the angle seems spot on considering the angle from the truck bed to rear view mirror).. Because rainbows live in light, not in space. This is no stranger than you being able to see the sun by looking behind you but not seeing it in your rear view mirror.

Just as you can see what looks like like a wet road on a hot day quickly drying, some hundred feet ahead of you, while you're driving. But if you look straight down, you'll never see it look remotely shiny (the heat causes the light to refract and if it goes through enough atmosphere you'll see the sky where the road should be).

See, his father is just actually dead, and a rainbow doesn't change that. While the story isn't the sort of cheer you up magic one would claim, the rainbow is just as pretty as it ever was.. Science isn't cold. Rainbows are pretty and dead people are really dead. Science is about reality.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unweave a Rainbow, Poe and Science

Keats has a rather famous line in Lamia about cold science. Note that philosophy here refers to natural philosophy which was what science was called prior to about 1900 and awful is in the sense of fills with awe and more modernly would be awesome.

...                             Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
here was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, 
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.

 Poe wrote a sonnet along these lines, To Science:
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
    Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
    Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
     Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
    Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
    And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
    Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

And there are modern day iterations of this  line of thought, notably the Insane Clown Posse's song Miracles:

I see miracles all around me
Stop and look around, it’s all astounding
Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed

And these lines of thought are simply backwards. It's one thing to be stunned by the awesomeness of nature, but it isn't surface deep. If you understand how awesome it is, there's another layer of awesome underneath and seems to be awesome all the way down. It's isn't Vultures who wings are dull realities, but rather the Wright brothers looking at the wings of turkey vultures and noticing how they curl and use the idea to make the first really functional airplane. "How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise." how can't you? It's a great solution to a hard problem and nature had a 4 billion year head start. That somehow rainbows become less magical when you understand them. There's beauty in the understanding and that's added to the beauty of the thing.

I daresay some of this is just an understanding from religion. That religion is widely held to be a mysterious and wonderful thing. but everybody knows it's hollow and if you actually look at it you'll find that the emperor's new clothes aren't as fine and elegant as you've heard. That if you think of mystery by analogy to fake mystery and beauty with analogy to fake beauty, then it seems like all charms fly at the touch of cold philosophy, but in reality only fake charms fly when put to some basic questions. Real beauty however is magnified, the beauty of a butterfly's wing gives us great wisdom as to how to make non-volatile displays for next generation devices, and something as common as a spider building a web is a source of awe.

Looking at the world, finds beauty in abundance but God in nothing. And when you cast your wonderment in terms of the supernatural that things are either magic or they shit, then you've so grossly misapprehended reality to suppose that understanding that clam shells are really super strong cold ceramic technology with cross spaced fragments to prevent cracking and built by a decentralized process that looks like half recipe and half dance with proteins in lock step with unknown partners.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The movie, The Prophecy, and Islam.

For those who never saw it (like myself) the movie the Prophecy is a religiously filled adventure sort of movie where the Angel Gabriel launched a second rebellion of heaven and started a supernatural war. Much like an extension of the Book of Enoch (which isn't in the Bible but is where the rebellion of Heaven comes from) in that the angel Gabriel becomes a free agent, in a rebellion against God.

Interestingly, if one holds this as plausible theology (a huge stretch from the ground floor, but not for religion in general) it offers a rather novel criticism of Islam. If Gabriel rebelled against God, then the cornerstone of Islam could be entirely true and the result of absolutely no bad faith by any Muslim, and yet an evil religious anti-god mockery. The central story of Islam is that the Koran is the direct, unaltered work of God, as dictated by God through the angel Gabriel. Well, if the angel Gabriel was a free agent and didn't really speak for God, then he could have just invented the Muslim faith for shits and giggles, and claimed to speak for God. Likewise couldn't the Christians just claim that all Muhammad really knew was that he was talking to an angel who claimed to be Gabriel who claimed to speak for God. There's certainly a rather ready theological foundational attack against Islam by actually claiming it was invented by the Devil and mean it quite honestly. After all, how does one verify that the angel you are talking to is really who he claims he is and is speaking for who he claims to be speaking for? Since all of Islam is predicated on this claim, can't you undermine it by noting that the angel could have been lying. Then you'd establish that all of Islam and by extension all Muslims and Muhammad himself could all be perfectly good people and simply lead astray by the Prince of Lies. Since the story at the core of the Koran demands that the Koran isn't a first hand account of God but rather a third hand account, you could claim that Islam is false but all believers are simply mislead.

Yeah, I understand that the above is blasphemy and by the Hadith the clear punishment is my death. But, is it a justifiable thing because the entire belief is predicated on whether or not a particular angel was telling the truth, and there's plenty of pre-Islamic angelology which say that some angels are less than truthful. One could perhaps say that if the Koran was dictated by God that such concerns would be moot and God doesn't lie yadda yadda, but the interjection of an Angel messenger adds a rather amusing variable to be attacked epistemologically, how do you know that the angel was really Gabriel, and that he was really talking for God?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bill Donahue

Bill Donahue (the above is not intended for you to watch but to reference so you know who he is) is a jackass with a computer and like ten guys in a damn room whose entire job is to go apoplectic and antidisestablishmentarianistically react to any perceived slight of the Catholic Church.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Phelps v. Snyder heard by the Supreme Court.

I thought this case would have been settled in favor of the Phelpses a long time ago. But, hopefully it will be heard by the Supreme court and they will finally give the Phelps their justice.

The Phelps were doing their regular thing and protesting the funeral of a recently dead war vet. With the typical array of "God Hate Fags" and "Thank God For Iraq" signs. The father of the deceased saw the signs later after the funeral on the news and was distraught and sued the Phelps family and won an 11 million dollar judgment.

So at hand is whether the courts as an arm of the government have the right to punish the Phelps family solely on the content of their speech. At issue is whether the dissemination of unpopular speech is permitted if it hurts somebody's feelings.  That's obviously not something that should ever stop free speech.

I get some things like when free speech causes serious danger like yelling "Fire" in a theater or with regards to volume of the speech. You can't drive around a neighborhood in the middle of the night with a megaphone, regardless of the content of the speech. Here, what is at issue is entirely the content of the speech. Can you say things that make people feel bad. I hope you can, because I do that all the time. Am I really open to a lawsuit if I mock zombie Jesus and hurt somebody feelings?

Edit: bad verbage. 

Perpetual Motion and the Singularity.

Many futurists and transhumanists tend to focus, in part, on something called the singularity. The point of intelligence explosion where the world before is qualitatively different than the world after:

A technological singularity is a hypothetical event occurring when technological progress becomes so extremely rapid, due to positive feedback, that it makes the future after the Singularity  qualitatively different and harder to predict. It has been suggested that a singularity will occur during the 21st century, and there are several mechanisms by which a singularity could occur.

That at a certain point intelligence will become self-recursive and improvements to intelligence will lead to improvements to intelligence and eventually we'll have growing infinite intelligence, and the world will be a completely different place.

This is stupid.

It's based on a flawed assumption that you can tweak up intelligence and get greater amounts of intelligence. That just isn't the case. You can't just gather more and more intelligence and reach a point where you can use intelligence to make intelligence and then make more intelligence. Because, intelligence isn't a thing, it's a process and it takes real work to do. It's equivalent to evolution (I also mean this literally) and you don't get something for nothing. You can't have something that evolves to the point where it goes into superevolution. Evolution takes real work. This is the insight of Paley and the legacy of Darwin. You can't get it for free. You don't get solutions out of the blue like gifts from on high granted by your possession of intelligence as a skyhook. Intelligence is only and can only be a crane. You can only build from the ground up, and improve upon what you've already built. And while we're building better and faster, you don't at some point turn into a rocket ship and fly to the end of the universe abandoning your foundations.

There is an older and clearly example of this idea at work with regard to the idea of perpetual motion. That at some point with growing technological improvements the work out keeps improving and the energy in keeps decreasing and at some point these lines are going to cross and the energy in is going to exceed the energy out and we'll have a brave new world. Because once that happens, even if the amount is very slight we can use that energy to make more energy and more energy and more energy and soon we'll have limitless supplies of ever increasing energy.

If you apply computer power to intelligent pursuits the increases in computer power is going to make it much faster and easier to test more and more ideas and predictions and see if they are accurate or useful, but this is just going to make intelligent faster not more intelligent. You can have an intelligent computer that knows everything I know, and give it the same problem I'm given. And it might come to a consensus answer within a few milliseconds whereas it might take me a minute. And in some distant future, it might come to the answer I would come to in microseconds and it would still take me the minute. But that isn't making it any more intelligent.

I could live in super-slow motion for and exist for a thousand years, I wouldn't be any smarter. I could get to the answers faster relative to you, but my answers wouldn't be any better. I could do more research and spend more time on the problems, but I wouldn't transcend human knowledge or intellect and I wouldn't suddenly be excluded from science to determine truth from falsehood. I could understand the entire corpus of human understanding, and arrive at answers in mere seconds, or fractions thereof. But I wouldn't become magic. And even if I could modify what I am and make time go even slower for me and my life even longer, I wouldn't suddenly become magical or stop needing to do actual work to come to actual explanations. You cannot do experiments in your own head and come to true and impressive conclusions, you need to actually do the experiment and look at the real world to figure out how things work out. And while you could do this process hugely faster relative to others, it wouldn't matter how fast your processor was. You could be know everything I know and be as intelligent as I am, but run on an old 100 megahertz processor and come to my answer that takes a minute in five minutes, but five minutes or five nanoseconds, it's the same damned answer.

How much better is a chess computer that makes the best move it can in 1 minute than one that does it in 1 second? Would it be proper to argue that a faster chess computer is a "smarter" chess computer?

Spiritualism over religion.

Spirituality is personal, but religion is all about power. Religious organizations provide the perfect habitat for psychopaths to thrive in. 

The irony then is that in the case of the Roman Empire's abandoning of science in around the 2nd century and the Muslim abandoning of science in the 11th it was spiritualism and not religion at the core. Religions certainly have their dogmas but they often end up abusing the science or making unacceptable claims that can be scientifically rebuffed, they butt heads but religion doesn't really fully undermine science. However with regard to the dark ages it was spiritualism and the associated abandoning of scientific virtues that lead to it in the West. And the embracing of Sufi Islam and the spiritualism associated there which lead to the abandoning Baghdad as the scientific capital of the world.

Religions concern themselves with power, and though they may be commiserate with the evil galactic empire of Star Wars, the Empire still built death stars and allowed for interesting technological advances. Religion is certainly no friend to science, but science has only ever been killed by spiritualism. I fear the people who say "Science doesn't have all the answers" and "you can't really know anything" far more than those who claim that the universe was created by a middle eastern war god two thousand years after the Assyrians first brewed beer.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Keep your friends close...

Somehow I think the saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer", is rather terrible advice. Might I advise you keep your enemies either dead or really far away from you. I know it's a novel idea, but I daresay I'd want a good amount of empirical evidence in favor of the way it's currently phrased. I've read enough Sun Tzu to know that better answers "Keep your friends close and your enemies guessing." or "Keep your friends close and your enemies misled."

I don't think the prospect of keeping an eye on somebody should put you close enough to get bit. Also, most of the time having enemies is a bummer. Keep your friends close, and your enemies non-existent. It just sounds like crap advice as it's currently given.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In vino veritas

"You have everything in line... except for life."

A parable of drawers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Penis deflation and college credit.

Some men demand equal treatment at college. The college is being overrun by women and it's hurting them through some sort of psychic pain of a non-zero sum economic universe where somebody doing good means you do poorly.

In the spring of 2010, a group of academics gathered at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., to propose a new field of research: “Male Studies.” Not to be confused with Men’s Studies, which has been around for more than two decades, Male Studies is founded on the premise that men are now disenfranchised, and women’s success has come at their expense.

Sound counterintuitive? It may be. But those backing the proposal have some solid statistics behind them. For starters, since 2000, women have represented about 57 percent of enrollment at colleges in the United States, they consistently outperform males in high school, and are now earning more Ph.D.s. “The academic lives of men are systemically discriminated against.” said Lionel Tiger, a professor at Rutgers who spoke at the Staten Island event. “If this were happening to any other group, it would be cause for outcry.”

The problem here isn't that women are getting all the degrees, it's that women are trying to compete in the economic realities of the world.

Women need more fancy education to qualify for the same job as a man. A lot of jobs require that applicants either have a college diploma or a penis. And it some wonder that when push comes to shove the latter requirement didn't prove as useful to the company in an economic crunch (more men lost their jobs). As such, it likely isn't that odd that more women today are going to college, it does a lot more to job prospects than it does for men. Men with high school diplomas get jobs moving things and building things. Women with bachelors transition from prospects of very little pay or being a housewife to getting what men get with only high school diploma.

1 increased level of collage = 1 penis.

A decade or so ago an extra level of college was only worth half a penis. So you'd need about two extra to equal a man.

From 2002: Men with HS earn slightly more than women with BA/BS. Men with Associates earn slightly more than women with Masters. And Men with masters earned as much as women with doctorates.

Who knows, in the future, a penis might not even be worth half a college degree. And men with a high school diploma would need two penises to get paid as much a woman with a bachelors. But, there's certainly an absolutely terrible anti-men trend of penis deflation, and that just can't happen! If things continue like this, having a penis won't even be worth *ANY* college credit! You could have infinitely many penises and nobody would think you're any smarter than you are!

There's a joke somewhere here: Diploma, -oma, cancer.

A college diploma gives you cancer of the ego? Dipl cancer? There's a joke somewhere there.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Until the town went dry.

Prohibition era music is rather fun. I think Boardwalk Empire is going to be pretty successful as a show. And there's more than a few good parallels to draw to the prohibition of marijuana.

It seems odd that there's more money in an industry that is kept illegal. As such, there is considerable economic power behind marijuana and it's presently the main cash crop of the United States dwarfing corn, but wouldn't it fall down to the price of about wheat or sugar beats if it were fully legalized.

And if California legalizes and taxes it, isn't that just a way of profiting off the sustained efforts in other states to keep it illegal. Some analysis suggest that legalizing marijuana would net very little money for the California because without it being illegal the prices would drop rather quickly, but that would only happen if the rest of the states also made it legal.

So isn't that pretty much just a state monopoly brought about by silliness. I mean if you outlawed tobacco everywhere but North Carolina, then there'd be insane profits to be had by the state selling it at huge profits by funding the local white markets as well as the non-local black markets.

Is it really fair to profit off something that doesn't really do anything good? I mean, casinos are pretty nice, but if they went bankrupt would people be better off? I know Nevada would largely fade away and become a ghost town of producing nothing. And what if all the paper pushing money creation on wall street didn't exist. What if there were some many trillions of dollars that isn't backed by anything or produced by nothing more than slight of hand and bad investments. The first rumblings of that going away sent shockwaves through the economy and caused real hardship to real people. Why is it that fake economies are so successful at creating real wealth and real prosperity? Or is it all just a silly illusion? Are such things the economies form of digging and refilling a hole? Or are diamonds really worth what they cost in the store,  or are they worth what you can't really resell them for, or are they worth as much as a shiny bit of crystallized carbon should be worth, as in a few cents?

Prohibition brought about huge crime issues, and did mark the first time women (who weren't prostitutes) could drink with the men, and diamonds are bought and sold as blood diamonds to fund private wars, murder, and slavery. Are black markets crime simply a biproduct of undervalued resources being hugely overpriced? Would we be better off without casinos, wall street credit default swaps, overpriced shiny rocks, and illegal marijuana. Or would the economy really suffer without this fraud.

In an ecological system, it's almost never the plants that are the most interesting clunking along changing sunlight into usable energy, it's all the critters that eat the plants, and eat the critters, and live on the critters. It's all the parasites that makes nature so beautiful, it's only the plants that do the real work, but the rest of it is absolutely stunning. Do we need pointless do-nothing rules to make a vibrant economy? If we only employed people who made things, the unemployment rate would be much much higher than it is today and people wouldn't be able to buy things that the people made.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The gogolth digit of pi is 4.

"If this isn't true, I'll kill myself."

Is this a safe statement to make? Even with geometric expansion of computer power it seems quite likely that calculating the googolth digit of pi may not be done in my lifetime. Further, it might well be 4. Also the statement is not binding. And perhaps we can just keep upshifting the base until one of the bases actually is 4. In all likelihood any base greater than 5 should more or less have yet another set of odds up to base googol or so. I figure one could just keep trying.

So I think there's a way to make it true, and no real way to calculate it anyway (the best we've done is 5 trillion or ~10^12 so 1/10^88th as much as is needed). So I'd be safe with some sort of suicide pact based on pi. Or would I? Eh, doesn't matter either way. It's still a 4 in base-ten and suicide is contingent on non-4 in every base. If we assume it's normal and being unknown somewhat random, I have a 1/5th in base 5, 1/6th in base 6, 1/7th in base 7... or something I'd likely have to look up, let's just call it fifty fifty, but proving it would be an issue.

Cats in an Ikea. Because that's a good thing to know.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's a belief like that doing in a brain like you?

It isn't that I don't like people who believe silly things, and so I attack their beliefs. It's that I care about my fellow humans, and I think they are better than their beliefs. I see the best in people, and so I honestly think they can put away their childish things.That and I might be wrong, and the best way to get to the bottom of such things is through intellectual discourse.

Dance Monkey Dance. (Cheer Up and a change of pace).

This is actually a repost from 2007.

An oldie but a goodie. And it helps now that I accept that humans are monkeys.

Squinting at Science III

Hm. Now my posts are being deleted because disagreeing is very trollish and I shouldn't write so much.

My final reply which he's now taken to deleting. Having posted a large criticism of my posts and deleting what seems like a reasonable reply.

It went with the rest of the implication that he was somehow just some guy. It’s a bit like saying Mr. Newton thinks X, but scientists today disagree. He was a college professor and a fantastic scientist. You seemed to use “Mr.” to reinforce the general accusation that he was somehow being unreasonable. It’s not disrespectful in general but you seem to have a tone of disrespect that you’re reinforcing thusly.

* “offers long comment full of content I certainly agree with, then implies I do not. Quite a waste of words on his part, and such strawmanning is not appropriate for someone claiming to have truth as his objective.”

Oh, how dare I post an explanation of various aspects of history of science, to establish the point I’m trying to make. You give a false impression in the above article as well as in your paper. To make this point requires explaining a lot.

* “claims I said my paper “gave a ‘history of science’” when I said no such thing. The title of my paper makes it clear it is on methodological naturalism, merely one theme within the history of science. I really dislike being misquoted and strawmanned.”

Really. You said, and I quote: “Tatarize, it seems you have read neither my previous articles posted on this site, nor my article published on the history of science…”

Your article published “on the history of science” did, though the main thesis was MN, have some history of science there. It was poorly done, but you did say it was on history of science and it had a brief rundown of what some people might fathom the history of science is (Rodney Stark for example gives pretty much that same flawed rundown).

* “most egregiously suggests that I think Mr. Hartsoeker contributed nothing to science. My point was clear. There is no reason for us today to revert to an immature approach to science that unparsimoniously invokes imaginative solutions that fall in line with religious dogma. I poke fun at Mr. Hartsoeker in the context of the history of science in the same way I poke fun at myself when I was 10 and thought I had telepathy.”

I objected to the implication that you reiterate here that there is some sort of immaturity here. There is not. The solution wasn’t Hartsoeker’s, and it isn’t unparsimonious. It is the best conclusion given the evidence they had at the time. The reality is of genetics and embryology is unparsimonious. It’s actually a counter-intuitive reality and speculating about tiny people inside gametes is the only thing that made sense at the time. The problem is it was too parsimonious, infinitely regressive, and wrong.

* (Continued) “Neither does Isaac Newton, in spite of his enormous contributions, escape a bit of scorn for dabbling in alchemy, though many of us in the context of his age would have done the same.

Actually by the time Newton was dabbling in Alchemy it was largely considered bankrupt. He was a bit late to say that he was just “doing what all the kids were doing”. He gets scorn for that because, though he was very scientific about it, it was rightly viewed as unscientific at the time he was doing it.

* “Making fun of our blunders in our shared humanity over the ages is a healthy way to keep ourselves on track today. I’m sure most of you understood my playful article in the context of my previous satirical posts. One reader did not.”

The message one should take away is that in the history of science you can go down rather large blind alleys whether it’s preformationism or Phlogiston, good science can be wrong and we should be vigilant of that fact. It may always look wrong to us in retrospect, but it didn’t seem wrong at the time.

It is not one man’s immature blunder, it was science at the time going down a spectacular blind alley just to figure out that it was wrong.
 Perhaps I'm the crazy one and disagreeing with the false impressions somebody gives really is somehow sinister.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Squinting at Science. II

Wow. That went over like a lead balloon. I posted that comment to the blog and hrmf. The point was that the main implication of the article is wrong because preformationism was a rather large tent of most of biology at that time. Implying that it was therefore it was just this one guy, who looked through his microscope, and decided that it really was little people, and found some connection to the Bible to back him up but he was "amazingly" rebuffed by science. Is a pretty huge error in the history of science. He was a scientist, a professor, and a biologist, and a pretty good one at that, and the theory was the scientific theory of the time.

Well apparently I'm a pointless nitpicker who is just looking for a fight, and who hasn't read the authors other work, and am obsessed with a throwaway line from my post. In response, I noted that I'd eagerly accept surrender rather than a fight. I read his other suggested work, and my main point still stands.

He wrote a paper on Methodological Naturalism a year or so back, which was pretty so-so and suffers from a number of clear errors but also suffers pretty seriously with regard to the history of science. In that he thinks about as much of ancient science as Stark does. His main point in the paper is that allowing for supernaturalism is what causes science to not work and once you get rid of that science takes off like a bat out of hell. He's clearly wrong throughout and a proper understanding of the history of science would correct him. The father of anatomy Herophilus did a lot of really good work trying to answer religious questions. He did live vivesections on animal brains to find out what parts of the brain controlled what to answer the question "where is the soul?" So I go through all this trouble to address what is clearly an odd claim that the dirt obvious mistakes in the article would suddenly vanish if I read some 20-page paper on a different subject.

Arg! And I don't just say that because it's Talk Like a Pirate Day, I mean it, arg... what a pain in the ass.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Squinting at Science.

De-conversion has a nice little article about the preformationism and somehow comes to the wrong conclusion and goes for the quick claim rather than properly explaining that that's how science works and what it does. There's a lot of really good ammo against religion in the history of science and so getting it wrong is a terrible thing to do. As I'm a big enough fan of Richard Carrier and History of Science as well as preformationism I posted a well researched and quite pointy comment to the blog. However, since it's half a month old, it might not get noted or addressed. So I decided to post it here as well, because that way I can be sure that nobody will see it!

BTW, the self-deprecation is simply a no-lose. Either self-deprecating and funny or it's true and sad but if it's true then nobody will see it and know how sad it actually is, however if somebody sees it then it's just self-deprecating and funny.

 As for the article at hand...

In the 15th century, Nicolaas Hartsoeker, after squinting though his microscope at ejaculate, became so convinced that each sperm was actually a little man (homunculus), ...

Incredibly, scientists today have rejected the theory of Mr. Hoarsoeker. Scientist now claim that sperm do not at all resemble little men. But the track record of biblical insight into natural phenomena has suffered very few setbacks as fundamentalist will attest. It was simply a misunderstanding or misapplication of scripture they will inform you. They’ll get it right next time.

This article gives some rather clear misconceptions about the preformation debates and the nature of science and religion.

First, it didn't occur in a vacuum, and the debate itself was not non-scientific, it was actually the best conclusion they could muster at the time (that's what science always is!). Nicolaas Hartsoeker was actually a scientist himself by any measure. He taught Huygens how to make telescopes. Was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and eventually taught at a university. Calling him "Mr." is just silly and disrespectful.

Secondly, you seem to give full credit to Nicolaas Hartsoeker for all the intellectual thoughts on the ideas of preformationism, while he did do the quintessential drawing on the subject he never said that that was what he saw, and most of the presented ideas were common. For example the idea that one homunculus would be inside another ad infinitum was largely the contribution of Nicolas Malebranche who was an ovist rather than a spermist like Hartsoeker. He was the first to come up with the idea that there would be one little person inside another inside the eggs of all the women going back to Eve, like little Russian nesting dolls. The fact that it provided a religious argument doesn't mean that it wasn't the best conclusion they had given the evidence. That was just bonus.

We see little people grow into bigger people and have children. Tracking this back it does stand to reason that bigger people should have really tiny people in them to make this happen. And those people should be in the gametes. Though, which gamete has the little person is a matter for debate. Such early science still has impact today as the word spermatozoa means "seed animal" as the discoverer of sperm was a spermist and thought that his discovery, because it moved around like animals, was easily more likely the source of such animation, rather than the egg.

This was the science of the 17th century (note Nicolaas Hartsoeker lived 1656-1725 that's 17th and 18th centuries not 15th, which would have been in the 1400s), and just because it was a bit more religious than science is today doesn't mean it wasn't science. A lot of good science got done asking religious questions for example Herophilus in the negative 2nd century was one of the first anatomists and performed live vivisections of animal brains to identify which specific part controlled which specific sense to answer the question of "where does the soul resides?" Galen did remarkable work in the 4th century combating those who claimed that the body was simple enough to come about by chance or simple progression from natural forces.

You can't say look at this idiot who made up this stupid theory all by himself and it ties into religion and therefore religion is stupid but science rejects that idea because science is awesome. He was a scientist. Scientists use to be very commonly Christian and very commonly theistic. As time went by, those living the truly scientific life would no longer conclude God, but eventually accepted a rational deism as it became the end result of a functional epistemology. However, after Darwin, atheism rather than deism became the end result of respecting truth more than desire.

The above blurs this line and the truth is far more entertaining. It isn't that science rejects religion out of hand. But rather science investigates the truth where ever it exists and compares those results to reality. It isn't that science is anti-Christian, it's that science is pro-reality, and reality has a strong anti-Christian bias.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Americans have an accent.

I'm really surprised.

Button. Cotton. Mountain. Bill Clinton. We Americans say buttn, cottn, mountn whereas other folks actually pronounce vowels between the 't' and the 'n'. Freaks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marian Call (The Nerd Anthem).

<a href="">I'll Still be a Geek After Nobody Thinks it's Chic (the Nerd Anthem) by Marian Call</a>

Sometimes I forget that awesome things are not universally known. I must show them to my lurkers who don't exist, but I don't hold that against any of you. In fact, you're like gods among men in that respect.*

*If you followed that logic, have a cookie**.

** I haz cookie but I eated it? Sorry, no actual cookies will be given. Though, this is about as awesome as having a cookie.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dara O'Brian Homeopathy & Nutritionists vs. Science

It's a great video in general, but it does make the same point about science and having all the answers that I made the other day.

Dumbpiphany (SMBC)

Sometimes there are new words that are absolutely perfect because you can recall doing that several times in the past.

And for the searching requiring some kind of text:

Dumbpipany: The realization that the reason the entire conversation has been difficult to follow is that you're talking to an idiot.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"I just don't think science has all the answers."

This common trope is a rather apparent and idiotic deepity. Anybody who says it should be judged in the harshest of light.

Deepity is a term coined by Daniel Dennett  in his 2009 speech to the American Atheists Institution conference. It refers to a statement that has two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false, or meaningless with respect to this deeper meaning. 

It's quite true. Science doesn't have all the answers. If we had all the answers we'd just have a huge collection of answers and we wouldn't be doing science. We wouldn't need to figure things out if we had all the answers. That's what science is, figuring it out. Does this work? No. Does this work? No. Does this work? No, but why did it do that? Hm. -- Science is about figuring out how things work by testing how we think they might work against reality which knows how they actually work. We figure things out and learn new things and have new ideas about how the world works and how some really cool stuff works out. But, it doesn't have *ALL* the answers. This is absolutely true, but science is the only method we've ever found for finding any answers about the world (outside of some limited truths gleaned by math) and understanding anything about the world. The trivial trueness of the statement that 'science doesn't have all the answers' doesn't for a moment suggest the inane falseness of the implication: something else has some answers.

That's the idiotic nature of the statement, it isn't in that fact that science doesn't have all the answers. It's in the implication that therefore naturalism has competition. It's a bit like having a horse race between two horses called 'Supernaturalism' and 'Naturalism', and the horse for naturalism has won every single race over millions of different races and supernaturalism has never ever won any race ever in any matchup in all of human history. And then somebody coming around and saying "Well, naturalism hasn't won every future race yet!" -- Well, sure, that's obviously true, but who the hell should we bet on? It hasn't won those races yet, but every race that has every been won was won by naturalism, so why should the prospect of potential future races ever imply that supernaturalism is a good bet? -- I'll give you a hint: IT FRAKING ISN'T!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I think my idea got used on the Atheist Experience.

Back in March, I recommended that rather than do pause bars they switch the background after the announcements. On account of having a fancy background thing that they can easily change and that pause bars would be nearly impossible to find if you were bouncing around.looking for em. It started happening later on in March. Then on #668 Matt said after the announcements "So now you can change the background graphics if you remember. It's replaced the pause bars." ~6:20

"Yeah me!"

While this blog has been mentioned in passing before (I posted a dictation of the Jesus Loves the Little Zygotes and my blog noting I was catching up on the show was the first hit, enough to warrant mentioning in the show(non-prophets radio)). And the guest on #668 is Aron Ra, who is a hero of mine and once used a demotivator than I made in a video. The idea for which was taken from the Atheist Experience #540.

I have sub-quasi-fame sufficient to influence some with quasi-fame.

*takes a bow*

*shoots some naysayers with said bow*

*shoots the homograph-pun haters with the bow*

Computer cases are backwards.

You know, I'm going to turn my computer backwards from now on, because reversed is as close to correct as anything. Computer cases are backwards in general. I have like 2 silly USB plugs up there and like 8 on the back. All my wires are here. I don't even have a DVD rom or anything on the front. Just a couple lights and pointless bits of nonsense. There's really no reason to need access to the "front" at all. And the back has every important wire and plug there is. So why is my silly computer pointing the worthless end at me?

I'd really like a case that takes such things into account. I don't need the power supply there and it can be moved. It doesn't have to look like cold steel. One could properly give easy access to all the wires, and plugs and such without making it look like something nobody should see. In fact, if you moved the power supply to the far side, you could easily have room for a DVD-Rom drive at the top. And a few buttons and lights. Really, all the harddrives and such should be stored in the back and the motherboard and add-on card access stuff should be in the front. The closest thing to a proper case like this is to turn the computer around. It should properly consist of a mother board staring at you, one 5¼ bay at top, power and reset buttons. and the back sides of the card bays. The back of the computer should be a bunch of harddrive bays.

I realized this a bit after turning my computer "backwards" and realizing it was 1) easier, and 2) that I would never need to turn it around. Forward mount the damn motherboard and put my harddrives in the boonies. Which would be right below the power supply by the way (hows that for easy).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Indext: Seen and Not Heard

Indexed is a great blog of indexed cards and observations. Also, awesome.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mutant Christianity, a disagreement.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.
She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.
Apparently more and more Christian teens are treating Christianity like a self-help sort of deistic sort of God is out there to help you with your struggles kind of faith. This is making them abandon religion at an alarming rate. Because, everybody knows that the real faith is that Jesus demands that you act like his slave and do exactly what he says or you will burn forever in loving hellfire. This impure form of Christianity is the reason why teenagers abandon religion in droves. -- I disagree.

I think the fact that Christianity is able to morph into an amorphous blob of God is Love, is one of the few reasons why it's at all surviving. It really has become like a software license and "Christians" scroll to the end and click "I agree". While this results in the nominally faithful, who are happy to invoke paroxysmal reactions to atheism and pay lip service to the idea of Christianity, and lends a certain amount of credit to Christianity for having followers, in the same way that Microsoft tries to measure the using of Internet Explorer™ by the number of times it's installed (it's installed on my system, but I never use it), rather than the browser based traffic. It's a bit like when religions leave people on the rolls even though they quit a long time back. But, it gives a very general idea that paying lipservice to religious ideas of a virtue.

That this is done, is the reason why Christians are still "Christians". It isn't that this is the reason why they lose their faith, but rather a stop gap measure used to prevent them from losing their faith. If all the wishy washy nonsense was dropped from religion and they were only permitted to state their beliefs, everybody would walk away in droves.

The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.

You'd be amazed how many "Christians" cannot name any five books of the Bible. It seems a lot like all one needs is a bit of momentum and a change in the cultural zeitgeist that promotes Christian ethos as positive ethos. If not for all the wishy-washy self-help god-is-love crap, it would seem as wounded as it is.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

Yeah, God is like a cheerleader who wants you to be happy. Why focus on hellfire and the fact that you are to give away all your things and go out and preach the word to the unconverted. Although, really it seems this study would argue that you really need to preach the word to the converted, because apparently they are doing it wrong.

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and don't rock the boat. In reality, if you're trying to get by in life. Those are great bits of advice. And while I'm certainly in favor of the former as a pretty universal moralistic approximation of Tit-For-Tat, I'm not sure the latter is called for if you think the boat is heading towards some rocks, you should rock it. You really should go ahead and stand up for your beliefs and be firm and articulate. Sure it makes you seem arrogant or strident, but if you're right, then you're already a majority of one. And, this is the sense that Christians are right when they accuse atheists of being like evangelicals. Sure, we atheists don't evangelize but we do not subscribe to the doctrine of be niceness where nice is defined as 'shut the hell up'. Atheists, like Evangelicals, talk about religion. That's all they really mean about it.

More teens may be drifting away from conventional Christianity. But their desire to help others has not diminished, another author says.

Duh, because Christianity has nothing in the way of motivation towards charity. It's simply hijacked charity. People have charity, and to claim that Christians have some sort of monopoly will end up causing you to be surprised when atheists are moral or when people still are charitable.

A parent's radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.

As a potential stop gap, the study author argues that parents can make some dramatic appeal, some grand gesture to bring their children back into the fold. And while turning down a job  and spending a summer abroad may seem a little weaksauce and fail to convey the message needed. After all charity isn't diminished, what has gone away is the theological underpinnings that God did not come to bring peace but a sword and that anybody who is not ready to hate their family, isn't ready to be Jesus' disciple. What's really needed is something that shows commitment to Christianity without being charitable in the mainstream sense, I highly recommend murdering abortion doctors accordingly. Now that's radical, and your kids won't see God as some vague cheerleader in the sky after that.

"If you don't say you're doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people," Dean says. "It doesn't register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots."

If you don't tell your children that you're being nice because of religion, then your kids will just think you're being nice. They don't realize that religion makes you live differently, unless you're living exactly the same as other people but giving credit to religion. WTF? Seriously? Unless you tell your children that religion made me do this, they might credit it to something more obvious and mundane and true. Unless you show children that charity must be hijacked, and that secular values of love towards your fellow humans are to be relabeled as Christian Love™, then they won't understand that the exact same actions taken by others for the sake of being reasonable people  are not different. That's not a deep and life altering faith, that's the relabeling of generic humanistic values as religious values.

Don't be nice as you're apt to do even without orthodox faith, be nice and say it's Christian niceness!

Thank goodness that no other religions thank goodness, or that might undermine Christianity. After all, non-Christians eat babies.