Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pocket watches, rocks, and trees.

No - that just tells you about the difference between a pocket watch and a rock. It doesn't tell you about the complexity or the simplicity of the processes that caused/created them.

I'm not saying evolution is complex or simple or that the particular geophysics required for the production of some particular rock is complex or simple. I'm saying that there seems to be something fundamentally different about the two products (rocks and pocket watches) and something fundamentally similar about (pocket watches and trees). That there is something fundamental about the productions which is could allow dumb and ignorant processes to create rocks but seems to require what we typically see as intelligence to create pocket watches and trees.

The useful complexity of things in nature which exceeds all other non-evolutionary processes by several orders of magnitude fails to exceed similarly some of the products of man. That works of intelligent engineered products and results of evolutionary processes are in some ways similar and thus in some ways does imply something fundamentally similar about the processes which created them. I simply differ with creationists, cdesign proponentsists, and design proponents that this implies that intelligence explains the works of evolution; evolution explains itself. Rather, I think that the universal acid of evolution flows the other direction, that evolution, perhaps, explains intelligence. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Design with/without a designer.

I guess we can talk about design without the existence of a designer, but I must confess it still strikes me as a bit odd.

Well, it shouldn't. I'm okay with a bit of personification of evolution. Evolution is the designer for lack of better words. The standoffishness of the keeping away from any sort of intentional stance or subtle hints that the products of nature are akin to intelligently designed products is largely an overreaction to Creationists. It's a pretty required overreaction because if you give Creationists a finch, they'll take an isle. But, I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm actually okay with saying that nature is intelligently designed, it's designed by evolution and evolution is synonymous at its core with intelligence. If you want to worship the "Intelligent Designer" then you're your own bizarre characterization of somebody foolish enough to worship evolution. I'm actually okay with it because I think it's absolutely damning to creationism as well as being true. I think there's some very core connections between the well understood idea of evolution and the more vague not really explained and pseudo-skyhook of intelligence.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Internet is smarter than us all...

It's just the nature of things. If the internet were a person it would be smarter than anybody.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Math Class Makeover?

I've always been of the opinion that math classes are way too much into learning the "steps" rather than treating mathematical operations like tools. But there's certainly a lot more to be had in teaching children the relationships of mathematical problems to reality.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fox News Fail.

How about you pitch a few less softballs failtown?

I've seen Dan Barker do a lot worse, but hitting on all cylinders and being given time to respond. You fail Fox News.

Friday, May 7, 2010

QI and religion

QI is a fantastic show that I absolutely love. It doesn't air in the US but it's still absolutely great. Being British, they have a bit more freedom when it comes to religion. I wish anything like this would show up on US television.

Apparently we do have some Neanderthal DNA.

I wasn't convinced that we didn't. Apparently we do. But what's more is the gene flow only seems to go into the human population and not the other way around. My previous speculation on this topic was largely concerning the fact that it would be human women rather than neandertal women who would be having sex with the other group. If that were the case then all the mitochondrial DNA would track to human populations in Africa. Allow me to offer a novel theory as to what happened to the Neanderthals... human girls were prettier.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A poem for the Oklahoma legislature

I'll never be remotely that good at poetry or even conveying emotion.

(via Pharyngula (though the idea of somehow giving the Pharyngula more traffic is amusing))

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Churches, Tax Exemption, and the Constitution.

In a story about a guy claiming to be part of a church property because he owns a defunct church and put his house in the church's name and refuses to pay even basic assessments we are lead back to the basic problem of tax exemption with regard to constitutional law.

A commenter noted:
"I'm sure some will call it unconstitutional, but I believe it's high time for the IRS to explicitly define what a "church" really is."

Yes. That's unconstitutional. The last thing the government should ever do is decide who is or is not a church or what is a religious organization and what is not. Scientology gets tax exempt status whereas various Humanist organizations get told they aren't a religion and many small religions are outright denied. It's absolutely unconstitutional to have the federal government deciding what is or is not an establishment of religion.

So you ask, how do we prevent asshats like Mr. Shields here from saying they are churches if there's no governmental overlord? We don't. The government should tax everybody equally regardless if they are religious or not. If you tax everybody equally then there's no point to claiming that you're a church when you're not because there's no benefit to it.

Everybody pays taxes.
--(Except Churches)

That "except churches" line is a law respecting an establishment of religion. It's that silly unconstitutional addendum that forces the IRS to make even more unconstitutional judgment calls as to who is and is not a religion. It shouldn't matter at all. Taxes pay for public services and everybody uses them. Some people here advocated that we should deny this guy public services because he doesn't pay for them. But, what about all the legit churches that similarly use public services and are tax exempt? Shouldn't we likewise tear up their roads? The only proper non-convoluted solution to the problem is to simply everything and tax everybody equally regardless.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The best advice I ever gave...

Ego surfing brings back so many memories...


The best advice I ever gave.

Donrite asks:

Hi all, need help and or advise. My girlfriend of 2 years and 1 child wants to stop having sex a her new year's resolution. She says because we're not married and that she's not living a godly life. So my question is should I call it quits or just cheat. I really don't know what to do. I could understad this better if the relationship started out that way, no problem. But she cutting me cold turkey.

My advice:

Your options seem to be break up or cheat? The thought of marriage never occurred to you? Even after two years and a kid? Yeah. I say break up. You'll be doing her a favor, you sound like a creep.

ZOMG! Swoon! Woo!

AronRa has seen something that I did! The internet is a small world.

(7 minutes in, it should start there).

The word perspective is better than worldview because a fraction of your worldview is not itself a worldview. But, it's clearly a modification of my original demotavator which got some degree of popularity!

It's like some fractal I stole that I plugged into an internet app and shortened a concept by somebody else has gone platinum and actually reached one of my intellectual heroes.

And to bring it all back around, the fractal I stole originally to make this piece of work was taken from a post about the fractal nature of the internet and how  the internet flows around and everything loops around at different scales of resolution. They, in turn, attributed the art to It really does seem that that the internet is a very large-small world.

Ego Surfing Gold. 1000th post.

Ego surfing is a fun activity. You can find several old discussions that you never knew about or strange twitters about demotivators that get translated into Esperanto or many other things. This find is however a strange thing that harks back about four years ago to the first post I made to this blog which was simulposted to the (edit deadlink)About Agnosticism/Atheism (edit deadlink) Forum and actually (edit deadlink) got traction on the other site that I never knew about. It's weird.

The posts itself was about hemisphere differences, wrestling with faith, and the typical categories of religious beliefs. I'm still on board with much of what I said then, but I have a bit more nuance in my understanding. I do think there is certain truths with emotionally accepting that God exists while intellectually not accepting it at all and I think the answers to the question "Why do you believe in God?" are very revealing in these cases.

It's also pretty nice to hark back to my first post here for another reason, this is my 1000th post to this blog. I've now posted to this blog about an average of once every ten days for all of my life (I turned 10,000 days old last July), though the blog started back in September of 2006.

Many arguments concerning the economics of global warming have the same conclusion.

It is not economically feasible or profitable to save the world.

Sadly this seems true for many things. You could go to a lot of trouble to try to clean up the oceans or fix things but it costs a lot of money to do so as such things are rarely ever profitable.