- The Universe of Discourse : Moonpig: a billing system that doesn’t suck
- cartesiandaemon linked to this old blog post about designing a billing system. I’ve never designed a billing system, but it was interesting anyway.
(tags: software billing moonpig object-orientation database accounting pobox.com design perl)
- Armando Iannucci: It’s time for a very British revolution
- “I call it Rump Politics, because it is so clearly marked by an admission that it is for the few.” “In the last election, the three main parties succeeded so magnificently in drawing a curtain of silence around their future plans for government, that the dominating policies of the past five years have all been ones that simply were not discussed in the election campaign or mentioned in the party manifestos. These policies were: £9,000 university tuition fees, the bedroom tax, the total reorganisation of the NHS and 40 per cent cuts in local government. Put together, it’s a stark programme. Not an iota of it was mentioned during the 2010 campaign. This time round, both the main TV debates were conducted before the parties published their manifestos. No wonder they felt like talks about nothing. Is it any wonder that people feel disconnected from Westminster?”
(tags: politics election rump labour conservatives armando-iannucci)
- Justin Schieber on Twitter: “Nobody just lacks belief in unicorns. We all believe (for good reason, mind you) that they are fictions. So too is it the case with gods.”
- Justin Schieber (an atheist) argues against the claim that “atheism is just a lack of belief”. This seems fair enough: what atheists tend to use the claim for is to say that they don’t have a duty to rebut any random stuff someone comes up with, but in fact, we consider the eixstence of gods and unicorns unlikely based on our background knowledge and the lack of expected evidence (which is evidence of absence), and this is a legitimate belief.
(tags: belief god atheism theism unicorns evidence epistemology)
- 60 Years On: Academic Atheist Philosophers Then & Now : The Critique
- Graham Oppy reviews 60 years of atheist thought in philosophy. Interesting stuff. Is it true to say that people think sceptical theism means that a theist should not be convinced by the evidential problem of evil? I thought that sceptical theism had problems of its own, but I rely on people like John Danaher to digest the literature for me rather than reading journals or anything…
(tags: graham-oppy atheism philosophy theodicy religion)
- Faith vs. Facts – NYTimes.com
- “a broad group of scholars is beginning to demonstrate that religious belief and factual belief are indeed different kinds of mental creatures. People process evidence differently when they think with a factual mind-set rather than with a religious mind-set. Even what they count as evidence is different. And they are motivated differently, based on what they conclude. On what grounds do scholars make such claims?”
(tags: faith facts psychology religion anthropology scott-atran)
- Britain Uncovered survey results: the attitudes and beliefs of Britons in 2015 | Society | The Guardian
- The Graun surveyed about 1000 people and weighted the results according to the UK’s demographics. Among other things, the bit about religion was interesting to me: their survey said “A majority of Britons (82%) do not actively practise a religion and a clear majority of the population (61%) agree with that “These days religion is a negative influence in the world rather than a force for good.” Unsurprisingly, those who associate with a religion are less likely to hold this view.￼”
(tags: survey britain secularism religion belief attitudes politics guardian)
- God Doesn’t; We Do: The apologist two-step–McGrew and Marshall on Boghossian
- Argues that Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” use “faith” in a very similar way to the way Boghossian does, namely “We mean that the less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge.”
(tags: faith peter-boghossian apologetics religion)
- The economists’ manifesto – FT.com
- The FT asks a random selection of economists what they’d do if they were PM. A whole lot more sensible than the politicians’ one.
(tags: economics politics FT finance)
Over on top cosmologist Sean Carroll’s blog, there’s a guest post by his fellow top cosmologist Don Page, who is a Christian. Page was responding to Carroll’s debate with William Lane Craig. Page does not find Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument persuasive, but has his own reasons for being a Christian, which you can read about over there (spoilers: maybe God is the simplest explanation for the fact that the universe is orderly; also the Resurrection happened).
The comment thread beneath the post is huge and goes off in all sorts of interesting directions. Page makes use of Bayes’ Theorem in his arguments. There are some people who use in their day jobs (rather than just reading Less Wrong and bullshitting, as I do) who respond to him, notably Bill Jefferys, staring here.
I’ve been commenting on and off. I reconstructed the threads I got involved in as the lack of threaded commenting over there makes it difficult to follow. I’ve been reading Peter Boghossian’s “A Manual For Creating Atheists” (which I hope to post about at some point) so I was trying for some Socratic dialogue and questioning of “faith” as a means of knowing. See how I got on:
- On Occam’s Razor and what we mean by “simple”.
- On whether the Fall of Man changed the whole universe and if it didn’t, where the boundary between Fallen and un-Fallen physics was.
- Of Miracles, with the ugly broad ditch and Hume, of course.
- Simon Packer’s claims to have done and seen faith healings.
- My response: why doesn’t God heal amputees and raise the dead these days?
- Simon Packer’s claims that Christians can raise dead people.
- My followup questioning whether he’d believe such claims about other religions, among other stuff.
- Simon’s followup telling me to trust in God and lean not on my own understanding (I used to know a song about that).
- My followup, asking if he’d obey a call to trust in another god without understanding it.
- Simon’s followup.
- My followup: Christianity seems to entail belief in demons, although it’s not clear whether Prof Page believes in them. Accusations of “ultra-rationalism” are Straw Vulcan arguments.
- Don’t worship science, feed it. I also ask what “faith” is.
- Simon attempts to define faith.
- My followup: how do we know when a strong feeling of being sure is legitimate? (Simon’s said it isn’t always)
- Simon’s followup: the Gospel is true and you need to respond to it.
- My followup: would you believe someone who said “The Koran is true and you need to respond to it”?
I was interested in Daniel Kerr’s comments (for example, here, here, and finally here, in response to one of mine). He says that simplicity depends on a choice of mathematical language, but I thought this was just a constant factor. However, the comments rapidly go off into model theory and stuff about the Axiom of Choice, so I got lost. Can anyone comment on what he’s saying and whether he’s right?
- Peter Boghossian vs Tim McGrew – YouTube
- Here’s an “Unbelievable” show in which Boghossian (“A Manual For Creating Atheists”) talks to Tim McGrew, who’s reasonably well known for his arguments in favour of belief in miracles. I’ve linked to a set of comments from “MrShamuto” where he undertakes more or less the process Boghossian describes in the books, of Socratic dialogue with “AdeToz”, a Christian. It is long and occasionally interrupted by other people who are bonkers, but it’s interesting to see Boghossian’s stuff in action.
(tags: street-epistemology epistemology peter-boghossian tim-mcgrew philosophy evidence unbelievable premier christian radio socratic)
- W00tstock 5.0 – George RR Martin vs. Paul and Storm – YouTube
- The singers of “Write like the Wind, George RR Martin” get a surprise.
(tags: game-of-thrones grrm george-rr-martin funny video wootstock)
- List of testimonies from people who just know their religion is true
- amymea, writing in the ex-Mormon Reddit, takes to task someone who argues that the “testimony of the spirit” is good evidence that Mormonism is true, by listing a bunch of other people who had strong feelings upon reading their own religious texts.
(tags: mormonism reddit feelings faith religion evidence)
- Advanced Trolley Problems
(tags: philosophy funny comic ethics trolley-problem)
- What I’ve Learned About Female Desire From Reading
- Mallory Ortberg is fun. “100% of women want to have sex with a man who embodies the fox version of Robin Hood from the cartoon Robin Hood, but most do not actually want to have sex with a fox or a man dressed as one.”
(tags: mallory-ortberg funny reading sex desire books)
I’ve been talking elsewhere, so I thought I’d make some posts about that.
Previously, I talked about the push to introduce codes of conduct for lindy hop events in the wake of a high profile sexual assault case. Over on Reddit, /r/SwingDancing saw quite a bit of discussion of the whole business, as you’d expect.
Someone calling themselves The Logical Lead started a Reddit discussion about a blog post of his and another discussion about where the boundaries of flirting are. His burden seems to be that Mobtown Ballroom’s Code bans flirting and victimises men, because of the third rule, which begins “Don’t treat the ballroom like a pick-up joint.”
He makes the true point that, in the recent case, things were made worse because the perpetrator was a famous and popular teacher. But he then went off the rails in saying that the community’s reaction was victimising men by targeting them rather than only dealing with the abuse of fame, and even implying that the codes would be abused by popular men to corner the market in women. I commented saying that, although the recent case was certainly about the misuse of fame, the discussion that followed allowed many women talk about problems they’d had, most of which were not with famous teachers.
On the question of differentiating flirting and harassment, this thread linked to Dogpossum’s own guide to dating dancers. Some people quibbled about Dogpossum’s advice, but I think the point is that if you’re asking how to do it and not fall foul of a code of conduct, you’re saying you’re not sure of your social skills and need rules. If you are skilled enough not to creep people out anyway, you can probably treat them more as guidelines.
I also bigged up the Northerners’ STEPS code and their FAQ, where they make it clear that “we certainly aren’t suggesting that dancers aren’t allowed to form romantic relationships at our events (including, a-hem, extremely short relationships)”.
On Metafilter, Reddit has a reputation as a terrible place full of MRAs, libertarians and other ne’er do wells, but The Logical Lead didn’t get a very good reception for his stuff, so I suppose it depends which sub-reddits you’re talking about.
- The Sad Futility of Trying to Stop Planes Crashing | VICE | United Kingdom
- “There’s a rule of thumb when you’re designing a complicated system, which says that when you get to a point where you’re applying fixes to fixes it may be time to step back and reconsider the whole thing.”
(tags: flight 911 aviation terrorism crash cfit security)