- The Millions : One Fixed Point: “Sherlock,” Sherlock Holmes, and the British Imagination
- Why we love Sherlock.
(tags: sherlock sherlock-holmes britain television books)
- 13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission | British InfluenceBritish Influence
- The Heil lied about Romanian immigration to the UK. This isn’t that surprising, but it’s nice to see someone do the research to prove it.
(tags: dailymail fail journalism lies uk romania immigration politics)
- The Descent to C
- Simon Tatham introduces C to people who’ve only worked in high level languages, the innocent little darlings. You ‘ad array bounds checking? You were lucky!
(tags: C programming language)
- The Liberal Democrats face a true test of liberty | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer
- “The real scandal in the Liberal Democrats is not leading the news. Extremists are menacing the career and life of a Liberal Democrat politician and respectable society hardly considers these authentically scandalous threats to be a scandal at all. The scandal, in short, is that there is no scandal.”
(tags: islam libdems liberal-democrats nick-clegg islamism freedom twitter mohammed)
- The Millions : Read Me! Please!: Book Titles Rewritten to Get More Clicks
- Classic literature titles re-written as those click-bait headlines you see spreading around Facebook: “They Told Him White Whales Were Impossible to Hunt. That’s When He Went Literally Crazy.” Via marn.
(tags: creative funny literature parody)
Someone calling themselves “Neo” from the Skeptic Arena emailed me on the subject of my previous article, sending me a Word document with his replies in. I pointed out that emailing Word documents around is a bit odd, showed him where the comment box is, pointed out that he didn’t seem to have read the previous post properly, and went on my way.
Neo wasn’t content with that, and has now featured our conversation on his web site as a another Word document. Publically posting private emails is rude, but seeing as Neo has done it, he’s lost the right to complain about the following. I’ve replied to selected points below the cut, but you can see the whole thing in all its glory on Neo’s site, if you’re worried I’m being a bit too selective.
If you’re short of time, here’s what you can learn from this:
- Atheists aren’t necessarily more rational than anyone else. Some of them write green ink emails to other atheists.
- Arguments are not soldiers: it’s not rational to attack an argument merely because it’s for the opposing “side”.
- Some people take this to the next level: they confuse mentioning an argument with using it, and attack the person mentioning anyway. Here’s a Christian example, and another atheist example,
both directed at me. If both sides argue with me, I’ve achieved perfect balance in the Force!(edit: actually, one is directed at Yvain and I just pointed it out).
By the point I noticed it, the thread had got into people talking bollocks about induction (mainly the sort of nonsense I examine below, but also including atheists who just don’t get what the problems are). I think the tactic Stephen Law calls going nuclear must be in some apologetics manual somewhere, because you certainly see a lot of it about. So, this is how I’d respond to that:
All this induction stuff is very interesting, but let’s go back to shivohum’s original comment.
This uses a standard Christian apologetical strategy (one that Craig has used himself) in response an atheist’s to use of a naive evidentialism to discount religious claims. If an atheist says “All reasonable beliefs require evidence, there is no evidence for God, therefore belief in God is unreasonable”, the clever apologist will ask “All reasonable beliefs? Really? What evidence could there be for your belief that all beliefs require evidence?” They will then go on to point out that it seems we all have to accept some unevidenced beliefs (induction is a good example for the apologist because it’s pretty hard to see how we would get evidence for belief in it without making a circular argument, as Hume knew, but Cartesian doubts about the external world are also popular). “Aha!” says the apologist, “you see, we all rely on faith, and my belief in God, angels, demons and whatnot is just an article of faith, like your belief in this induction thing you’re so fond of. We’re not so different, you and I.”
The atheist’s evidentialism is pretty naive and they probably deserve that sort of response, but still, there seems to be something wrong with equating the rejection of fairly radical sceptical positions with belief in God. I think Chris Hallquist has it right: “belief in the Christian God isn’t very much at all like most of the common-sense beliefs commonly cited as threated by Descartes & Hume-style skepticism (like belief in the reliability of our senses), but is an awful lot like beliefs most Christians wouldn’t accept without evidence–namely, the beliefs of other religions. That kind of response is very hard to reject without special pleading on behalf of Christianity, and doesn’t involve commitment to any potentially troublesome epistemic principles.”
That is, religious beliefs do seem to be the sorts of things that require evidence, as even Christians agree if you ask them what it’d take to convince them of the truth of some other religion. If a Christian were to say, “no, but, you see, it’s only Christian beliefs which are like rejection of Cartesian doubt”, we’d just say “riiiiight“. OTOH, if it’s not just Christian beliefs which are now OK because we all have to rely on faith sometimes, why not be a pagan, Muslim or Pastafarian instead?
I followed up with another comment explaining why Craig gets (admittedly grudging) respect from atheists2. I also talked about what I think is the shakiest point of the Kalam argument: where Craig needs to show that the transcendental “cause” must be something like a person: he says mathematical concepts don’t have causal powers (a recent Mefi may disagree) but then wants to argue for that the best explanation is a person who lacks several of properties of all persons we encounter (not material, not existing in time) and has properties unlike that of any persons we encounter. If we’re allowed to do that sort of thing, why not just say that there’s at least one mathematical concept with causal potency? Or even that there’s maybe more than 2 kinds of transcendental thing, for all we know? Someone must have written a paper about this, right?
You’ll see atheists explaining that Dawkins was right not to have a debate with Craig because Craig supports genocide (by which they mean the Biblical massacres like the one recorded in Numbers 31). This is silly: Dawkins will not debate with Craig because Dawkins would lose, horribly (note that one can concede this and still remain an atheist). Dawkins’s refusal to dance with Craig is prudent, but let’s not see it as some great moral stand. ↩
As you might have worked out from my previous post asking for solicitors, I had a spot of bother getting my deposit back from my former landlord. This is now sorted out to my satisfaction, but it was pretty stressful while it was going on.
With the benefit of hindsight, I would offer these lessons for tenants. This is what helped me, but isn’t legal advice.
- If you have agreed to move out early and get the cleaning done ASAP because the landlords have new tenants they’re desperate to get moved in to the place (presumably because the new tenants might go elsewhere otherwise), you have leverage. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have agreed to surrender the keys and the tenancy until I got as much deposit back as I thought was reasonable. We took the landlord’s word for it that we could give have the agency do an inspection (where I gave them back the keys) and then get our cleaner back in the same day to resolve any issues the inspection found (which the cleaner’s guarantee provided for), allowing the new tenants to move in the following day. What actually happened was that the agency didn’t issue their report until the next day, and then the landlord said our cleaner could not go back in after the tenancy ended because of spurious reasons, and proposed to charge us for getting their own cleaner in instead.
- Thanks to Sylv, I found out about Shelter’s helpline, which was useful.
- If you’re told you have to dry clean curtains, check the tenancy agreement to see whether it’s an explicit requirement. In our case, it wasn’t. Shelter advised me that unless we’d specifically damaged the curtains (say by spilling something on them), we couldn’t be required to dry clean them. We were also advised that the same applied to carpets, but had those cleaned before getting that advice.
- I found that the agency’s final “checkout” report was much more detailed than the initial inventory. If I ever rent again, I will scrutinise the property much more thoroughly, looking for dust in hidden places (like behind the radiators and on lampshades), as well as any marks. The person who does the checkout will spend at least 2 hours over it for a 4 bed place. Do likewise when checking the inventory when moving in. If possible, get hold of the checkout report from the previous tenancy and see whether any of the items raised there still apply.
- When you negotiate with the landlord in writing, remember to mark emails as “without prejudice” if you don’t want it to be admissible in court or in an alternative legal means of dispute resolution (note that “without prejudice” isn’t magic: check the conditions on it in the linked article).
- If landlords take a deposit, they must use one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes, and tell you which one they used. These schemes have a dispute resolution process which you can make use of if as an alternative to court action (it’s both quicker and cheaper than using the Small Claims Court). In my case, the threat of this process was sufficient to get the landlord to considerably reduce the deduction. Actually using it looks reasonably simple, and you can do it online. The starting assumption of the dispute resolution process is that the tenant is innocent until proven guilty, so it’s up to the landlord to supply evidence that the deduction is reasonable.
- Dueling Magical Negros on Vimeo
- Looks like Morgan Freeman wasn’t available.
(tags: magical negro dueling funny race comedy)
- What The Fuck Is My Wearable Strategy?
- “MONEYCLIP THAT POSTS TO FACEBOOK WHEN YOU NEED A SHIT” “TEMPORARY TATTOO THAT TWEETS WHEN YOU HAVE NIGHTMARES”
(tags: funny humour technology wearable strategy)
- Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’ – Home News – UK – The Independent
- Personal stories from some ex-Muslims.
(tags: religion islam de-conversion ex-muslim)
- Ten Things I Want To Stop Seeing On The Internet In 2014 | Slate Star Codex
- An interesting thread about the internet social justice movement, on Slate Star Codex: “I am having a hard time finding a middle ground between SJ and sociopathy. I don’t like what SJ does to my brain. But realistically it’s not actually feasible for me to not give a shit about anyone. Could use a little advice.” Commenter then gets good advice.
(tags: social-justice sjw internet sociopath)
- ▶ UKIP Shipping Forecast by Nicholas Pegg
- The Shipping Forecast as delivered by UKIP.
(tags: politics humour shipping ukip funny)
- The Open-Office Trap : The New Yorker
- Open offices are horrible. Shame I work in one at the moment.
(tags: office productivity work space)
- Goodnight. Sleep Clean. – NYTimes.com
- Sleep is for your cerebral fluid to clear away the accumulated junk. Maybe.
(tags: sleep insomnia brain neuroscience)
- What is frame?
- “My best definition is that its a social convention for how we hold our bodies so our partner knows where we are in space.” I like 619shepard’s comment because it’s less about modelling people as springs and more about how there are conventions which are taught (some of which will involve behaving like a mass on a spring some of the time, to be sure).
(tags: frame dancing lindy lindyhop reddit swing)
- Bill Nye tests the benefits of swing dancing – latimes.com
- Bill Nye the Science Guy is a swing dancer. He extols the virtues of dancing in a short interview.
(tags: bill-nye science lindy lindyhop dancing swing fitness)
- RDFRS: Secular VIP of the Week: God on Facebook
- The man who plays God on Facebook. I’ve already Liked the page: it’s funny to see him responding to religious people who get offended, usually with much more grace than they show him.
(tags: god facebook funny comedy)
- How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground
- Gruesome but interesting.
(tags: underground history death burial corpses tube)
- Why we need to sleep in total darkness
- Blue light at night is bad. Any light is probably a bit bad. Time to get some blackout curtains (although I think they make it harder to wake up).
(tags: health light sleep blue melatonin)
- Reading Genesis 1 “Literally” | Scribalishess
- Susan Pigott, a professor specialising in the Old Testament, gives her literal reading of Genesis 1, and shows how it both borrows from and reacts against other cosmologies which were around at the time. Via Unreasonable Faith.
(tags: genesis creation old-testament hebrew cosmology)