Link blog: funny, psychology, consciousness, pop

Postcards From the Edge of Consciousness – Issue 16: Nothingness – Nautilus
“Sensory deprivation goes from CIA torture manuals to a yoga studio near you.” Via andrewduck.
(tags: psychology meditation floatation deprivation consciousness)
TAM2014 – Carol Tavris – Who’s Lying Who’s Self-Justifying – YouTube
“Social psychologist and author Carol Tavris on “Who’s Lying? Who’s Self-Justifying?: Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Communications”. Discusses sexual assault but is mainly about discussions of sexual assault and dissonance.
(tags: sex sexism psychology scepticism cognitive-bias evidence)
Russell91/pythonpy · GitHub
Clever idea: quick way of writing per line loops to process files in Python. Via HN.
(tags: python shell programming)
Barely Legal Pawn, feat. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus – YouTube
Spot all the Breaking Bad references.
(tags: breaking-bad comedy funny emmy parody pawn)
Pop Sonnets
“Young Thomas is a longshoreman by trade” Pop song lyrics turned into Shakespearian sonnets. Via Mefi.
(tags: funny shakespeare sonnets pop music lyrics)

Link blog: daniel-kahneman, psychology, cognitive-bias, rationality

The Social Graph is Neither (Pinboard Blog)

The guy who single handedly runs Pinboard writing about Facebook and social stuff.
(tags: socialgraph social facebook graph pinboard relationships)

The Marvels And The Flaws Of Intuitive Thinking Edge Master Class 2011 | Conversation | Edge

The Edge also did a feature on Kahneman a while back. Here it is, with more examples of ways in which our thinking fails, but also things we can do which we’re finding difficult to program computers to do.
(tags: psychology intuition daniel-kahneman cognition cognitive-bias rationality)

Michael Lewis on the King of Human Error | Business | Vanity Fair

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky did ground breaking work on cognitive biases: the ways in which human thinking systematically fails. Fascinating article. Via andrewducker.
(tags: psychology rationality bias cognition cognitive-bias daniel-kahneman amos-tversky)

Requests: HTTP for Humans — Requests 0.8.0 documentation

An HTTP library for Python that’s less awful than urllib2. Hopefully someone will add it to the standard library at some point. Via Leonard Richardson.
(tags: python http library requests programming)

Link blog: funny, facebook, pakistan, programming

Pakistani lawyer petitions for death of Mark Zuckerberg • The Register

Proof that the "religion of peace" isn't *all* bad.
(tags: religion islam pakistan facebook mohammed)

19 reasons why God torched Jesus

19 reasons why that huge statue of Jesus in America burnt down: best one: "5) He is resin."
(tags: jesus religion funny fire statue christianity)

The bright side of wrong – The Boston Globe

Article which argues that cognitive biases may be the price we pay for being able to jump to probable conclusions.
(tags: psychology neuroscience cognition rationality cognitive-bias)

The 10 Most Important Things They Didn’t Teach You In School | Cracked.com

From the author of "John Dies at the End". Mostly obvious, but well done.
(tags: education funny cracked life sex)

YouTube – Doctor Who: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Daleks (The Peter Jones-y Edit)

Two great tastes etc. etc.
(tags: video doctorwho dalek hitchhikers science-fiction sci-fi parody funny youtube)

Exploring the software behind Facebook, the world’s largest site | Royal Pingdom

Facebook: evil but still cool.
(tags: development facebook performance php programming server software tools internet)

Link blog: science, censorship, media, magic

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: Science/religion compatibility yet again

Another round of the accommodationism debates: "Viewed historically, religion needs to thin out its epistemic content, or to introduce notions of the capricious way supernatural beings act, or to adopt intellectually unacceptable ad hoc tactics of various kinds, in order to maintain a formal compatibility with the scientific picture of the world; the advance of science pushes God into smaller gaps; and some religious views are plainly inconsistent with robust scientific findings. All this reflects a general mismatch between the scientific approach to the world and the religious approach, which follows from (1) the fact that they use different methods for discovering the truth and (2) the methods of science do not, historically and contingently, reach the same conclusions as previously reached by religion."
(tags: religion science russell-blackford philosophy)

You Are Not So Smart

Blog recommendation. Journalist David McRaney writes about cognitive biases and whatnot in a straightforward and funny way.
(tags: psychology science blog cognition cognitive-bias rationality)

Penn Jillette Is Willing to Be a Guest on Adolf Hitler’s Talk Show | Little Gold Men | Vanity Fair

Penn on why he went on Glenn Beck's show, among other things. Hugely quotable: "Well remember, the Catholic League is just one divorced guy in his garage. Or as Teller and I like to say, the Catholic League and his wife. I love that it's called hate speech when you have the audacity to suggest that pederasty and child rape might not be a good idea."
(tags: religion penn-jillette magic media catholicism islamism islam censorship)

Reluctance to Let Go | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

Sean Carroll's last post before taking a break from blogging: "Instead of taking the natural world seriously, we have discussions about “Faith.” We pretend that questions of meaning and purpose and value must be the domain of religion. We are saddled with bizarre, antiquated attitudes toward sex and love, which have terrible consequences for real human beings.
I understand the reluctance to let go of religion as the lens through which we view questions of meaning and morality. For thousands of years it was the best we could do; it provided social structures and a framework for thinking about our place in the world. But that framework turns out not to be right, and it’s time to move on."
(tags: science religion accomodationism atheism)

Link blog: culture, islam, rationality, development

Aretae: Cognitive Antivirus

"Suppose that you are a bear of very little brain, or perhaps an average human on the street, of nearly average proportions, intellect, and character. What is the best thing you can do, belief-wise, in order to make your life better. I am beginning to believe that you should believe in your parents' God, and go to church on Sundays. God and tradition are perhaps the best and strongest way to avoid believing really stupid stuff that could actually mess up your life, or others' lives." Via the Less Wrong threads on undiscriminating scepticism.
(tags: religion epistemology rationality cognitive-bias)

FT.com / Reportage – Immigrant Muslims in Belleville

"Yet there are two main reasons the Belle­ville scenario looks more likely than the Eurabia one. The first is demographic: no serious demographer expects Muslims to become a majority in any western European country. The second is attitudes: only a tiny minority of French Muslims appears to want to establish a medieval caliphate in Europe. In surveys, most French Muslims say that they feel French… Many of them no longer observe Islam. And although here and there Muslims have made France a little more north African or Islamic, the influence seems to be more the other way: Muslim immigrants are being infected by Frenchness."
(tags: islam europe religion anthropology culture immigration demographics eurabia)

Johann Hari: The Pope, the Prophet, and the religious support for evil – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

"What can make tens of millions of people – who are in their daily lives peaceful and compassionate and caring – suddenly want to physically dismember a man for drawing a cartoon, or make excuses for an international criminal conspiracy to protect child-rapists?" Anyone, Bueller, anyone?
(tags: atheism catholic christianity culture evil fundamentalism islam johann-hari pope religion mohammed cartoons)

Less Wrong: Undiscriminating Skepticism

"Since it can be cheap and easy to attack everything your tribe doesn't believe, you shouldn't trust the rationality of just anyone who slams astrology and creationism; these beliefs aren't just false, they're also non-tribal among educated audiences. Test what happens when a "skeptic" argues for a non-tribal belief, or argues against a tribal belief, before you decide they're good general rationalists."
(tags: culture rationality scepticism eliezer-yudkowsky)

WebSequenceDiagrams.com – Make Sequence Diagrams with one click

Nice tool for drawing message sequence charts: sort of the MSC equivalent of GraphViz.
(tags: design development programming software tools msc message sequence diagram)

Link blog: atheism, christianity, religion, anglican

If every hardware engineer just understood that…

Bunch of low level software people whinge at the hardware designers. A bit Windows-specific, but there are some generally applicable things in there (write-only registers, oh my).
(tags: programming embedded drivers windows hardware interrupt)

Ruth Gledhill – Times Online – WBLG: Gays could soon ‘marry’ in churches, synagogues

Civil partnerships are like civil weddings: you can't have anything religious in the ceremony. A group of theists is now asking for that restriction to be lifted so they can perform partnership ceremonies in their churches and synagogues. Seems reasonable to me: we wouldn't want to place restrictions on religious freedom, would we? Oddly, the same Anglican bishops who recently defeated an amendment to the Equality Bill providing greater gay rights (previously) also seem to want to prevent other churches from doing what they want.
(tags: homosexuality religion christianity judaism bigot civil-partnership anglican anglicanism politics)

The Richard Dawkins Foundation net forum (RDF) self-destructs — yet another big atheist board immolates itself

The Dawkins site maintainer decided to re-do their forums. The existing (volunteer) moderators were annoyed that all old comments would be lost and that their positions as mods been done away with without a word of thanks. Maintainer responded to criticism (and to attempts to organise a move to another site) by wielding the banhammer all over the place. Dawkins responds with a post exhibiting no clue about the politics of web forums and what the existing forum users were upset about. Therefore God exists.

This will, I suspect, run and run: the Graun and the Times have already picked up on it with some glee.

Remember: if you post something you think is worthwhile to a forum, keep your own copy.
(tags: lolatheists dawkins richard-dawkins internet drama atheism forum)

Sceptics Beware: The Dangers of Debunking

When debunking popular but false information, it's better not to present the false information over again, as you just re-enforce the availability bias of the false information.
(tags: rationality cognitive-bias debunking availability)

Open Mic: What Have We Wrought? | internetmonk.com

iMonk links to a short video of Os Guinness on the Biologos site (can anything good come from there?) Guinness says, “In many ways, the new atheists are partly created by the Religious Right. You can see that in America there is no vehement repudiation of religion until recently. In Europe, the atheism is a reaction to corrupt state churches. Here, you’ve never had that until the rise of the Religious Right.” Part of the reaction against religion, he argues, stems from the poor ways people of faith think about science.

The commenters almost immediately tell us that it's not that atheists are annoyed about the corruption of science, it's that we're in league with Satan (though other, more, sensible Christians also disagree with them). I've commented and linked to Suber's logical rudeness paper.
(tags: religion atheism new-atheism christianity science culture culture-war)

Link blog: christianity, religion, science, humour

‘Good Reasons for ‘Believing’ in God’ by Dan Dennett

Dennett talks about why it's sensible to profess belief in God. He lives up to his reputation of being a bit fluffier than Dawkins.
(tags: daniel-dennett philosophy religion atheism)

Valerie Tarico: Christian Belief Through The Lens of Cognitive Science: Part 6 of 6

The final part of Tarico's series, which links to the others. "Despite its boundaries, cognitive science, does offer what is rapidly becoming a sufficient explanation for the supernaturalism that underlies organized religion."
(tags: christianity science religion brain psychology cognitive-bias cognition)

WHY DOES THE UNVIERSE LOOK THE WAY IT DOES: A Conversation With Sean Carroll

"Inflation does not provide a natural explanation for why the early universe looks like it does unless you can give me an answer for why inflation ever started in the first place. That is not a question we know the answer to right now. That is why we need to go back before inflation into before the Big Bang, into a different part of the universe to understand why inflation happened versus something else."
(tags: physics cosmology big-bang universe inflation string-theory)

RegEx match open tags except XHTML self-contained tags – Stack Overflow

"If you parse HTML with regex you are giving in to Them and their blasphemous ways which doom us all to inhuman toil for the One whose Name cannot be expressed in the Basic Multilingual Plane, he comes." Quite right: you should use Beautiful Soup like everyone else does.
(tags: funny programming humour xml parse lovecraft stackoverflow regexp regex html)

The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality

Alex Rosenberg argues that scientism is a good thing, and puts forward a very reductionist naturalism which he applies to consciousness, morality and a bunch of other stuff philosophers like to worry about. His fellow naturalists disagree in the comments (notably, Richard Carrier and Tom Clark produce good arguments against him).
(tags: naturalism philosophy science reductionism morality consciousness)

Riffs: 11:14:09: Patrol Magazine and Evangelicals Who Won’t “Get Over It”

"It is astonishing that so many intelligent Christians seem to believe there is a deficit in emphasis on evangelism and scriptural literalism, and that, if the hatches are just battened down on a more solid “worldview,” evangelicalism can resume explaining the universe to new generations of believers."
(tags: evangelicalism christianity)

I’m Belle de Jour

Former blogging prostitute Belle de Jour reveals her real identity to the Times. She was an impoverished PhD student.
(tags: culture sex identity anonymous science prostitution)

What Stormtroopers do on Their Day Off

Funny photos of stormtroopers at play.
(tags: humour funny scifi images starwars toys photo photography)

Valerie Tarico: Speaking Evangelese: Tips for Politicians

Tarico's article on evangelical jargon phrases and dog whistles. Some of these sound familiar
(tags: evangelicalism christianity politics religion jargon language)

Experimental Theology: Christians and Torture: Part 6, Hell and Torture

Richard Beck over at Experimental Theology has been doing a series of posts on Christian and torture. His survey said: "Christians who believed in a horrific and never-ending hell were more likely to endorse torture. As God tortures so we torture." Unsurprising, perhaps, but interesting to see it backed up by research. In the comments, Beck notes the correlation is not strong, but is significant.
(tags: hell torture politics religion christianity morality)

Argument, authority and batshittery

Following on from my link to The Ad Hominem Fallacy Fallacy, londonkds wonders how legitimate it is to say “This person has previously shown themselves to be ignorant/misinformed/lying/batshit on this subject on several occasions, therefore I have better things to do with my time than to rigorously investigate all their arguments this time”. I’ve replied on the original thread, but I thought I’d create a new post with my reply in:

Reminds me of Yudkowsky’s stuff on reversed stupidity and the follow up, Argument Screens Off Authority.

If someone is reliably wrong (a well informed liar), you can learn something by listening to them: you just increase the weight you give to beliefs which contradict what they say on topics where you know they tend to lie. But this might not be useful, if you already strongly believe stuff which contradicts what they say.

In practice, the people are ignorant or batshit haven’t carefully studied how to be wrong. There are more ways to be wrong than right, so they probably are wrong, but you don’t learn anything by listening to them, because their statements aren’t tangled up with the truth at all. As Yudkowsky and brokenhut say, you can decide not to listen to such people because life is too short, but that decision shouldn’t influence your opinion on the truth of their argument (though it’s hard not to be influenced in practice). So I think your quoted statement is a justifiable one as long as you don’t append “and I’ll believe their argument less as a result”.

Suber’s stuff on logical rudeness covers the case where your belief that they’re batshit is because of some theory you hold which includes explanations of how all critics of the theory are batshit (examples exist in evangelical Christianity, atheism and feminism, that I’ve seen). ISTM that such a theory can’t be used to dismiss critical arguments, though it can be used to explain why so many people apparently don’t believe the theory.

(You can comment on the original post: I’ve disabled comments on this one to keep all the discussion in one place).

Link blog: debate, funny, game-theory, humour

Mitchell and Webb – Stalin Vs Hitler (arguing the moral toss)

"Welcome to Arguing the Moral Toss". You know who else said that: Hitler!
(tags: hitler stalin mitchell-and-webb funny video youtube morality humour debate)

The Redheaded Skeptic

"Notes on the journey from minister's wife to atheist". Laura from Arkansas was married to a Baptist pastor who sounds like a real charmer. She writes about the emotional side of her transition to atheism.
(tags: atheism christianity religion de-conversion fundamentalism complementarianism)

The ad hominem fallacy fallacy

What is, and is not, an ad hominem argument (for example, insults aren't, unless they're part of an argument).
(tags: logic philosophy argument language fallacy writing debate ad-hominem)

The Loitering Presence of the Rational ­Actor

A review of "The Bounds of Reason: Game Theory and the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences" by Herbert Gintis. The reviewer goes into examples of where human behaviour deviates from economists' ideas of rationality.
(tags: rationality economics cognitive-bias game-theory prisoners-dilemma)

pshift man page

The manual page for the paradigm shift utility on Unix. An oldie, but a goodie.
(tags: funny unix paradigm kuhn)

Link blog: robin-hanson, anglicanism, roger-zelazny, life

Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock? – life – 19 October 2009 – New Scientist

Of course not, God did it. Still, it's a fascinating theory, and a well written article from New Scientist.
(tags: evolution life science dna research biology ocean bacteria abiogenesis)

Zelazny, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”

Zelazny's classic short story.
(tags: roger-zelazny ecclesiastes SF scifi mars)

The death of death… « The Saint Barnabas’ Blog

The blog entry of the Anglican priest and goodwill diplomat who's been railing against secular funerals and Tina Turner songs at religious ones, who found himself reported on in the Torygraph and Daily Fail. Choice quote: "Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection." Well, Christians certainly have the *hope* of resurrection, I suppose. And we can all agree that Tina Turner is a bad thing.
(tags: religion death funeral christianity anglicanism secularism)

Overcoming Bias as it Suits Us

When Eliezer met the feminists: an old thread on mswyrr's LJ which got started when Robin Hanson wondered why the Overcoming Bias community was so male. It's an interesting precursor to the Pickup Artist debates over on Less Wrong.
(tags: feminism cognitive-bias overcoming-bias eliezer-yudkowsky robin-hanson)