- Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness? | Oliver Burkeman | Science | The Guardian
- Cos it’s a Hard Problem. Geddit?
(tags: consciousness philosophy zombies david-chalmers daniel-dennett)
- Believing that life is fair makes you a terrible person | Oliver Burkeman | Comment is free | The Guardian
- Just World Fallacy leads to victim blaming.
(tags: victim-blaming just-world psychology fairness)
- 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)
- The Core of ‘Mind and Cosmos’
- Thomas Nagel wrote a short outline of his book "Mind and Cosmos" for the New York Times. He attributes a lot of the criticism he’s been getting to people worried that he’s giving comfort to theism. If so, that reflects badly on the critics, because arguments are not soldiers, etc. etc. Via Massimo Pigliucci.
(tags: nagel philosophy consciousness thomas-nagel science)
- gmancasefile: TSA: Fail
- “I have dealt with TSA since its inception and FAA security prior to that. I have witnessed TSA operate since they became a separate organization in 2002 and seen their reaction to intelligence provided them. I have now watched them operate for a decade, and I have respect for their hard-working employees who are doing a thankless job. But I have come to the conclusion that TSA is one of the worst-run, ineffective and most unnecessarily intrusive agencies in the United States government.”
(tags: america 911 hijacking usa government fbi politics DHS security tsa)
- Open letter to violent Muslim protestors | The Chronicle
- “I really don’t understand how my fellow Muslims do not see that, with their reactions, they actually prove what has been said about them by their enemies. You call my religion evil or terrorism and, in order to “disprove” this insult, I will go kill people, burn embassies, act like a bloodthirsty crazy person…. Don’t you fellow Muslims see the ridiculousness of this logic and actions! The uncivilized images of these violent protests by these irresponsible and violent Muslims shape the image of 1.6 billion Muslims all around the world. “
(tags: violence religion terrorism quran islam)
- Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities. » blog2.easydns.org – Happenings and observations
- Don’t register a .com if you don’t want the US authorities to be able to take it down, apparently.
(tags: SOPA web law DNS verisign internet domains icann)
- 24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed
- “there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space.” Includes good stuff about how ears work. Via andrewducker.
(tags: Nyquist sound sampling mp3 science music audio)
- The Crazyist Metaphysics of Mind by Eric Schwitzgebel
- “Crazyism about X is the view that something that it would be crazy to believe must be among the core truths about X. In this essay, I argue that crazyism is true of the metaphysics of mind. A position is “crazy” in the intended sense if it is contrary to common sense and we are not epistemically compelled to believe it. …. Well developed metaphysical theories will inevitably violate common sense, I argue, because common sense is incoherent in matters of metaphysics. No coherent and detailed view could respect it all. Common sense is thus impaired as a ground of choice. Nor can scientific evidence or abstract theoretical virtue compellingly favor any one moderately specific metaphysical approach over all competitors. Something bizarre must be true about the mind, but which bizarre propositions are the true ones, we are in no good position to know.”
(tags: crazyism david-chalmers epistemology descartes dualism idealism materialism consciousness metaphysics philosophy)
- Git Immersion – Brought to you by EdgeCase
- Looks like a nice introduction to the "git" version control system. Must get round to understanding that one of these days.
(tags: programming version-control git development tutorial software tools)
- I’m starting to think that the Left might actually be right – Telegraph
- In the Torygraph of all places.
(tags: politics economics journalism murdoch news telegraph)
- philosophy bites: Nick Bostrom on the Simulation Argument
- "Nick Bostrom doesn't rule out the possibility that he might be part of a computer simulation. Find out why in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast." Hard to fault the argument, as far as I can tell, though I should probably check how people have responded to it.
(tags: philosophy computers consciousness simulation nick-bostrom transhumanism)
- fic: the joinery (game of thrones) (1/2)
- A nice alternate history of A Game of Thrones from Cersei's perspective: what would have happened if Ned had taken the throne instead of Robert? Spoilers for the first book/TV series.
(tags: fandom fanfic game-of-thrones books cersei/ned)
- Form Constants and the Visual Cortex | countyourculture
- "There are common visual concepts which cut across boundaries of culture and time and reflect what it truly means to be human. Near death experiences are often associated with seeing a “light at the end of a tunnel”. In the Bible, God appeared to Ezekiel as a “wheel within a wheel”. Spirals and concentric circles are commonly found in petrogylphs carved by cultures long dead. Similar visual effects are reported during extreme psychological stress, fever delirium, psychotic episodes, sensory deprivation, and are reliably induced by psychedelic drugs."
(tags: science consciousness brain religion)
- Is long-term solitary confinement torture? : The New Yorker
- "The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?" Well, yes.
(tags: psychology torture prison politics)
- Boogie Nights
- Or "A reflection on the history of porn", by interactive fiction author Adam Cadre. Cadre ends up saying that the way forward is to produce more "good" porn, something that people in the recent porn debates on my friends list on LiveJournal also suggested. (Links to nudity, and one small topless photo at the bottom of the main article.)
- Substance dualism
- QualiaSoup has a new video up, a short argument against substance dualism (the idea that consciousness arises from separate kind of mental substance outside the physical world).
(tags: consciousness philosophy dualism qualia)
- Theodicy III: Primo Levi versus Francis Collins
- Jerry Coyne has been reading Francis Collins's "The Language of God" as well as Levi's works on Auschwitz. Not surprisingly, he doesn't find Collins's theodicy very convincing.
(tags: theology religion jerry-coyne francis-collins)
- Rowan Williams’ choice | Andrew Brown | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
- Andrew Brown kicks some righteous ass: "Under Williams, the church that marries two women who love each other is to be thrown out of the Anglican Communion. The church that would jail them both for life, and would revile and persecute their defenders, stays snugly in his bosom. Not even the Archbishop's remarkable gift for obfuscation can conceal these facts forever."
(tags: homosexuality politics uganda uk religion christianity anglicanism rowan-williams)
- Discovery Institute: The Mask Falls Away
- The IDers at the DI go bonkers about the Climategate emails: "A cabal of leading scientists, politicians, and media concubines have conspired to lie about global warming. The reasons are obvious: power and money. … I’m not sure that the scientific community can or will respond to this debacle in a courageous or ethical way. The ID-Darwinism debate clearly demonstrates that venality and shameless self-interest, as well as a toxic leftist-atheist ideology, runs very deep in the scientific community." I'm adding "toxic" to my standard "neo-sceptical strident fundamentalist neo-atheist" spiel.
(tags: lolxians climate global-warming intelligent-design discovery-institute)
- ‘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)
- Atheism, Reason, and Morality: Responding to Some Popular Christian Apologetics
- D Gene Witmer on how best to response to Christian presuppositionalists. I ran into one of them online recently, which was fun.
(tags: religion presuppositionalism apologetics christianity philosophy rationality logic induction morality system:filetype:pdf system:media:document)
- God is not the Creator, claims academic
- In a sense, this isn't news: a lot of the religions that were contemporaries of Judaism had a creation story involving gods making order out of chaos rather than creating the universe from nothing, though I'd previously read that this was referred to in the Bible more obliquely than the this new theory suggests (e.g. water + Leviathan symbolises chaos in Psalm 74). If this idea catches on, it'll be interesting to see the new ideas the Abrahamic religions come up with to harmonise this with science 🙂
(tags: religion bible history christianity creationism creation god chaos)
- Plantinga: Religious Beilef as Properly Basic
- A nice introduction to Plantinga's ideas. I've not read his books, so I don't know how accurately they're summarised, but it seems to fit with what I've read elsewhere.
(tags: belief philosophy plantinga epistemology christianity religion alvin-plantinga)
- PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness
- Peter Watts talks about a paper which claims consciousness arose out of the need to chose between conflicting motor impulses.
(tags: consciousness science scifi sci-fi peter-watts)
- Demon ready to kill in city church
- Magus Shadee (Wiz 5, Necromatic) apparently cast Summon Monster in the big Catholic church in Cambridge. Local clerics of Papem, god of guilt about sex, say they'll summon the City Watch, though it's not clear what they'd do about it. I'd've thought the clerics would be better off casting some defensive spells of their own.
(tags: woo-woo christianity cambridge occult paganism witchcraft)
Dawkins Our Leader was on Minnesota public radio. I was interested because some people on the radio station’s live blog of the interview were saying that Kerri Miller, the presenter, was too aggressive. I don’t think she was. Dawkins isn’t a Muslim or Christian in need of molly-coddling lest he accuse people who disagree with him of being disrespectful. Her directness got quite a few interesting responses from Dawkins:
Deism is Wrong but Respectable. There was a bit of fuss on some Christian blogs about this when he said it in the Dawkins/Lennox debate. It seems as if people have an idea of Dawkins as the Pope of Atheism. His arguments are soldiers and any concession towards theism is a sign of victory for God. As Ruth Gledhill found, he seems the opposite of the Pope of Atheism in person.
Theism is Ignorant and Infantile. Dawkins feels no shame in referring to popular theism as a belief in an imaginary friend. Rilstone says this metaphor is actually pretty close in some ways, so it’s not clear why so many Christians get upset about it.
Dawkins wonders why sophisticated theists bother to call themselves Christians when they don’t believe in any of the uniquely Christian stuff (virgin birth, water into wine, even resurrection in some cases). He shows a touching faith that a Church of England clergyman would accept this stuff (he’s talking about Polkinghorne, whose theological position I don’t know).
Theist scientists like Francis Collins show a double-mindedness that Dawkins finds curious. Not everyone is convinced that single-mindedness is a virtue, though, as recent convert Sam Harris argues: “If Francis Collins wants to believe that the historical Jesus was actually raised from the dead and still exists in an ethereal form which renders him both clairvoyant and mildly disapproving of masturbation, these beliefs do not even slightly detract from his stature as a scientist.”
Mysteries exist to be solved, not celebrated. Dawkins says he has faith (I’m looking forward to seeing the first theist quote mining of this statement), not that the mysteries will be solved, but that trying to solve them is worthwhile. The greatest mystery he’s aware of is the subjective experience of human consciousness.
What of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? Dawkins reckons the evidence is poor. Like evolution, we have to rely on the clues that remain. Those for the resurrection aren’t very good.
Will Dawkins be an atheist on his deathbed, without hoping for an afterlife? Probably: minds and brains seem to be linked, there’s no reason to think you can have a mind without a brain.
Why has Dawkins written The Greatest Show on Earth? Not to reach the dyed-in-the-wool Creationist, but the people who haven’t thought about it yet, the same people he hoped to reach with The God Delusion.