Link blog: politics, belief, faith, atheism

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)

Link blog: mechanics, lindy, biology, newton

The science and magic of Lindy Hop | Andy Connelly | Science | theguardian.com
“Great partner dancers may not know it but they are masters of space, time and Newton’s laws of motion.” Of course we know it: for example, I’ve decided my “dance name” is “The Oncoming Storm”. (I also suspect I know who the Alistair credited at the end is, as he’s a Cambridge person).
(tags: lindy physics dancing lindyhop guardian newton mechanics)
liv | Against Dawkins
Is the gene centred view (of which Dawkins is a major proponent) the best one?
(tags: genetics genes richard-dawkins selfish-gene biology science genotype phenotype)

Link blog: robin-thicke, nsa, miley-cyrus, gchq

NSA files decoded: Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations explained | World news | theguardian.com
The Guardian’s summary of the story so far. Nicely presented.
(tags: politics snowden nsa surveillance encryption guardian privacy edward-snowden government gchq)
Attenborrowed
David Attenborough’s commentary on the mating habits of pop stars on MTV. “Spectacular wattles”. Via jwz.
(tags: mtv twerking nature miley-cyrus funny documentary robin-thicke david-attenborough)
The Right Match: A Short Documentary – YouTube
“Drs. Dorry Segev and Sommer Gentry are innovative researchers who connect the complexities of mathematics with the intricacies of organ transplantation.” They came up with using graph theory and integer programming to match up reciprocal kidney donors (that is, where someone wants to donate to their family member but they aren’t compatible, so they swap with another incompatible pair). These guys are also swing dancers, so this came via /r/SwingDancing.
(tags: transplant graph lindyhop swing medicine kidney mathematics science)

Link blog: funny, programming, nsa, twitter

The 29 Stages Of A Twitterstorm
Tells it how it is.
(tags: twitter controversy funny storm satire)
Age-ism, Transhumanism, and Silicon Valley’s Cognitive Dissonance — Better Humans — Medium
“If you’re irrelevant at thirty, why live forever?”
(tags: silicon-valley ageism transhumanism aging)
Ken Auletta: Can the Guardian Take Its Aggressive Investigations Global? : The New Yorker
The NYT looks at the history of the Graun and its recent scoops (the NSA files). Apparently the paper is running out of money. 🙁
(tags: journalism nsa surveillance guardian edward-snowden internet gchq newspaper)
Hard Sci-Fi Movies (HardSciFiMovies) on Twitter
Hard SF plots from Twitter. Via AndrewDucker.
(tags: science-fiction scifi movies funny space)
Saint Paul says shit
Although you won’t find many English translations admitting it (try the Vulgate).
(tags: philipians paul st-paul bible language shit)
Reverse Engineering a D-Link Backdoor – /dev/ttyS0
Interesting post on using a disassembler to find a backdoor someone left in a bunch of D-Link routers.
(tags: dlink backdoor programming hacking router)