islam

Unequally Yoked: Guestblogging Challenge: Take the Ideological Turing Test!

A suggestion: if you want to show that you understand the other side's position, test whether you can be distinguished from a genuine advocate of that position in a suitably anonymous test.
(tags: philosophy debate turing)

Theodicy: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Nice metaphor for "solutions" to the Problem of Evil.
(tags: theodicy philosophy comic religion)

Distinguish – Butterflies and Wheels

Ophelia Benson on the Geert Wilders thing: "Nobody should be required to love Islam."
(tags: islam geert-wilders religion)

A field guide to bullshit – opinion – 13 June 2011 – New Scientist

"How do people defend their beliefs in bizarre conspiracy theories or the power of crystals? Philosopher Stephen Law has tips for spotting their strategies." A bit similar to my Bad Arguments stuff: Law has "everything is based on faith" as the so-called "nuclear option". An interesting article, might buy the book he's plugging.
(tags: religion science empiricism sceptism philosophy new-age)

YouTube – PASTOR ULTIMATE FIGHT

OK, so remixing videos of Pentecostal services is like shooting fish in a barrel, but you've got to love the person who though of turning it into an 90s video game.
(tags: funny pentecostal video youtube charismatic christianity)

Blogging in App Engine

Still vaguely toying with ditching LJ, and this looked interesting.
(tags: appengine python blog bloggart)

William Hague accused of ‘anti-Christian’ foreign policy – Telegraph

"Cardinal Keith O’Brien accused the Foreign Secretary of doubling overseas aid to Pakistan to more than £445 million without demanding religious freedom for Christians and other religious minorities, such as Shia Muslims. " I think O'Brien has a point: nobody should be coerced into conversion, and it's clear that Christians need some protection from the Religion Of Peace.
(tags: religion politics aid pakistan islam christianity)

Stop Being Wrong: A Moral Imperative

C.S. Lewis wrote that "You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house." Wrongbot points out that to behave ethically one must have correct beliefs as well as the right theory of normative ethics.
(tags: ethics philosophy rationality morality wrongbot)

Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake: MicroISV on a Shoestring

"Japan is exceptionally well-prepared to deal with natural disasters", and apparently, the system worked.
(tags: japan earthquake engineering culture)

Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now! • The Register

"Japan's nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than they were designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Fukushima story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more nuclear powerplants, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems."
(tags: science nuclear safety physics japan earthquake)

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: Gnus can be nice

Blackford writes good stuff: "What we do say is that it's hopelessly misleading to go around saying "Science and religion are compatible." It would be more true to say that science tends to undermine all or most traditional forms of religion, making them less plausible, putting pressure on the religious to thin out their supernaturalist, providentialist views of the world, and so on. The result is that much in the way of actual religion really is threatened by the advance of science. Claiming otherwise is, we say, likely to be disingenuous (or, to be fair, simply mistaken)."
(tags: science religion atheism accomodationism russell-blackford)

Time to change the Dail Mail’s masthead

"Many people are fooled by the Daily Mail’s appearance into thinking that it is something it’s not. Every week seems to bring fresh stories of people or organisations that have co-operated with it, but are then upset to find themselves misrepresented or just deliberately lied about in its pages. If they had realised that it is not a newspaper but a comic, and does not seem to be bound by any of the laws that we popularly imagine newspapers to comply with, they probably would not ever have agreed to speak to its journalists. Readers, too, are often misled by the Mail’s appearance into thinking they are reading a newspaper, which can often lead to enormous confusion on their part."
(tags: journalism media daily-mail funny)

Why Facebook makes you sad

Makes you think everyone else is having more fun than you.
(tags: facebook internet psychology)

YouTube – Enemies not Allies Seminar on the far-Right and Pro-Islamist Left: Maryam Namazie

Maryam Namazie reckons you can and should be critical of Islam without joining the EDL. Via an ex-Muslim of my acquaintance, who I'm obviously not going to name.
(tags: islam islamism politics religion maryam-namazie)

David Cameron tells Muslim Britain: stop tolerating extremists | Politics | The Guardian

"David Cameron will today signal a sea-change in the government fight against home-grown terrorism, saying the state must confront, and not consort with, the non-violent Muslim groups that are ambiguous about British values such as equality between sexes, democracy and integration." I agree with Dave, to the extent that it’s unfair to call Christians on their shit without doing the same to Muslims.
(tags: islam multiculturalism uk europe guardian religion politics)

Preventing Lesbianism and “Uppity Women” in the Womb? No. | Focal Point | Big Think

That story that's been doing the rounds about about a pill to prevent your kid being a lesbian turns out to be bullshit.
(tags: homosexuality medicine science)

What I think about global warming : Stoat

What Dr Connolley thinks of global warming: the science is well established, the sceptics want to argue it isn't because they don't like many of the suggestions for what we should do about it.
(tags: science global-warming climate)

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

The 2010 Bulwer-Lytton contest results are out! Read the worst first line of a story that people have been able to come up with this year.
(tags: writing literature funny language humour fiction bulwer-lytton)

What isn’t wrong with Sharia law? | Law | guardian.co.uk

"To safeguard our rights there must be one law for all and no religious courts."
(tags: islam feminism islamism secularism uk religion politics sharia)

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Spotting the "instinctive drowning response". People who are drowning don't look distressed or yell, apparently, as their bodies are working too hard at staying afloat.
(tags: health drowning safety swimming death)

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)

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)

Plato’s Man Cave

Shadows on the wall, plus 52" plasma TV.
(tags: plato cave philosophy funny parody)

Why Sex and the City 2 is a science fiction movie

I LOL'd.
(tags: movies review funny future sf scifi sci-fi science-fiction)

Decoding God’s Changing Moods – TIME

You'd think the Abrahamic God would make up his mind — Can he live with other gods or not? What's with the random mood fluctuations?
But the fluctuations aren't really random. If you juxtapose the Abrahamic Scriptures with what scholars have learned about the circumstances surrounding their creation, a pattern appears.
(tags: religion islam history christianity god culture)

God, Science and Philanthropy | The Nation

An interesting article on the history of the Templeton Foundation, the controversial foundation which provides grants to scientists interested in "the Big Questions".
(tags: templeton dawkins richard-dawkins science religion intelligent-design)

Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth – opinion – 19 May 2010 – New Scientist

"…denialism, the systematic rejection of a body of science in favour of make-believe. There's a lot of it about, attacking evolution, global warming, tobacco research, HIV, vaccines – and now, it seems, flu. But why does it happen? What motivates people to retreat from the real world into denial?"
(tags: climate conspiracy creationism epistemology politics psychology religion science denialism denial)

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)

‘Witch’ set to stand in general election

Everyone's favourite Cambridge witch, Magus Lynius Shadee, is going to stand for MP for Cambridge. Policies include getting rid of faith schools (sort of want), banning RE lessons (do not want), more tax on booze (do want, I think). Previously, Shadee was in the news for summoning demons in the local Catholic church, and for threatening to open an occult shop in Cambridge. He's Satan's gift to local journalism.
(tags: witchcraft woo-woo paganism politics)

Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian

The Onion scores again. HT to Friendly Atheist.
(tags: politics religion humour funnny onion homosexuality)

Oh no! “Licentiousness breeds extremism”

"Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has a worrying column in The Independent. It is not worrying because of the concerns she raises about "licentiousness", "social nihilism", "debauchery", etc., but because it is another example of blaming the victims. Somehow the blame for Islamist terrorism is to be sheeted home to the relative sexual permissiveness of Western (in this case, British) society. It is also worrying because Alibhai-Brown is supposed to be an example of a moderate Muslim"
(tags: islam muslim uk politics sex religion terrorism)

Conversations About The Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee – The Rumpus.net

Interesting stuff about privacy and re-writing PHP. HT to Andrew Ducker.
(tags: culture internet facebook security privacy media social programming php)

Beyond belief

Short but interesting article on the growth of atheism in Australia.
(tags: atheism religion australia)

Heresy Corner: Sir Ian Blair defends the indefensible

I do try not to link to every single thing Heresiarch posts, but this is a particularly good one. " Evidence that the powers have been used inappropriately is not hard to find. Much more striking is the lack of evidence that the powers have ever been used appropriately. No terrorism-related charges have been brought against anyone as a result of a search carried out under the 2000 Terrorism Act".
(tags: terrorism politics ian-blair crime police)

Is Obama About To Become Just Another War Criminal?

"Aghanistan is not a country, it's a criminal enterprise" – Evert Cilliers wonders what America is doing there, a question you might also ask about the UK.
(tags: drugs politics war afghanistan taliban pakistan islam)

George Carlin – Religion is bullshit.

Carlin's classic routine on religion, in which he tells us how he worships the Sun and Joe Pesci. May be "strident".
(tags: religion video youtube funny atheism humour god carlin comedy)

36 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD —  By Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

The Edge introduces and gives us an excerpt from Goldstein's novel. The 36 arguments (and their rebuttals) are included in the excerpt, handily: the moral argument and the cosmological argument are in there.
(tags: religion philosophy god atheism books morality)

Caveman Science Fiction

From the same people who brought you "Dungeons and Discourse": Caveman SF.
(tags: comics scifi funny science satire comic humour)

The Open Road London (1927)

Colour footage of London in 1927. Pretty amazing stuff.
(tags: london video history youtube archive)

Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

The stories of former Islamists who came back from the brink, and just what went wrong to put them there in the first place. "From the right, there was the brutal nativist cry of "Go back where you came from!" But from the left, there was its mirror-image: a gooey multicultural sense that immigrants didn't want liberal democratic values and should be exempted from them. Again and again, they described how at school they were treated as "the funny foreign child", and told to "explain their customs" to the class. It patronised them into alienation. "
(tags: islam religion politics terrorism culture war hari johann-hari jihad islamism)