science

The Problem of Induction

Nice summary of Hume on induction.
(tags: philosophy hume induction knowledge epistemology science)

OK Go, The Muppets – Muppet Show Theme Song – YouTube

OK Go and the Muppets!
(tags: okgo muppets video music)

Mr. Deity and the Philosopher – YouTube

"Well, if I did order genocide, I'd have a pretty good reason, or at least, an apologist could make one up." Nice. The begging bit at the end is funny too.
(tags: euthypro-dilemma philosophy funny mr-deity religion)

A Sketch of an Anti-Realist Metaethics – Less Wrong

Nice explanation of the map/territory distinction, and seems to accord pretty closely with my own views on morality.
(tags: hume philosophy metaethics ethics morality less-wrong lesswrong)

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 – Tim Minchin’s Storm the Animated Movie

Tim Minchin's beat poem about New Age bullshit has an official animation to accompany it. I'd not seen it before: thanks to gjm11 for linking to it.
(tags: funny religion new-age science)

The Daily Mash – Biblical apocalypse leaves much of Britain unchanged

Mother-to-two Emma Bradford lives in Penzance, where a horde of creatures straight out of the painting Garden of Earthly Delights is on a bloody rampage.
She said: "They're scaly and bulbous-headed and they soil the streets with their demon fire-piss.
"And then they have a kebab."
(tags: funny rapture religion uk)

The Blog : Morality Without “Free Will” : Sam Harris

Sam Harris asks how the neuroscience of free will, or the lack of free will, should affect moral questions. I don't think people have libertarian free will, so it's nice to see Harris arguing that this doesn't mean an end to morality.
(tags: sam-harris free-will morality philosophy neuroscience)

Honolulu Magazine | The Secret Life of Storage Units in Honolulu

What people do with their storage lockers. Including running a business from them…
(tags: storage culture housing)

The Reason We Reason | Wired Science | Wired.com

"new theory of reasoning put forth by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. In essence, they argue that human reason has nothing to do with finding the truth, or locating the best alternative. Instead, it’s all about being able to argue with others" And that's why we have confirmation bias. There's some dialogue in the comments about how it's not as hopeless as it may sound.
(tags: science psychology research cognition rationality brain bias)

YouTube – Roll a D6

Just in case there's anyone who hasn't seen this yet…
(tags: video youtube music dungeons-and-dragons roleplaying)

Savage Love by Dan Savage – Columns – Savage Love – Dan Savage – The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper

Excellent sex advice columnist Dan Savage responds to criticisms that he advocates an "anything goes" approach to sex at the expense of fidelity.
(tags: sex dan-savage advice marriage monogamy)

What Do Women Want? – Discovering What Ignites Female Desire – NYTimes.com

Interesting stuff on the differences between male and female sexual responses.
(tags: sex psychology women science)

The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science | Mother Jones

"How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link." Amusing for the number of comments which say "But vaccines really do cause autism" etc. etc.
(tags: science psychology belief neuroscience rationality bias)

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: On moral evaluations

Blackford points out that morality doesn't require anything spooky or metaphysical to be rational and non-arbitrary, so long as we're prepared to accept that "[w]hatever judgments we make do not compel all comers, regardless of their desire-sets, to act one way or another on pain of making a mistake about the world or something of the sort."
(tags: philosophy morality ethics error-theory mackie russell-blackford)

“Have friends who are atheists? Agnostics? Into Wicca? Or New Age?”

Mefi discovers "Dare2Share", which is one of those worldview based Christian evangelism things where they're training Christians to understand other people's worldviews (which is good) as a preamble to converting them to Christianity (which would be bad). I've linked to Mefi rather than the site itself as the Mefites discussion is interesting. The site has cutesy names for their examplars, like "Willow the Wiccan" and "Andy the Atheist", so the Mefi crowd have come up with a few of their own.
(tags: metafilter apologetics christianity evangelism worldview)

New Statesman – The bugger, bugged

"After a chance meeting with a former News of the World executive who told him his phone had been hacked, Hugh Grant couldn’t resist going back to him – with a hidden tape recorder – to find out if there was more to the story . . . " Coppers taking backhanders from journos, oh my. No wonder the Met dragged their feet about the phone hacking case.
(tags: news journalism crime phones privacy surveillance police hugh-grant hacking)

Scientism « Why Evolution Is True

Jerry Coyne: "when used as a derogatory adjective, “scientism” means this:

the practice of applying rationality and standards of evidence to faith.

For religious people and accommodationists, that practice is a no-no. That’s why the adjective is pejorative."

I think there is something which we could validly call "scientism", namely the belief that science can answer all our questions, or that all questions reduce to scientific ones, or something. However, Coyne's point stands: "scientism" is often code for "how dare you ask us for evidence?"
(tags: scientism science religion jerry-coyne)

“Don’t Talk to the Police” by Professor James Duane

Of course, in the UK, we don't have an unqualified right to silence, but this stuff's interesting anyway. There's a follow-on video where a police officer responds and says the professor is right 🙂
(tags: law video police legal lectures rights)

Try Thinking | Here lieth the thoughts of SiânyB

"I do (despite appearances) totally understand the importance of prayer for some people – I know people who use it as a kind of meditation to clear their heads, to unburden their guilt or to enter some kind of celestial lottery of hope. But, given current world events, the message ‘Try Praying’ is a grimly obscuring lens through which to view your surroundings."
(tags: religion culture advertising prayer edinburgh christianity)

Sean Carroll: Does the Universe Need God?

Top theoretical cosmologist Sean Carroll wrote a chapter for the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, and this is it. Interesting to compare Carroll's stuff with other popular science about the Big Bang.
(tags: philosophy god science bigbang big-bang sean-carroll physics cosmology)

The Blog : Being Mr. Nobody : Sam Harris

"Imagine a language in which, instead of saying ‘I found nobody in the room’ one said, ‘I found Mr. Nobody in the room.’ Imagine the philosophical problems that would arise out of such a convention. " Sam Harris quotes Wittgenstein to explain why he doesn't like to call himself an atheist.
(tags: wittgenstein atheism philosophy language sam-harris)

Fixing HTTPS

Glyph, of Twisted Python fame, talks about ways to fix HTTPS, presumably in the light of the recent attacks on certification authorities.
(tags: https security internet encryption)

AC Grayling: ‘How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously’ | Books | The Guardian

Graying mocks the people who call atheists militant and fundamentalist, and talks about his new book: "But the third point is about our ethics – how we live, how we treat one another, what the good life is. And that's the question that really concerns me the most."
(tags: philosophy religion atheism grayling books)

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.)

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)

Misplaced outrage over High Court “ban” on Christian foster parents | Gavin Drake

Gavin Drake, a Christian journalist, points out that the judgement on foster parents doesn't do what the right wing press think it does (in fact, it does very little at all), and that the Christian Legal Centre are lying bastards (I paraphrase).
(tags: religion clc christian-legal-centre law foster homosexuality christianity)

Stephen Law: The case of the Christian would-be foster parents

"It's not the Christianity that's the obstacle. It's the bigotry (which happens to be religiously motivated)."
(tags: bigots homosexuality christianity law stephen-law)

Johns & Anor, R (on the application of) v Derby City Council & Anor [2011] EWHC 375 (Admin) (28 February 2011)

The full text of the judgement in the recent case of a dispute between some Pentecostal Christians and Derby Council over whether the Christians' views on homosexuality made them unsuitable to act as foster carers. Paul Diamond, the barrister who takes a lot of these "help! I'm being oppressed!" cases on behalf of bigoted Christians, gets a bit of a kicking from the judges, which is fun. The judges' reasons for their decision, and the limits of it, are worth reading for how they differ from the hysterical reporting in the right wing press.
(tags: religion christianity foster law homosexuality)

Mervyn King is right. If the banks face no risk, we shall all go down – Telegraph

"They are the trade unions of the modern era, sick dinosaurs that crush ordinary citizens, writes Charles Moore." Blimey, and this the Telegraph saying it.
(tags: uk banking corruption banks politics economics)

Hamlet and the Methods of Rationality

This is fun…
(tags: rationality hamlet parody)

Gender Differences and Casual Sex: The New Research «

Revisiting that "I've noticed you around, will you go to bed with me?" study (as popularised by popular beat combo "Touch and Go") and disputing the conclusion that women just don't like sex: "the only consistently significant predictor of acceptance of the sexual proposal, both for women and for men, was the perception that the proposer is sexually capable". It being a feminist blog, they then go against the science the other way and say that perception of risk is a much higher factor than the study suggested (the study thought it was an effect, but not the primary one).
(tags: science sex feminism gender)