science

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)

Johann Hari: Why is it wrong to protect gay children? – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

Hari lays the smackdown on Melanie Phillips, who thoroughly deserves it.
(tags: politics homosexuality education religion uk johann-hari daily-mail)

Ethical First Principles

A brief introduction to various sorts of ethics (virtue, deonotological, consequentialist). Some interesting comments about what causes us to reject various systematisations of morality and whether our rejections are legitimate.
(tags: morality ethics philosophy)

Ignosticism

"Ignostics take issue with a question so fundamental it's often overlooked: What do you mean by "God"? Is "God" a coherent or cognitively meaningful thought? Is it premature, or even possible, to have a serious discussion about a vacuous concept?" Interesting: I tend to find discussion of the evangelical Christian God meaningful, but I have no idea what it would mean for some other sorts of god to exist.
(tags: ignosticism philosophy religion god)

Why The King’s Speech is a gross falsification | Film | The Guardian

The Hitch reckons it's rather too kind to Churchill and a bit too kind to George. Still a good film, but worth bearing in mind that it's not history.
(tags: history uk movie film hitchens europe nazis wwII war churchill royal christopher-hitchens)

A True Story Of Daily Mail Lies (guest post)

The Daily Mail are lying bastards. Who knew? (OK, probably you all knew, but it's worth seeing a specific example of outright fabrication of a story and refusal to apologise).
(tags: journalism law libel media daily-mail dailymail defamation newspaper newspapers)

Awkward ‘Christian tweet’ of the day!? | Jesus Needs New PR

Complementarian bad boy John Piper with a warning for us all (well, those of you who have daughters, at any rate).
(tags: complementarianism john-piper funny crazy christianity religion incest alcohol)

Did Vikings navigate by polarized light? : Nature News

Interesting, maybe even true.
(tags: physics history science)

Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness | Magazine

The controversy surrounding the proposed new edition of the DSM.
(tags: psychology science criticism dsm)

YouTube – The Lord of the Books of the 55 Arse-Hymens of Stone

Lord of the Rings audio book mashup. Horribly NSFW on the audio, utterly juvenile, hilarious. Via mefi
(tags: funny mashup lotr tolkein lord-of-the-rings fantasy audio)

YouTube – BBC Newsnight: UK Homeopathy Update 2011

Society of Homeopaths gets spanked on Newsnight, with a well deserved opportunity for revenge by Simon Singh.
(tags: homeopathy quackery medicine science simon-singh Newsnight)

The Last Psychiatrist: Wakefield And The Autism Fraud– The Other Part Of The Story

Wakefield's a fraud, but that's not the end of the story: why did it take so long to spot it?
(tags: science peer-review journalism autism mmr wakefield vaccine vaccination medicine)

Epiphenom: The cult of Theoi: sacrificing to the god of uncertainty

"What this study shows is that these students seem inherently resistant to learning that the forces at work are random. They started off with the assumption that Theoi would reward sacrifices, and they just didn't seem able to shake that assumption, despite all the evidence."
(tags: randomness religion science psychology)

Schneier on Security: Close the Washington Monument

"Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears."
(tags: security terrorism politics government washington tsa bruce-schneier)

Oxbridge isn’t racist – but it’s failing the working class | Liberal Conspiracy

Someone on Liberal Conspiracy actually looks at the stats behind the recent non-story. It's always a bit odd when the newspapers decide it's the responsibility of Oxford and Cambridge to carry out social engineering in a belated attempt to fix problems which occurred earlier in the system.
(tags: cambridge oxford racism education uk)

Less Wrong: Five-minute rationality techniques

Reader Digest rationality. Some good tips there.
(tags: rationality psychology less-wrong)

Kill or cure?

"Help to make sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it." Marvellous. Now there's no need to read the Heil.
(tags: cancer science health funny daily-mail journalism)

Hitchens: ‘We’re all dying, with me it’s accelerated’ – News, People – The Independent

Video and article. Martin Amis comes in carrying a bottle of beer half way through. We'll miss Hitchens, and no mistake.
(tags: hitchens cancer religion atheism christopher-hitchens)

Cult Divided On Whether To Let Women Become Telepathic-Vision Clerics | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Not the Church of England, this time. Via andrewducker.
(tags: funny onion religion telepathic cult)

Charlie Rose – Author Christopher Hitchens

The full interview with Hitchens (video, 1 hour long)
(tags: video christopher-hitchens cancer hitchens)

Hitchens Speaks Of God And Death During Interview | The New Republic

Commentary on Hitchens's statement that we should not believe any reports of a deathbed conversion, because even if it occurs, it would be because his mind had gone: "What is it, finally, that divides the believer from the atheist? … Levi and Hitchens imply that a person’s capacity to determine the truth depends on his or her ability to think calmly, coolly, dispassionately."
(tags: religion atheism death philosophy cancer hitchens christopher-hitchens primo-levi auschwitz)

TTA Press – Interzone: Science Fiction & Fantasy – Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

An Egan short story I'd not seen before. "You know what they say the modern version of Pascal’s Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God". Nice.
(tags: sci-fi ai sf science scifi fiction egan artificial-intelligence greg-egan)

On Self-Delusion and Bounded Rationality

or "Flowers for Carl Sagan", or something. A short story on whether it's always a good idea to know the truth.
(tags: psychology rationalism rationality philosophy reason science fiction humour)

A Letter to Patients With Chronic Disease

"You scare doctors… We don’t want to face things we can’t fix because it shows our limits. We want the miraculous, and you deny us that chance."
(tags: chronic doctors medical illness medicine)

Concern for Those Who Screen the Web for Barbarity – NYTimes.com

"An Internet content reviewer, Mr. Bess sifts through photographs that people upload to a big social networking site and keeps the illicit material — and there is plenty of it — from being posted." Rule 34 applies: some of these people end up needing counselling, apparently.
(tags: censorship filtering internet porn pornography social-networks)

Out with pink and blue: Don’t foster the gender divide – opinion – 19 July 2010 – New Scientist

Neurologist Lise Eliot argues that, while there are some differences innate differences between males and females, there's also a lot of plasticity in human brains.
(tags: gender science neuroscience brains psychology)

Kafkatrapping

'One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”'. Eric S. Raymond coins the phrase "kafkatrap" to describe a "heads I win, tails you lose" form of argument which sounds pretty similar to Suber's "logical rudeness".
(tags: culture debate debunking philosophy rhetoric racism sexism kafka esr)

Common Sense Atheism » Am I Sexist? (index)

Link to a series of posts: Luke at Common Sense Atheism put up a fairly crass "15 sexy scientists" post with pictures of said scientists (the scientists were all women, with the exception of PZ Myers). He got quite a strong reaction, especially over at Pharyngula (Myers's blog), read some Martha Nussbaum and eventually apologised and took down the posting.

Of note: for all that the atheists at Pharyngula tend to regard Christians as irrational, they aren't too keen on rationality when someone applies it to a domain where they mostly navigate by strong religious convictions (feminism, in this case). Luke initially seems hopelessly naive but ultimately finds the right answer and knows why it's right, which seems better than being cowed by yelling. Well done to him for publicly changing his mind.
(tags: rationality feminism sex objectification martha-nussbaum philosophy ethics morality sexism)

Top Eleven Reasons Why the Reformed Theologian Did not Cross the Road

Theology jokes are fun!
(tags: theology religion reformed joke funny)

App Inventor for Android

Graphical app builder for Android phones, for people who don't want to write Java. Interesting to contrast Google's approach with Apple's here: Apple have effectively banned this sort of thing.
(tags: programming development tools google mobile android)

Heresy Corner: The case against women bishops in the Church of England, reduced to seven words

I lol'd.
(tags: funny religion christianity misogyny sexism complementarianism church-of-england c-of-e synod)

“Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer on Vimeo

Yeah, I went to Soul Survivor once, too.
(tags: bible charismatic christian christianity humour satire parody church sunday video funny religion)

YouTube – Top 10 quirky science tricks for parties

I like the one about pouring CO2 onto candles to extinguish them.
(tags: science youtube magic video tricks physics chemistry)

Moderate Bouncers condemn Raoul Moat’s methods | NewsBiscuit

It's good to see moderate bouncers speaking out.
(tags: funny bouncers parody news)

Alt Text: Enter the Brave New World of Internet Psychology | Underwire | Wired.com

"The main symptom of a severely damaged person is that they don’t agree with you, so how can you convince them you’re right?" Via andrewducker.
(tags: funny internet psychology wired)

GodBlock – Protect your children

"GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions." Via Metafilter
(tags: religion atheism software censorship children web internet god funny parody filter)

Johann Hari: Did the media help to pull the trigger? – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

"Every time there is a massacre by a mentally ill person, like Derrick Bird's last month, journalists are warned by psychologists that, if we are not very careful in our reporting, we will spur copycat attacks by more mentally ill people. We ignored their warnings. We reported the case in precisely the way they said was most risky. Are we now seeing the result?"
(tags: murder psychology crime ethics guns journalism media violence uk suicide)

The Turn – 93.12

"At the very heart of winged flight lies the banked turn, a procedure that by now seems so routine and familiar that airline passengers appreciate neither its elegance and mystery nor its dangerously delusive character. The author, a pilot, takes us up into the subject"
(tags: flight history aviation flying banking physics)

YouTube – N559DW full flight with radar overlay – Doug White King Air landing HD

Via realinterrobang: passenger with a PPL for single engined light aircraft lands something a bit bigger when his pilot dies. Video of the radar with audio from the radio.
(tags: aviation flying pilot air-traffic-control emergency radar)

FIREFLY: The Credits Sequence It Deserved!

io9.com gives Joss Whedon's "Firefly' an 80s style intro sequence. Still not as good as Airwolf's, but a good effort.
(tags: video funny youtube television firefly intro)

YouTube – Carl Sagan: A Universe Not Made For Us

"Excerpts from Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. More specifically, from the chapter titled A Universe Not Made For Us. I edited together the audio from the audio-book, and added the video from Stephen Hawking's Into the Universe and Brian Cox's Wonders of the Solar System. The music is Jack's Theme from the Lost soundtrack."
(tags: cosmology astronomy sagan science evolution universe video youtube religion creationism)

Moral Realism in the Bible?

"Most theologians seem to think the Hebrew Bible presupposes a subjective theory of ethics that grounds right and wrong in the nature or attitudes of a person, Yahweh. This is called divine command theory. Bible scholar Jaco Gericke has proposed an alternate view: that some passages of the Bible presuppose objective moral realism, such that right and wrong are grounded in something beyond the attitudes of a person or persons. Under such a view, Yahweh might sometimes be wrong."
(tags: bible morality philosophy religion christianity)