Link blog: history, paralysis, psychology, barter

gource – software version control visualization – Google Project Hosting

Cool tool which produces a video of your code’s history.
(tags: video programming history software tools)

David Graeber: On the Invention of Money – Notes on Sex, Adventure, Monomaniacal Sociopathy and the True Function of Economics « naked capitalism

Interesting demolition of the idea that barter economies always precede the invention of money.
(tags: economics anthropology money history sex barter)

The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills – Atlantic Mobile

Sleep paralysis and the Nocebo effect as a potential killer.
(tags: science psychology sleep paralysis)

Link blog: psychology, science, sex, dan-savage

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)

Link blog: homosexuality, christianity, law, foster

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)

“Bigots never foster, part deux” or “What the Court really said”

I’ve got some links about this queued up in the link blog, but it seemed worth a proper post as well as the silly one about frogs.

What the Court really said

So, what happened in the recent case of Owen and Eunice Johns is that both sides (the Johns and Derby Council) asked the court for a ruling on an abstract point. Contrary to what you’ve read in the press about a “ban” on Christians fostering, Derby Council hadn’t decided that they couldn’t be foster parents, so the Johns were not seeking to overturn a decision, merely to establish a principle. (It’s also worth mentioning that many Christians do not have bigoted views on homosexuality, and so talk of a ban on “Christians” is too broad).

The full text of the judgement should be required reading for anyone tempted to spout off about the case. It’s a bit long, but there are moments of light relief, such as when the Court rounds on the Johns’ barrister, Paul Diamond, who was funded by the infamous Christian Legal Centre:

In his skeleton argument and in his oral submissions, Mr Diamond lays much emphasis upon various arguments, many of them couched in extravagant rhetoric, which, to speak plainly, are for the greater part, in our judgment, simply wrong as to the factual premises on which they are based and at best tendentious in their analysis of the issues.

The Court makes reference to previous cases of anti-gay Christians seeking legal relief, such as the Gary McFarlane case, in which the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, intervened. The judges consider the previous judgements both correct and binding on them. As such, at the end of the case, they don’t grant either side what they’re asking for, and it’s still up to the council to make their decision.

Old time religion

The courts are clear, both in this judgement and previous ones, that they are not ruling that anti-gay Christians are bigots: that’s my language, not theirs. For my part, I have Christian friends who probably share some of the Johns’ views. I think the best analogy I can find to that is the way much-loved elderly relatives sometimes start going on about “darkies” and immigrants and whatnot: it’s obviously nasty, but you feel more embarrassed for the relatives than worried about the effect on black or Asian people. Usually, it’s easier just to stay off the topic. (Edit: I elaborate on this analogy in discussion with tifferrobinson on an old post, here). However, when that sort of thing comes from the mouths of people paid to act for the State, I don’t think it can be allowed to stand.

A couple of Christian commentators have distinguished themselves by writing sensible stuff on this most recent court case: I commend to you Christian journalist Gavin Drake, who sounds even more annoyed with the CLC than me (perhaps because they’re letting the side down); and Peter Ould (who I remember from my uk.religion.christian days).

At the end of his piece, Ould goes into the consequences for bigoted Christians: their continued attempts to make hay in the courts are failing, and he suggests that they should switch tactics, and instead look to the legislature, though I have to say that I don’t expect them to do particularly well there, either: the Lib-Dems are liberal, and Cameron has been careful to disassociate himself from the crazy anti-gay right in his party.

Ould also points out the oddity of a monarch sworn to uphold the laws of God and a judiciary who no longer think that Christianity has a special place in UK law. I can’t help but agree: disestablishment would now seem to be unfinished business, and I’d be in favour of it. It’d get the bishops out of the House of Lords, and maybe it’d stop bigoted Christians from wasting the courts’ time with these fruitless lawsuits.

Edited: Bishop Alan Wilson also has some useful thoughts on the matter.

Asking women out at partner dancing: a Less Wrong thread

Over on Less Wrong, an interesting post on ordinary skills that readers happent to lack has developed into an interesting sub-thread about guys asking women out at dancing. I’ve contributed a bit. As I’m male, though, I may be completely wrong, so if any dancing women want to comment, I’m sure it’d be appreciated.

PS: Read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It’s great!

Link blog: crazy, russell, watering-can, youtube

Why the Cornish hotel ruling should worry conservative Christians | Andrew Brown | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Andrew Brown on the ruling against a some Christian hoteliers who refused a double room to a gay couple. The Christians would also not allow unmarried straight couples to share a double bed, but the judge made the decision on the basis that the gay couple were civil partners.
(tags: religion sex homosexuality law society andrew-brown)

YouTube – crazy watering can

Sort of Russell's Teapot with some bite: a brilliantly edited video. Apparently done as a homework assignment: can you do this stuff on home equipment these days? via mefi.
(tags: religion crazy watering-can video youtube teapot russell)

Link blog: ai, chatroulette, sex, pornography

YouTube – Simon Blackburn – The Great Debate: Can Science Tell us Right From Wrong? (6)

I'm reading Blackburn's "Truth" at the moment, and "Being Good" is next on the queue (clearly I should get "Lust" to complete the set). Here he is arguing that Sam Harris is wrong to claim that science can answer all moral questions.
(tags: sam-harris morality ethics simon-blackburn blackburn harris philosophy)

Chatroulette Founder Andrey Ternovskiy Raises New Funding: “50,000 Naked Men” | Fast Company

Chatroulette makes money of naked guys. Neat hack.
(tags: internet funny pornography chatroulette)

LessWrong – RationalWiki

What's wrong with Less Wrong, from RationalWiki. I didn't know about the Roko stuff, for example, which seems pretty bizarre. Always useful to see criticism to counteract my fanboy tendencies.
(tags: lesswrong eliezer-yudkowsky rationality bayesian bayes artificial-intelligence ai)

Double agent | World news | The Guardian

"Norah Vincent spent 18 months disguised as a man. She relives the boys nights out, the bad dates – and what happened when she ended up in bed with another woman." Women don't quite know what dating is like as a guy, it turns out. Or at least, Norah didn't, and ended up being quite sympathetic when she'd tried it 🙂
(tags: equality gender women men dating sex relationships)

Link blog: video, atheism, negotiation, johann-hari

Verbal Judo: Diffusing Conflict Through Conversation

An ex-English Professor and ex-Cop, George Thompson, who now teaches a method he calls "Verbal Judo", a primer on communications techniques, focusing on defensive & redirection tactics. This is a link to the Less Wrong thread where there's a comment giving a summary, though the video is good too (but long, as 1:30).
(tags: language psychology rationality video lectures negotiation persuasion)

YouTube – What Atheists Can Learn from the LGBT Movement :: 2010 Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference

Greta Christina gives an hour long talk, which is pretty interesting. One thing I learned was that I probably wouldn't want to live in America, if atheists there have it as bad as LGBT people, though I suppose a lot of it depends on where you are and who you mix with. Interesting bit at the end on how if atheists "win", atheism won't mean you're special, super-rational or whatever: I think we can see that in this country, certainly.
(tags: homosexuality lgbt atheism greta-christina video youtube)

NEVER WAKE UP: THE MEANING AND SECRET OF INCEPTION

Seems to make sense. Obviously, contains huge spoilers. Via Penny Arcade.
(tags: inception film movie science-fiction sci-fi dreams)

The slow, whiny death of British Christianity : Johann Hari

Johann Hari gets all strident neo-toxic sceptical neo-atheist (you missed "shrill" – Ed.): "As their dusty Churches crumble because nobody wants to go there, the few remaining Christians in Britain will only become more angry and uncomprehending." He's right about "whiny", though.
(tags: christianity religion atheism secularism uk hari johann-hari)

Don’t Be Ugly By Accident! « OkTrends

OKCupid, the dating site, took data from uploaded photographs and used it to work out some interesting stats. The better the camera you use for your pic, the hotter you look. iPhone users get laid more. Using a flash makes you look older. And so on. Interesting stuff. Via Mefi.
(tags: photography statistics research dating iphone okcupid sex relationships)

Link blog: sexism, philosophy, filtering, porn

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)

Reform and the Interminable Anglican Sex Kerfuffle

Down at the Graun, they’ve been looking into those “traditionalists” in the Church of England, the ones who are involved in the most recent bout of the Interminable Anglican Sex Kerfuffle. Andrew Brown has discovered complementarianism, and he doesn’t approve. He’s found the Doctrinal Rectitude Trust‘s site, wherein he’s learned that trustees sign various declarations of their doctrinal rectitude, annually (which seems a bit lax: I’d go for twice nightly, and three times on Saturdays). We’ve discussed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy before, and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was mentioned during the ComplementarianFail drama of 2009. It’s the Danvers Statement which has Brown so exercised, and he quotes a few choice passages from it for your enjoyment.

Intelligent, willing submission

Now, my old church was a Reform one, so I remember a bit about this stuff. I’ve been sharing my memories of those halycon days of “intelligent, willing submission” here; wheeling out the inevitable Houseplants of Gor gag (and handcuffs) here (another commenter has actually read John Norman’s books: fun times); making simont‘s point about the failure mode of complementarianism here; and arguing that Christianity is not necessarily evil here.

Some of the reports I’ve seen about the Sex Kerfuffle have been theologically confused (not Brown’s of course: he correctly identifies the Reform people as Calvinists). It’s reported that the “traditionalists” might all defect to Rome: in Reform’s case, this is about as likely as Ian Paisley getting all chummy with Jessel the Tri-felge Putenard. The traditionalists are two distinct groups, both of whom suspect that the other lot aren’t really Christians, but who are prepared to make common cause over the vital issue of penises and the possession (bishops must have them) and disposition (they must not put them too near other men) of the same. It is the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who might defect to Rome.

Disestablishmentarianism

The Graun‘s recent editorial warned that the church should either get with the programme or face disestablishment: “The Church of England now expects both the benefits of establishment and the cultural freedom of private religion. At the very least, a national church should not become disconnected from the best values of the country it serves.”

The Graun seems to think that the established church should be what Andrew Rilstone describes as “the Church of Dumbledore”, a sort of deistic religion whose purpose is to work for social goods, “baptising the dead and burying the sick”. Rilstone originally wrote The Ballad of Reading Diocese the previous time a Kerfuffle over Jeffrey John arose, but it remains as relevant as it was then.

The National God Service, the Church of Dumbledore, seems to be one of those oddly British historical vestiges, like the monarchy. While I don’t particularly see the point of it, it hardly seems worth the trouble of getting rid of it. A church which patronises women and views gay relationships as sinful, on the other hand, should go its own way: the state should have nothing to do with such an organisation. It’s not clear to me who’s currently winning: I’ll watch developments with interest.