Well, after taking a week off from blogging I’ve finally made it to the big number ten: Weekly Link Roundup #10. This week has also been an active week for the blog in general, with three new essays: “Does Christianity Contradict the Evidence?”, “The Map and the Territory”, and “Defining Away the Ontological Argument”.
There also has been some good conversations in the comments sections, which I am really excited about. We’ve had discussions in “The Map and The Territory” about how human motivation can influence empirical observations, in “Does Christianity Contradict Evidence?” about the retreat to possibility, and in “The Great Problem of Evil, Part III” about if we can define God’s goodness in terms of might makes right.
We also discussed in “Clarifying the Idea of Meaning” about the philosophical abstract possibility of humans being brains in vats, in “The End of Cartesian Demons” about disproving solipsism and defining naturalism, in “More Problems With Ultimate Purpose and Heaven” about what it means to have an ultimate purpose, and in “The Twelve Reasons I Don’t Believe in Supernatural Claims, Part I” about the difference between the mind and the brain.
All that is cool, but what are you here for, really? Hopefully the links. While the Weekly Link Roundup now serves the purpose of summarizing what has happened on the site in the past week, its primary purpose is to serve as a collection of all the cool articles I read in the past week and feel like passing onto others.
The links are also ordered so that the ones I like most are at the top, for those who don’t have time for all the links… but for those who do have time, I think all of them are worthwhile.
- 9/11, and the Shallow Comfort of Religion: “When it happened, I wished that I believed in God. For about four seconds. [...] And then I realized: If I believed in God, I wouldn’t be comforted. If I believed in God, I’d be furious. [...] I think the comforts of religion are only comforting when you don’t think about them very carefully.”
- Progressive Religious Believers’ Big Hypocrisy – Cherry-Picking the Parts of Religion they Like and Ditching the Rest: “If you’re just going to use your own conscience and your own mind to decide what’s right or wrong, true or false — why do you need God?”
- The Virtue of Narrowness: “What is true of one apple may not be true of another apple; thus more can be said about a single apple than about all the apples in the world.”
- The Lens That Sees Its Flaws: “Mice can see, but they can’t understand seeing. You can understand seeing, and because of that, you can do things which mice cannot do. Take a moment to marvel at this, for it is indeed marvelous.”
- Atheism = Untheism + Antitheism: “One occasionally sees such remarks as, ‘What good does it do to go around being angry about the nonexistence of God?’ (on the one hand) or ‘Babies are natural atheists’ (on the other). It seems to me that such remarks, and the rather silly discussions that get started around them, show that the concept ‘Atheism’ is really made up of two distinct components, which one might call ‘untheism’ and ‘antitheism’.”
- Morriston on Ethical Criticism of the Bible, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4: “Morriston criticises three sets of Christian responses to the passages in the bible in which God seems to condone or command genocide. First, he criticises the likes of William Lane Craig, Paul Copan and Richard Swinburne, who seem to support the biblically cited reasons for genocide. Second, he will criticise the likes of Eleonore Stump, who suggests alternative moral justifications for the genocide. And third, he will criticise the skeptical theist response to these cases.”
- How to seem good at everything – Stop doing stupid shit: “Even without the explosive growth in skill that eliminating stupidity usually comes with, it’s surprising how far just not making dumb mistakes will get people.”
- We Are All Ponzi Schemers Now: “If Social Security is a ‘monstrous lie,’ as Rick Perry says, then the entire federal government is a monstrous lie. Social Security is nothing special. It’s just another tax-funded program. Taxes come in, benefits go out.”
- 1,667 Times Square-Style Attacks Every Year: “That’s how many terrorism plots we would have to foil to justify our current spending on homeland security.”
- Slow Down! Why Some Languages Sound So Fast: “[S]ome languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that’s how they sound. But how could that be? The dialogue in movies translated from English to Spanish doesn’t whiz by in half the original time after all, which is what it should if the same lines were being spoken at double time. Similarly, Spanish films don’t take four hours to unspool when they’re translated into French. Somewhere among all the languages must be a great equalizer that keeps us conveying information at the same rate even if the speed limits vary from tongue to tongue.”
- Rational Communication: “Like most of the skills involved in nursing, and like many of the skills involved in rationality, communication skills aren’t well transmitted by book learning.”
- The Two-Bucket Mind: “My hypothesis is that we humans automatically sort topics into two opposing viewpoints, or buckets. In the rare cases when we encounter a third opinion, we can’t easily process it because our brains don’t have a third bucket.”
- How to Create (Not Find) the Meaning of Your Life: “People should spend more time thinking about the meaning of their own lives, than the meaning of life in general.”
- Recessions Under the Gold Standard: “Anyway, one alleged fact I keep hearing is that recessions were short and shallow under the gold standard. I don’t know where that’s coming from, but it just ain’t so. [...] Gold is no panacea.”
- Treasuries, TIPS, and Gold: “Well, I’ve been thinking about it — and the answer surprised me: soaring gold prices may be quite consistent with a deflationista story about the economy.”
- Make Evidence Charts, Not Review Papers: “Conventional articles can be nice, but science needs new forms of communication. Here I’ve focused on the omission problem in articles. [...] Hal Pashler and I have created, together with Chris Simon of the Scotney Group who did the actual programming, a tool that addresses these problems. It allows one to create systematic reviews of a topic, without having to write many thousands of words, and without having to weave all the studies together with a narrative unified by a single theory.”
- The Social Psychology of Burning Man: “Burning Man is also a large-scale social experiment. The 50,000 people who converge on the desert each year create a temporary but legitimate city – roughly the size of Santa Cruz, CA or Flagstaff, AZ — with its own street grid, laws, and social mores. In the process, they attempt to do away with several of the most fundamental institutions underlying modern civilization.”
- Why I Am Not a Compatibilist: “Suppose I want a certain woman to love me and, luckily, have the alchemy skills to concoct a perfect love potion. All I have to do is put a drop of the potion in her drink and her mind will be permanently altered in such a way that she will love me more than anyone else. [...] Loving me is what she herself wants to do and, since she has the freedom to act accordingly, she will. On the compatibilist view, she would have all the freedom ‘worth wanting.’ She is free to pursue the will that I gave her. But is this freedom or the perfect form of slavery?”
- Regulations and Job Creation: “This describes what has happened with respect to smoking and climate change. Corporate executives see a regulation as hindering their profits and turn a blind eye to the fact that the regulation aims to prevent them from profiting by killing and maiming other people and destroying their property.”
- Bastet – Bastard Tetris: “Have you ever thought Tetris(R) was evil because it wouldn’t send you that straight ‘I’ brick you needed in order to clear four rows at the same time? Well Tetris(R) probably isn’t evil, but Bastet certainly is. >:-) [...] Unlike normal Tetris(R), however, Bastet does not choose your next brick at random. Instead, Bastet uses a special algorithm designed to choose the worst brick possible. As you can imagine, playing Bastet can be a very frustrating experience!”
I now blog at EverydayUtilitarian.com. I hope you'll join me at my new blog! This page has been left as an archive.