Weekly Link Roundup #16

Wow, who knew I would finally make it to 2^2^2 weekly link roundups? How long will it be until I have 2^2^2^2 weekly link roundups? (Answer: 1256 years).

Now I begin what currently are the three parts of a Weekly Link Roundup: the NaNoWriMo recap, the blog recap, and links themselves!


The Final NaNoWriMo Recap!

This is the last Weekly Link Roundup for this 2011 NaNoWriMo Experiment. For this experiment, I have two goals: write 50000 words and write 30 blog posts by the end of November (November 30 11:59PM EST). How am I doing on these goals? Well, I have beaten my first one!

Yes! Now that this link round-up is complete, I have written 50671 words (101.34%), breaking the 50000 word barrier! With the comments that I have written to people on this site, my word total goes up even further to 56265 (112.53%). The first goal is no more. Smashed in victory!

However, as of this writing, I have a bit more to go on the second goal of 30 essays, which is turning out to be more difficult than I anticipated. Currently I have 27 essays (90%) written, and need to get three more out in order to win at both my NaNoWriMo goals! In a world where only three essays remain, a race against time… Can he do it? Will he succeed? Tune in…


This Week on the Blog!

Now what has been going on the blog this week? On Sunday, I wrote “Rating Presidential Candidates by the PolitiFact Heuristic” which introduced the concept of using heuristics to make political decisions, and then showed a potential way to determine the most honest candidate based on ratings. Bryan at Sublime Bloviations responds that the heuristic may be inaccurate because PoltiFact itself is potentially unreliable.

On Monday, I wrote “The Metaphysics Dilemma” which sets my opinion on both naturalism and metaphysics, and attempts to solve the false-or-too-vague dilemma in naturalism. I conclude that my metaphysics is basically just physics plus what it means to exist, and that my naturalism is not the position that only physical things exist, but that the current nonphysical (supernatural) things are incoherent. This essay got a conversation going about what useful things philosophers could do with metaphysics — explain existence and why/how certain things exist.

On Tuesday, I wrote “Making the Question Go Away” which further defends my thesis that supernaturalism is incoherent, has no explanatory merit, and thus should be rejected as a hypothesis to explain how the world works.

On Wednesday, I wrote “There are No Religious Facts” which defends the ideas that (1) there is no way to resolve a religious disagreement and that (2) the existence of disagreement, especially unresolvable disagreement, in a religion is an indication that religion is false. Given that all religions have unresolvable disagreement, all religions are false.

On Thursday, I hosted my third guest post — “Moving Forward to NaNoWriMo” by Emily Matthews, an article that contains an overview of NaNoWriMo and some reasons for doing it.

On Friday, I wrote “Proving God Through Cosmology” that took a look at the cosmological argument for God’s existence, explained how the failure of this argument is the end of rational belief in God, and then showed how the argument failed because the universe did not “begin to exist” and could not be “caused to exist” by any coherent explanation.

Lastly, on Saturday, I wrote “The Biblical God is a Malevolent Bully, Part I”, which begins a critical examination of very questionable Bible verses that demonstrate that the Christian God is evil based on the Bible alone.


The Links!

Here is a list of links that I have discovered within the past weeks that I find interesting enough to want to share with others:

(1) 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.

(2) The Link Roundup category has, I’d estimate, over 250 more links if you need the extra distraction. I don’t even think you could read them all before the next week brings you more links!

(3) I don’t necessarily agree with everything said by these links; I just post what I find to be interesting and well-written.


  • A Seriously Warped Moral Compass: “This is one of the primary reasons I, as an atheist, oppose religion: because it can warp and distort people’s moral priorities, blinding them to true evils while causing them to obsessively focus on things that are not problems at all. In both of these respects, the villain is faith: blind belief in the unseen, the unevidenced, and the irrational. Only when we reject faith as a method of decision-making and instead base our morality on reason can we undo the damage that religion has done.”
  • More Christians Defending Genocide: “If it was indeed true that some of the Canaanites were sacrificing children in the name of religion, and God saw this as an evil practice that had to be stopped, why didn’t he just command the deaths of the people who were committing this evil deed, and not go on to also kill all the children who were designated to be sacrificed?”
  • Atheism, Openness, and Caring About Reality – Or, Why What We Don’t Believe Matters: “But if we care about reality, we need to not deceive ourselves into believing that our stories are true. We need to be very careful about distinguishing between our useful metaphors about the world, and our accurate descriptions of it. We need to be very careful about distinguishing between the stories we make up in our own heads about the universe… and what the universe, through evidence, is saying about itself.”
  • Why Our Kind Can’t Cooperate: “Yes, a group which can’t tolerate disagreement is not rational. But if you tolerate only disagreement – if you tolerate disagreement but not agreement – then you also are not rational. You’re only willing to hear some honest thoughts, but not others. You are a dangerous half-a-rationalist.”
  • Beware Trivial Inconveniences: “The human longing for freedom of information is a terrible and wonderful thing. It delineates a pivotal difference between mental emancipation and slavery. It has launched protests, rebellions, and revolutions. Thousands have devoted their lives to it, thousands of others have even died for it. And it can be stopped dead in its tracks by requiring people to search for ‘how to set up proxy’ before viewing their anti-government website.”
  • Why Change Your Mind?: “In this view, the atheist who says, ‘I never believe anything unless I have evidence for it’ is saying something profoundly stupid. Such a principle would require a retreat to near total skepticism”
  • Study: Ethical People More Satisfied With Life: “What I found is, generally, people who believe that these particular ethical scenarios are not acceptable also tend to indicate they are more satisfied with life. That’s with controlling for other factors that scholars have shown are also correlated with happiness, including relative wealth.”
  • Is Morality Unified? Evidence that Distinct Neural Systems Underlie Moral Judgments of Harm, Dishonesty, and Disgust: “Is it worse to cheat on an exam or to eat your dog? Consideration of these acts feels very different, yet we tend to classify a diverse variety of acts as “morally wrong.” This common linguistic label does not ensure that moral judgments of such diverse acts are similar enough to be studied as a single kind of judgment. Nonetheless, research investigating moral judgments has tended to treat moral judgments pertaining to vastly different contents as comparable or even equivalent.”
  • Some Considerations Against More Investment in Cost-Effectiveness Estimates: “we are arguing that focusing on directly estimating cost-effectiveness is not the best way to maximize cost-effectiveness. We believe there are alternative ways of maximizing cost-effectiveness – in particular, making limited use of cost-effectiveness estimates while focusing on finding high-quality evidence”
  • Where Recursive Justification Hits Bottom: “If every belief must be justified, and those justifications in turn must be justified, then how is the infinite recursion terminated? And if you’re allowed to end in something assumed-without-justification, then why aren’t you allowed to assume anything without justification?”
  • Education: “Even more important is to change mere information into knowledge, and for that in turn to develop into understanding. Guiding this process should, I think, be the teacher’s main role. Quickly forgotten isolated factoids don’t even make it to the second stage knowledge, and they certainly don’t contribute much to our overall understanding. Learning a whole bunch of pointless facts is just… well, pointless.”
  • Philosophical Health Check: The Philosophical Health Check checks to see if the sum of your philosophical positions is contradictory.
  • Empty Definitions: “One of the most frustrating aspects of non-philosophers’ attempts to dabble in philosophy is that they tend not to clearly separate terminological and substantive questions. They often claim that disputes (from ethics to philosophy of mind) are just a matter of how we choose to “define” our terms. This is not so. How we define our terms will of course affect what claim we are making (or what proposition we express) when we assert some sentence. But the claim itself may concern some entirely language-independent matter of fact.”
  • FactCheck: A ‘Job-Killing’ Law?: “House Republicans misrepresent the facts. Experts predict the health care law will have little effect on employment.”
  • Friday’s Deals May Not Be the Best: “It is not until early December, Professor Etzioni’s research shows, that prices are likely to be the lowest for electronics, products that are among the biggest sellers on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”


I now blog at EverydayUtilitarian.com. I hope you'll join me at my new blog! This page has been left as an archive.

On 27 Nov 2011 in All, Link Roundup. 1 Comment.

One Comment

  1. #1 Garren says:
    30 Nov 2011, 7:51 pm  

    Congrats on the wordiness progress! This means your remaining essays can be in haiku form.

    I intend to comment on your personal identity essays soon-ish, especially since I wrote something in the neighborhood this week.

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