A Weekly Link Roundup contains links to articles on the web that I found worth reading. Remember, I don’t necessarily agree with everything said by these links; I just post what I find to be interesting and well-written. If you want to know whether I support a particular opinion you see, feel free to ask. And if you need a couple hundred more links, don’t be afraid to look to the link roundup category.
Link Roundups used to contain a summary of the discussions I’ve participated in here and elsewhere on the blog, but I’ve decided to separate that into a new upcoming “Discussion Roundup” series.
- Morality – From Heavens or From Nature? [YouTube]: “Dr. Andy Thomson gives a talk on morality at the Atheist Alliance International 2009 Conference in Burbank, California. Dr. Thomson uses Francis Collins’ claim that morality is proof of God as a jumping-off point to discuss what we know about how morality works and where it came from.”
- Why The Arguments for God’s Existence Suck [YouTube]: “JT Eberhard is an SSA Campus Organizer specializing in High School groups. He co-founded the Missouri State University Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which became one of the nation’s largest college skeptic groups. He is most recognized as the co-founder of the Skepticon annual convention. Now in its third year, JT has been the lead organizer since Skepticon’s inception and has appeared as the emcee during the first two years and as a speaker the last two years.”
- The Most Sensible Tax of All [NYTimes]: “Substituting a carbon tax for some of our current taxes — on payroll, on investment, on businesses and on workers — is a no-brainer. Why tax good things when you can tax bad things, like emissions? The idea has support from economists across the political spectrum, from Arthur B. Laffer and N. Gregory Mankiw on the right to Peter Orszag and Joseph E. Stiglitz on the left. That’s because economists know that a carbon tax swap can reduce the economic drag created by our current tax system and increase long-run growth by nudging the economy away from consumption and borrowing and toward saving and investment.”
- Does Medicaid Matter? – If only we could arbitrarily deny coverage to some poor people…: “There is (apparently) a debate on whether needy people would be better off relying on emergency rooms and charity than Medicaid. One could try to test the effect of Medicaid by comparing the health & wealth of people enrolled in Medicaid with similar people who are not enrolled, but this is complicated by selection effects. Scholars could try to resolve this with an experiment, but this runs afoul of human subjects regulations and, well, basic morality[. ...] Luckily, in 2008, Oregon offered just such an experiment. It could only afford to offer coverage to 10,000 of the 90,000 eligible applicants for its Medicaid program, and chose to allocate the slots by lottery.”
- Inching Towards Generalization: “I like to say that research is the pursuit of responsible generalization. I’m excited that just in the last few months, it has become possible to generalize more responsibly about the impacts of microfinance. Fortunately, the latest results strengthen the conclusions of my book—they don’t show that microcredit cures poverty after all. More importantly, they enrich our understanding of the impacts of microfinance.”
- What Part of ‘Austerity Isn’t Working’ Don’t People Get?: “As I prepared for a talk on austerity last week, I found myself a bit stuck. What can you say other than that it’s very clearly not working, nor should we expect it to, nor has it ever? And then I hit upon what I think is the key question: Why do governments stick with the austerity approach when all the evidence suggests it’s a total failure?”
- Why We Believe in Gods [YouTube]: “Andy Thomson gives his talk titled ‘Why We Believe in Gods’ at the American Atheist 2009 convention in Atlanta, Georgia.”
- Gospel Disproof #32: Salvation By Faith: “Salvation by faith is a way to earn your salvation by deliberately choosing not to let the evidence deter you from gullibly embracing what the preacher says, just because the preacher says it. The “virtue” in your faith that makes it worthy of saving you is that you had to make a deliberate choice not to accept the real-world evidence, and to accept the words of men instead. It is a conscious, mental effort that you make on your own behalf in order to obtain salvation for yourself.”
- Three Questions Help Me Live a More Fulfilling Life: “I am on a plane with my wife Eleanor as we fly back from our once-a-year-without-children vacation. It was, for us, the perfect week. After years of planning vacations, we’ve finally figured out how to reliably create a meaningful, fun, fulfilling week. The solution was answering three questions[: What is the vacation about? What is the day about? What is the moment about?]“
- Biased Accomodations: “As a society we tend to be much more accommodating of some commitments (e.g. religious or familial) than others (hobbies, etc.). Is this fair?”
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