The weekly link roundup is where I list links for the links that I liked for the week. Remember that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in every article. Feel free to comment or ask. Lastly, it may be worth noting that I do try to sort these links in the order that I like them, descending. You can see the other roundups via the category page.
- The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality And What To Do About It [PDF]: “In this essay I argue that ordinary moral thought and language is, while very natural, highly counterproductive and that as a result we would be wise to change the way we think and talk about moral matters. First, I argue on metaphysical grounds against moral realism, the view according to which there are first order moral truths. Second, I draw on principles of moral psychology, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory to explain why moral realism appears to be true even though it is not. I then argue, based on the picture of moral psychology developed herein, that realist moral language and thought promotes misunderstanding and exacerbates conflict. I consider a number of standard views concerning the practical implications of moral anti-realism and reject them. I then sketch and defend a set of alternative revisionist proposals for improving moral discourse, chief among them the elimination of realist moral language, especially deontological language, and the promotion of an anti-realist utilitarian framework for discussing moral issues of public concern.”
- Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences: “Even if we disregard the overwhelming evidence for the dependence of consciousness on the brain, there remains strong evidence from reports of near-death experiences themselves that NDEs are not glimpses of an afterlife. This evidence includes: (1) discrepancies between what is seen in the out-of-body component of an NDE and what’s actually happening in the physical world; (2) bodily sensations incorporated into the NDE, either as they are or experienced as NDE imagery; (3) encountering living persons during NDEs; (4) the greater variety of differences than similarities between different NDEs, where specific details of NDEs generally conform to cultural expectation; (5) the typical randomness or insignificance of the memories retrieved during those few NDEs that include a life review; (6) NDEs where the experiencer makes a decision not to return to life by crossing a barrier or threshold viewed as a ‘point of no return,’ but is restored to life anyway; (7) hallucinatory imagery in NDEs, including encounters with mythological creatures and fictional characters; and (8) the failure of predictions in those instances in which experiencers report seeing future events during NDEs or gaining psychic abilities after them.”
- Outsourcing: “I hold that outsourcing tends to benefit the average American and, even if it did not – at its worst, outsourcing lifts people out of poverty, giving them better access to medical care and education and greater opportunities in their own lives at a small cost to those in the top 10% in terms of global income.”
- How Much Has Citizens United Changed the Political Game?: “The reason for this exponential leap in political spending, if you talk to most Democrats or read most news reports, comes down to two words: Citizens United. [...] As a matter of political strategy, this is a useful story to tell, appealing to liberals and independent voters who aren’t necessarily enthusiastic about the administration but who are concerned about societal inequality, which is why President Obama has made it a rallying cry almost from the moment the Citizens United ruling was made. But if you’re trying to understand what’s really going on with politics and money, the accepted narrative around Citizens United is, at best, overly simplistic. And in some respects, it’s just plain wrong.”
- What The Tea Partiers Really Want: “The notion of karma comes with lots of new-age baggage, but it is an old and very conservative idea. It is the Sanskrit word for ‘deed’ or ‘action,’ and the law of karma says that for every action, there is an equal and morally commensurate reaction. Kindness, honesty and hard work will (eventually) bring good fortune; cruelty, deceit and laziness will (eventually) bring suffering. No divine intervention is required; it’s just a law of the universe, like gravity.”
- Replication Studies – Bad Copy: “Bem published his findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP) along with eight other experiments1 providing evidence for what he refers to as “psi”, or psychic effects. There is, needless to say, no shortage of scientists sceptical about his claims. Three research teams independently tried to replicate the effect Bem had reported and, when they could not, they faced serious obstacles to publishing their results. The episode served as a wake-up call.”
- God Mode: “For every natural explanation it requires 10x the amount of work, knowledge, and organization to convey how things work in the physical world. Why? Because the naturalist must “play be the rules” of nature. However, the apologist need only assume an omnipotent entity, capable of making new rules as they go along, and then they can weasel their way out of any otherwise impossible situation.”
- Revenge as A Charitable Act: “Imagine a world in which everyone who was swindled by a crappy employer quit immediately and went on jihad against them. The world would very soon be empty of crappy employers; the only successful employers would be those who realized they couldn’t get away with mistreating their workers. By taking revenge, I’m sacrificing my own pleasure – my job and my time – in order to help create a world where crappy behavior isn’t tolerated and doesn’t happen anymore.”
- Finding Our False Beliefs: “By definition, we believe that each of our beliefs is true. And yet, simultaneously, we must admit that some of our beliefs must be wrong. We can’t possibly have gotten absolutely everything right. [...] But all hope is not lost. We can effectively reason about which of our beliefs are more likely to be correct, and which are more likely to be in error. Even if we feel equally strong feelings of belief for two ideas, further considerations can make us realize that we are more likely to be correct in one of the cases than the other. [...] Consider the following properties that beliefs can have. Each of these is an indicator that a belief is less likely to be true.”
- Both Sides [YouTube]: “No matter what the issue, JP Nickel gives you… Both Sides.”
- Notes From the Frontline – Well, Search Me!: “I’m always really confused by the searches they do at airports. If I thought that the person I was searching might have a weapon on them, I wouldn’t dream of conducting an airport search. I have found knives (even ceramic ones that wouldn’t snow up on airport metal detection scanners) on people in all sorts of weird hiding places, including taped high to the inside of their thighs, or clenched between someone’s butt-cheeks. You can do an incredible amount of damage to someone with a simple straight razor blade, and the size and shape of them are perfect for hiding in all sorts of places. Trust me: There’s no way a half-hearted pat-down finds a razor blade gaffer-taped to the inside of someone’s upper arm, or in the centre of their chest.”
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? The Controversial Peter Singer: “Recently, I had the opportunity to eat, drink and make moral calculations with philosopher Peter Singer. [...] The first order of business was to choose a restaurant. Singer had only put forth one requirement: there had to be a vegan entrée on the menu. But as a good utilitarian, I knew I had to weigh a parade of other factors. His hotel was in Santa Monica, so I chose a place nearby so as to save fuel and not contribute to global warming. I selected a totally vegan place, as a gesture to encourage exemplary establishments to be fruitful and multiply. [...] I picked up Singer from his hotel and flipped on the car’s air conditioning because I wanted my important guest to be comfortable. In a polite way, he explained how my action was destroying the environment and suggested we simply lower the windows. I couldn’t believe it; I had already screwed up! I quietly chastised myself for failing to make the necessary moral calculation.”
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