Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Great Stephen Gould Quote on Evolution

What appears below can be found at the beginning of Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995). It’s hard to contrast the West’s religious era with its secular era more clearly. So much is implied in the way Gould has put this: … Continue reading

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Increasing Knowledge Does Not Increase The Peace

That, at any rate, is John Gray’s thesis, and he has a new book out. In a recent interview at The Spectator, he had this to say: [K]nowledge can never eradicate the conflicts of the human world, or produce harmony where … Continue reading

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Beauty Explained

Sounds right to me. ___________ A quick thought: what if the very things that move us in landscape paintings (water in the distance, grassy fields, etc.) are the very same stimulants that our ancestors followed out of Africa 60,000 years … Continue reading

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Awesome

This comes via The Huffington Post (in case you missed it): Employees at a Motor Vehicle Commission office in New Jersey called the police on Feb. 2, when a man claiming to be a “Pastafarian” — a follower of a … Continue reading

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Some Push Back Against Global Warming Denialists

The three charts below, from Discovery News, debunk the recent meme being circulated by right-wing entertainment outlets that global warming has stalled. The first chart shows how the scientific findings get cherry picked by the likes of Drudge, Limbaugh, and Fox … Continue reading

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Why Global Warming is True: Converging Lines of Evidence

The below video provides a wonderful example of how you can increase the confidence of your conclusions through converging lines of evidence. The chart at the end of the clip is quite simply stunning. __________ We know the earth is … Continue reading

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Astronomer Phil Plait on How to Stop Asteroids

After Russia’s nervy meteor encounter last week, the following TED talk by Phil Plait is obviously important:

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What You Earn Correlates With What Your Children Will Earn

On income inequality in America, this comes from Scott Winship: Only 13 percent of children starting in the bottom fifth [of income] will end up in the top two-fifths in adulthood (compared with 63 percent of children who start out … Continue reading

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The Ultimate Revenge Fantasy Movie

One of the ironies here is that this is exactly how a lot of Christian fundamentalists imagine Jesus actually returning (a lamb the first time, a lion the second). Another irony is that one could never even make such a … Continue reading

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Thinking Critically about Critical Theory

First thought. The broad takeaway insight of postmodernism is the following: there is always more in a text than the author knows or intends. This goes rather nicely with Nietzsche’s claim that “there are no facts, only interpretations.” But before … Continue reading

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Chimps are Smarter and Faster Than You at Some Tasks, Therefore God Exists?

Natural selection has given chimps a phenomenal short term memory. Japanese researchers have found that if you flash the average chimpanzee a screen of numbers in different locations up to nine, then cause the screen to disappear, the chimp can … Continue reading

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The End of Faith Through Critical Thinking

Here’s the Pew polling numbers on God belief: __________ And here’s University of Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne’s tart take on what the numbers tell us: [P]racticing science erodes one’s religious belief. Sounds right to me. Critical thinking on weekdays and … Continue reading

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Mr. Cruz and His Seven Dwarfs

Concerning the new senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, this is in The New York Times today: Mr. Cruz was among the 22 senators who voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, […] Great start. And The Times also reports … Continue reading

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Russian Meteorite

Nervy.

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Billionaire Russian Roman Abramovich’s Yacht in New York

The biggest yacht in the world, owned by a Russian billionaire, came down the Hudson River today: __________ Here’s more footage of it: __________ It will be docked in New York for perhaps a month or more, establishing temporary residency. … Continue reading

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Doubt Concerning Ultimate Claims

If someone is making a claim about the ultimate origin of things, and you doubt the claim, you might bring up Herbert Spencer. Spencer was a 19th century philosopher and popularizer of Charles Darwin’s ideas, and for Spencer, beneath all … Continue reading

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Stalin and Mao, BFF

Stalin and Mao on currency, 1950: __________ I post the above currency image because I’ve been thinking about how images function to make the individual viewer feel like Dorothy before the Wizard of Oz (small and weak before The Great … Continue reading

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Thinking about Obsession and Compulsion

It’s that locked down quality that I’m thinking of, like a bulldog latched and focused on a limb. Dante, in his Inferno, sets the obsessive and compulsive in the outer circles of hell. The obsessive and compulsive are not as … Continue reading

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Do MOOCs Spell the End of the Traditional College Experience?

At The American Interest Nathan Harden, playing prophet, makes a pretty alarming prediction: In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology … Continue reading

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Enlightenment Up!

The following is from a recent debate in Australia between physicist Lawrence Krauss and a couple of Muslims. __________ What I find hopeful is the very existence of such a debate (between young Muslims and an atheist scientist). It suggests … Continue reading

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