News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 7, 2010 in News

Mark Davis, who produced the awesome Is God a Moral Monster? pamphlet, has produced another: God Does Not Exist (pdf). Mark has also published a novel about the New Atheism, called Teleology.

Useful article on quantum physics, from a defender of a Bohmian interpretation: Quantum Mechanics: Myths and Facts. (I skipped the math, of course.) Remember that Wikipedia has a handy table that categorizes twelve (!!) different interpretations of quantum mechanics.

The Best of Hitchslap. (What a great word!)

The Inspiring Naturalism podcast interviews Paul Kurtz.

Great, classic post at Less Wrong: Generalizing from One Example.

Sarah Silverman on gay suicide: “When you tell gay Americans that they can’t serve their country openly or marry the person they love, you’re telling that to kids, too. So don’t be… shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from that are torturing young kids and driving them to kill themselves because they’re different. They learned it from watching you.”

Breaking News! John Danaher’s Philosophical Disquisitions is still awesome.

A questionnaire for those who’ve lost their faith.

Michael Behe’s son comes out as an atheist, has a long and interesting discussion with Reddit. ‘Twas The God Delusion that did it.

This weekend you can watch some of the Council for Secular Humanism’s 30-year conference live, online.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacopo October 8, 2010 at 12:14 am

It’d be great if the Behe’s son thing is true, but as far as I can see, he hasn’t been officially verified – he’s not on the site’s verified list.

I doubt anyone would make it up, but it is possible, so I’m not completely sold that it’s really him quite yet.

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lukeprog October 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

Jacopo,

Sure.

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Adito October 8, 2010 at 1:07 am

I’m really tempted to print out a ton of those pamphlets and put them all over my campus.

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ernest carl October 8, 2010 at 1:25 am

Well, considering I’m gay, I can assure you that I’ve gone through a long ‘suicidal phase’ myself. Hence, ironically, I went on to graduate school to study counseling psychology. I don’t know about other universities, but in my experience, a significant number of psyc students usually have some heavy ‘issues’…

Interestingly enough:

(Abstract)
We mailed questionnaires inquiring about a range of personal and professional attributes to 972 North American psychiatrists at five leading medical schools in the United States and Canada. Of these, 49% (435 psychiatrists) responded. Of the respondents, 90.9% reported being exclusively heterosexual, 3.5% predominantly heterosexual, and 5.6% bisexual/homosexual. Analyses were performed to assess the relationship between sexual orientation and other variables. We found that exclusive heterosexuals were more likely than other psychiatrists to be Jewish (p = .002), to have first-degree relatives with psychiatric illness (p =.015), and to have conducted research after residency training (p = .034). Exclusively heterosexual psychiatrists were less likely to have used recreational drugs (p = .025), or to prescribe psychotropic medications to none of their patients (p = .017). Sexual orientation was not correlated with a variety of other personal and professional characteristics. The findings suggest that gay men and lesbians are represented within psychiatry at rates comparable to their estimated representation in society. Moreover, the data invite several hypotheses—for example, that medical students may be drawn to psychiatry for specific reasons such as feeling marginalized due to being gay or bisexual.
–Sexual orientation and associated characteristics among north American academic psychiatrists. J. Sex Res. Vol. 35, 3 (1998)

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Reginald Selkirk October 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

Mark Davis, who produced the awesome Is God a Moral Monster? pamphlet, has produced another: God Does Not Exist

He’s contradicting himself. If God does not exist, then He cannot be a moral monster.

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Reginald Selkirk October 8, 2010 at 6:59 am

The ‘Angry Atheist of Champaign’
A TV documentary about McCollum v. Board of Education, which challenged religious instruction in public schools.

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Reginald Selkirk October 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

I don’t know about other universities, but in my experience, a significant number of psyc students usually have some heavy ‘issues’…

I can certainly believe that. When i was in grad school, I played softball for a while with folks from the psychiatry dept. of the med school.

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Hermes October 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

Ernest Carl, that’s interesting. I noticed something similar informally; people often went into a specific degree program to fix personal problems through their choice of major. The psyc students stood out in that respect, but I noticed it in others as well. I think the contrast and applicability of psyc is what draws people to it.

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Silver Bullet October 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hitchslap ought to be an olympic sport.

I wish there were Hitchslap highlights on TSN every night.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe October 8, 2010 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the link to Less Wrong.

Looking at it made me think of something that would really be useful:

Find someone to build/integrate a voting system for you; your blog tends to garner an impossible number of comments, and it would be neat if there was a voting system, where the junk sits at the bottom; this will only work well if your comment system was hierarchical, instead of flat as is currently is. Even harder, you will have to have logins for whoever cares about voting (to avoid cheating).

[sidenote: whatever happened to your new blog design]

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lukeprog October 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

Tshepang Lekhonkhobe,

Designers keep leave me hangin’. :(

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Jeff H October 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

He’s contradicting himself. If God does not exist, then He cannot be a moral monster.

Not really. Santa Claus doesn’t exist, but from what I hear, he’s a pretty nice guy.

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ildi October 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

While we’re dreaming about blog features… I wish you had a ‘recent comments’ list…

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Hermes October 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

… running down the right or left hand side panel.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe October 8, 2010 at 5:02 pm

@ildi and @Hermes

That would just add clutter. Why would you want that?

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Hermes October 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Here are my reasons; speed and completeness.

* At a glance, I could see what has changed.

* Older threads could still be monitored.

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ildi October 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

What Hermes said. I don’t tag the notify button (call me ornery), and in any event there are some threads where I don’t comment but would still like to know of recent activity, especially if the thread was quiescent for a couple of days.

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Hermes October 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Ildi: there are some threads where I don’t comment but would still like to know of recent activity, especially if the thread was quiescent for a couple of days.

Agreed. Good point.

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lukeprog October 9, 2010 at 12:10 am

Oh, threads. So quiescent.

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Hermes October 9, 2010 at 12:35 am

I love a good word. I’d use them over common and inexact ones in all cases if I could. The quirkier and more emotive the better.

Chautauqa, for example.

In context, and as a specific reference, chautauqa hauls it’s own weight and that much more. Like many good words, even if you don’t know what it means, or see it in context, it still has presence.

I love the borrowed word mu for the same reasons, though mu has greater utility and force, it has lesser emotive presence.

Both words were effectively used in the same book. If that book offered nothing more, it would still be worth the read just for those two words.

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ildi October 9, 2010 at 3:54 am

There’s a Hungarian saying, “to lie quiescent like shit in the grass…”

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Zeb October 9, 2010 at 5:48 am

Hermes, out of the context of that book those words sound awefully pretentious to me. BTW, that book had a big impact on my metaphysics and my approach to living, and indirectly inspired me to become a vegetarian and Catholic (not that Pirsig would endorse or even approve either himself). Did it have such an impact on you, vocabulary aside?

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Hermes October 9, 2010 at 8:28 am

Zeb, quite a bit at the time. Some of his ghosts still trail along for the ride with me now. At the time I was in the habit of reading and re-reading books, and I think I read that one 4 or 5 times. I also had the bad habit of reading every word regardless of how bad till Battlefield Earth cured me of that; this was when I thought Hubbard was a writer and before I found out that he was a cult leader.

What stayed with me the most was one of the main plot themes — the struggle between a calm impulse for order and analysis and the background pull of frenetic emotional thoughts. Years later, someone mentioned a related idea; that the skill to learn is not to cage your butterflies or to chase them off but to fly in formation with them. In the context of the book; To accept the all fragments of yourself and become whole. Many people aren’t including the outwardly successful who may be crazy because of their torn sense of self. (The people who are homosexuals yet both deny it in public and fight against their own rights are one of the more obvious members of that group of crazies.)

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Hermes October 9, 2010 at 8:55 am

[ on re-reading, gets frustrated over annoying typos and awkward sentences ]

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MauricXe October 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Antybu made another great vid:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rSAo6IpiFU

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Hermes October 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

MauricXe, thanks. The last couple minutes nails it.

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Reginald Selkirk October 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

In context, and as a specific reference, chautauqa hauls it’s own weight and that much more.

My favourite word which hauls its own weight is remarkable. To say something is remarkable is self-fulfilling, since you have indeed remarked upon it.

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