Saw this excellent talk from Sam Harris last night recorded at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (great name). Sam makes a pretty good case, and particularly for the practical side of what this implies. In short, free will is an illusion and it matters. The reason it matters is that our society does a lot of unnecessary harm in response to the belief that individuals are responsible for their thoughts and actions. It’s highly non-intuitive to most people raised in the retribution-based ideologies of monotheistic religion, but it doesn’t make it any less true. What strikes me as interesting is how well-aligned this is with Buddhist thought, particularly that of “not-self.” Buddhists believe that the concept of self is itself a delusion, so it directly implies that there is no responsible entity to be blamed or credited for bad or good behavior. Sam’s main point is that the delusion of free-will causes us to misdirect our reaction to harmful behavior on punishment rather than protection against the bad effects of such behavior. A murderer, for instance, should be kept away from society not because he or she must be punished for the deed, but because they have demonstrated a dangerous pattern and there is a significant likelihood that they will murder again.
we’re not racists at all!
we just think he’s a muslin
lookit zombie obama bleed HAR! shoot im agin
corporations should run everything their smart
no welfare! red state white people only
shut up or i;ll hit you
gays! i read a study on newsmax
take my auto ‘n i’ll kill you all
party o’ lincoln
i’m not stupid your stupid!
you nazi hippie facist maoist marxist’s
lookit the teevee
HAR! red a studee on fox
sez carbon oxide’s got what plant’s crave
sometimes i feel funny
am i –
Guide vanes in the 19-foot Pressure Wind Tunnel at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, form an ellipse 33 feet high and 47 feet wide. The 23 vanes force the air to turn corners smoothly as it rushes through the giant passages. If vanes were omitted, the air would pile up in dense masses along the outside curves, like water rounding a bend in a fast brook. Turbulent eddies would interfere with the wind tunnel tests, which require a steady flow of fast, smooth air. (March 15, 1950)
Much more here.
at the IMAX 3D opening night show of the new Star Trek movie. Went with The Boy/Man. People clapped the moment the feature started.
I have strong memories associated with opening Star Trek films. One in particular — stumbling out of a mall theater and blinking in the afternoon sunlight with Max and Senrab, trying to hide tears in my eyes because Star Trek.
Just gets me. Right down in the core. Wrench. ‘Cause I want to go, so bad. Not really the whole space-war villain thing, just the nebula cruisin’.
This one’s good. Really, really good. I loved it dearly. I’ll probably see it again before it leaves the theater, maybe in regular mode so that I don’t spend most of the movie clenching up as I 3-D plunge down the sparkly warp-hole.
Gene, dude, you done changed the whole future with your little crew of misfit new archetypes.
Better late than never.
Found this linked to an article at the Breakthrough Institute, who I’d never heard of and suspected it might be a denialist front. Wikipedia page shows they’re legit and seem to have some pretty good ideas:
Shellenberger has co-authored analyses of cap and trade climate legislation, of the “planetary boundaries” hypothesis, energy rebound from energy efficiency measures, carbon pricing, renewable energy subsidies, nuclear energy, and shale gas
The Institute argues that climate policy should be focused on higher levels of public funding on technology innovation to “make clean energy cheap,” and has been critical of climate policies like cap and trade and carbon pricing that are focused primarily on raising energy prices.
The Institute has conducted research showing that shale gas and other major technological innovations were created by American government institutions and public financing. The Institute advocates higher levels of public spending on technology innovation, which they argue will lead to higher environmental quality, economic growth, and quality of life.
A lot of footnotes to dig into there.
… in oh so many ways. Here’s another:
A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds an intriguing connection between marijuana use and body weight, showing that rates of obesity are lower by roughly a third in people who smoke pot at least three times a week, compared with those who don’t use marijuana at all.
From Sam Harris’s excellent analysis of the strange justifications for highly respected scientist Francis Collins’ religious beliefs:
1. Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, was born of a virgin, ritually murdered as a scapegoat for the collective sins of his species, and then resurrected from death after an interval of three days.
2. He promptly ascended, bodily, to “heaven”—where, for two millennia, he has eavesdropped upon (and, on occasion, even answered) the simultaneous prayers of billions of beleaguered human beings.
3. Not content to maintain this numinous arrangement indefinitely, this invisible carpenter will one day return to earth to judge humanity for its sexual indiscretions and skeptical doubts, at which time he will grant immortality to anyone who has had the good fortune to be convinced, on mother’s knee, that this baffling litany of miracles is the most important series of truth-claims ever revealed about the cosmos.
4. Every other member of our species, past and present, from Cleopatra to Einstein, no matter what his or her terrestrial accomplishments, will be consigned to a far less desirable fate, best left unspecified.
5. In the meantime, God/Jesus may or may not intervene in our world, as He pleases, curing the occasional end-stage cancer (or not), answering an especially earnest prayer for guidance (or not), consoling the bereaved (or not), through His perfectly wise and loving agency.
Loonies every one.
According to numerous reports, the European Commission regulators yesterday raided the offices of oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway as part of an investigation into possible price-rigging in the oil markets. The targeted companies include BP, Shell and the Norweigan company Statoil.
read the rest here