Everything Shimmering and Bright

Did Darwin realize that plants animals and bacteria all share common ancestors as well?

Friend, you objected to my statement that most life on earth has a struggle? Simple proof: any animal that finds itself in a position without struggle will experience greatly increased ability to reproduce, leading to population explosion, leading to either competition between members of the same species, or resulting in new species that take advantage of the success of the first species. All resources at all time are leveraged to their full extent by life on earth, and if they aren't, another species will quickly fill any gaps. The one exception to this will hopefully one day be that humans will not exploit resources, because we are too good at it, and unless we put a lot of the benefits back into maintaining the process, it will surely ruin us. (Ozone, DDT and the dustbowl are three historical examples of this, all of which have been solved. Global warming, over fishing and other pollution and habitat destruction concerns are probably the next big set of problems to resolve.)

It is deeply embarrassing that creationism has persisted into the 21st century.

Notice that both the rate of genetic variation and the likelihood of producing viable offspring for a given species is highly dependent on the error rate while copying the genetic code, and that if the code were copied perfectly, producing identical genetic copies, then asexual reproduction would result in a large number of perfectly identical clones, which would all have the exact same susceptibility to attack, thus if a single antagonist succeeded in exploiting a weakness in the species, it would decimate the entire species. Thus it is obvious that even if it were possible for mechanisms to perfectly reproduce genetic code, it would still not be favorable, and would be selected against. Though when considering sexual reproduction, there is an additional source of variation (besides copy errors). Since half of the offspring's genetic code comes from each parent, and each parent is only passing on half of their own code, the offspring will inevitably be unique. Thus I would expect that if two species had similar rates of reproduction (lifespan, maturation and offspring count), but one were asexually reproducing and the other were sexual, that the sexual reproducing species could have a lower rate of genetic mutation, which I could imagine being beneficial in many ways. Whether or not this is the case can only be determined through experiment, which I am curious about, though I would expect that there are so many confounding factors that it would be difficult if not impossible to determine if this were the case or not (at least right now, though probably not in the near future?). I should ask a biologist probably.

We need to step it up a notch. Anyone who publicly declares there is no evidence for evolution should be invited to learn all about it in a museum, or wherever we can find an appropriate avenue to show a large quantity of supporting data. Anyone who declines should be loudly and publicly criticized, and mocked. And those who both view the evidence but continue to shriek "no evidence" should be demanded to provide guidelines for what clear evidence would be. This discussion should not wane.

A joke with no audience.
Louis CK and a child.

We should stop focusing on fuel efficiency in our cars and begin focusing on total emissions, including the emissions involved in production. Or maybe not. Maybe pollution due to fuel consumption is so vastly larger than production that it's not worth the extra investigation. But we should check that out.

It's funny, for centuries, religious missionaries have felt so compelled by their understanding of the world that they have travelled the globe trying to save people from what they felt was certain eternal misery. Now, based on my understanding of the world, I am very compelled to try to save humans, (though with a bias towards myself and those I know) from the missionary induced misery that I feel is certain in life.

Maybe we are better off a little bit brain dead.

Holy shit, I am SO right. 60% of the population in Afghanistan is under age 20, and the median age is 17(according to Saad Mohseni, while on The Daily Show on June 10th). We totally should send them MTV and all the things kids use to not care about the world.

Have I mentioned yet that I think that if we were to find earth like planets, it would most likely contain life, and that life would most likely have both plant-like and animal-like creatures, as well as sexual and asexual reproduction? And the reason is that I suspect life is not nearly as unlikely to arise as we had previously thought, and that also, if any of those groups were missing, it would leave an enormous hole for other creatures to exploit. (Which is giving the wrong impression, animals do not observe an exploitable gap in the ecosystem and then consciously choose to fill it, but rather natural selection pressures creatures into all the various gaps in available energy, but that is what I am referring to when I describe it that way.)

I don't understand why christianity is so hard to break free from, the greeks predated christ, it's full of ridiculous stories, all of which have clear beginnings long before jesus allegedly existed, and all our favorite holidays have pagan undertones (christmas, easter... halloween... okay, maybe just the two big ones). CURSE YOU TRADITION!

Oh my darling its you.

Francis Collins says that god and atheism are beyond the purview of science, but I would respond that the imagination is not, and neither is estimating the likelihood of a given statement's truth (even if it can only be said to be 50/50). And what science does tell me, or more generally just what I know about the world, is that it is most of the concepts of god humankind has conceived of seem much more likely to be imagination rather than reality driven.

I saw a facebook group the other day that was asking for a "dislike" feature, and I think I'm actually against that. I'd say, if you see something you don't like, be constructive about it, start a dialogue, and comment explaining why you don't like it, rather than just giving negative feedback with no substance.

Why is it that the idea that I (or anyone else for that matter) killed god more devastating than the idea that I killed tinkerbell, or the tooth fairy, or the abominable snowman, or zeus for that matter? In either case, what we mean by "killed" was to show that they do not exist, right? Obviously the statement that I killed the tooth fairy will never make sense, the tooth fairy is obviously purely fiction. So if Darwin, or Nietzsche, or myself, or anyone else, were to destroy the concept of god, why would it be such a problem?

"Painfully, frightfully, and disagreeably, human."

Maybe it is the fact that humans took interest in their own reflection that set us apart from the rest of the apes.

Understand this: there is no force in the universe powerful enough to suppress truth, or technological progress. The benefits of such progress are so great, a phrase which I find highly appropriate regarding capitalism applies equally well for technology and science: If you don't do it, someone else will.

Yes, what is it that we --- why do i have no idea what i meant about this?

"...know that many times I have kissed and cried over this."
-Charles Darwin

I hope someday I'll become a cautionary tale.
Evidence of virtue is anything but.
Each and Every One.

According to wikipedia,
Dawkins had long wanted to write a book openly criticising religion, but his publisher had advised against it. By the year 2006, his publisher had warmed to the idea. Dawkins attributes this change of mind to "four years of Bush". By that time, a number of authors, including Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, who together with Dawkins were labelled "The Unholy Trinity" by Robert Weitzel, had already written books openly attacking religion. These books did well on best-seller lists, and have spawned an industry of religious responses. According to the Amazon.co.uk website, the book led to a 50% growth in their sales of books on religion and spirituality (including anti-religious books such as The God Delusion and God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) and a 120% increase in the sales of the Bible.
But I don't think that is enough, relentlessness is required; time is of the essence. Discussion of religion is of utmost importance: the more people that openly think and question religious doctrine, the more obvious it becomes that it is the grand plague of humankind. Why do I still stop short of directly confronting my most devout friends? I tend to think we are witnessing a cultural revolution, one that has never really occurred, distinct from say the atheistic aspects of Marxism, which were part of a greater doctrine. Atheism in this sense is really just about not accepting authoritative accounts of reality over your own senses, completely independent of political social and moral beliefs. (That is, you can reject the religious claims without rejecting your own moral or political or social beliefs.)

I've heard people criticize the use of the word "design" when discussing natural selection and evolution, notably Randolph Nesse interrupts himself for his own use of the word during an interview with Richard Dawkins. I propose we clarify that design is a word that can refer to the structure of an object or process, without implying that there is an entity involved in creating that structure. For instance, water molecules have a very specific design, with very specific properties. The design of a water molecule results in all the observed properties from it's peculiar density as relates to temperature, to why microwaves heat your food without heating the plate (directly at least). But the design of a water molecule is easily fully explained by quantum mechanics, which in turn can be defined by a small set of equations and assumptions. In this sense, the word design is fully appropriate in this sense, in my opinion. Though now that I look up the word design, all definitions seem to strongly include intention, so maybe it is best we wholly abandon it.

I didn't say this, but I should have (though it only comes to mind now): the "possible side effects" included in prescription drug commercials are most likely side effects reported during the drug study that occurred with some prevalence above a threshold, i.e. statistically significant. It seems highly unlikely that they would be forced to include any sort of illness that a participant in the study experienced, since many would be known to be unrelated (just imagine how the placebo/control group would experience side a similar prevalence of unrelated ailments). So those side effects that the drug company does include are most likely ones that are actually induced by the drug. And so my question remains: given two groups of people, one on a sugar pill that does nothing, and the other on an antidepressant that does nothing but generate the typical side effects, which group is more likely to doubt they are on the actual trial drug? And given that a group of people have doubts that they are on a trial drug (i.e., suspect they are on a placebo), are they more, less, or equally likely to experience positive placebo effects? I contend that they are less likely to experience positive placebo effects, and as such, any drug that induces physical change, whether brain, mood, happiness, etc. related or not, is likely to perform better than placebo in controlled drug trials. This would be easy to study, it just involves using placebos that generate similar side effects as the drug in development.

My dad told me he heard that all the power in the US, (or the world?) could be generated by a square array of solar panels measuring 93 miles on a side. So I tried to express to him just how huge that is: if you were to pave a road one mile wide, from coast to coast, three times, that would be an approximately equivalent amount of surface area. Later I discussed it with my roommate, and he agreed that is a surprising description, and that the original statement gives a misleadingly small impression. So now I see why, we tend to think of a square 93 miles on a side as being "93 square miles", and that is not true. The correct statement is "93 miles squared". While it is a relatively small area of land (in proportion to the amount of land there is), it is an enormous amount of land to cover, with anything, whether pavement or solar panel material. (Actually, doing the math I see that the third pass back would only make it 88% of the way across, assuming 3000 miles wide. Also, 93 miles squared is about 0.28% of the lower 48 states' total area.)

I propose a new fallacy to aid in the discussion of various phenomena which currently struggle with bifurcation issues as they relate to a continuously varying parameter, I would call it "the fallacy of bifurcation" probably, or maybe the fallacy of assumed discretization, though we could probably come up with something more interesting, maybe fallacious granularity or something. Most likely someone has already explored this extensively and has established terminology. The archetype example would be the the Sorites paradox, (a.k.a. the paradox of the heap). Basically, there are times when we divide things into groups, such as moderates and extremists in the case of religious (or non-religious) groups, and in doing so I think we lose something important. Omitting the spectrum nature of things can cause a lot of trouble, though I do not feel like expanding on this reasoning at the moment. I'd only like to say I see the same issue with respect to mental disorders, as my physics teacher in high school used to joke, "everyone has a little bit of dyslexia in them". Now where possible (basically, clearly and reliably testable), it is useful to define cut off criteria to categorize spectrum-natured phenomena. I've lost interest in this idea too much to continue for the time being.

"I wish I could have kissed you good night."

It is very difficult to not suppose what the universe is like, but it is not very difficult to find out a great deal of what it is and isn't like. The difficulty of presupposition is greatly heightened when introduced by authority figures, and highly dependent on age.


I love the movie Millions so much. "Oh! I know you're only a dream, but I don't care. It's nice to see you, even if you're just a dream."

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