Archives for December, 2007

If I say that X has probability p, what does that mean? What sort of thing is X, and what does the number p represent? Philosophers have spilled a lot of ink on this question, with no clear answer emerging. Instead there are a handful of major schools of thought on the issue. Each school…

Monty Hall and Heroin Addiction

Meanwhile, the big Monty Hall book is slowly coming together. It seems like every day I discover new technical articles on the subject. Recently I thought to search through the PubMed database, looking for any articles that might have eluded the various other searches I have done. Most of the articles that came up were…

Haught on Science and Faith

Along the same line, here we have Georgetown theologian John Haught discoursing on matters theological. I see that P. Z. Myers has already given Haught a proper reaming, but perhaps there is a bit more to say. Haught is a pro-evolution theologian. He did a very good deed in testifying on behalf of evolution at…

Hapgood on The New Atheism

Meanwhile, former Archbishop of York John Hapgood weighs in on four recent books about religion and atheism. The first: The New Atheists by Tina Beattie. Sadly, I am familiar neither with the book nor the author. Hapgood’s essay is the usual gibberish from the high-minded wing of the Christian community. Here’s his opening:

Hitchens on the Religious Right

All sorts of items in the news about science, religion and politics. As a warm-up, here’s Christopher Hitchens stating it plain about the odius denizens of the religious right: Isn’t it amazing how self-pitying and self-aggrandizing the religious freaks in this country are? It’s not enough that they can make straight-faced professions of “faith” at…

Dumbest. Statement. Ever.

Chris Matthews, from last night’s Hardball. His guest was talk radio host Racheal Maddow. MADDOW: Well, it’s two sides of the same coin, as far as I can tell. And the real substantive story here is that almost all of the Republican candidates have argued against the separation of church and state, have argued for…

Standard Lunacy From the Religious Right

Well, I’ve been grading exams for about ten minutes, and I’m already depressed. (One of my students seems to think that one fourth is an integer. Get the idea?) So how about another post? Here’s Keith Olbermann from last nights’ edition of Countdown proving once again why he is the only one worth watching on…

Two-Player Monty

Here is an interesting variation on the Monty Hall problem. For now I will simply present it cold, without indicating the context of where I saw it. Feel free to leave your proposed solutions in the comments. Everything from vague intuitions to hard-core Bayesian analysis is welcome.

Meanwhile, here’s Chris Matthews in full tantrum after the Republican candidates were asked if they accepted Biblical literalism in the big You Tube debate: MATTHEWS: Governor, I think you, like a lot of conservatives, believe in the original purpose of the Constitution as written. It’s our sort of secular bible. It says there should be…

There were a few bright spots in the way the media reacted to Romney’s disgusting speech. Keith Olbermann offered these characteristically wise words:

Romney’s Religion Speech

Mitt Romney gave his big religion speech yesterday. It is a standard piece of anti-atheist propaganda. America is a relgious nation, those darn secularists are trying to take God out of the public square, I’m as crazy religious as all those evangelicals I’m pandering to even though they regard my church as a cult, blah…

The Republicans on Biblical Literalism

The subject of biblical literalism came up at last week’s Republican / You Tube debate: Joseph: I am Joseph. I am from Dallas, Texas, and how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding…

Midgley Summons Plagues

In other news, philosopher Mary Midgley offers some thoughts on the proper way to respond to ID. The title: A Plague on Both Their Houses. You can probably guess what’s coming, especially if you’re aware of Midgley’s history with Richard Dawkins (more on that later). If you’re expecting Midgley to decry equally people like Dawkins…

Gonzalez Back in the News

Remember Guillermo Gonzalez? He was the astronomer from Iowa State University who was denied tenure earlier this year. The reason for the tenure deinal? Depends who you ask. Gonzalez, you see, is a rising young star in the ID movement. He coauthored a singularly bad book entitled The Privileged Planet, in which he argued not…

What A Real Journal Looks Like

If you followed the link in the last post and need to be reminded what a real journal looks like, you might want to have a look at the first issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach. I’ve only read the article titles so far, but they look pretty interesting. And since the editors are Niles…