Pharyngula

I’m on a list of the 50 greatest atheists of all time, which is nice, but a little uncomfortable. I really don’t belong on a list with Feynman and Turing and Russell, you know.

It’s also a strange list that mentions a few old Greeks at the beginning and then leaps right into the late 19th century and present. It’s only nominally “all time”, I’m afraid.

Comments

  1. #1 Quidam
    April 17, 2009

    Unfortunately the inclusion of Mick Jagger and Bruce Lee in the ’50 most brilliant’ does tend to deflate the honour somewhat

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Well at least they didn’t add Jefferson and Franklin.

  3. #3 Lilly de Lure
    April 17, 2009

    Erm . . . if Bruce Lee and Jodie Foster are in there why isn’t Christopher Hitchens?

  4. #4 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2009

    You must be rousing the rabble to get included. I was surprised Asimov didn’t appear.

  5. #5 Objection!
    April 17, 2009

    Cue the outspoken libertarians, but Ayn Rand? Influential? Sadly, yes. Brilliant? Perhaps not so much.

  6. #6 TheLady
    April 17, 2009

    Deary me, what about Spinoza? And Voltaire?!?

    I think you sure do deserve to be on a ist of brilliant atheists, PZ – but I’d like the list itself to be a better one…

  7. #7 James F
    April 17, 2009

    PZ, now you need to be interviewed by Ali G, like Noam Chomsky.

  8. #8 Glen Davidson
    April 17, 2009

    Yes, Warren Buffet [sic}. He, uh, let’s see, made a lot of money. Wouldn’t Bill Gates be better in that category, at least if it’s true (as is said) that he’s an atheist?

    Nietzsche’s not on the list of most brilliant atheists, but Jody Foster is?

    Congrats PZ, but it’s not much of a list.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  9. #9 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Cue the outspoken libertarians, but Ayn Rand? Influential? Sadly, yes. Brilliant? Perhaps not so much.

    *Throws a boot at Objection!

  10. #10 KemaTheAtheist
    April 17, 2009

    Yeah… they missed a lot of much better choices on this on. You deserve to be on there, PZ, but you’re right. It’s not much of a list. You should be part of a better one.

  11. #11 teammarty
    April 17, 2009

    At least Bruce Lee kicked that nazi Chuck Norris’ ass repeatedly. Maybe that’s why he hates America so much.

  12. #12 shonny
    April 17, 2009

    Not much of a list, no disrespect to the majority of those on it, but how the hell can the listmaker have forgotten Robert G. Ingersoll?

    No good saying that Ingersoll was an agnostic, because reading his speaches, he was a full-time, full-blodded atheist. Maybe his official stance was somewhat tempered because the GFs had still lots of power.

    Two others missing are Jack London and Ernest Hemingway, both rather prominent, neither too much into godbothering.

  13. #13 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    Deary me, what about Spinoza? And Voltaire?!?

    Voltaire didn’t like atheists, believe it or not. I don’t think Spinoza was an atheist either. (I thought he was a “pantheist” or something like that.)

  14. #14 Porco Dio
    April 17, 2009

    nothing like a good ol’ fasioned sandwitch!!!

    happy monkey!!!

  15. #15 Africangenesis
    April 17, 2009

    Where are Marx, Hume, von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Stalin, Lenin, Petronius, Woody Allen, … From the inclusion of Noam Chomsky, and others, I assume the list considers importance and pop culture, not whether they were “good” or “positive” contributers.

  16. #16 Objection!
    April 17, 2009

    Thanks Rev! I hear that the throwing of footwear is a symbol of great respect in many cultures. In fact Bush was recently honored in this way as a show of appreciation from the liberated Iraqi people.

  17. #17 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 17, 2009

    Spinoza was an atheist. Check this out for a good explication of his views.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZPzivgc7aQ&feature=related

  18. #18 Glen Davidson
    April 17, 2009

    (I thought he was a “pantheist” or something like that.)

    Panentheist.

    Really, it’s one of the most god-soaked metaphysical systems ever devised. It is true that one can easily dispense with his god, however, and end up atheist–since there’s no real distinction between god and nature.

    Possibly that’s why Einstein ended up atheist, although it’s not clear how true (or how knowledgeable of) he ever was to Spinoza’s ideas.

    Which I guess brings up the question of why Einstein’s not on the list, either. While he was famously theistic, or probably more accurately, deistic, for much of his life, the fact that he ended up atheist matters to the history of science (probably matters little to the history of atheism, other than turning around the claim, “but Einstein believed in God,” to our favor).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  19. #19 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    What the hell is Mick Jagger doing in there.

  20. #20 TheNewAtheist
    April 17, 2009

    What no Hitler or Stalin? (sarcasm, “cause they were atheists you know!”)

  21. #21 Azkyroth
    April 17, 2009

    Needs more women.

    (And here I thought I’d found a comment registration system that would actually REMEMBER THAT I’D SIGNED IN EARLIER. Ah, well, it was nice while it lasted.)

  22. #22 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Thanks Rev! I hear that the throwing of footwear is a symbol of great respect in many cultures. In fact Bush was recently honored in this way as a show of appreciation from the liberated Iraqi people.

    You said the dirty word, I had to do it.

  23. #23 wet_bread
    April 17, 2009

    “Sandwiched between Jodie Foster and Steve Pinker”

    Thanks PZ. As an openly bisexual middle-aged geek, you just gave me at least a week’s worth of fantasy material with that headline.

  24. #24 Lynna Howard
    April 17, 2009

    I’m with #3 above. What!? No Christopher Hitchens? I think the Hitch might agree that Mick Jagger manifests some form of brilliance, but not necessarily intellectual. Mick is “brilliant” in the slang use of the term, but putting him on the list and not Christopher Hitchens…sheesh.

  25. #25 GBJ
    April 17, 2009

    No Mark Twain?

  26. #26 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    Glen D: Which I guess brings up the question of why Einstein’s not on the list, either. While he was famously theistic, or probably more accurately, deistic, for much of his life, the fact that he ended up atheist matters to the history of science (probably matters little to the history of atheism, other than turning around the claim, “but Einstein believed in God,” to our favor).

    Yeah really, a lot of people on that list probably were theists at one point or another.

  27. #27 Revyloution
    April 17, 2009

    JamesF, I’ve seen a couple of the Ali G interviews. They are definitely an acquired taste, funny and painful at the same time. The interview where he accuses Ken Ham of leaving a floater in the toilet had me near crying.

    I wonder how many of the interviewees knew what they were getting into. Many of the interviews look genuine, with people being genuinely boggled by his reactions.

    Its just tv, but I wonder how real these clips are. It would be quite an achievement for any young interviewer to have a list of interviewees that AliG has racked up.

    Oh, and ‘Mad Props to Prof PZ fo’ makin da lizt’

  28. #28 Glen Davidson
    April 17, 2009

    Why not van Gogh, who at least made atheistic statements. And for Chrissake, why not Darwin, as long as agnostics who have little space for god (Sagan, etc.) are included?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  29. #29 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    If they have Mick Jagger how come they don’t have Elton John?

  30. #30 Therion
    April 17, 2009

    Many of the luminaries on that list don’t identify as “atheists”, but are just non-religious. And then of course you’d have to include Einstein, Darwin, and so many other famous people that it becomes ridiculous.

  31. #31 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    The Pharyngula hoards should compile a list of the top 1000 atheists. That would be more like it.

  32. #32 Ian
    April 17, 2009

    I agree with Glen Davidson, but with reservations. Spinoza is often called a pantheist, and he certainly used the word “God” a lot.

    However, I agree with Glen Davidson that it would be more accurate in contemporary terminology to call him a “panentheist.” That is, he believed that only one thing exists. It seems that he meant that the only thing that exists is the real-world material universe (disputed, but many scholars agree, see below).

    At the very least give him credit for being excommunicated by the Sephardic community of Amsterdam, and also for this: for a century or two afterwards, if you wanted to accuse someone of being a dirty rotten atheist you might do so by calling them a “Spinozist.”

    Spinoza (1631?1677) responded to the dualism of traditional theism by emphasizing the relationship between God and the world to the point that the nature of any ontological distinction between God and the world became problematic…[Theistic thinkers were disturbed by] Spinoza’s close identification between God and the world.”

  33. #33 Mu
    April 17, 2009

    #29, this is a GOOD list. No godless homosexuals please.

  34. #34 ddr
    April 17, 2009

    And no Terry Pratchett.

    Yeah, Jager and Lee should have given way to Twain and Pratchett.

  35. #35 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    I don’t think there’s ever been a “top 1000 atheists” list. This blog is the perfect place for it. Make it happen people.

  36. #36 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 17, 2009

    I suspect Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson belong on the list. Both were likely agnostics at least, although they felt religion played a useful social role.

    And re: Mick Jagger–hey, you wouldn’t want to deprive him of his satisfaction, would you?

  37. #37 Brett McCoy
    April 17, 2009

    They have Ayn Rand and Mick Jagger and not Isaac Asimov?

  38. #38 Lord Zero
    April 17, 2009

    Pz, i just wanna know… that picture is
    the best one you have ?
    Everytime i see you in any website i see
    this same picture over and over again…

    And as a regular on Pharyngula i seen
    some other great pics as well, like the one
    with the pirate hat.

    Will we be ever be able to see another
    despiction of our admired Prof. Myers ?

    Regarding to the list, there are some
    which are significative characters, but
    overall is more about being known figures
    rather than anything else.
    Still i never thought than one day i would
    find a list which Bruce Lee and PZ together.
    Quite funny.

  39. #39 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2009

    No godless homosexuals please.

    *cough* Jodie Foster *cough*

  40. #40 Rieux
    April 17, 2009

    It’s also a strange list that mentions a few old Greeks at the beginning and then leaps right into the late 19th century and present. It’s only nominally “all time”, I’m afraid.

    If I remember my “Brief History of Disbelief” correctly, there wasn’t much open atheism in the Western world between the ancients and the Renaissance. (The latter being, of course, er, a bit before the 19th century, but still….) Presumably doubters were driven underground (or worse) in the interim rather than not existing–but my sense is that even the most “all time” lists, at least insofar as they’re Western-centric, are going to show a big gaping hole for something like the first 1,500 years of the Common Era.

    “Brief History,” BTW, is a very nice BBC documentary presented by Jonathan Miller, including interviews with Steven Weinberg and Arthur Miller… and, of course, Dick to the Dawk and an un-pimped Dan Dennett. I recommend it to anyone; there’s a Web video version available here.

  41. #41 Andrew Sinnott
    April 17, 2009

    OT but did anybody else’s computer fonts seem to shrink after reading that page…?

  42. #42 Patricia, OM
    April 17, 2009

    Why isn’t Baron Holbach on the list? Ingersoll certainly belongs there too.

  43. #43 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    I suspect Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson belong on the list. Both were likely agnostics at least, although they felt religion played a useful social role.

    Um. No. Not really.

    Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure.

    Jefferson surely from nearly all his writing believed in a deity of some sort and Franklin, as you can see from the quote above was no agnostic or atheist.

    Many called Jefferson an atheist in the day, but that was purely because he didn’t subscribe to Christianity as they thought he should.

    No, neither was an atheist or an agnostic.

  44. #44 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    What the hell is Mick Jagger doing in there?

    At least, he’s not polluting it with his god-awful noise.

  45. #45 Dr.Woody
    April 17, 2009

    I find it difficult to credit that there were no notable atheists born between (circa) 300 bce and Andrew Carnegie, in 1835…

    The Emperor Julian (the Apostate), about whom Gore Vidal wrote a terriffic novel, would be one, i’d think…

  46. #46 Happy Tentacles
    April 17, 2009

    What criteria did the compilers of the list use? A strange mixture of respected thinkers and random non-religious people. We could do better.

    Voltaire may not have liked atheists, but that doesn’t stop him being one! His writings are rich with vituperative anti-clericalism – check out the ‘Philosophic Dictionary’!

  47. #47 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 17, 2009

    I vote Bruce Lee stays. He did for martial arts what Darwin did for biology, which is to give a unified framework to an previously obtuse collection of facts.

    Mick Jagger needs to go though.

    @33 Alan Turing is a homosexual.

  48. #48 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    At least, he’s not polluting it with his god-awful noise.

    You damn kids, get off Richard Harris’ lawn!!

  49. #49 Macika
    April 17, 2009

    There’s the Celebrity Atheist list:

    http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Main_Page

    Where one could hope to be sandwiched between Asia Carrera and Annika Sorenstam.

  50. #50 Dr.Woody
    April 17, 2009

    Voltaire may not have liked atheists, but that doesn’t stop him being one! His writings are rich with vituperative anti-clericalism – check out the ‘Philosophic Dictionary’!

    Vituperative anti-clericism–e.g., Humans will never be free until the last priest is strangled by the intestines of the last noble–doth not an “atheist” make…

  51. #51 Rieux
    April 17, 2009

    I wrote (@ #40):

    there’s a Web video version available here.

    Upon further review, that link might be obsolete/broken; today I’m having an easier time watching “Brief History of Disbelief” on video.google.com.

  52. #52 Varlo
    April 17, 2009

    Tat is too much sandwich for one man. You take Pinker. I will take Jodie.

  53. #53 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    …about 2.3 percent of the world’s population identifies themselves as atheist,…

    Huh? Think of the non-theistic religions, such as Communism, & some Buddhism, Confucianism, & Taoism. Deists are atheists too.

  54. #54 Stacy
    April 17, 2009

    It’s all still pretty cool. :-)

    Congrats!

  55. #55 Objection!
    April 17, 2009

    @ Rev: Is there a more fitting euphemism than umm (to avoid any further boot throwing)that term that I used. I thought of assholes but while fitting it is not exclusive.

  56. #56 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    Possibly a bit pedantic but didn’t Epicurus believe that gods (somewhat like the Olympians) existed? I thought his big thing was that gods worthy of the name couldn’t possibly need anything from us mere mortals, so we didn’t have to worry about them.

  57. #57 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 17, 2009

    Voltaire may not have liked atheists, but that doesn’t stop him being one! His writings are rich with vituperative anti-clericalism – check out the ‘Philosophic Dictionary’!

    I don’t think he was an atheist, but who knows what with all the sarcasm and everything. It’s my understanding that he thought it would be a crappy world without people thinking a god was watching them all the time. (Hence the “if there were no god, it would be necessary to to invent one” line in response to the “Three Impostors” atheist tract that was circulating. (If memory serves.))

    But yeah it’s no secret that he hated organized religion.

  58. #58 Therion
    April 17, 2009

    This whole fixation on the label “atheist” is infantile and counter-productive. The above list emphasizes this point.

    Does it really matter whether someone like Einstein or Chomsky call themselves “atheists”? These kind of people affected by superstition in any way, and cede no authority to religious claims. Who cares whether they identify as “atheists”?

  59. #59 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Deists are atheists too.

    huh?

    Am I missing a sarcasm tag in there somewhere?

  60. #60 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    @ Rev: Is there a more fitting euphemism than umm (to avoid any further boot throwing)that term that I used. I thought of assholes but while fitting it is not exclusive.

    Not really but it’s like saying Candyman in the mirror three times. When you say the word that shall not be named it tends to turn threads into a wankfest of those who subscribe to unsaid word.

  61. #61 Dania
    April 17, 2009

    OT but did anybody else’s computer fonts seem to shrink after reading that page…?

    Yes.

  62. #62 Scarybug
    April 17, 2009

    As another blog just pointed out, top 10 lists are designed to generate traffic and discussion by manufacturing controversy.

    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/44630

    Not that that doesn’t make them interesting.

  63. #63 Chuck
    April 17, 2009

    No Robert Ingersoll? Pshaw.

  64. #64 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Rev, okay, maybe that was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    A deist, believing that a god created the universe, setting up the fundamental constants, & providing matter & energy, then retiring, is no theist, who believes in a god that intercedes in the World & in human affairs. Some deists thought that the creator (God) should be worshipped, but, as with many things, there is a spectrum of belief, & modern deists may not feel a need for worship.

    Voltaire, Franklin, & Jefferson, were Deists. Spinoza, known as “the god-intoxicated man”, was a Pantheist.

  65. #65 catta
    April 17, 2009

    Jodie Foster isn’t the only homosexual on the list.

    Not only is it not much of a list and arbitrary, but anyone who writes a short bio of Alan Turing to introduce him and leaves out the appalling treatment he received because of his homosexuality (including chemical castration, which may have been a factor in his suicide), despite helping his country win WWII and saving countless lives, doesn’t deserve the attention.

    Whenever I think about Alan Turing I get very angry. He’s one of the people whose bio should be mandatory in history lessons, but instead of people being deeply disturbed by the way he was treated, he’s still mostly “someone you don’t talk about”. In spite of all posthumous recognition.

  66. #66 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    I like and admire Jodie Foster very much, but it hurts to have her admit that she has great respect for all religions. My like for her is not diminshed, but I would most assuredly argue with her on that point, and perhaps even convince her that this regard is unwarranted at best.
    I would never consider Gould as a great atheist, maybe more of an agnostic, and this is determined from all his books I have, save a couple, in which he more than gives cursory admiration for religion. In fact several of his books have a biblical passage at the chapter heading. Maybe great in his discipline, but definitely not as an atheist.

  67. #67 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    Chuck @ 63

    Robert Green Ingersoll is certainly on our side, and from his writings one would most assuredly call him an atheist, but alas, he was a theist and never admitted to a stance of atheism. He is one of my favorite people nevertheless.

  68. #68 BlueIndependent
    April 17, 2009

    I’ll throw my hat in too: No Hitch? Surely he’s at least worthy of right-honorable mention.

  69. #69 JJR
    April 17, 2009

    They left off Diederot? Baron D’Holbach? Man, what a slam to the French intellectuals of the 18th century…

  70. #70 NewEnglandBob
    April 17, 2009

    “Sandwiched between Jodie Foster and Steve Pinker”

    The order of the list is by date of birth, farthest back first.

    This is a surprising and impressive (for the most part) list.

  71. #71 maddogdelta
    April 17, 2009

    I had to look up Feynman, probably my favorite physics personality ..(although Neal Degrasse-Tyson is giving Feynman a run for his money)…and noted the picture…

    Feynman _hated_ that pic, as it became the one picture almost everyone wanted of him.

  72. #72 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    They left off Diederot? Baron D’Holbach? Man, what a slam to the French intellectuals of the 18th century…

    Overall, I’d say it slammed non-Anglophones and intellectuals (except scientists and analytic philosophers) much more generally than that. No Umberto Eco or José Saramago or Percy Shelly?

  73. #73 Mu
    April 17, 2009

    Nerd, you know the bible has no problem with lesbians ;)

  74. #74 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    A deist, believing that a god created the universe, setting up the fundamental constants, & providing matter & energy, then retiring, is no theist

    WTF? How can you believe in a god and not be a theist? Belief in god is the definition of theism!
    “god” = “diety” = “theism”
    “no god” = “no diety” = “atheism”

    Or is this just woo-woos shifting the goalposts so they can say they’re “atheists” but still believe in the great heavenly woo-woo for which there is no evidence but their earnest wishes?

    mjr.

  75. #75 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    If wasn’t such a lame-ass thing to do I’d have QFTed the whole of catta’s post @#65.

  76. #76 CJO
    April 17, 2009

    The Emperor Julian (the Apostate), about whom Gore Vidal wrote a terriffic novel, would be one, i’d think…

    Haven’t read the novel, so I don’t know if he’s portrayed as an atheist, but he was not one. He was a devoted pagan, with a fancy-pants neo-Platonic philosophy. Some historians have claimed he was initiated into Mithraism. He was the only emperor after Constantine to reverse the policy of Christianity as state religion and seems to have sincerely wanted to strengthen the pagan religions in the Empire to the point where Christianity was just one faith among many. But it was too little, too late. Paganism was crushed over the next century and the West fell into barbarism, illiteracy and superstition. And that’s how we lost the incalculable treasures of pagan literature. Short-sighted, power grubbing Christian thugs, killing pagan priests, converting temples into churches and burning books.

  77. #77 Julian
    April 17, 2009

    They’ve got Jagger and Davies on there, but no Nietzsche? Travesty!

    There are few realms of modern thought that were not influenced by Nietzsche’s deconstructionism, existentialism, and praise for the individual’s right to herself. He was a damn fine philologist too.

  78. #78 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    I am not miffed or disappointed that my namesake did not make the list. There are many names from every period who were atheists and have been overlooked or neglected. We can easily track them down and wonder how they managed to elude recognition. The important thing is that they existed and let it be known that insane religion has not infected everyone with idiocy and subservient grovelling. Regards to them all, known and unknown.

  79. #79 jsoutofbiblepgs
    April 17, 2009

    Oh you and your modesty, PZ. Maybe you should write a fesity atheist book though, just to keep up with your reputation.

  80. #80 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    @mjr

    Or is this just woo-woos shifting the goalposts so they can say they’re “atheists” but still believe in the great heavenly woo-woo for which there is no evidence but their earnest wishes?

    My impression was more that it was an atheist trying to conflate their numbers so more of the “cool kids” are on their team.

  81. #81 Orac
    April 17, 2009

    The list also contains a few cranks, like Linus Pauling, who turned to quackery later in life with his “orthomolecular medicine.”

  82. #82 natural cynic
    April 17, 2009

    If Adams is the only sci-fi author in, then why not Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Ellison …

    Notice the lack of, uh, diversity: 3 female and one non-caucasian. For her courage, add Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    Rand in, Marx out??? Puhleeeeze

  83. #83 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    re Spinoza: Did he think his “God or nature” was in any sense “person-like” (conscious or thinking or whatever)? If not, I’d class him as a atheist. I mean, if someone gives the name “God” to something which isn’t a god (say to Eric Clapton) it doesn’t make them a theist, surely?

  84. #84 Therion
    April 17, 2009

    “Deism” of some sort isn’t an obviously absurd position. If it turns out there’s fine-tuning, then as far as we know we need to turn to either multiverse or intelligent design. This is the province of physicists. The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

  85. #85 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    “orthomolecular medicine.”

    Hello Google, it’s the Rev. Can you looks something up for me?

  86. #86 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    *headdesk

  87. #87 jstein
    April 17, 2009

    I dunno, P.Z. You’ve been pretty influential to the modern atheist movement.

    Like much of the new atheist movement driven by the internet, you have helped spark a lot of good dialogue and been a part of some pretty hysterical civil disobedience.

    That said, I’m a little mad that Freud and Rand ended up as high as they did, though they were fairly good with respect to their irreligiousness. I guess I just don’t like them very much.

    It’s a pretty phenomenal list. I’ve studied with Searle, and, though I dissent from some of his views on consciousness, he’s an incredible mind.

    I kinda wish that 34-36 were 1-3, but that’s just my opinion.

  88. #88 sayhey
    April 17, 2009

    Not a very complete list. How come no Arthur C Clarke?

  89. #89 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    jstein@87: It’s chronological

  90. #90 Feynmaniac
    April 17, 2009

    Sandwiched between Jodie Foster and Steve Pinker

    Must get image of weirdest threesome out of head…….

    ***Pictures the lushes locks on Pinker’s head waving majestically in the air***

    Snap out of it!

  91. #91 bonze
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus J. Ranum | April 17, 2009 1:07 PM

    WTF? How can you believe in a god and not be a theist? Belief in god is the definition of theism!

    “god” = “diety” = “theism”

    “no god” = “no diety” = “atheism”

    Check your dictionary: “theists” believe in the existence of a personal God who intervenes in the functioning of the cosmos, while “deists” dispense with that belief (along with the existence of miracles, prophetic mouthpieces, etc.).

  92. #92 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Check your dictionary: “theists” believe in the existence of a personal God

    I understand that the popular practice is to adjust the dictionary (I notice even wikipedia gives a nod to this new and unusual usage). It’s still postmodernist bullshit.

    So, may I assume that since you don’t believe in pink unicorns, you are a “unicornist”?

  93. #93 Rorschach
    April 17, 2009

    That list is pretty silly really.
    Mick Jagger?What’s his qualification,singing “Sympathy for the devil”?
    And Francis Crick??

  94. #94 Otto
    April 17, 2009

    Interesting list, quite incomplete of course and very much open to argument.
    One of my candidates would be Daniel L Everett, a missionary who wanted to convert the savages in the Amazon and lost his faith in the process:

    http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1859528,00.html

  95. #95 protocol
    April 17, 2009

    Nehru’s background was not fucking “hindi” but “hindu”.

  96. #96 Chris Davis
    April 17, 2009

    The list could be more accurately titled ’50 Famous Atheists We Can Think Of’

  97. #97 protocol
    April 17, 2009

    …and atheism is a valid position within hinduism

  98. #98 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    “Deism” of some sort isn’t an obviously absurd position.

    It’s no more absurd than to assume that the universe was perhaps farted into existence by my horse, last wednesday. Which is to say it’s pretty absurd. And it remains absurd until we see some evidence supporting it. (My horse actually appears to exist, so the horse-fart theory so far trumps deism in terms of objective evidence)

    If it turns out there’s fine-tuning, then as far as we know we need to turn to either multiverse or intelligent design. This is the province of physicists.

    If it turns out that there’s fine tuning, there will be theories made a-plenty. In the meantime, deism is nothing more than childish self-important fantasy.

    What about a position for which there is no evidence is not “absurd”??

    Cue “…but some really smart people were deists!” fallacy in 3… 2… 1…

  99. #99 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Nehru’s background was not fucking “hindi” but “hindu”.

    Ramen to that! Can’t count how many times I have had to correct my American acquaintances that I speak ‘Hindi’, not ‘Hindu’!!

    …and atheism is a valid position within hinduism

    Certainly not in the traditional sense of Hinduism. Would you care to elaborate?

  100. #100 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    So if I’m reading the atheism/theism subthread right:

    Atheism used to mean “lacking belief in god”.

    Theism used to mean “belief in one or more gods”.

    But now Theism means “belief in a personal* god”.

    Therefore, religions that believe in an impersonal god are really atheism.

    My head hurts. Someone make it stop.

  101. #101 heddle
    April 17, 2009

    CJO,

    Re. The Emperor Julian (the Apostate)

    He was an interesting chap who wanted to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem–just to demonstrate that the prophecy of its destruction was FAIL. But he died before he could carry out that particular plan.

    You are correct, he was no atheist. In fact in trying to return Rome to the old gods he ordered mass animal sacrifices–trying to play catch-up as it were.

    Albert Camus should be on this list.

  102. #102 Matt Heath
    April 17, 2009

    brainz.org seems to be a really poor website that thinks it’s a lot more intellectual than it actual is.

  103. #103 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    So if I’m reading the atheism/theism subthread right:

    Atheism used to mean “lacking belief in god”.

    Theism used to mean “belief in one or more gods”.

    But now Theism means “belief in a personal* god”.

    Therefore, religions that believe in an impersonal god are really atheism.

    My head hurts. Someone make it stop.

    * And what does this mean, anyway? I couldn’t find any good definitions. Does it mean an interventionist god? An anthropomorphic god? Would the FSM count, seeing as his noodly appendages are keeping us from floating into outer space (even though he doesn’t look like a person)? I couldn’t find consistent definitions.

  104. #104 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Ramen to that! Can’t count how many times I have had to correct my American acquaintances that I speak ‘Hindi’, not ‘Hindu’!!

    I’ll admit ignorance on this. Where does the incorrect use of Hindu instead of Hindi come from?

  105. #105 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, it’s not po-mo. The founder of Deism was Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648). He believed in a creator god that was worthy of worship. That aspect of the deity has probably been diminished, even to the point of being totally rejected, for people who would call themselves Deists nowadays. Deists were, & are, freethinkers.

    The whole idea of this creator god could be diminished to the point where it is simply the ‘whatever’ that brought matter & energy into being, along with fundamental constants (or variables, if that’s how some prove to be).

    This deistic god wouldn’t warrant the title of ‘god’ compared to the petty-minded, jealous, sadistic, thoroughly vile god of the Abrahamic religions.

  106. #106 protocol
    April 17, 2009

    You are right; the theistic version predominates, but the carvaka/lokayata school was constantly a thorn in the side of the theistic interpretations. Wikipedia has a decent summary
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C4%81rv%C4%81ka

  107. #107 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Rev. BDC, this will ‘warm’ the cockles of your heart!

    Hindu is a follower of the Hindu religion (Hindusim).

    Hindi is a language derived from the ancient language Sanskrit. Hindi is currently the national language of India.

  108. #108 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Oh something that simple. I was envisioning much more nefarious reasons.

  109. #109 Die Anyway
    April 17, 2009

    The list was interesting but, as noted by many, an odd combination of characters. Being a grammar-Nazi though, I was perturbed by the number of typos and misused words. Especially at a site called “brainz”. It seems that they were careless about their content in more ways than one. In any case, nice to see PZ get some plaudits.

  110. #110 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Did you like the ‘heat’?

  111. #111 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Oh and I saw the bacon torch.

    Is there anything bacon can not do?

  112. #112 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    So if I’m reading the atheism/theism subthread right:
    Atheism used to mean “lacking belief in god”.
    Theism used to mean “belief in one or more gods”.
    But now Theism means “belief in a personal* god”.
    Therefore, religions that believe in an impersonal god are really atheism.

    It’s just language games. The soft-creos want to distance themselves from the hard-creos because they are tired of being laughed at. So they’re redefining the language to make it seem like they’re not creos. They’re all on the slow bus and they’re arguing who’s in front.

    The root word of “deism” is “deus” – god. The “-ism” part is normal English; there’s no way to parse “deism” as anything other than belief in god(s). Someone who doesn’t believe in god or god(s) who is searching for an explanation of the universe is a “scientist” or a “rationalist”. Ultimately, “deism” comes back to “goddidit” — and if that’s not a statement of religious faith then I am a teapot orbiting Mars.

  113. #113 protocol
    April 17, 2009

    also the list does not include
    old charlie, arguably one of the most famous atheists of the last 150 years.

  114. #114 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Sorry, my comment @110 was directed to the Rev @108. And now, the comment system won’t even allow me to post this correction… Apparently it is too soon (Sigh!)

    Am I addicted to Pharyngula, or what?

  115. #115 babel
    April 17, 2009

    And what about Jean Meslier, the priest who wrote the first openly atheistic book in history?
    I agree, though, that Bruce Lee should stay.

  116. #116 E.V.
    April 17, 2009

    Am I addicted to Pharyngula, or what?

    It’s the crack pipe of blogs.

  117. #117 Feynmaniac
    April 17, 2009

    Is there anything bacon can not do?

    Lower cholesterol?

  118. #118 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, it’s not po-mo.

    Sorry. It’s one of the biggest insults I know, and it just slipped out…

    The founder of Deism was Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648). He believed in a creator god that was worthy of worship. That aspect of the deity has probably been diminished, even to the point of being totally rejected, for people who would call themselves Deists nowadays. Deists were, & are, freethinkers.

    You can call them “freethinkers” or whatever you like, but it’s still religious faith. Sounds like you’re arguing a sort of faith-limit-approaching-zero position. But that’s silly because it begs the question of having been faith-based at all. If the faithless are presented with evidence of something, they’ll believe it or not based on the evidence. The “deists” may be whittling their imaginary playmate down to whatever wafer-thin minima they’re comfortable with, but that doesn’t make them rational.

    The whole idea of this creator god could be diminished to the point where it is simply the ‘whatever’ that brought matter & energy into being

    Reasoning: you’re doing it backwards!

    When there’s an explanation (with evidence beyond mere speculation) of how the universe came into being, that “whatever” will be understood. Sitting back and assuming in the meantime that it’s a whittled-down deus of the gaps is intellectual cowardice, dishonesty, or both.

    This deistic god wouldn’t warrant the title of ‘god’ compared to the petty-minded, jealous, sadistic, thoroughly vile god of the Abrahamic religions.

    Yet it’s a “god” and you’re asked to take it just as much on faith as the abrahamic asshole god. It’s just that the faith gets thinner and thinner and thinner. It’s still faith. It’s just a little, shitty faith that could be replaced with an intellectually honest statement, “I don’t know.”

  119. #119 Sastra
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus J. Ranum #112 wrote:

    It’s just language games. The soft-creos want to distance themselves from the hard-creos because they are tired of being laughed at. So they’re redefining the language to make it seem like they’re not creos. They’re all on the slow bus and they’re arguing who’s in front.

    Heh. This morning I was reading Daniel Dennett’s acceptance speech for the FFRF “Emperor Has No Clothes” Award, and read the part where he describes theists as coming in two different varieties: “supers” and “murkies.”

    “There are the supers who are sort of aggressively into the supernatural and then there are the murkies who are sort of embarrassed by that, so they are deeply into incomprehensibility and mystery and the fact that it is all too hard to fathom. Maybe it’s an aesthetic matter or a difference of taste.” (Dennett)

  120. #120 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Lower cholesterol?

    pfffft. Cholesterol is a myth drummed up by the anti-bacon PACs.

  121. #121 Kevpod
    April 17, 2009

    Frank Zappa.

    How can this list be complete without him?

  122. #122 Maldoror
    April 17, 2009

    Needs more Luis Bunuel. Best critic of religion in the medium of film.

    Nietzsche would have been nice but he’s become a little cliched and wasn’t the most rational thinker. Then again, Ayn Rand still made it.

    In order to be a little less Western-centric (and to fill in the gap between classical Greece and the 19th century) they ought to have included Al Ma’arri or Ibn al-Rawandi, the two earliest critics of Islam in the Arab world.

  123. #123 Rorschach
    April 17, 2009

    pfffft. Cholesterol is a myth drummed up by the anti-bacon PACs.

    Bacon is mainly protein,unless you fry it in heaps of fat or it has some huge rind on it its not actually bad for you.The classic “bacon and eggs” breakfast is a high-protein,low-fat,low-carb affair thats quite nutritionally valuable.

  124. #124 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Sastra writes:
    Heh. This morning I was reading Daniel Dennett’s acceptance speech for the FFRF “Emperor Has No Clothes” Award, and read the part where he describes theists as coming in two different varieties: “supers” and “murkies.”

    Yeah! :) Those are great terms (adopted!)

    Murky theists attempt to do the mysterious too hard to fathom shuffle, but it doesn’t work — because if it’s all so mysterious and hard to fathom, their reasons for assuming a god is part of it is equally mysterious and unfathomable. So “what makes you know?” garners you a long spew that should be familiar: “science doesn’t know everything, blah blah blah.” Which is true. But scientists just say “I don’t know” and the murkies say:
    huge jumping back and forth quantum brane xtra dimensional mulder and scully dancing wu li masters higgs boson quantum superposition goddidit.
    It almost makes you admire Ken Hamm for his honest stupidity, in comparison.

  125. #125 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Protocol @106:
    Thank you for pointing me to that Wikipedia entry.

    C?rv?ka is a system of Indian philosophy that assumes various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference… In overviews of Indian philosophy, C?rv?ka is classified as a “heterodox” (n?stika) system… characterized as a materialistic and atheistic school of thought.

    For the uninitiated, n?stika = atheist in Sanskrit.

    While I can accept it as a branch of Indian philosophy that is atheistic in nature, I don’t really buy into the claim that it is noteworthy as “evidence of a materialistic movement within Hinduism”. I do note the authors of the cited paper that posits this viewpoint… :D

    Radhakrishnan was a brilliant scholar, philosopher and statesman, and truly worthy of respect. I am loath to comment without reading the original treatise, but I don’t know whether I agree with the use of the word ‘materialism’ in this context. Atheism simply denotes rejection of the concept of God. Hinduism (as a religion) envisages a God in various forms, including a formless God. That is prima facie incompatible with atheism.

    It is a pity that

    Neither this text nor any other original text of the C?rv?ka school of philosophy has been preserved. Its principal works are known only from fragments cited by its Hindu and Buddhist opponents.

  126. #126 Billy C
    April 17, 2009

    For what it’s worth, checking my dictionary (the OED):

    theist
    (1) One who holds the doctrine of theism.
    (2) A person addicted to tea-drinking.

    Assuming we’re using definition 1 here [runs finger up the page] ….

    theism
    a. gen. Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism.
    b. Belief in one god, as opposed to polytheism or pantheism; = MONOTHEISM.
    c. Belief in the existence of God, with denial of revelation: = DEISM.
    d. esp. Belief in one God as creator and supreme ruler of the universe, without denial of revelation: in this use distinguished from deism.

    Hm. Checked my dictionary, and deists are theists. Except when they’re not.

    BTW, if we’re taking votes on an improved list, I’d like to nominate Christopher Marlowe.

  127. #127 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    @123: No wonder I love bacon so much!
    mmmmmmmmmmmmm… bacon!!

  128. #128 Didac Lopez-Martinez
    April 17, 2009

    Though its shortcommings, it is an interesting list. Perhaps it is a bit “presentist” and “American-centered”, but the Ultimate Battle for Reason will be fought in the States, anyway. (Or, properly speaking, the Penultimate Battle, being the Ultimate fought in the so-called Islamic world).

  129. #129 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, this theism v deism started because I disputed the claim “…about 2.3 percent of the world’s population identifies themselves as atheist,…”

    Earlier I said, “Deists are atheists too”, but as I said back at #64, “Rev, okay, maybe that was a bit tongue-in-cheek.”

    Of course it’s all semantics. But it’s important, as David Hume made a big issue of, to get definitions of words settled on a precise basis. Otherwise, disputes just go on & on as the combatants continue to misunderstand each other. Confucius had a go at that too, so it’s had a lot of history from the best minds, but we still mostly bumble on regardless.

    The term “God” is usually used, by default, to refer to that bugger Yahweh, aka Allah. But the much less vile, or morally neutral, deistic god is a god too.

    Deism is nowhere near as stupid as theism. (Just for the record, I do not call myself a deist. I prefer to say that I’m an anti-theist & atheist.)

  130. #130 s1mplex
    April 17, 2009

    “My partner and I want a vial of sperm and an applicator that looks like Jodie Foster?s knuckles.”

    /Hoping this doesn’t become a Family Guy bashing thread

  131. #131 Sastra
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus J. Ranum #124 wrote:

    But scientists just say “I don’t know” and the murkies say:
    huge jumping back and forth quantum brane xtra dimensional mulder and scully dancing wu li masters higgs boson quantum superposition goddidit.

    Well, some murkies say that. Other murkies say “No, that’s nothing at all like what I mean by God.” And then, when you ask them what they mean by God, they keep snickering over the fact that you got them so wrong and confused them with New Agers, really, it just goes to show how atheists always pick on unsophisticated versions of God, they’re so like children, they try to bring everything down to their level in such an amusing way. It’s hard for murkies to get past that mis-step on our part, and continue seriously after that.

  132. #132 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, …if it’s all so mysterious and hard to fathom, their reasons for assuming a god is part of it is equally mysterious and unfathomable.

    Some of them declare a feeling of the immanence of their god. This state of mind does not depend so much upon reason, but rather, upon what may be almost a schizophrenic delusional state.

  133. #133 teammarty
    April 17, 2009

    Thank # 121 for Frank Zappa.

    I don’t quibble with Mick Jagger (didn’t even know but I’d put John Lennon on

    What, no Madalyn Murray O’Hair??? Ingersol (already mentioned)

    I’m sure there’s more that could be put on a list that others will remember.

  134. #134 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    How could they leave out Hypatia of Alexandria? Wikipedia lists her as a pagan, but anybody who was hacked to death by a Christian mob gets my vote. She did math, logic, astronomy and philosophy, and could be considered the last of the great Greek thinkers of ancient times. She died for truth, much more painfully than Socrates did, but is seldom remembered.

    And yay to whoever suggested Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Women were way short on that list, even counting Mick Jagger.

  135. #135 teammarty
    April 17, 2009

    Also, Alton Lemon (from the Lemon Test that Scalia hates so much.

  136. #136 Glen Davidson
    April 17, 2009

    I don’t quibble with Mick Jagger (didn’t even know but I’d put John Lennon on

    Except that Lennon claimed that he was not an atheist shortly before he was killed, implying that he never had been an atheist:

    LENNON: But nobody’s perfect, etc., etc. Whether it’s Janov or Erhardt or Maharishi or a Beatle. That doesn’t take away from their message. It’s like learning how to swim. The swimming is fine. But forget about the teacher. If the Beatles had a message, it was that. With the Beatles, the records are the point, not the Beatles as individuals. You don’t need the package, just as you don’t need the Christian package or the Marxist package to get the message. People always got the image I was an anti-Christ or antireligion. I’m not. I’m a most religious fellow. I was brought up a Christian and I only now understand some of the things that Christ was saying in those parables. Because people got hooked on the teacher and missed the message.

    beatlesnumber9.com/lp2.html

    He ends up being labeled an atheist because of his “imagine…no religion,” but he wasn’t. People need to take him off of their atheist lists.

    To be sure, it’s quite unclear (at least from that interview) how he was “a most religious fellow.”

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  137. #137 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    Deism is nowhere near as stupid as theism. (Just for the record, I do not call myself a deist. I prefer to say that I’m an anti-theist & atheist.)

    Deism, in my opinion, was a respectable enough position in antiquity. There were so many gaps back then for a god to fit into.

    In the modern world, where practically the only gap a god can be posited by the non-ignorant is as the First Cause (and even then is a fallacy, as there would have needed to be a previous cause to create god), deism is just theism for people who don’t want to commit to any disprovable beliefs.

    Deism is theism, and it makes no sense to call it “nowhere near as stupid”. If you’re postulating that theism is de facto stupid, the same argument applies to deism.

  138. #138 blop
    April 17, 2009

    By the way, crediting Stephen Jay Gould for “A scientific dissent from Darwinism” (the Discovery Institute’s petition), as this list does, is an incredibly ugly mistake.

  139. #139 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Paul, theists have to take much more absurd supernatural woo on board than deists do, hence, theism is more stupid than deism.

    Deism is not theism.

  140. #140 Jack
    April 17, 2009
  141. #141 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    Deism is based around the belief in a non-interventionist god figure. That doesn’t mean it’s not theism. Theism is the belief in a god, and deism sure qualifies no matter how much you equivocate. If deus wasn’t there, it would be atheism instead of deism.

    This is not the first time these points have been brought up in this thread, and as I have yet to see why “deism is not theism” you’re just arguing by assertion. Just because deists are murkies instead of supers doesn’t mean their woo is any less stupid or unnecessary.

  142. #142 Benjamin Franklin
    April 17, 2009

    REVBDC quoted in #42

    I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.

    I have always thought that Ben was just having a little fun with with this quote.

    While he probably didn’t “dogmatise” or “study” the divinity of Christ, do you really think that he did not seriously ponder and consider the matter?

    He probably just didn’t want to piss off and offend the natives & yokels at that late state in his life. IIRC he was in his eighties when he gave tat interview, and died just a few months afterwards.

    What do you think?

  143. #143 Benjamin Franklin
    April 17, 2009

    REVBDC quoted in #42

    I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.

    I have always thought that Ben was just having a little fun with with this quote.

    While he probably didn’t “dogmatize” or “study” the divinity of Christ, do you really think that he did not seriously ponder and consider the matter?

    He probably just didn’t want to piss off and offend the natives & yokels at that late state in his life. IIRC he was in his eighties when he gave tat interview, and died just a few months afterwards.

    What do you think?

  144. #144 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Paul, it’s pretty simple: more woo = more stupidity.

  145. #145 Neil
    April 17, 2009

    Waitjustagoddamminute-Ayn Rand, but no Kurt Vonnegut, no Isaac Asimov? I guess that producing anything humane or of any real or potential value to humanity(or even just basic decent writing)was a secondary consideration as applied to writers on the list. I would put Woody Allen’s books ahead of Ayn Rand’s, by any standard.
    It’s nice to see Douglas Adams get some notice, though. The humor and insight contained in just one of his short novels is worth more than a whole library full of deluded, dehumanizing, ego-masturbatory Ayn Rand bullshit. Hell, two crunchy tacos and a bean burrito are worth more than a library full of Ayn Rand bullshit, but I digress.

  146. #146 Benjamin Franklin
    April 17, 2009

    Sorry about the double post

    First time posting in a while.

    DAMN YOU type key registration process!

    /Shaking fist

  147. #147 Tom
    April 17, 2009

    Sorry PZ but you are not a better biology professor than Asimov was a writer. If the list was the 50 Atheists who are most annoying to the religious then you would be right near the top!!!

  148. #148 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 17, 2009

    Bacon is mainly protein,unless you fry it in heaps of fat or it has some huge rind on it its not actually bad for you.The classic “bacon and eggs” breakfast is a high-protein,low-fat,low-carb affair thats quite nutritionally valuable.

    Are you from England by chance?

  149. #149 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Richard Harris writes:
    Deism is nowhere near as stupid as theism.

    My stupid-o-meter only has a true/false setting. It’s one of the cold war era soviet-made ones with the extra heavy-duty irony circuit. So I can’t resolve how much stupid we’re talking about; they both register in the red zone for me.

    And, you’re right – it’s all semantics. I’m very concerned that our dictionaries not get hijacked. I’ve watched that happen with “alternative medicine” and I desperately don’t want to see it happen with atheist terminology, too.

    Which reminds me of a joke Hitchens told once, about being stopped in Ireland during the troubles, “what religion are you?” “Oh, we’re atheists.” “catholic atheists or protestant atheists?”

  150. #150 Roger Scott
    April 17, 2009

    Hmmn, an indifferent list. What about porn stars Asia Carrera and Brandy Alexandre? And Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Natalie Angier, Dave Barry, John Conway and Harry Kroto. Mick Jagger beats Christopher Hitchens? Why not squeeze another ten or so into the top 50?

  151. #151 Neil
    April 17, 2009

    Paul #141-
    For the record I think you have your definitions exactly right, but one thing-

    If every theist in the world were instead satisfied with deism, realizing that the “god” they “believed” in was just a vague idea of a cosmic first cause; essentially unknowable, not personally involved in daily life, and thus anyone who claimed to know or talk to god should be either ignored or maybe pelted with rotten produce, then I don’t think even the most committed atheist would have too much to complain about, as in “stupid and unnecessary.” Well, possibly unnecessary, but then so is almost everything in life.

  152. #152 'Tis Himself
    April 17, 2009

    theist
    (1) One who holds the doctrine of theism.
    (2) A person addicted to tea-drinking.

    Sob! I shall have to give up atheism.

    Hi, my name is ‘Tis and I’m addicted to tea.

  153. #153 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    Neil #151

    Fair enough. I think I would be happy in such a world. Nobody yelling at me that I’m going to burn in hell because I don’t follow their divinely inspired 10 Step Program Towards Holiness, and I’d still have the deists clutching their security blanket to poke fun at!

  154. #154 Free Lunch
    April 17, 2009

    I understand that General Robert E. Lee was also not a believer. It’s enough to explode the heads of the Confederacy-worshippers.

  155. #155 Kamaka
    April 17, 2009

    Deism/Theism

    Deism strikes me as a (relatively) rational viewpoint before Darwin came along with his better explanation of life on Earth.

  156. #156 Richard Harris
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, the way I see it, driving 10 mph over the speed limit is stupid (most of the time), & driving 20 mph over the speed limit is even more stupid (most of the time). I hope that you agree that this analogy is appropriate.

    Neil makes a good point. If all the theists became deists, there’d be a heck of a lot less nastiness, misogyny, idiocy, & violence in the world

  157. #157 JakeR
    April 17, 2009

    Mick Jagger has always managed the Rolling Stones’ money, making them all richer than God. Compare their financial situation to that of almost any other band from the ’60s still upright despite 50+ years of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll–and then claim he’s anything but brilliant.

  158. #158 Postman
    April 17, 2009

    I am chagrined, once again, not to find my name on the list. The whole thing is so political. Diagoras has been “working the refs” since 412 bce.

  159. #159 Kausik Datta
    April 17, 2009

    Tom at #147:

    Sorry PZ but you are not a better biology professor than Asimov was a writer.

    Apples and bacon? (Not even oranges!)

    If the list was the 50 Atheists who are most annoying to the religious then you would be right near the top!!!

    What are you, Nisbet-in-disguise?

  160. #160 Neil
    April 17, 2009

    #121-Duh, I can’t believe they (and I) forgot Zappa! Love him or hate him(and I love him)he’s certainly helped our culture, at least by making sure it’s easy to not take our culture too seriously.

    And O’Hair. In spite of any personal problems, she woke up this country of god-soaked idiots up like a branding iron on their cattle asses. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to write an entry in my personal blog about O’Hair and some christians I know, an old friend’s family. I was at their house when they saw the newspaper article about the discovery of the O’Hairs’ bound, murdered corpses. After reading the article, the mom and dad started chuckling, and they all, including my friend, had a good laugh about the grisly murder. “That’s what they get,” said the mother. No bullshit. I never looked at religion, conservative christians, or morality the same way again. I’ve never had a “supernatural” feeling or experience, but the dread and disgust I felt then made the hair on my neck stand on edge.
    Sorry to drift so far, but I’ve been meaning to explore it a bit and the mention of Ms. O’hair brought it back to me.

  161. #161 Sili
    April 17, 2009

    Quite a few names on there that I didn’t know were atheists.

    Carnegie and Buffet warms that cockles of my old heart. It’s good to see that there are true philanthropists out there.

    I honestly didn’t know about Nehru. Nor that Lee had such a distinguished background.

    But the sexiest of woman of all time wasn’t news to me at least. Pitty that Tracy kept being a Catholic and would divorce his wife. Bastard.

  162. #162 'Tis Himself
    April 17, 2009

    Carnegie and Buffet warms that cockles of my old heart. It’s good to see that there are true philanthropists out there.

    Carnegie was not all that philanthropic towards his workers. His actions during the Homestead Steel strike cannot be considered philanthropic.

    Henry C. Frick, general manager of the Homestead plant that Carnegie largely owned, was determined to cut wages and break the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, one of the strongest craft unions in the country.
    Behind the scenes, Carnegie supported Frick’s plans. In the spring of 1892, Carnegie had Frick produce as much armor plate as possible before the union’s contract expired at the end of June. If the union failed to accept Frick’s terms, Carnegie instructed him to shut down the plant and wait until the workers buckled. “We… approve of anything you do,” Carnegie wrote from England in words he would later come to regret. “We are with you to the end.”

  163. #163 Cafeeine
    April 17, 2009

    Paul @141

    Between ‘theist’ and ‘deist’ there exists the same type of definition vagueness that exists for atheists. Deists are theists in the same way that babies (and rocks) are atheists. Its true by definition, but also wrong, because in both cases a subset of the definition has appropriated the term in whole. (Is there a name for that?)

  164. #164 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Richard Harris writes:
    Marcus, the way I see it, driving 10 mph over the speed limit is stupid (most of the time), & driving 20 mph over the speed limit is even more stupid (most of the time). I hope that you agree that this analogy is appropriate.

    I don’t like arguing by analogy. It generally introduces a lot of irrelevancies that distract more than they illuminate.

    If you want to argue that more or less delusion is better, be my guest. I’m guessing you’ve got a dog in this fight, so to speak, since you seem to be so dead set on it.

    Since all deists are theists, they’re stupid. We could examine all the claims of the various deists and try to rank the stupid. At the bottom of the list, perhaps, would come the deists and their “I dunno. psst: goddidit” beliefs. Yay! They only have 10,000 stupidons while the hardcore fundamentalists weigh in at 5,000,000 stupidons. There, how’s that?

  165. #165 Paul
    April 17, 2009

    Between ‘theist’ and ‘deist’ there exists the same type of definition vagueness that exists for atheists.
    Cafeeine, #163

    Deists are theists in the same way that babies (and rocks) are atheists. Its true by definition, but also wrong, because in both cases a subset of the definition has appropriated the term in whole. (Is there a name for that?)

    If I read you right, you’re saying that deists are ignorant or brain-dead theists?

    On a more serious note, no, it is not wrong. Deists believe in a god. It may not be a “personal” god, whatever that means (I’m still awaiting clarification on that point, preferably by a self-identified deist). That puts them in the theism category.

    Your “subset of the definition has appropriated the term in whole” doesn’t make any sense in context. Nobody implies theism is deism (deism is a subset of theistic beliefs, obviously, as are monotheism and polytheism). And as far as I’m aware, nobody has tried to define atheism as “babies and rocks”.

    I’m really trying to understand what you’re saying. I’ll try logic and you can tell me where I’m wrong.

    Deists are a subset of Theists. Deist implies Theist.
    Babies and rocks are subsets of Atheists. Baby or rock implies Atheist.

    Are we in agreement here?

    Now, you’re saying that this shows me wrong somehow, because of something about subsets? If you’re trying to turn it around and say all Theists are Deists, sure, that’s a fallacy. A -> B doesn’t mean B -> A, obviously. But nobody here has claimed that.

  166. #166 Joe Bob
    April 17, 2009

    Ayn Rand in, Karl Marx out? Give me a break…

  167. #167 megan
    April 17, 2009

    Ricky Gervais is a loud and proud Avowed Atheist, and fucking funny as hell to boot. He does lots of anti-creationist/religious dogma jokes and comedy. Too bad he didn’t make it but his stardom and public atheism has only been less the 4-5yrs on the worldwide stage of fame.

    “Ricky Gervais-Bible/Creationism” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocgcj-C_nIw

  168. #168 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    Cafeeine writes:
    Between ‘theist’ and ‘deist’ there exists the same type of definition vagueness that exists for atheists.

    That’s a general problem with language. It’s why you’ve got some people who are “clue-challenged” while others are simply stupid. Sometimes terms are adopted in hopes of making things more or less palatable – but that’s marketing and propaganda.

    There’s no definition vagueness for “atheist” – it means “someone who does not believe in god(s).” Very simple. Now, someone may not like that term, for whatever reason, and decide to use the word “atheist” to mean “someone who does not believe in PZ Myers” and, perhaps, it’ll work. We’d then need a new term for people who don’t believe in god(s) and we’d be right back where we started again. It’s just vocabulary – and, if you want, you can have your own. But it’s a social phenomenon, language. If you want to have your own language, expect a lot of puzzled stares. Unlike facts, you can have your own vocabulary, but nobody’s required to adopt it. You could use the word “lampshade” to mean “person who does not believe in god(s)” and “atheist” to mean “thing that goes on top of lights to diffuse their brightness.” It’s asocial but be my guest.

    I’d bet that “atheist” will continue to be used for “person who does not believe in god(s)” for a very long time.

    Deists are theists in the same way that babies (and rocks) are atheists. Its true by definition, but also wrong, because in both cases a subset of the definition has appropriated the term in whole. (Is there a name for that?)

    It’s called “bullshit” I think.

  169. #169 Mumon
    April 17, 2009

    Sartre you ain’t; sorry but you really don’t belong on the list if he’s not on the list, and I like you.

  170. #170 Cafeeine
    April 17, 2009

    Paul,
    I was not saying that you are wrong, but that it is an issue of people using different definitions.

    Theism is belief in a god, and as such it encapsulates Deism, however their outlooks are completely different, so as to be different animals. The biggest difference between the god of the deist and the god of the other theists is that it doesn’t interfere with the natural world. In a sense, post-creation, they are, in my experience, as naturalistic as any atheist. So in effect most (although not all) arguments one can use against a theist do not apply to deists. Frequent public use, especially online, has equated [theists] to [all theists minus deists (and pantheists)]. Therefore a Deist may be a theist or not, depending on the definition used.

    The is why I used the atheist baby analogy. A baby obvious does not have any god belief, but this is not what we mean when we say “PZ Myers is a proclaimed atheist” nor is a baby or a child ‘atheist’ in the same way it can be called ‘Christian’ or ‘Muslim.
    That was all the point I was trying to make.

  171. #171 Qwerty
    April 17, 2009

    A biology geek on a list with Greeks and Jodie Foster.

    Not too shabby….

  172. #172 Enkidu
    April 17, 2009

    There was that long span where open atheists were dead atheists . . . in some places we are still in the dark ages.

  173. #173 Qwerty
    April 17, 2009

    Mu @ 33 – Another homosexual on the list (besides Jody Foster) is Alan Turing who was convicted under England’s homosexual laws during the 1950s and eventually committed suicide.

    To this day most religious people and persuasions still cannot accept homosexuality. That Leviticus crap and all. A shame that such a talented genius as Turing was underappreciated during his lifetime.

  174. #174 Cafeeine
    April 17, 2009

    “There’s no definition vagueness for “atheist” – it means “someone who does not believe in god(s).” Very simple.”

    If its that simple, why do words have multiple definitions? In effect what happens is words often get used to describe different meanings, and if these are adopted they become accepted. This happens, which is why there have been various propaganda movements to push this to particular ends (Homosexuality is a good example. One side of the debate promoted the connotation of immorality and the other of gaiety) I understand that language is a social construct, however it is hardly a uniform one. There are diverging branches shooting out at every point.

    In our case, ‘atheists’ often is used specifically as [atheists who are also outspoken, active and opposing religion] and ‘theists’ means [theists who believe in some personal god who interferes in the natural world and/or performs miracles, distinct from deists and pantheists].

  175. #175 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    For reference: theist.

    Frankly, I have no beef with deists; with no Revelation they have only, like us, their own best intentions to guide them. The distinction is of significance, but they’re not atheists, that much is clear.

  176. #176 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales @ 175

    Their own best intentions to guide them? How can their best intentions guide them when those intentions are guided by belief in the non-existent? Our best intentions are superior, as we are guided by reason and can recognize other’s intentions to convinve themselves of the irrational. No, the difference is significant, and has no significance on their side.

  177. #177 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Holbach,

    How can their best intentions guide them when those intentions are guided by belief in the non-existent?

    In contrast to dogmatic revealed religions (I’m considering deism as a type of belief, not a religion), deism provides no prescriptive moral dogma or activism (insofar as I’m aware). So I make it that, like atheists, they must use reasoning and humanity in their moral judgements.
    I admit I don’t personally know any such.

  178. #178 Kevpod
    April 17, 2009

    Just to be redundant redundant, I have to again register astonishment and dismay that one of atheism’s most colorful proponents wasn’t acknowledged in this list.

    Dumb All Over

    The Meek Shall Inherent Nothing

    It Might Just Be A One-Shot Deal

    Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk

    …and more genius I’m not remembering off the top.

    I don’t wish to belittle the contributions of the 50 on the list. But the list should be 51 to accommodate Frank.

  179. #179 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales @ 177

    Deism may divorce itself from organized religion, but it still endorses a belief in a god, whether that belief is embraced privately or through organized religion. The belief is paramount, and no matter the degree of interpretation, it is still a belief in an imaginary thing. I make no distinction on a person’s level or idea of a god; it is still an irrational belief of which I find repugnant.

  180. #180 Africangenesis
    April 17, 2009

    Holbach,

    “I like and admire Jodie Foster very much, but it hurts to have her admit that she has great respect for all religions. My like for her is not diminshed, but I would most assuredly argue with her on that point, and perhaps even convince her that this regard is unwarranted at best.”

    Religions are cultural artifacts, one can respect them just as one can respect the water works, pottery, literature, laws, myths, weapons, weaving, medicine, alchemy, tanning, painting, sculpture, dancing, etc.

    I wonder how the the dichotomy between fundamentalist Atheist and the atheists for whom it is not central to their identity would correlate with Myers-Briggs personality attributes. I suspect it would be along the Judging-Perceiving axis. I usually ask for the particular inquirers definition of “god” before responding whether I am an atheist or beleiver or not, since I’m not attached to any particular definition of God.

    Perhaps we should accumulate separate Atheist and atheist lists.

  181. #181 jsoutofbiblepgs
    April 17, 2009

    PZ, if you don’t belong on that list, then what ever shall we do with Sir Jagger?

  182. #182 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    Africangenesis @ 180

    Religion is undoubtedly a cultural artifact, the cultural aspect of which I certainly question as an atheist. It would no doubt have no bearing on culture if it had not existed, and culture would still germinate and prosper. All the examples you noted are of visual and tactile reality, whereas religion is not, and those examples do very well without religious influence except perhaps myths which I lump with religion, even though not originating of religion, and alchemy which is also false. I enjoy many interesting pursuits, all without the influence or hint of religion.
    I am an atheist, not fundamental or any other questionable tag one may wish to apply. Religion is simply a system of beliefs in gods that don’t exist, and on this dictum it is absolutely false. Why is it so difficult to understand that without our brains there would be no idea of a god. Our brains gave birth to this imaginary thing and all the reasons to understand and prove it so, and yet that same brain also disproves with reason and fact the non-existence of such ideas.
    I will make no attempt to identify the reasons for my unbelief as they are so logically obvious. I am an atheist, and no amount of irrational discourse will ever sway me from my rational stance.

  183. #183 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    AG:the dichotomy between fundamentalist Atheist and the atheists for whom it is not central to their identity That dichotomy is in your perception.
    It’s not a matter of identity, it’s about a degree of tolerance.

    Perhaps we should accumulate separate Atheist and atheist lists.

    Perhaps you misperceive us. Atheism is not generally considered a philosophy or an idealism, it’s a descriptor of lack of god-belief.
    Holbach is no more atheistic than I, but merely proclaims less tolerance and compassion for theists.

    I note you both seem to disdain to nuance between religion and theism per se.

  184. #184 Ken_Cope
    April 17, 2009

    Kevpod, just about everything goes better with more Frank Zappa.

  185. #185 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales writes:
    I’m considering deism as a type of belief, not a religion), deism provides no prescriptive moral dogma or activism

    What about believing in a god isn’t religion?

    Maybe they don’t worship it, and maybe they don’t think it affects anything (Aside from creating the universe) but if the deists believe in god, it’s religion. Or – at best – “the supernatural” It’s creationism writ cowardly to say “something created the universe and for all intents and purposes it’s got to be godlike” but of course it’s a “belief system” not a religion.

    You know what comes next, right? (Wait for it:)
    Bleating: “…you gotta respect my beliefs!” It’s OK if you disrespect all those stupid religions but my beliefs aren’t a religion because my god is really tiny and little and, uh, no, no, I don’t have a religion – just a god.

    Or is this another one of those “I have my own vocabulary and can call it whatever I want” kind of deals?? “common internet usage” my ass.

    What’s going on here with all the deist apologetics? This is getting weird. Are all you guys looking for excuses so you don’t have to accept that your relatives and friends are nutters and you’re rebranding them as “deists” because “creotards” is going to make someone cry?

  186. #186 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales writes:
    you both seem to disdain to nuance between religion and theism per se.

    Well, you’ve done a rotten job of explaining how they’re different, aside from their spelling.

  187. #187 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus, you’re technically right, but I consider religion to be codified belief and the practice thereof, as opposed to the belief itself. I think that allowing myself that distinction (whether linguistically appropriate or not) helps me to think about these matters more clearly.

    PS Oops re blockquote fail above.

  188. #188 Wowbagger, OM
    April 17, 2009

    I wonder how the the dichotomy between fundamentalist Atheist and the atheists for whom it is not central to their identity would correlate with Myers-Briggs personality attributes.

    I wonder whether it’s rank stupidity or intellectual dishonesty that makes people use the ridiculous expression ‘fundamentalist atheist’.

  189. #189 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus,

    What’s going on here with all the deist apologetics?

    Apologetics? Please.
    Just saying there’s a generally understood difference between deists and theistic religionists, and the former of the two should be preferable to any rational person.

    It’s not much of an acknowledgement for you to make.

  190. #190 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales @ 187

    No matter how you think about the distinction of religion, or what term you apply, it is still religion, a system of beliefs in an imaginary thing. Even semantics is useless in codifying distinctions when explaining the concepts and precepts of religions. Religions are a god belief, a god belief establishes religions. Simple as that.
    I may have mentioned this before in an earlier post, but on close reading of your comments I suspect that you are not a true atheist, as tidbits of deism intrude in the ever so lightly reference. I may be wrong, but I can sense the smallest iota of deference to a god.

  191. #191 Wowbagger, OM
    April 17, 2009

    No matter how you think about the distinction of religion, or what term you apply, it is still religion, a system of beliefs in an imaginary thing. Even semantics is useless in codifying distinctions when explaining the concepts and precepts of religions. Religions are a god belief, a god belief establishes religions. Simple as that.

    I disagree with this and think that John’s correct. Deism is acknowledging the existence of a deist god – a god which, by definition, cannot be worshipped or interacted with or venerated – that’s not religion.

    Holbach, Buddhism is a religion and yet it has no gods; therefore, your definition is inaccurate. You can have religion without gods and gods without religion.

    And, for fuck’s sake, acknowledging this does not mean ‘deference to a god’.

  192. #192 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales writes:
    Marcus, you’re technically right, but I consider religion to be codified belief and the practice thereof, as opposed to the belief itself.

    I read that as “you’re right but I prefer my own reality in which I’m right so let’s use that instead.”

    Why not use “codified belief” like you just did? It’s descriptive, comprehensible (obviously) and appears to work quite well.

    So if I understand you, you’re saying that the difference between “religion” and “theism” is that you, John Morales, have your own personal language in which they’re different. You have all the makings of a good theologian!

    Africangenisis writes:
    I wonder how the the dichotomy between fundamentalist Atheist and the atheists for whom it is not central to their identity would correlate with Myers-Briggs personality attributes.

    Who gives a shit? Myers Briggs is pseudoscience that only an idiot would take seriously. I suppose it’s more precise than astrology because it divides all the people on earth up into 16 basic types, instead of 12.

  193. #193 BGT
    April 17, 2009

    just for the hell of it, can I have Jodie Foster? OK, OK, she is out of the closet, but ya know, I find her atrractive..

    If she would allow me, I would, ya know…

    OK, enough of my wanking, Congrats to PZ!

  194. #194 bonze
    April 17, 2009

    Holbach #176

    Our best intentions are superior, as we are guided by reason…

    Like the famous atheist and rationalizer par excellence the Marquis de Sade?

    (Ducks)

    There is nothing per se irrational about believing there was a First Cause. Likewise for believing in the alternative, Eternal Regress.

    I don’t think the question can be settled empirically.

  195. #195 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus:

    So if I understand you, you’re saying that the difference between “religion” and “theism” is that you, John Morales, have your own personal language in which they’re different.

    You understand me, and it’s not just my idiosyncratic view.

    Consider secular religions, or just Google the terms, if you would, and tell me otherwise.

  196. #196 Kevpod
    April 17, 2009

    There’s always one Zappa freak around to bore everyone. That would be me.

    My last point is that the Frank tunes that deal with the falsity of religimusness are as enjoyable on the musical level as they are for their message.

    I’ll just go away now.

    Thanks, Frank.

    And PZ.

  197. #197 Ken_Cope
    April 17, 2009

    There’s always one Zappa freak around to bore everyone.

    Around here there are at least a few. So I would not feel so all alone.

  198. #198 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    Wowbagger,Om @ 191

    Substitute the word god for spirit, and what do you have? Buddhists have spiritual awakening which is akin to a belief in someting ethereal, which is not real. By not calling it a god does not erase the belief in something that transcends reality. Sure, it may not be a religion, but it is guided by a teacher who claims a spiritual affliation with something that does not exist.
    And I disagree with your statement of having religion without gods and gods without religion. You cannot separate the meaning no matter how you couch it. You say that “a deist god, a god which by definition, cannot be worshipped or interacted with or venerated- that’s not religion.” For fuck’s sake that’s still a belief in a god whether you worship or interact with or venerate it This is my point. You may not pray to it or acknowledge its presence, but you still believe it exists. Whether you attach this god to a religion is immaterial; you still believe in its existence. Can’t you get my meaning and interpretation? For fuck’s sake I don’t believe in it’s existence, let alone assign it deference. If my reasoning is wrong in this meaning, then by all means enlighten me.

  199. #199 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales writes:
    Just saying there’s a generally understood difference between deists and theistic religionists, and the former of the two should be preferable to any rational person.

    “Theistic religionist” is redundant. Religion is theism. Theism is religion. Both are the belief in a god or gods.

    Deism is a belief in a god or gods. Therefore it is also a religion.

    Religion (or theism) is the set of all belief systems based on a god or gods. There are lots of subsets of that set, one of which is a belief in a god or gods that doesn’t interact with mankind or the universe aside from having created it.

    Just saying there’s a generally understood difference between deists and theistic religionists, and the former of the two should be preferable to any rational person. It’s not much of an acknowledgement for you to make.

    A “generally understood difference”? If you use your own dictionary, maybe. Wishful thinking won’t make it so.

    Deism and other religions are all stupid. Is one more stupid than another? You can waste your time arguing about whether mormons and their magic pants are stupider than deists and their godditit because we still don’t understand everything. Rational people do not need to prefer more or less stupid religions. What’s the point of ranking them?

    I like your typepad ID page; at least there you’re up front about your being a creo, there. It certainly explains your concern with ranking one version of stupid religiousity as less stupid than another; I’m guessing that – coincidentally – it’s the one you believe that’s less stupid, huh? Guess what? Every dumb creo thinks theirs is less stupid. You’re like the kids in the short bus arguing about who sits closer to the front; you just don’t get it, do you?

    (PS – “John Morales” argumentation style and views so exactly match “Richard Harris” that I wonder if you guys are clones. I’m starting to suspect one is a sock puppet.)

  200. #200 Wowbagger, OM
    April 17, 2009

    And I disagree with your statement of having religion without gods and gods without religion. You cannot separate the meaning no matter how you couch it. You say that “a deist god, a god which by definition, cannot be worshipped or interacted with or venerated- that’s not religion.” For fuck’s sake that’s still a belief in a god whether you worship or interact with or venerate it This is my point. You may not pray to it or acknowledge its presence, but you still believe it exists. Whether you attach this god to a religion is immaterial; you still believe in its existence.

    Disagree all you like; you’re still wrong. Words have meanings and the word ‘belief’ and the word ‘religion’ are not interchangeable no matter how angry you get about it, nor how foolishly you react to people who point that out to you.

    Deism, AFAIK, doesn’t imply that the god that created the universe is interacting with it in any way. It set things in motion and then left, never to return. That’s it. How is believing that a fucking religion? They do not live any differently from an atheist apart from thinking that what we think happened without any input from a being happened with input from a being.

    And before you accuse me of secretly loving Jesus or whatever the fuck else you imagine not agreeing with you 100% on everything implies, let me say that I think deism is a really fucking stupid concept. It makes no fucking sense to me whatsoever. But that doesn’t mean that anyone who is stupid enough to subscribe to it is religious, because that’s not what the word means.

    Can’t you get my meaning and interpretation? For fuck’s sake I don’t believe in it’s existence, let alone assign it deference. If my reasoning is wrong in this meaning, then by all means enlighten me.

    Are you drunk? I wrote what I wrote because you accused John Morales – a poster with a history of atheist posts – of being a closet theist because he dared disagree with you and implied that deism (which he doesn’t subscribe to) isn’t a religion!

    Find some real godbots to argue with; don’t try and fabricate them out of atheists who don’t happen to share all your opinions or who won’t submit to your obnoxious rigidity.

  201. #201 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus,

    I like your typepad ID page; at least there you’re up front about your being a creo, there.

    Huh. Just looked.
    “John Morales has left 1 comment on 1 blog.” Actually, I’ve made more than a few in various blogs. Why that one shows rather than any other I have no idea.

    That’s a comment I made responding to someone talking about me in their blog (and I thought misconstruing me, thus the correction) about comments on another blog.

    That you think I’m a “creo” or haven’t been upfront is an indication of poor judgement.

  202. #202 Neil
    April 17, 2009

    Kevpod #178-please keep banging away about Zappa. He’s got to be one of the most under appreciated artists of the 20th century.
    Especially those three songs from the album You Are What You Is:
    The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
    Dumb All Over
    Heavenly Bank Account
    I refer to these as my “Holy Trinity” of Zappa music. Fuckin’ genius-a fine mind, and balls of steel. Kind of the like Christopher Hitchens of music.

  203. #203 Wowbagger, OM
    April 17, 2009

    Marcus J. Ranum wrote:

    I like your typepad ID page; at least there you’re up front about your being a creo, there.

    Astonishing. You should be so embarrassed by this that you stop posting here for at least a few days until people forget how stupid a mistake you made.

    Try using the search box for this site and see what John Morales has actually written, in context.

  204. #204 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger, OM – I was a fundamentalist christian, the Bible said it, I believed it, that settled it. But now I see the error in my ways, and I am, I suppose a fundamentalist Atheist.

    I’m very late to this discussion & will have to review it, but I usually wear the same size Bulldog collar as Holbach. Perhaps you might consider giving some of the walking wounded a break?

    I’ll leave off any further pithy remarks until I have a look at this. It was rather startling. Because I come from the snake kissing evangelicals I can clearly see the need for iron fist atheists like Holbach and myself. If I’m wrong, I’ll cut my own bar tab and ban myself from the spanking couch for the weekend. ;)

  205. #205 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    John Morales writes:
    That’s a comment I made responding to someone talking about me in their blog (and I thought misconstruing me, thus the correction) about comments on another blog.

    It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on in there and whose voice is whose. A little formatting might make it a bit more clear. I didn’t read it carefully enough; I suppose I should have spent more time suffering through trying to make sense of it.

    That you think I’m a “creo” or haven’t been upfront is an indication of poor judgement

    Waaah waah waah. I misread the spew on your page. I’m sorry. Really.

    It’s not “poor judgement” as judgement is commonly understood. Commonly, “poor judgement” is understood to mean “really nice guy” If you don’t believe me I’ll run and put it in wikipedia really quick and give you a link.

  206. #206 bluescat48
    April 18, 2009

    What interests me is that the majority of those on the list are either scientists, educators or entertainers.

  207. #207 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger writes:
    Astonishing. You should be so embarrassed by this that you stop posting here for at least a few days until people forget how stupid a mistake you made.

    I don’t work that way. I make a mistake, I claim it and move on. What kind of chickenshit would hide because of a blog posting? Is that what you’d do?

  208. #208 Enkidu
    April 18, 2009

    To this day most religious people and persuasions still cannot accept homosexuality.

    I’m a straight atheist, and I don’t accept it . . . it’s not my place to accept, reject, or even have an opinion on who adds meaning to your life or what his or her genitals should look like.

    Gays should move past asking for tolerance, because tolerance implies a right to an opinion. Every human should be free to live his or her own life, choosing his or her own partners free from any fear or even a moment’s consideration of what the rest of us think.

    I didn’t give a rat’s ass what you thought of my wife when I proposed to her, and my gay brothers and sisters shouldn’t care what I think. Equality is not enough . . . indifference and nothing less!

  209. #209 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Patricia,OM,

    Hopefully, you can be an “iron fist atheist” in your stridency, but still open to good faith intelligent discussion that acknowledges distinctions such as Wowbagger, Morales and others here are trying to make.

    I disagree with Wowbagger’s assertion however, that deism is a stupid concept, although I’ll grant that it is a dated one. The intellectual giants who held that belief in the past were living before nearly all the advances of modern physics, so their mechanistic beliefs about the universe itself were matters of faith, since they had no understanding of the workings. Even today, we don’t know if there was ever NOTHING and the big bang is a singularity not covered by our physics. One can define it as the beginning of time but that is merely an intellectual discipline insisted upon by some. There are still mysteries about the universe and time, and we now know enough to be more comfortable with a void in the gaps of our knowledge. Whereas at one time a first act, a creator made sense, today it is merely a speculative hypothesis about something beyond a sigularity.

    While some scientists had the optimistic hubris to label our species home sapiens (man the wise?), a more general and correct observation was probably “man the religious”. We are the anamolous ones.

  210. #210 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger writes:
    But that doesn’t mean that anyone who is stupid enough to subscribe to it is religious, because that’s not what the word means.

    Gosh, did you go switch ALL the dictionaries or something?
    Or are you using your own like John Morales’?

    I could probably pile on definitions from online dictionaries until our eyeballs explode but here’s a few:
    re?li?gion – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

    religion
    the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship

    relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity

    What about ‘god created the universe, then left’ isn’t a statement of faith about the behaviors of a supreme being? Or that it once existed? Ascribing universe-creating or fine-tuning powers to this “god” sounds a whole lot like worship. (“worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being”)

    Let me ask you flat out; what are you attempting to accomplish with your attempt to redefine ‘religion’??

  211. #211 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Marcus J. Ranum,

    I think you will be able to grasp the distinction better if for “set” of beliefs, you substitute “system” of beliefs. Most Deism doesn’t rise to the level of religion. A deist who believes “I believe a higher being must have created the universe, since it is so ordered, although I see no evidence of any activity since then, I can accept it if you are inclined to appreciate and worship him”, simply doesn’t not rise to the level of a religion.

  212. #212 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Africangenesis writes:
    A deist who believes “I believe a higher being must have created the universe, since it is so ordered…”, simply doesn’t not rise to the level of a religion.

    OK, so you disagree with every definition of “religion” that I’ve managed to find so far.

    So please share your definition. And, how do you compute this “religion level”? At what point does belief in a supreme being “rise to the level of religion”?

  213. #213 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Oh, and tell us why your definition of “religion” is better than Webster’s and the OED’s and should superceed theirs.

    I’m not saying necessarily that they’re right, you understand. But since language and vocabulary are social phenomena and they work by us agreeing on the meaning of words, Webster and the OED represent a respected long-term consensus.

  214. #214 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Marcus,

    I was agreeing with your definitions. I was just explaining them to you. The terseness of the dictionary was not writtent to be used for fundamentalist prooftexting. Go to a cultural anthropology text or an encyclopedia article for an explanation of the concepts that would be the starting point for an intelligent discussion, e.g,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

  215. #215 RobertDW
    April 18, 2009

    bonze@194

    There is nothing per se irrational about believing there was a First Cause.

    The irrationality comes into play when you accept that belief as 100% proven, and use it as a rationale for acts that you would not tolerate otherwise.

    When you refuse to examine the possibility of being wrong, and dismiss evidence contrary to your belief, you are being irrational. Note that the object of belief doesn’t count.

  216. #216 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    I was just explaining them to you.

    the fucking arrogance is palpable.

    god, I wanna kick you in the taint.

  217. #217 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    I explain, and you do nothing more than declare moron, arrogant and inane, without explanation or substance. Too bad you aren’t “arrogant” or patient or polite enough to explain. Why should anyone take you seriously if you don’t participate in good faith.

  218. #218 anthonzi
    April 18, 2009

    Quite the Euro centric list there. What about all of the atheistic philosophers in Asia, many of them coming before the Greeks?

  219. #219 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Jesus fucking Christ. Seriously, PZ, you’ve got to turn registration off so we get some trolls for Marcus and Holbach to attack. These two empty, frustrated pricks are so desperate to argue with people they’ll start something over anything, not matter how fucking inane.

    Marcus J Ranum wrote:

    re?li?gion – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

    religion – the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship

    relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity

    You see what I did there? The sections which aren’t in bold are those parts of the definitions you cited which deism does not meet the definition of religion. Can you see how much is in bold? You know why? Because that’s how deism isn’t a religion. Here’s it dumbed down for you:

    Deism says ‘a being created the universe’ – that’s it. It doesn’t say anything about its purpose or its nature; it doesn’t involve any devotional or ritual observances and it doesn’t contain a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    It doesn’t involve the service or worship of God or the supernatural.

    It doesn’t involve the worship of the god or gods or any such system of belief and worship relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality of deity.

    You want to count the words that don’t apply to deism compared to those that are?

    Ascribing universe-creating or fine-tuning powers to this “god” sounds a whole lot like worship. (“worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being”)

    Are you kidding me? Belief in the existence of something = worship? Maybe you should spend a little more time thinking about what those words in the dictionary mean rather than just cutting and pasting.

    Heck, I believe some guys built my house; I don’t know for sure ’cause I wasn’t there – does that mean I worship them? Am I engaged in some sort of builder-centric religion by acknowledging that?

    I’ll try another way – though I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s thoughts as opposed to actions. Deism is the thought there is a god; religion is acting upon that thought. Like murder – thinking about murdering someone – not a crime. Actually murdering someone – a crime.

  220. #220 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Patricia wrote:

    Wowbagger, OM – I was a fundamentalist christian, the Bible said it, I believed it, that settled it. But now I see the error in my ways, and I am, I suppose a fundamentalist Atheist.

    I think you’re confusing fundamentalism with strength, or ferocity or commitment – that’s not what it means. A liberal (non-fundamentalist) Christian can be just as unwavering and ferocious about his/her beliefs as any YEC, snake-handling, gay- and woman- hating Phelps type – it’s just that latter takes a more significant proportion of the bible literally.

    There can’t be fundamentalist atheists because, apart from lacking the belief in god, there’s nothing else to it. We don’t have a book which we believe to the letter – or if we do it’s news to me…

    Yes, there’s the whole ‘strong’ vs. ‘weak’ atheist spectrum, but I still think it’s totally inaccurate to use the term ‘fundamentalist’ to differentiate one atheist from another. It seems, for the most part, to be used by people trying to irritate atheists by comparing them to fundamentalist Christians.

    Atheists who happen to be emotionally stunted assholes, on the other hand, do exist; we’ve just had the pleasure of seeing them in action. Fortunately, it makes no difference whatsoever to my lack of belief in god.

  221. #221 Feynmaniac
    April 18, 2009

    Jesus fucking Christ. Seriously, PZ, you’ve got to turn registration off so we get some trolls for Marcus and Holbach to attack. These two empty, frustrated pricks are so desperate to argue with people they’ll start something over anything, not matter how fucking inane.

    Seconded.

  222. #222 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    I don’t work that way. I make a mistake, I claim it and move on. What kind of chickenshit would hide because of a blog posting? Is that what you’d do?

    Hey, as long as you’re okay with people reading your posts and going, ‘hey, it’s that Marcus guy – he thought John Morales was a creationist; can you believe that? What a fucking douche. He obviously doesn’t spend a lot of time reading posts for comprehension so I’ll just ignore him’ you can do what you want. I’d be so embarrassed to have made such a fucking egregious error that I’d want to wait until people stopped associating my name with ‘fucking clueless dumbass’.

    You claim it? Funny, what I’d do – and what I suspect anyone else with an ounce of character and integrity would do – is apologise, admit I made a serious error and withdraw the accusation.

    But that’s why I’m not an arrogant asshole who can’t admit when he fucked up royally – probably because my argument isn’t so weak that I’m afraid it couldn’t remain standing if I actually admitted I wasn’t perfect.

    That you consider genuinely apologising and acknowledging you misrepresented someone ‘chickenshit’ says a great deal about you.

    And this:

    Waaah waah waah. I misread the spew on your page. I’m sorry. Really.

    That’s what’s called a notpology. You aren’t even a big enough man to admit you made a mistake, are you? Fucking pathetic.

  223. #223 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    It obviously doesn’t matter whether someone is an “atheist” or a “deist”. Neither believes in a god that intervenes in human affairs. The atheist and the deist differ only on the question of the origin of the Universe. This is a scientific or philosophical matter of contention, and, let’s face it, most of you aren’t really interested in this. How many of you have put significant time and effort into gaining familiarity with concepts in cosmology? Not even one percent of you, I’d imagine.

    So stop being so uptight about the word “atheist”. Some people who call themselves agnostics or deists or whatever are for all practical purposes the same as atheists in worldview.

  224. #224 scooter
    April 18, 2009

    oooo
    oooo

    flame war

    who are we gangbanging?

  225. #225 scooter
    April 18, 2009

    I’m glad I did a [find] search on the comments for Ayn Rand before unleashing a redundant tirade of indignation.

    Well done, Pharyngulites, carry on.

  226. #226 scooter
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger:

    Patricia: I was a fundamentalist christian, the Bible said it, I believed it, that settled it. But now I see the error in my ways, and I am, I suppose a fundamentalist Atheist.

    Patricia suggests that fundamentalist atheism is;

    Nobody said it, I wouldn’t believe it if they did, and that settles nothing

    which is why she capitalizes atheism but not christianity

    I think she said that,
    anyway
    Food for thought
    now, where’s my pie !!

  227. #227 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 18, 2009

    I like Frank Zappa but I wish he had catchier melodies for the vocals. I wish he would have spent more time on that. Oh well what can I say.

  228. #228 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    Children, play nicely together. Or there’ll be no ice cream after lunch today.

  229. #229 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Scooter#225,

    “I’m glad I did a [find] search on the comments for Ayn Rand before unleashing a redundant tirade of indignation.”

    Did you find the first tirade interesting, informative or challenging? It is probably for the best, since your admission that your comments would have been redundant, implies that they also would not have been any better.

    Rand may well have saved atheism by rescuing it from total identification with communism, at a time when even the Pledge of Allegiance had to be amended to conform with the political correctness of the time. I also wonder if she might have been ahead of her time in snarkiness, since her discussion of religious beliefs had more of a mocking than academic tone. The persuasiveness of her works despite their politically incorrect (by western judeo-christian standards) perspective on morality suggests human nature has values that are percieved as positive even against strong cultural headwinds. Perhaps cultural anthropologists should be looking to see how universal these values might be. Genes valuing and seeking heroic integrity and creative competent productivity would seem to have the potential to increase evolutionary fitness. Excellence persued to the point of indulging a selfish desire for improvement and perfection. Amazing skill and competence seems to be associated with this type of internal drive for mastery and competence rather than some kind of service to the collective motive.

    Could there be a tension, sharing and altruism are the glue that is valued in the tribe and collective, but it may be the genes of the competent ingenius provider that are given the most opportunity to propagate. Does the hero/warrior/provider have a selfish or sacrificial motive for developing his competence? There may be a schizophrenic tension in human evolution at this stage of our partially aborted evolution.

  230. #230 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    I like Frank Zappa but I wish he had catchier melodies for the vocals. I wish he would have spent more time on that. Oh well what can I say.

    I think my sarcasm detector is broken

  231. #231 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Play. Play is as important in developing facility with objects of the intellect, as it is with physical objects such as the basketball, revolver, skateboard or sword. The best minds I’ve seen in labs and academia play with ideas, language, mathamatical formulas, artistic media or whatever the “objects” of their discipline are. Is play selfish?

  232. #232 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    A week without trolls,and we’re turning against each other already,out of boredom or something??
    What on earth???

  233. #233 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 18, 2009

    I liked his dicso song. IIRC, Zappa liked disco a lot.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a75_1182003313

  234. #234 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    A week without trolls,and we’re turning against each other already,out of boredom or something??

    It seems that way, and it’s very depressing. And what’s even more disturbing is that certain posters have become so desperate for something to attack that they’ve started strapping religious strawmen to well-known atheist regulars.

  235. #235 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger,
    yeah,im on(a quiet so far) night shift and reading my way up the thread,and cant quite believe the thing with John M.

    Agree 100% with your 222.

  236. #236 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    When we did the previous experiment with signing in, traffic was down considerably, and we were on the edge of sniping at each other. I’ve noticed a drop-off in the number of my posts since the latest signing in started, mostly due to the lack of trolls.

  237. #237 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    I’ve noticed a drop-off in the number of my posts since the latest signing in started, mostly due to the lack of trolls.

    Mine too. But that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to start picking fights for the sake of it. However, as this thread illustrates, I’m not going to sit back and take shit from people who do.

  238. #238 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 18, 2009

    Atheists are rediculous. They would even deny they’re own existence if they knew they wouldn’t run out of athiests. (Which ain’t very many.)

  239. #239 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    They would even deny they’re own existence if they knew they wouldn’t run out of athiests.

    I can’t deny my existence. I have the Redhead and a mortgage bill as evidence to prove it.

  240. #240 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    We could always make fun of libertarians. AG is still around and probably spouting silliness about von Mises was the greatest economist since Adam Smith and Ayn Rand was the greatest philosopher since Aristotle.

  241. #241 tweetybirdie386sx
    April 18, 2009

    I would never advocate anyone denying their own mortgage bill. I have been quoted out of context!

  242. #242 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    It’s a gorgeous day. I’m going for a sail.

  243. #243 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Nice day here by the lake. A good day to rake the back yard.

  244. #244 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    I’ve noticed a drop-off in the number of my posts since the latest signing in started, mostly due to the lack of trolls.

    Sadly, this suggests* that perhaps we all have less to say to each other than we might otherwise think, and that the trolls, rather than being an annoying distraction, are in fact one of the major factors driving the conversation.

    *Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, please note the word suggests. I’m just speculating, although I don’t think that this idea completely lacks supporting evidence.

  245. #245 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Josh,
    I dont think there can be any doubt about that trolls are a major driving force of conversations.
    But trolls are also a good opportunity to learn stuff for oneself at times.
    And last week here has been a tad boring..:-(

  246. #246 scooter
    April 18, 2009

    #229

    Did you find the first tirade interesting, informative or challenging?

    Apparently you are attempting to begin an inteeligent discussion about Ayn Rand.

    It would be easier to have an intelligent discussion about shoving a banana up your ass, then compare and contrast to teabagging.

    I read her crap, all four abominations when I was about thirteen, on advice from my dad, they did not compare favorably to Marvel comic books then, nor do they now, on any analysis of literature that I am aware of.

    More along the lines of the really bad incomprehensible writing of the DC comics of the sixties….. totally flat, dull, with characters more stiff than drug store Indians.

    This discussion of that moron is now closed, go troll the fucktards at John Galt dot duh, lightweight.

  247. #247 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    But trolls are also a good opportunity to learn stuff for oneself at times.

    Indeed. I’m hoping that a few of them evolve and get through our new airtight security measures.

  248. #248 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    I dont think there can be any doubt about that trolls are a major driving force of conversations.

    I think we’re just used to high troll volumes and we need to adjust to a less antagonistic approach. It might take a while but i guess we’re going to have acclimatise.

  249. #249 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Whew, I’m glad this didn’t blow up into 500+ comments, since I said I’d read it all…. coffee!

  250. #250 Ranger_Rick
    April 18, 2009

    PZ, I for one, feel your inclusion on the Top 50 influencial atheists is very cool. Keep up the great work you do so well…hearding cats is never easy!

    And to those here who wish to argue over lexical definitions…please, try to keep it civil. Some of us are trying to get some rest and your noise is keeping us from that…I suggest you rest as well.

  251. #251 Ken_Cope
    April 18, 2009

    The Randroids…the Randroids…

  252. #252 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    Atheists are rediculous. They would even deny they’re own existence if they knew they wouldn’t run out of athiests. (Which ain’t very many.)

    I have no clue what you are getting at there.

  253. #253 Ken_Cope
    April 18, 2009

    Rev., looks to me like an imitation of a troll, only sillier.

  254. #254 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    It makes no fucking sense to me whatsoever. But that doesn’t mean that anyone who is stupid enough to subscribe to it is religious, because that’s not what the word means.

    I’m myself an atheist, but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here. Even Einstein seemed to sometimes veer down that path. These guys were discovering the laws of nature in their mid-twenties, whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists.

  255. #255 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    I’m myself an atheist, but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here. Even Einstein seemed to sometimes veer down that path. These guys were discovering the laws of nature in their mid-twenties, whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists.

    And there are many who don’t.

    Your fucking point? If you have one.

  256. #256 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    What’s the point of being Ilk if you don’t insult creationists? It’s more fun than jumping into a polar bear’s swimming pool.

  257. #257 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    Your fucking point? If you have one.

    My point was exactly what I said was my point. It is wrong to refer to “people stupid enough to subscribe to [deism]“, because some deists are highly intelligent. This clique has the annoying habit of acting as if everyone not part of it is an idiot.

  258. #258 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    No, not really. We have the annoying to some but true tendency to point out that idiots are idiots.

    Some may act the way you describe but not all of “this clique”.

    You however seem to have the annoying tendency to engage in reckless smug hyperbole.

  259. #259 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger, OM wrote:
    But that’s why I’m not an arrogant asshole who can’t admit when he fucked up royally – probably because my argument isn’t so weak that I’m afraid it couldn’t remain standing if I actually admitted I wasn’t perfect.

    You just blew my irony meter to pieces.

    I made a mistake, and if I didn’t throw myself on the ground apologizing to your satisfaction, that’s your problem. What it’s got to do with whether my argument is strong or not is irrelevant – though I’m surprised you’d trot out such a tired highschool level debater’s trick. The irony of someone posting a bit of pure ad hominem ranting and saying my argument is weak smells like … victory.

    That’s what’s called a notpology. You aren’t even a big enough man to admit you made a mistake, are you? Fucking pathetic.

    Is there a “miss manners” abbreviation you are trying to add after your OM? You’re doing it wrong.

    If Morales wants to take me to task, let him. If you want to be his self-appointed yapping dog gnawing at my ankle, more power to you.

  260. #260 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Therion @ 257,

    It is wrong to refer to “people stupid enough to subscribe to [deism]“, because some deists are highly intelligent

    And highly intelligent people do and believe irrational and stupid things all the time,what has the computing capability of anybody’s brain got to do with its inherent tendency to subscribe to superstition and woo?
    Again,your point?

  261. #261 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    …whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists.

    I know that I for one feel like a complete failure after this insightful and accurate broad brush characterization, crushed by a terrible sense of not having contributed anything to the world. And I was already feeling low this morning, popping in here every so often to browse or drop a comment as an intermittent distraction from these manuscript edits that my co-author just sent. The guilt during breakfast was heavy too, as I took periodic Pharyngula breaks while putting together a field trip itinerary.

    But painful or not, I’m glad you made that comment. And let me assure you, it’s not lost on me at least. Rather, it weighs on me that our intellectual prowess and professional productivity isn’t up to your standard. Because of course groping for your approval is my main concern.

    And what exactly was it that you’ve done today?

  262. #262 John Phillips, FCD
    April 18, 2009

    Therion, all you have shown is that even individudals who may be genius in some areas can be blind in others. Cognitive dissonance for a £1000 anyone.

  263. #263 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    No, not really. We have the annoying to some but true tendency to point out that idiots are idiots.

    That’s patent bullshit, sorry. This is no different from any other community in that the appraisals of idiocy here are almost always entirely subjective. It’s fashionable to say that Ken Ham and Michael Behe are morons etc., but I sincerely doubt they score below average in IQ or are unusually ignorant. It can be fun to call creationists names, so I don’t really have a problem with that. In this thread, though, the rampant hubris was becoming obnoxious, so I felt it necessary to break the bad news.

    You however seem to have the annoying tendency to engage in reckless smug hyperbole.

    Smug hyperbole? What? “Smug” occurs when someone implies his own superiority or implies others’ inferiority. I did nothing of the kind.

  264. #264 GILBERT GOSSEYN
    April 18, 2009

    Hey, what about Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Nietzsche!

  265. #265 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    This calls for bacon and fried pertaters.

    *carry on*

  266. #266 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    @ 263,

    It’s fashionable to say that Ken Ham and Michael Behe are morons etc., but I sincerely doubt they score below average in IQ or are unusually ignorant.

    Its not fashionable,its true.And you are doing it again !

    Their IQ has fuckall to do with their tendency to lie,misrepresent,distort facts or be willfully ignorant,and thats why we will call them out on it.

    Noone here is feeling superior,you might be projecting there.

  267. #267 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Therion bears a striking resemblance to J.

    I’m myself an atheist, but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here. Even Einstein seemed to sometimes veer down that path.

    I’m (still) reading Isaacson’s biography, but I’m not really seeing where Einstein veered down that path in any meaningful way. A sort of pantheism, yes, but not deism. Perhaps I haven’t reached that part yet. I don’t know much about Dyson (read one of his books years ago), but I found this about him on a web site:

    In Disturbing the Universe Dyson contrasts his views with those of Jacques Monod, the famous French biologist who wrote in Chance or Necessity?:

    The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance.

    Dyson responds:I answer no. I believe in the covenant. It is true that we emerged in the universe by chance, but the idea of chance is itself only a cover for our ignorance. I do not feel like an alien in this universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.

    Dyson develops this idea further and concludes that “the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning.”

    I would love to see this evidence.

  268. #268 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Hi SC!

  269. #269 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    And what exactly was it that you’ve done today?

    Doesn’t matter. I’m not the one calling people idiots.

    And highly intelligent people do and believe irrational and stupid things all the time,what has the computing capability of anybody’s brain got to do with its inherent tendency to subscribe to superstition and woo?

    But deism isn’t necessarily “irrational and stupid”. If fine-tuning holds, and it might well do, there are two known hypotheses that can account for it. One is an intelligent designer, the other is a multiverse. Some people believe the latter comes out even worse after we apply Occam’s razor. They’re not obviously wrong.

    Maybe if you look at it closely enough, deism comes out as less plausible. Big deal. Most of us have lives and things to do that don’t involve orienting our lives around vague probability estimates based on dimly understood hypotheses and arguments.

  270. #270 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Most of us have lives and things to do that don’t involve orienting our lives around vague probability estimates based on dimly understood hypotheses and arguments.

    I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.

    hello SC..:-)

  271. #271 Nanu Nanu
    April 18, 2009

    Therion bears a striking resemblance to J.

    Oh fuck I remember him. Wasn’t he the idiot that kept on going on about brights? I do see the resemblence.

  272. #272 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Doesn’t matter. I’m not the one calling people idiots.

    Not in so many words, perhaps, but you did, to use your phrasing, veer down that path a bit:

    …who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here.

  273. #273 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    FINE TUNING

    Here we go.

  274. #274 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    Einstein and Dyson and many other great physicists, based on my readings, do seem to toy with deism, sometimes conflating it with pantheism. Whenever Dyson is questioned about this, his ultimate answer seems to be along the lines of “I don’t know, but I won’t rule it out”. There are many quotes of Einstein that seem hard to explain if you identify God solely with “the laws of physics”.

    The best argument against deism, in my opinion, is Dawkins’ “Ultimate Boeing 747″ idea. This seems a decent, handwaving sort of reasoning. The fact is, however, that the argument, as presented by Dawkins, fails to satisfy the theoretical standards required by physics and cosmology (and maybe even philosophy). Maybe someone will come along and develop it further and more solidly. Until that happens I’m not going to consider it a knockdown argument.

  275. #275 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Hi Patricia!

    People pointing to some of the problems with this list may be interested in the discussion here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/an_inspirational_poster.php

    If fine-tuning holds, and it might well do, there are two known hypotheses that can account for it. One is an intelligent designer, the other is a multiverse.

    This has never made sense to me. Of course this universe is has the conditions for life, since life exists in at least one tiny part of it (I don’t see this as something that needs to be accounted for an the way you’re suggesting). But the contention that an intelligent designer created the cosmos planning for it to give rise, billions of years later, to carbon-based life forms on one dinky planet and then through a process that looks completely contingent, again over several billion years, produce one species of relatively intelligent primate strikes me as quite stupid. And given what we know about the material basis and evolution of animal minds, including our own, this immaterial Mind business is also rather dumb.

  276. #276 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    See y’ll later, I’ve got to buzz off for some new knitting needles that are an hours drive away. :D

  277. #277 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Einstein and Dyson and many other great physicists, based on my readings, do seem to toy with deism, sometimes conflating it with pantheism…There are many quotes of Einstein that seem hard to explain if you identify God solely with “the laws of physics”.

    Actually, this appears to be correct with regard to Einstein. I just got out the book and I had not in fact reached the section on “Einstein’s God,” which I just read. However, it seems in his case to be a “meaning” given irrationally on the basis of an understandable sense of awe and wonder.

  278. #278 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger writes:
    (various personal crap)

    Try keeping your wits about you. I don’t understand why you’re getting so upset. You can foam at the mouth all you like but it carries no weight with me. So, what’s your agenda?

    I’ve been quite clear about mine: I’m trying to understand why people are trying to reinvent perfectly good language – when I see that, I always suspect an attempt at spin or a hidden agenda. Something’s going on. What is it?

    Deism says ‘a being created the universe’ – that’s it. It doesn’t say anything about its purpose or its nature; it doesn’t involve any devotional or ritual observances and it doesn’t contain a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    Yes, that’s my understanding as well.

    Now, be intellectually honest and re-parse:
    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    Is deism a set of beliefs: Yes
    Does it concern the cause of the universe: Yes
    Does it concern the nature of the universe: Yes (“godprobablydidit” as an explanation for how physical law came into being is a pretty powerful statement regarding the nature of the universe!)
    Does it concern the purpose: No (although it’s pretty obvious that “god” had its purpose for creating the universe, deists simply say they don’t know what it is – which is a far cry from saying that a supreme being went to all that trouble for no purpose)
    “Often containing” doesn’t mean “always containing” and “usually involving” doesn’t mean “always involving”

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to start dissecting each and every definition of “religion” that we find in dictionaries. That’d be pointless. I picked the first one (I think it’s Merriam Webster’s but I forget) because I thought it was pretty fairly worded.

    Are you kidding me? Belief in the existence of something = worship?

    No, I said “sounds a whole lot like…”
    Seriously, though, how can someone claim that the universe was created by a supreme being and not have a bit of respect for that supreme being’s awesome universe-creating powers? I’m not trying to put the word “supreme” in anyone’s mouth, but calling something all powerful is a statement that it’s superior to oneself, is it not? It’s not headbanging on the ground style worship.

    Heck, I believe some guys built my house; I don’t know for sure ’cause I wasn’t there – does that mean I worship them? Am I engaged in some sort of builder-centric religion by acknowledging that?

    What a silly argument. If you believed that some guy magiced your house into existence using mighty incomprehensible all-powerful magic that established the very fabric of the space-time in which your house was built – and you believed in the guy because, well, you wanted to. And that the purpose of this all-powerful house-builder was unknown to you and possibly un-knowable… Uh. I’d say you’d be pretty retarded not to show someone who does that kind of thing a certain amount of respect. And, if I believed in such a thing, I’d owe it at least the veneration and respect due to my creator. That sounds a whole lot like ‘worship’ to me. Your house-builder’s motives were doubtless clearer than god’s: you paid them. They are eminently comprehensible, while the god of the deists remains mysterious in motive, method, and power. You don’t need to take your builders as an article of faith but a deist certainly makes a lot of assumptions about god (like: goddidit, godexists) ; your example and reasoning are very poor.

    I’ll try another way – though I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s thoughts as opposed to actions. Deism is the thought there is a god; religion is acting upon that thought.

    That’s your definition. Why don’t you go find a few dozen dictionaries that use it and then I’ll be impressed.

    Here’s why your definition fails: thinking is a subset of action. If a deist sits there thinking “god created the universe” he is acting on those beliefs. Thinking is doing something.

    Oh, now you’re going to say “but he’s not banging his head on the floor like a muslim!” – so what? He still thinks he knows something about the origin of the universe and even that tidbit of “knowledge” about something so big and important is going to have consequences throughout the rest of his belief system. What about thinking you know something about the origin of the universe based on know evidence isn’t revealed truth?

    Let’s try this another way:
    - Can we agree that Jefferson was a deist?
    - Do you therefore argue that Jefferson was not religious?
    - Can you please explain why he wrote a bible based on the principles of pure deism as taught by jesus?

    Cue the “no true deist” response from Wowbagger… 5… 4… 3…

  279. #279 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Marcus Ranum,

    its 3am at Wowbagger’s location,you might have to wait for your answer.

    This was posted on the “easter” thread earlier:

    I was hoping registration would be left on a bit longer so we could see that “Are deists theists?” discussion turn into Lord of the Flies

    You’re certainly trying.

  280. #280 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 18, 2009

    Therion writes:
    But deism isn’t necessarily “irrational and stupid”. If fine-tuning holds, and it might well do, there are two known hypotheses that can account for it.

    It’s still irrational and stupid because it got the reasoning backward. Deists start with the conclusion “goddidit” and go from there. It may turn out they’re right. It may turn out they’re not. But that will only turn out to be relevant if and when we ever know.

    A rationalist would shrug and say “we don’t know yet” and keep trying to find out. A deist says “I already know, I’m just trying to prove it.”

  281. #281 Toby Barrett
    April 18, 2009

    Wot, No Shelley? Publishing The Necessity of Atheism got him expelled from Oxford University in 1811.

    Good to see Russell T Davies on there.

  282. #282 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    A rationalist would shrug and say “we don’t know yet” and keep trying to find out. A deist says “I already know, I’m just trying to prove it.”

    You’re ignoring the possibility that some individuals who identify as deists genuinely believe deism is the best bet.

    This has never made sense to me. Of course this universe is has the conditions for life, since life exists in at least one tiny part of it (I don’t see this as something that needs to be accounted for an the way you’re suggesting). But the contention that an intelligent designer created the cosmos planning for it to give rise, billions of years later, to carbon-based life forms on one dinky planet and then through a process that looks completely contingent, again over several billion years, produce one species of relatively intelligent primate strikes me as quite stupid.

    Well, you could say the same about the two sequels to The Matrix. “This is shit. How could this be designed by a conscious agent?” But the brute fact is, there’s no other way we can account for its existence. Some deists, I’d imagine, would make the analogous case.

    And given what we know about the material basis and evolution of animal minds, including our own, this immaterial Mind business is also rather dumb.

    You use words like “stupid” and “dumb” far too readily. The fact is, there lots of industrial-strength thinkers who’ve wrestled for years with the mind-body problem and still take this “immaterial Mind business” quite seriously. Like you I think they’re wrong, but they are not necessarily stupid or intellectually dishonest. The philosophy of mind can be disturbingly, profoundly confusing.

  283. #283 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    You’re ignoring the possibility that some individuals who identify as deists genuinely believe deism is the best bet.

    Yawn, philosophy without evidence is sophistry. Yawn. Belief without evidence is delusion. Old argument, going nowhere. Mental masturbation.

  284. #284 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Well, you could say the same about the two sequels to The Matrix. “This is shit. How could this be designed by a conscious agent?”

    Your analogy is not apt. That is not what I’m arguing.

    But the brute fact is, there’s no other way we can account for its existence.

    It seems as though the only aspect of the universe that people seem to believe needs to be “accounted for” is us, which is silly. The history of the cosmos, our late and apparently contingent emergence, and our miniscule place in it does not suggest that we are a part of some conscious master plan. Quite the contrary. Again, I’d like to see this evidence Dyson alluded to pointing toward a universe that anticipated us or had us in “mind.” It’s ridiculous.

    You use words like “stupid” and “dumb” far too readily. The fact is, there lots of industrial-strength thinkers who’ve wrestled for years with the mind-body problem and still take this “immaterial Mind business” quite seriously. Like you I think they’re wrong, but they are not necessarily stupid or intellectually dishonest. The philosophy of mind can be disturbingly, profoundly confusing.

    I think the “philosophy of mind” has to be based on the science of brains. Otherwise, yes, it can be profoundly confusing, because people can come up with all sorts of notions that have no evidentiary basis or make little sense in light of what is known.

    I never said anyone was stupid. I said certain ideas or contentions are stupid, particularly given what we now know (but even Lucretius saw the problems with arguments that are still being made a couple of millenia later). Intelligent people can harbor stupid beliefs about any number of subjects. And not once on this thread have I called anyone intellectually dishonest. I’ll thank you not to misrepresent me.

  285. #285 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    Yawn, philosophy without evidence is sophistry. Yawn. Belief without evidence is delusion. Old argument, going nowhere. Mental masturbation.

    You’re right, it is boring. That’s because some of you insist on repeating the same old slogans and buzzwords, all of which happen to be irrelevant in this case. The deists I referred to believe they do have evidence. They might turn out to be wrong, just as people can be wrong about politics, economics, or any other point of intellectual disagreement. Different from theists, they’re not going on faith, and they’re not making outrageously extravagant claims about the authenticity of holy books. No need to describe deists as “deluded”. If you do, the word will become meaningless and will apply to everyone who makes a bad argument in any subject of discussion whatsoever.

  286. #286 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    Geez, Pharyngulates, better start getting along better. Patricia, OM, has gone off to get knitting needles–and when she gets back…well, I hate to even think about what’s she’s gonna do with them!

  287. #287 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    Again, I’d like to see this evidence Dyson alluded to pointing toward a universe that anticipated us or had us in “mind.” It’s ridiculous.

    He was probably thinking of the foundations of quantum mechanics when he said that. The formalism suggests (note: I only say “suggests”) that human consciousness plays a special role. Naturally, many physicists don’t believe this is so. It is, however, an extremely difficult conclusion to theoretically avoid. Physicists have been trying since the 1930s, without any clear success.

    No, people like John Wheeler and Freeman Dyson are not idiots, and what they say is not “ridiculous”. Modern physics can be deeply spooky and unsettling. Personally speaking, the more physics I learn, the more I sympathize with their theoretical extravagance. Grand puzzles require grand explanations, and I can understand where Dyson, Wheeler etc. are coming from (even though I don’t agree with them).

  288. #288 Therion
    April 18, 2009

    Grand puzzles require grand explanations…

    Whoops. I meant “require grand solutions“.

  289. #289 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    He was probably thinking of the foundations of quantum mechanics when he said that. The formalism suggests (note: I only say “suggests”) that human consciousness plays a special role. Naturally, many physicists don’t believe this is so. It is, however, an extremely difficult conclusion to theoretically avoid. Physicists have been trying since the 1930s, without any clear success.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here, nor do I care particularly, especially since you’ve simply avoided addressing the points I’ve made. This modern deism is but a desperate attempt to salvage some essential core of the Judeo-Christian god, not any sort of scientific conclusion arrived at through analysis of the evidence (the cosmos and its history).

    No, people like John Wheeler and Freeman Dyson are not idiots,

    I pointed out your earlier misrepresentations and asked you to stop. Now you can just fuck off.

    and what they say is not “ridiculous”.

    Contentions about what needs to be explained based on the anthropic principle are indeed ridiculous.

    Modern physics can be deeply spooky and unsettling.

    That is evidence for neither a deity nor a universal Mind.

    Personally speaking, the more physics I learn, the more I sympathize with their theoretical extravagance made-up shit lacking evidentiary support.

    How sad for you.

  290. #290 Rorschach
    April 18, 2009

    Modern physics can be deeply spooky and unsettling.

    Time for you to grow up then.
    I found Starsky&Hutch deeply unsettling when I was 10,but Im better now.

  291. #291 Sastra
    April 18, 2009

    SC, OM #284 wrote:

    It seems as though the only aspect of the universe that people seem to believe needs to be “accounted for” is us, which is silly.

    This is a point which always strikes me about Fine Tuning Arguments: they only seem to take out what they put it. Humans are amazing: if things had been even a little bit different, then humans would not be here: therefore, an amazing plan must have been in place beforehand.

    Put in that humans are special, and we subsequently discover that humans are … special. Deliberately select an object, and find out it appears that someone has mysteriously selected it. No kidding.

    I would be interested in seeing a Fine Tuning Argument for the existence of God which starts out with the assumption that human life is dull, boring, and in need of no particular explanation, because there is nothing specially noteworthy about it. I have a feeling it wouldn’t get very far — or even get started. If human arrogance is a necessary requirement for finding God, then perhaps what’s really being worshiped here is not the Higher Power, but our amazing selves.

  292. #292 Monado
    April 18, 2009

    It’s partly that more recent figures are remembered.

    Hypatia, Napoleon Bonaparte, Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, Wafa Sultan, Margaret Mead, Eugenie Scott, Marie Sk?odowska-Curie, Jane Rule, David Hume, Voltaire, James Randi, Linus Torvalds, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Studs Terkel, Theo Van Gogh.

    Actors, actresses, musicians, athletes, politicians: Sir Ian McKellen, Griff Rhys-Jones, Trent Reznor, John Lennon, Ani DiFranco, Björk, Marlin Brando, Brian Eno, Margot Kidder, Diane Keaton, Sarah Polley.

    From the Internet: Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Michelle Bachelet (current president of Chile), Liv Arnesen (the first woman to ski solo to the South Pole), Nadine Gordimer( winner of the 1991 Nobel prize for literature), Baroness Susan Greenfield (a leading neuroscientist and the director of The Royal Institution), Wendy Kaminer (American author, journalist, lawyer), Julia Sweeney (American actor/commedian [or actress/commedienne, depending on how much information you want in your words ]), Dick Cavett, Barry Manilow, Sarah Vowel.

    Possibilities: Carl Sandberg? Abraham Lincoln? Elizabeth Cady-Stanton? Susan B. Anthony?

  293. #293 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Ah, we’re up to the fuck off’s now.
    Then I’m back just in time with my super sharp Addi TURBO 47″ number ten knitting needles.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER3MS8gm8UE

  294. #294 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Oh no, jet propelled needles. Duck pullets, duck. ;)

    (Either those are very long or circular.)

  295. #295 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Yep, circular. My first pair of Addi Turbo’s! I’m pretty excited to try them. (oh gosh, you couldn’t tell. :D)

  296. #296 Aquaria
    April 18, 2009

    Isaac Newton was smarter than most people even now, but he believed in some weapons-grade stupid shit, too.

    Being smart about one or even many things does not exclude being a brain dead moron about something else.

  297. #297 Flapper
    April 18, 2009

    A list of great atheists that doesn’t include JL Mackie can be safely ignored anyway.

  298. #298 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    At #293, Patricia, OM announced:

    Then I’m back just in time with my super sharp Addi TURBO 47″ number ten knitting needles.

    I tried to warn them, but nooooooo. Looks like they’re just too stuck in their snarling and snarking to disengage.

    So…whatca going to do with those needles?

    Maybe you can just teach everyone to knit. At least for beginners, it’s rather hard to knit and snarl.

  299. #299 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    At least the abuse of poor Wowbagger let up while I was gone.

    Sheesh!

    Knitting needles must be scarier than I thought.

  300. #300 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Knitting needles must be scarier than I thought.

    Rule one, stay the length of the knitting needles plus one step away from the Redhead when she’s busy with them.

  301. #301 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    bastion of sass – yeah, it was getting pretty snarly here. I fell asleep during the fray last night… rolls eyes.
    I’m making:
    http://www.knittingpureandsimple.com/cardi.html

    #286 – bulky shrug, it’ll do nicely while peddling herbs and eggs at Saturday Market. Maybe I could chart a big red A on the back. ;)

  302. #302 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Nerd – You could always ask her to make one of these:

    http://queerjoe.com/images/Willie_Warmer.jpg

  303. #303 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Patricia, ROFLMAO

  304. #304 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    And the line between Ravalry and Pharyngula begins to blur.

  305. #305 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    And the line between Ravalry and Pharyngula begins to blur.

    There was one? :-)

  306. #306 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    And the line between Ravalry and Pharyngula begins to blur.

    you mean Ravelry (especially LSG), and yes, especially when knitting and bacon and sex come together.

  307. #307 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    you mean Ravelry

    I FUCKING PREVIEWED.

    *smacks hand into wall*

    Owe. Fuck.

    *glares at everything*

  308. #308 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Oh no, Josh caught the Rev.’s cooties…

    Welcome to our world. Typos are the norm. You are now a true Pharnagulite.

  309. #309 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Uh, yeah, you might have noticed I have a little problem with irrational anger when I make typos…

  310. #310 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    Owe. Fuck.

    you mean “Oww. Fooke?”

    ;P

    as to the willie warmer posted by Patricia…

    I was “forced” to watch all 4 seasons of Outrageous Fortune by Kiwis who said it would edjumacate me wrt Kiwi linguistics. One thing I do recall, however, was the “cock sock”.

    I can’t find the relevant clip, but for those unfamiliar with OF, it’s like this:

    http://www.bebo.com/FlashBox.jsp?FlashBoxId=4402666193&

  311. #311 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Uh, yeah, you might have noticed I have a little problem with irrational anger when I make typos…

    Hmmm…. That might explain the dents in my desks at both work and home. And my sore forehead…

  312. #312 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Hehe…cock sock.

    And Nerd, as you once advised me-a helmut might help with that. It was good advice on your part…

  313. #313 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    a helmut might help with that

    I don’t know what some German guy is going to do for him.

    *runs*

  314. #314 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Now maybe you’ll appreciate silk yarn a little bit more Nerd. :D

  315. #315 Dania
    April 18, 2009

    a helmut might help with that

    you mean helmet?

    *ducks*

  316. #316 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *throws his K-pot at SC*

    Playfully, of course

  317. #317 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Josh, we are heading for punville. It happens every so often. I have the bad habit of contributing a pun or two. SC, Emmet, and Mayhempix are the experts.

  318. #318 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    A little pun-o is better than were it was headed a minute ago…

  319. #319 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Heading? I thought we were already there.

    My response is the same, however. Puns always earn smacks.

    *retrieves k-pot for Dania*

  320. #320 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    I’m back. Yes, I had a nice sail after we rigged a new spinnaker halyard. That only took an hour and a broken fingernail. But the sailing was good.

  321. #321 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    *throws his K-pot at SC*

    Puns always earn smacks.

    Hey, I’m just needling you, but since I now know how you feel I’ll save my purls of wisdom for those who’ll appreciate them. I guess neither of us wants to be left in stitches.

  322. #322 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    Don’t make me stop this thing and come down there.

  323. #323 Dania
    April 18, 2009

    *pops up and looks at Josh*

    *ducks again immediately*

  324. #324 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Look out Chimpy, they’ve all been playing with “socks” while you weren’t looking.

  325. #325 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Don’t make me stop this thing and come down there.

    Bacon’s in the harbor. (ducks and runs.)

  326. #326 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    I saw that and while I don’t know exactly what is going on, i have a good idea and I DON’T LIKE IT ONE BIT.

    Settle down or I’m turning this thing around and EVERYONE is going home.

  327. #327 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Rev.’s a punophobe. He knows how much he loves them, and that if he opens that gate just a little bit he won’t be able to stop himself. Witness the thread about the Iraqi shoe thrower. So he tries to prevent others from tempting him.

    You know it’s true, Rev. :)

  328. #328 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Okay, back from dinner*

    Hey, I’m just needling you, but since I now know how you feel I’ll save my purls of wisdom for those who’ll appreciate them. I guess neither of us wants to be left in stitches.

    *groan*

    Oh, and SC, just FYI while I have you here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/ken_millers_talk.php#comment-1573628

    *What do you mean “why the heck was I checking Pharyngula from the restaurant?” It’s not nice to point at someone’s addiction, you know.

  329. #329 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Oh yeah! Well I’ve got your font cootie hanging upside down from the Mimosa tree. Turn around, and I’ll drop him into the chook yard. *so there*

  330. #330 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Patricia, are you pulleting my leg?

  331. #331 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Yes, the Rev. gets all crochet-ty about puns.

  332. #332 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Yes, and I’ll egg you on too.

  333. #333 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    *looks for his firehose

  334. #334 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Maybe we should stop needling him about it.

  335. #335 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    He’s liable to tat-tle on us.

  336. #336 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    We could just let him off the hook.

  337. #337 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *pops up and looks at Josh*

    *completely misses Dania’s pop-up while writing to SC*

    DAMMIT.

    *brandishes K-pot pseudo-menacingly*

    Just you do that again…

  338. #338 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    A corset could get ugly…

  339. #339 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    He thinks we’re a darned bunch of troublemakers.

  340. #340 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    But I still don’t know why he wales so much about it? some kind of bias.

  341. #341 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 18, 2009

    Ok that’s it. You asked for it.

    Take this.

  342. #342 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Aw c’mon Rev. ? it’s just a little ribbing.

  343. #343 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Really. He’s been lam-basting us for too long.

  344. #344 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    UGH!
    OK, I’ll quit ribbing you now.

  345. #345 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    At #327, SC, OM wrote:

    Rev.’s a punophobe. He knows how much he loves them, and that if he opens that gate just a little bit he won’t be able to stop himself. Witness the thread about the Iraqi shoe thrower. So he tries to prevent others from tempting him.

    My head is bobbin “yes.” It seams we’ve witnessed this pattern of punning previously.

    But to tease the Rev about it seems rather crewel. He really can’t help himself.

  346. #346 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Jesus Christ, Rev. Watch the collateral damage. Wow.

    Knit wit.

  347. #347 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Just wait till the Vile Bitch get’s here Chimp, she’ll rip you a musical new one.

  348. #348 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Knit wit.

    I knew it! He’s one, too!

    (Everyone’s a sampler, it seems.)

  349. #349 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    At #347, Patricia, OM wrote:

    Just wait till the Vile Bitch get’s here Chimp, she’ll rip you a musical new one.

    Nod. I suspect that in her own special way, she’ll press the notion that the Rev. should cast off.

  350. #350 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    Rev BDC #341

    Oh, so you want to play rough, do you?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCAjmuA1HDk

  351. #351 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    Twill any more warped puns turn up?

    How many are weft?

  352. #352 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    lam-basting

    don’t you mean lamb-basting?

  353. #353 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    *turns off Project Punway for a moment*

    Josh, thanks for reminding me about that thread ((I hadn’t seen Kseniya’s last replies, either). Sorry I didn’t respond. My ambitions exceeded my energy/time this week, but it’s in my notebook, so I’ll let you know what I come up with and where I go with it when I have time.

    I’m sure we can make it work.

  354. #354 Josh
    April 18, 2009
  355. #355 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    Here’s one for the rest of us: Robby O’Connell “Kilkelly, Ireland”

  356. #356 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    How many are weft?

    A few, but some of them are so bad, they could only be contem-plaited by selvages.

  357. #357 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Dang, I garter go cook supper.

  358. #358 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    I’m sure we can make it work.

    We can. We will. And there is absolutely no rush.

    I’ll just needle you about it periodically if you forget…

  359. #359 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    oh, don’t make me go narwhal on your ass.

    We all know what wool knitters are really about…

    :p

  360. #360 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Here’s one for the rest of us: Robby O’Connell “Kilkelly, Ireland”

    Holy shit. I had completely forgotten about this song. Wow. Old girlfriend. Back in the day. Maine. July. Wow. Just…wow.

    I never knew who sang this and spent some time hunting around for it before the intertubes days, but had completely forgotten about it since.

    Thank you for this…

  361. #361 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    Oh, so you want to play rough, do you?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCAjmuA1HDk

    Oh, yeah. Well, if you’re going to be like that, take this!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyBcHUe4WeQ

  362. #362 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    With tomorrow’s work looming, twill be better for me to show some moral fiber, make this my dernier comment, perhaps ply myself with a little Bushmills (not gin), and go to bed, lest I be up-braided for my bad puns.

  363. #363 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    A few, but some of them are so bad, they could only be contem-plaited by selvages.

    Yeah, I had a notion that the worsted was yet to come. Just swatch.

  364. #364 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Yeah, I had a notion that the worsted was yet to come.

    Yeah, better to bolt now.

  365. #365 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    We all know what wool knitters are really about…

    I almost unraveled listening to this one. Priceless.

  366. #366 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Got the pork roast socked into the oven, but I still tweed to dill the carrots.

  367. #367 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    Yeah, better to bolt now.

    You mean just dart off?

  368. #368 Emmet, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Here’s one for the rest of us: Robby O’Connell “Kilkelly, Ireland”

    On similar lines, here’s my rendition of Spancil Hill, a classic Irish song loosely based on a poem by Michael Considine, who emigrated to the US around 1870.

    And, with that, I’m off to the scratcher.

  369. #369 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    You just had to horn in with those dirty deeds.

  370. #370 SC, OM
    April 18, 2009

    You mean just dart off?

    Yup. I know I’ll regret it if eyelet myself stay.

  371. #371 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    You guys and gals just have me balled up with laughter.

  372. #372 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    arrrrgggghhhh. it’s a seventies war!

    Oh, yeah. Well, if you’re going to be like that, take this!

    parry.

    thrust:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mflw8-BZdV0&feature=related

  373. #373 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    arrrrgggghhhh. it’s a seventies war!

    I’ll see your parry, and riposte with shag hair carpeting.

  374. #374 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *sigh*

    Fine. You made me do this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYCXBzep9o

  375. #375 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    Fine. You made me do this.

    Oh, thou has truly drawn blood with that one.

    *gasp*

    still, ’tis but a flesh wound…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZSEDsWp7TQ&feature=related

  376. #376 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009

    You’re cruel, Josh. Now I’ll have to do something probably illegal under the Geneva Conventions:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHS8hj4TdT8

  377. #377 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    *ducks*

    *spins*

    *goes for legs*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzaJgXYMAsY&feature=related

    oops, we’re not doing parody.

    *trips*

  378. #378 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Ono, is he killing Beatles?

  379. #379 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    goes for quick-flip recovery:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8bXs9Er3iw

  380. #380 'Tis Himself
    April 18, 2009
  381. #381 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    muhahahaaha!

    unlimited power!

  382. #382 Wowbagger, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Sorry to interrupt the knitting puns but I’ve got to respond to what was put to me while it’s fresh in my mind.

    Marcus J. Ranum wrote:

    And, if I believed in such a thing, I’d owe it at least the veneration and respect due to my creator. That sounds a whole lot like ‘worship’ to me.

    Therein lies the problem, Marcus. We’re not talking about what you would do if you believed, we’re talking about what other people do do when they do believe.

    And you don’t get to tell them (or us, for that matter) what they do and don’t do if they believe. Christians like to tell us what atheism is in such a way that it suits their arguments; we don’t accept it. It’s the same case here.

    Plus, if you want to argue it that way then we really are at an impasse because I’d say that if I believed in a deist god (which I don’t) it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to how I lived my life. None whatsoever. So, something created the universe and then left. Big, fat, hairy deal. Where’s my burrito?

    What you wrote about Jefferson is valid, though, and I take that on board – what I think it means is that there are religious deists and non-religious deists. I’m prepared to accept the label of hair-splitter for the sake of defusing an unneccessary argument.

    Put it this way – I feel that if someone meets the description of what I’ve been saying a deist is then they aren’t religious. When (if) they start behaving in any of the ways you’ve outlined as being indicative of a religion – adherence, reverence, veneration, respect, worship and so forth – then yes, they are religious and the way they are practicing it is a religion.

    Neither of us are deists, though, and I believe we’re both wasting our time trying to quantify at what they do and don’t believe and how they act on those beliefs.

  383. #383 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    still, ’tis but a flesh wound…

    Oh, what are you gonna do, bleed on me?

    You’re cruel, Josh. Now I’ll have to do something probably illegal under the Geneva Conventions:

    Oh, that hurt.

    *staggers back*

    *presses play*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UauHDIlhvTk

  384. #384 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    BRUTAL!

    *spits blood*

    from hell’s heart, I stab at ye…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxo0lsJnx-U

  385. #385 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    muhahahaaha! unlimited power!

    How dare you take John Williams’ name in vane!

  386. #386 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    from hell’s heart, I stab at ye…

    For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath…at thee…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHfaSKbn6vM

  387. #387 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    I didn’t want to do this, but you leave me little choice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P-v1BVQn8

  388. #388 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath…at thee…

    *head pops from having hot poker thrust unexpected through helmet visor*

  389. #389 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    You guys and gals just have me balled up with laughter.

    I don’t know if we’re cable to zip it or knot.

  390. #390 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    @bastion:

    appropriate, as I think you’re the last man standing.

  391. #391 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *looks around at the carnage*
    *only bastion remains*

    *locks and loads*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0lKmznjgfQ

  392. #392 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    Ono, is he killing Beatles?

    Why don’t we just let it be?

  393. #393 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    from beyond the grave…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfm-17pu6SQ&feature=related

    goodbye my friend, it’s hard to die…

  394. #394 Anonymous
    April 18, 2009

    Why don’t we just let it be?

    We need all the help we can get.
    *Dives for cover*

  395. #395 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    appropriate, as I think you’re the last man standing.

    Yeah, that’s what they want me to beweave. Then, when I least expect it, they’ll smock me with a good hook.

    I’m not taking any darn chances!

  396. #397 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    (Dang, #394 was me, but TypePad seemed to have expired.)

    Bastion, just think of the yarns you can tell your grandkids if you survive.

  397. #398 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    *looks around at the carnage*
    *only bastion remains*

    *locks and loads*

    [gasp!]

    There will be blood tonight!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn4Kfvxczs0

  398. #399 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy4HPA06xzw

    Ha! Where did you buy that dud from? North Korea?

  399. #400 Josh
    April 18, 2009
  400. #401 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    Ha! Where did you buy that dud from? North Korea?

    *shakes head*

    Budget cuts…

  401. #402 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    There will be blood tonight!

    already posted that one at #384. While I can understand picking up a fallen soldier’s weapon, I think that means Josh has a large advantage now.

  402. #403 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    *raises head, looks around*

    By George, we need more bacon.

    *dives back under cover*

  403. #404 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *moves to overwatch position*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeW4dbuyscQ

  404. #405 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    No worries Wowbagger, OM. He had a good frogging coming to him, needle him all you like.

  405. #406 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    *Looks up at the ring-o-stars. Time for bed*

  406. #407 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    *scans*
    *detects no enemy fire*
    *breaks contact*
    *moves to last in route rally point*
    *calls higher and gives sitrep*
    *recons and establishes patrol base*
    *waits…*

  407. #408 Patricia, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Time for you to cast off Nerd. ;)

  408. #409 Africangenesis
    April 18, 2009

    Wowbagger#382,

    “Therein lies the problem, Marcus. We’re not talking about what you would do if you believed, we’re talking about what other people do do when they do believe.”

    That’s the part I never got either. Believers assume that if they get you to believe the God-creator theory, that automatically you will swallow the whole shebang that they think comes with it. The creator exists, THEREFORE, you must worship him, he is in peronsal communications with you, he had something to do with Jesus and the bible, he made sure the Bible was inerrant and properly assembled at the council of Nicea, and oh yes, Satan exists too, and unfortunately is a bit more active in the world. For someone interested in evidence, it seems so many parts of the argument are missing.

    An interesting near universal characteristic that Marcus seem to share is this idea that worship or veneration would somehow follow. Why would such a lofty being be interested in our little worships and sacrifices? The idea itself seems silly, but ritual sacrifices and submission to gods is a near universal in humans. It looks like an anthropomorphism of gods to the top of our petty social hierarchies. If we imagined ourselves at the top of the hierarchy, we want the best meats and the most fertile disease free mates. And, of course, unless one happens to be a libertarian, when one encounters someone in authority or otherwise above us in the social hierarchy, we lay down or bend over and assume the position, and then after the authority has had his way, we thank him for the gift of our lives.

    Somehow, the deists of the past, with their impersonal, uninvolved Gods, don’t seem to practice any religion beyond a little awe at creation, and they don’t assume the position.

  409. #410 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    already posted that one at #384. While I can understand picking up a fallen soldier’s weapon, I think that means Josh has a large advantage now.

    Damn it! Obviously shell shocked from Josh’s last barrage.

    Forced…to retreat…try to recover…check to see what remains in my arsenal.

    Yes! Still have some firepower remaining.

    Now, should I use it all at once, or hold out against a counter attack?

    Oh well, let’s see what happens…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fgGNZYR5QM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSqo17o2a1w

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKw8j7GLSdw

  410. #411 Ichthyic
    April 18, 2009

    holy fuck!

    it’s a goddamn cluster bomb!
    :P

  411. #412 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 18, 2009

    Time for you to cast off Nerd. ;)

    Jammies, check. Teeth flossed and brushed, check. Alarm set, check.
    Yes Ma’am.

  412. #413 bastion of sass
    April 18, 2009

    it’s a goddamn cluster bomb!

    Twas my mammal ammo.

    To which I add:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0KKGdb4qUY

  413. #414 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    SC,

    I pointed out your earlier misrepresentations and asked you to stop. Now you can just fuck off.

    What, are you afraid your posts don’t hold up to scrutiny? If not, I can’t understand this needless aggression. There’s no “misrepresentation” on my part. My point, clearly, is that they are brilliant men, who know far more science than you, and are not to be trifled with. You didn’t call anyone an idiot, but you apparently think you can wave aside people Wheeler and Dyson with belittling words like like “stupid”, “ridiculous”. That is just arrogant, in my opinion.

    Contentions about what needs to be explained based on the anthropic principle are indeed ridiculous.

    Thousands of physicists, including sober-minded atheist physicists like Leonard Susskind and Steven Weinberg, would disagree completely.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here, nor do I care particularly, especially since you’ve simply avoided addressing the points I’ve made. This modern deism is but a desperate attempt to salvage some essential core of the Judeo-Christian god, not any sort of scientific conclusion arrived at through analysis of the evidence (the cosmos and its history).

    You’re just stating this without any supporting argument, so I need only say that I disagree and move on.

    Many deists don’t even talk about “god”, but instead a Turing machine. Modern deism is a fairly respectable attempt to reduce one mystery (the origin of the Universe) to a mystery which seems smaller and easier to digest (a Turing machine on which this Universe is “running”). Many physicists believe there’s fine-tuning, and they have some good points. There are only two known hypotheses that can immediately account for fine-tuning, one of which is some sort of deism. The other (the multiverse) some would say is just as extravagant.

    The argument that the Universe seems to anticipate “us” also can’t be dismissed out of hand. If you understood quantum mechanics, you would be able to see this better, or at least debate the subject without hysterics.

    My money is on the multiverse, which anyway suggests itself in different forms through string theory and foundations of quantum mechanics. Even still, I think this hypothesis has its own problems. It’s not even plain to me how the multiverse is better than deism in terms of postulatory parsimony.

  414. #415 Rorschach
    April 19, 2009

    Therion,

    which part of “intelligent people can believe stupid things” do you not understand??

    And quit with the argumentum ad verecundiam already,it doesnt really fly around here.

  415. #416 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    My money is on the multiverse, which anyway suggests itself in different forms through string theory and foundations of quantum mechanics. Even still, I think this hypothesis has its own problems. It’s not even plain to me how the multiverse is better than deism in terms of postulatory parsimony.

    An old trope in fantasy and SF.

    —(snippet from Accelerando, Charles Stross, 2005)

    Manfred’s mood of dynamic optimism is gone, broken by the knowledge that his vivisectionist stalker has followed him to Amsterdam – to say nothing of Pamela, his dominatrix, source of so much yearning and so many morning-after weals. He slips his glasses on, takes the universe off hold, and tells it to take him for a long walk while he catches up on the latest on the tensor-mode gravitational waves in the cosmic background radiation (which, it is theorized, may be waste heat generated by irreversible computational processes back during the inflationary epoch; the present-day universe being merely the data left behind by a really huge calculation). And then there’s the weirdness beyond M31: According to the more conservative cosmologists, an alien superpower – maybe a collective of Kardashev Type Three galaxy-spanning civilizations – is running a timing channel attack on the computational ultrastructure of space-time itself, trying to break through to whatever’s underneath. The tofu-Alzheimer’s link can wait.

    I guess it’s all storytelling, but some of it is acknowledged to be so.
    Anyway, the advantage of multiverse hypotheses over deism is that at least some such may be in principle testable.
    Greater parsimony is not the only criterion; possible testability is another.

  416. #417 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    not to be trifled with

    wtf?

    Now I’m laughing at you.

  417. #418 Zarquon
    April 19, 2009
  418. #419 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    You’re just stating this without any supporting argument, so I need only say that I disagree and move on.

    without saying it, she might be responding to the fact that we’ve had the fine tuning discussion here MANY times.

    always with the same, inevitable conclusion:

    It’s a bunch of mental masturbation.

    she might be jumping the gun a bit in YOUR case, but not by much I’d suspect.

    The argument that the Universe seems to anticipate “us” also can’t be dismissed out of hand

    That is irrelevant as to whether a “consciousness” is involved though, and I think the exasperation expressed by many (including SC, and myself for that matter) who enter into this discussion time and again is that fine tuners tend to not realize this (not saying that is the case with you), and it becomes tedious to the extreme to have to argue the point over and over again.

    just like John says above:

    Anyway, the advantage of multiverse hypotheses over deism is that at least some such may be in principle testable.
    Greater parsimony is not the only criterion; possible testability is another.

    without testability, it’s all mental masturbation, and there are many who find that deists like to plant their “god” into that gap.

  419. #420 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion,

    “There are only two known hypotheses that can immediately account for fine-tuning, one of which is some sort of deism. The other (the multiverse) some would say is just as extravagant.”

    And deism may actually be subsumed within the multiverse hypothesis. The “creator” of the current fine tuned universe may actually be a being as finite, albeit probably more experienced than ourselves. Hopefully the deists won’t be so pigheaded as to reject him, just because he is physically unimpressive and probably unattractive to any of our sexes. Who is to say we might not be able to create new verses with some modicum of control (or destruction?) within a few centuries or millenia. It probably won’t be quite as easy as the capability to intelligently design new life, but time is on our side, as a species, if not as individuals. Where there is an absence of evidence, the possibilities are less circumscribed.

  420. #421 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Well, I just looked at a list of unofficial tenets of modern deism on a deist website. They still believe such things as “all men and women are created equal”. In other words, their God isn’t one that entirely keeps out of human affairs. I can’t condone this, of course. It’s palpably rubbish. Neither the philosophy of mind nor modern physics lend it any support whatsoever.

    A more serious case can be made for the idea of an impersonal intelligence that designed the observable universe. Maybe it isn’t a single entity, but a technical team from some inconceivably advanced alien civilization.

    Now people who don’t know much about physics can’t understand the sense in these seemingly wildly extravagant pipe fantasies. The reason physicists do it is that there are very serious and confusing, fundamental problems in science, which cry out for grand solutions.

  421. #422 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    without testability, it’s all mental masturbation, and there are many who find that deists like to plant their “god” into that gap.

    Read some books on modern physics, because you don’t have a clue. Many theorists are not discouraged by the fact that they cannot touch and or bounce particles off the entities they postulate. What’s important is whether or not a theory works. It’s perfectly conceivable that a good case could be made for some designing intelligence, purely from the theories.

    If you’re skeptical, consider that some string theorists believe they have evidence of the existence of other universes (among other things), even though their subject hasn’t made any testable predictions. But maybe you write write off string theory too as abject “mental masturbation”.

  422. #423 Wowbagger, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Africangenesis wrote:

    Hopefully the deists won’t be so pigheaded as to reject him, just because he is physically unimpressive and probably unattractive to any of our sexes.

    I think that’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever read.

  423. #424 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    Interesting link Therion, but it seems a little idiosyncratic – and self-admittedly unofficial.

    The list also seems self-contradictory, but hey, it’s a whole lot better than the 10 Commandments as a basis.

    I note in passing that it also contradicts parts of my literal #177, but it nonetheless supports the sentiments I expressed therein, especially in regards to morality.

  424. #425 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Hopefully the deists won’t be so pigheaded as to reject him, just because he is physically unimpressive and probably unattractive to any of our sexes.

    Yes, I agree with that characterization. We are, after all, talking about the Spider-faced Turd People from Planet X.

  425. #426 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion#421,

    Let’s not grant that moderndeism site with much authority. It doesn’t have many references, and only the Thomas Paine document dates to the time of the founders. Adorning deism with all those tenets would seem to edge it towards a religion, rather than just a belief about what might fill the gaps in our knowledge. The site doesn’t provide documentary evidence about who among those that self identify or give credence to deism, actually subscribe to which tenets.

  426. #427 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Therion:

    Many physicists believe there’s fine-tuning, and they have some good points. There are only two known hypotheses that can immediately account for fine-tuning, one of which is some sort of deism. The other (the multiverse) some would say is just as extravagant.

    No, there are at least 4, and that’s just what I’ve picked up with my layman’s knowledge.

    In addition to the two you’ve mentioned, hypotheses 3 is that the variables that make up the cosmologic constant probably aren’t as independent as we think. As such, the ranges of valid values may not be as big as we think, making chance more likely. There may also be more than one set of valid values that produces a viable universe, also making chance more likely.

    Hypotheses 4 is that there aren’t as many variables to be tuned. It’s possible that as we establish a theory of everything we will determine how to express some of the variables as a function of the others – thus reducing the number of variables required to be tuned. Some string theory proposals do this, for example. Once again, this makes chance more probable by reducing the fine tuning.

    Of course, random chance is still a valid answer. The probability of an event which has already occurred is 1, and the weak anthropomorphic theory applies. This isn’t very satisfying as answer, but it is legit.

    Finally – hypotheses 2 (multiverse) comes in lots of flavours. One of my favourites is that universes “breed” (possibly via black holes) and the characteristics of a “parent” universe are passed down to some degree to the “children” universes. As a result, universes that are more likely to produce “children” universes will dominate the multiverse, and it so happens that universe tuned like ours represent one such local optima – reasonable number of black holes that live for a long time. I find this one elegant because it applies evolution to the multiverse, and we already know that evolution can explain complexity arising out of simplicity. This means that the original parent universes may have been extremely simple things indeed. Of course, this is just mental speculation, not science, but it’s consistent with the real world and doesn’t require any voodoo such as a creator diety.

  427. #428 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    Read some books on modern physics, because you don’t have a clue.

    why do i feel like saying something really childish right now, like:

    he who smelt it, dealt it.

    Frankly, you haven’t a clue how much physics I have studied or read, and I suspect that based on your repetition of this phrase, and the defensive usage of it, you yourself are not actually well studied in the field; as much as you would like us to think you are.

    What’s important is whether or not a theory works.

    and how would you know if a “theory” (you mean hypothesis, right?) “works” or not, bright boy?

    Go on, tell me.

    On second thought, don’t. I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but fuck me, I’m sick of you armchair physicists.

    The reason physicists do it is that there are very serious and confusing, fundamental problems in science, which cry out for grand solutions.

    what a wanker.

    guess what, genius?

    problems to be solved of a “fundamental” nature exist in all branches of science. For example, in my own field, while I personally consider the matter resolved to satisfaction, there are a number of biologists who still consider the level of selection issue in evolutionary theory to be one of monumental significance.

    It’s really not, though.

    you can wax philosophical all you like, and so will Dawkins, and so has Gould…

    In the end, though, the only real way to determine what hypothesis is supported is to test it, directly or indirectly.

    the concept of fine tuning is no more “deep” than punctuated equilibrium was in Gould’s day, regardless of whether philosophy students wish to make it so.

  428. #429 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    In addition to the two you’ve mentioned, hypotheses 3 is that the variables that make up the cosmologic constant probably aren’t as independent as we think.

    If that’s the case, then we don’t have improbable constants and therefore don’t no fine-tuning.

    Hypotheses 4 is that there aren’t as many variables to be tuned.

    Again, that’s simply an argument against improbable constants, i.e. against fine-tuning. I was assuming that fine-tuning holds. I know lots of people contest it, and I admitted as much above.

  429. #430 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    …and therefore don’t no fine-tuning.

    I mean “and thefefore no fine-tuning.

  430. #431 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Yes, but that’s my point, Therion – there are multiple explanations to the apparently tuned nature of the cosmological constant. It’s not just a choice of “God did it”, or “Multiple Universes Branching Down The Trousers Of Time With Every Choice”, which is the false dichotomy you tried to present.

    You can believe in fine tuning; as you point out, you’ll be in good company. But it’s not the only answer.

  431. #432 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion,

    “Yes, I agree with that characterization. We are, after all, talking about the Spider-faced Turd People from Planet X.”

    Yes, the feelings of unattractiveness will most likely be mutual, so there should be no rush to offer it our neighbor’s virgin daughters. (in lieu of our own)

  432. #433 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Frankly, you haven’t a clue how much physics I have studied or read, and I suspect that based on your repetition of this phrase, and the defensive usage of it, you yourself are not actually well studied in the field; as much as you would like us to think you are.

    If you don’t get the point that evidence can be theoretical as well as experimental, then you really don’t know much about the physics of the past few decades. I wasn’t being uncharitable; that’s just how it is.

    what a wanker.

    guess what, genius?

    problems to be solved of a “fundamental” nature exist in all branches of science. For example, in my own field, while I personally consider the matter resolved to satisfaction, there are a number of biologists who still consider the level of selection issue in evolutionary theory to be one of monumental significance.

    Anyone who equates “fundamental” with “monumental” when the discussion is about “fundamental physics” really doesn’t have a clue. You have proven yourself an ignoramus. I suggest you go read some books.

  433. #434 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    Therion:

    … But maybe you write write off string theory too as abject “mental masturbation”.

    Surely you’re not making an analogy between string theory and Deism!

    Deism is just intuitive supposition – tarted-up animism; an not comparable to theoretical physics.

  434. #435 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *moves back into area of operations*
    *surveys the damage*
    *decides that it’s a very good thing that the patrol base was a couple klicks away and out of cluster bomb range*
    *resumes hunting*

  435. #436 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    If you don’t get the point that evidence can be theoretical as well as experimental

    if you don’t get what “theoretical” actually means…

    oh wait, you don’t.

    nuff said.

  436. #437 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    Anyone who equates “fundamental” with “monumental”

    …and anyone who mistakes “theory” for “hypothesis” knows shit all about science.

    like I said, your nothing but an armchair physicist wannabe.

    fuck “reading books”, go back to school, eh?

  437. #438 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Mental masturbation analogy for Therion and John Morales:

    Deism is to String Theory what using your right hand (dry) is to using the Orgasmatron3000 chair with all the bells and whistles (not to mention whips, feathers, and fireworks).

    Both gets you where you’re going, but the second way takes longer, is more satisfying, and requires specialised training…

  438. #439 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    …and anyone who mistakes “theory” for “hypothesis” knows shit all about science.

    This, of course, is outright fabrication. I just searched for all instances of “theory”. There is nothing I said which could possibly be construed as mistaking “theory” for “hypothesis”.

    like I said, your nothing but an armchair physicist wannabe.

    I base my claims of ignorance on lack of knowledge you’ve conspicuously demonstrated in this very thread. Your charges, however, are unsupported, and plucked straight from thin air.

  439. #440 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    Heh, anyone who doesn’t concede that breakthroughs in the fundamentals of any scientific discipline are of monumental significance is either extremely jaded or in denial.

    Therion, remember the edifice stands on the fundament – when the fundament shifts, it shakes the entire structure.

  440. #441 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Surely you’re not making an analogy between string theory and Deism!

    No. Look, it’s perfectly simple. My point was that in principle, deism could be shown plausible without any direct empirical data, purely based on deductions from present theories (which themselves are based on empirical data). Some string theorists believe they’ve discovered evidence of the existence of things beyond the scope of all conceivable experiments. There’s no reason why other theories couldn’t also achieve this. I’m not saying there’s any corresponding theory for deism. In principle, though, there could be. Therefore I reject the assertion that any theorizing that’s not “testable” is “mental masturbation”.

  441. #442 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    Therion:

    Therefore I reject the assertion that any theorizing that’s not “testable” is “mental masturbation”.

    Terminology is important.

    Regarding any putatively explanatory claim:
    If it’s not testable, it’s not a theory but a conjecture.
    If it’s testable in principle or yet to be tested, it’s a hypothesis.
    If it’s been tested and is yet to be falsified, it’s a theory.

    My point was that in principle, deism could be shown plausible without any direct empirical data, purely based on deductions from present theories (which themselves are based on empirical data).

    As to plausibility, by definition any non-self-contradictory conjecture that can’t be falsified is, to a greater or lesser degree, plausible (Sometimes the term is pejorative; note in particular senses 3,4 & 5) of that definition.

  442. #443 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    My point was that in principle, deism could be shown plausible without any direct empirical data, purely based on deductions from present theories (which themselves are based on empirical data)

    Yes, but the lack of a creator can also be shown plausible.

    Some string theorists believe they’ve discovered evidence of the existence of things beyond the scope of all conceivable experiments

    Not quite. String theorists are developing theories which correctly describe known facts, and which are testable but which are not practical to test at this time. The first part works because string theory tends to be mathematically equivalent, in simpler cases, to modern theories – in much the same way that Newton’s Theory of Gravity can be shown to be a special case of Eintsein’s version.

    The difference is that the string theorists aren’t running around saying that their models are true. In fact, they’re trying really hard to disprove them. In particular, when the LHC gets fired up again, one of the interesting experiments will be to see which of two competing string theories are wrong (with the possibility that both are wrong).

    Deism doesn’t provide any way to disprove itself, practical or otherwise. This means it doesn’t get the same level of respect as string theory.

  443. #444 John Morales
    April 19, 2009

    RobertDW @443, you’ve covered points I thought about including but was too lazy to do so; good to see, though, because your independent concurrence is a vindication to my ego.

  444. #445 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    There is nothing I said which could possibly be construed as mistaking “theory” for “hypothesis”.

    from your post at 422:

    What’s important is whether or not a theory works.

    unlike yourself, I actually AM a practicing scientist, and DO care when wankers like yourself pretend to be.

  445. #446 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Therefore I reject the assertion that any theorizing that’s not “testable” is “mental masturbation”.

    Please show me where the technical literature supports your claim of a theory that isn’t testable.

    John wrote:

    Terminology is important.

    Regarding any putatively explanatory claim:
    If it’s not testable, it’s not a theory but a conjecture.
    If it’s testable in principle or yet to be tested, it’s a hypothesis.
    If it’s been tested and is yet to be falsified, it’s a theory.

    Terminology is important. Heck, if we’re talking about science, then terminology is critical. Please pay careful attention to John’s word usage here. Note his choice of explanatory claim. Not all hypotheses are explanatory claims. They don’t have to be; they can simply be descriptive. John is only talking about those that are explanatory. Those that are not explanatory do not become infant theories upon failing to be falsified. They are, for the time being, supported hypotheses.

  446. #447 windy
    April 19, 2009

    No. Look, it’s perfectly simple. My point was that in principle, deism could be shown plausible without any direct empirical data, purely based on deductions from present theories

    Which present theory implies that it’s plausible that some sort of mind and intelligence could exist independently from a universe?

  447. #448 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    If it’s not testable, it’s not a theory but a conjecture.

    I don’t like using this sense of “conjecture” in connection with physics, because it’s too similar to the mathematical version of conjecture.

    Not quite. String theorists are developing theories which correctly describe known facts, and which are testable but which are not practical to test at this time. The first part works because string theory tends to be mathematically equivalent, in simpler cases, to modern theories – in much the same way that Newton’s Theory of Gravity can be shown to be a special case of Eintsein’s version.

    That’s not what I was talking about. The existence of other universes, which some people say follows from string theory, can’t be confirmed directly by experiment. We can’t even imagine how that could be done. We can of course test the notions on which the theory depends, as I mentioned above. Obviously you need to feed in some data at some point in the theoretical line of argument.

    Deism doesn’t provide any way to disprove itself, practical or otherwise. This means it doesn’t get the same level of respect as string theory.

    Well OF COURSE it doesn’t merit the same level of respect as string theory. Why don’t people actually read my posts before they deliever these tiresome harangues? My point was that IN PRINCIPLE there could be a case for some kind of watered-down deism. A theorist somewhere might have a good case for some version of deism. Even if it is wrong, it might raise instructive theoretical points. I’m not going to reject this straight away as “mental masturbation”.

  448. #450 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    unlike yourself, I actually AM a practicing scientist, and DO care when wankers like yourself pretend to be.

    You don’t have a clue what my occupation is, so shut the fuck up.

  449. #451 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    You don’t have a clue what my occupation is, so shut the fuck up.

    oh, now you’ve gone and dun vexed me.

    put up or shut up.

    I can list a publication of mine.

    “A Test of the Function of Juvenile Color Patterns in the Pomacentrid Fish, Hyspypops Rubicundus” Pac. Sci 47:3.

    you?

    thought not.

    My point was that IN PRINCIPLE there could be a case for some kind of watered-down deism.

    and you have utterly, utterly failed to explain how this would be so.

  450. #452 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    it might raise instructive theoretical points.

    …and we see through your wishful thinking.

    thanks for playing, though.

  451. #453 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “unlike yourself, I actually AM a practicing scientist, and DO care when wankers like yourself pretend to be.”

    No you aren’t. You are an avatar. You are only able to use argument from your own authority, if you use your real identity, or if, overtime, you have established a reputation for being a reliable source of information and being able to back up your claims.

    The reputation of your avatar is not that of a scientist but of making snarky, vulgar, pompous, dismissive, unsubstantiated comments. You are not pretending to be a scientist well.

  452. #454 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    oh, now you’ve gone and dun vexed me.

    put up or shut up.

    Haven’t published anything yet and am working on my PhD. I still know enough to competently discuss the topics I raised. I made no claims to personal authority, so my qualifications shouldn’t be relevant.
    Not that I have any interesting in divulging personal details on this blog, in any event. Your pathetic attempt at dick-waving doesn’t impress me, sorry.

    No you aren’t. You are an avatar. You are only able to use argument from your own authority, if you use your real identity, or if, overtime, you have established a reputation for being a reliable source of information and being able to back up your claims.

    Thanks, Africangenesis, you said it better than I could.

  453. #455 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    What, are you afraid your posts don’t hold up to scrutiny? If not, I can’t understand this needless aggression. There’s no “misrepresentation” on my part. My point, clearly, is that they are brilliant men, who know far more science than you, and are not to be trifled with.

    You’re creepy. (Are you suggesting that Einstein will return from the dead and vaporize me? The picture of him on my bookshelf is looking a lot more menacing now…)

    You didn’t call anyone an idiot,

    If you acknowledge this, you should apologize for implying that I did.

    but you apparently think you can wave aside people Wheeler and Dyson with belittling words like like “stupid”, “ridiculous”.

    I’ve made what I think perfectly clear. Fuck off.

    That is just arrogant, in my opinion.

    You know what’s arrogant? Fine-tuning arguments! You haven’t responded to my or Sastra’s points about this above, but the fact that life has arisen through what appear contingent processes anywhere in an otherwise profoundly inhospitable universe (as Neil deGrasse Tyson describes entertainingly) is not evidence that the universe is finely tuned for its/our existence. The evidence points in the opposite direction. This idea is more arrogant than it would be for the bacteria beneath the glacier in Antarctica to seek to account for the earth in terms of its making it possible for them, specifically, to exist. There are major questions about the formation of the cosmos, but we don’t occupy an important place in it – spatially, temporally, or in any other way – that requires some grand explanation. Get over yourself. It’s ridiculous.

    Thousands of physicists, including sober-minded atheist physicists like Leonard Susskind and Steven Weinberg, would disagree completely.

    Do you have anything to say that isn’t an argument from authority? It’s boring and sad. And I believe cosmologists are overwhelmingly atheists, so you’re not going to get very far even with the fallacious arguments.

    Many deists don’t even talk about “god”,

    Presumably they have to talk about a deity to be deists.

    but instead a Turing machine. Modern deism is a fairly respectable attempt to reduce one mystery (the origin of the Universe) to a mystery which seems smaller and easier to digest (a Turing machine on which this Universe is “running”).

    My reading of Dyson, limited though it may be, suggests that he is very much about attempting to rescue the concept of a deity, and religion more broadly. Situate his writings within the broader history of deism.

    Many physicists believe there’s fine-tuning, and they have some good points.

    Not about this alleged “fine tuning,” they don’t.

    There are only two known hypotheses that can immediately account for fine-tuning,

    Which you have not demonstrated to be a scientific problem. We may like to think we’re important, that anything useful or necessary to us was produced with us in mind, and that is what religions have done, but that doesn’t make it reasonable or scientific to do so.

    one of which is some sort of deism. The other (the multiverse) some would say is just as extravagant.

    As I understand it, the various multiverse hypotheses have grown out of the mathematics. They were not developed to respond to the nonproblem of fine tuning. There is no need for this, since it has not been demonstrated to be a scientific problem. Why is there no fine-tuning argument about the existence of dark matter?

    My money is on the multiverse,

    Yeah, like anyone cares.

    which anyway suggests itself in different forms through string theory and foundations of quantum mechanics.

    Every time a discussion arises along these lines, I link to the James Gates talk in which he, as he frequently does, makes it perfectly clear that these ideas are built on the math but still have no evidentiary support, which would only come from experimental physics.

    Answer me honestly: Did you post here previously using the moniker “J”?

  454. #456 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Therion@453:

    Haven’t published anything yet and am working on my PhD

    Not to diss you or anything (this time) Therion, but out of genuine curiosity:

    What in, and why haven’t you published?

    I’m not an academic, nor am I likely to go back to study for my doctorate – in my field (computer programming) there is a sufficient disconnect between the academic world and industry that there wouldn’t be much benefit for me (and there’s a lot of learning I can do without it). OTH, I’ve known 4 people go for their doctorates – 2 in comp. sci, 1 in physics, and 1 in history. All of them were submitting papers for publication in the first year of their doctoral program, and all of them had been published by midway through the second.

    I don’t know – maybe this is because post grad students in Australia are all subsidised by the Government, and are expected to publish before they get their thesis. I don’t know the culture in the US in this regards.

    So: what are you studying that doesn’t expect publication before your doctorate?

  455. #457 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Yawn, more mental masturbation, no evidence. Just like Eric.

  456. #458 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion#453,

    He has sustantiated his basis to argue from authority in a certain area, by revealing his identity. Although, since what is at issue is pedantic usage of certain terminology related to science, perhaps the appropriate authority should be in the area of philosophy of science, and even then, those of us on this forum, would have to decide whether we want to argue adopt the pedantic definitions or argue about them or just use the vernacular. I would argue for using the pedantic definitions where they help clarify the issues.

    However, in this case, they appear to be being used as part of a “you are stupid for not using the pedantic definitions” ad hominem attack.

  457. #459 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    I don’t know the culture in the US in this regards.

    It’s basically the same culture in the US, and the competition/pressure/whateveryouwannacallit is “worse” now than ever. In the geosciences, if you don’t have five or six solid articles under your belt (at least in press) by the time you defend, then you’re not going to really be competitive in terms of securing a cool job (keeping in mind that we don’t rely nearly as heavily on post-docs as some other disciplines do). And if you haven’t published at least a couple by that time, well then it’s pretty much thank you for playing. But this is for academia; industry is a little different.

  458. #460 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    You are only able to use argument from your own authority,

    you mean, the authority that comes with actually doing science, instead of being a wanker, like you?

    hey this is fun.

    Do you rely on your own authority when making your arguments? do you actually have qualification to do so? If you don’t rely on your own authority on a subject, then that would imply you haven’t really learned anything about it, right?

    overtime, you have established a reputation for being a reliable source of information and being able to back up your claims.

    I’ll quotemine that as being more accurate in that form. Just because I constantly attack your limited knowledge of your preferred subject, hardly reflects on what I have contributed here over the last several years. You tend to ignore things that don’t have to do with you personally, which of course is why you haven’t the slightest clue what ANYONE here contributes, or even can contribute, and is one of the reasons you were nominated for the “survivor” game.

    bottom line, you haven’t got a fucking clue what you’re talking about most of the time you go off, and it never seems to be the case that you even notice, despite MANY repeated corrections to much of your misinformed libertarian screeds.

    Haven’t published anything yet and am working on my PhD.

    good.

    what does your major prof suggest about the fudamental nature of deism?

    assuming you’re studying physics and not philosophy, of course.

    here’s the bottom line, it doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are, you’re still arguing a position that is untenable, and frankly naive given you are a grad student, and while you pretend to have the support of physics “luminaries” you yourself have done little more than use them as an authority figures (suggesting we can’t simply “handwaive” them away), which is why I’m having so much fun playing this little game with you.

    You haven’t established the veracity of your primary premise whatsoever.

    as to dismissing the opinions of others in the field, it’s really a common thing in science.

    nothing and no-one is sacred. I’m more than happy to praise Francis Collins work on the human genome project, and thumb my nose at his attempts to explain humans as special creations because of his concept of “Moral Law”.

    The first lesson to learn when and if you do publish is that even your own work will be subject to attack, regardless of what school you graduated from, or what grants you received, or what journal you published in.

    Just because deGrasse Tyson has an opinion, doesn’t mean it is sacrosanct.

    Now then, you wankers can play tag-team if you like.

    more fun for me.

    However, it’s quite late here on the bottom side of the world (12:30). I’ll have to catch up with your wonderful insights tomorrow afternoon (my time).

    @Therion:

    seriously, though, ask your major prof what he would think of you exploring the “hypothesis” (and I do use the term loosely) of deism wrt to any specific observation within cosmology.

    I’m sure he/she will get a kick out of that one.

  459. #461 Wowbagger, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Africangenesis wrote:

    The reputation of your avatar is not that of a scientist but of making snarky, vulgar, pompous, dismissive, unsubstantiated comments. You are not pretending to be a scientist well.

    What a crock of fucking shit. His demeanour has absolutely zero to do with his bearing as a scientist, which related directly to the issue at hand – the practice of science.

  460. #462 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    My point was that IN PRINCIPLE there could be a case for some kind of watered-down deism. A theorist somewhere might have a good case for some version of deism. Even if it is wrong, it might raise instructive theoretical points.

    Well, there’s some weak tea for ya.

  461. #463 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    His demeanour has absolutely zero to do with his bearing as a scientist

    especially on a blog, ffs.

    oh, that I could be as polite as Dawkins is.

    simply not possible.

  462. #464 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    damn, this has been a fucking great roller coaster of a thread!

    while the flame wars got it going, the comic interludes of puns and 70′s music wars really made it for me.

    and now being tag-teamed?

    *sigh*

    only wish I didn’t have to sleep.

    ‘nite

  463. #465 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    So: what are you studying that doesn’t expect publication before your doctorate?

    Physics, and no, it’s not universal to publish in the first year. Thoroughly depends on how much leeway your supervisors give you. There are even people who don’t publish anything until their doctoral thesis. Personally, I dislike this whole “paper count” dick-measuring obsession. It forces people to churn out “safe” papers of only superficial value.

    Once again, I’m not going to give out personal details. I’ve been burned badly doing that in the past. I’ve made no claims to any special expertise, so none of this should be relevant.

  464. #466 SAWells
    April 19, 2009

    Hang on, can’t _everyone_ agree that it is in principle possible for an undetectable entity with no influence on the universe to exist? I mean, by definition? I don’t see how that makes it reasonable to posit one and claim it ever did anything that affects us, e.g. set universal constants.

    Someday, somebody needs to explain the link between “if the universal constants were slightly different we wouldn’t exist” and “the universal constants were fine tuned to allow us to exist”. Try as I may I can’t actually see the logic there; it’s an emotional demand to be the centre of the universe. What are we, toddlers?

  465. #467 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    seriously, though, ask your major prof what he would think of you exploring the “hypothesis” (and I do use the term loosely) of deism wrt to any specific observation within cosmology.

    I’m sure he/she will get a kick out of that one.

    What? Lots of eminent physicists take this very seriously. Surprisingly seriously. I’m not going to bother with it, as it will probably be a waste of time. But if someone else has a coherent theory, I’ll be interested in what they have to say.

  466. #468 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Coherent theory, god doesn’t exist. And attempting to create one is not science, and is bad philosophy.

  467. #469 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Lots of eminent physicists take this [deism] very seriously

    While I do agree with you on this, Therion, I’m not sure how many of them are cosmologists. Dunno if that’s your branch of physics, but still…

    (Oh, and I agree with you about the “push to publish” drive producing papers with relatively little new in them; it is a problem)

  468. #470 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Personally, I dislike this whole “paper count” dick-measuring obsession. It forces people to churn out “safe” papers of only superficial value.

    I agree with Therion 100% on this opinion. Whereas I’d be disinclined to hire someone who hadn’t published anything*, it’s definitely accurate that by itself, a long CV does not a spectacular scientist make.

    *Because you don’t really begin to understand science until you do it, and in the modern world, a big piece of doing it is the communication of the results.

  469. #471 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion#466,

    I once attended a talk by Heisenberg where he got mystical about the implications of quantum mechanics. He had this eye looking back at the universe slide and argued for an important role of consciousness in maintaining the universe. I think his argument was something like “if no one observes a universe, does it really exist”. I’m sure he was still quite intelligent despite his advanced age, but …

  470. #472 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    SAWells @465:

    “if the universal constants were slightly different we wouldn’t exist” and “the universal constants were fine tuned to allow us to exist”

    The problem is that the universal constants seem to be almost (but not quite) perfect for the sort of universe that allows humans in it. And they could be any value – nobody* can explain why, for example, the speed of light in a vacuum isn’t 56 miles/hour (which would be a lot safer for highway driving and make cross-continental roadtrips go a lot faster).

    It could just be chance. Chance is even the correct “null hypothesis”. But scientists don’t like “random chance” as an explanation, and if they’re going to accept it, they’re going to push it really hard first.

    As I mentioned earlier, there’s actually a lot of theories going around which explain why fine-tuning would result. None of the scientific theories, however, are based on the cosmic equivalent of a hand tuning a dial.

    * Well, when I say nobody – I’m just making this up. But if someone does now why the speed of light is what it is, please let me know. :)

  471. #473 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “Do you rely on your own authority when making your arguments? do you actually have qualification to do so? If you don’t rely on your own authority on a subject, then that would imply you haven’t really learned anything about it, right?”

    No I don’t rely on my own authority, and seldom expect others to accept it, except I guess it is implicitly cited when I reveal personal experiences such as the attendence the Heisenberg talk that I just mentioned. I usually can backup anything that is questioned or explain some gap or oversight in my reasoning, or admit I was wrong, or wasn’t being rigorous in specific instances. Recently you haven’t been specific enough to merit a response. I tend to recall concepts rather than people, so perhaps we have had encounters in the past that were more substantial, if so, thank you.

  472. #474 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    What? Lots of eminent physicists take this very seriously. Surprisingly seriously.

    I’m not really all that surprised by this. Many if not all come from cultural contexts in which the idea of a deity is pervasive. And it’s psychologically difficult to let go of many of these ideas. The point is that this, not the scientific evidence, is the source of the persistence of these ideas.

    The problem is that the universal constants seem to be almost (but not quite) perfect for the sort of universe that allows humans in it.

    And allows everything else in it, in it. But don’t let the facts that we didn’t appear* for billions of years, on one tiny planet, through what appears to be a contingent set of events, or that most of even our own planet is uninhabitable by us and the vast majority of the universe is completely hostile to life, stop you from asserting a “problem” of fine tuning. Way to miss the point.

    *And are doing much to make this appearance a brief one.

  473. #475 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    SC @ 454,

    You’re incapable of having a conversation with me without swearing at me repeatedly, so I’m not going to continue. I have no idea why my tentative defence of deism has provoked so much outrage. Your atheist self-identity really means a lot to you, I guess.

    And no, I am not “J”.

    Africangenesis @ 470,

    I once attended a talk by Heisenberg where he got mystical about the implications of quantum mechanics. He had this eye looking back at the universe slide and argued for an important role of consciousness in maintaining the universe. I think his argument was something like “if no one observes a universe, does it really exist”. I’m sure he was still quite intelligent despite his advanced age, but …

    The Heisenberg? Fascinating. What was he like?

    Yes, the idea you refer to, that without consciousness the universe wouldn’t exist, is held by a number of physicists, including John Archibald Wheeler, who is one of the greatest American physicists of all time. In fact I alluded to this idea above. I don’t think it’s very plausible, but it suggests itself with spooky naturalness from the formalism of quantum mechanics. The reason, as perhaps you’re aware, is that the “measurement” of an observable quantity is given special priority in the QM formalism.

  474. #476 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Someday, somebody needs to explain the link between “if the universal constants were slightly different we wouldn’t exist” and “the universal constants were fine tuned to allow us to exist”.

    Right now, the universe is in a “golden age” for life. There is a sufficiency of Population I* stars and associated planets with a high enough level of metallicity** to support life. If the universe were one tenth as old as its present age, there would not have been sufficient time to build up appreciable levels of metallicity, especially carbon. If the universe were 10 times older than it actually is, most stars would be too old to remain on the main sequence and would have turned into white and red dwarfs, and stable planetary systems would have already come to an end.

    Because of this and the specific makeup of the universe, the infamous Anthropic Principle was formulated. This principle comes in two flavors:

    The Weak Anthropic Principle: “The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where … life can evolve and by the requirements that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so.” (John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, p 16.

    The Strong Anthropic Principle: “The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history.” (Op cit, p 21.) [Emphasis added]

    Essentially, the difference between the two principles is that the Weak Principle says that life can exist and the Strong Principle says that life must exist. The Weak Principle is based on the tautology “if things were different then things would be different.” The Strong Principle is based on “I exist, the universe revolves around me, therefore I am the purpose of the universe.”

    *For purely historical reasons, older stars are Population II and younger stars are Population I. For theoretical reasons, some cosmologists think there may have been even older Population III stars.

    **The metallicity of an astronomical object is the proportion of its matter made up of elements other than hydrogen and helium.

  475. #477 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    You’re incapable of having a conversation with me without swearing at me repeatedly,

    I’m perfectly capable of doing so. I choose not to, asshole.

    so I’m not going to continue.

    However will I deal with the disappointment?

    I have no idea why my tentative defence of deism

    You’ve presented no such defense, tentative or otherwise. You’ve offered only evidence that you have a hard-on for smart men.

    has provoked so much outrage. Your atheist self-identity really means a lot to you, I guess.

    What a fool. I’ve said very clearly that I was angered by your repeated implication that I had called Dyson or others idiots, which you refused to correct and for which you failed to apologize.

  476. #478 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    SC, first: I don’t believe in fine-tuning.

    Second:

    But don’t let the facts that we didn’t appear* for billions of years, on one tiny planet,

    Well, any universe with humans in it, created from a Big Bang, is going to be pretty old. We need Generation I and II stars to go through their lifecycle to produce the heavier elements. Then once the elements are in place, the world has to be made, life has to emerge, and then it has to evolve to us. That takes time. :)

    Of course it’s going to be on one tiny planet… the chance of humans evolving separately on multiple planets would be insane. OTH, if we wanted to, humans could easily spread out through this galaxy in the next 100 million years. In a couple of billion years, we could easily spread out through most of the neighbouring galaxies. Give us 20 billion, and who knows? Remember: if there was a cosmic plan to create a universe for a single species to own, it would go through a point where that species is confined to one planet, trying to figure out where they are going as a species.

    (We can do this and I think we will do it – consider that healthy & active lifespans pushing 200+ seem to likely within the next couple of centuries; space journeys of 40-50 years or more won’t be that unimaginable)

    Not that I believe this at all; I don’t. But frankly any universe with something like humans in it isn’t going to be much younger than the really old universe we are already in, unless it has radically different physics to what we have.

    (Also, why do you assume that the purpose of a universe that is almost, but not quite, perfect for humans is to have humans in it? Maybe there is another intelligent species 20 galaxies over and the fine-tuning of the universe is exactly perfect for them; we could just be an unfortunate side-effect in the system)

  477. #479 Africangenesis
    April 19, 2009

    Therion#474,

    I don’t have much information from attending one talk, but Heisenberg was elderly, soft-spoken, self-deprecating, patient with questions, and was genuinely enthusiastic about the implications of this insight he was sharing. I got the impression of that he was searching for some meaning at this stage of his life. This insight seemed to be more than a hypothesis to him.

    I recall that there were also some protesters questioning his activities during WWII. Looking at his bio, he died in 1976. I would have heard him in ’73 or ’74

  478. #480 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009
    You’re incapable of having a conversation with me without swearing at me repeatedly,

    I’m perfectly capable of doing so. I choose not to, asshole.

    SC for the win.

  479. #481 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Generation I and II

    I meant ‘Population III’ and ‘Population II’ stars, but couldn’t remember the right term – thanks, ‘Tis Himself, for posting a good explanation of the idea I was trying to put across as well.

  480. #482 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    What a fool. I’ve said very clearly that I was angered by your repeated implication that I had called Dyson or others idiots, which you refused to correct and for which you failed to apologize.

    I implied no such thing. You were writing them off, taking them lightly, despite their extensive qualifications in the relevant domain. When someone does that, it is quite natural to say, “These guys are no idiots.” or similar. Therefore you’ll get no apology from me.

    Now enough of this bullshit. It should be apparent that you’re kicking up a fuss over trifles, probably because you’re bored as a result of the shortage of trolls.

  481. #483 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Africangenesis @ 478,

    Thank you for that. I always like to hear what I can about the great scientists.

  482. #484 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    SC, first: I don’t believe in fine-tuning.

    Then your response to SAWells @ #471 is just bizarre. With whom are you arguing? I think you’re confused.

    Of course it’s going to be on one tiny planet… the chance of humans evolving separately on multiple planets would be insane.

    Not if the universe were really finely-tuned for them. A lot of things are not confined to one small part of the universe.

    …In a couple of billion years, we could easily spread out through most of the neighbouring galaxies. Give us 20 billion, and who knows? Remember: if there was a cosmic plan to create a universe for a single species to own, it would go through a point where that species is confined to one planet, trying to figure out where they are going as a species.

    Remember? Something you’re just making up?

    Creepy and ridiculous. This is just what I’m talking about – religious beliefs repackaged for the cosmic scale. These sci-fi suppositions have nothing to do with fine-tuning arguments.

    (We can do this and I think we will do it – consider that healthy & active lifespans pushing 200+ seem to likely within the next couple of centuries; space journeys of 40-50 years or more won’t be that unimaginable)

    Oh, really? We’re rapidly destroying the planet that is the sole source of our life for the moment. We’ll be firtunate if we don’t kill ourselves and virtually every other species on earth off within this time frame. But this is all irrelevant.

    Not that I believe this at all; I don’t.

    I’m glad of that.

    But frankly any universe with something like humans in it isn’t going to be much younger than the really old universe we are already in, unless it has radically different physics to what we have.

    So?

    (Also, why do you assume that the purpose of a universe that is almost, but not quite, perfect for humans is to have humans in it?

    I’m not assuming that. The fine-tuning arguments based on one version of the SAP assume that. That’s the problem. Sheesh.

    Maybe there is another intelligent species 20 galaxies over and the fine-tuning of the universe is exactly perfect for them; we could just be an unfortunate side-effect in the system)

    Of course this is possible. You’re misunderstanding what I’m arguing.

    thanks, ‘Tis Himself, for posting a good explanation of the idea I was trying to put across as well

    WTF? How were you saying the same thing? If you were simply trying to point out that there exists a WAP, we know that. It’s, as ‘Tis Himself notes, a tautology, and doesn’t require any elaborate wanky explanatory frameworks of the sort that we’re discussing.

  483. #485 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    implied no such thing. You were writing them off, taking them lightly, despite their extensive qualifications in the relevant domain. When someone does that, it is quite natural to say, “These guys are no idiots.” or similar. Therefore you’ll get no apology from me.

    It’s only natural if you’re an asshole who refuses to acknowledge, even when it’s pointed out to him repeatedly, that it’s possible for brilliant people to have ideas on a variety of subjects that lack a scientific basis and are silly or ridiculous.

    Now enough of this bullshit. It should be apparent that you’re kicking up a fuss over trifles,

    Like profanity?

    probably because you’re bored as a result of the shortage of trolls.

    Actually, this thread has been very entertaining, your comments aside. Some trolls are more amusing than this recent batch of pompous grad students, though, it’s true.

  484. #486 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    a universe that is almost, but not quite, perfect for humans

    Yes, except that conditions in the vast majority of it would kill us instantly, it’s just perfect for us.

  485. #487 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 19, 2009

    a universe that is almost, but not quite, perfect for humans

    Guillermo, is that you? Or is it Alvin?

  486. #488 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Yes, except that conditions in the vast majority of it would kill us instantly, it’s just perfect for us.

    Without technological support conditions on most of the Earth would kill us in a few days. If you were dropped in the ocean a few km from the nearest land then you would be dead within a day. Even sooner if you were dropped in a cold current.

  487. #489 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    …a universe planet where a percentage of the land mass that is almost, but not quite, perfect for humans…

  488. #490 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Nice to see you’re all still being knotty.

  489. #491 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    These intuitive arguments concerning the imperfection of the universe don’t really achieve anything substantial. I estimate that about 10 to the -11 of a percent of the observable universe is life-friendly. But maybe that’s superb for a typical logically possible universe. For example, it’s very difficult to see how more than 0% of a universe operating by Newtonian mechanics could be life-friendly.

    It’s impossible to know how “good” our universe is in the sea of possible universes, unless you actually do the analysis. Some physicists who have conclude that our universe is surprisingly well-suited to life.

  490. No Mill nor any of his contemporary rationalists, no Huxley, and B.F. Skinner only in a misinformed, derogatory footnote?

    Better luck next time, kids.

  491. #493 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Personally, I see the fine tuning argument as a presupposition argument. You set up conditions that prove a deity by definition. All presupposition arguments are failures, since they are circular. Switch god to Side Show Bob, and the argument is the same.
    People who try presupposition arguments already believe in god, so they need a rationale to “spread the word”. We don’t need your word, as it is false.

  492. #494 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    I estimate that about 10 to the -11 of a percent of the observable universe is life-friendly.

    Whoops! Mistook a diameter as a volume. Caused quite an error. That should be 10 to the -36 of a percent.

  493. #495 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Therion, I want you to try to thrive in the deep ocean by a volcanic trench. Life evolves to fit the conditions, the universe was not designed for any particular species.

  494. #496 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 19, 2009

    Some physicists who have conclude that our universe is surprisingly well-suited to life.

    I guess if you bend the definition of well-suited far enough, sure.

  495. #497 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Whoops! Mistook a diameter as a volume. Caused quite an error. That should be 10 to the -36 of a percent.

    Made another mistake. 10 to the -56 seems far more appropriate. This is annoying, I am used to being able to edit my posts.

  496. #498 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Therion, correcting your math doesn’t change the fact that your real mistake is in presuming god exists. There is no need for a deity anywhere, except between your ears, because of your desire to manufacture one.

  497. #499 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Therion, correcting your math doesn’t change the fact that your real mistake is in presuming god exists. There is no need for a deity anywhere, except between your ears, because of your desire to manufacture one.

    Oh, piss off. I said I’m an atheist. Not my fault you’re too stupid to understand any argument that’s more subtle than vilifying anyone who doesn’t share your position.

  498. #500 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Why Nerd, that looks like an invitation to be gruesome.
    *smiles sweetly*

  499. #501 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    These intuitive arguments concerning the imperfection of the universe don’t really achieve anything substantial.

    These arguments are neither intuitive nor about “imperfection.” The nature of the cosmos as currently understood and the story of the emergence of humans do not provide evidence for a SAP/fine-tuning argument.

    I estimate that about 10 to the -11 of a percent of the observable universe is life-friendly. But maybe that’s superb for a typical logically possible universe.

    And it’s estimated that about 90% of the universe is dark matter – the universe is clearly well suited to its existence. So again, why is there no fine-tuning argument seeking to account for that? The people trying to understand dark matter are, I’d wager, far more likely to develop insights into the formation of the universe than those who out of vanity put carbon-based life (and human life in particular) at the center of their analyses. But you can pick anything that exists or has existed in the universe and view it in these terms. It’s completely arbitrary, and you haven’t justified your selection on any scientific basis (nor could you, because it comes straight from religion).

    For example, it’s very difficult to see how more than 0% of a universe operating by Newtonian mechanics could be life-friendly.

    Yes, if things were different, they would be different. The fct that te more we understand about our universe the less significant and the more incidental we appear to it doesn’t stop people from insisting that we’re central. And apparently no evidence or careful consideration will sway them from this religious view. Anything can be seen as consistent with this idea.

    It’s impossible to know how “good” our universe is in the sea of possible universes, unless you actually do the analysis. Some physicists who have conclude that our universe is surprisingly well-suited to life.

    “Surprisingly well-suited”? Idiotic. We know that adequate conditions exist for carbon-based life somewhere in the universe because it exists, just as adequate conditions exist for any number of things, because they also exist. To go from this to fine tuning for one phenomenon requires an arrogant leap of faith.

  500. #502 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Oh, piss off. I said I’m an atheist. Not my fault you’re too stupid to understand any argument that’s more subtle than vilifying anyone who doesn’t share your position.

    If you are a true atheist, then shut up about your imaginary deistic god. After all, this is an atheist blog. If you keep talking incoherently about your imaginary friend, then you are a godbot. See, logic 101. So, which are you?

  501. #503 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Oh, piss off. I said I’m an atheist.

    Such anger! Such vulgar language! Your atheist self-identity really means a lot to you, I guess.

  502. #504 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    But you can pick anything that exists or has existed in the universe and view it in these terms. It’s completely arbitrary, and you haven’t justified your selection on any scientific basis (nor could you, because it comes straight from religion).

    Straight from religion? So, allegedly atheist physicists like Weinberg and Susskind, who’ve devoted much time and effort to the anthropic principle and don’t think the focus on human life is “arbitrary”, are getting their ideas “straight from religion”.

    Yes, if things were different, they would be different. The fct that te more we understand about our universe the less significant and the more incidental we appear to it doesn’t stop people from insisting that we’re central.

    A highly debatable point. As has been mentioned earlier on this thread, some first-rate physicists believe the very existence of the universe hinges on human consciousness. This ia a conclusion physicists have been fighting since the 1930s, without any distinct success.

    “Surprisingly well-suited”? Idiotic. We know that adequate conditions exist for carbon-based life somewhere in the universe because it exists, just as adequate conditions exist for any number of things, because they also exist. To go from this to fine tuning for one phenomenon requires an arrogant leap of faith.

    Thanks, you’ve proven you haven’t the first fucking clue just what on Earth you’re talking about. You apparently think you can sidestep decades of extremely recondite debate among some of the worlds greatest scientists with a few glib, lazy little slogans.

  503. #505 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    This one looks familiar…but I can’t quite tag him.

  504. #506 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Well Therion just proved himself to be liar, since he continued his flawed godbot argument. He is no atheist. We don’t give a shit what other people think. Argument from authority is irrelevant, as we think for ourselves. Try another forum. You have used up your goodwill here.

  505. #507 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Straight from religion? So, allegedly atheist physicists like Weinberg and Susskind, who’ve devoted much time and effort to the anthropic principle and don’t think the focus on human life is “arbitrary”, are getting their ideas “straight from religion”.

    I’m not going to get into these arguments about the assorted variants of the AP that have nothing to do with deism. Any chosen focus is arbitrary, and can only be justified in terms of the larger question(s) you’re trying to answer. You have to be blind not to recognize the religious origins and continuing relationship; Freeman certainly makes these very clear. (On a much smaller scale, would you seek to understand earth history from a human-centric perspective because we eventually evolved here?)

    A highly debatable point. As has been mentioned earlier on this thread, some first-rate physicists believe the very existence of the universe hinges on human consciousness. This ia a conclusion physicists have been fighting since the 1930s, without any distinct success.

    Please.

    Thanks, you’ve proven you haven’t the first fucking clue just what on Earth you’re talking about. You apparently think you can sidestep decades of extremely recondite debate among some of the worlds greatest scientists with a few glib, lazy little slogans.

    Your entire argument appears to lack substance and to rest on your awe of smart dudes. You’re one of these people who, if someone’s not following your script and arguing in precisely the terms you’ve come to expect, throws a little “respect their autoritah” tantrum.

  506. #508 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Well Therion just proved himself to be liar, since he continued his flawed godbot argument. He is no atheist.

    I argue that (a) quantum mechanics has given us reason to consider whether human consciousness has special priority in the universe, and (b) the notion of fine-tuning mightn’t in fact be dismissible bullshit. This, apparently, makes me a “godbot” who was lying about being an atheist. What a simplistic, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, ignoramus Neanderthal dullard this Nerd of Redhead is.

  507. #509 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    From Wikipedia, by the way (sorry – can’t help myself):

    In a lecture titled “The Confusion of Cause and Effect in Bad Science,” the paleophysicist Caroline Miller said:[51]

    “The Anthropic Principle is based on the underlying belief that the universe was created for our benefit. Unfortunately for its adherents, all of the reality-based evidence at our disposal contradicts this belief. In a nonanthropocentric universe, there is no need for multiple universes or supernatural entities to explain life as we know it.”

    …Steven Jay Gould [55] [56], Michael Shermer[57] and others claim that the Anthropic Principle seems to reverse known causes and effects. Gould compared the claim that the universe is fine-tuned for the benefit of our kind of life to saying that sausages were made long and narrow so that they could fit into modern hotdog buns, or saying that ships had been invented to house barnacles. These critics cite the vast physical, fossil, genetic, and other biological evidence consistent with life having been fine-tuned through natural selection to adapt to the physical and geophysical environment in which life exists. Life appears to have adapted to physics, and not vice versa.

    This includes the evolution of consciousness, of course.

  508. #510 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    Any chosen focus is arbitrary, and can only be justified in terms of the larger question(s) you’re trying to answer. You have to be blind not to recognize the religious origins and continuing relationship; Freeman certainly makes these very clear.

    Lots of people who take seriously the anthropic arguments and fine-tuning aren’t the slightest bit religious. Your notion is clearly preposterous.

    All this stuff about how focusing on human life is “arbitrary” seems to miss the point of the anthropic principle altogether.

    Your entire argument appears to lack substance and to rest on your awe of smart dudes. You’re one of these people who, if someone’s not following your script and arguing in precisely the terms you’ve come to expect, throws a little “respect their autoritah” tantrum.

    Since we’re talking about physics, and since neither of us are qualified as professionals in that area of expertise, it seems legitimate to pass the buck to professional physicists somewhat, yes. I cited not only mystical physicists, but also reputedly sober-minded atheist physicists with no mystical views at all. It is the height of arrogance to assume you don’t need to pay them any attention and can just say whatever you feel like, straight off the top of your head.

  509. #511 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    These critics cite the vast physical, fossil, genetic, and other biological evidence consistent with life having been fine-tuned through natural selection to adapt to the physical and geophysical environment in which life exists. Life appears to have adapted to physics, and not vice versa.

    Not only wrong and ignorant, but hilariously wrong and ignorant. What a schoolboy howler.

  510. #512 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Therion, all your arguments are mental masturbation. There is no connection until the physical evidence is available to scientifically show the connection. I know that, since I have been a working scientist for 30+ years. Your speculation until then is bullshit. We have told you that, and your inability to understand us says something about your lack of intellect. We are bored with your inane speculation. Take it elsewhere.

  511. #513 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Lots of people who take seriously the anthropic arguments and fine-tuning aren’t the slightest bit religious. Your notion is clearly preposterous.

    You really are dense. I never said every person who “takes seriously” the AP in any form is religious. (Gah, it’s like arguing with heddle). The connection to religion (or, in diluted form, simply the arrogance characteristic of it) is obvious.

    All this stuff about how focusing on human life is “arbitrary” seems to miss the point of the anthropic principle altogether.

    Once again, any focus is arbitrary. What we claim needs to be explained should rest on empirical evidence and the questions we seek to answer, and not on assumptions. I want to hear the scientific justification for focusing on the fact that the universe permits in at least one place the formation of carbon-based life in seeking to understand the origins and formation of the cosmos – not that this is nontrivial, but why it’s preferred to a Dark Matter Principle or any other principle derived from or more in keeping with the evidence.

    Since we’re talking about physics, and since neither of us are qualified as professionals in that area of expertise, it seems legitimate to pass the buck to professional physicists somewhat, yes.

    We’re talking about more than physics, and you’re referring to a subset of people. As has been pointed out to you above, scientists, including brilliant ones, can think dumb things that are not really supported by the evidence. It happens all the time. They can also waste a great deal of time on trivialities and dead ends. So the fact that some people who hold an idea are smart, “first-rate,” or whatever fawning adjectives you want to cling to has no bearing on the value of the ideas. You really need to try to separate ideas and arguments from people.

    I cited not only mystical physicists, but also reputedly sober-minded atheist physicists with no mystical views at all.

    So?

    It is the height of arrogance to assume you don’t need to pay them any attention

    How is making arguments about what they’re saying paying them no attention?

    and can just say whatever you feel like, straight off the top of your head.

    Respect their autoritah!

  512. #514 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Second vote for bored.

  513. #515 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    *Thank goodness I found that cache of munitions earlier this morning*

    *Peeks up from trenches*

    *Looks like the local civilians are out and about. I may be able to blend in undetected to get within striking range*

    *Creeps up very very slowly*

    Then….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTkB9kRCU6U

  514. #516 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Not only wrong and ignorant, but hilariously wrong and ignorant. What a schoolboy howler.

    How so? And what is your response to Caroline Miller?

  515. #517 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *rolls out from behind cover*
    *rises to a knee*
    *squeezes off a round and drops back*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rfD8NQLO8w

  516. #518 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    *UGGGH*

    How dare you fire that at us?!
    I can ban you from the spanking couch Bastion.

  517. #519 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    He was aiming for me, Patricia. Sorry if you got some of the WP on you.

  518. #520 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Hummm. Very well, but I am going to keep my eye on his paddle for the rest of the day.

    THAT sort of kack plays hell on my ruby slippers.

  519. #521 Anonymous
    April 19, 2009

    *squeezes off a round and drops back*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rfD8NQLO8w

    What?! You think you can do damage by refiring the ammo used by Ichthyic way back in #375?!

    Ha! My last shot seems to have addled my opponent!!

    Now before he can recover…another crime catapult…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZL_tZxyBDo

  520. #522 Therion
    April 19, 2009

    As has been pointed out to you above, scientists, including brilliant ones, can think dumb things that are not really supported by the evidence. It happens all the time. They can also waste a great deal of time on trivialities and dead ends. So the fact that some people who hold an idea are smart, “first-rate,” or whatever fawning adjectives you want to cling to has no bearing on the value of the ideas. You really need to try to separate ideas and arguments from people.

    You keep going on about this. You’re missing the boat. My point isn’t merely that they’re “brilliant”. I don’t think you understand that by pooh-poohing the anthropic principle you stand against the vast majority of physicists. (And not only physicists, but also, for instance, Richard Dawkins, who has mused about the anthropic principle in at least two of his books.) This doesn’t prove you’re wrong, but it does suggest that you should adopt a more deferential and less cocksure tone. It seems unlikely that all these people have been for years falling foul of some elementary blunder that you can expose in a few haughty sentences. A priori, isn’t it more probable that you’re simply not understanding something properly or are ignorant of a few important details?

    Might respond to the rest of your post later.

  521. #523 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Hey, if you can pick up unspent ammo off the ground, so can I!

  522. #524 Anonymous
    April 19, 2009

    I can ban you from the spanking couch Bastion.

    *gasp*

    Oh, please, please, please…anything but that!

    What can I possibly do to make this up to you?!!

  523. #526 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Therion, we defer to nobody (except for PZ, as this is his blog). What part of that don’t you understand?

  524. #527 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    …it does suggest that you should adopt a more deferential and less cocksure tone…a few haughty sentences…

    Damn, that sexist crap sure sounds familiar.

  525. #528 Anonymous
    April 19, 2009

    Hey, if you can pick up unspent ammo off the ground, so can I!

    Bah! I laugh at your impotent recycled weaponry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-L0NpaErkk

  526. #529 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Bastion – You could go fire at something worth while *cough*troll *cough on the Creationists are liars thread.

  527. #530 AdamK
    April 19, 2009

    Apparently Therion is putting forth the proposition that (s)he, Therion, is incompetent to judge the usefulness of the anthropic principle, since Therion in not a physicist.

    In this, Therion is entirely correct. Therion is not a physicist. Neither is Therion competent, in any respect so far demonstrated.

  528. #531 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Bastion – You could go fire at something worth while *cough*troll *cough on the Creationists are liars thread.


    Thy will be done.

  529. #532 Compositionalist
    April 19, 2009

    I want to hear more about Jodie Foster sandwiches, because this deism subthread has started to get a little boring for me too…. Alas, and I hate terrible music.

    Therion @ #508:
    “(a) quantum mechanics has given us reason to consider whether human consciousness has special priority in the universe, and (b) the notion of fine-tuning mightn’t in fact be dismissible bullshit.”

    Let’s get this straight: I’m only a lowly musician, but I can understand why your (a) argument is either stated very poorly or is utterly garbage. Let me try to explain it simply: photons bouncing off particles into our eyes doesn’t give humans or our consciousness “special priority in the universe”. Every animal species (or almost every one, I assume) can observe with one sense or another, and I’d argue that entails at least a basic form of consciousness. There goes human priority. Your (b) argument seems to have been well-demolished already, and you haven’t been pushing respect for fine-tuning quite so much as deism anyway.

    To reiterate:
    Me: an unemployed agnostic-atheist musician who loves learning about science, bacon, and atheist babies wielding bacon-torches.
    Heisenberg: found some BS compelling.
    Dyson: found some BS compelling.
    Einstein: found some BS compelling.
    Me: still not caring.

  530. #533 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    this deism subthread has started to get a little boring for me too…. Alas, and I hate terrible music.

    What about puns? Or has their already been enough pun-ishment on this thread?

  531. #534 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    A highly debatable point. As has been mentioned earlier on this thread, some first-rate physicists believe the very existence of the universe hinges on human consciousness.

    This has always struck me as the height of hubris. For centuries science kept showing us that we are not the center of the universe. Now some egotistical people are claiming “oh no, humanity is the center.”

    I have no problem with the Weak Anthropic Principle. It’s obvious that the universe is capable of supporting sentient life because we’re here. If the universe was incapable of such support, we wouldn’t be here. It’s like the old joke “If your parents didn’t have any children, chances are good you won’t either.”

    However the Strong Anthropic Principle insists that we must be here. As I said previously, it’s based on the idea that “I’m the most important thing in the universe, the universe revolves around ME, therefore I am the sole reason for the existence of the universe.” Which is so much narcissistic bullshit.

  532. #535 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Here’s one just for Bastion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpE3Fv9W–A

    And one to keep Josh’s head down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG1SVKipKZE

  533. #536 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Then your response to SAWells @ #471 is just bizarre. With whom are you arguing? I think you’re confused.

    I was playing devil’s advocate; it’s something I do a lot. Trying to understand the other person’s point of view.

    SC posted an objection to fine tuning. I pointed out that his objection is irrelevant – a fine tuned universe would look like the one we are in.

    The argument I gave (that a fine tuned universe which allows humans to evolve in it is necessarily going to be old, and will go through a phase with humans on one planet) has been presented by numerous writers as an example of the Anthropic Principle. I may be doing a shitty job of putting it forward.

    In other words: SC put forward a bad argument against Therion’s deism. Without being on Therion’s side, I was trying to point out that his argument was flawed.

  534. #537 RobertDW
    April 19, 2009

    Of course it’s going to be on one tiny planet… the chance of humans evolving separately on multiple planets would be insane.

    Not if the universe were really finely-tuned for them. A lot of things are not confined to one small part of the universe.

    Now you are mis-representing the fine-tuning argument; it’s based on the laws of physics we understand now, and saying that a handful of important constants were adjusted to be “just right”.

    This means that evolution would still be the only way for a species to come about, and evolution will not produce the same species on multiple planets. No matter what level of fine-tuning you imagine. Analogous species, yes. The same, no.

  535. #538 Josh
    April 19, 2009
  536. #539 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Here’s one just for Bastion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpE3Fv9W–A

    You need to resort to 60s era weaponry?! Is that in the rules of engagement?!!

    Surely, you can’t have exhausted your supply of 70s bombs yet. I haven’t. I’ve still got some good stuff in my arsenal.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQB2-Kmiic

  537. #540 Josh
    April 19, 2009
  538. #541 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Josh,

    I see your Helen Reddy, and raise you…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8arLxJMjpA

  539. #542 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Now I’m forced to use a couple of bombs that I’d hoped would remain stored in the bunker:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZuVHQcZlNA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9K4BKkLaCI

  540. #544 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    ‘Tis. I sneer at your http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZuVHQcZlNA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9K4BKkLaCI.

    Now, go ahead, punk, peek. I dare you. [Warning to Patricia. Put on your crocs!!!]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGNdvKvbxYQ

  541. #545 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    *pops*…*pops*…*pops in*
    Ichthyic monk technology is hard!
    Just popped in to add absolutly nothing to this conversation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgkSvIqbWvc

    **poop…*pops out*

  542. #546 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    You keep going on about this. You’re missing the boat. My point isn’t merely that they’re “brilliant”. I don’t think you understand that by pooh-poohing the anthropic principle you stand against the vast majority of physicists. (And not only physicists, but also, for instance, Richard Dawkins, who has mused about the anthropic principle in at least two of his books.)

    I think we need to establish clearly which variant of the AP we’re talking about and what you mean specifically when you use terms like “flirted” or “mused about.”

    This doesn’t prove you’re wrong, but it does suggest that you should adopt a more deferential and less cocksure tone.

    Nah.

    It seems unlikely that all these people have been for years falling foul of some elementary blunder that you can expose in a few haughty sentences.

    Highly unlikely, but it would be totally friggin’ cool.

    Now you are mis-representing the fine-tuning argument; it’s based on the laws of physics we understand now, and saying that a handful of important constants were adjusted to be “just right”.

    This means that evolution would still be the only way for a species to come about, and evolution will not produce the same species on multiple planets. No matter what level of fine-tuning you imagine. Analogous species, yes. The same, no.

    In fact, I think most have retreated from the idea that it’s about humans, and suggested that it’s about “sentient life.”

    Your other recent post hurts my head. I can’t figure out what you’re saying or to whom you’re saying it, to be honest.

  543. #547 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    I spit upon your feeble parry with “Timothy.” I like that song. I listen to it every morning as I put shredded baby on my breakfast Cheerios.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfVJ11GXzXQ

  544. #548 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    OK Just to muddle the waters amongst combatants.

    Mathematics is a language that helps us see sub-atomic particles.
    When in fact the community treats the results as a wave of matter/energy.
    To postulate:If all matter/energy was in harmony you would not be able to percieve.It is only due to dis-harmony that we exist at all.
    And if everything was in harmony in the begining,well…inconclusive.
    This view is no more relevant or no less than CMB.

    However, it does lend a tone to religion or this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHNfRV0OtPo

    *pops*…out

  545. #549 tresmal
    April 19, 2009

    Gee, thanks for all the great music guys. What can I do but repay you in kind?
    1
    2
    3
    Does that count as going nuclear?

  546. #551 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    *lieing on the floor concussed*
    *reaches for the det button*

    *gasp*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K37BhzM0I8I&feature=related

  547. #552 Emmet, OM
    April 19, 2009
    And not only physicists, but also, for instance, Richard Dawkins, who has mused about the anthropic principle in at least two of his books.

    I think we need to establish clearly which variant of the AP we’re talking about?

    Absolutely. This version is not the one that I’ve heard Dawkins espouse. Dawkins’s version of the anthropic principle is essentially the tautology that the universe that we’re in must be the kind of universe that supports human life because we’re in it and able to talk about it; had it been otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to perceive it, so discussion of its likelihood is a bit daft. IIRC, he and Steven Weinberg discuss this, and agree, in the Voices of Science interview.

    The version being discussed here seems to be that ?the universe is how it is because of our presence? ? a very different notion that reverses cause and effect, and reeks of religious anthropocentrism, mysticism and teleology ? a perversion of the anthropic principle as I understand it.

  548. #554 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *sees the blood everywhere*

    *shakes head*

    You all can run if you like–you’re just gonna die tired.

    *puts team ball cap on*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C-eVa4eweA&feature=related

  549. #555 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009
  550. #556 Josh
    April 19, 2009
  551. #557 Nanu Nanu
    April 19, 2009

    :[

    That’s the only one I have. I don’t even have a nuclear program! I AM SEVERELY LACKING IN MILITARY BACKING

  552. #558 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    *slowly bleeding to death from the Travolta tactics*
    *realizing kindness doesn’t kill*
    *finds ammo under the entrails the 60′s*
    *loads sticky ammo in weapon*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGL4btEIoTo

    *dies singing*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1loyjm4SOa0

  553. #559 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Ahhh, ‘Tis–that was fuckin’ brutal.

    *wipes blood from under brim of very singed team cap*

    *does a mag switch*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1tghvb6WqA

  554. #560 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *looks down at smoking holes in body armor from Sphere’s final onslaught*

    *raises weapon toward ‘Tis*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCnYTl-5avw

  555. #561 Sastra
    April 19, 2009

    Therion #511 wrote:

    These critics cite the vast physical, fossil, genetic, and other biological evidence consistent with life having been fine-tuned through natural selection to adapt to the physical and geophysical environment in which life exists. Life appears to have adapted to physics, and not vice versa.

    Not only wrong and ignorant, but hilariously wrong and ignorant. What a schoolboy howler.

    Is this response to the claim that the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life really a “schoolboy howler?” I think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to common expressions of wonder over, say, planet earth being just the right temperature for human beings — think how horrible it would be for us had we evolved on Jupiter instead!

    How fine a target do we need for fine-tuning to be needed? Someone mentioned the universe being fine-tuned for dark matter, because it is so abundant. But what about the universe being fine-tuned for PZ Myers — because he is not so abundant? Why stop at life in general? Think of all the contingencies of ancestor meeting ancestor; the mathematical odds against PZ being here is astronomically — maybe even miraculously — high. Yet here is is.

    If we had a universe with different constants, we might have a different kind of life. Or none at all. And yet the universe would still exist, in some other way. Why do you think this completely misses the point of the Fine-Tuning Argument? I’m confused.

  556. #562 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    I know nothing of the rules of this game, but would it be safe to guess that the first person that uses “The Bird” is the looser?

  557. #563 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    …but would it be safe to guess that the first person that uses “The Bird” is the looser?

    I dunno…you could always try it…

    *locks and loads*

  558. #565 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    You’re bringing in the Transportation Corps, eh, Josh. Well, two can play at that game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4HhFY3ljZc&feature=related

  559. #566 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    *As I had already succombed to death, I was drawn back to this world by a convoy from yesteryear*.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PciMH7nO5wY&feature=related

    aaaaand cut, really gottago

    *parting shot*

  560. #567 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Yes–that one exactly.

    *nods approvingly*

    Rev. is to be spared.

  561. #568 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009
  562. #569 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    I know nothing of the rules of this game, but would it be safe to guess that the first person that uses “The Bird” is the looser?

    But I like The Bird.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZZHK73iwTk

    But then, I also like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqMk-AuTDZE

  563. #570 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 19, 2009

    Nice. Morris Day and the Time.

  564. #571 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Oh my. What have we done?

    *Pokes at Sphere Coupler’s quiet, traumatized body*

    *Still warm. But no signs of life. Seems to have gone with a smile on his face though.*

    OK. I didn’t know Sphere Coupler well, but this one’s for him.

  565. #572 Josh
    April 19, 2009
  566. #573 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Have at you, scurvy navel, er, I mean, knave:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksR0si3ZloY&feature=rec-HM-fresh+div

  567. #574 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Wow, SC…just wow. That’s some obscure shit.

    *reels slightly*

    *looks over at bastion and what’s left of Sphere*

    Hmmmm…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv-Yx-vZCGE

  568. #575 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 19, 2009

    Oh man josh.

    That song has a special kind of suck for me. If I’m at a concert and idiots are yelling out songs that the band plays and obviously can’t hear them screaming, I scream muskrat love…

    all night until they shut up.

  569. #576 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    As rifle volleys are fired over Sphere’s grave, the band plays

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50b-Q-Z1bF0&feature=related

  570. #577 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    I might be bluffing. It’s conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I’m only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again… perhaps I have the strength after all.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t346BluN2Y

  571. #578 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    How much strength will you have after this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1PLT0GljPA

  572. #579 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Oh man josh.

    Yeah…sorry Rev.
    Interesting concert story there, though. I was at a Crue concert once (seriously, don’t ask…) and was standing on the floor screaming “Motley Crue sucks!” interspersed with “Play fucking American Pie!”

    I dunno, I was drunk, and the groupies next to me kept looking at me every time I did it–as though maybe, just maybe, I was actually a more hard-core fan than them, and aware of some song they’d never heard of from Crue’s garage days. I actually like that song. I guess it’s really not that related to your story. Sigh…
    Duck for a second, would you?

    ‘Tis, that last one was from the fucking 60′s. How did that misfire feel?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_l0as6tCcs

    Okay, more wine.

  573. #580 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Yes, Rev. that’s the correct damned bird, may shit be upon it. The Pullet Patrol has standing orders to peck the eyes out of any such offender or risk martyrdom pot piedom.

  574. #581 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    *looks over at bastion and what’s left of Sphere*

    Hmmmm…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv-Yx-vZCGE

    Snort! That was part of the critter cluster bomb @410.

    Get your white flag ready, Stone Studier!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_l0as6tCcs

  575. #582 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    That’s rock studier, dickhead*. Stones are building materials.

    Take this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVf940pO5ME

    That’s right. That’s right.

    With fuckin’ lyrics.

    *yeah, I know it sounded much better the other way…

  576. #583 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *removes tattered remains of body armor after Bastion’s last volley*

    Seriously–that was worse than AlienTM blood.

  577. #584 Anonymous
    April 19, 2009

    Josh | April 19, 2009 9:36 PM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_l0as6tCcs

    *Im layin here,taps has been played…sorta.I’m just blowin in the wind if you will and then this?

    Josh you are pure evil, evil I say. I hope ‘Tis Himself and bastion of sass and others can make it, quick hold your hands over your ears…

    oh and did I say PURE fuckinevil. the horror…the horror…

  578. #585 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Wow, SC…just wow. That’s some obscure shit.

    *feels sheepish because she really does like it, probably due to happy associations*

    *regrets wandering onto the battlefield*

    So I’ll share a non-obscure tune from the first concert I ever attended, which I assume someone has already posted but which has very special unpleasant memories for me*:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgkbyrVq_0w

    *not least of which because the crazy people at my crazy church had me petrified that I was going to hell for listening to that “rock” music. I cried.

  579. #586 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Here’s what I propose: You’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword, and we’ll try and kill each other like civilized people.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16kh-AP4OCU

  580. #587 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Rev, you may be foolish enough to limit yourself to the post-60s, but I am not. However, this one should meet your faux requirements:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e8WxDd3Ul8

  581. #588 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    @584:

    Nous Défions

  582. #589 'Tis Himself
    April 19, 2009

    Has anyone answered the age-old but vitally important question:

    Who put the bomp
    In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
    Who put the ram
    In the rama lama ding dong?
    Who put the bop
    In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
    Who put the dip
    In the dip da dip da dip?
    Who was that man?

  583. #590 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009
  584. #591 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    *OK a little mixed up but what the hell its dark here.
    I meant, yeah go get em “bastion of sass”
    Excellent choice of ammo.
    Wonderfull tune and alls fair and all.*

  585. #593 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *glares in rage at anyone who would ever make SC cry*

    Bastion, perhaps pistols at twenty paces?

    Nahhh…I like carnage too much:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVdhZwK7cS8

  586. #594 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    *glares in rage at anyone who would ever make SC cry*

    Aww! Admittedly, I do cry fairly easily. I should learn from song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbf2C39kNs0

  587. #595 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    Ok, only time for ONE shot today.

    *pulls out sniper rifle*

    *aims at Josh*

    *pewt!*

    time for a bowl of hot buttered…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N4ckFN96-k&feature=related

  588. #596 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Speaking as the self appointed music snob of Pharyngula, this thread is toxic. Are you people trying to cause each other genetic harm? Here, I offer those who are willing an antidote.

  589. #597 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009
  590. #598 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *reels from Ichthyic’s round*

    Fuck.

    *takes unsteady aim*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDL9rS2p_wA

    *sits for a moment to recover*

  591. #599 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009
  592. #600 PZ Myers
    April 19, 2009

    Aaaaieee! I step away from the blog for a day to catch up on a pile of administrative work, and boom, you guys are committing unspeakable atrocities. All my hopes for humanity…destroyed. We are an evil species.

    You’re all banned. Banned, banned, banned. I’m going to have to shut down the blog and take a shotgun to the archives. The horror.

    Well, except for that bit of PJ Harvey. She always calms me down. I might just wait a few minutes before pushing the big red ban button.

  593. #601 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Get your white flag ready, Stone Studier!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_l0as6tCcs

    AWWW, dammit to hell and back! The Rock Runt already flung that piece of poo!

    But what’s this? Josh has also reused http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVdhZwK7cS8 which ‘Tis posted @542. Stalemate!

    *Hands SC my white hankie for her tears. And without a white hankie THERE CAN BE NO SURRENDER!*

    *Checks to see what ammo I have left. Aw, shit! May have to retreat to base to rearm after this.*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnOHk2j9HDs

  594. #602 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Alright, here is something from the seventies. Yeah, that’s right, my second video was also from the seventies.

  595. #603 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    *blinks*

    I saw nothing…

    NOTHING.

    /Shultz

    btw, “Popcorn” was the second song I can remember forcing my parents to buy me the album of.

    the first was this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh-0UYCUDeE

    well, OK, technically IIRC it was Tom Jones singing it instead, but you get the idea.

  596. #604 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    PZ, I also came in late to all of this. I am happy I did my part to calm you down. I would hate to see this place disappear. Especially when every here are usually so well worth reading.

  597. #605 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    the first was this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh-0UYCUDeE

    Say, Josh, is that the guy you were recommending to Nerd yesterday?

  598. #606 Sastra
    April 19, 2009

    Ah, the song I really wanted to throw at people has been taken down by UTube.

    But, I will try this one, though it’s not as good:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0lKmznjgfQ&feature=related

  599. #607 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    *looks around*

    PZ’s right. I don’t there’s a blade of grass left untouched in here. A shotgun is perhaps not up to the job.

    Perhaps peace is in order.

    Just as long as Bastion keeps in mind, for next time, that combat isn’t pretty:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwDWknR7YQE&feature=related

    *gives Bastion a look*

    I do have other stuff left unfired…

    *clears weapon and places selector lever on safe*

  600. #608 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    *takes unsteady aim*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDL9rS2p_wA

    *sits for a moment to recover*

    That was also part of my critter cluster bomb @410.

    Face it, stone boy, you got nuthin’ left.

    Uh oh. Shit! The boss is back!

    *Grabs the 70s videos, and stashes them under the desk.*

    You’re all banned. Banned, banned, banned. I’m going to have to shut down the blog and take a shotgun to the archives. The horror.

    *Looks remorseful.*

    Sorry, PZ. [whine]. But the Rev started it. And Josh just kept pushing me and pushing me.

    I’ve already been threatened by Patricia with banning once today. But I managed to crawl back into her good graces.

    What can I do to make it up to you?

  601. #609 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    I am not guilty.

    NO BIRD!

    Bastion of Sass if I get banned you aren’t getting spanked or having your bar tab rise above ZERO for a week. Josh, your paddle is in jeopardy too.

    Now, now PZ…remember I’m an HERB farmer…

  602. #610 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Sigh! All of this toxic sludge. This may not be musical but it will blow all of the fluff out of your ears.

  603. #611 Sastra
    April 19, 2009

    Oh no. I finally post a video just when PZ walks in. Caught.

    Damn.

  604. #612 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Josh, your paddle is in jeopardy too.

    Dammit. But Patriiiiiciaaaaaa!

    *pouts a little*

    And Josh just kept pushing me and pushing me.

    ’tis true, although apparently not so well there at the end.

    *smack*

    That’s for “stone boy.”

  605. #613 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    I will try this one, though it’s not as good:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0lKmznjgfQ&feature=related

    *Whispers* Uh, Sastra. PZ is back, and he doesn’t look happy!

    Not worth getting in trouble, especially since most of the really good stuff, including that one, has already been fired.

  606. #614 Ichthyic
    April 19, 2009

    @Janine:

    You seem to have similar preferences in music to my mate down here in NZ. She’s really into PJ. Also Nick Cave and Nine-Inch Nails. I think she will like also like Neko.

    any chance I could get a discography of your collection?

    If you have one, or more suggestions, shoot me a msg here:

    fisheyephotosAThotmailDOTcom

    cheers

  607. #615 Sphere Coupler
    April 19, 2009

    PZ,
    I tried to stop the slaughter I really did, well not really,I did enjoy myself until Josh and his {playground in my mind} hit the battlefield.Nasty stuff, must purge…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udEDlOZJmCc

  608. #616 Sastra
    April 19, 2009

    *Whispers* bastion of sass — yes, I know, I saw him.

    You mean it was already used? I must have missed it.
    (Good thing “Run Joey Run” wasn’t available after all, then. If PZ had seen that one, I’d be Pharyngulopped.)

  609. #617 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Daddy please don’t
    It wasn’t his fault
    He means so much to me
    Daddy please don’t
    We’re gonna get mar-ried
    (Heavenly chorus)

    Sastra, you are just sick!

  610. #618 Josh
    April 19, 2009

    Okay, I’m out. Going to try and use my toothbrush to get rid of the echoes of some of those “songs.”

    Talk to you all in the mornin’.

    Best.

  611. #619 Zarquon
    April 19, 2009

    OK I’m going to clean up this mess: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pd_xCURto8

  612. #620 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Wait a minute! What are we whining about?

    We’re all gonna get spanked!

    Huzzah! *Kermit the Frog jazz hands*

  613. #621 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Patricia, are you the Mother Superior of Castle Anthrax?

  614. #622 SC, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Sweet dreams, Josh!

  615. #623 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    (Good thing “Run Joey Run” wasn’t available after all, then. If PZ had seen that one, I’d be Pharyngulopped.)

    *whispers*

    Pssst. Sastra…#577…But don’t tell PZ

  616. #624 Patricia, OM
    April 19, 2009

    Dammit. I always get found out.

  617. #625 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 19, 2009

    Well Patricia, you made it so easy!

    Oh, Ichthyic, I sent you an e-mail. If anyone else wants to contact me, I am at janphar at yahoo.

    I guess this makes me an e-mail whore.

  618. #626 bastion of sass
    April 19, 2009

    Josh wrote:

    Perhaps peace is in order.

    *Hopes PZ is reading.*

    [Ahem] Sure, Josh, why not?

    *See, PZ, we’re being good. No naughtiness here. Nope.*

    I still have the ducat Patricia gave me on the “Creationists are liars” thread. How ’bout a beer at the bar?

    Or we can kiss and makeoutup. [And just so you all know, I'm not a "he."]

  619. #627 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    Robert Green Ingersoll — What list could consider leaving him off? He was a brilliany speaker, writer, lawyer, politician, father and Union Army Colonel. He spoke to tens of thousands of people with his messages of Agnosticsm and Atheism. He is still honored today by freethinkers in the English speaking world. Books continue to be written about “Colonel Bob”.

  620. #628 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Sastra @ 561,

    Is this response to the claim that the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life really a “schoolboy howler?” I think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to common expressions of wonder over, say, planet earth being just the right temperature for human beings — think how horrible it would be for us had we evolved on Jupiter instead!

    Yes, it’s a schoolboy howler, unless you’re using it as a mild rebuke to a position which nobody actually espouses. (How many times have I said something like this when discussing Gould’s opinions?) It misunderstands what people are actually saying. If the physicists are right that we need to be in a region of the multiverse that is suitable for life, you would expect this region’s biology to appear to be adapted to the physics. Evolution by natural selection is a lot more probable than getting life by random fluke. The whole point of “anthropic focus” is that physicists are trying to find the minimum requirements for the evolution of conscious life.

  621. #629 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    However the Strong Anthropic Principle insists that we must be here. As I said previously, it’s based on the idea that “I’m the most important thing in the universe, the universe revolves around ME, therefore I am the sole reason for the existence of the universe.” Which is so much narcissistic bullshit.

    Of course. This is why physicists have been resisting it for years. The fact is, however, that it’s not an easy conclusion to avoid. It’s a conclusion that seems to follow quite naturally from the present formalism of quantum mechanics. If you don’t have anyone around to conduct “measurements”, all you get is an abstract superposition of orthonormal eigenstates (e.g. corresponding to Schrödinger cat being both alive and dead).

    I’m not saying the mystic physicists have it right. My point is that not easy to refute them. There’s a reason quantum mechanics has its reputation for being weird and unsettling.

  622. #630 Africangenesis
    April 20, 2009

    Therion,

    You might be interested in this presentation:

    http://faculty.washington.edu/jcramer/PowerPoint/Boskone_0402.ppt

    There is a transactional interpretation of quantum physics that avoids need for an observer to collapse wave functions.

  623. #631 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    @Therion: as a physicist I find it very easy to avoid the Strong Anthropic Principle. The thing about the observer collapsing the wave function is a hack; a successful one, but not by any means part of a really fundamental theory. F’rinstance, Penrose has suggested that wavefunction collapse happens when the difference between two states of the universe becomes gravitationally significant; an interesting idea and doesn’t need any intelligent observers.

  624. #632 John Morales
    April 20, 2009

    … or it could just be quantum decoherence.

  625. #633 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    @Therion: as a physicist I find it very easy to avoid the Strong Anthropic Principle. The thing about the observer collapsing the wave function is a hack; a successful one, but not by any means part of a really fundamental theory. F’rinstance, Penrose has suggested that wavefunction collapse happens when the difference between two states of the universe becomes gravitationally significant; an interesting idea and doesn’t need any intelligent observers.

    Physicists have been working on this since the 1930s and still haven’t come up with a formalism free of the mystical undertones (e.g. the systematic separation between observer and the rest of the world). Einstein battled it for over two decades and didn’t succeed in convincing the physics community. To say it is “very easy” to avoid mystical interpretations of quantum mechanics like the strong anthropic principle is simply ridiculous.

  626. #634 Africangenesis
    April 20, 2009

    Here is a link to the wikipedia article on teh afshar experiement mentioned in the presentation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afshar_experiment

  627. #635 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    *waves at SC*

    *looks around for Bastion*

    *contemplates Bastion’s bar suggestion*

    Some might say it’s a little early for a pint, but I’m a geologist. No such time exists.

    As to the rest…well, yeah, absolutely.

    *slides M4 innocently closer*

  628. #636 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Africangenesis @ 630,

    Thanks for the link. Bookmarked it and will check it out later today. Yes, there are formulations of quantum mechanics that have exorcised some of the evil spirits haunting the field. My point was merely that it’s not easy to come up with such theories. Some people posting in this thread seem to think that they can peremptorily wave off the weird interpretations of QM with a few glib remarks. They don’t realize that all the objections they raise were objections that immediately occurred to every physicist back in the 1930s.

  629. #637 windy
    April 20, 2009

    If you don’t have anyone around to conduct “measurements”, all you get is an abstract superposition of orthonormal eigenstates (e.g. corresponding to Schrödinger cat being both alive and dead).

    Fission track dating seems to show that a piece of crystal is enough to “measure” the outcome of a quantum event.

    (…crystals? hmm, maybe the universe was not designed for ugly bags of mostly water)

  630. #638 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    *waves at SC*

    *looks around for Bastion*

    *contemplates Bastion’s bar suggestion*

    Oh, enough of this childish bullshit. It’s been going on for ages now, it’s not funny anymore, and it’s clogging up the thread.

  631. #639 Rorschach
    April 20, 2009

    Oh, enough of this childish bullshit.

    Therion,

    this place can be like “Cheers” every now and then,people enjoying swapping cooking recipes and music,and just being silly and having some fun.
    If you dont like it,go and read about quantum mechanics or something.

  632. #640 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    What? All this anthropic principle and no puddles?

    Pfff you people aren’t even trying hard. ;-)

    In that case I’ll see your Bird and raise you a

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z7W-rv8xmE&feature=related

    Louis

  633. #641 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Fission track dating seems to show that a piece of crystal is enough to “measure” the outcome of a quantum event.

    No, sorry, you can’t solve the foundational problems of quantum mechanics with a frivolous little observation like that.

  634. #642 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    To say it is “very easy” to avoid mystical interpretations of quantum mechanics like the strong anthropic principle is simply ridiculous.

    That sounds very much like an argument from personal incredulity, aka, argumentum ad ignorantiam. Avoiding a mystical interpretation of the decision problem, for example, doesn’t seem at all difficult in a multiverse. If, for example, you adopt the point of view that an observation doesn’t tell you about the state of the collapsed wavefunction (each and every physical state existing in at least one verse, but probabilites/wavefunctions being universal), but instead tells you about yourself ? which verse (or, rather, set of verses) you’re in ? you can neatly sidestep the problem without any mysticism whatever. I don’t see any obvious ?schoolboy howler? in this interpretation. Now, given that two alternatives have been presented in as many comments, perhaps it is very easy after all.

  635. #643 windy
    April 20, 2009

    No, sorry, you can’t solve the foundational problems of quantum mechanics with a frivolous little observation like that.

    Boy, does Murray Gell-Mann have egg on his face now, since he’s the one who originally made that “frivolous little observation”.

    But since it’s so frivolous, I’m sure it would be easy to explain how fission tracks require conscious observers to form?

  636. #644 Lilly de Lure
    April 20, 2009

    No, sorry, you can’t solve the foundational problems of quantum mechanics with a frivolous little observation like that.

    OK, how’s this for a frivolous little observation then. You claim that human or other conscious observation is necessary for the Universe to behave as it does. But humans have only been around for about half a million years (if that) and the universe is around 14 billion years old. How did the Universe cope in the period prior to our being around to observe it?

    At first I thought of positing intelligent aliens as a possible get out clause for you but modern cosmology, as far as I am aware, tracks back the history of the Universe to within a few nanoseconds of the big bang, so unless said intelligent aliens evolved really, really quickly the human or other conscious observation is clearly not required for the Universe to exist.

  637. #645 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    If, for example, you adopt the point of view that an observation doesn’t tell you about the state of the collapsed wavefunction (each and every physical state existing in at least one verse, but probabilites/wavefunctions being universal), but instead tells you about yourself ? which verse (or, rather, set of verses) you’re in ? you can neatly sidestep the problem without any mysticism whatever. I don’t see any obvious ?schoolboy howler? in this interpretation. Now, given that two alternatives have been presented in as many comments, perhaps it is very easy

    If it’s so easy, why isn’t there consensus among physicists? Why do so many physicists, probably even a majority of them, still subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation? These are the people actually working on the problem professionally. Presumably they’re all stupid.

    Your description of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics is amusingly “pop-sci”. You’ll find that the idea appears much less plausible when expressed in the mathematical jargon. For instance, according to the Everett formalism, when an “observer” interacts with a system, his wavefunction and the system’s wavefunction interfere and always result in a superposition of degenerate eigenfunctions. We have no idea why this ought to be the case, and we have to essentially take it on faith if we go with the Everett theory. It is very peculiar, and it still assumes that observers are “special” (namely, in the way they interfere with other systems). There’s a reason why this isn’t yet consensus. So no, it’s not “very easy”.

  638. #646 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    Everett’s Multiverse hypothesis?

    IANAPhysicist and I realise I could be invoking Heddle (David, if I say your name three times do you appear? Do I need a mirror? ;-) ) but surely this is at least one other interpretation of quantum mechanics (usual caveats apply) that doesn’t rely on a special place for conscious observers.

    Granted, it’s a hypothesis, granted it’s a complex addition to the equation, and granted it’s a big deal. But I don’t think it can easily be dismissed. After all don’t a rather large number of eminent physicists also interpret QM this way…..

    Ok so that last bit was a mite cheeky! Sue me.

    Louis

  639. #647 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    Oh, enough of this childish bullshit.

    Hey, guess what, little grad student–none of it was about you. How we blow off steam really isn’t your concern, but thanks anyway.

    What is this guy, a first year?

    @Windy

    to show that a piece of crystal is enough

    It’s probably best to revise that to “a piece of the material is enough…” Fission track techniques can be applied to volcanic glasses, in which actual crystal development is absent. They can still display damage, however.

    No, sorry, you can’t solve the foundational problems of quantum mechanics with a frivolous little observation like that.

    I’ll take Creationist Avoidance Techniques for 400, Alex.

    Since you’re so good at giving instructions on this thread, let’s see if you can take them: how about you respond to Windy’s point with something other than a simple assertive dismissal?

  640. #648 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    You claim that human or other conscious observation is necessary for the Universe to behave as it does.

    I don’t claim any such thing. This is a flagrant lie. Until you apologize I won’t respond to you again.

    Boy, does Murray Gell-Mann have egg on his face now, since he’s the one who originally made that “frivolous little observation”.

    Got a citation? If you check out the context, I think you’ll find that he didn’t try to style it as a knockdown argument against some interpretations of QM, as you seemed to do. It’s nothing new, really. “Measurement” has never referred to a human weighing a particle on a scale. Of course roundabout measurement procedures are implied — one of which is fission tracks.

  641. #649 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, by now you should have grasped that you are very seriously under-informed on the subject of physics and the strong anthropic principle. You should, perhaps, widen your reading slightly. You really need to grasp that the Copenhagen interpretation _is not a fundamental theory, it’s a hack_. You’re taking a structural flaw in the theory- one which many theorists are working hard to resolve- and elevating it to the status of a devastating philosophical insight.

    Think harder about the fission track example. If you look at a four-billion-year-old zircon and find fission tracks, do you really think that only at the very instant of your focussing the microscope did four billion years’ worth of nuclear decay events suddenly snap from superposition to collapse? That billions of years of evolution occurred _in superposition_ until suddenly a sufficiently smart ape evolves and TWOING everything snaps into focus? I don’t have any drugs strong enough for that to make sense.

  642. #650 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Hey, guess what, little grad student–none of it was about you. How we blow off steam really isn’t your concern, but thanks anyway.

    “Little grad student”. Oh, right. So apparently I’m not entitled to call anyone on his childishness (or his manifest ignorance of physics, as we saw earlier) until I finish my PhD. What a bunch of noble, compassionate, bona fide liberals you have in this community.

  643. #651 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    So apparently I’m not entitled to call anyone on his childishness…

    You’re absolutely entitled to it. I was merely giving you shit because you’re being a jackass, something that I’m entitled to.

    (or his manifest ignorance of physics, as we saw earlier) until I finish my PhD.

    Uh, where exactly did you call me on my “manifest ignorance of physics?”

    What a bunch of noble, compassionate, bona fide liberals you have in this community.

    And political views have exactly what to do with this “discussion?”

  644. #652 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Your description of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics is amusingly “pop-sci”.

    Probably because I just pulled it out of my ass for a blog comment ? I didn’t know it had a name.

    For your sake, I hope your brilliance matches your arrogance.

  645. #653 Rorschach
    April 20, 2009

    What a bunch of noble, compassionate, bona fide liberals you have in this community.

    Therion,
    you were doing quite well until that one….Its just not a good idea to tell people what they can post on a public internet forum,whether you like what is posted or not.
    And this “bona fide liberals” thing makes you look pretty silly now.

  646. #654 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    You really need to grasp that the Copenhagen interpretation _is not a fundamental theory, it’s a hack_. You’re taking a structural flaw in the theory- one which many theorists are working hard to resolve- and elevating it to the status of a devastating philosophical insight.

    I’m not doing any such thing. This is too tiresome for me to persist. This is a community of fucking animals. (Apologies to those of you capable of behaving civilly — I’m talking only about the bulk of them.) You are INCAPABLE of engaging in educated discussion without shamefully and consistently misrepresenting your opponents.

    No, I don’t think the Copenhagen interpretation is a “devastating philosophical insight”. I think it’s prospects are basically hopeless, given its competitors. I made it clear above that I like multiverse theories. My point was merely that there’s serious dialogue to be had. Dismissing the Copenhagen interpretation as “stupid”, while offering a single threadbare sentence in support, is totally unacceptable.

    Think harder about the fission track example. If you look at a four-billion-year-old zircon and find fission tracks, do you really think that only at the very instant of your focussing the microscope did four billion years’ worth of nuclear decay events suddenly snap from superposition to collapse?

    That’s not a very good example, sorry. It’s well-known that the collapse of the wavefunction is discontinuous. The point of thought experiment’s like Schrodinger’s cat or Einstein’s gunpowder keg is that in principle a system can hang around indefinitely, until the moment of “observation” (whatever that means), when the wavefunction collapses discontinuously.

  647. #655 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Uh, where exactly did you call me on my “manifest ignorance of physics?”

    I’m speaking of Ichthyic.

    And political views have exactly what to do with this “discussion?”

    Well, for a community that styles itself a group of compassionate liberals, you sure are pretty stingy about the human rights of those of us that don’t hold PhDs. Of course you wouldn’t say “little faggot”, even though that’s on the exact same moral footing as “little grad student”.

  648. #656 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, way above:

    “Deism” of some sort isn’t an obviously absurd position. If it turns out there’s fine-tuning, then as far as we know we need to turn to either multiverse or intelligent design. This is the province of physicists. The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    I fail to see what any of what’s now being discussed has to do with deism or intelligent design.

    ***

    By the way, Dyson speaking stupidly on matters in which he is not an expert:

    http://scienceblogs.com/islandofdoubt/2009/03/freeman_dyson_climate_change_s.php

    (I still think Therion is “J.”)

  649. #657 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Oooh, hissy fit @648. Funny.

  650. #658 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    This is the province of physicists. The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    I meant they’re not qualified to utter definitive pronouncements. Speculation is fine, so long as you admit it’s speculation.

  651. #659 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    This is a community of fucking animals. (Apologies to those of you capable of behaving civilly — I’m talking only about the bulk of them.) You are INCAPABLE of engaging in educated discussion without shamefully and consistently misrepresenting your opponents.

    Come on! You’re gonna tell me that’s not J? (“clique,” “preposterous,” the hostility toward a group of people having fun together, the obsession with “shameless misrepresentation” and a collective atheist self-indentification? Come on – it’s J.)

    Well, for a community that styles itself a group of compassionate liberals, you sure are pretty stingy about the human rights of those of us that don’t hold PhDs. Of course you wouldn’t say “little faggot”, even though that’s on the exact same moral footing as “little grad student”.

    There is no human right not to be belittled on a blog. The “exact same moral footing”? You’re deranged.

  652. #660 John Morales
    April 20, 2009

    Therion:

    My point was merely that there’s serious dialogue to be had. Dismissing the Copenhagen interpretation as “stupid”, while offering a single threadbare sentence in support, is totally unacceptable.

    Fine. So was your point about fine-tuning, and your point about deism.

    Basically, you bring up stuff that you think is evidence of the mystical, and no-one buys it, you give away some pabulum anyway. Sure, anything that’s argued about is arguable, good point 3 times so far.

    PS

    Well, for a community that styles itself a group of compassionate liberals

    It’s a bit more diverse than that… I’m neither.

  653. #661 windy
    April 20, 2009

    If it’s so easy, why isn’t there consensus among physicists? Why do so many physicists, probably even a majority of them, still subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation?

    Maybe they understand that the Copenhagen interpretation does not equal “consciousness causes collapse”. (Come on, even a biologist know this much!)

    Boy, does Murray Gell-Mann have egg on his face now, since he’s the one who originally made that “frivolous little observation”.

    Got a citation? If you check out the context, I think you’ll find that he didn’t try to style it as a knockdown argument against some interpretations of QM, as you seemed to do.

    In the Quark and the Jaguar he refers to fission tracks coming into existence in the past, unlike “some clumsy descriptions of quantum mechanics might suggest”. The argument is also in a recent paper of his.

    The tracks are there irrespective of the presence of an ?observer?. It makes no difference if a physicist or other human or a chinchilla or a cockroach looks at the tracks.

    I think you’ll find that it is styled as an argument against that interpretation of QM. (And well styled it is!)

  654. #662 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    This is too tiresome for me to persist.

    Buh-bye!

     

    Come on – it’s J.

    No, ?J? was a humble, unassuming, self-deprecating sort of chap? in comparison.

     

    Oooh, hissy fit @648. Funny.

    And #654 ? the toys are flying from the pram.

  655. #663 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, you’re complaining about human rights violations because you’re being mocked on a blog comment thread. That in itself should give you pause. I should go and take some deep breaths before coming back. Also, read less Deepak Chopra.

  656. #664 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I meant they’re not qualified to utter definitive pronouncements. Speculation is fine, so long as you admit it’s speculation.

    How is that a response to what I wrote?

    ***

    No, ?J? was a humble, unassuming, self-deprecating sort of chap? in comparison.

    But that could be because he wasn’t yet attached to a physics program. Now the arrogance knows no bounds. (Of course, I have no idea one way or the other. But the similarities are eerie. I’m clinging to it mostly ’cause I shudder to think this is a common “type.”)

  657. #665 JeffreyD
    April 20, 2009

    Oh my stars and garters! I go away for a week and miss so much snark and snarl. I missed the knitting pun war, for (insert nonexistent deity’s name) sake! And it was a pun war heavily populated by two of my favourites, Patricia, Queen of the Fowls and SC of the Beautiful Mind.

    Not very sorry I missed the Therion/J exchanges while they were ongoing. Kinda fun to follow it to the end where the troll gives ups and departs – we hope. There is a certain beauty in watching someone spin out of control and start piling up lies and excuses and justifications until they can no longer be kept straight. Far more fun to read the whole thing in one sitting instead of waiting for each installment of verbose nonsense. Ah well, time to catch up on the other threads while the day is still young.

    Ciao y’all

  658. #666 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    Come on! You’re gonna tell me that’s not J? (“clique,” “preposterous,” the hostility toward a group of people having fun together, the obsession with “shameless misrepresentation” and a collective atheist self-indentification? Come on – it’s J.)

    No, it isn’t. Now fuck off. I’m not going to answer any more ad homs.

    Maybe they understand that the Copenhagen interpretation does not equal “consciousness causes collapse”. (Come on, even a biologist know this much!)

    The Copenhagen interpretation requires a conceptual split between observer and system. When asked what the observer is, most physicists will say they don’t know. There’s the widespread, vague impression that it has something to do with consciousness. As you point out, though, this is suspect for a number of reasons and could well be entirely misleading and erroneous.

    In the Quark and the Jaguar he refers to fission tracks coming into existence in the past, unlike “some clumsy descriptions of quantum mechanics might suggest”. The argument is also in a recent paper of his.

    Hmm…I assumed this was just an ordinary example of decoherence, but it actually seems more subtle. Wasn’t aware of this and will have to check it out. Thanks for the link and sorry for my dismissive remark.

  659. #667 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Physics students going through the QM woo phase. It’s best to just add more beer and stand well back. They get better later.

  660. #668 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Also, read less Deepak Chopra.

    ? and Gary Zukav.

     

    But the similarities are eerie.

    Agreed, but at the same time missing the signature ?I’m clearly right? assertions, Brights advocacy, and with a somewhat different persecution complex ? I don’t think J ever actually accused us of human rights violations, ?ganging up on him like a pack of animals?, yes, but even J, I think, would’ve paused before comparing genocide with being a big meanie on a blog.

  661. #669 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion reminds me of GWIAS, asking the same inane questions over and over.
    His questions set off my bullshitt detector big time. I think this is because QM is only good for light and small particles, atom sized or less. QM becomes classical physics at groups of molecules. And consciousness arises from from groups of molecules called the brain. And there, a minimum complexity is needed. So, there is no overlap except in the minds of the deluded.
    Therion, if you think it is such a grand area to study, make it your lifes work, and only publish in the peer reviewed scientific literature. We will never hear from you again, as there is nothing scientific there.

  662. #670 Sastra
    April 20, 2009

    bastion of sass #623 wrote:

    Pssst. Sastra…#577…But don’t tell PZ

    Ok, this is now not only off-topic, but over and done with, but I simply must point out that this is not the David Geddes version of “Run Joey Run” — which I remember far too well, and is possibly the worst song of all time. The Geddes version isn’t available on video (as far as I can tell.) Perhaps UTube has too much pride.

  663. #671 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    No, it isn’t.

    *shudders*

    *is thankful for people like SAWells and Blake Stacey*

    Physics students going through the QM woo phase.

    That’s what it looks like. Still no idea what the vague “There’s the widespread, vague impression that it has something to do with consciousness” would have to do wih atheism, deism, or intelligent design, though.

    (Hey, JeffreyD!)

  664. #672 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Sorry, wasn’t signed in. #666 was by me.

    Physics students going through the QM woo phase. It’s best to just add more beer and stand well back. They get better later.

    What the hell are you talking about? I haven’t espoused any woo, anywhere on this thread or elsewhere. What I’m saying is that the stuff you’re presenting as “physicist woo” (while I disagree with it) actually isn’t as easily dismissible as some people like to believe.

    I hope to myself play a part in shedding some light on some above mentiomed problems of physics. In my future work I’m not even going to consider deism, the strong anthropic principle, the Copenhagen interpretation, and various other positions we’ve so far discussed. At least not unless there are seismic shifts in physics. At the moment I don’t think they’re remotely promising.

    However, if someone has a coherent theory which purports to give credence to any of the foregoing, I might be interested to hear what they have to say. Even if they’re wrong, they might raise instructive heuristic points. I learned a great deal from “The Cosmological Anthropic Principle” by Barrow and Tipler, even though I don’t think their thesis is plausible.

  665. #673 windy
    April 20, 2009

    Josh: It’s probably best to revise that to “a piece of the material is enough…” Fission track techniques can be applied to volcanic glasses”

    Right – ‘crystal’ sounded more poetic, but I guess I should have been more precise on this blog :)


    This is a community of fucking animals.

    That is a bit ironic coming from a “Therion.” ;)

    Speaking of which, this Therion rocks.


    … and Gary Zukav.

    OK but can we still read Fritjof Capra?

  666. #674 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    The Copenhagen interpretation requires a split between observer and system. There’s a widespread knowledge that this is a problem for the Copenhagen interpretation. We continue to _use_ the Copenhagen interpretation to calculate, for the same reason that I come to work in a car and not on a levitating fusion-powered unicorn. We work with what we’ve got even if it’s not perfect.

  667. #675 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    I don’t think J ever actually accused us of human rights violations, ?ganging up on him like a pack of animals?, yes, but even J, I think, would’ve paused before comparing genocide with being a big meanie on a blog.

    Genocide? Where did I ever mention genocide? So many lies about me are being written that I really cannot keep abreast of them all.

  668. #676 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Man! How do I manage to blockquote the wrong thing? Please excuse everything I post between, say, 5 AM and noon. Thank you.

    Agreed, but at the same time missing the signature ?I’m clearly right? assertions, Brights advocacy, and with a somewhat different persecution complex ? I don’t think J ever actually accused us of human rights violations, ?ganging up on him like a pack of animals?, yes, but even J, I think, would’ve paused before comparing genocide with being a big meanie on a blog.

    True. (Except for the ?ganging up on him like a pack of animals? accusation – that one I think I do recall.) And he’s now denied it twice, so I’ll take his word for it.

  669. #677 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    Right – ‘crystal’ sounded more poetic, but I guess I should have been more precise on this blog :)

    Nahh…it’s cool. I’ll bow to poetry this time ;)

  670. #678 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Genocide? Where did I ever mention genocide? So many lies about me are being written that I really cannot keep abreast of them all.

    Man, your chain is so easy to yank, it’s unbelievable. Just for lulz, what human rights violation did you think we’d perpetrated against you?

     

    I meant they’re not qualified to utter definitive pronouncements.

    Is that what you think your PhD will mean? That you’ll be the Pope of Physics?

  671. #679 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Thus spake SC,OM:

    Except for the ?ganging up on him like a pack of animals? accusation – that one I think I do recall.

    Now that I think of it, wasn’t it ?like a pack of wild dogs??

    And he’s now denied it twice, so I’ll take his word for it.

    Maybe Pope Therion might be related to ?J? ? that would explain a lot.

  672. #680 Sastra
    April 20, 2009

    Therion #628 wrote:

    If the physicists are right that we need to be in a region of the multiverse that is suitable for life, you would expect this region’s biology to appear to be adapted to the physics. Evolution by natural selection is a lot more probable than getting life by random fluke. The whole point of “anthropic focus” is that physicists are trying to find the minimum requirements for the evolution of conscious life.

    And I think the big problem with this search for the minimum requirements for the existence of consciousness is that it also uses consciousness as the solution for Fine Tuning. Apparently, something along the lines of “conscious intent” can exist inside of any physical parameters at all, or outside of all of them, and exercise choice. If so, then biology itself is completely unnecessary for conscious agency, and conscious life need not evolve. It was abundant enough before the universe began.

    “We” need to be in a region of the multiverse that is suitable for life? That’s true in a trivial sense, if it means us specifically fleshed out — and false in the grander sense that Fine Tuning advocates seemingly want to use. Disembodied “awarenesses” which can fine-tune physical constants to get physical results are independent of physical constraints.

    I do agree with you that Fine Tuning and Quantum Consciousness aren’t trivial problems or arguments: they get into technical areas most people don’t really understand. I certainly don’t. But I think that they begin by appealing to common intuitions about minds and causes, and these can be critiqued (or at least rationally discussed) by non-experts.

    For all the hand-waving on God’s mysterious nature, the concept of God is not really either mysterious, or counter-intuitive. It wasn’t derived from quantum mechanics or theoretical cosmology. It was derived from familiar folk concepts involving ourselves. I deeply suspect the Fine Tuners are working backwards.

  673. #681 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    However, if someone has a coherent theory which purports to give credence to any of the foregoing, I might be interested to hear what they have to say. Even if they’re wrong, they might raise instructive heuristic points.

    Well, if someone has a coherent theory based on the science and producing testable hypotheses for anything you should be interested in what they have to say. Who the hell are you arguing with? That ideas might be useful heuristic aids isn’t doubted by anyone, but it’s completely unrelated to their scientific validity.

    ***

    By the way, did anyone else see the 60 Minutes piece about cold fusion last night?

  674. #682 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, having seen how easily dismissable the stuff is, stop trying to claim it isn’t. Maybe you need more dismissal practice?

  675. #683 Sastra
    April 20, 2009

    Physics students going through the QM woo phase.

    Huh? I don’t get this impression from Therion at all. He’s bringing up some of the more reasonable issues in the intersection of physics and religion, and pointing out that dealing with them is difficult. It certainly is.

  676. #684 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Man, your chain is so easy to yank, it’s unbelievable. Just for lulz, what human rights violation did you think we’d perpetrated against you?

    I was called “little grad student”. If someone said “little faggot” there would be outrage, even though it’s exactly the same in moral terms. And no, I didn’t say it was a “human rights violation”, I said some commenters were being “stingy” about the human rights of people without PhDs.

    I’ll thank you not to play Chinese whispers, painting the wrong impression to those lazy enough to address me without reading my comments.

  677. #685 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Huh? I don’t get this impression from Therion at all. He’s bringing up some of the more reasonable issues in the intersection of physics and religion, and pointing out that dealing with them is difficult. It certainly is.

    Thank you, Sastra.

  678. #686 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Now that I think of it, wasn’t it ?like a pack of wild dogs??

    Yes! Thank you! I think it was! That was bothering me. Oh, and savages. We were all savages (which was the perfect insult from J the Imperialist).

  679. #687 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, stick to physics and forget religion. Religion is not scientific. One can mental masturbate about the intersection of science and religion all day, but that is all one can do. We’ve been there is prior posters. If you want to talk about it, you need a religious site, not an atheist site.

  680. #688 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    And I think the big problem with this search for the minimum requirements for the existence of consciousness is that it also uses consciousness as the solution for Fine Tuning. Apparently, something along the lines of “conscious intent” can exist inside of any physical parameters at all, or outside of all of them, and exercise choice. If so, then biology itself is completely unnecessary for conscious agency, and conscious life need not evolve. It was abundant enough before the universe began.

    Not really. Lots of people believe there’s fine-tuning of the cosmological constant, and are as staunch atheists as anyone. Your argument only applies to the godists who try to enlist the aid of fine-tuning.

    I’m not trying to defend deism. Even if there IS fine-tuning, I think the multiverse class of hypotheses is much more reasonable. But, construed in the most heavily diluted sense, deism is a purely scientific idea and we can have an intelligent conversation about it. There’s no reason for anyone to get angry and start throwing around words like “stupid”, as we do toward the theists, who believe the creator of the universe had himself tortured to forgive himself.

  681. #689 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I didn’t say it was a “human rights violation”, I said some commenters were being “stingy” about the human rights of people without PhDs.

    Indeed, your original statement is much worse than I first thought: if someone is ?being stingy with human rights?, they must be granting only a few, and withholding a number of them. Withholding a human right is, by definition, a human rights violation.

    Frankly, to raise human rights in the context of people taking the piss on a blog is so outrageously obscene on its face that it merits clarification beyond ?I didn’t mean genocide?, so I repeat: what human rights have we violated?

  682. #690 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, stick to physics and forget religion. Religion is not scientific. One can mental masturbate about the intersection of science and religion all day, but that is all one can do.

    I don’t care about religion. I’ve always been completely irreligious, but I never did care enough about religion to even know I was an atheist until several months ago. Typical posters on this blog care far more about religion than I do, I assure you.

  683. #691 Wowbagger, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I was called “little grad student”. If someone said “little faggot” there would be outrage, even though it’s exactly the same in moral terms.

    I don’t want to join in the pile-on (I couldn’t even if I wanted to; I’ve got no idea what any of you are on about) but I will point out that this is a pretty stupid thing to say, unless you know of places where grad students are physically assaulted and killed, prevented from marrying the consenting adult of their choice and generally discriminated against in society simply for being grad students.

    They aren’t the same thing, morally or otherwise.

    Just thought I’d point that out. Please feel free to return to discussing physics.

  684. #692 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Frankly, to raise human rights in the context of people taking the piss on a blog is so outrageously obscene on its face that it merits clarification beyond ?I didn’t mean genocide?, so I repeat: what human rights have we violated?

    Mocking someone on account of his race or sexuality is an infringement of human rights. The same applies to mocking someone on account of his not being a PhD holder. I don’t see what’s hard to understand about this. Now just let it go.

  685. #693 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I’m not trying to defend deism. Even if there IS fine-tuning, I think the multiverse class of hypotheses is much more reasonable. But, construed in the most heavily diluted sense, deism is a purely scientific idea and we can have an intelligent conversation about it.

    Please define what you mean by the following terms:

    deism
    fine tuning
    intelligent design
    Strong Anthropic Principle
    consciousness

    and explain how you specifically and the individuals you’ve mentioned are bringing these ideas (if they’re the same ideas) together into a coherent framework or argument. Until you do so, no real discussion can be had.

  686. #694 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, you are now reminding me of another anti-AGW troll PWL. He knowingly kept asking leading questions outside of our area of expertise. I kept trying to get him to go a sites that could answer his questions. His agenda would not allow that.
    Blake Stacey, who also has his own ScienceBlog, is a physicist and posts here occasionally. (In fact, there are several physicists who blog at SB.) While the rest of us know a little about QM, we are not specialists in the subject. So we can’t answer your questions. You need a blog with different expertise. Unless you have an agenda…

  687. #695 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    but I will point out that this is a pretty stupid thing to say, unless you know of places where grad students are physically assaulted and killed, prevented from marrying the consenting adult of their choice and generally discriminated against in society simply for being grad students.

    Leaving aside the immense stupidity of Therion’s equivalence, the fact that people who have PhDs necessarily had themselves to be grad students (some of us, for quite some time) in order to obtain the PhD makes his statement hilarious.

  688. #696 Wowbagger, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion wrote:

    Mocking someone on account of his race or sexuality is an infringement of human rights. The same applies to mocking someone on account of his not being a PhD holder.

    You’ve got to be shitting me. Did you really write this? Are you really likening comparative academic achievement to an unchangeable characteristic? Here’s a hint as to what the difference is – if you don’t have a PhD, you can get one; if you’re black or Asian or Hispanic or gay (or some combination of the above) you can’t fucking change.

    Seriously, stick to arguing physics. At least if you’re wrong about that you won’t be irritating – if not infuriating – as many people by demonstrating it.

  689. #697 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Mocking someone on account of his race or sexuality is an infringement of human rights. The same applies to mocking someone on account of his not being a PhD holder. I don’t see what’s hard to understand about this. Now just let it go.

    Holy shit. You can not be serious.

    While mocking someone for not having a PhD is silly in most aspects it has exactly zero comparison to mocking someone’s race or sexual identity. And mocking isn’t exactly always an infringement on their rights. Shitty yes, but infringement on their rights no.

    Good grief.

  690. #698 Wowbagger, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I think you guys broke Therion’s brain. No-one with their faculties complete could have written what he’s written in his last few posts.

  691. #699 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    mocking someone on account of his not being a PhD holder ? is an infringement of human rights

    *blink*

    First, that is unmitigated, unadulterated bullshit: there is no human right to be free of mockery, much less one based on level of educational attainment.

    Second, nobody mocked you for your lack of a PhD ? many, if not most, of us here don’t have PhDs, and nobody mocks us for the lack of one. People were mocking you for an entirely different reason, to which you remain oblivious.

     

    Now just let it go.

    It’s OK to admit that you over-reacted and that the mention of human rights was grossly inappropriate. Nobody would think less of you for it.

  692. #700 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Funny how I get rudely mocked for some bullshit, deeply illiberal reason, and now I’m the bad guy.

    I was speaking about the principle of using irrelevant labels and determinants to assess his right to opinion. I wasn’t implying that ridiculing PhD students is just as bad as homophobia or racism. Just let this drop. No matter what I say, you will twist my words and come up with some excuse to feign outrage.

  693. #701 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Nobody would think less of you for it.

    I don’t know, that came out of his brain, and that’s a little more than a brain fart.

  694. #702 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, maybe you need to find another, more hospitable blog. We dont’ give a shit about your feelings, and you will not receive any special treatment for being sensitive.

  695. #703 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    I was speaking about the principle of using irrelevant labels and determinants to assess his right to opinion. I wasn’t implying that ridiculing PhD students is just as bad as homophobia or racism. Just let this drop. No matter what I say, you will twist my words and come up with some excuse to feign outrage.

    um

    Mocking someone on account of his race or sexuality is an infringement of human rights. The same applies to mocking someone on account of his not being a PhD holder. I don’t see what’s hard to understand about this. Now just let it go.

    No need to twist that. I’ll let you use your words…

    Care to explain the infringement on human rights?

  696. #704 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    It’s OK to admit that you over-reacted and that the mention of human rights was grossly inappropriate. Nobody would think less of you for it.

    You’re trying to conjure the illusion that the concept of human rights is only used in connection with genocide or racism. In fact, it is used for a variety of purposes, some of global importances, and some relatively mundane. For instance, I saw on the news a while ago that inmates’ human rights are violated when on a few occasions they have to excrete in buckets rather than toilets.

  697. #705 Wowbagger, OM
    April 20, 2009

    No matter what I say, you will twist my words and come up with some excuse to feign outrage.

    Dude, there’s no twisting required to make your words outrageous. Seriously, stick to the physics – most of us don’t know if you’re right or wrong. Your bizarre concepts of rights, on the other hand, is something very different.

  698. #706 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I was speaking about the principle of using irrelevant labels and determinants to assess his right to opinion.

    *doubletake*

    This is from the person who spent hours arguing that I “should adopt a more deferential and less cocksure tone” towards certain physicists and then proceeded to lecture Josh, a professional scientist who is far more intelligent and knowledgeable than he, about his behavior.

  699. #707 Wowbagger, OM
    April 20, 2009

    For instance, I saw on the news a while ago that inmates’ human rights are violated when on a few occasions they have to excrete in buckets rather than toilets.

    So, now you’re saying that someone mocking you for your relative inexperience – which is still more, in terms of education, than most people get in a lifetime – is like being forced to crap into a bucket while dudes who enjoy whaling on you with sticks get to watch and laugh?

    Please go back to talking about physics. If for no other reason than as a favour to me – I want to go to bed but I can’t drag myself away from the pc on the offchance you’re going to top your last stupid statement with something ever more inane.

  700. #708 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    You’re trying to conjure the illusion that the concept of human rights is only used in connection with genocide or racism.

    No, there are many human rights, which is why I asked you which one you meant. I’m merely trying to get through your intransigent ?I’m never wrong? narcissism that ?mockery on grounds of not having a PhD? is not considered a human right by any sane person with the most rudimentary understanding of human rights.

    First rule of holes: when in one, stop digging.

  701. #709 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, there are some things where having experience helps. In defining what is and isn’t scientific for example. There are some academics (usually PhD’s) who post regularly here, and the rest of us are a smattering of education from still in high school to PhD’s in industry.
    If you are going to continue to post here, realize you will get called out on stupidity, and will be mocked for outlandish ideas. If you can’t handle that, find a more hospitable blog to posit your ideas.

  702. #710 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    So, now you’re saying that someone mocking you for your relative inexperience – which is still more, in terms of education, than most people get in a lifetime – is like being forced to crap into a bucket while dudes who enjoy whaling on you with sticks get to watch and laugh?

    We’re talking about law-breakers shitting in buckets on a few occasions while the toilets were out of order. Some have seen fit to call that a “violation of human rights”. I’m therefore going to assume that “human rights” are used in far more mundane ways than in in connection with extreme crimes like genocide.

    Anyway, once again people are trying to dodge the actual substance of the discussion by huffing and puffing over trivial trifles. You’re bored because there are no creationists for you to vent against.

  703. #711 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    And I’ll note that this tendency that I’ve seen – especially lately – among certain physicists, economists, and philosophers (or grad students in these fields) to think that their discipline is the only relevant one in which to answer these big questions is nuts. These questions involve numerous disciplines, and even though as a graduate student and scholar you’re often pushed to be a disciplinary specialist, you should push against this to appreciate the value of insights from and research in a variety of disciplines rather than dismissing people in them as non-experts.

  704. #712 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    You know, academia is full of jobs that you can’t get without a PhD. Who knew that this was a systematic human rights violation? Apparently we’re discriminating against the unqualified.

  705. #713 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    We’ll have to petition Navi Pillay to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Mockery for Not Having a Doctorate.

  706. #714 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Anyway, once again people are trying to dodge the actual substance of the discussion by huffing and puffing over trivial trifles.

    Maybe you are irrate we aren’t lettting you control the discussion. In fact, you haven’t thrown out any ideas lately, just whined. Maybe we don’t want to discuss what you want to discuss. Then you need to find another blog where they do want to discuss it. Personally, I see nothing but woo in what you want to discuss.

  707. #715 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    people are trying to dodge the actual substance of the discussion by huffing and puffing over trivial trifles.

    No, we think that human rights are important and your trivialisation of them is a substantial discussion in its own right.

  708. #716 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    These questions involve numerous disciplines, and even though as a graduate student and scholar you’re often pushed to be a disciplinary specialist, you should push against this to appreciate the value of insights from and research in a variety of disciplines rather than dismissing people in them as non-experts.

    I am not the one being dismissive. All along my attitude has been the exact opposite of that. I’m quite willing to moderate or retract the few intemperate dismissive remarks I made. You won’t do that, because you’re an unabashed dogmatist.

  709. #717 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, either posit your ideas or go away. You will get banned by PZ if you continue to whine like you are doing. We don’t like whiners.

  710. #718 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I’m quite willing to moderate or retract the few intemperate dismissive remarks I made.

    Like trivialising human rights?

  711. #719 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    You’re trying to conjure the illusion that the concept of human rights is only used in connection with genocide or racism.

    I may have missed anyone trying to do that, so could you please point that out?

  712. #720 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    He definitely is reminding me of PWL, as he is hung up on tone so he doesn’t have to provide evidence for his ideas. Therion, check the dungeon. PWL is there.

  713. #721 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I am not the one being dismissive. All along my attitude has been the exact opposite of that.

    *

    “Deism” of some sort isn’t an obviously absurd position. If it turns out there’s fine-tuning, then as far as we know we need to turn to either multiverse or intelligent design. This is the province of physicists. The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    It obviously doesn’t matter whether someone is an “atheist” or a “deist”. Neither believes in a god that intervenes in human affairs. The atheist and the deist differ only on the question of the origin of the Universe. This is a scientific or philosophical matter of contention, and, let’s face it, most of you aren’t really interested in this. How many of you have put significant time and effort into gaining familiarity with concepts in cosmology? Not even one percent of you, I’d imagine.

    ***

    I’m quite willing to moderate or retract the few intemperate dismissive remarks I made.

    Then do so.

    You won’t do that, because you’re an unabashed dogmatist.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never declared that anyone’s ideas are without or of lesser value because they are not in a particular field.

    You still haven’t defined any terms or made or reproduced any coherent argument about deism or intelligent design.

  714. #722 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    I’m speaking of Ichthyic.

    Ahh…okay, then.

    Well, for a community that styles itself a group of compassionate liberals,

    That’s another blanket statement about the Pharyngula population that I suspect you’ll find a bit difficult to substantiate.

    you sure are pretty stingy about the human rights of those of us that don’t hold PhDs. Of course you wouldn’t say “little faggot”, even though that’s on the exact same moral footing as “little grad student”.

    Dude, you seriously need to get over yourself. Besides the fact that I think your “human rights” comparison is ridiculous, the point is not that you lack a PhD. We all did at one time, and most people don’t have one. So what? That wasn’t at all the point. The point was that while you freely admit to having not spent much time in the trenches, you simultaneously have no problem making unsubstantiated pronouncements and simply dismissing points raised by others (with I might add, a fair degree of condescension). And you do this all while giving off the distinct impression that you might not actually know the difference between “hypothesis” and “theory.” I used the phrasing I did because you apparently have yet to learn one of the more important lessons of grad school: as a scientist, the more convinced you are that you are right, the more likely it is that you’re not. And also because you’re being a pompous jackass. Your early steps into this thread were marked by a bunch of authoritative, hero-worship laden cockswaddle about who got to form an opinion about what, interlaced with vague insults regarding the intelligence of pretty much everyone here. And you haven’t really backed away from this puffed-up arrogance. Sorry, but you earned a smack, especially with trying to play the “I’m the serious one in this thread” card. And if you really see that comment as anything but a smack, then I suggest you develop a thicker skin. Otherwise, your future in science is likely to smart a bit. You’ve been argumenative from the get-go, and as far as I can tell from the comments, you leaned toward calling people stupid very early on. You’ve got a lot of gall to try and play the persecution card now.

  715. #723 Sastra
    April 20, 2009

    Therion #688 wrote:

    Lots of people believe there’s fine-tuning of the cosmological constant, and are as staunch atheists as anyone.

    Like others, I’m having problems understanding precisely what you mean by using Fine Tuning in this context. My understanding is that, by definition, it involves the conscious choice or actions of agency.

    Of course, I may be conflating Fine Tuning with the “Fine-Tuning Argument,” which reasons from the proposed fact that life can only exist inside narrow physical parameters, to the conclusion that therefore some Aware Agency from Outside of Space and Time chose to tweak these cosmic parameters to get the unlikely result of life. Or, perhaps, that the universe is simply a giant Thought.

    What would be the opposite of Fine Tuning, in the sense you’re using? Believing that life could occur under many conditions? Believing that life occurs only under very narrow conditions, but the existence of these conditions are best explained as a brute fact, or as the result of chance and necessity? Maybe if I understood the alternatives, I could figure out where the totally naturalistic, non-theistic version of Fine Tuning comes in.

    But, construed in the most heavily diluted sense, deism is a purely scientific idea and we can have an intelligent conversation about it.

    I’m not going to say that we can’t consider deism scientifically, or have an intelligent conversation about it — but then I’d say the same thing about theism. What is “heavily diluted” deism? I don’t think deism can be diluted so much that it loses all aspects of agency, mind, awareness, consciousness, values, emotions, and intention – because when you do that, you’re really talking about something else. And, once you have mind-like attributes existing apart from any dependency on physical instantiation, then invoking fine-tuning as necessary for their existence, is unnecessary.

  716. #724 jennyxyzzy
    April 20, 2009

    I’m a bit late to the party, but I have always found the fine-tuning argument to be fascinating…

    The thing that I have never understood about fine-tuning is that it doesn’t take into account the historical development of science. As time goes by, we eliminate more and more of these constants from our understanding of the universe. Some physicists even hope to be able to remove them completely, with a grand unified theory. What happens if we succeed? Fine-tuning would disappear, because the likelihood of having the constants that we have would be exactly 1, given the laws of physics.

    The argument for fine-tuning is hence the logical equivalent of stating that we will never find a grand unified theory that explains all physical constants. That’s a pretty big call.

  717. #725 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    And also because you’re being a pompous jackass. Your early steps into this thread were marked by a bunch of authoritative, hero-worship laden cockswaddle about who got to form an opinion about what, interlaced with vague insults regarding the intelligence of pretty much everyone here. And you haven’t really backed away from this puffed-up arrogance.

    Lying bullshit. The one thing I said which comes anywhere close to that was my statement that sociologists, biologists and other non-physicists aren’t “qualified” to speak with confidence about debates in cosmology concerning the origin of the universe. I was wrong in saying that; I should have said “trained” rather than qualified.

    (Brief aside. A while ago I recall lurking in a thread in which SC made the claim that Larry Summers is not qualified to mak certain pronouncements. I have no opinion on Summers or his remarks, but it seems hypocritical to assume sociologists have a domain of expertise and physicists don’t.)

    The charge of “hero worship” is also very silly. I cited the opinions of a number of respectable physicists. How is this wrong? I’m quite capable of giving solely my own opinions, but I don’t thing those have quite the same weight. The first time I gave my independent opinion about something in physics, SC said “Yeah, like anyone cares.”

  718. #726 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I am not the one being dismissive. All along my attitude has been the exact opposite of that.

    Hmmm… let’s see now…

    This is the province of physicists. The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    How many of you have put significant time and effort into gaining familiarity with concepts in cosmology? Not even one percent of you, I’d imagine.

    These guys were discovering the laws of nature in their mid-twenties, whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists.

    My point was exactly what I said was my point? This clique has the annoying habit of acting as if everyone not part of it is an idiot.

    That’s patent bullshit, sorry.

    In this thread, though, the rampant hubris was becoming obnoxious, so I felt it necessary to break the bad news.

    That’s because some of you insist on repeating the same old slogans and buzzwords, all of which happen to be irrelevant in this case.

    If you understood quantum mechanics, you would be able to see this better,

    Read some books on modern physics, because you don’t have a clue.

    you really don’t know much about the physics of the past few decades.

    You have proven yourself an ignoramus. I suggest you go read some books.

    I base my claims of ignorance on lack of knowledge you’ve conspicuously demonstrated in this very thread.

    shut the fuck up.

    Your pathetic attempt at dick-waving doesn’t impress me, sorry.

    This one’s here for the irony value:

    You’re incapable of having a conversation with me without swearing at me repeatedly, so I’m not going to continue.

    Now enough of this bullshit.

    Oh, piss off. I said I’m an atheist. Not my fault you’re too stupid to understand any argument that’s more subtle than vilifying anyone who doesn’t share your position.

    Thanks, you’ve proven you haven’t the first fucking clue just what on Earth you’re talking about.

    What a simplistic, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, ignoramus Neanderthal dullard this Nerd of Redhead is.

    Your notion is clearly preposterous.

    Not only wrong and ignorant, but hilariously wrong and ignorant. What a schoolboy howler.

    To a professional physicist, to whom the rest of us are told we must defer:

    To say it is “very easy” to avoid mystical interpretations of quantum mechanics like the strong anthropic principle is simply ridiculous.

    Oh, enough of this childish bullshit.

    No, sorry, you can’t solve the foundational problems of quantum mechanics with a frivolous little observation like that.

    Your description of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics is amusingly “pop-sci”.

    This is too tiresome for me to persist. This is a community of fucking animals.

    I meant they’re not qualified to utter definitive pronouncements.

    Fuck off

    Lying bullshit.

     

    No, not the tiniest hint of being dismissive or condescending

  719. #727 heddle
    April 20, 2009

    jenneyxyzzy,

    Fine-tuning would disappear, because the likelihood of having the constants that we have would be exactly 1, given the laws of physics.

    Fine tuning would not go away. If habitability is indeed sensitive to the expansion rate of the universe, then it is sensitive regardless of whether that rate has probability 10-120 or probability 1.

    What the likelihood 1 case would mean, in my opinion, is the best possible scenario for the IDers–who nevertheless (rather stupidly, I would say) trumpet the 10-120 type scenario. Because fine-tuning (habitability is sensitive) plus unit probability means that habitability is built into the fabric of spacetime (i.e., the laws of physics). We theists would declare total victory.

  720. #728 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    Sastra @ 723,

    I’m talking about fine-tuning in the technical sense. A theory requires fine-tuning if it doesn’t tell you how to acquire the values of certain constants. At one extreme, some physicists believe the constants are all fixed and all will be able to be derived once we have a complete theory. At the other, some other physicists believe the cosmological constant, the speed of light, Planck’s constant, the universal gravitional constant, and the charge of the proton, are all just “incidental” and you could get a perfectly sensible universe if they took any value in a wide interval of values.

    Emmet @ 726,

    You are, of course, repeatedly quoting me out of context. You give no mention of the posts I was responding to, which were far more condescending, vulgar and insulting.

  721. #729 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion,

    Though not your intention, you come across very clearly as a pompous, arrogant, condescending, dismissive, narcissistic, childish asshole with a total inability to acknowledge even the grossest error unless it is self-identified.

    Your failure to consider that you might be doing anything wrong tells us, very clearly, one of two things: either you really are a complete fuckwad, or you are completely oblivious to the tone of your own writing.

    FWIW, you should give very careful consideration to the tone of your initial posts ? my experience is that it never ends well for posters who start a thread with two or more condescending posts (note the tone of your first 3): it is like blood in the water, the Pharyngula sharks will come to the feeding frenzy around the bleeding troll, and your substantive points are never heard above the screams.

    Your choice.

  722. #730 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Lying bullshit. The one thing I said which comes anywhere close to that was my statement that sociologists, biologists and other non-physicists aren’t “qualified” to speak with confidence about debates in cosmology concerning the origin of the universe. I was wrong in saying that; I should have said “trained” rather than qualified.

    The questions we’ve been discussing about life and consciousness are certainly something people in other scientific fields are both qualified and trained to comment on. Arguments about deism can fall down or run into problems on any number of grounds relevant to any number of scientific subfields. Intelligent people generally are capable of assessing arguments and evidence if these are presented. You haven’t presented a coherent argument nor any evidence. In fact, you’ve said that you aren’t convinced by the arguments to which you allude. If you have a point other than asserting that people here aren’t qualified to be unconvinced, I’m at a loss as to what it is.

    (Brief aside. A while ago I recall lurking in a thread in which SC made the claim that Larry Summers is not qualified to mak certain pronouncements. I have no opinion on Summers or his remarks, but it seems hypocritical to assume sociologists have a domain of expertise and physicists don’t.)

    I have never assumed any such thing. Please link to the specific comment and I’ll walk you though it in context. And I’m not saying physicists don’t have a domain of expertise; I’m saying the question of deism goes beyond physics.

    The charge of “hero worship” is also very silly. I cited the opinions of a number of respectable physicists. How is this wrong?

    You haven’t even really done this. You’ve alluded to them having some arguments about deism and intelligent design that we here are allegedly unequipped to deal with. I linked to a statement by Dyson. You haven’t even done that.

    I’m quite capable of giving solely my own opinions, but I don’t thing those have quite the same weight.

    Mentioning people’s names has no weight at all.

    The first time I gave my independent opinion about something in physics, SC said “Yeah, like anyone cares.”

    All along, your position has been: “I am a semi-trained physicist. You are not, and therefore not capable of rendering valid opinions on the subject of deism. I can say that I don’t think they don’t have a solid argument, but you can’t, even if your opinion happens to agree with mine, because you (I assume) lack the adequate training in my field. Here’s my opinion. Yours is worthless.”

    If you want to discuss the matter intelligently, why don’t you try articulating Freeman Dyson’s argument for deism, spelling it out clearly and defining your terms, then explaining what you find convincing and what you don’t? (Or just dropping it altogether, since you’re not actually arguing for any of these positions – merely arguing that our ideas about them are invalid and uninformed.)

  723. #731 Africangenesis
    April 20, 2009

    Heddle,

    The constants that would impact whether heavier elements can be stable and whether chemical compounds can form would also be relevant. A unified theory where the constants are sensibly derived rather than just arbitrarily input, would undermine the fine tuning arguments.

  724. #732 heddle
    April 20, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    A unified theory where the constants are sensibly derived rather than just arbitrarily input, would undermine the fine tuning arguments.

    No it wouldn’t.

    Again, be careful what you mean by fine-tuning. The agnostic definition is that habitability is sensitive to the values of constants it says nothing at all about their probabilities. For example, the wiki definition of a fine-tuned universe, which ain’t bad:

    The fine-tuned Universe is the idea that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can only occur when certain universal physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different the universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is presently understood.

    See, it’s all about sensitivity and nothing at all about the probability of the constants.

    IDers assume the probabilities are low and assume there is only one universe, and then make a religious argument. That’s ID on top of fine tuning, not fine tuning. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  725. #733 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    I wrote:

    And also because you’re being a pompous jackass. Your early steps into this thread were marked by a bunch of authoritative, hero-worship laden cockswaddle about who got to form an opinion about what, interlaced with vague insults regarding the intelligence of pretty much everyone here. And you haven’t really backed away from this puffed-up arrogance.

    Therion replied:

    Lying bullshit. The one thing I said which comes anywhere close to that was my statement that sociologists, biologists and other non-physicists aren’t “qualified” to speak with confidence about debates in cosmology concerning the origin of the universe. I was wrong in saying that; I should have said “trained” rather than qualified.

    Indeed?
    This is what you wrote (comment #84):

    The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    This is not you being authoritative regarding who gets to comment on what? Really…? Incidentally, you never wrote anything about “speaking with confidence” in comment #84. You said “qualified to comment.” On a blog…

    This is what you wrote (comment #254):

    but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here.

    This is not being insulting with respect to the intelligence of pretty much everyone here? Seriously…? Also a twinge of hero-worship here. You use people’s names as if they alone are supposed to carry weight and don’t bother to cite where they said what they said, because it’s apparently not supposed to matter.

    This is what you wrote (comment #254):

    These guys were discovering the laws of nature in their mid-twenties, whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists.

    This is not being arrogant? This isn’t being insulting? There’s no hero-worship?

    This is what you wrote (comment #263):

    That’s patent bullshit, sorry. This is no different from any other community in that the appraisals of idiocy here are almost always entirely subjective.

    Authoritative statements interlaced with vague insults of intelligence (my interpretation, obviously).

    This is what you wrote (comment #414):

    My point, clearly, is that they are brilliant men, who know far more science than you, and are not to be trifled with.

    This is not being authoritative and insulting? Here also is hero-worship. There is simply nothing in science (no theory, no fact, and certainly no one) that is “not to be trifled with.” The whole point of science is to trifle. For fuck’s sake that’s what we do. No scientist is above that, regardless of what they’ve done.

    As we’re now in the mid-700s of the comments, #414 could be argued as not being early in the thread. So we can remove that one if you insist. Regardless though, where exactly was it that I was lying in that paragraph?

  726. #734 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    You haven’t even really done this. You’ve alluded to them having some arguments about deism and intelligent design that we here are allegedly unequipped to deal with. I linked to a statement by Dyson. You haven’t even done that.

    I didn’t give references, because I thought it was fairly well-known that a number of respectable physicists like to toy with some sort of deism. I mean, I’ve known this since I was about twelve. It’s such an elementary fact that I didn’t think I’d have to corroborate it. If you want specific writing on this, see for instance The Mind of God by Paul Davies.

    If you want to discuss the matter intelligently, why don’t you try articulating Freeman Dyson’s argument for deism, spelling it out clearly and defining your terms, then explaining what you find convincing and what you don’t? (Or just dropping it altogether, since you’re not actually arguing for any of these positions – merely arguing that our ideas about them are invalid and uninformed.)

    It’s boring me now and I don’t want to drag it on. My point was that you should be less arrogant and think twice before using words like “stupid” to describe a fairly popular theory held by experts in the most relevant discipline. On the basis of what you’ve said so far, I can see that you probably don’t even understand the basics of quantum mechanics, the meaning of a space-time manifold, and various other concepts which feature prominently in the arguments of so-called “woo physicists”. If you can’t even understand them, I fail to see why you should be able to legitimately scoff condescendingly at their ideas.

    In fact, ideas such as the strong anthropic principle (the notion that humans are required for the existence of the universe) aren’t as “stupid” and “ridiculous” as they first appear. If you understood quantum mechanics, you would see this plainly.

  727. #735 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    There’s all the space in the world between “Life as we know it would not exist if some of the fundamental constants varied very slightly” and “The constants were tuned to produce life as we know it”. The first is not especially problematic; the second is a huge leap beyond the evidence and smack into the domain of We’re Special So There.

  728. #736 jennyxyzzy
    April 20, 2009

    Heddle,

    I’m not really sure that you can talk about ‘tuning’ when a certain value for a constant is imposed. It’s a bit like talking about tuning a light to be ‘on’. We don’t, we just say that we switched the light on. An even better analogy would be to talk about tuning the existance of a wall in your house – the wall just is, it doesn’t need to be tuned.

    You seem to have a very non-orthodox interpretation of what fine-tuning is all about. Fine-tuning is about whether or not habitability is highly sensitive to changes in the physical constants or not, but it implicitly includes the idea that the physical constants could vary from those that we have found by experiment in our own universe. At the moment this would seem to be the case, we know of no physical limitations on the values that these constants could take.

    Think of it this way – if we develop a theory of physics that puts a limitation on the value of Planck’s constant, such that it could only ever take one of two values, we wouldn’t be talking about finetuning for that particular constant. We’d simply accept that there’s a reasonably high probability of observing the value of Planck’s constant that we have found. Or alternatively, think about the speed of light. We don’t talk about it being finely-tuned, as is derived, using Maxwell’s laws, from other physical constants. It has to take that value

  729. #737 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    April 20, 2009

    Let’s see, I do not have a PhD. In fact, I never bothered getting a masters. I have been happy with my bachelors degree. I submit that I am a second class person and am ready to be mocked by all persons who have higher degrees.

  730. #738 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, seriously, just drop it and walk away.

    I met Paul Davies at Arizona State when they hired him there. He was arguing that we should nuke a hole in Mars to see if there’s any life below the crust. I argued that (a) nuking other planets to find life on them risks giving you the answer (not any more), (b) we wouldn’t like it much if alien biologists did it to us, and most importantly (c) we already know how to nuke things, whereas learning to drill and build on another planet is a more useful skill in the long term. He told me I was being sentimental and that he wanted a result in his own lifetime, so nukes away.

    Let us say that “Paul Davies thinks so” is never going to count as a recommendation for any idea, in my book.

    And for the love of all that’s merciful cut this “if you understood QM you’d see I was right” crap. I do understand QM. You’re not right. Quit whining and learn before you try to teach. Or is that a rights violation too?

  731. #739 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    I didn’t give references, because I thought it was fairly well-known that a number of respectable physicists like to toy with some sort of deism. I mean, I’ve known this since I was about twelve. It’s such an elementary fact that I didn’t think I’d have to corroborate it. If you want specific writing on this, see for instance The Mind of God by Paul Davies.

    I wasn’t asking you for references, you fucking clod. I was asking for clearly formulated arguments for deism.

    It’s boring me now and I don’t want to drag it on. My point was that you should be less arrogant and think twice before using words like “stupid” to describe a fairly popular theory held by experts in the most relevant discipline.

    Again, you feel no need to refer to any specific arguments or evidence – just stick with arguments from popularity and authority.

    On the basis of what you’ve said so far, I can see that you probably don’t even understand the basics of quantum mechanics, the meaning of a space-time manifold, and various other concepts which feature prominently in the arguments of so-called “woo physicists”. If you can’t even understand them, I fail to see why you should be able to legitimately scoff condescendingly at their ideas.

    What ideas? I was referring to religious arguments, based on the fact that I was answering your comment about “deism” and “intelligent design.” Since you never defined your terms or specified whose ideas and what specific ideas you were talking about, you can’t say about what I was scoffing condescendingly.

    In fact, ideas such as the strong anthropic principle (the notion that humans are required for the existence of the universe) aren’t as “stupid” and “ridiculous” as they first appear. If you understood quantum mechanics, you would see this plainly.

    My response to that particular idea was: “Please.” I stand by that. But you’ve shown no relevance of this to deism, as far as I can tell, so it’s totally irrelevant to the discussion.

    And if you’re not going to specify the comment you’re referring to about Larry Summers or rescind your mischaracterization, you’re a lying jerk.

  732. #740 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    I wrote:

    The atheist biologists, sociologists etc. on this blog are not qualified to comment on this.

    Josh wrote:

    This is not you being authoritative regarding who gets to comment on what? Really…? Incidentally, you never wrote anything about “speaking with confidence” in comment #84. You said “qualified to comment.” On a blog…

    I already said I shouldn’t have used the word “qualified”. I should have used “trained”. If you think it’s condescending for me to deny that it’s reasonable for people with no training in physics to confidently hold forth on matters of physics…well, then I don’t know what to say.

    I wrote:

    but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here.

    Josh wrote:

    This is not being insulting with respect to the intelligence of pretty much everyone here? Seriously…? Also a twinge of hero-worship here. You use people’s names as if they alone are supposed to carry weight and don’t bother to cite where they said what they said, because it’s apparently not supposed to matter.

    It’s insulting to say that Freeman Dyson, a mathematical prodigy, a pioneer of quantum electrodynamics, and one of the world’s great scientists, is “massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than [SC] and anyone else here”? I think you have an awful high opinion of Pharyngula posters. I don’t share it. As I said earlier (rightly), Dyson, Einstein, and the other physicists I mentioned, were discovering the laws of physics in their mid-twenties. In contrast, the main intellectual pastime of many regulars on this blog appears to be making fun out of creationists. Noting this glaringly obvious asymmetry is not “hero worship”.

    I observe that, like Emmet, you’ve conveniently ommitted all reference to the nasty posts I was responding to.

  733. #741 Ken Cope
    April 20, 2009

    I was asking for clearly formulated arguments for deism.

    OK, howzabout this one then? Were it not for deism, how else could we account for where all that panspermia is coming from?

    OK, I didn’t say it was a tasteful argument…

  734. #742 JeffreyD
    April 20, 2009

    Wow, Therion, you are being way “condescending, vulgar and insulting” in your attack on people for being “condescending, vulgar and insulting” to you. As I stated earlier, I read this entire thread before my first post and you were at least condescending and insulting if not vulgar from the the start. You were not taken out of context, nor where you attacked without warning and your rights are in now way violated by being mocked and insulted.

    A long time ago, during crackergate, I wrote an apology to those who just could not handle what was going on at the time. It is here, http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/fyi.php#comment-980398 #266 if you have any interest. Just change cracker and catholic church to QM/physics and deism to anything you like on the list. The words and subjects do not repeat do not all apply in this case, but the sense of it should come across to you. You do not have the right not to be offended when you come on an open blog and spray your partially formed thoughts. You do not have the right to be offended by bad language. You do not have the right to be taken seriously, that must be earned.

    You started off badly here. Frankly, your early posts reminded me of someone in grad school trying to impress the girls with psuedo mystic stuff, draped in science. It was decades ago, but I do remember doing that type of thing. Bull sessions are fun, but they are not science. I am a historian by training and those bull sessions were not history or sociology or pysch or biology then either, they were after hours fun. You seem to have the common failing of thinking that being some sort of maverick means you have access to a greater truth, or vice versa. I could be wrong about that last part. If I am, no apologies because no harm done.

    For now, you have committed the ultimate killfile sin in my book, you are whining. Goodbye, fuck off and farewell. (Plonk!)

    Ciao y’all

  735. #743 Tybo
    April 20, 2009

    So Ayn Rand made it on the list…

    The Churchlands didn’t make it on the list…

    What the hell?

  736. #744 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    And if you’re not going to specify the comment you’re referring to about Larry Summers or rescind your mischaracterization, you’re a lying jerk.

    What a dishonest little serpent is this SC. She must remember her comments about Larry Summers full well, and is hoping that I won’t take the trouble to dig out this expired thread. Here are just two appropriate quotes of SC, found with a moment’s glance:

    Bullshit. I’m a social scientist who doesn’t even work in the area of gender and I have vastly more knowledge about this subject than he does. What are his academic credentials in that subfield?

    No, it isn’t. You’re defining “relevant” extremely broadly. He did not have the requisite knowledge to make the claims he did about sex differences, as he himself admitted. End of story.

    So apparently one requries “credentials” to make claims about sex differences, but not theoretical physics and cosmology.

  737. #745 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    a number of respectable physicists like to toy with some sort of deism

    is saying nothing. Nothing.

    It’s insulting to say that Freeman Dyson, a mathematical prodigy, a pioneer of quantum electrodynamics, and one of the world’s great scientists, is “massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than [SC] and anyone else here”? I think you have an awful high opinion of Pharyngula posters.

    Of course it’s fucking insulting to say, whether or not it’s true, and you have no evidence that it is. And it was totally obnoxious. But of course your entire point was to insult people here – you never had a substantive argument to begin with. And your arrogance by association is pathetic.

    (And Dyson, I’ll note again, appears to be becoming a climate crackpot, writing some paintcurlingly ignorant and stupid things about agriculture and biomass.)

  738. #746 Ken Cope
    April 20, 2009

    Not that SC needs any help, but to make my above point with less snark, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that deism offers no more to cosmology than does panspermia to abiogenesis, nor mysterianism to consciousness. “Because of the unexplainium” is not a scientific stance.

  739. #747 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    But of course your entire point was to insult people here – you never had a substantive argument to begin with.

    I think it’s pretty clear that his objective is not to communicate, enlighten, or discuss, but to condescend to us to make himself feel clever, which (together with his apparent fundamental misinterpretation of the AP, ?I’m right because I say so? attitude, and failure to explain anything) suggests that he probably doesn’t understand this stuff at all well himself, isn’t nearly as clever as he’d like to be, and is pathologically insecure about being found out, maybe because he thinks the other guys in his group are considerably smarter than him.

    This too is a phase he’ll grow out of.

  740. #748 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Therion, do you have a real argument with evidence, or just vague ideas of some connection? If the former, trot out the exposition. If the latter, think about it for a few days, then be ready to present your argument, or stay away. I get the feeling you wanted to put out a vague idea and let us take it from there. That won’t happen.

  741. #749 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    You started off badly here. Frankly, your early posts reminded me of someone in grad school trying to impress the girls with psuedo mystic stuff, draped in science.

    Too lazy to read my posts, or are you just so much of a sheep that you go on solely the popular rendition of them? I never said anything that’s in the slightest “pseudo-mystic”, as I have made clear again and again.

    You are a fucking imbecile, as is everyone else he who accuses me of supporting mysticism. Nothing I said about deism was anything different from things Richard Dawkins has said on record. For instance, he said “A serious case could be made for the deist god”. “Not one that I’d accept”, he clarified, just as I have clarified repeatedly in this thread.

    You’re such zealots that even the mildest defense of deism — not even so much of a defense, but more of a case that you shouldn’t wave physicists’ theories off with a few tired slogans — is sufficient to cause uproar. Presumably it’s because you have nothing apart from your atheism. You’re such empty, pathetic, miserable creatures that if we strip away your “atheist” sense of belonging…the game is up, isn’t it? You realize that you’re just utter mediocrities, so you desperately cling on to the sense of smugness and superiority found on this blog. Get back on “creationist watch”, you fucking morons.

  742. #750 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    What a dishonest little serpent is this SC. She must remember her comments about Larry Summers full well, and is hoping that I won’t take the trouble to dig out this expired thread.

    Of course I remember them. I asked you to cite the specific comment, and you didn’t in your next response, so I mentioned it again. How the fuck does that signal hoping that you wouldn’t take the trouble? How did you ever get into a fucking graduate program of any sort being this stupid? (And the thread hasn’t “expired.” I just left a lengthy comment on it like yesterday.)

    So apparently one requries “credentials” to make claims about sex differences, but not theoretical physics and cosmology.

    You’re an idiot. I believe that the contention was made that his remarks were drawn from his field of expertise. (The interesting thing is that this was presumed because he’s an economist and had written about labor markets – apparently this covers everything related to women in science, just like physics subsumes everything related to the life sciences.) In fact, he made arguments completely beyond his knowledge and which lacked a scientific foundation, which he admitted. I linked to an article containing some of the relevant research by people who do work in that subfield, which I do not (MAJeff would probably have much more to say about this). The context of his statements – a public speech as the head administrator of a university – also meant that he shouldn’t be presenting unconsidered and unsupported arguments in subdisciplines in which he has no knowledge. There’s a responsibility in that context and position that doesn’t apply in blog comments.

    And I never said physicists – which you, to be blunt, are not yet – don’t have a domain of expertise in physics. I said that the matter of deism is not exclusive to physics or cosmology. Of course, we can’t know any of your heroes’ arguments unless you present them.

  743. #751 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    You realize that you’re just utter mediocrities, so you desperately cling on to the sense of smugness and superiority found on this blog.

    Projection, much?

  744. #752 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 20, 2009

    Posted by: Therion| April 20, 2009 1:07 PM

    You started off badly here. Frankly, your early posts reminded me of someone in grad school trying to impress the girls with psuedo mystic stuff, draped in science.

    Too lazy to read my posts, or are you just so much of a sheep that you go on solely the popular rendition of them?

    Posted by: JeffreyD | April 20, 2009 12:40 PM

    Wow, Therion, you are being way “condescending, vulgar and insulting” in your attack on people for being “condescending, vulgar and insulting” to you. As I stated earlier, I read this entire thread before my first post and you were at least condescending and insulting if not vulgar from the the start. You were not taken out of context, nor where you attacked without warning and your rights are in now way violated by being mocked and insulted.

    Jesus Fucking Bloody Christ on a stick, just who is too fucking lazy to read everything that a person posts. Therion, did you just happen to skip over JefferyD’s first paragraph? Or are you so much of an asshole that you ignored it so you can make yet an other baseless charge?

  745. #753 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    I think it’s pretty clear that his objective is not to communicate, enlighten, or discuss, but to condescend to us to make himself feel clever, which (together with his apparent fundamental misinterpretation of the AP, ?I’m right because I say so? attitude, and failure to explain anything) suggests that he probably doesn’t understand this stuff at all well himself, isn’t nearly as clever as he’d like to be, and is pathologically insecure about being found out, maybe because he thinks the other guys in his group are considerably smarter than him.

    Pretty amusing coming from someone speaking for a community legendary for its habitual self-righteous ridicule and self-promotion. In almost every single thread, someone is being ridiculed. At least I don’t make a hobby out of this.

  746. #754 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Of course I remember them. I asked you to cite the specific comment,

    And I’ll add that when you mentioned it I thought that you were talking about his remarks about pollution-dumping, which were discussed at much greater length.

    Nothing I said about deism was anything different from things Richard Dawkins has said on record. For instance, he said “A serious case could be made for the deist god”. “Not one that I’d accept”, he clarified, just as I have clarified repeatedly in this thread.

    But how can he have a valid opinion if he’s just a mere biologist? Questions, questions.

    Anyway, this jerk isn’t interested in doing anything other than namedropping and wanking.

    You’re such zealots that even the mildest defense of deism — not even so much of a defense, but more of a case that you shouldn’t wave physicists’ theories off with a few tired slogans — is sufficient to cause uproar. Presumably it’s because you have nothing apart from your atheism. You’re such empty, pathetic, miserable creatures that if we strip away your “atheist” sense of belonging…the game is up, isn’t it? You realize that you’re just utter mediocrities, so you desperately cling on to the sense of smugness and superiority found on this blog. Get back on “creationist watch”, you fucking morons.

    Does your university offer counseling services?

  747. #755 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Pretty amusing coming from someone speaking for a community legendary for its habitual self-righteous ridicule and self-promotion.

    We’re legendary!

    In almost every single thread, someone is being ridiculed. At least I don’t make a hobby out of this.

    I’m so glad Icthyic’s not around. With his hypersensitivity to projection, this could cause permanent damage.

  748. #756 Therion
    April 20, 2009

    And I never said physicists – which you, to be blunt, are not yet – don’t have a domain of expertise in physics. I said that the matter of deism is not exclusive to physics or cosmology. Of course, we can’t know any of your heroes’ arguments unless you present them.

    I never claimed any expertise. If it weren’t for that earlier bullshit when someone demanded my paper count, you wouldn’t know whether I study physics or am a milkman.

    Anyway, I think my point has been proven to my satisfaction. I noted at first that this emphasis on the term “atheist” was peculiar, given that many atheists are totally indistinguishable from agnostics and other irreligious people, except only in their opinion on a topic of physics (the origin of the universe), which I don’t believe many self-professed atheists even care about. The subsequent turmoil confirmed that it’s all about “atheist self-identity”. There’s no other explanation for that Lord of the Flies degree of aggression. If your self-identity is threatened, you pounce like wild animals.

  749. #757 Sastra
    April 20, 2009

    Having had to deal over time with numerous hyper-sensitive New Agers and Christians, I have seen too many rational, scientific arguments deflected and dismissed with complaints about the “tone” or “attitude” of the person making the argument. I’ve subsequently adopted the stance that I do not give a flying fuck about tone and attitude, and throw it off my radar, and try not to bring it up.

    SC is fine. Therion is fine. Everyone on Pharyngula is okay. I don’t care if they’re really all blood-sucking werewolves with vocabularies which would get them thrown out of biker bars. Unless the discussion is actually on ‘framing’ (O God no), tone and attitude don’t count.

    I did like that one phrase some indignant gentleman from RD Net used a while back, though — that “Pharyngula stinks like a whore house at low tide.” I have had many a happy moment wondering if he has sex with mermaids.

  750. #758 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 20, 2009

    SC is fine. Therion is fine. Everyone on Pharyngula is okay.

    We’re all alright!
    We’re all alright!
    Surrender!
    Surrender!
    But don’t give yourself away!

  751. #759 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Pharyngula stinks like a whore house at low tide.

    Isn’t it supposed to be a cyber ?biker bar?? I seem to remember some characterisation along those lines.

  752. #760 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    As a scientist, I still don’t know what Therion’s thesis is. He has been so vague about it, there is nothing to follow. All I see is a bad attitude and whining. If he tries that with his dissertation committee, he will fail. Therion, some of us are smarter than you, and have years more experience in science. Because of this we don’t revere big names in all things, because even big names set off our BS detectors when they get outside of their field, and sometimes still within it. Until you acknowledge this you will continue to have troubles.

  753. #761 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    And I never said physicists – which you, to be blunt, are not yet – don’t have a domain of expertise in physics. I said that the matter of deism is not exclusive to physics or cosmology. Of course, we can’t know any of your heroes’ arguments unless you present them.

    I never claimed any expertise. If it weren’t for that earlier bullshit when someone demanded my paper count, you wouldn’t know whether I study physics or am a milkman.

    That was a response to your statement: “I have no opinion on Summers or his remarks, but it seems hypocritical to assume sociologists have a domain of expertise and physicists don’t.” You’re just sore at being reminded that you’re not in fact a physicist.

    Anyway, I think my point has been proven to my satisfaction.

    That you’re an insecure asshole?

    I noted at first that this emphasis on the term “atheist” was peculiar, given that many atheists are totally indistinguishable from agnostics and other irreligious people, except only in their opinion on a topic of physics (the origin of the universe), which I don’t believe many self-professed atheists even care about.

    Flashes of J.

    The subsequent turmoil confirmed that it’s all about “atheist self-identity”. There’s no other explanation for that Lord of the Flies degree of aggression. If your self-identity is threatened, you pounce like wild animals.

    More flashes of J. No one gives a good goddamn if you’re bothered that we call ourselves atheists or mistakenly believe religious questions to reside solely in the domain of physics. Any hostility, as has been pointed out to you again and again, resulted from your insults and pompous tone.

  754. #762 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Isn’t it supposed to be a cyber ?biker bar?? I seem to remember some characterisation along those lines.

    A rough bar. :) (c/o Henry Gee)

  755. #763 Africangenesis
    April 20, 2009

    I think Therion’s points were:

    1) Deism is not necessarially a religion
    2) Even in modern times, there are gaps in our understanding of physics (fortuitious values for arbitrary constants, etc), and paradoxes in quantum mechanics that have even some brilliant physcists and other respected thinkers considering possible sentient (deity?) fine tuning of the specifics of the universe or a special role for consciousness

    I don’t think support for point 2, went beyond appeal to the authority of highly intelligent people who have contemplated the nature of the universe.

    If there is something in dispute, it might be whether these problems in modern physics amount to actual evidence supportive of rather than just suggestive of fine tuning or a role for consciousness.

    I will go as far as stating that I can understand why these non-evidence based speculative thoughts and interpretations crossed these brilliant minds.

  756. #764 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    I observe that, like Emmet, you’ve conveniently ommitted all reference to the nasty posts I was responding to.

    I didn’t see it as relevant. I was responding to your accusation that I was lying. Period. And as I read the comments that I cited, it seems to me that you started with the attitude at least as early on as anyone else.

    In comment #84, it doesn’t appear that you were actually replying to anyone.

    In comment #254, where you wrote:

    These guys were discovering the laws of nature in their mid-twenties, whereas you and your ilk while away the hours insulting creationists

    you were replied to Wowbagger, who in comment #200 wasn’t even talking to you.

    You’re really going to say that the comment that you were replying to in #263 was nasty? Wow…your degree defense should be fun…

    You have a point with the comment you were replying to in #414, but you’re going to have to clue me in as to how my comment to you, regarding it, is out of context by having not copied OC’s text.

    Moreover, regarding Emmet’s comment, even if the comments you were responding to were nothing but a long serious of “fuck you’s” and insults about your parents, your response to Emmet in #728 does not in anyway respond to his charge of you being hypocritical when saying that you’re not dismissive. Even if you were totally justified in being dismissive in a comment, you wouldn’t want to later assert that you hadn’t been dismissive, would you? I’m ignoring the issue of whether or not you were being hypocritical here; I’m saying that what you wrote in #728 doesn’t actually refute Emmet’s comment.

  757. #765 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Flashes of J.

    Definitely ? the more he prattled on, the more like an ?extreme J? he became ? right down to the persecution complex and being oblivious to way people were needling and testing. At least J had the ability to reflect somewhat objectively on his own comments, in the context of what people were saying about them, and acknowledge when he’d been an obnoxiously condescending asshole. TBH, I think Pope Therion the Inadequate is considerably worse than J ever was.

     

    That you’re an insecure asshole?

    Well, that thesis is the only one that there’s been any empirical evidence for.

  758. #766 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Thus spake Josh:

    your response to Emmet in #728 does not in anyway respond to his charge of you being hypocritical when saying that you’re not dismissive.

    He claimed not just that, but that he refrained from being dismissive ?all along?. Sure, when things get heated, many of us reply rudely or dismissively, and he would have a legitimate complaint against me about out-of-context quote-mining if he hadn’t made the absurd claim that he’d never been dismissive, when, clearly, he was dismissive and condescending from the get-go (as you’ve shown), and continued to be obnoxious up to and beyond the point that he spat the dummy and made his laughably stupid remarks about human rights abuses.

  759. #767 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    It’s insulting to say that Freeman Dyson, a mathematical prodigy, a pioneer of quantum electrodynamics, and one of the world’s great scientists, is “massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than [SC] and anyone else here”?

    Yes it’s fucking insulting. Of course it’s fucking insulting. “Massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than [SC] and anyone else here?” You don’t think that’s insulting?

    Let’s see:
    A, You don’t know how smart any of us who comment here are (intellect being rather different than education), and I really doubt that you’ve read every comment in this blog, so this is kind of a dumbass blanket statement to make. Regarldess of it’s truth or not, it’s an unverified assertion that belittles everyone here. So yeah, insulting (and that has nothing to do with my opinion of the people who comment here).
    B, You don’t know who lurks here, so, again, it’s kind of a dumbass blanket statement to make along the lines of A.
    C, The second part of the sentence (“and scientifically informed”) doesn’t really make any sense, or at least it’s difficult to actually determine its meaning. What does “scientifically informed” mean? Do you mean trained/educated in science? If so, then you’re implying that Freeman Dyson is more educated about other non-physics fields than everyone else here. Still questioning why I used the phrase “hero worship?” That’s why. This implication is just plain ignorant and foolish and belies a profound lack of understanding about science.

    Now, keep in mind that insults aren’t a crime. You just seem to be trying real hard to show us that you don’t have anything else.

  760. #768 Bobber
    April 20, 2009

    Anyway, I think my point has been proven to my satisfaction.

    And when it’s all said and done, wasn’t that the point of your little exercise in the first place? And isn’t that all that matters in your mind anyway?

  761. #769 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    FTR, I’m probably wrong, but not totally crazy. There are some real similarities. Read J’s comments here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/we_happy_hooligans.php

    (especially #723)

    ***

    I’m having trouble understanding why it’s so hard to distinguish between contemplating, speculating about, musing over, talking about, toying with, flirting with, brainstorming…isolated ideas and forming those ideas into an argument for a position or subscribing to a belief.

  762. #770 windy
    April 20, 2009

    You’re such zealots that even the mildest defense of deism — not even so much of a defense, but more of a case that you shouldn’t wave physicists’ theories off with a few tired slogans — is sufficient to cause uproar.

    It was nice of you to admit back in #666 that you were hasty to dismiss the fission track argument, but now you seem to have forgotten all about it, and are back to arguing that all we offer are “tired slogans”. You don’t seem to be engaging with any of the serious criticism. A physicist has pointed out that your understanding of QM is off. I pointed out in #447 a serious problem with the fine tuning argument, and Sastra used essentially the same argument in #680:

    “Disembodied “awarenesses” which can fine-tune physical constants to get physical results are independent of physical constraints.”

    This assumption of the deist fine tuning argument is not consistent with the assumption that consciousness requires fine-tuning!

    The same criticism applies for a Turing machine ‘creator’, unless you can show that Turing machines don’t require a narrow set of physical constants to exist.

  763. #771 mp3 dinle
    April 20, 2009

    Isn’t it supposed to be a cyber ?biker bar?? I seem to remember some characterisation along those lines.

  764. #772 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 20, 2009

    If Therion isn’t J, he is his first cousin. There are similarities.

  765. #773 Patricia, Queen of Fowls
    April 20, 2009

    Old west saloon actually.

  766. #774 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    You’re such zealots that even the mildest defense of deism — not even so much of a defense, but more of a case that you shouldn’t wave physicists’ theories off with a few tired slogans — is sufficient to cause uproar. Presumably it’s because you have nothing apart from your atheism. You’re such empty, pathetic, miserable creatures that if we strip away your “atheist” sense of belonging…the game is up, isn’t it? You realize that you’re just utter mediocrities, so you desperately cling on to the sense of smugness and superiority found on this blog. Get back on “creationist watch”, you fucking morons.

    J or not J, Therion’s true colors appear to be showing through the threads that hold together his tattered physics student armor. He’s gone into full frothing at the mouth mode. This paragraph here is so wonderful that I’m going to have to save it.

  767. #775 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    If Therion isn’t J, he is his first cousin. There are similarities.

    There really are. See his comments here for even more:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/robert_bakker_plays_blametheat.php

  768. #776 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    Pope Therion the Inadequate

    Emmet, I missed this one earlier or would have properly laughed at the appropriate time. Be it known, however, that a giggle was produced.

  769. #777 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    See his comments here for even more:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/robert_bakker_plays_blametheat.php

    I can’t read #89, 99, or 131 on that thread and not be led strongly to believe this is the same person.

    I don’t care one way or the other (even if he lied about it here), but I was not imagining this.:)

  770. #778 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    SC,OM

    The similarity is amazing!

    But, somehow, my recollection of J (even after reading a lot of the thread you just linked to) seems a wee bit more conciliatory and less of a narcissistic douchenozzle. I’d have expected J to have mellowed, rather than become more intransigent, but maybe Therion, Pope-Apparent of Physics, is J having a really really bad day? People do lie on teh Internets.

    But, no, you’re definitely not imagining it. The J=Therion hypothesis seems perfectly plausible.

  771. #779 Nanu Nanu
    April 20, 2009

    So J WAS the brights guy. Holy hell, looking back that argument really was inane. And I didn’t remember him being such an asshole but reading his comments again it seems my memory was just being nice.

    I really like Emmet’s title for Therion. Maybe Pope Therion should get a big pointy hat and some robes

  772. #780 SAWells
    April 20, 2009

    Sadly, it’s quite possible that there really are two of them.

  773. #781 SC, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Emmet, I missed this one earlier or would have properly laughed at the appropriate time. Be it known, however, that a giggle was produced.

    In me as well. The problem for Emmet is that he’s so funny so much of the time that it would be time-consuming to keep drawing attention to it (except when he was here reading the threads and making me laugh in person). Be it known, however, that many a giggle has been produced.

    Sadly, it’s quite possible that there really are two of them.

    *shudders again*

    Just for kicks, here’s the “argument” Therion’s been making here as summarized by J months ago:

    Many people believe in an impersonal God — a sort of Prime Mover who’s oblivious to human affairs.

    Some physicists think this is the only available hypothesis that can account for various details. They’re wrong, but for subtle reasons that most people here don’t grasp.

  774. #782 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Re: the ?Pope? crack.

    In retrospect, I think ?Pope Therion the Adequate? (rather than ?Inadequate?) would’ve been much better. Nothing quite like being damned by faint praise :o)

    I look forward to the day, in 3 or 4 years, when I, too, am ?qualified to utter definitive pronouncements? and become a pope, albeit not in anything as sexy as physics. Alas, I am not yet even an Apprentice Pope like J/Therion.

  775. #783 windy
    April 20, 2009

    Sci-fi tangent: Even if human consciousness were the only thing that could collapse a wavefunction, what reason is there to think that’s the intended outcome? Maybe the creator intended for it to stay in superposition, and humans keep spoiling it by observing stuff.

  776. #784 Sphere Coupler
    April 20, 2009

    *back from the dead*

    Therion;
    I have said sometimes that I would exchange all of my knowledge for youth, and take no offence, you are making me reevaluate my words.

    If I may make a suggestion…go back and reread
    {SC, OM | April 20, 2009 10:00 AM}

    Give it time to sink in, sure if it is your nature to narrowly follow a single discipline,fine and there’s nothing wrong with that, however, allowing oneself to absorb a little interdisciplinary knowledge will lead to a satisfactory result.

  777. #785 'Tis Himself
    April 20, 2009

    Guess what, Theron, in my posts 476 and 534 I discussed the Anthropic Principle and gave a reason why I don’t care for the Strong AP. You even quoted me in #629 and commented on my statement. Guess what, I’m not a physicist or any other kind of hard scientist. I’m like SC, a social scientist and I don’t have a doctorate.

    It would appear that understanding philosophical points, which is what the AP really is, does not require advanced training in physics.

  778. #786 Josh
    April 20, 2009

    *back from the dead*

    Careful, buddy. We’ll be accused by the Pope of not being serious-enough for the thread.

  779. #787 Sphere Coupler
    April 20, 2009

    *is it safe?*

    Nah, need a higher authority to tell me what to do, like PZ and hell, Patricia scares me sometimes (sometimes I hear a 58 pan-head and I just know I’m in for it)

    PS, How is it I get a “Dust in the wind” and you get a make up? not fair even If I was ciberly dead.

  780. #788 windy
    April 20, 2009

    Speaking of human rights violations, this is disgusting. Of course, it’s not as heinous as mocking grad students.

  781. #789 Therion
    April 21, 2009

    physicist has pointed out that your understanding of QM is off. I pointed out in #447 a serious problem with the fine tuning argument, and Sastra used essentially the same argument in #680:

    My understanding of QM is not “off”, you lying little imbecile. Lots of highly distinguished physicists, far better qualified than any of the physicists here, would agree with everything I said regarding QM. You’re such unreasonable zealots that you are oblivious to your own transparent double standards. When I appeal to the authority of some of the most respected physicists in the world, that is “hero worship”. But the authority of the Pharyngula physicists, apparently, is sacrosanct.

    Any physicist who defends arrogant and ignorant dismissals of the strong anthropic principle is being disingenuous. SC and most others posting in this thread can’t even understand the motivation for the SAP. They don’t understand the most basic features of quantum mechanics. (The intellectually lightweight idiot should stick to her Marxism.) It’s impossible to have an informed opinion about something if you don’t know anything about it. All they should say is that it’s so extravagant as to make them highly skeptical. Of course they go further than that and utter sweeping, definitive pronouncements, such as “This is stupid”. I’ve encountered atheists on other websites who do the same with respect to multiverse theories.

    It should be obvious from the above that every and any opportunity to dodge my substantive points was exploited to the max. Most people responding to me are not looking for a serious discussion; they’re just here because they’re hateful creatures, with a sinister thirst for combat. It’s no wonder why they never understood what I was talking about, because the discussion was repeatedly made personal, despite my attempts to keep it intellectual. SC, Emmet and others have made a hobby out of swearing at people and ridiculing people. How pathetic is that?

    My apologies to those posters who behave civilly. I wasn’t meaning to lump you with the fanatics like SC and Emmet.

  782. #790 Rorschach
    April 21, 2009

    Therion going off the deep end @ 789,

    SC and most others posting in this thread can’t even understand the motivation for the SAP. They don’t understand the most basic features of quantum mechanics. (The intellectually lightweight idiot should stick to her Marxism

    and

    Most people responding to me are not looking for a serious discussion; they’re just here because they’re hateful creatures, with a sinister thirst for combat

    Mate,
    you need to get over yourself,and fast.And when youre done with that,you need to realize that the tone of discussion on internet forums is different from your Uni lectures.

    What you cant stand is that people here are challenging your views,you thought you could storm in here with your grad student knowledge and sweep us off our feet,that might work on uncommon descent,but there are freethinking,clever people on this blog that will challenge you.

    Now cut the sulking and name-calling,the 2 commenters you mentioned in your little tantrum happen to be way more knowledgeable,willing to learn and rational than you have shown yourself to be here.

    As to the “hateful creatures” thing,ah well,as I said,grow up man.

  783. #791 windy
    April 21, 2009

    My understanding of QM is not “off”, you lying little imbecile.

    Halp halp, I’m being repressed! Come see the human rights violations inherent in the system!

    You’re such unreasonable zealots that you are oblivious to your own transparent double standards. When I appeal to the authority of some of the most respected physicists in the world, that is “hero worship”. But the authority of the Pharyngula physicists, apparently, is sacrosanct.

    No, it just shows that you need to consider the possibility that YOU have misunderstood something, since those most respected physicists are not actually around to back you up.

    And just because Freeman Dyson et al understand physics far beyond the level of any of us, is no guarantee that their deism arguments don’t have other errors we can identify.

    It should be obvious from the above that every and any opportunity to dodge my substantive points was exploited to the max.

    Right, that’s why I brought up counterexamples and looked up the sources for you, just to dodge your substantive points to the max. I would get annoyed at you, if this weren’t so pathetic.

  784. #792 SAWells
    April 21, 2009

    I seem to recall a Dilbert strip in which a scientist claims “I’m really smart because scientists have made great discoveries”, to whcih Dilbert responds “Those were other scientists, not you”.

    Therion needs to meditate on that for a while.

    Generally speaking, oh predoctoral one, a substantive argument (QM doesn’t in any way imply strong anthropic because the idea that a conscious observer must collapse the wavefunction is not part of a fundamental theory of QM) beats a desperate invocation of hordes of really really smart people who would totally agree with you, oh yes.

  785. #793 SAWells
    April 21, 2009

    On the subject of prominent scientists going off the reservation and pontificating on stuff they don’t actually understand, consider Bacon’s 54th aphorism:

    54. Some men become attached to particular sciences and contemplations, either from supposing themselves the authors and inventors of them, or from having bestowed the greatest pains upon such subjects, and thus become most habituated to them. If men of this description apply themselves to philosophy and contemplations of an universal nature, they wrest and corrupt them by their preconceived fancies; of which Aristotle affords us a signal instance, who made his natural philosophy completely subservient to his logic, and thus rendered it little more than useless and disputatious. The chymists, again, have formed a fanciful philosophy with the most confined views, from a few experiments of the furnace. Gilbert, too, having employed himself most assiduously in the consideration of the magnet, immediately established a system of philosophy to coincide with his favourite pursuit.

    Gilbert, for context, was an Elizabethan court physician who did the first really systematic study of magnetism (yay!) and then started claiming that the motion of planets in the solar system was caused by magnetism (whoops!).

  786. #794 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 21, 2009

    Therion, until you can acknowledge you have been wrong, are wrong, and will be wrong, you are not a scientist. Period, end of story. Any scientist pushing the envelope must keep in mind the the possibility they can be wrong. You aren’t. Which is why you are being mocked and scorned. I don’t need a degree in physics to have you set off my bullshit detector. Which you do every time you post. Taking completely unrelated subjects, just jamming them together without any background does that. You have explained nothing. I hope you aren’t a TA, as I pity your students.

  787. #795 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 21, 2009

    Therion, why you are at a biology blog, instead one of the physics blogs? Or are you afraid the real experts, like Blake Stacey will shoot holes in your inane ideas.

  788. #796 Stanton
    April 21, 2009

    Either Therion is self-aware enough to realize that even Blake Stacey’s mother could shoot fatal holes in the aforementioned inanity, or given as how Therion is your typical deranged theistic apologist, he just came over to Pharyngula in order to lay siege to this hellhole/impenetrable bastion of crass atheism.

    I vote for the latter.

  789. #797 Josh
    April 21, 2009

    When I appeal to the authority of some of the most respected physicists in the world, that is “hero worship”.

    Oh man, this graduate career would be a joy to watch. A lot of us were here at one point, and the process of having this view beat out of us wasn’t pleasant.

    Appealing to authority the way you’re doing it is hero-worship. By your implication, you’re supposed to be “the one” talking science here. If so, then fucking do it. So far, you’re not, which is part of what we’re reacting to.

    By that, I mean that you’re not doing this (emphasis being put on “I think” simply to try and make the point):

    Such and such said, on page xxx of (cites paper), blah, blah, blah. I think that this refutes your statement (quote) in comment #52. Now, I know that most of you aren’t physics geeks, so for those watching, such and such’s argument was also discussed, perhaps more clearly, here (cites additional reference).

    Instead, you’re doing stuff like this (from #414):

    My point, clearly, is that they are brilliant men, who know far more science than you, and are not to be trifled with.

    This quote contains one fact, one unsubstantiated assertion, and one outright false statement that belies a rather cripling misunderstanding of science (as well as also being “hero-worship,” a earns you a point for the nice twofer). The rest of comment #414 is more toned-down than this example, and makes leanings toward getting there, but it never really does. SC tried to engage it several times (e.g., 267; 277), but according my reading, to no avail.

    and of course there’s stuff like this (#254):

    but there are many scientists who flirt with deism, like Freeman Dyson, who are massively more intelligent and scientifically informed than you and anyone else here.

    This doesn’t advance the discussion at all. It just demonstrates that you think highly of Freeman Dyson. I’ll quote SC here from #730 (I apologise if this sends you into a frenzy; I know how well you two get along): If you want to discuss the matter intelligently, why don’t you try articulating Freeman Dyson’s argument for deism, spelling it out clearly and defining your terms, then explaining what you find convincing and what you don’t? Your response to this (#734) was that it was boring you.

    If you can’t see the difference between the hypothetical that I pose above and your actual posts, and why it’s an issue, then your graduate career is going to be bloody. People don’t have authority in science. If anything has “authority” in science, then it’s the process, not the people who use the process. Ideas that stand the test of bloodying have “authority.” Observations lend weight to the “authority” of those ideas. But honestly, it’s a very poor word to use. NO ONE is beyond trifling with in science, a point that you seem to still not understand.

    Most people responding to me are not looking for a serious discussion; they’re just here because they’re hateful creatures, with a sinister thirst for combat.

    He writes this after the way he came in to the thread. Amazing.

    But the authority of the Pharyngula physicists, apparently, is sacrosanct.

    Jebus, don’t anyone light a match. There’s enough straw here to blow the whole place.

  790. #798 SC, OM
    April 21, 2009

    [Preface: Thank you, guys, for the nice things you said about me, and also for the insights in your most recent posts.]

    Therion,

    You seem very upset. I’m not at all hateful, nor do I have a “sinister thirst for combat.” I sometimes enjoy arguing, but I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. At times things get heated, and I do tend to turn hostile when someone is insulting individuals or a community of which I think very highly (or me, of course). I don’t enjoy hurting people or exploiting their soft spots (well, part of me does, at certain weak moments, but that is a cause for shame and something to work on). So I’m sorry if my remarks have caused you pain.

    That said, I agree with the comments people have made since your last, and despite my hostility I think I have made an effort to have a serious conversation.

    By the way,

    (The intellectually lightweight idiot should stick to her Marxism.)

    The question of my intellectual heft aside, I am an anarchist – not a liberal, not a Marxist.

  791. #799 SC, OM
    April 21, 2009

    I don’t enjoy hurting people or exploiting their soft spots (well, part of me does, at certain weak moments, but that is a cause for shame and something to work on).

    I meant “part of me does” at certain weak moments enjoy the latter, not the former.

  792. #800 bastion of sass
    April 21, 2009

    At #635 Josh wrote:

    *contemplates Bastion’s bar suggestion*
    Some might say it’s a little early for a pint, but I’m a geologist. No such time exists.
    As to the rest…well, yeah, absolutely.

    I find drinking in the morning to be much easier if you party all night.

    Good to hear about your being agreeable to “the rest.” Always being on the alert for a sneak attack is exhausting.

    I want to thank you and the others who joined in the battle–’Tis, Ichthyic, and other–for the laughs. I needed some.

  793. #801 bastion of sass
    April 21, 2009

    Sphere Coupler wrote:

    @784

    *back from the dead*

    (S)He is risen! Alleluia!!

    It’s a miracle! A miracle I say!!

    @787

    PS, How is it I get a “Dust in the wind” and you get a make up? not fair even If I was ciberly dead.

    The reason that you didn’t get the same offer as Josh, besides the fact that you were cyberly dead, is that I’ve had a bit of an intellectual crush on Josh since the “Titanoboa” and “Science of Watchmen” threads.

    And then, he went and called me, “Dickhead.” What female wouldn’t be totally charmed by that?!

    Be that as it may, I’m not adverse to making-out with additional Pharyngulates. [This offer limited to commenters who are both very smart and snarky.]

  794. #802 Josh
    April 21, 2009

    I find drinking in the morning to be much easier if you party all night.

    The worst thing about drinking is sobriety (he says over a glass of very nice single malt).

    Good to hear about your being agreeable to “the rest.”

    Very…

    Always being on the alert for a sneak attack is exhausting.

    Indeed. I’ve got your back (although further instances of “stone studier” might merit some additional punishment…just ’cause being an ass is one of the few things I’m good at).

    I want to thank you and the others who joined in the battle–’Tis, Ichthyic, and other–for the laughs. I needed some.

    That was fun, wasn’t it? I echo Bastion’s thanks. We should do that more often. I propose 80s hair metal for next time.

    is that I’ve had a bit of an intellectual crush on Josh since the “Titanoboa” and “Science of Watchmen” threads.

    *blush*

    That kind of talk will get you in all kinds of great trouble.

    And then, he went and called me, “Dickhead.” What female wouldn’t be totally charmed by that?!

    *rolls eyes*

    Huh. I’m pretty darn sure that you deserved it…

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/sandwiched_between_jodie_foste.php#comment-1577330

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/sandwiched_between_jodie_foste.php#comment-1577304

  795. #803 bastion of sass
    April 21, 2009

    Huh. I’m pretty darn sure that you deserved it…

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/sandwiched_between_jodie_foste.php#comment-1577304

    Aw. Just using the opportunity to spout some of my favorite lines from The Princess Bride. In case you didn’t recognize them, I sprinkled a few throughout my battle comments.

  796. #804 Josh
    April 21, 2009

    Aw. Just using the opportunity to spout some of my favorite lines from The Princess Bride. In case you didn’t recognize them, I sprinkled a few throughout my battle comments.

    Sigh. Missed them completely. I suck.

    I will talk it up to paying real close attention to not getting shot?

  797. #805 windy
    April 21, 2009

    I propose 80s hair metal for next time.

    Although it wasn’t part of the battle, I hope at least someone appreciated the symphonic metal Abba cover(!) @673…

  798. #806 Josh
    April 21, 2009

    It was appreciated.

  799. #807 Sphere Coupler
    April 22, 2009

    playground in my mind
    *damn that hurt*

  800. #808 Sphere Coupler
    April 22, 2009

    If I could tag this thread with a song it would be this one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8

  801. #809 Ichthyic
    April 22, 2009

    That was fun, wasn’t it? I echo Bastion’s thanks. We should do that more often. I propose 80s hair metal for next time.

    fun, but BRUTAL

    I’m still trying to get some of those songs outta my friggin’ head.

    It was like an ear-worm war.

    OTOH, speaking of brutal, a metal war would surely be just that.

    :p

  802. #810 Ichthyic
    April 22, 2009

    Anyway, I think my point has been proven to my satisfaction.

    ROFLMAO

    good luck using that as your closing line at your thesis defense.

  803. #811 Anonymous
    April 22, 2009

    I’m so glad Icthyic’s not around. With his hypersensitivity to projection, this could cause permanent damage.

    curse me for scrolling back upthread.

    *headdesk*

  804. #812 Ichthyic
    April 22, 2009

    Woot! I’ve been hit by the typkey sign-in bug finally!

    Now I feel complete.

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