Archive for April, 2012

More "Offense"

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

This time it's christians taking offense (and getting support from the legal system in India) at the"blasphemy" of revealing the actual mechanism behind a purported "miracle". And yet

Taxes, Inequity, and Democracy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Robert Reich's 'Thoughts on Tax Day 2012' is worth noting if only for its reminder of two famous quotes. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.(1904): “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Louis Brandeis (1897):  “we may have a democracy or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we […]

Argument from Design

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Byron Jennings of TRIUMF has a blog at Quantum Diaries where his latest post challenges the Intelligent Design crowd to actually make some kind of testable prediction. An alternative to making predictions, though, is just to declare the opposition in default for failure of postdiction and that is what  actually seems to be the preferred strategy of […]

The Limits of Secularism

Friday, April 13th, 2012

British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks claims to know The Limits of Secularism, but he seems to be confusing secularism with science rather than just considering it as freedom from religion. The two essential roles that he reserves for religion are the answering of big questions and the support of community and fellow-feeling. But he seems […]

Evidence in Science and Religion

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Law professor Stanley Fish probably knows quite a bit about evidence, but from his recent article with the above title I am led to doubt that he really understands much about science. In particular, his main point appears to be based on a misunderstanding, for he says: What I do assert is that with respect […]

Energy, the Environment, and What We Can Do

Monday, April 9th, 2012

John Baez gave a Google Tech Talk on the issue. The slides include links to more detailed arguments and his home page also links to the Azimuth Project wiki is collecting information and ideas from a larger group of participants.

An Insecure Bunch

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Philosophers seem to always be worried about not being taken seriously as providers of answers to important questions. But Philosophy Is Not a Science and so it is foolish of them to expect that kind of respect. They do not provide answers but they do often provide useful (albeit arguably often meaningless) questions and/or commentary […]

Is Free Will an Illusion?

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

I guess it's at least a way of generating traffic for The Chronicle Review and those who have written books and articles on the subject, but I don't know if there's anything really new being said - either in those articles or in the responses from Russell Blackford and others. But I do generally seem […]

On Science and Theories

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

What Is Science? From Feynman to Sagan to Curie, an Omnibus of Definitions is collected by Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, and John S Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts has The Knight's Song, or What is a Theory? My own take is that a science is any teachable art of making correct testable predictions. With any restriction […]

Reason for Faith?

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

William M. Briggs » Good Friday: Rally For Reason With St Anselm’s Ontological Argument believes that one can "come to religion through rational argument". Of course, if one admits a wrong argument expressed in a superficially rational-looking form as a rational argument then one can come to anything through rational argument, but the claim to […]