The Monty Hall Problem – Part 2

These probability tree diagrams represent a standard line of reasoning in support of the 'correct' answer to the Monty Hall problem. … [Read more...]

Changing minds

A student I ran into recently told me that I, along with his roommate, was the reason he became an atheist. Apparently when in a questioning period, he went to a panel discussion on campus where I represented a godless infidel perspective, and this helped tip the balance.Now, I don't want to exaggerate my influence, though everyone who teaches is gratified when occasionally a student gets something deeper from what we do than just a passing grade. I'm sure his roommate and other peers have had a … [Read more...]

The Monty Hall Problem – Part 1

This post is off topic, but there are math and logic buffs out there who might enjoy a discussion of the Monty Hall problem, and I'm hoping to get some feedback on some thoughts I have about a standard solution to the problem.Fig Leaf JustificationAtheists and Naturalists are a minority group. Most people in the USA believe in God. So those who are doubters and skeptics are generally clear on the idea that the majority can be in the wrong, and also that smart people can believe stupid things. … [Read more...]

Naturalism and Norms

My recent exchange with Taner on ethical naturalism (EN) prompted a good bit of stimulating comment and criticism. I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks and away from blogging, so I have not been able to reply to each comment as it arrived. Rather than attempt to do so now, I would like to address the issue that seems to me to be at the heart of much of the discussion: How do naturalists justify norms? The prima facie problem is this: Norms tell us what should be, not what is. Many p … [Read more...]

Religion as an inability to handle randomness

One consistent theme in my writing about science and religion is that there is an awful lot of randomness in the world, and that supernatural beliefs typically deny this randomness.Here's a discussion of some recent psychological research that connects nicely. Religiosity is often associated with an inability to accept randomness.I should probably add a qualification. I have run into some more strict-rationalist nonbelievers who also object to randomness, and who also are compelled by the … [Read more...]