“Hey! I didn’t say ‘Science Says’”

Helen Rittelmeyer is blogging and writing again.  She just contributed to the American Spectator's Youth Symposium, claiming that relativism is no longer conservatism's greatest enemy.  Let me grab a pull quote. In the last culture war, relativism’s influence was evident in the stock arguments that kept appearing in magazines and op-ed pages: Breaking taboos is valuable for its own sake; people have a right to make their own choices and not be judged for it; what you call a social evil is real … [Read more...]

Play Along with Rationality Camp at Home!

Calibration chart

While you're all missing me, there are three games you might want to try that I've been playing at rationality camp. The first two games are related.  The first one is called the Calibration Game and the second is called the Updating Game.  (Note: both those links start downloads of zip files).  Both are trivia games, but, although you're trying to get questions right, the focus is less on how knowledgeable you are and more on how good you are at gauging your own uncertainty. The Calibration Ga … [Read more...]

Krauss Defines Philosophy Down

Previously on this blog, I was really teed off by Laurence Krauss contemptuous comments about philosophy at the American Atheists National Conventions (and I agreed with one of the big critiques of his book).  It looks like he's been catching flack for the anti-philosophy comments, and he's written an essay in Scientific American to clarify his position.  I'm excerpting below the parts I found most relevant, but you guys should check out the whole piece. [In physics], I, and most of the c … [Read more...]

Immoral Moral Law, Unnatural Nature

Excerpted from Dresden Codak's Dungeons and Discourse.  It was the closest I could get to Squeltchtoad's hypthothetical

Squeltchtoad's Immoral Moral Law thought experiment was weird and paradoxical enough that I had a lot of trouble getting purchase on the problem.  That confusion might be actually be evidence, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't giving myself an easy out.  Since I was having trouble thinking about the problem in situ, I tried to carry it over into another discipline.For mathematicians or physicists, perhaps Squelchtoad's hypothetical would be the discovery that the universe was disordered.   … [Read more...]

Evangelicals Pitching Skepticism?

(Part one of two on the apologetics offered by missionaries outside the Reason Rally)I was about an hour late to the Reason Rally because I couldn't resist stopping to talk to the Christian evangelists who were ringing the rally. The conversations probably went on longer than was productive (I'm bad at taking my own advice about walking away from arguments), but I thought there were some interesting tactics on display.The biggest surprise? I heard more pitches for radical skepticism from … [Read more...]

Infinite Regress is a Slippery Slope

A friend of mine, who blogs sporadically as Squelchtoad, had a great response to the NYT review of Krauss's book A Universe from Nothing that I mentioned in the recent neuroscience post.  I'm excerpting Squelchtoad's commentary, but you should hop over and read the brief piece yourself: But it occurs to me that the Albert riposte to Lawrence Krauss might also work at least for the more naïve versions of that theological argument. What does it mean for God to be a “necessary being”? Well, some ol … [Read more...]

The Black Box Brain Problem

If I found a black box with a number keypad and a printer tape, I could make tables of all the inputs I tested and the outputs.  I put in a 1 and get a 3.  A  7 gets me 127.  Non-integers return 'ERROR.'  Depending on what ends up in my table, I might be able to make some reasonably confident guesses about what was going on inside the box.  Provided I had been careful to watch out for positive bias.  (Go ahead, read the linked article, it's really good and I'll be here when you get back). … [Read more...]