Chatbot Wears Down Proponents of Anti-Science Nonsense. Nigel Leck, a software developer by day, was tired of arguing with anti-science crackpots on Twitter.
So, like any good programmer, he wrote a script to do it for him. The result is the Twitter chatbot @AI_AGW. Its operation is fairly simple: Every five minutes, it searches twitter for several hundred set phrases that tend to correspond to any of the usual tired arguments about how global warming isn’t happening or humans aren’t responsible for it. It then spits back at the twitterer who made that argument a canned response culled from a database of hundreds. The responses are matched to the argument in question – tweets about how Neptune is warming just like the earth, for example, are met with the appropriate links to scientific sources explaining why that hardly constitutes evidence that the source of global warming on earth is a warming sun.
Atheist Media Blog. Humanist Heritage. Ajita Kamal on the "arrogance" of Richard Dawkins. Over at the Nirmukta site (which you really should bookmark), Ajita Kamal has a nice post about Richard Dawkins' supposed "arrogance".
After putting into perspective one incident relating to Dawkins, Kamal observes: There is a very important role that anger, ridicule and passion play in any social movement. While intellectual understanding is key to a movement that is well-grounded, it is the primary emotions that provide the impetus for social organization. Without this, atheism would simply remain an idea to be discussed in academia and in private settings. That's exactly right. The New York Times, Jerry Coyne and Russell Blackford on the Gnu Atheists - NY Times, Jerry Coyne, Russell Blackford - NY Times, WEIT, Metamagican and the Hellfire Club. By NY TIMES, JERRY COYNE, RUSSELL BLACKFORD - NY TIMES, WEIT, METAMAGICAN AND THE HELLFIRE CLUB Added: Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 6:49 PM [Update 04-Oct] via Russell Blackford.
Darwin Correspondence Project. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. Rich Pickings. Writer.
Darwin, science & more. 4 books: Piospheres, Darwin in Scotland, Serial Killers. Current project is THE DISSENT OF MAN. Born near London, raised near Primrose Hill and in Lincolnshire, and studied at the Universities of Bangor, York and Edinburgh for degrees in Biochemistry, Bioelectronics and Biological Computation, and a PhD in African Ecology. Christian group declares jct 9 on M25 cursed. High performance access to file storage A group of Christian evangelicals has declared junction 9 of the M25 "hexed" and is staging regular prayer meetings to cleanse the benighted interchange.
According to the Surrey Advertiser, Gerald Coates of the Pioneer Engage Church in Leatherhead has attributed a rash of accidents and footbridge suicides around the junction to someone "motivated by dark forces". Coates believes the malefactor has been recording evil messages onto cassette tapes which are then unspooled to enclose and hence curse their target areas. Atheists Outdo Some Believers in Survey on Religion. U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. Executive Summary Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. On questions about Christianity – including a battery of questions about the Bible – Mormons (7.9 out of 12 right on average) and white evangelical Protestants (7.3 correct on average) show the highest levels of knowledge.
These are among the key findings of the U.S. Factors in Religious Knowledge Other Findings. The Moral Landscape: Q & A with Sam Harris : From the Free Press: Sam Harris’s first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion.
In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people—from religious fundamentalists to non-believing scientists—agree on one point: Science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to “respect” the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors. In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Sam Harris breathes intellectual fire into an ancient debate.
Don’t Be a Dick, Part 1: the video. [Note: As is obvious by the title, the article below contains mildly NSFW language.]
In July, I spoke at The Amaz! Ng Meeting 8 in Las Vegas. Sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation, it’s the largest meeting of critical thinkers and skeptics in the world. Unlike my usual talks about the abuse of science that I had given at previous TAMs, this time I wanted to tackle a much thornier issue: how we skeptics argue with believers of various stripes. My first point was that we must keep in mind our goal.
Here’s the video. Don’t Be a Dick, Part 2: links. [Note: please first watch the video of my TAM 8 talk.
This'll make more sense that way.] After my "Don’t Be a Dick" talk at TAM 8 — and even during it, thanks to Twitter — people were talking about it. Don’t Be a Dick, Part 3: the aftermath. [Note: This is the third of three posts on my "Don't Be a Dick" speech.
Please first watch the video of my TAM 8 talk, and you can also read Part 2 which has links to others' thoughts on this topic.] Before I gave my TAM 8 talk — now known as the "Don’t Be a Dick" speech — I was more nervous than I had been before a public speaking engagement since high school. Christopher Hitchens on Billy Graham, $cientology and religious hypocrisy.
Welcome - The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Video: George Carlin on religion and God. Preachy Twits: Please Go Away! And I fell into a rant...
Please pardon this off-topic diversion. I'm almost certainly going to get myself into trouble with this, but I don't care. I'm sick of being harassed by twits of all stripes. (Do go listen to the song at that link; it's a very fun bit of silly modern Klezmer by a really brilliant performer.) I've mentioned around here that I'm Jewish. Equality Now speech. Joss Whedon on Humanism. Phil Plait: Don’t Be A Dick. Divided Minds, Specious Souls. Credit: Flickr user jeffreymongrain There is a common idea: because the mind seems unified, it really is. Many go only a bit further and call that unified mind a “soul.”
This step, from self to soul, is an ancient assumption which now forms a bedrock in many religions: a basis for life after death, for religious morality, and a little god within us, a support for a bigger God outside us. For the believers in the soul, let’s call them soulists, the soul assumption appears to be only the smallest of steps from the existence of a unified mind. Yet the soul is a claim for which there isn’t any evidence. There are historical parallels. The evidence supports another view: Our brains create an illusion of unity and control where there really isn’t any. In explaining why science suggests that the unified mind is illusory, there are thousands of supporting cases and experiments to choose from, but let’s take one case from the Emergency Room.
Birmingham Skeptics. HumanistHeritage's Channel.