Monday 31 January 2011

Stupid tax arguments

"We cannot justify taxing the poorest to pay benefits such as tax credits and child benefit to higher earners”

- why don't you pay the tax credits and child benefit of higher earners out of the tax of the higher earners then? They are paying more tax than the lower-earners after all, so it should be easier to manage...

Or, at least don't make stupid arguments.

Three-quarters of a million more people are set to become higher rate taxpayers in April, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Can science or religion win? No.

I enjoy spectating the public debate between religionists and scientists, and I take an interest in the nature of the arguments. Neither side will win, something which is neatly covered here I feel.

In the discussion below, I am samjam. I let my real position slip in the end, but I feel that this is not relevant in the debate as I find myself so often not siding with the religionists or the scientists. Generally both "sides" understand the other so badly that they spend the time punching eachothers shadows.

The discussion takes place at:

Disclosure: The discussion did not end there and my opponent rejected my position. I was unable to relate his rejection to the topic in a meaningful way.

Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (Score:2)
by gardyloo (512791) writes: on Friday January 28, @10:22AM (#35032506)
*Anything* can be "analysed" by philosophy. Philosophy is, in essence, thinking about stuff. Fine. But thinking about stuff should (in my opinion) include some sort of wondering about whether it's got any connections to the real world.
Religions themselves are sometimes comforting, and they certainly seem to have some common grounds. That's interesting. Their history and the way they've influenced us and our world is interesting.
Religions also consistently fail to accord with reality. That's sad. It's also interesting. And *that's* science.

  • Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (Score:2)
    by samjam (256347) writes: on Friday January 28, @10:47AM (#35032844)

    If only you had used philosphy to analyse what you meant by "the real world" when you said "wondering about whether it's got any connections to the real world" however that is one of the questions covered by philosophy BUT NOT BY SCIENCE.

    Science exclusively investigates only things which are subject to the scientific method and by definition cannot investigate anything else.
    Some religions are comforting, and some seem to have common grounds. But to leave it at that and say that (some) religions consistently fail to accord with reality (whatever reality is) is really a fair admission that you have not found religion (rather than religions) worth studying, and this sadly reduces the force of your point in the same way that the freaking religionists lack of science makes their views on science so weak (and often laughable).

    As a comparison, some are perhaps unable to distinguish between decent knowledge based health care, and homoeopathic quacks, snake-oil salesmen and so forth. Such people, might classify all 3rd party provided healthcare as bogus together. I think we both think that they would be wrong.

    But the comparison holds to religions too. Because some are run by quacks, or have quacks in them, says nothing about the fundamental nature of reality or purpose, and for which religion provides sound answers to many seekers of truth and understanding (and I don't just mean timid fearful folk).

    The ignorant finding decency in health care is like the human finding truth in religion and like the philosopher seeking the purple cow. It's all academic until he finds the cow, and only then can be make a statement on it.

    Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (Score:1)
    by Broolucks (1978922) writes: on Friday January 28, @12:19PM (#35034308)

    The problem is that religion only answers the questions that it begs. For instance, asking "why" the universe exists implicitly assumes the existence of a vantage point from which the universe might be said to have a purpose. Even though religion might "answer" that question, it really doesn't: it begs it. "What created the universe?" is no more pertinent a question than what created that creator, but the former stumps people more than the latter. Religion only provides answers about morality to people who cannot trust any other source. And so on.

    The essential difference between science and religion is that the latter has the luxury of not having to be correlated to reality. So whereas science will provide objective answers that are useful in practice, religion will provide subjective answers that are sociologically or emotionally useful. So depending on your point of view, religion either answers a lot of questions or it answers nothing at all (I must say I am in the latter group - I do not see how any religion can answer anything).
    •  Re:Summary wrong, not so bleak (Score:2)
      by samjam (256347) writes: on Friday January 28, @01:03PM (#35034952)

    You say that "religion only answers the question that it begs" because you disqualify as invalid the presumption that a vantage point exists from which the universe is said to have a purpose. You beggared the question by not sharing the viewpoint from which it is asked; but this is no more than a re-statement of your own position.

    Those who have that viewpoint do not find this question beggared, but rather the start of science beggared - perhaps you are familiar with the question "but who made it go bang?"

    The argument in providing the final answer between religion and science comes down to this:
    • Science must leave un-answered the final question: why
    • Religion must leave un-answered the final question: how
    When you prefer science or religion you chose which question you prefer to leave unanswered.

    The claim of blinkered scientists to be right against religionists is nothing more that a obscured statement of their personal preference, likewise for blinkered religionists.
    •  and so (Score:2)
      by samjam (256347) writes: on Friday January 28, @01:52PM (#35035774) Homepage Journal

    This brings us to one of the first claims of religion:
        to know god, god must first reveal himself to man

    and also to one of the claimed claims of God that he will reveal himself to all his creations: []
    "I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all."

    - now when? That's his business, but it would be a low sort of creator that forgot his creations.

    Anway, I just wanted to demonstrate where philosphy leads when it considers science and religion. Maybe Godel got there first.

    Science and religion are useful independent, but the quest for truth makes a tool of them both; and I'm after truth, not a plausible debating position. If there is a god, and one worth knowing, I expect him to notice that and take an interest; I expect to find him. I find the journey very satisfying, very delightful, and very subject to rational scrutiny. One might wonder if god is more scientist than religious - after all superstition so often masquerades as religion.

    Wednesday 26 January 2011

    Passenger cleared by jury after standing up to TSA

    A Seattle man has been acquitted of all charges brought against him when he refused to show ID to TSA officials and videotaped the incident at an airport security checkpoint.

    Were there problems with jury selection? This guy was found not-guilty by a jury. I agree, but I am surprised.

    An analysis of the trial:

    Staff at UK electrical retailers such as Currys and Comet know nothing about the products they're selling – unless you're after an extended warranty of course.
    Asking questions of the staff can be entertaining though...

    Friday 21 January 2011

    The sun is a major cause of global warming

    The sun makes the earth warm! Shock news for global-warming zealots!
    This is more evidence of the type mentioned at the end of this 90 minute talk on the falsity of the global warming trend and the harm and misery that comes to millions from following it.

    U R Rao has analysed 45 years of data and declared that the forcing from charged particles is higher than previously thought, at 1.1Wm-2, and human-forcing lower than the IPCC "consensus" of 1.6Wm-2.

    Monday 17 January 2011

    Try trading with pirates?

    Sony and Universal normally release music two weeks after everyone who wants it has pirated a copy. They've now realised that this hurts sales, and they have decided to start selling music to people who want to buy it right away.

    Two major labels are giving up one of their most powerful marketing tools - because they say it's "out of date". Universal and Sony have said they'll give make digital songs legally available the day they're first played on radio - moving to an "on air, on sale" policy from next month.

    Wednesday 12 January 2011

    Striking terror somewhere

    Read the story. Read the boot-note. Go back to bed.

    Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham today slammed bungling government departments for a series of systemic failures that left one of their clients distressed, fearful and out of pocket.

    A good friend from Ireland tells me that at some point he realised that the public in England had no idea what was going on in Ireland - and why would they - and so there is no sense in blowing them up.

    So when terrorists want to cause terror in a country, do they take political thought where to aim? Do they blow up civilians who also don't like the government? Do they blow up the government (including the opposition). I wonder how hard it is for them to "aim".

    Monday 10 January 2011

    What it means to co-operate with the police

    If you know you didn't commit the crime, would you want to submit to DNA screening?

    DNA samples from every man in Bristol should be screened as police continue to hunt for the murderer of Joanna Yeates, one of the city's MPs has urged.
    No - it cannot help you, it can only make things worse for you, it cannot make things better.

    The policeman agrees - even if you are innocent and know you are innocent and know you can prove it, speaking up can get you a conviction. Watch the video to see how. (The policeman speak out in part 2).

    I will admit to not following his advice many times since having watched it. I recognise the principles, but I also recognise that police who I have had occasion to speak to me have had no or little interest in prolonging the conversation, so my strategy was to avoid changing that. i.e. shut my mouth, listen, and say sorry and thank-you.

    In abstract, the lawyers advice is the same, but he explains how often you won't know how to encourage disinterest on the part of the police.

    I realised that the OTHER video is missing, the one that shows you the trouble people got into for not talking to the police in cases where you were innocent. We can only speculate what it would contain if it were made.

    This guy helped police with DNA and had slight problems. The conversation with the police was funny:

    The role of an apostle

    A pleasant interview with an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

    Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks on the role of an Apostle. Learn more about prophets and apostles on

    Friday 7 January 2011

    The rat race

    This video showed me how similar wingsuit base-jumping is to the rat-race of life, a job and a mortgage - so many ways to go wrong, but dedicated attention and care avoid most of them.

    The Need 4 Speed: The Art of Flight A collection of shots from flights made during the 2009-2010 season by the talented group of wingsuit basejumpers, while flying the V3, Hybrid LD2/Trango rigs and testing several new V-series wingsuit prototypes around..

    Thursday 6 January 2011

    Fundamental Premises of Our Faith

    I'm interested in peoples views on part IV of this lecture, particularly those who have personal quests for truth and enlightenment.

    I welcome this opportunity to speak in what our hosts have called “Mormonism 101.” In his fine lecture last year Judge Thomas Griffith said he was giving “an introduction to the Mormon faith.” I intend to do the same, speaking from my special responsibility as an apostle called to speak as a witness of the gospel plan and mission and Church of Jesus Christ.