Monday 30 May 2011


Rationality... hmm... it affects more than just the individual. See link, with the hidden message (hover over the image) quoted here:
"The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

Monday 16 May 2011

The other placebo effect...

It seems like sugar-water can make anti-biotics infinitely more effective... maybe a placebo is real-medicine too.

Doctors may be able to kill off persistent staph infections using a cheap and easy method. A little boost of sugar can help kill the type of bacteria that regular antibiotics miss.

Saturday 7 May 2011

FOIA inquiry ducks FOIA

An academic inquiry which recommended that scientists respond more honestly to FOIA requests has found a creative way to evade FOIA requests.

Thursday 5 May 2011

How do you know there is a god

Apart from the confusion that the person asking the question doesn't usually define god the same way the person answering the question does, and apart from discussion on what know means and the meaning of means the question raises some very interesting points.

Who knows?

Often the questioner asking "How do you know...", "yes, but how do you know?" is really asking this slightly different question "but how can I know that you know?" or "how can I know that you know that you are not deluding yourself?" and this is often apparent from their dissatisfaction with the answers given, showing that it is themselves that they wish to satisfy that you know.

Who knows what?

The larger question we notice, is this: Is it possible for someone to know that you know that there is a god without themselves then also knowing that there is a god? I don't think so.

Or, is it possible for someone to know that it is possible to know that there is a god without also simultaneously knowing that there is a god?

More simply: Is it possible to know that a test-for-god is a valid test without knowing the results of the test?

If it isn't possible, then it may be impossible for the question "yes, but how do you know there is a god" to ever be satisfied without the questioner submitting to the test-for-god.

Is there?

Of course is seems reasonable that the person claiming knowledge of god is lying or mistaken. Careful scrutiny by the questioner may reveal the lie or the mistake, but this would cast no light on the existence of a god, only on the character of the believer.

The answer

The answer of the believer is "You can't know that I know." and maybe also "but you can know for yourself."

Of course, this second point is only true if we inhabit a universe in which there actually is a god who is willing to reveal himself, and who presumably will be the one to dictate the terms under which to do this.

The deeper question

The questioner really wants to know which universe they live in: with a god who will reveal himself - or without. (It would be embarrassing to undertake the proof-of-god test if it were unreliable).

But to know that he lives in a universe with such a god is to know that the proof-of-god would work and also to know that god exists.

And if he lives in a universe where there is no such god, then he cannot be sure what a proof-of-god test would show anyway.

The place for Faith

The only way to proceed with a proof-of-god is by faith, hoping that it will work if we inhabit a universe with a god, and of course if we are trying a valid proof-of-god.

Some might suppose that in such a universe with a god with paying any attention to that a proof-of-god will find it's way to those who are looking.

Faith is how I learned to walk, why I started brushing my teeth and how I learned assembly language with nothing but a mnemonic table and some few kilobytes of lightly commented assembler listings.

I don't see why god should be a special case.

The quest to validate the proof-of-god is the quest to discover god.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Do Be (do)

Following on from the my remark on right-intention and right-action
(and slighly paraphrased for clarity-of-extract):
To DO without BEING is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender.

Conversely, BEING without DOING is void. BEING without DOING really isn’t BEING —it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.

May your efforts to develop Christlike attributes be successful so that His image may be engraven in your countenance and His attributes manifest in your behavior.
When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future?