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Comments by Schrodinger's Cat

Go to: Tired of arguing

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat

How do you all find the will to keep engaging, to find those precious few that can be 'turned around for the better'

Instead of seeing the argument as an attempt to convert others, see it as a re-affirmation to oneself of one's stance. Whenever I have an argument, the person I most have to convince of the truth of what I am saying is myself. If others accept the argument too.....that's an added bonus.

Tue, 21 Aug 2012 05:34:26 UTC | #951101

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by Schrodinger's Cat

One of the points that Nietzsche made with his concept of 'Ubermensch' was that of defining a set of values that people ought to live by......and that people should live as if those values were meaningful. The whole Ubermensch idea was glorified make believe that people would take seriously.....yet still knowing that it was make believe. I cannot help but feel that that is also a position that many who still follow a traditional religion are in. The 'god' trappings may be thrown away...but the core set of human values remain...and they become more akin to culture. Of course, the difference with Nietzsche is that he throws away a lot of values that derive solely from there being a god at the heart of the religion and tries to arrive at what we would today regard as a humanist set of values.

Many in religion still cling to the old 'fundamentalist' values...hence creationists, Islamic jihadists, etc etc. But I think there are also a good deal more for whom their religion is akin to what Nietzsche called for....and I think that is probably true of the more progressive and liberal Jews.

The only real issue is then....to what point the core values of a religion have been abandoned to the point where it might as well be humanism anyway, and whether what remains is distinctly still a culture.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 20:50:29 UTC | #951057

Go to: Refuting supernatural

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 185 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 184 by Steve Zara

I have, in a philosophical paper, seen it given a very clear definition: that which is beyond science.

However, this doesn't mean that it actually refers to anything real. It is in the same category as the word 'unknowable'.

I believe there is considerable confusion because 'supernatural' is assumed to be a valid property of something. It's not. It's an attribute that can never be justifiably used because that something is beyond science can never be demonstrated - it is impossible.

My point was essentially that 'supernatural' fits all the exact same criteria that define 'does not exist'. The two are identical......

Back in the 70s, there was a guy who, realising that a total eclipse of the sun was due, decided to make a litte money out of gullible Americans. During totality he opened up 200 metal cans, which he then closed before the sun re-appeared. When the eclipse was over, he then sold the cans for $20 a time as 'canned dark from the eclipse'.

This is a true story....and spawned copycat cases ( in fact amazingly you can find 'Canned Hawaiian Dark' for sale on Amazon ! ).

And it seems to me that 'canned dark' is the perfect metaphor for 'the supernatural'. The tins of 'canned dark' even come with a label that warns that the guarantee ' Contains zero photons' is null and void if the can is opened. Thus you can never establish if there really is dark from the eclipse inside the can.

And of course....because dark is immaterial and is actually the absence of anything physical....you would not find any inside even if you did open the can.

'Canned dark' and the supernatural are metaphorically identical.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 16:48:02 UTC | #950961

Go to: Refuting supernatural

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 182 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 181 by Akaei

While it's not ghosts and magic it would be some stretch to refer to this realm as "natural."

Why ever not ? You are creating arbitrary distinctions. If something caused our universe, then there is a clear causal chain from that physics to our own.

You seem desperate for something to pin the word 'supernatural' to. But I really don't understand why. Even if God did exist.....what difference would it make if he was 'supernatural' rather than natural ? What would being supernatural add to any such god....that being natural wouldn't ?

What you are actually doing is deliberately trying to limit the natural....in order to provide space ( the god of the gaps ) for supernatural goings on. This says more about your belief structure than it does about the universe.

'The supernatural' is really an utterly meaningless term. It is precisely that vagueness and ambiguity that allows it to carry on deluding people.

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 21:03:48 UTC | #950840

Go to: Manila floods an expression of God's wrath?

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

Um....looks like that petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak, vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully has been at work again.

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 20:56:58 UTC | #950757

Go to: Refuting supernatural

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 179 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 176 by Akaei

With our current knowledge, ability to gather information and understand what we will gather we cannot know if there is a supernatural or what it is to be supernatural. But even if we could, perhaps indirectly, gather information about something that fits every preconception of what it is to be supernatural, we would still have a long way to go before being able to agree on definitions of nature and supernature.

You consistently fail to grasp the issue.

Before you can begin to talk about 'beyond nature', it is incumbent upon you to establish not only that nature has a boundary, but just exactly where that boundary is !

Otherwise one ends up with the ridiculous situation of just how long is a piece of string. How the blazes can you argue for something 'beyond the end of the string' when you cannot even tell me if the string even has an end ! And how can you meaningfully talk about beyond the end of the string, when you cannot tell me if that string ends at one inch or 100 trillion light years....or never !

And to add absurdity to what is already ridiculous.....you then seek to argue that there is somehow more string beyond the END of the string ! Magical string that is totally undetectable.

So not only can you not tell me how long a piece of string is....but you add the additional absurdity of invoking additional invisible string. Just how long is a piece of partially invisible string ??

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 18:23:49 UTC | #950752

Go to: Translating the British

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Schrodinger's Cat

I don't think it's a sense of being anti patriotic......but that I don't see in what sense the whole charade is pro patriotic. Certainly not when the cost of the whole thing is some 20 times what our ever so caring government hopes to claw back by scrapping council tax benefit. A handful of people win medals at great cost...while millions get screwed in the name of an 'austerity' that barely seems to affect the wealthy. Welcome to the reality of 'team GB'........oh and 'we're all in this together...cough....cough'

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 21:12:59 UTC | #950693

Go to: Translating the British

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

and recoil from the horrible adman slogan, "Team GB".

The problem I have with the Olympics....indeed sport in general.....is that I don't see in what sense any of the sports persons are playing for me. It doesn't affect my life one iota if 'Team GB' win or lose. I may wish them success in their personal endeavour, and I may even have a vague sense of supporting 'England' at events like the World Cup, but I am not under any illusions that the endeavour is being performed for any entity of which I feel a beneficial sense of belonging.

I think that is largely because there is a complete disconnect, brought on by a sense of the 'superstar' level of sports players, from one's personal life. If I watch the local team play cricket, I can at least identify that the players are local people and there is some sense of 'belonging'. But watching government ministers vie for who gets to sit next to David Beckham just leaves me utterly cynical.

I should add that this same level of indifference is one of the reasons I think 'group selection' cannot explain culture or society. There has to actually exist a benefit enhancing goup in the first place.

Sat, 11 Aug 2012 14:45:44 UTC | #950674

Go to: Refuting supernatural

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 171 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 170 by Akaei

But to claim there is nothing above, beyond or outside nature is pure assertion

No, it is based on a simple very logical premise. You cannot possibly argue for above, beyond, or outside of nature unless you can show that nature actually has some measurable boundary that would define a 'beyond'. Given that nature means 'all that exists'....the very act of establishing that anything existed beyond any given boundary means nature is expanded and that particular 'beyond' was not supernatural after all. This is an insurmountable problem for the supernatural. The only way you can know something exists 'beyond' any horizon is to measure that something exists there. The very act of doing to places that area within the natural !

You will....by definition....never arrive at a beyond whose existence cannot in some way be measured.......because the very act of establishing that there is a beyond moves the new realm into the natural.

That is absolute 100 % categorical logical proof that 'the superatural' is permanently undetectable. Anything that can never be detected under any circumstances.....to all extents and purposes does not exist.

Thu, 09 Aug 2012 18:13:16 UTC | #950567

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 49 by Ignorant Amos

An absolutely breathtaking view of the Milkyway as seen from Mars.....

That must be the pic that proved that the Milky Way has a bar.

Thu, 09 Aug 2012 17:40:23 UTC | #950566

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 117 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 116 by JHJEFFERY

WIth all due respect, I disagree with your mischaractarization of the above posts. You were clearly conflating differeent meanings of the terms "why" for argumentation purposes. Whether intentional or not, I cannot and would not opine. But none of the rejoinders to your misapprehension had anything to do to with bias. The fault lies in your your inability to discern the distinctions between the meanings of "why" as a intentiionality and "why" as a mechanism for explaining phenomenon.

Well...no. If you read the posts you will see I was responding to a very much blanket statement by raytoman. One that made none of the distinction you elucidate. My point was that some try to evade the 'why' question altogether for specific issues. Of course the distinctions you mention exist...but it seems to be easier for some to skirt round the whole issue using a blanket negation.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 00:28:19 UTC | #950509

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 44 by phil rimmer

The question in the UK is- administered by Camelot, Ladbrokes or Lloyds?

Well...none of those. Just as I can make automatic voluntary contributions towards my pension....why can't I make a targetted monthly contribution towards 'science' ? The government takes tax, but I have no real say on what percent of that goes towards science. Those of us who gripe that not enough is spent on science should be given the opportunity to put our money where our mouth is and make targetted contributions. This need not involve all the massive bureaucratic waste of Whitehall....or any 'charitable' status. If AVCs can be handled with relative ease, I don't see why a similar system for worthwhile endeavours cannot exist. It just needs someone with the resolve to say 'Make it so'.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 00:13:53 UTC | #950508

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 25 by Steve Zara

This isn't true. It absolutely is not a choice between funding Mars missions and leaving some on the fringes of survival, and that has got nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. The annual cost of this Mars mission is less than the annual budget of McDonalds for advertising Happy Meals. I don't see great moral anguish about humankind's choice between fast-food advertising and starvation.

I wish there was some organisation through which people could voluntarily contribute to this or that scientific research of their choice, and know that the money was getting there. It's not that I'd want science to obtain charity status, but that I don't think it should be entirely the business of government or big business to decide upon funding.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 18:14:59 UTC | #950505

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 115 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 111 by susanlatimer

I'm curious as to the distinction between how and why that's being discussed.

Well....I think the other posts illustrate precisely the semantic bias that I've described. And of course the last people to perceive a bias are those who actually have it.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 12:39:02 UTC | #950421

Go to: Rise of religion in Russia

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Schrodinger's Cat

In the days of the Soviet Union I knew that religion is "the opium of the masses". It was clear for everyone that only old people went to church.

But now I'm afraid the situation in my country has changed.

What ? You mean people no longer have the KBG show up in the middle of the night and drag you off to the endless Gulag camps in Siberia ?

Dreadful ! Bring back Communism. It's only killed 100 million people.

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 15:44:19 UTC | #950412

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 110 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 109 by JHJEFFERY

My point was that those who try to seperate how and why are in my view every bit as guilty of creating 'disembodied' entities. You are trying to negate a large part of causality that is not simply covered by any 'how'......and what actually comes through is not any scientific basis for doing so but purely personal beliefs. If a believer over-emphasises the 'why' to suit their beliefs, you are every bit as guilty of under-emphasising it to suit your lack of belief.

Thus it becomes mightily suspicious that nobody would have a problem with 'why do stars exist ?'......yet 'why do humans exist ?' is strangely subjected to a completely different ontology....never mind that stars and humans are both physical manifestations of the universe !

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 19:00:01 UTC | #950403

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 107 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 106 by raytoman

Einstein "assumed" that the speed of light (in a vacuum) was a constant

Um, no, the Michelson-Morley experiment ( and all subsequent refinements ) showed conclusively that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant. It's not an assumption, its a direct scientific measurement. The whole point of relativity is that it explains the 'why' of the result of the Michelson-Morely experiment.....it answers 'why' the speed of light is the same for all observers.

The thing Einstein did 'assume' was the equivalence of gravitational and inertial masses. The whole of general relativity is based upon that not being a coincidence.......as that is what leads to gravity being equivalent to acceleration.

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 05:39:29 UTC | #950395

Go to: Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 307 by Schrodinger's Cat

                 I would like to hear more about the research in this area. Particular theories of how people who have been blind all their life have a NDE. They are able to see the operating room, see the area outside the hospital, etc. It seems there are some stories of people who identify and describe in detail things they should not have been able to see before or during their NDE.

The 'blind' reports raise more questions than they answer. Even if vision somehow returns...'sight' is something that has to be learned by the brain, for it to make sense of what it sees. The question arises....how would the blind person know that the experience they were having WAS actually sight ? My own suspicion is that what is happening is not actually genuine sight, but only activation of whatever part of the brain gets triggered when there is 'recognition' of an image. Not unlike blindsight.

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 02:44:51 UTC | #950394

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 105 by Schrodinger's Cat

A better question than simply 'why do human beings exist'.....as the answer is blatantly obviously evolution, is to ask whether intelligence is an inevitable, or highly likely, consequence of evolution. That then leads to the much more interesting and scientific question of why evolution 'tends' to give rise to intelligence....or even whether one could argue that it generally does.

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 23:42:52 UTC | #950390

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 104 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 103 by JHJEFFERY

My small point, SC, was that the question always starts in the middle--by assuming there is a "why." There may be, may not be, but to proceed without having answered the fundamental question of whether a "why" exists, is illogical.

Newton didn't have any problem asking 'why' apples fall. Einstein didn't have an problem asking 'why' the speed of light is constant. European science budgets don't seem to have any problem spending 10 billion on the Large Hadron Collider to ask 'why' particle mass exists.

Yet for some bizzare reason, when it comes to human beings people get all finickety and insist 'why' is an irrelevant question.

Hmm.

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 23:33:40 UTC | #950389

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 102 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 101 by Alan4discussion

"Why are we here?", is the sort of question a faith-head asks

It's a perfectly legitimate scientific question....every bit as much as 'why do apples fall ?'

I simply don't understand the doublethink that is required in order for people to consider 'why' to be a legitimate scientific question for everything except the existence of the person asking the question !

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 20:03:15 UTC | #950387

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 97 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 74 by Steve Zara

The question is about ultimate origins because, I guess, people are after ultimate answers! We want to solve the mystery of the crime of creation, like a detective. What would a satisfying answer be like?

My view is that we can't get an ultimate answer, because there isn't one, because there can't be one. That's my philosophical position.

However, we should always look for ever-simpler answers where we can.

I think the single biggest mistake we make, after 4 centuries of observing how nature 'follows laws of mathematics', is in failing to grasp that it is actually mathematics that is following the nature of reality. That is why arguments about 'something from nothing' are meaningless.....they presuppose that mathematics has some prior existence, and that is what causes all the metaphysical headaches. Once one gets one's head around Krauss, this is effectively what he is saying......that it is physical reality and not pure mathematics that defines 'nothing'. That is so counter-intuitive that I don't think philosophers will ever get their heads round it.

The ultimate implication of a Krauss-ian universe is that it is made of 'ultimate stuff' that we will probaby never get to grips with because all the concepts that we could possibly use to think about it exist at a higher level.

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 02:18:20 UTC | #950349

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 96 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 95 by raytoman

Wondering why the universe exists is nonsense.

I'd say statements such as that are nonsense, and one really has to wonder why some are so desperate for the question not to be asked.

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 01:32:27 UTC | #950347

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 59 by phil rimmer

Yes, I understand your point. But it isn't the fact that life is an extremely complex form of matter that I'm getting at, but that it seems to be the only extremely complex form of matter one can envisage either in this univese or even one with different physics. As you say, it is evolution and self-replication that gives rise to that complexity.

One doesn't have to be religious to sense that this inherent struggle for life somehow shatters the purity of 'Plato's Heaven'.....especially if ( like me ) one has the Max Tegmark type view that existence is an an expression of mathematics. It seems to me the ultimate paradox that 'the only way things can be ' leads inexorably to creatures who think there's something wrong with the only way things can be. I'm not sure more mathematics gets one past that.

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 12:11:45 UTC | #950281

Go to: Para-naturalistic theories cannot lead to practical engineering

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

I can see the point being made.....but it's really just another instance of the 'supernatural' straw man that is every bit as fallacious as the supernatural itself.

By definition ( and you are the one creating that definition ) everything in nature is natural. Therefore by definition 'the supernatural' does not exist.....as existence means within nature.

However, that does not mean that anything that I then choose to place into the 'supernatural' category is non-existent. After all...it is me who places it there....not nature.

Thus, the Moon does not suddenly cease to exist if I label it supernatural. So the fact that something is labelled as 'supernatural' is actually no evidence whatever as to its actual existence......which is an entirely seperate matter and determinable by scientific investigation.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 17:11:50 UTC | #950230

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 43 by Steve Zara

That's a point of view. I'm sure you would expect me to say I don't agree with, and I don't! I don't believe one can talk about the universe being indifferent, because indifference is an attitude, and as far as I know, universes don't look like the kind of thing that can have attitudes, unless you are a deist or pantheist of some kind. Being remiss is the kind of things brains do. I consider that describing existence to be remiss is a case of 'meaning leak', assuming that what goes on inside our heads can somehow leak out and be real elsewhere.

This is true, but if intelligent life is ubiquitous then creatures that think the universe is a bit remiss are everywhere and are as much a part of the fabric of that universe as the stars and galaxies. Thus the very laws of nature have a tendency to produce creatures who find the laws of nature a bit odd.

What's more, its not like there's other vastly complex stuff we can imagine that might have some other properties or even 'think' different stuff. Intelligent life, with all its ponderings over what 'makes sense', seems to be the only hugely complex thing any laws of nature ( even different ones ) could create.

In recent times we have lots of scientists waxing lyrical about 'Goldilocks zones' around other stars. You can almost see the teleology start to creep back into cosmology.....as if the universe is 'designed for life'. However I actually support the 'rare Earth' hypothesis.....I think it is likely we may be alone in the entire observable universe. There are logical reasons for supporting that hypothesis.....but there is also the resolution of the paradox of ubiquity of life seeming to require a greater 'moral' explanation.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 02:33:28 UTC | #950200

Go to: Against All Gods

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 3 by Steve Zara

So-called irreducible complexity is never an argument for a creator, because a creator isn't the kind of thing that helps us understand ultimate origins. It's not just wrong, it's irrelevant.

True, the creator argument doesn't make any sense. But then, the 'that's just the way things are' argument ultimately doesn't make any sense either.

If one envisages an entire universe populated with suffering, struggling creatures......one of countless universes populated with suffering, struggling creatures.....it does start to seem a bit remiss of the entirety of existence to just 'happen' to be that way. Mere 'indifference' scarcely begins to describe an infinitude of this.

One can get away with arguing our thoughts are irrelevant and the universe should not 'make sense' to us, if we are just an isolated blip in the middle of nowhere. But if the entirety of existence out to infinity is populated with endless creatures who think the very laws of nature that created them suck.....I would argue that very definitely does need explaining.

Conversely, one could turn this whole argument around and argue that it shows we are alone.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 01:46:01 UTC | #950197

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 28 by raytoman

The Skeptical Inquirer has debunked most of the irrational crap (at least once) but the same old crap keeps regenerating in each new generation. Eric Von Daniken still lives, Roswell is still here, the Scientists (the few that still live) are hiding the truth which is "out there".

One of my favourites is Ian Ridpath's demolition of the infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. To watch the many documentaries on the matter, one would think that so many 'trained observers' ( a term I find increasingly dubious ) could not get things so wrong.

Ridpath shows pretty conclusively that the 'UFO' seen in the forest was the Orford Ness lighthouse. The real clincher, and it is what demolishes the story of Colonel Charles Holt, is where Ridpath shows that Holt mistook which of the two bases he was at, and when the object bearing is amended for that....it exactly matches that of the lighthouse. Case closed.

Frankly, the fact that American servicemen with nuclear missiles could not distinguish a freakin lighthouse is scarier than extraterrestrial visitors !

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 03:01:26 UTC | #950090

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by Schrodinger's Cat

I think the problem with identifying memetic replication arises solely because one is trying to identify it at too high and broad a level. One needs a closer analogy to genes...

At the most basic level, one can find an extremely accurate meme in the letters of the alphabet. The alphabet is a structure that daily gets copied with pretty much 100% accuracy. This is of course analogous to the 4 letters of DNA code.

Then one has words. These are long lasting memes.....which do in fact 'evolve' over time. Its interesting to note how many new words are alterations to existing words, either in form or context...similar to genes.

To take the analogy further, sentences or short pieces of prose are the chromosomes. In that context, consider the huge number of short 'sayings' or quotable quotes that exist within culture. In fact its interesting to note how most political or religious organisations have short 'slogans' and religions have short stories....parables. The brevity itself makes the slogan easier to remember......less likely to 'mutate'.

And so on. So the fact that someone might not have the exact brain state as Marx on reading about dialectic materialism is sort of missing the point. The level of complexity plays a huge factor in ability to 'copy'....and clearly there is a simpler level at which memes most certainly do get copied with a high degree of accuracy.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 02:39:51 UTC | #950089

Go to: Scapegoat for Catholic evils?

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat

There comes a point where an organisation reeks of evil and hypocrisy to such an extent that one really doesn't care if there are to be found one or two 'innocent' people within its hierarchy of power. [Removed by moderator]

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 19:30:46 UTC | #950069