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Comments by SourTomatoSand

Go to: Neuroscientists uncover neural mechanisms of object recognition

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Hmm. If I took the motherboard out of my computer, hit it with a hammer, and observed that some aspects of the computer then stop working, I think it would be stretching it a bit to then proclaim that I'd found the basis of those functions.

A more accurate analogy would be to remove the graphics card and then observe that you lose hardware 3D rendering capability. You could then conclude that the graphics card is the basis for hardware 3D graphics rendering.

Sat, 16 Jul 2011 13:10:34 UTC | #850147

Go to: But can they suffer?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 8 by All About Meme :

Those types of pain have already been scientifically characterized as separate: nociception vs. stress response. BOTH are also present in other animal species-- just watch a lion take down a gazelle and see how the gazelle reacts before the lion gets its teeth into it. Both acute and chronic stress responses are observed in other mammals.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:30:10 UTC | #844610

Go to: But can they suffer?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by SourTomatoSand

Just one more thing I forgot to mention-- in humans, people with congenital insensitivity to pain have significantly decreased life expectancy and are prone to accidents like biting off parts of their tongues or breaking teeth.

The human intellect may be great, but without pain it can't alert you to, say, appendicitis, or any other disease whose primary symptom is pain. Since the "red flag" alert that you, Richard, mentioned, never evolved (or hasn't survived if it did), I would guess (keep in mind I'm not a biologist) that pain must be conserved in humans since there is no other mechanism available to provide warning.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 00:45:40 UTC | #844601

Go to: But can they suffer?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by SourTomatoSand

I don't think there should be any correlation between perception of pain and intelligence level, but from a cognitive psychological point of view, it might be useful to point out that perception of pain is associated with activity in the brainstem, in the pons, midbrain, medulla oblongata and thalamus-- structures common to any animal with a brain.

I would say the reason it would never have developed in plants is that they can't move, and thus can't react to stimulus. So perhaps perception of pain is positively correlated with ability to move, capping out at a certain degree of mobility.

Considering pet animals, including dogs, cats, and rodents, have been observed to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome in response to chronic physical abuse, there is no reason at all to assume they can't feel pain.

Lastly, I must point out that Descartes, whatever his contribution to mathematics, was a philosophical clod; his solipsist Cogito being the stuff of the thoughts of so many self-absorbed teens. There is abundant evidence that he thought animals did not feel pain because he believed it said so in the Bible.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 00:15:59 UTC | #844595

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 130 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 128 by Ballardian :

Comment 124 by God fearing Atheist

writing thousands of words as thoughtfully as possible

That's sort of the problem, innit?

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:13:21 UTC | #638416

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 121 by SourTomatoSand

Sweet zombie Jesus! Here's what I've learned so far from people trying to define postmodernism:

  1. Postmodernism can mean questioning of authority, but there are better words and phrases to describe that which are widely understood and don't require further qualification. For example, if I were to say "I'm practicing postmodernism in front of City Hall today," almost no one would take it to mean that I'm attending a protest. By this definition, the word postmodernism is useless at best.

  2. Postmodernism can mean "self-reference, skepticism, etc." but if you use the word "postmodern" to describe something, almost no one will know you're saying it is self-referential or skeptical, and even if they did, it is not clear which definition of self-referential or skeptical is intended. By this definition, the word postmodernism is useless at best.

  3. Postmodernism can refer to rebelling against modernism. Since modernism similarly is ill-defined, and there is much overlap in the few parts of the two that are actually defined, and further because modernism no longer describes popular thought, by this definition, the word postmodernism is useless at best.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 13:08:46 UTC | #638386

Go to: UPDATE: Fashionable Nonsense?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by SourTomatoSand

I dealt with this nonsense in my college Sociology classes (I'm a Psych major and it was, rather unfortunately, a requisite course). I found it sad that Sociology still seemed to be stuck in 1960's Marxist theory rather than adopting anything resembling the scientific method. One of the claims one of my professors liked to repeat was that the Native Americans were unable to see Columbus' ships because they were outside their experience (I am sure you have all heard this, and on this site I don't think I need to go into why it's ridiculous). I'd say that sums up the ideas of post-structuralism pretty well, and if I were to choose a well-defined philosophical term to define it I'd call it Solipsism.

Mon, 13 Jun 2011 17:51:11 UTC | #638020

Go to: Atheists Get Their "Brokeback Mountain" Moment in the New Sundance Film, "The Ledge"

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 42 by houkoholic :

The problem with House is that he simply re-affirms the stereotype of the strident elitist atheists who can't connect with people and goes around to insult others for their lack of rationality and intelligence for kicks. He is totally ruthless in his methods and has moral and ethical standards that is out of sync with the rest of the society and seems to only care about the medical puzzles he is confronted with and lacks compassion in others, while in the background the show portrays him as a highly flawed, lonely and almost hypocritically emotional person whom had to deal with his issues with alcohol and painkillers because he would otherwise be "empty". As much as I enjoyed the throw-away atheistic comments that Dr. House makes in the show, he's not what I would call a good atheists protagonist.

You know, I loved his character and identified with him quite a bit when I was in the Army. But that was before they started making him hallucinate and lose his mind and do insanely irrational things. The whole "he's just lashing out because he's lonely and hurting" thing is boring.

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 23:36:04 UTC | #636194

Go to: Atheists Get Their "Brokeback Mountain" Moment in the New Sundance Film, "The Ledge"

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 26 by God fearing Atheist :

I've seen one rave review, 5 mediocre to bad reviews, and one in Russian, which I can't read.

The rave review makes the lead character sound pretty damn immoral. The writer there implies the atheist lead takes the wife back into drugs after being sober for a long while, and straight out states that the atheist lead is intentionally trying to get the antagonist's wife to cheat just to spite him.

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 22:07:05 UTC | #636145

Go to: Atheists Get Their "Brokeback Mountain" Moment in the New Sundance Film, "The Ledge"

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 18 by wald0h :

SourTomatoSand

Uhh whether or not you like them is one thing, but there are some pretty big names in the movie.

Terrence Howard - iron man (huge blockbuster) Liv Tyler - Armageddon (huge blockbuster) Patrick Wilson - The Watchmen (huge blockbuster) Charlie Hunnam - Sons of Anarchy (okay so not a blockbuster but one of the best shows in television in my opinion)

So your definition of "A-list" is "been in any movie that was financially successful"? Terrence Howard had a bit part in the first Iron Man and was replaced by the much, much better Don Cheadle in the sequel, and is better known for being a criminal and wife-beating apologist. Liv Tyler had a bit part in Armageddon 13 years ago. Charlie Hunnam is the star of a cable TV series. Patrick Wilson had a bit part in Watchmen, also.

If that's all it takes to be A-list, they might as well have put Ashton Kutcher in the lead.

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 21:56:42 UTC | #636141

Go to: Atheists Get Their "Brokeback Mountain" Moment in the New Sundance Film, "The Ledge"

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by SourTomatoSand

All the reviews thus far on Rotten Tomatoes (only four, admittedly) are negative. Not surprising to me. Also, how are the stars of this "A-list"?

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 21:14:33 UTC | #636122

Go to: Kevorkian Dead at 83

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by SourTomatoSand

I grew up in the Detroit area, as well, and naturally heard a lot about Dr. Kevorkian growing up. I confess to feeling a bit guilty about him, now, because I grew up fundamentalist Christian and never stopped to consider all the negative affect displayed by my family and friends and the media towards him. As I recall there was no real debate over the matter; rather, Dr. Kevorkian's assistance to the suffering was treated universally among the mainstream as something that was self-evidently terrible (again, this is how I remember it). Had I really stopped to think about it (which I do not ever recall being asked to do, by anyone, media or acquaintance), I would like to think that I would have come down on Jack's side.

Though, maybe not-- as I said, I was raised fundamentalist Christian, and I agree with the OP that it was really a case of religious intolerance.

In any case, in recent times I rediscovered Dr. Kevorkian and, like Julie, have become quite the fan. If only he were representative of the Detroit area at large, it would be a much nicer place to live.

Sun, 05 Jun 2011 15:10:39 UTC | #634250

Go to: A worthless and dangerous report

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by SourTomatoSand

Well, this makes me happy that I turned down my acceptance to John Jay College at least...

Wed, 25 May 2011 12:46:08 UTC | #630746

Go to: Religious discrimination?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by SourTomatoSand

ZenDruid,

The TSA's "solution" is a security hazard in itself. Their security theatre gathers hundreds of people at checkpoints, which makes those checkpoints a viable target in and of their selves. The suicide bomber need not even make his way to the plane, he can simply walk in the air port and detonate at the check point. This way he need not even worry about hiding his device in a manner that the scanners won't detect. Same applies to anyone using a firearm.

Tue, 24 May 2011 17:53:09 UTC | #630354

Go to: Religious discrimination?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by SourTomatoSand

Eh. Random searches are not in any way effective, anyway, and the police aren't the ones who are going to be really preventing terror plots. Police may well be the ones to stop a single lunatic with no connections from shooting up a bus terminal, but an actual terror plot has connections, multiple people, associations with organizations, etc. and this is where the intelligence organizations come in.

If that terrorist with the suicide vest makes it to a security checkpoint, there has already been a major intelligence failure.

That said, all intelligence agencies build source profiles-- that is, a profile of a hypothetical person who is likely to have the information they are looking for. Elements of a source profile include profession, education, economic background, and, necessarily, ethnicity.

Tue, 24 May 2011 15:11:40 UTC | #630282

Go to: I was wrong: BioLogos promotes Jesus, not evolution

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by SourTomatoSand

I wonder why I keep finding atheists giving organizations like BioLogos and Templeton the benefit of the doubt. Prof. Dawkins posted a little while back asking whether we should support Christian missionaries in Africa over similar Muslim organizations-- this reminds me of the same (though in Professor Dawkins' defense, his answer was also no). I liken this to the lessons we are learning from US Cold War foreign/military policy. In a nutshell: whether one is an enemy of my enemy should have no bearing on whether we are friends.

Mon, 23 May 2011 15:47:15 UTC | #629917

Go to: A.C. Grayling's Top 5 Non-Religious Books on Living a Good Life

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 45 by Ranting Socrates :

That was one of the problems for me as well. I took a quick scan of the first ten pages of each chapter, and I did not learn anything new. I of course think before I speak, or speak after thinking etc.

That's funny. I was reading more today and I was just thinking, "I think the reason I don't like this is because while I agree with what it has to say, it has no teaching value."

Sun, 15 May 2011 22:11:12 UTC | #627178

Go to: A.C. Grayling's Top 5 Non-Religious Books on Living a Good Life

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by SourTomatoSand

So far it is written like the Bible-- just pronouncements. Actually, to me it's more like reading the Poetic Edda. Anyway, there are no citations of any kind from what I've read.

Sat, 14 May 2011 00:25:08 UTC | #626623

Go to: A.C. Grayling's Top 5 Non-Religious Books on Living a Good Life

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by SourTomatoSand

I am reading it now and have to admit I find it dreadful, and agree with Steve Zara. So far I am still on Genesis and it reads as an attempt to obfuscate scientific facts into having mystic quasi-religious gravitas.

Sat, 14 May 2011 00:14:29 UTC | #626621

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 135 by SourTomatoSand

Comment Removed by Author

Fri, 13 May 2011 21:48:00 UTC | #626582

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 134 by SourTomatoSand

Triple post.

Fri, 13 May 2011 21:47:22 UTC | #626581

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 133 by SourTomatoSand

Cf. my comment about him being unarmed. It doesn't matter. If he refused to surrender, the only legal option was to shoot to kill.

Fri, 13 May 2011 21:46:56 UTC | #626580

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 114 by SourTomatoSand

A lot of good points being made here, and I agree-- the US cannot order extrajudicial assassinations and maintain the moral high ground in any case. And I believe this despite that I am glad that bin Laden is dead. Which is why I hope that President Obama actually issued a "kill or capture" order, which would be legal.

I can tell you from personal experience that it does not matter whether bin Laden was armed or not. There is no time in a raid, where rounds have already been fired by both sides, to determine whether each target is armed or not. Simply not surrendering is grounds to shoot because it is a good indicator that the target intends to do some sort of violence. The Seals had no way of knowing whether he was concealing a weapon nearby, or if he had a detonator on his person. Also, the people saying they should have used nonlethal force-- it is illegal for military personnel to use nonlethal force against an enemy combatant during a military operation under the Geneva Conventions. The thinking behind this is to minimize unnecessary suffering by making all shots as lethal as possible. The only legal recourse they had to put down bin Laden after (if?) he refused to surrender was, in fact, to take a lethal shot.

Fri, 13 May 2011 15:06:42 UTC | #626465

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by SourTomatoSand

As for my feelings on Pakistan-- yes, I know the history of Pakistan. There are some good bits. I didn't mean that it had always been a horrible state. It has been since Zia ul-Haq. Bhutto wasn't much better, either, and Musharraf was probably the worst thing to happen to the country, especially since the west had to deal with the consequences of him in Afghanistan. And then there are the blasphemy laws there, the rampant corruption, the ridiculous abuses of power of the ISI, discrimination within Islam against the Ahmadiyya, and the whole nuclear weapons thing... oh yeah, and Pashtun culture in general. I can't think of a single thing I like about that country.

On topic-- whether it was an extrajudicial assassination relies entirely on whether or not there was a capture order, or if it was specifically a kill mission. If there was a capture first/kill if necessary order, it is my understanding of the Geneva Conventions that it is legal to kill him if he didn't surrender, even if he was unarmed-- you never really know if someone is unarmed until after they are dead or have been strip-searched, especially when you're dealing with an organization known for strapping bombs to its members.

Wed, 11 May 2011 21:45:18 UTC | #626008

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by SourTomatoSand

Flagged. This is exactly what I mean about those who throw around accusations of "islamophilia" or "not wanting to appear Islamophobic."

Wed, 11 May 2011 21:16:03 UTC | #626002

Go to: Can you share your struggle with religious family members?

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by SourTomatoSand

I was raised fundamentalist evangelical Christian myself. Which I always felt was odd, because my mom was British born, only came to the states in her teens. Her parents were Church of England, but my mother got caught up in the wave of born-again Evangelicals in the United States. I never was able to believe any of it, myself, and I finally gave up trying when I was about 14. I'm 26 now, and after a lot of strife, I again have a good relationship with my family. My mother and I still have debates about reilgion, but since I can easily argue her into a corner, she is bringing it up less and less now (though I find it fun to bring it up once in a while).

I suppose I am lucky that although she thinks I'm going to Hell for being an atheist, she still has a sense of humor about the whole thing. I would hope that your family might develop one over time, too.

Then I went and married a Christian Scientist. I'm just a glutton for punishment!

Wed, 11 May 2011 15:11:46 UTC | #625864

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 64 by skeelo :

Can we seriously stop accusing each other of being afraid of being called Islamophobic? It's worse than actually being called Islamophobic, because I expect better from people here, and the term as used is meaningless anyway.

As for Pakistan: horrible in just about every single way. But I wonder what it is about them that puts their domestic violence rates so high when, as mentioned, other Islamic countries aren't even close. And that is what I mean, in general-- you have to tease out what is culture and what is religion if you're going to blame one or the other (and yes, Islam is a horrible religion: I have never claimed it wasn't), and looking at stats from one country doesn't do that-- what it shows is a correlation between living in Pakistan and being abusive to your wife. Part of that may be the influence of Islam, or it may not be. If data presents itself that shows a clear correlation between Islamic faith and domestic violence, I have no problem abandoning my position on this. (I think the best way to do so would be to study domestic violence rates among Muslims born in developed nations who are not below the poverty line, but I am not aware of any such study.) But if we just accuse an entire major religion of being full of wife-beaters because it sounds like it should be true, we are bigots, and we lose all our credibility when we talk about the negative effects of religion.

Wed, 11 May 2011 14:25:32 UTC | #625849

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by SourTomatoSand

I'm done with this conversation. I'm not going to argue with somebody who is only saying that his feelings on the matter are fact because it's "common knowledge."

Wed, 11 May 2011 00:35:36 UTC | #625616

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 56 by SourTomatoSand

The report also lists nearly-100-percent-Muslim Tajikistan (where it is also the state religion), which ranks lower than the US in domestic abuse at 23% in the study listed.

This study shows a 38% domestic violence rate in Iran, which is better than secular Japan and Christian Uganda. This WHO study puts the figure at 15% in the past year, but has a whopping 42% sexually abused in the previous year. It also finds unemployment to have the strongest correlation with abuse.

Here is a more general paper which considers Arab countries, and finds them to be on par with Israel. This one also goes into the issue of the perception that domestic violence is a personal, family matter which law enforcement shouldn't be involved in, which is on par with US public opinion in the 70's and 80's.

Tue, 10 May 2011 22:44:54 UTC | #625573

Go to: Sam Harris on the death of Osama bin Laden, and why it makes me uncomfortable

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by SourTomatoSand

Yes, again, I'm not disagreeing that Islam promotes misogyny. The issue we were talking about was domestic violence, and the reason I'm taking issue with special condemnation of Islamic cultures in regards to it is because it happens freaking everywhere, constantly, including America and Great Britain. Parents controlling their families (sometimes even using violence to do so) is a human universal, and so is men beating their wives, and less often, women beating their husbands. Anyway, look at the UNICEF report I linked to if you want to see data that Islamic cultures are not more correlated with domestic violence than are other ones. According to that report it is most common in cultures with a Confucian tradition (Japan and Korea, especially), and those which are predominately Catholic (Nicaragua and Mexico, among others).

Government policy on women and women's rights is a different issue; the policy on women in Islamic states is almost universally awful. But that is a different thing than domestic violence, and I don't think you can use religion as an indicator of domestic violence, or vice-versa, and you certainly can't do so by examining an anecdotal story about ONE individual, as in the discussion about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Tue, 10 May 2011 20:13:42 UTC | #625520