Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Because You Can't Put Free Will Into A Test Tube, He's Decided It Doesn't Exist

Oops, I mean "decided", I guess.

Tom Gilson eloquently dismantles a bit of recent materialist foolishness.

Firing Public Union Workers Yields A Net Gain In Employment

Because pouring valuable resources down a unionized sinkhole leads to less wealth to create real jobs.

Mish explains further.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The "Rich" Skate On Taxes. Not.


They Know That You Can't Know

At Slate, a defense of a "humble agnosticism". No doubt to be jumped all over by New Atheist "skeptics". It does contain this bit of inanity:
Atheists have no evidence—and certainly no proof!—that science will ever solve the question of why there is something rather than nothing. Just because other difficult-seeming problems have been solved does not mean all difficult problems will always be solved. And so atheists really exist on the same superstitious plane as Thomas Aquinas, who tried to prove by logic the possibility of creation "ex nihilo" (from nothing). His eventual explanation entailed a Supreme Being standing outside of time and space somehow endowing it with existence (and interfering once in a while) without explaining what caused this source of "uncaused causation" to be created in the first place.
One does not explain what does not need explaining. Uncaused causes are not caused by anything. They are not created. They are where explanation end. And to refer to Aquinas as superstitious is itself deeply superstitious.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Actually, You Cause Me To Fret Overmuch About How To Somehow Get Through Your Thick Skulls And Sophistic Defense Mechanisms In Order To Keep You Out Of Hell

But shattering my perceptions? Not so much.

P.Z. Myers:
Scientists and atheists do something that many believers find repellent: we shatter their perception of their relationship to the universe. And understandably, they don't like that.

[the usual philosophically/theologically autistic blather follows]


Seen in comments here:
“Republicans, corrupt and cowardly as they are, still have some nominal sense that you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Democrats look at the goose and think ‘deep-fry.’”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Absolutely Brilliant

The guy who did the critically acclaimed (and quite amusing) YouTube reviews of The Phantom Menace also did Attack Of The Clones.

Straight Talk

What this guy said:

H/T American Thinker

"Big Government Makes For Bad Journalism"

Dr. Zero:
Big Government makes for bad journalism. As I like to point out whenever someone like David Frum gushes over “moderates,” there is no meaningful way to be moderate when a carnivorous super-State is chowing down on huge portions of the private sector, while dismissing bedrock Constitutional rightswith an irritated wave of its hand. You either resist the onslaught of the State with all your might, or bear passive witness to its expansion.

At this moment in American history, there is no functional difference between a genuine “centrist” and Dave Weigel’s right-wing “ratf**kers.” If you think you should be allowed to keep your own medical insurance, and see your own doctor, you’re taking an extreme partisan stance. If you don’t think the government should be able to revoke the First Amendment or due process rights of private corporations at its convenience, you are a declared enemy of the State.

For the same reason, journalists can only make the thinnest pretense of objectivity when covering the super-State. Merely reporting honestly on its past and current activities would qualify a journalist for associate membership in the Ratf**ker Pack. As my Green Room colleague Karl points out, some of Weigel’s most intellectually offensive emails concerned the kind of organized narrative manipulation that appears to have been the true purpose of JournoList all along. In the immense political struggle now under way, there is no room on the sidelines.

Mainstream media figures want to pose as friendly partners in an intelligent conversation, but the size and power of the government they cover makes it impossible to analyze dispassionately. In their hearts, journalists really hate the idea of seeing that exciting mega-government torn down, or they believe it’s impossible to do so. That’s why they see the new breed of aggressive, Tea Party-endorsed Republicans as either enemies or lunatics. It doesn’t help that they’re well aware of ongoing statist efforts to control or subsidize the media. Even those reporters who aren’t True Believers are reluctant to earn a spot on the enemies list of an eternally triumphant statist elite.

It’s striking how much venom Dave Weigel directed at people who never insulted him personally. In the pressure cooker of an overwhelming, and collapsing, centralized government, the personal and political are fused into a single identity. Asking uncomfortable questions is an act of rebellion, and effective resistance to the will of the elite is a declaration of war. Media operatives, who eat and drink politics with every meal, are just a little further down the spiral of bitterness and desperation that awaits us all.
See also this NeoNeocon piece.

Five Minutes Into The Future

The pussyfooting around is not going to last forever.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"We Are All Going To Have To Fix This Ourselves And It Would Be Best If The Morons In DC Were Not Involved."

Good A.J. Strata piece.

It's The Dad Life


We're In The Best Of Hands

Key House and Senate lawmakers approved far-reaching new financial rules early Friday after weeks of division, delay and frantic last-minute dealmaking. The dawn compromise set up a potential vote in both houses of Congress next week that could send the landmark legislation to President Obama by July 4.

Lawmakers pulled an all-nighter, wrapping up their work at 5:39 a.m. -- more than 20 messy, mind-numbing hours after they began Thursday morning.

"It's a great moment. I'm proud to have been here," said a teary-eyed Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee led the effort in the Senate. "No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we've done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another Good Doctor Zero Piece


A taste:
Jindal is often dismissed for delivering a clumsy speech at the dawn of his national career, but the yeoman Republicans understand something the rest of their country is slowly realizing: leadership has little to do with impressing pundits and scoring well at Washington parlor games. The current occupant of the Oval Office had a finely drafted political resume, stuffed with empty “achievements” that qualified him to do nothing except demand money and power. The horrifying inadequacy of such hollow men is on display off the coast of Louisiana.


Federal and state governments are riddled with people like Barack Obama, producing a system completely focused on feeding itself, and too bloated to take effective action. It is almost completely insulated from consequence. Its wits are dulled by its perceived lack of budgetary or behavioral restrictions. Its deconstruction will require the conviction and charisma of Sarah Palin, the brilliance of Bobby Jindal, the courage of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and the enthusiasm of the primary winners from Tuesday night. The American people should no longer settle for representatives whose resumes contain nothing but political accomplishments – as if those are somehow worth a damn compared to private-sector experience. It took a lot of accomplished politicians to engineer a government with over a hundred trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.


The victors in the November elections will win front-line positions in the greatest economic, cultural, and political struggle of our lifetimes. Their challenge will be to reintroduce concepts like due process, Constitutional restraint, and fiscal responsibility to a public grown accustomed to suspending all of those things, during a never-ending string of “emergencies.” They’ll have to explain why “freedom” is not a careful bargain with unlimited state power, and why markets are not “free” when the State has the power to revoke anyone’s presence in them, whenever it sees fit. They will be tasked with teaching an increasingly dependent population that no society can survive for long by devouring itself. There will be no room on the front lines for tired old men whose primary concern is negotiating a good price for their [own] surrender.

American Chernobyl

Perhaps people will finally catch on to the fact that the government is little more than a gigantic resource-sucking waste of human capital, little more than a bunch of parasitic apparatchiks who add nothing whatsoever to the wealth of the nation.

American Thinker:
The calamity in the Gulf has the markings of the disaster that led to the demise of the Soviet Union. Our federal government led by our god-like president, an omnipotent structure in the starry eyes of many, shows itself to be an incompetent, uncoordinated monster, capable only of interfering with productive efforts to salvage our coastlines and livelihoods. The once-Olympian Obama is reduced to a sniveling nebbish bemoaning his inability to suck it all up with a straw.

The whole spectacle is too familiar to anyone who's ever tried to develop a productive enterprise. Such people see the same bureaucratic nonsense devised by lawyers to frustrate creativity and strengthen the government's grip on the citizen. From building permits to oil drilling, the motivation for the rules is always wrapped in some noble-sounding, abstract notion. The execution is inevitably callous, mindless, and ruthless. Too often, it's also corrupt.

With the kind of luck that used to be credited with accompanying fools and drunks, America is getting an object lesson in the stupidity of believing in an all-knowing state-god. As the horror goes on, this lesson, if learned, could last generations, and it arrives as we begin our final descent into serfdom.

While Obama turned the American drift to tyranny into a sprint, he's managed a spectacular slip-and-fall on the way to our transformation. His actions and those of his government are not substantially different from any other bureaucracy, Soviet or not. The results in all their hideousness are undeniably clear. Like Chernobyl, they will be with us for a long time.

As Chernobyl was a turning point in the mind of the average Soviet, the Gulf drama demonstrates the same weaknesses and follies of any centralized political command and control system. Like good Soviets, no one at the federal level, especially our leader, is proposing a solution to the leak. Rather, the federal response is absorbed in turf wars, leaving coherent action paralyzed by conflicting loyalties.

We watch the Corps of Engineers frustrate the Coast Guard, while both join the rest of the federal apparatus to frustrate problem-solvers. From rejecting foreign government help to ignoring good old boys with hay bales, the problem for the feds is not how to stop the leak, or even how to mitigate the disaster, but how best to exploit it to the advantage of politicians and their sponsors.

In the best tradition of ambulance-chasers running to the scene of a multi-car wreck, our president has no first aid skills and no desire to dirty his hands pulling victims from the wreckage. The only action he's capable of is pounding his chest and demanding that someone else pay.

Of course Obama's compassion is delivered on a contingency basis. The fee in this case is further crippling the American economy with his energy fantasies.

This is Chernobyl with an American spin.

The Soviet people lost their fear of the system as a result of Chernobyl. The nuclear disaster planted the seeds that quickly sprouted into the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the totalitarian governments that built it. America's flirtation with tyranny developed into a betrothal with Obama's accession. Will we have the sense Russians did to realize our state-god has clay feet? Can we leave him standing at the altar?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


According to Dawkins:
In 2003, the BBC launched a documentary series known as Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, presented by the atheist Jonathan Miller. The interviews that were conducted, being too lengthy for inclusion in the 2003 series, were later archived in a 2004 documentary series, entitled The Atheism Tapes, a supplementary series of six programs, consisting of the uncut interviews with a single contributing atheist.

One such film featured Jonathan Miller interviewing our old friend, Richard Dawkins. A clip from that interview is appended below:


Three minutes into the embedded interview, in speaking of the purported instances of irreducible complexity in nature, Richard Dawkins succeeds in decimating any pretense to neo-Darwinism’s status as a falsifiable proposition. He states, “There cannot have been intermediate stages that were not beneficial. There’s no room in natural selection for the sort of foresight argument…It doesn’t happen like that. There’s got to be a series of advantages all the way…If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem, not natural selection’s problem.”

Is Richard Dawkins suggesting that the purported explanatory adequacy of neo-Darwinism is not a testable proposition? If there are no biochemical systems which cannot, in principle, be accounted for by natural selection, then how is one to evaluate Darwinism’s explanatory adequacies? At what point is one justified in saying, “Natural selection is an inadequate explanation and we must hence search for an alternative explanation”?

One might have thought that Richard Dawkins would have stopped digging at this point. But Dawkins had not finished: “Well, I suppose that it is a sort of matter of faith on my part since the theory is so coherent and so powerful."

What is so coherent and so powerful? If defined simply as common ancestry, critics of Darwinism may be inclined to agree. If he means the efficacy of the mechanism, then that is what he is intent on demonstrating. Thus, simple appeals to 'matters of faith' is not what one might regard as a sound argument.

Good Line

From this Doctor Zero piece:
The Tea Party is composed of people who have no desire to reach a reasonable accommodation with comprehensive ruin.

Doing Everything Under The Sun Except Their Actual Jobs

Keep sharpening the pitchforks.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fred Reed:
Scientific inquiry is separated from ideological rigidity by a willingness to entertain questions and admit doubt. The giveaway of ideology is emotional hostility to skeptics. Evolutionists today have it in spades. Just as the church once reacted punitively to Galileo for abandoning the party line, so do ideological evolutionists to those who do not accept the dogma of evolutionary political correctness.

An example: In a column I once wrote regarding the alleged accidental formation of life, asked: “(1) Do we actually know, as distinct from hope, suspect, speculate, or pray, of what the primeval seas consisted? (2) Do we actually know what sort of sea or seas would be necessary to engender life in the time believed available? (3) Has the accidental creation of life been repeated in the laboratory? (4) Can it mathematically be shown possible without making highly questionable assumptions? And (5) If the answers to the foregoing are “no,” would it not be reasonable to regard the idea of chance abiogenesis as pure speculation?”

The response was violent. I found myself accused of “trying to tear down science,” of wanting “to undo the work of tens of thousands of scientists.” I wouldn’t have thought the tearing down of science within the destructive powers of this column, but perhaps I am playing with a loaded gun. I pictured smoking shards of laser physics, embryology, and organic chemistry lying in dismal mounds on a darkling plain.

The evolutionarily correct take apostasy seriously. Razib Khan, who largely runs the website Gene Expression ( flew into a rage and deleted all mention of me from his web site (to which I had never posted anything). I was, he said, arrogant and ignorant and just no damn good. What he actually said was, “Anyone engaging in a Fred Reed impersonation, that is, talking about shit they know nothing about shamelessly and without any humility in light of their ignorance, will now be deleted at my discretion.”

I pondered this flood of unleashed humility, typical of its kind, and thought, “Huh? I asked questions. A question is an admission of ignorance. How is that arrogant?” And if my questions were stupid, why were so many of his readers, who are not at all stupid, impersonating me?

His reaction was less that of a scientist to questions than of an archbishop to heresy. Why the savagery? He or any other of my circling assailants could simply have answered my questions. For example, “Actually, Fred, residual pools of the ancient seas have been discovered, and you can find a quantitative analysis at the following link.” Or “Craig Venter has in fact replicated the chance formation of life, but it didn’t make the papers. Here’s the link.” (I made those up.)

I would have responded civilly, “Holy Catfish, Batman! I didn’t know. Thanks.” And that would have been that. But no one, not one soul, actually answered them. Why, I wonder?

If the answers to all four questions were “no,” it wouldn’t establish that the asserted abiogenesis didn’t happen, but only that we didn’t know whether it had happened. So why the blisterish sensitivity?

Because (or so I suspect) “no” answers would be conceding that the middle link of the Big Bang-abiogenesis-natural selection chain was pure speculation. It would be like asking a Christian to say, “Well, we don’t really know that Jesus was the son of God, but he could have been.”

Richard Feynman said that "science is the culture of doubt," Never happen.

High Frequency Trading

Denninger explains the fraud.

He ties it in as one of the causes of the sudden mini-crash last month:
Most retail investors cannot game this - that is, this is how you, the retail investor, see orders. When you put in an offer for $50.10 (to sell) you will stand behind the other 20,000 shares, and you will fill if and only if the demand is high enough to exhaust the orders in front of you.

Not so for the HFT folks.


Because there is very little cost to cancel an existing order. They therefore will place tens of orders that they are not sure they want to have execute or not. If the price moves in a way they deem "disadvantageous" suddenly out of those 20,000 shares "in line" at $50.10 three-quarters or more of them will disappear from the line!

You, as a retail investor, cannot possibly react fast enough to do this. But a computer can, and does. In fact, since 2000 the cancel-to-execute ratio has gone from 10:1 to more than 30:1!

The problem with this game is that it sends false signals to the market. When 70% or more of all volume is in fact computers passing shares to one another on a sub-second basis, with holding times being measured in seconds or minutes rather than days, weeks, months or years, you have a market that looks liquid but in fact is not.

You also have a market that severely disadvantages the very people it is supposed to provide a service to: those who wish to invest, and corporations that wish to form capital.


[T]he stock market has turned into a gigantic casino, where the exchanges and HFT players both conspire to try to drive up volume irrespective of the underlying purpose so there is a flow of funds from which to skim.

This has to stop. High-frequency trading has come to be 70% or more of the volume on US markets, and not one bit of it provides a social good. Indeed, it is a social evil, in that the skimming must, by definition, come from those who are participating in the market to either invest or raise capital. It cannot be otherwise, since an exchange is incapable of manufacturing anything of value itself.

In addition, this false liquidity signal - that is, alleged "depth" in the market that does not exist, as for every share of stock that is intended to execute there are thirty that are not - leads people to believe they can buy or sell in volumes that cannot actually be filled. This in turn leads to circumstances like the "Flash Crash" where sellers come in and poof - all the buyers instantly disappear!

I Look Forward To Dancing On The Graves Of Public Employee Unions

Mish highlights some hopeful signs. Hint: if the SF Chronicle is saying honest things against you, you might be in some real trouble.

At long last, Public employee unions on the defensive.
Despite record high membership and dues, and years of unparalleled clout in state capitols, public-sector unions find themselves on the defensive, desperately trying to hold onto past gains in the face of a skeptical press and angry voters. So far has the zeitgeist shifted against them that on one recent weekend, government employees were the butt of a "Saturday Night Live" skit, and the next day, a New York Times Magazine cover article proclaimed "The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand."

Public unions' traditional strength - the ability to finance their members' rising pay and benefits through tax increases - has become a liability. Although private-sector unions always have had to worry that consumers will resist rising prices for their goods, public sector unions have benefited from the fact that taxpayers can't choose - they are, in effect, "captive consumers."

At some point, however, voters turn resentful as they sense that:

-- They are underwriting, through their taxes, a level of salary and benefits for government employment that is better than what they and their families have.

-- Government services, from schools to the Department of Motor Vehicles, are not good enough - not for the citizen individually nor the public generally - to justify the high and escalating cost.

We are at that point.
New Jersey's Freight Train
Fortunately, one governor and one governor along has the courage to confront the unions head on, and in a big way. Please consider Democrats will yield to Christie's freight train
Democrats ruling the Legislature don't want any budget fight with Governor Christie that shuts down state government. The reason is very simple – they'll lose.

There is no way they can beat Republican Governor Christie in a prime-time siege. They know it.

Christie will be center stage on the dais of the Assembly, presiding over a "special" session of the Legislature demanding an end to the crisis.

He would be a star of the cable news cycle, ranting against Democrats as the enemies of reform and deriding them as over-greased cogs of political machines. Democrats lucky enough to be caught on camera will sit defiant and purse-lipped like those aging generals of the 1970s-era Politburo, anemic and indifferent to the empire crumbling around them.

And in the end, they will have to swallow most of his demands, sweetened a little with a few fig-leaf concessions heralded as a "compromise." Christie will win.

Christie news conferences also have brought a new level of suspense to the State House.

No one, including his staff, is really sure what he's going to say, or whom he is going to back-hand in public. The New Jersey Education Association is drubbed as "thugs" one day, and accused of turning students into "drug mules" the next. It also creates the impression that he is at war with the special interests, when in reality, he has simply taken aim at an unsuspected legislator or a patronage hack or union leader.

Nobody wants to be the next Christie piñata. And a government shutdown could turn the whole Democratic Legislature into a herd of piñatas. It's not beyond the Christie pale to call each one of them out by name and Legislative District if a shutdown dragged for a few days. He might even make the case at the entrance of Island Beach State Park, handing out leaflets blaming Democrats for the closed beaches.
Mish also highlights some recent union advertising. The message seems to be "hand over your money or the kids get it." Can you say epic backfire?

Vox Day has also noted, in his inimical way, the same poster.

Oh, Such A Hardee-Har-Har

Except there is very little on this "creationist bingo" card that any actually informed person should disagree with. Perhaps a few squares, but it is telling that all the atheist fools have left is simple mockery of the very things that have blown their little Godless "scientific" theory out of the water. It was all over but the shouting in about 1996, as far as I'm concerned. This inane little graphic just constitutes more shouting.

It makes about as much sense as 9/11 Truthers having a little bingo card with such items as "Footage Of Planes Hitting Buildings", "El Qaeda Taking Credit", "Accelerated Metal Fatigue In Critical Girders", "1993 Attempt", "U.S.S. Cole Bombing", "Khobar Towers", "Unarmed Passengers", "Boxcutters", and "Jihad" in order to mock the idea that terrorists brought down the WTC.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We Never Could Have Figured It Out Without You Geniuses

This is entirely deserved:
You know, folks like Noonan and Mort Zuckerman whining about Obama, after they praised him, pushed him, and voted for him in the face of all the evidence that led less besotted observers to see him for the empty suit he was, and is, leave me stone cold. Especially because these are the same snotty jackasses who arrogate to themselves superiority over those us us less “perceptive” folks.

Listen up, you punked, chumped boobs: We looked at Obama not through your rose colored hallucinations, but through the cold, clear spectacles of reality. None of what he’s done since has surprised us one bit. In fact, many of us, myself included, predicted it even before his coronation by people like you. Yes, it’s nice that after a year and a half of horrible examples, the truth about him is finally beginning to penetrate your skulls. But why, for the love of god, couldn’t you see it at the beginning, when it was no less obvious, but your understanding of it might have done some good?

Actually, never mind. Since Obama’s election will turn out to be the worst thing to happen to the leftist project in America in the past hundred years, and will free a generation from the chains of leftist quackery at just the time such freedom is most sorely needed, I actually thank our lucky stars for useful idiots like you two. Without such, we might have been saddled with John McCain, and that would truly have been a disaster for conservatism, liberty, and America.

So, thanks. I guess.
I agree. We are vastly, vastly better off than if McCain had won. Too many voters have some serious learnin' to do, and a hapless four or eight years under McCain would have been worthless toward this end. I don't want to be 70 when sanity returns to this country, do you?

It Is A Perfect Metaphor

Indeed, a living symbol in real time, as summed up in this cartoon:

My Kind Of Discussion

Just stumbled across a philosophy forum in which precisely the points I generally try to make are being made.

You seem immune to the point that "complexity", by itself, being generated by non-ID forces is not challenged by ID theorists. ID theorists fully recognized that ID is not necessary to generate virtually limitless amounts of complexity. Complexity is not the same thing as functionally specified complex information (FSCI). You can have many universes full of complexity, but never achieve over 1000 bits of FSCI unless a teleological force is involved.

No evolutionary biologist that I know of agrees with you about natural selection; natural selection cannot create anything; it only kills things off. Without random mutation, epigenetics, genetic drift and other evolutionary mechanisms that supposedly generate new information, natural selection has nothing to work with.

If natural selection is such an algorithm, then please direct me to the mathematical model which demonstrates that it can produce what you claim it produces.
Exactly. Death is not a creative force, and all other sweeping scientific theories (Newtonian physics, qunatum mechanics, relativity, grand unification) are backed up by very strong mathematics (calculus, wave equations, tensor analysis, group theory, respectively) that either preceeded or were coincident with the science. As it stands, there is absolutely no mathematical theorem in existence that establishes that specified information can be generated via stochastic algorithm. Curious, then that the Darwinists run around pretending it is possible.

Belinda wrote:
Meleagar, nobody has time to read everything. Everybody has to be selective. If I had been told by authoritative and impartial people that Dr Behe and Dr Demski would increase my understanding, I would read them as original sources. But what I have learned against them, especially about the political partisanship of their arguments, makes me instead read secondary sources and criticisms.
IOW (and correct me if I am wrong), you have not taken the time to read any ID materials by ID proponents, yet feel completely comfortable making "arguments" based entirely on the hearsay of ID critics. Why are you arguing against something you won't even bother to honestly inform yourself about?

Is this how reputable people of good character pursue a rational debate? By smearing the reputations and character of a whole group of people without even bothering to investigate the matter personally, empirically, when it is very easy to do so? You would condemn them without even knowing what they have actually said on the matter?
As for the maths of the relative numbers of life friendly planets in the universe, I also have to take this on trust.The facts and stats are comparatively well known to scientists and a good many lay people who read quality newspapers.
IMO, you haven't read anything of the sort from any source whatsoever; you have never in these forums supported via source and reference anything you have claimed. Your vague, hearsay appeals to implied authority isn't a debate - it's not even good rhetoric.
Do you study chemistry and physiology before you take a paracetamol tablet for a minor pain?
No. What does that have to do with your admittedly uninformed smearing of scientists and other educated professionals in the ID community based on nothing more than hearsay?

Belinda wrote:

I could accuse you of not reading the books that I have read, but ad hominem is no use to man or beast.
It is not ad hominem to point out that you are maligning and smearing the reputations and character of ID theorists based on nothing more than hearsay. It is not ad hominem to point out that your characterizations of the ID argument are not based on any significant reading of ID materials written by ID proponents, but rather simply on hearsay - especially when you insist on your negative and false characterizations even after your errors about ID have been pointed out and corrected, and even after you have been directed to sources and provided with quotes in the attempt to clear up your misconceptions.

My "not reading the books you have read" is entirely irrelevent to the point; I have criticized Darwin, but then I have read Darwin's books. I have not made wide, sweeping dismissals and smears of evolutionary biologists; I have not mischaracterized any argument of biology or mainstream evolutionary theory to my knowledge.

In fact, I've had to correct you as you have misrepresented the current state of evolutionary theory by erroneously claiming that "natural selection" is a complete explanation for the origin of all species; no evolutionary biologist that I know of makes that claim. Natural selection does not create new genetic information; it therefore cannot be a complete explanation of the origin of any species.

It is my habit, and I hope the habit of most who would engage in a debate about any particular subject, to only debate to the degree that I have qualified myself to debate by my own investigation. If I am going to argue about Darwin, or what Darwin says, or what he did, then it is incumbent upon me to read Darwin's works and not rely on the hearsay of third parties. To argue from hearsay is just bad debate form.

If I am going to argue about intelligent design, then I cannot reasonably do so unless I read intelligent design materials from intelligent design proponents. Otherwise, my argument will be based on nothing more than hearsay and assumptions; such arguments would likely be little more than straw man, motive-mongering, and red herring because I would not have a meaningful grasp on the actual subject material itself.

Why argue about something that you refuse to educate yourself about? Why continue insisting upon mischaracterizations even after someone who is familiar with the material has pointed out your errors? Why smear the reputations and character of a whole group of people that you refuse to even give a fair reading?
I hope that you will now continue with the argument proper and accept that while my knowledge is not encyclopaedic, my point of view is not only valid, but also repeats the learned opinions of most scientists and educationists.
Your "argument" is about as improper, insubstantial, and willfully (by your own admission) ignorant of the subject matter as arguments get. If I had as little knowledge of a subject as you admit have of ID, I certainly wouldn't run around making erroneous and unsupported claims against and about it, and smearing the reputations and character of the proponents of that subject.

This wouldn't be an issue if, when corrected and offered quotes and sources to demonstrate your erroneous, hearsay-based characterization of ID, you'd accept the correction and amend your argument - but you do not. You keep insisting that the ID argument is something other than what it is - that is a continuation of a straw man fallacy. That would be like me insisting that evolutionary theory claims that humans evolve from apes and reiterating that claim even after it has been pointed out, sourced, and quoted that it is not the case; that would be willful ignorance on my part.


IOW, if one cannot take a few minutes of one's time to read up on a subject they are arguing about, after they have been repeatedly corrected via legitimate quote and source, but rather insist that one's uninformed repetition of hearsay is a more valid description of ID theory, position and claims than the quoted and sourced statements of all of the main ID theorists themselves, then one is not engaged in reasonable debate at all.

At that point, all one is doing is parroting hearsay and rhetoric, and appealing to some false authority they cannot even be bothered to provide a source for.
Indeed. Examples of such behavior on the part of Darwinists are legion. Witness the comments on Amazon to any positive review of an ID-friendly book or all of the one-star reviews written by those who haven't read the book. My attitude is: read Dawkins et al. Read the ID guys. You'll see who's right. Their attitude is: Read Dawkins, but don't read the trash published by the science-hating Christian morons!!!!

Based on such attitudes, who is more likely able to handle the truth here?

Unrealist42 wrote:
If the universe was created by some outside actor, where did that come from? You claim that everything had to begin from something else but if we keep on that path we end up in an infinite regression of origins, a trap.
No, I didn't make that claim. What I said is that everything that begins, or has an origin, must have logically been caused by something else. This is why Aristotle described the need for an uncaused cause, an immovable mover, an eternal God.

Since the big bang evidence indicates that the universe began about 15 billion years ago, we can infer that something other than what we now call nature caused the universe to exist. Somewhere upriver in the system of causation there must be an uncaused cause, an eternal god.

Furthermore, the only system of "cause and effect" that we are aware of is that which occurs in our temporal, physical universe; that which is outside it is not necessarily bound by such mechanisms.
There is more of a logical necessity for nothing to have existed before the big bang because to assume otherwise quickly becomes logically unreasonable.
The existence of an uncaused cause, a final orgin, is a logical necessity; otherwise, you must have a thing that causes itself, a thing caused by nothing, or infinite regression. The only logical choice is that all things ultimately caused by the uncaused cause - what one can call "god".
Your maxims and axioms are not reasonable as I explained above. If you have another line of logic and reason available please describe it.
You explanation was about a straw man. I never said everything must have been caused - that is the folly of materialists and determinists. I said everything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else, or else you have an inescapable and unsolvalbe logic problem. The only way to avoid the causation problem is by referring to an uncaused cause - a thing that is eternal and had no beginning.

This is why the big bang evidence was so disconcerting to cosmologists; they wanted an eternal universe or a steady-state universe because of the problem of causation. The big bang theory was ridiculed as being creationist (the name "big bang" was one applied first out of ridicule) because it scientifically necessitated a supernatural (or extra-natural, or non-natural) origin of the universe.
In any case this is not a debate but a discourse of discovery.
What it is to you is up to you. Logically, one must eventually refer to an uncaused cause or else one faces infinite regression, a thing causing itself, or a thing being caused by nothing. The need for an uncaused cause is absolute, logically speaking.

Unrealist42 wrote:
What I do not see is any logical necessity to go beyond that, especially if doing so requires the invocation of mythical beings, like an eternal god.

Because the evidence and logic requires it, the argument for which I have already presented, and which I will present again in this post.
Besides, invoking god just brings us back to the conundrum of infinite regression. The only way to solve that is to say that god came from nothing.
No. "God" is the term that refers to the "final cause", the eternal being that is the source of all causation. It invokes no "infinite regression" or "causation from nothing" because it is the eternal uncaused cause.

A deliberate being is required to be the causeless cause, or else how did it generate the universe? The only useful description of a causeless cause that creates things is that it is an intentional agency - or else one is back to irrational explanations of origin.

Furthermore, that the universe is so orderly that continuous, living beings can exist with rational minds which can deliberately discern truthful statement about the world to the point of being able to manipulate materials and forces to generate virtually infinite amounts of specified complex functionality, directly implicates a final cause, a purpose, what Aristotle called the "good" of all things.

A purposeless, happenstance universe cannot generate an encyclopedia, a computer, a space shuttle, a battleship. There must be incredible heirarchical order imposed from a systems management and development perspective in order for everything to exist in just the right states (strong anthropic argument) so that anything cohesive and significant can exist, much less self-replicating, cognizant life that can reason and generate marvels of entropy-defying order and complexity and functionality.

This necessarily means - logically - that the final cause that generated the universe did so with deliberate purpose from a systems development perspective. IOW, there had to be a teleological final goal or purpose in mind.

The conclusion is: the final cause must have been an eternal, uncaused, deliberate, intelligent agency that created the universe for a purpose. IMO, that description meets the fundamental requirements for the term "god" to be an appropriate label.
Would it not be more logical to leave mythical gods out of this and just say that the universe came from nothing?
If you wish to argue that the idea that something can come from nothing is rational, we don't have anything left to debate, because things can just pop into existence from nothing and rational observation and orderly inference based on cause and effect is destroyed.

Unrealist42 wrote:
I was really wondering how long this was going to go on before you had to admit that Intelligent Design is really just belief in god.
You are apparently conflating two different discussions. I'm not talking about ID in the above posts. I'm making a philosophical argument about the logical necessity of the existence of a god.
If god can just pop into existence from nowhere why can't a universe? The only reason you would need to invoke god in this scenario is if you have a need for god to exist in the first place.
God isn't proposed to have "popped into existence"; god is the proposed eternal uncaused cause from which other events that have a beginning are ultimately caused by, and without which one is fored into irrational positions concerning cause and effect.
It has become apparent from our discussion that Intelligent Design is based on a position of divine creation.
It is not.

What can one say about the almost total philosophical obtuseness that considers the need for a first cause to prevent infinite regress to be something that implies infinite regress? This is another bit of uncomprehending sophistry that I run across all the time. All of the good thinking above was posted by someone with the handle Maleagar. I like the cut of his jib.

Google Chrome

I've just installed the Chrome web browser because Firefox was starting to seem slow, clunky, and unable to properly process some pages (the new blogger template designer, for example).

Chrome is like greased lighting by comparison. It also looks like a lot of pages that rendered with fairly ugly looking text are much more readable. In fact everything looks a whole lot more beautiful. I don't know how they did it, but just about all text is showing up as smooth and at the same time crisp. It is absolutely slick in a lot of other ways, too (the kids would call it sick).

Give it a try!

Also, be sure to check out this cool bit of promotional video. Greased lightning, indeed.


Both sides employ logic of the form:
<blank> could not have caused <this>.
One side fills in the blank with the theological category "God" with <this> referring to the various baroque strangenesses, alleged inefficiencies, and anthrompomorphized cruelties of biology.

The other side fills in the blank with the scientific category "random processes" with <this> referring to the tightly-integrated information-processing molecular nano-machinery in the cell.

Yet the first side is considered "science" and the second side is considered "religion".

Or consider: One side asserts that all began in unorganized, unguided primordial Chaos, with our actions and thoughts governed by the motions and positions of inanimate bodies (stars and planets or atoms in motion, either way it is an astrological outlook).

The other side asserts that Reason, Wisdom and Knowledge were prior to all else, that the Cosmos is therefore rational and able to be rationally understood by intellects that have the radical ungoverned-by-brute-matter freedom to draw conclusions and pursue the truth.

Yet the first side is considered rational and scientific, while the second side is considered to be a throwback to ancient superstition.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Amazing Graphics

Migration trends look like massive meteor strikes in these worth-thousands-of-words graphics.

I Was Swimming There 10 Days Ago. It Was Beautiful.

Not good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


From VDH's latest:

Let me get this straight: as oil gushes forth, we are to use this disaster as a teachable moment to go the wind and solar route. OK, but fairly or not, the message to the shrimpers and hotel owners of the Gulf is: “Your misery has some didactic value for the rest of us, since after your Gulf is destroyed, we will shut down your rigs to ensure permanent poverty follows your misery.”


The left is restless. The shelf life of forbearance is ending. Obama so far has benefited from the liberal desire for power that has trumped even its own green advocacy. (Bush would have been cannibalized for this on second one). But at some point, the pictures from the gulf of dying birds, of oily beaches, of sticky fish will sink polls and so get even to the Malibu crowd. And after they scream at Bush, BP, Palin, hoi polloi for driving Yukons (instead of Lexus and Volvo SUVs), they are only left with Obama to blame.


Obama, whom they all so invested in, is the most polarizing figure since Nixon, and has the unique ability to destroy liberalism for a generation: lose the House and maybe even the Senate; turn the public off on government, divide the country over health care, cap-and-trade, race, and amnesty; and completely discredit a shamelessly partisan media.

No, the sudden damning of Obama’s leadership is a symptom that Obama is turning radioactive, and not even Chris Matthews wants to be the last zealot in Washington crafting yet another narrative of how brilliant and tingly a soon-to-be 30% president “really” is.

In a weird way, the green issue is a gift from the gods for the liberal media: it allows them “on principle” (cf. Maureen Dowd) to distance themselves from Obama (as in “we don’t compromise with the environment” when, in fact, they compromise on everything from Predator assassinations, windmills off Martha’s Vineyard, solar panels in tortoise country, Guantanamo, etc. as long as there is power to be had or amplified).

But again, oil in the Gulf, like blood in the water, suddenly makes it “principled” for an opportunistic shark to take a bite out of a bleeding and floundering Obamafish.

Fools Rush In

Where angels fear to tread:

If we, as a nation, are able to absorb the true lesson of Obama in time, we just might save our country for the next generation. We very well might be able to show our young people something so important that it will become next to impossible to elect another pure knave on the strength of emotional attachment and fantastical wishful thinking to the presidency.

By now, every single reasonable, sentient, in-charge-of-his-own-thoughts adult ought to know exactly where this is going.

When a republic elects an executive leader and commander in chief based on little more than an ethereal charisma, that nation gets what it deserves -- a celebrity president who takes his office about as seriously as the fawning crowds took their votes. Upon such idiotic decisions great civilizations do indeed fall.


There is the chance that Obama's election will have a spectacular silver lining for our republic.

Many candidates, mostly of the hollow political sort that Obama has proven to be, may think long and hard now before putting their names in contention. Without the requisite experience to handle huge national crises, or even the kind that occur in every city hall and governor's office in the country, legislators may see the debacle of Obama and stop themselves from making a similar mistake.

The presidency does not lend itself to vainglorious appraisals of one's own abilities; all is laid bare when push comes inevitably to shove. In light of Obama's historic failure to steer our ship of state, there is a lesson for every single would-be candidate of the future, a chance to see Obama's ignominious defeat at the cruel hand of reality, and a clear opportunity to take the hard, long look before leaping into the fires of a presidential campaign. Men and women of sound reason who might be candidates in 2012 should heed the lesson of Obama and not assume that just because they've been elected to office, they would make a good president.

A CEO job is a CEO job is a CEO job, and if one has never had one before -- either private or public -- then one ought to approach the candidate's ring with far more apprehension and humility than did either Barack Obama or any of his swooning party backers.

As for liberal ideologues in particular, the golden lesson of Obama ought to be that indulging in identity politics to the exclusion of demonstrated competence is a recipe for disaster at almost any level. When Chris Matthews gushed some months ago that he had "forgotten the president was black for an hour," he pretty much gave away his own penchant for identity politics. Liberal media elites, celebrities, and white guilt-ridden pols never let the public think much beyond this president's skin color for the entire campaign, when going beyond the book's cover is always -- every single time -- the duty of every voter, but most especially the duty of the fourth estate and all those who would use their positions to make endorsements.

At the end of the day, every one of these folks who rallied the votes for Obama -- based on nothing but his skin color and teleprompted eloquence -- have done far more damage to the cause of African-American parity than if they had refused to indulge their identity politics and had looked at the candidate's bona fides with a skeptical, purely investigative eye. As Walter Williams wrote recently, due only to the liberal bent to encourage character and ability judgments based upon one's skin color, gender, or any other artificial label, future black candidates will indeed be judged -- whether rightly or wrongly -- by the incompetency of Barack Obama.


President Obama still has a couple of years to go in his term. Liberals may not be breaking up with him yet. They may require more epiphanies still. But once the spell cast by identity and charisma begins to fade, it's a sure bet that the gut-wrenching, self-examining morning after is well on its way.

And in that, I think I see hope for America's restoration.

It won't be easy or fast, but at least it seems possible now that liberals are showing that they might be willing to go all the way and break up with Mr. Cool.

Gather Your Armies

Now, here's a political ad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

After Six Years, It Was Time To Throw Out The Stale Old Template

This one is a bit more state-of-the-art. One thing I like about it is that it uses the fantastic Georgia font. Another thing I like about it is that it is more in line with my photographic sensibilities. I've always vastly preferred a nice FlickRiver or Darckr layout to the default Flickr pages. The background photo is a bit reminiscent of this one I did three years ago.

One of my medium-term goals is to learn CSS so I know how to do this kind of thing on my own. As it is, Blogger finally came across with new fresh templates after all these years, so I grabbed one of those...

Nothing is set in stone, I'll have to see whether the light text on black look seems readable over time. Either way, the old look is gone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Unions Uber Alles



"If you propose the existence of something, you must follow the scientific method in your defense of its existence. Otherwise I have no reason to listen to you."

Interesting statement. It proposes the existence of an interpretive/evaluative principle which is not defendable using the scientific method. And hence there is no reason to listen to it.

Also, I find it interesting that those who regard themselves as the vanguard of rationality, who trumpet that they have seen through all past "superstitions" and have a brilliant new explanation for everything (as Dennett says, Darwin deserves the prize for having "the best idea that anyone ever had."), then turn around and assert that the burden of proof lies with their presumably irrational inferiors. While proclaiming that they are the intellectual supermen they also claim that they don't have to prove it. In fact, it is up to others (who are presumably irrational and ill-equipped intellectually to do so) to disprove it. All righty then.

And no doubt, the person proclaiming that the burden of proof lies with religion has put in zero time tracking down and carefully considering the very best theistic philosophical arguments and Christian apologetics. Christianity is quite happy to take on the burden of proof, but can't do much with someone who can't be bothered to take an honest look. It seems that until God Himself appears and makes his presence known, the intellectually brave atheist need not lift a finger.

The poster on which these self-refuting sentiments are charmingly stated can be found at the usual den of iniquity (scroll down).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A God So Powerful And Omniscient He Is Far Too Weak And Clueless To Notice Or Love Humans

Stephen Hawking, theologian.

Martial Law

It didn't work for the original Nero, it won't work for this one.


A word on the matter of competence: Obama is slowly being stripped of any reputation for ability he may have accrued during his political career. The Deepwater Horizon blowout, the Korea crisis, Iran, Sestak...Commandant Zero is being revealed as the most inept president on record. This is in no way hyperbole; it is a sober evaluation of the record as it exists. Fillmore, Buchanan, and even Carter are simply not in the running here. As a schlemiel, Obama stands in a class by himself, a man who not only can't solve problems, but can't recognize them when they appear.

And this limited individual is somehow going to coordinate and carry out an operation as complex, difficult, and risky as a national coup? That's one of those questions that answers itself.

Maybe He Needs To Get Out There And Speak With Each Individual Shareholder


See also.

He Is The Alpha Dog

Proof here (scroll down).

BTW, I happened to be on Alabama's gulf coast the last couple of days (just east of Pensacola). What a beautiful place! I fear for what the oil will do to it. This was one of the most pristine beaches with the loveliest swimming water that I have ever experienced.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Blogging Break

Unplugging from the internets. Back on June 10.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Sayonara, Adolph

It turns out that spewing out 183 profanity-laced and philosophically autistic posts calling for the extermination of subhuman Christian cockroaches (their crime? Not buying Darwinism) gets boring after a while.

Good riddance.

Keep Digging, Nancy.

She claims she's guided by The Word. "Fill it in with whatever you want," says theologian Pelosi.