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Comment: Re:Ground for appeal? (Score 3, Interesting) 78

by Copid (#49794841) Attached to: Murder Accusations Hang Over Silk Road Boss Ulbricht's Sentencing
Unfortunately, I think the range of sentences the US considers reasonable for drug related crimes varies between, "we force you to be seated in The Comfy Chair for an hour" and "we nuke your city of residence and sow the radioactive fields with salt," so if he's given the harshest sentence, it will be very hard to tell the difference between "harsh drug sentence" and "fair drug sentence biased by a whiff of murder for hire."

If you've convicted the guy of hiring hit men, by all means, throw the book at him for that. But this sounds incredibly sketchy.

Comment: Re:Assertions not based on facts (Score 1) 437

by Copid (#49787057) Attached to: Creationists Manipulating Search Results

Potential DNA and fresh tissue is being found in dinosaur bones. From what we currently know about DNA and tissue, there is no way it should be able to survive millions of years. The simplest answer is that these bones are not millions of years old.

That's a really interesting discovery, and it has led to some work on what we know about how that stuff breaks down, but are you really sure that's the simplest answer? Given what we thought we knew about tissue, that material shouldn't have lasted thousands or even hundreds of years, so there's clearly something we don't understand at all going on. Simply moving the timeline doesn't do much for you--I don't think that soft dinosaur tissue comports with anybody's model of how old those bones are, so a more robust explanation that doesn't rely on our old assumptions about decay is necessary. It turns out that there are ways to preserve tissue for a lot longer than we thought, which is interesting, and that result makes a lot more sense than throwing out geology and radiometric dating.

2. Lucy (often deemed as one of the first missing links found) has recently been shown to possibly have at least one bone from a baboon.

"At least" is doing a lot of heavy lifting. That's one bone out of 89, which still leaves a lot of the skeleton unaccounted for. It's embarrassing for the researchers, but it's still an overall skeleton of something different. If the question is, "If one was a mistake, could everybody have made 88 more mistakes?" Sure, it's theoretically possible, but at some point you're just assuming that anthropologists can't do anything right.

The age of rock layers are generally determined by the fossils found in them, and the age of the fossils are generally determined by the age of the rock layers.

"Generally" is the key word here. It's not as though the whole process is bootstrapped that way. There are a lot of techniques that combine to create that textbook geological column. Index fossils are one piece of it, but there's also the fact that lower layers were laid down before higher layers and the use of radiometric dating to date layers independent of other references. If you can date a layer with an absolute method, you can be relatively certain that the layer below it is older than that absolute date, etc.

It's worth noting that the patterns in the geological column were noticed before the theory of evolution was ever suggested--there's very real stuff going on there that needs to be explained, and evolution over long periods of time explains it quite handily. Nothing else makes a lot of sense. I've heard claims of hydrological sorting and a worldwide flood, but the evidence against that is staggering. It just doesn't hold up.

Comment: Re:Vaccines can cause harm FYI, no personal choice (Score 1) 545

by Copid (#49714477) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

"anti-vax moron" is the ad hominem argument you used.

1) That wasn't me. 2) No, it's still really not an ad hominem. Maybe this will help.

as well, a straw man argument would be alleging that i was grasping at highly improbable straws to make my point. your lightning in the rain argument is like that. I was pretty clear in saying the harmful effects listed in the product monographs are highly probable, not highly improbable.

If you want to refer to the probable ones as being probable, do that. If you want to refer to the improbable ones as being improbable, do that. But don't mention only an improbable one and then use the statistic for the probable ones. That's just dishonest. The 20% statistic you referred to includes such adverse reactions as "redness at the injection site" and "headache."

But of course, your argument would have a lot less of an impact if you said, "You have a 20% chance of redness at the injection site and a vanishingly small risk of death!" So you selectively mixed and matched your data to construct a sentence that was technically true but totally misleading. Not good. Don't do that if you want people to take you seriously as somebody who makes honest arguments.

aside from that, the product monographs give ample reason to not want to have the vaccine, irrespective of any religious claims. efficacy of vaccines is much less than 100%, 60% they say now, and the best case scenario for timespan of immunity is 3 years or so.

If you're going to use numbers from now on, I'd appreciate a specific reference to what you're referring to and how you got the information. It sounds like you're mixing and matching the worst case values for certain specific vaccines and then waving your hand vaguely at all of them. Given your last use of statistics, I'm inclined to believe that's intentional.

a large percentage of vaccine recipients are communicable for some weeks after the vaccine.

What is a "large percentage" and for which vaccines? Again, this sounds like you're taking one particularly rare result out of context in order to confuse people. Because I guarantee that even if this is the case for certain vaccines, it's not the case for all of them, or even a bare majority.

aids from a vaccine cultured in west africa green monkey cells?

Did you just casually throw out AIDS without bothering to supply any data or context? Of course you did.

Comment: Re:Vaccines can cause harm FYI, no personal choice (Score 3, Insightful) 545

by Copid (#49700591) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

ad hominem. read the product monographs. more than 20% of vaccine recipients report adverse reactions, including death.

Aside from the fact that that wasn't an ad hominem, that's a really weird way of phrasing things. It's like saying that 100% of people standing out in the rain experience rain-related effects, including being hit by lightning. It's technically true, but it's phrased in a way to imply that way more people get hit by lightning than actually do. The reality is that 100% of people get wet and a tiny fraction of a percent get hit by lightning. Lumping them together as "effects of rain" makes the statistic basically meaningless. Was that intentional?

Comment: Re:Vaccines can cause harm FYI, no personal choice (Score 1) 545

by Copid (#49700537) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill
Good. That's step 1 (although remember, VAERS is self-reported rather than records of actual confirmed cause-and-effect results). Step two is to ask how many vaccine doses were given over that time. For instance, they shipped over 150,000,000 doses of flu vaccine in 2015. Even if half of those doses go in the trash, that's a lot of doses. And that's just the flu vaccine, and just in one year. So how does the risk compare to, say, getting in a car and driving 100 miles?

Comment: Re:Vaccines can cause harm FYI, no personal choice (Score 1) 545

by Copid (#49694123) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill
People like to point to the vaccine fund and VAERS reporting database, but they pretty rarely run the numbers on what that data means. Assuming that 100% of the people who get paid out from the fund were really hurt by the vaccines and assuming that 100% of the self reporting in VAERS is accurate, run the numbers on what percentage of people who use those vaccines are harmed by them.

Just about every substance will cause an adverse reaction in some small percentage of the population. It's unfortunate but true. But if you give a million people a particular vaccine and the same million people a teaspoon of peanut butter and the peanut butter kills way more of your test subjects, that's a pretty good illustration of the point.

Comment: Re: 23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866

by Copid (#49684915) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

I'm all for making real motivations more apparent, but I think you are not quite living in reality if you believe that getting rid of religion will suddenly put an end to concocting flimsy excuses to go to war. All the evidence suggests they will just find another excuse to whip up the hoi polloi to go fight their wars for them.

I just don't understand it. Make a relatively straightforward point that X frequently causes Y and doing away with X will eliminate some instances of Y and you're immediately innundated with arguments about the fact that Y will not be eliminated and you're foolish to say so. Yes, there will still be wars. Yes, people will still do stupid things. That doesn't mean that checking one stupid reason for people to do stupid things off the checklist isn't a positive step. I'm also a fan of healthy diet and exercise even though it doesn't solve all medical problems, and I support using good quality insulation in homes even though it won't eliminate all wasted energy.

Comment: Re:Being comfortable around crazy (Score 1) 866

by Copid (#49683883) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

Actually, this is not what I am reading into your comments, but part of what I was initially addressing when you responded. So I guess you completely missed the context.

Reading back, I don't see anybody advocating any sort of suppression in this thread. Just a general approval of the reduction in religious affiliation. The post you responded did only mention the negative side, but I didn't see any policy recommendations. So I guess I did completely miss the context somehow.

My initial response to you was just a narrow one about the single point I quoted. Nobody is blaming religion for all of our problems as far as I can tell. Just noting that it is a cause of a lot of problems (for which the definition of "cause" and "a lot" is subject to discussion).

There is really no evidence that absent religion we would have been better off and less very bad things would have occurred, and there are cases to be make that we have advanced faster because of a religious structure in society.

I don't think there is a lot of evidence that doing away with all of religion throughout all of history would have been a net win. If I had to bet, I'd bet yes, but I wouldn't bet much. I do think that the argument from history is not a strong one for the present. Horses helped build our modern society, but they're not a centerpiece of how we operate anymore. Things change.

I'd still be interested to know if there is any aspect of religion that you have any positive appreciation for?

I think in modern societies, religion's biggest positive contribution is probably social networking and bonding. The local religious group creates personal bonds with neighbors and a sense of community. There are other ways of fostering those bonds, but common religion and ritual is one of the more effective ones. One problem is that the lines between "culture" and "religion" often blur and religion gets credit for some of the good things that shared culture enables--we can do a lot of these things without religious dogma specifically. But going to a building with your nearest neighbors and weekly sharing a positive-feeling ritual together has value.

Specifically, does the belief in the supernatural or, more specifically, the strong belief in particular properties of the supernatural (what it wants, how its truth may conflict with things we observe) provide a benefit? I doubt it provides one that we couldn't get elsewhere with less probelmatic baggage.

It seems short sighted to just want it to go away without knowing what society needs to take its place.

I'm curious about the things you think religion provides to us currently that can't be provided some other way. The existence of perfectly normal atheists who integrate happily in our society seems to be strong evidence that it can be done in the same way that vegetarian athletes make the claim, "We just don't know whether a person can be healthy without meat," obviously suspect. Is it a case of, "Sure, one person can do it, but what happens if everybody does it?"

Comment: Re:Being comfortable around crazy (Score 1) 866

by Copid (#49683195) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

You are doing what I see quite often. "I have rationalized that there is no god, therefore I am smarter than those who haven't and we're better off without religion".

You're reading a lot more into what I'm writing than what I'm writing. There are plenty of very smart religious people out there. I do think we'd be better off without religion, but it has nothing to do with being "smart."

You completely oversimplify things, ignoring the role religion has played in our societal development and not even attempting to think why the balance shifts as it does between religion and secular.

I didn't address history because we're not living in the past. The needs of today are different from the needs of ancient cultures. Before we had access to tons of information about how the world works and before everybody had the opportunity to learn how to come to conclusions based on data, it was probably really useful to have rules that were set in stone that everybody was afraid of breaking. If those rules were terrible, the culture and religion probably died out. If they were useful, they probably helped society flourish. "Because I said so," is also a perfectly good reason for your kid not to touch a hot stove.

The problem now is that we're grown ups. Human societies aren't small children any more. We know more about the world than we did when religion was the only thing keeping us from touching the hot stove. If you raise an adult who doesn't touch a hot stove for reasons he doesn't understand (or worse, won't touch any stoves, hot or cold), you've failed, and I think that's where we are with religion. Superstition may have kept us from touching the hot stove, but if we cling to it, a lot of us will never learn how to cook.

And then you ignore very modern examples of how societies that suppress religion suffer and those that support religious freedom flourish.

Whoa there. Suppress? I applaud us becoming less religious because we're becoming more aware of its terrible limitations and starting to trust our own ability to reason. Bad ideas die on their own, but only if the marketplace of ideas is open and free. The fact that repressive societies that squelch ideas of any sort are generally backward and unhealthy shouldn't surprise anybody. In fact, the fact that religious fundamentalism is less common in places that don't suppress ideas is pretty good evidence that religious fundamentalism itself isn't a winner in the marketplace of ideas. It only seems to thrive in places where ideas are kept down by force.

You are looking at religion as the fundamental cause of things you don't like in the world.

I can't resist the temptation to trot out the word oversimplifying here. I see religion as a cause of many bad things in the world. That one is pretty hard to dispute. I don't think there is a fundamental cause of everything bad, an if you made me come up with something, I'd probably come up with something like selfishness or lack of empathy for others.

The fact that sometimes believing things that are not true makes us do good things is nice, but at this point, we're just better off not believing things that aren't true and starting from there. A mature, educated society with access to all of the information we have access to should not want for places to start reasoning about the world around them. Making up nonsense and stirring it into the mix isn't helpful. I'm pleased to see that people are slowly realizing this (consciously or not) and making religion less and less a part of their day to day decision making process. I think the trend will continue on its own without any suppression or totalitarianism or anything else you're reading into my comments.

Comment: Re:Finally (Score 1) 866

by Copid (#49682901) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

Now of course all those people who are not really interested in religion but in reasons to kill other people take this as a good excuse for murder.

I strongly question this. Do you really think the world is full of people who are desperate to kill other people but won't because they don't have an absurdly thin excuse like "he drew my guy"? And that those people largely just happen to have certain relgious backgrounds in common? Doesn't it seem a little more likely that they're killing those people for the reasons they say that they're killing those people?

All of these arguments seem to boil down to, "People do what people are going to do. Religion doesn't make them do anything (except the good stuff-we'll take credit for that!)." If that were true, we'd be talking about enormous philosophical systems that people build buildings for and sink huge portions of their lives into that have zero bearing on their decision making and actual behavior. Like, if you were to drop populations on different deserted islands with the Koran, the Bible and the Vedas and told the "These texts describe the world and how to live," and came back after 1000 years, wouldn't you be surprised if they were all doing the same thing? I'd expect at least some of that to have taken root as laws--or at least behavioral norms.

Comment: Re:Inconsistent (Score 1) 866

by Copid (#49682841) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US
I think the point is, what transgression would you be protecting him from by punishing him infinitely harshely for all eternity?

I guess it would make some sense if you had two kids you loved unconditionally and were willing to make an example of one of them for the benfit of the other, but only if the surviving kid could verify what you did to the first kid...

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein