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Comment: Poor summary (Score 1) 1010

by Epeeist (#45826971) Attached to: New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution

There are (at least) three positions a person can hold regarding God's existence:

1. "I believe that God exists" (aka religion) 2. "I believe that God does not exist" (aka atheism)

This is extremely restrictive in that it frames things in terms of a single god and only in belief. The more common atheist position is:

2b. I lack belief in the existence of gods.

While your 1. hides the existence of the asymmetry between theism and atheism, every theist I have ever come across believes in a single god or particular pantheon of gods and either lacks belief in the existence of other gods, actively disbelieves in them or thinks they are a misattribution of the god(s) that he worships.

3. "I hold no beliefs concerning either the existence or the non-existence of God" (aka agnosticism)

Is a misunderstanding of what agnosticism is. Theism and a-theism (not the privative alpha) are about belief, gnosticism and a-gnosticism are about knowledge. It is perfectly possible to lack belief in god(s), i.e. be an atheist while at the same time not being certain that god(s) do not exist, i.e. agnostic.

Comment: The department is run by the archetypal politician (Score 1) 113

by Epeeist (#45658623) Attached to: Open Source 'Wasn't Available' Two Years Ago, Says UK Gov't IT Project Chief
The DWP is run by a politician, Ian Duncan Smith, to whom the aphorism "How can you tell a politician is lying? His mouth moves" applies in spades. He is also not very bright as well as being incompetent. The government of which he is a member is one of the most ideological we have had in decades and cares little about actual evidence for the policies.

Comment: Re:Join the Open Rights Group (Score 2) 310

by Epeeist (#44026935) Attached to: ISPs To Censor Porn By Default In the UK By 2014

Actually, Claire Perry is pretty much a laughing stock even inside her own party.

As are several others including the minister for Health (who believes in homoeopathy) and the minister for work and pensions (who faked his own CV) and the minister for local government (who looks as though he has eaten his way through the output of a pie factory). But all of the ministers in this government simply ignore any evidence which runs counter to their ideology.

Comment: Re:Simple formula (Score 3, Informative) 349

by Epeeist (#43821411) Attached to: World's Biggest 'Agile' Software Project Close To Failure

Government department + software project = total failure. .

I would love to know how cheaply this same project could be done. Probably by one person. Probably a $10,000 project with the final project size 100 times smaller, run 100 times faster, 100 times more accurate. [That is what I achieved after a payroll application they tried to force on our dept. was discarded and we rolled our own.]

Not a real biggie, just a replacement for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit for the whole of the UK population. I mean how hard can it be? Given your obvious talents I am sure you could knock something together using a few Excel macros by next Tuesday.

One of the things about this is that it is being driven by an ideologue who doesn't give a toss about evidence, not quite the person who thinks all government sponsored software development but pretty close.

Comment: Re:Even in death, she is divisive (Score 1) 539

by Epeeist (#43391881) Attached to: Margaret Thatcher Dies At 87

As an outsider, it isn't fair for me to comment on her domestic policy. For the US, the 80's seemed decadent for the upwardly mobile segment of the population while the middle class waited for the benefits to trickle down as their economic security was threatened or eliminated. I'm assume the UK experience was similar with the upwardly mobile taking advantage of the deregulated markets and the middle class feeling the pressure from the lack of job security or outright job loss.

My wife's relatives come from the Barnsley area of West Yorkshire, mine from around Castleford in the same county. Thatcher's policies were a disaster for these and many other areas of the country outside of the London metropolitan region. They were directly responsible for the increase in unemployment from around 1.5 million to 3.5 million and the loss of jobs for a generation.

Look at the reports in the press and the broadcast media, notice how few come from the North of England, Wales or Scotland.

Comment: Re:New boss, same as the old boss. (Score 1) 915

by Epeeist (#43173245) Attached to: New Pope Selected

There were replies to this above. JPII was actually quite progressive, as far as Popes go. Judging his progressiveness based solely on the way the church has handled homosexuality or contraception is quite a narrow view. Consider that popes before JPII didn't venture outside the Vatican very often, didn't address the faithful in their own language and didn't so openly help bring about the fall of the most dangerous and destructive evil empire in history (USSR: 30M+ intentionally starved citizens + countless political murders hell-bent on eliminating the thinking classes).

You can actually provide a causal warrant to show that he openly helped bring down the USSR? Impressive.

The guy had more important things on his mind, like saving the friggin' world, where he had some ground-breaking achievements. You want to judge JPII? You must be out of your mind.

Again, I presume you can justify this. Its an assertion I have seen a number of times, but I have never seen anything that would count as justification. As for "judging" him, this is the wrong word. "Criticising" would be better.

Comment: New boss, same as the old boss. (Score 1) 915

by Epeeist (#43168687) Attached to: New Pope Selected
So another geriatric ultra-conservative in exactly the same mould as Benedict and John-Paul II. Cynics might say he has been elected in an attempt to halt the decline in Catholicism in Latin America, one of the sects most important regions. Otherwise the only place in the world it would seem to be growing is Africa. How relevant is it in the developed world? What percentage of Catholics actually attend mass each week? How many Catholics solely practice "natural" birth control methods or have issues with gay marriage? Oh, and interesting to see that this supposed bastion of morality has no problem, again, with someone who has cosied up to a fascist regime.

Comment: Behe (Score 1) 813

by Epeeist (#42880985) Attached to: Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design
Isn't this the tactic the Behe tried in the Dover-Kitzmiller trial? At which it was pointed out that his definition of science was so broad that it would have included astrology as a science. Perhaps this is what needs to happen here, someone needs to show what the consequences of the legislation will be, besides yet another court case and people pointing and laughing.

Comment: Re:all sides (Score 1) 763

by Epeeist (#42838309) Attached to: Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

Perhaps "all sides" means diligently pointing out flaws in the theory where behavior is observed but not adequately understood. Punctuated equilibrium, missing link, I'm looking at the two of you in particular.

Evolution is the only theory for how species came to be as they are which is both credible *and* scientific. But it isn't a very good theory. If it was a good theory then it would be *testable*. One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

Certainly Karl Popper didn't initially think that the theory of evolution was testable, but he later changed his mind:

I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation...

The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true. There seem to be exceptions, as with so many biological theories; and considering the random character of the variations on which natural selection operates, the occurrence of exceptions is not surprising...

1976. Unended Quest. An Intellectual Autobiography.

If you want more concrete examples of how the theory is both testable and falsifiable you could try these pages.

Comment: Re:Where's the accountability? (Score 1) 644

So I know this is Fox News we're talking about here, but where exactly does one draw the line between a failure to check your sources, and becoming a tabloid?

You become a tabloid when you couple your failure to check sources with boobs, as is done in this British Murdoch publication.

Never trust an operating system.

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