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Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 1) 866

by phud (#49685205) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

There is a line of thought that says that if something can't be observed, measured or defined scientifically then it doesn't exist. I think that way of thinking closes the mind.

Are you referring to anything or anyone specific here? The closest scientific principle I know to this is Occam's razor: do not multiply entities beyond that which is necessary. in other words, we cannot say that a thing does not or could not possibly exist, but we can say that to discuss such a thing without evidence is pointless unless you are discussing a hypothesis and how to test it. I'll believe in a god or gods when evidence gives me a reason to do so, and not before.

There is a lot we don't know or understand, so foreclosing the possibility of other states of being or consciousness is a mistake. We simply don't know, as you say.
Science and the scientific method have enabled us to understand a lot of the world around us. Its value is self-evident. But we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that it is the only tool we have for gathering knowledge. It can't answer every question, and that's okay.

There certainly is much we don't know. (Job security for those in the sciences!) That does not, however, mean that it is reasonable to believe a proposition for which there is no reliable supporting evidence. It is a natural part of human nature to believe such things, but this is not the same as being reasonable. Science is demonstrably the most beneficial tool for understanding the world we inhabit, checking that knowledge against new information, and revising it when needed. I don't see religion as a tool for knowledge, rather as one used to cope with what is often a hostile existence, to find meaning where there is none given, and to provide certainty where little can be found. It is a tool I will avoid using. I won't look down on those who do, but it is perfectly justifiable to criticize the ideas that result from it.

Comment: Re:Finally (Score 1) 866

by phud (#49684801) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US
I can't and won't defend the parent post(good god, what a mess!) but i will add to your point and say this about theology. Insofar as it is the study of religious practices and beliefs, it has significant value. But much of theology is the study of the nature of God or gods. Most Christian sects will claim that the mind and perhaps even the nature of god is unknowable. The products of this effort to speculate about the unknowable are often severely at odds with what the people whose butts are in the pews actually believe. Theistic theologians often describe god as a "ground of being", a phrase so meaningless that it cannot be parsed.

Comment: Poor survey, poor conclusion (Score 1) 350

by phud (#48380275) Attached to: Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism
The survey sample seems to small to be informative. Political polls, as inaccurate as they are, usually have much larger sample sizes. I would have thought a sample of at least 300 would be needed. Also, why are there an uneven numbers of responses for each photo?

And for the trolls who did post on the white woman's photo, their natural inclination would be to make some immature comment about b00bs; whereas for the trolls posting on the black woman's photo, the easiest cheap shot would be to make it about race. But that doesn't mean that there is actually a racially motivated difference in people's reactions to the photos.

If race were not a factor, then the "easiest cheap shot" would have been the same or similar for both photos. The fact that racial attitudes are baked into us by american culture, and are terrifically difficult to overcome, means that those attitudes are in play in any social situation.

Image

Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee 489

Posted by samzenpus
from the literal-charges dept.
In a decision that was reversed as soon as someone with half a brain in their PR department learned about it, Verizon charged a widow a $350 early termination fee. After the death of her marine husband, Michaela Brummund decided to move back to her home town to be with her family. Verizon doesn't offer any coverage in the small town so Michaela tried to cancel her contract, only to be hit with an early termination fee. From the article: "'I called them to cancel. I told them the situation with my husband. I even said I would provide a death certificate,' Michaela said."
Piracy

The Pirate Bay's Founding Organization Shuts Down 107

Posted by kdawson
from the mission-pretty-much-accomplished dept.
kcurtis sent the news that Piratbryån, the lobbying organization out of which The Pirate Bay sprang, has disbanded. (The torrent tracker is alive and well.) "Piratbyrån had many purposes, but could be described as a pro-piracy lobbying organization. It was founded in response to Antipiratbyrån, the local anti-piracy outfit in Sweden. The goal was to start a debate on copyright issues and how they affect society. Until then, most press in Sweden would simply take everything Antipiratbyrån said for granted. Internationally, Piratbyrån is mostly known for launching The Pirate Bay in the fall of 2003, just a few months after the group itself was founded. ... The final decision to disband the group came after Ibi Kopimi Botani, a prominent member and co-founder of the group, passed away. Without one of its greatest minds, the group would never be the same again, Piratbyrån's members felt."
The Internet

Over a Third of the Internet Is Pornographic 247

Posted by samzenpus
from the filthy-web dept.
Th'Inquisitor writes "Pornography makes up 37% of the total number of web pages online, according to a new study published by Optenet, a SaaS provider. According to the report, which looked at a representative sample of around four million extracted URLs, adult content on the Internet increased by 17% in the first quarter of 2010, as compared to the same period in 2009."
E3

Valve Delays Portal 2, Squashes Duke Nukem Rumors 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the duke-is-not-still-alive-still-alive dept.
SKYMTL writes "In a tongue-in-cheek commentary, Valve has announced the delay of Portal 2 and thrown water on the rumor fires regarding its E3 'surprise.' This surprise was rumored to be either Half-Life 3 or the revival of Duke Nukem, and it looks like neither will happen anytime soon."

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