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Comment Re:Consciousness is not the same thing as free wil (Score 1) 279

But there are many events that happened beforehand that go into the formation of a particular brain, none of which (obviously) the brain had any say in. So is free will a simple quantifiable quality you can isolate within the brain?

Sciences like neuroscience are great at answering many mysteries we come up with. The question of free will is not one of these.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Well the problem I had was when you said...

Agnostic atheism and agnostic theism are merely midpoints of indecision where someone has committed fully to neither view. A true agnostic still remains someone who is not willing to commit in either direction, that doesn't change.

I'm not sure what you mean by "committed" here. Just because an atheist or theist holds a belief that the existence of a god cannot be known for sure (agnostic) doesn't mean they're only partially an atheist or theist. They're still fully in their categories, just a difference of degree.

For example, I believe in the theory of evolution. In any reasonable way I can imagine, I am "committed" in my belief. But as with all a posteriori claims I recognize that it cannot be proven beyond all doubt, and if sufficient evidence were somehow to come up to contest it (however unlikely that might be) I would change my view. This doesn't make me a weak believer in the theory evolution, just rational.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

"Agnosticism is a statement that something (the existence of a god or gods) cannot be known. It says nothing, however, about one believes."

Except that is in itself a belief.

Right. Except that belief is regarding whether or not the existence of any god or gods can be proven. It is not necessarily regarding whether or not someone actually believes in the existence of said gods.

You're working under the common misconception that someone is not an Atheist unless that person believes they can prove no gods exist. This is simply not the case. Look up the definition. All it entails is that someone has no belief in the existence of any gods. That's it. Full stop. A person who believes they have proof that no gods exist may have a stronger form of atheism, but anyone who does not believe in any gods is still classified as an atheist.

Imagine that is not the case. Someone can make a claim that whenever I leave my apartment blue fairies break in, have a party, and leave it just like it was when I left so that I don't notice. We can come up with a word on whether I believe that. I'll say, "Yup, that's me, I don't believe it". So then someone retorts, "but can you prove it?" I'd have to say, obviously not since the claim (like many claims about gods) is metaphysical and cannot be disproved. "Ah ha! So I guess you're not that really, then are you?"

This is just one silly example. There are infinite metaphysical claims possible. Must we put footnotes on them all? What makes the concepts of gods so special that we need to parse useless hairs for those claims and not others?

The only reason people insist that atheists must have some proof that god exists to be true atheists is because a) they don't like atheism and feel the need to make someone admit they don't know everything or b) they're put off by obnoxious anti-theists (another category that falls fully under the atheist umbrella) and don't want to be associated with them. But all they're really doing is needlessly muddying the waters for simple concepts.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 2) 1718

Agnosticism is a statement that something (the existence of a god or gods) cannot be known. It says nothing, however, about one believes.

It is possible to be an agnostic atheist (I cannot prove that no gods exists, but since there is no evidence I find it silly to believe so) or an agnostic theist (even though I cannot prove god exists, I choose to believe so through faith).

Saying an agnostic is someone that has no view whether or not gods exists is a common misconception. Refer to a philosophical text for information that your dictionary must lack.

Comment Re:OMG we're all going to die (Score 1) 349

Well the last animal of the article is able to survive in just about any environment, so there's one at least that is more hardy in any conceivable way than humans.

But our dependence on infrastructure does make us frail. One way you can look at it is to say "look at all we can build to thrive in so many places." The other is "look at all the crap we have to build to thrive in so many places." If you don't need all the infrastructure in the first place, you don't have to fret about some unforeseen collapse in it to take out vast swaths of your population. And when you include all living things instead of just animals there is no way we can compete with prokaryotes like bacteria and (especially) archaea when it comes to survivability and quick adaptation. Those suckers were the first lifeforms on the planet, and they'll be the last ones existing before it goes boom.

Comment Re:OMG we're all going to die (Score 4, Interesting) 349

Anyone who says humans are "the most resilient species in the world" is shockingly ignorant of the many other species that exist on this world. The amount of infrastructure we depend on to thrive, the fragility of it and the amount of time it takes to build is astounding.

This article gives a list of animals that are far more resilient than humans ever could be. And this doesn't even touch on every species of bacteria or archaea that exists, all exponentially more resilient as a species than humans.

Comment Re: How is this not win/win (Score 1) 663

It's worth noting that at the time Hitler was coming to power there was an actual Socialist party that the the Nazis were vehemently opposed to. It is also worth noting that Hitler reportedly loved children and he may have been a vegetarian. And yet loving children and not eating meat are not traits that point to a need to conquer Europe or wipe out an entire race of people.

Comment Interesting (Score 2) 86

Back when I was doing my Master's Project I used the tool NAUTY extensively to test out isomorphism on graphs I was interested in. Checking around a little bit it looks like NAUTY does a fairly good job in most cases, but there are a few classes of graphs which gives it fits. Something that this new algorithm addresses.

Comment Re:C++ is... (Score 1) 153

And what has C++ ever given us in return?

Zero-cost abstraction?


Zero-cost abstraction?

Oh. Yeah yeah. It did give us that, that is true.

...And smart pointers.

Oh yeah. Smart pointers Reg. Remember what programming used to be like?

Yeah, all right, I'll grant you, zero-cost abstraction and smart pointers are two things that C++ has done.

And the portability.

Well yeah obviously the portability, I mean portability goes without saying, doesn't it? But apart from the zero-cost abstraction, smart pointers and portability...

Language stability?

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