Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Birthday Hodgepodge

Today's my birthday. Don't worry, I don't care either.
I just want to know why the format of these posts is never right. Anyone know how to fix it?

You are getting sleeeeeepyyy.

Don't you love the human nervous system?

I can't understand why this dickwad doesn't get busted like Imus did for this shit. You can feel the winds a changing in America. BillO is shouting on a regular basis and cutting off people's mics (56% of the country is a member of "the far left" according to him), talk radio heads are getting called on their shit, people are actually listening to Bill Moyers.

I finally finished the selfish gene today. I don't know why it took me so long to read, maybe because I was already familar with the "gene's eye view". But don't let that detract you from reading this book, it is worth all it's hype. It's amazing to think how recently Watson and Crick discovered DNA. One must understand that all Darwinian understanding was based on observation of nature without the meat of the entire operation- the unit of replication clear up to the 1950's! Therefore ideas of evolution consisted of group selection theories which are now known to be inadequate. Trivers, Dawkins and Maynard Smith were giants of the field who developed the way of understanding that genes use organisms to replicate themselves, not the other way around. Dawkins took blossoming information coming to the fore in the 70's and wrote this book with an inspired torrent of passion- it was literally a revolutionary new world view that clarified the workings of the natural world . 8th most influential science book of all time, written with precision in such a powerful explanatory way that you cannot read the entire book without already knowing that his idea is simply and obviously the most parsimonious way to understand evolution in the natural world. The anniversary edition is great because the footnotes elaborate on further developments of the ideas, and outcomes of the debates going on at the time.

Started this book today by Hitchens. Some review it as better than Dawkins or Harris, so I thought I'd try it. It's pretty much atheist porn. Poignant, but I fear the backlash. Great writing so far. At any rate I think these recent books will desensitize the populace, clearing the way for atheists to be panel members on political talk shows where they did not exist before. In fact I saw evidence of it today on the McLaughlin group- a pundit regular in the discussion circle openly stated that she wished the religious and religion were marginalized from a certain political topic. I couldn't help but think that she would not have said this one year ago. The climate would not have been right.

I also ordered "varieties of religiious experience"- Carl Sagan/Ann Druyen

I think this will be great. Better be for the price. It's got color photos inside.

"Moral Animal" Richard Wright- already read it once, want to own it. I admire Richard Wright and share his cynicism. This book is almost unreadable in it's condemnation of human nature. Love it!

"Cosmic Jackpot" by Paul Davies- I heard him speak at the science conference and he seemed reasonable. I don't know shit about cosmology, I just know that the shit everyone else knows doesn't tell me shit either, so I figure Davies may be a good primer. And I'm just intuitively unconvinced by the multiverse theory... (but again, I don't know shit). I guess the reason I never got into the details of cosmology is because I realize that at the very end of the story the truth is something which cannot be understood. It's like watching all three installments of the Lord of the Rings back to back only for the screen to go black right when Sam and Frodo get to Mordor.

Almost forgot... This is classic on Westwing. Ripped straight from that letter sent to Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But we'll forgive them for that. I can just see the eyebrows of millions of viewers raising- "The Bible says what?!?!?! He's making that shit up!"

I can't link the clip. Its at april 27.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Moyers Kicks ass

What a breath of fresh air. Maybe honesty, critical thinking and level headedness is now becoming acceptible in American discourse, at least marginally.
Moyers smells the finish line, and he's ready to kick ass!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Barry Shwartz

Barry Schwartz gives a great talk at TED. Damn, this is so true, especially the part about the spike in depression. My office recently converted to electronic records so I can see the information on each person I see. I can say confidently that around 75% of the people who enter the office have a diagnosis of "depression". I noticed this after a few days and it astounded me. Everyone is depressed, but why does everyone pretend to be so upbeat all the time? I think Shwartz has a good piece of the answer.

I remember when I was a spiritualist, I was completely convinced that my life was a meaningful story with a cosmic narrative and a special purpose. Expectations for my life were nothing less than saving the world. At that time I suffered from regular bouts of depression. Since about 3 years ago, the time that I broke through and overcame the mind-rut of spiritual hypnosis, alot of the feelings of security are gone from my life. I miss actually believing that my life has a plan. I do feel rather empty and I long for the feelings of meaning I once had. But one thing I can say- I have not experienced *any* of the episodes of depression I used to when I did believe my life had a purpose. Atheism has cured me of depression. There are many reasons for this. One big one is that I now don't incessantly blame myself for not having an extraordinarily vibrant life. If you really think your life is a meaningful story, then everything must be caused by your malfunction. All religions and spiritual systems blame the individual for the sick nature of the kosmos- original sin, karma etc... it's all our fault, or specifically "my fault". Life would be perfect if we were just better. It causes massive guilt among believers.

Now since I've woken up, I don't really want a vibrant life, or care for those who have them. People with vibrant outgoing personalities are generally infantile ignorant minds enmeshed in a tapestry of delusion, enjoying the self congratulatory vibes of observing their status in dominance heirarchies. I enjoy observing them as living science experiments, for vibrant spiritual people are perhaps the biggest piece of evidence I have that spirituality is entirely contrived. But I don't want to be one of these people. I even have trouble with Sagan's and Dawkins' basking in the beauty of the universe. I see where they are coming from.. but the more "beautiful" the universe can be made to be seen if we squint our eyes and project our humanity on the glowing dirt fields of the cosmos, the more disgusting and horrifing the entire cluster fuck is. You're born, it seems beautiful and meaningful and you think you'll live forever, then the cosmic bait and switch- you begin to realize that the entire construct of your being was derived through a process of meaningless rape and pillage for one primary reason- to trick you into making choices which perpetuate replicators. You grow older and lose that naive vision (unless you force yourself to remain delusional), and you live the bulk of your years being older and ultimately experiencing a never ending cycle of disappointments leading to sickness and death, or sudden tragedy. For most people, the insecurity of life has forced them to believe in an ameliorating story (religion, spirituality) which smooths out some of the suffering from these horrid events of life. But for those of us who know that religion and spirituality are false, these delusional constructions of artificial meaning merely emphasize the sheer fucked-up-edness of the darwinian saga.

The cosmos ultimately is not beautiful, it's fucking sick. I don't care how you slice it.

I am a curmudgeon because I think human existence is an exercise in self-deception. A sham. A futile comedy of delusional puppets. Pretending to be excited about the nature of how things really are in this world is embarrassing to me. I feel embarrassed by vibrant and consistently upbeat people. It's not an honest reaction to the nature of things. It's not a state of mind any reasonable person should even bother trying to acheive, but it is the state of mind which perpetuates genes, and so it lives on. I do bask in the beauty of music, structure, and the entertaining mystery of it all. But deep down, when I am most honest with myself I know it's a hill of beans that atheists use to console their knowing that it's all futile. But what else is there to do?

This quote from Ira Glass is interesting:

I just find I don’t believe in God. It just doesn’t seem to be true, and no amount of thinking about it seems to make it true. It seems inherently untrue. And the thing that’s hard about honing that position is, as a reporter, I’ve seen many times how a belief in God has transformed somebody’s life. In all the ways I feel like you can witness God’s work here on earth, I feel like I’ve seen that. I’ve met a lot of people — it’s been the thing that’s changed them, that’s sustained them in a way that I wish I could believe. But I simply find I don’t and I don’t feel like it’s something I have a choice about. I could pretend I believe a God exists, but the world seems explainable to me without it.

Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire

I've often thought of this and this video shows some of the numbers.

The human animal is extraordinary at making greed appear altruistic and otherwise tapping into the endless duplicity and incongruency it requires to be a successful human being in a society like ours. We won't point the flaws in others out seriously, because then we'd have to compromise our spot in the pecking order, and we never would.
Everything is pointless. Even trying to help these people is likely pointless, as they would build societies of greed that would merely compete with ours, probably through war.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Is Radin Full of it???

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile but have put it off.

In conversing with former psi reasearcher Louie Savva, I have learned some interesting new perspectives concerning Dean Radin, our beloved spoon bender. Radin's book "conscious universe" was very compelling and led me to believe there was a
massive denial about psi and that it had been proven to anyone with eyes to see that. But Louie Savva, someone who has been on the inside of this, has these various comments to say:
" Dean Radin is to some extent the nemesis of my PhD thesis, because try as I might to replicate his previously published paranormal effects, all I turned up was a whole lot of nothing!.."

" Most of my phd was an attempt to replicate Dean Radin's work. I didn't succeed.What I did find was statistical misuse and a whole lot of spin... "

"The conscious universe rekindled my interest in para, as Radin appeared to make a very good case that something was going on.But when I dug into the sources for his book, I realised that Radin had been optimistic in his interpretation of the literature, and that the research was nowhere as neat as he implies. In fact it's just plain crap! My thesis is still in its final stages, but I've posted snippets of it on this blog, and I may post the full thing when it's all over.I wouldn't waste your time on it though, just take my conclusions: there is no paranormal!"

(a) I have also come to that conclusion. The word "spiritual" is virtually synonymous with the word "bullshit" in my mind. The word "religion" is stored in my brain right next to the circuit for the word "ouija board" and "ear candling". "Parapsychology" is next to words such as "Big foot" and "UFO". I'm pretty much finished caring about the subject apart from entertainment.
I'd meant to write this post 2 days ago, but I played the odds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Gold

Sam Harris offers his final response to Andrew Sullivan. Another glorious broadside.

I found this quote to be the needed expose of Andrew Sullivan:

You want to have things both ways: your faith is reasonable but not in the least bound by reason; it is a matter of utter certainty, yet leavened by humility and doubt; you are still searching for the truth, but your belief in God is immune to any conceivable challenge from the world of evidence. I trust you will ascribe these antinomies to the paradox of faith; but, to my eye, they remain mere contradictions, dressed up in velvet.

-Sam Harris

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Banned Commercial - Condoms

One thing being in the pregnancy business has taught me- there's no hope for the future of mankind. For every two that you nice respectable professionals pop out, there's 4 or more that the barely literate unhealthy mother with a bad lifestyle is popping out. I see it every day.

Kiai Master vs MMA

The power of the human mind is amazing isn't it? It may be morbid, but I was clapping at the end of this. Teach that bullshitter a lesson.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just What We Knew

Pew Survey Finds Most Knowledgeable Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert'-- and Visit Newspaper Sites By E&P Staff Published: April 15, 2007 11:30 PM ET NEW YORK

A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans' knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989.Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind. Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.Told that Shia was one group of Muslims struggling in Iraq, only 32% of the total sample could name "Sunni" as the other key group. The percentage of those who knew their state's governor dropped to 2 in 3. Almost half know that Rep. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House and 2 in 3 know that Condi Rice is secretary of state. But just 29% can identify Scooter Libby, 21% know Robert Gates and 15% can name Sen. Harry Reid. But nearly 9 in 10 knew about President Bush's troop escalation in Iraq. Men scored higher than women, and older Americans did better than younger, on average. Democrats and Republicans were about equally represented in the most knowledgeable group but there were more Republicans in the least aware group.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Change of Paradigm

[Pictured below, 3 nihilists with similar stories]
I remember when it happened to me. You begin to realize that every hope, dream, and imaginative desire you've had all your life is a pure sham. The bottom drops out from under your soul and you are left sprawling like a drowning swimmer reaching for the surface. You are surrounded by nothing but traces of the past. Circles of friends and organizations which suddenly seem starkly absurd, as if you were suddenly teleported into an alchemy meeting in the middle ages and asked to seriously participate in the discussion.

In my case, I was in the "healing arts" business, otherwise known as the "stealing arts" business. The entire basis of my drive was predicated on a meaningful spiritual universe. Outside of that, everything I was doing could not be seen to make sense. Then I woke up, and it didn't.

I think there is something unique about a person who has gone from a deeply held belief in spirituality to atheistic materialism that doesn't exist for someone who has always been an atheistic materialist. There's almost something deeply naive about humanists who have never been spiritualistic. Their humanism, as John Gray points out in his book "Straw Dogs", is just as irrational and fantasy ridden as Christianity. It has always seemed interesting to me that the obvious and clear implications of a naturalistic worldview is nihilism. But even the Carl Sagan's and the Richard Dawkins' of the world still bask in the "beauty" of the universe. It is so beautiful really? The beautiful pictures of the universe are merely colored with X-rays and gamma rays... they are not really colorful with visible light. It's a trick. And despite the symmetry of the planets and galaxies, does this really matter? Is humanism really just a substitute for Christianity in the modern world, equally silly? I recommend Straw Dogs, it is very challenging to our assumptions. I am a nihilist.. but I think it's good to pretend to be a humanist to decrease human suffering. As we know, Carl Sagan smoked bales of pot. Tricking our perceptions may be the key to finding meaning. Yes, Louis, everything IS pointless. I still love Carl Sagan, because he makes the pointlessness... entertaining for the duration.

Here's Louie Savva flailing his arms in the water, reaching out to Susan Blackmore:

Jan 17th 2006

Dear Susan,I have been involved in the parapsychology community for a number of years. However about March last year it suddenly dawned on me that not only were my peers conducting poor research, but that parapsychology itself is almost entirely delusion. My PhD had been inspired by Darwin and Dawkins alike (though I'm sure Dawkins' would not be pleased to know that) and I have always used evolutionary theory for the basis for all of my theorising about almost any subject.So at a parapsychology conference I realised that there is no god. No afterlife. And that there is no point to anything. So, I quit parapsychology completely. My question to you is this. I understand that you are completely aware of the real nature of existence. That everything really is pointless. But that being said, why bother trying to do anything? Why try and convert people? Why participate to any great degree in the fictionsthat human create? So it doesn't matter if you do or don't, but why do? I met James Randi a few years ago and find him an interesting character. Why fight against superstition, when ultimately all human being is made up and there is no real point doing anything? I hope you don't mind this email - but then it doesn't really matter either way!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Louie Savva

I found this blog by this guy Louie Savva who has nearly finished his PhD thesis on parapsychology from an evolutionary perspective. He has a blog entitled Everything is Pointless which is truly comprehensive.
He has an entry entitled "Why I quit Parapsychology" which is enlightening and reminiscent of Susan Blackmore's switching to the dark side.
At the beginning of my PhD I would describe myself as very much convinced by the empirical and anecdotal nature of psi (and specifically the body of evidence suggestive of precognition) although there was a great deal of parapsychological research which I was willing to dismiss outright (such as much of the survival research).
Employed for one year researching the ganzfeld effect, I had an opportunity to work on what is often declared the best evidence for parapsychology and at the same time conduct a range of other parapsychological investigations, including helping to develop a precognition test using visual-noise .
None of the spontaneous or evidential claims of the paranormal have ever impressed upon me a need for recourse to a paranormal explanation and in fact the very obvious is apparent; that any connection between events in our mental life can tally, with shocking coincidence, so much so, that those who are prone to magical thinking believes has a paranormal basis.
Finally, I had intended not to write up my PhD, in the light of the fact that there seems no apparent audience. The parapsychologists will continue to ignore null findings (on the basis already discussed) and the sceptics will say ‘so what’. I was finally motivated to finish it, in the hope that I might dissuade others who are interested in the question of the paranormal, from pursuing it any further.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Old Rockfish

Big assed rockfish was caught. They estimate the rockfish was 90 to 115 years old. These fish can live past 150, it is thought.
Makes you wonder what they normally die of.

Just what one would expect

Tendency could explain why some cling to implausible reincarnation claims
People who believe they have lived past lives as, say, Indian princesses or battlefield commanders are more likely to make certain types of memory errors, according to a new study.
The propensity to make these mistakes could, in part, explain why people cling to implausible
reincarnation claims in the first place.
Researchers recruited people who, after undergoing hypnotic therapy, had come to believe that they had
past lives.

Subjects were asked to read aloud a list of 40 non-famous names, and then, after a two-hour wait, told that they were going to see a list consisting of three types of names: non-famous names they had already seen (from the earlier list), famous names, and names of non-famous people that they had not previously seen. Their task was to identify which names were famous.
The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from. (continued in article).

(a) It's good people are doing empirical investigations to things like this. Just meeting some of these people, you can tell they are generally "flaky", which is in part, a way of characterizing their flighty mentalities.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fox News Reporting on April Fools in America

Take a close look at the actual poll results. Only on Fox news. Hillarious.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Weird World

Louis Theroux is hillarious. I remember watching his series "weird world with Louis Theroux". He's got such a nice guy demeanor that he is capable of infiltrating the bizzarest groups such as the neo-nazis and doing good reporting about their ways. In this case he infiltrates that group of Christians who carry those signs "God hates fags" around at funerals and things. This little video is very informative. So easily are we brainwashed. One is left feeling sorry.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Charles, if you read this blog, when are you coming mountain biking??? You must try to make it up wildcat with me... and survive the downhill. It is beyond epic. 2000ft up, 2000ft down. All in about 3 hours.
P.S. You can put Elias in the basket on the front and let him honk the horn.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rocky 12

Rick Warren vs. Sam Harris
With a weeping Jesus in between.
Doesn't Sam look poised to kick some ass? In all these debates, the facts and power of argument side squarely with Sam. The opponent is left to defend and dematerialize their argument into an inpenetrable, infinitely elusive phantasm of faith-- which is perfectly good enough for believers.
I'll comment after I'm done reading it.
This debate was ultimately silly. Warren does not believe in evolution and calls Harris arrogant for saying it is solid knowledge. How do you have a debate with someone this closed off from reality?