Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Earth is Cooling!!!

One of my hobbies, as you all know, is listening to right wing talk radio. Especially when they mumble about global warming. Today was an interesting day in the news because there was a gigantic ice shelf which collapsed off of Antarctica that experts attribute to GW (one denier I debate actually said that this was evidence against AGW because the earth was warming more at the poles and not everywhere equally). One scientist predicted that this shelf would break off in 30 years at current warming rates. He said that around 10 years ago. He was too conservative in his estimate by around 20 years.

Another news stories was how Lake Tahoe is expected to change and lose it's crystal blue color due to warming. I pictured Rush Limbaugh at the yearly golf tournement there trying to explain how the Liberals ruined the water.

But the funniest thing I am hearing lately on right wing talk radio is how global warming has stopped, thus disproving the theory of anthropogenic causes. You won't find this claim anywhere other than right wing talk radio and right wing news. Why? Because it's fucking laughable. This winter has in fact been the coldest one in a number of years, partly due to La Nina. What they forget to mention is that it is still something like the 16th warmest winter this century.

But this same shit has happened before. They never learn their lesson and they prey off the ignorance of their listeners. Take a look at the graph below:

The talk radio host I heard today coming home from work was going on and on about the incredible cold snap, and the media conspiracy not to mention it as overwhelming evidence of the failure of global warming theory.
The fact is that the same thing happened in 1982, 1991-1992, 1999-2000 during the period of the most accelerated warming! EVERY TIME the warming came back stronger than ever, as can clearly be seen on the graph.
These fucking people can't even understand basic elementary school trend analysis for Christ's sake. If every year isn't substantially warmer than the one before, that's perfect evidence for them and their beliefs.
Nothing stops these people from misinforming the public. They are just like the creationists (wait, many of them are the creationists). Their hypocrisy knows no limits. And once again, I just can't believe I live in a world full of this many stupid and brainwashed people.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What is Your God Delusion Index?

Link from

I am happy to say I am a normal person. I did have a few points however.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Urban Ninja

Ha, the joke is on all of us desk sitting gen exers who always laughed about how unrealistic our video game heros are. Unbelievable.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Enlightenment 2.0

I finally finished watching all of the beyond belief 2 enlightenment 2.0 video presentations. Wow, there is some really good stuff here. The egos of the presenters are unexaggeratably (I know this is not a word, leave me alone...) immense. There is so much disagreement, and I just love how Sam Harris clarifies everything at the end so succinctly. The man really is the best speaker in the house. After listening to the semi-effette pluralistic goody-two shoesness of people like Jonathan Haidt and David Sloan Wilson, two atheists doing their best to redefine then defend religion, Sam comes out with some zingers that had me laughing out of my chair. He states that Jonathan Haidt, though fully condemning North Korea for it's oppression, will no doubt find a clever way to hold the Islamic societies to different standards. Sam assures us that whatever way Jonathan comes up with doing this, it will be a "masterpiece of political correctness", LOL. Exactly. Secondly, David Sloan Wilson characterizes Sam's writings, builds a strawman and beats the stuffing out of it. Harris stands at the podium and says that Wilson told him privately during the conference that he had never actually read Sam's writing, and quips about how he wish he had been mic'd for the conversation.

I finished watching the conference with this very fascinating Daniel Dennett interview. I hope they do this conference every year and make it available to watch. There are some really fascinating presentations here. This is the best thing I have ever found on the internet of it's kind.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Founders of Christianity were Potheads?

Just read an article on Moses.

An Isreali researcher has just released a paper asserting that Moses was probably high as a kite (and then some) when he heard God recite the ten commandments. He was also, most probably, totally stoked when he saw the burning bush.

The article states that "mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times." This is according to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics..."

The drug of choice, in those days, was brewed from the bark of acacia trees. The ancient drug apparently contains the "same psychoactive molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic... ayahuasca is prepared."

In another article on the same subject Shannon is quoted as writing:

"In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings... On such occasions, one often feels that in seeing the light, one is encountering the ground of all Being ... many identify this power as God."

Once again, one marvels at the ironies and contradictions at the root of religious belief.

The so-called "War on Drugs", for example, has always been closely tied to the conservative Christian ethos. No doubt, religious believers of all stripes will dismiss Shannon's assertions out of hand. Easier to believe in a sky-god that handed Moses stone tablets than to believe that tribal, religious zealots, several thousand years ago, took psychedelic drugs. Gee, just like now. Think of it, the founder of Christian "morality" could have been a "pothead". A drug induced haze is likely responsible for thousands of years of not just religious war & peace, but all the great works of art, music, literature, sculpture, painting, political writing, etc... even Jesus. Does it get better than that?

One could argue that the war on drugs, if it had been in force in Moses' day, could have stopped Judaism *and* Christianity DEAD in their tracks. Hmmm.... On the other hand, just think of all the Bach Cantatas we would be forced to give up, the architecture, literature and painting... Maybe religion is worth it.

Pass the bong...

There has never been and never will be a successful "war" on drugs.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Audacity of Hopelessness

About 3-4 years ago I decided that near death experiences and other supposed evidences of life after death are about as likely to be valid as bigfoot or the lochness monster. The reasons I have for believing this are precisely the reasons reasonable people have to disbelieve bigfoot or lochness. After years of outspoken certainty of LAD, many people were baffled at my changing of sides on the issue. The standard claims of "he's crazy", "He's bitter" as reasons for not believing were sent my way.

Several people became fascinated and have become almost pseudo-stalkers such as Michael Gilmore and Lou Famoso who regularly tries to get me to add him to my facebook list (I can't believe the guy even remembers me). These people feel compelled to check up on me, possibly to see if their prayers of me getting struck by a lightening bolt or having a heart attack were answered, and that maybe I can bolster their desperate pleas for hope with a turn around story ("I died and yes Lou, Archangel Michael really does have gigantic gleaming biceps, wow you were right all along!").

As I've said before, my turnaround came not from bitterness, but a close reading of things I had previously avoided or ignored- human nature invented by natural selection, neuropsychology etc.. I came around only kicking and screaming. Although it is impossible to rule out life after death, all of my most powerful arguments for it have been drastically undermined in the past few years by new experimentation (they were already drastically undermined, I just didn't have the knowledge base to understand why).

NDE's, OBE's and alien abductions are almost synonymous by my lights. NDE's are more compelling because they occur near death, but the veridical claims have not been verified despite serious effort, and due to recent inducements of OBEs and feelings of a sensed presence (mainline attributes of NDE's) using brain stimulation and magnetic helmets etc... it is perfectly clear to all but the most insistent people that these feelings are created by manipulation of the brain. There is not an actual presence there, and you are not actually leaving your body.

There seems to me to be very little wiggle room left for the hypothesis that people actually do leave their bodies. After scouring OBE message boards I realized that scores of people were consistently unable to verify *anything* they supposedly saw out of body. They very commonly had overlapping attributes of NDEs (lights, tunnels, sensed presences, joy, bliss, realer than real experiences etc...). So I can infer logically that these experiences are overlapping and intertwined with the NDE. And I think I can infer logically that people almost certainly will never be able to prove that they can see out of body, because they almost certainly can't. A handful of interesting stories and anecdotes are expected. I have known at least two people who are sure they saw bigfoot, for instance.

I suppose also, the older one gets and the more experiences one has the more clear it is that people by and large are simply full of shit (my own natural propensity for gullibility and desire to exaggerate the significance of variance random experiences is also a case to be made for the shallowness of my prior belief). Particularly when they want to or need to believe something which gives them hope. They cry foul at the audacity of hopelessness. It bothers them so much they feel the need to stalk me. And the fact they need to know whether I believe or not is a tell that they really don't believe it strongly themselves.