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Showing posts from July, 2012

Video explaining Humanism - from the BHA

Just-released video on Humanism from the BHA.

The Tapescrew Letters

Here is the final bit of my book Believing Bullshit . What follows is a cautionary bit of fiction, inspired by C.S. Lewis's fiction The Screwtape Letters , Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil , which are entertaining and often very insightful. I don't claim my mirror letters are as good as Lewis's, but they are offered in the same cautionary spirit. I refer in places to specific mechanisms explained in the book, such as "I Just Know!" and Going Nuclear (follow these links if you are interested, or better still buy the book!) The Tapescrew Letters Letters from a Senior to a Junior Guru (Inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters ) Preface I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands. One or two details have been changed to save reputations, but the letters are substantially unrevised and intact.    Bear in mind that the author—an eminent guru within some minor, recently

"Keep it light, fun, happy and professional at all times"

"Keep an eye on your online profile: It's crucial to remember that everything you do online can be seen by everyone. So no political rants, no passive-aggressive behaviour – keep it light, fun, happy and professional at all times." Advice to arts graduates from Katy Cowan, director, Boomerang Communications Ltd. I'm in trouble, then. Source The Guardian "Life after university – 14 careers tips for arts graduates" Thanks to Taryn Storey for drawing my attention to this.

Atheists, lies and suppressed knowledge of God

In the second half of Craig’s latest "Reasonable Faith" podcast , he talks about how, he supposes, atheists know that God exists, despite the fact that they assert that they don’t. I’d previously said in a post that Craig’s view would seem to have the consequence that atheists are lying about that, then. Actually, maybe that doesn’t follow. In the podcast, Craig denies his view is that atheists are lying when they deny they know God exists. We should accept that denial. However, Craig’s explanations for why atheists are not, then, lying when they claim they don’t know when they do is not, I think, very convincing. First he draws an analogy with someone who tries to rationalize away or suppress what they know. His example is of a married man who has an affair. The human psyche is so capable of rationalization and suppressing things that we find uncomfortable that I think it's very plausible to think that an atheist could somehow suppress the knowledge of

William Lane Craig's latest attack on me

William Lane Craig has just devoted an entire 17 minute episode of Reasonable Faith to me, available here . I’m honoured! The first half of the podcast focuses on my posting a quote from him, a quote that was, at the time, being widely posted and discussed on the internet. Here it is: The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic. Go check my post here . I provided a direct link to Craig's original full article, and then immediately said: “But does Craig really mean what he appears to mean? You should make your own mind up about that.” In his latest podcast, Craig says that I should have checked the context of the quote – the original article in which it appeared - and not just repeat it as a soundbite quote out of context. But of course I did check it. In fact I even provided a direct link to the full article and encouraged readers to go check the original article themselves and make up

CFI UK's Conspiracy Theory Day - the videos

Ian R Crane (an actual conspiracy theorist) - "Conspiracy Theory vs Deep Geopolitics" Chris French and Robert Brotherton "Conspiracy Minded" Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller (from DEMOS think tank) "Truth and The Net" Karen Douglas on Conspiracy Theories

Playing at Truck Festival next Friday

The Heavy Dexters (I play drumkit) are playing at Truck Festival next Friday 6 or 7pm. Some tiny stage behind the loos, I imagine. But still, it is Truck. Say hi of you're there and in the mood... Truck festival. Just told (wed evening) by Truck we're not now playing. Thanks guys @truckfestival. PPS just offered 40 mins at 6pm

G4S deal

I notice that the £284 million new deal private security firm G4S struck with the (Tory) Government was, in effect, that they would get £20,000 per security employee, for each of the 13,700 security staff they promised to supply (but will fail to supply) for the Olympics. We all now know how little training and vetting those staff are getting. But my question is - why was the deal ever made in the first place? G4S are paying those staff £6.50-£8.50 per hour (after promising £14 per hour, according to one potential employee.) Three weeks full-time work at 40 hrs per week will earn each security employee a maximum of about £1,000 each. So, where does the other £19,000 go that we the British taxpayers are paying for each of them? How on earth could this have been thought a good deal for the British public? I imagine G4S are generous Tory party donors but is there any other explanation?

The Strange Case of The Rational Dentist

[From my book The Philosophy Gym. Apologies for unfixable formatting problems] One of the most intriguing of philosophical puzzles concerns other minds. How do you know there are any? Yes, you’re surrounded by living organisms that look and behave much as you do. They even say they have minds. But do they? Perhaps other humans are mindless zombies: like you on the outside, but lacking any inner conscious life, including emotions, thoughts, experiences and even pain. What grounds do you possess for supposing that other humans (including even me) aren’t zombies? Perhaps less than you think. At the dentist’s The scene: a dentist’s surgery. Finnucane is prostrate in the dentists chair, his mouth stuffed with cottonwool balls. A balding and bespectacled dentist is poking at a filling at the back of Finnucane’s mouth. Dentist: Is it safe?….Is it safe? Finnucane: Aaaargh! Dentist. No. It’s not safe. It’s dropped out altogether. Very inferior quality filling.

Philosophy Prize - results

Philosophy Essay Prize Competition 2012  Heythrop College offers its congratulations to Steven Robinson from The John Henry Newman School the Winner of the Heythrop Essay Prize Competition 2012 .  The award panel also noted the high standard of the entries and extends congratulations to those entrants who achieved a distinction or merit.  Heythrop College will send your award to your school/college, advising them of your success. Winner Steven Robinson The John Henry Newman School Runner-Up Max Dalton Richmond School Distinction Colin Bunkum Liskeard School and Community College Elliott Handley City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College Issie Hollands Rugby School Torben Schwartz City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College Jack Wearing City of London School Merit Alexander Bates Woodbridge High School Daniel Hogg Royal Grammar School, Newcastle Zachary John The Priory Academy LSST Heledd Joyner Penglais School Thomas Lindsey-Turner Exeter Col

Could a Machine Think?

From my book The Philosophy Gym (see sidebar to the left) Kimberley and Emit The year is 2100. Kimberley Courahan has purchased Emit, a state-of-the-art robot. She has just unwrapped him, the packaging strewn across the dining room floor. Emit is designed to replicate the outward behaviour of a human being down to the last detail (except that he is rather more compliant and obedient). Emit responds to questions in much the same way humans do. Ask him how he feels and he will say he has had a tough day, has a slight headache, is sorry he broke that vase, and so on. Kimberley flips the switch at the back of Emit’s neck to “on”. Emit springs to life. Emit. Good afternoon. I’m Emit, your robotic helper and friend. Kimberley. Hi. Emit. How are you? Personally I feel pretty good. Little nervous about my first day, perhaps. But good. I’m looking forward to working with you. Kimberley. Now look, before you start doing housework, let’s get one thing straight.