Instapundit says, talking about an explosion at Yale: "The obvious explanation, though -- a student trying to stop an exam -- seems very unlikely at Yale" (and then gives sensible reasons about Yale).

Isn't it amazing that people know, and generally accept, (part of) what schools do to kids? How much stress, pressure, despair, and anguish they cause? A bomb to stop a fucking test isn't far fetched -- it's the obvious explanation. but will this lead Glenn to question schools? no.

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animals are ridiculous

link

The digger wasp, for instance, seems to display highly intelligent brood-tending behavior. Having dug a nest, it flies off in search of a caterpillar, overpowers and kills it, drags it into the nest, and lays eggs on it. The emerging young are thereby provided with the nourishment they need and find protection in the nest, which the wasp seals. Interrupt the sequence of partactions, however, and it soon becomes clear that no form of intelligence is at work here. Returning to its hole with the caterpillar, the wasp first deposits it in the entrance and inspects the interior, then reappears at the entrance, head foremost, and drags its quarry inside. If, while the wasp is inspecting its hole, the caterpillar is removed and deposited some distance away, the wasp will continue to search until it has rediscovered the caterpillar and then will drag it to the entrance again, whereupon the whole cycle-depositing, inspecting, etc. ? begins all over again. Take away the caterpillar ten or twenty times, and the wasp will still deposit it at the entrance and embark on a tour of the hole, with which it is thoroughly familiar by this time. The insect continues to be guided by the same commands, in computer fashion, and evidently finds it hard to make any change in the overall sequence. Only after thirty or forty repetitions will the wasp finally drag the caterpillar into its nest without further inspection. Yet the digger wasp shows a great aptitude for learning where other procedures are concerned. While in flight, it memorizes the route which it must take on the ground when returning to the nest with its prey ? a very considerable feat of learning. On the other hand, the burial of its prey is an instinctive action and, thus, strongly programmed. The wasp is almost incapable of influencing or altering this part of its behavior by learning, because it is controlled by an innate and extremely incorrigible mechanism.

and

Once stimulated, whole cycles of action can proceed by themselves. In the squirrel, food storing consists of the following part-actions: scraping away soil, depositing the nut, tamping it down with the muzzle, covering it over, and pressing down the soil. A squirrel reared indoors will still perform these actions in full, even in the absence of soil. It carries the nut into a corner, where it starts to dig, deposits the nut in the (nonexistent) hole, rams it home with its muzzle (even though it merely rolls away in the process), covers up the imaginary hole, and presses down the nonexistent soil. And the squirrel still does all these things even when scrupulous care has been taken to ensure that it has never set eyes on a nut before or been given an opportunity to dig or conceal objects.

and

cows

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bloody hell. now den beste thinks evidence against atheism is physically possible. link

UPDATE: to be clearer, evidence like observations not philosophical arguments. no sensory input will make my a mystic. there are no faeries. even if we discover small pink winged things we name fairies. there is no God, even if we find some guy who ruins our ideas of physics, and call him god.

and no i'm not just being stubborn in the face of proof atheism is crap. the notions of God and faeries contain untestable bad (and by bad, i mean unspeakably horrific) explanations. when atheists say there is no god, (at least sane ones), it means the one that can't be criticised by any possible observation. and thanks to this shield, can't be confirmed either. he's just silly, like the invisible, ethereal (yet able to push) angel explanation of gravity.

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Rachel Lucas wrote something bad :-/

note esp this quote "the prof is super cool and just likes to see how stupid college kids are."

it is wrong for teachers to take joy in ridiculing students, in feeling their students to be inferior, or in harassing students (like they want this).

it's also wrong to put off-topic stuff on tests for credit.

btw, as trivia, ne1 wanna put the answers in comments? *g*

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if you like D&D, go here

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someone said the US is less free than Switzerland b/c in Switzerland tax evasion isn't criminal. are these people on crack or something?

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Posted to the TCSsociety yahoogroup (which you should join):

Taxes go to help an (imperfect) tradition do Good Things(TM) that *can't be done any other way*, but should be done. And also, that tradition is open to criticism, and thus improvement, and is actually the only feasible path currently available to a good, tax-free society. Now, being coerced by taxes requires an active "I don't want to pay taxes" theory while paying them. But one shouldn't have such a theory, because taxes are good. And thus taxes only coerce (in the TCS sense) people with hangups.

Laws are to create consent, just like rules in boardgames. Consent over what? What society should be like. And why should society be like anything, instead of just every doing what they like? The same reason that a chess board is more fun with rules. Because autonomy of action is pretty damn worthless; creating and realising good purposes is valuable.

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Remembered a nice line about atheism: "When you understand why you don't believe in every logically possible God, you'll understand why I don't believe in yours."

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Here's a good demonstration that asking the wrong questions is just as much a cause of mental masturbation as being a dolt. No offence to the author is intended, but this particular piece is mostly a waste of time, because it focuses on pointless questions (at least the bits I read -_-o).

See, it worries about whether atheism is *proveable* and other stuff about proof. But fallibility tells us that certainty isn't possible (and that this isn't not an obstacle to knowledge or truth). What matters is what the best explantion of reality is, and that's what a discussion of the truth of atheism ought to focus on.

Note that "fallibility tells us" is no more than arguing in terms of high-level concepts; it is *not* any sort of appeal to the authority of the principle of fallibility, and *not* an unsupported assertion.

UPDATE:

read a bit more. look at this "Within mechanistic atheism, you have people who think that atheism is somehow scientific and actually can be proved, and others who understand that atheism is a religious belief which is no more susceptible to actual proof than any other religious belief." *sigh*

and i should mention the focus on proof isn't the only manifestation of asking the wrong questions causing the piece to be mostly pointless. and also that it does have some truth in it anyway.

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Thanks to Elegance Against Ignorance for linking this Lord of the Rings themed Chomsky parody.

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A friend thinks it's an important implication of mechanist atheism (rightly construed) that we should not go looking for moral explanations in the supernatural. I kinda thought that was a bit "duh" to write. We shouldn't look for *any* explanations in the supernatural.

But I guess it *is* true that lots of atheists think morality is a religious concept, and cannot exist otherwise. *sigh*

UPDATE:

As David Deutsch points out:

That last sentence there is a special case of a more general thing, namely that religious people and scientistic people have this great area of agreement, namely that reason cannot reach beyond math and science. In fact, beyond mathematical proof or scientific prediction, most of them would say.

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Steven Den Beste, a mechanist atheist, writes:

And even among mechanists there's no particular consensus about such things as ethics, because the basic axiom of mechanistic atheism (that the only thing which exists is the material universe and the matter within it, which interacts according to the laws of physics) doesn't provide any kind of guidance in those areas.

Actually, mechanist atheism as defined here, does give guidance about ethics: it states that ethics (and more generally, explanations) do not exist. This comes from the simple premise that ethics are neither matter nor laws of physics.

A much better way to approach existence, is to consider things to exist if they are necessary to explaining reality. This still includes the laws of physics, and all the matter in the "material universe" and still fails to include God or faeries, but this time does include explanations.

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on Dawson's Creek this guy wanted his gf back, and gave a speech (over a loudspeaker at an airport, weeeeee) but anyway, nothing in his speech was contingent on the girl ('sides her name *g*). she's amazing. rocks his world. he loves her. he's sorry. he wants things to work out. he's sure they will. etc It's striking how little actual content the lives of any of the ppl on Dawson's Creek have (or many other similar shows too). But I suppose it is orders of magnitude harder to write the details, and might not actually be good for ratings either.

the lack of consent secured before attempting to kiss people also never ceases to amaze me.

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this *should be* uncontroversial:

The choice "shooting at a terrorist" is not the choice "killing an innocent" even tho ppl sometimes miss. Morality comes down to choices, not results.

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