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    Geology: Paleontology, Paleoclimatology, Geochemistry, Mass extinctions
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TheBeardedDude's Achievements


Quark (2/13)



  1. Fascinating Profound Interesting Motivating There are a number of terms I would use describe my own experience, but I still tend to refrain from using terms intimately connected to religion.
  2. I am an atheist who doesn't consider himself to be spiritual. Primarily because I grew up with that term being intimately connected to religion (grew up southern baptist). As I considered and reconsidered my religious views as I got older, I eventually started describing my opinions on religious issues as "spiritual but not religious." I stopped doing that when I realized that I didn't really mean it. What I really meant was that (at the time) my religious views didn't fit any single religions dogma. I had effectively constructed my own religion of sorts (a mish-mash of christian and buddhist/deist ideas). So I was still spiritual and religious, but I didn't ascribe to a single religion like other people did. So, do I find wonder and awe in the universe around me? Yeah. Do I feel a strong connection to the world in which I live that causes me to become emotionally invested in it? Yes. But I refrain from using the word "spiritual" when describing my opinions and experiences because it is often associated with religious beliefs. (and I don't believe in the spirit or the soul as a thing that exists independent of my own mind/body)
  3. We have been studying this for a while (there are earlier experiments than this one but I found this first: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v428/n6985/full/428788b.html) Basically, it could work to sequester Carbon in the oceans as long as you can create a carbon pump that will sequester the biomass into the sediments. That would require a lot of primary production and a reduction in water column O2 in order to prevent decomposition of the biomass as it sinks. It's possible but it would take a LOT of biomass production to sequester enough CO2 to make a difference.
  4. Climate change (anthropogenic or natural) is as much an opinion as evolution and gravity are.
  5. Well, it was worse during WWII. Why do you think today is worse than any other point in human history?
  6. What is ironic about this Christmas then considering that I can't think of a single Christmas in my own lifetime where the Earth was at peace?
  7. I am not entirely sure what you mean by irony in your thread topic. What I find ironic every year when Christmas rolls around is the christian outrage over the "war on Christmas" where christians complain about the secular world trying to steal the holidays away from Christmas when Christmas is a holiday the Christians stole from other religions and cultures.
  8. I think it is a good piece of evidence to show that gods are human inventions.
  9. "I get what you're saying now. I thought you were implying that dying secular people didn't need as much emotional support (which is all 'spiritual' support really is)." Right, I am not saying that atheists and agnostics don't want or need it but I am saying the demand for it, given the size of those populations, is minimal. "I personally see no positives to nationalism, but that's another discussion again. And I personally see no positives to religion. "I think one of the (many) problems advocating for the positives of religion are that many atheists aren't aware of the fundamental difference to the way one perceives their experience different mind states can bring." I'm not sure that is true. Many of the atheists I know are formerly religious. "I have an easier time explaining it to people who have taken psychedelics because they are able to accept the idea that there are multiple ways of experiencing reality, whereas many atheists see one and only one way. Note: i'm not saying there are multiple realities, just that there are multiple ways to relate to that reality. " But, once again, what you're talking about isn't the core element of a religion. Nor is this unique to religion. One can attain enlightenment without religion. "Just for the record, strictly speaking Buddhism is agnostic - it's tenants don't depend on the existence or non-existence of god(s)." Depends on the version of Buddhism you ascribe to. Some sects of it are theistic because they believe that there are gods that exist (Buddha isn't/wasn't a god, but he was challenged by them from what I understand of the stories associated with him). "Regarding the dominance of violent religious traditions, it could be easily understood in terms of meme theory. Religions willing to employ any means to spread the gospel, including violence, would out compete religions who don't try to spread, or have limits to their proselytising (sic). Hopefully the secular landscape can redress that problem." And this would be what I consider to be perhaps the greatest threat religion poses, thus it weighs heavily in my assessment that the world would be better off without religion considering you have so many sects that create conflict over which one of them has the better imaginary friend that loves them more. "What would be the solution? I suggest we should try to decompose religions into constituent parts. Only some people will follow any religion because they are fundamentally convinced of its doctrine. Most follow it because they were born into it and it becomes part of their identity. By breaking religion apart we could try to keep benign elements while discarding malignant elements." Even those raised in a religion affiliate it with their self-identity and many of them would at least proclaim to be willing to die for it (whether that is true or not is irrelevant). "This is currently happening with the Church of England. Many do not take the Bible literally, will allow secular morals to overrule biblical morals, but still like to get together for a sing-song and sermon. I've met a few CofE followers who don't even believe in god (even a couple of Catholics - not regressed Catholics, people who insist they are Catholic but don't believe in god. Weird stuff)." I think it comes from education. Even those who are religious but are well educated don't tend to be on the extreme ends of any spectrum.
  10. "From the Journal of Palliative Medicine: there's an interesting little lit. review under the section Spirituality and patient perspectives." I'll give it a look but what I am saying is that with atheists and agnostics making up a small proportion of the population (at least in the US), demand for in hospital comfort isn't going to be very high. The "non-religious" category in the US is up to maybe 1 in 5 adults, but a lot of those people (maybe at least half) are still some form of spiritual. "Same goes for Nationalistic ideologies: it's a problem with humanity, not religions." Yes, I never intended to imply that group-think and defense of extremists is limited to religion. I think I said something to that effect in my first post on the thread. What I am saying is that while other groups (like nations) create division too, the positives outweigh the negatives. Whereas I don't think that true for religion. "And how many of these benign theists (are we now neglecting agnostic/atheistic religions?) do this?" Answering the parenthetical: Yeah, I am ignoring the "agnostic/atheistic" religions for the time being because they don't represent a majority of the religious. For instance, while I don't know much about Buddhism, many of its adherents in the eastern world are still theists but Buddhists in the western world appear to have abandoned the gods portion of Buddhism. In any event, if the less violent religions were the ones that dominated the religious landscape, my answer might be different. "And how many of these benign theists (are we now neglecting agnostic/atheistic religions?) do this? We've established that some do and some don't, but can we quantify how many and relate it to other variables? Which is why i value MonDie's contibution - it's an attempt to tease out the salient features of religiosity. I also value your contribution: it's so pleasant to talk data on a religion thread for once. " How many of the benign theists? I don't have a number but any number of moderates defending extremists is too high. And yes, I am quite aware of the complexities of looking at these issues. The point I am emphasizing (my opinion) is that while some find benefit in religion, religion wholesale isn't providing an overall benefit to humanity in the 21st century that outweighs the negatives. "Cool beans. But why PCA? My first thought was regression with and then without religiosity as a predictor. So we don't get tempted into p-hacking maybe we should decide on some variables before more analysis? I like violent crime and suicide rates; what's your thinking on population rank? Be nice to include something on human rights and female subjugation. This could be fun."[]/b] I did a PCA because I wanted to look at all of the variables I could as quickly as possible to see if there was a pattern. But yes, a pairwise comparison and a series of linear regressions could also be helpful as well as the inclusion of different variables.
  11. I got bored while procrastinating and decided to add some data together into a multivariate analysis related to our discussions. I haven't delved too deep into any interpretation of this, but all of the data I pulled I got off of wikipedia and I deleted any countries I didn't have complete data for (not ideal but I did this PCA quickly). That resulted in some countries that I'd like to have seen on here become omitted (Cuba, Syria, North Korea, to name a few). Note: The PCA uses a correlation matrix since the data is all of different types. If a piece of data is a rank, remember that this means that the higher the number the worse it is (so a high GDP ranking means it has a worse GDP ranking than a country with a rank closer to 1). But for the rates, the lower the number the worse it is (suicide and violent crime rates). And the response to the religion question is a percentage (I omitted the opposite response to that question so as to reduce the "double dipping" of the data). In general, the countries you probably wouldn't want to live in plot to the left and down. These countries have poor GDP rankings and high suicide rates. These are also the countries that tend to favor religion. The opposite direction is occupied by countries with less religiousness and better GDP rankings (some have elevated suicide rates, like China/Hong Kong and the UK relative to some of the other countries). I can't go through country by country at the moment and I may go back through this and add in more data (and remove the different suicide categories since they load in the same direction and to the same degree) and add back in countries with incomplete data (I should be able to do the PCA with incomplete if I can figure out how to code for it in R). So this doesn't really resolve anything but I think it is consistent with my overall position. Religion being important to people isn't a reflection of a high quality life, the reciprocal appears to be more true. But how one determines causality is not clear. Maybe more religious people create worse countries to live in? Or perhaps countries that are worse to live in create more religious people?
  12. " The dying don't get surveyed very much, the dead even less so." Yes, I would assume that. I am talking about a demand from the living though. "Even if not fired i would have thought this sufficient to bring your employer to a tribunal under harassment or discrimination at work? " Not if you aren't actually being discriminated against in any verifiable or provable way. It is impossible to prove discrimination by just pointing to the boss and saying that they have a bad attitude towards you because you are an atheist. Also, I was a part-time employee and could have been fired for literally no reason anyways. While there are anti-discrimination laws, I didn't have any sort of job security that prevents me from being fired for another reason. All the boss would have to say is "we don't need you right now because of our sales, so we are letting you go." There would have been no course of repercussion for me. "Either way, i fear removing religion would not solve the situation. Human in-group behaviour is obviously strong in these communities and would just manifest in some other way." I didn't say it would solve all of our problems related to group-think, I am saying that religion is currently a large source of it though. Meaning that almost by default the world would be a better place without religion. That doesn't mean I think it would be a conflict- and prejudice-free world. "I guess the pertinent question is to what degree is religiosity causative or just correlated with in-group behaviour. MonDie's interesting post might help explore that a little." It establishes groups with inherent differences. Meaning that it isn't merely correlated with group think because it is an establishment that creates groups and beliefs that are group specific. "Then by definition they are not moderate." No, they are still moderate in the sense that they don't condone or accept the extreme actions, but they see any perceived attack on their theological and religious beliefs as a threat. So if you criticize the religious beliefs of the extremists that helped lead to the problematic behavior, many moderates can't distinguish that criticism of the religion from a personal attack on their own religious views. Resulting in them defending the theology/religion of the extremists even though they don't defend the actions. "But there are plenty of religious people who do condemn extremists. Whenever i try to point out there are benign religious people everyone points out that there are malignant religious people. I accept this, which gives credence to my claim that religious people and religions themselves are not homogenous. And yet, 219 posts later, we are still treating them as if they are. Even a split like Abrahamic and others would be a start." No, I am pointing to the "benign" ones too, but what I am saying is that while some of the benign theists don't condone the actions, they condone and defend the religion of the extremists. "But the meta-analysis is far more rigorous than your quick attempt - why are you so quick to dismiss it?" I'm not dismissing it, but it wasn't possible to give it any lengthy treatment. Send it in a private message if you can. "Less? Maybe, depends if we count the Nazi's trying to eradicate Jews. I'm not sure how secular the Nazi's could be considered: my understanding is that religion wasn't important to motivating their ideals. Then there was the great purge. I don't doubt things are as bad as you say they are in your corner of the world. But in the far east religious freedoms are curtailed by secular states." Yes, for clarity's sake what I mean is that I do not encounter with any regularity atheists or agnostics advocating for eradicating religion from the face of the Earth. Even more important to this point to me is that while there is a minority of the non-religious out there advocating for this, they don't have the power, money, or influence that the religious do.
  13. "How did scientists know what happened millions of years ago if no one was there to see it?" The same way we determine what happened in other similar situations, we look for the evidence. Detectives can piece together what happened when someone is murdered from the evidence left behind. That's what paleontologists do, we find the fossils and we use the morphology of the fossil to help us determine what species it is and what it's related to. That helps establish the evolutionary lineage of a group of organisms. We also use the sediments the rocks are found in, as well as the geochemical signature of the sediments and fossils, to determine other pieces of information. The sediments can tell us the environment the organism lived in and the geochemistry can allow us to determine their diet/trophic level, the temperature of their environment (or their internal body temperature), and other factors about the environment too (like the role of the global carbon cycle). "And if we are going to teach this to our students, what is the best instructional material to used?" I'm not sure because I don't teach at the primary school level but I'm sure there are plenty of good online resources through groups like the Paleontolgoical Society of America, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Paleontological Research Institute, etc. (A fun online activity titled "what did T. rex taste like?" is good) Another question you asked is "how do scientists know they have a fossil?" That's somewhat trickier to answer under certain conditions. The definition of a fossil can vary depending upon the paleontologist, I prefer "any trace of life preserved in the crust of the earth." So, what makes a fossil a fossil is that it is not from a recently dead animal and instead comes from the rock or sedimentary record. So it becomes tricky when looking at Holocene sediments because it may not be clear how old the specimen is. But this definition works well when looking at the vast majority of the fossil record.
  14. "I'm glad you don't see the need for it, but it is a well known problem in nursing." I mean a specific demand for secular people/groups to comfort the dying "I agree. Fortunately not a problem where i live. It's strange, i read about the American founding fathers and i think i'll jump ship. But then i hear these sort of things and it sounds like a truly awful place. And then Trump happened." It isn't as if the prejudice is overt and explicit (most times). It is the implicit and cultural biases that create the most problems. I had a job at a retail store while in college that I liked and I got along with everyone (for the most part) really well. But when they learned I was an atheist and a co-worker was non-religious (I think she might have identified as agnostic), attitudes changed on a dime. We weren't fired but both of us got fed up with how we were being treated and quit (she had been with the company for around a decade). It is definitely worse in places like the south (any religious rural area probably). "Sure, just not here. Also, there are religious people who would rather not be associated with the fundamentalist religious types with which you are unfortunately so familiar. I'm trying to advocate for them. " And I would argue that very often even the moderates defend the extremists, even if they don't want to be affiliated directly with them. (I don't see this for groups like ISIS. Meaning that I don't see moderate Muslim sects defending them). For instance, you'd probably be hard pressed to find a moderate christian in the US who condones abortion clinic bombings, but they would almost certainly defend the theology behind the christian groups who have perpetrated these heinous acts. "I was just wondering whether we can do better. For instance, it has been mentioned that more secular societies are more peaceful. This should be measurable. " Well, it would be mostly qualitative information but we can look at it. Happiest countries on Earth according to the World Happiness Report Update 2016 from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the UN. (http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/16/travel/worlds-happiest-countries-united-nations/) Top ten: 1) Denmark 2) Switzerland 3) Iceland 4) Norway 5) Finland 6) Canada 7) Netherlands 8) New Zealand 9) Australia 10) Sweden Bottom ten: 1) Burundi 2) Syria 3) Togo 4) Afghanistan 5) Benin 6) Rwanda 7) Guinea 8) Liberia 9) Tanzania 10) Madagascar Now let's compare the most and least religious countries and then find the rank of religiousness for the previously mentioned 20. (sources: http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/least-religious-countries-in-the-world.html and http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-religious-countries-in-the-world.html) Least religious: 1) China (7% religious, 83rd happiness) 2) Japan (13% religious, 53rd happiness) 3) Estonia (16% religious, 72nd happiness) 4) Sweden (19% religious, 10th happiness) 5) Denmark (19% religious, 1st happiness) 6) Czech Republic (23% religious, 27th happiness) 7) Hong Kong (24% religious, 75th happiness) 8) Netherlands (24% religious, 7th happiness) 9) United Kingdom (30% religious, 23rd happiness) 10) Vietnam (34% religious, 96th ranking happiness) Average happiness ranking: 44.7 Max: 96th Min: 1st Most religious 1) Niger (100% religious, 103rd happiness) 2) Sri Lanka (99% religious, 117th happiness) 3) Malawi (99% religious, 132nd religious) 4) Indonesia (99% religious, 70th happiness) 5) Yemen (99% religious, 147th happiness) 6) Thailand (94% religious, 33rd happiness) 7) Armenia (93% religious, 121st happiness) 8) Bangladesh (93% religious, 110th happiness) 9) Georgia (93% religious, 126th happiness) 10) Morocco (93% religious, 90th happiness) Average happiness ranking: 104.9 Max: 147th Min: 33rd And then a measure of importance of religion by country for the ten happiest countries. I am using this wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country).The percentages I am quoting are those who say that religion is important in their lives: Top ten: 1) Denmark 19% 2) Switzerland 41% 3) Iceland NA? 4) Norway 21% 5) Finland 28% 6) Canada 42% 7) Netherlands 33% 8) New Zealand 33% 9) Australia 32% 10) Sweden 17% Avg: 29.6% Max: 42% Min: 17% and the bottom ten: 1) Burundi 98% 2) Syria 89% 3) Togo 80% 4) Afghanistan 97% 5) Benin 93% 6) Rwanda 95% 7) Guinea 97% 8) Liberia 94% 9) Tanzania 89% 10) Madagascar 93% Avg: 92.5% Max: 98% Min: 80% Obviously there are other factors that go into happiness and religiousness too, but if we just look at the data I have pulled thus far we can make some interesting observations: 1) Happiest countries are less religious 2) The happiest countries consider religion to be less important in their lives 3) The unhappiest countries are more religious 4) The unhappiest countries consider religion to be more important in their lives than the happiest countries do "The only meta-analysis i could find on the subject suggests religiosity is a moderate deterrent to crime - but i've not seen the full-text so can't assess its rigour. There are of course other measures of 'better' than reduced crime, but we have never got to grips with what 'better' means on this thread " I am sure crime is a difficult one to flesh out because that may be more strongly controlled by whether or not it is a first-world country or not. You'll have more crimes accurately reported in developed nations because you have the resources to do so and that might mean that they are skewed a bit. "Look harder." I didn't say they don't exist, but they are not common. Whereas you can turn on the TV here and find channels like the 700 club who preach this kind of hatred and intolerance to the masses.
  15. I too will take a whack at this. 1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed. For example, “Global warming” evolved to “climate change” because the models didn’t show universal warming. Couple of things: 1) Global warming gave people a false impression that only changes in temperature should be expected. But we know (and knew some of these then but didn't communicate them well) now that not only will the mean annual temperature of the oceans and atmosphere change, but so will seasonality and seasonal extremes of temperature, sea level will rise in some places and fall in others, hydrology will change with some areas getting more precip and others less, the timing of the moisture distribution will change, the timing of events related to flora and fauna will change, etc. 2) the models test specific hypotheses regarding plausible future scenarios. So, as more and better data becomes available, what scenarios are plausible changes. But the real point to make here is that it is asserted that the models "didn't show" something and it is often said that the models aren't to be trusted because they don't agree with one another. This is exactly what one expects of models, because they aren't predictions of the future, they are hypotheses of what could happen under a given set of parameters. So, for instance, the amount and rate of warming differs from model to model because: 1) the human effect is altered (using the current anthropogenic rates, using rates that increase with expected increases in population simulating increased demand and consumption, reduced rates of release (multiple scenarios), complete cessation of human activities, 2) the resolution and amount of data available (grid size of your model is based upon how powerful a computer you have as well as how much data you have for each grid cell) "2. Prediction models are complicated. When things are complicated you have more room for error. Climate science models are complicated." And climate scientists know what they are doing and account for the complications. This is easy to determine by reading any given methods and conclusions sections of climate studies. Climate and climate change being complex does not mean we can't accurately study it. "3. The models require human judgement to decide how variables should be treated. This allows humans to “tune” the output to a desired end. This is the case with climate science models." All science requires human judgement in order to proceed. This isn't a salient point. What is disturbingly being suggested is that results are manipulated to give a desired result, I typically dismiss such conspiracy as someone being out of touch with the scientific literature. For instance, the models can (and are) bootstrapped so as to show the full range of plausible scenarios as well as the modeled uncertainty. Meaning that scientists explicitly take steps so as to avoid intentionally or unintentionally biasing their results. "4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field. As I already said, I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist. Imagine how much worse the pressure would be if science was my career. " Couple of things: ​1) It wouldn't end your career. I have listened to several scientists in my field who don't believe in ACC, their careers are not in jeopardy in any way. I know scientists who hold other less popular hypotheses regarding a variety of subjects, and they too are not in jeopardy of having damaged careers. Scientists are not policing other scientists personal opinions. Heck, there is a geologist at a school in the northeast who peddles all sorts of unscientific conspiracies (I'm talking aliens and mind control in the fossil record kind of crazy) and even he isn't in any danger of losing his status as a scientist. 2) The energy industry doesn't care about your opinion on ACC, as long as you do your job well enough to make them money. "5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore. Our measurement sensors do not cover all locations on earth, from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, so we have the option to use the measurements that fit our predictions while discounting the rest." Once again, this seems ignorant of the published science and the published models. One doesn't extrapolate a global signal from a singular site, the results and implications from that singular site can and are discussed. When we model current trends and look at paleoclimatic trends, we intentionally sample across multiple latitudes and environments so as to look at a more holistic signal. "6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible." I've never seen the credible side of the climate denial argument. I have only seen an attempt to obfuscate the reality of the science while proclaiming that climates have always changed.
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