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Sisyphus

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Everything posted by Sisyphus

  1. I think the social categories of race - white, black, etc. - tend to confuse the issue more. Yes, there are genetic markers that vary widely in prevalence between populations. However, where one draws a line between "races" is very much a social artifact. For example, there is more genetic diversity in sub-Saharan Africa than the rest of the world combined. Yet we all lump all the (dark-skinned) people who live there together as "black," along with the descendents of African slaves living in America, most of whom are also descended from northern Europeans. And so on. So: is race biologically real, or is it a social construct? Both. Kind of. People who need things to be in simple categories will be frustrated.
  2. It's entirely speculative, obviously, but I would guess so, just because it's true on smaller scales. Something like 95% of murders are committed by men. Women just seem much less prone to use violence. (That's not to say that women get along more harmoniously, just that physical violence is a much less used "weapon" when they don't.) You could argue that wars aren't started for the same reasons that individuals murder each other, but perhaps more fundamentally they pretty much are.
  3. No, it's not relative to size. The orbitals of an atom don't really have a speed in the same sense that the Earth has a speed going around the sun. "Orbitals," despite the name, are very different from orbits.
  4. Planets are spherical because they are pulled that way by their own gravity. Spin has nothing to do with that, but it can make the sphere bulge around the equator. The Earth, like most planets, is a slightly flattened sphere called an oblate spheroid. Molecules are not spherical, generally, but if and when they are it is not because of the same forces. Only very massive objects get pulled into spheres by gravity. The Milky Way and a hurricane are formed by very different forces and have very different structures, and there's no particular reason to compare them. There is no "eye" in the Milky Way - in fact it is densest at the center. Different stars orbit the center at different speeds. Our solar system is currently orbiting the center at about 780,000 km/h (485,000 mph)
  5. But note there that the origin point is already above the Earth's atmosphere. That ellipse of the orbit will intercept the origin point (the cannon on the mountaintop), as it must, unless some secondary force is applied to it while it's already in flight. There is no way to fire a cannonball from the Earth's surface such that it will neither escape Earth's gravity entirely nor intersect the surface again.
  6. It's difficult to get precise figures on rates of extinction in the past and present, but yes, most estimates put the current extinction rate at much higher than background rates - perhaps even thousands of times higher. While global warming might contribute to that, it's much less of a factor (so far) than things like habitat loss, introduction of invasive species, and overhunting causing ripple effects through whole ecosystems. This has been going on for thousands of years, and continues to accelerate. Basically, you've got one species, humans, suddenly (in geological timespan) exploding in population, occupying every ecosystem on Earth, and modifying its environment to an extreme degree. Of course there is going to be tremendous disruption and mass extinction.
  7. The rebels have broad popular support throughout the Arab world. Are they all plants of Western governments? What about in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, etc.? I think you have a very unrealistic notion of how "happy, fed, and satisfied" the average Libyan is.
  8. No, there's no credibility whatsoever. If you want to talk about the reasons for anti-semitic paranoia, that might be interesting, but I'm not sure it really belongs in Politics.
  9. I don't know. But I do have several friends whose entire families are like that, and I see those views expressed incessantly on conservative talk shows every holiday season, with calls to boycott stores that say "happy holidays." I also know a lot of liberal Christians who don't care at all. My maternal grandparents were very liberal and very devout Catholics, for example. It's just puzzling to me that you apparently don't know any conservatives. Well that I find impossible to believe.
  10. Someone trying to make a rhetorical point. Who doesn't know that?
  11. Christmas is a holiday, no? "Happy holidays" obviously includes "merry Christmas." The only difference is that it also includes non-Christians holidays, so clearly that's what they have a problem with. That not everyone is a Christian is offensive. Or, according to you, what's offensive is that other Christians are willing to admit that not everyone is a Christian. Or at least, that other Christians want non-Christians to have a good holiday, despite their heretical beliefs, or something. (Though it's more than that, since a lot of the "outrage" is at stuff like corporate stores having signs that say "happy holidays.") While I understand that a Christian might object to implying some equivalency between the "true faith" and false, hellbound ones, that's not a concern that I am at all sympathetic to, and more importantly it's simply not feasible to be so intolerant in a diverse society, even if you are in the majority. And I also get that a lot of people are annoyed by what they perceive as "political correctness." They're told they're supposed to do something different than how they've always done it without being given a satisfactory explanation why, and that's annoying. However, if they thought about it at all on their own, they would see there's no actual reason to be upset.
  12. Government funded? You're thinking of Rome, and in that case it's pretty clear that the people forced to fight to the death are victims. Since I don't think anyone here is defending sex slavery, how is that related? What's at issue is whether it's evil in the first place. EDIT: Also, why is this in the religion forum?
  13. The answers to all of those questions depend on what sort of god we're talking about. This: doesn't mean much to me. What do we know about this god that has been proven to exist?
  14. Yes, I knew you were making a joke. I thought that was clear. Damn you, forum medium!
  15. Random abuse, of course, remains robust. But last time, the anecdotes didn't cancel.
  16. I have not personally noticed any uptick in malevolence.
  17. You did not observe your own conception, therefore it was impossible, therefore you don't exist. "But surely you can infer..." Sorry, can't hear you if you don't exist.
  18. For someone who claims to have "lost faith to evolution," you seem to have found something else very specific to be faithful to very quickly, for no apparent reason. Instead of doing that, why don't you learn more about evolution? All of your objections to it seem to be based on misunderstandings of what evolution is and how it occurs. No, it doesn't. Evolution, on the other hand, does. If you don't understand why, then you really have no business declaring that "science is wrong." (And if you have no interest in learning, then please leave this forum.) Microorgansims of all sorts are extremely successful at reproducing, and that's the only thing that evolution favors. It does not make things "better" according to some human definition or preference. So yes, of course there are still microorganisms. Why shouldn't there be?
  19. Yes, it's a valid question. I'm saying it's not a different question than how do they attract one one another.
  20. What you're arguing is almost identical, just inverted. He was arguing that because the closing speed was 1.4C (true), that the speed limit isn't C (false). You are arguing that since the speed limit is C (true), the closing speed isn't 1.4C (false)! You're both operating on the same flawed premise that the two things are mutually exclusive. You just picked a different statement as "true." Surely that's the entire definition. You wouldn't sum 60 distances. You would sum at most 2, depending on what you're looking for. And since no velocity can be greater than C, the sum is at most 2C. It's not a matter of winning, because there is no conflict. The relativistic velocity additions are for translating between reference frames.
  21. Well, ok then. I don't think what you quoted is making a good distinction. "How" seems to be what is happening on the large scale, and "why" what is happening on the small scale. This makes sense intuitively since we generally use them on a large scale, and the large scale is a cumulative effect of small scale stuff, but ultimately the distinction is arbitrary and not fundamental. That's kind of what I was getting at. "Why" and "how" are different ways of framing a question, but if you keep going deep enough you realize they're all just "what" questions.
  22. True. In your rest frame, the relative velocity between them is 1.8C. In their rest frames, it is less than C. True, true, and true. True, true, and true. False. It would be nonsense to have anything moving at 1.8C, but nothing is. False.
  23. No, they're separated because they're different things. Evolution is something that happens to life that already exists. We don't know how life began in the first place, although we do have some ideas. We do know that evolution occurs. Lemurs might remain similar for 60 million years, but they don't stay exactly the same. And most things don't remain that static. And before lemurs were lemurs, they weren't. So your question is a bit like saying, "It's been raining here for 3 days, why shouldn't I hypothesize that it will never stop raining?" Well, because it eventually always does, and because everything we know about the weather predicts that it will. So, sure, if lemurs' environment doesn't change much, most likely they will continue to evolve slowly. If their environment changes a lot, most likely they will evolve quickly. See, now this is an example of an argument from ignorance. It's not necessary to be able to explain how every single aspect of everything happened in order for the general concepts to be considered well-supported. But, if you really are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye I don't understand the question. Convergent evolution means that different organisms evolve similar solutions to similar problems. Yes, it is tough to explain. The concepts of evolution are fairly simple, but the actual process is very complicated.
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