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Everything posted by Butters

  1. Sure, I´m happy to argue against the use of the death penalty as well if you like! I´ve served on juries before, and they are an absolutely ridiculous way to decide somebody´s fate in my opinion. In every case I´ve been on one there have been racists who vote guilty regardless of evidence, people too stupid to graps some of the concepts, people determined to solve the crime like they saw on CSI, etc etc. The death penalty should never be an option for a judge to hand out based on the judgement of members of the public. It is irreversible in the case of a mistake or bigotry, and I am certain that such things happen all the time. The second part of your post seems to agree that torture should not be used. Anger and frustration being regular occurrences, should mean that torture is not a legal option given to soldiers or law enforcment agencies. If all it takes is for the angry or frustrated person to sign off and say it was justified because we had reason to suspect that in the interests of national security there was an immediate threat to blah blah blah, then unless some independent tribunal is able to review EVERY single case then it will be abused. I am of the opinion that it is better to let the guilty go free than imprison the innocent, and it is better to risk terrorism than demolish human rights. Terrorism is a tool of fear, not of any significant civilian death toll (at least not in the US and Europe etc). If the media stopped trumping it up and injecting fear, then the few events that do occur would lose a lot of their impact. It is not the deaths that terrorists want, they are nothing compared to other causes of death, it is the fear that accompanies them and the outrage that inspires a population to push their government for action. Evidence of torture is just another recruitment tool to demonstrate the so-called barbarism of the enemy and incite yet more hatred and, yes, more terrorism.
  2. Because if you have a human signing off that in any particular and unique circumstance it is justified, for example in the interests of national security or some other blanket term, then it is open to interpretation and a gradual stretching of the definition. People think of systems as having a defined set of rules and definitions, but in reality this is not the case. These rules are enforced and interpreted by humans with vested interests and biases. The reason it is different is that the consequences are worse if we allow torture. In law, supposedly somebody is guilty until proven innocent and should be treated as such. If somebody is tortured for information because they were captured in suspicious circumstances then their presumption of innocence is removed. Considering the fact that recent terrorism can be broadly separated by race, innocent people will inevitably be tortured. And it´s not enough to say that it MAY be saving innocent lives by doing so. People die all the time and in horrible ways through the inaction of others. Just because somebody dies unexpectedly from an explosion rather than predictable from starvation or disease from unsanitary conditions does not mean we should allow basic rights to be violated.
  3. My problem with torture is the previously stated unreliable nature of the information, but also another larger issue. People have said that in certain situations it could be justified, like a 9/11 type event, etc. THe problem with that is, when you give the torturers teh go ahead to use torture when they think it is justifiable, how is that policed? Considering the sensitive nature of a lot of the information surrounding the likely situations where torture would be justified, isn´t allowing it in any circumstances just giving a green light for all torture?
  4. What exactly do you mean by existing in a different time space?
  5. Yeah I thought of this one. It seems to be maybe the only thing that could be measured independently over vast distances, but as you say, it is not exactly precise. I was hoping for something a little bit more accurate, but I guess there is nothing. What about something on a galactic level, say the rotation of a galaxy compared to surround galaxies in its cluster. One full revolution is a galactic year. I believe this already exists as an idea, but how would you go about dividing it up. It{s something like 225 million years a rotation, so you would need to have 182.5634232 degrees and so on. Could work I suppose, if there was some way to get a distinctive starting point. Then of course, how would you know how MANY times it had rotated. That{s where the background radiation would come in I suppose.
  6. I´m trying to work out a way to have a system of measuring the date that is not limited by the rotations of planets etc. Something that is not necessarily local and could be used to give a universal ´date´across, well everything. The problem I keep coming up against is the huge distances involved which seem to make it fairly meaningless to say it is X at this point everywhere. Because I suppose, any measurements somebody was making would be based on old light reaching them... Basically, does anyone know of this being done already. Even if not universal, at least galactic? As in something that involved the curent positions of stars according to each other, or the rotation of the galaxy and so on. It seems that there is no real way to say it is THIS time and date everywhere at once. What compromises could be made to get a working system.
  7. Interesting. I have been trying to come up with ways to trick it, but so far I cannot. It does of course mean that information can appear to travel faster than light, for example. If I was to enter the wormhole, see a star go supernova, and then return and tell astronomers to watch out in five years then they know something they should not. But of course, it's an illusion as I have not actually travelled faster than light, I have simply taken a shortcut through space at less than the speed of light. Still, even then, causality is preserved.
  8. I have a speculative idea about wormholes. Let's say that a person (or anything for that matter) was able to pass through one, traveling through space, but also through time. If the wormhole mouths were close together, this would obviously cause some problems in terms of causality. If they were on either side of a regular sized room, then it would be possible for the person to emerge in the very recent past and stop themselves from entering the wormhole in the first place, creating a paradox. I believe this is one reason that some theorists believe time travel is not possible. But if the only reason for discounting time travel (specifically for a wormhole in terms of this post) is the possible disruption of causality, then I have another suggestion. What if there was a fixed relationship between the distance in space between two wormhole mouths and the amount of time shift that occurs from the POV of an observer traveling through it? First, we accept that the speed of light is the speed limit of the universe. Let's say the time shift of our example wormhole was ten years into the past relative to the wormhole entrance. Then the distance between our two wormhole mouths in space must be at least slightly more than ten light years. Call it a law of nature, as yet unproven, that for that amount of time shift it is physically impossible for them to be closer in space. No information from the future could be used to alter the past, because even if you sent a message it would arrive just after the event had occurred. It is conceivable that you could bring back technology but this still doesn't mean you've created a paradox as far as I can see. Then you're just however many light years from anywhere with future technology. Also, observing events through a telescope, no matter how powerful, has the same speed of light restriction on whatever observations you make. So in short, my idea is that there is a direct correlation between distance in space and time shift of wormholes that allows time travel, but protects causality. Please feel free to tell me what logic jumps I may have made and why this wouldn't be the case. Or link me to somebody who has hypothesised this already.
  9. It does seem like a lot of people emphasise human decisions about what to do and when as causing the universe to ¨split¨. Surely it´s a lot more fundamental than that, at a quantum level. Besides, it seems likely that your genetic makeup and past experiences will always lead you to do the same thing. You don´t have a ¨choice¨to be a completely different type of person. You are what you are. The only variations in your behaviour would be based on differing circumstances based on quantum effects, not you suddenly deciding to strip naked and dance the Charleston on the desk at work simply because it´s physically possible to do so. So yes, I actually do believe that free-will is an illusion. You do what you do because of who you are, which was not a choice you made as´you´did not exist. I should point out this whole thing should be prefaced with IN MY OPINION, as otherwise it comes across as if I´m stating these things as if I think they are facts!
  10. Sorry to disappoint but it is not a cry for help. Well sort of. It's another tedious science fiction novel research question. The strong AI in the book are a collective, but they have shared experience independent from separate personality. Just wanting to get some of the philosophical problems to do with a total physical separation of personality and experience. I'm reasonably happy.
  11. Maybe so, but it seems that anything so sufficiently advanced would have less need for bodies than we would. They could exist by the trillions in very small spaces. In my opinion they would simply not be competing with us for the space on this planet. They would almost certainly want to explore the universe, and with probably indefinite life spans they could do this. There´s no particular reason they should be malicious, but they might be indifferent. That indifference might cause some problems as they just take what they want, but I doubt they would simply kill everybody for no particular reason. There always seems to be a presumption that AI will have ´no emotions´and will therefore only ever do the most utilitarian thing. If they are indeed super intelligent, why would they not also be infinitely more creative and insightful than us? They could create the most amazing art or music (or whatever equivalent they would find easiest to digest in whatever form they are in). Although we use animals in horrific ways, we don´t arbitrarily exterminate most of them. Wait, did I just say that? Maybe we do, but not the pretty ones! So, my prediction is we build them, they build themselves to a point where they leave us to wallow in our own filth on earth without so much as a goodbye, thanks a lot. Like ungrateful teenagers with hyper-intelligence.
  12. I actually engaged with some Jehovah's Witnesses who turned up on my door, on the condition that they could not use anything from the bible as evidence. They did okay for about half an hour before the quotes started. I apologised, and told them it was time to go.
  13. None of the couples I know quite closely have any problem with the fact that they both find other people attractive and will look (not overtly or threateningly). It would seem fairly naive to think that your partner has no interest in anybody else sexually. We have even all sat around together and done the old 'would you or wouldn't you' game with passers by. It seems the males have much lower standards, but there is certainly no jealousy involved in admitting the attraction!
  14. Surely from a narrative point of view it is meaningless to debate whether or not the totem will fall. When a writer makes something deliberately ambiguous like this he is making a specific point. It doesn't matter if he's still dreaming. The point, as mentioned above, is that he no longer cares if it's real or not. There is no correct answer to the question. If Nolan were to state one way or the other, it would just be an arbirtary decision.
  15. Yeah. I was sure it was so I spent, oh let's say about two minutes doing google searches to find that out. http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/CPRI/wabe99.html
  16. What I find strange is that Doug Bower and David Chorley admitted to faking crop circles in 1991, saying that they started in 1978. They even demonstrated how they did this on television, making a crop circle in about an hour or so. I remember watching that story and thinking, 'well that's the end of that', but of course it wasn't. It's a copy cat thing. People liked the idea and copied it, but it has been clearly demonstrated that it can be done in a relatively short amount of time, and with very complex shapes. This was two guys making a simple one in an hour. Imagine a few hours with five or six pranksters. Also, that one with the two lights forming the crop circle is clearly fake. The crop circle is already there and has been removed, and then it is revealed as the lens flare lights fly past. You can sort of see it before it starts to form, although it is hard, what with the terrible image quality. Why is it that people who are going out to try and film evidence of aliens always take such crap camera equipment? Honestly, a phone could film better pictures than most of these. Not to discount anything else (although I personally believe aliens exist, but not that they have ever visited earth or are even capable of it or anywhere nearby), but crop circles are definitely bunk.
  17. Okay. So the total mass is all that matters. Good to know.
  18. Let's suppose that negative mass exists and that it responds by being repulsed by other matter rather than attracted. So in our galaxy there is a lot more regular mass but there is also some negative mass. Again, a big supposition (and yes I realise that even if there had been, it would have been flung out into deep space long ago). Would the total gravitational effect of the galaxy be based on the positive mass minus the negative mass, and therefore the galaxy would still have an overall attractive quality, or if the negative mass were arranged in such a way as to block the gravitational 'waves' could it actually repulse other galaxies. So say a star is surrounded by a dyson sphere of negative mass, does that star have the gravitational effect minus the negative mass, or does the negative mass cancel it out completely?
  19. I'm aware that this question may not have any kind of meaningful answer, but I was looking for conceptual images of superstrings and the results are varied to the point of irrelevance. Of course it is difficult to make a two dimensional image of an entirely theoretical structure, but surely there must be some consensus. Some of them looked like ribbons wrapped around each other like an Escher sketch, and others were nothing more than neon squiggly lines. Aren't superstrings one dimensional? The ribbon would appear to the least likely in that case.
  20. You wouldn't happen to know any sources I could read up on in regards to this, would you?
  21. Skyhook, you seem to have a very all or nothing approach to this. Not just in terms of drugs all being the same generic 'immoral revenue' raisers. I don't consider myself so deep into this or a part of the drug culture. I haven't done any drugs besides alcohol (literally none, I take no prescription drugs or antibiotics) for probably about five years. I still support the decriminalisation of most drugs and making legal some others. You also seem to keep referring to 'you guys' as if everyone who disagrees is part of some organised counter-culture movement or something. Personally, my point was not that all drugs should be legal and are good or vice versa. It was mainly that imprisoning people simply for using certain substances is ineffective and is often framed as a moral issue when it really should not be.
  22. I chose to stay at an ashram out of curiosity more than anything else. And in the case of Amma's ashram it very much is run like a hostel, which is perhaps part of the problem. It makes so much money now (Amma also tours the world giving shows) that it maybe has lost sight of its original purpose. Visitors are not only welcomed, but you meet acolytes in surrounding cities who actually try and convince you to go there. Leaving is the far more difficult part.
  23. I have actually stayed in an Ashram in India run by a woman called Amma aka the hugging mama. That was by far the most awkward one, as it involved various meditation style events that they were desperate for us to attend, but we chose not to. It turned out of course, that the inclusion factor here was designed more to get donations and turn us into long-term residents who would work their fields in return for accomodation and spiritual enlightenment. They also held us passports the whole time we were there and made it VERY difficult to get them back when we told them we wished to leave. They also locked us in our compound (their word) at night, so if there was a fire, we would burn to death. I guess part of my discomfort also comes from the idea that by participating I am also somehow endorsing it. That's an extreme example with a borderline cult, but I get a similar feeling in more normal circumstances.
  24. Could these statistics not also be the result of the prominent scare campaign in the 50s and 60s in America about 'marijuana cigarettes' that is still going on now with talk of it being a 'gateway drug' and the like. How many people voted on a purely scientific basis and how many voted from a biased viewpoint on either side. ie. I want to get stoned legally or alternatively drugs are bad and illegal therefore legalising illegal drugs is bad....
  25. I like the idea that the universe could be described as a four dimensional fractal equation. A fractal is similar at all magnifications, and at first glance it would appear that our universe is not. But what we describe as the universe probably does not encompass the entirety of existence. It could be that our universe is one of many, and that the reason we can't see it is that we are not able to look at things from far enough away. Or close enough. Quantum particles popping into existence briefly could be far more than they seem when considering the smaller scale of the equation. I realise that analogies between the orbits of subatomic particles and interstellar objects don't hold up to scrutiny in terms of this, but perhaps as residents of our universe, the most we can see is our snapshot of the infinitely complex. It does seem to suggest that we can zoom in or out in either direction and continue to find complexity. This would also imply of course that everything is deterministic. Some people would dispute that, but I have no problem with that being the case. I am my brain, and my brain structure was determined without my input or consent. Therefore everything I think and do is a result of something that I did not consciously 'choose'. I may feel like I have free will, but do I really have the free will to be a different person. I can make a conscious effort to alter my behaviour, but even that effort is a pre-programmed part of who I am. The outside influences that may lead to such a change are also no more than predictable patterns. There's a very good reason I put this in speculations, but what do people think?
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