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Mr Skeptic

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  1. I think that the research is also consistent with greater distractibility. If you're busy worrying about how bad you have to pee you probably aren't so interested in the immediate rewards. I suppose this could be tested for by checking the attention of people who have to pee, or of offering the same $16 tomorrow or $30 in 35 days to someone playing a computer game.
  2. Also, academia often focuses on "interestingness" rather than profitability, at least in some circles. Profitability might be a useful addition or a way to improve your odds of getting funding, but otherwise trying to estimate profitability is wasting time you would be working on something interesting. Then again it's not like you can really know what the profitability of research would be, otherwise it would be less researchy and more developy.
  3. Religion is harmful from the perspectives of knowledge, of morality, and of unity. It robs people of the initiative to search for answers, by suggesting that they should turn toward their religious authority for them. From a scientific perspective, it means less people are trying to find out how things like weather, biological growth, the origin of life, medicine, etc. happened because they already "know" the answer is that God is in charge of that. This leads to reduced education in the sciences, and perhaps also to dangerously misinformed decisions, such as the use of prayer as a substitute for trying to solve difficult problems. From a moral perspective, it means people never question why they accept the morality that they do because they believe the answer was given to them by a god and who are they to question that. This leads to childlike moral systems harmful to society and sometimes also to the individual in question and their family, because the religious morality is based on societies that no longer exist. Specific examples are opposition to abortion which results in unwanted children which statistically are more likely to be poor, poorly educated, and criminal; this directly harms society and has no benefit for anyone. Another example is the expectation that people stay virgin until their wedding, which may have been reasonable when marriages happened in the teens and there was no birth control, but now result in shame, hasty weddings, and much suffering and frustration. This of course is a major problem of authoritarian morality - because the morality is handed down as specific rules, it cannot be adapted to changing circumstances. Because people are expected to accept the specific rules, they don't learn to deduce the moral rules for themselves as needed given the circumstances, and so are lost when new circumstances allow for moral decisions that the ancient rules haven't accounted for (eg IVF, cloning, genetic engineering, contraceptives) or the circumstances change. Furthermore, dependence on an authority for morality means people cannot justify their own morality and furthermore cannot understand how morality distinct from their own was derived. This means they cannot engage in proper moral discussions to discuss what would be morally best, instead stubbornly sticking to "what god commanded" instead of considering the combination of facts and moral axioms of themselves and their discussion partner and seeing if they can't lead to the same moral conclusion. Instead, they can only declare the other to be wrong, leading to intolerance and strife. Whereas realizing that morality must necessarily be based on unprovable axioms (ie that morality is arbitrary) could lead to more unity and definitely to better understanding of morals both their own and others'. As for unity, religion is a problem because it promotes intolerance toward others. The others are wrong because they believe a bunch of lies instead of the truth as written by the religion, and they are also wallowing in evil and perhaps even are preaching evil as if it were a good thing (because they can't accept alternative moral rules as being equal). This intolerance can manifest violently, but it can also manifest in a more "nurturing" manner in that the poor lost souls need to be told the truth that they are blind to, and saved from their evil ways. Of course, not all religion must be as described above. It's just that religion implicitly suggests authoritarianism. However, many religious figures have gone past authoritarianism and started preaching a more morally mature system. This has occurred in many religions and manifests as rules such as the golden rule. Because the golden rule is a single rule yet can be used to derive all the appropriate rules specific to any context, it will never be outdated, and also leads to the highest level of moral thinking, where one makes their own rules as needed in a given situation from unchanging axioms. I'd say get rid of all the laws and the prophets, and focus on this one rule and you can't go far wrong. Because if the other things are inconsistent with this rule, then I'd say the other parts of scripture are wrong or misinterpreted. As for the "loving god" part, I think it best to interpret that as a respect for one's principles above all else (since I don't believe in God having an actual existence), much like we ask our officials to above all protect our constitution. (However the Golden Rule is incomplete because it does not give a method to determine what "loving" means. For example holding happiness as a main value might lead to hedonistic thinking, or holding chastity as an important value might lead to suffering and frustration "for their own good". To make the complete moral system might require adding specific values as axioms that those things are good for people even if they don't want it. And no, I cannot tell you what those values would be.)
  4. To be honest, I wouldn't have accepted a single paper in a peer reviewed journal as sufficient evidence for the claim anyhow. Let's wait and see what these scientists conclude, or if this just fades into nothingness.
  5. The one in which homosexuals are the most reproductively successful? Homosexuals have quite frequently gotten married and raised a family. Not in a million years. Probably longer. Homosexuality has been observed in various distinct species and I think it would be fair to assume that it existed in their common ancestor as well. I suspect homosexuality has been around for hundreds of millions of years at least. If it hasn't vanished in that time there's no reason to believe it will anytime soon.
  6. Yes, it is possible. It is easier to target drugs across wide evolutionary gaps, like we do with antibacterials, antifungals, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Our cancer drugs are harder, because we're trying to target our own cells but with some semi-random changes, which is really hard. It is in principle possible to target poisons to specific genes, which is one of the way we target cancer drugs. It is also possible to target drugs to certain DNA. However, I can't think of any way we could do that without having the poison be incredibly fragile and also have to be injected directly into the bloodstream. To target to a specific DNA, you'd need to include the matching DNA (or RNA perhaps), with a mechanism to activate the poison when the match is found. This essentially means you'd have to make the poison out of protein and DNA, and that means that it would rapidly be degraded by just about anything. I suppose that it might be possible to make some other kind of molecule to match specific DNA but I don't know how that could be done even in principle. If you want to know about targeted poisons, check out our latest progress on cancer cells. That's a much more appropriate and profitable use for targeted poisons.
  7. Gas at a low pressure, and ideally one of the sort used in the neon lights. Helium is a good choice. If the gas were to dense/at too high a pressure, the electron beam would not be able to penetrate very far into it because all the beam would hit gas molecules.
  8. Yes, I've heard suggestions that perhaps some universes can spawn others, and furthermore that they can pass on some traits, and that therefore the sort of universes that can best replicate like this would be more common. As far as I know it is just speculation upon speculation. It makes sense, but there's no evidence for it (nor against it).
  9. I think it is fair to say that you've been hearing only one side of the story, and from people who are quite frequently willing to lie, mislead, and hide the facts (this can be seen in the difficulty of finding a primary reference for the claims made). If these people have nothing to hide, why are they hiding all the evidence they claim to have and wanting you to take them at their word, and substituting data with rhetoric? Get yourself the other side of the story: go here and search for the terms in the creationist claim: http://talkorigins.o...ins/search.html . There you will find a response to the claims, and probably also some primary references so you can verify that what they say is true. Who do you usually believe: the one eagerly pointing you toward the data or the one that hides the data and makes claims you can't verify? Even better, if the creationists aren't lying bastards then why are they focusing on pretending there are holes in evolution theory as if that verified their own theory, when they should be showing data in support of their theory? For example, those who claim to believe the biblical flood story don't then go on to do a genetic analysis on species showing a global genetic bottleneck occurring 4000 years ago to a population size of 2 (and 14 for the clean animals and birds), as per the flood story? This would prove their claims to absurd levels of certainty, yet the ignore supporting their own claims and substitute trying to find flaws in their opponents'. Why? Because they know damn well it would disprove their claims. Irrelevant. A lack of life would simply make evolution be trivially true (it would explain all life, if only because there is no life). This always happens for any conditional when the premise is false. Anyhow, there is life so no need to worry about that. (If you want to know about where life came from, the theory you are looking for is abiogenesis, which is entirely separate from evolution). This just shows your ignorance of the theory you're critiquing. What part of evolutionary theory are you saying requires all species to undergo large phenotypical mutations? That's right, none. In addition to what ydoaps said, irreducible complexity is an argument from ignorance (I don't know how therefore it's impossible), which only has meaning when the chance of ignorance is slim (ie, it's only a valid argument when you are fairly certain you know all possible ways for the complex organ to be formed and can rule them all out) Why should convergent evolution be unexpected? Why are you essentially claiming that must there be infinitely many good solutions to a problem? If a trait can evolve once, how does that make it impossible for it to evolve a second time? What you are claiming is nonsensical. Convergent evolution is predicted by the theory of evolution in at least a few circumstances, such as fish and dolphins having similar shape via convergent evolution and not by homology like it would usually happen. I'd say convergent evolution proves evolution is true and disproves intelligent design. As above, convergent evolution is predicted by evolution. But if an intelligent designer solved a problem once, why would he go and re-solve the same problem in a similar way when he already has a solution? Especially when that creator was shown to be pathetically unimaginative given the multiple homologies also observed? You are saying it is impossible to gradually create something that cannot be gradually created. That may be true, but you have not yet offered an example of anything which cannot be gradually created, and it is just another rephrasing of your irreducible complexity argument from ignorance.
  10. Have you considered getting a second-hand microscope? Sometimes schools or labs have to get rid of their old ones and sell them at a discount.
  11. I think it's perfectly normal and probably healthy. The same has occurred for me. Odds are you probably have a pleasant or productive life and aren't bored too much or time would seem to take forever to pass. As to why you aren't excited about presents day anymore, odds are you can now buy anything anyone would give you several times over, and it's probably not as exciting an experience as it was the first dozen times. If you want more excitement, seek new experiences because doing the old things yet again won't be as exciting as the first few times you did them.
  12. An electrode is basically just the end of an electric wire. You can just use the plain end of a wire as an electrode but usually there's a benefit to using a fancier material or special shape. The direction of current determines which is the cathode and which is the anode. People sometimes talk about the charge as determining that, but then it is opposite if it is a battery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrode An electrode in an electrochemical cell is referred to as either an anode or a cathode (words that were also coined by Faraday). The anode is now defined as the electrode at which electrons leave the cell and oxidation occurs, and the cathode as the electrode at which electrons enter the cell and reduction occurs. Each electrode may become either the anode or the cathode depending on the direction of current through the cell. As for the "cathode ray", it is a beam of electrons. Also, the old televisions and computer monitors use a cathode ray to light up the screen (via energizing phosphorescent molecules), so odds are you've owned a cathode ray.
  13. Maybe you should try spraying some of that pepper spray in your face, sometime when you don't need to do anything for a few hours. I think you'll find it plenty disabling and painful as well. (I've never been pepper sprayed but I do have plenty of experience with hot peppers which have the same active ingredient but very much diluted). In any case, that way you have an idea of how effective your weapon/deterrent is.
  14. Your "obvious logic" is nothing but a strawman. A rebellion is not when one person disagrees with the government, it is when a large portion of the population disagrees with the government and stops obeying them. What government claims the right to use lethal force against ~50% of its population should they join together to oppose the government? That would be the antithesis of almost every current government, since almost all of them grant the right to their people to choose their government, either explicitly by granting them the right to revolution: right_of_revolution or by actually implementing that right by holding elections so the people may periodically depose the old government and choose a new one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_government Feel free to either show a specific government that claims the right to kill off half its population should they rebel, or to show logically why that would be in any way beneficial. No, the controversy happens when two states disagree on something and choose to act on that disagreement. When there is conflict between the sovereign wishes of two states, which must submit to the other's wishes and why? When the Libyan government threatens the nations of the international community, why should they not be allowed to respond?
  15. Popular opinion of jury/judges, popular opinion of intellectuals, popular opinion of leaders, popular opinion of religious people. Nope, it still looks like popular opinion to me. Absent a logical proof of your morals/values without any premises to go from (hint: that's not possible to do), morals and values are nothing more than popular opinion. Put up or shut up. You're repeated that nonsense multiple times already and ignored all the evidence I've offered to the contrary. You've yet to offer any support for that disproven claim, yet persist in repeating it. Nor have you made a case as to why sovereign states must bow down to Libya and accommodate it's every desire, when the citizens on who's behalf they're acting on view Gaddafi's government with disgust.
  16. Unfortunately, water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. In cloud form it increases earth's albedo and cools the earth (at least during the day, at night it is like a blanket). Perhaps it might also be instructive to consider that some people think that climatologists don't know about clouds.
  17. A lot of oil is under pressure and will come out without being pumped. From your vague description your invention sounds like something that can't be built because it is based on a misunderstanding of how physics works. Or maybe you are bad at explaining. If you explain in more detail how your machine is supposed to work, we can tell you which. In the meantime, consider also that your machine will require a lot more power than our current methods if only because it looks like you will need very wide pipes and drilling takes a lot of energy.
  18. According to my ecology teacher, one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do is go shoot yourself some deer and eat them. We currently have an excessive deer population, and as a source of meat they are far superior than cutting down forests for pasture or feeding crops to livestock. Also ecologically friendly, are livestock that are not fed crops (so long as we're not cutting down forest for pasture), or fed organic scraps (such as pigs fed restaurant waste or livestock fed the inedible parts of food crops). However, when we grow crops only to then feed them to animals, which we do plenty of, that is where a lot of the waste happens. As for preventing animals from killing other animals, first we need to find an alternate way to keep their populations in check and to kill off their weak. You wouldn't want the animals getting all sickly like what happened to the deer population when wolves were eliminated now would you?
  19. No, you didn't. From the sounds of it, you just don't understand the basics of physics. Or if you do understand physics, you're really bad at explaining your idea. Oil companies already pump water down wells to push the oil up, and don't even need a silly chain with buckets to do that. And if your idea is not essentially the same thing plus extra chain and buckets, you don't understand physics. If you build a model, it won't work.
  20. I'm not aware of anyone making " the assumption that for a state to have legitimacy under international law it must be democratic". That would in fact be a violation of what I said, since you would be forcing a system of government on a people without their consent. Even though almost all countries now choose their leaders via elections, there's no reason a people should not accept the rule of a monarch, especially a good monarch. I think a benevolent autocracy would be superior to a democracy because it would not need all the political bullshit that democracies need, but the trouble is that the autocratic system does not in any way guarantee a decent ruler whereas a functional democracy limits the damage any poor ruler could do. States can invade any other state for whatever reason they damn well please (this is part of their sovereignty). If the international community chooses to interfere with that, they can only directly interfere by violating the sovereignty of one or both of those states. If something disgusts the world community to the point they feel an invasion is justified, the countries' leaders who speak on behalf of said peoples are likely to formally encourage said invasion. This is an arbitrary choice between supporting of the inherent rights we consider people to have and the sovereignty of a nation, and there really isn't any way to decide other than by popular opinion.
  21. Right, but if the box is hollow and more than 2 units wide, you'd have a volume that is hollow on the inside. (but my guess would be that the box should be solid)
  22. Use photons, or part of the universe that extends beyond our observable universe, to make up for the missing 10^20 bits.
  23. First of all, it matters somewhat if the box is considered solid, or whether your roundish object might be hollow. It also matters how you want to answer the problem, which you could do as a formula or using set notation. And if you're using sets, can you use infinitely many simpler sets or would you want to limit yourself to fewer but slightly more complicated sets?
  24. Obviously one of your premises are wrong. You're treating individuality as something that someone 100% has or 100% doesn't have. While we like to do that for our human attributes, it always causes contradictions because there is no point that we can say the switch occurred. The same goes for consciousness, "having a spirit", becoming a "person", or any other such attributes that we pretend are binary attributes.
  25. Sure. All you have to do is blank a large enough medium (instantly writing all the zeros), and then put the 1 at the proper location. You'd need a medium that can hold that number of zeros though.
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