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AL

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About AL

  • Rank
    Molecule
  • Birthday 11/27/1980

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    CA, USA
  1. I don't deny that genetics very plausibly plays a role, but we do not have any studies that allow us to claim we know if genetics is what separates the best of the best athletes from those below them. The "gold standard" would be to take two genetically distinct people, raise them from childhood to adulthood in the exact same environment, feed them the exact same diet, and give them the exact same training regimen. For obvious practical (and ethical) reasons, this cannot be done. So as of now, there is simply no way to defend the statement "to get to olympic standard is beyond the vast bulk of humanity" for genetic reasons. However, it might be feasible to do such an experiment on athleticism in animals. If you are a kinesiologist, this might be a research area of interest for you.
  2. That doesn't really refute what he said though. If 100 athletes train, and only one makes it to a given standard, you cannot rule out that the other 99 simply didn't train as hard as the one, or else other factors got in the way (maybe athletes have different diets/nutrition, or maybe one athlete got sick during a crucial qualifying round, etc.), which you necessarily must do if you want to say the one got ahead by his/her genes.
  3. The question was why is it that 20% of Americans cannot locate America on a map? She started off her response with this (verbatim quote): "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps...." So she can't really say she didn't understand the question. From that answer alone, it's implicit she understood the question fully. She just gave a really sad answer to it.
  4. AL

    Arrogant Atheists

    Live and let live is one of those mantras that sound nice in principle, but simply cannot work in practice. If you live in a democracy, then people with different beliefs from your own will vote, and this will necessarily have an impact on you and your lifestyle. I'm not suggesting that anyone with a different belief than me have their right to vote be taken away; rather there is a reason why we have freedom of speech, to encourage discussion/debate on these things so that perhaps others can come to see things your way, or you will come to see things their way, or otherwise reach some kind of compromise/consensus. The problem is, a lot of people are rendered uncomfortable by discussion. They view it as preaching/proselytizing/intolerance or whatever label they can give it to make it taboo, and now it's politically difficult to raise very basic issues, like here in the US, the Constitutionality of "Faith-based initiatives," and things of that sort. Anyone who raises issue with that sort of thing will likely be demonized the way Newdow was for taking issue with the Pledge of Allegiance.
  5. Perhaps because "If I can't see it or measure it, it doesn't exist" is an oversimplification and/or misrepresentation of the skeptics' position?
  6. Well of course if you disagree with someone, then implicitly and necessarily, you think they are wrong, but that isn't intolerance. I'm not generalizing religious folk and new agers, but there are clearly people out there that are so demonstrably wrong they need to be criticized. To what extent should we look the other way for the sake of "social cohesion?" There are dozens and dozens of videos of Sylvia Browne contradicting herself horrendously, and yet this woman is still raking in millions with bestselling books and hundred dollar phone calls to talk to the dead. Then you have faith healers like Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff and John of God -- they take money from the terminally ill, claiming to have healed them, and of course the terminally ill die anyway, and thus are no longer around to sue these clowns (and even if they were still around, cultural taboos would discourage them from suing -- after all, you wouldn't sue a servant of God, would you?). And then when Randi or Dawkins or other noted skeptics have the gall to say something to try and stop these atrocities, they get labeled as intolerant bigots (watch John of God's classic crocodile tears video when a newsreporter asks him if he's for real or a scam..."I'm trying to help people and save their lives, and these horrible skeptics say these things about me? Boo-hoo." [obviously not a verbatim quote, but essentially his defense] :-(). I know it's a touchy issue to criticize these things because a lot of people are very sensitive to it, but at the same time, I'd have to say it's morally reprehensible to just let these people get away with it.
  7. What makes you think his position is absolute and in concrete? Asking the astrologers to provide evidence for astrology is not closed-mindedness. In fact, it's quite the opposite, because asking someone to make a case for their claim is saying you're willing to hear what they have to say. If Dawkins were truly closed-minded, his video would've been telling the astrologer to shutup rather than asking the guy to subject the claims to the test he did. How is he spreading hatred? Disagreement is hate? Please define hate then. Dawkins is not asking for anyone to be thrown in prison or to be persecuted, threatened, or killed. Let's not exaggerate here. Again, what's black/white or absolutist about asking people to make a case for their claims? I might add that much of your objection to Dawkins was just vague generalizing. Was there something specific that Dawkins said in the video that you'd like to address?
  8. Oh, I wasn't suggesting we should give out answers to homework. I was just joking about the OP's name being more indicative of non-learning than the fact that an answer had been given.
  9. Well, the OP's handle is "ih8science," so s/he is kind of hopeless anyway.
  10. It's not that simple to predict if it will be harmful. All other things equal, it's probably not good to have excess ROS, but this is not an all other things equal scenario. Interesting paper, though.
  11. lucaspa, I'm curious you invoked Gould's NOMA a few times to say that science can have no say whatsoever on matters of God, but then you say that there is in fact evidence of God in the form of personal experiences / revelations, etc. But wouldn't fields of science such as psychology, neuroscience etc. have a say in such things?
  12. Of course we can predict weather patterns, that's why we have weather forecasts. Sometimes they get it wrong, but the forecasts beat random guessing enough to be significant. You cannot assume that just because day-to-day weather forecasts are highly variable that this makes forecasts of long-term trends highly variable. Sometimes large scale and long term phenomena are easier to predict than their small scale and short term counterparts. Example: you cannot easily predict in what direction a dust-eddy in your backyard will rotate, but the direction of rotation of hurricanes is easy to predict.
  13. It's hard to believe there are people out there that don't accept this, but I think pride might be an issue. When you've championed the idea that HIV is harmless for so long, it becomes hard to swallow your pride and admit you were wrong, especially when your being wrong caused someone to die.
  14. Which OS are you running? I have WinXP Home, and I don't have that problem. My music is sorted alphabetically by file name, which is what I told it to do. Just right click on windows explorer window, select "arrange icons by -> modified."
  15. They could get it past the first amendment through an obscenity or hate crime loophole.
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