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links from the past 2 months

I was travelling almost all of August, and several weeks behind on even reading internet stuff, so I skipped a month of link posting. But to make up for it, here are a lot of links (now that I'm finally caught up!) I still plan on getting to my "materialist spirituality part 3" at some point; not sure when.

How incredibly poor people were 100 years ago by today's continually increasing standards:
"A quarter of American households in 1900 had boarders or lodgers (compared to two percent today). Half of American households in 1900 had fewer rooms than persons (compared to five percent today). A quarter of American households in 1900 had running water (compared to ninety-nine percent today). An eighth of American households in 1900 had flush toilets (compared to ninety-eight percent today). Less than a fifth had refrigerators, less than one-twelfth had gas or electric lights, less than one-twentieth had telephones or washing machines, and of course there were no radios or televisions or vacuum cleaners or central heating, to list just those major appliances that have greater than ninety percent coverage today."

The US has 9 guns for every 10 people. (So the only question is... how do we arm the other 1? [see Lord of War quotes for the global version of this quote]):

Miss Teen South Carolina discusses Why Americans can't locate US on a map:
(remix with Bush:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WbOUwbwr2w&NR=1

Video of self-aware starfish robot:

Stephen Colbert interviews Bjorn Lomborg on Global Warming (who shares my current opinions on it):

Marlo Lewis Testifies before Congress on Global Warming (who also appears to have pretty similar opinions):

Is there anything good about men?

President Bush makes fun of himself (my respect for him increases significantly due to realizing he at least has a sense of humor about his failure as a President... who knows, maybe he'll make it as a comedian?):

Biff's Questions song:

Slob Evolution (parody of Dove Evolution commercial)
Dove Evolution (distorted perception of models):

Ok, I don't put too much stock in IQ (the idea that you can measure intelligence with a single number) but I do find all 3 of the following links interesting enough to repost...

Data on the inverse relationship between IQ and religion (-0.886 correlation):

Low Androgen sensitivity - IQ link?

Intercourse significantly lessened among high-IQ individuals:

Rapture of the Nerds, Not:

Two exceptionally good atheist rants by the same guy:

Music and Life - Alan Watts:

Pink/blue preference and gender constructs:
From the above link, a clipping from Ladies Home journal, 1918, back when pink was apparently considered a "boy" color:

Stringscape (a good physicsworld article on string theory)::

"When Will AI Surpass Human Intelligence?" poll by Bruce Klein (my vote for 2030-2050 is included in the poll... I deem peak probability to be around 2045):

Why myths persist, and how best to fight them:

Peter Woit pulls a 180 and goes back on his usual "Not Even Wrong" schtick... I find the irony of this statement coming from Mr. Not Even Wrong much more amusing than I should. While I disagree with his statement, I'm pleased he finally admits his real sentiments behind the motto/facade he uses to sell his book/blog:
"The problem with string theory is not too much mathematics and a lack of effort towards making connection to real world experiments, but that it is a wrong idea about unification, and thus cannot ever explain the standard model or predict what lies beyond it." - Peter Woit

Radical Honesty:

Viewing the world in ascii:

Real "x-ray" vision goggles:

A movie projector in your cellphone (coming soon!):

Are We Predisposed to Political Beliefs? (biological basis for political leanings):

UCSC is the "Worst School in America" (for leftist indoctrination) according to David Horowitz. Based on what I've seen in my 4 years here, I would definitely agree there is an enormous leftist bias in both students and professors, although I have mixed feelings about whether that's a bad thing, whether it really means indoctrination is going on, and whether it's ethical to keep using taxpayer money to support classes designed around a political agenda:

Magic Basket Mirror:

San Fransisco in Jello:

Patton Oswalt on Conan (Physics for Poets, and other hilarious topics):

Cadbury gorilla advertisement:

Real Age calculator (mine is 21 according to this):


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
Re. the imaginary link between IQ and religiosity, how many genius theists might disagree? Do you think atheism to have so mightily conquered the world of intelligentia that one couldn't stroll out a list of renowned philosophers, physicists, and mathematicians to contradict the "trend"?

Re. the poverty of 100 years ago, the article you reference relies solely on things. It aims at a quantitative analysis of things. Things, as a certain philosopher reminded us, have no reciprocal subjectivity. Focusing on the things seems about as relevant as focusing on the polish on a hooker's toe.

Do things make people richer? Does access to medical care and, by extension, having a longer lifespan, make one richer?

Sep. 22nd, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)

how many genius theists might disagree?

Theism is extremely uncommon among geniuses, so there are very few who could even qualify as such. However, even among those tiny few, I doubt they would disagree with the fact that they are a rare breed. So basically, none.

Do you think atheism to have so mightily conquered the world of intelligentia that one couldn't stroll out a list of renowned philosophers, physicists, and mathematicians to contradict the "trend"?

It has not conquered the world of intelligensia so thorougly that you can't find such a list. However, you seem to think that finding such a list "contradicts" the trend, which is silly as you cannot "contradict" a trend by showing that it's a trend rather than an absolute rule. 93% of reknowned scientists are atheist or agnostic (slightly higher for physicists, biologists, or philosophers), which means that yes, you could find your list of nearly 7% who for whatever reason hold a minority opinion. That doesn't contradict any trend, or any statement I've made or linked to. You could find even more non-reknowned scientists who a theists, and that doesn't contradict anything I've said either.

Do things make people richer?

Depends if people have a use for them. If you're talking about heating your home or being able to keep food longer before it rots, yes, of course... if you're talking about some random trinket that doesn't improve the quality of your life, no.

Does access to medical care and, by extension, having a longer lifespan, make one richer?

Yes. Are you saying we have less access to medical care now than 100 years ago?
Sep. 22nd, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)

93% of reknowned scientists are atheist or agnostic

By comparison, less than 1% of the prison population in the US is atheist or agnostic, where illiteracy and low-IQ rates are the highest. The same figure for the general US population is 4%, higher than the prison population but still much lower than the scientific community.
Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
Actually, make that 10% for "general US population", I was going based on this 2007 poll:
and I got 4% by adding together "Yes" and "I Don't Know" for the response to the question "Would You Call Yourself an Atheist" however I forgot that there are many agnostics and other non-religious people who would answer No even though they do not actively believe in God. So looking at the other question, it's 10% if you include all non-religious, agnostics, and atheists.

The 93% figure among National Academy of Scientists comes from an article in Nature which I've read, and the less than 1% for prisons (0.21% atheist, I'm not sure how many total non-believers) comes from the Federal Prison Bureau (although through an indirect source).
Sep. 22nd, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
The Newsweek poll didn't really impress me. Strange how Newsweek [and other propagandizers'] polls get used to support the dominance of atheism as well as to support the ubiquity of American popular support for an illegal war... or the lack of support for Ron Paul...

I'll look for the NAS figures in Nature.

Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
The Newsweek poll isn't intended to "impress", that was just a baseline for comparing the extremely low concentration of atheists & agnostics in prison versus the relatively high concentration of atheists & agnostics among respected scientists. I would have guessed it was more like 2 or 3% and was surprised to see 10%, although perhaps that's because I grew up in the suburbs and went to college in the deep south (Georgia) where religious fundamentalism is rampant. At any rate, a factor of 2 or 3 does not make a huge difference.

Here is a summary of the NAS survey results published in Nature:

Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
Healthy dose of hubris before bed to warm the stockings!

Wasn't that Pythagoras guy something of a mystic? And Einstein? You seem to equate theism with Christian anthropomorphization (wtf is that linguistic monstrosity?!). We have more than 9,000 distinct religions currently being practiced, each with a distinct experience of bliss.

I think you've significantly over-estimated the dominance of atheism among intelligentia. I'll come back to this topic later.

As for medical care, I'm saying longevity ≠ quality, and certainly ≠ rich.

Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:39 am (UTC)

You seem to equate theism with Christian anthropomorphization (wtf is that linguistic monstrosity?!)

I'm not equating theism with anything, if we were just talking about Christianity the numbers would be much different. However, the original claim in what I linked to (and one which is backed up well with the data) is that the strength of religious belief of people in the world is inversely correlated with IQ. Hence, those with the lowest IQ have the most dogmatic, anthropomorphized types of beliefs (for instance, Christianity) whereas those of higher IQ tend to go for things like esoterism, deism, agnosticism, or atheism. You're the one who tried to steer the discussion more towards "theism" rather than "strength of religious conviction" which was already somewhat off topic.
Sep. 22nd, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying.

Christianity and dogmatic religions were never intended "intelligent people". Indeed, within the writings of the early Christian presbyters they explicitly state that their teachings should never be heard by "people of letters" and they were only meant for the "ignorant rabble".

I don't have any problem agreeing that many low IQ people subscribe to fundamentalisms (of various flavors). I also don't have any problem agreeing that many high IQ people subscribe to fundamentalisms (of various flavors).

It does seem reasonable enough that more complex systems would appeal to more complex thinkers, but I'm not convinced that higher IQs lead to lower fundamentalism.

It was not my intention to "steer the discussion" off topic.

Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions. A lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein, 1954

Yes, Einstein was somewhat of a deist in that he occasionally used the word "God" in a metaphorical/poetic sense. However, he lived in a time where there was a lot more political pressure to do so. If he were alive today, I'm sure he would be completely fine calling himself an atheist, as are most leading physicists today.

The further in time you go back, of course, the more theist philosophers and scientists you will find. As the evidence has grown stronger and stronger, the beliefs have shifted quite noticably.
Sep. 22nd, 2007 04:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, some systems have a concept of a personal God. Some systems have a concept of an impersonal God. Those 9,000+ different religious systems (with another 2+ being formed every day apparently) have a great deal of diversity.

So saying that Einstein didn't accept the idea of a personal God has very little correspondence to his spirituality. As near as I can piece together from documentary evidence, he didn't accept atheism or materialism.

The further in time you go back, of course, the more theist philosophers and scientists you will find. As the evidence has grown stronger and stronger, the beliefs have shifted quite noticably.

I'm sure beliefs have shifted quite noticeably, but then fools generally suffer beliefs anyway, so what difference that makes I'm not sure. People throughout history have believed stupid things - including modern atheists.

I'm going to ruminate a bit on the topic you seem most interested in - IQs, fundamentalism and religious/spiritual observation. I don't discount the plausibility of the prejudice, because it would rely so heavily on incomplete information. Many of the smartest atheists I've met didn't have a lick of wisdom. Many of the wisest people I've met didn't have high IQs, but seemed significantly smarter than many of the atheists.

It seems like you have drawn a dichotomy between those who follow the path of wisdom and those who follow the path of knowledge, a perennial philosophic conundrum.

Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)

It seems like you have drawn a dichotomy between those who follow the path of wisdom and those who follow the path of knowledge, a perennial philosophic conundrum.

Above you contrasted wisdom with IQ... this makes sense to me as wisdom generally refers to accumulated knowledge, whereas IQ is intended to be more a measure of innate intelligence (a potential that doesn't have to be realized). Admittedly, I don't think IQ does the best job of measuring this potential. However, in the line I've quoted above you're now contrasting wisdom with knowledge, which I would have assumed are synonyms by definition. Is there another sense in which you're using "widsom" that I'm not aware of?
Sep. 23rd, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
Another interesting tangent!

Traditionally, the path of knowledge typified the accumulation of sensory stimuli, the here and now micro-self, ego and self. We can transmit knowledge with words. Knowledge has logos.

Traditionally, the path of wisdom typified the virtuous hero, recommended an entirely different relationship with sensory stimuli [the physical senses were seen as deceptive], the macro-self and integration. We cannot transmit wisdom with words. It has no logos. Wisdom only comes through gnosis.

Some really interesting philosophy has been written on this topic.

Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
I see... that's quite intriguing. Your description actually does remind me a lot of a guy I know, K. I remember thinking he had some kind of "deep wisdom" that I didn't understand or know how to quantify. But that's pretty close to how I would say it... it's probably something he would have no idea how to put into words, which makes it quite different from the "knowledge" I have. I do think this is one of the things that has recently attracted me to spiritual stuff. I do think there may be something to the idea that you can't put all wisdom into words... at least, within the span of a typical human lifetime.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 05:32 am (UTC)
Many say that you can't describe the ineffable, but at this point I'm more inclined to say that you can describe the ineffable, but you can never describe it completely. But the accurate process of describing it requires a union between logos and gnosis. Without gnosis, the logos never gets purified.

Have you read any literature from the Integral Movement?

Sep. 22nd, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
Real Age 9.9
Sep. 22nd, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Real Age 9.9
lol! They should have given you a lollipop at the end, just for being such a sport and taking the quiz =)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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