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Comments

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Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

Epeeist Re:US-centric Slashdot misses much of the point: (649 comments)

This came out of a row in Britain over an investigation into schools in Birmingham. Unlike the US situation, what brought this about was a charge that Muslims were trying to take over schools in Birmingham and alter the lessons to support Islamic Ideals.

Yes, this is largely a damage limitation exercise in order to look as though Gove is actually in charge of things. In actuality he is the worst secretary of education for a very long time.

about a month and a half ago
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Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

Epeeist Re:Doesn't solve anything, pure politics (649 comments)

Politicians interjecting themselves into what subjects teachers are allowed to introduce in the classroom and how such subjects must be discussed does _nothing_ to produce an educated population.

The syllabus in the UK is largely developed by subject specialists, not politicians. Having said that Michael Gove, the current secretary of state for education has attempted to put his imprimatur on one or two subjects, particularly English. He has essentially removed any books from the syllabus not written in Britain (Of Mice and Men has been removed for example), his interference has been treated with derision by those with some knowledge of the subject.

The other thing he is famous (infamous?) for is distributing a signed copy of the King James bible to every school in England and Wales. Not for nothing is his nickname Pob.

about a month and a half ago
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Canadian Government Trucking Generations of Scientific Data To the Dump

Epeeist Re:He who fails to learn from history... (209 comments)

... is doomed to repeat it.

A far better quotation is:

Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people.

about 7 months ago
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New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution

Epeeist Poor summary (1010 comments)

There are (at least) three positions a person can hold regarding God's existence:

1. "I believe that God exists" (aka religion) 2. "I believe that God does not exist" (aka atheism)

This is extremely restrictive in that it frames things in terms of a single god and only in belief. The more common atheist position is:

2b. I lack belief in the existence of gods.

While your 1. hides the existence of the asymmetry between theism and atheism, every theist I have ever come across believes in a single god or particular pantheon of gods and either lacks belief in the existence of other gods, actively disbelieves in them or thinks they are a misattribution of the god(s) that he worships.

3. "I hold no beliefs concerning either the existence or the non-existence of God" (aka agnosticism)

Is a misunderstanding of what agnosticism is. Theism and a-theism (not the privative alpha) are about belief, gnosticism and a-gnosticism are about knowledge. It is perfectly possible to lack belief in god(s), i.e. be an atheist while at the same time not being certain that god(s) do not exist, i.e. agnostic.

about 7 months ago
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Open Source 'Wasn't Available' Two Years Ago, Says UK Gov't IT Project Chief

Epeeist The department is run by the archetypal politician (113 comments)

The DWP is run by a politician, Ian Duncan Smith, to whom the aphorism "How can you tell a politician is lying? His mouth moves" applies in spades. He is also not very bright as well as being incompetent. The government of which he is a member is one of the most ideological we have had in decades and cares little about actual evidence for the policies.

about 8 months ago
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ISPs To Censor Porn By Default In the UK By 2014

Epeeist Re:Join the Open Rights Group (310 comments)

Actually, Claire Perry is pretty much a laughing stock even inside her own party.

As are several others including the minister for Health (who believes in homoeopathy) and the minister for work and pensions (who faked his own CV) and the minister for local government (who looks as though he has eaten his way through the output of a pie factory). But all of the ministers in this government simply ignore any evidence which runs counter to their ideology.

about a year ago
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World's Biggest 'Agile' Software Project Close To Failure

Epeeist Re:Simple formula (349 comments)

Government department + software project = total failure. .

I would love to know how cheaply this same project could be done. Probably by one person. Probably a $10,000 project with the final project size 100 times smaller, run 100 times faster, 100 times more accurate. [That is what I achieved after a payroll application they tried to force on our dept. was discarded and we rolled our own.]

Not a real biggie, just a replacement for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit for the whole of the UK population. I mean how hard can it be? Given your obvious talents I am sure you could knock something together using a few Excel macros by next Tuesday.

One of the things about this is that it is being driven by an ideologue who doesn't give a toss about evidence, not quite the person who thinks all government sponsored software development but pretty close.

about a year ago
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Margaret Thatcher Dies At 87

Epeeist Re:Even in death, she is divisive (539 comments)

As an outsider, it isn't fair for me to comment on her domestic policy. For the US, the 80's seemed decadent for the upwardly mobile segment of the population while the middle class waited for the benefits to trickle down as their economic security was threatened or eliminated. I'm assume the UK experience was similar with the upwardly mobile taking advantage of the deregulated markets and the middle class feeling the pressure from the lack of job security or outright job loss.

My wife's relatives come from the Barnsley area of West Yorkshire, mine from around Castleford in the same county. Thatcher's policies were a disaster for these and many other areas of the country outside of the London metropolitan region. They were directly responsible for the increase in unemployment from around 1.5 million to 3.5 million and the loss of jobs for a generation.

Look at the reports in the press and the broadcast media, notice how few come from the North of England, Wales or Scotland.

about a year ago
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UK Bloggers Could Face Libel Fines Unless Registered As Press

Epeeist Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (394 comments)

Besides, once this law is entrenched, removing any such limitations will be trivial.

Except if you read the legislation it will take a 2/3 majority in both houses of parliament to change the law.

about a year ago
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New Pope Selected

Epeeist Re:New boss, same as the old boss. (915 comments)

There were replies to this above. JPII was actually quite progressive, as far as Popes go. Judging his progressiveness based solely on the way the church has handled homosexuality or contraception is quite a narrow view. Consider that popes before JPII didn't venture outside the Vatican very often, didn't address the faithful in their own language and didn't so openly help bring about the fall of the most dangerous and destructive evil empire in history (USSR: 30M+ intentionally starved citizens + countless political murders hell-bent on eliminating the thinking classes).

You can actually provide a causal warrant to show that he openly helped bring down the USSR? Impressive.

The guy had more important things on his mind, like saving the friggin' world, where he had some ground-breaking achievements. You want to judge JPII? You must be out of your mind.

Again, I presume you can justify this. Its an assertion I have seen a number of times, but I have never seen anything that would count as justification. As for "judging" him, this is the wrong word. "Criticising" would be better.

about a year ago
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New Pope Selected

Epeeist New boss, same as the old boss. (915 comments)

So another geriatric ultra-conservative in exactly the same mould as Benedict and John-Paul II. Cynics might say he has been elected in an attempt to halt the decline in Catholicism in Latin America, one of the sects most important regions. Otherwise the only place in the world it would seem to be growing is Africa. How relevant is it in the developed world? What percentage of Catholics actually attend mass each week? How many Catholics solely practice "natural" birth control methods or have issues with gay marriage? Oh, and interesting to see that this supposed bastion of morality has no problem, again, with someone who has cosied up to a fascist regime.

about a year ago
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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day

Epeeist Ah, the Torygraph (1313 comments)

The only newspaper in the UK with a right wing bridge column. Noted for its trenchant attitude to the EU, the ECHR and its science-savvy journalists. (The latter is meant as sarcasm by the way).

about a year and a half ago
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Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design

Epeeist Behe (813 comments)

Isn't this the tactic the Behe tried in the Dover-Kitzmiller trial? At which it was pointed out that his definition of science was so broad that it would have included astrology as a science. Perhaps this is what needs to happen here, someone needs to show what the consequences of the legislation will be, besides yet another court case and people pointing and laughing.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

Epeeist Re:all sides (763 comments)

Perhaps "all sides" means diligently pointing out flaws in the theory where behavior is observed but not adequately understood. Punctuated equilibrium, missing link, I'm looking at the two of you in particular.

Evolution is the only theory for how species came to be as they are which is both credible *and* scientific. But it isn't a very good theory. If it was a good theory then it would be *testable*. One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

Certainly Karl Popper didn't initially think that the theory of evolution was testable, but he later changed his mind:

I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation...

The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true. There seem to be exceptions, as with so many biological theories; and considering the random character of the variations on which natural selection operates, the occurrence of exceptions is not surprising...

1976. Unended Quest. An Intellectual Autobiography.

If you want more concrete examples of how the theory is both testable and falsifiable you could try these pages.

about a year and a half ago
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Fox News: US Solar Energy Investment Less Than Germany Because US Has Less Sun

Epeeist Re:Where's the accountability? (644 comments)

So I know this is Fox News we're talking about here, but where exactly does one draw the line between a failure to check your sources, and becoming a tabloid?

You become a tabloid when you couple your failure to check sources with boobs, as is done in this British Murdoch publication.

about a year and a half ago
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Email Trails Show Bankers Behaving Badly

Epeeist Re:Get a rope! (251 comments)

And stop creating government regulations that give them lots of loopholes to exploit.

You would prefer there was no regulation at all?

You think the deregulation that took place under both Bush administrations was a good thing?

about a year and a half ago
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New York Passes Landmark Gun Law

Epeeist Re:We need gas control! (1591 comments)

Considering how easy it would be to set off some of those cheap Blue-Rhino propane tanks and get a similar death-toll, I hop that NYC is going to have gas control next on the agenda.

Absolutely, it would avoid the huge amount of straw in your post igniting.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012?

Epeeist Jesus and Mo (321 comments)

Why the author hasn't had a fatwah issued against him yet I don't know - http://www.jesusandmo.net/

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Expelled

Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Epeeist writes "It seems that PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, who were in Minnesota for an atheist conference, went to see a preview of "Expelled", the creationist movie by Ben Stein. Unfortunately(?) for PZ he was refused entry though his wife and daughter were allowed in along with Richard Dawkins (possibly because his passport gives his name as Clinton Richard Dawkins). The NY Times gives details of the incident — http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/science/21expelledw.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.
PZ's daughter Skatje doesn't think much of the film — http://skatje.com/?p=381 either."
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No (My)space for atheists

Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Epeeist writes "It seems that MySpace has deleted the "Atheist and Agnostic Group". This is the second time it has been deleted, the last time being November last year. Bryan Pesta said "MySpace refuses to undelete the group, although it never violated any terms of service." Seems the site's owners, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, have also been altering and removing personal profiles. In one case they removed the scarlet "A" of the Atheist Out Campaign from one user's profile. More details at the Secular Students Alliance and Richard Dawkins sites."
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Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" to return

Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Epeeist writes "In 1980, the landmark series COSMOS premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen the series. Now the Science Channel brings the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning COSMOS back, digitally remastered and with enhanced computer graphics."
Link to Original Source
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Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Epeeist writes "Are you a Linux user feeling left out by the Windows Genuine Advantage programme? If so then this is for you! Install the software on your Linux machine and can experience a feature that until now remained the exclusive domain of proprietary software.

Once you have paid the licence fee your computer (which worked fine before) will continue working normally. Sign up now and the producers of the program promise not to launch unfounded lawsuits against you, slander you or require you to pay for software you won't use on every new computer you buy!"
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Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Epeeist writes "In an article entitle Illegal net sport faces crackdown the BBC tacitly accepts that a sports match is the intellectual property of the sport's organising body and has an interview with the spokesman of a company dedicated to removing "illegal" videos of games from the Internet.

So are we going to get to the state where not only the MPAA and the RIAA come after you, but bat wielding cricketers and large rugby players too."
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Epeeist Epeeist writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Epeeist writes "The University of Cambridge has created a site which will eventually contain all of the works of Charles Darwin. At the moment about 50% of the material is available, with the rest promised by 2009. As well as note books from his time on the Beagle it contains transcripts of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th editions of "Origin of Species"."

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