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Pink Floyd Give In To Digital Downloads

Shirakawasuna Re:If you want us to buy complete albums..... (409 comments)

Even more, if splitting up the songs in your album sullies their integrity, why not just release the album as a single, large file? Why even call them separate songs in the first place? Why let them be used separately in any situation (e.g. car commercials)?

more than 3 years ago
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New Tech Promises Cheap Gene Sequencing In Minutes

Shirakawasuna Re:Article citation (121 comments)

Not sure which part of that is scary. I did that yesterday, just not with a nanopore machine.

more than 3 years ago
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Wii 2 Unlikely For 2011, Maybe In 2012

Shirakawasuna Re:I don't expect Nintendo to recover.... (303 comments)

Except that Nintendo is raking in large fields of cash. It's arguably the most successful console of this generation, even though it disappoints a lot of gamers.

more than 3 years ago
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Problem-Solving Bacteria Crack Sudoku

Shirakawasuna Re:Why E.coli? (86 comments)

In fact, having a robust normal microbiota is associated with health and commensal E. coli (like those from which typical lab strains are derived) are part of that. They hang out, digest materials you wouldn't, make some vitamins, keep your immune system up to snuff (these interactions are essentially 'expected' by your system), and most importantly take up space and nutrients that potential pathogens could use.

In addition, the pathogenic E. coli have several virulence factors that lab strains don't (except when studying the disease-causing strains, of course). Finally, you, yes YOU or maybe YOU over there are chock full of bacteria that are directly associated with disease and full of nasty virulence factors. You are for all purposes a walking disease-passing machine which is simply capable of keeping these microbes in check. One errant cough could have you passing on an antibiotic-resistant S. pyogenes and causing someone who is immune compromised to come down with Scarlet Fever. In short, you are much more dangerous than these E. coli, yet a lot of you probably don't even wash your hands properly.

more than 3 years ago
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Problem-Solving Bacteria Crack Sudoku

Shirakawasuna Re:The interesting part of this article (86 comments)

Why is that frightening? Every in vivo molecular bio lab has hundreds (thousands?) of 'unique' bacterial strains, particularly E. coli. They are less viable in your system than the billions of bacteria hanging out on your skin (some of which are probably Staph. aureus) right now. In addition, they're usually derivatives of E. coli K12. Similar E. coli are in your colon right now, being nice, normal microbiota.

I may have misinterpreted your comment, though. It's mostly the last sentence that makes me think you're saying that the bacteria are dangerous or something. A sufficient quantity of bacteria for this experiment would involve 16 small tubes of broth and one day, so I don't see how it's... frightening. Your refrigerator is more diverse and vastly more likely to spread disease.

more than 3 years ago
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Problem-Solving Bacteria Crack Sudoku

Shirakawasuna Bad Article (86 comments)

Outside of this article, there's no indication that these E. coli actually exist. Check the U Tokyo iGem page: http://2010.igem.org/Team:UT-Tokyo/Sudoku_construct

I guess it's difficult since their page keeps talking about 'our E. coli', but we also never see any results from 'their E. coli'. I think they're more hypothetical at this point.

They have an interesting model and system, but nothing on their actual E. coli or their results. Everything is idealized and simulated. I think there must have just been some kind of miscommunication. If they had actually created bacteria that solved sudoku, they would have done better in the contest.

more than 3 years ago
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Pakistan Lifts Ban After Facebook Deletes Offending Page

Shirakawasuna Re:Damn right! (677 comments)

Umm, no. A mosque is pretty trivial, it in no way compares to large-scale human rights violations and is a drop in the bucket in terms of social weight. Incidentally, preventing people from privately building structures for practicing their religion directly violates basic principles of individual ownership and liberty. You seem too eager to sell the principles we should be defending just to trivially smack something Islamic.

more than 3 years ago
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Pakistan Lifts Ban After Facebook Deletes Offending Page

Shirakawasuna Re:Damn right! (677 comments)

No, my attitude is that everyone should be held to basic standards, including human rights. If you want to have crazy personal beliefs that don't significantly impact others, go right ahead. If, like fundamentalist Islam, they entail violations of human rights, you should be opposed legally and punished internationally. If you're 'in between' and forward the violation of human rights with your speech (but not in actions), you should be loudly criticized.

That is *not* a justification for knee-jerk violence and vague prejudice, however.

more than 3 years ago
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Pakistan Lifts Ban After Facebook Deletes Offending Page

Shirakawasuna Re:Damn right! (677 comments)

Perhaps they're too preoccupied dealing with overreactions like this: "Where is the opposition from the left to the celebratory mosque being built overlooking the 9/11 site?"

I mean really, who cares? I am simply not the kind of person to get pissed off by offensive private speech/ownership. You'd think 'the right' would also be in favor of that, but when it comes to Islam they have clearly positioned themselves in irrational prejudice. Now, despite my criticism of your statements, some of which are easily bash-able, I am vehemently opposed to Islam intellectually and to fundamentalist Islam (which is very popular) on a human level. It's used to back actions diametrically opposed to basic human rights and freedoms and it has a clear and straightforward substrate: the Quran. With the Quran, it's easy to find justifications for killing people for what we rightly consider minor crimes (or not crimes at all) or for the subjugation of women. Now, my part in my opposition to Islam is to criticize it publicly on an academic level and based on its opposition to human rights. I also participate in rational skeptic and humanist groups which oppose Islam on both fronts as well with political advocacy and by showing alternatives. What do you do?

In fact, your whole last paragraph unintentionally makes one good argument for why 'the left' (and the center...) tends to focus on being diverse. You seem to be condemning all Muslims and treating them as dangerous or offensive and 'the right' will play that card much as they've appealed to racists since the '60s. In response, acknowledging that there's plenty of 'good' Muslims is a good political play and is more accurate, while the whole ordeal is distracting from the real issue due to hyperbole. This happens to a much greater extent in Europe where it does an even greater disservice, as they have much more serious problems with Muslim immigrants who oppose the core of Western beliefs in those countries (freedom of speech, equal rights, etc). They have to deal with the actual xenophobes and racists who use Islam as a proxy for their intolerance, which pushes some people to think that attacking Islam is just veiled xenophobia. Both 'sides' are at fault for being irrational, but at least one's irrationality is the product of an aversion to prejudicial hatred.

And what does the facebook debacle have to do with "the other side"? If you're implying that any bending over backwards for Muslim intolerance is something only for 'the left', you're dead wrong. In fact, it often (as in this case) has a direct monetary incentive, something a non-lefty should sympathize with!

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:There is nothing wrong with being spiritual (1123 comments)

So what you're saying is that I completely misinterpreted what you said and failed at the quote?

Accepted, good sir. When can I expect my incompetence medal to arrive?

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:In the closet? Interesting choice of words (1123 comments)

Agreed. And just like any social setting, there are intolerant jerks who will rail on someone, personally, for holding different opinions. Luckily they're very rare.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:Makes sense (1123 comments)

I can't defend everything said by the GP, but I disagree with some of what you said.

First, science is not silent on the issue of ontology. It has a fairly clear methodology for the rejection of hypotheses and by practicality, those which do not meet rigorous standards are treated as effectively false (e.g. moon leprechauns). It is often silent when it comes to religious claims, however. There are a few obvious reasons (and I certainly couldn't name all the reasons):

1) We grow up in cultures where NOMA is stressed and religion is supposed to be private (except in politics and innuendo... and when it violates the status quo!). This is a comfortable scenario (in some ways) for both science and society in general - conflict is avoided. Science could be taught to anyone and there isn't supposed to be a fear of losing your religion. Religious people can be scientists without fearing that conflict (and they do very good work).

2) Science is usually fairly silent when it comes to pseudoscience or otherwise false/unpredictive claims. There isn't going to be a lot of discussion of religious claims in the primary literature (aside from polls) because they aren't useful in science. They're less productive than a confused undergrad's failed experiment (like mine...).


Of course I agree that most members of religions (and most people) are basically decent, or at least average, and that extreme members of any group can unfairly give them a bad name. This is true for any group, as you point out. However, context is important here. First, by discussing well-verified claims as on the same level as fanciful stories and myths (which we do in NOMA), we indulge in a kind of epistemological relativism that gives the extremism some undeserved legitimacy. When claims don't have to be defended but can be waved away as personal, religious beliefs, shouldn't you expect very strange beliefs to be considered acceptable (to an individual)? But I'm starting to rant again... sorry.

I am not saying that extremists are the only people reading their religions correctly or who are honest about their beliefs. However, they at least take the questions very seriously, I would say more seriously than most, and they have very clear religious substrates for their beliefs and actions: religious social movements and sacred texts, which will often call for sacrifices, ostracization, discrimination, and inequality right along with calls for peace and charity. It is not coincidence that someone can find their religion to support almost anything they'd like to do and receive the tacit social support that comes with NOMA- and religion-positive societies.

tl;dr: if a religion simply asked that you treat others as you would like to be treated and to give charitably, no one would have any basis for criticizing religion for the atrocities of the religious. Instead, there are oftentimes vague, fairly inconsistent religious instruction manuals with built-in prejudice supported by society and social groups. We can thank basic human decency for the fact that most people ignore the horrible parts of their religions.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:There is nothing wrong with being spiritual (1123 comments)

"Denying or affirming religion is the same action. By GGP asserting that the being in people's beliefs is "imaginary," it is denying not merely the reality, but the very possibility of it becoming reality."

No, it's calling them imaginary, as in false. I know everyone likes to pretend that in science, everything is tentatively true or reasonable until data comes in to explicitly support or deny it, but that's simply not true. In science, fanciful ideas with no predictive value do not receive respect, they are treated as false until shown otherwise. The null hypothesis and all that. If you claim that leprechauns cause tidal shifts, I will gladly tell you it's imaginary, despite having done no original research on the subject. If you claim a fanciful, capricious creature created the universe, I'll do the same. It's shorthand for, "that has no empirical support and seems more like speculation than serious academic thought".

"Denial of anything unknown, whether it is asserted by a theorist or a scientist, is denial of potential knowledge"

What does that even mean? Who is denying "potential knowledge"? Rational skepticism holds that you wait for the evidence. Go ahead, bring evidence, scientists are completely open to it! Do the work! Until then, your claims will be treated as putatively false, certainty in their falsehood increasing with how little they have to do with empirical research.

"Science, which posits that knowledge is unprovable absolutely, only deny assertions that observations deny. That which is unobservable can neither be denied nor affirmed by science."

The confusion here stems from mixing layman's terms and the philosophy of science. Let's say I claim that purple space creatures seeded life on earth. The way to state an objection in philosophy of science terms is this: such a claim is supported by no empirical observations, or if there are observations, they are of a questionable nature (as tends to be the case with fantastical claims). It also doesn't make any predictions, and is thus fruitless. It could be true. Any fantastic claim *could* be true, even when it conflicts with a mountain of data. It is for precisely this reason that you'd simply say, "that's imaginary" instead. It communicates the same idea - your claim (or my claim) is implausible, supported by nothing, is useless, and fits the pattern of imaginary things.

"Your GP isn't being critical, he's being intolerant and narrow-minded."

How so? They're being obviously critical, calling religious claims imaginary and stating that efforts could be better spent on other activities. How are they being intolerant?

tl;dr: science doesn't work like you think it does, it does not tentatively respect nonsense claims but treats them with the lack of respect they deserve. This can be pedantically stated as, "claims with no supporting data or apparent predictive value are not entertained without strong criticism." It's actually quite a harsh environment, for good reason.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:There is nothing wrong with being spiritual (1123 comments)

Uh... that almost-quote usually refers to every person being guilty. So you're essentially saying everyone is religious, based on this study?

I'm going to assume you didn't even read the summary... I mean do I really have to explain how you're wrong?

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:Not real science. (1123 comments)

Let's not forget that the results overwhelmingly show atheism/agnosticism and 'liberal' religious attitudes to dominate the "elite" scientists' opinions, whereas the societal context has overwhelming theism and a huge amount of religious conservatism. Yet the author is stressing the amount of religion among scientists? It just keeps decreasing and decreasing, *despite* the society in which scientists were raised. I haven't read the book, but the choice of emphasis in these articles is very silly.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:Here one angle (1123 comments)

I have seen far, far too many Christians tie themselves in knots making God's "love" compatible with large-scale genocide (have you read the Old Testament?) and misogyny to accept their claims about deified love at face value. But good on you for recognizing the human decency of scientists, who are often confused with their nerdy, self-obsessed caricatures in movies.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:Religion versus Spirituality (1123 comments)

Mod parent up. I haven't read the book, but hopefully the author doesn't find it all that strange or incompatible for atheists to be spiritual. Spiritual != religious just like running a soup kitchen != religious.

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:Science answers how. (1123 comments)

Religion does not answer the 'why'. It wishes it could and gives you speculation, ignorance, and, best of all, ancient speculation and ignorance.

It is true that science isn't going to give you personal value judgments. It will show you how X affects Y, it can show you how dismal conditions are if you set up society certain ways, but it won't tell you that it's "good" because that isn't something directly supportable by the data, it must be set up by individuals and societies. Because science won't do that, for some reason people assume it's A-OK for someone in a frock to jump in and claim authority over that domain - you must question that. Human ethics and philosophy address those questions (and are more general) without having to appeal to pseudoscientific/unscientific claims to existence of things like a deity, hell, creation myths, or intrinsic properties of the universe (which religion does routinely, despite your appeal to NOMA). This does not make a given set of ethics or philosophy automatically right, either, nor does it mean they have "the answers".

more than 3 years ago
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

Shirakawasuna Re:There is nothing wrong with being spiritual (1123 comments)

There's a common confusion here. Grandparent is not being explicitly intolerant - they are being critical. Criticizing religion or stating a problem are not in the same league as demanding coercion or social ostracization (i.e. racism). The fact that racism is based on ignorance, blind fear, and the intrinsic properties of a person also makes it a poor comparison for a criticism of religion, which has (quite obviously) many intellectual faults and is an academic (heh) topic, something chosen by people.

I think I've made it clear that I also oppose religious thinking, but that should not detract from my point.

The second point I'd like to make is about being "open-minded" in science. Being open-minded does not mean accepting ideas uncritically or even being polite about all ideas. It means being open to a reasonable possibility and deferring to the data and predictions, no matter how strange. Some ideas or claims are simply stupid or insulting (and utterly unsupported) and being "open-minded" should not and *will not* impede scientists from saying so. Luckily, most scientists who are also religious don't confuse their religion with their science and try to keep up a strict barrier: most caims about existence subject to rigorous skepticism are placed in the 'science' area, "personal beliefs" about existence largely shielded from skepticism in the "religion" area. While I think this is intellectually indefensible, they are at least *mostly* consistent within each of their domains.

I seem to be rambling. The point is that the status quo holds claims of existence to have at least two domains: religious and scientific. These domains are fairly arbitrary, the primary difference being that religious claims are utterly unsupported by rigorous empiricism and are not routinely subjected to intense rational skepticism. Pointing out the failings of religion and their illogic does *not* make one intolerant, it makes one observant. It does *not* make one narrow-minded to criticize or to treat truly ridiculous ideas as laughable, it makes one realistic.

Finally, if I had such a knee-jerk reaction as the parent, I'd call them intolerant as well - they are clearly not fine with criticisms of religion and want it to be suppressed as "intolerance". Instead, I know that they are just falling prey to the status quo of religious claims getting the nerf bat treatment.

tl;dr: grandparent isn't intolerant, they're critical. There's a difference and scientists, of all people, know this very well.

more than 3 years ago
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Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome

Shirakawasuna Re:Litigation Land (558 comments)

Hmm, let's see.

Universe created itself: funny, I don't see this being any kind of non-Christian dogma. The people you're probably criticizing i.e. skeptics tend to be fine with admitting they don't know where 'everything' came from. Pretending to know things when you truly don't is a more religious idea. Yes, there's the Big Bang, but that's a highly explanatory model of how our universe formed, but does not answer the ultimate question of 'why is there something?'.

The Nature Channel = Humanist ethics: care to name a single person who forwards this? You can certainly learn a lot about ethics itself from some nature programs, but have you ever actually met anyone who claims to base their actions on, 'lion eats dead zebra'?

"none of us actually exist": what?

I expect someone might claim that the "Jewish zombie' quip is just as inaccurate as your claims, but that simply isn't the case. The most that can be legitimately said about that oft-repeated meme is that it's disrespectful to Christianity and Jesus returned from the dead != undead (as if that's the point).

about 4 years ago

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