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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

kanweg Re:Ah yes, values as a malfunction or manipulation (892 comments)


Imagine we live in the stone age, (major) religion not having been invented yet. The two of us are out in the wild.

You have found an apple and think, that would be nice for breakfast. In the morning, you wake up, and the apple is gone. You feel hungry, but I don't.
The next night you wake me up and say, let's go hunting. I notice that the firestone axe I worked on for over 2 weeks is in your belt. When I ask you for it, you won't give it back.

I develop a new insight: Taking stuff from another person isn't a good thing.

Back at the tribe, someone irks me. I plant my (spare) axe deeply into that person's body and toss him outside the camp to avoid stench. Problem solved. I'm the last one to go to sleep. When I go to my fur rug, I hit someone's foot. That person wakes up grumpily, grabs his axe and tries to kill me.

I develop a new insight: Arbitrarily killing another person is not a good thing. It could happen to me.

This suggests that morals develop as soon as brain functions develop, possible future consequences can be understood, and future actions of others can be predicted and controlled. Religion isn't the source of those morals. Religion certainly helps to maintain them. If I'm strong and you're weak, religion gives you some control over me: Don't kill me, or the god Faket will punish you for it. Hmmm, I could easily crush you, and while I don't mind crushing you, I don't want to be crushed by Faket. So, I leave you alone and you get to reproduce.

Here's a fairness study for monkeys ... ext?c=upw1

Here's another article on altruistic behaviour in monkeys
starting with this; "Previous work in our laboratory(1) had demonstrat- ed that most rhesus monkeys refrained form operating a device for securing food if this caused another monkey to suffer an electric shock.".

Morals are not a feature exclusive to humans, and with the above stone age scenarios, the 'god-tells-human(s) about what is moral and what is not' hypothesis remains unsubstantiated speculation. And if your source is a religious book that says that people should be stoned for wearing cloth made of two types of fiber, how much time do you need to realise that book (and that god) is a human fabrication?


4 days ago

Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

kanweg Re:You confuse atheism with agnosticism (892 comments)

Atheists are lazy/efficient. It doesn't take much to show that a religious book contains an error, something that can be proven wrong without doubt. Combine that with the premise of the religious followers for that book that everything in that book is true and the word of their god, and the conclusion is that the religion is BS. After you've done that for a couple of religions, you get the picture and don't bother with checking each and every further religion. If there's news of evidence for a god, it will make the news. Do you think that Vatican would hide it if there were a new message from god, after 2000 years that the boss of the Vatican didn't show up?

An atheist will take your word for it that you had a ham/cheese sandwich for lunch. For an atheist to believe something extraordinary, it takes extraordinary evidence. If not even a shred of evidence, is offered, yes, the atheist draws his conclusion. The number of possible unsupported assertions is probably infinite; who'd bother to waste his time on that?


4 days ago

Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

kanweg Re: illogical captain (892 comments)

When a relative dies, christians (etc.) cry That would be illogical. They should be happy, their relative has gone to heaven! And while it may take a couple of years, they'll be seeing that relative again, right? Then why the tears? The coping mechanism (delusion) doesn't work very well in the beginning.


4 days ago

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

kanweg Re:No comments here yet... (471 comments)

No need to tap, nor to look. The phone vibrates when you have to move direction, different for left and right.


about a week ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

kanweg Re:No simple solution (300 comments)

Non sequitur. (If you believed your post was of such good quality, why did you post anonymously).

The killing of Foley was propaganda. What I proposed was a similar yet different angle as the Main Topic, which in my case is: just make their propaganda backlash. Come to think of it, it would be quite easy to put the scene (cropped. Top of jumpsuit with Foley and the nutter with a shawl next to him) on a T-shirt with the two labels hero and nutcase on it. With the colours (blue sky, orange jumpsuit, black nutter), it could easily be not very graphic yet quite recognisable. I would like it if a boatload of such T-shirts were produced and worn. It would be a great protest.

The T-shirt could have a QR label on it. If a conversion on the T-shirt is started, it would be easy to get people to a website with the explanation.


about three weeks ago

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

kanweg Another option (300 comments)

Put a text label next to the guy on the left reading "hero". Explain why: A man facing his death like Foley did; I don't think I could have handled it like that.
Put a text label to the guy on the right reading "nutcase who believes in nonsense, I'll explain why now".
- Explain that the sun is 150 million kilometers from the sun, and that the sun doesn't sink in a mud pool.
- Explain that the earth rotates about the sun, how this causes the sun to rise at some place on earth at any time. So, there is no deity that tells the sun when to rise.

Point out the surahs in the koran where the two stupid assertions are made.
Then point out that the guy who wrote surahs in the koran wasn't aware of this knowledge, so the koran is not the word of god (and no, it is not misinterpretation. The koran itself says it is clear and unambiguous).

I don't think IS would like to see Foley labeled as hero and explained why the anonymous coward (why hide your face if you believe you're doing something noble?) is nuts in an easy to understand and verify manner.

As a bonus, you could point out that the knife did what you expect from a knife handled that way. Personally I'd be impressed if he'd prayed him to death. They don't try that. Doesn't work. The deity doesn't exist.

about three weeks ago

Patents That Kill

kanweg Re:Alternatives? (240 comments)

Of course, the people in the country A without patents could read the patents of the people in the other country B (or could copy the patented products themselves because their inventors didn't take their inventions to the grave because they were not willing to let others parasite on their effort). It would be a better comparison if you'd looked at the situation where the people of country A couldn't do that. Oh, wait.

Applicants for patents pay serious money for having a patent application drafted. It gets published after 18 months, usually before the applicant knows before he will be able to secure a patent. Yet, society gets all this information. And you can find it on With mechanical translator, if you can't read the language. You can download PDFs of it. You can use all the information in there to learn even use it (if the patent has lapsed, or was never applied for in your country). The cost to you, or any company? FREE.
Let me turn this around, the ones who don't use this free information are bad for the economy. I wonder whether that was part of the study.

Anecdotal evidence. I'm a patent attorney and a client wanted to use particular technology but a competitor had a valid patent on it. My client came up with something better. Wouldn't have happened if the other patent hadn't been there. A patent was applied for and society learned about something better.

For software, there shouldn't be patents. I can argue why.

about a month ago

The NSA's New Partner In Spying: Saudi Arabia's Brutal State Police

kanweg Re: Heck, we probably already fund them (125 comments)

What is there to negotiate? Stop shooting and the Israelis will do it too (their excuse is gone too). Near instant peace. Near instant stop of collateral damage.

And the palestinians can spend the money now spent on rockets on more fruitful things like water, food, housing, and their fishermen can spend time fishing etc. After behaving well for a time, the borders with Egypt can be opened and a further improvement of life can be looked forward to.

The above is all easy.

All that has to be done is stop religious nut cases from yelling that allah is on their side (then why do you need rockets; just pray the Israelis to death overnight) and make them realise that allah doesn't exist (given a choice, no soldier will take his favourite religious book to battle over his gun. There are only atheists in foxholes). That is the hard part. Especially in view of this silly idea that the opinion called religion should be treated with respect.


about 2 months ago

MIT Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

kanweg Re:Very far from practical application (110 comments)

"Interesting, but not revolutionary by any means."

To the contrary, it is fucking brilliant.
1) Instead of having to heat up bulk of water (like what you do if you use a boiler), they only heat up the water that is actually going to be converted into steam. So, the start-up time is greatly improved.
2) The steam generated passes through the foam up, where the foam is even hotter. The steam gets heated to a higher temperature, making it more useful to generate power. Another way of looking at the foam, is recognising that it flows in counter current with the heat source, just exactly what you want if you want to transfer heat in the best way.

And the questions you pose? They're more of the engineering type. The direction is determined by the above principle.

As an aside: Instead of water you can use another liquid, such as hexane or something. Reaching high pressures with that should not be a problem.


about 2 months ago

Tibetans Inherited High-Altitude Gene From Ancient Human

kanweg Re:Basic questions (133 comments)

1. Is a sleight that's not worthy of a reply. Just a glance at TFA shows how much research went into it. And you think you can wave it away without any evidence.

2. Solve it by a process called thinking. Try this: Humans are spread all over the planet (Africa etc.). They'd all have to lose that very gene, except the Tibetans. Odds of that? Probably in the same order of magnitude as the likelihood that a person making statements of this caliber is convinced by reason.


about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

kanweg Re:I'd like to give swift a try (466 comments)

Swift is also a good choice because nobody has a head start on you.


about 3 months ago

Interviews: Forrest Mims Answers Your Questions

kanweg Astounding answer on Evolution (161 comments)

What cracks? The Piltdown man? It was debunked. Constant review and scrutiny is part of science. You make a name by discovering something new/.show someone else was wrong (with facts, not with assertions). With today's tools (DNA sequencing) etc. it wouldn't have taken 40 years.
Missing fossils? Missing evidence? WTF. Ask him to produce the arc of the covenant, etc. The important thing about evolution is: There is nothing contradicting it. Every newly found fossil matches the pattern. Never do we find a rabbit with a piece of a T-rex tooth in it . No one is claiming it is complete, that every piece of evidence is there, but there is no evidence against it. EVERYTHING independent line of evidence points to the same thing: geology was used to predict where one of the missing links could be found, and was indeed found (read about it here). Every scientist would love to falsify the theory of evolution. I know I would. What a way to make a name for yourself. But the theory of evolution is bolstered every day.
ERVs show that man and apes share a common ancestor. Learn about it here:
Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil was found at the predicted location. Read about it here:

Mims posits a Creator. Not zero creators. Not many creators. A (one) creator. The amount of evidence for that? Zilch. He has no qualms about that. If you want to spot a crack in a line of reasoning, there's one. And why does Mims give himself a free pass on a super powerful creator out of nothing but is stymied by photochemical system?

Every molecule has properties, such as a boiling point, a solubility in water etc. etc. Water vapor can form a variety of ice crystals (snow flakes). None of his electronic components did that (although resistors might self-align a bit).
Complex molecules exhibit more elaborate properties. The molecules he's so amazed about, like molecular motors? They self-assemble upon formation. They arise by transcription from DNA and translation from RNA. Not a single deity involved in that. If these molecules didn't have that property, the molecules wouldn't be there. All those molecular behavior in the end determine what you do. If you think a god is pulling the strings at a molecular level, then he can't hold you responsible for your actions.

Sure, none of Mims' electronic circuits has every self-assembled. But atoms and molecules have different properties than electronic components. They self-solder, i.e. react. And the universe is a gigantically big place (multiply the number of galaxies by the number of stars per galaxy) times a couple of planets. That's a gigantically erlenmeyer flask with a gazilion reactions taking place. Most of them leading to nothing special. I place my bet on a freak chemical event taking place leading to life in that chemical soup than a deity that self-raised himself as a super-von-munchausen.

In his own field/related to his own field of electronics, genetic algorithms have resulted in very strange-looking antennae that are better than human designed ones. Yes, the algorithm was programmed. That is because antennae don't procreate, otherwise they could have evolved to look that strange yet be so efficient.

I liked the Q&A quite a bit. But I don't think he's a man to go to on evolution, as to take him serious there, he either has to present evidence for the creator he posits or provide evidence (like a rabbit bone with a T-rex tooth in it) that falsifies evolution. That's how it works. His work on ozone got accepted not because it was his strong opinion but because it was correct.

about 3 months ago

As Crypto Mining Grows, Data Centers Begin Accepting Bitcoin

kanweg I don't get it (94 comments)

If it is profitable to pay for computer capacity for mining bitcoins, why aren't the datacenters doing it themselves (especially since they'll have spare capacity anyway)? I mean, the miners want to make a profit. So, if they can make a profit by paying for the data center equipment, the data centers would make (more) profit doing it themselves.


about 4 months ago

Apple To Face Lawsuit For iMessage Glitch

kanweg Re:Anti-competitive (238 comments)

Well, sending iMessages is a free alternative to SMS messages. This helped to drive prices of texting down after many years of excessive pricing for that. She enjoyed both of these benefits. Thanks.


about 4 months ago

Women Increasingly Freezing Their Eggs To Pursue Their Careers

kanweg Re:It's not a doll (342 comments)

So, you must be happy that they want to have their baby when they have time for it, not squeezed in a too tight time schedule because of some biological clock ticking.

Who can only hope that you know the difference between an egg and a baby

about 5 months ago

It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

kanweg Re:Why? (470 comments)

"Why are scientists increasingly concerned about what some people in our society think and believe?"

Well, if you're an astronomer studying the effects of asteroid impacts and their likelihood, you may come across evidence that it has happened in the past and that their effects are rather devastating. As we may well be able to develop the technology to divert an asteroid on a collision course. People running around that the earth is only 10 kY old are not helpful then.

Climate change same thing.


about 5 months ago

Religion Is Good For Your Brain

kanweg Re:Religion... (529 comments)

"God is only invisible to those who choose to ignore him."

Like camera's.


about 6 months ago

Jewish School Removes Evolution Questions From Exams

kanweg Re: If you don't like it.... (431 comments)

Women won't forget the day they delivered a still-born. While they won't forget that they had one or more miscarriages, they won't burn a candle that day (they may well forget which day it was exactly. It won't be on the calendar). And there are certainly no candles in the toilet being burned for a discarded fertilized egg being flushed down the drain.

It is a mental, developing process. So, at some point a line can be drawn. Sure, for some people line will be at a different time than for others, but it is simply not true that there is no difference in how growing life is viewed during pregnancy. You'll have a hard time finding someone pro-abortion that will be in favor of an abortion time limit at 7 months.


about 6 months ago


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