Monthly Archives: January 2005

How Do We Form Our Beliefs?

You know, lately, I’ve been called arrogant, conceited, chauvinistic, and the reason that the rest of the world thinks Americans are ignorant. In that vein, I figured I’d post some of my thoughts on why I am right, and anybody who disagrees with me is wrong. You see, so many times, when people try to convince me of something, it’s just the same old stuff. “Abortion should be legal because women should have the right to choose” “Choose what? How is choosing to kill their baby any different from me choosing to strangle you here and now?” Anyway, let’s begin the lesson.

Flannelism: Lesson One: We Know A Lot Less Than You Think We Do.

Epistemology, the study of knowledge. When it comes down to it, what do we know? Throughout the ages this has been debated until philosophers were blue in the face, but to little end. For example, you all will generally believe that I am an actual person writing this. You know that I exist, however, you can’t prove that this post was not generated by an elaborate computer program. So, does my existence qualify as knowledge, or as a mere belief? The ability of any of you to actually prove my existence is virtually nil.

So, what do we know? The average person generally accepts that the world is accurately represented by our senses, and we can know what we can observe. I know that my computer exists, and I know that my chair exists, and I know that if I throw a ball up, it will come down and most likely nail me right in the head. So, what we know is related to what we can observe, since we really have no other option. Since our entire perception of reality is limited by our senses we can either go through life wondering if we’re the victim of an evil demon or we can just accept the fact that we have to take things at face value.

But, as it turns out, the more we “know” the more doubt our previous knowledge is cast into. For example, Newton came out with his theories on motion and gravity and physics, and they were reliable. They accurately predicted what we observed. In the sense of how we “know” things, we knew that Newton was right, because you could go out back and drop a couple of bowling balls and test his theories. But now, as we use more advanced technology to improve our senses, it is becoming apparent that Newton’s theories were only accurate in a large scale sense, and that they do not explain the motion or behavior of some observed phenomena. So, the more we “know” the more we realize that we don’t know.

So, in the end, we consider knowledge to be “That which we believe to be true”. It may later be shown that what we believed was not in fact true, but we nonetheless believe that we “know” it now. In other words, when we process a piece of information, we assign a probability of truthfulness or falsehood to it, and based on that probability, we form our beliefs.

So, now that we have a general framework for knowing things, let’s try to apply it.

Flannelism: Lesson Two: God Created the Heavens and the Earth.
For my example, I will use Creation vs. Evolution. As any regular reader of this website can tell you, I am a Creationist. Lets start chunking knowledge into the grinder.

Let’s start with the relevant knowledge about evolution.

• Evolution cannot be proven in a lab and cannot be witnessed because it either occurs over long periods of time or occurs in spontaneous leaps forward.

• The scientific history of evolutionary science has been racked with erroneous suppositions to outright fraud.

• Life does not come from nonlife, not even in a puddle of goo, not even in a lightening strike. A string of amino acids is not equivalent to a string of DNA, and a string of DNA is not alive. There is no such thing as abiogenesis.

• Evolution is a requirement for Atheism to be rational. Without evolution considered a fact, Atheism, and secular humanism, loses all rationality and acceptance, and as such, many advocates of the hypothesis are not neutral arbiters of the truth, but rather biased human beings with an agenda.

That being said, I assign a very low probability to the premise that “Evolution is True”

Here’s facts I’m considering when I think about Creation.

• God Exists

• The Bible has been shown to be historically reliable.

• The Bible is the Inspired Word of God.

• It is possible to construct a scenario using the best knowledge available that fits with a Creationist viewpoint

Well, in fairness, these are a bit more arbitrary, but there are good reasons for believing each of them (probably moreso, but it’s beyond the scope of what I’m doing here as I’m merely trying to show that I’m assigning probabilities based on information I’m seeing).

Anyway, this is already an usually long post, so I guess I’ll wrap it up here. If it strikes anybody’s interest, we can have more later.

Spam Control

Sorry about everybody’s comments going into moderation of late. I’m not sure exactly why it’s happening as most of my blacklist is spammer URL’s, e-mail addresses, prescription drugs, misspelled prescription drugs, gambling, and dirty words. I’ll try to get things working a little smoother.

Why the NHL stinks

The NHL is looking at cancelling this season and maybe part of next season. It’s time that the NHL says, “You can either play for us on our terms, or we’ll find other players to play for us”. I’m sure that the NHL could have guys lining up around the block to play hockey for them who wouldn’t mind the salary cap. It’s time they just got a fresh start.

On a bright note, at least I’ll finally be able to get the Hurricanes out of my Basketball Arena

General Lee Was A Great Man

Y’all should go Read This

I’ll give y’all a little preview:

Many officers counseled disbanding the army, infiltrating through the federal lines and continuing the fight as guerrilla bands. This type of warfare had been seen before. It would have meant thousands of Federal troops battling bands of Confederate soldiers hiding within the South’s civilian population.

It would have brought retribution down on civilians. It would have generated a hatred that would have fueled revenge killings for generations. It could have continued the struggle for years, further devastated the now destroyed South and, in the end, not achieve Southern independence.

Again at a pivotal point in American history, with the fate of future generations in his hands, Lee made the right decision. The war was over, and they would not fight on. He told his ragged band of soldiers to go home, become good citizens and rebuild the South.

The strength of his word alone, devoid now of any military authority, became a beacon for those binding up the wounds of the nation. That single decision saved this nation from the sort of protracted destruction we see today in other countries and started a divided nation back on the road to becoming the United States.

I found this via ArklahomBoy

No Follow

Take that Spammers. If you do manage to get through my spam filtering, it won’t do you any good because I’ve enable the NoFollow attribute to links in the comments.

You can see more at Google’s Announcement If you don’t manage your own blog, then theres a good chance that it’s already been implemented for you (Google owns Blogger and Blogspot, and Six Apart is on board, so all LiveJournal and TypePad blogs will soon be in the loop) If you use WordPress or MovableType, be a responsible netizen and install the plugin.


The OS Wars Rage Anew

Well, it’s been a few years since the OS wars were a big issue. Microsoft thought they had crushed all the competition. But now, the peasants are revolting. Firefox is rising from the ashes of Netscape, Linux is on the rise, and Macs are on the offensive.

Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost ponders about the wisdom of buying a Mac. He references 18 points of why a Mac is better than a PC.

Well, I disagree. I think that your average clueless computer user won’t be able to tell the difference, but when it comes down to it, Apple is just a niche market. In all fairness, Apple has done a great deal to try to bring their computers in compliance with standards for technology. It used to be that even under VirtualPC hardware still knew it was dealing with a Mac and wouldn’t deal with it at all. Now, with the advent of USB, and several other standardized technologies, Macs work better in general. But they’re still not compatible with a lot of stuff designed for PC’s. Running something in emulation is never as good as just straight up running it. There are always problems in emulators. Nevermind how bad it slows things down.

As for spyware, adware, and viruses, these are issues that are here to stay for all computer users. Windows users are getting hammered the worst right now, but as soon as they decide that it’s worth the effort to target Mac users and Linux users, they’ll be on the rise. Ditching IE for Mozilla does as much for keeping away from adware and spyware than ditching Windows. But even then, once Firefox takes back the web, they’ll start targeting the Gecko engine and the guys at Mozilla will have to keep up with the assault as the popularity grows.

The ability to make PDFs for free isn’t anything new or special. All you have to do is download OpenOffice which will let you make your own PDFs, and open and save documents in MS Office formats, as well as several others. And it’s free. Editing PDF’s is the real trick these days.

And you’re forgetting the ultimate evil in all computing. The One Button Mouse. They’re just plain evil. But on a more serious note, there is a lot more software available for Windows than the MacOS mainly because so many more people use Windows. Both Mac and Linux are going to have to deal with this. Since they’re both Unix based, I think we’ll eventually see some more standards for Unix based operating systems, which would let their market share increase.

If I were in charge of Apple, I would start thinking about making a version of MacOSX available for the X86 processor. I for one don’t much care for the multicolored Mac computers, nevermind that PC’s are a dime a dozen. PC hardware is everywhere and easily available, and PC components are pretty much the IT standard. And the compatibility issues within different releases of the Mac OS are a significant hurdle. Everytime Mac issues an upgrade, in addition to the upgrade for the OS, you have to get upgrades for all your software. They’ve got to change that.

I think we’re still one or two years off from another OS being able to take a signicant shot at WinXP. Although, if Microsoft goes through with all the invasions of privacy they’re planning for Longhorn, then they’re one (very likely to happen) disaster away from the Linux revolution.