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Comment author: Bugmaster 08 February 2012 03:55:09AM 1 point [-]

Not "time to time" - I was addressing the specific claim of one resurrection event in history.

Sure, it's possible that the Resurrection did occur; believing in its mere possibility is not, in itself, unscientific. But I would argue that if science works, then you'd be forced to conclude that the Resurrection most likely did not occur, based on the evidence available to you. Similarly, you would be forced to conclude that intelligent aliens most likely never visited the Earth -- not even that one time -- while still acknowledging that it's entirely possible that they did.

It doesn't make sense to think this is happening at all, but it isn't anti-scientific to believe that it has and maybe does happen in subtle ways and/or at rare times.

Once again, it's a matter of probabilities. If these effects are so subtle and/or rare as to be undetectable, then we'd conclude that such effects most probably do not occur. This is different from saying that they definitely do not occur, or that they cannot occur in principle, etc.

Comment author: po8crg 16 April 2014 10:14:37AM 0 points [-]

I think it's worth relating the argument about the Resurrection and the argument about rabbits chewing their cud. We now have a reasonably good definition of "dead". We know that classical civilisation in 33AD didn't.

Assuming that there was a person called Jesus and that he was crucified, we have no means of knowing whether he was, in fact, dead or not. It's necessarily impossible to apply the modern definition since the ECG hadn't been invented then.

There are scientific phenomena that would result in the observations that are reported in the gospels as the Resurrection (most obviously, a coma caused by brain anoxia, and a recovery over a few days).

This is, interestingly, the Qu'ran's position on the Resurrection. I'm not especially tied to it, but it does allow one to hold that the gospel writers were not deliberately lying (which raises the value of the gospels as evidence in general) without having to hold that the Resurrection was, in fact, a miracle.

I can see that a UU, someone who thinks that there is ethical value in (say) the Sermon on the Mount, being inclined to this position in that it strengthens the Bayesian evidence for the gospels which are our only available reports of the Sermon on the Mount.

In response to Burdensome Details
Comment author: po8crg 21 September 2012 05:53:25PM 0 points [-]

Depends on people's definition of truth, surely?

If your scoring system for a conjunction statement where one part is true and the other is untrue is to score that as half-true, then the probabilities for the Reagan case are wholly reasonable.

(ie for "Reagan will provide federal support for unwed mothers and cut federal support to local governments", you score 1 for both parts true, 0.5 for one part true and 0 for neither part true, while for "Reagan will provide federal support for unwed mothers" you can only score 1 for true and 0 for false).

If - and it seems reasonable - the intuitive scoring system for a conjunctive statement is similar to this, then the predictions are wholly reasonable.

This means that when there is a real conjunction, we tend to misinterpret it. It seems reasonable then to guess that we don't have an intuitive approach to a true conjunction. If that's the case, then the approach to overcoming the bias is to analyse joint statements to see if a partial truth scores any points - if it does, then our intuition can be trusted more than when it does not.

Comment author: po8crg 25 March 2012 05:54:53PM 3 points [-]

Consider whether your journey is necessary - not travelling is always safer than travelling.

Consider what you can do to restructure your life to minimise the need for routine travel - Can you live closer to your place of employment/study, either by moving your home, or moving your employment/study? Can you work or study from home (at all? more often?)

I now live 20 minutes' walk from my employment instead of an hour's drive + 20 minute's walk, and there are many other benefits (much cheaper), but the safety improvements of not having to drive, especially as I have a sleep disorder that makes it impossible to always avoid driving when fatigued, are certainly one factor.

If you have to make a journey, consider alternatives to driving for all or part of the journey. All public transportation is much safer than driving; off-road public transportation (ie all rail except trams, flying) is safer still.

Remember that walking (strictly, crossing roads on foot) is higher risk than driving, so be prepared to go for a multi-modal journey to avoid walking in non-pedestrianised areas.

In response to comment by [deleted] on How to avoid dying in a car crash
Comment author: wedrifid 25 March 2012 02:38:29AM 2 points [-]

It seems like if your car's driving computer is capable of connecting to the Internet, it's already badly designed.

I'd have to disagree. An optional feature to update a street database and possibly be notified of critical updates to the algorithm (when other modules are found to be killing people, say) seems like a wise inclusion.

Comment author: po8crg 25 March 2012 05:04:20PM 2 points [-]

Also, live traffic data to use the available road-space more efficiently. My GPS does that already, and will divert me around traffic jams when there are available side roads, but will stay on the main route when the side-roads as just as bad.

Comment author: JRMayne 19 March 2012 12:06:42AM *  36 points [-]

A'ight. I specialized in vehicular manslaughters as a prosecutor for ten years. This is all anecdotal (though a lot of anecdotes, testing the cliche that the plural of anecdotes is not data) and worryingly close to argument from authority, but here are some quick ones not otherwise covered (and there is much good advice in the above):

  1. Don't get in the car with the drinker. Everyone's drinking, guy seems OK even though he's had a few... just don't. If you watched the drinker the entire time and he's 190 pounds and had three beers during the three-hour football game, you're fine. But if you don't know, don't get in. If you're a teenager and the drinker's a teenager, don't get in the car. Please.

  2. Tailor your speed to the conditions. Statistics keepers often cite speed when the real culprit is inattention. (It's an unsafe speed to rear-end another vehicle stopped at a light; the safe speed is zero behind a stopped car.) Speeding's a serious problem in residential areas or in rainy or dark condtions. If you're driving from Reno to Utah, a safe speed is probably very high.

  3. Cross the street carefully. Pedestrians and bicyclists get killed. It's sometimes not their fault, but they end up dead, anyway. If you're a bicyclist in an area where motorists drive badly, don't bike there.

  4. Don't let the fatigued family member drive. We've had a few where the family is on a long haul and they're rotating people. Someone falls asleep at the wheel. Don't take the wheel if you're too tired. Don't give the reins to someone who is too tired to drive. If you can't afford a motel, find a place to pull over and nap.

  5. Report very bad driving. You've got a cell phone; when you see a car lurching off onto the exit ramp, weaving away, call the cops. Help take dangerous drivers off the road.


Comment author: po8crg 25 March 2012 05:01:23PM 2 points [-]

One trick I have for fatigued driving is to always have a stimulant drink in the car so I can pull over, drink it, revive within a few minutes and that enables me to concentrate for 10-20 minutes, enough to find a motel or (sometimes) get home.

Comment author: iwdw 07 March 2008 06:32:00PM 0 points [-]

@Ben Jones:

I don't disagree about the utility of the term, I'm just trying to figure out what should be considered a dimension in "thingspace" and what shouldn't. Obviously our brain's hormonal environment is a rather important and immediate aspect of the environment, so we tend to lend undue importance to those things which change it.

To continue to play Devil's Advocate, where does the line get drawn?

If you extend the hypothetical experiment out to a sufficiently sized random sampling of other people, and find that Wigginettes are more likely than default to induce biochemical "attractive" responses in people (despite not occurring with any greater frequency), I assume that that would then then justify the term. Even though it's still not a word about Wigginettes themselves, but about other people's reactions to them? Describing things in the real world doesn't seem as simple as entity.property.

I understand the point here, that using words to create meaningless divisions is either mistaken or malicious. I was just trying to see how an example played out.

Comment author: po8crg 24 March 2012 06:57:08PM 0 points [-]

And, indeed, we have words or phrases for particular female physical traits that men find attractive. Look how many words there are for different shades of yellow or light brown hair, compared to just "brunette" for darker brown / black.

[Blonde, and the many pat phrases like platinum blonde, golden blonde, dirty blonde, etc]

Why? Because men find blondes more attractive on average.

Similarly, there's a set of looks that are not particularly well-correlated or particularly common but is known as "English Rose" because men find it attractive.

Sure, there's not a particular need for a word that is "woman that Ben Jones fancies", but there's plenty of value in "woman that has a particular look that lots of men like"

Comment author: danlowlite 03 September 2010 03:25:18PM *  0 points [-]

Sharks are considered fish of a certain type, in that they have a "full cartilaginous skeleton," at least per Wikipedia. Contrast with bony fish (e.g., tuna, catfish). Also considered fish are stingrays and such.

This is more of a tangent than a response:

I would suppose that because we are more specific about the shark subset, we can safely make more assumptions on it. I've been told always that sharks were cold-blooded. According to that Wikipedia article, that is a false belief; most sharks are but some are not.

I would agree that it is a translation issue, because that's what language lets people do when they talk/write/etc. But what about internally? What does it say now that I know some sharks (and therefore fish) are warm-blooded? I mean, besides getting pedantic and correct my daughter's teacher when that comes up.

I would appear my previous definition of fish is wrong.

Edit: Removed so many supposes.

Comment author: po8crg 24 March 2012 06:37:30PM 2 points [-]

Fish, like reptiles are paraphyletic. The cladistic revolutionaries want to abolish the category altogether, or reduce it to just the ray-finned fishes - excluding coelacanths, lungfish, the cartilaginous fish (sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras), and the cyclostomes (hagfish and lampreys).

The result is that some sources will use fish as equivalent to the monophyletic group actinopterygii and others use the traditional polyphyletic pisces. Anytime you see a generalisation about fish that isn't true of sharks, there's a good chance that the original source was using fish to mean actinopterygii.

In many ways, it's a more useful classification - 96% of fish species are in actinopterygii, and there is an awful lot of anatomy that is shared by the actinopterygii but not by the rest of the fish. If you're going to exclude cetaceans because they have more in common with land animals than with actinopterygii then why not exclude lungfish and coelacanths for the same reason?

Comment author: DanielLC 08 July 2011 05:08:21AM 7 points [-]

I would say that if it is evil to kill a poor defenseless unborn baby, then murder should probably be defined to include abortion. The problem is when people say "It's evil to kill a poor defenseless baby because abortion is murder."

Comment author: po8crg 24 March 2012 01:56:31PM 14 points [-]

The problem is that it begs the question - using "unborn baby" defines it into the same ethical category as a born baby, different only in location. When you dig down enough, usually that's the point at dispute - is the thing growing in a womb entitled to rights in the manner of a (born) baby, or is it not so entitled.

There are some property-rights thinkers who do hold that it is the location that matters, i.e. the baby is trespassing on the mother's womb, and she's entitled to use deadly force to remove it, but that's not the usual argument.