Friday, August 13, 2021

Determining truth

If a person were to say that he had a UFO that was going to take people to a paradise on Neptune, then there would be people who would believe this and follow him. I know this because this kind of thing has happened. Usually, the crazier the claim, the more eager people are to believe it. This is how you end up with Jim Jones convincing his followers to kill themselves.

People, in general, have a defect in their logical thinking called Confirmation Bias. If something fits with what a person already believes or wants to believe, then that person will take this new information as gospel. For this reason, you can't really determine the truth unless you are willing to question everything you know.
To determine if something is true, it must also be falsifiable, which is a fancy way of saying that it must be testable. For example, I could say that there is a parallel dimension where Leprechauns exist, but if we have no way of detecting this dimension then we have no way of determining if it is true. I could speculate all day about Leprechauns, but it would be meaningless.

I would have thought that a worldwide deadly pandemic would have brought us all together and unified our thinking somewhat. Actually, the reverse has happened and we have never been more splintered. In response to a youtube video emphasizing the need to vaccinate, the vast majority of comments in the comment section were anti-vaccine. The comment ranked most popular, claimed that a rare blood clot that happens in one out of million vaccinations proves that the vaccine is unsafe. The dumbest comment I saw claimed that the vaccine causes the disease.

Another almost universal human defect is that people overestimate their own competency. People who know very little about biology, or virology, think that they are experts on the subject.

Friends have sent me incredibly wild claims about COVID-19 vaccinations. There are no microchips. It is not going to permanently rewrite your DNA. It is not going to damage your organs. It is not going to cause infertility or miscarriages. You can't pass the spike proteins to other people. It is not the Mark of the Beast. Every single anti-vax claim that has ever been made, including the ones about the COVID-19 vaccines, has been disproven.

These vaccines are no longer experimental. They passed all three phase trials, and hundreds of millions of doses later we have a pretty good safety record.

The bottom line is that there is a minuscule risk with any vaccine. Your risk of catching COVID and having serious illness or death is far greater. The COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly successful at lowering the risk of illness, and are almost 100% effective at preventing death from COVID.

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Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Who Gets To Decide the Truth? – Reason.com

But an objective observer would probably not have said that the Europe of the late medieval period was better organized or more advanced than the Europe of the Roman Empire at its height. In the year 1500, alien visitors might reasonably have pegged Homo sapiens as a stuck species. "Come back in another 100,000 years," they might have concluded, "and maybe these goofballs will be interesting."


People, Smith argued, come into the world equipped with what he called sympathy, or fellow-feeling; empathy is the word we might use today. We have a natural inclination to imagine how others see and feel, and to align our own perspectives and dispositions with theirs. Also, people come equipped with a desire to be trusted and respected by others. Through our desire for mutual esteem based on our empathetic intuitions, we can align our interests and form social bonds on a basis other than force or domination. True, human beings are also greedy and ambitious. Yet—here is Smith's most famous insight—a well-structured social order can harness those very traits to promote activity which benefits ourselves by benefiting others. If we get the rules right, millions of people of every imaginable skill and temperament and nationality can cooperate to build a fantastically complex device like a Prius or iPhone, all without the oversight or instruction of any central planner. If we get the rules right.

Smith's proposition seemed ridiculous, given that human history through his time was soaked in blood and oppression. His claim was redeemed only by the fact that it proved to be true. Although Smith did not invent markets, he notated the code which enabled a tribal primate, wired for personal relationships in small, usually related groups, to cooperate impersonally across unbounded networks of strangers, and to do so without any central authority organizing markets and issuing commands. Economic liberalism—market cooperation—is a species-transforming piece of social software, one which enables us to function far above our designed capacity.




The first is the idea of natural rights: fundamental rules that apply to all persons from birth to death—rules that all other persons and also sovereigns and governments are bound to respect, and which are to be respected impersonally and reciprocally. Because they are natural, these rights inhere in human nature and are present in the state of nature. They provide a built-in limiting principle to the war of all against all. For Locke, the fundamental rights are life, liberty, and property (meaning not just material property but authority over one's own body and conscience). Because rights are inborn rather than earned by merit or conferred by social position, they inhere equally. Individuals are always equal in their fundamental rights, even as they differ in countless other ways.

A second foundational principle is rule by consent. Governments are not instituted by divine authority to rule the people; they are instituted by the people to enforce natural rights. If governments exceed their authority or use it to violate the people's rights, Locke argued, they lose their claim to govern and may rightly be replaced. Government is sovereign within its grant of power, but the ultimate sovereignty belongs to the governed.

Third, toleration. Religious differences had torn Europe apart, in good measure because the combatants assumed that if one religion is true, then others must be false. 

https://reason.com/2021/07/24/who-gets-to-decide-the-truth/?itm_source=parsely-api

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Why I Left The Mormon Church - YouTube

In response to ...

https://youtu.be/aTMsfOcHiJg

I wrote...

If all but one of the religions are false and made up by the priests, then why not all of them? (Paraphrasing Carl Sagan.)
 
We live in a Universe with (likely) trillions of galaxies and hundreds of billions of stars and planets per galaxy, but we live on God's chosen planet. He has a plan for us specifically. Unlike the millions of alien species (likely) out there somewhere, we alone were made in God's image.


Luke Pead wrote:

I left the Mormon church pretty early on in my life due to my other family members leaving. Due to this early exit, I can say that my experience was no where close to being as painful as others'. Yet, over the course of that time I was able to observe my parents, siblings and even some friend's experiences with leaving the church. So here is what saw. There is an extremely a tight wound community in Mormonism. This community maintains its unity through shared belief. There are so many subtle bits of indoctrination woven into everyone's minds that build a shared framework for how to perceive reality. The result is that nearly everyone processes information in a very similar manner. Individuality is lost in a sea shared thinking. So what happens if someone decides to leave? Their understanding of themselves was entirely defined by the church so after they leave, they lose that. For most people it takes years for them to find themselves. Re-building your entire way of thinking is no small task. Yet, in this process they begin to notice how Mormonism may have held them back. Now this is where the common experience diverges. Do they chose to live the rest of their life holding onto this hate towards the church? Or do they embrace this new person that they have just become and begin to unravel the mystery of the universe.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

There's a Hole at the Bottom of Math - YouTube

The first three minutes of this video talk about "The Game of Life."  This computer simulation was very popular in the early days of computing with the first personal computers going all the way back to 1975 when I first saw it.  Since early computers weren't capable of much of anything, this computer simulation was an interesting program that could be run on primitive computers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeQX2HjkcNo&t=46s

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Horrifying History of Hell

I don't share this with many people because I don't want to create conflict over religion.

From what I can tell from my studies more than 40 years ago, the Bible hardly mentions Hell.  There is a parable by Jesus, and a brief reference in the Book of Revelations to the Lake of Fire saying that the Devil will be cast into it.  The concept of Hell doesn't seem to be part of the Old Testament religion, and the Bible never refers to it as Hell nor does it say that people will go there for all eternity.  The belief in Hell is more due to tradition, and many concepts found in Abrahamic religions seem to have been influenced by their Middle Eastern neighbors, like the Egyptians, the Persians, and the Babylonians.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNh6UWTG5YY

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Amish Facts: These Amazing Facts Will Teach You More About Their Culture

https://definition.org/amazing-facts-amish-will-make-appreciate-culture/22/

According to this article, the Amish population in the United States has increased rather dramatically to about 300,000.  I find this number surprising because it means that roughly one in a thousand people in the United States is of the Amish faith.  

There is or was a community of Amish people living somewhere between Scottsburg and Salem, Indiana.  I was born in Salem.  When I lived in Scottsburg back in the 1980s, I saw some of them in a buggy while driving to Salem, even though I didn't take that trip very often.  I would on rare occasion see a few of them in Scottsburg, and I met and talked with an Amish young man in the mid-1980s.   My impression of him was not very favorable.  He seemed to me to be remarkably ignorant, but I assume that his faith does not encourage knowledge beyond what he needs for life in his community.  Because of this, I feel like his faith is repressive, although he no doubt chooses that lifestyle.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Fwd: Systems

As I posted this to Facebook I touched up the working a little and added a sentence to the end.

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John Coffey <
Date: Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 10:54 PM
Subject: Systems
To:

The "Solar System" is a "system" consisting of at least eight planets, many dwarf planets, dozens of moons, millions of asteroids and comets, all bound together by the gravity of a large central star.

The Milky Way Galaxy is a system of up to 400 billion stars, stellar nurseries, rotating arms, and a large black hole in the middle that helps hold everything together, again with gravity. Our galaxy is so large with such a large gravitational attraction that it has 1 or 2 other smaller galaxies that orbit around it, and these together also form a system. Groups of galaxies form Galactic Clusters where their mutual gravitational attraction binds them together. The entire universe consists of spiderweb-like strings of galaxies formed theoretically by Dark Matter.

A single atom is also a system, consisting of a large electron cloud bound to a small central nucleus by the electromagnetic force. The nucleus is also a system consisting of protons and neutrons held together by the strong nuclear force, but each of these is a system consisting of three quarks held together also by the strong nuclear force. Groups of atoms form molecules, held together by the electromagnetic force. Large groups of like molecules and atoms form chemicals, coalescing into substances, and these can be combined in different ways to make the materials that everything is made out of.

Your body consists of many different systems working in tandem, but each cell is a very complex system by itself, like a microscopic chemical factory.

The planet Earth also consists of many different systems keeping the whole thing going.

With so many systems from the supergalactic to the subatomic, it gives the impression that there is some sort of design behind it all. It could be that it is just the emergent property of matter and energy along with the laws of physics to form more complex systems.

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Systems

The "Solar System" is a "system" consisting of at least eight planets, many dwarf planets, dozens of moons, millions of asteroids and comets, all bound together by the gravity of a large central star.

The Milky Way Galaxy is a system of up to 400 billion stars, stellar nurseries, rotating arms, and a large black hole in the middle that helps hold everything together, again with gravity.  Our galaxy is so large with such a large gravitational attraction that it has 1 or 2 other smaller galaxies that orbit around it, and these together also form a system.  Groups of galaxies form Galactic Clusters where their mutual gravitational attraction binds them together.  The entire universe consists of spiderweb-like strings of galaxies joined theoretically by Dark Matter.

A single atom is also a system, consisting of a large electron cloud bound to a small central nucleus by the electromagnetic force.  The nucleus is also a system consisting of protons and neutrons held together by the strong nuclear force, but each of these is a system consisting of three quarks held together also by the strong nuclear force.  Groups of atoms form molecules, held together by the electromagnetic force.  Large groups of like molecules and atoms form chemicals, coalescing into substances, and these can be combined in different ways to make the materials that everything is made out of.

Your body consists of many different systems working in tandem, but each cell is a very complex system by itself, like a microscopic chemical factory.

The planet Earth also consists of many different systems keeping the whole thing going.

With so many systems from the supergalactic to the subatomic, it gives the impression that there is some sort of design behind it all.

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