Friday, November 18, 2022

Deconstructing Jordan Peterson on Religion

The commentator expresses frustrations with Jordan Peterson which I share.   Peterson becomes extremely evasive on the topic of religion and tends to obfuscate his answers.   If he wants to be non-committal then I would be okay with that, as it would be perfectly fine for him to say that he doesn't know, but he tends to jump all over the place.  It feels like he over-analyzes.  I am guessing that he looks at all topics from a psychological perspective, and his concept of truth seems to be based on how it affects us psychologically.  

This seems like a relativistic point of view, where truth is subjective.  To some extent, truth is going to be subjective because we can't perceive everything, but beyond our subjective viewpoint, there is an absolute truth regardless of whether we can perceive it.

Thursday, August 18, 2022


It is my casual observation, not that I have done any kind of study on this, that people are more likely now to believe in things that are not true.  I could be wrong because maybe people have always believed in untrue things, but it feels like now we are in an epidemic of delusional thinking.  I have a few theories about why this is, which I will get to below.

I am not going to get much into specifics, because there is a wide range of opinions about what is true.  However, the pandemic seemed to bring out the craziness in some people. Regarding the pandemic, I hear questionable claims, if not outright lies frequently.  

If we want to know the truth, we have to try very hard to remain objective.  There is a difference between opinion and fact, and likewise a difference between anecdotal evidence and fact.  Whenever possible, I try to find the relevant scientific studies, which are often available on the Internet.  I am more likely to find articles talking about scientific studies, and sometimes these contain links to the actual studies, but if not, usually the studies can be found with a Google search.
I think that most people have a need to feel special.  A person could be a fireman and that would be something that makes that person special.  For this reason, I think that people get very emotionally tied to their belief systems because those beliefs help make people who they are.  Then we get into confirmation bias, where people have a natural tendency to accept things as true that already agree with their opinion.  Therefore, it is very hard to change someone's opinion because their belief is closely tied to their identity.

Social media may have hindered normal human social interaction, which tends to naturally correct aberrant behavior and thought.  People interact less than they did before in person, and more online.  If you have weird beliefs, you can find plenty of people on the Internet who agree with you and support your way of thinking.  

Some social media places like Twitter seem inherently toxic with many bad actors on those platforms.

Having a worldwide existential threat puts a strain on people's ability to think rationally.  There is a strong tendency to demonize other people, which is worse now than it has ever been in my lifetime.  People on all sides are calling for the imprisonment of their political enemies, if not threats of violence and murder.  This is where people need to step back and try to have some perspective.  Things may be difficult now, but we have it far better than the generations that came before us.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


As far back as history has recorded, human beings for the most part have had to struggle every day just to get barely enough to eat and survive.  People led uncomfortable and difficult lives.  Mortality was high.  Things started changing in the late 1700s thanks to the Industrial Revolution, first in England and then in the United States.

People now think that crises happen on Twitter and Tik-Tok.  They make heroes out of movie stars and pop singers for singing controversial lyrics.  The real heroes stormed the beaches of Normandy and ran into the Twin Towers never to be seen again.

We are so pampered that we fret over things that would seem insane even to my parent's generation, who came out of The Great Depression and World War II.

It is time to have some perspective.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Orville: Immortality, Transhumanism, God and The Human Soul

The video seems to be reading a lot into a gimmicky science-fiction-babble ending. Although I disagree with the spiritual conclusion of the video, I agree that we shouldn't abandon our humanity or our human characteristics.

I have predicted that over time we will incorporate technology into us.  I claimed that eventually we might get replaced by the technology we create.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Live train accident

I have to wonder about people's common sense?   My entire philosophy of life is to not do stupid stuff.  In other words, don't take unnecessary risks.  People die from accidents all the time.  I would rather not be a statistic.

Monday, May 2, 2022

3 AWFUL Habits That Make People Instantly Dislike You

I think that this advice can be summed up as you should make other people feel involved and appreciated.

I saw another video that claimed that the way you gain confidence is to practice.  This odd advice might not seem applicable to most things, but I think that it is.   I would not be confident making a speech or in an awkward social situation, but I am pretty confident over a chessboard.  However, if I had spent 47 years making speeches then I most likely would be reasonably competent at it. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Fascinating Facts About The Amish That Few People Know - Past Chronicles

In the 1980s, I met one Amish young man.  Somewhere between Scottsburg and Salem Indiana, there is a community of them, and I was living in Scottsburg at the time.  I only on rare occasions drove to Salem, and yet I managed to see their buggies on the road along the way.

I think that this young man may have taken a job in Scottsburg.  I think that the Amish sometimes do this to make ends meet.  

A had a casual conversation with the young man and my impression was not favorable.  He didn't seem to know hardly anything.  He was also waiting for someone to drive him home in a vehicle, oddly enough.  Maybe it is okay since he wasn't the driver.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Fwd: Matt Walsh Comments


---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John Coffey 

On Sat, Mar 12, 2022 at 5:17 AM Larry wrote:
I'm sure you and I would disagree with Matt on one or two of his comments, but interesting discussion none the less...

On Sat, Mar 12, 2022 John Coffey wrote:

Often I see things about which I feel a need to express myself.  This is kind of a trap because I put much care into my response.  If I'm going to write something, I feel a need to write as well as I can, which takes much time.

Thanks for sharing.

My first reaction is to think that Matt is being hypocritical because of scriptures where Jesus says to turn the other cheek and resist not evil.  Matt tells the viewer to read the scriptures, but in my opinion, the Bible can lead to many contradictory beliefs, with the Old Testament being one of the more evil books ever written.

Putting my opinion on the Bible aside, it is hardly justifiable to kill someone over an insult.  I'm sure that was not the intent, but I've seen videos where people have talked about how fighting can lead to unintentional death, so the advice is to not fight.  Do I think that it is justifiable to fight given sufficient provocation?  Yes, if I feel threatened, but there might be better ways to handle it.  Run away.  Contact someone in authority.

I feel the whole thing about the victim being a child predator adds emotional language to this.  This person was likely a scumbag, but may have been mentally ill and did not deserve to die.  There should be consequences to killing someone.  I'm sympathetic to the sentence but maybe it was too light.  It sends a message that there is less consequence to violence or manslaughter if a racial slur is involved, or if the person killed is a bad person.

I'm concerned about the deterioration of society.  I feel more need to protect myself.  Given the riots that we saw over the last two years, I could see a rioter attacking either me or my family over perceived injustice.  My grandfather was dragged from his car and beaten by rioters in the Detroit area.  I'm not sure of the date, but probably 1967.


Thursday, March 3, 2022

My Facebook post from 3 years ago.

I see a danger to the future existence of the human race, and it is the kind of thing that people should think about and prepare for now. Sometime in the next 50 years, machines will be smarter than people. There are major technical hurdles to overcome, such as the inevitable end of Moore's Law, which probably means that it is not right around the corner or even within the next couple of decades, but it will happen, and easily within this century. And if for some reason it does happen within the next couple of decades then that means the results will be upon us that much sooner.
We can predict what will happen next and follow it to its logical conclusion, which is a future without people.
As machines become smarter, people will become increasingly reliant on technology. We can see that already with smartphones, which only have been with us for barely over a decade. Eventually, machines will do all the heavy mental work, which will make our lives easier, but also make us more dependent.
And since we will be so dependent on the machines, we will start incorporating them into us. This will evolve over time until we are no longer purely human, but human-machine hybrids. Perhaps when your biological brain dies, the machine part of you will be able to continue with all your memories intact. Maybe it would have an artificial body or maybe it will exist in a virtual world. It is likely that some would prefer to live in a virtual world where they can do more things than they could in the real world. Taken to the eventual extreme, our descendants would no longer bother with biological bodies and prefer to exist as machine intelligences either in the real world or in virtual ones.
The evolutionary pressure will be against purely biological people. Having machines incorporated into you will make you more productive, competitive, and increase your quality of life.
The future I describe might be long distant, but if it is not the future we want for the human race then we should start thinking about it now. Maybe we could have a Pure Human movement that would prohibit the merging of machine intelligence with human intelligence? This could be roughly analogous to the current legal ban on human cloning, because we very likely have the technology right now to clone humans, but countries ban it because they are uneasy about the implications of where that might take us.
However, we might not be able to prevent it. Linking machines with human intelligence is likely to happen in such small steps that we will easily adjust to it. It is sort of happening already with our dependence on computers. It could also start as a series of military applications where having the most effective soldiers determines who wins the wars. And once the genie is out of the bottle, we will never get it back in.
Best wishes,
John Coffey

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Jordan Peterson - Your Life Is Built For More

I am surprised at how many ideas Jordan Peterson can bring to a single conversation.  He speaks at such a high intellectual level that it takes attention to keep up.

Apparently, I can listen to him for a long time.  I thought that maybe the first hour would be the best part, but the second hour is very good too.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Meaning of Life | Philip Goff and Lex Fridman

It is an emergent property of human beings that they have multiple needs, maybe too many to count.  The meaning of life is to balance these needs because obviously, we can't have everything we want. 

I have always felt that the meaning of life was to find a purpose because most of us need to have purpose.  "The two most important days of your life are when you are born and when you find out why." - Mark Twain.

I have no idea what this guy is talking about...

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Mathematical Challenges to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Larry wrote:

>You'll probably find this discussion to be garbage, but I think you will enjoy the discussion, the discussion style, and the men involved....

If I were a believer in creationism I would probably take this argument as definitive proof.

The claim is that the chance of producing a useful protein is around 10 to the 77nth power, making it too improbable.  I was going to make the following points:

"The fallacy here is obvious. Gelernter assumes there is a useful, pre-specified target protein that must be reached from a "nonsense" sequence of amino acids. Then he multiplies together the small probabilities needed to convert each amino acid in the starting "gibberish protein" into the ones in the final target. The resulting probability is so minuscule that, he concludes, the Darwinian evolution of useful proteins is impossible.

This argument rests on several big errors. First, evolution doesn't start with "gibberish proteins"; it continues with what it had before: useful proteins that evolved via natural selection from earlier sequences, but can still improve further. Second, evolution doesn't drive proteins toward pre-specified target sequences. All that's required for evolution to work is a mutation changing a gene (and its protein product) in such a way that the new gene leaves more copies than its antecedent. It's an incremental form of improvement, not a narrowing-in on a specified target.

In fact, we have plenty of examples, in our species and others, in which a small change in an existing protein leads to a better protein."

Even if you could make the argument that this is extremely improbable, there are 10^25 estimated planets in the Universe.  One of these could produce intelligent life that remarks on how unlikely their existence is.  We could be the only one, although I very much doubt it.  I think that the natural forces that produced us are likely to be found everywhere in the universe.

I shouldn't need to mention this since it is obvious, but we have seen the rapid evolution of the COVID virus.

It is a fallacy to say that evolution occurs gradually.  It is my understanding that modern theory claims that evolution occurs in spurts, usually in response to environmental changes.

The simplest argument for evolution goes like this:

1. The Earth is very old.

2.  Simpler organisms came before more complex ones.

3.  Therefore the complex organisms came from the simpler ones.

For 40 years I have seen arguments about why the Theory of Evolution couldn't happen, but the fact is that we know that it did happen.  It is history.  Otherwise, you would have to assume Divine Intervention every step along the way, which would still be evolution by a different means.  However, science isn't in the business of supernatural explanations.  We can leave that job to the philosophers.  Science is in the business of explaining natural causes.

One argument that I have heard is that there hasn't been enough time for all the genetic changes to accumulate in us.  This argument ignores that massive parallelism that occurs in evolution where we all might have up to billions of human ancestors.  Combinations of genes that didn't work died off, leaving the combinations that did work.  Roughly half of all pregnancies spontaneously abort before the mother knows that she is pregnant.  This is one way nature eliminates bad genetic combinations.

I was skeptical about evolution until I became a Biology major.  I studied and dissected enough animals to understand how similar we are on the inside.  The biggest differences are morphological.