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beam me up scottie

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Hometown: The Green Mountain State
Current location: Red state in the bible belt
Member since: Sun Oct 10, 2004, 08:05 PM
Number of posts: 57,349

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Excellent interview with the brilliant Daniel Dennett:

A philosopher’s lifelong quest to understand the making of the mind.
By Joshua Rothman

Four billion years ago, Earth was a lifeless place. Nothing struggled, thought, or wanted. Slowly, that changed. Seawater leached chemicals from rocks; near thermal vents, those chemicals jostled and combined. Some hit upon the trick of making copies of themselves that, in turn, made more copies. The replicating chains were caught in oily bubbles, which protected them and made replication easier; eventually, they began to venture out into the open sea. A new level of order had been achieved on Earth. Life had begun.

The tree of life grew, its branches stretching toward complexity. Organisms developed systems, subsystems, and sub-subsystems, layered in ever-deepening regression. They used these systems to anticipate their future and to change it. When they looked within, some found that they had selves—constellations of memories, ideas, and purposes that emerged from the systems inside. They experienced being alive and had thoughts about that experience. They developed language and used it to know themselves; they began to ask how they had been made.

This, to a first approximation, is the secular story of our creation. It has no single author; it’s been written collaboratively by scientists over the past few centuries. If, however, it could be said to belong to any single person, that person might be Daniel Dennett, a seventy-four-year-old philosopher who teaches at Tufts. In the course of forty years, and more than a dozen books, Dennett has endeavored to explain how a soulless world could have given rise to a soulful one. His special focus is the creation of the human mind. Into his own he has crammed nearly every related discipline: evolutionary biology, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence. His newest book, “From Bacteria to Bach and Back,” tells us, “There is a winding path leading through a jungle of science and philosophy, from the initial bland assumption that we people are physical objects, obeying the laws of physics, to an understanding of our conscious minds.”

Dennett has walked that path before. In “Consciousness Explained,” a 1991 best-seller, he described consciousness as something like the product of multiple, layered computer programs running on the hardware of the brain. Many readers felt that he had shown how the brain creates the soul. Others thought that he’d missed the point entirely. To them, the book was like a treatise on music that focussed exclusively on the physics of musical instruments. It left untouched the question of how a three-pound lump of neurons could come to possess a point of view, interiority, selfhood, consciousness—qualities that the rest of the material world lacks. These skeptics derided the book as “Consciousness Explained Away.” Nowadays, philosophers are divided into two camps. The physicalists believe, with Dennett, that science can explain consciousness in purely material terms. The dualists believe that science can uncover only half of the picture: it can’t explain what Nabokov called “the marvel of consciousness—that sudden window swinging open on a sunlit landscape amidst the night of non-being.”


Posted by beam me up scottie | Sat Mar 25, 2017, 05:06 PM (13 replies)

Bernie has been calling out Russia's influence in our election since last year.

In fact I actually posted links to those callouts for a poster just a few days ago when they said they hadn't noticed it. I was shocked that someone would be unaware of his criticism since it could easily be accessed by doing a simple search. I wonder if they ever bothered to read my post? Oh well, I added it to my journal for easy reference and will add this post too for people who are Google challenged.

I did another quick search and at the top of the page I found examples I omitted in my previous post:


Sanders: Investigate Trump Ties to Russia
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Wednesday asked the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the relationship between President Donald Trump and the Russian government.

“It is incumbent upon the Congress to take seriously its constitutional responsibilities. The American people must have confidence that governmental decisions reflect their interests, not that of a foreign government. A robust investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee is critical to restoring that confidence,” Sanders wrote in the letter to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the intelligence panel.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia played an active role in the 2016 election with the goal of electing Trump as president. Additionally, multiple media outlets reported last week that U.S. intelligence services have verified portions of a dossier that alleges that Russian agents hold damaging evidence about Trump’s past personal and business dealings that could possibly make Trump susceptible to blackmail.

There also have been reports that the Trump administration’s contacts with the Russian government are having both a chilling effect in the intelligence community and jeopardizing longstanding relationships with our allies.

“Throughout his campaign, and continuing to today, President Trump has refused to come clean with the American people about the nature and extent of his relationship with Russia,” Sanders wrote/.

“Every day that President Trump and his team dodge these questions, and every time their previous denials are revealed as false, that confidence is further diminished.”


My goodness that was easy. I love the Google.


Bernie will continue to be a thorn in Twitler's side and I applaud his efforts. He never stops fighting for all of us.

Go Bernie!

Posted by beam me up scottie | Thu Mar 23, 2017, 07:41 PM (2 replies)

Poll: What would you wear during the zombie apocalypse?

We are discussing this on Facebook and I think I would raid an outfitter's for close fitting, durable athletic wear made from breathable synthetics. Jeans are heavy which is good for protection but cotton absorbs sweat and doesn't dry very fast. I would also make sure most of my arms and all of my legs were covered so my skin would be protected from scratches and bites.

*Yes I know there are more important things to discuss but we can chew gum and walk at the same time. A pleasant diversion can be cathartic.
Posted by beam me up scottie | Mon Mar 20, 2017, 06:40 PM (71 replies)

That's a straw man, no one said or even implied that "all posts must focus on negative news"

Where you see "good news" I see thousands of years of oppression.

Where you see "good news" I see people burned at the stake for being heretics.

Where you see "good news" I see science and progress held back because of bronze age beliefs.

Where you see "good news" I see women and lgbt people still being persecuted because they weren't fortunate enough to be born straight males.


I will stop criticizing religion when it stays out of government, schools, politics and our wombs.

I will stop criticizing religion when religious believers stop trying to restrict other people's rights.

I will stop criticizing religion when people stop killing in the name of religion.

Until then religious people better get used to some pushback. We are fighting for our LIVES here, when our rights are threatened I think criticism of religion is more than warranted. I believe I have a right and an obligation to speak up. If that makes some people uncomfortable imagine how WE feel when we read about women dying because they don't have access to birth control and abortion. Imagine how WE feel when we read about yet ANOTHER honour killing. Imagine how WE feel when we read about yet another transgender woman beaten to death. Imagine how WE feel when we read about legislation being introduced to legalize discrimination against gay people. Imagine how WE feel when we see pictures of mass graves in the middle east.

You see good news, I see more suffering and death in the name of gods who, if they exist at best don't give a damn about their children and at worst fully approve of that suffering and death.

Posted by beam me up scottie | Mon Mar 20, 2017, 06:01 PM (2 replies)

Conservatives criticize Bernie all the time for his stance on health care.

When Bernie is pragmatic they call him a hypocrite, when he fights for 'unicorns' (aka Medicare for all) they call him a pie in the sky dreamer.

He's fighting for the ACA and reminding people that single payer universal healthcare is the goal - that's bound to piss off those who want to keep the profit in health care.

Progressives shouldn't pay any attention to conservative critics. I'm trying to follow Bernie's lead - focus on fighting the Republicans and ignore the distractions. There will always be a small group of angry haters following around every progressive politician, they're insignificant, like conservative gnats swarming around a liberal lion.

Stay positive and keep up the good work!

Posted by beam me up scottie | Mon Mar 20, 2017, 06:39 AM (2 replies)

I agree, the only people I know who think Bernie is a threat are Republicans.

I think it's fantastic that a certain liberal lion takes up so much room in conservatives trolls' heads they complain about him constantly. I love watching them lose their minds on the internet whenever his name is mentioned.

I also love that Bernie will be in the news again this week calling out Trump and excoriating the GOP. And the week after that. And the week after that. And the week after that. He really knows how to get under the skin of our enemies, you can tell just how effective he is by the loud squeals coming from their side.

He's still the most popular politician in the country because he's on the people's side, we know he's fighting for us, not shilling for special interests or taking millions from corporations to do their bidding in Washington. He's fighting to save the ACA but still advocating single payer universal health care - a reminder that it's possible to do both, fight for what we have now and still look to the future.

Bernie didn't give up on single payer universal healthcare because the healthcare industry paid him millions to back off. He didn't give up on us after our loss, if anything it energized him. He plays Trump by suggesting he's willing to work with him on jobs, health care and infrastructure but in reality he's reminding him of all the promises he's broken. Of course some stupid conservatives don't undestand that, they actually think Bernie wants to work with Trump - even after Bernie repeatedly called him a fraud and a pathological liar and often mocks him. I love watching him troll Trump on social media.

I'm glad Al Franken is in the fight, too. We need every one of our representatives to call out corruption wherever they see it - that's something else Bernie has been doing for decades - even though it ruffled the feathers of bought and paid for politicians and their fan clubs. When a politician isn't afraid to call out corruption wherever it is you know they're loyal to the people, not parties or special interests.

We are very fortunate to have Bernie and Keith and Al and Elizabeth and other progressives fighting for us in Washington. Of course no one is perfect and it's easy to dig up dirt to make any of them look like they're hypocrites, the right has been doing a good job of that - pointing out their flaws and insinuating they're dishonest - but that's only right wing pundits and trolls, no same person would ever question these politicians' loyalty to their constituents or country. One would have to be a fool not to recognize all of their contributions or to try to use praise for one to insult another. Thankfully we're all liberals here and no one would ever be that petty.

But how about that Bernie - you can always count on him to fight for us and to piss off the right people.

Posted by beam me up scottie | Mon Mar 20, 2017, 05:14 AM (2 replies)

That's your opinion. I'll defer to scientists if you don't mind.

Conflating religious belief with science is a faulty logic. Evolution does not require belief, it is an easily proven theory. Belief in gods requires you to have faith in what cannot be proved.

Evolution is a Fact and a Theory
by Laurence Moran

When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of the observed changes... how did evolution occur? Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution. Stephen J. Gould has put this as well as anyone else:

In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"--part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science--that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."

Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.

Moreover, "fact" doesn't mean "absolute certainty"; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory--natural selection--to explain the mechanism of evolution.

- Stephen J. Gould, " Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981


Posted by beam me up scottie | Sun Mar 19, 2017, 08:00 PM (1 replies)

Interesting that you would post an article from American Atheists in here.

Are you aware of how they define atheism?

Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as "a belief that there is no God." ... Clearly, theistic influence taints dictionaries.

A lack of belief in gods. I wonder why you refuse to accept that definition?

Also from their website:

What is Atheism?

Home > Activism > Resources > What is Atheism?
Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Some dictionaries even go so far as to define Atheism as “wickedness,” “sinfulness,” and other derogatory adjectives. Clearly, theistic influence taints dictionaries. People cannot trust these dictionaries to define atheism. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

Why should atheists allow theists to define who atheists are? Do other minorities allow the majority to define their character, views, and opinions? No, they do not. So why does everyone expect atheists to lie down and accept the definition placed upon them by the world’s theists? Atheists will define themselves.


Posted by beam me up scottie | Sun Mar 19, 2017, 07:49 PM (1 replies)
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