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The Value of Value March 6, 2012

Posted by Ian in Miscellaneous, Morality.
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One thing I am increasingly coming to realise is that so much of human interaction rests on the notions of value.  In this post I am going to explore the origin of values in the labelling of things and how seeing the world from an external point of view can totally change your view on life. (more…)

The Facts about Homeopathy January 23, 2012

Posted by Ian in Pseudoscience.
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I was shocked to see a recent UMR pole suggesting that 51% of people think homeopathy is “scientifically proven” [source].  I’d expect a number like that if the question was something like “can have a positive effect” but “scientifically proven” is much more concerning.

In the interest of making the reality more widely known, in this post I’d like to clarify some of the facts about homeopathy in case anyone reading this isn’t aware.  This post is not about whether it works or not (although in my opinion it is nonsense) but simply to clarify what it actually is.

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Wow… incredible video. December 14, 2011

Posted by Ian in Uncategorized.
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Youtube has a lot of crap on it but it’s worth it when you get the chance to see things like this.  I’ve always been a fan of Billy Connolly but this video just blew me away in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time.  The video is Connolly’s wife (a psychologist) interviewing him about some fairly profound things.  I find myself relating deeply to his way of thinking and yet at the same time thinking how utterly different his upbringing and life experiences have been to mine.

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Empty cultural norms June 29, 2011

Posted by Ian in Morality.
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I’ve realised for a while now that the notion of being or giving insult is an utterly bizarre idea with nothing behind it except habit.  A natural extension of this is realising that a number of things we take for granted as being both necessary and good in society are equally empty, particularly including manners and apologising.  I also think there is an analogy between religion and these concepts.

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Fearing the Consequences of Relative Morality May 1, 2011

Posted by Ian in Morality.
5 comments

There seems to be a common argument against relative (or non-objective) morality which basically involves saying it is wrong because if it was true it would be chaotic or bad or somehow different to what we see around us.  One almost gets a sense from some arguments like this that it is something to be afraid of. (more…)

Science and Morality April 12, 2011

Posted by Ian in Morality.
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Sam Harris’s book and recent debate with William Lane Craig have re-opened my thinking on moral evaluation and I have come to realise there seems to be a substantial “blind spot” in this discussion. (more…)

Godless PMs Down Under March 16, 2011

Posted by Ian in Religion.
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I probably just missed the buzz (if any) about this when Gillard became PM over the ditch but I hadn’t realised she was openly atheistic.  Below is an interesting video of her discussing some aspects of this. (more…)

Where is church in the bible? March 4, 2011

Posted by Ian in Religion.
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The bible is often referred to as the “instruction manual for life” (and numerous other similar phrases) and today over lunch it occurred to me that the bible should be fairly clear about the one act that is almost definitively Christian – going to church.

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Why 2 minutes silence? March 1, 2011

Posted by Ian in Miscellaneous.
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The PM has called for 2 minutes silence at 12:51pm today for the Canterbury earthquake and a great many organisations are heeding the call including TV stations and universities among many others.   (more…)

The disconnect February 22, 2011

Posted by Ian in Miscellaneous.
7 comments

I’ve been watching quite a few documentaries recently and it strikes me that a lot of things my generation take for granted as well entrenched modern ideas have not been that way very long at all.  Consider the following very short list of examples:

  1. Less than 200 years ago washing hands and equipment before surgery was a laughable concept
  2. Less than 100 years ago a large empire collapsed (the Ottomans)
  3. Less than 60 years ago there were no satellites in space
  4. Less than 60 years ago a person was hung for murder in New Zealand
  5. Less than 50 years ago there had never been a successful heart transplant
  6. Less than 50 years ago New Zealand used pounds and shilling

I don’t know about other people but I feel very disconnected from those events despite them being very recent history.  I suspect this disconnect is a function of the pace of technological change but regardless I find it quite fascinating.

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