Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Britain's defence review and the end of NATO
8 reasons why the UK SDR must not savage the military

Capitalism saved the Chilean miners
Psychobabble didn't

Judith Curry on the specific nature of IPCC overconfidence (part one)

My new favourite blog, Edward Feser with a brilliant analogy for humourless atheists
and a specific rebuttal to Stephen Law's 'God of Evil' argument
More succinctly, Kim Fabricius with twelve swift ripostes to atheists


  1. I've just recently discovered Edward Feser and he is an absolutely awesome writer and thinker...

  2. I dunno.

    We have the Roman Catholics with their precious darling Aquinas who is more important to them than Jesus.

    We have the Anglican Church and your Wittgenstein.

    We have the Evangelists with their presupposition and aggressive marketing psychology.

    We have the creationists and their "It's in the bible".

    We have Muslims picking and choosing whatever they find useful to justify their faith.

    And then we have life destroying political systems and institutions based upon some interpretation of the above and immunized from any criticism by theological waffle.

    It's all very depressing to this Atheist.

    I did like the link on psycho babble though. Psycho babble also depresses me.

  3. Unfortunately I think Edward’s got his analogy wrong. The evolution of western thought is less like some dumb movie trilogy, and more like, say, the evolution of the steam engine from the Roman war chariot.

    As it goes, the width of American railroad tracks are 56.5” inches wide; quite an odd number even by metric standard. The reason for that goes back to the width of the wheel base on the English horse and buggy (which were the first “vehicles” to ride on tracks). That in turn goes back to the wheel ruts left in roads paved by the Romans who occupied that territory prior. Since the Roman war chariots previously rutted the roads to such an extent, in order to use those roads the English had to build their buggies with a wheel base that fit the ruts. This finally gets us to the width of the Roman chariot, which was based solely on the width of the war horses ass.

    Somewhere there’s an anecdote associated with this that the width of the US space shuttle (particularly the main booster, in which case the rest of the design had to follow) was based completely on the width of the Roman war horses ass. In this case they couldn’t move certain parts by jet, so they had to go by train. In turn it had to be designed such that it could be transported in such a manner.

  4. Anyway, the point is that whereas the story is interesting, it’s not all together that relevant to what was then the current goal of getting to the moon. The best that can be said is that Roman engineering (or the underlying dogma of Roman engineering) put constraints on current projects. Ultimately, who cares how big the Roman war horses ass was, who cares about the Roman war chariot wheel bases, the English buggy, and all that stuff about train track widths. What’s that have to do with the fact that the current engineering problem is that we have to get part “A” to place “X”, and the only way we can do that is by train. That doesn’t suddenly make the historicity of the matter relevant. It’s merely representative of a particular sort of constraint on particular current project – knowing the history of the matter doesn’t change the engineering challenge necessarily.

  5. Aquinas may have really had some interesting things to say about religion and belief, but so what. What relevance do his tools play in the modern world? Sure enough his thoughts echo forward in much the same way as my previous anecdote, however the tracks of thought we’ve laid atop his (and atop thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle) are now the roads we’ve paved to solve different sorts of problems, with different sorts of ends. That we’re constrained to a certain degree by Platonic, Aquinian, or Aritotalian rhetoric is no different than being constrained by Roman engineering techniques. It’s simply a dogma we have to work around to solve current problems.
    Edward, I think, falsely assumes that the same problems Plato and Aquinas were dealing with are the same problems we’re still dealing with today. But that’s like saying (stawman warning) that the same problem the shuttle designers were facing was the same problem the Roman war chariot designers were facing. If you ask me, Edward is suffering from a bit of nostalgia, and he’s tugging and pulling on peoples movie love strings to draw you into some ridiculous point about the past.

  6. It was also capitalism that almost killed the miners in the first place.


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