Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fuzzy Logic

The world is a very weird place and I am so far outside the mainstream I don’t think I can even see the lunatic fringe from my vantage point. As an example I am an anti theist, I actively campaign against religion and spirituality in all forms. The magical thinking is horrible for society and prevents almost all forms of progress. To me the moron chanting with crystals and the preacher condemning gay marriage are equal in their damage. They both promote a belief for which there is no evidence and this is dangerous to all of us. It perpetuates the concept that there are two sides to every story , that all points of view are deserving of equal respect and that is simply a fantasy.
These fantasies lead to a world in which all the candidates for the highest office in my government feel that being bigots is perfectly acceptable because of their religion. This is particularly disturbing in the case of Barack Obama, the man certain to be the democratic parties nominee, as his only qualification it seems is his claim to be a constitutional scholar. How does one become a constitutional scholar without reading one of the seminal court decisions of the 20th century. I am referring to Brown vs. board of education that struck down the terrible practice of Jim Crow and made the concept that separate but equal can never be equal the law of the land here in the U.S. Now because of his religious hatred he states that it is fine for the gays and lesbians among us to be consigned to the ghetto of domestic partnerships because god said it was icky and the rest of the ignorant horde that have the same imaginary friend know in their hearts that this is the way it should be. Sad what passes for scholarship in today’s world.
This acceptance without evidence infects all aspects of our society. The right constantly touts the free market as a solution to the worlds ills with no evidence that it has ever worked to solve any problem. To the contrary all evidence points to the conclusion that the unregulated market is a disaster. I have issued this challenge in the past and offer it again to the Ayn Rand lovers out there, show me an example of the free market solving a problem without government intervention, just one bit of evidence will suffice. I can sight countless examples of the reverse. The California power crisis artificially created from deregulation, the lack of media scrutiny leading to the criminal war in Iraq created by media consolidation as a result of deregulation. The current foreclosure crisis in housing is a direct result of banking deregulation. I can go on but as Einstein once said when confronted with the book “100 authors against Einstein” , responded , “If they were correct it would only have taken one.”
Science and reason do not have all the details but that is not an excuse to make up the answer. We will probably never know the details of life’s origins on earth. We already know the mechanism for the progression but how the first single cell was organized is at this point unknowable because the data is not retrievable. There are a lot of really clever people out there but the fossil record is periodically wiped clean by natural forces so I hold out little hope it will happen.
This is a problem with cosmology as well. There is a time in the history of the Universe that may remain forever outside of our ability to collect data as it is obscured from observation. The difference between the scientific speculations put forth in the String and M theories and the god did it nonsense is that the scientists/philosophers, until they develop a way to test it String theory for me remains philosophy, is evidence as a starting point. There is no I repeat no evidence for the existence of the supernatural but there is particle physics supporting the jumping off point of the String.
Speaking of hanging on by a thread we have the non overlapping magisterial nonsense put forth by Gould.In an attempt to appease the imaginary friend set the idea that science and religion looked at different things and so were not contradictory that religion shouldn’t be subjected to scrutiny because by its definition it requires faith. Sorry but what a load of crap. Since there is no evidence that this realm of the spiritual exists once again it is only harmful to perpetuate it. Christopher Hitchens, a rather loathsome man said it much better than I in the subtitle to his book, “How religion poisons everything.”
I have become fascinated by the argument over free will and whether or not we live in a deterministic universe with all future actions predicted by initial conditions. For me it started when I read “Foundation”by Asimov in which the mathematician Harry Seldon does the math and predicts future history. Then I took physics and came up against Heisenberg and probability waves and observational effects and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics. Libet’s work seemed to answer the question when he showed that the brain is already sending the impulse to act before we are even aware that we have made the decision to act but the question remains open and we are w2ith the help of functional MRI learning more about the function of the brain and the illusion of free will may still become a reality but it will happen with evidence and the persistence of superstition only hampers that investigation.
In conclusion if you are religious and this offends you good. If you have some evidence for your garbage feel free to put it forth otherwise grow up and put your imaginary friend away and join me in the real universe. The actual explanation for the lights in the sky is so much more interesting that the nonsense that god put them there I think you will enjoy it.

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