Kids, can you say epistemology?

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Blaise Pascal

Zen kōans (similar to parables) are notoriously hard to source, but the “stick” theme is common. This “stick kōan” about accepting reality is of unknown provenance, but it makes its point: The master held out a large bamboo stick and asked the student “Is this stick real?” The student, trying to show his superior understanding, replied, “How can we know… Read more »

Betting your life on “The Truth”

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Junction

One of the unnecessary tragedies arising from the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, a documented QAnon conspiracy theorist. Ms. Babbitt was the first to enter through a glass door into the secured House Speaker’s Lobby, which had been smashed by her fellow insurgents. Capitol police assigned to protect the U.S. “line… Read more »

When the Confederate flag is marched through the U.S. Capitol

Trumpist goons.

It has always been about people’s perceived position in the racial/socioeconomic hierarchy that they helped to create. Here is a quote from a person involved in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021: “This is not America,” a woman said to a small group, her voice shaking. “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM [note:… Read more »

Learning to chill on the Defense budget

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U.S. Defense Spending compared

Simultaneously refusing to extend financial aid to the teetering economic bottom of the U.S. populace, the Senate voted a New Year’s Eve bi-partisan override of President Trump’s veto of the $741 billion defense authorization bill. This bill always sets me off for its size, its over-extended purpose and its embedded corruption, but this year I have decided to take a… Read more »

When your coronavirus theology kills people

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Perhaps there are two kinds of normal people…There are those who don’t believe in free will and thereby don’t have free will, and there are those who do believe in free will and thereby actually have free will. ” Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves. I will be upfront about my definition of “bad theology” here: Bad theology is a belief system… Read more »

My favorite Christmas (anti) carol

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Baby Jesus

I am not known to be a great sentimentalist about Christmas. There is one “carol” that I do like to play this time every year, however, which is a based on a poem by John Pole about a homeless newborn child, called “Anti-Carol.” The best-known version of this was recorded acapella in a strong Cockney accent by British folksinger Frankie… Read more »

The moral conversation around coronavirus vaccine priorities

Who Am I?

It did not take long for the difficult moral questions around who gets the Covid-19 vaccination first to get ugly. At Stanford University an algorithm for distributing the vaccine prioritized older doctors working remotely over young interns and residents who are in daily contact with Covid patients, resulting in a public shaming demonstration. After the bad public attention, the university… Read more »

Probability, uncertainty and inanity with the coronavirus

Bayes theorem

The very bad polling outcomes from the 2020 U.S presidential election pointed out the key differences between two often-confused topics. Pre-election polls are measured in percentages and look like probabilities, but they are really trying to quantify uncertainty, and there is a very big difference between the two that the public largely does not understand. The same confusion has bled… Read more »