Category Archives: Volition

Worth a read: Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek

Fundamentals

I still remember the classic picture of the atom from my Michigan high school physics class, about the same time MIT professor Frank Wilczek was in a similar class in New York City in the late 1960s. Called the Rutherford model, that atom was pictured as a miniature solar system. with electron “planets” revolving around a sun-like nucleus, which was… Read more »

Minneapolis: When two things are simultaneously true

Privilege

These two statements, I assert, can be simultaneously true: I want to live in a secure society. I want to live in a free society. And most of the time, for most of us (cough, cough, middle-class white Americans), these two statements rest comfortably together in our heads as our view of “the real America.” I feel free to leave… Read more »

Betting against the house on the Covid vaccines

Slot machines

“You have a greater chance of being in a car accident on the way to getting this vaccine than you have of having a problem from this vaccine. But that’s not how people view risk.” — Paul Offit, vaccine expert at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Maybe it is because I do not seem to have a gambling gene in my body…. Read more »

Beware the modern-day Gnostics

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Irenaeus

Most people know what an agnostic is, but fewer know much about the people at the root of that word, the Gnostics (without the ‘a’). Gnostics caused one of the first great doctrinal splits in early Christianity, but their intellectual descendants remain today, not just in churches, but also throughout the business and political worlds. And they want to sell… Read more »

January 6 and the fallacy of ‘No True Scotsman’

Scotland

A recent Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll found that 58% of self-identified Trump supporters believe that the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” Aside from being just plain factually false, this belief is an example of a classic “brain fart,” a well-documented logical fallacy that can affect… Read more »

Affective risk aversion and Covid vaccine denial

Rollercoaster

After several unsuccessful attempts in the confused and governor-hobbled Florida vaccine roll-out, my spouse and I were recently able to get the first of two Moderna jabs. Despite the tragic (and up to 40% unnecessary) loss of life and the trashing that our economy has suffered because of the coronavirus over the last year, the number of people who are… 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 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 »

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 »

Watching yourself watch yourself

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Harold Lloyd Clock

“Life is just one damn thing after another!” – Anonymous [1] With the U.S. presidential election basically over and the coronavirus crisis response stuck in political denial (despite a new surge), I am overdue for a science-geeky post on a neglected recurring topic here, that of human volition (i.e., “choice” or “free will”). [2] The impetus for this post is… Read more »