Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

Free Will is Not an Illusion After All:
"Champions of free will, take heart. A landmark 1980s experiment that purported to show free will doesn't exist is being challenged."

Modern Evolutionary Synthesis - Science Stopper?: I'm not a scientist (I only play one in the blogosphere), so I can't judge whether this analysis is valid or not, but it strikes me as accurate:
"Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfeld offer a scathing history of how the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis stagnated the study of evolution in microbiology...'The major wrong turn in biology’s course was its conceptualization and subsequent handling of the problem of the gene. It would come to a point where the discipline had to choose between the obvious biology of the situation and the tenets of reductionism. Molecularists choose the latter, thereby taking off the table a major biological question.'"

An example of how Christians work to thwart I.D. to advance their theology:
"Darrell Falk, one of the key people at Francis Collins’s BioLogos Foundation, has a remarkable piece arguing that Darwinian evolution is the only way to preserve Christian orthodoxy in the face of intelligent design." This is relevant to my earlier discussion with Chuck Ross.

Larry Arnhart's Review
of Hitler's Ethic: "Proponents of Darwinian ethics--like myself--should be honest in recognizing the impressive evidence that Weikart marshalls from Hitler's writings and speeches to show how Hitler's thought and actions were driven by a coherent view of Darwinian ethics."

Irving Kristol, Darwin Doubter, RIP: Kristol: "'Evolution' is no simple established scientific orthodoxy, and to teach it as such is an exercise in dogmatism. It is reasonable to suppose that if evolution were taught more cautiously, as a conglomerate idea consisting of conflicting hypotheses rather than as an unchallengeable certainty, it would be far less controversial. As things now stand, the religious fundamentalists are not far off the mark when they assert that evolution, as generally taught, has an unwarranted anti-religious edge to it."

Scientists Pull An About Face About Global Warming: "Prof. Mojib one of the leading climate modellers in the world...Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN's World Climate Conference--an annual gathering of the so-called "scientific consensus" on man-made climate change --Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering 'one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.'

Chuck Colson Uses My God/Dog Analogy to Defend I.D: I doubt Mr. Colson is reading my blog, though. I might have picked up the analogy subconsciously from someone else.

Christian Hotel Owners Face Ruin After 'Defending Their Faith' In Row With Muslim Guest: Let there be no mistake: Freedom of Religion is under assault in the Western World. H/T: Lawrence Auster.

Research Finds that Atheists are Most Hated and Distrusted Minority: Personally, I don't hate
any minority group, so I don't condone the intolerance indicated by this survey. Having said that, it might worthwhile for the Atheist community to do some soul-searching (pun intended) about why there is so much vitriol toward their beliefs. No, I don't want to "blame the victim." But let's face it: If modern atheists consider their mission to actively undermine religious belief (as opposed to the traditional atheist ethos of going with the currents of Western life) than they shouldn't be shocked when believers (80-90% of the population) react negatively.

From the "They Keep Pulling Me Back In" Department: Before I was essentially kicked out of Vox Day's blog, I participated in his discussion about feminism. One of my comments: "I can't find a direct link between feminism and the culture of booty calls, Internet porn, World of Warcraft, etc. Is modern feminism harmful? Yes. And is there a 'quality gap' between the sexes today? Yes. But there's still enough good women out there to justify holding men to the same high standard that we've always done throughout history (and even if the feminists don't keep those standards, we - as men - should). In addition, Novaseeker, a pro-Gamer blogger, has a fine essay, The Happiness Gap, which is worth reading.

**UPDATE, DEC. 8, 2009**

As part of a recent discussion at Luke’s website on the subject of “free will,” Brian G. made an excellent point…

In my view the problem with Libet's experiment is that it asked people to record the time when they felt the will to act. The problem is that it neglects an obvious part of the choice. As soon as the researcher explains the experiment, the person is making judgments about what he is going to do. The person might be thinking, "ok, it makes no difference which button I press, so I'll just press the one I 'feel like' pressing." But this itself is part of the choice. The person chose to let their subconscious do the work in selecting an arbitrary button. Then the researcher finds that the readiness potential proceeds the conscience choice. But the real choice was made when the person first was given instructions, and this had to be done through the conscious mind or else he could not understand the instructions of the experimenter.

To me it seems that the "I" must really be doing something. I would expect this even if it could be shown to be only a product of evolution. If the I doesn't do anything, why is it there? Natural selection is only interested in survival, not in giving us a show. A conscious mind that makes real choices, could help in survival. A conscious mind that only thinks it's making real choices cannot help survival.


Chuck said...

If you ever get around to it, you should read Secord and Guttentag's 1983 book "Too Many Women?".

In it they attribute the rise of feminism to low sex ratio (when there are more women than men). In these situations, women are valued less because men are scarce (scarcity begets higher value). Men are less family oriented, Cad culture arises, divorce rates are higher as men seek other partners and find them with ease.

Secord and Guttentag point out that feminism arises in these situations (notice how it thrives on heavily female-skewed college campuses and took its militant form in the low sex-ratio 1960s and 1970s). In order to regain some value, women start crying misogyny.

Now, it's interesting to point out that men decry "sluts" even though they take full advantage of the underlying situation.

So there is no causal relationship between booty calls and feminism, but there is a correlation. they both arise from the same mechanism: low sex ratio.

as far as porn and WoW, i think those are more a function of culture. porn has been used in all societies; men just have much more access to it. we desire to satiate that need no matter the type of society we live in (unless heavy religious influences keep us from it). WoW is merely a hobby, much like football etc. that men take to for recreation.

So I agree with the sentiment of your argument. You have the right idea that Feminism wasn't created just to ruin the world. It had to come from somewhere.

Todd White said...

This is a subject where I have to do a lot more research, but my initial instinct is to say that "sex ratio" is probably a minor factor.

Right now, I would say that what we call "feminism" is a product of mainly 2 social trends: 1) political liberalism ("everyone is equally equal") and 2) technological advancement (washer-dryers, microwave ovens, vaccuum cleaners, etc. made housework less of a full-time job for women, while technology made work outside the home became less physically taxing (compare coal mines to office cubicles), and thus more of an option for women.

Other factors (in no order): Capitalism, Consumerism, Mass Higher Education, Reductionism, Birth control.

Also, one note: It's usually not men who decry "sluts." It's other women.

"Sluts" harm the sexual bargaining power that women use to have influence over men. Thus, "sluts" are an affront to women, not men.