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On a cheerier note, NOVA recently aired "The Violence Paradox," based on Pinker's Better Angels of our Nature (the phrase is used, and Pinker is one of the talking heads presented). The world is getting better... slowly... so far. But past performance is no guarantee of future returns. As Pinker says, the worldwide decline in many forms of violence does not guarantee that violence will continue to decline; but it shows that continued progress is possible.

 

Less happily, much of the violence in the world today seems to be in direct reaction to past progress, from people who'd rather see the world burn than give up their tribal loyalties, prejudices or caste privileges.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On a cheerier note, NOVA recently aired "The Violence Paradox," based on Pinker's Better Angels of our Nature (the phrase is used, and Pinker is one of the talking heads presented). The world is getting better... slowly... so far. But past performance is no guarantee of future returns. As Pinker says, the worldwide decline in many forms of violence does not guarantee that violence will continue to decline; but it shows that continued progress is possible.

 

Less happily, much of the violence in the world today seems to be in direct reaction to past progress, from people who'd rather see the world burn than give up their tribal loyalties, prejudices or caste privileges.

 

Dean Shomshak

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I'll also recommend an article about economic modeling in the November, 2019 Scientific American. Here's the abstract:

 

"Wealth inequality is escalating in many countries at an alarming rate, with the U.S. arguably having the highest inequality in the developed world.

"A remarkably simple model of wealth distribution developed by physicists and mathematicians can represent inequality in a range of countries with unprecedented accuracy.

"Surprisingly, several mathematical models of free-market economies display features of complex macroscopic physical systems such as ferromagnets, including phase transitions, symmetry breaking and duality."

 

Perhaps the most important result of their modeling, though, is the result of a pure free market with no external force of wealth redistribution, pro or con: If there is any possibility or unequal results in an exchange -- even if "winning" is just the result of a coin toss -- the inevitable result is that wealth concentrates until one ecomnomic actor ends up with virtually everything, and everyone else is left with virtually nothing. Laissez-faire advocates, take heed.

 

Dean Shomshak

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16 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

In hindsight.  But in 1999 it sure as hell felt like civilization had turned a corner, wherein the former USSR was nominally democratic and the Chinese were more interested in getting rich than invading their neighbors, and the Internet was about to usher in a new age of free communications and commerce.  And then it all went to s---.

 

Ain't that the truth.  In 1999 I put together a time capsule for my great-grandchildren to open.  In the journal I included, I was so optimistic based on how things were going at that time.  I'm pretty sure they're going to read what I wrote and think "Great-grandpa was a moron."

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16 hours ago, Old Man said:

In hindsight.

 

Not so much for me. Maybe it came from being stationed in Berlin, but I never felt like the Soviets becoming the Russians really ended their threat. In the moment, in '91, there was a great feeling of a big F-U to the Soviet system, but I never expected the remnants to suddenly become a Westernized Democracy we could sit around a camp fire and sing Kumbaya with.

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2 hours ago, Pattern Ghost said:

 

Not so much for me. Maybe it came from being stationed in Berlin, but I never felt like the Soviets becoming the Russians really ended their threat. In the moment, in '91, there was a great feeling of a big F-U to the Soviet system, but I never expected the remnants to suddenly become a Westernized Democracy we could sit around a camp fire and sing Kumbaya with.


No, you’re right. The Russians still weren’t exactly friendly and the ensuing kleptocracy wasn’t great. Still, between the breakup of the USSR and the ruin of the Russian military, World War III suddenly seemed a lot less inevitable. 

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4 minutes ago, Pattern Ghost said:

 

Yeah. Probably a lot less kids were traumatized by nuclear bomb drills. Or puzzled. I was never sure what good hiding under a desk was going to do me during a nuke.

 

It's supposed to protect you from shards of glass.  If the bomb went off far enough away, your windows were the most dangerous thing to you.

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3 hours ago, TrickstaPriest said:

It's supposed to protect you from shards of glass.  If the bomb went off far enough away, your windows were the most dangerous thing to you.

 

If the blast is close enough to break windows, the radiation poisoning is your biggest worry.

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3 hours ago, Pattern Ghost said:

 

If the blast is close enough to break windows, the radiation poisoning is your biggest worry.

 

That actually depends on the yield.  For very small atomic weapons, on the order of 10 kilotons (Hiroshima sized), radiation is the biggest hazard, unless you live in a paper-and-wood Japanese city that's literally made of kindling.  In the midrange between 10-500 kilotons, the blast damage radius exceeds that for heat and greatly exceeds that for prompt radiation.  Most MIRV warheads are in the 550-750 kt range.  From 1 megaton up, heat is the main destructive mechanism.  IIRC a 25 Mt airburst would inflict third degree burns on exposed humans out to something like 20 miles.  This figure sticks out to me because the circle covers most of the island upon which I live.

 

Tl;dr: You're screwed, but ideally you want a solid object between you and the detonation point to avoid getting burned, and ideally you'll want to be on the second or third floor of a reinforced concrete structure, if not in a basement.  Most of the debris will be at ground level, and fallout will accumulate on the ground and on the roof of the structure, so don't be on the first floor and don't be on the top floor.

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3 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

That actually depends on the yield.  For very small atomic weapons, on the order of 10 kilotons (Hiroshima sized), radiation is the biggest hazard, unless you live in a paper-and-wood Japanese city that's literally made of kindling.  In the midrange between 10-500 kilotons, the blast damage radius exceeds that for heat and greatly exceeds that for prompt radiation.  Most MIRV warheads are in the 550-750 kt range.  From 1 megaton up, heat is the main destructive mechanism.  IIRC a 25 Mt airburst would inflict third degree burns on exposed humans out to something like 20 miles.  This figure sticks out to me because the circle covers most of the island upon which I live.

 

Tl;dr: You're screwed, but ideally you want a solid object between you and the detonation point to avoid getting burned, and ideally you'll want to be on the second or third floor of a reinforced concrete structure, if not in a basement.  Most of the debris will be at ground level, and fallout will accumulate on the ground and on the roof of the structure, so don't be on the first floor and don't be on the top floor.

There's a rule of 7 with respect to radiation levels, IIRC.  After 7 hours the outside radiation level is halved, halved again after 49 hours, halved again after 2 weeks, and again at around 100 days.  Usually the advice is to wait in your shelter at least two weeks before exiting to seek more supplies or assistance.  

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59 minutes ago, wcw43921 said:

Is it because the Christian Right is the domain of hateful bigots who have perverted and twisted Christianity into a religion of hate and intolerance by hiding their racism, bigotry and sexism behind a veil of "religious freedom" and "personal truth?"

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As that article seems to try to illustrate, yes, that is a major component of it. But there's also a component that sees this as an absolute issue of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. Faith and reason are not incompatible, but faith doesn't depend on reason. And Christianity has always included submitting yourself to the will of God. As in what you believe to be the will of God.

 

If you believe that the world will be ending and the righteous will be saved by the grace of God, then saving the world is irrelevant. If you believe that people are instruments to bring about God's plan, then the morality of those instruments is irrelevant. If you believe you have the Truth, then other beliefs are irrelevant.

 

I get it. I don't agree or approve, and I see this as a self-deluding and self-defeating doctrine which is being exploited by those who don't share that belief, for their own selfish ends. But I get it.

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3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Faith and reason are not incompatible, but faith doesn't depend on reason.

But aren't they though? I think "faith" is a pretty meaningless word these days.  Faith used to mean believing that bad things happen for a reason and that good triumphs over evil in the end. A test of faith was maintaining your belief in the fundamental goodness of God, people, love, etc. even in the face of great suffering and evil.  Now? Now faith means believing in unreasonable, ridiculous things simply to prove you can't be swayed by reason.  This is why utter nonsense like flat earth theory is rising -- it's entirely coming from hard core Christians who reject all modern science as "proof" of their faith.  It becomes a contest:  Who can believe the most absurd, ludicrous nonsense?

It has nothing to do with believing in goodness, in love, in mercy or compassion.  No, it's believing in nonsensical conspiracy theories powered by Satanism.  Can you convince yourself that NASA is actually the National Association of Satantic Agents?  Congratulations, you're more "faithful" than that heretical heathen who thinks maybe God works through evolution.  Like look at that Qanon conspiracy.  It's literally less plausible that the theory that the British Royal Family are reptiles.  The Qanon theory is predicated on the idea that the entire Democratic Party as well as the "Deep State" are a vast Satanic conspiracy to molest and murder children.  Like the sole purpose of existence of the Democratic Party and the American government is to cover up the mass murder of millions of little kids.  The people who believe this theory are almost to the man members of the Christian evangelical right.  And the reason this is happening is because these people have decided that reason is incompatible with faith, and that belief makes things true. 

Part of the reason this is happening is because, as a protestant Christian culture, we consider it extremely rude to question other people's religious beliefs.  You're just not allowed to point out that people's religious beliefs are completely stupid garbage.  So naturally, people who want to believe completely stupid garbage and don't want to be challenged, cloak is as religious belief -- this is why Christianity is quickly becoming associated with bigotry, because so many bigots hide behind a bible.  A whole lot of "Christians" have reduced the entire bible down to Leviticus 20:13 just because the idea of two guys kissing squicks them out and they're too emotionally immature to just get over it and grow up. You can call someone who objects to homosexuality on the grounds that it's "icky" a childish homophobic moron, but if they say it's a "sin," then they get a free pass to organize politically to repress a minority group's human rights.

Also:

 

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1 hour ago, Usagi said:

But aren't they though? I think "faith" is a pretty meaningless word these days.  Faith used to mean believing that bad things happen for a reason and that good triumphs over evil in the end. A test of faith was maintaining your belief in the fundamental goodness of God, people, love, etc. even in the face of great suffering and evil.  Now? Now faith means believing in unreasonable, ridiculous things simply to prove you can't be swayed by reason.

 

I don't disagree with you in regards to what "Christian faith" is being used as a justification for in the present day. But what you're describing is a broad modern interpretation of some Christian tenets. All religious faith is by definition a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Those doctrines vary widely. The moral dimension you attribute to faith isn't inherent, and the belief in the fundamental goodness of God, people, love etc. is not and never has been universal. Certainly the Old Testament of the Bible is full of stonings of sinners, destruction of cities for their immorality, and other scenes that depict a God more concerned with obedience and punishment than compassion and mercy. The history of Christianity is replete with torture, murder, conquest and exploitation in the name of God.

 

"Unreasonable beliefs" are pretty hard to pin down when you're talking about religion. Someone being resurrected from death days later? Physically ascending into Heaven? The whole human race descended from one couple? Sounds absurd based on our personal experience, but the moment you accept the concept of an omnipotent God, then the boundaries of the possible are whatever It decides they are. Then again, the Earth being round, or it orbiting the Sun, or solid matter made of atoms, or quantum theory, also seem unreasonable based on common experience. Science justifies our belief in those latter things, but most of us haven't tested those beliefs ourselves, and don't really comprehend the depths and scope of contemporary science. We accept, on faith, that scientists know what they're talking about. Yet the ranks of scientists include some deeply spiritual people, who believe their research into the mysteries of the universe grants them insights into the mind of God. So I reiterate, faith and reason are not incompatible.

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

So I reiterate, faith and reason are not incompatible.

Yeah, I remain unconvinced.  I mean, I feel like you just made a really solid case for why believing in God will inevitably lead to a loss of all reason.  It's really hard to not read this:

1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

the moment you accept the concept of an omnipotent God, then the boundaries of the possible are whatever It decides they are.

As meaning essentially this:

Quote

the moment you accept the concept of an omnipotent God, then the boundaries of the possible are whatever you believe It decides they are.

It's also hard not to notice how close it is to:

Quote

the moment you accept the concept of Magic!, then the boundaries of the possible are whatever you decide they are.

Because that's all this is, magical thinking, and I'm sorry...that's not compatible with reason.  That's the exact opposite of reason.  It is the rejection of the very concept of reason.  Reasonable people understand that when  you are forced to resort to arguments like "Because my personal conception of an intelligent, omnipotent creative force that makes the universe says so!" you've stopped being reasonable.  And if you don't stop arguing when you have to resort to irrational arguments, then you're not reasonable.   That's just how being reasonable works.  If faith means resorting to irrational arguments when rational ones fail to justify your beliefs, then you can't really say faith and reason are compatible.  Reason is not something you can abandon when its inconvenient.  That is the definition of being unreasonable.

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25 minutes ago, Usagi said:

Yeah, I remain unconvinced.  I mean, I feel like you just made a really solid case for why believing in God will inevitably lead to a loss of all reason.  It's really hard to not read this:

As meaning essentially this:

It's also hard not to notice how close it is to:

Because that's all this is, magical thinking, and I'm sorry...that's not compatible with reason.  That's the exact opposite of reason.  It is the rejection of the very concept of reason.  Reasonable people understand that when  you are forced to resort to arguments like "Because my personal conception of an intelligent, omnipotent creative force that makes the universe says so!" you've stopped being reasonable.  And if you don't stop arguing when you have to resort to irrational arguments, then you're not reasonable.   That's just how being reasonable works.  If faith means resorting to irrational arguments when rational ones fail to justify your beliefs, then you can't really say faith and reason are compatible.  Reason is not something you can abandon when its inconvenient.  That is the definition of being unreasonable.

I see you have made a strong case for your belief system here. Very interesting, thanks. 

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What, in terms of what it says is possible and how most of us understand it, is the difference between magic and general relativity? Quantum physics? Multi-dimensional geometry? These are indisputably the product of reason. They're logical, they're mathematically describable; but most of us can't relate them to our perception of reality, and have to take the word of "experts" that they make sense.

 

But please note, I never said that religion is never unreasonable -- it's obvious that its adherents can be very unreasonable, and never more obviously than lately. I only pointed out that reasonable people can have faith, and reason alone can't refute the premises of religion.

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4 hours ago, TrickstaPriest said:

It bothers me how close we are to the brink of climate disaster, and how impossible it is to get any progress on the environmental front at all.  By any government. 

 

So I don't know about "always shall be"...  😕

 

I feel you. Most of the world's leaders seem to have gotten the message, and are making at least some moves to try to repair the situation. But the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet is currently led by a climate-change denier, and his example seems to have galvanized populist opportunists around the globe, who are complicating the political issues by pushing short-term benefits at the risk of long-term disaster.

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42 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

What, in terms of what it says is possible and how most of us understand it, is the difference between magic and general relativity? Quantum physics? Multi-dimensional geometry? These are indisputably the product of reason. They're logical, they're mathematically describable; but most of us can't relate them to our perception of reality, and have to take the word of "experts" that they make sense.

That's a pretty specious argument and you answered your own question.  What's the difference between magic and general relativity?  General relativity is the product of reasoning,  is demonstrable in experiments and is mathematically describable.   Magic is not. Let's assume, as you do, that we aren't intelligent enough to understand the proofs of general relativity.  Even then, you're trying to conflate "a body of evidence I don't understand" with a "body of evidence that doesn't exist at all."

 

42 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

But please note, I never said that religion is never unreasonable -- it's obvious that its adherents can be very unreasonable, and never more obviously than lately. I only pointed out that reasonable people can have faith, and reason alone can't refute the premises of religion.

 

Reason can't refute the premises of religions only in so much as those premises are stated in such a way that they cannot be tested or verified, so who cares?  Statements that can't be tested or verified don't actually need to be refuted.  For example:  The invisible, intangible council of Sky Gnomes who live outside of all human perception except when they want to be known,  who created the world and are responsible for everything good in existence, have placed the certain knowledge in my mind that I am the sole rightful ruler of all mankind, the Living God.  Because I am the Living God, you must immediately paypal $10000 to me (or as much as you've got).  Do you need to rationally justify why you aren't going to send me  $10k?  Of course not.   Yet you cannot, using reason, demonstrate that the Sky Gnomes did not declare me the Living God.  You just reject it because you're not a dope, and you know I haven't provided a single reason to believe me.

 

My experience is that reasonable people can be members of faith groups, but that reasonable people never act on religious beliefs that cannot also be justified without recourse to faith in absurdities.  

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