May 2008

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Comments

Daniel

Bertrand Russell also agrees with you. You can Google him too.

Shailesh

Hey Scot,

You have written exactly what I wanted to say.

I write "The Ignorant's Blog", by pen name The-Ignorant.

My friends have told, my stories are similar to Kahlil Gibran and O Henry, which I wasn't convinced.

Readers can make their judgment by reading "The Ignorant's Blog" at http://theignorant.blogspot.com

- Shailesh

Empirical Poppa

>>> (Leora said) >>> Regarding "Einstein's Dice" - if you had a complete knowledge of the physical composition of the universe. I.e. knew the mass and velocity and the forces acting on every particle in the universe could you predict the future?

Actually, no. Heisenberg showed that you cannot simultaneously know with high precision both the position and the momentum of a particle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisenberg_uncertainty_principle).

Besides that, many physical situations are inherently chaotic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_%28physics%29). A chaotic condition although deterministic, cannot be predicted.

Are Riksaasen

I have been told that my political views are identical to some guy called Trotski. And I am afraid of pointed objects.

Arby

It is true that anyone could become President of the United States. Quite a feat but if the person wants it bad enough has lots of political savvy and luck it is doable. Think of all that power, the perks, a private jet and lots of companions, plus get to live in the oldest house in town.

Things are changing and one of these days a gay, elderly, illegitimately born, disabled veteran, twice-divorced, ex-felon, Native American, recovering alcoholic, drug rehabbed atheist former tattooed gang-banger with the support of a populist and grass roots strategy could dark horse nail it. She will probably make a good President, if someone doesn’t shoot her or find out about the sex change operation. The campaign manager would be something else.


This is assuming the Electoral College is removed from the Constitution and the current president royally screwed up. But why not give it a shot and see if there is character there. Lincoln was called a baboon and alot worse because his appearance was ugly and his self-education. Look how he turned out in the minds and hearts of the people.

I do not understand the theory of relativity, gravity or why Windows XP always freezes up and the guy who put it out is the richest man in the world. Wonder if BG would adopt me?

Kevin Kunreuther

Spinozza,17C ex-communicated Jew, determinist, died of silicosis,unmarried without issue
But was he happy?

QwkDrw

It's great when you talk religion in your blog. Beside PROVING that we are not in polite company, it gives people a chance to comfortably discuss their most intimate relationship.

". . . GOD is infinite" (The Bible). "The universe had a beginning" (Environmental Earth-Worshipers), and it probably will end someday. The universe is not GOD, rather a creation of GOD.

Ryan

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,269918,00.html

Scott, it seems that the Goat Man on whom you reported earlier is now a widower. A shame, is it not?

-Ryan

John

Scott Adams for president! So which of the only 2 choices that people really have would you run for? I think the Democrats already have enough people running for the top job right now. Do you think the Republicans would let you run for the top job?

Roni

no way, you lie!! oh hang on a sec, this Spinoza guys jewish, ahh well thats ok then, count me in as a Spinozian as well, but I was worried for a sec.

Finny

On behalf of a huge bunch of people who are addicted to Dilbert, thanks for the hilarious guest appearance in your comic strip! It's awesome.

PS: Can you bring Topper back? We miss him.

freebert

>

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut some times...or perhaps it's more like a blind nut finding a squirrel...hmmmm...something to ponder.

natalie

I'm sorry I sound like a huge suckup/loser, but just had to express my gratitude for bringing smile to my face almost every day and a laugh out loud on a pretty regular basis. You have a gift. I love this blog.

rd

another try
i suffer from a SES(stunning excommunication syndrome)
can't figure it out - some sort of initiation-termination or my ignorance of typepad rules?

so i was thinking casually during my coffee-breaks what Spinosa and you thought and his-your views match perfectly to the deterministic part of 'my' all compatible deterministic-random zebra-Universe
but i will die a nameless dust just like any other mosquito

if Spinosa was born somewhere in Asia he would have been one of so many anonymous buddhist monks - the useless thought of the day

the useful thought was weasel is what, a squirrel or a fox?
turns out, neither

Misanthropic Scott

Spinoza's god does little to advance knowledge. But, at least, unlike the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god, he/she/it does not detract from knowledge or discourage asking questions. Spinoza's god, if it existed, would simply be completely and totally irrelevant.

More importantly though, nice self-portrait in today's comic! And, I loved the idea of something on the order of 50,000 cubicles in one location. Are you sure this is an engineering firm not a huge financial institution?

Miguel

Hey Scott, just saw another guy being misinterpreted by everyone else, and thought it would amuse you: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2006/12/math_zero_vs_po.html

Economist Robin Hanson trouble with what he wrote about the minimum wage.

WCE

Einstein also said a lot of other things that showed he believed in God, and most of them are famous quotes, like "God doesn't play dice" and "God is subtle, not malicious". In the God context, Spinoza merely supported the idea that God was who enforced the natural laws.

That isn't the same as saying that God doesn't care what happens to us, quite the contrary, it would've been easier to create a universe with exact laws (like Newton's) where we'd be precluded from having Free Will. Making the universe both predictable, yet allowing just enough slop to allow us to make our own decisions must've been a lot harder. So why would He go to the extra trouble?

Well, an adult is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of his deliberate actions. (And deliberate inaction is itself a deliberate action.) This is like an equation, where if either the consequences weren't foreseeable or the action wasn't deliberate, there is no responsibility. (If either is zero, then the product is zero.)

So if you're going to hold someone accountable for their actions, they must 1. be able to foresee the consequences of their actions, which requires sensible physical laws, and 2. they must be able to deliberate and decide for themselves what actions to take, which requires that they universe have enough "slop" in the laws to allow for Free Will.

Look on the bright side, Scott. If not for Free Will, then you couldn't take credit for being smart and successful, it'd have been thrust upon you like your eye color. With Free Will, when you rescue a baby from a burning building, you can accept the title "Hero", as you actually deserved it.

Likewise, though, when someone else rushes into a burning building to save a baby, you really should be willing to give them the credit they deserve, rather than assert that they only did what they were programmed to do, and therefore deserve no credit.

Bill

You should sell "Weaseling Is A Virtue" bumper stickers. After all, it's true; if people would just weasel out of forced military service, taxes, wars, etc. the world would be a better place.

I hope your new Weasel Cult draws off membership from the other cults.

D. Mented

That's one reason I call myself an atheist rather than an agnostic;
Sick of people weaseling around the point.
Definition of god; powerful being in charge of everything, possessing the will to affect things and the power to do so.
As knowlege of how things actually work incerases, many people have taken to readjusting their definition of god to leave out anything that has been proven natural (rather than supernatural) or non-existant, or false. I draw the line at redefining god as not having a separate identity or will, just being natural forces. That's weaseling.
I'm pretty sure science hasn't identified and analysed everything there is to know about the forces in play in the universe - large and small - yet. There may yet be things defined and understood to be natural that are now considered supernatural, but I don't see any reason to believe there is a conscious being in charge of the universe, or any force of nature within it.
If there was, it would either be like the god of the Deists; non-interfering, or if it interfered, it would have to be pure evil. I don't go for the "inscrutable plan" argument (God has a plan that involves the torture and genocide in Darfur, the continuing violence in His name all over the world but especially in the Middle East, harmful, dishonest people having better ability to get into positions of power because there's nothing they won't stoop to to get there, and so on. We know this because otherwise God would have stopped this nonsense as it started, and we know the plan is good and benevolent because we know God is good and benevolent)
To keep redefining "god" to still claim belief when actually having no belief at all that there's anyone in charge is weaseling.
If I want the Christians I work with to stop demanding agreement from me that I believe their version is the truth, I just lie.("I'm not into organised religion - too much human interpretation and money issues in that, but yes, I believe in God, and I keep faith in my heart. I just think the workplace is more appropriate to demonstrating moral values than talking about them...")

D. Mented
There's no one out there doing this to us, so there's no one out there to resent.
There's no one out there to pray to that will make everything right, so it's up to us to look out for eachother and stop waiting for the afterlife to fix everything.
That's my Atheist creed, and I'm sticking to it.

graeme

Hey Scott, have you ever read anything by Jorge Luis Borges? He's an argentinian short story writer, prone to thought experiments. Needless to say, you should, because you also often have similar ideas to him.

Here's a story called the Library of Babel, about a world where all books already exist:

http://www.analitica.com/bitblioteca/jjborges/library_babel.asp

Paul

Hey, Spinoza, dead guy.
Out of copyright......

Cool move.

Going to make a DVD like the Secret out of it. All out of copyright ?
And out of copyright isnt theft. Right ?

Paul
The thinking mans moron

Leora

You should have gone to art school. Not to draw better, but to discover that philosphy and visual art have this basic element in common, i.e. that you can luck out and produce something brilliant in a week that equals what some poor shmuck took years of artistic struggle to create.

Maybe that's the sad realization of the 21st century--ignorance and well-read intelligence often look very similar.

Okay, well, the drawing lessons might have helped too.
:)

Bobby

I often say I believe in "my own god" to avoid conflict with some of my extremely religious friends. The fact that "my own god" = (the big bang plus the stuff before after or sideways from it or whatever craziness was happening with time at the time) seems not to bother them. I wonder if you could get away with running for political office in this country believing in Spinoza's god? And is being an atheist political suicide?

Regarding "Einstein's Dice" - if you had a complete knowledge of the physical composition of the universe. I.e. knew the mass and velocity and the forces acting on every particle in the universe could you predict the future? And lets say you built a machine that took this information and could tell you, at the press of a button, an event that will take place at some time in the future, which likely has a non-zero chance of making you want to change something. Is the universe still obeying the cause and effect view of simulated free will? what if you make the machines operation Dependant on something entirely random like Brownian motion (admitting to no great understanding of what that really is so feel free to elaborate on my ignorance). and yah I know scott has posited that randomness is entirely independent from free will (or that is my hallucination of what his words were meant to say) but the thought experiment was interesting to me. Not sure it means anything at all. My moist robot insides made me do it.

ed

"Weaseling out of things is important to do. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasels."

skelman

Free Will...

If you take these assumptions, are there any problems with the conclusions?

Assuming:
1. Everything in the universe was created from the "BIG BANG"
2. Everything in the universe follows natural laws/physics/etc.

One can logically conclude one of the following:
1. Everything is predetermined
2. Everything is random
3. Everything is some combination of predetermined and random

"Everything" includes our actions and decisions.

All of these imply we do not have free will.

>
I'm trying to put together a simple logical statement to show to others who have difficulty understanding the "no free will" argument.

I recently read your God's Debris book, and enjoyed it. A nice free read, thanks. It's an interesting concept on what "God" could be, and I can honestly say it crossed my mind before reading your blog, your book, or much about any philosipher. I used to think I had a very cool "Universe Theory", as I called it, but it ended up all I had concluded on my own was that the universe is deterministic.

I can only come to the conclusion that we don't have free will, but I'm perplexed why others can't see it the same way. I wonder if a logical argument can be simply worded better, for others to "get it".

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