Tag Archives: Belief

Infographics are like philosophical dialogues, but shorter

dialoguesNon-Believer: I have no idea what you mean. Infographics are nothing like dialogues.

Believer: Do you even know what a dialogue is?

Non-Believer: Duh. It’s what we’re doing right now.

Believer: Sure, but do you know what dialogues are for?

Non-Believer: Stop treating me like an idiot! Continue reading

Left vs Right, Authoritarianism vs Libertarianism

Anyone interested in politics should take a good look at the Political Compass website. Here you can read about Left vs Right (economics) and Authoritarianism vs Libertarianism (social attitudes) and see how you fit into the big picture. There’s a relatively simple test to take, and here are my results, shown with the positions of the various UK political parties in the 2015 general election. It seems like I’m a political outsider, although not an extremist. Continue reading

The tragedy of the meme

memesIt was the geneticist, Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, who first proposed the idea of the meme. Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, an idea, pattern or concept that could be passed from person to person, changing or evolving as it propagates, such that successful memes or their variants spread rapidly, and unpopular memes die out. Dawkins, a scientist and an atheist, no doubt had in mind the notion that scientific and rational memes would steadily gain acceptance, and that religious and superstitious memes, when exposed to the harsh light of analysis and debate would gradually fade away. What a tragedy then, that the memes that seem to spread like wildfire are trivial nonsense at best, or ignorant bigotry at worst. Continue reading

Scarcity and abundance

We are moving from a world in which resources are scarce towards a world of abundance. Many things that were once scarce are already abundant in developed countries and will soon be abundant everywhere, if trends continue.

There’s a strong counter-narrative telling us the opposite – that the world’s resources are almost used up, that population levels are unsustainable and that we must cut back now or face disaster. But Malthus said the same two hundred years ago, and so have countless others. Each has been proved wrong. Continue reading

Vladimir Putin: friend or foe?

There are lots of reasons to distrust and dislike Vladimir Putin. I won’t bother to list them all here. But I have a grudging respect for him. Putin gets things done. Not necessarily the right things, but not necessarily the wrong things either. Continue reading

Choose joy

I’ve been feeling a little down recently, for various reasons. This is what Buddhists call suffering, and they say it is caused by desire, or passion. Desire is what binds us to this life, they say, and is the cause of our suffering. Christians have a similar world view. They say that sin is the root cause of our suffering, and that our redemption is through Jesus Christ.

While there are many differences between Christians (who believe in an eternal soul), and Buddhists (who supposedly do not – although people like the Dalai Lama certainly seem to), religions generally regard the physical world as a place where humans are trapped. It’s easy then to imagine that we were born to suffer. Continue reading

Frozen to Life: A Personal Mortality Experiment (Book review)

frozentolifeI was sent a free copy of this book by the author, and asked to write an honest review. As the author noted in his email to me, ‘I think we have quite a few interests in common. ‘That’s very true, so I thought my review might also be of interest to my blog readers.

The book is the story of why the author (DJ MacLennan), has chosen to have his brain cryogenically frozen when he dies – or as he puts it – when current medicine can do no more to save him from death. It’s a personal story, and a scientific and philosophical investigation of what it means to live and die. Here’s my review of the book. Continue reading