Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Assumed Role of Religion and Ethics

is raised once again in the NZ Herald.
Here are some quotes:
I'm not a scientist. I'm not a geneticist.
I hate it when people start an op-ed like that. You just know the rest of the text is going to be full of absolute crap. Replace the nouns "i'm not a mechanic, but yeah, i'll work on your car for $80/hr" or "i'm no brain surgeon but i'll have a crack at it, how hard can it be?".
Why do people believe that expertise is a dirty word? Science doesn't tell you what you should do, it lets you know what you can do. Communities and governments do the 'shoulds'.
It's all about framing the argument and setting up your strawmen as early as possible. It's straight out of debating tricks 101.
And the angle I always start from is my belief that God is the Creator and the source of life.
That is "I am diametrically opposed to the fundamental assumption of science: things have natural causes that can be measured and potentially predicted". We wouldn't have genetics if this attitude was universal and i suspect that isn't a coincidence.
The opportunity to help people avoid bearing disabled children could easily begin to imply that our society would be better off if they weren't there.
That didn't stop us wiping out smallpox and almost ridding the planet of polio. Almost certainly the single greatest achievement of medicine in history. Would this guy be waxing lyrical in 1880 about the worthiness of smallpox in the greater scheme of things?
The church, with a particular concern for the sanctity of each life as one created by God, and as a result the value of every human, has a role to play in helping that discussion to take place.
That is, I believe, technically an assertion not a conclusion. Another could be: The church has absolutely no role to play in this discussion.
Personally, I would like my ethics/society decided by people that believe that this world, and this life, are worth more than the invisible and unsubstantiated next one.

Religion is having a hard time with science and how people are using it. The problem's root cause is that science is giving people choices and people aren't choosing what they're supposed to choose. The last thing religion needs is people making decisions about their own lives all willy-nilly - heaven's knows where that will lead to.

Ross Bay - You've got nothing to contribute to this discussion. In fact, your contributions may actually slow down actual progress due to pointless rambling tangents.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fun with embeddable Google Maps

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Power line voodoo science pops up again in the NZ Herald

here. (note to nzherald: repeating the webpage twice doesn't make something wrong a bit more right).

Simon O'Rourke has tremendous ability to switch effortlessly between the complexities of EM radiation absorption effects on DNA and breathlessly reporting "Women saw friend fly 'head first' through bus window". Besides, it's well known that you can't make a statement so preposterously stupid that you can't find at least one PhD who'll support it. Try it, it's called Google.

But these cheap ad hominum attacks, while amusing, are hardly productive.

My main grief with Simon is that he's showing poor science reporting skills. While attempting to show 'both sides' of the story, he doesn't seem to want to go to the bother of looking at whether the studies cited are any good, what other scientists say about them, is significance in 2 relatively subjective parameters significant?, what was the control group? did the study start out by assuming there would be a difference?, was it a single or double blind?, how was the field strength in each house measured?, was it inferred somehow?...

Makes you wonder if Simon has any training whatsoever in science.

"Power lines cause cancer" is a pithy headline and par for the course in the NZ Herald's science reporting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Orstrayan

This is a joke right? did i accidentally click through onto the onion again?
In case you don't have time, take this, the last paragraph, as representative:
Bush, for once, has made a good and fair decision and ought to be applauded for it because jails are for bad people, not those like Scooter Libby.
it just defies belief.
the other op-ed i skimmed is discussing the shades of grey involved with your PM-in-waiting hanging around strip clubs while simultaneously courting the happy clapper fractions of Queensland.
i mean seriously, why stop with apples? take 'em to the WTO on being a deputy-sheriff freakshow is harming our tourism industry.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gravity manipulated

i don't often post from work but this is the most amazing thing i've read in weeks.

artificial gravity! think of electro-magnets. control the current, control the magnetism. most of the technogidgets you can poke a stick at these days are using this principle somewhere along the chain.
these guys have done the analogous (and much "£%$ harder) equivalent with gravity.

holy crap.

so cool.

wish i was a physicist.

i really am a geek.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

broadband's ok - yeah right

And can you believe this?
He believes that New Zealand's telecommunications infrastructure is still suffering from problems created by the previous Government.
How many freakin' years do you have to be in charge before you realise it's your £$%"%^$%% fault.
BTW wasn't Labour the majority coalition party int he previous Government?