Thursday, 29 September 2016

Elon Musk has a plan to send a million people to colonize Mars

Elon Musk thinks we'll get to Mars by the 2020's. Read here.

It sounds fanciful but Musk, in typical Musk fashion, gave a hugely optimistic timeline for the first launch – 10 years from now, around 2026 or even as early as 2024. Yikes.

Optimistic? Ludicrous is the word I would use. It simply couldn't happen by 2026. Mars is too far away. If anyone did get to Mars it would only be one person -- probably a women as she's lighter etc. Then they wouldn't be able to get back to Earth again. The prediction is just silly.

Also I have no idea why anyone would want to go there. It's a barren, airless, uninhabitable rock. There's nothing of any interest to see, certainly nothing to do there. It'll be the same for virtually every single planet in the Universe.

However, I do think we'll get there eventually. I estimate that a human -- most probably a woman -- will first step on the surface of Mars on Saturday the 20th July 2069.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Brain Surgery To Remove Amygdala Leads To Woman’s ‘Hyper Empathy’

From here:

The new case comes in contrast to previous observations of people who endured damage to the amygdala and suffered emotional deficits. In a 2001 study involving 22 people who had parts of their temporal lobe removed, researchers found that people with more extensive damage to the amygdala performed worse in learning emotional facial expressions.

This is very interesting! It suggests to me that empathy is not created by the amygdala even though a dysfunctional amygdala can impair ones empathy. That is consistent with my view that the brain doesn't create consciousness, it merely modulates it.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Arguing with people

It's an extremely common tendency to try and justify ones position on any topic by seeking out those opponents who advance the most naive, the weakest and most ridiculous arguments. Or, when arguing with more thoughtful opponents, to attribute to them a more naive or simplistic position than the one they actually hold and attack that.

In addition it seems that people often appear to deliberately avoid clarity and revel in being abstruse. My suspicion is they do this in order to give the impression of winning the argument. In reality though their words convey little, if indeed, any meaning.

These tactics might rally those who subscribe to your view, but does precious little to justify your own position. What is needed is to seek out those opponents who provide the most challenging and sophisticated arguments, and to address those specific arguments. If you can outargue them and even make them appear to be foolish, then you'll have some confidence that your position might well be correct.

It is though very tempting to simply attack your weakest opponents. Or attack the weakest arguments against your position. Or to employ other underhanded strategies in order to "win". It's easy, requires little thought, makes you feel superior, and of course most importantly of all it garners support and admiration from those who share your sentiments and beliefs in the matter in hand.

I would like to thank the following people for having given me the motivation and inspiration to write the above words. Many of those who have left comments on my blog. Countless hundreds of people I have debated with on skeptic/materialist discussion boards over the years, and a special thanks goes to Paul Edwards who wrote the laughably entitled: "Reincarnation: A Critical Examination".

I thank you all.

A caveman suddenly appearing in a modern city

Imagine a caveman from 100,000 BC suddenly being transported in time to today and placed for a brief time into the middle of a modern city. ...