Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Queue: Update

This is, um, an update to the queue.  Surprise!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Return of the Queue

I play some video games.  I have played some other video games.  I will yet play still more video games.  Obviously nobody with a rational sense of what is or is not "wasting time" would be reading my blog anyway, so I'm going to list off the games that are on my to-do list.  Without further ado!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Virtue of DDO

If you've read anything like all of my blog posts (of which you should be very ashamed if you have), you'll know that I once played World of Warcraft for a month. If you were paying attention, you'd have realized that I didn't much care for it. Is it possible I just don't like the conventions of MMOs? Maybe. But then, that makes it slightly mysterious that I've become so fond of Dungeons and Dragons Online.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No, Atheism is Not Literally a Delusion

So this guy named Bruce G. Charlton -- I won't stress the ironic similarity of his surname to the word "charlatan" -- wrote this article claiming that atheism is a delusion. P Zed linked to it today, but he left his readers to determine for themselves how it was fallacious. Because I'd like to exercise my rhetorical and logical chops, I'm going to do a paragraph-by-paragraph refutation.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Aliens and the Razor

It's okay to believe in aliens. That in and of itself is a perfectly reasonable position. After all, there are estimated to be somewhere on the order of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (ten sextillion, or 10 to the 22nd power) planets in the universe. About 25% of the planets in our solar system alone are in the neighborhood of being able to support life, which means, if our solar system is typical (which it most definitely may not be), there are two and a half sextillion planets that can support life. Even if it only ever happens on one in a trillion (and estimates by reputable scientists have gone more likely than that even) of possible planets, then we'll still have life in some form on 2,500,000 planets. If it's only one in a sextillion, then there'll still be at least two planets in the entire universe, including this one, with life. So aliens, in the strictest sense, are really quite likely. The problem, though, is believing that aliens have discovered, reached, and interacted with us here on Earth. In this installment, I'll be exploring the many reasons why it's far more likely that believers in alien contact are far more likely to be deluded than right.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Question of Motive

Scientists say that the entire vast diversity of life on Earth was caused by genetic mutation (which changes individuals) and natural selection (which distributes the most effective genes around a population). Whenever a population divides for a long enough time, they become genetically isolated and will thenceforth continue to be divided even if they share a territory; the two groups will go their own way, and over millions of years they can become astonishingly different. We have a sequence of fossils that demonstrates this gradual change throughout consistent strata of rock. We have several independent dating methods that corroborate one another, including tree-ring dating and many different types of radiometric dating, all of which support the notion that the fossils we've found are many millions of years old if not more. We've seen bacteria adapting through random mutation in laboratory settings, and, as we'd expect, the mutant bacteria thrive and take over the population.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Revenge of the Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil has apparently been a cornerstone of religious criticism for a rather long time, dating back even to the Greek philosophers. I recall reading that the guy it's usually attributed to probably didn't actually say it, so I won't bother looking him up just to mention him by name. In its original form, the argument went something like this:

1. If God is willing to prevent evil but not able, he is not omnipotent.
2. If God is able to prevent evil but not willing, he is not benevolent.
3. If God is both able and willing to prevent evil, why is there evil?
4. If God is neither able nor willing to prevent evil, why call him "God" at all?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Religious Indoctrination

The non-religious demographic in the United States -- that is, people who run the gamut from atheists to agnostics to the simply non-religious -- is growing. It has doubled in the last 20 years, and the current rate of growth is stable. We're at 15% of the American population right now, and it's projected that we'll be something like 25% by 2030. I tend to think that this says a lot about the indoctrination of children into their parents' religion.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Problem with WoW

Last year, I would have told you that I refuse to play Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games on principle. The very concept of a static-state world that I can never meaningfully save, shared with an obscenely large population of peer heroes and heroines, was anathema to my concept of a good game. Two months ago, I would have told you that even though I spent a few months playing City of Heroes, thereby redacting my earlier stance that such a static world could not make for a good game, I would still refuse to play World of Warcraft, because Blizzard was making far too much money to tolerate based on relatively little content. Has any single video game ever had a larger profit margin? I haven’t run the numbers, but my perception as a consumer is that it’s unprecedented.