Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.


The seductive but wrong allure of the brain: fMRI brain pics, gullibility, now with added neuro-history and neuro-aesthetics, i.e. neuro-scientism, neuro-bollocks

Posted 24-May-2012 at 05:39 AM (05:39) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Feb-2015 at 01:32 AM (01:32) by Gurdur

Pictures of the brain will tend to make you believe silly things. That includes a new subject called neurohistory (in short, an attempt to describe neurological effects from human cultural history), which came up yesterday when Stephen T. Casper (@TheNeuroTimes) blogged briefly about an initial look at issues of enviromentalism and attempts at looking at the effect of cultural evolution on the human brain. While interesting, the whole effort Casper describes strikes me as missiing out badly on two...
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Neurobollocks! A talk about neuro-scientism and neuro-realism in London, UK, 15th of June

Posted 26-Apr-2012 at 08:48 AM (08:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Apr-2012 at 09:44 AM (09:44) by Gurdur

There will be a talk on neuro-scientism and neuro-realism in London, Britain, on the 15th of June this year. The talk will be between @hugospiers (Hugo Spiers, who has also done a bit on art/neuro projects), and @MakingLondon (Sebastian Groes). It takes place at the UCL Festival of London and Literature: One Day In The City packet of events and happenings, which can also be followed on Twitter on @onedayinthecity.

Hugo Spiers defines
neuro-scientism as the stance that, "all behav...
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The power & vital necessity of the narrative, in #arseniclife, #SoLo11 and all science communication

Posted 09-Sep-2011 at 08:15 PM (20:15) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Sep-2011 at 12:13 AM (00:13) by Gurdur

One great talk at the Science Online London conference, which I didn't mention in my summary given in my preceeding blog post, was a breakout-session talk, "So many ways to tell a story", given by Anton Zuiker (@MisterSugar) and Bora Zivkovic (@BoraZ). It was all good, but needed far more time and follow-up sessions; as I tweeted during it, one thing I personally missed was discussion of when narratives compete with each other, and discussion of how to analyse underlying narratives.
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Today is Charles Darwin Day! As important as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and vice versa

Posted 12-Feb-2011 at 07:12 PM (19:12) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 12-Feb-2011 at 10:27 PM (22:27) by Gurdur

Today is Charles Darwin Day, and it -- like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- is something everyone should celebrate. Darwin's discoveries of natural selection and evolution through such selective mechanisms were not completely new when he made them; several others were working towards the same discoveries, and an apiarist (a beekeeper) actually wrote down a fair description of evolution soon before Darwin did, but it was Darwin who did the most work and research of most of the naturaliists at the...
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Everyone looks like Raoul Moat: gin and tonic time, spork time with the Humanists

Posted 23-Sep-2010 at 12:40 PM (12:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Sep-2010 at 12:04 PM (12:04) by Gurdur

So I flew off to London to go to the big RSA/New Humanist event. I'm busy at the moment writing up a report for it for my blog, but it takes a bit of time, so you get this in the meantime, and I should have my report up on my blog later today. My planned report/blog post later today will be factual, well-sourced, and with every preposition fully justified in proof and given some link or 'tother. This blog post isn't. This blog post is just me rambling away, no links, bugger all explanation. You...
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Humanism, science and religion overall and at the 2010 DiscWorld Convention

Posted 01-Sep-2010 at 03:34 PM (15:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Sep-2010 at 04:37 PM (16:37) by Gurdur

There's often heated discussion on the complex relationships between science, religion and society, including on what the greatest human accomplishment has been. Some will claim science as the greatest human achievement to date, as does Alom Shaha in a Cif piece in the Guardian, but I don't agree; while science is incredibly useful and fascinating, science is not what makes us human or worthwhile. I tend to think it's ethics, or advanced symbolic art, which would be the real contenders for the title...
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Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Mistaking the means for the cause; can you prove love?

Posted 06-Aug-2010 at 02:16 PM (14:16) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Feb-2015 at 01:41 AM (01:41) by Gurdur

If I bopped you over the head with a rolled-up newspaper, and you asked me, "Why the hell did you whack me over the head?", and I replied to you, "Well, you see, my motor neurons sent a message to my arm muscles, and here's a handy diagram of how the arm and shoulder muscles work, and here's a nice little peice all about neurons and how they work", would you be happy or satisfied? Would you think your question has been answered?

No, of course not.

If you asked me, "Why...
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Rating: 6 votes, 4.50 average.

Gnu Atheists, accommodationists, New Atheists: definitions of the terms

Posted 02-Aug-2010 at 07:21 AM (07:21) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Oct-2010 at 03:49 PM (15:49) by Gurdur

Since I'm going to be doing several blog posts very soon on certain recent incredible antics by wannabes, I am going to provide here definitions of some of the phrases currently tossed around in hapless word-salads on many atheist blogs and boards.
  • Atheism: Anyone who vocally rejects belief in all gods is an atheist. I am just such an atheist.

    Identification: most often self-applied, sometimes a label applied by others.
  • Antitheism/Anti-theism:
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The new Twinkie defence: abuse and misuse of fMRI's and science, and using the label psychopath as an excuse

Posted 06-Jul-2010 at 04:27 PM (16:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Aug-2010 at 02:09 PM (14:09) by Gurdur

In 1978, Wikipedia link for Dan White Dan White murdered by shooting George Moscone, the then mayor of San Francisco, and Harvey Milk. At his trial, psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that in his opinion Dan White was of Wikipedia link for diminished capacity diminished capacity owing to depression, or in other words Dan White's mental functions were allegedly "diminished" or impaired. Blinder argued that Dan White's change of diet to snack foods and drinks high in sugar was allegedly evidence of White's depression, and thus alleged evidence of his alleged diminished...
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The importance of deciding and being who you are, especially through your choice of morals; looking at ethics, moral subjectivity, nihilism and moral relativism

Posted 27-Apr-2010 at 05:40 PM (17:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Oct-2010 at 08:07 AM (08:07) by Gurdur

I've blogged before that ethics is a field that is a minefield for everyone, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or atheist, whether a bricklayer or a scientist. Ethics are not easy. But your choice of ethics, your choice of morals, is all part of your choice of values, and while changing that a bit is one of the most difficult tasks you can set yourself, since values are embedded so deep within personalities, it is still a very worthwhile task, since it really gets to the essence of you defining...
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Morality and ethics, religion and atheism, objectivity and subjectivity

Posted 16-Feb-2010 at 02:47 AM (02:47) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Mar-2010 at 03:15 PM (15:15) by Gurdur

Morality is always a bit of a big problem for everyone, including atheists. Ethics and morality are actually very difficult subjects, and there are a lot of myths commonly present in people's thinking about the area. Morality is also the best argument against theism, against religion -- but after doing the moral argument against religion to a satisfactory degree, too often then many atheists then simply become confused and incoherent afterwards on the area, or they get only all too coherent but...
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Scientism: or why science is not and should not be a religion

Posted 22-Jul-2009 at 02:45 AM (02:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Mar-2010 at 07:40 AM (07:40) by Gurdur

This came up in a thread on another board. Few traps are so enticing to atheists as scientism, and it's something that comes up quite regularly on atheist boards.

Scientism can be defined as (from the Skeptic's Dictionary):

Scientism, in the strong sense, is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim and hence, if true, not meaningful. Thus, scientism is either false or meaningless.
In the Year 3535,
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