Category Archives: Odds and Ends

Philosophers Are Smart and Hot

They seem to be in a realm of their own. At least according to Sanjay Srivastava’s correlation they are.

IQ vs Hotness

As the father of two working professional philosophers I’m not at all surprised. They are in a class of their own: among the smartest and the hottest. Notice that those folks who study religion are the best looking, even better looking than philosophers. But when it comes to intelligence they are barely smarter than political scientists. Head over to The Hardest Science for the background story.

Blogging Hiatus Slowdown

As the two of you who read this blog on a regular basis know, things have been a little slow around here for a couple of months and what there has been has not been all that abnormal or all that interesting. I first posted here on January 31, 2005. Most of the time I’ve tried to post something every day. Sometimes I failed in the daily effort; sometimes I had mutual posts. Some of these posts were substantive; most often they just reflected whatever caught my eye that day. But it has become harder and harder to find something that motivates me. Things still catch my eye and I still have abnormal interests but the blogging spark just isn’t there. What was once a pleasure is now too often drudgery. So, for a while at least, I will post less frequently and only when I really think I have something to contribute. That doesn’t mean that I won’t post tomorrow. It does mean that I won’t post every tomorrow.
I’m still working on a couple of things for more traditional publication. I’m still working my way through a couple more Šumma Ālu tablets. I still have some fresh ideas swirling around in the recesses of my mind. As these things mature I may report on them but then again, I may not. I will continue to read my news feed. If you are a blogger who shares my abnormal interests don’t think you can get away with anything during this blogging slowdown.

Still Another Quotation Of The Day

That Armstrong is a fraud who doesn’t deserve the millions of dollars he’s sitting on right now isn’t even a question anymore. The only real question is…is professional cycling roughly equivalent to professional wrestling on the hokum scale?

From PZ Myers at Pharyngula.
I hope that I will soon be able to post something of my own that’s abnormally interesting. For now I’d working my way through some rather boring, tedious, stuff.

Quotation Of The Day

The fact is that thinking critically, being consistent in applying the same standard of reasoning to all arguments whether we agree with the conclusions or not, takes real effort. It requires questioning ourselves on our motives and refusing to take easy shortcuts out of convenience. Our brains aren’t really built for rationality, they are built for rationalization, and that is not at all the same thing.

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Happy New Year

Special day mysticism isn’t really my thing. Still, certain days aid in marking the unfolding of life. Along with birthdays and anniversaries, New Year’s Day is certainly such a day. So be safe tonight (if I’m not too late). Enjoy tomorrow and all of 2013.

Thank You Microsoft

The Abnormal Interest server was abnormally down between 2:30 this morning and a few minutes ago. Microsoft was kind enough to provide a security update but couldn’t quite get the server to restart properly. How did I fix the problem? I manually rebooted the server. If I were a real webmaster, I’d have an alert system awaken me when something like this happens but I am not a real webmaster and I need my beauty sleep. I’d problem also have a backup server that would automatically kick in. But as I said, I’m not a real webmaster.
The good news – I didn’t get a single piece of spam email or a single spam comment during the time the server was down. But then, I didn’t get any real email or any insightful comments either.

What We Know Is Wrong

Is this even possible? Not if we actually know it.
About once a month our philosopher daughter, Shirley, and I engage in a discussion of epistemology. Often this conversation, by necessity, wonders into metaphysics. This morning was no exception. I will not rehearse our conversation except to say that it was motivated by my own comments about a discussion of historiography underway (again) on the Biblical-Studies discussion list. I will reflect on what we can know, the status of Richard III as anti-hero.

“So much of what we know about him currently is wrong, and in the past we accepted the Tudor version of history unquestionably,” she [Philippa Langley] said. “But not anymore.” [Washington Post]

No, “so much of what we think about him currently (may be) wrong.” If it is wrong we do not know it. It is but our opinion; we believe it. The fact of the matter concerning Richard III or anything else is independent of our opinion. Knowledge always entails some kind of coincidence between opinion and the fact of the matter underling that opinion. While philosophers have added much nuance over the millennia, this core principle has survived since Plato (see Theaetetus, 199ff.). Gettier (or Russell for that matter) didn’t disprove this, he raised a rather serious question about the third condition in classical epistemology, the nature of justification (Plato’s logos in Theaetetus) for one’s true belief.
Langley is likely speaking informally. But informal usage can easily migrate to formal discussion. What we know cannot be contrary to the fact of the matter. If it turns out to be, then we didn’t know it. For this reason, much of what we think we know is at best probabilistic and likely problematic. Rigorous methodology doesn’t change that. It does make our opinions more or less likely, more or less pernicious and ultimately less problematic.
All that said, there are many opinions where the justification is so strong that it is pernicious to think that that opinion does not align well with the fact of the matter. Evolution is an obvious example. Global warming is another. Opinion on any unjustified or even poorly justified religious doctrine is pernicious.