Messing with our new Computer Overlords

Some interesting entailments present themselves If we accept that minds do abductive inference differently than non-minds. For instance it allows us to have some fun with neural networks.

There is an AI experiment from Google that attempts to guess the subject of your doodles. I’ve found It can be easily defeated by simply drawing a random line through the middle of the screen before you begin to draw your picture. Even when your drawing skills are good the AI will usually get it wrong simply because it will assume that the line is an integral part of your drawing and not just a red herring or noise.  Continue reading

Shared Abductive Inference as a proxy Turing Test

This is the first part of a series of posts that are meant to help me think through the relationship between ID and Turing tests. Please be patient I will get to the controversial stuff soon enough but I want to lay some ground work first

Below is a quick refresher video explaining the three forms of inference for those interested.

It’s a given that abductive inference is the most subjective of the three and that is usually seen as a bad thing. I would like to argue that this subjectivity makes shared abductive inference a great proxy Turing test.

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“Astroturf and manipulation of media messages” by Sharyl Attkisson: your thoughts?

I have just been watching a TED talk given in February 2015 by the acclaimed author and TV host Sharyl Attkisson, titled, “Astroturf and manipulation of media messages.” It’s only 10 minutes long, and I would invite readers to watch it and draw their own conclusions.

The following excerpts are some of the highlights from Sharyl Attkisson’s scintillating speech.

What is Astroturf? It’s a perversion of grass roots – as in fake grass roots. Astroturf is when political, corporate or other special interests disguise themselves, and publish blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and publish ads, letters to the editor, or simply publish comments online, to try to fool you into thinking that an independent or grassroots movement is speaking. The whole point of Astroturf is to try to give the impression that there’s widespread support for or against an agenda, when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion, by making you feel as if you are an outlier, when you’re not.

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Take the Evolutionary Turing Test!

The challenge, for all and sundry but especially for “Darwin doubters”, should you wish to take it, is to submit a one-paragraph summary of the theory of evolution. The idea is to see if you understand it well enough to fairly summarize the theory so that you pass as a proponent of evolution. We also need some examples from proponents to test the null hypothesis!

To ensure anonymity, please submit your paragraph by private message to me or another admin and we will add it in edit. (Or email it to me at if you prefer.) Continue reading

The question I’d really like to ask Ray Comfort

Let me begin by saying that I’m a big fan of Ray Comfort’s 2011 pro-life movie, 180, which packed a powerful punch, but also made you think. The hypothetical question which Comfort posed to the college students he interviewed was simple but stunningly effective, in exposing the intellectual inconsistency of the pro-choice position.

Last night, I viewed Ray Comfort’s latest movie, The Atheist Delusion, which is now available on Youtube. Professor Jerry Coyne has already critiqued some of Ray Comfort’s anti-evolutionary arguments – especially the ones about the chicken and the egg, the origin of the eye, and the origin of the heart and circulatory system (see here: his segment starts at 46:45 and runs till 56:30). I will be saying more below about Comfort’s two main arguments for God (relating to the origin of the universe and the origin of DNA), which Coyne did not address.

But the aim of Comfort’s movie is not merely to convince people that God exists. Ray Comfort is, and always will be, a missionary, and in the latter half of the movie, he tries to convert the people he interviews to Christianity. Not all Christians agree with his theology, however, and in this post, I’d like to ask him one question which I think will blow his apologetic to smithereens. But before I do that, I’d like to describe Comfort’s interviewing technique.

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An Intelligent Design Turing Test

This is an open challenge to all and sundry!

Can anyone represent the views of someone he disagrees with well enough to pass the “Turing Test” and be mistaken for a real proponent of those views? Barry Arrington has recently issued this challenge for skeptics of “Intelligent Design”. He seems to have overlooked the point that the test should be anonymous and also that most remaining active ID skeptics are unable or unwilling (or both, in my case) to participate at “Uncommon descent”. Continue reading

The “Soul”

There’s a lot of (mostly very obscure) talk about “the soul” here and elsewhere. (Is it supposed to be different from you, your “mind,” your “ego” etc.? Is it some combo of [some of] them, or what?)  A friend recently passed along the following quote from psychologist James Hillman that I thought was nice–and maybe demystifying–at least a little bit. Continue reading