Why we probably don’t live in a computer simulation

Over at her blog, BackReAction, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder has written a cogently argued article titled, No, we probably don’t live in a computer simulation (March 15, 2017). I’ll quote the most relevant excerpts:

According to Nick Bostrom of the Future of Humanity Institute, it is likely that we live in a computer simulation

Among physicists, the simulation hypothesis is not popular and that’s for a good reason – we know that it is difficult to find consistent explanations for our observations…

If you try to build the universe from classical bits, you won’t get quantum effects, so forget about this – it doesn’t work. This might be somebody’s universe, maybe, but not ours. You either have to overthrow quantum mechanics (good luck), or you have to use qubits. [Note added for clarity: You might be able to get quantum mechanics from a classical, nonlocal approach, but nobody knows how to get quantum field theory from that.]

Even from qubits, however, nobody’s been able to recover the presently accepted fundamental theories – general relativity and the standard model of particle physics…

Indeed, there are good reasons to believe it’s not possible. The idea that our universe is discretized clashes with observations because it runs into conflict with special relativity. The effects of violating the symmetries of special relativity aren’t necessarily small and have been looked for – and nothing’s been found.

Continue reading

Are atheists really atheists as they claim?

I’m pretty sure that most knowledgeable people know that someone who claims to be an atheist is just making an overstatement about his/her own beliefs. As most knowledgeable people who claim to be atheist probably know that even the most recognizable  faces  of atheistic propaganda, such as Richard Dawkins, admitted publicly that they are less than 100% certain that God/gods don’t exist.

My question is: Why would anyone who calls himself an atheist make a statement like that?

Do we have a duty not to procreate?

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, Australian journalist Ruby Hamad explained her decision not to have any children. Ecological considerations proved to be a “very compelling factor” influencing her decision, leading her to conclude that for her and her partner, having a child would be “the more selfish decision.” Ms. Hamad details her reasons in a passage that makes for disturbing reading:

Our planet is in trouble. We all know this. The Amazon is depleting so rapidly, we have already lost 20 per cent of it and will lose another 20 in the next two decades – just as children born today are coming of age. Lucky them!

The Great Barrier Reef is as good as dead, as everyone who is not Pauline Hanson will admit, but deforestation is also happening in the oceans, thanks to the rise in global temperatures. Meanwhile, the oceans will be commercially extinct by the middle of the century, and the entire Arctic is living on borrowed time…

For lay people, the knowledge that one child born today will add 9,441 metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere is enough to turn them off procreation. “You can never take it back,” said one American woman. “That stopped me in my tracks.”

So, is Ruby Hamad right? In today’s post, I’d like to explain why I believe her logic is profoundly mistaken.

Continue reading

How Did The Designer/God do it?

I’m pretty sure that many creationists/ID proponents and skeptics about materialism have heard that question many times often when materialists get  cornered about their beliefs about the origins of life…The usual question posed by materialists is: How Did The Designer/God do it? We can’t recreate life, so tell us how was it created!

Does anyone have a theory about how ID/God/ET did it?

I have my own,  but I’m just curious how much smarter people than me would answer  the skeptics who often add to their skepticism: Did ID/God/ET just “poofed”  life magically into existence?


Is the scientific revolution the result of Christianity’s influence in Europe? No/Yes!!

the issue/question of why europe became the origin for the scientific revolution has been said by many, now and in the past, to be the unique result of christian thought and could not of happened elsewhere in the world and thats why it didn’t.

I see many Christians, of all types, who care about science and who want to resist attacks about Christian beliefs being opposed to science MAKING these claims.

They say conclusions about God and order and laws is from Christian faith and led to seeing this in nature etc etc.

I say this is not true. Christian thought/beliefs had nothing to do with the science revolution and Europe’s superiority.

Continue reading

You and your future self

In my final months at work, I had many conversations about retirement with friends and colleagues who asked about my plans and preparations and shared their own. I was struck by the wide range of attitudes they expressed. For some, retirement was a concrete reality, something they had visualized and thought about in detail. For others it was more abstract, as if it were going to happen to someone else entirely. You might expect this to correlate straightforwardly with age: the closer to retirement, the more concrete the thinking about it. That didn’t seem to be the case for many people.

Continue reading

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

This 2015 paper ought to provoke provoke an interesting discussion:

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit


Although bullshit is common in everyday life and has attracted attention from philosophers, its reception (critical or ingenuous) has not, to our knowledge, been subject to empirical investigation. Here we focus on pseudo-profound bullshit, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous. We presented participants with bullshit statements consisting of buzzwords randomly organized into statements with syntactic structure but no discernible meaning (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”). Across multiple studies, the propensity to judge bullshit statements as profound was associated with a variety of conceptually relevant variables (e.g., intuitive cognitive style, supernatural belief). Parallel associations were less evident among profundity judgments for more conventionally profound (e.g., “A wet person does not fear the rain”) or mundane (e.g., “Newborn babies require constant attention”) statements. These results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims. Our results also suggest that a bias toward accepting statements as true may be an important component of pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity.


Hi everyone. I think we’re collectively at our best when we explore new things. As things seem we’re a little fractious right now let me offer up my idea for what might be a pleasant diversion.

Sodoku: http://www.sudoku.com/

It kind of has a genome and fitness criteria, right?


Let’s take just one 3×3 grid. It could have a genome of 9 digits, and competing fitness functions: (sum or product, max or min) for 3 rows, 3 columns, 2 diagonals and of course some rule about using all the digits (or not if we want better mutations). Each of the 9 genes would affect 2 or 3 (or 4 for gene number 5, in the middle of the square) of the fitness functions. Can we create a simulation, with drifting fitness functions and see how organisms evolve. Will this show islands of function and a path to traverse between them?  This might be fun because a mutation can help in one regard whilst hurting in another. I’ll leave this here for now, let me know if anyone is interested…



Why David Madison’s Slam Dunk Isn’t One

David Madison is a minister-turned-atheist, who has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. Madison was raised a liberal Protestant, but he gradually lost his faith while serving as the pastor of two Methodist parishes in Massachusetts. He went on to pursue a business career, but he’s recently written a book titled, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith (see here for one critic’s review and here for a more favorable review).

However, what put me off Madison’s book is what he’s written on his own Web page. His recommended reading list of 200 books, put together for people who want to “find out how Jesus, Christianity and theism have all been so convincingly slam dunked,” includes dozens of books by authors defending the kooky view that Jesus never even existed (a view not shared by any reputable historian – and no, Dr. Richard Carrier doesn’t count as one; nor does Dr. Robert Price, who got trounced when he debated Dr. Bart Ehrman last year on the historicity of Jesus, as Carrier himself admits), and only a handful of books addressing the traditional philosophical arguments for the existence of God, of which Raymond Bradley’s God’s Gravediggers: Why No Deity Exists (Ockham Publishing, 2016) and Michael Martin’s The Cambridge Companion to Atheism appear to be the most substantive. (There are other books attacking Intelligent Design on Madison’s list, but these are beside the point, as ID proponents don’t maintain that their arguments, taken by themselves, prove the existence of any Deity.) And believe it or not, H. L. Mencken, whose credibility on religious and moral issues I have demolished here, here, here and here, makes the list, too. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is on the list (has Madison ever read John Lennox’s response, I wonder?), as well as Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian, which has been refuted ably by David Snoke.

For the benefit of his readers, Madison has also kindly provided chapter summaries for his book, which (I am sorry to say) do not inspire confidence. A few excerpts:

Continue reading

War in the womb

I’ve never met an IDer or creationist who could explain this, and it should give pause to theistic evolutionists as well.

An article in Aeon:

War in the womb

A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy

Suzanne Sadedin is an evolutionary biologist who has worked at Monash University, University of Tennessee, Harvard University, and KU Leuven.