“I love it when Dawkins admitted that!”

I recently watched this duet rant by David Wood and, when he can get a word in, Robert Spencer. David Wood, a new name to me, is a Christian, but not the sort of Christian who believes in turning the other cheek when his enemy threatens to slap him hard enough to cause serious harm. That doesn’t work. (That this doesn’t work is one of the many reasons I’m not a Christian at all.) But Wood makes many excellent tactical points about what you are up against when you interact with seriously Islamic Islamicists.

From that, I then found my way to this snatch of video. In the latter, a bunch of scornful Christians introduce a clip of Richard Dawkins talking about whether there is any evidence he can imagine that would convince him that God exists. Dawkins says he used to say: Yes. If evidence appeared, he’d change his mind and believe in God. But then, he was persuaded that he actually cannot imagine any evidence that would persuade him of God’s existence.

As I say, the Christians are scornful. This guy freely admits that there is no evidence that would change his mind about God!

Dawkins’s position is precisely my own position. I was once challenged along the same lines. If evidence appeared for God’s existence, would I start believing in God? I said: Yes. But then, I realised that I could imagine no such “evidence” that it would not make more sense to interpret in a non-God way. An hallucination, or a trick. Or maybe an alien who seemed to me like God, but who was merely clever at creating misleading effects, perhaps based on knowing more than humans do about how the human body and mind function, by getting inside the workings of my brain.

The reason I think this way is that the idea of God, as presented to me by Christians and Muslims, makes no sense. So to interpret a clutch of “evidence” as evidence in favour this senseless idea is itself senseless. These facts must have some other non-God explanation. If the only reason to believe in God is this one little clutch of evidence, then the chances are that this evidence isn’t actual evidence either.

A theory doesn’t only have to “fit the facts”, as in a small clutch of facts that seem to contradict it. It also has to make sense. What does “make sense” mean? Something like: Consistent with everything else I know about the world. A theory must must not merely “fit the facts”. It must fit all the facts.

The history of science is full of episodes of this sort. A theory is proposed with fits a lot of facts and which makes a lot of sense, despite being radically different from what scientists used to believe. Then, some facts materialise which seem to contradict the theory. Dump the theory! You are refusing to face the facts! You are a dogmatist! But then, these “facts” turn out not to be facts, and the new theory, because of the sheer weight of the evidence in its favour, sails on in triumph. Or, if lots of other evidence piles up against it, not.

I freely admit that what I think about evidence depends on what I already think. As does what you think. Worldviews differ. This is not scandalous. It is merely how things are. To get someone to change their worldview, you have to supply lots of evidence, not just a little bit.

No sport and strange sport

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that one of the weirdest features of what you might describe as “classic Lockdown”, Lockdown when Lockdown was at its most Lockeddown, was the complete absence of professional sport for a sports fan like me to be keeping half an eye on. Nothing. Whole months would go by with nothing of a sporting nature distracting me, either in the morning (cricket), in the afternoon (soccer), in the evening (soccer again), or in the night (cricket in faraway places). A lot of the reason why this blog accelerated around then was this total lack of sport to distract me.

Now, almost equally weirdly, we are having a spell of professional sport with no studio audiences present, but with all the electronics going strong and telling the likes of me about it all.

This morning I tuned in to the final day of test match cricket this summer, the radio version, and of course it was, as predicted, rain stopped play. So instead, they were replaying that amazing last wicket stand between Stokes and Leach that won the test match against Australia at Headingley. This was apparently exactly one year ago today. At first, they introduced this, and then everything stopped. It took me a while to work out why. It was because I can’t stand listening to cricket commentaries where they have spliced in an “atmosphere” backing. I just want to hear what they’s saying with no blatantly fictional crowd noises bolted onto the back of it. And that was why the commentary from a year ago wasn’t working. The default setting for TMS includes the fake atmosphere, and only when I switched to that did the commentary from a year ago kick in.

And I listened to that whole last wicket stand. Having already watched it a while back, on YouTube. I really like radio commentaries. And I find that I get surprisingly little more from actually seeing it on television. Oh, I do get some more, but not as much more as you might suppose. And when it came to this unique passage of play, exactly one year ago, listening to the radio version, which was what I did first time around, proved at least as gripping as watching it on TV.

I think this could be the consequence of my childhood, when radio was an option, and only later in my childhood did the telly cut in. From about six to around ten, all I had was radio, and I loved it.

Something similar happened to me with classical music on the radio. That started even younger, with my mother controlling the radio nobs, not me in my baby chair. But presumably she kept it on because I seemed to like it, and also because it is universally understood, by the sort of person my mother was, that classical music is Good For You, like green vegetables and like the ancient latin and ancient greek I was made to do at school, despite the lack of moral uplift supplied by classical music to the likes of Hannibal Lecter and Adolf Hitler.

Fucking amazing rant by Scott Adams

Yes, this is fucking amazing:

For about ten minutes I thought: this isn’t a “rant”. It’s a calmly but firmly made argument. But then, the argument having been made, it suddenly turns into the fucking rantiest fucking rant fucking ever.

I have long been hoping – really fucking hoping – that Trump doesn’t just defeat Biden, but absolutely fucking crushes him and everything he fucking stands for and is standing next to, by the proverbial fucking landslide.

It is my clear understanding that this Scott Adams rant makes this distinctly more fucking likely. I mean, everyone’s going to want to fucking see this. Fucking everyone.

The “Mainstream Media” of the USA have not been the actual mainstream media for nearly two decades now, ever since the Internet got into its stride. This piece of fucking video fucking is going to prove that more fucking completely than anything else I have ever fucking seen.

I mean, quite aside from anything else, the old ex- “Mainstream Media” would never have fucking allowed anyone to fucking say “fucking” so many fucking times, without pulling the fucking plug on him. But now fucking Scott Adams can fucking do it. And I can sit, on the other side of a fucking great ocean, and I can fucking do it in this little fucking blog posting. And nobody is going to fucking stop either of us from fucking doing it.

Roll on that fucking landslide.

Beethoven String Trios concert on video

Having been at the Wigmore Hall for the concert, right when Lockdown was getting serious, I note with pleasure that I can now watch and listen to the complete Beethoven String Trios, at the Wigmore Hall website.

Neither with orchestral music nor with solo instrumental music does actually seeing it adds much, or not for me. But when it comes to chamber music, I find that seeing the musicians communicating the musical meaning of what they’re playing to each other, either by me being there or me watching it on video, can make a big difference.

Two videos I enjoyed

Both of them quite short, and both of them reached via favourite bloggers.

First, one of David Thompson’s clutch of oddities linked to last Friday. (There’ll presumably be more such tomorrow.) This particular addity was about Who invented toast? As Matt Ridley (whose book about innovation I’ve been reading recently) would have predicted, lots of people. Toasting took a long time to catch on, as did the toaster. Key step towards it: mechanically sliced bread. Both had early drawbacks as well as advantages and were consequently slow to catch on.

And at 6k, watch a video about Iceland, and the matter of whether the Arctic Circle happens and will continue to happen in Iceland. The Arctic Circle moves, apparently. Whether the arctic circle happens and will continue to happen in Iceland depends on whether a very small island to the north of the main island of Iceland is still above water. My favourite bit in this video went something like this: “The only way to find out was to charter an airplane. So, I chartered an airplane.”

“War” in the category list below because Iceland and Britain had one about cod.

Covid-19 is all over bar the “Casedemic”!

I got to this ten minute video lecture by Ivor Cummins via a Facebook posting by David Ramsay Steele. Steele had earlier written a piece which I half noticed a few days ago, as a result of someone mentioning it on my Twitter feed and me happening to be paying attention to Twitter at that moment. I have just now got back to that piece by Steele.

Steele argues that respiratory epidemics like Covid-19 cannot be stopped, and probably not even slowed much in their spread. The point is to get herd immunity (which Cummins calls, rather poetically, “community immunity”), and meanwhile to protect the vulnerable as best we can. (I seem to recall this being argued right at the beginning of all this, in Britain.)

Steele also links to and agrees with this blog posting by J.B.Handley.

Me going into further details is pointless. Follow the above links if you are interested.

I believe that the way to find out the truth about anything is to have a huge argument about it. Roughly speaking, the truth consists of a “model” which most closely describes reality. Eventually, the most accurate model wins. Not all “models” are wrong. But most models are wrong.

If I had to place a bet on which Covid-19 model will win, that is to say: be acknowledged more widely than any other model as the truth of things, then I would now bet on this Cummins/Handley/Steele model.

There is just one detail of this argument I will pick out. Trump and Trumpists have been saying that if the Chinese government had told everyone faster then the worldwide spread of Covid-19 could, perhaps or even definitely, have been confined to China. This is, says Steele, “hogwash”. I mention this merely because I have been a Trumpist about this, but will now have to find some other way to denounce the Chinese government for its handling of matters Covidic. Shouldn’t be hard.

LATER: Following.

The great upward kink in the graphs of human creature comforts

My go-to guy for creature postings, which I like to do on Friday, is Steve Stewart-Williams, and he has recently tweeted about plenty of impressive creaturely behaviour. There’s this shark, jumping out of the sea. There’s this butterfly pretending to be leaves. There are fishes doing social distancing. There are lions and hyenas having a dust up, although the interesting thing to me about this is how little actual damage they seem to be doing to each other. There are donkeys, one of them a bit cleverer. And much else besides of a creature-related sort.

But honestly, the recent SS-W tweet that I want to pick out is the one with this graphic, which identifies one of the most important moments in all of human history:

If that graph, or another like it, is not entirely familiar to you, then it damn well should be. It pinpoints the moment when our own species started seriously looking after its own creature comforts. This was, you might say, the moment when most of us stopped being treated little better than farm animals, and we began turning ourselves into each others’ pets.

Patrick Crozier and I will be speaking about this amazing moment in the history of the human animal in our next recorded conversation. That will, if the conversation happens as we hope and the recording works as we hope, find its way to here.

Some more creature tweets

A scary tweet:

The other thing I found out was that the female monarch butterfly has an array of chitinous teeth inside her ‘vagina’ …

Chitinous? Excuse me while I google that. Here we go.

A nitrogen-containing polysaccharide that is a tough, protective, semitransparent substance and is the principal component of arthropod exoskeletons and the cell walls of certain fungi.

A tweet about how They solved a life-threatening problem for this glorious pelican.

A scornful tweet, about how the brother of a lion was also a lion. Or so CNN claimed.

A tweet about a beautiful, very long but only two-door, charger. Which is a creature.

A tweet about Mama monkey making funny faces at baby.

A tweet about what someone joining in the tweeting called a beautiful bird, which means I can include it in this list. What it really is is a huge nuclear bomber airplane called the Convair B-36, which had both propellers and jets to drive it along. It reminds me of those big old sailing ships that also had coal-powered engines:

Anyone know where that photo was taken? It should be recognisable, if you recognise it I mean.

Are you bored with all these creatures tweets? Well then, here, especially for you, is a tweet about a snake yawning.

Taxi with sealant and construction adhesive advert

I continue to keep an eye out for taxis with adverts. But, taxis are a lot less busy at present, because of You Know What, and their adverts now reach far fewer people.

But, the above observations may be because I, although not myself overwhelmingly affluent, live in a rather affluent part of London. The rich are getting out a lot less these days. But in less posh parts of town, life is much more like normal because it damn well has to be, aside from all the face masks. Taxis are busier, and adverts on them count for more, than either now do in central London.

So it was that I recently spotted this fine example of the species, outside Finsbury Park Tube:

One of the trends in advertising nowadays is that, because people can now easily do no-extra-cost photoing of adverts and read them at their leisure, it therefore makes sense for at least some adverts to be far wordier and more information-packed. There is a definite whiff of that about this advert, I think.

Watch the video here. “The snag list eliminator is here to stay.”

The adverts to which Google will now subject me are about to get very weird.