The Many Tribes Society

King DavidIf I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.

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Left behind

The RaptureThe date and time have come and gone and you are still here. As we are waiting for the rationalization from Harold Camping, it is time to ponder what this means for you. A few possibilities:

  • You are not a True Christian. You should probably enjoy life while you still can.
  • Rapture is postponed to another date. Redo Harold Camping's calculations and prepare new signs for whatever date you come up with.
  • The whole thing was the crazy ravings of a religious nut. What else could turn out to be a house of cards built on extremely bad premises without any regard for reality?

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If you still watch TV news after that...

Sinking deeper than the bottom of the ocean: ABCYou have heard about "Botox Mom", haven't you? This charming lady claimed on TV that she was giving her 8-year old daughter Botox shots in order to remove imaginary wrinkles and prepare her for some of those horrible "beauty" pageants.

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More Aperture Science: the Light Bridge

The Light BridgePortals are not Aperture Science's only remarkable scientific accomplishment. Among their other inventions is the Light Bridge, that provides a stable and seemingly immaterial surface that people can stand on. The bridge can also be turned on or off instantly.

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The physics of portals

Fuckin' portals - how do they work?You heard it like me, someone just asked about the physics of Aperture Science's neat Portal Gun. I'll try to give an account of what we know from the material that Aperture recently made available and from what can be deduced from demonstrations of the product.

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Rees, ethics, aesthetics and religion

Sir Martin Rees said this right after receiving a huge pile of money from the Templeton Foundation:

[…]I think just as religion is separate from science, so is ethics separate from science. So is aesthetics separate from science. And so are many other things. There are lots of important things that are separate from science.

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About nuclear energy

Credit: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory CommissionI just read Brian Dunning's post about the Fukushima explosion and was about to comment there but they are blocking comments from behind proxies, which is incredibly stupid on their part. So there, new post.

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Do not reward luck

Dead monkeyHere is a little experiment. I have built a bunch of programmed agents that are using a variety of strategies to try and predict the outcome of a randomized event. The event in question is the roll of a dice. The twist is that the probabilities of all sides of the dice are not equal: there is a distribution of probabilities that is itself decided randomly before the experiment.

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Apologetics is not a proper form of reasoning

Apologetics is the systematic defense of a position. It's usually done by religious people in defense of their dogma.

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The Unicorn Paradox

Dieu Et Mon DroitThe other day I heard someone say this on NPR:

You can only see unicorns if you truly believe in them.

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