The Free Will thread

Some people on the open thread, which is mainly about socializing, are complaining that it’s been taken over with tedious philosophizing about free will. There’s an easy solution: here’s a new thread just for anybody to talk about free will. Stick it here.

Myself, I don’t believe in free will — I think it’s an obsolete concept that confuses rather than clarifies, and would rather stay out of it.

Massimo Pigliucci has principles

He was given the opportunity to suckle at the teat of the Templeton Foundation, and he turned them down.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my book agent. She had been approached by an editor at a well known academic publishing house with a project she thought I would be interested in. Sometime later I met with the editor in question, a genial person with whom I clearly had quite a few interests in common. Nonetheless, a few days later I decided to turn down the offer and pursue other projects. The reason: the book, which would have been part of a series, was going to be produced as a joint venture by the academic press in question and the John Templeton Foundation.

In short, my reason for declining the book project is that I simply don’t like having my name associated with right wing and/or libertarian organizations like the JTF, the American Enterprise Institute or the Institute for American Values.

More scientists ought to join him in refusing to prop up the Templeton’s mystical agenda.

Anti-caturday post

There is actually a cat in this video. Notice, though, that it only appears briefly in the beginning, looks bored, and apathetically wanders off screen. Why? Because the rest of the video features something far more exciting and bizarre than a mere cat: it’s all about zombie fish, their brains infected with trematode parasites. The cat knows that it cannot compete, unless it goes off and gets its brain tainted with some freaky strange parasite to give it some character.

Another interesting thing about it is that this video is an attempt to get funding for science research. If you feel like promoting more research into how to infect brains and make zombies, donate!

(Also on FtB)


This used to happen every time I visited the Oregon high desert, too: walk into a place that is reliably dry, and it would start raining on me. I come to Houston, Texas, in a drought, and the deluge comes.

So yes, it’s pouring here, and Texans don’t know what to do with this strange wet stuff falling out of the sky. My plane is greatly delayed. All planes are delayed. It’s a snarled up mess.

I’m trying to get through to my wife, who’s on the way to pick me up, and of course she’s not answering the phone. in case she sees this, GET A HOTEL ROOM IN MINNEAPOLIS, I won’t be home until the wee hours.

My students will be devastated. I won’t make it in time for my 8am class, and they’ll have to sleep in.

Outing Thunderf00t

Thunderf00t has been getting threats from an angry Muslim who has been taking a shotgun approach to threaten and extort, and has actually been tossing around documents labeling his brother as Thunderf00t. So he has decided to give up his pseudonymity and reveal his actual identity: say hello to Phil Mason.

I guess he can’t be threatened with having his real name revealed now.

The Houston meetup

Those of you wondering about a Gathering of the Horde in Texas…yes. Saturday, after the free thought banquet, we’ll meet in the Hyatt hotel bar, from say, 7:30 or 8 until whenever. Stop on by. I’ll be all done with all my labors at the convention, so I’ll be ready for entertainment and relaxation.

I didn’t realize how late the banquet goes on. It’ll be more like 9pm, at the lobby bar of the Hyatt Regency Houston on Louisiana street — and of course, you don’t need convention admission to attend.