Open thread on AETV #863: with Martin and Tracie

Martin and Tracie taking live calls. You know the drill!


  1. Monocle Smile says

    Shit, this simulation stuff from “What the bleep do we know” again? Didn’t that nutjob Johanan from a few years ago already beat this to death?

    Hint to all you armchair quantum woo monkeys: TECHNOLOGY MIMICS NATURE. Not the other way around. Just like how the bacterial flagellum isn’t a motor…a motor is a bacterial flagellum. Also, none of these twits understand how quantum computing actually works.

  2. says

    I’m not sure where the problem is, but I’ve just received 5 emails about the show being live in the span of 40 minutes. Maybe someone needs to talk to ustream about that.

  3. Matt Gerrans says

    Thanks for getting the mp3 into the archives quickly! That’s especially nice since the ustream seems to be hosed.

  4. Coming_Curse says

    I’m a little puzzled – but probably I’m just looking at the wrong places …

    Near the end of the episode Tracy mentioned the back and forth between atheist and theist arguments. I think she named the website … unfortunately I’m not able to find what she was talking about … can anyone please help me out with that?

  5. Paul Wright says

    Quick shout out to Martin and Tracey. Great show last night guys, I really enjoyed the conversations. Some interesting callers. Regarding the call about the universe being a simulation, these Matrix freaks really need to leave the internet alone for a few months and try dating instead. Also, Martin I’m disappointed in you. Why didn’t you wear your birthday hat ?

    Keep up the good work guys.

  6. says

    My brother seems to be buying into the “the universe is a simulation” lately. He doesn’t seem to get the basic principle that A has some similarities to B, that therefore A is an instance of B is flawed.

    The moon has some similarities with potatoes. That doesn’t mean the moon is a potato.

  7. Paul Wright says

    Maybe your brother just needs to work through these tin foil hat ideas for himself. Hopefully, with a healthy dose of scepticism and some critical thinking he’ll pull through. I’ve harboured a few crazy notions in the past, but after some thought I eventually dropped them.

    As for the moon/potato thing, come on man ! We all know the moon is cheese. 🙂

  8. omar says

    Okay, I call dibs on writing the first of the ‘Martin Wagner: Boy Skeptic’ young adult novels. “A man who travels the world by sleigh and reindeer in one night? How is that possible? I will not rest until I discover the truth!”

  9. sue says

    For the caller who was asking about retaining his Jewishness, hope that’s a word, while being an atheist. He should check out Humanistic Judaism. Lot’s of resources out there for atheist Jews.

  10. says

    Alright, listening to the “computer simulation” call.

    Keep in mind that, based on our observations, the computers that simulate a “universe” tend to me vastly more complex than what they’re simulating. Just to simulate a glass of water requires a large complex machine.

    Thus, to simulate an entire universe would require the computational equivalent of a farm of billions of universe-sized computers.

  11. says

    For instance, consider what it takes to simulate a single particle. We’d need to store information about it’s location, velocity, mass, type, etc. Each one of these, if we’re using a binary machine, would take many bits to store… potentially infinite, since the universe doesn’t have indivisible units of time, or location (As far as I know)… so we’d need infinite precision to represent it.

    Then, we’d need a storage and transportation system for the data in these bits, to store/fetch to the APU/CPU, etc. Even at its smallest, such a system would need many much particles to construct.

    The ratio of simulated units to simulator units is staggering.

    Though I wouldn’t mind having the universe’s graphics card.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    I actually think time quanta are theorized to exist, but you’re right about position. It appears to be continuous.

    We’d be quantum computing, not using binary, but you still have a point.

    Again, this is all nonsense anyway, primarily because there’s no evidence for any of this and computers are derived from natural observations, not the other way around, as I specified in my first post.

    Have you ever caught any calls from Johanan in Wisconsin on YouTube?

  13. adamah says

    Yeah, great job, Martin and Tracie. So, it was Martin’s birthday? Well, that explains Tracie’s red headwear: with Ustream in and out, I missed the first 10 minutes or so, but figured perhaps it was a fashion statement or phase she’s going through (the sight of seeing Tracie dismantling the cosmological argument while wearing a red conical hat was fun, kind of a “I can dismantle this argument with one frontal lobe tied behind my back” kind of thing, LOL!).

    BTW, it’s guaranteed that whenever mankind discovers some new knowledge or some philosophy emerges, some subset of theists will try to harmonize it with their God beliefs: it happened with Sir Isaac Newton’s deterministic and mechanical universe, it happened with the invention of machines, and it happened more recently with the emergence of virtual reality.


  14. says

    BTW, it’s guaranteed that whenever mankind discovers some new knowledge or some philosophy emerges, some subset of theists will try to harmonize it with their God beliefs:

    It does seem like people are desperate to try to prove a pre-determined conclusion no matter what.

    It’d be like, if we discover a field “Interdimensional Quantum Physics”, that a group of people immediately dig in, trying to figure out how it could possibly be spun to support the existence of Bigfoot.

  15. senor says

    Was that alien Matrix thing a real call? It may be the worst argument, theist or atheist, that I’ve heard on this show.

  16. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Jasper of Maine:

    It’d be like, if we discover a field “Interdimensional Quantum Physics”, that a group of people immediately dig in, trying to figure out how it could possibly be spun to support the existence of Bigfoot.

    Too late.
    Article: io9 – The 5 Strangest Theories About Sasquatch

    Theory Four: Bigfoot is an invisible psychic monster from another dimension.
    Some Bigfoot sightings have been accompanied not by lights in the sky, but rather weird flashes of light in the woods. Also, sometimes his massive footprints just end, as if he was walking along and just disappeared. Some people even claim to have seen a Bigfoot vanish into thin air. Therefore, he must be warping in and out of our dimension.

  17. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Martin (21:33):

    What is this realm outside of space and time that you confidently assert god exists in?
    Where did it come from?

    You’re unlikely to get this answer from christians today, but here is the history of it.
    Article: Wikipedia – Hellenistic Philosophy and Christianity

    Philosophical realism was the dominant philosophical school of Anselm’s day, and stemmed from Platonism. According to Realism, and in contrast to Nominalism, things such as “green” and “big” were known as universals, which had a real existence in an abstract realm, as described by Plato. Accordingly, if a concept could be formed in the human mind, then it had a real existence in the abstract realm of the universals, apart from his imagination. In essence, if he could imagine God, God existed.
    Hebrew thought, however, contains no reference to such presuppositions. The Platonic concepts of realism, perfections, and a God defined as infinite. This became incorporated into Greek medieval philosophy.

  18. Cimmerius says

    I’ve heard it before, though it’s usually more as a thought experiment than an actual argument.

    The version I’ve heard is that at some point we will be able to perfectly model the universe in a computer. As we likely wouldn’t create only one and as it would be a perfect model at some point intelligent life may emerge in a few of these. At some point that life may create perfect simulations of their own.

    So at some point there would be a near infinite number of nested simulations and only one reality. So the odds are we are in one of those simulations.

  19. Narf says

    We just can’t hyperbolically mock these people, can we? Whatever bat-shit insanity we come up with is considered a real probability by some significant chunk of the group.

  20. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    At least with bigfoot, there’s “evidence” and a proposed entity with fairly intelligible properties and expectations.
    It’s the theists that boggle my mind.
    This is a jar of regular dice.
    This is a jar of supernatural dice.
    And this is an empty jar… : /

  21. blue says

    Was it Greg Bear who wrote a great short story about what happens when the processing power of the simulation runs a little short?

  22. philhoenig says

    The Universe is more-or-less quantised with respect to distance, too. Distances smaller than the Planck length could theoretically exist, but it would be physically impossible to measure.

  23. damo says

    Great job by Tracie and Martin. Martin makes an excellent host.

    On a side note the show seems to be turning into an atheist call in show. Kinda lame. Needs to be promoted more to the religious community obviously.

  24. Narf says

    *shrug* As long as they’re still watching. Even the atheist callers help promote the image that atheists are people to, with the same sorts of insecurities and issues as normal people. If they have something interesting to talk about, and there are no real theist callers, you work with what you’ve got.

  25. Coming_Curse says

    Sorry if I expressed myself unclearly … The problem is not that I don’t find the page, I don’t find the content on that page …

  26. adamah says

    Here’s where we need to refer back to those fundamental (and often unstated) suppositions of science, i.e. the premises that we need to accept in order to work in the sciences (eg the natural world is really ‘real’ (not a simulation), and we can study it to arrive at theories that are repeatable and demonstrable to others, thus allowing us to exploit and manipulate properties of matter to achieve useful ends, etc).

    Many non-scientists don’t understand the difference between ‘hypotheses’ and ‘theories’, where the former is a unaccepted and unproven hunch; a ‘theory’ HAS already been demonstrated AND is accepted by those working in the field. That goes to what Tracie was saying about the hard part of science is not coming up with the “what if” questions, but finding a way to TEST the hypothesis.

    To engage in endless hypothesis generation leads one down pointless time-wasting speculative rat-holes, since they cannot be proven or disproved (sounds familiar, theists? They’ve proposed the “God hypothesis”, the existence of accessory appendages like deities that add NOTHING, other then makes believers feel good about themselves).

  27. Matt Gerrans says

    I think they should have recommended Peter Boghossian’s book, A Manual for Creating Atheists at that point. In fact, it seems like it is a common theme lately that callers ask about how to discuss their unbelief with their family members who remain victims of their years of merciless indoctrination. This book has some really nice approaches to dealing with (and hopefully eventually correcting) irrational thinking in a gentle way.

    PS: We need to add a tag for underline, but the way, to correctly handle book titles!
    PPS: It would be nice if the preview actually worked, too.
    PPPS: It would sure be nice if this forum could support deeper conversation trees. Is it just a limitation of WordPress, or a configuration option?

  28. Matt Gerrans says

    Perhaps this is a good sign that atheism is growing, while irrational belief in mythological characters, magic and superstition is declining. It is still a long way off, but it will be a wonderful day when not believing in make-believe nonsense is the default and we don’t even need a word for “atheism” much less a show about it.

  29. Narf says

    I use italics sometimes with single quotes, myself, for titles. We have strike but not underline. I guess underlining just isn’t used very often, online. *shrug*

    The preview works beautifully for me, in Chrome. I lose double-spaces in the preview, but that’s about it. Some browsers just completely fuck it up. The preview displayed many things incorrectly, in Firefox, back when I used that more.

  30. says

    >Needs to be promoted more to the religious community obviously.

    It’s a reflection of hitting the Internet. When the show was local, it got a lot more balance, and more theist calls. I sometimes have to question people who say things like “I want to call, but I have to come up with a good reason.” I’m like, “That’s not how it works. You have a need for assistance or info, or something that others need to know about (like clergy project or secular therapy), and you contact us with that…you don’t just make up an excuse so you can hear yourself on ustream.”

    It’s sad that people don’t get, sometimes, that it’s the content that drives the show–and not “the people.” I can’t get people off that plane of thinking it’s about “me” being on the show…rather than “this or that good idea that contributes to the public dialog in a productive way.” It’s almost like someone saying, “I wish I had some dirty clothes so I could do laundry!” You do laundry when you have something in need of a wash. You don’t go around seeking excuses to do laundry…?

    So, I think too many people bog down our lines on that level, and it’s a shame.

    That being said: YES! PROMOTE THE SHOW TO RELIGIOUS FORUMS AND GROUPS AND FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. Feel free. We *prefer* those callers.

    On the plus side, if the show goes a more atheist viewing route, perhaps we can help people offer better challenges to theist friends/relatives/communities–and we can move our “outreach” in that direction? It may end up being that way whether that is our goal or not…?

  31. Coming_Curse says

    Thanks, I indeed was looking at the wrong places … or to more accurately state the problem: I really have to improve my English to fully understand what I’m reading 😉
    … and sorry for the misquotation …

  32. Matzo Ball Soup says

    It reminds me of the “doomsday” argument (arguing that the end of the world, or humanity, or whatever will occur within the next X years, based on statistics about the likelihood of our being born at a particular time)…

  33. Philip Jaffe says

    Love your show. Great work. As a film & TV production professional I have one small pet peeve and it should be an easy fix: Your levels are too high. The image is overexposed. Iris down 1/2 stop on your cameras. PLEASE!!


  34. Philip Jaffe says

    It is more correct to italicize book titles. The only reason we underline book titles today is because in the past typewriters did not have italics and so the underline became the accepted substitute.

  35. katel says

    I found this show on youtube and I watch bits and parts of it from europe (where I come from).I find myself very very V ERY confused by watching the show, so I’d like to post a few questions… pls not the english is NOT mu mother language….ty
    1. There are millions of christians whose religious education starts from the point: “The bible is NOT a science book, it’s NOT even a history book! If you think of the bible as such, you’ve just missed the whole point!” (quoting from my professor in religious studies in a public highschool). ‘What does your physics teacher tell you when you start studying gravity or electricity? Does he/she throw a bunch of equations telling you “this is the science, do the math”???OF COURSE NOT!He/she will tell you STORIES about the ball falling into you blanket, and the cars moving arount a circle with a traphic lamp, they might even show you a muthbusters episode that fits!!! and only AFTER that (when they think that at least SOME have got the point) only THEN they will write the math…..”
    So…Why should a god be any different from our science teachers? I just don’t get it!
    2. Why do atheists (not just from atheist experience but others that I find on youtube) read the bible as literally as some (christian) denominations do?( I don’t understand what creationists stand for, that’s why I put christian in brackets…)
    3. Why debate??? I mean….most “christian” calls I’ve watched, those people should just go back to school! I’m not even cartain they can analyzi/review a movie or Wuthering Heights!!! They can read – true- but just READ! They don’t seem able to understan/critisize what they have read…no?
    4. I understand that coming from a totally different “world” my questions are of no interest to the people of USA… Still…you are not alone you know… THERE ARE people outside your country, don’t we count for anything? What do you think of us? Are we irrelavant? What do atheists think about us?

  36. Realist88888888888 says

    This is one of the best shows on the “televerse” (televerse encompassing Internet, radio, television, etc). It is mood uplifting, entertaining, and forces one to grow a brain. Hopefully it will be on for years to come. 😀

  37. says

    What takes so fucking long to put these episodes up on youtube or putting the non-prophets up on itunes? I can understand not having time to do a show, but after you guys have already recorded it, most of the work is done. Why do you just sit on it for so long? Is it really such a difficult task to load it up? Don’t consider this as a complaint. It is a genuine inquiry. I really want to understand this process.

  38. says

    1) There are millions of Christians who do take it as history/science. We’re less concerned about those who are less literal about it.

    Okay, otherwise – I agree some science teachers work the way you describe. I don’t think that means that any book that tries to do that has value.

    2) First, the default interpretation for any text is the literal one. If a book says, “The boy barked at the dog“, if you think it means something other than literally a dog barking at a dog, and instead think it’s a lesson on unchecked capitalism, you’ve assumed a burden of proof, and need to explain/support your case.

    Second, because a large number of Christians do take it literally, so we’re addressing them on the level that they bring to us. If a Christian takes a non-literal approach, we’ll address them on a non-literal approach.

    3) Why debate? Because we want a better world. Because we want to educate people to be more rational people. It benefits us all when peoples’ hallucinations and insanity aren’t making electoral decisions, or establishing legislation that affects everyone. The real question is, why wouldn’t we be debating this?

    We may not necessarily be trying to convince the person who we are directly debating, but rather, making them into a case study – an example for others to understand, who aren’t gripped by an emotional investment when put in a spotlight.

    4) Uhhh…? Why do you thin American atheists don’t care about people outside of the United States? It’s typically religious minds that construct us-versus-them mentalities about other countries.

    Maybe we’re a little more focused on our own, perhaps, because we’re busy putting out fires left and right… busily debating trying to save our society from crumbling into irrationality. Though international affairs frequently come up as topics for us.

    What do you even mean by “us”? Non-Americans? As a non-patriotic non-religious person, I don’t tend to think of humanity in terms of nationalities, but rather we’re all in this together. I don’t really think much differently about someone living in Japan than I do someone living down the street from me.