Cool! A new argument for dualism!

At least, that is, it’s new to me. Austin Cline summarizes a report in The Philosophers’ Magazine by Michael La Bossier:

[R]ecent studies of cloned animals reveal that current cloning techniques produce animals that are as distinct in their personalities as animals produced by “natural” means of reproduction. Texas A&M, which has been on the forefront of animal cloning, has found that cloned pigs differ from each other in, among other things, their food preferences and degree of friendliness towards human beings.…

Given that the clones are genetically the same and are typically raised in similar environments, it seems reasonable to consider the possibility of a non-physical factor that causes the difference in personality. After all, once the physical factors are accounted for, what would seem to remain would be e non-physical. In light of the history of philosophy, the most plausible candidate would be the mind.

Ooh! Ooh! I have to test this!

I have in my hand two identical dice. I throw them at the same time, to the same place, with the same amount of force…whoa. A 5 and a 2. How can that be?

I have two quarters. They are the same, right down to the year. I flip them both and…two heads. That’s a relief. I flip them again, and get a head and a tail.

This is amazing! I have just proven that dice and coins have minds! Is there some kind of big rich philosophical prize I can win for this accomplishment? Would the Templeton Foundation hand out a million bucks for proving that there are immaterial spirits haunting objects in the world?

Please—no one mention the concept of chance until I’ve got the money. And especially don’t mention that complex dynamic systems, such as, say, cloned pigs, are highly sensitive to variations in initial conditions, and offer many opportunities for accumulation of subtle, random changes, such as occur during development.

I recommend this as an entrance exam for the priesthood

Maybe it would have been more sensible to start with the water-and-wine trick, and later work up to the walking-on-water finale.

A priest has died after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water. Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle. But he drowned after walking out to sea from a beach in the capital Libreville in Gabon, west Africa. One eyewitness said: “He told churchgoers he’d had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus. “He took his congregation to the beach saying he would walk across the Komo estuary, which takes 20 minutes by boat. “He walked into the water, which soon passed over his head and he never came back.”

The Death of the Republican Brain

Perhaps this is redundant, since Jon Swift has already taken care of it, but how could I possibly resist an article titled “The Death of Science,” posted on a “Blogs for Bush” site? It’s got wingnuts, it’s got irony, it’s got dizzyingly inane interpretations of science. It’s like everything that’s wrong with the Bush approach to science, all in one short article.

What reasons could a blinkered Bush supporter with a petrified brain and no background in science possibly advance to support the claim that science is dead?

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I guess you can be innumerate and still become a professor of public affairs

In a surprising discovery, reading the Wall Street Journal opinion pages will make you 57% dumber, will kill 8,945,562,241 neurons, and will force you to invent ridiculous statistics. Don’t follow that link! The article will make you cry as you go through a Flowers for Algernon experience.

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Please just stop

People, people, people. There is far too much attention being paid to a pair of obnoxious trolls in the comments. Ignore them. Do not call them out. Do not pester them with questions. Just let ’em rot.

I’m going to have to start disemvoweling the stuff from Bres Mac Elatha/Robert O’Brien and Jason, as well as the posts that refer to them, if you can’t leave them be. I get cranky when I have to start hacking up annoying comments, you know.

Rah, rah, rah

If you were appalled at the cavalier cops, here’s another story to make you sneer with disgust. Jaquandor reports on a couple of kids who pulled a stupid prank that nearly killed a couple of teenagers (one had a broken neck and brain damage, and has been through 10 surgeries), and the judge gave them a couple of light sentences, and worst of all, delayed the start of their sentences…until the end of football season.

That’s right, they’re high school football players. It would be unduly harsh to prevent them from playing football, you know. And besides, the members of the football team must all be good kids. Regular saints.

I remember the football team in my high school—Kent-Meridian was big on football. I was in gym class with them. If we’d ever picked teams for our games, I would have been one of those picked nearly last; I was the skinny nerd who would have rather been anywhere else. We never picked teams, though, because the coach always divided the class into the football players vs. everyone else. So one day we’re playing basketball—if you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s not a contact sport—when I go to make a jump shot and a 250 pound lineman takes me out with a tackle from the side. I briefly recall seeing them high-five each other before the pain blinded me: I’m really not used to having my patella on the medial side of my leg, or to having my knee bend sideways. My assailant was not rebuked, nor did I get so much as an apology from him.

I do not have a charitable view of the kind of privilege given to participants in team sports.

Oh, well. The football players who crippled another student in Kenton, Ohio are suffering horribly.

The 17-year-old’s father, C.J. Howard, said members of the community have made crude remarks when his family shops at a nearby Wal-Mart store and that his younger children are taunted by older youth when they play in the yard.

Oh, wow, man. They’re getting called mean names. By comparison, the kids who were nearly killed got off easy.

Is incompetence an act of God?

An Alabama church collapses on a Thursday night; fortunately no one was hurt. As we’ve come to expect, a god gets credit, never mind that maybe a truly beneficent god would have prevented the collapse in the first place.

“Thank God nobody was hurt,” Pastor Jeff Carroll said. “He chose to let it come down on a Thursday evening when nobody was there.”

This story has an additional twist, though. Why did the church collapse?

The congregation and volunteers designed and built the new church apparently without filing plans or gaining approval from local or state entities. Carroll, himself a homebuilder, said he was not aware of any requirements and remains unconvinced a government body should have a say in how a church is built. “If the state and the church are separate, I don’t understand why they think they’ve got jurisdiction,” he said.

It seems to me that houses built on faith lack any substantial means of support, as this little story illustrates. I’m a little bit sympathetic with Pastor Carroll’s position, though: let’s remove churches from all secular oversight and impose no demands or restrictions on their construction, except that in the spirit of fair warning we should require large signs be posted all around them, announcing the hazard but reassuring congregants that god himself is holding the building up. That’ll drive everyone with a lick of sense away from them, and those consenting adults (we’ll have a new reason to forbid the attendance of children!) who believe in ghosts propping up the bricks…well, they’ll be removed from the population one way or another.

I wonder if any insurance companies in Alabama have been alerted to the construction standards of Jeff Carroll homes?