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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sunspots 3

There are two things about blogs which make groupthink likely. The first is that blogs are partisan; there is no requirement that they should reflect a diverse range of opinion about particular topics. The second is that people tend to read those blogs which most closely reflect their own beliefs and values. - Jeremy Stangroom

. . . I'm not going to pretend that there isn't a lot of dross on blogs. But then there's a lot of dross everywhere. But there's also a reservoir of very well-informed and intelligent people who deploy their expertise for free and to the public's benefit. - Chris Bertram

"Blogging: a head to head debate," The Philosopher's Magazine, Issue 29, RSS feed posted March 18, 2005

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(I referred to the information below in a previous post, on Hebrews 11:3.)

World Question: What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

Many persons were asked to respond to this, and their responses make interesting reading, indeed. One response, in particular, caught my eye. I was surprised to discover that it was changed since the original posting. I didn't see an acknowledgement of the change.

Jan 4, 2005

RICHARD DAWKINS Evolutionary Biologist, Oxford University; Author, The Ancestor's Tale

I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all 'design' anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.

[Note: all of the above, beginning with "RICHARD . . ." was copied directly from the web source, into a file that I have saved for reference, as it appeared on Jan 4, 2005. By Feb 26, 2005 ", but I cannot prove," had been deleted. This doesn't change the meaning, considering the question, but may indicate that someone decided that including this phrase gave too much ammunition to supernatural belief.]

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I recommend "Love, Hate, and Michael Schiavo," by Mike at Eternal Perspectives. I also recommend, on the Schiavo case, a number of posts, and comments on these posts, at This is her March 29, 2005 post. There were several earlier ones. Both of these recommended readings are serious attempts to wrestle with some of the issues, without taking a firm position.

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One author, at least, although sympathetic to the Pope's physical condition, has been unsympathetic to his policies:

Contrary to all intentions conveyed in the Second Vatican Council, the medieval Roman system, a power apparatus with totalitarian features, was restored through clever and ruthless personnel and academic policies. Bishops were brought into line, pastors overloaded, theologians muzzled, the laity deprived of their rights, women discriminated against, national synods and churchgoers' requests ignored, along with sex scandals, prohibitions on discussion, liturgical spoon-feeding, a ban on sermons by lay theologians, incitement to denunciation, prevention of Holy Communion -- "the world" can hardly be blamed for all of this!! - Hans Küng, "The Pope's Contradictions." (Der Spiegel, March 26, 2005)

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Synesthesia (or synaesthesia) is a condition, affecting between 0.5% and 0.05% of people, wherein objects are reported as stimulating seemingly inappropriate senses. (It occurs more frequently among artists.) In the most common type, colorless letters or numbers are reported as having specific colors whenever they are seen. A recent report, on investigating synesthetes with neuroimaging, lends "support to the hypothesis that cross-activation of adjacent brain regions is the mechanism underlying synesthesia."

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