eirias: (Default)
H0: Atheists have no values.

We can dispense with this straightaway, because everyone (within a reasonable margin of error*) values chocolate ice cream.

H1: Atheists have no absolute values.

This is seductive, because justifying absolute morality is really very difficult, and anybody who has argued about it with a theist will have noted that the core of that argument is "God says so." But as this is a proposition whose truth value cannot be determined, it does not actually add much to the argument -- pointing to God does not solve the problem.

H2: Atheists may have absolute values, but they are unjustified.

I think I like this hypothesis best. If theists don't have to justify their values, why should atheists have that burden? Put another way, the mere fact that a philosophy is illogical does not automatically make it theistic.

On the other hand, it does make an interesting metaphor: god as the set of unjustified propositions about the universe that a person believes in. Not god the creator, necessarily -- god the glue. A depersonate god, a sterile god. An anencephalic god.



*(Hi, [livejournal.com profile] leora.)
eirias: (Default)
No idea how old it is, but here's a Salon article I found on straight fairies. (I wonder if those guys are what last year's crowd liked to call "metrosexuals")

I was recently in a conversation with someone who was convinced her cousin had married a gay man. Wouldn't hear "maybe he's just a little effeminate" or other such arguments; her faith in his fruitiness was unshakeable. Me, I'm a little uncomfortable with the gender stereotyping that goes along with such surmising. I've been to a few queer events with my favorite lesbians and I do know that there's definitely a different vibe, somehow. But nevertheless I feel there's something a bit... inappropriate... about making assumptions about other people's sexuality. Part of that is because I think that people are complicated and sexuality and social roles are complicated and the labels people choose may tell you more about them than the labels you infer. Part of it is I guess that I think making public inferences about behavior that most people consider private is almost always rude. Particularly when you come at it with the attitude that you know them better than they know themselves. Even when that's true, it's never polite to say so.

Not that I've never done it myself (at least privately; I've never been in the business of gaydar self-promotion). But there have definitely been people who have surprised me, and I try to remember that.
eirias: (Default)
Now here's an interesting essay: Four Reasons to be Happy about Internet Plagiarism

A lot of this article can be summed up as "our way of evaluating students sucks because it has no ecological validity, which is why we find ourselves in the plagiarism pickle in the first place." Which, that's nice and all, but the authors don't really offer alternatives. On the other hand, the analysis they provide in point 4 of the difference between undergrad citations and grownup citations is really good, and I actually feel like I learned something from reading it, or that something I maybe understood fuzzily and implicitly has become explicit. Cool.

On a side note, my aunt is taking a graduate course on student assessment, and she made some comment last weekend about how she'll never look at a test the same way again. I think maybe I need to check out the ed psych offerings...
eirias: (Default)
Something I really despise about modern American political culture: It's time-consuming. It's no longer enough to hold a political opinion and vote or spend money accordingly: now one must also attempt to hold it loudly, where congresspeople and corporations can hear. The chief problem with this is that it's difficult to be heard when everyone else is also yelling. It's an arms race of loud opinions and letter campaigns. Meanwhile, the laundry piles up.

Unfortunately, I am a stakeholder in this overhyped culture war, and so as appealing as sitting it out all Candide-style might be, I feel guilty and nervous if I do that, because next thing you know it'll be no birth control and no evolution in schools and church for everyone and "First they came for the Communists" and blah blah blah.

Really, it's about a sense of perspective, i.e., not having one. How creeped out should I be by the Dominionists? by prisoner abuse in Iraq? by the demise of the filibuster? by North Korea and their nukes? by fuckin' Dan LeMahieu and his crusade against university contraception? Well, I don't know, and guess what? I bet you don't, either. Y'all have a mean age somewhere near 30; and while a small handful have been more careful observers of politics than I and for longer, that's still not enough time to get a feel for, say, how to tell signs of a warning democratic apocalypse from signs that the leadership is too big for its britches and is going to get its ass whupped sometime within the next ten years. You don't get a lot of datapoints on "fascist takeovers of Western countries" these days. As for "fascist takeovers in Western countries in the Information Age and [fill in some other details of modern life I can't think of that might be salient factors in how the political landscape plays out]," yeah, I'm not seeing any datapoints there.

Everyone I know is pissed off and scared these days, when it comes to politics. Don't get me wrong; I'm feeling it too, believe me. But every so often I wonder, isn't this just a huge waste of time, in the end? Don't we have problems to solve and art to create and new countries to visit and music to listen to and things to learn? Isn't that going to give more satisfaction in the end than a whole bunch of inchoate yelling at people who only give a shit if you're giving them money, which you might not have anyway, having already given it away to the eleventh lobby group to come canvassing this week?

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