Pat Condell's Positive

Pat Condell's Positive

I like the way Pat discussed the ill effects of having a religion using irony. Not many atheist can be so harsh on religion. And why shouldn't we, when we do know that religion does not give enough merit to be held so dear by any sane person.


On human errors

Everyone, once in a while takes a wrong turn to the left or to the right. There are no straight paths to success, there are only crooked paths that hone talents, skills, abilities. Avoiding committing errors is like avoiding training. It can also be compared to being resistant to change. And change, is a good thing, I guess.

Committing mistakes are but characteristics of combining imperfect human intellect and imperfect instincts with nature's improbability. Even if our species manage to hone our intellect to surpass our current intellectual capacity tenfold, up to this point, there is no way that the human intellect can act beyond the senses. Sense and perception governs almost 100% of all acts. Choices are acted upon only by individuals when there are choices set, not when there are none given. It can range from a simple yes-no question to a more complex yes-no-maybe-it-depends type. In this regard, mistakes happen when the circumstances at the instance are deemed necessary and sufficient. As what the antagonist in the classic movie "Under Siege 2" said, "assumption is the mother of all f***-ups," same is true in the real world, it seems. Assuming things will happen without real proof that they will (most things eventually happen anyway) in the near future could really shake up decisions that should be well-thought of first in the first place.

Perfecting error-handling should be one of the traits we humans should be perfecting. After all, we don't have time longer than what we have to understand everything.


House Season 4 Episode 13 : No More Mr. Nice Guy

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

Read the episode guide  « HERE »

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

I got curious on how niceness suddenly became a medical condition. Apparently, sudden change in attitude ( shown « HERE » ) shows chemical imbalance in the body. In a broader perspective, niceness may be a better "evolutionary strategy" in social organisms like humans, ants and termites, as discussed by Prof. Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. This niceness, throught practice, would eventually develop into "societal norms", and later, as the organisms' thought processes improve, be dictated into "organizational rules" or better yet "laws".

Looking at laws this way, makes it easier to accept "punishment" as consequence to breaking the rules. Because now, you are not punished by mere practicing what you want but because your survival as a species altogether is endangered.

A simple law like "Bawal Tumawid, Nakamamatay!" ( Crossing is prohibited, death ensues!) to more complex rule, (say, the revised penal code) though differing in complexity of the rule and rule-breaking provisions, may be construed beneficial to preservation of the species.

So, be nice to other people, be nice to your family, not because it is dictated by your religion, but because you are doing the whole humanity a favor by doing so.

Also, in the other episode the line was mentioned:

"Religion is a symptom of irrational belief and groundless hope. Altered mental status on the other hand is a symptom of porphyria.... People don't change. They may want to. They may need to."


FF Film Fest and Random Thoughts

FF Film Fest

Last Saturday, I went to U.P. Film Institute in U.P. Diliman to see the first FilipinoFreethinkers' Film Festival. I was impressed at how many people came. I have to congratulate the people who toiled hard to prepare for this event. It is not an easy undertaking moreover, getting people to come and watch movies that would inspire them to think, to criticize, to open up their minds and let their brain faculties work is not an easy task.

Letting Go of God

I really wished that I didn't have to go that early last Saturday. I was enjoying the main feature "Letting Go of God" by Julia Sweeney. I don't know if she was a comedienne of some sort, but I like her style of portraying her "awakening" so to speak.

As my friend Kelly and I walked away from Cine Adarna that day, we talked about our take on respecting people with beliefs other than ours. I explained to him that I do respect people with their beliefs, but I don't respect religion in any way. Julia has a nice way of putting off of people that tries to push their beliefs to her. I don't think that I am going to be like that. I remember about a month ago, a couple ladies from Jehovah's Witness knocked (actually, buzzed) on our door (read: buzzer). I went down to answer the call, when I opened the door, these two ladies started talking about how lucky I am that they were there to bring God's Good News. Just waking up from bed, I looked hard at them. Really hard. Then told them if "God really had a message from me, why give them to you... Tell him to bring it here to me personally instead... Thank you." shut the door, then went back upstairs. I know that they mean no harm. But was that really necessary? I mean come on, if religion is not a business, why this marketing strategy? Were they even paying their flock to perform such "duties?" I think not. And why are they (the flock) doing it? Just to have a favor to their Great Sky Daddy in the after life? Really? That's it? At least Insurances come with notarized paper and you have to pay for it until you die. I really wish that people could see the light on this on their own. Clinging on to religion does not make sense. It's costly and you get nothing from it. It's time consuming and no good comes out of it. It causes panic, trouble and injustice. Promotes diseases and most of all, prevents man's development.

No religion for me. Thank you.


Skepticism in the information age Part 2 : Information


Pronunciation: \ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century

1: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence

2 a (1): knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2): intelligence , news (3): facts , data b: the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects c (1): a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2): something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct d: a quantitative measure of the content of information ; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

3: the act of informing against a person4: a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury

-- source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information

Based on the first definition, information is the communication or the reception of knowledge or intelligence. As we trace back the source of knowledge, we came across data, and now, information. Information is where data (specifically linked data) becomes useful. Useful in a sense that process data can be "interpreted" and that is where learning begins.

Consider this example. When you were a kid, there are tons of data around trying to get into your head. Many are recognizable, others are not. Since there is not enough experience yet to process the data, most of them are rejected until the data is "fine-tuned" to our specific needs.

A primitive form of Information Filtering, if you will, http://cmc.dsv.su.se/select/information-filtering.html(Primitive as it is confined only to filter information through a single media). Much like info filtering in Computer Science, primitive info filtering has its rules and attributes. I am not a psychologist, so I leave the psychology to them. I'll talk about instead information filtering in computer science. Based on the rules and attributes of information filtering, we can come up with 2 types: automatic and social. Of the two, the more complex, believe it or not, is the first one. Yes, automatic information filtering is more complex because (a) Computers are not that powerful enough to think for themselves and (b) "Intelligent" information filtering, in reality, often needs human intervention, which, falls back as social filtering. Search engines are good example of social filtering through "keywords."

Using this "keywords", we usually "come up" ( another term for generalize ) with concepts. This process is called association. It is the time we use informations, team them up with other information and call them experiences ( level up! ). Example: we know that the term "hot" means danger from fire. When we get somehow burned by "a steaming object," we tie it up with the term "hot" and when we saw "a steaming object" again, we always assume that it is indeed "hot." In this case, our experience tells us that finding "a steaming object" will always lead us to finding "hot." So we stay this way unless there will be another experience that tells us otherwise. For example, we again saw "a steaming object" but this time, the "steaming object" is composed of "ice." Of course, at first we can't believe that the "steaming object" is not "hot" as we used to conclude. It is when we experienced ( using one or more of our senses ) that we can give exemption to our "a steaming object" is equal to "hot" convention in the case of the "ice object".

I haven't done artificial intelligence before, but as I have learned theoretically, if we can combine objects, methods and their properties, create association fast enough to access other objects faster than a blink of an eye ( technically, information should be faster than the speed of light, but since the speed of the light is the speed limit of the universe ...) to be able to emulate to some extent, the function of the complex brain of an insect.

In the next post, I will discuss how skepticism plays an important role in defining "objects"


Skepticism in the information age

Without a doubt, we are fortunate that the world we are living in carries information faster than, say, about 20 years ago. We can now enjoy the benefits of information sharing and fast information accumulation at just the tip of our fingers.

Gone were the days when we used to cram to public libraries to research our term papers. Back then, if people are interested about something, they have to take time off from work just to find resources good enough to read to be able to know a little bit more about the topic they are interested in. Now we have search engines, online encyclopedias and online video tutorials and video essays. Wow. if only our ancestors were given this much information, they could have improved their lives and wars should not have been necessary to change the society.

Along with faster, more convenient access to information, comes skepticism. Today, more than ever, we need to be a little bit more skeptic ( but not to the point of being cynical, we can't test everything under the sun, you know) about the things we learn specially on the internet. We should do our best to scrutinize each and every data that we collect before we base our judgments, decisions and inclinations upon it.

In my point of view, there is no such thing as wrong information. I would rather say wrong interpretation or misrepresented data. I believe that information could only be as wrong as much as how you interpreted it to be.

Let us first trace where information comes from and why should we be truly careful about picking data,information and knowledge from everywhere and I mean everywhere.

Data is the lowest level of abstraction, having information at a higher level and knowledge at a higher level still. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data). This means anatomically, data is the basis for all information and ultimately, of knowledge. Data could be anything from physical and material objects to concepts and abstracts. Every second, tons and tons of data are created, manipulated and transformed. In computer science, we quantify data by means of its "atomicity". In reality, the "atom" of data we handle everyday travels so fast that we, programmers, developers and database administrators have to abstract so as not to be overwhelmed by everything.

Ok, going back. Although data can be boring ( since each datum cannot stand by itself ), Collection of data is exciting. This is the time that data can be connected to each other to form a "concept." This is what Mr. Tim Berners-Lee is talking about in his appearance on TED (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/tim_berners_lee_on_the_next_web.html). Linked Data already forms "concepts." It is at this point that data is not anymore abstract. It can now be represent itself and it is now able to stand on its own. In computer science, we call this information "record." A record is a collection of interrelated data that can represent a concept or an entity.

There. I finished talking about data. Next we will talk about information and everything that goes with it.


I don't want to debate creationists anymore

There will come a time when a you will tire down a topic. That's what happened to me. I tire on the topic of evolutionism vs. creationism. I don't want to argue with creationists anymore as I grow with more fondness with evolutionism.

So what do I do about my time now? First there is an incoming bulk of work that I have to attend to. Second, I will be spending some time thinking philosophically. That means I have to post from the ground up of philosophy so I can learn and you and I can see the progress of my learning. Not that I haven't learned anything in college. It's just that when you don't use it as often, you tend to mix up things and I don't want to mix up things, that would just be another internet garbage.

So I'll wait for the next post and let's see what's in store for us in this journey.

Renz out.