设想

234 With Age Comes Wisdom


Johnny English: with age comes wisdom

It’s true! I can vouch for that!

By the way, the photo is from the movie Johnny English Reborn starring Mr. Bean, or Rowan Atkinson. The movie is below (my) average on the whole but has one shining moment redeeming the whole “failure”.

This post also signals my return to blog-writing.

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乔布斯


乔布斯死后的大受追捧跟MJ身亡后的待遇大概差不了太多。这个很难评论。Stay hungry, stay foolish这句话我也还没搞懂。
倒是这条将近两个月前乔布斯的旧闻挺有意思。http://www.mpfinance.com/htm/Finance/20110826/ad/ad_gba2.htm

当中提到乔布斯不爱做市场调查,iphone, ipad却大受欢迎。乔布斯对此的解释是“知道自己想要什麼並非消費者的工作。”
这个或许就是消费主义的实质?

I’m so lonely…


很有兴趣知道大家看到这个标题时有什么感受。我相信有人会认为,这样大张旗鼓地宣布孤独,肯定是事关重大⋯⋯或许什么也没有。下面是一个例子。

一段时间之前,QQ上某人的签名相当显眼。签名主人的身份我至今没搞清楚,但这不是重点。签名是这样的:

其实我不忙。所以⋯⋯当你们不忙的时候,可以找下我吗?

不容易看见有人如此直白地广播自己的孤独。平时大家都爱面子,可能如土为安之前都不会承认自己孤独的。当天晚上跟LJ讨论了这个签名,他认为那不过是些哗众取宠的感伤句子。我说那不一样。第二天LJ弹出来说如果可能的话要主动开导签名的作者,因为让事情发展下去的话此人可能会干极端的事情。我了解LJ的忧虑,可是这几乎一百八十度的大转弯实在让人意外之余,又颇有趣。这(两)种想法颇有代表性。就像是我前面说的,这样大张旗鼓地宣布孤独,肯定是事关重大,或者什么也没有。

I’m so lonely这句话可以有多恐怖?我玩Bioshock(一个RPG+FPS游戏)时颇有体会。此游戏发生在一个建于水底的城市Rapture,短短几年间,因为内战,由乌托邦转变为反乌托邦。这个废城里有这么一些敌人,它们是些因为人工改造过多,而不能再被认为是人类的“变异人”(Splicer)。内战的残酷给他们带来极大的心理创伤。那些变异程度相对不高的Splicer在没发现主角的时候往往喜欢自言自语,其中最令人心寒的就是它们不时重复的“I’m so lonely…”如果说怪物靠近人时的低吼令人恐惧,那么Bioshock里头的“I’m so lonely”简直和怪物的吼叫一样令人胆赤。

为了避免给身边的人造成不安,一个人可能强忍住寂寞一声不吭。当他再不能忍受的时候,他向身边的人求救也许再不会有用,因为他已经被看作怪物了⋯⋯因此,如果你问我此篇标题是否代表我的心声,我既不承认也不否认。

[reblog]A bunch of atheists explain why we’re faithless


手动reblog: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/a-bunch-of-atheists-explain-why-were-faithless/

Andrew Zak Williams’s piece on atheists and their reasons for godlessness has finally appeared in The New Statesman. (This is a companion piece to Williams’s survey in April of why prominent religious people believe in God.)

The new piece is in two parts. First are the short explanations written by public atheists, called “Faith no more.” All the usual suspects are there, including Richard Dawkins, A. C. Grayling (whose statement is a model of terseness), P. Z. Myers, Sam Harris, Philip Pullman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg, Ben Goldacre, Dan Dennett, Maryam Namazie, and me.

For almost all of us, it comes down to one thing: lack of evidence.  That’s true even for P. Z., who has previously argued that there is no evidence for a deity that he’d find convincing, since the whole idea of a god is incoherent:

I am accustomed to the idea that truth claims ought to be justified with some reasonable evidence: if one is going to claim, for instance, that a Jewish carpenter was the son of a God, or that there is a place called heaven where some ineffable, magical part of you goes when you die, then there ought to be some credible reason to believe that. And that reason ought to be more substantial than that it says so in a big book.

To me, at least, this part of P.Z.’s statement presumes that there could have been some evidence.

Others, like Sam Harris and Andrew Copson, adduce the palpable fact that religions are obviously human inventions.

A few highlights:  Richard Dawkins’s note on Cherie Blair:

Equally unconvincing are those who believe because it comforts them (why should truth be consoling?) or because it “feels right”. Cherie Blair [“I’m a believer”, New Statesman, 18 April] may stand for the “feels right” brigade. She bases her belief on “an understanding of something that my head cannot explain but my heart knows to be true”. She aspires to be a judge. M’lud, I cannot provide the evidence you require. My head cannot explain why, but my heart knows it to be true.

Why is religion immune from the critical standards that we apply not just in courts of law, but in every other sphere of life?

Michael Shermer:

“In the last 10,000 years there have been roughly 10,000 religions and 1,000 different gods; what are the chances that one group of people discovered the One True God while everyone else believed in 9,999 false gods?”

Bioethicist John Harris:

 A rational person does not waste time believing or even being agnostic about things that there are no good reasons to accept.

I was quite puzzled by Ben Goldacre’s statement, which asserts that he simply has no interest in the question.  It almost seems like an attempt to avoid taking a stand, except that Goldacre is no coward.  After all, there could have been a deity responsible for the universe—at least most humans think so—and that belief has conditioned a huge segment of human culture and behavior.  Why is it uninteresting?  If there’s no evidence for gods, well, then that’s a good reason to cease caring, but to not care a priori?

I think probably the main answer to your question is: I just don’t have any interest either way, but I wouldn’t want to understate how uninterested I am. There still hasn’t been a word invented for people like me, whose main ex­perience when presented with this issue is an overwhelming, mind-blowing, intergalactic sense of having more interesting things to think about. I’m not sure that’s accurately covered by words such as “atheist”, and definitely not by “agnostic”. I just don’t care.

I was deeply puzzled by Stephen Hawking’s statement:

I am not claiming there is no God. The scientific account is complete, but it does not predict human behaviour, because there are too many equations to solve. One therefore uses a different model, which can include free will and God.

“The scientific account is complete”?  Account of what?  It’s not even complete in physics!  And why on earth would our failure to make “equations” to solve human behavior (God help us, what an ignorance of biology the man has!) somehow allow models including not only free will, but God?  The statement is largely incoherent.

And, after laboring a long time on my own statement, I can only envy how well Anthony Grayling says it all in a single sentence:

I do not believe that there are any such things as gods and goddesses, for exactly the same reasons as I do not believe there are fairies, goblins or sprites, and these reasons should be obvious to anyone over the age of ten.

Several people, including me, mention the problem of evil, which can be “solved” by theologians only by the most circuitious and unconvincing logic.  Others take the Laplace stance: we don’t need God.

But go read them all, and take comfort that so many rational people have converged on the same reasons for atheism.  I haven’t had time to read the comments (I’m off to the Hermitage), but perhaps readers can highlight some of the better or funnier ones.

In a separate piece called “The invisible Big Kahuna,” Andrew Zak Williams summarizes the answers. Although I don’t know his own stand on religion (I didn’t ask him when he interviewed me), it seems that he’s sympathetic to atheism.  This is based on the peroration of his piece:

But if you rely on blind faith, what are the chances that you’re going to see the light?

For others, their religion satisfies them intellectually. Yet when they can’t reason their way past specific problems (say, suffering or biblical inconsistencies), their faith comes riding to the rescue. But faith is hardly a white horse: more like a white elephant, trumpeting a refusal to engage in debate as though it were something about which to be proud.

The atheists that I spoke to are the products of what happens to many intelligent people who aren’t prepared to take important decisions purely on faith, and who won’t try to believe simply to avoid familial or societal pressures. And as philosopher Daniel C. Dennett put it: “Why try anyway? There is no obligation to try to believe in God.”

And then, after quoting P.Z.’s very strong attack on religion, Williams simply says, “Amen to that.”

217 智能设计与伪科学


我在校园几次遭遇传教的基督徒,当得知我是理科生之后,都喜好向我介绍智能设计理论,似乎该理论特别科学。但是,智能设计,是伪装成科学理论的上帝创世论,归根结底就是伪科学。这里暂且不讨论那些经过高度抽象化的智能设计理论。我们要以那些在前线工作的传教士所理解的智能设计作为文本。

案例1,一男一女的传教士组合拿出一本彩色的小册子(我收藏了三本类似的小册子以供消遣),上面某页试图以细胞为例支持智能设计理论。该页提到每个细胞(其实是一个真核细胞,属于细胞里面比较复杂的种类,但是该小册子没有提及这个情况)都有多少个零件,并假设每个零件出现的概率为多少多少(反正小于一),然后以乘法原则算出极小的概率。男传教士说,这么小的概率,说明它自然进化出现的概率是很小,意味着设计者,也就是上帝的存在。先不说小册子为什么不挑复杂度小得多的原核细胞,就说其概率计算的过程完全忽略动态过程,相当幼稚。即使你算出概率足够小,也丝毫不证明背后就一定有设计者存在。

案例2,又是一本小册子。作者这次挑了细菌的鞭毛开刀。原文片段如下:“鞭毛是由大约40种蛋白质组成的⋯⋯令人惊讶的是,鞭毛在20分钟之内就可以自行组装完成!⋯⋯细小的细菌鞭毛能够把40个组件按照次序准确地自行组装,还可以运作得很好。为什么鞭毛可以做得到呢?科学家想破了头也想不通!你认为怎样?细菌鞭毛是碰巧产生的,还是经过设计的呢?”

如此草率的论证方式充分体现了智能设计的伪科学本性。

但这么一个伪科学,因为教会势力够强大,在美国的有些中小学居然能和进化论一同教授,甚至有智能设计取而代之的情况,也难怪某些无神论者坐不住。

注:那三本小册子标题各不相同,但均由Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.。

注2:谁说宗教和科学不矛盾来着?可否根据上面的情况重新解释一下?

216 《光荣之路》(Paths of Glory):非人性的黑暗


我看过不少我认为值得大书特书的电影,却很少能够写出来。为了加快生产,我决定降低质量,多写“评”,而少写思想。

这部1957年上 映,由大导演Stanley Kubrick执导的战争电影(细分的话,可以说是反战电影)极端不和谐,即使在美国也显得很不和谐。其实细想一下,这部控诉各国军方用爱国主义和民族主 义让士兵送死的电影,显然在任何打算否认这个控诉的国家都是不受欢迎的。塞缪尔·约翰逊的名句“爱国主义是无赖最后的避难所”更是作为台词直接念出来。

剧情概要是一站期间,某法国将军急于领功,命令部下强行攻占一德国阵地。进攻自然以失败告终,将军为了推卸责任和发泄愤怒,给几个士兵加上叛国者的罪状,然后枪毙,以此杀鸡儆猴。

影片的基调偏黑暗,但远不及后来的《发条橙子》。在电影里,你可以看到爱国、杀戮和送死奇怪地纠缠在一起。如果你问有什么强大理由让你去抛弃爱国主义和民族主义,《光》提供了这么一个答案:一个人能对另一个人作出的非人性暴行是不分国籍、不分民族的。

也许值得说说的,是影片中基督教的形象。当三位长官意志的牺牲者在监牢里等待判决消息时,一个颇为神气的神父走进监牢带来坏消息,他自己也没什么办法。这位神父的出现,作为基督教的代理人,等于是告诉大家,在20世纪巨大的不公正面前,上帝也没什么办法。宗教的无能为力,和神父的道貌岸然,即使连曾经信仰上帝的人都会怒火中烧,难怪临刑士兵之一的阿诺指着自己的酒壶,愤怒地对神父说:“这(酒)就是我的信仰。”神父保证阿诺可以获救,却使得后者狠狠地给神父来一拳。在这个时代,宗教给人的慰藉,可能还不如一瓶酒。死刑犯听福音的权利,跟在极权国家里下A片的权利,又有什么不同呢?

要 说“评”的话,我觉得这部电影近乎无懈可击。Kubrick的招牌Tracking Shot(追踪镜头)极好,特别是将军走完大半个战壕检阅手下士兵,以及进攻蚁丘的场面。审判士兵以及他们被处决之前的一举一动,都拍得很精彩。btw, 士兵临刑的那个晚上让我想起萨特的小说《墙》,两者的基调基本一致。我想说这部电影可以再黑暗一点,结局不应该突然逆转整部电影的黑暗基调,但这只是我的 个人喜好而已。还有,这部电影是黑白的,估计可以吓跑很多人。

读者可能觉得为什么我对我写到的电影评价都很高,那是因为我对烂电影的容忍力是很低的,我一般不会主动看烂片受罪,除非该片是Rambo系列,Saw系列,Slasher film,色情三级,或是A片。因此,我很少会看刚上画的电影。

A quote


这可以看作是对 SB文 所撰之文极好的回应:

‘从未出生——这是何等的自由’,后来他(齐奥兰)这样表述。他这时为什么还不及时选择自杀呢?这是后来与齐奥兰讨论人生观问题的一些批评家和对话者提出的恶意问题。误解在于,如同生一样,死也是无意义的。在对于世界的自身存在的无意义感到震惊之后,自杀并非其必然结果。相反,只有那些乐观主义者,他们感觉到自己存在的根本被抽掉了才会对此感到失望,并进而产生自杀的念头;而不是悲观主义者、没有幻觉者,那些最后终结了希望的幻想的人。

摘自《法意哲学家圆桌》

反盗版与言论自由


Google boss: anti-piracy laws would be disaster for free speech

照我所读过的一些新闻来看,美国政府在处理网上盗版问题的时候,似乎拥有和天朝政府一样大的权力,比如可以在DNS服务器做手脚之类。而且可以先斩后奏或者斩了也不奏。看起来像是政府打击反对派的不二法宝,于是就有了反盗版法案可能损害言论自由的担忧。

上面链接的新闻中提到,英国也想步美国后尘,搞个类似的法,遭到Google大佬Eric Schmidt的恶评。后者认为实施了这种法律的话,情况会跟天朝类似。

于是我在想天朝可有发生过用反盗版的借口打击言论自由的案例。也许大家都会想起verycd差点被天朝以版权侵害的理由砍掉的事情。想了一下又觉得不太对,因为verycd本身就没什么敏感内容,它本身也做自我审查,根本不能代表言论自由。天朝作势要砍它,不过是想提醒大家谁是老大而已。其实,天朝有大把的理由,如果哪一天要用反盗版作借口去打,那不过是赶时髦而已。