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.


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。

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。”

I’m so lonely…





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。


[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






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.。


216 《光荣之路》(Paths of Glory):非人性的黑暗


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。




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:




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


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。