So, you may have noticed it snowing a bit over the last couple of days.

And unless you've been both housebound and had your internet connection cut off, you're probably also heard some idiot smugly asking "whatever happened to 'global warming', then?" (Or, as the Daily Mash delicately puts it, "Britain Trapped Under Two Feet of Global Warming Bullshit".)

Snow in GorgieNow I'm seeing a lot of responses to this argument along the lines of "we shouldn't call it global warming, it's more properly known as climate change. The temperature might go down, or up, it might get wetter, or drier, but it's all connected to the same cause".

I do not like this argument.

I do not like it because it sounds suspiciously like an ad hoc justification; that is to say, it is not properly falsifiable*. Flood, drought or blizzard, no matter what odd events happen, it could be viewed under this line of reasoning as evidence of climate change — in fact, the only thing that would falsify this would be for the weather to remain uniformly dull and predictable — and in the UK, that in and of itself would be viewed as unusual.

Now I know how climate change denialists think, because I was a little slow to accept the evidence myself — and indeed, I retain a small mental devil's advocate about the issue to this day. To the denialists, climate change is unscientific, a matter of religious conviction rather than evidential reasoning, and arguments like the above will only bolster their sense of smug, self-satisfied cynicism.

Instead, stick to the basics. Whether it's the Gulf Stream, solar flares, weather nymphs, or just random fluctuation, Britain's having some cold winters. So what? Global temperatures have been steadily rising for the last half century, and in the face of that, local yearly fluctuations just aren't relevant.

* If you have not read that essay, please do, it's a very influential one in the history of the philosophy of science, and yet fairly easy to follow!

[When deciding between what is right and what is wrong] do not go by:

  • ...what has been said for many years
  • ...what is compatible with traditional practice
  • ...what is said in widespread news and rumors
  • ...what is written in a book
  • ...what logical reasoning leads you to believe
  • ...what a philosophy says should hold true
  • ...what is "common sense"
  • ...what fits with your preconcieved opinions and theories
  • ...what a person of high social or intellectual standing says
  • ...what your guru tells you

...but if after observation and analysis you find that certain moral guidelines lead to harmony, are without blame, are praised by the wise; if, undertaken and observed, they lead to benefit and happiness, then you should abide by them.

--Buddha, The Kalama Sutta

spudtater: (Default)
( Jul. 14th, 2005 04:49 pm)

Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
“It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
        --Jean-Paul Sartre

“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.”
        --Blaise Pascal

Existentialism

90%

Justice (Fairness)

70%

Utilitarianism

70%

Hedonism

50%

Nihilism

45%

Apathy

45%

Kantianism

35%

Strong Egoism

20%

Divine Command

0%

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com

``I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that!'' — Tom Lehrer

Slightly rambling )

Now I must go watch Doctor Who.

Because [livejournal.com profile] batswing requested it, and because I don't write this sort of stuff down enough recently. This is more a sort of meandering train-of-thought than an essay, but those are more fun, aren't they?



I yam what I yam )



Hmmm... it seems I'm a lot more wordy nowadays!

Here's a short story I wrote during the summer. I originally wrote it for [livejournal.com profile] mistersleepless's site, but he didn't run it (he had a load of submissions; maybe he just overlooked mine or something...)   8^P   8^)

I've rewritten it a touch now that I don't have to stick to under 200 words. It's still blink-and-you've-missed-it short, though. Hopefully just enough to get you thinking.

The Grandfather Paradox )

I was thinking about Conway's Game of Life (look it up! now!) once again, thinking about patterns that generate infinite sequences of pattern, when I wondered: "is there a Conway pattern that will generate everything possible in the Conway universe? I thought of the Turing-completeness of the game of life, and the answer struck me.

The proof: yes there is! )

This is mind-blowing! If the universe follows a finite and deterministic set of laws like the Game of Life does, and is Turing complete, then it is possible, but not neccessary that every possible finite structure will be created, every possible thought will occur to somebody, every possible book will be written, every possible LJ post posted, that Alex will exist in infinitely many variations infinitely many times. It all depends on the initial configuration. Does God exist? Was this his plan? Is this the true translation of "let there be light"? Or is he nonexistent? Or incompetent?

Under current models of the universe, it is unlikely that this is the case. For the universe to be Turing complete, it would seem to require infinite amounts of energy, matter and time, which doesn't appear to be true. Mind you, perhaps we could somehow create things smaller and smaller; entire worlds the size of the head of a pin, which would create smaller worlds, ad infinitum (N.B. each world would also have to operate at twice the speed of the last). Then it would be possible and we can rejoice in the prospect of infinite variety in all things. Or despair. 8^)

.

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