All Posts by ‘Paul

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Evidence and altruism

Evidence is our connection with reality. Without evidence our ideas are just prejudices floating around in a non-existent ether, a bit like Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

Evidence is on the outside and has to be accessed. You have to go and get it. You can’t intuit it and it’s not just going to drop down from the sky and hit you on the head. And there’s no room for choosing what evidence you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject. It’s all or nothing, and it really has to be all because everything rests on evidence.

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WMAP by NASA
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Can there be a God of an infinite universe?

Not the kind of God that most people imagine. Not the kind of God listens to your prayers and maybe answers them, not the sort of God who might tell you to do certain things, like strap explosives to yourself and blow up a bus full of people. That kind of God couldn’t exist in an infinite universe in which everything that can exist does exist. In such a universe, God is the one thing that can’t exist. There could be gods though. If we were to go to another planet and terraform it, make it like Earth, introduce advanced animal and plant life to, do a bit of bioengineering then sit back and watch it unfold, we’d be a bit like the gods of that planet. If intelligent life evolved we might find ourselves being worshipped.

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How do you talk about climate change?

Should we even be talking about it? People obviously don’t want to talk about it so maybe we should respect their wishes. Why force them to talk about something they don’t want to talk about? Everyone’s in favour of green stuff anyway so what is there to talk about? Climate change is really bad! Who wants to hear that? What’s the point?

That’s the standard politician’s argument. There is no political capital to be gained from talking about climate change. Not unless you have a solution to climate change. If you had that then talking about climate change would be easy. The fact that not only do we have no solution to it, we can’t even imagine what a solution might look like. Global international agreement on a scale the world has never seen before. (Except perhaps the Montréal Protocol to ban CFCs causing ozone depletion, but CFCs weren’t an integral part of our economy the way fossil fuels are.)

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Building an ethical Lego mousetrap

There’s a mouse in my kitchen. The ethical mousetrap I bought in the local hardware store a few weeks ago hasn’t worked. Despite the bait, the mouse won’t go in it, or it has gone in it but managed to avoid triggering the trap door.

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God only knows

When I started playing some music the other day The Professor (5) tried to sing something he wanted me to play. Can you play that one, Daddy? It’s my best. They’d played it at the school assembly. After a while I realized what it was and found it.

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Why a carbon tax and dividend is progressive

Suppose you have a very simple society consisting of just three citizens:

Mr Poor lives in a bedsit in Peckham and is very poor. He doesn’t cook, just lives on cereal, biscuits and Dorritos but very occasionally treats himself to a kebab. He gets around by bike or takes the bus. His carbon footprint is 3 tonnes CO2e per year.