Thursday, July 12, 2007

Update on last blogging...

Seems I'm not the only atheist who has problems with Dawkins.

I'm an atheist but...

... am I the only atheist who finds Richard Dawkins embarrasing at times? Simon Hattenstone famously wrote "The strange thing about reading his latest book, A Devil's Chaplain, is that I agree with virtually everything he says, but find myself wanting to smack him for his intolerance."

I'm in a different situation - I find myself disagreeing with Dawkins when he rants about religion - yes, rants - I find that someone who can write so intelligently about evolution suddenly seems to take a nose-dive in the intelligence stakes when writing about religion. He notoriously compared religious education to child abuse - Dawkins cited the example of a woman who was molested by her priest, but who was more traumatised by the idea of a friend, a Protestant, who died young ending up in Hell. It sounds like this woman was brought up in an atmosphere very different to the one I was brought up in. When I started school - in the 1970s - religious education was very different from this - I remember one song that was popular with the pupils - "Love's like a telephone". None of this hellfilre and damnation, but Dawkins doesn't distinguish between moderate religious beliefs and those of fanatics.

Horrible Software Design

I've just spotted an interesting entry at Good Math, Bad Math about some truly horrible software design.

Beware of wishful headlines

The news about the iPhone Nano is just a rumour after all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another one bites the dust...

The much-ballyhooed Orbo device from Steorn failed to work at the demonstration at the Kinetica Museum. Orac has blogged on the attempts at explanation by Steorns' CEO.

The device was first mentioned in a full-page advertisement in The Economist in August 2006. Various media outlets mentioned it - such claims usually get mentioned every few years. However, there is a long history of such machines, and none of them has stood up to a test.

Over the past decade or two, the term "perpetual motion" has been replaced by "over unity device", but the story remains the same.

Some, such as Paul Story, have blogged in support of Steorn. Paul Story himself says he bases his belief on how much of a risk the company is taking on being wrong. This was incredibly naive of him - many people have taken huge risks and lost much - think of tulip mania. Mr. Story also is a member of the Steorn Private Development Club, and though he claims that he has an open mind, he lets his excitement slip with comments on how the technology will change humanity. Unfortunately, it looks like Paul Story has invested emotionally as well as financially and this may skew his views.

Professor Eric Ash is quoted on as saying that "I believe that Mr McCarthy is truly convinced of the validity of his invention. It is, in my view, a case of prolonged self deception." - in other words, McCarthy was honest, but fooled himself. Paul Story still believes.