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6th Sense Enhancement

Atheist Hell

In light of recent discussions, I thought this was terribly apropos:


annnnd done. ha!

Edited to add
I just found this article pretty damn entertaining. This author is notorious for [near-viciously sometimes] attacking religion and those who blindly promote their creationist views. Enjoy!!

The Banana Man Thinks He's Got Atheists On The Run.

did you know?

a friend showed this to me. thought i'd share - interesting tidbits to think about.

Aggravated Agnosticism

Sorry -- LJ Cuts are not working for me. GR!!!! 

First of all, I'm sorry I skipped a day on this. Oh well -- I'm sure the suspense was killing all of you. Are these valid or invalid, but again -- more importantly -- are Column A and Column B the same for each part? Does the definition in Column C change whether Column A is the same as Column B?

(For this exercise, ignore natural phenomena and cultural/biblical studies as "evidence"-- these are debatable. At this time, there is no way to prove or disprove that a supernatural being exists.)
The LogicCollapse )In EnglishCollapse )
So -- Take that and run with it or burn me at the stake. Either way, should be interesting!!! 


One of the gifts in the family white elephant gift exchange was a Mensa page-a-day calendar. My cousin Chad posted some of the questions to the family Yahoo group today.

1. Fill in the blanks to complete the 14-letter word below

H _ _ _ A _ _ ER _ _ N _ C

2. In the seven term sequence A, B, C, D, E, F, G each term after the
first three is the sum of the previous three terms. If D=12, E=17 and
G=60, determine the value of A

3. What do these five things have in common? Nifty, Rational, Collar,
Skirts, Davis

Have fun! Comments are screened.

ETA: SEE COMMENTS FOR ANSWERS. bigbaboo was correct!

Day 2

Are these valid or invalid, but again -- more importantly -- are Column A and Column B the same for each part? Does the definition in Column C change whether Column A is the same as Column B? 

Part 1i. If A, Then B 
ii. Not A
iii. Then, B.

[(a->b) & (-a)] = (b)
i. If C, Then D
ii. Not C
iii. Therefore, D.

[(c->d) & (-c)] = (d)
Part 2i. If A, Then B 
ii. Not A
iii. Then, B.

[(a->b) & (-a)] = (b)
i. If C, Then D
ii. Not C
iii. Then, D.

[(c->d) & (-c)] = (d)
A = Evidence exists that World is Flat
B = Belief exists that world is Flat
C = Evidence exists that World is not Flat
D= Belief exists that the world is not Flat
Part 3i. If Not A, Then D 
ii. Not A
iii. Then, D.

[(-a->d) & (-a)] = (d)
i. If Not C, Then B
ii. Not C
iii. Then, B.

[(-c->b) & (-c)] = (b)
A = Evidence exists that World is Flat
B = Belief exists that world is Flat
C = Evidence exists that World is not Flat
D= Belief exists that the world is not Flat


Logic Exercise

This post will be updated each day to expand the scope of the problem until we reach the finale.

For each part please tell me what is valid and invalid along with your reasoning -- but more importantly are each 'pair of arguments' valid or invalid for the same reason.

Part 1:

I know you all might think I'm wasting your time on this one, but I'm fairly certain that as the days pass the debate will be a worthy one.


1. If A, Then B
2. Not A
3. Therefore, B.


1. If C, Then D
2. Not C
3. Therefore, D.

Of Markets and External Interference

Rational consumers make cost-effective choices based on the information they have available. Meanwhile, there are either enough producers in the market that they create competitive constraints on one another, or barriers to entry are so low that this fact creates constraints, or a combination of the two. In any case, if this holds true, the system itself determines the price, which will be equal to the marginal cost, and no agent has market power, i.e. they can't, in a sustainable way, raise prices profitably. In that way, the market achieves an equilibrium and is optimally efficient.

There are several assumptions in this model that need to hold true for it to lead to the desired outcome, the first of which being rationality, the second of which being perfect information and the third being the existence, or the potential existence, of substitute products. In real life, it's not clear that consumers are necessarily rational when making choices (there may be a degree of rule-following behaviour, for example), nor does it hold true that consumers will necessarily have access to perfect information. It might also be the case that undertakings engage in behaviour that actively seeks to restrict competition amongst themselves, through cartels or other such agreements.

To deal with all of this, rules are created. You can't force people to make cost-effective decisions, not in liberal democracies, anyway, but you can have rules regarding information. This includes rules on information that the consumer should be made aware of on a given product, as well as rules on advertisements, to ensure that consumers aren't misled. You also need ways of breaking harmful cartels and other anti-competitive agreements and behaviour; in the latter case, particularly when the undertaking has a degree of market power. In all of these cases, rules are there to protect the functioning of the market and, therefore, efficient allocation of resources. Cartels have been broken by the European Commission that had been functioning for close to 29 years, for example.

The state may also decide to intervene in cases where the fact a certain good is a public good leads to a shortage (look at, say, vaccination drives), and also when the market is structured in such a way that it will result in many people not having access to the good (look at healthcare provision). When you look at primary or secondary education, for example, there is a tremendous gain for society in having an educated population - a gain that shifts primarily to the individual when we move on to university and specialisation, which is why we have public education. This doesn't mean creating a state monopoly, but it does mean creating a public service.

So, the market is obviously capable of a degree of self-regulation, but problems like asymmetry of information or shortages of crucial services, for example, cannot be solved by the market alone. External regulation should be in place, obviously taking into account how the market functions, to act as a catalyst for efficiency in these cases, and public services are not inherently inefficient, provided they are run with a degree of autonomy and transparency, and for example including bidding processes for management.

If you look at the health market in the US, you will note that the private sector dominates, yet figures from the OECD show just how inefficient it is, in that is costs a bundle and the outcomes aren't all that great. Moreover, there have been a series of mergers that have meant less choice and more market power in the hands of hospitals and insurance providers, simply because applying the standard merger tests to the healthcare market is impossible because of the way the deals between hospitals and insurance providers are structured. What's more, the degree of information asymmetry in this case is rather big, given how specialised a body of knowledge medicine is, and people will simply -need- medical attention in some cases, and it is in everyone's interests to have a healthy population (increased productivity, etc.). Those who pose a higher risk, however, will have to pay higher premiums, but it is those people who actually need access to medical attention the most. The whole system leads to problems, such as people going bankrupt. The short summary is: it simply doesn't work. You need external intervention to deal with all these issues.

P.S. In response to a challenge by beyondthepa1e.

P.P.S. You can also look at carbon taxes, that deal with pollution (externality), as a form of Government intervention that promotes efficiency, in that it creates an incentive to stop polluting, which is a cost to society as a whole.

Fuel Cells

Hey, first post in the community. I thought my first post should be about something cool, and I felt fuel cells fit that stringent set of criteria.

EDITED (to take into account helpful comments made below)

Fuel cells - hydrogen-based energy. A holy grail that has been talked about for quite a while now, and apparently with some results, though not yet fit for mass production. The quest to find sustainable and non-pollutant energy sources is, however, an important part of globalisation, because we need energy to fuel all of our technology and, crucially, transport and communications technology.

Fuel cells work by combining oxygen and hydrogen to create water, which is an exothermic reaction - it releases energy. To do this, you use a catalyst, which in the case of cars is platinum. That's where the problems begin - platinum is not easy to produce. (There are other types of fuels cells, but these are the ones I want to talk about.)

Even so, Honda and General Motors are going to release cars running on fuel cells. (The link also gives an overview of the debate on fuel cells). They're a sort of "limited edition", as very few cars will be produced, but at least it's finally happening.

My question is, how optimistic are you that we will someday live in a hydrogen-based economy? Do you think fuel cells should become more of a priority, as opposed to alternatives (nuclear, solar, wind, etc.)?

Personally, I feel that the technology is very much worth investing in. You would probably need international cooperation to accelerate the process, be it by looking for a new catalyst or coming up with a way of having enough platinum available for mass production.