You (yes, YOU) can be a genius!

What I’m going to do now is I’m going to take some legitimate science, I’m going to draw a trivial truth from this, and I’m going to word it in such a way as to mislead you into thinking that you can be a genius.  I am going to finish by justifying what I’m doing by using the same defence as I would give a placebo.  Got it?

Legitimate science: “A trait [such as being a genius] emerges only from the interaction of gene and environment.”

Misleading triviality: “Everything about us is determined by the lives we lead.”

So perhaps: You could be a genius*.

What’s more: People who believe this seem to benefit.

Continue reading “You (yes, YOU) can be a genius!”

Religious belief as an infection

Recently I have noticed a stance taken by some members of the new wave of atheists and scientifically-informed ‘sceptics’, who define themselves largely by that which they oppose.  This is the stance that someone’s belief in a god is akin to an infection, from which the rest of their beliefs has no immunity.  To some, a question like this:

Can you be a creationist and be a good scientist?

has to be answered in the negative, since creationism lacks strong evidence and, therefore, a belief in it is incompatible with a rigorous following (I won’t say ‘worship’) of the scientific method.  Now, I think that this is a pretty bold position to take.  It goes much further than saying either of these things: Continue reading “Religious belief as an infection”

20 Questions: A Strategy Guide

The internet is an abundant resource, but it has its shortcomings. After an exhaustive examination I can declare that, astonishingly, it has no adequate strategy guide for the retro lo-tech classic ’20 Questions’ (or “20Q” if you unfortunate enough to have allowed the intangible wonders of your childhood to have been bought and rebadged by Mattel).

This is a guide for The Questioners; a guide for The Answerer is a work in progress.  We’re going to learn together by running through a blow-by-blow account of one game. Please try to throw yourself into this pedagogical relationship by trying to become one of The Questioners.

1. Is it on the planet earth? [Yes] Continue reading “20 Questions: A Strategy Guide”

The Poetry of Soup Blenders

This is a transcript of the latest Kenwood blender advert:

Discover the power of 3,
With the Kenwood triblade,
Kitchen technology to the power of 3,
3 blades faster,
3 blades easier,
3 blades cleaner,
The Kenwood triblade.

Those who think that adverts make ‘claims’ which can be tested and challenged, think again! What evidence, after all, would convince you that the triblade™ is not ‘technology to the power of 3’?

But seriously, I need to try out one of these triblades, because I hate washing up fiddly components, and I’m glad that this is going to make things 3 blades easier and 3 blades cleaner. Granted, ‘blades’ are not a standard unit of comparison, but, well, there are now 3 of them!

The first rule of advertising: give them poetry, not propositions.

Life as a Set of Games

Here I’m going to defend this view: Life is best seen as a set of interconnected games.  I will probably provide little novel content, as I will draw vaguely on ideas from Kant, Quine and – significantly – Wittgenstein.  Since most people know of Game Theory, most people will know where I’m coming from.  These are ‘thoughts in progress’, not a final statement of my views – but this is the manner in which, I believe, most philosophy (if you can call it that) should take place. If people provide comments on this article, I hope they’re of the form “I think you’d find X interesting to read” or “I think Y is a good reason why you’re wrong to see it like this on that point”. If you don’t want to read vague, speculative philosophy, stop reading… now! Continue reading “Life as a Set of Games”

Challenge for PHILOSOPHERS who WRITE

I have noticed that the ‘audience’ of Wittgenstein Tweets comprises a fair number of philosophers and writers.  I employ these terms ‘philosophers’ and ‘writers’ as loosely as they do.  I personally believe that a great deal of good can be created in the realm where philosophical thinking meets creative writing. If you don’t agree with me, stop reading.  Have a biscuit.  Whatever.  Continue reading “Challenge for PHILOSOPHERS who WRITE”

‘Wittgenstein Tweets’ Begins!

So, what would the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein have done with a Twitter account? Over the next 6-months I am going to be updating @WittTweets in an attempt to answer this question.  Here you’ll get a drip-feed of updates from a mocked-up Wittgenstein, right from his boyhood to his eventual death (which I imagine will be quite a sad event for me to tweet). This may be the only chance you get to live side-by-side with an accelerated form of Wittgenstein for a long time, so please take advantage. No love for or knowledge of Wittgenstein is necessary!

> > More details on Wittgenstein Tweets

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