Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Some curious news

Here's something new: a Friendly Humanist news roundup. There are just so many interesting things happening this week. Particularly today.

First, Skepchick mentions a study showing that reading science blogs makes you smarter. I wonder if Humanist blogs also give this effect?

Second, linguist and long-time critic of the traditional media's portrayal of language issues, Mark Liberman, is crossing to the other side, leaving his long-time position as a contributor to indy-media outlet Language Log for a more lucrative position at the BBC.

Third, Al Qaeda has responded to the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, firmly denying that the US government had anything to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Here is an exchange on television:

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

Finally, and on a more personal note, I would like to say that I am increasingly persuaded, as a linguist and as a sceptic, that the Ontological Argument (for the existence of God) is much more sound than I had thought. As Bertrand Russell, famous 20th-century philosopher, said, "it is easier to feel convinced that it must be fallacious than to find out precisely where the fallacy lies". Quite so. Why he let this "conviction" outweigh his earlier realization ("Great God in boots! -- the ontological argument is sound!") I don't know, but I must follow my own reason.

I will keep you posted on this important intellectual development. In the meantime, let me know if news roundups of this sort appeal to either of you.

[Update: I couldn't resist adding this exciting news (thanks to Phil at Bad Astronomy for the heads-up): Virgin and Google are joining forces for project Virgle - a concrete plan for the colonization of Mars! Sign me up.]

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