Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Steve Wright tomorrow

I will be on the Steve Wright Radio 2 show tomorrow afternoon (show starts 2pm). Deborah Harry is also on. It's then available for a week on iplayer.

PS Well I was SUPPOSED TO BE ON, but wasn't - odd. Maybe tomorrow.

POST SCRIPT Well I am now down for Friday 27th. Fingers crossed...

27 May 2011 14:00
BBC Radio 2
Steve and Tim chat to Gloria Hunniford and author Stephen Law.

Postscript. Well I was on for about 2 mins. Still, I plugged the book and the college. at 2 hrs 33 mins: here for a week.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Believing Bullshit published today in UK

Believing Bullshit published today in the UK. Amazon.co.uk are alresdy out of stock for couple of weeks but it is widely available elsewhere if you cannot wait, such as at Blackwells online. Here is the link.

PS I heard yesterday that the books are in the country so the delay to delivery will be very short.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Has any one seeen this? I want to see it in 3D but must have missed my chance I think.

Herzog is one of my favourite directors. Always interesting, if not always good. I liked Grizzly Man and Fitzcarraldo is perhaps my favourite film. Along with Toy Story 3.

PS Just found out it is on this week Odeon Covent Garden....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

My Plantinga paper in Analysis

Just heard this afternoon that the paper I mentioned in the previous post will be published in Analysis, January 2012, which is great news. The paper is called "Naturalism, Evolution and True Belief". I will send copies out on request. Email me. It's better than my Religious Studies paper on Plantinga, I think.

Alvin Plantinga talk

This is a very nice talk by Plantinga explaining the latest version of his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. I attack a part of an earlier incarnation of the argument in the latest issue of Religious Studies. I have an attempt at refuting this version currently under review at another journal (Stop press 4.45 pm - just accepted in Analysis)

Here's the key thing re the latter paper - I think I can show that, even if semantic properties of neural structures are epiphenomenal, as Plantinga supposes they very likely are given naturalism, it turns out surprisingly enough that natural selection will still favour some belief contents over and others, and will in fact favour beliefs that are true. That sounds impossible, doesn't it? Surely natural selection can only favour those properties of neural structures that causally effect behaviour, right? And semantic epiphenomenalism entails that such properties as being a true belief cannot causally affect behaviour. But actually, given one very obvious possibility that a naturalist might well sign up to, it's not impossible for natural selection to favour true belief. In fact it's probable.

God & Evolution: Where the Conflict Really Lies from BLPR Philosophy & Religion on Vimeo.

Scroll forward to where Plantinga starts talking.

That said, the EAAN is certainly ingenious. I have a lot of time for Plantinga.

World Ends - Begins Today, May 21st

The Daily Mail Reported:

Calling themselves 'ambassadors', the church members point to baffling biblical codes to demonstrate their reasoning.

Speaking to CNN the group's leader, 89-year-old Harold Camping, is adamant that the date is accurate.

[F]or anyone harbouring doubts over the accuracy of the prediction, the group has a cast iron answer - 'the Bible guarantees it'.

He said: 'I know it's absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true.

'If I were not faithful that would mean that I'm a hypocrite.'

Despite his conviction, Camping has predicted the world would end before - on September 4 1994.

That, he says, was a mistake, a misreading of the biblical codes used to decipher the exact date of the 'rapture'.

In order to get the warning out in time he fudged his calculations, a mistake he maintains he did not make this time.

Read more.

I find these kind of cases fascinating. The really interesting bit, psychologically speaking, will be what they are going to say May 22nd. How will the "cognitive dissonance" be dealt with? After all, they did say, "The Bible guarantees it".

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

"Believing Bullshit" published 23rd May in UK (already out in U.S.)

"Believing bullshit" is published 23rd May, not 15th, as I was previously told, which is why amazon.co.uk currently mentions a delay of "one to three weeks". But it's coming!

I will be interviewed about the book on Steve Wright's Radio 2 programme, and also in New Scientist magazine (early June). Plus maybe some other things....

The book is already published and available on www.amazon.com in the U.S.

"Stephen Law offers us not only a primer on how not to believe but about why so many people do believe-bullshit, despite the lack of evidence for such beliefs, or even in the face of disconfirmatory evidence. It is a roadmap to a promised land free of undue credulity, where the best ideas win and 'intellectual black holes' no longer suck people in. Believing Bullshit should be read by every college freshman and every person seeking public office, and its strategies memorized and put to use by every critical thinker." --D. J. Grothe, President of the James Randi Educational Foundation and host of For Good Reason

There are some interesting bullshit related events around about publication. First, the book won't be published because world ends May 21st.

Second, it's the huge Mind, Body, Spirit Festival in London 25th-30th May. An entire Festival of bullshit (well, mostly). I might go and see Diana Cooper, who is charging punters just £35 to attend this workshop:

Diana Cooper
The Cosmic Golden Keys

Sirius holds the keys to time, speed, dimensions and our connection with the universe. Today we will also open the doors to the nature kingdom, sacred geometry, sonic sounds and the cosmic heart. When you understand one Key to the Universe you expand your consciousness. When you can access them all you become an enlightened ascended master. This session will prepare you for 2012 and beyond.
The Keys to the Universe (Hollow Earth)

This life-changing workshop explores the sacred mystery of Hollow Earth and the Keys held there. Now for the first time can we access this ancient wisdom and knowledge. Sharing specific sounds, exercises and other tools, you will unlock some of the keys to the five golden ages, the wisdom of ancient civilizations and the kingdoms, including the secrets of the angelic, bird and animal kingdoms.

Would be money well spent, I think.
Mind Body Spirit Manchester Festival

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Believing Bullshit published in the US

I had not realized that Believing Bulshit is already out in the US. The amazon.com page is here.

Someone left a flattering review with a "but" which is possibly fair enough.

Here's the blurb:

Wacky belief systems abound. Members of the Heavens Gate suicide cult believed they were taking a ride to heaven on board a UFO. Muslim suicide bombers expect to be greeted after death by 72 virgins. And many fundamentalist Christians insist the entire universe is just 6,000 years old. Of course its not only cults and religions that promote bizarre beliefs significant numbers of people believe that aliens built the pyramids. How do such preposterous views succeed in entrenching themselves in the minds of sane, intelligent, educated people and turn them into the willing slaves of claptrap? Believing Bullshit is a witty and insightful critique that will help immunize readers against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, and various other nutcases by clearly setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and sustained.

Live Plantinga lectures

This will be worth hearing. Live broadcast lectures. Go here.

2011 Lecture Series
May 10th and 12th at 7:00 PM
Western Washington University, Arntzen Hall 100
Bellingham, Washington
Guest Lecturer Alvin Plantinga
Free Admission

Map and Directions

The Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy and Religion (BLPR) are designed to facilitate informed, articulate thinking and civil conversation regarding the Big Questions present in philosophy, religion and science.

Sponsored by Western Washington University and the John Templeton Foundation, the BLPR is bringing together academics, students, religious leaders and community members to create an open and inspiring atmosphere in which to inspiring atmosphere in which to discuss topics such as God, Character and Free Will.
This year, our distinguished guest lecturer is Alvin Plantinga, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

Plantinga has chosen two themes for his lectures:

May 10th: “God and Evolution: Where the Conflict Really Lies”
May 12th: “Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen”

We invite you to join us for these discussions either in person, on the campus of Western Washington University, or by participating in our live lecture stream May 10th and 12th.