Dog Training

The woo. It hurts sometimes.

On the one end of the spectrum you have people who try to accept that the animal in question knows what it is doing and is buying cookies with a leaf. On the other end of the spectrum you have people who reject that the dog is buying cookies with a leaf and how can this be real.

Language . . . plays an enormous role in the structuring of a human mind, and the mind of a creature lacking language — and having really no need for language — should not be supposed to be structured in these ways. Does this mean that languageless animals “are not conscious at all” (as Descartes insisted)? This question always arises at this moment as a sort of incredulous challenge, but we shouldn’t feel obliged to answer it as it stands. Notice that it presupposes something we have worked hard to escape: the assumption that consciousness is a special all-or-nothing property that sunders the universe into two vastly different categories: the things that have it . . . and the things that lack it. . . . While the presence of language marks a particularly dramatic increase in imaginative range, versatility, and self-control . . . these powers do not have the further power of turning on some special inner light that would otherwise be off.

Daniel Dennett

This kind of behavior is easy to train, even by accident. Like the football dog in a previous story, the dog in the image above was given a treat for a leaf at some point. The connection was made and the dog thinks it can get food for leaves, reinforced every time someone gives him food in exchange for leaves. He doesn’t just go to this one place. I’m sure of this. And not to everyone, either. He’s going to favor people and places where reciprocation has occurred before. It’s not even a stretch of a dog’s mental ability, depending on the dog.

ABC NewsThe Dog Who Knows 1,000 Words | CUTE ANIMALS (Episode 5) – Feb 9, 2011

To summarize. The dog doesn’t know he’s paying for anything. He trades leaves he can’t eat for food that he can eat. Leaves that are available all over the place. He does this with people in places he knows will give him food for leaves. It is truly amazing what dogs can do, but we need to be careful not to anthropomorphize their behavior. Because they aren’t people, they are dogs.


Daniel Dennett on Consciousness

One of my favorite philosophers was on The Economist Asks,

The Economist asks: What is consciousness?

Every word is a little software agent that replicates and competes for space in people’s minds and on the page and everywhere else. It’s the differential reproduction of things like words, and other memes that can’t be pronounced, that’s what creates human culture. – Daniel Dennett

His new book is From Bacteria to Bach and Back.  I love Daniel Dennett. The human groups that could communicate essential information; danger/safe attack/hide food/poison. Those groups would have a higher probability of survival than the ones who could not. What an insightful application of knowledge at work in that observation. All of it because of him and his work. I (and science) will be forever in his debt.

Facebook status update backdated to the blog. 

The Effects of Postmodernism

It would be silly, of course, to be either ‘for’ or ‘against’ modernity tout court, not only because it is pointless to try to stop the development of technology, science, and economic rationality, but because both modernity and antimodernity may be expressed in barbarous and antihuman terms.

I do not know what postmodern is and how it differs from the premodern, nor do I feel that I ought to know.

Leszek Kołakowski

Typical of my attempts to title things, this brief blurb’s title largely misses the mark. Another one of the things I wrote on those dead boards, perhaps even one of the last things I wrote. I’m sure I had some deeper point I was planning on making, but like most of my plans this one also went nowhere. How to distinguish what I wrote then from what I’m writing now? Hmm, that is a puzzler. How about the quote I selected from The Federalist article that thrashes Star Trek and liberalism? Yes, that shall be the demarcation point. What juicey bit of bullshit should I select from that piece, though? That is the next question.

This was a critique of a critique that attempts to show the correlation between the decline of liberalism and the decline of Star Trek as a franchise. The postmodernism allusion was probably in reference to the now well-known belief that we live in a post-truth world. As if truth, reality, causality, really cares about human problems, a hallmark of my issue with everything postmodern. Reality continues being exactly what it was before, while the people living in it tell themselves different lies that explain it and believe that their lies change the existence of reality. but I digress.

Over nearly 50 years, “Star Trek” tracked the devolution of liberalism from the philosophy of the New Frontier into a preference for non-judgmental diversity and reactionary hostility to innovation, and finally into an almost nihilistic collection of divergent urges. At its best, “Star Trek” talked about big ideas, in a big way. Its decline reflects a culture-wide change in how Americans have thought about the biggest idea of all: mankind’s place in the universe.

The Federalist

In the author of the above quotes defense, he actually understands the degradation of Star Trek as a philosophical looking glass into mindless action-entertainment. This is why I haven’t considered myself a Trek fan since the Abramanation aired. I deemed Trek dead on the day that film released.  However, like nearly all things conservative, the author oversimplifies to prove his point. As an example, Star Trek 6 aired after Roddenberry died (and is one of the worst Trek films ever made. Weirdly Star Trek 2 by the same director is one of the best) but the multi-year rehabilitation of the Klingons that preceded his denouncement of their portrayal in Star Trek 6, starting with Worf on The Next Generation Enterprise is completely left out, because it complicates the point he’s trying to make.

As usual, the intent to decry the ideology of another while uplifting one’s own leads to hypocrisy on the part of the writer. This is a serious problem with most conservatives these days. The real culprit here is not liberalism, but postmodernism. This is an illness that afflicts all modern ideology, philosophy and politics alike. Not just Star Trek and not just liberalism.

…and that is where I left it. For two and a half years. Why? Because I always aspire to knowing more than I know, and then the realization that I don’t know that much brings the entire edifice crashing down and then I abandon the work entirely. Postmodernism is an active ill in society, of that much I am certain. We can know things about the world around us, and not everything in existence is dismissible as the delusions of a weak mind. How we can know these things is a task for epistemology to figure out. That we do know them (existence exists) is not really in question here.

Postmodernism, the school of thought that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.

Daniel Dennett

FFrF Radio: Breaking the Spell

Podcast Link.
May 31, 2008Guests: Bestselling author Prof. Daniel C. Dennett and Prof. Eric Barnes

eric barnes holman wisconsin cross the village accptd lowest bid for prop lyonsclub

theo alrt mccains pastor problems continue (parsley & hitler) leibermann & hagee now.

daniel c. Dennetts second appearance. (previous) adolescent questioning is good. Debate “is religion the greatist threat to rationality & science” (quote what follows 25:00) how far can we take religious freedom (flds) the spell that must be broekn is the spell gainst the study of religion.

I sense an undercurrent of disagreement between dennett & gaylor. Makes for interesting listening.

2007 Archive episode.
June 2, 2007Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence

kevorkian released from prison after 8 years. A prison term for helping the suffering end their suffering.

bill maher does the 700 club weather.

hector avila fighting words. Fascin disc of creatinsm teaching bible as arheist & the impact of violence in the bible.

Michelle goldburg on the rise of christian nationism.

in a dark time philip appleman by db

2006 Archive episode.
June 3, 2006Days of the Theocracy

pious ken lay qnd his belief in his innocence

laurie lipman brown is director of secular coalition of america. A secular lobby now exists. It’s sad that it’s come to this. for e-alerts

christine lems performs “days of the theocracy”

Twain’s The War Prayer set to music by db. god-less america follows.

Gideon society ann. And bible warning labels.

freethinkers almanac. Anne royale, the first secular lobbyist

calls. Pro & con.

FFrF Radio: Breaking the Spell of Religion

Podcast link.
December 1, 2007Guests: Michael Newdow & Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers

It’s funny. I recently read an article from some humanist group or other asserting that there weren’t any Atheist groups supporting the lawsuit that wanted to remove under god from the pledge of allegiance. Remove the pledge?

I found the interview with Ernie Chambers far more interesting. Anyone who is so unpopular with the powers that be that they pass a law targeting him specifically…

…I just want to shake that guys hand. Good luck to you, Mr. Chambers.

2006 Archive episode.
December 2, 2006Breaking the Spell of Religion

Introduction of the concept of ‘bright‘ by the guest Prof. Daniel C. Dennett (author of the book by the same title) His approach to religion as a societally important issue is quite thought provoking. Comparing sugar, music, alcohol and religion. There are natural reasons why all of these things are a part of human history. Religion exists because medicine and ritual were originally combined, and those who responded positively to ritual responded better to primitive medicine, which lead to a better survival rate. We are genetically programmed to respond to ritual through selection pressure.

Stephen Weinberg excerpt, from a speech at the Salk institute.

Freethinkers Almanac features Samuel Clements.