“It’s the principle”: why turkeys do often vote for Christmas

US liberals and leftists who won’t vote for Clinton, even though that decision will help Trump, who is even worse, are an interesting case study. It reveals a deep difference, not between liberals and conservatives, but between “principlists” and “consequentialists”.

Consequentialists do what they have to do to get the best available outcome, even if the means – and the end – fall short of their ideal.

Principlists feel an inherent wrongness in doing anything against principle, even if the result is an outcome even further from their ideal.

They’re two totally opposed mindsets – ways of thinking about how to choose action – with little scope for persuasion between them.

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Response to Creationist 17

17. “What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?”

What’s that, dear? Salvation? No, I’m afraid this is about biology. Maybe you want the soteriology debate next door? No, that’s all right. Easy mistake to make. Run along now.

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Response to Creationist 8

8. “Where do you derive objective meaning in life?”

This is another interesting one because it shows what 8 – and presumably many others like him – is really concerned about. It certainly isn’t “which theory of the origins of life and the universe is best supported by the evidence?” He really doesn’t care at all about that.

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Response to Creationist 1

1. “Bill Nye, Are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?”

And WHAM, straight in with the most instructive message of the lot. This guy isn’t engaging with the facts. He doesn’t even want to engage with the facts. For him, it’s not a factual issue at all, but a moral one.

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In Jodhpur, I didn’t manage to find a couchsurfing host at short notice, so I booked myself into the Govind Hotel. It’s just a couple of hundred metres from the railway station, and the manager offered a walking pick up straight off the train. However, they’ve had problems in the past with the station authorities not believing they’re picking up guests with prior reservations, and threatening to prosecute them for touting for business on the platform. So the manager described the procedure: I tell him my carriage number and he will wait outside it, wearing a blue t-shirt. When I get off, I should look for him but not talk to him. When he sees me, he’ll briefly show me a piece of paper with my name on it. Then he’ll walk out of the station, and I should follow behind him at a distance until we’re clear.

I could have found the hotel myself, but once I’d heard about the John le CarrĂ© style procedure of the walking pick up, I definitely had to go for it. The contact went precisely as planned, and we were undetected by the railway authorities as we exchanged a subtle nod on the platform and escaped through their net to the street outside and the hotel.

I was only in Jodhpur for one day, so I had to make the most of it. I signed up for a tour of the Bishnoi villages, organised by the hotel, to cover the morning, and then planned to walk into the old city and see Meherangarh Fort in the afternoon.

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A modern etiquette dilemma

If someone lets you use their computer, and it needs some updates installing – assuming the owner isn’t there to ask – should you do it?

On the one hand, it’s none of your business. It’s their computer, their responsibility to update it. Just say “no” to the pop-ups and continue checking your email. Maybe they know what they’re doing, and have actively chosen not to run the updates: they prefer the version of the program they’re currently running, for example, and are holding off from upgrading to the latest one.

On the other hand, perhaps like most computer users they’re just hopelessly technologically illiterate and don’t realise they’re supposed to say “OK” to all some of the pop-ups that appear every time they boot up. And what if some of the updates are urgent security patches? Without them, the machine could be hacked, infected, recruited into a botnet and used to attack other systems. Like a child without a measles vaccination, increasing the risk of epidemic in the wider population, every second this computer isn’t updated puts every other computer in the world at greater risk. It’s not just acceptable, it’s your duty to update.

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Beyond Belief on organ donation

I don’t usually listen to BBC Radio 4‘s religious discussion programme, Beyond Belief, but I happened to be driving yesterday while it was on. The programme, broadcast on Monday 12th August 2013, and as of the time of writing, available on iPlayer, dealt with the ethics of organ donation.

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