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Thjatsi

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  1. I can understand your frustration with high school science. I'm currently in graduate school for Molecular Biology, but I didn't want to have anything to do with science until college. My memories of high school science are foggy, but I remember a lot of memorizing random facts, and being assigned mindless tasks and calculations. I didn't even take a science class during my last year of high school, which in retrospect was an excellent decision. Regarding your question, I think it depends on the specific discipline. For computer science, you can go to the CS section of any bookstore, and find endless tutorial-type books that will give you a basic introduction to any given programing language. After one or two of those, I think that most of computer science is best learned in a project-oriented manner. That is, you find a project that interests you on the internet, and you try to make a contribution to it. You'll probably screw up the first few times, but during that process you're going to learn a lot of new skills. Biology consists of lots of terms, facts, and concepts. Outside of population genetics, there are almost no equations to apply. This means that you can actually develop a knowledge of even specialized fields in Biology rather quickly. Or, to put it differently, the amount of core knowledge required to get a basic understanding of Biology is actually less than any other science. My recommendation would be to try to avoid textbooks and books that are a collection of reviews by different authors. Instead, begin by finding some books for the layman that focus on a subject that's interesting to you. Most general chemistry seems to consist of applying equations and understanding concepts, so there's less memorization required than in Biology. In this case, you'd probably learn it best by running through exercises in a textbook. I've never done physical chemistry, but I hear there's a lot of math involved. Organic chemistry involves a lot of mental spacial manipulation, and it's completely different from what most people think of as chemistry. It's also really hard (it's commonly used to weed out premeds), and a lot of fun if you can find a good teacher. I can't help much on this, since I was one of the lucky people who had an excellent teacher. I can't give any advice for math or physics. I constantly struggled with math, and physics is still very confusing for me. Since you requested specific resources, the best learning resource I've found in general are the lectures from the teaching company: http://www.teach12.com/ However, the pricing on these lectures is basically insane. They'll charge hundred of dollars for a course, but all of their products go on sale at least once a year, at which point the price goes from insane to really expensive. The science and mathematics courses also generally require visual aids to completely understand what's going on, which means you're stuck with buying the dvds. I really shouldn't say this, but you can also find several of these lecture series on illegal downloading sites, if you want to get an understanding of how good they are before getting the money together to buy one of the ones on sale.
  2. For fantasy, I would recommend Master of the Five Magics by Lyndon Hardy.
  3. Thjatsi

    What Is Evil?

    Something has been bothering me lately. I am unable to define evil, accept as 'harmful to others.' Would someone with a better understanding of objectivism please define evil for me?
  4. I'm finding it difficult to address your concerns, due to the brevity of your response. In the past, my solution to this problem has been to answer the questions I think are being raised. After I do this, the person I'm conversing with generally states that I misunderstood their position, and throws out a few new offhand remarks. This process repeats itself until I get sick of the dialog and discontinue it. I don't know if you're trying to play this game, or if I'm just jaded from attempting to communicate with postmodernists. In any event, I think we need to be more clear about the concepts we're using. Therefore, I would like you to define philosophy, and the criteria that give a series of linked concepts philosophy status. Given our setting, I'm assuming that we're definining 'unjustified belief' as 'logically invalid' or 'not arrived at through the use of reason'. In this case, I would like you to explain which specific concepts makes this error, and at what steps. If this is not the case, I would like you to define this phrase. After all, if we can't be clear about what we're saying here, then where can we be?
  5. Its there version of an armegeddon story; totally riddled w/ the malevolent universe premise. I am a transhumanist, one of the people you're referring to, and you've completely misunderstood our position. It looks like I have a few things to explain. Transhumanism Transhumanists tend to be a rather diverse group, but I'll do my best to state the philosophy in my own words. Basically, transhumanists think that science can be used to improve the nature of the human condition, and that this prospect is desirable. The means of improvement has been proposed to consist of some combination of germline engineering, human machine interfaces, pharmacology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, or other methods. Individual transhumanists have their personal favorites among these methods. For example, since I'm a Biologist, I tend to be more interested in genetics. The Singularity Let's move on to the singularity. If you look at the progress of science and technology throughout history it has been rather slow until the last few generations, where it has increased dramatically. A few people even characterize this growth as exponential. Now, if it is true that the growth of technology is exponential, we may be about to experience the part of the curve where it becomes almost vertical. This is the singularity. What happens after this point is anyone's guess, but the vast majority of transhumanists think the results will be beneficial, because we do not subscribe to the malovolent universe premise. Personally, I'm a little skeptical about the singularity. Most of the people interested in this idea work on the computing side of technology, and have personally experienced Moore's Law while the rest of us have only noticed it peripherally. I don't believe that extrapolating the progress of computer science to all science is particularly valid, though I do acknowlege the possibility of specific scenarios where this could be the case. So, even though I think the singularity is worth working towards, I'm not sitting around on my couch waiting for the techno-rapture. Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence is generally proposed as the catalyst for the singularity, though this doesn't neccessarily have to be the case. Like the singularity, AI is contingent upon many conditions, and may not be possible. However, if a reasoning machine arises it doesn't necessarily have to be hostile. In fact, since it would be capable of reason, it could understand concepts like rights and ethics, and may even be able to implement them more effectively than you or me. In addition, since I define a human as a creature capable of using reason, I would also consider an AI to be human. As a result, it would possess the same rights as you or me, and I would be prepared to fight in their defense. The hostile incarnation of AI is the one most seen in the movies, since it makes for dramatic plots. However, I think this outcome is unlikely to occur in the real world. Transhumanism and Objectivism Transhumanism is a rather broad philosophy, but most transhumanists share a lot in common with the average objectivist. For example, while I don't currently consider myself to be an Objectivist, I admire a lot of Ayn Rand's work, and find that it frequently intersects with my own personal philosophy. However, there are quite a few people who do consider themselves to be both objectivists and transhumanists.
  6. Thjatsi

    Mortality

    I work in a lab where we do research on the aging process, since that's the thing most likely to kill all of us.
  7. Gray, the perfect mixture of black and white.
  8. I do not have a scientific proof that . . . individual rights exist and that they are not to be violated. I have plenty of evidence that it works better this way, that people flourish when they have rights, but I don't have a proof that they exist, only that a government should want to grant them Three different concepts can give rise to rights: 1) Divine Law 2) Tradition 3) Human Nature I've choosen to discard the first two. Tradition and divine law vary based on culture and religion, and I think they make for a shaky foundation when building a system of ethics. If you're arguing for rights based on human nature, the obvious question is, "What is a human?" My answer is that a human is any creature that uses reason. I'm currently in the process of checking my definition for errors, and trying to determine what particular rights are granted given my current answer. If your case for rights is based on the consequences of implementing them, you're arguing for rule-utilitarianism, and not a system of rights-based ethics. I suppose that consequentialism could be a fourth way to argue for rights. However, I'm not in favor of this method, since any right can be suspended or granted depending on the situation at hand.
  9. I'd like to know your thoughts on what type of person snaps into this type of being. The LaRouche group fills basic needs that most humans share in common. It gives its followers a sense of community, purpose, and identity. The type of person who chooses to join these groups is normal, but hasn't found another way of getting these needs fulfilled. ...this 'youth movement' seems to be picking up power exponentially. There's no reason to worry. Lyndon LaRouche has been running for president for decades now without success. He's currently in his eighties, and I doubt that LaRouche's organization will survive any longer than he does. At first the guy was saying some things that were really good (about art and things like that). This isn't surprising. LaRouche is more or less in agreement with the asethetics branch of objectivist philosophy. However, he arrives at it through a completely different set of philosophical roads. The end result is that you can probably have an interesting discussion with a LaRouchian, as long as you keep the subject on art.
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