Recent posts by Syneil on Kongregate

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Topic: Serious Discussion / The paradox of suicide

Survival instinct is just one of many factors competing for influence over our own behaviours. Depression can cause a person’s desire to feel nothing at all rather than feel pain trump the instinct to stay alive.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Is Atheism a belief system?

Originally posted by Khaaan:

Atheism is, by definition, the belief that there is no god.

This is one of the definitions. A more fundamental (etymological) definition would be “without any belief in god(s)” – which includes those without any concept of deity and “fence-sitter” agnostics. In this case, it is more obviously not a belief system.

With the definition you gave, it is still not a “system”, as it is a single thing and a system is, by definition, comprised of multiple parts.

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Topic: Swords & Potions / Justin's Ultimate Guide to Success!

Working link

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Topic: General Gaming / [GemCraft Labyrinth] mana pool auto cast broken?

Yeah, I’ve realised why it “wasn’t working”; I thought it worked differently! Its description makes it sound like it will auto-cast as soon as there is enough mana to do so, but of course it really just auto-casts when your mana pool is maxed.

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Topic: General Gaming / [GemCraft Labyrinth] mana pool auto cast broken?

Yep, it’s never worked for me either.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / WBC: Just a good old fashioned ass kicking

No lawyers. No judges. No counter protests. Just a good old fashioned ass kicking.

This is an example of people “taking the law into their own hands”; or possibly just taking justice into their own hands, which isn’t the same thing.

The questions are, in a moral context:

  1. Is it a good idea in this specific case?
  2. Is it a good idea in general?

If you’d prefer to answer in the context of justice:

  1. Was it just in this specific case?
  2. In general, are individuals or our law-enforcement agencies better suited for dishing out justice?
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Topic: Serious Discussion / When the Fantasy might become Reality -- morality becomes?

What if two girls, beautiful, presented the opportunity for a threesome, neither of whom are your girlfriend? Would you do it?


Is a possibility for a fantasy to become reality worth risking your already existent reality? Would you risk it? Why? Why not?

That’s why: it’s not worth it. With a choice between a woman I connect with and know (more or less) that I have a good chance to spend the rest of my life with happily on one hand, and two beautiful girls I have no knowledge of my long-term compatibility with of who would potentially jeopardise the aforementioned secure relationship… it’s pretty obvious. No matter how beautiful my partner is, or how beautiful the two girls are, none of them are going to be beautiful forever and we spend most of lives old. I certainly prioritise the long-term security over a one-off fantasy realisation.

Now, say you find a girl who is gorgeous and reveals to you she wants to have sexual relations with you. You ask your girlfriend if she would ever have a threesome, and she may think you’re joking but agrees. Would you do it?

Well, first, I’d need to establish if she was actually joking or not. What she says is not important if it doesn’t reflect how she actually feels. It’d be pretty ridiculous to argue that simply saying she would do it means she has to do it.

Do you feel it’d compromise your relationship by relinquishing personal intimacy?

I don’t know… depends very much on the couple. I’m not sure I personally could/would do it. I wouldn’t know what to do with two women! Maybe I should watch more porn.

Addendum: What if both of the girls are virgins? Does this change your choice?

If they were both virgins, I’d definitely refuse.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Conversion:Right or Wrong

Did you specifically mean forced religion, or just apostasy in general?

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Topic: Serious Discussion / America, Adopt the Metric System!

karma was saying that “arrogance” and “confidence” are different ways of saying the same thing.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Bob and the Bomb

More interesting would be if there was someone who would not have been killed, but was the only one who could eat the bomb. Let’s call them George.


1.A\ Do nothing and die along with a million other people.
1.B\ Get George and ram the bomb down their throat, killing George but saving the other million.

Let’s change it again. What about if there’s a single saferoom in which the detonation would be contained. Unfortunately, it’s not empty: George is in there.

2.A\ Do nothing and die along with a million other people (possibly except George).
2.B\ Throw the bomb in the saferoom where George happens to be killing only George and not the other million people.

People around the world, regardless of religion or culture, tend to agree that 1.A and 1.B are dubious; obviously it’s better that only one person dies than a million, but there seems to be something about using another unwitting/unwilling individual to their demise that we morally deplore, even if saves more lives in the long run.

[Edit: in the original study I based that on, it wasn’t a million people, but half a dozen. For me, a million makes it a bit less controversial…]

Whereas for 2.A and 2.B, everybody seems to agree. 2.B in that case is the morally acceptable thing to do; we could have thrown the bomb in the saferoom regardless of whether George was in it or not, it’s merely unfortunate that George was actually there.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Is There An Undeniably Selfless Act?

A selfless act just must not be intended to benefit the act-er in any way. I imagine this happens a fair bit.

Stepping away from pedantry though (it’s hard, I’m trying!) the requirements are surely that the act must:

  1. not be intended to benefit the self,
  2. not benefit the self, and
  3. benefit at least one other.

Anything else?

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Ask Physics Questions Here

Originally posted by DarkBaron:

Care to share some of this ‘evidence’? The only interesting thing I’ve read about light lately is that the only known possible thing to experimentally travel faster than light is… light. c just satisfies Maxwell’s equations, so saying light doesn’t travel at c is a pretty big claim.

I’ll try to find where I got that from.

Not the article I originally read, but this covers it, and the contradictory evidence that has led physicists to reject the notion, which I hadn’t heard of:

The basic idea was that quantum fluctuations would get in the way of light, slowing it down compared with if space was smooth, a la Einstein’s relativity. There was evidence that higher-energy light travelled more slowly than lower-energy light, and the graininess of space would have been an explanation, but other tests have found no such discrepancy.

Oh well! At least I know I wasn’t reciting a dream :)

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Ask Physics Questions Here

Your first paragraph is certainly wrong. Light doesn’t always travel at c and there’s some evidence that actually light never travels at c, even in supposed vacuums. This doesn’t affect the actual constant c though, it just means calling it “the speed of light” is incorrect.

Another way of looking at the problem is that light (if it travels at c) always seems to be moving at c , regardless of how quickly we ourselves move. If we were to accelerate to c/2, light would still appear to be travelling at c because of the time dilation Ximana described. If you accept that, it’s clear that you can never accelerate to c.

There is a point made that the problem is just with accelerating to c and beyond. If, due to some quirk of the expansion of the universe, there are particles already travelling faster than c, this would be fine. These hypothetical particles are called tachyons. I would, perhaps incorrectly, expect that if the universe is open (topologically) we would never encounter these tachyons. But if the universe is closed, and tachyons do exist, they should be whizzing around us all the time (proportional to their number).

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives. New scientific study!

Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

What’s stupid about this theory—and doubly stupid that no one’s pointed this out yet—is that there are more than two sides, liberalism and conservatism, in the political spectrum. If we judge it by the political compass, there ought to be 4 (liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, authoritarianism) and even that’s pretty limited. So for people who only understand politics as varying shades of left and right, I can see how it’s appealing (although it brings up a host of problems once you entertain the notion of physical differences separating ideology), but since the terms are so subjective, and differ so much on context (Democrats are not liberals), I can’t see how anyone could buy into this argument.

The political compass isn’t a scientifically acknowledged framework for gauging political orientation. Most of the papers I’ve cited on page 1 used self-identification as the metric. A “liberal” is someone who, given the choice between identifying as liberal or conservative, picks liberal, and vice versa. If you want to be pointlessly picky, think of the studies as showing a correlation between political self-identification and brain structure.

Also, just to emphasise that it’s just a correlation, the strength of the correlation wasn’t exactly great – noteworthy at about 0.2 – 0.3; clearly positive correlations, but plenty of variability.

Originally posted by thegarbear:

well really my opinoin on this and im not saying what i think is true. that you believe what you do from experiences and that all this stuff is just bs. it’s really quite mean to say I’m liberal so… and you are conservative so…. especially this forum. i doubt that liberals have better understanding of things and conservatives are more afraid. really sounds kind of immature even if you say liberals tend to have a larger brain structure causing something about them to be better. it just sounds like a way to insult people….it’s like hitler’s idea of if you are german you are the master race. IT’S NOT IDENTICAL I AM NOT CALLING PEOPLE NAZI’S i’m saying it’s a generalization saying you and your group are better.

It doesn’t really matter if it seems mean if it’s what is true. And that isn’t what the papers say; we’ve merely found a correlation.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Ask Physics Questions Here

Originally posted by Stiltonchees:

What’s new in physics? Who are the new people that are pushing it forward now? That is one thing I am interested in.
Also I am not particularly good with physics right now, I have knowledge of Newtonian physics, I want to know more but sadly my school doesn’t offer anything on the subject, I have plans to study it this summer a bit, where should I start?

Selecting a certain time frame as an initial condition arbitrarily, and the event arbitrarily is basically just jerking yourself off.

Well the way I look at it both are enjoyable from time to time. amirite?

I don’t know a lot of physics either, but seemed to have managed to hold my own in SD from having read popular science books by the likes of Michio Kaku. Head over to a book shop and browse the Science section.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives. New scientific study!

Originally posted by koretexkommand:

I am glad this study shows that liberals brains are more evolved than conservatives.

Evolution has nothing to do with it.

Originally posted by karmakoolkid:

Shit on a biscuit. WHATEVER differences the collective minds of “liberal” & “conservative” camps are…they are so infinitesimally small—when held up to the much larger picture of ALL HUMAN MINDS—that this thread has an ugly stench of TROLL about it. An asinine attempt (evil?) to further divide (and conquer) the ppl of this planet.

Probably DesiredUsernameM (vannie) posted it to troll, but the fact is that there have been several scientific studies finding that people who self-report as liberal and those who self-report as conservative tend to have very physical differences in the structure of their brains. There’s no implication that one is better than the other in the studies. The anterior cingulate cortex is involved in handling complexity, but lots of other stuff too. Similarly for the right amygdala.

It’s been a long held theory that the human brain “uses” a very, VERY small amount of it.

It’s also an untrue theory.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Christianity FAQ. (Ask any questions you have here!)

Originally posted by okimaedaIzinki:

If it is a sin to take your own life, would it still be a sin to take your own life to save others? (I asked my RE teacher this and she didn’t know herself).

According to Constantine (2005) that counts as self-sacrifice and guarantees you a spot in heaven. Hollywood wouldn’t lie!

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Religion

In 2000, 2.5% of the world population were atheists, and 3.8% ethno-religionist. That leaves 93.7% with some (claimed) religious belief. 93.7% in the year 2000 was 5.7 billion people.

So with around, and most likely more, than 5.7 billion people today claiming some religious affiliation, I’d say it’s a topic worth discussing.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Ask Physics Questions Here

Re: hidden variables. Non-falsifiability ftw.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives. New scientific study!

Originally posted by thegarbear:

so what does it mean if somebody changes their views…. their brain structure changes entirely. and yeah i haven’t been on in a month or so but w/e…

If any conclusion of that kind could be drawn, and really we can’t at least yet, then I would speculate it would be that certain brain-structures lead to certain political ideologies. People who are raised and stimulated in such a way that their anterior cingulate cortex is developed a lot will more likely be liberal than conservative. People who are raised and stimulated in such a way that their right amygdala is developed a lot will more likely be conservative than liberal. People who are raised and stimulated in such a way that their anterior cingulate cortex and right amygdala develop to proportional degrees could swing either way and might have a mix of the two ideologies.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / France's ban on the Muslim Islamic 'burka' goes into effect today.

Thanks! A good read.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Drug laws

I disagree with your disagreement. I’m certainly more responsible than people who do those things. Though, of course, those aren’t the only things that indicate responsibility. A lot of factors would have to be taken into account.

Whether you are or are not, your final point there is the relevant one. Even if these social behaviours are relevant (and they may well be, but we’ve only had hearsay on it so far) there’s so much more that would matter to a far greater degree.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives. New scientific study!

Originally posted by LukeMann:

Liberal and Conservative what? The words “liberal” and “conservative” have absolutely no meaning as to beliefs. Liberal simply means you oppose a belief and conservative means you support it. So what liberal and conservative are we talking about?

That is not what liberal and conservative mean. Political liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Political conservatism is the belief in the maintenance of traditional institutions and minimal societal changes. Obviously definitions get much more detailed than that, but it’s enough to demonstrate the point.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / France's ban on the Muslim Islamic 'burka' goes into effect today.

I hoped it was banning all face-coverings, and searched for something saying that was the case, but didn’t find anything. Where did you find that out?

Edit: not that I think banning all face-coverings is sensible, just better than it only being the Islamic clothing.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives. New scientific study!

Related papers:

Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted? (pdf)

… The results indicate that genetics plays an important role in shaping political attitudes and ideologies but a more modest role in forming party identification; …

Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology (pdf)

… we hypothesize that individuals with a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences will tend to be more liberal, but only if they are embedded in a social context that provides them with multiple points of view. … we test this hypothesis by investigating an association between self-reported political ideology and [a] gene (DRD4). … This is the first study to elaborate a specific gene-environment interaction that contributes to ideological self-identification, and it highlights the importance of incorporating both nature and nurture into the study of political preferences.

Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism (pdf)

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.