So Spacebunny is out and about and I find myself contemplating treachery. I’ve been most faithful to my Treo for some time now, but that sexy new iPhone has me thinking some iPhilthy thoughts.

I’m not a member of the Apple cult, but as an Apple II and original Macintosh owner, I’m not anti-Apple either. All the slick stuff is nice, of course, but what will cause me to leave the old device is the inclusion of Wi-fi. When Treo didn’t put that into the 680, I knew it was all but over.

And perhaps only Apple could make this move, as all the other smartphone manufacturers are too dependent on bulk sales to carriers to risk angering their largest potential customers, who really, really don’t want you Skyping for free on your cell at the local hotspot.

As for the other application that’s important to me, let’s face it, eight gigs will hold a lot of ebooks….

Falsifiability: a question for the critics

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about which is probably better suited to some of my critics like Pharyngula and Orac. And I’m not attempting to lay some sort of ambush or anything, I’m merely considering a question that revolves around something that is generally of far more interest to them than to me.

The first question is: What is the best definition of science? To me, the OED definition is: “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. — ORIGIN Latin scientia, from scire ‘know’.”

This seems perfectly workable to me, but I’ve noticed that people often bring up a second definition revolving around the concept of falsifiability. But can Popper’s concept of falsifiability really be taken very seriously as a dividing point between science and not-science? It seems somewhat flawed to me. Let me begin with postulating that while the language of the gods is not proper science, whereas the color of swans is.

The classic example of a falsifiable proposition is “all swans are white”. The fact that one could prove this proposition to be wrong by observing a black swan therefore makes it falsifiable and therefore a matter of science.

However, is not the proposition “all gods speak Aramaic” equally falsifiable, given that the theoretical observation of a Greek-speaking god would falsify the proposition and therefore make divine linguistics a legitimate matter of science?

The obvious response is to say, “well, we can’t observe gods”, but the same inability to observe was also true of any number of things for which we today have instruments capable of performing observations. For example, stating “all light from 7.5 x 1014 – 3 x 1017 Hz is purple” would have been an equally non-falsifiable proposition and therefore not science prior to Man’s ability to detect and measure ultraviolet.

So, it would seem to me that either one would have to admit that such things were not properly considered to be scientific matters until the point at which observation became possible, or that divine linguistics actually is a legitimate field of science.

Now, Popper presumably would describe this as “naive falsification” and put swans in the category approved by sophisticated methodological falsification and divine linguistics in the one not approved by it. But by this point, falsifiability has become a fairly haphazard definition which verges on tautology, defining science as whatever scientists believe science to be at the moment.

Anyhow, I have to assume I’m missing something here in this particular contemplation of the wheel, so I’d welcome any comments correcting my thinking here or, better yet, a more precise and universally acceptable definition of science.

It is good to hate the French

Yet another reason:

My latest book, American Vertigo, is an account of a journey I took through the US. I wrote it because I thought that for a European intellectual there was nothing more important than to understand what was happening in America, to go and tell the Americans what was wrong with their society.

This is the sort of “intellectual” whose ass I’d like to kick, then explain to him that the ass-kicking was actually a metaphorical piece of performance art intended to raise consciousness about the suppression of the French language by the global English hegemony and that anyone who is not honored to have played a vital role in such an important, revolutionary speaking of truth to power must be a complete Philistine.

Of course, he isn’t actually wrong. There is nothing more important than for a French intellectual than to take a vacation in America, albeit because there isn’t anything of any significance whatsoever that actually requires the participation of French intellectuals. Regardless, few things give me more pleasure than being handed the opportunity to go through the following exchange:

French guy pontificating: “Americans, of course, only speak English. Did you know that only one in ten billion Americans even have a passport?”

VD: “Actually I speak Italian. And German.”

French guy: “Really? But you don’t speak French?”

VD: “Why on Earth would I want to do that? Hey look! A snail!”

The Purpose-Driven Liar

The evidence very strongly suggests that Rick Warren, like Ted Haggard, is a model example of the wolf in sheep’s clothing that the Apostle Paul warned against. If you have any ties to Saddleback or a church that follows a Purpose-Driven program, I’d recommend severing them.

From Joseph Farah’s column today:

It was in the context of our debate over Warren’s characterization of Syria as a “moderate” country that provides religious freedom to Christians that I suggested the media’s favorite mega-pastor should have sought counsel from someone like me – a Christian journalist of Syrian and Lebanese heritage who has covered and analyzed the Middle East for the last 25 years.

Warren explained, somewhat condescendingly, that he had counseled with the National Security Council and the White House, as well as the State Department, before his little pilgrimage to Damascus.

”In fact,” Warren added, ”as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Oxford Analytica, I might know as much about the Middle East as you.”

I hadn’t asked about the CFR. I didn’t use thumbscrews to pry this information out of him. He volunteered this bombshell in a written communication.

But there’s something deeply disturbing I have learned about Warren: He generally tells people what they want to hear. And evidently he didn’t realize how alienating news of his membership in the CFR would be to many in his own flock.

So what did he do?

He and his staff have revised history – or their story, anyway.

Now, according to an e-mail from John Mogush, his assistant at Saddleback, his boss was just confused.

“Pastor Rick is not a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,” he wrote one concerned constituent. “He was asked to become a member, but declined. If you can tell me where it was written, we will respond to them.”

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the organized Evangelical Church is almost as bad, in it’s own way, as the Episcopalian Church.

For some, it is time to decide to where your loyalties lie, with a particular organization or Jesus Christ.