“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”

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 I’m about 400 pages deep into a book about rationality and improving your cognitive functionality, so I figured, what the heck, let’s look at what contemporary christians think are their most convincing arguments. Also, I was out of horror movies to watch, and I had a few drinks in me.

So the story is essentially thus: A kid is a freshman in college, and signs up for an introductory undergrad philosophy class. The teacher of said class, as he is passing out his syllabus, says that everyone has to sign a piece of paper saying that “God’s Dead”, or else suffer dire consequences. Everyone signs except for our hero, who is then told he has to convince his class of 40 or so kids that god exists, or else he fails (or, as the movie repeatedly insists upon, “commits academic suicide”). Add in a few insipid side stories, and you can imagine how plot goes from there.

I was extremely disappointed in this movie, I have to say. I mean, it’s just a jumble of weird christian fantasies about what they imagine atheists must be like. The epistemology is not just flawed, it’s more like a melange of lousy justifications for a foregone conclusion — oh, gosh, doesn’t the Big Bang theory sound just like the account of creation in Genesis? No? Well, here’s an appeal to authority. Not buying that? Maybe you’d prefer to believe that atheists are all just secretly angry with God. Etc.  It’s like a 90-minute live-action Chick tract.

Every character a caricature. Every plotline a melodrama. And the whole thing ends with all the newly-saved freshmen attending a christian rock concert en masse, where they all text everyone in their phonebooks with the message “God’s Not Dead”. As the credits roll, the audience of the film is encouraged to do the same. Because, you know, get on the bandwagon.  From beginning to end, it’s a cavalcade of bad logic, fallacious reasoning, wishful thinking and offensive stereotypes of all kinds.

But ultimately, it comes down to this: I’ve been in my fair share of undergrad philosophy courses. I’m fairly confident that nobody involved in the making of this movie can say the same thing. Philosophy professors are really, really lousy villains in real life.

“God’s Not Dead” on IMDB.com

Weighing in at more than 1,800 pages, it is quite possibly the most complete tome available on how to improve your mind, make better decisions, and understand why people, including yourself, do what they do. I cannot recommend it more strongly.

Pay-what-you-want version includes DRM-free epub, mobi, and PDF versions. Also available on Amazon for Kindle, etc.

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Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky Tweet What does it actually mean to be rational? Not Hollywood-style “rational,” where one rejects all human feeling to embrace Cold Hard Logic — real rationality, of the sort studied by psychologists, social scientists, and mathematicians. The ki…

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It's pretty, but is it art? Photo via DNAInfo.com

It’s pretty, but is it art? Photo via DNAInfo.com

My neighborhood is weird.

A partially decomposed, severed deer head with antlers was found stuck on a bamboo stake — resembling a sort of morbid scarecrow — at Loyola Park Beach Monday.

“I was up there on the sand and I thought, ‘What in the heck is that? Is that a real deer head?’ ” said Steve Browne, who had been out on a morning walk Monday when he made the discovery. “I went out to it, and it sure was.”

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“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

Exclusive: Secret interrogation facility reveals creeping aspects of war on terror in US city as accounts describe shackling and brutality without basic rights

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Good stuff.

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On a warm day in April 2013, I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen in Paris, trying to engineer serendipity. I was trying to get my…

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New Cannibal Ox track from their upcoming “Blade of the Ronin” album. Featuring MF DOOM, too. Pretty good, I have to say!

Purchase “Blade of the Ronin” on iTunes Now: http://bit.ly/1Cez3MB As Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, collectively known as Cannibal Ox, prepare for the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore alb

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Faced with injustice, we’ll try to alleviate it – but, if we can’t, we’ll do the next best thing, psychologically speaking: blame the victims of the injustice

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Liquid Slam?! AWESOME!

Liquid Slam’s ad campaign for their “Big Game” line of snacks and sugary beverages was pulled almost immediately. Directed by – Dez Dolly Follow: @dezdolly E…

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