Archive for ‘Philosophy’

May 12, 2021

Omphalos Hypothesis

Dark City

The Omphalos [om-fuh-luhs] hypothesis is one attempt to reconcile the scientific evidence that the universe is billions of years old with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative, which implies that the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

It is based on the religious belief that the universe was created by a divine being, within the past six to ten thousand years (in keeping with flood geology), and that the presence of objective, verifiable evidence that the universe is older than approximately ten millennia is due to the creator introducing false evidence that makes the universe appear significantly older.

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March 4, 2021

Salamander Letter

Mark Hofmann

The salamander letter was a controversial document about the history of the Latter-day Saint (LDS) movement that presented a view of LDS founder Joseph Smith’s life that stood sharply at odds with the commonly accepted version of the early progression of the church Smith established.

The letter was one of hundreds of documents concerning the history of the LDS movement that surfaced in the early 1980s. Initially accepted by some document experts and collectors, the document was later demonstrated to be a forgery created by Mark Hofmann, who had been responsible for the ‘discovery’ of many other notable documents.

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February 10, 2021

Jack Mormon

Jack Dempsey

Jack Mormon is a slang term originating in nineteenth-century America originally used to describe a person who was not a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but who was friendly to church members and Mormonism, sympathized with them, and/or took an active interest in their belief system.

Sometime in the early- to mid-twentieth century, however, the term began to refer to an individual deemed by adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to be an inactive or lapsed member of the LDS Church who, despite his personal religious viewpoint, maintained good relations with and positive feelings toward the church.

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January 29, 2021

Wassily Kandinsky

Russian avant-garde

Wassily Kandinsky [kan-din-skee] (1866 – 1944) was a Russian painter, printmaker and art theorist. He was a major figure in modern art and painted some of the first modern abstract works. His art changed several times during his life. It was fauvist, abstract, expressionist and constructivist in turn.

He was interested in geometry in art and philosophy. The creative aspect of the form is expressed by a descending series of circles, triangles and squares. Kandinsky’s creation of abstract work followed a long period of development and maturation of intense thought based on his artistic experiences. He called this devotion to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire inner necessity.

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January 18, 2021

Joan Quigley

Nancy Reagan

Joan Quigley (1927 – 2014), of San Francisco, was an astrologer best known for her astrological advice to the Reagan White House in the 1980s. Quigley was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

She was called on by First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1981 after John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of the president, and stayed on as the White House astrologer in secret until being outed in 1988 by ousted former chief of staff Donald Regan.

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January 13, 2021

Irresistible Force Paradox


The irresistible force paradox is a classic paradox formulated as ‘What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?’ The immovable object and the unstoppable force are both implicitly assumed to be indestructible, or else the question would have a trivial resolution. Furthermore, it is assumed that they are two entities.

The paradox arises because it rests on two incompatible premises—that there can exist simultaneously such things as unstoppable forces and immovable objects. The ‘paradox’ is flawed because if there exists an unstoppable force, it follows logically that there cannot be any such thing as an immovable object and vice versa.

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December 28, 2020

Squaring the Circle

Straightedge and compass construction

Squaring the circle is a problem proposed by ancient geometers. It is the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge. The difficulty of the problem raised the question of whether specified axioms of Euclidean geometry concerning the existence of lines and circles implied the existence of such a square.

It had been known for decades that the construction would be impossible if π were transcendental (not an algebraic irrational number or the root of any polynomial with rational coefficients), which was first proved in 1882 by Lindemann–Weierstrass theorem. The expression ‘squaring the circle’ is sometimes used as a metaphor for trying to do the impossible.

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December 8, 2020

All Models Are Wrong

Ideal gas law

All models are wrong‘ is a common aphorism in statistics; it is often expanded as ‘All models are wrong, but some are useful.’ It is usually considered to be applicable to not only statistical models, but to scientific models generally. The aphorism recognizes that statistical or scientific models always fall short of the complexities of reality but can still be of use.

The aphorism is generally attributed to the statistician George Box, although the underlying concept predates Box’s writings. He offered the ‘ideal gas law’ as an example: ‘PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an ‘ideal’ gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules.’

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December 1, 2020

Jewish Nose

Joseph Jacobs

Jewish nose is a caricature of Jews with hooked noses with a convex nasal bridge and a downward turn of the tip of the nose that emerged in 13th century Europe. The stereotype persists despite the fact that this nose type is as common in the general population as it is among Jews in countries where it is prevalent, such as in the Mediterranean.

Around the middle of the 19th century, and lasting for more than a century, the term ‘Jewish nose’ was commonly used in scientific literature to describe a particular shape of nose which thought to be a race-based deformity characteristic of people with Jewish ancestry (which by unwitting efforts of plastic surgeons of early 20th century started to be viewed as a pathology to be corrected).

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November 15, 2020


Derren Brown

Mentalism [men-tl-iz-uhm] is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include hypnosis, telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats, deduction, and rapid mathematics.

Mentalists are sometimes categorized as psychic entertainers, although that category also contains non-mentalist performers such as psychic readers and bizarrists (magicians they rely heavily on wordplay). Notable mentalists include Derren Brown, Uri Geller, and the Amazing Kreskin.

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November 12, 2020

Speaking in Tongues

Agnes Ozman

Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, is a practice in which people utter words or speech-like sounds that some believe to be languages unknown to the speaker.

One definition used by linguists is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning, in some cases as part of religious practice in which some believe it to be a divine language unknown to the speaker. Glossolalia is practiced in Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity as well as in other religions.

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August 20, 2020

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig

‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values’ (ZAMM) is a book by Robert M. Pirsig first published in 1974. It is a work of fictionalized autobiography, and is the first of Pirsig’s texts in which he explores his “Metaphysics of Quality”.

The title is an apparent play on the title of the 1948 book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In its introduction, Pirsig explains that, despite its title, “it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”

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