Thursday, May 7, 2015

National day of prayer ...

Today is the National Day of prayer. A day I find misguided and utterly absurd in 2015 both in virtue of it's utter impotence and it's ridiculous exclusivity.

I don't disparage people who want to pray, but a national day of prayer does irk me nonetheless...

So first some history. This link gives a great rundown on a timeline behind the NDP:

I note that notable figures like Thomas Jefferson stood against the very notion .. But I won't linger on that point, because I want to be forward thinking and besides others will simply point to other notable figures in the US's venerable past who did.

I want to know what we're supposed to do with this day? What does it mean? Can we all sit together and pray away economic inequality? Crime? Dissenters on the 1st or 2nd amendment? How is this day not a national wishing day of individual vice and virtue... And by virtue here I mean the righteous virtue behind biblical sentencing...

I wonder what people pray for today. Too bad we have no statistics for prayer. Would probably be most enlightening.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Be skeptical of hasty conclusions drawn from google search suggestions

There's a patheos article going around with an image of google searches beginning with "atheists should" .. I figured it must be grossly exaggerated so I decided to try it and received the same result. Shocking? I'm not surprised. See here below:

That said, it strikes me that these two words are clearly part of a negative statement and so google's algorithm is only returning those search phrases most in line with it ...

But what about other phrases?

Next I tried with Christianity:

And then Islam:

And then for good measure a couple more:

Note that neither children nor cute puppies resulted in any suggestion from google... My educated guess is that there simply aren't enough people inclined to form a negative search string for "children" and "cute puppies." But when I did it with spiders I think I received expected results... The bunnies list of suggestion was odd...

I am not claiming this to be a scientific study, in fact I'm suggesting that this shows that we should be far more skeptical of any data taken from this type of sample: people aiming to look for other negative postings.