May 07, 2006

More Comment Spam Recongifuration

I've added to my blog configuration a list of words used in offensive comment spam (especially those that link to porn sites). I realize, however, that the relevant words (which I will not list here, as I will probably add more later as the need arises) have legitimate uses (which is why I'm moderating rather than junking them). So, if you write a comment that contains, for instance, the word 'nude,' you will receive a message that says "Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner." I'll get an email with your comment and approve it as soon as possible. Comments that don't use such words will not be effected.

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May 04, 2006

Christian Carnival CXX

Christian Carnival CXX is up at Daddypundit with a link to my recent post on the Trinity. Check it out.

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April 10, 2006

Comment Spam Filter

So, a comment that I wrote myself was recently rejected by my spam filter. This seems to have occurred because it contained an excessive number of links. I don't want to turn the filter aggressiveness down because a lot of spam already gets through, so if you post a comment (or a trackback) and it doesn't appear on the page within a few minutes (it's normally pretty much instantaneous), please email me at so I can retrieve it from the junk bin. Thanks!

Posted by kpearce at 09:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Christian Carnival

The latest Christian Carnival is now up at In The Outer with a link to my post on Biblical inerrancy. As always, there is a lot of interesting content. Highly reccomended.

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March 23, 2006

March 20, 2006

Philosophers' Carnival 31 Coming to!

It's official! Philosophers' Carnival 31 will be hosted right here at on June 5, 2006. The philosophers' carnival occurs about every three weeks and showcases philosophy posts from many different blogs, in order to help small blogs gain exposure and help facilitate blog discussions about philosophy. The next carnival will be on April 3 at The University of Nowhere. You can submit your entries here.

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March 14, 2006

Philosopher's Carnival 27

Philosopher's Carnival 27 is up at Heaven Tree with a link to my post on Rights, Obligations, and Abortion. Check it out.

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February 21, 2006

Philosophers' Carnival 26

Philosophers' Carnival 26 is up at Hesperus/Phosphorus with a link to my post on libertarianism and corporations.

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February 17, 2006

Christian Carnival CIX

Christian Carnival CIX is up at Pursuing Holiness with a link to my post on reevaluating Genesis.

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January 31, 2006

Uncredible Double Carnival

Both the Philosopher's Carnival and the GOD or NOT Carnival are up at The Uncredible Hallq. I didn't get a submission in for this month's GOD or NOT, on the theme of "Definition of God," but the philosopher's carnival contains a link to my recent post on persons as events.

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January 19, 2006

Christian Carnival CV

Christian Carnival CV is up at Dunmoose the Ageless with a link to my post on musterion.

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January 11, 2006

Christian Carnival 104

Christian Carnival 104 is up at Random Responses with a link to my post on the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

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January 10, 2006

Philosophers' Carnival XXIV

Philosophers' Carnival XXIV is up at Rad Geek People's Dailywith a link to my post Let's Make Creation Science Not Suck. Rad Geek does a wonderful job summarizing all of the very interesting entries in the carnival. Check it out.

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January 04, 2006

Christian Carnival CIII

Christian Carnival CIII is up at Misere Mei with a link to my post, "Are Linguistic Facts Theologically Significant". As always, the Christian Carnival has many interesting entries.

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December 15, 2005

Accuracy of Wikipedia vs. Brittanica

From Nature magazine via slashdot: a survey by experts of articles on 42 science related topics (e.g. "Cambrian Explosion," "lymphocyte," "neural network," "quark," etc. Complete list here) found that the Wikipedia articles contained an average 4 errors per article, whereas Encyclopedia Brittanica contained on average 3. Each encyclopedia contained four instances of "serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts" in the 42 articles surveyed. The rest were minor factual errors. Interestingly, the article with the most errors seems to have been the same for both Wikipedia and Brittanica: that on Dmitry Mendeleev, where Wikipedia contained 19 errors, and Brittanica 8, according to Princeton Professor Michael Gordin who recently wrote a book on Mendeleev.

Two further facts are of note: the reviewers said that the Wikipedia articles were usually more confusing and harder to follow, and a Wikipedia enthusiast has noted that the comparison may be unfair since wikipedia articles are much longer on average (2.6 times longer, to be precise), and so actually have fewer errors per kilobyte of data.

A similar study, though of much smaller scale, was undertaken by Ed Felten some time ago, which I discussed at the time here.

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November 23, 2005

Carnivals Galore!

Within the last 24 hours, Philosopher's Carnival XXII has gone up at For Those of You At Home, and Christian Carnival ICVII has gone up at Thought Renewal. The Philosopher's Carnival links to my recent post on judicial activism, and the Christian Carnival is linking to "Ivy League Elitist ... Porn?".

At the Philosopher's Carnival (though not at the Christian Carnival), it is customary for the host to comment on each of the posts. Ian Olasov ends his very kind remarks on my post with the line "Now all we need to do is force our elected officials to speak the way Mr. Pearce does..." Reminds me of Plato: "Until philosophers rule as kings in cities or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who are present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils, Glaucon, nor, I think, will the human race." (Republic Book V, 473c-d, tr. G.M.A. Grube). And so your question for the day: is this true or false? Is it necessary for political leaders to be experienced in highly theoretical modes of reasoning? Why or why not?

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November 21, 2005

Funny Story...

I was checking my blog status on technorati and found a link to my post on Transliteration vs. Translation from a site in a language I couldn't even identify! It looked Germanic to me (but what do I know), so I tried to plug it into the Google translator for German to English and it didn't work. According to the author's blogger profile, he is a theology student in Sweden, so I guess the blog must be in Swedish. How fun! Only I can't read it, and I can't find a web-site with automated translation from Swedish. Amazing how the internet spreads ideas even to people in other countries with languages I can't understand. Just for the sake of my curiosity, can anyone tell me what he's saying about me?

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October 31, 2005

Philosopher's Carnival XXI

Philosopher's Carnival XXI is up at Prior Knowledge with a link to my recent post on Leibniz and miracles (yes, that's the same post the Christian Carnival linked to last week - I haven't had time to write much recently). The Philosopher's Carnival is a "fortnightly" compilation of recent posts on philosophy blogs.

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October 20, 2005

Christian Carnival XCII at Theology and Biblical Studies

So I just discovered this "Blog Carnival" thing and think its a fantastic idea. For those of you who don't know, it works like this: each period (the Christian Carnival is weekly, the Philosopher's Carnival is fortnightly) one blog hosts, and people from all different blogs submit entries on some theme or topic, which are then compiled into summaries with links. Christian Carnival XCII is now up at World of Sven's Theology and Biblical Studies, and has graciously accepted my late entry, this post on Leibniz's discussion of efficient and final causes, and its application to Christian thought on science and miracles.

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September 20, 2004

Censorship and Internet Porn

Ed Felten is blogging today on obscenity laws and the possibility of regulating online pornography, and in particular access to it by children. This is a difficult issue for me, as I often find myself, in the ordinary course of living my life, watching television, using the Internet, accidentally exposed to content I find offensive, despite making an active attempt to avoid it. However, as a libertarian, I generally oppose government censorship, and don't trust the government (or myself) to distinguish pornography from art correctly 100% of the time, and I wouldn't want any true art permanently destroyed because of anti-pornography legislation. I also wouldn't want such legislation to result in the government monitoring the communications of private citizens, or artists of any variety having to clear their work with the government before publishing. I do, however, have some idea as to how to reconcile these issues to one another.

First, what is art, and what is pornography? Are the two mutually exclusive? These are, at core, philosophical questions, and the definition of art is something that has been debated by philosophers for centuries. The debate usually involves a technical definition of the word "genius". Genius, in this context, is the ability to create art. Because it is not my purpose in this entry to argue for a particular theory of art, I will merely state mine briefly, with no justification: Art is the product of genius. Genius is the drive to create. What this means is that the "genius" is driven to create something, and the drive is its own motivation, such that he would create even if there were no other pleasure of benefit to be derived from the creation of his art.

This definition, of course, excludes much of popular music, movies, and television, because these are often created for profit by people who would otherwise feel no urge to create them.

Pornography, by contrast, is created for the purpose of sexual arousal. Any image, verbal description, or whatever, that a person looks to for the purpose of sexual gratification is to that person pornographic. Of course, it may not have been created for that purpose, and it may not have this effect on everyone. In a perfect system, where the government was run by perfect people, I wouldn't see the need for First Amendment protection of truly pornographic works. However, we live under an imperfect system, run by politicians (read: idiots), and I don't trust them to correctly distinguish between art and pronography, as I have already said. As a result of this, I must oppose the idea of completely eliminating pornographic content.

This doesn't solve anything. I still don't want to see it, and if some day I have children, I imagine I won't want them to see it either. One of Professor Felten's readers, Roland Smith, pointed out that protecting children from offensive content is the job of parents. I couldn't agree more. Essentially then, I don't want pornography to be censored completely, but I demand that individuals have the ability to voluntarily censor themselves and their children. How can this be implemented without a bunch of ridiculous overhead and government intervention?

The answer is simple, really: Civil liability. Let's make a law that says that if I view or listen to some work (movie, web-site, song, etc.) and it contains something I deem offensive, and I had a reasonable expectation that I was not going to contain that sort of thing, the content provider should have civil liability; after all, he has essentially infringed on my rights by deceiving me into viewing some content I did not wish to view (and probably paying for it, too!). How will the movie/recording/video game/television/etc. industries shield themselves from ridiculous lawsuits under this system? Easy. They'll just have to create rating systems that are based on actual empirical measurements, and publish how those measurements are made. There are already movie review sites that do things like this. For instance, they count the number of minor and major obscenities (having an established list of which fall into which category) and give the movie a profanity rating. The current movie and television rating systems are ridiculous and don't actually measure the offensive content. Movies frequently intentionally seek R ratings to appeal to older audiences, and sometimes end up getting them despite the fact that some PG-13 movies contain more offensive content (The Last Samurai, though violent, is an excellent example of an R-rated movie whose content fails to justify its rating).

Anyway, that's what I have to say on the subject. Thanks for reading.

Posted by kpearce at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 03, 2004

How to Use Wikipedia Properly

Ed Felten is blogging today about questions on the quality of content on the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. According to Felten's quick survey of topics on which he is an expert (Princeton University, Princeton Township, himself, virtual memory, and the Microsoft antitrust case), one in six Wikipedia articles contains serious errors, whereas the other five are extremely detailed and accurate.

First,concerning accuracy: I used to work on Wikipedia. It has been a few years, and none of my work is clearly evident any longer, but I worked on articles such as Fundamentalist Christianity, Byzantine text-type (of the New Testament), and Alexandrian text-type.

Regarding Professor Felten's comments on the Microsoft Antitrust Case page, I think this sort of problem is common in Wikipedia, but is getting progressively less common. It serves only as a warning as to how to use Wikipedia properly. Notice the "external links" at the bottom of the page. Every "high school report writer" knows that one does not take his information from a single source, particularly a single online source. Wikipedia has to be viewed as a typical web-site, which can be expected to have accurate information perhaps 90% of the time, but a researcher really ought to find a second source to back up his information, because of the other 10%.

One commenter on Professor Felten's blog, identifying himself as Michael S., suggested the possibility of a "bug report" feature. This is provided by Wikipedia's talk pages. Anyone can go post a comment on the talk page and the people who regularly edit the article will get it (you get there from the "discussion" link at the top).

A second commenter, C. Scott Ananian, focused on Professor Felten's concern with the emphasis of his own entry. I don't think that the Wikipedia article is misrepresenting anything. If slashdot and The Electronic Frontier Foundation hadn't been all over the DMCA threat Felten's team received, I never would have heard of him and would not today be a reader of his blog. Perhaps among those who read computer science journals, or among Princeton students, Professor Felten is better known for his other acheivements, but to the average Geek the name "Ed Felten" invokes one immediate response: The rallying cry, "Down with the DMCA!"

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