Category: Llama

A very faulty premise...

I have a hard time engaging in ‘dialogue’ with the average Christian and there’s a bunch of reasons for that. There is, however, a primary reason that dissuades me from doing so…

When discussing anything OTHER than religion everybody is happy to agree that scientific principles should apply. In every area of life other than religion (and other superstitions of course…) the scientific method is an acceptable framework to investigate basically anything, even to fundamentally religious people.

When it comes to a person’s religious belief, for reasons which escape me, the scientific method is no longer acceptable. You’ll stake your life and the lives of you children on science in every other conceivable way but it’s no good when investigating religion…

The problem with talking to a Christian (for example) about their belief is that they start with a faulty premise. With religion, people start with the assumption or preconception that God exists and then try to support this idea, discarding any evidence to the contrary. This is called confirmation bias, “a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions regardless of whether the evidence is true or not” (Wikipedia).

What should be done is to start from the assumption that there is no god and then one should set out to prove that there is, using empirical, verifiable evidence.

Why this is so is very obvious, to me at least, and this is where the main sticking point is for religious discussions. If you can claim anything without evidence then anything that can be claimed is true. It is illogical and… stupid. Nobody, except perhaps a deranged (religious?) person, will agree with the claim that there is a 100,000 foot cosmological llama, swimming in space, between Uranus and Neptune repeatedly singing God Save the Queen. Why? Because its freaking absurd.

If I made that claim along with, say, four or five Hubble observations clearly showing a 100,000 foot llama in the outer solar system and then two other observatories independently observe the same thing while some cosmology students calculate its orbit and then predict its position at a certain date and time, which is then verified again through observation… it’s not so absurd. Reasonable people would then be convinced that there is indeed a cosmological llama and a new field of study would be created.

The point is that the claim is not assumed to be true. It is completely reasonable to not assume it to be true. One must then apply the same rule to everything else, including the claim that a God exists.

So a reasonable conversation with a religious person then starts with: prove that (any) God exists. As an example, one might want to argue that the Bible proves that God exists. But for the Bible to even begin to be relevant, God (Yahweh, specifically) must exist (to have inspired it) but we have not shown that this is the case at all, so the Bible cannot be used as evidence (since the only authority the Bible has comes from the God who’s existence has not been established; no God, no authority, no evidence). Not, however, that a reasonable person would ever consider using the Bible as evidence for anything (have you READ it?) other than the possible historical existence of barbarians.

So the conversation goes nowhere because there is no freaking evidence for ANY god’s existence. You cannot productively discuss a religion if there is no logical way to progress from the fundamental issue around the existence or non-existence of a deity.

So, for a conversation to happen the religious person must first correct their faulty premise: that there is a God in existence at all.

Correcting this faulty premise is much akin to John Loftus’ “Outsider Test For Faith” which in essence asks a religious person to examine their own beliefs with the same skepticism that they examine the beliefs of people from other religions. There are three pertinent points that come from the Outsider Test For Faith: 1) religious people automatically assume the other person’s deity doesn’t exist, 2) religious people overwhelmingly assume the religion of the culture they were born in and 3) all religions have the same ‘evidence’ and the same problems and when evaluated objectively are found to fundamentally BE the same (and can be discarded the same).

If a religious man can assume another man’s deity doesn’t exist, he has laid the groundwork for examining his own beliefs in a similar manner; he has shown that he is capable of starting from a point of disbelief related to religion and the fact that a man is (usually) the religion of his parents explain WHY he believes what he believes in the complete absence of evidence. Children are programmed to accept the authority of their elders and if you tell a child that God exists with enough conviction, the child will believe this without evidence. This child then becomes an adult, evidence-less beliefs included.

So, why is it so hard for the religious to correct their faulty premise?

If a religious person corrects their faulty premise, the assumption that a God exists, and makes the point of departure the non-existence of God then there is no way to follow a logical path back to their religion. No religious person has, in several thousand years, adequately proven that any God exists, let alone a personally involved, loving God, something that should be trivial if that was the case. Without  any God at all, what is the point of discussing anything else in any religion… unless the point is to discuss the quaint and barbaric superstitions of primitive bronze age tribes people. What IS religion without God if not a ridiculous collection of bronze age superstitions?

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” — Christopher Hitchens

I can't gets no sleep

I’ve run out of day again without managing to write a constructive Blog Post of Ranged Critical Strike Damage +150%  or something. I also have only slept for half an hour in two days so I am having a hard time even finding myself amusing. Harsh.

Anyway, I almost made Blog Milestone Number Two today (starting an actual civilised discussion) with the Blog Milestone Number One post. Thanks to Christopher and  Shamelessly Atheist for posting civilised comments, I appreciate it. Perhaps another couple people would like to share their views and help check number two off the list? Anybody? *echo* *echo*

Oh, and how cool, I quoted Danny Thorpe in Computer Quote of the day 0x06 and he saw the post and commented on it. Cool. I wonder if PZ Myers has ever said anything computer related…

Llamas have a fine undercoat which can be used for handicrafts and garments.

Right, I understand, that title makes this post look ridiculously interesting. Let me be the first to assure you that it is not. I am seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel here because nothing made me furious today and since I’m not finished with what I’m doing otherwise, I have not as yet got anything even vaguely amusing to say about that. I also haven’t read any blogs yet, perhaps inspiration will afflict me later.

I have a pimple.

It is a blind pimple and it’s on the tip of my nose. It hurts like all hell and it makes me look like Rudolph the bloody red nose reindeer. It’s a little embarrassing, especially so when my wife see’s me, points and laughs. Sympathy, dammit, is what I want.

Hear that scraping sound.

Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America and Asia about 3 million years ago. By the end of the last ice age (10,000–12,000 years ago) camelids were extinct in North America. As of 2007, there were over 7 million llamas and alpacas in South America and, due to importation from South America in the late 20th century, there are now over 100,000 llamas and 6,500–7,000 alpacas in the US and Canada.

Llamas know the world wasn’t created 6000 years ago.

What is a good idea really worth?

Working as a software developer for just over a decade I have seen my fair share of ideas and execution, dismal failures and (insert interesting adjective) successes.

The basis of this post comes from a post by Derek Sivers (and the comments to that post), the dude who made ,where he wrote some interesting things about the value of ideas versus the value of the execution of those ideas. Read the entry here.

Which ideas are we talking about here, you are no doubt thinking to yourself. I am distinguishing ‘ideas’ into two broad categories, commercial/business and intellectual. By commercial/business I mean ideas like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Kreepy Krauly; ideas that people came up with that made them money or that were made into a successful businesses. I am not talking about intellectual ideas like those had by Plato, Nietzsche, Galileo or Da Vinci which changed the world (and no doubt could have and did make them some money) but are not currently raking in the cash. Obviously I am also biased towards software/web type ideas, since that is where I have virtually all my experience.

In Derek’s post, he basically states that the ‘idea’ is purely a multiplier to the value that is the ‘execution’. It works like this:


  • Awful idea: -1
  • Weak idea: 1
  • Average idea: 5
  • Good idea: 10
  • Great idea: 15
  • Brilliant idea: 20


  • No execution: $1
  • Weak execution: $1000
  • Average execution: $10,000
  • Good execution: $100,000
  • Great execution: $1,000,000
  • Brilliant execution: $10,000,000

To make a business, you multiply the two:

  • A brilliant idea with no execution: $20
  • A brilliant idea takes brilliant execution to make it worth $200,000,000

Fundamentally, I agree with him. A great idea with no execution is basically worthless but there are some other factors to think about around this concept.

When you consider an entire project/product, how much of the totality of the project is the idea and how much is the execution. From a pure time and effort point of view, the idea may very well end up being a very small fraction (say 0.1%) of the project effort while the execution is the other 99.9%. Sure, some people may put a lot of effort into developing an idea, but I have never seen a project where the idea part of the project was more than the ‘very small fraction’ of the whole project. If you think about it, the idea of Facebook was relatively straightforward and pretty simple and when you compare the initial idea (regardless of the hours spent on developing it at the outset) to just the millions of development hours that have gone into creating the system it is today,  it is pretty easy to see that the idea vs. execution effort is hugely skewed towards execution. It works the same for all the big ones like Google and Amazon and most (if not all) of the smaller ones.

Other things that affect that simple ‘idea multiplied by execution’ equation is timing and market saturation. A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed may still end up being worthless if it’s done at the wrong time. You may argue though, that timing is part of the execution. I agree. A lot of the dotcom bubble companies had very good ideas  which were executed brilliantly but were premature, the market just wasn’t ready for doing business on the internet to the extent which the start-ups needed. Amazon was nearly one of these casualties but managed to hold on long enough for the timing problem to be worked out. That, in my opinion, is part of the brilliant execution.

As far as market saturation goes, I think Apple in the smart phone market is a prime example of how a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed can succeed even if there are very many players already operating in the same space. Again, I think overcoming market saturation is a function of execution and not a completely separate factor entirely.

In my career as a software developer I have seen some good ideas executed terribly and fail and I have seen some reasonably terrible ideas executed exceedingly well and win, big time. In every single case I can think of, executing the idea was wildly more difficult than developing the idea in the first place and I think that this is where the ‘ideas’ people can learn a lot. Coming up with a reasonably good idea is not that difficult. Many people have good ideas. In fact, I have several. Executing those ideas, however, is a completely different ball game and is what makes the difference and the insanely big bucks in the end.

Having said that, I do believe in protecting ideas. While in the bigger scheme of things, developing the idea may only make up a fraction of a project, that may still and does usually add up to a huge amount of effort and let’s face it, nothing is worse than working your ass off on something just to have it taken away and not get anything for it. There will always be somebody better able to execute an idea than you are (unless you are Google possibly) and so you need some protection against this happening. No protection is complete though and big names like Microsoft have made a business out of crushing ‘the little guy’ reasonably often.

All things considered, I would rather have an average idea executed brilliantly than a brilliant idea executed averagely.

The price for a male llama varies between $200 and $1000 while a female fetches between $400 and $3500+.

Interesting, no?


Actually, I’m grasping at straws here. Either today was a particularly quiet day where nothing at all happened (hardly impossible) or my brain is refusing to record anything vaguely interesting (hardly impossibly). 6 straight hours of Top Gear will do that I guess.

I’ve been toying with the idea of ranting about iBurst, how I get disconnected and how it makes me furious (which it does, spitting mad even) but I’m not going to.

The llama is a South American camelid (seriously), widely used as a pack and meat animal by Andean cultures since pre-hispanic times. In popular culture llamas are mostly associated with the Incans.

And so it comes to pass, it was morning and it was night and that was the first day of MMX.

Respect the Llama.

%d bloggers like this: