Ant Allan

Lincoln, United Kingdom

About Ant

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Bio

Yorkshireman, born in Harrogate in 1961, with a doctorate in theoretical particle physics. Working in IT since 1986, now as an industry analyst with the world's largest IT research and advisory firm. Married since 1988 with twin children born in 1991.

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

Identity and access management, User Authentication, Physics

An idea worth spreading

Epistemic humility -- the recognition that we could be wrong -- is a virtue in science as it is in daily life, but surely we have some reason for thinking, some four centuries after the start of the scientific revolution, that Aristotle was on the wrong track and that we are not, or at least not yet. Our reasons for thinking this are obvious and uncontroversial: mechanistic explanations and an abandonment of supernatural causality proved enormously fruitful in expanding our ability to predict and control the world around us. The fruits of the scientific revolution, though at odds with common sense, allow us to send probes to Mars and to understand why washing our hands prevents the spread of disease.
-- Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg, "Do You Only Have a Brain? On Thomas Nagel"

I'm passionate about

My family; science (esp. cosmology, evolutionary biology, palaeontology & philosophy of mind); freethought, skepticism & rationalism; music; sf & fantasy; mediaeval history & heraldry.

Comments & conversations

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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
Well, we never have sent *satellites* towards the edges of the Milky way, only into orbit around the Earth (and a few planets in the solar system, iirc). We have a remarkably accurate understanding of the BB (see, for ex., http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/02/09/the-big-bang-for-beginners/). If the speed of light were not a constant over time and space, we just wouldn’t have the consilience across disparate observations that we do. /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
Well, that’s all right then, since I haven’t been discussing your personal qualities. (I notice you’re a vet; kudos to you for that.) Yes, pretty much. If you really want to argue that prudent exercise of editorial control to meet published quality guidelines [http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science] is actually *suppressing* Sheldrake, go right ahead, but don’t expect agreement from me. Withdrawing the video from TED/TEDx would in no way inhibit Sheldrake from reaching as wide an audience via other channels. /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
The BB is not a straw man; it‘s your characterisation of it that is. The SM is not built upon the BB. It was developed independently of cosmological considerations. See, for ex., Quarks and Leptons by Halzen and Martin. This argument was about your “Abiogenesis of the Standard Model”, not Sheldrake. And again, claiming that your argument is invalid because your premises are wrong (since you plainly do not understand the science you are critical of) is not an ad hominem attack. Claiming that your arguments are wrong because you are (hypothetically) a person of moral turpitude would be. Do you see? /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
Your straw man! When you continue to parade your lack of knowledge, about logical fallacies as well as science, remarking on your ignorance is a matter of fact, and one very pertinent to the argument. No-one is saying Sheldrake can’t make his absurd claims at all. What we’re debating is not censorship, just editorial policy. /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
“It has never been measured outside of the solar system, or outside of the Milky Way, or a million years ago, or a billion years ago.” Um… yes it has, implicitly. All observations of stars in our own and other galaxies and of the CBR are consistent with a speed of light constant throughout the universe back through time to the BB. /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
Well, of course I make a distinction between evolution and the BB! And regarding origins I make a distinction between abiogenesis and the BB (since evolution NE abiogenesis!). And so does Genesis! “Fiat lux!” on Day One and the first living things on Day Three. I do not believe I’ve insulted you, sir! Perhaps you are unconsciously guilty of the ad hominem fallacy fallacy [http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html]? I attacked only the straw man of the BB that you proffered. No one is censoring Sheldrake; what’s under discussion is whether or not TED/TEDx should be giving him a platform to spout his pseudoscientific flapdoodle — which is very much not an idea worth sharing! /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
“I can't think of any experiment that would show that the universe is machine-like” There is difference between observing a phenomenon that cannot (yet) be explained by our current “materialist” models and multiple observations which consistently contradict them (e.g., something that violates the “laws underlying the physics of everyday life”). The latter (given sufficient confidence levels) would provide falsification. &c. /@
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Ant Allan
Posted about 1 year ago
Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues
I do think that the average Creationist says, “I know it’s true, I read it in the Bible.” I cannot do justice to the likes of Carroll, Hawking or Krauss, so I won’t try, but I know enough to see that your blurb is a woefully scientifically illiterate mischaracterisation of the BB. You do realise that abiogenesis concerns the origin of life, don’t you? Not the origin of our observable universe. Hmm… maybe you don’t. And you’re straying rather far from the topic in hand. /@