Greg Stevens, Joe Riggs and Jason Hanna at the TurnItUpForChange event at the W Hotels for Marriage Equality 2015
Youtuber and Journalist Greg Stevens - making a goofy face during the recording of a video
Youtuber and Journalist Greg Stevens talks to Koby Sterling about bodybuilding, weightlifting, diet and exercise.

The simplest proof that free will is an illusion that you’ll ever see

A web of causes
Do you have reasons for making the choices that you make? If you do, then you don't have "free will". If you don't, then you also don't have "free will". It's really just that simple.

Atheism is not the opposite of religion

(click to enlarge)
Are you religious, or are you an atheist? It's a pretty common question, and it goes hand-in-hand with a pretty common assumption: you're either one or the other. If you identify as "an atheist" you are presumed to not be religious, and if you identify as "religious" then you are presumed to believe in some kind of god. But this idea is completely wrong. There are religious atheists, there are areligious theists, and an incredible tapestry of different combinations in between.

Is everything a simulation? Maybe, but not in the way you think.

This picture of Gray Scott is not a simulation of Gray Scott, because it does not change over time.
The most recent episode of Futuristic Now, a podcast by my friend Gray Scott, is about The Simulation Theory: the idea that the entirety of our experience--perhaps our entire universe--may be some form of simulation. Gray goes over some of the ideas people have put forth, and talks about some ways this view could be interpreted. As is always the case with his thought-provoking podcast, he brings up more questions than answers: If we are a simulation, who or what created us? What would the purpose be for creating a simulated universe? Does the mere existence of a simulation even require that there be a "creator" at all? As always, I like to dig in and get technical, and ask what it means for something to be a simulation in the first place.

So what are “trigger warnings” anyway?

Greg Stevens and Josiah Jennings talk about trigger warnings and political correctness
My latest chit-chat interview with Josiah Jennings is about trigger warnings and political correctness in academia. It was really prompted by two articles, one from Vox and another in The Atlantic. Both articles talk about political correctness being the major force of censorship and limitation in classes. But Josiah and I talk about some of the drastic misunderstandings there are concerning what "political correctness" and "trigger warnings" really mean, and some of the motivations of the people spreading misinformation.

Internet shaming is a symptom, not a disease

Social media shaming is bullying
If I see another woebegone think piece about the horrors of "internet shaming" I'm going to spew burrito chunks. They are all just so saccharine, and can be summed up in a handful of buzzwords each. Not only are these articles tedious in their moralistic cluck-clucking, they spend very little time trying to root out the real source of the problem. Internet shaming isn't just a product of "the internet age", and it isn't just a case of mob mentality or immaturity. It's a symptom of a deeper underlying problem: a problem with our culture that needs to be fixed before we can expect internet shaming to get better.

Give up on privacy. This is what you should worry about instead

Privacy is an illusion in the world of big data and data mining
Privacy is an illusion. It simply doesn't exist. You probably don't believe me. Until recently, it was easy for us to have the illusion of privacy. Now, with accelerating increases in computational power and storage, and the incredible sophistication of data mining and machine learning, that fake veil of "privacy" is about to be torn down--and it will be shown to have been nothing more than a mirage in the first place. But that doesn't mean you should freak out. It also doesn't mean that we should just ignore the legal concerns that people associate with "privacy" in our society today. All it means is that we need to re-frame these problems in a different way.

We must erect monuments to the Code of Ur-Nammu IMMEDIATELY

Tablets of the Code of Ur Nammu
For the last few years, conservatives in various states have been pushing to have monuments to the 10 Commandments erected on state property. The standard line is that it isn't a "religious symbol" but rather is a tribute to the influence that the 10 Commandments have had, culturally, on our laws and legal system. But if we take that argument seriously, we have to consider: were the 10 Commandments REALLY the very beginning of these traditions? As it turns out, there is a legal system much older that, when you do the math, is even more strongly related than the 10 Commandments is to the laws we have today.

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About Me

I’m an ex-academic and research scientist who still writes about sciencey things for Second Nexus and The Daily Dot. My writing has also appeared in, Inside, The Week, The Good Men Project, and Real Clear Technology. I get involved in a lot of projects through Greg Stevens Holdings, LLC.

This blog is where I talk about all the things that interest me: science, philosophy, politics, religion, history, culture, fitness, and even some personal stuff.

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