Lamp Post: May 9, 2016

The original Narnian lamp post drawn by Pauline Baynes

The original Narnian lamp post drawn by Pauline Baynes

The Lamp Post is a collection of quotes, news articles, opinion pieces or blog posts that I found interesting and worthy of attention.

Telegraph: Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg

This should put an end to the whole “we don’t know where life begins” argument. I won’t. People who claim they all driven by science will still make that claim, but the more we know the more ridiculous it looks.

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Gizmodo: Want to Know What Facebook Really Thinks of Journalists? Here’s What Happened When It Hired Some.

This article buries the lead. They focus on the treatment of the journalists involved (interesting), but barely scratch the surface of the control this team of individuals has over the trending topics.

The trending news section is run by people in their 20s and early 30s, most of whom graduated from Ivy League and private East Coast schools like Columbia University and NYU. They’ve previously worked at outlets like the New York Daily News, Bloomberg, MSNBC, and the Guardian. Some former curators have left Facebook for jobs at organizations including the New Yorker, Mashable, and Sky Sports.

According to former team members interviewed by Gizmodo, this small group has the power to choose what stories make it onto the trending bar and, more importantly, what news sites each topic links out to. “We choose what’s trending,” said one. “There was no real standard for measuring what qualified as news and what didn’t. It was up to the news curator to decide.”

That post is interesting, but their latest post expands the more important point. Facebook curators regularly removed conservative-leaning news topics and “injected” topics they deemed important even if they weren’t actually trending.

Paradox Project: How to Trick Atheists into Believing in God

This reveals just how often supposedly scientific individuals will accept a theory about humanity, with no actual proof, that sounds almost exactly like God, but with a science-y name.

None other than Neil deGrasse Tyson set the odds that we are a computer simulation at 50-50. The argument rests largely on the idea that long-future beings of vast resource and intelligence may wish to create simulations of their ancestors. And if they run many of these simulations, then we must conclude that (this is a real quote) “simple statistics suggests it is much more likely that we are among the simulated minds.”

New York Times: Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’

Instead of stating an opinion or trying to defend a position, we fall back to our feelings—which renders discussion virtually impossible.

The more common “I feel like” becomes, the less importance we may attach to its literal meaning. “I feel like the emotions have long since been mostly bleached out of ‘feel that,’ ” said Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania. But when new verbal vices become old habits, their power to shape our thought does not diminish.

We should not “feel like.” We should argue rationally, feel deeply and take full responsibility for our interaction with the world.

Guardian: Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Bodleian library

A map of Middle-earth, which to generations of fans remains the greatest fantasy world ever created, heavily annotated by JRR Tolkien, has been acquired by the Bodleian library in Oxford to add to the largest collection in the world of material relating to his work, including the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The annotations, in green ink and pencil, demonstrate how real his creation was in Tolkien’s mind: “Hobbiton is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford,” he wrote.

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About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.