• 458

    posted a message on Move Wither Skeletons out of Fortresses! *Over 480 Supporters!*

    Right now, Wither Skeletons only spawn in Nether Fortresses. People have been asking for more features to be added to the Nether, and as of now all the features in the Nether are in Nether Fortresses except for glowstone, Zombie Pigmen, and Ghasts. Nether Fortresses have Nether Bricks, Blazes (necessary for potions), Nether Warts, and right now Wither Skeletons as well. Why should half of all the features of the Nether be all in Nether Fortresses? I don't know about you, but whenever I go to the Nether it is almost always to find a Nether Fortress. In addition to that, Wither Skeletons right now only drop a Wither Skeleton Skull 2.5% of the time. That's a 1 in 40 chance of you getting a Wither Skeleton Skull. For those of you who haven't done the math, that means you need to kill an average of 120 Wither Skeletons to summon the Wither. I spent a half-hour in a Nether Stronghold and found 3 Wither Skeletons. Do the math - I don't know about you, but I don't have enough time to hunt down 120 or more Wither Skeletons just to summon a boss.



    All this points to a very simple solution: Move Wither Skeletons out of Nether Fortresses. This would increase how common they are, and give players a reason to explore more of the Nether beyond just Nether Fortresses. It's a very simple idea, but a very effective solution. In addition, this is a way to get a hostile mob into the nether. Right now the most common mob is neutral, and Ghasts are fairly rare. Wither Skeletons would give a reason to make the player cautious. All a player really has to watch out for wandering around the nether now is lava and the occasional Ghast. They would spawn about as commonly as Endermen do now in the Overworld. NOTE: This would not stop Wither Skeletons from spawning inside Nether Fortresses, as the name probably implies (sorry). It would just allow them to spawn everywhere, including both inside and outside Nether Fortresses.


    [size=large]Mod[/size]
    Rinnsal has added this as an optional feature to his Nether mod! If you want to check out how this idea would work in the Nether while having some really cool new Nether items as well, check out his mod here: NetherStuffs 0.19 by Rinnsal The download link is at that page, along with a mod review video and a description of all the awesome stuff in the mod. I highly recommend it! Additionally, Builderb0y has created a mod that allows Wither Skeletons to spawn everywhere in the Nether without all that extra stuff. Here's the download link: http://www.mediafire...a7ttstxokee2puv Just put it into the minecraft.jar and you're done.



    [size=large]FAQ/Responses to Common Criticisms:[/size]

    [size=small]NOTE: Because of the recent influx of posters who have given two sentence posts and haven't even bothered to look at the FAQ, any post that clearly could have been addressed with a trip here will be replied to with a simple "See FAQ #X". I highly encourage you to at least peruse the questions before posting ignorant criticism.[/size]
    Q: This would make the Nether too hard!
    A: The Nether was originally known as a "hell world". It was released during the Halloween update, and players initially entered with trepidation, fearing the dangers that awaited them. The people realized the only mob in there could be kill with two arrows. Ghasts are 4x4x4, making them fairly easy to hit, even from a distance. Additionally, a single knocked back fireball takes them out instantly. Their fireballs, even with a direct hit, still do less damage than a creeper. They are the only mob that represents a challenge in the Nether, and they aren't even that hard. Magma cubes are a joke - at the speed they go, you can just walk away. Zombie Pigmen ignore you unless you actually hit them, at all the rest of the mobs are confined to Nether Fortresses.
    This is supposed to be Hell, and yet a player with a small stock of arrows can walk freely through the area with barely a care in the world! With iron armor, basically all caution except with lava can be abandoned, because a Ghast would only be able to take you out with two direct hits, and everything else can be ignored! Wither Skeletons would add needed challenge to a dimension that is supposed to be terrifying, and force players to actually be prepared to get their Glowstone and Nether Quartz. With Wither Skeletons moved out, a player that isn't in good armor would need to be fast, and a well prepared player would actually need a variety of equipment like milk buckets or potions. If you really didn't want to fight them, you could always sprint away, which takes a small amount of skill.
    But remember, they would only spawn about as commonly as Endermen, so it isn't like you'd be horded like with 3 at once. You would have to fight one, maybe two, unless you actually walked around getting a bunch on your tail. This change would make the Nether much more challenging, but not nearly enough to make it impossible, even in no armor. A veteran could still walk without armor with enough movement skill, while newer players could most likely survive in iron armor, but no less, as they should be able to in the dimension of Hell.
    Q: The Wither is a boss. It is meant to be hard to summon!
    A: Yes, and I agree it should be hard to summon. But right now, it takes far too long. You have to kill 120, on average, and it might take you a half-hour or so just to find three. This idea keeps it a challenge without making it so only a collaborative multiplayer effort or obsession is able to summon the wither. People want to be able to summon it in single player without being in a nether fortress 24/7.
    There has been a fair amount of contention about this lately, especially making the beacon too easy to get. I would remind players that the beacon takes a minimum of 81 ores to complete. That's quite the chore - just because you can summon the Wither does not mean it can suddenly immediately get a beacon. Second, this does not make it too easy to get all the skulls to summon the Wither. As I said earlier, it takes an average of 120 Wither Skeleton kills to get all the heads. Unlucky player might need to kill as many as 300 or more. As I've said, they will spawn about as commonly as Endermen. Go out and try to kill 120 Endermen, then try to tell me that the amount of time it took you would make it too easy to get the beacon.
    Don't believe on the average of 120 or unlucky players having to kill as many as 300? Have a full-blown statistical analysis based on the normal and geometric cumulative frequency distributions. Happy reading!
    So take this from someone taking AP Statistics – having to kill 120 Wither Skeletons is not an “extreme”, it is an average. There is a 2.5% chance per kill of getting a skull, meaning p=(.025). To calculate the average number of repetitions needed before achieving “success”, the formula is simply 1/p, or in this case 1/.025. Plug that into your calculator and it spits out 40. From there, it doesn’t take a statistics class to tell you that to get three, you multiply by three for (guess what!) 120. That means, the average player will have to kill 120 Wither Skeletons before getting three heads, leading me to the conclusion that you are either lucky or exaggerating. This isn’t really something you can dispute – these are well established mathematical formulas.
    But hey, say you don’t believe me. Say you think I got the math wrong, even though this kind of probability is something I learned before statistics even expanded upon it. I built a quick calculator program on my calculator while I was bored in precalculus, then ran it for 999 trials (the max my calculator can take before no longer being able to run analysis). Here’s the coding, so you can be sure I didn’t cheat. It probably won’t make much sense to you, but I’m sure another programmer on the forums can confirm its validity, and I’ll comment it up and add actual names to the variables to make it easier to understand.
    ClrHome //clears what is currently on the screen
    
    ClrList L[sub]1[/sub] //clears whatever is in the list I’ll be storing the results in
    
    0->Successes
    
    0->Count
    
    1->Runs
    
    Input “Trials:”,Trials //Asks the user how many trials he wants to run
    
    Output(3,1,”Trial:”)
    
    Output(4,1,”Last Num:”)
    
    While Runs≤Trials //Sets up loop for number of trials
    
    Output(3,7,Runs) //Outputs the current trial to keep track of progress
    
    0->Successes
    
    0->Count //Resets both variables for the coming trial
    
    While Successes<3 //Will run until 3 “Successes” are achieved
    
    If randInt(1,40)=1 //If a randomly generated number 1 through 40 is one, a wither skeleton head is received. This simulates the killing of one Wither Skeleton
    
    Successes+1->Successes //increments the number of successes by one (for those unacquainted with calc programming, when there are no brackets the calculator only considers the line right after the If as part of the contained area.
    
    Count+1->Count //Whether or not a skull is received, the number of kills is incremented
    
    End //Ends the While Successes<3 loop (if Successes is not less than three, reruns until it is)
    
    Count->L[sub]1[/sub](R) //Stores the number of Wither Skeletons killed before three skulls were received in a list location corresponding to the current run.
    
    Output(4,10,” “)
    
    Output(4,10,Count”)
    
    Runs+1->Runs
    
    End // Ends the While Run/Trial loop. If Run is not to trials yet, will run entire thing again until it is.
    
    1-Var Stats L[sub]1[/sub]
    Note to experienced calc programmers: To make it more easily understandable, I added actual names to the variables based on their letter, and commented it up Java-style. To derive the original program, truncate all but the first letter of the variables and ignore the commenting.

    You probably didn’t understand that, so I’ll summarize what it does. It simulates the killing of a Wither Skeleton by giving a 1 in 40 chance of a “success”, and repeats that until 3 “successes” are achieved. It then stores the number of Wither Skeletons it took to get these three skulls in another location for further viewing, then runs again. I ran this program 999 times, simulating a random player going to get his three skulls 999 times. Here are my results:


    Mean: 119.4544545 (Shocker, only .5 off 120, which is the actual value)

    SD(X)=64.86644227 (There’s a decent chance you don’t know what this is, so I’ll explain it later)

    Min(X)=9 (In all 999 trials, the smallest number of Wither Skeletons killed to get all three skulls was 9)

    Max(X)=390 (In all 999 trials, the largest number of Wither Skeletons killed to get all three skulls was 390)

    So the mean was 119.45 Wither Skeleton kills needed. Don’t even try to tell me my math was wrong there now.

    But I already knew that. I’m more interested in the standard deviation. Now, the Central Limit Theorem would normally cause the combined results of trials to be normal, especially with a sample size of 999, but unfortunately np = 3, which is less than ten. That means the left side of the normal model will be cut off, causing a right skew. That means the standard deviation isn’t useful for far-reaching calculations, and the SD can’t be calculated by regular methods. But we already have an approximate SD from our trials, so that should be almost dead-on accurate for our purposes, especially since independence is a certainty. So what does a standard deviation of 64.866 mean? Well, it means that when you go one standard deviation out in both directions, you have contained just about 68% of all results. Here’s a little table so you can visual what I mean:



    But I said earlier that it can’t work quite as well in this case because np<10. We can still approximate, especially for the smaller sigmas. With a bit of math, we can find out that 1SD above the mean is 184.866, 2SD is 249.733, and 3SD is 314.599. With a bit more math, specifically, finding the area of everything else by taking (1-the other results)/2, we can find out the odds that a player might have to kill a certain number of Wither Skeletons to get his skulls.

    Here are the results:

    Odds that a player might have to kill above X Wither Skeletons to get all three skulls, according to the slightly-off normal model:

    X=184: 16%
    X=250: 2.5%
    X=315: .15%

    So that means 1 in 40 player will have to kill more than 250 Wither Skeletons to get their skulls. 3 in 2000 players (not unlikely at all considering the millions playing Minecraft) will have to kill more than 315, which is absolutely ridiculous. Some will have to kill more. If you’ve followed along with the math up to this point, you can do your own calculations as to how they might stretch out farther, but be warned that the normal model gets more and more inaccurate because np<10 as you go out farther. As I mentioned earlier, these might be a bit off because of the truncated normal model that causes a right skew. You can’t really call me out on that though, because what that would really mean is that for a manually placed normal model extending into the negatives the standard deviation would more than likely be even larger, meaning that unlucky players have to kill even more Wither Skeletons than is mentioned here. This of course means that many lucky players will have to kill somewhere on the range of 60 or less, but unlucky and lucky happen about the same amount of times, and with my way even the unlucky ones will be able to get it eventually with a bit of perseverance, unlike the obsession that would be needed if you wanted to get them just from Fotressses.So yes, some lucky players will be able to get enough materials to summon the Wither within an hour or so – it is really the same now. But do not even try to tell me any longer that needing to kill 120 is an extreme. It is the average, and needing to kill even half that would only happen to less than 1 in 5 players.

    But let’s take a different approach, because I’m spending a lot of time applying what I learned in Statistics, and this is kind of fun. The Geometric model is even better for our purposes than the normal model, and even easier to use. It gives us a different perspective on how crappy the current system is as well.

    So, if you have a TI graphing calculator, you can follow along. Hit 2nd Vars, then go to the very bottom, where it says geometcdf(. That is the geometric cumulative distribution frequency, which you probably don’t understand. What is does is calculates the chance of an occurrence happening by the time a certain number of trials have gone by. So click it, then type in into the parentheses .025,120).That spits out .952075909, right? What that number means is that there is a 95.2% chance of getting at least one skull by 120 trials (note the at least). While that seems decent, that leaves us 4.8% of people, after having killed 120 Wither Skeletons, wondering if the info they got off the wiki on drop rates was wrong. You can plug in other values instead of 120 to see the chances a person will have received a Wither Skeleton Skull by the time they have killed that many Wither Skeletons.

    But let’s remember that I’m not even suggesting a change of drop rate – I’m just suggesting that they are a bit easier to find, by moving them out of Nether Fotresses. Which means all this still applies even after my idea comes into play – all it means is that they will be easier to find, so you will be able to rack up these ridiculous amounts of kills.
    Q: How commonly would they spawn outside of fortresses?
    A: The same as they do now inside of fortresses. They won't spawn in groups like Zombie Pigmen, and are a bit rarer to begin with, so they still will be a bit hard to find, kind of like Endermen in the Overworld. I'm sure Jeb can mess around with the spawn rate to make it good.
    Q: Wouldn't this stop people from building bases in the Nether because a hostile mob could spawn in their base all it wanted? (Thanks to corinanth for bringing this up)
    A: Currently, Wither Skeletons have a limitation that they cannot spawn in a light level of 8 or greater (in addition to their only spawning in Nether Fortresses). This limitation will be maintained as they are moved out into the Nether. This means they will be able to spawn fairly near to Nether light sources like lava and glowstone (who emit a light level of 15), but it will be possible to light up a base enough that Wither Skeletons won't spawn. Thanks to Immibis for help with the technicalities of the lighting system!
    Q: Why do you have a supporters list?
    A: I think it is a good idea to have a semi-visual representation of the amount of support this idea has received. A supporters list is a good way to give a quick numerical summary of how many supporters this idea has, and the dropdown list of specific supporters allows people to see if their favorite critic/friend has supported. I don't require a +1 to be on the list because I don't feel you should have to give rep to me just to support this. I do appreciate reputation though, because I did spend a fair chunk of time assembling this idea to be informative and aesthetically appealing.
    Q: Oh come on, why don't you just use a Looting I/II/III sword?!
    A: The maximum level of Looting, Looting III, brings your chance of getting a skull up to 1 in 25. Which, for those of you who haven't done the multiplying, means you now need to kill an average of 75 wither skeletons instead of 120. Now, 45 is a hefty difference, but it still means a huge chunk of time to kill 75 Wither Skeletons. Even if it did bring it down to a reasonable number of Wither Skeletons needed to be killed, it still wouldn't fix the other problems, namely that there are no challenging ground-based hostile mobs in the Nether, and there is a hugely skewed content ratio between Nether Fortresses and the rest of the Nether. Mojang has an entire dimension to fill, and they choose to stuff about half of the content into one tiny building, the Nether Fortress. Moving Wither Skeletons out into the rest of the Nether would provide a hostile mob and a huge step towards fixing the content ratio of the Nether, even if it wasn't necessary to fix the time it take to get the 3 skulls, which it still is even if you are lucky enough to get a Looting III sword.
    Q: So, how can I help this become a reality?
    A: I'm glad you asked. There are a bunch of ways you can help this become part of the game:
    1. Support! It's as simple as pressing the rep button or posting "I support!", and every person who supports adds credibility and weight to the idea.
    2. Spread the word! You can do this by telling your friends on the forum, or using the banner. Like above, the more people who come to this topic to support, the better the chance Mojang will see what their players want and implement this.
    3. Check back! A great way to help out is to come back every once in a while and comment on additions and reply to people who aren't sure about whether they want to support. Following the topic is a great way to keep informed. Every post helps people make up their mind, and has the added benefit of bringing this back to the top of the page.
    4. Leave constructive ideas! Every improvement to this idea, whether it is to make the suggestion more appealing, more balanced, or just plain old more awesome, makes this a better suggestion, and therefore more likely to be implemented.
    5. Contact Mojang! You can PM or tweet any of the Mojang team (Jeb, Dinnerbone, Lydia Winters, and EvilSeph are here if you want to tweet them), and that way they can see the idea and know people like it! Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you spam their page. A lot of people contacting them would be great, but don't spam their PM inbox or twitter repeatedly. That is rude and does not help this suggestion become part of the game.
    Q: Why not just increase the spawn rate or drop rate of Wither Skeletons?
    A: Because that only fixes part of the problem. Yes, increasing the drop rate would work insofar as it fixes the problem of the Wither being incredibly hard to get, but it takes away some of the challenge of fighting all those Wither Skeletons. Increasing the spawn rate of Wither Skeletons would fix the problem as well, but there are still two huge problems the solution quite simply does not address. There is still no challenging hostile mob in the Nether. Ghasts take two arrows, and if you are in the nether you should certainly have arrows; Magma Cubes are so slow you can just ignore them, and don't put up much of a fight even if you don't; and Zombie Pigmen you can just ignore because they are neutral. Thus, moving the Wither Skeleton out would finally get that hostile mob into the Nether. The second thing that either solution does not fix is the incredibly skewed rate of content in the Nether. Almost half of the available features of the Nether, an entire dimension, are packed into a comparatively minuscule building. Why? There is no good reason, and moving Wither Skeletons out into the Nether would be a great step towards fixing the problem.
    Q: Why not give Wither Skeletons a building of their own?
    A: This solution is a bit better than the suggested solutions in the above Q&A in that it helps fixed the skewed content of the Nether and, if the spawn rate is high in the building, helps with the challenge of getting enough Skulls to summon the Wither. However, it still doesn't do everything that moving them out into the Nether does. Moving Wither Skeletons out into the Nether would get a challenging hostile ground mob into the Nether, something that people have been asking for for a long time. It would be a huge leap in finally making the Nether the terrifying, dangerous, and hellish place a dimension like the Nether should be. In addition, building an entirely new structure for Wither Skeletons would represent a lot of coding for the Mojang team. The change suggested here would probably take Mojang about 5 minutes or less to implement, as all they would have to do is remove specific spawning restrictions. So, moving Wither Skeletons out of Nether Fortresses fixes more problems and involves less work for the Mojang team, allowing them to focus on other features. It's a win-win!
    Q: I tried to use one of the banners, but it isn't working!
    A: First of all, thanks a bunch for helping out this idea by using a banner! Your problem might be a few things:
    1. Try highlighting what you copied and clicking the "Remove Formatting" button, which is the eraser one from the upper left. Sometimes formatting from copying the text over messes up the code.
    2. Make sure you copied the entire thing. If you missed anything in the box it may mess it up.
    3. Do you already have 2 images? Minecraft Forum signatures only allow 2 images in your signature at once. Try deleting one to make room. Additionally, you can only have 2 URLs (one is in the picture) and four lines of text. If you don't have enough space, see what you can get rid of to make room.
    Still isn't working after checking those three things? Follow this link, copy the text, and paste it straight into your signature. That should work better. If all of that doesn't work, PM me or post here and I'll help you out as soon as I can.
    Q: Hey, how do you have so many supporters? There aren't even as many comments as supporters!
    A: I didn't think this would become an issue, but it's been asked quite a bit recently. My system for creating the supporter's list is taking those who leave a positive comment as well as those who +1 the post. Obviously, some people post and don't +1 and some people +1 and don't post. The list is taken from both, eliminating any duplicates. Because apparently a lot of people +1 and don't post, I have more supporters than comments. I have nothing to hide here, so if anyone wants to comb through the list for fake names, feel free :P .
    More FAQs will be added as questions pop up repeatedly. If you have a question you want answered/think should be added, post with the question and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


    [size=large]Supporter's List[/size]
    You'll be added if you , or I happen to see a positive comment. For why, see the FAQ. [size=medium]
    [size=large]Current Supporters: 489'[/size][size=medium]][/size]
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    480. Aronthaer
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    483. Psycodragons
    484. VampArcher
    485. Mythrai
    486. iAnny
    487. Alexcamostyle
    488. CommanderDrenn
    489. SteveV
    If you see any duplicate names in this list, or if you said you wanted to support and haven't been put on the list please post to tell me! Sorry about the strange formatting. Every once in a while, the MCF software decides to insert blank lines between my numbered list, and it is impossible to add a space manually to match it. So, more recent entries will be closer together.



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  • 1

    posted a message on A couple questions about god interacting with the world
    Quote from Unyobro

    That book seems to be unrelated to my question. If it's not feel free to correct me and explain why in your own words.


    Your question: "If god does get involved with some peoples lives then why doesn't he help the starving and abused people around the world?"

    Amazon's description of what the book answers: “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?”

    That's almost a perfect restatement of your question. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to quote random passages to you. The book is a comprehensive answer to your question, and shooting random passages at you would defeat the point. Heck, the first review of the book explicitly states, "A "Cliff Notes" version of this book would miss the point". If you actually want an answer to your question, I've given you the best resource that probably exists. It's not a simple answer, nor is it one that will most likely be answered by a forum composed largely of atheists.

    But in response to MagicBush, you apparently expanded upon your question. " I am asking why he allows some to suffer in a living hell and die in misery while he supposedly helps people who are already pretty well off by comparison." I would just like to note that that is not what you originally asked, in bold, no less. Nevertheless, the book stills answers the question. Your next bold statement makes no sense, because all I can glean from it is that the book magically becomes on topic when we start quoting passages.

    Look, I don't mean to be pessimistic, nor rude. But there is a difference between seeking the answer to a question and posting an apparent contradict to be confirmed by like-minded people so you can revel in your perceived intellectual superiority. I'm not saying you should or have to read the book, but what I am saying is that if you truly seek the answer that book is your best chance at finding it. The man who wrote it was not only one of the best minds of his time, but also a former atheist.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 3

    posted a message on A couple questions about god interacting with the world
    I'm sincerely asking here, but why did you bother making an entirely new topic for this? It'll inevitably devolve into another religion circlejerk, when we already have a few active already, which is more than enough.

    If you actually want a comprehensive answer, I would suggest The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. I've never heard anyone explain it better than he.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 1

    posted a message on What Do People Mean By "The World's Colour Is Merely An Illusion"?
    Not that it's necessary a fact. Every single sense we have is merely the way our brains interpret the world, color included. If color is an illusion, so is literally every other sense you have. It's not an illusion so much as a perspective. Sure, color is just our brain interpreting different wavelengths of light, but hearing is just interpreting different wavelengths of sound.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 5

    posted a message on Grievances from PPNS Forum
    I figure I may as well drop in and throw my two cents into the discussion.

    I used to post more often; nowadays, less frequently. Perhaps I've become jaded, perhaps bored, but it seems to me the harsher moderation of late is somewhat necessary. People, and by that I mean regulars and newcomers alike, seem to resort to insults and thinly veiled flaming far more quickly, with less provocation. That fact that the regulars often sheathe their insults in good grammar and adequate vocabulary means nothing. It surprises me when I see people talking about their undeserved warnings, because I'm frankly surprised more haven't been handed out. As a quick example, I was surprised to see myself receiving my first formal infraction for content I had posted months ago. It was certainly a deserved infraction, and it wasn't pursued when I posted it, perhaps because it received a bit of rep. However, that seems to be indicative of an overall problem with PPNS - it's not exactly a secret that there is a heavy liberal slant, and even poor quality or outright flaming content gets either repped or just ignored when posted if it matches the circle jerk that happens to be going on at the time. Just because the majority of the forum agrees with you doesn't mean you don't deserve a warning for what you posted. People feel safe posting hateful and insulting messages because they know they will receive no backlash from the forum - but then are surprised when they receive backlash in the form of a deserved warning.

    It can be frustrating to see sections of a topic disappearing with no explanation, and perhaps that's something that warrants some discussion. That said, when I've pursued the reason why topics or sections of topics were removed, I've almost always found the moderators helpful and willing to explain. Only a few times have I felt a topic was removed (or moved) unjustly, and reasoned discussion always ended up working it out, one way or another. The mods I've talked to are always willing to listen - just because they don't agree with you doesn't mean they aren't doing their jobs right.
    Posted in: Forum Discussion & Info
  • 5

    posted a message on Creation/Evolution discussion
    Quote from SnyderGuy

    -snip-


    This post strikes me as rather... what's the word? Unforgiving, maybe, with a dash of intolerance and superiority.

    An understanding of science isn't built on memorizing random facts. Intelligence certainly isn't, by it's very definition. I have no trouble admitting that I would have probably been off by a few hundred thousand years on the inception of humans, although I knew the other questions by chance. And that's because first of all, two of those questions are absolutely ridiculous by nature. There is no set point that the earth was created. You really can't define it's creation by anything other than arbitrary boundaries. When did the clump of rocks that formed together become the earth? At half of it's current size? Three quarters? When it started stably orbiting the sun? When it developed a magnetic field? There's no way to objectively draw a definition. I could say 14 billion years ago at the Big Bang, because all the constituents of Earth were created then.

    Same concept with the "first humans". Humans evolved, as we know, from a long chain of processes that is still happening today. It strikes me as rather asinine to designate a specific person, or point in time, where the first human was born. It is impossible, by definition, for an individual to evolve. Only populations do. We can say the first humans appeared when they developed around the same quality of us as homo sapiens, but even that would only be drawing an arbitrary line in the dirt. Is it when skull structure matched to within certain tolerances? How about when our genetics matched to a certain degree? Maybe it's when the current humans would have been able to mate with this proto-human to produce fertile offspring. And that's the biological definition. But it's simply a convenient line we've drawn for ourselves to create a ranking system. Someone unversed in how we organize our species but with a perfect knowledge of the entire history of Earth would get that question "wrong", by your standards, because they don't know where we decided to draw our line in the dust.

    But more important than that, science isn't built on understanding random facts. I could quiz you on hundreds of questions, right now, that you wouldn't know the answer to without Googling first. Most of them have to do with ridiculously specific physics formulas we're going through right now, with a sprinkling of stuff from the college bio course I took last year. Does that mean you don't understand biology, because you can't remember how nerve signals reset after passing through, or that you are an idiot because you can't remember or don't know what a K constant is? Of course not. Even physicists look up formulas that they haven't used in a while. Biologists do background research before starting their own research. The students in your class, for example, could simply have not known the arbitrary fact that the universe is 14 billion years old. When you think about it, it's a rather useless piece of knowledge, even within a scientific context. Wouldn't it be far more useful to have a basic understanding of the Big Bang? Wouldn't it be far more useful to know how to think critically with the information you do have? That's why I find it ridiculous that you dismiss someone as an idiot because they didn't know the answers to three questions, two of which were rather asinine anyway.

    16 sextillion years isn't an awful guess. It sounds to me like they were thinking quite critically with the information they had: The universe is quite old, and it began an unimaginably long time ago. Sounds he like took the information available to him and picked a number that sounded reasonable. That, to me, is actually a more scientifically impressive answer than just memorizing a random fact and spitting it back out.


    In the context of young Calvin here, ask yourself which would be more impressive. Susie, sitting next to Calvin, spent all night studying the events leading up to the colonization of the New World, along with important people and a general chronological context. When faced with this question, she remembered that Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, and that because of political turmoil colonization didn't really begin until quite a bit later. Additionally, she remembered something about the pilgrims leaving because of religious persecution, which happened under Queen Elizabeth, who left power in 1603. With this information, she thought a reasonable guess would be 1610, because they didn't leave until a bit later.

    Calvin, on the other hand, glanced in his textbook a minute before class and memorized that fact by pure luck.

    Calvin got the question right. Susie got it wrong. But who really deserves the credit here? Who actually had the important knowledge? In the same way, it's almost irrelevant if you can memorize random facts about the age of earth, or the universe, or the human race. Having an understanding that you can draw from and analyze is far more important.

    OK, rant over. I suppose the final point is that I think you are judging your classmates quite harshly, especially since some of the ones you single out didn't seem to have that bad of a grasp. Additionally, your own understanding of some random facts you can regurgitate is not that impressive. I'm not defending the creationist, by the way.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 1

    posted a message on Police shoot 13 year old carrying toy AK47
    Quote from Xaanos

    The person seemed to be implying that it was illegal in all cases. The law simply states if you are going to it needs to follow these rules. By you saying not true in my reply to that it seemed like you were saying it was.


    OK, I was misunderstanding you. There are some restrictions, but it is by no means illegal to manufacture fake guns, so long as those restrictions are followed.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 1

    posted a message on I think I am slipping towards Atheism again
    Quote from Habanero

    That's a pretty unfair assumption to make. I know plenty of people on this subforum who would wholeheartedly disagree with his post, including me. It was extremely pretentious, arrogant, and ignorant as far as I'm concerned.


    I know many would disagree, but up until the point I posted not a single person had, whereas if, say, a Christian had posted this same thing (something to the effect of "look at my high IQ, therefore you're all stupid atheists"), there would have been around twenty new posts by the time I even found the bit.

    Again, this is just me expressing my annoyance at the one-sidedness of the forum in regards to certain issues. I have no problem with a large portion being atheist, but it does annoy me that many allow completely idiotic posts like that to stand. I have no evidence for my viewpoint beyond what I've seen when Christians do post similar statements, but I was half-serious when I said I was considering making an alternate account to detail reactions if I did post almost word for word restatements, but from the opposite side. I think it would be a fascinating experience.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 3

    posted a message on If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
    Quote from CosmicSpore

    -snip-



    Cosmic, I just want to point out that I think it's a great service you do combating the complacency of this forum towards any opinion that already matches the majority. The consensus generally seems to be that "if they agree with me, it doesn't matter if they used a logical fallacy to get there". This seems to especially apply with religion, as I see many people getting away with obvious and blatant strawmen, misrepresentations, or simple ad hominem. I wish I had the motivation to so thoroughly address so many.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
  • 4

    posted a message on If there's a God, why'd he create Satan?
    My question is, why do we need an entirely new topic every time someone thinks up of a "flaw" in religion? Seriously, we have a topic for this kind of thing already.
    Posted in: Politics, Philosophy, News and Science
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