Category Archives: 3QD essays

3QD: The Monas Hieroglyphica, Feynman Diagrams, And The Voynich Manuscript

One of the strangest books to come out of Europe in the sixteenth century – and that is saying a lot – is John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica (1564). Dee was an English mathematician, court astrologer, diplomat, and spy. He was … Continue reading

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3QD: A Dialogue on Politics as Game

Bill: Can you believe these Republicans?! Just four years after swearing up and down that no nominee for the Supreme Court should ever be approved in an election year for the president, and promising on their mothers’ graves that they … Continue reading

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3QD: The Tale of the Eloi and the Morlocks

H. G. Wells’ novella, The Time Machine, traces the evolutionary results of a severely unequal society. The Traveller journeys not just to the year 2000 or 5000, but all the way to the year 802,701, where he witnesses the long-term evolutionary … Continue reading

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3QD: Too many books

It is commonplace to observe just how marvelous books are. Some person, perhaps from long ago, makes inky marks onto processed pulp from old trees. The ensuing artifact is tossed from hand to hand, carrying its cargo of characters, plots, … Continue reading

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3QD: Why materialism is false

Materialism is the view that everything that exists is made of matter. What’s matter? It’s hard to say with both precision and completeness, but it can’t be far off to think of matter as whatever can engage causally with the … Continue reading

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3QD: Protective Living Communities

By 2025, protective living communities (PLCs) had started to form. The earliest PLCs, such as New Promise and New New Babylon, based themselves on rationalist doctrines: decisions informed by best available science, and either utilitarian ethics or Rawlsian principles of … Continue reading

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3QD: What’s in your beetle box?

…But the problem with sense data is that they don’t exist. Here are a couple of reasons for being suspicious of them. First, there isn’t any empirical evidence of them whatsoever, apart from our thinking that they exist. (This is … Continue reading

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3QD: Living in Bubbles

A crisis, by definition, has dramatic effects. It changes how we behave, where wealth goes, what policies we enact, and what we hope. But it also can bring into higher relief features of our lives that have not changed, but … Continue reading

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3QD: Freedom and determinism – what we can learn from the failures of two pretty good arguments

The “Consequence Argument” is a powerful argument for the conclusion that, if determinism is true, then we have no control over what we do or will do. The argument is straightforward and simple (as given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy): … Continue reading

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3QD: Our very own annus mirabilis

This isn’t the first time universities have shut down from fear of pestilence. In 1665, “it pleased the Almighty God in his just severity to visit this towne of Cambridge with the plague of pestilence”, and Cambridge University was closed. … Continue reading

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3QD: Thoughts on Killing a Dog

Last week we had our dog put down. It was time. She was getting old and facing some serious neurological difficulties. The tipping point was a pair of severe seizures in the middle of the night, spaced about a minute … Continue reading

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3QD: Reflections on It-ing and Thou-ing

We find ourselves always in the middle of an experience. But it’s what we do next – how we characterize the experience – that lays down a host of important and almost subterranean conditions. Am I sitting in a chair, … Continue reading

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3QD: Conversation with a Genie

Essay here.

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Back to 3QuarksDaily

After a bit of a break, I’m going to resume contributing monthly essays at 3QuarksDaily. The first essay is now up, alongside the fascinating essays, poems, and insights from the other contributors. How To Be Kind “There’s only one rule … Continue reading

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The 3QD experience

I’ve contributed essays to the aggregator site 3quarksdaily.com for two years, and have just decided to bring that relationship to a close. Nothing went wrong – no falling out, no throwing of lamps, no screaming fits of “I just don’t love you … Continue reading

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