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[reposted post]Какая полезная штука - ММОРПГ
reposted by peter_fromm
Наткнулся на статью о том, как в мире World of Warcraft в результате программной ошибки
(вернее, недочета дизайна) случилась масштабная эпидемия.

по следам этих событий было опубликовано несколько статей в серьезных медицинских журналах..

То есть на примере виртуальных миров где персонажами управляют реальные люди, можно моделировать крупномасштабные социальные явления. Для этого, правда, надо в игру заманить достаточное количество реальных людей. Но Blizzard это удалось.

А ведь, наверное, на персонажей компьютерной игры не распространяется Закон о персональных данных. Поэтому можно анализировать не только обезличенную статистику, но и траектории конкретных персонажей. С другой стороны, никакой информации о возрасте, образовании и прочем бэкграунде игрока, реально управлявшего персонажем, на сервере игры нет.

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несколько упоминаний из блогов - 2
Mark 14:51-52
Flight of Peter Fromm

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Martin Gardner (1914-2010)

Martin Gardner recently died. His writing is very uneven, but he has some gems. His best book-length work is his novel of ideas, The Flight of Peter Fromm (very under-appreciated); but his strength was in smaller works, where an occasionally Chestertonian wit sparks through. He will be missed; he was that rare creature, the genuinely excellent popularizer.

I can't say I was very influenced by him, but, as I said, I liked The Flight of Peter Fromm, and Gardner happens to be where I first read about Raymond Lull.
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Friday, July 29, 2011


And for the Roman Church he always retained the same double attitude he had for Chesterton. He could say of both what Robert Browning said about the Catholic Church in his poem Christmas Eve:

I see the error; but above
The scope of error, see the love.

It is a feeling I cannot share. Where Peter finds an inner core of truth, I find only superstition. H. G. Wells, in Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island, hit on the perfect metaphor. The Roman Church is like a prehistoric megatherium, a grotesque, gigantic sloth that somehow managed to survive extinction. It crawls clumsily around the world, getting in everybody's way, refusing to die.

Homer Wilson, in Martin Gardner's The Flight of Peter Fromm, Prometheus (Amherst, NY: 1994), pp. 82-83. I've said before that Martin Gardner's novel of ideas is underappreciated, and have no difficulty saying it again: it really should be more widely read. Part of it is that the psychology of the characters is done very well; the narrator of the book, the same Homer Wilson, who says the above, is simultaneously perceptive and flawed, and although Gardner, as far as I am aware, had very little use for the Catholic Church, his attitude to Chesterton was very much closer to Peter's double attitude than Homer's dismissal. Gardner likely expects us to learn something about the limits of the character from the fact that he treats megatherium as automatically an insult on the basis of Wells's work, just as he expects us to learn something from Homer's excessive devotion to Freudian explanations.

The reference to Mr Blettsworthy on Rampole Island is interesting, and perhaps also suggests something, although I haven't really thought it through and would hesitate to do so without having the book in hand to compare. It's one of H. G. Wells's later (1928), and therefore less known, works, and is fairly difficult to find. The protagonist ends up on an island of cannibals and tries to teach them a rational and progressive view of the world; there are megatheria, too, of course. It's a dystopic allegory about civilization itself (Wells himself called it a caricature of the whole human world), and is often treated as being in the same general class of stories as the more popular The Island of Doctor Moreau, which has a certain amount of plausibility, although it seems to me that it requires some fairly generous principles of classification. There's a certain sort of ambiguity to the lesson, though, in that it turns out both that the protagonist is subject to psychotic delusional episodes and that Europe in the Great War is subject to real horrors quite as bad as delusional ones. There's a lot of subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) religious imagery in the book, but this is true of much of Wells's science fiction, and it is often difficult to pin down exactly what its function is in any given case. In any case, the megatheria of Rampole Island are in the story symbols of what all institutions everywhere always eventually become if they do not die: ominously slow-moving, fantastically long-lasting, oblivious to most of the world, infested with parasites, the objects of strange devotions and taboos.
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Solipsism and Gratitude

Heather MacDonald has a post at "Secular Right" on what she calls the solipsism of faith:

Still, it is always puzzling to me how believers can attribute their escape from calamity to God’s protection without feeling compelled to explain why God did not extend that protection to other people not clearly less deserving than themselves. If God was capable of working a “miracle” to prevent you from death by tornado in Missouri or Alabama, why didn’t he work that same miracle to save your neighbors? (We will leave aside the added puzzle of why God would allow the natural cataclysm to proceed in the first place and confine himself to piecemeal, after-the-fact efforts to mitigate its effects for a select number of survivors.) The implication of attributing one’s own good fortune amid a wave of misfortune to God is inescapable: God cared for me more than for the deceased victims. Yet only rarely does this implication seem to break through into a believer’s consciousness.

I think this response gets both the implications and the psychology quite wrong. There is no particular a priori reason why God would do exactly the same thing for everybody, and it doesn't follow from thanking God for saving one from calamity either that God did nothing for the unfortunate neighbors or that God cared for the fortunate person more -- indeed, as old-fashioned Baptist preachers are sometimes fond of reminding their congregations, it could very well have been the exact opposite: as one preacher I know put it (I paraphrase), God may have saved you rather than them because you need more time and help to escape from hell than they do. Only the good die young, as the saying goes! MacDonald's 'inescapable implication', far from being inescapable, isn't really even implied without making a number of obviously debatable assumptions. MacDonald's implication, in other words, is really based on her own idea of What God Would Do, and the assumption that everyone else has this idea, too; a problematic assumption given that MacDonald is an atheist with a long history of not exactly having a complete sympathy with theists.

But, more importantly, I think she is clearly misreading the psychology of the situation. It is a natural human response, on having survived a great catastrophe, to feel grateful for it. And it's important to note that this is true regardless of whether one has anyone to whom one can be grateful. Martin Gardner has an excellent and underappreciated philosophical novel, The Flight of Peter Fromm, in which this is a secondary theme: gratitude is a very human response, even in situations where there is no human agent responsible; it's a common, although not universal, accompaniment of relief. If you're a theist, you'll feel grateful to God, as the most obvious higher-order agent to whom it could be attributed; if you're an atheist or agnostic (or perhaps a deist who doesn't believe God intervenes, as Gardner was), it might just be a strange sense of gratitude to no one in particular. And it does seem strange to be grateful yet to no one in particular, but there's nothing irrational about it, because gratitude is the human response in which we feel more than merely relieved, and this can be appropriate whether one has anyone to be grateful to or not. The feeling comes first, and sometimes demands expression.

People in general, however religious, tend to be rather agnostic about what they can know about God's purposes; that doesn't change the fact that they feel grateful to have survived, nor does it change the fact that the force of relief can demand that this gratitude be expressed. And the associated feelings don't have any particular connection with each other: you can be grateful for having survived while sad for those who didn't; you can be grateful for emerging unscathed even while bewildered as to why others didn't; you can be grateful for having lived even while anguished that others didn't; you can be grateful and relieved that you got through and feel bad for feeling grateful and relieved. The two sides simply come apart because they have no necessary connection.

Thus there's no particular reason why one should feel compelled to explain the difference -- one might try, in order to satisfy one's curiosity, or in order to relieve one's anguish or guilt, but there's nothing that positively demands that one do so. It's entirely possible just not to know, and even to believe that one can't know; the motivation for expressing a thank-God will still be there, utterly unaffected by one's agnosticism about God's mysterious ways. This is not the solipsism of faith or of anything else; it's simply a case where motivation does not depend on what one knows or what one doesn't, and where (what is more) the rationality of the motivation doesn't depend on what one knows or what one doesn't.
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несколько упоминаний из блогов
Mark 14:51-52

The Flight Of Peter Fromm

's review
Aug 17, 12

5 of 5 stars false
bookshelves: novel
Read from July 22 to August 16, 2012

This book tells the story of Peter Fromm, a seminary student, who starts out as a teenage (boy wonder) Pentecostal fundamentalist preacher and then decides to attend a liberal seminary (University of Chicago). Consequently his beliefs begin to move incrementally in a liberal direction. Peter explores, adopts and gradually tires of numerous theologies along his path of changing beliefs. Each step along the way Peter studies and ponders with deep emotional feelings the various religious, philosophical, and scientific ideas. In general theses steps include the theory of evolution, German higher criticism, Roman Catholicism, Karl Barth/neo-orthodoxy, Paul Tillich/Richard Niebuhr/situation ethics, Communism, military service, historical biblical criticism, secular humanism, atonement theory and atheism. Peter's personality is described as follows:
"... he had one rare, refreshing trait, a constitutional inability to accept any form of intellectual evasion."(9)
The story is narrated by a mentor professor/preacher who virtually adopts Peter during his years at the seminary as an extended member of his family. The professor is a Unitarian minister, but in private conversations admits that he doesn't believe there is a God. Early in the book the professor explains the demands on his profession as,
"To be a Protestant minister today, in the typical church of a prosperous suburb, one must be as skilled as a politician in the rhetoric of ambiguity, circumlocution, and double-talk." (9)
The problem for Peter near the end of the book is that he has finally arrived at the end of his studies with a PhD in theology, and he now has to face the prospect of entering a profession where he will be expected to deliver a weekly sermon to a church congregation.
"I feel the way young Barth must have felt...The good people of my flock will be sitting there, looking up, expecting me--expecting me!--to talk to them about God, to tell them what they should believe and what they ought to do. How can I do that when I don't know myself what to believe or do?" (207)
His professor/mentor explains his choice.
"...you have to choose between being a truthful traitor or a loyal liar." (208)
Peter has arrived at a point where intellectually he's a secular humanist but he still possesses remnants of the former Pentecostal within his heart. These dissident feelings lead to a climatic ending where he experiences a psychotic break while delivering an Easter sermon (or maybe it's an ecstatic spiritual experience; it would make a heck of a movie scene).

The book ends after Peter has recovered from his climatic break with a conversation between him and his professor friend about faith. Peter says,
"Faith is Quixotic. Faith is absurd. Who can pretend to understand it? There's a deep mystery about it. It's tied up with the enigmas of God and free will, with the incredible fact that a world exists and we're in it and we know we're in it and we know we'll soon not be in it. Faith is a kind of madness. I don't deny it. I can't explain why I believe. I only know I can't not believe." (271)
The professor says he believes that Peter is evading all the dilemmas of theism by calling them mysteries. Peter answers,
"I don't think it's evasion. It's just an honest confession of ignorance. Thinking about anything has to end finally in mystery. And why not? After all, we didn't make the world any more than the jellyfish did." (272)
I have given the book five stars because I admire the skill of the author to explore this subject in such depth in a readable novel. However, this book isn't for everybody. People who haven't passed through a similar faith journey will find the book to be nonsensical. This book is a novel, however it is set within a real historical setting with many references (sometimes including page numbers) to real theological literature and their authors. As such this book is more about theology that it is fictional literature. But of course, I know there are many of you readers out there who consider those two as being the same thing.

Wikipedia has an interesting article about Martin Gardner, the author of this book. He is known primarily as a mathematician who was a long time contributor to Scientific American magazine.

The following cartoon has nothing to do with this book. It just happens to be my favorite thological cartoon, and I'm using this book review as an excuse to share it.
A Theological Question
Perhaps Calvin will grow up to be another Peter Fromm.н

(no subject)
Mark 14:51-52
Это первая запись в журнале, который создан для постепенного выкладывания русского перевода книги Мартина Гарднера "The Flight of Peter Fromm".