Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Guide to Skepticism for Non-Skeptics

One trait that humans all share when we are first brought into this world is our insatiable quest to understand what is going on in the world around us. Children ask repeated and often heartwarming questions which betray their innocence, almost following a non-systemic Socratic method. As we grow older, our beliefs become more fleshed out, our understanding of how the world functions becomes solidified in our learned minds. We stop asking questions, we know that certain natural laws govern, for instance, if you drop something it falls towards the Earth. In this essay, I want to introduce the non-skeptic to some basic principles of scientific skepticism. It should be abundantly clear from here that this is meant to be introductory, pushing towards further research on the part of the reader.

Before we can properly examine any premise, understand that your emotion towards any particular idea is irrelevant to whether it is "true" or not. For example, it doesn't matter if you are sad that gravity exists. Gravity just exists. Your emotions or feelings on the matter are irrelevant. Essentially what I am getting at is that there is an objective truth to any belief or premise. Our brains might process the world subjectively, but the medium world itself contains objective truths. This isn't to say that there are easy answers and that everything exists on a binary black-and-white scale, but its important to shed the idea that there is no objective truth to be gained from our universe and to end the concept of wedding our beliefs to our emotions.

Science is a great tool for understanding, because of its various methods of bias reduction and its razor-like ability to cut to the objective truth on any subject. I couldn't give a proper treatment of the scientific method here without greatly enlarging the scope of this essay, so I strongly encourage you to research the scientific method and the philosophy of science. Its also important to understand failures of reasoning, known as logical fallacies. When someone is trying to convince you of something, a good tool to figure out whether they have arrived at a belief or premise in error is to examine their reasoning for fallacious arguments. Its also important to minimize them with your own argumentation and reasoning. Once you understand the scientific method and logical fallacies, you can become a potent skeptic without even trying that hard or even needing to be a super intelligent person. Understanding how to think scientifically goes a lot further towards general understanding than rote memorization of scientific facts and again, doesn't require you to have an abnormally high level of intelligence.

In closing, I urge you to read. Read everything, all the time, even things you don't agree with, even fictional stories or merely for entertainment. As our society becomes increasingly more scientifically and technologically advanced, less and less people are reading and by doing such a simple action, you can set yourself ahead of an ever growing mass of unliterate people. I contend that actually reading the Bible is the easiest way to become an atheist, because the vast majority of people who call themselves Christian have never sat down and read the Bible on their own or have not had verses spoon-fed and interpreted for them. Reading fuels skepticism and is food for the brain.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bill Nye: The Science Guy - Pseudoscience (1996)

I think its going to be a good year for popular science promotion. Cosmos is being rebooted with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye is debating Ken Ham, and I'm sure there's much more to be had considering the year is just starting. This old Bill Nye: The Science Guy episode is a classic, still watchable and relevant.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kent Hovind vs Dr. Matthew Rainbow (Unknown)

So the laptop fund was successful, I've purchased a new laptop and I can begin updating again. So here we have another debate with the creationist felon Kent Hovind verses Dr. Matthew Rainbow. Rainbow has a lot of technical hiccups which takes away from the strength of his presentation, but shows a prodigious amount of patience for the creationist standpoint. He often takes the stance that God could be inserted into the process and denialism of an Old Earth simply doesn't match up with the evidence, but the two ideas are not mutually exclusive.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

MC Chris - Dungeon Master of Ceremonies (2008)

MC Chris has always been an old favorite of mine. I actually sat next to him one time at Bye & Bye on Alberta and overheard him talking to a group of people who were ignorant of who he was. Being a fan of D&D, I was always drawn to this album along with its heavily used nerd references. MC Chris is also an on-record atheist.

Dungeon Master of Ceremonies
  1. FTW – 2:09
  2. Blastic – 3:03
  3. Kingdom Farts – 3:45
  4. Segue (Skit) – 4:25
  5. Check the Ring, Yo – 4:17
  6. Wiid – 3:50
  7. Twelve Sided (Skit) – 2:09
  8. Townie – 3:27
  9. Pw/om – 3:39
  10. The Package (Skit) – 6:11
  11. omc – 3:09
  12. Arulpragasam – 3:33
  13. Smackababy (skit) – 1:29
  14. booties for breakfast (hidden track) – 2:43
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Eyes of Nye - Genetically Modified Foods (2012)

Really, the term Genetically Modified Food or Organism is a bit of a misnomer. Ever since the dawn of agriculture (even as hunter-gathers, unconsciously) we've been artificially selecting for traits that we found desirable in our food. Since the 1920s, we've taken control even further, "engineering" particular desirable traits. The term would be more scientifically accurate as "Genetically Engineered Organism". I've found that, usually, the most fervent anti-GE believers are usually the ones that don't understand the underlying science around the issue.

I usually upload the audio from videos I post—for those hungry iPods—but I feel like this one should be watched for full effect, so have at it and share with your friends.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lebanon Hanover - Tomb For Two (2013) 

I have to say, the first time I heard this duo I was instantly blown away. Haunting female vocals over drum machine, minimal synth backgrounds, modern coldwave at its very finest. This band captures what French coldwave was yet reinterprets it into something new and exciting. They're a German duo, married couple, and I read an interview with them saying they listen to nothing but Malaria! and Neue Deutsche Welle. Out of all of the current bands doing this sound, I dare say they are my favorite. 

(UPDATE: Hotfile has been shut down, which means I've lost all of my old uploaded files. I will probably just move on to another uploader and not attempt a time consuming re-upload)

Tomb For Two

1. Sadness Is Rebellion
2. Your Fork Moves
3. Stahlwerk
4. Hall Of Ice
5. Gallowdance
6. I Believe You Can Survive (Elegy For The Introvert)
7. Tomb For Two
8. Autofocus Has Ruined Quality
9. Midnight Creature
10. Invite Me To Your Country
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sean Faircloth - Can Religion Justify Bullying Children? (2012)

While sitting around the Thanksgiving table, the most loathsome activity that always comes up is the ritual "Thanksgiving Prayer" always lead by the most devout believer of the clan. I bite my tongue, usually stare straight forward with eyes wide open, taking note of who takes the ritual seriously and speculate which ones are the secret atheists going along with the ride for diplomacy's sake. I'm fine with sitting silently through the ritual as long as I don't have to bow my head, clasp my hands, and/or close my eyes. Since I have the capability to separate reality from fantasy play-land, I feel most offended for the children that have no choice and a limited ability to understand the world. Not only can they not refuse to participate, their squishy, sponge-like brains are being primed for a life of unquestioning servitude. Religion forced upon children is child abuse, a reality which has no proof for existing is being hoisted upon their minds. The guilt and shame of sexuality, the inferiority of women, all of the near-universal bigotry and falsehood of religion is shamelessly taught as "the virtue of faith".