## Archive for the ‘Skepticism’ Category

### Blatant Huckster is Blatant

You might think that a moderator should not, when introducing the parameters of a supposedly intellectual debate on the existence of the so-called Kerishten deity, first plug his own book, and then go on to offer the audience a magazine subscription, and then try and whore out religious pamphlets to college students. Within the first two minutes.

Watching this debate between Christopher Hitchens and various religious-clerics-or-whatever still has some merit, though, if only to watch Hitchens interject mercilessly in between some pretty weak sauce apologia. Which is entertaining every now and again.

### The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading anything written by the late physicist Richard Feynman (read this if you have ten bucks and a few hours to spare), you should definitely watch this video. Es muy interesante:

### Crackergate

I know the laws of the Blogoverse dictate that I’m supposed to feign unwillingness before kowtowing unabashedly to a popular controversy–citing, I dunno, journalistic integrity and civic duty? Sadly, I am no such hero. Because I just found this whole episode freakin’ funny. It provided many lulz, many in disbelief, most in hilarity.

Obligatory summary: Scienceblogger P.Z. Myers threatens a cracker. Turmoil ensues. Cracker gets poked with a nail. Epic anti-climax.

Survivors of the massacre

But this thing isn’t just crackers and circuses (see what I did there?). Yes, here’s where I pretentiously tell detractors of the kerfuffle that they don’t understand its subtleties. No, not really. But know that I’m thinking it. And feel scorned, won’t you please, in the process.

Seriously, though, (no not really) the only blameless people in this whole situation are those teasing P.Z. for claiming not to care about the cracker while devoting multiple posts to it. They haven’t yet figured out, poor souls, that web pages can be generated seamlessly via online user interfaces in mere minutes, and need not be coded painstakingly by hand in HTML anymore. And for that they deserve our collective pity. And a free Geocities account.

On a more important note, I get to leave work twenty minutes early today. Who’s jealous?

### Wow, They Can Disagree

First I learn from Tyler DiPietro that DaveScot (also lovingly referred to as “DaveTard”) managed to utter something reasonable for once in his life.

Then I go searching on Uncommon Descent and find DaveScot actually arguing (however placidly) with the Uncommonly Dense over the connection (or more accurately, lack thereof) between natural selection and Nazism.

### More on Scientific Theories

In the prelude to his quantum mechanics textbook Principles of Quantum Mechanics, R. Shankar describes several features of the progression from older scientific theories to newer ones, and how the older ones are related to the newer ones:

• There is a domain $D_n$ of phenomena described by the new theory and a sub-domain $D_0$ wherein the old theory is reliable (to a given accuracy).
• Within the sub-domain $D_0$ either theory may be used to make quantitative predictions. It might often be more expedient to employ the old theory.
• In additional to numerical accuracy, the new theory often brings about radical conceptual changes. Being of a qualitative nature, these will have a bearing on all of $D_n$.

This is a nice way of thinking about it, I think.

### Logic: You’re Doing It Wrong

Mark Chu-Carroll, over at one of my favorite blogs, Good Math, Bad Math, writes about the discussion over Expelled::

…what strikes me is that we haven’t paid enough attention to something even more important than whether or not there’s a link between Darwin’s theory of evolution and the nazis.

Suppose that it was true that Darwin’s writings about evolution were the primary thing that motivated the Nazi’s genocide against the Jews, the Romany, and all the other “undesirables” that they killed. Forget, for a moment, that the linkage is a crock. Pretend that it’s the truth.

What difference does it make?

Does the truth become less true because some idiot used it to justify something awful?

### Scientifically Proven

In what may be the stupidest attempt at research using the Internet in history, I decided earlier today to google around and try and find the origins of the phrase “scientifically proven”. Yes, I hear you guffawing.

What I found instead were scientifically proven aromatherapy remedies, hangover remedies, fitness remedies, alternative “medicines”, anti-vaccination testimonies, baldness remedies, cosmetics, “junk” (i.e. boob, vag, and schlong) enhancers, and a BBC story on the hue of Jesus’ skin. I can has masochism?