Having “Faith” In Science

The topic of “faith” in regards to (particularly atheists’) “devotion” to the scientific method (and the institution of science generally) seems to be recurring at more regular intervals of late…

It was raised on several occasions in last weeks’ HIV/AIDS posts here and here, and this article at Wired (Artist Builds Temple of Science) makes the “science as religion” accusation tangible.

So why does this way of viewing science persist? In my opinion it stems primarily from peoples’ lack of awareness as to how science is “done.” It is not obvious to people that a free-market of ideas is going on in science — for grant money, for status, for fame — just as in any other field, scientists are working to be the “first,” they often treat other scientists as foes and are competitive even among those with whom they are in agreement… there is no monolithic “science”… it is a profession whose participants have many distinct personalities, ethics, motivations, desires, etc…

But from the perspective of regular people (non-experts, non-professionals) it is difficult to know where to put one’s trust — especially with all the competition and non-aligning motivations that crowd science. Meanwhile the language and ideas of the professionals have become so specialized (and will only become moreso over time) that even those who wish to untangle the “truth” can become hopelessly lost without the guide of a PhD. In other words, the folks who believe science may know no more about a given topic than folks who believe their religion, and furthermore, sometimes “science” just gets things wrong. Continue reading

Report: 60 Million People You’d Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy

(reposted from: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/report_60_million_people_youd?utm_source=onion_rss_daily)

BOSTON—According to an eye-opening report released Tuesday, 60 million people whom you would never talk to, would never be in a position to talk to, and wouldn’t even be able to talk to if you tried will be voting for the other candidate in this year’s presidential election, and there is nothing you can do about it.
The 110-page document reveals that these strangers share a fundamental vision of our nation’s future, a vision that shockingly runs completely counter to your own and is furthermore embodied by the candidate whom you could not in a million years fathom being the leader of the free world. Even more frightening, the report says, is that their votes count just as much as yours.

Just by looking at them, it’s clear to you that your guy is the only sane choice. Continue reading

Spinning Christ

I hope that even Christians can see this video as the wonderful political satire that it is…

Sunday Funny #11: Hamas TV… for Kids!

Common Sense Science

You know what you really want in good science, you want it to stop getting complex as soon as it begins to be confusing to any typically insightful, average human being with a moderate education and intellect… If science says something that appears contrary to experience… oh… I don’t know, something like: “The sun does not rise and fall, it simply appears to” — then science needs to back off so regular folk can go on being comfortable in their modicum of understanding.

And that is why I am so happy for “Common Sense Science.” Finally there is science that I can “get” without having to exert any effort or work to understand! And it must be true, because it is so simple! (that’s Occam’s Razor right?! — but don’t ask me who Occam was or what it means)… Continue reading

D’Singenuous D’Souza

I have to admit I only learned about George Obama — Barrack Obama’s half-brother currently living in Nairobi, Kenya under, it seems, rather poor conditions — from Dinesh D’Souza’s blog.  This CNN clip will give you some background.

Apparently, the situation has left D’Souza aghast:

Here is a guy living in Third World destitution and his half-brother is the leading candidate to become the next president of the United States! How can we be blind to this national disgrace? Continue reading

Oh Those Cute, Misinformed Fox Viewers

This graph from ars technica demonstrates the warping power of Fox “News” on… er… reality:

This sort of misinformation isn’t hypothetical; in 2003 a study found that viewers of Fox News were significantly more misinformed about the Iraq war, with far greater percentages of viewers erroneously believing that Iraq possessed WMDs or that there was a credible link between the 9/11 attack and Saddam Hussein than those who got their news from other outlets like NPR and PBS. This has led to the rise of websites like FactCheck andSourceWatch.

The Dangers of Underage Religioning

What is worrying to me is that this sort of abuse (see below) is not only physical, but emotional and mental… and it is thosee latter types of abuse that are so much more difficult to detect…

Reposted from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080925/od_nm/us_ceremonyodd_1)

Muslim sentenced for religious ceremony “cruelty”

Thu Sep 25, 12:55 PM ET
LONDON (Reuters) – A Muslim, convicted of child cruelty after encouraging two boys to flail themselves during a religious ceremony, was given a 26-week suspended jail term on Wednesday.

Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, of Eccles,Manchester, had pushed the boys into whipping themselves with chains fitted with curved blades at the ends during an annual Shia Muslim ceremony.

The boys, aged 13 and 15, needed hospital treatment after their mother found them suffering from several deep wounds on their backs and multiple slash wounds. Continue reading