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Tag Archives: epistemology
Or, as the New York Times put it today, “Incredible claims require incredible evidence.” The reference is to the mind-blowing (apparent) discovery that there are neutrinos that can outpace the speed of light. Here’s more from the New York Times: According … Continue reading
Very discouraging. I didn’t know that Ron Paul was on the anti-science dark side: . I think that this part of his comment is especially noxious and stupid: Well, first I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, … Continue reading
Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by “unhelpful.” If you think it’s plausible that the universe has an ultimate (good) meaning grounded in a Great Mind that preceded matter, then it becomes an existential question whether or not it … Continue reading
Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has written that one’s experience of God can be properly basic for the believer in the same way that, say, the hearing of a piece of music is properly basic for the hearer. It’s an experience … Continue reading
Critical Thinking Tip #5: Distinguish Between Conscious and Unconscious Rationality in Yourself and Others
The following are the opening five sentences to Bertrand Russell’s essay, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”, which was first published in the midst of World War II, in 1943, but then broadly distributed after the war: Man is a rational animal—so at … Continue reading
Thomas Jefferson once encountered a jaw-dropping claim. The claim that confronted Jefferson was from eyewitnesses who said that they had seen rocks fall from the sky. They even claimed to retrieve fragments from them. And here’s the kicker: the witnesses, under normal circumstances, … Continue reading
I don’t know about you, but I’m totally against dumbing down subjects or language use before my students. I believe, for example, that if the undergraduates sitting before me in a class have limited vocabularies (and they all invariably do), it’s … Continue reading
R. Gordon Wasson has been a long time advocate of a seductive hypothesis: that entheogens (psychedelic mushrooms, etc) have played a significant role in the evolution of many religions, from Hinduism in the East to Persephone devotion in the West … Continue reading
There’s a recent Jesus and Mo cartoon (you can see it here) that I disagree with. In the first frame Moses (or is it Muhammad?) is sitting at a bar with Jesus, and Mo says this to the barmaid: If … Continue reading
I like this pithy summary, by Sean Carroll, of what science is: Propose an idea, see where it leads, toss it out if it conflicts with the data, build on it if it seems promising. But what if your idea … Continue reading
When it comes right down to it, the tensions between science and biblical literalism boil down to epistemology: how do we go about knowing things, and when is it reasonable to say, “I know something”? In this, the scientist, in his or … Continue reading
On the question of whether the United States is headed for an inflationary period or a deflationary period, highly trained economists are divided. This today at the Economist: Last week, we launched our economics channel with a debate on whether inflation … Continue reading
One thing that the religious fundamentalist and the secular scientist agree on is this: what is actually true matters. Or, as they say on the X Files, “The truth is out there.” I’m not interested in denying that the world really … Continue reading
So according to the Times of London: Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope has said. Addressing a parish gathering in … Continue reading
Every other year or so I find myself returning to Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn’s critical thinking text, How to Think about Weird Things, and rereading the whole darn thing through again. Schick and Vaughn’s book is a rather popular college text, and it’s in its sixth edition. … Continue reading
In Dr. Seuss’s famous children’s book, Horton Hears a Who, an elephant equipped with giant elephant ears can hear the voices of very, very tiny “people” that really are there, lurking among the grasses. Others cannot hear them (because they … Continue reading
Abiogenesis (how life may have come from nonlife) continues to be a thorny problem for science, but ID people and creationists should be careful about running too quickly to the conclusion that the problem is insoluble. I was reminded of this … Continue reading
I would liken my agnosticism about God and the afterlife to someone who is agnostic about life on Mars. At this point in the 21st century, we have enticing Martian clues about methane on the planet, but nothing definitive (it could be … Continue reading