Tag Archives: reason

Stephen Barr on God and Science

Below is a talk by Stephen Barr, a Catholic and physicist who teaches at the University of Delaware. He has thought a lot about the relationship of science to religion, and his views are interesting. He also has an excellent book … Continue reading

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A Film That Appears To Be Worth Seeing

This looks good and has gotten a lot of recent attention and critical acclaim. It has also generated controversy. It opens in New York and Los Angeles May 24, 2013. Directed by Rasha Burshtein, an Orthodox Jewish woman who lives … Continue reading

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10 Questions to Ask Before You Believe Something

How well does a belief that you currently subscribe to hold up under these ten questions? And wouldn’t it be nice if we all asked such questions before professing belief in something? Do I have any actual evidence for the thing … Continue reading

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This Book Sounds Good

Are we really rational in our decision making? Harvard professor Francesca Gino talks about her new book, Sidetracked:

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Why Global Warming is True: Converging Lines of Evidence

The below video provides a wonderful example of how you can increase the confidence of your conclusions through converging lines of evidence. The chart at the end of the clip is quite simply stunning. __________ We know the earth is … Continue reading

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The End of Faith Through Critical Thinking

Here’s the Pew polling numbers on God belief: __________ And here’s University of Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne’s tart take on what the numbers tell us: [P]racticing science erodes one’s religious belief. Sounds right to me. Critical thinking on weekdays and … Continue reading

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Doubt Concerning Ultimate Claims

If someone is making a claim about the ultimate origin of things, and you doubt the claim, you might bring up Herbert Spencer. Spencer was a 19th century philosopher and popularizer of Charles Darwin’s ideas, and for Spencer, beneath all … Continue reading

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Persuasion Beneath the Radar

I find it interesting that the below video promotes manipulation of people as ethical. At no point is one advised to reason with vulnerability and openness; to provide people with more than one side of an argument; or to rely on … Continue reading

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Yes, Global Warming Continues Apace

The three charts below, from Discovery News, debunk the recent meme being circulated by right-wing entertainment outlets that global warming has stalled. The first chart shows how the data gets cherry picked by Drudge et. al. so that recent peaks … Continue reading

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Thinking and Apocalypse: Heuristic (Shorthand) Thinking vs. Critical Thinking. Should We Be Optimistic About Our Future?

Given the paucity of sustained critical thinking in our culture, science writer K. C. Cole reflects on our prospects for collective survival in a recent (and I think important) review at the Los Angeles Review of Books: No one in … Continue reading

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Hercules, Strangled Snakes, Nate Silver, and Karl Rove

In 1860, Thomas Henry Huxley wrote an essay titled, “The Origin of Species,” and a sentence from it seems apt to what happened last night with Barack Obama’s reelection: Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the … Continue reading

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Is the Privately Financed Mars Mission for 2022 a Colonizing Mission or a Suicide Mission?

Not to be impolite, but this video strikes me as flim-flam. Perhaps it is being used at fund-raisers to coax seed money from gullible wealthy donors. Watch the video and see if you agree with me. __________ Why do I … Continue reading

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In Praise of Doubt, Not Faith

Physicist Neil Turok: I think that if science is to overcome the disconnection with society, it needs to be better able to explain science’s greatest lesson: that for the purpose of advancing our knowledge, it is extremely important to doubt … Continue reading

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How Science is Like a Dating Website

What is science? Here’s my definition: Concerning the past and present, science seeks to match the most coherent, simple, and plausible theories to the existing evidence; with regard to the future, it attempts to match predictions to evidence. Put more … Continue reading

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Evolutionary Psychology Watch: Why Do People Tend to Like Honey and Fear Spiders?

According to Heather Pringle, maybe, with regard to honey, it’s because it played a role in our evolution: In a recent paper, Alyssa Crittenden, an anthropologist and behavioral ecologist, at the University of Nevada, points out that wild honey is one … Continue reading

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Atheists Out of the Closet: Speaking Truth to Hypocritical Religion at the Democratic Convention

I find this life affirming. At the Democratic Convention yesterday, secular people acted up and got off script, shouting no to making inane references to “God” (whatever that ultimately means) in politics. Naturally, the Republicans pounced and demagogued the moment. But what … Continue reading

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Lyric and Song: Why Simple Reasons, However Incoherent or Decontextualized, are Effective Persuaders

I have a theory about explanation, and why bad explanations so frequently trump good explanations. Good explanations (that is, explanations that are true) often do not accord with what we want to believe is true. Therefore, when evaluating a successful … Continue reading

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Bill Nye Frets Over Evolution Denial

___________ Why is the above video so compelling? I’d say it has primarily to do with his manner of speaking about evolution: Bill Nye the Science Guy, a man beloved by children and parents alike, is pained, bewildered, and disappointed–and … Continue reading

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Give George Orwell a Statue Near BBC Headquarters

The exact site has yet to be settled on, but this is in the Telegraph today (quoting the artist commissioned to make the statue): George Orwell is regarded as something of a patron saint of political journalism so his presence … Continue reading

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Want to Think Clearly and Creatively?

Get some sleep. This today at the Daily Beast: When a person lies down to sleep at night, the brain undergoes a process that is crucial to learning, memory, and performance in ways that scientists are only now beginning to … Continue reading

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