Daily Archives: Tuesday, 22:00, August 3, 2010
Here are a couple of pithy ones from Aristotle’s teacher, the star pupil of Socrates and the originator of the Atlantis myth as written in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
The first quote I find especially relevant to those who reject the metaphorical light of science and knowledge, those who fear facts and wish to discredit the fact-finders and remain in the darkness of ignorance, and who often try to get others to fear as do they, by duress or by trickery.
The second concerns the reason that we skeptics have such a problem with letting charlatanry and false claims go without exposure and criticism, though I take the use of the word ‘soul’ to mean a person, rather than a metaphysical spiritual essence that survives death the way many religionists often use the term. Uncritical acceptance of false claims has serious consequences to those who hold them as revealed, unchanging Fact.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
One of the longest-running scams in the history of invention and technology are claims of ‘perpetual motion,’ ‘reduced-energy’ or ‘free-energy’ machines which either are alleged to never to run down or to put out more energy than they consume, getting something for nothing, or perhaps their inventors even claim that they use cold fusion, permanent magnets, or ‘zero-point’ energy using the Casimir effect or somesuch.
Notwithstanding the fact that these devices violate the fundamental Laws of Thermodynamics, and for the last, the fact that it would take a Casimir generator of enormous size to power even a lightbulb, the failure of these devices to pan out, or the lack of successful demonstrations of them to the scrutiny of skeptical observers has never stopped their builders from seeking investors in them for “further development and research” with promises of results being ‘just around the corner.’
Nor has the consistent failure of such machines to work as claimed ever stopped people from trying out new ideas, or ‘improving’ on old ones, and it looks to me that the popularity of the idea will continue for some time. It seems that the very curiosity that makes us proficient in science can also be turned to pseudoscientific ends as well…
And so today’s question is: