English: The Skeptics Guide crew at TAM 9 Las Vegas 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
G’day, and happy Caturday. This week was a busy one, and it will be likewise for the next several. I apologize for being a bit slow on posting, but there was a lot going on, and this Monday, I’ve my monthly doctor’s appointment, so my posting schedule is a bit uncertain. I’ll try to get Monday’s post on the Algorithm done, and for this blog, the Weekly Roundup on Sunday.
I’ve done a bit of work on Twitter, and will be updating my lists soon, then beginning the creation and building of new ones. I was looking at those I subscribe to, and was a little surprised to see some that a late friend of mine, the former blogger formerly known as Skeptic Cat, had set up when I followed him on Twitter. Though the links of those lists are dead, as his account no longer exists.
It felt a little odd to see those lists in the column, considering that his account was deleted before 2011, but it also brought back good memories of our exchanges then. I’ll never forget that, not as long as I can help it. “Say what you will about ___, he was always very good to cats,” is a paraphrase of something he had said, spoken of someone else, but true for him as well.
Since he quit blogging, and given the current conflicts in the skeptical community (such as that is) I’ll admit my interest in posting on mainly skeptical topic matter has declined, though I’m trying to revive that. When I first self-identified as a skeptic (I still do, BTW, proudly,) I decided that the best way to be truly skeptical was to have a realistic view of, as well as all other things, skepticism and skeptics themselves.
That means that I knew from the start that lionizing prominent skeptics was a fool’s errand, that even those I admired should be seen as they are, or as they were, warts and all, as real people, never put on a pedestal or in any way hero-worshipped. That philosophy has served me well, and has, despite the current conflicts among rationalists, as allowed me to maintain my self-identity as a skeptic, rather than quitting in disgust, or burning out completely.
I never thought I was going to change the world, and I haven’t, but I’ve certainly met people who’ve changed me, and I thank them to the extent those changes have been positive. The rest I thank for showing me something new and…interesting about human behavior. The same applies to my atheistic and humanist views.
None shall be sacralized or worshipped, not people, not science, not rationalism, not any set of ideas or philosophy. All ideas are to be provisionally open to question in light of better information and arguments. Nor is that subject to sacralization either, merely the best and most reliable path to knowledge I’m aware of.
I’d rather hold the ideas I do with an optimistic yet realistic perspective: Any idea should only be valued to the extent that it actually works to achieve what it is intended to, and to the extent it may be shown not just useful, but true, and none should be held absolutely. That’s worked out well so far. I think that we really can know things with confidence, only not absolutely, and I do not fully understand the need for some that all of their claims to real knowledge be absolutely certain or rest on some ultimate authority. To me, for contingent matters of fact, that’s silly, nihilistic, and a waste of brainpower chasing mythical shadows that can never be caught. I’ve little need of or respect for ultimate authority figures as well.
Well, anyway, here’s this week’s Astrophenia, and may your Caturday be bright and filled with new understanding.
Images of the Week:
Autonomous Robots Battle for $1.5 million NASA Prize
Robotic Search for Life on Mars Brings out Human Experiences
Found! Oldest Known Alien Planet That Might Harbor Life
REPLAY: ‘Cosmos’ Webcast with Astronomy Magazine
Curiosity Captures Mercury from Mars
The Sun Pops off Two X-Class Solar Flares in One Day
Surprise! The Earth and Moon May be 60 Million Years Older Than we Thought
Mystery Solved? Why There are No Lunar ‘Seas’ on The Far Side of the Moon
The House Passes FY 2015 NASA Budget
“The Soft Landing is Not Really Soft”
A Cosmic Tadpole in More Ways than One
A Gorgeous (Non-Polar) Vortex
Why Extroverts Could Cause Problems on a Mission to Mars
Private Team to Restart Engines on 36-Year Old NASA Spacecraft
“Carbon Copy” Spacecraft Ready to Track Global Carbon Dioxide
3-D Printer to Fly to Space in August, Sooner than Planned
The Cosmos in Video:
Here’s NASA’s New Design for a Warp-Drive Spaceship