Daily Archives: Thursday, 16:05, October 21, 2010

Things I’m NOT Overly Skeptical About: Part II


Landsat 7 image of Manhattan on September 12, ...

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Continuing from the previous Tuesday, this part describes a few more ideas of which I’m not particularly critical unless a real need presents itself.

That being said, it can hardly be honestly claimed that I would enshrine any of them as being gospel truth, since I’ve been down that road before with paranormal beliefs, been burned by the facts, and got the proverbial tee-shirt and metaphorical scars to prove it.

Gullibility bites, even a naive, idealized conception of an otherwise genuine and verified idea, and especially if said idea is neither genuine nor verified…

No, that’s a path already far too well-traveled by Troythulu, and I’d rather make a little extra effort to have a more realistic view of the world — it makes for a stronger skepticism — and it prevents hero-worship and fallacious appeals to authority by yours truly.

While not everything should be regarded with skepticism — such as skepticism — my view is that it is a Bad Idea™ to hold anything but mathematics to be certain in truth content, and even that is highly debated by philosophers, a demographic I do not hold membership in.

So here are a few things of which I am only quasi-skeptical…pseudo-skeptical…diet-coke-of-skeptical…not-quite-skeptical-enough to please those with a distaste for skepticism, and who make this rather plain in their, well, amusing tirades filled with loaded language, factual misconceptions, and logical fallacies my two-year old nephew could pick apart with ease on a bad day.

Yes, I know — Troythulu is evil…and snarky, but just as important as seeing what’s there is not seeing what ain’t. So I accept…

  • …that knowledge is superior to ignorance, though not that the knowledgeable are superior to the ignorant for we are all ignorant of something
  • …that it doesn’t take an intellectual giant to understand science provided it is taught well…
  • …that no one should be regarded as a saint, even those regarded as saints…
  • …that faith in the religious sense has no place in science, even though individual scientists may well happen to be ‘people of faith…’
  • …that science, like all human social endeavors, is fallible as are those human beings who practice it…
  • …that there are things not only that we don’t know, but likely also those we cannot know…
  • …that the pyramids of Egypt and other similar monuments found there were likely constructed by the historical Egyptians themselves, and that this is consistent with the culture, history, technologies and organizational ability that we know they had…
  • …that life likely exists elsewhere in the universe, and that if true, life could well be a necessary consequence of complex chemistry…
  • …that all purposeful wrong in the world is due ultimately to ignorance, irrationality, or a toxic mixture of both and often carried out by a generous helping of physical or legal aggression…
  • …that taking an unorthodox position merely to be unorthodox, and the fact that one’s ideas are bold and revolutionary does not mean that one is right, nor one’s ideas a science…
  • …for everyone thought to be a crank but who later was esteemed as a scientific icon, there have been countless others in history who will forever be enshrined as nothing more than cranks…
  • …that evidence-based medicine is superior in effectiveness to alleged healing modalities alternative only to those based on evidence. It saved my life twice that I can count so far, and on pain of committing the pragmatic fallacy, “it worked for me…”
  • …that no supernatural claim that has ever been testable and subsequently verified has ever been found to have anything but a natural explanation…
  • …that rational doubt is superior to either irrational doubt or certitude in a search for truth, that the truth is out there, and best reached through valid evidence and careful reasoning…
  • …that I am one with all life on Earth through common descent, one with the Earth through chemistry, and one with the cosmos through the atoms of my body which were forged in the hearts of stars…
  • …the reality of these things we dogmatically fervent skeptics call “coincidence,” and “probability…”

Unfortunately for the antiskeptic types, this demand that others be skeptical of the very things they are, in the same way that they are, to their unqualified satisfaction to be considered ‘true skeptics,’ is not based on an understanding of what modern skepticism really is, so I think that this demand itself warrants some due skepticism, and can be safely dismissed on the grounds that it is not only unreasonable, but based on seriously flawed assumptions and cognitive mistakes.

In part III, I’ll go over some of the above mentioned assumptions and errors in more detail. I’ll see you then. Fnord.

Neil Degrasse Tyson: “If you’re scientifically literate the world looks very different to you”


Neil Tyson discusses his views on scientific literacy, what it means, and how important it is for anyone who wants to participate in a functioning democracy. It’s not just for scientists!

baudiirocz | September 20, 2009

Full interview link: Conversations at KCTS 9: Neil Degrasse Tyson (Airdate: July 3,2009)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrTTta…

“At least once a week, if not once a day, we might each ponder what cosmic truths lie undiscovered before us, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a clever thinker, an ingenious experiment, or an innovative space mission to reveal them. We might further ponder how those discoveries may one day transform life on Earth.”
~Neil Tyson

Also please check out the channel RevTyson for more NDT videos.

http://www.youtube.com/user/revtyson

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