In a way, I feel sorry for strict biblical literalists. They have chosen to follow rules laid down by men who had very little understanding of what the universe is really like. It’s their choice but it’s an unfortunate one and they’ve made themselves intellectually and culturally poorer by it.
Homeopathy is nonsense. There is no more scientific debate on that. The evidence is clear.
I do understand that some people have subjective experiences that lead them to believe in homeopathy. Some of these people are very smart and well educated but they need to ask themselves why it is that, whenever homeopathy is tested by methods that eliminate personal (subjective) bias, it utterly fails. Every time!
That there are still significant audiences for those who promote obvious nonsense – from creationists like Ken Ham and Ray Comfort to anti-vaccination lunatics like Jenny McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or proponents of crazy political notions (take your pick) – is testament to the fact that the human brain is a product of evolution and that evolution does not necessarily produce optimal solutions. That, is the human brain has significant weaknesses.
Scientific methods of investigation have been specifically designed to compensate for the shortcomings of our brains but they are not able to compensate for the fact that some people choose to trust bullshit more than they trust science.
It comes down to values: reason or faith? Pick one.
This is old hat to those of us who have been trying to address young earth creationism for some years but those who have more recently become interested in the subject might find it useful.
Ken Ham‘s Answers In Genesis organization has a Statement of Faith. All who are involved with that organization, whether as staff or as volunteers, including Ham’s pet scientists, are required to agree to this statement.
The Dr. Oz episode* in which he endorses applied kinesiology (not to be confused with kinesiology, which is a legitimate study) to diagnose allergies was re-run again today. Oz appeared to completely buy into it, even though he says he has no idea how it works.
Well, if he consulted with a knowledgeable skeptic or even did a simple internet search, Oz would learn that it’s got a lot to do with the ideomotor effect. He could also quite easily discover that applied kinesiology has been subjected to proper scientific testing and has been found to be no better at diagnosing allergies than random guessing.
A friend of mine recently suggested that, if one is going to criticize Dr. Oz where he is wrong, one should also praise him where he is right.
No. Oz is lying to people. His education and intelligence are such that he cannot use ignorance as an excuse. He is lying to people and he surely must know what he is doing. His defence is that he is trying to give people hope. False hope. That is, he is lying to people.
Is skepticism negative? Wouldn’t it be nicer just to believe what people tell us.
No. Skepticism is the practical application of critical thinking. It’s a vital aspect of science and it can save lives. Not being sufficiently skeptical can cost lives.
Here’s an example:
Some years ago, I had a debate via email with someone regarding the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. I seem to recall that he was a Christian chaplain in the U.S. military with the last name of Huger. I only remember the name because that is also the surname of the fellow who wrote this charming piece: jhuger.com/kissing-hanks-ass
I pointed out that the evidence for Jesus having existed at all was not of high quality – eg. the complete lack of contemporaneous accounts and the fact that the purported eye witness accounts are anonymous and were written decades after the events in question were supposed to have occurred and, even if one were to accept them as eye witness accounts, eye witness accounts are one of the least reliable forms of evidence.
In his recent debate with Bill Nye (“the science guy”), Ken Ham (Creation Museum, Answers In Genesis) made some real bloopers but this is the one that most sticks in my mind.
In response to Ham’s assertion that, before the flood, all animals were vegetarians, Nye remarked that a lion’s big, sharp teeth don’t appear to be very good for eating broccoli. Ham’s response was to point out that bears also have big, sharp teeth and they’re mostly vegetarians, implying that the teeth don’t tell us much about what the critters eat.
1 part sincere belief
1 part willingness to lie to protect sincere belief
2 parts denial of any evidence or facts conflicting with sincere belief
2 parts desperation
2 parts wilful ignorance
A pinch of “You will burn in hell if you don’t believe!” – adjust to taste.
Mix well. Spew at will whenever evolution is mentioned.
(Amendments to the recipe are welcomed.)
- “You will burn in hell if you don’t believe!” suggested by Anne Squires-Dorsey on Facebook
- denial of conflicting evidence suggested by Blooórt Goðrúnarson on Facebook.