The return

February 10, 2013

I have closed my FaceBook account.
I have closed my Live Journal account.
I doubt Geocities even exists anymore, at least the part with my website anyway.
MySpace is no space, also gone with the wind.

I still have my google plus account, but that is more a link into my various social groups.

I have my twitter account @themyst1971 and that is great when what I have to say is only 140 characters long.

I have a YouTube account, fantastic for getting what I really want to say out there, but it comes with a high production effort for each post.

I have an audioboo account, also great for getting out exactly how I feel as long as I can do it within three minutes.

An that is where GeekSkeptic comes is. Sometimes I have a need to say something I feel is important that will not fit into any of the categories above.

So yes, this place is not closed and you will see the odd post here, just not all that frequently.

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About Me

February 17, 2012

I have created an About.Me account to link my online life

http://www.about.me/themyst1971

No long so see

February 12, 2010

So long no see.

It has been awhile since I lasted posted here, the main reason is not because I have nothing to see but that I have far too much but just don’t know how I want to say it.

My world is full of pseudoscience but no matter who I talk to or what method I use when talking to them, I am just wasting my time.

I need a support group, a South African Skeptics group.

Where am I

December 8, 2009

A Name by any other …

August 4, 2009
As many of you who regularly read this journal will know, I have been battling to find the correct term to call myself, what my, dare I say it, my belief system is. Prehaps we should rather call it my lifestyle choice?
I hate to call myself an Atheist for many reasons. I suppose one of the main reasons is the negative association it has. You tell someone you are an Atheist and they immediately turn off to whatever you may have to say.
I also don’t like the idea of Atheist in that I am then defining myself based not on my but on someone else’s beliefs that I do not follow. Calling myself an Atheist is the same as saying, I am not a Theist. Well ok, but what am I?
The other thing about Atheism is that it holds that gods do not exist. The problem with this is that by believing that gods do not exist does create a type of bias, even if a very, very small one.
I prefer the idea of being a skeptic but that too has a negative association.
So what is left?
As a skeptic, a follower of the scientific principal, we are often accused of being closed minded, although that is far from the truth. We are always willing to listen to New ideas, investigate New evidence. The problem is, most of the ideas thrown at us, the majority of evidence given us, is Not New. We have seen it all before, we have tested it all before, we have run all the experiments on it before.
Do you keep on putting you hand in the fire to make sure you will still burn yourself?
You do it once, and maybe, just maybe a second time to verify your results but then you stop.
If you want to tell me the fire does not burn. Fine, you put your hand in the fire first. I have run my experiments already. You do yours. You show me that I was wrong*, then I may try the experiment again.
But You First*.
I like the term, Free Thinker. It hints at the openness to look deeper. The unconfined mind i.e. the mind not confined by any preconceived religious ideas. The idea that I am willing to think and not just believe anything on someone else’s say-so.
Wikipedia has this to say, “Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any other dogma.”
That in a nutshell is what I believe.
Now I know one should not beg for comments but what do you think about the above?
* – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan

As many of you who regularly read this journal will know, I have been battling to find the correct term to call myself, what my, dare I say it, my belief system is. Prehaps we should rather call it my lifestyle choice?

I hate to call myself an Atheist for many reasons. I suppose one of the main reasons is the negative association it has. You tell someone you are an Atheist and they immediately turn off to whatever you may have to say.

I also don’t like the idea of Atheist in that I am then defining myself based not on my beliefs but on someone else’s beliefs that I do not follow. Calling myself an Atheist is the same as saying, I am not a Theist. Well ok, but what am I?

The other thing about Atheism is that it holds that gods do not exist. The problem with this is that by believing that gods do not exist does create a type of bias, even if a very, very small one.

I prefer the idea of being a skeptic but that too has a negative association.

So what is left?

As a skeptic, a follower of the scientific principal, we are often accused of being closed minded, although that is far from the truth. We are always willing to listen to New ideas, investigate New evidence. The problem is, most of the ideas thrown at us, the majority of evidence given us, is Not New. We have seen it all before, we have tested it all before, we have run all the experiments on it before.

Do you keep on putting you hand in the fire to make sure you will still burn yourself?

You do it once, and maybe, just maybe a second time to verify your results but then you stop.

If you want to tell me the fire does not burn. Fine, you put your hand in the fire first. I have run my experiments already. You do yours. You show me that I was wrong*, then I may try the experiment again.

But You First*.

I like the term, Free Thinker. It hints at the openness to look deeper. The unconfined mind i.e. the mind not confined by any preconceived religious ideas. The idea that I am willing to think and not just believe anything on someone else’s say-so.

Wikipedia has this to say, “Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any other dogma.”

That in a nutshell is what I believe.

* – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan

Falsifiable Predictability

May 29, 2009

This post was inspired by a comment on an ealier post.

Being skeptical comes down to two words, Falsifiable Predictability.

Predictability – I predict that if I stand up from my chair and press that button over there by the door, the light will come on.

Falsifiable – Means doing just that, getting up from the chair and actually testing the theory, pressing that button and seeing if the light comes on.

It become science when your process is tested by others i.e. Peer reviewed.

The question against religion comes down to the question of, what is their prediction and how can I falsify it, i.e. test it. There are a lot of claims in the bible, all I am asking is for one of them to be falsifiable under controlled conditions.

Until that happens, it is all just talk.

Being skeptical is about being ready to put those claims to the test each and every time. Never assume that just because last time I asked a god to smite me and nothing happened does not mean the next time I ask it won’t happen. Being skeptical means continuing testing, always searching but never accepting without Falsifiable Predictable evidence.

Bio Cross-Post

May 22, 2009

This is a excerpt from my journal bio.

My belief system, if I can call it that, is neither an Agnostic nor Atheist, although both are very close to my belief.
An Agnostic believes that there can never be any evidence of a god, which confuses me because if there is a god, surely he can make such evidence if he/she/it wanted to.
An Atheist believes in no such notion of a god and that no evidence exists for such. Again this worries me in that every day scientist discover new things in the world around them. Just look at some of the discoveries of late in dark matter and quantum physics.

No, what I like to call myself is a skeptic.
This means that I have no evidence that a god exists, therefore until such evidence is found, I cannot believe in a god.
I am not saying, like an Atheist, that there is no god, I am saying that at present there is no evidence for a god.
I doubt many people care about such a subtle difference but I do. It is the difference between being so sure of yourself that you may end up overlooking the evidence and having a belief that is willing to change as new evidence comes to light.

And that, in a nutshell is what I have against most religions, the inability to change as the world changes around them.

I am currently a Skeptic, and I shall remain a skeptic in all things that I have no evidence for.

Pod-Casts

May 18, 2009

 

So you can’t find the time to read all the skeptical and scientific journals and blogs. How about Podcasts? What I do is download a bunch of podcasts at once and then play them whenever I am in the car driving somewhere.
And for your consideration, here is a list of my favorites …
This is a weekly 5-10 minute podcast dealing with skeptical subjects. One Week, one subject. What I really like about this podcast is the way Brian first gives you the whole story as known to us, the breaks it down and discusses it in detail, reminding you, at the end of each episode not to believe him either but to go out and find the truth for yourself.
This is a great Podcast for many reasons, to name but a few.
It is hosted by a real brain doctor.
It has 5 hosts, so you get more than just one person’s opinion.
It has games to help you sharpen your skeptic brain.
And has some great interviews.
Similar to Skeptoid but created by the SGU team above.
This has got to be the funniest podcast out there and it is by a skeptic who covers everything from music, to science, to nature with other stuff thrown in for fun.
This is a weekly podcast by Scientific American. It is about 50/50 Science/Skepticism and has a game every week to help you practice your skills.
This is a science show with games and experiments you can do at home, plus interviews and news on the latest scientific discoveries. What I love most about this show is that it is scientists being scientists, no skeptical activism i.e. True Skeptics living their life and vocation with having to say that they are skeptics.

So you can’t find the time to read all the skeptical and scientific journals and blogs. How about Podcasts? What I do is download a bunch of podcasts at once and then play them whenever I am in the car driving somewhere.

 

And for your consideration, here is a list of my favorites …

 

Skeptoid

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=203844864

This is a weekly 5-10 minute podcast dealing with skeptical subjects. One Week, one subject. What I really like about this podcast is the way Brian first gives you the whole story as known to us, the breaks it down and discusses it in detail, reminding you, at the end of each episode not to believe him either but to go out and find the truth for yourself.

 

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/sgu.aspx?MasterPodcastId=1

This is a great Podcast for many reasons, to name but a few.

It is hosted by a real brain doctor.

It has 5 hosts, so you get more than just one person’s opinion.

It has games to help you sharpen your skeptic brain.

And has some great interviews.

 

Skeptics Guide 5X5

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/sgu.aspx?MasterPodcastId=2

Similar to Skeptoid but created by the SGU team above.

 

Geologic Podcast

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewArtist?id=3964507

This has got to be the funniest podcast out there and it is by a skeptic who covers everything from music, to science, to nature with other stuff thrown in for fun.

 

Science Talk

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=122384595&s=143441

This is a weekly podcast by Scientific American. It is about 50/50 Science/Skepticism and has a game every week to help you practice your skills.

 

The Naked Scientists

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=74171648

This is a science show with games and experiments you can do at home, plus interviews and news on the latest scientific discoveries. What I love most about this show is that it is scientists being scientists, no skeptical activism i.e. True Skeptics living their life and vocation with having to say that they are skeptics.

 

So there you have it. These are by no means all of them, or even all of my favorite ones, but it is a start.

When Did I First …

May 6, 2009

 

Swoopy from Skepticality always likes to ask her guests, as the first question, when did you first know you were a Skeptic. So for the first skeptical post to this blog, I thought I would answer that question myself.
I grew up in an interesting home when it came to religion. My mother was raised as a Christian Scientist and my father Methodist. Neither of them were very religious and the first time they really thought about it was when I was adopted. The caseworker asked them what religion they were going to raise me in. Neither of them really cared but the case worker suggested that they pick one, not both and go with that.
So I started my life out as a Methodist, going to Sunday school etc. A year or so before I would be, I don’t know – confirmed? My mother asked if I was really interested in being a Methodist, I did not care, so she decided to take us to the Christian Scientist’s service for about a year. After that we were old enough in her eyes to decide if we really wanted to go to church. I did not, not dues to any deep seeded belief or whatever but because I wanted my sleep.
During this time I used to go to a type of summer camp but the only type in those days in South Africa were Christian. At one of these camps I found Jesus, he was behind a couch. Truth be told, I thought I had found God, and I did the usual forgive me of my sins and stuff. After a day or two, when nothing happened, I decide something, not sure what.
Moving forward to high school. I joined the Christian group at school and very soon became the chairman. 
At this point in my life, the best you could say was that I was a true believer and did not believe. Went to all the meeting at school, never went to church.
I loved reading fantasy and being a believer, I thought the magic may be real. I decided to cast some spells and see what happened, I became a teenage witch, oh and still chairman of the school Christian group and a true believe in god. And of course being a teenager, a masturbator. 
Boy was I racked with guilt and so I begged the devil to give me a hot sexy virgin for my soul. 
I got nothing.
It was at this point in my strange childhood that I started to wonder. Why did God not stop me? Why did the devil not want my soul? Why did some magic spells sort of work and others not?
In the end I left school and became a police officer for the next four years. As a policeman, I was once again drawn into religion, always carried a bible in my pocket, prayed every night, and went to church every Sunday.
I left the police and that was the last time I went to church, for no other reason other than I could not be bothered to find a new congregation or get up early on Sunday.
At this point I still sort of maybe perhaps believed there was something or not, I did not know what I believed but I still felt guilty about it all.
So I started seeking, looking. In my search I found pagans and witches. I was invited to join their coven and did, with all the dancing and magic and stuff. When asked if I was a Wiccan or Druid, I answered that I was a pagan. You see, I did not truly believe, but there were some sexy girls in the coven and I was working out my guilt. If God did not hate me for all the things I did, then was there a God. Also, I questioned the magic, I had done more powerful magic on my own as a teenager than the whole coven had ever done.
Then one day I discovered Chaos Magic. Basically it is the idea that everything is nothing. I can believe in a Christian god today and a pagan goddess tomorrow and both were equal as long as I did not believe in them outside of ritual. You only believed during ritual and you never believed in the same thing twice. And the core of Chaos magic is that you are the one responsible for your won actions.
From believing in everything to believing in nothing was a very small step.
So now we look back at our original question, When did I first discover I was a skeptic and I think it was the very first time I tried to believe? You see, it never ever felt real to me. Oh and about the magic, as a skeptic and follower of the scientific method, I retested my childhood spells and under close control, none of it ever worked.
So where am I today?
I do not believe in anything. I have seen no proof of a god, or of a devil, or of any of the goddesses. For the last 38 years of my life I have been seeking and the only thing that has changed is the method I now use.
Devil, if you are out there, give me a hot sexy young virgin and I will believe, till then, I shall be skeptical. 

Swoopy from Skepticality always likes to ask her guests, as the first question, when did you first know you were a Skeptic. So for the first skeptical post to this blog, I thought I would answer that question myself.

 

I grew up in an interesting home when it came to religion. My mother was raised as a Christian Scientist and my father Methodist. Neither of them were very religious and the first time they really thought about it was when I was adopted. The caseworker asked them what religion they were going to raise me in. Neither of them really cared but the case worker suggested that they pick one, not both and go with that.

 

So I started my life out as a Methodist, going to Sunday school etc. A year or so before I would be, I don’t know – confirmed? My mother asked if I was really interested in being a Methodist, I did not care, so she decided to take us to the Christian Scientist’s service for about a year. After that we were old enough in her eyes to decide if we really wanted to go to church. I did not, not dues to any deep seeded belief or whatever but because I wanted my sleep.

 

During this time I used to go to a type of summer camp but the only type in those days in South Africa were Christian. At one of these camps I found Jesus, he was behind a couch. Truth be told, I thought I had found God, and I did the usual forgive me of my sins and stuff. After a day or two, when nothing happened, I decide something, not sure what.

 

Moving forward to high school. I joined the Christian group at school and very soon became the chairman. 

 

At this point in my life, the best you could say was that I was a true believer and did not believe. Went to all the meeting at school, never went to church.

 

I loved reading fantasy and being a believer, I thought the magic may be real. I decided to cast some spells and see what happened, I became a teenage witch, oh and still chairman of the school Christian group and a true believe in god. And of course being a teenager, a masturbator. 

 

Boy was I racked with guilt and so I begged the devil to give me a hot sexy virgin for my soul. 

 

I got nothing.

 

It was at this point in my strange childhood that I started to wonder. Why did God not stop me? Why did the devil not want my soul? Why did some magic spells sort of work and others not?

 

In the end I left school and became a police officer for the next four years. As a policeman, I was once again drawn into religion, always carried a bible in my pocket, prayed every night, and went to church every Sunday.

 

I left the police and that was the last time I went to church, for no other reason other than I could not be bothered to find a new congregation or get up early on Sunday.

 

At this point I still sort of maybe perhaps believed there was something or not, I did not know what I believed but I still felt guilty about it all.

 

So I started seeking, looking. In my search I found pagans and witches. I was invited to join their coven and did, with all the dancing and magic and stuff. When asked if I was a Wiccan or Druid, I answered that I was a pagan. You see, I did not truly believe, but there were some sexy girls in the coven and I was working out my guilt. If God did not hate me for all the things I did, then was there a God. Also, I questioned the magic, I had done more powerful magic on my own as a teenager than the whole coven had ever done.

 

Then one day I discovered Chaos Magic. Basically it is the idea that everything is nothing. I can believe in a Christian god today and a pagan goddess tomorrow and both were equal as long as I did not believe in them outside of ritual. You only believed during ritual and you never believed in the same thing twice. And the core of Chaos magic is that you are the one responsible for your own actions.

 

From believing in everything to believing in nothing was a very small step.

 

So now we look back at our original question, When did I first discover I was a skeptic and I think it was the very first time I tried to believe? You see, it never ever felt real to me. Oh and about the magic, as a skeptic and follower of the scientific method, I retested my childhood spells and under close control, none of it ever worked.

 

So where am I today?

 

I do not believe in anything. I have seen no proof of a god, or of a devil, or of any of the goddesses. For the last 38 years of my life I have been seeking and the only thing that has changed is the method I now use.

 

Devil, if you are out there, give me a hot sexy young virgin and I will believe, till then, I shall be skeptical. 

The First Post.

April 17, 2009

Quick review of myself:-

I am South African.

I am almost 38 years old.

I am a computer programmer.

I am geek*

I love to read.

I have a very bizarre humor.

I enjoy computer games.

… and I try to follow the scientific method in all I do (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method).

 

This blog will hopefully fill up with information about scientific things I find interesting.

There will also be rants against those things and ideas that are not scientific but are ported to be scientific or are said by someone attempting to be scientific, in other words Pseudoscience (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience).

I will have the odd comment about those parts of religion that I don’t get or those that state they believe/follow a certain belief system but their actions go directly against those beliefs.

I will post comments on news articles that are stupid, dangerous or unbelievable weird to have ever gotten published.

I will rant and I will rave and you may as well, all comment will be open and never be deleted.

I do have my own online journal for personal stuff that does not fall under the above heading and on occasions I will cross post but I am hoping that most my posts will be happy. (http://themyst.livejournal.com)

I am hoping to update this blog at least once a week.

 

Until next time, a couple of my favorite quotes.

 

“Skepticism is an approach to testable physical claims. Atheism is a conclusion regarding an untestable metaphysical claim. These are not the same thing. You can be both a skeptic and an atheist. This is demographically common amongst skeptics. But please remember, there are many other skeptics who do hold or identify with some religion. Indeed, the modern skeptical movement is built partly on the work of people of faith (including giants like Harry Houdini and Martin Gardner).You don’t, after all, have to be against god to be against fraud.” – Daniel Loxton

“It’s fine to form a hypothesis, but don’t try to confirm it — try to disprove it.” – Jeff Wagg

“We should treat each case anew, each experience as unique, and not as “just another ghost story.” Think it over, discuss it with colleagues, research and analyze the data before making premature pronouncements.” – Dr. Karen Stollznow

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan 

“Scientists want criticism, they invite objections, they seek out ways to falsify hypotheses. But these criticisms, objections and falsifications must be logical, they must be self-consistent, and they must be scientific themselves.” – Dr Phil Plait

 

 

*The word geek is a slang term, noting individuals as “a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek