Posts Tagged ‘Skeptism’

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.