Skeptic

Skeptic

A skeptic is a thinker, not a blind believer, but you already know that.

I laugh when ‘they’ use the word -or the term- to characterize someone who happens to have a different opinion, or point of view from them.  It’s obvious, that is the whole purpose of this, isn’t it?  Seize the definition, and then prove it wrong.

It’s wonderful to be a Skeptic, but who isn’t?  Unfortunately, far too many, who farm out and subcontract others to do their thinking for them.  But fortunately, we still have the right to think whatever we want, whatever we like, whatever we wish, the most wonderful nonsense, the most brilliant ideas.

We need to continue to fight for the right to be skeptics. So, dear journalists and assorted religious nuts, you’d better use some other words.  Like “controversialist,” “dissenter,” “arguer,” “questioner,” etc.

Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion – including freedom FROM religion, freedom of action – as long as it harms no-one else. As Braveheart, William Wallace, said, FREEDOM. I am not skeptical about that.

Just be careful not to topple over the edge to Cynic. I’ve seen some militant Atheists – actually anti-Theists – interviewed, and asked, “If you were presented with proof of the Christian God, would you believe?” And they answer, “NO!” That is just foolish, rebellious cynicism. Believe what you want, but have a good reason for it.

The Whichness Of The Why

Rene DesCartes

Philosophers have nothing to say, but will take all day (or all of their lives) to say it.

In my ongoing attempts to get psychological explanations for why people – often Christians, but also Atheists – believe what they do, I kept running into philosophers. I thought that Philosophers were deep-thinkers, who used the power of their intellect to uncover important social revelations.

The more I read though, the more I realized that this was not so. One of them, like René Descartes (above) might make a significant claim, like; “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” then the rest of them would discuss and debate it. If only one Philosopher contended a theory, it was like mental masturbation. If a group of them worried it like a dog with a bone, it was more like a circle-jerk. It made them all feel good, without actually accomplishing anything.

Often, no-one really proved anything. They just kept arguing with one another until observed facts finally showed one of them to be the closest guesser. Then folks would congratulate him as if he’d discovered something.

Even the winner of a debate, or series of debates, did not reveal, or prove, any particular truth. The champion became the victor by looking the best, yelling the loudest, and waving his hands the most. One Philosopher had a mortal enemy, another debater. There was only one subject about which the two agreed. Mr. Ego challenged his opponent to a debate, and took the ‘anti’ side. He won the debate by disproving an opinion that he held.

Despite the fact that colleges and Universities teach Philosophy, we have no Philosophers any more. What we have today are authors, bloggers, podcasters, and Christian Apologetics. All of them are full of strongly-held opinions, but if you laid them all end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a valid conclusion.

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Case in point, a book that I recently read, titled Galileo Goes To Jail, 25 myths about Science and Religion. Seldom have I seen hairs split so finely, with no purpose other than to make the contributors appear learned and impressive. All 25 writers tiptoed through the minefield of truth and logic, but I felt the worst among them was the jackass who set out to prove that

Giordano Bruno Was Not The First Martyr Of Modern Science

Now, the first of anything is going to look different from what has gone before. This genius wanted to play the “Own The Definition” game. He started by claiming that Bruno was not a scientist, or was not teaching science. Of course not! Back then, the words, the definitions, the very concepts of “science” and “scientist” did not exist. Everything was Natural Philosophy.

‘Science’ did not exist, and Bruno wasn’t ‘teaching’ it. He did however publicly express and debate his opinions and conclusions about reality. He openly held Galileo’s position, that the Earth moved, and the sun didn’t, contrary to the Church’s dogma of a fixed and unmoving Earth. His claims were heresy to The Holy Catholic Church, which owned the definition of heresy.

Heresy they might have been, but as the equivalents of modern Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Mathematics, they were a Hell of a lot more like science than say, if the Pope might not be infallible, God did not exist in three parts, or we had to eat fish on Friday.

I try not to be hidebound in my opinions, and not get caught in confirmation bias. I invite, and delight in, discussion and debate about anything I publish. If you prove me wrong about any claim I make, I will accept defeat Philosophically. 😉

***

Oops, I left a link to a 1949 Sci-Fi story at the end of this draft.  Rather than delete it –  anybody want to access and read it??

Edmond Hamilton – Alien Earth

https://archive.org/details/Thrilling_Wonder_Stories_v34n01_1949-04/page/n51

 

Straight Arrow

Stright Arrow

My wife, bless her heart, is a linear thinker. I mean a, A straight line is the shortest distance between two points. linear thinker.

If we’re watching Poirot, or Miss Marple, or reruns of Columbo or Murder She Wrote, while my active and vivid imagination is distracted by red herrings, plot twists, or character development, her Laser mind points directly at the culprit.

It wasn’t the butler. It was the illegitimate son of the maid, from an affair with the Master. And she’s right 90% of the time. However…. She has trouble getting off the paved road. She reads romance novels. Several times I have heard her complain about the dénouement of a book. The story will come to a stop at a particular juncture, and it’s up to the reader to decide whether the hero will come back and marry the girl, or if he will ride off into the sunset. She gets quite upset. Enquiring minds (like hers) need to know!

It’s not that she has no sense of humor. It’s just that she is not friends with puns or word-play. My father used to describe a damp day by saying, “It tried to rain, but it missed (mist).” She occasionally repeats (?) this as, “It tried to rain, but it misted.” Literal! Literal! Literal!

My darling old Mother, who wouldn’t say ‘Shit’ if she had a mouthful, would comment about someone farting, by saying, “(That’s)Better out, than one of your eyes.” Like bread upon the waters, this one comes back as, “It’s better out that way, than out one of your eyes.” 😕 🙄

She has discovered a YouTube file that plays over 2 hours of mostly pop songs, but one of them is the old Meat Loaf song, ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). “What is it that he won’t do?? He keeps saying that he won’t do That, but he never says what That is. If she’d just shut up and stop obsessing, she’d find out. The song, like a sentence in German with the verb at the end, is constructed. After 4 minutes of him yowling that he won’t do that, his woman cuts in, and starts singing about him being a star, and rich and famous, and how he will use it ‘to go screwing around.’ The song ends with him assuring her, “But I won’t do that.”

She likes the singer, Ed Sheeran, and watches many of his music videos. One of them has her baffled. In the video for a song called Shape of You, Sheeran is in training as a boxer – jab, jab, punch, punch. He is assisted by a curvaceous young female, who even teaches him some dance steps to aid his footwork.

She returns to her locker, finds and reads a note, stuffs some things in her bag, and leaves. Perhaps the wife hoped for some romantic entanglement. From the first time she watched it, every time, she complains, “It doesn’t make sense. Why does she leave?” Doesn’t make sense??! These are music videos – one of them, Radioactive, shows Mexican cockfighting…. with Muppets. They’re not supposed to make sense.

It might be that, in today’s #MeToo society, the song keeps insisting that he’s in love with her body – the Shape of You. No mention of her smile, her intellect, her wit and humor, her kind and supportive nature – just her body.

Always trying to be helpful, I suggested that maybe she had to go home to make supper for her husband…. or perhaps she had to go home to make supper for her wife. Don’t ask – don’t tell. Still, every time, the question was repeated. “It doesn’t make sense. Why does she leave?”

As the video progresses, Sheeran leaves the training room, and enters a fight venue – to be faced with a Sumo wrestler. 😕 He engages the Sumo giant, wearing one of those ridiculous, inflatable Sumo costumes, and gets splatted to the floor. Apparently this all makes sense to the wife, and she unquestioningly accepts it.

To finally put us all out of our misery, the son told her that the note was from Sheeran’s fight manager, telling the eye-candy that she was a distraction to his training, and to keep away…. only, she shows up at the end, and knocks the Sumo guy down with a Kung Fu drop-kick. Out of the wife’s earshot, the son admitted that his explanation was highly unlikely, but it pacified her, and we all lived happily (and quietly) ever after.

Linear thinkers are useful, and quite productive, although they can be a little dismaying. Are you a linear thinker? My own thought processes can be like a tornado aftermath.

Maze

’19 A To Z Challenge – I

Stupid

When we’re out driving around in our cars, any fools who don’t drive as fast as we do, and block us, are assholes. Any drivers who pull past us and drive faster than we do, are

IDIOTS

We can always feel good about ourselves by reading about folks who aren’t as smart as us. All the idiots aren’t on the roads. Prepare to feel great, by comparing yourself to some of these DUMB CROOKS

Caught-Caught

Police in Ossining, New York, were called to a mini-mart, where they found Blake Leak, 23, trying to break in. They chased Leak through the streets until both cops took a tumble. Seizing the opportunity, Leak sought refuge on the grounds of a large building. The building was the Sing Sing Maximum Security prison, where he was promptly nabbed by a guard.

The Case of the Liquor Store Lothario

Scottish shoplifter Aron Morrison was picked up after pinching a bottle of vodka from a liquor store. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to find Morrison, though. His name and phone number were left with the clerk—after asking her out on a date.

The Lowest High There Is

For a trio of drug thieves, it was their lucky day. They broke into a home in Silver Springs, Florida, and discovered three jars of cocaine. They took it home and snorted the contents. That’s when they discovered that the jars were in fact urns, and that they were snorting the cremains of the victim’s husband and two dogs.

The Case of the Not-So Devoted Dad

Bring Your Child to Work Day is a long honored tradition that allows children to see what goes on in the business world while also getting the chance to watch their parents ply their trade. One crook brought his young son along with him on a job, which happened to be robbing a pet shop. He was caught soon after, minus something important. His son.

Watch Where You’re Going!

As two men waited in line at the coffee shop to pay their bill, a third cut in front of them. He threw a drink at the clerk, and demanded all the money from the till. Temporarily surprised, the men quickly recovered and handcuffed the crook. Apparently in his rush the criminal didn’t notice they were police officers—in full uniform.

The Couple That Drinks Together…

Recently, a woman in Fresno, California, was stopped at a DUI checkpoint for being soused. Ever helpful, she offered up this info: ‘My husband’s right behind me, and he’s even drunker than I am.’

The Telltale Trousers

When an attempted robbery at a Lowes Home Improvement store went awry, Milton J. Hodges fled across the street and jumped a fence … right into the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort & Spa. As the Orlando Sentinel pointed out, ‘As one of the only folks wearing clothing,’ Hodges was easily spotted by police.

P.S.—Nobody move

It’s the worst possible time to faint—in the middle of robbing a bank. But that’s what happened to a Beavercreek, Ohio, thief. The teller called 911 and asked for medics. But you have to applaud the man’s stick-to-it-iveness. While the ambulance was en route, the suspect handed a note to the teller demanding all her cash.

No Vacancy

Mitchell Deslatte walked into a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hotel and asked the clerk for a room. The clerk wasn’t a clerk—he was a state trooper. And the hotel was actually a state trooper station. That’s when Deslatte was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

IOU

Graham Price of South Wales ripped off the bank where he worked, but he wasn’t completely duplicitous. He left a note in the safe: ‘Borrowed, seven million pounds’—signed ‘Graham Price.’

No One Likes a Tattler

A Good Samaritan noticed an elderly man being robbed, so he jumped in and punched the thief. The thief was so upset, he called the police to complain.

Next Time, Steal a Milky Way

When Stephan Crane broke into the Ravalli Republic (Montana) newsroom, he used the computers to watch porn and check Facebook. Then Crane doused the office with a fire extinguisher, took some candy, and left. It wasn’t difficult to find him, however; the police just followed the trail of stolen M&Ms that led to his sister’s place across the road.

Can You Read Me Now?

When police in Vancouver, Canada, asked to search Jason Pauchay’s apartment for drugs, he was not a suspect—in fact, they were looking for someone else. That all changed when they got a look at how his name was listed on his cell phone: ‘Jason Pauchay Drug Dealer.’

That’s all for now, but (un)fortunately, I’ve got more of these feel-good fools. 😯 Seeya soon.

 

Dismantling Of Faith

Big Bang

In the middle of a discussion thread on an Atheist blog-site, about the above title, ‘Ron’ showed up.  The following is my part of the amusement and puzzlement he caused.

Have you never read the laws of Thermodynamics, you can not create something out of nothing. Most sciencies are best guess answers. Even Darwin at the end of the day realized there was an intelligent design. Even Stephen Hawking, the physicist, knew that there was a intelligent design at work. Faith can be proven but not through man.

After the author explained that he was an engineer, we got

You can’t create something out of nothing, you don’t understand, how do you get past that.

After contradicting half a dozen commenters, and stating ‘facts’ that science clearly contradicts, he dropped

I might of misspelled the word it is a belief that everything has a spirit trees plants sun stars ect. It predates mans religion’s by thousands of years. Look around n you see the same belief structure. Faith is synonymous with belief this has lasted for thousands of years. It showed up n sumerian cuneiform about 6000 bc.

After another half dozen desperate ‘create something/nothing’ assertions, I thought that I might step in.

If the Big Bang Theory is even vaguely valid, In the Beginning, EVERYTHING existed…. every erg of energy, every quantum entanglement, every sub-atomic particle! All that has happened in the intervening 14 Billion years, is some minor rearranging.
If you want to go back before the bang happened, there was no Time, there was no Space, and there were no rules. Even now, sub-atomic particles appear to be winking into and out of existence.
There may be a parallel dimension, or an alternative Place???, which is a cosmic junkyard, and crap is just getting flushed into our Universe. But it could all occur without the need for or presence of an unverifiable God.

I got 4 likes for that comment, and this reply.

I will play your circle of reasoning before the big bang there was black matter. Black matter has a structure they just can,t figure it out. The cern collider is looking for what is called the God particle. Your argument falls to the ground.

I calmly responded

‘Inside the Universe,’ before the Big Bang occurred, no matter existed as such, including Dark Matter. If you are positing that Dark Matter exists/existed outside the universe, I am unaware of any scientific theory that it does, but you have provided a theoretical place, and a thing, where you have intimated there is ‘Nothing,’ for something to be created from, but still no proof of, or need for, “God.”
BTW; The CERN collider apparently has found the Higgs boson. As a snide, sarcastic dig at religious fundamentalists, it has been nicknamed The God Particle, because it seems to do what fundies insist only God can do, as usual, with no proof, only desperate hope.
It seems to be your argument which has collapsed.

I got 2 likes, and this rebuttal.

You quit learning there is a smaller particle then the Higgs boson. They are revamping the collider to find the next smallest particle which they call the God particle. Besides of which if you remember simple mathematics to negatives make a positive. That is Black matter it is not complicated.

The thread went on for 284 comments, at least half either from, or directed at, ‘Ron’ and his inane claims.  I decided that it was time to bow out with

The Higgs boson is called the God Particle because it is believed to give mass to matter. It does not automatically give up that title and pass it on, simply because a smaller particle(s) exists.
If a smaller particle is proven, it is unlikely that is comes from the Higgs. Even if it does, the complete, assembled boson is still required to impart mass, and the title remains.
Given the seriousness and complexity of the subject matter, it is difficult to take a discussion seriously, when the comments are replete with punctuation, spelling, usage, and construction errors. I’m done, as are you.

I didn’t want to descend to, what might be construed as a personal attack, but, honestly, I’ve had better submissions from 5th graders….but this guy appeared to believe that he understood Cosmology, Astrophysics, The Big Bang, and thermodynamics, when he couldn’t even correctly assemble a simple sentence or argument.

I recently published a post titled Desperation, in which I showed the amusing and troubling problems of trying to have a calm, reasoned discussion between Science and Christianity.  It can be done – just not if desperate, Chicken Little, hyper-Apologetics like ‘Ron’ are allowed to range free.  😯

Halloween In A Graveyard

Gravestone

I once got the chance to patrol a graveyard on a Halloween night.  I know, I know!  The excitement!  The prestige!  Where do I go to apply for a keen job like that?  Sadly, the unemployment office.

When an unethical manager had pulled the cube-drone carpet out from underneath me, I had found temporary employment with a security-guard company.  They had placed me at a St. Joseph’s Hospital as a glorified ‘Lollipop Lady’ crossing guard.  I didn’t even get to wear an orange, don’t-run-me-down vest.

The hospital had two, parallel, one-way driveways down one side.  Traffic came in on one, swung around past Receiving and the kitchens, and exited on the other.  Work on water mains had them alternatively dug up for about a week.

We stationed a guard at the front and the back, with portable radios.  If a vehicle came in, the guard at the back held any outgoing traffic until the single lane was clear, and vice versa.  Out of sight of any street traffic, the guard at the back could rest in a lawn chair until called.  We alternated every hour….until the Mother Superior looked out the window, and decided that that wasn’t fair, and decreed that no-one could rest.

It was especially busy late in the morning, because they had a Meals On Wheels program.  Civilian volunteers picked up a few meals each and delivered them.  We wouldn’t want them smashing into each other, and spilling all that delicious hospital food.

As Halloween approached, and I still hadn’t found suitable employment, the scheduler asked me if I would consider patrolling a graveyard, from 6PM till 2AM that night to prevent any vandalism or skullduggery.

The hospital sat in the middle of a long stretch of main road that didn’t have any cross-streets.  The Catholic cemetery behind the hospital (where the doctors buried their mistakes) extended back to the next road.  Two pedestrian-access walkways converged through it in a V, toward the hospital.

Another guard and I followed each other around the block-long legs of the triangle.  It never occurred to us to patrol in opposite directions, to stop and talk, and compare notes occasionally.  All went well for the first couple of hours – until the sun set.

That’s when we discovered that there were no street lights on the adjoining road, no light-posts within the cemetery, and no lights between the hospital and the cemetery.  It was a typical cloudy Halloween night…. it was pitch-black DARK back there, and nobody thought to give us flashlights.

At about 9:30, I had emerged from one of the exits, and was walking toward the other, when I saw three 15/16-year-old males enter ahead of me.  While it was light, I had found a two-foot piece of 1½ inch PVC electrical conduit on the path – a tripping hazard, especially in the dark, so I picked it up, and was carrying it, just in case.

I could hear them walking, and conversing, a hundred feet ahead of me in the Stygian gloom, although I couldn’t make out the words.  Then it got quiet.  Often, that’s not a good thing.  Suddenly, something smacked into the gravestone beside me.  Something whizzed past my ear.  Something struck the grass beside me!  Holy Crap, those little f**kers are throwing things at me.

I ducked behind a nearby gravestone, and the barrage continued.  Something bounced off the gravestone beside me.  I felt around in the dark, and found a pulped crab apple.  CLANG!  That wasn’t a crab apple that hit my cover.  More crab apples, splat, whiz, then, another CLANG off the tombstone next to me.  The moon, through a slight rift in the clouds, revealed a sharp stone, as big as a golf ball.

What in Hell am I going to do??!  We don’t have our traffic-directing radios, and if this keeps up, my fellow-guard is going to walk around the corner any moment, right into the middle of this.

“It’s okay, Bobby.  You can come out now.  We won’t throw anything else at you.”  I’m not Bobby!  “Who the hell are you?”  I’m the security guard who’s supposed to keep you from damaging anything.  Are you idiots??!  Throwing crab apples is dangerous enough, but throwing rocks at someone you can’t see, or identify – in the dark….  You could blind or kill someone!  “Sorry, we didn’t think.”  Said every teenage boy ever, just before he qualified for the Darwin Award.

Patrolling a graveyard on Halloween is an…. interesting task.  Ghosts and ghouls don’t exist, so they’re no problem.  It’s the live ones who cause all the troubles.  😯

Jack O Lantern

Happy Halloween!  Trick or Treat.  😀

HUBRIS

Pride

Most people, at least at one time or another, want to feel good about themselves, to feel special, perhaps to feel that they are a bit better at something than another person or group.  So it is with me.  I often want to feel that I am a bit more than merely ordinary.

Since my only strong points are a limited knowledge of language, and a head full of useless trivia, my chances are not frequent, but I’ll take my ‘Attaboys’ whenever I can get them.

It’s not hard to feel superior to someone who composes something like this;

Well then. Here’s the first blog! I ain’t no english culinary quesenart so bare with this innufrensious. How do you spell quesenart? HUH. No idea. I forgot what it’s like to be part of something new and have new people be fascinated with you. Haven’t felt that in a very long time. Starting this blog thang reminded me of this feeling. And, well, it’s an amazing feeling! Something I long for. Or something i’m long for? Hmmm. Well, nonethelessless. I feel I have no outlet anymore to speak my mind. And IT AIN’T FACEBOOK. That’s from a civilian though. 

To really feel good about myself, I need to outpoint a professional – a newspaper or magazine writer, or a television or movie professional, someone who is paid to be smart.  This does not include the closed-captioner who recently wrote, “Fists of steal.”

I was upstairs, working on the computer, while the wife was watching a documentary about, “The Secrets Of Ancient Rome.” The hosts are a ‘professor’ (Yeah, right!  As if!), and his well-endowed female air-head eye-candy assistant.

Out of the corner of my ear, I heard him talking about a Roman senator who was famous for his banquets, and he described these Lucullian feasts.  A couple of keystrokes assured me that they were Lucullan, as I remembered.

I went downstairs just in time to hear him talking about the baniality of something, rather than banality.  Then he claimed that the word ‘tribulations’ came from a defensive battleground weapon called a “tribulum,”  and showed a six-inch cube of timber, with six-inch nails protruding from each face.  These were strewn on a battlefield to prevent a charge by horses or infantry.

These things existed, but the Latin prefix ‘tri’ means ‘three,’ not six-sided. A ‘tribulum’ was a threshing sledge.  Then he spoke of a Roman Senator who had his throat slit, and lay on the ground, ‘chortling’ his life out.  ‘Chortling’ means to chuckle or laugh gleefully.  I can’t remember the last time someone chortled about getting his throat cut.  Maybe it was….NEVER!

The show was almost over.  There was only enough time to talk about the Coliseum.  Apparently the name had nothing to do with the “Colossal” Greek statue out front.  It fell into disrepair and was taken over by a band of witches who locked it up (all 23 doors, and nobody objected?), and wouldn’t let anyone in unless they said “colle seum,” which meant “Do you know Him?”, ‘Him’ referring to the Devil.

This is a European, Christian concept that even didn’t come into existence until almost a thousand years after “Ancient” Rome. Colle means hill, and the suffix seum means ‘referring to.’  Perhaps Google was having a company picnic the day the writers did their research.

Recently, I read an MSN quiz. If you can answer this question, you may be a psychopath.  I was hoping.

A woman who has moved away from her home town, returns for her mother’s funeral. She meets and talks to a nice man.  He is intelligent, charming and kind.  In the crush and confusion she doesn’t get his name or phone number.  She doesn’t know who he came with, or how he knows her mother.

She feels that he is the man for her, the one that she wants to spend the rest of her life with.  Three days later, she murders her sister. WHY? Apparently, only a psychopath would casually sacrifice a sister, in the hope that this man would attend another funeral.

My mind grinds fine, but exceeding slow. The next day, I said, “Wait a minute?!” Psychopaths don’t care about ‘charming,’ or ‘kind.’  They are the center and the sum total of their own existence.  They don’t need or want anyone else to ‘complete them.’  No wonder I didn’t figure this one out right away.

In previous searches of song-lyric sites, one site showed Jefferson Starship’s line, “Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitar?” as ‘in two hard guitars,’ and another gave it as ‘in two fast guitars.’  I recently searched for the lyrics to Gene Autrey’s ‘I’m Back In The Saddle Again,’ and found a reference to ‘the lowly gypsum weed.’

Apparently, out West, they’ve got plants made out of wall-board. City-slicker Wiki-providers have never heard of Jimson Weed.  I feel so superior.  I’ll feel even better if you pat my widdle head, and tell me how astute I am.  No references to OCD or nit-picking, please.