In our everyday lives, we are bombarded with a lot of misinformation and nonsense from a variety of sources. Some of them are very close to us – family, friends etc, while others are authority figures in our society – reporters, doctors, astrologers, religious leaders and not least of all scientists. But how much of this information is true and how can we know whether a person is spewing mindless nonsense or has a valid claim?
In this video from RichardDawkins Foundation, famous atheist and editor of Skeptic magazine Dr. Michael Shermer gives us a list of 10 questions that he wants us to ask ourselves before lending credence to any claim. Even though we may not need to ask all 10 questions in order to determine whether a claim is false or not, it is a great starting point to investigate lot of unscientific claims. I am sure if you ask these questions about the things you are told you will find that many of them don’t stand up to critical enquiry. Try it out on the next pseudo-scientific claim you hear of.
For the past month and a half, I have been going though a phase that I can only refer to as “blog-fatigue”. With increasing work-loads (due to layoffs in our company) and imminent deadlines, finding time for this hobby has been difficult of late. Researching and writing posts for my blog and reading my favorite blogs and commenting on them has taken a backseat to the more immediate need of meeting deadlines.
I have learnt from experience that momentum and habit is a very important aspect of blogging (or anything for that matter). Once the momentum slackens, it takes much more effort to revive a blog. In fact, that’s probably one of the reasons why so many blogs disappear into oblivion after a promising start (I guess, in addition to something that every blogger goes through – writer’s block).
So, with that in mind, I have decided to keep posting bits and pieces of interesting news, videos, links etc that I have come across to keep up the momentum and save the longer posts for times when I am more available to think and write about them.
Btw, I would also like to apologize to the readers of this blog for not being regular in replying to your comments or not managing to read some of your blogs. I hope to find more time soon to go through them.
Well, here are a few hilarious videos I came across from the famous Mr. Deity series, satirizing the God of the Bible. In these series of videos (there’s about 22 of them as of this writing and you can find them at mrdeity.com or on youtube) God is seen discussing his plans with his assistant and Jesus about creation, evil, sin, the fate of humanity and various other things on earth. The videos are hilarious. Check them out.
For those of you who are following the protests over massive election fraud in Iran, I am attaching a few photos I came across (in case you haven’t seen them already).
The Iranian Government has been trying really hard to stop news or images coming out of Iran but thanks to twitter, flickr, youtube and other websites we have been able to see the real magnitude of the uprising. It’s thrilling to witness how technology has changed the rules of the game and empowered so many people fighting for their rights in Iran. I didn’t have the time to go through many of the photos (there are thousands) but some of the photos are a testimony to the police/government brutality and some are plain gruesome. If you find a photo, link or a video worth sharing please leave a link to it in the comments sections.
Does astrology have a scientific basis. Can astrological claims be validated by scientific methods (I understand that there are various types of astrology. Here I will be talking only about astrological predictions derived from natal charts)?
Recently, I had a chance to discuss this topic with a few friends of mine. Even though we disagreed, I think it was a fruitful discussion. So, in this post I will try to answer some of the questions which were brought up during the discussion and hopefully will also be able to clarify some commonly held misconceptions about the scientific method.
The debate about the compatibility of science and astrology has been going on for quite some time now. And, going by how many astrologers swear by it or the number of times we hear it repeated (ad nauseum if I may add) by our spiritual quacks in the mainstream media or by the “I-am-an-engineer-so-I-understand-science” crowd at parties and gatherings everywhere, you may think there must be some truth to it. But is there really? Do people making such claims even know what science constitutes? The statement “astrology is a science” seems to resonate more with Joseph Goebbels (the Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany) famous words “A lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth.”
So let us dive into the labyrinthine clutter of lies and false excuses and see if we can salvage a part of our lost self-esteem which we so selflessly sacrificed to those brain dead astrologers the moment we looked at our natal charts or even save a few billion neurons to keep us from moving down the IQ ladder to a range reserved for people who can only be referred to as “DUH”.
I was on vacation last week, so I am a little late in posting this report on the results from the One Million Rupees Election Results Prediction Challenge to Astrologers by the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations.
Astrologers often claim that they can accurately predict the future of anything (not just personal fortunes but societal, geographic, financial etc) based on the position of the planets in our solar system. In fact, every election cycle, we see these charlatans on TV and newspapers, confidently predicting the election results (which often turn out to be incorrect). The Indian Rationalist Associations have been challenging astrologers to prove their supernatural claims and predict the election results for quite some time now. But, unfortunately every time a challenge like this had been thrown at astrologers, the planets, it seems had colluded against the astrologers to bring about their dismal failure ( often their performance is worse than what any of us could do with a simple coin toss).
This article summarizing the results of the most recent challenge was originally published on Nirmukta.com by Prof. Narendra Nayak who is the President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations. The full article is posted here with kind permission of Prof. Nayak and Nirmukta.
Full Article Follows
I read about this fossil today on Pharygula. Those of you who find evolution interesting may find this discovery fascinating (although if I read correctly this was discovered in the 1980s but made public only recently).
Via BBC News (check out the videos at this link)
The beautifully preserved remains of a 47-million-year-old, lemur-like creature have been unveiled in the US.
The preservation is so good, it is possible to see the outline of its fur and even traces of its last meal.
The fossil, nicknamed Ida, is claimed to be a “missing link” between today’s higher primates – monkeys, apes and humans – and more distant relatives.
But some independent experts, awaiting an opportunity to see the new fossil, are sceptical of the claim.