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Blondin
Northern Ontario
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." -- Richard Feynman
Interests: Astronomy, photography, computers, woodworking.
Recent Activity
I'm no good at design but I just want to say I'm looking forward to following you over at Freethought blogs, Greta. All my favorite bloggers in one convenient place.
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I decided a long time ago that funerals are for the living and I would be in no position to tell anybody how or when to grieve after I die. I told my kids that I have no expectations - if they want to have a service or memorial it's entirely up to them. I have recorded my own eulogy and they can use it or not as they see fit. That way, if anybody is offended, they can blame the dead guy. Here is what I recorded (with proper attribution to the Digital Cuttlefish): When we are dead, we’ll feed the worms And other stuff that writhes and squirms And if you cannot come to terms With that—well, use your head! There are no ifs nor ands nor buts: Bacteria within our guts Will start to eat us; that is what’s In store, once we are dead. Yes, life is short and full of toil, And when we’ve shuffled off this coil Our carcasses will start to spoil— There’s nothing wrong with that. Our share of fish or pigs or cows, And all the chicken time allows, Is done. It’s only fair that now’s The worms’ turn to get fat. Should we die young, or old and gray, The laws of nature we’ll obey And spend our heat in mere decay, Replenishing the Earth; “Three score and twelve” may be our years For love and laughter, hope and fears And then—mere smoke—life disappears; No heaven, no rebirth. And with no heaven up above Nor hell we ought be frightened of It’s best we fill our lives with love, With learning, and with fun! Don’t waste a lifetime while you wait For halo, wings, and pearly gate— This is your life, so get it straight: You only get the one! I’ll have no moment lost to prayer, To cleanse my soul and thus prepare For passage to… THERE’S NOTHING THERE! Those moments, all, are wasted! I’m only here a little time Before it’s bugs and worms and slime; I’ll eat and drink my life so I’m Delicious when I’m tasted!
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I see this same attitude sometimes in discussions about alt-med practices like Reiki, homeopathy or acupuncture (indeed alt-med and religious superstition meld in the form of faith-healing). People sometimes argue that it doesn't matter whether the treatment actually does anything. If the patient thinks it does and feels better (or at least thinks they feel better) then why pop their bubble? I have to admit that for years I was one of those people who thought I don't believe or need religion but I'm glad it's there for the folks who do. I now realize what a condescending and dangerous attitude this is. Purveyors of snake-oil and god pushers both benefit from the millions-of-satisfied-customers ploy.
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I think I was about 12 years old when I first began to suspect that God was really just a convenient 'Great Oz' who really just commanded whatever his 'followers' wanted him to command. You want to inflict some nasty shit on those other people but you know you really can't justify it? No problem - God commanded it.
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An excellent article, Greta. I will be linking to this a great deal, I think.
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Two things to think about when advocating the suppression of speech: 1) Who will you trust to decide what should be suppressed? 2) How do you know how you feel about someone else's ideas if you are not allowed to hear them? As soon as you allow any suppression of ideas you are surrendering your own freedom to hear and judge the statements/ideas of others.
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Who do I blame for the fact that all the stuff I like is not good for me and all the stuff that's good for me I don't like? If McDonalds had a special day where you could have your choice of free brussel sprouts, asparagus spears or chicken McNuggets I would go for the McNuggets (even though I do actually like brussel sprouts and asparagus spears - just not as much as McNuggets). Hormones and hunger triggers and satiety variations not withstanding how do we work around the fact that often the more healthy you make something the less appetizing it becomes?
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The problem with religion (in the usual 'supernatural' sense) is that it encourages non-scientific, illogical thinking which can lead to bad decisions or harmful actions. The kind of fuzzy thinking that supports acceptance of superstitions and sinister religious practices is hard enough to combat without new-agey, metaphorical redefinitions of terms blurring the lines. It seems to me that efforts to encourage 'less harmful types of religion' are counter-productive. If there were observed circumstances or natural occurrences that were best explained by some kind of Earth-as-a-giant-organism model then pursuing such models might have some merit but would have nothing to do with religion. Inventing superficially consistent theories just for the sake of creating a religion that is not really a religion is just adding more crap to the crap heap.
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Michael, what you have there is not a theory. You have a warm & fuzzy fantasy (just like a religion, really) and you seem to be here to seek some kind of atheist seal of approval. All those other religions are crap but yours is 'special'. Okay, I know that was hard but I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Sorry. Science is all about pursuit of truth. Your religion/fantasy seems to be all about trying to invent a deity that doesn't conflict with reality. Why? What observed phenomenon is your hive-mind hypothesis supposed to explain? Why do you feel the need to blend your religious beliefs and scientific beliefs?
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My English dictionary gives a conflicting definition so I looked at the same word in my home language for the translation and it is more correct than the English dictionary. The translation says:- Belief : Hold true. There's a solution - just find a dictionary that gives the definition you like! Seriously, I'm being flippant but I think this illustrates that words mean what we want them to mean when we say them. Context is important. It is presumptuous, disingenuous and rude to insist that people intend something they clearly don't because of dictionary definitions of words.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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I'm getting a clearer picture... For more background on the FSM try googling "Kitzmiller v Dover" or "Dover trial". You'll probably get more info on that subject than you want just from Wikipedia. For a 74 year old who recently gained internet access you're doing pretty good - probably better than I would in similar circumstances. BTW (that's internet shorthand for "by the way" by the way): Is your internet connection fast or slow?
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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Not intended as an insult. Merely a reference to the FSM. No offense, but have you been in a coma or living in a cave for some years? I'm not trying to belittle but I just find it interesting that you are a computer/internet user who seems to be just learning about web tropes like links, sock-puppets and the FSM.
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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What the hell is your point, Buster? I mentioned invisible dragons and Greta mentioned flying, fire-breathing dragons. In both cases it should be fairly obvious that these dragon references were being given as examples of things which sane people generally accept as non-existent. You keep going on about snapdragons and sea dragons as if the fact that there are plants/creatures named for a mythical beast they somewhat resemble has any bearing on the existence of their namesake. I'm surprised you haven't mentioned Komodo dragons. If I say bank, what do you see. You may could see a financial company or if you were a fisherman the bank of the river where you love to sit and fish. Because you did not see the second concept straight away the bank of the river did not exist for you at that given space of time. Your "ignorance" of the other's thoughts were therefore showing but it was not ignorance as such it was not knowing what the other person meant and jumping to conclusions based sometimes on misguided thoughts of superiority. When it is clear from context which bank (or dragon) is being discussed how does it advance the discussion to play little word games with unrelated ideas? Do you just like throwing in oblique references so you can say, "Aha! That's not the dragon I was talking about so I was right and you were wrong"? You and your cousin both seem to have a preoccupation with being "special". Far from making unqualified wild statements I think we have simply voiced justified observations about a possible case of sock-puppetry. None of which has any bearing on the discussion about atheism being a religion. I really can't think of anything new to add on that subject. Atheism is an opinion or attitude that is arrived at for various reasons by different people. There is no central canon or dogma. It simply tends to be a conclusion arrived at by people who think in terms of evidence and degrees of certainty. That is not to say there are no dogmatic atheists who claim to know things they can't possibly know. I've never met one of those but I'm sure they're out there. Pasta be with you.
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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Hold on, you can't have it both ways. If a lack of a God-like being is evidence against religion (and I agree it is), then the presence of a God-like being has to be evidence for it. But let's say that some pan-dimensional, omnipotent being appears and claims to be the actual, real, genuine creator of our universe as we know it. Suppose this being also presents some very compelling evidence to support this claim. When questioned this being indicates that all those stories and claims in various holy books and religious writings are total bullshit; the whole universe is just a cosmic housing development in a minor quadrant of the multiverse (or something). Would that confirm or disprove God? Would it confirm deism but put an end to religion?
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Buster/Theunis, The song you are singing goes back much further than Money is the Root of All Evil. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and allow that you sincerely believe everything you're telling us but your words are right out of the cranky, crackpot clairvoyant song book: "I have all these special powers and I have experienced all these magical things that fly in the face of logic/science/modern medicine/common sense." "All those other psychics, faith healers, alt-med practitioners, etc are fakes but I'm the real thing." "Of course I can provide studies and corroborating evidence of my claims! I'm just not going to." And on the subject of actually participating in a controlled experiment to test whether you really can do what you claim you can do... crickets.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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So you evade the question but I will repeat it. "I may just as well ask you to explain why you don't you use the millions ?" Are you really that obtuse or just pretending? Why would you think I have any access to millions of dollars? The James Randi Educational Foundation has a standing offer of one million dollars US "to any person or persons who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability of any kind under mutually agreed upon scientific conditions." I have no reason to believe that I have any special powers so there's no point in me applying but you... sorry, your cousin should be able to take Mr Randi's money with one hand tied behind his back. Just click on the link above to apply. Atheists throw more petty tantrums and demand more things than any group I have ever met. Not taking you at your word is throwing a tantrum? Asking for citations is making demands? Come on, now... did you really expect us to just accept your claims about telepathy, auras & dragons? You've never been challenged on those claims before? I find that almost as hard to believe as the idea that you and Theunis are not the same person. Sorry about confusing Auras, Kirlian photography and acupuncture. See, I did do some digging and found a number of flaky websites which associated them with each other. You flakes might want to get your bullshit together. Inconsistency is a bit of a giveaway.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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Only a fool would try to fool others with such a blatantly transparent statement. I think Richard Feynman was referring to himself when he made that statement. No, I am quite sure that is not what he meant. I've read a number of his books and I think I have a pretty good understanding of the point he was making. If you and your cousin really think you are incapable of being fooled, or fooling yourselves, then you are indeed fools. His point was that only the scientific method (controlled experiments, double-blind testing, peer review, replication of experiments, etc) can reliably separate the demonstrably false from the possibly true. And even then we're not really sure... I can quote the references because I have already found them but why should I. If I found them what is stopping anybody else from doing the same. If I come across a statement then I don't say bullshit prove it, I find the evidence to contradict or confirm it. I am old enough to remember when Kirlian photography was touted as a new, non-invasive diagnostic tool back in the '70s. Funny that PET, CAT, MRI and Ultrasound have all been so successful since then but you'd be hard pressed to find a doctor who's heard of Kirlian photography. I have read and heard enough about it to understand what it is and some of the physics behind it. I'm not aware of any way in which it can be used to support claims of people being able to see auras. Why wouldn't you quote references? Here's your opportunity to show me where I'm wrong; make me eat my words. Or is your evidence perhaps not quite as compelling as you claim it is? Maybe you know damn well it is inconclusive or non-existent but didn't expect anyone to call you on your bullshit? You'll never get James Randi's million dollars with that attitude. How do you expect me to explain someone else's motivations. Frankly, I'm not convinced that Theunis is someone else. If the sock fits...
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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And another thing... I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks. So you are not concerned with truth? Bullshit is okay as long as it's soothing bullshit? Christian notions about morality of condoms & abortion, murder of abortion doctors, suppression of civil rights for gays, modern day witch hunts, teaching superstition in public schools, religious oppression/subjugation of women, fatwas for blasphemy, psychic fraudsters bilking people of their life-savings... Those things don't affect you so you're fine with all that? Nobody's demanding that you march or picket or do anything but I have to wonder why you have such a problem with those of us who do care simply asking to see real evidence.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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Blondin : He said you were rather nice. Shame on you for bursting his bubble. I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks. Perhaps he isn't the savant you and he think his is. FWIW: he got my sex wrong, too. Explain to me why he wouldn't use his powers for good by claiming Randi's million and using it for some worthwhile project?
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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Maybe it shouldn't be up to atheists to devise the test for god(s). After all, atheists are not the ones making the claims. I think it's a bit like the JREF $1M challenge: it's up to the claimant to define what it is their god can do and how they intend to test it. I think Sagan's invisible dragon is good analog of this situation. Someone may claim to sincerely believe there is a dragon in their garage. You can go through the exercise of suggesting all the ways you can think of to test this claim and they can responded with explanations of why each test won't work or won't prove/disprove anything. Or you can ask them, "What convinced you?". Then you can evaluate the evidence they are basing their belief on as testable or not. I just don't see where it is up to us to invent ways to prove the null hypothesis. I think we have to be open to the idea that we are willing to be convinced by convincing evidence but somebody first has to define clearly exactly what their claims are. Instead religious claims are designed to be untestable. God is all-powerful except when he isn't. God is all-knowing except when he isn't. God is all love and wisdom except when he is jealous and spiteful. As Noam Chomsky says, "I can't even call myself an 'atheist' because it is not at all clear what I'm being asked to deny." Ultimately, even if somebody showed me/us some laws-of-physics-defying, modern-medicine-surpassing, mind-bogglingly jaw-dropping miracle, I think I would still wonder if it wasn't just a clever trick or advanced technology.
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Theunis & Buster, I know where you can pick up an easy $1 Million. "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." -- Richard Feynman
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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I should leave this alone now (especially since Theunis said he/she was leaving) but I just want to squeeze in another 2 cents worth. Theunis indicates a belief in auras, telepathy and the power of prayer. My instinctive response is to repeat the words of Richard Feynman, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." We are none of us infallible and the scientific method is the only tool we have for getting at the truth. Science may approach the truth asymptotically but approaching truth is preferable to latching on to "truths" that are nothing but dreams or wishful thinking. Most people are not stupid or wicked; they just don't realize or won't admit that none of us are as objective as we think we are. Instinct and intuition aren't all they're cracked up to be. While I do have a tendency to "live & let live" ("let sleeping dogs lie" would be more accurate) I think it is generally detrimental to all of us to not challenge flawed thinking when confronted with it. Truth does matter.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Is Atheism A Belief? at Greta Christina's Blog
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