Skeptic’s critique of Skepticism: Science Ed

Today I heard a very compelling argument of being a Skeptic of Skepticism by Science Punk Frank Swain. This was part of the WestMinster Skeptics in the Pub. You can hear it as a podcast @ Pod Delusion.

What I gathered from Frank’s argument is that if trying to promote scientific method and scientific learning, leaning only on the facts is not going to work. To connect, there needs to be a good story and an appeal to emotions. The story needs to be told in a way that touches people. That’s why series like RadioLab are so popular and are absolutely brilliant in their ability to promote the science.

They focus on individuals, add humor which includes slapstick, create tension of opposing view points – essentially keeping the attention  without straying away from the latest scientific knowledge. And the best thing about it is that it is one of the few podcasts that my wife would listen along with me (and enjoy it as much as I do).

Sometimes looking at the question from different perspectives as RadioLab does is just what is required for things to move forward beyond the usual “I am right because I know the facts as science tells me and you are an ignorant idiot who still believes in fairy tales” and at least have a basis of engagement that would be good for all. RadioLab tells stories as we all love to listen, science just intertwines through them – naturally. I would leave you with the first RadioLab that I listened to.

Planet Money goes to the Medieval ages

Here is an incredible podcast.

Knights are extortionists. Guilds knock down your house if you don’t play by their rules. And you have to wait until the black death kills a third of Europe before anything changes.

 One of the points that Dinesh D’Souza consistently makes during his debates is that Christianity is the root of Science. See Chapter eight of his book “What’s so Great about Christianity

This Planet Money podcast knocks that down a few notches and shows how religion inspired Guilds kept innovation down and  stopped entrepreneurship. The only reason we came out of the medieval ages is due to the black death that destroyed these guilds to allow for industry to flourish and not due to Christianity.

Being an Atheist improves your brain

One advantage of many during my journey understanding Atheism is learning a host of brand new words. This blog is some what a tongue in cheek allusion to the perception of Atheists being elitist, but it is quite true that you would learn words that you won’t normally see otherwise. Some of these words were found while reading up about Atheism. A significant number of the atheist authors that I read are scientists in some respect and their words describe scientific properties and methodology.

It is fascinating as to how your language changes based on your world view. Just as we have heard the Inuits having 50+ odd words for ice, the language cannot be independent of the culture and location where it is spoken. So the new words that you learn show the realm you are stepping into.Here are few samples from words that I looked up with relevant meanings from dictionary.com. I may have more blogs about the words as I find them.

  • Anisotropic
    • –adjective
      1. Physics . of unequal physical properties along different axes.Compare isotropic ( def. 1 ) .
      2. Botany . of different dimensions along different axes
  • Auteur
    • a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over allelements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp
    • –adjective
      1. Physics . of equal physical properties along all axes. Compare anisotropic ( def. 1 ) .
      2. Zoology . lacking axes that are predetermined, as in some eggs.
  • Epistemology
    • –noun
      a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.
  • Eschatology
    • –noun Theology .
      1. any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc.
      2. the branch of theology dealing with such matters.
  • Screed
    • –noun
      1. a long discourse or essay, especially a diatribe.
      2. an informal letter, account, or other piece of writing.
  • Ineffable
    • –adjective
      1. incapable of being expressed or described in words;inexpressible: ineffable joy.
      2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.

Visiting NJ made sexy by Science Friday

Never thought I would say this, but I wouldn’t mind visiting NJ – the town of Franklin some day to see the beautiful “Rock Stars“, some of them as old as the Rolling Stones .

In 1968, the New Jersey Senate decreed the town of Franklin a geological wonder: “The Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World.” Over 350 different minerals have been found in the area, ninety of which glow brilliantly under ultraviolet light. There are two mineral museums devoted to fluorescing rocks, the region’s unusual geology and its zinc mining history. 

Caravaka

Caravaka a.k.a Carvaka

I thought I would start this blog with something about myself and regarding the title Caravaka which is also know as Carvaka.I am a Secular Humanist: Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. I came to Humanism when I figured that I was an Atheist (so is everybody in this world, they just don’t know it yet). I am a member of American Humanist Association.Here is a bit of my back story. My heritage is Hindu – specifically Gowda Saraswath Brahmin (GSB). While religion has been important part of my life, I had been brought up to think critically and always had questions regarding why we are doing certain rituals, why do we have to have a god etc. The turning point for me was when I read the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I was browsing in the local library (around 2009-2010 don’t remember exactly) when I came across this book and was stunned to have a book with that title. I just had to read it. My life, my world view, has improved quite a bit since then, it’s a feeling of having shackles removed. I believe that I am a moral, ethical person and religion / god is not necessary to be moral. I see that religion quite often gets in the way of being moral and ethical.

Today (when I first posted, it was May 11) I read about Carvaka. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the philosophy existed that long back in India. Since I had been searching for a title for my blog, and considering my heritage, I thought that the name Caravaka would be appropriate.

I have to admit that I have not actually steeped myself in Carvaka philosophy, other than knowing the tag line “a system of Indian philosophy that assumes various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference”. It is quite feasible that the chosen blog title would bite me in the behind at some point. I would always like to be considered a Humanist and not a defender of Carvaka philosophy.

These are again the main items I saw in the philosophy – Again, while I am not supporting them, I do not have any quarrel with them either. They seem to have parallels to current Humanism.

No life after death – The Carvaka believed there was no afterlife, no life after death
Naturalism – The Carvaka believed in a form of naturalism, that is that all things happen by nature, and come from nature (not from any deity or Supreme Being).
Sensual indulgence – Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, the Carvaka believed there was nothing wrong with sensual indulgence, and that it was the only enjoyment to be pursued. (This is the one I have some what of ambivalence on since it can easily be spun negatively)
Religion is invented by man – The Carvaka believed that religion was invented and made up by men, having no divine authority.

I was inspired to start this blog by the Friendly Atheist: Hemant Mehta especially after reading his reddit Q&A and also reading Justin Griffith. I believe they are amazing and brave human beings and support them in what they are doing.

FYI – I started out on Blogger, but moved to WordPress after the site crashed and wouldn’t let me back in.