I was lucky enough to edit Aaron Adair’s superb book The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View which looks at the claims within the Gospel of Matthew concerning the Star of Bethlehem. Over the many hundreds of years, various people have advanced theories to explain the apparent phenomenon, to triple conjunctions of planets and stars to comets, from hypernovae to UFOs. Yes, UFOs. Aaron has started getting on the speaking circuit to talk about his favoured subject, and may even be compiling a book looking into the Bible and astronomy
This was a post from Arnold Schwarzenegger to his facebook page. Brilliant: I don’t give a **** if we agree…
I want you to consider the possibility that your parents did not shape you as a person. Despite how it feels, your mother and father (or whoever raised you) likely imprinted almost nothing on your personality that has persisted into adulthood. Pause for a minute and let that heresy wash across your synapses. It flies in the face of common sense, does it not? In fact, it’s the type of claim that is unwise to make unless you have some compelling evidence to back it up. Even then it will elicit the ire of many.
I don’t really bother with Creationists any more as they aren’t worth my effort. I’ll leave it to scientists… This is from the Wall Street Journal:
Scientists have documented three species of wasps turning into three new species, an unusual close-up view of rapid evolution in action.
I know this has done the rounds. I often refer back to similar experiments which have show that TMS can alter moral judgements, as this BBC article shows:
Scientists have shown they can change people’s moral judgements by disrupting a specific area of the brain with magnetic pulses.
This is so important an article (and paper it is derived from) that I had to share it. The final few paragraphs are powerful. Climate skeptics who claim to be the “real scientists” are so very wrong. It’s about time climate scientists fought back! From the Guardian:
Those who reject the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming often invoke Galileo as an example of when the scientific minority overturned the majority view. In reality, climate contrarians have almost nothing in common with Galileo, whose conclusions were based on empirical scientific evidence, supported by many scientific contemporaries, and persecuted by the religious-political establishment. Nevertheless, there’s a slim chance that the 2–3% minority is correct and the 97% climate consensus is wrong.
This article is from the National Geographic and should put paid to some Creationists claims that we cannot see evolution in action:
Evolution has been caught in the act, according to scientists who are decoding how a species of Australian lizard is abandoning egg-laying in favor of live birth.
Of all the myths surrounding abortion, I feel that the assertion that it leads to depression and suicide must rank as the most odious. It is a perennial favourite of anti-abortion groups. Anti-abortion campaigners call it PAS – post-abortion-syndrome, a term coined by Dr Vincent Rue. Rue is a prolific anti-abortion campaigner who testified before the US Congress in 1981 that he had observed post-traumatic stress syndrome in women who had undergone abortions.
I was recently having a private conversation about humanity and whether we are uniquely different from all other creatures in such a way that naturalistic evolution could not explain the step change from primates to us. As a naturalist who has read a fair bit on evolution and evolutionary psychology, I obviously disagree with such a claim.
This will definitely be TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read), but…
In discussing some thing on a private thread with a fellow Tippling Philosopher, I have written quite a bit on free will, evolution and evolutionary psychology which I would hat to go to waste and would love to keep for reference and posterity. None is ground-breaking or anything you wouldn’t know, but there are some good links to refer to in future conversations.
I recently had the pleasure of having an interview/conversation on the subject of Big Bang Cosmology and the implications for the universe having an absolute beginning. The question is also wrapped up with theistic claims that a god is a necessary precursor to the universe (or not). Also, some will argue that the Big Bang is just the scientists’ way of avoiding the conclusion that God made everything.
Great news for those following the exploits of the first lander to find purchase on a comet (Philae). As the…
In light of the recent evolutionary discussions – a Creationist/evolutionist ding dong – over on this post, I thought I would choose one of dozens of evolutionary discoveries in the last few weeks alone to share with you. My question would be: how do deniers explain each and every one of these findings? Here it is:
In a new study, published in Nature this week, a research team led from Uppsala University in Sweden presents the discovery of a new microbe that represents a missing link in the evolution of complex life. The study provides a new understanding of how, billions of years ago, the complex cell types that comprise plants, fungi, but also animals and humans, evolved from simple microbes.
James A Lindsay, whose awesome book Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly I edited, recently penned an article with PEter Boghossian and the late Vic Stenger, which has just been released by Scientific American. The article is called “Physicists Are Philosophers, Too”.download (4)
Here is an excerpt:
This video is pretty good at pointing out that Creationists with PhDs are essentially for show. Using Dr. Russell Humphreys as an example, he shows that the journal/paper writing and citation frequency is far below other scientists, and so such people don’t advance science in any meaningful way, and the application of their PhDs is very limited indeed.
I have been having a long-standing argument with a relative newcomer to our pub philosophy group (The Tippling Philosophers) over free will. He believes in libertarian free will, though it does appear to be largely based on an argument from wishful thinking and being unwilling to confront the ramifications of not having it, rather than a robust understanding of the philosophical debate.
Dr Caleb Lack has had three books published on my Onus Books imprint and I am glad to announce his fourth; this time he has edited and contributed to an important anthology dealing with the psychology and treatment of OCD. This book provides a vital reference of experts and students in the field, to psychologists seeking an academic companion to their work or studies. Here is Caleb’s post welcoming its publication:
A spokesperson for Australian Homeopathic Association has released a statement today conceding that they are “baffled” by the concept of cordial.
Homeopathy, an alternative medicine practice dating back to the 18th century, operates under the principle that water holds “memory” and that a substance will increase in efficacy as it is diluted in solution.
I have made sticky (sent to the top of the blog post list) the post Andreas Schueler wrote about the…
Bad skeptics suck. The BBC reports: A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that…