scepticism

On the Blasphemy Challenge: A Quakerly Perspective

Published on Thursday, 15 March 2012

Over the past few years many people participated in the "Blasphemy Challenge", which asked people to submit a video denouncing the Holy Spirit. I found this quite absurd.

When diet and exercise aren't enough...

Published on Thursday, 16 February 2012

I think this is of the most cruelly deceptive phrases in modern advertising. Firstly, no one wants to change their diet. Secondly, exercise takes time and effort and, at least at first, is quite unpleasant. Taking a pill is ridiculously easy to do.  So essentially this advertising phrase applies to everyone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, adult-onset diabetes or other "lifestyle-related" diseases for which there are profitable pharmaceuticals (or "alternative" treatments, for that matter). It should really be "when diet and exercise don't seem appealing...".

Medicine that Works...

Published on Monday, 28 November 2011

I was at the drug store today to pick up some vitamin D. Living in the dark, cold north requires a bit of extra vitamin D. My levels are particularly low. The label said that any claims on the vitamins had not been evaluated by the FDA for efficacy in the treatment, prevention, or amelioration of any disease. Most of the vitamins on the shelf had doses that were ridiculously high. Being a relatively unregulated market, how does one determine whether the pills will do anything at all or worse, do something bad to you.

No side effects—no effects!

Published on Monday, 26 September 2011

I saw a box of tablets at the coop check-out the other day. The "active ingredient" was at a level less than the equivalent of one molecule in Lake Superior. The box proudly proclaimed: "no side effects!" How amazing! A drug that treats exactly and only the ailment for which it was indicated. This means there is a drug out there that is more effective than the immune system itself.  When you have a cold much of the drowsy, low energy feeling you get is due to your immune system combatting the illness. The virus does not cause that feeling itself, your immune system does.

What makes you so certain?

Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What makes you so certain? Are you sure you have controlled for your confirmation biases? Wouldn't it be wise to double-check just in case? How would you double-check for real if you are already so sure you are right? Consider reading On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton. Certainty is an emotional state whose emergence does not require perfect data.

Defending Freedom

Published on Friday, 15 July 2011

Why do our soldiers have to keep dying for our freedom when the soldiers in other countries that are just as free as us don't? Why should we trust politicians who tell us the soldiers are dying for our freedom when we seem so distrustful of them in all other situations? Shouldn't we be most distrustful of them in matters of war-making?

Faith vs. Idolatry

Published on Monday, 04 July 2011

If God were to come to you directly and contradict what is written in the Bible, would you believe God or the Bible? At what point does embracing scripture become idolatry that blinds you to the workings of the divine in the world?

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