I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.
Thomas Jefferson

May 2nd, 2009

Saddam’s legal advice

posted by Shinka in Politics | 6 Comments

Going back through a few links in my RSS feed, I found this little gem regarding the legal advice given to the Bush administration regarding torture, and whether prosecution should be undertaken.

If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now.

April 24th, 2009

A review of The Language of God by Francis Collins

posted by Shinka in Books, Religion | 50 Comments

In The Language of God, Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, argues, unlike other scientists who have published articles on the subject recently, that science and religion are completely and compatible and that science does not lead to atheism.

However, his attempts to reconcile science and religion are met with little success. His arguments are in no way novel, and his primary argument for the existence of a deity is based off of C.S. Lewis’ argument from Moral Law; that we all have an intrinsic moral sense, and this moral sense must have been given to us by God. Now, the fact that I disagree with the Moral Law argument wouldn’t be as bad if it didn’t seem that Collins had not read any further on theology than reading Lewis. He merely quotes Lewis as a justification for this belief and doesn’t address any criticisms of it.

December 1st, 2007

9/11 and Testable Hypotheses

posted by Shinka in Skepticism | 6 Comments

How do we determine the truth of something? How do we know what really happened? During the course of any investigation into whether something is true or not, any claim that is made needs to be testable/disprovable, otherwise it has no value. For example, let’s say that I claim that there is an invisible dragon on my shoulder that tells me what to do. There’s no reason for you to believe me unless I can provide some evidence. If you try to grab at it, I can say it was on the other shoulder. If you grab again, I can say it hopped away outside of your reach. If I provide no further way to test this claim then you have absolutely no reason to believe me, especially if the claim presupposed things which are contrary to established knowledge (namely that dragons do not exist, nor are any creatures invisible).

October 15th, 2007

The Galileo Fallacy

posted by Shinka in Freethought, Skepticism | 2 Comments

I just found a wonderful article on the common phenomenon, in our culture and especially on the internet, of the Galileo Fallacy. That people who have unpopular ideas must be right because people who have been attacked due to their unpopular ideas in the past turned out to be right.

There’s a form of very bad thinking that I see a lot in some very smart, thoughtful people.

The thinking goes like this:

“Great thinkers throughout history have had unpopular ideas that everyone disagreed with.

“I have an unpopular idea that everyone disagrees with.

Denialists don’t remember

posted by Shinka in Skepticism | 4 Comments

There’s a nice short article in AlterNet about AIDS and vaccine denialism. One contributing factor they find in how denialism continues is short collective and individual memories.

No. She doesn’t remember.

And that’s the problem.

The Arrogant Case for a Creator

posted by Shinka in Site Info | 3 Comments

I consider myself an open-minded person. I try not to pre-judge things and I am willing to change my mind about my own opinions if I find new and compelling evidence. I am skeptical of the claims of all major religions, not based upon anything I might wish to be true about them, but rather what seems to be the case based on an objective analysis of the facts. However, some people might accuse me of not being as open-minded as I profess based upon my collection of books. Of the books that I have read, very few are from an explicitly Christian perspective, which might prompt some to claim that I am biased or only willing to read things that already reinforce my pre-concieved views.

October 14th, 2007

People should not be afraid of their governments

posted by Shinka in Politics | 1 Comment

Naomi Wolf, author of End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot has a new post at The Huffington Post talking about her concerns over the rise of fascist policies of the U.S. government.

October 3rd, 2007

Myers skewers The Spiritual Brain

posted by Shinka in Science | 4 Comments

We need to get PZ Myers to write more book reviews.

Whoa. Bryan Appleyard has reservations about the book. That tells you how bad it has got to be. If you show your new baby to your sister, and she doesn’t scrunch up her face and say “OOOH, she’s cute widdle one!” but instead starts talking about the miracles plastic surgery can do, you know you’ve got a really ugly baby. This book is one ugly baby. It’s the baby that would inspire your sister to get her tubes tied to prevent the possibility of repeating your mistake.

Entertainment industry considers its customers criminals

posted by Shinka in Entertainment, Music | No Comments

Hopefully this isn’t reflective of the music industry as a whole, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.
A lawyer for Sony BMG, Jennifer Pariser has views that I believe are endemic of movements within the larger entertainment industry:

Pariser has a very broad definition of “stealing.” When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.

August 23rd, 2007

Ben Stein’s Victimization

posted by Shinka in Freethought, Science, Skepticism | 2 Comments

I thought it might be telling to keep an eye on the Expelled blog and see what’s going on there. Ben Stein has a new post which is rather cryptic [edit: the post has been inexplicably removed]. It basically is setting out to create a climate of victimization (which the film seems to be doing as well) starting out with a quote attributed to Jonny Cash.

It’s good to be hated by the right people.”

I’m not quite sure what to make of the following quote, though if it turns out to be some sort of parody, I’ll be pleasantly surprised (though I’m not holding my breath).