Fallacious Arguments, 1962 February 14, 2008Posted by Joe in argument, fallacy, internet, language, logic, psychology, skepticism.
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Looks like argumentation was about the same now as it was then. It probably wouldn’t be very hard to find examples of all these fallacies on WordPress blogs.
Strong vs. Weak July 13, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, evidence, freethought, god, psychology, skepticism, theism.
Some atheists often separate themselves into two subtly distinct groups; the “weak” atheists and the “strong” atheists.
Weak atheism is defined as a lack of belief in any god or gods. They haven’t seen compelling evidence that a god exists so their default stance is not to form any god belief.
Strong atheism is a positive belief that there is no god. They have an actual belief that no god exists
Proof vs. Evidence June 19, 2007Posted by Joe in belief, creationism, evolution, fallacy, freethought, logic, psychology, science.
The Hovind challenge referenced yesterday repeatedly called for “scientific proof” of evolution. There is no proof in science. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol. You cannot prove anything in science to a certainty, though you can disprove a lot. All scientific theories are tentative and subject to revision. Even the “law of” gravity is subject to revision, and in fact was revised by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Science is about evidence. Evidence is the result of a structured scientific experiment or observation that supports the claims of a theory. In order to be useful a different outcome for the experiment or observation must be able to falsify or disprove the theory.
That is, there must be a well defined result that if observed would demonstrate that the theory would be false. Every experiment or observation must be structured to test the theory, thus allowing the possibility for it to fail. A theory can be disproved by a single verifiable counter-example, but no amount of confirming evidence can ever demonstrate a theory to 100% certainty.
Hovind’s $250,000 June 18, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, Kent Hovind, logic, psychology, science, skepticism.
The inimitable Kent Hovind has had his $250,000 dollar version of The Amazing Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge offered for anyone who can “give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.*” available since 1990. (The quoted star is significant, because you have to prove his straw man of evolution to capture the prize.)
Here is how Hovind defines evolution:
Evolution is presented in our public school textbooks as a process that:
1. Brought time, space, and matter into existence from nothing.
2. Organized that matter into the galaxies, stars, and at least nine planets around the sun. (This process is often referred to as cosmic evolution.)
3. Created the life that exists on at least one of those planets from nonliving matter (chemical evolution).
4. Caused the living creatures to be capable of and interested in reproducing themselves.
5. Caused that first life form to spontaneously diversify into different forms of living things, such as the plants and animals on the earth today (biological evolution).
The Demon-Haunted World June 18, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, books, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, freethought, god, language, life, media, NASA, politics, psychology, reading, religion, science, skepticism, space exploration, theism.
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It’s been more than I decade since Carl Sagan wrote A Demon-haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark, But even as I reread it today its message is as timely as ever. The survival of our way of life depends entirely our scientific knowledge and how we apply it. Yet we have created a society where the vast majority have no knowledge of the methods or findings of science and no knowledge of how the technology they use everyday actually works.
Furthermore we have media and politicians that present everyday anti-science attitudes, watered down and pop-culture simplifications of science, and present pseudo-science uncritically.
Everyone should read this book; theist or atheist; “evolutionist” or creationist. Whatever your stripe you will get something out of it and enjoy the trip.
Carl Sagan explains what makes science the best way we have to know what is:
Some people consider science arrogant, nevertheless, I maintain that science is part and parcel humility. Scientists do not seek to impose their needs and wants on Nature, but instead humbly interrogate Nature and take seriously what they find. We understand human imperfection. We insist on independent and to the extent possible, quantitative verification of proposed tenets of belief. We are constantly prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs.