Contents tagged with Science

  • How scientific data gets distorted

    The evil Aspartame molecule. Scary, eh?Here’s a good case study of how scientific information gets distorted. This article has sources, which is a little unusual (but they are not links, probably to discourage you from checking them out for yourself), but look at how they're used...

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    Tags: Science

    Friday, November 21, 2014 1:33:00 AM
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  • Infallible, part 3: the unoriginality and wrongness of Biblical creation

    George Lemaître, le génie du ChristianismeIn my ongoing series of posts addressing the arguments from Michael, a militant Catholic, today’s post will examine the claim that the Bible’s cosmogony is unique among creation myths in that it talks about creation ex-nihilo. In Michael’s words:

    Every culture known believed that the Earth, stars, indeed the entire universe has been present in all eternity. Creation stories abounded, but all the stories began with matter that preexisted

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  • The Kalām Cosmological Argument is a terrible argument – 1. Induction

    Not the induction we're talking about here...It’s quite amazing how often the Kalām Cosmological Argument, or some version of it, is still used by believers to justify their faith. It seems like a naive understanding of modern cosmology, coupled with confirmation bias, conspire to keep this tired argument on life support. In this series of posts, my intention is to explain some of the ways in which KCA is a terrible argument, one problem at a time. In this first post, I’ll focus on whether it’s reasonable to apply inductive reasoning to the universe.

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  • Time, causality, and prime movers

    What's beyond the sky used to be a reasonable question.Sometimes we ask the wrong questions, and answer them with bad answers. One particularly bad question is: “what was there before the Big-Bang?” There are many others, but this one requires a little mental gymnastics in order to get used to modern ideas of time and understand what the consequences are.

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  • Cartoon history

    Giordano BrunoThe Christian blogs these days seem to be erupting with outrage over a short cartoon sequence in the new Cosmos TV show. The segment in question tells the story of Giordano Bruno, and it’s… well, cartoony, both literally and figuratively. That’s not shocking on its own, the science itself in Cosmos is cartoony: biologists will cringe at inaccurate representations of a DNA molecule, astronomers will face palm when Tyson’s spaceship avoids planetoids that are in reality many orders of magnitude farther away from one another. It’s the nature of the exercise: trying to convey complex ideas to an uninitiated public in simple and entertaining images, will require simplifications, dramatization, shortcuts, and even that you’ll occasionally be plain wrong. Being a science show, maybe it was sloppier and more caricature on the history. I don’t know, I’m no historian. As long as deception is not deliberate and central to the discourse…

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  • Something you can know with 100% certainty

    A fragment of Escher's RelativityYet another supposedly gotcha question that irrational people often ask in order to unsettle their interlocutor: “can you know anything with 100% certainty?” Well, of course I can, and so can you...

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    Tags: Science

    Sunday, September 22, 2013 10:34:00 PM
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  • Infallible, part 2: Consistency is Insufficient

    Kurt GödelMichael, on his way to establish the infallibility of the Catholic Church, makes the claim that consistency is the defining characteristic of truth:

    The hallmark of truth is consistency. Error can always be shown, at the core of the argument, to
    be logically inconsistent and ultimately self­refuting. Ergo, consistency is contingent to any claim
    of truth.

    This is of course an error of monumental proportions.

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  • Infallible, part 1: Starting the Gish Gallop

    Le papeOver the past few weeks, I had an interesting discussion on Facebook with Michael, a militant Catholic, about the Catholic Church’s claim that it is infallible. Like many arguments with believers, this has rapidly morphed from a single simple problem into a full-blown Gish Gallop. I should know better, but I bit. This series of posts is a compilation of my answers to his claims.

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  • My heroes are all dead: 1. DNA

    And by DNA I don’t mean deoxyribonucleic acid, I mean Douglas Noel Adams, whom you probably know as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

    There are only two people that I didn’t know, whose death made me cry: Pierre Desproges and Douglas Adams. Both wrote prodigious comedy with surprising depth, but Adams was also an outspoken Atheist, and used science as a foundation of his storytelling. Preferably weird science, like quantum mechanics.

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  • Arguments from authority?

    Round-Earth is just a theoryDespite appearances, there is a fundamental difference between arguments from authority (or from majority) and scientific knowledge. That fundamental difference is that attacks, independent verification and repeatability are not only expected but necessary to the whole process.

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    Tags: Science

    Saturday, March 31, 2012 11:23:13 PM
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