Here is a great lesson for paranormalists: Make sure you exhaust all the avenues of “normal” before you conclude “paranormal”. In almost all cases, you CAN get to a sound explanation.
Fairfax photographer Joe Armao spent an entire night studying the strange, hair-raising blur on one of his pictures before reaching the conclusion it was the result of a highly unusual combination of the Gallipoli dusk, a tiny movement of his camera, the 2.5-second exposure period and a weird dark space on the frame created by a gravestone flower in the close foreground.
Armao was astounded when one frame of a series of pictures he took Tuesday evening at Beach Cemetery beneath the old Anzac battlefields revealed what appeared to be the shape of a figure in a broad-brimmed hat lurking in the gloom.
He had never seen something like this, there was no one standing there at the time but the place had a rich history. Was this a ghost? Or two?
The key here is that the photographer was no believer. He wasn’t going to take a cheap paranormal cop-out explanation for something that could be interesting and important to him. He was able to find out that the technology could be glitchy. The camera DID lie. It created an image where there was none – an image of nothingness. It’s counterintuitive and much harder to get to the real answer, isn’t it?
I found this fascinating and a lesson that paranormalist FAIL TO HEED ALL THE TIME. When their half-baked sham investigations come across an anomaly in audio, photos or video, they immediately jump to a conclusion that this is evidence of the paranormal. Nope, it’s almost certainly evidence of ignorance in what is happening. They just won’t ferret out the most sound answer. Even experts can be stumped. For a little while.
I am thrilled that this was properly investigated and just hope it doesn’t continue to circulate instead as evidence of a ghost soldier in the cemetery.
In a life filled with unknowns, one of the few constants is the certainty of death. Some people believe that it’s just the beginning of another life, whether in heaven, hell or reincarnated. But for humanists, atheists and others who reject claims of human existence persisting beyond the brain’s functioning, death is the final stage. Nothing, neither good nor bad, comes after that final moment.
While the prospect of permanent nonexistence is terrifying for some, it can also be comforting. As humanists, we don’t bank on an afterlife unsupported by the evidence. Instead as John Lennon said, “with no hell below us, and above us only sky” we live for today. This means that regardless of our spiritual state or acts on earth, there will be no punishment in the beyond. And without an afterlife, there’s no reason to adopt outdated rules, such as those found in Christian bibles that prohibit enjoying Texas barbecue, going clean shaven, wearing stretch cotton or working on Sundays. As the Great Agnostic of the 19th Century, Robert Ingersoll once said, “I would rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.”
Whether someone is religious or not, dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. People are understandably vulnerable in such situations. So, of course, nobody would be so insensitive as to proselytize at funerals, right? Wrong! How many of us have experienced a priest, minister or rabbi using a funeral as an excuse to try introducing or reintroducing the grieving into the fold? I’ve experienced this myself a few times. I objected to the proselytizing in these moments because it excluded and divided people at a time that calls for inclusion and solidarity….
Apologists like William Lane Craig will argue that you can not derive and ought from an is. That is a catchy way to say that just because things are a certain way, that doesn’t mean you ought act in any particular way. They say that god can be the only objective judge of what we ought to or ought not to do. Otherwise, they say, it becomes purely a matter of arbitrary opinion. As if it’s not arbitrary if it’s God’s opinion.
There are a couple of fatal flaws in this reasoning:
First, since god doesn’t actually talk to us and since the holy books are entirely understood through subjective human interpretation, this idea does nothing but simply invoke an unseen authority to support those “arbitrary” opinions that the faithful are so worried about.
If you believe that God demands that you terrorize infidels or homosexuals (for instance) as a moral imperative, while another person believes that God’s law is to love your fellow man no matter what, which one represents the objective moral standard that the faithful are so sure of? The scriptures have effectively been used to reach both conclusions. Compassionate believers find scriptures to support compassion and love while hateful believers find scriptures to support judgment and hate. The scriptures are nothing but a post hoc explanation to support values that originate from humans.
Secondly, the only thing that can offer an objective moral directive is the consideration of consequences. The path from “is” to “ought” is defined by “if”. This is just as true for religious morality as it is for the secular version.
Moral standard: don’t murder..
Religious: if you want to go to heaven/don’t want to go to hell
Secular: if you don’t want to live in a world where you or your loved ones are subject to murder, or don’t want to be branded a murderer and ostracized from society.
For the faithful, the “if” simply comes down to consequences in the afterlife. For the secular, the “if” comes down to consequences here and now. It’s just that the former is disconnected from the consequence of actual human and societal well being and the latter is based on it.
Some argue that their god’s moral imperatives come down to societal consequences as well. For instance, they will argue that homosexuality is forbidden by their God because it is bad for society. Well, in that case there must be evidence for this harm, and if there is what need do we have for god? Since there is no evidence for harm done to society by equal rights for gay people, secular moral world views tend to not see any problem with it. But since some people find it plain icky for two men to have sex, they use god has a post hoc explanation as to why it’s immoral and why they’re justified in there bigotry.
(CNN) — Seventy one years ago — December 22, 1942 — Congress got the United States out of what had turned into an unexpectedly embarrassing situation.
It concerned the Pledge of Allegiance — specifically, something called the Bellamy Salute.
Most people today have likely never heard of it, but the Bellamy Salute was once a constant part of the country’s life.
Until 1892, there was no such thing as a Pledge of Allegiance.
Daniel Sharp Ford, the owner of a magazine called Youth’s Companion, was on a crusade to put American flags in every school in the country. He sensed that the U.S. needed a boost of patriotism. Keep in mind: Not even 30 years before, the Civil War had still been raging. National unity was a fragile concept.
As part of the campaign, Sharp gave an assignment to a member of his staff: Francis J. Bellamy, who was an author, a minister and an advocate of the tenets of Christian socialism. Sharp asked Bellamy to compose a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Bellamy wrote it, and it was published in the magazine.
It didn’t take long for the Pledge to become wildly popular, even omnipresent. At schools, at campgrounds, at public gatherings, in Congress, people routinely faced the flag and pledged their allegiance to it.
Because, inherently, there is something physically awkward about people simply standing in place, their arms hanging limply by their sides, staring at a flag and reciting a pledge, it was decided that devising a salute would be appropriate.
Instructions for carrying out the salute were printed in the pages of Youth’s Companion. The gesture came to be called the Bellamy Salute, in honor of the Pledge’s author.
The Bellamy Salute consisted of each person — man, woman or child — extending his or her right arm straight forward, angling slightly upward, fingers pointing directly ahead.
With their right arms aiming stiffly toward the flag, they recited: “I pledge allegiance…”
For a while, the salute wasn’t especially controversial.
But, as World War II was forming in Europe, and Italians and Germans began saluting Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler with extended-armed “Heil Hitler!”-style gestures…
This episode is bursting with conspiracy theories and strange hypotheses, but that doesn’t stop your own personal astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson from dropping some serious science. You’ll learn why the government isn’t secretly using HAARP to manipulate weather and why we shouldn’t dispose of pollution in our atmosphere. Find out where black holes go when they die, why there is no speed of dark, what would happen to the planets if we moved the Sun, the difference between black holes and white holes, and whether we could use quantum teleportation to explore inside a black hole. Neil also explains atmosphere, air pressure and vacuums, why hot air rises but air is colder at higher altitudes, and why time passes differently on Jupiter than on Earth. Plus, he tells comic co-host Eugene Mirman how to use physics to communicate with a 3-meter tall alien “gummy bear.”
Death fascinates humans, and probably always has. The oldest extant epic, that of Gilgamesh, directly addresses the question of why death exists. With Easter on its way, it seems timely to remember a religious figure who died and came back to life—I’m just not sure which one to choose. World mythology is full of religious figures who have undergone resurrection. Here are ten of the more interesting stories
In regards to the Francis Bacon post. Didn't the term"philosophy", in Bacon's time, include what we now would call "science"? Wasn't "natural philosophy" the term? Maybe he was thinking in those terms.
This insight is anachronistic. In the modern day, it’s simply wrong. Does depth in philosophy bring people’s minds to religion? Statistics disagree with that conclusion. One move that should be called out is Bacon’s conflation of religion and Christianity. Christianity isn’t the only religion, but his quote should end with “depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to Christianity.” This is what he meant. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. A little philosophy actually brings people to Christianity. I discussed this in a recent post. Christians seldom know philosophy in depth; in general, they simply agree with the views that align with their beliefs. Depth in dogmatism brings people’s minds to Christianity. Depth in philosophy—in thoughtfulness, in reflection, in reason, in the consideration of all options—undoubtedly takes people’s minds away from Christianity. Given the current state of academia, it also brings people’s minds to atheism.
In for the night with my family and this “family friend” knocks on our door, comes in and…get this…attempts to kidnap my child. She threatens to take my child, Finn, to The Lord because she needs to be saved from my non-religious wrath. She claims she’s coming to save my child and send her to heaven to give her to Jesus.
Obviously she’s fucking delusional.
My husband escorts her outside…she then proceeds to scream outside our gate that we need to love Jesus or we will all burn in hell and she’s coming to save Finn and my sister and see them in white at the gates of heaven.
I don’t give two fucks what anyone thinks about what I believe in or what I don’t believe in. But if it’s one thing I do know it is the fact that my child does not deserve to be in the middle of some crazy religiously driven nonsense.
Like, what the entire fuck. I’m lost for words. I can’t even deal.
All in all, my Wednesday night with my four and a half month old daughter was spent in a police station filing a restraining order. That is NOT fucking cool.
Holy shit, that’s terrifying. Stay safe, hun.
I hope all manner of charges are pressed against that psycho. She sounds dangerously close to the kind of person who drowns kids in bathtub to “save them from sinful lives and get them to Jesus”.
“Is it political if I tell you that if we burn coal, you’re going to warm the atmosphere? Or is that a statement of fact that you’ve made political? It’s a scientific statement. The fact that there are elements of society that have made it political, that’s a whole other thing.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (via socio-logic)
“The bias against science is part of being a pioneer society. You somehow feel the city life is decadent. American history is full of fables of the noble virtuous farmer and the vicious city slicker. The city slicker is an automatic villain. Unfortunately, such stereotypes can do damage. A noble ignoramus is not necessarily what the country needs.”—Isaac Asimov (via azspot)
Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website….
“A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.”—
For those of us who have lived and grown up in Muslim countries, we are told over and over again that Islam is great in every way. They claim just because there were certain scientists many centuries ago who made contributions to the advancement of science by translating the works of other people…