“If private companies want to throw their money away on the Myers-Briggs, that’s their prerogative. But about 200 federal agencies reportedly waste money on the test too, including the State Department and the CIA. The military in particular relies heavily on the Myers-Briggs, and the EPA has given it to about a quarter of its 17,000 employees.
It’s 2014. Thousands of professional psychologists have evaluated the century-old Myers-Briggs, found it to be inaccurate and arbitrary, and devised better systems for evaluating personality. Let’s stop using this outdated measure — which has about as much scientific validity as your astrological sign — and move on to something else.”—
“When you whip the ones you love, it’s not about abuse, but love.”—
Bonita Jackson, mother of NFL player and accused child abuser Adrian Peterson, in defense of her son’s alleged actions.
Why do I get the feeling that this is church influenced? This is the “spare the rod, spoil the child” school of thought. I beat you because I love you! It starts with parents engendering in their children this Sadomasochistic idea, which in turn leads to a culture of general domestic violence and its apologists.
If you’re taught to inflict physical pain on people “because you love them” is it any wonder that might lead to more child and spousal abuse??? This is cycle of violence of biblical proportions!
“Regardless what you think and believe, science shows human beings know very little. Our eyes register only 1 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum in the universe. Our ears detect less than 1 percent of its sound wave frequencies. Human senses—our brain’s vehicles to understanding the world—leave much to be desired. In fact, our genome is only 1 percent different than that of a chimpanzee. Amazingly, despite the obvious fact no one really knows that much about what is going on with ourselves and the universe, we still insist on the accuracy of grand spiritual claims handed down to us from our barefoot forefathers. We celebrate holidays over these ancient religious tales; we choose life partners and friends over these fables; we go to war to defend these myths.”—Zoltan Istvan - Some Atheists and Transhumanists are Asking: Should it be Illegal to Indoctrinate Kids With Religion?
…ISIS has an extreme and fundamentalist interpretation of Muslim doctrine. But in exactly the same way, dogma about the immorality of abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, and divorce have become part of Catholicism. They are theological interpretations of scripture that appeal to some people’s sense of morality. Others disagree. Whose faith is “truer”?
In the end, there is no “true” religion in the factual sense, for there is no good evidence supporting their claims to truth. Nor are there “true” religions in the moral sense. Every faith justifies itself and its practices by appeal to authority, revelation, and dogma. There are just some religions we like better than others because of their practical consequences. If that’s what we mean by “true,” we should just admit it. There’s no shame in that, for it’s certainly the case that societies based on some religions are more dysfunctional than others. Morality itself is neither objectively true nor false, but at bottom rests on subjective preferences: the “oughts” that come from what we see as the consequences of behaving one way versus another.
By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a “false religion.” ISIS, like all religious movements, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational.
Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we’re frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We are history! Everything we’ve ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are.
I’m made up of the memories of my parents and my grandparents, all my ancestors. They’re in the way I look, in the colour of my hair. And I’m made up of everyone I’ve ever met who’s changed the way I think.
“People will tell us that without the consolations of religion they would be intolerably unhappy. So far as this is true, it is a coward’s argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously choose to live in a fool’s paradise. When a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is not thought the better of for shutting his eyes to the evidence. And I cannot see why ignoring evidence should be contemptible in one case and admirable in the other.”—Bertrand Russell. 1952.
“In every culture across time, there has been somebody wondering about our place in the universe and trying to come to terms with what Earth is. This is not a latter-day interest; it’s something deeply inherent in what it is to be human.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (via whats-out-there)
“Everyone who is religious picks and chooses their morals from scripture. And so, too, do religious apologists pick and choose the “true” religions using identical criteria: what appeals to them as “good” ways to behave. The Qur’an, like the Bible, is full of vile moral statements supposedly emanating from God. We cherry-pick them depending on our disposition, our politics, and our upbringing.
In the end, there is no “true” religion in the factual sense, for there is no good evidence supporting their truth claims. Neither are there “true” religions in the moral sense. Every faith justifies itself and its practices by appeal to authority, revelation, and dogma. There are just some religions we like better than others because of their practical consequences. If that’s what we mean by “true,” we should just admit it. There’s no shame in that, for it’s certainly the case that societies based on some religions are more dysfunctional than others. Morality itself is neither objectively “true” nor “false,” but at bottom rests on subjective preferences: the “oughts” that come from what we see as the consequences of behaving one way versus another. By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a “false religion”. ISIS, like all religious movements, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational.”—Jerry Coyne. 2014.
Looking through the Ask an Astrophysicist archives this morning, this one was my favorite. A super tactful way of saying, “yeah, we actually understand quite a bit about the origins of the universe and of life. It’s not a tie between religion and science. We have actual methods and theories, with actual observations.”
(Submitted February 17, 1997)
I am puzzled between my beliefs and religion. I do not know what to tell my child about the creation of the Universe. She seems really interested in knowing how all that we know exists.
I personally believe that no one knows for sure how the Universe was created or how we were created. Why are we here, a place in the Universe, this infinite Universe. Where did we come from?
This is a pretty big question! I admire both of you for struggling with it.
Our work — like those of scientists everywhere — is concerned with the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ of the Universe, rather than whether or not there is a ‘why’. While it is not our role to discuss beliefs or religion, we can help you by telling you what astronomers have learned about the creation of the Universe. The scientific method (based on testing and modifying explanations until they agree with observations - and then making more observations to be explained!) has been astoundingly effective in investigating the history of the Universe and showing how one event followed another in a way understandable and predictable from a small number of physical principles (such as Newton’s Laws of Motion and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity).
We now have a very good picture of how the Universe has evolved since the so-called Big Bang (some 15 billion years or so ago) to the present. Even twenty years ago, Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg was able to write a popular book “The First Three Minutes” which describes in some detail the particle interactions likely to have occurred during the first 180 seconds of the Universe!
Many non-scientific groups in human history have also thought they had a good picture of the Universe, but the crucial difference was that their explanations were either not tested or not testable. The scientific view is tested by many thousands of scientists every day and wrong ideas cannot survive very long. Of course there are still many mysteries remaining, but most of them concern quite fine details of galactic and stellar evolution.
Even the origin and evolution of life are much better understood than is usually realized. The mechanisms causing the simple life forms present on the earth more than 3 billion years ago to diversify into the tremendous biological variety we see today are well known. Many of the chemical steps required to produce the first life forms from simple and abundant molecules have been reproduced in the laboratory. Others have not, but the evidence for life in the oldest rocks we have examined (and the recently discovered similar evidence for ancient life on Mars) suggests that life may begin readily when the right materials and conditions are together for enough time.
To explore the work of our laboratory go to: http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ Note that the StarChild part of our site has been written for children between the ages of 4 and 14.
For other discussions concerning the origin and evolution of the Universe, books by Hawking (“A Brief History of Time” and others), Gribbin (“In the Beginning”), and Abrams (“The Birth of the Universe: The Big Bang and After”) are worth a look.
For discussions of the origin and evolution of life, books by Steven Jay Gould might give you a place to start.
For more on the scientific method, Bronowski’s “The Ascent of Man”, Morrison’s “Nothing is too Wonderful to be True” and Sagan’s “Cosmos” and “The Demon Haunted World” contain interesting discussions of how science works. You might also want to check out the bi-monthly magazine “Skeptical Inquirer”.
I had hoped to be able to recommend a much longer list of sites for you to visit on the World Wide Web, but I was very disappointed when I explored what is currently available. The average quality of information for the areas you are interested in is extremely low — because anyone can make material available on the Web, so the few good sites are lost in the noise. I suggest that you will make much more progress by visiting good libraries and bookstores and reading widely.
I hope that both you and your daughter will continue to enjoy reading about, thinking about, and discussing these important questions.
“The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle. Sometimes it’s closer, sometimes it’s farther away. Every month, there is a moment when it is closest. Occasionally, that moment when it is closest coincidences with a full moon. People are calling that a super moon, but there’s super half moons. Every month one of those phases is the closest. I don’t hear people saying like ‘super crescent, super half moon.’”—Neil DeGrasse Tyson is not impressed with the “Super Moon”.
Even today, interplanetary dust rains down on Earth in vast quantities – typically a hundred tons of it a day – though only a small fraction reaches Earth’s surface. The rest harmlessly vaporizes in Earth’s atmosphere as shooting stars.
More hazardous are the billions, likely trillions, of leftover rocks – comets and asteroids – that have been orbiting the Sun since the early years of our solar system but haven’t yet managed to join up with a larger object.
I used to be a big believer in ghosts and was fascinated by “haunted” places and “ghost caught on tape” videos. Now I’m fascinated in the belief in ghosts; or better yet, the belief in anything supernatural.
I find it interesting how easy it is to delude oneself and so credulously give in to…
Hands down best book ever on this is The Demon-Haunted World By Carl Sagan.
“They have set out for the benefit of the world, for the ease of the world, out of pity for the world. They have resolved: “We will become a shelter for the world, the world’s place of rest, the final relief of the world, islands of the world, lights of the world, the guides of the world’s means of salvation.”—
The Prajna-paramita Sutras (Sermons on the Perfection of Wisdom), which were compiled at the end of the first century BCE, explaining the Bodhisattvas (Buddhist teachers who forego their own nirvana in order to help others reach enlightenment)
Now, replace “they/we” with “He/I” and who does that sound like? This is but one small example of how Jesus was unoriginal. The notion of spiritual teachers sacrificing themselves for humanity has a rich and varied tradition that neither began or ended with the character “Jesus” in The Bible.
….I am no longer the girl with A Time to Cherish and my Bible on my night stand, searching for all the answers that my mother couldn’t give me. In fact, when I sat down the other day to re-read “A Time to Cherish,” I was so perplexed and troubled by it, I wrote the author herself to ask her some questions. One was her advice to me, a reader who had not only lost her faith, but in the parlance of Born Agains, her testimony – her love for God and desire to share the good Word. “Turn to God,” she replied. “Every life is redeemable. … Shame off you, grace on you.
Her answer made me ineffably sad.
How could I explain? I don’t feel that I need redemption. I don’t feel ashamed. I don’t feel lost, or scared or worried about my eternal soul. I don’t even think I have an eternal soul.
I no longer even value faith; I value doubt.
I do know why, as a young girl, I wanted answers: I was angry, like a lot of teens, and I was learning that growing up doesn’t give anyone solutions, only more complicated questions. I loved Gunn’s book so much because, even as Christy struggles with faith, with being a young woman, having crushes and maintaining friendships, her faith allows her to know that everything happens for a reason, and that everything will be OK.
Somewhere along the way I lost interest in everything being OK.
There’s a moment in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet in which the German writer urges a young and struggling author, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love questions themselves, like locked rooms and like book that are written in a very foreign languages.” More than my politics changing (which they did) or my mother passing (which she did), what separates me from the girl who looked to A Time to Cherish for direction is that I became vastly more interested in questions rather than answers.
Which is not to say that I don’t still try to find meaning in my life, or that I begrudge anyone else their own search. A Time to Cherish is still on my shelf, next to my pink Bible, my Quran, Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, Leon Lederman’s tomes on particle physics and collections of Keats. Reading them all gave me more questions than anyone could ever answer.
I used to live in a world of miracles. Now I live in a world of wonder.
I recently came across a post on the skeptic subreddit pointing to the rules of the 9/11 truther subreddit:
Welcome to 911truth! The purpose of this subreddit is to present and discuss evidence showing that the US Government’s version of the events of 9/11 cannot possibly be true. Submissions or comments supporting the official version, including links to sites purporting to “debunk” the 9/11 Truth Movement (depending on context), are considered off-topic here.
Stay on topic. Off topic comments are subject to removal.
Rule #7 also made me smile:
7. No caps lock.
This is the double-edged sword of the internet – it allows for unprecedented on-demand access to incredible information, but that information is biased.
This is nothing new. We can only sample a tiny amount of all the possible information about the world. Whatever process is used to filter, organize, access, and digest that information will be biased. Part of the skeptical endeavor is to study such biases, at every level, so that we can have some sense of how that affects the information that ultimately gets into our brains, and perhaps compensate for them.
Pre-internet perhaps the primary sources of bias were the gatekeepers of mass media: TV producers, journal editors, newspaper editors, and book publishers. They still have a tremendous influence, but are rapidly being eclipsed by the internet.
Social media has the benefit of bypassing such gatekeepers and allowing individuals or small organizations to place their ideas in the public domain, and to create spaces where groups can discuss and share information. It’s all good – but we have to recognize that this creates the easy opportunity to erect new biasing filters.
It is not surprising, given what psychologists have discovered about human nature, that we tend to sort ourselves into like-minded groups. This can also be a positive thing, in moderation. We need a sense of community, even if it’s virtual, and such groups can facilitate finding information we wish to seek out.
The glaring downside, however, is that such groups will tend to be insular and to provide access to information that confirms our existing beliefs and biases. This phenomenon is often referred to in derogatory terms as an “echochamber.”
It’s rare to see such a blatant expression of it, as in the 9/11 truther subreddit – don’t post anything here that will challenge our basic assumptions, or it will be removed. This policy is justified with the extremely thin argument of labeling such challenges as “off topic.”…
“The trend today is vampires, zombies, angels, all the stuff that puts me right to sleep. It’s too bad because it’s so much less interesting than the diversity of stories you can tell with science.”—Seth MacFarlane (via whats-out-there)