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A field guide to bullshit - Comments

mmurray's Avatar Comment 3 by mmurray

He got some good ones

homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions

but he missed a few: gods, virgin birth, walking on water, efficacy of prayers,

Damn it's on Kindle: must not click on "1-click" until I read something ....

Michael

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 05:44:33 UTC | #641076

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 4 by Robert Howard

I don't have anything remotely interesting to say, only that I loved The Philosophy Gym and I look forward to reading the new book. smiley-face

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 06:00:47 UTC | #641083

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 5 by Fouad Boussetta

Sounds interesting, but I'll skip this book for now. Because I just received Shermer's "The Believing Brain" from Amazon!

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:04:38 UTC | #641092

skiles1's Avatar Comment 6 by skiles1

Sounds like a must-read!

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:16:14 UTC | #641093

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 7 by The Truth, the light

BlockquoteThere's a belief system about water to which we all sign up: it freezes at 0 °C and boils at 100 °C

Well, that's not entirely true. Water can boil at much lower temperatures depending on the air pressure and can freeze at much lower temperatures if it is salt water.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:20:13 UTC | #641094

davedotcom's Avatar Comment 8 by davedotcom

Might have to give this book a try. It reminded me of some of the things I used to hear when I was a God botherer (albeit always a sceptical one).

The 'I just know' was always a classic, often referred to as your 'knower'; that gut feeling deep inside you that just knows that in spite of science, God exists.

Oh how glad I am to be free of such utter, utter bollocks! Perhaps this book can help others guard against being drawn into the same mistakes.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:35:09 UTC | #641096

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 9 by Stafford Gordon

A good article; but it told me nothing I didn't already know; to me, now, it all stands to reason.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:49:47 UTC | #641100

GPWC's Avatar Comment 10 by GPWC

What Stephen law says about mystery in science is right, but he could have added that, as soon as a "mystery" is identified, scientists race to investigate it and will suceeed in time to explain it, but the proponents of woo will never try doing that.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:52:45 UTC | #641101

gerard52's Avatar Comment 11 by gerard52

This may be a good read I'm putting it on my reading list.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:55:14 UTC | #641104

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 12 by Tryphon Tournesol

Comment 1 by mmurray :

He got some good ones

homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions

but he missed a few: gods, virgin birth, walking on water, efficacy of prayers,

Damn it's on Kindle: must not click on "1-click" until I read something ....

Michael

That, I noticed too. And actually hope that that those missing part's aren't in the book indeed. For 'personal reasons' I'd love to have a book that introduces critical thinking in the mildest manner possible. Then I could lend it to some people who would otherwise walk straight away when their personal pet (often called jesus) is analysed. The springboard of crystals and boiling water are not too bad a beginning me hopez.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 08:13:26 UTC | #641108

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 13 by ZenDruid

It looks like a simple enough critical-thinking primer. Much needed.

I agree with Tryphon; it would make the ideas much less threatening to those who need critical thinking the most.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 08:21:00 UTC | #641111

12PM's Avatar Comment 14 by 12PM

so he has to stir the whole pool to get the attention of those drinking the water from it!

reason is a tool. it needs the power of knowledge and more knowledge, the infinite amount of it.

reason alone cannot do anything without knowledge. science doesn't know everything but it's unlocking the secrets of the nature. reason is not the great-grand master key to these secrets.

There are invention, finding, etc from brilliant dream. Still we don't know about dream that much.

It's still too early to claim such and such is not the truth. Rather live with an open mind.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 08:27:06 UTC | #641115

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 15 by ZenDruid

so he has to stir the whole pool to get the attention of those drinking the water from it!

reason is a tool. it needs the power of knowledge and more knowledge, the infinite amount of it.

reason alone cannot do anything without knowledge. science doesn't know everything but it's unlocking the secrets of the nature. reason is not the great-grand master key to these secrets.

Reason allows you to understand the rules.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 08:54:37 UTC | #641124

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 16 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:03:15 UTC | #641128

12PM's Avatar Comment 17 by 12PM

Reason allows you to understand the rules.

yes, I agree with that.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:03:51 UTC | #641129

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 18 by AtheistEgbert

I'm broke. Perhaps it is time to start making free books and distributing it among us ignorant types, in the name of education and science.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:14:49 UTC | #641134

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 19 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:56:10 UTC | #641151

MadSimon's Avatar Comment 20 by MadSimon

Yay - I Was losing hope for newscientist. I'm glad they can at least alternate the wooish - sleazy - sensationalistic bend with a bit of critical thinking. And good to know a new guy in the field.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:09:46 UTC | #641153

ajs261's Avatar Comment 21 by ajs261

I like the "going nuclear" analogy.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:39:36 UTC | #641158

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 22 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:47:48 UTC | #641161

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 23 by Mrkimbo

Excellent to read this - sounds like a good book. It is as if Stephen Law was actually present at some of the pub moots I used to attend, where I used to take on some of my Pagan friends in a desperate effort to inject some sense of reality into their constant New-Age drivel. The conversations generally unfolded in precisely the way he describes. The only thing he missed was the rapidly elevating anger and indeed outrage I observed from childish people unused to having their wacky ideas challenged - precisely (and depressingly) as with more conventional religions.

In case people are wondering, I got interested in Paganism from a pantheistic desire to worship the real world without supernaturalism, only to find it inhabited by 'nature lovers' who were desperate and rather sad refugees from the laws of nature - perhaps because, despite all their vast esoteric powers, they tended to be unemployed, on pensions for very minor disabilities, or burger-flippers in dead-end jobs of various kinds. Oh, and there was one academic, who very obviously relished being the big fish in this tiniest of ponds and defended everyone's else's twaddle with exactly the kind of postmodernist claptrap Richard so elegantly and economically takes to pieces in Unweaving the Rainbow.

Needless to say I now go to the Tasmanian Skeptics instead, where all I have to worry about is various elderly right wingers insisting that anthropogenic climate change is a vast international conspiracy theory (sigh).

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 11:38:42 UTC | #641171

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 24 by MilitantNonStampCollector

This involves appealing to mystery to get out of intellectual hot water when someone is, say, propounding paranormal beliefs.


I love the way the ignorant use mystery as an argument. People say science doesn't know everything, as if this is some kind of knockdown - as in science doesn't know therefore God.

The best reply to this is: "Well yes, science doesn't know everything but religion knows nothing."

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 11:51:47 UTC | #641176

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 25 by cheesedoff17

I like the analogy of the black hole. I've been exploring some of the conspiracy theories on the net recently, 9/11, Bilderberg, NWO, Ring of power. I've started out feeling 100% sure of my own opinion (that it's all bullshit) only to come away not quite so sure. I've become more and more wary of believing anything.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 11:53:21 UTC | #641178

RUKEAL's Avatar Comment 26 by RUKEAL

Science is but one slice of the cake - with humans only using 10% of their brain capacity, do you really believe the other 90% is hard science?

Do you really think you can lump together everything we don't understand or can't prove (presently), and call it bullshit.

A simple look at history will show that you'll be a fool of the highest order to do so.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 13:18:17 UTC | #641220

GregGorey's Avatar Comment 27 by GregGorey

for those of you who do not know who Stephen Law is, he is a champion of secularism. He has written excellent books on humanism, liberalism, and critical thinking. He also has several excellent books for kids.

While he is an unrepentant atheist (and makes that clear in his books), he is also a genteman and spends his energy promoting clear thinking and the values of a life without religion.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 13:34:14 UTC | #641234

littletrotsky13's Avatar Comment 28 by littletrotsky13

By the way I have a catch-all term for anyone who willingly jumps into these intelectual black holes: Faithists (not my invention by the way but it's a word which I'd love to become memetic). I'm with Tryphon on the general idea, first you need to get them to accept some form of reason, then at some point you get them to point that reason at what they believe, then really hope that it the black hole evaporates at that point.

Mrkimbo, I've had some moderate experience of that with some new-ageists, several of which refused to accept that paganism hadn't always been a single homogenous belief system for thousands of years (they just couldn't seem to understand the similarity between christians calling someone a pagan and romano-greek cultures calling someone a barbarian). They were, if anything, worse to argue with than many religionists (who at least attempt to use some form of warped logic that they think agrees with them). To quote from "enemies of reason" (I think): "a small percentage have more than 2 strands of DNA, some people have 12".

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 13:38:30 UTC | #641239

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 29 by huzonfurst

To rukeal @21: The "only 10% of our brain" lie is just that - a lie. A little research may convince you of this, but you have to have an open mind to do it, because you may be wrong.

Another poster here talked about being surrounded by newagers who were all as thick as bricks, and damn vicious when challenged. I had the same experience and ultimately dumped these "friends" with no regrets. Now I have fewer friends but they are the real kind.

My standard answer to people who "just know" some loony belief is true is to say "Well then, I just know you're an idiot, so go play in your sandbox and leave the grownups alone."

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 13:38:38 UTC | #641240

PrayForMe's Avatar Comment 30 by PrayForMe

The new-agers are, in one sense, even less logical than faith-heads. At least religious people believe in just one religion, whereas new-agers seem to pick bits and pieces from all sorts of 'philosophies.'

I used to have a friend who was a lapsed catholic; once he'd dropped his religion, he started believing in many various forms of bollocks. He'd wang on about reiki and crystals etc but what really pissed me off was when he talked to me about 'energies.'

I was always on egg shells around him, because in some ways he was quite a nice bloke and I didn't want to constantly be telling him that he was talking shite. Then one day we had an argument because, finally losing my patience, I tried to explain that 'energy' actually means something, and he was bandying the term around with scant understanding of what that was. I think that must have really monkeyed around with his chakras, as he has never spoken to me since.

Matt

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 14:01:29 UTC | #641249

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 31 by hungarianelephant

Comment 28 by PrayForMe :

At least religious people believe in just one religion, whereas new-agers seem to pick bits and pieces from all sorts of 'philosophies.'

I don't think it's entirely true that religious people believe in just one religion. In Ireland, for example, Catholicism got bolted onto the pre-existing paganism. Even now, people believe in the banshee. Most people will say they don't believe in fairy trees, but they won't risk cutting one down.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 14:16:48 UTC | #641255

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 32 by Tyler Durden

Comment 24 by RUKEAL :

Science is but one slice of the cake - with humans only using 10% of their brain capacity, do you really believe the other 90% is hard science?

Ah, ye olde 10% brain capacity myth: The Ten-Percent Myth

If humans used only "10% of their brain capacity" we'd be technically brain dead, and incapble of functioning in the world. During our day-to-day activities, we use certain part of our brains for specific tasks (thinking, visual and spatial processing, imagination), and others for more general tasks such as breathing, walking and eating.

Over a given day, we use 100% of our brain capacity.

Well, most of us do - although, you may be an exception to that rule.

Do you really think you can lump together everything we don't understand or can't prove (presently), and call it bullshit.

A simple look at history will show that you'll be a fool of the highest order to do so.

Considering your silly belief in an irrational myth long since debunked, you're in no position to advise people on matters of scientific inquiry.

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 14:24:18 UTC | #641257