Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A News Skeptic

      Even the most skeptical among us have had this happen: A friend or relative forwards an e-mail from an organization with a safe-sounding name (“The Clean Air Initiative,” “The Center for Consumer Freedom”), but the e-mail is filled with scary assertions, usually of a political nature. If the Obama-care health bill is passed, Grandma will face a “death panel” that will decide if she lives or dies; if Barack Obama is re-elected, America will soon become a Marxist or Muslim nation. Some of the chain-emails are obvious partisan propaganda. But some are more subtle . . .
      This is the opening paragraph of How To Be a Skeptical News Consumer by Donna L. Halper.  Since it overflows with her biases and tends to ramble, I have paraphrased the important content below.  You can read the article in its entirety at

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Theory of Everything.

The following video, Athene's Theory of Everything, offers thought provoking insights into belief systems, cognitive dissonance, and quantum physics.  The interpretations are based on facts, but they are the interpretations of the author. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Whorehouse Sues the Church

This story is all over the internet, but is it factual?
      Diamond D's brothel began construction on an expansion of their building to increase their ever-growing business. In response, the local Baptist Church started a campaign to block the business from expanding -- with morning, afternoon, and evening prayer sessions at their church. Work on Diamond D's progressed right up until the week before the grand reopening when lightning struck the whorehouse and burned it to the ground!
      After the cat-house was burned to the ground by the lightning strike, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about "the power of prayer." But late last week 'Big Jugs' Jill Diamond, the owner/madam, sued the church, the preacher and the entire congregation on the grounds that the church ... "was ultimately responsible for the demise of her building and her business -- either through direct or indirect divine actions or means."
      In its reply to the court, the church vehemently and voraciously denied any and all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise.
      The crusty old judge read through the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's reply, and at the opening hearing he commented, "I don't know how the hell I'm going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, that we now have a whorehouse owner who staunchly believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that thinks it's all bullshit!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Positivity Effect

I lead bicycle rides around middle Tennessee.  Often, I have a ride started and not too far into the route the grumbling starts.  I hear, "I thought you said this route was flat."

Well, I thought it was.  I honestly didn't remember all the hills, but sure enough.  We got hills.  My comrades don't except my excuse of "these hills weren't here the last time I rode it."  Finally, I just tell them, "I'm old.  I no longer have space in my database to remember the bad things.  So I triage my memories.  Good stays; bad is out."

I have recently learned, while studying cognitive biases and why people believe idiotic things, that I am hardly alone in my bias.  It even has a name "Positivity Effect."  Wikipedia explains it  as follows:

Is it REAL or a Myth?

For a myth to persist it must inspire, it must capture the imagination, and most important it must capture a person intellectually enough that they commit "body and soul" to the concept no matter how improbable or irrational giving rise to cognitive dissonance.  To see what I mean watch this video 

Are you amazed?  Have you figured it out?  Is it possible for a staircase to violate the laws of physics.and basic logic by looping back on itself?

Imagine what one could do given decades, centuries, or millennia to fashion a myth with stories built upon stories upon stories.  We detail one such myth in this blog -- the Bell Witch Legend.  Was it real? Of course not, but that has not stopped hundreds of people to believe in or even claim to have personally experienced the Bell Witch.  Want to know more? Then you must continue to read this post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Religious Hypocrisy

How often have we been told, "Love the sinner; hate the sin? Then how does that explain "Baptist Plan Mass Exodus from Boy Scouts."  The Boys Scouts aren't endorsing homosexual life style.  They aren't teaching it.  It's not a new merit badge.  They are just following "What Would Jesus Do?  The answer is quite obvious.