Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

WARNING! Fantasmagorical Outbreak

August 19, 2011 1 comment

Warning! Fantasmagorical outbreak.

Fantasmagoricals are everywhere and increasing exponentially. Once infected, the natural response is to spread it to others. You may already be infected! The disease is extremely contagious. It preys on the desires of an individual. It clouds judgment. It trumps logic and reason. It turns minds into mush. Very happy mush – but mush none-the-less.

There are various symptoms. Once infected, however, one is unable to truly see those symptoms.

Regardless, here are a few to be on the look out for:

  • Thinking the world is a much better place than it is. This is a huge sign that you have been infected. This is sometimes called the rainbows and unicorns symptom, as it was once thought that the people who felt this way actually saw the world as rainbows, unicorns, and pink balloons.
  • Thinking that suffering in the word is minimal or that pleasure is the opposite equivalent to pain and suffering. If you think that the suffering in the world is balanced out or trumped by the pleasures of the world, you have been infected.
  • Skewing logic to correlate to what you desire reality to be rather than to what reality is. A sure sign is when one uses a number of logical fallacies in an attempt to convince others of extraordinary claims. It is a tool used to infect susceptible people.
  • Pointing to beauty in the universe as if beauty is some quality of the universe rather than something built out of the psychology of the individual experiencing it. This is a sure sign that one may be infected.
  • Thinking that humans are so much better than every other creature living on planet earth. That humans are the end-all-to-be-all. This specie-ist quality is a sign of a fantasmagorical infection.
  • Going against what there is a mound of evidence for simply because you don’t like it and making up pseudo-scientific information to go against the evidence. This is a definite sign. If you do this, you may be beyond recovery.

There are many other symptoms but the above bullet points are a good start. Watch out as the memes are invading everywhere. There is no immunity shot one can take for it. The best defense is to learn, understand, and apply logic and reason. Create a mental barrier between your desires and what is logical. Understand that what you want, and what is, are not the same thing. And then pray to a pink unicorn that you do not catch the infection.

If someone you know shows signs of being a fantasmagorical, point them to this blog post. 
Awareness is half the battle.

For the fantasmagorical hotline, call 1-800-ƒÅñ†æzz

Do Little Green Men Exist?

July 4, 2011 2 comments

In this post I want to talk about the possibility of life on other planets. You know – those slimy little green guys with large brains, big eyes, long fingers, and no anuses.

There is a well known equation called the Drake equation. The Drake equation attempts to estimate the number of civilizations hosting those little green guys (or purple or blue guys) in the Milky Way. It is used often by those suggesting the universe is teaming with life. The Drake equation, however, should not be considered real science. Rather, it is merely speculative given that we plug in specific (yet arbitrary) variables for it. This is fine. I have no problem with speculative. The truth of the matter is, however, that the universe could be teaming with life, or life coming from non-life could be so rare that it only happened once in the history of the universe.

It’s fun to think about aliens, what they might look like, what might interest them, if they are more advanced than us, if they fart (probably the most important question), and so on. Aliens have given science fiction writers an endless supply of material. They have been characterized as cute friendly creatures to fierce monsters.

Maybe life on other planets does exist, but it never gets farther than simple celled equivalents of bacteria. After all, 3.8 billion years of our own evolutionary history were simple cells. It must be very difficult to make the leaps to more complex organisms.

Some suggest that life happens throughout the universe, but that most of it goes extinct and do not happen within the same time period of each other. This is why it is so difficult for us to detect life elsewhere.

Also keep in mind that, at least to date, there is no evidence of any other life arising on planet earth other than that of our own DNA history. Some attribute that to the difficulty of detecting it if it did exist (since it would look similar), or that current life would wipe out any new life that tries to come about.

For those that claim the universe is teaming with life, and that much of the life is intelligent, there are a number of hurtles that need to be jumped.

  • Hurtle 1: The difficulty of abiogenesis (meaning life coming from non-life). Probably the largest hurtle.
  • Hurtle 2: The difficulty for such new life to sustain itself long enough to reproduce and not immediately go extinct.
  • Hurtle 3: The difficulty to go from the simple to the complex.
  • Hurtle 4: The difficulty to evolve basic minds.
  • Hurtle 5: The difficulty to go from basic minds to minds that have language and deeper levels of understanding.

We simply do not know the extent of such hurdles. We can certainly speculate as the Drake equation does; just be wary not to confuse speculation with fact. The Drake equation is “if such and such, then such and such”. It is not “such and such, so such and such”.

Personally, I hope the universe is not teaming with life. I hope that our planet is the only one that had to endure evolution via survival of the fittest. This past blog post might help you understand why I am not a proponent if life happening elsewhere in the universe. Unfortunately what I hope is the case, and what is actually true, could be entirely different.

Do you think life exists elsewhere in the universe

Evolution Worship

June 6, 2011 3 comments

First thing first – I hold to a naturalistic worldview. I believe strongly that we came about via a process of evolution. It is a scientific fact. It matters not to me if you are a naturalist, spiritualist, theist, or atheist. If you do not believe in evolution, you go against one of the strongest scientific theories in existence. One with mounds and mounds of evidence (The genetic ERV evidence alone is undeniable proof  of common ancestery).

Evolution explains how we came about from the simpilist of lifeforms, and knowledge of evolution is an important key to most if not all biological and medical sciences. For this reason we should learn as much as we can about the process. It is also an important fact about our history.

But that is where my appreciation for evolutionary processes ends. History is riddled with horrors, and evolution is one of them. And unfortunately for animals in the wild it is a process that continues.

The fact of the matter is that evolution is a terrible process. Survival of the fittest is sloppy, unintelligent, and harmful. It does not care about pain and suffering. It does not care that it is a process of elimination in the worst possible ways.

That is why it bothers me when fellow thinkers and scientists who hold a naturalistic worldview do what I call “evolution worship”.

They might, for example, say that moral intuitions have come about through the process of evolution – as if that is a worthy process for morality that we should continue to adhere to. As if such a process is where we as intelligent humans should continue to derive our moral understandings. I have seen this type of attitude first hand, and it is used to trump logical conclusions of ethical systems.

I don’t deny that our ability to be social animals who worked together and helped others within our community was a trait that was an evolutionary advantage. But what of the actual process. Well, those that were less social were killed off before they can procreate. And they were usually killed off in the worst possible ways. Eaten alive, injury, and starvation are just a few of the many ways to go.  We as survivors tend to ignore the actual process for the benefit of the survivors.

Another way they might grandize evolution is to point to the beauty that they subjectively feel within nature – as if such “beauty” trumps any of the problems that an unintelligent process of evolution causes. Seeing only the beauty allows them to close their eyes to the horrors or minimize the concern for such horrors. And it propagates that sort of meme on to others, making it easier for them to close their eyes on the problems as well.

The worst part about survival of the fittest is that it is still happening in the animal kingdom. Sure, we humans are the top of the food chain and do not have to worry much about survival in the wild any longer. Instead we have replaced that with war, destroying the environment, putting chemicals in our bodies, factory farming, and a slew of other harmful activities. Another time, another blog entry.

But as you read this a baby elephant is being ripped to shreds by lions. An elephant that is still alive. As you read this there are masses of animals in pain, suffering long dying processes, sometimes days, sometimes weeks. As you read this there are animals feeding off of other animals. Large birds swooping down grabbing cute little defenseless herbivores. If those little herbivores can bear enough babies before they are snagged by carnivores, that is their survival mechanism. Sheer numbers so that some of those numbers can produce more before they have teeth or claws stuck in them.

Some scientists suggest that we should launch organisms into outerspace, so that, if they can get on to a planet where they can thrive – the process of evolution can start all over again on that planet. We can increase the number of planets that have to endure such a nasty process. If that is not evolution worship then I do not know what is.

No, evolution is not a process that we should bow to the alter of. It is a constant stream of blood, pain, and suffering. It should disgust us. It is something that we should be very concerned about fixing, for all life that has to endure it.

What types of “evolution worship” have you experienced?