As always, thank you for reading and sharing my blog! I am an independent poet, author, and singer/songwriter and I have my own ebay business to keep me as flexible as possible. But, writing takes time and if you appreciate what I do, if you have been moved or made to think by my writing, OR have just enjoyed something on my blog, please throw a buck or two in my tip jar! Your kind contribution may buy me a cup of coffee out at my next writing session. Click my easy paypal “tip jar” link that follows and THANKS! -Luke
Here’s the thing about science… for the most part, scientific progress is generally a slow process and boring to almost anyone who isn’t a scientist. That dynamic begs the following problem: With an Internet Culture that demands to be constantly wowed by new, provocative, stimulating, but not-too-intellectually demanding information, and click-bait news articles and blogs, how should media outlets, “news” sites, TV talk shows, and professional bloggers, all thirsty for advertising revenue via views present science and scientific studies? Well, for the most part, the answer is to propagate complete bullshit, hack interpretations of data, push non-peer-reviewed studies as proven facts, or to re-package peer reviewed studies so that they fit nicely on the low shelf and can be married up with exciting buzz worthy titles.
Before moving forward, let me give you complete disclosure. I am not a scientist. I am a writer, poet, and ebay entrepreneur. But, I love science and highly esteem its value to humanity as an empirical method of discovery. Because of that, I cringe when the revelatory power of the Scientific Method and complex findings of scientific studies are wielded about by the unlearned in media like a toddler with a .357 revolver.
Too strong of an analogy? I think not. Maybe too weak. Toddlers with revolvers would only have six shots each to do damage with. A scientifically flawed online article or news story has the power to dangerously deceive millions. The thing is, the propagation of pseudo-scientific bullshit can and does kill people. That is particularly the case when people have an aversion to traditional, proven medical treatments for various cancers and other deadly afflictions and turn rather to the magical promises of unproven (and sometimes inherently dangerous) “natural” remedies. On the flip side, otherwise healthy people can be MADE ill via untested supplements and the like. Sure, a healthy and varied diet is to be lauded and applied in one’s life. Yet, when you need modern medicine and/or treatments backed by vetted scientific research to cure a particular malady, don’t presume that merely eating more of this or that and/or taking some crap the salesperson at your local supplement shop assures you is the miracle cure-all will fix your problems. You may well avoid traditional medicine, relying on “natural remedies” until the situation is too late to reverse. Do traditional treatments always work? Nope. But they have at least been tried and tested via trial, error, and peer-reviewed research. I’ll take that over some magic beans any day.
So, when I read or watch pseudo-science presented by news anchors, Internet article writers, and bloggers, I get a bit angry. I get angry when people are given false hope for their sicknesses by modern day snake oil salesmen. I get angry when energy is wasted in society filtering out the bullshit AND when people, even fairly well educated people, are fooled by said bullshit. Lastly, I get angry that our modern society is left intellectually weak by being allowed to hit baseballs off of the tee like children when we should be swinging at fast, difficult pitches like adults- metaphorically speaking. Though, I can’t blame only those who are selling snake oil. As a society, we are buying it time and time again.
Because of all that, I am thankful to the John Oliver Show people for their new related segment. Please, please, PLEASE, my fellow humans… let the scientists do their work. Give them time and funding to do it. Let the scientists re-test and peer-review the experiments and data. And, when their findings are a bit outside the realm of our own layman’s understanding, we should let the scientists explain it to the rest of us rather than the news anchors.
Please watch and enjoy the following video:
I encourage you to seek to expand your own understanding of the Scientific Method and various areas of scientific exploration as a part of your own personal study and life-long learning. I assure you, having a finely tuned bullshit detector is a very handy thing in this world. You may also find some merit in this handy poster from a previous blog:
It seems counterintuitive to welcome friends, business partners, and/or acquaintances who significantly differ from one’s own self ideologically, culturally, or methodologically. Who wants a squeaky wheel of dissent hanging around and being a distraction? Yet, by not allowing for interaction with those who are different, we risk falling into a state of intellectual atrophy, not only as individuals, but as a society.
Having relationships with those who are different or who disagree with us encourages conversation, re-evaluation, learning, and perhaps even changes of mind. Friction with those who rub against our own grain or who are simply not like us can produce wonderful effects if allowed and encouraged. Of course, both parties must desire genuine interaction and not just contentious banter or to “win” a debate. The key is a true and honest desire to understand, learn, share, revise, teach, and adapt for the better. The fruit produced by such a social virtue is good for individuals and good for the communities at large.
I am glad to know some people in life who, though we differ in many ways, are not xenophobic, crave deep discussions, AND actually find it refreshing to have a non-homogenized collective of people in their life. Such friends are rare roses among the thorns of the us/them masses.
For more information on Margaret Heffernan, visit this link:
Have a great week! -Luke
All I have to say is, I agree.
This is a very good, condensed, and positive message by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. It is easy to focus on all the negative situations that are paraded before us daily, yet to forget that many aspects of life are steadily improving in most nations. Yet, there is still work to do. So, we can take Mr. Hadfield’s admonition to heart and do what we can to make things better.
“When thinking if you’re going to be optimistic this year, remember, nobody changes the world on their own. It all starts with a resolution… what’s yours?” -Chris Hadfield
If you have an extra twenty-ish minutes, you may enjoy this closely related video by Dr. Steven Pinker. It is a talk called, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” about the decrease of violence over the centuries. It presents some very comprehensive material regarding the subject.
Amazing news! Thanks to a ten year mission by the European Space Agency, the unmanned Philae Lander has landed on a comet travelling 41,000 mph through space some 4 billion miles from earth! Talk about hitting the bull’s-eye! It is truly astounding to me that we have come from the first manned flight of an airplane to this in barely over one hundred years. Humans can accomplish marvelous things when we work together utilizing all the tools that science has to offer!
Please visit the link below for more information:
“Keys to Sound Thinking,” is a poster I created to sum up three weeks of homeschooling lessons that I taught my four younger children. I just took a quick picture of it on the wall, so please forgive the imperfect alignment and lighting. I will try to get a scanned version posted asap.
It has been amazing to see the speed at which the Buzzfeed article, “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution,” has blown up on social media. Not only that, but the passionate response from people on both sides of the theological and scientific argument has been huge.
Click the link to see the article:
Buzzfeed journalist, Matt Stopera, was live at the Nye vs. Ham debate last Tuesday. As I was making my way around the Creation Museum, taking pictures and writing notes before the debate, I saw Mr. Stopera actively working the crowd to get a balanced take and opinions from “both sides.” I did an on-camera interview for Jonathan Ryan from the, “Geek Goes Rogue,” blog on Patheos, but did not get to speak with Matt Stopera from Buzzfeed. I was impressed by his demeanor with the museum patrons and his efforts to get balanced coverage. Though the secular and non-young earth creationist contingent was in the minority at the event, it appeared easier for Matt to get “messages” from their side. As the appointed debate time drew nigh, he was still working hard to get enough message pictures from the creationist side to make the pictures even.
Due to some things I’ve seen on social media stating that Buzzfeed was just trying to make people look stupid on the creationist side or that Matt Stopera was “leading” people in some way, I can say as a very close bystander, that is not correct. Matt would give the people who wanted to participate a marker and paper, then allow them ample time to reflect on something to write. He didn’t prompt them to write any particular thing. He told them to write anything they wanted. Also, he must have posted nearly, if not all the pictures he took, not just ones that made one side look better and the other worse. It appeared that he was able to actively interface with people from about 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. That isn’t a lot of time to get 44 people to participate in such a two-sided coverage piece, but he was able to make it happen. I was impressed.
Click the link to see the contrasting, “22 Messages For Creationists From People Who Believe In Evolution”:
I have also seen no shortage of satirical photoshops of the pictures and serious responses posted by others this week, primarily to the creationist’s messages. See two of my favorites below.
“The Amazing Atheist Answers 22 Creationists”
Here are a few things I would like to mention based on the varied responses I’ve seen to the first “22 Messages” article online:
1. To my secular, scientific, and atheist counterparts: These are real people and most are probably nice, hard working folks. Just because you disagree with them, that is no cause to go “ad hominem” on them via social media. I’d almost guarantee you NOT ONE of the people in the pictures had any idea how HUGE the response to their messages would be. To the people who have kept their comments on-point, kudos. But, I’ve read quite a few comments on facebook and elsewhere criticizing the looks or build of some of the people in the pictures. I have also read some comments that are just very derogatory with nothing constructive or instructive said to refute the “message.” That is out of line in my opinion. If you despise the young-earth creationist ideology, attack the ideology. None of the people in these pictures have done anything to you or I personally I presume. Don’t attack them personally in a way not directly related to the issue, from a presumably safe vantage point on the Internet. It is a cheap shot and does nothing to further your own argument.
2. To Young Earth Creationists: Don’t assume all the people in the pictures are “angels” just because they believe like you theologically. One individual in the pictures sat next to me during the debate. He or she made an interesting remark about some people who should, “Go back to Africa.” The small group he or she was a part of had quite a few interesting things to say as the debate countdown was rolling. That being said, I don’t put that on creationists in general. Far from it. But, on both sides, this issue needs to be about the issue. Regardless of whether you or I think a person we disagree with is “a jerk” or “arrogant,” that means nothing relative to if they are correct. This is an issue about modern, evidence-based science and the supposed scientific authority of the ancient Bible text. To paraphrase Bill Nye, “Show me the evidence and you’ll change my mind.” If you are shown contradictory evidence, but yet your mind remains resolute in your beliefs, please don’t fool yourself into a self-evaluated position of intellectual honesty.
3. I was staggered by the simplicity and lack of insight in most of the “messages” and questions. I wonder if many of the people have bothered to give google a work out on these subjects to find relevant scientific data from valid sources. Also, many messages show a distinct confirmation bias from people who probably have never searched out the argument of the opposition. Most of the questions raised can be answered very quickly and comprehensively with just a bit of research. I am surprised that some or all of the people in the pictures saw their messages and questions as a knock-out punch to modern science and/or secularism.
4. My last bit of encouragement is as follows: Seek out honest dialogue over debate. Debate can be a wonderful thing and I was very encouraged by the turnout and response to the one this week. But, it only goes so far. Reach out to people if you want to change their minds in a constructive way. If you wonder what people of the opposing view think, ask them directly when you have opportunity. Engage in effective, personal communication whenever possible. Aggressive posturing rarely ever leads to minds being changed or relationships being built. We have the privilege to live in a Nation with true freedom of speech. Use it fully; just mix in a pinch of kindness and empathy as well.
If you have not yet seen the epic debate, click the link below:
-Copyright 2014, Luke Austin Daugherty
I had a fun time perusing the “Creation Museum” this afternoon. Now, I’m waiting for the real fun to begin! The, “Debate of the Decade,” will be kicking off in just a few hours.
Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham is like the Super Bowl for science nerds, theologians, young earth creationists, and non-theists. I’ll be blogging asap after the event is over. Follow my blog for all the updates!
And, It’s not too late to watch the live stream online! Click the link below:
I’ve got my “duds” packed and the tires are aired up on my ’94 Buick Roadmaster. I’m ready to go! Tomorrow, come rain or snow, I’ll be heading to the “Creation Museum” to see Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate over the origins of life and perhaps the universe. I’m very excited, as I’ve never attended such a high profile debate in person.
I’ll do my best to get some blogs about the event up asap. Please follow my blog for updates delivered to your via email or through WordPress.
Here is the link where you can watch the debate live, including a countdown timer:
You can also read my two previous blogs about the upcoming debate. See the links below: