Just how stupid?

I admit it: all too often, I look at the generally low level of intelligence displayed in the entertainment, the political parties, the religious tendencies, and the blind consumerism in the US and harbor serious doubts about how many people in this country are capable of critical thought. It’s not exactly something to make [...]

Online course review: How to Reason and Argue

Not quite two years ago, I took a couple of online courses from the new program/organization/school/site Coursera, which were quite interesting. The idea of open-access college-level courses is tricky; while it reduces the costs of education and makes it accessible to loads more people, the ability to accurately test participants and eliminate cheating is [...]

But what if the third time is the charm?

This is, actually, the third time I’ve approached this subject, and it will be another variation apart from the first time, and the second. The subject is the old “But what if you’re wrong?” challenge that the religious dearly love to use against atheists, never realizing this is not even a fraction as destructive [...]

Who are we learning about?

Among the many, many reminisces following the recent death of actor-comedian Robin Williams – some in honest tribute, some in shameless opportunism – we can find the video of his meeting with Koko, the female lowland gorilla who is famous for communicating by sign language; we also have the reports from the Gorilla Foundation, [...]

Underlying

As you may have been told in high school, many great works of literature and filmmaking are actually metaphors, using familiar characters and situations to represent deeper, more nuanced abstract ideas. The reasoning behind this is obvious: even small stories, seemingly inconsequential events, are part of an overriding narrative and purpose, reflecting in their [...]

Unseen benefits

First off, I’m going to mention my long absence and the faintly amusing bit about it. I was traveling, one of the few chances I’ve gotten recently, which would be enough to explain the period without posts – except that, I’d prepared a bunch ahead of time and scheduled them to appear while I [...]

Fish in a barrel

I barely have to write anything for this.

There’s a website called LeastHelpful.com, which features product reviews that, uh, leave a bit to be desired. Far too frequently, the religious reviewer provides the strangest and most clueless entries, and many of those are laden with unintended irony. Case in point: this insight into Planet [...]

There are skeptics, and then there are skeptics

Reading an old post, it occurred to me that there’s a lot of misunderstanding about skepticism, enough so that perhaps it could stand a bit of clarification as to where it comes from, and why at least some people find it to be useful. In many circles – circles that spend a lot of [...]

But how? Part 15: Benefit

In earlier posts I have tackled, I think, all of the aspects about to appear within this one, but I think it’s worth having them here in one collection, under a heading which makes it easier to find. On top of that, the argument is a common one, and probably cannot be answered often [...]

Fighting with abstracts

This one’s going to be a little bit weird. I mean, more so than usual. It started as just an offhand comment, but grew into a strange bit of philosophical inspection.

I recently read, yet again, the journalistic cliché about someone “beating the odds.” Which is complete nonsense. No one ever beats the odds, [...]