When is a hoax not a hoax?

It’s funny – I started this post out with entirely different intentions, but as I was researching the details, it had to change, yet I could still keep the same title. Bear with me a second.

This post topic came up when I was reading an article in Skeptical Inquirer that dealt with the […]

That’s racist! I think…

Racism is one of those topics that the vast majority of people in the world will agree is bad. Which is helpful, because it provides a common factor in ethics, a value that is actually hard to argue against. However, the definition of racism is something that is often not pinned down very well, […]

Cry, “Sexism!” and let loose…

I’m not going to finish that header, because no matter what, it’s going to be taken the wrong way…

If you’ve been checking out links on that blogroll over on the sidebar, you may be aware that Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science has a semi-regular Saturday post called, “I’ve Got Your Missing […]

How not to be a conspiracist

While this post was sparked by some recent discussions (it’s that time of year, or at least, it was a little over a month ago,) what I talk about here is quite common, and I’ve seen it all over and over again. So, I figured it was time to address it again.

“Conspiracist” is […]

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 […]

Book review: How the Mind Works

If there is one book that I recommend to everybody, regardless, it’s Demon Haunted World, the most efficient, readable, and interesting book to promote critical thinking that I’ve ever come across. But underneath this pursuit lies a curious question: why there is an apparent deficit in critical thinking in the first place.

How the […]

Changing the rules

[Sorry, I’ve been away for several days and come back with a 3,100 word exposition. Is that making up for it or being sadistic?]

In watching the discussions on a couple of forums recently, and knowing how things have gone in several of my own discussions on religion, a couple of points have made themselves clear. These were things that I suspect I have understood subconsciously for a long time, but haven’t really articulated until now.

The first is the arbitrary and selective application of standards, or “rules of evidence” if you will. This is paid homage to, very subtly, in a fairly common debate point among atheists: “I simply believe in one less god than you do.” The point is, there have been literally thousands of gods and supernatural beings throughout history, in most cultures and with a wide variety of properties, powers, and forms. Virtually none of them are taken seriously by anyone, no matter how devout, except for one (or one set): the one that the devout happens to follow. All of the rest – thor and quetzalcoatl, gaea and janus and raksasa, bast and tsetse bumba – are all considered mythology (thanks to godchecker.com for a couple of these.) But if you ever ask for the distinction between myth and god, and believe me I have, you never get a useful answer. There never seems to be any rule, standard, test, or evidence that can be made to apply, to differentiate one (the “true” god) from another.

Continue reading “Changing the rules”