But how? Part 21: Assertion

So, I started this category many moons ago with the idea that it would be used to answer (mostly unasked) questions that religious folk like to pose towards atheists, essentially showing how a secular standpoint covers more bases than it’s usually given credit for. At times since, the structure of posing an initial question hasn’t really worked, yet I still felt that the topic fit in read more

Occam’s stubble

There is a concept, a meme if you will, that shows up a lot in critical-thinking circles, and I’ve even tackled it a few times before here. Commonly known as “Occam’s Razor” but also by the less folksy term of parsimony, it provides a very simple measuring stick: if multiple explanations can be advanced for any given facts or events, the simplest read more

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 defined as someone who believes or promotes a conspiracy theory. Which means that my use of it herein read more

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 time discussing ghost stories, or UFO encounters, or miracles, and so on – ‘skeptic’ is read more

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, though they might fall right in line with the odds in a favorable way – read more

You’re doing that deliberately!

There’s a method of presenting information that I see way too much of, from writers and educators that really should know better, and I can’t help but believe it’s doing more harm than good. I’ve probably used it a few too many times myself, but now I’m going to be aware of it and try never to use it, at least in circumstances where it is misleading. I refer to “language read more

But how? Part 11: Certainty or confidence?

Note: I’ve had this is draft form for several days, tweaking it and waiting for a good opportunity to put it up I try to rotate and space out posts, and just recently put up another of the numbered series posts. Then this morning, Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True posted virtually the same sentiment, and now I look like I’m copying him. So here it is anyway.

* read more

Unevidence

Some things get accepted into culture, maybe unintentionally, maybe in a casual way, but then become established enough that we get fooled into thinking they came from a reputable source, or from careful consideration most of philosophy is this way, it seems. One that I’m going to address here is something that I’ve coined unevidence.

Unevidence should not be confused with the curious read more

But how? Part nine: Agnosticism

Walkabout podcast – But how? Part 9

So, once again we depart a little from the typical structure of the ‘But How?’ series of posts. Most of the others examined read more

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