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Comment Re:Yeah... (Score 1) 1105

You're missing the point. In science, if something isn't demonstrably false, it's not "false" -- it's "undetermined." We might have all sorts of reasons to think it's unlikely (which, in the case of god, I could certainly come up with a bunch), but that's not the same thing. Why should scientists (who are human like everyone else) have to be completely devoid of belief in things that aren't testable, so long as it doesn't interfere with their proper judgment of things that *are* testable? And, to be clear, I'm not talking about believing in myths "simply because the myth is framed" in any particular way. I'm talking about people of science turning to faith to answer the question of "why" (which science specifically does not address). They are not contradictory unless it encroaches on actual science.

The existence of a teapot in orbit around Mars is testable. If we knew how to define "fairy" I'm sure the existence of those would be testable as well (this being the problem with most binary assertions about whether or not "god" exists). How the presents arrive under the Christmas Tree and how money shows up under your pillow in place of a tooth are also observable, thereby making a belief in non-observable explanations unnecessary.

While I happen to think that the universe would be magnificently more elegant *without* a creator (which is why I choose to live my life without the belief in one), science isn't what says there isn't one. And, if I may say so, calling people "simpletons" is precisely why this argument so often degenerates before anything productive can be achieved. There are certainly people who believe in things that are at odds with science, and those people I would try to educate about what science really is and what it really does (and what it isn't and doesn't). Was the earth created 6000 years ago? Science tells us it was not, and that's the final word unless you pull the "God created the universe 6000 years ago complete with all of the evidence we find today" card, which, again, is not testable. Similarly, science gives us overwhelming evidence for the occurrence of a Big Bang something like 14 billion years ago, but it tells us nothing about "why." There will always be a "What happened just before that?" question to answer, and nothing in science today is capable of telling us why the universe exists.

Of course, I find the influence of large religious institutions to be damaging, but more so because they are masterful at the manipulation of people, and not so much because they find comfort in believing that there is more meaning to existence than has been observed. That's not harmful, provided that it doesn't contradict what *has* been observed.

Comment Re:Yeah... (Score 1) 1105

It always amazes me when people who claim to understand science think that the absence of evidence means evidence of absence. For full disclosure, I am an engineer and I personally do not believe in god, but since there exists no evidence to prove or disprove the existence of an intelligent creator, it's really not a "contradictory belief" for a scientist to have faith in a creator.

What *IS* contradictory is when a so-called scientist claims that divine intervention is the reason behind something for which we actually have evidence and experimental results to the contrary.

Many people get this wrong: science is not about asking "why", it's about asking "what" (as in, "what happens" and "can I reasonably expect the same thing to happen again, given the same conditions and stimuli?" and NOT "why does this happen?"). "Why" is a question for philosophers, not scientists. If a scientist tells you that he or she can tell you "why" something happens, they're no longer engaging in science.

Comment Re:I freelance, you insensitive clod (Score 2) 172

You don't need to be incorporated to claim deductions as business expenses, you just need to file a Schedule C as a sole proprietor. Incorporation generally gives you protection from liability, and other ways to move money around (your revenue is not yours until the corporation pays you, for instance).

Comment Re:Information wants to be free? (Score 1) 307

How many people who download an episode of Glee from TPB think it was produced by TPB? Probably not many. Now turn it around: how many people who watch that episode of Glee will think JoCo's cover is an original creation of the Glee team? I'm not supporting or defending TPB here, just pointing out that in this case, Jonathan Coulton doesn't get any free publicity out of the appropriation of his work, whereas the creators of Glee get a ton of it from TPB, for better or worse.

Comment Re:More propaganda from the Big Pharma (Score 1) 858

You might have tried reading TFA before accusing the submitter (who, by the way, has a PhD in a science field and probably knows a thing or two about what makes a credible research study) of not providing any evidence to support his position. There are actually quite a few references provided, if you had bothered to check before accusing a well-respected scientist of fabricating a work of pure fiction.

Comment Re:Really, Really, I call BS on your science... (Score 1) 858

Sounds a lot like your daughter simply had an allergic reaction to something in the vaccine. Hell, I get asked if I'm allergic to eggs every time I get a flu shot and before I've ever had IV anesthesia administered. It doesn't have to be a sinister cover-up about "vaccine-related illness" in order for some people -- particularly infants and children -- to have (temporary!) adverse reactions. Whether administering potential allergens to infants is worth the risk of adverse reaction or not, I leave as an exercise to the reader. However, if you'd take the time to read what Phil Plait (the OP) has to say about this issue, you'd realize that the data is not, in fact, "a very very poor sampling" with respect to the assertion that vaccines cause serious neurological conditions like autism.

Comment It's a powerful platform (Score 5, Interesting) 210

I've been saying this for years. Science fiction is a fantastic platform for social commentary precisely because it can convey complex ideas and thought-provoking situations without being overtly political or directly controversial.

Consider how far ahead of its time Star Trek was in terms of exploring a future in which race was irrelevant during the height of the civil rights movement, as well as all of the possible futures that were envisioned (across all of the series) to explore what might happen if humanity continues down a certain path that many people of the time would identify with. Many of those made some pretty grim predictions. Consider also Isaac Asimov's portrayal of robots in the 1950s... many would recognize some social commentary on race in those stories. Twilight Zone, anyone? Sure, some of those episodes were less thought-provoking than others, but quite a few had a poignant "whoa" moment at the end that is both easy to relate to some aspect of society and also hard to forget. The fact that they're all sci-fi stories just means that the writers have a bit more freedom to set the characters up in scenarios that would otherwise be difficult to believe. It's a built-in suspension of disbelief because, after all, "it's just sci-fi, it's not supposed to be real." Conveniently, it still makes you think.

Sci-fi has been able to get people to think about these things for a long time without slapping them in the face with a righteous sermon, and for that I agree it should continue to be much more widely adopted as a platform for "what if..."

Comment Re:FTFA - "this site being a threat to the integri (Score 1) 178

The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted. James Madison

Quite an ironic sig to follow your post! Granted, my own sig is somewhat morally lacking (so there's no value judgment here), and I also appreciate the difference between healthy skepticism and vehement opposition, but I found it amusing nonetheless.

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