Tag Archives: science

The Illuminator Comic: Bob the believer!

I created this character called Bob the Believer (Believer Bob),  the quintessential religious, Bible thumping, fundamentalist  whack job.
Believer Bob tries unsuccessfully to stump Triangle Head every time.  You’ll notice that Bob totally rejects every scientific theory and favors Creationism at every turn. Cognitive Dissonance!
Enjoy! 🙂

Also on Instagram @the_illuminator_comic
http://www.theilluminatorcomic.com

What is The Illuminator Comic?
“The Illuminator”, is a character driven comic strip by Chris Pinto, that turns Religion, Politics and Conspiracy theory on it’s head.
The Protagonist, Triangle-head is an evil dude, with a soft heart. He is a member of the Illuminati. Join him on a quest to keep things real, while raising his three year old son Baltar, to someday lead the New World Order.
~ by Chris Pinto

Trust: Authority and Abuse of Power

Originally published on www.answers-in-reason.com Jan 2016

Trusting people is embedded in us from birth. We trust our parents to do everything for us. They are the definitive authority on EVERYTHING.

As we grow older we are taught to respect our elders and to listen to our teachers. Everyone seems to be in a category of “bigger & older = knows better” – and you accept it. Why wouldn’t you? These people have taught you everything you know; to speak, to read, to write, to eat… everything. You trust these people without question, or at least are quickly put down if you do question.

We make choices and follow people, from our parents to religious leaders, based on trust. This is actually quite an issue as to an extent as, at young age, everyone is gullible.

Gullible

“easily persuaded to believe something; credulous.”

We often trust those closest to us enough that we accept without question. As we get older we might start to question things, or learn “Truths” we have been told are not true.

One of the first experiences most in the western world have is learning that Santa Clause is not real. You might have started to not believe it on your own, had your parents tell you, or overheard other people speaking about it. This revelation that Santa Clause is not real can feel like your whole world has dropped away from you. You might start to question other things you know, but more often than not; people accept that it was just a bit of fun whilst they were young and everything else they have been told is still “True”.

Even if you are a cynic you can still be easily persuaded to believe something in the right circumstances.

For example:

Almost a decade ago my first son was born to me. It is amazing how it changes the world for you, and how you will change for your child too. It’s no lie that you will be more emotional, at least where your child is concerned. Unfortunately the way you feel can interfere with the way you think, even to the extent of you losing all rational thought.

We got my boy his vaccinations, but he had a bad reaction to one of them. It was only fever and vomiting for a couple of days but it scared the crap out of us.

His grandmother, from his mother side, used this opportunity to install fear of vaccinations in me. As a leading hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner there is no doubt she could have been manipulating me with persuasion techniques, but the key thing she did was play on my emotions.

Knowing that I quite like science, she spoke about a scientist who had been studying how they can affect the brain. Knowing I been told I had ADHD when I lived in america, she spoke of how a scientist hand linked Vaccination with ADHD. This was just a correlation but at the time I though “I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve got it..” not considering the millions who do not have ADHD but had their shots. She played the conspiracy card, I’d already bought in at this point but this just added fuel to the fire.  She gave me a few names which I researched and looked around at other articles and I found a wealth of information. The thing I forgot in this instance was to research the other side, in fact.. why would I? It would all be lies right?

By this point I had flaming hot belief. I couldn’t be reasoned with. My child was not getting any more poison in his veins!

Looking back I feel so guilty about how I essentially risked his life over an unfounded belief. I’ve forgiven myself, but not forgotten. Every time someone says something this pops up in my mind as a reminder to verify facts before thinking a certain way. The less I know about a topic, the more I should research!

Eventually I started noticing holes in her story. Suddenly it wasn’t ADHD, it was autism. I considered the stance on mercury, and found that there is more mercury in one tin of tuna than most people get in a life time of vaccinations. I consider that we all have small quantities of substances in our body that in large quantities would kill us but in the amount we have they are perfectly benine. Some even are beneficial. I consider that if we drink enough water it can kill us, but we need that for our every day survival. I wonder how a few foreign cells in our body can cause something as significant in our brain as autism.

I start researching. I brush up on vaccines. I find out that the whole autism thing had been debunked and the Doc in question had been banned from practicing medicine. I found that scientist thought it nearly impossible and there was a complete lack of evidence to support vaccines can change us in any way other than enabling us to build the antibody.

I learned about herd immunity. I discovered that not all immunisations were 100% effective, and considered; a condom isn’t 100% effective at preventing disease or seminal transmission but I would take 98% over 0% any day. I learned that some people were too weak to get vaccinations and require the help of those around them, because if they got ill they could die.

It took a while to convince his mother, largely as she was still concerned about his reaction last time, but we got those vaccinations. Better late than never. He was a bit older and we explained why. He was so brave, and gave the lady a cuddle after. She’d never had a child do that to her before. He genuinely got that she was doing what was best for him. That’s that childish trust again. In this instance it was in the right place but critical thinking also needs to be installed!

So yeah, I was very gullible. I put my trust in someone I respected and saw as an athoratitive figure. Someone I actually loved and saw as my second mother. someone who seemed so knowledgeable.

Persuasion

“The action or process of persuading someone or of being persuaded to do or believe something.”

You may think I am a total fool for what I describe above. I will admit to being foolish, but I learned from the experience. You are only a fool if you keep falling in to the same traps.

How was I persuaded? Let’s recap.

  • Trust: I respected her and took what she said to be true without thinking she may be wrong.
  • Fear: Played on emotions. “Damage to your baby” –  Wasn’t thinking straight.
  • Correlation: Related it to something that connected it to me: ADHD
  • Mistrust: conspiracy theory.
  • Confirmation Bias: Only looking at the point that 100% backed up my belief without considering anything else.

Pride

“consciousness of one’s own dignity.”

The hardest thing most people find to do is admitting when they are wrong. This is often due to their sense of pride or fear. How will friends picture them if they were wrong. It is hard enough admitting that you were the one that forgot to take the dog out which is why he messed on the floor, let alone admit that one of your beliefs you have been fighting for and has been molded in to part of you personality was erroneous.

This can keep people peddling the same belief, in fact with a renewed fire. On some level they must perceive that getting other people to believe in it will somehow strengthen their own.

Again, these people abuse their trust.

Correlation

“the process of establishing a relationship or connection between two or more things.”

I briefly touched on correlation in the gullible section. Correlation is a powerful tool that people use to build trust in what they are saying. But what does it really mean?

All it means is you link two things together. Whilst you could link drinking alcohol to having a hangover you also have the evidence of this. Some things that do correlate can lead you to the root cause. They are a great place to start an investigation but you can never take the correlation to be the cause without evidence to actually back it up. Correlation is not causation. Here is a funny little site that puts some great examples of correlation: http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

Possibly one of the best linked is this one with a 99.7% correlation rate.

landing on space vs hanging

One of my favorites is this one linking the number of films Nicolas Cage has been in vs Number of people drowned in a pool. This only has a 66% correlation but it does make me giggle.

correlation trust nicolas cage

Neither of the above are actually linked, yet set on a graph in that way it looks like they could be. Graphs seem to make everything seem factual and logical, even in the face of a lack of both.

This is the same as the whole vaccinations causing autism or homosexuals being given rights to marry causing storms. Correlation is not causation.

Not wanting to know

Some people operate purely on a “My friend said” “My friend knows” level. Their trust is totally in someone else and they relay the bite size information they can remember/understand to peak other people’s interest.

People are so desperate to have everything they want handed to them. How many people have you worked with that wanted the promotion but wouldn’t put in any additional work themselves? Or those that won’t learn a new skill by researching and practicing.. no.. they want the company to send them on a course. Why learn for yourself when you can be spoonfed by someone else?

The same can be said for religion, anti-vaxxers, or any similar topic. They barely even want to know or understand the detail of the belief they are fighting for, let alone consider a different opinion. More than once I’ve heard, “I should let my friend explain it to you, she understands the science” or similar.

How can any rational person peddle something they don’t even understand?

Never Know?

Can we ever truly know the truth? Speaking generally, of course not. What we can rely on is evidence and rigorus investigation. You can either choose to get a degree and become a scientist in the field you are interested in, or you can trust things that 99%+ of scientists agree on. Most findings have plenty of articles you can read, all peer-reviewed and mostly objective. You should also make yourself aware of opposing articles. And research as best you can add validity to any claim.

The thing is with science, if anything is ever found to be wrong, they correct their findings. As technology improves so does our knowledge and understanding of ourselves improves. Could we one day find a better alternative to vaccinations? Maybe. At the moment they are the best we’ve got.

Is Faith Just Trust?

An interesting question I asked my self. “Self,” I said, “Is faith just trust?”
I pondered the question. Just, as in fair? Is it fair to have trust in something completely unknown and inconceivably bigger than you? I suppose if it makes you happy… but is it fair to impose that on other people?

Of course, that is not what I was asking myself at all. After blithering on to myself for about 20 minutes I returned to the original question and its true meaning. Is faith just (as in only) trust?

One definition of faith is exactly that: complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Another definition is: strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. But that belief is based on trust. You are trusting that it is true.

One could argue that faith is trust minus evidence. If we think about trust vs faith in a religious sense the I would suggest just that. Faith is trust without any evidence. Trust is learned from experience.

Why do people have faith?

Trust. Do you ever wonder how christian parents seem to have christian babies? Or how Hindu parents have Hindu babies? Sure from time to time one leaves the flock but in general people are the religion they are born in to.

The parent’s belief becomes the child. They know no other side of the story. The threat of eternal punishment is often used to strike fear in the hearts of children. They mught not even question it because they fear that will land them in hell. Sometimes families reject children that reject their relgion. People attach emotions to their faith. Both fear and love. Communities are built round it. And they have their leaders who speak to God and act in his stead.

People in positions of trust persuade people in to their faith in very similar ways to the previous story.

  • Trust: Authoritative figures, parents/priest/vicar/etc
  • Emotions: Fear and Love. (in some instances hatred)
  • Confirmation Bias: The bible is true because it says its true in the bible. Only taking time to read/understand things that back up your belief.
  • Mistrust: Anyone telling you your faith is a lie is an agent of the devil! (Conspiricy!)
  • Pride: Can’t admit when wrong “On some level they must perceive that getting other people to believe in it will somehow strengthen their own”
  • Logic: Erroneous Abductive Logic

Never Know?

We’ll never know, at least until we are dead, in fact even then we might not know because the likely hood is; there is nothing.

Is it worth worrying about? If you live your life doing good things to be good, rather than just because you think it will get you into some paradise after you die, doesn’t that make you a better person? Doing good, “just ‘cos”.

Faith in the face of evidence leaves us with people that think the world is flat and only 6000 years old.

We may never know if there is a God or not, all we have got is evidence. Most people don’t get to choose their religion, they are thrust in to it. However for a critical thinker do you think atheism is a choice?

Who should you trust?

“…when all their words turn to dust” – S. Payne

When it comes to someone making a claim, in all honesty; no one. Not even yourself. You may think you know, but you don’t know you know till you verify it.  I would try to surround yourself with people who think critically. Anyone can be drawn off at any time, but with enough critical thinkers around you there should always be enough fresh thought to keep you going.

Whilst you may grow to trust in many people, always stay objective until you have fully researched something yourself. Make objective decisions based on evidence, logic, and reason.

 

David Ian Livingtone

A Beginner’s Guide to David Avocado Wolfe

https://www.facebook.com/SkridjetPersonal/videos/1347400945289579/

 

I put this video together because I don’t think enough people truly understand who and what David Avocado Wolfe is. He has somehow amassed over 7,000,000 Facebook followers, and I’m sure many of those followers aren’t aware that they’re essentially supporting dangerous ideas that border lunacy. Some may argue that he’s just a guy who has strange beliefs and we should leave him alone, but the ideas he pushes become hazardous and have real-world consequences when he starts giving ‘medical advice’ to people who are suffering from diseases that require real medical treatment.

Daniel Bennett of AAPN has also written a great article that completely dismantles David’s claims on salt.

#DontCryWolfe

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Here is a great explanation on the David Avocado Wolfe phenomenon.

Here is another great article on David Wolfe.

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Video clips taken from:

JonasSunshine

Chris Rathouz

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Music: CFCF – Oil

The Hamza Tzortiz handbrake u-turn on scientific miracles in quran

The Hamza Tzortiz handbrake u-turn on scientific miracles in quran

Originally published on www.answers-in-reason.com March 2016

 

I was more than shocked having recently read Hamza Tzortiz’s essay stating:

Regrettably, the scientific miracles narrative has become an intellectual embarrassment for Muslim apologists, including myself.

Full paper can be read by clicking here

I take my hat off to his honesty. I respect the effort he actually put into his essay in putting forth the arguments against scientific miracles in quran:

There are an array of reasons of why the above expressions of the scientific miracles are problematic and incoherent. These include,

  1. The Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle

  2. Inaccurate History

  3. Teleology of the Qur’ānic Verses

  4. Scientism, the Problem of Induction and Empiricism

  5. “Unscientific” Verses

  6. Miracles, Simplicity and A Note on Qur’ānic Exegesis

I hope he has not received any negativity and especially the violent rhetoric afforded to people that speak out on such matters as this is a massive statement to make considering he was such a high profile advocate and apologist for the scientific miracles in quran since its publication in 2013.

A short bio on Tzortiz:

Hamza Andreas Tzortzis was born 21st September 1980. He is an international lecturer who has lectured in many universities including USA, Australia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada and Lebanon. The lecturer has authored many books and articles on his personal blog. As a debater he has debated many popular professors including Professor Lawrence Krauss, Professor Simon Blackburn, Professor Ken Gemes and Professor and Dan Barker. Hamza heads up a team called iERA,(Islamic Education and Research Academy).

As honest as Tzortiz has been, his group are still selling a publication called The Man in the Red Underpants. In this publication is stated:

Actually what is remarkable about the Quran is not only that it does not contain any contradictions , but in fact it seems to be making statements about history, theology, philosophy, law and the natural world that defies a normal human explanation..

The pamphlet goes on to talk about, inter alia, the Big Bang Theory, embryonic development and plate tectonics and concludes,

It is easy to understand how the Creator would know about the common origin of the universe, the details of embryonic development and that mountains have roots but it is not easy to explain how Muhammad managed to include the information in the Qur’an unless we accept his claim to be a Messenger. It would seem that accepting this would be the most sensible thing for a rational, sincere person to do.

In my opinion this publication needs to be revised to no longer include this. This has been for too long an argument used and still used by imam in the mosque or parent to child or proselytiser, and the bane of my life, the internet debater with no knowledge of the science they are attempting to talk about. Oh and lest we not forget Zakir “The Snake” Naik.

scientific miracles in quran

A New Approach

Ohhhh, things seemed to be going so well until Tzortiz mentions his new approach. That being:

How to articulate this in a simple way

For those concerned on how to articulate this in a simple way I suggest a simple step process:

1. When talking about Divine revelation speak about:

  • the fact that there are historical statements that are mentioned in the Qur’ān were not known at the time

  • the linguistic and literary miracle of the Qur’ān

  • the fact that Qur’ān is preserved

  • the meaning and message of the Qur’ān

  • the Qur’ān’s concept of God

  • other remarkable features of the Qur’ān

I believe the same logic applied by Tzortiz can be levelled at the historical statements which are claimed could not be known. Why stop there Hamza?

I don’t get the linguistic part. there is a part where Muhammed is asked to write a divinely inspired poem. It is rubbish. It keeps repeating the same line over and over again. This to me is the nature of the quran. Lots of filler statements regarding allah repeated over and over and over and over and over and over.

The meaning and message of quran is much like, in fact almost cargbon copy of the fire and brimstone god of the Old Testament.

His concept is straight out of OT also.

Remarkable features? Not sure what they could be. Islamic rhetoric!!

Effects of his essay

It speaks volumes that its greatest proponent will make such a statement however it seems very little positive effects because of this, apart from Tzortiz making things right publicly with the scientific community. The debates mention quran’s scientific miracles still flow. His book is still available to download with no revision. The imams still preach it from the mosques and the young minds are still fed it at home and in madrassa. The islamic world seems to either have not noticed their chief proponent has made this u-turn or choose to ignore it. Why on earth would they do that?

Is islam that weak that they can not embrace the fact that the quran contains no scientific miracles?

I wonder whether the punishment for apostasy would apply to someone that was duped into accepting islam on the back of these purported miracles and have lost faith because they are no longer to be considered miracles? Also I got no apology for those duped or misled.

All in all an effort was made but really a half assed attempt. We want an apology, we want a fatwah exempting anyone that leaves islam on the back of this revelation and we need the Red Underwear publication revised!! Until then my hat firmly replaced on my head and tipped gently to all readers….

You may wish to check out this article published on www.answers-in-reason.com a short while ago http://answers-in-reason.com/religion/islam/is-the-quran-perfect/ as well as the other great articles produced here at www.thescientificatheist.com

Wishing you all a godless and logic based March 2016

Alan The Atheist

A possible link between the ultra religious and low IQ’s

A possible link between the ultra religious and low IQ’s

ultra religious

A study from 2013

A study from Gallup Polling found religiousness across the U.S. in 2013 remained similar to previous years. With 61% of its residents classified as very religious, Mississippi held on to its position as the most religious state.

% of Population With Bachelor’s Degrees or Higher: 20.4%

Median Household Income (2013): $37,963 (51st)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1673

Average IQ and Ranking: 94.2 (50th)

Mississippi is the state of a bygone era. Prior to the Civil War, Mississippi’s agricultural economy — and reliance on slave labor — made it the fifth wealthiest state in the country. However currently it is near the bottom in most economic and educational measures. Mississippi residents received $2.02 in federal spending for every dollar they paid in taxes. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country at 20.1%.

Sources:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/167267/mississippi-religious-vermont-least-religious-state.aspx

http://www.thestreet.com/story/12712489/19/the-10-dumbest-states-in-america.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/poll-how-americans-feel-about-the-states-2013-8

Facts are Facts!

Facts

 

Facts are Facts!

When the facts and evidence contradicts ones beliefs then you need to change your beliefs because facts are facts regardless of what you believe.

-Fact: We evolved from a common ancestor that we share with other great apes.

Evidence: Fossils found in Africa and DNA studies have consistently shown us this and is even part of the basic foundations of biology.

-Fact: The earth is roughly 4.6 billion years old.

Evidence: Radiocarbon dating and Lead Uranium Dating, this process focuses on the ratio between the number of carbon-14 and carbon-12 isotopes and is very reliable. Lead Uranium Dating method relies on two separate decay chains, the uranium series from 238U to 206Pb, with a half-life of 4.47 billion years and the actinium series from 235U to 207Pb, with a half-life of 710 million years. It can be used to date rocks that formed from about 1 million years to over 4.5 billion years ago with routine precisions in the 0.1–1 percent range. There are also very old zircon rock from Australia that are 4.374 billion years old.

-Fact: The universe is roughly 13.4 billion years old.

Evidence: The age of the universe is determined by using two different methods, by studying the oldest objects within the universe and measuring how fast it is expanding.

Saying “I feel something” or handing someone a religious text does not count as fact or evidence.

-AAPN

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Facts

The Three Strikes on Organic Foods.

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Over the years organic foods have taken the produce aisle by storm, yet is there anything to substantiate this claim? Although most informed individuals already know organic foods are not sustainable to the general population, there are many purported claims to the benifits of organic foods vs. conventionally harvested produce. In classic AAPN style, we are going to debunk the ever living crap out of those.

Claim Number 1: Organic foods are safer. (FALSE)   Continue reading The Three Strikes on Organic Foods.