Why I hate labels or Guilt by association.

August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Almost every social networking site on the internet requires your to fill out a personal bio section. That “Tell us a little about yourself” box always makes me cringe. It took me weeks to put an “About me” page on this blog. Part of the reason is I find it hard to talk about myself. (I am getting over that.) The main reason though is people are judgmental bastards.

In my real life I don’t socialize with people anymore. It takes way too much energy that I simply do not have. However, in the real world you get to know a person with small talk over time. You don’t walk up to a stranger and ask are you married? how many kids do you have? What religion are you? What political party do you belong to? What medical conditions you have? Oh, well we don’t agree, I guess I won’t talk to you. That would just be …OK that would be funnier than hell, but it would not work.

The labels I use on these sites usually end up not telling the whole story. How could they, they are only a label you have to open the folder to read whats inside. Unfortunately most people are too lazy to look beyond the surface. Why not judge a book by its cover when there are so many books to choose from?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care if people think I am wrong or that my Ideas are nuts. Most of the time I admit that I have no idea what the right answer is and I am pretty sure I am nuts. I just don’t want to be misjudged by the label is choose to associate myself with.

For example, I am an atheist. To me that simply means I do not believe in a creator or higher power.  Since I have been hanging around the twitterverse and blogospher I have learned that to many people atheists are angry, hedonistic, unethical, Satan worshipers. I am not even sure how that last one would work. But, I can assure you I am none of those things. Well, maybe a little hedonistic. ;-}

I am also a Non-Dualist. Now this one is a little tougher because people don’t always understand what that means so they dismiss it as  woo or new age bullshit. It is not. Nondualism simply means that the mind and the body are not two separate entities. In other words, there is no “soul” to live on after the body dies.

Through much reading it seems that I am also something called a Pantheist. Pantheism is the belief that our entire universe and everything and every one in it are one and are connected. However most of the definitions and blogs on the internet do not represent my beliefs at all. So I am reluctant to label my self as such.

One of my favorite misjudged and misused labels is skeptic. My definition of a skeptic is a person who uses critical thinking and a reason based on scientific evidence.  I have seen the world skeptic used in place of cynic. I have seen it used by people who have no idea what the word means at all. The so-called “Skeptic Movement”, while a great idea, really needs a PR campaign educating the public on what skepticism means.

My point is this, I don’t care if you think I am a nut job because I probably am. I just don’t want to be lumped in with the other nut jobs that I have nothing in common with just because of a label I chose. Oh well, I am sure most people stopped reading this post when I wrote the word atheist…Judgmental bastards.  If you are still reading this what is wrong with you? See, I do it too. Thank you for taking the time to read beyond the labels.

An Independent Diplomat

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I don’t generally post about politics.  When I really think about it this post isn’t about politics either. It is about “The Big Picture” and all of us being connected.

Carne Ross is the founder of Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit that offers freelance diplomatic representation to small, developing and yet-unrecognized nations in the complex world of international negotiations. His TED Talk from October 2009 reminds all of us not only how interconnected we are, but falling off a cliff can be a good thing.

We are living in a more complicated and fragmented world. If governments are less able to affect the problems that affect us in the world, then that means, who is left to deal with them, who has to take greater responsibility to deal with them? Us. If they can’t do it, who’s left to deal with it? We have no choice but to embrace that reality. What this means is it’s no longer good enough to say that international relations, or global affairs, or chaos in Somalia, or what’s going on in Burma is none of your business, and that you can leave it to governments to get on with. I can connect any one of you by six degrees of separation to the Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia. Ask me how later, but if you eat fish, interestingly enough, but that connection is there. We are all intimately connected.

Check these out also:

Independent Diplomat: The Diplomatic Advisory Group

Carne Ross Blog at Huffington Post

?Whatif! The Innovation Company

Carne Ross The Independent Diplomat by Christine Flanagan

The Most Dangerous Idea in the World?

September 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

What is the most dangerous idea in the world? Kyle Munkittrick has one. How dangerous do you think it is?

To think scientifically is to think dangerously. Scientists, from Copernicus to Galileo to Darwin, are among the many “Great spirits [who] have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds,” as Einstein so eloquently put it. Daniel Dennett, a prominent New Atheist and philosopher of science, aptly named one of his tomes on evolution Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Constantly challenging the status quo, science is the engine of the future. Science generates the ideas and science fiction gives us whole universes in which to explore them. Science fiction classics like Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-four, Slaughterhouse-Five, and A Wrinkle in Time are oft challenged on the premise that they are dangerous or harmful to the impressionable minds reading them. So science and sci-fi push the envelope, but among all of the guesses, theories, and what-ifs, is there an idea most dangerous? Please read the full story…

via The Most Dangerous Idea in the World | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine.

See also:

What is the next step in evolution?

September 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

In case you missed it like I did, Susan Blackmore wrote a terrific article about memes for the New York Times.

Of course cars and books are passive lumps of metal, paper and ink. They cannot copy, let alone vary and select information themselves. So could any of our modern meme products take the step our hominid ancestors did long ago and begin a new kind of copying? Yes. They could and they are. Our computers, all linked up through the Internet, are beginning to carry out all three of the critical processes required for a new evolutionary process to take off. Read the full story… View comments and Sue’s responses here

via The Third Replicator – NYTimes.com.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Void that is truly empty solves dark energy puzzle?

“In our picture, quarks and gluons can’t flutter in and out of existence unless they are inside hadrons,” says team member Craig Roberts of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. As a result, the vacuum is much calmer and, crucially, the problem it poses for the cosmological constant is reduced. Read the full story at NewScientist

More brain food. Yummy.

Neuroscientists Need to Communicate Their Research to the Public More Effectively

September 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

Dumb it down a little for the press please, but we are not all like Homer, here.

Communicating science can be difficult, and for neuroscientists, it is particularly challenging because the subject matter—how our brains work—is highly complex. Research is often reported inaccurately because many journalists who cover neuroscience have little understanding of the field. Instead of enhancing the public understanding of neuroscience, media coverage of brain research often propagates misinformation. Read the full story…

via Talkin’ Brains – Dana Foundation.

“Consciousness” Is How We Know We Exist

September 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have no witty remarks or valuable insights to add.

“Consciousness” Is How We Know We Exist Antonio Damasio Behavioral Neurobiologist The mind allows us to understand what the world is like, but it is consciousness that gives us the subjective vantage to say “I am here, I exist, I have a life and there are things around me that refer to me.”  Read Comments and discussion at BIG Think

Simply the best music video I have seen.

September 2, 2010 § 2 Comments

There is nothing more to say.

Thank you Rachel Bloom and thank you Penn Jillette for bringing this to my attention.

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