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.

Richard Dawkins & John Lennox Debate Science & Atheism | Open Culture

August 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

Ladies and Gentlemen can I get a round of applause for the one the only, Richard Dawkins! →insert Happy Dance here← Am I over selling it? Alright, so it is just a debate.  But, it is a good one.  Thank you @openculture for posting it.

“No one debates quite as well as an Oxford professor. And so today we feature two Oxford profs – atheist biologist Richard Dawkins and Christian mathematician John Lennox – debating God and science in … of all places … Birmingham, Alabama. The debate turns largely on a question raised in Dawkins’ 2006 bestseller, The God Delusion: To what extent can religious belief and serious scientific discovery go hand-in-hand?” Click here to watch the debate on Open Culture.

via Richard Dawkins & John Lennox Debate Science & Atheism | Open Culture.

Are you a Skeptic or a Cynic?

August 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

The next time you are about to call something a load of crap, ask yourself this question. Are you being a skeptic or just a cynic? There is a difference. Yes, there is an overlap many times with a lot of people. Just because something doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of how the world works, doesn’t make it wrong. And, just because a person believes something different from you, does not mean that there is nothing you have in common.  Let’s look at some definitions:

skepticism

Function: noun
Date: 1646
1 : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
2 a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)
synonyms see uncertainty

“skepticism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.

cynical
Function: adjective
Date: 1542

1 : captious, peevish
2 : having or showing the attitude or temper of a cynic: as a : contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives b : based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest

cynically

adverb
synonyms cynical, misanthropic, pessimistic mean deeply distrustful. cynical implies having a sneering disbelief in sincerity or integrity . misanthropic suggests a rooted distrust and dislike of human beings and their society misanthropic artist>. pessimistic implies having a gloomy, distrustful view of life .

“cynical.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.

I was a cynic most of my life. It was just the way I was raised. My Parents, my older brother, the media even many of my teachers warned me that everyone was out to take advantage of me.  At a young age it was drilled into me. My name PJ got transformed into Pigeon whenever my brother thought I was being gullible. When I had a few bad experiences with friends betraying my trust, that sealed the deal. I assumed that my family was right and everyone was out for themselves and I became a cynic.

It is a horrible lonely way to live your life. It is completely fear based and has absolutely no merit. My transformation from a cynic to a skeptic has opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities. A world with less anger fear and greed.

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” Siddhartha

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”-Siddhartha

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”-Yoda (sense of humor check)

After spending a few hours on the internet or watching the news, I know it is hard not to become a little jaded I am just saying don’t let it change who you are. Remember, the people screaming the loudest are the crazy ones.

The Importance of Unbelief | Stephen Fry

July 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

Skeptic Top Trumps Cards by Caricature Club

Stephen Fry, for those who don’t know him, is a brilliant actor, writer, quiz show host and all around great guy. I stumbled upon this interview on  bigthink.com from December 2009. I missed it so I am sure others did as well. Despite his fascination with European football, my husband and I are huge fans.

“You can’t just say there is a God because well, the world Is beautiful. You have to account for bone cancer in children. You have to account for the fact that almost all animals in the wild live under stress with not enough to eat and will die violent and bloody deaths. There is not any way that you can just choose the nice bits and say that means there is a God and ignore the true fact of what nature is. The wonder of nature must be taken in its totality and it is a wonderful thing. It is absolutely marvelous and the idea that an atheist or a humanist if you want to put it that way, doesn’t marvel and wonder at reality, at the way things are, is nonsensical. The point is we wonder all the way. We don’t just stop and say that which I cannot understand I will call God, which is what mankind has done historically. That’s to say God was absolutely everything a thousand or two thousand years ago because we understood almost nothing about the natural world, so it could all be God and then as we understood more God receded and receded and receded, so suddenly now he is barely anywhere. He is just in those things we don’t understand, which are important, but I think it just is such an insult to humanity and the Greeks got it right. The Greeks understood perfectly that if there were divine beings they are capricious, unkind, malicious mostly, temperamental, envious and mostly deeply unpleasant because that you can say well yes, all right, if there is going to be god or gods then you have to admit that they’re very at the very least capricious. They’re certainly not consistent. They’re certainly not all loving. I mean really it’s just not good enough.” Read or see Video of the full interview.

via The Importance of Unbelief | Stephen Fry | Big Think.

Critical Thinking 101: A Skeptics Toolkit

July 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

Have you ever tried convincing someone that ghosts aren’t real, aliens are not abducting people or that psychics are con artists, only to end up in an argument? It has happened to me. More often you are presented with a situation where a friend or family member states something you know to be complete baloney, but out of politeness or fear you say nothing. Well, thanks to The Cleveland Skeptics, now you can. They have put together a toolkit. When someone says something stupid just find the appropriate video or podcast and send it to them. It is also a good idea to go through all of the material yourself.

“Critical Thinking 101

These are videos, podcasts, articles and books that, I think, provide the basic knowledge for skepticism. These are the essential tools that every active skeptic should have.” Please read and bookmark

via The Cleveland Skeptics: Critical Thinking 101.

Science-based Hippies? « She Thought

July 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

What? Oh, OK now I get it. I must admit I only clicked on this story by Deb Hodgkin because of the interesting title. I have in the past been accused of being a “Hippy” by people who did not know me. Of course once they got to know me they changed their opinion. I am not sure whether they changed their opinion about me or about hippies though. When I saw it was a post about breast-feeding, my first instinct was to move along. After all, my husband and  I have no children and never will. Why do I care how long women breast feed. Then I realized that wasn’t really what the story was about. It is more about how we ‘skeptics’ deal with people we think are wrong, in online discussions. I think it builds nicely on Phil Plait‘s ‘Don’t be a Dick’ campaign. Has that become a campaign yet? I should work on a campaign poster. Damn AADD, Where was I? Oh yes. Please Read Deb’s Article.

“I’ve noticed an interesting pattern in discussions – it is almost always skeptics asking crunchies to prove their point of view. And why not, you may think, skepticism is about using evidence. But where is the evidence that shows kidneys are better than dialysis? What paper shows walking is better than wheelchairs? In other words, surely the natural option should be the starting point, and formula, cots, prams etc represent the intervention that has to prove itself. I’m not into living naturally – I’m very fond of my mattress and will happily believe anecdotes that electricity is a good thing – so I’m not assuming natural is best. But for true skepticism we need to look at the biases of the evidence, and they can be hard to detect if they match your own baggage. Don’t we need to step back and examine our own position, and question whether it is evidence or culture guiding us?  For me, skepticism is about questioning, and the basis of that must be questioning my own position and beliefs. My skepticism must come from a place of humility.” Read full article on She Thought.

via Science-based Hippies? « She Thought.

Essential Freethought Library

July 13, 2010 § 4 Comments

The wonderful people at American Freethought have compiled a Skeptics Summer Reading list. See if there is anything you have missed.

American Freethought

THE ESSENTIAL FREETHOUGHT LIBRARY (Updated July 11, 2010)

“We contacted a more or less random sample of notable freethinkers–bloggers, podcasters, authors, and leaders in the freethought/atheist/skeptic communities–and asked them to send us their list of recommended works for the well-read freethinker.  (Among those who responded are Sam Harris, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phil Plait, George Hrab and Massimo Pigliucci.)  From this long list of suggestions–over 250 works–we have compiled this Essential Freethought Library.  The list takes into account the frequency with which a work was recommended, the frequency with which a particular writer was recommended, and the dates of publication.  Free free to send us your suggestions.”


The Essential Ten (←click Here for original link and full list of publications)

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