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.

Crisis in the Gulf of Mexico

July 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

Just because BP has capped the well does NOT mean the crisis is over. It is just beginning. This is about all of us, not just the people living the gulf. What happens in the oceans effects every living organism on the planet.

MERI Director Investigates Impacts of BP Disaster on Gulf Sea Life

http://ted.com/talks/view/id/925

MERI Director and marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw just returned from the Gulf of Mexico where, accompanied by a London Times crew, she dove in the oil slick to get a first-hand look at impacts on marine life. She is one of few experts who have actually gone underwater to investigate the spill’s effects.

via Crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

A public immunity to freeloaders « The Tribal Scientist

July 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

So many articles have been written about the Anti-Vaxers lately that they start to blend together. This one by Mike McRae really stands out. He approaches the subject in a reasoned and rational way. Not that I don’t appreciate the sarcasm and humor of other recent posts that have taken on Jenny Mccarthy and the AVN. Please take the time to read this one as well.

“I’m happy to shoulder that burden on behalf of any individual whose constitution puts them at a significantly greater risk of illness should they be vaccinated, just as I’m happy for the taxes I pay to help benefit those who are impeded from working. Yet for those who simply don’t like the idea that the demonstrably miniscule odds are too much for their child to risk, I feel no such obligation.” Read the full story

via A public immunity to freeloaders « The Tribal Scientist.

What’s wrong with evolutionary biology 101?:Pharyngula

July 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

It's more than genes, it's networks and systems|pharyngulaI learn more about biology reading PZ Myer’s blog than I ever did in school. Of course I went to mostly private religious schools, and then their were the dark ages spent in the Utah public school system. I don’t remember them teaching biology in Utah. They did have an animal husbandry class. I skipped that one.

“Here’s the problem, and also a brief introduction to Evolutionary Biology 201.

First, [evolutionary biology 101] it’s not exactly wrong — it’s more like taking one good explanation of certain kinds of evolution and making it a sweeping claim that that is how all evolution works. By reducing it to this one scheme, though, it makes evolution far too plodding and linear, and reduces it all to a sort of personal narrative. It isn’t any of those things. What’s left out in the 101 story, and in creationist tales, is that: evolution is about populations, so many changes go on in parallel; selectable traits are usually the product of networks of genes, so there are rarely single alleles that can be categorized as the effector of change; and genes and gene networks are plastic or responsive to the environment. All of these complications make the actual story more complicated and interesting, and also, perhaps to your surprise, make evolutionary change faster and more powerful.” Please read the full story on Science Blogs

via It’s more than genes, it’s networks and systems : Pharyngula.

A Ridiculous Essay on Rational Outreach (via The Tribal Scientist)

July 19, 2010 § 5 Comments

Fantastic insights. Humor has always reached me better than any other form of communication. Someone is always going to be offended. It is the up to the person that was offended to look at themselves and ask why? Obviously there is some truth in what was said that frightens you and you are not willing to laugh at yourself.

“I don’t think we should go out of our way to insult Islam because it doesn’t do any good to get your head cut off. But we should always say that I may refrain from publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, but it’s because I fear you. Don’t for one moment think it’s because I respect you.” -Richard Dawkins, 2010 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. Fear can be quite an effective motivator when it comes to silencing your critics. Make peop … Read More

via The Tribal Scientist

Can you help save the world sitting on you ass?

July 17, 2010 § 6 Comments

Ways YOU can help save the world from home without getting off your ass.

You may say “People should get off their ass to help!” My response is: Unfortunately, not all of us can. Whether they be physical, financial, social or just plain weird sometimes circumstances make us feel useless and trapped. Helping others is the best way to feel better about your own life. All of the examples I have listed below are free, easy, fun, educational and cool. You will soon forget started doing it to help others. In fact by doing these things you are really helping yourself.

  • Join Zooniverse :
    • Explore the Moon in unprecedented detail using images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
    • Help astronomers figure out how galaxies form and evolve by classifying their shape. Now with added Hubble galaxies.Help spot explosions on the Sun and track them across space to Earth. Your work will give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way.Help us to catch an exploding star – astronomers are ready to follow-up on your best candidates at telescopes around the world.
    • How do galaxies merge? Help us find out by visiting Galaxy Zoo Mergers – Explore, Enhance, Evaluate.
  • Join World Community Grid– Donate the power of your computer when it is turned on, but is idle, to projects that benefit humanity! They provide the secure software and system that does it all for free, and you become part of a community that is helping to change the world. Once you install the software, you will be participating in World Community Grid. It’s that simple!
  • Once you have the software installed for Wold Community Grid, you can attach to other projects like: LHC@home is a volunteer computing program which enables you to contribute idle time on your computer to help physicists develop and exploit particle accelerators, such as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.
  • TIP: You can run SETI@home and LHC@home on the World Community Grid Platform but not vice versa. So sign up for Wold Community Grid first.

But wait, there’s more click here

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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