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Stray links…

February 11, 2014

[UPDATE BELOW]

Here are a few stray links to check out:

  1. An old post by Jeff Spross on why pro/anti-science labels are problematic.
  2. Adam Laats on the silly questions evolutions asks creationists.
  3. Michael Dougherty what creationists get right!
  4. Damon Linker–one of the most incisive writers on religion and culture–on what both Bill Nye and Ken Ham got wrong.
  5. Forgot this the first time…but Mark Stern makes some bizarre, unsubstantiated claims about creationism here. I strongly suspect he doesn’t know any actual creationists.

More coming soon…promise!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor permalink
    February 15, 2014 4:11 am

    Cool. Thanks for the links!

  2. Daniel permalink
    February 17, 2014 1:42 pm

    Praj, are you going to start doineedkeplerslaws blog soon? http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/content/chapter-7/c07.pdf

  3. Daniel permalink
    February 17, 2014 1:43 pm

    Oops, I guess I should have added some context, 1 in 4 Americans don’t know the Earth revolves around the Sun. Then again, you don’t have to know that to be a neurosurgeon.

    • February 17, 2014 2:49 pm

      Thanks for the link and the snark:-). Those types of survey data go back decades and are replicated in other countries. Many people all over the world don’t know that basic fact, and the relative percentages are more or less the same. My questions to you are: why do you care so much? How does it affect you? Do you have any supporting evidence to show that it affects your life? What about the lives of the people who are surveyed?

      Let me personalize it a bit. My mom is a board-certified doctor in two fields (child and adult psychiatry). For ~15 years before that, she practiced primary care in Jamaica. She has quite literally saved people’s lives. And…(wait for it)…she believes in Hindu astrology! This is not an abstract belief of hers. She concretely and absolutely believes in Hindu astrology. I’m sure she knows the Earth goes around the sun. But that fact is profoundly irrelevant to her daily life. The rest of cosmology is even more pointless. Presumably if it had an impact she wouldn’t have passed all her medical exams (which she always did on her first try).

      Why, exactly, should my mom embrace cosmology? Would she would have gotten higher grades on her medical exams if she weren’t a devout Hindu? Would her practice be more efficient? Would it make even the *slightest* improvement in her life in any way, shape, or form? What if her Hindu faith is precisely what gives her strength and motivation? How do you weigh the costs and benefits? And please be honest. Don’t feel bad about dissing my mom (or my dad, aunts, uncles, or the ~700 million Hindus out there:-))

      When I hear comments like yours, I think they are really poorly shrouded aesthetic/moral/cultural arguments. The argument actually is that people *should* believe certain things even if not doing so doesn’t have any negative consequences; astrology/creationism are intrinsically bad. Those are fair arguments. They’re much better than suggesting people who believe X have a direct negative impact on anything. I haven’t seen any persuasive evidence for such consequentialist claims.

      I would only ask us to remember that many people live perfectly fulfilling, wonderful, productive lives even though they don’t believe what we think they should. That their calculation of what gives their life meaning might be different from ours. That perhaps devout Hindus aren’t problems to be solved or people to be mocked.

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