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Posts Tagged ‘skeptics circle’

The latest Humanist Symposium is up, which compiles some great posts, plus me.

The latest Carnival of the Godless, likewise.

And on the subject of godless carnivals, I’m hosting the next one of those. So, anytime between now and the end of the month, if you have an irreligiously themed blogpost you’d like to be included in the next round-up, here’s the submission form.

Or you can tweet me a link, or leave a comment, or email me (the name of this blog at hotmail dot co dot uk). However it gets to me, I’m pretty sure to include anything that’s on-topic and timely.

This may be a good time to link you back to my editions of the Skeptics’ Circle and the Humanist Symposium. Two weeks till I hit the trifecta, baby.

Now I just have to write something entertaining for it. Well, shit.

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– Deepak Chopra thinks he can cause earthquakes. Well, maybe. It could be that he just doesn’t quite understand what a joke is but thought he’d have a go at making one anyway. But it’s reflective of the amount of crap he usually talks that a lot of people genuinely aren’t sure whether he was serious when he tweeted: “Had a powerful meditation just now – caused an earthquake in Southern California”. It honestly sounds like the sort of thing he’d say.

– There are now more women in space than there ever have been before. Four female astronauts are currently in orbit around the planet. And they’re all pretty awesome. Hell, it’s enough sometimes to just remind ourselves that there are people in space. Like, right now. Humans did that. While being made of meat.

– You really should watch one of the greatest TED talks I’ve seen. And I’ve frittered away quite a lot of time watching TED talks. It’s not that long, and it’s about making policies to stop the spread of HIV based on what actually works. Profoundly eye-opening and insightful, though there are some pretty icky stories and descriptions of needles near the start, which made me cringe a little and might unnerve anyone sensitive to that kind of thing. Nothing visually graphic, probably NSFW for subject matter, but really important.

– And the latest edition of the Skeptics’ Circle is up, over at Divisible By Pi. Some great links to other fascinating articles, and couched in the most elaborately creative narrative since, well, probably my own slightly surreal attempt.

– Oh, and I’ve just sent an email to the Liberal Democrats’ candidate for my constituency, asking about his position on a number of important issues, inspired by the list of suggested questions up at the Skeptical Voter site. If and when I get a reply, I’ll go there to update his wiki page. Perhaps I should have got in touch with the sitting Conservative MP to ask him the same things, but his voting record in the House of Commons is such that he’s not likely to be able to say anything now to earn my support. If you’re in the UK and think there’s any way this general election thingy coming up might affect you, you could do worse than to check the Skeptical Voter site for ways to get involved, or follow them on Twitter for news updates.

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You should really be making a point of regularly visiting The Digital Cuttlefish, you know. I think I remember saying that before, but it’s especially true on this, the day of the 133rd Skeptics’ Circle.

Each article featured in this round-up is introduced by one of various forms of delightful poetic verse, which put the lie to the Cuttlefish’s very generous nonsense about being outshone by my own writing. I hope it won’t be minded if I quote in its entirety the piece written about my own entry, Unidentified, which frankly says everything I was trying to say but with much more lyrical elegance:

I gazed up at the nighttime sky, with wonder and with awe
The diamond constellations spread before me
But if I claim that aliens are part of what I saw
You might be better off if you ignore me.
An object, unidentified, was shining in the night—
A spacecraft, and I know that they have seen us!
I’ll sound as if I’m certain, when the truth is I’m not quite,
But it’s so much more romantic than “that’s Venus”.
If something’s unidentified, you don’t know what it is,
And there’s so, so much it possibly could be
The jump to “it’s a spaceship!”, when you could just say “gee whiz!”
Is a little much, I hope you will agree.

You really should check out the others. The dendrochronologist’s limerick is a personal favourite. And the articles linked to are pretty great too.

Another few quick links:

– Using Facebook will not give you syphilis. I’m not even going to track down links to the moronic tabloid stories that have been screeching along these lines this week. Just read about why it’s bullshit from Dr Petra, Tabloid Watch, and Heresy Corner.

A picture of Obama that re-instills the notion there might be something to this “hope” business after all.

– And finally, let’s not forget that the Pope conspired to help child rapists get off scot free. Sorry to bring the mood down a little, but, y’know. Institutional paedophila’ll do that.

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– Old people doing a bit of exercise in a church hall is incompatible with Christianity if the exercise has a funny foreign-sounding name. This is far from the most objectionable embargo laid down by a Christian church, but possibly one of the silliest.

– The unfathomably brilliant Douglas Adams was eleven years ahead of his time, and counting, on the basis of this essay from 1999. So many people still don’t understand any of the points he’s outlining here, and this was before the internet had begun to branch out in many of the ways it’s famous for these days. (link via @megpickard by way of @MitchBenn and @aleksk)

The Digital Cuttlefish is truly one of the great poets of our time, and if you’re not checking his/her blog regularly, you really should be. One of my recent favourite works was titled “I thank thee, God, for buttocks firm”, and the announcement that the Cuttlefish will be hosting the next edition of the Skeptics Circle blog carnival is characteristically delightful. Submit your entries over there within the next few days, if you’ve written anything on a skeptical theme lately that you think deserves a wider audience.

– I was watching Question Time just now, which is more or less the extent to which my ideas of political activism have gone anywhere lately. I was Twittering about it here, but without a great deal of insight. Most of the people involved didn’t take too long to say at least something to annoy me and make me frustrated with them and the whole process, particularly the audience members, but with the notable exception of Charles Kennedy.

I’m also redrafting a couple of proper full-length posts for the Skeptictionary, which should appear in the next couple of days.

Crap, less than a week till Ada Lovelace Day. Going to need to hurry up with my research on that, too.

Sorry, I’m just thinking aloud now, really. I think I’ve said as much as I’m going to say of any note. As you were.

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Yep, the latest blog carnival is up over at Effort Sisyphus. At least, it starts there. But the journey that ensues may take you down many weird and wonderful paths, if you dare to follow the white rabbit. It’s a nifty set-up.

That’s all I’ve got today. Working on the promised Facilitated Communication rant for the Skeptictionary. It’s really long and rambling, even for me. Night night.

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I’m not dead!

I feel fine!

I feel… Well, no, I don’t feel great. Bleh. Recovering after a week of ick. Need a comfier chair. Wouldn’t mind a more waterproof ceiling. Too lazy to write much. I just about have the energy to plug the latest Skeptics’ Circle blog carnival. Not least because the host totally plays favourites with me. Even if I am just being used so that he can get to Hugh Laurie. (It makes sense in context.) Go look, there’s a lot of fun-sounding posts up there, some of which I aspire to actually read when I’m feeling less lethargic.

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Nick Griffin, chairman of the British National Party, was on the political BBC series Question Time earlier tonight. There’s been a lot of controversy over the decision to invite him on, and whether the BBC should be legitimising his hateful racist fuckwittery. The general opinion, at least from the nearby strands of my own social web, seems to be that giving him an audience and letting him say what he honestly believes will be quite ample for him to dig his own grave. It’ll highlight quite what a cock he actually is, much more effectively than trying to stop his views being spoken out loud, or by just letting other people rant angrily about what a cock he is.

I only watched the first ten minutes tonight, and will hopefully catch the rest on the BBC iPlayer later, but I wasn’t hugely impressed. The serious politicians on the panel were giving serious speeches about how seriously bad racism is, and I wonder if there was a great deal of point in that approach. We already know racism’s bad. Nick Griffin doesn’t. That’s why he’s a twat. We’re pretty much all already on the same page there. Getting angry about the fact that yes, surprisingly, he’s still a stupid racist, seemed a bit futile. I’d probably have gone with pointing and laughing, myself, at least until he actually said anything of substance that could be easily refuted.

Apparently it got better, though. Just about everyone I’m following on Twitter was commenting insightfully on the whole thing, and judging by the frenzied pace of the #bbcqt hashtag, there’s a lot of other people with opinions out there too. (There are also updates on @bbcquestiontime if you want to catch up.) In the end, I’m sure it was at the very least harmless to have him on. Nick Griffin is not someone who it’s easy to be persuaded that he gets a bad rap but he’s got some good ideas.

Also, this flowchart is awesome. Though, it kinda implies that I’m aspiring to be a Scientologist one day. That’s a worrying notion.

Oh, and the latest Skeptic’s Circle is up, over at Young Australian Skeptics. I really like the format in which this one’s presented, and I totally dig being a sentient computer program.

Yep. That about does it.

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