Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For Dale.

Well this is the theme of my blog; educating people on science and writing about bad, and ineffective thinking.

This post is for Dale. I think he would like for me to address a few things:

1. Why I lost my belief in a god.

2. Creation 'science'.

So let's begin! Yay!

1. Why I lost my belief.

I was raised in a very Catholic family, with strong ties to our local church. I was your typical True Believer (TM). It was my duty to live the life god assigned through scripture. I did. For many years I did.

Why am I an atheist?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For my (virtual) friend, Gus.

Sorry to get this out so late, I have been pretty tied down lately with Chemistry (argh!). Also, my faithful chariot took a dump (yay, Ford engineering!) So with no further adieu, I present to you this quick blurb as to why I like Gus. (Last name withheld for his anonymity).

Recently, I have been scouring the internet to find places that no skeptic has gone before. Most 'public' forums make you register and await moderation from an admin. I couldn't get in with my stated beliefs- and I didn't want to lie.  Little did I know that right under my nose there was a wealth of people who held the beliefs I so desperately wanted to study (non-academically, of course.)

Some of the beliefs held by this group, to the best of my understanding, are as follows:

- Belief that the Illuminati/ Freemasons/ Unknowns are secretly controlling society and more specifically, the music industry.

- These same Illuminati not only control; but they worship Satan/Lucifer and persecute Christians.

- Rhianna is harboring the anti-Christ in fetal form.

- HAARP is controlling weather; causing catastrophes such as hurricanes and even earthquakes. (Yes, you read this correctly.)

-Anchor proteins; therefore god.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Observations on an [un]enlightened society.

We sat on a bench watching lightning hit about ten miles off. The rain had stopped fifteen minutes earlier and the air was still and crisp- a most welcomed time in the desert. The night was dark with the only illumination coming from the park lights and the warm city glow on the horizon. If you have never witnessed a desert thunderstorm, I highly recommend making a pilgrimage during the 'wet' seasons.

The power of each electrical disruption is belittling. Each strike sends waves of energy at Mach speeds for miles around. Booming with impact, thunder settles through the valley, disturbing freshly gathered dew on window panes and making parents hush their little ones to sleep. These violent interactions captivated our ancestors for thousand upon thousands of years. These storms erect our most primitive fears; the fears of the unknown.  Before you read on, watch this wonderfully cogent video. (EDIT: Video is embedded above, stupid Blogger interface.)

This, my dearest reader(s), is the topic of tonight's blog: how science calms the fearful giant, and how individuals must be scientifically literate if they want to be respected members of our society.

I remember first reading Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, and feeling enlightened, and hopeful, and genuinely optimistic about the capabilities we, as humans, can rise to. Sagan's book is a much more lucid, and in- depth work than what I could ever hope to write here, so I recommend reading or re reading his book. But he has some really great points that I want to touch on- back to the thunderstorm.

Lauren and I (Bert Dog too) sat talking for a few minutes about the misery that shadows the lives of billions on this planet. We talked about how life must genuinely suck when living in ignorance of the workings of our universe.

In your mind you may draw caricatures of frantic people, full of fear, living on edge, ready to fire off at the next site of lightning. You may think that in today's society, these people do not exist. But it is a sad reality that in our modern age, in our rapid streams of knowledge, we have people still decomposing at the depths of willful ignorance- and it is ruining the water supply for the rest of us.

The modern world is a progressive place. If you want to not only stay afloat, but prosper, then you must also have a knowledge of the world we live in. Reading just a few bits of information no longer cuts it. You must be scientifically literate in order to be respected.

In our modern age we have people undeserving of respect and I, as a member of society who has expectations of progress, must publicly denounce. The people that I denounce are those that are in strict opposition to science. These are those most willfully ignorant and academically dishonest people around. These are the people jumping in fear at the sight of a lightning bolt.

When you don't understand how the world works, you are misled to believe many heaps of bullshit. As I have encountered with this group of people. I admit, I have given them a fair share of 'trololling', but in all fairness it is just too easy. You see, these people have forfeited any critical capacity of thought, and accept any idea as true, based on who told them.

Here is a list of some of the absurdities I have encountered:

- Illuminati run the world. (obviously). But it doesn't just stop at that- more specifically they run the record companies. And control music. But only crappy hip-hop, apparently. The illuminati also really, really, hate Christians. See: Christian persecution complex and Christian History Revision.

- So I have already mentioned these people are Billboard Top 40 hip-hop enthusiasts who are also Christian enthusiasts. But they are also, you guessed it, young earth creationists. The most flagrantly misinformed people of the world- and also the loudest. So yes, this means they deny any science contradictory to their claims (see: any piece of science every published.)

-Government is using mind control via chemtrails and the HAARP project. (This I will touch on later.)

-The government/ Illuminati are using HAARP to create massive weather storms as well as trigger the recent earthquake and hurricanes on the east coast.

-Ancient peoples (Mayans, Egyptians, et al.,) Had far superior technology and knowledge than we do today.

I am not making this stuff up. Go. See. Now.

These people are the living, breathing, corporeal counterparts to that caricature in your head. When handed a diagram to build a heating unit, they throw the plans on the fire in their cave to stay warm. They refuse to learn. And this is why they cannot be respected members of our society.

I asked in particular how HAARP can be used to manipulate weather patterns and disrupt fault lines. My response ranged from 'its obvious' to 'they use volts to shoot in the atmosphere.' I searched an searched from an answer from them and couldn't get it. (If any of you are reading this, I still challenge you to prove me wrong. Show me the mechanisms by which weather can be manipulated using HAARP.)

This is why critical thinking is important. If these people had it, they would know what auroral means and what HAARP does. They would know that radio frequency cannot magically produce 'volts' (as on commenter claimed). They would know that the radio frequency used  will only temporarily excite high atmospheric ions, which will immediately return to a low energy state after stimulation. They would also know we do not even have enough human resources needed to create the amount of energy needed to create or disrupt weather patterns. But fuck that shit. They cannot even grasp that HAARP deals with the outer-most limits of our atmosphere- the ionosphere (which is ever changing and oh-so-mutable). They don't have a fucking clue that weather DOES NOT GENERATE THERE.

Now I'm pissed the fuck off. Look up troposphere. Read about it. What the fuck does the Wiki have to say?

 Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere.
God damn it. Read people. Think. So how does a low energy stimulation of the top layer of the atmosphere produce weather change in the lower most part? Hint: It doesn't. It cannot. It will not. HAARP can only produce the amount of energy equivalent to sun shining on an area the size of a football field for about fifteen minutes. You could boil some water with that.

Though I don't respect the ideas of these people, I don't think that they are second rate or second class. Their beliefs certainly are, yet at the end of the day, they are my fellow humans. Wrong as they may be, they are still our neighbors. And this is why I interact with them- because the wonderful thing about facts, and science, and knowledge, is that everyone can learn it.

So society, ask yourself: Do you want your neighbor clutching tightly to pearls of deception? Or would you rather have them understand the basal workings of the universe- not experts, mind you, but have at the very least knowledge of how the significant things work?

FYI my future blog posts will be debunking the shit they believe. Gives me something to do in between coursework and labs. Oh yeah almost forgot:

[Edit: Ignore the many typos, this was done at 2 am.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rant: Legal Systems, Failing Grades, and Why Rick Perry Shouldn't Become the POTUS

I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of the U.S. Justice system is sub par (to say the least). I know the basic tenets- but when it comes down to it, I get confused on ruling, procedures, and technicalities. I do not go onto public forums and act as an armchair lawyer, because my ass will be handed to me.

This being said, I do understand the law and what can violate the Constitution. I understand that lines may be blurred and rulings can become very subjective (see: WBC and Free Speech). However, though this may not be my field of study, yet I can spot injustice (for the most part.)

Let us explore a little scenario:

Yesterday the West Memphis 3 were freed, for the most part. (Again, I have some confusions as the implications of the Alford plea). So this is well and good, and justice has (partially, and quite minimally) been served. I can agree with it- or not. I can pretend that my 'expertise' in the matters predicted that this would eventually be the outcome for the WM 3. So let's pretend, though, that I am convinced of my abilities as an armchair lawyer. Just by watching CNN or Fox, I can predict the outcome of cases. Let's say that I am so confident, that I decide to run for county judge.

We can easily see that my knowledge (in all its limitations) does not qualify me as a respectable candidate. I am sure, come election time, voters would want to see my qualifications to be a judge. The voters have standards and these offices have requisites that must be met.

So what does this have to do with Rick Perry? I'll make the ties later- but first some background on this asshat.

Rick Perry is the governor of Texas, and is responsible for the death of an innocent man.  Dick Perry is also (in case you have been in a cave, with bitchin' WiFi) a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Like me, Rick Perry does not have a law degree. Shocking, I know. However where we differ is that I am 100% confident I would run this country into the ground if I were elected; because I do not have the back ground that is a required minimum of someone who is to take position as POTUS. Neither does Perry. Take a look at his grades as an undergraduate at Texas A&M.

O faithful readers, I beseech ye, in all thine wisdom to gloss thy eyes of fortitude into the abyss that is Rick Perry's transcripts.  Tell me, what stands out to you?

Is it the 'D' in economics? Or maybe the 'C' in American History? Maybe it is that 1.97 GPA. I know outside of academia, grades generally don't mean squat. However, Perry's work ethics shine through in this case, and it is evident that he is a person that does not care (in many meaning of the phrase.)

So now let's draw some parallels between my hypothetical candidacy for a judge and Perry's very real run for POTUS.

1. The candidate is not minimally qualified for the position.

Rick Perry is not a qualified candidate and it isn't merely based on his grades. A pile of shit is residue every time this man opens his mouth. However, this is something that shouldn't be overlooked. He lacks the basic competence that goes with this job. How will he dictate the Fed without a proper understanding of economics? How will he make sound choices when being pridefully ignorant of history? How will he decipher bullshit if it is given to him? 

2. Well I really just wanted to focus on the first item.

I cannot dole out enough contempt for the arrogance that is Rick Perry. This man is not only confident in himself to fill the role as president, but also feels he is the best person for the job. Our country is hurting, and D's in economic policy aren't going to help us. 

But Rick Perry doesn't stop there. He is actively trying to undo decades of rights fought for by women, minorities, and the GLBTQ community. Rick Perry thinks the Constitution will become his 'Welcome' mat. Rick Perry thinks that he will shuffle legal systems, congressional powers, and eliminate checks and balances.

Fuck you, Rick Perry.