Archive for October 15th, 2010

Quotes for a Friday Night

October 15, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Quotes for a Friday Night

Why do I love quotes? I’ll tell you why:

To me, novels are just quotations with a bunch of filler.
Terri Guillemets

If you liked that one, here are 15 more thought provoking quotes:

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
Wilson Mizner

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.
Daniel J. Boorstin

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
Thomas Jefferson

The tooth fairy teaches children that they can sell body parts for money.
David Richerby

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
Harry Truman

A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.
Martin H. Fischer

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A Celebration of the Book

October 15, 2010 | By | Reply More
A Celebration of the Book

What follows is a public service announcement. I’m taking some time to put on my President’s hat and talk about our upcoming event.

We’re a week away from the Celebration. October 23rd at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.

If you’ve been reading this blog any length of time, then you know about my involvement. For the last 8 1/2 years I’ve been working for it, trying to make it better, five of those years as president. We’ve done some pretty cool things in that time.

The Missouri Center for the Book has, like most such organizations, been undergoing some ups and downs the last few years. We have been reorganizing in order to be a more vital part of the literary and reading community in Missouri. Among the things that we have done over the last few years is the establishment of the Poet Laureate office for the state. We are instrumental in running the program and selecting the candidates for the post every two years. The program has been very popular. We also continue to run the state Letters About Literature Awards for students. Every year we send representatives to the National Book Festival.

And we put on our annual Celebration.

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Fox reporter Meygn Kelly insults freed Chilean coal miner

October 15, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Fox reporter Meygn Kelly insults freed Chilean coal miner

Hot, blonde Fox newscaster Meygn Kelly, while reporting on the rescue of one
of the trapped Chilean coalminers today, said this upon seeing the live feed
as one of the miners emerged and was greeted by his tearful common law wife of
25 years…

(I’m paraphrasing from memory)

“There’s one of the miners now. Waiting for him is his common law wife.
They’ve been together…living together I should say…for 25 years, but of course they
are not married in the eyes of the law…or in the eyes of God.”

Well, eff you Meygn!

Since when did you get a direct line to God? If “God is love”, as believers
are so fond of saying, then wouldn’t He approve of a love that can withstand
25 years without a government issued paper to force them to stay together?

How DARE you diminish the relationship of these two people with your self-
righteousness! They’ve stayed together for 25 YEARS. I know people who have
been married by THREE BISHOPS in a CATHEDRAL who didn’t last HALF that long.

Next time you feel the need to tell us what God is thinking, try to remember
that one of the basic rules of journalism is to not inject your personal morality into the story.

Oops, I forgot! You’re on FOX!


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Why PZ is not a believer

October 15, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Why PZ is not a believer

PZ Myers has offered eight fairly solid reasons for not believing in god. Here is number 8:

There are always better explanations for unexplained phenomena than god: fraud and faulty sensory perception cover most of the bases, but mostly, if I see a Madonna appear in a field to bless me, the first thing I’d suspect is brain damage. We have clumsy, sputtering, inefficient brains that are better designed for spotting rutabagas and triggering rutting behavior at the sight of a curvy buttock than they are for doing math or interpreting the abstract nature of the universe. It is a struggle to be rational and objective, and failures are not evidence for an alternative reality. Heck, we can be fooled rather easily by mere stage magicians; we don’t need to invent something as elaborate as a god to explain apparent anomalies.

I would tweak this eighth response. I don’t think most believers have a generally malfunctioning ability to perceive, and I wouldn’t attribute their willingness to believe to fraud, at least not fraud in any traditional use of that word (where intent to deceive is key).

Rather, I suspect that the elaborate hyper-sensitive cognitive machinery that allows us to detect potential allies and facilitates the formation of social bonds with them is rigged to dim the perceptual abilities of 90% of us, based on perceived threats to social relationships we value. Thus, as I see it, the perceptual machinery isn’t completely broken. Rather, it dims only when competing social cravings slap the “toxic” label on evidence that seems to be inconvenient to the formation or maintenance of a social group. This cognitive function dims our abilities to see and hear based on whether the things we might see or hear could damage treasured social relationships. It seems as though some sort of rough and ready mini-brain screens the world for our bigger better brain (at least in 90% of us). That mini rough and ready brain functions as a paranoid secretary who won’t let calls come through to the boss because the secretary is over-protective.

I discuss the connections between social cravings and inability to appreciate evidence, as well as some of the science that guides me in my views, in a series of posts I titled “Mending Fences.”


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