science


Random quote of the day:

“People will treat with disdain such phenomena as are proved by the evidence of the senses, and commonly experienced—while they will defend to the death the reality of a phenomenon which they have neither seen nor experienced. Faith is as powerful a force as science…but far more dangerous.

—Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“No one who has seen or felt the full force of an apparition demands proof. If they feel compelled to try and prove it to others, it is only because they feel obliged to, by the scientific tenor of the times.”

—Patrick Harper, Daimonic Reality

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The way we talk and use language to explain phenomena does not interfere with our ability to do objective, informative research, yet this is often something unthinkingly assumed about other cultures. It’s easy to misinterpret the metaphorical language of an indigenous culture as though it was a literal belief, especially if a researcher was predisposed to thinking of those peoples as very different, or unscientific, or even primitive.”

—Chi Luu, “What We Lose When We Lose Indigenous Knowledge,” JSTOR Daily, October 16, 2019

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in the case of poetry, it’s the exact opposite!”

—Paul Dirac, quoted in Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by Robert Jungk (tr. James Cleugh)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Please note that I have capitalized Skepticism. I am referring here not to healthy skepticism, which any reasonable person must apply to dubious claims, whether of the paranormal or elsewise, but to the sort practiced by the Skeptical Inquirer, various magicians, Richard Dawkins and others who have made Skepticism their one true religion. Pseudoskeptics, in other words. These Skeptics use sometimes very sloppy science to bludgeon experiencers into submission, have been caught in out-and-out suppression of genuine inquiry, and when all else fails fall back on tropes without evidence to counter claims of the paranormal. For them, no evidence—no matter how good—can ever stand up to their “it must be faked/hallucination/lies” counterargument. All, of course, expressed in the most pompous and mocking tones.

Dishonest Skepticism does not achieve its most desired goal: the extermination of all belief in the extraordinary. In fact, it encourages people to disregard what these Skeptics are saying because it’s so easy for most people to see through that kind of dishonesty. Worse, it encourages people to disregard skeptics and experts of all sorts. It’s not a very long leap from disregarding a dishonest Skeptic to questioning the veracity of immunologists during a pandemic.

Yes, reasonable people will still use their brains in those matters, but the doubt begun with dishonest Skepticism grows in the dark and spreads like a cancer. People who are credulous, who have had the experience of their own eyes mocked or disregarded without sincere investigation, are more likely to believe well-told lies. Once they’ve bought any of the lies, it’s easier to sell them the next lie. Very soon, the fact-based, science-backed words of the genuine expert can be dismissed as “that’s just his opinion.” (Something I’ve actually heard hoax believers say about the COVID precautions urged by Dr. Fauci.)

Maybe the spirit of one’s dead mother didn’t appear beside the bed to say she was happy and not to worry, maybe it was just a comforting dream. Maybe those weird lights in the sky were just a misidentification of something natural, although they did perform in very unnatural ways. Maybe that immensely tall hairy manlike creature didn’t stand in front of you ten feet away before loping off into the woods and disappearing. Maybe that was just…well, very hard to rationalize that away without falling to the fake/lie/hallucination trope—but you get my drift. The thing is, a healthy skepticism would say, “I don’t know what it was you saw. It may be exactly as you say, or it may have had a rational explanation, but I don’t have one right now.” A Skeptic, on the other hand, would not rest until the experiencer was mocked into submission, hiding away in the dark corners of the internet where the Religion of the Lie can take root and spread.

Do I expect the Skeptics to rethink things and shut up? Of course not. This is their religion, after all. True believers never reconsider their positions. They know the Ultimate Truth and will go down in flames to defend it. Just like those who believe lizard people have taken over the government and are eating babies in the basement of the Capitol building. Unfortunately, these two extreme fringes of discourse threaten to take the rest of us down in flames with them.

Belief has always been experiential in nature. I suppose, healthy skepticism is non-experiential in nature. Skepticism, on the other hand, the unhealthy variety, strikes me as a bone-deep existential terror that the Skeptic may not know the answer to all things and that there may be more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy.

Random quote of the day:

“We live in a Newtonian world of Einsteinian physics ruled by Frankenstein logic.”

—attributed to David Russell

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.”

—Katherine Johnson, https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/mathematician-katherine-johnson-at-work

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. All the rest is literature.”

—Paul Valéry, Moralités

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies

Random quote of the day:

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connection.”

—Niels Bohr in his first meeting with Werner Heisenberg as reported in Theorizing Modernism by Steve Giles

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“All our scientific and philosophic ideals are altars to unknown gods.”

—William James, lecture, Harvard Divinity School, 13 March 1884

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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