Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Value in This Life

Me this morning

I've been such a lump lately. I was sick on and off for over a month. I haven't been to the gym in over three weeks as a result. My diet has been off lately as well. I've been dealing with a shoulder problem for a while now, which has kept me from any serious martial arts training. And today is tax day, which has become my annual "feeling down about life" day. I know that's just how emotions are. They contribute to an ebb and flow to life. Even when things aren't that bad, we have those times in which we feel like it could all come crashing down at any moment. There are days when we feel "in the zone," and there are days when we feel rather, well, lumpy.

Last year I embarked on an ongoing journey towards peace. It's all about finding balance in life. I have an obsessive personality. I tend to go all in on things that interest or excite me. I'm part of the "gamer" subculture, but I don't play many games. Mainly, I just play Magic: the Gathering. It's not because I don't think other games are interesting: I just can't obsess over more than one game. I can't divide my focus, because I don't play games casually. That's why I can look at a random Magic card and tell you random details, like who did the artwork, or which set it's from, or what deck it was in that won the pro tour back in 1996. Balance is difficult for me because I tend to obsess.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

If We Can't Think for Ourselves...

Be a part of the #SaganGoogleDoodle Campaign to convince Google to create a Carl Sagan Google Doodle to honor Carl Sagan and help share his legacy and love for science on Carl Sagan Day, November 9. "Like" our Facebook page:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Great Conversation

Podcasting has been my most recent experiment, since I have been listening to several podcasts lately. I've been so busy, though, that I haven't had time to figure out how to do it properly. The podcasting app I downloaded on my iPod kinda... just... stopped working, so I haven't been able to record a new episode. Actually, I did record a new episode - three times. I just can't upload any of them. That's what I get for using the first one I found. So I made this video instead...

[UPDATE: I was finally able to upload a podcast episode. Yay! Here you go: Dead-Logic Podcast Ep. 4: "Faith & Doubt".]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Path of a Critical Thinker: the Scientific Method

(with pictures!)

"Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained."

— Richard Feynman


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For Sagan, For Science, For Society

The Carl Sagan Google Doodle Campaign started as a half-joke. On November 9, 2012, my dear friend Vee brought to my attention that there was no Google Doodle for Carl Sagan. Certainly, I thought, Sagan deserves a Google Doodle on November 9, his birthday, now known to science enthusiasts as "Carl Sagan Day." Vee (half) jokingly said, "We should petition Google!" That gave me the idea to create the Google Doodle Campaign.

A year passed, and there was still no Google Doodle for Carl, but that's okay. I didn't start the CSGDC thinking that Google would actually listen (maybe if there are enough of us, though), but with the thought that this would be a fun way for a regular guy like me to honor a person whose work helped me and a bunch of other people like me to understand and appreciate science and our place in the Cosmos. I also thought it would be a way for me to act as an advocate of science - even if in only a small way.

There are three types of people: scientists, science advocates, and people who don't yet understand or appreciate science. I'm not a scientist, so the way I can contribute to science is to educate myself, promote science, and help people see the wonders and mysteries of scientific inquiry. There is always an element of "preaching to the choir" involved, and that's okay. The choir needs to be inspired to show the world the importance of science, as well as the mystery and majesty of the universe. We need more mini-Sagans in the world.

A scientific life is the best life, and you don't have to be a scientist. If science doesn't move you and inspire you, then you either don't understand science, or you don't understand yourself. Tim Minchin remarked:

Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It's easier, at a dinner party, to say "science" than to say "the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias". Douglas Adams said: "I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality - whatever that is - and you don't have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that "awe of understanding", so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world.

I love that phrase: "awe of understanding." That's what science is for me. So whether Google ever listens to us or not, let's all do our part to promote science, regardless of how small our contribution may seem. Because, after all, we are each of us a very small part of this universe - but we are a part of it all the same.

Be a part of the #SaganGoogleDoodle Campaign to convince Google to create a Carl Sagan Google Doodle to honor Carl Sagan and help share his legacy and love for science on Carl Sagan Day, November 9. "Like" our Facebook page:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What is Faith?

Continuing the "What Is?" series that I returned to recently, I now turn my attention to defining faith. What is faith? I saw a quote today from Alan Sokal, who is - according to Wikipedia - "a professor of mathematics at University College London and professor of physics at New York University." Here's the quote:

“Faith” is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. “Faith” is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence. [x]

That line struck a chord with me. It's easy for members of the skeptic community - especially those members who were once religious believers - to see faith as fundamentally opposed to reason: fiery fideism contrary to ice cold reason. Certainly, there have been religious adherents who have advocated such a faith: Tertullian comes to mind, who famously and rhetorically queried, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" This is the same Tertullian who wrote "prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est", which can be translated: "it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd". Søren Kierkegaard believed a "leap of faith" is required to accept things human reason cannot comprehend, and he advocated a faith that was neither founded on reason nor required any rational justification. Martin Luther referred to reason as "the Devil's greatest whore," and declared that reason "is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God."