Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Knowing what you believe, believing what you know.

Blogging has been a great release for me; a way to solidify my thoughts and present both (hopefully) a bit of humor and a little useful information to my readers. I know that some of my blog entries rub people the wrong way; particularly those who are “believers” in Deistic or Theistic god(s), energies, Chakras, Chi and any number of warm fuzzy comforting supernatural and paranormal beliefs. You, as a reader, can choose to accept or reject my comments, but what I hope though, is that you at least THINK about them... maybe ask some questions of your own.

The film I made about Jerry Andrus chronicled a man who had a sincere and deep appreciation of life. In order to fully appreciate it, he had to know all he could about it. He found the complexity of the universe exciting and fulfilling, full of “wonder” as he very often said. He found that religion and superstition added nothing to the human experience, in fact, he saw religion as inhibiting the potential of humans. He noted that every day science adds to the body of human knowledge; while religion brings nothing new to our understanding of our world and life.

I have never (yet) censored comments made to my blog; I value dissenting opinions. I am not always right, I am human and humans make mistakes. But I am a Skeptic – so when someone presents an idea, then I need to know that it has some substance behind it, that the source of the position is not that it simply feels good to believe it is true. If you offer Reiki or “The Secret” or Feng Shui as actual forces in the universe, then I expect that you can back them up with explanations of how they work and statistics proving they do. Believing is not the same as knowing. Skeptics are from Missouri – the “Show me” state!

We humans are remarkably susceptible to self-delusion; we can fool ourselves much easier than we can fool others… and without even being aware of it. As Michael Shermer said in my film in talking about how Jerry’s mind worked: “…to really see what no one else sees, or very few other people see, you have to be vigilant and consciously attempt to look outside of the box, get out of your rut. It does take some effort, it’s not natural.”

I am planning to continue my blogging. I hope you will find it at times, entertaining, informative, thought-provoking, and possibly at times it may even piss you off. I blog for all those reasons and more.

Thank you for reading. – Robert the Skeptic

14 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Scientists are the best at science, there's no doubt about that, but the religious folk are generally better at music, art and exorcism. They may also have a superior fashion sense, although I'm not sure about that.

Penny said...

As I get older, I've come to the conclusion that most people prefer to be in a state of self-delusion. I don't mean religion or a particular philosophy necessarily, but that many can't cope with harsh reality and so they choose to cocoon themselves.
We all need to be 'pissed off' occasionally, to prevent boredom, you know. ;)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Bananas True, religion did build all those groin-vaulted cathedrals in Europe and Gregorian chants sure do echo real well in those hallowed, hollow walls. But fashion sense... nahhh, just look at the Amish, who dresses like that?!?!

Penny Oh indeed people LOVE self-delusion, especially the closer it gets to election time. Not sure cocooning in older people is due to lowered coping skills or simply gradual loss of hearing.

theWaif said...

It's when the religious crazies out there take offense to FACTS (i.e. evolution) that really gets my hackles up. Just the other day Mom was telling us about how they had to remove a silly "evolution of ergonomics" cartoon someone had posted on the walls at work because some creationist idiot decided they were offended by it. Oh, but we have to tolerate your "In God we Trust" on all our currency and all that BS. Argh! Hypocrisy makes my blood boil.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Waif Religion is all about Hypocrisy - Unborn fetuses must live, existing human criminals must die - prevent access to health care for "undeserving" poor people, send them to faith healers instead - on and on... and I wonder were Jesus would stand on the right to bear arms?

Charlie said...

At this crucial time in my lfe (a progressive disease that is progressing much faster), I have not been able to stomach, much less believe, the religious bullshit and hypocrisy I was raised on.

A couple months ago, I found a "fit" for my feelings and beliefs called pantheism. Darwin and science are at the core, and we as humans are a natural part of the Universe and the Earth. There are no gods, no priests, no exhortations to "be saved." We, as individuals, are responsible for our own happiness and dealing with life.

If you're at all interested, the Url is UPS

I have met some fine folks there.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Charlie I have heard of this "UPS", I thought it to be a cult of people who dress entirely in brown; Some say they wander the streets in large brown vans. They have even come to my house and rung the doorbell, often leaving gifts on my steps...
Oh, wait, wrong UPS... never mind! I'll check out the web site. Thanks!

GutsyWriter said...

So what I love about your posts is that I can HEAR you speak, even though I've never met you in person. I love people expressing their thoughts without feeling insecure and the need to belong to any specific "group" in order to gain a sense of belonging.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Gutsy In my short short span of blogging no one has given me such a warm and gracious compliment until now. I am both deeply moved and sincerely grateful. Thank you.

secret agent woman said...

I react to silliness in any form, and not just religion.

As for Gorilla's comment, it's not just the Amish. Look at any Pentacostal - not a drop of fashion sense. Or for that matter - walk into a small Southern Baptist church sometime. Yikes!

Robert the Skeptic said...

Secret Agent Indeed, polyester is still alive and flourishing in the deep South.

The Mother said...

Voices for skepticism must be loud. While I do try to tone done my atheism for my audience, I don't ever tone done the skepticism on science or medicine.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Mother The issue of how to deal with atheism within skeptical organizations (CSI for example) has always been controversial. Dr. Ray Hyman told me that about half of "skeptics" are also religious to some extent. Yet skepticism often attempts to apply critical thinking to religious beliefs to the same extent it does so on paranormal beliefs.

Interestingly the proportion of atheists in the medical profession is similar to the population at large, I am told. Thanks for visiting and commenting, by the way.

secret agent woman said...

The deep South (which I don't live in)? Polyester is alive all over this country.