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Links With Your Coffee - Sunday


In the interest of fostering rational arguments I'm going to present a common fallacy with each day's links. Today's fallacy is: Slothful Induction



Regarding Judge Voids Illinois Law on Silent Time in Schools -

I had a conversation with a marxist historian colleague many years ago, about the suggestion to make a study of politics a required part of the school curriculum. His argument against this was that in the English school system Religious Studies and a daily act of worship were compulsory and that this had been so for many years. HIs judgement was that the result was a severe decline in church attendance in England, and a concomitant reduction in religious belief. I had to agree with him, so I feel that the refusal to allow such activities in US schools is actually making it more likely that people believe. What religious education in school does is to allow for a wider variety of ideas to be made available to the child, and thus a greater chance of the student making comparisons (often to the detriment of 'their' imposed belief system). Keeping religion in the family allows for a much greater 'brainwashing' effect by the church, of whatever persuasion.

allow for a wider variety of ideas to be made available to the child

Many communites in the US are quite insular when it comes to religious beliefs. In those communities including prayer in the schools simply becomes an extension of their churches. Prayer is just one component in a wide range of tactics the religious use to promote their limited worldview.

I've heard the argument before and suspect it may be generally true, but that it doesn't hold in fundamentalist enclaves.

CBC Radio | Ideas | Features | How To Think About Science

I've now listened to the first installment and loved it.

The issue of how the scientific method as defined can provide a means by which people can resolve conflicts without violence, is definitely not lost on me.

I once had an extensive online debate with David Robertson of the Free Church of Scotland over the topic of religion, the claims of Christianity, and the basis for belief. He pulled out the term "supernatural evidence" as a means to defend his position as being evidence and reason-based (and not unlike science), to which I challenged him to use "supernatural evidence" to resolve a disagreement. He couldn't of course.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but, the scientific method, at its heart, offers society a guiding principle that promises nothing less than peace on earth (in addition to the promise of curing the sick, raising the dead (kinda), and feeding the poor), and at the same time, and for exactly the same reason, the faith-based approach to governing our selves dooms society to nothing less than perpetuate conflict and violence.

The first few episodes of "How To Think About Science" are indeed thought-provoking discussions of the boundaries of scientific concepts.

Unfortunately, by half-way through the series, David Cayley is presenting the most laughable pseudoscience. When he claims that "most scientists think they can tell when someone is staring at them or think their dogs are telepathic," the wheels came right off this promising series.

The nadir of the series is when he interviews quack researcher Rupert Sheldrake, and is told that there is a global conspiracy of scientists trying to suppress Sheldrake's work, and takes this statement dead seriously.

"How To Think About Science" embraces pseudoscience from a left-wing "just-another-way-of-knowing" perspective with the same zeal that conservative Christians embrace Intelligent Design. The series started promisingly but was a whopping disappointment.


I have continued to encountered several more of these odd perspectives about science and scientists in the second installment as well.

Still, there is a lot of thought provoking and interesting content, perspectives, and opinions.

thanks for the heads up. i was intimidated by the long run times of the audio and haven't gotten too far in. looked up sheldrake on wiki- what a woomeister! red flags all over this guy. norm, please be careful what you feed us. :)

Wow - I'll say. Sheldrake's morphic resonance sounds a lot like the way osteopathic quacks explain how molecules in their concoctions leave an impression on the media in which they were dissolved - before they were diluted away that is. Sheldrake is a real lulu.

Finally. I listened to How to think about science when it first aired in Canada a year or so ago and was up in arms at some of the people Cayley included in series. I had a couple emails' worth of conversation with Cayley and got essentially nowhere. There are some choice morsels in here but it becomes obvious at some point that the underlying agenda is distinctly postmodern philosophy. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who saw through this. Unfortunately, CBC Ideas (where this series aired) is a quality radio show, I hate to think of what many poor Canadians (and I suppose people abroad as well) have been fed on a usually well-informed radio show.


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