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Michael Shermer on Strange Beliefs

Tip to gypsy



I love the rewritten song at the end.

Now it'll be a big hit!

I would order a copy. Scientific love is the only true love.

Hmmm, I am going to need a research grant.

Not a possibility, Red. Someone once said "Proof is for Logicians and Mathematicians, Science is about testing."

I'd like to comment briefly on the public policy implications of the initial example of the dope-dousing rod.

Now, we can all imagine what the practice as regards such a device is: some school flunky uses the rod, finds a 'hit', opens the locker and either they find weed or they don't. Then the process continues.

Why don't they just open the lockers? Well because in many cases (we can imagine that is clearly the case here, but it might be debatable) there are privacy rights against them doing it. These privacy rights would be negated if there are grounds to be suspicious that the privilege afforded by the privacy is being abused (plausibly: some form of 'probable cause' justification).

Well the debate this should open up is this; who gets to decide what is an what is not reasonable grounds for plausible cause. In most states (in the world, not the US sense - I'm a Scot) the justification 's/he is black, that's a probable cause for investigation' has been thrown out. Similarly we might not accept 'I asked my gran and she said it's always the third locker from the end'. Why? Because that has patently no grounds for reliability.

Would we want to say the same is true of the dousing rod. I assume 'we', Norm and the readers of his blog, /would/ but here's the point - millions wouldn't. Violations of privacy can happen because people are crypto-primitivists and don't understand or aren't aware the dousing has as much plausibility as a method as 'asking your granny' (less in fact; your granny might have good advice) and as much scientific credibility as perpetual motion machines.

Er... that's bad, and worrying. Education is good. Any student so infringed should sue and possibly transfer to a school where the people in charge don't have 'special educational needs'.

The song at the end made the video worth this 13 minutes of my time. The problem we are facing is that magic, religion, crop circles, ghosts, Eskimos, fairy tales, World Champion Seattle Mariners, and other fantasies are more fun to believe in than logic and science—at least for stupid people. I don’t care what your IQ says, if you believe in this stuff then there is some part of your brain that is broke and needs to be fixed.

eskimos have been scientifically proven to exist, as have the mariners.

As for Eskimos I guess you don't watch The Simpsons. As for the Mariners I said "World Champion Mariners" so I suppose you haven't lived in the World Series-free zone we call Seattle.

ok. :) love the simpsons but not an expert. and shouldn't you be following european football (soccer) at this point?

i can sympathize with the mariners thing. i like the chicago cubbies.

Oh, jeez, a cubs fan.

¡Visca el Valencia! (hooray for Valencia, from the Valencia CF hymn in Valenciano)

P.S. We lost tonight against Brugges 1-0 in the UEFA so don't rub it in, please.

At least you only lost by one point. The mariners and the cubs would kill for that narrow of a defeat.

At 9.10 "getting the dead to talk back is the really hard part" - reminds me of Owen Glendower and Hotspur in Henry IV "I can call monsters from the vasty deep." 'Why so can I, and so can any man, but will they come when you do call for them?" Not bad for something like 400 years ago.

I liked this too. He had a more recent talk that I hope gets posted soon. Now I jsut need time...


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