Lamentations Of A Skeptic.

Let me premise this by saying I put a lot of effort into not being full of shit.  Not that I’m never wrong or imperfect, but having reasonable, open-minded, logically consistent and intellectually defensible views is something I work at every single day.  It really matters to me what I believe and whether it’s accurate and what effect my views have on the world.  So when I see people put zero effort into their beliefs and believe just the silliest nonsense without a second thought it really irks me.

Anyway, I was riding the bus the other day (that’s evil communist transportation for my conservative readers) and a woman had a baby in a stroller.  She was playing with the baby and making it smile and the baby was smiling back, it was nice.  So I mention that I saw a show the other day about how importance of baby laughter and smiling to parent-child bonding and how newborn babies are hard-wired to smile and even smile in their sleep etc.  So she says to me that she believes babies smile because they can see the spirits of our dead relatives, but because young babies can only see a short distance in front of their faces, the spirits must be up close for them to be seen.

I am polite in the face of this insanity but have a “trying not to facepalm” look on my face which she picks up on.  I say “I wonder how you could establish that exactly – what newborn baby talked about it to who?”  And she says “it’s okay if you don’t believe in it”.  Then the person across from her says he thinks babies can see spirits too, but not newborns, maybe when they’re a few months old.


They’re just making shit up off the top of their head and believing it for no reason whatsoever.  No logic, no evidence, no nothing.  The woman spent the last half of the ride reading from her pocket new testament.

The day before this happened here’s what happened on the bus:

Two older women (rough approximation above) were sitting on the bus chatting away.  One of them says to the other “I got my mammogram and my pap smear and I didn’t worry about it at all, you know why?  Because god is awesome.”  The other woman immediately agreed with her and she continued “god is awesome and he cleared me right up.”

Now the skeptic in me is cringing at the total absence of logic in this conclusion and the unbelievable arrogance of the notion that the creator of the universe while allowing genocide and starvation across the globe doesn’t have anything better to do than scrape the barnacles out of her uterus, all the while the human being in me is thinking


Wtf is wrong with this woman talking about her pap smear loud and proud in front of complete strangers?  I don’t want to be thinking about her bits and pieces.  Maybe this is why god made whispering.  Or email.  Or not talking.

And when I arrived at my destination (which was volunteering for the obama campaign) I was kind of disappointed by the fact that while IMO obama is the best choice, the skeptic’s choice, the moral choice, the smart choice etc for president (given the alternative) there was a sign on the wall where the first bunch of volunteers wrote why they’re there and while some of the comments were unique and intelligent a lot of them were regurgitated campaign slogans and catch phrases from posters on the wall.  It’s sad that even the “smart” pick has to gain support the same way bad sitcoms do, through catch phrases and cheesy advertising.

Anyway, this is a few thoughts from my last few days.  Hope everyone had a nice weekend.


About agnophilo

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15 Responses to Lamentations Of A Skeptic.

  1. xXrEMmUsXx says:

    “The woman spent the last half of the ride reading from her pocket new testament.” Since when do Christians believe that spirits of our dead ones hang around on earth? weird. I’ve actually entertained the idea that maybe babies can see spiritual things and are possibly more in-tune with it, IF… I entertain the thought that we are spirit beings in physical bodies it could be  possible for babies having just come from the ‘spirit world”. I know, I know…. I said I ‘entertained’ the thought… I didn’t start proclaiming it!i would talk about my pap and mammogram – guilty =[ sorry. BUT… this” “I got my mammogram and my pap smear and I didn’t worry about it at all, you know why?  Because god is awesome.“”While I know God is awesome and He tells me not to worry… I still do not assume I will never face tribulation – physical pains or anything ailing. Quite the contrary. Very interesting blog. I enjoyed it. I too work very hard at not being full of shit. LOL. For fear of not sounding judgmental…. Oh screw it…. I CANNOT stand when people cannot back up their beliefs!!!! I also cannot stand when people do not work towards self betterment. I just do not understand how I’m only 27 and work m butt off studying and self reflecting  and I know people in their late 40’s who are doing the exact same thing and proclaiming the exact same mindless banter they have for the last 10 years!

  2. cmdr_keen says:

    It is tough. I had a conversation with my step-sister-in-law over the weekend that went into this sort of territory. Talking the election, and how the most important issue to her was the candidate’s position on abortion.I can understand that, but I was trying to show how there can be a number of other, seemingly unrelated, issues that tie into a candidate’s position and how other people can see abortion as not being the central issue to an election.Also, I was also trying to highlight that while one candidate may say one opinion prior to an election, that doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the same opinion after the election. When you’re dealing with a candidate like Mitt Romney, this becomes even larger of a concern given his record of constantly shifting platforms based on nothing more than political expediency. It certainly made me think, as while personally I want to see all life protected, it’s not my place to assert that my position (formed from religious beliefs) should be mandated across all peoples no matter what – especially in a democracy. I then reevaluated everything else, but couldn’t shift my support from President Obama, who I think is the best candidate in this electoral cycle. I also hated the assertion that “a vote for Obama is a vote for abortion” – it’s just not true, and it’s an emotional ploy to try and swing votes.Sorry if it’s a tangent, but I think it’s applicable based on your stories.

  3. man, this made me laugh hahahahaha”he creator of the universe while allowing genocide and starvation across the globe doesn’t have anything better to do than scrape the barnacles out of her uterus”

  4. UTRow1 says:

    When I was an endocrinologist, I ran across this a lot in my patients. “Sir, your blood sugar level is astronomical. You’re blood pressure is dangerously high. I can tell that you haven’t been monitoring either or taking your medications.” Typical response: “That stuffs a pain in the ass. Besides, I’m a good Christian with a family. God will provide me with good health.” After this happened 2-3 times, I would usually dismiss them from my clinic. There’s no helping people that won’t help themselves and/or get offended when you suggest that God probably isn’t particularly interested in the plaque in their left ventricle. Sadly, very few of them lived for very long after that.

  5. UTRow1 says:

    @cmdr_keen – [I also hated the assertion that “a vote for Obama is a vote for abortion” – it’s just not true, and it’s an emotional ploy to try and swing votes.]Sadly, the Republican position on virtually every major issue can be best summed up as an election ploy. Their arguments are largely just empty rhetoric designed to demonize the left and/or energize their ignorant base. Governing well is so inconsequential that they haven’t even bothered developing plans to implement these principles. Take, for example, Romney/Ryan’s tax plan, which boils down to this: we have these 5 or 6 principles that no reliable independent studies indicate can work together, and we plan to work together with both parties to figure out a way to implement them when we reach office. In other words, they have no idea how to implement them. But why stop there? Why not also promise to give every child his or her own Pegasus when you enter into office?Similarly, look at how superficial their stance on abortion is, despite it being a one-issue determinant for who they vote for each election. I have never come across a conservative who can discuss abortion with any depth, and I have “collaborated with” many local, state, and federal anti-abortion advocates. For instance, none of them can answer the following questions: where should the line be drawn (e.g., conception)? What should be the punishment, criminal or civil? What, specifically, should be the punishment? If it’s criminal, where will we get the funds to build the new jails required to house the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of women who will likely have abortions within the first few years of the law’s enactment? Are medically necessary abortions permitted? If so, which (e.g., rape, incest, necessary to save the mother’s life)? Are you going to pass a federal bill or leave it up to the states? They presumably want to leave these types of decisions up to the states (which is not true, but let’s accept their words at face value). If you believe abortion is murder, why would you leave it up to the states to permit murder (a majority of states would not outlaw abortion in virtually any form)? What is your legal basis for any of these positions (i.e., you almost certainly won’t have a congressional majority to pass legislation legalizing your views, so what’s your support in the available case law and statutory law)? None of them, not even the most prominent conservative congressmen, can answer these questions. You just get a bunch of handwaiving or, at best, the “well, we’ll leave the states to draw those lines.” When you cut through the bullshit, their position is not only completely nonsensical and self-defeating (like trying to combine 1/10 the pieces of ten different jig saw puzzles), it’s demonstrably deleterious to the country. We didn’t magically arrive at becoming a pro-choice country. For hundreds of years ignorant state and local laws making abortion unduly restrictive created horrendous physical and mental health issues for women. The medical community banded together and convinced Congress and the Supreme Court that abortion was necessary for a first world country. It was such common sense at the time that abortion didn’t even become a real political issue until the mid-1980’s, when the Reagan Administration used Roe to politicize the legal process for political advantage. Seriously, I never once saw a protester at the local abortion clinics until the mid-1980s. Now there at least 10 of them at each clinic every time I drive by, regardless of the time. This is an entirely new phenomenon driven largely by the internet, the rise of conservative Televangelism, and a new breed of willful ignorance among social conservatives. 

  6. @UTRow1 – Does DSM mention an obsessive-abortion disorder?  It ought to be listed.  The state legislatures have spent thousands of hours on thousands of these goofy abortion bills, and to the exclusion of productive laws.  Your summary of the subject is well organized, very impressive.

  7. Sometimes all you can do is cue up the Twilight Zone music and hope for the best.

  8. You had me at barnacles.  Gah, the things some people talk about in public.

  9. Hey Agno, I’m big into Berkeley and the quantum these days. I also groan over how materialism is being pushed as the be-all end-all in science (or what now passes for science these days).Ever since the passing of the era of Darwin and Agassiz, science’s (that is, materialism’s) agenda has been to push that there can be nothing other than the physical. Thus its goal is to disprove God to the public. But in my view, the design involved will continue to resist both polytheistic and nontheistic interpretations at every level of investigation, having anticipated science’s agenda. I think it strange scientists so strenuously deride anything that doesn’t fit what is already accepted (such as Sheldrake’s morphic fields) and then embrace it when something happens to prove it. Its all about locus of control. If we cannot eventually control or manipulate it, we (the scientist in us perhaps) laughs it off. 

  10. Maybe its just too scary to accept there is something out there too big for us to control, that even may have anticipated us (or had made us and has control and can and will use it in ways we cannot plan for).

  11. shadow320 says:

    I think people like to put their faith in something so they don’t have to worry about those things they have no control over, like test results.  Worrying doesn’t do any good anyways & can actually cause harm, so their “putting their faith in God” may actually aid their health if they truly believe. I believe, but I worry anyways…

  12. UTRow1 says:

    @brerjohn_lives – You talk like someone who has never met or spoken to scientists. Scientists don’t deride religion, as most scientists in the U.S. are religious. Furthermore, the few public sphere scientists who are vocal opponents of religion (e.g., Richard Dawkins) don’t claim to represent the scientific community in general. However, what other scientists do that is often unfairly labeled as biased or derisive by conservative Christians and other religious groups is prove that non-scientific theories like creationism and intelligent design aren’t “scientific theories.” But, this is entirely fair because these theories fail to meet the basic criteria of scientific established by hundreds of years of trial-and-error (e.g.,falsifiability). To insist that theories without adequate support should be characterized as scientific theories is to miss the point of the scientific process entirely. It’s up to the proponents of theories to provide adequate support for the scientific community to accept their theories as scientific theories. Nobody has an obligation to treat non-science as science, and it would be detrimental to the human race as a whole if that’s how the scientific process worked. 

  13. agnophilo says:

    @brerjohn_lives – It’s not the idea that there is nothing but matter and energy, but that there is nothing experimentally testable but matter and energy.  Many scientists believe in a god, but any scientist that says a god is a scientific (ie empirically verifiable, observable phenomenon that can be subject to experimentation) is denounced as a liar by religious and secular scientists alike, because they are simply lying.Materialism is the notion that either matter and energy are all that exist, or that they are all that can be known to exist.  You can believe in whatever you like, but to claim to know the unknowable is dishonest and rightly shunned when people pretend it’s scientific.

  14. @shadow320 – Same goes for people who put their faith in science, I believe. Its about needing to feel in control, or else that somebody’s got your back.Of course, if the Creator DOES have your back, and knows what’s up, and that’s something that is forever… that is pretty comforting.

  15. agnophilo says:

    @brerjohn_lives – What’s the expression?  “Science doesn’t ask for your faith, it only asks for your eyes”, if memory serves.

Speak yer mind.

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