The Political Compass

In a conversation I was having in the last meeting, some conjecture was performed on political leanings, particularly the concept of libertarianism. For those unaware of the subtleties of the political scope, libertarians advocate that the state should have as little to do with people’s lives, especially in the fields of economics, leading to laissez-faire economies where anything goes, extremely low levels of taxation and minimal social security.

Continue reading

The Beginners Guide to Creationism

Shamelessly stolen from the RationalWiki blog and full credit to the original author, Armondikov.

What is it?

Creationism most generally means that the entire universe was created by a deity in a supernatural incident. Most commonly it refers to the Christian one but almost all religions in the world have some sort of creation myth that explains the origins of the world. What we’re most interested in, however, is the branch known as “young earth creationism” (YEC). Not all creationists are YECs, and there are a few alternative forms, but 99% of the time skeptics will use “creationism” and YEC interchangeably.

YEC specifically proposes that the world was created literally as described in the Bible, only 6,000 years ago according to the chronology deduced by Archbshop James Ussher in the 17th century – with the creation occurring October 23rd, 4004 BC, in fact. Yes, this is after some recorded written history and milestones such as the domestication of the dog.

It’s primarily a Christian doctrine (fundamentalist Islam, for instance, opposes evolution but doesn’t insist on a “young” Earth) and in its modern form is common to North America, where as much as 45% of the adult population believes it.

Continue reading

It’s all good, clean fun.

So, we have ourselves a creationist, and what an interesting turn of events that led to. From the challenge of the established dating methods, to the ‘controversy’ over the dinosaur DNA, it’s safe to say even the debate on climate change was nothing compared to that.

However, I think a lot of the facts and information was lost in the clamour to put points across and, personally speaking, I felt unable to truly interact without adding to the mob rule that a dissenting voice in an overwhelming majority must feel. I’ve had a good think about it, and the way skeptics interact with such minority views needs to be more structured and carefull done. Positions based on faith, like creationism and homeopathy, don’t react well to evidence and facts; if they did, then those positions wouldn’t exist. When faced with well supported evidences and scientific positions as close to ‘proof’ as uncertainty allows, they hunker down, letting the facts wash over them before springing out with their own brand of refutation. It becomes a tennis match of throwing out soundbites and quotes, with neither side actually managing to make any sense. Add that to the fact that people advocating pseudoscientific views actually benefit from a drifting debate topic (it helps evade the awkward questions) then a better tactic is needed, both to clarify what it actually is the proponent is saying, and establishing something to refute.

Continue reading