Posts Tagged 'Point of Inquiry'

Enlightning Bolts – 02.02.2010

Here is an amazing video of life in the water in the Antarctic. Carnivorous seastars. So. Freaking. Cool.

The new hosts of the Point of Inquiry podcast have been announced. Karen Stollznow I don’t know too much about, Robert Price I love (I’m currently reading one of his books), but the person who is going to be the main host is Chris Mooney. Mooney is a pretty controversial choice, as he is critical of many of the anti-accommodationist views that many regular Point of Inquiry guests hold, so I’m worried that he won’t be as impartial as DJ Grothe. Here are Russell Blackford’s concerns. I’m going to try to keep an open mind and judge for myself once the new episodes are released.

The 10:23 Campaign to protest the sale of homeopathy in pharmacies “forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that their products do not contain any ‘material substances’. Council spokeswoman Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that ‘there´s not one molecule of the original substance remaining’ in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million-dollar industry.” Win!

Mark Twain wrote a hilarious response to a snake-oil salesman who tried to sell him something called “The Elixer of Life”: “The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link.”

Test the Nation – Comparing IQs of Atheists & Believers

[NOTE: The results are in, not yet up on the CBC website but they're here for now.]

I always enjoy clobbering my husband in CBC’s Test the Nation quiz shows. It’s a TV series where you get to test your knowledge alongside different groups of people in the studio, as well as other participants at home. Previous show themes have been sports, trivia, or knowledge of Canada, and previous examples of in-studio groups have been bloggers, advertisers, tour guides, etc. It’s a fun time!

The upcoming show (next Sunday, January 24th) is an IQ test:

Our IQ test gives people across the country the chance to measure their intelligence against the rest of the population. Created by our team of intelligence-testing experts led by psychologists Dr. James Parker of Trent University and Dr. Don Saklofske of the University of Calgary, our test questions are closely modeled after those found in standardized IQ tests. The test aims to evaluate performance in what are considered key areas of intelligence, such as language comprehension, visual perception, memory, math and logical reasoning.

I can’t wait for this show to confirm my immense genius……. I’m also very interested this time in how the different groups will do. There are Politicians, Nerds, Twins, Contact Sport Athletes, but more interestingly (to me) Atheists and Believers.

I’m biased, I think the atheists will win…in my experience with atheists, they’re very good at figuring out the truth, and very thoughtful and intelligent people.

Here’s what representatives from the two in-studio teams have to say:

Believers: Reverend Katherine Brittain

4. Why will your team do well on the IQ test?
A large part of our job as clergy is listening, reading, analyzing and synthesizing information, reflecting on it critically and then presenting it in understandable ways for our congregations – challenging our folks to learn and grow, question and analyze – so we should have a group of folks who know how to use our brains! In addition, many faith traditions have educational requirements for the clergy that includes several years of post-secondary education, so we should do well in traditional IQ testing. If all that fails, well, we have a lot of prayers being offered by the contestants and our congregations who will (hopefully) be watching!
6. If you could have any specific person on your team, who would it be?
The Dalai Lama. Besides the fact I’ve always wanted to meet him, he’s brilliant, so it would bring our team’s score up and he’s got an aura of calm and serenity, so he could lull the opposition into relaxing.
Atheists: Justin Trottier, Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, Toronto
3. Why will your team do well on the test?
I think we will do well because Atheists tend to be questioned on their beliefs so much that they tend to be very well read and well-researched, and as a result are quite knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. I think that will make our team a dynamic and successful one.
4. If you could have any specific person on your team, who would it be?
Maybe Leonardo Da Vinci – he knew so much and was involved in so many disciplines. There are obviously people who have made more contributions in a given field but he had such a broad range of insights. Also it would be very cool to meet him.
I’m excited that Justin Trottier is representing the atheists, I love CFI and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him interviewed on Point of Inquiry.
If you’re in Canada and you want to participate in Test the Nation, make sure to sign up on the CBC website. You can sign up as a virtual member of one of the groups, and they’ll have stats afterwards of how each group did. So far the atheists are the largest group by far!
Who do you think will win? I’ll be sure to post the results after the test. Good luck!

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It’s Been a Year Since I Lost My Religion

A year ago today my life began to change in a big way. On October 3, 2008 Bill Maher’s movie about religion, Religulous, was released in Canada. At the time I was a Christian, but I decided to see the movie because I was intrigued by the previews. I had never been exposed to such outright criticism of religion.

I didn’t know who Bill Maher was (honestly…people find this hard to believe), so I didn’t know what to expect. What I saw was a crass, in-your-face dump on faith. But rather than feeling offended I felt inspired by the closing scene of the movie. Maher said:

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking…keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and distruction.

The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.

I started to allow myself to doubt my beliefs, and to consider that the Bible was probably just a fairy tale.

A short time after I had seen the movie I was in a book store and noticed Christopher Hitchens’s book God is not Great, and decided to pick it up. By the time I finished reading the book I was an atheist, and wondering how I ever believed in a god in the first place!

I was now very fascinated with the topic of religion, and picked up Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Dawkins introduced me to the world of skepticism of all sorts of beliefs. I discovered that there was a whole online community of skeptics.

I filled up my iPod with podcasts that allow me to learn while I’m working:

The Atheist Experience
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Hunting Humbug 101
Point of Inquiry
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
The Skeptic Zone
Skeptoid

I also got into reading blogs that kept me up to date on the big stories in the atheist and skeptical communities:

Bad Astronomy
Friendly Atheist
NeurologicaBlog
Pharyngula
Skepchick

And I’ve been doing my best to get a fairly well-rounded understanding of science. Some of my favourite books:

The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
Death From the Skies! – Phil Plait
Quirkology – Richard Wiseman
Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins

I’m being opened up to a whole new, fascinating, mind-boggling, incredible, inconceivable, evidence-based, beautiful and awe-inspiring universe.

It has been quite a year! I’ve been taking in so much information that I needed to start this blog in order to articulate some of my thoughts, and to try to take part in what others in the skeptical community are doing. I’m learning and growing every day, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at in a year’s time.

If any of the people involved in the podcasts, blogs and books I mentioned above happen to stumble upon this blog entry, I just want to say thanks!

I think that the best thing that I’ve learned in the last year is the importance of science. Science is the most useful tool that we have, and I’m excited every time I see someone promoting it to the wider public. It seems to be on the increase and that’s so encouraging.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I just felt the need to reflect on the past year. Thanks for reading!

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