What has TSZ accomplished? 7 years and counting

I have recently realized that The Skeptical Zone blog has had its 7th year anniversary…
Since Dr. Liddle has return, at least temporarily, I thought it could be a great opportunity to evaluate what the goal of TSZ was, when it opened for business over 7 years ago, and whether such goal(s) have been accomplished, if any…

Here is what Dr. Liddle’s mission statement was in the introductory web page:

” My name is Elizabeth Liddle, and I started this site to be a place where people could discuss controversial positions about life, the universe and everything with minimal tribal rancour (pay no attention to the penguins….) Continue reading

This post violates site rules

Statement from administrator team:  This post is in violation of site rules, that we should discuss the message, not the poster of the message.

In the interest of transparency, we are making the post public.  We want to be clear that the administrator team does not agree with the accusations made in the post.  Our initial reaction was to make the post private, to give us time to review the situation.  We are now making it public again, but comments are closed for this topic.  If the original author of this post requests that we make it private once again, that will be considered.

We have kept Elizabeth informed of what we are doing.  And she has given one brief email response, which I am taking as tacit approval of our initial reaction.

Neil Rickert.

Original title: Swamidass caught lying at PeacefulScience.org

If you need some entertainment, here’s a story that follows a familiar Uncommon Descent plot line:

Charlatan lies; charlatan gets caught; charlatan digs the hole deeper; gets caught some more; and charlatan, in desperation, finally bans the messenger.

In this case the charlatan is Joshua Swamidass, the blog is PeacefulScience.org, and the ban is for a week, not permanent. But it’s basically the same old UD story.

It starts here. I hope the comments don’t get deleted. Given the recent censorship kerfuffle there, Swamidass will be feeling pressure not to delete them. But the evidence is pretty damning, and it will be painful for him to leave them in place. We’ll see what happens.

Does embryo development process require ID?

Jonathan Wells, who is an embryologist and an ID advocate, has a very interesting paper and video on the issue of ontogeny (embryo development)  and  the origins of information needed in the process of cell differentiation…

Wells thinks that a major piece of information needed in the process of embryo development can’t be explained by DNA,  and therefore may require an intervention of an outside source of information, such as ID/God…

If you don’t want to watch the whole video, starting at about 40 min mark is just as good but especially at 43 min.

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Help the gliding snake grow wings

Evolution “…is as much a fact as the heat of the sun…”– Richard Dawkins

Unfortunately, what evolution no doubt is missing to be such a fact is the actual proof that evolution can do what its supporters claim it has done and can do…
Simply pointing to a fully developed organism and saying – “evolution did” – is just as good a claim as saying – “God did it, or ID must have done it”- unless there is some kind of falsifiability for the claims…Otherwise, such claims remain in the realm of optimism bias, blind faith, or simply science-fiction…and give science bad name at the same time…

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Can the future affect the past?

According to Quantum Mechanics future can affect the past.
There are many names for this “QM weirdness”; retro-causality, time flying backwards and so on…

Experiment Shows Future Events Affect The Past

There are just as many interpretations of this supposed weirdness that QM presents scientists with…Some say that we don’t know enough about TIME…Others say there is no such thing as time; at least on quantum level…

Though initially opposed or uncomfortable to with the problems QM presented him with, Einstein, just before he died, made the following statement about TIME itself.

Einstein once wrote, in a letter to comfort the widow of a recently deceased friend, “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

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The Simulation Hypothesis

This video outlines and explores the philosophical and scientific history of the idealism vs materialism, and shows how the scientific evidence much better fits idealism – meaning, that everything we experience as physical reality is the result of the processing of information via a nonphysical mind (outside of space-time). I think the big problem with this perspective is that it not only challenges various forms of materialism; it also challenges many religious perspectives – at least in terms of what the fundamental nature of our existence is.

IMO, one of the interesting implications (not expressed in the video) is that if what we actually experience is indeed generated by mental processing, feedback loops could be a normal, even essential aspect of our experience. IOW, if you believe in and process information from a particular ideological/personal perspective (we all do), it may be that the experiential reality you encounter is actually being physically (not just psychologically) sustained and supported as a result of having those views and beliefs.

One wonders what the limitations would be if our “reality” experience is determined by mental processing of information (both conscious and subconscious).

What is the purpose of life?

The question of the purpose of life has preoccupied philosophers, poets, thinkers and the like, for thousands of years. Clearly, it’s a tricky one. It is surprising that pharmaceutical companies have not addressed this issue… yet… 🙂

From the materialistic/atheistic/evolutionary perspective, the answer to this question is clear: Since the universe and life are the products of purposeless, random processes, life itself has no purpose or meaning either…
While materialists could argue that it is still possible to find some kind of meaning in life, in the end there doesn’t seem to be an ultimate purpose in life without some kind of hope that theistic supporters look forward to…

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Suicide evolution and determinism bamboozle

Many recent, and not so recent, suicides of celebrities, stirred up some questions whether humanity is actually progressing, or evolving, especially when the noticeable increase of mental health issues is taken into consideration, such as depression or anxiety disorders that often lead to suicidal thoughts and suicide…

My question is: How does suicide fit into the evolutionary theory?

Also:

How does suicide fit into the deterministic notion popular among many evolutionists and materialists who claim that humans have no free will?

Here is how one article Why Doesn’t Evolution Discourage Suicide? elaborated on the issue of suicide in light of evolution:

“Humans, like all animals, are designed to pass along genes to the next generation. But ending your own life means, in stark evolutionary terms, cutting off, or harming your future reproductive success. When young people kill themselves, their genes are eliminated from the gene pool; when adults kill themselves they can no longer care for dependent children; when elderly people kill themselves, they, too, abdicate the role of caring parent for the next generations.”

So, suicide, even thoughts of suicide, makes no sense, at least from an evolutionary point of view…

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The Heart is Not a Machine, it is a Work of Art

In the following video Alexander Tsiaras calls the development of the human heart magnificent oragami as the heart forms with cells developing  at a rate of one million per second.

Conception to birth — visualized

It is generally believed that the heart acts as a pressure pump forcing an inert fluid through the lungs and through the bodily tissues and organs. There is evidence that this is not the case and that it is more accurate to view the heart as an organ which regulates the dynamic activity of the blood. Continue reading

Does quantum entanglement violate relativity?

Ever since the implications of quantum entanglement between particles became unavoidable for physicists and cosmologists, the doubt of the accuracy or completeness of Einstein’s general and special theory of relativity became real… Einstein himself called quantum entanglement “spooky action at a distance” because the possibility of faster than speed of light transfer of information between two entangled particles (no matter what distance between them) would violate relativity and the fundamentals of one of the most successful theories in science…

Recently, however, several experiments have confirmed that entanglement is not only real but it seems to violate relativity.

The results of the first experiment have provided the speed of entanglement, which was measured to be at least 10.000 times faster than the speed of light. here

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Climate change killed the aliens and will kill us too: a case study in GIGO

Ever wondered why we haven’t met any aliens yet? Live Science Senior Editor Brandon Specktor thinks he knows the answer: technologically induced climate change (caused by excessive energy use) may have killed them all off, and it’ll kill us off too, if we don’t get our act together real fast and switch to sustainable sources of energy. In an eye-catching article titled, Climate Change Killed the Aliens, and It Will Probably Kill Us Too, New Simulation Suggests (Live Science, June 6, 2018), Specktor breathlessly reports on the findings of a new study by Adam Frank et al., titled, The Anthropocene Generalized: Evolution of Exo-Civilizations and Their Planetary Feedback (Astrobiology, Vol. 18. No. 5, published online May 1, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2017.1671). Dr. Adam Frank is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester, New York.

Spektor’s summary of the study’s findings is sobering:

The results, as you might expect, were generally pretty grim. Of four common “trajectories” for energy-intense civilizations, three ended in apocalypse. The fourth scenario — a path that involved converting the whole alien society to sustainable sources of energy — worked only when civilizations recognized the damage they were doing to the planet, and acted in the right away.

“The last scenario is the most frightening,” [leading study author Adam] Frank said. “Even if you did the right thing, if you waited too long, you could still have your population collapse.”

But a model is only as good as the foundation upon which it is built. And it turns out that Frank’s model is built on a foundation of sand.
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What Would Indicate the Supernatural

The term “supernatural” comes up on this and other boards and in similar discussion forums from time to time and I have come to the conclusion that there can be no such thing. Or, at the very least, if there really is something that could be accurately labeled as supernatural, such would have to be completely beyond understanding by anything (like we humans) that is not supernatural.

As an example, I’ve been studying quantum entanglement a bit. Pretty weird phenomenon from the perspective of those of us in a non-quantum, macro dimension. Very difficult to conceptualize how certain particle states could possibly be correlated, but correlated they are. So is this correlation “supernatural”? I certainly would not define it that way and I know of no physicists who would either.

The point is, even if one really believes that something like entanglement – a repeatably verifiable and investigatible phenomenon – has a supernatural basis, what could possibly be understood about that supernatural component? How could it be verified at all and what could investigating it add to any kind of understanding about…oh…anything?

So for those of you who do believe there is something that can be classified as supernatural, I’m just curious as to what supernatural means to you and what type of event or phenomenon would indicate to you that something is supernatural.

 

2. Earth is the Center of the Universe? Full Movie

This is a follow up to Earth is the Center of the Universe? OP with the link to the full documentary entitled The Principle. It is really worth to watch it in its entirety just to get the sense of how cosmologist, like Lawrence Krauss, and many other scientists deliberately resist the data  (verified by 3 different probes) that Axis of Evil are pointing to the special location of the Earth in the Universe…

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The Yanny/Laurel phenomenon

Another case of perceptual ambiguity gone viral, along the lines of the famous blue dress/gold dress phenomenon.

I emphatically hear “Yanny”, but roughly half of the population hears “Laurel”.

The New York Times explains:

The Times traced the clip back to Roland Szabo, an 18-year-old high school student in Lawrenceville, Ga., who posts as RolandCamry on Reddit. He said Wednesday that he was working on a school project and recorded the voice from a vocabulary website playing through the speakers on his computer. People in the room disagreed about what they were hearing. Some other students created an Instagram poll, which was then shared widely on Reddit, Twitter and other sites.

One detail may frustrate some and vindicate others: He found the original clip on the vocabulary.com page for “laurel,” the word for a wreath worn on the head, “usually a symbol of victory.”

The Times also provides a tool that allows you to modify the frequency response, transforming “Yanny” into “Laurel” and back again:

We Made a Tool to Help You Hear Both Laurel and Yanny

If God expects us to pray for others, does that make Him a monster?

Scrolling through some recent comments, my attention was caught by this one, posted by keiths:

Besides not panning out scientifically, intercessory prayer doesn’t even make theological sense.

An old OP on the topic:

The (il)logic of intercessory prayer

So I checked out keiths’s OP, which describes the hypothetical case of a woman named Mary, suffering from a terminal illness, whose friends decide to pray for her. Keiths cuts to the chase:
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Commemorating May 1

Not even in his worst nightmares could Franz Kafka “imagine” such dystopia – he could only bear tearful witness in slack-jawed dumbfoundment!

Check out this link:

https://www.dailywire.com/news/30050/nyt-celebrates-marxs-birthday-op-ed-happy-birthday-ben-shapiro

Carpe diem I shall seize the opportunity to address any and all “USEFUL IDIOTS”, especially those who are even unaware that they are “USEFUL IDIOTS” aka “Cultural Marxists”.

First of all, let us be clear here: Cultural Marxism is NOT just some misappropriated simpleton “snarl word”, to smear the presumed compassionate and well-intentioned high ideals of the Left, dontchya know. (my gorge rises)

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The Joe G Memorial Math Problem

Regular readers of TSZ will remember the hilarity that ensued when former commenter JoeG grappled unsuccessfully with the cardinality (loosely, the size) of various infinite sets. In honor of that amusing episode, I’m posing a new problem involving an infinite set.

Here’s the problem:

Consider the set containing every real number that can be described using a finite number of English words. For example, “thirty-three” and “two point eight” obviously qualify as members of the set, but also “pi minus six”, “the cube root of e”, and “Zero Mostel’s age in years on July seventh, nineteen sixty-three”, all of which designate specific real numbers. The set is infinite, of course.

Prove that the set of all such numbers takes up exactly zero percent of the real number line.