Tag Archives: Facebook

Sunday Morning Musings: October 23, 2011

While I enjoy the Manchester derby this beautiful autumn morning, I’m reflecting on some of the events, both near and far, from the week:

Which Star Trek Character Are You? I’m now officially called the Vulcan in my house. Because I try to approach issues with an emotional detachment and look at the root causes logically, I’m Spock. I think I enjoy that label; I always admired Spock’s extreme calm under pressure and thoughtful problem solving. Incidentally, my wife if Kirk. A natural leader, she puts herself out there but where’s her emotions on her sleeve. She’s definitely the Tabasco sauce to my bland soup!

Facebook arguments? I managed to go the week without arguing on facebook with any of my friends. I have taken the approach, depending on the friend, of just choosing to not reply. Much like when Richard Dawkins says he doesn’t debate Creationists on science, I think I’ve arrived at a similar conclusion. If my friends choose to argue via slothful induction, then I’m not going to waste time pointing out the evidence they are ignoring. Similarly, it’s not my place I believe to tear them from their religious foundations as an end game; so if they arrive at any conclusions on their own, after having discussed something with me, then that’s on them.

Big Ideas:  As the North American holiday season approaches, I’ve been thinking about the reality of death.  Sounds rather macabre doesn’t it?  Well, inevitably the news stories about depression and suicide will start to spike as we near Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Loss is painful and during the holiday season, memories of good times gone by are often accompanied by an overwhelming nostalgia that leads in many cases to downright depression.  I’ve also been brushing up on my evolutionary biology and after a visit to Zoo Atlanta this week, something sort of dawned on me.  I’ve never really thought about just how important death is to species survival until this week.  That sentence almost doesn’t make sense does it?  How can death be important for survival right?  Well, more specifically, I’m thinking about the idea that death is necessary for natural selection to work; in fact, it’s fundamental to the whole thing!  With each death, you also have survivors, and without survivors, you don’t have natural selection, without natural selection, you don’t have adaptation, and without adaptation, you don’t have procreation, and without procreation, you don’t have a species.  It’s seems so obvious, yet I’ve been aware of evolution by natural section since my 6th grade science class, but I’ve never really connected up the importance of death to the success of the process until now, 33 years later.  I contribute my epiphany to a lack of good soccer on tv this week!

A Thank You to Facebook and the Republican Primary Debates

The title of this post could also just as easily be, “how to wake a dormant humanist.”

Three Republican party primary debates are in the history books.  There now is a crystal clear picture of candidates who – if belief in human knowledge is a litmus test – will rely on evidence to make decisions, and those who may not.

Jon Huntsman has been unequivocal.  He believes scientists.  His quote from his own twitter feed, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”  He stands in opposition to the rest of the pack…as the “crazy” one.

Mitt Romney has been less clear.  He seems as though he wants to come down on the side of science, but fears alienating a base hungry for a climate conspiracy theory. His quote via Reuters, “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is…I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

The rest of the primary contenders have also been unequivocal – in their rejection of evidence based knowledge.  Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich (although I think Newt might be playing politics on this, similar to Romney), Rick Santorum, have been clear that they do not believe the evidence and they do not trust science.

Given those latter positions, while spending time on my Facebook page during the debates, I assumed most of my friends would be as appalled as I was in the wholesale rejection of reason on display.  To my surprise, a very large number were not only not appalled, but they actually were in agreement with the anti-science crowd!  How? Why?  Many of these people attended the same public school system I attended; some even attended the same university.  So when, where, and how did the rejection of science in favor of opinion become so easy for otherwise intelligent people?  What has replaced research, understanding, and deference to true expertise when faced with understanding the issues of the day?  Is it an unhealthy reliance on left or right wing “news” sources?  Is it the proliferation of the internet as a primary source of information – a position it has no business occupying. Is it a “dumbing down” of America as we read less and plug in to distractions more?  Do we need more open, honest, non anonymous conversation with people who may not actually agree with us?

With those questions bouncing around in my brain, I feel now is as good a time as any to  have an intellectual awakening; an enlightenment if you will.  So thank you to the Republican hopefuls and to Facebook for giving me a context from which to begin our own, small, southern enlightenment.