Archive for June, 2009

Look to Norway!

Today this comic showed up on RichardDawkins.net:

lol.

Well, yeah, it’s funny, but something here caught my attention and made me flex my Google muscles and that is…

Norway is ranked first in the world in life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living.

Hold on… Norway has the highest life expectancy, literacy rate, education, and standard of living? Well… let’s take a look at a few links.

Well, it’s not actually first at any of the things listed in the comic so it’s not exactly honest, is it? But yes, that is damned good, and it shows that nations can be just as good as the U.S. with a primarily atheistic population…

But might I point out one thing? Canada ranks higher in life expectancy than Norway, ranks equally in literacy, is in first place for most educated, and is also among the top ten countries with highest living standards. The U.S. also doesn’t do too shabby with a life expectancy of 78.06 (so Norwegians get one or two more years), a shared literacy rate, second place in education, and also has a place on highest standards of living.

I’m going to go ahead and say, though it’s not as secular, statistically speaking…

Canada > Norway

Update: I present a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.

You know what this means? FDR had the foresight to know that Norway would be the cause of the Iraq War! Another reason why Canada > Norway!

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The Campaign for Free Expression

Ideas don’t need rights. People do.

There are certain taboos that we coexist with in our society, constricting the wide range of things we could be talking about. Deviants of these taboos are often met with hostile reactions. If you’ve ever openly criticised, say… religion, but never heard somebody say something to the effect of “stop talking about religion! You offend me!” I’d love to move to your planet.

For those of us on Earth, however, there’s the Center for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression. Over the course of the year, CFI will be supporting free expression in taboo topics by holding contests, participating in International Blasphemy Day (September 30, 2009), and much much more. Check out their website at the sexy domain name, pleaseblock.us, as well as the video below. And, yes, they are trying to get blocked in Iran, China, Malaysia, Cuba, etc.

On a relevant side note, the last time I was in China I found that foreign news sources, Wikipedia, and many blogs (including all of WordPress and all of Blogspot) were blocked by the infamous Great Firewall (on an irrelevant side note, I once climbed the physical Great Wall in houseslippers ’cause my pair of shoes broke). I’ll be going again sometime in July. I don’t know about Teen Skepchick, but you can be assured that I’ll still find a way to keep blogging my dissenting and non-dissenting opinions for the three or so weeks. 😉

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What is the Meaning of SecondLife?

SecondLife is on the whole a boring game. Small modicums of entertainment can be gained by seeing people attachspiritualdarkness_001 couches to themselves as outfits. It is no wonder people are wondering “is there something more than this virtual 3D world?”

Out of boredom, and seeking answers to the great mysteries of SecondLife, I decided to attend a meeting on “spiritual darkness”. Surprisingly, the spiritual people seemed resistant towards me talking about silly scientific concepts like gravity.

Today I learned:

  1. We can’t explain consciousness, therefore atoms are conscious.
  2. Thinking scientifically = cynicism
  3. I am living in spiritual darkness because I’m too attached to intellectual enlightenment.
  4. “multi-dimensional realities make sense to me. this band of frequencies experiences a duality principle that is holographic to the rest of thee system” (see chat log below)
  5. Couch monsters are freaking hilarious.

A lengthy chat log follows. It can be seen either as depressing or entertaining, depending on the sort of person you are. Feel free to read it. Continue reading

Lessons in Logic

So myself, my mother, and two guests walk into a Chinese restaurant. Part of the conversation goes like this.

Mom: The way they grow food here in the US is different from the way they grow food in China. That must be the reason why people have allergies here.

Me: Have you ever heard of the phrase correlation does not equal causation? Yes, thats a possible cause i suppose, but you haven’t said anything to say why it is a better explanation than, say, genetics. Let me give you an example… Chinese people are lactose intolerant. Chinese people eat rice. Rice causes people to be lactose intolerant. Where was my use of a logical fallacy?

Mom: Well… Stop talking about scientific things with people who don’t understand science.

Me: Mom, you do realise that airplanes don’t fall out of the sky just because you don’t understand how they work. I know that this sounds crazy, but the same laws of reality apply to everybody, anywhere, no matter what your cultural predisposition is. Like… this is really insane but whenever you cross the International Date Line in an airplane you don’t fall out of the air.

Lunch Guest: How old are you?

Me: Sixteen.

Lunch Guest: You’re going to change your mind about a lot of things as you get older.

Me: … ?

Mom: That’s right. There are a lot of things that you don’t know yet.

That’s right. Because I’m a teenager, when I grow up I’ll come to realise that correlation does equal causation. And I will come to embrace the fact that the laws of nature operate differently for different people, and that the world is flat if only you believe it is.

Note to adults: Saying that a logical fallacy isn’t fallacious because the person telling you it’s fallacious is young doesn’t make it less fallacious. Also, if you really have some kind of knowledge that we lowly adolescents haven’t got then how would we ever grow older if you didn’t tell us? What good does it do to say “there are a lot of things you don’t know” and not tell us? Absolutely nothing.

Crop Circle: Sign of an Enlightened Era

A 250 meter long jelly fish has appeared on a farm in England, so reports the BBC. But note the following sentence from the article…

She said she was not concerned about tracking down the culprits and the incident has not been reported to the police.

What’s missing from this sentence?

They’re not jumping to the conclusions that it was created by an intelligent extraterrestrial agent! I’m going to go ahead and say that the public, at least the media, has reached a more educated level. Go ahead, read the whole article. At least these farmers have come to appreciate crop circles for what they are: practical jokes which can be beautiful but also costly.