Science and Ideology

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We are Just Animated Stardust

bodyModern observations show that the universe appears to be expanding, and that about 13.7 billion years ago it was much smaller and hotter. As it expanded and cooled, hydrogen and helium condensed out of the initial soup up of high energy particles.  Massive clouds of hydrogen  compressed by gravity gave birth to and fueled the stars. All of the elements heavier than helium are produced in fusion reactions that power the stars. The heaviest elements that make up the Earth and other rocky planets are remnants of supernova explosions of hot white stars.

Life on Earth is dependent on the debris leftover from one or more of these supernovas that occurred more than 4 billion years ago. Our bodies are about 90% stardust, and 10% hydrogen left over from the origin of the universe.  Billions of years of evolution have resulted in biological organs, our brains, that have the ability to comprehend and appreciate their own existence. Our brains control a network of nerves that can animate our bodies, and experience the universe through our senses.  At some point in the evolution of life on Earth our universe became self aware via unique arrangement of primordial hydrogen and stardust. Continue reading

Detecting Pseudoscience

astrology-chartPseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.

Indicators of pseudoscience:

  1. Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims – paranormal activity, ESP, intelligent design
  2. Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation – acupuncture, alchemy
  3. Lack of openness to testing by other experts – cold fusion, acupuncture, intelligent design
  4. Absence of progress – astrology, acupuncture
  5. Personalization of issues – astrology, acupuncture, gun control, intelligent design
  6. Use of misleading language – homeopathy, intelligent design
  7. Misrepresentation of data – fracking, nuclear power, gun control

‘It becomes pseudoscientific when science cannot be separated from ideology, scientists misrepresent scientific findings to promote or draw attention for publicity, when politicians, journalists and a nation’s intellectual elite distort the facts of science for short-term political gain, when powerful individuals in the public conflate causation and cofactors (for example, in the causes of HIV/AIDS) through a mixture of clever wordplay, or when science is being used by the powerful to promote ignorance rather than tackle ignorance. These ideas reduce the authority, value, integrity and independence of science in society.’ (Wikipedia)

What is Real?

Objective reality is the raw data of the universe independent of what is, or is not, going on in any person’s mind. Each person’s subjective reality depends on the meaning they give to their perception of objective reality. It is filtered by sensory response, biased by self interest, and limited by the ability to understand what is perceived.

img_1310The Earth was here before you were, and will be here afterward. It is approximately a sphere and revolves around the sun, which warms its surface. It exists independent of any one person’s reality, and is part of the raw data of objective reality. The warmth you feel on a sunny day is subjective. Others may find the day a little too hot, or a little chilly. ‘It’s cold outside’ is a subjective observation. Continue reading

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