Science

A Year in Review: Misplaced Grace

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Global Warming, Humour, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science, Trolls, You're Not Helping |

This has been a fun first year of blogging.  I graduated from a chronic lurker and occasional commenter on other blogs to having my own platform with which to discuss those topics that really interest me.  I want to give new readers a bit of a review of my first year of blogging so that everyone can catch up on issues they may find interesting but missed the first time around.  I also want to take this opportunity to go over some of my upcoming plans for posts and projects in the new year so that I can get feedback to help shape what direction I go with this blog and it’s content.

Misplaced Grace had it’s first post back on June 10th of 2010.   After the required “Welcome to My Blog” post, I chose Anthropogenic Global Warming as my first subject for a full post.  My WordPress widget tells me that that first post received a grand total of 5 views, the first one being a month after this blog started. Not exactly a winner out of the gates.   The first post that ever received a comment, as well as the first post that ever got a significant number of hits was about Andrew Rosenberg, a teenager who got in over his head by e-mailing PZ Myers.  One of the comments turned out to be from Andrew himself, and this prompted two more posts where I tried to answer his questions about evolution, religion, and science.  These posts turned out to be among my most popular, as well as contributing to many new pageviews long after the posts were published.   The You’re Not Helping debacle got me the busiest single day of traffic ever to my blog, and still gets regular hits.  My Apologetics and Apostasy series came next, followed by a sometimes rocky exchange with a theist when I commented on her blog and linked a post that turned into a great and thought provoking conversation.  My long and drawn out argument with astrologers over at Lousy Canuck became the impetus for some cross posts as well as a challenge with James Alexander that has not yet come to fruition.  My commentary on the Wikileaks/Assange rape case finished off the year with a bang.  I joined Planet Atheism this fall, and it has certainly helped.  So here is a breakdown of my first year of blogging, both statistically and personally, with added commentary.

Misplaced Grace 2010

Total posts: 40– This breaks down to about 6 or 7 a month, a number I would like to increase in the New Year.  My goal is to have 2 or 3 posts a week.  So hopefully my 2012 New Year message will have a total around 110-150 posts for the year.

Total Pageviews: About 2800– That averages to about 70 views per post, and I would be pretty happy to keep that pace.  My goal for 2011 then would be somewhere around 10,000 views.

Total Comments: 215– A bit deceptive because I reply to almost every comment, so let’s half that number and say 107.  That is less than three comments per post, and the number I would most like to change.  I need to make posts that demand feedback; something that I have had trouble doing thus far….

Busiest single day: October 6th, 2010, 69 views–  WOW! I remember that day and it was a real high.  That number seems really low, but to me it was really exciting.  I would love to get over 100 views in a single day this year.

Most viewed post:  Polaris Software:  A Critical Analysis–  Other than my homepage, this post has generated the most views at 292.  Every one of my astrology posts has had more than 50 views, making them pretty popular.

Least Viewed Post: Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Denial of Science– Only 5 views.  Sad, really.  I kind of like that post…..

My Favorite Post:Does Righteousness Recuse One From A Rape Investigation–  I really like this post and I really liked writing it.  I also enjoyed the discussion that ensued.

What To Expect In 2011

Here is a list of posts I have been sitting on for the coming year, as well as some projects I have planned.  Commentary is appreciated.

1. The Ian Juby Project: I plan to pick apart some YouTube clips from Ian Juby of the  Portable Creation Museum Project.  This guy lives in my backyard, just down the road in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario.  He runs a traveling creation museum that aims to spread creationist propaganda to any group willing to pay his expenses.  Lots of lies, half truths, and misrepresentations.  I want to address as many as I can, to offer a resource for people being shoveled his brand of bullshit.

2. My Conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses: I have been getting these people at my door lately and want to make the most of it.  I find that for a group of people who go door to door trying to sell their religion, not many of us really know what exactly they believe.  I am going to take one for the team and sit them down for a series of conversations, which I will blog about here.  Any submissions of questions would be appreciated, as well as suggestions for how I should format the exchange.  I am kind of excited about this project, I am really interested about where JW’s stand on a host of issues.

3.  Evolution and Science Debates in Meatspace:  I have a creationist friend who is getting a basic cable television project developed on the intersection of faith and science.  I  will be a contributor and presenter in parts of this series and I hope to keep everyone abreast of developments as they emerge.

4.  Expanded Canadian Content:  I want to try and focus on Canadian issues and content in the coming year.  This will hopefully include a few more posts on Canadian history and politics, as well as some current events stories.  An election is looming, and this should provide fodder for more posts with Canadian content.

5. Tying up Loose Ends:  I had some posts this year where I wanted to do more research or work and have fresh posts on the topic.  In some cases I made commitments that remain unfulfilled.  I hope to sew these up this year, with an end to my Apologetics and Apostasy series, a meeting of my challenge to Polaris astrology software and other subjects.  (more…)

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2012:Doomsday- Worst Movie Ever Or Just In Recent Memory?

Posted on December 9, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Humour, Personal, Science |

I recently got Netflix on my Wii console.  There are not a lot of  “A-list” movies on Netflix, so I have done some browsing to try and find good action movies to soak up between the documentaries and the remote being commandeered by my children to watch the entire Sonic the Hedgehog TV series.  I wouldn’t have chosen 2012: Doomsday to waste two hours of my life on until I read a conversation about it over at Lousy Canuck.  The people who had watched it said it was really, really bad; and just like passing a car accident or renting Weekend At Bernie’s 2, I just had to see the clusterfuck for myself……

I had mentioned over at Lousy Canuck that I might blog about the movie.  I just needed to have some angle.  So in this post I have decided to give my opinion on three movies at once.  I’ll build up to 2012:DD by first reviewing 2012- the recent Hollywood blockbuster, then Doomsday- an apocalyptic action film from Britain, then finally 2012:DD-the movie that is roughly as entertaining as listening to your drunk Uncle Louie spoil the plot of the aforementioned films while doing his best Fran Drescher impression.

(more…)

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Talk Like A Creationist Week

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Humour, Religion, Science |

Tim Cooley has a fun idea.  This week is Talk Like A Creationist Week.  In the spirit of showing creationists that we are well aware of their talking points-and to have a little fun- everyone is invited to do their best impression of a creationist in the comment section.  Feel free to post your own creationist diatribe in the comment thread, the winner will be chosen based on the most believable rant- or post your best impression over at Tim’s blog.

Irrefutable proof of a Young Earth...

Tim has some great pointers to get you started:

If you’re looking to participate in the talk-like-a-creationist week here are some tips to get you started.

Do’s:

  • Speak in a moderately condescending manner or with a slight hint of condescension. ✔
    eg. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the absence of basic human education. It’s all as obvious as the need to breath… to the point of being banal…”
  • In your arguments, mould atheism and ‘evolutionism’ and Darwinism and abiogenesis into one. ✔
  • Where appropriate, attempt sarcasm. ✔
    eg. “You’re almost smarter than every single human being on the planet, past or present. i r ignorant.”
    eg2. “lol Geez, I hope one day I can be only partially as wise as you” (more…)
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Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Irony in the Title, Random, Science |

Note From George: Many of you already know that for the last several days I have been wading into the astrology debate over at Jason’s blog, Lousy Canuck.

During the original debate, we were invited by Jamie Funk to join in on the discussion at his astrology blog where I first encountered James Alexander and his brief explanation of Polaris; a computer software developed for “rectification”.  James has now joined the debate on Jason’s blog, and has once again brought up Polaris as evidence of astrology’s ability to make falsifiable predictions.  During this debate, I have offered James the opportunity to test Polaris as a proof of astrology and he seems genuinely interested in putting it to task.  In the interests of giving a fair shake to James, I would like to give him the opportunity to guest post his own interpretation of Polaris, which I will not edit save a disclaimer that the views are his, and post it on my site.  I welcome his comments about my interpretation, which I am offering here.  I would forewarn readers that this is a 4000 word post with no jokes and little pointed language, and will likely be a tl;dr for anyone not interested by astrology or with vested interest in our ongoing discussion.  Feel free to read my Summary  just above the fold to get a brief overview of this post.  Unless you are James.  Then you should read it and explain in some detail what parts are factually wrong, as well as proofread it for spelling and grammar.  (that’s my only joke folks, you have been warned)  All quotes or information attributed to James is available at the Polaris link or in comments on my blog and Lousy Canuck.  I will be happy to clarify the source upon request.

Jason has offered to post on his blog the parameters and eventual results of this test of Polaris on his site, once James and I have agreed on terms and begun the test.

Overview

  • Rectification can cause “warm readings” as opposed to “cold readings”, the potential for non-astrologically gained information and/or the discounting of information should be considered as fostering confirmation bias.
  • It is feasible to create a PRNG (Pseudo-Random Number Generator) that would perform better than chance without the aid of astrology.
  • The odds quoted by James are fundamentally flawed
  • Many of his corollary statements are misdirecting, flawed or incorrect
  • By widening the scope of what would pass for a “hit” for Polaris, the odds of the “uncanny” become far better.
  • Polaris is deserving of a test in spite of my basic criticisms (more…)
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Daily Horoscope:Mars May Be Conjunct Jupiter, But Your Head Is In Uranus.

Posted on August 17, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Irony in the Title, Science |

Edit:I changed the grammar of the title in response to James’ criticism.

Note From George: There is a more lengthy criticism of Polaris in my follow up post Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.

After a month long hiatus, Jamie Funk is back for round 2 over at Lousy Canuck.  Well, sort of.  He has re-joined the fray now that Robert Currey has come in to defend astrology with something resembling a real argument.  I do not by any means agree that Robert’s argument is anything short of trying to obfuscate the debate, but he at least came to the fight with a weapon; even if it is just pepper spray at a gun fight.  I can summarize the new flavor of the debate like so:

1. Astrology doesn’t need a mechanism.  It also apparently doesn’t need to have a quantifiable effect.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to need anything other than a 3000 year pedigree and some nifty anecdotes.

2. Astrologers are not responsible to give any evidence to prove that astrology works.  Science needs to prove a negative so that astrologers can critique these studies as faulty.  Scientific method be damned.

3.  Skeptics continually disregard “hits” out of hand.  Even if those hits are based on ambiguous guesswork that could be viewed as a “hit” no matter which way the winds blow.

4.  Astrologers like to insist that we divulge our personal information rather than subject their “field of study” to any semblance of a scientific assessment.

Why I Am Not Convinced.

Not suprisingly, Uranus is a Gas Giant- What effect that has on me, I don't really know...

Astrologers, in my mind, need to show that their “field of study” has some measurable effect in the world we live.  Before we can postulate a mechanism, we first need to see the need for a mechanism.  There has to be some phenomenon that can best be explained by astrology, and this would make a mechanism necessary.  Astrologers do not seem to agree with this.  They think we should prove that astrology has no effect, at which point they can decide if our proof is sufficient to discount astrology or not.

Then, out of the blue, James Alexander comes into the discussion.  Those of you who have read my Daily Horoscope series would be familiar with James, both as the poster I referenced from Jamie’s blog and the author of the Polaris link I gave in DH: You’re in a Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy.  You might also remember the open offer I gave him in DH: There Will Be A Test.

Polaris: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

To reiterate what I said before:

Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, but likely not the brightest computer program...

A poster named James mentioned Polaris, a computer program that he described as being indisputably predictive in calculating birth times.   I should have caught on when the process was referred to as “rectification”, but the temptation of a program that was testable and falsifiable blinded me to its obvious flaw.

The process is called “rectification”, I know now, because it uses your built in confirmation bias to re-jig your birthtime based on past events in your life.  The idea is this:

Subject A either has no registered or confirmable birth time or feels that his/her birth time was miscalculated by timepieces at the time of their birth.

With the foreknowledge that astrology is more accurate at calculating birth times then, say, a clock or watch which was invented solely for the purpose of time keeping; Subject A gives a list of significant events from their lives and a list of probable birth times and Polaris extracts the most likely one based on a points system.

How eminently scientific!  I can still see how this program could be used to disprove itself though.

Let’s say someone bought the program, gathered birth time information on several individuals using clocks that are accurate to the millisecond, witnessing and documenting firsthand the indisputable birth times.  Wait say, 20 years and input events from those individuals lives and a wide range of birth times and voila, the indisputable birth time must surely emerge!

Not Fair?

I’d like to know why, without any confirmation bias “that was the time they were supposed to be born” bullshit that I can hear already spewing from the credulous assholes mouth.

I’ve already proposed how to use this program in a less scientific way to at least lend weight to it’s credibility.  I’m still open to takers:

From James’ comment at Funk Astrology.

Hypothesis: That the time of a persons birth can be calculated with better than average accuracy using the dates of a series of unrelated events in their lives.

Experiment:  Provided with a list of ten (10) unknown subjects information including date of birth, place of birth, and several important events in their lives, the astrologer will be able to calculate their known birthtime within an insignificant margin of error.  These calculations are to be statistically more accurate than the guesses of 5 non-astrologers.

James didn’t want to address my concerns with Polaris a month ago, and certainly has not seemed to keen to address them now.  He claims that the odds of Polaris working are 1 in 1440 yet when I look at his example on the Polaris link I find this information:

She sent me over 40 events from her life, mostly with exact dates. I took 38 of these events (the ones where the dates were most accurately known) and entered each of them into Polaris. I gave the software a search range of an hour on either side of the supposed birthtime. This entering of events goes quite quickly. In about a minute (time dependent on computer speed), Polaris examined every 8 seconds in birthtime throughout the range and gave the following table:

Don't know you're "real" birth time? That's why we invent astrology software!

With an hour on either side,and examining every eight seconds, you’re chances look like 1 in 900. But if we consider the fact that many people don’t have birthtime to the second, we must consider what range of “hits” would be considered uncanny to the person who has a rough birth time. Let’s suppose its just ten minutes either side of their birth time. By my math that equates to 1 in 6.
So I question the method, not the significance of it’s results.

I am left with the impression that his statistical skills are a bit lacking.  He has succumbed to his own confirmation bias.

I still leave my original offer open though.  I would gladly offer him the chance to set up a rigorous blind test of Polaris’ efficiency at calculating birth times.  I’ll even allow him to help shape the parameters so that his program can get a fair shake.  I doubt he will take the offer though, I just thought I would give him the chance he says every other skeptic won’t.

What Will I Do If You’re Right?

This sphere exerts more gravitational pull on her than Jupiter- It also is just as likely to give her useful information about her life...

James, if you win, if Polaris can be seen to fair better than chance at calculating birth times, I will gladly take up your cause.  I will stand behind you 100% on Jason’s site, and I will admit to everyone that astrology is plausible.  I will give Jason and Glendon and Stephanie all the data we gathered together, and defend it as more than mere coincidence, proof that there is SOMETHING to astrology.

I will also post a retraction on my site saying that I was wrong to criticize astrology, outlining all the evidence I collected from our study, and you could link to this post with reckless abandon every time a skeptic questions astrology.

So let’s have a go then.  Let’s put your program to the test.

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Apologetics & Apostasy Pt.4- My Christian Friend Kate Takes Me To Task: Imagination and Deism Edition

Posted on August 5, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Religion, Science |

Note From George: This is part 4 in my series on Apologetics and Apostasy.  It is a bit of a tangent from my other posts on the subject, posted in response to a conversation I have been having with Kate over at her blog.So this post is both part of my series and also a response to her post “In Response To My Atheist Friend“.  Please visit her blog to get the full context of quotes used.

On The Differences Between Lacking Imagination And Worshiping It

From Kate’s original post:

…..the skeptic limits reality to that which he can perceive with his current senses.

The theist, on the other hand, has a broader sense of reality, albeit the aspects of reality which lie below the surface of his sense perception, exist primarily in his imagination.

I have said before that I don’t believe that atheists lack imagination.  The key distinction lies in where we draw the line between our imaginations and our credulity.  It is not a lack of imagination so much as a careful effort scrutinizing what parts of our expansive imaginations can make a leap into our material reality.

I can, and have, imagined the principles behind a perpetual motion machine.  I have on many occasions tried to work through a concept for an energy multiplier.  I do this for fun, knowing full well that this concept could not possibly come to fruition.  Why?

Ray Comfort's lying mouth is the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine we can witness.

Because it is direct conflict with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  Perhaps I might stumble across a new means to reduce voltage loss in my experimentation, but the concept of perpetual motion is off the table save my imaginations of it. (more…)

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Why I Can’t Imagine A Christian Skeptic…

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Personal, Religion, Science |

Note from George:It seems as though many of my normal blog stops are on a brief summer vacation, well deserved I’m sure, leaving me with not too much inspiration for posts this week.  So to pass the time I went to the WordPress home and searched for blog posts on “atheism” and stumbled across this.

I lurked a bit on this blog and must say that although the post in question is more direct and pointed, I envy her use of language even if many of the thoughts are “bad poetry” by a logical standard.  She is definitely worth a lurk or two if you find yourself in a fighting mood.

Can I Imagine A Worse Argument? No….  Did I Just Prove Her Point?

She writes:

In fact, I asked one agnostic friend of mine if there were any fears which might attend his entertainment of just taking a “leap of faith,” and believing a thing without empirical knowledge of that thing.  His number one fear was that he would be “giving up his ability to think critically” if he were to make such a leap of faith.

We like to believe that God is an imagined or invented thing.   There are plenty of postulated reasons for our having imagined or invented him, therefore he must be imagined or invented!

A little known fact: Einstein quotes make everybody sound smarter.

Where does this come from?  Is not every theory, every model, and every practical invention of man rooted first in the imagination—and NOT in reality?  Einstein is famous for equating energy with mass, but he is not unknown for his quote, “Imagination is better than knowledge.”  Whether god is invented by man we know not; but he is most certainly “imagined” by man.  Indeed, man has no other means of approaching such a reality, than through his own imagination.

………….(edited, full comment in original post linked at top)

So, I ask, where is it that we are “giving up our ability to think critically,” when we take that leap of faith?  Aren’t we opening ourselves up more than we ever had before, when we do?

I mean, let’s face it, the skeptic has better arguments.  However, the skeptic limits reality to that which he can perceive with his current senses.

The theist, on the other hand, has a broader sense of reality, albeit the aspects of reality which lie below the surface of his sense perception, exist primarily in his imagination.

 Is imagination limited in the atheist?  Really?  As a theist, are you not equally closing the door to the suggestion that there is no God?  As a Christian (which I believe I am safe to assume the author is based on this), do you not close yourself to the imagining that Krishna, Zeus, Allah, or (insert deity here) is responsible for all you see before you? Am I less imaginative to go one God further than yourself?

I can assure her that I can imagine a world in which God(s) exist.  I will tell you that it bears little to no resemblance to the reality in which I reside.

She is correct in stating that there is more to our lives, our history and our existence then what we can grasp with our mortal fingers.  Science tells us of forgotten pasts, distant places, the incomprehensible realms  of the microscopic and atomic scale.  These are places of magic and mystery.  They are witnessed by a privileged few, but available to all through the endless toil of these intrepid explorers.  Best of all, all this is reality.  It happened and is happening,  a whole reality beyond the scope of our limited human brains.

Einstein did indeed say that “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the entire world.“;  I can assure you that he meant no ill will to reality.  The greatest of scientific discoveries started rightly in the realm of imagination, but we must be sure to separate those things that cannot survive the journey from our mind to reality from those that are dreamed to existence.

To claim that I am limited within the realm of reality is fatuous and near-sighted.

The Million Dollar Question:  Can We At Once Be A Skeptic And A Theist?

I believe that one could rightly be a deist and a skeptic, with no regard for any religious traditions.  I take issue with the claim that you can be a true skeptic and a true christian of any stripe.

Oxymorons- A sign of the times?

There is so much to be skeptical of in the claims of any of our major monotheistic traditions.  The schizophrenic nature of Yaweh and Allah, the blatant plagiarism of the holy books, the lack of any empirical evidence   of a Savior born during an era of good record keeping.  All these facts and countless others must be set aside in a quest to believe the unbelievable.

I too, wanted so hard to believe.  There has always been a part of me that can’t get past the discrepancies, can’t honestly bring myself to imagine a God that doesn’t just leave me without evidence but instead gives evidence to the contrary.  I have given this much thought, I have explored the realm of faith…and I have always found it lacking.

A true skeptic follows the evidence, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult a path it is.  I have trouble imagining a Christian following a truly skeptical path and ending up knocking on Heaven’s door.

But as you said, maybe I just lack imagination…..


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Apologetics and Apostasy Pt. 3- Programming, Parenting & Progress.

Posted on July 23, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Personal, Religion, Science |

Note from the Author: This is part three of my series on Apologetics and Apostasy.  Parts 1 & 2 deal with defining confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and credulity in their respective roles within the religious mind.

There are likely to be those who disagree with the statement that credulity, confirmation bias and/or cognitive dissonance are necessities of the modern religious mind.  I would argue that short of an ambiguous deism, one or more of these afflictions must necessarily be present in order to be a seriously practicing theist in the modern age.

Although we must all admit to cognitive bias, a very specific breed must be present in order to buy in “lock, stock, and barrel” with any of the major world religions.  If you are to believe in the inerrancy of the bible, for example, one has to believe several unimaginable things many of which, if not squarely contrary to modern scientific knowledge, fall short of simple tests of logic.

You must believe in “special creation”- that man was created in more or less his present state by God in the face of anthropological, archaeological, biological and genetic evidence to the contrary.   You must believe that each of these fields are colluding to reinforce the “false claim” of common ancestry.  In essence, you must don your foil hat and join the ranks of the delusional; believing in vast, systemic conspiracies perpetrated with the sole purpose of undermining the authority of your stone age history book.

It is not a position I envy. (more…)

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Daily Horoscope: You’re In A Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Irony in the Title, Personal, Religion, Science |

This will likely be my final post in the impromptu series Daily Horoscope based on our conversations with Jamie Funk and his astrology minions.  It might be resurrected for future discussions about astrology, but after calling the subject a wash over at Funk Astrology, I feel it is time to move on.

I must admit that I am a little underwhelmed by the whole thing.

The closest I came to gleaning anything new was in the  Dealing with Skeptics and Associated Trolls page at Funk Astrology.  There I got some insight into the lack of admitted predictive power in Astrology from Parin, where she corrected my misguided assumption that astrology believes the movement of celestial bodies directly correlates to seemingly unrelated events here on earth.

See, I Had No Idea

I honestly thought this was a good, albeit simplified definition of astrology:

Astrology:  The belief that the movement of celestial bodies has a quantifiable effect on people and/or seemingly unrelated events in people’s lives.

I am forced to walk away with a definition more like:

Astrology:  The belief that you can take any person or event and decipher possibly corollary traits or information in the movement of celestial bodies.  Any information deciphered may or may not be meaningful, impactful, or predictive.

That really leaves me believing that Astrology is no more useful or predictive than a “cold reading” by an astute observer.  Kind of like watching the Mentalist on T.V. where he uses astute observation to figure people out.  That, to me, seems a glorified parlour game, a fun round of friends “predicting” things about each other based on known or observable behavior.   Except these people stick a “Supernatural” label on it and charge money for their insight.

By these peoples own definitions, astrology is just guesswork and subjective extrapolation from known quantities.  It is not special.  It is not magic.  It is fun and games, and expensive at that.

A Glimmer of Hope Becomes A Ridiculous Joke

I also had a moment over at Jamie’s blog where I thought we were on to something.  A poster named James mentioned Polaris, a computer program that he described as being indisputably predictive in calculating birth times.   I should have caught on when the process was referred to as “rectification”, but the temptation of a program that was testable and falsifiable blinded me to its obvious flaw.

The process is called “rectification”, I know now, because it uses your built in confirmation bias to re-jig your birthtime based on past events in your life.  The idea is this:

Subject A either has no registered or confirmable birth time or feels that his/her birth time was miscalculated by timepieces at the time of their birth.

With the foreknowledge that astrology is more accurate at calculating birth times then, say, a clock or watch which was invented solely for the purpose of time keeping; Subject A gives a list of significant events from their lives and a list of probable birth times and Polaris extracts the most likely one based on a points system.

How eminently scientific!  I can still see how this program could be used to disprove itself though.

Let’s say someone bought the program, gathered birth time information on several individuals using clocks that are accurate to the millisecond, witnessing and documenting firsthand the indisputable birth times.  Wait say, 20 years and input events from those individuals lives and a wide range of birth times and voila, the indisputable birth time must surely emerge!

Not Fair?

I’d like to know why, without any confirmation bias “that was the time they were supposed to be born” bullshit that I can hear already spewing from the credulous assholes mouth.

I’ve already proposed how to use this program in a less scientific way to at least lend weight to it’s credibility.  I’m still open to takers.

Hi-jacking Science For Stupid’s Sake

The final comment in Jamie’s post at the time of this post was also cross posted at Lousy Canuck by “Chris”.  It is a tempting idea for astrologers, and one that is inevitability quite wrong.

I approach Astrology as an art in that I use it to “paint” a picture of a person, place or time. Some say that Astrology mirrors rather than predicts. Astrological forecasting is somewhat like meteorological forecasting- they look at jet streams and air currents and put it all together to give you their interpretation of the most likely outcome. Sometimes they’re wrong. They are as much of an artist as we are. As astrologers, we look at planets, stars, moons, (and a lot of astrologers use the transneptunian objects as well) etc. and notice unfolding patterns, and then give our interpretation. I think that eventually, with the study of fractals and chaos theory, scientists will be able to conclude that Astrology can be explained through the paradigms of those scientific standards. We don’t move around in space, we’re part of it. Everything has its own energy, and makes more of a difference than you think it does.

How do I know this is wrong?

Apart from the first paragraph which basically underlines my first point about astrology being nothing more than “guessology”, Chris goes on to co-opt some of the most counterintuitive and confounding subjects in physics and mathematics to lend magic where none exists.  To a layperson, conjuring chaos theory and fractals is just like conjuring magic, a surefire way to obfuscate a bunch of superstitious hooey under the cover of science.

If you believe that science will save Astrology,I can tell you it won’t happen.

  • Did science confirm the theory of a creator?  Well, no.
  • Did science confirm a flat earth?
  • A firmament?
  • How about a global flood?

You see, every time an ancient civilization desperately searches for a causal explanation for something they have no answer for…….. a myth is born.

To believe that this one time, ancient civilizations were on to something when every other causal agent they conjured of curiosity and imagination has been so squarely proven false; that is confirmation bias…that is credulity.

I still leave the offer open to anyone who wants to have a reasoned discussion, I just hold little hope of reason.

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The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense

Posted on July 19, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Humour, Personal, Religion, Science |

Via Knowledge Begetting Confidence, origin: Science, Reason, and Critical Thinking

Priceless-and available as a t-shirt!

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