Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

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Critique of “Science and Design”

September 16, 2013

I was in a civil debate with a friend, and he wanted me to take a look at the article Science and Design, written by William A. Dembski of the Discovery Institute.  Rather than do a quick review with him, I decided to do a better critique here on my blog.

Understand that I am going to especially focus on scientific accuracy.  That’s my “thing”.  It is a pet peeve of mine when religious people (of any faith) make scientific claims that are not supported by the evidence.   With regard to scientific stuff, I will hold no punches.  Deal with it.

When the quantum physics of Bohr and Heisenberg in turn displaced the physics of Galileo and Newton, scientists realized they needed to supplement their deterministic natural laws by taking into account chance processes in their explanations of our universe.

Right out of the gate, Dembski makes a fundamental error in his understanding of science.  Newtonian physics (and Galileo too) was not “displaced”.  As with most scientific theories, the theories were expanded upon or improved on.  We still teach Newtonian Physics in school because it is useful.   This is a minor point, and I am being a bit pedantic in pointing it out, but his misunderstanding about science is common and needs to be mentioned. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Hypocrisy, Drunk Driving, and Gun Control

December 16, 2012

Disclaimer:  The point of this article is not to argue for or against gun control.  The point is to illuminate inconsistencies in the way humans think, and to make you stop and think about your own thought processes.

In the United States in 2007 there were 12,632 homicides with a  firearm.  This does not include firearm related suicides (another 17,352).   Accurate statistics of gun ownership is not available, but most estimates are around 200-250 million legally owned firearms in the U.S.  Also in the U.S. during 2007 there were 247 million registered automobiles, and 13,041 fatalities from drunk driving.   In 2006 there were 22,073 alcohol related deaths (I assume this includes deaths from DUI).

For our purposes today, the homicide rates from firearms and guns/DUI is identical.  Of course they are not perfectly identical, and they flip flop on which has more depending on the year.  But the numbers are close enough for this discussion, as absolute accuracy is not required.

Every life is precious.  Every life has untold value left untapped.  The loss of every life has a ripple effect on family, the community, and society.  So why do we not treat fatalities from DUI the same value that we treat fatalities from mass shootings? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Guns, Statistics, and Reporting Bias

May 25, 2012

Let me start this post with a little disclaimer.  This post is not about gun control.  It’s not pro or anti-gun.  It is about authors who write bad articles.  Articles where the facts are reported in a misleading way– intentionally or not.  This is irresponsible and has fostered a lot of incorrect assumptions about our society and has influenced the creation of worthless laws.  This post could be about almost anything:  climate change, health care, renewable energy, etc.  But I choose to use guns as an example– so you’ll have to just deal with it.

A recent Huffington Post article proclaimed:  Gun Deaths Exceed Motor Vehicle Deaths in 10 Cities.  The article quotes some numbers from a recent study and then goes on to make some interesting statements, including:

  • …gun deaths continue unabated — the direct result of the failure of policymakers to acknowledge and act on this ubiquitous and too often ignored public health problem.
  • And while the health and safety regulation of motor vehicles stands as a public health success story, firearms remain literally the last consumer product manufactured in the United States not subject to federal health and safety regulation.
  • Comprehensive regulation of the firearms industry and its products could include: minimum safety standards (i.e., specific design standards and the requirement of safety devices); bans on certain types of firearms such as “junk guns” and military-style assault weapons; limits on firepower; restrictions on gun possession by those convicted of a violent misdemeanor; heightened restrictions on the carrying of loaded guns in public; improved enforcement of current laws restricting gun possession by persons with histories of domestic violence; more detailed and timely data collection on gun production, sales, use in crime, involvement in injury and death; and, public education about the extreme risks associated with exposure to firearms.

The general idea of the article is that somehow we can reduce the loss of life through gun laws and regulation.  Before we get into this, let’s look at the statistics.   Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Amazing Ribbon Wave

December 18, 2011

Announcing the new, amazing Ribbon Wave!  Years of audio research and advanced entomological farming have culminated in what is arguably the most stunning advancement in audiophile technology.  The Ribbon Wave is, simply put, perfection in a silk ribbon that when wrapped around your cables will produce audio that has to be heard to be believed.

Ribbon Wave

We started by using selective breeding (no genetic modification here!) to produce Bombyx Audiophillia, a new species of silkworm bred for the sole purpose of making our Ribbon Wave.  The silk produced by B. Audiophillia can remove digital artifacts, unpleasant harmonics, and other irritating effects that modern technology does to our pristine audio.  This silk is woven into ribbons, which can be wound around cables and other audio devices to a dramatic effect. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A Pragmatic Approach To Jitter In Digital Audio

October 27, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I went to an audiophile trade show (the Rocky Mountain Audiofest).  It was interesting to note that a lot of the exhibitors and participants there were clueless about a great many things.  This article is about one of those things:  Jitter.  After talking with many people there I have come to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of audiophiles have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to jitter.  Doing a google search for audiophile and jitter also bears that out by showing that no two audiophiles agree on what jitter sounds like!  Jitter is difficult to measure, difficult to quantify, and is very technical.  It should be no great surprise that this is fertile ground for misinformation, misunderstanding, and fraud.  This article will try to put a dose of reality and perspective on the issue of jitter. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Quote Mining and the Bible

September 4, 2011

It always frustrates me when people take a quote out of context in order to make their point seem more valid.  The popular term for this is called “Quote Mining”.  Everybody does this to some extent, but some bring it to a deceitful level– possibly a criminal level.   There are countless examples of this including, but not limited to, the current presidential campaign speeches, the news media, young earth creationists, global warming deniers, etc.  When taken to the illogical extreme, quote mining can produce some very compelling quotes.  For example:

“There is no God” — Psalm 14:1

Of course, when put into context that passage really says:

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ” — Psalm 14:1

Of course, quote mining is most successful when applied to a large body of text that is difficult to interpret, has been translated from different languages, and is old.  Especially a text where people are reluctant to read it themselves.  I am, of course, referring to the Bible.  Although other texts are not immune to it as well.  The works of Nostradamus are very fertile soil for quote mining!

So the question I had was, “How easy is it to quote mine the bible?”  I decided to try an experiment.  I asked my friends on Facebook for some statements that were obviously false.  I didn’t tell them why I wanted the statements.  Once I got some, I picked one out and attempted to justify it using scripture from the Bible.  What follows is a complete work of fiction.  It is made up, using quote mining and other techniques to make sense out of an irrational position.  Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Birth Control and the Bible

August 3, 2011

I hate it when people claim to be rational about things but are not.  I also hate it when people blindly believe in things which are obviously wrong.  Naturally, this brings me to the Catholic Church!  Catholics denounce the use of birth control, claiming that the bible is against it.  This is a great area to apply some logic and reasoning, so here goes.

My sources for this blog post come from the following web pages:

It’s History, Dummy

One argument for the banning of birth control is historical.  That, somehow, because that’s the way it’s always been that’s the way it should be.  Of course, that’s complete hogwash.  Just because we used the horse and buggy for hundreds or thousands of years does not mean that automobiles are a terrible idea.  Just because we used cotton and linen in our history doesn’t mean that rayon should be banned.

This logical fallacy is an “appeal to tradition“. Read the rest of this entry ?