Thursday, January 29, 2009

The psychology of cooling

Certain people (you know who you are) have a weird approach to heating and cooling their homes.

On a cold day, they'll heat the room to, let's say, 21 degrees; then on a hot day, they'll cool the room to 16 degrees.

I don't get it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A new definition for the soul is required

A question for the spiritual people out there. What is the soul?

Before you answer please be aware of this -

We know that the mind is what the brain does. Our personalities which are mainly herditary are managed in the brain. Our memories are stored in the brain. We know that brain damage can effect personality, memory and IQ. We can say now with confidence that the brain does not require anything more than what we can measure for it to work (or not work).

We also know that the terms 'energy' and 'force' are quantifiable and measurable terms in science. We know that the soul is not something that can be measured or tested in any way and therefore those terms are not appropriate to use.

Given all these things, where does the soul sit? What does it do? Given it is not required by our brains to function and make us who we are, what is the definition of a soul? Where is the new gap it fits now that we have filled so many previous gaps with knowledge?

We so want to fill our lives with magic and wonder that we make up these terms which are simple and comforting to help explain what we dont know. But when we do this we miss the real mystery, the real magic.......... our brains.

You know what you believe, why not find out what the experts who actually study this stuff know.

Here are some recommended readings and listenings -
The Brain Science Podcast
Genome & Nature Via Nurture by Matt Ridley
How The Mind Works & The Blank Slate by Stephen Pinker
The Mechanism Of Mind by Edward de Bono

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where do we get our morals from?

I will get to that soon. But this first.

It is a true joy to know that as a father I will be able to ensure my child can grow up unencumbered by dogma. I didn't find religion until my early teens so I went through those precious early years minus the brainwashing. Perhaps this is the reason I was prepared to question what I was being told, particularly at the Christian camp I attended twice a year. Mill Valley Ranch (which still runs today) was devastatingly successful at turning heathens into good Christian soldiers. It was very appealing to an impressionable and confused kid with divorced parents and steps entering the scene. And while the experience was only positive for me at the time it never quite satisfied me. I have always been inquisitive (a trait that so many secularists seem to share) and would ask myself and others a lot of questions that rarely got answered. And even from a young age I could tell when an answer was well rehearsed. 

And so I moved on to other areas of spirituality. But that's for another day.

Instead I will close this anti-sermon with a counter punch. Traditions such as family time, community celebrations and games, breaking bread, joining together to help someone less fortunate, working together towards a common goal. All these wonderful facets to humanity were here long before religion and will be with us as long as we survive as a species. They are inherent traits built in us all. They do not have to be nurtured each generation because they are already written into the true book of life, our DNA. So the next time someone asks you where do you get your morals from, tell them the answer is within. Wink wink. 

What a disturbing species we can be.

No this is not a photo of a drowning child being saved by passers by.

This disturbing photo is of a boy (wrongly captioned as Russian Orthodox, how can a child possibly choose a religion?) being plunged into freezing waters in celebration of the Epiphany holiday in St. Petersburg. It is difficult looking at this poor child's face. His parents might understand the tradition but to this child it would be a traumatic and frightening assault.

I find it difficult to comprehend how this child's parents can view this as a positive action. It is one of the many deplorable ways that religion enslaves minds, even surpassing out natural instincts of protecting our children from harm.

Indoctrinating children makes it proof positive that religion is a man made tradition that is mostly maintained by coercion and fear. Fear of hell and fear of being shunned by family and the community if they dare to think for themselves.

Epiphany is a Christian feast day which celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus by dumping stupid people in cold water.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show

I saw episode one some time ago and in the intervening time its popularity has soared. Here is episode 2 - 'Chief Itchy Balls' for your enjoyment. Dont forget to see episode 1 - 'Lick Poop'.