Thursday, December 31, 2015

Once Upon a Time: Re-Thinking the Fight Against Extremists | Tina Dupuy | eSkeptic

eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

What does it mean to be radicalized? In a rare Oval Office address in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, President Barack Obama described the killers as having “gone down the dark path of radicalization.” It used to be extremists. We were fighting extremists in the equally nebulous War on Terror. Then someone found a thesaurus and now we’re battling radicalization. “[It] is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization,” urged Obama. What are these ideas exactly?

Every group of radicals nee extremists—from ISIS to the Klan to the House GOP’s Freedom Caucus—all have the same lure: Today is chaotic, unpredictable and worse than it was, so we must return to a time when things were better. A well-proven formula for radicalization is to take the disorientated, disenfranchised and disappointed; add a universal yarn about the Good Ol’ Days and stir.

Let’s examine some backward reasoning about the past: “Back to basics,” you’ll hear. Back to the values of the founders! Original intent! Back to the peacefulness of ancient times. Back to the core of the Koran. Back to the tranquility of our ancestors! Paleo diet, anyone? Fundamentalists use this concept in their own moniker; they’re going back to fundamentals. Even New Agers peddle this idea. The site SacredEarth.com says, “Once upon a time—not too long ago, the ancient craft of midwifery and the art of herbal healing were intimately linked.” Yeah sure, back in the good old days when women had a 50/50 chance of dying during childbirth. Just a quick Google search of “alternative medicine” will land you in a sea of alternate history. As one site touting amber as a pain reliever puts it, “For many centuries since time began, people have used nature’s bounty for traditional medicine.”

Once, I went to the Brooklyn Flea Market and there was a ratty chair kept together by electrical tape. The price tag was a whopping $250! When I asked the seller if that was a typo, he responded “No,” shocked by the question. “It’s old.” Which is essentially what alternative medicine is saying. “Back when people only lived to 35, they knew better than us!” […]

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Contemplation Hour Podcast 2


itunes pic

One of my high school chums just started a podcast, and I was honored to be one of his first guests on The Contemplation Hour. In this episode Sean and I discussed my music, my band, In Autumn, my influences, my progression from religion to atheism, my philosophy, my activism, and my work for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.

You can download this episode straight from the site, and it will soon be available on itunes. Please make sure you follow the The Contemplation Hour Podcast and subscribe. Enjoy!



Monday, December 7, 2015

The Cold Swift Blow of Logic & The Shadow of Sensationalized Terror - Why We Should Not Live In Fear

My heart quickens to fear lately. The terror of radical Islam has felt a little too near after the massacre in Paris, but San Bernardino literally hit too close to home. It seems more frequent than ever. While driving home from a wonderful birthday celebration with friends, I was shocked when my wife received a message from her father that read that he was shopping at Tyler Mall in Riverside, and there was a mass shooting occurring, and everyone was in a state of panic. False alarm. It was just an armed robbery, but still, you can't blame anyone for feeling jumpy. In fact, a coworker of  mine told me that she was considering getting a gun, and I can't say that I blame her. But, should we really live in terror? This is a serious crisis, but do we truly need to worry?

No. When it comes to terrorism, the cold, swift blow of logic reveals to us that you are SIXTEEN times more likely to die from the flu. Furthermore, you are three times as likely to kill yourself than you are to die by someone else's gun.

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

  • Heart disease: 611,105
  • Cancer: 584,881
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
  • Alzheimer's disease: 84,767
  • Diabetes: 75,578
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

I do not intend to trivialize these incidents. I am certainly sensitive to how horrific and barbaric these occurrences are. However, even if you fail to count them all, our day-to-day lives include a substantial number of calculated risks. Some of these risks are so likely to cause our eventual demise that they utterly fail to be newsworthy. Though news outlets rake in record-high ratings by sensationalizing acts of terror, humans are pattern-seeking animals, and we are especially equipped at detecting extraordinary phenomena that interrupt the typical routine.

What can we do, confine ourselves to empty islands? Even then, sea-level-rise will likely wash you away. No. Life must go on. Liberty will endure. As for me, if I have learned anything, it is that I must cherish each blessed moment of my existence, and the beautiful individuals I am fortunate enough to share it with. However, I will also constantly strive to be consciously aware of the harsh reality of death and it's ever-looming shadow, and frankly, it should not take the woeful barbarism of religious extremists to bring this truth to life.

Friday, December 4, 2015

12-3-15 "Do Something About Climate Change" @ Riverside ArtWalk / Festival of Lights | In Autumn

We were downtown last night, down on the corner at the Riverside ArtWalk / Festival of Lights, jamming our Folk songs and provoking our brothers and sisters to DO SOMETHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

Posted by In Autumn on Friday, December 4, 2015

12/4/15 - Riverside Folk & Rock Showcase | In Autumn

Consilience and Consensus - Or why climate skeptics are wrong | Michael Shermer | Scientific American

Scientific American

At some point in the history of all scientific theories, only a minority of scientists—or even just one—supported them, before evidence accumulated to the point of general acceptance. The Copernican model, germ theory, the vaccination principle, evolutionary theory, plate tectonics and the big bang theory were all once heretical ideas that became consensus science. How did this happen?

An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction. “Accordingly the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together,” he wrote in his 1840 book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, “belong only to the best established theories which the history of science contains.” Call it a “convergence of evidence.”

Consensus science is a phrase often heard today in conjunction with anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Is there a consensus on AGW? There is. The tens of thousands of scientists who belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and, most notably, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all concur that AGW is in fact real. Why? (Continue reading...)