A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.
– David Stephens
I was listening to the new Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast last Saturday and near the end of the episode, host Steven Novella dropped a bombshell of a Christmas present. Steve informed us he had been working with The Teaching Company to make a lecture series on Medical Myths. I’m a big fan of The Teaching Company and the fine educational products they produce. Coupling that with my favorite skeptic on the planet AND producing a series with him on “the growing body of misinformation” that proliferates among the public discourse.
“You can’t assume that what you’ve always heard must be true simply because many other people believe it and spread it around,” notes Dr. Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine, a medical doctor who has built his career educating patients, the public, students, and professionals about the highest standards in medical science and practice. “You should challenge all of your beliefs and, wherever possible, try to rely upon a consensus of authority or primary sources in order to check out everything that you think you know to be true.”
Popular and easily accessible sources such as websites, blogs, advocacy groups, marketing materials, and celebrity endorsements are where we often get quick medical information. But they’re also the most unreliable sources.
Dr. Novella also opens your eyes to myths about pregnancy, loss of consciousness, detoxification, and the placebo effect. In one lecture toward the end of the course, he even takes you on a brief tour of common medical myths from around the world to demonstrate that medical myths vary, but misinformation is universal.
Every week Dr. Novella and his crew of ‘Rogues’ tackle the serious and the hilarious with wit and steadfast sincerity and a passion for a skeptical and critical approach to understanding the universe. They truly are a weekly escape to reality.
The Teaching Company provides very high quality, college level lecture courses on a variety of disciplines and specialized areas of education.
Combining these two elements into a single lecture series is a wonderful Christmas present for me and anyone else who happens to pick this up. Maybe there’s a God after all… or a great company recognized a great educator, got together and did what they do best. Which one do you think is more probable?
Julia Sweeney’s one-woman show, Letting Go of God, is one of the most inspiring monologues I’ve ever heard. A brutally honest recollection of her path from superstition to reason.
From the poster of Virgo on her wall to the copy of ‘Origin of Species’ on the deck of a Galapagos cruise-boat to her pair of ‘No God’ glasses, Julia bears her heart, mind, body and yes (dare I say it) soul to tell us the story of how she slowly came to realize there was no God.
Considering this is the second time I’ve posted about this amazing performance, I honestly can’t recommend this show enough. Julia is funny and inspiring, all the while, presenting deep and thought-provoking content.
I’ve given Matt Smith a full season to woo me over but sadly, he’s just not doing it for me. Therefore, I hereby state… Now and forever after… David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, is MY Doctor.
Now, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for a while. I have fond memories of watching Tom Baker era episodes during family dinner & I quite like the Peter Davison era as well. I missed initially when the series returned but caught up pretty quickly a few of years ago and have been loving the ride ever since. I liked Christopher Eccleston fairly quickly with his big grinned humor just barely concealing a starch seriousness and pain of recent losses. When the first season came to a close and all we got from Tennant was,
“Hmm, new teeth. That’s weird. Now where was I? Oh yeah, Barcelona!”
… I wasn’t really sure. But then came four seasons of the absolute best television I’ve ever watched. Tennant’s Doctor immediately embodied every humanistic value and idea I hold dear. He approached every situation with compassion, curiosity and reason with a skeptical mind seeking for and usually finding the natural explanation. He engendered the best of humanity in those he met and left them all better people. (Even Jackie)
Tennant’s Doctor also had a dense pain hidden on his face that could come out at any moment in a way that made you realize he’d been holding it back for far too long. He carried a burden but never let it get in his way of doing what he thought had to be done for the good of the universe.
There’s always the possibility that Matt Smith or some future Doctor could swoop in and steal the crown… but I’m highly skeptical. Well, I say skeptical, I mean doubtful. Well, pretty impossible actually, now that I think about it…. anyways… Oh, look at that… That is beautiful!
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite speakers. The amount of passion he puts into his work in inspiration enough… then you actually listen to what he’s got to say. Here, Tyson speaks out about why NASA and space funding/research is so important to America’s future.
Via: Bad Astronomy Blog
Sam Harris argues that science can — and should — have something to say about the great moral questions.
Sam Harris is such a great speaker. I love listening to his lectures. He always makes me think about things in a new light. There are many great points made here.
“How have we convinced ourselves that every culture has a point of view on these subjects that is worth considering? Does the Taliban have a point of view on physics that is worth considering? No. How is their ignorance any less obvious on the subject of human well being?”
I don’t have as much a problem with the commercial imagery of women as Sam does though. Partly because I enjoy the imagery but mostly because I think the U.S. is a little too sexually repressed as it is and, even though it’s mostly accessed through commercial media, I think the desensitization will help in the long run. Every generation is a little more open than the last and won’t be shocked and awed by the same imagery as their parents. The bulk of the media targets the youth and many others just follow suit.
Via: TED Talks
The NCSE has created a new site, Don’t Diss Darwin, to combat Ray Comfort’s mutilated copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species to be given away at “100 top universities” in the US (19 18, Nov. 2009) and Canada (24, Nov. 2009).
I thought someone should do the same thing to some of Comfort’s books, but if you added an introduction and cut all the nonsense out, you’d be left with nothing but the introduction.
They laugh now, but within 10 years the city’s entire criminal class will have quit to work on space research.
I didn’t post anything for Carl Sagan Day or his birthday. I’ve been a little busy lately with a couple of projects. XKCD does a great job as usual. It makes me wonder how many would-have-been criminals are actually working on space research because of Carl Sagan’s amazing influence.