Tag Archives: science

Psychology Behind Public Disdain For Science

Ever wonder why people don’t seem to trust things like scientific evidence? Facts? Consensus?

I have, especially when it comes to things like vaccines, medicine, and the rest of the world around us it seems.  I stumbled upon a very interesting little tidbit packed so full of cool info, you’ll need a brain massage.  It tries to make sense of why people tend to believe themselves correct even though they aren’t really qualified to do so.

While psychology has always been a topic that fascinated me, I admit I am no expert on the field.  I found this very interesting, and I daresay helped me find a new perspective.

Give this a read!  Let me know what you think!

http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-gap-between-public-and-scientific-opinion/

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Rant in Response to The Honest Liar’s “Homeopathy: Money for Nothing”

Today was just that sort of day where A) I had the energy to get enraged enough to rant and write and B) I happened to find an easy target.  Homeopathy.

Fair? No.

Do I feel better? A little bit.

Here goes.

Here’s the clip which inspired such a passionate response:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-FwdACE2ZY&feature=youtu.be
Soooo you’re buying a bottle of diluted nothing for big money, but the guys who spend millions researching actual medicines (which actually work) are the crooks? Right.

If homeopathy is your way, I would suggest you let go of your delusions and placebos and replace it with PROVEN, science based medicine rather than trying to buy into an ancient crock of you-know-what. How can I say it’s a crock? I can say that with confidence due to the utter lack of proof when it comes to these “treatments” having any efficacy at all. Treating with nothing does exactly that – NOTHING. And that is precisely what homeopathy is – a whole bottle full of nothing. I know, modern medicines are awful! They treat things and make people feel better and stuff… Let’s go the “all natural” way and treat things like they used to in the bronze age. Here’s a little fact – there’s a reason people only lived into their 30’s back then and I think you can guess what that reason is.

I don’t know when the idea came about that science and medicine are awful things. Wanna know what’s awful? Disease. And worse yet – watching a loved one die of said disease. But somehow the guys doing all of the research into life-saving and life-improving medicine are the guys that you need to flip the proverbial bird to because they’re the evil ones?

How about the scam artists pretending to be doctors, selling you “medicines” that actually aren’t medicines at all? Those guys will charge you an arm and a leg for a product diluted to the point of having no trace of the original (ineffective) ingredient, but the PHARMA companies are the scam artists?

Seems legit.

Nobody’s perfect but the ones who claim to be so are the worst.

Overweight Cats & Why Owners Should Stop Being Offended

Owners of overweight cats need to hear this, and hear it without any type of sugar coating or euphemisms.  When I tell you your cat is overweight, it’s because your cat is overweight.  I’m not calling you fat, I am not picking on you, and I am not saying you are a bad person.

I can’t stress this enough – it’s not about you.  When I make a recommendation for your cat to lose weight, it is only because of the high number of risks associated with overweight cats, much the same as for a human.  It’s also because your cat is far too heavy.

People hear these risks so often that I think they’ve become desensitized to it, and therefore complacent when it comes to actually changing it.  Even if it may not be something that you take into account for your own daily life, at least do your cat the courtesy of helping them. They depend solely on you for it. A cat doesn’t understand the risks and complications of obesity so it is up to you as their sole caregiver to help them lead a happier, healthier life.

From: http://charlotte-harris.net

How can you tell if your cat is overweight?  Look at his head.  If it looks tiny in proportion to his body, your cat is too fat.  If your cat is over seven kilograms (ish), chances are they are overweight.  If your cat can’t lick it’s own ass, it’s too fat.   If any of these things apply, you need to take a good look at the way you’re feeding.  What may seem like a miniscule amount of food to us can actually be a normal meal for your feline.

It seems that people think that treats and a buffet of food is the key to keeping a kitty healthy and happy.  Oh look how cute he is, meowing because he wants more food.  Oh look, I’m feeling sad so I am going to get some love from my cat by feeding it some more treats.  This is not OK.  If you do these things even though it is making your cat rotund, then you should re-think being a cat owner.

You are not making their lives better by giving them all of the food and treats they want – you are contributing to a poor quality of life.  You are shortening that life, and making what they have left of it more and more uncomfortable with each pound they gain.  Outward signs that your cat may be uncomfortable or feeling effects of obesity are:

  • Panting (this is NOT normal for a cat and indicates distress)
  • Unwillingness to climb or jump
  • Inability to groom properly causing scalding around hind end
  • Itchy, scaly skin
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Inappropriate urination

By inappropriate urination, I mean urinating or defecating outside of the litterbox.  Maybe he just can’t fit, or maybe he’s trying to tell you something.  A common misconception I hear of on a constant basis is that urinating outside the litter box happens because the cat is unhappy with you, the owner.  This is silly and you need to stop thinking this way.  While it may seem like they have the capacity for vindication sometimes, this is false.  Inappropriate urination is understood to be a behaviour indicative of stress or urinary tract disease.  Don’t believe me? Here’s a University who has also said it:

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_resources/brochure_housesoiling.cfm

Something in your cat’s world, be it a new person, thing, or even renovations, can trigger these behaviours and getting to the bottom of which one it is can help.  It is heartbreaking to see cats being brought in for euthanasia for something like this because the majority of cases can be helped with a little guidance from the vet and effort from the owner.  If you have a situation like this, please ask your veterinarian for information first.

http://www.petobesityprevention.org

People need to realize that what you may think is a good weight for cats is actually much too high.  It seems like it has become a social norm to have a chunky cat at home.  If your cat doesn’t have a defined waist or it takes more than a light touch to feel ribs – your cat is too fat.  Here’s a little comparison to help this sink in – 1 pound gained on a cat is like 15 pounds on an average adult woman.  Click here for the full chart.

Injecting your cat after every meal probably doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, does it?  Approximately 0.5% of cats will develop the disease due to obesity. This puts the numbers IN THE MILLIONS.  I don’t think it’s fair to these animals to feed them the way people do.  Let’s face it, there’s probably a solution and the onus needs to be put back on the owner to seek it out and make change.  Your cat is not mad at you, not getting back at you because you left, your cat is stressed.  It is your job to help.

Here’s more information on feline diabetes: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_resources/brochure_diabetes.cfm

See the bottom of this post for websites with statistics.

From: http://blog.petflow.com

http://www.canadianveterinarians.net/

http://www.petobesityprevention.org/

 

Feel free to shoot me an email with questions.

I Reserve The Right To Question

I was recently inspired by a discussion on Youtube by Dawkins and Krauss.  I have to say that it was one of the most enlightening and moving discussions I have ever heard so far, and I admire them both for their courage to be up there talking with such conviction in front of thousands of people who may or may not agree with them.  It was a discussion with so many wonderful points made and eye-opening facts that my brain didn’t quite know what to do with itself.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ll put a link to it at the end of this post.

The discussion was titled “Something From Nothing”.  I know the topic can create some heat, but the title is not the subject that I aim to write about today.  Something else came up in their dialogue that I think is a wonderful, truthful point that I wish more people would understand and have the courage to do in their daily lives: utilizing their right to question beliefs.  Any beliefs.  I am not pointing the finger at Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism.  I mean any beliefs on the face of our planet Earth.  I strongly feel that if you are going around saying “I am a Christian” or “I follow ‘x’ set of beliefs” then it should be no problem for you to explain those beliefs and be able to back up why you believe those things.

I am sick of hearing people argue for their faith without actually answering direct questions about it.  One question I pose often to Christians is whether or not they truly believe all of the “miraculous” stories in the bible.  I want to know if they take that, like everything else in the bible, as fact.  Infuriatingly, in most instances all that happens is huffing, puffing and avoiding the questions because they’re so offended by the asking of the question itself.

If you are going to label yourself as one thing or another, nobody has the right to feel offended just because someone is questioning the things you stand for.  If you can answer in a rational and logical way, good for you.  Perhaps the person asking will learn something or find a new perspective on the topic.  If you can’t, I think you need to take a serious look at your beliefs and what exactly you stand for.  To me, it is impossible for your beliefs or yourself to be taken seriously at that point.  If you feel strongly about something, there must be a reason, and if that reason is simply “that’s your belief” – that’s just plain not good enough.  Be an adult Just because it is your “personal belief” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be accountable for it.

For instance, I believe in animal welfare.  I work every day to make the lives of the animals in my care better.  Why do I believe this?  Because it is fundamentally and morally wrong to neglect or abuse other creatures who depend on us for their basic needs.  The Golden Rule is one to be followed, and I would challenge anyone to argue that.

Politicians will often use their religious beliefs in their political platform, and Krauss talked about this in the video. I believe he made a great point in saying that perhaps it is alright for that politician to have those personal beliefs, but the second he uses it on his political platform he is fair game for the media or whoever to question them.  If you want to put those beliefs in the public eye and use them to your advantage, it is not wrong for someone to question them and being offended at that point is incredibly hypocritical.

Dawkins had a slightly different opinion.  He was of the mind that any personal belief is open for discussion or questioning, regardless of it being in the public eye or not.  I can see where he is coming from here as well because even on my little blog, I feel a strong need to defend or rationalize my thoughts to anyone who questions or argues against them.  If I have a belief, I should be able to back it up and state why I think that way.

The beautiful part about the discussion between these two men is that even when they disagree, they can do so in such a civilized, respectful manner that it’s quite refreshing to watch.  They both discuss why they believe each point, and can have a lively and engaging debate without the flinging of mud or bruised egos that so often come with debates on controversial topics.  I think it’s disgusting that there a certain religions, and I won’t pick on one, that people are afraid to talk about for fear of physical or verbal retribution. Blindly following anything with no room for inquiry or advancement is not something I consider appealing and I have a hard time understanding why it’s desirable.

Always remember:  just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.

A question posed by an audience member also really got me thinking and I am glad he was able to say this: if as many people watched this two hour video as watched the Super Bowl, the world would be a better place.  If you watched the video, I think you would also agree.  See for yourself by clicking here I would love to hear what anyone reading this thinks of the video as well.  Please feel free to comment or email with your thoughts!

 

Why is Faith Good?

You were warned in my tagline.

The inspiration for many of my beliefs, my idol of sorts, Christopher Hitchens, posed this question in many of his debates:

Why is faith good?

It’s one that I think is a fair and justified question, and one that we ought to ask ourselves. I think there are a lot of people who take all of religion on faith, thinking this will earn them bonus points when they die and get judged by how blindly faithful they were.

This is a sinister concept and an utter slap in the face to our freedom of thought.   Just because we are a chromosome away from a chimp doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be utilizing the powers of reason and investigation that evolution has bred into us.  What if we ran the rest of our lives like this? What if we demanded the same standard of evidence for our medicines, our healthcare, or our schooling?  We would still be teaching that sickness is a curse for behaving badly or burning people for being witches.  You want to run your life based on something you’re told or something you’ve read in an ancient book wherein it is blasphemy to question or doubt it under pain of going to hell? You can have it, but be accountable for what you believe, and don’t expect to go into a debate with the argument of pure faith and not to be laughed off.

I like to think that I live my life and make my decisions as a result of previous study and weighing of evidence from either side. I believe it’s very important to get as much information as you possibly can as I strongly believe you can never be too informed.  I usually take a relatively long time to reach a decision about something.  I am largely indecisive so that contributes as well, but I also like to look at each side and take time to weigh my options and information.  Once I have gathered this information and have come to a decision, it can be difficult to convince me otherwise unless I am given substantial evidence to the contrary.

For me to believe in something that cannot be proven, that cannot be measured or quantified, is alien and, to me, no way to base important opinions and decisions on. However, it is impossible for religion to be proven, so I guess that lessens my chances of believing even further.

One cannot disprove the existence of god in any reasonable or scientific way any more than one can prove it in this manner. The way I see it, even though I can’t prove god doesn’t exist, the impossibility of it being proven that it does by any scientific means is enough for me.   I don’t need it.  I don’t need to believe in heaven or hell, or that if I am really good I am going to go to a place that is all sunshine, lollipops, and other such bullshit.  On the flip side, if I do something negative or “evil”, I am not going to rot or burn in the depths of some fiery underground place of evil.  Perhaps if you metaphorically meant my conscience, but not everyone seems to own one of those.  I believe that if I am a good person, if I do good things, and continue on my quest for continual self-improvement, that I will just continue to be.  I will continue to be, and I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I have done a good thing, and made another life better or easier or whatever the case may be.  That is enough for me.  I don’t need unfounded promises about what’s going to happen after I die.  Like Bill Maher said, “…and anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die; I promise you, you don’t.  How can I be so sure?  Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.  The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.  Doubt is humble and that’s what man needs to be considering that human history is just a litany getting shit dead wrong”

It’s easy to claim that you know what happens in the after life because let’s be honest – who is going to prove you wrong?  Anyone who doesn’t like to question or reason will just go along with it because what else are they going to believe?  The fact that we sit in the ground and rot isn’t romantic enough, I guess. Let’s follow these rules just in case there is in fact something on the other side waiting to punish me.  People will do all kinds of silly things to avoid such punishment as they believe they’ll find in the afterlife.  Let me tell you, your brain is the instrument through which you feel everything.  Pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, etc.  When you die, your brain does not function anymore.  You brain will decompose.  Logically, then, how is one to feel either the rapture of heaven or the eternal misery of hell without the brain the interpret this?

From: http://slothyscience.blogspot.ca/

This is where the freedom of thought bit comes in.  You can apparently go to “hell” for merely thinking something that is against the rules.  In the words of Hitchens, “this is disgraceful”.  Progress cannot be made if we continue to believe that we will be judged and eventually persecuted for something that crosses our mind.  Freedom of thought is a right which I cherish and personally, I would rather there weren’t some “Big Brother” entity out there making sure I kept my thoughts to his liking, thank you very much.  “…However, let no-one say there is no cure, salvation is offered!  Redemption indeed, is promised at the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties” – Hitchens

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1ESU0xu4Zc&feature=youtu.be – The part which supports my point can be found from about 3:50 – 4:30