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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Plato’s Apology

Plato records the trial and death of Socrates in four dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo. I’ve been reading The Apology this week and finding in it references that reflect well in today’s world, particularly in politics.* In The Apology – which meant defence in Greek, not saying sorry as it does today – Socrates defends […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reflexology: another daft New Age idea

As medicine, reflexology is bunk. Just like iridology and phrenology. Of course, you knew that. But not everyone does. Reflexology popped up recently in a shared post on Facebook (a popular venue for moving codswallop and cat photos from one user to another at the speed of light…). Coincidentally it appeared right after a post promoting a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Utility Animal

In the July/August edition of Pets Magazine (the Cat Care issue) there are two articles that caused me concern. One is “The Loyalty and Bravery of a Cat” (p.28), the other is “Quick-Thinking Cat Saves the Day.” (p.26). The latter is a pet profile from the Purina Hall of Fame that honours pets for “extraordinary […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Trolley Problem

I had read about the “trolley problem” in the past, but not given it much thought until recently when I saw Thomas Cathcart’s little book of that name in the philosophy section of an Indigo bookstore. It’s subtitled, “Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the bridge? A Philosophical Conundrum.” I, of course, was so […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data

The full name of an article I read today is, “The Fallacy of Online Surveys: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data.” It’s from 2010 and very good. You can find it on the Responsive Management website. It makes some key points about the invalidity of online surveys: For a study to be unbiased, every member […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life,” Socrates declared in his trial, “is not worth living.” His student, Plato, wrote down those words in his account of Socrates’ trial and death, in the book, Apology.* Socrates was speaking for himself and about the value of his life as a thinking person. He was on trial in 399 BCE for impiety – […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Is the Internet making us stupid? Or just shallow?

In my never-ending search for some bit of knowledge one day, during a mix-and-match of search engine terms while looking for classical writers’ views on death and dying, I stumbled onto what might have been an off-kilter New Age site, OM Times, or more likely, a parody of the genre. On the page titled “8 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Treasure Trove

A recent trip to Toronto to see family and friends – and celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary – also netted me a treasure trove of books, thanks to the proximity of a new/used BMV bookstore to our hotel. And, of course, Susan’s patience while I browsed the shelves. Several times. I managed to find a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Our gawker culture

Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire […]

The Disaffected Lib: Teach Your Children Well

They’re already facing some serious challenges coming their way before all that long, let’s teach them the difference between absurdity and reality, the gift of critical thinking.  That’s been heavily drummed out of us these past two or more decades and it shows in the mess we’ve created during that interval.

Dan Arel, in his book “Parenting without God,”  argues that, in a society “ruled by absurd religion and other dogma,” critical thinking is more important than ever.

One important thing to teach our children is how to think critically. It is easy to tell them they (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Great books: the academic view

In the mid-1990s, journalist David Denby took on a personal challenge to return to Columbia University for a year to take two courses, both focused on reading the “great books” of the Western canon. The results and his observations – along with an entertaining bit of biography about his journey – is told in Great […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Inanity and vanity

Michel de Montaigne wrote in his usual self-deprecating but sardonic way: If other men would consider themselves at the rate I do, they would, as I do, discover themselves to be full of inanity and foppery; to rid myself of it, I cannot, without making myself away. We are all steeped in it, as well […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s in a (Popular) Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) A recent article in The Atlantic about how our names impact our lives got me to thinking about how and why we name our children – and what they […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Neolithic site dig uncovers sophisticated structures

A Neolithic site in the Orkney Islands shows our ancestors had sophisticated building skills more than 5,000 years ago. According to a story in The Scotsman, A groundbreaking excavation of a 5,000-year-old temple complex in Orkney has uncovered evidence to suggest that prehistoric people were a great deal more sophisticated than previously thought. The archaeological […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Those Crazy Creationists

I know, I know, it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel when you critique creationists. They are just so easy to mock. But how can you help yourself when someone like Ken Ham opens his mouth in public? The media just love to pounce all over him. He must take his lessons in PR from Ann Coulter. And […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Chemtrails: yet more conspiracy claptrap

A bit of simple math was used to debunk the chemtrail nonsense conspiracy recently. Over at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s website there’s a great piece explaining why there simply aren’t enough pilots, planes or chemicals for the chemtrail silliness to be true: A typical crop duster might use seven ounces of agent diluted in […]

Politics and its Discontents: A True Critical Thinker

For many decades Noam Chomsky has been fearlessly fighting for truth. His capacity for incisive critical thinking and unwillingness to submit to the bluster of the right is much in evidence in this excerpt from a 1969 edition of William Buckley’s Firing Line. Would that today’s progressives were as tenacious.

Enjoy:

h/t The Knowledge Movement Recommend this Post

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Death of Handwriting?

I almost cried in pleasure when I watched this video; the handwriting is so beautiful. Apparently some viewers have, as Jesus Diaz writes. On Gizmodo he says that it’s: …a video that caused many to discover autonomous sensory meridian response, a perceptual phenomenon that gives a pleasing tingling sensation. Some said they got it watching people […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Food Babe and other nonsense

She’s been called the “Jenny McCarthy of food.” That’s not a compliment and should warn anyone with half a brain to beware of her. She’s a New Age wingnut helping turn the public from science to superstition. She’s also been described as the “latest quack making a name for herself on the Internet by peddling pseudoscience” […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Talking to water, yelling at rice

Dr. Masaru Emoto thinks you can hurt water’s feelings by shouting at it. No, really. Stop laughing. He’s written a bestselling book about it – The Hidden Messages in Water – and he’s convinced a whole lot of people that he’s right. But of course, the sheer numbers of believers doesn’t mean he is. Dr. Emoto […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Is silver safe as a medicine?

The short answer to that headline question – based on everything I’ve read of late – is no. It’s not that silver has no medical uses – one form has been used in dressings and bandages as an antiseptic (not, as is sometimes claimed, an antibiotic). Silver nitrate is sometimes used to treat warts and corns. However, the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sometimes Our Opinions Just Don’t Matter

The headline for this piece comes from a recent article in Time Magazine: “Dear CNN: Sometimes Our Opinions Just Don’t Matter.” The article isn’t – as you might have thought – about local bloggers. It’s about critical thinking. Or rather, the lack of it, on CNN’s part.The lack of it on the part of local […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Seeing evolution in action

The pop-science notion is that evolution takes a long time. Millennia, many millennia; even millions of years. But is that always true? Can one actually see and measure evolution in action? Can it happen in such a short time as to be recorded? Peter and Rosemary Grant say they have. And it’s the subject of a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Pseudo-patriotic madness

This is news, right from the CBC, not April Fool or The Onion: The Massachusetts House of Representatives has finally granted initial approval to a Bill naming the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The bill was filed in 2006 by then Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, in response to a motion by State Senator Jarrett Barrios limiting […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The dangerous idiocy of the anti-vax movement

Measles is on the rise in Canada. There have already been many cases in 2014: in PEI, London, Ottawa, southern Alberta, Regina, Qu’Apelle, Calgary, Fraser Valley (320 cases), Hamilton, Halton, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Nanaimo and other locations. Eleven cases in Ontario this year alone. Nine in Alberta. That ancient, deadly foe we recently believed we […]