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Monthly Archives: January 2008

Hey everyone. Sorry about my late post but I was at the big day out yesterday rocking out to Rage Against the Machine. It was probably one of the best days of my life even though I suffered severe sunburn and feet ownage. My next post will be submitted next Sunday/Monday so please stay tuned for that and sorry for my MIA status this week.

Cheers everyone.

Skelliot

back to school

It’s nearly that time of year again! It’s time for that inevitable trudge back through the snow and sleet of an Australian summer to our place of learning of choice. Back to school for us youthful folk (and some older folk too). Unlike many youngsters I am very excited to be heading back. There are many things to try, absorb and learn and we should all be keen to get back into it! I know this sounds nerdy but what can be more cool and rewarding than knowledge.

I have very few regrets, but one I do hold however, is that I do not have unlimited time to study. We can’t stay students forever (and still be a responsible member of society). Over the past few years I have had a growing passion for science (this is obvious if you have been reading my blog) and I wish that I could pursue a science related occupation someday. While upholding and crusading for the laws of the W3C is an admirable job (I am currently training as a web developer) there is something so tempting and sexy about science and logical thinking.

For all those people who are in a science based course I truly envy you. And for all of us who are not lets take a leaf out of our sciency brethren’s book and promise to be honest with ourselves this year and think skeptically! Question your teachers when you think it is warranted, question yourselves and question your peers! Lets make this school year a particularly productive one for young people thinking skeptically.

Good luck with your studies everyone.

p.s Keep an eye out this year for the Young Australian Skeptics site that I will be building. 🙂

Quack

You’re six years old and sitting in a bubble bath. The water is warm and cosy. You sit and listen to the crackle of forever popping miniature bubbles and ponder what it is mother will be cooking for dinner. Across the heaving mass of water you spot your good friend Carl the rubber duck. You grasp him in your tiny little hands and squeeze him.

“QUACK!”

he says.

Maybe he doesn’t like that, you think to yourself. You’re getting bored and you think of things that you can do while in the bath. You look back at the yellow duck in your hands and decide that it would be fun to see what happens if you push the duck to the bottom of the bath. So you tenderly force Carl to the bottom of the bubbly ocean and then you release him. Wow! He shot right back up to the surface. Again you push the duck to the bottom of the bath and release him. He did it again! Straight back up every time!

After doing this for a good five minutes you start to become displeased with this outcome and you try harder and harder to make the bastard stay down! It is futile, the duck just keeps coming back up. Curse you hydrodynamics!

Most skeptics and free thinkers will understand what I am trying to say here and have probably come to this point in their skeptical life where it seems almost pointless to argue anymore. The more we argue it seems the more opponents we meet. Just log onto youtube.com and look at any creation vs evolution video to see what I mean. People who we have debated previously pop up again and again with more vigor than the last time. This seems to be the case with most creation/ID and pseudoscience proponents.

It gets very very frustrating but it is our duty as skeptics and freethinkers to challenge these ideals no matter how long they take to sink to the bottom of our cultural bath. We may think that we cannot win and we probably cannot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference by speaking and thinking rationally and challenging what people say.

The best way to do this is to learn the mechanism of arguing! Identifying logical fallacies and rhetoric are great weapons in any debate. If you are interesting in learning the logical fallacies (there are many but there is commonly used ones you will recognize) then please check out this link to the New England Skeptical Society. The more you know about debating the more you can easily combat your opponents. Also, another great debate on evolution vs creation can be found here at the Australian Skeptics website.

So next time you are confronted with Carl the proverbial rubber duck, whip out your arsenal of free thought and try to identify the lies. And most of all, don’t give up.

Skelliot.

Do you think he saurus?

You stand on an expansive open prairie knee deep in strange fern like plants. Their rubbery branches brush against your legs as the warm breeze washes over you. You look out towards the towering mountains, covered in conifer trees. You hear a strange noise from there. Like a loud moan of a dying cow and you wonder what it could be. In fact, you wonder where you are also, this land seems different, like nothing you have ever seen.

You hear a faint rumbling coming from behind you and you turn to see what it is. There is nothing there. The rumbling gives way to a dull roar, and then the earth beneath you really starts to pulsate. From behind a copse of conifer trees comes a huge long necked quadrupedal creature, and as it extends from behind the trees you see that it is almost sixty meters in length. This creature is massive and it is not alone. A whole herd of these beasts lumbers around the bend. These creatures are called Amphicoelias. Close relatives of Diplodocus but almost twice the length.

As these massive creatures casually stroll past, you now manage to grasp the immense size of these monstrosities. It’s nearly the length of a Boeing 747!

Well in case you couldn’t guess you are now standing in the late Jurassic, 150 million years ago. These animals were the largest land animals to ever exist and maybe the largest animals to exist in the future. To get to this point try and imagine the amount of different animals that have been and gone with the final culmination being a creature of such colossal size that it is almost the size of a 747 Jumbo jet.

Lets also think about how many other dinosaurs and other animals there were even before this time slot of a 150 million years ago and lets think about how many have existed since then! I wanted to write this article because I want to try and convey how lucky we are that we even exist, how lucky we are that we have had such a rich and diverse Earth history.
The Ancestor's Tale, Richard Dawkins
We don’t need magical stories from old books to give us awe in the world and to make us excited of our existence. All we need to do is look back and be humbled by what we see. Our existence is such a small dot in the evolutionary time line of Earth and the universe and it is wonderful that we are alive today to look back on it. If you are interested in looking back at the worlds evolutionary history and getting a grasp of the vast amount of time it has taken to get to us, check out The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins. This book will truly enrich anyone’s understanding of the world we live in. It certainly opened my mind to how big the world is and how little we actually know about it.

Skelliot.