You won’t believe what they’re slashing!

And trust me, it’s not the budget I’m talking about. It’s the quality of the news reporting.

Generally I try to stay clear of political issues on this blog. It’s not what the blog is about, I’m not particularly partial to any one party, and I have readers here from around the world; Australian politics just won’t interest some of you.

So rest assured this post isn’t about favouring one political party over another. That’s not what Inquisitive Bliss is (generally) about. This post is about a poor excuse for a news story, and how people should go about reading between the lines to detect the bullshit.

 

This article in question can be found here:

http://mobile.news.com.au/finance/economy/you-wont-believe-what-theyre-slashing-and-spending-in-the-federal-budget-2014/story-fn84fgcm-1226916439095?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=post&utm_campaign=Budget2014

 

Go have a quick read of it. I won’t be surprised if you’re initial reaction is “Gah! Terrible cuts!” Hell, when the first point is about cutting science, that’s my first reaction too. But let’s go through these one at a time. Put on your bullshit detectors people.

 

So. #1. Apparently some science funding is getting cut. Definitely not a good thing. Considering it’s the CSIRO I doubt they’ve been pissing money up against a wall, so this probably isn’t good. But we’re after the bullshit here, so where is it?

First off, nowhere does it say how much these institutions are still getting. For all we know they might be getting billions, so who gives a shit about ~$150million? Alternatively they might be only getting $20 once these cuts are made. I don’t know. With a bit of research I could probably find out, but that’s not the point I’m trying to get across here. This is a news report. News reports are supposed to be unbiased. Why haven’t these guys done that research? Why aren’t they giving us the full story?

Secondly, notice how the first figure says this cut will happen over 4 years? Why doesn’t it say how many years the ANSTO cut will go over? Maybe that’ll happen next year? Maybe it will happen over 50 years? Who knows? I’ll bet the reporter knows, so why isn’t he telling us?

 

#2. They got rid of a word. Poor fucking diddums. The only point of number 2 is to try and make the Government look like they don’t support clean energy alternatives. Which may be true. But take note of what this program actually does. It’s mean to help supplement Australians struggling to pay their energy bills. So the removal of this word may in fact mean they’re expanding the program to include more Australians. That…kinda sounds like it might be a good thing. Or maybe it really is just a ploy to reduce clean energy. Again, who knows? The article doesn’t make it clear.

 

#3. Get rid of those damn windfarms. Boy is that some emotive language. But…did anyone else notice how they’re not actually getting rid of any fucking windfarms!? What a load of crap. This heading is completely false. Yes, the program is getting the axe. Yes, that’s $1.3billion not going into that program anymore. Isn’t that enough to rid on, without having to blatantly lie?

 

#4. Not sure on this one. I’m not a big fan of PETA, but they’re actually axing the Animal Welfare Strategy program, which I’m assuming are two different groups. Some extra info would be nice, but at least I can smell any bullshit here.

 

#5. “The major schemes either axed or deferred for several years”. That’s okay, I didn’t want to know what those schemes were anyway. Just feed me the fear factor. I don’t need additional information to generate an informed opinion.

I mean really, what is actually being cut here? Maybe these were good cuts and help clean up a very messy set of systems? Maybe it’s streamlining several systems into one, thus finding ways of saving money. Or maybe they’re bad cuts and we’d be better off if they didn’t make them. Buggered if I know.

 

#6. So a certain amount of money has already been sunk into these programs (thanks for telling me just how much…NOT), and the leftover funds are being put somewhere else. So, does that mean these projects were successful and completed under budget? That’s awesome! Or is the Government just cutting whats left of the funding despite the programs not being finished? Again, no idea.

 

#7. What education are you talking about? Is this in schools? Primary or secondary? Somehow I doubt they’re closing all the universities that teach law. So what exactly are you talking about here? Don’t be specific or anything.

 

#8. Oh no, a whole program has been cut! Not a quarter, not even half a program, but a whole program! Come on, careers advice programs are a dime a dozen. There’s plenty more out there. Okay, maybe this was a really important program. One that was having a lot of success and getting parents back to work. Or…you know…maybe it wasn’t? Who knows!?

 

#9. I can understand why some people would be pissed about this one. Personally, until tobacco is actually made illegal I don’t have a problem with it. Why should the Government spend money on something we already know. Coz really, it’s kind of hard to miss the whole “smoking is bad for you” thing. Seriously, people living in caves know that.

I love this next section, which doesn’t actually have a number (I’m guessing the author couldn’t count past 9). Listen to this:

“If this isn’t enough for you, don’t worry. The Abbott government loves getting rid of laws.”

Oh boy, this sounds like it’s going to be terrible. So what are they doing? Are they cutting our freedom of speech? Reducing woman’s rights? Getting rid of that whole messy thing where gays can now have civil unions?

“So much so, it’s going to hold at least two ‘Repeal Days’ every year where they get rid of red tape.”

Oh my gawd!! That’s…that’s….wait, that’s pretty fucking good isn’t it?

“The first Repeal Day, held earlier this year, got rid of 50,000 pages of legislation. It’s all to “reduce regulatory compliance costs on businesses”.”

So, they’re essentially making it easier for businesses to conduct their business and do it cheaper. Hey, I own a business. Isn’t this a good thing?

Well, to be fair, who knows? They haven’t actually said what laws are being cut. To be fair, 50,000 might be a couple too many to list, but couldn’t they have at least picked one or two of the bad ones? You know, assuming there are bad ones.

Seriously, why is the author wording this like it’s the apocalypse? There’s nothing bad in here!

 

$200,000 to bring back Matthew Flinder’s original 1804 Chart of Australia. Can’t be sure, but that sounds like it might have some historic value. Somehow I doubt they’re wanting to use it to replace Google maps mate.

 

Hey, the ballet students are getting their own residence. That’s good right? You could be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t with the language being used here.

 

I didn’t actually know what the mushroom spawn levy was, so I Googled it and got this:

“The Australian Government introduces levies and export charges at the request of industry. These levies variously fund research and development, marketing, residue testing, plant and animal biosecurity programs and emergency responses for industry.”

I dunno, sounds kind of reasonable. Considering I have no idea what the current levy is, it’s hard to have an opinion on it. Damn, wouldn’t it have been useful if this article told you that…

 

The Lodge refurbishment is a bit of a tougher one. Considering it’s the PM’s home, I think a certain amount of privacy isn’t a bad thing. But, if this is coming out of our tax dollars, I’m afraid you kind of need to tell us. Sorry dude, if you’re spending my money I have a right to know where it’s going. So yeah, that’s a good one to call out.

 

Okay, so after more than 1,300 words, what’s the point of all this? No, the point isn’t that the Abbott Government is good. It’s not that I’m a secret bleeding heart Liberal. I’m a swing voter and I think any government can be corrupted and that all governments get some things wrong and some things right. This isn’t a post about taking sides in a political war.

The point is that far too many ‘news’ stories have an agenda, and that if you’re not careful you’ll be taken along for a ride. Everything in this article might be right and every single one of these points might be valid. The point is that as an average reader without a lot more insight into the political spectrum, you have absolutely no idea.

Please, don’t be taken for a ride. It’s perfectly all right if you have a strong political opinion. Frankly I wish more people would take a stronger interest in politics. Then we could hold authors like this to account and let them know we expect more from our news publications. But don’t have a strong opinion based on bullshit like this. Learn to read between the lines and know when an agenda is being set.

 

Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.

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Will this be on the test?

I was reading an article the other day on one of my favourite science blogs and this phrase came up. The article was actually about how few scientists there seems to be in US politics compared to business people and lawyers, but it was this particular point that really struck home with me.

The point the author was trying to make is that people are interested in what they need to know to get the job done (which is great), but aren’t interested in learning anything beyond that, even if it’s interesting, informative and might actually be useful to their future jobs (which is bad).

Homer Simpson: I am so smrtThis attitude I think, is a very rare but very good example of true close-mindedness. There are some people who are only interested in learning what they think they need to learn to get the job done, to pass the test or to get paid and nothing matters beyond that. There’s no desire to learn for the sake of learning. No thirst for knowledge.

Now I don’t want to get too high on my metaphorical horse and preach that everyone needs to be or should be an intellectual, but nevertheless this attitude depresses me. What is particularly depressing is that this is a learned attitude. All you need to do is look at a child to know this is true. The little buggers are constantly exploring, constantly learning new things to the point they get annoying with constantly asking ‘why?’ At what point did we train this beatifully inquisitive nature out of them?

Speaking of children, I can remember one such occasion back in high school where a young lady ask me “How did you get so smart?” (seriously embarrassing question by the way, but true). I thought for a brief moment before responding “I read”.

The look on her face was pure depression. It was as if to say “Oh, I have to work for it?” She very quickly changed the topic after that.

It’s not like I was telling her she needed to read newspapers and scientific papers. At that stage in my life those kinds of materials bored me to death. This conversation took place in the school library, in the fiction section! Reading any kind of literature is good. It opens you to other points of view and ways of thinking, even in fairy tales.

Honestly I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make here. I don’t know how bad this is or even whether I think it should be changed somehow. Or even if it can be changed. Only that it depresses me. There’s a kind of strange joy that many people take in being deliberately ignorant. The girl in the above story, I have no doubt she wasn’t interested in reading because it was uncool. And that’s the sad part. Firstly that it’s not cool to be smart, and secondly that being cool is more important to people.

 

-Ignorance is not bliss. Nor is it cool. Stay inquisitive.

Should universities teach alternative medicine?

I got linked to an article on alternative medicine education today and it pissed me off so much I just had to write about it. And hey, it’s been a while since I did a rant piece, so this should be fun 😀

First off, the article can be found here: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/the-question/should–universities–teach–alternative–medicine-20120203-1qxb3.html

Honestly, it’s not so much as article as it is four opinion pieces, two on each side of the argument. Can you guess which two articles are better?

In a nutshell the articles are about the ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’ (FSM) lobbying Australian Universities in an attempt to get them to stop teaching pseudoscience in their classrooms. Unfortunately this article doesn’t quote anything from FSM, but the first author does specify ‘Homeopathy, reflexology, iridology, energy medicine, tactile healing and kinesiology‘ as examples of these pseudosciences.

With this, I completely, 100% agree. These subjects should not be taught at schools, and certainly not in education houses as influential as Universities. If at some point these fields receive some credibility and there is actually some proof that they do anything other than drain a patients wallet, then fair enough, teach them. But until they are dragged out of the realm of psuedoscience and wishful thinking they should not be taught. Our schools and universities are there for teaching students what we do know, not what might one day be proven.

With that we move on from the intelligent, thought out responce to the question, and onto the absolute bullshit spewed by Dr Rob Morrison a researcher at Flinders University. Let’s break it down bit by bit.

“COMPLEMENTARY medicine treatments are used by two in three Australians each year and have been taught in universities here for two decades. The recent call by Friends of Science in Medicine to ban the university teaching of ”complementary medicine” presents a sad view of science and a shameless push to censor learning.”

I’m sorry, but what the fuck is ‘Complementary medicine’? Strangely enough Wikipedia redirects to ‘Alternative medicine’, so let’s not mince words here. Giving it a different and more pleasant sounding name doesn’t cover the smell of crap.

Apparently this ‘complementary’ medicine is used by two thirds of Australians and has been taught for twenty years. Fantastic, then you should have plenty of data to prove this shit actually works. But you see, if you could actually prove it works you wouldn’t need these stupid alternative names; it would just be ‘medical science’.  Put up or shut up.

And as for a ‘push to censor learning’, fuck off you ignoramous. This isn’t trying to censor learning, it’s attempting to limit bad teaching that might get people killed! I highly doubt you would stand idly by and let schools teach students the proper blood letting techniques, and currently homaeopathy has about as much credibility.

“There are two fundamental points proposed by this group. First, that healthcare practices should be based as much as possible on sound scientific evidence. This is easy to agree with.”

Thank fucking god.

“But ”evidence-based medicine” is a relatively new approach. Most medical and allied healthcare practices have not been rigorously tested.”

I’m not sure what is mean by ‘relatively new approach’, but I’m going to take a stab and suggest that was in the last 100-200 years. You know, roughly the time people stopped dying at the age of 40. In other words, around the time medicine actually started working fuckwit. And I’ve no idea where he gets the idea that medicines aren’t rigorously tested. I can’t say I’m an expert, but last I checked there were quite a few loopholes you had to jump through before you could get your latest pills on the market.

“Second, this group argues that abolishing the teaching of complementary medicine will somehow strengthen its evidence-based clinical practice. This is nonsense. A strong link between research and education helps communicate the fruits of research rapidly and effectively to clinicians. To impose greater barriers to this is counter-productive to quality care.”

So hang on, you think that if you stop teaching people how to do crackpot medicine, whilst teaching them how to do evidence-based medicine, you won’t strengthen the use of evidence based medicine? You sir, are a fucking moron. And as for getting research to clinicians quickly, fine go nuts. Clinicians aren’t students. They should have the tools to decide what are good practices and what aren’t. And if they fuck up, it’s on their heads. On the other hand if a bunch of students from a particular university start killing off patients, pretty bad for the university. Oh, and the dead patients.

“This year, Chinese medicine practitioners will be registered in Australia…There are few cardiologists who do not recognise the value of fish oil supplements in heart disease, and few geriatricians who are not aware of the importance of calcium and Vitamin D3 for bone health…Why would we shut our minds to these possibilities?”

I really want to rip this stupidity to shreads, but I feel the need to be fair. None of these responces refer to what the FSM were requesting be taken out of university courses. I’m assuming by the first reponse the request was to remove pseudosciences such as homaeopathy and crystal healing, and with that I agree. But if this includes removing all Chinese medicine then they’re being a bit overzealous. Of course some Chinese medicine works, and if it’s been proven to work it should be fine to teach it.

“There is no better place than our universities to rigorously discern what works from what does not.”

Okay, again to be fair this dude is a researcher and may just be refering to his own position. If that’s so, then yes, universities are a good place for people to research whatever they like and if they want to spend their time trying to validate psuedosciences then let them. But just because you’re researching this shit doesn’t mean you should be teaching it to students, and that is the question the article poses. Students are at a point in their career where they don’t have the mental tools to be able to process what works and what doesn’t; they’ll just take in what their teacher tells them.

Feel free to do your own research, just don’t drown your students in information that is currently being tested!

“This disregard for patients’ choice will only discourage them from disclosing complementary medicine use to their doctors.”

Wait what? How did we get on to patients choices? I thought we were talking about what should be taught to students? This is just so far removed from the actual topic it’s barely worth mentioning, but for the stupidity it conveys. You see, patients shouldn’t have to make choices about their health. Idealy, they should go to their doctor and their doc should tell them what the best cure is. The patient doesn’t have the knowhow to make a compentant choice. It’s akin to taking the average Joe off the street and asking him which buttons to push in the NASA spacecraft. It’s not a choice, it’s a fucking guessing game. Medicine and the human body are ridiculously complicated things and the idea that you should leave these choices in the hands of an overwhelmed patient is an incredible denial of responsibility.

 

The next article is by a student, Rob Pearlman. Honestly, nothing to add here. This dude sounds like he’s got his head screwed on straight. Hopefully a few more students think like him and these universities won’t be able to pull the wool over their eyes.

 

The final piece is by  Valerie Malka, a surgeon, and is almost as bad as the bullocks spewed by Morrison.

“FOR MORE than 10,000 years, natural therapies have been used, while conventional medicine is but 100 years old.”

Yes this is true, but as noted above you might want to look at the correlation between the last 10,000 years and the average age of death as compared to the last 100 years.

“They deserve the recognition universities have given them as they have healing modalities and benefits proven by credible and peer-reviewed research.”

If that is true, then no qualms. If it’s been tested and found to work then go nuts. That’s not pseudoscience.

“The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 80 per cent of the world’s population relies on natural therapies to treat, prevent and cure diseases…”

And oddly enough 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. I’m sure there’s no connection between bad medicine and poverty.

“in Australia we have closed-minded colleagues determined to damage and bring into disrepute the entire natural health profession.”

I’m sorry, but would someone please slap this cunt? I am so sick of “close-minded” being another phrase for “doesn’t agree with me”. It is not close minded to ask someone to bring you proof before you start administering drugs, no matter if they’re natural or not

“Do the Americans have it completely wrong? Not only do they have dedicated courses in universities but almost 85 per cent of US medical schools offer elective courses in alternative and complementary medicine or include it in required courses.”

Umm, again I’m not expert, but isn’t the US medical system kinda fucked? Also, we’re talking about the country that has people trying to teach Creationism in high schools. Yeah, they’ve got it pretty fucking wrong.

“There is no better than modern medicine when it comes to surgery, emergency and trauma, but for almost everything else, traditional, natural or alternative medicine is far more effective…”

Okay, this here I think is part of the problem. Natural medicine and alternative medicine aren’t necessarily the same thing. Alternative medicine is medicine that has not yet been proven to work. Natural medicine is stuff like herbal remedies. Of course some of the latter work. Fuck me, some of the former might work too. But you don’t go around administering or teaching things that you don’t know work. It’s just irresponsible.

 

This last link is mostly a reference for a future post, but it should help emphasise exactly why we shouldn’t go around administering medicines we don’t know work.

http://www.news.com.au/national/babys-eczema-death-was-parents-fault/story-e6frfkvr-1225708504277

Stealing Christmas

How the grinch stole christmasThis is a much bigger issue in America, but it’s becoming an issue in Australia and I’m sure many other countries are having to deal with this as well. Considering the time of year, I think it’s time we tackled this one and set it to rest once and for all.

The ‘problem’ (and I use that word loosely) is that people of faiths other than Christianity are coming into our schools and insisting that the schools stop celebrating Christmas. (See the link at the bottom for one example). Generally the culprits of such actions are those pesky Muslims, and we know how the media loves to stigmatize these people, so I’ll use this religion as reference, however the same applies to any other religion.

This act is often considered an invasion by those of us who celebrate Christmas and many people, atheists/agnostics included, find it intolerable that these people have come into our country and are trying to take away our greatest holiday, depriving our children of the wonders of Santa, Rudolf, presents and pine trees. Oh, and Jesus. Can’t forget Jesus.

I mean, it’s one thing to have your own beliefs, churches and celebrations, but to come into someone elses country and try to take away theirs…well that’s just a step too far right? Right?

Well, that probably depends on the particular situation. If the school in question is private and religious, then yes. Sit down, shut the fuck up or go somewhere else. You put your child there, now suck it up.

However, I have a hunch that most of the time it’s not a private school that is being given the run around, but a public school, and this is where it gets a little different.

What people don’t understand is that Australia, the US and likely many other countries that are experiencing this debate are secular! For those playing at home, that means the Government is not allowed to endorse any religion over another.

By celebrating Christmas in public schools that is exactly what the Government is doing.

At this point there is two things the Government can do. They can celebrate the holidays of every religion, which means your child would probably spend more time at home than at school. Or they can celebrate none. Obviously the latter has to be the choice, as it would be impossible to celebrate every religions festivities.

These are the facts. Not only is it spelled out nice and clearly in Australian law (116), but it’s the way it damn well should be. You don’t get to force your religion (even the fun parts with fictitious characters that have little to do with the original religion) on other people, any more than they can force your children to attend their churches or wear a burka. Suck it up princess.

Here’s the quote taken from the ‘Commonwealth Of Australia Constitution Act’

116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

I still feel a good long break at the end of the year to spend time with family and take a well deserved rest is something we shouldn’t give up. The fact it happens to fall on Christmas (or more to the point, Christmas was moved to fall at the end of the year) is just a coincidence. But that’s no excuse for forcing your ancient dogma on unsuspecting children. And as commercialised as ‘Xmas’ has got, it can’t be denied its originals are buried in religion and is still celebrated as a religious holiday.

So to all you people who will be bitching and moaning again this year about those evil Muslims who keep trying to destory Australia’s traditions…shut the fuck up. Try actually learning Australia’s true traditions; those that embrace other people and cultures, and allowing people to practice their faiths without forcing any particular religion on them. That’s True Blue.

 

Sydney school accused of stealing Christmas – One such article accusing schools of stealing Christmas.

 

Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.

All opinions are equal

This is one I’m getting kinda tired of having to harp on. It just seems to come up fairly frequently and it’s so obviously wrong I can’t believe I have to figuratively bash people over the head with the idea before they’ll begrudgingly admit I’m right.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion”.

This one is true. And it’s a good thing too. There may be times when it becomes frustrating or inconvenient to have idiots running about fully convinced (and worse convincing others) the world is flat, but we need that freedom to be able to pursue ideas that not everyone agrees with. We don’t want our thinking to become stagnant with the idea that just because it works right now doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. So as much as it sucks to have flat-earthers still running about, we need that freedom so that people can pursue outlandish ideas like String Theory.

“Everyone’s opinion is valid”.

Now this is where the problem occurs. For some stupid reason many people have started to equate the first quote as being equivalent to the second. That just because you are entitled to hold whatever opinion you like that this somehow makes your opinion just as valid, accurate and worthy as everybody elses. It doesn’t!

Just because freedom of speech laws entitle you to hold a belief doesn’t make that belief worth holding. Just because thought crime is an abominable idea doesn’t make you thoughts equal to everybody elses. It’s entirely possible your thoughts might be inaccurate, based upon false data or just plain crap.

So when does this apply, and when are opinions truly equal. Generally when we’re talking about our personal take on things. No, “My god is real” doesn’t fall into that category, and I’ll explain why in just a moment.

Ironically as I’m writing this my housemate just sent me a YouTube clip. One of those “Worlds biggest idiots” videos of people doing stupid things on camera and badly hurting themselves. I don’t find these at all amusing. For me, it’s a combination of cringe factor and just plain feeling sad at how dumb people can be. For me, not funny. But there are TV shows that are dedicated to this kind of crap, so obviously there’s a market for it. Obviously it’s not universally funny, or universally unfunny. It comes down to personal taste, and probably has a lot to do with upbringing and maybe even genetics.

Other examples include literally, taste. There are foods I can’t stand, a few I can eat but don’t enjoy, and the vast majority I love. And those food groups don’t always match up to other people’s tastes. Again, a combination of upbringing (being exposed to variation at a younger age) and genetics.

What we need to remember is that these opinions are based upon facts, in these cases about the individual. It is a fact that my taste buds are adapted in such a way that I really like chicken. On the other hand I have an intolerance for squishy things in my mouth, which is why I can’t stand raw tomatoes (the outer flesh is okay, just can’t stand the seedy gooey bit in the middle).

Now, I’d argue that all opinions are based upon data. It is impossible to formulate an opinion without data input. That data may be true (in other words facts), or that data may be flawed. If you have flawed data it’s likely you’ll end up with a flawed opinion. And flawed opinions have the potential to cause harm. Take our flat earther’s for example. By itself, a rather innocent belief, even if it is completely stupid. But what if NASA were to give this opinion some credit and launched a space probe. They wouldn’t calculate for the curvature of the earth and would try to plow straight through the atmosphere (rather than hitting it at an angle). Wave goodbye to a couple of million dollars, or worse, a few lives if it were a manned mission.

Clearly the above example demonstrates that all opinions are not equal. If one opinion can get people killed while the other can lead to success and keep people alive, surely one must be greater than the other?

This also demonstrates how we come to good, factual opinions. By testing them. Hopefully NASA has a few better testing methods before they start launching rockets, but the principle remains the same. People who have put their ideas, opinions and beliefs to the test are more likely to have factual opinions. Because those opinions can be used to achieve goals they are more valuable.

So how do we create stronger, more valuable opinions? By putting them to the test. How do we test them? Education. We put ourselves through school, college, TAFE, or University. We discuss our ideas with others (and not just those that agree with us). We read books. We test those ideas through experimentation to see whether they hold up to the real world.

So no, your ideas on cosmology aren’t nearly as valuable as Stephen Hawking. Your opinion on biology is not worth as much to me as Richard Dawkins.

And if you don’t go to church, haven’t read your Bible, haven’t ever had a meaningful discussion with an atheist or at least someone of an alternative faith, your passionate belief in your god is pretty fucking meaningless too.

If you don’t know a Muslim, haven’t read their holy book and get all your information off the fear mongering news programs labelling them all terrorists your opinion isn’t worth dick.

Don’t think that just because you’ve watched Al Gore’s ‘An inconvenient truth’ it sudden makes you an expert on global warming. Seriously, can we please leave this discussion to the people with degrees? The weather man can’t predict what will happen next week, what makes you think you can predict the next 50 years!?

Until you have earned the right to have an opinion on a topic, don’t expect me to treat your opinion with reverence just because you had the compulsion to have one. If you don’t know enough about a topic, keep your mouth shut. Or at least have the decency to be polite and ask questions, rather than shoving an unfounded and untested opinion in my face.

So, to come back to the ‘My god is real’ idea. No, this is not something that falls into the ‘everyone’s opinion is valid’ category. Remember, even opinions like “Chicken is delicious” are based on facts, those facts just happen to be subjective. Chicken is genuinely delicious to me and it’s because of the way my body is made up. It may not be delicious to you, again because of the fact your body is different.

But ‘My god is real’ is a dichotomy; a boolean operation. It’s either true or it isn’t. And again the opinion you hold on your god (or lack of god) is based on data. If that data is inaccurate it’s likely your opinion on a god will also be inaccurate.

So if we want to actually make any headway in this discussion we first need to get rid of this stupid notion that all opinions are equal. Yes, people are allowed and should be allowed to believe whatever they want. But that doesn’t make their opinion worth listening to. It’s the people who have taken the time and effort to educate themselves and test our their opinions who we should be giving more time to.

Seriously people, don’t think that just because you hold a belief it’s automatically worthy. Put that baby to the test! And not just to your standards. Your standards might be crap (because let’s face it, your standards are also based on your opinions). If it makes it through to the other side, great! If not, then hopefully you’ll have a new opinion that will be stronger than the last.

 

-Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.

Burundanga Drug Warning

Seems I’m getting a few silly emails lately. Fortunately this one isn’t as bigoted as the last one, but it’s still pretty ignorant. Here’s the email:

“this is actually a good one to be aware of, so many sicko’s out there…..

People are R E A L L Y crazy!  If you are a female, take heed! If you  are male and have a significant female in your  life who you care about, whether it’s your wife, your  girlfriend, your daughter, your sister, your niece,  your cousin, your next door neighbour;  whomever…………..pass this  along!    Always,   “Better safe than sorry!”

A man came over and offered his services as a painter to a female putting Fuel in her car and left his card.
She said no, but accepted his card out of courtesy and got in her car.
The man then got into a car driven by another gentleman. As the lady left the service station, she saw the men following her out of the station at the same time.
Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath.
She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand; the same hand which accepted the card from the gentleman at the gas station.  She then noticed the  men were  immediately behind her and she felt she needed to do  something at that moment.
She drove into the first driveway and began to honk her horn repeatedly to ask for help. The men drove away but the  lady still felt pretty bad for several minutes after  she could finally catch her breath. Apparently, there was a substance on the card that could have seriously injured her.
This drug is called ’BURUNDANGA’ and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal from or take advantage of them.
This drug is four times more dangerous than the date rape drug and is transferable on simple cards.
So take heed and make sure you don’t accept cards at any given time you are alone or from someone on the streets.
This applies to those making house calls and slipping you a card when they offer their services.

PLEASE SEND THIS E-MAIL ALERT TO EVERY FEMALE  YOU KNOW!!!!

Sgt. Gregory L. Joyner”

Okay, your first hint this email is bogus is the notion it’s come from a Police man. The police don’t use spam email as a way of getting an important message across. They have other media for that. The seven o’clock news for one!

However, it may have started as a rough quote from an officer and found its way onto the web from there. No reason to disregard it just yet.

As usual though, Google is our saviour. I punched ‘Burundanga’ into Google and the first two website links to come up were ‘Hoax-slayer’ and ‘Urban Legend’. Not a good sign.

You can find the two articles here:

http://www.hoax-slayer.com/burundanga-warning.shtml

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/crime/a/burundanga.htm

Both articles warn that burundanga is a real drug and can have some nasty effects, including “drowsiness, dizziness, agitation, fever excitability, seizures or convulsions, hallucinations, coma, and death”.

Both articles also outline that burundanga is odourless and only has an effect on people if eaten or inhaled. There is no known way burundanga could be administered by touch alone.

These emails have been circulating for years and there is no good reason to believe them. That said, date rape drugs do exist and people (both sexes) should be careful when in unfamiliar territory. Always keep your drink in sight. Where possible use bottles or cans rather than an open glass. Always go out with a friend who you trust enough to get you home safely. Keep yourselves and your friends safe.
But please, don’t be so paranoid to not accept business cards from strangers. And don’t become part of the fear mongering by passing this one on. Please, delete it.

All choices in life involve some element of risk. This is one you should feel safe enough to risk.

 

Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.