Skeptics with a K: Episode #042

Dr Seuss and al-Qaeda, homeopathy on the Wirral, the Zion First National Bank and Wilfred Owen. Plus: God, Japan, Potential Rhymes, 200lbs of bricks, empathy and evolution. Staying indoors and covering up, it’s Skeptics with a K.

  1. #1 by Johan™ Strandberg on March 25, 2011 - 00:19

    sin: (n) |sin| plate tectonics: “Sin caused the Japanese 9.0 earthquake”

  2. #2 by Paul Smout on March 25, 2011 - 14:43

    Johan me old china, you’ve got it wrong, it was the Supermoon wot dunnit.

  3. #3 by Paul Barton on March 25, 2011 - 18:04

    The bit at the start with the Wilfred Owen Museum in Birkenhead had me in stitches!

  4. #4 by Johan™ Strandberg on March 25, 2011 - 22:27

    I stand corrected. I forgot that the margin of error is +/- two weeks when predicting quakes based on the full moon.

  5. #5 by BionicFreeFall on March 26, 2011 - 02:26

    Well done. The “Atheist’s point of view” was the most poignant I’ve heard this podcast get. I think as Skeptics, it’s important that we express our motivations and explain our ethics. We are often in danger of being portrayed as cynics, but commentaries of this sort show that that is far from the truth. Keep up the good work.

  6. #6 by martin on March 26, 2011 - 12:38

    Good luck at the next PCT meeting guys!

    BTW Is this the bank that was posted? Looks like a fairly substantial building if so.

  7. #7 by Tom Williamson on March 27, 2011 - 11:38

    Good stuff as always. I was also at the homeopathy meeting at Wirral PCT (thanks for the mention guys!) and recorded my thoughts just afterwards:

  8. #8 by Adam on March 28, 2011 - 05:53

    I will not, will not make a bomb
    In the kitchen of my mom.
    I will not blow up London trains
    Or knock down buildings with some planes
    I will not go out with a blam
    It is immoral, Osam’ I am.

    Would it help you get the urgin’
    If I promised seventy virgin?

  9. #9 by Adam on March 28, 2011 - 05:57

    (Others may carry on from there)

  10. #10 by Michael Kingsford Gray on March 28, 2011 - 07:49

    A Telegram from South Australia:
    Your show makes me feel so bloody good that it it is hard to put in to words STOP
    So I won’t STOP
    Don’t STOP

    Michael Gray
    Reverse Charges

    PS Aunt Mabel had a six pound boy and you are all invited to the wedding

  11. #11 by Rupert on March 28, 2011 - 13:05

    Well done.

    Just because we understand that the principal biological mechanism that gave rise to us was evolution by natural selection, we don’t think that that means that we should never intervene with suffering, any more than an understanding of the germ theory of disease obliges us not to practise medicine (and especially not when the genes of the affected people are so *utterly* insignificant as factors affecting their probability of survival).

    Concerning the point raised elsewhere about purpose without God – I think it is important that even if God did create us with a purpose, that doesn’t imply that following that purpose is in our best interests. Suppose that I was a genetic engineer and I created, from scratch, a human being, for the sole purpose of cleaning toilets. Then his purpose would, at least in a sense, be the cleaning of toilets. But whatever my intentions for him, that in no way suggests that fulfilling my intentions would be enjoyable or fulfilling for him.

    Suppose that God had created someone with the express purpose of wanting to watch it suffer pain. Is that person still obliged to follow his God-given purpose? If so, why? Is the person not entitled to give his life his own purpose, and deem the purposes given to him by God to be irrelevant? And if that’s the case for this person, isn’t it the case for all of us?

    A Christian might argue that God is all-loving and would never do that. But that argument can be applied to a general creator, not specifically the Christian god, and that creator might want to cause us pain. However I believe that the conclusion is applicable to any creator, including the Christian god.

  12. #12 by Johan™ Strandberg on March 30, 2011 - 05:12

    BTW, “Zion” in this context should not cause surprise. Utah is Mormon country and Zion has all kinds of complex religious meanings (“[…] the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south” — Joseph Smith). After all, this is a religion that — while ostensibly based on Cristianity — believes that God lives on planet Kolob [not Kobol, that’s Battelstar Galactica] and that Jesus will stage his second coming near Independence, Missouri.


    And as a bonus, here is the Angel Moroni playing the Vuvuzela.

  13. #13 by Mike Hall on March 30, 2011 - 14:45

    Hi Johan,

    Yes, for some reason I hadn’t connected the dots in my head and realised that, of course, Utah is Mormon Central. We’ll probably mention this on the next show.



  14. #14 by Johan™ Strandberg on March 31, 2011 - 01:06

    Hi Mike,

    As a piece of useless trivia, may I offer the tidbit that Kolab/Kobol is not a coincidence? According to _sources_ (Wikipedia as usual) Glen A. Larson — creator of Battlestar Galactica — borrowed a bunch from mormon teachings when he created it.

    [I can’t help confusing Glen Larson with Gary Larson, but if that was so, then Battlestar Galactica would have more cows, chicken, and squid.]

    PS My 10 year old son is a big fan of yours. We listen to some SWAK at bedtime every night. A few weeks ago I played the April 1’st SWAC episode without prepping him. After 30 minutes he asked me to stop the playback because it was all wrong. Asked why he thought so, he answered; “Because they haven’t called anything Bollocks or Bullshit yet!” (He was then able to list many of the actual errors, but clearly the “too nice” disturbed him.)

  15. #15 by Shaded Spriter on April 8, 2011 - 16:57

    My mum put me down as Christian on the census…luckily I checked and corrected it.

  16. #16 by Johan Strandberg on April 12, 2011 - 11:30

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for the mention of my sons reaction to the SWAC episode.

    Last week he came home from spending a week at his school’s 5’th grade Nature and Science Camp. His mom and I picked him up at the school and gave him a big welcome. [Judging from my wife’s reaction to having him gone for 4 nights, she is going to go totally mental when he goes off to college.]

    He was walking 3″ above the ground, positively frothing with things he wanted to tell us about all the things he had seen and learned. (Bright yellow banana slugs. box turtles, a California King Snake and an 8′ Python he got to pet. The list went on and on…)

    On the way home I told him I had something he might want to hear, and turned on SWAK#43 cued to the start of the segment where you mentioned him.

    I don’t think I have ever seen him so happy as he was at that moment.

    “That’s fricking awesome pappa! I can’t wait to tell the kids at school.”

    I think he’s your biggest fan right now, so a heartfelt _thank_you_ from Einar (and me).

    Thank You all.

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