TAM 2012

Do you like science, skepticism, rationalism, critical thinking, magic (the real unreal illusion kind), humor, and other awesome things? If so, go here, and lose the rest of your day to TAM 2012 related things, including links to recordings of various presentations.

Don’t blame me for any loss of your day, though. Seriously.

Edit: Boo. All the big stuff is on the first page. It gets pretty thin pretty fast. I’m sure more will be released in the future, since apparently most of the talks were recorded. Patience is not a virtue of mine, however. (Aw hell, it’s not even a virtue.)

Here are the videos worth watching so far:

Carol Tavris, Ph.D. – “A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience” – TAM 2012

Jamy Ian Swiss – “Overlapping Magisteria” – TAM 2012

If you don’t know what rbutr is (Shame on you!), watch this one (the audio sucks): rbutr at TAM2012 – Tim Farley’s Workshop


Aron Ra Speaks about Faith

The few videos I’ve seen of Aron Ra have been of him talking with people off script, and he’s normally quite the firebrand. In this talk, he’s much more neutral in tone. He does a good job encapsulating the essence of the problems atheists have with faith and Christianity. It’s worth listening to if you want to get some insight into the secular mindset.

In the Q&A, a woman objects to his citing of statistics indicating that believers commit crimes at higher rates. She interprets this as an attempt to mock Christians, but it isn’t. It’s a statistic.

The thing that bothers me about this sort of objection is that people assume an attack on their beliefs to be an attack on them. It isn’t. If you change the circumstances, this is obvious.

People who believed in the Aztec gods that mandated human sacrifice believed absolutely crazy bullshit. There is no excuse for tolerating a religion whose practice demands the ritual murder of another human being. It’s completely unacceptable, and anyone who tried to do that now would rightly be considered criminally insane. If you think it’s wrong of me to criticize this religion (or its adherents for following it), you need to get your brain checked because you have no moral compass. I don’t care if they sincerely believed in that religion; it would not be okay for someone to practice this religion today.

Religious beliefs have real consequences because beliefs shape actions. I regard Christianity as just as unbelievable as the Aztecs’ religion. Yes, there is a difference between the two; Christians don’t murder people as part of their religious observance. This doesn’t make Christianity any more true than the belief in Quetzalcoatl. It doesn’t make the beliefs of Christianity any more respectworthy, either. Beliefs do not automatically deserve respect. There is no right not to have your false beliefs challenged, nor should there be.

If we’re going to have a society in which intellectual pursuits can flourish, we absolutely require an atmosphere in which beliefs can be freely challenged. The day we cannot challenge beliefs, irrespective of their content, is the day freedom and the pursuit of knowledge have died.