Does Reality Matter? #reality #science #politics #dnc #rnc #reason

Hartwig HKD

Hartwig HKD

I usually stay away from politics on this blog, but America’s two major political parties have their conventions in July so it’s hard to resist. The Republicans are done and the Democrats are about to begin. Conventions are an opportunity to revel in the echo chamber, to be surrounded by those who agree with you.

And to ignore facts in favor of politics.

I was reminded of that by a piece in Live Science. This article fact-checks truthiness in the Republican platform but I don’t doubt you’ll find similar fabrications when the Democrats issue their platform. It seems that anyone zealously bound to a position is immune to information. Each extreme dismisses different facts, but they both do it.

Even a depressing reality is better than a fantasy however pleasant, because reality wins in the end. I try to read multiple opinions and fact-checks, and to be ready to change my mind. It takes conscious effort.

Once a human being embraces a position, proofs and facts are abandoned, and showing a person contradictory facts just makes them more angry and more determined to dig in deeper.

That’s because we are each grounded in moral foundations deeply important to our vision of who we are – more important than any fact.

Friendly relations, commonality, and trust make it easier for people to listen to each other. More important than presenting facts is establishing bonds with people before you try to convince them. Try it. You might both see the issue in a new light.

I read a book with insight to this aspect of human behavior and reviewed it here for a friend’s blog. I also posted a piece on how to talk with people who disagree with you: Don’t be a jerk.

Keep in mind what Carl Sagan said:

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

This is why science inspires me and also why I’m optimistic about the future. Let your open heart lead to an open mind and we can build a better world.

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Like #Houdini, James Randi Entertains and Exposes Frauds #magic #skeptic

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

I love magic – real magic done by slight of hand and misdirection, not camera tricks. There have been several TV shows recently that revealed some of the tricks of the magic trade. Penn & Teller are well known for this, and for their dislike of bullshit.

Now there’s a documentary coming out about the Amazing (James) Randi, a venerable magician who, like the famous magician Houdini, has been debunking psychics and frauds for decades. There’s a challenge on his site randi.org offering a million dollars to anyone who can prove something paranormal. Randi’s team has evaluated claims of psychic powers, ESP, dowsing, magnetic humans, astrology, faith healing, and more. He says that scientists are ill-prepared to evaluate such claims – you need a magician to catch a magician; or a well-meaning person who has fooled themselves. As Richard Feynman said, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” So far no one has claimed the prize, but it will truly be amazing if someone does – a breath-taking surprise to science. I’d love to see that, but sadly, so far, the paranormal is home to superstition.

RANDI

James Randi

It may be harmless entertainment to read your horoscope every day, but superstition can cause harm, can even kill. What intentional frauds do is immoral, sometimes illegal, so I applaud Randi. But I do disagree with him on one point. He says, people don’t really want to know how a magic trick is done, it bums them out. Not me – I am even more amazed when I see how I have been tricked (I’m always tricked – I can never figure out magic), and still enjoy seeing the trick again. I can love magic, science fiction, and fantasy, and yet live in the real world. Reality, after all, is pretty amazing. Besides, no matter how hard you believe, reality always wins.

I don’t see the release details yet, but watch for the documentary. StrictlyDocs.com

BTW – Penn and Teller have a new TV show on the SyFy channel: Wizard Wars which promises to take “viewers behind the scenes of magic by challenging a new team of magicians each week to create the most jaw-dropping illusions.” The episodes I’ve seen so far make me realize that magicians spend a lot of time perfecting their routines – and the show doesn’t allow them that time. But I’ll keep watching.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller

 

Reality is No #FlatEarth #science #poetry #poem

Thanks to Isaac Asimov’s inspiration.
Reality’s a Messlight-prism
A sphere is the most perfect shape
But Earth’s an oblate pear.
Beautiful orbits are circular but ellipses are what’s there.
A species should be distinct,
Breed true, you must concur.
But as lineages move through time distinctions start to blur.
The speed of light is constant,
As every student knows,
But that’s only in a vacuum or we wouldn’t have rainbows.
Nuclear forces strong and weak
With charged particles unite.
By when will gravity join in and stop the physics fight?
Perfection is what’s beautiful
But reality stands the test.
Reality will always win,
And reality’s a mess.