Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh it BURNS!

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins recently got a number of idiots to walk on a bed of hot coals. Apparently if you really believe in yourself and release your inner power you won't get burned and if you don't....well, then you get what's coming to you NANCY!

I listened to an interview with one of the believers who did not get burned and he basically blamed the victims. If they don't believe in themselves properly, well, then that's what happens!

From another participant: Carolyn Graves, a 50-year old real estate agent from Toronto, claimed that those who were injured “were out of state,” and thus not in the correct frame of mind to walk painlessly across the fiery floor. She glamorized the event to the New York Times, noting that the fire walk “transformed people’s lives in a single night,” serving as a “metaphor for facing your fears and accomplishing your goals. [Note to self: why am I still so poor when there are so many cretins willing to give away their money? Oh yeah. . . scruples. Damn!]

Now here are two possible explanations for the walking on coals deal.

1. If your feet are sweating or damp you have a layer of that moisture between you and the coals. If you keep moving fast enough the heat won't get through the moisture to your feet. That's pretty simple high school physics. In fact I've seen physicist perform this very demonstration to show how it works.

2, If you "believe in yourself" or are "in state" then I guess this suspends the laws of physics for you. In other words everyone would get burned wet feet or not but belief in yourself suspends that. OK, by what mechanism? If it is a real thing then it works in some real way. How? Explain it. Demonstrate it in a repeatable way.

Well you can't do a controlled experiment and Tony Robbins and others like him (Kevin Trudeau) don't want to do or say anything that CAN be tested empirically.  In this case you can't really measure 'believing in yourself' so as to make two sets of people, those who do and those who don't, and see who gets burned. No, the zeolot lets the phenomena itself, which they made up, determine who has the required level of belief or not which is completely ass-backwards.

Does any of this sound familiar? How about going to heaven. Or hell? Or god sparing a life during a tornado? Or just the all encompassing - God works in mysterious ways. Yeah, so do all snake oil salesmen!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Rainbow

According to the bible the rainbow is God's sign of his covenant with man. That is God's promise that he'll try to control his temper and never again destroy every living thing on the earth except for a few lucky ones. Interestingly, I read a religion blog that seems to think that this is the essence of hope. That God loves us sooooo much that he will only kill 99.999% of us but always leave a remnant of hope. That's the kind of hope that keeps state lotteries going by the way. Forget all the logical problems with Noah and flood myth (Where did the water go? Where did it come from? Really? ALL the animals? How many do you suppose that would be? Only 2 of each. . .that ain't going to work!) and let's just talk about the promise itself.

We were very wicked and had to ALL be destroyed. The animals too for some reason. Seems harsh. Why not invent radio 5000 years ago and get your message delivered a little more efficiently? Wait, are you just crabby because you don't like they way your own creations are behaving? Maybe you should have created them a little differently then. NOPE. They all (save lucky Noah and Mrs Noah who thought she could have married a doctor. Who knew?) have to be destroyed. Were there any good people that got destroyed? Where there any innocent animals that got destroyed? This is the behavior that is supposed to inspire hope? Richard Speck murdered all the nurses in that apartment save one. Thanks Dick!

Now to the rainbow. The rainbow is God's sign of the covenant. Question: were there no rainbows before the flood? It had to rain. The sun had to shine. Given that you're going to get rainbows once in awhile.

When I look at a rainbow (and I do love them) I enjoy those bright primary school colors and the perfect shape of the bow. Through my study of physics and geometry I understand where the colors come from. I can recreate the phenomena in my lab. I understand why they are in the order they are in. I can show why the rainbow occurs at an angle of 42 degrees from the line of the sun. I even can explain why there is a secondary (and even a tertiary) bow. On and on. At no point do I run into a problem where the only path left open is . . . God did it. It just doesn't happen.

And all of this just makes the rainbow more amazing to me. The beauty that it has in itself plus all the layers of understanding that it incorporates when I observe one. Layers and layers of beauty and awe. I don't see this sort of layering if all you got is, "God made it". Done. I guess many among us are drawn to the short simple non-explanation.

Bleeding Virgin Mary

It's been awhile since we've had a good crying/bleeding Mary story and this one, not surprisingly, comes from our friends down south in Baton Rouge, LA. There, a man has a very nice Virgin Mary statue in his front yard (I got to get me one of those...oops, no front yard!). The statue suddenly started bleeding out a hole in the side of Mary's head. It kind of looks like a bullet hole but perhaps not. Of course 'the faithful' are flocking there to pray and to sit on some uncomfortable looking chairs under a little tent to . . . well I guess they're staring at the bleeding virgin. And not surprisingly, the news media are flocking there as well just like they can't resist going to Punxsutawney PA for groundhog day. I've written about these 'miracles' before so lets jump to the bulleted questions.

  • How is this a miracle? What does it really mean to the faithful?
  • Does this support your faith somehow?
  • Has anyone tested it to see if it really is blood? 
  • How is blood coming out of a plaster virgin's head connected to anyone's faith? 
  • I suspect the statue has a metal inner structure and some cracks in the outer facade. That could be rust leaking out of the old girl's head. Does anyone want to know if that's the case? How old is the statue? Was that hole already there and only recently started leaking? Did anyone from the news media suggest that it might be a normal rust event and not a miracle? Is this incisive reporting? 
 Compare this with the recent report of the discovery of the Higgs boson. After years of research, tons of data, peer review up the wazoo, and not reporting until they were more than 99.9% statistically confident, THEN they go ahead with their pronouncement. Gosh that's a lot of work.

But here one dope looks at his statue and says, "That's blood", and there is no follow up question! No testing? No . . . no nothing! What is the virtue in taking wild claims like this on faith?  And let's just stop and fucking THINK for a minute. . . THIS is how the creator of the universe lets you know he (or she) is still on the job? This is a sign from above? Really? This is the best he can come up with. Isn't that a little disappointing if you're one of the flock?

It makes me cringe when they interview the dopes that show up for this kind of event. And, it frightens me when I remember that these same dopes probably vote and they probably vote Republican!