Friday, March 18, 2011

The Skeptics "A-Team" Will Be on Point!

The dedicated skeptic couldn't ask for much more in his or her wildest dreams: all the mighty stars of skepticism assembled in one place (The California Institute of Technology) for a special conference over June 22-24 of this year. All of them will be live and in person, tearing down all the sundry shibboleths, bullshit, and delusions that still plague a (mostly) lost humanity - groping in darkness, and some of whom seek to escape it.

Among those who will be there to lecture:

1) James "The Amazing" Randi, who is the founding director of the James Randi Educational Foundation, and an investigator of paranormal claims. He's also the author of the books: 'Flim- Flam', The Faith Healers, and The Mask of Nostradamus.

The last was featured on a particularly lively appearance on The Larry King Show some years ago, in which he showed none of Nostradamus' claims could be supported, and all were based on subjective interpretation. He also faced off against an Evangelical who insisted the "end times" were approaching, as Randi placed him in about the same category of Nostradamus.

Most memorable part of the exchange: when Randi demanded he give a date and time for the "end" - which the bigmouth preacher refused to do.

2) Michael Shermer, is the founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, as well as a monthly columnist for Scientific American and author of the books, Why People Believe Weird Things and The Science of Good and Evil.

The last book is especially important as it showed there exists a middle way (moral provisionalism) between moral absolutism and moral relativism. As Shermer described it (p. 178):

"Provisional ethics provides a reasonable middle ground between absolute and moral relative systems. Provisional moral principles are applicable to most people, for most circumstances, for most of the time - yet flexible enough to account for the wide diversity of human behavior"

As an example, moral provionalism would not condone all abortions. It would disallow those in the last trimester during which fetal brain waves generally commence and can be measured.

3) Bill Nye - The Science Guy

Is best known for his PBS TV series, "Bill Nye the Science Guy", which won multiple Emmys, including for 'Best Performer', and 'Best Show'. Nye is also an inventor with patents for a baseball retrieval device and a ball throwing technique demonstrator. He is also Executive Director of The Planetary Society.

Some of his most memorable appearances have been in debates against climate skeptics, as well as anti-evolutionists (including those dopes who believe humans and dinosaurs once co-existed). In all those face-offs Nye simply ripped his pathetic opposition to shreds.

4) Brian Dalton, aka "Mr. Deity"

Also the creator of the webshow "Mr. Deity" in which he shows how assorted claims made for a deity are poppycock, in a humorous way. Dalton at one time worked with Jewish Theologians in creating talk radio shows, but questioning god claims led him to a life of skepticism and deep reverence for science as well as the value of critical thinking.

The talents of all these gentlemen will be on full display at Caltech and it will be a pleasure to see how many tin gods, supernaturalist baloney (including "Hell") they dethrone throughout the 2-day event.

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