Posted January 2nd, 2009 in Philosophy. Tags: Introductory-Phil., No Equations, Pedagogy, Quickie.
I have a tendency to get attached to my beliefs, because in a very real sense they’re the only possessions which can’t be taken from me. I’ve poured countless hours of effort into them, whether I derived the belief independently or found them in another person’s writings. I find it easier to be an intellectual parasite in this sense, because independently deriving beliefs is much harder. But some beliefs can’t be easily falsified, so critically examining them is often just as difficult as independently discovering them. Either way, the prospect of abandoning any of my beliefs is painful because it involves admitting I was wrong. I always find that difficult; the shame of admitting my mistake and the difficulty of re-aligning my worldview pose serious challenges. (more…)
Posted November 29th, 2008 in Philosophy. Tags: Introductory-Phil., No Equations, Pseudoscience, Quickie, Religion.
When I was a college freshman, a fiery preacher named Tom Short would stand in a courtyard, evangelizing and arguing with any pedestrian who challenged him. More often than I’d care to admit, I found myself in that courtyard listening to him. It was like watching a car accident– horrible but so fascinating that I couldn’t look away. He spent a lot of time talking about Hell. He casually dismissed accusations that his homophobic rhetoric was indirectly responsible for a recent tragedy– the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard— by suggesting that Matthew was actually killed by other homosexuals. Other frequent topics included the pack of atheistic lies called “evolution,” and the argument that the Earth was only a few thousand years old.
Then one day, I heard him say: “Brontosaurus never existed.” Someone immediately responded: “That’s ridiculous! Of course (more…)
Posted December 1st, 2008 in Philosophy. Tags: Introductory-Phil., No Equations, Pedagogy, Quickie.
I enjoy civilized debates, but only rarely get a chance to engage in them. That’s because in my experience nearly everyone assumes they’re correct, so they only debate to beat their viewpoint into the other person’s head at all costs.
In other words, most people argue to win… and I can’t stand it. Whenever I mention this pet peeve, the response is almost always “Oh, so you argue to lose, huh?” (more…)