Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vaccinating Against Ignorance

One of Lisa's friends recently posted a video advocating a new cure for Autism:

So the basic gist is a couple really wanted a baby. They got a healthy baby. The doctor gave the baby evil vaccines that caused autism. The mother did research and found a homeopathic doctor. He cured the baby. He is now asking for your donations to help spread the word.

Clear Enough

I have a few problems with this video. The first being how parents stated in the video that they didn't see any symptoms until 2 months after the vaccinations. It takes less than two weeks for a vaccination to clear a person's system. If there was any damage to be done, it would have happened in those two weeks and would have shown up in that time. Even stretching out the time scale to a month still leaves another month without symptoms. My guess is that the child was going to develop autism with or without the vaccines.

But the studies...

You are right. There have been studies that say they show a correlation, but none have provided solid evidence (Weak Study Example, Article on MMR & the CDC). I do understand how someone could come to this conclusion. Statistics show as number of vaccines have increased the number of autism cases have increased. Also children receive a lot of vaccinations before the age of 5. Nearly all autism cases are diagnosed before age 5 and probably within a few months of a vaccination shot. So it is easy to see how a logical causation theory might evolve. However, the number of wireless devices, tickle me Elmos and complaints about Corporate America have increased during that same time. Children also go to McDonald's, grandparent's houses and have their diapers changed around the time of vaccines. Who's to say none of these are the cause?

OK, what else?

Glad you asked (I might've gone on ranting about the vaccines cause autism thing, I mean don't get me started on Jenny McCarthy. My friend Matt ranted about the vaccines are bad thing, I'm ranting, anyways). She found a book on Homeopathy and thought it looked promising. Really? Is this the same Homeopathy I've heard about? Here's a very good explanation of what Homeopathy is:

I can boil the whole industry down to one word "placebo." Placebos only work when the person they are given to thinks that they should work. Five year olds are not aware of psychological disorders, let alone having one. Also if it is in fact autism then the problem is caused a chemical imbalance or a genetic disorder. Either way it slows the development of certain parts of the brain causing a problem that cannot be fixed by a diluted solution or any other medication. That would be like trying to fix someone cut off at the knees with a pill. Unless you have a leg growing pill, that would be handy.

So, it worked.

Did it? Or did it work like a placebo on the parents? The child improved (which is totally awesome). I don't think it was the Homeopathic Acupuncturist (which is, by the way, not a doctor). If you take the Homeopathic remedy for a headache and you get better it doesn't mean it was the "Headache Medicine." On the box of homeo-aspirin it says it might take up to 12 hours to take effect. The average headache is gone within 12 hours.

But, the Testimonials.

They're just that, testimonials. I can say anything I want about a product. I can even create circumstances where people will believe and repeat what I say about the product. It does not, however change the fact that it is wrong and does not work. Learn for yourself if the information is true. An informed person is a safe person. Unless you've intercepted top secret Mafia/FBI/KGB/LDS/CIA/MSN/TLA papers, then you're in big trouble.

Be sensible.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The LDS Church Supports Gay Rights

On Tuesday (Nov 11th, 2009) the Salt Lake City Council passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and educational institutions. Being that these ordinances involve equal treatment of gay and trans gendered individuals it is easy to assume that the LDS Church opposed them.


Salt Lake City SkylineYes, not only did the church not oppose them it actually gave it's support on the issues. You heard me right. The same church that supported a ban on gay marriage supported anti-discrimination laws for the same community.


That would be one word folks would use. Some groups used other words:

  • Affirmation: "...applauds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for endorsing the employment and housing non-discrimination act...It is commendable that the LDS Church is taking a step toward living up to its own teachings"
  • Equality Utah: "This is a great step"
  • Bishop Robinson (Gay Episcopal Priest): "And I think this may be the first gentle melting of what has been a pretty solid opposition on their part, and I really congratulate them for that."

Comin' Round

All this is fine and well. It doesn't surprise me a bit. Where I start running into a snag is when I hear statements like "the Mormon Church was at least at the very beginning of rethinking their stance," "it's nice to see them finally coming around," and my favorite "Proposition 8 was a big black eye for the church and now they are trying improve their image." This shows that most people don't know very much about the LDS Church.

The decision to support these ordinances fits right in with all our other doctrines. The late Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley has always counseled against hate and discrimination. In letters read in General Church meetings the leadership advocated to love our opposition. Even our own Articles of Faith state that people should be able to live according to their own conscience.

And the political stuff?

We have the unique opportunity in this country to not only vote our conscience, but to help persuade others to do the same. The LDS Church still does oppose gay marriage, as it always has. It still supports being civil with our brothers and sisters, as it always has. As for saving face, they don't care, they have never cared about what the rest of the world thinks about them. The LDS Church has never changed their doctrine to look good or to gain more members. They will, from time to time, become indignant or annoyed at other people's thoughts, but who doesn't. Such is the state of men.

Be aware.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shredded Logic

I made a post in my other blog that was more consumer oriented, but I thought it had some skeptical elements as well. Go and read Consumer Lesson #5.

Be discriminating.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This Friday

I've never been one to memorialise anything. Other people's pain to me is just that, other people's pain. So, 8 years ago, when a tragedy happened thousands of miles away I reacted the same way I always do. I noted the tradgedy and went on with my day. The problem was the rest of my world couldn't seem to let this one go.

The terrorist attack that hit the United States on the 11th of September 2001 seemed to linger on, and on, and on, and on. I really couldn't appreciate the true tradgedy of the disaster. Especially when other disasters were happening around the world. January 2001, 20,000 people died in India as a result of and earthquake, torrential rains and mudslides Venezuela 1999 killed 15,000, the North Korean famine from 1995-1998 killed an estimated 1,500,000 and no one was broadcasting it on TV on some channel 24 hours a day.

Now that the infamy has had sufficient chance to fade I am able to think about it without wincing. It was terrible, it was trajic and it was done to civilians. How weak. Worst of all, it was in the name of religion. How sad.

Here is a video placed on the LDS website commemorating the event happening this week (Spanish):

Hopefully we learned what we needed to from this experience. Some things are important (family, friends, our fellow men, etc.) and some are not (hate, ignorance, bigotry, etc.). If we're lucky, we can tell the difference.

Be peaceful.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mormon Skeptics: Guest Post / Blog

I've had a few requests for information on Guest posts so I thought it would be a good idea to put guidelines for people to follow if they would like to create a guest post for this blog.

First I should state the purpose of this blog: To be skeptical from a Mormon viewpoint. Just because a person is religious does not mean they cannot apply critical thinking to everyday situations. So I try to find things either significant to religion, science or critical thinking in general and write about those things. Unlike a lot of skeptical blogs this one is not about tearing other people down though it might seem that way sometimes (see: Rant). It's all about clarity and information, so positive spins are appreciated.

I will review all articles before posting them. I might change the title or links to increase they're relevancy (SEO is my day job). I will add an image if you do not provide one. Feel free to submit information to guestposts ,at, Give me a couple of days to get back to you since I don't check my home email nearly as often as my work email.

Update 01/15/2012: I will be adding a link rel="me" pointing to your author page for guest posts. If you put a link back to the post or blog on your author site your picture will appear in Google for searches that include your post.

Be hospitable.

Friday, June 5, 2009


There is a movement in our society pushing us toward a more uneducated union. It's not being directly advocated for by any group in particular. This is more of a side effect of some cultures, religions and celebrities and I want to talk about it.


No More Education ProtestI created that word to describe this phenomena.* It means a movement of people who want to undo education. If you were to ask any group of people if they wanted to undo education they would give you a resounding no. So I don't think this is the direct intention of any group of people. I say group because there are probably individuals that do think this way. This IS America after all. Enough babbling let's get into specific examples:


The medical field is somewhat of an enigma to most of the population. Primarily because it takes so long to gain the necessary knowledge just to "practice" medicine. The average person does not have enough information about the big picture of medicine to make any educated guesses about what may or may not be a good idea. As a result we will sometimes second guess a recommendation that doesn't sound right. Some have taken it too far and say that doctors are trying to hurt us for their own gain. Here are some of the countereducation that is out there:

  • AMA - "the AMA has worked diligently to block much in the way of real progress in order to control medicine and shut out competition." -Natural News

    I've heard this many times. It's usually in response to the AMA's reluctance to support some new, nontraditional type of medicine. Over the years when I've taken the time to look up the arguments on both sides of these issues I always find that the AMA says "Needs more testing." They never outright ban a medicine or procedure unless it is obvious (like feeling the bumps on your head to determine your personality). So what's wrong with asking or a little more scrutiny? I'm sure the answer has something to do with the offended party's pocketbook. Either way their response is to try to undermine society's trust in doctors and traditional medicine. Doctors trained to heal you = bad. Not doctors with no training and a hunch = good. Brilliant.

  • Vaccinations - "the escalation of vaccines [means] the escalation of autism." -Jenny McCarthy

    Whether it's stopping a STD vaccine or trying to connect vaccinations to autism there are people trying to tell us that vaccinations are bad. There is no direct evidence to prove this. There were some studies that point this direction. Luckily there were further studies that showed there was no link between the measle vaccine and autism. The opponents ignore this information and continue to tell us vaccinations are bad. As a result measles are on the rise and children may die. Yay countereducation!

  • Faith Healing - "Homeopathy is extremely effective. When the correct remedy is taken, results can be rapid, complete and permanent." - ABC Homeopathy**

    We all know that some religious leader putting his hands on you does not mean that you stop seeing the doctor. If there is some miraculous healing then the doctor's confirmation is icing on the cake. I am seeing a new type of faith healing that does not involve religion. It's called Alternative medicine and it includes homeopathy, ancient (insert culture here) remedies and dietary healing. Most of them don't provide any targeted medicine and rely on the regular healing time to show their products effectiveness (ie. cold remedies saying they take 2-4 days to work when it takes 2-4 days to get over a cold anyway).

    The problem here is they want you to try these remedies instead of going to the doctor which isn't a problem when you have a cold, but what about if you have cancer (search cancer natural remedies**)? Many cancers are highly treatable if you actually go to get the treatment. The countereducation here is again to distrust the people most highly trained to help.


Science has given us radio, Television, high gloss printing, the Internet and computers which have in-turn delivered all the information necessary to distrust the very system that brought us these things. Discoveries about the world around us have been coming at an increasing rate and, often enough, previous results were found wrong by new findings. We see this all the time on the News and for some reason, instead of saying "cool! We learned more about our universe" the masses seem more likely to say "see, science is wrong again." Here's what I mean:

  • Physics - "My own calculations have shown that it is quite plausible that these little black holes survive and will grow exponentially and eat the planet from the inside." - Otto Rössler

    Yup, the world's gonna end and the CERN is gonna do it. Really? 20 countries spent 4.4 billion on the project and failed to do the math? Greed should tell you that if politicians are gonna set aside that kind of money for anything they're gonna make sure it's not a waste to begin with.

  • Dating - "radiometric dating has serious problems" -ChristianAnswers**

    Sorry, it wasn't the kind of dating you were thinking of. So, radiological scientists are full of crap and are scrambling to justify their funding. If there was one small group that measured the dates of everything and we all had to accept their ruling I would agree with this assessment.

    The truth is there are hundreds of labs capable of doing this work and they all double check the work of the others. Also the theories behind the process are tested, retested and confirmed. All these different sources have independently arrived at the same conclusions. If everyone who counted a basket of apples said there was 7 apples, then it is easy to conclude there are 7 apples in the basket. Even if you're not an apple expert.


There is a need to debunk our educational system. When speaking with people who do well despite their lack of education they will often brag about how they didn't need a degree or that they make more than someone else who has a degree or even that a degree is entirely unnecessary in the real world. I don't mind that they think they've done all right without a degree, but there is no need to denounce the whole institution.

I have known the children of these types of people. Many of them think the same way as their parents and have not pursued an education. Sometimes they do well and often they don't. Their situations would have been avoided if they had only pursued a higher education. Unfortunately they tend to behave as their parents further spreading the misinformation. There are further examples.

When I was in Chicago, in the hood, I often observed a culture of failure. They believed they would fail in life either by not receiving opportunities (lotto, inheritance, reparations, etc.) or by having opportunities denied (by the man) or by not being good enough to get an "out" (by being a Rap Star, Athlete etc.). They also believed that success was rare and that they had no control over it.

Yay stupid!

The Rap Culture, Redneck Culture, Barrio Culture have all filtered their way into the American conciousness for good or for bad. The bad is the celebration of stupidity.

  • Rap Culture - I worked with a missionary that had good diction and a large vocabulary. He was even tempered and intelligent. He was also black and was shunned by black people as being too white. By the same token, if you don't speak like an uneducated black person you are without street cred. You could never hang with rap crews. In fact, the more stupid things you have done (murder, theft, raketeering, pimping, etc.) the more cool you are in the Rap Community.

  • Rednecks - Despite the fact we all like to laugh at Redneck jokes there are a lot of similarities to the Rap Culture. The more stupid you are, the more people want to emulate you. Jackass would be a good example of this. Pro wrestling would be another.

  • Celebrities - What used to be a part of the previous two paragraphs has developed into its own culture. We watch celebrities with too much interest wanting to be just like them. The stupider the better. To such an extreme that the TV Neworks got wise and invented Reality Shows. Now we can be celebrities, just as stupid and without the money.

The fix?

No DerI don't know. I usually come up with suggestions before I post the blog, but not this time. I could offer that we should all support education and help to educate all those around us. I guess if we did we wouldn't have contestants for Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

Be educated.


* The major root is educ which means to draw out something hidden (similar to deduce). Add -ate (to do or done) and -ion (turns it into a noun) at the end and we get education which means the results of drawing out that which was hidden. Now we arrive at the problem I mentioned above and I add counter- (against, opposite) to mean undoing education. Tack on an -ism and it's a system of belief.

** No link, I don't want to help them out by linking to them.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Civil Wrongs

It seems that New Hampshire has jumped on the Gay Marriage bandwagon. Just like many other states that passed "Man & Woman" marriage laws. Also, like many of those states, the Supreme Couurt nullified the law and put in their own law allowing gay marriage. The reason they use to justify their actions is that the "Man & Woman"* marriage law was unconstitutional. I would like to quickly address three of these issues:

  1. Unconstitutional - There is nothing in any of these states constitutions about marriage. That is why the law was originally put on the ballot. So the only justification they have for their judgement is that since it is not in there it is not constitutional. Really, that's it. My speeding tickets, sales tax and not eating ice cream on Sundays are also unconstitutional. Hey, we should challenge the speeding laws!

  2. Civil Rights - The underlying defense the court justices also cite is that civil rights are at stake. We are all born with things that we have no conrtol over and there should be civil rights to protect these attributes. For example:
    1. Brain - We're born with it and everyone's brain is unique. Consequently we will all have different ideas and opinions. The first amendment protects this as well as portions of other amendments.
    2. Body - We have a body and it should be protected. There are many civil rights that touch on this including the Fourth Amendment, anti-abortion laws, the 13th Amendment & 18th Amendment.
    3. Progeny - We reproduce, awesome! There are many of laws that protect this.
    Gay marriage falls under none of these. Who and what we are attracted to is not determined by existence, but by the choice of the individual.* The protection afforded choices by individuals is only that they are allowed to make the choice.
  3. New Law - This is what I find most offensive. Not only are these supreme courts going against the will of the people, but they are making new laws. Wouldn't that be nice if we could just get a committee and have them just give us all our laws? No, that would be a oligarchy which is also similar to a dictatorship, sovereignty or communism. That is exactly what we were rebelling against when we founded this country.

So I fully disagree with these rulings, but hopefully they piss off their public enough to do the right thing and vote in a constitutional amendment. Then it will be constitutional.

Be legal.

* I know that I've left two things hanging here. I will discuss "Why marriage?" and "Choice Attraction" at a later date.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review of LDS Conference 2009

It is a delight as always to hear from the leadership of the Church and this conference is no different. In response to my previous post I'm going to cover some of the highlights of the conference.

We went to the local Stake Building (where we also attend church on Sundays) to watch the morning sessions on Saturday and Sunday. I went alone to the Priesthood session Saturday evening and out for wings afterward with a few church buddies. Mmm...wings. The afternoon sessions we watched at home because we can only handle keeping the kids reverent for 2 hours at a time.

LDS Conference April 2009The topics were tied to the issues of the today:

  • Pornography = Bad
  • Times are hard. Prepare for the long haul.
  • Be good.
  • Look for the good in the world.

Only one of the talks really stuck out for me, but for very obscure reasons. I approach my religion very logically and every once in a while I come across a loose end in my head that needs tying up. The talk given by Elder Scott cleared up one for me on the salvation of little children. It wasn't even the point of his talk, but one of the things he said just stuck out and it all cleared up for me.

If you are interested in seeing conference or just one of the talks you can watch Conference Online. For my crowd I suggest the talks of Dieter F. Uchdorf and Jeffrey R. Holland. They tend to appeal to the academic.

Be receptive.

Monday, March 30, 2009

LDS Conference

This weekend starts the 179th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So many people aren't really sure what this is and even more have no clue that it exists. I'll take the time to explain what it is.

Thomas S. Monson at General ConferenceFirst some orginizational structure to help explain the conference. At the head of the Church is the Prophet (Thomas S. Monson). He is part of the First Presidency and has two counselors (Henry B. Eyering & Deiter F. Uchdorf). Under them is the quarum of 12 apostles. All of these reside in Salt Lake City, but they spend a lot of their time all over the world. The next tier is the Seventies and there are currently 8 quarums of the Seventy. These are assigned to geographical areas and reside in these areas. The 4th tier in leadership is the Stake Presidents and the Fifth Tier is the Bishops.

Ok, now that we've given some background on the structure of the church leadership we can talk about conference. The main purpose is for the general membership to hear from the Prophet, Apostles and Seventies. The Prophet and all the Apostles speak at every conference. A smattering of Seventies are thrown in to fill out the schedule. After fastig and prayer they prepare talks on current issues, old issues and church direction. There are five, 2 hour sessions of conference. Saturday: Morning, Afternoon & the Priesthood session. Sunday: Morning (geared for non-members) & Afternoon. Incidentally the Relief Society (Women's organization) holds a primer meeting a week before conference.

Conference can be seen at all Stake Centers and some church buildings via satellite. Many local cable companies carry the conference on their public access channels. The BYU channel, available through most digital cable and satellite services, also broadcasts conference.

in my family we have a tradition of going to the church to watch conference and having a picnic between sessions. Even though we can watch it at home I do prefer watching at the building.

It is interesting to note that as the church has grown that technology has grown to keep up with it. When members began to be so spread out that they wouldn't get to conference, magazines sent through international mail brought the conference. When the church was large enough that a significant portion of members would not be able hear it, radio began to be in wide use. When there was a significant number of people who would never see the leadership speak, TV began to be in widespread use. When there began to be a significant portion of members that lived outside the US, satellite transmission became available. Now the entire church can watch the conference at the same time all accross the globe. I am impressed whenever I think about it.

Be one.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Darwin is dead, long live Darwin

200 Years since Darwin died. Not long enough aparently. It seems the people of the world are still having trouble accepting the theories that he put forth. Let's talk about the two major ones he used:

A Youn Charles DarwinNatural Selection: This is the idea that over the course of time nature chooses which animals survive and which do not. It's more focused on individual animals than entire species. The selection is if this specific animal is selected to survive or not. Some of the major criteria for selection are:

  • Poor Fitness - An animal might have a defect, did not develop properly or is deficient in some way when compared to others of the species. These sub-prime animals are more likely to be eaten by predators, become ill and are less able to compete for resources with the rest of it's species.
  • Good Fitness - It might have an advantage by being better developed or be better suited to compete for resources.
  • Genetic Traits - Some recessive traits can surface at times that can give an advantage or disadvantage to a particular animal.
  • Disease, Famine & the like - Some animals in a species will be better suited to survive these events and some are not.

All of these processes favor one individual over the other ensuring that the animals with the best traits have the highest probability of survival. Polar Bears are a good example of this right now. Those bears that have learned to fend for themselves on land will do better than those who still cling to the water.

Evolution: This is the aggregate effects of Natural Selection. Here are some key processes of evolution:

  • Inheritance - The animal that has the best odds of surviving to adulthood will pass on its genetic material. These could be considered the "winners" of the Natural Selection game. As time passes the winners will outbreed the losers and the species will look more like the winners.
  • Adaptation - Since an environments play a key role in the Natural Selection odds game, a species will slowly change to fit its environment. If swimming is an advantage then only the best swimmers win.
  • Evolutionary Tree - If a species is in two different environments the winners for each location will have different traits. If this goes on long enough you will have to call them two different species.

So eventually all species will evolve as time passes. Darwin obsserved this at the Galapagos Islands. He watched the finches. Some had long beaks and some had short. When a drought came only the hard seeds were available and those birds with long beaks had trouble opening these seeds. The short beaked finches had less of a problem so they were the winners and because there were more of them on the Island. If the drought continued long enough only the short beaks would survive.

So how does this relate to religion? Well if all species evolve from a lesser evolved version and that animal in turn evolved from a lesser evolved version then it stands to reason that if you go back in time you will find that similar species evolved from a more generalized species. It also stands to reason that if you go back far enough that you will find that all species evolved from a single form of life. This idea that all life came from the same origins is now called Darwinism. It completely throws out the whole creation thing. If Adam and Eve descended from early hominids then God saying Alakhazam! is all wrong.

And there it is, the evidence is overwhelming and it doesn't bother me in the least. Why? No, I haven't disregarded it and chosen to ignore it. No, I haven't come up with some crazy "God was there all along guiding it" scheme. I just realize that nowhere in my beliefs, scripture or by any other authority in my religion has it been stated that evolution and darwinism is wrong. Wait I could be wrong.

Here's a Bible, lemme It's not in there. Lemme check the Book of The prophets? Nnnnnnnnnnnope. That's right it's not there and I'm ok with that.

Be evolved.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gay and Prime Minister

Iceland has a gay Prime Minister, whoop dee doo! It's all over the news. "The first world leader who is gay!" And everyone cheers.

The lovely Johanna SigurdardottirI hate to break all your bubbles, but nothing about any of those statements is true. Johanna Sigurdardottir is not the first gay world leader. There are enough leaders who we suspect were gay in the last two centuries that odds are one of them was actually homosexual. Buzzkill on that one.

Next what is implied is that she has been elected to this position as a "gay" candidate. Far from the truth. First off she wasn't elected Prime Minister, the old one stepped down and she was next in line, but she was a gay candidate right?

Wrong, she originally ran in 1978 with her husband (Þorvaldur Steinar Jóhannesson) at her side. She then did a great job as a politician for over 20 years before she married a woman in 2002. If she had started her career in 2002 as a "gay" candidate she would hever have been elected to the position, but a liberal country of 320,000 people is willing to forgive a lifestyle choice of a good and popular politician.

So this first gay leader is actually the most recent politician to be promoted by someone else's incompetence. Not something that screams wow.

Good on Iceland though for not kicking her out in 2002.

Be informed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I have a theory...

Most people in the US know about of the "Theory of Evolution," the "Theory of Relativity," experienced the "Theory of Gravity" and heard of the "Theory of Intelligent Design." Noticing a theme here? The word theory, however correct its usage might be, has been misinterpreted by a lot of folk and I want to set them straight.

What theory is.

When viewing phenomena or the results of the phenomena a person might see some relation between the different events. The relationship observed might have some reason for the correlation between the events. A person can then come up with their own explanation for why the events work together. This explanation is a theory. At this point the theory is not usually well known because there is no specific proof to establish the theory and because they just came up with it.

Theories can take three courses at this point:

  1. The idea is declared self evident by the creator of the theory and spread around like truth. This is quite often followed up with certain logical proofs that might or might not stand up to scrutiny. If someone does take the time to scrutinize the theory supporters of it will either attack the scrutinizer or dismiss the criticisms given by the same or both.
  2. The originator or their colleagues find ways to test the theory by forming hypothesis and testing them. If enough evidence is given that the theory is correct then the theory is published with its supporting tested hypothesis. This publication is then distributed to people who would care about such things and they test the theory with the same or new hypothesis. If all this testing supports the theory then a new discovery is presented to the world with “Theory” in its name.
  3. The idea is marked “interesting” by the originator and forgotten. It might be discovered later by someone else.

The major drawback to the idea of a theory is that it is inherently not certain. The best way to explain this is that a theory has a probability of being right. As we test the hypothesis related to the theory the probability of it being correct either moves toward or away from 100%. Theories, by their nature can never be 100%. They can be 99.9999% correct, but never 100%.

Oh yeah, but what about…

Two plus two is four, right? Well if I have a cup and I add water to it I have two items. Is it a cup of water? The water and cup are made up of billions of atoms. Are they more than one cup of water? Nothing is certain and that is why people have a problem with theories.

People like certainties. They know grass is green, like macaroni and cheese, CSI is their favorite show, 1+1=2, the sky is blue and Elizabeth Hurley is hot. They don’t want to forget to water their lawn, buy Mac & Cheese at KFC, see Big Bang Theory, pour water in a cup, or see Elizabeth get old. So when the scientific community says “we saw a correlation between these things, came up with a few theories, tested them and found this one to be the most likely with a 97% certainty” people tend to be a bit put out:

“What do you mean 97% certainty?”
“Well, a better revision of our explanation might come along.”
“So why did you tell us?”
“Well we thought it was important. It allows us to predict these other things that might lead to better technology.”
“Develop technology from an uncertainty. How can you build on a shaky foundation?”
“Can you come up with a better explanation?”
“Then this is the best one you have.”
“Yes, but it’s not certain.”
“Augh!” Scientist goes to bang his head against the wall.

Of course!

So far I’ve been talking about theories that take course #2 (above). These would include things like the Theory of Relativity, the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Gravity. Course three would include the Theory of Evolution at least till Darwin got a hold of it. Gregor Mendel saw that his plants could evolve based on natural selection and marked it as interesting. Darwin picked it up later and said this was something more than just interesting.

Course #1 is where we find Intelligent Design. Someone came up with that, supported it with some circular logic and announced it to the world. Then the hypothesis testers got a hold of it and, well, tested it. It didn’t fly. The supporters of the Intelligent Design (who avoid calling it a theory) then dismissed the scientists as bias against their cause and promptly ignored the scientist’s findings. Sad. The Theory of Intelligent Design has a lower chance of being correct than the Theory of Evolution and so therefore we follow the Theory of Evolution. If something else with a higher probability of being correct we’ll follow that. I find this to be unlikely.

Gimmie the odds

Science is all about probabilities. It’s not easy to accept, but think of the things you accept every day that are not certain. Dinner. What if it gets burned? Job. You might get a better offer somewhere else. Girlfriend. Well, you’re not married. Jell-O? Wait, no. You can always be sure about Jell-O.

Be theoretical.