Since I started Cork Skeptics, I have had some feedback that “people were getting concerned about me”, as if that they thought I was going to be the next Jim Corr, or something. Oy vey.
So let me be very clear.
- I don’t believe that UFO’s (in terms of aliens) exist or have ever visited us. The vast majority of sightings are explicable.
- I am skeptical of most alternative medicine and alternative medical therapies.
- I think Astrology is a load of rubbish.
- I think the anti-vaccine people have very little to support their arguments and that they are putting children and vulnerable adults at risk.
- Homeopathy is too dilute to have any effect. Save your money.
- I don’t believe in an afterlife, ghosts, apparitions or spiritualism.
- I don’t believe that there are great conspiracies “out there”. In fact, most of them stink to high heaven. Incompetence explains far more and we’re not that great at keeping secrets.
- I don’t believe that prayer or meditation has any external effect whatsoever.
- I don’t believe people can predict the future (above and beyond the use of mathematical algorithms for forecasting), or that they can read minds or any of the other stuff so-called psychics claim to be able to do.
- I don’t believe that dowsing works. Look up the “ideomotor effect”.
- I don’t believe that the climate skeptics / deniers have any way proven their case. The evidence is weighted on the side of man-made global warming, and yes, we should be concerned.
- Creationism? Don’t get me started. It’s delusional. It would be a complete joke except for the fact that a large section of people in the most powerful country in the world accept it on faith. That’s worrying.
There’s plenty more where that comes from.
What do I believe?
- I accept that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming.
- I accept that modern medicine has provided us with truly incredible breakthroughs: vaccination, antibiotics, anti-rejection drugs, to name but a few.
- I believe that human psychology explains a great deal about how we all can be fooled and mislead, and how otherwise intelligent people can be lead down rat-holes.
- I am not cynical about people. Most people are honest and earnest in our work, our interests and our dreams for the future. I believe that people have been capable of extraordinary achievements and that such events should be celebrated, not derided.
- I believe we all make mistakes. Mistakes give us an opportunity to learn something new.
- There are not “two sides of the story” when it comes to established facts. Flat Earth theory is not “an alternative viewpoint”. It’s just plain wrong. Ditto most alt-med, creationism, etc.
- I think we could all do with a course in critical thinking and a better understanding of logical fallacies.
- I am willing to be proven wrong.
- I think we should learn more about probability and statistics. One in a million chances, hell, one in a billion chances will occur, given a big enough population size.
- I am passionate about education. It should never stop. We always have something to learn.
- I accept that our knowledge of many things is woefully incomplete. We have a lot more to understand and hopefully, some day we will get there. I would like to see Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cured in the morning. There is so much we just don’t know, and it’s tragic. I am comforted however, in knowing that there are people out there who have dedicated their careers to solving these terrible problems.
So bottom line? I am fully behind that apparently humdrum, but often surprising and beautiful thing we call reality. If people are getting concerned about that, well, I’m not sure what else I can say.