During a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Oz discussed Reiki — an alternative medicine that Oz says might be the “most important alternative medicine treatment of all.” Oz explained to the audience that his wife was a Reiki master, and from time to time she uses the treatment on him. “I can’t even tell when she’s treating me. Sometimes she secretly treats me,” says Oz. After a brief introduction to this alternative “energy medicine,” Oz introduces Reiki master Pamela Miles. At this point, there is a lady from the audience — with a headache — sitting in a chair in front of Miles. Before Miles treats the headache she explains, “Reiki is a balancing practice, and so rather than addressing the headache or whatever else is the problem, what it does is influences the person’s overall system towards balance.” After a brief intro on basic Reiki, Miles performs her magic, and presto: The lady’s headache is gone.
One of the perks of basing conclusions on evidence rather than whims or emotions is that you tend be right more often. Yes, that sounds like an arrogant thing to say, but face it... the reason we're skeptics is because we love the truth and we're constantly searching to refine it. That tends to make us more informed on any topic than the general public who often seem to go with the flow and not question what they're told. I'm generalizing, but you get the point.
Be that as it may, it's easy to take pride in this fact. "Hey, I've done the research, and I'm right a lot of the time! Look at me!!!" Saying it like that may seem ridiculous, but it's not far from what I've been observing lately. I believe that such an attitude is not only counterproductive, it also ignores the best thing about being a skeptic, and that is... being able to freely say "Oops, I was wrong about that."
On 26 January, 2009, NASA announced that despite several weeks of effort, the Mars Rover Spirit had become stuck in the soft Martian sand and would not move again. The press release came shortly after the sixth anniversary of Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, making it to Mars a few weeks apart in January of 2004. Given the remote location of Spirit, NASA could not give it the Old Yeller treatment and instead “decided” to reclassify it as a stationary science platform.
Spirit and Opportunity were supposed to have mission lives of ninety days. They exceeded expectations and are still active after more than twenty two hundred days.
Richard Dawkins talks about Darwin Day and communicating with the public about Darwinism, and which should be the highest priority: evolution education or widespread skepticism about the supernatural, including theism. He denies that he is strident. He explores concerns over immorality that may fuel opposition to Darwinsim. He explains how creationists are like Holocaust deniers. He describes the benefits of accepting the theory of evolution. And he details lines of evidence for evolution, such as those coming from molecular biology.
For more information and to listen online or subscribe via iTunes, visit forgoodreason.org.
Avoiding personal responsibility used to be clean and simple. Caught red-handed? The devil made you do it. End of story.
But today we have a dizzying array of bogus blaming options. We can choose from rap music, movies, TV, video games, the Internet, Twinkies, genes, society, the neighbor’s kid, our upbringing, the booze talking, atheism, evolution, the definition of “is,” planets, stars, lunar phases, the ever-vague and passive “mistakes were made,” the economy, being an only child, not being an only child, and more. Just keeping track can exhaust the most adept excuse-maker. Call me extreme, but some days I wonder if it might be easier simply to say, “I made a mistake.”
I saved the excuse that accuses my profession for last: “The advertising made me do it.” If you fed your kids fast food until your spouse mistook them for the minivan, blew the budget on a video game system, or bought trendy clothes you didn’t need and that went out of style as you were paying for them, take heart. You can blame us slick advertising people and our so-called hypnotic work.