Vern barn mot politisk flått

Henrik Vogt

I HELSEVERDENEN ligger det store muligheter for å utnytte andres frykt, usikkerhet og ydmykhet til å selge egen skråsikkerhet.

Av: HENRIK VOGT

 

Alternativ medisin i media.

3. juni 2012. Et barn ser mot oss fra VGs forside. Overskriften:

”BARN FEILTOLKES AV LEGER: HODEPINE VAR FLÅTTBITT”

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Change Your Mind

It has been said that the only people who never change their minds are the dead and the insane. Some clever person said that, I think. It is also a truism that you can never change your mind online. You are too emotionally invested, and don’t want to lose face.

Online debating grounds are renowned for their extremes, and speculations have arisen in the wake of the “Internet Tough Guy Turns Real-Life Spree Killer” phenomenon: will you turn into a violent maniac if you surround yourself with sycophantic, disembodied intellects that communicate with you online?

My contention is that you will not.

My reason for saying so is that I have changed my mind a lot over the past few years, ever since I became active online, and I have actually become more conciliatory, more moderate, more tolerant. And that’s saying something.

I used to be a Socialist, among other things. It’s OK to be one; it’s just not for me. I find being one goes directly against my value judgements. But they’re my value judgements. They could even be wrong.

I used to be a radical atheist of the proverbial fire-and-brimstone type. I can no longer be one. It’s incompatible with who I am. But I still like many radical atheists.

You know who changed my mind about those things? People online. Some of them may even read this and remember when I changed my mind. They “won” an argument with me. Actually, that’s not fair to say – an argument is really won when a person understands a better way to live in reality in concord with their own principles.

To those of you who changed my mind: thank you for winning me over. I owe you.

Fleip eller fakta?

Streiftog

For litt over en uke siden la en venn ut en lenke på facebookprofilen sin – en artikkel fra et amerikansk nettsted der en tidligere ansatt i Verdensbanken forklarte hvordan banken i dag var dominert av et lite antall tett sammenknyttede og dypt korrupte finansinstitusjoner. I følge ”fløyteblåseren” Karen Hudes hadde disse ikke bare skaffet seg mer eller mindre kontroll over det meste av verdens ressurser. De hadde også kontroll over media, og brukte dette til å hindre at deres egne lyssky virksomhet ble avslørt.

Om min venn – som arbeider i en halvstor norsk mediebedrift – hadde googlet litt før hun la ut lenken, er det mulig at hun ville ha funnet et par problematiske ting med både artikkelen, intervjuobjektet og nettstedet.

For det første er det vanskelig– for ikke å si umulig – å finne troverdig informasjon om Hudes, eller om hun i det hele tatt har arbeidet…

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Summertime

Summer.

You know you love it. I took some pictures of it.

At first, I thought it would never come.

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We made the best of it, though, and this place is never ugly.

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Even drains have their own aesthetic.

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And then…

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The sun rolls out, and we head for the beach!

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Helena enjoyed frolicking in the sun and the surf!

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Later yet, some gardening. Our backyard was a mess.

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So I cleared it out.

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Quite a bit of rubbish.

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And then we make a terraced garden and plant stuff.

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Just look at this panorama! Maybe some island-hopping?

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So be it. We’re off to Heart Island, ten minutes away by shuttle.

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It’s not a bad place to wander.

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Or to chase your sister.

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Or even dear old dad.

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There are even swings.

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As we head back to town, we see a piece of local architecture I don’t appreciate nearly enough.

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But let’s take a walk just five hundred metres into the forest by our doorstep.

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Wherein we found a cave, a holdover from WWII.

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I could have posted pictures of me joining a gym and working out, but it would just be pictures of a grown man throwing up and lying down a lot. You have better things to do with your time.

Cultural Christianity and Church Identity

I wrote this in late January. Can’t find my English translation at the moment, but since there is no wealth like knowledge, I urge anyone reading this to work their way through it.

Den 19. august 2011 skrev Anne Holt i Dagbladet at hun regnet seg selv for å være ‘kulturelt kristen’, et begrep som har fått stadig økende popularitet, og som brukes hyppig i det offentlige ordskiftet. En av de fire «ateismens ryttere», Richard Dawkins, har endatil stått frem som kulturelt kristen.
Denne betegnelsen beskriver angivelig en form for identitetsbinding mellom individet og kirken som ikke er avhengig av at man tror på Gud. Man definerer altså sin egen identitet gjennom tilhørigheten i et religiøst samfunn uten religionen. Hele beveggrunnen for at det nevnte religiøse samfunnet eksisterer – troen på Gud – er altså forbigått.
Her er det noe jeg ikke skjønner. Man ønsker en slags tilhørighet i et samfunn hvis grunnleggende premiss er at man enes i troen på Gud, men man vil ikke med nødvendighet stille seg bak dette premisset. Absurditeten i dette er temmelig åpenbar.
Samtidig er det mange velformulerte og gjennomtenkte personer som har talt «de kulturelt kristnes» sak. «Du kan ikke nekte for at det norske samfunnet har vært kristent i tusen år,» sier de. Nei, jeg hadde sett ganske dum ut hvis jeg forsøkte å påstå at Norge hadde vært uten statsreligion de siste århundrene. Det er heller ikke poenget. «De kristne verdiene ligger til grunn for det norske samfunnet,» sier de. Hvilke verdier? Nestekjærligheten? Omsorgen for de svake? Forbudet mot å jobbe på søndag? Man skal ta seg i akt for slike sveipende, altomgripende utsagn som at «Norge er et kristent land», for man blir nødt til å kvalifisere dem.
Mye av denne debatten bærer preg av at ingen har lyst til å definere hva som omfattes av kulturbegrepet, og om religion kan anses som tilstrekkelig og nødvendig premissleverandør for en nasjons kultur. Det hele bærer preg av den samme runddansen som har preget det norske nyhetsbildet den senere tiden; man utber seg en definisjon på hva som er ‘norsk kultur’, og hvordan den norske kulturminister Hadia Tajik kan ivareta denne.
Hva er det som gjør det så innmari mye bedre å legge definisjonsmakten på kultur i hendene på kirken enn hos vår muslimske kulturminister? Hvorfor skal noen av disse ha forrang? Hvordan inngår man i en religion på kulturelt grunnlag?

Jeg har fortsatt til gode å lese en ENESTE god, tilstrekkelig og nødvendig definisjon på hvem som er «kulturelt kristen.» «Vi er alle kulturelt kristne,» sier de. Til og med muslimene? Ateistene? Richard Dawkins? Anne Holt?
Jeg foretrekker å kalle dere det dere er: kristenfans. Det er greit å være kristenfans. Men dere kan la være å inkludere alle andre i klubben deres, som om dere hadde noen definisjonsmakt over dem.

How To Shave

I wasn’t blessed with sons, and since I don’t think teaching my daughters how to shave their pits and legs is very manly, I’ll just have to teach the Internet.

Take one unshaven punk.

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Yeah, you’ll do.

Now, find something sharp.

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Sure, why not.

Next, apply lather. Lots of lather.

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Looking good. Now scrape it all off. First with the hairs, then against. Leave eyebrows. Very important.

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Good, good. The jugular is tricky to shave. Go easy.

One trip to the emergency room later, you should look like this:

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Because we shave one side of the head at a time. We just do. Because screw you, that’s why.

End result:

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Because now you no longer look like a hairy knob end, but a shaven one.

An improvement, I’m told.

Good luck.

The Scientific Method, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned How to Love Hard Science.

“Science doesn’t have all the answers! It shouldn’t be the way we try to solve our problems!”

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard people express their skepticism towards science, I would be a wealthy man. Scientism, it is claimed, leads to a colder, heartless society in which our humanity will be lost.

Horseshit.

Science works precisely because we are human. Science is a way to approach objective truth by employing strict experiment design routines, parsimonious theory formulations, stringent data analysis and meticulous scrutiny of our own work. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

I freely admit that when I studied philosophy of science at university I was more concerned with how my study group had a high percentage of females, but I have since come to appreciate the elegance of the scientific method. The scientific method as we know it is a fairly new invention, although its previous incarnations were important steps on the way. Since Thales of Milet decided to question reality all those thousands of years ago, we have been steadily at work, formulating new and better ways to establish something close to facts.

The thing we all need to understand about science is that, very simply, it isn’t about what we can prove – it’s about what we can’t disprove. This distinction is very important.

You see, one of the major problems of science the way it existed before our current stage was that it allowed for unparsimonious theories to abound. All the prospective scientist needed to do was to indicate some congruence between his hypothesis and the accrued data, and hey, presto! – science. Scientific facts.

We set down the rules very basically: make a prediction, test it against reality and/or lab conditions, interpret data and formulate a theory. Either the hypothesis is strengthened or weakened. Very simple, right?

However, this is where I will piss in your cornflakes: the highest degree of scientific accuracy is established by employing critical faculties. We actually try our hardest to disprove our own theories. To the up-and-coming scientist, this may seem like killing one’s own babies, but it really is the best way to ensure certainty. Besides, if you have established a theory and haven’t been stringent enough in proofing it, you can bet your ass the next guy will relish the opportunity to take it apart. He may even make some brownie points doing it. This may buy him future funding.

So what about those entrenched scientific truisms and tropes we hear about, like how Big Science is withholding or suppressing cures for cancer, AIDS/HIV, Ebola, the Nile virus and a partridge in a pear-tree? Like how vaccines contain mercury, liquid cancer, aborted fetuses and the tears of child labourers forced to endure the most horrible of vicissitudes every single moment of every single day? I wish I could say I was sorry to burst that particular bubble, but I’m not. Truth is robust. The truth is resistant to slander and outright lies. Because the truth doesn’t care about your opinion.

One excellent example of truth winning out is Richard Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment, in which he amply demonstrated how evolution does take place in living organisms, thus proving creationism and intelligent design proponents wrong. This, of course, was no obstacle to them, and they blithely carried on, rehashing old, long-falsified claims as though they were true.

You see, no matter how much we would like reality to behave in one way or another, it doesn’t care. It. Does. Not. Care. Reality will simply unfold before us, and it is up to us to design ever stronger theories to explain it and build an ever stronger understanding of reality.

But what separates good science from bad science? Well, to put it simply: the good science works. It can be tested, it can be picked at, it can be attacked and it will not be any less true. Reality is that which does not go away when we stop believing in it.

(I know that many of my fellow skeptics apply the same Ockham’s Razor to religion, dismissing all religious claims as unfalsifiable bunk, but this is one area where I will simply disagree. Religion is far more complicated than a simple yes/no question, and I for one have decided to support religious freedom.)

So basically, what we do know about science is that it progresses with time, and it gets more precise with time. It does not, I repeat NOT, care what you, I or anyone else thinks should be true. Of course, there are abuses of the system even in our time, and people suppress or hide findings to promote their own agenda, but this can only be compared to pissing your pants to keep warm. You will be found out, and when you are found out you will be discredited and no one will listen to you again.

Unless, of course, you are a practiced quack with an agenda and devoted followers who have invested too much into your crackpot theories to accept anything less than being completely right. Then you are fucked. Doomed to an existence of science denialism, opposing scientific progress at every turn, working hard to prove black white and up down. Ben Goldacre has written extensively about this, and I strongly urge anone who has bothered to read this far to check him out. Some of the science denialist stories almost seem too insane to be true, but the worst part is that they’re not.

Science, in its purest form, isn’t about fiddling about with something delicate or fragile. It’s about building increasingly robust edifices and trying to destroy them. Only when we fail to destroy them can we say we are successful. This is why science is perfect for humanity. It will progress both thanks to our increasing scientific ability and our inherent human weakness.

Of course science isn’t everything. Of course it doesn’t know everything. Of course it doesn’t dictate values. It simply tells us what is the closest thing we have to truth.

And don’t you forget it.