“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? -Medicine.” -Tim Minchin
I hate alternative medicine. Absolutely despise it. I hate it not because of some belief that our current system of treating patients is flawless, nor because of a belief that medicine should be defined by pharmaceuticals, nor that all our current treatments are evidence-based and all-encompassing. No, the reason I hate ‘alternative’ medicine is that it implies a separation where there absolutely is none. It’s a meaningless, confused misconception that splits a common goal into two ambiguous non-categories. The goal of physicians is to care for patients and no concerned doctor is going to deliberately exclude any evidence based treatment at the risk of harming a patient. Continue reading Alternative to what?
Tonight, while watching a video of ISIS destroying 3000 year old artifacts in Mosul, Iraq, I found myself feeling sickened, wondering in what world could these actions possibly be justified? And the only thing I can conclude is that rationally, they cannot. I think the most common anti-science argument that I encounter is that it can be tailored for an agenda, or that the same evidence can look different in different context or from different views. Honestly, at this point I hardly have enough composure to put together a rational post, so please forgive me. I’m tired of war. I’m tired of senseless violence and people dying over cosmic entities and nationalism. There is no way the actions of ISIS can be justified without the use of a cosmic excuse. And yet, all the good in the world can be easily justified by science, by altruism and reciprocation without implementing arguments from faith. We cannot simultaneously excuse our own irrational beliefs and condemn those of another group. We need evidence for our actions. There’s no way around it.
It is a common mistake to believe someone arrived at a life predicament because of their own choice. But when we reflect on our own lives, we see them more empathetically, forgiving the small mistakes and acknowledging that they weren’t conscious choices. They were merely results of incidents, different circumstances that led to our failure; this is a universe guided by molecular collisions, by determinism, and we are not at fault for our situation. Continue reading My egotistical pedestal: On determinism
There are two types of opinions with respect to science: that it can be used to explain everything and the alternative that its scope is limited. I know a lot of us are tremendously resistant to the belief that science can explain everything. We crave mystery in our world and we often believe science takes that away. But what sometimes we fail to realize about science is that more often than not, it creates mystery where there previously was none, it creates questions more than answers. Scientists themselves are fueled by the mystery surrounding our universe and the entities within it. It is exactly the lack of knowledge that drives them. But they base their search on the premise that knowledge can be obtained, and that is why they keep looking. Continue reading Science!
A few weeks ago after a medical school interview in Tucson I drove up to the Grand Canyon for a couple days of backpacking. I arrived at the deep abyss in the twilight hours with a golden moon lighting the ridges in the valley. It was awe inspiring, humbling, and overwhelmingly beautiful.
Continue reading A great flood or millions of years of erosion?
Having recently ventured into the mystical land known as “the real world,” several ideas and curiosities have come to my attention. I am naïve in this world, distant from my previous home full of obnoxious party goers and dedicated academics. In this world, there are responsibilities and questions of the future. Two subjects keep arising that have grabbed my attention, that of marriage and that of having children. However, the questions are not whether or not to partake in these institutions and obligations. The questions are of when to marry, who to marry, how many kids to have, and what to name them. I started thinking, why would I get married and why would I have kids? Did I consciously decide to marry and have kids or did I simply follow social norms and biological urges? I want questions like that to be answered long before I undertake such dedicated steps in my life. Sure, the challenges are distant still, but why would it ever be too early to question these immense life steps?
Continue reading Why marry? Why have kids?
“Seeing as we are the Universe manifested into self recognition we have the right to explore itself. Stop thinking of us as earthlings but rather, as how Carl Sagan put it, hydrogen given 15 billion years of evolution”
This was a comment posted on a facebook picture about the question of how to manage our space travels and interactions with alien lifeforms. This is amazing statement, and one that with adequate knowledge is not hard to recognize, but is seemingly impossible to grasp. We are exactly that; we are atoms trying to understand themselves. We are the universe trying to understand itself. That is a mind boggling realization and makes me soooo happy to acknowledge it. Continue reading “The Universe manifested into self recognition”
Yesterday I listened to a talk from Sam Harris on the subject of free will. It was a brilliant speech, one that I definitely feel is worth watching and may clarify some elements of my last post. What he is addressing is that not only does free will not exist but that it could not exist, that the concept itself is impossible, that to imagine free will is muddled and intangible. Harris spent a large portion of his speech outlining the benefits to knowing that we do not have free will, how an acknowledgement of this reality could help retain fear but abolish hatred, how it could help inspire a reconstructing of our justice system, and many other reasons for adopting an awareness of our true freedom. I was challenged the other day on my analysis of life and my inspiration in life coming almost purely from a cosmological perspective. While Harris supplied us with an adequate and logical reason for understanding that our thoughts are not our own, I wondered about the benefit of analyzing everything from a cosmological perspective. Continue reading Cosmological significance
Imagine watching nuclear fusion come to be standard as energy on the earth. You stand by as you witness one of the greatest advancements in humankind-the transition to sustainability. Imagine, with the discovery of better methods of space travel, abandoning our terrestrial life to become space-faring, trans-galactic beings. Imagine interacting with beings from another planet, learning their language, their culture, their technology. Imagine studying their biology, making friends on another planet, learning their planet’s history, and having access to information about the universe that we have not yet acquired. Imagine watching our planet develop, new species forming, continents shifting. What if I were to tell you that all of this could potentially happen within your lifetime? Continue reading Biological immortality
This isn’t the first time Bill Maher has pissed me off with his support of pseudoscience. I know he doesn’t give a damn about my opinion, but I’m posting my frustration anyways. It’s often the people who I agree with the most who I am most curious about, and sometimes the most skeptical of. I wonder what their inspiration is, deciding it is less important what people believe, but rather why they believe it. For Bill Maher, I believe he holds a wild double standard. With respect to God, the man says the burden of proof is on the believer. He displaces himself, rightly so, from having to make any statements about his lack of theory. He said it perfectly: “atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.”
The burden of proof can be easily realized using Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy. I could in no way prove to you that there is not a teapot in space orbiting the Sun.
Continue reading Bill Maher’s double standard