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The fundamentalist believer’s trifecta of sociopathic tendencies:

1. To imagine (and secretly relish the thought)…that eternal suffering awaits anyone who does not believe their religious fantasies

2. To imagine being able to enjoy a blissful eternity…while loved ones are suffering eternal torment (just downstairs)…!

3. To demonstrate a complete abdication of personal critical judgement and morality: I’ve had fundamentalist believers tell me, that if their imagination/god “told” them to murder, rape and pillage…as in the bible…they would be “faithful”…and do it…!!!

People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
—  Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.

If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

Some ideas are better than others. The machinery for distinguishing them is an essential tool in dealing with the world and especially in dealing with the future. And it is precisely the mix of these two modes of thought that is central to the success of science.

—  Carl Sagan on Mastering The Vital Balance of Skepticism and openness

Women are present on skeptic forums in much the same way that women are present in early Star Trek episodes: while the men can take on a variety of roles, the women are always sex characters. Their every attribute is sexualised and objectified. Intelligence in a male skeptic is taken for granted; intelligence in a female skeptic is a turn-on. When a male scientist knows about science, it’s expected and goes unremarked; when a female scientist knows about science, she’s hot! And she’ll be barely visible beneath the throng of nerds trying to fap off over her lab coat.

Too often, the skeptic nerd who tries to display his women-friendly credentials ends up revealing himself only as a sexist creep. He’s all in favour of women, as long as they satisfy his own ideals of what a woman should be. This kind of attitude is typified by the skeptic-oriented webcomic xkcd. “I like nerdy girls”, says Randall Munroe — but can he tolerate any others? I looked through hundreds of his stick-figure strips, god help me, and where his females are characterised at all, they inevitably conform to the same constructed ideal — geeky, quirky, all-knowing, whimsical — an ideal largely constructed around Randall himself, or his own self-image. This female ideal says a lot more about his vanity than his feminism; and it’s an ideal shared by many guys in the skeptic community.

"Never Read the Comments"

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It’s a warning that’s evolved into somewhat of a meme of late, even spawning a Twitter account that provides constant reminders of comment danger.  And one visit to a controversial Reddit thread or YouTube video reinforces that idea pretty well, because ick.

Now there’s some research to support the idea that comment trolling can prevent people from viewing a subject objectively. Chris Mooney has the details at Mother Jones. In essence, we arrive at any article/argument/website as both emotional and rational creatures. But our emotions kick in first, and if readers see a fiery exchange in comment threads, they are primed to be defensive and protect their beliefs in the face of otherwise convincing information.

It’s part of a psychological phenomenon called “motivated reasoning”. It’s behind a great deal of that frustration you feel when people deny strong science positions (and other stuff, like politics) based on their previously-held beliefs. It’s fascinatingly frustrating stuff, and it’s the major hurdle in communicating things like climate change to skeptics.

The challenge of overcoming motivated reasoning isn’t going anywhere, but it appears that reading comment trolls and emotional tirades can make it an even more difficult mountain to climb. Protip: When scrolling down, exercise extreme intellectual caution.

Read Bill’s full account here.

Perhaps there was no winner, as this was not a scored debate. Nevertheless by all, or a strong majority of, accounts, I bested him. The fundamental idea that I hope all of us embrace is, simply put, performance counts as much or more than the specifics of the arguments in a situation like this. I admit that, for me at least, it took tremendous concentration. I was and am respectful of Ken Ham’s passion. At a cognitive level, he believes what he says. He really means it, when he says that he has “a book” that supersedes everything you and I and his parishioners can observe everywhere in nature around us. I respected that commitment; I used it to drive, what actors call, my “inner monologue.” I did not choose, as I was advised, to attack, attack, attack. My actor’s preparation helped me keep things civil and be respectful of Mr. Ham despite what struck me as his thoughtless point of view. I’m sure it influenced the countless people who’ve written to me and come up to me in public to express their strong and often enthusiastic support. Thank you all.

A Simple Brain Theory Endorsed By Bill Gates Claims To Help You Learn Anything…

"A small psychological change to how we approach challenges can dramatically change how successful we are at these tasks.

Students who have a fixed mindset believe their intelligence, basic abilities, and talent are unchangeable. In contrast, people who have a growth mindset think they can develop their talents and abilities through effort, good teaching, and persistence. These people can conceivably learn anything with proper focus. 

…new neural connections are actually formed when you make mistakes. So your brain actually grows by messing up a bit.

People who have a fixed mindset “tend to not handle setbacks well,” Dweck writes in her paper “Even Geniuses Work Hard,” because they believe obstacles “call their intelligence into question.” As a result, these people put less effort into their work and are more likely to blame others for their shortcomings. Those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to succeed at challenges by staying involved and using all resources at their disposal to solve the problem.

Carol Dweck, (is) a psychology professor at Stanford University, who coined the term “growth mindset” in her 2007 book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”

Microsoft magnate Bill Gates tweeted a video of Dweck explaining the growth mindset earlier this week…”

Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh0OS4MrN3E#t=45

From http://www.businessinsider.com.au/carol-dwecks-growth-mindset-theory-tweeted-by-bill-gates-2014-8?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science%2520Select&utm_campaign=BI%2520Science%25202014-08-29&utm_content=emailshare

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Introducing WTF Bible Verse 2015 Calendars: calendars featuring inspirational photos accompanied with Bible verses that make you ask WTF. Both 12 and 16 month calendars available now for purchase at the WTF Bible Verse Store.

16 month calendars start September 2014 if you can’t wait til January!

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