Studies in Mediumship

philosophy, skepticism Leave a reply

As someone who spends a fair amount of time reading philosophy, I find that I have pretty strong commitments to physicalism/materialism (i.e. the physical world is all that there is, and all non-physical things can be reduced to physical objects). I’m also extremely confident that any forces that can affect objects over long distances have already been discovered (i.e. gravity, and electromagnetism), and as such whether psychic powers (of any kind) exist is an answered question: psychic powers are not a thing. Neither is speaking with the dead. Given my stance on physicalism, the concept of a consciousness surviving the death of the brain is just not at all viable.

That said, I’m open to being proven wrong. Not hugely open: anyone attempting to demonstrate the existence of psychic powers, or mediumship, are effectively claiming that all studies to date that have found only four physical forces are in error, and that there is an additional force/energy/whatever that the lump of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen known as the human brain can access (but only some of them), but other lumps of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen cannot. In terms of proportioning the evidence to the claim, this particular claim is going to require quite the mountain of evidence.

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Laundry and Anxiety

Mental Health, personal

I did laundry today.

I can appreciate that this seems like a minor thing. ‘Seriously, Brian? Posting about doing laundry? Ffs…..’

My anxiety has been pretty bad the last couple of weeks. The threat of job loss hanging over my head, alongside dealing with incompetent and unprofessional HR staff (I know, I know, ‘HR staff’ would have been sufficient…..), plus some kind of low-level fever that I’ve had for about a week now……. It’s all pretty difficult. I’m fortunate to have good friends.

‘Doing laundry’ takes me roughly 2 hours. I don’t own a washing machine or dryer, and the nearest coin laundry is 10-15min away, depending on how long I have to wait for a bus. I need to sit there while it runs. So I need to find a day where I can set aside 2hrs of basically doing nothing (there’s insufficient space to do the marking that I’ve committed to doing), and I need to spend some time getting physical cash (because why the fuck would I carry cash when debit is ubiquitous?). For everyone else, this is a bit of a pain in the ass. For someone with anxiety, where every step in this process requires a chunk of additional effort: This. Fucking. Sucks.

[Here’s a visual aid. Imagine, though, that this is required for *every* task. Like going to the ATM to get money. Get clothes into a bag for bringing to the laundry place. Actually going to the laundry place.]

It’s been [a socially unacceptable amount of time] since I did laundry. Y’know that scene in Ghostbusters 2, where Weaver is going to stay over at Murray’s apartment, and she discovers all his unwashed clothes, and he’s like ‘no, no, they don’t smell bad, they’re still good’, and it’s hilarious? It’s not so hilarious when you’re living it. Especially when hygiene is particularly important to you. I mentioned having good friends: if they noticed my situation, they didn’t comment. And I appreciate that.

My local laundry place does a drop-off service. I’m thinking of doing that just to take the edge off my anxiety: I’ll only have to set aside 20-30min twice in a week, about twice a month (2 round trips each time, drop off then pick up), and I won’t need to worry about change. It’ll cost my about $17 a pop, instead of $4, but it might be worth it to ensure that the laundry gets done. (I’ve looked into pickup services: they don’t charge for the pickup, but they charge 2-3 times what my local place charges, and their minimum is often $30-$50)

Anywho. I did laundry today.

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The Irrelevance of the American Presidential Race

culture, politics Leave a reply

At this point, it’s agreed across the political spectrum that the American Presidential race is a disaster of epic proportions. With Drumpf clearly in the lead on the Republican side, much ink has been spilt over how we (or they) have gotten here.

I think that Samantha Bee (on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee) has come out of the closest when she laid the blame at the feet 2010 midterm Congressional elections. She’s absolutely correct that that election is the cause of the deadlock of the US Congress over the last several years, but I think she doesn’t go far enough.

The issue is that Congressional elections matter far more than the Presidential elections, but TV has confused the populace.

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Medication

personal, Poetry Leave a reply
The slightly bitter wetness on my lips,
The sharp cold in my throat;
All preceeds a warming glow
In my centre.
The numbness spreads,
My mind calms.

My medication;
My saviour;
My beer.

Philosophy of science. Again.

culture, Education, philosophy, science Leave a reply

I wrote about philosophy of science back in 2012, and a recent spat in biology has brought this up again. The Wired article “Twitter Nerd-Fight Reveals a Long, Bizarre Scientific Feud” explains the details of that fight pretty well, and I just want to dig into a particular comment that seems to represent the core of the disagreement here.

“They said if you want to use another method, you have to show that it’s philosophically better, not scientifically better,” Eisen says. “That’s why I said it seems like they’re dropping science for dogma.”

and

“I’ve never in my life, in any area of science,” says Eisen, “seen something presented where people said, ‘We’re not going to judge something on the science, we’re going to judge it on the philosophy.’”

Eisen, frankly, couldn’t be more wrong (in principle).

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Heroes of the Storm, and Statistics

Gaming, personal Leave a reply

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block recently, so I thought I’d try writing on a lighter topic: Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm (HotS).

I’ve been playing this game for several months now (just under 1000 games played so far), and I enjoy it a lot. Especially since Blizzard instituted some penalties for trolls, my ingame experience has improved dramatically.

But one thing about the game bugs me: the obsession many players have with “the meta”.

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The Conservative Party and the Upcoming Canadian Election

culture, politics Leave a reply

To briefly post on this:

The choice here in Canada seems to be between the entirely corrupt Conservative party, and pretty much anyone else. Are they corrupt? Well, here’s a list of Federal scandals in Canada, half of which are under the current leadership. More details can be found by googling, and more citations of corruption can be view on this blog.

If you’re voting Conservative, I’m curious as to why? Feel free to leave a comment. Please note that bullshit like ‘the other parties are bad’ just won’t fly here.

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“Go Home Irish” is just Bigotry

civil rights, culture, ethics, History 1 Reply

I’m Irish. I migrated to Vancouver, BC, in May 2006. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the imperialist and colonial history of Canada, mostly because I felt I had a responsibility to understand where I was living. I’m a citizen of both Ireland and Canada, the former by being born there, the latter as my mum was born here.

Over the years, I learned that Canada, like the US, UK and any other country really, is both a nation of immigrants and anti-immigrant. The group that rose to the top were those descended from the British settler group, the White Anglo Saxon Protestants. And while anti-immigrant racism certainly isn’t unique to the British, anti-Irish sentiment seems to be. That came too.

Let me be clear: there is no comparison to be drawn between what happened to the Natives of Canada and the US, nor to Black people. How the Irish (and Italians) are treated in North America is, frankly, cordial when compared to these other groups. That said, anti-Irish racism and bigotry is a thing.

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“Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” is Dishonest

civil rights, culture, religion Leave a reply

Sometimes you really have to wonder what people were thinking when they did something. But then, sometimes that thing is quite extended, and you realise that a *lot* of people were involved, and they *all* had to go along with it for the complete production time. And you start to realise that it wasn’t like that because nobody thought it through: they thought it through, and they were ok with it.

In this case, I’m talking about Catholic Vote, who created a reprehensible video declaring to the world what awful human beings they are.

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Vegetarianism, Skeptics and Cognitive Dissonance

culture, ethics, freethought community 1 Reply

We all have blind spots in our thinking, and sometimes they can be pretty interesting. Other times, not so much. I’ve noticed that when I post an article about vegetarianism on facebook, a number of people can’t help themselves but make ignorant comments, people who I’ve had fairly informed conversations with on other topics. I’m going to use this space to call out that behaviour, and I’ll be blocking out the identities of the people involved (because it’s not about them, but the nonsense they were spouting). Continue reading