Blog Roll House Cleaning

I’ve been doing a bit of house cleaning on the blog roll, eliminating some blogs and using the extra room to add on more of the blogs which link here. If I removed anyone from the blog roll who does link here in error please let me know and I’ll reinstate your blog. Also let me know if anyone is interested in exchanging links.

It is common while reading blogs to look for new sites to read, such as from the links in a blog roll. That is one reason why the blog roll here is dominated by smaller blogs as opposed to the major blogs which everyone links to. There are also two other good sources for those interested in finding more to read. I’ve had a box with selected stories from Memeorandum for quite a while as well as a selection of other news and blog aggregators.

Last week I also added a widget from  BlogRush which randomly gives a selection of posts from other blogs. I’ll post more on BlogRush after they roll out the finished product, but even in its infancy it appears very promising. The value of BlogRush is that it drives traffic to the sites which utilize it. Although still under construction, taking less than five minutes to sign up and install the free widget has already paid off in bringing in over one hundred new readers per day.

Religious Right Appears Serious Over Opposing Giuliani

It looks like the religious right really means it when they threaten to leave the GOP and back a third party candidate should a pro-life candidate such as Rudy Giuliani win the nomination. Writing in The New York Times, James Dobson writes:

After two hours of deliberation, we voted on a resolution that can be summarized as follows: If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous.

The other issue discussed at length concerned the advisability of creating a third party if Democrats and Republicans do indeed abandon the sanctity of human life and other traditional family values. Though there was some support for the proposal, no consensus emerged.

Rasmussen looks at the consequences of such a move and finds that 27% of Republicans would vote for a pro-life third party candidate as opposed to Giuliani. The potential for such support probably guarantees that somebody will run as a pro-life candidate should Giuliani win the Republican nomination.

Numbers from Rasmussen may be off by several percent, and there may be some people who say they will back a third party candidate to attempt to influence the Republicans but would still vote for Giuliani over a Democrat. Even if we cut this number down to one-third it would prevent Giuliani from being able to win, considering that with all the obstacles the Republicans will face in 2008 they cannot win if even 9% of their base doesn’t back the candidate.

Deepak Chopra Confuses Magic Tricks for Science

Add spoon bending to the catalog of bizarre beliefs which Deepak Chopra subscribes to. At IntentBlog, Chopra wrote:

I have always maintained there is no such thing is supernatural or paranormal. All observed phenomena, if accurate, are natural and normal. We call something supernatural or paranormal when we can’t explain it. Once we know the explanation, its science. Before that it’s spooky. Everything I write about can be understood if you understand non locality and non local correlation and the inseparability of mind and matter as different expressions of consciousness. Let’s not waste any more time on spoon bending. For millions of people it’s now a trivial example of mind and matter as inseparably one.

I’ve had several previous posts noting how Chopra makes the same arguments against evolution as the religious right with a little bit of new age mumbo jumbo mixed in. Chopra has also written about astrology in a manner which demonstrates that he believes in it. In discussing spoon-bending Chopra falsely claims scientific support for his views when he states, “Once we know the explanation, its science.” He might have a valid argument if the phenomena he writes about could be verified, but his beliefs cannot pass the test of the scientific method. A commenter at IntentBlog posted an explanation for spoon bending from Wikipedia which shows that this has absolutely nothing to do with “mind and matter.”

In most cases, the trick uses misdirection, a basic tool of the stage magician. The performer draws the audience’s attention away from the spoon during the brief moment while he is actually bending it with his hands. The typical bend, where the bowl meets the handle, requires relatively little force. The magician then gradually reveals the bend. [1]

Uri Geller, in one of his performances, combines suggestion and misdirection. He starts by rubbing a spoon at the neck, where it already has a curve by design. As he rubs it, he remarks that the spoon is starting to bend, causing people to notice the curve. As he stands up to display the spoon, his body moves enough that the audience does not notice him also bending the spoon with his hands. The audience believes that the additional bending is merely a continuation of the imaginary bending he suggested earlier.[2]

Other methods use a metal spoon that has been prepared so that a simple flick will cause it to bend or break. This can be done, for instance, by repeatedly bending the spoon at the desired spot, until the metal cracks and weakens. If the spoon breaks, the magician holds together the two halves of the spoon as if it were unbroken, then slowly relaxes the grip, making the spoon appear to bend before splitting in two.[3]

If a magician has control over the viewing angle, the trick can be done by using a spoon that is already bent at the start of the trick. The spoon is initially held with the bend along the viewing angle, making it invisible. The magician then turns the spoon slowly to reveal the bend. [4][5]

Uri Geller has been caught using trickery to bend a spoon on video.

It is impossible to take Chopra’s writings seriously as science when he is so easily fooled by a simple stage trick and sees this as evidence that “mind and matter as inseparably one.” If this is the type of example Chopra uses to support his beliefs on mind and matter it is necessary to dismiss his conclusions as those coming from the deluded. There is much that we do not yet understand about the brain and consciousness, but this understanding will come from those who apply the scientific method as opposed to those who find evidence for their beliefs in such stage tricks.

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