Revisiting the topic of science and proof on the tenth anniversary of blogging

Yesterday marked the ten-year anniversary of my beginning blogging. For the first seven years I wrote on my university’s blogging platform and then three years ago I was invited to join the FreethoughtBlog network. Initially I just felt the need to try blogging but was not at all sure what form the blog would take and what I would write about. But I settled fairly quickly into a rhythm and though there have been some minor changes over time, basically it has ended up as me writing about whatever I felt worth writing about at the moment, mainly to clarify my own ideas about those issues with the help of the commenters. I have been impressed with the knowledge and insights that many readers have provided.
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Reflections on the PA atheist conference

Last weekend’s conference in Pittsburgh of the PA atheists and humanists was a lot of fun. I have mentioned before that I am somewhat asocial but whenever I do get out to events like this, I have a good time. I met several readers of this blog who introduced themselves to me and I enjoyed talking with them during the breaks and over meals. I knew they were regular readers of my blog because as my talk slides were being readied for projection on the screen, my computer wallpaper that consists of a picture of my dog appeared briefly and they could identify him as Baxter the Wonder Dog!
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Wanted: Suggestions for a conference talk topic

I have been invited by to speak at third annual Pennsylvania State Atheist/Humanist Convention to be held in Pittsburgh on August 29-31, 2014 and have accepted. The invitation is quite flexible. The conference has no theme as such and they are giving me the freedom to pitch my own topic, although suggesting that one based on an earlier talk based on my series Why Atheism is Winning may be suitable. [Read more…]

Is psychology a science?

Periodically one encounters the question of whether this or that topic or discipline is a science or not a science. This is a venerable problem that even has its own name (the demarcation problem) that I have written about extensively in the past (see my 2011 series of posts on the Logic of Science) and the consensus has been that it is impossible to specify both necessary and sufficient conditions that are necessary to do so. In most cases this inability to construct a strict demarcation rule does not really matter in any tangible way. After all, what does it matter what label you give something? But unfortunately it is the case that being considered ‘scientific’ adds a certain authority to statements, which is why people invoke it so frequently. [Read more…]

Existence and universal claims

An interesting discussion has broken out in the comments section of the post The weak historical evidence for Jesus that is related to the question of where the burden of proof lies when promoting or refuting a claim.

Those who started reading my blogs only after I moved to Freethought Blogs have been (so far at least) mercifully spared the many multi-part series on some topics that those [Read more…]