Saturday, December 26, 2015

Skepsis in 2015: An Index

The cliché has proven to be true once again: time flies when you're having fun. I can barely believe that this blog is now almost two years old, during which time it has received over 16,000 views from all over the world.

Given how poorly my predictions for post topics went last year, I won't be making any this year with one exception. Valve surgery in early February means fewer posts while I'm recovering and whatever I do get around to writing about will probably be more personal in nature, describing my peri-operative experiences.  I do still plan to continue to criticize theism and to provide some personal insights into medicine and cardiology. I also plan to participate in the Calgary Run for Water again on June 11, 2016, aiming for a personal best in the 10k with my new valve, whatever it turns out to be.

I hope that you'll continue to stay tuned and make some time in your busy lives to consider my posts. While they are often written for the personal benefit of refining and organizing my own thoughts, and to leave a trail that my children can one day follow to know how I tended to think about at least some topics, I nevertheless do try to write them for the benefit of others as well.

I hope that 2016 brings you good health and a wealth of experiences that will make you as happy and fulfilled as I have so far been in my life. In the meantime, here's how Skepsis went down in 2015:

In the wake of loads of bullshit that I was hearing by the regressive left after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I thought that it was important to remember that What people believe really does matter.

I included less content by other writers this year than last, but two pieces that I thought perfectly expressed my own thoughts were by Gordon Gibson on Charlie Hebdo and a short video by Robert Lindsay on the critical importance of secularism.

Apologists for religiously motivated evil are often quick to suggest that science can also motivate evil behaviour, but I argued - decisively, I believe - that this tu quoque is incoherent in Did Joseph Mengele act "in the name of" science?. Thanks to an astute reader, I learned that much turns on the ambiguity of the phrase "in the name of", and so I clarified my argument without using it in a follow up post. I'm rather proud of these two posts: Later in the year, a very intelligent Facebook friend, doctor, and writer, admitted that they caused him to change his mind about this subject and that he would refrain from spreading this fallacious meme anymore.

I continued my critique of anti-vaxxers by identifying one key question that they should have to answer. 2015 saw legal support for vaccine exemptions face major challenges in North America. The amazing Dr. Paul Offit wrote a great piece on religious exemptions: What would Jesus do about measles?

In February, I shared the work of my friend in Edmonton, Alexander Delorme, who wrote about the Chapel Hill murders. The perpetrator has since been charged and will undergo a death penalty trial. Very little has publicly been clarified about his motivations, but the notion that atheism could have contributed is as incoherent as the notion that science motivated the Nazis. I suspect that his trial will show that, too.

In Should we accept revelation?, I argued that religious epistemology should be rejected because it is irrational. This spawned a 5-part series of posts on the epistemic impact of peer disagreement. I think that these are the most important posts I wrote this year.

In What if you could travel back in time? I challenged our fascination with youth. Most middle aged and older people who've considerd this thought experiment conclude that this is the best time to be alive.

The killing of Cecil the lion had me asking a question that nobody was, and everybody should have been: What trophy hunting is forcing my to ask.

This was the year that my left ventricle showed significant but subtle signs of enlargement leading me to pull the trigger and decide to have aortic valve surgery. In Decisions, decisions, I weighed the options before me and made a difficult, tentative choice.

My last two posts of the year challenged an idea that is commonplace among non-believers, namely, that believers have the burden of proof. But given what most non-believers do believe, this idea is a deepity, and it's just plain false. Thanks to my invitation by Justin Scheiber (of Reasonable Doubts fame) to act as a contributor to the Facebook page for Real Atheology, these were among the most viewed posts of 2015.

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