Friday, February 18, 2011


1. Be sure to place your entire FINAL on your website and when you
are finished send a link of your test to your teacher directly at (don't send it to any other email address, except that)

2. Done

3. Done

3a. Each answer should be at least three paragraphs long, if

4. Aaron Andrew Alvarez

5. aalvarez53


7. Critical Thinking

8. Yes

9. Yes

10. C-


12. Juergensmeyer believes that religious zealots are prone to terrorist attacks for the simple reason of politics. They are motivated by the ability to change the social landscape through a means of violence and fear. He sees that terrorism has surpassed just being about the faith and the doctrine but that it has evolved into a strategic means of controlling a mass amount of people.

In part this has been a tactic through most of history. Fear has always been a motivator in change and direction when it comes to large populations to even the smallest. Playing on faith and religion is the easiest way to achieve these ends. Jurgensmeyer believes that the only way to combat such terror is to slowly shed ourselves of faith altogether. When a religion or belief has no meaning it can no longer have any effect negatively and positively.

13. There is zero evidence to support that Edgar Cayce had any psychic abilities. The evidence that is given only supports the fact that the man was an outright fraud. The man may have made people feel good and warm inside but in truth he did nothing but destroy what integrity they had. The psychic profession in general is fraudulent and has never been credible due to one thing; true psychics do not exist outside of fiction. It’s impossible for the human brain to commit acts of the supernatural or anything out of the ordinary. His main bit was communing with the dead which by itself shows how ridiculous the whole affair is. It is impossible to talk to the dead because of the lack of their being an afterlife. Once a being dies, they die. That is it.

14. David Lane is critical of cults because he is a prominent Cult Buster that seeks out these con artists and makes them look like the fools they are. He knows how horrible cults can be towards misguided humans and will go to any lengths to expose the frauds that cults are. He’s been doing this since his college days and has a reputation for it. He despises cults and does a great job ridding the world of them.

15. The films Sai Baba confirm one thing about that man, he’s a really horrible street magician. He does the classic sleight of hand trick to show his divinity when all he’s doing is showing the cameras how stupid he is. Magic can do some strange things, just ask the followers of Jesus.

16. Thakar Singh would blindfold children because he said it was shielding their eyes from the harshness of the world, the sin and cruelty. In reality he was using this as a method to make the children more obedient so he could have his way with them. He was a child molesting scumbag.

The reason that religious folk have poor or no critical thinking skills falls on the fact that the very thing they worship and live their lives by is the antithesis of critical thinking. They hold so strong to the illogical that they refuse to think further than what their sacred written words tell them. If you can believe a deity or force controls everything, it’s easy to believe almost anything absurd.

17. John Polkinghorne believes in god and science because he is heavily indoctrinated. I understand that he thinks that belief gives him some sort of purpose but when you look at it this brilliant man of science is being held back by childhood indoctrination. He won’t let go because it’s familiar and it’s what he grew up with, always having the fear of a creator on his back. He pegs everything wonderful not on the wonder but on an outside force and it’s just sad. The man is smart, yet so very idiotic.

18. Nietzsche critiques religion by pointing out how much it has deterred progress socially and physically. He makes it clear that man cannot evolve into his next role until he lets go of religion and faith and finally takes his true place and his own master. Religion has made us week and susceptible to fear.

His main arguments against a belief in god stem from humanity itself. He sees harm and trouble that religions has plagued upon the world and is disgusted. He finds it very arrogant of any faith to claim an ultimate truth and say that which is right and wrong when in reality good and evil is an objective concept.

19. James Watson believes that genetics holds the secret for understanding human behavior because human beings are made of DNA and by that you could only conclude that it has everything to do with behavior. Our genetic code is that which makes us who were are and do what we do. If you unlock the secrets to human genetics you can understand every single thing about humanity as a whole, from disease to thought. The funny thing is that people often resist the notion of humans being composed of DNA because it takes away from their feeling of being special. When you are made of random bits of genetic material having a purpose is kind of a silly notion.

20. Intelligent design is regarded as junk science because it uses faith as its base. Every conclusion drawn from ID comes from the point of a creator who made every single thing in the universe. The other reasons stem from the fact that ID is really a ploy by fundamentalists to destroy evolution and reinstate creationism into schools. The other huge problem is that ID seems to focus more on debasing evolution that teaching its own pseudo-science. The very institution is built on lies and trickery.

21. The underlying theme of the Zahir is obsession and what it can do to you. The man who has the coin ends up going down a path of madness and insanity. The Zahir becomes a point of letting a single thing take over your entire life. This can be compared with anything and almost everything. In many ways religion and faith are much like the Zahir.

22. Little things that jiggle can reveal how the world around us works because all matter is essentially made of little things that jiggle. As for as positive matter goes, everything, even when most calm to the naked eye, still jiggles and has movement. It’s simply amazing that the universe is teaming with some form of life even if it is in fact non-living.

23. Fundamentalism is a mental disease because it is illogical and goes against what our brains are built for. It is the antithesis of thinking and can turn any sane person into a raving lunatic. To be a fundamentalist is to cast all logic aside and throw your hands into the air. Anything that can alter the mind and destroy your ability to think clearly is obviously some form of mental disease.

24. Argumentum ad...
- Baculum: by force.
- Consequentiam: by consensus.
- Hominem: personal attack.
- Ignorantiam: by ignorance.
- Invidiam: by emotional appeal.
- Logicam: by fallacy.
- Nazium: by Nazi.
- Populum: by popularity.

25. Who benefits from all of this? For ten years now the war on terror has raged between the US and the Middle East. The topic of the War on Terror has become so common place that in recent years it’s become the go to story when the news networks have nothing to report on. Our entertainment is oversaturated with the conflict that most seem to not even notice. Music, film, literature, and television remind us day in and day out that we are in a conflict that slowly twists and turns into a mess that even the most brilliant of men can’t quite make out.

What brought us to such a state that has left us in a cultural wasteland, devoid of anything laced without fear? Throughout all of this mess one question pops up again and again, is this a just war? Is this conflict that has taken the lives of many Americans and Middle Easterners done in the name of liberty? I have long Thought on this subject and many times have always said that the blame lies solely on the Americans who invaded a land that had little if nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. I now know that this choice is not an easy one, it’s not as simple as picking a team and rooting for them.

Who is to blame? The answer is both. Both sides are responsible for a war of clashing ideologies. When it comes down to it the war is what a war always is, humans fighting humans for other humans. Who benefits…

26. The beyond belief series is a symposium of some of sciences greatest minds still alive today. These men and women come together in order to speak on the subject of science and religion in a modern world. In it there are those who are defenders of the faith and those who side with the tenants of logic. The point of this conference is for these brilliant minds to discuss whether our society needs to have religion in a time when science is now answering all the questions that religion for many years has claimed to have all the answers for. It is not a debate or a battle of wits but communion of thoughts and ideas coming together in order to be discussed. Beyond Belief in truth is a concept that has long been lost to our current day practice of argument for arguments sake. It is in the simplest terms a healthy discussion to provoke thought and maybe debate from others.

To single out one person from this event as the greatest mind is feat that churns the stomach. This choosing is not a harsh one or even a gross one but it is a very difficult one. Asking who could be considered the top mind out of many top minds is something many would gladly shy away from. Yet choices in the end must be made and to the victor goes the spoils or so it is said. The mind that stands above most and could be called the most persuasive in terms of discussion would be Neil de Grasse Tyson. Although Richard Dawkins is well spoken and level headed than most he seems far more suited for debate rather than general discussion. Dawkins is a man of logic and his ideas work far better in an environment of purely is vs. them. This is in no way a knock towards the man since he is be far one of earth’s most brilliant minds living today.

It’s just here Tyson makes a more compelling discussion and hits every single base with accurate precision. It’s no wonder the man is a reoccurring guest on the Daily Show and Colbert Report, he just oozes out charisma, something most in his field tend to lack. Charm and charisma aside the man also has the wit and intelligence that could make any other astrophysicist in his field weep like a small school girl. It is because of that charm mixed with his insane level of wit that we get a man who can discuss with the best and stand out while captivating anyone who is watching the conference. What really stands out about the man compared to his peers is that he is beyond professional and courteous. There is not a single drop of ire in Tysons veins and it’s obvious. When faced with a junction of disagreement he doesn’t scoff, laugh or roll his eyes. Instead he faces whatever comes at him with a warm counterpoint. He is for lacks of a better phrase a scientists, scientist.

Yet there is another side to the spectrum, for every winner there must be a loser. This is not about winning or losing though this is simply about ideas and how well that they can be shared and how clearly they can. The person who has the least succession with persuasion and discussion would have to be a man who is if anything the strongest in his field. He is a man who has an unrelenting ability to connect many various moments in history and show just how damaged we are because of religion. That man is Sam Harris and he is a fantastic speaker. Why does he fail when he is so passionate and so convicted to what he speaks on? It’s simple, he is so emotionally invested that he loses sight of the discussions purpose. He shares his ideas but refuses others. In doing this he closes himself off and becomes a one track shooter. Though he knows what he’s speaking on it does nothing to persuade others due to one very clear thing. His passion gets in the way of anyone who opposes his view to even listen. He is as the old saying goes preaching to the choir in a place filled with singers and sinners, figuratively speaking of course.

In the end this conference was not about who was more persuasive. In fact it was far from that. It was simply a chance for brilliant men and women to talk and for once be heard together in the same room.

27. Darwins DNA explains the evolution of consciousness by showing how we as human beings have progressed in a social way. When you connect those dots throughout all of history it is easier to see exactly how we came to the place where we are in. How this applies to the mind stems from humans basing all actions off of what happens with in the mind.

28. Nietzsche's transvaluation of values is the concept that Christianity is actually the inversion of nature and goes against what it means to be human. He asserts that Christianity is a religion that promotes the weak and lowly as opposed to the strong and prosperous. With transvaluation it is a way of casting aside that which you think makes you morally sound.

With this you can easily cast aside what you once thought made you strong but in reality made you weak, that which destroyed you from within.

29. My favorite thing I learned this semester would probably be the Neural Surfer presents videos. They were amazing and honestly so well made that I have shared them with others. The golden age animation composed with vaudeville songs and the kitschy atmosphere of the atom age just catches my eye like nothing else. Using this really made me pay attention since I’m in love with the styles being used, retro futurism in particular. So if I’d say one video it would be Little Things that Jiggle. These were cut together amazingly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This film was fantastic and to be honest my second favorite in the class. It took the serious subject of homophobia and blended it effectively with satire and a kitschy tone. It’s funny seeing how homophobic and sexually uncomfortable most people were back in the day when you look at the imagery of these strongmen flexing and showing off themselves. It screams out irony and just plain ol’ ignorance. The video does this all in a way that is magnificent and cheeky.

The subject of homophobia itself is something that is very important in today’s world. Back in the old days it was viewed as being wicked and sinful. It’s interesting to note that homophobia itself has existed since the dawn of recorded history. Some of our most brilliant minds were homosexuals and yet they did not suffer the harm of the wicked ways these idiots promote. Homosexuality is not a sin or an abomination. It is simply humans loving another person of the same sex.

(6-4) CRITICAL THINKING FILMS: Fundamentalism is a Mental Disease

Fundamentalism is a Mental Disease is yet another great short film clip with a retro flare examining the ridiculousness of Creationism or as often referred to as Intelligent Design. The video is straight and to the point and drives in its message like a sledgehammer into granite. Utilizing clips from various eras and mediums it really has a way of getting its message across.

The argument presented is the same as before with most of the videos and articles I have read. Intelligent Design is a whole lot of rubbish and always will be. Everything that is claimed to be scientific in anyway is always nothing more than a fallacy and an outright lie. These people who use it as a means to cripple evolution are nothing more than liars and thieves. They poison the minds of man all in the name of preserving the believe in an invisible sky man.

(6-3) EXPERT LECTURE: James Watson

James Watson is one of the two men responsible for discovering the genetic structure of DNA. The man has had an amazing career that garnered him praise and even a Nobel Prize. His discovery revolutionized the world of science and forever changed how the world is viewed. Without such a discovery thousands of humans would be dead or struggling with disease. Breakthroughs in the field of genetics would have never been found and we would be many years behind scientifically. James Watson, the partner to Francis Crick, brilliant and an icon of the science world…of yesterday.

In the lecture I gazed upon an old man who has lost touch with reality and almost all sense. The man stumbles on words, changes subjects or sometimes forgets them entirely. He is not what he once was and it is sad to see. Through most of the video he tackles the problems with Autism while trying not to sound sexist. This actually harms him in the process since he tries to fall back on jokes to make it look less so. While doing this he randomly brings up Rosalind Franklin and says unprofessional remarks towards her in a way to debase her credibility. For those who don’t know Mrs. Franklin was the a scientist who accused Watson and Crick of stealing her data and discovery of the DNA structure. While this is still up for debate, I find it odd that he keeps lambasting her. In the end the lecture served its purpose and showed us what a once brilliant mind is up to these days.

(6-2) ASSIGNED READINGS: Logical Fallacies

Fallacy Files is a web site that collects and archives numerous fallacies. The fallacies range from the logical to the most obscure of ad hominem. Everything is listed alphabetically as well as categorically for ease of the user. On top of the easily structures system there are dozens of separate links and articles that deal with the problem of common and uncommon fallacies. The database is kept up to date and made as accurate as possible.

The site is not without its faults. The design for the page is atrocious. From the fonts to the outdated use of tables the site just screams “update me!” Another huge problem is navigation and its web 1.0 set up. Everything looks as if it were created in dream weaver or worse, coded in notepad. As a graphic design student these things stick out to me and as a normal human being I can tell you one thing, people hate looking at ugly web sites.

(6-1) ASSIGNED READINGS: Intelligent Design

The article on Skeptics Dictionary covering the subject of intelligent design (ID) is as thorough as you can get. It covers all areas concerned with the ID controversy, post creationist rebranding. While the article in question tries it’s best to remain as neutral as possible, it is still very clear that the ID side of the argument is definitely on the wrong side of the fence. The reading utilizes various quotes from both sides of the aisle but all this does is prove that those in favor of ID are trying their hardest to mask that ID is actually creationism. The point of this article is not meant to persuade either side to take up a position but merely to enlighten the reader on the current conflict that is Intelligent Design.

After reading the entirety of the article is was clear that ID is nothing more than an ironic twist on wolf in sheep’s clothing. The side of the pulpit are on a mission to invade the world of science and at any cost make the doctrine of a creator viewed as the be all end all. What gets me is that these very people try and disguise this as a fuax science, declaring it as an alternative to evolution. They use clever buzz words and manipulation tactics that easily confuse the average person. ID is not a science or an offshoot of it. It is merely the work of con men, it’s a modern day snake oil bottled in a new packaging.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(5-5) CRITICAL THINKING FILMS: Survival of the Sufficient

I hear loads of people go on about survival of the fittest and how it’s all that matter in the long run of things. Although I admire the hell out of Charles Darwin his whole stance on survival has become outdated. This is a good thing though since the point of science is to not remain at a constant. You have to continue the search for knowledge or you will become a religious doctrine. Most in the science world have forgot this. Scientists have instead become bitter and arrogant where they only care of their data or the data of the big names. Alterations and addendums are not wanted and it’s sad.

The point that this video is trying to make is that we have surpassed the need to only survive on strength and cunning alone. We have become a species that relies mostly on the power of the mind. We have mastered our domain and in doing so have cast aside the need to be stronger than other animals in a way that our hunter gatherer ancestors were. The times they are a changing and it’s up to us to make this realization come full circle.