October 3rd, 2010

Letter from Juhan

Juhan writes:

"Seriously, I learned about so many new authors from your podcast ... Awesome. Thanks! And you guys are pretty decent philosophers too, when it comes to ... more difficult conundrums :D (like the consciousness transfer stuff, for example). I actually mean it. Seriously. I’m looking forward to more more debates on similar issues -- fantasy and sci-fi are full of that stuff.

Also, it’s always good to hear that Roger Zelazny is still very much appreciated. Kudos to mentioning 'The Keys to December' on the terraforming episode!"

Thanks, Juhan! Glad you like the show. Actually my undergrad degree is in political philosophy, so I like to think I'm not bad at that stuff. And yeah, I've been known to maybe mention Roger Zelazny from time to time.

(The consciousness transfer stuff was in Episode 19.)

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Podcast Relaunch in 3 Days

We're at T-minus 3 days and counting until our Geek's Guide to the Galaxy relaunch. If you haven't "liked" the show on Facebook yet, now would be a good time to get out there and starting liking.

Like these fine folks. Thomas Uke Costick says:

"GGG is one of my fav podcasts. Glad I saw this so I can update my reader. Looking fwd to the next podcast."

And Leilani Cantu says:

"Can't wait! I loved all the Tor episodes, and was extremely dismayed when they stopped coming. Hope to hear a lot more from you!"

Strenous Exercise Can Make You Gain Weight?

There was an interesting article recently on Huffington Post about weight loss. Now, the health/medicine stuff on HuffPo is often rife with pseudoscientific garbage, so I don't take anything they say that seriously, but this article sounded plausible to me. First it said that unless you're Michael Phelps, the amount you exercise basically has no effect on your weight, because, if you do the math, you'll see that you have to do just an insane amount of exercise to burn off the amount of calories you gain by eating say, half a cookie. Losing weight is all about diet. That much I already believed. The next thing it said though, which had never really sunk in before, was that you can actually gain weight by exercising too much, because strenuous exercise makes you really hungry, and then you get back from your workout and eat way more than you would have otherwise. It said light exercise like walking can actually be better in this regard for losing weight.

Atheists Know the Most About Religion

Lots of my friends have been linking to the results of the recent survey by the Pew Forum that showed that as a group atheists know more about religion than religious people do.

Of course, these days I know WAY more about religion than most people, but for a long time I was at a distinct disadvantage, having parents who weren't religious and never took me to church. I remember once as a kid I was on a bicycle trip and a woman said to me that I had to listen to my mother because "even Jesus had to obey Mary," and I said (not joking) "Mary who?" There was also the time I got the NES game Ghosts & Goblins for my birthday, and I was reading from the instructions booklet to my friends, and I mispronounced "Satan" as "satin," and everyone made fun of me. Until they explained it to me, I had just assumed that "Satan" was a made-up video game monster, like "Gannon." I also got mocked by my college roommate once for my unorthodox pronunciation of "Pontius Pilate."

Of course, unlike me, most atheists used to be religious. Through my involvement with organized skepticism, I've heard the stories of probably 70-80 people about why they gave up on religion, and I've heard the same basic story over and over again, but I've never heard anyone comment on one particular pattern, so I thought I'd note it in passing. Basically it's this: You have two siblings, Sibling A and Sibling B. Sibling A is dutiful and Sibling B is feckless. As teenagers, Sibling A goes to church, studies the Bible, and plans to become a minister, nun, religious scholar, etc., whereas Sibling B thinks religion is a joke and spends all their time drinking, having sex, and doing drugs. Sibling A spends so much time on serious study of the Bible that the contradictions, historical inaccuracies, immoral teachings, etc., eventually become too much for them, and after a years-long period of agonized soul searching they give up on religion and become an atheist. In the meantime, Sibling B has made a total mess of their life -- various addictions, lousy job, unplanned out-of-wedlock children, etc. -- and turns to religion to get themself straightened out. Sibling B becomes some variety of hard-core fundamentalist, raises their children that way, and constantly hectors everyone they know, including Sibling A, to get right with God, in spite of the fact that Sibling B has still not bothered to learn the first thing about what the Bible actually says. Anyway, anyone else noticed that pattern? I've seriously heard some variation on that story dozens of times now.