Confessions on how I’ve been feeling.

Posted in relationship with tags , on August 9, 2009 by Northernskeptic

This is a hard admission for me to make but I feel that it should be done.  As many of my friends will know I take things to heart very easily, and because of this I become prone to allowing my emotions to run wild.  This is very hard for a skeptic to come to terms with since my worldview is based upon reason and evidence, so emotional responses can be antithetical to such an outlook.  I develop emotional attachments that can be much stronger than in other individuals to draw strength from, and when I percieve those links as weakening it takes me to a rather dark place.

I’ve developed circles of friends (both on and offline) that are very important to me, there are times however where the bonds in these circles weaken or break and I find myself feeling lost.  I’ve been seeing some of that recently and it has been pushing me into examining my own emotional reactions.  I have been feeling anger lately as I’ve drifted away from some friends and have heard things said that pushed some buttons that I really don’t like about myself.  I don’t normally like confrontation as I will find myself in a position where I will say things I regret later, so I will often bite my tounge and pretend that everything is fine without addressing my problems.  I know this isn’t healthy but I’m so afraid of losing my connections I will back out, and hope things get fixed (or ignored) on their own.

There are times though when I have felt like I’ve been cut off, and this is where the confession comes in.  I suffer from clinical depression, I’ve been on and off anti-depressants for several years.  Please understand that I’m putting this out there not so that my friends need to walk on eggshells around me, but rather so that I’m fully open and honest with those I care about.  In the last seven-eight months since I’ve dealt with my resignation from the mormon church, saved for TAM, and pushed through a new job opportunity I have been dipping for extended stays in a very dark place.  I have written at least three different suicide notes, and I’ve plotted out the best (and quickest) ways to finalize the act.  I’ve taken into account who might find me, and the effect it might have on them (this is usually what pulls me back from the brink).  I have fought back these feelings in solitude rather than allow them to affect my interpersonal relationships, I see now that may be my failure.

Please don’t freak out on me, I don’t plan on going through with any of that now, what I hope this post will do is illustrate how important to me my friends are.  Recent events have me worried about the status of my circle and as such I’ve been feeling the ripples that have been moving through it affecting me negatively.  I would hope that those involved can move past the issues, just as I’m trying to come to terms with my own feelings.  Suffering alone without addressing what our problems are can lead to some bad places where no amount of reason and evidence can ever recover.

Twitter Experiment in Follow-Bots

Posted in Random, Science, skepticism, twitter with tags , , , , on June 16, 2009 by Northernskeptic

On Saturday night (June 13) I decided to perform an experiment.  I sent  3 tweets to see what sort of followers I would gain, and today I present the results.

First the tweets that I sent the fourth was suggested by the totally awesome @SurlyAmy who you should be following:

  1. Network Marketing Opportunity
  2. HHO Water Power
  3. Subluxation align chiropractic
  4. Hippy Idiot Liar

Since that time which was about (9:00 pm mst) and now (10:00 pm mst) I have gained 27 new followers, I’ll break them down below.

  1. Tianna Lynn (TiannaLynn78): Generic pretty girl account already suspended
  2. Virginia Green (LuTachison): A single tweet and a link to the Library of Congress
  3. belle (belletyler111): average adolescent tweets, no deep details on the bio or linked site
  4. Mike Hobbs (mikehobbs): Network Marketing/MLM/Internet sales and he has a “Seminar” to sell too
  5. Jarod M Farnham (jarodmicah): Another Network Marketer
  6. Pam Thompson (bewellbypam): And another Network Marketer
  7. UC Chiropractic (bharshe):  Apparently he is a Chiropractor
  8. Rich OBrien (itsrichobrien): Network Marketer
  9. Mladen Bartolić (mbartolic): no tweets, no bio, no link
  10. MikeTheInfidel (freeplay): Skeptic/Atheist/Critical Thinker (my kinda guy)
  11. Joe Dawson (plumberjoeohio): A Plumber who tweets exclusively about…plumbing
  12. Greg Kelley (edumaster): A science educator
  13. zeta hanif (airempire95059): Suspended account
  14. plumbing guy (prettypipeplumb): Another plumber???
  15. Average Albertan (averagealbertan): Umm, an average albertan I guess.
  16. Edmonton Alberta (EdmontonFans): Generic gimick account
  17. Jenny Green (arithmeticsweep): Suspended account
  18. ilovebing (ilovebing): no bio but links to 4chan (please don’t hurt me anonymous)
  19. Marcus Richter (MarcusRichter): Vitamin pushing wootard
  20. Spray Adaptogens (SprayAdaptogens): The health product woo is strong with this one
  21. Néstor Pabón (HealthBeatToday): CAM homeopathy and Aromatherapy wootard and medical science denier
  22. Vancouver Canucks (canucksnews): A Vancouver Canucks fan
  23. Kerstin’s Chocolates (kerstinschoc): Edmonton based specialty chocolate shop
  24. Stargate Universe (stargateuverse): Fan of the as yet unreleased new Stargate spinoff
  25. pulseproject (pulseproject): Another Skeptic and follows the Awesome @SurlyAmy
  26. Nicole Draper (nicoleeislegit): another Myspace cam girl advertising for new “friends”
  27. Andy Lambros (andylambros): Internet “consultant”

From the looks of it I pulled in 4 network marketers, 2 supplement junkies, 1 homeopath, and 1 chiropractor.  I didn’t even get a free energy fanatic.

On the plus side I did gain 2 new skeptics and a science educator so that’s cool.

On the weird side 2, I repeat 2 followers who tweet about PLUMBING????

To fill things in I got the usual follow junkies, fansites and cam girls.  I haven’t checked to see if any of them are still following me I only went on the e-mail alerts so this is really an unscientific test but then again my targets weren’t that scientific either.  It is interesting to note that the keywords do tend to bring the woo-bots down on you.

Oh and in case you missed the subtle hints earlier follow @SurlyAmy.

UFO…or not.

Posted in Science, skepticism with tags , , , on May 13, 2009 by Northernskeptic

The other evening I looked up in the sky and saw a dark object hovering in the sky.  I observed for about a minute when it suddenly put on a burst of speed and moved what appeared to be a great distance to the south west.  It hovered there again for another half a minute and shot off to the south east.  Was this some extra-terrestrial vehicle moving against all physical laws?  No it was in fact a bird struggling against an extremely strong wind from the north, I thought to myself as I watched that the poor thing was displaying many of the same characteristics that are attributed to so called UFO’s.  It makes me wonder just how many such sightings are in fact just birds, besides the other phenomenon that are labled as “unexplained”, yet have likely explainations (ie Venus, weather balloons, planes, the moon….etc).

When is it appropriate to call friends on questionable science?

Posted in activism, Science, skepticism with tags , , , on May 3, 2009 by Northernskeptic

I realize it has been a little while since I last posted, I guess I needed to be inspired.

My roomies and I had some friends visiting from out of town and last night we were talking about some of our favourite shows. I mentioned The Big Bang Theory and that led to a bit of a discussion in which it was clear that my science loving hackles were raised. Upon my mention of the show title one of our guests said that “evidence” shows that it didn’t happen. I being the good geek that I am tried to first understand where this information came from and hopefully try to correct what I suspected was a misrepresentation by a creationist tract.

My suspicions were confirmed by my friends claiming that the “evolutionist” explaination of the big bang couldn’t account for why one moon (they couldn’t say which one) rotates in the opposite direction from what “evolution” says it should. Instantly the flags were raised, since every time I’ve heard evolution being applied to cosmology there has been a creationist argument behind it, and invariably a flawed one at that. So being on the offensive I asked for the basis, and was not impressed apparently all bodies in the universe are supposed to rotate in the same direction and some moon in the outer solar system doesn’t so the big bang is wrong. I didn’t even get into observations from the WMAP of the CMB, we instead talked about their source.  No names could be given (though to be fair I did put them on the spot) just the assertion that this was a “scientist” who said this and not from one of their Christian sites (and no I didn’t bring up religion they did). The discussion then jumped to how the wife’s father in school 50 years ago learned about 3 mutually exclusive evolutionary theories, to show how wrong science can be.  She then rattled off 3 observations that can all be explained by currently accepted evolutionary models.

I was on edge but since they were our guests I quickly dropped the matter and went off to shake my head.  This leads me to the main question of this post, when we have friends that spout anti-scientific and pseudo-scientific talking points just how far in polite company should we go in calling it?  I’d be interested in your thoughts and opinions.

The End of the old and The Beginning of the new.

Posted in activism, atheism with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by Northernskeptic

Finally I have been removed from the member records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and can offically call myself an exmormon. Thank you again for the support in this arduous process.

Regarding the “Authenticity Required” argument.

Posted in activism, atheism with tags , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by Northernskeptic

This started out as a reply to an old friend on my last post, but I think that it warrants a deeper look. Many friends, family, commenters, and the bishop who came to my house have said that the Mormon church needs to confirm the veracity of my request to remove my name from their records. On the surface this may sound like a reasonable argument, but when examined through the critical eye there are blatant holes that cause it to fall flat.

The argument mainly relies on the “what if” scenario of a fraudulent removal request, in this case some ne’er do well falsely resigns another person from the church. In this case the victim should have nothing to worry about, because first and foremost God wouldn’t fall for it (he is after all omniscient).

As for the local effects say that member records removes him/her, then passes that on to the Stake, then to the Ward, logically the individual’s continued attendance would be noticed and the bishop could easily ask for confirmation without being required to go to the person’s home. A quick e-mail/phone call and the matter is resolved. Alternately if this occurs as a member is moving, then it would be caught almost immediately since the members will ask to have their records transferred to the new Ward and/or Stake.

The church itself did not even acknowledge this as a reason in their official correspondence with me. They simply referred to the matter as ecclesiastical in nature, which required local priesthood leaders to contact me (see their response letter here). The bishop visited me 2 days after receiving their letter, I was out so he left his phone #, which I called about a half hour before my interview on Q Transmissions. I explained in no uncertain terms that I was to be removed from their records and that the letter was not an invitation for proselytization. A couple days after that he came to the house again acknowledging the receipt of my phone message (which call display would have confirmed it as coming from me) but still requiring a face to face. Once again I had to tell him to remove me, and expressed my displeasure at the hurdles being placed in my way. It wasn’t until this point that he mentioned authentication being required. I was not asked to sign any documents, my ID was not requested, and I did not have to confirm my last recorded address that the church had. A couple of days later the bishop dropped a letter off indicating that he had sent the paperwork to the member records. I have yet to receive confirmation from member records despite nearly 3 weeks passing since the last letter from the bishop.

I have found that it is easier to quit a job with a resignation letter than it has been to quit the church. I will be sending yet another letter to the church if I have not received confirmation of my removal by the first week of March. This new letter will not be as nice since this ordeal has been going on since the original letter was sent on December 12, 2008 and it is currently February 22, 2009 over 2 months later.

Returning to the original topic of authentication, as Janine said in the comments on my previous post that there may be some truth in this The Science Pundit did point out that there is a reasonable limit. What could have been a quick matter has been stretched out needlessly, I for one will be glad when this is finally over. Stay tuned as we await the final chapter to my resignation from the mormon church.

Thanks again to SP and Janine their comments on my last blog post inspired this one.

Wow where have I been? Mormon resignation update.

Posted in activism, atheism with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by Northernskeptic

I know it has been a while since I last posted, and for that I do apologize to those who are reading. I just wanted to give an update to my ordeal with the Mormon church.

I did get a visit from the local bishop and made it absolutely clear to him my displeasure regarding the unnecessary hoops I was being made to jump through. I made sure my tone was polite but firm. A couple of days later he dropped off a letter confirming that my request was being processed, I am still waiting for the “official word” from member records but for now it looks like I will be getting my wish.

To those of you who have supported me through this as it has been a far more emotional ride than I anticipated, and my good friends in the skeptical community at large were integral to the process. I eagerly look forward to having a celebration once I get the final notice from the church.