Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Immunity: An Inoculation

What is immunization, and what is its outcomes? A question that Eula Biss asked when she became pregnant. For it's a mother's task to protect her children in anyway possible. At the time, vaccinations were looked down upon in society because of the autism scare. It was believed that if you vaccinate your children, that they would eventually develop some sort of form of autism. Which if you look toward the scientific facts, this is unlikely. If it were to occur, the chances of a child developing autism is like one in a million. Which Mrs. Biss explains within the chapters of her book On Immunity: An Inoculation.

Mrs. Biss brings up three unique points about the body in her book. There's the individual's body, the community as a body, and the body of knowledge. Each body has the capability of being affected by a virus. Individual bodies can carry and be affected by viral infections like Influenza and other diseases. The community as a whole can be affected by viruses as well. If one person doesn't vaccinate, it affects the whole community and will spread like wildfire. However, if everybody gets a vaccination, the chances of a virus spreading is lowered immensely. Then there is the body of knowledge, which can be plagued by misinformation. Misinformation is like a virus to the mind, it causes someone to not accept the facts. Such as the scare of children developing autism. Scientifically it's highly unlikely, but people are still doubtful of it being true.

Eula Biss put a lot of research into immunizations and vaccinations for her book. She isn't a scientist, but she puts a lot of source references within her book. You'll discover that immunization is where you strength your immune system by infecting it with a minor form of the virus you're trying to defend yourself against. In the old days before needle injected vaccines, immunizations were conducted by cutting the skin of an infected person, taking their blood, and placing it in a cut on a person you're trying to vaccinate. Vaccinations have advanced considerably since that time. Now you can be injected with a vaccine without any skin damage.

Are vaccinations good or bad? If you were to ask Mrs. Biss, she'll most likely respond by saying it's a good thing. Historically, some diseases have been wiped out from certain countries because of vaccinations. Polio for an example doesn't exist any more within the United States thanks to vaccinations. Polio still exists around the world, but it's in countries that don't accept vaccinations. In all, vaccinating helps the individual's body as well as the community as a whole. If you vaccinate, you're not going to spread a disease because your body knows how to defend against the disease you vaccinated against.

On Immunity: An Inoculation is a good and informational book. Covering many subjects dealing with the body and immunizations. It's written very well, and has good solid evidence to back it up. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in immunizations, science or how vaccinations work. I hope you read it, and enjoy it!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Began Reading: On Immunity

A while back I began reading On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. I haven't finished the book yet, but I can say that what I have read so far is really good. I discovered this book from Bill Gates' Beach Reading (and More) list. I always find the books that Mr. Gates recommends to be very interesting, for he is a rather highly intelligent person. So I decided to buy the e-book for Kindle, which was about $9.99.

Biss is a very good writer. First reading the book, I was amazed at how well the it was written. At the begin you discover that Biss is a mother, and that she never really paid attention to vaccinations until she had her child. The book is based on her personal life about vaccinations backed by scientific discoveries and facts. It's really a unique way of telling how vaccinations work and why it's important. Sure, you can give all the facts you want about how vaccinations work in the human body, but a person can really relate to it if you actually tell a personal story. In which case, this is the story of how Eula Biss discovered the power of vaccinations with the inoculation of her son.

You learn about it as she learned about it. Her story is rather telling, and eye opening. Each page was just another marvelous discovery that she learned about to save her child from the diseases of the day - such as measles, small pox, chicken pox, polio, and more. It's a very good read, and at this moment, I give it a high rating. I'll do a full-blown review once I finish reading.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Universe Doesn't Care About You

While looking through the Kindle Book Store, I encountered a book entitled The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You by Johnny Traunt.  This obviously got my attention, and I decided to get this book. It's absolutely free on Kindle. It's not really a book per se, it's more of an essay (a really short essay). It didn't take me long to finish it once I started reading it.

When you first read the title, you just have to kind of stop for a second to understand what the book is trying to say. The purpose of this book is to figuratively slap the reader in the face. You, as like many other people, probably get nervous about making mistakes or looking stupid. This book is to get you to realize how minuscule such things are. The universe is huge, so ginormous that we are essentially molecules in the scale of things. Within the scale of time, our existence is so short, that we practically don't make a difference.

What Mr. Traunt is trying to portray to the reader is that, what you do in your life should ultimately be what you want and not what other people want. He does this in a very humorous and to-the-point kind of way. I would recommend anybody to read this (as long as you're alright with naughty words - because he swears a lot - which I like).


Nearly a year ago on February 4, 2014 there was a debate between two opposing figures – Bill Nye and Ken Ham. From that debate you would know that Bill Nye is a strong advocate for evolution, whereas Ken Ham is for intelligent design. It was a rather lengthy debate, with an eye opener near the end.  When asked what would change their minds, Ken Ham said nothing while Bill Nye said evidence. It would take evidence for Nye to accept intelligent design. Nothing will ever change Ham’s belief, even with evidence he would and is denying evolution. This debate is what inspired Nye to write Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

The Science Guy does a really good job at explaining what evolution is and how it works in a very simple and humorous way. He starts off by explaining his desire to learn about the world around him. Such as any knowledge-seeking individual would do. For Bill “it started with the bees.” His young curious mind wondering how bees operate and where they came from and how they came to be. Only later to explain how bees have evolved to be what they are today.
He will give you a little history lesson on the evolutionary theory. Such as stating that the concept of evolution can be traced back nearly thousands of years ago from Greek philosopher Anaximander. Which Anaximander hypothesized that life began as fishlike creatures from the sea after observing some fossils. Following up to the recent discoveries conducted by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Because of Darwin and Wallace we now fully understand the concept of evolution. That is why it is now the Theory of Evolution. In scientific terms a theory is a verifiable explanation of aspects of the natural world through peer-review and the scientific method. If you want to learn even more about evolution through the words of Darwin himself, pull up a chair, have a drink and read On the Origin of Species.
A good chunk of the book will discuss his experience with debating Creationist Ken Ham. If you haven’t seen the Ham-Nye Debate, I strongly recommend that you do. My personal favorite from both the debate and the book is when Bill Nye points out flaws with the Ark. The Ark would have to be massive to be able to hold two of each animal, especially when you consider how many different species of animals there are. It’s very eye opening when you consider that the Ark was built by a 500 year old man, perhaps unskilled in building ships. It takes many different types of engineers to build ships today. It just doesn’t add up how one man can build a gigantic wooden ship. When today it takes many people to build even a wooden ship and we have technology helping us.
Bill Nye did a superb job with this book. You’ll see many examples of evolution at work from reading each page. Periodically you will laugh from his jokes that just seem to appear out of nowhere. Near the end he covers some topics that some people might consider controversial – such as GMFs (Genetically Modified Foods), human cloning, and skin color just to name a few. He does it from the view of evolution. Evolution has a hand in all of these topics. Without it, none of this would be possible. Such as without gravity, you wouldn’t be sitting there reading this blog.
Bill Nye is the Science Guy. Well, actually he is a mechanical engineer. Like everything else, engineering requires science. Just like Nye, I too am a strong advocate for science. From science, we understand the world around us through an evolutionary standpoint. Please, realize that we didn’t actually come from monkeys. Bill Nye explained it rather well by stating that evolution is like a family tree. We all came from a common ancestor, and as the tree grows different species would branch out. From those species more would branch out, so on and so on.
So as an engineer myself and a fan of science, I strongly recommend that everybody pick up this book. Doesn’t matter if you already are in favor of evolution or a believer of creationism or intelligent design. It is a good read and witty at the same time. As you read, I hope you take some time after putting it down, to think about what you just read. Hopefully you’ll finish it with a better understanding about evolution.
[This Appeared on Learning Uncensored]

The Dawkins Delusion

Recently I finished reading a book entitled “The Dawkin’s Delusion: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine” by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath. I found this book while at the library.  I think it is good to read the arguments from the other side.  Even if you know that it’s going to upset you. The book is well written, however, some of the arguments are weak. I will get to that later in this post. For now, I would like to start off with my annoyances with the title of the book.
First off, there is no such thing as “atheist fundamentalism.” Most people understand that fundamentalism is usually used to identify certain religious people, such as a Fundamentalist Christian or Fundamentalist Muslim. They are called fundamentalist because they uphold strict and literal interpretations of their holy books. Atheists or secularists don’t have a holy book, they have the ever expanding collection of science and philosophy books.
Secondly, the denial of the divine.  My initial response to this was how do you deny something you don’t even believe in. I can’t deny the divine because I don’t believe in a divine. I don’t believe in a divine because there isn’t enough evidence to support there being a divine creature or power. I’m not simply refusing to believe in a God. I’m simply following the evidence. The evidence doesn’t point to a supernatural being. I can’t just read a 3000 year old book and take it for truth.  Our knowledge is always changing. What we knew yesterday might be different today. Just like people use to believe the world was flat (some still do to this day), and now we know that the Earth is a not so perfect circle. It was Isaac Newton who suggested that the Earth is an oblate spheroid (a sphere being squashed at it’s poles and swollen at it’s equator). So, back to denying the divine. One simply can’t deny a divine, when they don’t believe in a divine.  To deny something is the act of refusing what is true. A divine can’t be proven nor disproven, therefore how can it be true. For something to be true, mustn’t it be known. For instance, we know that the universe is expanding through empirical evidence of an explosion (the big bang). With peer review we come to know this to be true. A person who doesn’t follow this is denyingwhat is known. To deny something that is divine is impractical because it can’t be proven nor disproven, meaning it is not known. It’s all personal and that can’t be peer reviewed.
In the introduction, McGrath introduces us to Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins is of course a biologist, some might call him an Evolutionary Biologist, but a biologist all the same. Dawkins is the author of such books as “The Selfish Gene.” Which McGrath says that Dawkins was a successful and skillful scientific popularizer, before his “God Delusion” book. Today Richard Dawkins is an active member of the atheist community doing speeches and science lectures. There was a certain sentenance that got me a little upset where McGrath says:
How, I wondered, could such a gifted popularizer of the natural sciences, who once had such a passionate concern for the objective analysis of evidence, turn into such an aggressive antireligious propagandist with an apparent disregard for evidence that was not favorable to his case?
Richard Dawkins is an atheist and is rather antireligious, but he is still passionate about evidence. I’m sure Dawkins would argue that, to follow the evidence, would lead you to atheism or non-belief. Of the evidence that we are speaking of is evolution. As for being a propagandist is rather amusing to read. Dawkins is not intentionally wanting to convert people to nonbelief. He would enjoy seeing more people leave religion, but he is not doing it simply to convert.  Dawkins is explaining scientific understanding of the world we live in and how religion might ‘delude’ that fact. In the “God Delusion,” Dawkins explains why people might believe in “God,” through Darwinian evolution. Explaining the processes that it took to get humans to where they are today.
“The Dawkin’s Delusion” is a rather short book, and McGrath states that near the end of the introduction. The primary purpose of his book, supposedly, is to have a critical engagement with the arguments presented in “The God Delusion.” Which oddly enough, I didn’t find very critical. Sometimes McGrath will misquote Dawkins. For example, Dawkins does write in his book that he hopes to see religious people become atheists by the time they put down the book. Which McGrath quotes in “The Dawkins Delusion,” but doesn’t include the next sentence that Dawkins writes which is that he isn’t intentionally converting people. Also McGrath will continually state that a subject is more complex than Dawkins says, yet he doesn’t go into detail of this complexity. There’s also the section where McGrath quotes Dawkins on the complexity of God:
Any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.
Dawkins is saying that in order for there to be a God: Who created God? If we are created by God, who created God, and who created God’s God and so on. McGrath brings up, and misunderstands, Dawkins’s improbability of there being a God. Sure, Dawkins does say that a God would be too complex to possibly exist. However, Dawkins himself has stated that he believes 99.9% that God doesn’t exist, but there is still that .1%. You can’t be 100% sure that God doesn’t exist, because there is no evidence to support or deny there being one. But there is enough evidence that shows that the probability of there being a designer or a God is unlikely. The evidence being science and evolution.
Overall I feel that the book’s title is rather misleading in the fact that there is no fundamental atheists and you can’t deny a divine. Also it is extremely frustrating to read a book that is suppose to critically engage the reader with the arguments of another book yet it doesn’t explain it’s side well. McGrath continually brings up arguments from the “God Delusion” and yet doesn’t go indepth as to why he disagrees with them. That is probably why the book is too short, he doesn’t critically engage the reader with the arguments brought up in Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion.” He simply quotes Dawkins, saying that he is wrong and goes on to the next argument. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody. You will probably get a headache and put the book down and convert to Atheism. I do have to say that McGrath does write well. It’s just that his arguments toward Dawkins is rather weak and petty.
[This Appeared On Learning Uncensored]