Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Because they work, bitches.

XKCD is one of the most reliable webcomics out there, and lately creator Randall Munroe has been knocking them out of the park. Recent installments dealing with a sickness in his family have been really touching, handling the difficult emotional terrain without ever dipping into sentimentality. Munroe's a great writer, period, using stick figures, line drawings, and knowledge of mathematics and science as his tools.

Regarding science as a tool, one of this week's comics articulates the reasons why I trust in it over any other way of seeing the world as well as anything I've ever read on the subject. His ability to say so much in so little space is astounding. Look at how he balances confidence and uncertainty, respect and irreverence, seriousness and humor all in less than 150 words.



I read that and felt such gratitude. Best wishes to Randall and his family in this difficult time.

Since this is a dinosaur blog and I have some standards - loose though they may be - here's an XKCD that deals with dinosaurs.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks to you, I've added XKCD's feed to my Google Reader. By the way, I looked at the cartoon before reading your accompanying text, and thought at first it was about Christopher Hitchens.

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  2. I read XKCD every (other) day, and when I saw this one I immediately forwarded it to my wife, who sometimes blames me for converting her to athiesm.

    The alternative to organized religion is not some bleak, cold, mundane universe where nothing matters. Science not only tells us what is out there, it shows us that the world is a beautiful, wonderous place that we CAN understand if we learn to think, test, and keep an open mind. Bronze-age mysticism is not needed to look at the universe and marvel at its beauty and complexity, and it actively interferes with the quest to understand what it all means and what our place in it is.

    "We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon" resonates so much more with me than a list of what The Lord does and does not want me to do with my free will.

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  3. Laura - Cool! That makes me feel all glowy and happy. He's done so much great stuff that looking through the archives could wind up taking a whole day.

    Scott - I agree with that so much. It's hard to offend me, but there are a few things I won't up with and one of them is religious folk pitying me, or anyone else, for being atheist. Though I don't share their beliefs, I certainly don't pity them - it certainly wouldn't make friendships work!

    Since coming to the conclusion that yeah, I'm an atheist, I don't feel that I've lost anything of any worth. Nothing that can outweigh the honest apprecation of nature I've gained. I won't be pitied for that.

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