Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Effort Sisyphus

You may have noticed the new look. The New New Look, since this is a second time I have changed in in a month. You may also have noticed the name change. So here are some questions you may have and answers to them:

What is Effort Sisyphus and why did you choose the new title?
If you unfamiliar with your Greek Mythology, you can read about Sisyphus here or here. Basically Sisyphus was condemned to hell with an eternal task of rolling a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down each and every time. I did not trick Hades into doing anything, I do not feel like I am in Hell.

However, I did lose my naivety about what can only be considered a Sisyphean task. I spent a lot of time thinking highly of myself, that if I put some clear, supported and linked information out there, people would be able to make decisions for themselves, and hopefully change their minds.

Simply said: Effort Sisyphus is a blog that presents well supported information on a variety of scientific, technical, ethical and moral topics for use by others to disseminate. I have no (more) illusions that my sole efforts will affect society at all. I just hope that my efforts will help other, more popular websites and blogs to bring our society to one that values critical thinking and respect for scientists.

It is the whole reason I spent days debunking the nonsense a company called Medis [1,2,3] was trying to promote. Its why I wrote some other posts for example:

I have also provided information like my list of atheist charities that is very popular. I have also posted some perspectives on science and critical thinking and morality, such as Building Blocks and Correct Thanking. I have also done a few posts that I thought would help people evaluate science, by helping them assess how good a study is. Finally, I have gone over a few fallacies that concern science and tech.

Well, that's just a summary, but to get back to the question, I have had tens of thousands of hits over the 2.5 years of doing this. I used to set out to do it this try to place information out there to help people change minds. Not to my way of thinking, but to conclusions that good evidence leads to. This doesn't appear to be what happens. People, for the most part, stay on course, sticking to dogma or what their teacher told them, or nonsense their president tells them.

The title change happened recently when I wrote DECT scares. I got a comment that basically said they read the post but were going to keep on being worried about it, completely missing the point that people are not electrosensitive and there are tons of good studies to prove it. Then Skeptico, pointed out to me how bad it really is, whole towns filled with people who are willing to believe in complete nonsense. It was pretty startling to me.

I shouldn't have been surprised. The overwhelming majority of my country and the world believes in a magical sky daddy and will act accordingly to that unsupported belief. They will in fact, demand that others also behave in accordance to that belief.

Anyway, I no longer will be posting to help people think rationally. They won't do it. I will be posting for myself, and the fun that I have in researching things and making information available to other bloggers who are far more popular than I am, and may have actual influence that I don't have.

You said people should change their mind if good evidence points them that way, have you ever changed you mind about a big topic?
Yes, of course, and its why I think people should be extremely willing to cast off their old opinions if new, stronger data, becomes available. I have changed my mind about three pretty big topics: Nuclear Power, the Dangers of DDT, and Woo.

I was adamantly against nuclear power. I now think its one of the safest, cleanest power generation technologies that we have today. I'll do a post on why soon.

I was adamant that DDT was a strong poison. It isn't, its just not as bad as it has been made out to be.

I was under the impression that if people wanted to believe that acupuncture helped them (and in fact it does for many people with many maladies) thenfine, so bit it. I no longer think that administering placebo and telling people that it is a real viable medicine is a good practice. Never mind the fact that it is unregulated and hurts people.

So, I no longer want to debate with people unless they have demonstrated that they have changed their mind about something else. If they are not open to changing their mind, they are not worth debating.

Why did you change the look again?
Well the old template simply didn't have the feel I was looking for. I had changed it the first time because I had received a number of complaints that the white words on black background wasn't working for some people. So I went with the green template. I didn't like some aspects of it, but it was more readable apparently (both looked fine to me). I also wanted to change it because a new perspective on blogging clicked with me.

Are there two authors now, someone doing Effort Sisyphus and someone doing TechSkeptic?
No, its just me, I left both titles so that it wasn't confusing when people arrived here from old links that are out there. Besides, Techskeptic (me) is still the author, Effort Sisyphus is my blog.

How should I refer to this blog?
I dont care.

What can we expect this new year?
No real changes. I will still post on things that I find interesting. I just have no expectations anyone will really care or change their minds. I have a few tweaks to do with this format, but this is pretty much the one I'm sticking with.

Will you ever come out from under your pseudonym?
I doubt it. I have revealed myself to people who have made clear that they are not a loony. And while I have been at the butt end of AdHom attacks ("anonymous advice is worth nothing" type stuff, as if knowing the persons name somehow makes the argument better), for the most part I have not had a problem with the anonymity. I'll just say that I am, perhaps not as ballsy as other more prominent critical thinkers out there. I am unwilling to expose myself or my family to the types of attacks that folks like PZ have experienced.

Well, to my few readers, I hope you stick with me. My style wont change much, I hope to remain as accurate as possible. I hope you comment often. But I didn't change my blog to reflect some new direction, I changed it to fix my brain.

Be well in the new year, be good to the people around you, presume that people you don't know are good people, they usually are.



On 1/1/09, 10:26 AM , Skeptico said...

This is a much better format. The green looked pretty tired, and is used all over the place. Did you design that banner or is it a standard one that comes with the template?

A couple of minor problems with the formatting. In this post:

- your list of other posts that comes after "some other posts for example" - in firefox the bullet points are off the left hand side of the page. In IE there are no bullet points at all.

- also, the line spacing changes at this point and lines are much closer together. I notice that happens on some other posts too. It should really be all the same, or maybe just different for the bulleted list.

Hope that's of use. I sympathize with you in your Sisyphean task, btw. That's the penalty for calling out woo.

On 1/1/09, 12:14 PM , Techskeptic said...

Thanks skeptico,

The main look was from the template (Elegance, which was originally a wordpress template). I redid the banner, added the polar bear (which I am still thinking about).

I have no idea how to fix the bullets for IE. and I noticed the lines pacing problem also. I'll have to try to fix it.

Thanks, I really appreciate it.

On 7/6/09, 5:51 PM , JZ said...

Hey dude, JZ here.

Effort Sisyphus, nice.

Regarding how people believe the things that they do, read chapter one (The Thinker & The Prover) of Prometheus Rising. Maybe you have already?

"All that we are is the result of all that we have thought. It is founded on thought. It is based on thought." — Buddha, The Dhammapada

On 6/30/10, 4:40 AM , Anonymous said...

The universe does not expand (skeptic) (against the mainstream)

I treat to demonstrate that the universe does not expand in my blog :

I recommend read the 4 works in and below the 15 conclusions.


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