Our January 7th service was jam-packed with fascinating, thought-provoking and useful material.
NTCOF member Mike Zaff, PT, presented a Moment of Science™ on two important subjects relevant to the science of our health. One was the lowering of the “normal” values of blood pressure to 120/80 by the American College of Cardiology. Higher values are now considered high blood pressure or hypertension. The reason for this is the growth of evidence that even mildly elevated blood pressures still cause greater “wear and tear” on the heart and blood vessels and, as may not be widely known, cardiovascular disease has been and remains the leading cause of death in the United States. The second subject was the fact that alcohol in any amount has been linked to cancer. That alcohol is a carcinogen has been known for at least 30 years but over the last 10 years or so it has become clear that no amount of alcohol is safe from the standpoint of cancer risk. There was then a lively discussion led by Mike about managing risks of many kinds in our lives.
NTCOF member and videographer John Gauthier then presented the first of three planned presentations on logical fallacies. This is such an important subject for Freethinekrs such as ourselves, because thinking comes with rules and few of us have formal training in the subject of logic. John focused on the structure of reasoning and how it can easily go awry with mistakes that many find easy to miss. This is key information as logical fallacies are literally mistakes in reasoning and, as such, understanding them is vital to thinking properly. For the process of gathering facts and then trying to make sense of them has always been a process of trial and error. And just as important as finding what seem to be (for now) the "right" answers is learning from mistakes, our own when necessary and, as much as possible, from the mistakes of others. Like superstitions generally, logical fallacies instruct us on what not to do. John plans to present the other two segments of his material coming up in February and March (or April).
The subject of the future is always a fascinating one, and always appropriate at the beginning of a new year. That presentation, by Tim Gorski, looked at the earliest beginnings of forming ideals of governance and political institutions. Plato's The Republic (written in 380 BCE!) seems to have started that project and has exerted tremendous influence ever since. And nothing in the Bible other than the idea of getting an ideal despotic ruler. Thomas More's book, Utopia, introduced the word “utopia,” by which he intended to say: “nowhere.” Then, beginning in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, as the pace of social, economic, political and technological changes accelerated, the future began to be imagined as potentially dystopian. Orwell's famous 1984 is perhaps the best-known of this genre. But before it came Jack London's The Iron Heel. Anyone who enjoyed London's The Call of the Wild, White Fang and Sea Wolf should consider adding The Iron Heel to their reading list. Another important aspect to thinking about this subject is to consider how our ancestors might consider our modern world. We, of course, see it as far better than the conditions under which people lived 100, 200, and 1000 and more years ago. But many people of those times might well have seen our present world as dystopian. The subject is a good one to include among “religious” subjects for many reasons. Too bad the traditional religions relegate it to the supposed “hereafter” and never address the many inconsistencies and absurdities of “heaven” and “hell.”
Please add your comments on these subjects!
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