About pixie359

So, another blog pops up. I don’t really know how to start. Or where this is going. Or anything really. I suppose I’ll use this first post as a bit of an introduction. I would quite like to keep at least a veneer of mystique and anonymity, so I won’t use too many personal details, although I doubt I’d be hard to find for anyone who cared enough to bother looking for me.

I currently work for a small technology R&D company, working on healthcare technologies and washing machines.

I worked for a bit over two years in the NHS. I was in the lucky position of getting a wide range of interesting work, mostly in community services development. The NHS is a good thing, possibly the best organisation of any kind in the world. There are some problems that should be addressed, and there’s always going to be individual mistakes and horror stories, but it’s the reason that people don’t die from easily prevented and treated conditions because they’re poor.

Before the NHS, I ran pubs. You get to see a lot of life in pubs – there’s entire communities built around pubs, and it’s where people do the majority of their socialising. You see relationships going through every stage and you see people at their lowest and highest. There really is no substitute for being behind the bar at the local to know what’s going on. I had a lot of fun, but not exactly what I wanted to do in the long term. The money isn’t great and it isn’t exactly the healthiest lifestyle being surrounded by booze.

I studied Philosophy at a ‘jumped-up poly’. The institution was not academically outstanding, and will not be topping any achievement charts in the near future. However, I appreciate that the ethos was to provide opportunity to study and achieve to a much wider proportion of the population than would traditionally have access. The clarity of decent analytic philosophy is brilliant, and provides a lot of the critical thinking tools that are required to make a decent stab at understanding the world around us. I was particularly keen on ethics, which is the area that has had the biggest effect on my real life, whereas subjects like metaphysics are more for academic interest.

I’ve got a strong interest in science and technology, despite my fairly limited knowledge. I am amazed by the intricacy, scale and power of the universe and everything in it. I’m particularly awed by the variety and adaption of life to fit a range of environments. It’s our understanding of the world and our place in it that enables us to systematically improve our lives, whether through technological innovations, medical advances or the sheer joy of knowledge for the sake of it.

You might have guessed, but I’m a big fan of rationalism and s[k/c]epticism. I like to apply, although I can’t always do it properly and it doesn’t make me the most fun at parties, rigorous doubt to any claim that seems to need it. There’s a few things that I worry about, and think are Bad Things. I’m almost Dawkinsian in my opinion of religion, in that not only do I think belief in a deity is factually inaccurate, but I think religious belief is a bad thing because it leads to an increase in suffering in the world. All of the major religions have significant ethical issues, both in the theories they espouse and their practice.

Separately, but similarly, I’m not a big fan of complementary and alternative medicines. If a therapy has an actual effect, above that of a placebo, on any proportion of people, this would be demonstrated in appropriate trials. Until an effect can be demonstrated, people should not be allowed to sell or market that therapy, because there’s a real risk that people will not get the required treatment for real conditions.

I hope this provides a bit of a flavour of the sorts of topics I’m going to talk about. I’m interested in politics, science, rationalism, ethics and healthcare, and I guess these will crop up as themes. That doesn’t mean I will stick to these by any means depending on what’s going on with me and in the world at the time.

Since writing this introduction, I have started a Lancaster branch of Skeptics in the Pub. I don’t know where this should go, so it will remain an addendum until I next re-write this page. Find us on Facebook or Twitter @Lanskeptics, #LanSitP.

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