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Faith in tables
July 17, 2010 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense
posted by fish tick (61 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Love this!
posted by gallois at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2010


Heh. I just spotted this somewhere else 5 minutes ago and posted it to Twitter, honest.
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. I like that acupuncture is in there, post-AMA endorsement.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


We've had the Periodic Table of Periodic Tables. This thing must surely be dead by now.

If not, someone please kill the zombie meme.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:14 PM on July 17, 2010


No! Please do NOT kill the Periodic Table meme! It's the best alternative we've got to website 100+ item one-click-per-item 'listicles"...

I'm surprised I couldn't find an entry for "Climate Change Denial". What? He didn't want to be controversial?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


If someone wanted to make a Periodic Table of Something with a clickable image in each square, how would a non-designer do so? I'm asking for a friend.
posted by lukemeister at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2010


The Zombies meme probably could do with a bit of a rest, tbh. Also Vampires and Bacon.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Credit where it's due: Nearly all "periodic table" memes actually bother to give a crap about the actual purpose of the periodic table, and are not meaningfully different from lists that simply attempt to leverage the pop/geek-culture value of the Periodic Table. This one actually has a serious system of groupings, even if the numbers in the boxes are, as usual, pure gibberish.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


...and, of course, I mean "nearly no periodic table memes." Not all. Argh.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:44 PM on July 17, 2010


It's funny that 'conspiracy theory' has an atomic number of 911. Because, you know, it's absurd to suggest that the 9/11 attacks were the product of any kind of conspiracy.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 2:49 PM on July 17, 2010


lukemeister: what you want is an image map. Some WYSIWYG editors will do this.
posted by desjardins at 2:52 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought it was kind of silly verging on dumb and then I saw "Holocaust Deniers" placed in the column of "Fucktards" and I admit it - I LOLed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see Trickle-Down Economics anywhere.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:56 PM on July 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm just going to sit here and watch everyone called out by one of the elements splutter and make excuses.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:57 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is good.
posted by killdevil at 3:00 PM on July 17, 2010


It's funny to see Hollow Earth filed under "Extra Terrestrial", when by definition it is sort of intra-terrestrial.
posted by oulipian at 3:04 PM on July 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


i can hardly wait for the vatican's periodic table of heresies and mortal sins - and the tea party's periodic table of socialist evils
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know what? No. I don't want to know what "cupping" is.
posted by The Whelk at 3:17 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's funny that 'conspiracy theory' has an atomic number of 911. Because, you know, it's absurd to suggest that the 9/11 attacks were the product of any kind of conspiracy.

I think they're referring to people who think Loose Change was accurate or that Dick Cheney and a cadre of cartoon Jews did WTC 7 with the help of Satan and an acetylene torch.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:25 PM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


They left out Mormonism.
posted by Catblack at 3:28 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess this is supposed to be humorous and all, but when you use the same symbol for multiple elements, it just seems lazy. X is used for both Exorcism and Xenoglossy, and Cu is used for both Chupacabra and Cupping. I wish the people that made these little periodic table memes actually gave a shit about the periodic table in more than just an aesthetic sense.
posted by fryman at 3:31 PM on July 17, 2010


Also thought it was kind of meh, until I saw that Homeopathy had the atomic number 1023. As in 6.02x10^23, Avogadro's Number. Heh, okay, very clever.
posted by darkstar at 3:37 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know what? No. I don't want to know what "cupping" is.

Then just know that it is stupid and pointless, but not as horrific as some other medical "treatments."
posted by That's Numberwang! at 3:46 PM on July 17, 2010


Inspector, here you go. Sort of.

I know he's referring to glossolalia as in speaking in tongues, but it can and does occur as a result of neurological problems. You know, beyond being religious.

I'd also argue that he's referring to the (overwhelmingly) popular definition of "karma." It has nothing to do with being a bad person and having bad things happen to you. It's really just the idea that what you do is what constitutes who you are, which is pretty obvious.

Also, I was under the impression that there was evidence for certain applications of acupuncture and mega doses. The one I've heard of just utilizes the flushing properties of niacin, which is certainly true.
posted by cmoj at 3:52 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cupping. It's traditionally used in acupuncture and has its basis in Eastern medicine, but from my own Western view, it's pretty good at loosening up fascia and connective tissue.
posted by hopeless romantique at 3:54 PM on July 17, 2010


It's funny to see Hollow Earth filed under "Extra Terrestrial", when by definition it is sort of intra-terrestrial.

it's where all the Nazi UFO bases are!
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on July 17, 2010


This is all you need to know about cupping.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:04 PM on July 17, 2010


hopeless romantique: "Cupping. It's traditionally used in acupuncture and has its basis in Eastern medicine, but from my own Western view, it's pretty good at loosening up fascia and connective tissue."

It's weird from a Western viewpoint and leaves ugly marks (that do fade in about a week), but you do indeed feel very relaxed afterwards. All the rest about chi and sucking out toxins is just silly.
posted by bwg at 4:08 PM on July 17, 2010


I knew a geologist who used dowsing to find water wells. He told me his company would bring all this scientific-looking equipment out into the field to impress the clients, then once the client had left they would get out the dowsing rods.
posted by telstar at 4:09 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not to be confused with spooning.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute -- you mean to tell me that Christianity is Irrational Nonsense *besides* its Id, A, J, S, Bs, X, Gs, Wtf, Kn, Z, Pr, Ar, Fa, Mg, and Ap? Hmm, must be something about the Trinity...
posted by flechsig at 4:16 PM on July 17, 2010


We should set up the Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense on a blind date with the Periodic Table of Swearing.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2010


I knew a geologist who used dowsing to find water wells. He told me his company would bring all this scientific-looking equipment out into the field to impress the clients, then once the client had left they would get out the dowsing rods.

Irrational nonsense believed by otherwise intelligent people is still irrational nonsense.
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on July 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


Physics is the first element of non-sense ?
I always knew there was something odd about Einstein
posted by Flood at 5:21 PM on July 17, 2010


It's a pity the creators of this do not know what irrational means.
posted by oddman at 5:49 PM on July 17, 2010


I wonder how many of us browsed this chart with our fingers crossed*, hoping we wouldn't come across something we still pretend to not believe in.

* Crossing fingers is, yes, covered by Km, Vo, Mg, Wtf and, oh, probably C.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 6:12 PM on July 17, 2010


[this is good]
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2010


On dowsing: so wait, you'd scientifically find out with instruments where the water was, then later pull out the dowsing rods to confirm this? Proceeding in the opposite order would have been more impressive.
posted by el io at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2010


I can't believe el chupacabra is on there, that's what I can't believe.
posted by Mister_A at 7:11 PM on July 17, 2010


It's a pity the creators of this do not know what irrational means

He appears to know exactly what irrational means:

ir·ra·tio·nal: not rational: as a (1) : not endowed with reason or understanding (2) : lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b : not governed by or according to reason
posted by lexicakes at 7:14 PM on July 17, 2010


This doesn't say anything about the "woo" that is supposedly its target, but it is a good representation of the pointless compulsion felt by so many skeptics to apply the methods of physical sciences to social analysis. Where's "Sc - Scientism"?
posted by stammer at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, as a staunch atheist (though really, I'm not even comfortable with that term, since active disbelief in the idea of God gives that idea too much power for my liking) and all-round rational person, I should be square in the target market for this, but I just find myself put off by a grating humourlessness not too deep beneath the joke.

I have no use for the idea of god, but find my life deeply enriched by the comparative study of religious texts, for the same reason I find it enriched by great poetry and music. Yes, many people involved in their creation or dissemination actually believed in the great watchmaker in the sky. People also drank from lead mugs in Shakespeare's time, but I still read Hamlet. And I'm not sure what calling Taoism and Buddhism "delusional" even means, especially as modern western philosophy and psychology increasingly come to many of the conclusions already reached by the secular wings of both of those traditions. Lao Tzu and D.T. Suzuki strike me as two of the most rational people the world has produced, their crazier adherents notwithstanding.

It makes me think of those insufferably uptight folks who call themselves rationalists but are really just terrified of anything not fitting into their carefully honed materialist/mechanistic philosophy, and would rather none of it get too close lest it expose them for what they are: fundamentalists.

Fully aware of the irony of my being so humourless about this.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:42 PM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


SCIENCE!
posted by Balisong at 8:44 PM on July 17, 2010


>. And I'm not sure what calling Taoism and Buddhism "delusional" even means

There is no proof for karma, rebirth, etc. I don't see why this is so hard to understand. What I hate about these kinds of lists is that it brings out the usual "Oh, but x or y isn't so bad, if you remove all talk of chi, reincarnation, toxins, spirits, its history, how its been used in the past and present, etc." If you need to make a massive reduction of a thing then you are simply not talking about the same thing. Oh, I'm sure your "California" Buddhism is sans the culture that Buddhism stems from and neatly removes any superstition and sheds its conservative morality, but I don't think that's whats being targeted here.

>It makes me think of those insufferably uptight folks who call themselves rationalists but are really just terrified of anything not fitting into their carefully honed materialist/mechanistic philosophy

Maybe we're just sick of socially acceptable bullshit more than we are "terrified of anything not fitting" our worldviews. Cute generalization, but skeptics make stupid little charts like these that make no difference while the theists control society, control laws, etc. Personally, I would love for magic to be real, but it seems that's not the case. I wouldn't be terrified. I would be delighted!

The skeptics have a tough fight. People want to believe. They want to justify. They want to reduce these items into more defensible theories, but its still far from convincing. Don't worry, these cheesy charts don't change anything. Someone will be stoned to death in the middle east for adultery or witchcraft today and people like Kevin Trudeau will continue get rich. At least skeptics protest this stuff and point out very crowd friendly irrationalism like Buddhism, instead of making excuses for it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew a geologist who used dowsing to find water wells.

And everyone knows a psychic person and everyone knows someone with prophetic dreams and everyone knows someone who has seen a ghost, but not everyone knows what confirmation bias is or how perceptions and anecdotes can often be wrong. If we had more people of the latter group then there would be less people of the former group. All you're saying is that you know people with tall tales. Great, but they're better off writing fiction than pretending any of this is real. Dowsers are just like psychics. When we challenge them under proper controlled conditions suddenly their powers disappear. Funny how that works.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but if that's true then your friend should be able to win a million dollars from James Randi. I won't be holding my breath though. Something tells me your pal is as good at dowsing as I am.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:52 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you need to make a massive reduction of a thing then you are simply not talking about the same thing. Oh, I'm sure your "California" Buddhism is sans the culture that Buddhism stems from and neatly removes any superstition and sheds its conservative morality, but I don't think that's whats being targeted here.

By your logic, the next time someone tries to talk to me about astronomy I'm just going to shout "PTOLEMAIC MODEL!" and walk quickly away, then. Because obviously, past acceptance of a geocentric cosmology pretty much invalidates any new developments in the field, and anyone who suggests otherwise is engaging in a disingenuous "massive reduction" of the matter being discussed.

Look back far enough and the established hard sciences can count some pretty wacky ideas in their pedigree. They were expunged, not through rejection of the scientific model (the baby-with-the-bathwater approach), but through its further and more rigorous application.

There is an essentially parallel process to be found in the history of Buddhism. Zen specifically could even be considered a spiritual tradition of skepticism. And as someone interested in the field (though most certainly not a Buddhist), I feel comfortable ignoring anyone still seriously talking about reincarnation for the same reason I can be interested in climatology but feel comfortable ignoring scientists who deny climate change.

Don't worry, these cheesy charts don't change anything. Someone will be stoned to death in the middle east for adultery

Uh, yeah, you got me, that's what I hope for every time I contemplate the nature of ego. I am willing to admit a long history of human thought into my reflections on the field of psychology, therefore I hate sex and women.

Next time you make a rational stand for SCIENCE!, at least leave out the more obvious logical fallacies. And at least bother to scare up some basic familiarity with what you're in such a rush to condemn in the name of skepticism.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:41 PM on July 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


It makes me genuinely sad that Karma is part of this table. All that theory posits is that actions are causes, and causes have effects. It's a philosophy, not a prescription - it attempts to explain reality, it does not create laws but attempts to deduce them... and isn't this - and science - all about 'making sense' in precisely that way? Especially because so much else in the table is religious unreason, it's not very bright to include and simultaneously dismiss Karma as a whole in this way. To say Karma is irrational nonsense is more like saying Hegel is irrational nonsense than like saying Christianity is irrational nonsense.

From Wikipedia:
Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts. Karma means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction that governs all life. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment.

Karma is not fate, for humans act with free will creating their own destiny. According to the Vedas, if one sows goodness, one will reap goodness; if one sows evil, one will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.
Stings more because I was just reading the Gita just this morning, reveling in its elegance and how exquisitely temperate it is. Which seems to be a sorely lacking quality in modern existence - temperance, I mean.

Ah well, I should be used to such irrational rationalism by now.
posted by mondaygreens at 10:47 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well alien abduction, while nearly infinitely improbable, is still possible..
posted by MrLint at 11:00 PM on July 17, 2010


I have, perhaps, a twisted sense of humor, but I hope that once humanity does make first contact, and after a few decades of sombre, peacable discussions, our two species share a few social intoxicants and find out that "Hey yeah, we totally used to abduct y'all. Just the stupid shit you do when you're prepupal. Eat a few methane crystals, hotwire your broodsire's pleasure disc, cruise the prewarp planets looking for monkeys to fuck with. Like tipping cows! Decades of it! Used to post the visual recording to Zorblaxtube! Heaps of fun!"
posted by Jilder at 11:25 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


It makes me genuinely sad that Karma is part of this table.

So many seem to think that "karma" means something like "payback" or "just deserts". But, as the wiki points out, its meaning is closer to something like "action". Including, but not limited to the Newtonian idea that "for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction". No one reads that and thinks "woo woo"...the idea of karma is likewise dispassionate, in my opinion and experience.
posted by telstar at 11:48 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


The most irrational nonsense of them all is not listed: Love.
posted by cazoo at 11:51 PM on July 17, 2010


Hey, crop circles are not irrational nonsense. They're fine art.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:05 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"fucktard"

Ah, how classy.
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:42 AM on July 18, 2010


Wait, isn't this next month's programming guide for the History Channel?
posted by gimonca at 8:29 AM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is no proof for karma, rebirth, etc.

The farther back you go in the traditions that talk about these things, the more they clear make it that these are just ways of speaking about concepts. It's the "California Buddhists" (I think... whatever those are) that take these things literally. I've asked a couple if Tibetan Buddhists, while in Tibet, point blank whether they literally believed they'd come back as someone else or some other animal. No they did not. Reincarnation is the idea that we just dissipate back into the world from which we came.

I think it's safe to say in the climate of this thread that probably all religious/prescriptive interpretations of philosophies are bullshit. The philosophies, not necessarily.

Obligatorily, IANAB.
posted by cmoj at 9:39 AM on July 18, 2010


Obligatorily, IANAB.

I am not a blog?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2010


sigh. He is not a BOTANIST. Obviously.
posted by desjardins at 10:02 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The farther back you go in the traditions that talk about these things

Right. When the buddha openly talks about speaking to Devas and other supernatural entities, its all part of a post-modern take on the nature of th ego, right? No, these are literal things in many traditions of this religion. There is no purely rational religion. They are all steeped in supernaturalism by thier nature. If they weren't then they would be classified as philosophies.

All that theory posits is that actions are causes, and causes have effects.

These actions generally are described as taking place in the next life or via supernatural mechanism and your karma deciding what your next rebirth will be. For most Buddhists, this is not a fancy allegory, but a real like reality life how Christians think of heaven. Buddhism belongs on this chart and its foolish to deny it. All religions do.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:32 PM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obligatory wiki link: Abhiñña
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:35 PM on July 18, 2010


Gautama also refused to speculate about the afterlife or the existence of a creator. And also spoke openly about doing the kinds of things you talk about in his meditation. Inside his own mind. It's also worth noting that in all kinds of eastern philosophical traditions it was considered unethical to put your own name on a text you wrote that was influenced by a previous thinker, which is why people like Gautama and Lao Tzu have been attributed writings hundreds of years after their deaths (and even though Lao Tzu supposedly refused to write anything down).

Buddhism has morphed into a religion for a lot... okay, most people, but that's not my problem, or Gautama's fault. Who, as you may also know, specifically denied that he was any sort of deity.

Oh, and Wikipedia's description of Devas seems to me to lend itself pretty well to allegory.
posted by cmoj at 5:07 PM on July 19, 2010


damn dirty ape, you seem to have an extremely narrow and simplistic understanding of religion, which is convenient for your argument that religion is narrow and simplistic. It does not, however, have fuckall to do with the reality of how a "Buddhist" or a "Hindu" thinks, no matter how you define those categories.

You should really worry about the absolute lack of compunction with which you are able to not only conflate Christianity with other religions but also decouple yourself from the religious and denounce them at the same time. It's only fascists who are not open to conversation, and only fundamentalists who have the need for such a reductive and thoroughly unnuanced bifurcation of human beliefs into "rational" and "irrational". Do you deal in money? Do you know how money works? Please don't get on a high horse about irrational belief - there's nothing more irrational than the need to contain irrationality within "religion" or "faith". To begin with, it's an irrational fear of the unknown that leads to tables like this, and arguments like yours.

Never mind.

This is why I mentioned being saddened by the inclusion of Karma, because it means that someone's mind has already been made up about its subjects, that some very elegant and historically meaningful belief systems have been not only compared but already equated with American commercial fads and media-propagated conspiracy theories, and actual conversation about either is no longer possible. You just proved that further. You can tell yourself this conversation is over because of the thoroughness and good ol' greatness of your logic. But that's really, really not the case. These things are only the same because you're saying they're the same. You're making them the same. And that too, extremely poorly.

Honestly, your argument is just... crap. It isn't even a little open-minded to anything else, let alone open to being wrong or just plain shortsighted; there's no real way I can enter or engage with it - and I'm an atheist. Forget ever getting to talk to an actual Hindu or Buddhist with an argument and attitude like that.

And in this way you can continue thinking that what you don't know is worth nothing.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:36 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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