Website Update Archive

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Where Have I Been

Quora LogoIt's been a while since I've posted anything on here. For a while, there, my goal was a post per week, and I was doing pretty good at it. Then, I discovered Quora, a high-quality question-and-answer site. It's kind of like social media for nerds. Basically, people post questions, and then other people write answers. Users can upvote or downvote the various answers. There's a 'feed' where you can browse through and read answers. You can choose topics you're interested in, or particular users you want to follow. The feed algorithm also uses your past Quora browsing history to choose answers you might be interested in.

What makes Quora so much better than a site like Yahoo Answers is the quality of the users and the subsequent content they create. There's a NASA instructor and flight controller, Robert Frost, who's very prolific about answering technical questions about space travel or the workings of NASA. There are actual astronauts like Clayton Anderson. There are former fighter pilots like John Chesire to answer with a first person perspective on flying military and commercial jets. There are best-selling authors like Mercedes Lackey, Helena Schrader, and Orson Scott Card. There's the actual founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. From time to time, they'll get well known experts in various fields to participate in answer sessions, such as Bart Ehrman and even Barack Obama. And then there are tons of intelligent and knowledgeable people, whose names you may not recognize, but who make great contributions.

Besides the community of contributors, Quora has a few things going for it that I don't have on my personal blog. Perhaps the two biggest are the built-in reader base and the built-in infrastructure. Even at my blog's peak popularity a few years ago, I didn't have many regulars. I would write an entry, and hope that people found it to read it. On Quora, I know there's a somewhat guaranteed audience. There are the people following whatever question I'm answering, the people following me in particular, and then any larger group the answer might get forwarded on to if it turns out to be popular. My most popular Quora answer has been viewed by over 250,000 people, and my next most popular, which I actually like better, has been viewed by just under 50,000 people. And compared to the page views on my personal website stats, I think the Quora stats tend more towards real people as opposed to spammers and bots. Quora has the readership and infrastructure to ensure that what I write actually gets read.

Another advantage is that it's highly interactive. It's not just me posting my own views. It's seamless to read what other people are writing. On days when I'm bored and only feel like being passive, I can just go and read other people's answers on Quora. And those answers can be quite educational. And if I come across something I'm actually interested in responding to, I can tag it for later. In fact, that brings up another advantage - a ready made pool of material to write about. Plus, because somebody had to post the question to begin with, I know that there's at least some interest in the topic.

So, I haven't abandoned this blog or website entirely, but I only have so much time per day to write. And right now, my main focus has shifted to writing on Quora. I'll still post more blog-appropriate posts from time to time, and just maybe reincarnate my Friday Bible Blogging series. But for now, if you're interested in reading things I write, go check out my profile on Quora. If you really like it, sign up for the site and 'follow' me.

Jeff Lewis's Profile on Quora

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Website Update - Top 10 Page List for February & March 2017

Top 10 ListWell, I fell behind again. I missed doing this list after February, so today is a two-fer.

There was only one newcomer between both months, but it's an entry I like a lot myself, Response to Kent Hovind Video - Bird Evolution. It really highlights how bad and misinformed creationist arguments can be. In fact, I'd even just included it on my new page, Recommended Reading - Evolution.

Speaking of, you may have noticed a new link in the side bar, Recommended Reading. I figure that with as many entries as I've written over the years, certain particularly informative ones just kind of get lost in the mix, so it might be useful for newcomers to have a list of some of those entries to start off with. There are also two sub-pages, one of which I already mentioned, Recommended Reading - Evolution and Recommended Reading - Religion.

Anyway, here are the top 10 most visited pages from this site for February and March:

Top 10 for February 2017

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  3. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  4. Autogyro History & Theory
  5. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  6. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  7. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  8. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  9. Response to E-mail - Are America's Hunters the World's Largest Army?
  10. Gamera Human Powered Helicopter


Top 10 for March 2017

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  3. Autogyro History & Theory
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Response to Kent Hovind Video - Bird Evolution
  6. Debunking an E-mail on Charities
  7. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  8. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  9. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  10. Response to E-mail - Are America's Hunters the World's Largest Army?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Recommended Reading - Evolution

Tree of LifeI write quite a bit about evolution, but if you're new to this site or the subject of evolution, it might be a little overwhelming to just browse through the site and read the articles at random. So, this page offers some recommendations on entries to start off with, to give you a good foundation before moving on. I very strongly recommend reading the first four essays in the Foundation section. And if you happen to doubt evolution for religious reasons, and have seen presentations or read material from some of the more prominent creationists (e.g. Answers in Genesis, Kent Hovind, Discovery Institute, etc.), then I'd also recommended the entries from the 'Responses to Misunderstandings and Creationist Arguments' section.


The Foundation


Exploring Other Evolutionary Concepts


Responses to Misunderstandings and Creationist Arguments

The first two of these are probably the most informative. They're also rather long. I took the time to respond in decent detail to a myriad of misunderstandings and misconceptions about evolution. The third is offered as a kind of example of the bad arguments many creationists use.


Further Reading, This Site

I've written quite a bit more about evolution and creationism. You can find most of it in the following archives.

  • Science & Nature Archive
    Evolution will be mixed in here along with a variety of other science topics. These entries tend to be more straight science.
     
  • Skepticism, Religion Archive
    These tend to be focused on skepticism, so the evolution related articles mixed in here will be more in response to creationists.
     
  • My Quora Profile
    Okay, this isn't exactly this site, but I do write a bit about evolution on Quora, and only adapt some of those answers for this blog. Evolution related answers will be mixed in with all my other Quor answers.
     


Further Reading, Other Sources

I'm actually going to link to a Quora answer I wrote with those types of sources. You can also see what others suggested.

Image Source: DavidPratt.info

Recommended Reading - Religion

Religion?I've written an entire book on religion, plus a ton of other essays for this site. That's a lot to expect anybody to read, so if you want the quick introduction, this is it.


For the super quick summary, I grew up as a Christian, with a strong and sincere faith. But as I grew older and learned more about religion and the world at large, I came to realize that religion simply wasn't true, and that atheism was by far the most likely explanation of the universe. The essays below explain all of that in a lot more detail.


Introduction

For Anyone Interested in Luring Me Back Into the Fold

  • How to Convert Me Back to Christianity
    This is a list of all the issues you would have to address to get me to reconsider the validity of Christianity, and whether or not to even be a Christian if you could demonstrate that it was true.
     
  • Standards of Evidence for Religion
    This is the type of evidence that would be required to convince me of the reality of gods or religions.
     

Additional Info

I've written a lot about religion. Here are four collections.

  • My Book, online
    I tried to keep the book short enough that it wouldn't be overwhelming, but long enough to be a good, informative introduction.
     
  • Religion Archive
    Pretty much all the religious essays I've ever written for this blog.
     
  • Friday Bible Blogging Index
    This is an ongoing effort to re-read the entire Bible as an atheist. I started off pretty good, but progress has been slow for a while.
     
  • My Quora Profile
    I write a fair amount about religion on Quora, though those answers are mixed in with all my other Quora answers.
     

Recommended Reading

Old Book Bindings, from Wikimedia CommonsIf you like this site, I'd recommend just looking around and browsing. But I've written nearly 1000 blog entries so far, not to mention all my static pages, so I know that you'd only get a small glimpse of everything I've written that way. So, I figured it might be useful to highlight a few essays and pages that are particularly useful or informative.


Disclaimers & What Not

  • Putting This Blog in Perspective
    Even if you disagree with practically everything I've written on my site, realize that we could probably still get along in person. There's a lot more I do in my day to day life, but not stuff that anybody would be interested in reading about.
     
  • Official Disclaimer
    The usual - this is all my own personal opinion, and doesn't represent any of the organizations I'm associated with.
     
  • Official Commenting Policy
    Basically - BNBR: Be nice, be respectful. Also, please provide references. And no spam.
     


Collections for Recommended Reading

For these subsections, there were so many recommendations, that I broke them out into their own pages:

  • Evolution
    I'm very, very intrigued by evolution, so I write about it a lot. And if I may say so, I think some of the things I've written are pretty informative.
     
  • Religion
    So, I'm an atheist. That's still a bit of an oddity in the U.S. (particularly in my neck of the woods), so here are some essays to start you off, with links to more info.
     


Politics

I know. Opinions about politics are like a certain body part - we all have one, and they all stink. But, since this is my personal website, I get to share mine (opinions about politics, that is).


Indices for Other Collections

There are a few subjects I've covered repeatedly, so I made indices for them. Since those indices might get lost amongst the rest of my entries, here are links to all of them.

  • The Ray Comfort Index
    Ray Comfort will always hold a special place on this blog for inspiring me to start it in the first place. This index contains all the entries I've ever written about him.
     
  • The Ben Carson Index
    I've actually written quite a bit about Ben Carson over the years. This is all of it.
     
  • Friday Bible Blogging Index
    This is an ongoing effort to re-read the entire Bible as an atheist. I started off pretty good, but progress has been slow for a while.
     
  • Book Review - God- or Gorilla?
    If you're really interested in creationist claims from 100 years ago, then this is the series for you. I reviewed a 1922 creationist book in detail.
     

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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