Thursday, May 27, 2010

By Jove, He's Right!

I can't believe I've never realized this before:

(by Sanjay Kulkarni, from Cowbirds In Love)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

JIm Gardner's review of "Atheism is a Religion"

Jim Gardner writes the blog How Good is That?.  I mentioned him recently; he inspired me to write my letter to the Catholic Church, as he did a while ago.  He has recently been arguing with Joe Cienkowski via twitter (Jim is @MovingToMontana), a crank born again who wrote Jesus Christ is God.  From the Amazon reviews, it appears to be a poor attempt to discredit evolution as "the religion of atheism."  I don't know what a good attempt at that would look like, but the reviews suggest this book is even worse than other creationist garbage out there.  Joe's twitter feed is equally vapid and obnoxious.  Read it with caution.

Jim got a hold of Cienkowski's new book: Atheism is a Religion, and is going to review the book via YouTube, on a point by point basis.  I really enjoy his blog, and am looking forward to the review.   It'll save me the trouble of reading what I expect to be utter tripe, and still feel smugly superior to this moron, so it's a win-win!

If you're interested in his review, follow his blog, he'll be posting the videos there.  Jim also has a request for anyone who enjoys his reviews:

Can I please ask those of you who intend to follow these reviews, or just want to show support, to donate as much as you can afford to UNICEF, using the link below.

UNICEF is a charity that actually does something for people who need help, instead of talking to themselves about it while hoping the Israelite God of war is listening in.

From their website:
UNICEF is the only organisation specifically named in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a source of expert assistance and advice on which governments can call. We are responsible for holding governments to account for the rights of children.
UNICEF is an organization I hadn't paid much attention to before, and I hadn't realized what important work they do.  I donated a small amount, won't you as well?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pope lays out threats facing the world today

Take a guess at what they are...

If you guessed abortion and gay marriage, you are right!  And if you agree with him, your completely wrong.

I especially love the way the article put it:

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called abortion and same-sex marriage some of the most "insidious and dangerous" threats facing the world today, asserting key church teachings as he tried to move beyond the clerical abuse scandal.

There it is.  Abortion and same-sex marriage is the problem, says the man who protects child rapists!

And then there's the pictures which accompany the article:

Oh god, what is that person doing?!  Get that kid away from him!!


OK, I'm being a bit facetious.  But knowing what I know about the church, I can't help but be disturbed by this.  Who in their right mind can still consider this Pope someone that should be trusted, let alone respected?  

I've asked questions like this before.  Are there any Catholics reading my blog at all?  I'm honestly curious to here from you.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where exactly is the problem?

Steve King, Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa, released a statement about same-sex marriages in Iowa:
Just over one year ago, when the Iowa Supreme Court decided to ignore Iowa law and grant same sex couples the ability to get married in our state, I predicted that the decision, absent action by the state legislature to enact a marriage license residency requirement, would turn Iowa into the gay marriage Mecca.” King said. “Now, the Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting that of the more than 2,000 same-sex couples who were married in Iowa between April 27, 2009, and March 31, 2010, sixty percent were from out of state.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen another legislative session pass without action on either a constitutional amendment to overturn the court’s decision, or a marriage license residency requirement to keep the harmful effects of the court’s decision from being imported by ‘altar shoppers’ into other states.

This new report from the Department of Public Health reemphasizes the short-sightedness of the court’s decision to enact a same-sex marriage law from the bench, and it provides even more evidence of the need for a residency requirement and a constitutional amendment to repeal it.

As the post's title suggest, I don't understand what the problem is here.  People are coming to Iowa from out of state.  That's tourism, and most states appreciate out-of-staters coming in and spending money in your state.  What are these 'harmful effects' you speak of, Rep. King?  Am I missing something here?

If you don't think gay marriage should happen, then say so.  If that's the case, you should want all gay marriages to be banned, not just ones coming from out of state.  This seems like a desperate ploy of a conservative who knows he's lost the battle on gay marriage, but still wants to stifle as many as he possibly can, regardless of the rationale behind his attacks.  

Draw Muhammad Day is Today

So today is Draw Muhammad day, and as promised I have my own drawing:

If you're offended by this drawing, what about it offends you the most?  Is it one of the stick figures?  Which one, and why?  Is it the name Muhammad?  Writing the prophet's name isn't against the rules.  IS it the intent behind it.  I can assure you I mean no offense to anyone, I simply wanted to make people think, and to support free speech.

Hemant at Friendly Atheist has a collection of them up, including mine, and a lot of people had a similar idea as I did, which is pretty cool.  I like the paradox Muhammad a lot, I wish I thought of it.  The self portrait cartoon made me laugh too.

So on a more serious note, we have to decide which one of the stick figures is the real Muhammad.  I've added a poll to the sidebar, so you can vote!  Let's decide together which Muhammad is the real Muhammad (that sounds like a Middle Eastern Enimem copycat song).

EDIT:  I also wanted to link to Greta Christina's drawing, and her explanation as to why it is necessary for us to participate.  If you disagree with Draw Muhammad Day, I would suggest reading Greta's explanation.  I think she hits all of the salient points.

SECOND EDIT:  Sorry for all of these.  But I found another Muhammad picture that I liked a lot.  This one incorporates Christopher Hitchens!  It's by Jeffrey Watson, who draws the comic strip Ape, Not Monkey, which is one of the comics I regularly check out.  I love his drawing style, and his commentary on religion and skepticism is spot-on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Draw Muhammad Day

As many of you probably know, tomorrow, May 20th, has been declared "Draw Muhammad Day."  It started when Comedy Central censored a South Park episode from showing Muhammad.  In response, many bloggers and other artists have decided to draw Muhammad, in protest of the censorship.

This is not about offending Muslims.  It is about showing extremists that they cannot stifle free speech, regardless of their bullying and scare tactics.  I respect the right of Muslims to hold whatever beliefs they wish.  But I also have my right to speak freely, and to not respect their antiquated, illogical belief system.    And as many have said before me, you don't have the right not to be offended.  That's what free speech is all about.  I don't go around actively trying to offend people, but I don't hold back criticism when I feel it is necessary.  And if that offends someone, then too fucking bad.  Defend your position.  I'm willing to listen to your arguments, and have a discussion about it.  And I won't threaten you with violence if you're critical of my beliefs.

What's most frustrating to me is that I have yet to hear from a Muslim who appears more upset by fellow Muslims physically attacking and sending death threats to a cartoonist and than by a stupid drawing.  I support the right for Muslims to be offended, to tell the cartoonists they are offended, to boycott newspapers which run cartoons they find offensive.  But to suggest that someone deserves to have their house burned down, or to be attacked, even in your own home while watching your granddaughter, for drawing a cartoon is madness.  

I'm sure there are some Muslims who don't approve of the violence, and its unfortunate that they may be offended by these drawings.  But I view this the same way I view other social protests.  In many cases, non-violent protest is an inconvenience to others who are not directly part of the problem.  When a group protests for marriage equality outside city hall, it may take some people longer to do what they need to do there.  This inconvenience is unfortunate, but its part of what makes the protest effective.  People become aware, and if it makes their life harder, and they are a fence-sitter (or just don't care either way), they'll support the change.  

Again, this is not about offending anyone.  The majority of the images I've seen thus far have been nondescript stick figures with smiley faces.  The only reason you would know it's supposed to be Muhammad is because his name is next to the picture.  In fact, Muslims have often changed the name (to Muhammad Ali, for example, adding boxing gloves and all).  I don't understand how that could possibly make it any better.  Does adding "Ali" magically change what the image is supposed to be of?  It doesn't change the intent of the original artist.  Of course, the intent never mattered in the first place, so I shouldn't be surprised.  It suggests that this is just arbitrarily following rules without thinking about them very deeply.

I'll be addressing these problem when I draw my Muhammad tomorrow (I'm no artist, but I'm pretty sure I can do a stick figure).  Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finally got around to it

So I posted a while ago (a looong while ago) that I was planning on requesting a formal act of defection from the Catholic church.  I described my reasoning behind doing this, rather than just walking away and not worrying about the church's recording in my previous post, I won't go over it all again.  Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't get around to finishing my letter at the time.

I finally got around to writing it today (Wi-Fi was crappy on the train).  And so as I promised in my earlier post, I'm posting the letter I will be sending to the diocese.  I'll also post any response I get from the diocese.  I'm leaving out one paragraph which contains some personal information about my parents and where I was baptized.  Other than that, I'll be sending the letter as it is here.  If you have any comments or suggestions on the letter, I'd love to hear them.

I mentioned that I got the idea to do this from Jim Gardner and his blog How Good is That?  If you read his letter, you'll probably notice that the structure of our letters is similar.  I modeled my letter after Jim's, because he was in contact with his diocese about the requirements for a formal act of defection when he wrote his letter.  I wanted to make sure I included the same information, to improve the chances of the church accepting my request.

Here is my letter:

Dear Bishop Murphy,

I was born into a Catholic family, but have not associated with the church since I was eight years old, and have been an atheist since fourteen. Until recently, I have been content to simply be informally defected from the church. However, recent Vatican policies no longer allow me to keep quiet my moral objections to the church. Therefore, I am requesting a formal act of defection be entered into the church records, to accompany documentation of my baptism, and any other events recorded, as specified in the Code of Canon Law.
Through a significant portion of my childhood, I attended mass and religion classes weekly. However, I have since come to the conclusion that the hypothesis that god exists is almost certainly false, and that the Catholic Church has not provided nearly enough evidence to support its claims about the supernatural and its privileged position. In addition, I find many of the teachings, beliefs and actions of the church morally reprehensible. I feel morally obligated to speak out against them whenever I can.
The most obvious offense is the sexual abuse of children, which has been a problem for the Catholic Church for decades, and has recently become an extremely public affair. I understand that the majority of priests in the church are good men. However, it is now clear that senior officials of the church, including then Cardinal Ratzinger, were complacent when these horrible offenses were brought to their attention. Rather than cooperate with authorities to ensure these abusive members of the church were justly punished, church officials covered for the abusers, moving many of them to different parishes, where they could continue to abuse more children. The church has shown again and again it is motivated by self-interest rather than compassion toward others, even innocent children.

The Catholic Church's willingness to lie about the effectiveness of condom use to millions of Africans currently dealing with an AIDS epidemic is also deeply unethical. The position of the church is clearly and demonstrably false, leading to one of only two conclusions: either church leaders are incapable of understanding the basic scientific facts about the effectiveness of condoms, or what I believe is more more likely, they are actively subverting the truth in order to perpetuate an archaic and irrational dogma. In either case, I have no interest in being associated with the resulting church. Catholics often boast about the humanitarian work done in Africa, including all of the AIDS treatment facilities run by the church. But their unwillingness to provide accurate medical advice is not real treatment; it is a power play used to subjugate a group of people in desperate need of help and compassion.

Again and again, Pope Benedict, like popes before him, has preached beliefs and attitudes which are hypocritical and antiquated. His attitudes toward women and homosexuals, along with the church's official policies, are demeaning, hateful and bigoted. In Mark 10:25, Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” and yet the Vatican's treasure of gold has been estimated by United Nations World Magazine to be worth several billion dollars.. The pope protects priests and bishops involved in the rape of innocent children, yet approves of the ex-communication of the mother and doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old girl, who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather. Note that the stepfather is still able to attend mass as he wishes. How can anyone honestly defend this mockery of morality?

All of these offenses, and many others I have neglected to list, would not matter if not for the fact that the very basis on which the church relies is obviously false. If the church were truly serving a god, I could rely on this god to take care of justly dealing with these issues. However, the evidence clearly shows that there is almost certainly no god, especially not the jealous, sadistic god of the Bible, or his somewhat more peaceful, but obviously deluded son Jesus.

The atrocities committed by this church makes staying a part of it, even as just a formality, something I can no longer tolerate. Thus, I formally request that the Church officially recognize that I am no longer a member of the Catholic Church. I would appreciate confirmation of this request when you are able to provide it. If there is anything else required of me to carry out my act of defection, please let me know what I must do.


Jeffrey Lawrence Satterley

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Poem to Oklahoma lawmakers

I often read my Google Reader feed on the train into work in the morning.  The Wi-Fi isn't great, so streaming video isn't feasible, so I usually star the ones I want to watch, and get to it when I get home.  Sometimes when I'm busy the videos pile up for a few days before I watch them.

PZ posted this video of Lauren Zuniga a while ago, but I just got a chance to watch it tonight.  And I have to say, wow. It's incredibly moving.  Beautiful and haunting.  I had to re-post it, on the off chance anyone here doesn't read Pharyngula (why the hell not?), or just missed this post.

If you're not familiar with the OK law.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remembering George #georgecarlinbday

Today would have been George Carlin's 73rd birthday.  His daughter Kelly (@kelly_carlin) has started a twitter thread for people to remember him by posting their favorite Carlin quote today, with the tag #georgecarlinbday.

I remember listening to my first Carlin comedy album when I was about 12 or so.  It's the first defining moment I can think of, when someone was telling me that there are a lot of people out there who are full of shit.  It made me question things that I had taken to be true because I was told they were true.  It made me the curious, questioning, analytical person I am today (for better and for worse).  Some think Carlin's comedy is overly cynical and pessimistic, but to me, Carlin exemplifies the fact that "a cynic is just an informed optimist."  People like George realize that human beings have a lot of potential, and we could be doing much better than we have so far.

I posted a few already on twitter (@JeffSatterley). Unfortunately one of my favorite bits doesn't fit in 140 characters, so I'll share it here

When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!


But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!


But I want you to know something, this is sincere, I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is fucked up.


Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would've been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say "this guy", because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man.


No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he's at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn't give a shit. Doesn't give a shit, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results.


So rather than be just another mindless religious robot, mindlessly and aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky incompetent father figure who doesn't give a shit, I decided to look around for something else to worship. Something I could really count on.


And immediately, I thought of the sun. Happened like that. Overnight I became a sun-worshipper. Well, not overnight, you can't see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I'm big on that. If I can see something, I don't know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know? So everyday I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we're not setting people on fire simply because they don't agree with us.


Sun worship is fairly simple. There's no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don't have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I'm unworthy. Doesn't tell me I'm a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn't said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun. But, I don't pray to the sun. Know why? I wouldn't presume on our friendship. It's not polite.


I've often thought people treat God rather rudely, don't you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday His day off. It's not nice. And it's no way to treat a friend.


But people do pray, and they pray for a lot of different things, you know, your sister needs an operation on her crotch, your brother was arrested for defecating in a mall. But most of all, you'd really like to fuck that hot little redhead down at the convenience store. You know, the one with the eyepatch and the clubfoot? Can you pray for that? I think you'd have to. And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan?


Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn't in God's Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn't it seem a little arrogant? It's a Divine Plan. What's the use of being God if every run-down shmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and fuck up Your Plan?


And here's something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? "Well, it's God's will." "Thy Will Be Done." Fine, but if it's God's will, and He's going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn't you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It's all very confusing.


So to get around a lot of this, I decided to worship the sun. But, as I said, I don't pray to the sun. You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he's a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.


For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that cocksucker out with one visit. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat.


So I've been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit's foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles, it's all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself.


And for those of you who look to The Bible for moral lessons and literary qualities, I might suggest a couple of other stories for you. You might want to look at the Three Little Pigs, that's a good one. Has a nice happy ending, I'm sure you'll like that. Then there's Little Red Riding Hood, although it does have that X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn't care for, by the way. And finally, I've always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I like the best? "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again." That's because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. None, not one, no God, never was.


In fact, I'm gonna put it this way. If there is a God, may he strike this audience dead! See? Nothing happened. Nothing happened? Everybody's okay? All right, tell you what, I'll raise the stakes a little bit. If there is a God, may he strike me dead. See? Nothing happened, oh, wait, I've got a little cramp in my leg. And my balls hurt. Plus, I'm blind. I'm blind, oh, now I'm okay again, must have been Joe Pesci, huh? God Bless Joe Pesci. Thank you all very much. Joe Bless You!

(transcription here

Happy birthday George!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Neil deGrasse Tyson receives a gift...

This is why I love Dr. Tyson.

(Video is here if you can't see the embedded one)

He can give a thoughtful and interesting lecture on the Saturn V rocket on the fly, while still acting like a kid receiving the Christmas present he asked Santa for.

The ending is my favorite part.  "Ignition sequence, fire. We have liftoff! We have liftoff! 32 minutes past the hour.  Apollo 11, to the moon!"

(via Reddit)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy National Day of Reason!

Today is the National Day of Reason, sponsored by the American Humanist Association, and several other skeptic and atheist groups across America.  It coincides with the National Day of Prayer (until the Supreme Court deems it unconstitutional, as it should).

I'm celebrating by donating blood.  I figure helping people by actually doing something is more reasonable than praying, which doesn't help anyone (other than perhaps yourself).

Unfortunately, I couldn't get an appointment today, so I'm going on Saturday.  Making the appointment today counts though, right?!

What are you doing to celebrate?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Vatican is Investigating...

The Vatican is actually being pro-active, and investigating three Catholic women's communities in Washington.  This sounds promising...
They were chosen for review as part of an extensive investigation into American nuns. The Vatican says it's following up on complaints of feminism and activism.
Feminism and activism...

What the fuck is wrong with this church?  They treat child rape like a joke, but suggest that women should be treated fairly, and you're suspect.  I didn't think it was possible for the Catholic church to appear any more clueless, given all that it did wrong during the the child rape scandal.  I guess I was wrong.

How can anyone take this shit seriously?  Are there any Catholics reading with a different take on this?  I'm honestly curious to hear from them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tim Minchin - Pope Song (NSFW)

In case anyone wasn't sure about Tim Minchin's views on the Catholic Church, here's a song about it.  It's probably NSFW, there are a couple  a few  several dozen F-bombs... And some cartoon nudity.


Is evolution a belief?

Facebook is one of my procrastination tools of choice (Friend me!).  I wouldn't say I'm addicted; I know people who spend a lot more time on it than I do.  But I've been known to spend my time reading random status updates, and joining groups like Petition to make it law that bendy buses make accordian noises when they go round corners (Well they should!) when I need a break from work. And being a big science geek, I join all of the pro-science groups, including pro-evolution groups.

However, there is a meme that's been propagated throughout a lot of these groups, which has culminated in the group:  Evolution is not a belief, it is something you accept.  This is obviously a reaction to religious anti-evolutionists equating evolution and creationism by suggesting that they are both "just beliefs."  Of course this is nonsense.  Evolution is based on observable evidence, and has changed over time as new evidence is encountered, just like any good scientific theory.  Creationism is wishful thinking; believing the Bible is true, without question because otherwise, you might have to question other things written in the Bible as well.

That said, I haven't joined the group, because the title itself is completely false.  I hold a belief that evolution is true; that's what it means to accept evolution.  We should not allow the religious to co-opt the word "belief."  It has several meanings, one of which is incredibly important for epistemology (theory of knowledge):  the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition to be true.

Most theories of knowledge require that someone belief a proposition (let's call it P) to know that P is true.  The standard view defines knowledge as justified true belief (and some way to deal with Gettier cases, which I'm not going to go into here).  So for anyone to know that evolution is a correct theory, it is necessary for one to first believe that evolution is correct.  Without belief, it is very difficult to argue that one can know evolution is true.*

As the great prophet Carlin (pbuh) once said: "Let's try to pay attention to the language that we all agreed upon."  The fact that one can believe in evolution doesn't put it on the same plane as creationism. I don't disagree with creationists when they say that evolution and creationism are both beliefs.  I disagree with they say that they are both just beliefs.  Evolution is not just a belief, to me and those who have taken the time to learn about it, it is a justified true belief.

* Even if we accept that evolution is a belief, it can still be refuted that we know evolution is true, based on our justification.  While I believe that we have an enormous amount of evidence supporting the theory, a skeptical** view of knowledge can assert that it is impossible to know anything using induction (see Hume's argument).

** The skeptical view should not be confused with the normal meaning of "skeptical" or "skepticism."  Epistemological skepticism a theory of knowledge that we do not, or cannot, have knowledge.  Although general skepticism isn't very popular, arguments for limited skepticism: the idea we cannot have certain types of knowledge that the standard view claims that we do have, are strong arguments.***

*** I highly recommend Epistemology by Richard Feldman, for anyone interested in a good introduction to epistemology.  It contains a good description of both the Standard and Skeptical Views, as well as a variety of theories about justification.  It's also very accessible and relatively easy to read, even for those who aren't well versed in philosophy.