4 stars
Learn how to protect yourself from scams!

I took a class at my school. I learned how to take an idea in, think about it and decide how much truth it holds. Some people call this process “critical thinking” or “rational inquiry.” Call it what you will; all people should build this skill.

People across the world practice critical thinking. The people belong to a group called “the skeptic community.” Some members of the skeptic community stand tall with fame:

  • James Randi

  • Penn and Teller

  • Michael Shermer

  • Peter Bhoghossian.

I had to read a book for my critical-thinking class. I read Bullspotting by Loren Collins. Collins has worked in the skeptic community for years. He found his niche when he started to fight back against the Obama Birth conspiracy theory. But I had never heard of him. So, I started his book without bias.

I stopped believing in God in 2000. Since then, I took up critical-thinking as a hobby. I loved to learn about it. I loved to learn about who practiced it. But I never spent time learning how to practice it myself. At last, I learned when I read Collins’ book.

As I read, I learned about the dangers that come when bad ideas get popular. I learned about the hazards you risk when you take a false idea as true. Then, I learned how to stay safe from these risks. I learned how to see if an idea follows good logic. I learned how to see the symptoms of lies, bad science and empty claims. And, I learned about the different shapes and sizes that these threats come in. For instance, a rumor starts from one of three causes:

  • someone heard something wrong

  • someone understood something wrong

  • someone remembered something wrong

Also, a person will pull off a hoax (or scam) for one of three reasons:

  • for fun

  • for money

  • to get ahead in their own way.

Collins spends time telling stories of famous conspiracies and hoaxes from the past. He goes into detail about how they started, how they grew and how they ended. Then, he looks at the symptoms they held; he shows how they fooled us. At last, he shows us how we could have spotted the lies and saved ourselves from damage. Collins covers topics like:

  • Holocaust Denial

  • Moon Landing Denial

  • Alternative Medicine

  • 9/11 Truth Conspiracies

  • Creationism

  • 14th Amendment Citizenship in the USA.

When you read Bullspotting, you will get smarter. You will gain knowledge when you read it. And, you will get a weapon: you will get a skill that filters out nonsense as you take in new information. This will make you learn with more efficiency.

Bullspotting holds only two-hundred pages. But it goes by at a slow pace. It goes at this pace because its two-hundred pages hold a lot of information. I wanted to take it all in as I read. And I wanted to understand it. And keep it. So, I took my time to read it. And so should you.

I read Bullspotting; I feel smarter than ever. Also, I feel safer. I feel safer because I will never fall for a scam again. I will never make a bad decision. I will never get a treatment that science doesn’t say works. And, I thank Collins for that.You should read the book yourself.

You can get a copy here.


4 stars
Taste a blend of spicy and sweet chocolate from a guy who left the Corporate world!

My wife Lisa got me a chocolate bar on Saturday. Before I ate it, I read the back of the wrapper to learn more about it.

This chocolate bar came from a company called Chuao Chocolatier. A man in Venezuela started the company. First, he left his technical career; then, he went to Paris to learn to cook. Later, he found his calling—making chocolate (About Chef Michael). This story touched me; like him, I left my technical career. I still seek my calling, but this guy’s story gives me hope.

Chuao calls the bar I got Spicy Maya. Spicy Maya mixes dark chocolate with cinnamon, cayenne pepper and pasilla chile (Spicy Maya Bar). I love all these things. So I could not wait to taste them together in a single bar.

I unfolded the wrapper; I took the bar out. I brought it close to my nose, closed my eyes and took a deep sniff. I smiled.

I opened my eyes. I broke a square of chocolate off of the bar. I put it into my mouth. I rubbed my tongue around the bottom of the square. Then, I sucked on it. I tasted the flavors, one by one.

First, I tasted the chocolate. A sweet, creamy feeling filled my mouth.

Then, I tasted the cinnamon. First, I noticed it in my nose. Then, the taste moved down into my mouth; it mixed in with the chocolate. It made me think of Christmas-time.

Then, I tasted the cayenne pepper. Then, the pasilla chile. The spices gave a kick to the sweetness from the chocolate and cinnamon. It made me think of Mexico, where people like their chocolate spicy!

All these flavors blended. I closed my eyes again; I felt like I was floating up to the clouds. But soon, the chocolate melted away in my mouth. I swallowed it. I fell back to reality.

So I broke off another square from the bar. I ate it. I started the process over again!

This chocolate is wonderful. Try it, if you get a chance.

Sources

About Chef Michael. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://chuaochocolatier.com/about/chef-michael/
Spicy Maya Bar. (n.d.) Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://chuaochocolatier.com/chocolate-bars/bars/spicy-maya.html


4 stars
Take an imaginary trip to the jungle as you enjoy a sweet snack!

This review first appeared here - https://pegdad.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/coconut-ash-banana-bar/

Downtown Houston holds a large liquor store. It sells more than liquor, though. It sells fine foods like deli-meat, artisan-cheese and gourmet-candies.

One rainy Memorial Day, I went there with my family. My mother-in-law shopped for bourbon; my wife shopped for red wine; I shopped for dark chocolate.

I found a bar, made by a chocolatier called Vosges Haut Chocolat. They called this bar the Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark™ Chocolate Bar. What’s in it? Besides 72% dark chocolate, it has coconut, charcoal coconut ash, and banana (Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark™ Chocolate Bar). I grabbed it; I bought it. I had to try it.

When I got home, I sat down on the couch to enjoy my new adventure in chocolate. I started to unfold the wrapper. But then, I saw something on the wrapper. the chocolatier printed a list of steps to follow when you eat the chocolate bar:

SMELL. Rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the aromas. Inhale the chocolate and ingredient notes deeply through your nose…

SNAP. …Break the bar into two pieces. Hear a crisp, ringing snap, which indicates a well-tempered bar of chocolate.

TASTE. Place the chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty seconds, the chocolate should slowly begin to melt around your tongue… (How to eat chocolate at Vosges:The Art of Eating Chocolate)

Fascinating.

So I followed my directions. I rubbed the bar with my thumb; I smelled it. The sweet smell turned my blank stare into a smile.

Then, I broke off a piece from the bar; I put it in my mouth; I pressed it up with my tongue. As it melted, the flavors came out. First came the chocolate, strong and dark. Then, the banana pieces made it lighter and sweeter. Then, along came the coconut: it added some more sweetness and gave the chocolate some crunch. The mix of coconut and banana made me feel like an ape in the jungle.

All the flavors in the bar worked together to create something wonderful. This bar brought pleasure to three of the five senses: smell, taste and touch. I tried this bar with the goal of having a nice snack. Instead, I got more; I got a delightful experience.

In other words, this is good chocolate. You should try it, if you get a chance.

Sources

Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark™ Chocolate Bar (n.d.) Retrieved on Jun 29, 2017, from https://www.vosgeschocolate.com/product/coconut-ash-banana-bar

How to eat chocolate at Vosges:The Art of Eating Chocolate (n.d.) Retreived on Jun 29, 2017, from http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/how_to_eat_chocolate