Tag Archives: gibberish

No smugness here

Jonathon Freedland wrote about the hate email he’s been getting from Americans who tell him, in picturesque terms, that non-Yanks shouldn’t have opinions on the US election.

The counterblasts featured all the usual themes ….America had saved Europe’s “ass” twice before — and we would doubtless come bleating for help again when we inevitably sought rescue from the Muslim hordes imposing sharia law on London, Paris and Berlin. We can’t defend ourselves, of course, because we are limp-wristed “Euroweenies”, effeminate socialists whose own decline robs us of the right to say anything about the United States, which remains the greatest nation on earth. …….
One Bill07407 managed to capture the flavour of this virtual avalanche — including the curiously homoerotic undercurrent that runs through much rightwing American invective — with this effort: “If you want Comrade Obama we will gladly ship him over after he loses in a landslide. Meanwhile you can kiss my ass. I bet you would enjoy it faggot.” Equally reflective, this from bioguy777: “I love it! A pansy-ass limey Brit begs the US to do his bidding while his own country slips further towards total Islamic rule. We’re electing McCain, and the rest of the world can piss up a rope if they don’t like it. 1776, BITCH!(from the Guardian).

I am impressed by the sheer energy of this rhetoric. But a bit stung, on a patriotic basis. Surely, our own home-grown right wing nutters can’t achieve this level of ranting? This is a hard act to folllow. These comments manage to combine communism; homo-eroticism; islam and the bottom word. all . They are slightly lacking in the random-capitalisation and generous-use-of-exclamation-marks that normally distinguish such comments, but nobody’s perfect.

Bah, can the British product compete in this growing international market?

I was irresistibly drawn to the Daily Express by a front page I saw today which claimed that muslim fanatics were planning an attack on EastEnders (a British soap) I fought back the thought “Finally, a use for Al Qaeda.”

The Daily Express. Surely, if there’s a serious national challenge to foreign rabid-ranting supremacy, it must be in the Daily Express? The Express has a website. Imagine my delight to find it even has a Have Your Say page.

I would have to say the Express may be guilty of trying to juke the stats though. It may be trying to win an award from the twat-a-tron. It provides a list of questions that its readers might want to Have their Say about. These topics have obviously been cynically calculated to get comments by the shit-bucketload, applying a simple “Bull and red rag” principle.

More Have Your Say
•Should it be illegal to break manifesto promises?
•Is it time for Labour to stop bankrupting Britain?
•Is Brown to blame for credit crunch?
•Should ALL police forces get back to basics?
•Have you had enough of high taxes and poor services?
•Is Gordon Brown a laughing stock?
•Should Labour halt the war on motorists?
•Are we living in a Big Brother state?
•Should doomed Brown take the hint and quit?
•Is ‘nanny’ Brown just full of hot air?
•Are rubbish fines just a way of ripping us off?
•Have you been badly affected by the dismal property market?
• Will ex-soldiers bring discipline to our schools?
CLASSROOM yobs will be brought to heel by former soldiers trained as teachers, the Conservatives pledged last night.
• Should Ecstasy be downgraded from a Class A drug?
ECSTASY could be downgraded from a Class A drug despite a three-fold rise in the number of deaths.
• Does our benefits system reward scroungers?
TODAY The Daily Express reported that Brits are better off on benefits.
• Are you sick of the EU meddling in British affairs?
TODAY the Daily Express reported that British motorists will soon be forced into driving with their lights on in the daytime under a new EU edict.

Hah. I don’t even need to read the comments. The Express reporters might as well have written them at the same time they picked the topics. They know exactly what buttons to press to get that fear-filled little-England worldview spewed out to fill their empty webpages.

I spent a fair bit of time scanning the 99 “benefits scroungers” comments but you could tell their hearts weren’t in it (maybe with some secretly fearing they might end up in that category themselves, in a world recession, and are possibly suddenly realising that £60 a week would barely heat and light their homes, let alone feed them.)

Better entertainment from the “ex-soldiers” in schools thread. I become uncomfortably aware that not only do these people hate and fear children (no surprise) but they believe that Britain’s armed forces are staffed by the human equivalent of pitbull terriers, who, if ever let loose on schoolkids would terrorise and bully them into behaving. And they think this is a good thing.

Well, except for those who fear that gaining actual teaching skills would draw their psychopathic teeth.

The answer is no, how will they instill discipline,
they would not be alowed to punish the kids, they could not yell at them the same as a squadie, and off coarse they will need to go through collage or university to get thier teaching degrees or deplomas, by the time they have been through the system they will be just as PC as the present teachers, or will they go striaght into schools with out any degrees or deplomas, and we will have teaching on the cheap.

(How beautifully ironic that this educational expert has managed to come out of school without grasping the rudiments of spelling and punctuation.)

Or there are still some who feel that the troublesome rule of law will still hamstring the psychopaths.

IT WONT WORK
unless Cameron is going to get rid of the softly softly approach and the human rights loony lot , then this is a waste of time,

It’s probably too much to hope that these people can’t breed. In which case, no wonder that the UK has been told off again by the united nations for making its kids miserable.

It’s also something of a pretty serious insult to the British forces. These nutters somehow assume that any serving soldier is basically a thug, who has has been brutalised through training.:

Only if we get rid of the PC mongers and allow them to use the same discipline that army recruits face.

I don’t know anything about army training that I haven’t learned from watching Vietnam war films (Full Metal Jacket, etc) but I suspect they don’t either. It’s just that they misread the message about what happens when you brutalise young men into becoming disposable killers. They assumed it was a template, rather than a warning.

Quite by coincidence, I just saw the British National Party’s manifesto (I am buggered if I’m putting a link to that) and its central concerns seem to be the exact same “issues” that feature as topics on the Daily Express’s Have your Say. The BNP apparently plans to go after the Tories’ more rabid voters.

(Well, at least it would split the Tories’ vote, so I can see an upside. But generally, this shit just frames political debate in terms that are ever more rightwing. So, we see the Labour party fallling over itself to be tough on immigrants and scroungers.)

So, in your face, right-wing Yanks. Britain still has much more than its fair share of people after your own twisted hearts. (OK, the Brit ones don’t care about abortion and wouldn’t recognise a creationist theory if it bit them on the nose, and the American ones don’t seem to hate teenagers much, but they certainly seem to be brothers and sisters under the skin.)

Vote For Me! Self Delusional Politics

I cant wait until the US elections are over. At the moment, it is not possible to encounter a news bulletin that doesn’t make reference to it. Often including a clip of the brain destroyingly odious Sarah Palin stringing random words together in the manner of someone who has heard them, but has no idea what they mean.

Initially, reading about how Palin had been chosen to appeal to the “female demographic” (what?) I felt offended on behalf of women the world over. It is stunningly offensive to think that a political strategist thinks so little of American women that they would vote for Palin simply because she is a woman. I mean, how shallow must you be to choose your vote based on nothing more than the gender of the politician….

With this in mind, imagine my surprise to read / hear on various news sources (admittedly less and less, recently) that polls showed women were changing their intended votes because of Palin. Wow. Who in the name of Loki would have thought that could happen. Fortunately, this is largely just terminally bad polling techniques and probably bears as much resemblance to reality as me being a multi-millionaire. Phew.

When the initial relief had passed, I realised that there still were actual, living, apparently sane (*), people who thought Palin was a good candidate and would do the part good. Shock time again. How can this be I wondered. She is woefully under-educated and this is only matched by her lack of experience in either national or international politics. Yet some people love her.

How can this be the case, I wondered. Look at this example of a Palin quote about how she isn’t going to answer the questions she is asked during the debate: (source)

I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also,

No really. Not only is it a collection of empty words which seek to divert attention from her ignorance, it is also quite bad use of language. Now you might have thought there would be some element of scripting and rehearsal, so the only conclusion is this is how she wants to be seen speaking. It is clearer in this next quote (same source)

Here, for example, is how she responded to Biden’s comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush’s policies:

Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? … My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here’s a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.

Look at the use of language. If you are a native English speaker it is enough to make your brain scream mercy while your eyes surrender the fight. If she was a bit older, I would assume she was senile. The meandering from point to point, to avoid the question, is something Grandpa Simpson would be proud of. It starts off gibberish then ends up with a shout out to some random school children. Truly the mind boggles. She plays on being un-educated to a level that would make George Dubya himself blush. It is beyond painfully bad. Surely no politician could think this is the way to speak in public.

Then, all of a sudden, it hit me like a bolt of lightning from Zeus himself.

This is why people want to vote for her.

Her “down to Earth” use of language constructs, her folk-story terminology, her “cute” (**) mannerisms. These are solely engineered to make people think “Hey, she is just like me.” Amazingly, taken in this light, it is very successful.

Still this confuses me a touch. I am not a good candidate for running the bath, let alone a country. Most people I know are either easily confused by finance, fail to understand international relations, struggle to decide how to reduce crime and so on. These are educated, intelligent people who could run rings around Palin (even if they are only three years old). None of the people I know, myself included, would make a good world leader – even if we all daydream about it occasionally.

Ah. Lightning bolt again. Thank Zeus that the Olympians are watching over us.

Palin appeals to the ignorant people who, through years of false positive reinforcement, actually do think, all the time, that they could really run the country. These people must be so truly deluded that they think it is just a slight accident of fate that their name isn’t on the ticket, and if they could run the country so could Palin – who is so like them.

This is a terrifying example of how a massive dose of self-delusion can have a traumatic effect on the nation.

Not only that, but it is really, really offensive. It offends me that people can be so self obsessed as to even come close to thinking this. Yes, everyone can have ideas on how the country can be run, and sometimes we may think we know better than the politicians. Yes, we can all shout at the TV how we could do the job a millions times better but the truth is very different.

In the modern world (and possibly always) there are very few, if any, jobs that are so generalised anyone can do them without training. My job is very specialised and I doubt someone could walk in of the street without any prior knowledge or training and even come close to doing it. Heather’s job is the same. Pretty much every job I can think of is done by people who have been taught how to do it, and it is done better by people who have experience. Even jobs considered to be of low importance to society require training.

Why on Earth are people so arrogant that they think a job as important as Vice-President (to a potentially frail President) can be done by someone “just like us.” Surely if America is a great nation, it needs great leaders – not empty phrases jumbled together in a pathetic appeal to the lowest common denominator?

(Sorry for the rants. I will attempt to resume normal service as soon as possible)

* By this, I mean they were not currently locked up in a mental health facility… Their lack of sanity is evident by their voting choice.

** By cute, of course, I mean vomit inducing.

Faith Blinds

(Old news from the department of simple answers)

My time away has meant that some of the weird and wonderful nonsense over the last few weeks has escaped the harsh light of reality. Take this little blinder posted by Joanna Sugden to the Times Online on 2 May 08.

The article is titled: “Is the Bible science fiction?

Simple answer: “Yes” (Or slight variation: “No, it is fantasy fiction”)

Why is there any need for more debate? Strangely, debate there is… As you can imagine, the article talks about “debate” as to the veracity of Noah’s Ark. It seems that some people over the age of six actually think that two of every species on Earth was crammed into the Ark to survive a world flood. Wonderfully, IMDB list a film about this under “Science Fiction Literature” which I think is a GoodThing™.
Equally great is the predictable response of the loonies.

The first to kick it off is Rick Beekman who is certainly a “person of faith” (and, I suspect with no real evidence, an American):

I believe the story of Noah’s Ark. I also believe all the stories in The Bible.
The ones who don’t believe it are the usual group of scoffers..Atheists..Secular Humanists.Those Who generally think everything has an Explanation based on their worldly but non-spiritual understanding of Events in the Bible they deem “Impossible”.

Word salad. This is nothing but an assertion of his belief with an appeal to ridicule against anyone who disagrees. The unusual capitalisation is always a good sign of a nutjob – I hope he doesn’t have access to firearms. After this start, he continues:

The reason for these stories is to teach we lowly humans what God has done..And what he can and will do.

Scary. I find myself agreeing with the insane. Dear Toutatis save me. Actually, the bit I agree with is the reason of the story. They are not supposed to be factual representations of the past. They are there to “teach” (for want of a better word) people about their belief system. This subtle fact is lost on Rick – despite the fact he worded it in quite a good way, I suppose that was just chance. (Monkeys, typewriters…) Anyway, after a bit more drivel he finishes off:

In Genesis 8 v 4 we read where the Ark rested upon Mt. Ararat as the waters receded.
Sattelite Photos confirm taken in 1972 that something very large is encased in Ice on top of that Mountain.
How could any large Ship get up there unless Water rested it there as The Bible says?

WTF? Seriously, what sort of insane leap of faith is this? How did “something” become a “large ship” in the space of a full stop? Quantum physics be damned! (Why is water capitalised?) Critically, why have none of the ultra rich evangelical groups over the world got a more recent ultra high res photograph to confirm – or just gone there on an expedition? Madness like this gives me a headache.

My faith in human nature is restored by a run of sensible comments, but then Rick returns:

John;
God our Creator can do whatever he pleases. He usually does things to suit his purposes not necessarily for what we think. He knows The end from the beginning. God could have chosen to just let everyone drop dead except the chosen animals etc and of course Noah and his family. There is no human now or past or in the future who is any match for the Wisdom and creator.

Ah the way of the madness runs true in this one. This at least shows there is no science in the bible or in creationism. Basically this is Rick saying he doesn’t care what feeble evidence there is, he knows his Invisible Friend can do things other people can’t. Well done Rick. There are seven year olds kicking themselves in shame at this…

More sensible refutations are made – thank Heimdall for the human race – then someone called CESEELEY chimes up with their own brand of wisdom:

One of the main points of stories like Noah’s Ark is to help one from the Old Testament into the New Testament so that one will learn to walk in the Spirit after being Born Again, Baptized and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Ah, here come the erratic capital letters. Wonderful. Still it is all gibberish.

Our bodies were designed by God to be guided by the Holy Spirit. That is what those scripture about the Holy Temple imply.

Eh? Is this going anywhere? This is more drivel – why use 1 word to say something when eight hundred and ninety four will do… Comments on Times Online are moderated so a human actually decided this was relevant enough to the thread to let through (and about 50% of mine get knocked back… hmmm).

If you want to experience the more Abundant Life that Christ promised and have become Born Again and Baptized by immersion, then start taking Roman 12:1-2 seriously in your life so that you can prove what is God’s perfect will for your life as compared to His permissive will.

Ok, I’ll stop here. It doesn’t get any better. It is just a string of meaningless drivel with little relevance to the topic other than it seems to want every one to become a Born Again lunatic. I am a touch confused about his “perfect will” being different from his “permissive will” though…

Not to be out lunatic’d, Rick returns:

To All;
Seems I am the only one on this thread who believes the Story of Noah And His Ark.

God, I hope so…

I guess God Really did’nt ask Adam to name all the animals Either..(Genesis 2 verses 19 & 20).

Well done for taking a step in the right direction. Why did God let Adam name the echnida such a bloody awkward name? Oh right, he didn’t because Adam would never have seen one..

According to the “Experts” on this thread there is no possible way God could have brought all the animals to Adam from all over so Adam could name them.

Erm, yep. See, after a while everyone starts to agree with the lunatics.

Another one has stated the story of the flood is a Babylonian myth.

Yes, some one did state that. I thought they were being charitable instead of just calling Rick insane. Obviously Rick just likes using words, because he doesn’t even try to refute the claims any more – he just repeats them. He does, however, save the best till last:

I Just Wanted All Of You To Know All Of You Are Dead Wrong…But the Good News Is I’m Not Upset And Love All Of You!!

Wonderful. Don’t you just love the shift key… How would we spot lunatics without it.

A war on peace…

Oh how times have changed since the halcyon days of the first and second world wars (as well as the wonderful Cold War period). Following on from a line of thinking in my previous post, it seems there are some other generalisations you can make about societies that have experienced the horrors of war, and those that haven’t1.

It seems to me that in our current, peace-addled, societies if a month goes by without a government body declaring war on something the world will stop rotating. This week, New Scientist reports2 “Plans drawn up for a war on drink.” Wow. A real war on drink. Amazing. Will people get medals? When will the US invade the ocean? Comically, the online version tempers its headline somewhat, choosing to use the less comical “WHO considers global war on alcohol abuse.” I find the print version more honest though. (I will attack this at a later date)

Even ignoring the sheer comedy of a “war on drink” there are some telling aspects of modern, western, culture here. It seems every time there is a societal “problem” that a government (or international) organisation want to diminish, the only way it can get public attention is by declaring a war against it. In recent years we have mounted a war on poverty, obesity, hunger, want, crime, drugs and the ever comical war on terror. Are any of these real wars? Of course not. They are just victims of the increasing need to over-dramatise everything to get public attention.

Are they “winnable” wars? Again, no. Can they ever end? Still no.

And herein lies the problem I have with all this word-nonsense.

Westerners (at least English speakers) have a strange association with the term “war.” While it has become the norm for a war to be declared on everything and anything, we still have a lingering memory of what war really entails. This creates a strange situation where people will sacrifice their rights and liberties because “we are at war” without realising the term has simply been misused. Giving up an essential liberty for the “duration” of one of these insane wars is foolhardy – the war will never end so the liberty will never return. Even the War on Terror, which at least involves military action, is not a war the traditional sense of the word.

Compare our peace-loving present with the past of a mere 30 years ago. In the mid-1970s most people in the West could remember the War, lots had served in smaller wars (Korea, Vietnam, Borneo, Aden etc) and there was the ever present threat of a REAL BIG WAR with the USSR. Scary times. Genuinely scary.

Into this mix, we throw in a wide set of terrorist organisations who are bombing, shooting and kidnapping all over the place. Planes were regularly hijacked, visitors to the middle east had a 50:50 chance of being kidnapped each day and the IRA were doing their level best to turn the UK into one big fireball. Even Africa was in at least as much chaos as it is today – only instead of the locals killing each other it was mostly lunatics trying to be mercenary kings.

Throughout this crazy time did we have a war on Smoking? Drink? Obesity? Crime? Violence? Drugs? Nope. We didn’t even have a war on terror; western governments understood that declaring “war” on the terrorists gave them a status they didn’t deserve and changed how the state had to interact with them. One of the things the IRA/INLA hunger strikers were campaigning for was recognition of their struggle as being a war. Instead of starving to death, all they had to do was convert to Islam apparently.

What has changed over the world? So far, the Islamic terrorist threat has killed less British people than the IRA did in 1970 but we are a thousand times more frightened. Does this explain why we declare war on anything and everything?

It strikes me, that in the same manner people who have never experienced war sometimes long for it, a culture which has forgotten the horrors of war may start to long for it.

Worryingly, does this imply western society will, out of fear of the bogeyman, keep going to “war” on things until a real big war reminds everyone what they were trying to avoid? Crucially, when can we declare war on declaring war?

1: I am fully aware that these are generalisations. I am seeking to do no more, and no less, than discuss a trend. There will always be examples which flow counter to this and I wont lose any sleep over them.

2: Unfortunately you need to be a NS subscriber to get full access to this. Buy the magazine or trust me…

Baseless Creationist Arguments Find a New Home

Blimey, yesterday, Heather wrote about some empty nonsense being spouted by a blog on the atheist blogroll. In a nutshell, Tom Stelene, writing on the Al-Kafir Akbar blog, has spent a few days recently, ranting about how environmentalism is a “secular religion,” how global warming is a scam, how people who care about about the environment are dirt worshippers and so on. Over the last few days, Heather, Blacksun Journal and Salient have drawn attention to the nonsense he spouts.

Sunrise in AutumnTom Stelene has tried a comeback blast with a post titled “Deniers” (Blog Action Day Continues), and it is well worth reading if only to see the logical holes presented as “argument” and the good rebuttals from BlackSun and Salient. They have both done an excellent job of taking his nonsense to task.

Not being grown up enough to be bothered engaging in reasoned debate, I am simply going to point out some of the more obvious bits of nonsense Tom has turned into bits on the internet. Fisking is fun. If we start with the opening paragraph:

Amidst the latest politically-correct trend of environmentalists to throw out the smear, “global warming deniers,” I sense that by and large they probably have little familiarity with the science and reasoning as to why some deny “global warming” – as most narrow-minded religionists are unfamiliar with the reasons and arguments of atheists – or, better still: “God-deniers.”

Sunrise in Autumn 2By Toutatis, that is a difficult sentence to read. It is completely meaningless but it is still difficult to read. It makes a single attempt at a real claim and, personally, I doubt that this (basic) claim is true. If he is saying, as it seems to read, that his detractors have little understanding as to the science about why the detractors deny global warming. After the headache (caused by trying to resolve this tortured line of attribution) cleared, I decided he must be talking about the psychological reasoning as to why some people will pathologically deny the evidence which is presented to them and disproportionately give value to the minority evidence which can be interpreted as arguing against the mainstream. I am sure that there is a term for people who evince this weird behavioural trait, but I am not a psychologist so I have no idea. Generally, most of the people who do this seem to be arguing for the creationist brand of woo.

After I realised where I had seen this idiotic type of “argument” before, it suddenly became clear that pretty much all of Tom’s “arguments” against AGW fall from the Intelligent Design is Science school of idiocy. Blimey. Loki must have been having a field day letting this one out into humanity.

Tom claims his area of expertise is philosophy, so we can look at the first type of argument he uses and critique it with a philosophical point of view attached.

Swan in flight - Vignette addedOne of his oft-repeated claims is that those who advocate action to combat human-influenced climate change are following a “secular religion” – he uses such entertaining terms as “dirt worshippers” and so on. All very clever. This is the same as the ID / Creationist claims that “Darwinism” is a religion. The reality however is different.

Religion, in its normal use of the term, tends to mean people are holding to a belief either without any evidence or will hold to the belief in the face of evidence to the contrary. In keeping with the creationists, Tom holds to his beliefs without any evidence and retains the belief in the face of contrary evidence. Yet he still claims it is his detractors who are holding to a religion. Yeah, seems odd to me as well.

The next issue I have with his claims is, still in keeping with the creationist ideal, the idea that the isolated – often badly interpreted – data which may be interpreted as contradicting Anthropogenic Global Warming is so significant and Earth shattering it means more than the mountains of data which support AGW. Here Tom shows he doesn’t understand science – something he freely admits – and really should try to learn some more before demonstrating his ignorance. The fact of the matter is there is nearly always some data published which can be interpreted as contradicting a scientific theory.

Little Burrowing MammalMost of the time this data is the result of experimental issues – poorly designed experiments, mistaken conclusions, equipment issues and so on – but some times the data is valid and does pose a contradiction. What happens next is part of the broader scientific method – something Tom seems to neglect – the data is double checked, additional experiments are conducted and, if it is verified and repeated, the theory is adjusted to account for the new information. Despite the greatest wishes (and prayers) of the creationists, isolated findings do not count as evidential falsification. Likewise, Tom has fallen into the layperson’s trap of finding isolated contrary reports and attributing to these much greater weight than they deserve.

Here is a quick quiz question: If 99 reports conclude humans are responsible for climate change and one doesn’t, which should you go with?

The most blatant example of Creationist-Inspired woo-nonsense comes in this little gem:

Precisely because science is not my area (that being philosophy) I have to carefully consider both sides, and for some twenty years as a curious observer (if man causes global environmental problems I obviously want to know) I have read and listened to environmentalist claims – which get plenty of publicity – yet the science that challenges them gets ignored.

Chimpanzee on a TreeThis is seriously worthy of some further examination. It reeks of the same lack of understanding which tries to push ID into the classroom. There are not “two sides” to the argument (if anything there are dozens), so considering “both sides” is meaningless. In the past, I have commented on the debate problem which creates the illusion there are “both sides” regarding evolutionary theory. It seems the same fallacy applies with regards to AGW.

The idea that some one completely ignorant of the methodology and theories of climate science can accurately assess the validity of any competing theories (and there are dozens) is interesting – strictly speaking the layperson can go through the published data and draw their own conclusions, but the chances of that conclusion being a valid expression of the reality are not great. It would be better for Tom to say that, because science is not his area he would be better off listening to the scientific consensus.

For my, cynical, mindset, the reason why he has not gone down this route is borne out by the last part of that sentence. It reeks of the conspiracy-theories pushed by all kinds of deviant scientists.

“…yet the science that challenges them gets ignored.”

Utter nonsense. The “science” that challenges the various AGW theories is not “ignored” by any stretch of the imagination. Where science does challenge the theory it is investigated – sadly most of the claims of “science” which challenges turn out to be bad science at best. This, as with most of Tom’s arguments, is straight from the ID School of non-science. When people from wildly unrelated scientific disciplines (at best, often it is complete non-scientists) write a pile of nonsense about Evolution / AGW, it is quite rightly ignored. The pro-ID / Anti-AGW crowd then pick on this nonsense and scream about some hidden cabal who are suppressing the “alternative theories.” Total nonsense.

If some one can prove AGW is false they will be in line for the Nobel, along with all the people who can invent perpetual motion machines, prove ID, falsify GR, falsify SR etc., etc.,

Until then, science is science. You can rail against the findings all you want, but remember it is akin to shouting at the sun that your “research” shows it should be dark…

When Education Fails People…

Well, the wonderful Atheist Ethicist blog has pointed to some, frankly, insane ramblings coming out of one of the Professors at Baylor University. Alonzo has pretty much summed up the logical faults with the ramblings by Dr Roger Olsen so I am largely left to simply poke fun at the complete lack of any form of understanding or critical reasoning abilities his writing demonstrates.

Basically, it is shameful that a professor (albeit of theology) is so incapable of following the basic process of reasoning and it is a sad indictment of the effects of “faith” that it has made him blind to the monumental confusion his posts displays. If Dr Olsen were an undergraduate, you’d hope this sort of writing would pretty much end up with an “F.” At best.

If there were any form of World Justice, this sort of nonsense would soon cause people to stop enrolling at Baylor. Unfortunately, I suspect it will have the opposite effect when other members of the “faithful” see this sort of thing and decide they would rather avoid an education at Baylor than elsewhere.

Dr Olsen sets the tone for his gibberish article with:

I feel sorry for atheists. They are so much in the minority in American society and they are bound to feel some marginalization if not persecution.

Oh what wonderful patronisation. I am not an American so I have no idea if this is true or otherwise. However it speaks volumes as to the true nature of Dr Olsen. Here he is claiming “Atheists” are a tiny minority who feel persecuted. Rather than demonstrating the “Christian charity” he is more than happy to continue, and increase, the persecution. If the word “atheist” were replaced with any other minority group, he would never have had the temerity to write the words which follow on. Equally interestingly, if Atheists are such a minority, why does Dr Olsen care?

With an interesting twist of linguistics and some (frankly confusing) logic, Dr Olsen continues with this wonderful snippet:

Christians should be the last people to persecute anyone — including atheists. But that doesn’t mean Christians have to accommodate atheism as they tolerate and love atheists.

I am intrigued as to how you can “tolerate atheists” while not accommodating them? Obviously Dr Olsen is one of those confused people who believes that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion and would rather someone worshipped Baal than didn’t worship any gods.

The confused diatribe continues. Dr Olsen seems to mainly hate atheists because:

So far, at least, atheists haven’t demonstrated their concern for others in any organized way.

Blimey. Here we fall once more into the weird idea that “Atheists” have to become an organised religious group before it can be tolerated. In some respects this is not completely different to some of the ideas kicked around by prominent non-theists such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, where there seems to be some urge to organise and politicise atheism. This is something which has been mentioned here in the past, and largely I am not in favour of it. Atheists only share one thing in common and can cover the full political spectrum as well as demonstrating varying levels of rationality. Creating a Church of Atheism is (IMHO of course) foolhardy and does nothing but pander to the thoughts of nutcases like Dr Olsen.

As Alonzo points out on his blog, atheists do huge quantities of good deeds, build hospitals and donate fortunes to charities etc., but they are generally not done under an “atheist” umbrella. From Dr Olsen’s post, he seems to acknowledge this but continues to rail against atheism for no reason other than the lack of organisation. This really confuses me.

Does Dr Olsen honestly think it is such a big deal? Is every religious organisation a “Good Thing” or are they a combination of good, bad and indifferent? Atheists support religious groups and non-religious groups. Is Dr Olsen completely unaware of any organisation which seeks to help others and is not religiously motivated? If so, I suspect he really does need to broaden his horizons somewhat.

As he continues, Dr Olsen shows that having a doctorate and a professorial appointment is no indication of anything beyond a basic education outside your own highly specialised field (in this case, invisible people theology):

And atheism has no answer to social Darwinism — the idea that society should not help the weak because it’s nature’s way to weed out the less fit.

This is mind boggling. Fifteen year olds come up with more robust arguments. Here, Dr Olsen shows he has no understanding of what “Darwinism” really means, so one is led to suspect he is firmly entrenched in the creationist corner. If he honestly thinks this is either true or a good argument against atheism, I am truly ashamed for Baylor university.

Sadly, it seems he does think this:

Helping the weak goes against nature and if nature is all there is, well, why should we fight it? A person might choose to, but not because of any transcendent, objective obligation (such as that all persons are created in God’s image).

Obviously, Dr Olsen believes that without belief in a deity (any deity) people will not help the weak. He is so woefully unaware of nature that he must either think animals have gods or he has never seen herd animals (for example) helping their weak and sick. That aside, it is simply an empty argument. Belief in a deity is not required to make people help others – atheists who help others disproves it immediately – therefore having this as his basic premise shows his entire line of argument is logically flawed.

Dr Olsen seems to think that if a person chooses to do good simply because they are good person it really means they are an evil atheist. Whereas a person who does good against their will because they are scared the invisible Sky Elf will punish them is actually a good theist.

Madness. Pure Madness.

For Dr Olsen, once he set off on this path of logical fallacy, there was no turning back:

The only logical option for the atheist is nihilism — belief that nothing has any objective meaning or purpose.

Wow. The only people who think this is true are poorly educated, ignorant, theists. I feel sorry for people like this because they really are lost sheep. They would be out in the streets killing, raping and stealing before they killed themselves if it wasn’t for the basic fear they have of the apparently kindly-yet-massively-vengeful deity who watches their every movement.

The reality is for atheists life on Earth tends to have much more meaning and purpose because it is all we have. There is no afterlife where we can relish the rewards for our Earthly behaviour. There is no atonement for every sin. There are no virgins waiting to serve us if we kill ourselves and take a few infidels along for the ride. All we have is here on Earth so, generally, Atheists will (or at least should) do their best to make it the best possible Earth.

As he gets his full head of gibberish going, Dr Olsen writes:

Küng admitted that atheism is a rational “basic choice” and it cannot be proven wrong in any kind of absolute way.

But most atheists demonstrate their basic trust in the meaningfulness of reality by being outraged at evil and injustice, thereby demonstrating that atheism cannot be lived out consistently.

What makes something evil or unjust if nothing like God exists — if nature is all there is? Only subjective choice either by an individual or a society. But that can change and it often does. Without God, the social prophet has no way out of relativism.

Wow. Küng wrote it therefore Dr Olsen’s interpretation must be 100% true…

The massive ironic part of this is that the Religious definitions of good and evil have changed over time along with society. Despite the stone-like qualities of the ten commandments, even these are not set in stone. Nations Under God are allowed to kill if the secular nation decided it is in its best interests. God does not decide, people do. Activities which were “sinful” a thousand years ago are commonplace now and vice versa. Can you imagine picking up a sword, killing fifty people then paying a priest to absolve you of your sin? Well if you believe in God this was acceptable for most of the history of Christianity.

Fundamentally, pretty much everything Dr Olsen has wrote is incorrect or logically flawed. His basic premises are complete nonsense:

  1. Being organised does not make good deeds better, not being organised does not make them worse.
  2. Religious definitions of “good” and “evil” have changed over time in keeping with society.

That such nonsense could be written by a “Professor” (even one of theology) is mind boggling. He seems unable to carry out basic research into anthropology, evolution, history (etc). What does this say about Baylor university…

Baylor and universities like it exist to promote objective values and meaningful existence.

Obviously anything resembling an education is a very distant runner up.

Dr Olsen finishes with:

Finally, let me repeat that I have nothing against atheists as persons and neither does Baylor University.

But in my opinion, they are people of character and virtue in spite of their philosophy of life — not because of it.

In a similar vein, I have nothing against people who believe in fairies, elves, ghosts, trolls, demons, deities etc. In my opinion they are, generally, people of character and virtue in spite of their madness belief, not because of it.

Scientologist Woo Spread Over eBay

Well, the internet really is a wonderful, entertaining, educating thing…

Today, I was looking over eBay trying to find some things to buy (as you do). I started off my search looking for camera filters but after a while I got fed up reading page after page of “UV Filters” for sale from Hong Kong (I have a UV filter…) and searched for other things. I have a certain amount of interest in philosophical topics, so I thought checking out what philosophy books were available would be worthwhile.

So, off I go to books -> educational textbooks -> philosophy and I am presented with a list of books. Second on my search is one titled “ALL ABOUT RADIATION.” Now, call me old fashioned, but I really found it hard to work out what was philosophical about radiation, so I had a look. Boy was I in for a treat. Now this auction (see it for yourself) only has 11 hours left to go as I write this, so in case it is gone by the time you read this post, I have taken a screenshot of it for you:

Scientologists disguise dianetics book to sell on ebay

This priceless bit of nonsense reads:

Written by L. Ron Hubbard and two well-known medical doctors, this book provides the facts surrounding the effect of radiation on the body and spirit and offers solutions to those harmful effects. An immediate sellout in bookstores when originally released, All About Radiation tells the truth about the little known and talked about subject of radiation, and introduces the Purification program as the technology to handle its cumulative effects. (See companion lecture series, Radiation and Your Survival where L. Ron Hubbard details the subject of radiation and its effects.)

Amazing. It almost beggars belief that people actually fall for this sort of nonsense, but that is a topic which has been done to death many a time in the past. The idea that radiation is harmful to the “spirit” is comical, as is the idea that these two unnamed yet “well-known” medical doctors have had any scientific input into this drivel.

What interests me in this auction, is the way this woo-filled nonsense is being sold.

Obviously the proponents of this dianetic / scientologist gibberish are aware that if they label it as scientologist people will steer clear en masse. To get round this, and obviously draw some level of interest, they have:

  1. Marked it as a Medical / Nursing book (which I suppose is almost close to the truth… almost)
  2. Placed it in the “philosophy” category
  3. Been strangely not-forthcoming in the title (most ebay titles read like the whole item description…)

I cant help but think that if Scientology / Dianetics is such a “sensible” and genuine “school of thought” (sorry for all the sneer quotes, but I cant help but sneer at this), then they wouldn’t have to resort to underhand tactics. Sadly, and in a blow against my innocent view of the world, it seems scientologists rely on this as their main form of recruitment.

The one bit which really made me laugh was the idea that radiation is “little known and talked about…” That might have been true in 1920, but this is 2007. People shouldn’t be jumping to mad ideas about electromagnetism and radiation. (Ah… I might be wrong here…)