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…

David Schwarzenegger

David Cameron (Leader of the British Conservative Party) has been recently pictured with Arnie and is reported in today’s Guardian as saying “Look at me and think of Schwarzenegger.”

Well how could I resist? Cliche response or not, here it is:

Cameron as Arnie

(Sadly, Putin seems to have set a fashion for British politicians physically less well-suited to the he-man role.)

Too stupid to be real

Well, from the department of the ineducable idiocy, I have found a blog which I don’t for one second think is a legit creationist / theist blog. I refuse to accept that anyone can be as stupid as this person, yet still be able to breathe unaided. Seriously. Still, it has given me a chance to rant about a few topics which have been annoying me lately.

The blog in question is called “Atheist Stooges” and, from that name alone, you just know it is going to be full of juicy idiocy. In this instance, the idiocy is so bizare I can only assume (hope?) that this is a wind up. Can people honestly hold to ideas like this and still function in society?

The blog has an article called “Enter the excavation” which really does hit a new nadir of nonsense. The basic crux of what is a long, wordy and badly written, post is that because you can not pin down a point in time which some human invented Atheism it must be sent by demons. What wonderful logic. There are so many fallacies in the post it would take months to unravel them all. This tends to happen when you take a false premise and try to make conclusions based on it though.

The opening paragraph sets the tone:

Do you know that if you make an endeavor to find out when and by whom atheism was authored you will not be able to find such information from any source? Not even the most “educated” atheists – particularly those associated with the most elite universities throughout the world can truthfully inform you when and by whom atheism originated. They can enlighten you as to who were its main perpetuators in different cultures; but they cannot identify its founder and when it actually originated. Continue reading

Nokia N73 Progress

Following my rant earlier in the week about the annoying habits my N73 had developed, Pedro Timóteo pointed out a software upgrade was crying out as the best solution. This should have warned me that my entire week was going to be highlighted by generalised acts of stupidity on my behalf, but blithely I carried on as normal. The consequences have been discussed in previous posts.

Anyway, two days ago, in a fit of common sense, I went to the Nokia site and began the upgrade. This was not without problems but I had backed up all my data (phew) and it was fairly painless to reinstall it all. Except Lifeblog. Three, in their infinitesimal wisdom send out the N73 without Lifeblog installed — mainly, one suspects, because they are too tight fisted to provide a mini-SD card with the phone, which Lifeblog needs to be present. This must save them all of £10 per phone.

This makes all manner of problems crop up, as going to the Nokia website you are told you can’t download this application because it comes pre-installed on the N73. What N73 owners do after an upgrade is beyond me. Anyway, the only solution I could find was to download the version for the N71 and install that. You get a few warning messages about the application not working on this phone, but it seems to work.

Generally, in the time since I have run the upgrade, the phone seems to be working better. Not as good as when I first got it, but the delay between pressing send and regaining control has returned. Setting caller specific ring tones still causes the phone to reboot though. Oddly, the upgrade has meant I now get a stronger signal at home. I find that quite strange, to be honest but then again, I am having a stupid week.

I must say a big thanks to Pedro Timóteo for reminding me to get an upgrade. It seems to have improved things a fair bit. Has it changed my opinions of the phone? Not yet.

[tags]3, 3g, bad service, Bad Shops, Cameraphone, Cell Phone, communication, Hardware, hutchinson, mobile phone, N73, Nokia, Nokia N73, Opera, phone, Phone Browser, symbian, Technology, Telephone, three, penny pinching, idiot, lifeblog[/tags]

Too Stupid To Drive

The wonders of the Register pointed me to an article about a UK woman who had a bit of a mishap with her Satnav.

In a nutshell, this woman borrowed her boyfriend’s satnav to help her navigate a drive she was unfamiliar with. She then claims the satnav directed her to an unmanned, gated, rail crossing. She drove to the crossing, unlocked the first gate, drove forwards (onto the rails), got out and closed the gate behind her. As she was going to open the gate in front she heard a train coming and (wisely) decided to get out of the way. The train proceeded to destroy her car.

For some reason, the woman seems to totally misunderstand the chain of events which placed her in front of the train:

The impact of the Pembroke Dock to Swansea train carried Ceely’s Renault Clio for half a mile down the track, and put a pretty dent in her no-claims bonus. The exasperated satnav rookie added: “I put my complete trust in the satnav and it led me right into the path of a speeding train. The crossing wasn’t shown on the satnav, there were no signs at all, and it wasn’t lit up to warn of an oncoming train.”

Wow. As an aside, there are signs and warning notices informing drivers there is a level crossing ahead. This even ignores the fact the level crossing goes over a bloody train track. This is hard to miss. In an effort to appear magnanimous she does concede it is not all the satnav’s fault:

Celly did, however, accept some liability for the smash. She conceded: “I can’t completely blame the sat nav because up until there, it did get me where I needed to go. If maybe I had been more aware of the situation, I wouldn’t have had the accident.” In conclusion, Celly offered: “I’ll never use a sat nav again. You rely on them and if it all goes wrong, you’re horribly stuck. People should be more careful with them – you never know where they might lead you.”

Amazing. I am having a really hard time getting my head round what tortured logic this woman uses to ascribe the accident – in any way, shape or form – to the satnav. Did the satnav tell her were traffic lights are? Did it tell her what side of the road to drive on? Did it say when to slow down at corners?

I am amazed she passed her driving test.

[tags]bad-drivers, culture, idiot, satnav, society[/tags]

Paying the price of stupidity

Oh dear. I am really not having a good day today.

This site, and a few others I admin, is hosted on a Linux server and today I was SSH’d in doing some admin tasks. One of the advantages of it being on Linux is the crontab. Over the years, the crontab for this account has grown into a convoluted, long, interesting, useful but undocumented crontab. For non-*nix people, the crontab is a way of scheduling things and is great for setting up automated processes like backups, sitemap submissions and the like.

Today, I needed to copy a line out of the crontab and use it elsewhere. I logged on and tried to list the crontab. In my haste I typed:

crontab -;

(missing the “l” key by a few mm). Argh. This has had the unfortunate effect of killing the entire crontab. I could cry. I should kill myself as punishment for the sheer stupidity. Now when I send crontab -l, I get the dreaded “no crontab for [account name]” message as a response.

What a nightmare. I am stupid enough to have no backup of the data in the crontab, nor was it documented well enough to recreate it properly. I should be shot.

At the bare minimum, I hope this will act as a lesson, for myself if no one else, in the importance of documentation and backups.

[tags]idiot, linux, rant, site-admin, why-dont-you, whydontyou[/tags]

Too Stupid For Words

Well, I was going to leave the Virginia Tech tragedy and not mention it again, but the sheer idiocy demonstrated by good old Debbie Schlussel can not be missed out! This blog has mentioned Ms Schlussel in the past, so I am sure you can imagine what wonderful comments she is coming out with now.

On that delightful part of the blogosphere which is her blog, Ms Schlussel was very quick off the mark with “updates” about the Virginia Tech shooting. Obviously being quick was more important than having anything but the most approximate relationship with reality. She has a post titled “Who is the ‘Asian’ Mass Murderer at Virginia Tech? UPDATE: Shooter is S. KOREAN w/Student Visa” and within it, is a seething pool of woo, nonsense and racial hatred. It is almost comical.

The sheer volume of bile and nonsense on this blog post is surprising, and makes it reasonably difficult for me to pick what bits I will repost here. Please, check out her blog (especially the comments) and see for yourself the reality. Some highlights, in time order are:

Continue reading

Uncommon Stupidity

It has been awhile since I have “braved” the well of stupidity, vitriol, hatred and confusion which is Uncommon Descent but today I had a look.


The stupidity remains. An entertaining highlight was ““No thanks, I’ll take two fivers” — Dumping Darwin from British currency.” Now, this really is full of nonsense. I was planning to post some select highlights but there are too many to choose from!

Basically the post (by Dembski) is that we (the British) should drop Darwin from the £10 note. He starts off going on about how, with the new twenty, the Bank of England is changing the “famous person” on the note and continues:

This is a news-worthy cause for British Darwin-doubters, who should urge that Darwin be dumped from the 10-pound note whenever there is a new security-upgrade version, on grounds that he is the chief prophet of the materialist religion, and his presence on the 10-pound note is an inappropriate endorsement of that materialist religion and its related anti-religious ferment. Now, it’s true that Britain has no 1st Amendment, but still, Britain is trying to be multi-cultural. A part of the effort could include a long list of choice inflammatory quotes from the new anti-religion books currently out in the bookstores (and in Darwin’s own writings — see the previous post here at UD); the effort could point out that the government, by honoring Darwin, implicitly lends its prestige to their venom.

See what I mean? Gibberish at its best. Dumbski Dembski moves on to talking about Darwin being a racist (nonsense but the UDders seem to like it) and decides William Wilberforce would be a better contender (on the apparent advice of the Fabian Society but I can find no confirmation of that with the search engine there…). This leads to a fantastic line of woo:

Thus, this effort would also kick-off a comparison of what good has been brought to the world by these two people — Darwin vs. Wilberforce. Nazi Eugenics vs. the abolition of slavery. Is there really any contest?

Which brings up the reason I keep posting juicy bigotted and racist quotes by Darwin and his disciples here at UD. While the intellectual community may know them, the general public does not. Suppose the public decided that every time it accepted a “Darwin” (a 10-pound note) in payment or in change for a purchase, it was implicitly endorsing those terrible quotes? People would likely say, “No thanks, I’d rather have two fivers. I don’t take money that praises racists and bigots — and neither should you.”

In other words, promote a boycott of the Darwin 10-pound note because it promotes racism. It’s like putting Robert E. Lee on the ten-dollar bill because he was a great general, and ignoring the cause he served. This would work particularly well because the goal of the Fabians and other multiculturalists is to re-define Britain to be racially-inclusive. Thus there is a particular reason to highlight the racism of Darwin and get rid of him.

I really do think this is some one going off the deep end. Proponents of ID still have no science, evidence or data to support their ideas. The best they can aim for a rather pathetic attempt to paint a dead person in a bad light. They constantly fall foul of the fallacious idea that attacking a person (Darwin, Dawkins etc) is the same as attacking their ideas. In really, it wouldn’t matter if Darwin was racist (he wasn’t – at least not by the standards of his time), it wouldn’t even matter if what Darwin thought was the “Theory of Evolution” was wrong. Things have changed. Time has passed. Science has progressed and the theory of evolution has evolved.

Sadly, the IDers are trapped in a world which means not only are they incorrect but they are incapable of properly arguing their side, but can never give in.

You have to pity them, don’t you?