They steal your soul

Police in Greater Manchester have been walking around with hand-held cameras filming parolees and “people they don’t like the look of” with the intention of putting video footage on Youtube.

How beautifully ironic that police in some parts of the country are arresting and dearresting people carrying cameras with intent to capture images, while their colleagues in other places are doing that exact thing as a supposedly powerful crime-fighting tool.

What is it about the magic of cameras? There is a probably mythological idea that certain tribes believed that photographs somehow stole your soul. Our society seems to hold to a contradictory belief that photographic images are at the same time both “terrifyingly dangerous” and “the solution to every social problem”. Which of these beliefs is the most obviously irrational? (Rhetorical question)

This reminds me of a post on the Register that showed pictures of Google Street View vehicles, taken by the people who were themselves featured on Google Street View taking the pictures on the Register. The Register suggested that

Surveillance feedback loops threaten fabric of time and space

Stewart Lee, the Video

A reference on PhillyChief’s blog reminded me about Stewart Lee and Jerry Springer, the Opera.

Stewart Lee is a comedian who became an arch-hate figure for Christian Voice a couple of years ago, because he was one of the writers of Jerry Springer the Opera. This was a tv programme that Christian Voice considered so inherently blasphemous that they tried to sue the BBC for broadcasting it. They were crowing on a channel Four documentary last year that they’d bankrupted the producers of the show, although I’m not sure if this has any basis in fact.

There are some really funny anti-Christian-Voice-blasphemy-complaint spiels in other Stewart Lee videos but I’ll post links to them at another time. This link isn’t to one of those, but I had to post it because of the irresistible Richard Littlejohn bit at the end.

Whenever I hear the phrase “Political correctness gone mad” I should reach for this video.

Stewart lee on political correctness gone mad

Parental Advisory: contains some extravagant and well-justified cussing 🙂

Sarah Palin – Laugh Away

From the excellent “Why do people laugh at creationists” series on YouTube:

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 26) Sarah Palin

It worries me that there are other people who think like this mad woman.

Bad Journalist

Following two posts on Nullifidian’s blog (here and here), and a bit on BBC News 24 this morning, I couldn’t help but start to feel sorry for John Sweeney. In a nutshell, this guy is a BBC reporter who has been looking into the ridiculous cult which calls itself the Church of Scientology. From Nullifidian’s site:

John Sweeney investigates the Church of Scientology, endorsed by some major Hollywood celebrities, but which continues to face the criticism that it is less of a religion and more of a cult. Some former members claim the Church uses a mind control technique to put opponents at a psychological disadvantage. During the course of his investigation, Sweeney is shouted at, spied on, visited in his hotel at midnight and chased around the streets of LA by strangers in hire cars.

Sadly, Sweeney is far from a “good” investigative journalist. I suspect he planned to use this Scientology thing to get a “big break” into the real world of hardcore investigators. When faced with fairly obvious methods, Sweeney falls for them and hands the Scientologist Cultists a few (albeit minor) PR victories. In typical Cult fashion, the Scientologists have pounced on any apparent weakness shown by Sweeney and a video clip of him loosing it (after goading it should be added) has been getting lots of hits on YouTube. Continue reading

Join the Animation

(hat tip: Pharyngula)

A Scottish animator (Iain Gardner) is looking for people to send him JPGs of themselves, holding either a light bulb or an apple, to be spliced together into an animated video. Watch the YouTube clip for more details:

Seems like a reasonable thing, quite easy to take part and the results should be interesting. I think I will have a go this weekend. (Apple – obviously 🙂 ).

If you like the idea of this, please help spread the word.

[tags]YouTube, Creationism, Evolution, Video, Society, Technology[/tags]

Prove or Disprove

Short one as not much to rant about today, however some general web surfing has made me think about a few issues in science related to Evolution / Creationism.

The scientific method is well established and is certainly the “generally accepted” way of defining what is scientific and what isn’t. This method, not some half baked 2000 year old text which has been re-written more times than I can count, provides the yardstick against which all science is measured – be it Evolution, Relativity, Electromagnetism, anything. Without it, well, it’s back to the dark ages.

The crux of the method is the ability to make testable predictions and carry out proper experiments which can falsify the theory. You dont actually have to prove the theory wrong for it to be scientific (although this is a common misconception of the term) but you need to be able to construct an experiment which could prove the theory wrong. This is important so make a note of it.

Now, on to the wonders of creationism. Most, if not all, creationist propaganda carries the sole message that “Evolution is Wrong.” If you do a YouTube, Google or (especially) a MySpace search you come across all manner of idiocy and madness about the topic. People saying “evolution is wrong because … [insert nonsense].” Things range from the “missing link” oddity to crazy arguments like irreducible complexity. The main thing they all have in common is the nonsense and bad science which tends to back them.

The important thing, in the context of this post anyway, is the issue about disproving evolution.

First off, the fact that the lunatics (ID, YEC et al) are capable of coming up with a possible experimental circumstance which could disprove evolution reinforces the fact that evolution is scientific. Scientific does not mean true or correct. Newtonian Gravity was a scientific theory which turned out to be incorrect. This is part of the way science works. A scientific fact has more caveats than the average person would ever think of applying to something “factual.”

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, even if the lunatics did manage to disprove the theory of evolution, that does not mean Creationism takes a default win. That is not how science works. A flaw in general relativity (eg, interactions on the quantum scale) does not mean Newtonian Gravity is correct – or to be a more accurate analogy, a flaw in GR does not mean gravity is caused by bananas. Finding something in a theory which is wrong is the “Holy Grail” (all puns intended) of science. It means people get to advocate new Scientific theories (sorry, creationists, you dont count). People get Nobel prizes. People get huge amounts of funding. (and so on).

Intelligent Design / Creationism / whatever, is not scientific. It really isn’t. Saying “God Did It” is not science – even changing God to something you think will slip under the radar still does not make it science. If anything it is the end of science. It blocks further investigation because if anything is unknown or fails to meet the predictions you can just say “the creator wanted it that way and who are we to second guess the all-mighty one?”

Falsifying evolution would be a good thing, but it certainly would not mean creationism was the correct science. The theory of evolution is scientific. It almost certainly is not the endstate for our understanding of life and it makes no predictions about how life started, but it is a valid, solid, theory. Just like gravity. I am not going to even think of getting worked up about the “it’s just a theory” crap…