Be Prepared || When Maps Flap, and Knots Fray; Just Remember Scout, “At Least You aren’t Gay”

If you haven’t already heard, various Christian groups are out in force about the Boy Scouts of America trying to be decent (finally) and recognise homosexuals as members.

Amongst the Pearl Clutchers we have the Baptist Press who write news with a Christian perspective.

If by Christian you mean “Raging Homophobes”. [Read more…]

Hags of Lag – Guns don’t Kill People, Videogames Do

The USA loves scapegoating. The lack of technological acumen within the US government makes them prone to scapegoat things that aren’t really the issue.

You shouldn’t blame sexting on mobile phones, you should blame it on a culture that encourages the sexualisation of children and teenagers. And US Senator Lamar Alexander should know better than to blame video games for being a bigger problem than guns.

Video Games don’t affect people. We aren’t stupid. 

In fact if we look through US History the total number of shootings has gone down year after year yet fear of getting shot has risen to a fever pitch. The USA still buys and sells massive amounts of guns to it’s civilians who think that guns keep them safe when it really is more down to legal policy.

It’s fear that drives gun sales and it is the accessibility of lethal weapons that drive the US murder rate. Not pixels on a screen.

And is anyone surprised that he is a big fan of the NRA?

Hags of Lag – League of Legends and Bans

If you haven’t been following the drama on League of Legends then there is a little ray of hope about gaming.

You see, a company that plays games finally took a stand on it’s players. It named and shamed people responsible for making the game experience worse for others.

Now you may wonder, why this matters as such.

For those who are unaware League of Legends is a Free To Play game. I used to play it a fair bit and was relatively okay at it. Nothing to write home about but sufficiently good enough to not be a “total liability” and to occasionally be in the lofty seat of “win it for the team”.

It occupies a niche game market. Unlike the standard of Call of Duty or Halo this is a game of high skill, high team play and high difficulty. The difficulty ramps up depending on who you are playing of course. While bots may be nice and easy to fight the real threat comes from the human opponents who are less accurate than the high level bots but far far more capable of thinking outside the box making them a lot lot deadlier.

And it is a competitive game a very competitive game. It’s very easy to be bad at it and cause your entire team to lose just due to bad decisions. It’s also a game that sadly rewarded terrible people as long as they played well. It was in your interest to ignore someone who swore badly if they played well. You literally had to take the abuse or lose and no one really likes losing. Not when you are in a ranked queue where the points matter. You would overlook the rants of absolute horror just because you knew that the person who was sprouting them was the one making you win.

So the guys behind the League had a little idea. What If We Had A System to Punish Bad Behaviour and Reward Good Behaviour. It was a little gamefication of stats. After a match you could vote for people you thought were nice and those that you didn’t. And people voted for these individuals in their hundreds.

Now there are a bunch of games in the Genre (Defence of the Ancients is the founding game) and all of them have the same problem. Competitiveness doesn’t reward politeness. But League has a different problem and that’s of game play. See the other games have one issue (and many people like it but I personally don’t) which is if a team gets even slightly ahead on kills it snowballs and wins. In League you can turn games around. You can go from even being 30 kills down to winning (A massive swing around). It happens a lot…

And this causes rage… Imagine being at the cusp of victory only to be defeated by luck, skill or one awesome play. If you already are in a game that doesn’t reward friendly play imagine your response.

It’s infuriating and while on a game like Halo that lucky grenade will make you smirk and go “Fine that was awesome” in this it’s less awesome and more “Unfair” because you were winning all this time and then someone basically “tricked you”. Very few people are genuinely pleased by amazing plays.

The new system encouraged a bit better behaviour but it also brought stellar individuals like these to light. Cleaning up your own house is good for gaming especially if we are to take video games competitively as a sport.

I Get Mail – Dear Herman

This one’s from someone called Herman Cummings (or someone writing on his behalf)

Our public schools have been teaching Atheism, and the Atheists want to keep it that way, using the pretext of “separation of church and state”. What about separating Atheism and the state? How many students first come to class with a belief in a Deity, then after science class indoctrination, come away with changed beliefs? Ever heard of the “Lemon Test”? Why isn’t it being applied?

I assume you are American…

Our public schools are NOT teaching atheism. They are teaching science. The statements they make are demonstrable by a variety of experiments and observations and their claims hold up to rigorous scientific testing.

The Lemon Test applies to religion. Science isn’t religion. Religion is based on faith which is not tested empirically where as science tests everything. Your actual complaint is not about science, but about questions.

The problem is if you teach children a literal Bible then the world simply doesn’t agree with it. If your religious text claims the Sun revolves around the Earth you are going to lose in a fight to the people who prove things empirically. The Bible does not produce any technological advances, you can read it cover to cover and the only thing you are going to be able to do is quote the Bible. Science has cured more lepers than Jesus and doesn’t claim it is a miracle. Everything science produces works on testable and understandable concepts. It’s just that you REFUSE to accept one part of science (Biology). It’s the science that I use to kill major diseases. Remind me again how many people prayer claims to have cured. Then remind me again what happens when people don’t see a doctor but pray instead.

In biology class, students are currently taught Atheism, which is a religion of denial of a Creator.  Why is it that educators have no problem with brainwashing students with such an ideology, which is highly incredulous, but find excuses to avoid teaching that which is more probable?   Since when is teaching only one explanation of events desirable, when common sense dictates that another explanation is closer to the truth?   Since when is a testimony full of “conditions just right”, and “random luck”, a basis for a restricted curriculum? 

No, the students are taught that they evolved to be humans and were not created as is. We also didn’t descend from Adam and Eve and Noah and are a lot older as a species than the Bible claims we are.

There is no evidence for any god lest of all your own (I am assuming Jehovah). If so? Demonstrate empirical proof and I will be the first person to admit that I was wrong. There is ABSOLUTELY no demonstrable proof of any gods. Keep your gods in your Churches and we will keep our science out of them.

1. It is not more probable to have a god. To invoke god you would have to make a series of assumptions that are not only individually unprovable and indeed massive assumptions but each assumption would have to be based a previously faulty assumption. A god exists solely due to such towers assumptions. Science lies on two assumptions. Everything is natural and our sense provide a relatively good idea of what’s going on around us. There is ABSOLUTELY no evidence for the existence of ANY god let alone the Abrahamic one.

2. There is a subtle Irony that you want us to teach the controversy but refuse to teach Hinduism on a fair and equal balance in your Church. Until you can demonstrate any sizeable empirical evidence for the existence of your god beyond “Bible Says So” we are afraid that your faith should go sit in the corner with Islam and Hinduism. At least they have the decency (in our western world at least) to not try and fob off their blatant stupidity on the rest of the people.

3. You demonstrate a terrifyingly bad grasp of evolution. You my friend are the reason we don’t teach “Jesus” in Biology. Everything you just said about Evolution is WRONG.

The same class that teaches that “there is no Creator” must also teach the opposing view, else the school system is taking sides, causing an imbalance in education.   Are the public schools suppose to be recruiting grounds for Atheist converts?  That is what our schools have been doing, and the Atheists want to keep it that way, using the pretext of “separation of church and state”.  What about separating Atheism and the state?   How many students first come to class with a belief in a Deity, then after science class indoctrination, come away with changed beliefs?   Ever heard of the “Lemon Test”?   Why isn’t it being applied? 

I am sure that we will gladly teach the opposing view if you can provide empirical evidence that the god that exists is Jehovah and not that Phoney Baloney Brahma Fellow.

Or even prove that a god exists.

I don’t think you want a separation of Church and State, I think you want a separation of SCIENCE and State.

The Lemon Test doesn’t apply to science because science is proven empirically to exist while religion exists purely in the hearts and minds of those who believe in it. People come away from Science with changed beliefs because Science challenges you to QUESTION things. And if you question “god” sufficiently you start realising that he is a form of superstition.

The truth of history has nothing to do with religion. The book of Genesis explains the 4.6 billion year history of our Earth, and why the fossil and geologic records are found as they are.  The worlds of Creationism and Theology have no idea what Genesis chapter one is conveying to mankind.  Their foolish and false representations are mainly the reason mankind has not known the truth of our origins.  The remaining reason is that too many people have been too stubborn to examine the truth, before jumping to their biased conclusions.  

Yes… What is it? Jehovah fooled us all? Sin? Satan’s running around changing all the fossils?

The truth is that humanity is a lot more remarkable than your silly beliefs and you demand we stop being awesome so that your god looks better in comparison to us.

You would probably demand I stop handing out Dapsone to leprosy cases because I make Jesus look impotent.

Of the ones that have seen the Observations of Moses, the “young earth” believers provide the most resistance, because they have been brainwashed by doctrines of denial (such as “no death before Adam”), which Genesis does not support.   Most that see the presentation come away in awe, and wonder why they had not heard of it before.   They question why only now is this (literal) view of Genesis being revealed, and why only one person has been promoting it.

Because you are coming to your own conclusions about the Bible. This is like watching two blind men argue over whether the Elephant in the room is a Cyclops.  

I teach a 6-hr class for science teachers, to help them answer questions that students would ask concerning the fossil record and geologic time as defined by Genesis.  When you teach both sides of the coin, you have balance, and are not “taking sides”.   Public education is suppose to be neutral, and is not to promote any religion (theism or anti-theism), using public funds.   Promoting Atheism in the public school system is evil, and is unconstitutional.   Just look at the results such teachings have done to our society, where our children have a low value of human life.   If there is no Creator, then there is no final Judgment: this is the message now being taught in public schools.

That you can boil down your entire world view into a 6 hour class for SCIENCE teachers is not just amusing, it is terrifying. It is a damning indictment that American Science is Fucked and requires a rigorous input of actual science at all levels of education. My generation grew up with the Magic School Bus and Bill Nye (our American Imports) alongside things like Blue Peter and the various BBC science shows.

The current generation is simply lacking in a show that encourages simple scientific endeavour and I am afraid the people who win in arguments like this are people like Herman Cummings.

The 62 minute presentation first proves that current creationism is wrong, both “young Earth” and all forms of “old Earth” theories.   Secondly, it then disproves the Big Bang theory, by revealing withheld facts of our solar system, which the world of science doesn’t want the world to know.   Thirdly, the presentation then explains the jumps in the fossil record, from 245 million years ago, to that of modern times.  (In case you are wondering, the flood of Noah, which occurred in 2611 BC, has nothing to do with it).   Geologic events is what the seven days of Moses are teaching, because Creation Week is not found in Genesis, as has been mistakenly taught by those in ignorance of the text.    

Your argument is “Creationism is Wrong” because “My Creationism is Right”!

Secondly, the Big Bang Theory is widely considered fact due to the sheer amount of evidence for it.

Thirdly, everything you have said here is just so vague and incomprehensive that it doesn’t really mean anything.

I highly encourage each and every state to have this presentation shown to your legislative body, so that they will see the truth of pre-historic history.  They must first see what the truth is, so that they can then make an educated decision on how to implement this into the education system.  This is not something that would be taught by the Clergy or schools of Theology, because they are mired in false doctrines.   

This is just an excuse to insert more Jesus into Children when they require more science.

I Get Mail – Apparently I am officially a FTBully

While waiting for my ride to my exam, I decided to check my mail and came across this little message that I felt needed a reply.

There are some disturbing tendencies among  skeptics/atheists I’d like to bring your attention to 

Disturbing? Tendencies? ATTENTION???

What could it be? Well….

  • Banning people for disagreeing. I’m not talking about people making stupid claims like the earth is actually a large piece of bubble-gum. I’m talking about people who think maybe everyone should be treated equally and anyone can be a victim of discrimination. It happens more to some groups than others, but that doesn’t mean anyone is immune. Blocking instead of answering valid questions/concerns or to avoid showing what you claim is accurate, or blocking people you are publicly criticizing  in order to keep them from answering to that criticism are also ‘in’ behaviors among many.  The point has been made that people are allowed to run their web pages as they see fit and I agree but just because they can and do doesn’t mean they aren’t being a little irresponsible and underhanded. remember when  a skeptic/atheist would trip over themselves to answer someone who questioned their claims or demanded proof? Those days are long gone in some places.

I haven’t blocked anyone (YET) from my blog so I assume this is aimed at other FTBloggers/ullies. And I will remind people this.

These are private blogs. Our personal agreement is as long as we don’t indulge in blatant faux pas we can blog here. Now I assume the censorship whinge is about various MRA and people from the organisation officially calling themselves the Slymepit. But these are blogs aimed at stuff we like.

We cannot keep answering questions. We often have comment policies which if triggered will cause bans and deletions. But we can be as draconian as we like. I can ban people for supporting the breaking of eggs on the pointed side if I so wish and there is pretty much nothing people can do about it except NOT READ. However I am trying my level best to put in a sensible system and indeed people like PZ Myers offer places which are off topic and off topic with no moderation to allow his readers to say what they feel like.

And we aren’t the only group of people who use bans like this (I shall cover it later. It’s actually rather interesting).

The current major argument is whether or not women have it bad in Atheism. And I have repeatedly said that while women in Skeptic/Atheist circles are not badly mistreated like say women in Geek or Videogame circles (or Securities and Hacking for that matter) they are not represented well. And are often subject to Atheism having been a boy’s club for a long long while.

We keep saying this and you keep ignoring all the people who complain about it. And yes I agree it’s a western thing and kind of “silly” if you aren’t from the same kind of society but I recognise people care about things closer to home. You will lose more sleep about graffiti bandits tagging your house than genocide in a far off country. That’s horrid but that’s how life is for most people. So more people are worked up about sexism in their back garden. In 2 years time if a horrific attack on a woman came to my attention in India, I would be less pro-active about it because I won’t be here.

With this in mind there is a distinct anti-feminist drive amongst atheists. There is a simple piece of terminology you must understand. A feminist is just someone who believes and campaigns for equal rights for women. They don’t want to steal your penis and turn you into a zombie. If you believe that women are and should be treated as equals to men bar the obvious (Maternity) then congratulations you are a feminist. If you are willing to obfuscate or deny real issues amongst women then you are not. There is a major anti-feminist campaign to simply turn every argument here into an argument about them. The amount of personal attacks is astonishing and often they cross various acceptable lines.

  • The redefining of words to fit a certain social movements agenda. A lot of people are abusing the  phrase “definitions change over time” Yes, they do change but if you are aware of that then you should be smart enough to know the old usage doesn’t just shrink into a little ball of light and blink out in front of everyone one day and no one sends out regular memos which are posted on front doors to announce any change. It takes time for the most familiar definition to fall out of use if it ever does at all. 

Okay. But the only one that I have really run across as “redefining” in our current society is the word “retard” and mainly because that word has always been part of the euphemism roulette (Stupid, Idiot and Moron were earlier uses of the word) where it suddenly becomes unacceptable to say the previous word and the word slowly becomes less and less insulting.

And words are redefined to fit social movement agendas all the time. Nigger and Fag (more recently) were both redefined by their usage in American society with both being part of reclamation movements. It isn’t universal (people in the UK for instance refer to cigarettes as fags). Neither is the way people speak in different parts of the world.

  • Paralinguistic cues. This is a widespread problem since we have become more exposed to ‘text only’ interactions. Language also isn’t always easy to understand especially when you are reading the written word. Text does not carry mannerisms or paralinguistic cues . This causes people like Adam Lee to make assumptions and come to incorrect conclusions about other people he has never met. Adam doesn’t understand there is always more to a person than what can be guessed by reading a twitter feed or a blog. 

Adam Lee doesn’t blog here…

I don’t even know who he is in all honesty. I should read up a bit more.

There is a lot more to a person than a twitter feed or a blog. BUT what we do on them explains a lot about the type of person we are, what our beliefs are and how we really treat people. If the only reason you aren’t calling everyone you meet a bag of cunts (and I am using the massively devastating american usage of the expression rather than the more jovial british attitude to the word.) is the social repercussion then you aren’t a nice person.

Your online persona is basically you without the limiter of social disapproval. You wouldn’t dream of showing up to a job interview dressed like Bruce Willis in Die Hard with A Vengeance because you know people would disapprove and think you are a racist. You may not be one but that’s the persona you are putting forth. We may be “judgemental” but it’s not up to us to look past your thick callous exterior to find the goodness inside you.

That’s the job of Disney Princesses. Do I look like fucking Belle to you? Do you see me triapse around in swishy dresses surrounded by anthropomorphic utensils? It’s not my job to tolerate you till I get Stockholm Syndrome/witness the hidden beauty that is you. It’s you job to put your best foot forward.

  •  Censorship. There have been an incredible amount of attempts to “quiet the opposition”  among some atheist/skeptics. Flagging videos, blocking people before you even have any exchange with them. Character assassinations, shunning, calling for people to pick one side of an issue and force anyone who isn’t on your side out of any discussion. Dismissing entire groups of people based on who they choose to interact with rather than considering them based on their actions and words. All these things are counterproductive. Behaving in this manner limits our ability to progress and interact. If you surround yourself with people who agree with you on all aspects of life you start to think your opinion is the most reasonable because everyone you know agrees. Social interaction is complicated and the more open you are to differing opinions the easier it will be to make sure everyone is treated equally.

There has also been harassment and threats and attempts to divert people from readings solely because of where they are hosted or who says them. Tribalism exists on both sides.

And some of the people you interact with are insanely dangerous. MRA’s from the Slymepit who were regulars at AVfM showed up. Many of our bloggers here have been harassed by people such as Wooly Bumblebee who are writers at AVfM. The same AVfM that supported the idea that the women in India who are raped have it easier than the men. And I noticed absolutely no backlash from the Slymepit.

What would you have me think? That you are all silently disapproving? Well they are vocal enough about shoes or whether or not I should have things they consider important yet they are actually silent about their own members supporting rape apologists in FREAKING INDIA. They defended a culture that was trying to blame women for a rape that left a young woman dead. The interaction you are having with these people is one of camaraderie, not distaste.

It’s not counter-productive. It’s recognition of who you are and what you are willing to fight for. In my experience the FTB naysayers were more interested in my quest to replace an old laptop (including one individual who suggested I should GET A JOB.) than the actual protests that I covered.

And the entire irony is that many people from the anti-FTB brigade are guilty of PRECISELY this.

  • The lack of inclination or need to explain your position/conclusions to others. Many skeptic/atheists do not feel it is important to explain why they feel the way they do about certain subjects. They expect others to just ‘get it’ because it seems so simple to them. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line is either the enemy, stupid, or just unworthy of being shown any respect. PZ Myers is a great example of this. Now I know PZ has been very supportive of me and I don’t mean to insult him but, to be honest, PZ is like a conceited,  bitter, vindictive, bully. He is far too busy to ever make sure his point is clear or to make a case for his side of an argument. He is to important to be bothered by silly details like being accurate and honest. It is much easier to shut down the critics by shutting off the comments and/or  banning them when (or sometimes before) they  post presenting a counter opinion. If we could harness the condescension  and  arrogance contained in PZ’s head it could power 3 states an still be enough to run the intense limelight he thinks constantly shines on him. 

Well he is a pretty well known atheist and a pretty known internet figure in addition to actually having a pretty well known job. I don’t have time either but the way I write is different (And I travel sufficiently to work on posts during transit). However he does explain. He has explained. Others have explained what he believes in too. Now I don’t know what your personal relationship with the man is but from what I read, his blog is pretty explicit on what he does and doesn’t support.

He has posts that regularly hit hundreds of comments. He doesn’t have time to respond to each of your comments.

And many “critics” cross various well established lines.

Put it this way, if I went on the Stormfront and defended interracial marriage and children I would get banned. That’s their idea of freedom and their idea of rules. I have to stick to those ideas. The same applies when you comment here. The individual bloggers comment policies control what you can and cannot say. It’s not universal.

ENT

If you are wondering why I wrote a post on ENT quackery you must know that today is my ENT exam. I am in the vague fugue of knowing that I have studied but still worried about it.

It’s a 3 hour paper in 4 hours.

AND it’s my last written paper. I have 3 Viva Voce’s and I am done.

Not the Ducks! – ENT Ain’t Nothing to Fuck With

So why does quackery get a free ride?

Well IMHO the major problem is that especially in the USA, drug companies are allowed to flog non-OTC (over the counter) medications to customers. Quackery is basically doing the same thing.

Now there are two ways to classify quack medicine.

1. It doesn’t work and either does nothing or makes things worse. Homeopathy and things like Lupron would be in this category.

2. It works but not for the reasons given with wild embellishments of efficacy.

The common component of these things is the often wild embellishments of efficacy. Who’s going to check? These aren’t doctors. There is no veracity behind the claims. Let’s take this article from Columbia. [Read more…]

Hags of Lag – Power of Anonymous

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2byfNvzfOHs

I don’t agree with it entirely, but I agree with the core message. I would add “Anonymity” is powerful and the personas we create are important.

And yes, I have caught myself doing some of the things he mentioned. And it may explain why we aren’t liked even if we produce original content.

I think one of the most important things we can remember about anonymity is to use it to be ourselves rather than something we are not. That anonymity is a powerful tool and to use it to spew things about fags and bitches and niggers is a frightful waste of something that can be used to speak out against oppression and the like.

I think one of the most useful things to remember is what you would and wouldn’t say IRL. Would you run around offering to show your penis to random women you meet on a daily basis? Are your conversations with the cashier punctuated with racist slurs? You wouldn’t and with good reason. You would be ostracised and treated like a social pariah. When the Klan go on about “them negroes” we don’t listen to them.

Why do we listen to idiots who say these things online? Well Athene may hit the nail on the head in some parts, because we reward these idiots. That the bad behaviour is positively reinforced and sometimes we don’t even recognise that we are supporting bad behaviour. So while your incisive post flaying Duane T. Gish’s most recent argument (as an example!) on Reddit may have gotten hits before, it is unlikely to do as well as well today.

In part it may have to do with memes and the ascendancy of the concept. (Oh Dawkins! You fool! You know not what thou has unleashed! It is too late, there is naught but hope in Pandora’s Box!). It may have to do a lot with rewarding one liners and because you reward these one liners that have basically been stamped onto a common image you are actually killing genuine new material.

I hold no aspirations to being a blogger. I got super lucky. I never had this level of feedback or conversations with anyone who read my work. It’s nice when you are read but for that to happen we need to start rewarding original work a bit more than we normally do. There are other bloggers like me out there who have not had the good fortune that I have had.

So think when you up vote and don’t stop making original content. Reward the writers because it takes effort to write. And Anonymity is awesome but it has to be used responsibly and not to hurl racist, sexist or phobic slurs..

Otherwise you are all just artless onion eyed hedge pigs!

Hags of Lag – Videogames are not for Girls! Even if they make them!

If you want to read something heart wrenching about the problem facing women in the video game industry then I suggest reading the Boston Globe.

It’s sad, the more people who play our games the better. You have better stories the more inclusive they are and the community as a whole improves.

It is stupid to create a community that willingly throws away 50% of people as a potential market.

It’s poor sense as a community and it’s poor sense as a business.