On being Mrs Ra (I get comments)

The first thing I need to get out of the way is for the most part it is great to be Mrs. Ra. I get to meet all sorts of interesting and intelligent freethinkers all over the country. And over time, I have come out of my introverted shell more. The cool thing lately, is that I meet people, who recognize me as well and thank me for projects I have done like Answers in Science. Although this article focuses on the big names, it actually started out because of my tiny webcast getting into it with Ken Ham. Really I don’t see myself as having the impact that Aron or the others at that seminar do on pseudoscience. But this is one instance where the roles were reversed and he was a part of something I started. That is one of the negatives about being “Mrs. Ra”, that people sometimes discredit or devalue my contributions. Even well meaning people some feminists themselves, who otherwise like me, have casually let it slip that people would not listen to me if it weren’t for Aron.

Others who know me personally and understand my contributions, as well, when they see anonymous comments along these lines, say ignore it they are horrible people, who lead horrible lives. In truth, that advice has made me stay silent about the friendly fire I’ve experienced inside the atheist community. I don’t want to validate people with attention, who are motivated to bully and harass people online. In their view I am “strong and independent” if I say nothing, and any response to their bullying is seen as “whining”. A  win-win situation for them right? Stay silent and they continue bullying, and it is bullying not trolling because people actually are that hateful in real life. Understand it is not unusual for people to call women bitches, cunts, stupid, emotional, irrational, feminazi, whore, slut, or  fat in real life. I have had people in real life call me most of those things when they are angry even total strangers. Many women have and even sometimes by other women.

If you do say something, you are seen as a complainer or a whiner. As a middle school teacher, I often see bullied children, who have had the onus of bullying flipped on them. One child actually said “snitches get stitches” when I was asking the class to tell me later if they knew who stole her phone. The school situations are different than online ones where drama gets magnified exponentially, and attracts rubber-neckers to the trainwreck. That one reason alone is a good reason to not say anything about it, especially if you want to accomplish positive things. It decreases the signal to noise ratio.

A good example of this is the science curriculum supplement videos I am working on with Aron. To be sure, Aron would do a kick ass job in articulating tough topics like evolution on his own. However, can he read broad state standards, and focus specifically on what students need to do well in school? An example, he could do this awesome, enriching  presentation on the development of the eye for teaching natural selection. However, if peppered moths are the tested example then it will be less effective. Does he have classroom experience with students, who don’t have a science background? Does he have training in pedagogy? Has he had the experiences of failing on a lesson he thought was great, and later revised it to make it better? Nope. As a teacher, I have had those experiences. I am helping to amplify his signal, and it is one of the greatest things about being Mrs. Ra. I know that the two of us would have a hard time replacing each other as a companion and partner. We make each other better people.

So, I go on the Magic Sandwich Show with Aron to explain the project to people, and I have an anonymous hater in the comments being up-voted that I am supposedly a “stupid whore”. Never-mind that although others like Concordance and Aron have more scientific gravitas, I am the only one on the panel, who is a certified science teacher with classroom experience. It doesn’t matter how true something I say is, or how qualified I am to speak on a subject. What matters in this case is that I disagreed in another show with Thunderf00t on feminist issues, and that I even identify as a feminist in other cases. Thunderf00t can’t be wrong to his fans, I have to be misunderstanding him because I am stupid, irrational, or emotional. And too, I am the emotional one when this commenter has used a discussion on science education to talk about how much he hates me. Hate is an emotion too and expressing inappropriate emotions is irrational too, right?

Even though it annoys me that the noise this person makes derails the discussion to an irrational discussion on whether I deserve to be hated or not, I still have to say this even against the very good reasons to leave it alone. I have to speak up in order to raise awareness of the strong influence of misogyny most virulently in the online atheist community. The things I have said, have been said by men like Aron in the same venue, and he is given a fair hearing and not subjected to irrational hatred. And this is why these people are not simply trolls, but bullies. Bullies are raised in the might makes right mentality. This puts men in unhealthy competition with one another and women at the bottom of the hierarchy, and their speech is viewed more negatively. Not just me all women.  Women are stereotyped as talking more to the extent that they believe this themselves. In truth, men dominate most mixed group interactions, including ones where decisions affect women too like legislatures.

Sometimes, it isn’t even a conscious effort on the part of men to dominate the conversation. Like the study I cited says, women themselves think they are talking more than they are because of societal norms that value taking turns and being polite in girls where men don’t have the same expectations. It happened here when I was discussing rape prevention on MSS with a panel of men, I am the only woman in the panel with life experiences on the topic, and still I wasn’t allowed to finish most of my points by some of the men.

The most important point I am getting at here is deciding whose speech is important in the atheist community is not like a competition in Game of Thrones where you win or you die. That world is so obsessed with dominance and being in power that it ignores the eminent threat of hordes of zombies.

game-of-thrones-new-poster

The most bad ass motherfucker gets to speak. Amirite?

 

I’d like to see a better world without the negative,regressive,domineeering effects of religious dogma.  Not a world without religion where the playground bully even if he isn’t the best leader wins. A world like this…

Not perfect, but light years ahead of the world we live in.

Not perfect, but light years ahead of the world we live in.

 

Anyhow to end on a more positive note, here are some comments of people that love me and get me. I meet these people in real life too, even in Bible Belt buckles like East Texas. A couple expressed to me there how puzzled they were, by some of the disagreements on women’s rights on my appearances on MSS. A lot of people don’t think it is cool to be hateful.

Here are the comments if you are a hater choke on it!

 

Mrs. Ra has an excellent point about creationists redefining words to suit there agenda. They use the same tactics while interpreting the Bible.
I bet Aron and Mrs Ra could come up with a damn good home schooling curriculum.Heck, Get Concordance and Ozzy on the team, too. Maybe they could come up with something to make kids woo-woo-proof.
Inspirational lady. I used to have bible studies and brought into the whole god story for a long time but they had too many pathetic answers to my valid questions. There are so many holes in the bible and christianity and religion in general that there is not enough space nor time to go into it all. I HAVE read the bible, cover to cover. I am not just an atheist. I am a guy that believed until I became old enough to grasp the inconsistencies in this nasty ass fairy story that has such a grasp on humanity.
You know what, screw it. I was anti-feminist for awhile, but fuck that. I agree with them on probably seventy percent of what they say. Just because I’m not big on the feminist culture doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist. I’ll still oppose censorship and misandry and racism when I see it in that community, but no movement is perfect. It’s better to try to fix the broken parts than to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Lilandra is right, feminism is a part of humanism.
Bravo Lilandra!Thank you for your take on humanism.. It is very much appreciated. I really love your views on contraception. You and your husband are a gift to rational people :)
(and hopefully to those non-rational people as well)

Beeker Bod

3 months ago

Finally some women on the panel…but wait!! Lilandra, thumbs up. The other two…urggh!! I guess they made things lively through their outrageous statements but I’d love to see more deep thinking women joining in on the show.

I think there’s nothing wrong with diverse ideas within secular communities. Opposing abortion for instance seems a fair stance to me, even if I disagree – if anything it highlights that the conservatives actually do not have biblical reasons for it. It’s a philosophy on the meaning of human life, nothing more. I think it can be easily exposed as false though through plenty of thought experiments (as can be the radical “unlimited abortion” idea).No doubt many of us still hold baggage from a religious upbringing. But the main point is broken. We cannot say “god says so” and stop thinking. No doubt some still do similar things, but it’s not as easy. We know we have to consider morality carefully, and if someone points out our errors we have little defense but to argue our position (and perhaps to find that it’s not as strong as we thought). That doesn’t guarantee we’ll have the same conclusions (wouldn’t that be boring!), it just takes away one false escape card.
Lilandra has been given the chance to speak several times and has made good on the opportunity. she is finding her voice and it seems to suit her. good on ya Lilandra.
aron ra, aron ra, ra ra ra!
I think AronRa just got schooled by his wife Lilandra :P
Very interesting speech.
I could go on, but you get the point.

[important]

I almost forgot that I was inspired to speak out by Laci Green’s new video where she admits she is a feminist and gives 51 reasons why.

[/important]

How Perry ran Texas

If you don’t live in Texas, then you’ve no idea what we’re up against here, but a good introduction to that is this list of

Top 10 Things Texas Governor Rick Perry Doesn’t Want You to Know About Him.

Curiously, this list does not include some of the things Texans most often criticize him for.  For example, last year, he forced through legislation effectively rendering abortions impossible for the majority of women in this state. This brought a riotous crowd of over a thousand protesters in the halls of the capitol.  Previously, In 2011, he cut billions of dollars from the budget for education, thus firing thousands of teachers.  This brought over 10,000 protesters, and my wife and I were among them.  His principle opposition  in both of these instances was State Senator Wendy Davis.

On the day Perry signed his anti-abortion bill, he also signed the execution orders of a woman who was his 500th victim on death row.  The article mentions how Perry allowed a man to be executed who was already exonerated, but it doesn’t mention how Perry had executed more than twice as many prisoners than the next most lethal state.   The article also doesn’t mention how he shot a coyote while jogging, because he jogs with a Ruger .380 strapped to his arm!

Governor Perry also promoted his presidential campaign on his his hatred of homosexuals -as well as his issues against women’s rights and anything that might be of help to the poor.  But he hasn’t just attacked them, he’s also against the environment.  Perry appointees stored toxic waste dangerously close to a communal aquifer which provides drinking water for seven states,  Perry himself is also famous for his unwitting admission that he takes bribes, a fact that was already well-established by documentation.  That is apparently why he deregulated chemical plants that wouldn’t pass federal inspection, and then two of them exploded in suburban neighborhoods.  This is the man who thought that the most appropriate way to deal with record drought was to hold a prayer rally!  That rally failed by the way.  What a surprise.  Yet this article doesn’t mention that either.

This article should also mention that Rick Perry repeatedly positioned unqualified young-earth creationists on the state’s board of education specifically to undermine education in science, health, and social studies.  Thus our SBoE has repeatedly embarrassed the state on an international scale.  Perry also famously bragged that Texas teaches creationism in our public schools, and there are several public schools that do -under the guise of ‘religious studies’, which teach the Bible as literal fact.

So the next time someone asks why I wear high boots like Han Solo, this is why; because we’re in deep shit here.

So, you’d like to see better science education?

Aron and I have been involved together in opposing pseudoscience since before we met, and married. Of course, he has been at this twice as long and has an exponentially bigger footprint both on necks of creationists, and on people he has helped educate. I am one of those people. Ten years ago,he challenged me to provide a better explanation than evolution for origins. Of course, you know who already had all the answers going in. It didn’t end as badly as his recent challenge to OnceForgivenNowFree  with OFNF ignoring any evidence and then declaring victory. Even if it had, I would have still been wrong, and still ignorant like OFNF is.

I started out as a Christian homeschooler and the journey has taken me through being a theistic evolutionist at a Christian private school to even getting into a dust up with Ken Ham about his creationist homeschool curriculum. Along the way, I started teaching science in public schools.  Every now and again I get a student, who responds that planets, mountains, dogs, or whatever came from god, and they don’t “believe” in science. It often makes me sad to see how incurious dogmatic beliefs have made them. Of course, I reply but you do use science everyday, and show them why and where.

This is going to sound melodramatic, but Aron set me free from ignorance, and showed me things I would have never known growing up with a creationist background. And now I have had the chance to repay him by helping get him the support he needs to set more people free.

We started a Patreon campaign just nine days ago, so that he could make videos full time. Since then it has surpassed nearly every goal we set. Now next week, he will be devoting full time effort to making science education videos for secondary school with my help. When I got into it with Ham, secular homeschoolers would message me asking what I recommended in terms of science education given that most of the homeschool science curriculum are religious. The videos will be a resource for them, private and public school parents, and teachers. He also will be starting a new bi-weekly podcast with Be Secular’s Mark Nebo.  As I type this, he is within 50 dollars of his 1500 a video goal, and at that goal he will make a Phylogeny Explorer website for science students and scientists. He is going to have to set another goal to pay for part time assistance in loading millions of taxa.

All of the mostly positive support and trust people have placed in Aron has surprised him, and he will do his best to deserve their support. Most of all, we are grateful for the opportunity to help remediate some of the harm done by scientific illiteracy.  Really, anyone who says something like, “We are the magic rock apes!” has missed more than a few basic steps in biology.

Unholy Trinity Tour Last Stop: San Antonio Tomorrow

There is some speculation on just who resembles who in the Unholy Trinity.  Most people think that Aron resembles Satan himself. Even Ken Ham pointed out that he thinks Aron looks Satanic.  You could make a case for the other 2 in the tour Seth Andrews or Matt Dillahunty. How does anyone know what Satan look likes anyways?

Anyhow, the last stop is going to be in San Antonio tomorrow. You can still buy tickets at the door. Who knows maybe you will be seen in the video Seth is making of it.

Youtube Misogyny: Glenn and Rad on “Rodger Madman or Misogynist”?

Christina Rad has an excellent rebuttal to Jaclyn Glenn’s musings and follow up on Elliot Rodger, and his motives for a mass shooting. She has some astute observations on how words like mentally ill and insane are not interchangeable.  I don’t want to ruin it for you, so go watch it. Of course, the comments are already thick with misogyny deniers, and people who think they know when people are insane or not and what motivates them.

Rad made an excellent point about how insanity is defined in a legal context. It hinges on a criminal’s ability to understand whether their action was right or wrong. She sets up a case quoted from his Manifesto, that Rodger was aware of the legality of his actions.

In the aftermath of the shootings, people often said things like we can never know what went on in the mind of a madman. As Rad points out, Rodger laboriously documented his motivations.

I was going to post that I hoped that Glenn would give Rad’s video an equal amount of effort and thought, but she has already posted to it.

JaclynGlenn

Again, since apparently everyone misses this, I said he was VERY misogynistic. I said this several times in both videos. He was also fucked up in the head. Feminists like to ignore that because it doesn’t suit their agenda, hence my video. His mental state made him capable of murder, the misogyny simply determined who the targets would become.I too have lawyers in my family. Yes, insanity was a colloquialism… I mentioned that it was a legal term because that’s the word most people seemed to offended by. Since it is legal (and slang) I pointed it out.

So again, she returns to the point she made in her videos, that feminists are ignoring that Rodger was “fucked up in the head” because it doesn’t suit their agenda. I am pretty sure that Rad didn’t ignore that he may have unusual and I believe she said strange  behaviors. More importantly, it isn’t fair for Glenn to accuse “feminists” as a group of ignoring Rodger may have had a psychological diagnosis. (Worded that more charitably) The thing Glenn is missing is it is irrelevant as a motive if he wasn’t legally insane. And too, that is a strong accusation to accuse “feminists” of callously using a mass shooting to further their “agenda”. She hasn’t provided strong enough evidence to make such a blanket accusation of feminists.

While we are on agenda, why would it be a bad thing to draw attention to misogyny culture provided you aren’t glossing over the real motive? I think Glenn must already know that she gets more hate directed toward her as a woman than men youtubers get. Whenever, I discuss feminism on youtube the hate directed towards me is fierce. There are all kinds of gleefully angry comments on my perceived appearance, rationality, and emotionality.  It is like dealing with hateful creationists only dripping with more venomous contempt. On other topics that don’t draw misogynists out people comment that my voice is cute or something of that nature.

Youtube right now is a cesspool of misogyny culture. It is denied in some cases by popular atheists, who paradoxically don’t have religious cultural reasons to deny that there is a problem. The culture is so pervasive that it feeds hateful, misogynists like Rodger a steady diet of hate. Don’t forget that Rodger is a youtuber, and posted his death threats there. He also fed himself a steady diet of Pick up Artist rhetoric that dehumanizes women there. Another important point Glenn misses, people often live in subcultures that normalize things that are delusional. That is why religious beliefs are not necessarily diagnosable in the DSM V. If people think they are praying to a god, it isn’t necessarily a psychiatric hallucination. It is normalized by religious culture.

And still, I can hear the denials that I have already heard before that you shouldn’t take internet posts like death and rape threats seriously. They’re trolls, right? Don’t be a victim Glenn urged in her videos, because she says you can’t affect the victimizers.

As someone, who has been bombarded with hateful comments, I say fine you can’t stop insults. However, youtube has to stop being a place for mass shooters to threaten people. The death and rape threats need to be against comment policy and taken down. How come youtube can defend copyrights of corporations, but not the rights of living people to not have their lives threatened? What if you want to hear Christina Rad, Ashley Paramore, or even Jaclyn Glenn, but you can’t because they have been targeted by misogynists and it has taken a toll?

un-biotic

Isn’t this an amazing image?

Looks like a living horror to me!

I saw this on Twitter, and had to talk about it.  I am impressed that this can be an electron photograph. It has color and shadow. How?  I wouldn’t have thought that possible. But most amazing is what it is, a T4 bacteriophage, a virus which infects E.coli.  Why is that impressive? Well, look at it!  Before this alien lander touched down on this cell, it was a virion, a completely static entity, an inert device in the “off” position.  Once the legs contact the ‘active sites’, it logically activates, just like a space probe; it ‘switched on’. What it does then is insidious.

The way it drills into the cell, so mechanical, so cold.  Just like a robotic probe, a mere machine.  The thing is, these things are not alive.  They’re genetic, they reproduce, they evolve, and they can even be killed, -yet they do not qualify as living organisms.  They’re so very close to that, and they certainly look the part.  Many even have DNA.  But they can’t achieve homeostasis.  They can’t maintain an internal chemical balance, and that is what defines an organism as living. This thing however, this alien invader -is a supra-complex macromolecular nanite mite, existing right at the edge of being ‘alive’.

I don’t know; I just find some concepts fascinating.  Had to share.

Apostacon!

I will be hosting a workshop at Apostacon. This will be the first one I’ve ever done. So helpful suggestions will be appreciated.
I will present a series of faith-based woo arguments and explain the philosophy or fallacy behind them.  We will share the arguments we’ve heard, these Points Refuted A Thousand Times, and compare them to my template to reveal a weakness in their armor. Why do they think theirs is a convincing argument for God/scripture/aliens, whatever?  What’s going on in their minds when they hear our side? We’ll look at their motivation and the strategies in play, and see how to turn it around. How do you reach the religious? How do you reason with one who rejects reason? It’s not always impossible, but there is a trick to it.
We often have arguments on the internet knowing that we’ll never change that one’s mind, but that we might convince the people on the fence.  However sometimes we really want to reach THAT person.  They might be more than just an anonymous internet handle.  They might be someone we know, someone in our circle of family or friends.  This conversation may be inevitable, and we’re either going to butt heads, or we’re going to communicate.  How do you get THAT one to understand enough of your position to at least respect it and get passed it?

This is not intended as a course to de-convert, though that will work on some people. There are categories of believers which will be effected differently, and we’ll talk about that too.

Apostacon is a Pastafarian conference in Omaha Nebraska, September 19th – 21st.  Last year’s event was well-organized and a good time for all. This year’s keynote speaker is Lawrence Krauss!  But there is also another associated event with Neil deGrasse Tyson!  The host of the new Cosmos will present ‘an evening of scientific inquiry’ in the same venue that Friday night.

Tickets for both events are on-sale today, June 16th, and should be purchased before the end of July.  Be sure to register for early-bird pricing to Apostacon using my speaker code, ARA1443.

Feuerstein’s folly

I never heard of Joshua Feuerstein before a couple weeks ago, when the BBC asked my opinion of his viral video. I contributed my bit to their trending News Magazine, but the video below only used a few seconds of that 30 minute interview.

Before they posted this video, I got an email apologizing that something had happened to their recording, such that much of the audio was muffled.  I don’t think I should make another video about this, but I do want to post the missing bits of what I told the BBC.

Feuerstein opens his video repeating the 11th foundational falsehood of creationism, saying that evolution has never been observed.  Even mAcroevolution has been directly observed and documented dozens of times, both in the lab, and in naturally-controlled conditions in the field.

He then moves to the 15th foundational falsehood of creationism, saying that evolution is ‘just’ a theory, like atomic theory, the germ theory of disease, relativity, or the theory of gravity. A ‘theory’ is a body of verifiable facts, testable hypotheses, and natural laws within a given field of study. That field of study *is* the theory. Creationism has no theory, because they have no hypotheses, or natural laws. There’s no body of knowledge there, because there is no part of creationism that anyone can actually show to be true -the way we can with evolution.

Then he jumps onto the 6th FFoC, where ‘evolution’ somehow has to account for the origin of life, the universe, and everything. Actually evolution is only a theory of biodiversity and is limited to population genetics.

Then he evokes the power of will -as if that had anything to do with any aspect of evolution; as if that wasn’t a facet of his own religion instead, wherein Jesus says that anyone who has faith can will mountains to leap into the sea. “Mind over matter” is an aspect of religious faith, not facts like the study of evolution is.

Then he moves onto the 7th FFoC, arguing that evolution is an ‘accident’.  In that he misquotes thermodynamics, showing that he doesn’t know any more about that than he doesn’t know about anything else.  He has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

Laughably, he even evokes Bill O’Reilly’s most embarrassing gaff, “Tide goes in, tide goes out, never a miscommunication; you can’t explain that”. It was that line of idiocy with David Silverman on the show that sparked Silverman’s WTF meme.

Then he moves onto Fred Hoyle’s ‘tornado in the junkyard’ fallacy, only he changed the Boeng 747 to a red Lamborghini.

Finally, he wants to believe something that has already been disproved in a court of law a decade ago, and he wants that taught in school anyway, and he wants to expose his ignorance of that loudly and proudly.

I don’t know how he could possibly be sincere.  How could anyone still be that grossly misinformed once they’re immersed in this discussion?  Whenever someone is THAT dumb, they’re likely to be poe. But this guy appears to be making a living at it, and is getting famous with it, and that is another reason to doubt that he would ever concede any of his many mistakes here. Accuracy and accountability simply do not matter to professional creationists.  But I’m least happy that WIldwood Claire awarded him the title of ‘dim bulb of the week’.

Weighing in on Godzilla

Hey Hollywood, would it kill ya to have a science adviser when doing science fiction?

Let me preface the rest of my rant with the admission that I have always been a Godzilla fan.  I wasn’t really a fan of kaiju, (giant Japanese monsters) only Godzilla himself.  He was my hero as a boy, and even now his roar has been my only ring tone any of the cell phones I have ever had.  By the time I hit puberty, I had already lost count of how many times I had seen Godzilla vs the Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla, Monster Zero, and the one that started it all, (for me) the 1956 American-dub called ‘Godzilla, King of the Monsters’.  Literally dozens of movies have been made about this terrible lizard, and all of them have been ridiculous for different reasons.

The original 1954 Japanese film, Gojira was iconic, and only made a couple mistakes of any significance.  (1)They killed him in the end, and we saw his body turned to skeleton. Not the best way to begin 60 years worth of sequels.  (2) Godzilla was depicted as a dinosaur, and was associated with living trilobites.  Even if there was some sort of ‘realm that time forgot’ out in the Pacific somewhere, Trilobites were already extinct before the first dinosaurs, and Godzilla was clearly no dinosaur.

GojiraModelThe conceptual artists reportedly referenced illustrations of dinosaurs, but that’s not what they rendered.  All bi-pedal dinosaurs [Therapods] were digigrade, walking on their toes, like birds, and usually only three or four digits.  Godzilla was plantigrade and pentadactyle, (having five digits and walking on the whole foot) just like lizards.  It even looks like a lizard, apart from the fact that no reptile has an actual nose or external ears.  In a sense, what Toho pictures created was actually an oriental dragon.  These tend to mix reptilian and mammalian traits.

Amusingly in 1954, Toho made a giant lizard and called it a dinosaur.  In 1998, Tristar re-designed Godzilla as a dinosaur, but called it a lizard.  Of course that wasn’t the only thing Tristar did wrong.  They tried to ruin the monster completely.  They took away the only thing that worked in decades of sequels, the look of the monster itself.  Then they took away everything that made Godzilla appealing to Kaiju fans, then they tied it down and shot it.  Such disrespect.  If you’re going to make a movie that already has a fan-base, and they are the ones who will decide whether your film will pay off, respect those fans and the story they’re paying to see.

Where is your god now?

Godzilla vs Buddha

The new Godzilla from Legend pictures tried to do that.  They said their version was the biggest ever, at 355 feet tall.  But that depends on the English dubbing.  Godzilla King of the Monsters said that he was “over 400 feet-tall”.  But they used the same footage as Gojira, in which the monster was only 50 meters, or 164 feet.

Of course, there is another scene in King of the Monsters where Raymond Burr says, “Here in Tokyo… time has been turned back two million years”.  The last of the non-avian dinosaurs were apparently wiped out 65 million years ago. Two million years ago, there were already people and elephants (of a sort) but nothing like the Mesozoic dinosaurs.

Now there is actually one thing Tristar got right.  Out of all the Godzilla movies, Tristar is the ONLY one to get this right.  Their radiated iguana has a much more plausible back story than either Toho’s original dinosaur, being ‘awakened and radiated”, or the new one from Legend Pictures, which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Hollywood, weren’t you embarrassed when you made Avatar, and you made up ‘unobtanium’ as if you could just add a new element to add to the periodic table, and have it be safe to hold in a naked hand?  At least G’14 hired biologists to help design their monster. One thing they got right, that no one else ever did, was that any animal of enormous size tends to have really tiny eyes.

I think that the best science fiction is where the story is fiction but the science is real, or at least as real as possible. If you’re going to write a good sci-fi, and you want me to believe the one wholly implausible idea that your story is about, then every other aspect of the film should be as seemingly reasonable as it possibly can be. That’s what Jurassic Park tried to do. If I am to believe that an impossibly huge reptilian monster is destroying the city, then the back story of it’s origin ought to sound realistic enough to counter-balance that. That’s what the first Godzilla movie tried to do. After that, filmmakers adopted the opposite strategy; so that everything else in the subsequent sequels had so many outrageous absurdities, each so insanely stupid, that the monster in the middle was the most reasonable element by comparison.

Of course you’ve got a 30 story-tall sapient dino-lizard with a phaser-generator in it’s mouth. Why not? How else is it going to fight the equally enormous bipedal beetle with drill-bit arms? Especially now that it’s being mind-controlled by those aliens from another Japan in outer space. Someone needs to get those 3-inch tall identical twins to sing their song that wakes up the giant space bug. I don’t know what a 100-meter moth can do, but we need all the help we can get now that our toxic waste has come alive too!

I like Godzilla as much as the next guy. No, I like Godzilla more than the next guy!  Since I was a little kid, I watched all those absurd rubber-suit movies thinking how cool it would be if we remade Gojira as a big budget block-buster. They failed to do that in 1985, when they brought back Raymond Burr. They failed to do that in 1998, with Tristar’s GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) and I’m sorry to say that they failed again with the latest attempt.

The first problem was that it should have been a horror movie. It is actually possible to do that.  As a survivor of both earthquakes and tornados, I can explain exactly what that would be like. I once got a phone call saying that radar is tracking a twister headed straight for my house.  I looked out the front door, but couldn’t see the end of my driveway because of the torrential rain.  I knew there was a 400 foot-tall monster coming at me through the darkness, but I couldn’t see or hear it. All I could hear were were the warning sirens and distant screaming, both barely audible through the driving rain.  Having no defense or escape in that situation, I know exactly how frightening Godzilla could have been.

There is also the issue that the new Godzilla is fighting other kaiju. What makes this monster unique is that he’s far bigger than the biggest thing there ever was. So it doesn’t make sense to suddenly have a whole bunch of other things that are just as freakishly huge as he is. The ‘mutos’ he had to fight were beyond absurd just on their own, and they are part of the biggest problem this movie has.

The male muto starts out as a parasite on a fossil, even though it’s far bigger than anything that is actually known in the fossil record. Then it burrows underground (again grossly implausible for an animal that size) as a caterpillar which then has to build a nest in a nuclear reactor where it takes ten years of radiation absorption to gestate. Then it has to fly half way around the world to find a female. Within the female’s eggs, we can see spawn identical to the adults. No parasitic stage, no caterpillar stage, no gestation period. No one paid any attention to the biology of these ridiculous things that don’t match anything from this biosphere. Essentially it’s like Godzilla vs the alien monster from Cloverfield, because that’s very much what these things look like.

Godzilla 2014 missed the mark primarily because it is not an origins story.  Gojira was a monster of our own making.  Similarly Gino was supposed to impose nature’s response to our meddling.  But G2014 pre-existed genetic modifications and nuclear testing.  We have no responsibility for him, nor the mutos either. They come from a time that never was, millions of years ago, “when the world was much more radioactive than it is today”.  The story implies that mutos ‘eat radiation’. In the film, they can track it through every kind of protective shielding, and they eat nuclear devices like fruit -metallic peal and all. I guess millions of years ago, nuclear missiles grew on trees, and kaiju were common even though they’re absent from the fossil record -with only one top-secret exception.  As an advocate of science education with a deep interest in paleontology, and as someone who would rather see humans held accountable for what they do to their environment, this film was very disappointing.  As an atheist, it was even worse.

This is apparently now the church of Kaiju.

The star of the film not only has impossible dimensions and an inexplicable power, he is also immortal.  He’s been alive forever, and spends all his time sleeping. He awakens only he senses submarines or the arrival of other kaiju, because he has a mission to protect humanity.  G2014 put the ‘god’ in Godzilla. The director called him a god, and some of the characters in the movie describe him as a god too.  So he’s not a lizard, not a dinosaur, but one of the Lovecraftian great old ones like Cthulhu.  In a video I made years ago, I too joked about Godzilla being a god. But it was still somewhat disappointing to see him depicted that way.

However, just to end this on a high note. The new Godzilla movie is better than most of it’s predecessors. One of the worst things about G’98 was that Gino didn’t have a breath-weapon like every other Godzilla movie did. I took my boys to see G’14 in IMAX 3D as soon as it came out, and we didn’t yet know if this movie would have what the last one didn’t.  That scene -when the battle was on, and we finally saw those dorsal spikes light up, glowing blue; we knew what that meant, we knew what was coming, and my boys were already cheering. That was the money shot!

What’s with all this pointless posturing?

What is wrong with these fundie types that they think the way to challenge someone to debate is to insult them? When will they learn that all this huffing and bluffing and puffing up can’t work on someone like me?  And I mean, not on any level.  This guy thinks I’ll respond to him because he’ll call me a coward if I don’t. Really? Who does he take me for? Marty McFly?

He says I’m afraid of him. I’ve never even seen his face before this evening. I have heard of him though. All I heard was that he’s just another rude shit-talker who can’t comport himself. What would be the point then? I feel no obligation to argue with someone who just wants to spit stupidity at me, but can’t understand anything I try to explain back.  I have a goal in these discussions, and that is to make a point. I want a meeting of the minds, but guys like this just wants to butt heads.

So a few years ago, I posted my rule with regard to debate challenges: I won’t debate anyone who nominates himself. If you have a following, and they say that you represent them, that’s different, because beating you would mean defeating the idea you defend in the minds of those who look up to you. Even if I can’t convince you, maybe I can convince them. Either way, it’s a package deal and I think there would be some value in that.  Consequently, I’ve never had a formal debate yet. So far everyone I’ve ever argued this with by appointment was at the request of 3rd parties on someone’s radio show.

I do sometimes do written debates and archive them for posterity. I think there’s value in those discussions too.  This also shows how wrong G’man is right out the gate.  He accuses me of being afraid of, and hiding from, or otherwise avoiding TrueEmpiricism. But I’ve already walked on TrueEmpiricism as a matter of public record.  How could I be afraid of him?. There’s no possible threat there.

And that’s the biggest point:  If your position is a matter of make-believe, then you’ll act like a show of confidence trumps all else, when it really doesn’t mean squat, and such a person could still be intimidated by these types of challenges too.  I can’t.  Why? Because if accuracy and accountability are all that matter, then people like G’man could never pose any intellectual threat.  He still couldn’t even if he was right!  I do not hold my beliefs on faith like he does. So I’m not determined to defend that faith even if it’s wrong.  That’s THEIR way, not mine.  Why would I want to believe something that required faith, and wasn’t evidently true?  If some believer was actually right, I would want to find that out; I want to be right too!  So if he could actually show that he was right, I would still win, because I would have learned something. I would thank him for correcting me, and I could follow the new path.  But after decades of arguing with these people, and never meeting one who even understands his own position, let alone mine, then I know what to expect. Nothing -again. Just loud empty talk.  If you had a point to make, G’man, you’d have made it already.