FtB Ethics Committee Statement on Richard Carrier

The FtB Ethics Committee has released a statement about the departure of Richard Carrier:

Freethought Blogs unequivocally condemns any behavior that threatens the safety of atheist community members, including particularly marginalized groups. Freethought Blogs also recognizes the role of sexual harassment as one of numerous barriers for women that limits access to and participation within atheist conferences and spaces.

When the recent allegations against Richard Carrier were made public, Freethought Blogs initiated a process to investigate these claims and formalize its policy concerning the conduct of its members. The FtB Ethics Committee received several reports of Carrier’s behavior and was in the process of reviewing them when Carrier chose to leave the network. A thorough review of the allegations against Carrier cannot be completed by Freethought Blogs without his cooperation.

As part of our commitment to equitable access to freethinking spaces for all, Freethought Blogs members who violate our commitment to social justice by creating or maintaining barriers to participation will be removed from the network as a matter of policy. All reports submitted to us in furtherance of this policy will be kept in the strictest of confidence, unless the accusation was made publicly or in the event we have express permission to reproduce the complaint.

-The FtB Ethics Committee

I simply want to add that the ethics committee was started before this all happened, and the thing with Carrier became a distraction from the main purpose. Things move slowly, but there will be a process for submitting complaints and a formalized policy on them. I am not on the committee, but I support their work and will sign off on and publicize what they release as time goes on.

Raising the Skeptic Signal! Another Video Compilation.

Looks like this might just be a series… RtSS. Maybe we should have a hashtag? #SkepticSignal or something? Ooh! What do you artists out there think a Skeptic Signal would look like?

This time, it isn’t ghosts or demons, but time travel.

(Note: as with the last RtSS post, this is an embedded YouTube video that is a bit hard to transcribe. If you feel you can, go for it!)

So for my part, here’s what I think:

01. Unknown Demonstration

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if such a protest takes place. There’s only 195 days until January 1, 2017, so these protesters better get on it. Of course, we could then simply explain away the protest by saying it was planned when the video and pictures were first conceived, so the protest actually happening really wouldn’t be proof of Pictures from the Future, anyways…

02. Boxing Fan

I’m inclined to agree with the 1995 Casio Camera (or really, any camera from 1995) explanation.

Why would they be shooting the match vertically? I take pictures vertically with my phone all the time. I think everyone does it, and everyone has likely been doing it since cameras became portable.

03. Faster Than the Wind

I think it’s either fake or simply a trick of perception.

04. Chaplin Time Traveler

Captain Disillusion debunked this, along with another one that appears in the video, here.

Basically, she’s likely just scratching the side of her head.

05. (Is The? Misty? Visiting?) Angel

Looks like a fake to me. Maybe a viral video meant to advertise for The Flash or something?

06. Russian Cyclist

Despite the claims of the narrator in the video, this can easily be explained by camera positioning.

I do think that the lack of a reaction from the two people in the video is the giveaway. I feel like those two people, as well as the camera person, would be way more shocked that a bicyclist just randomly appeared out of nowhere than they were.

07. Phantom Car

This is another one Captain Disillusion talked about, but he dedicated a separate (and earlier) video to it.

In short… again, camera angle. Plus, the car in front of the camera only reacted as anyone would when another driver just barrels in front of them.

08. The Man Who Met Himself

Maybe he and his dad got the same tattoo, and decided to play a prank on the internet?

09. The Mysterious Woman

Yet another video Captain Disillusion discussed in the video I linked to under the Chaplin Time Traveler. He says it looks very much like a woman holding her glasses case nervously to her face, most likely because of the documentary camera pointed straight at her. I tend to agree.

Notice how the people surrounding the woman tend to not at all react to her supposed cell phone?

Also, Captain Disillusion makes a great point in that video…

Cell phones require towers to work. If this woman and the woman from the Charlie Chaplin movie really did have futuristic cell phones in these time periods, they would be nothing more than glorified paper weights. They certainly wouldn’t be able to take or make calls with the phones.

10. The Time-Traveling Thief

Even the narrator of the video says this is probably fake (note the obvious sfx used when the thief walks through the door).

But what do you think? Agree with me? Disagree?

Let me know!

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On a separate but related note (I mentioned this in the comments of my last RtSS post) I would love to make a video that plays with this stuff, but I lack the skills needed behind the camera and with video editing software. It’d be cool to make a video that “believably” incorporates demons/ghosts, extraterrestrials, time travel, and teleportation into it, then upload it anonymously to YouTube to see the reactions.

If you live in New York, and think this would be a cool thing to do in your spare time, hit me up! I’ll make a secret Facebook group where we can all discuss the details privately. I’d like to get more than myself and one other person involved, if possible. Sadly, monetary compensation isn’t possible (I live on a Teavana salary), but I think participating in an experiment and watching how it takes off would be fun enough to be worth doing in our free time, if you’re interested.

We could let it cook for an amount of time (a year or more) before outing ourselves publicly.

And honestly, I’m not worried about posting this here, because we already know that people have done this before and the thing still goes viral as a paranormal phenomenon (crop circles, Loch Ness monster, etc)…

Why (We) Believe Victims Don’t Lie (with Special Guest Iris Vander Pluym)

(Please note: the amazing, snarktastically awesome Iris Vander Pluym [read her blog here!] contributed to this little blog post of mine. Her part will be in the color of royal purple [because that is the color of royalty and, apparently, sarcasm, so…].)

Also content warning for discussion of rape culture and victim-blaming. Same content warnings, as well as trigger warnings for direct discussion of rape, apply to all links here, as well.)

Very recently, I put up a post declaring my support for Amber Heard. You can read the post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you should. One of the things I said was this:

I am on record as saying that I will always believe and stand with the victim until evidence comes out that they’re lying, because them actually lying is so incredibly rare that there’s no reason to entertain it; in our culture of victim-blaming, I do not believe that most people would think lying like this would be worth it.

In response I got a… fascinating comment, permanently languishing in moderation:

What make you think lying is rare among human beings in such situations as this?

Why didn’t you link to the police report?

Let’s start with that last one… Iris?

[Read more…]

On Baseball Bats, Heads, and Free Speech

(Content note: rape culture)

So, if you haven’t heard (though I can’t see how you haven’t), a very horrid preacher was shouting “you deserve to be raped” at a bunch of high school students. A 19-year-old woman walked up behind him and whacked him upside the head with an aluminum baseball bat.

This has raised an interesting conversation, as many (myself included) have utterly no sympathy for him, and have, in fact, made fun of him over it. In fact, I commented, and then posted on my Facebook, the following:

To be completely fair, I think we need to ask some important questions…

What was he doing there, at that time of day, just being all provocative, and not even with a chaperone? Things happen when you go out like that. I mean really… he shouldn’t have expected any less.

And what was he wearing, anyways? Did he have on a provocative shirt, showing off too much?

And before you say it, no I’m definitely *not* victim blaming. All I’m saying is that there are ways he could have minimized his risk, and really… shouldn’t he be held responsible at least for his own actions?

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Welp. Another Day, Another Hero is an Asshole. #IStandWithAmberHeard

(Content warning: domestic abuse)

Many of you probably know this already, but Amber Heard filed for a divorce from Johnny Depp back on May 21st. I’ve always been a fan of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard as actors, and have enjoyed most of their movies. I had heard about their marriage, and their recent divorce, but wasn’t aware of the details as I tend to not pay attention to celebrities outside of their art, unless that celebrity does something incredibly egregious…

Well…

Now I know the reason Amber Heard has filed for divorce. Alex Rudewell over at Skepchick posted a statement released by Amber Heard’s legal team. I’m going to post that statement here. Be aware that this statement contains discussion and descriptions of domestic abuse.

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This is Our Country Right Now

I just wanted to post this picture because I feel like it accurately sums up where the US is right now. I got it from the TWiBNation Facebook group (on a separate note; does anyone here listen to TWiBPrime? I highly recommend it.)

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Picture with two columns and three rows.

First row..
On Left – “Largest Nuclear Waste Storage Site in US is Leaking”
On Right – “Meh”

Second Row…
On Left – “Shell Dumps Nearly 90,000 Gallons of Crude into Gulf of Mexico”
On Right – “Meh”

Third Row…
On Left – “Target Lets Transgenders go Pee in Bathrooms”
On Right – *face red with rage*

ETA:
I just realized that “transgenders” is not the appropriate terminology? I’m really sorry for that. I didn’t catch it initially. I should have. I wish I knew who made this, now…

Alex Jones Would Have a Field Day With This

(Note: there are three Facebook videos here. I sincerely apologize if they auto-play. Hopefully they won’t, but if they do, let me know and I’ll replace the videos with links…)

So let me start out by reassuring everybody that I’m no conspiracy theorist.

I know that the Illuminati disappeared a couple centuries ago and that the New World Order was a heel wrestling outfit in the WCW in the 90’s led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. I also am no fan of Alex Jones, who I think is possibly dangerous and certainly peddles basically nothing but bullshit.

So no, I’m not about to crow about some one-world shadow government planning to enslave of us all to some hivemind or whatever.

That said, though… I’m not very comfortable with this:

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Raising the Skeptic Signal! What Do You Think of These Videos?

This Youtube video features what are supposed to be “real” videos of “actual” ghosts. I’m curious what you skeptics think. Fakes? Misinterpretations?

I feel like there’s always a natural explanation, and often it’s just that people are so easily taken in by practical jokes that they refuse to see it as a practical joke.

But anyways… what’s your opinion? Quick warning, though… I wouldn’t watch this at night. The music and background images used are a bit creepy, and if you’re easily creeped out, this will creep you out…

Also, sorry for the lack of a transcript. It’s kind of hard to transcribe this one, I think, though someone’s certainly welcome to try! And I apologize if the video autoplays. I have a Chrome extension that keeps videos from doing that, so I don’t know whether or not this will autoplay if you don’t have that extension…

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(In Memory of Prince) Great Guitar Solos – While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Live at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

(I don’t know if this signals a return of my Great Guitar Solos series or if it’s just a one-off; I haven’t decided, yet.)

So I have a confession to make: I don’t have Prince’s music in my collection. His music was never completely my jam.

I don’t hate his music.

On the contrary…

Prince, IMO, was a monster of guitar, a talent surpassed by very, very few, perhaps almost none, during his time. His ability to play the guitar was phenomenal to watch, and I loved watching him solo. His solos were incredible, up there with Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and David Gilmour, but with a technical know-how above all of them. Each time Prince laid down a solo, it was a master class in how to play the guitar as the leading instrument.

So yes, I respect, immensely, the talent that he wielded. But I was never a big fan of the 80s musically, and Prince was part of that. He was brilliant, however, and I would defend him as a master talent of guitar to anyone who would dare claim otherwise. Even someone who would assume that their musical opinions are objective facts would have to bow to Prince’s mastery of guitar.

And this performance I want to highlight here shows that off incredibly, in my opinion…

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