They had t-shirts made!

How odd. The cultists who believe the world will end today had bright yellow t-shirts and hats, and professionally printed signs, and have been waving them around to announce their imminent demise. That seems like strange behavior if you really believe the entire world will be annihilated. It’s almost as if they’re less interested in their assumed facts, and more interested in advertising their dogma.


Also, the person on the right seems lacking in confidence: The End of the World, question mark? If the world does actually end today, they’re going to be roasting in hell for their lack of faith, which means they lose whether the world ends or not.

The money is all green, anyway

This retracted article is proof that there is a diversity crisis in Silicon Valley.

Forbes has removed a contributor piece titled “There Is No Diversity Crisis in Silicon Valley” after being hit with a barrage of criticism from readers, including many leading the tech industry’s movement to hire more women, Hispanics and African-Americans. The article, authored by journalist Brian S. Hall, argued that the healthy revenue streams and stock prices of companies like Apple, Google and Facebook were proof that the tech industry is doing well and has no reason to go out of its way to include more women or underrepresented minorities.

There is no crisis at all in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is doing absolutely gangbusters! Hall wrote, according to a cached version of the post. This is not a crisis. Silicon Valley is swimming in money and in success.

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A useful paper for conversations with those obsessed with health trends

Last year, Nature Chemistry published an article by Alexander F. G. Goldberg and CJ Chemjobber titled “A comprehensive overview of chemical-free consumer products“. Everyone should read it. It’s a thorough description of all chemical-free products, and the paper itself is a free download. Here’s the introduction.

Manufacturers of consumer products, in particular edibles and cosmetics, have broadly employed the term ‘Chemical free’ in marketing campaigns and on product labels. Such characterization is often incorrectly used to imply — and interpreted to mean — that the product in question is healthy, derived from natural sources, or otherwise free from synthetic components. We have examined and subjected to rudimentary analysis an exhaustive number of such products, including but not limited to lotions and cosmetics, herbal supplements, household cleaners, food items, and beverages. Herein are described all those consumer products, to our knowledge, that are appropriately labelled as ‘Chemical free’.

It really is complete. But don’t worry, it won’t take you long to read it.

His underwear carried dark portents

I just liked that line, from this story about Jim Bakker claiming his choice of underwear color was a sign from his god. Wait, Jim Bakker is still alive, and still working as a televangelist? That’s more a portent than his underwear, I fear.

He was claiming that because his underwear was black, the world was going to end in September. It is now October, of course, so it’s obvious that his underwear is a false prophet, and must die.

There seems to be a lot of end-of-the-world nonsense going around. Last month’s eclipse was also supposed to be a portent of apocalypse. It fizzled. Now some guy is claiming the world is going to end tomorrow.

I’m not worried yet. I’ll tell you tomorrow what color underwear I’m wearing, and then maybe it will be time to panic.

Here we go again

Jaclyn Glenn has been caught plagiarizing Matt Dillahunty now.

I just don’t get it. Plagiarism eventually outs; if you’re using it to build content and get more popular, then the more popular you are, the more likely your sins will be discovered. It’s a strategy that lets you bull ahead fast…straight towards a brick wall.

It’s also unfortunate because, while I was never a fan, it’s one more example that will tar the reputation of atheism…and we’ve had more than enough of that.

Just doing my part

A clinic in Virginia took a pro-active stance against the anti-choicers preaching and sermonizing outside: they tried to drown them out with a recording over a loudspeaker. I don’t actually approve of that tactic — the first consideration ought to be welcoming patients, and compounding cacophony isn’t helpful. Interestingly, though, their choice of a recording was the audiobook of The Happy Atheist, as read by the resonant Aron Ra.

“We are apes and the descendants of apes,” the recording of Meyers’ book “The Happy Atheist” declared. “We’re the descendents of rat-like primates, who were the children of reptiles, who were the spawn of amphibians, who were the terrestrial progeny of fish, who came from worms, who were assembled from single-cell microorganisms, who were the products of chemistry.”

“Your daddy was a film of chemical slime on a Hadean rock and he didn’t care about you—he was only obeying the laws of thermodynamics,” it continued. “You aren’t here because of grand design, but because of chance, contingency and selection.”

Not only was Aron Ra given no credit, they also…misspelled my name. I guess I should learn to expect that. When I got married, I suggested that I adopt my wife’s name instead, but she squelched that. No one would ever misspell “Gjerness”, would they?

But actually, much as I appreciate the attention and the anger of Christians, don’t blare my words at women just looking for care. It’s not appropriate and is counterproductive.

Merely molecules in motion

I’ve been listening to the infuriating Frank Turek. He’s got one argument against materialism which he seems to be well known for: those damn atheists are saying you’re merely molecules in motion, and you know you’re not, so therefore atheism is false, to paraphrase. Here’s an example from Turek’s debate with Hitchens. It’s an awful argument.

Christopher’s a self-described materialist but if atheism is true we have no grounds to know it because reason and thoughts are just chemical reactions in the brain. How can you have—even Einstein believed this. Einstein was a determinist. How can you trust what Christopher says if it’s just chemical reactions going on in his brain and chemical reactions in our brain? See, chemical don’t reason, they react. Now, I’m not saying there’s no connection between our thinking and chemicals, there is, but if it’s nothing but chemicals, how can we trust them? Even Darwin recognized this, it’s called Darwin’s doubt. He said, “If we are just the product materially of primates, why should I even trust anything, much less my theory of natural selection?” The next major reason is the laws of mathematics. Science depends on the notion that the universe is rational and mathematical at all levels. But how does rationality and mathematics arise from randomness? How do they come from matter? Rationality and mathematics are the product of mind, not matter. So you’ve got reason and the laws of logic, the laws of mathematics, and, number seven (or, seven in my list here, three in the addition) human freedom and the ability to make choices. Christopher is somebody who is very concerned about human freedom as I am, but again, if we are just molecules in motion, how do we have human freedom? William Provine from Cornell, he’s a materialist, a Darwinist, he points out that we don’t have any human freedom if all we are is molecules in motion. Now, Christopher ought not scold anybody for being a snake-handling, Bible-thumping, funny mentalist preacher because according to his own world view, that person is that way because these are just chemicals going on in his brain. Neither could you say that Hitler had done anything wrong if it’s just chemicals going on in his brain. I mean, what is the murder molecule? How much does justice weigh? These are questions that have no answer in a materialistic world view, but that is Christopher’s world view. It seems to me that it makes much more sense to say that reason and laws of logic and mathematics and human freedom come from a great mind that granted us these immaterial realities. The final argument is consciousness. Do you know that a heap of sand and a human brain have the same elements? Why are some carbon-based molecules conscious and some are not? Materialists have no answer for this. Daniel Dennett, another person who would agree with Christopher on many things, he’s a materialist, says that consciousness is an illusion because he’s a materialist. You’re not really witnessing this right now, it’s just an illusion. Now one wonders if he was conscious when he wrote this. But again, there is no explanation for this in an atheistic world view.

He has it all wrong.

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