Holy crap, turn off your irony meters before you read this one!

Jesus, no. They can’t do this to me. Can a creationist say something so ironic, so oblivious, so un-selfaware, so stupid that my head might explode? Danny Faulkner comes very close. He’s a young earth creationist associated with Answers in Genesis, he was ponderously featured in Eric Hovind’s creation movie, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy.

He thinks the Earth is less than ten thousand years old, and that the Big Bang is bunk, but he is also confident that the Earth is a sphere, and he patiently explains how flat-earth dogma is wrong. He is very concerned about the flat-earth movement, and tries to explain why they are wrong.

Flat-earthers raise an excellent epistemological question: how do we know what shape is the earth? For three decades, I asked this very question of students in the first semester of my introductory astronomy class. The context of this question was the early history of astronomy. I would ask my students what shape they thought the earth had. All my students would answer that the earth was a sphere. I retired from the university more than six years ago, just about the time the modern flat-earth movement was starting, so I expect that if I were teaching classes now, I frequently would encounter students who think that the earth is flat. When I asked my students how they knew the earth was a globe, not one student could give me a good reason.

Aww, the ignorance of students concerns him. Me, too. I’m not retired, I still engage with students, and I can say that I’ve never met one who thinks the Earth is flat, but I’ve met more than a few who think the Earth is young. I was not prepared for the degree of irony to come, though.

…few students ever develop proper critical thinking skills. When someone comes along with a few arguments for the earth being flat, most people have absolutely no knowledge or resources to counter them. Flat-earthers, for example, typically testify that when they first heard about the earth being flat, they thought it was the dumbest thing that they ever heard. The soon-to-be converts thought that they easily could disprove that the earth was flat, but they quickly realized that they couldn’t. Perhaps out of frustration, they finally concluded that the earth must be flat. It never occurred to them that perhaps their education had failed them in not better preparing them for refuting the notion that the earth is flat.

Just as an exercise, reread that paragraph, but change the word “flat” to “young”. It stops being a description of students, and instead is an indictment of…Danny Faulkner.

Keep going. Keep changing “flat” to “young”. It’s amazing.

There is an important difference between gossip and flat-earth cosmology. Mere gossip rarely is life-changing (except perhaps for the poor victim of gossip). But if one becomes convinced that the earth is flat rather than being spherical, that is a major change in one’s worldview. If the earth truly is flat, then we have been lied to about the earth’s shape our entire lives. One must ask how and why this lie was created and perpetuated. Ultimately, this line of thinking leads to the conclusion that there must be a vast conspiracy about the earth’s shape that has been going on for a long time (since the time of Columbus in most flat-earthers’ estimation, since they generally subscribe to the Columbus mythology). And coming to believe that a vast conspiracy is responsible is a relatively small step for most flat-earthers, because, by definition, a conspiracy is a secret knowledge, and the allure of secret knowledge generally was a major factor that led them into flat-earth belief in the first place. The thirst for secret knowledge is why so many people find belief in all sorts of conspiracies so appealing.

We’re not done yet. Let us look at the Bible through this lens.

In their new-found fervor, flat-earthers often become very bold. Flat-earth Christians think they have found cosmological truth in the Bible, and they aren’t about to let anyone dissuade them from this belief. It doesn’t matter that until very recently virtually no one within the church saw the Bible as teaching that the earth is flat.

Has Danny Faulkner read Danny Faulkner’s testimony?

I had never given much thought about what I would do with my life, though I had always loved astronomy. Almost immediately after my rededication, I came to realize three things: that one could make a living doing astronomy, that I had the ability to do that, and that I believed God had called me to do this. About this time I read The Bible and Modern Science, by Henry M Morris. This was the first book of his that I read, and I’d eventually read many more. A year or two earlier I had read two books that taught day-age and probably even theistic evolution. I realized that what these books espoused was a bit different from what I had understood the Bible to mean, but I respected these men and thought that they probably were right. But I quickly saw that what Henry Morris wrote made much more sense biblically, so I immediately became a recent creationist.

Four decades ago, I learned a valuable lesson from a Bible professor from whom I took two semesters of Pauline epistles. He said that if you see something in a passage that no one else has seen before, there’s probably a very good reason: it isn’t there.

Until very recently, no one within the church saw the Bible as teaching that the Earth is 6000 years old. The day-age explanation he mentions, as well as the gap theory, were more common among educated theologians a hundred years ago, and in fact protestant churches were interested in reconciling the Bible with the science of geology. The Catholic church even today is just fine with the Earth being ancient. There was a trickle of a strain of belief over the last few hundred years (thanks, Archbishop Ussher), but no one saw the Bible as explicitly setting a date for geological events.

That is, until Whitcomb and Morris stole some prophecy from the Seventh Day Adventists and published The Genesis Flood in 1961, claiming to see something in the Bible that no one else had seen before.

Faulkner just charges on, completely unaware that he’s talking to a mirror.

Some flat-earthers also fashion themselves to be experts on science and the methodology of science. Consequently, they think of themselves as competent to dictate to scientists, both godly and ungodly, on how science ought to be conducted. But their definitions and practice of science appear to be formulated to make science as generally understood impossible.

Where do these flat-earthers get the notion that they are capable of rewriting so many disciplines of study? This is particularly galling when one considers the limited science education that most flat-earthers seem to have achieved.

OMG. I am so done here. I refuse to explode, though, because this is the only fate appropriate to Mr Faulkner.

You aren’t owed admission to Harvard, Kyle

Harvard has rescinded an offer of admission to Kyle Kashuv, Parkland shooting survivor, pro-gun advocate, former member of Turning Point USA, and young rising star of dumbass conservatism, because of stupid things he wrote on a message board. He’s now complaining that he should not be judged on the basis of crap he wrote when he was 16 or 17.

That ridiculous defense has now reached peak absurdity. The whole college admissions process is about evaluating your prospects on the basis of what you did in high school! What’s the acceptable window here? Can I say you can’t criticize me for something I wrote yesterday, because I’m a new me today?

The late teens is a period of rapid changes, and we see lots of increases in maturity in college age students. It’s possible he has acquired wisdom in the last few years, but he has to show it, not just say it, and his affiliation with TPUSA is not a good sign that he has become a better adult. Also, the messages go a long way to reveal the content of his character, and it’s not good.

Wow. There’s some remarkable code-switching going on here, because, setting aside the ugly content, that’s not college-eligible writing. That’s simply vomiting up toxins from the id.

Oh, well. He has defenders. The “Intellectual” Dork Web is out in force, deploring the no-platforming of another asshole. Ben Shapiro is whining something fierce, and this guy is, of course, supporting the racist twink.

Lo, the Skeptical Movement.

You have to decide which part of the club charter matters most

Remember when Francis Collins published a book containing his goofy, ridiculous testimonial about how he became a Christian because he was out hiking and saw a waterfall in three parts, demonstrating the Trinity? Oh man, that was stupid. Then he became director of the NIH.

Remember when Francis Collins announced that equality in science was so important that he was refusing to speak on non-inclusive science panels?

“It is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as ‘manels,’” Dr. Francis Collins wrote in an online statement this week. “Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences.”

“When I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities,” he continued. “If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part.”

Good for him. That’s the right decision.

Hey. Hey…remember when swarms of popular atheists proudly declared that god is a fiction, and that feminism is a cancer and women can’t be funny and atheism doesn’t have the estrogen vibe that would encourage women to disbelieve in gods? Remember that?

Fucking hell. You get to choose between the club that still does silly prayers and wacky rituals, but thinks women are people, or you can choose the club that supports the obvious conclusion that gods don’t exist and girls and brown people are inferior. I hate choices like that, but I guess they aren’t choices at all — I’m part of the former, at least until atheism wises up.

I think it’ll be a long time before that happens. People are sneering at Collins not for his religious beliefs, but for his ideas about human equality — people like Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist and atheist.

What an ugly clubhouse…

Read your Bible, Ken

Here’s a beautiful fossil from the Green River beds, a whole school of fish fossilized in formation.

The article mentions that scientists are uncertain how the animals were locked down in sediments quickly enough to preserve their relative position…or even if this is behavior frozen in time, but maybe an alignment generated by whatever process imbedded them in sediments. It’s something scientists do all the time, admitting that they don’t know something.

Ah, but here comes Ken Ham, professional fool with a sense of absolute certainty. He knows the answer!

A recent article reported on the attempt by several experts to discover how this fossil, found in the Green River Formation, was formed (and I encourage you to go to the article and see the photo—it’s a truly incredible fossil!). One expert, who has studied other fossils from the Green River Formation, said that the school of fish probably died together because of a volcanic eruption, a mass of oxygen-poor water, or a temperature shift, and then all the fish fell to the bottom of the lake and were aligned by the current and then fossilized. But mathematical models appear to rule out this explanation. Others have suggested maybe a collapsed sand dune buried them, but they admitted “they don’t have a great explanation.”

But I do! Since I start with the history in God’s Word, I have the proper lens with which to view the world. This school of fish was catastrophically buried by water-borne sediments during the immediate aftermath of the global flood of Noah’s day. It’s no great mystery!

You can almost hear him giggling at the thought that he is so much smarter than those stupid scientists.

Only one problem: this stupid scientist has read his Bible, specifically, Genesis 7:11-12. His answer doesn’t work.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

“Catastrophic” is a somewhat ambiguous word. To trap a school of fish in situ would require an event that locked them in place in a fraction of a second. The Biblical account of the catastrophe does not propose that everything was killed and flash-frozen in a picosecond, or a millisecond, or a tenth of a second, but an ongoing disaster that dragged on for a global flood taking forty days and forty nights and leaving everything under water for a year. In Answers in Genesis’ own Creation “Museum”, they have a video recreation showing a gigantic wall of water, a tsunami rising up hundreds of feet, sweeping in and destroying a village (and killing all the happy innocent children playing in it, by the way).

A tsunami would not leave a school of fish unjumbled, just as it would not leave the corpse of a child unbattered.

I am sorry, Mr Ham, but your flood, if we postulate that it even happened, was a prolonged, violent event of unimaginable magnitude. Your own site describes it as a year-long global catastrophe that destroyed the pre-Flood world, reshaped the continents, buried billions of creatures, and laid down the rock layers. Yet when it’s convenient, you now claim that it was a delicate, swift event that froze animals in motion. It reshapes continents, but it leaves a few fish unperturbed.

I think you need to go back and read your Bible. The Book of Genesis is short, the flood is described in only a few vague pages, I’m sure that if you concentrate real hard, you can get through it all. There aren’t even any long words!

Now I know for sure that Jordan Peterson is delusional

Jordan Peterson has a brilliant idea. Not this one…

He’s pushing a new forum idea, only it’s not so new.

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian academic whom I think I could absolutely describe as a “Dingus Supreme,” has a new idea for an online platform. This is very important to Peterson because he and his largely alt-right fan base need a safe space online to share controversial opinions and practice free thought. So Peterson is launching Thinkspot, self-described as “a collaborative community where individuals can explore and exchange ideas in a thoughtful and respectful manner. The platform is an intellectual playground for censorship-free discourse.” It will also shadowban users.

The grand idea of Thinkspot, as far as I can tell, is that it’s a place for people who know how to be racist and sexist in a more dog-whistle-y way, not in the more direct way you might see on Twitter — or on Gab, the platform for people who are somehow too racist for Twitter.

I have so many questions! Here’s one. How will he coax “thoughtful and respectful” ideas from his existing fanbase of alt-right fanboys?

On his podcast this week, speaking with guest Joe Rogan, Peterson outlined how he planned to keep Thinkspot from spiraling out of control: a minimum word count. “If minimum comment length is 50 words, you’re gonna have to put a little thought into it,” Peterson said, as recapped by the right-wing site NewsBusters. “Even if you’re being a troll, you’ll be a quasi-witty troll.” I’m maybe a little more skeptical that Peterson and Rogan’s crowd — the one that spends hours at a time watching men yell into a microphone on YouTube — will have trouble coming up with 50 words to fill space.

Um, the cliche is “brevity is the soul of wit”. Long-windedness won’t help, although I am not surprised that Peterson thinks rambling on and on is the same as erudition. Also, you know that the regulars will evolve ways of turning empty noise into repetitive phrases to lengthen their comments to the appropriate length. This place is going to be the domain of droning bores practicing their mansplaining.

Here’s another scheme he has “invented”.

Even weirder was Peterson’s reveal that the site will hide downvoted comments. “If your ratio of upvotes to downvotes falls below 50-50, then your comments will be hidden. People will still be able to see them if they click, but you’ll disappear,” he said. What Peterson described is a completely valid form of site moderation. The tactic is also what conservatives have often misconstrued as “shadowbanning.”

You mean like Reddit and Disqus? All this is going to do is reinforce the majority view. Actual dissenting voices will be swiftly downvoted into oblivion. It sounds like a formula for building the most sanctimonious and stupefyingly maundering heap of trollery ever. It’s going to be a goldmine for ridicule.

I have another question.

Who pays for it? Who profits from it?

Those questions remain unanswered.

Joe Biden, making promises he won’t keep

Do we really want a delusional old liar in the presidency again? Joe Biden is making ridiculous claims.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Tuesday he discussed losing loved ones before making his promise.

“A lot of you understand what loss is and when loss occurs, you know that people come up to you and tell you ‘I understand’ if you lose a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a family member,” he said. “That’s why I’ve worked so hard in my career to make sure that — I promise you if I’m elected president, you’re going to see the single most important thing that changes America, we’re gonna cure cancer.”

No, we’re not.

I understand that cancer is an important personal issue to him, and I would approve of a candidate promising to invest more in biomedical research. If he had actually listened to doctors, if he had any understanding of cancer at all, he’d know that cancer isn’t one disease, it’s a moving target with a billion alternative strategies for evading treatment, and that by its very nature isn’t going to be susceptible to a magic bullet approach. It requires incremental improvements in management and treatment and diagnosis, and even then, sometimes the best doctors can offer is going to fail. He is promising snake oil. He isn’t paying attention to the advisors he ought to be listening to. He sure as hell isn’t personally going to deliver on that promise.

He might as well stand up on that podium and promise that he’s going to cure all viral diseases, eradicate all bacteria, end global climate change, end world hunger, emerge victorious from all wars, and colonize Mars, all between the years 2020 and 2028. No, he’s not. He looks stupid and glib and shallow doing it, too.

I wasn’t going to vote for him in the primaries anyway, but he’s doing his damnedest to make it difficult to vote for him if he wins the Democratic nomination. Which I earnestly hope he doesn’t.

Free speech is in danger, call out the military

Mike Adams, the so-called Health Ranger of Natural News, a cranky wooey conspiracy theory site, has finally been banned by Facebook, after earlier being kicked off Twitter and YouTube. He is so pissed off at his profit stream being pinched that he has called on Trump to invade and take over social media.

Adams, who claims to be a “food scientist,” also published a nearly hour-long rant on the video platform Brighteon complaining about the Facebook suspension and saying that President Donald Trump should use “the military, if necessary, to occupy and dismantle the tech giants.”

“The tech giants are the modern fascists. They are more dangerous than Adolf Hitler in terms of their long term threat to humanity. How many humans will be subjected to genocide? How many humans will be murdered by abortion policies?” Adams asked. “How many children will be killed by vaccines? How many people will be harmed by 5G cell networks or geoengineering of the atmosphere?”

I’m kind of sympathetic to the idea of the big tech companies getting taken down a notch, but not because of the imaginary threat of vaccines or cellular networks or chemtrails or chemotherapy — but because they’ve evolved monopoly power. It’s kind of missing the point of free speech when you call out the army to take over control of media.

But then Mike Adams has always be a gibbering nutcase.

Meet the Schlafly Family

Goddamn Monday morning. What’s the first thing that pops up when I open the computer? John Oliver, which is not a problem, but he had to remind me about Phyllis Schlafly. She was a horrible person. She was on TV all the time in the 1970s, spewing her horrible views and motivating a horrible mob with horrible lies. A few of them are mentioned here.

Not mentioned, though, are her horrible sons. There’s Roger Schlafly, Trumpkin, racist, white nationalist, sexist, hater of Einstein. Worse still, Andrew Schlafly, creationist, founder of Conservapædia, the guy who is rewriting the Bible to bring it more in line with conservative views, pathological pedant (he really hates it when you use ligatures in the name of his site), general conservative caveman. Although he’s easy to overlook because he’s hidden from the media for almost 30 years, there’s also John Schlafly, who was exposed as gay, yet still ferociously defended his mother’s fanaticism.

The whole family is fucked up. I don’t understand why, because while they were all home-schooled, which you’d think would have expanded their mother’s malignant influence, but Phyllis seemed to spend an awful lot of time away from the family, screeching about liberals, which ought to have diminished her taint, but seems instead to have potentiated it.

Anyway, I didn’t need that reminder to get my day started, so I’ve inflicted her on you out of spite.

The story that atheism will never live down

In 2011, a trivial incident got blown up into a major cause célèbre by the regressive clique in the growing atheist movement, which unfortunately included people as prominent as Richard Dawkins. It was, of course, that moment when a woman casually suggested that “guys, don’t do that” when recounting a brief encounter with a guy who didn’t understand simple boundaries. Rebecca Watson recently revisited the incident.

This issue is obviously near and dear to me, because I went through hell on earth for mentioning that I was often sexually harassed by skeptics and atheists and because I gave one example I thought was very obvious of a strange dude asking me to his hotel room at 4am after I’d spent an entire day talking about the problem of sexual harassment. What’s nuts is that the harassment campaign I withstood wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s been EIGHT YEARS, and yet I still have an army of men who follow my every move and spread misinformation about me wherever they can. As an example, last week I noticed traffic from Reddit going to one of my videos, so I checked out the thread. Sure enough, there are a few dudes in there just posting nonstop lies: one says I had spoken to the guy in the elevator previously (I hadn’t), that I claimed it was predatory rather than an awkward incident of him not knowing what the right time to ask was (in fact I made it clear in the video that the whole reason I was talking about that incident was because I think a lot of guys are just not thinking when they do these stupid things), and another guy actually hilariously claims that he knows I made the entire story up (why would I do that) because I was “presented with pictures of the people in the skeptic clique in the bar before the imagined elevator incident” and I “couldn’t point the guy out.” Was there a fucking police interrogation? Did someone show up to a line-up claiming to be me? Like, that never happened. Someone literally just made that up, probably said it in a YouTube video and now EIGHT YEARS LATER dudes are shouting about it on Reddit because someone else posted a video of me explaining the origins of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” values.

Eight years have passed and I still don’t get to have a normal career online. I don’t get to just talk about science and critical thinking, because there will always be men lying about me in the comments. Always. I will never be able to get a mainstream job like I used to have, writing copy or whatever for a company, because everywhere they look there will be men lying about me. Why? Because I tried to stop men from sexually harassing women in the skeptic and atheist communities, and because I tried to help men get better at interacting with women they’d like to fuck.

There exists a successful mob of skeptic/atheist yahoos who are currently very popular on YouTube who have thrived on invented mythologies about women and feminists and SJWs. They rely on making up lies when the facts are not juicy enough: I’ve seen people claim with pathological certainty that I was the guy in the elevator, in order to get a double-whammy against two people they detest at once.

It’s so ironic that a community of atheists has decided that the truth is irrelevant.

Rebecca has my sympathies. A woman in this shitstorm of an atheist faction is far more vulnerable and far more targeted by the anti-feminist goblins than any man, and this is a case where it has clearly had a deleterious effect on her daily life. Then people like Sam Harris and Michael Shermer wonder why there are many more men than women in atheism, and make up more bullshit about intrinsic biological differences, rather than pinning the blame where it belongs: the stunted socialization of man-children.