So, you don’t understand trolling?

shrugpony___derpy_hooves___by_moongazeponies-d3cvjx6This is related to this post about the current Twitter-explosion, but this follow up post seemed more suited to the atheism/skepticism blog. There is a hell of a lot of bullshit going around and I’m going to put things a little less delicately than I would in that blog. Maybe being a bit more emotive will get through to some people.

What is trolling?

The older definition of trolling is found in the previous article. The term is in a state of flux though and Wikipedia has what is probably a more modern and current definition.

 

 

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

 

 

Of these, the most typical these days is that of someone posting something ghastly in order to try and get an emotional reaction. This might typically include posting horrible things on memorial facebook pages, filling forums with porn images, or making horrifically prejudiced sounding statements based on race, gender, sexual preference.

What isn’t trolling?

There’s a lot of things that get called trolling, that aren’t. Calling something ‘trolling’ (or abusive) is a great excuse for ignoring it, but it isn’t necessarily true.

  • Genuine threats are not trolling.
  • Disagreeing with you isn’t trolling.
  • Insulting you isn’t trolling.
  • Criticism isn’t trolling.

Is trolling misogynistic?

Is shooting people in Halo murder?

No, obviously not.

Trolling is a ‘game’. A horrible game that is played by preying on people’s emotions but it is a game. You win the game by getting the biggest and most outrageous reaction to what you say. This means you tailor your trolling comments to your target. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily hold those beliefs.

If you’ve ever played Cards Against Humanity you may an easier time locking on to this idea.

Women, feminists in particular, are a favourite target of trolls because they can be almost guaranteed to deliver a huge, ‘game winning’ number of points in terms of the volume, length and emotional content of their outrage. The reaction is what the troll is after, if they’re using misogynistic terminology it’s only because it’s a winning move. Like equipping the BFG in a game of DOOM.

Is trolling OK?

No. It’s dickish and it upsets people. So it’s not OK, but it’s also not the end of the world and much as people like to claim it’s evidence for sexism, racism or whatever it isn’t. If anything, that these get such a powerful outrage reaction only goes to show how far we’ve progressed on these issues.

Why should we put up with trolling?

Don’t.

Block the person trolling you, ignore them, go on about your life. You already have the tools to do so (though some could be improved, such as an ‘invisible block’.

We should only ‘put up with it’ in that we shouldn’t allow our emotional reactions to trolling to guide our public or private policies.

Much like DRM and other measures designed to stop various electronic behaviours, attempts to control or stop trolls are unlikely to stop the trolls and very likely to cause issues for legitimate users. Tools supposedly to deal with trolls will cause far more problems for regular users and are likely to be abused themselves.

What about abuse and threats?

Genuine, kosher abuse and threats are not the same thing as trolling. Conflating the two is ‘crying wolf’. Ironically, many of the people complaining and calling trolling abuse are indulging in abuse themselves. If a threat is genuine and believable recourse already exists – go to the police. It seems like it might not be a bad idea to also charge people for wasting police time on spurious threats though.

What’s the difference between trolling and abuse?

  • A troll is seeking to elicit a reaction. They almost certainly do not believe the horrible things they say, they’re just doing it to get that reaction.
  • An abuser genuinely believes what they’re saying and isn’t just trying to get a reaction.

This is a troll being horrible to elicit a reaction:

photo_7

This is someone being abusive (and far from the only one amongst those claiming to be against abuse):

Screenshot from 2013-07-29 18:26:56

How can we deal with trolling?

The absolute best way we have to deal with it is to ignore it. To pay it absolutely no attention.

It is an elementary mistake to pay attention to trolls, to play up to what they say and do. It is a huge mistake to start some kind of public campaign and to make a Cameronesque move to try and turn outrage and ‘something must be done!’ panic into an ill-thought out public campaign which will only attract more trolls, the likes of Anonymous (as you begin to threaten internet freedom), and genuine creeps.

Quietly ban, block and move on.

Nothing else works, at least not without some really serious collateral damage. There are a few improvements to tools that can be made without opening them up to abuse but they need time, space and distance to be properly assessed.

People with various causes also really need to stop taking troll comments as evidence that the problems they’re fighting are particularly bad. Trolls only go after what elicits a reaction.

An amount of spurious abuse is the price we pay for some important and vital internet freedoms and a degree of anonymity.

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Quotemining Morality

BP8OSmtCEAASdpqI’ve noticed a spate of attempts to smear atheism in the form of quote-mines from Dawkins, Krauss and Singer lately.

This usually takes the form of ‘X is excusing Y!’

EG: ‘Dawkins says rape is morally arbitrary!’, ‘Krauss doesn’t see anything wrong with incest!’, and ‘Singer advocates bestiality!’.

Obviously these are out of context and don’t take the conversation into account but that’s not the only interesting thing about this.

1. This argument most often comes from Muslims. Probably because atheists give them an absolute kicking over Aisha. The irony here is that they tie themselves in knots trying to excuse child-fucking by Mohammed and in various Islamic nations, thereby making their own argument that morality is subjective rather than objective and divine.

2. No reason is given as to WHY we should be shocked or outraged at these statements. It is simply assumed that we must – unthinkingly – be disgusted by the very idea that rape, incest or bestiality might be morally grey in any way shape or form. This is probably true, most people will likely react that way but the people being quoted are people who are used to thinking rationally, assessing things, going over old ground looking for flaws. Singer in particular is very adept at stripping things back and examining them fresh without the inculcated blinkers we gain as we grow up. All three instances are cases of people looking at these moral issues through a lens of rationalism.

3. All of these morally difficult actions are excused by one religion or another, but not on a rational basis.

When Dawkins describes our moral objection to rape as arbitrary it is within the context of a discussion on other traits and adaptations. Evolution shapes behaviour as well as form. While there may be sound evolutionary reasons for us to have X number of fingers or Y number of eyes it seems likely that there are sound evolutionary reasons for some broad human values and behaviours. As a social species disruptive and violent behaviour can harm the group and is likely to be socially enforced against – for example. Forcible rape is the primary mode of reproduction in many species, so in other species it may be a sound mating strategy and if we had evolved differently we might have a different moral outlook on it.

Regardless, we have the subjective morality that we do have along with consciousness and awareness of the existence of others. Whatever the origin of our rape taboo we have it and there are recognisible social, psychological and other costs involved.

When Krauss talks about incest he is experimentally wondering WHY we consider it wrong. The incest taboo appears to come, somewhat, from the worry about inbreeding but incest between cousins and constant familial intermarriage is present throughout history so that can’t be the whole story. Animals breed amongst their close relatives with little – immediate – genetic concern. In a world of abortion and contraception is that reproductive inbreeding issue still truly relevant? We feel disgust even thinking about or talking about this but WHY do we feel disgust and should we let emotion get in the way of rationally thinking about this, whatever we decide?

Singer’s comment was a comment in a review on a book that asked that sort of question. There’s several arguments against bestiality including disease and whether an animal can give meaningful consent. Medical and consent reasons also lie behind our taboos against underage sex or statutory rape. Singer’s argument is simply a question. If the animal has agency, choice, effective consent and the person consents and both derive pleasure from it (or at least no harm) what is the rational reason to reject it, to make it taboo, to react as we do?

‘Hey. Why do we feel the way we do about these things and is it justified that feel that way?’ is a valid and important question to ask, about everything.

Skeptical About Misogyny

2010-02-28-sexist-pig

Context is everything.

This Slate article from last year by Rebecca Watson is doing the rounds again and is being treated as gospel by some people. The issues and problems raised in and by the article are relevant to various things going on at the moment in various spheres I’m involved in. Some of the tactics are reminiscent of the rhetoric around the government porn ban, similar groups of radical feminists and other disruptive influences are trying to use the same sort of arguments and tactics in nerd/geek/gaming culture and this is worrisome.

I’ve been horribly mean about Watson in the past, not because she’s a woman but because she seems to me to be a dishonest opportunist. Still, I’ll try and keep this relatively level-headed and civil to make the necessary points.

So using quotes from the article as prompts…

When I first started finding a large audience on my skepticism website, on my podcast, and on YouTube, I wasn’t terribly bothered by the occasional rape threat, sexist slur, or insult about my looks. There was something downright amusing about a creationist calling me a cunt while praying that I’d find the love of Jesus. The threats were coming from outside of my community. Outside of my safe space.

At this point in Watson’s career she was properly focussed on skepticism and atheism. These were the things she presented and these were the things that were attacked. Some of it by trolls, some of it by people who genuinely opposed her – probably from the religious and woo communities. We all get this, we skeptics, the death threats, the sexual threats, the rape threats. We get told we’re going to burn in hell forever, or that people will beat us up. Muslims threaten to behead us. It’s not like this is limited to skeptics either. Post an opinion, any opinion, on a political forum and see the abuse you get. Identify yourself as gay, bisexual, transexual, black, Asian, whatever and someone is going to use that to try and attack you. Basically, the rule is, if you say something somewhere on the internet someone is going to take loud and obnoxious issue with it. Show a weakness, someone is going to troll you.

It wasn’t until I started talking about feminism to skeptics that I realized I didn’t have a safe space.

Why would a safe space to be a skeptic and atheist necessarily be a safe space to talk about feminism? Why would someone like Watson think that skepticism wouldn’t also be extended to her ideological beliefs about gender? I wouldn’t expect a knitting circle to necessarily share my views about free expression when it comes to pornography so why would someone expect a skeptic space to be automatically welcoming and accepting to feminism? Why would Watson think that her ideological faith wouldn’t be examined by skeptics in the same way that religion, political extremism or homeopathy is?

I felt we were doing important work: making a better, more rational world and protecting people from being taken advantage of. At conventions, skeptic speakers and the audience were mostly male, but I figured that was something we could balance out with a bit of hard work and good PR.

There’s a whole bunch of factors as to why there’s a fairly big gender gap but this is at a societal level more than at a conference or group level. Still, despite that The Amazing Meeting had gotten up to a creditable 40% female attendance rate off their own backs. The first sentence is a little ironic, since that is how many of Watson’s dissenters feel about her and those like her, like Atheism+ etc. We feel we’re trying to make a better, more rational world and protect people from being exploited – by the ideas Watson et al are promoting and the scaremongering they’re engaged in. The irony is that Watson et al screwed up what had been vast improvements in gender parity, 180 degrees from what she claimed to want.

Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. 

As a skeptic, she should know that claims are not evidence. There’s no reporting of these alleged incidents, no evidence, so how can we accept them as true? If it was so bad why haven’t there been any significant reports of such since and why was there only one at one TAM and none at the following two TAMs? (Or since, IIRC). How would this compare with the general community outside conferences?

Why would you expect anyone, let alone skeptics, to take action on nothing but hearsay and rumour?

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.

Individuals are not the community, Youtube is a trolltastic pit of scum and these claims are also not substantiated. We’re supposed to simply nod our heads and agree and if you don’t, apparently you’re excusing and encouraging abuse. ‘With us or against us’ (false dilemma).

Thinking the solution was to educate the community, I started giving talks about the areas where feminism and skepticism overlap. I encouraged audiences to get involved with issues like ending FGM, fighting the anti-woman pseudoscience of the religious right, and aiding those branded as “witches” in rural African villages.

And these are, indeed, areas of overlap and things that skeptics rightly oppose but the issue for skeptics is not that these are anti-woman, but that they are bullshit. That it’s anti-woman bullshit is just a nice bonus reason to fight it. However, that doesn’t mean feminism is free of bullshit or immune to skepticism just because it shares some goals and causes.

As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?” I politely declined and got off the elevator when it hit my floor.

Oh noes.

Unsurprisingly, this met with a collective eyeroll by the majority of the atheist community as being utterly inconsequential. No-one is disputing that it may have made Watson feel uncomfortable, rather they are disputing that it was anything even approaching an actual problem. The collective response was largely ‘so what?’ and thus the ‘wars’ started. Watson etc got more entrenched and ended up showing what has been seen as their ‘true colours’ in wanting to clamp down on social interactions, ‘sanitise’ debates, not be questioned, not be asked for evidence and it all seemed rather too familiar to people who are used to arguing with the religious faithful.

It began to look very much like dogma, irrationality and faith.

Question it? You’re a misogynist. Dawkins weighed in and while I don’t agree that X being worse than Y makes Y acceptable, when Y is nothing at all the man has a point. The response? Racism ‘What do you know, you’re white?’ Sexism ‘What do you know, you’re male?’ Ageism ‘What do you know, you’re old?’ slurs, hatred and the kind of thing Watson herself has described as being terrible when it happens to her and par for the course from the faithful.

It exposed a certain wing of skepticism that was not at all skeptical towards radical feminist beliefs and had no problem being prejudiced towards the rest of ‘their’ community. Understandably, this pissed a lot of people off and the well publicised drama drew trolls like flies to a particularly delicious cowpat.

Dawkins’ seal of approval only encouraged the haters. My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.

Why is Watson presuming this is ‘her community’ rather than ‘sick individuals’ or trolls? She made herself a target, identified the things that would wind her up and the trolls struck. Having been attacked by trolls before she should know better. I’ve seen many of the anonymous threats etc myself, I was active at the time. They’re so obviously trolling (at least the vast majority of them) I can’t see how anyone would think otherwise. The more articulate objections have been ignored or had mud flung at them, rather than being engaged with, which also fuelled frustration. When a demand for evidence is treated as a personal attack by someone claiming to be a skeptic, something has gone very wrong.

121018_DX_Tweet.jpg.CROP.original-original

 

Whatever you think about this Tweet, it’s fairly obviously a joke (albeit in poor taste) but then the skeptic/atheist community often uses mocking, jokes and disrespect as a tool in debate and argumentation. Watson’s position equating being asked for coffee to harassment or abuse was ripe for satire, not all of it well executed.

Given that Watson’s reaction to the ‘Elevator incident’ had been so utterly disproportionate to what actually happened, maybe what followed was predictable.

The organizers of the conference, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)—the organization started by the person who first introduced me to skepticism—allowed the man to attend the conference and did nothing to reassure me. I attended anyway and never went anywhere alone. This past year I finally stopped attending TAM when the organizers blamed me and other harassed women in our community for driving women away by talking about our harassment.

To a (bad) jokey tweet that’s another overreaction and, given Watson’s history with the elevator, a certain amount of ‘She’s crying wolf’ seems perfectly understandable. Why would they bar someone over a bad joke? Since there were already mechanisms in place to deal with problems at the meeting why would they feel a need to reinforce or change them (especially since there hadn’t been any harassment reports)? Other than economic issues the only identifiable reason there might be less women from one conference to the next is the scaremongering Watson et al have engaged in. This annoyed and angered organisers because it worked against all they had been managing to do to bring more women to conference, something sabotaged – ironically – by ‘feminists’.

Other skeptical organizations have been more compassionate. Center for Inquiry (the umbrella organization for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), American Atheists, and several humanist organizations have enacted anti-harassment policies for their conferences. But still, there are leaders in the skepticism community who refuse to accept that there is a problem, and those who play the “both sides are wrong” game, insinuating that “misogynist” is just as bad an insult as “cunt.”

I’d argue it’s worse. Admittedly I’m British and we use fucking swearing like fucking punctuation but still. One is simply an obscenity, the other is a direct attack on someone’s conduct, being and character. An unfounded accusation of misogyny (and frankly, that word gets tossed around far too liberally) is far worse than calling someone a cock or a cunt.

Anti-harassment policies are a problem because:
a) They’re unnecessary – the law of the land and a conference’s reserved right to toss people out for any reason already cover the issue.
b) They’re overreaching – anti-harassment policies have become trojan censorship policies, they’re trying to police normal, healthy, of age human behaviour and they’re trying to be extended beyond the reach of the conference itself.
c) They’re ripe for abuse, especially in the context of RadFem ideas about burden of proof and presumption of guilt.

Thunderf00t on Youtube tackles some of these issues head on.

Of course, being against these unnecessary and potentially dangerous harassment policies has been mischaracterised as being pro-harassment, something that’s now happening in tech and geek communities. One can be both against genuine acts of harassment, and against dangerously overreaching harassment policies at the same time.

Meanwhile, other skeptical women are being bullied out of the spotlight and even out of their homes. My fellow writer on Skepchick, Amy Davis Roth, moved after her home address was posted on a forum dedicated to hating feminist skeptics. In September, blogger Greta Christina wrote that “when I open my mouth to talk about anything more controversial than Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes or Six More Atheists Who Are Totally Awesome, I can expect a barrage of hatred, abuse, humiliation, death threats, rape threats, and more.” And Jen McCreight stopped blogging and accepting speaking engagements altogether. “I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few),” she wrote. “I just can’t take it anymore.”

I’m not a participant at the Slymepit but I know people who are and it’s about far more than ‘hating on feminists’. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and the community as a whole is ruthless with bad ideas, nonsense ideology and faith beliefs. RadFem ideas are no exception and nor should they be. Demanding they be treated with some level of extra respect is not so far removed from anti-blasphemy rules.

I’m not completely au fait with the accusations of ‘Doxing’ but there’s been plenty of that on all sides.

Trolls are going to troll and there’s little we can do about it while still maintaining a free internet. Presuming these threats and slurs are meaningful or anything more than simple trolling is disingenuous. Of course, it supports their contentions to take the trolls seriously, so they’re not actually motivated to identify incidences of trolling.

I know that this article will only rile up the sexist skeptics. I’ll hear about how I’m a slut who deserves whatever I get, about how I’m a liar who made everything up, about how I’ve overreacted, and about how I should just ignore the trolls and they’ll go away. I’ve written this article anyway, because I strongly believe that the goals of skeptics are good ones, like strengthening science education, protecting consumers, and deepening our knowledge of human psychology. Those goals will never be met if we continue to fester as a middling subculture that not only ignores social issues but is actively antagonistic toward progressive thought.

Kafkatrap. If this riles you up, you must be sexist. Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that you disagree or find things to object to. No, it must just be that you’re sexist.

Yes Rebecca, you are going to be trolled – and I’m sure you were. We all are, pretty much constantly, if we have any profile and we speak up about anything. This is not a special plight of women. It’s damn near universal on the internet. Women get it worse – in some quarters – simply because being a woman is a big red flag that ragging on you about it and using sexist insults is very likely to get a reaction.

Watson did overreact.

Yes, the best way to deal with trolls is indeed to ignore them. Take them seriously, write articles like this, you just feed them and you get more and worse.

Atheism and skepticism is concerned with atheism and skepticism. That sometimes crosses over with other goals but the more extra goals and beliefs you include the more you whittle down that community and make it less effective. It’s not ‘progressive thought’ or feminism per se that the wider skeptic community is hostile to, it’s the same things it has always been hostile to. Fallacious reasoning, poor research, lack of evidence and faith beliefs.

For some reason, some people, take that as an attack

Aethics: On Abortion

 

Aethics is what I’m tentatively calling my own attempt at an objective (or at least only human-subjective) moral philosophy. The idea being that by incorporating ideas from Epicureanism and Utilitarianism you can come to a fact-based, rational and logical moral decision on difficult problems. There’s some important key components to this though:

  • Facts first: Any decision must be based on facts.
  • Provisional: An ‘aethical’ point of view accents that any decision made through it is provisional, not absolute.
  • Situational: Any moral or ethical decision depends on context. What is wrong in one instance may not be wrong in another. No decision is set or settled in its entirety.
  • Emotions & Feelings Have Value: People’s emotional pain should be taken into account and weighed up in a decision.
  • Strive for Objectivity: While emotions have value and meaning they should not guide the moral decisions.

Given recent objectionable events in the US (and oh, there’s been so many) and a couple of discussions from anti-abortion atheists it felt like this would be a good subject to take these thoughts on a test-run.  I am not used to seeing anti-abortion sceptics and atheists and it was disappointing to see that they had no real, co/gent or fact-based arguments against abortion.

What’s the Goal?

To maximise liberty, minimise pain and to consider what is the best possible course of action in most circumstances.

 

What are the Facts?

What are the facts that might influence our decision whether abortion is right or wrong?

  • Scientific consensus is that a foetus cannot even potentially feel pain until at least the 24th week.
  • The very first stuttering of foetal consciousness occur around 20 weeks but this is intermittent, they’re only synchronous and ongoing from 27 weeks. The best evidence that we have that the transition has been made from ‘lump of flesh’ to a human being.
  • In the UK elective abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks.
  • In the UK abortion for medical reasons (mental or physical problems for the mother, or deformity and issues for the foetus) is allowed later.
  • In the UK 91% of abortions take place beneath 13 weeks.
  • Medical abortions made up 47% of abortions in the UK.
  • 1% of abortions were due to foetal deformity.
  • Abortions cause distress and regret is some people (whether this is down to abortion itself or social disapproval is unclear).
  • This is a contentious public issue.
  • Unwanted children or children raised in care are more likely to be societal problems as a demographic.
  • Contraception fails.
  • It is unrealistic to expect people not to have sex.
  • An unwanted pregnancy can curtail a woman’s academic or professional career.
  • The man may not want to be a father as much as the woman may not want to be a mother.

What Can I Conclude and What’s the Reasoning?

Given that what defines our humanity is our consciousness we can consider abortion completely problem free up to 24 weeks. Nothing is being lost, nothing we should rationally consider human is being lost and there’s no question of the foetus feeling, comprehending or understanding pain. Given the relative uncertainty over brain function this is probably the best cut-off point for elective abortion in any case.

Given that a foetus can probably feel pain after 24 weeks abortions after this period should include anaesthesia to prevent needless suffering on even the most basic level.

In the case of medical abortions past 24 weeks we need to consider what does the most or the least harm. When it comes to mental distress and illness this is more difficult to process but mental illness is real illness and pregnancy and birth can be stressful and even life threatening to someone with mental issues. It should be treated as seriously, then, as physical risks to the mother. Ultimately, the mother – a fully realised, actualised, thinking, feeling human being with experience, talents and societal contributions has more inherent worth by any measure than a potential human being.

How should we approach the interface between the desires of the mother and the father in the case of an unwanted pregnancy?

It is the mother’s body and thus, ultimately, it has to be her decision. We cannot ethically either force a woman to become a brood mare or force her to get an abortion. Either would be an absolute violation of personal autonomy and would devalue a real and present human being compared to a potential human being.

unwanted pregnancyWe cannot ignore the role of men in this though. An unexpected pregnancy can and does create a burden for the father that they may not want and over which they are given no choice. If we are to respect the personal autonomy of the mother we must also respect the personal autonomy of the father. Since the father cannot either demand a pregnancy be continued nor that it be aborted we have a problem. A man who wishes the child to be carried to term is simply out of luck. There is no way to compensate him for the loss of his potential offspring without causing a very negative effect on others. There is no simple way to negotiate this issue. The other way around we do have an option though. An unplanned, unexpected or accidental pregnancy that a man does not wish brought to term he might be able to legally disconnect himself from his responsibility to that child. A sort of ‘legal abortion’ that allows him to evade child support and other responsibilities for a child he never wanted, in exchange for giving up all rights and claims to that child.

I think I’ve covered the main issues here. If I’ve missed anything or you see a flaw in the reasoning, please let me know.

More Endings

Sarah, somehow involved in that mess of a book, left a comment but it’s easier to address in a new post.

Sarah Ali – (on behalf of God’s Gangstas and Fools and Rejects). This is a gracious attempt to respond to your posts. Frankly, there are too many inconsistencies for me to wade through. Here’s the main drag.

“You’re wrong, but I’m not going to tell you how… *sigh*.”

You continuously misrepresent the authors’ positions on Science and then, humorously, you launch into the usual creationist comebacks and 3rd grade cut and paste science lessons. How embarrassing! We need to reboot this conversation. For me it would be too long and silly to wade through. Just go back and read the book circumspectly and candidly. Cos, even worse is your understanding of the Bible. This makes our discussion become even more awkward.

The third grade crack seems to be a meme amongst you guys, a catchphrase that turns up a lot. However you’re rather missing the problem here. Your arguments are exactly the same as those of other creationists and thus the disproofs and debunkings are the same. C&P is not an indication of laziness or lack of knowledge but of the paucity of ideas and the lack of progress in religious apologetics when confronted with hard science.

Perhaps the authors should have been better at representing their position, if it’s not the positions that they wrote down.

And we are neither.

Scratch the surface and I’m afraid you are.

The Bottom Line? Look here, there is nothing in SCIENCE that holds true for you — that does not hold true for us. Nothing! Science is science, bud. Not yours. Not ours. Still you consistently assume that because you are an atheist, you somehow proudly stand for Science and Reason – meanwhile we, being Christian idiots, are anti-science. That’s … well, fried baloney. (See, no cussin’ necessary.)

Well you are. The book contains the same, usual misrepresentations of science and poor structuring of questions as other creationists. The main difference between you and other creationists is your self perception.

Remember we are sending a rep to America to represent Science and to tear down Creation Science in an upcoming trial.

Rather ironic really.

So to claim some special super-elite status because you subscribe to the scientific method, only confirms to us that — you either did not read the book candidly —or you did not understand it. Or, as I suspect – you do not want to tar your social gains as an atheist blogger by acquiescing to a bunch of Bible – thumping idiots.

Or that I did and your presentation and content is flawed and you’re being dishonest.

1. The Bible was written by hundreds of ancient prophets (who the religious world claim to represent; hence their opponents like yourself then attack the holy book and denigrate its prophets as a bunch of self-deluded, ancient fools).

Which they are.

However, it’s sufficient for atheism that there’s no evidence for any god.

2. Next, the Bible records that a man called Jesus (if you believe in him or not — is of zero importance to us and to the treatise) said that everyone born of the Spirit will speak in other tongues.

Did it happen? Does it happen?

No.

We were once hardcore Communistic, church-burning-type atheists (not social-bonding, chest-beating ranters and Dawkins’ mini-clones) and to make long story short; we decided to put Jesus and the Bible to the test. And in an instant we atheists were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in new tongues – just as Jesus said — and as also demonstrated throughout the Book of Acts and by hundreds of millions of other ignorant memes like us. That’s our story.

And I have no reason to believe it or that your claimed experiences are any different to the experiences of people in other religions who make the same unevidenced claims for THEIR gods.

3. But that is only the outward evidence, Grim!

It’s not evidence, it’s claims.

Have you ever had South American caca-belly fish — mixed with achar? Of course not. If we told you that it would enflame your gums and give you nightmares for weeks. How will you know if this is true or not? What if two or three guys say it’s not true. But 300 million say that it is. The only way to honestly determine the truth for yourself — would be to honestly and empirically test it — for yourself. No?

Argumentum ad populum, logical fallacy.

Now you’re probably reaching to debunk “our appeal to authority” argument. But here’s the problem. This is not a fairy-airy, religious pie-in-de-sky-type, faith argument, this is a real empirical phenomenon – promised by Jesus and then confirmed in the Bible, then throughout history by hundreds of millions and … HEY, DUDE — IN OUR DELUDED LITTLE LIVES.

I refer you back to the previous post about ‘speaking in tongues’. Incidentally that’s been interpreted many different ways throughout history.

How on Earth, pray tell, can you so smugly and blatantly deny its veracity? If you do not have a desire to seek the answers to the miracle of your own life — for yourself — that’s fine, party on — but we are struck that many would desperately try to convince others that they have the goods on Life and Death — based on their unbeatable powers of reason. That would be just as cruel as our religious oppressors.

Why presume it has not been experimented on? The claims of the Bible – and other holy texts – simply do not hold up when examined. and tested.

“Its one thing to convince one’s own heart that the miracle of YOUR existence ends here [that’s totally fine] but it’s another thing to feverishly convince others to give up THEIR search.” Surprise Endings

It is an act of compassion to disavow someone of their dangerous delusions.

As explained in the book, we both have a common enemy: Religion.

You ARE religious.

Yes, keep fighting Religion — but before you denigrate and belittle hundreds of ancient prophets, we graciously advise you to examine their words for yourself and prove them.

I have. They are found wanting. Disproven, not proven.

Why We Have Different Standards

quote-forgotten-were-the-elementary-rules-of-logic-that-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-christopher-hitchens-237619There’s a chap on Twitter who keeps arguing in circles around the idea that somehow we’re being unreasonable in having different evidential standards when it comes to recognising human artifice versus the supposed artifice of nature.

We can, pretty rapidly, recognise the hand of humans in the construction of things. The example the chap uses is that of a real flower versus an artificial flower.

We are intimately familiar with human construction, we see it everywhere and it is usually fairly obvious as we see it.

Taking the artificial flower example it is a confluence of alien materials, many of which do not occur naturally (plastics for example) and it is put together from disparate parts in a manner that isn’t possible in nature. We have plenty of examples of human – and animal – constructions of this ilk and they are of an obvious and immediately different character to what we find in nature.

A natural flower, on the other hand, is not artificial. It is not an artefact. It is grown, its parts come from each other. It self-reproduces and grows. We have no examples or experience of a flower (or anything else natural) being created.

Implicit in the question: “Why do you have different standards of evidence of creation for a fake flower and a real flower” is the assumption that both are created.

The reason we have different standards of evidence for different claims is that some are mundane while others are extraordinary.

The claim that a fake flower is created is a mundane claim due to our experience and the evidence thereof.

The claim that flowers themselves are created is an extraordinary claim with no evidence.

More info here.