Monday, 16 September 2013


Sometimes, when you do something awesome like writing informative and entertaining rageblogs, someone offers you giant piles of money to keep doing the same thing somewhere else, such as their site. This didn't happen to me, but sometimes someone from a group of bloggers your read and for the most part agree with, respect and find entertaining, offers you the opportunity to write for them, and this did happen.

Therefore Shadow of a doubt will now be hosted on the Skepti-schism network at .

See you there.

Stand up and fight!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Atheist Jihad

Well ladies and gentlemen, PZ Myers has gone and done it again, and at  it looks like this time first glance this time he's gone straight off the deep end. First he straight up accuses Michael Shermer of rape, and not only does through hearsay, but it turns out as according to the cease and desist letter sent by Shermer's lawyers, hes been caught doing it through double hearsay. (He heard it from someone, who heard it from someone else.). Now this seems utterly ridiculous and only an entirely stupid person could possibly do something do dumb, and then try to cover it up on the internet, where if nothing else, the Google cache catches almost everything.

Now don't get me wrong, I think PZ Myers is in asshole, a liar, a bully and a whole lot of other things, but I don't think he's stupid. Because he's not stupid, he's a jihadi.

Let's take a look at the evidence; I know PZ has officially stated that he is not a skeptic, but no sane person begins with "I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described" and then proceeds to toss out a rape accusation, though hearsay, against someone who he is known to have a public beef with. I'd like to think that a tenured professor isn't that stupid."

PZ is trying to go out with a bang. Plain and simple, he begins his own comment threat by saying that this will finish his career in the community, be the fact is, he did that himself, more slowly, over the past year and a half or so. Videos by Justicar and, Richard Carrier's A+ video, and online polls show that the man who could once "Pharyngulate" any poll into submission or removal for the internet can barely muster up a few hundred clicks for the direction. I guess when your primary audience is the skeptic community, "divorcing" skepticism, declaring an entire field of science to be nonsense and then speaking as an expert in a panel on that same subject, and tossing out junk or made up data in the name of your ideology can damage your popularity, whoudathunkit?

But PZ is a white knight, crusading for a cause, he's hitched his wagon to whatever sort of outrage feminism happens to be popular in any given week, and when he's lost the battle, and no one is willing to fight for him anymore, what is there to do but try and take as many of his "foes" down with him as he can. PZ doesn't want to win this case, he wants to lose, and he did from the start. He wants to go down in flames so that Benson, Watson, Svan and their like can claim for years to come; "Look, the patriarchy is so evil, not only do men get away with rape, but the evil mens sue the defenders of the women off the internet." PZ will be the noble feminist martyr as long as they can put up with the fact that he's a white cisgendered neurotypical able bodied man, which in truth, probably won't be very long. The damage to Michael Shermer is probably only collateral in the grand scheme of things, I'm sure it could have been anyone. I do feel sorry for Shermer though, I don't always agree with him, but no one deserves this level of bullshit.

I would like to point out for the record, that, should evidence present itself that Shermer is in fact a marauding serial rapist, or even a one-time rapist in the case, I will gladly retract any support for him, though I will certainly never support Myers' methodology of shouting this from a blog. I will note however that it is obvious that PZ has presented in such a way that any evidence has long since been lost to time, and no doubt he and the redfem squad will say we should all just shut up and "listen to the women", especially when they speak through their prophet, PZ.

PZ didn't have a metaphorical grenade, he had an explosive vest which he strapped on, and charged straight at his nearest target, Michael Shermer. Too bad for PZ that Shermer was waiting with a low orbit ion cannon.

"BOOM!" Indeed, Mr. Myers.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mutually Assured Dumbness

So, since the majority of my atheism blogs seem to be dedicated to drama in the atheist community let's have another look at the latest twitstorm, which revolves around the harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez and the call for a report abuse button. For the record, the abuse being thrown her way is reprehensible, however the proposed solution will cause more problems than it solves. I'm going to leave the block bot drama and the list alone for the time being and instead focus on the "report abuse" button.

I don't know if anyone has been around since the cold war days, but I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with the doctrine known as "mutually assured destruction" often shorted to MAD. For those not in the know, this refers to fact that while the US or Russia could launch a nuclear strike to cripple the other, the resulting nuclear counterstrike would destroy their own nation, and possibly cause the end of human life on earth as a result of the fallout. Thus neither side was willing to use nuclear weapons in any situation unless the possible extinction of the human race (or at least the homeland) was an acceptable consequence thereof. Luckily we had mostly rational people sitting behind the proverbial big red buttons, so we are all here today to have this conversation. If you can't yet see how this relates to the proposed button, then please red on.

So you want a way to report abuse that doesn't involve filling out a form? Fair enough, the world is getting lazier and lazier, why not have it quick and simple so your lazy ass can get on with it's day? Well, as there are a couple ways twitter can implement this feature, I'll comment on the reasonable ones. If you've seen Subman's video on the topic (which is excellent apart from a mis-edit in the middle), and @Beagrie 's also excellent vid then same of this will be re-hash, but here I go.

The first is just an extension of the block button, whereas you block the user and a flag goes into the computer system for the twitter administrators to check at some point, which is essentially the lazy (wo)man's version of the existing system, if this is all anyone wants, fair enough, I'm a supporter of any sort of laziness except the kind that generates obesity, and keystokes don't burn many calories so fuck'em and make it a one click process (preferably two, so we don't click it by mistake).

However, That's not what most of them are calling for, they want something to be DONE IMMEDIATELY! They want a way to either suspend or ban accounts in real time, because the best way to get your views across is to censor all dissent, or so I'm told, so lets look at a few options for that.

The first  of these is that twitter will hire a herd of people to check all these things in real time as they come in. This is completely unfeasible, as twitter will not go to the expense of hiring thousands of employees to review flagged tweets. This I wouldn't object to either if it were in any way possible to implement.

Secondly we could get a system similar to youtube, where a complaint or certain number of complaints results in a temporary suspension and possible a permanent one pending a review by a human being, a process known to take weeks, sometimes over a month. No one has ever abused this system to have people they disagree with temporarily banned. If you believe the previous sentence I have a bridge to sell you.

Thirdly we have a system where a complaint immediately disables an account pending a human review. Much like the above option on steroids, basically we have a standoff, no one would abuse this against you for fear you would abuse it against them right?

I won't even consider such stupidity as a button that connects directly to the police.

Now I want you to think about the last two options, carefully for a moment, then please watch this video.

My favorite movie supervillian, and an apt description of an internet troll, wouldn't you say?

So, back to the mutually assured dumbness, by adding this button you don't disarm the trolls, you give the little kids who want to watch the world burn a nuclear armament and set them in front of the big red candy colored button that says "launch". Not only that, but they know they can launch without any sort of consequence, the troll doesn't care if his account gets banned in response. In fact he probably created a dozen sock accounts just to keep yours down even longer as his accounts die a glorious death in the name of the lulz.

Congratulations! You are attempting to use the MAD doctrine against a Jihadi, not too fucking bright now, is it?

Stand up and fight!

Monday, 8 July 2013

(Not) In the name of atheism...

So, time to break out the jumper cable and shock the shit out of this dead horse, it seems that no one can let it lie, so let's charge the beast up and get a few things sorted out. Prompting this post is a recent post by John Loftus at Skeptic Ink, however there has been a whole lot about it over the past year and so I'll voice my objections to several elements.

In regard to Loftus's claim that atheism entails anti-discrimination, I will start with this: No. The only thing atheism entails is the lack of belief in a god or gods (or the belief that there are no gods). Period. When you ascribe other things to Atheism you not only run into a huge problem, but you give fuel to every idiot theist out there who argues that because there were evil atheists, atheism itself is the cause of evil.

See when Loftus says that the removal of religion removes the cause for discrimination, I believe that were Josef Stalin and the NKVD/KGB still around, they might disagree with him on that point, not to mention all the other evil atheist leaders the fundies love to rant about. See what you in your grand ignorant buffoonery fail to realize, is that when you ascribe these other positive things to atheism, you also tack onto them all the negative things, especially the ones which directly contradict you. There are atheist bigots, there are atheist homophobes, there are atheist misogynists, and there are atheists who partake in every other form of discrimination. You can be an atheist and anti-discriminationist (It's a word now, fuckers), but the two are not related. I think this is a case of yet another former fundie failing to understand that there are people out there who never believed in religion, some of whom are just as discriminatory as their religious counterparts.

Atheism may remove one of the reason for discrimination, that being religious based hatred and separatism, but it doesn't remove the discrimination itself, and pretty much anyone who's either read a history book ought to know this, it's not rocket science.

Now moving on to what seems to be a more weaselly approach. A while ago there was a discussion between Dan Finke of Camels with Hammers and Justin Vacula about feminism in the secularist movement, specifically in regards to atheism, and Justin, who is normally a decent public speaker, made a little bit of an idiot of himself, however part of it was because a weaselly choice of words.

A big part of the discussion surrounds Finke grilling Vacula on whether or not atheism is "consistent" with feminism, and Vacula honestly makes himself look like an asshole here with his disagreements, because Finke is using the term "consistent" in the logical and academic sense (which makes sense, given his background), which means to say that the two are not mutually exclusive. This is actually 100% correct and Vacula, being a philosophy major, should have clarified this instead of simply disagreeing. The problem here is that consistent to most people, generally means more towards "X entails Y"  or even "X matches Y" as opposed to "X and Y are not mutually exclusive." I'm pretty sure Justin was arguing against the latter case and not the former.

A manager will often tell an employee that a good sales record, punctuality and the like are consistent with a promotion or a pay raise. This is a weaselly way of saying you should do these things without promising anything, and I don't know if he's doing it intentionally here, but Finke is implying that atheism leads to or entails feminism (of which kind? There seem to be several brands). He's wrong about this, as Atheism as a label entails nothing of the sort.

If feminism is consistent with atheism, then wife-beating is consistent with atheism. Mass deportation and slaughter are consistent with atheism, execution of all dissenters is consistent with atheism, UFOs and alien abduction are consistent with atheism, bigfoot is consistent with atheism. Do you get the point? You may think you've weaseled in a definition that isn't there, but you've actually said nothing at all, and anyone with half a brain will notice what a vapid argument that is. The only things inconsistent with Atheism are things which involve a belief in a god or gods, and once again, when you peddle this sort of bullshit, you simply open the door for all the theists to (correctly, by your logic) ascribe all sorts of negative shit to atheism.

As for Atheists as a movement, if you want to crusade for whatever, go for it. If I agree with you I'll join in as best I can, if not, I'll disagree vehemently and bitch about it on the internet. But don't claim to do what you do in the name of atheism, not only do you imply that the goals of atheism are X when they are not, but a single dissenter proves you wrong.

*Raises his hand* Right here, you dumb shits, I'm that one dissenter!

I don't care what you're doing, unless it's not believing in god. If it's not that, it's not atheism, and even if I agree with your cause, I will lend my support to a similar one which does not imply that atheism is the cause. Yes, by all means, be an atheist and a humanist, be an atheist and feed the hungry, be an atheist and campaign to end slavery. Just don't suggest that these are done in the name of atheism, it's no better or worse than the fundie who says Mao starved millions in the name of Atheism.

Stand up and Fight!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

On ....random things

So I don't blog often, usually because I need something to rant about, but I figure I can knock a few topics into one post and rant a little on each we should be good to go, so here goes;

On Justin Vacula and Skeptic Ink. - I started reading SIN for Vacula, although I don't always agree with him, especially when he gets a little MRAish, I find his reporting to be well done, and by all accounts he was both polite and professional at WiS and EWTS, the only offence being that people chose to take at their being a man of dissenting viewpoint present. Although I've found some excellent other blogs such as Notung, Background Probability and The Hellfire Club (which I also read pre-SIN), and others I never gave two shits and a shake about John Loftus before. Now, as far as I can tell, he is nothing but another cowardly internet dipshit, who may have lost the christianity, but retained a whole lot else he learned from William Lane Craig. It may not be the same as another infamous internet echo chamber, but I still have no use for those who promote groupthink. I'll quote my comment on the site as that sums it up:

"Justin Vacula is no longer a part of Skeptic Ink because his communication style and areas of focus are not compatible with the mission and values of the network."
The Skeptic Ink Network's mission and values are not in line with the values and mission of this skeptic then. Which are actual activism an critical thought, not a massive circle jerk and back patting over making fun of yet another stupid preacher. - Shadow of a Doubt

I'll still follow the others though, since I'm one of those assholes who uses AB+ and no one is making ad revenue from me anyhow.

On going for the high hanging fruit - some people may have noticed I occasionally throw barbs and get into little twitter spats, especially with smart folks like Matt Dillahunty and occasionally Richard Dawkins among others when I take to disagreement with them, and I sometimes get asked why I do so when I usually come out looking worse.

Two reasons; Firstly; there is no point going after the low hanging fruit, if I wanted to start a youtube career I would make videos going after VenomfangX, Rebecca Watson, Paul Elam etc. there is no point in going after the extremists to prove that they're wrong. Extremists usually are, instead I go after people with more reasoned positions, who in turn are open to being reasoned with.

Secondly, I apply my own skepticism to myself and my own views. By challenging ideas from people I know and respect as skeptics and sound logicians, I can put the validity of my own views to the test, you should try it sometime. Dillahunty is usually pretty accessible and Dawkins will often respond if you catch his tweets shortly after he posts them. You'll find most "celebrities", major or minor, will often provide some insight, or at least a good short convo on twitter if you remain polite.

On fitness - As always I am trying new things and have recently been using the bulgarian bag. Probably only good for another week or so as there isn't a whole lot to do with it but swinging it around is a great ab, shoulder and core workout, and probably good for the rotator-cuff area as well. BJJ has been slow, with the new business venture I've recently started I haven't been training as much as I should, but I get in a few times in a week. Still hate the "De La Riva" position due to my general lack of flexibility, but I'll get it in time.

On books - Currently reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series and very much enjoying it, good solid fantasy, interesting characters, sarcastic as hell main character and overall very cool. Highly recommended for fantasy fans, in the words of the author:

"The Cool Stuff Theory of Literature is as follows: All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ‘em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ‘em, ’cause that’s cool. Guys who like military hardware, who think advanced military hardware is cool, are not gonna jump all over my books, because they have other ideas about what’s cool.
"The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff." -Steven Brust.

On Vidya games - Playing through all the games I got on steam sales and humble bundles without putting much time in, currently Serious Sam HD, which is an awesome throwback to classic shooters, Saint's Row the 3rd, which is an over the top version of GTA, and as always, planetside 2 and Minecraft. Looking forward to trying The last of us within the next week or two.

That's all for now.


Stand up and Fight!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

On crying coyote, and the annoyances of twitter, and why we don't use Piltdown man to prove evolution.

So I will begin with by saying that I hate twitter, fucking hate it. It seems impossible to make a coherent point while at the same time not coming across as overly aggressive and entrenched in one's stance. One often has to use strong wording, without sufficient space to explain one's points and the reasoning thereto. Also though occasionally something interesting is posted there, I often find upon rereading my tweets I come across as even more of an asshole then I actually am. That being said it is a useful medium for contacting people otherwise out of reach, and despite that we obviously don't agree on things, I've had (brief) conversations on there with Matt Dillahunty, Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins etc. whom I otherwise would never have had the chance to do so, so it's useful for connection and a couple quips, as well as the promotion of blogs etc.

Speaking of which, Matt on the off chance you visit my blog again, I'd love to have an email or skype exchange with you sometime. I know we haven't always agreed, and you've had to correct me on a couple occasions, but I do thank you for taking the time to have the conversation, as I know your day is a lot busier than mine, and I agree with you on most things.

So that being off my chest, I'd like to discuss "crying wolf", or in my case, crying coyote. I grew up on a farm, and just about anyone who has in north america has had to deal with some sort of predator, coyote, wolf, jaguar, mountain lion, etc. the fuckers dwell on forested or unfarmed lands and sneak in at night to kill livestock, the bane of any livestock farmer.

Now as we like to eat or sell our meat ourselves, most farmers keep some sort of firearm, whether it be a rifle or shotgun, to deal with these. I've never shot one myself, though I've killed quite a few groundhogs in my day, but generally its legal to shoot them on your farmland, and if a large pack is spotted, usually the township arranges some hunters or game wardens to do a culling (controlled killing off of a significant portion of their population.). Sometimes though, you get a bunch of them (or just one, in the case of the large cats) on your lawn and you don't want to or can't deal with them yourself, so you call Jim, Bob and Bubba to get over with their guns so you and your flock don't get eaten by whatever.

Now we all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, falsely claiming wolves until it was to late and no one came to his aid, and he was devoured. So what does this have to do with coyotes or anything else you ask? Well, this morning I was checking my twitter feed and this came up from the aforementioned Mr. Dillahunty.

"For the 999th time, it doesn't matter if specific case X is true if it is representative of actual problem Y."

(For some reason I cant get tweets to embed on here, but I will link to it)

Here is where the problem is, Matt, If we are talking about the real world, not a thought experiment, then the truth of a claim is what matters, regardless if it represents another problem or not.

Consider when the boy was killed by wolves, it did in fact proves wolves exist, but it was too late for him wasn't it? By misrepresenting someone else's problem as your own, you cause all sorts of other problems, I'm going to list a few here.

1) The honesty of the "crier" is an important thing to consider when evaluating future statements from them which cannot be proven by means other than their word. If you want people to take your word at face value, without presenting backing evidence (or in the face of other evidence), it's generally best to tell the truth. If you want people to take action when the coyotes arrive, don't lie about it when it does not happen.

2) Although it does not disprove a claim, a claimants benefits from things such as speaking engagements, t-shirt sales, ad revenue and the like might warrant one to take a closer look at a particular claim.

3) Myself and most atheists I know are atheists because so because of our desire for the truth. Evaluating a perceived problem based on a false or dubious claim should not sit well for anyone on the side of reason, especially if better evidence is available. If problem X is really such a problem, it shouldn't be hard to find an actual case of it occurring to use as our example. Evolution occurs, no one uses Piltdown man to prove it, because even though we know evolution occurs, using a hoax to prove it does not inspire confidence in our evidence. As with the boy, if he had shown wolf tracks, wolf poop, missing livestock, a picture of a wolf, video of a wolf and a half dozen there people who had seen wolves in the area, people would have been a lot more likely to believe him, and keep coming to his aid.

4) Even if every other case is in fact true, a single false claim will cast doubt on the problem in it's entirety, and it may in fact cause there to be a lack of response, as is the classic example in the story.

5) The opposite occurs, and there is an overreaction instead of an under-reaction, a good local example is the Ontario pit bull ban, even though more than 99.9% of all pit bulls never had any problems, the government banned them instead of placing the onus on their owners, where it belongs.

6) Worse off we get a huge overreaction, and we get a witch hunt (coyote hunt?) for non-existent coyotes, or people go around condemning every dog that looks like a coyote. This will probably turn around and lead a great deal of people whose expertise might be useful in dealing with the coyote problem to number 4.

7) A great deal of people who are otherwise worthless will make money from ad-revenue related to coyote related incidents, even though they live in a city on an island 1000 miles from the nearest coyote.

8) Asshole humans who support coyotes will use it as a rallying cry to band together against "oppression" against them.

9) For some of us, like me, we do not believe that Y is not a problem, we simply find it odious that Subject Z is lying about Y. I had thought you one of those people.

I hope by now you're getting the point. In a thought experiment, in a construct which is not the real world, then it doesn't matter, but we don't live in a thought experiment, and real people suffer real damage when subject Z lies. And yes, just because X claim is false does not mean Y is not a problem. For the record, Y is a problem, it is not nearly as bad as subject Z claims, and that subject Z would fabricate (whether in whole or in part) such a claim is repugnant. Just because there are wolves out there, doesn't mean you get to go shouting about them in the town square without consequence.

Stand up and Fight!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shut up about shutting up.

Alright, well as always I seem to be a little late to the party with my blog topics, but since Mr. Lindsay (who I might add, sold a membership to CFI with his speech in regards to the "shut up and listen" meme) kindly opened the doors of battle on this one, I figured I'd wade on in.

The thrust of this post will be in regards to why having experienced something does not make you an expert in it, but I'd like to address a certain bit of hypocrisy first.

Anyone who has A) Complained that Richard Dawkins marginalizes sexual abuse because he is a man and B) Has not themself been physically sexually abused and C) Has ever uttered "shut up and listen". Get the fuck out of here now, you're a useless hypocrite and cannot be made to understand anything.

For the rest of you with half a brain, listen in and your might learn something, shutting up is optional, though shouting at the text might ruin your concentration.

There are two main problems with the typical boisterous idiot who shouts "shut up and listen" at people, wielding it as if it were some sort of club to smite one's foes with. I'll address each in turn, but they are firstly: The assumption that one's own experience allows one to speak for a group, and secondly; The fact that experiencing something does not magically grant any sort of insight on how to solve the cause of the problem.

So here is the big problem people don't seem to understand, when you speak about your experience about being underprivileged, regardless of how you come by that, you speak for no one but yourself. Let me drill that on into you, since so many people don't seem to understand this, you speak only for yourself. You don't speak for all women, or gays, or blacks or Latinos or poor people or the mentally disabled or amputees or any other group, underprivileged or otherwise, you speak for yourself.

Now if you mean to say "Shut up and listen to ME!" that's fine, but unless I consider you some sort of expert my response is going to involve me telling you to go fuck yourself. I guarentee I am better at shouting than you, and if you want to talk, you don't start by shouting at me to shut up. If something is new to me, I'll say so, and odds are at this stage in the game I've already talked to a dozen or more people on the subject before you. When you tell me to "shut up and listen" to the women about conference harassment policies, I already have. The fact that the other women say something that doesn't agree with your philosophy is tough nuts for you. The same goes for gays, minorities and so on.

Understand that when I disagree, or criticize, I am not criticizing your people, your race, your gender or anything else, it is your ideas and your presentation of them which I am criticizing. The fact that your people are oppressed, regardless of  whom they are, does not in any way make -YOU- automatically correct or above reproach. You can be gay/woman/man/white/black/purple and still be completely, fucking, wrong. Get it?

"You can't possibly understand Islamophobia (sexism/racism/homophobia etc.) since you aren't a muslim. (female/black/gay)"

Sound familiar? Enough said.

Onto the problem of expertise and experience. So, you've been in a position where you're underprivileged, you're discriminated against for no reason other then a factor your can't control. This sucks, I feel for you bro/sis. But does this grant you some magical power to understand how to fix the problem? It does not.

I'll give you an example I know how to work with. I've never disarmed someone with a knife in real life. Whether through coincidence or the fact that I avoid situations like that, I've managed to avoid ever facing a knife wielding opponent, maybe I need to get out more, I don't know. Regardless of this fact I've practiced many of these scenarios with rubber knives, and I teach some basic knife defenses (run if you can, and how to not get stabbed if running is not an option), when I run a self defense seminar (we practice with washable markers and white t-shirts to see how well we did, its actually fun as well as informative and potentially life saving.)  If someone came in, and showed me a knife scar, then told me that I shouldn't teach this because I have "never been knife attacked privilege" and that the best way to avoid knife attacks is to leap at your attacker, I would laugh him out of the room.

This is a bit unwieldy of a metaphor, but I think I've made the point, one can talk on a subject without having experienced it, and the fact that one has experienced something does not necessarily confer the knowledge of how to fix the cause. Lastly, be aware that me "shutting up and listening" to you, does not in any way make you except from critical thought or peer review afterwards. If your ideas can't stand up to criticism then you're just wasting everyone's time, whether we shut up or not, you wouldn't accept such nonsense from a christian, I won't accept it from you.

In dealing with the issue of talking about privileged persons, it's important to keep in mind a very important point, that issues of class/race/gender/creed etc. are extremely complex, so it is possible to disagree in good faith, and come to different conclusions as to what needs to be done. If there is a problem with a reasonable solution, we can address it, but on the other hand, if enough people from the group you claim to be speaking for don't agree with you on the nature of the problem, you might want to consider the fact that you're acting like a whiny entitled snowflake.  Bear in mind the solution might not be what you want, and there is an old saying that goes sort of like this "A good compromise leaves both sides pissed off and whining about privilege."

Stand up and Fight!