Archive for January, 2009

Atheist Ticket-Holders Turned Away at Hitchens/D’Souza Debate

Last Monday, Christopher Hitchens was up in Boulder debating Dinesh D’Souza. I didn’t go because it was a school night and tickets were sold out before I could change my mind, but it seems from this e-mail I just received that it’s possible I wouldn’t have gotten in anyway. Listen to this:

Neither of the organizers of DAFT are in any big hurry to drive all the way up to Boulder for an event at Macky Auditorium after we were so recently turned away from the Hitchens/d’Souza debate even though we had tickets in hand. (Note that the upcoming event has a completely different sponsor who was in no way involved in the debacle at the Hitchens debate.)

For those who don’t know, the Hitchens/d’Souza debate was sponsored by the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, at the Catholic Student Center at CU Boulder. To guarantee a Catholic majority in the audience they gave away free tickets at masses and prior to the debate, resulting in such a large crowd that the Macky Center turned away a number of people (including DAFT organizers) who had paid for their seats at the debate, even though there were actually plenty of seats available.

If you or anyone you know had tickets and could not get in, refunds should be sought from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. TicketWest was not responsible, but they say they are working with the St. Thomas (etc.) Church to ensure that nothing like that happens again.

Wow. Just wow.

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AND!

Let me get this straight.

Right now, an invisible force is gluing me to the surface of this spherical object that has liquid rock on the inside and it’s hurtling through a vacuum called space.

AND!

This object called Earth is revolving around this giant orb of gas called a star where atoms get thrown at each other so fast that they fuse together and this causes this sphere of gas to produce almost all the light and heat that sustains life on this planet (with the exception of some funny bacterial colonies around thermal vents in the ocean), and heats its core to about 13 million degrees celsius.

AND!

There are more of these giant balls of gas, anywhere between 200 and 400 billion of these stars in our galaxy alone, but most of them are so far away that it takes light years to get from one star to another.

AND!

There are more of these monsterous, giant, collections of stars called galaxies which are even more far apart so that light from the Andromeda galaxy started hurtling towards us at a time before the Homo genus existed on this planet.

AND!

Nothing about this whole arrangement is perfectly stable. Every few billion years a star explodes. A star, just like that funny yellow cirlce thing that our planet spins to face everyday, just explodes and incinerates any planet it may have around it.

AND!

Sometimes those giant massive galaxy things that are a collection of hundreds of billions of stars also collide with each other.

AND!

All this is going on out there in the depths of the universe as you read this.

AND!

People at my school have nothing better to talk about than other people’s sex lives.

Wow.

Quotes

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve gotten a rather frequent commenter on my posts. This was brought about by me commenting on one of her blog posts and expressing a dissenting view.

These have been posted publicly on the Internet. I therefore have the right to repost them.

Enjoy reading them.

And I never said it’s ok to be stupid!! I’m saying that Bella knows that she is being stupid by being with him since he’s so dangerous. That doesn’t mean she ACTS stupidly! Honestly, “Elles,” you should reread what you wrote and look at how ridiculous it sounds. It really does sound stupid.

Abby

I wonder if any lesbians read the book and voted for “Team Jessica”.

Cassie

Cassie’s not a troll. I’m just quoting her because she’s awesome.

Whoa whoa whoa… you’re saying that there is no God???? Wow. Ok now I’m mad at you for TWO MAJOR THINGS!!!!!!! How dare you??? There IS a God and he is AWESOME!! He created everything. He sent His own Son to die for our sins!!!! And there is also a TON of evidence that there is a God. It’s called the HOLY BIBLE!!! You should read it sometime.

Abby

It would also seem that God created H2G2 to test our faith by providing us with information on logical fallacies.

Ok, well God created the Word, and the Word was life. That comes from the Bible. And if you’re going to start stepping on my beliefs, then you better shut up because… oh I will get pissed like none other!!!

Abby

I admitted I had been a tad bitchy with her after telling her that she should use her brain.

You do come off b****y.

Abby

My favourite bit was what she said before that.

But I will get PISSED so SHUT UP!!

Abby

Well, I, unlike some people, never tell anybody to “shut up” whenever they say something I don’t like. I use well-reasoned arguments to refute things which I disagree with. I’ll slip in some snark ocasionally, but in the end I don’t truly hate anybody just for disagreeing with me.

I believe that expressing dissenting opinions is essential for exercising our free speech. Playing Bill O’Reilly on my blog, though, is a bit different from free speech.

Abby will go on comment moderation until she learns to express her disagreement in a more rational, civilized manner. If she still fails to do this I’ll simply put her on the ‘blacklist’ and she’ll go directly to the spam filter.

In the meantime, I recommend she reads this post.

Update: Abby, yet again you have failed to make a comment that contains any intelligence and it has been deleted. Two more times and I’m routing your comments directly into the spam filter.

Really, if you want people to think of you as an unintelligent, immature brat I’d be happy to keep approving your comments, but for your sake I’m going to keep deleting them.

Is Twilight-Fandom a Problem?

we’ve been blogging about abortion, politics, religion and boobs. turns out, people want to read about Twilight and guys wearing headsets

Elyse

I honestly don’t care about Twilight anymore. I never really continued after chapter 14. The best way to describe the book’s plot is the Douglas Adams quote “For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen,” except nothing continued to happen for 300 pages.

Given the commenters on my post I wrote on Teen Skepchick, and MasalaSkeptic’s post on Old Skepchick I’ve since given up on doing what I had originally set out to do: Get people to think critically about a popular cultural phenomenon.

The key thing is I never advocated banning the book, nor did I truly ever say that there was a problem.
To quote myself in my post…

The way a girl reacts to a fictional novel is most likely not the same way she would react in real life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think there’s much to worry about, but I do think that it can only be healthy to point out more often that the level of stalkerishness in Twilight might be on par with the level of stalkerishness in Lolita.

All I ever really sought to promote was not to get teenagers all across America to drop Twilight and begin reading Demon Haunted World (although I would like to promote reading Demon Haunted World), but to just use that as a way to stimulate some discussion of the book.

What do I get? A bunch of angry comments with poor grammatical skills and a lot of ad hom.

Special commendation is to be given to this commenter for what I found to be a rather polite, well-reasoned dissenting comment, although I do disagree with her. The issue about Edward’s stalkerishness that I find potentially worrisome is not that he’s unaware of his stalkerishness but that Bella, and the droves of readers are. Also, even if Edward is hormonally a teenage boy, he still has quite a lot of experience which should have given him a fair amount more wisdom.

Truly, I’d like to say it’s just a minor annoyance, but it’s not. It would seem to me that these people follow Twilight more religiously than religious people follow their religions. I’ve seen civilized conversations between religious people and people critical of religion. I’ve yet to see civilized conversations between Twilight fans and those critical of Twilight.

Perhaps it is far too extreme to say that Twilight fans follow Twilight religiously, but they get offended in the same way as religious people do to the point of saying…

You have no right to say that and u ought to keep ur opinions to yourself!

One blogger suggested that Maria would have angry mobs go after her if she didn’t take down her post. I really doubt that anybody would really kill for Twilight, and I really doubt that they are offended enough to do any sort of violent action. Let me make this clear: There is no evidence to suggest that Twilighters are offended to the point of forming violent mobs.

But they certainly get offended enough that they seem to want to leave behind all civilized, reasoned discussion.

Forget the stalkerishness, the creationism, the Mormonism. The readers are obviously not going to face any problems because that sort of thing is idealized as long as they’re thinking. The real reason why Twilight is  a problem is because people are so fervent about it that they stop all rational discourse.

On the other hand, I’m going to say that in the real world the vast majority of the Twilight fans are perfectly reasonable. They know that the things being idealized in Twilight are silly, but they just read it for entertainment and that is wholely, perfectly fine. But we may want to keep an eye on the rabid Internet fangirls.

I want to say that there isn’t much of a problem, but I think there does seem to be some encouragement of not using intelligence going on here in the phenomenon of Twilight fandom. It would be idiocy to suggest that there is a causal relationship between reading Twilight and having YouTube-quality comments. I don’t think that Twilight makes people stupid. But there seems to be something going on here.

I’d like to open this up to the readers:

Is Twilight-fandom a problem or is it just an extension of the general Internet discourse expected from the masses? Should we do anything about it?

Personally, I just want them to go away, for my posts to sink into oblivion, but then, maybe I will do what I set out to do and get just one or two of those Twilight fans to think about what they’re doing for a little while.

Cue the angry Internet Twilightites.

Materialism: Dropping Watermelons from Great Heights

Please give me instances which prove materialism?

-Dawkinswatch

You went to Dawkinswatch’s blog, you commented, he decided that the main reason we were all Atheists was because we were materialists, he wrote a new post.

Well… I think I should first make two things quite clear:

Materialism here does not mean the same thing as consumerism (just to make sure we’re all on the same page).

I’m an Atheist for the same reason why I’m a materialist. There is about as much evidence for a god as there is evidence fo ghosts. Nada.

It’s not that I’m an Atheist because I reject the possibility that there is a spiritual realm out of hand. It’s just as simple as this: If there’s a realm outside of our own, if it can affect our realm it will leave evidence.

Objection to materialism number one:

1) Many People Have Experience The Spirit World

People who have converted to Christianity have gone from believing in the non existence of God, to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Well It is rather arrogant for those Atheists to dismiss their experiences.

Call me arrogant, but when Joseph Smith claimed to have experienced seeing twelve golden tablets conveniently shoot off into heaven I didn’t believe him, and neither did Dawkinswatch. Call me arrogant but when Travis Walton told me he experienced being abducted by aliens I didn’t believe him. Call me arrogant, but when the man standing on a street corner told me he had a vision of Puff the Magic Dragon coming and loosening destruction upon the Earth in 2012 I didn’t believe him. Call me arrogant, but people “experience” things all the time, not just the Holy Spirit.  Followers of voodoo have experiences similar to pentecoasts in that they try to be posessed by spirits. Muslims feel the spirit of Allah. New Agers feel “strange energy signals” from crystals and rocks. You dismiss all of those experiences, but choose to accept only those whose “experiences” support your beliefs.

Experiences are a part of empiricism and that’s all well and good as long as other people can verify your experiences. I’m perfectly prepared to believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn once you show her on a thermal camera, when you show me her footprints in the sand, and when I have eliminated all other possible causes of those phenomena.

While I’m at it… religious experiences, alien abductions, and ghosts can be induced by things other than gods, extra-terrestrials, and restless spirits. See article in Newsweek about Michael Persinger and his work.

2) Yoga and Eastern Religions are About Yoking with gods (spirits)

I have featured Yoga gurus claiming to have experinced visions of the Spirit world after opening themselves up to  the spirit world. Now to a materialist. this does not make sense, but I have been around when I felt the existence of spirits. Former guru speaksout on Yoga.

See above.

3) Muslims Meeting Jesus

In Fact this how many Muslims are converted they experience Jesus and see him. Muslims Visions of Jesus.

Again Materialists need dismiss everyone out of hand without giving reasons why that should be.

See above.

4) Have You Ever Seen A Hypnotic Show

Anyone who has studied hypnosis knows that it is Mesmer or animal magnetism.  Now mesmer was a magician, in these situations Atheist/Materialists see the physical manifestations and do not perceive what it is.

Er… Magicians don’t use spiritual or other-worldly thingies to make their trick work. They use slight of hand, psychology, etc.

Ever seen Darren Brown? Or for that matter, any magician? The good ones will usually tell you that they don’t use any psychic powers. Look up James Randi on YouTube, or Penn & Teller.

5) Theurgy

I have mentioned the likes of Sir John Dee, the astrologist to Queen Elizabeth I , was into Angel Magic and he once drew a grey alien called Lam who he was communicating with.

Now to make Freemasonry more acceptable his successor as the leader of the Rosicrucian, Sir Francis Bacon withdrew theurgy and cabala from the lower orders and reserved them for higher degrees.  Was Lord Bacon Shakespeare?

I once drew a picture of Harry Potter in my science class. Was I communicating with Harry Potter? I once wrote a horoscope and had a room full of people rate it’s accuracy and I averaged 4.1/5, but I’m not an “astrologist”. I just used a technique called Cold Reading (see this post).

As for the rest…

What the fuck?

6) Intelligence Experiments with Psychics

Well there is not demarcations between the world of intelligence and the occult some of the best spies were conjurers, Alister Crowley was a MI6 agent, Sir John Dee and Sir Francis Bacon were in valuable in the founding of British intelligence.  In “the Cold War”, both the KGB and CIA were heavily involved in psychic experiments.

Again, conjurers use non-supernatural methods.

Look, Bush got the intelligence agencies to say that there were WMDs in Iraq. I’m not all that impressed that the same people did experiments on psychics. Also, see Project Alpha.

Please give me instances which prove materialism?

Sure.

See your hand? What do you think it’s made out of? Phlogiston?

Take a watermelon to the top of a tall building. Make sure that nobody is bellow. Drop the watermelon. Record results.

In the mean-time, I think you’ll have to explain this comment you left on my blog last time…

– I should have really asked are you against the English Grand Lodge and in favour of Grand Orient Fremasons , the originators of Atheism.

The British believe in The Great Architech of the Universe.

“Dawkinswatch” Asks: Why Are You An Atheist?

Everybody’s favourite Internet creationist, “Dawkinswatch” (watching Dawkins so you don’t have to), is opening up his blog for comments from Atheists answering the question: Why are you an Atheist?

He seems to think that these are the most likely possibilities:

– You read the works of Voltaire and became a convert?

– You are a secret Luciferian posing as an Atheist.

– You are a Communist?

_ You went to church when you were younger but never experienced God?

– You want to make yourself God and do not like competition?

-You are a postmodernisand you believe that that there is no ultimate truth?

-You read the works of Charles Darwin and are writing manuscripts of the next “My Atheist Struggle”?

– A Catholic Priest made a pass at you and you blame God?

– You are secretly in love with Richard Dawkins and have not told your parents that you are not like other men?

– You are not convinced evil exists.

_ You believe the ten commandments are harmful to the well being of human kind.

_ You are following a trend?

How many of you are Atheists cause you’re secretly FLAMING COMMIES eh? Go on, out with it.

As for why I’m an Atheist, well, I’m just leaving a comment telling him to peruse some of my blog posts sometime. I’m linking him to:

Asshat: A refutation to some arguments once made on a theist’s blog.

A Pre-Schooler’s Journey to Disbelief: The story of my pre-school rejection of God.

Course of Reason Podcast

You are an editor’s worst nightmare.

Tyler Handley

So my friend just told me that I’m on the Course of Reason podcast. Another friend told me that the episode has been up there for months. Only a lazy bum like me could be on a podcast and not know it’s been posted there for the past four months.

Yup. I vaguely remember recording that last summer…

Anyway, all I really remember about it is coming to the sudden realization that as prideful as I may be of some of my posts I lose 95% of all my eloquence when away from the keyboard and in front of a microphone. I say some stupid stuff so I’m not going to listen to that right now. I’m going to let you guys listen to it first, tell me if I don’t sound like a total fool, and if you confirm that the coast is clear, I’ll listen to it then.

If not for my jabbering nonsensically you should also know that it has Shalini Sehkar and Katie Kish are also on it so listen for them.