The Campaign for Free Expression

Ideas don’t need rights. People do.

There are certain taboos that we coexist with in our society, constricting the wide range of things we could be talking about. Deviants of these taboos are often met with hostile reactions. If you’ve ever openly criticised, say… religion, but never heard somebody say something to the effect of “stop talking about religion! You offend me!” I’d love to move to your planet.

For those of us on Earth, however, there’s the Center for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression. Over the course of the year, CFI will be supporting free expression in taboo topics by holding contests, participating in International Blasphemy Day (September 30, 2009), and much much more. Check out their website at the sexy domain name,, as well as the video below. And, yes, they are trying to get blocked in Iran, China, Malaysia, Cuba, etc.

On a relevant side note, the last time I was in China I found that foreign news sources, Wikipedia, and many blogs (including all of WordPress and all of Blogspot) were blocked by the infamous Great Firewall (on an irrelevant side note, I once climbed the physical Great Wall in houseslippers ’cause my pair of shoes broke). I’ll be going again sometime in July. I don’t know about Teen Skepchick, but you can be assured that I’ll still find a way to keep blogging my dissenting and non-dissenting opinions for the three or so weeks. 😉

Vodpod videos no longer available.


What is the Meaning of SecondLife?

SecondLife is on the whole a boring game. Small modicums of entertainment can be gained by seeing people attachspiritualdarkness_001 couches to themselves as outfits. It is no wonder people are wondering “is there something more than this virtual 3D world?”

Out of boredom, and seeking answers to the great mysteries of SecondLife, I decided to attend a meeting on “spiritual darkness”. Surprisingly, the spiritual people seemed resistant towards me talking about silly scientific concepts like gravity.

Today I learned:

  1. We can’t explain consciousness, therefore atoms are conscious.
  2. Thinking scientifically = cynicism
  3. I am living in spiritual darkness because I’m too attached to intellectual enlightenment.
  4. “multi-dimensional realities make sense to me. this band of frequencies experiences a duality principle that is holographic to the rest of thee system” (see chat log below)
  5. Couch monsters are freaking hilarious.

A lengthy chat log follows. It can be seen either as depressing or entertaining, depending on the sort of person you are. Feel free to read it. Continue reading

Lessons in Logic

So myself, my mother, and two guests walk into a Chinese restaurant. Part of the conversation goes like this.

Mom: The way they grow food here in the US is different from the way they grow food in China. That must be the reason why people have allergies here.

Me: Have you ever heard of the phrase correlation does not equal causation? Yes, thats a possible cause i suppose, but you haven’t said anything to say why it is a better explanation than, say, genetics. Let me give you an example… Chinese people are lactose intolerant. Chinese people eat rice. Rice causes people to be lactose intolerant. Where was my use of a logical fallacy?

Mom: Well… Stop talking about scientific things with people who don’t understand science.

Me: Mom, you do realise that airplanes don’t fall out of the sky just because you don’t understand how they work. I know that this sounds crazy, but the same laws of reality apply to everybody, anywhere, no matter what your cultural predisposition is. Like… this is really insane but whenever you cross the International Date Line in an airplane you don’t fall out of the air.

Lunch Guest: How old are you?

Me: Sixteen.

Lunch Guest: You’re going to change your mind about a lot of things as you get older.

Me: … ?

Mom: That’s right. There are a lot of things that you don’t know yet.

That’s right. Because I’m a teenager, when I grow up I’ll come to realise that correlation does equal causation. And I will come to embrace the fact that the laws of nature operate differently for different people, and that the world is flat if only you believe it is.

Note to adults: Saying that a logical fallacy isn’t fallacious because the person telling you it’s fallacious is young doesn’t make it less fallacious. Also, if you really have some kind of knowledge that we lowly adolescents haven’t got then how would we ever grow older if you didn’t tell us? What good does it do to say “there are a lot of things you don’t know” and not tell us? Absolutely nothing.

Crop Circle: Sign of an Enlightened Era

A 250 meter long jelly fish has appeared on a farm in England, so reports the BBC. But note the following sentence from the article…

She said she was not concerned about tracking down the culprits and the incident has not been reported to the police.

What’s missing from this sentence?

They’re not jumping to the conclusions that it was created by an intelligent extraterrestrial agent! I’m going to go ahead and say that the public, at least the media, has reached a more educated level. Go ahead, read the whole article. At least these farmers have come to appreciate crop circles for what they are: practical jokes which can be beautiful but also costly.

Can I “Borrow” This?

At the beginning of the school year, I asked my biology teacher if I could borrow his Planet Earth DVDs. He went ahead and let me take it home for the weekend and I never brought it back (actually I returned it to him today). This is because I have a huge crush on Sir David Attenborough (the real reason is that I just had no time to finish watching it and I didn’t want to give it back without seeing all of it).

Anyway, I remembered to give it back to him when I stumbled upon and old chat log from September which ended when I told my friend that I had to finish watching Planet Earth so I could give it back to my biology teacher. A quick glance at my Planet Earth calendar hanging on the wall told me that it was now May so I went ahead and posted that on Twitter like so:

Found a message dated 9/13/2008 that I sent to a friend saying that I need to return Planet Earth to my biology teacher soon. I never did.

Shortly after posting this I got several messages from three other Facebook friends telling their stories of how they “borrowed” something and never gave it back. Finding them too amusing to restrict to the confines of comments in my Facebook status message I decided to post them here for your enjoyment.

I have a stapler from the eighth grade.

On my last day at the middle school, one of the people in the office lent it to a group of us to make paper chains to decorate the cafeteria. Somehow, I got stuck with it at the end of the day, but the office was closed for the summer by the time that I got to it.

It’s sitting on my desk. I plan to keep it in my classroom whenever I start teaching. 😛


My teacher once let me borrow a book about “divine suffering” or some such Catholic thing, along with some pamphlets about bread and wine turning into actual flesh and blood. She really needed them back eventually b/c they were precious to her, and irreplaceable.

Then Hurricane Katrina happened.


I stole a tenor recorder and a whole lot of library books when my primary school closed down. It wasn’t like they were going to be using them…


Interesting stuff happens on Twitter sometimes.


It all started with ghosts.

Actually it started with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, but then it moved on to ghosts. A friend of mine from Atheist Nexus, Edwin, said that he believe in ghosts. When asked why he basically cited anecdotal evidence. When it was explained to him why it was not the case that anecdotal evidence is good evidence he simply said “I’m just not as nihilistic as you guys”.

My friend Chris continued the conversation with him…

Edwin (Lahash) says:
you don’t know my logic
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
that doesn’t mean anything, you’re just firing back comebacks so you won’t have to deal with me telling you the truth
Edwin (Lahash) says:
what truth?
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
that your critical thinking skills are astronomically nonexistant and your logic is honestly severely flawed
and that sometimes, like now, you’re a moron
Edwin (Lahash) says:
no, they’re there
if you haven’t realized by now, I’m highly misanthropic
I try not to be though
but it usually doesn’t work
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
what does hating the human race have to do with logic
what the fuck

I took over from there.

[23:10] Elles: K. Well if the Bible’s the word of God it’s true, and the Bible says that it’s the word of God so we know that it’s true.
[23:10] Edwin (Lahash): no its not
[23:10] Elles: Why not?
[23:11] Edwin (Lahash): something cannot prove its credibility by referencing itslf
[23:11] Elles: In my logic it can.
[23:11] Edwin (Lahash): well you’re logic is flawed then
[23:12] Elles: How do you know? It’s logical to me. What’s logical to me may not be logical to you but it’s logical to me.
[23:12] Edwin (Lahash): but it’s illogical in general
[23:13] Elles: What do you mean, “in general”? Do you mean to suggest that the same rules of logic applies to all people in all places?
[23:13] Edwin (Lahash): I don’t know
[23:13] Edwin (Lahash): well, I do, I just don’t know how to explain it
[23:13] Elles: Now you know how Chris and I feel.

So ends lesson one in critical thinking.

Putting it Simply

Recently this article appeared in the Guardian which appears to be accusing Hitchens, Dawkins, etctera of wanting to take away the liberty of freedom of religion and, therefore, not being liberals.

Russell Blackford has a great response here but as it is something that people could potentially accuse the Atheist movement in general of, I thought I’d sum up Terry Eagleton’s error in one sentence:

In all his fancy wording about the “liberal state” he makes it clear that his flawed assumption is that Atheists want to make our beliefs about the harmfulness of religion public policy.

Well, he’s right insofar as we want a secular state in which religious beliefs which require “faith” don’t form public policy. This is for a good reason. We shape our morality around our perception of reality. If your morality is shaped around something that can’t be empirically demonstrated to people  who don’t share that faith (i.e. God told me that gay marriage is wrong), then you can’t expect them to form morality around your perception of reality.

Yeah, I’d like there to be more Atheists in the world (at least fewer fundamentalists), but I don’t plan on doing that by taking public office and banning religion (although I may tax churches). I plan on doing that by the less effective, but “liberally” permissible means of free speech through debating Christians, writing blog posts, while others add to Atheist literature.

That’s it. All we want. Tell me about how us Atheists are just-as-bad-as-fundies again? “Militant” rationalists? Western supremacists? kthx