Creationists – sigh

An Internet Creationist said:

We are Christians and Creationists because our explanation of evidence is far superior than your explanation of the same evidence.

I replied:

We are Christians and Creationists because our explanation of evidence is …

… “God did it.”

That – and only that – is your entire explanation.

Except it isn’t an explanation at all. Explanations are used to elaborate on raw data, illustrate facts, simplify complexities and contextualise evidence. “God did it” is about as useful and illustrative as “rainbows are colourful and pretty because they’re angel shit”. It’s also so simple as to be completely meaningless, as all it does is require further explanation – explanation you cannot possibly provide.

Your explanation is a lazy, stupid, ignorant cop-out.

It’s an insult to your own intelligence, to the intelligence of anyone listening to you and to the countless people who have worked and who still work on uncovering actual explanations.

And when your idiot brethren attempt to force your nothing of an “explanation” onto other people’s children in inappropriate venues like science classes in violation of the law, in violation of the facts as revealed by science and in violation of the trust placed in teachers by parents, you’re insulting the children, their parents and their teachers.

This exchange happened here at The Panda’s Thumb, a small (but often highly entertaining) corner of the internet where a handful of clueless creo-trolls wage constant, stupid battle against a slightly larger handful of science-literate regulars, comprised of a few vociferous heathens and the occasional moderate Christian. Drop in if you like!

FTR: No, I’m not some scattergun faith-basher; I’m well aware there’s a spectrum of belief and of believers and I’ve no problem at all with your everyday Christian who tries to live a good life and be a good person. It’s just that sites that discuss evolution tend to attract denizens of the most bone-jarringly stupid (and vocal) end of that spectrum. You know the type: not only are they indignant about sharing 98% of their DNA with chimpanzees (and commensurately ignorant of why that is), they think they have a literal God-given right to shove their mythology down the throats of other people’s children in violation of the law of the land.

Funny how it’s always biology they attack, though. You almost never see creationists railing against physics or cosmology – possibly because “I didn’t come from no monkey” is a far easier bumper-sticker slogan to remember for your average six-toed ten-gallon lackwit than “I didn’t come from no singularity” or “My atoms didn’t come from no conglomeration of matter during the formation of a star”. It also appeals directly to the narcissism inherent in denying their membership of the animal kingdom.

Five minute nightmare

I’m in a sterile grey room. From an apparently elevated position (and through a standard-issue dream-sequence fisheye lens) I can see a gurney in the centre of the room which is set diagonally. There is a closed door in the far wall. A voice says something like “Avoid contact with water for seven days to make yourself truly unattractive.” I notice that strapped to the gurney, under a sheet with her head showing, is a young girl with matted black hair covering her face. The voice, perhaps emanating from a speaker, appeared to be addressing her directly.

It is now that I notice I am also strapped to a gurney; this one is lined up against the girl’s, head to foot. The girl now sits up and her face is drawn and gaunt, mouth agape but silent, eyes pale, sunken and staring at me, unblinking. Panicking, I try to move and to shout “No” but I’m immobilised and all I can manage is a weak “Nnnerrr…”; it’s as if I’m sedated. I continue my pathetic moaning as the girl leans closer and closer. And I wake up.

Phew.

Once I’m awake I’m wondering why the hell my stupid meatbrain decided to do that to me after a 4:45 am trip to the latrine, because it’s now just after 5am, my alarm won’t be soothing me awake with Radiohead’s “Treefingers” until 6:20 and I doubt I’ll get any more sleep now. Doesn’t my brain realise that it suffers more than anyone when I don’t sleep? Stupid conglomeration of fancy twirly bits wrapped around a lizard’s CPU.

And now that I’m thinking about it, why the crap was it a bedraggled zombie girl with long black hair? Ring-esque Japanese horror-hime are so 2001 and besides, I haven’t even watched a horror movie since I caught the original Dark Water on TV in 2003 (which, incidentally, gave me my last proper nightmare featuring actual, literal cold sweat). Why did my nocturnal nemesis have to be a movie trope from last decade? I’ve played loads of scary video games in the intervening years, so why couldn’t it have been, for example, a Left 4 Dead Hunter (at least my doom would be voice by Mike Patton) or a Dead Space necromorph? I’d still be terrified, but I’d be writing “Hey, I was torn to bits by my favourite video game badguy in my dream last night” instead of “Sadako? WTFF?”

But hey, at least it wasn’t a vampire or a werewolf (sorry, “lycan”). They’ve kind of lost their impact, what with all the sparkly, shirtless ephebophilia and stealth Mormon propaganda.

“Damsel in Distress Part 1” – Feminist Frequency

Interesting video from Anita Sarkeesian (you may remember her as the woman who was deluged with harrassment and countless threats of violence, rape and death when she began a Kickstarter program to fund an exploration of Tropes Vs Women in video games) discussing routine depictions of female video game characters as helpless NPCs, plot motivators and lifeless objects.

Check it out and subscribe – not only will you likely learn new and interesting stuff about games from a new perspective, as a fringe benefit the popularity of this series will annoy the living shit out of a great deal of malignant misogynist keyboard warriors.

From 2009, one of my “gems”: a meta-blog. Enjoy.
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Everything Sucks

Yes, of course you do. That’s why you’re on the internet, cruising the interblargosphere. You’re looking for things to read that you might not necessarily agree with but which spark your interest because you’re always on the lookout for a new take or new point of view on something. It might even be something you already have a definite opinion on, but you read on because you like reading things that make you think regardless of whether you agree with them. You’re all about soaking up as many differing viewpoints as you can, but you’ve no interest in entering a comment-battle so if you do object, you do so in silence (possible but unlikely). You may be looking for things to read that you already know you agree with and very little else (more likely). You may even be looking for things to read that not only contradict you but…

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It Came From The 80s – The Flamer’s Bible!

Anyone who’s been anywhere near the atheoskeptoblogosphere in the last two years might well have noticed an undercurrent (or over-current) of hate-speech, flaming, obsessive trolling, twit-stalking and general petulant shit-slinging – especially if the target is a feminist blogger. But it’s nothing new – online communication has been around for ages; as such, the anonymity inherent in it has always provided cover for keyboard warriors to dispatch rhetorical missiles and toxic word-sludge across the globe, the nation or just the building – all with no social consequences.

Without further ado, from some time in 1987, I present a selection of tips for being an Internet Tough Guy:

The twelve commandments of flaming

  •     Make things up about your opponent: It’s important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word “clearly.” “Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot.”

 

This might be familiar. How about: “She’s a misandrist! She’s a Feminazi! She hates men! It was only an invitation to coffee at 4am! She’s frigid!”

  •     Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they’re all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.

 

This one’s never been so important to the career troll: you can’t expect every one of your hate-chorus to just be reading your blog, so to increase your back-pats & pingbacks & likes you need to facebook, tweet, instafreakingram, blog, re-blog and link to everything in whatever dark, mouldy corner of the ‘net where there are no standards of behaviour when it comes to Approved Enemies.

  •     Conspiracies abound: If everyone’s against you, the reason can’t possibly be that you’re a fuckhead. There’s obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.

 

This is now known as the Galileo Gambit: They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right. However, the counter to this comes from Robert Park: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

  •     Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words “ad hominem” at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are “ad nauseum,” “vini, vidi, vici,” and “fetuccini alfredo.”

 

Accusations of ad hominem abound on the internet – usually as soon as someone gets insulted for acting like a douche. However, a true ad hominem is dimissive of an argument based on who’s making the argument, i.e. “You’re a douche therefore your argument is wrong.” Much of the time you hear an a.h. invoked, it is done so in response to a simple insult, e.g. “You’re a douche and your argument is wrong.” To avoid confusion, please be sure to dismiss someone’s argument on its own lack of merit and then call them a douche.

  •     Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.

 

FREEZE PEACH! “Because the country I live in has granted me the right to say anything I want (of course there aren’t caveats – I can walk onto the White House lawn and threaten to stab Barry O because FREEZE PEACH is absolute!), it therefore follows that I get to follow you around the internet and regurgi-hate on every single one of your online properties. The fact that you own your twitter account, facebook, youtube account or blog doesn’t give you the right to decided who gets to talk to you! StasiNazi #bullies baawww!”

Um, yeah it does. A website/media account, as far as you’re concerned, is someone’s property as much as their doorstep or the counter of their store – if you don’t like when they shut the door in your face, try modifying (or at least paying attention to) what comes out of your face.

Go and read the rest – you’ve probably seen all of them in the last week.

And the say rape culture is a feminist fabrication

My privileged white arse it is.

A UK site called solidgoldbomb dot com was until very recently selling t-shirts with the slogan “Keep Calm and Rape On” at their site and at Amazon.

Unsurprisingly, this engendered an almost immediate onslaught of negative criticism and they eventually shut down their FB page (but not before heavily moderating the comments they were receiving).

The company eventually posted a nonpology (here) stating that the offending slogan was generated by a computer program that “ran words from the dictionary.” Be that as it may (I’m being exceedingly generous here) but you’d think a human would be involved at some point of the approval/submission process – or does the program they speak of do everything including approve and submit designs to their website and to Amazon? Unlikely as that may be, that’s still exceedingly lazy (again, my generosity knows no bounds).

However this occurred – malicious algorithms or idiotic humans – the most disturbing thing about this is that significant numbers of people have bought them (I shall leave aside my commentary on the creative bankruptcy of randomly generating words to graft onto an already tired and threadbare meme).

For the record, I don’t buy that this was a “computer error” – at least, not the part where the design was approved and posted for sale. At best, this was (presumably) some lad having what he (hopefully, if foolishly) thought was a harmless lark. At worst, it was a cynical ploy for publicity (which has been successful – although you’ll notice I’ve not linked to the offending site, but to the “Destroy The Joint” facebook posts that brought it to my attention). Either way, it shows in stark relief that rape culture is an undeniable part of our culture at large and not a fabrication by the misandrist uber-femiNazi Bralek Vagylon conspiracy that seeks to neuter all us manly chaps by making us not make manly rape jokes.