Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Regal Standard is Not a High Standard

The 2012 Global Atheist Convention is done and dusted, and you know what? All that affirmation has made me hungry for conflict. The muslim protesters this afternoon weren't really to my taste (though I had a polite chat), so fortunately on the way out a little girl handed me a copy of The Regal Standard - a clever ploy to get my attention while circumventing my wrath.

Luckily I was able to find the publication's website. From the site:

"The Regal Standard was designed as a response to the second global atheist convention which is to be held in Melbourne. The atheist convention seeks to deny God, blame Christians for many evils in the world and discourage people from the faith. The Regal Standard acknowledges and honours God, proclaims the many great things he has done through his followers, and encourages people to follow God. The media will not be sympathetic to Christians. We need to produce our own."
In their leading article, a former atheist named Anthony Flew trotted out the age old monkey-typewriter fallacy.

I sent them:

"Dear Sir,

In your article 'I Was Wrong', starting on page 1 of The Regal Standard, you focus on an argument by Professor Anthony Flew about monkeys typing a shakespearean sonnet.

'For the whole 488 letters the chances are 1 in 26^488... The bottom line... It's never going to happen'

Isn't that the same as, say, lining up 488 playing cards, or any 488 arbitrary objects, and declaring their specific combination improbable?

By publishing this argument, you implicitly endorse it.

Looking forward to your reply.

A fellow seeker of truth,

I ended up leaving the paper on the train. Hopefully someone else gets a laugh out of it, especially the article on such unfulfilled biblical prophecies as "there will be a war in the middle east". Good news guys! I think it already happened (several times even).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Someone Is Wrong on the Internet

I'm tired of affirmation. Sure, watching The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and attending atheist conventions is great - I'm right, they're wrong; I'm smart, they're stupid. Feels good. Even my Facebook feed is in on it, algorithmically exposing me to those updates least likely to make me feel anything other than a sort of tribal satiation.

But now I'm sick of it. I want to be challenged, want to argue with people with different ideas, or even just be exposed to those ideas. When I see a bold declaration of God's healing powers in my feed now, it's like meeting an attractive female with similar interests. I don't want to miss my opportunity to make a connection, to talk. I flirt a little, turn on the charm, try and keep the conversation going for as long as I can, knowing it will eventually devolve into nothing after I manage to say the wrong thing.

Clay Johnson in The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption talks at length about our need to escape from the cycle of affirmation. Our mental health and our political system depend on it. I value my christian facebook connections more than my other connections for this reason. They are the ones who challenge me. But I seem to lack the ability to keep them around.

Another two christian friends jumped ship today, and I managed to piss off another New Age friend. Isn't there some way we can be friends and still actively disagree? I try so very, very hard to consider every sentence I utter, and deliver them in the least offensive possible way. Of course, I could just avoid those subjects which may be controversial. Not everyone is as keen to have someone suggest they are wrong as I am. But I can hold out for hope.

How about you? Are you able to have satisfying conversations with people you disagree with? Do you have to be careful about how you do it? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Science > Faith

I love TED. Roaming the website is like the video equivalent of Wikipedia surfing if you removed all of the boring parts. This particular video is the kind of thing that gets my heat racing. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

John Mackay, Creationist

The name "John Mackay" popped up in my RSS feed today. Mackay is a prominent Australian creationist and director of Creation Research, an online ministry funded by donations with the mission of discovering evidence to support biblical creation. 

Mackay has had the good fortune to debate such skeptics as Richard Dawkins and myself (the only time I get to feature in a sentence with Richard Dawkins). Dawkins has since enforced the policy of not debating creationists, but I'm still willing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is the Best Argument for God?

I've just watched a video from the ninth 'The Amazing Meeting' - a popular skeptic meeting - wherein participants were asked to choose what they thought was the best argument for God.

I'd like to put in my two cents.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rocky Horror Picture Show

I've just won two tickets to see Time Warp, a musical tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show at a local theatre. The prize includes backstage passes, and as yet undisclosed "memorabilia". To enter, I had to send an email to the competition address for Lifestyle1 magazine. Here is the email that won me the competition:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chain Email Christianity

I received a chain email from my mother this week. This might not hold the same significance for you as it does for me, but I was fairly certain I had succeeded in training my mother not to do this. Here it is below:
"Money bags
This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
Once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, forward this to
Your friends and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese
Feng Shui. The one who does not forward.....will be without money.

Kinda interesting - read on!!!
This year we're going to experience four unusual dates.
1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that's not all...
Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born - now add
The age you will be this year,

The results will be 111 for everyone in whole world. This is the year of
The Money!!!

The proverb goes that if you send this to eight good friends money will
Appear in next four days as it is explained in Chinese FENGSHUI.
Those who don't continue the chain won't receive.......
Its a mystery, but its worth a try. Good luck."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monckton's Truth Trumps Consensus

Monckton meets Hinshelwood, Photo by: Tash Impey, ABC South East SA

Last night's Monckton encounter was reported today by the ABC. I've got to say, I wish I'd prepared a more delicate soundbyte - I didn't expect to be interviewed. Is it normal to feel this sort of media-anxiety? Listening to the recording now.

While I endorse the ABCs coverage, I would have liked to have seen a paragraph detailing just how many experts have reviewed the IPCC documents and agree with their conclusions.

So here's the rundown:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snivelling Communist!

I've just returned from the Mount Gambier leg of Lord Christopher Monckton's climate denial rampage. While I intend to do a full write-up, for now it's quite late, and I must get some shut-eye.

But let me summarise: I was the lone dissenter in the room. Lord Monckton relayed a bunch of bad science, harped on about communism and the forthcoming one world government, asked the audience to take his word, and when his authority was challenged, shut down further questions, and I was lead off stage by Climate Sceptic Party president Leon Ashby

Somewhere in the middle of Monckton's whining, he called me a "Snivelling Communist". In celebration of my new nickname, this blog has been relocated here, to, where I feel it shall remain.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monckton Ad Hominem

Christopher "Lord" Monckton, climate denier and general charlatan, has been asked to stop claiming to be a Member of the House of Lords in an official letter from the Clerk of the Parliaments.

I find ad hominem attacks distasteful, but here's an unfortunate truth: as long as the majority of people are still swayed by appeals to authority like this one, legitimate attacks on the credibility of the speaker (rather than his arguments) remain the most effective way to affect change in public opinion.

So with that said...