News From Around The Blogosphere 4.20.11

April 20, 2011

1. Siberian YouTube alien is a hoax – This week a YouTube video has been making the rounds that seems to show the discovery of a dead space alien in the ice. Of course, as it turns out, the tiny “dead alien” is just skin from chicken filled with bread that was painted in “alien colors,” whatever that is.

2. Dilbert’s evolution-denying creator caught using sock accounts – Many people don’t know this but Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoons, doesn’t believe in evolution. What you might also not know is that he often defends himself against critics online under the anonymous account, PlannedChaos in order to give the illusion of impartiality. And when his dishonesty was caught, his excuse was that since it hardly even registers when compared with the worst immoral behavior imaginable that that somehow makes his actions acceptable. PZ Myers offers this hilarious response:

Great. So if ever I’m caught kicking a puppy or lying on the internet, all I need to do is explain that I didn’t kill six million Jews, so you can all forgive me.

Myers perfectly demonstrates what a pathetic argument that is and how it can be used to justify literally anything.

Exhibit A:

3. Jesus loves Kit Kat viral video – Whenever I hear a pareidolia-themed news story about people seeing the face of Jesus in some random object, I love to post about it. Hell, I’m even making a short film mocking the phenomenon. And last year, when a video emerged showing people who allegedly found Jesus’ face in a Kit Kat bar, I probably reported it. But it turns out that it was a Poe, a deliberate hoax that was indistinguishable from a genuine news story. In actuality, it was an experiment to see if they could get the video to go viral.

On a related note…

4. Canadian-Israeli director Simcha Jacobovici claims to have found the nails that crucified Jesus – How does he know? Well, they’re really old. What more proof do you nned?

5. Mitchell and Webb bring us Holistic ER – The group that has given us Homeopathic A&E, also has another video mocking holistic medicine of all kinds.

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Pwned in 10 seconds

April 13, 2011

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.11.11

February 11, 2011
Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Jerusalem UFO video exposed as fake – Okay, so the video looked pretty poor to begin with, giving us nothing but a tiny moving ball of light but it’s still fun to apply more analysis to it anyway. Steven Novella had already done a great critical analysis of the video here where he observed that the video largely consists of a still image with added effects to create the illusion of shaky-cam video footage, but now Phil Plait has found a video posted on YouTube that actually exposes the specific digital editing tricks used to create the illusion of a shaky camera. Unlike other alleged UFO videos, there’s no ambiguity here. This video is a deliberate fake and its been busted cold.

2. Creepy head-mask to punish ‘rude, clamorous” women – Okay, I just thought this story was really cool. This mask was used between 1550 and 1800 to punish women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarrelling. When wearing the mask, it’s impossible to speak. Some of these masks, like the one pictured, even had a bell on them to add to the wearer’s humiliation.

3. Robots to get their own internet – European scientists are working on a network that would allow robots to share and store what they discover about the world:

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.

4. Scientology continues to have a terrible week – I already briefly wrote about the incredible, super-long New Yorker piece by Lawrence Wright on Scientology apostate Paul Haggis, which mentioned that the cult is currently under an FBI investigation for human trafficking. But there are so many highlights to the piece. After finally managing to read the whole article, I got to where Wright talks about fact-checking L. Ron Hubbard’s claim that he was injured during military service and was miraculously healed by the methods now practiced as part of Scientology. After Scientology Spokesman Tommy Davis gave the New Yorker thousands of pages of documents and allegedly admitted that if this Hubbard story didn’t check out, it’d mean all of Scientology was a fraud, Wright and his New Yorker fact-checkers went through the pain-staking process of getting military archivists who are experts in such documents. Those experts concluded that the documents were false, that there was no record of Hubbard’s injuries or of the officer who allegedly signed some of the documents, and that the documents lied about his education and the metals he’d received. Now the New Yorker has even put up a copy of at least one of the documents to show readers precisely how we know it’s a forgery.  Wright has also been turning up on various radio shows to discuss his findings (here and here). It just keeps getting worse for Scientology and they can’t seem to catch a break.

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Homeopathy is a scam – Happy 10:23 weekend!

February 5, 2011

The second annual 10:23 campaign festivities are upon us again. I’m disappointed that the NYC Skeptics have not organized our own creative grassroots demonstration to educate the public about the bullshit that is homeopathy, but events are being organized around the world.

And even James Randi has produced a video on YouTube to promote the event:

I just want to wish everyone participating in the 10:23 campaign this year all the best. Let’s make 2011 the worst year for homeopaths yet!

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Moral relativism from an atheist?

January 13, 2011

I’m usually a big fan of many of the popular YouTube atheists but I was rather shocked when one of my favorites, BionicDance, put out two consecutive videos promoting moral relativism. Because they’re very similar in content, I’ll only embed one of them while just linking to the other here.

Now many have taken issue with some of the ideas Sam Harris presents in his latest book The Moral Landscape, and certainly I think some criticisms are more legitimate than others. But to argue that Harris is wrong in favor of some moral relativism is, as Harris would say, untenable.

I’ve written a lot about morality in the past here and elsewhere and don’t want to take much time right now delving into the multitudes of arguments I could present, so I’ll just keep this brief for now.

We really need to stop using the Christian definition of “objective” which is in fact wrong. Objectivity only means lacking in bias. That’s it. We make objective decisions all the time. To suggest murder is only wrong subjectively or only as a matter of opinion is simply absurd. We have rational, objective & secular reasons to not permit murder that has nothing to do w/ personal bias. and the “is/ought” problem is itself a kind of faith that seems to get parroted in order to close the door to further scientific inquiry.

Now BionicDance responded to this criticism by writing:

“We have rational, objective & secular reasons to not permit murder that has nothing to do w/ personal bias.”No, we really don’t.

Rational? Yes. Secular? Yes. Objective? Hell, no. It’s 100% personal bias.

And to this I responded by saying it’s not. This is how evangelicals distort the meaning of objective & subjective. It doesn’t require the outside agency of a deity or “the universe”. Morality is both objective & subjective. You’re right that it only matters “to us” but to claim that makes all morality relative is absurd. The existence of an other w/ the goal of killing humanity doesn’t negate objective morality within human society. Why is human society not an acceptable arbiter of objective morals within humanity?

I also added that if she at least agrees our reasons for not arbitrarily raping & murdering is rational, then under moral relativism, what makes it rational? It seems that under moral relativism, the most rational option would be to strictly look out for one’s own self-interest & ONLY aid others likely to be in the position to reciprocate. Under that system, nothing could be more irrational than giving humanitarian aid to third world countries who won’t be in the position to reciprocate in my lifetime.

To which BionicDance responded thusly:

Even the outside agency of a deity wouldn’t make something objective because it would be the deity’s subjective morality imposed upon us from without. To be objective, something ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BE THE PRODUCT OF A MIND.There is not, cannot be, such a thing as “objective morality”; the two terms are mutually exclusive as morality is 100% perspective based.

Now the first part, I completely agree with and frequently argue with Christians myself. The existence of an outside agency like a deity does not make something objective but merely that deity’s presumably subjective opinion. I only say presumably subjective because said deity might have objective reasons but simply under the hypothetical scenario of a moral system that’s strictly asserted by an authority, that alone is insufficient to grant that authority’s morality by fiat objective.

However, after that first part, she loses me again. My response to her is this. Again, I contest that definition of the word “objective,” as does every reputable English dictionary. The word “objective” objectively does not mean “cannot be the product of a mind” nor is that meaning part of any common usage. If you want to invent another word for that, that’s fine, but the word “objective” does not mean that. And again, I ask what makes helping those in no position to reciprocate rational under your moral relativity?

Her response:

objective: -adj; not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased (source: Random House Dictionary)If you’;d like to explain to me how ANY mind can be not influenced by feelings, interpretations or prejudice, or can be unbiased, you go right ahead and let me know. People can STRIVE for that, but they’ll never reach it.

Other definitions of objective:-of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

– being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject

– intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings

…all from Random House Dictionary. Still don’t believe me, pal?

To which I responded, you’re helping your case. None of those definitions fits yours. Rather some of them come closer to what you define as subjective. You’re taking “not influenced by feelings” way more literately than intended. It doesn’t mean the one making the decision is 100% devoid of feelings of any kind, only that the decision is for all intents & purposes rationally-based rather than overly based on biases. You’re creating a false dichotomy. It’s not 0% vs. 100%.

That’s all I have right now. I’m more than happy to have a larger discussion on this topic.

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Skeptics & YouTube atheist superstars unite to help Doctors Without Borders

September 17, 2010
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

This weekend, the YouTube atheist community is once again organizing a 24-hour BlogTV event to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aka Doctors Without Borders. For those unfamiliar with it, MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

James Randi, PZ Myers, and Matt Dillahunty will all be participating, as will the Marc Dubois, head of the MSF UK and the following awesome YouTubers:  dprjones, Zomgitscriss, NonStampCollector, ZJemptv, ThePeach, AronRa, Thunderf00t, FactVsReligion, DonExodus2, cOctOpusPrime, Darkmatter2525, LaciGreen, and healthyaddict, COncOrdance, among others.

Please check it out and help Médecins Sans Frontières in the name of reason and freethought.

The Show:
The show will start at 4pm (BST) on Saturday 18 September.
It will be shown here;
http://www.blogtv.com/People/dprjones
To see what time that is where you are go to;
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock…

The Charity:
If you want any information about the charity please contact me or watch my previous videos or go to one of the websites, some are which are;
MSF(UK)
http://www.msf.org.uk/
MSF(US) (Doctors without Borders)
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
MSF(Australia)
http://www.msf.org.au/
MSF(Canada)
http://www.msf.ca/

The MSF(UK) youtube channel is here;
http://www.youtube.com/user/msfuk

How to donate:
On MSF’s recommendation I have set up donation pages at the following sites;
Justgiving;
http://www.justgiving.com/dprjones24h…
THIS SITE ACCEPTS DONATIONS THROUGH PAYPAL
Firstgiving;
http://www.firstgiving.com/dprjones

Both these sites provide an effective, safe and secure method of making donations. You will not get junk e-mails not will your details be distributed.
The pages are open now if you want to donate. They will also remain open for a further 2 months after the show.

The schedule of the hosts and co-hosts:
This video contains the best information that I can give at the moment. There are likely to be some minor changes before the event. I’ll be posting an update video nearer the time with a full schedule.
For the avoidance of doubt, Michael Shermer will not be on the show, but was kind enough to provide the clip used at the beginning of this video.

The e-bay auction:
If you have any items that you wish to donate then please contact;
http://www.youtube.com/user/Proportio…

The MSF’s got Talent competition is open until 12th September. Please watch the video below for details on how to enter. NOTE, mirroring of the video is no longer a necessary requirement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6PKQz…

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The Music Made Me Do it…for FREE

July 2, 2010

The music video for the latest single from Fuji Minx titled “The Music Made Me Do It” has stirred a lot of controversy lately when it was banned from YouTube. That video can be viewed elsewhere here.

But now Fuji Minx is generously giving away mp3 copies of the song for FREE or you can name your price.

Talk about free speech! Check it out.

My religion is a loaded gun
I’m handing lessons out one by one
So shut your mouth and get in line
Cause I need volunteers for my sacrifice

One More (I need it)
One More (I feed it)
One More (I breed it)
One More, I Cant Stop

Don’t you feel like a contradiction
Lining up here for my crucifixion
You judged and juried but still I am free
I speak the truth while I recruit those who sin like me

One More (I need it)
One More (I feed it)
One More (I breed it)
One More

With my feet on the floor
And my back on the wall
From your pushing and all
But you don’t stop
Well you seem to think
That my liking to drink
And being pushed to the brink
Means I can’t stop
I’m letting you know
How it’s all gonna go
Are you feeling along
Cause I won’t stop
I’m in control
Got my eye on the goal
While you’re saving your soul
I’ll be singing this song

The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it
The Music Made Me Do it

One More (I need it)
One More (I feed it)
One More (I breed it)
One More, Oh Oh I cant stop

One More (I need it)
The Music, The Music, The Music
One More (I feed it)
The Music, The Music, The Music
One More (I breed it)
The Music, The Music, The Music
One More, I cant stop
credits
released 15 June 2010
Written by FUJI MINX.
Vocals by FUJI MINX.
Music by Robin Davey & FUJI MINX.

Produced & Mixed by Robin Davey & FUJI MINX.
Recorded & Mixed at GROWvision Media – CA, USA.
Mastered by Jesse Davey – London, UK.

©2010 FUJI MINX™& WTKIS for Worldwide Distribution. Made in the U.S.A. FUJI MINX™ is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved.

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