All your gods are myths

It occurred to me while I drove to work this morning that I no longer care to say that I am an atheist because there isn’t any evidence for the existence of any gods. Evidence doesn’t even factor into it. Of course there is no evidence for any god, but why would there be? There isn’t evidence for made up things. I have no interest in debating this with anyone or pretending that there is anything to debate.

We all know that…

  • There isn’t enough water to flood the whole planet at once.
  • No one can live for days in the stomach of a fish.
  • Virgins don’t have babies.
  • Stars don’t point out the positions of imminent births.
  • Dead people don’t resurrect.
  • Natural disasters aren’t the results of an angry god.
  • And so on …

We do know that all of those kinds of things happened in myths. Now you can be like my extended family member who provides “scientifical” explanations for the things in the Bible, but who believes in it anyway, or you can be logical, and conclude that the Abrahamic religions are mythology and nothing more. Because that’s what they are. So are all the gods of all religions. We made them all up.

If stories contain elements that look just like myths, it’s because they are myths. It’s that simple. I will never again debate this with any sort of religious apologist. There is no point. Anyone who insists on bringing up their gods to me is simply not worth my time. When they do it at work, I can, of course, politely decline the debate. Online is another matter.

Cognitive dissonance is amusing

Firstly I must apologize… I don’t get time to write here much any more. But as I install a new laptop, I might as well write a little while I wait for the downloads to complete…

We have this application at work that someone else has been working on, an app to batch process a bunch of identification verifications for a third party. That is, given the ID number of thousands of people, determine whether they are valid identities, their marital status, deceased status, and so on. The people involved were having a discussion about optimizing it to first remove the ones we already have data on showing they are deceased. No need to reverify someone you already know is dead, I guess…

Of course, since it was just before the Easter weekend and all these people are Christian, I couldn’t help myself… So I was like… “How come you only have an alive and deceased status? What about resurrected? I mean, you all believe that resurrection is possible, right?”

They didn’t like my joke. Silly people.

But its a good point. You know that dead people don’t come back to life. But you also believe that one person did. That doesn’t make sense. It would be too easy for me to claim that deep down Christians know this shit doesn’t happen, and deep down they don’t believe… But that’s not how it works. That would be the same as my brother claiming that deep down I’m still a Roman Catholic. It would be projection. It’s easy to fall into that trap, to project our own beliefs onto others.

But real beliefs are more complicated. in reality, religious people can simultaneously know that resurrection is impossible, but also believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It’s stupid. And as long as you clowns believe in bullshit like that, this clown will mock you for it.

Happy Easter. Jesus didn’t resurrect because shit like that doesn’t happen. But I do believe in chocolate so I thank him for dying so that I may eat lots of chocolate.

Priest fired for saying the wrong magic words?

I wrote this post on Facebook last night and maybe it’s worth expanding here…

Earlier, Josh asked me to explain the definition of satire…

Funny how difficult it is (for me anyway) without looking it up. I explained it as using humour to criticize something, to mock it, and often using parody for the mocking part, which creates an equal but absurd criticism of the thing. So it uses humour but is really serious.

My example was telling him about that priest who was forced to resign because of 20 years of botched baptisms, because he said “WE baptize you in the name of Jesus” instead of “I baptize you…”, and that my parody of it was to write a status on here suggesting he botched the baptisms because he forgot to say “abracadabra”.

But it’s a great example, isn’t it? I mean, the more I think about it, the more similar it is. He didn’t say the right magic words in a meaningless ritual, and absurdly, the church now claims all those baptisms “don’t count”. It’s so fucking stupid, it almost parodies itself.

Imagine believing in such absolute fucking hogwash.

Here’s an article about that priest. The story is legit.

It’s even been commented on by Father Nathan Monk here… He’s a former priest but now atheist and writer as well as social media personality – one who often triggers angry Christians because he still uses the Father moniker. The thing is, he’s a qualified Catholic priest, so he an use that if he wants to. Anyway, his point is that the church isn’t playing by its own rules here… They allow any baptized person to perform a baptism in certain contexts, and accept baptisms from Christian converts of other Christian religions. So why be so hard on this priest? It’s fucking goofy.

We’re losing the war on misinformation and willful ignorance

We really are.

I’m going back to work today, after isolating due to covid-19. I got the new omicron variant (I presume), with symptoms so mild, I at first thought it was just a cold. And it looks like my prediction is on point… This variant is becoming the dominant covid variant. It’s taking over. That’s good. That’s great! The pandemic is going to fizzle out. Everyone who hasn’t had the disease will get it pretty soon now, and we will all have immunity to the basic virus, at least as far as getting seriously ill is concerned.

But there’s a flip side to this. I have an anti-vaxxer sitting right beside me at work. Nobody is mandating that he get vaccinated. Soon it won’t matter because we’ll all be immune anyway. I’m hearing about people winning their court cases for refusing vaccinations. Maybe it’s only hearsay? I fucking hope so but it really is starting to feel like we’ve lost the war on misinformation.

Welcome to the age of idiocracy.

People are stupid–volume 667. Reverse image search is your friend.

Normally I’d post this kind of meme analysis on Facebook… I have a much wider audience there and that’s where this came from, but what with my current 30 day ban, I can’t do that. If I remember, I’ll link to this post on there when I’m paroled from Facebook jail.

People are sharing this bullshit credulously:

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Make no mistake, UK prime minister Boris Johnson is a twat, but that’s not Ghislaine Maxwell. The innuendo here is baseless. That’s his ex wife. No need for further analysis. Think before you share shit credulously.

Also just by the way… You Q-Anon folks are idiots.

Edit: The text around the original share is even worse. It’s this shit, and this is why I do not hesitate to call anyone passing it on credulously an idiot. I don’t know if it will stay up, but the original post is here.

DAY 1 MONDAY … NOVEMBER 29TH, 2021
Ghislaine Maxwell , daughter of Robert Maxwell a Mossad Agent, eventually became the partner of Jeffrey Epstein. Both walk on water in the upper stratosphere of Elite Social Circles using Jeffrey’s private island as lure for getaway. I suppose everybody that’s anybody earns an invite to travel by Lolitta Express to a carefully planned layout which featured an Egyptian style Temple at it’s apex, the hilltop. The religion is Satanism. The currrency is children. Leaked video from camera’s set on numerous levels underneath the Temple make certain the Island’s decor was more than simply a favorite motif. Pedophilia & flesh & blood sacrifice of innocence, seem a rite of passage to insider world power, and a means of control simultaneously. ….. A bit of trivia – – – Question: ‘Who else owns a private island a few miles away from Epstein’s Island’ ???? … Answer : Joe Biden

Mind you, ‘idiot’ is a somewhat generous label here.

New COVID variant… Much ado about… something?

Excuse me but this constant fear mongering is getting out of hand.

Most people I know, including myself, are vaccinated. I haven’t heard of anyone I know, or even a friend of a friend… getting COVID-19 in almost a year. But now there are all kinds of articles trending about the terrible new variant. A friend in the UK is musing on Facebook about how terrible things are here in South Africa, which kind of misses the point… Buddy, if the new variant is here, it is already there too. You can assume that, and the same for the USA. What isn’t clear is if the new variant really mutated here, or if our local scientists, keen for a pat on the back, were too quick to announce their discovery of the variant. Like… “Well done, SA scientists. You are very scientifical. Now we will block flights to/from your country” and they kick us all up the arse.

Am I being hypocritical? “Trust the scientific consensus”, I always say, but… I do not trust the articles trending on Facebook. I do not trust knee-jerk reactions to what looks very much like fear mongering. Trust science when it comes from scientists. Unfortunately scientists don’t write a lot of articles. They do publish papers, but those things are not easy to read. Right now, I’m not seeing anything from the sources I trust. What this means is that there is a lot of nonsense out there on the web, and it’s hard to know what to take seriously.

So… I don’t know. My gut feeling is this is mostly fear mongering, and those of us who are vaccinated should be fine. Just be safe, I guess. Until we have anything more solid, the best info I can find on this new variant is this article from the BBC.

How bad is this variant? Unclear. But if you think it only applies to “backwards” South Africa, you’re missing the point.

A blog-post about nothing in particular

I’m bored. And tired. Tired and bored; and bored and tired. And sick and tired. But mostly bored, so I’m writing about whatever is on my mind and won’t stick to one subject here.

Fuck Kyle Rittenhouse

I’ve been following the Kyle Rittenhouse case. In case you don’t know, 17 year old white boy Kyle took an assault rifle to a protest in a different state to his own in the US, during the protests for the death of George Floyd, and there, he shot three people. Then, he claimed self defence, and was found not guilty of all charges.

I find it really difficult to take their verdict seriously, and, much like my disbelief in all religions without reading their religious texts… No, I don’t need to have witnessed the court proceedings. I don’t need to know the details to be able to come to a reasonable conclusion. Here’s why… He was there. Right smack bang in the middle of the protests, right when many alt-right white supremacist militias had been known to be causing trouble, 17 year old Kyle was there, in a crowd he obviously regarded not only as the enemy, but as a racist, he would have seen them as inferior… as not even human. The fact that he was there openly with a gun is all I need to know. In my mind, the case should have been about figuring out his intent. Was he there to taunt protesters into attacking him so that he could “defend” himself, or was he really so stupid that he thought his mere presence with a weapon would intimidate people? If it’s the former, he’s guilty of murder; if the latter, manslaughter. Judging by his defence, it looks very much like the former. Either way he is guilty. Everything else is political spin.

And somehow, the takes I’ve seen on Facebook are divided almost exclusively by the political views of the people who write them. Almost, with one disturbing difference. It’s easier to express this as a bulleted list…

  • Progressives: This was a travesty of justice. He went there to hunt people.
  • Conservatives: Justice was served. Those who disagree are politically motivated.
  • Some (white) progressives: Looking at the facts (that came up in court), claim that other progressives “don’t know the details” and they agree with the conservatives.

Both the second and third groups are suddenly experts on self defence. The second group also accept some strange smear campaign against the victims. The other main difference between the two points of view is that those saying he got away with murder express empathy for the victims, and a justifiable concern that this will lead to a precedent where armed men can freely intimidate/murder protesters without consequences, while those who say justice has been served spend much time making personal attacks against the other side.

I have no stake in this argument… although, full disclosure, I lean pretty hard to the left. But the thing is, for me the logical side is to go against the side that engages in personal attacks against their opponents and smear campaigns against the deceased. Emotionally, I’m on the side of the protesters, of BLM, and the victims (of Rittenhouse). And by common sense, I am of course opposed to the emotionally immature guy who took a gun to a protest, to “protect property”. How do I put this? Someone needs to go and defend themselves against Rittenhouse. Permanently. I’m over here in South Africa and I feel threatened.

I have one question? Would all these sudden experts in self defence like to spend some time on other cases? There are many. Women incarcerated for murdering their sexual abusers; graves of black children killed by police for holding guns they didn’t even have, who died without even a chance to defend themselves; and lastly there are other well publicized cases where people were murdered by police in their own homes. If you can seriously see this as self defence and ignore all those other cases, you are just flat out wrong. There is no debate here. I refuse to engage with anyone on Rittenhouse’s side, and although I originally intended to post screenshots of their memes and statuses, I decided against it. Their point of view doesn’t deserve any platform. Fuck them.

Edit: I am amazed though…more like aghast at what I’m seeing online. People posting things like, “Rittenhouse found not guilty. Thank goodness sanity has prevailed”, and claiming that anyone who disagrees is “politically motivated”. Um, no. Sanity has not prevailed. You have it backwards, you racist trash. (The colour of his victims doesn’t matter either. They were BLM allies.) These people are unable to see past their own bias and the irony is palpable. If I go into someone’s house, and threaten them – then they try to fight me off, I can’t kill them and claim self defence. Likewise Rittenhouse did not belong where he was, and we should take anything claimed by his defence with a generous pinch of salt. Also if this protest was such a dangerous place to be, how come Rittenhouse was the only one to shoot anybody?

I don’t know the source of this, but it sums things up nicely.

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Wow. OK, after that, I feel bad to write about anything else, but this post was meant to be a general one… not about anything in particular.

Diablo 2 > Diablo 3

It is though. They released Diablo 2 Resurrected back towards the end of September, and I bought it at the start of October. I’ve been playing it almost every day, and even though the main change is simply the graphics, which are amazing by the way, the game itself, even though it may be a 20 year old game engine, is far superior to Diablo 3. The only thing I miss is Diablo 3’s bottomless potion system. My amazon spends far too much time time trekking back to town to buy potions. But otherwise, the game is way better, way more engaging, and more fun. Of course it lacks end game content like rifts, but I have never finished Hell difficulty so that doesn’t matter yet.

My level 77 sorceress is stuck. I can’t even get past some low level zombies on the very first level of Hell difficulty, as they are completely immune to my main attack, and almost completely immune to my backup skill – such that they instantly kill my mercenary and then have me running around in circles like an idiot, barely able to hurt them. But I can get a tiny bit of XP doing Baal runs in nightmare difficulty, enough to slowly level up and try to make my backup attack better, but it’s painful. Thus I made a new character, an amazon, and gift her some awesome bows and things found by my sorceress. My amazon, who uses an amazing skill (strafe) shooting 10 arrows at a time, wipes out everything. She will probably always be OP since her attack combines physical as well as all elemental attacks, so she’s a lot more fun to play… apart from constantly having to buy new mana potions.

I hope they do a good job on Diablo 4, making it similar to Diablo 2, while taking some of the good bits out of Diablo 3…  either a pet (that can go to town like the Torchlight games), or a bottomless potion system with cooldown delay. But those are practically the only good parts of Diablo 3, other than rifts for end game content, which will in any case be unnecessary if the game world is big enough.

People are stupid, volume 666 – introducing Equivocation

Guess who’s banned on Facebook again? I won’t get into why… Since I can’t comment on there, I might as well share here…

Raul doesn’t get it. Do you?

image

Sorry… it’s two images because it didn’t fit vertically on my screen and would have looked shitty if I zoomed out.

image

First of all, his statement was made to an atheist with a page that parodies the Christian god, and it acknowledged that we created gods. We created the concept of gods. If you want that to count as an acknowledgment of existence (of gods), you’re equivocating.

So what is Equivocation?

Equivocation is a kind of logical fallacy I haven’t mentioned here before. And by the way, although I’ve been writing about these kinds of bad arguments and logical fallacies for several years now, they’re still relatively new to me. That’s the thing… I’m 50 years old now and have only known about these things for around a decade – it’s just that they fascinate me to the extent that I wrote about them the first time I encountered them.

Equivocation as used in an argument is when we use words ambiguously – the same words can have different meanings in different parts of an argument. It’s almost like a pun, but without the humour, and you’re not supposed to notice it being done. You’re just supposed to “lose” the argument.

In the example given here, Raul claims that James’ witty comment acknowledges the existence of “God”. The key word here is “existence”. In truth he acknowledged (or more like claims, but it’s a fair claim) that man created gods, and thus claims that gods “exist” as a concept created by us. That’s not the same as saying that gods exist as actual deities, which is what Raul implies.

And yet, this apparently clever twisting of the meaning of a word was not even intentional. That’s what fascinates me about logical fallacies. They’re common. Some of them are quite complex. Twisting the meaning of a word like that, at least when done deliberately as a pun, is considered clever. When it’s wit… irony… even sarcasm, we tend to look up to those kinds of statements. And yet when it happens in an argument, it often happens by accident; we either don’t notice it, or like me here… judge it and look down on it.

Isn’t that fascinating? It is to me.

And yes, if someone uses equivocation in an argument deliberately, that would be clever. But I don’t think Raul did it on purpose. It is ironic though, isn’t it? Despite thinking we are logical, when we argue, we come up with nonsense like this all the time… Bad arguments that are so bad, they’re kind of clever by accident.

Friendly reminder: We are ALL affected by the Dunning Kruger effect. (Vaccines work)

Briefly, in case you didn’t get it from the title, this is a post about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and our confidence in them. Most of us (correctly) trust these vaccines, but some people, having fallen victim to their own overconfidence in knowledge they do not possess (but think they do), do not trust the vaccines. I’d like to remind you how the Dunning Kruger effect works and affects us all.

I’m writing this while on leave for a week. I’m mostly playing Diablo 2 Resurrected, which was recently released with enhanced modern graphics. I did go for my second vaccine jab on Tuesday though, and like most people, I experienced zero side effects. (All I got was a slightly sore shoulder that’s already completely healed two days later.) I’m writing this because I’m amazed that people are choosing not to trust science. [Full disclosure – I was directly exposed to COVID-19 in December 2020 at a work function, where I stayed indoors for a while and assisted someone who had it but didn’t know. Unfortunately I only found out months later. So in theory I may have been infected already but was asymptomatic. I guess I’ll never know.]

Let’s start with the simple definition of the Dunning Kruger effect as per Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a hypothetical cognitive bias stating that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability.

Notice that it refers to everybody. That’s important. We all have limits to our own area or areas of expertise. As a software developer, I know quite a bit about software development – bot not so much (zero) about vaccines. So why do I say you must trust them? Simple: I recognize my own lack of knowledge about this subject, and thus I defer to experts. The best I can do is go with the broadly held scientific consensus. As it happens, I do a little more than that, and read widely about certain subjects, including science based medicine. But it remains an interest of mine, not something I am an expert on. I would never give you medical advice other than to go to relevant experts, and in general, trust in science, including vaccines. It’s as simple as that.

You defer to the relevant experts when you don’t know something. You do not refer to a bunch of idiots on YouTube who parrot widely debunked anti-science nonsense. That’s not how it works.

The Dunning Kruger effect also notes that when we are experts on a subject, we doubt ourselves. Since we doubt ourselves, we double check with other experts to make sure we’re right. That’s what clever people do. Doubling down and telling everybody about a subject we know fuck all about, and should not be talking about, is not what clever people do. That’s what stupid people do. Anti-vax is a position borne of ignorance. Don’t be stupid. Trust science.

Recently I tried to get through to an anti-vaxxer on Facebook, I tried for several days, until he unfriended me for “spreading vaccine misinformation” and “facilitating genocide”. I kid you not. But before he unfriended me, he shared an interesting (OK, I lie. It’s not interesting) rambling and mostly incoherent video on YouTube, which revealed the gist of his position… a conspiracy theory where his opposition to vaccines is really because he opposes “blind trust in authority”.

Here’s the thing: Nobody says you must blindly trust authority. Nobody. Trust the science. Trust the broadly held scientific consensus. Trust the experts – the same ones that multiple governments are relying on in the middle of a pandemic. It’s the obvious, correct, sensible position.

OK, I’m sorry… I’m not doing this to shame him. I’m not going to embed his video, but since it is public, here’s a link to it. I think it shows quite clearly what I mean. It’s rambling and barely coherent. It’s like the poor dude is talking off the top of his had about something he knows nothing about. It’s sad, but don’t forget, people like him are not only a danger to themselves… It’s easy to dismiss them and suggest “Darwin” takes care of them. The real danger they pose is to slow down or stop herd immunity, and I don’t mean the term as used by science deniers a while back… I mean real herd immunity that comes when most of us are immune and the disease is eradicated. Herd immunity is necessary to protect those whose immune systems are so compromised, they really can’t take the vaccine for valid medical reasons. I work with one such person – a guy in his early twenties with a heart condition. He was recently off work for a while because of an enlarged valve in his heart and he is in genuine danger from anti-vaxxers. Him and many others for valid medical reasons. They are the ones whose lives are placed in danger by these overconfident YouTube buffoons.

Dinosaurs disprove god

Today I answered a question asked in a Facebook group, and I’d like to share my answer a little further by expanding on it here.

Firstly, I’ll start with the Facebook post and then go from there. Apologies for the messiness – the tool I used to use for screen grabs, where I then deleted the border colour so it matched the background here, is now broken on my machine, so this was made with the built-in Windows snipping tool.

Screenshot 2021-08-18 191054

To put it into context, this somewhat silly group, Dinosaurs Against Christians Against Dinosaurs, is a parody/meme group, of the group Christians Against Dinosaurs, which itself is a parody of Christians who are against dinosaurs. So it’s a bit of a baffling group, an atheist group filled mostly with atheists who don’t realize that what they are parodying is already a parody. (Poe’s Law then.) At least that’s what it was, but at some point it became a pretty standard atheist group where atheists share atheist memes. And then it got funnier because it was infiltrated by hordes of Christians who constantly complain that the memes are mocking Christians rather than being about dinosaurs. To make things even more confusing, the last few days have seen posts by atheists mocking Christians complaining about the lack of dinosaurs as well as atheists writing posts that parody Christians mocking atheists – meanwhile the comments are filled with comments by other atheists who think they are responding to actual Christians, because presumably they don’t get sarcasm/parody/irony.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a question that, whether asked in good faith or not (it doesn’t matter) – can be answered seriously.

You see, the whole mess and all the parodies of it came about because at the root of all this, Biblical literalists are actually onto something. If the Bible were truly the word of “God”, who knows all things, and this god somehow wrote through the men who put pen to paper, it would certainly contain information about the dinosaurs. But it doesn’t. Further, the way Biblical literalists who call themselves Young Earth Creationists have calculated the age of the Earth, is more or less accurate if one assumes the Bible is literally true. Again, they’re onto something.

If the word of the Bible were truly inerrant, the planet should be about 6 000 years old. Dinosaurs, the last of which went extinct around 69 million years ago, thus prove two things:

  1. The Bible can’t be true. At least not literally.
  2. The Earth can’t be only 6 000 years old.

OK, maybe that’s not really two things. The main thing is, dinosaurs aren’t in the Bible because the men who wrote it didn’t know about them. And thus their imaginary god didn’t know about them either. But of course not. God doesn’t “know” anything because god isn’t real at all. But regardless, Biblical literalists are way smarter than most of us give them credit for… They’ve realized that dinosaurs being real proves their Bible isn’t literally true, and they are above what most Christians do with their cognitive dissonance… They know that once one bit of the Bible isn’t true, the narrative ball of string unravels, and the more you look at it, the more clear it becomes that all of the Bible is untrue. Therefore they invent their own “science” which makes leaps and bounds of ad hoc reasoning to claim that either dinosaurs aren’t real at all, or that they somehow existed less than 6 000 years ago and their god fakes the fossil record as some kind of test of their faith.

I find the whole thing quite hilarious. For an example of what Young Earth Creationists say about dinosaurs, you can head over to the page about it on the Answers in Genesis site. I must warn you though, their years of “study” don’t come close to the stuff I’ve written in a few minutes here off the top of my head.