02-06-16 8:08  •  Outrage at the Rich

Lorraine: The latest figures show that the wealthiest 68 people now own the same amount of wealth as everyone else in America. People seem to be a bit angry right now, or at least outraged, at the rich. Why? Sure, you can be mad at the rich, but blame our government for keeping them there.

Of course we should be mad at our government. But who is our government? Who put them them? Who keeps them there? Us.

Ultimately the blame is on us, the American people, for being such dupes, and supporting the notion that unregulated, cut-throat winner-take-all capitalism was somehow a force for good.

A few years ago, whenever I questioned whether the rich were really entitled to ninety percent of all the world's wealth, I always heard a chorus of voices chiming, "Of course they are!! The rich WORK HARD! They EARNED all those billions!!"

When I pointed out that most of the wealth at that level comes from financial returns rather than actual labor, I heard, "They STILL EARNED IT! They CHOSE good investments!! They DESERVE all that money. Taxing it would be STEALING!!"

Our culture so favors the rich, that even ordinary people like us are required to believe that the rich are wholly good, they are harder workers, they are smarter investors, etc., and their massive wealth is merely a reflection of their genuine superiority over the rest of society.

Well, now the paucity of that position is laid bare. The rich are not a force for good who earned their place at the outflow of every money pipe. They are cheaters who are tilting the board to roll every last penny into their own greedy maws, even if it destroys the world economy and leaves everyone else on the hook for trillions.

I was outraged when outrage wasn't cool. Maybe now some people will see where I was coming from then.

Elna: I understand that socialism scares us, I understand the concept of people being entitled to what they earn, but this capitalistic way of life is getting so far out of hand. I'm not saying outright socialism is the way to go, but changes need to be made.

The problem is the idea that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive. They are not. In fact, where they work today, they work together. After studying the matter in depth, it looks to me like they can only work when used in concert.

02-05-16 9:58  •  Just Knew It Was God

In many of our recent discussions on religion, people of faith have said repeatedly, "What I believe is true for me."

What does this mean? Does this mean that the actual reality differs from person to person?

For example, would an atheist actually be correct if he stated that there is no God, because there actually, truly isn't one anywhere in his universe? Or, do you think the atheist is wrong if he states this, because God does in fact exist and he just fails to "understand" it?

Lorraine: No, the atheist is not bad or wrong for his beliefs, any more than I am wrong for my belief in God.

I would say that neither the atheist or the theist would be wrong, as in bad, for believing what they believe. However I would have to say it is possible that one of them could be holding a belief that is wrong, ie, not accurate.

Bandicoot: Atheists can choose to believe that God is not real - and, to them, it would be true, because their limited experiences would verify that. Based on their experiences, God does not exist, because they have not seen/sensed/felt/known/etc Him.

I really can't agree that people who don't believe in a God are just that way because they have more "limited experience" than people who do. I know many people who have experienced amazing healings, had beautific visions, been comforted in sorrow, witnessed miraculous transformations, and had seeming visitations from an Other...who still are not theists.

As far as I can tell, non-theists do not have any more limited a range of human experience than theists do. The difference is that non-theists can take the same feelings of oneness, comfort, visions, etc., and simply not attribute them to a God. I have heard non-theists say, "I thought it was God at the time, but later I realized it was just a dream." Or, "That was a natural product of the meditative process." Or, "I don't know what that was."

I don't like to leave the impression that non-theists would instantly turn into theists if only they "sensed" God. People are very alike in the types of things they experience. The difference is in what they decide the experiences mean.

I am not an atheist, but I feel that claiming that anything unexplained that one senses must be "Him" is a reach.

Bandicoot: When I say that atheists haven't sensed Him, I mean that they haven't had a moment where they say to themselves "That's God, I know it."

Actually, I know atheists who have had that very experience, but later simply decided that just because they felt that it was God doesn't mean it really was. Particularly if there were entheogens involved....:-)

Bandicoot: You know what I mean. You're just being silly and contrary.

Not at all. In fact, I'm kind of disappointed that you would think so. Quite the opposite, I think this is an extremely important point and I'm glad for the opportunity to clarify.

People do have deific experiences, and describe them by saying there is just no doubt in their minds that it was an experience of God. They just know it was. But, in the absence of any way to verify this, how can we be sure?

For example, are we willing to say that every time a person has an experience that they know is God, it actually, really is God? Or might at least some of them be mistaken?

What about Andrea Yates, who "knew" that God was telling her to kill her children? She really, really thought that her experience was an experience of God.

I suppose we could just make up a little rule, that if it's "bad", it's not really God, and it's only really God if it's "good." But this just shows that people can think they are experiencing God when we would say they probably aren't. It appears that people can be wrong about this. So, who's to say that every "good" experience of God is actually an experience of God, just because it's good?

I hope you see where I am going with this. Feeling that you know something feels exactly the same for stuff you actually know as it does for stuff that you just "think" you know. There is no way to quantify which experiences people have of God are actually God. At least some may not be. So, obviously just "knowing" is not proof.

Conversely, here is another example. Probably the most famous psychedelic moment in all of science was the night that Francis Crick, while tripping on LSD, conceived of the double helix shape of DNA.

Now, Crick has described how the shape "came to him in a flash" and he knew, just knew that this was the shape that had been eluding them. However, he couldn't just go and publish a paper on it the next morning. The flash was a great leap of intuition, but there was no reason for anyone to accept that he was right about it just because he knew, really knew that's what it was.

He had to go back into the lab and devise models and experiments to verify that the DNA was, in fact, shaped like a double helix. He and his team had to identify zipper proteins and work out all the details and verify every step before they could present the claim as fact. Even though Crick turned out to be correct, again, just "knowing" was not proof.

The "I just knew it was God" experience is not actually that uncommon. It is a well-known phenomenon that happens to the religious and the non-religious in every culture. So I feel the distinction I have presented here is important for two reasons.

One, because people love to present the "I just knew it was God" experience as proof that God exists. But clearly, since people can be wrong, it's not actually proof.

And two, because it's easy to dismiss non-theists by saying they never had that "I just knew it was God" moment. But I know non-theists who have had it. Their experience was not fundamentally different from the experiences of theists. The difference is that non-theists are not choosing to draw conclusions about the experience.

02-04-16 9:58  •  Do Guns Prevent Crime?

Carely: I heard a guy on the radio saying that guns prevent crime, so more guns would prevent more crime. What do y'all think? I'm from Texas, and I know a lot of people here believe that guns are the answer to most problems, so I thought I would ask y'alls opinions on it.

Mara: All I know is, at our house we have several guns, and we are prepared to prevent crime!

By the time you are reduced to shooting a criminal we have already failed at prevention, big time.

I'm not saying, don't shoot to protect yourself. By all means, if you must. People do what they have to do.

What I'm saying is, why are people doing crime? If we want to prevent crime, we have to find out why people want to do it and address those issues. Determining and removing the elements that make people turn to crime would be a million times more effective than shooting people after they have already made the decision to do something stupid.

Dr.CrimeLab: I suppose you have some bleeding-heart-liberal ideas for coddling criminals. I assure you it will not work.

While it is important to avoid broad generalizations, we can safely say that the motivation to commit acts of criminal behavior relate to basic internal desires of control, dominance, anger, revenge and display of personally perceived inadequacy. The inherent motivation is the subjugation of another person for personal gain.

This is a pretty broad generalization. There are a multitude of factors, different for every person.

Dr.CrimeLab: He or she is not much different than the rest of us. Except that the criminal prefers “the short cut” instead of the legitimate way of doing things.

Where this is the case, it should be easy enough to address. People can be taught that what they think is the short cut or the easy way is actually the very, very hard way. And, we could make the legitimate way easier.

Seriously. A lot of people are so obsessed with "hard work" that we think life is unfair if it is too easy. However if legitimate behavior is allowed to be easier than illegitimate behavior, the person looking for the easy out will choose to go legit.

Dr.CrimeLab: Fancy theoretical constructs do not solve crime. Instead, determined and dedicated hard-working police officers do.

Uh, no. The "solving crime" that police do is figuring out whodunnit, not preventing it.

Dr.CrimeLab: They are the ones who solve criminal behavior issues affecting society.

No, they don't. By the time the police are involved it is too late, the person has already made the wrong choice and carried it out. And, if police are "fixing" it, why do we still have it?

Dr.CrimeLab: People commit crimes as part of a selfish desire to get something for nothing.

Undoubtedly some do. However, selfish desire is strongly encouraged by our society. We value selfish desire over most other social mores. We insist that people fulfill their selfish desire through specific legitimate channels, but we do nothing to discourage selfish desire. Perhaps we should address this.

Dr.CrimeLab: Criminals develop their thinking processes on the basis of “being owed” something. His or her behavior becomes connected to what they believe is “entitlement”.

This is ridiculous, another hasty generalization along the lines you claimed to be avoiding. People do crime because they are making bad decisions. Once caught up in the prison system, they have no one as role models except other criminals and they do not have the opportunity to learn better decision making.

Recent studies of crime statistics show some interesting new insights. People have often thought that poverty causes crime, and undoubtedly that is a contributing factor. However, the areas with the highest crime rates are not necessarily the poorest areas. They are the poor areas which are located next to extremely affluent areas.

This would suggest that a contributing factor to crime is not exactly low income, but high levels of income inequality. One way to reduce income inequality is to bring the bottom end up. Since our bottom end is so low that it is cruel, and creating a drag on the society, raising it up a notch would solve a lot of problems. Easing crime could be one of them.

Better mental health care, available to all, would certainly be a benefit.

Giving more people easier access to better education would help.

Allowing people who have made mistakes the same opportunity as everyone else would reduce recidivism.

And as a society, putting less value on "things" would help everyone. Putting more value on settling disputes peacefully would help everyone.

02-03-16 9:58  •  True and Free

Twiglet: Do I beleive there is One True Religion? I think there is one true religion for each individual.

It depends on what you mean by "true."

Your faith may be your "true" religion in the sense that English is your "true" language. It truly is completely yours. It truly is the foundation of your mental processes, and truly serves to order your understanding of reality.

But in the larger sense, saying one's religion is a "true religion" is like saying that English is the "true language." English, relatively speaking, is not in any way "truer" than say, Italian, or Chinese. Language isn't "true" or "false," it just is.

Many religious beliefs do in fact appear to be "not true" as in, related to what can be shown to exist. But not being "true" doesn't automatically make religion "wrong." Also like language, religion as a utility or force for good is not measured by how "true" it is, but by how well it works.

Twiglet: Humans have been blessed with the free will to believe in whatever we want.

Technically, humans have the "free will" to believe that heavier objects fall faster, too. However that would be stupid. We have examined falling objects and observed that they all fall at 32.2'/sec²-drag. When there are actual facts, using your "free will" to believe in something different makes you incorrect. That's why most people don't do that. We have the same "free will to believe in whatever we want" about gravity, but people do not feel compelled to utilize it.

When it comes to religion, it isn't just "free will." The reason everybody believes something different about religion because there are no facts to observe to suggest which is actually correct. The lack of any consistent religious notions tell us that there is no reason to think that any of the made up explanations, which are all different from each other, are anything like correct.

02-03-16 2:58  •  Spinning on Hindus

TrailerTrish: People of faith DO use verification from a direct source. They verify their information with God.

I would be interested in knowing how people use God as a direct source to verify that "Jesus died for our sins" or that "Homosexual acts are abomination." What does God do to verify this type of claim?

TrailerTrish: God saying it IS the verification.

I understand. What I am wondering is, where is God saying this? Are people claiming that God says "Jesus died for your sins" inside their heads, and that is how they know it's true?

TrailerTrish: If you are not in personal and sacred communication via faith with God, you cannot...with no outside sources...no level of education...no process of thinking EVER verify these things as truth.

Then why insist that they ARE truth? They could be wrong. In fact, in the case of people who have verified in their personal and sacred communication via faith with God that the earth is 6000 years old, their "truth" is wrong.

What reason is there to think that the conclusions of faith are any kind of "truth"?

TrailerTrish: Because that is what is revealed to a believer.

Believers can be wrong. Why insist that what they think is "truth"? Why not just call it what it is - ideas, which could be wrong?

TrailerTrish: And a believer should be allowed to live their truth - regardless of what that truth is.

That's jumping to quite a conclusion. Where have I ever suggested that believers should not be allowed to live however they want? Do you think I am not "allowing" people to "live their truth" by challenging it? Must I refrain from pointing out that there are jillions of faith claims which appear to be completely unverifiable, could just as easily be totally wrong and in some cases are complete garbage? Where does this beef about "allowing" come from?

TrailerTrish: To the believer....it is truth.

So if a believer believes that the earth is 6000 years old, how is that truth? What definition of truth are you using to make that belief qualify? Just anything anybody really believes?

TrailerTrish: Faith is verified with the believer and their God.

Obviously this can lead to conclusions which are completely wrong. So I disagree that it fits the definition of either "truth" or "verified." But if that's "truth" enough for you, of course you are free to define those words however you like.

TrailerTrish: So, if you have not verified personally that Jesus died for our sins...to you it is not truth.

This is interesting. Can anything other than that also be truth?

Say, suppose you have a Hindu, who believes that his divine Intercessor is called Krishna instead of Christ, and that God's Word is the holy scriptures the Bhagavad-Gita and not the Bible. If he believes, "It's all about observing the proper rituals and honoring service to attain a favorable reincarnation, Jesus doesn't matter," is that truth, also? Is this truth every bit as true as the Jesus died for your sins truth?

TrailerTrish: I am not going to debate this with you.

Well, if you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that the Hindu beliefs might possibly qualify as truth by this criteria then I don't see how you can insist that Christian beliefs qualify as truth by this criteria. It makes no sense.

TrailerTrish: I don't see how my verification process - spiritual confirmation of scriptural truths - would ever work for a Hindu.

Why not? He has scriptures too.

TrailerTrish: I can't imagine a Hindu verifying their faith in the Bible or praying to the Biblical God. Incongruent.

Let's not be silly. Why pretend you think I'm talking about a Hindu with a Bible? I specifically said, his verification is of the spiritual truths of the Bhagavad-Gita.

Do you think your verification works for ascertaining truth, but his verification is leading him to believe something wrong? If so, why?

TrailerTrish: No thanks. I'll pass.

Suit yourself. Another time then.

02-02-16 2:22  •  How Do We Know We Know?

LegendaryZelda: If you believe in a religion...why? How do you know your religion is right?

AppleEyes: Technically, no one "knows" anything (in the strictest sense of the word). Not being omniscient, we humans deal in accepted truths rather than absolute truth, and these acceptances are what we call "knowledge".

So when someone says they "know" their religion is right, they're really saying that their religion is an accepted truth to them, just like anything else we accept as truth.

I'm not really seeing these as equivalent. True, we do not have "absolute" knowledge. But what we call knowledge is not just another story which is accepted on faith. There is a direct manifestation of reality with which we are interacting, and which serves as continuous, direct evidenciary experience of it. Physical principles can be examined and confirmed. Physical dimensions can be measured. What is learned by this examination is actual knowledge and it is in a whole different class than supernatural posits.

Knowledge is not "accepted as truth" on faith. It can be shown.

AppleEyes: Faith can be shown too. Some people wear their faith on their sleeve.

I mean, knowledge can be shown to be accurate. For example, "Objects in earth's gravity well fall at 32.2'/sec²-drag" is knowledge which can be verified. No one has to simply accept or decline this based on how they "feel" about it. They can drop an object and measure the rate at which it falls themselves.

Knowledge does not have to be accepted on faith. Any person can personally verify it, if they care enough to make the effort.

Now, take a typical faith claim, like "Jesus died for your sins." How can I verify this? Where in the universe can we look to find some evidence that this is the case? Some people said it, but people can say anything. What does this even mean? How is this comparable to knowledge?

AppleEyes: Oh, I see what your problem is. I think you're using the word "knowledge", but you're actually only referring to "facts". Is that correct?

I am using knowledge to refer to "what is known."

AppleEyes: Knowledge isn't always true. For example, having a working understanding of the history of our country is "knowledge". That doesn't mean that the accounts are true or verifiable. It just means that the story is the officially accepted truth.

History is a story, and our knowledge is of what the story is. Historians are quick to acknowledge that the story is not "truth"....it is, at best, reporting. A historical fact might be "We have a manuscript which states X." This fact is verifiable, in that anyone can verify this manuscript exists and reports X by going to the place it is stored and reading it. No one "knows" that the history reported in the manuscript is certainly true and historians do not claim it is.

The deeper you get into academic discussions of history, the more it starts reading like "Herodotus wrote that..." and then "Mercer stated in The Athenians that Herodotus wrote that..." etc. The facts are that someone said it or is reported to have said it. No one is required to believe that the reporting contained within is accurate, and there are plenty of disagreements about conflicting reports.

Historical knowledge is knowledge of what people said. Luckily, that is usually good enough for what we require of it.

AppleEyes: I'm saying that faith is like knowledge in that both are perceptions of truth.

How is faith a perception of truth?

AppleEyes: Our feelings are just as much a part of us as our digestive system. Just because our feelings can't be dissected and studied under a microscope does not negate their validity.

Nowhere have I ever stated that feelings are not real, that they are not part of us, they are not valid, or that they do not matter. However feelings are not an arbiter of truth. And why do they need to be? We can check.

AppleEyes: But as I said in my very first statement, we don't know anything. Not 100%.

This is the main premise I am disagreeing with.

I'm going to suggest that knowing with 99.99% certainty is good enough to pass for valid knowledge. I disagree that because we have to settle for 99.99% certainty, that we should then proceed further down the probability scale until we accept 0.00% information based on pure conjecture as valid knowledge.

AppleEyes: So since guesses are all we have, that's what we have to build our reality on.

I disagree. Information that can be verified is much better than guesses, and we have plenty of that to build our understanding of reality on. As for the parts where there is no information, why bother to build anything there? What's wrong with an honest "I don't know"?

AppleEyes: I'm saying that truth exists but we do not KNOW what it is. We only have within our possession, our limited perceptions of truth....

Well our perceptions may not be perfect but it is obvious that we are not completely in the dark. There is plenty of reason to think that our perceptions of reality are providing us with a fairly good idea of what we are and what is around us.

Our perceptions do not appear to be arbitrary. They seem to be directly correlated with a reality.

AppleEyes: ...and ultimately we cannot tell anything for sure.

Does that mean that the speed of objects falling in earth's gravity well is not known?

AppleEyes: Technically, yes that's what it means.

Then why does it work? How are we able to use our understanding of earth's gravity to build rockets with enough power to achieve escape velocity? How are we able to use our understanding of gravity to steer spacecraft through our solar system exactly where we want them to go if we do not have actual knowledge of it?

It's easy to say that, since "technically" we don't know anything, there is no difference between accepting working knowledge claims as true and accepting religious claims as true because it's a big ol' leap of faith either way.

I am drawing a distinction. I am saying that accepting the claims of working knowledge based on substantiation is entirely different than accepting unsubstantiated religious claims, particularly about the total unknown. Other than - maybe - rejecting the idea that all we perceive is not real, accepting working knowledge claims requires no leap of faith. The evidence of the truth of our understanding of reality is all around us and permeates every instant of our existence. The evidence of working knowledge claims are available for any person to examine and confirm for themselves. On the other hand, the evidence for "Jesus died for our sins" does not exist anywhere. It cannot be confirmed. It's just something people say.

It seems to me that the point of emphasising that "technically we know nothing" is to drag actual working knowledge that we actually know for real reasons into the same category as religious claims, and they are of an utterly different magnitude.

01-29-16 9:27  •  Law of Averages

AppleEyes: You are as much of a believer as me, if not more, with your "seems likely". There is no difference between saying something "seems likely" and accepting it on faith.

Except that things only "seem likely" based on the facts of the matter.

AppleEyes: Things can seem likely based on belief, too, even in the complete absence of facts.

For example, it seems likely that Earth isn't the only planet with intelligent life. But I have no facts to back that up.

Why does it seem likely?

AppleEyes: It has to do with the law of averages.

Averaging what numbers?

AppleEyes: The Law of averages isn't an actual mathematical equation. It is based on the belief that things average out. It's like when you flip a coin 20 times and it lands on heads, the law of averages suggests that the next time you flip it, it will land on tails. Why? For no other reason than "it's due". The law of averages is just a gut feeling.

Okay, I read the wiki on "Law of Averages." Since you are not using actual numbers, it seems that you are invoking the lay usage of Law of Averages and not the Law of Large Numbers.

What the wiki seems to be saying is that the Law of Averages is wrong.

Belief that an event is "due" to happen: For example, "The roulette wheel has landed on red three consecutive times. The law of averages says it's due to land on black!" Of course, the wheel has no memory and its probabilities do not change according to past results. So even if the wheel has landed on red 10 consecutive times the probability that the next roll will be black is still 47.6% (it would be exactly 50% if there were no green zero). Similarly, there is no statistical basis for the belief that a losing sports team is due to win a game or that lottery numbers which haven't appeared recently are due to appear soon. This sort of belief is called the gambler's fallacy.[1]

AppleEyes: Exactly, I am using the Law of Averages, NOT the term Law of Large Numbers.

Here is what I was asking.

1) You gave the example of the "coin toss" to show the law of averages at work. This would seem to be averaging the results of coin tossings. What are you averaging in the extraterrestrial life example?

2) According the the wiki, the "law of averages" is wrong. It's a logical fallacy. How do you figure that invoking a logical fallacy which is known to be wrong lends any kind of "likelihood" to your proposition?

AppleEyes: How could other intelligent life be unlikely? There are over a trillion planets in the universe!

So, instead of coin tosses, what you are averaging is the instances of planets. That's what I thought.

AppleEyes: The Law of Averages isn't wrong!

Tell it to Aristotle. The "Law of Averages" is a known logical fallacy. You don't just get to declare it not wrong.

AppleEyes: It's just not based on any mathematical factors, and therefore can't be proven accurate.

It has been shown to be inaccurate using Bayes' theorem. If it is not accurate it lends no actual "likelihood" to your assertion.

AppleEyes: You don't get to declare it not right.

I am not the one declaring it. The Law of Averages is a known logical fallacy, and it can be demonstrated to be such using Bayes' Theorem. If you think you know more about it than generations of logicians, mathematicians and philosphers, perhaps you had better go edit the wiki and set the world straight.

This has been a complex discussion so I'd like to do a quick summary of my disagreement with your position.

You : Belief and seems likely are the same.

Me: No, they are different, seems likely is based on facts.

You: Sometimes, but it can also be based on belief. For example, Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (ETI) seems likely. But, this is based on no facts.


1) I disagree that the non-fact reasons you produced are actually showing any likelihood. What kind of likely-seemingness is demonstrated by a logical fallacy, or by notoriously unreliable "gut feelings"? Without acknowledging any factual likeliness, the assertion does not contain anything which actually bears upon the probability.

2) I disagree that the "seems likely" which you are presenting here is actually devoid of fact. You are basing it squarely on one big fact - the fact that the universe is huge and contains trillions of places where life could arise. This fact is absolutely acknowledged in introducing the Law of Averages, despite the fact that the L of A is itself a fallacy.

So, I disagree that belief and "seems likely" are the same. I disagree that "seems likely" can be based on nothing - whence the likelihood? I disagree that the Law of Averages says anything about ETI likelihood, because it is a fallacy. I disagree that you are deriving your opinion that ETI seems likely without any facts, because by assessing the largeness of the world possibility sample you are introducing a dispositive fact - the fact that it's a big universe.

The one thing I don't disagree with is that it seems likely that intelligent life exists elsewhere. However my reasoning is different.

Since I am willing to use facts, I do not have to rely on a logical fallacy like the Law of Averages to explain my reasoning. By acknowledging a fact - the fact that the universe contains a very large number of places - I can introduce the Law of Large Numbers, which, unlike the L of A, can actually be true. Therefore I would say that the Law of Large Numbers is what makes ETI seem likely, NOT the Law of Averages.

This, combined with the latest research - showing that life can develop very easily in a variety of environments - provides a lot of data to show that life and the possibility for intelligence elsewhere seems likely. Seems likely, based on facts.

I don't "believe" there is intelligence elsewhere. I don't "believe" there isn't. It is unknown. But because of the facts, it seems likely.

01-29-16 9:27  •  Not a Terrorist

VeeBeeDee: Breaking News! Two arrested at Disneyland Paris after guns, ammo, Koran found in suitcase

Two people were apprehended with guns and a Koran checking into Disneyland Hotel in Paris. The Koran is said to be a French translation.

Mary: Well that's some crazy shit. Evil Arseholes!

Sue: What is the world coming to? Thank goodness the Paris police were on top of it, think of the lives they have saved!

Ann: I am glad they were stopped, there are children there and families. Any killing is horrible, but children being hurt is worse somehow.

So he must be a terrorist. Anyone (besides an American) who conceals a gun is a terrorist. An American who conceals a gun is a patriot.

VeeBeeDee: Ooops, turns out it was just a guy who had these 30-year old guns from when his mom cleaned out his room and didn't have anyplace to put them so they ended up in his luggage while he took his sweetheart on a romantic weekend to Paris Disney.

So, not terrorists.

VeeBeeDee: Did I say they were terrorists?

Who cares about you? First of all, the news articles you posted initially clearly treated this as a terror-related event. The second article even refers to this as an "attack":

Rónán Ó Flaithearta, 22, who is staying at the New York hotel with his girlfriend, was inside Disneyland when the man was seized. He said the first he knew about what had happened was when he saw it on Twitter. He spoke about the heightened security at the hotel and the park in the wake of the attack.

What attack? How is just being discovered with a gun in a suitcase an attack? Or does it have to be a gun and a Q'ran together to constitute an attack?

Secondly, it was immediately treated as a terror incident by posters. For example:

I am glad they were stopped, there are children there and families. Any killing is horrible, but children being hurt is worse somehow.

Straight to Oh My God, The Children!!

There was zero indication from start to finish that this was intended to be a killing spree. Where did this come from?

Thirdly, my original point. Everyone was so grateful that they were stopped! Why? I thought we like people to have guns? Suppose there was an actual terrorist at Paris Disney that day. This guy would have been the ONLY good guy with a gun who could have taken them down. He would have been a bigger Disney hero than Prince Charming! Americans would kiss his feet for having a gun in his luggage that day.

Having a gun in one's luggage at a hotel, even in a place where guns are not permitted, is not a moral affront. It certainly isn't an international incident. It couldn't be less terror-related.

Why are we even hearing about it?

VeeBeeDee: It was on my news feed.

Why? Hint: There is a reason. We like people with guns, but not with guns AND Korans.

This incident was magnified out of all proportion for one reason, because the presence of a Koran made it a hysterically short jump to terrorism.

There is nothing to get people stoked with in-group fever like flashing them the religious symbols of the outgroup.

Luckily the Minute of Hate was short-lived. Congratulations on getting people worked up about the children over nothing to foster ingroup / outgroup division.

WaterVine: I get you, VeeDeeBee. I'm sure if RaverLady were at disney land with her children and saw a guy armed with guns reciting verses from the Koran her first thought would be: yep, no reason at all for officials to be suspicious, carry on... lol.

See how effective the Minute of Hate was? The villain was transformed from a guy who had guns in his luggage because his mom wouldn't store them into a psychopath, armed with guns in the public square, chanting aloud the evil OTHER religion and getting ready to kill your children!!

Hate should not be this easy.

WaterVine: I didn't pull this out of my ass, it is a national security threat EVERYONE is aware of.

The distance between what actually happened in this case and how you portrayed it is the exact size and shape of your hate.

WaterVine: It's not prejudice. If you saw a Christian guy walk up to planned parenthood with multiple guns, maybe dressed in a trench coat (stereotype of other mass shooters), reciting bible verses about what will befall those who harm children- what would your first thought be?

Again, nothing like what actually happened in this case.

WaterVine: It would be the logical connection some would make working security at the park. That would be a potential scenario that could arrive from the evidence. WORTH INVESTIGATING.

Of course it was worth investigating. Of course it was worth stopping the breaking of park rules.

THIS is what it was NOT worth:

Disneyland Paris gunman's hotel guests reveal terror of security crackdown as armed police hunt accomplice

Gunman? The "terror" of a security crackdown? They were checking room keys! That is not terror. Accomplice? She was his lady friend.

He spoke about the heightened security at the hotel and the park in the wake of the attack.

There was NO attack.

This was also not warranted:

I am glad they were stopped, there are children there and families. Any killing is horrible, but children being hurt is worse somehow.

Evil arseholes!

I'm sure if RaverLady were at disney land with her children and saw a guy armed with guns reciting verses from the Koran....a Christian guy walk up to planned parenthood with multiple guns, maybe dressed in a trench coat (stereotype of other mass shooters), reciting bible verses about what will befall those who harm children....

What is actually warranted is more like this:

Actually, if you visit a Disney resort hotel in Florida, you may leave your gun(s) with hotel security upon check-in. At the park, you may leave your gun(s) in your car or with security at the entrance to the parks.

The guy bought the guns for self-protection. This is not like a crazed Christian in a trench coat ranting bible verses as he prepares to shoot up a clinic, or like an Islamic jihadist, or like any crazy person who intends harm of any kind. This was an ordinary person who had guns for self-protection, which in America we are supposed to think is the absolute height of heroism, caution, safety and liberty.

How could this paragon of virtue, everything an American admires, a man who had his own guns for self protection, be turned into the villain you describe, waving his guns at the innocent public, chanting maniacally and ready to mow down children?

Because a Koran was there?

01-29-16 8:42  •  Creationism in School

Marion: Can you believe this is still happening in this day and age?

Legislators in Oklahoma have proposed another bill requiring that creationism be taught in school!

"I have introduced legislation requiring every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution," Senator Hutchins wrote in the Dec. 24 Durant Daily Democrat.

JennyMae: Evolution is just a theory. Creationism is also a theory. Nobody knows how the universe came to be. Its all a bunch or theories.

First of all, evolution is not about how the universe came to be. It's about the origin of species on earth.

Second, there is physical evidence - mountains of it - to support evolution. There is no physical evidence to support any kind of "creation" story. They are not equivalent.

JennyMae: And people who believe in creation would argue that they also have mountains of proof.

Let's see it.

JennyMae: Well, I don't know if there is, but there isn't any evidence of evolution that holds up either.

From Nature Magazine (.pdf)

Given that the concepts and realities of Darwinian evolution are still challenged, albeit rarely by biologists, a succinct briefing on why evolution by natural selection is an empirically validated principle is useful for people to have to hand. We offer here 15 examples published by Nature over the past decade or so to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking.


Gems from the fossil record
1 Land-living ancestors of whales
2 From water to land
3 The origin of feathers
4 The evolutionary history of teeth
5 The origin of the vertebrate skeleton

Gems from habitats
6 Natural selection in speciation
7 Natural selection in lizards
8 A case of co-evolution
9 Differential dispersal in wild birds
10 Selective survival in wild guppies
11 Evolutionary history matters

Gems from molecular processes
12 Darwin’s Galapagos finches
13 Microevolution meets macroevolution
14 Toxin resistance in snakes and clams
15 Variation versus stability

JennyMae: But still what it all comes down to is what a person believes.

No, that is exactly what it doesn't do. It comes down to what can be shown to be accurate with physical evidence.

JennyMae: Explain to me how evolution is 100% fact.

Nothing in science is 100% fact. Science is about learning to be less wrong. If you are willing to keep trying and learn from your mistakes you can use science to get information that is good enough to work, and keep refining it as you go.

That said, every new discovery made in biology, genetics, anthropology, geology, etc supports evolution. It appears to be the central organizing principle of life.

JennyMae: So you tell me..what makes you, the schools, any of these links or myself any more right than the other?

Some statements can be supported with physical evidence. Those are the ones that are more right. If you want to know which ones, you can check.

JennyMae: What I'm asking is what makes one theory more right than the other?

One seems to be true and the other seems to be false.

JennyMae: Evidence or not it can always be disproven.

Not so far.

JennyMae: It will always come down to a belief.

Not if you care about the truth.

Carrots: If they teach this theory they are also going to have to teach my extraterrestrial cephalopod theory. For their convenience I have even provided a textbook entitled "Of Squids and Spaceships". After all, it's wrong to not present all theories.

I want them to teach my theory too - Paradoxical Subsequent Anthropogenisis.

I was thinking one day about how "perfectly" set up the universe is to be a home for humans, almost like it was designed this way. I wondered who would design a custom universe for humans, and it seemed to me that only humans would. Who else could know how?

So, I theorized that far in the distant future, in a realm of enlightenment and technology we cannot possibly comprehend at our present stage of development, our own progeny will discover the secrets of time and energy and universe creation. When we reach the ultimate peak and end of this spacetime existence we will travel backwards through time all the way back to the beginning and start this universe ourselves, to our own specifications.

It's Anthropo-genesis, meaning human-started.

This theory is just as valid as Intelligent Design. Should it be taught in school along with evolution?

Read more in the Archives.