Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Inherent Dishonesty of Creationist Debate

Ever since the 2012 Reason Rally, there have been a number of videos popping up both from Youtube atheists like Thunderf00t and AronRa as well as from the subhuman creationist black holes of infinitely dense stupidity like Ray Comfort and his ilk.  As a rule, they all tended to be about the same, where the creationist leads into a systematic circle of gaps for sensible doubt, and argue that all such gaps indisputably prove god.  Presuppositional apologetics were among the things strut out proudly as if they had any measure of validity, and a number of atheists caught in this web engaged in rather futile struggles to try and break out of the ineffable circularity of creationist thinking in order to draw a line.

Well, regardless of how easily one notices the fact that all creationists are indisputable failures at thinking, it is difficult to look at the way people with brains actually managed in those situations.  Part of it is that the way creationists operate is that anything that is too vague, anything that is unclear, is by definition the space where "God" resides.  So as long as you can be loose with your language, God exists.    The argument from ignorance is the way all things are proven.  Anything that could hypothetically be possible is necessarily true so long as your opposition doesn't deny the hypothetical possibility (on account of actually being intellectually honest).  The other thing is that by being as brainless as they are, it is particularly frustrating for people like myself who have such a low threshold for stupid.  Especially since we're necessarily dealing with a stupid which is opposed to listening.  So at some point or other, it's hard not to get annoyed to the point of just telling the creationists, "get the f**k out of my sight, you intransigent filth."

Which is pretty much what they're looking for.  It's nothing more than a game of provocation for them.  And that's because creationism is foundationally dishonest in every way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learning Could Hurt Too Many Feelings

Often times, liberals are associated with following the sort of namby-pamby consideration for "feelings" that creates the shift from using the word "cow" to using the term "Bovine-American."  We're not just supposed to be the guys who think socialism is awesome, but we also think the laws should outlaw the use of insulting language like "Chinese" in place of "Asian"...  as if that isn't technically disregarding the differentiation between multiple distinct cultures...  oh, well.  Strangely, liberal as I may lean, I'm not one of them.

Now I'm not about to say that we should forgo foul language, but that there's a line to be drawn.  There's a difference between using the N-word when referring to black people, and saying that creationism is idiotic.  A key difference here is that in one case, you're talking about people, and in another, you're talking about an idea.  Ideas don't have feelings to be hurt in the first place, and like all liberals, I do care about fairness.  The thing is that a lot of people presume that fair treatment of all ideas means they all get equal "time" and an equal "voice" in discourse...  hence why creationist fountainheads like the so-called Discovery Institute can work in lobbying for "academic freedom" bollocks.  Well, it doesn't quite work that way.  First of all, we can't just take ideas willy-nilly.  We need to be able to differentiate between fact and opinion, at the very least.  More importantly, treating ideas fairly doesn't mean open season for all ideas -- it means putting all ideas under equal scrutiny and upheld to the same intellectual standards.

Well, the fact that people who hold ideas on faith tend to hold them emotionally and without serious thought means it creates an avenue for people to say their feelings are hurt...  as if that puts the scrutiny off limits.  People who do this define "fairness" as whatever-works-out-in-my-own-benefit.  "We can be intolerant of gays, but it's unfair for people to rebuke our intolerance...  How dare you be so cruel to speak ill of our ignorant asshattery!"  I don't buy into this kind of crap.  Bad ideas deserve to be rebuked because they're bad ideas.  If it hurts your feelings because you hold bad ideas dearly on personal faith...  well, tough luck.  You held a bad idea.  Deal with it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tennessee Puts a Stop to Science

So the anti-science bill went through and passed in the Tennessee state legislature, and now the Governor of Tennessee (Bill Haslam) has announced that he's basically sure to sign it into law.  Though there is pressure from people who have functioning brains to urge him to veto, it's not really all that likely that he would, or even that it will end there.  And thus will end science in Tennessee public schools.  It's almost that the same state that held the infamous Scopes Trial should also come full circle and now bring creationism and religious horseshit back into the schools.

I'm sure it's easy to make light of the situation since it doesn't cover a whole lot, but that's exactly the reason why it's so subversive.  Much as with SOPA which had very little detail and very vague language -- which in turn made it open to be a lot more dangerous and destructive than was probably designed.  The other thing is that the opportunity to let creationism or anti-vaccine or climate change denialism into the science classroom is there, but it's only really a risk if there is a significant population in the state who would actually lean that way.  If this same law was passed in...  say, Japan, it would probably not even raise a blip...  because anti-science thinking isn't that strong a movement in Japan.

But this is Tennessee...  a "Red" state...  I don't think I need to finish that sentence for people to see that there's a problem.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bow Before The Mighty Thor!... ium.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a video which featured a series of clips of Kirk Sorenson selling his LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) concept to the masses.  I had made some fraction of a response based on what I'd seen in the video at the time.  Nonetheless, I felt it merited further study, so I looked a little deeper into the literature and now have the need to write a little more on the subject.

I do have to admit that a lot of what I hear Sorenson say sounded more like shpiel appealing to the masses rather than hard science, but that's not to say he doesn't know the science.  In fact, I'm fairly sure he does.  But since the video clips came from public speeches, he's playing to a crowd who really don't know much about the subject.  He focuses a great deal on the shortcomings of the current technology and a lot on the strengths of the LFTR design in terms of efficiency and safety and so on.  The numbers he quotes sound incredibly exaggerated on the face of it, but in fact, they are mostly accurate, if a little misleading.

In reference to this subject, though, I suggest that people watch both Kirk Sorenson's TEDxYYC talk on the LFTR and Bill Gates' TED talk titled "Innovating to Zero," during which he evangelizes the TWR (Traveling Wave Reactor) design.  I don't particularly favor one idea over the other, but I think having the combo of those two videos at the very least helps put some things into better perspective.