Heh. So, some practitioners of “alternative medicine” petitioned Wikipedia to change their rules so that they could over-rule skeptical editors. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales responded thusly:

No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals—that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse.” It isn’t.

Well said.

Child hurt by razor blades glued to East Moline playground equipment

Twelve razor blades were glued to playground equipment. Clearly an effort to injure children. Someone needs to have their ass handed to ‘em.

It’s a pity there aren’t penal colonies that criminals such as this could be shipped to. Someone who glues razors to jungle gyms and swings is someone society doesn’t need.

Temple Student Attacked With Brick

The short form: a 19-year -old Temple U student and her 20-year-old boyfriend were out for a walk in Philly when they were surrounded by a group of 8-to-14-year-old children who verbally berated them, assaulted them, and mashed the girl in the face with a brick, doing massive damage. And… that’s pretty much about it. The story gives no description of the high-spirited little scamps. It does not say what they were yelling at the victims. It gives no indication of what the motive of the attack was. You know… the important items that journalists *should* let the public be aware of.

Odd, that.

Oh, yeah, this aughtta be interesting:

Anti-gay pastor who prayed for Obama’s death demands silence from women in church

“But when it’s learning time,” Pastor Anderson said, hammering his lecturn, “it’s silence time.”

“So what it’s saying is that they,” the women, “are to learn in silence.” He then quoted 1 Corinthians 14 again, saying that “when the learning is going on, they are not permitted to speak. When the preaching of God’s word is taking place — and first of all, it’s not for a woman to be doing the preaching, and second of all, it’s not for women to be speaking.”

“Even the Bible’s really clear on this,” he said. “Even if they were to have a question, they’re not to ask that question in the church, number one. Number two, even if they want to ask that question to their husband, they should wait until they get home.”

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that nobody really learns in silence, but through active questioning. Sure, you can get “facts” (accurate or otherwise) hammered into you by simply listening, but to really understand, you have to have some sort of back-and-forth. If someone tells you something that you don’t understand – either because the concept escapes you, it’s poorly explained or it conflicts with existing understanding – just letting it skate by is not the path to wisdom.

I’m sure, however, that this pastor will be getting an earful from the ladies.

As might be slightly obvious, I am in favor of scientific literacy and opposed to anti-scientific superstitious nonsense. It is a never-ending issue… nonsense is a remarkably self-restoring force. It gets knocked down here, it rises over there.  Witness astrology.

When you have a population that is scientifically illiterate, they can be easily seduced by the siren call of superstitious stupid. And then you get stuff like this:

Bulawayo man caught using mubobobo during church service

You really need to read the article to get the full flavor of the overwhelming dumbth on display. But in short, a man was severely beaten in Zimbabwe – that bastion of collectivism success stories – because he was using “mubobobo.” What’s “mubobobo,” you ask? It’s magical witchcraft. Specifically, magic that allows a guy to have sex with someone else without their knowledge. In broad daylight. Without touching them. At some considerable distance. Telepathically.

In other words: BS.

It’s also known as “Bluetooth sex,” not because a Bluetooth wireless device is used, but because the magic supposedly allows the user to remotely violate someone. One could argue that “well, it’s Zimbabwe. Shrug.” But the thing is: the whole concept is patently absurd… but people believe it anyway. People sufficiently technologically advanced to know what “Bluetooth” is and to have digital cameras to take photos of the beating, and to post about it on the web and discuss it online. Is it really so unreasonable to consider that this level of Grade-A superstitious moronery might find its way to the US? Considering all the commercials I see on late night TV for psychic chat lines? Considering the rise of “ghost hunter” shows? The success of  homeopathic “medicines?” The relatively recent importation to the west and rise in popularity of eastern magical bullcrap such as  Reiki and feng shui indicates that “alien” absurdity can become accepted by large numbers of people who, by all rights, really should know better. So why not mubobobo?

This acceptance of utter bilge is a societal danger. As someone who generally leans libertarian, with the view that what people do with themselves is their own affair, sometimes what people do needs to be countered. The anti-vaccine movement, for example, based as it often is on the myth that vaccines cause autism, has led to a whole lot fewer kids getting vaccinated. On one hand, the “live and let die horribly” part of me is fine with that: unvaccinated kids are more likely to contract and die from diseases they don’t need to, thus thinning the herd slightly and cleaning a smidgeon of idiocy out of the gene pool. On the other hand, it’s not the kids fault that the parents are superstitious idiots. And on the gripping hand, large numbers of the unvaccinated messes with herd immunity, and can risk large numbers of other people.

Further, acceptance of anti-science, and the incorporation of it into public policy, may wind up bringing down civilization. The political Left is forever screeching about climate change and how carbon dioxide is going to kill us all. The political Right is forever screeching about how it’s a hoax. Well… the facts back up the Left more than the Right here, even when you try to eliminate the hyperbole and dubious and sometimes outright fraudulent data collection.  The world *is* getting warmer, CO2 levels *are* rising, the climate *is* changing. How much, how fast and how bad are all valid arguments. But the political Lefts anti-science comes into full force on the climate change issue. If this is a problem, fine… suggest a solution. And the only suggestions they seem to support are increasing misery in the west via economic contraction… and putting energy production into the hands of the weather via solar and wind. what they *should* be doing, instead, is supporting wholeheartedly the development of many new nuclear powerplants, including thorium reactors. But on the whole they don’t. They display virtually the same exact superstitious fear of nuclear power as many Zimbabweans seem to have for witchcraft.

I suspect a primary reason why the political Right in the US is unconcerned with global warming is because so many of those who are loudest about the issue only offer solutions that result in economic backsliding, reduced standards of living and shrunken horizons. In one of the great modern political ironies, the “Progressives” are largely opposed to actual progress, while the “Conservatives” want society to become richer and more advanced. The solution to the global warming issue is thus straightforward: propose solutions that not only fix the environment, but increase wealth and the standard of living. But the superstitious dread of nuclear reactions causes far to many people to reject that outright. And thus we enter a cultural death spiral of idiocy.

Sometimes an attempt to explain just how awesome a thing or a place is… just makes it look freakin’ horrible. Take this article for example:

This East Village Triplex Has A Retractable Facade

In short, it’s a 1900-square foot condo with a garage door in place of a wall. And for only $2.1 million! And with only $1521 in real estate tax (per month)!!

The article states (perhaps ironically, I dunno, I’m not well versed in Hipsterese):

You will never live in this place, or anything nearly as beautiful, but maybe just that it exists is nice? Just imagine how great it is for some family to wake up on a perfect Sunday spring day and retract the entire front side of their East 14th Street building so they can look out onto this great city.

Yeah… no. That’s not my idea of beauty, but rather horrible urban claustrophobic dystopia with some set dressing.

On the other hand, I took this photo yesterday from my driveway. I think I’ll stay here, thanks.


Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs

New rules that allow for discrimination against women, non-believers and illegitimate children. Exciting times!

Seems the Iranians are building themselves a large-scale model of an American aircraft carrier. Analysts assume it is meant to be towed out into the Persian Gulf, then blown up for propaganda purposes.

Iranian Ship, in Plain View but Shrouded in Mystery, Looks Very Familiar to U.S.

Seems an odd thing to do, but hey, this is a theocracy, so “odd” is pretty much to be expected.


UPDATE: More photos of it over here:

Why is Iran building a mock US aircraft carrier?

It looks real enough. But it looks… real crappy.

If you’ve never heard of a “Chick Tract,” how to explain them? Well, they are comic strip-like illustrated screeds that give Biblical lessons via modern characters. But they are more than that. They are a view into straight-up crazy… everything is  a conspiracy, the Catholic Church is Satanic, evolution is a lie, that sort of thing. All the nuttiest chain-emails you ever got, doped up on meth and Jesusjuice and with a couple thousand volts running through them. What really astonishing is that the guy behind them, Jack Chick, really believes it all.

One of the most popular of the Chick Tracts is “Dark Dungeons.” Dating from way back in 1984, when a lot of people were freaking out over Dungeons and Dragons, this one tells the tale of lives ruined and souls lost to D&D, which turns out to be an actual pathway to Satan. Don’t take me word for it, GO HERE and read it.

Someone is finally getting around to making a full movie of “Dark Dungeons.” And they are doing so with Chicks permission, and apparently the script is sticking directly to the original Tract. One might think that the only way this could happen is if the movie makers are themselves Believers. But all evidence, including the FAQ, seem to point to the direct opposite. It appears that what’s going on is that they are going to allow the over-the-top nature of the source material serve as self-parody. Kinda like “Noah,” but on a lower budget. A *much* lower budget.

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Founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. dies

Will there be protests at his funeral? The mind boggles.



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