It seems that creationists have trouble understanding the importance of source material. They are constantly linking to “scientific” articles that supposedly disprove evolution, yet one quick glance is all it takes to discover these articles are written by other creationists with either no scientific credentials or degrees from a university that consists of a trailer in the desert with nothing more than a phone, computer and printer.
Let’s make this simple. If you want to learn about a topic, you need to go to the appropriate source for information. For example, if you want to learn what the theory of evolution is and what the most current knowledge about evolution entails, you need to go to SCIENTISTS. STOP looking for creationists who claim to be scientists. Find an ACCREDITED college and take a class from a real scientist. If you can’t afford to take a college course, go to coursera.org and take one online for FREE. You can even audit a course in your spare time if you don’t think you can keep up with a regular course – it’s ok, a lot of people work and don’t have the time to take a course online. By auditing you can download the course materials and study at your own pace.
Let me be clear. If you are truly interested in learning you must start without looking for only those ideas that support your preconceived beliefs.
If I want to learn about the bible, I read the bible. If I want to learn why it says something or what something means, I am not going to ask a religious leader with their own agenda. I will talk to experts in HISTORY and LINGUISTICS. If you look for information that only confirms what you already believe, you are not going to learn anything. Sectarian leaders are only going to confirm what their own sect believes. A historian can shed light on the actual activities in the area and time that a text was written. They can confirm or debunk events that are claimed by a text. A linguist can confirm translations from the texts original language and speak to nuances. Most translations of the bible were done with specific agendas.
When creationists post links to “pseudo-scientific” articles about DNA “code” published by a religious organization rather than an accredited scientific laboratory, it only shows us their ignorance.
Many progressive twitter users have fallen victim to a fundamentalist technique for silencing those people who disagree with them. They take advantage of the twitter algorithm that checks reported users for spamming activity. Twitter does not have the resources to physically check each account that is accused of spamming. What they do is run an algorithm that checks for things that are common to spambots. The most common ones being following/follower ratio and the number of tweets that are responses.
A lot of real live, legitimate twitter users follow far more people than follow them back. It’s particularly common for new users or people interested in a wide variety of topics that don’t really care whether they are followed back. You could avoid this by following people more slowly and only adding when more people have followed you, but why should you have to limit yourself?
The second item can be easily avoided. Twitter considers tweets to another person that begin with the user’s screen name to be a “response.” A tweet that has the user’ name anywhere within the tweet is a “mention.” Since spambots generally direct their spam toward individual users, most spam tweets start with a user name. This is easy to avoid. When responding to other users and holding conversations, always put something before the username of the person you are responding to. For example, when having a conversation:
Me: @coolguy I can’t believe those teabaggers are so stupid.
You: @AssassinGrl I know, what a bunch of losers.
Me: @coolguy You are sooooo right!
You: @AssassinGrl You are sooo smart and beautiful.
This conversation could easily be flagged by twitter’s algorithm as being spam if someone false flags us, especially if one of us follows significantly more people than follows us.
This can be avoided.
Me: You know @coolguy, I can’t believe those teabaggers are so stupid.
You: Yeah @AssassinGrl I know, what a bunch of losers.
Me: . @coolguy You are sooooo right!
You: . @AssassinGrl You are sooo smart and beautiful.
Even putting a punctuation mark like a period (.) or slash (/) before the user name will protect you from being mistakenly caught by twitter’s anti-spam algorithm.
If you are unlucky enough to get suspended, contact twitter help at support.twitter.com and explain that you were falsely flagged. There is a form to fill out. This will start the process to have a real person review your account. In the meantime it might be a good idea to keep a backup account with a similar name so that you can let followers know when you’ve been falsely suspended. Be patient. It sometimes takes a while when they have to have a person follow up.
In response to such a tragedy it’s understandable to reach for simplistic answers: ban all guns, arm the teachers, bring prayer back to schools. But there is no easy solution to the problems that lead a person to go on any killing spree, let alone the slaughtering of young children.
Let’s hope that after all the hyperbole and knee jerk reactions, our country finally recognizes the need for SENSIBLE gun laws. No, there is no reason to ban all weapons. It is reasonable to allow stable, law abiding citizens to own most handguns and hunting rifles. It is also reasonable to restrict access of high volume, assault weapons to people with special licenses. For Christ’s sake, you need a special license to drive a commercial truck, why should it be such a big deal to expect that people have a little more training and screening before being allowed to use an assault weapon.
As for those who glibly blame this horrible tragedy on prayer no longer being allowed in school, I have to ask “What god are you worshiping?” Why would anyone worship a god that would allow children to be slaughtered simply because a government respects the rights of it’s citizenry to not be forced into any specific religious activity by those that have authority over them. Prayer is not banned in schools. People can pray any time, anywhere. That is what the first amendment protects. Teachers/administrators (as agents of the government) cannot endorse any religion by leading students in prayer. If you aren’t sure if what you are endorsing violates the first amendment, try this test: replace the word “God” with “Allah” and “Christian” with “Muslim.” If it no longer sounds like a good idea to you, then it is probably a violation of the first amendment.
What we should be concerned about is insurance companies and society in general realizing that mental illness is no different than any other PHYSICAL illness. It is unconscionable that it is treated differently by insurance companies than an illness like diabetes or heart disease. Too often people do not receive the treatment that would help intervene in a violent episode because this type of illness is not covered by their insurance. How many of us have insurance policies that have an entire section devoted to exceptions or special coverage for ‘mental illness,’ as if the brain is not part of the body?
Before reaching for the easy, glib response to this terrible tragedy, let’s think about sensible answers that may be harder to enact, but will have long term, lasting effects while protecting our families AND our rights.
I hate to be “That Person.” You know the one. The guy or gal that loudly takes their problem with a company into the public arena. But I’ve discovered something lately – ever since the rise of social media, taking a company to task on twitter (or facebook) seems to be the most effective way to get something done.
I can spend days or even weeks being bounced to every supervisor with an anglicized name and faintest possible accent in the Bangalore call center with no results and no way to find direct contact information for someone with the power to help me. But call the company out on twitter in front of 4,000 followers and within an hour you have a company executive contacting you.
We’ve all seen how horribly bad the wrong response on social media can go for a company. How many videos, tweets and facebook posts have gone viral when companies treat their customers poorly? Urban Outfitters, GoDaddy, Progressive…are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to companies being exposed for bad behavior via social media. The phenomena has spawned a new industry in online reputation repair companies.
The best way to avoid having to repair your reputation online or offline will always be treat your customers with respect and stop hiding from them. If you deal with your customers ethically then you have no need to make it impossible to locate relevant contact information. Problems that are dealt with quickly and honestly do not grow into problems that will damage your reputation.
Reading the bible can make more sense if you try to come up with the motives for certain passages. Some of them are fairly obvious. For example, a newly formed church in early Christianity is having difficulty with leadership or with certain followers doing things that others don’t like.
“Well what have we here? We just found this letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus. In it he tells Timothy that women are supposed to keep their traps shut in church. Got it? God wants you to shut your piehole.”
The Pastoral Epistles of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus are probably all later Pauline forgeries to further certain agendas within the early church.
I can imagine that admonitions against blends of more than one fabric or growing different crops in adjoining fields in the old testament had more to do with which merchant had influence with the rabbis than a deity’s distaste in fashion choice or shellfish.
“Damn that Zebulun! His new woolen/flax blended fabric is far more popular at the market. No one wants to buy my woolen garments. ‘They’re too itchy,’ they say. Well I’ll show him. My cousin Levi is very powerful in the Synagogue…”
The story of Elijah and the bears is obviously a twisted fantasy penned by a bald rabbi who had issues managing his anger with the kids that teased him. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of tragic ‘bear attacks’ near the village of that author.
“The villagers are getting suspicious of all these mutilated kids turning up. Maybe if I start telling a story about God sending bears to maul children that mock God’s favorite follower, they will just assume that a bear killed those kids….”
The entire book of Revelations can be explained as an hallucination brought on by consumption of Amanita muscaria, a magic mushroom common on the island of Patmos.
The entire bible makes so much more sense seen in light of the very human shortcomings of its authors. Maybe that’s why believers fall so short in trying to make it into something mystical.
You think that of the millions of species
on this tiny planet
circling one of the billions of stars
in this lone galaxy
hurtling through space in the midst of trillions
of other galaxies in the known universe
that all of this
every grain of sand
every strand of DNA
every mote of stardust
the very atoms of existence
was created just for you.
I realize human life is the culmination
of a chain of events that had no more purpose or
volition than any other chemical reaction,
events that may have happened anywhere in our vast universe
and may continue to occur
over and over again.
Yet you call me arrogant.
You close your eyes and plug your ears
to the amazing discoveries of science
clinging to your insect deity as he scrambles
deeper and deeper
into the dark recesses of ignorance,
scurrying away from the light of knowledge
to reign over the
ever dwindling gaps left behind
by scientific advancement and exploration.
I gaze with wonder at mankind’s ingenuity
I am awestruck at every speck of knowledge we gain,
from the inner workings of our own molecules
to the very birth of stars.
Yet you call me a blind fool.
You revere a deity whom you say
sacrificed his own child
a being you claim is perfect
yet needs your constant praise and is jealous of other gods.
A god whose priests abuse the innocent.
You worship a being that you believe has
orders women to be stoned or burned.
You love a deity that hates
those who are different
those who are female
those who are other.
I believe that the greatest good
we can do is alleviate pain and suffering
that the greatest evil
is one who willfully and uncaringly
causes that pain.
Yet you call me sinful.
You pray that one day soon
everyone will believe in your god
or be destroyed by him.
You rejoice that
will burn in eternal torment
for defying your loving God.
I hope that one day soon
people will awake from the delusion.
I will rejoice
when they leave behind
and step into the light of reason.
This was a poem I originally did on youtube. You can hear me read it here.
If you see someone whose dark olive skin tone and clothing suggests that they are from the middle east and you think:
“I wish those damn towel-heads would get the fuck outta my country!”
You are a racist.
If you see someone stop what they are doing (either because of the time of day or a meal is about to start) and start talking to invisible beings, and you think:
“Damn, I wish people would use common sense and reason rather than believe in the superstitious ramblings of bronze-age goat-herders.”
You are an Anti-theist.