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Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Yo, the Truth Movement has been officially PWNED by some blacksmith dude. Holy shit son! That's the straight dope right there! How can we argue against this kinda ass whoopin? I mean damn, all I can offer are some petty little excuses that can't possibly match up to that. This would include:
  • The fact that NIST has no evidence of fire temperatures in the Towers above 600 ÂșC (see link, pp. 6-7).
  • The fact that the steel in the Towers was much thicker than this dude's steel rod.
  • The fact that no steel-framed skyscraper has ever collapsed due to fire (see here and here).
  • The fact that we have a vast assortment of direct evidence the Twin Towers and Building 7 were demolished with explosives (including peer-reviewed scientific evidence).
But again, I mean, damn! This guy's got a video on YouTube of him heating steel. Debate's over! What're we still doing here?!

Alrighty, satire is over. Yes, this is an almost entirely unnecessary rebuttal. But to be honest, this guy's little home experiment isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is his comment that "if it was a conspiracy, I don't care." Statements like these depress me, but they don't entirely surprise me either. After all, even someone like Noam Chomsky thinks this way, so, surpise surprise, of course the average Joe would too. That, children, is what we call "being part of the problem."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Something Different: Obligatory Cat Post

Since it's generally internet law that you post pics of cats from time to time, I thought I'd take a break from my usual rants on God and politics to post some (IMO) rather cute pics of my cat. Meet Zimmie. 12 years old. High-pitched meow. Loves back scratches. Cute as hell. And loved immensely by her owner. :-)


Monday, November 9, 2015

An Open Letter to One Million Moms

Dear One Million Moms,

Greetings! My name is Adam Taylor. Hope you are doing well. I'm writing to inform you that I have read your recent article covering the American Girl controversy, in which the magazine had the audacity to feature a gay couple and their adoption of four black children. I quite agree that your outrage is well justified from a biblical perspective, and that such acts go against the wise wishes of the obviously good Yahweh. However, I feel you may not have been strong enough in your denouncement, leaving out several points that may be pertinent to the point you're trying to make. As you state in your article:
We must remain diligent and stand up for biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature. American Girl doesn’t highlight other sins in their magazine.
You're very right to claim the bible repeatedly denounces homosexuality. Of course, perhaps your message would have hit home a tad more had you included the fact that Leviticus 20:13 calls for homosexual men to be killed. Clearly this would solve the problem all at once, since executing gay men would prevent any gay adoption from happening ever again. How can you go wrong there? Interestingly, this bible verse seems to get overlooked by those citing the bible in their objection to homosexuality. Here's you're chance to correct their mistake and make this point. I don't see why you shouldn't. It's right there in the "good" book after all. 

Furthermore, it may have done you good to point out what proper bible-based marriage is really all about. So many people seem to have forgotten that marriage is defined as one man and one woman. And also one man and 700 women. And 300 concubines. Or, hell, polygamy in general if we don't want to get distracted by specific numbers. Again, so many good Christians seem to forget these passages in the bible. Perhaps it is up to responsible Christians such as yourselves to get everyone up to speed with what the bible really says?

Also, you might want to emphasize how God never seemed to condemn lesbianism in the bible, just saying that those icky gay men can't do it together. Think about it. Lesbian parents. Hundreds of wives. Hundreds of concubines!? I guess moms really do know best! Praise the Lord!

In addition, while you state that American Girl doesn't highlight other sins in their magazine, you yourselves seem to have missed an opportunity to highlight a just biblical action these gay heathen men cold have taken. Given that all their adopted children are black, they are clearly descended from African Americans, i.e. people from foreign nations. If that's the case, you should have pointed out to these gay sinners that instead of adopting these children, they would have done better to make them permanent slaves. After all, the bible states people from foreign lands can be kept as slaves forever. Maybe you just missed that part, but it reads:
As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession for ever; you may make slaves of them, but over your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness. --Leviticus 25:44-46
Clearly, if these gay men were to act responsibly, making these children slaves would have been the proper thing to do. Who are they (or anyone else for that matter) to disagree with God's word? After all, God's word never changes. It says so right in the book. And the slave-owners of the south knew this too. So why aren't more people keeping slaves anymore? I tell you, tough times for Christians these days, huh? They just don't seem to know what the bible says.

I hope you'll take my suggestions into consideration. These are hard times for Christians, given that they only make up about 70% of the country. Clearly in a very vulnerable 
condition. Obviously. I also warn you to avoid the propagandist "trash" (as you call it) that might change your views on this subject. For example, you definitely shouldn't read Dr. John Corvino's book What's Wrong With Homosexuality?, where he debunks every popular argument against same-sex marriage raised over the years. You should also avoid his YouTube channel and his videos which debunk anti-gay marriage arguments too. Furthermore, you probably shouldn't read Dr. Hector Avalos's book Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship. While he correctly notes that slavery is biblicaly allowed, for some reason he thinks Christians throughout centuries were wrong for supporting it. What get's into some people? Baffling. I swear.

Also important, do everything you can to avoid the detailed, peer-reviewed studies that show gay parents do just as well as straight parents raising kids. That's especially important.

Lastly, pay no mind to Amaya Sheer, the 11 year old daughter of the gay men, who made it clear that "IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS." What does she know? Christianity is so obviously true, and the bible clearly makes so much sense, that I don't see why anyone could possibly have a problem with it, right? I mean Jesus, why do so many people not take this stuff seriously?

I hope you find my suggestions helpful, and that your quest to interfere in other people's business goes smoothly from here on out.


Adam Taylor, just your average baby-eating, dark-hearted, heathen atheist.

P.S. I should also mention that writing your article in the first place might have been a bad move. After all, the bible makes it clear that women are to "learn in silence" and that they are "not permitted to teach... she is to keep silent." As a group of "one million" Christian moms, you don't want to go against what the bible says, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

David Menzies and Ron Craig Debunk WTC Demolition*


For the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, David Menzies of Rebel Media interviewed explosives expert Ron Craig, resulting in the umteen-thousandth time a so-called "expert" tried (and failed) to debunk the evidence for controlled demo-lition of the WTC. Mr. Menzies discusses seven "myths" raised by members of the Truth Movement, to which Ron gave his opinion of each. Let's see what Ron has to offer this year, shall we?

Myth 1: Scientific Evidence Explosives Were Used

According to Ron, the Movement's case for controlled demolition rests "basically on two things: photographic evidence... and personal testimonials." Yes Ron, that's all our case is "basically" based on. It couldn't be that our case is also based on peer-reviewed data, discussing topics such as the forensic evidence at Ground Zero, or detailed mathe-matical models and analyses of the collapse mechanics of the buildings. No, it must just be what the buildings looked like and what people said about them. Straw, meet man. But dealing with the points Ron does raise, the physical characteristics of the buildings' collapses, while not definitive proof, are nonetheless evidence for demolition, given that no building collapse in history has exhibited every feature shown by the WTC Towers outside of controlled demolitions (see my discussion in "Other Collapses in Perspective," especially pp. 24-25). 

Ron's second point is in regards to the sounds of explosions attested to by eyewitnesses at Ground Zero. And we're given the oh-so original rebuttal that "there are lots of noises that are unexplainable, but that doesn't mean it was explosives." Well, Ronny boy might have a point, except that, again, we're not basing our case only on what people said. Does he honestly think we haven't considered this argument before? As we've explained in detail, prosaic explanations for these sounds can be ruled out once factors such as physical effects, location, and energy levels are taken into account and examined (see my discussion in "Collapse or Explosion?," especially pp. 14-21).

Myth 2: Thermite Cut Steel Columns

The second "mythology" about 9/11 Ron takes a crack at is thermite being used to demolish the structures. Amusingly, he doesn't even address the issue actually being raised by David Menzies; whether or not thermite could have been used to demolish the Towers. Perhaps it's because Ron is well aware of thermite's explosive capabilities when formulated correctly, a fact that is well documented. Perhaps he's also aware that even ordinary un-explosive thermate can effectively cut through steel beams. 

Regardless, the point he focuses on instead is over whether or not there could have been rivers of molten steel at Ground Zero. Ron thinks not, since, according to him, "for steel to melt there has to be a constant heat." In essence, he argues that there couldn't "possibly be a river of material running for thirty days under the WTC buildings," since it would have solidified early on in the debris. I can buy that Ron's a fine explosive expert (maybe), but he's a lousy chemist. The argument isn't that the metal continued to be molten without a heat source. Rather, the residues from the thermite reactions continued reacting underneath the debris piles, in effect creating a "witch's brew" of ongoing chemical reactions which created the molten metal and continued to heat it. There is indeed evidence for energetic materials and reactions at Ground Zero, documented in some more of that pesky peer-reviewed scientific literature Ron apparently doesn't know about.

Despite actual forensic evidence, numerous photographs, and a sizable number of eyewitnesses to the molten pools at Ground Zero, Ron says that our "proof" of molten metal is actually a photo of firefighters looking into a hole, filled not with molten metal, but simply being lit by a search light. Yes, Ron actually thinks we still use the photo Steven Jones mistakenly thought was a photo of molten metal. Welcome to 2015 Mr. Craig. Maybe you haven't read Steven Jones' latest edition of his paper that lacks this photo. Do try and keep up Ron. In that same paper, Dr. Jones explains that the length of time the metal continued to glow is consistent with molten iron:
[T]he observed surface of this metal is still reddish-orange some six weeks after 9-11. This implies a large quantity of a metal with fairly low heat conductivity and a relatively large heat capacity (e.g., iron is more likely than aluminum) even in an underground location. Like magma in a volcanic cone, such metal might remain hot and molten for a long time -- once the metal is sufficiently hot to melt in large quantities and then kept in a fairly-well insulated underground location. Moreover, as hypothesized below, thermite reactions may well have resulted in substantial quantities (observed in pools) of molten iron at very high temperatures – initially above 2,000 °C (3,632 °F). At these temperatures, various materials entrained in the molten metal pools will continue to undergo exothermic reactions which would tend to keep the pools hot for weeks despite radiative and conductive losses.
Kidding aside, I find it very hard to believe Ron isn't aware of any of this. The evidence for molten metal pools and extreme heat at Ground Zero has been thoroughly documented by members of the Movement, and for him to think we rely on that one photo is baffling to me. Remeber, this man claims to have debunked the WTC demolition theory, meaning that he supposedly studied the Movement's arguments and is thus up-to-date with what those arguments are. But no, he's here instead addressing points which are now over nine years old. It's either a case of sloppy research of our claims, or willful deception on his part. Get our arguments right Ron, or don't bother addressing them at all.

Myth 3: People Inside Towers Were Blown Off Their Feet

Next we move on to people inside the buildings experiencing explosions, which Ron tries to say was actually just the result of the planes impacting the buildings. In a moment that made me seriously question if he's actually read the NIST report on the Towers, Ron suggests that the planes were travelling at 700 mph when they struck the buildings. Well, that'd be news to NIST, who puts the plane speeds at around 440 mph for Flight 11 and 540 mph for Flight 175 (NIST NCSTAR 1-2, p. lxxiii). Moreover, Ron argues that no one at the WTC experienced injuries and effects consistent with the occurrence of explosives, when in fact numerous individuals, both inside and outside the buildings, did experience just that, effects which fit the description of explosive events perfectly (see "Collapse or Explosion?," pp. 17-18). Likewise, we know from the testimony of Barry Jennings that he and Michael Hess experienced at least one explosion in Building 7, and while critics have attempted to explain away this event as just debris from WTC1, such claims have been found to be groundless (Ibid. pp. 23-25).

Myth 4: Clouds of Dust Prove Explosives Were Used

We're then treated to a discussion of the ejections of dust and debris from the Towers, and here I'm now wondering not only if Ron's read the NIST reports, but also if he's even bothered to watch videos of the collapses. He correctly notes that the buildings contained an enormous amount of drywall, which could account for the dust being crushed at the collapse front. However, this does nothing to explain the horizontal ejections of dust multiple stories below where the buildings are collapsing. If the collapsing mass at the collapse front is producing the dust up top, then what's producing the dust further down twenty to forty stories? 

He also asserts that "explosives would have ejected out three or four hundred feet past the pattern that we saw, which was just dust coming down and debris." I'm honestly at a loss here. Videos and photographs of the Tower collapses show that large sections of steel were thrown hundreds of feet away from the Towers. Even NIST acknowledges this much, writing that "fragments [from WTC1] were forcibly ejected and traveled distances up to hundreds of meters" (NIST NCSTAR 1A, p. 16). Is the point he's making supposed to be that the debris didn't travel out past the dust clouds? What we see in the videos is the debris shooting out and trailing dust as it moves outside the buildings' perimeters. Which is, you know, kinda what happens when explosives are set off. Remember Ron, explosives? Those things you're supposed to be an expert on? Likewise, analyses show that smaller debris from the Towers were ejected out as much as 1/4 of a mile away from the buildings (see Crockett Grabbe, "Direct Evidence for Explosions," pp. 3-5).

Myth 5: Building 7 Had No Damage But Still Collapsed Proves Explosives Were Used

Up next we get a discussion of our so-called "Holy Grail" of conspiracy topics, World Trade Center 7. I should mention that the titles I've been giving these sections are from Mr. Menzies' video, not my wording. It's another nice little straw-man strategy employed, since you won't find any informed truther tell you that Building 7 had no structural damage. Of course the building was damaged, but the question is whether or not that damage was sufficient to cause collapse. We in the Movement say no, but Ron thinks otherwise, noting that "new photographic evidence" shows that there was "considerable damage... to the rear of the building that we didn't see before." As to what photos he's referring to, you're guess is as good as mine, since we're not shown them. Instead, we get a (not new) photo of Building 7 covered in smoke which, as I've explained before, is most likely coming from the still burning WTC complex, not the building itself (see my response to Chris Mohr, pp. 133-136).

I can only assume that he's referring to the photos that were released back in 2010, which did indeed show some new shots of Building 7 from the south side. What Ron doesn't mention is that these photos actually showed the building's south side was less damaged than previously thought. Sorta important detail to overlook , but whatever. 

Ron then tells us that "conspiracy theorists will tell us that office fires are not very hot." Yes, "conspiracy theorists" will say that. Never mind that some of these people are also fire protection engineers. Or chemists like Kevin Ryan and Frank Greening, who have written that:
[R]aising those five floor beams [in Building 7] to a temperature of 600 °C would require an enormous amount of energy, far more than was available from the burning of the office furnishings underneath the floor beams. --Kevin Ryan
NIST’s collapse initiation hypothesis requires that structural steel temperatures on floors 12/13 significantly exceeded 300 °C - a condition that could never have been realized with NIST’s postulated 32 kg/m2 fuel loading. --Frank Greening
You see Ron, our argument is not that the fires were not hot, but that they weren't hot enough to cause collapse. And given that more severe fires in other skyscrapers have never caused those skyscrapers to collapse, it doesn't sound that far-fetched to assume the fires in Building 7 shouldn't have caused it to collapse either. Again, this would all go so much smoother if you actually framed our arguments correctly Ron.

Myth 6: No Steel Frame Building Has Ever Collapsed From Fire

The interview continues with Ron addressing the issue of no steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers ever collapsing from fire. Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's the correct version of our argument, not the straw-man version cooked up by Mr. Menzies and Mr. Craig. My mistake. No, instead these gentlemen decide to frame the argument as no steel buildings in general have ever collapsed from fire, to which Ron offers the rebuttal that "steel-framed buildings collapse all the time." One of the reasons I've already written so much on these topics is that I hoped I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself, but ah, no such luck. Our argument is not "steel can't collapse from fire." As I've written elsewhere ("Other Collapses," pp.1-2):
A common misconception about this argument regarding other steel skyscrapers not collapsing is that it implies that steel cannot under any circumstances fail from being weakened by fire. But this idea is incorrect. Steel, while very strong, is not immune to the effects of fire, which is why fire-proofing is applied to many steel structures. The main argument that is really being presented is this: other steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers have never collapsed from fires that, upon careful examination, appear to be far more severe than the fires exhibited in the WTC buildings. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the WTC buildings should not have collapsed from the types of fires that were seen on 9/11.
And as I also pointed out (Ibid. pp. 3-4): 
When one examines the list of other steel structures that have collapsed from fire that are often cited by critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, one thing immediately catches the eye: almost none of them are high-rise skyscrapers... If we are to draw comparisons between the WTC skyscrapers and other structures, then we would logically want to compare them to other skyscrapers.
To be fair, Ron almost corrects himself by noting that "they [truthers] are really saying large steel-framed buildings." Close, but not quite. Say it with me Ron: high-rise steel-framed skyscrapers. By generalizing the examples as "large steel buildings," Ron can point to practically any building he wants as a counter example. And indeed he does just that, by citing one of the debunker favorites; the Faculty of Architecture Building in the Netherlands. Debunkers like this example so much because it shows a top-down collapse due to fire. Yet they, like Ron, overlook a number of important details, which I've outlined in my previously mentioned "Other Collapses" article (pp. 17-18).
  • The building burned much longer than either of the Towers 
  • The collapse was localized, leaving most of the main structure standing 
  • The building was constructed very differently from the Towers 
  • The collapse took approximately 10 seconds. Unlike many of the other structures referenced, we have several videos of this collapse, and they show that the collapse of the 13-story section took roughly 10 seconds from start to finish.[reference] However, the Twin Towers, which were each 110-storys tall, each collapsed in approximately 15 seconds.[reference] Building 7, a 47-story building, collapsed in less than seven seconds.[reference] This contrasts strongly with the collapse of the Faculty building. If the Towers and Building 7 were truly gravity driven collapses, as was the case for this incident, then we would expect them to have taken far longer to totally collapse than they actually did.
And, of course, this building wasn't a skyscraper. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: the argument the Truth Movement is presenting is that fires in other steel-framed high-rise skyscrapers have never caused those buildings to collapse, and since the fires in the Twin Towers and Building 7 appeared to be less severe than the fires in these other skyscrapers, it's reasonable to judge that the Towers and Building 7 should not have collapsed either. That's the argument  Ron. Either learn it, or don't bother addressing it if you can't.

Myth 7: Stream of Sparks Prove High Energy Event Took Place Outside of Fire

We finally finish up strawmana-palooza with a discussion of the stream of molten metal seen flowing out of the South Tower. Silly me, I forgot this is supposed to be David and Ron's version of the Truth Movement's argument. So as Ron puts it, "we see sparks being ejected from one of the floors of the building." Yes, that's right, sparks. Not, as the videos show, glowing molten metal (i.e. liquid metal). That's a tad bit different than just "sparks." Details, but important. And Ron's explanation for these so-called "sparks" is that "whenever there's a fire you'll see mysterious things... but, in fact, as a firefighter I can tell you there are many things that will eject streams." And as to what those things are, we're given one example of a heated metal suitcase handle reacting to water being sprayed on it. Again, this might have produced sparks, but I doubt this produced a stream of liquid metal that stayed molten and glowing after falling almost a hundred stories. 

As to what type of metal was pouring out of the Tower, I've heard only two suggestions that have any viability: aluminum and lead, neither of which would have resembled what we saw coming out of the building under those circumstances. Ron is technically right that it hasn't been proven that the material was produced by thermite, but that's the whole reason we're calling for a new investigation; so that it can be investigated what that material most likely was, not simply hand-waved away as something "mysterious." And wouldn't you know it, the NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosive Investigations just happens to mention that thermite should be tested as a possible accelerate in a building fire (NFPA 921, 18.4.5 and 22.2.4). Perhaps, as a firefighter, you should know this too Ron.

One Last Question

After finishing up his "debunking," Ron is asked by Mr. Menzies what he thinks it is that motivates us to hold the beliefs we do. His answer is rather typical of debunkers who can't see anything past the label of "conspiracy theorist." 
Every conspiracy theorist is emotionally invested in the argument that the United States government caused it. And if you scratch any 9/11 conspiracy site with a coin, what you're going to find are people that have a deep dislike for the United States, the policies of the United States, and particularly the president of the time, George W. Bush. So they keep working tirelessly to try and find evidence that indicates that the government was involved. But there's no scientific proof whatsoever that explosives or thermite brought those buildings down, and yet they keep insisting that they did. It's quite incredible to me.
Well, there you have it folks, the typical stereotyping laid out for us. We hate America, its policies, and the president. Nothing more needs to be said apparently. It never seems to occur to these people that maybe, just maybe, we actually do care deeply about the thousands of people who lost their lives that day, and want to get to the bottom of one of the worst crimes ever committed on United States soil.  But for the close-minded types like Ron and Dave, that can't be a possibility. It also can't be a possibility that we actually do have good scientific evidence that those buildings were demolished with explosives. But I suppose if you employ Ron's strategy of ignoring and misrepresenting the opposition's side, then you can pretty much refute anything you want. Of course, by no means is Ron the first to use this strategy. He just particularly sucks at it.

Another Last Question For Mr. Craig

From me, in fact. Mr. Craig, would you be so kind as to stop misrepresenting the Truth Movement's arguments and actually address what we say? That'd be great, thanks.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Is Gay Marriage Simply "Masturbation and the Pursuit of Pleasure"?

From time to time, I tend to get into political discussions and debates on Facebook. Shocking, I know. I recently made a post on homosexuality and why people hold the bigoted views they do about it. I eventually commented on how the religious folk at Franciscan University almost unanimously oppose same-sex marriage. Another commenter posted the following in response.

I suspect this person meant to say that homosexual activity doesn't meet the definition of sex. So, is this right? Is gay marriage nothing more than "masturbation and the pursuit of pleasure"? Why no, no it is not. I wrote the following in response, with the accompanying video:
So what should the alternative be then? Are infertile couples not really married? Should they not be allowed to get married? Should the law be that if you get married you have to have kids? Marriage is about more than just sexual pleasure. It's because people love each other and wish to express it as openly as possible. They want their union to be legally recognized, to be able to visit each other in the hospital, file income taxes together, make medical decisions together. And, btw, adopt kids together. That's the other thing; gay couples ARE having kids, e.g. adoption, donor insemination, etc. The same alternative routes available to straight couples are available to gay couples too.
The so-called "natural purpose" argument is a load of bollocks as well. Yes, the "natural" function of sex is technically procreation, but since when have we only stuck to what's "natural'? Cause the reality is that we defy nature all the time. Pacemakers, artificial limbs, glasses, hurricane-proofed homes, etc., all defy elements of the natural world and are themselves unnatural. Yet you won't hear anyone saying any of those things are wrong, so why say so of gay marriage? Gay marriage is consummated the same way straight marriage is; they have sex. And it may not be the same kind of sex you have, but ultimately everyone has sex there own way anyway. There's no one right way to have sex, and people's personal preferences are their business and no one else's.
And from the Franciscan point of view, gay marriage isn't seen as real marriage because their book tells them homosexuality is wrong. Yes, the same book that says the earth is flat and held up by pillars, condones slavery, and favors human sacrifice, surely must have gotten it right about homosexuality!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Steubenville Rape Case Update: Where are they Now?

So, just to bring you up to speed: 

Boy, all this "justice" going around is almost too much for me to handle.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Deceptively Dissing Darwin

I've read many books promoting apologetics. Some have been decent, some have been dull, and some have been outright awful. One of the worst I've ever read is Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley's The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism. The book itself is nothing special, loaded with the usual poppycock about "atheistic materialism," "atheists have no basis for morality," "a society based on atheism is doomed," etc. But most of all, it is a rather insulting book, containing little to no respect of any kind towards atheists. The following Amazon review sums it up nicely:
I enjoyed how this book lays out how Atheism is irrational when you take it to its logical ends. I did not appreciate though the many times the authors kept saying "if the new atheism continues to spread our society is doomed!". The name calling and cheap shots were uncalled for. If I were an Atheist I would have set the book down. The first 40 pages aren't even worth reading.
Having made it through the first 40 pages and beyond, I can vouch for this. It's also sur-prising that the book engages heavily in presuppositional apologetics, since this is a Catholic response to atheism, and I assumed that presuppositionalism was largely a Protestant apologetic tactic. Granted, the authors cite Protestants for their arguments, including the infamous presupposition-peddler Greg Bahnsen (whose claims have been thoroughly addressed and refuted numerous times).

But specifically I want to address one particular section of their book that I feel is not only wrong, but is also horribly deceptive and insulting to the memory of Charles Darwin. Surprise surprise, our authors throw out the usual tripe about how the worst regimes in history were led by atheists like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. And even more surprising (i.e. not surprising at all), they provide not a shred of evidence that these men's atheism had anything to do with the crimes they committed (see Earl Doherty's discussion here under the section titled "The Question of Atheism"). But of course we can't forget the Christians' favorite example; Adolf Hitler, who our authors spend a good deal of time discussing. Of Hitler, they write: 
[M]uch nonsense has been written about Hitler being a Christian, believing in God, and opposing atheism. But whatever this madman said at times in order to gain the confidence of the German people--who were at least culturally Christian--Hitler was clearly committed to a vision of the world that was essentially Darwinian and Nietzschean. [Godless Delusion, p. 80]
Yes, much nonsense indeed. It's "nonsense" that Hitler himself said he was a Christian and believed in God. It's "nonsense" that Hitler himself said he opposed atheism. It's also "nonsense" that the Nazis banned books promoting "the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism" and books that "ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion." All nonsense in the eyes of Mr. Madrid and Mr. Hensley. And what evidence do these men present to show that Hitler only said and wrote these things to "gain the confidence of the German people"? (spoiler!

Despite this, our authors maintain that Hitler "saw himself as implementing a Darwinian 'law of nature' that would result in the 'elimination of the unfit' and bring about a civilization fit for a master race" [p. 81]. And this is supported by the other usual tripe about how Darwin's theory of natural selection was the basis for the Nazis' eugenics program. For now we'll look past the fact that this idea has been refuted over and over and over and over again. Instead, I would like to focus on a particular passage from Darwin's The Descent of Man that our authors quote. Or rather, they quote someone else quoting and interpreting what Darwin wrote. That someone is Discovery Institute fellow Benjamin Wiker, who analyzes passages from Darwin's writings in order to argue that "Darwin believed that the evolution of morality would require the extermination of 'less fit' races and individuals." 

Madrid and Hensley, while quoting Wiker, write:
Wiker quotes Darwin saying something truly remarkable, hinting broadly at something we're not aware Nietzsche ever having advocated--although Hitler most certainly did:
We civilized our utmost to check the process of elimination [i.e. the elimination of human beings]; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of everyone to the last moment....Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man...excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. [p. 104. Note that "elimination of human beings" was inserted by Madrid and Hensley]
Boy, that sure sounds like Darwin advocated eugenics, huh? There's just one little problem though. This quote from Darwin is taken entirely out of context. This was brought to light when fellow Darwin-disser Ben Stein quoted the same passage in his propaganda piece piece of shit deceptive trash film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The passage Mr. Stein, Mr. Wiker, Mr. Madrid, and Mr. Hensley didn't bother to quote appears right after Darwin's quote cited above, which states:
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage. [Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, pp. 168-169]
Commenting on the issue, John Moore wrote:
Stein quotes from a passage in Darwin's writing that appears to endorse the notion that for a species to thrive the infirm must be culled. He omits the part where Darwin insists this would be "evil" and that man's care for the weak is "the noblest part of our nature." When I asked Stein about this on my radio show he deadpanned, "If any Darwin fans are listening and we have misquoted him, we are sorry; we don't mean to diss Darwin."
Now the reason I find all this so important has to do with the timeline of events here. Expelled was released in 2008 and was exposed on this point shortly thereafter. However, The Godless Delusion was published in 2010, i.e. a full two years after it was proven that the above passage was taken out of context. But despite this, our authors felt the need to go ahead and (mis)quote the exact same passage for the exact same purpose. But wait, you might say, maybe our authors were somehow unaware of Ben Stein's film and his quoting of Darwin. Isn't that possible? Nope. Because right after quoting Wiker quoting Darwin, our authors write the following:
But then, when economist Ben Stein points out in his film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that aspects of Darwinism led to Hitler and his eugenics program, the secular establishment roars: "This is outrageous! Darwin never said anything that could be taken as a justification for anything Hitler did!" [p. 104]
For the record, it wasn't just the "secular establishment" calling BS on this. Here's a fellow Catholic saying so too. And what I find "outrageous" is the idea of people deceptively quote-mining dead men in order to further an agenda. Especially when in all likelihood they know they are being deceptive and taking words out of their proper context. The way I see it, there are only two possibilities. Either Mr. Madrid and Mr. Hensley knew their quote from Darwin was taken out of context, but ultimately just didn't care and decided to use it and misrepresent it anyway. Or, they possibly didn't know it was taken out of context, in turn meaning that neither of these men did the work they should have done and checked to see if the passage was being represented correctly. Deceptiveness or incompetence, take your pick. Either way, this is not how people who consider themselves "scholars" should behave. The evidence strongly demon-strates that Darwin did not support eugenics, and to suggest otherwise, as these men have done, is appalling and dishonoring to the memory of a man who tried, to the best of his abilities, to do the best science he could and help us further understand our place in the world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Aftermath, by Joel Meyerowitz

A very useful book, "Aftermath," by Joel Meyerowitz. It's a huge book (and I mean HUGE. It's almost as big as my torso). Contains a treasure trove of high quality pictures of Ground Zero and the debris. Also shows the huge struggle the rescue workers went through clearing it up. It's also useful for refuting the Judy Wood crowd (look through this book and then tell me the Towers' steel was "dustified"). Recommended if you don't already have it.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Long Island Medium: Racial Stereotypes = Accurate Psychic Readings

The Long Island Medium is a fraud. There's just no better way to put it. Like every psychic we've seen pop up over the years, she is a lying, manipulative, fame/money hungry douche. And recently I was treated to a fine display of her douchebagery at, of all places, work. There I am, sitting in the break room having lunch, when who should just happen to appear on the break room TV than Theresa Caputo herself, on the Meredith Vieira Show. And yes, I did nearly lose my appetite. 

She did her usual shtick; asking her vague questions to an audience of over a hundred, most of whom probably came to the show already believers. Parts were aggravating (especially seeing members of the audience driven to tears by Ms. Caputo's "readings"), and other parts were just boring. But I will admit, one segment in particular made me nearly fall out of my chair. Say what? Did she perform some mind-blowing reading that was beyond impressive? Had she truly demonstrated that she could in fact speak to the dead? Ah... no such luck. What happened was something that may have shown more proof that I'm psychic (I'm not btw. I promise :) )

As you might imagine, several of my co-workers were also on their lunch breaks too, and were subjected to Ms. Caputo just as I was. In between segments I explained to them how she did her readings; cold reading, using large crowds, vague descriptions, etc. They were all very receptive, and mostly agreed with me that she was indeed a fraud. At one point I mentioned a reading she had done on Katie Couric's show, which I myself first learned about from the Opie and Anthony Show. Here's how they described it:
I was at the gym... and I was watching Katie Couric's new show, cause it was on and I was like "eh, what the fuck, I'm gonna take a look at this." And this Long Island Medium was on. And then she starts working the crowd, and she actually said, and I'm kinda paraphrasing, "I'm feeling someone's loved one died recently." And then this black woman's like "Oh my God, me!". Like she just gives it up. And then of course in an audience like that someone's loved one died recently. And then this broad goes "I'm getting a vision or feeling that you might have sung in church." She says this to a black woman!
Eventually I found the clip they were talking about, and sure enough, Ms. Caputo got a "message" from "somewhere" that a black woman in the audience may have sung in church before. My reaction to this was pretty much the same as their's, and likewise my friends thought this sounded like a pretty, shall we say, sketchy reading as well.

But now the unbelievable. Not fives minutes after I told my friends this story did the program start up again, and Ms. Caputo went over to a sobbing black woman and asked her the following:
Do you sing, or do you listen to church music, or gospel music? Because all I keep hearing is "release my soul, awake my soul." And I keep hearing like "Allelujah" [sic]. That song "Allelujah" [sic].

I lost it. I simply lost it, and so did my friends. We couldn't believe this happened, like I said, less than five minutes[!] after I told my story. We all sat there utterly dumbstruck at this, me being in a mixed state of laughter and rage. So apparently Ms. Caputo decides to resort to this tactic on more than one occasion. Good to know. If this isn't cold reading taken to a new low, I don't know what is.

"It's not about who it is, getting the details of how they died,
their name, their birthday, their this, what they wore on their
left hand. It's not about that. It's about delivering the message
of healing." -Theresa Caputo to a sobbing audience memeber

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ian Lohr: Scumbag Extraordinaire

Image Source:
Today I have a little story to tell. And it concerns an individual by the name of Ian Lohr. You've probably never heard of him, which makes you very lucky indeed. Ian is someone who, until recently, I thought of as a friend, someone I worked with, and someone I felt like I could generally trust. On April 26th of this year, Mr. Lohr texted me, pleading for money because he had bills to pay (and I still have the texts to prove this). Now up to this point I knew he had been sick and out of work for a while, so I figured he probably was a little hard up for money. That was all I knew at this point. So after more begging from him, and feeding me a sob story about how his wife informed him that his water, gas and electricity were going to be shut off, he eventually got a total of $170 out of me. He assured me he’d be able to pay me back by the end of the week, by Friday or Saturday, and that he was willing to pay interest as well. But those days went by, and I heard nothing from him. I called his cell phone. No answer. I called his house. No answer. As it turned out, there were a few things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that he had started using heroin again. I didn’t know that his wife kicked him out of the house and that he was living with other people. I didn’t know that I was just one in a long list of other people who he had fed the same bullshit story to (and apparently got money from some of them as well). And I didn’t know that on April 28th, two days later, he was going to be arrested for drug abuse and drug possession. You see, the reason I didn’t know any of this is, well, it’s generally none of my business. I make it a rule of thumb for myself not to pry into other people’s lives, since it’s obviously not my place to do so. Anyone who knows me knows that violating others’ privacy is something that in general I’m patently against. But I’ve had several people confirm all of this to me now. So yeah, I guess I should have been better informed in this case, since it cost me $170, which I’m confident went to buy heroin.

Just the thought of money of mine being spent on heroin disgusts me. This is someone who I considered a friend. Someone I got along with pretty well. Someone who, though he had problems, seemed like a good guy overall. Here I am, working 5 days a week, working to pay off student debts without a whole lot of extra money with me. And he goes and pulls some shit like this. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends. Aside from a comment I left on his Facebook page, I’ve had no contact with him, and have no plans of interacting with him ever again. I hope he lives, gets off the junk, and gets his life in order. But I want nothing to do with him.

So yeah. Moral of the story; don’t ever let Ian Kurtis Lohr borrow money off of you if you actually want to see that money again.

Friday, April 3, 2015

An Afternoon With Richard Carrier

On December 6th of last year, I had the amazing honor of meeting Dr. Richard Carrier at the Humanist Community of Central Ohio 2014 Winter Solstice Banquet. Dr. Carrier gave a fantastic talk on feminism and its importance in the atheist movement. The transcript of his talk is now available online. Afterwards, Dr. Carrier was kind enough to sign two of his books I brought with me. His talks are great to watch online, but seeing them in person is an enlightening experience. 

Meeting Dr. Carrier for the first time.

Dr. Carrier was kind enough to sign two
of his books I brought with me.