One billion reasons to make shit up. by underground

Not for the first time I have just had an argument with someone about the validity of “historian” Gavin Menzies’ work. Despite selling copies of 1421 by the shelf load, his theory that China discovered the world has been well and truly dismissed. The criticisms of established and respected historians make for hilarious reading. The fact his ‘ancient’ maps are written in modern Mandarin is comical. His follow up 1434 is refuted with equal ease. It truly is a wonder anyone swallows a word of his writings. So why do people believe his theories?

People love conspiracy theories. It’s fun to think there is more going on. Man never landed on the moon, Elvis is still alive and aliens crashed at Roswell. Some like to think the authorities are lying to them. Often they are, and there are countless proven examples. But almost as if they doubt their credentials, perhaps jealously of their vast intellects, some love to dismiss academics. Slated for being out of touch with society in their ivory towers, people believe scholars are pulling the wool over their eyes. Global warming? Hoax. Evolution? Lie. Established history? Bullshit. Each with their own motive, academics spin a web of deceit, enticing society to follow a tall tale which influences their worldview.

Menzies is in good company. A certain David Irving flew in the face of criticism and denied the Holocaust. And no doubt there are a few sales to be made from neo-Nazis, even though, like Menzies’, Irving’s theories a based on dodgy evidence and outright lies. But the more academics that criticise it, the more nutjobs that buy it. Ian Wishart clearly knows the formula too!

Menzies must have made a killing from his books. They have been hugely popular in China and have even been quoted by Chinese President Hu. And with China’s massive population, and the potential sales, there are one billion reasons to make shit up.


My truth is more true than your truth! by underground

Blog surfing can be an enlightening past time, not so much for what you can learn about the world, but about the people in the world. I do believe that for some things there are objective truths, things that either occurred or did not, things that exist or do not. The world is flat, or it isn’t, the bible is true, or it isn’t, evolution occurred or it did not. Unfortunately, for many of these truths, the answer has either not been discovered, or the answers are not accepted by all. So in the blogosphere debates fly around with two or more sides with contrary views, with no likely resolution or agreement. The cause of these differences are the different preconceptions we each enter the debate with, which are based on “facts” differing from their opponents. We each choose to believe the “truths” that reinforce our worldview, so where I might easily accept scientific findings, another may find them caustic. No amount of statistically citations, historical references or reasoned arguments will persuade the other side, who hold beliefs based on completely different stats, historical facts and arguments (or just blind faith!). Someone is misinformed, someone is probably wrong. But you never convince them otherwise, because their opinions are the product of years of experiences that differ from our own. And they will point to their “truths”, credible or not, and feel assured that they are right. As Russell once said, man is not after knowledge, but security (Quote is not verbatim. I read it in a book a while back, although I am questioning the books credibility because I cannot find the quote online!). So we are “destined” to disagree, and continue to always disagree, but the “truth” will never please everyone

So what good are these internet debates we have? Continue reading

Sexpelled: No intercourse allowed by underground

When something is as ridiculous as Expelled, it deserves only ridicule. The absurd claims that film makes can be countered with rational and reasoned arguments till the cows come home, but if people are going to opt for faith over facts, there is no reasoning to be made. Having dealt with ID proponents sufficiently in The God Delusion, and other essays and interviews, and considering the ID peoples complete inability to engage in the debate, Richard Dawkins knows how futile it is to take them on with science. Turning his hand to satire, Dawkins shows in this brief clip how the ID position can be adopted by other creation myths, illustrating how the scientific community has completely shut out the theory that babies are not created through sexual intercourse, but are delivered by a stalk.

Here is the great synopsis that was included with the clip on the Richard Dawkins website: Continue reading

“Use the (reasonable) force, Luke!” by underground

To accompany my blog on statistics used to support arguments, I thought I’d post a few thoughts on the repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act, and on lobby groups in general. These thoughts are no doubt unpopular, but it’s good to disclose ones opinion! It is somewhat simplistic, there are a few generalisations and even an admission of ignorance. However this is far more honesty and sincerity than you would ever get from the deceitful lobby groups in this country. I’m not finished with them on this blog! Continue reading

The Ethics of an Atheist by underground

To complement my Monopoly of morality post, this post looks at where atheists get their morals. That post argued that atheists are as ethical as theists and therefore Christianity’s claim to all things moral is unsubstantiated. That argument was brief, and could certainly be added to. This post will look at how evolution is said to have provided us with the morals that we value.

For atheists to justify themselves, it almost takes more than a “but it says so in the bible” style argument. Hence in blog debates, atheist comments tend to be longer and cite more sources, than their Christian counterparts. That is why I’m taking this rant to my blog, instead of posting it as a comment to a debate I’m currently engaged in. Continue reading

Irrational Design by underground

Apparently there is some film entitled “expelled” that seeks to illustrate how the scientific community are keeping the Intelligent Design movement from debating evolution on public. I have not seen the film, do not really wish to, as it can only be the type of damage control publicity stunt we have come to expect from ID proponents. ID has been dismissed by far more qualified people then myself, but clearly these people are not listening. It really is quite simple, there’s not much to not understand. So let me kindly give the ID fans the answer as to why no one takes them seriously. Continue reading

Credibility of a creep by underground

Polls conducted by the likes of Readers Digest magazine and others frequently find journalists alongside lawyers and used car salesmen as the publics’ least trusted professions. Considering that journalism students study ethics and are usually idealist people concerned with objectivity and impartiality (we are also naive!), from where does the public get this perception? Much of it must be for the gutter journalism that dominates the television in particular. Insensitive interviews, sensationalist stories, the hounding of victims and the pursuit of tragedy give viewers the impression of journalists as cold-hearted egocentric vampires. All it takes are a few bad eggs, and all journalists are unfairly smeared as untrustworthy. There is one I consider to be particularly rotten.

Ian Wishart. Helen Clark was kind when she called him a creep. I can think of another word starting with C that would be more appropriate. Continue reading