After several years, the powers that be at IMDb have finally decided to call time on their message boards. In this meerkat’s view, this is long overdue. These forums have long been a hotbed of racist, bigoted, misogynistic posts, and meaningful discussion has been a hopeless dream. I will admit to a certain sense of dismay – buried within all the crap there have been a few nuggets of gold, and some conversations worth having – whether to challenge the ignorant or simply to find kindred spirits.

Still, it is hardly a bad thing that the forums are soon going to go.

Occasionally I visit a site called Debate.org. It’s exactly what it says it is – a site where people can start and take part in debates. These have a set structure and can take place in written or video form. The site could be better, and a lot of people treat it as a vehicle to start debates in order to boost their stats (they stack the deck in their favour with the question they ask and the rules of the debate), but there is room to grow.

I am in fact engaged in a debate as I type. I’m posting it here, for posterity. My posts are in blue, ViceRegent’s are in purple. The debate header is ‘how do atheists know fact from fiction?’

IF YOU ARE UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO READ THIS WHOLE POST AND THEN RESPOND TO THE SINGLE QUESTION IT ASKS, GO AWAY. I FIND IT HILARIOUS THAT THESE ATHEISTS KEEP VOMITING WORDS AND YET NOT ONE HAS ANSWERED MY Q.

Atheists love to live under the delusion that they are the guardians of rationality. But how can they hold this title when they cannot even articulate a rational way to know truth from fiction. If they cannot do this, they are literally ignorant and the ignorant cannot guard anything. SO, BY WHAT METHOD DOES ANY ATHEIST CLAIM TO RATIONALLY KNOW TRUTH FROM FICTION?

Answering this question is the sole purpose for this debate. I have even put it in capital letters for those to dense to get it. If you are unable or unwilling to answer this question, do not respond to this debate. Likewise, if you do not believe in reality, believe you make it up or deny it is objective or knowable, or if you do not know how to rationally know truth from fiction, do not respond to this debate. If you are terrified of cross-examination or madly in love with red herrings, do not respond to this debate. If you have responded before, do not respond to this debate. After all, if you had nothing rational to say then, you will having nothing rational to say now.

If all you have is “science”, do not respond to this debate, for science relies on the your senses and reason, which begs the question of how you know your senses and reason are valid. Perhaps you can tell me, which is fine, but if the way you validate you senses and reason is with your senses and reason, you lose the debate because that is circular reasoning and circular reasoning is not rational.

if you respond in violation of these rules, you automatically lose the debate.

This is what I mean by stacking the deck. ViceRegent doesn’t want the scientific explanation – he wants to turn to metaphysics, and is therefore trying to squeeze the debate down a specific direction.

I’ve also highlighted what I consider to be a verrrry interesting sentence. As the discussion wears on, we shall see why I noted it.

I’ll bite on this one. Your question is how atheists know truth from fiction – firstly, I would seek clarification here – when you refer to ‘truth’, in what context do you apply the term? Is it in the sense of ‘fact from fiction’, in respect of our existence and the world around us? And what is the counter-point to this? Are you addressing your side of this debate from a religious perspective?

Your opening argument tells people to not use science, as science is based on senses. What would you use to judge the world around us, other than our senses? Observation of the world we live in has been central to our progress throughout human history. If not for applying principles of observation and deduction, how would we have ever developed the wheel, much less anything else?

How do I know my senses are valid? I know my sense of touch is valid by the simple observation that if I touch a flame, it burns and hurts. I know my sense of hearing is valid because I can hear my daughter singing, even though she’s supposed to be asleep.

The manner in which you have set up your question is deliberately designed to remove the most straight-forward and best means of addressing it. I would have to ask why? What would you replace observation and study with, when determining what is fact and what is fiction about our universe?

This dude is confused. He pretends he does not understand my question, but answers it anyway, proving anything are delusional.

He then says he knows his senses are valid because they provide him valid sensory input. Really? Man, I love the smell of cognitive dissonance and question begging in the morning. Dude, how do you know that what you perceive as a candle that burns is not really your daughter singing? And try not to argue irrationally this time.

I’m not really sure how questioning his false dilemma is being irrational, but sadly this appears to be the route ViceRegent wishes to take. His use of ad hominems isn’t exactly adding to his argument either.

With all due respect, from the increase in the rhetoric (which was also present in your first post), I have to draw into question why you posed this question, in the manner you did. You failed to address my point about what you would replace study and observation with, and failed to explain why you need to remove this principle from the equation.

It seems to me you need to remove science from the equation because you are arguing (however subtly) that the key reason we perceive anything is because God or a deity of some description is the driving force behind how we separate fact from fiction. This is why you are keen to remove anything that can threaten this notion – and why you are attempting to reject argument framed from a scientific perspective. You cannot argue against principles such as nerve impulses firing signals to our brains that tell us we have heard a sound or experienced a physical sensation, so you seek to remove them from the discussion entirely.

That is intellectually dishonest. You are trying to stack the deck so you can get only one possible answer.

How do I separate the fact that 1+1 = 2 from the fiction that 1+1 = 3? Because we have built complex machines from such facts, and if they were in fact, not true and not demonstrable, these machines should cease to function. They are built upon our observed understanding of the universe, and this is not fiction, otherwise we not be able to use this understanding to help us create things like microwave ovens and computers.

I wonder if you will now attempt to address my rebuttal, or will you ramp up your rhetoric again?

This fool continues to beg the question. He continues to say his senses are valid because of what his senses perceive. I will ask him one more time: how does he know that the candle that he perceives to burn his fingers is not really his daughter singing? I will put this more simply with the hope he will get it this time: the world is full of delusional people. How does he know he is not one of them.

Nothing here but more insults and a further attempt to justify why he needs to remove science in order to make his point. He cannot form this question without taking science out of the equation, because he knows it invalidates his (poorly defined) position.

From your increasing hostility I have to call into question whether you want a rational discussion, or merely a platform from which to spout anti-scientific propaganda. I will ask YOU once again – why do you feel the need to remove science from the equation? Why are you afraid of rational explanations for why we experience the world in the fashion that we do?

How do I know when I have burned myself? Because the nerve endings in my finger process the sensation and send it to my brain. What alternative suggestion do you have for how I know I’ve burned myself? What is YOUR answer to the question? Or will you continue to fail to address the arguments presented, in favour of your bizarre insistence that we cannot use logic and observation to reach conclusions?

Now he has run from the Q I actually asked substituting it for one I did not. Amazingly, what this fool does not get is that I am denying he has any way of knowing he has burned himself given his worldview. He proves this by not even understanding what I am asking him let alone having an answer. He loses the debate.

Your declaration of victory is premature. 

Your question is dishonest. Since you cannot argue against scientific means of measurement you seek to remove them entirely. You have asked this question multiple times within the past few days or so, and I suspect you will get similar answers. They won’t be the answers you’re looking for, but that’s because won’t play your game.

Let me ask you – how YOU know you have burned yourself? Because God told you? Are you capable of answering your own question in a logical fashion, or would you shirk from this, using insults to cover the weakness in your position? 

This debate, and some additional thoughts, can be viewed here, if anyone wants to take a look. 

So there you have the complete article, as it were. I invite readers to make up their own minds. 

This was my face earlier today when I read a bold-faced lie concerning my gender. It was less a reaction of anger and more one of utter astonishment that anyone could post such an easily-refuted statement about another human being.

Keep in mind that the arguments proposed by Dart come from a person who feels like a woman and dresses like one even though his precious science has told him he is not a woman. So his position on science is based upon whatever benefits him and not the truth. Oh and we do not need science to determine what gender a person really is, we just have to use our eyes and look between the legs.

Yup, someone really did write that about me. To see the context behind it, you should look here

So, what’s the issue here? Well, given the discussion was about whether or not science can be considered ‘evil’ (and therefore dismissed when it comes to explanations of our origins), I would say the chief issue is an obvious poisoning of the well fallacy. This particular fallacy involves discrediting an argument by attacking the person who made it. The idea is to say ‘look, that person endorses or indulges in behaviour X, therefore their theories are wrong’. It’s a lazy method of debating that is also a tacit admission of defeat – at least in my view.

My gender, my orientation and indeed anything about me personally aren’t relevant to the discussion. For the record, I am not transgender, and I don’t wear women’s clothing, but even if I were transgender, it would only be an issue if there was an underlying bigotry driving the argument. It’s aimed at being an insult because the person making the suggestion would consider it an insult – but it fails because I am not offended, only annoyed that the party involved makes the suggestion in order to avoid answering my points. It’s an evasion technique, and not a very good one. It’s an outright lie, from someone who likes to claim the moral high ground.

I recently discovered a very entertaining blog called The Captain’s Speech. If you don’t already follow it, please check it out, it’s brilliant!

The author, Paul, recently undertook a mammoth task of writing letters to people who requested it of him. Given he has well over a thousand followers, I will for once be grateful that I only have 40 or so followers and would find this much easier!

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(yay, I have less followers… wait, what?)

Since Paul took the time to write a letter to me, it feels only right that I reply!

 

Dear Paul,

Your letter arrived, as is appropriate to any letter received by any person in Essex, in a fake-tan envelope carried by Joey Essex himself (yes, he’s real. Yes, he did once ask if the Moon was electric). The Queen was unavailable, having taken a break after all the intense games of Twister we’d been playing earlier.

I can honestly say I’d never made the weight connection before with the tea and abductions. I’ll make a point of avoiding the tea (I think I missed out on some really interesting procedures because of it) in future.

Paddington is one of the sweetest, gentlest bears you could ever hope to meet. He does however, have a tendency to get lost and hang around train stations. Also, if the marmalade starts to melt, he gets sticky, so be careful when you hug him.

Mr Bean is certainly iconic, but he has nothing on Blackadder. Oddly enough, they look very similar.

As far as food goes, crumpets are not taken with tea as often as they should. Then again, Essex is more about bling and fake-tan, rather than food. ‘Pip pip cheerio’ has become ‘cya mate’ in these parts. Boring I know.

I was relieved to see at the end of your letter that the moose had escaped. Did one of those kind mounties help find it?

Right, Nintendo. What can I say? It was… 1989 I believe, at Christmas, when my parents unveiled the Nintendo Entertainment System to my brother and I. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and we loved it. As time went by it would be me who became the bigger Nintendo fan, sometimes loyal to a fault. The original Super Mario Bros and its sequels became a staple of my gaming world, but it was the SNES where my love of Nintendo truly blossomed. Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Starfox were just some of the games that for me defined an era, along with Street Fighter 2, Yoshi’s Island and so many more. Whilst I’ve come to appreciate PC gaming, and I’ve played on X Boxes and PlayStations, Nintendo is what I go back to. I really really want a Nintendo NX, and I want Breath of the Wild for it. We’ll have to see what pans out there.

My love of Formula 1 began around the same sort of time. My earliest memories of watching it also come from 1989, watching Nigel Mansell in his Ferrari trying to battle with the superior McLarens of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. I have a romanticised view of F1 from that era – Mansell was my boyhood hero.

Have I been to a race? Once, Silverstone in 2013. Vettel retired right across the track from where we were sitting. The noise was staggering. I’d love to go again.

I didn’t appreciate Michael Schumacher when he was racing. Maybe it was that move on Damon Hill in Australia in 1994, or his repeat move on Villenueve in 1997? I just couldn’t warm to him – though any discussion on who is the greatest ever has to include him – 7 time champion and 91 wins – he’s earned his place in the pantheon.

Fun fact – I actually hail from the same town as Lewis Hamilton – Stevenage. His experiences of the place were a little different to mine!

I hope the moose stays safe, and you never know, perhaps it will be you who abducts me?

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(well, this just got awkward!)

Merry Musings,

 

Ben

 

 

 

Twitter is not distinguishing itself of late. Declare yourself a supporter of something and be prepared to reap a truck-load of abuse – some subtle, some not so much. My previous post detailed the sort of post that can arise for daring to say you support feminism (or that you consider yourself to be a feminist). The author of that tweet (and others like him) chooses to lash out with anger. He chooses to be as misogynistic as possible (after all, he needs to put those pesky women back in their place!).

This kind of Twitter troll is sadly all-too common. They are anonymous (naturally), and frankly, they are cowards. They are not the only Twitter trolls though, some are subtle.

Take for example the argument that boys are falling further behind academically because ‘feminism’. Take the idea that there’s a ‘war on masculinity’. These are trumped up scare tactics.

But don’t take my word for it. This interesting article from CBS features an attempt to blame feminism but also features the pointed rebuttal that feminists do not actively seek to push boys down in order to elevate girls. Indeed, where is the effort among men to help boys succeed at school? The Economist also has an article about this.

The salient point to be had is that blaming feminism (read, a drive toward equal opportunity) is a very simplistic, inaccurate approach. What MRAs don’t want to remotely consider is that on a level playing field, women might actually be more academically inclined than we are. Not unsurprisingly, the sort of SJW that argues feminism hurts boys and men because that fits his narrative – a detailed look at the issue reveals that in some countries girls lag behind boys, and who lags behind who also depends on the subject. But don’t present this to the SJW – it doesn’t fit the narrative!

Another disingenuous tactic is to focus on the minute details. In their haste to complain that rape is defined as a penetrative act that women cannot perform on men here in the UK, the SJW conveniently ‘forgets’ that women are statistically more likely to be the victim of sexual crime. The SJW also makes this point about India – and again, conveniently forgets which gender faces the majority of sex offences.

You might also want to look here for more details on the rape crisis in India. It is harrowing stuff.

In a bid to cloud the issue and somehow make it seem that men are at a disadvantage, the SJW throws out all the evidence that shows women are – and continue to be – the primary victims of sexual crime – a classic misogynistic approach.

There is yet more more! In an attempt to argue that rates of domestic abuse are more or less the same, the SJW ignores government statistics (you’ll need a PDF viewer to open the link).

Women are more likely to be the victims of spousal abuse and partner abuse in the USA too. But apparently it’s men who are in more desperate need because ‘raaawr, feminazis!’

I could go on, and might well do so, but not right now. I have more important things to do than indulging anonymous, cowardly Twitter trolls.

Let’s chew on the below screenshot of a particularly ‘interesting’ Twitter conversation:

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Ok, let me see if I’ve got this right – I am a ‘fag’ (a homophopic term for a homosexual), who ‘hates men’.

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(the stupid, it hurts!)

There’s quite a bit more to this story, but isn’t not really mine to tell. Stay tuned for more!

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Josh runs The Friday Blog. There’s an undercurrent of wit about this blog that I really like, a sort of omnipresent sideways grin.

A nomination for an award, for me?! Firstly, many thanks to B.G of Getting Through Anxiety for nominating me – if you haven’t already done so then please check out her blog – it’s really good!

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So, as per the rules, I need to nominate 12 other bloggers for this award.

Firstly, I nominate Getting Through Anxiety, and not because she nominated me. The blog is both insightful and thought-provoking, as any good blog should be.

The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise is not only the title of the next site, but a humourous and passionate insight into feminism in the modern world.

The Bookmark Chronicles is a good site to visit for both quizzes, and for frank discussions about race.

What is it like to be an Englishman living in France? Just Merveilleux has the answer, and reminds us that same-sex couples are just like anyone else.

Tom from Shouts from the Abyss is the self-styled Guru of Negativity. One look and you’ll know why.

The author of Anger Spread Thin is punchy, spirited and eloquent. Please check out what she has to say.

Next up is the Nudge Wink Report. In truth, this is a group blog (one that Carla, Tom and I contribute to), but it’s the brainchild of Blogdramedy, so she gets the credit for this one! It’s all about humourous observations, and it’s very funny!

Next up is a more unusual choice. I can’t say I agree with everything he has to say, but Paul of Blogging Theology certainly offers interesting conversation!

Playing Chess with Pigeons is a funny yet factual site that picks apart creationism.

David Ellis is another contributer to Nudge Wink. He’s an author and I like what he says on his blog.

There are five questions to answer too. Here Goes:

Why did you start a Blog?

I don’t know if I can pinpoint an answer to this. Originally Meerkat Musings started as a site, with a blog attached to it, but the blogging aspect of it quickly became the dominant theme. I guess why I do it is because I can share my experiences and perspectives with other people, on an almost daily basis if I so choose. I enjoy that.

What is your favourite Book?

Another tough question. I can point to many books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed down the years, and I honestly don’t know if I could name a favourite. I really enjoyed ‘Old Man’s War’ and ‘The Last Colony’ by John Scalzi. ‘The Reality Dysfunction’ by Peter F. Hamilton is another really good read.

What do you dislike the most?

I can’t stand needless aggression and digs made at people. There’s usually no need for it and it irritates me. I for one don’t respond well to snappy remarks and gestures – it’s inclined to make me respond in kind, or ignore the person making the remarks completely.

What is your favourite food item from the mall?

At my local shopping centre there are many options, and they all tantalise me. Taco Bell is different to the usual burger joints, whilst there’s a fish and chip restaurant that I thoroughly love.

I dare say though, it’s Burger King and the bacon double cheese burger that claims victory.

What is your favourite pastime?

Ooooh. Erm. I don’t think I can pick one! I enjoy writing, I play video games, I watch movies and I read books. Sometimes I like to stretch my legs and go for a walk. I’ll listen to music whilst going for a walk. Swimming is another enjoyable activity. Don’t ask me to choose!