Thought of the day

Always fight speech you don’t like with more speech. Don’t abuse the legal system to get your way.

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Congrats to Jon Gale

I don’t remember the last time I was registered as a Democrat, but it hasn’t been for many years. And I still don’t consider myself one, even if many of my political positions line up with the party. However, I recently learned that an attorney who helped out Black Lives Matter in Portland, Maine with some pro Bono work was running for Cumberland County DA. He also had a good amount of experience has a defense attorney – something I think is important. So I registered as a Democrat yesterday just so I could vote for him. And also so I could vote against at least one odious candidate who I know for a fact has perjured herself in front of Maine courts while also intentionally violating Sixth Amendment rights/hiding malfeasance from the press and public. Thankfully, it looks like Gale has taken the race with a 3 point margin of victory.

A true honor: For the Sake of Science is partially blocked in Pakistan

I have received a wonderful email:

Hello,

A Pakistan authority has issued a demand to block a file on your WordPress.com site:

Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in Pakistan. We will not be challenging this demand, but if you wish to discuss what the legal avenues of appeal may be, please get in touch as soon as possible. There is usually a very short period of time in which objections can be lodged.

As a result of this demand, the file (below) on your site is now inaccessible for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked.

Visitors from outside of Pakistan are not affected.

And I was so close to turning the tide against believing in religious nonsense in Pakistan, too.

It tickles my fancy to know that there’s some censorious schmuck over in Pakistan tasked with finding random pictures insulting Islam from nearly 10 years ago. Of course, censorship is always a tragedy, but I suppose the silver lining here is that the sort of person who willingly censors others in violation of their basic human rights is also the sort of person who will have a tendency to go to extremes to punish those who they think should be censored. I’ve faced scum like that first-hand. So I guess it’s better that this Pakistani authority/human rights violator is sitting behind a desk rather than in a position of real power.

Also, not for nothing, but since Christianity dominates in Western culture that tends to favor free speech, my site hasn’t been blocked anywhere for posting a YMCA-Jesus pose picture in that same post.

A quick thought on the death penalty

The reason I oppose the death penalty isn’t because of its cost or the possibility of an innocent person being killed or because no government should have the right to put its own citizens to death. Those aren’t necessarily bad reasons – particularly the last one – but I simply can’t wrap my head around someone coming to a profound moral conclusion based on something like cost. That simply should not be an important factor in deciding what is moral and immoral. Rather, I oppose the death penalty because it is murder-by-committee. Instituting a process doesn’t change that fact. Taking the life of a person who poses no immediate threat is murder is murder is murder. (And, no, that doesn’t mean prison is nothing more than kidnapping: ostensibly, imprisoning someone is for the short-term and long-term safety of society, so it serves a legitimate purpose not found in kidnapping.)

Bizarrely, this position is often met with the same asinine argument over and over: murder is a legal concept and the death penalty is not illegal, therefore the death penalty is not murder. I mean, really. Do people actually think that if governments cease to exist at some point in the future – and surely, before the Sun collapses on itself, they will – that murder will also cease to exist? Did murder simply not exist during the first 190,000 or so years of human existence before the first civilizations? Because these are some of the positions a person necessarily must hold in order to assert that murder is defined by government and government alone.

And if that isn’t enough to dissuade someone from taking the above argument seriously, then consider all the horrible regimes that have existed throughout time. How many genocidal events have occurred where the host government considered its own actions illegal? Was the Holocaust not murder on a massive scale because Hitler said it was an okey-dokey thing to do?

What is a gene?

I remember one of the first biology-based debates I found myself in was in some random message board devoted to music. I can’t for the life of me remember what the board was, and I doubt it still exists today anyway, but I recall music being central to what brought me there. Of course, there were plenty of other subjects up for discussion at this place and in its various forums, and that led me into some useless debate with a racist metal head. (I’m sure his racism and affinity for metal were quite independent of each other.) He was making some claim about black people and intelligence, and he kept referencing some gene he seemed convinced proved his point. This was probably well over 15 years ago, so I don’t recall many of the specifics, but I do recall not really knowing what a gene was, so it was difficult to counter him effectively. I tried looking it up, but there really weren’t any easy-to-digest answers for someone who didn’t know what to look for in the first place. And, of course, this was a bit before the days of YouTube (and Wikipedia was in its infancy). Fortunately, for better or worse, the Internet is a far different place today. As such, I wanted to post a YouTube video I found in the hope that any person who finds himself in a similar situation to mine from years past would be able to gain a quick understanding of what a gene is. There’s a certain type of person who loves to use science to justify a belief he would hold no matter what, and relatively-educated racists are among them. Here’s the short video:

Thought of the day

In any debate, there’s a good chance one or both sides will find something frustrating. It happens to me all the time. That’s the nature of debate. However, I think one of the more insidious ways frustration creeps in – especially in our 2018, you-either-100%-agree-with-me-or-you’re-literally-a-Nazi/commie/libtard/cuck culture – is when a person refuses to acknowledge that one particular point they’ve been using might be bad or in some way flawed. There seems to be this belief that if a single thing about an argument is wrong, then the entire conclusion and/or the broader point(s) being made have to be thrown out. Many of my more recent posts focus on this sort of thing. For example:

In this post, I talked about people who used bad correlation to claim Confederate statues were racist. The correlation sucked and it was bad science. But does any reasonable person think that means the case for Confederate statues being racist just got weaker?

In this post, Shaun King claimed 1) Thomas Jefferson never did anything as President to stop slavery and 2) Jefferson refused to free Sally Hemings while he was alive. The first claim is blatantly false and the second one is dubious; delving into the second claim reveals that Sally Hemings, while in the free country of France where she was paid a wage, actually negotiated a future for herself and her children. None of these facts mean King has to stop hating Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves with whom he fathered upwards of 6 children.

In this post, I talked about the nonsense claims that said Joe Arpaio was accepting guilt by accepting his pardon. The case law supports exactly the opposite conclusion, and, ultimately, the issue isn’t settled law. But does that mean Joe Arpaio isn’t a racist piece of shit who knowingly broke a host of laws? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean my point wasn’t met (elsewhere) with accusations of supporting Arpaio and his shitty policies.

I greatly dislike the level of polarization that permeates seemingly everything today. Person 1 should be able to draw conclusion X while using points A, B, C, D, and E, and Person 2 should be able to agree with conclusion X even though he may reject point C. Why Person 1 so often thinks this means he must be mortal enemies with Person 2 is both baffling and disheartening.

No, reddit, the Catholic Church has not accepted Darwinian evolution since 1950

The website reddit has recently been making notable shifts in its behavior. While it was once a place for open discussion and the relatively free exchange of ideas, the past several years have seen the owners change gears in an attempt to attract far more advertisers. We see this most blatantly when they suddenly shut down a forum, known within the site as a “sub” or “subreddit”, after a reporter (such as Anderson Cooper) sheds light on some questionable content being peddled on the site. Sometimes this is actually the right move by the reddit owners, but they almost never do it for the right reasons. Again, they’re interested in advertiser money. That’s it.

But merely shutting down bad content isn’t the only way the site has taken to putting on an ad-friendly face. When one of the owners went on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last year, he made it a point to push the ‘wholesome’ content of the website (despite a sizeable portion of its traffic coming from porn). Not long after, subreddits with the word “wholesome” in them began growing and growing. Some of this can likely be attributed to the national exposure they were given, but much of it is likely due to content manipulation where the reddit owners and employees push preferred content to the ‘front page’. This is surely why the site transitioned from being open source to close source – there’s no longer any way for users to confirm whether or not voted-on content has been altered to appear more popular than it is. And that vote manipulation (which has endless examples from just this past year, it seems) continues with this objectively incorrect post from the subreddit “Today I learned” (or TIL):

TIL the Catholic Church has accepted Darwinian evolution as compatible with Christianity since 1950.

Many of the top comments in the thread talk about how people who attended Catholic schools were taught evolution without issue, or how Catholics themselves have been responsible for many scientific theories and ideas. And, ‘naturally’, one prominent comment talks about how nice the thread is.

Of course, it’s all bullshit.

The reality is that the Catholic Church believes in the magic that is theistic evolution. This is not Darwinian in any sense of the word. This is an entirely made-up version of evolution that says humans were destined to exist. That is not what evolution says at all. Nothing in the theory dictates that humans or human-like beings will come into existence.

But let’s look at what Pope Pious XII actually had to say about evolution in 1950:

Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution.

He goes on to insult communists after this, so it isn’t easy to parse the politics of the writing from the commentary about biology, but it is clear that the Catholic Church did not believe that evolution had been proven. Saying something like that is equally as wrong as saying the theory of gravity has not been proven. Furthermore, the Church also didn’t believe that evolution was still occurring. This, of course, was and is wrong. Evolution does not stop so long as life continues. Humans are not its culmination – it has no culmination. It has replicators that replicate and change over time.

For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

Here is a great example of where the Church 1) does not understand evolution and 2) holds a position in contradiction to evolution. Notice where the Pope says the Church holds that souls are immediately created by God. That is, souls are immortal and eternal while bodies are mortal and temporal. The soul, per the Church, has always existed and will always exist. It is merely joined to an earthly human body for a brief period. But there was no first human body. Evolution occurs on a spectrum and we are only able to define what makes a species its own species because of time and separation. One generation of Species A does not give birth to a generation of Species B. So that forces the issue: does the Church believe there was a first human? If so, did its mother and father not have souls? And what about neanderthals? Or our other human-like cousins? Did they have souls?

The bottom line is that theistic evolution requires that 1) humans were inevitable, 2) humans are the culmination or peak of evolution, and 3) there was a distinct, definable first human. Darwinian evolution, on the other, correct hand, tells us that none of those things are true. Nothing in evolution, aside from change itself, is inevitable. Legs? Lungs? Brains? Fingers? Speech? Fins? Wings? None of that is inevitable. And nothing, including humans, can constitute the culmination or peak of evolution. And, again, species are fluid. Species A will always give birth to another generation of Species A.

But I’m sure the reddit powers-that-be are happy to know their advertisers are seeing positivity and a favorable view being given to religion, so none of these pesky facts really matter.