Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Devil's Music

I've got that Evil Feeling, whooa-oa-ooo.

There is, of course, incontrovertible evidence that Rock music, and especially Heavy Metal, is the Devil's music. There's no use denying it since many of its practitioners come right out and admit it:

"Rock has always been THE DEVIL'S MUSIC . . . I believe rock and roll is dangerous . . . I feel we're only heralding SOMETHING EVEN DARKER THAN OURSELVES."
-- David Bowie, Rolling Stone magazine (Feb. 12, 1976)

He was right, the music has gotten darker.

"Hopefully, I'll be remembered as the person who brought an end to Christianity."
-- Marilyn Manson, Spin magazine, August 1996

And just look at this album cover:

Or this one:

And if you're still not convinced check out "Hail Satan," or Black Sabbath's N.I.B. or the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil."

According to the paranoid conspiracy theorists at Dial-the-Truth Ministries, a phone and internet based evangelical "resource," the devil in music isn't just theatrics and stunts because they really do believe in the Devil:

Modern electronic-rock music, inaugurated in the early 1960s, is, and always has been, a joint enterprise of British military intelligence and Satanic cults. On the one side, the Satanists control the major rock groups through drugs, sex, threats of violence, and even murder. On the other side, publicity, tours, and recordings are financed by record companies connected to British military intelligence circles. Both sides are intimately entwined with the biggest business in the world, the international drug trade.

Of course "Devil music" itself really wasn't inaugurated in the 1960s, it has been around a lot longer. Long, long before we even had enough electricity to power an electric guitar's amplifier, Lucifer was into evil satanic music. There was a Demonic 7th chord long before Rock and Roll existed.

Even before Christianity existed the seemingly supernatural power of music was noted by the ancients, the Sirens could draw men in with their songs and they even tempt Odysseus. Back in the more recent old days Satan favored red violins. So, this is what Satanic music would have sounded like before guitars were electrified:

However, after the Devil lost his gold violin in a bet to some hay chewin' hick from Georgia the violin has taken on a slightly more Christian aura, though nothing like that of the harp. It's nearly impossible to summon satanic feelings with a harp. Or try doing Satanic music with a church's pipe organ.

The next candidate for Devil music was Jazz:

As jazz's popularity grew, so did campaigns to censor "the devil's music." Early detractors like Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, ridiculed jazz, saying it sounded better played backwards. A Cincinnati home for expectant mothers won an injunction to prevent construction of a neighboring theater where jazz would be played, convincing a court that the music was dangerous to fetuses. By the end of the 1920s, at least sixty communities across the nation had enacted laws prohibiting jazz in public dance halls.

So, beware of sax and violins, but unamplified string instruments seem to be okay. The aura of holiness (usually vague, vaporous and hardly there with more higher notes and no strong beat when compared to metal), some unamplified string instruments currently have comes from Christianity's taste for all things old and moldy, for science and modernity itself are satanic. Today some Christians seem to have the impression that all modern music is of the devil and that classical music is of God. Yet, the great classical composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven also had to deal with accusations of Satanic influence.

Every innovation in the arts is viewed with suspicion, but eventually the Christian culture overcomes its devil fears of certain sound styles and adopts the new art form. Thus today we have Christian Heavy Metal bands like Barnabas, Bloodgood, Crimson Thorn, Rage of Angels, Seventh Angel and Vengeance Rising. Can you tell the difference between Christian Metal and Satanic Metal? Well, one of those Christian groups, Vengeance Rising, manage to sound more sick, demonic, twisted and EVIL than supposed devil worshiping bands like Morbid Angel.

It's no wonder some Christians say that it's the music itself, so not even Christians can go anywhere near such dark Heavy Metal styling without risking their immortal souls, and without soles you'll have to walk through eternity barefoot, or maybe even on your ankle bones. Don't believe me? Okay, check out this guy:

And that means you Stryper!

Oh my Gawd! There are demons swirling around at even Christian heavy metal concerts. Is being a spiritually discerning Christian like being on acid? Well, those demons aren't visible to me. All I can subjectively pick up on is how it makes me feel, powerful, sexual, strong, dangerous... evil. And I like it. It is pretty irrelevant whether the metal band is Christian, Satanic or secular (are there secular metal bands?) And the proof that rock and roll is the Devil's music, because anything that feels this good has got to be bad.

Yes, they sold their souls for rock and roll, and now they're dead!

Actually, the blues guitarist Robert Johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the Devil. However, undisputed facts about the Delta Blues artist's life are few and far between and his legend obscures any look at the real man that might be seen in that legend. Like Paganini, anyone with the kind of extraordinary talent and skill that baffles other practitioners of the art will find jealous peers circulating rumors about them. And in credulous times and places where belief in deals with the Devil might seem credible that might be the rumor started. And these days artists might start that rumor themselves just to plug into the supernatural genius aura of the Devil.

Here's the Crossroads song, and here are the lyrics:

Cross Road Blues

I went down to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
I went down to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
Asked the lord above "Have mercy now
save poor Bob if you please"
Yeeooo, standin at the crossroad
tried to flag a ride
ooo ooo eee
I tried to flag a ride
Didn't nobody seem to know me babe
everybody pass me by
Standin at the crossroad babe
risin sun goin down
Standin at the crossroad babe
eee eee eee, risin sun goin down
I believe to my soul now,
Poor Bob is sinkin down
You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
(th)'at I got the croosroad blues this mornin Lord
babe, I'm sinkin down
And I went to the crossraod momma
I looked east and west
I went to the crossraod baby
I looked east and west
Lord, I didn't have no sweet woman
ooh-well babe, in my distress

Note that Robert Johnson is singing about a plea to "the lord above" (not below) for help. Next a song that mentions Satan and walking "side by side":

Me and the Devil Blues (take 1)

Early this mornin'
when you knocked upon my door
Early this mornin', ooh
when you knocked upon my door
And I said, "Hello, Satan,"
I believe it's time to go."

Me and the Devil
was walkin' side by side
Me and the Devil, ooh
was walkin' side by side
And I'm goin' to beat my woman
until I get satisfied

She say you don't see why
that you will dog me 'round
spoken: Now, babe, you know you ain't doin' me
right, don'cha
She say you don't see why, ooh
that you will dog me 'round
It must-a be that old evil spirit
so deep down in the ground

You may bury my body
down by the highway side
spoken: Baby, I don't care where you bury my
body when I'm dead and gone
You may bury my body, ooh
down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit
can catch a Greyhound bus and ride

I'll leave it at that and let you draw your own conclusions. The next YouTube clip is from Harun Yahya's operation and as always, he blames evolution:

So... atheism and evolution leads to Satanism? All of a sudden I'm going to believe in half of a theology I don't believe in? So what are we to make of all these darker metal bands that really do sing about Satan? Well, I can't get into their heads and you can be completely insane and still be a decent musician, but I think it's mostly done for theatrical effect.

There is an interesting irony in the fact that "Black Metal," the most extreme form of Heavy Metal, comes primarily from Northern Europe, the Nordic / Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden and Finland. While Heavy and even Death Metal are more of a worldwide phenomenon, with many recent groups coming from the U.S., "Black" Metal is essentially Nordic. The irony of this that in spite of the anger, violence, satanic and pathos-laden, and corny as well, music we see here, these countries are, according to Phil Zuckerman's new book (haven't read it), "Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment," some of the most peaceful and happy nations on the planet.

My first impression of Morbid Angel was that there was something profoundly stupid about what they were doing; it was like they took Black Sabbath's most ignorant and fundagelical critics seriously and then they decided to become the band those critics thought Black Sabbath was. And it worked for them! On one level they're a joke so incredulous in their conception that they couldn't be included in the film Spinal Tap without making that film seem too absurd to work. On another level they are probably the best example of an entire subgenre of metal, because they're not alone.

Morbid Angel represents a subgenre of Metal called "Death Metal" where all the groups feature these unintelligible, screaming, growling, throat cancer vocals. (Who is singing that, the cookie monster from Seseame Street?) There is a pounding beat, sparing use of high notes and extremely fuzzed out guitars. The lyrical content is almost always cartoonishly Satanic or repulsively Christian and violent.

It wasn't music to my ears at first. It was interesting to me more as a potentially neat sound effect for a horror movie since the low-pitched guttural growls that pass as vocals are nearly impossible to understand it could work as background music. I think Korn mixes a touch of Death Metal into more traditional Rock and achieves a wider emotional spectrum. Alas, music seems to be fragmenting into emotion specialties. In the old days when I was listening to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin they would include softer, gentler songs in with heavy, pounding rock and an album was a broader emotional trip.

Of course, I've developed a taste for it, but it's just one element of my weirdly eclectic tastes.

And if you've got a taste for it too, come back later and look for new links that will appear on this post. And if you've got some music to turn me on to, drop me a link in the comments section.

This is an in progress post.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Gift

(Or, the prototype for "Marilyn Manson's War on Christmas Special")

Gather round children, gather round... Now that the Natalis Domini festival is over it is time to learn the dark secret of Christmas. The secret is this: It's not Jesus' birthday. No one knows when, or even if, Jesus was born. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice was celebrated long, long before there was a Jesus, or Christianity. Various cultural mythologies and traditions had arisen long before our culture's religion claimed this day as their own.

Outside the sun has been on a decreasing arc across the Southern sky. On winter solstice the sun ceases to decline in the sky and the length of daylight reaches its minimum for three days. Then, on the night of winter solstice, as seen from a northern sky, the three stars in Orion's Belt align with the brightest star in the eastern sky Sirius to show where the Sun will rise on the morning after.

This was noted long before our religion existed. Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of Saturn, a large and important public festival that involved animal sacrifices. The concepts of birth or rebirth of sun gods was common. In seventh century Japan they celebrated the reemergence of Amaterasu or Amateras, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology. Requiems for the dead were held and rituals performed throughout the night as they awaited the sunrise. Aspects of this tradition have continued to this day. The indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, worshiped Beiwe, the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity. She traveled through the sky in a structure made of reindeer bones with her daughter, Beiwe-Neia, to herald back the greenery on which the reindeer fed. On the winter solstice, her worshipers sacrificed white female animals and covered their doorposts with butter so Beiwe could eat it and begin her flying journey once again.

So, huddle up shivering in your blanket near the crackling fire with a warm cup of Cocoa as the world outside is blanketed in this season's cadaverous snows, crystal and cold and deadly, for tonight you shall have a gift given in the true spirit of the long lost holidays of the ancients, the gift of Heavy Metal Delirium to help you through this the longest, and the darkest, night of the year.

Sweet dreams are made of this:


If you're confused by the comments here it's because I dropped some requests on other blogs for help looking for more music. I seem to have come down with a strange case of heavy metal musicophilia and you'll note that a lot of the linked music here is decades old. I'm wondering how out of touch I am with what's going on today in heavy metal. It once dominated my life in high school, but then sometime during college I stopped looking for new music. So, I am just getting started to again look for the music like I once did and your help would be appreciated. If you like the music I've got linked on this post and there's some band you think I might like to hear, drop a link into the comments section and share.

And if you're looking for new music yourself, here's a heavy metal critic's site you might find useful: Chad Bowar's Heavy Metal Guide.

My next metal post will probably be called "The Devils Music" and will feature "Hail Satan," Black Sabbath's N.I.B. and the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil." I'll also be looking for preachers railing against rock and roll.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is Obama real change?

PZ is afraid that Obama isn't going to be different enough. He has a post saying Obama is the "same as the old boss" just because Rick Warren is going to deliver Obama's inaugural invocation:

Obama had a chance to set a non-sectarian, progressive tone at this event, and he has chosen to kow-tow to the wretched evangelical movement.

Alas, that wretched evangelical movement represents a lot of voters and the alternative candidate, John McCain, had been paling around with far less savory evangelicals, like Rev. John Hagee.

I'm no fan of Rick Warren, as is apparent in my past posts on him, but I do think he represents an evolution away from the more destructive insanities of the fundagelicals. Even Dan Dennett had some compliments for Warren (see my post "Dealing with religion in a respectful manner" for Dennett's TED talk video on Warren and religion).

There was a Beliefnet interview where Warren equated gay marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy and he thought that without Prop 8, conservative preachers could be prosecuted for hate crimes. Rick Warren is not a liberal or even a moderate. He doesn't believe in evolution and he can say really dumb things:

SAM HARRIS: Then God also likes smallpox and tuberculosis.

RICK WARREN: I would attribute a lot of the sins in the world to myself.

SAM HARRIS: Are you responsible for smallpox?

However, unlike many big evangelical names, he doesn't exploit the hot-botton culture war issues in his books. He doesn't refuse communion to people who vote Democratic. He is apolitical in the pulpit. He has his views on those issues but he is more concerned with his message about "getting right with God," not with the Republican party. As such the choice helps to depoliticize those hot-button issues. Also, Warren never endorsed Obama. He just didn't endorse McCain either. He is consciously apolitical and tries to be non-divisive. Thus it is shrewd of Obama to choose him for inaugural invocation.

But I wonder if Obama will regret that choice once he hears Warren's actual inaugural invocation?

I still hope and believe Obama will bring some needed change, but I admit it's not going to be as much as I'd really like to see. That kind of change will require a big change in the American voters.


Christopher Hitchens echos PZ's opinion here, "Three Questions About Rick Warren's Role in the Inauguration."

Yet, so far it looks like Obama will force more change on Warren than Warren will on Obama. Consider, one thing that happened as a result of picking Warren is that we all found out how much of a bigot Warren was and how quickly he tried to hide it.

Before the pick Rick Warren explicitly banned "unrepentant" gays from membership in his church on his website. After the media controversy, that statement on his website went away. The Saddleback website posting that: "Someone unwilling to repent for their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback" was removed.

Maybe Obama knows what he's doing -- he seems to have picked up a right-wing theocrat he can easily manipulate.

I was wrong.

Some time after Warren removed the comments about gays not being accepted in his church, he put up a video at his Saddleback website claiming the media were lying about his past statements. He claimed that he never equated gay relationships with incest or pedophilia. Except, he did. I'm not sure what Warren's malfunction is, but he is also on video saying gay relationships were like a brother and sister marrying, or a an adult marrying a child. So, either he doesn't know that those are incest and pedophilia or he has forgotten saying them. What he didn't do was use the words incest and pedophilia, just examples of them.

In an additional segment, he says that "evil" gays who complained about him (and who couldn't possibly be Christian themselves?) are afraid of Christians and have Christ-o-phobia. I wonder how Andrew Sullivan feels about that?

I was okay with Warren before this, but now he's just gotten too stupid. Obama does have to throw this guy under the bus. I knew Warren would crash and burn eventually, but I had no idea it would be so soon.

Apparently you just can't trust any religious leaders to be either sane or intelligent.


Here, thanks to Ed Brayton, is Rachel Maddow doing a nice take down on Warren:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Too stupid to educate and conscious liars to boot

People who hide the evidence that they are dead wrong.

In my previous post, "Why they want to silence us," I suggested that the people controlling the comments on certain websites were consciously lying through their deletions of posts and the banning of people. I mean this in the sense that they knew they were hiding effective criticisms of their positions which they could not effectively argue against. In order to check this out I decided to run a little experiment over at Uncommon Descent.

After posting in only three threads for a short time, the experiment lasted less than four days and involved relatively little time or attention on my part, I first got a warning on the thread called "Information: Why the Darwinian Mechanism is Dead Except as an Explanation of the Trivial" initiated by GilDodgen.

And then within a few posts I was banned on the thread, "'Unpredictable' Does Not Equal 'Contingent'" initiated by Barry Arrington.

As you'll see if you explore the topic, Barry Arrington had written some things that were clearly and demonstratably wrong and when presented with evidence that it was wrong simply banned the two people who had pointed it out and never published our posts.

In the initial post Barry had said:

Now JT might counter that I only believe I had a choice in writing that sentence, that my consciousness is an illusion, and that my actions were governed by law as surely as the flight of the pieces of bombshell. Well that’s the question isn’t it. JT – and other materialists – do not know that my consciousness (and theirs) is an illusion.

Okay, may be JT and some neuroscientists would say that "consciousness is an illusion" but which ones? So, RoyK, the other person banned from the site, asked a simple question; who says "consciousness is an illusion"? And that's when Barry said something clearly and demonstratably wrong, he said "all of them."

RoyK says: “I’m curious: which materialists say that consciousness is an illusion?

How about “all of them.” If the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain, then it necessarily follows that consciousness is an illusion. All materialists say that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain, because all other explanations of the mind are non-materialist in nature.

RoyK, your question suggests one of two things: (1) you are deeply ignorant; or (2) you are just throwing rocks into the gears to see what happens.

Either way, you are on probation

The bolded emphasis is mine.

Soon after saying that both RoyK and I were banned and I suspect it was for the same reason, we linked to some materialist neuroscientists who clearly do not say that "consciousness is an illusion" or an "epiphenomenon of the brain."

The one example I linked was Marvin Minsky's article over at Edge called, "CONSCIOUSNESS IS A BIG SUITCASE." Minsky's position being not that consciousness is an illusion or an "epiphenomenon of the brain," but that the word itself lacked a clear definition:

Most words we use to describe our minds (like "consciousness", "learning", or "memory") are suitcase-like jumbles of different ideas. Those old ideas were formed long ago, before 'computer science' appeared. It was not until the 1950s that we began to develop better ways to help think about complex processes.

Computer science is not really about computers at all, but about ways to describe processes. As soon as those computers appeared, this became an urgent need. Soon after that we recognized that this was also what we'd need to describe the processes that might be involved in human thinking, reasoning, memory, and pattern recognition, etc.

And Minsky isn't the only one, but that one example was enough to get me banned from Uncommon Descent.

I could have also included Francis Crick and Christof Koch and their study of consciousness:

We assume that when people talk about "consciousness," there is something to be explained. While most neuroscientists acknowledge that consciousness exists, and that at present it is something of a mystery, most of them do not attempt to study it, mainly for one of two reasons:

(1) They consider it to be a philosophical problem, and so best left to philosophers.

(2) They concede that it is a scientific problem, but think it is premature to study it now.

We have taken exactly the opposite point of view. We think that most of the philosophical aspects of the problem should, for the moment, be left on one side, and that the time to start the scientific attack is now.

We can state bluntly the major question that neuroscience must first answer: It is probable that at any moment some active neuronal processes in your head correlate with consciousness, while others do not; what is the difference between them? In particular, are the neurons involved of any particular neuronal type? What is special (if anything) about their connections? And what is special (if anything) about their way of firing? The neuronal correlates of consciousness are often referred to as the NCC. Whenever some information is represented in the NCC it is represented in consciousness.

Or I could have linked "The Neuroscience of Consciousness" or "Will neuroscience explain consciousness?" or many other such examples. I just liked Minsky's clarity and simple language and didn't want to overwhelm him with examples.

Of course, by the time I posted my link Barry had waded so far into the depths of wrongness that there was no saving him:

Consciousness is by definition a subject-object proposition. In other words, to accept consciousness, one must accept that there is a subject (i.e, a mind) that has a particular relation to an object (i.e., is conscious of it).

He has no idea what he is talking about. Consciousness is no more an object than the "running" or "go" of a car is an object. As Minsky said, it's a process, a verb not a noun, it's something the brain does like the engine of a car makes the car run. Minsky had nailed him years before he said that:

Let's get back to those suitcase-words (like intuition or consciousness) that all of us use to encapsulate our jumbled ideas about our minds. We use those words as suitcases in which to contain all sorts of mysteries that we can't yet explain. This in turn leads us to regard these as though they were "things" with no structures to analyze. I think this is what leads so many of us to the dogma of dualism-the idea that 'subjective' matters lie in a realm that experimental science can never reach. Many philosophers, even today, hold the strange idea that there could be a machine that works and behaves just like a brain, yet does not experience consciousness. If that were the case, then this would imply that subjective feelings do not result from the processes that occur inside brains. Therefore (so the argument goes) a feeling must be a nonphysical thing that has no causes or consequences. Surely, no such thing could ever be explained!

The first thing wrong with this "argument" is that it starts by assuming what it's trying to prove. Could there actually exist a machine that is physically just like a person, but has none of that person's feelings? "Surely so," some philosophers say. "Given that feelings cannot not be physically detected, then it is 'logically possible' that some people have none." I regret to say that almost every student confronted with this can find no good reason to dissent. "Yes," they agree. "Obviously that is logically possible. Although it seems implausible, there's no way that it could be disproved."

The next thing wrong is the unsupported assumption that this is even "logically possible." To be sure of that, you'd need to have proved that no sound materialistic theory could correctly explain how a brain could produce the processes that we call "subjective experience." But again, that's just what we were trying to prove. What do those philosophers say when confronted by this argument? They usually answer with statements like this: "I just can't imagine how any theory could do that." That fallacy deserves a name-something like "incompetentium".

Another reason often claimed to show that consciousness can't be explained is that the sense of experience is 'irreducible.' "Experience is all or none. You either have it or you don't-and there can't be anything in between. It's an elemental attribute of mind-so it has no structure to analyze."

There are two quite different reasons why "something" might seem hard to explain. One is that it appears to be elementary and irreducible-as seemed Gravity before Einstein found his new way to look at it. The opposite case is when the 'thing' is so much more complicated than you imagine it is, that you just don't see any way to begin to describe it. This, I maintain, is why consciousness seems so mysterious. It is not that there's one basic and inexplicable essence there. Instead, it's precisely the opposite. Consciousness, instead, is an enormous suitcase that contains perhaps 40 or 50 different mechanisms that are involved in a huge network of intricate interactions. The brain, after all, is built by processes that involve the activities of several tens of thousands of genes. A human brain contains several hundred different sub-organs, each of which does somewhat different things. To assert that any function of such a large system is irreducible seems irresponsible-until you're in a position to claim that you understand that system. We certainly don't understand it all now. We probably need several hundred new ideas-and we can't learn much from those who give up. We'd do better to get back to work.

Why do so many philosophers insist that "subjective experience is irreducible"? Because, I suppose, like you and me, they can look at an object and "instantly know" what it is. When I look at you, I sense no intervening processes. I seem to "see" you instantly. The same for almost every word you say: I instantly seem to know what it means. When I touch your hand, you "feel it directly." It all seems so basic and immediate that there seems no room for analysis. The feelings of being seem so direct that there seems to be nothing to be explained. I think this is what leads those philosophers to believe that the connections between seeing and feeling must be inexplicable. Of course we know from neurology that there are dozens of processes that intervene between the retinal image and the structures that our brains then build to represent what we think we see. That idea of a separate world for 'subjective experience' is just an excuse for the shameful fact that we don't have adequate theories of how our brains work. This is partly because those brains have evolved without developing good representations of those processes. Indeed, there probably are good evolutionary reasons why we did not evolve machinery for accurate "insights" about ourselves. Our most powerful ways to solve problems involve highly serial processes-and if these had evolved to depend on correct representations of how they, themselves work, our ancestors would have thought too slowly to survive.

As for feelings in the brain not being detectable, well, check this out:

investigators have used an MRI to read images off the visual cortex. They presented subjects with some simple symbols and letters, scanned their brains, and read off the image from the data — and it was even legible!

Are the visual stimuli we experience in our brains "subjective feelings"? What about when we might see a person's dreams this way?

As RoyK had already said, Barry's claims had "a distinct odor of straw" about them. Not only do not ALL materialists say consciousness is an illusion, most "materialist" neuroscientists do not say it. The claim was such an obvious error and the only way Barry could protect his reputation was to ban the people who exposed his errors, thus perpetuating the error and lying to everyone who reads his thread by doing so.


Barry Arrington has now written "Materialist Hypocrisy" where he demands answers from the people he has banned from posting. Talk about hypocrisy.

The only, so called, "materialist" left is the pathetically ill-equipped DaveScot.

Why don't you go over there and see how long it takes before Barry bans you?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why they want to silence us.

The "Tell" that gives the Bluff away:

Have you ever played poker? I’m definitely not a professional poker player and I'll never earn millions on the Vegas circuit, but I learned enough about the game at science fiction conventions to describe the basics of bluffs and the tells that give them away for metaphoric purposes. The reason I bring it up is because there is a psychological epiphany that happens when you play poker long enough, and it doesn't take long. It's the moment when you know that you're being bluffed, when you know the other guy is, without a word about his hand spoken to you, lying to you with his actions, his bets. There is a "tell" that gives it away.

That's the kind of epiphany you can experience when you start posting at certain websites and then find out your posts are no longer showing up. When a certain kind of purely polite and informative post is deleted it's a "tell" about the other guy's state of mind. The guys who are trying to bluff you, who are, in a metaphoric sense, trying to make you think they've got more in their hand then they've actually got, are websites like Uncommon Descent (at least a few years ago), Ray Comfort's blog, and Free Republic. It's the moment you know when the guys on the other end aren't as fooled by their own arguments as they pretend to be and are, in fact, consciously lying to their other readers by silencing you.

Perhaps my readers can name other sites that behave the same way? If you can, please leave a comment here with a link to the site. Also, if you've had posts deleted from any of the same sites I've listed, let me know that too. I'm not sure about every website that has banned me or deleted my posts, just some of them. For example, there's Tom Gilson's blog called "Thinking Christian" where I once posted and then got banned from. Jim Lippard over at "The Lippard blog" wrote about it in a post called "Thinking Christian blog blocks my comment."

As Jim Lippard notes, clicking on my link first gets you a content warning from Blogger, so one might think there is sexual material here (actually there is in one post). And what might Christians make of the title "Blog from Hell" and the atheist skull animation? That might be worse than pornography to them. But Jim's comment was purely informative and his was deleted too, so that's another example of the silencing treatment we get. However, it should be noted in Tom Gilson's defense, the deleted posts were restored. The other sites mentioned above have never done this.

If it were just me, then I wouldn't feel as sure about these websites. In the case of Ray Comfort's blog I can point to this post, "Why wouldn't Ray publish this?" over at "Reflections of the Damned." In this case the blogger calling herself "CodewordConduit" had a post directed at one of Ray's other readers deleted. Perhaps the comment was deemed too insulting? I don't know. Ray lets others insult himself, but perhaps not others?

In the case of me on Ray Comfort's blog, I don't think I can post anything there any more. Even short little compliments get deleted. But I did break one rule, my name linked to my website.

It was a few years ago, and my memory is fuzzy, but when I got booted off of Uncommon Descent it was a post about genetic algorithms being used in artificial intelligence that never showed up. I may have included too many links. They had let me say that "evolution might, in a way, represent a kind of intelligence that is similar to certain human mental capabilities." They tried to twist that into me saying something I didn't intend to say. When I tried to explain the comment my post explaining it never showed up.

In the case of Free Republic you can get banned pretty easily by making any kind of pro-liberal or pro-democratic comment. You have to go out of your way in acting like a right-wing shill just to get posted. In their case I'm not entirely sure what this "tell" is telling me. They seem to insist on maintaining a community of right-wing nut jobs where no counter arguments can ever be heard.

What does occur to me is that these "tells," these posts and comments that get deleted without a word or never show up, could tell us a lot more if we shared information about which comments never show up and which comments do. At what point do you get banned and no other comment you make ever shows up?

So, please share your story here. These websites, of course, have the right to control their own space, but we also have the right to use that control to our advantage by using their post deletions and banning to learn what they are afraid of.

Friday, December 5, 2008

More evidence that fundagelical Christianity causes brain damage

There is a huge amount of supporting evidence [of the apocalypse] on the site. For example, there is evidence for the wh0re of Babylon due to a 666 mile long penis in Mexico. -- Ray Comfort (I think)

Have you noticed that a lot of fundagelical Christians seem somehow brain damaged? The simplest logical thought processes seem so far beyond them that you can't even spell them out in ways they can understand. There are plenty of examples I could point to, Ben Stein, Vox Day and numerous others, but Ray Comfort is unique. Ray Comfort may not be the hands-down winner of the Absolute Fundie Moron of the Century Award, after all, there have to be more moronic fundies buying his books and watching his TV show, but his site is worth looking at just for the unintentional comedy gold that slips through. You may remember Ray Comfort from a previous post called "Dealing with the abysmal ignorance." Sometimes Ray Comfort says the darndest things.

"Darwin theorized that mankind (both male and female) evolved alongside each other over millions of years, both reproducing after their own kind before the ability to physically have sex evolved. They did this through "asexuality" ("without sexual desire or activity or lacking any apparent sex or sex organs"). Each of them split in half ("Asexual organisms reproduce by fission (splitting in half)." Ask A Scientist, Biology Archive," -- Ray Comfort

"Ray Comfort has done to Christianity, what Mad Cow disease has done to the beef industry." -- Comment on Ray Comfort's blog

Ray Comfort is the guy with the banana in this video:

Now, with a little editorial tweaking you get Christian sex education:

He's not the only fundagelical to find proof of God in your kitchen cabinet:

“The answer is simply those who understand that God has chosen foolish, base, weak, and despised things of the world to confound those who think they are wise.” -- Ray Comfort


This quote below is, according to ExPatMatt, apparently not a Ray Comfort quote:
"I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed." -- ??"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Introducing Peter Schiff:

I've been seeing these videos cropping up on other blogs. Here are the YouTubes featuring Peter Schiff that will remind you of how wrong a lot of conservative economists were. Peter Schiff seemed to have been dead-on right, in retrospect, over 2 years ago about where the economy would end up today:

Peter Schiff is also afraid that Obama will continuing down the same failed path that the Republicans went down, borrowing from countries like China, letting foreigners produce everything that we consume, and spending, spending, spending. He's predicting the collapse of the US dollar and warns against trying to spend our way out of this recesssion:

It's important to realize that Peter Schiff was one of Ron Paul's economic advisers and he wasn't the only one making the prediction. Back in 2006 Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, made a similar prediction before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund. He predicted a housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession.

As for me, well, I'm not yet ready to credit Schiff with too much and prefer to listen to Robert Reich and Paul Krugman. Krugman is, of course, advising just what Schiff fears -- spending lots and lots of money on public works projects, repairing highways and bridges, and getting jobs for people that way so they can spend money.

Krugman alludes to seeing ahead too:

A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”

There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?

But did Krugman ever express it as clearly as Schiff or Roubini did? I don't know, but if any readers can find what Krugman and Reich were saying back in 2006, then drop a link into my comments.


The Great Wealth Transfer ia an article from Paul Krugman for Rolling Stone which dates from 2006. It actually predicts a much larger problem not yet fully realized, but there is a vision of what was coming down the line today.