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.

33 comments:

Emmet Caulfield said...

Interesting. I always thought that they were just feeble-minded, insecure kooks who brooked no dissent, but the idea that they're lying bastards who'll brook no dissent because they know they're lying bastards is perfectly plausible :o)

Benjamin Franklin said...

I have had several of my posts to Ray Comfort vanish into the digital netherworld.

The one I remember best is where he posted a letter to the editor, written by his cartoonist, Richard Gunther. The letter was about Noah's ark, and in it, Gunther wrote that the Noah story is in the book of Genesis chapter 7. I wrote that the story is in chapter 6.

The post was edited to read chapter 6, and my comment never made it onto the thread.

RBH said...

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.

Interestingly, a poster named "Febble," now an administrator at TalkRational and a (sort of) theist, got banned at UD for pointing out that natural selection precisely meets Dembski's definition of "intelligence."

normdoering said...

Thanks for posting guys.

RBH wrote:
"a poster named 'Febble,' ..., got banned at UD for pointing out that natural selection precisely meets Dembski's definition of 'intelligence.'"

I'm pretty sure that's going to be an emerging pattern because it already was one years ago and a couple people at Panda's thumb noted how they got banned for similar comments.

Taner Edis has an old article (from 2001) on the csicop site called 'Intelligent Design' Meets Artificial Intelligence that gives more detail on the argument.

Benjamin Franklin wrote:
"The letter was about Noah's ark, and in it, Gunther wrote that the Noah story is in the book of Genesis chapter 7. I wrote that the story is in chapter 6.

The post was edited to read chapter 6, and my comment never made it onto the thread."


It looks like Ray's pattern is going to involve pettiness.

Emmet Caulfield wrot:
"I always thought that they were just feeble-minded, insecure kooks who brooked no dissent,..."

Maybe they are just feeble-minded, but if we experiment we may find other patterns emerging.

Jim Lippard said...

Bob McCarty is another guy who refused to allow my posts through moderation, due to a strong anti-reality bias on his part--he was appealing to "in God we trust" on money and "under God" in the pledge as evidence that the Founding Fathers wanted the U.S. to be a Christian nation.

Bill Muehlenberg is another, yet he did allow through a comment making the same point I was trying to make (that Nicholas Capaldi's book _The Art of Deception_ was not a handbook for atheists, since it was authored by a Catholic) when it came from a young-earth creationist.

normdoering said...

Jim Lippard,

I now have a comment awaiting moderation on Bill Muehlenberg’s blog, in the post called "Whatever Became of Sin?"

Text of comment follows:

When is something a sin?
It seems obvious at first, but when you think about it there really isn’t any clarity to the concept. For example, Vox Day has a post here:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2007/02/mailvox-sharpening-knives.html

called “sharpening knives” where he says “killing every child under two on the planet is no more inherently significant than a programmer unilaterally wiping out his AI-bots in a game universe.” And if ordered by God, he would do it. Is such murder not a sin if it’s is ordered by God?

Is sin just disobeying God?

If so, then which version of God’s rules you buy into determines what is and isn’t sin.

normdoering said...

I've also posted a comment on Uncommon Descent. Just a mild starter to test the waters. It's posted here:

This comment is awaiting moderation:

Do Humans have criminal intent when they hunt deer, dig up ant hills, or kill the rabbits that are eating up their gardens?

normdoering said...

Also awaiting moderation:

Are search algorithms not irreducibly complex?

I ask because Danny Hillis evolved some on his computers back in the 80s.

You can read about it here:
http://www.kk.org/outofcontrol/ch15-d.html

Roy Latham said...

I was banned from the Liberal Politics forum at about.com for criticism of the quality of the forum. I did things like keeping statistics on how often I was told that I needed to depend on feelings rather than reason things out, and I counted how many people relied in comments on "facts" that were not actually contained in a posted news story. They were open about saying they would boot people who disagreed with them.

William said...

"... he was appealing to 'in God we trust' on money and 'under God' in the pledge as evidence that the Founding Fathers wanted the U.S. to be a Christian nation."

I guess, if he considers Eisenhower to be among the Founding Fathers.

normdoering said...

If anyone is still reading this, could you do me a favor?

I want someone to check and see if my comments are showing up on Uncommon Descent. I can see them, but a few years ago, on Panda's Thumb, we discovered that Uncommon Descent used a devious filtering technique where comments only showed up if you had the right cookie or ISP or something.

I could see my posts, but others who visited the same thread couldn't see them.

Simply go over to Uncommon Descent and look for the threads:

1) Information: Why the Darwinian Mechanism is Dead Except as an Explanation of the Trivial

2) Computers vs. Darwinism? A computer teacher comments

and finally...

3) Beavers Gone Bad

Do a global search for "Norman Doering."

normdoering said...

A comment of mine awaiting moderation on the "Information: Why the Darwinian Mechanism is Dead Except as an Explanation of the Trivial" thread is:

GilDodgen wrote:
“In other words, information is something that comes from a mind.”

That could be interpreted as Solipsism.

Does the information that our planet has a moon come entirely from our minds or is it some interaction of the mind with the universe it lives in?

RBH said...

Norman:

Information: No
Computers v Darwinism: Yes
Beavers: Yes

normdoering said...

RBH,

Thanks for the info.

Not too worried yet about the "Information" thread yet, it's still in moderation.

normdoering said...

Hmmm, I may be on the edge of censorship over at Uncommon Descent. In the thread, "Information: Why the Darwinian Mechanism is Dead Except as an Explanation of the Trivial," I've got some comments that have been in moderation for a long time. One for over 24 hours. I'm beginning to suspect they're not going to get posted -- and even if they do, there are lots of comments that have come after them that bury them in the total text of the thread outside the flow of dialog.

I'm now looking for volunteers to ask similar questions to see if they get censored too.

Post your question here and then on Uncommon Descent, then we'll see exactly what kind of information they censor or don't censor in a very fine grained way.

normdoering said...

Hmmm, not too long after I posted my comment here about how my comments on Uncommon Descent were not passing through moderation and suddenly my comments there showed up with a note to check their moderation policy.

That policy says: "Arguments we’ve heard many times before and don’t want to hear again. If you insist on boring us with them you won’t be with us for long."

It's quite a list.

But note the comment here that didn't pass their moderation:

GilDodgen wrote:
“In other words, information is something that comes from a mind.”

That could be interpreted as Solipsism.

Does the information that our planet has a moon come entirely from our minds or is it some interaction of the mind with the universe it lives in?


So far I'm not seeing anything on their list that would make that simple question "boring."

normdoering said...

Okay, I'm testing the censorship theory again by saying the same thing but worded differently.

Here is the post I'm making now:

Laminar wrote:
"Given that the definition of Information provided by Shannons Information theory doesn’t require ‘information’ to have any meaningful content (i.e the ‘information’ contained in a message can be random) It would appear that Gil is not using the word in the Information Theory sense, so I think it is reasonable to ask what other definition is being used."

Good point. And I'd like some clarity on where he thinks this information comes from. In post 8, GilDodgen said "...information is something that comes from a mind." That's a bit off in my opinion -- it sounds like he is saying minds invent information with no need for input from the external environment.

Scientific information certainly isn't like that. That comes from minds interacting with the world through a methodology... almost algorithmically interacting.

Where then is the information about the world? In our heads or in the world? Answering that would define another aspect of information.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Norm my comment at Ray's blog that was left off was pretty innocuous. I merely pointed out that the growing number of typos on his blog should be a concern as he's about to publish a number of books. We know the books will be full of content mistakes why also clutter it up with spelling and grammatical ones?

normdoering said...

Rev. BigDumbChimp,

Ray is looking more petty and inconsistent with every deleted post I hear about.

Ray's newest post is "Nothing to Sing About." It claims that there is no atheistic music. Here's a post that will never show up on his blog I bet:

Actually there really is atheistic music. Not that a lot of atheists would be proud to count death / heavy metal bands as their artistic representatives since they're more satanic than atheist sometimes. Here are a few:

Dimmu Borgir
Eternal Tragedy
Possessed
Varathron
Rotting Christ
Darkthrone
Hecate Enthroned
Impaled Nazarene
Grotesque

Jethro Tull's Aqualung is another example. Ian Anderson wrote, in 1971, this bit for the album sleeve:

"In the beginning Man created God;
and in the image of Man
created he him.

2 And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,that he might be Lord of allthe earth when it was suited to Man

3 And on the seven millionth
day Man rested and did lean
heavily on his God and saw that
it was good.

4 And Man formed Aqualung of
the dust of the ground, and a
host of others likened unto his kind.

5 And these lesser men were cast into the void; And some were burned, and some were put apart from their kind.

6 And Man became the God that he had created and with his miracles did rule over all the earth.

7 But as all these things
came to pass, the Spirit that did
cause man to create his God
lived on within all men: even
within Aqualung.

8 And man saw it not.

9 But for Christ's sake he'd
better start looking.


And then there is Marilyn Manson whose lyrics include:

"Dogma"

burn the witches, burn the witches, don't take time to sew your stitches
burn the witches, burn the witches
good is the thing that you favor, evil is your sour flavor
you cannot sedate all the things you hate
burn the bridges, burn the bridges, don't take time to sew your stitches
burn the bridges, burn the bridges
good is the thing that you favor, evil is your sour flavor
i don't need your hate, i decide my fate
you cannot sedate all the things you hate

And then there is Nine Inch Nails:

"Heresy":

he sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see
he tries to tell me what i put inside of me
he's got the answers to ease my curiosity
he dreamed a god up and called it christianity
god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell i'll see you there
he flexed his muscles to keep his flock of sheep in line
he made a virus that would kill off all the swine
his perfect kingdom of killing, suffering and pain
demands devotion atrocities done in his name
god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell i'll see you there
your god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell i'll see you there
god is dead and no one cares
if there is a hell i'll see you there your god is dead
god is dead and no one cares
and no one cares drowning in his own hypocrisy
and if there is a hell i will see you see you there

burning with your god in humility
will you die for this?


Want more? I've got more examples.

==============

On a side note. Uncommon Descent published the comment about scientific information coming from minds interacting with the world through a methodology... almost algorithmically interacting.

I'll have to build on it and see how far I can go -- but later.

normdoering said...

I have now been officially booted off of Uncommon Descent by Barry Arrington.

What he doesn't want you to know is how full of BS he is. He lays down the law before he deals out his horseshit this way:

"I see you are trying to drag us into another semantics squabble. I am gaveling it right now.

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). Thus, consciousness is inherently dualistic, and therefore “consciousness-affirming materialist” is an oxymoron. Or maybe the people you cite (if they, in fact, say the things you say they do) are simply run of the mill morons who deny the conclusions that are inexorably compelled by their own premises. Either way, they do not interest me."


He has no idea what he's talking about. Consciousness is no more an object than the "running" or "go" of a car is an object. He will not of course argue about this. He will simply boot you for disagreeing. He can keep telling others (and perhaps himself) those lies as long as he can always gavel away the truth.

Is he a conscious liar? Yea, he has to be in part to do what he has done.

mlp said...

Are search algorithms not irreducibly complex?

I ask because Danny Hillis evolved some on his computers back in the 80s.


"Uncompressible", in the information-theoretic sense, seems to be equivalent to "irreducibly complex" in the semantic sense -- an uncompressible string cannot be reversibly encoded into any string shorter than itself, thus "cannot be reduced".

Uncompressible strings can be enumerated algorithmically, and in fact all of the uncompressible strings up to 78 characters in length have been enumerated.

Gareth McCaughan said...

Back in November 2005, Dembski posted something on Uncommon Descent that he called the "Vise Document", a series of questions that he supposedly wanted to see "Darwinists" asked in court to reveal our inadequacies. I went through it and wrote up my answers to the questions, along with some reflections on them, and I posted a link and some brief explanation to UD. It got deleted without comment, in the characteristic UD fashion where the censored comment is still visible to the original poster but invisible to everyone else.

So far as I can tell, the only reason why it was censored was that I said some uncomplimentary things about ID and backed them up with reasoned argument. Readers with a high boredom threshold may wish to go to http://www.mccaughan.org.uk/g/log/2005/11/10/ to see whether they agree.

I don't think I've attempted to post to UD since then, so I have no idea whether they censor *people* as well as individual comments.

jpf said...

I usually don't even bother trying to comment on rightwing/religious blogs since so many are moderated or are notorious for deleting comments. It just seems futile. But sometimes against my better judgment I try, so here's an annoying anecdote that matches your thesis:

Do you remember back (I think 2005) when Amnesty International called Guantanamo a "gulag" and the rightosphere suddenly decided they hates the tricksy AIses for attacking their precious? Shortly afterwards was the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. I stumbled on this rightwing blog -- I don't remember the name, but it was some ridiculously uberpatriotic nonsense with a bald eagle and American flag in the masthead -- and it had a post condemning AI for not condemning China on the anniversary. The timestamp was early in the morning on the anniversary day, so you know the guy wrote it up beforehand and was just itching at the trigger finger to post it.

Being of little faith, I decided to go to the AI site and see if I could find a note on the anniversary. I'm sure you will be shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to learn that I did find a PR issued that day condemning China. It was understated, but this was 16 or 17 (forgot which) years later, which isn't an anniversary you would expect a big to-do about.

So, I left a comment on the guy's blog with a link to the AI's PR. Hit send, and get a message saying all comments are moderated. Super! I come back a few hours later, comment not posted. So I leave another saying that if he doesn't want to post my comment, that's fine, but at least post a correction saying that AI did condemn China. Hours later, still no change. Looked again a few days later, still blissfully ignoring reality.

And that is why I don't even bother with those sorts of blogs.

normdoering said...

Thanks jpf and Gareth McCaughan for the examples.

Your example, jpf, looks like a very clear example of censorship that could only have been done by a conscious liar. It explicitly hides a fact to promote a lie.

And Gareth, I did manage to get banned from UD recently.

RBH said...

That wasn't at all boring, Gareth.

Enshoku said...

Christian IRC and chat websites are notorious for having entire manuals of rules that are nonsensical. The thing is, these rules tend to be formed in such a way that anyone can be banned from the client for anything if the moderator is angry or zealous enough. I've seen the rules broken numerous times by believers, but a non-believer must maintain the most polite, non-inquisitive, non-abrasive manner possible just to avoid being banned on sight. Most blogs seem far more lenient, nut I'd shy away from Comfort food...

dahduh said...

I once spent a couple of days trawling GodTube and posted a number of comments that merely corrected factual errors in the politest manner possible; some of those corrections included misquotes of the Bible. Perhaps 20% of my comments actually appeared. I noticed a bug in which the total number of comments to a video was listed, and compared it to the actual number appearing. I estimated about half of all postings were being deleted.

Gareth McCaughan said...

RBH, thanks.

Elwood Herring said...

I'd just like to say that in my opinion the music discussed in normdoering's post is not what I would consider as "atheistic" but rather "anti-religious" music. "Atheistic" music would be any music that does not refer to religion in any way at all (which would include just about every form of instrumental music for a start!)

normdoering said...

Elwood Herring,

Did you mean to post that comment on this blog post, "My Christmas Gift - (Or, the prototype for "Marilyn Manson's War on Christmas Special")"

Elwood Herring said...

normdoering - whatever.

I just saw a post here about atheists and music, and being both myself, I thought I'd comment.

I came here from Pharyngula initially, so I seem to be following blog post connections like a trail of breadcrumbs. . .

Jafafa Hots said...

I find it interesting that your blog gets a "content warning" from Blogger. I've seen plenty of religious ones that insult the non-religious that don't have that.

normdoering said...

Jafafa Hots wrote:
"I find it interesting that your blog gets a "content warning" from Blogger. I've seen plenty of religious ones that insult the non-religious that don't have that."

I'm sure there are religious types who'd like to see my blog go away, but the content warning maybe due more to a cartoonish picture of a naked woman about to be beaten by two guys with knife sticks.

The picture is here.

Some other pictures were removed.

It just happens to be a magazine that published a short story I wrote.