Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites

[A] list of the worst offenders on the web in the promotion of scientific and factual misinformation.

The Internet is a dangerous place. It’s full of resources, both good and bad; full of citations linking one to another, sometimes helpfully, sometimes not. Today we’re going to point the skeptical eye at ten of the worst web sites in terms of quality of science information that they promote. To make this list, they not only need to have bad information, they also need to be popular enough to warrant our attention.

Many of these sites promote some particular ideology, but I want to be clear that that’s not why they’re here. Sites that make this list are only here because of the quality of the science information that they advocate.

Pope Explains Why The Internet Is A ’Gift From God'

Which I find odd, because there is perhaps no greater single contributor to the spread of atheism than the interweb.

Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.

The photo is from: The 22 Most Misleading Viral Photos (Explained)

Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.

The photo is from: The 22 Most Misleading Viral Photos (Explained)

wildcat2030:

Here’s What Wi-Fi Would Look Like If We Could See It
Wi-fi. It’s all around us, quietly and invisibly powering our access to the world’s information. But few of us have a sense of what wi-fi actually is, let alone what it would look like if we could see it. Artist Nickolay Lamm, a blogger for MyDeals.com, decided to shed some light on the subject. He created visualizations that imagine the size, shape, and color of wi-fi signals were they visible to the human eye. “I feel that by showing what wi-fi would look like if we could see it, we’d appreciate the technology that we use everyday,” Lamm told me in an email. “A lot of us use technology without appreciating the complexity behind making it work.” To estimate what this would look like, Lamm worked with M. Browning Vogel, Ph.D., an astrobiologist and former employee at NASA Ames. Dr. Vogel described the science behind wireless technology, and Lamm used the information to create the visualizations. (via Here’s What Wi-Fi Would Look Like If We Could See It | Motherboard)

wildcat2030:

Here’s What Wi-Fi Would Look Like If We Could See It

Wi-fi. It’s all around us, quietly and invisibly powering our access to the world’s information. But few of us have a sense of what wi-fi actually is, let alone what it would look like if we could see it. Artist Nickolay Lamm, a blogger for MyDeals.com, decided to shed some light on the subject. He created visualizations that imagine the size, shape, and color of wi-fi signals were they visible to the human eye. “I feel that by showing what wi-fi would look like if we could see it, we’d appreciate the technology that we use everyday,” Lamm told me in an email. “A lot of us use technology without appreciating the complexity behind making it work.” To estimate what this would look like, Lamm worked with M. Browning Vogel, Ph.D., an astrobiologist and former employee at NASA Ames. Dr. Vogel described the science behind wireless technology, and Lamm used the information to create the visualizations. (via Here’s What Wi-Fi Would Look Like If We Could See It | Motherboard)

Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt

In the small but cohesive Mormon community where he grew up, Hans Mattsson was a solid believer and a pillar of the church. He followed his father and grandfather into church leadership and finally became an “area authority” overseeing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout Europe.

When fellow believers in Sweden first began coming to him with information from the Internet that contradicted the church’s history and teachings, he dismissed it as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He asked his superiors for help in responding to the members’ doubts, and when they seemed to only sidestep the questions, Mr. Mattsson began his own investigation.

But when he discovered credible evidence that the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was a polygamist and that the Book of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies, Mr. Mattsson said he felt that the foundation on which he had built his life began to crumble.

Around the world and in the United States, where the faith was founded, the Mormon Church is grappling with a wave of doubt and disillusionment among members who encountered information on the Internet that sabotaged what they were taught about their faith, according to interviews with dozens of Mormons and those who study the church…

Continue

FCC proposes free public wifi (WaPo)

abaldwin360:

The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from GoogleMicrosoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.

The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.

read more

I have a stinking feeling the telecom lobby will never let this happen, and being that it would be such a great benefit to the poor, I doubt many politicians would be for it in that regard either.

I can see the headlines talking about poor people wanting free internet service and how it’s going to raise taxes, so on and so forth already.

I say no 21st century infrastructure is complete without ubiquitous free WiFi. Make it so!

Religion may not survive the Internet

As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share. Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing. Last fall, the LDS church spent millions on billboards, bus banners, and Facebook ads touting “I’m a Mormon.” In Canada, the Catholic Church has launched a “Come Home” marketing campaign. The Southern Baptists Convention voted to rebrand themselves. A hipster mega-church in Seattle combines smart advertising with sales force training for members and a strategy the Catholics have emphasized for centuries: competitive breeding.

In October of 2012 the Pew Research Center announced that for the first time ever Protestant Christians had fallen below 50 percent of the American population. Atheists cheered and evangelicals beat their breasts and lamented the end of the world as we know it. Historian of religion, Molly Worthen, has since offered big picture insights that may dampen the most extreme hopes and fears. Anthropologist Jennifer James, on the other hand, has called fundamentalism the “death rattle” of the Abrahamic traditions.

In all of the frenzy, few seem to give any recognition to the player that I see as the primary hero, or, if you prefer, culprit—and I’m not talking about science populizer and atheist superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson. Then again, maybe Iam talking about Tyson in a sense, because in his various viral guises—as a talk show host and tweeter and as the face on scores of smartass Facebook memes—Tyson is an incarnation of the biggest threat that organized religion has ever faced: the internet.

A traditional religion, one built on “right belief,” requires a closed information system. That is why the Catholic Church put an official seal of approval on some ancient texts and banned or burned others. It is why some Bible-believing Christians are forbidden to marry nonbelievers. It is why Quiverfull moms home school their kids from carefully screened text books. It is why, when you get sucked into conversations with your fundamentalist uncle George from Florida, you sometimes wonder if he has some superpower that allows him to magically close down all avenues into his mind. (He does!)

Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age.

Tech-savvy mega-churches may have twitter missionaries, and Calvinist cuties may make viral videos about how Jesus worship isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship, but that doesn’t change the facts: the free flow of information is really, really bad for the product they are selling.

Here are five kinds of web content that are like, well, like electrolysis on religion’s hairy toes.

Robots are taking your job and mine: deal with it

But here’s the thing that neither of these articles — or even Bruce’s acid observations — touches on: once technology creates abundance, what possibilities exist for distributing the fruits of that abundance such that the benefits are more evenly felt? We’ve been talking about an increase in productivity producing an increase in leisure for a long time, but instead, the “winner take all” world of Brynjolfsson and McAfee often seems to produce a “winner” class that works itself into an early grave by running 100-hour work weeks at astounding payscales, and a much larger “loser” class that works itself into an early grave by working 100-hour weeks in shitty, marginal, grey-economy jobs, trying to stitch together something like an income.

In America, anyone who proposes an increase in overall quality of life through public schools, health programs, libraries, or even Internet access, is immediately branded a socialist and dismissed out of hand.

On the other hand, the Internet-age’s sweetest dividend is the creative possibilities: the chance to sit in your little grass shack or organic farm or urban crackerbox and use the tubes to carry on debate; to contribute to software and Wikipedia; to crowdsource capital for your creativity; to find makers who have solved 90% of the problem that’s nagging you and who will help you solve the remaining ten percent; to access a library of human creativity and knowledge without parallel; to have your art and creativity accessible to all, and to find the mutants who’re wired the same as you and jam with them.

That world of de-marketized, non-market, non-commodity and/or gift economy living is something that seems tantalizingly within our grasp today, and it feels like automation holds the key to so much of it. But is it just the latest version of the dream of a leisure society? Or can we Craigslist and Kickstarter and Freecycle and Etsy and Thingiverse and Open Source Hardware and Wikipedia and Creative Commons our way to a world where the means of information is owned by no one and yet tended by all?

underthemountainbunker:

(image via inquisitr.com)
After the hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, decided to turn their attention from desecrating fallen soldiers to desecrating the victims in Newtown, CT, Anonymous released private contact information on Fred Phelps Sr, as well as the rest of the group’s membership (all of whom seem to be related).

Salon: Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen troops with “God Hates Fags” placards, announced Saturday that they would picket Sandy Hook elementary school, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead Friday. Tweets from the Phelps family suggest they believe the horrors in Connecticut are a punishment from God for gay marriage. Hacker collective Anonymous was swift to respond, releasing private information of  Westboro members including email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses.

###
Via @YourAnonNews:  alphabetical list of names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers of WBC’s membership. And the relationships of the members.
See also #OpWestboro for updates. 
Mashable: Two White House petitions, both published on Friday, aim to classify the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. ”Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group” currently has close to 67,000 signatures, while another called “Define the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group due to promoting animosity against differing cultural demographics” clocks in at 16,000 signatures.
Everyone hates the Westboro Baptist Church: Sandy Hook Elementary Edition

underthemountainbunker:

(image via inquisitr.com)

After the hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, decided to turn their attention from desecrating fallen soldiers to desecrating the victims in Newtown, CT, Anonymous released private contact information on Fred Phelps Sr, as well as the rest of the group’s membership (all of whom seem to be related).

Salon: Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen troops with “God Hates Fags” placards, announced Saturday that they would picket Sandy Hook elementary school, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead Friday. Tweets from the Phelps family suggest they believe the horrors in Connecticut are a punishment from God for gay marriage. Hacker collective Anonymous was swift to respond, releasing private information of  Westboro members including email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses.

Anonymous hits Westboro Baptist Church over Sandy Hook picket plans

###

Everyone hates the Westboro Baptist Church: Sandy Hook Elementary Edition

A Momentary Flow: The Selfish Meme-Twitter, dopamine, and the evolutionary advantages of talking about oneself

wildcat2030:

See on Scoop.it - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

This spring, a couple of neuroscience researchers at Harvard published a study that finally explained why we like to talk about ourselves so much: sharing our thoughts, it turns out, activates the brain’s reward system. As if to…

Ants model internet protocols

obscureref:

In yet another example of how, given enough time, nature comes up with an optimal solution to a problem. Seems that the patterns of foraging harvester ants—especially how many ants leave the nest in search of food—matches almost perfectly the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that manages bandwidth use on the internet. Both depend on a feedback loop that sends more resources to locations with faster returns.

Evolution is a marvelous thing.

(Source: Futurity)

vinegarwilliams:

hobbitswizardskitties:

danhacker:

Chick-fil-A Got Caught Pretending to Be a Teenage Girl on Facebook 
So apparently in a half-assed attempt to maintain their company’s shitty public image, Chick-fil-A  is now having their PR team members pose as fake people on Facebook to talk positively about their bigoted company. This all comes in response to Chick-fil-A’s COO admitted to being anti-gay,  which caused the Jim Henson Company to pull their toys from Chick-fil-A’s kids meals. In retaliation Chick-fil-A claimed the toys were pulled because of a “possible safety issue” (even though there are no safety issues filed to this day) because its a total fucking lie. This lie is something they are propagating with fake Facebook accounts of Chick-fil-a sympathizes. Not only was the company called out about creating fake user accounts on their own Facebook page, but they were revealed to be using stock photo images for their fake user accounts too. 
I would hate for people to lose their jobs in this economy, but my gut feeling towards Chick-fil-A right now is that it needs to burn to the ground. What a sleazy company. And if memory serves me, isn’t lying something Christians are not supposed to do?

LOLOLOLOLOL


If you work for this company, please find a different job. You’ll feel way better.

Just adding to my case that conservatives suck at the internet- amongst other things like comedy, satire and nuance.

vinegarwilliams:

hobbitswizardskitties:

danhacker:

Chick-fil-A Got Caught Pretending to Be a Teenage Girl on Facebook 

So apparently in a half-assed attempt to maintain their company’s shitty public image, Chick-fil-A  is now having their PR team members pose as fake people on Facebook to talk positively about their bigoted company. This all comes in response to Chick-fil-A’s COO admitted to being anti-gay,  which caused the Jim Henson Company to pull their toys from Chick-fil-A’s kids meals. In retaliation Chick-fil-A claimed the toys were pulled because of a “possible safety issue” (even though there are no safety issues filed to this day) because its a total fucking lie. This lie is something they are propagating with fake Facebook accounts of Chick-fil-a sympathizes. Not only was the company called out about creating fake user accounts on their own Facebook page, but they were revealed to be using stock photo images for their fake user accounts too. 

I would hate for people to lose their jobs in this economy, but my gut feeling towards Chick-fil-A right now is that it needs to burn to the ground. What a sleazy company. And if memory serves me, isn’t lying something Christians are not supposed to do?

LOLOLOLOLOL

If you work for this company, please find a different job. You’ll feel way better.

Just adding to my case that conservatives suck at the internet- amongst other things like comedy, satire and nuance.