Another Dear Muslima Moment

Another day, another twitter ShiTsunamiShashimi, eat up folks. It’s almost as if the internet is bad for people or something.

I try to be charitable when it comes to other peoples motivations, mostly because I tend to see the worst in people and I figure I should probably counter that innate impulse with a little optimism. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes, not so much.

A while back Richard Dawkins posted a sarcastic message on PZ’s blog, he was criticizing the amount of blogger ink being devoted to a rather minor incident that happened in an elevator at a conference, when in his opinion, there were much greater injustices that were not getting as much attention, and should be getting attention.

I think he was wrong. Not because I think Dawkins is a raving misogynist, nor because I think he is incredibly stupid, but rather because he, like many people do very often, was failing to see the forest for the trees. It was a small incident, but it resonated with people, many people, on many emotional levels, and even for diametrically opposite reasons. And that made it the focus of an ongoing stupid flame war.

He missed the context, was a total dick about it, and I think that is the time when one should apologize.

Dawkins is not the only one, the ‘Amazing Atheist’ did something… even worse in my opinion… he went after someone who couldn’t defend themselves, when he attacked Amanda Todd…. and her silly little middle class suicide.

Guess what? Yes many people have worse problems than you or I do. But depression and desperation can hit any one of us, so mocking someone’s desperation and suicide, is just fucked up shit.

Like I said at the time: It was a douche move. You should apologize. Full stop.

I don’t really give a shit what his point was, yes the media is going to sensationalize stuff. That is a fact of life, especially when some event resonates with people. Amanda Todd was a victim of bullying and depression and suicide.

And so we come to the most recent atheist self-inflicted stupid.

Here’s how you don’t respond to Williams death: as P.Z Myers has in a post at Pharyngula, in which he claims that the media (and our government) has taken advantage of Williams’s death to draw attention away from racism and other social problems….

Oh bloody hell.

Coyne covers the details, so no rehash here.

I don’t think PZ Myers is a bad guy. I don’t agree with him on certain things, but I have found him to be a thoughtful and compassionate person, most of the time. His emotions, like many of the social justice types, like many other people, sometimes gets the better of him, but I’m not going to jump on any ani-PZ band wagons. I can see the usual suspects already wringing their fists with glee over this one.

That said…

It was a douche move, PZ. You should apologize. Full stop.

Introducing Sense About Science

Sense About Science is a British

charitable trust that equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion.

Sense About Science aims to

Make sense of science and evidence

Provide quick help and advice

Make a fuss about things that are wrong

Represent the public interest in sound science

Activate networks of scientists and others in defence of evidence

One of the ways Sense About Science provides quick help and advice is by making sense of chemical stories:


This guide flags up the more serious misconceptions that exist around chemicals and suggests straightforward ways for people to evaluate them. – See more at:
This guide flags up the more serious misconceptions that exist around chemicals and suggests straightforward ways for people to evaluate them. – See more at:

Sense About Science published a guide that

flags up the more serious misconceptions that exist around chemicals and suggests straightforward ways for people to evaluate them.

There is also a selection of very colourful and informative posters:

As the website says,

The reality boils down to six points:

  1. You can’t lead a chemical-free life.
  2. Natural isn’t always good for you and man-made chemicals are not inherently dangerous.
  3. Synthetic chemicals are not causing many cancers and other diseases.
  4. ‘Detox’ is a marketing myth.
  5. We need man-made chemicals.
  6. We are not just subjects in an unregulated, uncontrolled environment, there are checks in place.

Thank you Sense About Science; I’m convinced.

Canadian Secular Alliance Fundraiser


Sean McGuire at My Secret Atheist Blog has already discussed why you should contribute to Canadian Secular Alliance’s fundraiser in his post “Help Canadian Secular Alliance With Landmark Case Against Prayer In Municipal Assemblies.” Now it’s Canadian Atheist’s turn. The reason why CSA’s fundraiser is so important is best explained in CSA’s post:

Since its inception, the Canadian Secular Alliance has sought to protect the rights of all Canadians – ensuring that individuals have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

The CSA’s consistent and principled defense of secular ideals has now been implicitly recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. In October, the SCC will consider the request of the Quebec Secular Movement (MLQ) to enforce the secularism of public institutions by prohibiting the recitation of prayers in municipal assemblies. The decision will affect all pending prayer cases currently before the courts in Ontario and the rest of Canada.

The CSA is one of only two secular organizations that have been granted leave to intervene in this landmark case against four religious institutions, which will be arguing for the continuation of public (predominantly Christian) prayers. To prepare the most effective presentation for the Supreme Court Justices, we need your help to defray essential expenses.

Please support the CSA as we seek to make Canadian legal history. Help us make Canada a more secular – and therefore more just – society.

Please support CSA’s cause by donating to the Canadian Secular Alliance, using the “Donate” button to the right of the CSA Prayer Case Fundraiser post.


Comparison/Contrast to “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?”

A Facebook friend recommends a Prospect Magazine article by Jeff McMahan: “Gaza: Is Israel fighting a just war?

Here is an article that takes the concept of proportionality advanced by Sam Harris on the subject but comes to a different conclusion. This post is meant to stimulate . . . dialectical thinking, not to arouse tensions. . . . It should then be read in parallel with Harris’s “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

McMahan uses a persuasive approach, an examination of the “concept of proportionality,” to answer the question, “Is Israel fighting a just war?” because for McMahan, there are two questions:

(1) Are the killings of Palestinian civilians proportionate in relation to the aim of protecting Israeli civilians?

(2) Are the killings of Palestinian civilians proportionate in relation to the aim of protecting Israeli soldiers?

McMahan focuses on question 1 possibly because of what he says in his strong opening paragraph:

Thus far in the war in Gaza, more than 1800 Palestinians have been killed, most of them apparently civilians. Sixty three Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians, and one foreign worker in Israel have also been killed. The great disparity between the casualties on the two sides raises the question of whether Israeli military action has been disproportionate. This question remains important even if the war is now coming to an end. . . .

While comparing and contrasting Harris’ article and McMahan’s article, you will note that McMahan does some comparing and contrasting of his own. He compares and contrasts a statement by Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, and a statement by Osama bin Laden on the topic of the consequences of voting based on the ideology of a particular party and comes to the conclusion

that Kirshner’s view goes beyond bin Laden’s in recognising more numerous grounds for finding people morally liable to be killed.

That’s a strong and bound to be an unpopular assessment.

Take my Facebook friend’s advice; please read McMahan’s article “in parallel with Harris’s.”

h/t: Jaque

Deceptively Difficult Jobs Everyone Thinks They Can Do has an article by Adam Tod Brown entitled “4 Deceptively Difficult Jobs Everyone Thinks They Can Do,” which features an Unpopular Opinion podcast where

host Adam Tod Brown welcomes comics Cat Rhinehart and Dave Waite to share tales of their very worst day at work ever.

But before you listen to the podcast, check out “#4. Photographer,” the job Kevin Smith took to Twitter to comment on

So there! Being a photographer seems like an easy job. I shoot food – it’s not easy:)



Abbass Collection:

Although being a photographer is perceived as “one of those jobs for money [that] doesn’t look much like work,” Adam  Brown explains why a photographer’s job isn’t as easy as it looks:

A lot of people in this world call themselves “photographers,” and about 90 percent of them have a lot of goddamn nerve for doing so. Contrary to what countless Instagram users believe, taking pictures people (should) pay money for does not involve owning an iPhone and having a keen eye for filters. Sure, you might snap some cool pictures with that kind of setup, but that’s because sometimes there’s cool shit happening that you happen to be on hand to see. Whatever it was, it looked exactly as interesting to the naked eye as it does in your phone.

Brown continues by using the example of wedding photography, a job amateurs take on “because they don’t realize they shouldn’t.”

Now you can listen to the podcast.


This post is dedicated to Kevin, Joe, John and Blaise

You Dunning Goof’d

And they totally backtraced you. Now you gonna jail.

Poor Brian Dunning.

I barely knew you… really hadn’t heard of you, until you became the internet posterboy of bad-skepticism. I can hear the fanboys and girls wailing. No, not our Brian.

For those not following the drama, Brian Dunning is a podcaster, fighting the good fight for skepticism against the charlatans of woo.

But dear friends, Brian also had a dark secret, a double life hidden from the world… ok enough with the drama…

Dunning made a shit ton of money by gaming the system with Ebay.

Ebay says: oops we took money we shouldn’t have and split it with nefarious people. So sorry. But… we always cooperate when the FBI comes calling.

Essentially, Dunning, one of the said nefarious people, created a program that made advertisers think he was advertising for them, and this ended with him getting paid a cut of the advertising revenue that Ebay gets and shares with it’s ‘affiliates’. The people who help whore ads to the rest of us.

Very clever, and very illegal. It’s called fraud…. well unless you work for a bank, Wall Street, a big corporation, or otherwise have a politician in your pocket, then it’s just good business. It’s also called white collar crime and you do not get to pass go.

Sorry, (Pepsi) I can’t take this too seriously. (Coke) He committed a crime and should do his time, (Boobjob) but I can’t squeeze out a crocodile tear for advertisers(Miracle Diet) who have poisoned every click I make with product advertisements for shit I don’t want or need. (Viagra)

I also use adblock and delete my cookies regularly. Advertising is at best a necessary evil that keeps the stuff I like coming down the tubes.

But I game the system too, I avoid that shit as much as I can, while still getting the stuff the ads pay for. That is not fraud… it won’t make me millions like Dunning, but when the system is corrupt and someone makes the big boys look stupid, it does bring a smile to my face, not a tear to my eye.

And if Dunning had given his ill gotten gains to charity or something, he probably would have been lionized for sticking it to the man… but he’s no hero, just a scammer working for personal gain.

On a side note, the drama machine in SJ-land is in full swing… People seem to be mad that skeptics(like me, I guess) aren’t mad *enough* at Dunning, while others are mad that people are mad at them for being mad at people for not being mad enough… at Dunning.

Thankfully, I’m a postmodernist, otherwise keeping track of that kind of narrative might require serious medication.

Somewhat ironically, I checked out some of the more complainy blogs, only to see… you guessed it…. lots of ads for shit I don’t need.


Keep your head up Brian, I hoped you learned a lesson… and you know…. don’t drop the soap.

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