Astrology and Related Bunk

The Venus Project: Everything Wrong With Utopian Fantasy In 108 Simple Questions.

Posted on February 24, 2014. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Politics, Science, Social Justice |

Climate change denial.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Creationism.
Birthers.

We spend an inordinate amount of time as liberals making fun of the teabagging wingnut nutjobs and their seriously delusional conspiracies.  It makes us feel superior.  It makes us feel smart.  It makes us feel gratified, justified, and warm inside.
But it also helps us ignore the fact that there are some liberals with some very ignorant and intellectually lazy ideas.

Anti- GMO.
Anti-Vax.
Alternative medicine.

We don’t have a monopoly on rational thought.  In fact, if “Rational Thought” was a game of Monopoly, some of us would still be trying to unfold the board with the thimble up our nose.  People believe lots of silly stuff because it is epistemologically expedient.  Liberals trend toward anti-corporatism, so Big Agra and Big Pharma must be nefarious.  Natural is always better.

So it doesn’t surprise me that so many of my liberal friends fall head over heels in love with The Venus Project.  It is as though someone sat down to write liberal porn inspired by a crack bender they once had with Karl Marx while watching a Star Trek marathon. It’s an intoxicating, confusing, and entertaining  pile of escapism.

If you don’t want to read through my enlightening FAQ and just want the tl;dr- there are three main facts that I think cannot be disputed when discussing the Venus Project:

  1. The Venus Project is a cult.  Every person who knows anything about the Venus Project knows that the ideas,
    Image from wikipedia

    Image from wikipedia

    mission, and credit belong to one person.  You can’t navigate a page on their website or magazine without seeing the name Jacque Fresco.  Even when he is spectacularly wrong, his acolytes can’t muster more than tepid deference. The only argument you can make against this is that a cult traditionally has a charismatic leader, and Jacques Fresco has all the personality of Joe Leiberman on Unisom.

  2. The Venus Project is naive scientism.  Science is not going to solve all the worlds problems, it’s just not.  It’s not going to make human dynamics less complicated and it’s not a panacea to every imaginable problem.  Sometimes problems require more than just an invention or technology.  Even if Jacque Fresco could invent a machine to bring Nikola Tesla back to life- it still wouldn’t solve all our problems.  Well, most of them.  But not all.
  3. Jacque Fresco knows how to design a building.  Jacque Fresco does not know how to design a society or an economy.  He certainly doesn’t know anything about sociology, psychology or economics.  He is a futurist- but unless technology can make humans behave like algorithms- he is just blowing smoke.

The rest of this post will be my attempt to answer the FAQ on The Venus Project website.  Are my answers flippant?  Sure.  I would argue they are no more flippant (and far more honest) than what you will find on their site.  Each question is linked to the FAQ page of The Venus Project website, and I invite readers to click through and see the answers provided there- which in many cases are more evasive and more comical than my own.

Frequently Asked Questions (With Answers)

1.What is The Venus Project?

The Venus Project is the reason Jacque Fresco is awesome.  In fact, Jacque Fresco is so awesome, he is the Jacque Fresco of Jacque Frescos.  The Venus Project is an organization created by Jacque Fresco to reshape our human existence by plagiarizing 1950’s Sci-Fi drawings and selling them back to you as an ideal future.   The Venus project is the Jacque Fresco of Utopian Sci-Fi organizations.
From the 19th century until the 1950’s, science fiction authors and artists imagined the planet Venus as a warm, habitable world filled with lush vegetation, new discoveries and boundless wonder- until science came along and spoiled all their fun by proving Venus to be a brutally unlivable hell-hole where it rains sulfuric acid.  From a distance, the planet appears to be great but on closer inspection it is unfit for human habitation.  In this way, the Venus Project is apparently quite aptly named.

2.What is a Resource-Based Economy?

A resource-based economy is one where we continue to use resources but stop using money to represent the ownership of those resources.  It’s so awesome, some people say it’s the Jacque Fresco of economic systems.
I know what you’re thinking- it’s going to be hard to fit three T-bone steaks and a pound of lentils in the pocket of your jeans when you want to buy the new Zeitgeist documentary on Blu-Ray.  That’s okay, because you won’t have to! You just go and pick it up at the store- because resources are all shared.  And by shared I mean rationed, because you can’t just get whatever you want. We call it “sharing” because we won’t have to ration because you are only ever going to ask for what you need because we are all totally unselfish. Get it? It’s kind of like communism but this is not communism because it’s called a resource-based economy. It’s totally different because it has a different name.
If you want to learn more about a resource-based economy, just send a cheque or money order (sorry, we do not accept resources) to The Venus Project for their fantastic book on the subject- The Best That Money Can’t Buy.

3.Why do you feel that an approach as revolutionary as The Venus Project is necessary?

Our current system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit.  Therefor, we have to tear the whole thing down and start all over from scratch- because Jacque Fresco is the world’s most awesomist inventor but he can’t figure out how to work within a monetary paradigm.  He’s the Jacque Fresco of visionaries.

4.Isn’t it just decent people that we need in government?

We don’t need government.  We need benevolent plutocrats making all the important decisions.  Nothing could possibly go wrong with expecting a privileged few people to always choose the best possible policy for the use and distribution of resources.  It will be like a fiefdom, except that all the things you hate about fiefdoms will be different.

5.Elaborate a bit, if you will, on your views regarding money.

Are you going to buy one of my books or DVDs?  Are you going to tour our headquarters?
I guess what I’m asking is “Is this a trick question?”

6.What are some of the detrimental effects of The Monetary System?

It forces me to ask you for money, so there’s that.

7.You mentioned economic collapse in your book. Do you believe this is the only way our society can escape a monetary economy?

Yes.  Incidentally, waiting for an economic collapse allows me to continue to collect donations without having to, you know, do anything.
It’s a win-win.

8.Wouldn’t there be Resistance of the Rich and Powerful?

No.  People in the future will love giving up all their wealth. Because in the future, science is magic!

9.In the idea of future, do you think that the regional differences will still have the greatest influence as they do today? Or will these differences disappear?

In the idea of the future, I think that regional differences no will longer have the as great influences.  Like spambots will talk similar to others. This question makes super quality, and to help others to understand the qualities better.

10.What types of pressures would be alleviated in The Venus Project’s designs?

Why?  Do you feel pressured?  Come and lie down in this building shapes like some boobs.

11.What is the single most important aspect of the project?

Collecting donations for The Venus Project.

12.What is the Plan?

The plan has four phases:

  1. Build a place in Florida for Jacque Fresco to live.  Ask people to pay lots of money to see it. This step is done.
  2. Make a movie.  Ask people to pay lots of money to buy it on DVD.
  3. Build an experimental city.  Ask people to pay lots of money to have it built.
  4. Build a theme park.  Ask people to pay lots of money for admission.  Interactive displays will explain why if you give us more money, some day you won’t have to use money to get into theme parks.

13.How do you see the collapse of the present system occurring?

With your eyes.
See what I did there?

14.How do we get from here to there?

By adding a “t”.
See what I did there?

15.What are the first steps taken toward a global resource based economy?

Step 1: Wait for the economy to collapse.
In the meantime, you are welcome to make all donations payable to The Venus Project.

16.What can be “the turning point” of the future? Do you have any idea about it?

I have lots of ideas.

17.How would you describe the recent economic crisis? Can it be a lesson in today’s society?

I would describe it as a crisis.  A crisis of the economic sort.
The lesson is “I told you so.”

18.By the way, what do you think about the “New World Civilization”?

Is that like the “New World Order”?  Because I understand people don’t like that.
So it’s nothing like that.

19.You couldn’t just plop the first city down and expect people to respect it…. you would need to slowly develop the cities as it becomes harmonized with the evolving social consciousness. What are some of the steps to accomplish this?

  1. Send us money.
  2. We will use the money to inform people why it is a good idea.
  3. Send us more money.
  4. We will use the money to make a DVD that costs $30
  5. Send us more money
  6. We will build a city once the economy collapses.
    Any questions?

20.What is, and what do you think about it, the relationship between habitat and place of living? Which variables do you consider in conceiving architecture, or even a city?

Are you the same guy who wrote question #9?  Also, that’s a great porn site linked to your comment, too bad it’s in Cyrillic.

21.I noticed a certain nearness between your thinking and the French architect Le Doux about the concept of ideal city: do you believe that the eighteenth century idea of ideal city could apply also to a future city?

Le Doux is the Jacque Fresco of Eighteenth Century architecture.
In other words, he’s awesome.

22.What would you consider to be the most difficult technological hurdle to overcome before building the Circular City?

I don’t understand.  Building a Circular City is as easy as Pi.

23.Many of your designs seem to reflect retro-mod trends. What was your thinking behind the shapes and the black/white façades of the structures?

I’m old.
My conception of the future was cemented in 1952.

24.What would be done with the old cities?

Rebel bases for people who think having no choices is dystopian.

25.What main concepts do you keep in mind whenever you design structures or transportation?

WWJVD?  What Would Jules Verne Do?

26.Can you briefly describe the process you used in designing the Circular City? What factors were most important?

I started by making a circle.  Then I placed buildings in the circle.  It was important to make it circular since I wanted to call it the Circular City.
In the first draft it was shaped like a rhombus.  This made it hard to call it the Circular City.

27.What kind of change do you expect in architecture?

In the future, architecture changes you.

28.How would one choose a home?

In the future, home chooses you.

29.Is everything going to be easier than today regarding the materials we use at home, for example, white goods, furniture, etc.? Then, how is it going to be changed?

Science will make everything easy.  They will be changed to be more science-y.
Also, you need to, you know, possibly try to, just, maybe, lay off the use of so many commas.

30.In your project new social mentality is introduced. What novelties in architectural forms and constructions does the Venus project offer?

Civilization is going to collapse.  We are going to enter a period of unprecedented social disorder.  Our economy is going to tank and billions of humans are going to be systematically displaced by the unrest.
So by all means, let’s talk about how cool it will be to live in a geodesic dome.

31.What kind of change do you expect in health equipment?

Health equipment will be better because science.

32.What kind of change do you expect in communication?

Communication will be better because, well, science.

33.What kind of change do you expect in transport?

Transportation will be worse.
Just kidding!
Science!

34.Is it possible to see flight cars in the near future?

Will giving you a flying car distract you from the fact that none of this is plausible?
It will?
Then yessss…..

35.What kind of change do you expect in urban development?

See questions 31 through 33.

36.From a technological point of view – is the Venus project real?

No.

37.Are there necessary materials, technologies of constructing and maintenance of eco-cities nowadays?

Nowadays we are pretty close. Tomorrowadays, anything is possible.

38.What present-day materials, technologies can be used in constructing the Venus project?

Imagination.

39.What scientific developments (materials, technologies) should be done to realize your project?

We need to create a machine that takes hopeless pipe dreams and converts them into reality.  I expect such an invention in the next few years.

40.How do you imagine the building processes of the projects – standard, using prefabricated units or some other technologies?

I imagine. That’s a good way of putting it.

41.Is there a preliminary cost of this kind of the complex? Is it cheaper or not?

It should be cheaper because nobody gets paid to build things in the future.

42.In your opinion, when will such towns be constructed?

There are already towns like this.  Since they weren’t built by Jacque Fresco we don’t talk about them.

43.Is there any one field of discipline you find most promising right now, as far as technological advancement? Architecture? Material science, perhaps?

Whichever discipline Jacque Fresco is using at the given moment.

44.Could individuals live outside the cities?

They won’t want to because the cities were created by Jacque Fresco.

45.But, what if someone wanted to go out into a remote area, far from the cities?

Why would you want to be far away from the genius of Jacque Fresco?  This question makes no sense.

46.I was trying to think of an intermediate/bridging solution to the problem of automobile collisions. I’m curious as to his thoughts about such a common problem. 6,289,000 occur every year.

We need to wait for the economy to collapse so I can give you flying cars.  Problem solved.

47.Why is this concept superior to other intentional community projects?

Jacque Fresco.

48.How are Resources Distributed Equitably?

Rationing.  Except I will call it something else because that sounds bad.

49.What is the role of the family?

To distract you from the fact that you have limited choices, exactly like today.

50.What is the approach to professionals running this new society?

We will be getting rid of many professions.  Like lawyers because there will be no crime or disagreements.  And bankers because there will be no money.

51.Will there be a government?

Eventually computers will replace governments because they make better decisions than you can.  You can’t be involved in decisions.

52.What is the role of Cybernation as Decision Makers?

Your robot overlords will always look out for your best interests.  You have nothing to worry about.

53.How do you evaluate the robot conception in the future? As in the science fiction movies, everything is going to be done by robots. Is everything going to be different or will humans be the most effective factor?

Are you that guy from question #9 and #20 again?
I evaluate that conceived robots in future will be awesome. Human effective factors will be different so everything conceived robots factor to be more of an affect.  Science fiction makes robot affects to human factors conceived for evaluation.

I hope this answers your query.

54.Is this what Karl Marx advocated?

No.  Karl Marx didn’t have robots or science.

55.How does The Venus Project Compare with Communism?

It has a cooler name and it is more like Star Trek.

56.How does this system differ from Marxism, besides the technological use?

Because this system was created by Jacque Fresco, and Marxism was created by not Jacque Fresco.

57.How does this differ from Communism?

It has robots, flying cars, and retro-mod architecture.  Will nothing make you happy?

58.Could you respond to the 1949 essay I sent you from Albert Einstein regarding his views on socialism?

He’s a fucking idiot.

59.How can the use of Laws be eliminated?

In the future people won’t do anything wrong.  This makes total sense if you stop thinking about it.

60.In all your books, but most of all in The Best That Money Can’t Buy, you deal among other subjects (as the need to rethink the set of priorities of society, to suppress crime and war, to take care of our planet’s health…) also with the need to understand the close bond that man entertains with nature: which are the properties of the world (planet-society) that have to change to re-establish this bond?

Has this question rally been asked “frequently”? Really?  Worded like this? Why do people keep sending me such poorly worded questions?  This question is barely in English.

61.Wouldn’t change come about through a reasonable and logical progression?

No, change is inherently unreasonable and illogical.  In fact, the change will likely come before the process taken to effect it.  Because logic.

62.What Guarantees People The Right Of Participation?

As long as by “participation” you don’t mean “political participation” or “democratic participation”, then no worries.

63.What do you consider a “high standard of living”, which everyone in the world is entitled to? And who is the one to decide this?

A resource based economy means that the economy has a finite value based on available resources.  Every single person will have the same standard of living regardless of where they live.  This means that the total available resources divided by the number of people on earth will equal the value of your fixed standard of living.
You will have an equal share, but it might be wise to keep any large boxes handy- just in case we have a resource shortfall and you need, you know, a place to sleep or something.

64.Who makes the decisions in a resource based economy?

Your robot overlords. We already discussed this.

65.Will people all be alike?

No. Some people will be happy being housepets to their robot overlords, others might think that there must be a better way.  The latter people will, of course, be wrong- because the robots say so.

66.Will people who do more work, such as doctors, demand more resources than someone like an artist?

Who says doctors do more work?  Who says artists do little work?
Just fucking with you.  They might demand more resources, but the robot overlords will fix them.

67.Inventors and designers are constantly improving methods and technology, yet can like-minded people work towards goals similar to the ones you presented in your book, while still operating within a monetary system? How do you suggest we keep ideas and technology from contributing to the cycle (away from military hands, etc.)?

My goals cannot be reached in a monetary system.  You got that?  Sheesh.  Things will never change in a monetary system.  We have had a monetary system for thousands of years and not a single new political idea, scientific advancement, or cultural shift was ever achieved in this period.
Look it up.  (but seriously, don’t look that up)

68.What are the safeguards against abuse of power in the society you envision?

Robots don’t crave power.  Have you not read Issac Asimov?  (again- seriously, don’t)

69.Do we have enough energy to eliminate scarcity?

As soon as someone figures out how to convert pure energy into arable farmland and water, yes.

70.In a system where everything is available without a price tag, would this eliminate incentive?

No.  It will put the company that makes price tags out of business though.

71.Would people lose their incentive?

If they don’t need to work, why would they need an incentive?

72.Why the emphasis on the cybernated approach to the social operation?

Because if people operated the economy then they would have power over those that didn’t make the decisions.  And since I’m guessing you are a communist and don’t like class-based economic systems, I thought I could solve it with robots.

73.The world you describe requires the planetary resources of legions of engineers, artists and craftspeople to design, fabricate, assemble and calibrate. What happens three or ten generations later when the back-up systems are breaking down and the population has only poets and theoretical physicists?

We will write epic poems about our love of string theory.  Duh.

74.History shows that advanced technologies and skills have been lost within generations and a fully automated cybernetically managed economy/ecology/society would be vulnerable to system decay, malfunction and collapse in a way that would render humanity helpless and then destitute with neither the technical skills nor the emotional maturity to resolve the resulting crises.

Hey smartypants, that’s not a question- is it?

75.So why not plan on simple modular self-sufficient economies, or inter-dependant low tech economies that advance sustainable technologies and skills within each community?

Because if I did that I would have to do something useful with your donations instead of hoarding donations till the economy collapses.  Why would anyone do such a thing?

76.Could you describe the distribution of food and/or other objects of desire, like telephones, computers, or books?

If you are hungry, you will go to a distribution center to get food.  If they are out of food, you could try eating other objects of desire, like telephones, computers, or books.

77.What will people do?

Stuff.

78.You place great emphasis on human behavior as opposed to human nature. Would you define both?

Human behaviour is defined as how humans behave.  Human nature is defined as how humans nate.
Got it?

79.Isn’t this against Human Nature?

No. Deflecting serious questions and being evasive is totally natural for humans.

80.How do “Restless Teenagers” fit into the system? Or rather, what is available for them to do?

Perhaps they could watch “The Young and The Restless”?

81.Would The Venus Project be for deviants?

There will be no deviants, because science!

82.What would be done with that percentage of society that would be agitators or malcontent such as Timothy McVeigh who were brought up with a normal upbringing?

There will be no agitators or malcontents, because science!

83.What about crimes of jealousy?

People won’t be jealous.  Just because.

84.For reasons best known to geneticists, some people inherit different colored eyes from those of other people around them. In a grand overall vision of social and economic reform such as The Venus Project, what about those few who will always exhibit aberrant behavior under any system?

Programming.  But we won’t call it that- we will call it “better education”.

85.Do you advocate killing people with aberrant behavior?

No, but I said I don’t think people in the future will exhibit aberrant behaviour- because “better education”.  Checkmate, rationalists.

86.Isn’t technology very often detrimental to people and the cause of many of our problems?

Tell that to your new robot overlords…….

87.In this new culture, do you propose to utilize a technical elite that would decide the direction for society?

No.  the technical elite will program the robots that will decide the direction for society.  Huge difference.

88.How does one solve the problem of excess (say a person or people wanting more than is available)?

“Better Education”.  Which is totally not like “programming”.

89.How will people get along in the Middle East? How will the question of religion be resolved?

Ignore them, leave them tot heir own devices, let God sort them out.
Unless they want to stop- then your question is irrelevant.

90.What about religion?

Many people in the future will worship Jacque Fresco.  If some people want to continue to give all the credit to Jesus or Allah- then I can’t really stop them.

91.Many people claim that when spirituality fails in bringing up social changes, the use of violence is rationalized. Do you agree with this opinion?

Do I agree that there is a dichotomy between spiritualism and violence?  I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

92.What can you tell us about The Venus Project’s approach to education?

We plan on educating people.

93.What would the education be like?

It would be like education now, but better.

94.How are Learning, Cooperation, and Gaining Health, Built into the System?

Again- I have to ask- exactly how does a question like this get asked “frequently”?
Really?

95.What about food? Would people eat meat?

Bacon for everybody!  (Unless your not into that kind of thing…)

96.What about drug addicts and alcoholics?

No more drugs.  Because science!

97.Is The Venus Project interested/capable of co-ordinating with other groups, intentional communities, individuals, to organize a resource based society distributed throughout the current society? Put another way, is TVP organizing the transition itself? Or just providing an example of what is possible with the intention of society as a whole enacting the switch over?

The Venus Project is just waiting for the economy to collapse, then for the military dictatorships to take over. This is when we think it will be easiest to broker change.  This totally makes sense if you don’t think about it.

98.How do you think people react to your proposals, that I would label “virtual proposals”, about the future of the world, and what is your relationship with them? How important is fulfilment in terms of credibility and concrete experience?

People react poorly to many of my ideas.  This is because I’m right and they are wrong.
Look it up. (Seriously though, don’t look it up.)

99.Is The Venus Project a Utopian society?

Yes, but I’ll never cop to it.

100.Future plans? What are you going to do now? What are you going to do next?

Next I’ll need you to buy my complete lectures on DVD.  Then I’ll need you to donate money.  After that, we just need to wait for the economy to collapse.

101.More than a few people would say they are fed up with living in a money-driven society, and wish to live a more self-fulfilling life. What advice would you give these people?

Turn your dreams into a reality by giving me your money.

102.Do we have enough time to see all of these changes?

No.  But I’m not going to tell you that.

103.If you had to choose one idea that would describe the essence of this new society, what would it be? Unity? Discovery?

Jacque Fresco.

104.What about the use of drugs in the future?

Once people have taken enough drugs to think my ideas make sense, there will be no need for drugs.

105.What is your take regarding Sexuality?

I’m all for it.

106.What is your take regarding the separation from the Zeitgeist Movement as the activist arm of The Venus Project?

There are two main problems that led to the decision to dissociate The Venus Project from the Zeitgeist Movement:

  1. Those guys are friggin’ nuts
  2. Too much 9/11 denial, not enough Jacque Fresco worship.

107.What is your take regarding overpopulation?

There are finite resources and an infinite potential for population growth.  Given these two facts, I have decided that overpopulation is a myth.

108.What is TVP’s stance on personal possessions?

You currently possess money.  We would like to free you of that burden as soon as possible.

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Getting Skeptical About Woo Juice Part 1:For The Credulous Asshole Troll- Neil C. Reinhardt

Posted on September 2, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Internet Etiquette, Personal, Science, Trolls |

Last week I wrote a eulogy to one of my personal heroes who died of cancer.  Regardless of the political views of my readers and Canadians in general, most people are happy to agree that Jack Layton was a very special human being- someone worthy of a fond farewell.

I would like to point out that I have more than a few readers who hold political views in diametric opposition to Jack’s vision- and each and every one of those people had the courtesy to let my post stand as a testament to someone they knew I respected deeply.  I might have even tolerated a right wing diatribe about how my “pinko socialist” hero was plotting to ruin Modern Western Civilization.  Jack would have liked that.  Being accused of being “unrealistic”, “utopian”, and “socialist” would have made him proud.

Meet The Troll

Enter Neil C. Reinhardt- a professional atheist troll who spouts pathetic and misguided conspiracy theories because people don’t believe that he has stumbled across a MLM (Multi Level Marketing- aka Pyramid scheme) product that cures every single ailment known to man.  He rails against “skeptics” for not making the effort to credulously accept that his “miracle tropical beverage”  can cure any and every known disease and symptom.  Skepticism is to be lauded until it bumps heads with his faith in fruit juice. Fruit juice that apparently tastes like licking testicle sweat off of a turd. (That is how you know it works- why else would people ingest such foul tasting swill?)

Neil apparently thinks that a very personal post about a very personal subject is the perfect place to insert his delusional ramblings about how the medical establishment are covering up the cure-all effects of ingesting and topically applying the fruit juice equivalent of equine effluent.  Apparently I’m to assume that his 15 year foray into faith-healing is supposed to make me run out and buy his snake oil.  Here is the blathering, disjointed ramblings deposited in the comment section of my post: (more…)

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“Time To Get Rapture Ready”- Pope Honky Reports.

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Humour, Religion |

In this file photo-NOT AN ARTISTS RENDERING- Pope Honky I shows his growing concearn.

Pope Honky I a.k.a. Jeremy of Cafe Witteveen reports that the rapture will begin in 2011, starting May 21st.  The rapture will begin in earnest with those of us Left Behind forced to wade through another grueling 5 months of recession and a Secret Muslim Presidency before the official End of Days in October.  The only good news for those of us who must wait is that the proportion of self righteous assholes on the planet should be greatly diminished, and a larger slate of PGA and MLB games will be broadcast on television to fill the void left by Sunday Morning Religious Programming.  NASCAR will, unfortunately, be canceled. We can all be grateful for this, yet that asshole Jesus won’t even give us one more Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate.

Confirmation of the pending apocalypse comes from Harold Camping of California-based Family Radio Worldwide, whose own calculations are responsible for the May 21st prediction.  He is joined by many supporters, including Chris McCann of eBible Fellowship and legions of other perfectly sane individuals who are traveling cross country to spread the “good news”.  There is even a website, We Can Know, which is dedicated to disseminating the message to people just smart enough to operate a computer yet gullible enough to believe everything they read on it.  In an effort to lend credence to the story and not at all to make light of abject stupidity, the Washington Post recently jumped on board with an article discussing the issue.

In preparation for the coming apocalypse, several heathens are beginning to question their favorite hairdressers and restaurant owners on their relative piety, in the hopes that they will still be able to get a decent haircut and/or Sausage-on-a-Bun between May and October of this year.  “I, gladly, have a gay hairdresser,” says one atheist “I can only imagine what others must be going through.”  Another atheist laments “If I can’t get some grits, if I have to eat Baba Ganoush and Naan for five months, I swear I’ll have to kill somebody.”

Pope Honky warns his followers not to invest in any cosmetic companies that cater to Caucasians exclusively, as they are the largest group to be Rapture Ready, nor in sunscreen or bland food products as the majority of the existing population will be brown and ethnic.  He says that these measures will help keep your finances in order until the billions of dollars stolen by Christian Churches is dispersed in a massive Global lottery, planned sometime in June.

For more information on this story you can read the article at the Washington Post, or visit Wecanknow.com

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A Year in Review: Misplaced Grace

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Global Warming, Humour, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science, Trolls, You're Not Helping |

This has been a fun first year of blogging.  I graduated from a chronic lurker and occasional commenter on other blogs to having my own platform with which to discuss those topics that really interest me.  I want to give new readers a bit of a review of my first year of blogging so that everyone can catch up on issues they may find interesting but missed the first time around.  I also want to take this opportunity to go over some of my upcoming plans for posts and projects in the new year so that I can get feedback to help shape what direction I go with this blog and it’s content.

Misplaced Grace had it’s first post back on June 10th of 2010.   After the required “Welcome to My Blog” post, I chose Anthropogenic Global Warming as my first subject for a full post.  My WordPress widget tells me that that first post received a grand total of 5 views, the first one being a month after this blog started. Not exactly a winner out of the gates.   The first post that ever received a comment, as well as the first post that ever got a significant number of hits was about Andrew Rosenberg, a teenager who got in over his head by e-mailing PZ Myers.  One of the comments turned out to be from Andrew himself, and this prompted two more posts where I tried to answer his questions about evolution, religion, and science.  These posts turned out to be among my most popular, as well as contributing to many new pageviews long after the posts were published.   The You’re Not Helping debacle got me the busiest single day of traffic ever to my blog, and still gets regular hits.  My Apologetics and Apostasy series came next, followed by a sometimes rocky exchange with a theist when I commented on her blog and linked a post that turned into a great and thought provoking conversation.  My long and drawn out argument with astrologers over at Lousy Canuck became the impetus for some cross posts as well as a challenge with James Alexander that has not yet come to fruition.  My commentary on the Wikileaks/Assange rape case finished off the year with a bang.  I joined Planet Atheism this fall, and it has certainly helped.  So here is a breakdown of my first year of blogging, both statistically and personally, with added commentary.

Misplaced Grace 2010

Total posts: 40- This breaks down to about 6 or 7 a month, a number I would like to increase in the New Year.  My goal is to have 2 or 3 posts a week.  So hopefully my 2012 New Year message will have a total around 110-150 posts for the year.

Total Pageviews: About 2800- That averages to about 70 views per post, and I would be pretty happy to keep that pace.  My goal for 2011 then would be somewhere around 10,000 views.

Total Comments: 215- A bit deceptive because I reply to almost every comment, so let’s half that number and say 107.  That is less than three comments per post, and the number I would most like to change.  I need to make posts that demand feedback; something that I have had trouble doing thus far….

Busiest single day: October 6th, 2010, 69 views-  WOW! I remember that day and it was a real high.  That number seems really low, but to me it was really exciting.  I would love to get over 100 views in a single day this year.

Most viewed post:  Polaris Software:  A Critical Analysis-  Other than my homepage, this post has generated the most views at 292.  Every one of my astrology posts has had more than 50 views, making them pretty popular.

Least Viewed Post: Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Denial of Science- Only 5 views.  Sad, really.  I kind of like that post…..

My Favorite Post:Does Righteousness Recuse One From A Rape Investigation-  I really like this post and I really liked writing it.  I also enjoyed the discussion that ensued.

What To Expect In 2011

Here is a list of posts I have been sitting on for the coming year, as well as some projects I have planned.  Commentary is appreciated.

1. The Ian Juby Project: I plan to pick apart some YouTube clips from Ian Juby of the  Portable Creation Museum Project.  This guy lives in my backyard, just down the road in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario.  He runs a traveling creation museum that aims to spread creationist propaganda to any group willing to pay his expenses.  Lots of lies, half truths, and misrepresentations.  I want to address as many as I can, to offer a resource for people being shoveled his brand of bullshit.

2. My Conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses: I have been getting these people at my door lately and want to make the most of it.  I find that for a group of people who go door to door trying to sell their religion, not many of us really know what exactly they believe.  I am going to take one for the team and sit them down for a series of conversations, which I will blog about here.  Any submissions of questions would be appreciated, as well as suggestions for how I should format the exchange.  I am kind of excited about this project, I am really interested about where JW’s stand on a host of issues.

3.  Evolution and Science Debates in Meatspace:  I have a creationist friend who is getting a basic cable television project developed on the intersection of faith and science.  I  will be a contributor and presenter in parts of this series and I hope to keep everyone abreast of developments as they emerge.

4.  Expanded Canadian Content:  I want to try and focus on Canadian issues and content in the coming year.  This will hopefully include a few more posts on Canadian history and politics, as well as some current events stories.  An election is looming, and this should provide fodder for more posts with Canadian content.

5. Tying up Loose Ends:  I had some posts this year where I wanted to do more research or work and have fresh posts on the topic.  In some cases I made commitments that remain unfulfilled.  I hope to sew these up this year, with an end to my Apologetics and Apostasy series, a meeting of my challenge to Polaris astrology software and other subjects.  (more…)

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2012:Doomsday- Worst Movie Ever Or Just In Recent Memory?

Posted on December 9, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Humour, Personal, Science |

I recently got Netflix on my Wii console.  There are not a lot of  “A-list” movies on Netflix, so I have done some browsing to try and find good action movies to soak up between the documentaries and the remote being commandeered by my children to watch the entire Sonic the Hedgehog TV series.  I wouldn’t have chosen 2012: Doomsday to waste two hours of my life on until I read a conversation about it over at Lousy Canuck.  The people who had watched it said it was really, really bad; and just like passing a car accident or renting Weekend At Bernie’s 2, I just had to see the clusterfuck for myself……

I had mentioned over at Lousy Canuck that I might blog about the movie.  I just needed to have some angle.  So in this post I have decided to give my opinion on three movies at once.  I’ll build up to 2012:DD by first reviewing 2012- the recent Hollywood blockbuster, then Doomsday- an apocalyptic action film from Britain, then finally 2012:DD-the movie that is roughly as entertaining as listening to your drunk Uncle Louie spoil the plot of the aforementioned films while doing his best Fran Drescher impression.

(more…)

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Talk Like A Creationist Week

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Humour, Religion, Science |

Tim Cooley has a fun idea.  This week is Talk Like A Creationist Week.  In the spirit of showing creationists that we are well aware of their talking points-and to have a little fun- everyone is invited to do their best impression of a creationist in the comment section.  Feel free to post your own creationist diatribe in the comment thread, the winner will be chosen based on the most believable rant- or post your best impression over at Tim’s blog.

Irrefutable proof of a Young Earth...

Tim has some great pointers to get you started:

If you’re looking to participate in the talk-like-a-creationist week here are some tips to get you started.

Do’s:

  • Speak in a moderately condescending manner or with a slight hint of condescension. ✔
    eg. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the absence of basic human education. It’s all as obvious as the need to breath… to the point of being banal…”
  • In your arguments, mould atheism and ‘evolutionism’ and Darwinism and abiogenesis into one. ✔
  • Where appropriate, attempt sarcasm. ✔
    eg. “You’re almost smarter than every single human being on the planet, past or present. i r ignorant.”
    eg2. “lol Geez, I hope one day I can be only partially as wise as you” (more…)
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Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Irony in the Title, Random, Science |

Note From George: Many of you already know that for the last several days I have been wading into the astrology debate over at Jason’s blog, Lousy Canuck.

During the original debate, we were invited by Jamie Funk to join in on the discussion at his astrology blog where I first encountered James Alexander and his brief explanation of Polaris; a computer software developed for “rectification”.  James has now joined the debate on Jason’s blog, and has once again brought up Polaris as evidence of astrology’s ability to make falsifiable predictions.  During this debate, I have offered James the opportunity to test Polaris as a proof of astrology and he seems genuinely interested in putting it to task.  In the interests of giving a fair shake to James, I would like to give him the opportunity to guest post his own interpretation of Polaris, which I will not edit save a disclaimer that the views are his, and post it on my site.  I welcome his comments about my interpretation, which I am offering here.  I would forewarn readers that this is a 4000 word post with no jokes and little pointed language, and will likely be a tl;dr for anyone not interested by astrology or with vested interest in our ongoing discussion.  Feel free to read my Summary  just above the fold to get a brief overview of this post.  Unless you are James.  Then you should read it and explain in some detail what parts are factually wrong, as well as proofread it for spelling and grammar.  (that’s my only joke folks, you have been warned)  All quotes or information attributed to James is available at the Polaris link or in comments on my blog and Lousy Canuck.  I will be happy to clarify the source upon request.

Jason has offered to post on his blog the parameters and eventual results of this test of Polaris on his site, once James and I have agreed on terms and begun the test.

Overview

  • Rectification can cause “warm readings” as opposed to “cold readings”, the potential for non-astrologically gained information and/or the discounting of information should be considered as fostering confirmation bias.
  • It is feasible to create a PRNG (Pseudo-Random Number Generator) that would perform better than chance without the aid of astrology.
  • The odds quoted by James are fundamentally flawed
  • Many of his corollary statements are misdirecting, flawed or incorrect
  • By widening the scope of what would pass for a “hit” for Polaris, the odds of the “uncanny” become far better.
  • Polaris is deserving of a test in spite of my basic criticisms (more…)
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Daily Horoscope:Mars May Be Conjunct Jupiter, But Your Head Is In Uranus.

Posted on August 17, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Irony in the Title, Science |

Edit:I changed the grammar of the title in response to James’ criticism.

Note From George: There is a more lengthy criticism of Polaris in my follow up post Daily Horoscope: Polaris Software- A Critical Analysis.

After a month long hiatus, Jamie Funk is back for round 2 over at Lousy Canuck.  Well, sort of.  He has re-joined the fray now that Robert Currey has come in to defend astrology with something resembling a real argument.  I do not by any means agree that Robert’s argument is anything short of trying to obfuscate the debate, but he at least came to the fight with a weapon; even if it is just pepper spray at a gun fight.  I can summarize the new flavor of the debate like so:

1. Astrology doesn’t need a mechanism.  It also apparently doesn’t need to have a quantifiable effect.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to need anything other than a 3000 year pedigree and some nifty anecdotes.

2. Astrologers are not responsible to give any evidence to prove that astrology works.  Science needs to prove a negative so that astrologers can critique these studies as faulty.  Scientific method be damned.

3.  Skeptics continually disregard “hits” out of hand.  Even if those hits are based on ambiguous guesswork that could be viewed as a “hit” no matter which way the winds blow.

4.  Astrologers like to insist that we divulge our personal information rather than subject their “field of study” to any semblance of a scientific assessment.

Why I Am Not Convinced.

Not suprisingly, Uranus is a Gas Giant- What effect that has on me, I don't really know...

Astrologers, in my mind, need to show that their “field of study” has some measurable effect in the world we live.  Before we can postulate a mechanism, we first need to see the need for a mechanism.  There has to be some phenomenon that can best be explained by astrology, and this would make a mechanism necessary.  Astrologers do not seem to agree with this.  They think we should prove that astrology has no effect, at which point they can decide if our proof is sufficient to discount astrology or not.

Then, out of the blue, James Alexander comes into the discussion.  Those of you who have read my Daily Horoscope series would be familiar with James, both as the poster I referenced from Jamie’s blog and the author of the Polaris link I gave in DH: You’re in a Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy.  You might also remember the open offer I gave him in DH: There Will Be A Test.

Polaris: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

To reiterate what I said before:

Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, but likely not the brightest computer program...

A poster named James mentioned Polaris, a computer program that he described as being indisputably predictive in calculating birth times.   I should have caught on when the process was referred to as “rectification”, but the temptation of a program that was testable and falsifiable blinded me to its obvious flaw.

The process is called “rectification”, I know now, because it uses your built in confirmation bias to re-jig your birthtime based on past events in your life.  The idea is this:

Subject A either has no registered or confirmable birth time or feels that his/her birth time was miscalculated by timepieces at the time of their birth.

With the foreknowledge that astrology is more accurate at calculating birth times then, say, a clock or watch which was invented solely for the purpose of time keeping; Subject A gives a list of significant events from their lives and a list of probable birth times and Polaris extracts the most likely one based on a points system.

How eminently scientific!  I can still see how this program could be used to disprove itself though.

Let’s say someone bought the program, gathered birth time information on several individuals using clocks that are accurate to the millisecond, witnessing and documenting firsthand the indisputable birth times.  Wait say, 20 years and input events from those individuals lives and a wide range of birth times and voila, the indisputable birth time must surely emerge!

Not Fair?

I’d like to know why, without any confirmation bias “that was the time they were supposed to be born” bullshit that I can hear already spewing from the credulous assholes mouth.

I’ve already proposed how to use this program in a less scientific way to at least lend weight to it’s credibility.  I’m still open to takers:

From James’ comment at Funk Astrology.

Hypothesis: That the time of a persons birth can be calculated with better than average accuracy using the dates of a series of unrelated events in their lives.

Experiment:  Provided with a list of ten (10) unknown subjects information including date of birth, place of birth, and several important events in their lives, the astrologer will be able to calculate their known birthtime within an insignificant margin of error.  These calculations are to be statistically more accurate than the guesses of 5 non-astrologers.

James didn’t want to address my concerns with Polaris a month ago, and certainly has not seemed to keen to address them now.  He claims that the odds of Polaris working are 1 in 1440 yet when I look at his example on the Polaris link I find this information:

She sent me over 40 events from her life, mostly with exact dates. I took 38 of these events (the ones where the dates were most accurately known) and entered each of them into Polaris. I gave the software a search range of an hour on either side of the supposed birthtime. This entering of events goes quite quickly. In about a minute (time dependent on computer speed), Polaris examined every 8 seconds in birthtime throughout the range and gave the following table:

Don't know you're "real" birth time? That's why we invent astrology software!

With an hour on either side,and examining every eight seconds, you’re chances look like 1 in 900. But if we consider the fact that many people don’t have birthtime to the second, we must consider what range of “hits” would be considered uncanny to the person who has a rough birth time. Let’s suppose its just ten minutes either side of their birth time. By my math that equates to 1 in 6.
So I question the method, not the significance of it’s results.

I am left with the impression that his statistical skills are a bit lacking.  He has succumbed to his own confirmation bias.

I still leave my original offer open though.  I would gladly offer him the chance to set up a rigorous blind test of Polaris’ efficiency at calculating birth times.  I’ll even allow him to help shape the parameters so that his program can get a fair shake.  I doubt he will take the offer though, I just thought I would give him the chance he says every other skeptic won’t.

What Will I Do If You’re Right?

This sphere exerts more gravitational pull on her than Jupiter- It also is just as likely to give her useful information about her life...

James, if you win, if Polaris can be seen to fair better than chance at calculating birth times, I will gladly take up your cause.  I will stand behind you 100% on Jason’s site, and I will admit to everyone that astrology is plausible.  I will give Jason and Glendon and Stephanie all the data we gathered together, and defend it as more than mere coincidence, proof that there is SOMETHING to astrology.

I will also post a retraction on my site saying that I was wrong to criticize astrology, outlining all the evidence I collected from our study, and you could link to this post with reckless abandon every time a skeptic questions astrology.

So let’s have a go then.  Let’s put your program to the test.

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Atheist in God’s Country….

Posted on July 29, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Personal |

This week is ending with a bang.  I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon to head down to my best friend Greg’s Cottage for a weekend of golf and R&R.

Sunset: therefor God. End of Argument.

So other than checking comments, doing the rounds, and checking a few new friends blogs on Friday morning, I will be indisposed for the whole of the long weekend.  I understand that this will come as a bit of a disappointment to my 4 regular readers ( You know who you are), but rest assured that I will be back to the daily grind on Tuesday with a new post.  I might even include some photos of me relaxing out in God’s country. (I wish their were a better term for it)

I am really excited.  I don’t get a ton of vacation time during the year, and I relish the opportunity to get away from the daily grind.

"I can't imagine a chair without a designer"-Ray Comfort. "I can't imagine that chair without my ass in it"- George W.

So just a friendly reminder that I am not purposely ignoring you  or your comments, I’m just (thankfully) miles away from internet access.

To make Jason smile, here is a mini RCIMT for you.

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Daily Horoscope: You’re In A Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Irony in the Title, Personal, Religion, Science |

This will likely be my final post in the impromptu series Daily Horoscope based on our conversations with Jamie Funk and his astrology minions.  It might be resurrected for future discussions about astrology, but after calling the subject a wash over at Funk Astrology, I feel it is time to move on.

I must admit that I am a little underwhelmed by the whole thing.

The closest I came to gleaning anything new was in the  Dealing with Skeptics and Associated Trolls page at Funk Astrology.  There I got some insight into the lack of admitted predictive power in Astrology from Parin, where she corrected my misguided assumption that astrology believes the movement of celestial bodies directly correlates to seemingly unrelated events here on earth.

See, I Had No Idea

I honestly thought this was a good, albeit simplified definition of astrology:

Astrology:  The belief that the movement of celestial bodies has a quantifiable effect on people and/or seemingly unrelated events in people’s lives.

I am forced to walk away with a definition more like:

Astrology:  The belief that you can take any person or event and decipher possibly corollary traits or information in the movement of celestial bodies.  Any information deciphered may or may not be meaningful, impactful, or predictive.

That really leaves me believing that Astrology is no more useful or predictive than a “cold reading” by an astute observer.  Kind of like watching the Mentalist on T.V. where he uses astute observation to figure people out.  That, to me, seems a glorified parlour game, a fun round of friends “predicting” things about each other based on known or observable behavior.   Except these people stick a “Supernatural” label on it and charge money for their insight.

By these peoples own definitions, astrology is just guesswork and subjective extrapolation from known quantities.  It is not special.  It is not magic.  It is fun and games, and expensive at that.

A Glimmer of Hope Becomes A Ridiculous Joke

I also had a moment over at Jamie’s blog where I thought we were on to something.  A poster named James mentioned Polaris, a computer program that he described as being indisputably predictive in calculating birth times.   I should have caught on when the process was referred to as “rectification”, but the temptation of a program that was testable and falsifiable blinded me to its obvious flaw.

The process is called “rectification”, I know now, because it uses your built in confirmation bias to re-jig your birthtime based on past events in your life.  The idea is this:

Subject A either has no registered or confirmable birth time or feels that his/her birth time was miscalculated by timepieces at the time of their birth.

With the foreknowledge that astrology is more accurate at calculating birth times then, say, a clock or watch which was invented solely for the purpose of time keeping; Subject A gives a list of significant events from their lives and a list of probable birth times and Polaris extracts the most likely one based on a points system.

How eminently scientific!  I can still see how this program could be used to disprove itself though.

Let’s say someone bought the program, gathered birth time information on several individuals using clocks that are accurate to the millisecond, witnessing and documenting firsthand the indisputable birth times.  Wait say, 20 years and input events from those individuals lives and a wide range of birth times and voila, the indisputable birth time must surely emerge!

Not Fair?

I’d like to know why, without any confirmation bias “that was the time they were supposed to be born” bullshit that I can hear already spewing from the credulous assholes mouth.

I’ve already proposed how to use this program in a less scientific way to at least lend weight to it’s credibility.  I’m still open to takers.

Hi-jacking Science For Stupid’s Sake

The final comment in Jamie’s post at the time of this post was also cross posted at Lousy Canuck by “Chris”.  It is a tempting idea for astrologers, and one that is inevitability quite wrong.

I approach Astrology as an art in that I use it to “paint” a picture of a person, place or time. Some say that Astrology mirrors rather than predicts. Astrological forecasting is somewhat like meteorological forecasting- they look at jet streams and air currents and put it all together to give you their interpretation of the most likely outcome. Sometimes they’re wrong. They are as much of an artist as we are. As astrologers, we look at planets, stars, moons, (and a lot of astrologers use the transneptunian objects as well) etc. and notice unfolding patterns, and then give our interpretation. I think that eventually, with the study of fractals and chaos theory, scientists will be able to conclude that Astrology can be explained through the paradigms of those scientific standards. We don’t move around in space, we’re part of it. Everything has its own energy, and makes more of a difference than you think it does.

How do I know this is wrong?

Apart from the first paragraph which basically underlines my first point about astrology being nothing more than “guessology”, Chris goes on to co-opt some of the most counterintuitive and confounding subjects in physics and mathematics to lend magic where none exists.  To a layperson, conjuring chaos theory and fractals is just like conjuring magic, a surefire way to obfuscate a bunch of superstitious hooey under the cover of science.

If you believe that science will save Astrology,I can tell you it won’t happen.

  • Did science confirm the theory of a creator?  Well, no.
  • Did science confirm a flat earth?
  • A firmament?
  • How about a global flood?

You see, every time an ancient civilization desperately searches for a causal explanation for something they have no answer for…….. a myth is born.

To believe that this one time, ancient civilizations were on to something when every other causal agent they conjured of curiosity and imagination has been so squarely proven false; that is confirmation bias…that is credulity.

I still leave the offer open to anyone who wants to have a reasoned discussion, I just hold little hope of reason.

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