Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur

 




A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.

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Talking about evolution

Posted 10-Apr-2015 at 01:09 AM (01:09) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Evolution happens, but it's not a simple thing at all, and it's often burdened with projection and myths by people with agendas. Evolution only really gets interesting once we talk about complex things; and those things are the hardest to explain, of course. One of the most comon agendas driving myths about evolution is based on the myth that simple answers can be given off-the-cuff to complex questions, which is of course wrong. One book that really helped me begin understanding evolution is a...
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Rating: 10 votes, 5.00 average.

Atheism news: Hobbesian civil war among atheists

Posted 02-Jul-2012 at 10:45 PM (22:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Jul-2012 at 11:35 PM (23:35) by Gurdur

Sunday, 01 July 2012, was a very dramatic day for atheists. This all will demand much explanation, so first to the events. A lot of explaining the background, people and motives will have to wait for my next blog posts. Onto the most important events:

Paula Kirby, a writer and project manager who lives in Scotland, and who is a noted and famous figure in the atheist movement, and who has worked for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS), has now on Monday made...
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Who owns atheism? Trouble and exclusivism within the atheist movement today

Posted 28-Apr-2012 at 09:46 AM (09:46) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-May-2012 at 05:32 AM (05:32) by Gurdur

Atheism, despite gaining much ground in public acceptance in the USA in recent years, is having difficulties. It may be getting into trouble in other parts of the world; as possibly in Russia, for example. As for the USA, the impact zone is secularism rather than atheism itself. Jacques Berlinerblau has a new article up on the British New Humanist titled, "The death of American secularism", in which he worries about conservative backlash in the USA. The atheist movement may cease to be effectually...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

The press campaign against Richard Dawkins and atheists is only a cover

Posted 20-Feb-2012 at 04:47 PM (16:47) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Feb-2012 at 05:47 PM (17:47) by Gurdur

You could be forgiven for thinking Richard Dawkins is the AntiChrist, or worse the British Prime Minister, judging by the current fever in some parts of the British press to try damning Dawkins by any means possible, and by extension atheists and secularists too. The fever creates its own momentum, and converts it into a fashion. But what is the original fever all about? The fevermongers claim it's a reaction to Dawkins' outspoken campaign for secularism, but digging below the surface reveals something...
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An update on the Dawkins/Fraser clash: how not to do PR

Posted 14-Feb-2012 at 05:42 PM (17:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Feb-2012 at 05:55 PM (17:55) by Gurdur

The book of how not to do PR is long and funny. I discussed the mini-debate between Dawkins and Fraser in my last blog post; the latest examples of how not to do PR come from Dawkins and Jim West, in reactions well after the interview this morning. Richard Dawkins has complained to Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent for the British newspaper The Times, that he "was ambushed". From the Times:

Quote:
“I got it right in the end but I was just flustered,” he told The Times. “It was a very
...
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The debate between Richard Dawkins and Giles Fraser today on BBC Radio 4; with peculiar afterword from 'Dr.' Jim West

Posted 14-Feb-2012 at 03:00 PM (15:00) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Feb-2012 at 04:06 PM (16:06) by Gurdur

So as everyone knows by now, there was a short debate between Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) and Giles Fraser (@giles_fraser) today on BBC Radio 4. You can hear it in full here, and I will embed the almost-seven-minutes'-long clip at the bottom of this post. The debate is about a poll conducted, on behalf of the Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason And Science (RDFRS), by Ipsos MORI, one of the largest marketing-research companies. You can read part 1 of the poll results here, and part 2 here....
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Julian Baggini derails himself about seeking new path for atheism

Posted 14-Oct-2011 at 03:26 PM (15:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Oct-2011 at 04:24 PM (16:24) by Gurdur

Unexpected disappointment of the month; as you may recall, Julian Baggini (@microphilosophy) very recently in Guardian Cif started out trying to detail a new path for atheists. Well, he's now into his third published article on that, and in that one he's thoroughly derailed himself. He started out wanting to describe a new way for atheists, us heathens and whatnot, he then had a second article up that went nowhere in particular, and now in his third he's discovered that - gosh - "an evidence-led,...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

On the debate between Richard Dawkins & Bill O'Reilly - knowledge versus faked authenticity. The moral relativism of the right

Posted 07-Oct-2011 at 05:35 PM (17:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 07-Oct-2011 at 06:04 PM (18:04) by Gurdur

There's an interesting debate between Richard Dawkins and Bill O'Reilly, parts of which are shown in the video below, which also features analysis of some of its highlights by Cenk Kadir Uygur (of the Young Turks program). It does bring to light a couple of points I've long thought about. The first point is personal authenticity. Disregard the dishonest tactics of Bill O'Reilly for a moment, and look at what he's appealing to underneath; he appeals to two or three factors.

The first...
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If only Archbishop Rowan Williams understood prayer, let alone atheism

Posted 29-Sep-2011 at 08:08 PM (20:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Sep-2011 at 08:27 PM (20:27) by Gurdur

There's a new article from @JonWynneJones in the Daily Telegraph on Archbishop Rowan Williams. @JonWynneJones had a previous article on Rowan's floating of a moot about retirement; this present article seems mildly sympathetic, and mostly just straight descriptive reporting of some remarks by Rowan. The remarks themselves need some examination.

The article got headlined, "Atheism is cool, says Archbishop Rowan Williams", and in his remarks Rowan is reported as having "argued it has...
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Richard Dawkins providing childcare: A look at the upcoming 4th Annual Texas Freethought Convention on October 7-9th in Houston

Posted 15-Aug-2011 at 06:20 AM (06:20) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 15-Aug-2011 at 06:39 AM (06:39) by Gurdur

Apropos of my critique on the planned CFI "Women In Secularism" conference in May next year, and apropos of my reporting on #ElevatorGate, I've been made aware of the upcoming 4th Annual Texas Freethought Convention, co-hosted by Atheist Alliance of America, to be held in Houston, October 07-09. One feature of this convention is that it will have the first actual implementation of child-care largely paid for by the RDFRS (the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), an initiative for...
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Another update on the Richard Dawkins RDFRS suit against Josh Timonen etc.

Posted 15-Aug-2011 at 05:29 AM (05:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 15-Aug-2011 at 05:47 AM (05:47) by Gurdur

You may remember I blogged on the legal suit of Richard Dawkins together with the RDFRS against Josh Timonen, Maureen Norton, and the company Upper Branch Productions, and did an update on that fairly recently.

Well, the lawyer representing Richard Dawkins and the RDFRS (as plaintiffs) against Timonen et al has now applied for the entire suit to be dropped without prejudice (meaning, I guess, they don't want to pay for Timonen's legal fees etc., or they want to keep open an option...
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Do we really need PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins working together? A reply to Lee Myers and to all

Posted 02-Aug-2011 at 06:08 PM (18:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Aug-2011 at 07:44 PM (19:44) by Gurdur

I'm jumping the gun a bit here, since I am still working on a very long ElevatorGate post that should have been up on Sunday, and wasn't; yesterday turned into a very stressful day. I always prefer to start from the facts of a situation before tackling prescriptives, but I'm going to do this now, and I will have my other new ElevatorGate post(s) up very soon.

Lee Myers commented on a previous blog post of mine: "... I live in Texas, a state where people want to teach my daughter...
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ElevatorGate, Jennifer Ouellette, PZ Myers, Jennifer Keane (@ZenBuffy)

Posted 31-Jul-2011 at 04:48 AM (04:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Nov-2012 at 06:09 AM (06:09) by Gurdur

Jennifer Keane, a full time web development professional and martial-arts expert, of the blog "And another thing…", did an interesting blog post, "Much ado about… wait, what?", on the mess that is #ElevatorGate: Keane's points included:
  1. That in the #ElevatorGate strife, there is a false dichotomy being pushed by some that divides the atheist & skeptic world into “feminist, and therefore supportive and helpful ...", and on the other side, "anti-skepchick and therefore pro-rape, sleazy,
...
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Am I being unfair to Rebecca Watson? A reply to Tracy King (@tkingdoll)

Posted 28-Jul-2011 at 08:19 PM (20:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Jul-2011 at 08:32 PM (20:32) by Gurdur

In relation to my blog post here with its timeline given at the bottom of the post of the most relevant incidents in #ElevatorGate, I got asked a few days back by @tkingdoll: "@Gurdur How come in the timeline, when it's Watson, she's "trashing" others, but their responses are "criticizing" her?".

Who is Tracy King? Her short Twitter bio says she was the organizer of TAM London 2009/10, of which there was some controversy about TAM London 2009/2010 having been made into an exercise...
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Anti-skepticism

Posted 22-Jul-2011 at 02:43 AM (02:43) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 22-Jul-2011 at 03:28 AM (03:28) by Gurdur

Having a bit of ah, ah, ah, ah, an argybargy with @Doubting_Tom on Twitter tonight. Doubting_Tom doesn't seem to see some people (like me) don't fall into either Team Watson or Team Dawkins in #ElevatorGate, and is mystified by my criticisms of certain antics as being typical of the quintessential inconsequential middle-class mindset.

Never mind the bollocks; here's to the Flame Pistols! @Doubting_Tom has informed me that (quoted in full; it's in relation to Rebecca Watson, #ElevatorGate...
Posted in Laughter
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Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Rebecca Watson etc. protest against Richard Dawkins simply fizzles out?

Posted 21-Jul-2011 at 06:18 PM (18:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jul-2011 at 07:24 PM (19:24) by Gurdur

Well, now, since the TAM9 convention (the big James Randi Educational Foundation - JREF - convention) has been and gone in the last few days, and many of the main protagonists from the #ElevatorGate affair were there at TAM9, why the lack of events there? It's the lack of any events which needs explanation, the case of the dog who did not bark in the night (Sherlock-Holmes reference). If you need it, here is my previous post explaining it all, and see my timeline of events below. TAM9 happened well...
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The legal suit from Richard Dawkins Foundation against Josh Timonen & Maureen Norton etc. failing?

Posted 20-Jul-2011 at 05:24 PM (17:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jul-2011 at 01:31 AM (01:31) by Gurdur

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS, RDF) and Richard Dawkins himself seem to be failing in their suing of Josh Timonen and Maureen Norton (described as Timonen's girlfriend), as well as against Upper Branch Productions (Josh Timonen's company), whereby it was alleged that $375,000 had been embezzled from the Foundation. I blogged on this matter in full back on 24 October 2010, and since then there have been some updates to the progress of the legal suit. Josh Timonen himself...
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Rating: 44 votes, 4.91 average.

ElevatorGate: Rebecca Watson & Richard Dawkins are not the droids you're looking for

Posted 13-Jul-2011 at 07:04 PM (19:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 19-Jul-2011 at 10:29 AM (10:29) by Gurdur

You may have heard of the huge wildfire in the atheist and skeptic blogospheres over the last week. It's made it to the mainstream media; Gawker picked up on the story, after David Allen Green had blogged about it on The New Statesman, the Atlantic Wire had covered it, and Salon.com too. None of those reports really did much background at all, leaving out a lot.

The issue is now very often being narrated only as though:
  • [Note: this has been edited to correct a conflation
...
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The protest against Richard Dawkins, Thursday night, over the AC Grayling New College of the Humanities #NCH

Posted 10-Jun-2011 at 06:15 PM (18:15) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Jun-2011 at 04:13 PM (16:13) by Gurdur

There was a protest last night (Thursday night) at a talk given by Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, at a British Humanist Association (BHA) event in London, Britain. The protest was owing to Dawkins being closely associated with the Grayling initiative of the New College for the Humanities (NCH). I cannot as yet despite much searching find any estimate of the number of protestors at or outside the event. The total number of the audience has been given as around 1,000, though another source gives the...
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The story explodes on Grayling's New College of the Humanities: the main links

Posted 07-Jun-2011 at 09:34 AM (09:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Jun-2011 at 07:15 PM (19:15) by Gurdur

The story on all the aspects of Grayling's brainchild of the New College of the Humanities (NCH) has really exploded since it was announced on Sunday, criticised on Monday, and torn into early today. Here are the main links on it all so far:

My own first blog post on it all: "First overall report-card on Grayling's New College of the Humanities: Must try harder, could do far better, #Fail". My post is too long, but I was in a rush to make sure to get it done early today. I will be blogging...
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