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Monday, December 27, 2010


Scientism is a phantom in the mind of the religious apologist.
Anytime anyone gushes over science’s power to tell us about how the world is, especially compared to religion’s woeful inability to do the same, they are accused of scientism.

The Religious tell us that science is not the only way to view the world or know things. This is at least philosophically plausible, but there is never any follow through. Never are we told in what other way we might view the world, other than through the eyes of faith, and never are we presented with a convincing case for why doing so might be better.

Take rationalism for example. It is a non-scientific way of viewing the world which not only tells us little of any worth about our universe, but resulted in the current popular view that philosophy is simply pointless and abstract. Empiricism and science tell us much more about the world than rationalism ever could.

While empiricism has limitations, we need look no further than philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey for examples of thinkers who not only attack rationalism and classical empiricism, but put forward a positive alternative in the philosophy of pragmatism. Each of these thinkers believes that science is the best way to discover the world, while realizing the provisional nature of truth.

VenomfangX only offers flawed analogies and faith to base our world view on.
Science, and philosophies like pragmatism give us the best conclusions humans have to work with, yet recognize the open-ended nature of the search for knowledge.
Take Shawn’s flower example in his video on scientism.Shawn tells us that science is unable to tell us the quality of something, and that we need a statement of intention or comparison in order to recognize what it is.
I will take the second point first.

He shows us an image of a flower, but what makes an image of a flower could, theoretically be specified in a scientific way as to make it possible to recognize an image of one. See also: facial recognition software.

Such software works because the qualities of a face can be quantified in such a way as to make said qualities recognizable to an algorithm set to seek for them. A human has no magical ability to recognize a quality of something a computer does not. Point refuted.

To the first point, Shawn opens himself to more philosophical dilemmas than he bargained for when he makes this point. David Hume, in his book Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion (A book Shawn would do well to read), points out that the inference of design can work in ways unintended by the likes of Shawn. Also, Hume’s character points out that the argument is put forward in a way that even if we could conclude that god does exist, we would not be able to use inference from design to establish anything else about him.

Hume’s Dialogs were on natural religion. In other words, what might we say about god without the aid of something like a holy text. But what if we add the bible to the equation?

When I look at a painting, I may not be able to say for sure who painted it. However I can say a lot about who painted it, and I could tell the different between a work by Abbey Heller Burnham and VenomFangX.

How they painted, their medium, the brush strokes they uses and what that implies about their skill level, etc. all of this gives us scientific grounds on which to draw an inference.

Shawn tells us of the biblical purpose of marriage is as being between one man and one women.How then might we infer such a purpose? Such a things as human relationships are open to infinite interpretation.Science can rule a great number of interpretations of what the universe is like unlikely or invalid through discovering the way the universe actually is through testing to see how it works.

For example, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the universe is billions of years old and that life has evolved. Any interpretation which contradicts these facts is almost certainly not true. See also: creationism.

The bible must give us some grounds on which to infer that it is true. We cannot point to things we might want to believe are true about the world and then say that the bible affirms them as true. This is simply an appeal to consequences.

If we do not believe in the bible, then we have no reason to believe in the value of human life, and if we don’t do that, then the sky will fall and reality itself will become unglued. If that is the argument, the idea of a noble lie becomes justified. Something which even though it is not true, we must believe it anyway for our own good, could be argued for one the exact same grounds.

To say that human life possesses value which cannot be derived from some specifiable trait that human possess and other beings do not is to assert that humans possess some intangible quality which gives them a value. Such an assertion must be justified on way or the other, and not merely presented as an article of faith. Rationalism has tried to do just that, and its failure to achieve that goal is lost on Shawn.

To return to Hume, if Shawn told us he meant to draw superman, but instead we see Spiderman, this would be proof that either Shawn is deceiving us, or given that we see Spiderman, Shawn is not the person that drew what we are looking at.
I once lost my phone and had to go to the campus police to claim it. They asked me to describe my phone. Had I done so incorrectly, they likely would have assumed that I was not the actual owner of my phone and not returned it to me. Having my phone returned to me was contingent on correctly describing it.

What might that mean then for the god of the bible? Well it is indisputable that the bible contains know scientific inaccuracies. Those who try to say otherwise usually make excuses to the tune of “well that is superman! I was drawing him from a rare comic in which he dressed up as Spiderman and gained his abilities”. Or “god had to put things in ways which people in that time in place would understand”. This of course implies a problem of hermeneutics, in which in order to understand the bible, we must actually seek to understand the way in which people reading it at the time of its writing would have understood it. At which point, the fact that modern scholarship has torn the bible to shreds makes holding to it even more dubious.
The point here is that the bible fails the test of establishing proof of ownership of the universe by quite a spectacular degree. Why should I give god back his cell phone if he can’t even tell me what it looks like beyond just guessing?
It is more than valid, by any reasonable rules of inference, to conclude that the god of the bible did not create the world.

The chance of a lifetime which you are robbed of by believing it is the ability to take part in the discovery of the way the universe actually is. If we are to truly understand our place in the universe, then we must know what that universe is like, and that is what science does for us. Philosophy, not religion, is the process of putting the pieces together to form that understanding.
The philosophy of science is far more complicated than most people realize, but this in no way validates any of what Shawn is proposing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The doctor rode a flying shark through the sky like santa. What have you done with your life recently?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Protest going well. Lots of honks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

School is winding to a close

I still have an 8 page paper to write, another paper to revise for the millionth time, and another 5 page paper. After that, another paper for a final and 2.5 in class finals. Once school is over, I am trying to learn Dreamweaver so I can make web pages and create custom content for sites I am already on, like Tumblr, Blogger, etc. I also have 3 videos of live shows I need to edit multiple camera footage from, make a DVD for one of them and also a DVD for a show I taped years ago and recently discovered the disc never made it to the band members (that’s what the into was I posted on YT and Vimeo). I also want to complete my master work of this year, which is a compilation of footage from the local Zombie Walk back in October. Aside from video, I have numerous writing projects to work on.

I also plan on traveling to my sisters for Christmas and visiting friends in the NYC/NJ area. Then in January I am going out to California to visit my brother. I will likely be visiting the San Francisco area, but as I will be with family, I am not sure if I will be able to hang with any interwebz peoplez. Sad, because who knows when I will hit the west coast again.

This of course is not an exhaustive list of projects I have lined up. Every now and then I catch myself asking why I burden myself with so many needless tasks. I don’t think I am a workaholic, because my efforts are often uneven. But I feel sort of useless if I don’t at least intend to burn the candle at both ends. I want to reach a point in technical skill where actualizing my artistic vision is relatively effortless and I possess the knowledge and skill set to do so.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So much to do, so little time

Trying very hard to buckle down and “take care of business” as the Hell’s Angels say. School work, personal projects and all that sorta thing. I still want to actually write a book, rather than just keep say I plan on it, so I am trying to write every day, even if only a little. Past few days I have been pretty much bereft of mental energy, but I am trying to push through anyway.
Four papers for school due next week. I have never enjoyed the process of writing for school in all my time and papers there. I can rattle of quite a lot, quite easily when I don’t have to keep looking at sources and thinking about how to structure it for grading. I have been generating a lot of ideas to write on I am sure will make their way out there in some more or less complete form eventually.
Also coming up with ideas for a web series with my roommates; something along the lines of “it’s always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Also want to plan some more ambitious and serious short films and other video projects, as well as more photography, read more, learn more programs, listen to more educational stuff like audio books and taped lecture series, the list goes on.
In short I am just trying to get my priorities in order. Even this is an exercise in doing that. Now time to get back to work on other things I suppose.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What I am Tired Of About Facebook

It seems that a lot of new Facebook groups are asking you to join the group before you get to see the content of whatever the group page is. This is because they are looking for ways to access your account information so they can sell the info to data mining companies.

On second thought, I don’t need to know what sort of Jedi I am.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What’s wrong with MySpace?

No really, what’s the problem? It seems that the site is all but dead. Most of my friends seem to use Facebook almost exclusively. Their MySpace pages left as abandoned relics of a by-gone era, but I am not totally sure why. Did you all just get sick of people making obnoxious profiles that assaulted your ear drums with the atonal products of someone’s abysmal musical taste? Or is it just that Facebook is more “professional”? At any rate, I think there are at least a couple of things that MySpace was good for, like music, which are missing from Facebook, but oh well, time rolls on. Maybe the death of MySpace is a byproduct of the decline in the “coolness” of social networking sites in general. Once your parents added you and can see all the pictures of your drunken debauchery and can see that you hooked up with Sally so-and-so and that now she is going to “the clinic” the social networking party was over. Now there is nothing left but having to hit the ignore button on all those damn Farmville requests your friends keep sending you. I am sorry; I have real computer games to play.
PS. Employer, potential employers and college admissions boards are watching your FB page too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Humpty Dumpty Scares Children

A comment I got on my newest YT video reminded me of a comment I got on flickr awhile back about the Humpty Dumpty statue outside the children's entrance to the public library.

My Flickr

Monday, March 22, 2010

Winter Does Not Last Six Months

It is March 10th and it is 58 degrees here in Illinois, and it is going to be in the mid 40s for the foreseeable future (not that the foreseeable future is very long when it comes to weather). My question for all you people that insist winter lasts six months in the north is this: what’s happening? It’s a rhetorical question, because the answer is clear, winter does not last six months, and with the possible exception of a late season snow storm, the worst is already over. Granted, it is already in the mid 70’s in Florida, but that’s beside the point. No one ever said the north was as warm as the south, but this past winter, thanks to the magic of Facebook status updates, I have been exposed to plenty of people complaining about winter and the more I started thinking about it, the less objective I think people are being about the whole subject.
What it really boils down to is that fact that there is only a couple if things that I truly hate about winter and those are: days it is so bitter cold that it hurts to be outside (usually 20 degrees or less) and snow storms. Really, anything above 35 degrees is bearable, and if you don’t think so, then I am sorry, but you are just being a pansy. Also, snow storms are infrequent, maybe happening 20 times a winter, and after the road crews do their job, you don’t even really think about it anymore. They are a minor and very temporary inconvenience. So then, how much time do we northerners typically have to endure such condition? Well, this usually varies from winter to winter. Three years ago, it was in the 40s for most of January. The past couple of winters though were far worst. None the less, on average it is not until mid-December that temperatures really start to fall into the unpleasant zone. Certainly no one is out sun bathing it November, but it is really nothing when compared to the brutal colds of January. The truly cold temperatures usually last from mid-December until mid to late February. That’s 2 months. November and March are bearable, and by April, things are usually on the upswing, save for the occasional freak snow storm (I actually remember it snowing in may at Lake Clear once).
My point is that WINTER DOES NOT LAST SIX MONTHS! So stop being such cry babies about it! If you truly have such delicate sensibilities that you think anything below 70 degrees is winter and have not concept of spring or fall, then by all means, move south, but for the rest of us, let’s try to be objective and take winter in stride. I think this is yet another case of confirmation bias, and remembering the hits and ignoring the misses. It is easy to bemoan the horrors of winter when it is -15 degrees out, but those days are the exception, not the rule. On paper, they are certainly a smaller part of your life than you think they are.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I just ordered a Holga camera and 3 rolls of B&W 120 film. I am very much looking forward to seeing what this thing can do. The Holga is a medium format “toy” camera with a plastic lens. It is very limited mechanically speaking. In most ways it is only a bit more sophisticated than a disposable camera, but it has quite a cult following, because it can produce some rather interesting results. I was able to get it for only $20, which is the cheapest I have seen it. Now I need to figure out a way to get my scanner, which has the ability to scan 35mm and slide negatives to scan the medium format negatives. I would also like to pick up a TLR medium format camera for some more serious medium format work at some point in the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get Ready

Still have yet to write a part two of my travel blog, but right now I am hard at work of my massive counter-strike against Rational Dawn. Stay tuned

Friday, January 22, 2010

Road Trip (Part 1)

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I left for Ashley’s (HealthyAddict’s) house 2 hours later then I had planned. The road were mostly clear of traffic, other than the inconvenience of having to pay the tolls (boy I wish I had the I-Pass for that trip) until I got onto 294. Traffic was fairly heavy from the time I got onto 294 pretty much until I was in Indiana and got on 65. Once on 65 there was little traffic I drove through the desolate, baron wasteland that is Indiana. The trip to Columbus took about 7 hours and was largely uneventful and rather dull, although I did see an anti-evolution and pro-life sign outside Indianapolis. Around 9, which is when I had originally planned to be in Columbus, I got a call from Ashley saying that she too was delayed due to a meeting at work. I joked that the bible tells us that all things work together for good for those who love god. a bit behind schedule, I arrived at Ashley’s house and after dropping my stuff off in the living room we decided to go out to have a drink and chat as to avoid waking up her boyfriend who had to work early the next morning. We went to a place called the surly girl in an area called the short north (you may have seen this in her ‘discover Columbus’ promotion video). We chit-chatted for about an hour or so, and I found it rather odd and amusing that they had a rather homo-erotic AIDS public service ad in the men’s room that showed the torso of a shirtless man and the slogan “stay negative”, placed right about the urinal and in the stall. After returning from the bar we chatted as quietly as we could for a bit longer before going to sleep. The next day we deliberated on what to do for awhile. Some consideration was given to the idea of visiting some sort of art display of a concert cornfield, but our enthusiasm waned once we found out that it was not stalks of corn, but giant cement ears of corn. Instead we opted (for whatever reason, given that it was only about 30 degrees) to go have ice cream at a specialty ice cream shop, which was also located in the Short North area. I have to say that I am quite the fan of ice cream and the flavors we tried were certainly different. We shared a cup that came with three scoops, one of which had balsam needle in it, another was made with goat cheese and the third was chocolate, cinnamon and Cayenne pepper (the last of which I didn’t care much for). After having ice cream we went back to Ashley’s place for a bit, where we recorded the videos most of you have probably already seen.

After that was finish we snapped a couple of pictures, and Ashley then had to dash off to work and I headed to a place called Midwest photo exchange which was in Columbus because I was looking for a sync cord for my flash, as my wireless system did not come in before I left on the trip and I planned on using it more then I actually did. I should also say here that while I was showing Ashley my camera gear I was being immature and flashed my camera directly I her eyes at half power, which is temporary blindness mode (full power being permanent blindness mode) and so I apologize again for that. After wasting time at Midwest photo, I wasted nearly another half hour in my car trying to get the flash cable crap to work because I did not want to swallow my pride and admit I did not know what the fuck I was doing. I finally did simply go back into the store and it turns out that one of the transmitters was faulty and so they gave me a new one. This then put me a bit behind schedule again going to James’ (DasAmericanAtheist’s) house.
It was about a 3 hour drive to James’ house, but I got lost going through Pittsburgh so it took longer. Driving though that part of Pennsylvania and a little bit of West Virginia was extremely hill. I am used to driving on highways that maintain more or less a smooth and level grade, even when going through mountains, 87 going through the Adirondacks comes to mind. After some difficulty, I did finally arrive at James’ house, only to once again drop off my things, and be given a brief tour before heading out to the bar. This place, which I believe was called the Haufbr äuhous (the äu is pronounces Oi in German), and as you might imagine from the name it was a German style beer hall that had its own brewery. It was on the river across from downtown Pittsburgh, quite a nice place. There we met up with Nick (Ahughman08) and a couple of James’ college friend, who names I do not recall, but one looked like Egon from Ghostbusters and the other looked like Lex Luther from Smallville. The 5 of us had a debate about religion which was quite fun despite Lex Luther’s initial objections. James’ also bragged several times about finding and watching “two girls, one cup” in its entirety, as if that were something to brag about.

On the drive back from the bar, James and I discussed the now ongoing video series by Veritas et al on negative atheism and, once back at his apartment, James read me an argument he was working on which was an atheist version of a cosmological argument. His girlfriend, who had also go to sleep for need of being up early for work, had left me a note which she signed as miss DasAmericanAtheist. I thought that was pretty clever. But alas, not longer after our return from the bar I was pretty well exhausted and so I called it a day and went to sleep.

Too lazy to write more right now. stay tuned for part two coming soon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

40 is the new 70 (degrees)

Some how, 40 degrees does not feel nearly as cold when you are in Florida. Yesterday morning when I left Illinois, it could not have been more than 15 degrees out. It was the sort of cold so bitter that it stung my hands. Then I rolled down my window to pay the toll, the window got stuck and would only roll up a few centimeters at a time and so for a few agonizing moments I had to endure driving 70 mph down the highway with the window open. Not a pleasant experience. Safely in Florida now, I took a walk around the block with only my hoodie on, which is something I could not even dream of doing for the past couple moths now. It is certainly warmer here then in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania or anywhere else I have been for that matter. It has been a long couple of weeks, and it is winding down now. Only a week till school starts back again. I am going to spend this afternoon getting caught up on YT videos to try to get back in the swing of things.