Author Archive

Pakistan makes our point for us

Thu May 20, 2010 5:52 pm by rabbitpirate

So in case you don’t know today is Everyone Draw Mohammed Day, a day one which everyone is encouraged to draw a picture of the Muslim prophet Mohammed as a way of calling the bluff of the extremists that threaten violence against those that do just that. Now I have to admit that I am still in two minds about this. On the one hand I do think it is important to stand up to these people and show that threatening violence against people for drawing a picture will not be accepted and will not stop us from doing so. Freedom of expression baby. On the other hand I find the whole thing slightly off putting for reasons I can’t really put into words. I’m generally not a confrontational person and this all seems a bit too much like getting up in someone’s face for my liking.



Ok, where do I sign up?

Tue May 18, 2010 6:15 pm by rabbitpirate

Ok so I’m stealing this directly from Phil Plait’s latest post so no points for originality here. But I just love this idea.


art from "S.H.O.O.T First" by Ben Bates


S.H.O.O.T. are basically militant atheists, tasked with hunting down supernatural creatures, especially those of religious significance, that they don’t even believe in….every time you read a comic about someone fighting the supernatural, they’re really doing it on the supernatural’s own terms. If you’re fighting a vampire, you bring stakes and holy water – that kind of thing. I don’t think there’s ever been a team like “S.H.O.O.T.” that basically thinks it’s all bunk, and just goes after any threat with science and bullets, and scientific bullets.


Scientific Bullets?!? AWESOME.


That said this does raise some interesting questions in my mind. Right there in the description of what this new comic is all about is the implication that atheists wouldn’t believe in something supernatural even as they were fillings its non-corporeal arse with scientific lead. This is an argument that often comes up when dealing with proponents of the supernatural, that atheists and skeptics are simply closed minded to the existence of supernatural powers and would thus dismiss any evidence that supported it…apparently even as they engage in a face to face, life to death fight with it!


To me this is a truly ridiculous idea. I for one know exactly what it would take to get me to believe in any supernatural claim. Evidence, good, honest to Darwin, stone cold solid evidence.* Show me high quality, scientific evidence that vampires exist and, no matter how incredulous that idea may be right now, I would accept it. The same goes any other supernatural claim, including those made by the various world religions.


I am not closed to the idea of the supernatural and certainly not to the point that I would reject it even as I bust a cap in its face. But you need to give me something here people if you wish me to take your claims seriously. I would love the supernatural to be real, I really would, but I am not just going to take someone’s word for it. You want me to believe you? Then show me the evidence.


* Though I guess technically if you presented evidence for the supernatural then it would no longer be supernatural but rather simply yet more natural. Hmmmm.

What would you say?

Fri May 14, 2010 1:59 pm by rabbitpirate

Following on from AndromedasWake’s excellent post the other day and my own recent research/thinking on the issue of teaching skepticism I have found myself thinking a lot about science knowledge and the general public. As I am sure you are all way too painfully aware when it comes to good scientific understanding the general public have something of an antagonistic relationship with reality.


For every person who applies good skeptical thinking and basic scientific understanding in their everyday lives there are at least three people who religiously check their horoscopes on the way to visit their local homeopath. In the recent election for example I discovered that my local MP supported making homeopathy available on the NHS and one of the smaller parties had climate change denialism as part of its manifesto. Something is seriously wrong with that.


So what can we, as hardened and, if I may say so, devilishly attractive skeptics, do about it? How can we help to make the general public more skeptical and more science literate? Well I am sorry to say that I don’t have an answer. I’ve been trying to do my small part by working on a “beginners guide” style book about skepticism but it is not as though that has never been done before. As such my thoughts have recently turned to smaller things, which brings me to the point of this post. I have a question for you.


If you could give one bit of advice, drop one bit of knowledge or just make one suggestion to the general public or someone new to skepticism then what would it be?*


Maybe we can’t influence the world as a whole, but perhaps we can start sowing little seeds of logical and rational thinking. I like to think of this as bulletpoint skepticism. Little catchy easy to remember pieces of information that can change the way people thing. For example simply knowing about something like pareidolia makes it less likely that you will be convinced that you’re really are seeing the virgin Mary in your breakfast cereal.


Anyway it is just an idea that I had, not sure if it is a good one or not or even if I have explained it at all well, but I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with. Plus I haven’t posted anything in ages and felt that I really should put something up. All these newbies are starting to make me look bad. 😉


* Be warned, if you come up with something great I am so stealing it for my book.

How do I make my vote count?

Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:29 pm by rabbitpirate

So as you are no doubt all aware there is a general election coming up here in the UK. On May 6th the country will be called upon to cast their votes as to which bunch of crooks political party they want to govern us for the next five years. Now I plan to vote, I really do, only I am really struggling with regards to whom to vote for and even whether there is any point in voting in the first place. As such I thought I would ask you guys for your thoughts on the matter.



Boobs cause earthquakes!!!

Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:11 pm by rabbitpirate

Well at least they do according to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric. Apparently “Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes“. Now I am sure you ladies already knew that you had the power to cause car accidents with your alluring curves, but I bet you didn’t know you could cause earthquakes too.


“What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”


Well that certainly sounds, er well, “logical” to me. But the best thing about this insane story is that it makes a claim that is scientifically testable, and oh so wonderfully so. Jen, over at the awesome Blag Hag Blog, proposes that we do just that.


On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it’ll be one involving plate tectonics.


Now that is what I call science. So come on ladies, this is your chance to get involved in a grass roots scientific experiment. Sure there is a slim chance that you may accidently destroy a city or two, but I for one am willing to take the risk. As Jen said, come Monday it will be time for a Boobquake.

What’s the big deal?

Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:33 pm by rabbitpirate

Ok so I know that I am meant to be doing a post on the whole Simon Singh/BCA thing but that was so last week so instead I’m going to talk about something else entirely. If that’s ok with Th1sWasATriumph that is. Also let me apologise in advance if this post descends into a rant as even as I write this I am not completely sure where I am going with it. Let’s just start at the beginning shall we.


Back when I was a Christian I was a big fan of Christian music. Yes I know, but don’t worry I grew out of it. Anyway at the time one of my favourite artists was a lady by the name of Jennifer Knapp. Her music was a little bit country, a little bit bluesy and unlike many Christian artists she actually did songs about real life as well as just songs about how awesome God is. But then, after a couple of incredibly popular albums, she disappeared completely from the scene with no information on when she might return.


So by now you are no doubt wondering why I am mentioning this at all. Well part of the reason, though certainly not the main one, that she decided to take a break was that she finally accepted the fact that she was gay. Now, after a seven year break she’s back, with a new album entitled Letting Go, as an openly gay Christian woman. So what, you are probably asking, who cares if she is gay? Well I sure don’t, as far as I am concerned who you love is no-ones business but yours, but seeing she is a some what famous “Christian” artist you can sure as hell bet someone cares, someone cares a whole lot.



This time victory really is ours

Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:13 pm by rabbitpirate

A really quick post as I don’t have any more details than this right now but it seems the BCA have dropped their case against Simon Singh. No doubt this will be on every skeptic and atheist blog for the rest of the week so we will all be inundated with details in no time. For right now I am sure you will all join me in offering our congratulations to Simon and our thanks for having the courage to stand up for rational thinking and good science like he did. We love ya man.

The Great Memory Experiment

Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:34 pm by rabbitpirate

Something completely different today. I need your help with an experiment.


The other day someone I work with mentioned that they believe that there is a real difference between the memories of men and women. Now this didn’t sit right with me and so rather than try to argue with him based upon nothing but my personal opinion I thought I would do an experiment to see if I could get a more definitive answer.


And this is where you lot come in. In order to test this I have made a youtube video and all you need to do is watch it and then answer six simple questions about what you saw. That’s it. Now hopefully if I can get enough people answering the questions then when I correlate all the answers they will actually mean something. That said this is the first time I have ever done anything like this so it could all go terribly wrong. Ah well that’s science for you. Anyway I predict that, once everything is added up, there will be no real difference between the memories of men and women, though we may see a difference when it comes to the ages of those involved.


So help me out. Go watch the video and tell other people to watch it and answer the questions as well. I am aiming for at least a hundred answers but the more the merrier.


Click here to join the experiment.

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