Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wiki Wacky on Companies

This week's Forge entry comes early, as it was too good to pass up a comment on an article showing that 60% of Wikipedia's articles on companies contain factual errors (link below). Those who touted Wiki's alleged excellence in science seemed to forget that science was only one topic of hundreds of thousands. Even worse, Wiki's response to such problems is abominably slow -- but what can you expect from a bunch of amateur editors  (amateurs, that is, with respect to all but as many as 999,999 of the fields they are editing articles about) working for free, and all of them trying to deal with millions of articles that can be edited every day by anyone?

As I said in my article in CRJ, it's more than needing enough eyeballs -- it's needing enough that move at supersonic speed. Meanwhile Wiki is irresponsibly letting misinformation stay in place for millions of readers a day who see their entries come up first in Google searches.

Maybe we should sentence Jimmy Wales to personally fix each and every mistake on Wiki.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Tekton Tenure: Last Half of 2005

Yes, that was a wild time. Hurricane Katrina (which sent some forgotten rain here) and an broken AC system at my place during the hottest October we've had here in a while. And fixed just in time for the first cold snap. Awesome.

Did I mention Blogger has a new dashboard setup and it stinks?

Wayne Adkins -- This dumbo now has a YouTube channel, and he looks as dumb as he is. However, he doesn't seem to update it more than once or twice a year, and his website address came back with a Not Found curse even though it can also give you a popup for tips on how to have a flat belly. He also apparently resigned from the military over alleged persecution for his atheism. Cry me a river, Wayne.

Kenneth Humphreys -- well, of course, he's still around. His level of ignorance is MUCH harder to get rid of.

Dan Schneider -- this Christ myther is still around, publishing things no one cares about, such as a recent three-part book review of Martial Arts Master: The Life Of Bruce Lee, The Case For Christ, and Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work. Nothing like eclectic ignorance. Here's a quote that signifies Schneider's intellectual level, in his review of Strobel's film:

  I am an agnostic, which means I have an open mind. But that does not mean I do not use it. This film is an abomination and an insult, not only to non-believers, but even more so to religious folks. It reminds me of an idiotic video I saw online where dumb as a post 1980s child actor Kirk Cameron tried to use the shape of a banana as proof that Darwinism was wrong, for only God could design a fruit so perfectly suited for our digits. Needless to say, this film is an atrocity. It is to film what a homosexual orgy in the Vatican is to true believers. Strobel is a con man but the sad reality is one cannot even respect the fact that he’s good at the game.

Yeah, whatever, Dan.

Herman Somers -- This psychologist has gotten more attention for his work on Islam lately, but I can see no signs that he is still active.

Tony Bushby -- Oy. Nutso City. He's published a 750 page monster called The Christ Scandal with more of the same sort of tripe, and a few other titles like The Secret in the Bible: The Lost History of the Giza Plateau and How Temple Priests of the Great Pyramid Preserved the Evidence of Life Beyond Death.

You'd lose your sanity just reading the title of that one.

Joseph Macchio -- head of a site called "The Orthodox Suppression of Original Christianity" which doesn't seem to exist any more, though his book has been preserved by others.

Biblelogic.com -- dead now.

Kyle Williams -- according to a website owned by a Catholic I know, Williams:

....has taken this page off his own website because he is seeking to rise above divisive arguments. He feels (to misquote Shakespeare) that to persevere in obstinate arguments is a course of impious stubbornness. He has reluctantly given me permission to reproduce his work here, but he earnestly desires that the reader acknowledge the good teachings in the Bible, and not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. To the extent that Christians encourage love of virtue and love of other people, they are to be commended and encouraged.

Well, at least one of these guys took a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Twitter Dumbbells

For this week's Forge post I decided to highlight an informational tragedy that speaks for itself -- a group of Twitter users who thought the Titanic wasn't a historical ship, but just a film.

100 years later, the victims spin in their graves. Even today many idiots think 9/11 was an inside job; will there be idiots in 2101 who think it was just a film? (Added note: Is it any wonder people also try historical revisionism like in the second link below -- and get away with it?)

Keep in mind that these were the sort of people Spike Lee was sending George Zimmerman's (non-)address to. Maybe those poor folks Lee victimized can take solace in the fact that some of them may have thought Trayvon Martin's story was just a movie too.



Friday, April 6, 2012

The Secular Web's Great Tinfoil Age

Someone wrote me the other day about The Jury Is in, asking if I could refute it.

Ha ha. Of course I can, I already did. TJII, formerly the showcase project of infidels.org, was my second major online refutation project back in the late 90s (the first being a comparison of Lincoln biographies), and from it grew much of the content of my books. You'll still see remnants of it here and there on the site, too.

I still check infidels.org now and then to see if there's anything worthy of attention. Uploads seem to be a lot less frequent there than I remember, though, and it seems quality control over there has gone clockwise down the loo.

A good example of this is an item by one Daniel June, a professed former Assembly of God believer -- and still one mentally, to judge by his performance -- who offers an extended rant on Revelation and the horror of dispensational end times scenarios.

I can't do much more than laugh at most of June's extended rant, for more than one reason. To start, of course, as a preterist, I don't hold to the position June is ranting about, so my own refutation could stop at, "YAWN -- what else you got?" There's a lot of argument by outrage, which as usual seems to comprise at least 50% of any presentation by your average run of the mill Skeptic who believes that there's no reason to waste time arguing rationally when there's a chance to throw blood and guts in the reader's face. I'm especially amused inasmuch as June also whiffs past me with the whole "eternal torture" in hell tango.

So, of course, June's miserific paean over allegedly wholly innocent people (eg, "elderly men and women, who have worked to put their children through college, and are enjoying their golden years spoiling their grandchildren", blah blah blah -- all we need is for Fred Rogers to waltz in and change his socks) being ransacked by Jesus on his white horse pretty much falls on deaf ears for lack of relevance. One would hope that infidels.org would someday get enough quality control to sift out people like June who still carry this kind of emotional baggage. But as I've said, a fundy atheists hasn't really changed from being fundies; it never occurs to them that their idea that Revelation preserves a doctrine of only "a few thousand Christians" being saved (!), and their absurdly literalistic reading of apocalyptic language (so backwards that it would warrant a collection of high-five noogies from the Essene community) was a joke when they believed it and is even more of a joke now that they're critiquing it. Maybe the reason infidels. org doesn't filter such people out is because it would leave them with only enough writers to count on one hand.

One might also have hoped that June would have checked out some scholarly commentaries on Revelation to set him straight, but his first source is...er...Harold Bloom. On the virtue of his being someone who "has probably read more books than any man living, and published more literary appraisals than any scholar I have heard of..." That probably speaks more to June's lack of exposure to scholarship than to any virtues Bloom may actually have, but the fact is that Bloom remains a patent ignoramus on the interpretation of first century Jewish apocalypse, and his opinion of it -- which assumes as grossly literalistic a reading as June does -- deserves little more than a laugh track.

It doesn't get much better later, as Jung and Nietzsche (!) are called in for comment; obviously neither expense nor time was spared by June in engaging the most reputable Biblical scholarship available. Harrumph. NOT.

From there it doesn't get much better in terms of content either. June engages an extended screed on end times movements and their failures; on supposed parallels between Revelation and Genesis which he apparently swallowed as a Christian (and which owe far more to homiletics than to contextualizing scholarship); and a series of frankly dumb statements like this one:

The gospel of John calls the Jews "sons of Satan," and this John calls the Jews "the synagogue of Satan," though Yahweh had put a curse on anybody who cursed the Jews...

Um....no. The Gospel of John does no such thing, actually. It calls certain Judeans (natives of the nation of Judaea), whom Jesus specifically addresses, sons of Satan; and that's the sort of riposte folks back then used without being the least bit sensitive about it (read: Jesus to Peter, “Get thee behind me, whatsyername!”). So likewise the "synagogue of Satan" reference in Revelation; the modern ignoramus like June gets into hissies over such language, but for the first century reader, this is raindrops fallin’ on their head while they take a few moments to think of a better riposte to throw back. June is walking straight into a contest of the dozens and having a cow over these guys making such offensive comments about each others’ mothers. His gross literalism, a rebound from his ignorant fundamentalist past, erupts like a geyser of pus from the overinflated pimple of his mind; and to grasp the depth of his absurdity, try to imagine him taking what I just said literally, too.

June further laments a "confused young man" he knew who "wouldn't touch anything electronic because 'Computers are the Beast.' " What he fails to grasp is that he has become no more grown up in his exegetical skills than those people have. He amuses himself with all the variations made upon 666, but had he more of a mind than to quote someone as ignorant of such matters as Thomas Jefferson (!) and Thomas Paine (!!) he might have discovered that -- golly! -- Nero does indeed fit that bill quite well, thanks. And it doesn't take the Riddler to figure it out, either.

Seriously, folks. This is meant to be the cream of the crop at infidels.org these days? This is what they allow to write for them? It's almost enough for me to demand that James Still and Jim Perry come back. Or maybe even (gulp) Stevie Carr. Stupid as they were, not even they were bozo enough to rant about Revelation as the product of a "half-wit, no-talent writer". Nor were they of such childish mind as to think that a yards-long blood and guts rant substituted for the legwork of textual analysis. (On the other hand, Stevie did sometimes think quoting someone of the level of Paine was a good idea.)

I guess the Golden Age of the Secular Web has been given over for the Tinfoil Age. It’s too bad they don’t have better hats than that.