Category Archives: humour

Easter hilarity on Cov-19 memes and articles

Lots of memes and articles took the easter story and placed it wittily in a Covid-19 scenario. I suppose some won’t find it funny but balck humour is essential in difficult times

Pilate didn’t wash his hands enough.

https://babylonbee.com/news/scholars-now-agree-pontius-pilate-didnt-wash-his-hands-for-20-seconds-bears-some-responsibility-for-jesus-crucifixion?fbclid=IwAR2K1SCxQQw4q02f-2MnCGwzmhYUg2YYLx05alHm6roE66wOVbuPH_Tqx4E

 

On Easter Day Mary broke the two metre rule for distancing.

Now you must keep at least two metres apart

Image may contain: 2 people, possible text that says 'Is that 2 metres, Mary? I think not.'

Lot’s on the breaking of Easter Day lockdown.

 

Jesus arrested for leaving his tomb during lockdown

 

https://newsthump.com/2020/04/12/jesus-arrested-after-emerging-from-his-tomb-during-lockdown/?fbclid=IwAR1pWNb8f7Zn7MeWZp5AudxbWKOlqU5cfWVLPR2yN6GCLRpl8BgcZKXWPG0

The Roman soldiers got narked.

 

https://babylonbee.com/news/roman-authorities-investigating-jesus-for-violating-stay-in-tomb-order?fbclid=IwAR0UC0u1FQOi7pDDyfh2BbiOrh-ZzCjOsBrv01uWjuD_2ftqpV_fSyJWrTQ

The police were too late to keep Jesus in lockdown

He is not here, he is risen.

 

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

 

What if the cops arrived before dawn?

No photo description available.

Now and not yet

 

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing, possible text that says '...NOT THIS YEAR SON YA GOTTA STAY IN... -'

 

 

Destroying the faith of millions

https://babylonbee.com/news/millions-worldwide-cling-faith-jesuss-resurrection-elaborate-hoax?fbclid=IwAR1okq_L9SFXbfpw-kPRxbaXhJ5g44sDqRLwGq87R0kInDDBCfTG7cgtbCA

 

 

more topical . The silly faith of some Christians who have magical view of god, and thus reject all science.

 

No photo description available.

All this should make all laugh.

But be more serious and think of the meaning of good Friday and Easter

We needed it yesterday, we need it today and we need it tomorrow.

I was stoned, wrote the Apostle St Paul

I WAS STONED, wrote Paul.

Yes that is what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 vs 25 – or a literal translation is “Once I was stoned”!!! In the greek it is ἅπαξ ἐλιθάσθην,

This was used in the New International Version of the Bible in 1984 and created some amusement. The NRSV has “Once I received a stoning”, which is a convoluted translation. Most versions have “once I was stoned”, but;

God’s Word translation has “Once people tried to stone me to death”

The Message bible; “pummeled with rocks once.”

New International Reader’s Version; “Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me.”

 

Thus it was revised in the NIV as the New Testament scholar Douglas Moo pointed out;

“In the 1984 NIV when Paul says (in 2 Corinthians 11:25) ‘I was stoned,’ we changed it to ‘pelted with stones’ to avoid the laughter in the junior high row of the church.”

Well, “I was stoned” is a succinct literal translation and correct on all grounds bar one, and that is the contemporary understanding of the expression “I was stoned”

It highlights a problem of all translations. There are other instances where the original meaning can be lost in translation e.g. If your son asks for some fish , will you give him a snake?” In some countries a snake is more of a delicacy .

It reminds of two devout Christians in a university Christian Union in the 60s. They took Paul’s injunction “make love your aim” to heart and jumped into bed……………

Of course it is worse if we read the King James Version which was archaic posh English of 1611 and so much of English has changed. No wonder fundermentalists who only use the KJV get so many things wrong!!

As for myself I have only be stoned once, like Paul – by pygmies from the Congo 😁

Not kidding either.

Sausage Rolls and Christmas

Sausage Rolls and Christmas

During the summer I went on a pleasant cycle ride to Silverdale and back.

DSCF3172DSCF3181DSCF3193DSCF3197

 

I had decided to buy some sandwiches in booths as I came through Carnforth but as I peddled up fro the Brief Encounter station I saw Greggs and decided to buy some sausage rolls. I then found a seat on the canal and started to eat them. I realisede there was no sausage meat but only ork slime – yuk. but I was hungry and needed for for my last 20 miles.

The high street chain, Greggs, thought they had a wonderful advert for Christmas; they took a crib scene and put a sausage roll in the crib. More sensitive Christians were offended, but others replied in a spirit of jest and mockery. Apart from the fact that their sausage rolls are filled with pork slime, they have attracted much ridicule. My favourite is that “Lord Jesus” spelt backwards becomes “susejd rol”

DSCF1391

. If nothing else it is a great illustration of the silly commercialisation of Christmas.
Commercialisation of Christmas is nothing new and goes back centuries at least as far back as the Victorians, who were always looking for new ways of making money – and writing Christmas Carols! The Victorians mixed religious sentimentalism and profit and that may make one cynical.
To remain cynical is futile and we need to see Christmas, despite all its shortcomings, is an opportunity to remind the world about Jesus. What’s the point of always complaining about early Christmas shopping deals and the rest. That reflects what many want, whether we like it or not.
One thing stays the same and that is the challenge of Jesus. Why should we celebrate the birth of some Gallilean builder’s son 2000 odd years after he was born? When we get beyond the tinsel, donkeys and Santas, Jesus has had a tremendous influence for 2000 years. Most faiths give him some recognition including Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Usually they accept some of his moral teaching and reject the importance of his death and resurrection.
Jesus’ moral teaching is widely respected, particularly his emphasis on love. Thus the principles of the Beatitudes and several of his parables (especially the Good Samaritan) are widely acknowledged. However Jesus’ teaching was more than moral and also has a strong religious element which is often played down. This is his whole kingdom teaching which comes out in parables like the Sower, the Ten Virgins, The talents and the Sheep and the Goats. These are meaningless if you make Jesus only a moral teacher.To follow those one must move on the aspect of Jesus as the Messiah or Christ and consider the importance of his death and resurrection. However that is the emphasis of Good Friday and Easter.
But for the next month we focus on the birth of an enigmatic person, who, despite his humble beginnings, still influences the world today and it is difficult for any to deny his existence or the value of his teaching. We can moan at all the Christmas tat, but we should rejoice that Jesus is brought to the public mind in so many ways. It also reminds us that Britain is not as secular and godless as some claim. Perhaps Christians should spend less time moaning and more sharing their faith in Jesus.
Most of all we should see that there is something more than just Christmas and continually ask the question why Jesus is continues to hold our imaginations.

Big oil stops selling oil

I nicked this blog as it sums up the daftness of the KEEPITINTHEGROUND policy on fossil fuels.

I often do not agree with Luis, but this is very good

http://daysgt.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/i-read-news-today-oh-boy.html

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

Tired of being demonized by the green fringe and by the media in general, a secret meeting of the most important oil companies CEOs took place during the weekend.*

They decided enough is enough so, unilaterally they have suspended all oil deliveries immediately and for an indefinite period of time.

The world’s reaction was swift and brutal. The news services are currently overwhelmed so we only know a minute part of what this decision has triggered. Here are some of them:

 

Airlines do plan to operate their flights on Monday, but no new bookings are being accepted at this time. Among other things, this means travelers are being stranded all over the world with no easy way to go back home. The revenue of the airlines will quickly drop to zero and their financial position will deteriorate rapidly if the oil flow is not restored fast.
State oil companies are not all participating in the boycott but the price of oil has skyrocketed already. Frantic traders have pushed the price above $250 per barrel but the ceiling is nowhere near. At least in the short term, Saudi Arabia and Iran seem poised to benefit from the chaos.
Stock markets all over the world plummeted by more than 20% but the floor has not been reached. Markets are essentially in free fall.
Long lines at petrol stations are being observed all over. Violence has broken out in several instances.
Car sales have ground to a halt. It seems nobody wants to buy a product that cannot be fueled.
Absenteeism at companies and schools reached an all time high. It is expected this metric will further deteriorate and by the end of the week the whole economy would have come to a halt.
Food shortages are beginning to alarm. Most of the food bought worldwide is transported by truck or ship and there is a serious risk riots will break out in all major cities. Price gouging has already began. The prices of some staples have already reached levels never encountered before.

 

Additional updates:

World leaders condemn the decision of the oil companies and urge their CEOs to immediately reconsider their actions.
In a joint press conference called by the executive director of Greenpeace and the president of Sierra Club both begged oil companies to reconsider. They both came close to apologizing for their previous unfair attacks on the oil companies.
Layoffs at many companies have begun.
All sorts of services gradually begin to shut down as people cannot commute to their jobs.
Trash begins to accumulate in cities around the world. Public health officials fear epidemics will be triggered at any moment.

 

More updates:
While the world spirals toward an uncontrolled economic depression, the main oil CEOs stand firm and have not yet reversed their decision.
Panic, riots, violence, despair have erupted all over the world. This truly looks like the end of the world. Ironically, this catastrophe was not caused by CO2.
Stock markets globally have lost more than 50% of their value.
Supermarkets begin to close as they have nothing left to sell.
Motor vehicles begin to run out of fuel and are being abandoned wherever they shut down.
Even though ambulances have fuel priority, they cannot go anywhere as abandoned cars block almost every street and avenue. People are now dying.

 

Overnight, almost eveybody has turned into a pauper. Despair is rampant.

Stay tuned for more updates…

 

 

* Obviously, what is mentioned here is fiction but moving away from fossil fuels before the time is right would be catastrophic for humanity. Let’s be responsible and not advocate medicines that would be much worse than the illness.

 

 

More on The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct: A Sokal-Style Hoax on Gender Studies

“The conceptual penis as a social construct:” a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies by @peterboghossian and @GodDoesnt.

The authors discus their hoax articles.

It shows what a waste so much “sociology” type studies are and raises the questions why they are funded

Source: The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct: A Sokal-Style Hoax on Gender Studies

phallic emojis (by EmojiOne https://www.emojione.com/emoji/v3)

THE CONCEPTUAL PENIS AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT: A SOKAL-STYLE HOAX ON GENDER STUDIES

Note from the editor: Every once in awhile it is necessary and desirable to expose extreme ideologies for what they are by carrying out their arguments and rhetoric to their logical and absurd conclusion, which is why we are proud to publish this expose of a hoaxed article published in a peer-reviewed article today. It’s ramifications are unknown but one hopes it will help reign in extremism in this and related areas.
—Michael Shermer

“The conceptual penis as a social construct” is a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies. Follow the authors @peterboghossian and @GodDoesnt.

The Hoax

The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.

That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

This paper should never have been published. Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)

Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group,” we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.

Manspreading — a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide — is akin to raping the empty space around him.

This already damning characterization of our hoax understates our paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude. We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

Consider some examples. Here’s a paragraph from the conclusion, which was held in high regard by both reviewers:

We conclude that penises are not best understood as the male sexual organ, or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations. The conceptual penis presents significant problems for gender identity and reproductive identity within social and family dynamics, is exclusionary to disenfranchised communities based upon gender or reproductive identity, is an enduring source of abuse for women and other gender-marginalized groups and individuals, is the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.

You read that right. We argued that climate change is “conceptually” caused by penises. How do we defend that assertion? Like this:

Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of [sic] the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear.

And like this, which we claim follows from the above by means of an algorithmically generated nonsense quotation from a fictitious paper, which we referenced and cited explicitly in the paper:

Toxic hypermasculinity derives its significance directly from the conceptual penis and applies itself to supporting neocapitalist materialism, which is a fundamental driver of climate change, especially in the rampant use of carbon-emitting fossil fuel technologies and careless domination of virgin natural environments. We need not delve deeply into criticisms of dialectic objectivism, or their relationships with masculine tropes like the conceptual penis to make effective criticism of (exclusionary) dialectic objectivism. All perspectives matter.

If you’re having trouble understanding what any of that means, there are two important points to consider. First, we don’t understand it either. Nobody does. This problem should have rendered it unpublishable in all peer-reviewed, academic journals. Second, these examples are remarkably lucid compared to much of the rest of the paper. Consider this final example:

Inasmuch as masculinity is essentially performative, so too is the conceptual penis. The penis, in the words of Judith Butler, “can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier within the domain of corporeal legibility” (Butler, 1993). The penis should not be understood as an honest expression of the performer’s intent should it be presented in a performance of masculinity or hypermasculinity. Thus, the isomorphism between the conceptual penis and what’s referred to throughout discursive feminist literature as “toxic hypermasculinity,” is one defined upon a vector of male cultural machismo braggadocio, with the conceptual penis playing the roles of subject, object, and verb of action. The result of this trichotomy of roles is to place hypermasculine men both within and outside of competing discourses whose dynamics, as seen via post-structuralist discourse analysis, enact a systematic interplay of power in which hypermasculine men use the conceptual penis to move themselves from powerless subject positions to powerful ones (confer: Foucault, 1972).

No one knows what any of this means because it is complete nonsense. Anyone claiming to is pretending. Full stop.

It gets worse. Not only is the text ridiculous, so are the references. Most of our references are quotations from papers and figures in the field that barely make sense in the context of the text. Others were obtained by searching keywords and grabbing papers that sounded plausibly connected to words we cited. We read exactly zero of the sources we cited, by intention, as part of the hoax. And it gets still worse…

Some references cite the Postmodern Generator, a website coded in the 1990s by Andrew Bulhak featuring an algorithm, based on NYU physicist Alan Sokal’s method of hoaxing a cultural studies journal called Social Text, that returns a different fake postmodern “paper” every time the page is reloaded. We cited and quoted from the Postmodern Generator liberally; this includes nonsense quotations incorporated in the body of the paper and citing five different “papers” generated in the course of a few minutes.

Five references to fake papers in journals that don’t exist is astonishing on its own, but it’s incredible given that the original paper we submitted had only sixteen references total (it has twenty now, after a reviewer asked for more examples). Nearly a third of our references in the original paper go to fake sources from a website mocking the fact that this kind of thing is brainlessly possible, particularly in “academic” fields corrupted by postmodernism. (More on that later.)

Two of the fake journals cited are Deconstructions from Elsewhere and And/Or Press (taken directly from algorithmically generated fictitious citations on the Postmodern Generator). Another cites the fictitious researcher “S. Q. Scameron,” whose invented name appears in the body of the paper several times. In response, the reviewers noted that our references are “sound,” even after an allegedly careful cross-referencing check done in the final round of editorial approval. No matter the effort put into it, it appears one simply cannot jump Cogent Social Science’s shark.

We didn’t originally go looking to hoax Cogent Social Sciences, however. Had we, this story would be only half as interesting and a tenth as apparently damning. Cogent Social Sciences was recommended to us by another journal, NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, a Taylor and Francis journal. NORMA rejected “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” but thought it a great fit for the Cogent Series, which operates independently under the Taylor and Francis imprimatur. In their rejection letter, the editors of NORMA wrote,

We feel that your manuscript would be well-suited to our Cogent Series, a multidisciplinary, open journal platform for the rapid dissemination of peer-reviewed research across all disciplines.

Transferring your manuscript:

  • Saves you time because there is no need for you to reformat or resubmit your work manually
  • Provides faster publication because previous reviews are transferred with your manuscript.

To ensure all work is open to everyone, the Cogent Series invites a “pay what you want” contribution towards the costs of open access publishing if your article is accepted for publication. This can be paid by you as author or by your institution or research funder. Many institutions and funders now provide financial support for open access publishing.

We took them up on the transfer, and Cogent Social Sciences eventually accepted “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” The reviewers were amazingly encouraging, giving us very high marks in nearly every category. For example, one reviewer graded our thesis statement “sound” and praised it thusly, “It capturs [sic] the issue of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process” (which we take to mean that it wanders aimlessly through many layers of jargon and nonsense). The other reviewer marked the thesis, along with the entire paper, “outstanding” in every applicable category.

They didn’t accept the paper outright, however. Cogent Social Sciences’ Reviewer #2 offered us a few relatively easy fixes to make our paper “better.” We effortlessly completed them in about two hours, putting in a little more nonsense about “manspreading” (which we alleged to be a cause of climate change) and “dick-measuring contests.”

The publication of our hoax reveals two problems. One relates to the business model of pay-to-publish, open-access journals. The other lies at the heart of academic fields like gender studies.

The Pay-to-Publish, Open-Access Journal Problem

Cogent Social Sciences is a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences: from law to sociology, politics to geography, and sport to communication studies. Connect your research with a global audience for maximum readership and impact.

One of the biggest questions facing peer-reviewed publishing is, “Are pay-to-publish, open-access journals the future of academic publishing?” We seem to have answered that question with a large red, “No!”

There is, however, an asterisk on that “No!” That is, the peer-review process in pay-to-publish, open-access journals cannot achieve quality assurance without extremely stringent safeguards (which will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the debate). There’s nothing necessarily or intrinsically wrong with either open-access or pay-to-publish journals, and they may ultimately prove valuable. However, in the short term, pay-to-publish may be a significant problem because of the inherent tendencies toward conflicts of interest (profits trump academic quality, that is, the profit motive is dangerous because ethics are expensive).

The pay-to-publish mechanism should not affect the quality control standards of the peer-review process. Cogent Open Access claims to address this problem by using a blind review process. Does it work? Perhaps not always, if this case is any indication. Some pay-to-publish journals happily exploit career-minded academicians and will publish anything (cf: the famous Seinfeld hoax paper)1. Is that the case here? Gender studies scholars committed to the integrity of their academic discipline should hope so, and they have reason for suspecting it. For a minimal payment of $625, Cogent Social Sciences was ready to publish, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.”2

There seems to be a deeper problem here, however. Suspecting we may be dealing with a predatory pay-to-publish outlet, we were surprised that an otherwise apparently legitimate Taylor and Francis journal directed us to contribute to the Cogent Series. (Authors’ note: we leave it to the reader to decide whether or not NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies constitutes a legitimate journal, but to all appearances it is run by genuine academic experts in the field and is not a predatory money-mill.) The problem, then, may rest not only with pay-to-publish journals, but also with the infrastructure that supports them.

In sum, it’s difficult to place Cogent Social Sciences on a spectrum ranging from a rigorous academic journal in gender studies to predatory pay-to-publish money mill. First, Cogent Social Sciences operates with the legitimizing imprimatur of Taylor and Francis, with which it is clearly closely partnered. Second, it’s held out as a high-quality open-access journal by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which is intended to be a reliable list of such journals. In fact, it carries several more affiliations with similar credentialing organizations.

These facts cast considerable doubt on the facile defense that Cogent Social Sciences is a sham journal that accepted “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” simply to make money. As a result, wherever Cogent Social Sciences belongs on the spectrum just noted, there are significant reasons to believe that much of the problem lies within the very concept of any journal being a “rigorous academic journal in gender studies.”

Postmodernism, Gender Studies, and the Canon of Knowledge

In 1996, Alan Sokal, a Professor of Physics at NYU, published the bogus paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” in the preeminent cultural studies journal Social Text which is in turn published by Duke University Press. The publication of this nonsense paper, in a prestigious journal with a strong postmodernist orientation, delivered a devastating blow to postmodernism’s intellectual legitimacy.

Subsequently, Sokal and the Belgian physicist Jean Bricmont noted in their 1997 book, Fashionable Nonsense, that certain kinds of ideas can become so fashionable that the critical faculties required for the peer-review process are compromised, allowing outright nonsense to be published, so long as it looks or sounds a certain way, or promotes certain values. It was standing upon Sokal’s shoulders that we proceeded with our hoax, though we perceived a slightly different need.

Sokal’s aim was to demonstrate that fashionable linguistic abuses (especially relying upon puns and wordplay related to scientific terms), apparent scientific authority, conformity with certain leftist political norms, and flattery of the academic preconceptions of an editorial board would be sufficient to secure publication and thus expose shoddy academic rigor on the part of postmodernist scholarship and social commentary.

A primary target of Sokal’s hoax was the appropriation of mathematical and scientific terminology that postmodernist “scholars” didn’t understand and didn’t use correctly. (We included “isomorphism” and “vector” in our paper in subtle homage to Sokal.) Fashionable Nonsense pays particular attention to postmodernists’ abuses of mathematical and scientific terminology. That is, Sokal took aim at an academic abuse by postmodernists and hit his target dead-center. His paper could only have been published if the postmodernists who approved it exhibited overwhelming political motivations and a staggering lack of understanding of basic mathematics and physics terminology.

The scientific community was exuberant that Sokal burst the postmodern bubble because they were fed up with postmodernists misusing scientific and mathematical terms to produce jargon-laden nonsense and bizarre social commentary carrying the apparent gravitas of scientific terminology. It appears that Social Text accepted Sokal’s paper specifically because Sokal was a recognized scientist who appeared to have seen the light.

Our hoax was similar, of course, but it aimed to expose a more troubling bias. The most potent among the human susceptibilities to corruption by fashionable nonsense is the temptation to uncritically endorse morally fashionable nonsense. That is, we assumed we could publish outright nonsense provided it looked the part and portrayed a moralizing attitude that comported with the editors’ moral convictions. Like any impostor, ours had to dress the part, though we made our disguise as ridiculous and caricatured as possible—not so much affixing an obviously fake mustache to mask its true identity as donning two of them as false eyebrows.

Sokal exposed an infatuation with academic puffery that characterizes the entire project of academic postmodernism. Our aim was smaller yet more pointed. We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.3

As a matter of deeper concern, there is unfortunately some reason to believe that our hoax will not break the relevant spell. First, Alan Sokal’s hoax, now more than 20 years old, did not prevent the continuation of bizarre postmodernist “scholarship.” In particular, it did not lead to a general tightening of standards that would have blocked our own hoax. Second, people rarely give up on their moral attachments and ideological commitments just because they’re shown to be out of alignment with reality.

In the 1950s, psychologist Leon Festinger revealed the operation of the well-known phenomenon called cognitive dissonance when he infiltrated a small UFO cult known as the “Seekers.” When the apocalyptic beliefs of the Seekers failed to materialize as predicted, Festinger documented that many cultists did not accept the possibility that the facts upended their core beliefs but instead rationalized them. Many Seekers adopted a subsequent belief that they played a role in saving the world with their fidelity; that is, they believed the doomsday-bringing extraterrestrials were so impressed by their faith that they decided not to destroy the world after all!

It is therefore plausible that some gender studies scholars will argue that the “conceptual penis” makes sense as we described it, that men do often suffer from machismo braggadocio, and that there is an isomorphism between these concepts via some personal toxic hypermasculine conception of their penises.

We sincerely hope not.

Conclusion: A Two-Pronged Problem for Academia

There are at least two deeply troublesome diseases damaging the credibility of the peer-review system in fields such as gender studies:

  1. the echo-chamber of morally driven fashionable nonsense coming out of the postmodernist social “sciences” in general, and gender studies departments in particular and
  2. the complex problem of pay-to-publish journals with lax standards that cash in on the ultra-competitive publish-or-perish academic environment. At least one of these sicknesses led to “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” being published as a legitimate piece of academic scholarship, and we can expect proponents of each to lay primary blame upon the other.

“The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” underwent a blind peer-review process and yet was accepted for publication. This needs serious explaining. Part of the fault may fall on the open-access, pay-to-publish model, but the rest falls on the entire academic enterprise collectively referred to as “gender studies.” As we see it, gender studies in its current form needs to do some serious housecleaning.

To repeat a critical point, this paper was published in a social science journal that was recommended to us as reputable by a supposedly reliable academic source. Cogent Social Sciences has the trappings of a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. There is no way around the fact that the publication of this paper in such a journal must point to some problem with the current state of academic publishing. The components of the problem are, it seems, reducible to just two: academic misfeasance arising from pay-to-publish, open-access financial decision-making; and unconscionable pseudo-academic inbreeding contaminating, if not defining, the postmodernist theory-based social sciences.

On the other hand, no one is arguing, nor has any reason to argue, that respectable journals like Nature and countless others have adopted a peer-review process that is fundamentally flawed or in any meaningful way corrupt. Much of the peer-review system remains the gold-standard for the advancement of human knowledge. The problem lies within a nebula of marginal journals, predatory pay-to-publish journals, and, possibly to some degree, open-access journals—although it may largely be discipline-specific, as we had originally hoped to discover. This is, after all, not the first time postmodernist academia has fallen for a hoax.

This hoax, however, was rooted in moral and political biases masquerading as rigorous academic theory. Working in a biased environment, we successfully sugarcoated utter nonsense with a combination of fashionable moral sentiments and impenetrable jargon. Cogent Social Sciences happily swallowed the pill. It left utter nonsense easy to disguise.

The publish-or-perish academic environment is its own poison that needs a remedy. It gives rise to predatory profit-driven journals with few or no academic standards that take advantage of legitimate scholars pressured into publishing their work at all costs, even if it is marginal or dubious. Many of these scholars are victims both of a system that is forcing them to publish more papers and to publish them more often, to the detriment of research quality, and of the predatory journals that offer to sell them the illusion of academic prestige. Certainly, we have every reason to suspect that a majority of the other academics who have published in Cogent Social Sciences and other journals in the Cogent Series are genuine scholars who have been cheated by what may be a weak peer-review process with a highly polished edifice. Our question about the fundamental integrity of fields like gender studies seems much more pressing nonetheless.

“The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” should not have been published on its merits because it was actively written to avoid having any merits whatsoever. The paper is academically worthless nonsense. The question that now needs to be answered is, “How can we restore the reliability of the peer-review process?” END

Notes
  1. For more here, read about “Dr. Martin Van Nostrand’s” famous hoax paper.
  2. Portland State University has a fund dedicated to paying fees for open access journals, and this particular journal qualified for disbursement. For ethical reasons, however, we did not apply for funding, which in this case was virtually guaranteed. Instead, the article was externally funded by an independent party.
  3. Our suspicion arose from countless examples documented on the anonymously run Twitter feed @RealPeerReview.
About the Authors

Dr. Peter Boghossian is a full time faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Portland State University. He has an extensive publication record across multiple domains of thought. He’s the author of A Manual for Creating Atheists and the creator of the Atheos app. Follow him on Twitter @peterboghossian.

James A. Lindsay has a doctorate in math and background in physics. He is the author of four books, most recently Life in Light of Death. Follow him on Twitter @GodDoesnt.

40 Comments

  1. Saxi Fraga says:

    I loved reading and writing such papers/concepts/manifestos during school for my arts class. Teachers in the arts department love that silly stuff! rofl

  2. Omar says:

    Awesome! This is an epic achievement. Unfortunately, it will not derail gender studies or any other nonsense field, but the rest of humanity can still benefit (or at least, laugh). Thank you!

  3. Sean says:

    Typo in the article. The second sentence in the second item in the list at the beginning of the Conclusion looks like it should be after the list. That is:

    “the complex problem of pay-to-publish journals with lax standards that cash in on the ultra-competitive publish-or-perish academic environment. At least one of these sicknesses led to “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” being published as a legitimate piece of academic scholarship, and we can expect proponents of each to lay primary blame upon the other. ”

    Should be:
    “the complex problem of pay-to-publish journals with lax standards that cash in on the ultra-competitive publish-or-perish academic environment.

    At least one of these sicknesses led to “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” being published as a legitimate piece of academic scholarship, and we can expect proponents of each to lay primary blame upon the other. “

  4. man overboord says:

    Next what you need to do is call a publishing mill every now and then, make clear who you are, and utter the mortifying words: “God no.. You fell for it again”

    Have them withdraw random studies! Chaos! Mayhem! Revolution!

  5. Bertram Wooster says:

    One wonders who is trolling whom really here..

    • jamsilver says:

      “One wonders who is trolling whom really here..”
      Yes, the bit about “hey try that other journal over there” does make me wonder if this is an insanely brilliant double-troll.

      I am fast losing the ability to interpret internet-reality. Trolling, meta-trolling, meta-meta-trolling.

      Chaos. =p

  6. Kurt says:

    Typo in the quote from Shermer: “reign” should be “rein.”

  7. Ash says:

    You limit your critique to publishing, but I think there is an even more troubling problem in academia itself.

    The hard sciences may be self-correcting, so yes, one day continental drift and plate tectonics surmount a fixed geosynclinal earth.

    But what is the self-correcting influence in gender studies, or many university departments?

    Is it so wrong for taxpayers funding public schools to inquire about how the doctors heal themselves, or is all of that a violation of academic freedom?

  8. Farmer Joe says:

    This should be in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

  9. Farmer Joe says:

    Thing is, departments like Gender Studies or African-American Studies, and the like were always intended to be political rather than scholarly. The establishment of such departments was often prompted by the protests/riots/occupations of the 60s. So expecting these disciplines to have any standard of truth (which is just, you know, a western, eurocentric cis-patriarchal – not to mention white supremacist – construct anyway) is kind of tilting at windmills.

    • Dr. Sidethink says:

      In the early ’70’s At a prestigious State University, my brother was informed that any
      “Caucasian” person taking the course called something like ” African American Roots” would be given a MAXIMUM grade of “C”.

    • Ash says:

      Except that these “political” departments now claim to be the discovers of scientific truths, and that their “political” theories are actively used to filter and indoctrinate.

      If the demand to be held to account in the real world, why shouldn’t taxpayers ask how they are held to account in the academic world?

  10. Dr. Sidethink says:

    Anyone wondering if One wonders who is trolling whom really here is actually trolling too.

    Anyone wondering if Anyone wondering if One wonders who is trolling whom really here is actually trolling too. is actually trolling too.

    Anyone wondering if Anyone wondering if Anyone wondering if One wonders who is trolling whom really here is actually trolling too. is actually trolling too. is actually trolling too.
    *****************************************
    this is known as a Mad Magazine level three cascade
    anyone actually typing such a thing needs to figure out how to actually ( split infinitive ) use other ways !!!!

    Also note that the previous sentence is a candidate for a cascade..

    I think that the record over 10 or so issues was several pages

    Dr.Sidethink Hp. D

  11. Dolan Dolany says:

    1. Reviewers often only skim through the articles.
    2. Nobody, and I meany NOBODY, reads journals like the one you’ve published in.
    3. Your article got rejected once and then transferred to a journal meant for publishing waste papers.
    4. It took you more time to prepare this blog post than editors managing 5 issues of that journal. If you spend your time denouncing BS you’re on par with the BS itself.

  12. Nina Wouk says:

    The brief quote from Judith Butler shows her capable of packing more incomprehensibility into fewer words than you-all did despite your best efforts. The mind continues to boggle.

  13. DJEB says:

    Doing Logos’s work. Well done.

  14. CLWhite says:

    Other typo: Its ramifications, not it’s

  15. Joe says:

    Lol, nicely done.

  16. Ray Madison says:

    It’s of course fairly easy for someone who claims to be a trusted academic to fairly easily violate that trust. Which is what these self proclaimed liars did, and they weren’t even all that good at lying.

  17. Scott Kobieta says:

    Even Sokol explicitly said that the actions of a couple of reviewers and editors should not lead anyone to condemn an entire field. (www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/noretta.html) Why so much more strident here?

    By the authors’ logic, physics should be considered worthless nonsense because Jan Hendrik Schon had papers published in Science and Nature. (www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/physics-and-pixie-dust) And yet they consider that peer review system to be beyond reproach. I wonder why the different standards? Why does making up the contents of an article that is accepted for publication only reflect badly on non-scientific disciplines?

    To be sure, that the authors’ spoof paper was accepted is a problem for many reasons. But the leap of logic to dismiss an entire field as being useless, something Sokol specifically warned against, is an equally big problem.

    • Alex says:

      You seem confused. Nobody is saying that the field is useless because it published this paper. We’re saying that it published this paper because it is useless.

  18. Charles Garth Masters says:

    Re:
    “Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group”
    Peter Boyle is the “name” of a prolific child pornographer who operated in former Soviet states. So named because he had a very distinctive lesion on his penis.

  19. MacCruiskeen says:

    Who got hoaxed here? It looks like the respectable journal sniffed out that your stuff was stinky and decided you could be fleeced for a few bucks in a vanity publication.

  20. Sascha Schuenemann says:

    Come on, nonsense paper, even some created by an algorithm using random text AND graphs, got accepted in a wide variety of scientific fields.

    All this proves is that the review mechanism is broken / not existent for some journals, but it does not say anything about the field itself covered by these journals.

    If you want to criticise social sciences or gender studies in particular, please look at the many real issues instead of focusing on such BS

  21. bloke says:

    Hard science has a longstanding,rigorous peer review process borne out of hundreds of years of testing hypotheses,using appropriate methodology yielding empirically derived evidence to support or disprove a hypothesis.
    Gender studies has its ideological narrative aggressively promulgated by those with a political agenda,and fails to even conceal its biases.
    Consequently any resultant research resembles a horse before cart approach.
    Flood the publishing houses with faux articles like this one to prove the point.

    • thaniell says:

      And there’s also rubbish journals with fucked up reviewing – if reviewing takes place at all – in the hard sciences. The question that this single experiment cannot answer is whether this is an endemic problem particularly in the field or just a bad journal.
      If you ask 10 renowned gender studies profs about the 10 best journal in their field and this one comes up repeatedly, then this indicates a problem.
      If you get similar papers accepted at multiple journals named as top-journals of the field, then there is a serious problem.
      If a majority of renowned gender studies academics defends this paper, then we have a problem.

  22. Christian says:

    Congrats; you proved that a tiny journal meant to published C-grade papers for profit, in a completely broken publishing system, will have errors. You proved they’re also probably politically inclined, and you did so in such a way to betray your own inclination. You went all this length to attack the field of gender studies in a tortured way and now we need gender studies to explain why you were motivated to do it. Absolutely super congrats to you both, The Big Boys of Rational Thinking, a thousand standing ovations to everybody involved.

    A field that’s been gutted from funding but which young people want to study in large numbers has been proven to have a political agenda. You did this by publishing in a journal that isn’t in the field, but a profit mechanism for a publishing house. Meanwhile, all the big fans of your hoax are – oh, surprise – on the anti-feminist alt-right and the diminished-reputation rationalists of the Dawkins/Harris brand of hectoring.

    Big boy high fives to you and your fans.

  23. Rob McGee says:

    I just want to point out that the term “penis” IS a social construct in a very limited sense — in that it can be used to refer to a variety of sperm-transferring organs that evolved independently of each other and are structurally very different from one another. So biologists will describe male ostriches and ducks as having a “penis,” but the female spotted hyena has a “pseudo-phallus” or a “greatly enlarged clitoris.” In some ways, the lady hyena’s junk is much more “penis like” than a gentleman ostrich’s junk, but in the case of the ostrich, the organ’s main function is to channel sperm, which is not the case for the hyena.

  24. Jair says:

    I don’t know the field well enough to judge how good this journal is. But if it is a C- or D-grade paper mill journal, as others commenters have indicated, this proves less than nothing and is a waste of time. If it is in fact a very respected and influential publication – then congrats!

  25. Carrie Thanton says:

    Whoever criticizes the left is now labeled “alt-right”. The great bogeyman of our age. Wait, strike that. I meant to say the great “bogeyperson”… nearly offended 8 or 9 people there. Crisis averted.

    Anyway, the alt-right, sure yeah. Makes a lot of sense too. I mean, think about it. Who else would question the deranged dogma coming from the safe space cult?
    It could only be those wacky caricatures known as the alt-right!

    Because as you know, no one disagrees with the left except the right.
    Independants? No such thing.
    Only (alt)left and (alt)right.

    Oops. I said alt-right more than three times in this post. Doesn’t that summon evil spirits or something? I think I read an article that said it does, so it’s pretty much a fact now.

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The folly of Christian Climate Action

 

One of the most extreme Christian Greenie groups is Christian Climate Action.

Thy organise protests like whitewashing slogans on the DECC building , getting arrested and thinking they are martyrs.

Here is a “service” against fossil fuels based on the Anglican wedding service

I had thought of giving a serious response but Proverbs 26 vs4 persuaded me not to

Their antics leave me speechless

You can see more on their Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/christianclimateaction/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED 

Call Off This Engagement!

bridal rings
Church divestment vigil and sketch.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of the Bride of Christ (the Church) to Mr Fossil
on
Monday 8th May 12 noon
at
Dean’s Yard, Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ
The Church of England claims to be a responsible investors, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage.
What is it the Church sees in fossil fuels? Is it love?
We do hope you can join us to celebrate this match made in heaven. Or is it hell?
I must warn you, there is a possibility that the wedding might not go through. There may be an objection. It could be that Marion Haste decides to call off her engagement with Mr Fossil….
Put the date in your diary, dig out your best wedding hat and join us to find out!
Photo thanks to Antonio Delgado on Flickr
Here is the script ;

The Script: The Conclusion of the Engagement of Fossil Fuels and the Bride of Christ

https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/the-script-the-conclusion-of-the-engagement-of-fossil-fuels-and-the-bride-of-christ/

IMG_6644

Groom        Bride         Maid of Honour         Mother of the Bride
Minister    Best man   Father of the Bride    Jesus           Guests

Guests and Players assemble beforehand. Players should speak to guests in the manner
of a wedding so as to allow everyone to know who the players are. The Bride of Christ says nothing and is always accompanied by the attendants who do the talking for her.

Come the hour the players separate facing the guests who are encouraged to stand in rows by the Best Man. Wagner ‘here comes the bride’ music is played.

Maid of Honour (to Bride):
This is so exciting. After all those years calling yourself the Bride of Christ I’m so glad you stopped waiting for that hippy to show up and settled for somebody more reliable.

Father of the Bride (to Bride):
Yes my dear, you’ve done very well. We’ve all done very well out of this engagement.

Mother of the Bride (to Bride):
It’s about time. You can’t spend your whole life trimming a wick.

Best man (to Bride):
Yes, you should consider yourself lucky. you’re not getting any younger are you?

Maid of Honour (to Guests):
Awwwww, look she’s crying.

Groom (to Guests):
Never mind her, everybody cries at a wedding. Now let’s hurry this up! I have another wedding in half an hour.

Minister (to All):
I also have another wedding in half an hour. Can we get this over and done with?

Ceremony starts

Minister: May the dividends of our Lord Fossil Fuel,
the love of Money,
and the fellowship of the Market
be with you.

All: And with your pension fund.

Minister: Money is god, and they who own money
are gods and money owns them.

All: God of Money and might:
Power comes from you,
and you alone are the source of status and security.
Without you we cannot serve you;
without oil, gas and coal, our lives are worth nothing.
Send the love of power,
and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of money,
that we may worship you now
with hungry hearts
and serve you always with bloody hands,
through fossil fuels.
Amen.

— A Hymn —

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
make me some cash
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your books,
And make me some ready cash.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Through death’s dark vale
All doom and gloom,
my faith grows frail.
Some oil stained cash would fill me with glee
and financial security.

For Mamon:
Pounds, Euros or dollars!
For Power:
We’ll install a King!
For those, well,
I wouldn’t bother
If Climate Change destroyed everything.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Roofs low on thatch
don’t pay for themselves.
with this useless batch.
I once had high hopes
I’m still alone
So I’ll make some cash,
Of my own.

Minister: In the presence of the church commissioners, the fossil fuel industry and
the Church of England
we have come together
to witness the marriage of the Bride of Christ and the fossil fuel industry,
to pray for the security that money brings
to share in its power
and to ignore the suffering of the poor.

Creation is the dowry of the Church, given to its new Lord
through its destruction husband and wife may know the power of Money.
It is given so that as the oceans turn to acid, and the soil to dust
united together the Church and the Fossil fuel industry may be united
to watch in comfort the establishment of hell on earth.

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in a frenzied orgy of destruction,
joyfully committed to the end of life on earth.
And the degradation of all common life.
Sacrificing our children
to a future of unspeakable horror.
For the love of money and power.

Sacrificing the innocent,
Our Lord Money, once stirred the heart of the faithful
prompting Judas to deliver Jesus Christ as a gift to the powerful.
Now sacrificing the innocent is the sign of our faithfulness.
It enriches our portfolios and strengthens our positions.
No one should enter into it lightly or selflessly
but reverently and responsibly in the sight of our almighty god.

The Bride of Christ and The Fossil Fuel industry are to enter this way of life.
They will each give their consent to the other and make solemn vows,
and in token of this they will [each] give and receive their bank details.
We pray with them that the Market will guide and strengthen them,
that they may fulfil our god’s purposes: the end of all earthly life together.

The Declarations

Minister: First, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these
persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.

Enter Jesus Christ

Jesus: I object! Break this engagement!

Minister: What? Oh no not you again! I thought we’d seen the last of you. You’re not
welcome here.

The Bride makes her way to join Jesus but is restrained by her attendants.

Father of the Bride:
Look it’s too late. She’s marrying into money and that’s that.

Mother of the Bride:
She’s not going with you. She’s staying with us.

Jesus (to Bride):
I thought we had discussed this. I was going to my Father’s house to prepare a place for us and you were going to leave your Father and Mother and follow me.

Maid of Honour:
It’s not that easy Jesus.

Jesus:
Nobody said this was going to be easy.

Best Man:
Don’t even try it. I’ll kill you first.

Jesus: No you won’t. That’s finished, once and for all.

Best Man (to Groom):
What shall we do?

Groom: I have so many like her at home, but I can’t be seen to be rejected. Lets just get her married off and she can fight it out with all the others.

Groom gives Minister a stack of cash

Minister: Right this marriage is happening!

Jesus: What?

Minister (to Groom):
Do you?

Groom: I do!

Minister (to Groom):
Does she?

Groom: She does!

Bride: I do not!
I’m sorry Jesus, I don’t know what I was thinking. Can you ever forgive me?

Jesus: That’s a daft question isn’t it?
We’re going. Now go pick up your cross and follow me.

Mendelssohn wedding march music is played.
Jesus and the Bride exit, Players lament, guests cheer.

The End!

IMG_6662

Swapping Gloss for Whitewash

dbeis2016_2
Vigil held by CCA and friends outside the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in November 2016 to mark one year since the Paris Climate Accord.

In 2015, on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit, members of Christian Climate Action daubed the Department of Energy and Climate Change with whitewash, painting on it the new title ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’. We were charged with criminal damage, convicted and fined. Thank you to our supporters for your support throughout this, on the day of trial and for help with the fines. One year later in 2016 we whitewashed the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (since DECC is dissolved) and delivered 20kg of melting ice to their lobby while a vigil took place (holding a banner saying ‘Happy Birthday Paris, Our condolences to the Arctic’). We were not arrested, however the ice was not returned to us. What follows is a reflection on the motivation for these acts from one member of Christian Climate Action.

There is a joke that goes: ‘What can think the unthinkable?’ The answer is: ‘An itheberg!’.

titanicjoke

I like this joke as it deftly reminds us that the sinking of the Titanic was unthinkable. The predicament we find ourselves in has been likened to the sinking of the Titanic as we can’t seem to believe our great technical masterpiece of a civilization is vulnerable to the restraints of reality and thus we are unable to come to terms with the prognosis for our great global project.

When I worked in a hospital as a Radiotherapy Physicist, sometimes I would hear of the difficult role of doctors when speaking to cancer patients of their condition. Therapy can often effectively contribute to a positive outcome in cancer treatment but sometimes it cannot.

Sometimes a doctor will be tempted to mislead a patient as to the effectiveness of a treatment or the likely prognosis of their condition. Doctors need to contend with their own need to feel powerful but also patients or their families want their doctors to lie to them due to being unable or unwilling to accept their loss and powerlessness. Denial is common when hearing bad news. Grieving is associated with shock/denial, anger, bargaining, guilt/depression and acceptance (also sometimes called hope). We can often see these stages played out in our loved ones dealing with loss, even if we cannot see it in ourselves.

Nobody envies a doctor’s role in these difficult conversations. However,doctors are compensated, trained, resourced and esteemed due to this role we require of them. A doctor who tells you what you want to hear is negligent. A doctor who misleads you for personal gain or to advance the agenda of their sponsors would likely be struck off and possibly arrested.

This all comes to mind when it comes to painting whitewash on government departments with responsibilities for climate change.

We are in a desperate situation. The extent to which we have destabilized the climate will have catastrophic consequences. This is a result of our approach to life, not just how we choose to fuel our lives, but how we see the world and choose to interact with it. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all stages we need to contend with while grieving this. This is inevitable and unavoidable and should be treated compassionately. However some are willing to exploit others in their grieving or encourage grievers to remain in the stage they are in. Denial serves the status quo, anger the activism industry, bargaining the ethical consumption industry and depression the self care industry. Acceptance seems to be good business for nobody but may allow us to be of some use.

brokenglass

Since it is not climate change we are grieving but imminent, catastrophic, multivariate systemic collapse, we are grieving more than one thing at once and we grieve different stages concurrently (e.g. we might be in denial over the failure of the market, anger over the failure of democracy, as we bargain using low energy light-bulbs to offset our guilt over what we have done to our children but boasting about our acceptance of the reality of climate change). These stages of grief interfere with each other and it is all very complicated. None of us have made it to the other side but it is essential that we find some way of speaking honestly of our situation if we are ever going to make progress. We do not seem to be willing to speak honestly about what is going on. Even those of us who have a prophetic obligation find it difficult to discuss these things.

It should not surprise us then that we do not have a government who is willing to speak honestly about our condition or our likely prognosis. What is true of our government is also true of our church leadership (how many marriage courses warn couples that there may be no food for their impending children). It is also true of the many movements who would assure us we have decades to convince and soften the hearts of our ignorant, careless leaders with our marches, petitions and internet memes while promising we can relive the gay days of the British Empire. It is not clear how far any of us would get in any area of life if we were not willing to lie about this, affirming the ignorance and prejudice of our supporters. We are a people who are desperate to be lied to. We cannot accept how far we have gone astray from the way of life. We cannot accept that we are powerless to turn our systems, our institutions or even our own lives around.

Nevertheless, we often tell ourselves that we can turn around centuries of habitual violence and decades of climatic abuse in a time frame of years. Some would even tell us that the future technological utopia, made of materials and with labour from people kept out of sight out of mind, will somehow mark a break from our pattern so far. We are happy to be told that we can maintain lifestyles entirely dependent upon global injustice, decimation and blood-letting and do so with clean hands, even clean green hands. We speak of justice when we mean ‘just us’ and expect heaven on earth to result. We can barely speak of climate change – but climate change is just the strange fruit of a tree we will not even look at. To be radical is to look to the roots. We often call ourselves radical Christians but we are far from it.

We are a society in trouble. It is unfair to blame any one person or section of society for this. It is also counterproductive. Nevertheless we live in some sort of democracy. We have a government which represents us. Like the doctors described above, we appoint Government ministers and civil servants to act with integrity, making difficult decisions and giving us bad news.

Instead we have deception hidden behind respectable facades. In 2015 this government took us to the Paris Climate Summit claiming global leadership while actively promoting climate wrecking policies. This year the Department for Energy and Climate Change no longer exists. Now responsibilities for climate change belong to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This alone should intimate the priority climate change has for this government.

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Melting ice overlooked by staff at DBEIS.  As seen from exterior.

At a symbolic level, our nation’s disregard for the climate crisis was well served by the offices of DECC with their respectable, sturdy facade hiding corruption and deception. Now the Portland stone of DECC has been replaced by BEIS’s glass frontage. This new facade is as transparent as the change of name but the deception continues within. Somehow we are told that this government is taking climate change seriously.

In this light the words of Ezekiel chapter 13 and Matthew 23 seem very appropriate. The painting of whitewash a symbolic correction to the these duplicitous facades.

Some green Christians took issue with our criminal damage. It was certainly criminal as we were arrested and then almost arrested the second time.

I take issue with the notion we damaged DECC or BEIS. A building, certainly a government building, serves at least two purposes. One is practical – it shelters its staff from the weather and allows them sockets to plug their photocopiers and computers into. The second is one of propaganda, projecting a narrative of legitimate power and respectability. We did no damage to the buildings of DECC or BEIS in the first sense as I reminded the magistrate at our trial – removing our work was entirely optional as it did not hinder the work of the department at all. In the second sense, damaging their ability to appear respectable and legitimate was entirely our intention and our prophetic obligation.

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5 members of CCA painting the portland stone exterior of DECC in Nov 2015 on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit.
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3 members of CCA painting the glass exterior of DBEIS while donating ice the the lobby.

Challenging the narratives of the powerful is the task of every Christian. As is advancing the narrative of the vulnerable God we serve. This empire we have built for ourselves as an act of worship will fall. It will be for the best that it falls but it will not fall gracefully. Like all of us, coming to terms with death will not come easily for it. We who have come to rely on the idols of our age will suffer most when they fail us – an

allotment does not hasten the end of the supermarkets but will soften the blow when they disappear. We are called to flee from this evil age. We are reminded also that we are under grace and not judgement.

As dis-empowering as grace is, it also will sustain us as we look honestly into our position.

Not all are called to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. Clearly following the arrestable Christ does not mean arrest for everybody, just as following the executed Christ has only meant execution for some.

So, while we invite you to join us in our various acts of holy obedience/civil disobedience, we urge you to remember that we are one Church, have one God and have one mission: to offer hospitality to the Kingdom of Heaven, so as to witness to the transformation of this earth into the new earth – into the likeness of Christ – by the power of God, whose power appears weak rather than the horrific power of men.

– The End –

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No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

A good article on why opinion is worthless in may cases. He cites the opinion of an Antivaxxer as being worthless as she has no qualifications or skills to give her “considered view”.  It is the same with many who are anti- GMO, Fracking, etc etc , or exponents of chemtrail , conspiracy theories and the like, who put forward bullshit opinions as if they are valued arguments based on evidence. It applies to ngos like GP or FOE

In other words

Stuff your opinion

Now read on

 

No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

Patrick Stokes Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Deakin University, Australia

https://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978

Every year, I try to do at least two things with my students at least once. First, I make a point of addressing them as “philosophers” – a bit cheesy, but hopefully it encourages active learning.

Secondly, I say something like this: “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”

A bit harsh? Perhaps, but philosophy teachers owe it to our students to teach them how to construct and defend an argument – and to recognize when a belief has become indefensible.

The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Firstly, what’s an opinion?

Plato distinguished between opinion or common belief (doxa) and certain knowledge, and that’s still a workable distinction today: unlike “1+1=2” or “there are no square circles,” an opinion has a degree of subjectivity and uncertainty to it. But “opinion” ranges from tastes or preferences, through views about questions that concern most people such as prudence or politics, to views grounded in technical expertise, such as legal or scientific opinions.

You can’t really argue about the first kind of opinion. I’d be silly to insist that you’re wrong to think strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate. The problem is that sometimes we implicitly seem to take opinions of the second and even the third sort to be unarguable in the way questions of taste are. Perhaps that’s one reason (no doubt there are others) why enthusiastic amateurs think they’re entitled to disagree with climate scientists and immunologists and have their views “respected.”

Meryl Dorey is the leader of the Australian Vaccination Network, which despite the name is vehemently anti-vaccine. Ms. Dorey has no medical qualifications, but argues that if Bob Brown is allowed to comment on nuclear power despite not being a scientist, she should be allowed to comment on vaccines. But no-one assumes Dr. Brown is an authority on the physics of nuclear fission; his job is to comment on the policy responses to the science, not the science itself.

So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?

If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven.

But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.

On Monday, the ABC’s Mediawatch program took WIN-TV Wollongong to task for running a story on a measles outbreak which included comment from – you guessed it – Meryl Dorey. In a response to a viewer complaint, WIN said that the story was “accurate, fair and balanced and presented the views of the medical practitioners and of the choice groups.” But this implies an equal right to be heard on a matter in which only one of the two parties has the relevant expertise. Again, if this was about policy responses to science, this would be reasonable. But the so-called “debate” here is about the science itself, and the “choice groups” simply don’t have a claim on air time if that’s where the disagreement is supposed to lie.

Mediawatch host Jonathan Holmes was considerably more blunt: “there’s evidence, and there’s bulldust,” and it’s not part of a reporter’s job to give bulldust equal time with serious expertise.

The response from anti-vaccination voices was predictable. On the Mediawatch site, Ms. Dorey accused the ABC of “openly calling for censorship of a scientific debate.” This response confuses not having your views taken seriously with not being allowed to hold or express those views at all – or to borrow a phrase from Andrew Brown, it “confuses losing an argument with losing the right to argue.” Again, two senses of “entitlement” to an opinion are being conflated here.

So next time you hear someone declare they’re entitled to their opinion, ask them why they think that. Chances are, if nothing else, you’ll end up having a more enjoyable conversation that way.

Read more from Patrick Stokes: The ethics of bravery

Frackers version of the 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight drillers drilling, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine technicians logging, eight drillers drilling, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten barrels of flowback, nine technicians logging, eight drillers drilling, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven lengths of tubing, ten barrels of flowback, nine technicians logging, eight drillers drilling, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve hours of pumping, eleven lengths of tubing, ten barrels of flowback, nine technicians logging, eight drillers drilling, seven strings of casing, six rig hands working, five frac pumps…four drilling rigs, three environmental permits, two planning consents and a lease on a field in the Fylde.

And all that was left behind afterwards was a well screened Christmas tree

(cribbed from the elusive Backing Fracking with her permission)

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This shows what a blot on the landscape the gaswell at Elswick is. It IS there – but hidden

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Here’s a close-up of the Elswick gaswell

The ‘Fracking Song’

(sung to the tune O Tannenbaum aka The Red Flag)

 

Oh Christmas tree, oh christmas tree,

You’re going to bring shale gas to me,

We’ve won the case, no turning back,

In Lancashire we’re going to frack,

Friends of the earth, protestors all,

Retired bishop, please heed the call,

You won’t stop progress afterall,

We’ll now supply shale gas for all.

 

Oh Christmas tree just do you best,

Cuadrilla’s men will do the rest,

They’ll keep it safe as you will see

And work within the H.S.E.

Don’t be afraid, don’t be alarmed,

Inhabitants will not be harmed

The land around can still be farmed

Just read the facts and you’ll be calmed.

(Written by my mate Don

 

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Now if it were an oil well you could have sung “Little Donkey”

Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Well we all know evolution is rubbish and the earth is only 6000 years old. As Paul points out here the expert American Troy Britain confirms this.

If anyone can refute Troy please do so.

I first heard of the imminent demise of evolution in 1971 while at L’abri studying under the founder of the Religious Right Francis Schaeffer. I can provide all the evidence for this on demand.

 

Reblogged on WordPress.com

Source: Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?