Monday, March 30, 2009

A reason to despair 30/03/09

From time to time, something will come to my attention that causes me to cry out in despair for the human race. This is one of those moments.

In recent 'The World is Fucked' news, YouTube has just suspended the YouTube of the James Randi Educational Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting critical thinking and defending the people of the world from dangerous people by exposing charlatans and debunking frauds.

In September 2007, before I knew who James Randi was or what he represented, I was up late watching YouTube videos when I stumbled across one of him exposing Uri Geller and Peter Popoff. Pathetic as it may sound, a soundbite he offerred over the course of the video imparted a very real sense of kinship that I'm not sure I had ever felt before, as I heard my (scarcely expressed) teetotalling motivations coming out of the mouth of a bearded 70 year old. It must have been a rather profound moment, given how vividly I can recall that experience, and how the video found itself embedded on my blog within moments.

So far I'm inclined to believe that YouTube's hand has been forced due to complaints mounting against the JREF from retarded YouTuber users who take offence to hearing about the reality in which they live, and I appreciate that YouTube would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to managing their service, but such draconian measures against this vital educational resource only means that YouTube have further diluted the quality:shit ratio on their site.

Why is it that the videos warning that psychics only want your money get pulled? Why not the videos casting atheism as a dangerous pseudo-religion? I don't see how a kindly old man exhorting the merits of critical thinking can be taken offline when shillers of bullshit happily continue with their psychobabble.

Of course, the key difference is people taking offence. That's the problem with beliefs that are indoctrinated rather than independently investigated, or just not founded in solid logic - people who know jack shit about why they believe can only resort to taking offence when somebody calls that notion into question, so they hit the 'report abuse' button. Intelligent people need a critical mass of people to go to the effort of taking offence, so we can start cutting through the chaff online, but it's not going to happen, because when an intelligent person encounters a babbling retard online, they ignore it (maybe even find it amusing).

My despair is only increased by the knowledge that the same scumbag that Randi dispatched all those years ago is back on the streets, taking advantage of more stupid people, because they won't listen to his advice until after the damage is done.

Seriously, stop being such stupid motherfuckers - there are people out there in the world who take advantage of stupid motherfuckers like the people who take umbrage with James Randi.

In short: stop taking offence, start thinking critically. You're only hurting yourself in the long run.


Sully said...

I meant to include some reference to DMCA over the course of that little rant - if the JREF's account is offline because of some copyrighted material, surely targeting the offending video would be a better response (as has been the case when I've been on the wrong side of copyright holders with my videos), or just ignoring the offence because the material is being used for educational reasons.

Both strike me as more prudent courses of action, but feel free to share your thoughts.

Yes, I'm embarrassed of my blog. said...

Well, it's been in my experience that posts like these are "preaching to the choir." It's the same reason that people like you and readers ignore the guy on the sidewalk carrying "The End is Nigh" on his chest. No one wants to be convinced of something oppositional to their comfort zone. Everyone wants to do the convincing, but refuses to hear anything other than their brand of the comfortable truth.


Sully said...

I agree that I'm preaching to the choir to a certain extent, but I disagree about the example you made. The 'End is Nigh' guy on the side of the street is ignored, not banned, whereas if it was someone broadcasting a philosophy that people embrace their mortality and dismiss their superstitions for the bunk that it is, they would be escorted off the premises.

It's true that 'no one wants to be convinced of something oppositional to their comfort zone', but why have a comfort zone? Why not not evaluate everything on its own merits?

Why is it that the irreligious videos get banned, whereas the theists can broadcast their ignorance without end?

When Pat Condell was briefly banned, I was disgusted but not entirely surprised - his videos are a full-on attack of religion. The JREF's banning took me by surprise because of the intrinsic wholesomeness of its message.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

"...if it was someone broadcasting a philosophy that people embrace their mortality and dismiss their superstitions for the bunk that it is, they would be escorted off the premises."
Therein lies the problem.
When an idea is intrinsically stupid, yet one desperately wants to believe it, it's a natural reaction to get outraged when someone challenges it. Muslims are a prime example.
I read something recently about self-deception, which may be connected. When someone makes a negative remark towards us, when does it sting? When some part of us knows it is true. If no part of us considered the remark true, then it would roll off and we could dismiss it as false. If every part of us considered the remark as true, we could just shrug and think, meh, old news. When critical thinkers point out the absurdity of our modern religious beliefs, it must hit a nerve; part of us must know it is true, which may partly explain the ubiquitous, permanently outraged retards, demanding freedom of expression for themselves while denying that right to others.