18 November 2017

Experience Is Real

But that doesn't mean that all experiences are equally real.

12 November 2017

Population Will Peak At 11 Billion

Hans Rosling explains why a replacement rate of childbirth means that the human population will probably reach a stable limit of 11 billion. This is inevitable, provided the population explosion in Africa can be controlled by ending crippling poverty. The only way to get the population below 11 billion will be to institute a regime of mass murder and sterilisation. Responsible planning of resource allocation and energy development requires us to take into account a future world with 11 billion people.

05 November 2017

Jordan Peterson on the Meaning of Religion

Jordan Peterson explains how religion gives us meaning, how psychological systems are immortal, and how the new atheists are intellectually lazy.

23 October 2017

The Sign and the Shroud: Part One: The Hypothesis

I'm reading the book "The Sign" by Thomas de Wesselow, and man this guy is a teenage edgelord douchebag, isn't he? He has to attack Christians and Christianity on every single page. I dare him to make a book mocking Islam.

I have a tendency to skip ahead, to read the author's conclusion first so I know what I'm getting into. Just like I don't like to pay to see a movie until after it's released and people on the Internet reveal the ending, because I'm not going to pay to see a movie with an ending I hate.

This guy writes a near 500 page book about the Shroud of Turin and the resurrection, so naturally I figure about 200 of those pages are filler and another 200 are details, so if I skim just 100 pages I'll get all the relevant details. It saves a lot of time reading multiple books. Here's his conclusions, that could have been shortened to a 20 page paper, not a 500 page book:

*The Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus. We can accurately trace its provenance back to AD 600, well before anyone had the technology or the know-how to make a forgery, so that means it's highly probable that the shroud is authentic.

*The Shroud was created by a Maillard reaction (the way bread browns when you bake it) caused by the unusually rapid decomposition of Jesus' body. We know this because the only other possible explanation is a miracle, and fuck off miracles, we're all atheists now.

*The image on the Shroud is the resurrection, even though you can't see it in normal light, and you don't notice that there's a face unless you're standing at least ten feet away from it, and the huge smoking gun of the still rotting body inside the tomb! All the "appearances" of Jesus after the "resurrection" were public displays of the Shroud.

*First century Jews had a different understanding of life after death and resurrection than we do today. They didn't believe in such childish notions, they were atheists too. They knew dead is dead, but seeing that image gave them courage to go to spread the Gospel and to face without fear the most horrific deaths anyone has had to suffer in human history.

That's his hypothesis. And except for the first part, the part actually based on history, it's total horseshit.

And if we remove the childish invective and the second half of the book that's a retelling of the New Testament with the Shroud inserted into the place of Jesus, we can trim this down to a nice scientific paper and submit it for peer review. But it's not. He has to go on and on and on for 470 more pages (the pictures are all beautiful, but as the citation page in the front of the book attests, none of them are the author's own work).

I tried to read the first page and it took about 30 minutes because every other sentence I had to stop to write a refutation, not of the author's opinions on religion, he can believe what he wants, but the blatant historical lies he tells. On the very first page, in one sentence, he tells two blatant lies about early Christianity:

*The author states that Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome in 325. That's false. Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of Rome in 380, 43 years after Constantine had died. Theodosius also never made it state policy to destroy pagan temples, although he didn't stop anyone who did destroy them.

*The author states that a Christian mob burnt down the Library of Alexandria because it was pagan, condemning the West to centuries of ignorance. That's not even false, that's a lie. The Library of Alexandria burnt down centuries before the reign of Theodosius (or Constantine, who the author conflates with Theodosius), possibly by Julius Caesar in 48 BC. Under the reign of Theodosius the Serapeum of Alexandria, a temple that had a collection of books, as temples often do, was burnt down by a political mob, that just so happened to be composed mostly of Christians, for political reasons. Alexandria was a hotbed of mob violence. Two political factions were going at it, the losing side sought refuge in the Serapeum, and the winning side burnt it down because it was a convenient way to eliminate their rivals.

This man has a PhD in art history, mind you. One would think (hope) that such a degree would require passing at least one actual history course. Anyone who has taken an introductory course in the late Roman Empire or early modern Europe knows these statements are false, so the only way a PhD history scholar could get these facts wrong is by deliberately telling lies.

Two pages later the author has to take yet another shot at Christianity and all other forms of belief other than atheistic materialism:
"The traditional notion of a flesh-and-blood resurrection remained unquestioned in Christendom for more than a millennium and a half. In retrospect, it is rather astonishing that such an improbable dogma could have dominated the minds of so many for such a long time. It stands as testimony to the imperialistic power of the Church and its sustained stranglehold on intellectual endeavor, a grip that only began to loosen during the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation. Even then, it was another 200 years before religious skeptics began to challenge the very basis of Christian faith, reviving voices that had been silenced since antiquity." (pages 5-6)
Here's an accurate artistic depiction of the author:

edgelord

The author, a couple paragraphs later, talks about how the works of Celsus and Porphyry were destroyed in great book burnings by evil Christians who did things for the evulz.

No. Pretend to be the historian your degree says you are. Books are made of paper, papyrus, parchment, and other perishable materials. 99% of everything that has ever been written has rotted away to dust and is lost. Some roving mob of evil Christians didn't have to go around burning books, those books are lost all on their own because of the ravages of time. We don't have any first hand accounts of the life of Alexander the Great, only third hand commentaries by people living 400 years later, not because someone was trying to erase him from history, but because books rot. If you want a book to survive it has to consistently be a best seller (or its pre-modern equivalent) for millennia. The only way books survive is because enough people thought they were interesting or significant enough to make copies, and then generations later people made copies of the copies, and that's why we have the works of Aristotle and Homer and the Gospels, because enough people thought they were interesting or important enough to preserve. Most books were not copied down because most books are crap to begin with. If, in 1,000 years, Thomas de Edgelord's masterpiece has been lost to history it's not because evil Christians burnt all his books, it's because his books are just crap and no one saw it necessary to print new copies. It's as simple as that. There's no need to resort to malice as an explanation when laziness will suffice.

De Wesslow's treatment of the Shroud from an artistic point of view is tremendous. He points out why the image on the Shroud is inartistic. No artist would have made an image like the image on the Shroud, putting the blood on the cloth first and then putting the image on top, using multiple different perspectives on the front and the back, depicting anatomy the way it would have been totally unknown by medieval and Renaissance artists, creating an image so faint that no one can see it up close in normal lighting and that only takes on its true greatness in photographic negative. The Shroud betrays itself as anything other than an artistic work. Pointing out why the Shroud cannot be a forgery de Wesslow's work is very good. The problem comes when he tries to mischaracterise Christianity. It's just like Richard Dawkins. Dawkins might be a brilliant biologist, but he's a piss-poor philosopher who does nothing but rehash arguments that have been refuted millennia ago.

I've written about this before when talking about the religious views of ancient people. Ancient people were not stupid. Ancient people were not stupid. Did the Greeks really believe the gods were people who sat on Mount Olympos doing all the crazy stuff in the myths? Probably very few did, but most were smart enough to see the truth of the stories. They were written as a way to get a point across about very complicated subjects in way that was easy to assimilate and remember. The gods are so obviously anthropomorphized versions of abstract qualities. Aries is unchecked rage and Athena is the rational mind that takes over in warfare, the two primary ways in which people fight. These are psychological qualities that are represented as people as a form of shorthand.

Ancient people knew a dead body is dead. They knew that better than we do, isolated as we are from the reality of death. First century Jews would not see a stain on a cloth and believe that the rotting dead body right next to that stain had miraculously risen and was immortal, and believe it so strongly that they were willing to be crucified, beheaded, tortured, burnt alive. No one is so stupid to believe in a risen Christ when they can see the rotting corpse just because they found a stain on a cloth.

And the author arrives at this conclusion by cherry picking the Gospels, which he will decry as unhistorical in one breath and then a sentence later quote mine for his retelling of history. Which is it? Are the Gospels unreliable or are they the very corner stone of his thesis? Both can't be true. De Wesslow spends two thirds of the book rewriting the Gospels in contortionist fashion to insert the Shroud in the place of the risen Christ, because we're all atheists now, we know miracles are fake.

Coming soon: Part Two: The Science

07 October 2017

How Obama Elected Trump

Victor Davis Hanson explains how Obama shifted the Democratic Party so far to the left that he alienated millions of poor people who previously tended to vote Democrat. Obama was so focused on his own image that he cost the Democrats hundreds of elections, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. Combined with nominating the nomination of the least likable person on the planet - Hitlery Roddamn Clinton - Obama virtually guaranteed a Republican victory in 2016.

27 September 2017

The Life of Jesus: The Three Kings

Ye may remember from The Life of Jesus how astronomer Michael Molnar was able to determine that Jesus was born on 17 April 6 BC using ancient Roman coins depicting the star pattern at the time. A conjunction of all the planets, especially Jupiter and the Sun in the constellation Aries, prompted the wise men from the Bible to go looking for the infant Jesus. Molnar, along with Egyptologist Bob Brier, reason that the wise men, or magi, were Parthian astrologers, and their skulls may have been discovered by Constantine's mother Helena and they may be kept in the Cologne Cathedral.

23 September 2017

The Case of the Gold Leaf Lady with Stephen E. Braude

Stephen Braude presents his research on the case of Katie, the Gold Leaf Lady -- an individual who experiences a metallic substance, similar to gold leaf, forming on and around her body. Chemical analysis has shown that the substance is actually brass. Braude goes into some detail explaining why he was able to rule out fraud in this puzzling case. He also describes Katie's other psychic gifts, including trance mediumship, xenoglossy, and clairvoyance. He also describes the psychodynamics behind the gold leaf manifestations.

22 September 2017

Table Levitation with Stephen E. Braude

Table levitation has been studied, at times, under quite good conditions, and provides good evidence of rarely seen macro-PK phenomena. Stephen Braude is even performing experiments today using modern scientific apparatus in full-light conditions. Commonly associated with Spiritualism, table levitation does not seem to provide good evidence for spirit interaction, but instead appears to be a psychokinetic effect produced by the living people present.

14 September 2017

The Crossing of the Red Sea

Hurricane Irma's incredible power drew all the water from this beach at Long Island in the Bahamas, leaving behind only dry land.

In the story of the Exodus, Moses raises his staff and the Red Sea (Yam Suph, sometimes translated as the Sea of Reeds) empties of its water. God caused the sea to recede with a powerful east wind (Ex. 14:21). The water was piled up in a great wall to the side of the dry land, and this phenomenon lasted long enough for allegedly 600,000 Israelites to cross. When the Egyptians followed in their chariots the wind stopped and the sea returned, drowning them.

This is exactly what was seen at the Bahamas, minus the drowning Egyptians. Hurricane Irma's powerful winds and low pressure caused a huge bulge of water in the center of the storm, draining the beach, and the beach was dry for many hours, apparently. When the hurricane hit land the huge storm surge caused tremendous waves to crash on shore and caused massive flooding.

The mechanism exists for a powerful wind (hurricane or other storm) to drain a shallow body of water long enough for people to cross, and for huge waves to arrive to drown masses of people. The narrative account exists that says that just such an event happened somewhere in Egypt over 3,000 years ago during the Exodus. You could argue that such an occurrence was purely natural, and that it was one hell of a coincidence, or maybe it really was a miracle, but the crossing of the sea is definitely plausible. We can't prove that it happened, but it definitely could have happened, and this is what it would have looked like.



09 September 2017

Millennials Are The Establishment

Unlike their parents, who rebelled against the establishment and proclaimed a love of free speech, most Millennials cling fervently to the establishment and proclaim free speech to be anathema to political correctness. Three decades of government propaganda "public education" as well as popular propaganda from the military-industrial-media complex have made Millennials the most conformist generation to date.