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Go to: Two equally bad fallacies

Frying Pantheist's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Frying Pantheist

One thing that always annoyings me is when people are arguing for creationism, conspiracies or any other kind of "the official explanation is a lie" woo, they always seem to have this idea that whatever they are arguing for is somehow the default answer. So if they can come up with a problem that the person they're arguing with can't explain, or even something that just seems odd, then not only does this rule out the official explanation but whatever they are arguing for must be true, even if it does no better at explaining whatever it is they were talking about.

People who say the Moon landings were a hoax tend to be extremely bad for this. For example there is one argument about the plus sign-shaped markings on the footage. These were actually on the camera lens and should show up in every shot, but sometimes the astronauts can be seen walking in front of them - you can't explain that! Well, first of all, we can explain it - the white space suits showed up brightly in the pictures and make it hard to see the crosshairs - but suppose we couldn't explain it, what is your explanation? Were the crosshairs painted on the back of the set? Were the astronauts digitally added using a 1960's version of Photoshop? No explanation will ever be given, just the fact that it looks a bit strange is enough to clearly support the argument that it was all shot on a sound stage.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 16:20:57 UTC | #913097

Go to: Dear human...

Frying Pantheist's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Frying Pantheist

SMBC do videos too, I love their take on the "Teach Both Sides" argument.

Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:05:36 UTC | #850026

Go to: What would it take?

Frying Pantheist's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by Frying Pantheist

Comment 53 by KenChimp :

I'm with Carl Sagan on this one.

It would be convincing evidence for some sort of over-arching consciousness to the universe if we found an irrational number which, after the nth decimal place consisted no longer of a series of seemingly random digits to, say, binary digits (a sequence of 0 and 1). And the binary digits could be patterned in some way, say represented visually in a matrix which produced some image having a clear conceptual relationship to the irrational number in question.

I believe Sagain's Sci-fi classic "Contact" used Pi in this way.

To me, that would be incontrovertible proof that some sort of rational intelligence created the universe.

The problem with this idea is that, as an irrational number, the decimal expansion of pi goes on forever. In fact it is widely believed (although admittedly not proven) that pi is a normal number, i.e. every possible string of digits occurs within its decimal expansion, with the same frequency that you would expect from truly random numbers.

So, if that's true then it means that Sagan's suggestion of a series of zeroes and ones that look like a circle when properly formatted really does appear in pi, not just once but an infinite number of times. But it also means that there are an infinite number of instances of a string which, when converted into ASCII, reads "Copyright 13,700,000,000BC. SimUniverse, Pi, and ASCII are registered trademarks of GodCorp, all rights reserved." Plus an infinite number of copies of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" in wmv format, along with every other numerical string you could imagine and all the ones you can't.

Tue, 28 Jun 2011 19:08:43 UTC | #844020

Go to: Muslim 'scholars': Sea burial breaks sharia law

Frying Pantheist's Avatar Jump to comment 62 by Frying Pantheist

Comment 13 by TheRationalizer :

I'm sorry to sound like a conspiracy hypothesiser here, but here are my suspicions anyway

  • Bin Laden was killed a long time ago

  • Making people believe he was still alive meant the US could prolong their "war on terror" for as long as they wished, being made easier for American's to stomach by presenting Osama as the "evil" one that must be destroyed.

  • A faked audio tape now and again to reinforce the idea he is still alive and still making threats.

  • Timed release of old video footage, none of which indicated a date by presenting a newspaper or mentioning current events.

  • Then all of a sudden Osama's death is announced, resulting in the complete burying of news around the world relating to a failed illegal attempt at assassinating Gaddafi as part of an illegal regime change operation.

    So the question to ask here is when exactly did he die? If by "a long time ago" you mean sometime during the Bush administration then the conspirators scored a real own goal here, giving Obama the opportunity to claim victory. Why not announce that bin Laden had been killed sometime in 2008 and give a wave of goodwill that could potentially have secured victory for McCain? Furthermore the previously filibuster-proof Obama administration missed a clear opportunity by not just exposing the conspiracy right away; if they could show that a government run by their rival party had carried out a decption on this scale they could have ensured Democrat dominance for decades, and yet they apparently threw it away in exchange for the much smaller boost of claiming to have finally killed him.

    On the other hand, if you mean he died in the last couple of years then it runs into the problem that Osama's last video was released in August 2007, so the conspirators weren't doing a good job of maintaining him as a boogeyman. Also, I'm not sure why announcing his death now is any more politically advantageous than it would have been a year ago.

    Tue, 03 May 2011 20:18:51 UTC | #622688

    Go to: Jedi-ism, Britain's fourth-largest religion, is still going strong

    Frying Pantheist's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by Frying Pantheist

    Comment 20 by Confucius :

    In all seriousness, do we know if Jedi will appear as a tick-box this time, since it is now officially a religion?

    The idea that getting a certain number of people to write in "Jedi" would make it an official religion is an urban myth. The census is a data-gathering operation not an election, and the government is under no obligation to act in a particular way based on the results. Obviously, the information gathered by the census may end up influencing government decisions somewhere down the line, but for something that was so obviously a joke there is no reason for this to happen - it's not like building a Jedi temple is going to grab votes.

    The official response from the Office of National Statistics

    Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:26:49 UTC | #596702

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