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Comments by Skep

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 126 by Skep

Well, the use of the term 'we'll' for a start. This indicated that this was unrelated to comments made on here, which are made in an individual capacity.


Actually, no. "We'll" only indicated collaboration, not that the work or research is unrelated to this forum thread.

You have failed to prove that my comment was un reasonable. You can argue that the PM and subsequent response were not related to the thread, but that would be an after the fact clarification, not evidence that my post was anything other than based on reasonable inference.

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 11:52:00 UTC | #285713

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 121 by Skep

120. Comment #299758 by Corylus on December 10, 2008 at 11:11 am
avatarOh for pity’s sake. Enough with the paranoia, Skep.

Roger is well known as someone working hard to prevent the creep of creationism and pseudo-scientific BS in British schools – an extremely worthwhile aim.

I am sure he gets sent a great deal of information via pm about educational issues and people of interest – I am sure of this because I have sent him stuff myself.

The point of telling people they have a PM is if you want to be sure that they get it urgently (sometimes the notification can take a little time) and the mail is only seen if you go into your account and check


I think you mistake my point. I made no criticism of ShadesOfGrey for posting that he'd sent Roger a PM. That is pretty common practice. It was Rogers **public** and seemingly coy response to the secret content of the PM that I commented on, where he wrote:
shadesofgrey - thanks for the PM. It was a very valuable piece of evidence as to what is going on. We'll follow it up.


I'd call my post slightly speculative, not paranoid. Tell me how my post is unreasonable, based on what Roger wrote above. I responded:
here was no good reason for you to reply to a PM in the forum, except, perhaps, to coyly hint that the criticisms found in this thread are, perhaps, part of a conspiracy that you have now been secretly informed of and will investigate...or, so it might seem to the outside observer looking in.


Tell me, why don't you, how that comment is wholly without possible merit based on Roger's post, and why.

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 11:19:00 UTC | #285688

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 116 by Skep

116. Comment #299752 by Roger Stanyard on December 10, 2008 at 10:32 am
avatarSkep - grow up.


Hmmm...I seem to have touched a nerve...or in other words, no, there was no good reason for you to reply to a PM in the forum, except, perhaps, to coyly hint that the criticisms found in this thread are, perhaps, part of a conspiracy that you have now been secretly informed of and will investigate...or, so it might seem to the outside observer looking in.

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 10:41:00 UTC | #285679

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 114 by Skep

" 113. Comment #299749 by Roger Stanyard on December 10, 2008 at 10:21 am
avatarshadesofgrey - thanks for the PM. It was a very valuable piece of evidence as to what is going on. We'll follow it up. "


What odd machinations. Why are you responding to the secret contents of a PM, obliquely hinting at secret conspiracies, in the forum rather than just sending back a, you know, PM???

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 10:26:00 UTC | #285677

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 113 by Skep

107. Comment #299657 by Veronique on December 10, 2008 at 6:34 am...
Skep – why don’t you go somewhere else, you add nothing to RDF. It wouldn’t matter if you were reviewing sceptically; in fact you just knock everything. You have been told – well and often.


Hi, Veronique, are you taking time off from telling people "America. Love it or leave it!"? Perhaps not, but that is the kind of attitude you are promulgating, whereby you wish to categorically eliminate dissent, while, of course, excepting your own comments from such banishment on the same basis.

Your personal animus towards me is noted. I've been clear in my arguments. Showed my work, so to speak, saying exactly what my reasoning is. You are free to disagree with my thesis, that's how the dialectic works, but the suggestion to just go away because you disagree with my position is rejected.

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 10:21:00 UTC | #285676

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 104 by Skep

103. Comment #299401 by phatbat on December 9, 2008 at 3:01 pm
avatarI cannot believe anyone can find anything to object to in using "here be dragons" as either the title or in the program.

Even if there was only one example of a map ever that didn't even exist anymore, that said "here be [something made up]" then it would still be fine to use. It's just an example of giving a name to our ignorance.

I cannot even begin to fathom what the hell Skep is going on about. It's like he's being incredibly pedantic about something that you can't even logically be pedantic about cause it isn't even a minor fault, it's not a fault at all.

Strange.


It is called misrepresentation by implication. So, the video rolls. It says: "In ancient times, unexplored regions on maps would often be given fearsome legends like "Here Be Dragons" While literally true, you'd think that many maps would have the phrase "here be dragons" or the producer wouldn't have chosen it as a representative example--but, in fact, the example is atypical in the extreme and appears in only one known instance on any antique map. Is it a major fault? Probably not. Is it a good start to a video that purports to extol rigorous thinking and honest representation? Again, I'd say probably not. You may disagree.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 15:16:00 UTC | #285342

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 100 by Skep


99. Comment #299384 by decius on December 9, 2008 at 1:58 pm
avatarComment #299378 by Skep

Pretty much like those who judge books from their covers, or titles.


Sounds like blaming the reader for a misleading title deliberately chosen by the author. Nice try.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 14:01:00 UTC | #285325

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 97 by Skep


96. Comment #299347 by Caudimordax on December 9, 2008 at 1:15 pm
avatarYou folks keep quibbling about the dragon thing, but there are far more serious problems here. The dragon quote was unfortunate, but to me it is much more alarming that his prejudice causes him to dismiss anything that appears to him to be "new-agey" or "crunchy granola," and to assume that anything that hippy-dippy sorts are interested in must, by definition, be un-supported by any science.


No argument from me there. I'm just hitting on the dragon thing because it is literally the first thing out of the box. It wouldn't be much of an issue for anything else, the problem being when you purport to advocate critical thinking you are literally holding yourself up to a higher standard.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 13:45:00 UTC | #285316

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by Skep

91. Comment #299323 by chewedbarber on December 9, 2008 at 12:28 pm
avatarYes, let’s be specific. The problem with the argument presented by Skep is that it is a strawman.

The claim in the video is not that “Here be Dragons” is found on ancient maps often. The claim is that fearsome legends were often created to supplant a lack of knowledge.


You can certainly argue that side. Dunning did not explicitly claim many maps had "Here be Dragons"--nor have I ever claimed otherwise--but I do think the picked a non representative example and tried to imply that it was. I argue that doing so is a bad way to start a video supposedly advocating intellectual rigor.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 13:00:00 UTC | #285281

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 83 by Skep

82. Comment #299290 by decius on December 9, 2008 at 11:04 am
avatar

You haven't shown any errors, you just pulled crap out of your arse.


I don't even have to prove any errors to prove that apologists for Dunning would excuse them:

77. Comment #299277 by skyhook on December 9, 2008 at 10:39 am
So what if the video gets a few things wrong?

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #285233

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 81 by Skep

Comment #299284 by decius on December 9, 2008 at 10:51 am
avatarComment #299208 by Skep

What Chewedbarber said.

There is one surviving map with that phrase, yet the practice to include mythical creatures in cartography dates back to the Romans. No amount of spinning on your part will make this different.


I've never claimed other wise, but yes, one surviving map. I should have been more careful in my claim and said one known map.

Oh, look, **self correcting**. When I've made a demonstrable error, I **correct it**. Apologists for Dunning seem to think that errors are just fine as long as a video is free, and that to point them out is just whining. Well, the video is not a Goth club and advocating accuracy in a video that purports to advocate accuracy is called being consistent.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:03:00 UTC | #285227

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by Skep

Comment #299276 by chewedbarber on December 9, 2008 at 10:36 am
avatarHoly shit skep,

In ancient times unexplored regions on maps would often be given fearsome legends, like Here Be Dragons.

WTF? This dude is totally dishonest. I mean, that might be like one such example, but it's totally not representative of our tendency to create myth to satisfy our fears and questions about the unknown. Something like that would require another forty minutes of video.


I already addressed Dunning's "out" in post 26
http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,3403,Here-Be-Dragons---The-Movie,azsuperman01,page1#298813

What I've consistently claimed is that Dunning is using a non representative example as his exemplar and as if it was representative and common, it is not. And it isn't just a passing use. It is the core of the very thesis and even the *title* of his video. He falsely implies that maps commonly use the phrase "Here be Dragons" when no maps actually said that in English and, apparently, only one antique map ever in history used the phrase in Latin.

If you are going to make a video about exceptions to rules, fine use "Here be dragons," but if you are going to make a video about intellectual honesty, science and, say, accurate representation of representative examples, then, no, you should not pretend that "Here be dragons" is representative even though its theatricality is attractive.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 10:46:00 UTC | #285220

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by Skep

59. Comment #299050 by decius on December 9, 2008 at 3:28 am
avatarComment #298938 by Skep
Not on a single map, it was a common practice in ancient cartography - although hic sunt leones was more widely used than hic sunt dragones. This circumstance perfectly illustrates Dunning's point: we tend to misuse our imagination to fill the blanks in our knowledge. The cartographers who did contaminate their art and science by placing lions in the Arctic or dragons in Asia have left behind a ridiculous memento of our fallibility.

This premise, far from being a "dishonest implication", is a poetic and clever illustration of the argumentum ad ignorantiam, the logical fallacy which is the natural engine for most pseudo-science.


Yes, on single map. "Here be Dragons" is not, it seems, a phrase ever used on more than a single antique map--ever! Therefore it is atypical in the extreme and not representative. If dunning wanted to use a **representative** phrase he'd use one that had been used, well, more than once, say "Here are lions". But noooooo, being intellectually honest wouldn't be theatrical enough. "Here be lions" doesn't make the outrageous point he wants to make, so he cherry picks an atypical, only used once ever, phrase to use as the title and exemplar of his thesis. That's the kind of crap the **other side** does. A video that purports to teach proper critical thinking should be above such slight of hand, and your group think defense of it is, likewise, the kind of defense you will find used in service of the credulous.

Dunning's work lacks rigor. Others have excused his sloppiness claiming lack of funds is a reasonable excuse for such sloppiness. Nonsense. If he can't make a reasonable case for something in a video specifically purporting to provide education on **critical thinking** then the onus is on Dunning to omit the portions which fail such standards. To do less is to do a disservice to the message Dunning supposedly is trying to promulgate.

Tue, 09 Dec 2008 09:07:00 UTC | #285147

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by Skep

Criticise sure, but make them constructive. I suspect a bit more money and time would have helped…


I don't think anyone was seriously criticizing the **production values** of the video, but instead the same sloppy critical thinking / skepticism that Dunning sometimes exhibits in the podcast. That's not a money issue, but an ongoing issue with how Dunning works in general.

If somebody is going to make a video about critical thinking they can damn well be expected to exhibit the same. To hold them to a lower standard should be considered insulting.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 23:35:00 UTC | #284901

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Skep

51. Comment #298926 by HourglassMemory on December 8, 2008 at 9:46 pm
Brian Dunning belongs to a group of known internet skeptics that gathered around and made a pilot episode for a show they called the "The Skeptologists".
This is not that episode.
I'm surprised many of you just come out and say it's amateurishly done.
I applaud such efforts and they should be supported. even if just in a message


You were expecting uncritical credulous Hosannas from commenters on a Skeptic website? Hardly. I'd like to think we hold people to a high standard, one that we don't waive for so-called skeptics.

I mean, come one. Dunning based the premise and title of his "critical thinking" video on a phrase that appeared, apparently, on one single antique map in all the known world as if it is a representative phrase used on many maps. To start with such a dishonest implication is bad start. I'll not uncritically recommend videos or websites just because they claim to be skeptical--that kind of group-think credulity is the kind I hope we are fighting.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 22:26:00 UTC | #284881

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by Skep

EDIT: Oh yeah, I do yoga too. It's not placebo, you are actually doing stuff.


False. "Doing stuff" is not the criteria for whether something is a placebo or not.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 19:31:00 UTC | #284838

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Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Skep

Comment #298886 by Caudimordax on December 8, 2008 at 6:50 pm
avatar22. Comment #298763 by ukvillafan
25. Comment #298799 by Dhamma
26. Comment #298813 by Skep

Skep, I especially liked what you said - Dunning's message was a good one, but I thought he blew it in a few places. There were several instances of sloppiness:


And therein lies the problem. When you mix good data with bad data what do you have? Better data? No, what you have is worse data. More data, is not better data. Better data is better data.

When Dunning inserts poor claims into what should be an exemplar of critical thinking he creates a work that is sloppy and contaminated. It would (or should) be marked down even as a high school presentation. The correct fix is to apply the critical thinking he purports to espouse and edit out the unsupported claims, thus creating a sound presentation that not only discusses critical thinking but also exemplifies it. I have zero confidence that Dunning will perform such corrections because I do not think that Dunning has *objective* critical thinking skills at his disposal when it comes to his own work, but rather let's his considerable ego interfere with his objectivity and what should be rational self-criticism.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 19:26:00 UTC | #284837

Go to: Here Be Dragons - The Movie

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Skep

Did ancient maps really say things like "Here Be Dragons" **often** as Brian Dunning claims? Or is he starting his so called introduction to critical thinking with a specious claim of his own?

Let's check the wiki:

"The earliest and only known use of this phrase is in the Latin form "HC SVNT DRACONES" (i.e. hic sunt dracones) on the Lenox Globe[2] (ca. 1503-07). The term appeared on the east coast of Asia. Earlier maps contain a variety of references to mythical and real creatures, but the Lenox Globe is the only known surviving map to bear this phrase."


If the wiki is true then Dunning is the very thing he claims to debunk, and manages to be so even in the title of his video. Awful. Just awful.

Sure, you can argue that Dunning gives himself an out when he claimed "In ancient times, unexplored regions on maps would often be given fearsome legends like 'here be dragons.'" But using an example that is atypical in the extreme (one known instance) as if it is representative is dishonest, especially when used as the founding premise for a video that is supposed to be about accuracy, intellectual honesty and the scientific process. You can't teach critical thinking if you don't use it yourself.

Brian Dunning has some talent, but his sloppiness is not good for proper science or skeptical inquiry, nor does it serve well for public outreach. Perhaps he can do better in future if his ego will let him acknowledge his shortcomings and work to improve on them--but I hold little hope that should be the case.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 17:01:00 UTC | #284756

Go to: Turkey bans biologist Richard Dawkins' website

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 124 by Skep

" Janus on September 17, 2008 at 10:48 pm
Calling facts and opinions "defamation" is an extremely common Muslim tactic used to suppress criticism of themselves and their religion. "

Well, yes, facts and opinions can be defamatory to people, especially liars and cheats.

The trick lies in the defamation laws of a particular country. Today, usually something has to be defamatory and **false** to be actionable in a court of law as slander or liable, or knowingly and maliciously false and defamitory, but that wasn't alwayst the case.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 08:48:00 UTC | #236521

Go to: Ben Stein 1, Yoko Ono 0 in 'Expelled' copyright spat

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Skep

"Skep,
fair use decisions also depend on whether the artwork was used commercially or not. Also, his avatar is small size, which diminishes the use. "

Indeed, but **Fair Use** it is and without fair use, strong fair use, he would be in clear copyright violation.


Now, as to size. 15 seconds of a song is a short clip, but enough for the producers to contrast the song with their classless imagery--which is very much commentary. It makes a strong (and erroneous) statement--which is why Yoko objects to it so much.

Fair Use is complex and amorphous. Commercial or non commercial is not a sole factor, nor is this entirely a non commercial website site. You can see numerous commercial advertisements supporting the site. And, while the avatar image is small, it is also complete and not a small portion of the image. So strong fair use is only of benefit to " irate_atheist," who, perhaps, should spend more time thinking and less time being thoughtlessly irate.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 14:41:00 UTC | #178805

Go to: Ben Stein 1, Yoko Ono 0 in 'Expelled' copyright spat

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Skep

Comment #188078 by irate_atheist on June 3, 2008 at 7:48 am
The Judge is clearly a twat.

You use my image or my intellectual property in your film, you'd better get my permission for it.


Really? Whose photo are you using as your avatar? Could it be a stolen photo of Dougal from the Father Ted sitcom. Did you "get [their] permission for it?"

That "twat" judge is saving your butt from a copyright lawsuit. You should think your position vis-a-vis copyright through before spouting off like a clueless hypocrite.

Without fair use or de minimus use even a trivial copyright violation like your stolen avatar photo are actionable copyright violations. This ruing is in **your** favor even if you have yet to realize it. You probably use your fair use rights every day, from quoting text in a blog forum to format shifting to put your CDs on your iPod.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 14:12:00 UTC | #178802

Go to: Yoko Ono, Filmmakers Caught in 'Expelled' Flap

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Skep

I'm torn between my disire to see the Expelled liars get their comeuppance and my support for Fair Use. Depending on the context of the Imagine clip it may be reasonable fair use--and since reasonable fair use benefits us all, I would support their right to use the clip even though I don't support the producers of the film otherwise.


nt #162393 by tman on April 16, 2008 at 9:06 pm
First post!


I propose that anyone who's "First Post" is, in fact, not first must stop posting "First Post." I bet you honk your horn when driving through tunnels.

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 21:37:00 UTC | #154382

Go to: New Atheists Are Not Great

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by Skep

D'Souza calls atheists cowards. Not quite: They're like the man who perishes in a fire because he refuses to believe the net below will hold.


Yes, the invisible, faith-based net that all the previous victims fell through because it doesn't actually exist!

Tony Snow. Paid professional liar or self-deluded twit? Or both?

Mon, 17 Mar 2008 11:12:00 UTC | #137800

Go to: The Great Tantra Challenge

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Skep

Sanal Edamaruku is lucky that Pandit Surinder Sharma is an "honest" black magician and didn't try and secretly poison him. Of course anyone who would agree to kill someone for live TV can't exactly be trusted, whether or not they actually have the ability to do so.

Sun, 16 Mar 2008 11:31:00 UTC | #137203

Go to: Hitchens and Boteach Debate on God

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 156 by Skep

The Bishop on February 19, 2008 at 11:47 am
Too late! I have printed out your names and pictures, and set them up by my altar, so that I can remember you whenever I pray.


Hmm...That is pretty clearly idolatry, one of the Big Ten sins.

BTW, if you are Christian you are an atheist with regards to all gods but one:

http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/02/11/gods-we-dont-believe-in/

--and, of course, that is just a partial listing.

Wed, 20 Feb 2008 10:57:00 UTC | #123825

Go to: The Search for Truth, God and Braver Scientists in 'Expelled'

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Skep

@ Duff

Science looses these battles all the time because they are decided by mobs rather than science. 20 percent of Americans surveyed think the sun revolves around the earth. A super majority of people in the US believe in a personal god--i.e., science has already lost the battle in the US.

Sun, 17 Feb 2008 14:16:00 UTC | #122303

Go to: The Search for Truth, God and Braver Scientists in 'Expelled'

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Skep

The Fine Tuning Argument? Oh, please. Will Professor Stein now argue that noses were made to have spectacles and thus we have spectacles? Voltaire's Candide eviscerated the fine tuning argument in 1759.

Master Pangloss taught the metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology. He could prove to admiration that there is no effect without a cause; and, that in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of all castles, and My Lady the best of all possible baronesses.

"It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings. Stones were made to be hewn and to construct castles, therefore My Lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Swine were intended to be eaten, therefore we eat pork all the year round: and they, who assert that everything is right, do not express themselves correctly; they should say that everything is best."


via http://www.literature.org/authors/voltaire/candide/chapter-01.html

The whole fine tuning argument is silly. It is like asking a winning lottery ticket why the rules of the universe were set up expressly to allow for it's winning numbers to be drawn in spite of the odds against. What ever life formed in the universe was naturally going to be based on the laws of that universe, not the other way around, though Dr. Pangloss Stein would have you think otherwise.

Sat, 16 Feb 2008 23:38:00 UTC | #122057

Go to: Hitchens and Boteach Debate on God

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 127 by Skep

@129:

see #31

Fri, 15 Feb 2008 10:28:00 UTC | #121178

Go to: Debate between Richard Dawkins and Madeline Bunting

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Skep

Madine Bunting is wayyyyy too hung up on the idea that subjective opinions and feeling are "truths." We really should reserve the word "truth" for things that are factually true and not allow others to get away with declaring "alternate 'truths'"

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 14:43:00 UTC | #120669

Go to: Hitchens and Boteach Debate on God

Skep's Avatar Jump to comment 122 by Skep

@125:

I assumed he was referring to this (via Wikipedia):

Pork Crackling is the British name for the salted crunchy pork rind produced when roasting a joint of pork. The heat of the oven causes the fatty pork skin to dry, bubble up and become crunchy. The layer of fat underneath is retained, and can be eaten with the skin or removed. Some supermarkets now sell just the layer of skin and fat (no meat), in a raw form for home grilling or roasting.


...or as in the "crackled" pork rind snacks one can buy.

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 12:57:00 UTC | #120622