The Internet may be the most powerful democratic force in the world. Theoretically, every user has an equal voice. There are still a few problems, of course. Every once in a while a user encounters a seriously problematic idea. Send in the trolls.
A tweet I read by Lauren Dubinsky (wife of Max Andrew Dubinsky, whose hyper-creative multimedia is worth checking out) this morning said:
Two replies followed thus:
In the first reply, Gabriel Gadfly (surely his birth name) poses what seems like an honest question. Do homeless atheists, in general, feel uncomfortable receiving aid from faith-based support centers? We will get to his question in a moment.
Meanwhile, both Lauren and Godless Atheist have made claims.
Lauren’s claim is based on her personal experience on the ground. Personal experience is good, but can be misleading. It’s easy for me to have an experience that is counter to the norm. But if Lauren’s sample group was large enough, we’d say her claim is statistically safe. So, Lauren, you’re off the hook for now.
Godless Atheist’s claims are:
1) many religious groups force their religion on them in return for food
2) much of the support is state funded
You, the reader, have a choice. You can believe these at face value, or you can question them.
If these claims were made in an academic setting, these arguments wouldn’t fly because they completely lack evidence, are unspecific, and are logical fallacies. They aim to persuade through rhetoric rather than evidence.
We are not in an academic setting here, but that doesn’t mean we throw out our brains. It’s simple to see when someone is making a broad claim to change someone’s mind, but doesn’t have a sufficient basis to do so.
At best, Godless Atheist’s claims contain several logical fallacies found on this beautiful illustrated chart: 1) Appeal to Ignorance, 2) Appeal to Popular Belief, 3) Division (or Spotlight), and 4) Sweeping Generalization.
At worst, Godless Atheist saw an opportunity to stir up angry debate. For now, we will give him or her the benefit of the doubt, and deal with why this claim they’ve made is such a problem.
1) Appeal to Ignorance: In both claim 1 and claim 2, Godless Atheist has not given any evidence for, but has not received any evidence that points the other way. Their own ignorance plies our own ignorance until one of us becomes better informed.
2) Begging The Question/Red Herring: Because it’s a common thing for states to fund humanitarian work, it’s not a stretch to make, or believe, claim 2. But what is the author’s intent with this comment? Are they trying to undermine the work that religious groups do because funding comes from the government? This would be like saying the work of teachers doesn’t matter because the government funds schools.
3) Sweeping Generalization/Composition: Claim 1 applies the characteristics of one or a few of these “religious groups” on all of the religious groups. This is unfair. It’s equivalent to calling all American citizens pro-war, because of their government’s position and their military prowess. (This links with guilt by association)
4) Generalization: Use of the word “many” and “most”: these are vague and generalizing, and can steer evidence very poorly, in the same was as using superlatives like never or always.
5) Appeal to Emotion (Fear): Use of the term “force their religion”. A vague term to begin with, no definition, examples, or evidence has been given. Has Godless Atheist observed an instance of this which they can cite? Forcing religion, in this situation, seems to me to be a general statement expressing potential discomfort from encountered ideas that are foreign to a person. And this happens every single day.
6) Division/Generalization: If a religious group exists that does proselytize to needy people before they give them anything, that group would not be representative of the majority. It is completely unfair and untrue for Godless Atheist to use words like “most” in their claim.
So, let’s get back to Gabriel, who has been waiting patiently to have his question answered. If Gabriel is in earnest, can we find the answer to his question? Yes, we can! We will need to ask the only people qualified to answer: homeless atheists themselves.
But I’m pretty sure that if we do ask them (and there may be none, or very few, or very many), that they’re likely not going to all give us the same answer. I’d say it’s safe to assume that some will say yes, some will say no, and some will give a conditional answer.
But to further the discussion, why don’t pose a corollary? Do religious people feel uncomfortable receiving aid from non-religious organizations? Do religious people feel uncomfortable buying groceries from an atheist supermarket cashier or receiving tax breaks from secular governments? Sometimes it helps frame the nature of a question to think about its reverse.
If Gabriel’s question is not in earnest, it might instead be an incendiary comment meant to stir up debate on a completely unrelated topic, for example, whether religious groups oppress others.I chose to take some time out of my morning to respond to this discussion at the risk of feeding a troll, because I believe we can all do our part to make the Internet a place where good ideas are valued and fallacies aren’t simply let off the hook.
Twitter has taken the Education world by storm, but how to track all that’s going on? Here’s a beautifully laid-out guide to some of the best and brightest Twitter hashtags that will point educators and students to resources and tips.
- 10 Ways Teachers Can Use Twitter for Professional Development (educatorstechnology.com)
- 11 Tips on using #Hashtags Effectively on Twitter (blogs.position2.com)
Two powerful and intriguing thoughts, first from Sir James Jean, in his interpretation of the discoveries of physics:
Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the side of Physics approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.
And second from Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner:
It is not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.
As Dallas Willard, to whom I am indebted for these quotes, points out, the purpose of printing these quotes is not to interpret them further than is warranted, but to shed light on the intersection of a non-spatial, conscious or cognitive dimension with the dimension of physical matter, which for any person is a fascinating proposition with ramifications in areas such as possibility thinking, creativity, faith, and philosophy. I am grateful for those physicists who are daring and open-minded enough to make statements based on their research that cause the whole scientific establishment reason to rethink, innovate, and deviate from governing, even hegemonic strictures of belief and acceptability that may cross over into the unscientific.
Continuing in the vein of high-tech “graffiti”, is this interesting and quirky video on hydro-solar, or “water-light” graffiti by Antonin Fourneau and Digitalarti Artlab. The process uses LEDs illuminated by water contact.
Like a magic trick, this kind of graffiti is totally mind-boggling without an explanation.
First watch the video, then read the an excerpt from the story by The Atlantic below, and visit The Atlantic for the full read.
From The Atlantic:
“Art collective Sweatshoppe uses infrared tracking inside concrete rollers to ‘smear’ digital video over concrete surfaces with paint rollers.
They say: “As a new media artist I work with a lot of new emerging technologies, a lot of times just toying around with different things and putting them together to see what fits. When you’re creating art in this way you’re constantly faced with questions about art history and how different movements came about — in many ways the history and evolution of modern art has been dependent on the emergence of new technologies from the invention of oil paint to electronic sound and video and so on.
“The explosion in the popularity of street art proved how much painting on walls could be a powerful way to communicate ideas, so painting combined with projection and interactivity became an obvious choice.
“I work a lot with what is called computer vision software, algorithms that identify objects and track them with a live video feed. The software I wrote tracks the position of infrared LEDs inside the paint roller when they are turned on by the user, and tells the projector where to reveal the image. Essentially we have to line up the webcam with the video projection, and where ever the painter decides to stroke the image will appear, allowing you to paint with videos. Additionally we can paint layers of video to develop a narrative within the performance and create video collages.” (Interview with The Atlantic)
For the full story, visit The Atlantic
This is the word you are looking for if you want to describe a very real phenomenon you’ve observed about our world: the tendency for products to break down over a certain, almost determined, period of time.
Obsolescence, you see, is not just a coincidence. It’s intentional- a sly manufacturing policy so common that there is a term for it: planned obsolescence. It means designing a product with a limited useful life. Examples abound, as this trend is clearly visible in today’s manufacturing, whether cars, computers, batteries, or shoes. For industry, planned obsolescence encourages purchasers to buy again and buy sooner if they want to retain a functioning product.
Obsolescence doesn’t stop with actual physical breakdowns. Consumers are further manipulated by schemes run by everyone from Apple to Wal*Mart to Gucci to Ford Motors in which perceived obsolescence (older products being deemed less desirable [uncool] and in need of replacing with newer, cooler ones) rules advertising. Old is taboo, laughable. NEW is required, reasonable. NEW is the hook that draws the fish in. It’s why tens of thousands line up for hours to get the new iPhone on the day it comes out, as if they had been waiting on this moment all their life, desperate to find their long-gone fulfilment, to climb another makeshift step on the social ladder.
If you see through obsolescence it will probably piss you off. If you’ve identified it for what it really is, a grand marketing ploy that manipulates the beliefs and emotions of society to deepen the pockets of manufacturers and sellers, you’re not alone. You may no longer necessarily want to replace everything in your house from your phone to your car to your TV to your fridge. You may think yourself embarrassingly old fashioned to wonder if could just find something that lasts? Something that’s dependable?
Some manufacturers shun obsolescence more than others. One good example is this: It seems so archaic, today, but Moulton Bicycle Company still creates its bicycles by hand. I don’t know what the average life of one of their bicycles is, but the fact that they spend some 30 hours producing an average bicycle hints to me that obsolescence isn’t the name of their game. In true old English fashion, their pride lies in the quality and durability of their product. Some of their employees have been creating and assembling bicycles for decades. Working alongside them would be pretty inspiring, like apprenticing, alongside a master blacksmith, which is the image that came to mind when I watched this film. The film speaks for itself, and demonstrates the pride and love that can go into the creating of something another person is going to use, and for a long time, at that. Does it make a difference to you?
- Moulton Bicycle Company, Yesterday and Today (core77.com)
- This Short Film Shows English Eccentricity and Engineering at Its Best (gizmodo.co.uk)
- Moulton Bicycle Company – Made in England (freshnessmag.com)
This is an incredible display of high-quality creativity by realitat, using code to explore the interplay between sound and graphics. To the layman, writing code may sound stale, dull, and geeky, burgeoning images of nocturnal basement dwellers ingesting pizza while memorizing Elvish. Far from it, these projects make code look, sound, and feel alive, correlating sound and image in an absolutely mystifying way.// HACKPACT // Gráfica Sonora from realitat on Vimeo.
define( “HACKPACT” ) =
“1. Write some code each day for one month
// 2. Document your work
// 3. Share it” ;
Showcase of 20 brief experiments (sound machines) we coded during november (MMXI).
All of them explore the sound/graphic co-relation.
Built with Processing and almost all of the audio with SuperCollider
More info/detail about our codes here: realitat.com/HACKPACT
Or, if you want to check other coders’ work during the same hackpact go here: artegenerativo.laad.com.mx/artgen.html