The ABCs of skepticism

By Phil Plait | March 30, 2009 4:06 am

A Poem Beyond Belief by Phil Plait

A is Ad hominem, attacks quite insulting,
They may feel good but no good is resulting.

B is for Bible, they swear it’s all true,
But which version’s right? The Muslim’s, Mormon’s, or Jew’s?

C is Creation, 6000 years past;
But when looked at the evidence is always half-assed.

D is Debunker, it’s said with a jeer.
But we cannot debunk without bunk, that is clear.

E: EVP, hearing voices of dead,
but it’s really just patterns of sound you are fed.

F: The Face that’s on Mars is really a butte,
Is there on the obverse a giant patoot?

G‘s Uri Geller, a spoon he will bend,
Is it magic or powers, or more likely pretend?

H, Homeopathy, infinite dilution,
Perhaps better known as persistent delusion.

I, Ideomotor, the dowser’s director,
It fallaciously points on a randomized vector.

J is Junk science, it’s always reforming,
from alt med to New Age, and anti-global warming.

K is for Karma, you reap what you sow,
but if it’s not coincidence, then how would you know?

L‘s Levitation, they claim that they float
but I think it’s just bouncing they’re trying to promote.

M: Mayans said: doom in Twenty Oh Twelve,
In 2013 those predictions we’ll shelve.

N is Nibiru, a planet of vapor,
It never shows up but it looks good on paper.

O: Oxygen water, marks can’t get their fill,
What they don’t understand is that they don’t have gills.

P: Faces in patterns is called Pareidolia,
In clouds it’s mundane but in pastry it’s holier?

Q is for Quacks, their science is lacking,
They’ll sell you snake oil with the government’s backing.

R: Repressed memories, bad things you’ve forgotten,
But it’s really the premise behind it that’s rotten.

S: Sylvia Browne, who randomly guesses,
That people believe her is why it depresses.

T‘s for Trudeau, and the trash that he’s sellin’,
But credit card fraud? FTC: "He’s a felon."

U, Unidentified, the definition’s specific,
But it doesn’t stop cranks thinking they’re scientific.

V is Vaccines, which clear germs up quick,
But some folks don’t like them, they fight little pricks.

W‘s for Woo-woo, Randi’s favorite word choice,
And who’ll argue with him? He gave us our voice!

X is for Xenu, scientologist’s Satan,
Give us all of your money, your engrams we’ll straighten.

Y is for Yeti, the Bigfoot, Sasquatch,
A whole lot of nonsense without a single hair swatch.

Z is for Zetans, those E.T. mind readers,
But they disappeared as they followed the Lieder.


Now you know your ABCs,
Don’t fall prey to fallacies.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, Skepticism

Comments (119)

  1. Tony

    Awesome poem! What a great way to start my morning!

  2. John Phillips, FCD

    A cool little ditty that is quite funny, until you think about it that is. Then it just gets depressing.

  3. Madge

    I love this! It must have taken ages to think it all up!

  4. Icepick

    That’s great, Phil. Who gets the credit?
    Are you the witty genius that penned the verse?

  5. Brian Schlosser, Lurker

    Bravo! Reminiscent of Edward Gorey!

    I like “F” the best… Would Olympus Mons qualify?

  6. MadScientist

    Brilliant .. and it reminds me so much of my Dr. Seuss days. Who wrote it?

  7. Nimrodd

    “M: Mayans said: doom in Twenty Oh Twelve,
    In 2013 those predictions we’ll shelve.”

    Oh man, I thought the doomsday was only 3 years away, not 18,003 years away.

    Twenty Oh Twelve is 20012.

  8. Cory Meyer

    I think I see someone is earning a Poet Laureate.

  9. J_w23

    Brilliant Phil! Too bad christmas was 3 months ago, It would have made quite an impression.

  10. RNB

    It’s excellent. Apologies in advance for preaching or self-promotion or evangelism or advertising or whatever other insult about to be thrown, but there is a little bit of a common theme to this post here: http://tinyurl.com/c598m6

  11. StevoR

    LOL! THX! Good ‘un! :-)

  12. mapnut

    “The ABC’s of Skepticism” – I’ve been thinking for some time of questioning why you and your allies define yourselves as skeptics. It’s a morally neutral term, and in fact works both ways – for example, global warming skeptics and evolution skeptics. In fact, isn’t a skeptic more likely a person who doesn’t believe the prevailing wisdom? You’re not a “skeptic” when you know you’re right and can back it up.

    “Debunker” works much better.

  13. StevoR

    Alternatively :

    M is for Moon hoax
    As true as green cheese
    Think NASA are liars well geez sheesh, oh puh-leez!

    &

    A is for Aldrin
    with one mighty punch,
    he decked a denier, we all owe him lunch!

    H is for Hoagland
    the silly old fool
    whatever he’s smoking, its made him uncool!

    S is for Stein
    whose film was ‘expelled’
    its logic dishonest & yikes it sure smelled!

    P is for Phil Plait
    Whose website sure rocks
    Its where all the kooks get their cases all knocked! ;-)

    I’m sure I can come up with more too … :-)

  14. StevoR

    E is electric.m, the Universe NOT!

    D is dishonest, the trolls & their rot

    P is for poe, so many posters are so, but what is the difference, its soclose y’know!

    T is for trollers there’s so many about, yet all they can do here is rant, rave and shout!!!

    I is for intertoob, a venue supreme for gemstoens and nonsense, itcan can be a scream!

    E is for editing, needless to say, please can’t we have it here, oh please Phil today?! ;-)

  15. StevoR-Correcting

    Take II – corrected version :

    E is electric, the Universe NOT!

    D is dishonest, the trolls & their rot

    P is for poe, so many posters are so,
    but what is the difference, its so close y’know!

    T is for trollers there’s so many about,
    yet all they can do here is rant, rave and shout!!!

    I is for intertoob, a venue supreme
    both for gemstones and nonsense, it can be a scream!

    E is for editing, needless to say, please can’t we have it here, oh please Phil today?!

    & again

    E is for edittin y’see what Imeen! ;-)

  16. Erik

    If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t it an ignorant interpretation of the Mayan calendar that led to the 2012 nonsense? I’m pretty sure they didn’t make any specific predictions.

  17. I resent being grouped with ‘alt med and new-age’. Examining the data behind ‘global warming’ is just good science, and good skepticism!

  18. !AstralProjectile

    M is for Morehouse, “Coloniel” David Allen
    The hubris of Sunstreak is what I find gallin’

    (At least this namesake clown got me reconnected with Randi and the rest of the skeptical community.)

  19. Kevin

    This goes right next to my Carl Sagan Baloney Detection Kit.

  20. I is for Israel the last sacred cow
    Brutal and evil, well man are they how!
    Their creed is just nonsense yet goes without crit
    Coz any truth telling, they claim anti-Semit!

    J is for Judaism, the religion of race,
    That goes under the radar yet gets in your face
    A beleif system genocidal,
    “Promised land” they do say,
    So “Lets us, the great Jews, kill all in our way!”

    G is for Gaza,
    The proof of above,
    Our children and women killed, enough is enough!

    P is for Palestine, mandate of mine
    Let its people free now and get what is thine!
    Not 20 percent of our own nation’s land
    but the whole thing entirely, be the Zionists dammed!

    S is for Shoah, excuse of the Jews,
    “Some killed us once long ago so now lets kill you!”
    Its rather pathetic and frankly quite sad
    Those Nazi’s they made them and gave them this land
    Yet the Jews aren’t ungrateful they’ve turned Nazi’s too
    Still killing the Semites now just not the Jew
    Cause Arabs are also Semitic y’know,
    So irony piles up, bitter and slow.

    Z is for Zionist
    Israel’s cause, of genocide, slaughter and woe unto all
    How can America, the US of A,
    Be so durn stoopid as to get fooled in this way?
    So many Americans for Israel die!
    Must you constantly fall for the Zionist lie?
    Cause Palestine has its people too – that you must know,
    Non-Jewish, indigenous, why should *they* go?
    Look at it this way, oh WHY, man oh why?
    Sure Jewish money and power is huge,
    But 5 % of your people to rule?
    You fight all of Islam on their wicked scheme
    Americans dying for Israel’s dream,
    But when it is finished, in fire it ends
    Doomed are the Jews and the states that they bend!
    If you are wishing for World War Three
    Its where the Jews take you in their foul glee!

    A is for Amalekite, truth speaker – not troll,
    Though Jews gnash their teeth and deny what is told.

    F, incidentally, is for freedom of speech. You claim to respect it. How you treat my post here is evidence as to whether or not your claim to respect freedom of speech and expression is valid or otherwise.

    —–

    Amalekites : A Semitic tribe that fell victim to a Jewish campaign of genocide against them. As the Jewish Encyclopedia put it, “David waged a sacred war of extermination against the Amalekites,” who may have subsequently disappeared from history. King Saul was supposedly stripped of Jehovah / Yahweh’s favour and the Kingship for showing mercy and sparing an Amalekite’s life. The term has been used … to refer to certain types of enemies of Judaism … Jewish ultra-rightists compare the Palestineans to Amalekites. Eg. Rabbi Israel Hess claimed once that Palestineans are Amalekites. The concept has been used by hassidic rabbis (particularly the Baal Shem Tov) to represent the rejection of God, or Atheism.

    Click on my name for more.

    **********

    “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    ‘Since it is impossible to coerce thought, the way to social harmony is to discuss conflict and pursue truth; the more people speak their minds freely, the more they are likely to be loyal citizens.’
    – B. Spinoza, athiest formerly Jewish Dutch 17th Century philosopher.

    “ I am not in actual fact a Zionist. I don’t think that Jews have some sort of ancestral right to take over a land because their ancestors lived there 1,900 years ago. … Nor do I consider to be legally valid the biblical promises by God that the land of Canaan would belong to the Children of Israel forever.”
    – Isaac Asimov, Pages 419-421, ‘ I Asimov : A memoir’, Chapter 7 : ‘Anti-Semitism’, Bantam Books, 1995.

  21. UmTutSut

    >F, incidentally, is for freedom of speech. You claim to respect it. How >you treat my post here is evidence as to whether or not your claim to >respect freedom of speech and expression is valid or otherwise.

    Yeah, well, it’s also Phil’s blog, and we play according to his rules. Antisemitic drivel like this doesn’t belong in it.

    And no, I’m not Jewish; I’m a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist.

  22. Brian Schlosser, Lurker

    P is for Property, as in “Private”, not yours
    Those who say “free speech” applies are just boors

    T is for Troll, a laughable creature,
    Who says of post deletion “Thats a bug, not a feature!!”

  23. From the wikipedia link :

    “Of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) followed by Orthodox Jews, three refer to the Amalek:” including one ” … to destroy the Amalekites utterly.”

    The rabbis derived these from Deuteronomy 25:17-18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Sam. 15:3. Rashi explains the third commandment :

    {Kill all Amalekites} “From man unto woman, from infant unto suckling, from ox unto sheep, so that the name of Amalek not be mentioned even with reference to an animal by saying “This animal belonged to Amalek”..

    I wonder :

    Do people who support Judaism and Israel’s occupation of Palestine truly realise what they are supporting :

    – a group that claims its bunch of tribesmen alone were chosen by some racist tribal war god?

    – a group that is thinks god (Yahwah-Jehovah-whatever) ordered them to mercilessly exterminate entire other peoples incl. fellow Semites and which has rejoiced in doing so with bloodthirsty glee throughout their history yet hypocritically howls at any attempt to do unto them as they’ve done & still seek to do unto others?

    – that is currently engaged in apartheid-style racist policy and genocide against the indigenous Palestinean population of the Palestinean mandate which was wrongfully dispossessed under a British colonial-Zionist conspiracy based on the lie of “a land without people (False : Palestine already had its people thankyou very much!) for a “people without land.” (Again false, the wealthy Jews owned a lot of land – In * Europe * where they’d flourished – often at the expense of the locals – for over a thousand years.)

    This isn’t anti-Semitic but simply the truth. For one things people please note :

    THE PALESTINEANS *ARE* SEMITIC TOO!

    Which makes Israel ironically enough, an anti-Semitic state itself. And Israelis and their supporters hypocritical anti-semites themsleves.

    That this reality is unpalatable to the fundamentalist Jews and extremist rightwing Israelis is not my fault but the stark reality.

    The Jewish tactic of abusing any critics as supposedly being “anti-Semitic” (or if Jewish as “self-hating Jews”) & screeching on about a past brief Holocaust they suffered (when in fact many other peoples such as the Russians, Chinese and Indigenous Peoples around the globe have suffered far worse, for far longer and gained far less, if anything, from it.) has been undeservedly successful in stifling criticism for far too long.

    It is long overdue that these sad excuses which the Israeli lobby ceaselessly yells are no longer accepted as a means to end any & all justified criticism of the military-theocratic apartheid Jewish state.

    Incidentally, I am NOT calling for violence of any sort & absolutely reject the neo-nazi fools who unplug their brains to yell “heil Hitler!” I also accept that the Shoah (Jewish Holocaust) happened – only as pointed out here, it has been over-hyped and used for political propaganda and exploited unethically by the Jews ever since. And besides it does NOT give the Israelis any right to commit crimes against humanity against others – esp. NOT against others like the Palestineans who are blameless in causing the Shoah. :-(

    I claim my right here to freedom of speech and expression and call on all who will, no doubt, furiously throw ‘ad hominem’ attacks at me to try thinking about the truth of what I’ve actually said rather than blindly adopting the Neo-conservative Israeli lobby line on an issue most Americans actually know very little about. Do your research. It will show I’m right.

  24. Janet Strath
  25. Very clever. Where are the cartoon pictures to go with each letter?

  26. @ UmTutSut :

    Yeah, well, it’s also Phil’s blog, and we play according to his rules. Antisemitic drivel like this doesn’t belong in it.

    What I’ve posted is neither “drivel” nor “antisemitic” just fact. That reality is unfriendly to a form of racism (judaism) masquerading as a religion should also be neither surprising nor considered unreasonable to point out.

    Oh and your name is NOT Dr Phil Plait.

    @ Brian Schlosser, Lurker :

    P is for Property, as in “Private”, not yours
    Those who say “free speech” applies are just boors

    No, they’re not. What Salman Rushdie claims I claim too. If its okay here to criticise Islam and Christinity (& it clearly is) why is it “verboten” (forbidden) to put Judaism under the same unfriendly microscope of skeptical thinking? If the truth about Judaism is an ugly one (& it clearly is) why must this fact be censored?

    This blog also is a public one NOT private property. It is open for reasonable comments from anyone & as noted I’m no troll only someone willing to state a truth and a perspective that all too few of you are willing to hear. :-(

    It is, however, an important thing that you do hear me out and truly *think* about the grim reality of the Palestineans situation because it affects the whole planet and our collective future.

    So please lurker, just try and open your mind and really think for once.

    T is for Troll, a laughable creature,
    Who says of post deletion “Thats a bug, not a feature!!”

  27. T is for Troll, a laughable creature,
    Who says of post deletion “Thats a bug, not a feature!!”

    L is for Lurker
    Who plays not a part
    All he can argue, it seems is a f***

  28. Incidentally, I do belive I am posting by Dr Phil Plait’s rules.

    If the Bad Astronomer *personally* tells me otherwise then I’ll listen.

    However, I do believe that what I’ve said here is true and important and should not be ignored – even though it may be painful to the overly delicate, too easily offended sensitivities of a bunch of racist Jews who refuse to see how cruel and repellent their own religion and apartheid military-theocratic state actually is.

  29. Mushroom

    A is Ad hominem, attacks quite insulting,
    They may feel good but no good is resulting.

    One of my pet hates at the moment is people confusing argumentum ad hominem with insults. Don’t fall into the same trap! This would be an ad hominem argument: “Phil Plait says the Moon landings weren’t faked, and he’s brilliant”.

    PS hope the html tags work ok here. No preview button, so I can’t tell!

  30. Oh & have I pointed out yet that the core, key defining premise of Judaism is iredeemably, intrionsically racist?

    Ie. that the Jews are gods “Chosen people” with a right – indeed a divine order to committ gemnocide togain their supposedly “promised land” where other peoples (Canaanites, Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, Jebusites, Philistines, Palestineans etc ..) are already living.

    In all truth, Judaism is not really a religion so much as an ethnic race cult. What other legitimate religion is defined as being inherited from your mothers side?

  31. That’s :

    have I pointed out yet that the core, key defining premise of Judaism is iredeemably, intrinsically racist?

  32. & that’s :

    Ie. that the Jews are gods “Chosen people” with a right – indeed a divine order to committ genocide to gain their supposedly “promised land” where other peoples (Canaanites, Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, Jebusites, Philistines, Palestineans, etc ..) are already living.

    with typos corrected.

  33. Gary Ansorge

    JT Justman

    “,,,examining the data,,,”

    Do you mind delineating the data(with references) to which you object?

    Be specific and succinct.

    GAry 7

  34. Daffy

    Amalekite ,

    Why didn’t the Arabs give the Palestinians an independent homeland before 1948?

    Because they didn’t want to…Arabs killing Arabs is hardly unusual. Having Israel as a scapegoat is the ONLY thing uniting the various tribes; that’s another fact for you. If Israel went away, you would see bloodshed on a much larger scale, I have no doubt. I wonder who you would blame then?

    And I am neither Christian, Muslim, or Jew. I am a Taoist of Irish/Scottish decent. I wonder where that fits in your hate filled thinking?

  35. TSFrost

    “what I’ve said here is true and important and should not be ignored”

    True? Maybe. Important? Not really all that much. There is a long history of different religious factions hating one another. Same with different races and nationalities. We Americans tried to eradicate the indians. Should we living today be held accountable?

    What do you hope to accomplish by all this ranting? Most on this list already agree that religion has properly mucked up most of our history, which is why we’re speaking out against all of it.

  36. A. Bakker

    P is for politics, always good for a fight
    But perhaps somehere else than on an astronomy site

  37. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    @Amalekite: Racist or not, your comments do qualify as political screeds, which are entirely out of place here.

    ‘Nuff said. I shall now proceed to ignore Your Trollship.

  38. eva

    Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion

  39. eva

    and the Mayans did not say it was “the end”…it’s a “change”…

    M is for “metaphor”
    That skeptics abhor……

  40. Brian Schlosser, Lurker

    Oh my, I have attracted the ire of an anonymous wack-a-loon troll… My day is complete, and I can rest easily tonight.

    From the man himself: “I’ll also note that I have but one single commenting policy on this blog: don’t be a jerk.”

    For what its worth, I have no gripe with the palestinians. I support a two-state solution. Critiscism of Isreali political actions is not Anti-semitism. Fine.

    BUT, Mr Amalekite, what you’re posting IS off topic, it IS troll behavior, and it IS a waste of good electrons. This is a science/astronomy/skeptic blog. Religions get ragged on here when they stick their noses into science. I have no doubts that Dr. Plait would rightly dogpile on any Judaic anti-science nonsense, were it to show up.

    So… yeah. Stop being a jerk, you’ve got the rest of the internet to play in.

  41. i realize it fit for metre, Phil, but Zen Buddhists have no “sacred text” and no bible.
    …although I am quite fond of quoting some of the Buddha’s (who was a human, not a god) sayings…such as this….
    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” –Buddha

  42. Daffy

    “What do you hope to accomplish by all this ranting? Most on this list already agree that religion has properly mucked up most of our history, which is why we’re speaking out against all of it.”

    Well said.

  43. TS

    Æ er for alt det Ævl vi skal høre om alternative behandlingsmetoder.

    Ø er for alt det astrologi Øregas der dagligt bliver bragt i aviserne.

    Å er for … øøøøhhhh…. Åh nej, jeg kan ikke finde på mere at skrive.

    :-)

  44. Gary Ansorge

    Alice:

    ,,,or, as my old great-grand-mother used to say,” Believe nothing of what you hear and only 10% of what you read and you’ll probably do alright,,,”

    I wonder if she was a closet Buddhist??

    Gary 7

  45. Zippy the Pinhead

    I recently saw the excellent NOVA program “Extreme Ice”. There was a quote that bugged me quite a bit since there was no explanation of what they meant: “In the past, the cycles of ice ages and periods of warming were caused mainly by shifts in the earth’s orbit around the sun.” The word “shifts” bugged me since it could imply something sudden and unpredictable, rather than what they actually mean which is a predictable and natural variation of orbit (I had to look it up: Milankovitch Cycles).

    This is the kind of statement that climate denialists latch on to and take out of context.

    See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/extremeice/program.html chapter 1, the quote is a bit more than half way through chapter 1 just after Richard Alley speaks.

  46. WeirdFish

    Male Kite: nobody cares here. You’re off-topic, and you’ve already lost your argument before it began by at least three counts:

    1) You brought in Nazis. Anyone on the IntarWebz knows that the first mention of Nazis to support an argument immediately loses. It’s kind of like that “well…. NICE HAIR!!!” comeback. It’s too easy and doesn’t require any thought or creativity.

    2) You committed apostrophe abuse. At NO time is an “apostrophe-s” used to pluralize anything, even if a word ends in a vowel or is an acronym.

    3) You put up the “freedom of speech” defense as a preemptive strike, which means you were sitting safe behind your keyboard with defensive salvos ready to launch at everyone you’re poking at. You KNEW you were going to provoke a negative response and latched onto “freedom of speech” before anyone else could jump you. “Freedom of speech” is not a guarantee required of private organizations or individuals.

    All of these combined render your arguments meaningless. Placed in the proper forum and context, you might have provoked some dialog, but all you’re really doing is throwing a tantrum. That prevents anyone from caring about WHAT you say and focus instead on HOW you’re saying it.

    But unfortunately, since a whole lot of people are paying attention to you like a petulant child, I suppose that’s one victory in your favor. Okay, I’ll recalculate. You lose by two instead.

  47. and the Mayans did not say it was “the end”…it’s a “change”…

    M is for “metaphor”
    That skeptics abhor……

    I love metaphors, just not nonsensical drivel that modern people seem to believe in. Oh, and a metaphor for what exactly? Perhaps a dictionary would do you good.

  48. David

    BTW, buddhists don’t believe in creation. We believe in cause and effect, which assumes that there is no beginning or end to conventional existence.

    For more info check out http://buddhanet.net/ specifically http://buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda03.htm on buddhist view of theism and and the origin of the universe.

    Thanks.

  49. LukeL

    It never fails to amaze me how much antisemitism still prevails, yet now they call it antizionism. It is a potato potahto arguement. Amalekite you sound like Louis Farakhan who called Judaism a “gutter religion” your comments are also mysoginst in context.

  50. brad tittle

    Just don’t get so carried away with identifying the fallacy that you fail to recognize the intent.

    This can result in identifying statements as fallacies because you applied the wrong logic to identifying the fallacy.

    While the crank on AAGW are a little extreme, there are serious people trying to get people to recognize the fundamental problems with AGW. They get shouted down by the AGWers though. We aren’t being rounded up and put into camps yet, but there have been people suggesting that we should be, to save the world.

    Phil complained that the negative aspects of the AAGWers weren’t being debunked by places like CA. Why aren’t the AGWers debunking their own also!

  51. BILL7718

    I hope someone will read through all those comments to get to my question way down here. I read through all the letters of the alphabet and agreed with them all except the global warming one. I’ve been hearing from both sides of the global warming debate via media (this blog, radio, etc) that science is on their side. I heard someone say the other day that the earth has been cooling for the last decade or so, so it seems like global warming is bunk. But I also hear Phil, who is clearly all about the science, say that anit-global warming is bunk.

    Now, not being a scientist myself, I would have a hard time looking at data and coming up with my own scientific opinion of it. So, my question to all of you that made it past the comments above, where can I find information about the science that I can understand, but that still shows what is really going on?

    Thanks! I’ll come back here tomorrow and search for “global warming” to try and skip past certain comments that don’t interest me. =)

  52. John
  53. WeirdFish

    My first question to “I heard someone say the other day that the earth has been cooling for the last decade or so, so it seems like global warming is bunk” would be “who said it, what evidence did they provide, and how did they provide it?”

  54. Mushroom

    mapnut:

    “The ABC’s of Skepticism” – I’ve been thinking for some time of questioning why you and your allies define yourselves as skeptics. It’s a morally neutral term, and in fact works both ways – for example, global warming skeptics and evolution skeptics. In fact, isn’t a skeptic more likely a person who doesn’t believe the prevailing wisdom? You’re not a “skeptic” when you know you’re right and can back it up.

    “Debunker” works much better.

    To my mind, the word “skepticism” used without context denotes a mindset rather than a position on a particular issue. It’s the view that claims should be backed up by solid evidence and reasoned argument, and open to criticism, whether those claims are well-established parts of the scientific consensus, far-out speculation, or somewhere in between. It’s also the recognition that all empirical knowledge is tentative, and subject to change in the face of new evidence. It’s the attitude that you should subject your own beliefs to scrutiny, and actively seek out evidence and arguments against them.

    It’s perfectly legitimate to, say, be a skeptic and speculate that Bigfoot might one day be found, so long as you’re open about the fact that the current evidence is weak, and so long as you’re comfortable with being proved wrong. Equally, I don’t agree that ‘You’re not a “skeptic” when you know you’re right and can back it up’ – if you know you’re right because you’ve looked carefully at the evidence and haven’t found anything that contradicts your view, and back it up with that same evidence, then that is the proper attitude of a skeptic (naturally, you’re always open to new evidence changing your mind).

    I was going to quote from Wiki, but apparently the history of philosophical skepticism is more complicated than I’d imagined. Still, the article on scientific skepticism is broadly in line with what I’m saying.

    Skepticism is an essential part of science, but science has no monopoly on it – it’s also an essential part of any empirical field, and of everyday life. I don’t like the term “debunker” at all – a debunker has taken the a priori position that what they’re attacking is bunk, and seeks to prove it. Keeping an open mind, while applying proper scrutiny to somebody who is trying to make a case for something, is a far better way to get at the truth, and to persuade others that the view you arrive at is correct. Look at the way the JREF treats applicatants for the million-dollar challenge: despite their long experience of delusional or fraudulent psychics, and their strong reasons to believe that no applicant will ever be successful, they are scrupulously fair to all, proposing a valid, skeptical, scientific protocol for the testing of each new claim, and never expressing disbelief in the applicants’ powers.

    Of course, anyone can assent to these worthy principles in the abstract. Judging whether someone has actually applied them properly will always be somewhat subjective, which is why ID creationists believe they are applying proper skepticism to evolutionary theory. They have a hard time persuading anyone who isn’t already committed to creationism, of course.

  55. Mushroom

    To BILL7718 – check out realclimate.org. I don’t read it myself but I hear it’s good. Oh, and here’s the phrase “global warming” so this comes up in your search ; )

  56. Rebisaz
  57. What an ironic blog entry.

  58. B is for Bible, they swear it’s all true,
    But so does the Muslim, and Buddhist, and Jew…

    Slightly better?

  59. Actually it sounds to me a lot like a poem on my website (not by me though, I’ll admit) called “The A-Z of the Piano” by Nicholas Lumsden. The metre is the same, but the subject matter is different.

    http://www.herring.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/poetry/azpiano.htm

  60. Amalekite,

    As someone with actual friends in Gaza, let me tell you that you’re not helping your cause by crazy ranting. I absolutely and whole-heartedly support the Palestinian people and denounce Operation Cast Lead. I do not do so by injecting it into unrelated conversations. This makes you a nuisance and a bore. Get out.

    He ruined a perfectly good high from reading your poem, Phil.* Grumble* *Grumble*

    It’s a pity you didn’t mention cold fusion, it’s been making a bit of a comeback.

  61. alex

    Whoever think sasquatch is nonsense, i think your in for a rude awakening

  62. TheBlackCat

    I heard someone say the other day that the earth has been cooling for the last decade or so, so it seems like global warming is bunk.

    This is actually an excellent example of how dishonest global warming deniers are. In 1998 there was an el nino year, basically a year with anomalously high temperatures. It was significantly cooler the year before and after. If you look at the plots of temperature over the last couple of decades it is fairly smooth trend, with a huge spike in 1998 and then immediately returned to the previous warming trend, which has continued ever since.

    Global warming deniers love to cherry-pick that one 1998 data point to “prove” that the world is actually getting colder. They pick one unusually warm year, and then compare that year to all later years. They complete ignore the actual trend, completely ignore that there is a well-known reason why that year was unusually warm. It is blatant cherry-picking of evidence. It don’t know what else to call it but intentional dishonesty. It is like using the height of Robert Wadlow, who at nearly 9 feet tall was the tallest man in recorded history, as the basis for comparing heights in order to prove that all basketball teams are made of midgets. Cherry picking one anomaly does not disprove the trend.

  63. QUASAR
  64. I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, and I’m sure Amalekite will probably discount anything I say as a lie because I happen to be Jewish, but…

    @Amalekite Said:
    Oh & have I pointed out yet that the core, key defining premise of Judaism is iredeemably, intrionsically racist?

    Ie. that the Jews are gods “Chosen people”

    Show me any religion that doesn’t define themselves as being chosen in some way by their deity. In fact, it’s a common joke among Jews that – given the persecution Jews have faced over the past few thousand years – we wish that God would choose someone else for awhile.

    with a right – indeed a divine order to committ gemnocide togain their supposedly “promised land” where other peoples (Canaanites, Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, Jebusites, Philistines, Palestineans etc ..) are already living.

    The command that you are referencing (to massacre the native population of the “promised land”) was an ancient one and no serious Jewish authority would consider it to apply to situations today. (You might find some fringe rabbi who says it applies, but fringe groups exist in all religions.)

    In all truth, Judaism is not really a religion so much as an ethnic race cult. What other legitimate religion is defined as being inherited from your mothers side?

    So it wouldn’t be a cult if you were counted as entering the religion by your father being part of the religion? Would it be a cult if Jews decided that a baby was part of the Jewish religion after being dunked in water (*cough* Baptism *cough*)?

    How do the “rules for entry” make it a cult? You are either born Jewish or you convert. Yes, there are Jewish converts. There aren’t that many simply because Judaism doesn’t seek to convert people. Not only don’t we go around knocking on peoples’ doors, but we actively discourage people from converting. Keeps out the “I want to be a Jew today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be Buddist” converts.

    As for those “The Jews came in and massacred the poor, innocent Palestinians who were just minding their business” comments, that’s not a complete view of the history of the situation.

    What actually happened was, Palestine was controlled by the British Empire. In it lived a group of Arabs as well as Jews, Christians, etc. After the Holocaust, the UN decided to carve up Palestine into two states. Israel would be the new Jewish State and Jordan (which at that point included the West Bank area) would go to the Arabs.

    Arabs living in Israel were allowed to stay. They weren’t kicked out. However, the surrounding Arab countries didn’t like a group of Jews suddenly in their midst and decided they’d “drive them into the sea.” The Arabs living in Israel were told to flee and that they would get their homes back once Israel was destroyed. Many did flee, though some remained. (And thus Israel actually has a thriving Arab population within its borders.)

    Obviously, the Arab countries weren’t successful in destroying Israel. This left the Arabs who fled in a tough situation. They couldn’t simply return. (Would the US welcome back Americans who fled before an invasion betting that the US would be destroyed?) However, the Arab countries refused to integrate them into their populations. They stuck them in refugee camps and used them to 1) distract the from their own regimes’ bad acts and 2) incite hatred for Israel.

    Today the problem is one of hatred and fear on both sides. Israeli’s (somewhat rightfully) fear that any concessions they make will just open them up to more attacks. (Witness the Gaza land given back used to launch missles at Israel.) The Arabs on the other side fear that Israel will just mow them over unless they fight back. The Israeli’s hate for suicide bombers and the like has spilled over to the normal Arab population and the Arab’s hatred for Israel/Jews has been passed down from generation to generation. The end result is a tough cycle to break.

    No Jews aren’t 100% blameless in the Israel-West Bank/Gaza mess, but they aren’t the devils you’ve painted them to be either. And your depiction of the Jewish religion is completely out of whack.

  65. Amalekite: your comment was off-topic, inappropriate, and basically trolling. You’ve done this before too. You’re welcome to post here on topic, but if you do this again, I will retroactively go through all your comments and mark them all as spam.

    Are we on the same page here?

  66. Gary Ansorge

    Elwood Herring:
    The problem with rhyming poetry is that it has a natural tendency to fall into a sing song pattern,ie, like ta da, ta da, tadata, ta da,,,which is why most serious poets today do not bother with rhyme but instead concentrate on metaphor, simile, etc and in trying to be as succinct as possible or borrowing other language techniques, like the Japanese Haiku, a form which really doesn’t transfer well into English due to differences in how we accent/emphasize words. Here’s a crude example of an English Haiku(it has the basic philosophy of Haiku, being about nature but uses an 16 syllable framework):

    Butterflies flutter
    in my beard.
    If I shave it off,
    will storms end?

    GRA 1998

    One of the most talented poets I met at the Redondo Poets group was an engineer. He could make words sit up and bark,,,

    GAry 7

  67. david

    @Zippy the Pinhead

    I think it was a poorly worded summary of the Milankovich Hypothesis (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles) where a fourier analysis of climate variation over the past few million years yielded cycles that very closely matched known movements of the Earth’s orbit – variation of eccentricity, precesssion and obliquity.

  68. Speaking of Yetis, does anyone know what happened to Cryptomundo.com? I can’t access it, the day after I added it to my reading list! It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!

  69. A is for alternative. Medicine, it’s not.

    B is for the beauty found in scientific thought.

    C is for my chakras, which I’m told are misaligned

    D’s my doubt of claims like this, for which proof’s hard to find.

    E is for the energy so oft misunderstood,

    F times distance! That is all! Get it? Got it? Good!

    G is for the God who hides in gaps between what’s known

    H is for the hubris Christianity has shown.

    I for intuition, which is mommy’s bestest friend

    J for Jenny, setter of this horrifying trend.

    K is for Kirk Cameron, the evangelist of fruits

    L is for the liars with whom Kirk is in cahoots.

    M is for Mythbusters who make skepticism cool,

    N for numerologists who failed math in school.

    O is Occam’s Razor, in which parsimony reigns,

    P is for the psychics and their vast ill-gotten gains.

    Q is quantum science which is terribly abused,

    R for Richard Feynman who’d be rather unamused.

    S is science! Let it be your candle in the dark.

    T for triskaidekaphobes whose ignorance is stark.

    U is for my unbelief, which some say leads to hell,

    V is for the voodoo which I know you do so well.

    W’s for Wakefield, who faked his own results,

    Z’s for Zoroaster who’s the source of modern cults.

  70. DLC

    Well done, Phil!
    Amusing and true at the same time!

  71. The Watchtower

    A is for Alarming; the ignorance shown.

    B is for the Banality that science has sown.

    C is for Chemistry, alchemy’s modernized son.

    D is for Daring the practitioner’s gun.

    E is for Education, in a most biased way.

    F is for Failing: your grade, should you pray.

    G is for Gravity; ubiquitous yet evidently confounding.

    H is for attempts Heroic, yet lack of grasp astounding.

    I is for I. Explain THAT one, dare try!

    J is for a just Jumble of wires, my eye.

    K is for Kurzweil, and his transhumanist schlock.

    L is for Life eternal; which he thinks he can unlock.

    M is for Mauna Loa; “detects rising CO2″.

    N is Noting if YOU were a volcano, then –guess what?!– so would you!

    O is for Overcome by political riches.

    P is for Politicians making “scientists” their bitches.

    Q is for Quelling intelligent debate.

    R is for Religion, which is now trendy to hate.

    S is for Science — a modern religion.

    T is for Truth, though a frightening vision.

    U is for Universe; explain THAT one, as well.

    V is for Virtually EVERYTHING packed in pre-universe-shell.

    W is for Whatever you want to believe.

    Z is for Zetetic; just be it. Now Leave!

  72. Gary 7: Thanks for the info but I have actually written a large body of poetry myself over a period of four decades, some of it even on astronomical themes. I don’t really see the point of your post; I was merely commenting on the similarity between Phil’s poem and one on my website; specifically the two-line rhyming structure, the sing-song metre and the alphabetical theme. It is possible that Phil has seen the poem I mentioned (as I have emailed him on occasion concerning items on my site), although if he did copy the structure he made a pretty decent job of changing the theme to his own “ABC of skepticism”. Nobody could accuse Phil of plagiarism on those grounds however, but I just thought I would point out the similarity to anyone who might be interested.

    As for the original writer of the “A-Z of the Piano”, it was not me but I have been given permission by the author of including it on my website. I just thought it was good (and I think Phil’s is good too, although it falls down here & there on scansion!)

  73. Nice try, Watchtower, but science is not a religion. I’ve shown that simply and easily in an earlier post. Search on “science is not faith-based”. But thanks for playing.

  74. That Nibiru link was JUST what I needed. My Brother-in Law presented this theory to me a few weeks ago as based on some “Bible” (the name of which eludes me at the moment, though I tweeted a question to Phil about it at the time… I’m apparently too lazy tonight to look it up). Was too incredulous (and his info too nebulous) to do anything but say “I’m skeptical that there’s actually an extra planet/star we don’t actually know about”.

  75. hasan

    I really like the poem. But I just want to add that I don’t think the Mayans should be lumped up w/ ppl who think the world will end in 2012, because the Mayan calendar is cyclical, I think the Mayans believed that 2012 would be the end of a cycle, and 2013 would be the beginning of a new one, but not the total end of the world.

    They were an advanced culture, which is why i don’t like ppl thinking of them as silly ppl who thought the world would end in 2012.

  76. Daniel J. Andrews

    “V is Vaccines, which clear germs up quick,
    But some folks don’t like them, they fight little pricks.”

    Who you callin’ a little prick? :)

    Bill, a 10-minute video intro to the “global warming stopped in 1998″ nonsense can be found at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ3OLRgcSII&feature=channel_page

    It’s a bit slow that one, but there are others on the right-hand side that deal with other myths, some of which are entertaining.

    Realclimate.org is a good site written by experts (climatologists). It can be intimidating for people just learning, but they have a “Start Here” link at the top. If you click on that, you can find some links to other pages that debunk other common myths.

    You’ll be surprised at how bad the denier arguments are. They’re not there to persuade or stand up to any type of scrutiny, but to create confusion. Most of the people who echo these myths haven’t bothered to check themselves, or are lying for ideological reasons…and then they ascribe the “lying for ideological reasons” to the science and evidence-based community simply because they think everyone else acts based on the same motives they do. Love of knowledge, solving puzzles, following evidence no matter where it goes or what it contradicts is something rather foreign to many of the deniers.

  77. Daniel J. Andrews

    Heh…speaking of bad arguments, Watchtower has a doozie.

    “M is for Mauna Loa; “detects rising CO2″.
    N is Noting if YOU were a volcano, then –guess what?!– so would you!”

    This one is laughable in its absurdity, and so simple to debunk a 12-year old can understand it. Gee, all those scientists the world over, and not one of them thought, “wait a minute…”.

    Also check the graph of ML CO2 levels and note the seasonal rise and fall of CO2…the planet’s breathing cycle if you will. See how regular it is. What do you think the graph would look like if the monitoring station was picking up volcanic CO2 emissions? Yep, pretty spiky. Volcanoes emit vast amounts of CO2 (not enough for significant warming…another denier myth that has been well debunked) in spurts, and that would overwhelm the seasonal variation making it difficult to detect.

  78. Alfredo Louro

    “B is for Bible, they swear it’s all true,
    But so do the Muslims, and Buddhists, and Jews.”

    You clearly know nothing about Buddhism. There are no revealed sacred texts. There is in fact no God to reveal them. There is no cosmology, no creation myth.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to apply the same intellectual rigor to your analysis of religions that you would apply to any topic in astrophysics. Otherwise you simply come across as ignorant.

  79. Shane

    Please dont include Buddhists in the Bible thing.

    We don’t have a god and we don’t follow the bible, think of Buddhism as a Philosophy not a religon.

  80. Naomi

    Amalekite, I’d just like to point out that Judaism is both a religion and an ethnicity, and they’re not one in the same. I know people who are religiously Jewish but not ethnically (converts, basically), I myself am ethnically Jewish but not religiously.

    And no, I don’t support what Israel does. No, not even a tiny little bit! But see, there are intelligent, rational ways to argue, say, the Israeli occupation of Gaza without resorting to attacks and accusing Jews of starting WW3 and that whole paranoid “OMG ZIONIST STATE” rubbish. If you want people to take your argument seriously, try to avoid the paranoid flailing about.

    Watchtower… …do you actually know anything about volcanoes?

  81. BILL7718

    Thanks for the answers about global warming…I’ll go check out realclimate.org sometime today.

  82. F is for funny, how anti-Christian we rage
    and how sin, anti-truth, is called truth on the page.

  83. Did it ever occur to the dooms-dayers about 2012, that they had to stop SOMEWHERE? Maybe that was just when the guy that was working on it succumbed to the smallpox the Spanish introduced…

  84. TheBlackCat

    Did it ever occur to the dooms-dayers about 2012, that they had to stop SOMEWHERE?

    So will teh EARTH!!!! That’s what THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL US!!!!! Duh

  85. whb03

    Amalekite: that makes how many times now you’ve tried to educate us with your anti-Semitic garbage within this forum? If I go to Texas, does this mean I can get an advanced degree in anti-Semitism based on your rantings?

  86. Cher O

    Having a scientific bent myself, I understand your desire for proof, Phil. But you seem to debunk theories that have yet to be proven true OR false…. You have a bias against all things mysterious.

    Until you have a personal encounter with the unknown (or unprovable–for now), you will not understand what I mean. You can’t weigh or measure thought. It exists. You can’t prove beauty. You just know what it is to you.

    The side of life that you try so hard to refute is the color, the flavor, the charm of our existence. Are ghosts real? Perhaps. Is there an afterlife? Perhaps. UFOs? Bigfoot? Perhaps? Lack of evidence is not evidence that something does not exist.

    In the meantime, those of us who haven’t already made up our minds about what is true or not without all the facts being known will keep on searching for the answers….

  87. The real junk science is global warming. Al Gore is not a scientist. Models that have been used have been incorrect, inaccurate or just plain doctored to align with the beliefs. Come on. I thought this was more or less a sensible place until I read that line. Global Warming is a religion…so I apologize to any true believers whom I may have offended.
    Declaring the debate over does not make the debate over. “I’m taking my ball and going home.”) Yeah, that’s REAL science.

  88. Na

    That’s a great poem. :)

  89. Don

    This is only serves as more proof that skeptics are queer–with a love that James Randi soon would be there. For he is their Santa, with long white beard in tow. The only rule is: The less you accept, the more you will know. And still, it is more evidence that debunkers are geeks, for they bury their noses in Randi’s ass cheeks! They act like they can’t tell that we really exist, they don’t care what it all is, they’re just athesists and nihilists disguised as scientists.

  90. TheAnalyst

    I like the poem! I myself have written poetry for quite some time, and yours definitely has a good flow to it, and it is filled with interesting content.

    The only issue I must take is with you somehow declaring the “anti-AWG” crowd to be subsistent upon “Junk Science”, when in reality it is actually the other way around. You might understand Astronomical and Non-Terrestrial phenomenon quite well, but if you believe the oh so hypothesized Anthropogenic Global Warming to be a product of actual science, then you are lacking in your understanding of Climatology. Do not get me wrong, I completely respect you for your studies and contributions in regards to Space-Based Phenomenon, but I must digress with you in regards to this topic of Meteorological and Climatological significance.

    “Daniel J. Andrews”, the so called “Confusion” of which you speak in regards to the grouping of Scientists exposing the AWG fraud, is in fact Science in progress. Obviously you have no experience in such a field, for you would know that actual science involves HEAVY debating on a constant basis, and it is in fact quite normal. Only does such a factor appear “confusing” when they who are in observance are in fact naive of the processes involved.

    “The Black Cat”, if you wish to speak of “Cherry Picking Evidence”, then take a look at the Regional Climates which have failed to conform to the previously enacted AWG Programming Models. When the discrepancy was beginning to shed light upon a highly flawed theory, the term was morphosized into “Climate Change”, which is an inevitable factor and ludicrously vague notion of Earth as we know it. Such terminology takes into absurd prospect the idea that Earth’s Climate has ever in fact been static in nature, which is irrevocably false. This of course is a common tactic which many Meteorologists take part in on a constant basis, whenever their forecasts are found to have strayed immensely from actual outcomes. In order words, it puts forth the aura of never having been incorrect in your initial hypothesis to begin with, and thus you save face and continue on with your job (Including Grant Money and/or a Paycheck).

  91. For obvious reasons, I’d like to see one line changed slightly, that is:
    “G is for Uri Geller, a spoon he will bend,
    Is it magic or powers, or more likely pretend?”
    Not all Gellers are pretend psychics. There’s an award winning math teacher, a internationally known seismologist, an artist, and oh yes, an astronomy educator.

  92. Harold, fixed that for you. Had to make it scan correctly, too…

  93. The Watchtower

    Science has been wholly overrun by fanatics who single-mindedly favor certain theories to the point of patently false claims “supported” by “evidence” that turns out to be nebulous at best, and downright erroneous at worst.

    As a concept, science may not be strictly a religion… however, it is nothing more than what it’s most vocal practitioners make it. With unswerving beliefs in some thoroughly ill-researched theories, science has indeed been turned into nothing more than another religion. You don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming (a theory which fails spectacularly under scrutiny)? Then you are a modern day Heretic.

    Science –a field once dedicated to the pursuit of truth– has now plunged itself into the same dogmatic narrow-mindedness that much of the religious world has long since left behind.

  94. Wendy

    Cute and awesome!!!!

  95. Peter Williams

    This “poem” demonstrates what most people already know: scientists are more interested in defending their sacred texts than in exploring new ideas. One thing they are certainly not interested in is evidence – I truly doubt that the author actually took the time to investigate the phenomena he was sneering at before he put pen to paper. Indeed, he didn’t have to: he knew “a priori” that they must be rubbish!

  96. You may doubt all you want, but I have in fact looked into everything mentioned in this poem. Even a cursory search on this very blog will yield that information very easily.

  97. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Until you have a personal encounter with the unknown (or unprovable–for now), you will not understand what I mean.

    Um, plural of anecdotes isn’t data – and without data there is no knowledge.

    Lack of evidence is not evidence that something does not exist.

    It is, if there is a firm prediction drawn. For example, the belief that zombies exist is undercut by the observable lack of dead men walking.

    anthropogenic global warming (a theory which fails spectacularly under scrutiny)

    It has been thoroughly scrutinized by the experts, and each time the IPCC assembles the science state of art the current theory explaining the fact of the seen GW has been strengthened. Go read about it instead of making unsupported claims, ’cause that looks narrow-minded.

  98. The Watchtower

    “It has been thoroughly scrutinized by the experts, and each time the IPCC assembles the science state of art the current theory explaining the fact of the seen GW has been strengthened. Go read about it instead of making unsupported claims, ’cause that looks narrow-minded.”

    The IPCC is a puppet organization. Their data is unremarkable –if you haven’t looked at it yourself, I would recommend it– and the information that gets publicized is subject to the approval of government officials.

    I’m not arguing against GW… on the contrary, IPCC and other data strongly support the claim. HOWEVER, there is absolutely NOTHING to suggest that the current warming trend is anything out of the ordinary warming/cooling cycles the Earth has always experienced… much less that it is any way anthropogenic.

    I would suggest you stop trusting the “experts”, and start learning about the science yourself.

  99. IVAN3MAN

    Blackadder:

    The eyes are open, the mouth moves, [and the fingers type], but Mr Brain has long since departed, hasn’t [it, Watchtower]?

  100. Amalekite

    The Bad Astronomer Phil Plait wrote:

    Amalekite: your comment was off-topic, inappropriate, and basically trolling. You’ve done this before too. You’re welcome to post here on topic, but if you do this again, I will retroactively go through all your comments and mark them all as spam. Are we on the same page here?

    Well we disagree but I’ll play by your rules.

    I’ve only just now seen that response of yours – & I do NOT beleive it to be a fair characterisation of my comments.

    I believe it was (& still is) fair to add Israel to a list of things Americans and others need to be *far* more skeptical about – & Judiaism which I believe gets away with far less criticism than it deserves. I thought that was still on topic esp. given the very wide range of topics mentioned in this original poem.

    Am I allowed at least to respond to others attacks against me here?

    —–

    The Amalekites were a Semitic tribe recorded in the Old Testament / Talmud / Torah as one of history’s many victims of the genocides carried out repeatedly on their neighbours by the Israelite tribes – other victims include the Moabites, Jebusites, Canaanites, Amorites and Philistines. The Amalekite king was spared by Saul – only for the “prophet” Samuel to enter the room, abuse his king and then murder and hack into pieces the Amalekite king – an unarmed prisoner. Samuel went on to launch a racist diatribe claiming the Jewish god Yahwah was so upset at Saul’s failure to completely exterminate the Amalekites, another Semitic people, that he was removing Saul’s kingship – and later his life. Today Israelis still revile the long since exterminated Amalekites using it as a term of abuse which is sometimes directed towards the Palestineans. The term is also used for atheists.

  101. Amalekite

    @ TechyDad Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 2:11 pm)

    I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, and I’m sure Amalekite will probably discount anything I say as a lie because I happen to be Jewish, but…

    No, I’ll discount what you say *if* (& when) its wrong. That you are clearly going to be biased because of your background doesn’t help of course!

    @Amalekite Said: Oh & have I pointed out yet that the core, key defining premise of Judaism is irredeemably, intrinsically racist? I.e. that the Jews are gods “Chosen people”

    Show me any religion that doesn’t define themselves as being chosen in some way by their deity. In fact, it’s a common joke among Jews that – given the persecution Jews have faced over the past few thousand years – we wish that God would choose someone else for awhile.

    But Judaism isn’t a religion for anybody of any ethnicity – it is *specifically* devoted to and self-obsessedly about just twelve – now two -tribes. God apparently “chose” just these few tribes out of all the Humans he supposedly created. Other religions eg. Islam offer salvation to all comers – not just those descended on their mother’s side from a jew. There’s a very big difference there.

    The command that you are referencing (to massacre the native population of the “promised land”) was an ancient one and no serious Jewish authority would consider it to apply to situations today. (You might find some fringe rabbi who says it applies, but fringe groups exist in all religions.)

    True – so why do we focus on fringe Muslims and ignore fringe Jews? Should there NOT be as much focus on the extremist fundamentalist jew as there is on the extremist Muslim?

    Oh & just because a command is ‘ancient’ doesn’t make it (as you might logically expect) less significant – in religion it’s sadly often the reverse.

    “In all truth, Judaism is not really a religion so much as an ethnic race cult. What other legitimate religion is defined as being inherited from your mother’s side?”

    So it wouldn’t be a cult if you were counted as entering the religion by your father being part of the religion? Would it be a cult if Jews decided that a baby was part of the Jewish religion after being dunked in water (*cough* Baptism *cough*)? How do the “rules for entry” make it a cult? You are either born Jewish or you convert. Yes, there are Jewish converts. There aren’t that many simply because Judaism doesn’t seek to convert people. Not only don’t we go around knocking on peoples’ doors, but we actively discourage people from converting. Keeps out the “I want to be a Jew today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be Buddist” converts.

    Like Madonna? *cough, cough *

    Interesting that you do NOT want converts – that raises the immediate question of “Why not?” Oh yes, because you’re really about that ugly word ‘race’ and not “spreading the word” to all people as other universalist faiths seek to do. That sounds more like to me than your ad hoc & overly modern “religion-for-a-day-faddists-out” excuse.

    What actually happened was, Palestine was controlled by the British Empire. In it lived a group of Arabs as well as Jews, Christians, etc.

    True enough. There was the ‘Mandate of Palestine’ which was captured from the Ottoman Empire – and majority Muslim with some very small minorities of others incl. a handful of “native” Jews. Then a politico-religious movement began in the 1880’s among the Ashkenazim (European) Jews sick of being persecuted by Europeans (another story as to why *that* was.) who sought to create a specifically Jewish homeland :

    “A land without people for a people without a land” as the slogan went.

    Except of course that it was *NEVER* a “land without people!” The people were the indigenous Palestinean Arabs. Nor really were the Jews – many immensely wealthy and powerful such as the Rothschilds – “without land.” :roll:

    Anyway, these European (Ashkenazim) Jews put their enormous political power & wealth to work and made their own little Zionist movement colonial adventure playing on religiosity and sentimentality – and the desire by many Europeans to see the Jews far from their own countries. The Jews – the original Zionists – now bought up large amounts of Palestinean land from absentee landlords and British imperialists and used their political weight to get some feel-good declarations like the Balfour one through supporting their cause.

    After the Holocaust, the UN decided to carve up Palestine into two states. Israel would be the new Jewish State and Jordan (which at that point included the West Bank area) would go to the Arabs.

    Not quite right. Jordan was the Transjordan mandate – a separate area again. The Mandate of Palestine was to be split – by people who didn’t live there and really had NO right to give it away : 55% to the Ashkenazim Jews and 45 % to the Palestineans.

    Now if say, the govt of Fiji took over your nation and split it 45 % to your people and 55 % to somebody else’s – say the Palestineans – How would you react? Would you be happy? :-(

    Oh & WHY for pity’s sake should the persecution of *European Jews* by European non-Jews lead to the punishment of an innocent third party that was NOT responsible for the Shoah (Nazi holocaust)? Why allow the Nazi’s to get their way by having the Jews move elsewhere? Why not punish Germany for its anti-Judaism by having the Jewish state imposed on them?

    Dare I suggest that the “brown people” counted less at the time – as Palestinean lives still seem to count for less today? :-(

    Arabs living in Israel were allowed to stay. They weren’t kicked out.

    WRONG. Read up on Deir Yassin and other acts of “ethnic cleansing” & crimes against Humanity that occurred during the Nakbah – Palestinean for “Catastrophe” – when the Jews won the 1948 war. Oh & read outside one-sided Jewish propaganda. try reading some of the books by Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Said K. Aburish among others. The real truth is far different from what you might have been taught already.

    However, the surrounding Arab countries didn’t like a group of Jews suddenly in their midst and decided they’d “drive them into the sea.” The Arabs living in Israel were told to flee and that they would get their homes back once Israel was destroyed.

    Ah yes, that old line. Cultures differ and Arab style of speaking poetically and passionately in their rhetoric is quite different from what Westerners are used to and from may have really been planned. Not that we’ll ever know.

    Contrary to Israeli mythologies the well-equipped, well-armed well-led, well-funded Jewish side always had an insurmountable advantage over mere justice, fighting for one’s real homes and numbers. The real “David” in this “David & Goliath” tale, ironically, was always the Palestinean and Arab side.

    Many did flee, though some remained. (And thus Israel actually has a thriving Arab population within its borders.)

    Thriving you reckon? :roll:

    Have you any idea of what most “Israeli Arabs” go through? Of how bad the Jews make their lives? Thought not.

    This left the Arabs who fled in a tough situation. They couldn’t simply return. However, the Arab countries refused to integrate them into their populations. They stuck them in refugee camps and used them to 1) distract the from their own regimes’ bad acts and 2) incite hatred for Israel.

    Way to attribute motives – a logical fallacy. Oh & by Arabs you mean Palestineans who were driven out of their own country by forces they were powerless to stop – and many who tried were killed. Yeah, according to you they were supposed to just shuffle off and die. Give up on getting their homes back. Bow down to their new masters. Put yourself in the place of the Palestinean refugees for a sec and you’ll see how unfair and ridiculous you are being.

    Today the problem is one of hatred and fear on both sides.

    Not so. The problem remains that Israel is violating international law in repressing the indigenous Palestinean population. The Occupation, the illegal Israeli settlements, the Jewish fundamentalists who seek a “greater “eretz” Israel stretching “from the Nile to the Euphrates” – that is what is *creating* all this ‘fear and hatred’ you refer to.

    The Israeli’s hate for suicide bombers and the like has spilled over to the normal Arab population and the Arab’s hatred for Israel/Jews has been passed down from generation to generation. The end result is a tough cycle to break.

    True. But not complete – the Israelis have created the suicide bombers by giving the Palestineans no hope, no chance, nothing else to fight with. When you have nothing to lose ..

    Israel could totally alter the situation if it withdrew to the pre-1967 lines and accepted publicly the right of the Palestineans to live freely with proper sovereignty (incl. border control & foreign policy) and control over their own lives. If Israel gave up its secret WMDs or supplied the Palestineans with a proper military equal in strength to deter *either* side from invading the other. But that’s not going to happen now is it?

    No Jews aren’t 100% blameless in the Israel-West Bank/Gaza mess, but they aren’t the devils you’ve painted them to be either.

    Actually, yes, they are. Not devils perhaps but very much in the wrong and ones committing & causing by far the worst of the problems. I’d say the fault lay very much with the Israeli side & the Palestineans are “far more sinned against than sinning” to quote Shakespeares phrase.

    And your depiction of the Jewish religion is completely out of whack.

    No, it’s pretty much spot on. You just refuse to accept that stark reality.

  102. Amalekite

    @ whb03 Says: (March 31st, 2009 at 4:09 pm)

    Amalekite: that makes how many times now you’ve tried to educate us with your anti-Semitic garbage within this forum? If I go to Texas, does this mean I can get an advanced degree in anti-Semitism based on your rantings?

    Texas? WTF? Oh & it’s NOT garbage it’s called the truth. Plus you need to look up what the word ‘Semitic’ actually means – here’s a hint it’s NOT just “Jews.” Oh & ad Hominems like yours are committing the first logical fallacy the BA mentioned here & prove nothing. Just so you know.

    @ Naomi Says: (March 31st, 2009 at 4:20 am)

    Amalekite, I’d just like to point out that Judaism is both a religion and an ethnicity, and they’re not one in the same. I know people who are religiously Jewish but not ethnically (converts, basically), I myself am ethnically Jewish but not religiously.

    And no, I don’t support what Israel does. No, not even a tiny little bit! But see, there are intelligent, rational ways to argue, say, the Israeli occupation of Gaza without resorting to attacks and accusing Jews of starting WW3 and that whole paranoid “OMG ZIONIST STATE” rubbish. If you want people to take your argument seriously, try to avoid the paranoid flailing about.

    I’m glad you don’t support Israel’s atrocities in Gaza. I appreciate your comments. But please try to read my posts more carefully & look at what I’m actually saying. I’m NOT accusing Israel of starting WW3 merely noting that the risk of Israel’s seemingly endless wars against its neighbours escalating and spreading poses the terrible potential risks to the entire planet. I’m not the first to think or say this either.

    @ Weirdo Fishy Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 11:19 am)

    Male Kite: nobody cares here. You’re off-topic, and you’ve already lost your argument before it began by at least three counts:

    1) You brought in Nazis. Anyone on the IntarWebz knows that the first mention of Nazis to support an argument immediately loses.

    Nope. “Godwin’s law” is rubbish – & NOT everyone subscribes to it. Nobody should. When legitimate comparisons can be made they deserve to be – & should be & trying to make up some arbitrary censoring law that refuses to draw obvious comparisons is plain dumb.

    2) You committed apostrophe abuse. At NO time is an “apostrophe-s” used to pluralize anything, even if a word ends in a vowel or is an acronym.

    Oh big deal. :roll:

    So what? It is not the spelling and grammar that matters it is the actual facts and arguments in question. Strike two for you, yourself. However you spell it!

    3) You put up the “freedom of speech” defense as a preemptive strike, which means you were sitting safe behind your keyboard with defensive salvos ready to launch at everyone you’re poking at.

    False assumption on your part. Even if you were right about this – so what?

    You KNEW you were going to provoke a negative response and latched onto “freedom of speech” before anyone else could jump you. “Freedom of speech” is not a guarantee required of private organizations or individuals.

    I know that anyone that dares look critically & skeptically at the sacred cow of Israel gets attacked by those with a vested interest in Israel and that’s the way they try to censor and stifle legitimate debate. You trying to do that are you?

    I hope I can get some positive reaction of people actually thinking critically about Israel’s brutality and the intrinsically racist nature of Judaism.

    Why is there anything wrong in this or in speaking out for what I know to be true through logic and experience and study?

    All of these combined render your arguments meaningless. Placed in the proper forum and context, you might have provoked some dialog, but all you’re really doing is throwing a tantrum. That prevents anyone from caring about WHAT you say and focus instead on HOW you’re saying it.

    I disagree. You have failed to refute or even consider my arguments.

    Maybe *you* need to focus on what I’m saying rather than launching your own little ad hominems against me & pretending that makes you right somehow.

    “.. I suppose that’s one victory in your favour. Okay, I’ll recalculate. You lose by two instead.”

    Actually, Weirdo Fishy, I win by three to zip! :-P

    @ LukeL Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 11:47 am)

    It never fails to amaze me how much antisemitism still prevails, yet now they call it antizionism. It is a potato potahto arguement. Amalekite you sound like Louis Farakhan who called Judaism a “gutter religion” your comments are also mysoginst in context.

    Nothing I have said is anti-Semitic – actually it’s very pro-Semitic the Palestineans and Arabs are Semitic! Criticising Judaism and the atrocities committed by its followers is simply pro-Humanity – please note I have NOT said – nor will ever say that Jews should be persecuted merely that they should STOP persecuting OTHERS!

    As for my pointing out the misogyny in the OT itself being somehow misogynist? (If that’s what you are somehow on about?) I don’t think so! :roll:

    @ Daffy Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 10:02 am)

    Amalekite, Why didn’t the Arabs give the Palestinians an independent homeland before 1948? Because they didn’t want to…

    Well Bzzzt! Wrong. It was because the land – both Palestine and much of the Arab world – was then under foreign, non-Arab, control first in the hands of the British Empire and then under a UN mandate that’s why!

    Arabs killing Arabs is hardly unusual. Having Israel as a scapegoat is the ONLY thing uniting the various tribes; that’s another fact for you. If Israel went away, you would see bloodshed on a much larger scale, I have no doubt. I wonder who you would blame then?

    Sheesh, and folks have the nerve to call *me* racist!!? :roll:

    Your “facts” are just utter nonsense as even you must know if you think about it longer than a minute. Arabs gave the West much of astronomy, algebra, the concept of 0, and far more. For many centuries Arabs were far more advanced than the West. The Arabs btw. aren’t a group of savage tribes – and still NOT united even with the supposed “scapegoating of Israel” as you’d know with a minimum of research. Look up Sunni & Shia, the histories of Palestine and Iran, the Ottoman Empire and some Muslim scientists such as “Alhazen”, “Avicenna”, al-Sufi, al-Battani and others sometime. Try & have *some* idea of what you’re talking about before you post please! :roll:

    And I am neither Christian, Muslim, or Jew. I am a Taoist of Irish/Scottish decent. I wonder where that fits in your hate filled thinking?

    You don’t know anything about me yet judge me “hate-filled?” Just because I point out uncomfortable truths?

    Why would a Scottish/Irish Taoist do that? Why is what I’ve said sounding so unreasonable to you? You ask yourself that and then please tell me. Over a pint of Guinness / whisky if you’d like! ;-)

    @ TSFrost Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 10:05 am)

    “what I’ve said here is true and important and should not be ignored”

    True? Maybe. Important? Not really all that much. There is a long history of different religious factions hating one another. Same with different races and nationalities. We Americans tried to eradicate the indians. Should we living today be held accountable?

    Yes – or at least it should be acknowledged and remembered not just forgotten. I’m not the only person to think this matters either. The Israelis are being armed and funded and politically supported by the West esp. the USA and that has very nasty consequences for everyone.

    What do you hope to accomplish by all this ranting? Most on this list already agree that religion has properly mucked up most of our history, which is why we’re speaking out against all of it.

    To make people think and raise awareness of some of the things they are often misdirected away from thinking. Hardly “ranting” either – merely pointing out the Israeli Emperors nudity & asking why we’re all paying and harming our future for his invisible “finery”.

    @ A. Bakker Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 10:11 am)
    P is for politics, always good for a fight
    But perhaps somehere else than on an astronomy site

    & @ The Mad LOLScientist, FCD Says: (March 30th, 2009 at 10:17 am)

    @Amalekite: Racist or not, ( NOT!) your comments do qualify as political screeds, which are entirely out of place here.

    Not at all. The BA himself frequently posts on politics (eg. US elections) & it is *his* blog.

    Now okay, he has told me he thinks its off-topic & from him I’ll accept that – although, personally, I consider the issue of applying skepticism to Israeli propaganda to be equally as valid and important as applying it to Creationism – both are political lies that are doing our planet rather a lot of harm.

  103. The Watchtower

    “You [IVAN3MAN] can think I’m wrong, but that’s no reason to stop thinking.” — House

    See? I can play your silly little games too! Get back to me once you have something of value to say. If you’re really quick about it, I’ll likely never hear from you again.

  104. john

    Brilliant irony. To start out with “A is Ad hominem, attacks quite insulting,/They may feel good but no good is resulting.” and then include no fewer than five of them is pure genius.

  105. casey

    umm…repressed memories are real.

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