Tags: lies

Bears

The 'Not So Amazing' Koran

As you know, I get into arguments over faith which, being an atheist and a rationalist I find destructive. Of late there's been a lot more argument with those of the Islamic faith rather than the Christian one, which is something I welcome as variety is the spice of life and my beef is with faith itself rather than any singular version thereof.

Islam has its annoyances though, chief amongst them (once we discount the obvious of it being an unreformed, brutalistic, misogynistic desert religion that inspires violence and division) is the claim by many of its followers that it is somehow unique, special, scientifically rigorous or that - unlike other religions - it has evidence in support of it.

The irony of course is that these are claims made by many religions.

Recently I was sent this pamphlet in support of the claim that Islam was supported by evidence and I called it a 'string of lies from beginning to end'.

Before I get back to writing more fun things this blog post is, then, my case for that since it's too much to throw up onto Twitter.

Page 1/60
The Amazing Koran - The meaning of 'amazing' is defined as causing great surprise or wonder. The Koran is not, then, amazing. Just about any religion you care to mention has a similar book of bad poetry, homilies and instruction. The Torah, Bible, Rig Veda, Book of Mormon, Scientology Tapes, you name it you can find the rambling scrivenings of some madman that only his followers are convinced is in any way special. Contextually, even if the Koran were the most wonderful, poetic and fabulous screed of bullshit ever written, it still wouldn't be amazing. I guess 'The Wearingly Typical Koran' wasnt such a catchy title.

Doctor Gary Miller - Doctor Miller has a doctorate in mathematics which is completely irrelevant to much of what he claims and talks about within this pamphlet. The impressionable may see 'Doctor' and assume a level of authority and relevant learning which simply isn't present. He also fails to mention with any readiness that he's a former Christian missionary and was therefore already barking before he encountered Islam. Even if we're generous and call this misrepresentation, it's still a form of lying.

Page 3/60
Not What You'd Expect - This is anecdotal but I don't think I've met a single non-Muslim who has read the Koran who has been surprised. Generally speaking it's exactly what we expected. A rambling, incoherent and self-contradicting muddle of nonsense. Certainly the only surprise it gave me was that it was even less coherent than the Bible and as much, if not more, of a chore to read. Let's notch this one up as a half-truth.

Page 4/60
Merchant Marine - The story given here is apocryphal with no evidence in support of it. It's merely claimed without support that this man, whoever he was, converted because of the description of a storm. That would have to be one very simple-minded sailor to do so and it's either a shame or a blessing that he didn't read Moby Dick first or he might be bowing down to an idol of a white whale. Is it amazing or remarkable that there should be descriptions of storms or the sea in the Koran, a desert religion book? Not at all given that there's the Arabian Sea, the Caspian, the Black Sea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden all around there. This is the region the Sinbad stories come from for the love of Pete. Given the origin of the written Koran as the half-remembered and pieced together fragments of Muhammed's surviving followers, compiled by Greeks and Jews under the orders of Islamic rulers decades after his death it's even less surprising there should be such descriptions in there.

Page 5/60
The Smallest Thing - The claim is that the Koran predicted things smaller than an atom. Two problems. One, what the Greeks etc called the atom is not what we call the atom today. We adopted the name but not the concept. Atom then meant 'smallest thing there can be' so a modern equivalent might be a superstring or the Planck length. Two, this is a post-hoc interpretation of poetic language in an extremely vague language, Arabic, in order to cast it in a scientific light. These interpretations have changed over the years as scientific knowledge has advanced, therefore advantage science.

Page 6-7/60
Honey - This is a page of apologetics excuses as to why no explicit scientific knowledge is included in the Koran, which contradicts statements made elsewhere. The excuse given is that it would make the Koran outdated but the obvious foil to this is that an omniscient and omnipotent deity could easily construct a book that contained genuine evidence and that wouldn't become outdated in such a way, being of limitless intellect and power and so the Koran (or any other holy book) should do that easily... oh wait. Also the Koran DOES contradict itself, and frequently. My favourite is the discrepency in the days of creation between Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7 and 25:59, and Sura 41:9-12. This is just one of many and similar lists of contradictions also exist for other so-called holy books. It's also claimed on page 7 that nothing could be taken away, added or changed in the Koran. Given that it's been through at least three incarnations, all of them piecemeal, this appears manifestly untrue.

Page 8-9/60
Mohammed and the Koran - Yes, it is claimed Mohammed was likely ill, temporal lobe epilepsy. This is based on descriptions of his 'visions' from various Hadith which are held up in other circumstanes. In other words, this claim is supported by evidence. It's also known that TLE has a higher incidence amongst the very religious, so this is by no means a stretch. It's pretty fruitless going through the Koran looking for evidence one way or another on this as, as previously mentioned, it's been through several incarnations and there are other reasons why it's a rambling and incoherent mess other than it being the work of a madman, though this still seems likely.

Page 10-12/60
SCIENCE! - The Koran doesn't have falsification tests built into it. Or rather, it makes claims that DO falsify it. It is not unique in this aspect. There are testable claims in other religious books which collapse as readily as those in the Koran do under examination. So while it's not necessarily a lie to say that there are falsification tests, it IS a lie to say Islam goes about this scientifically and in the claim that it has already been proven true. I don't have a religion but the claim that other religions lack such tests is a false one. Christians, for example, would say you just have to pray to Jesus and he will reveal himself to you. The bible also makes claims about faith, such as if it's the size of a mustard seed (a common metaphor for 'the smallest thing ever' you can move mountains and trees and do anything - you can't. Religions are scattered with grandiose and testable claims and they come up short. It's also claimed here that in 1400 years nobody has found a mistake or discrepency in the Koran. This is untrue

Page 13
Ask Those Who Have Knowledge - Attempts to associate the Koran with advancement in human knowledge when, in fact, the opposite is true. Why is it that the great flowering of Arabic science and technology was so long ago and now it's so behind? Oh yeah.

Page 14-15
Embryology - This is an old saw though I really don't know why Islam keeps banging this drum. Clots, clay, leeches, this takes us all the way back to my earlier criticism of post-hoc rationalisation of poetic language. Not to mention that the Greeks had an equal or greater amount of knowledge centuries beforehand and given miscarriages and the murder of pregnant women, this knowledge is unremarkable two ways as well as, if taken literally (as literally as you can take Arabic) being inaccurate and wrong.

I think that's sufficient to establish my point and I have better things to do than to go through the remaining 45 pages. I think I've established that at least 15 pages - one quarter - of the pamphle contain lies, half truths, mistruths and misrepresentations and I submit that this is disingenuous and unacceptable given the high and mighty tone and supposed goal of the pamphlet in 'revealing truth'.
Babyeating

(no subject)

"The Quintessential Temptress is, of course, a slight exception being, as it is, after all, a bit of a piss-take. There is, however, a great deal of genuinely useful information contained within this book in spite of the humour and mirth, things that can be used practically. Some people lacking in the essential brain cells required to tell humour from seriousness, or who excuse their lack of understanding of the joke by accusing humour of perpetuating stereotype and persecution may find something within this book to offend them. Jolly good; enjoy being upset, you know you do. The rest of us will get on with having a jolly good – not to mention harmless – chuckle."

I wrote that back in 2004 but in spite of any number of disclaimers and to above, Cassanda-ish prediction, I'm still getting shit over it. As well as Nymphology: Blue Magic, Hentacle, etc etc.

This is all courtesy of the internet troll and drama-llama Kynn (Dazedsaveends on Twitter). Of course, since they're a transgender who chooses to call themselves a woman, you can't say anything against them without being simultaneously a misogynist and a transphobic. If only I were a member of a minority so I had something to insult people with they point out that I'm full of crap. Of course, I'd also have to be the kind of gutless fuckwit who can't support an argument and has to resort to ad hominem to plaster that gap too, but, you know, baby steps.
 
The irony, again, for those who missed it last time around, is this. The books that this person keeps banging on about are saying the opposite of what they think that they are.
 
Nymphology, Quintessential Temptress etc, these were taking the mick out of existing stereotypes of women in fantasy, games and RPGs. While also slipping some usable material in under the radar. As I recall the original pitch (when asked) was for something more serious but you do what you're paid to do and more comedy was asked for. You can call me a sell out if you like but it's hard enough to make it in this industry and scrape a living without handicapping yourself. I did what was asked, made fun of misogynistic attitudes in gaming and got some serious stuff in anyway.
 
Hentacle is, again, satirical, making fun of both hentai and western attitudes towards it.
 
I'm sorry if that's too complicated and nuanced for some people.
 
Here's a case in point, is this sexist, or making fun of sexists? You tell me...
 
And for the record, I am not homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic or whatever else you choose to accuse me of. I do, however, hate liars and twats and people who spread hate and misinformation. Indeed I'm usually the one that calls others on their 'isms'. 


Babyboom

Balls and Chains (Mostly balls)

One of the greatest teachers I ever had was Mr Kettle, he was an English teacher of fierce determination who managed, through sheer force of enthusiasm and his classroom antics, to engage even the brutish dunces with the joy of the English language. He used to let us play RPGs in his classroom at lunchtime and acknowledged that they were great for our English skills - amongst others.

Mr Kettle died of an aneurism a few years after I left school, just as the internet was starting to come into its own and sometimes I wonder if I'm headed for the same fate when I read the latest bout of nerd-rage, especially when it comes to gaming nerd-rage and particularly when it comes to some of the idiocy around the English language and gamer insecurity around women.

This latest argument - and its spin-offs - is one such aneurism-inducing event.

This one's about GenCon's non-gamer havens, or Spousal Activities (SPA) which is a nice idea to give non-gamers who have been dragged along to the conventions by their better half, something to do while their significant other is killing things and taking their stuff and having multiple nerdgasms.

So far so good, right? Providing a useful service, helping the convention-goers maintain marital harmony and broadening the appeal and inclusiveness of the con. But wait, what's the icon that they use to advertise SPA in the guidebook?:

Oh, a ball and chain, a traditional term for the other half of a relationship and thematically appropriate for a hobby that invokes dungeons a lot. So where's the problem? Oh... apparently it's sexist? It's a horrible thing to do? It insults and marginalises women and makes the hobby look more male-oriented and discriminatory than it is?

Unfortunately, in comments HERE

It emerged that this programme and its icon has been used for some 5 years, without incident, was chosen by women for an event primarily run by women and the SPA events are for anyone and include both gamer widows and gamer widowers. So why such a fuss? Why is gender such a massive issue for gamers? It's not like this nerd-rage over nothing is the first incident and this brings me back to my English teacher.

You may or may not have noticed but a lot of gaming books deal very clumsily indeed with pronouns. You'll find books that only refer to 'she'. You'll find books that alternate between 'he' and 'she' and you'll find other sorts of peculiarities that I'm unaware of having any real purchase in publications beyond the more extreme end of feminist literature (examples such as hirstory for history and other ridiculousness).

Now, I'm not attacking political correctness, the intent there is good, but the idea of deliberately changing language in order to promote a particular agenda is rather Orwellian rather than PC. That's not political correctness - seeking to minimise offence -that's attempting to control.

The irony is particularly thick when it comes to the linguistic issue and I've banged on about this before. Defaulting to 'he' does not indicate a presumption of maleness on the part of the person being described, 'he', like the term 'mankind' refers to humanity as a whole, regardless of gender. This is because we've actually LOST the particular terms that referred to males. 'Man' - for example - used to be prefixed by 'wer' or 'wyf' to indicate gender. When you use the term 'he', unqualified by context, you're being linguistically inclusive compared to when you use the term 'she' when you are, specifically, referring to female. Then you're being exclusionary.

Example:
1. 'A first time author can expect to have his manuscript repeatedly rejected.'
2. 'A first time author can expect to have her manuscript repeatedly rejected.'
3. 'As a first time author, Alex found that his manuscript was repeatedly rejected.'

In number 1 there's no hint as to the gender being talked about, it's speaking generally.
In number 2 it's specifically talking about a woman.
In number 3, despite the gender neutral name, we can gather from context and phrasing that it's talking about a specific man. Changing he to she would swap this around.

So, why do we do this to ourselves? Is the sight of a 'she' improperly placed throughout an RPG book suddenly going to make a neophyte gamer out of Jane Doe? Is it fuck, it's linguistically incorrect and, frankly, patronising I even find it a little sinister, which I'll go into in a minute. This kind of linguistic mangling is our equivalent of the pink Nintendo DS.
Why is gaming so neurotic and insecure about women? Face it, huge parts of the hobby are not and never will be appealing to women. It is a classically obsessional, largely male-appealing blend of adolescent power fantasy, fun with maths and borderline aspergers. You're not going to turn the appeal of the game around by fucking up the language in some misguided and erroneous attempt to be inclusive. If you're genuinely serious about reaching out to female gamers you need to pull a game-changer like the Wii or the DS (minus the patronising pink). There's plenty in RPGs that can appeal to women and has in the past. White Wolf pulled it off with V:tm and their LARP organisation, but the heyday of that is behind us. If you want to appeal to women more play to those strengths, the storylines, the romance, the characterisation, the whimsy. Yes these are stereotypes but they do exist for a reason and if past experience is anything to go by, it's what works.

What this makes me think of is a sort of hive-mind gamer version of the rather creepy geek dating fallacies, I can't find the exact link I'm thinking of, but THIS is close.

Yes, we want more women to be into gaming partly because we think gaming is awesome but, let's be honest here, a lot more of it is in wanting to increase the dating pool for dysfunctional nerds. If only we can get more women gaming they'll UNDERSTAND and then they might let me touch their boobies! All this linguistic abuse and special treatment isn't treating women equally or appealing to them, it's being patronising and stupid and it's as creepy as being the 'nice guy', lingering around being a 'good friend' in the hopes that you'll eventually get into a girl's pants.

In getting involved in some of these arguments the accusations have come thick and fast that, in defending proper English or pointing out the fallacies in these arguments, that you're somehow coming from a position of 'privilege' as though that somehow invalidates a truthful argument or a fact even if it were true.

I had a similar spat over a tweet I made to promote Boobquake (no such outrage about that) because I INCLUDED post-op transexuals 'Girls, ladies, women, post-op transexuals, lend me your boobs!'. Somehow, I'm not entirely sure how, someone took that as being exclusionary and insisted that post-op transsexuals ARE women. Sorry, but no, you might be legally women and you deserve to be treated as such, but the tweet was inclusive, by including them and no matter how much plastic surgery and hormone therapy you get, your chromosomes - the things which actually determine gender - aren't going to change. You're genetically male. Facts are SO inconvenient...

It seems people everywhere are looking for reasons to get upset and insulted and are getting thinner and thinner skinned, which is quite peculiar given the rough-and-tumble of the internet.

So, let's wrap up...
  1. If you think 'he' is excluding people, you don't understand the English language. If you must pick something neutral it's not going to be crowbarring 'she' in there. The consensus appears to be that the plural is the gender neutral way to go about writing, so you use 'they' instead of either.
  2. Just because you're offended, particularly by something genuinely innocuous, doesn't mean that everyone else is, or that they should be. You might only be offended because you're ignorant or hypersensitive. Getting offended on other, imaginary, people's behalf is also a bit strange.
  3. The ball and chain thing is meaningless and it's pure White Knight Syndrome to go charging in half-cocked on this. 'Look at me! See how sensitive, caring and progressive I am! Please fuck me!'. That it's run, approved and chosen by women blows away your argument. Ironically a little investigation has turned up that 'Ball and chain' these days can be used for either partner. It's lighthearted joshing and secure people with a sense of humour can deal with that.
  4. Just because you're offended doesn't mean other people are and doesn't mean something is offensive. A TV programme can attracts millions of viewers but 10 complaints is often enough to get it apologised for and withdrawn. I'm sure we can all agree that this is ridiculous and this is NO DIFFERENT.
  5. You're not going to get more 'chicks in gaming' by being creepy or treating women as some special, strange, alien creature that must be appeased with symbolic, self-deriding changes.
just me

Kink

I could never get into BDSM really, mainly because so many people that are into it are mingin'.*

*Not _all_ before my beautiful kinky friends get their studded leather panties in a bunch. Just enough, more than enough. OK, I'm a body fascist, sue me.
just me

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