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On the historicity of Jesus

I have all respect in the world for historians and what they do. It’s not my cup of tea, but I appreciate that someone is willing and able to dig through mounds and mounds of archeological data and obscure texts to determine whether Napoleon was truly short or who won the War of the Roses and how.

That being said, I want to say something that’s apparently controversial to some: historians are not qualified to adjudicate the question of Jesus’ historicity in its entirety. Yes, historians might tell us whether there was actually some real person or even persons on which the myth was based, but historians cannot declare as true what we have ample independent reasons to know as false.

So if a historian wants to convince me that there was indeed a Palestinian Jew called Yeshua, son of Yosef, who started a little personality cult loosely based on Judaism some 2000 years ago, sure. That’s all well and good. However, it falls far outside the purview of historical research to settle questions of whether said Jew was born of a virgin, walked on water, broke the laws of thermodynamics by creating fish from nothing and turning water into wine, literally rose from the dead etc.

These are not open questions for historians to dig into. The question of whether these things happened is well and thoroughly closed with a resounding “no” and maybe even a slightly concerned “don’t be silly.”

There might or might not be a historical Jesus on which Jesus-as-told was based, but we know for a fact that Jesus-as-told is mythical on the same grounds that we know Hercules or Superman is. If someone is said to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or cure leprosy by magic touch, it’s ok to dismiss said person-as-told’s existence without ever bothering to check eyewitness testimonies or artefacts dug out from ancient ruins.

I promise.

Happy Easter!

Thoughts on atheists being in the minority

It’s true that the world contains more religious people than it does atheists, but consider it from a slightly different perspective. Regardless of what you believe, you must acknowledge the undeniable fact that even your religious beliefs are those of a tiny minority. We know with absolute certainty that no matter what the real religious truth is, the vast majority is wrong. There simply isn’t a significant amount of the Earth’s population that believes specifically and exactly the same set of religious beliefs.

Even given that we atheists are wrong, we must then necessarily conclude that whichever god there is, is either an atrociously ineffective communicator or completely indifferent to whether we humans hold true beliefs.

In either case I’m not particularly worried about said god holding me responsible for not believing. Quite obviously I am not responsible.

Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!

– Betrand Russel on what he’d respond if God asked him why he didn’t believe.

Why I can’t take Sea Shepherd seriously pt. 2

endbSguLPaul Watson of Sea Shepherd is angry that some unnamed official representative of the Faroe Islands supposedly dropped out of a televised debate with him. He’s now issued a challenge to any Faroese whaler or whaling supporter to debate him in the alleged offical’s stead. He’s making out that Faroese people are scared to debate him.

If he wants to debate Faroese whalers and whaling supporters and if he’s interested in them seeing his challenge at all, however, he might want to consider revoking his ban, dating from 13/08/2015, prohibiting every single person with a Faroese IP from seeing his Facebook page.

Who’s scared to debate who again?

Look, by all means be against Faroese whaling, but for crying out loud stop supporting this manipulative and dishonest hypocrite. He doesn’t care about whales, he doesn’t care about truth, he only cares about your money.

He’s not even present here on the Faroe Islands. He hides behind a keyboard spreading lies and propaganda, while fleecing impressionable young idealogues and sending them to do his dirty work for him.

Post edit: Not to mention that maybe Faroese officials don’t have the time to debate Paul Watson what with the upcoming general election on September 1st and all.

What language do you think in?

Since I speak Faroese, Danish, and English fluently, people often ask me which language I think in. I tend to answer I don’t think in language, because I like the incredulous reaction and because I genuinely think it’s a silly question. The question is seemingly based on the assumption that thinking is inherently a constant stream of monologue; an incessant talking to oneself inside one’s own head in a specific language – and only in that language.

Now, I don’t know what everyone else’s inner life is like. Perhaps I really am special in that I vocalise internally less than everyone else. Who knows? However, I am fairly certain the single-language internal monologue model of cognition doesn’t really describe anyone’s mind. I don’t think in language and if you actually stop to take notice of what’s going on inside your mind, I think you’ll find that neither do you.

First of all, let’s get the Continue Reading..

Secret World Animanhattan Recipe

While playing my favourite MMO, The Secret World, last Christmas I got a little consumable item called an Animanhattan. The flavour text reads:

A robust bourbon, sweet vermouth, dash of bitters, and a secret ingredient give this lavish cocktail an otherworldly kick.
Increases your out of combat health regeneration.

Being the drinks buff that I am, I knew I had to try making this! The flavour-text recipe is vague, and deliberately so, but that just leaves more room for creativity.

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Ingredients

The bourbon

First order of business is figuring out what a “robust bourbon” is. I decided that as bourbons go, you probably can’t get more robust than a Tennessee Whiskey that’s too pretentious to call itself a bourbon. Besides I had to deal with the limited booze selection on the Faroe Islands, so it was pretty much either Jim Beam or Jack Daniels. Jim Beam makes for a nice Old Fashioned, but I would be remiss to call its inoffensive flavour “robust,” so Jack Daniels had to be it.

The Vermouth

Agartha - The Secret World

Agartha – The Secret World

Next was selecting a suitable Vermouth. I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong here, really. However, a classical Manhattan uses red Vermouth. I wanted a clear one, because I wanted a golden-coloured drink to go with the golden colours of Agartha and Anima; respectively the mystical world-tree realm and the source of magic found in The Secret World. With a name like “Animanhattan” the drink needed to not only taste but also look the part. The description specifies a sweet Vermouth, but given what I chose as the secret ingredient, I think it would be forgivable to choose a more dry route, if one were so inclined.

The secret ingredient

This is by far the vaguest bit of the falvour-text. Given the in-game psychadelic consequences of imbibing one of these drinks, I suspect we’re meant to believe it contains something psychotropic and perhaps even supernatural. Given the illegality of mind-altering substances and the non-existence of the supernatural, I couldn’t very well live that up. However, in my mind the secret ingredient could ever really be one thing anyway. In the Secret World the player character gains their newfound magical abilities by eating a bee. When she dies, her soul is whisked away by bees and reassmbled into a living body at an Anima conduit. The bees buzz about Agartha and some times share lore about ancient mysteries through their buzzing. There’s only one thing the secret ingredient could ever really bee – excuse me be – and that’s honey. I chose some liquified honey for ease of stirring.

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Pieces of lore are beehive hexagonal in TSW

The bitters

Last as any bartending snob will tell you, if it doesn’t have bitters, it’s a sling not a cocktail. If you want to experiment, knock yourself out. However, Angostora bitters are a tried and true stable of drinks-making for a good reason. I added in a few dashes of those.

The finalised recipe

I created a little easily sharable image, because I have made peace with the fact that we no longer live in a world, where anyone reads more than 140 characters at a time. Enjoy!

Animanhattan RecipeP.s. Yes, I know it’s a Martini glass and not a cocktail glass. Don’t write in.

Why I can’t take Sea Shepherd seriously

The 29th of June the Facebook page of Sea Shepherd Denmark wrote about how Faroese police threatens tourists with fines and up to 2 years imprisonment for refusing to participate in Faroese whaling. It’s since been pointed out to them numerous times that this simply isn’t true. Yet they have to date never issued a correction let alone an apology for their false reporting as basic human decency, journalistic ethics, and intellectual integrity otherwise would demand.

Sea Shepherd also have proclaimed a list of rules for debating on their Facebook page, which include such choice items as “don’t use arguments that have already been rebutted” and “don’t keep repeating undocumented claims.” So I asked them, speaking of which, when were they going to issue a correction and/or apology for having reported something that wasn’t true? Their response? They deleted my comment and banned me from commenting on their page. This is fairly par for the course and representative of my experiences with debating Sea Shepherd in general. For instance, Paul Watson still hasn’t acknowledged or apologised for his lie that there are Minamata victims on the Faroe Islands.

Look, I get being riled up and disagreeing vehemently with people on certain issues. By all means, be angry, be passionate, be vocal about your point of view that Faroese whaling is wrong. However, if you’re unable to support this point of view without resorting to lying – which it is. Let’s be frank, if it were an honest mistake you wouldn’t mind correcting it – if you wilfully perpetuate falsehoods after it’s been pointed out to you they’re falsehoods, even if you believed it to be true when you initially shared it, you are a liar. And if you then systemically quash critical voices pointing out your mistake, you’ve graduated from liar to propagandist.

If you’re unable to argue your point of view without deceit, then no, you cannot be taken seriously.

And it doesn’t bode well for the merits of your point of view either.

Update: They just repeated their false claim less then an hour ago.

Update 2: This evening Jacob Vestergaard, Minster of Fisheries, contradicted the statement by the Faroese government in saying the new law would be enforced to the letter. It’s doubtful that’s even possible. How do you go about proving that someone saw a whale pod and didn’t report it?

To see the Fnords!

Have you ever encountered a new word only to realise it’s everywhere now, or – even weirder – that it was always there all along? It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It’s happened to me a numerous times, for instance with the word ‘copacetic.’ To my knowledge the first time I ever was aware that anything could be copacetic, was while reading Worm by Wildbow. I’ve since discovered the word in numerous books, tv-shows, songs etc. where I could have sworn it didn’t exist before I read it in Worm.

Today, however, brought with it an even stranger example. I’m a big fan of Munchkin by Steve Jackson Games. Appropriately I have an account on their forum because of this. Every year on my birthday the forum automatically sends me this amazing little e-mail gem:

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
The Illuminati are watching
Everything that you do
Fnord!

It’s an annual joy, to be honest. Today is the birthday of one of my dear friends, and – being the plagiarist that I am – I decided to steal the irreverent birthday greeting. Hold up. Fnord? Did it always say ‘fnord?’ For the last four years I’ve been reading it as ‘fhtagn!’ Sure enough. Looking through my inbox, it’s always been ‘fnord’ and not ‘fhtagn.’ I’ve been perceiving it wrong for over four years.

So what does ‘fnord’ even mean? Well, according to Wikipedia…oh. Oh, wow.

Apparently ‘fnord’ – the word I’ve been unable to see for so long – is an Illuminati conspiracy word, which is supposedly characterised by people’s inability to see it. ‘To see the fnords’ is idiomatic for the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

I have finally seen the fnords in regards to the fnords.

I credit my recent excessive playing of The Secret World.

Excessive Playing

It’s clearly made me more receptive to piercing the conspiratorial veil of secret societies.

I’m off to buy a tin-foil hat before I forget about the word ‘fnord’ again…

Or it could just be a coincidence.

Yes, keep telling yourself that, sheeple.

Fnord!

Thoughts on #Shirtstorm

matt_taylor_esa_shirtDr. Matt Taylor recently landed a spacecraft on a comet. He also happened to wear a shirt depicting scantily clad women to an interview. He subsequently issued a teary apology for his choice of apparel. My Facebook feed has since split in two. One half (mostly men but with exceptions) is outraged at Taylor’s treatment. The other half (mostly women but with exceptions) sees his shirt as symptomatic of the scientific community’s treatment of women.

I don’t think there’s actually Continue Reading..

One of these days

…people will have to stop being wrong on the internet.

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Heartbleed info

I know I don’t update often, so I’m not even sure if this is necessary. However, just in case anyone reading this has a user account on my website, I advice they change their password on my site and on any other site where they might have been using the same password.

My website is hosted at One.com and they have fixed the vulnerability issue, but the bug has existed for 2 years, so nobody knows who might have used it.

If you’re bad at making up new passwords, I recommend Lastpass.com