Do’s and Don’ts of Reposting Inflammatory Articles on Social Media

Do’s

Check the article’s sources.
Does the article source any of its information? Where is the information coming from? Is it a reputable news outlet, or is it an opinion piece? Beware clickbait sites – For example, it’s common to mistake usatoday.com with usatoday.com.co (a “satire” site that looks nothing like USA Today). Does the site source other sites? If you don’t know where the information comes from, it’s a huge warning sign. When in doubt, check the “About us” section of the site – Reputable satire sites usually offer hints that they are satire, although clickbait sites sometimes do not.
Vet the source of the information.
Do other articles on the web site make sense or sound absurd? You may be on a clickbait site, or a “satire” site, or on an opinion piece. Opinions are only worth the reliability of the source of the opinion.
Google the topic.
This is especially useful if you are unsure of the quality of the source of the information. Find out if other people are reporting it. If it’s as big as the news claims to be, you are certain to be able to find other sources for the information, simply by Googling. You may also find articles that offer another perspective, allowing you to clarify what it is you actually know about the events being reported on. You may also find a Snopes link, or other article refuting what you are reading. It might also be worth searching your topic with the words “scam” or “debunked” after it.

Don’ts

Share an article without checking it.
Not everyone on the net is thorough in checking what they read. By committing to be thorough for yourself, you are helping to reduce the amount of misinformation on social media. Sure, one person doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, but doesn’t it suck when you post something and someone who is checking articles posts a Snope’s link to rebut what you just posted?
Comment/Like an article without checking it.
This may go without saying, but it’s easy to start participating in a comment thread on a completely unvetted topic. Then, minutes, hours, or days later someone comes by and tells you that the article you’ve been so worked up about is actually a hoax, or “satire”. Doesn’t that make you feel silly?
Share/Comment/Like an article without reading it.
It’s easy to get worked up in the rush of doing other things and judge an article by its headline. With the advent of clickbait, this isn’t excusable anymore. So often articles are posted with an inflammatory headline, and then when you read the article you find that its either exaggerated, or sometimes completely different than the headline implies.

Half-finished Book Review: “More than a Carpenter”, by Josh and Sean Mcdowell

I’m quite often asked by believers to “read this material”, in an attempt to convince me that God exists, and that the God of the Christian bible is the one I should worship. Often that material is the bible itself (which I have read several times), but sometimes I’m asked to read apologist literature. Normally my policy is to ignore the request – If there were some convincing argument for God, I would expect that he would vouchsafe it to all of his believers in such a way that hardly any atheist would be able to ignore it.

That said, this past May I tabled an event in York, PA for Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, and I was challenged once again to read some apologist literature, this time “More Than a Carpenter”, by Josh and Sean McDowell. The gentleman who asked me to do it sent it to me in the mail, so since he took the time to do it I thought I might record my thoughts here in this blog post.

The book itself is copyright 1977. ISBN: 978-1-4143-3380-9. The version in my hand is a small paperback, 179 pages. Without further ado, off I go!

Chapter 1.

“My Story”

The author (I presume Josh, as there are two authors but the preface refers to Josh McDowell personally, so unless otherwise indicated, I will refer to him as JM as he does.) claims that at one point he was lost, that he made fun of Christians. He ran into “a good looking woman” (he indicated he thought all Christians were ugly), and she told him Jesus Christ makes her happy. His “new friends” then convinced him to study the bible to see the truth of it. Then he read the Bible and (unreferenced here) history books and thus was convinced the Bible was real and became a Christian. And he’s convinced he can convince others, by the end of the book.

Chapter 2

What Makes Jesus So Different?

First he asks why Jesus is different – He asks the question why the name Jesus Christ offends people the way that Buddha, Muhammad, or Confucius do not?!?!?! (Apparently he doesn’t get out much – And that’s not to mention the loaded assumption that the name Jesus Christ offends anyone in this majority Christian dominated society – It’s not the name Jesus that offends, it’s what many of his followers do.)

After making his assumption that people are offended, he then presumes that the answer is because they did not claim to be God (Although, Jesus never claimed to be God). He spends the rest of the chapter trying to rest his argument on the bible itself that Jesus claimed to be God (Although all of the writings we have about Jesus are not in the first person, and are also not written by contemporaries of Jesus – If he existed, we have no idea what he claimed to be). Nor does Jesus’s supposed claim to be God actually speak to whether God exists or Jesus is God.

Chapter 3

Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?

Before I delve into this chapter, I want to comment that Lord, Liar or Lunatic is a false trilemma first offered by C.S. Lewis. It neglects the option of “Legend”. It presumes that Jesus existed, and said and did everything attributed to him. Back to the book.

OK, so in this chapter, JM presents each option in turn, and offers reasoning based on the bible and what people say about Jesus. Let’s begin:

Liar: Much of this section is an argument from personal incredulity – The author cannot believe that he’s a liar, and quotes other people who cannot believe it.

Lunatic: He talks pretty. And sounds smart. So Jesus can’t be a lunatic.

Lord: People believed that Jesus was the Lord throughout history. So he is.

We’re left with the last, unstated option in the book – Legend. This is the option that neither JM, nor C.S. Lewis considered.

Chapter 4

What about Science?

Jesus isn’t a question for science because science needs to be repeatable and you can’t repeat his miracles. Therefore science has nothing to say about it.

That’s really all there is to this chapter.

Chapter 5

The Challenge of New Atheism

JM indicates that this chapter was written by his son, Sean, so I will refer to the chapter author as SM.

SM indicates that atheists have existed throughout history, because of Psalms 14:1, which he quotes as referencing someone saying “There is no God”. However, to be clear, this is what Psalms 14:1 actually says:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

I just want to make that for point of clarification – Of course, what the bible says about atheists I do not believe, as I know many atheists that do wonderful, great things.

The author claims that old atheists realized that the universe is a cold dark place, and so if you tell everyone you might experience the collapse of western culture. I’m barely paraphrasing that sentence, all of the phrases are used in the book, and I’ve kept the intent intact.

SM also poses the question that if the mind evolved, how can we trust it. He ignores objective instrumentation and measurement as a possibility at all, as well as the verification and replication of scientific studies.

He also questions whether science and religion have warred with each other, because many scientists were Christian. He seems to ignore the fact that Religion has fought to contradict any scientific advancement that contradicts its teachings – He also ignores that in every such conflict, religion has lost and has had to adjust to the truth of the world around it. Science has not lost any ground because of “religious truth”.

Anthony Flew thinks that God exists, so science must prove God.

DNA is too complex, it must be intelligently designed. So says Anthony Flew, and atheists because they don’t claim to know how life originated (a tentative proposition at best), can’t be right about there not being a God.

A whole two pages devoted to the “Fine-Tuning” argument, which I’m not going to waste everyone’s time with. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe.

Is Atheism More Moral (subchapter).

SM offers this argument, without any justification for any of his premises:

1) If objective moral values exist, God must exist (Untrue – Things can be objectively moral without God, and even more specifically without the Christian God).
2) Objective Moral Values exist (Well, that’s debatable.)
3) God must exist (Still up for question)

Part of the chapter is spent addressing the fact that many new Atheists refer to Religion as evil, and offers some defense for religion. Of course, whether religion is good or evil is irrelevant to the question of whether Jesus was God or God exists, but there are some pointed errors as to including Nazis as an “Atheist” evil. Hitler was Catholic, but even still neither Hitler or Stalin did what they did in the /name/ of Atheism. Millions have died in the name of Christianity and other religions, and this chapter either minimizes that or flat out lies about it.

We finish the chapter with Atheists being declared to have an ‘attitude’.

Chapter 6

Are the Bible Records Reliable?

We are back to JM again.

Much of this chapter directly contradicts modern, accepted biblical scholarship. He claims that the bible books were written in the MID-FIRST-CENTURY! That’s just bloody insane. For more information on this, I strongly recommend reading more accepted scholars such as Bart Ehrman.

OK – I’m done. I’m about halfway through the book. And I am just wasting my time here. There’s no reason for me to finish the book.

Rapturous Thoughts

According to a Pew Report, 41% of Americans believe the rapture will happen by 2050 (presumably in their lifetime). Listen folks, there’s no difference between believing it will happen on a specific date, believing it will occur in your lifetime, or believing it will happen at all.

All of it is magical (and wishful) thinking. So, if you believe that the rapture will happen, and mock those who picked last Saturday as their ticket “home”, you should reconsider your position. 2,000 years of rapture predictions have happened with people thinking it will happen in their lifetime, and all of them have proven wrong.

What gives you the “faith” that God has picked YOUR life as one that Jesus will come back to earth for? Why do you insist that you are somehow more special than those other people? In fact, why do you have faith at all he will come back?

More “Woo” comes to Central Pennsylvania!

http://www.i-newswire.com/pennsylvania-s-first-himalayan/97232

Found this article today:

Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center, 120 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT 05701, March 21, 2011 – Dr. Margaret Smiechowski, North America’s foremost expert on Himalayan salt, is pleased to announce that her latest salt cave design is set to be revealed on March 29th, 2011, at the opening of the Tranquility Salon and Wellness Center in Carlisle, PA. Like all of her salt caves, the Carlisle cave features eco-friendly building materials and a highly sophisticated climate-controlled environment. However, this cave represents what Dr. Smiechowski calls the “new generation” of caves in the United States.
Continue reading More “Woo” comes to Central Pennsylvania!

Slightly disappointed…

A week ago, I went to the American Atheists 2009 conference, and for the most part, had a great time. Melisa and I got to meet a lot of great people, and talk, and heard some great speakers.

One experience, however, has stuck in my mind since the conference, and I thought I’d share about it. I’m pretty much a left-wing liberal secular humanist atheist, while my wife is a dyed in the wool right wing Ayn Rand objectivist atheist. This, in itself is causes some interesting discussions in our house, but hey – Discussion of differing ideas is what makes the world go around, right?

Well, that’s kind of what disappointed me. When I mentioned that fact to the people at our table after Mike Malloy said he couldn’t see how you could be right wing and atheist, (And hearing some of the loud agreement with that statement at the conference), I was dumbfounded as to how close-minded some of our fellow atheists seem to be on this topic. When my wife mentioned some of the ideas of objectivism to a lady at our table, she (the lady in question) became livid at the idea that government shouldn’t help the indigent and the poor. This seemed to color the rest of the conversation we were having as well. Now, I do disagree with this statement, but it seems to me that this type of thing should be able to be discussed without the obvious anger and revulsion at some logical and rational level.

In any case, it seems that even we, who claim to be open minded and rational, tend to have a bit of work to do in our own camp as well.

New Information vs. Old Information

One thing I hear frequently from Christians is the idea they have that God wants (Insert thingy here). Usually people come up with this after praying, or say that God speaks to them in a quiet voice. I wanted to write a note to suggest to those people that they should perhaps consider that the voice comes from another source.

My daughter once suggested to me that perhaps this is our dreaming world, and that when we dream, that is reality. I’ve heard this to suggest things like astral projection and the like are real things as well.

I wanted to offer this other point of view as a way to “test” the “reality” of both of these claims.

Let’s take as premise that our brains are devices that process information for our bodies. Our lives are spent gathering new information that is processed by our brains.

Our brains are capable of taking that information and re-arranging it in all sorts of ways, but there is only so far you can process information. For example, you might pick up clues from body language and such that Harry is cheating on Sally, but in order to figure out that it’s with Jane Smith from Cleveland, you must have some knowledge of Jane. You can’t divine out of thin air that bit of information.

So, as test, think back over your life throughout those answers to your prayers. Have you ever received a NEW bit of information from God? A single one? Or, rather, has it always been information that if you thought really hard, you could have come up with on your own?

My answer to my daughter’s case was: Have you ever received a single new bit of information in your dreams? How about when you were awake? It was simple to point out to her that in fact, like every one else, her dreams were her body’s way of working out information relationships for things that she ALREADY KNEW. Thus, her dreams can’t be any form of reality.

In any case, food for thought…