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Among the Sea Lions: A Case Study in Twitter Futility

Actually if Internet sea lions were this cute I wouldn't mind them
If Internet sea lions were this cute I wouldn’t really mind them

So a horse-loving, feminist-hating Roosh V fan popped into my Twitter mentions today, defending Roosh against accusations of rape by noting that he’s never actually been charged or convicted of rape. Which is true, though not actually proof of his innocence any more than OJ’s acquittal in criminal court is proof that he didn’t murder his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend.

mina

When Phil pointed out that his belief that Roosh is a rapist seems to be supported by Roosh’s own words, Ms. Smith declared that Roosh’s own words didn’t count, because they appeared in a post of mine. And that’s when, for better or worse, I entered into the discussion myself.

mina1

And then I asked the questions I ask everyone who accuses me of taking quotes out of context: Have you read the original quotes in context, and if so, could you tell me how I misrepresented them?

mina2

I don’t think anyone I have ever asked these questions to has given me a satisfactory answer. Most slink off at this point, their bluff called.

But others continue to bluff and bluster onward, doing their best to avoid answering the questions — either because they have read the quotes in their original context, and know full well that I didn’t misrepresent them, or because they haven’t read the quotes in the original and don’t want to admit it.

Still, I don’t think I’ve ever run across a bluffer quite as brazen or as persistent as Ms. Smith, who somehow managed, over the course of several hours of on-and-off “debate,” to avoid saying whether or not she actually read any of the books she claimed I was misrepresenting. Or even the post of mine she was ostensibly critiquing.

As the hours went by, her attempts to wriggle out of answering these rather basic yes or no questions took on a kind of Dadaesque grandeur. Read on, if you have the patience for it.

mina3 mina4 mina5 mina6 mina7

mina8

mina9

mina10 mina11 mina12 mina13 mina14 mina15mina16mina17 mina18minalastfinalfinal

Seeing the name “Mina” so often in my mentions made me think of the Bollywood classic “Eena Meena Deeka,” which is certainly more entertaining than Mina Smith’s “arguments” above.

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kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

I’m not going to admit to this idea that there’s some sort of deficit with observing the world beyond the standard unreliable senses…. That there’s some alternate form of “knowing” that’s unreachable to the scientific method, which literally doesn’t care about what you use to “measure” the universe as long as it’s got some sort of validity to it.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Kirbywarp:
Rebecca Watson did an excellent series of talks on “alternate ways of knowing”; of why people believe in them and what their social origins are. I highly recommend that you check it out.

@Catalpa:
Not only are the worst dregs of movement atheism highly privileged people who seem to be motivated more by punching down than by alleviating the oppressive system, they are often the very same people that are involved in MRA and #GG circles (Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad and Phil Mason aka Thunderf00t, for example).

As I opined above, I think such people may be attracted to siding with a movement like atheism or male supremacism because it gives them a position from which to attack a coherent ideology; in other words, to be a convenient staging ground for nihilism. The actual work of producing a viable better society tends to be neglected because it doesn’t offer as many lulz and as much of a feeling of power.

This doesn’t mean that atheism isn’t important. I’ve associated with the movement for several years now and will continue to do so because as WWTH and Falconer pointed out, the task of secularism is a vital one. However, I fucking hate having toxic people in the movement; I’d much rather have someone religious but nice, like Broken Butterfly, be an ally than someone awful like Mason or Benjamin or fucking San fucking Harris.

Hambeast, Social Justice Road Warrior
Hambeast, Social Justice Road Warrior
5 years ago

SFHC: As an ex-Lutheran (Missouri Synod ) who grew up in a pretty chill congregation, I watched as each successive pastor got more and more conservative. It seems to be happening all over. It’s one of the many reasons I left nearly 20 years ago.

The church I grew up in (blue area in a blue state) recently got torn down and is now a new apartment complex. They just couldn’t keep the place full enough with their conservative views.

Moocow
Moocow
5 years ago

Wow, that graphic is one I’ll have to save, Alan. I love the feeling of wonder that is seeing our place in the universe or just amongst different species

My belief system is somewhere between agnostic and atheist (I’m part of the first group, no religious influence and lots of Sunday sleep in time 🙂 ). I don’t believe in a divine entity, yet if I keep asking myself an endless series of ‘well what made this?’ Eventually I’m left with a question I can’t rationally answer. Like what actually caused the big bang? And if it was a natural process, what set that natural process into motion? Etc…

If I had to theorize, I’d say that our entire universe follows some sort of cycle:

Big bang happens –> gravity pulls dust into stars –> Stars explode leaving black holes and gravity wells –> these all pull together until everything becomes one again –> this triggers another big bang

Or maybe each black hole contains it’s own universe like some sort of infinite regression, meaning our universe is currently inside a black hole of some even bigger universe.

Someday I hope we do discover the origin of the big bang. Or how these intricate series of chemicals in my brain are allowing me to form pictures in my mind.

Hambeast, Social Justice Road Warrior
Hambeast, Social Justice Road Warrior
5 years ago

Falconer:

I would really appreciate it if my country would stop praying on the street corner and start praying in private, like the anarcho-communist hippie radical they swear up and down they love to pieces told them to.

Even though it’s a little lengthy, I want that on a t-shirt.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Moocow:

As the board’s resident astrophysics geek, would you like me to teal dear to you about that? Because I absolutely can.

Occam's Nightmare
5 years ago

The only context that could possibly make Roosh’s stories not confessions of rape is “Just kidding!”

tov01
5 years ago

@Occam’s Nightmare

I wouldn’t put it past him to do just that.

Moocow
Moocow
5 years ago

@EJ

Fuck yes! You have my enthusiastic consent 😛

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

Firstly let me get the disappointment out of the way: black holes do not work that way. So long as you’re outside its event horizon, a black hole has exactly the same gravitational pull as the star which collapsed to produce it. Therefore, the universe could be full of black holes and it wouldn’t collapse, unless the same weight of stars would cause it to collapse, in which case we would know about it already.

Sorry about that. But it gets awesome again.

This is crucially important, in fact, because it means that the gravitational effect on the universe is given by the total mass inside it; since this is almost certainly* a constant quantity, it means that the overall gravitational effect can be predicted. This is awesome because it lets us predict the shape and lifetime of the universe.

See, at the moment of the Big Bang the universe had a large amount of energy pushing it outwards. However, over time, this has been slowly but steadily counteracted by the overall gravity of the universe pulling everything together again.

You can think of this like a person throwing a ball into the air: initially the ball is thrown with great force, giving it enough energy to overcome gravity and soar upwards. However, it’s not getting any more force added so its ascent will slow as gravity pulls it relentlessly downwards, then eventually stop, and then it will begin to fall back down to earth; unless, that is, it’s thrown really really hard, in which case it’ll overcome gravity entirely and soar out into the void, never to be seen again.

The universe’s expansion is like that: It started out with a big initial push but gravity is constantly working against its expansion. If you have a head for maths then you can represent this with the formula

V = U – at

Where V is the current velocity of expansion, U is the initial velocity of expansion, a is the total gravitational pull and t is the age of the universe (approximately 4×10^17 seconds, which is 13.7 billion years.)

That is the only equation I’m putting into this, because I like the people here.

The strength of that gravitational force is given by the amount of mass in the universe. This means that we’re looking at the balance between mass and expansion force and asking which is stronger. Since most of the mass and energy of the universe is “dark” (that is, we know it’s there but we can’t see it) this is mostly driven by the question of how much dark matter and dark energy there is. There are three possibilities:

A. THE BIG CRUNCH
If there’s lots of matter (including dark matter) then the universe will expand, then stop, then contract again until we’re back where we started. For some universes this might result in a very brief lifespan; for others, a longer one.

B. THE BIG RIP
If there isn’t much matter, then the universe will expand forever, with the gaps between galaxies and stars growing larger. As it expands, matter is less concentrated which means that there’s less gravitational force, and so it can expand even faster. The universe will accelerate apart until every other star and galaxy is going faster than the speed of light away from one another, meaning that one by one the stars in the night sky will turn red and then go out entirely. The sky will be empty. Then our own galaxy and then solar system will tear itself apart. Eventually every particle will be torn away from every other particle and exist without ever interacting with one another.

C. THE OLD UNIVERSE
If the two exactly balance one another, then the universe will stop expanding and… not contract again, just remain balanced there forever, until the stars burn out entirely and there’s no fuel remaining in the entire universe to fuel the fires.

For a long time, everyone thought that A would be the result. However, the more we studied dark energy, the less confident we were about that: dark energy seems not to be on gravity’s side but instead seems to be pushing the universe to expand faster.

(“Dark”, by the way, is physicist speak for “we don’t know where it is.” There’s nothing supernatural about dark matter or dark energy, any more than there’s something supernatural about that copy of Guns, Germs and Steel I lent to my friend Julia in 2012 and have never got back. Space is big, and there’s lots of places that stuff could be; we can only see stars because they’re very bright. Anything that isn’t that bright will be impossible to see, hence “dark”.)

This next bit is very cool indeed.

In 1998, two separate teams studying very distant supernovae (Perlmutter et al at Lawrence Berkeley and Schmidt & Suntzeff in Chile) found that in fact the universe was accelerating apart. Most people thought that was just weird results, which is very possible because for distant stars our observations are very inexact. However, in 2005 some other physicists (Eisenstein et al) who were studying dark energy confirmed that the universe is in fact accelerating apart. Four further studies in 2011 (twice), 2013 and 2013 have not only confirmed this but have measured it, giving us some rough ideas of how fast the universe is accelerating.

Nobel Prizes have gone around as a result of this. A Nobel Prize is a physicist’s way of saying “Sorry we doubted you. You were right and we were wrong.”

Over the past few years, while most people missed it, science quietly confirmed that scenario B is in fact what’s going to happen. Isn’t that awesome? Absolutely cutting edge stuff, given the speed at which astronomy happens.

* Fred Hoyle thought otherwise, but since his death the idea has not been mainstream.

mildlymagnificent
mildlymagnificent
5 years ago

broken butterfly

And as for the praying… did you miss where I said I ASK people not of my religion if I can pray for them? I don’t just say “I’m praying for you”, I’m asking if you’re okay with that, and it’s not like I go up to random strangers and ask about it; I only ask for people I know

Just pretend that people you know are Australian rather than American and you might find it easier. I find people asking about praying for me or my family incredibly intrusive. It comes across – at least to Australians who are uncomfortable with the rather emotional and overly personal, uber-religious US style of doing things – as a demand to concede or to consider the validity of prayer and religion generally. Australia is not a religious place.

If you’re religious, I expect you to include people you care about in your evening prayers, maybe even get the priest to include a sick person’s name in the prayers of the faithful at mass next week. Otherwise you risk turning someone else’s stress or distress into an opportunity to discuss your beliefs ahead of their need for a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.

The very last thing I’d want is people asking me if I’m ok with that. You don’t need my approval. If I’m ill, or distressed about a family matter, I really don’t want someone asking me to think about the place of religion in my life. Your religion and its ritual is your business. My religion or lack of it is my business. Don’t push one up against the other when the other person is ill or upset.

Those discussions are for calm and friendly lunches or coffees. Not to introduce potential additional stress into already stressful circumstances.

tl:dr.
Don’t ask.
Presume that people who know you will be unsurprised that you as a religious person pray about matters that concern you.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

Fred Hoyle thought otherwise, but since his death the idea has not been mainstream

It was of course Fred who came up with the term ‘Big Bang’; he meant it pejoratively of course.

Still, as the idea of a Yorkshireperson being wrong is an oxymoron I refer to the big bang as “The Modified Steady State Theory”.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

Having checked my sources, I’m a little inaccurate. The “Big Rip” will only tear our galaxy apart in the Phantom Energy scenario, which is one possibility but by no means a certainty. We’re working on discovering whether or not it’ll happen, obvs. If it does, an estimate is that the universe will die at a total age of around 36 billion years; put it another way, the universe is now one-third of the way through its life cycle.

If the Phantom Energy scenario (thank you, Dr Baum and Dr Frampton for the scary name) is not the case, then what’s more likely to happen is that our galaxy will be isolated from all the others and will float alone in a gradually emptying sky as the stars slowly recede. This isn’t that bad because a) light pollution makes it hard to see the stars anyway, and b) we were never going to leave our galaxy.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

Ah, Fred Hoyle. “Space isn’t distant, it’s only 45 minutes away if your car could go straight up.” The world is poorer for his loss. Space science is replete with bombastic, iconoclastic English people; but very few have the sheer force of personality that Hoyle had.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ EJ and Moocow

I love that the question:

“What happened before the Big Bang?” used to be considered at best heretical and usually just nonsense, by definition. Now though the mainstream view is shifting to the view that there almost certainly was something.

There are many theories, I quite like the one that ‘our’ big bang was just one out of many. ‘Many’ being one of those numbers that’s 10*X^Y^Z!

The reason I’m attracted is that it tallies with something I’ve always thought intuitively. To me the obvious explanation for the ‘fine tuning’ of our universe is that this is just one of many abortive big bangs where all the key values just happened to be the ones that allowed for the long term formation of matter and the chemical processes that resulted in us.

And of course, with so many universes there’s probably one where the tuning worked out so Pandapool and Broken Butterfly can have their dragons.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

the Phantom Energy scenario

If Hollywood rejects your spec script go into research.

There was a great 2000AD story back in the 80s about the entropy death of the universe. “The speed of light’s not what it used to be”.

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

I am so thrilled to find Bollywood here! Hindi pop cinema is my happy place (although the heroes do an awful lot of stalking and pestering and domineering of the leading ladies in too many films. But at least there are also musical numbers).

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

For your viewing pleasure, I present misandrist Helen unfairly using her feminine wiles in a dance number/assassination attempt against fine upstanding alpha male Amitabh Bachchan:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahf1OL6rFdk&w=560&h=315%5D

Falconer
5 years ago

Even though it’s a little lengthy, I want that on a t-shirt.

Why, thank you very kindly.

Falconer
5 years ago

The “Big Rip” will only tear our galaxy apart in the Phantom Energy scenario, which is one possibility but by no means a certainty.

Personally, I find the Phantom Energy to be the weakest of the movies, in desperate need of someone who had the guts to go, no, that’s stupid, don’t include that.

Falconer
5 years ago

If the Phantom Energy scenario (thank you, Dr Baum and Dr Frampton for the scary name) is not the case, then what’s more likely to happen is that our galaxy will be isolated from all the others and will float alone in a gradually emptying sky as the stars slowly recede. This isn’t that bad because a) light pollution makes it hard to see the stars anyway, and b) we were never going to leave our galaxy.

I, for one, would prefer not to live on Krikkit, thank you very much. I am glad that I got to live in an era when there are still billions of stars to see.

kellyrtillson
5 years ago

That Bollywood video is insane and 1,000,000 times more significant than everything that has ever come out of the MRM.

freemage
5 years ago

SFHC: I can’t speak to Australian Lutherans, but I attended a Lutheran-affiliate college many years back, and American Lutherans have three main sub-sects.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has the plurality, I believe, and is the most liberal of the three. Occasionally, the ELCA and the Episcopal Church (the American branch of the Anglican Church, which is also pretty liberal) like to talk about unification. There’s just enough dogma to keep it from happening, though.

After that, we have the Missouri Synod. These are considerably more conservative on most issues, though local branches may occasionally drift leftward. They also still usually take the various injunctions to feed the poor and heal the sick pretty seriously.

Then there’s the Wisconsin Synod. These folks are not only very conservative, but also usually quite insular–they tend to regard non-WS Lutherans as suspect, at best, and everyone else who calls themselves a Christian is most likely a dupe for the Anti-Christ. They tend to come across like, yes, fundie evangelicals when they are noticed at all.

Tracy
Tracy
5 years ago

@EJ (The Other One) – that was AWESOME to read, thank you!

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Tracy:
You’re very welcome. Any opportunity to witter on will be gleefully seized.

Binjabreel
5 years ago

I’ve heard another doomsday scenario in the expanding universe paradigm is eventually the space between electrons and protons expands enough that the fundamental properties of matter start to shift, or matter itself becomes unstable and everything collapses into dust as the electrons spiral away from the nuclei of every atom simultaneously.

Broken Butterfly
Broken Butterfly
5 years ago

[blockquote]And of course, with so many universes there’s probably one where the tuning worked out so Pandapool and Broken Butterfly can have their dragons.[/blockquote]

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

[blockquote]Just pretend that people you know are Australian rather than American and you might find it easier. I find people asking about praying for me or my family incredibly intrusive. It comes across – at least to Australians who are uncomfortable with the rather emotional and overly personal, uber-religious US style of doing things – as a demand to concede or to consider the validity of prayer and religion generally. Australia is not a religious place.[/blockquote]

Alas, as I am terrified of people and a shut in, I admit I know very little about others in detail. This is one of those things I didn’t know, so I’ll be sure to keep this in mind! Thank you~.

Broken Butterfly
Broken Butterfly
5 years ago

And it is clear I have no idea how formatting works. Whee!

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

@Broken Butterfly
Try these instead of these [ ].

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

@Broken Butterfly
Hmm. That didn’t work. Try the “sideways V” (on the comma key and the period key) instead of the square brackets.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Binjabreel:
That’s true. That may well happen. The universe may well end up with every particle travelling away from every other particle so quickly that no information can be exchanged. This is the final stage of the Big Rip scenario.

Basically, it comes down to dark energy, and specifically how it’s distributed throughout the universe. This is a problem because as mentioned, we can’t see it to study it. As such a lot of our theories borrow from the particle physicists.

The current Standard Model of cosmology says that the force from dark energy is constant, meaning that the universe’s acceleration is constant; which means that it would never become strong enough to cause a Big Rip. Some other models, such as Phantom Energy or Kinetic Quintessence, argue that dark energy’s outward push would become stronger as the universe expands, meaning that our acceleration is accelerating. If that’s true then it may be strong enough to cause a Big Rip.

If the Standard Model is right and a Big Rip doesn’t happen then the galaxies will just recede from one another, and the only stars in the sky will be those near us.

Weirdly, some of those who once believed in a cyclic universe (that is, big bang -> big crunch -> big bang) are now saying that a big rip could also result in a cyclic universe, and so are supporting theories other than the Standard Model. It might be that they really want a cyclic universe, or it might just be that the alternative – the Old Universe, in which all the fuel burns out and entropy claims us all – is just really bleak.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
5 years ago

@Falconer:
I appreciate that you may not want to live on Krikkit. I don’t either, mostly because they don’t understand the game of cricket there and I like cricket. Sadly cosmology is not a democracy: we don’t get to choose our cosmos, just discover which one we’re in.

The good news is that we live in one of those universes which is not instantly fatal to all life. That’s a bit of a relief, especially when you look at the number of possibilities.

Moocow
Moocow
5 years ago

@EJ

Fascinating. Too bad black holes aren’t as mystical as they seem, but it still boggles my mind that we are, in fact, drifting farther apart, it seems to defy logic. I do hope there comes a day when we discover what dark matter or dark energy consists of or what their properties are. An energy that counteracts gravity seems like no easy feat.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ Moocow

An energy that counteracts gravity seems like no easy feat

A fridge magnet can overcome the entire gravity of the Earth.

[There’s probably a “Gravity, do you even lift Bro?” comment to be had here somehow]

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