Scientific Method

by baldilocks

A scientific experiment: “Come and see.” The Journey of the Magi (1894) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.

Gerard Vanderleun on science, mystery, vision, the worship of false gods and of the true One:

It is a central tenet of our faith in science that the new will encompass the old in one endless and eternal conservation of sense and sensibility. In this cathedral we worship a database. We can see outward to the edge of what is, and downward into time was to (almost) the moment of Creation. We can see inward into (almost) the mute heart of matter. We have the proven method. We have the hard evidence. We know that nothing is, in time, beyond our knowing. All doubt has been removed. We are the Alpha and Omega. Our science is now as eternal and as deeply grounded in truth as… well, as astrology was in 5 B.C.

Somewhere around 5 B.C. three of the world’s leading astronomers/astrologers noticed something unusual in the sky. It could have been a comet. It could have been a supernova. It could have been a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. Whatever it was, it was strange enough for them to travel towards it. Or so it is said. Or so it is written. Or so it is remembered from the time of myth.

Myth or history? What is the reality of this road trip towards an obscure birth in a wretched town, during a not very pleasant passage in history, over 2,000 years in our past?

We do not know. We cannot know. As it is in so much else that we ignore it is not given to us to know.

We have only shards of pottery and fragments of texts snatched from desert caves or teased out of the soil with tin trowels and brushes. We have only the sifted detritus of history; a global jigsaw puzzle where ninety-nine percent of the pieces have long gone to dust.

Our past is a handful of ashes. It is beyond our gift to ever know the difference between an inspiring folk tale and the eyewitness accounts of something that, even today, would occupy the realm of the miraculous.

As well-done a praise and worship for the Way, the Truth and the Life as any. Read the whole thing.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

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A female lead comparison: Rogue One vs. Ghostbusters

Note: I just saw Rogue One last night, and this post will not contain any spoilers.  Go see the movie in theaters, it is awesome!

When I heard a remake of Ghostbusters was coming out, I was intrigued.  I hadn’t loved the original Ghostbusters, but it had been a good enough movie that a reboot could be awesome.  So I watched the trailer with my wife.

And we both were like…seriously?  It was terrible.  I had a few friends see the movie, and they hated it too.  Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t kind, and if you click the Top Critics vs. All Critics, it gets worse.  IMDB was even less kind.

But the criticism of what is obviously a terrible movie suddenly exploded into charges of sexism.  Obviously male audiences rated the movie poorly because it had female leadsObviously, males are inherently sexist and can’t stand to have a strong woman in a film.  The same critics conveniently tied in Donald Trump as the continued their rage on the internet.

If you need a perfect counter example, see the recent Star Wars films.  Both Episode 7 and Rogue One have female lead characters, and have done outstanding.  Episode 7 had Rey, General Leia and Captain Phasma, and while you could argue that the movie splits attention between Rey and two male characters, Rogue One’s Felicity Jones is definitely the star and main focus of the film.

So why the difference?  Why did Star Wars, which has a cult following like Ghostbusters, do much better?  Sexism can’t explain it, but I think I can, contrasting Ghostbusters with Rogue One.

Rogue One stayed true to what made previous movies great.  People like Star Wars because it has space battles, blasters, aliens and the occasional Jedi with a lightsaber.  Rogue One never broke from this.  They then created characters (bad and good) and pitted them in a good vs. evil environment, adding a few twists to keep you on your toes (did I mention you need to see the movie yet?).

Ghostbusters was a hit because it was a comedy.  Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and the rest of the cast are funny people, and their dry sense of humor appealed to audiences in the 1980s.  The new Ghostbusters, while they tried to make it funny, focused too much about the fact they had a female cast.  They added social justice to a movie where people wanted to watch a team of four people fight ghosts and save New York City.  When people blatantly saw this in the trailers, they immediately turned hostile (the YouTube trailer has over 1 million down thumbs so far).

Rogue One had a diverse cast.  Besides the aliens, it featured lots of non-white actors and actresses.  But it doesn’t shove that in your face.  It lets you draw the conclusion that the Rebellion embraces diversity while the Empire looks more uniform.  Letting people develop their own answers makes them more powerful in the end than providing the “obviously” right answer.  In contrast, Ghostbusters gives you the answer, and treats you like an idiot if you don’t like it.

The last point is that Ghostbusters did a terrible job using stereotypes.  In Ghostbusters, the stereotypes are connected to the actresses gender and color.  Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, is a loud mouth black female because apparently that is how black females are, or at least that’s the stereotype we use to judge her behavior in the movie.  Contrast that with Ernie Hudson’s character, who played a pretty upstanding guy in the original movie.  Rogue One ties stereotypes to the character, not the actor.  Jyn plays a hardened rebel.  She’s tough, hates the Empire and has no problem shooting Stormtroopers.  There isn’t any mention of her being a woman.  Again, letting the audience come to the conclusion that a female lead is awesome makes the message more powerful.

My advice to aspiring social justice warriors trying to champion a cause is to stop shoving things down people’s throats.  If you want to champion diversity and women’s issues, look to the example set by Rogue One before you make another terrible movie.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Galactic Empire or the Emperor.

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What Facebook said to Newsbusters and What I heard

Trust but verify

Ronald Reagan

When I read this response from Mark Zukerberg to Brent Bozell’s worries about Facebook labeling news as fake:

I expressed grave concern with this decision and the liberal ‘fact-checking’ organizations Facebook has chosen. Mr. Zuckerberg assured me that his express aim is to eliminate only patently false news stories from Facebook. He underscored he has instructed these organizations to focus only on truly fake news and nothing of a political nature.

and saw this tweet:

My mind instantly heard

This is the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe, but it is a demand on which I will not yield. I am thankful to Mr. Chamberlain for all his trouble and I assured him that the German people wants nothing but peace, but I also declared that I cannot go beyond the limits of our patience. I further assured him and I repeat here that if this problem is solved, there will be no further territorial problems in Europe for Germany.

I suspect it’s because of these multiple examples of facebook bias from this post,  Molly Hemingway’s excellent federalist piece

This is not to say that “fake news” doesn’t exist. Of course it exists. It always has and it always will. But the idea that it’s a major problem requiring limits on expression is crazy. Even the stories claiming it’s big news show that it’s not. Pew Charitable Trusts followed their progressive marching orders and did a poll on the matter. They spun it as dramatically as they could: “Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion.”

But it actually showed that 84 percent of Americans are confident that they can detect fake news when they come across it. Their concerns about fake news are really concerns about the spread of false information — something that just as well describes mainstream media as sites that more overtly craft fake news.

and this one at Breitbart

IFCN is hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. A cursory search of the Poynter Institute website finds that Poynter’s IFCN is openly funded by Soros’ Open Society Foundations as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Poynter’s IFCN is also funded by the Omidyar Network, which is the nonprofit for liberal billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The Omidyar Network has partnered with the Open Society on numerous projects and it has given grants to third parties using the Soros-funded Tides Foundation.  Tides is one of the largest donors to left-wing causes in the U.S.

All of this comes down to what a Galenian, whose birthday we are celebrating a week from tomorrow, once said

A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.

Now while I understand that Mr. Bozell as a Gentleman took Mr. Zuckerberg at his word

I will accept in good faith his commitment  to address our concerns on this matter.

I trust he did so in the spirit of Churchill and not of Chamberlin and with the full knowledge that many below him in the Facebook hierarchy who will be actually making the decisions on what to flag and what not will take Mr. Zuckerberg’s statement to him with a wink and a nod.

As for me, my decision years ago not to join facebook, not even for the promotion of the site or radio show, is looking better & better.

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