Tag Archives: YouTube

Cyber bullying of science

cyberbullyingI am always amazed at how easily public discussion about scientific issues can degenerate into childish and nasty attacks on science, and scientists. This is especially true for internet discussion – this medium really does seem to bring out the worst in some people.

Over the last few years we have seen climate science, and climate scientists treated this way. I have always tried to support that science, and those scientists, from afar and never thought I would become a victim of such nastiness myself.

Then I got involved in the fluoridation issue.

I am not critical of everyone who opposes fluoridation – some of my best friends oppose it. I can understand why some people will advocate personal freedom over social good. I can even understand the chemophobia and other misunderstanding which can make the less scientifically literate person a bit wary of fluoridation.

Anti-fluoridationists – a strange social mixture

But the anti-fluoridationists are a strange social mixture. Amongst the well-meaning environmentalists and health advocates there are some really irrational people. Conspiracy theorists are common. Some are concerned about chemtrails, others about Agenda 21 and attempts by the UN to control birth rates! Then there are the right-wing extremists, supporters of the US Tea Party Republicans, absolutely opposed to any community measure for social good.

The anti-fluoridation movement is a strange mixture of left and right, concerned greenies and outright libertarians. One wonders what would happen to these groups if the fluoride issue disappeared and internal strife broke out.

Unfortunately, it seems that quite often in the current controversy the more extreme conspiracy theorists and anti-science elements seem to be making the running. Speaking and acting for the more genuine members of the anti-fluoridation groups.

Internet bullying

I thought this only happened with teenage schoolgirls, or young female celebrities, but now find that even someone my age can become a victim. This video demonstrates the sort of attacks people who speak out about the science underpinning fluoridation can be exposed to. It really does put into context the decisions by local Health Boards not to participate in political meetings on fluoridation because of threats to, and attacks on, their staff.


In a way, this sort of bullying is a bit of a compliment. Perhaps I have done something right to have upset these anti-science extremists. But it is not about me. This sort of thing illustrates the sort of nasty hysterical anti-science propoganda out there on the internet. The worrying thing is that this guy actually does have a following (about 9500 subscribers to his YouTube channel). When I expressed ignorance of who he is one commenter told me that “everyone” in Australia and New Zealand has heard of him!

Yeah, right. But he is obviously popular with a certian group of people.

Image credit: uknowkids 

See also:

Similar articles on fluoridation
Making sense of fluoride Facebook page
Fluoridate our water Facebook page
New Zealanders for fluoridation Facebook page

And now for a bit of drama


And all to launch the TV channel TNT in Belgium.


People saying stupid things on the Internet

I saw this young Muslim women on the TV news last night. She was demonstrating against the US over that silly video. The interview asked her _”but don’t you believe in freedom of expression.

Her answer – “Yes, but not when it comes to religion!”

My response – grow up!

That’s why I like this little skit on the current situation (thanks to YouTube video mocking Atheism greeted with global disinterest by Atheists).-  I think there are some lessons in it:

A YouTube video mocking followers of science and those who discount the probability of omnipotent deity, has resulted in complete indifference throughout the Atheist community.

Theist comments on the video claim that the video will see “atheists burning down churches the world over!” have been met with blank stares by people who consider themselves ‘atheist’.

Non-believer Simon Williams told us, “I’m not sure what reaction they were expecting, but I’m afraid people saying stupid things on the Internet doesn’t really bother me.”

“What with me being a grown adult and everything. Tantrums haven’t really been my thing since puberty.”

“Do I want to kill the people behind it? No, of course not.”

“Though I would like to give them a few science lessons that didn’t end with the conclusion ‘God must have done it’.”

“But I’m not hopeful.”

Youtube video protests

The maker of the video has gone into hiding claiming that Atheist disinterest in his film has infringed his religious freedoms.

The unnamed producer explained, “It says quite clearly in a passage of one of my holy books – a passage that is definitely open to interpretation in the way that I want – that I must take the fight to non-believers – and yet here you all are refusing to fight.”

“You are oppressing my religious freedom to claim religious oppression.”

“What will it take?! Why can’t you at least throw a rock at me or something?”

“It’s almost like you’re suppressing the evil inside each of you in order not to look like dicks.”

“I’m guessing you get the strength from the Devil himself.”

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“Other ways of knowing” and their result.

Here’s a little clip from one of Richard Dawkins presentations.

I think it’s a fitting illustration of what science would be like if epistemologically it behaved the way religion does.

It also ridicules the concept that religion has “other ways of knowing” which are more reliable than science.

Richard Dawkins: If Science Worked Like Religion

A lesson in human logic

As taught by Tim Minchin.

I hasten to add that there is no intention to offend Mr Whippy.

tim minchin on human logic – YouTube.

Thanks to Massimo Pigliucci

Rational morality

Here’s a great video. It’s not short (31 mins) but its well worth watching right through – or downloading and watching later. Even watching several times, the speaker is so eloquent and precise with his language.

In it Scott Clifton gives a thorough critique of the Christian apologetics understanding of morality. He also gives a good outline of secular morality – a rational, objectively-based morality.

Treatise on Morality. – YouTube.

Clifton stress morality is important because it determines how we behave and how we interact with others. In the video he sets out to answer four questions:

  1. What do we specifically mean by words like “right,” “wrong,” “moral,” “immoral,” etc.?
  2. Why our definitions are useful and applicable and why they represent how the vast majority of people see these words, whether they realise it or not?
  3. How can we objectively determine what is “right” and what is “wrong” without appealing to personal taste or subjective opinion?
  4. Why we ought to do right and ought not to do wrong?

He answers the first question by defining “right” as that which promotes the health, happiness and well-being of humans. Or minimises unnecessary human pain or suffering. And “wrong” of course is the converse.

Immediately I know many readers will reject his definitions. But if you do, you should hear him out. Watch the video. Listen to his arguments.

I suspect you might find that you do in the end agree. I do.

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Avoiding possible catastrophe – even if you are confused

Here’s a nice little video from Greg Craven. It’s arguing for an approach to the climate change controversy which doesn’t involve understanding complex science – risk management.

It’s a sensible approach. one that governments and organisations often take when they are unclear about the science. When the consequences are such that waiting until the science is completely settled (never happens) before taking action means likely catastrophe.

How It All Ends – YouTube.

Thanks to Lynda Hannah.

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What’s this about cosmic rays and global warming?

This old argument is getting another airing among the internet climate change contrarian/denier ghetto. Briefly it claims that humans have nothing to do with current climate change – it’s all caused by the sun! Specifically the influence of cosmic rays originating from the sun on formation of clouds in the atmosphere.

Of course things are never that simple – but that doesn’t stop those wishing to justify a preconceived position. And the sudden new evidence which is being touted arises from a recent paper from CERN  Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation published in Nature. The denier ghetto has come out with headlines like New CERN “CLOUD” Study Makes the Al Gore Climate Change Forecasts Obsolete! Or locally the NZ climate change denier blog Climate Conversation asserts CLOUD proves cosmic ray link!

The reasearch findings in no way justifies these headlines. And even veteran denier Richard Treadgold at Climate Conversations has backed away to some extent from his headline. Nevertheless it ahs him demanding that New Zealand review its Emmisions Trading Scheme and he thinks that “warmists” are responding by “rushing to the exits”!

Yeah, right!

What are the research findings?

Potholer54 has produced a nice video summary of the facts around this research Are cosmic rays causing global warming? It’s well worth watching

Another brief video, starring Jasper Kirkby the lead scientists in this work,  also provides more information on this work  Kirkby on Cosmic Rays

As Kirkby points out the work is only the first step in this research and says nothing about the influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation. This initial work really only reports the influence of chemicals and cosmic rays  on nucleation of chemical particles which may eventually lead to some cloud formation.

As for headlines like CERN: ‘Climate models will need to be substantially revised’ Kirkby points out we are a long way from that – at least ten years before the influence on models can even be considered.

It’s certainly interesting research, but only one step in considering climatic effects. We still have a long way to go to understand how clouds and other aerosols influence climate change.

And it is the nature of research that we should be ready for all sorts of tangential leads produced. For example, perhaps this research may in the end say more about the influence of human activities on climate through the emission of all sorts of chemicals not yet considered and their role in cosmic ray induced particulate formation in the atmosphere.

Thanks to Richard Christie and Cedric Katesby for videos.

See also: For a more detailed discussion of Kirkby’s research watch this  video of one of his lectures (65 min): Jasper Kirkby: The CLOUD experiment at CERN.

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‪Videos on morality

I often discuss a scientific approach to morality‪ because I find this an interesting and developing field. However, morality is still sometimes linked in the public mind with religion, so it’s worth actually considering those religious arguments.

QualiaSoup is currently posting a useful YouTube video series on morality. I have posted No 2 below. It deals with the problems of religious morality, or the “divine command” concept of morality. It’s quite thorough.

Morality 2: Not-so-good books‬‏.

There is at least one more video to come in this series.

No 1, Good without God, is below.

Morality 1: Good without God‬‏.

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Supporting good science communication

If you have watched any of the short videos from YouTube channel, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, you will appreciate how good they are. Always well produced they deal with specific arguments made by climate change deniers and contrarians.

Well, the author is in a competition for a $5,000 grant. If he wins he can make even more effective videos. The prize will help him with “better software, a good video camera, computer upgrades, sound clips and stock footage.”  (see Climate Denial Crock of the Week · Brighter Planet).

You can support him. All you have do is register at the link and vote. This is worth supporting – good science presented well!

Here’s one of the videos – very relevant. There’s more like it (see Climate Denial Crock of the Week):

Thanks to PZ Myers (see Climate denialists should fear this fellow)


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