Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

A New Video on the "Consensus"

So a while back I decided to make some YouTube videos about various topics I've discussed on this blog since videos can be a lot more digestible than blog posts. Life got in the way though, and I kept putting them off. That's finally changed though. I'm happy to say I've published my first "real" YouTube video about a climate change related issue. For my first video, I figured I'd tackle the 97% consensus meme, and the con that went into making it. You can check out the video here:

One thing I realized during previous attempts at making videos is I felt like there was too much "dead time" in terms of what was on the screen, where nothing was happening. The obvious solution to this was to get on camera and show my face as I talked during those portions. I'm not super comfortable with that, but I decided to go ahead and do it. I also edited the video a bit so I could do things like splice in video clips.

I'm not exactly thrilled with how the video turned out, but I think it turned out alright for a first attempt. My hope is with practice and experimentation, I'll be able to improve so I can make videos people will enjoy watching and find informative. Given that, any feedback is welcome!

Is Skeptical Science Planning to Sue Me?

A few days ago I received a rather strange e-mail, and I'm not sure what to make of it so I thought I'd share it and my response:

The author of the e-mail is apparently Rob Honeycutt, a member of the Skeptical Science group. I don't know why he'd send an e-mail like this, and honestly, I didn't know what he was referring to. In the past, the Skeptical Science group has accused me of hacking into their servers simply because I followed publicly accessible links provided by their own server. They even threatened me with legal action, going so far as to say they'd sue me if I showed anyone the threatening letter they sent. They're not the brightest bunch, and a lot of what they say just isn't true.

But I did get a follow up e-mail which might shed a little light on the matter. I responded to it in the hopes of sorting things out privately, but since haven't heard anything back in a couple days I guess this is the end of the exchange:

The cited law is about wiretapping, and it can potentially come up in some cases of computer hacking. That said, I don't know what the point of these e-mails could be. A formal notification like this seems intended to be only makes sense if it's used as part of some proceeding against me, like a lawsuit or criminal complaint. If that was the purpose though, the notification was legally deficient. Moreover, any lawsuit filed against me would be dismissed immediately for about nine different reasons.

Maybe he's going to try to file a criminal complaint? If so, I can't imagine anyone will take it seriously. Maybe he'll try to get my server's host company to do something? If so, they won't care about the ravings of some random guy off the internet. I don't know. This really makes no sense to me. This couldn't even work as an intimidation tactic since he didn't try to get me to do anything. I am confused.

The North Were Not the Good Guys, Part Two

Last year I wrote a post responding to a video I saw which asks if we should still be watching the classic movie, Gone With the Wind. A couple days ago I heard HBO had pulled that movie from its new streaming service, saying:

'Gone With The Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society.

These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible

This reminded me of my previous post and my failure to write a follow-up to it like I had planned. Given the current atmosphere of our society, it seems like a good time to go ahead and write it. The reason I think this is I think it's important we recognize the North were not the "good guys" of the Civil War.

I don't think the South were the "good guys" of the Civil War either. Like many wars, I don't think one side was "good" and the other "evil." What I think is portraying the Civil War as a simple thing, a war fought by the "good guys" to end slavery by the "bad guys" whitewashes history and invites further wrongdoing.

People can be on the "right" side of a conflict and still be terrible people or do terrible things. Refusing to speak up about them because the people are on the "right side" of a conflict sabotages any effort for genuine improvement. This is true with people's hypocritical support of Al Sharpton, and it's true with people's blind support for the North. The sad truth is, Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant whose abuses of power would make Donald Trump blush.
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I Want to Support the Protesters, but...

I naturally want to support people who claim to be fighting for racial equality because nobody should be treated differently due to the circumstances of their birth. Then I see these people do things like let Al Sharpton give nationally televised speeches in front of millions of viewers, and I can't.

Al Sharpton is a race-baiting, anti-Semitic blackmailing, tax-dodging hypocritical piece of human refuse who should go down in history as nothing more than a bigoted conman who did things like incite rioters to rob and attack Jews, ultimately helping get at least one innocent Jewish bystander murdered.

You cannot tolerate, much less promote or stand next to Al Sharptons and make me believe you care in the slightest about racial equality. Sharpton help lead race riots, modern day American pogroms.

If you want people to think you care about racial equality, the first thing you should do is condemn the single most influential peddler of bigotry this country has. And somehow, it's not Trump.

Lafayette Square

I had been planning on starting up writing blog posts again, and there's stuff to be said about that. However, before I can post about anything I wanted to post about, I need to make something clear. What Donald Trump did this week at Lafayette Square is beyond inexcusable. I don't have the skill at wordcrafting to do the situation justice. I also don't feel comfortable writing about it right now. So instead, for today, I'm going to just post a video I think does a good job of expressing how I feel:

New posts and some interesting news to follow.

A Relevant Quote

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

The Impeachment Worked

I've been seeing a lot of people talk about how the impeachment of Donald Trump is a waste of time and money. I've long heard people say it would never work, and it appears they are correct... in a way. However, I think this impeachment has done exactly what it was supposed to do.

The Democratic leadership didn't pursue impeachment for many previous offenses, even as many Democrats called for them to do so. The reason is they never expected Donald Trump to be ousted by any impeachment trial. The purpose of this impeachment trial was to make a case for the public to see how craven the Republican defenders of Donald Trump are. This was ultimately just a way of saying, "We (probably) can't stop Trump because his sycophants are in control. If you vote for them again, this is what you'll get."

Republican defenders of Trump don't want to see evidence. They don't want to hear from witnesses. They don't want to have any discussion of Trump's behavior at all. They will do practically everything in their power to stop any examination of Trump's behavior because their view is Donald Trump is their party, therefore no opposition to him can be tolerated. Note, I said he *is* their party, not he is *of* their party.

You cannot be a Republican and oppose Trump in any meaningful way, You will be driven out of the party. Many people already have been. That level of willful polarization in the party is a depressing state of affairs, but it is also the best state of affairs Democrats could hope for. Their message is becoming, "If you think it is bad to have a king as president, with no checks on his power, don't vote Republican."

I wouldn't care to predict if this approach will pay dividends in terms of election results, but it has certainly worked in terms of messaging. I'd wager almost nobody believes Trump and his supporters are acting with any integrity at this point. Even the people who defend him largely recognize it's purely for partisan reasons. Ask some of them, and they'll all say basically the same thing, "It's 'us' versus 'them,' and any member of 'us' is better than 'them.'"

Hot Take on MLK

Martin Luther King Jr. cheated his way through college, relying on numerous and massive cases of plagiarism, to the point his doctoral thesis is utterly without value. When this was discovered, his university, his family and many others went to great lengths to try to cover this up. When that failed, they did everything they could in order to downplay it, to the point society at large doesn't know about it, and those who do usually don't know how significant it was.

During the Civil Rights Movement, King intentionally had youths engage in dangerous protests so pictures would be taken of children being assaulted, which he felt would generate better publicity than if it were adults who were assaulted. There is significant reason to question whether this tactic actually helped his cause. Many of King's contemporaries were adamantly opposed to King's practice of intentionally creating violence, especially when those who would get hurt were children.

There's much more that could be said, but my point isn't to say King was a terrible person. My point is this, King was not a great man. He's celebrated today not for the person he was. King is celebrated for a person he never was. Today we celebrate a figure created out of ignorance, self-delusion and outright lies.

Here's my hot take, we would not have this holiday if King had not been assassinated by a white man when he was. His death created a symbol of a black man people could use to signal their opposition to racism.