Quid Novi? | Commentators’ Guidelines Addendum


I’ve posted this elsewhere on the site just yesterday, though I’ve been using the policy unwritten but de facto for several years now. I’ve officially updated my Commentators’ Guidelines page with the following addendum. ~Troythulu

I believe firmly in free speech up to a point, and it has come to my attention that at least one reader has attempted to comment on posts only to have their comments wind up in this blog’s spam folder for meeting Akismet’s criteria for spam.

I’ve used for the last several years a strict policy of deleting such comments as brevity in this blog’s comment threads is a virtue and a Good Thing™ for the aging eyes and limited time of other commenters and myself. It also saves me time otherwise spent offline in posting any needed responses in a thread.

Please keep any comments, even if a previously approved commenter, concise, succinct, and with as few links as possible. If you need to post anything over 75 words, please post it in full on your own site and post a brief comment with a link to the appropriate comment thread here.

I, my cats, and the other readers thank you for your consideration.

For example: https://troythulu.net/2017/06/10/ubi-dubium-the-three-faces-of-skepticism/ Skepticism is both a set of intellectual and ethical values as well as a process, a set of methods, not merely an identity or a label. Any yahoo can call themselves a skeptic. If you ignore skeptical values or methods in what you do, then you aren’t being skeptical.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

I’m Baaack.


It’s time to end the most recent blogcation and resume regular posting. This piece originally dates from 2010.11.21 after my first blogcation had ended. My anger has largely abated, except when vulnerable people get hurt or defrauded, and my disillusionment regarding the failures of skeptical thought leaders in their endorsement of the infamous Conceptual Penis Hoax of Lindsay and Boghossian. Hopefully, I’ve migrated to a skepticism more robust and better informed than before. But I do think less of these individuals as serious skeptics than I once did. Things change, and so too my views. This post has been updated where needed.

We live in an angry society which in some quarters values blind faith over thinking, with political and ideological polarization between right and left, religious fundamentalists and everyone else, and a notable rise in public rejection of science and credulity toward pseudoscientific claims.

In times of uncertainty, especially with the current status of the economy, people tend to more easily entertain irrational ideas, and worse, accept them as fact. It’s become common for many to behave as though irrationalism is the new reason.

Skeptics are motivated by a number of reasons for their being what they are, whether a passion for science, the value of truth and reason, simple doubt, the need for the promotion of better education, and any number of other reasons. But skeptics can also be motivated by anger, and a few wear this openly while others are no less honest but more discrete in expressing it.

Even the late Carl Sagan, in his masterpiece The Demon Haunted World, at times showed a subtle frustration at the proliferation of nonsense in the last decade of the 20th century, which has only been aggravated in the past 19 years and shows no sign of abating any time soon. He wasn’t abrasive about it, but he expressed a frustration that I suspect all of us feel.

The causes of this anger come easily to mind; loved ones lost through the denial of adequate medical care caused by the pursuit of quack remedies, and the crushing despair that follows false hope; children or adults hacked to pieces or burned alive in the name of superstitious beliefs in witchcraft and magic; botched exorcisms that kill far more people than any imaginary demon ever could; intelligent but vulnerable people who lose thousands in return for the worthless services of psychics; political obstructionism in dealing with major environmental problems based on anti-scientific denialism; the short-term educational and long-term economic consequences of the encroachment of sectarian religious ideologies in public schools and science classes.

These things alone are enough to make anyone angry, and yes, especially me. The people who promote the claims we skeptics oppose sometimes get angry as well, but with much less real moral justification – they are angry because skeptics are costing them customers, cutting down on their book royalties, keeping more people than they’d like away from their seminars, retreats, and churches, and reducing their clientele for whatever untested or failed “alternative” medical modalities they promote – skeptics have bit by bit eroded their celebrity, their influence, and worst of all, their bottom-line, by showing people how to how not to be taken in by the nonsense.

The propagandists of unreason often have the upper hand, since they aren’t in any way constrained by the limits of intellectual honesty, logic, facts, evidence, or even reality. They have the liberty and the incentive to make sh*t up as they please, and they are very effective at persuading people to believe them, considering that their claims, often not even arguments, only assertions, make headlines and grab ratings for the credulous and journalistically sloppy media outlets that promote them.

But sometimes skeptics win, like with Kitzmiller vs Dover in 2005, or the successful deconstruction of the 9/11 conspiracy film, Loose Change, in an issue of Popular Mechanics.

But it’s far from over. In truth, it will never be over. Ever.

It sickens me to the core of my being to see people cynically lied to, used, robbed, defrauded, hurt, even killed, all for somebody’s stupid, blind, dogmatic sectarian doctrine or reactionary ideology. Nothing that we think, believe or do is without real consequences.

There’s work to be done.

Ts. Tk. Tts.

Quid Novi? | Restructuring – New Years plans


Vanakkam. Now that the year is underway, I’ve got a full weekly study and work schedule set up. This post is the last of those already prescheduled on this blog, so I’m announcing a two-week blogcation and recharging period so that I can keep things updated here and still have room for non-blogging activities while not endangering my health.

One thing I’ve added to my schedule is experimenting with recording podcast audio clips, so giving me even less time to allocate, though still within my limits. Tamil study is coming along well, while I’ve also begun lessons in precalculus, graphic design fundamentals, and in shorthand script for rapid lecture/debate transcription.

But, that being said, what’s in store for the site at blogcation’s end?

I’ll continue the Gods of Terra primer series, the next installments being part I and II of the setting’s history. I’ll also post new installments of the Lost in Translation series, for some cool mnemonics I’ve come up with for Tamil vocabulary, and some of those for Bengali past tense, present tense, and negational verb forms that I’ve found useful.

I’m doing new fiction as well, and that and the Gods of Terra primer installments will also appear on this site’s sister blog, Checkerboards of the Gods.

While I’m not writing and finalizing new drafts, I can spend time updating older posts. I’m nearly finished on a few posts in draft already, including a tutorial on Mandelbulb 3D, now for v.1.9.7.

I’ve see a need for more skeptical content on the blog, so with my tendency to binge on podcasts I’ll use that for topical inspiration. That should be fun, and a great opportunity to support the shows I enjoy.

So,

I’ll see you in two weeks, ready and recharged. May the intervening time be good for you as well!

And with my hideously amateurish grasp of Tamil, I’ll leave you with this:

Naan pooyittu varaenga.

Quid Novi? | 2018: Year in Review


Vanakkam. 

Namaste. 

Namaskar. 

And in Soruggon, 

Ikhtighar Furiit. 

Greetings, humans! It’s been long, long while since I’ve done a decent end-of-year piece on this site, so now that this blog has been around for some 10 years and two days, here it is. It’s been a busy year, with a lot going on. It’s the start in many ways of a new era. I’ve had to let go of things, and embraced both new insights and learned some amazing things along the way. I’ve met new people and parted ways with others. Best of all, my mental health over the past year has vastly improved as I’ve freed myself of what doesn’t work and kept at what does. This is the last post on this blog for 2018. I wish a happy and prosperous New Year for you and yours!

Blogs and Other Social Media: 

I’ve left Twitter, with both of the @Troythulu and @Mister_Eccles accounts deleted. I’ll not be returning in the foreseeable future.

I’ve deleted all but four of my blogs, leaving only two WordPress sites, my Blogger site, and my Tumblr site remaining. 

I’ve deleted two old and moribund FB pages: Mr Riccles and The Collect Call of Troythulu, the former for my cats, the latter for my blogs. 

Later in the year, I restored older blog pages on this site.  

Earlier in April, I began the first major cleanup of posts on my blogs in nine years, deleting low-impact posts and unused tags, setting up others as drafts for rewriting, updating, and reposting for better traction. 

Lifelong learning and Study: 

I’ve finished and reviewed remedial lessons in both of Algebras I & II 

I’ve completed part 1, Units 1-13 of Complete Bengali, began intermediate – level study in Part 2, units 14-26 with some interruptions. Not as much progress as I’d have liked, but no biggie. 

After a hiatus and reorganizing of my study schedule, I’ve resumed learning of Tamil and Hindi, and vastly expanded my subscription to podcasts in both of those languages and in Bengali.  

I began course in graphic design fundamentals. This will prove most useful. 

Home Affairs: 

Got a standing desk attachment for my workspace. 

Assisted with home renovations at my family’s place in the 2nd half of 2018,  

Writing and Publishing Goals Met: 

Self-published my fourth book, The Giant who Fell from the Dark beyond the Sky: And Other Collected Works.  

Throughout the year, made regular contributions to Miss Sharmishtha Basu’s PDF eZine, Agnishatdal (the lotus of fire). 

Started my own email PDF newsletter, The Pikatron Monthly, in June. If you’re interested in subscribing, email me at troythulu@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the list.

Began research on Tamil slang, history, and culture for an upcoming book to be self-published sometime in late 2019, early 2020. 

No, That’s Not An Argument…Really, It’s Not.


Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my acquaintances on social media had sent me to a link to an obviously (to me at any rate) ideologically partisan blog, that linking to an also obviously partisan interview on another blog, one with a climate change contrarian, in hopes, perhaps, of magically getting me to ‘see the Truth™’ and instantly transforming me into a climate change contrarian with a flash of mystic pixie dust, or the powder of Ibn Ghazi sprinkled ‘pon while making the Voorish sign…

Not that there’s anything bad about pixies, mind you…at least they’re a bit less antisocial than gremlins in those IT communities of make-believe.

*Ahem.*

Well, neither the blog nor interview was anything but pure politics and so hardly scientifically compelling, I posted a response to her via private message, with only minor edits [in brackets] for context in this blog entry:

“One thing I’ve learned about science over the last seven years is that no matter what you may personally believe, its results don’t depend on religion, politics, or ideology; they don’t depend on what you had for breakfast, what party you campaign for, or what you disapprove of; and they don’t depend on the agenda of an imaginary Evil Leftist (or Centrist, or Rightist) Conspiracy™.

Trying to debunk science with politics, or anything else [but science itself], shows a mistaken view of how science works, what it is, and what it’s for; Whatever you may think, science is an evidence-based enterprise, not “What do we want to vote on today?” or an electoral primary.

I have standards as to which arguments support the claims they are alleged to. None of these implies any need for perfect absolute proof, just minimum cogency:

1. They must be cast in the most neutral, objective language possible, avoiding ideological buzzwords and partisan slogans. This is simply known as writing professionally.

2. They must commit the fewest possible errors in reasoning, avoiding as many logical and rhetorical fallacies as can be managed. The argument’s conclusion must follow from the premises reasonably.

3. They must commit the fewest possible factual errors and inaccuracies. Any facts the premises are based on must really exist as claimed…out-of-context factoids and half-truths are not acceptable legal tender. Those damnable standards again.

Any argument failing even one of these tests has no leg to stand on, and cannot serve as reliable support for the claims it makes.

If offers a claim without the evidence it purports to, and so may be dismissed without evidence against it, as there is none for it [as per Christopher Hitchens’ Dictum].”

Whether the blog and interview it linked to that she sent me (I read both) was simply a quick attempt at ideological conversion, or an actual argument, is irrelevant.

The attempt in its own way was admirable: We all want others to accept the truth as we see it. The trouble is, however, that often what we consider to be true is frequently not. That’s the consequence of living in a universe with phenomena, like climate change, whose policy implications often run counter to what our political, religious, and economic or other ideologies tell us.

I’m Baaack.


I’ve decided to rerelease this post, with minimal editing for clarity, at its original date of publishing in 2010, the end of my first blogcation. My views on the rationality, or its lack, of faith, my views of skepticism, of humanism, and of my nontheism, have evolved since then. So too has my then-naivete of the darker sides of tribalism and cults of personality involving certain skeptical thought leaders, and I hope that some of that naivete has grown by now to a more robust skepticism. My views of unproven, disproven, and untestable claims have also evolved, with the major outcome being more rigor and less anger, except when and where vulnerable people get hurt.

~ Troythulu, 2019.5.12

We live in an angry society which values blind faith over thinking, with political and ideological polarization between right and left, religious believers and nonbelievers, and a notable rise in public rejection of science and credulity toward pseudoscientific claims.

In times of uncertainty, especially with the status of the economy in this country, people tend to more easily entertain irrational ideas, and worse, accept them as fact. It’s become common for many to behave as though irrationalism is the new reason.

Kriss, in a blog post (Click Me Here), discusses this very thing, and how it applies to the rise of atheism in the last decade in opposition to the ascendance of religious conservatism and its active promotion of religious privilege worldwide.

Skeptics are motivated by a number of reasons for their being what they are, whether a passion for science, the value of truth and reason, simple doubt, the need for the promotion of better education, and any number of other reasons. But skeptics can also be motivated by anger, and a few wear this openly while others are no less honest but more discrete in expressing it.

Even Carl Sagan, in his masterpiece The Demon Haunted World, at times showed a subtle anger at the proliferation of nonsense in the last decade of the 20th century, which has only been aggravated in the past 10 years and shows no sign of abating any time soon. He wasn’t abrasive about it, but he expressed a frustration that I suspect all of us feel.

The causes of this anger come easily to mind; loved ones lost through the denial of adequate medical care caused by the pursuit of quack remedies, and the crushing despair that follows false hope; children or adults hacked to pieces or burned alive in third-world countries in the name of superstitious beliefs in witchcraft and magic; botched exorcisms that kill far more people than any imaginary demon ever could; intelligent but vulnerable people who lose thousands in return for the worthless services of psychics; political obstructionism in dealing with major environmental problems based on anti-scientific denialism; the short-term educational and long-term economic consequences of the encroachment of sectarian religious ideologies in public school science classes.

These things alone are enough to make anyone angry, and yes, especially me. The people who promote the claims we skeptics oppose sometimes get angry as well, but with much less real moral justification – they are angry because skeptics are costing them customers, cutting down on their book royalties, keeping more people than they’d like away from their seminars, retreats, and churches, and reducing their clientele for whatever “alternative” unproven or disproven medical modalities they promote – skeptics are bit by bit eroding their celebrity, their influence, and worst of all, their bottom-line…by showing people how to think for themselves and how not to be taken in by the nonsense.

The propagandists of unreason often have the upper hand, since they aren’t in any way constrained by the limits of intellectual honesty, logic, facts, evidence, or reality. They have the liberty and the incentive to make sh*t up as they please, and they are very effective at persuading people to believe them, considering that their claims, often not even arguments, only assertions, make headlines and grab ratings for the credulous and journalistically sloppy media outlets that promote them.

But sometimes skeptics win, like with Kitzmiller vs Dover in 2005, or the successful deconstruction of the 9/11 conspiracy film, Loose Change, in an issue of Popular Mechanics.

The current political turnout in the U.S. will not be conducive to making us rationalists warm and fuzzy nice-guys, so it looks like sleeves will need to be rolled up, because it’s far from over.

It sickens me to the core of my being to see people lied to, used, robbed, defrauded, hurt, even killed, all for somebody’s stupid, blind, dogmatic doctrine or ideology. Nothing that we think, believe or do is without real consequences.

There’s work to be done – I’m glad to be back in the ring, peeps.