I'm the scary Luciferian Satanist your pastor warned you about.
In the interests of this page not being almost laughably pointless, I thought I'd add a little about myself.
I am (in no particular order): Mostly British, partly Roma; opinionated; stubborn; bisexual; sci-fi geek; former semi-pro wrestler (i.e. a hobby you make a few bucks at); mostly liberal; gamer; Fortean; writer of works that never get produced. Also, a comic-book geek (current favourites: Fables, Hellblazer, Ultimates)
Areas of interest: History (esp. classical); law; politics; religion; criminal psychology; cyber culture; sex, sexuality and sexology; Forteana.
Day job: Website admin (and no, I won't tell you which site)
Truest statement about human nature: "People will say they want freedom and justice for all. What they really want is an assurance that life will go on, much as it did before, and tomorrow will be very much like today" ~ Terry Pratchett--Ebon 05:27, 12 February 2009 (EST)
Fortean: Someone fascinated by, but largely skeptical of, unexplained phonomena. One example would be UFOs. A UFO is simply an object in the sky which cannot be readily identified. Living under a flight path, I see them all the time. Of a thousand UFOs seen, 90% are normal aircraft, 9% are misidentified natural phonomena, 0.9% are experimental aircraft of some kind but that still leaves 0.1% that isn't any of the above and that's the part I'm interested in.
Evolution: Is broadly accurate. I can entirely understand the person who quibbles with the exact details or sequence of events, that's a reasonable discussion. I can understand the person who believes a deity was involved somewhere along the line, that's my own position but the lunatics who believe that the entire universe was created in the space of a week a few thousand years ago are insane. This entire delusion is based on one of two possibilities:
A) That all the evidence otherwise is a conspiracy among archeologists, historians, anthropologists, physicists, cosmologists and sundry other persons of standing. Now, conspiracies do happen, only a fool would dispute that but the larger the number of people involved, the more likely it is that they will be exposed. For example, the assassination of JFK could have been pulled off by three or four people (note, I am not saying this was the case) and therefore, it is vaguely possible that they would have been able to remain undiscovered. The numbers required for, say, a "Jews run the world" conspiracy to be accurate mean that the chances of everyone involved being able to remain undetected over any length of time are virtually nil. The idea of a conspiracy among all the groups listed to surpress the "truth" of evolution is in roughly the same ballpark. After nearly two centuries of research involving evolution, the chances of everyone involved being able to remain undetected are vanishingly small.
B: The idea that God (or Allah or Xenu) created the world as described in Genesis but placed eveything to create the appearence of an old universe. In which case, one question occurs: WHY? What on earth would be the point? Testing our faith? Well then, one is confronted with a god who likes to play games with humanity.
Conspiracy theories: I think of myself as a conspiracy researcher rather than a theorist. The difference is firstly, whether we are led by the evidence or vice versa and secondly, whether we are willing to discard a theory when the evidence swings against it. That conspiracies happen is indisputable as the definition of a conspiracy is simply two or more people working in secret to achieve some illegal or unethical aim. Therefore, every street gang dealing drugs is a conspiracy as is every coup. Likewise, that political conspiracies happen is indisputable. The conspiracies known as the Gunpowder Plot, Iran-Contra and MK-ULTRA/DELTA/NAOMI are all publically recorded facts. Depending on how you define the term, PNAC could be thought of as a conspiracy. To my great annoyance, conspiracy research is now so mocked in the public that I spend half my time trying to convince people of conspiracies such as the above that we know damn well happened.
From the above, it can be extrapolated that there are a non-zero number of political conspiracies running at any particular time. However, as also noted above, the chances of such a conspiracy remaining successfully undetected decrease as the number of people involved increase and also decrease the longer such a conspiracy runs. For example, MK-ULTRA employed many people (although few knew the full extent of the program) but as time went on, more and more reports came to light and eventually, the program was entirely exposed. Very simplistically, one could put it thus: chance of remaining undetected = (number involved DIVIDED BY length of time operating) MULTIPLIED BY media attention .
It is therefore possible in theory that a large-scale conspiracy could survive undetected for an indfinite length of time but it is extremely unlikely. Why is media attention considered a beneficial factor to remaining undetected? Because unless the facts come out quickly, the mass media will tend to repeat the official explanation (hence why virtually every JFK documentry these days repeats the "magic bullet" theory). No, that doesn't mean that the mass media is part of the conspiracy but the mass media have certain biases and one of them is laziness. It is a great deal easier and cheaper to repeat the official theory than it is to do original research or even question those involved in original research. Another of those biases is pack mentality. While engaging in original research could lead to great acclaim, it could also be proven wrong which would damage one's reputation. However, if everyone sticks to the official explanation, no-one risks looking foolish. Finally, there is now a mentality in place that is willing to disregard anything which seems like a conspiracy theory regardless of the evidence offered. This mentality seems to be relatively recent (perhaps an outgrowth of the Satanic Panics?) but it serves to effectively shut down debate on any controversial topic as soon as it is described as a conspiracy theory. For example, there is considerable evidence that the 2000 election involved some deep irregularities which, in combination, mean that Al Gore legitimately won the election. Now, that evidence may be worthless but because this theory was publically considered a conpiracy theory, much of that evidence has never been properly examined.
Scientology: Never trust a faith which copyrights it's scripture.
Non-Overlapping Magisteria: I'm a believer in NOMA. I think science and religion deal in completely different areas and have little or nothing to offer one another. Science can tell us what is true but "what is truth?" isn't a question for science but for philosophy and religion is, in the end, a form of philosophy. Science tells me what a human is while philosophy (in the form of religion here) examines the question of what a human can be. The two deal in different things with different methods, tools and criteria. All fine so far.
The problem I keep running into is that, eventually, the two will have to come into, if not conflict, then some kind of accomodation. For example, let's say (for example), that we have the ability to fully clone human beings. That's science. But the question of whether we should do so is ultimately a philosophical question. In order to answer that question, it seems we're forced to bring philosophy/religion into the arena of science (if someone can think of a way of answering the question that doesn't fall back on philosophical questions, I'd love to hear it). Note, that's not the same as forcing religious/philosophical beliefs into the arena of science (as, for example, in the stem-cell debate). It's more that eventually science is going to run into issues which have no answer but the philosophical and, since both religion and philosophy deal with similar areas, that's going to unavoidably mix the two to some degree. So, while I agree with the principle of NOMA, it's not entirely satisfactory and I continue to seek a happy accomodation between the two.