Thursday, May 15, 2008

Say NO to Red-Light Cameras

I'd like to discuss an issue that upsets me. That issue is the fact that dozens of red-light cameras are going up all over the country. Advocates claim that these cameras keep people from running red lights and are keeping people safer. But from my research, what they actually do is cause more accidents, don't stop people from running red lights, and are purely there to gain revenue for the state. Not that it shocks me though; its just like the government to instate a policy which makes them richer at the expense of human safety.

Without further adieu, let me just get to the meat and potatoes of my post and get down to the statistics.

The first issue I want to raise is the fact that red light cameras have not been proven to be effective in several studies done across the U.S.

A study done by USF Health, and released in March of 2008, shows that "cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs."

Another important finding of this USF Health study was "[s]ome studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major 'research design flaws,' such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras. Insurers can profit from red-light cameras, since their revenues will increase when higher premiums are charged due to the crash and citation increase, the researchers say.

Langland-Orban said the findings have been known for some time. She cites a 2001 paper by the Office of the Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, reporting that red-light cameras are 'a hidden tax levied on motorists.' The report concluded cameras are associated with increased crashes, the timings at yellow lights are often set too short to increase tickets for red-light running, and most research concluding cameras are effective was conducted by one researcher from the IIHS. Since then, studies independent of the automobile insurance industry continue to find cameras are associated with large increases in crashes."

A study done by the government itself (!) showed that red light cameras cause just about as many accidents as they stop. This study, done by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA-HRT-05-048) in April of 2005, shows that in some jurisdictions the cameras only reduce right-angle crashes by as much as 40%, while the rear end collisions have gone up as much as 38%.

Another aspect of this study estimated how many collisions occurred before and after the installation of the red light cameras, and here are the findings:

Before the installation of the cameras they noted a total of 1,542 right angle crashes, with 351 "definite injuries." The total of rear end collisions were estimated at 2,521 with 131 "definite injuries."

After the cameras were put in place they found a reduction of 24.6% right angle crashes, with 1,163 crashes, and 296 "definite injuries." While the rear end collisions went up to 2,896 with 163 "definite injuries."

In total, after the cameras were put in place, there was only a 24.6% drop in right angle crashes, and a 15.7% decrease in injuries. On the other hand, there was a 14.9 increase of rear end collisions, with a 24.0% increase of "definite injuries."

These figures sure don't look very promising, with not even a reduction of half of the right-angle crashes. The red light camera proponents tout their safety benefits but it's obvious they cause about as many crashes as they stop.

Another study that was done in California between 2004 to 2005 showed similar results. The year before cameras were installed, they monitored three intersections in the city of Costa Mesa and found that there were 39 accidents, while after the cameras were installed, it was reduced to 28; a drop of only 28%. While in the city of Fullerton there was a total of 88 crashes before the cameras, and 83 after; only a 5.7% decrease.

In fact, they even did a study in Westminster, which had no cameras, and from 2003 to 2004, there was a 24.1 % drop in crashes, though they attribute that to "added raised medians."

On page 7 of the study, they ask "Are RLC's 'cash cows' for cities?" They answer with a bit of a round-about answer saying that 33% of the fines were not paid. Yet, just above they ask the question "RCLs aren't cheap. Why use them?" They give their reasons about safety, etc., but the very last sentence they say, "In addition, RLCs are seen as a potential source of municipal revenue." They right out admit it's mostly about money, because even their own study shows that they do not reduce accidents to a worthwhile amount.

In a 2005 Washington Post article, they reported "that the number of accidents has gone up at intersections [ in D.C.] with the cameras," and that the "increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices."

The story also reported that, "[t]hree outside traffic specialists independently reviewed the data and said they were surprised by the results. Their conclusion: The cameras do not appear to be making any difference in preventing injuries or collisions.

'The data are very clear,' said Dick Raub, a traffic consultant and a former senior researcher at Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety. 'They are not performing any better than intersections without cameras.'"

A study of the issue showed that "the number of crashes at locations with cameras more than doubled, from 365 collisions in 1998 to 755 last year. Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, from 144 such wrecks to 262. Broadside crashes, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, rose 30 percent, from 81 to 106 during that time frame. Traffic specialists say broadside collisions are especially dangerous because the sides are the most vulnerable areas of cars."

The article continues, "the number of crashes and injury collisions at intersections with cameras rose steadily through 2001, then dipped through 2003 before spiking again last year.

The results were similar or worse than figures at intersections that have traffic signals but no cameras. The number of overall crashes at those 1,520 locations increased 64 percent; injury and fatal crashes rose 54 percent; and broadside collisions rose 17 percent.

Overall, total crashes in the city rose 61 percent, from 11,333 in 1998 to 18,250 last year.

Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the data reinforce the motor club's view that the red-light effort is targeted more at generating revenue than at reducing crashes. 'They are making a heck of a lot of money, and they are picking the motorists' pockets on the pretense of safety,' he said."

To give the reader an idea of how much money the state rakes in, some of the articles I read said that the revenue generated by the cameras was in the millions in many cities. For example, in the Washington Post article I just cited said that in six years the cameras generated $32 million in fines.

The second issue I wanted to address was the privacy issue. Many advocates of red light cameras claim that all the cameras do is take a picture of the back of your vehicle to get your license plate number. Well, this sounded logical at first but after finding some actual pictures taken by red light cameras online I've found this to be a lie. These pictures prove that their field of vision is very broad, and it makes perfect sense that they would have to be that way, because if you're going to take a picture of a speeding car you can't just focus on a smaller area, around the license plate for example, because of the speed of the car. Depending on the speed you've got to give yourself a lot of room for error so you can be sure you get the person's plate number, or else the camera might miss the speeding vehicle.

Here are some examples of pictures from red light cameras I found on the internet, and one diagram showing how they work:

In the final picture, above, you can easily see the broad range of view that these cameras have, despite the lies of many proponents. Someone has to zoom into the picture in order to see the license plate, and/or face of the driver.

There are also more privacy concerns as well. According to a news website I found, "Lockheed Martin, which makes about 85 percent of [the red light cameras], often leases the cameras to cities because they are expensive, and enables Lockheed Martin to retain rights to all the data collection, he said.

'Cost averages between $60,000 and $90,000 per camera. You're looking at a quarter of a million dollars for one intersection,' Burns said. 'The camera company gets about $70 per citation.'

This means private companies are allowed to have sensitive information, he said, and they can use it for whatever they want."

According to the ACLU website, a privacy invasion has already occurred with cameras placed at a border.

From the website, they say, "There are also important privacy issues raised by the cameras. The ACLU is most concerned about what we call 'mission creep' -- that the data collected by these cameras will be used for purposes other than tracking reckless drivers. Government and private-industry surveillance techniques created for one purpose are rarely restricted to that purpose, and every expansion of a data bank and every new use for the data opens the door to more and more privacy abuses.

Similar systems have already been used to invade privacy. For example, cameras installed at the Texas-Oklahoma border have been used to capture the license plate numbers of thousands of law abiding persons, who were subjected to inquiries about why they were crossing the border."

Despite these valid concerns, the proponents of these cameras claim that it's not an invasion of privacy because you're out in a public area and have no say about any footage that might be taken of you. I've heard this claim in regards to voyeurs taking picture and video of women in a bathing suit outside of their homes, and there was nothing they could do to get it away from them because it was claimed they had no right to privacy while out in public.

I find this odd and hypocritical because if it's OK for someone to take video of you out in public, why was there such an uproar when Google took pictures of places for their map service and ended up capturing people walking, or even in their underware, and they were able to get Google to remove the images? There was even a couple who took Google to court in 2001 because it had a picture of their house on it's map service and the couple felt it was an invasion of privacy.

OK, so let's see here. In one instance the government wants to put up cameras and watch everyone, and no one really cares, and some even defend this clear invasion. In another case, a company pretty much does the same thing and people complain about it. Some might argue that Google's images were online and more accessible, but think about all the footage who knows who has of who knows what, and where it all might end up??? To me, that seems much scarier. Plus the fact that Google has allowed you to remove any images of yourself that you don't want online, so you have more control over your privacy than you do with the government (or who knows who else?).

In case it's not clear, the point I am trying to make is many peoples' hypocritical nature. On the one hand, they don't seem to care if their privacy is invaded upon by the government (or even Lockheed Martin!), while in the case with Google, people actually took them to court, and they even changed their ways by allowing someone to delete any private information, even if it was in public, when all along the proponents of the cameras claimed that because you were in public you had no right to privacy. Well, which is it people? Do you have a right of privacy in public or not? I say no one has any right to photograph, or video tape you without your permission - period - no matter where you are.

I think I've done a good job in proving my case that not only do these red light cameras not work in reducing accidents, but they also pose a significant privacy threat to everyone. Some people might see this as an overreaction on my part, but I feel these cameras are only the beginning of a police state, much like Orwell's 1984, in which everyone is watched at all times. I also see this situation as being similar to the fiasco with 9/11 and the "Patriot Act," which tramples over all manner of our civil liberties for the sake of "protection." Just as with the "Patriot Act" these cameras can be used to spy, all under the guise of them being used solely for "protecting" us, and people ignorantly allow such breaches of their privacy. Let me tell you something. It's nothing but a lie!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Priest Off! - A Funny Video

I was emailed this funny video today and I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!

I tried to upload the video to my blog, but the site was being a pain so I just used the embed code instead. I do have the original video saved in case the website hosting this video takes this video down in the future.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

David Marshall Finally Replies

EDIT - 3-22-10 - I've decided to add some comments to this post in order to shed some light on this issue. The wonders of 20/20 hindsight. I wish I had saved all of our earliest exchanges which would make my job of proving him wrong that much easier. My comments will be in italics.

Marshall replied to my new review finally, and it seems that he is getting more and more desperate in his attempts to defeat me, and prove me wrong...he can't. In this post he lies about what he says in his book and I make him eat those words...though I'm curious how he will twist that around as well. While he took his usual condescending tone, he was actually able to make it through without one personal attack! I am indeed impressed. Maybe he's finally learning something about debating.

Here is Marshall's reply:

David Marshall says:

Ken has spent a lot of time and effort reviewing my book, here and elsewhere, which on one level I appreciate. (Even bad readers are still customers, and as a long-time resident of Japan, I can't help feeling that the "customer is king.") King Ken appears in this review to be trying to be more fair-minded than in past reviews, which is commendable. However, despite many corrections, he is simply not good at accurately representing what I say. I doubt he's being deliberately dishonest, but I ask readers not to take his assertions for the truth behind "The Truth Behind the New Atheism." To wit:

"He claims science is biased against supernatural events, and blames science on such things as 'abortion, social darwinism, LSD, and free love (I got a big laugh out of that one)', etc."

The notion is, indeed, laughable. I do say some scientists are biased against the possibility of miracles, as of course they are. It's hard to be sure where Ken got the idea I blame science for abortion, LSD and "free love," and as on previous occasions, he won't be able to furnish a direct quote. (LSD was invented by the chemist Albert Hofmann, but free love is as old as the hills!) My best guess would be he's referring to the section on pages 203-6, "Are We Having Fun Yet?" There I say nothing bad about "science," but do talk about the sometimes unfortunate influence of certain skeptical thinkers (Kinsey, Sanger, etc) on sexual relations.

Simple-minded skeptics project attacks on science onto this book, perhaps because that's what they expect to find. But no scientist or philosopher has found any yet.

"Because no one knows exactly how complex life arose Marshall wishes to ascribe a supernatural event as a kind of helping hand to evolution. He also quotes several historians and scientists without backing up his claims with direct evidence, which is a logical fallacy, as noted above."

Actually I make no argument in this book about the origin of life, aside from refuting Richard Dawkins' plain error in implying that the problem is solved. I conclude that section by saying, "I'm not offering an argument for God. I'm pointing out that no one knows how life arose, including Richard Dawkins."

To draw such a conclusion in three and a half pages, of course I need to quote scientists. It's a simple-minded error to assume that all arguments from authority are fallacious: citing eminent scientists to establish that a scientific question is still open is of course a legitimate thing to do. If citation were a logical fallacy, Dawkins' own books on evolution (not to mention the Origin of Species itself) would themselves be rendered pseudo-science.

Ken's quote on sex comes from the first edition, in which there is indeed a typo. (Caused, it seems, by an automatic computer spell-check.) Originally, I wrote that God "dams" human sexuality -- in the sense of directing and restraining, in order to channel it productively -- but does not "damn" it. I was a bit irritated when I found the pun got lost in the shuffle. The second printing (which readers ordering the book now receive) corrects this typo. I apologize for the error.

But "Orwellian newspeek?" Here is where skeptics like "Gifted Writer," and Richard Dawkins, really should read philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff's Divine Discourse. Among other things, he points out that when a careful reader bumps up against a passage that doesn't make sense on a literal level, he looks for other levels of meaning. (In this case, pun / typo.) As I show, Dawkins makes the same mistake more importantly in his interpretation of the Bible, for example with the story of Abraham and Isaac. Like Dawkins, "Gifted Writer" seems too much of a literalist to exegete a text with any subtlety.

I think my point is clear. The more powerful and useful a force is, the more it can be used to harm as well as to help. No one but a fool would look around modern American society, and deny that sex is often abused, or that a lack of restraint has ruined many lives. I make no apology for finding the practice of raising children without one or the other parent -- when it is possible to do otherwise -- troubling. With all respect to single parents who are forced by circumstances beyond their control to raise children single-handedly, I do believe children are best off with loving parents of both sexes, and can't imagine how anyone who has experienced a loving intact family would think otherwise. Divorce and casual parenting hurt children. I feel terribly sorry for children who never know for themselves what the word "Dad" or (in some cases) "Mom" means.

Ken misquotes the word "God," which I capitalize, as is appropriate in standard English. (I also capitalize Ken's name, and my own. In this case, leading New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens teach their followers bad grammar as well as pettiness.)

In the story of the boy with the "hate speech" t-shirt, Ken has simply omitted my point. The point is that while Richard Dawkins accuses a 12-year old boy of "hate speech" for calling Islam a "lie," on the very next page he accuses a group of Muslims of "lying." And of course the whole point of The God Delusion is that religion in general is a lie -- which Dawkins is never shy of pointing out.

Speaking of untruths, it is more than a little dishonest for Ken to imply that I approve of the t-shirt, when I say directly that I do not. "Such a t-shirt does, I think, violate the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who says Christians should 'speak the truth in love.'" Is that not clear enough?

When corrected, critics like Ken tend to simply delete the old error, then go and make half a dozen new ones. Apparently Ken found his earlier review of this book, in which some incredible sloppiness was pointed out by another reader, too embarrassing, and he finally deleted the thing -- only to post another set of misquotes here.

I make no apology for calling Dr. Dawkins "sloppy." In my first reading of The God Delusion, I found 160 errors, gross exagerations, and highly dubious claims. Citing The Infancy Gospel of Thomas and calling it the Gospel of Thomas (twice, actually) is just one.

My use of the term "New Atheism" is partly a matter of convenience; though see my explanation in the CADRE interview. Most professional atheists with whom I've interacted have had no objection to my use of the term. But in the interview Ken mentions, I say jokingly that I invented the term, and had it stolen out from under me by spies. The other participants laughed, recognizing it (note Wolterstorff again) as a joke.

Considering the fact that The Truth Behind the New Atheism is so poorly researched, it is remarkable that with all the time and effort "Gifted Writer" has put into rebutting it, he has only found one genuine error -- one we'd already corrected. Other readers have found three or four minor typos, which I appreciate having been brought to my attention, for whatever motives. Much of the credit to this book's excellent record of surviving hostile critiques must go to my editor, who seems less credulous, and far more exacting, than the editor of The God Delusion.

Here is my reply:

I am appalled at your accusations. Once again you are the one who is guilty of misrepresenting your own book, just for the sake of making certain reviewers look bad. You claim that I made up that quote of yours about science being responsible for LSD, free love, etc. and (what you would consider at least) to be some of the worst occurrences in human history on page 219. I did not misquote you at all. I find it funny that you're the one who wrote your book, and yet can't even remember what you wrote.

You said:

"It's hard to be sure where Ken got the idea I blame science for abortion, LSD (though of course was a scientific discovery!) and "free love," and as on previous occasions, he won't be able to furnish a direct quote."

That's funny. Here is the quote from page 219:

"Science has also played the role of the witch. Brights cheerfully midwifed the birth of every modern form of barbarism. Hardly any travesty of justice, any 'bootstamping on a human face forever', has not been instituted in the name of science: Social Darwinism, eugenics, abortion, the new infanticide, free love, LSD, gas chambers, the Gulag."

Looks like you stuck your foot in your mouth once again.

This might be one small mistake I made. It seems Marshall was blaming more or less the people who used science and not science itself. However, I had come across many theists who accuse science of being bad (and often name off many of the things Marshall mentions specifically) and I unfortunately may have allowed those past experiences to taint my view of his passage. Of course, due to the ambiguity of the passage I believe it could also be read either way, and since Marshall has not been honest in the past about nearly all of my interpretations I would still take his claim with a grain of salt.

Thus far, I'd like to point out that despite all the claims by Marshall and his pals about my alleged mass confusion about Marshall's book with my earliest critiques I've shown here how only a few were off and mostly I was correct in both my interpretation and rebuttals. As I've said over and over they all wildly overstate my mistakes just to underhandedly discredit me. As can be seen, they've been at this since our earliest discussions.'s no wonder I got so pissed at them! I've been having to deal with their crap and dishonesty (and insults) for a long time.

You said:

"Actually I make no argument in this book about the origin of life, aside from refuting Richard Dawkins' plain error in implying that the problem is solved. I conclude that section by saying, "I'm not offering an argument for God. I'm pointing out that no one knows how life arose, including Richard Dawkins."

"To draw such a conclusion in three and a half pages, of course I need to quote scientists. It's a simple-minded error to assume that all arguments from authority are fallacious: citing eminent scientists to establish that a scientific question is still open is of course a legitimate thing to do. If citation were a logical fallacy, Dawkins' own books on evolution (not to mention the Origin of Species itself) would themselves be rendered pseudo-science."

I know you did not state that you claim to know about the origin of life; I never said such a thing to begin with. Maybe you should re read my review a bit slower next time? I simply said that because of your bias towards a religious explanation , you wish to cast doubt in the readers' mind about the lack of information regarding the origin of life and use the god of the gaps explanation instead of any valid scientific answer. And for the record, Richard Dawkins doesn't say anywhere that the problem about the origin of life is solved. Once again, you put words into Dawkins' mouth, as you did several times in your book.

I don't have anything else to add. I showed in my addendum to Marshall's fourth chapter why I felt my critique was accurate and he intentionally or unintentionally is guilty of what I accuse him of, even if he won't outright admit it. Of course, as I noted in the addendum, he seems to be wishing to propose god as some kind of 'scientific' explanation to gaps in our knowledge, just as the highly deceitful Discovery Institute has tried to do over and over again.

For example, you claim that Dawkins says Dobson wishes to kidnap children, but I couldn't find anything in his book implying anything of the sort. You also take something that Dawkins says out of context. You quote Richard Dawkins from his book, The god Delusion, as claiming that even if an irreducible structure was found it would be "unscientific" to say that it had to have been designed. Yet, this is misleading because the title of the section where Dawkins is quoted is called, "The Worship of Gaps", and Dawkins says that if something that was "irreducibly complex" were found, it doesn't automatically mean a god designed it, and that science must investigate further, if this could have been done naturally, before evoking god in a "god of the gaps" argument.

You don't explain the context and imply that Dawkins is steadfast in his evolutionary theory, and doesn't like when people challenge it.

Those are two instances of your dishonesty...whether or not it was intentional I'm not sure, but either way, you misrepresented what Dawkins said. Of course, with that one of Dawkins accusing Dobson of wanting to kidnap kids, you apparently pulled that out of thin air.

It is a logical fallacy to do nothing but quote an authority for your "proof" and have no scientific evidence to back up your claims. That is exactly what you did in your book. A scientist's opinion on whether or not it's improbable that DNA was able to form on its own is not a valid argument, because you present no scientific evidence to support that claim.

Once again you make an issue out of the fact that I don't capitalize the word "god". Who cares? I've gone over my reasons for this before; I won't repeat them again.

I agree with everything I've said here, however, the comment about Marshall accusing Dawkins of saying how Dobson wants to kidnap kids I'm again unsure of since I do not trust Marshall's interpretation of his book. He has, as I've shown, been deceitful about several things but I go to great lengths to qualify my accusation in my PDF version of the review.

You said:

"In the story of the boy with the "hate speech" t-shirt, Ken has simply omitted my point. The point is that while Richard Dawkins accuses a 12-year old boy of "hate speech" for calling Islam a "lie," on the very next page he accuses a group of Muslims of "lying." And of course the whole point of The God Delusion is that religion in general is a lie -- which Dawkins is never shy of pointing out."

"Speaking of untruths, it is more than a little dishonest for Ken to imply that I approve of the t-shirt, when I say directly that I do not. "Such a t-shirt does, I think, violate the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who says Christians should 'speak the truth in love.'" Is that not clear enough?"

In fact you said on page 184, and I quote, "But is this really 'hate speech'? The shirt calls certain behaviors (abortion and homosexuality) wrong, and a certain belief (Islam) false. Why define the expression of such views as 'hatred'?"

You don't seem to consider such a message as hateful, and shows your bigotry, brought about because of your religious beliefs. It's odd that you would quote Paul, because the bible many times condemns homosexuality and any other religious belief as wrong. Don't tell me that you're going to go against your god's might get thrown in hell ya know...

Another instance of Marshall's deceit about what his book actually says. Again, see why I called him a liar? How else am I to interpret that passage? Marshall may have argued that Paul would condemn the shirt (highly unlikely as I cite him in the bible as saying the opposite), but Marshall seemed to approve of the t-shirt via the quote I gave above.

You say:

"When corrected, critics like Ken tend to simply delete the old error, then go and make half a dozen new ones to make up for it. Apparently Ken found his earlier review of this book, in which some incredible sloppiness was pointed out by another reader, too embarrassing, and he finally deleted the thing -- only to post another set of misquotes here."

Oh here we go once again....

I never denied my few errors. I was honest and I corrected them, which is more then I can say for you. Once again, you make unsubstantiated claims about me being 'embarrassed', when that's not the case at all. I still have the original review up at my blog, and apparently you didn't even read my reasons for doing so. Just like your misquoting of Dawkins in your book, you state another outright lie when you claim I misquoted you in my last reply. I did no such thing.

In fact, if one wants to they can go to my blog where I happily admitted my four errors (hardly the gross misrepresentation that you continue to claim). I don't mind being shown I'm wrong because that's how one learns. I find it very childish that even after I admit and correct my mistakes you continue to bring it up. Your pathetic attempt at discrediting me won't work. It's also hypocritical of you because you have yet to admit your misquotes, let alone doing anything to fix them.

I have nothing else to add, though I'd like to point out that even this early in our discussions Marshall was favoring the good old discrediting campaign. So sleezy...

You said:

"I make no apology for calling Dr. Dawkins "sloppy." In my first reading of The God Delusion, I found 160 errors, gross exaggerations, and highly dubious claims. Citing The Infancy Gospel of Thomas and calling it the Gospel of Thomas (twice, actually) is just one. At the least, no serious reader so far has denied that I show Dawkins is in over his head."

It's funny how you claim you found so many "errors"; you don't refute anything that Dawkins has said, other then your point about Dawkins accidentally quoting from the wrong book.

You say:

"Considering the fact that The Truth Behind the New Atheism is so poorly researched, it is remarkable that with all the time and effort "Gifted Writer" has put into rebutting it, he has only found one genuine error -- one we'd corrected already. Other readers have found three or four minor typos, which I appreciate having been brought to my attention, for whatever motives. Much of the credit to this book's excellent record of surviving hostile critiques must go to my editor, who seems less credulous and far more exacting than the editor of The God Delusion."

I have found many more then "one error". It's apparent that you haven't carefully gone through my review. You misquote Dawkins several times, you make use of the argument from authority too often, and you offer intelligent design as an explanation, when it's been handily refuted many times in the past. This is evidence of your sloppy research on that topic.

Your pitiful attempts to rescue your book's reputation is futile. By the way, if my objections are really as bad as you (wrongly) claim, then why do you continuously feel the need to reply to everything I say? If I was really wrong, one would think you'd just let the people read your book and see for themselves how wrong I am. But no, you feel that you must 'apologize' for your errors in an attempt to explain them away.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Final Thoughts on David Marshall

I thought I would write some final thoughts I've been having about my verbal assaults from David Marshall at, and just talk about my feelings regarding all that's gone on. This will be my final post about this guy...that is, unless he comments on my new review, or he writes me back on his blog. To date he still hasn't written back yet (The post I left on his blog I talk about here).

Well, to begin, I'm glad this all happened because he showed me that I was wrong on some things in my review, and I went to work to fix them. I don't regret this because as I've said before, I'm all about truth. If I'm wrong please point it out to me. But you have to bring evidence that I'm wrong. I doubt he can now refute my arguments, which is probably why he hasn't even tried since I rewrote the few parts of it that I did.

I would still like to actually debate Marshall, if he ever decided to get the courage to. I was just thinking how even Ray Comfort debated me (even though he used the same old debunked creationist arguments, which I easily refuted) and I would consider Comfort at the bottom of the totem pole as far as apologetics go. Though I wouldn't rate Marshall much higher. I think that it's humorous that even someone as dim witted as Ray Comfort has the guts to debate me, and Marshall doesn't. Maybe it's because Marshall has a bit more brains then Comfort, and he knows if he does debate me he will look like an idiot.

I don't usually get angry when I debate someone...though as I've pointed out, this wasn't even close to a debate. This was nothing more then Marshall throwing a temper tantrum and using personal attacks. Even after I fixed my few errors, he kept bringing them up. I thought that was cowardly, because yeah I was wrong, and I admitted it, and I fixed the problems. But he doesn't seem to want to shut up about the few mistakes that I've been guilty of. I see right through all this though. It's nothing more then a ploy to discredit me so he brings it up every chance he gets. This is a very disingenuous tactic and an unethical one.

I've fixed the errors, but he doesn't want to let it go and put his neck on the line (not to mention is book sales), and deal up front with my legitimate objections and criticisms of his book. This is all too clear.

But, I'm pretty much over it now. I still dislike Marshall; he is a cowardly asshole, and is an intellectually limited idiot who acts like a child. But, I won't waste any more space on my blog talking about such human trash. True, I'm using personal attacks, but when push comes to shove, I fight back. I always have. This, I basically said in my most recent Dumbass of the Month post on Marshall, which can be found here.

Now that I've fought back with words of my own I feel better. I said what I wanted to say to him and I hope he reads this.

I guess that's it.

Thanks for reading....

See ya next rant!

Friday, February 8, 2008

David Marshall Replies...Badly...Again

Edit - 5-30-10: I wanted to edit this post to include some comments in light of my second reading of Marshall's book and the more extensive 100 + page refutation I've since written and to put Marshall and I's messy past in perspective. These comments will be in italics. No other changes have been made to the original post. Other posts can be found here, here, and here.

Marshall finally responded to my last post at his blog. See my post David Marshall's Attempted Rebuttals.

Here is the screenshot of it:

After my repeated attempts to get him to give me evidence for his claims, and getting nothing back from Marshall but him dodging questions, personal attacks, and unsubstantiated claims, like when he makes the asinine statement that I get my "theology from Wikipedia", and other nonsense. Marshall seems, to me, to be a coward.

Here is my reply. His comments will be in bold and my replies will come after.

Well, I had a feeling you would bring up by past "blunders" just to discredit me. To that I say, so what? I made a few mistakes (only 4 I might add, on a 40 + page paper) which I corrected. That is a sign of honesty. You, however, have not admitted or corrected your mistakes. So what does that say about you? I'll leave you to think about that one.

I wasn't "playing dumb" with (2); your comment was ungrammatical, and it wasn't clear what you meant to say. In any case, I did not say what you (now, more clearly) claim I said.

Actually, no it wasn't "ungrammatical", and that's simply your biased opinion to begin with. That's no argument what so ever. So, you yourself clearly lied when you said that passage was not in your book. I didn't change your quote to the point that it was unrecognizable. I think you're just using that as an excuse to cover up your deception. I think anyone who compares both quotes can see that.

I believe this comment was in response to a quote by Marshall about jesus. There were several instances where Marshall would quibble over semantics and because I didn't word something just right, he'd claim I was misrepresenting his position. Because I do not remember what we were discussing I'll refrain from commenting.

On (6), you both contradict yourself and make excuses (again) for misrepresenting my position.

How in the world did I contradict myself? I made a reasonable judgement based on what was in your book. What else were you talking about? You sure aren't correcting me. Why is that? Perhaps because you know I'm right and you don't want to look foolish by admitting it?

Here, Marshall and I were discussing something he said about the bible and he claims I misread what he wrote, but I exposed his deceit here (it is the first lie that I listed). You can also see how he talked down to me, and this one of the earliest discussions I had with him.

On (7), you try to correct my understanding of faith, and that of Aquinas, Justin, Augustine, Locke, Lewis, Pope John Paul II, etc, by quoting a single Bible verse from Wikipedia!

That's an actual quote from the bible; I looked it up myself. Who cares where I get the quote from? It's still true and can be found in the bible.

Here is one example of Marshall's pathetic attitude. To put simply, I knew the quote I wanted to find from the bible but I simply wanted to copy and paste it instead of copy it by hand and Marshall gives me his immature attitude. Something I had to put up with a lot. He also ignored my reasons why I said what I said! I had tried to explain that the definition of faith had changed over time.

On (8), you admit your error, but then try to hide it by calling me a "hypocrit" (on unspecified grounds, but doubtless as shaky as all your other arguments in these forums.)

Actually, I readily admitted it - I don't see how you can claims I hid anything. You are a hypocrite. You claim that I didn't read your book, and yet you clearly didn't read Dawkins', because you claim that he doesn't want parents teaching kids about any religion because they're "evil", even when Dawkins himself states the exact opposite in his book!

I'm quoting you from page 185: "[Dawkins] ..thinks children have the right to be indoctrinated into thinking [religion is]...evil, no matter what their parents say."

Yet on page 327, in The god Delusion, Dawkins writes, "If, having been fairly and properly exposed to all the scientific evidence, they grow up and decide that the bible is literally true or that the movements of the planets rule their lives, that is their privilege. The important point is that it is their privilege to decide what they shall think, not their parents' privilege to impose it by force majeure."

Seems you didn't bother to read this paragraph, because you were too busy trying to attack Dawkins' character?

Here is once again where Marshall's smear/discrediting campaign is showcased. Here also is a very early post where I expose his errors about Dawkins' opinions that Marshall never admitted to, despite the overwhelming evidence. So, despite Marshall's continuous claims that I've never rebutted any arguments of his, this is obviously false.

On (9), the issue is not my understanding of your attempt to rebut the Trinity (why should I care about that, from a guy who gets his theology from Wikipedia, muddles centuries of thought, and can hardly write a coherent sentence in English?), it is your misrepresentation of what I said about the subject. Again, you don't deny your error, you just try to distract readers from it. You made two concrete claims here about what I said, both of them wrong. Those are the facts. The rest is just spin.

Yet even more personal attacks and I don't get my theology from wikipedia. Yet another unsubstantiated assumption on your part. Would you like to see all the books I have?

Actually the facts are that I did make some mistakes and I admitted and corrected them. You have made more mistakes then I have, and yet you don't either admit, nor correct them. Those are the facts. The rest is just spin.

Get over yourself, man. Your book is a poor attempt at distorting truth, and trying to convince yourself that there really is a god. Please just wake up and see reality, and be honest with yourself and others for a change.

For anyone who doesn't have blinders on, I think they can clearly see your deception and the fact that you constantly dodge questions. That apologetics training has really come in handy, huh? That's why I call it the art of because that's all your so called rebuttals are.

And don't use that condescending tone with me. I gave you plenty of opportunities to rebut me, but you didn't. I've had debates with people who are much more grammatically skilled then you, and who actually have skill in debating. You are simply someone who dodges questions. And you're telling me, I need to work at it more? That's just too funny.

You can come to my blog and attempt to refute my arguments...though judging from the pitiful attempts, and the fact that you dodge questions a lot, I don't see that happening. If you're so right, and I'm so wrong, why don't you set me straight? I've given you many opportunities but you avoid addressing my criticisms like the plague it seems. All you do is hurl insults and avoid directly answering my objections.

I don't really have much else to add. I was getting very tired of Marshall's attitude and obvious attempts at dodging questions and arguments, and of course his discrediting attempts. Here is also where I challenged him (just one instance of many) to go read my review (which he did eventually, but his response was less than satisfactory) and comment on it and the more extensive rebuttals that I already took so much time to write out here. I figured, why bother posting everything that I've written here on when it's so much simpler to post a link and allow people to copy and paste what they want to comment on. Despite my open invitation, I'm accused of avoiding discussion and allegedly never posting arguments - which is a complete lie. That really shows how out of touch with reality that David Marshall and his buddy J.R. Fraser were to accuse me of such things.

Monday, February 4, 2008

David Marshall's Attempted Rebuttals

Edit - 3-22-10: I wanted to edit this post to include some comments in light of my second reading of Marshall's book and the more extensive 100 + page refutation I've since written. These comments will be in italics. No other changes have been made to the original post.

I have just read the following on Marshall's blog where he wrote a few critiques of my review. I will once again destroy his silly arguments.

His post "Marshall is a Liar I" is a redundant post, and does nothing to refute my arguments. As I've said before, I can be harsh but fair. There are a few times in my review where I applaud Marshall's honesty on a very few topics. His is a gross misrepresentation of my review.

Now on to his attempted rebuttal, in his post "Marshall is a Liar II":

He claims I "misrepresent" his book in several ways. I do not, and his claims that I do are pathetic. I did make a few mistakes in parts of my review, which I have now edited, to make it easier to understand and took out my few mistakes. Though to put it in perspective, I only had to make 4 changes total to the whole review. Hardly a 'gross misrepresentation'.

I will have his comments in bold with my response afterwards.

(1) Contrary to AA's suggestion, I offer no "hype about destroying the atheists' position" here. My goals are more limited: to refute Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. I also argue that there is good evidence for Christianity (and give a little), and that the Gospel has changed the world dramatically for the better. I do not attempt to formally refute atheism in this 210 page book.

His goal was to show why the "new atheists" are wrong and christianity is better then is often portrayed. Who cares about how I word his goal? In essence that was his goal to refute the prominent atheists! This is no argument whatsoever and is just arguing over wording. I'd also like to point out that I never did say that Marshall hyped his book as destroying the atheists' position. I simply said that was what the reviews I read said about the book; nothing Marshall said. Marshall claims that I didn't really read his book, and yet he seems to be a hypocrite once again because he didn't seem to even read my review (even though I actually did read his book)!

(2) I don't say that "skeptical historians" accept the miracles described in the Gospels as "strong evidence" for their historicity. I’m not even sure what that means.

Oh wow... don't play dumb. On pages 17-18 Marshall says, "Second, jesus often did miracles, calling them 'signs', which (even skeptical historians often admit) show strong evidence of historicity."

He is claiming that even historians admit that jesus' miracles are proof of the bible's historical truth, which is false, as I stated in my review. Now, please, tell me. Does this, or does this not, say that??? That's a direct quote.

Marshall accuses me of being affected by mirages, but his accusation has no basis. Marshall, however, seems to be suffering from amnesia because he apparently can't remember what he wrote in his own book.

In the above case in the sentence about jesus I may or may not have misread anything. I don't feel Marshall has been honest with me about it and so I do not trust his claims. Either way, I left out this passage since it's not a very important passage in his book. I go on to refute his more important claims in my review.

(3) Neither do I call science "narrow-minded." My actual point is that science is a limited way of testing reality: a point scientists in the audience (when I speak) often affirm. I also argue that broader ways of knowing, such as history, are a crucial part of any rational search for ultimate truth.

Yes he does say that science is narrow minded. He does not use that exact phrase, but he says how "we've been bamboozled into accepting (in the name of science, though not always from scientists) a lie about truth and how to find it, an untruth that narrows life and hands truth to tunnel-visioned specialists (page 16)." (Emphasis added)

He is saying that science is narrow minded...narrow in it's application, which I rebut in my post and say why it's not narrow minded...or "tunnel-visioned" since Marshall seems so anal about words. But that is how science is done, and the best way to get reliable results. Once again, I was correct in my interpretation of what Marshall was talking about. It seems that Marshall is so close-minded and clearly didn't read what I wrote that he couldn't understand that I was correct in what his argument was, and of course throws out his usual round of insults for no reason!

As I said above, I did even then understand his argument, but just as he's always done he argues against a strawman version of my counter-argument. So, despite Marshall's delusion regarding this case, I did understand his argument. I think anyone can see this. Is it any wonder I called Marshall a liar in our earlier discussions?!

(4) Nor do I say there is anything "wrong" with accepting things only on evidence! My point is just the opposite.

This is a strawman. I never said such a thing. I simply said that we accept many things without a lot evidence and I cite some examples, and I tried to show how everyday faith is different from religious faith. However, I think I know where he was mistaken about where I said, "What is wrong with accepting things only when there is evidence?" I was simply talking about how science is done...not talking about something that Marshall said specifically.

(5) I don’t assume, as AA claims, that "we can trust every word" of the Bible. That's not the sort of argument I make: I'm an empiricist, and prefer what John Polkinghorne calls a "bottoms-up" approach to understanding the Bible.

The reason I stated this was because of the many statements that Marshall makes about the reliability of the bible. He doesn't ever seem to say that the bible has any real flaws.

This comment was prompted by Marshall's claims in his book about the reliability of the gospels and the supposed accuracy and trustworthiness of them and the testimony contained therein. Again, Marshall didn't even bother to engage my actual argument.

(6) AA reports: "(Marshall) is saying that we should trust what is written in the gospels, because people wrote them, and we're supposed to trust other people."

Arizona is largely desert, no doubt subject to mirages. This appears to be one of them. I defy readers to find any such statement in any of my writings. Some people, of course, are not trustworthy at all – including, unfortunately, Arizona Atheist.

In the section where he is talking about the bible (page 18) and how historians accept miracles as evidence of the factual nature of the bible, Marshall writes, "Is it rational to believe things on the basis of human testimony (Emphasis added)? It'd be a pity if it weren't, because as Samuel Johnson put it. most of our knowledge is based on 'implied faith' in other people."

Because this statement was tied into the part talking about the bible, it appears that he was referring to the bible. But either way, I show in my review why this kind if thinking is not rational. If it's not referring to the bible, this sentence seems out of place, because what else could it be referring to? He is talking about the bible before and after this sentence. Also, the bible is human testimony.

And once again, Marshall uses a personal attack, instead of anything of real value and substance.

Is Marshall once again being deceptive here, or does he simply not know how to properly write a book?

Edit: See below my evidence to show why I strongly think Marshall was either outright lying about what he says in his book, or was simply attempting his theological bullshit in an attempt to make me somehow look foolish since he continuously likes to argue how I cannot read so didn't want to admit my correct interpretation. - This was an original edit made earlier, but I have nothing further to add, except to ask the reader to take note of Marshall's very evasive attitude. On about each and every point he claimed I hadn't understood his argument when it should be obvious to any rational person I did.

(7) True, I do argue (as AA reports) that in the Christian vocabulary, faith doesn't mean what Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett represent it as meaning, belief unsupported by evidence. Rather, faith "begins 'with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence'." AA disagrees, accusing the Christian theologians I cite (including Justin Martyr and Thomas Aquinas) of "a bit of a word game because faith, to my knowledge, has always meant 'belief without logical proof,'" even "as far back" as 1906. AA is free to disagree with Justin and Aquinas. (Though he should do so cautiously.) The problem is, he doesn’t appear to realize that Justin wrote in the 2nd Century, and Aquinas in the 13th. How can theologians play "a word game" by distorting a definition that would not be written for seven or seventeen centuries after their deaths?

Yes I consider it a word game, not for past theologians but modern theologians. Sorry I didn't make that clear, but either way, even in bible times, the bible's definition of faith, found in Hebrews 11:1, is "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Source: My point was that even in the early 1900's faith seems to have always had that meaning, and not the one which theologians wish it had, and I wanted to know when it ever held the one they claim. It sure didn't even back as far as the early 1900's, or even bible times apparently.

Actually, as I've shown in my updated version of the review it seems Marshall is misinterpreting the texts to say something they do not, and these christians actually say the opposite.

(8) Arizona Atheist calls me a "hypocrite" for saying that churches sometimes "set young people up to lose their faith by teaching bad science." He has persuaded himself (somehow) that this is meant as a rebuke of scientists. It is actually (of course) meant as a (gentle, I hope) rebuke of some of my fellow Christians.

After rereading this section of his book I did misinterpret it when I did my review. Though, even in my original review, I state that I'm not exactly sure what Marshall is trying to say, but I think he might be saying such and such. I was tentative in my rebuttal. And, yes, Marshall is a hypocrite in several parts of his book. I detail this in some parts of my review.

This is simply one out of the very few unintentional mistakes I had made in the first draft of the review, but it has been corrected since this was pointed out to me and I reread the passage in question.

(9) Nor do I claim that the Trinity is easy to understand, or that I have a perfect handle on it. My actual point is that a quote on the Trinity by an ancient Christian thinker, which Dawkins mocks for its obscurity, seems to me both clear and lucid. I leave the reader to consider the passage for herself, and make up her own mind about the justice of Dawkins' comments. But the reviewer has (yet again) completely botched mine.

I felt that Marshall's defense of the trinity was pointless, as this is an absurd concept to begin with, and is nothing more then the historical belief in multiple gods which has not been squared away in modern christianity. At least this is my view, from my reading about the history of religion.

This comment about the trinity I left out of the updated critique of the book since it's not important.

Marshall did nothing to refute my points. He didn't seem to even understand half of what I wrote. This was a pitiful "rebuttal". Sorry for the quotes, but it seriously needs them : - )

He didn't bother to rebut even half of my points. This was just a sloppy, and poor attempt at refuting my arguments, which he didn't even come close to doing.

I also find it funny that he said that "Love of truth is something that Christians and sincere skeptics should share in common", because truth is not something religion is good for, and his book is a poor representation of the truth. If that were true religion would not have murdered so many for nothing more then telling the truth! Once again, I expose his inaccuracies about several things in my review.

I don't have much else to add. I still agree with what I said. I will add, however, this relevant point. These very few unintentional mistakes that were made a good two years ago at this point have all been fixed and not one person (even Marshall or his cohorts) have pointed out a single mistake since I fixed them. Arguments and claims to the contrary I've soundly refuted here and on On the other hand, look at the tons of mistakes and misreadings that theists have made in reading Dawkins' The God Delusion or Sam Harris' The End of Faith for example. The theists' books that I've reviewed I've exposed probably about five times more errors in their books than I ever made in my initial review - and they are honestly more formally educated than I am and have more writing experience! I think that says a lot even about my very first attempt at a critique, but my most recent PDF edition firmly puts all this nonsense about errors to rest.

Below are screenshots of his blogs on amazon for reference:

UPDATE 5-21-09

Previously I had posted my evidence against David Marshall here at the end of this post, but I have decided to delete all of the pictures to save room on my Blogger account because I have copied the entirety of the evidence of Marshall’s hypocrisy and lies here.

David Marshall: The Cry Baby!

I just saw on David Marshall's blog page, located here, where he mentions me and my review of his book.

As usual, Marshall doesn't defend his book; only claims that people misrepresent what he says, and how people don't really read it. He claims that I have personally attacked him (I'm assuming since he named me personally, he is referring to my review as well) in my review. I do no such thing. You can go read my review here to see for yourself. I do make fun of him at times, but I am honest, and I say what I think. I don't just use personal attacks. I never do. If I think someone is ignorant, I will say so, but also say why. That is not a personal attack. That's just stating the obvious!

Edit: I should say that since this post I have written my final (2ed) draft of my refutation of Marshall's book and in it, I do use some vulgar language in this updated review. But did no such thing in the original. The third draft of my review does have some language in it, however I’ve since written an edited (and final) version that includes more arguments and I edited out the language.

I did my best to make sure I had sources for my information and last I checked they are all working. I submitted my review at Richard Dawkins' website for people to point out any errors I might of made or any other advice on something I may have missed, and I got stellar reviews of it.

Marshall's only disappointed that I trashed his book and is trying to reclaim his credibility, because I pointed out many errors of his. I debated him some at, but he could not give me one good argument for why I was wrong; he only used the logical fallacy of an argument from authority, saying that because some evolutionist supposedly said his statement was accurate he was correct in his statement, but that doesn't make it so. He must have facts, but he didn't bring up any. We didn't even get to the other problems with his review, like his taking out of context some of the things Richard Dawkins says in his book, The god Delusion, several times.

I expose this, and several other errors in Marshall's pitiful book.

Here is the screenshot of Marshall's silly little whining session:

One last observation about my "debate" with Marshall. One other person was going back and forth with me who went by the name of J.R. This person hadn't even read the book, and he was trying to tell me how wrong I was! I couldn't believe it. The funny thing was, this guy was pretty much doing Marshall's debating for him. Marshall pretty much just stood behind this guy saying things like, (and I'm paraphrasing here)'Yeah you should listen to J.R.; you don't know what you're talking about. He hasn't even read the book, and understands my arguments better then you.' Pure bullshit. What''s wrong Marshall? Can't fight your own battles?

I still hope he comes to my blog to properly point out why I'm wrong on each of my points. With all of his talk, you'd think he would be more willing to try and refute me, point by point, but he doesn't. I see this as intellectual cowardice at its finest here!

UPDATE! 2-6-08

Well, a few days ago I went to and saw that Marshall did reply to a few things in my review, though I can hardly call it a rebuttal. He made some of the most redundant points, which he wasn't even correct on in the first place! I rebut his absurd arguments in a newer post called David Marshall's Attempted Rebuttals.

UPDATE! 6-18-08

I figured I'd go ahead and point out an error that "J.R." made in my debate with him. He had claimed that genetic drift should help change the human population, and that is a flaw of evolutionary theory. David Marshall, as I pointed out above, basically stood behind this person and said 'Yeah, yeah, see I told you that you were wrong.' Nope, sorry. J.R. was actually very wrong. I wasn't able to find any information about genetic drift at that time, but since then I have found some information at the (I also confirmed this with a few people at Richard Dawkins' evolution forum on his site) website that stated that genetic drift can have a dramatic effect upon small populations, but very little, if any, on large ones. The human population is anything but small. So, it would seem that not only was Marshall proved wrong (he wasn't even able to defend his position!) but his foolish defender was also. Well, that's what you get when you leave a theist (I read posts by J.R. at stating that he had degrees in theology but none, if I recall, in biology) to do a scientist's job!

Update - 3-22-10

Well, I was browsing these old posts and clicked on the link to David Marshall's blog and found that a few weeks later he edited his post to exclude any mention of me so no one can check out the truthfulness (and his distortion) of some of the critiques he mentions of mine. I wonder why...

Perhaps he doesn't want to draw any attention to them so people won't come to my blog to read my devastating arguments against his case? Who knows...

Below is a screenshot of the current page taken today.