Why Joker is unlikely to inspire real-world violence – Vox.com

In the buildup to the release of Joker, the much-discussed new antihero film centered on the main villain of the Batman franchise, the media latched onto one specific narrative: that the film had potential to inspire real-world violence, particularly from incels, who some believed might feel some sort of kinship with the movies angry loner version of the Joker. Pundits worried that the film could even lead to a repeat of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting, which took place at a movie theater showing The Dark Knight Rises. That movie was the final installment in Christopher Nolans Batman trilogy, the second of which starred Heath Ledger as the Joker and renewed the characters status as a cultural icon.

Though rumors that the Aurora shooter was inspired by the character of the Joker turned out to be false, the memory is clearly still strong for many people including victims of the 2012 shooting, some of whom penned an open letter to Warner Bros. asking the studio to push for stricter gun control alongside Jokers release. This prompted director Todd Phillips to defend his film, noting that it was unfair to blame either The Dark Knight Rises, Joker, or the Joker character himself for the actions or possible actions of mass shooters.

In order to learn more about the factors influencing the media coverage around the film and how those factors compare to the real motives that typically influence this kind of violence, I turned to journalist Robert Evans, a longtime expert on extremist communities and the host of the Behind the Bastards podcast, which examines the lives and cultural contexts of a wide range of bastards, including many extremists and radicals throughout history.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Why do you think so many people in the press specifically latched onto Joker as an example of media that could potentially inspire dangerous extremism and vigilante justice?

I think there are two chief reasons. One of them is completely unjustified, and one of them is partially justified by things that have happened before. I think the chief reason, and the unjustified reason, that people are focusing on the Joker movie is The Dark Knight Rises and the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora. Theres actually a major misconception: The shooter was not dressing up as the Joker [during the attack on the movie theater]. He was in no way trying to carry out something from the movie. I have never seen any evidence that he was a particular fan of Heath Ledgers Joker or of that [film] in general. This was misinformation that was put out by a police officer who was interviewed by a couple of newspapers.

But if you actually study what the shooter said in interviews, what he wrote in his notebooks, what hed been talking about with the therapist, he had this very strange sort of quasi-spiritual belief that his value as a person was low, and he could kill people because their lives would add to his.

Most mass shooters are not mentally ill. He is one of the fairly rare ones who had some significant mental illness, and it had nothing to do with the movie. But because it occurred on that day, because his hair was dyed a garish color and because the pundits didnt know what they were talking about [when they] spread that misinformation, that belief [that the Joker was an influence] was widespread. So I think thats a reason people are worried about this movie, and I think its the unjustified one.

Now, the one that is a little bit justified is the shooting of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. [in 1981], because Hinckley was partly inspired by the [1976] movie Taxi Driver. He was also a very mentally ill man who believed that he would be able to have a relationship with Jodie Foster if he impressed her in that way. Its a pretty famous story.

Im not going to say theres no precedent for a movie hitting someone who has a mental health issue in a way that it causes them to do something inexplicable and terrible, but thats extremely rare. I cant think of another case where its been that direct other than the case of John Hinckley. I dont see that as particularly likely.

And again, I think its incredibly important to note that of the significant number of mass shooters in American history, virtually none of them had preexisting diagnosed mental illnesses. And when we look at the intellectual problem, you know, people are worried about the Joker movie within the context of incel and white supremacist terror groups. Like people on 8chan, which has been [involved in] carrying out the majority of at least the most publicized mass shootings of the last year or so. But I would say [their actions have] nothing to do with mental illness. Those are people who see themselves as part of a cause and who are taking action to further that cause. Their actions may seem inexplicable to people, but that doesnt mean that the illness has anything to do with it.

How much of the films media coverage do you think is predicated on the character of the Joker himself, who is an anarchistic, violent mayhem spreader?

If you actually look at the propaganda these mass shooters spread, the Joker and other fictional vigilantes dont play into it at all. Theyre much more likely to spread videos and writings by, for example, the Columbine shooters, [Eric] Harris and [Dylan] Klebold, Harris in particular. Like, thats the kind of guy they look to as an idol, not a comic book character.

When they spread fictional stuff and characters that have inspired them, its usually stuff like [the 1978 novel about extremist violence] The Turner Diaries or Unintended Consequences, which is a novel about gun culture in the US. Theres a book called Siege by a guy named James Mason, and its a guide to carrying out the neo-Nazi insurgency. And the goal is to essentially perpetrate a series of mass shootings and bombings across the country carried out by small cells or individuals, but theres no centralized organizational structure. The Turner Diaries is essentially the same thing, but rather than it being the work of decentralized individuals carrying out attacks to destabilize governments, its a secret terrorist group called [The Organization].

For one thing, the Joker is kind of an inherently apolitical figure, and these guys tend to have very political motivations for doing what theyre doing. Im completely baffled by the fact that so many folks in the media seem to be focusing on the Jokers ability to inspire incels to terrorism because the Joker is famously in a long-term relationship with somebody. Like, its odd that thats so focused on. [Editors note: Though the Joker is in a long-term relationship with Harley Quinn in most portrayals of the character in the DC Comics universe, Joker presents him as a loner who fixates dangerously on women.]

Well, I think theres a conflation happening there. I think people in the media are inaccurately conflating incel culture with all of alt-right culture and, to some extent, all of Gamergate. Theres a lot of inherently negative stereotypes about geek culture that go into that.

Its best to see these communities as a bunch of interlocking circles, where you have incels and you have neo-Nazis, then you have Columbiners. You have the Bowl Patrol people who obsess over [Charleston shooter] Dylann Roof. You have all these different groups, and they have sometimes considerable overlap. A lot of incel culture has been very infected by weird, more esoteric, national socialist racial theory.

But I dont see nerd culture feeding into it as much as [the fact that] the kind of people who get into radical extremism are often the kind of people who spend most of their time online. [They] tend to be insular people, and so theyre also interested in that stuff. Its like, just because most of them are, or were, at some point gamers. that doesnt mean that video games made them do this or made it more likely that they would do this.

Its just that the kind of people who are going to be in these radicalized communities also tend to have obsessive personalities and [arent] super social. So they wind up in these online communities, where more explicit and ideological members of these movements are trying to recruit and draw people in.

Thats part of why I think its a big mistake to focus on this movie as a driver of radicalization. The stuff that convinces these people to act is so much deeper than a movie about a failed clown who murders a bunch of people.

I mean, look at the content theyre sharing. Its very explicitly racist, very explicitly, um, [genocidal] and includes [it] is a thousand times more violent and hateful than anything that a mainstream movie would come out [with].

Like a lot of the things that are shared most often [on places] like 8chan, youre going to see pictures from the Oklahoma City bombing, from the victims of mass shootings. That sort of thing. Its celebrating the violence. One of the most popular pieces of media circulated among these groups on that front [is the video from] the terrorist shooting in Christchurch, which is worse than anything youre ever going to see in a movie.

From trying to understand where the media is coming from regarding the film and its surrounding cultural context, I think that a lot of the concern might be motivated by the Christchurch shooting and the fact that the shooter left behind that meme-filled manifesto. People who are less familiar with the actual granular planning and structures of these communities, they look at the alt-right movement and they see it proliferating with memes, and then they look at the Joker.

I think that critics see the Joker as this villain who frames violence within this context of nihilistic anarchy where nothing matters. And some also see that as fully aligned with the alt-right approach, and the alt-right milieu of benefiting from mass hysteria by claiming that everybody else is too serious. They see those things as being very culturally aligned. And you look at things like the Christchurch shooter saying subscribe to PewDiePie before opening fire, and that seems like a very Joker-like thing to do.

I see why people might conflate that. I think theres a number of errors in that thinking and its the people kind of failing to grasp whats going on in these peoples heads.

One of those errors would be ... anarchism doesnt appeal. By and large, there are people who believe very strict hierarchy: biological hierarchy, racial hierarchy, and social hierarchy. One of the reasons that theres been some misconceptions in the media is the clown world meme, which is a very common white nationalist meme that popped up earlier this year. The idea is that they have like a Pepe figure [Pepe the Frog is a famous internet meme thats notoriously been appropriated by the alt-right] thats wearing clown makeup and a clown wig and stuff. And I think people who dont understand what the meme is about think it ties in somehow to the Joker.

It doesnt. When the extremists are calling something the clown world, what theyre saying is that the fact that women are able to work [in important jobs], or the fact that women are in positions of power, the fact that we have multiculturalism, the fact that we have a multi-ethnic society thats all inherently absurd and wrong.

And so, because the world is so broken by the fact that women are going to get jobs and that people of different races can now live among each other, because thats so fundamentally broken in their minds, our world is a clown world. Thats what theyre saying.

I mean, Im sure plenty of [these people] enjoyed watching the second Christopher Nolan Batman movie, and Heath Ledgers Joker. Maybe some of them enjoy [Joker]. But theyre fundamentally not interested in violent extremism for reasons of just causing chaos. [For instance,] people who are fans of that book Siege or The Turner Diaries, [they want] to destabilize society to such an extent that a fascist dictatorship is able to take hold and the white supremacist state can arise and exterminate the nonwhite. Thats the goal of an extremist like that. Online, in communities like 8chan and other groups, people who are fans of that are referred to by other white nationalists as Siege-heads. There are different sort of communities within the white nationalist scene online.

Again, these arent anarchists. They see themselves as soldiers fighting for a cause. I just dont think theyre going to find much to appeal to them in a movie like Joker or in that character. The people who are already on that path [dont need a movie to tip the scale].

They just arrested that young woman in Florida. And she had a copy of The Turner Diaries with her. Im sure she had other white nationalist literature. She wasnt influenced or inspired by any Hollywood movie. She was obsessed with the Columbine shooters and [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh. Its the same thing with [the Christchurch shooter, who] didnt really cite any fiction as an influence in his radicalization path. It was the online community and these esoteric works of Nazi racial theory, and the sort of attitudes expressed in these communities about white genocide.

Members of these groups have been pushing for white genocide [for] 40, 50 years. The idea that a 90-minute Hollywood movie that just has a character who looks like a generic young male terrorist the idea that that would be what tips anybody into violence? Thats absurd to me.

I dont think its impossible that somebody would pick a showing of that movie to go shoot up. But if that happens, its not been inspired by the Joker. Its because they saw a bunch of media coverage talking about how everyones worried that the movie is going to inspire a mass shooting, and they were like, Okay, well, maybe if I do it there. Ill get a bunch of media attention.

But I think that happening is unlikely, just because of how much security theres going to be in a lot of showings. Thats one of the big stories theres all these people issuing warnings [to theatergoers about the movie and possible dangers they fear it could pose].

These [potential shooters] dont want a hard target. They want to be able to rack up a huge death toll and then ideally be taken alive, which is one of the big wrinkles introduced by [the Christchurch shooter].

I think its not been reported on enough, but this idea that [shooters] dont have to die carrying out an attack is one of the major new things thats changed about this sort of violence this year.

If you were going to give advice to members of the media reporting on these I almost dont want to say reporting on these stories, because in some cases the media are creating the stories, arent they? But when were reporting on what seems like the nexus of internet culture, geek culture, and the anarchistic upheaval in these types of antihero films how would you suggest we do it without perpetuating misinformation and conflating rational fear about real-world consequences with irrational panic over dangerous fiction?

I mean, I hate to say it, because I like your work and I tend to like Vox, but Im not sure its even a good idea to write about [the film], unless what youre writing about is just the fact that this culture of hysteria has crept up around the movie.

I am not aware of any actual experts [who research methods for] countering violent extremism, people who are regarded within that community, who consider this [movie] a particular cause for worry or source of radicalization. And I dont have any worries about this film [inciting any violence, either].

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Why Joker is unlikely to inspire real-world violence - Vox.com

Pepe the protest frog? Hong Kong kids aren’t alt-right – FRANCE 24

Issued on: 03/10/2019 - 03:36

Hong Kong (AFP)

He may have become a far-right internet meme in the West, but Pepe the Frog's image is being rehabilitated in Hong Kong where democracy protesters have embraced him as an irreverent symbol of their resistance.

Throughout the more than 100 days of protests rocking the international finance hub, banners featuring the cartoon frog and stuffed toys of the amphibian have become ubiquitous, providing much-needed moments of levity as the violence escalates.

Pepe fervour reached new heights on Monday night when hundreds of demonstrators -- many festooned with stickers or holding cuddly toys -- formed a human chain along the city's harbourfront, chanting slogans and singing protest songs.

Some of the Pepe toys brought by the largely young participants were decked in the yellow hard hats and gas masks worn by protesters in their clashes with police.

"In the United States it's a hate symbol, but now it is reborn in Hong Kong as a symbol of love and freedom," a 21 year-old animation student, who gave her name as Phoenix, told AFP.

"Even in a really tough situation, we still want to feel hope and be happy. If we can maintain our minds in a positive way, then maybe we can keep protesting and find a way to win," she added.

Pepe's embrace by Hong Kongers is the latest bizarre twist in the fate of a cartoon character who went from relative internet obscurity to international notoriety.

But it also shows how popular digital trends can mean very different things depending on where you live in the world.

- Alt-right appropriation -

Created in 2005 by American artist Matt Furie as a "chill frog-dude", Pepe became an internet meme within online forums.

During Donald Trump's election campaign he was embraced by the alt-right and white nationalist corners of the internet, leading Furie to pronounce his original creation dead in 2017.

But in Hong Kong and China, Pepe never had those connotations and was instead known as the "sad frog".

The character became especially popular earlier this year when he appeared within downloadable WhatsApp sticker packs which users add to messages.

When huge pro-democracy rallies broke out in June, young Hong Kongers were already pinging Pepe stickers to each other.

But new protest-themed variations of Pepe quickly emerged, transforming him into a pro-democracy Everyman.

Soon Pepe was being graffitied onto pavements, plastered across protest "Lennon Walls", even painted on finger-nails.

"The creator of Pepe said he was dead, but now he's alive again here," declared a 26-year-old graphic designer surnamed Leung, who attended Monday's protest with friends.

Many of those at Monday's rally said the quirky nature of Pepe provided some light-hearted relief in a dark time.

A day after the Pepe-themed protest the city saw the most most violent clashes to date as China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule.

"Because we have the masks on our faces, we have to express our feelings in other ways," explained Dennis, a 26 year-old physics graduate who has set up an Instagram account that gathers the new Pepe memes.

Yet Pepe's new appeal also lies in his flexibility, Dennis said.

- Pepe v Popo -

In Hong Kong, he is no longer just mainland China's "sad" frog meme. Instead he is a defiant expression of the frustration many Hong Kongers feel under China's rule and its Beijing-loyalist local leaders.

"My own definition is that Pepe is for the people, in contrast to the 'Popo' -- the police -- who are not," he said.

Protesters are increasingly aware of Pepe's inadvertent connection to the far right.

When the New York Times ran an article in August on the controversial character's adoption in Hong Kong, it sparked an extensive debate on the online forums and social media platforms used to organise the protests.

Would continuing to use their much-loved icon harm their cause?

A consensus appeared to emerge. Hong Kong's Pepe was a distinctly local meme. And if his notoriety in the West would help keep international attention focused on the protest movement, so be it.

Phoenix believes Pepe is both a symbol of the protest movement but also a rejection of the idea that anyone else -- be it Beijing or the West -- gets to speak for them.

"He could represent a lot of things, so he is what we make it. For me that's about freedom," she said.

2019 AFP

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Pepe the protest frog? Hong Kong kids aren't alt-right - FRANCE 24

The ‘OK’ Hand Gesture Is Now Listed As A Symbol Of Hate – NPR

The "OK" hand gesture is among 36 new entries in the Anti-Defamation League's "Hate on Display" database. lucapierro/Getty Images/RooM RF hide caption

The "OK" hand gesture is among 36 new entries in the Anti-Defamation League's "Hate on Display" database.

The "OK" hand gesture, commonly seen as a way of indicating that all is well, has now been classified as something else: a symbol of hate.

On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, added 36 symbols to its "Hate on Display" database including the index finger-to-thumb sign that in some corners of the Internet has become associated with white supremacy and the far right.

Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, told NPR that for years on fringe online message boards such as 4chan and 8chan, the "OK" sign has been deployed in memes and other images promoting hate. Given the number of white supremacists who have adopted it, he said it can now carry a nefarious message.

"Context is always key," Segal said. "More people than not will use the OK symbol as just 'OK.' But in those cases where there's more underlining meaning, I think it's important for people to understand that it could be used, and is being used, for hate as well."

According to the website Know Your Meme, as a prank, 4chan users in 2017 launched a campaign to flood social media with posts linking the "OK" hand gesture to the white power movement. Commenters on the message board appropriated images of people posing in the White House and other locations making the hand symbol as proof that it was catching on.

Segal said that while many of those images were misconstrued by users on the online message boards, the number of people espousing hate while using the gesture has grown so widespread that it can no longer be considered a prank.

Segal pointed to the suspected white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand, accused of killing 51 worshippers at two mosques in March, who flashed the "OK" hand gesture during an initial court appearance.

"Over the past couple years, we've seen that the hoax was essentially successful in being applied by actual white supremacists," Segal said.

"In many ways, they took what was a trolling effort and added it to their list of symbols," he added.

The ADL established its "Hate on Display" database in 2000 as a way to help track hate groups and their symbols for law enforcement, educators and other members of the public hoping to spot potential warnings signs of anti-Semitism and other types of extremism. Since then, the database has grown to include 214 entries.

One of the more prominent additions to the database, back in September 2016, was Pepe the Frog, the big-eyed green cartoon that became a kind of mascot of the alt-right.

Other symbols among the 36 added on Thursday include "Dylann Roof's Bowlcut," a reference to the haircut worn by the white supremacist gunman who killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Followers of Roof have incorporated the distinctive haircut into screen names such as "Bowltrash" or "The Final Bowlution" or collectively have referred to themselves as the "Bowl Gang," according to the ADL.

Another addition is "The Moon Man," a meme derived from 1980s-era McDonald's commercials that has since been hijacked by members of the alt-right, who attach racist songs, language and imagery around it.

Among the white nationalist group symbols in the database include the Rise Above Movement out of Southern California, which, according to the ADL, claims to have "the goal of fighting against the 'destructive cultural influences' of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants."

The ADL also featured the newly-formed American Identity Movement, which is a rebranding of Identity Evropa, considered one of the largest white supremacist groups. Members of the group participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 that resulted in a woman's death, and some members were "doxxed," which is when someone's private information is shared publicly online. "For all practical purposes, AIM is essentially Identity Evropa with a new name and logo," the ADL said.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's CEO, said in a statement that old symbols, gestures and other images are rapidly acquiring new, hateful associations that may be too obscure for the general public to understand.

"We believe law enforcement and the public needs to be fully informed about the meaning of these images, which can serve as a first warning sign to the presence of haters in a community or school," he said.

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The 'OK' Hand Gesture Is Now Listed As A Symbol Of Hate - NPR

How the alt-right co-opted the OK hand sign to fool the media – The Guardian

Another day, another seemingly harmless symbol you cant use without appearing to be a purveyor of hate.

The alt-rights latest trophy is the OK hand sign, which was officially recognised as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League over the weekend. And on Tuesday, it was reported that a Universal Orlando Resort employee was fired after concerned parents found a photo of him making the hand sign on their six-year-olds shoulder (their child is biracial and has autism).

The OK sign joins a number of surprising symbols co-opted by the alt-right, such as the milk emoji, Pepe the frog and even, at one point, Taylor Swift.

Sometimes, trolls choices are far-fetched and innocuous the milk emoji was appropriated because of the allegedly superior ability of white people to drink milk (large numbers of people in the rest of the world are lactose intolerant). But the transformation of mundane symbols into something to be feared is part of a broader aim to garner media attention, and getting one up on the people they think theyre fooling.

Reporters dont always understand that [trolls] seek media attention when they see something get media uptake, they capitalise on it, says Dr Joan Donovan, a media manipulation expert who is the director of Harvards Technology and Social Change (TaSC) Research Project.

She explains how these media manipulators see an opportunity for example, when something goes viral or becomes popular and choose it as a moment to insert themselves into the conversation. In the case of the Facebook Trash Doves sticker, for example, 4chan users noticed the cartoon go viral and sent out the rallying cry: Lets make this normie meme a Nazi symbol!

The trolls have a laugh when the journalists are fooled

With this process, they flex their muscles, showing that what the Lord giveth, the alt-right can take away. And its done through elaborate means, too: with Trash Doves, 4chan-users began to photoshop swastikas on to the viral Facebook cartoon. Sometimes theyre even more sophisticated, creating fake content cards like that of the ADLs. They circulate the content online through social media, leaving it out as bait for undiscerning journalists who perpetuate the hoax by writing about it as if it is an authentic hate-threat.

This is their trick: they are hoping journalists will uncritically look at the OK symbol, find these infographics that claim it stands for white power and then write about it. The trolls have a laugh when the journalists are fooled, says Donovan.

These become symbols of hate pretty much exclusively because of journalistic coverage, says Wendy Phillips, who wrote This is Why We Cant Have Nice things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture.

Ultimately, this a game about power: if rightwing trolls can make the so-called liberal media look gullible, then it has a delegitimising effect, supporting the idea that journalists are oversensitive, easily triggered snowflakes. Soon enough, the news begins to feels like it belongs to a parody website rather than real life.

What memes do is they create in-groups and out-groups. The in-groups know its satirical, the out-groups think its something to fear, says Donovan.

Part of the effect is to make you think that white supremacists could be everywhere, hiding in plain sight. If someone as important as the president could be one of them Trump likes to flash the gesture when he speaks who else is? Heck, maybe youre a white supremacist, because the last time you sent an OK emoji you were unwittingly signalling your belief in the superiority of the white race.

At some point, life begins to imitate their art, and what began as a media hoax takes on dangerously radical connotations. This point came when the Australian man charged with killing 51 people at mosques in New Zealand, made the OK gesture during a courtroom appearance after being arrested.

Phillips says even if stories written about these memes are incredulous or mocking, they might help the cause, since media attention is what those groups are after.

Many of us tend to be very fascinated in the bad guys themselves which is understandable but they are the smallest part of the story, she says.

So what does this mean for journalists? Phillips argues that media organisations cant ever truly separate themselves from the amplification of white nationalists if they have to report on them.

Instead, she advocates for the media to shift the camera away from the white supremacists and focus on its real victims. That means looking at its impact on minority communities in places like Texas, and on the people who live in the small towns that neo-Nazis turn up in. It means highlighting the toxic resentment of women that the patriarchal ideology of white nationalism results in, and what it feels like for a mother to have white supremacists take her daughter away.

Ultimately, it means reporting the news but in a different way, says Phillips: I dont think the media shouldnt tell the truth, you should just tell a bigger truth: about the impact of these behaviours, instead of just reporting on the genesis of them.

The rest is here:

How the alt-right co-opted the OK hand sign to fool the media - The Guardian

I ‘stormed’ Area 51 and it was even weirder than I imagined – The Guardian

In the middle of the Nevadan desert, outside a secretive US military airstrip, I found the worlds strangest social media convention.

Dozens of young, good-looking, often costumed people were running around filming each other with semi-professional video rigs. They were YouTube and Instagram stars or, more often, aspiring stars here to storm Area 51 for the benefit of their followers and free the aliens held captive within. Or at least film themselves talking about it.

Joining them was a ragged army of hundreds of stoners, UFO buffs, punk bands, rubberneckers, European tourists, people with way too much time on their hands, and meme-lords in Pepe the Frog costumes all here because of the Internet, the ironic and the earnest alike, for a party at the end of the earth.

Three months earlier, on 20 June 2019, the podcaster Joe Rogan released an interview with Bob Lazar. Lazar is a cult figure in UFO circles; he claims to have studied flying saucers at Area 51, the classified air force base in Nevada where the US government is rumored by some to make secret contact with extraterrestrial beings.

Rogans millions of listeners heard the interview.

One of those listeners was Matty Roberts, a college student, anime enthusiast and video gamer in Bakersfield, California. Inspired by the Rogan podcast, Roberts created a joke Facebook event: Storm Area 51, They Cant Stop All of Us. According to the plan, people would meet in Rachel, Nevada the closest town to Area 51 in the early morning of 20 September, then swarm the defenses and see for themselves if the government was hiding aliens.

Things snowballed. Within hours, the page had thousands of RSVPs. Within days it had more than a million. The air force warned that things would end badly for anyone attempting a raid. The FBI paid the hapless Matty Roberts a house call.

So he came up with a brilliant pivot: why not channel this momentum into a Burning Man-style music festival in the desert? He joined forces with Connie West, the operator of Rachels sole inn and restaurant, to plan what they called Alienstock.

Then came the first schism. Scornful of the internet interlopers, the Alien Research Center in nearby Hiko, Nevada, decided to host its own Area 51 event the same weekend for serious ufologists.

Roberts and West pressed on. But the town of Rachel (population: 54) lacked the infrastructure to handle thousands of conspiracy theorists and gawkers descending on rural Nevada. The local authorities feared potential calamity: people dying of dehydration in the desert, angry landowners, madmen with guns.

Things snowballed. Within hours, the page had thousands of RSVPs. Within days it had more than a million.

On 10 September, nine days before the event, Roberts backed out. He wanted no involvement in a Fyre Fest 2.0, he told the media. He accused West of being insufficiently prepared for the coming flood. Budweiser offered to sponsor a free, alternative Alienstock event in a safe, clean venue in downtown Las Vegas. Roberts urged people to go there instead.

West refused to cancel the concert in the desert. Shed already sunk thousands of dollars of her own money into the event, she told reporters as she held back tears. Alienstock would happen, she said, whether anyone liked it or not.

Now there were three rival events all happening on the same weekend one in Las Vegas, another in Rachel and a third in Hiko. No one had any idea how many people were coming.

I came equipped with a duffel bag of Hawaiian shirts and a case of vape cartridges, which I hoped to use as currency in the event of civilizational collapse in the desert.

But the desert would wait. The Area 51 Celebration in downtown Las Vegas did not get off to a promising start. When I arrived, shortly after 7pm, the outdoor venue heavily bedecked with glowing neon alien signage was mostly empty except for cops and local newscasters. A DJ blasted dubstep to a bare dancefloor. The venue even had a swimming pool, bathed in green light and watched by a bored-looking lifeguard.

I feared it might be a long night. I ordered a whiskey-and-water; the bartender filled a plastic stadium cup to the brim.

Then people started trickling in. Everyone was wearing their best alien-themed rave attire: one woman wore a shiny, and discomfitingly rubbery, head-to-toe alien costume. Another had a Rick-and-Morty-patterned dress. Three men tore up the dancefloor in matching alien-motif onesies. Someone carried a sign that said GREEN LIVES MATTER.

I talked to two people whod driven six hours from Tucson, Arizona, on a whim to attend. One was wearing a Flat Earth Society T-shirt, though he said it was ironic.

I spied Matty Roberts in the center of a swirling mass of people, holding court. He was wearing a Slayer hat and black T-shirt; his long, dark hair flowed majestically down his back. He looked like a heavy metal-listening, Mountain Dew-drinking samurai lord, surrounded by courtiers and supplicants. I fought my way over.

He was in high spirits. Im absolutely amazed at how things turned out, and its incredible, he told me as he signed autographs. I opened my mouth to ask a follow-up question but he was swallowed up again by the crowd.

By around 9pm, there were a couple hundred people jerking spasmodically to dubstep.

A woman who introduced herself as Shereel (C-H-E-R-Y-L) said she was happy to be at the rave but disappointed she couldnt make the event in the desert.

This is the first time since Roswell that people like us are all coming together, she said. Even if nothing happens, we tried.

The DJ interrupted his set to thank Matty Roberts and give a special shout-out to Bob Lazar. The crowd cheered.

A warm wind was whipping through the arena. As the wind buffeted us and the rave lights flickered overhead, you could almost believe a UFO really was about to descend.

The next morning I got in my rental car and headed north.

The outskirts of Las Vegas casinos, strip clubs, endless billboards for personal injury lawyers dropped away rapidly. Now there was just desert in every direction, stunning in its vastness and austere beauty. Mountains towered over the highway, surrounded by hilly plains of cacti and scrub.

Soon most human settlement was gone. There was nothing alongside the highway no strip malls, no fast food joints, and, I noticed, worryingly few gas stations. I had at least two hours of driving ahead, though I knew I was going in the right direction: every vehicle I saw was a police car, an RV or a news satellite van.

As I drove I listened to rightwing talk radio, then Top 40, then country, then a Bible discussion call-in show, then some Spanish-language stations, then static. A talk station interviewed the mother of a police officer killed by an undocumented immigrant. Sean Hannity made fun of the climate strike, and every talkshow discussed the New York Times recent, partly retracted accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. It was, they pointed out, yet another sign of bias in the liberal media.

Soon most human settlement was gone. There wasnt even anything alongside the highway.

The first gas station was bustling with people buying water and jerry cans of gas. In the parking lot there was a camper van marked AREA 51 HERE WE COME.

Finally, two hours north of Las Vegas, I saw the exit for State Route 375 also known, since its formal renaming in 1996, as Extraterrestrial Highway.

The US government owns thousands of square miles of land in northern Nevada. The area is big enough, and empty enough, to detonate a nuclear bomb which the government has, on hundreds of occasions.

The Groom Lake airfield Area 51 is part of a massive complex of military installations. Their activities are classified and the skies above are restricted air space. Little is known about what goes on there, though the air force tests experimental stealth aircraft, which may account for some UFO sightings.

Of course, military pilots are themselves known to report seeing what they refer to as unexplained aerial phenomena. (Even the New York Times has reported on it.)

In the 2000s, Congress established an advanced aviation threat identification program to study the problem. The program wasnt classified, but it operated with the knowledge of an extremely limited number of officials, according to Politico. The then Nevada senator Harry Reid helped secure the funding.

Thats the end of the history lesson. The reader is free to investigate further and come to their own conclusions.

On the way to Rachel, I stopped at the rival festival at the Alien Research Center in Hiko. It was heavy on souvenir sellers, though there were some hardcore ufologists. A group called the Mutual UFO Network (Mufon) gave me a pamphlet offering certification to be a field investigator.

If anything, the ufologists were more the exception than the rule. I had expected most Area 51 Stormers to be conspiracy theorists, 4chan types, or people on the fringe political spectrum, but a lot probably most were normies on a lark, or foreigners in search of peak Americana.

Two young men one Swiss German, the other Japanese told me they were friends whod met at an English as a second language program in New York. A group of Britons told me theyd been taking a road trip up the west coast, heard about the Area 51 business, and decided to take a detour.

This was a common theme: Well, Id been thinking about taking a road trip anyway, sooo

When my car turned the last switchback into the valley toward Area 51, the car radio, theretofore static, suddenly started blasting Smetanas M Vlast in eerie, crystal-perfect sound. The aliens, it seemed, were classical music buffs.

Rachel came into view a tiny, one-horse town besieged by cars and tents and camper vans. Including the cops, EMTs, festival organizers, and so on, there looked to be a couple thousand people not the two million who had RSVPd to the Facebook event, nor the 30,000 the sheriff feared, but more than I thought would follow through.

Contrary to the wild warnings about a Fyre festival 2.0, things appeared mostly under control. Festival marshals waved me along to an assigned lot.

My neighbors at the parking lot-slash-campsite were a punk band called Foreign Life Form. They werent part of the planned music lineup, one Life Form explained as he ate Chef Boyardee room-temperature from a can, but when they heard about Alienstock, it seemed like fate. They were trying to find the concert organizer to get added to the billing. To help seal the deal theyd painted their faces and arms green.

My other neighbor, an erudite, joint-smoking history podcaster from Oregon, wore a T-shirt that said Take me to your dealer. He and his son had had the shirts custom-made; the Life Forms were disappointed they couldnt buy some.

Getting to the actual entrance to Area 51 took another 20 minutes of driving on an unmarked, unpaved road. Clouds of chalk billowed behind the cars coming and going.

At the end of the road was a drab military checkpoint flanked by concertina wire and threatening signs. The sign prohibiting photography was clearly a dead letter.

Rotating shifts of law enforcement officers of every variety sheriffs deputies, state troopers, game wardens, park rangers kept a watchful eye on everything. They seemed relaxed, though, and looked like they were having as good a time as the ostensible Stormers. After all, this was an excuse for them to hang out at Area 51, too.

(To my knowledge, no one actually raided Area 51, besides the two Dutch YouTubers who had tried to sneak through the perimeter two weeks earlier and ended up in jail instead.)

In addition to YouTube vloggers and Instagram influencers, there were more than a few actual journalists. Watching them scurry around diligently with tape recorders reminded me that I needed to find a Quirky Character who could give On-Scene Color. A talkative UFO buff would be ideal but the other journalists had already claimed most of the good ones.

I couldnt avoid noticing a pair of men in huge, papier-mache Pepe the Frog heads. The vloggers loved them, and the Pepes enjoyed mugging for the cameras. My God, a girl said, theyre adorable.

Under their frog heads, the Pepes were two young Latino guys from California. When I asked them what they thought of the frogs association with the alt-right, one seemed confused. The other nodded in recognition but claimed he just thought the symbol was fun.

He said, Its all about the

Memes, finished the other. They both laughed.

I asked if it wasnt weird for them, as Latinos, to embrace a symbol affiliated with white nationalists.

Yeah, I mean, theyre a little, like, extreme for me sometimes, one said. But sometimes you feel like theyre right about some stuff.

I said, Like what?

Like clown world.


Clown world.


Like the idea that were all living in a world of clowns, he clarified.

Tendrils of fog hung over Alienstock. The temperature was dropping fast and the sun was low and pink in the sky. The sunset was sublime but I had a long drive to my motel ahead and a sick feeling that I should have left half an hour ago.

I bade farewell to the history podcaster. He reminded me that the area was open grazing land. Watch out for the steer, he said. They go right out into the road.

The next morning I debated whether to squeeze in another trip out to Alienstock and couldnt quite find the willpower. It was time to get back to civilization, I decided. Or at least Las Vegas.

I stopped at the gas station in Alamo, near Rachel. The town felt hungover, and it still had a day to go. Most of the locals seemed unsure quite how to feel about the whole thing. It was a boon to the local economy, yes, but also a financial disaster for the county government. There were rumors that the district attorney was planning to sue Connie West, or Matty Roberts, or even Facebook.

Most, though, just seemed excited at the idea that their corner of the world might become something bigger than a gas stop on the way elsewhere.

Everyone vowed that next year, theyd be ready.

Continued here:

I 'stormed' Area 51 and it was even weirder than I imagined - The Guardian

What the uncanceling of Pepe the Frog just for HK protests, though tells us about US media – RT

Having written hundreds of articles demonizing the amphibian meme as inherently sinister, news outlets have had to perform a quick 180 now that he has been adopted as the mascot of the Hong Kong protest movement.

Pepe the Frog has been everywhere during the past six months of anti-government demonstrations in the Chinese city as a flash graffiti drawn on and washed off walls, a doll holding placards with political slogans and calling for political changes from custom-made t-shirts, in user-made pictures and cartoons circulated on social media and in organizers WhatsApp and Telegram groups.

For the Western media slavishly dedicated to covering the demonstrations from the protesters perspective, this has been awkward, yet impossible to ignore.

Is this not the same Pepe whose alternately self-satisfied and downbeat visage was used as a vehicle for alt-right talking points prior to the 2016 election? The one that candidate Hillary Clinton dedicated a special warning to on her website, saying he had been almost entirely co-opted by white supremacists? The one that the Anti-Defamation League still considers a hate symbol even in its unaltered form?

The simplest route has been to wave this away as a coincidence, with almost every mainstream media article at pains to emphasize that the Hong Kong protesters are not alt-right, and were entirely unaware of the connotations of the cartoon frog, which do not apply outside the US.

More sophisticated explanations have celebrated reclaiming Pepe, recalling that he had begun his life as a stoner joke for a minutiae-obsessed apolitical web cartoon by artist Matt Furie back in 2005, three years before alt-right was even a word.

All that might be correct if not for the glaring similarities between how Pepe was used three years ago and now that make it hard to believe that the current green frog had no lineage.

In both cases the cartoon gave a chance for protest movements to challenge the establishment through his sly subversion. Is Pepe trolling you or is he being serious? When he cries is that just a cheap joke, or a comment about grave imbalances of power? Using him as a truth-sayer figure couched in levels of irony, disarms, gives plausible deniability, and most of all, reflects the young, media-savvy culture that permeates both the Hong Kong movement squaring up to the might of Beijing, and the 4Chan provocateurs who helped Donald Trump get elected against the prevailing cultural winds.

After all the slogan of the Hong Kong crowds is a Bruce Lee quote:be water. Once again, it plays up the amorphousness and flexibility, the anonymity and persistence of the crowd, whether mass-posting online or occupying a public space, trying to shake up the monolithic structures of the ruling elite.

Yet the difference in the coverage, depending on the narrative, is stunning. A satirical cartoon can become the new swastika, and the new swastika can become a symbol of freedom, all without changing. These biases can be seen through the contrasting coverage of say the Yellow Vests and Black Lives Matters or the Maidan protests, but here is a rare test case.

Certainly, the protesters in Hong Kong arent drawing up Hitler mustaches on their Pepes, or making them gloat outside of gas chambers. But frankly, neither did most of the images that circulated through the image boards and continue to crop up in Twitter discussions today. The vilification was largely intellectually dishonest, and relied on picking unrepresentative examples to marginalize what is already a minority hidden on the outskirts of polite internet discourse.

It was also ineffective. Just as Pepe did not die, but returned through ever more postmodernist reincarnations, including the anarchic and popular Clown Pepe who comments on the absurdities of political correctness or the latest big tech censorship, and now again, half-a-world away.

There is a lesson here: you can call Pepe far-right, and equate the OK gesture to Heil Hitler!

But if any dissenters remain, and you are suppressing their ideas, not debating them, the internet will find a way. And for all your billions, armies, and news channels you will be the ones forced to spend your time mass-deleting pictures of memes off the internet to keep your grasp on power.

By Igor Ogorodnev, senior writer at RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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What the uncanceling of Pepe the Frog just for HK protests, though tells us about US media - RT

atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to …

Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.

The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism.

A central, common core of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the affirmation of the reality of one, and only one, God. Adherents of these faiths believe that there is a God who created the universe out of nothing and who has absolute sovereignty over all his creation; this includes, of course, human beingswho are not only utterly dependent on this creative power but also sinful and who, or so the faithful must believe, can only make adequate sense of their lives by accepting, without question, Gods ordinances for them. The varieties of atheism are numerous, but all atheists reject such a set of beliefs.

Atheism, however, casts a wider net and rejects all belief in spiritual beings, and to the extent that belief in spiritual beings is definitive of what it means for a system to be religious, atheism rejects religion. So atheism is not only a rejection of the central conceptions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; it is, as well, a rejection of the religious beliefs of such African religions as that of the Dinka and the Nuer, of the anthropomorphic gods of classical Greece and Rome, and of the transcendental conceptions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.

It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to rejection of religious belief and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.

To say that atheism is the denial of God or the gods and that it is the opposite of theism, a system of belief that affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate his existence, is inadequate in a number of ways. First, not all theologians who regard themselves as defenders of the Christian faith or of Judaism or Islam regard themselves as defenders of theism. The influential 20th-century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, for example, regards the God of theism as an idol and refuses to construe God as a being, even a supreme being, among beings or as an infinite being above finite beings. God, for him, is being-itself, the ground of being and meaning. The particulars of Tillichs view are in certain ways idiosyncratic, as well as being obscure and problematic, but they have been influential; and his rejection of theism, while retaining a belief in God, is not eccentric in contemporary theology, though it may very well affront the plain believer.

Second, and more important, it is not the case that all theists seek to demonstrate or even in any way rationally to establish the existence of God. Many theists regard such a demonstration as impossible, and fideistic believers (e.g., Johann Hamann and Sren Kierkegaard) regard such a demonstration, even if it were possible, as undesirable, for in their view it would undermine faith. If it could be proved, or known for certain, that God exists, people would not be in a position to accept him as their sovereign Lord humbly on faith with all the risks that entails. There are theologians who have argued that for genuine faith to be possible God must necessarily be a hidden God, the mysterious ultimate reality, whose existence and authority must be accepted simply on faith. This fideistic view has not, of course, gone without challenge from inside the major faiths, but it is of sufficient importance to make the above characterization of atheism inadequate.

Finally, and most important, not all denials of God are denials of his existence. Believers sometimes deny God while not being at all in a state of doubt that God exists. They either willfully reject what they take to be his authority by not acting in accordance with what they take to be his will, or else they simply live their lives as if God did not exist. In this important way they deny him. Such deniers are not atheists (unless we wish, misleadingly, to call them practical atheists). They are not even agnostics. They do not question that God exists; they deny him in other ways. An atheist denies the existence of God. As it is frequently said, atheists believe that it is false that God exists, or that Gods existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.

Yet it remains the case that such a characterization of atheism is inadequate in other ways. For one it is too narrow. There are atheists who believe that the very concept of God, at least in developed and less anthropomorphic forms of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, is so incoherent that certain central religious claims, such as God is my creator to whom everything is owed, are not genuine truth-claims; i.e., the claims could not be either true or false. Believers hold that such religious propositions are true, some atheists believe that they are false, and there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds whether to believe that they are true or false. (Agnostics think that the propositions are one or the other but believe that it is not possible to determine which.) But all three are mistaken, some atheists argue, for such putative truth-claims are not sufficiently intelligible to be genuine truth-claims that are either true or false. In reality there is nothing in them to be believed or disbelieved, though there is for the believer the powerful and humanly comforting illusion that there is. Such an atheism, it should be added, rooted for some conceptions of God in considerations about intelligibility and what it makes sense to say, has been strongly resisted by some pragmatists and logical empiricists.

While the above considerations about atheism and intelligibility show the second characterization of atheism to be too narrow, it is also the case that this characterization is in a way too broad. For there are fideistic believers, who quite unequivocally believe that when looked at objectively the proposition that God exists has a very low probability weight. They believe in God not because it is probable that he existsthey think it more probable that he does notbut because belief is thought by them to be necessary to make sense of human life. The second characterization of atheism does not distinguish a fideistic believer (a Blaise Pascal or a Soren Kierkegaard) or an agnostic (a T.H. Huxley or a Sir Leslie Stephen) from an atheist such as Baron dHolbach. All believe that there is a God and God protects humankind, however emotionally important they may be, are speculative hypotheses of an extremely low order of probability. But this, since it does not distinguish believers from nonbelievers and does not distinguish agnostics from atheists, cannot be an adequate characterization of atheism.

It may be retorted that to avoid apriorism and dogmatic atheism the existence of God should be regarded as a hypothesis. There are no ontological (purely a priori) proofs or disproofs of Gods existence. It is not reasonable to rule in advance that it makes no sense to say that God exists. What the atheist can reasonably claim is that there is no evidence that there is a God, and against that background he may very well be justified in asserting that there is no God. It has been argued, however, that it is simply dogmatic for an atheist to assert that no possible evidence could ever give one grounds for believing in God. Instead, atheists should justify their unbelief by showing (if they can) how the assertion is well-taken that there is no evidence that would warrant a belief in God. If atheism is justified, the atheist will have shown that in fact there is no adequate evidence for the belief that God exists, but it should not be part of his task to try to show that there could not be any evidence for the existence of God. If the atheist could somehow survive the death of his present body (assuming that such talk makes sense) and come, much to his surprise, to stand in the presence of God, his answer should be, Oh! Lord, you didnt give me enough evidence! He would have been mistaken, and realize that he had been mistaken, in his judgment that God did not exist. Still, he would not have been unjustified, in the light of the evidence available to him during his earthly life, in believing as he did. Not having any such postmortem experiences of the presence of God (assuming that he could have them), what he should say, as things stand and in the face of the evidence he actually has and is likely to be able to get, is that it is false that God exists. (Every time one legitimately asserts that a proposition is false one need not be certain that it is false. Knowing with certainty is not a pleonasm.) The claim is that this tentative posture is the reasonable position for the atheist to take.

An atheist who argues in this manner may also make a distinctive burden-of-proof argument. Given that God (if there is one) is by definition a very recherch realitya reality that must be (for there to be such a reality) transcendent to the worldthe burden of proof is not on the atheist to give grounds for believing that there is no reality of that order. Rather, the burden of proof is on the believer to give some evidence for Gods existencei.e., that there is such a reality. Given what God must be, if there is a God, the theist needs to present the evidence, for such a very strange reality. He needs to show that there is more in the world than is disclosed by common experience. The empirical method, and the empirical method alone, such an atheist asserts, affords a reliable method for establishing what is in fact the case. To the claim of the theist that there are in addition to varieties of empirical facts spiritual facts or transcendent facts, such as it being the case that there is a supernatural, self-existent, eternal power, the atheist can assert that such facts have not been shown.

It will, however, be argued by such atheists, against what they take to be dogmatic aprioristic atheists, that the atheist should be a fallibilist and remain open-minded about what the future may bring. There may, after all, be such transcendent facts, such metaphysical realities. It is not that such a fallibilistic atheist is really an agnostic who believes that he is not justified in either asserting that God exists or denying that he exists and that what he must reasonably do is suspend belief. On the contrary, such an atheist believes that he has very good grounds indeed, as things stand, for denying the existence of God. But he will, on the second conceptualization of what it is to be an atheist, not deny that things could be otherwise and that, if they were, he would be justified in believing in God or at least would no longer be justified in asserting that it is false that there is a God. Using reliable empirical techniques, proven methods for establishing matters of fact, the fallibilistic atheist has found nothing in the universe to make a belief that God exists justifiable or even, everything considered, the most rational option of the various options. He therefore draws the atheistical conclusion (also keeping in mind his burden-of-proof argument) that God does not exist. But he does not dogmatically in a priori fashion deny the existence of God. He remains a thorough and consistent fallibilist.

Such a form of atheism (the atheism of those pragmatists who are also naturalistic humanists), though less inadequate than the first formation of atheism, is still inadequate. God in developed forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not, like Zeus or Odin, construed in a relatively plain anthropomorphic way. Nothing that could count as God in such religions could possibly be observed, literally encountered, or detected in the universe. God, in such a conception, is utterly transcendent to the world; he is conceived of as pure spirit, an infinite individual who created the universe out of nothing and who is distinct from the universe. Such a realitya reality that is taken to be an ultimate mysterycould not be identified as objects or processes in the universe can be identified. There can be no pointing at or to God, no ostensive teaching of God, to show what is meant. The word God can only be taught intralinguistically. God is taught to someone who does not understand what the word means by the use of descriptions such as the maker of the universe, the eternal, utterly independent being upon whom all other beings depend, the first cause, the sole ultimate reality, or a self-caused being. For someone who does not understand such descriptions, there can be no understanding of the concept of God. But the key terms of such descriptions are themselves no more capable of ostensive definition (of having their referents pointed out) than is God, where that term is not, like Zeus, construed anthropomorphically. (That does not mean that anyone has actually pointed to Zeus or observed Zeus but that one knows what it would be like to do so.)

In coming to understand what is meant by God in such discourses, it must be understood that God, whatever else he is, is a being that could not possibly be seen or be in any way else observed. He could not be anything material or empirical, and he is said by believers to be an intractable mystery. A nonmysterious God would not be the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This, in effect, makes it a mistake to claim that the existence of God can rightly be treated as a hypothesis and makes it a mistake to claim that, by the use of the experimental method or some other determinate empirical method, the existence of God can be confirmed or disconfirmed as can the existence of an empirical reality. The retort made by some atheists, who also like pragmatists remain thoroughgoing fallibilists, is that such a proposed way of coming to know, or failing to come to know, God makes no sense for anyone who understands what kind of reality God is supposed to be. Anything whose existence could be so verified would not be the God of Judeo-Christianity. God could not be a reality whose presence is even faintly adumbrated in experience, for anything that could even count as the God of Judeo-Christianity must be transcendent to the world. Anything that could actually be encountered or experienced could not be God.

At the very heart of a religion such as Christianity there stands a metaphysical belief in a reality that is alleged to transcend the empirical world. It is the metaphysical belief that there is an eternal, ever-present creative source and sustainer of the universe. The problem is how it is possible to know or reasonably believe that such a reality exists or even to understand what such talk is about.

It is not that God is like a theoretical entity in physics such as a proton or a neutrino. They are, where they are construed as realities rather than as heuristically useful conceptual fictions, thought to be part of the actual furniture of the universe. They are not said to be transcendent to the universe, but rather are invisible entities in the universe logically on a par with specks of dust and grains of sand, only much, much smaller. They are on the same continuum; they are not a different kind of reality. It is only the case that they, as a matter of fact, cannot be seen. Indeed no one has an understanding of what it would be like to see a proton or a neutrinoin that way they are like Godand no provision is made in physical theory for seeing them. Still, there is no logical ban on seeing them as there is on seeing God. They are among the things in the universe, and thus, though they are invisible, they can be postulated as causes of things that are seen. Since this is so it becomes at least logically possible indirectly to verify by empirical methods the existence of such realities. It is also the case that there is no logical ban on establishing what is necessary to establish a causal connection, namely a constant conjunction of two discrete empirical realities. But no such constant conjunction can be established or even intelligibly asserted between God and the universe, and thus the existence of God is not even indirectly verifiable. God is not a discrete empirical thing or being, and the universe is not a gigantic thing or process over and above the things and processes in the universe of which it makes sense to say that the universe has or had a cause. But then there is no way, directly or indirectly, that even the probability that there is a God could be empirically established.

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atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to ...

Atheism | CARM.org

Atheism is a lack of belief in any God and deities as well as a total denial of the existence of any god. It is a growing movement that is becoming more aggressive, more demanding, and less tolerant of anything other than itself - as is exemplified by its adherents. Is atheism a sound philosophical system as a worldview or is it ultimately self-defeating? Is the requirement of empirical evidence for God a mistake in logic or is it a fair demand? Can we prove that God exists or is that impossible? Find out more about atheism, its arguments, and its problems here at CARM. Learn how to deal with the arguments raised against the existence of God that seek to replace Him with naturalism, materialism, and moral relativism.

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Atheism | CARM.org

Atheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atheism is rejecting the belief in a god or gods. It is the opposite of theism, which is the belief that at least one god exists.A person who rejects belief in gods is called an atheist.Theism is the belief in one or more gods. Adding an a, meaning "without", before the word theism results in atheism, or literally, "without theism".. Atheism is not the same as agnosticism: agnostics say that ...

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Atheism - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

atheism r/atheism – reddit: the front page of the internet

This happened around last year when they just found out that i was an atheist. My parents sat down with me (and for some reason they roped my brother in too) to kinda talk it out with them, the why and how and all that.

So my father was talking about how god had blessed him and his family with a luxurious and comfortable life. I, thinking that my parents would hear me out since they got out of their own way just to talk about religion with us, told them that i believed that they worked hard and earned the money themselves.

Surprisingly enough, my father immediately blew his top off and yelled at me, insisting that it was by god's grace that we are now able to live such a good life. He then, for some reason told me that my ability to draw was a god-given talent. Naturally, i was pissed. After all, i went to years and years of art class just to be able to draw like i do now, though it only looks nice in my family's standards since i'm the only one in my family that can draw. But i didn't say anything back since i don't want to start another war with m parents.

Seriously, if it really was just god's grace that allowed my family to live comfortably, why have i never seen god just bestow upon my father a paycheck? Why is it that he's so happy about having all his hard work credited to an invisible sky daddy? Call me greedy or selfish, but if someone took all the credit to my hard work i'd be bloody pissed. But hey, thanks for reading this.

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atheism r/atheism - reddit: the front page of the internet

Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Ripple vs SWIFT: The War Begins
While most criticisms of XRP do nothing to curb my bullish Ripple price forecast, there is one obstacle that nags at my conscience. Its name is SWIFT.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the king of international payments.

It coordinates wire transfers across 11,000 banks in more than 200 countries and territories, meaning that in order for XRP prices to ascend to $10.00, Ripple needs to launch a successful coup. That is, and always has been, an unwritten part of Ripple’s story.

We’ve seen a lot of progress on that score. In the last three years, Ripple wooed more than 100 financial firms onto its.

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Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Another Crypto Hack Derails Recovery
Since our last report, hackers broke into yet another cryptocurrency exchange. This time the target was Bithumb, a Korean exchange known for high-flying prices and ultra-active traders.

While the hackers made off with approximately $31.5 million in funds, the exchange is working with relevant authorities to return the stolen tokens to their respective owners. In the event that some is still missing, the exchange will cover the losses. (Source: “Bithumb Working With Other Crypto Exchanges to Recover Hacked Funds,”.

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Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News
On the whole, cryptocurrency prices are down from our previous report on cryptos, with the market slipping on news of an exchange being hacked and a report about Bitcoin manipulation.

However, there have been two bright spots: 1) an official from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that Ethereum is not a security, and 2) Coinbase is expanding its selection of tokens.

Let's start with the good news.
SEC Says ETH Is Not a Security
Investors have some reason to cheer this week. A high-ranking SEC official told attendees of the Yahoo! All Markets Summit: Crypto that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not.

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Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News
This was a bloody week for cryptocurrencies. Everything was covered in red, from Ethereum (ETH) on down to the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

Some investors claim it was inevitable. Others say that price manipulation is to blame.

We think the answers are more complicated than either side has to offer, because our research reveals deep contradictions between the price of cryptos and the underlying development of blockchain projects.

For instance, a leading venture capital (VC) firm launched a $300.0-million crypto investment fund, yet liquidity continues to dry up in crypto markets.

Another example is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens

Cryptocurrency News & Market Summary
Investors finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel last week, with cryptos soaring across the board. No one quite knows what kicked off the rally—as it could have been any of the stories we discuss below—but the net result was positive.

Of course, prices won’t stay on this rocket ride forever. I expect to see a resurgence of volatility in short order, because the market is moving as a single unit. Everything is rising in tandem.

This tells me that investors are simply “buying the dip” rather than identifying which cryptos have enough real-world value to outlive the crash.

So if you want to know when.

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Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens

Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds

Cryptocurrency News
Although cryptocurrency prices were heating up last week (Bitcoin, especially), regulators poured cold water on the rally by rejecting calls for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This is the second time that the proposal fell on deaf ears. (More on that below.)

Crypto mining ran into similar trouble, as you can see from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMD) most recent quarterly earnings. However, it wasn't all bad news. Investors should, for instance, be cheering the fact that hedge funds are ramping up their involvement in cryptocurrency markets.

Without further ado, here are those stories in greater detail.
ETF Rejection.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds

Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Cryptocurrency News
Cryptocurrencies traded sideways since our last report on cryptos. However, I noticed something interesting when playing around with Yahoo! Finance’s cryptocurrency screener: There are profitable pockets in this market.

Incidentally, Yahoo’s screener is far superior to the one on CoinMarketCap, so if you’re looking to compare digital assets, I highly recommend it.

But let's get back to my epiphany.

In the last month, at one point or another, most crypto assets on our favorites list saw double-digit increases. It’s true that each upswing was followed by a hard crash, but investors who rode the trend would have made a.

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Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Cryptocurrency News: Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Care About Bitcoin ETFs

Cryptocurrency News
While headline numbers look devastating this week, investors might take some solace in knowing that cryptocurrencies found their bottom at roughly $189.8 billion in market cap—that was the low point. Since then, investors put more than $20.0 billion back into the market.

During the rout, Ethereum broke below $300.00 and XRP fell below $0.30, marking yearly lows for both tokens. The same was true down the list of the top 100 biggest cryptos.

Altcoins took the brunt of the hit. BTC Dominance, which reveals how tightly investment is concentrated in Bitcoin, rose from 42.62% to 53.27% in just one month, showing that investors either fled altcoins at higher.

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Cryptocurrency News: Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Care About Bitcoin ETFs

Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity

Cryptocurrency News
Even though the cryptocurrency news was upbeat in recent days, the market tumbled after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected calls for a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).

That news came as a blow to investors, many of whom believe the ETF would open the cryptocurrency industry up to pension funds and other institutional investors. This would create a massive tailwind for cryptos, they say.

So it only follows that a rejection of the Bitcoin ETF should send cryptos tumbling, correct? Well, maybe you can follow that logic. To me, it seems like a dramatic overreaction.

I understand that legitimizing cryptos is important. But.

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Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity

Bitcoin Rise: Is the Recent Bitcoin Price Surge a Sign of Things to Come or Another Misdirection?

What You Need to Know About the Bitcoin Price Rise
It wasn't that long ago that Bitcoin (BTC) dominated headlines for its massive growth, with many cryptocurrency millionaires being made. The Bitcoin price surged ever upward and many people thought the gravy train would never stop running—until it did.

Prices crashed, investors abandoned the space, and lots of people lost money. Cut to today and we're seeing another big Bitcoin price surge; is this time any different?

I'm of a mind that investors ought to think twice before jumping back in on Bitcoin.

Bitcoin made waves when it once again crested above $5,000. Considering that it started 2019 around $3,700,.

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Bitcoin Rise: Is the Recent Bitcoin Price Surge a Sign of Things to Come or Another Misdirection?