Author Archive | Joseph Allen

The Blood on Our Hands: An Analysis of Mass Murder

Blood on hands

The synchronicity was disturbing. My research for an upcoming article had me immersed in hate crime statistics, when a friend from South Carolina told me the news. A 21-year-old Southern white male had just opened fire on a prayer group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. This story hit something deep that data points and bar graphs cannot reach.

The Charleston shooting shook my South Carolinian friend to his core. Nine black Christians had welcomed an angry white kid into their prayer circle, and he gunned them down on a mission to “protect the White race.” My guts stirred with a sick feeling of recognition. It was as if the shooting had been a dreaded inevitability. Or was it that we’ve been here before?

If you think Dylann Storm Roof fits the typical hate crime profile, you are only half-correct.

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Files from the Academic Fringe: Pt. 4 – Skepticism

Eugenie recapitulates phylogeny

Eugenie recapitulates phylogeny

Part 1 — Scientism
Part 2 — Creationism
Part 3 — Racism

It’s hard to believe that scientific skeptics would be anything less than ethical. Aren’t they the good guys in our secular society, sniffing out bullshit and putting age-old wives’ tales to rest? Or is that just a myth?

Apparently debunkers have a dark side. It was just before Halloween 2012. While swirling around the clickbait vortex, I stumbled across a scathing allegation. According to “The Skepchick,” numerous men in the “skeptic community” were bombarding their female colleagues with sexist cracks and crass sexual harassment—and with Richard Dawkins’s tacit approval.

Were these disbelieving libertines trying to open the public’s eyes or reenact Eyes Wide Shut? I had my doubts. About everything.

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Files from the Academic Fringe: Pt. 3 – Racism

Jesse Jackson and Jared Taylor: Racial Advocates

Jesse Jackson and Jared Taylor: Racial Advocates

Part 1 — Scientism
Part 2 — Creationism

To be honest, the prospect of reporting on a “race realist” conference freaked me out a little bit. My imagination ran wild with visions of swastika armbands, backroom blood oaths, job-killing jokes, and wild stories of interracial rape and murder. I became paranoid as the event approached, envisioning neo-Nazis following me home to snuff out the interloper, surrounding my secluded cottage, waving torches, and setting crosses ablaze, and me leveling my .308 bravely (complete with a close-up shot of my tightening iris) to pick them off one by one—but there are too goddamn many of them!

Or maybe someone I know would see me there and be like, “Dude, why are you at a white nationalist meeting?”

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Files from the Academic Fringe: Pt. 2 — Creationism


St. Richards, Patron of Biology Teachers

Read Files from the Academic Fringe: Part 1 — Scientism here.

In a humdrum secularist society, religion emerges as the life of the party. Yes, yes, Crusades and jihads and widows burned alive—all big time bummers, I know. On the bright side, religious worldviews breathe life into an otherwise inanimate and utterly pointless universe. It’s a good book you never have to put down. It’s sex before germ theory. It’s rum in a tepid punchbowl.

Weary of dry Darwinians, I decided to pay a visit to the Creationists.

It was October of 2012. I drove out of Nashville past farmland and swamps and into the wooded Kentucky mountains. Bright red leaves swept past me. The trees appeared translucent, shimmering, the blend of orange and green leaves creating strange illusions, as though Creation was decorated for winter’s arrival. A crushed coyote lay dead beside the highway, his paw limp over his sternum, facing the sky, a subtle smile on his snout.… Read the rest

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Files from the Academic Fringe: Pt. 1 — Scientism

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
— David Hume

E.O. Wilson and friends

E.O. Wilson and friends

Pariahs make for enjoyable company. I’ve always run with the wild-eyed wayfarers who bark and snarl at edge of the herd, often at the risk of being trampled. That includes bespectacled eggheads who think the unthinkable.

While doing some spring cleaning recently, I came across a stack of notepads which accompanied me to the academic fringe back in 2012. While my neighbors stocked up on beans and bullets—or magic Mayan crystals—I was burning gas and brain cells in search of seekers who say “fuck the consensus!” Well, I found them.

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Sympathy for the Robot

Johnny 5 and CHAPPiE: Heralds of the End Times or cute widdle wobots?

Cute widdle wobots or heralds of human extinction?

[Editor’s Note: This article may contain spoilers.]

Most of the time, I couldn’t care less about a computer’s feelings. I distrust them, frequently cuss at them, and occasionally smash them to pieces. Pretty callous, right?

You’d think a colorful robot on the silver screen would tug at my heartstrings, but no, not really. They usually make me uneasy. I didn’t bat an eye when C-3PO got blasted apart in The Empire Strikes Back. As a kid I thought The Terminator was super-cool, but seriously, it wasn’t a big deal to see half of his face crunched off—he’s tough, he can take it, he’s just a machine!

Things were different with Neill Blomkamp’s CHAPPiE.

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12 Stereotypes that Exist for a Reason

Wikipedia - Education for Death

From Walt Disney’s Education for Death

Everybody’s talking about “racists,” but no one agrees on the word’s definition. Do racists hate other races? Do they fear them? Is it racist to make fun of other races? To cynically pander to them?

The meaning is elusive because racism exists on a spectrum. Look carefully, though, and you’ll start to notice certain patterns.

Here are twelve handy peel-and-paste labels you can stick on any racists you come across:


Hates for the sake of hating.

The Hater Racist seethes with misanthropic disgust for all that is not him. You’ll find this Id-driven bigot spitting venom at your local bar or gleefully trolling the comments section.

Nasty, dehumanizing slurs roll off his forked tongue for the sadistic pleasure of offending sensitive people. He gets off on triggering your revulsion reflex. It’s about control.

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Heroin Addicts: Powerless to a Flower

Opium Poppy:  Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy: Papaver somniferum

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was written by a contributor. It examines substance addiction, a controversial topic. No endorsement is implied by its publication. The Disinformation Company encourages you to speak with your medical provider(s) regarding this or any other health-related topic.

An old drinking buddy of mine overdosed on heroin recently. He moved out to the Pacific Northwest to skate or die, and wound up doing both, joining a hundred other Americans who go out that way every day. I hadn’t seen or thought about him in years, but by coincidence, I was in town when he passed. A mutual friend told me there would be a memorial at a local skate park. I stopped by to pay my respects.

I found a bundle of droopy balloons hovering over beer can tabs, a condom wrapper, and a melted candle. Mourners had written dedications all over the squeaky balloon skins.… Read the rest

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Ray Kurzweil Wants to Make Google Sentient


Man’s best friend?

What is smarter than hoovering up the personal information and innermost thoughts of every person on the planet and then stuffing it into a single database?  Creating an artificial intelligence system capable of understanding it.  From The Guardian:

Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an “undisclosed” but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m.

And those are just the big deals. It also bought Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Redwood Robotics and Schaft, and another AI startup, DNNresearch. It hired Geoff Hinton, a British computer scientist who’s probably the world’s leading expert on neural networks.… Read the rest

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Racism May Not Be “Natural” (But Being an Asshole Is)

From "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Brain scans have shown that when people see faces of other races, their amygdalas light up like home security systems.  Some tout this as evidence of hardwired racial bias, evolved to keep the oddly colored “other” out of home territory.  But as Robert Wright points out in this recent article, there would be few opportunities for interracial conflict in our geographically dispersed evolutionary past.  The “other” would primarily be distinguished by different visual cues such as tribal emblems, because hostile neighboring tribes would generally be of the same race.

More recent brain scan experiments done on children show that, like menstrual cramps and unstoppable boners, neurological race rage doesn’t kick in until after puberty.  While the question of “nature vs. nurture” is still open, this suggests that cultural forces are at work.

Wright’s line of reasoning is pretty solid when he says, “[T]hough we’re not naturally racist, we’re naturally ‘groupist.'”

Via The Atlantic:

There’s never been good reason to believe that human beings are naturally racist.… Read the rest

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