Sunday, July 28, 2013

So... Nutella is Awesome

So nutella is pretty tasty. So I decided to experiment with it. A peanut butter and nutella sandwich. You never know, right?

Have I perhaps made a mistake? Did I ruin my pony?
Did I use too many monkeys?
A moment of clarity.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bring Back the Werepeople!

The above is from the box art for Doctor Who, the complete second series.

I'll admit, the above picture is disingenuous. I'm not actually talking about werepeople. Not weretigers1 nor werewolves nor yet werejackals2.

Rather, I'm asking if we can come up with gender neutral pronouns and nouns. Once upon a time, gender neutral terms abounded. In fact, there are gender-neutral terms in a lot of languages, and even English used to have them. Once, as I understand it, "man" was actually neutral, and was used to refer to women and men with equal ease, as in David Brin's Uplift Series3. The old Germanic term for male men was actually "were" or "vir". Hence "werewolf" meant "man-wolf" or "wolf-man".

The thing is that there are multiple different systems floating around out there attempting to fill in the gap needed by transgender and agendered people. There are many people out there who don't fit into the neat binary for whom "he" and "she" don't really work particularly well. For example there's ze/xe to fill in where one would use he/she, and "hir" to replace "his/her". Those work fairly well, I think. So far, though, I haven't seen a good, neutral, one-syllable term that can be tossed out. I think that's part of why "human" and "person" and "people" seem so awkward when we try to slot them in. They sound awkward.

Of course, it's not always necessary to slot in "person" or something. I had to roll my eyes early on in the excellent show Once Upon A Time when the main character, Emma, repeatedly corrected people referring to her as a "bail bondsman" that she was a "bail bondsperson". Stupid. Why not "bounty hunter"? That's cool (replacing "mailman" with "letter carrier" simply doesn't add a cool factor).

But in general, why not use 'were'? That would certainly make things cool. Mailman? Nope, mailwere. Badass. Bondsman? Bondswere. Physicist? Physicswere!

Okay, sometimes it's never necessary because the common term is in fact gender neutral, but come on! Who wouldn't want to be a physicswere? Or a physiwere. Whatevs.

From now on, I'm a blogwere. More seriously, if you don't know the gender of a person, why not refer to hir as a were? I know that "they" works and was the default before it was replaced by "he" in the 18th/19th centuries, but I don't like it just because it's plural. From now on, all of y'all are weres. Deal with it.


1 - Whereas in European folklore, werecats were people who could turn into domestic cats, albeit sometimes giant, in India they could become tigers.

2 - Common in Africa and India, but other cultures have other kinds of weredogs.

3 - Reading through it the first time, it was strange for me to have no one blink an eye at a young girl say "I had to be in charge because I'm a man." meaning that, unlike the chimps and gorillas at the uplift center her parents worked at, she was a human being, and therefore was in charge of the people of their client races.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Transhumanism Religious?

The buraq; the flying horse woman thing that carried Muhammad to Jerusalem before his death.
Disney didn't invent this. It's actually a lot older. Like three years older.
The reason for the mattresses? Because soon enough they'll come back down.
Yes, it's a trick. What you might not be able to see is precisely how it works. There's a reason for the cane, the carpet, and the baggy clothes.
He can fly so hard even his snakey stick can fly!
Half Jesus, half Moses, all American.

Clearly flying strikes a chord in human beings. Like transcending death and being able to have the most awesome sex forever, flying is one of those things we all kinda wish we could do. It's not surprising, then, that it crops up sometimes in transhumanism.

First, what is transhumanism? The belief that the singularity cometh! Soon technology will enable us to overcome all human limitations and we will live forever! Because science!

To that end, something as simple as braces is transhumanism. Artificial limbs and eyeglasses are transhumanism. It's just that, unlike most of the promises transhumanism makes, we've actually already got those.

On the more sci-fi end, transhumanism is also cryonic preservation so that at some point in the future scientists can discover the cure for whatever killed you, unthaw you, cure you, and then you can go on your merry way, futuring it up in the science.

Transhumanism is the ability to upload your brain into a computer and wile away the eons until the heat death of the universe.

Transhumanism is the ability to upload your brain into a computer on a space ship and explore the universe forever. I told you there'd be flying.

Transhumanism is the ability to genetically modify yourself so you can grow wings and fly in a more prosaic way.

Transhumanism promises that all of this is just around the corner.


In the 19th century, a French cartoonist was commissioned to show what things would be like at the end of the following century (nowish). He showed a room full of students with collanders on their heads getting their lessons transmitted directly to their brains via the electrical fluid.

As the twentieth century progressed and knowledge did the same, our dreams didn't really change. People still assumed that technology would increase human lifespans and make everything that was difficult easy. The promise was always fifty to one hundred years down the road, but soon, science will make it so you can know and do anything, even live forever. Until the middle of the twentieth century, the promise always seemed to be that all of this would happen by the end of the century.

Of course, by the time the 70s and 80s rolled around, the end of the century was a little too close for that to be plausible, so the end point for when science would turn to magic kept getting pushed forward. These days, the magic date seems to be 2045.

Sound a little like religion? Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, never jam today.


The common link in transhumanism, going back to the 19th century and the French cartoons I mentioned (how I wish I could find them), is that the transhumanists look at the wonderful discoveries made by science and assume that something truly wonderful is just over the horizon. It's far enough away that no one will be able to call them on it when their prediction doesn't work out, but close enough that most people alive today have a reasonable hope of living that long. They always assume that somehow the discoveries of today will lead to some discoveries that will make all our dreams come true... but they never specify what those discoveries will be, not even what they might look like. It's just a nebulous "something".

I really don't think anyone in the transhumanist movement is being deliberately deceptive. Well, perhaps some are milking it for profit, selling books and the like, but the vast majority are probably just engaging in wishful thinking and self-deception. They're just very hopeful that all the things that make life difficult will be magicked away by science. And I'm using "magic" deliberately here.

I think this self-deception and wishful thinking is illustrative of the religious impulse. We don't need to posit some ill-begotten motive or deliberate design to explain the origins of religion. All we need is the ability to imagine that things be not difficult, and the wish that it be so. The frailties of an evolved mind will fill in the blanks with rationalizations and generalizations as needed.

Somewhere in this playlist is an instructive lecture on transhumanism. I wish I could be more precise than a window of 20 hours of video, but it's been a few weeks since I watched them. I'm pretty sure it's in one of the first six, not the last four.


Oh, and here's the explanation for the photographs (as contrasted with the drawings) above. It's very difficult to do, but you can jump in the lotus position. Take a picture in mid-jump and you have the appearance of someone placidly meditating in mid-air. That photo's good because it shows someone who achieved that in the middle of the picture and two who rather badly failed, one at either end. You can see that they've jumped.

As for the dude sitting in mid-air with his hand resting on a cane above a square of carpet; that's a rather common trick. It's even more impressive when you see one man apparently sitting comfortably above the head of another. Either way the trick is the same; the carpet hides the base of the stand, the baggy clothes hide the seat, and the cane or bamboo staff is the connection between the two. Notice the baggy cloth of the individual sitting "in mid air". Notice the baggy sleeves of the man sitting on the street. Wouldn't it be nice if you could levitate? All you have to do is give the guy some money and he'll teach you how...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That Jedi Bullshit

Bioware's Jade Empire will be illustrative, I think. Like most of Bioware's RPGs, the game works with a morality system, the Open Palm vs the Closed Fist. Unfortunately, they explain it rather poorly at the beginning and you might not realize what the two are supposed to represent. They look an awful look like the Light Side/Dark Side options of Bioware's KoTOR games, and that's not really a coincidence. They're presented as simple moral options, good on the one side and bad on the other (and that's more or less what it boils down to), but the way of the closed fist is presented badly, as being about personal strength and challenging your station in life. Those both sound like good things, right? But it mostly comes down to being a massive jerk for personal gain.

What the two paths are really about is daoism. Daoism is all about following the dao, the path or way, about aligning yourself with the order of the universe, following the mandate of heaven1, putting yourself in harmony with the way things are supposed to be. This is the way of the open palm. The closed fist, we now see, when talking about turmoil and "challenging your station" means putting yourself in opposition to that harmony. Thus you create turmoil and chaos, which are opposed to the harmony of the dao. This reaches its dumbest expression with Bladed Thesis, a spirit of a teacher of the Closed Fist.

He asks you to look at a river and describe what you see. The correct answer is, "I see trees tearing and water churning at the rocks, and I see time destroying all of this because it is weak." That answer doesn't mesh with personal strength or just being evil. If you squint right it can look like opposition to the order of the universe... right? Because those natural changes are part of the dao and? No, it's just kind of stupid.

However, the expressions of the way of the closed fist as being in opposition to the dao and the open palm being in harmony with it reach their ultimate expression in the final choice of the game. [spoilers, highlight to reveal]You either restore the harmony destroyed by the emperors by freeing the water dragon, or you further disrupt the harmony by slaughtering her and taking her power for yourself.[/spoilers] The way of the closed fist is disharmony, and challenging your station means challenging the order of the cosmos. Daoism really does its job at keeping the peasants in their place. The game didn't really make it clear at the time, but it really was espousing daoism, harmony with the way of things.

And so does Star Wars. And here's what I actually want to talk about: what is the Jedi Religion? This isn't just pontificating over some fictional philosophy; thousands of people follow the Jedi religion in reality, or claim to, and of course it's based on real religions that millions definitely follow.

A lot of people don't really seem to get what Lucas was trying to put together with his philosophy. Perhaps the greatest confusion was over the prophecy Anakin was supposed to be fulfilling in the prequel trilogy, which said that he would bring balance to the force. A lot of people thought that the end of the third movie was him bringing balance to the force by reducing the light side followers to a bare handful in equality with the bare handful of dark side followers. However, that's not the balance Lucas meant; he was talking about being in balance with the will of the Force (the dao), being in harmony with the order of the cosmos. in Lucas's cosmology, the Sith, the followers of the dark side, are out of harmony; the dark side is opposition to the harmony of the universe. The light side, by contrast, is all about aligning yourself with the harmony of the cosmos and allowing it to act through you. So Anakin didn't fulfill the prophecy until the end of Return of the Jedi when he killed the emperor, turned to the light, and then died; having eliminated the Sith, he had eliminated the imbalance in the force. He had restored harmony.

We also see daoism in the disdain for passion. The Jedi remove all emotion; they meditate and bring themselves in peaceful harmony with the force.
There is no emotion... There is peace.
There is no ignorance... There is knowledge.
There is no passion... There is Serenity.
There is no chaos... There is harmony.
There is no death... There is the Force.

The Sith revel in passions, focusing on, channeling, encouraging strong emotions: hatred, anger, fear, love.

Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.
Through passion, I gain Strength.
Through strength, I gain Power.
Through power, I gain Victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.

Wait, love? What? Yeah, Lucas thinks love and marriage are bad, and that peace and harmony cannot be gained if you fall in love. Love, like other passions, leads to disharmony. Jedi are free to bang, but not to love. Anakin's fall to the dark side was precipitated by falling in love with Padme. He became a slave to passion, and thus disharmony.

Daoism, like Buddhism, believes passion to be an impediment to achieving oneness with the cosmos, as Stephen Sawyer puts it,

What is essential to this state is that the Taoists are removing the false constructs of desire, prejudice and passion, and in this way integrating the forces within the body. It is the Taoists' goal to accomplish "oneness" throughout the body, mind and spirit. Thus at this stage they are en route to realizing the "one" within the self.

At the end of the day, the Jedi religion is just Space Daoism and, like all religions. It's based on faith. Faith is nothing more than a broken epistemology, a bad way of knowing things. It leads to false beliefs. Jedi, space daoism, is as unconnected with reality as any other religion. Like Christianity and Islam, it simply fails as a way of connecting with the world. Even worse, it fails at connecting even with the fictional world of Star Wars. Perhaps the most damning indictment of Lucas's philosophy is the Star Wars Extended Universe, the collection of novels, cartoons, comics, and video games that others have written for the Star Wars franchise.

Perhaps Lucas should have exerted more control over the EU, since the many authors who explored his fictional reality were more than happy to also explore the consequences of the Jedi philosophy. One of the things they realized was that the philosophy is ultimately incoherent. The Jedi and Sith philosophies are absolutely opposed, yet both allow you to control the Force, which is supposed to be the very substance of the cosmos... if the essence of harmony itself can be controlled by deliberately invoking disharmony, there must be something wrong with the philosophy. I believe this reaches its apotheosis with Knights of the Old Republic II, which manages simultaneously to deconstruct computer role playing games at the same time it picks apart Lucas's crackpot religion.

The game, despite being rushed and put on shelves incomplete, is an excellent and absorbing game. Perhaps its best feature is that it points out that Lucas's philosophy makes no damn sense and simply does not work, even in the framework of his fictional universe. It's bad enough that supernaturalism is incoherent, but Space Daoism is incoherent even when the very fabric of reality has been defined around it.

1 - The Chinese word "Tian" or "T'ien" is usually translated as "heaven", but it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes it's heavenly worlds (Buddhism) and sometimes it's a god or gods, and sometimes it's the cosmos or blue sky,as opposed to the earthly realm, (daoism). It serves as a higher realm/being/perfect way and provides the order to the world and divine mandates in almost all cases.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Kind of Atheist Are You?

A team of researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has completed some preliminary research into the nature of the Nones.

One of the fastest growing groups in the United States, the nones are those who put themselves down as having no religion on surveys. One popular statistic is the "thirty under thirty", referring to the fact that the younger you are, the more likely you are to have no religious affiliation, as demonstrated by Pew Research. As you can see by following the link, roughly 30% of those aged 18-29 (the Millennials) have no religious affiliation. Just as important, they aren't looking for one. This is one of many reasons why Dan Dennett said at Imagine No Religion 3 that evangelical christianity is in the midst of a serious crisis in the US, and that within a generation will have collapsed and/or transformed drastically.

However, a question remains: who exactly are the nones?

Not quite, but I like her style. If you're not at work, I recommend you do a quick search for "satanic nun".

Getting non-believers to agree on who and what they are is... difficult. There are so many damned labels: freethinker, atheist, agnostic, humanist, apatheist, antitheist, skeptic, humanistic freethinker, Bright, and more. And they don't even all agree on what the labels even mean. Go on, ask a group of atheists whether being an atheist means you believe there is no god. Bring a chair and some popcorn; you'll be there for a while, as they throw around labels like "dictionary atheist" and "dogmatic antireligionist".

So these researchers did what they admit is preliminary research to try and get the rather monolithic "none" or "no religion" tickbox to be a bit more nuanced. They hope this can form the basis for further research, elucidating further characteristics, further subtypes. I also don't see any indicators here as to race, gender, sexuality, or parents' religion. Then again, this was only an interview of 59 people. Hence the label "preliminary". They identified six kinds of atheists. Follow the link above for more complete descriptions, but here's my brief synopsis:

  • Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic (IAA) - A reader, a debater, a discusser. Primarily engaged in atheism as an intellectual exercise; continues own education through a variety of formats and seeks out others who do the same.
  • Activist (AAA) - More socially pro-active than the IAA. Seeks out other social agendas, such as feminism or anti-racism (list not exclusive), and acts socially and politically. Such acts can range from educating friends and acquaintances, petitioning, boycotting, marching, or promoting legal action.
  • Seeker Agnostic (SA) - Embraces scientific, spiritual, ideological, and epistemological uncertainty. Aware of the limitations of methods of knowledge and experience, deliberately seeks out both for fulfillment and pleasure. Values the opinion and experience of religious, spiritual, and antitheist positions without holding to them.
  • Anti-Theist - What may be viewed as the "aggressive atheist", sometimes attacked as the "dogmatic atheist". Views religion as fallacious, outdated, and detrimental. Some seek to undermine, weaken, or fight institutions and standards of religions through social and political activism, some through individual discussion and debate.
  • Non-Theist - Apathetic or disinterested in religion. Does not concern hirself with religious opinions, statements, or discussions. Is not concerned with the religious, agnostic, or antireligious views or positions. Doesn't seek out further information.
  • Ritual Atheist/Agnostic - Unbelievers, open about it, who see utility in tradition and ritual. Religious practices and spaces aren't paths to perfection or enlightenment, but to human flourishing and happiness on earth. May attend ceremonies, may express respect for symbolism and tradition. Often confused with "spiritual", called "An atheist but...". Likely to identify as a cultural or racial member of a religious group while disavowing belief, ie. a non-practicing Jew.

It depends on how I'm feeling, but I'm mostly an Activist, who when lazy falls back on Intellectual, but my basic opinions are those of the Anti-theist. How about you? And where do you think this kind of research should be aimed?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Science is a Hologram

A hologram is a really cool thing where you can produce a three dimensional image. It's not just a two-dimensional representation of a 3D image, the image actually is 3D. When you move around it, you get the parallax effect of different elements passing in front of and behind it.

Another aspect of a hologram, and the one more important to my analogy is that each piece of the holographic image actually contains the entire image. Look at just a small part of the hologram and you'll see the same picture, but at worse resolution (like zooming in on a picture and seeing more pixels). If you include more elements of the hologram, the picture resolution improves.

Every piece of scientific research improves the whole picture. It may be hard to see it, but a lepidopterist publishing a paper on the genitalia of the female Large Chequered Skipper is actually advancing the cause of all science. The paper improves knowledge of the Large Chequered Skipper biology, of the biology of all hesperiidae, of all lepidoptera, of all insects, of all animals, of all life; it improves the knowledge of the evolution of genitalia, of butterflies, of insects, of animals; it improves the knowledge of chemistry and physics; it improves the study of biology, of science. At all levels, in increasingly small ways, every bit of study improves our knowledge and understanding of increasingly broad methods.

In the other direction, each act of science contains the whole of science. The scientific method is iterations of1:

  1. Define a question
  2. Gather information and resources (observe)
  3. Form an explanatory hypothesis
  4. Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
  5. Analyze the data
  6. Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
  7. Publish results
  8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

And every time someone goes out and sciences, they're performing part of that process. Each bit of science contains in itself the behavior of the whole institution, the epistemology of the verfication of observable knowledge and the construction of theories therefrom. Every piece contains the whole, and every piece is part of the whole. Science is a hologram.

1 - Stolen, without shame, from wikipedia.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Cat, The Cat, and the Ghost Cat

This is my cat.

She is the best cat. She is the most awesome and wonderful and pretty cat. No other cat will ever be as awesome or wonderful or pretty. She is the best cat.

This is my cat.

She is the best cat. She is the most awesome and wonderful and pretty cat. No other cat will ever be as awesome or wonderful or pretty. She is the best cat.

This is my ghost cat.

She is the best cat. She is the most awesome and wonderful and pretty cat. No other cat will ever be as awesome or wonderful or pretty. She is everywhere all at once and is the essence of cat. She is the best cat.

This is what people sound like when they talk about the trinity. Seriously, it's a stupid concept.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Atheist at a Megachurch

Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, had a conversation with a pastor at a megachurch. It's a nice little talk, about half an hour. Worth your time.

At the end the pastor asks what it would take to get Hemant to believe and Hemant basically replies that it would be nothing less than a personal revelation. Others' miracles or revelations, nor scripture just don't cut it. The pastor then tells the audience, paraphrased, "Hemant's not asking you to pray for him, but if that's what you want to do, then that's what you should pray for." I don't really understand why their god needs for them to pray before he understands that that's what Hemant would need, after all Hemant just said that, and I thought we were talking about a superior being of some kind? Whatever; that's not actually what I want to talk about.

I disagree with Hemant. I don't think that personal revelation would cut it. Even if I had the sort of joyous, numinous, soul-shatteringly awesome revelation of personal contact with the almighty... that wouldn't be good enough. Simply put, consistency demands that I not accept that as evidence of the divine. It's not good enough for me if someone else has that experience, and I can't claim that they have not, so it can't be good enough for me that I have that experience. Even though I would have experienced something amazing, it wouldn't count as evidence. Because it's not evident; it's not verifiable, it can't be checked, it can't be examined in any way. That's what "evidence" means, "that which is seen". It means "out in the open". That's why personal revelations, whatever they are and whoever receives and whoever they may be from, simply don't count as evidence. Since I don't accept such from other people as evidence for their deities, I couldn't accept it even if it was my own experience, rather than someone else's. It's important to me that I be consistent in my beliefs and behaviors; my desire for personal integrity means that if I were to be visited by the holy spirit and fall to me knees in awe... I would have to get up and walk away saying, "That was incredible, but it's not good enough."

And I think that may be why atheism can be such a bitter pill for the faithful to swallow. Part of the reason, anyway. It's because they relate one of the most amazing, wonderful, defining experiences of their life, and my response is to shrug and say "That means nothing. It may be very meaningful to you, but it's worthless to me." I don't, and wouldn't, say exactly that, but that's what my position boils down to. One of the central dogmas of any religion, even a semiatheist one like Buddhism, is that that wonderful experience is the ... hell, it's not merely the central dogma, I think it may be the defining fact. The ecstasy of worship why people come back, it's why they believe. The rest of it is just the floating rationalizations, the political dander, the shell of ritual. That ecstasy is what makes religion convincing. They're directly experiencing the divine.

Or so they believe. Some research may indicate that it's all in your head, a heightened emotional response triggered by religious stimulation. To put it another way, a braingasm. Even if that's completely off base, though, even if that research is shown to be a complete misinterpretation, there's still no evidence to indicate that the ecstasy of worship is in any way related to an extant being. It's simply not evidence of anything beyond the fact that some people experience that response to worship. And it wouldn't be evidence even if it happened to me.

So what would it take for me? I don't know for sure. What I do know is that, AntiCitizenX put it on Youtube, if an object exists, then there is some action A that would yield some result B where A wouldn't result in B if that object did not exist. So to convince me your god exists you would have to first define action A, show how your god's existence would result in B (whatever B is), and prove that B wouldn't result from some other cause. If B could result from another cause, you'd have to show first how often, so that could be taken into account, like taring a scale. In short, if your god exists, you'll have the burden of proof to demonstrate that some event is best explained only by your god. Otherwise...

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Google Science

At Google Science, we do what we must because we can.

What does Google have in common with Aperture Science? Bear with me here, I'm not talking about this part of Aperture:

Okay, actually, I am. Ignoring the hideously malformed ethics of what was actually common among ... well, let's not go into it, but let's just say that once upon a time some people thought it was okay to inject other people with syphilis, and then watch them and their families slowly die. For science!

But that's not what I want to accuse Google of. They've not been perfect, but it seems that Google actually does want to live up to the company motto of "Don't Be Evil."

So instead I want to associate Google with the following, clearly related, but without the outright corporate villainy:

I'll be honest, we're just throwing science at a wall here to see what sticks; no idea what it'll do. Probably nothing. Best case scenario: you might get some super powers.

I think this is Google's actual strategy in a lot of cases. Just come up with something and throw it out there, let the world play with it and come up with things to do, ways to use it, ways to break it. This is explicitly what they're doing with Google Glass. They've developed the functionality, and now they've thrown it out there to let people come up with uses and apps. After all, there are a few thousand people at Google, but there are billions of people in the world. They'll play with it and come up with stuff Google never could've.

They're doing the same thing, I think, with Google+. They've rolled out a new social tool and they're letting people use it while they experiment with it, find out what works and what doesn't, what people love and hate, and so on. It's a bit rough on the users (there are some things about it I despise; that frickin' header...), but constantly tinkering with it means that it can evolve rapidly and respond to the users in a way that facebook simply doesn't. That sort of thing, when implemented well, can make the best sort of stuff. In the end... that's science. Or at least, that's a critical component of science.

Peer review is the social network/crowdsourcing of science. You put your ideas out in public and the public beats the everlovin' crap out of them. The end result is that only good ideas thrive. Everything else falls by the wayside. In the last few centuries, science has climbed from height to height; let's see how this works for Aperture Google.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Apologies Part 2

No, this hasn't been a really terrible time for apologies. No more so than usual, anyway.

However, there've been some other apologies out there.

This one is from Exodus International. EI takes its name from the Bible, which should tell you a lot. It won't tell you what they're apologizing for, because the Bible is full of vile monstrosity from end to end. What in particular does EI have to apologize for? Being vile and monstrous specifically toward gays. EI was a group that promised to pray the gay away. Now they realize that that doesn't work and just fills people with self-loathing such that they're more likely to kill themselves.

Oh, wait, that doesn't seem to be what they're saying...

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

The author, president of Exodus International Alan Chambers, makes it clear that in spite of his own closeted homosexuality, his empathy for his fellows is strictly limited.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.
I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.

And of course, it's hard to see that he's really serious when he opens his apology proper by talking about the instances of misconduct, rather than the deliberate, intentional harm his organization caused in the name of "curing" homosexuality.

In the end, I don't doubt the sincerity of his apology, but it doesn't seem like he's really doing it for the right reasons. I'm just glad EI is no more.

In a more direct follow-up to the first part, we have an apology from Ron Lindsay.

It has been a few weeks since I have said anything in public about the controversy over my remarks at the Women in Secularism 2 conference. As CFI announced via Twitter, this pause was to enable the board to have time to consider the matter. The board has issued its statement. It is now an appropriate time for me to make some remarks.

I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk. I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk. From the letters sent to me and the board, I have a better understanding of the objections to the talk.

I am also sorry that my talk and my actions subjected my colleagues and the organization to which I am devoted to criticism.

Please accept my apologies.

This is definitely better than the piece of crap CFI released. Even though he avoids specifics, at least it's not a notpology. To quote pretty much everyone else who's looked at this, "It's a good start." Now how about a commitment to Women in Secularism 3?

Neither of these apologies seems as full-hearted or as comprehending as Mike Krahulik's or Kickstarter's. They both seem to really miss the point. Chambers basically promises to stop telling people they're going to hell, and Lindsay... just apologizes, though at least he didn't say "I'm sorry you felt bad" and in fact apologized for fucking up.

Is definite action required for an apology? Strictly speaking, no, but it's what we call proof. Kickstarter took action and made a donation. Mike Krahulik made a $20,000 donation. Chambers apologized and shuttered EI. Lindsay just apologized. I'm glad EI is done for, but I'm still waiting on Lindsay and CFI to take the next step.