Wednesday 6 July 2016

The Post-Factual World

A couple of days ago, a long time Twitter friend, and previous guest blogger, @KarenKTS11 tweeted a post, on the logic, or lack thereof, which some people seem to possess, and how facts seem to matter little nowadays. It was such a well written piece, I asked Karen if I could share it here. It doesn't really need any comment from me, as it pretty much sums up everything to a tee. And so, I'll leave you in the capable hands of Karen..


One of the biggest issues I think Brexit has revealed is that people no longer accept facts. For instance, whilst discussing the referendum with people online, a number brought up the possible admission of Turkey to the EU. I pointed out that the UK have a veto over new members, in other words even if all the other countries voted to admit Turkey, we would still have the power to reject them. They couldn't join without our consent. This is a fact that is a matter of public record and easy to check, but people simply refused to believe it. This is part of a worrying larger pattern of ignoring facts, which encompasses amongst other things creationism, climate change denial, anti-vaxxers and even genuine flat-earthers.

I think perhaps we have become too tolerant, we no longer stringently defend facts as we should. Part of this is demonstrated by broadcasters who have decided that 'balance' means always showing two sides to the story. When the story in question is politics then clearly that approach is justified. However not all statements require someone to dispute them. If something is a fact, that should be stated. If opposite opinions are shown, they should not be given equal weight, it should be made crystal clear that that opinion is only a reflection of 5% of scientists, for instance.

This post-factualism also ties in to the apparent dislike and distrust of experts. When did expert become a dirty word? As I have tweeted in the past, if I need a brain operation I want it to be conducted by a neurosurgeon, not someone with a St John's Ambulance certificate. If my car needs mending I would rather a mechanic fix it than a tailor. If there's a European football tournament, rather than choose 11 men from the local park I would rather.....oh okay, scrub that last example. ;-)

The reason we call people experts is because they know what they're talking about, they've had training and experience. Of course some experts have an agenda, no one is denying that. If someone employed by a tobacco company suddenly declares cigarettes are not bad for your health, then I doubt whether people would give that much credence. Whereas the medical profession as a body, for example, spend their time taking care of patients and have no reason to lie about the deleterious effects of smoking. Besides which we have to trust some people, some time. Not everything in the world is a conspiracy. I am not suggesting we accept things blindly, but if the vast majority of experts agree on something, then the chances are they are right. Someone said to me this week that "we don't have to take expert's advice." Well of course that is true, but if your mechanic tells you your car is dangerous and you choose to ignore them and it blows up, killing your nearest and dearest, that is hardly the experts fault.

Anti-vaxxers are a prime example of the refusal to accept facts. Now even though I fully support vaccination, I don't think it is unreasonable for people to perhaps have concerns about one vaccine or another for some reason. Some people are simply naturally very cautious or very anxious and an initial scare story continues to resonate with them, even after it is entirely and completely disproven. What is unreasonable however is to completely deny the validity of the concept of vaccination. Vaccination works. That is a fact. For example Polio and smallpox have been eradicated in the western world (and worldwide in the case of smallpox) by the use of vaccines. In the early 1950s there were approximately 35,000 cases of polio each year in the US. (In 1952 there were 58,000) In 1957 there were 2,500 and by 1965 only 61 cases. What happened between 1952 and 1957 to reduce those numbers so rapidly? In 1955 the polio vaccine was introduced. There are mountains of evidence over a period of 220 years that demonstrate that vaccination works. It is simply not reasonable to choose to disbelieve it. Some people have taken to the anti-vax lobby so strongly that it has become almost a religion. If this kind of thing goes unchecked we are going to end up back in the dark ages of superstition and rumour replacing actual scientific knowledge.

I think a large part of the reason people distrust facts nowadays is because we are so accustomed to our politicians and newspapers blatantly lying to us. We no longer know who we can trust. We have become so used to lies being presented as facts and facts being presented as lies, that we no longer have the ability to recognise a fact. More than that, we seem to doubt the very existence of facts. We don't understand that not every piece of information is up for negotiation. We fail entirely to grasp the nature of facts.

My thanks to Karen, who you can follow on Twitter @KarenKTS11 (and I recommend you do., she's positively lovely!). You can also read Karen's first guest post HERE.

Friday 1 July 2016

An Unusual Week

It's been an unusual week, to say the least..!

Regular followers and readers have probably noticed a slight increase in my Twitter "popularity" (for want of a better word).

It started off with a response to an inane tweet, by resident Talking Satsuma with Eyes, Donald Trump, who tweeted..

As I occasionally do, I slung one of my barbed insults at the pumpkin-faced arse-cockle. Within a couple of hours I was quietly pleased that it had around 60 retweets….
What happened next was surreal, to say the least.. I don't know how it happened, whether someone famous retweeted it, or it grew organically, but over the past week, it literally exploded, with over 6000 retweets and 7500 "likes" to date. I've had something in the region of 3000 mentions on Twitter (replying to those have been fun!), it's part of a post with 100,000 Facebook likes, and it seems to have become a new moniker for the Edam-faced arse-badger.
Then, I became part of a meme of insults, whilst inexplicably changing nationality to Scottish, which I’m not, but given the state of British politics, I bloody well wish I was…
File 02-07-2016, 01 19 55
Ok, so that in and of itself was quite weird enough. Then someone created a poster (below) in the style of the Sheppard Fairey created "Hope" poster which rose to huge popularity during the Obama campaign.
Shitgibbon FINAL
And this is where it just keeps getting stranger.. The creator of said poster was Jay Lender, who, I later learned was a writer and director for SpongeBob SquarePants.
Jay then set up a CafePress account, selling "Cheeto-Faced, Ferret Wearing Shitgibbon" merchandise, a percentage of which would be coming my way. I decided, given the hateful rhetoric of the weasel-haired talking testicle, that I would donate 50% of my earnings to the victims of the Orlando shooting, which took place earlier in June. All well and good, until CafePress promptly shut us down, for alleged "trademark violation".
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As it transpires, this worked out rather well. Many of you may have heard of  ‘The Streisand Effect’; the theory by which the more one pisses and moans about something, the more publicity it gains. And, again, here's where my week got even more bizarre. We were contacted by Mike Masnick, who offered to write an article on the takedown. You can read the full article HERE. What I didn't realise at the time is that Mike runs a hugely successful website dedicated for ludicrous takedowns, abuses of power etc. The publication of the article gave "Cheeto-Faced, Ferret Wearing Shitgibbon" the aforementioned Streisand Effect! Oh, and if you have heard of Mike Masnick, not only does he have a very successful website, he also coined the term "The Streisand Effect" in the first place! Yeah.. I told you it had been a weird week!
File 02-07-2016, 01 38 08
Now, with over 1.5 MILLION impressions on Twitter alone, one silly tweet, directed at an even sillier little man, had gone positively stratospheric. It's been featured on USA Today, Perez Hilton (not going to be shouting that from the rooftops!),, BarStool Sports, On Sizzle, Crooks and Liars, Reverb Press, and God only knows where else. As I said.. Streisand Effect demonstrated beautifully, and ironically with the creator of said term. I’ve gained 1300 new follwers from this, 82 directly from the tweet; the rest from my profile. Hell, some even bought the domain name below (God only knows who, or why!)
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2016-07-01 (3)
I'm not arrogant enough to think this qualifies me as famous, or anything even remotely resembling so. By next week, it will "chip paper"; yesterday's news, and I'll be able to claw back some of the sanity I used to possess, albeit rather lacking in the first place.
I like words. I like playing with them, their etymology, language and trying to express myself in as colourful manner as possible. I created "Tiny Fingered, Cheeto-Faced, Ferret Wearing Shitgibbon"; something I won't forget for a long time. However, it would be disingenuous of me to claim sole credit. Anyone can play with words, and when it comes creating a portmanteau, it's a fairly safe bet that what you thought was a highly original insult had, in all probability, been used before. And it is so with the term, "shitgibbon", which I genuinely thought I'd created myself. Whilst I have no idea who first coined the expression, I have, subsequently found it dating back to around 2011, although I've no idea of it's popularity, either then, or now. It would be easy to claim I had created it, as my use of the term is currently dominating Google searches, but it wouldn't be strictly true (much as I thought it was). All I can say to the person who first used it is, strange minds think alike, and I hope you aren't offended or annoyed that I appear, at face value, to have swiped your expression.
The shop is BACK, and selling "Cheeto-Faced, Ferret Wearing, Shitgibbon" stuff.. Hell, I've even bought a mug for myself, to remember that time I was famous for a week.. And buying something from, in essence, yourself, of which you'll get a chunk of cash, is a fair summation of my entire week. Surreal as all buggery! Stuff is selling quite well, I believe, so if you fancy something, grab it now, because come November, Trumpty Dumpty will be an back to being insignificant arse-cockle on the scrotum of humanity, and you'll own something with the face of an arsehole who tried to be President. If you fancy some Shitgibbon swag, you can visit our store HERE. (Remember, 50% of my cut goes to charity, so I’m not here to make a profit.. I’d like to think that LOVE Trumps HATE)
UPDATE Along with my donation, Jay Lender, creator of the magnificent poster has advised me that he will also be donating 50% of his cash; in his case to U.S. Military Service Veterans., so get buying!
And perhaps there is the strangest thing of all.. Never, in a million years, would I have imagined buying a mug, with the face of a xenophobic, racist, deeply unpleasant, egotistical, tangerine-faced lunatic emblazoned on the side.
As I said.. It's been a funny ol' week..!
My sincere thanks to Mike Masnick (@MMasnick), Jay Lender (@JayLender1), everyone who's bought our tat, anyone who retweeted it (thanks for making my mentions bloody explode!), and to anyone who just got a giggle out of it.
And I’m still not Scottish….!
Follow Mike Masnick @MMasnick
Follow Jay Lender @JayLender1
Read the CafePress story HERE
Buy our stuff HERE
And, if you’re completely mad, and not following me aleady, I’m @MetalOllie aka Hamfisted Bun Vendor
Special Thanks to Donald Trump (@RealDonaldTrump) for being a complete and utter #Shitgibbon
No idea who you are, but you’re nuts! Thank you!!
Lastly, and completely off-topic, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to the memory of Anton Yelchin.. A warm, funny, beautiful young man, with SO much potential, taken from us, cruelly and far too soon. You will be deeply missed,  I never knew you, nor did I meet you, but I know you had a wicked sense of humour, and were a joy to be around. Rest in Peace… x
2016-06-20 00.35.42

Anton Yelchin

3rd March 1989 – 19th June 2016

Set Course to Eternity…