Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Farewell to the Agnostic Popular Front

I'm shutting down the APF blog, for now, for very good reasons . I was never much of an agnostic, none too popular, and never part of a front. Really, I just liked the sound of the name, as an homage to a certain punk band and a certain band of Judean revolutionaries.

If you're wondering whether I've been run off by vicious trolls, fear not! Soon I'll be blogging under a new name and on a new platform. Details forthcoming later this week.

[Later that week...]

I have moved to my new home online at

It will be way more exciting than this old blog, because I'm way more excited about it. Also, I'll have a variety of interesting people off of which to bounce various uninteresting ideas. Not to mention that Wordpress totally kicks ass. Hope to see you over there!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bible belt redux, redux

Map data 2010, via NYT

In light of the Romney campaign's most recent attempt to shoot itself in the foot (after putting its foot firmly in its mouth) we have these income tax data nicely illustrated for us by the New York Times. Does this map remind you of anything you might have seen before?

Granted the overlap isn't nearly perfect, but either way you've got pretty much of the Old South in there, and most importantly, Florida. Does Romney think he can win without Florida?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Updated comment policy

It's been a long time since I've had to deal with an influx of commenters from off-site, so here are the updated rules:

1) Don't be a dick. Attack ideas, not people.

2) No one who has earned an Order of the Molly is allowed to comment under that name.

3) No one calling themselves Justicar or Integralmath is allowed to comment under that name.

4) Real names are vastly more likely to get published. Own your shit.

5) Rules 2-4 exist to protect Rule 1. You don't have to like it.

6) All comments are moderated. If you write something insulting, or boring, or fail to back up claims with facts, your comment might get posted, but don't count on it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#AtheismPlus vs. #Skepticism

The founders of A+ have claimed that skepticism will be one of their foundational principles. Let's look at what happens when one of the A+ advocates is challenged to provide facts to back up their paranoid claims:

What I love about this exchange is how fully it recapitulates so many of my experiences talking to A-plussers. 

Me: I am skeptical about some of your claims.
Them: What, you doubt that [given form of bigotry] is real?
Me: No, just this one hyperbolic claim that you made, right here.

Wow, just wow. This right here is why some skeptics doubt whether plussers are a plus to our movement.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Fishbait — Anti-Darwin Fish

It's been awhile since I've posted a fish, but this one was too good to pass up.

Cannot say that I really blame Christians for defacing our logos defacing their Logos. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Penultimate post on #AtheismPlus

Okay, yeah, so yesterday's post was a bit inflammatory and I get why some of you think it's just stirring the proverbial shit-pot. What possible point can there be in building a blacklist like that, complete with a mix of allegations spanning the entire spectrum from truth to half-truth to defamation?

Here's the point: Exclusionism is at the heart of the A+ movement. The most fundamental idea of A+ is to purge themselves of misogynists, racists, and other such privilege defenders and deniers, so as to allow others to be more comfortably included. I do not completely disagree with this approach. Some people are so irretrievably damaged (by circumstances quite beyond their control) that their personality has been warped beyond the possibility of learning to empathize with the Other. If someone comes into our spaces using sexist or racist or ableist slurs, we are justified in taking them out. However, we are also justified in talking them down, and I'd much prefer trying that approach first. Sometimes, there is a fundamental misunderstanding that just needs a bit of clearing up.

This latter approach doesn't seem to be much of a live option for the leaders of A+, who are so quick to detect wrongdoing (mostly sexism) that yesterday's list consists primarily of people who are on record for equality of the sexes, but have somehow failed to tow the line on some particular finer point of feminist theory or else failed to agree completely with the hard core of either FtB or Skepchick. In the mind of A+, disagreement with the leadership implies disagreement with their goals and values, which in turn implies some form of incurable bigotry or hatred.

Let me be perfectly clear on this: You can agree wholeheartedly with the goals and values of A+ while disagreeing with the leadership and their execution of the mission. This is so obvious that I shouldn't have to create an analogy, but just for the sake of clarity, consider this: The passengers on the Titanic all agreed with the clearly stated goals and destination of that voyage, but at some point they came to have legitimate doubts about those in charge of the ship.