30 January, 2009

The Big Dud - Refuted

I came across this piece of creationist dribble which brings into question the person's knowledge of the scientific methods and principles used today. Now, I normally skip over this ignorant crap, but I am feeling inspired right now. For reasons involving my banishment from Deviantart and the fact that creationists likes to censor any and all dissent, I am playing it safe and writing this here out of the reach of creationist charlatans who are so fond of abusing power.

So let's start with the opening paragraph.

"What if I told you that everyone alive today, everything in the world, and even the universe as we know it, is the result of a giant explosion in space millions(or billions) of years ago? If you said "that sounds a lot like the Big Bang theory"-you would be correct. This is the stuff that fairy tales are made of;but sadly this tall tale is presented as unquestionable concrete fact. Many many people actually believe that they are only here because at some point in time..an unknown amount of material decided to explode."

Oh dear, not a very good start here. See, the most common misconception about the Big Bang theory is that it was an explosion. It was not an explosion, since there were no constraints of the fabric of space and time in which anything could have exploded. Rather, the Big Bang (A term coined by a Steady-State Universe advocate.) was most likely a rapid expansion of the space and time fabric from a singularity, and all the matter in the universe expanded with it, like the dots on an inflating balloon.

Another set of misconceptions presented here are that theories are presented as concrete fact and that theories are stuff made out fairy tales. This stems from the gross ignorance of what the term "theory" really means in a scientific context. Theories are a model of explanations, backed by reproducable, empirical and falsifiable evidence, that explain a natural phenomena. Although theories are not 100% accurate, (Gravity wasn't properly understood until Einstein came along, but even before then, Newton's theories were accepted. It is very likely that more data could reveal more about gravity in the future that supercedes, in terms of detail and accuracy, Einstein's theory of gravity.) they are the most powerful form of proof in science. In this case, the Big Bang theory is more than the stuff of fairytales ; It does not explain the origin of the universe. What it does is that it describes and explain what was most likely to have happened in the instant since the event itself. (T = 1 planck second and onwards.) It is backed by mountains of evidence, like the cosmic background radiation, the Hubble-type expansions seen in the redshifts of distant objects, or the prediction of homogeny and isotropy, which are made from the theory, being confirmed by stringent tests.

To dismiss such a theory without any significant or valid basis is inexcuseably ignorant.

"And then we have the ones who attempt to add God to the equation. They say the all-mighty Creator of the universe used the Big Bang to sort of get things started-and then naturally evolution took over from there. Right? Uh, no. If God did use a giant explosion to kick start His creation...then why doesn't the Bible just say so? The account of creation is written very straight forward in a step-by-step process. God speaks/something happens. It's impossible to mistake a single day in the Bible for millions of years, unless you intentionally want it to be so."

Unfortunately for you, mixing religious beliefs into scientific theory is breaking the fundamental philosophy of science ; That science cannot and will not make any comment on the supernatural. It also should be mentioned that the universe is extremely hostile to life as we know it. If we were to combine the weight of every living being on this planet, it would just barely be a tiny fraction of the Earth's entire mass, divide that fraction further by a thousand and you get the fraction of mass in our solar system that is living. If we drop a naked man onto any randomly picked place on earth, 90% of the time, he will be dead within minutes due to extreme temperatures, drowning, predation et cetera.

If you really want to argue, as fact, for the literal interpretation of the bible's creation story. You will have to find evidence that the world as we know it, is no more than 4400 years old, as well as find valid refutation for the mountains of evidence that currently show that our planet and the universe is 4.6 and 13.73 ± 0.12 billion years old respectively. Otherwise, your story of creation can be dismissed as fantasy without needing any evidence.

"Both the Big Bang and evolution(as in molecules-to-man) cannot actually be repeated, tested, or observed in action."

You really should acquaint yourself with the observed instances of speciation before you make a bold and ignorant claim like that. Evolution has been observed many times with fruit flies, and even initiated by us humans via farming and domestication. It is well documented, tested, observed and reproduced.

If you are actually talking about the origin of life, you should read up on abiogenesis before you go on. Abiogenesis is a chemical phenomena, not a biological one, and it explains how life might have arisen from non-living organic molecules.

"The Bible says the world was originally created perfect and that violence, disease, and bloodshed came later after the fall of man. The Big Bang puts death, disease, and bloodshed, untold eons before humans ever appeared on this planet."

I have trouble trying to appraise the point you are trying to make with this one. Where exactly are you going with this?

"But both the Big Bang and evolution are fully supported by a lot of Christians.

The fact is, the Big Bang takes away God's power by severely reducing His involvement in creation to nothing more then flipping a switch. Afterwards time and chance take over from there."

That is because science and religion are not mutually exclusive ideas, you can be a christian and a scientist as long as you don't try to mix the two. Again, science says nothing about the existence or nature of a supernatural being such as a god.

"Assuming that God actually did use the Big Bang to create the universe and all life, then instead of And God said... and it was there fully formed and working-we now have to wait around for millions of years while everything somehow "evolves" into being."

No, "we" don't. We are all already here.

"Which brings up the obvious questions like:"

Ahh, the petitio principii fallacy. It is a fallacy because it assumes a set of arguments based on a premise, but I will answer them.

:bulletblue:What happened before the Big Bang?"

Nobody knows for sure, however the current leading theory that might give insight into the origins of our universe is M-Theory.

":bulletblue:Where did all that "stuff" which exploded come from anyway?"

The origin of matter is a very hot topic amongst particle physics, mostly because the Higgs Mechanism, which explains why some particles have mass is currently missing the Higgs Boson ; It simply hasn't been discovered yet. That is why the Large Hadron Collider has been built in the first place. If you are talking about how matter formed, matter is formed when the universe cooled down enough so that the energy in our universe could condense into matter. (This takes place after the rapid inflation that occured at T = 10e−37 seconds.) To further back and discover the origin of energy, nobody knows.

":bulletblue:How exactly did this "stuff" floating around in space find other "stuff" that would work in just the right way?"

It's called the fundamental forces. The strong and gravitational forces work together through stellar nucleosynthesis to produce the heavier elements, the stars & planets, while the weak and electromagnetic forces help to create & mutate the elements, molecules and compounds we see today via radioactivity and chemical reactions.

":bulletblue:When does something blowing up create order and intelligence?"

This is a strawman fallacy at its finest as well as a gross oversimplification. Nobody is saying that blowing things up creates order and intelligence. There are thousands of natural procceses that are in place that have progressively worked towards bringing the universe to this point of self-aware order and complexity. You cannot afford to just ignore the intermediary proccesses. That's just sickeningly ignorant and intellectually dishonest.

":bulletblue:If God is all-powerful, then why does He require billions of years of random chance and accidents to create life?"

Those are your own words, nobody else's. Nobody but you are asserting this claim.

"Sorry, but the idea that we're all here as the result of a few trillion accidents all working together perfectly the first time is so ridiculous, that I don't even need a Bible to know it could never happen."

This is an appeal to ridicule fallacy, and the following video explains why this kind of argument is stupid and fallacious.

In conclusion, I would like to say that you are a sickeningly ignorant and intellectually dishonest imb├ęcile who would much rather use your questions to further your questionable agenda to misinform the masses just so they could turn to the same doctrine you follow. You make no efforts to do your own research and answer your questions, even if it may seem to contradict what you were brought up to believe in and you would much rather wallow in your own ignorance. You are the lowest of the low, the weakest link, and your argument is eviscerated. Have a good day.

26 January, 2009

Why I don't play the newer games.

Nearly a month ago, at New Years day, I was shopping for a good wireless USB laser mouse. I came across a computer supply store next to a video game store whose owner was kind enough to fix up my PSX a while back. He was quite amazed by how uninterested in the newer games I am compared to the ones released in the last decade. He asked this question which followed me around for days. 

"Don't you ever get bored of the old games? Why don't you play the newer games?"

While I did initially gave him the answer involving the rise of DRM that screw over legitimate customers. There is a lot more to it than that, which I will get into.

The biggest aspect I saw in games released nowadays is that they tend to be uncreative and homologous in design. Often when I see a new upcoming game release, I think that it is just a game from another franchise, just with this franchise's grille slapped all over it and with a graphics makeover. The biggest offenders I saw of this example is Fallout 3/Oblivion and Dead Space/System Shock 2. While I have no problems with a game franchise taking a successful formula from another and assimilating it into its own, it is very often done with very little consideration as to how the franchise's signature feature would translate into the new formulae. Sometimes, this would result in intrinsic gameplay elements turning into a clunky unnecessary gimmick.

There's even some franchises that are just plain generic, like Halo, that simply does a good job of repeating the same features other games of the same genre has while adding a couple of gimmicky new features that are done not out of genuine creativity, but because of creative laziness. You see the regenerating shield power in the Halo games? Well that is because the map designers are so inept, they couldn't even properly decide where the health pickups should be, if the bland level design in the campaign mode isn't telling enough.

Even within its own franchise, it seems that the people in charge of it aren't even trying any more to keep it fresh and interesting in each release. It could be due to a change of hands, like in the case of the System Shock and Painkiller series. (Bioshock is merely a graphical and mood upgrade to SS2 and Painkiller : Overdose is simply an expansion pack of the original, but with a half-demon and a lame collection of one-liners.) More often than not though, the companies who own the franchises just got lazy. Nintendo and EA Sports are the biggest offenders of them all, every single one of their franchises' current instalment is simply the previous instalment but with updated graphics, not-so-original new content and lame gimmicks slapped on top of it that add nothing to the overall gameplay experience. Some franchises, like the Sonic series, eventually and ultimately cocked itself up due to this. It's all a big sellout.

Speaking of which, why haven't the fad of movie-to-game adaptations gone extinct yet? So far, only two games, in a sea of sad pathetic attempts, has ever been successful in adapting a movie into a game, and that is Batman Returns for the SNES and that Final Fight game based on the horrible movie for the Neo Geo. Yet, we keep seeing game companies today attempting to translate movies to video games and failing because too much effort is spent perfecting that one gimmick that appeared in the movie without any consideration to the plot of the movie, the logic of the movie, or even making the game fun to play. The Matrix games are the prime example of poor movie to game translations. The reasons why Batman Returns is successful and the Matrix games failed are quite numerous, but to cite the biggest ones, Batman Returns did a really good balance between faithfulness to the movie plot and a solid gameplay mechanic while the Matrix games did not, Batman Returns made the franchise signature features a useful part of the gameplay (Batarang, knocking thugs' heads together etc.) while the Matrix games just slapped them on as a useless gimmick and while they both borrowed formulas from well-established gameplay archetypes, Batman Returns executed them very well while the Matrix games just cocked them up.

So, where am I going with this? You may ask. Well see, I noticed these problems popping up and becoming more prominent as the game industry matured and aged on. Even the FPS genre, which came a bit later than other genres of games to blossom into a beautiful rose of blood and guts, have already shown signs of creative decay. I remember the 8 & 16-bit era, and even the Playstation/Saturn/N64 era, how every other game is an A+ experience while most of the rest are pretty enjoyable even if they weren't the cream of the crop. You may think that I am putting on nostalgia glasses, but you know what? Fuck you, you're wrong. I am perfectly capable of telling whether or not a game has aged well. I have no problem in admitting that there are a lot of crappy games in that era, as long as it is recognized that they are greatly outnumbered by good games that have withstood the test of time.

So with the game industry slowly resigning its fate to creative bankruptcy and releasing games of mediocre quality and lazy design, one has to wonder how it became that way. However, with a brief primer on the history of video games, a picture starts to form in one's head that could tell them what had happened to cause it to degenerate so much. It's pretty simple, when Nintendo rebooted the industry with the NES or Famicom, everyone wanted in on it because it is like the promised land for aspiring programmers, but they kept in mind the importance of releasing a quality product. So they did for a while, some failed and died off, some took the world by storm and some even got lost in the zen of their own projects. That is all good, for us gamers at least. Ever wondered why the rivalry between Genesis/MD and SNES/Super Famicom owners was so intense? It is because both systems had so much awesome games, it was a neck-to-neck race of how many quality titles for each system we could add to our collection. Then some company made a game, it was a pretty mediocre one compared to previous instalments in terms of gameplay, but it was the first in the franchise to have unprecedented graphical features. The game took the world by storm, and the reaction was so positive that it forced the whole video gaming industry into the spotlight of mainstream entertainment. This can not be good, not only because it gave developers the false impression that they can make bad games and still turn a profit as long as it has a famous franchise label, but because it also left the door wide open to companies from other areas of the mainstream entertainment industry, companies who had no experience making, marketing and selling games and only cared about making a quick buck, to infest. (This is probably why movie to game adaptations still exist. You've seen what that did to the Atari-era video game industry.) This philosophy of turning a quick penny without consideration for customer satisfaction slowly took hold of the video game industry, slowly eating away at its integrity ; games began to suffer greatly from it. Then, it got to the point where companies feel justified in treating their customers like criminals, as seen by the ever-increasingly draconian DRM measures being employed in games and here we are today.

Of course, there are exceptions ; All throughout this post, I have been tarring the entire industry with a very large brush using very wide strokes and up until now, I have failed to mention Valve. Valve has my respect for being pretty much the only video game development company to continuously try new things with their franchises and doing so successfully, while being opposed to the ridiculously draconian DRM measures, like SecuROM, employed in newer games as well as being actively in support of modding projects involving their games. On numerous occasions, I have had fellow gamers ask me if Valve is the only developer to try new things with their games, and I am very much inclined to say yes as I could not think of any other company acting alike.

So here is what I think of the video game industry today. Hopefully my voice will reach someone in the industry who can, would and will make a difference for the better.

What are your thoughts?

21 January, 2009

Sketchblog Post #6 - Collab

Skye Pondering

This is the result of an impromptu collab session with me and a friend of mine from the TwoKinds IRC chat who goes by Foehammer. I did the linework and he added colour to it.

06 January, 2009

[SamTV] [Humour] Persistence

Just something hilarious that just happened in g0dFather's Serious SGA 1.07 dedicated server today. I honestly have no idea for how long they kept at it after I left to record this.