30 August, 2009

Oye tio!! - voy a Espana


I'm flying to Malaga in Southern Spain tomorrow morning, where I'm going to spend a week with some friends. We will travel straight to Tarifa, which is a short ferry trip from Tangiers, Morroco and spend a few days around there. Then we head to Sevilla for a few days in the city before flying back home.

I probably won't be on the net much if at all... hasta luego!!


27 August, 2009

Presuppositionalist Nonsense Part II

In Presuppositionalist Nonsense Part I, it was shown that the request of a presuppositionalist for an account of the abstract, universal, invariant laws of logic is a dishonest approach as it already assumes, with no verification, that the laws of logic are indeed abstract, universal and invariant. The onus is actually on the presupper to prove this claim, which they unsurprisingly never do. Of course, to do so amounts to an impossibility since they would literally have to demonstrate that no law of logic has ever been broken at any time since the universe existed and that no law of logic will ever be broken in the future.

It is, however, much easier to disprove as one example of a law of logic not holding is all that is needed. In Part I, the example of relativity was used to show that the law of non-contradiction is not universal. I was challenged by a presupp commenter called Sye TenB that this example did not apply since different perspectives do not count as 'the same way', which is a necessary condition of the law of non-contradiction.

I disagreed with him but I took his criticism on board nonetheless and now I present a slight variation on my argument which I hope will clear it up. Instead of two people and a train, simply imagine the perspective of one person sitting at a table looking at a bunch of flowers. From the perspective of the person, the flowers are not moving. However, this person knows some basic cosmology and is thus aware of the fact that the earth's rotation is moving the flowers. I submit that this person can simultaneously appreciate the fact that the flowers are thus moving and not moving at the same time, and crucially, in the same way.

Now I can already hear Sye saying that the person is simply imagining two different perspectives and so this still isn't in the 'same way'. But, again, I would disagree. The person doesn't have to literally imagine themselves looking at the flowers from an outer space perspective in order to know that they are moving. They can simply have knowledge of the fact that it is moving with the earth's rotation. So, in my opinion it's possible to look at an object and simultaneously think of it as both moving and not moving at the same time and in the same way.

Anyway, I promised another example of the law of non-contradiction not holding and here it is...

Suppose that the last few sentences in yesterday’s edition of a tabloid newspaper read:

"We have received several complaints accusing our newspaper of sub-standard journalistic ethics. We thus make this pledge. The last sentence in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper will be true."

This is a grammatically correct meaningful sentence. It imparts information on a particular subject. So, after reading today's paper, you check the last two sentences which read:

"Correction: we regret to inform our readers of a mistake. The last sentence in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper was not true."

Again, a grammatically correct meaningful sentence. It similarly imparts information on a particular subject.

Now you remember from yesterday's edition that the last sentence in today's edition would be true. This means that the original sentence in yesterday's edition is no longer to be considered true. The result is that the first sentence is both true and not true at the same time and in the same way, thus breaking the law of non-contradiction. Of course, a presupper will deny this to the end, perhaps by saying that the first sentence is not true and false at the same time, since it was originally true yesterday, and then only became false today. But if it only became false today, then that means the last sentence in today's edition is also false, meaning the first sentence is true again. So it most definitely is true and not true at the same time and in the same way.

As I explained in Part I, this breakdown in the law of non-contradiction is consistent with the fact that the laws of logic are man-made entities. They are useful guidelines which describe how reality seems to work. This is not consistent, however, with the presuppositionalist worldview in which the laws are logic, as derived from God's nature, are universal and invariant.

A common presupper response to this would be something like:

Could the universe have both existed and not existed before man came along and created the law of non-contradiction?

This is just a silly question. The existence of the law of non-contradiction is not necessary for something to exist in a non-contradictory way. Logic does not determine reality, reality determines logic.

Now the following is not a scenario that I believe in, but just for fun lets consider for a moment the possibility that the universe did exist and not exist at the same time...

I'd just like to repeat that last sentence to deter potential quote miners.

Now the following is not a scenario that I believe in, but just for fun lets consider for a moment the possibility that the universe did exist and not exist at the same time...

In what way could we measure or observe this? Let's take one at a time:

1) If the universe does exist and not exist at the same time then, as one part of that dichotomy, it would necessarily exist. Since we are here observing the universe, I think it is safe to assume that it does indeed exist.

2) If the universe does exist and not exist at the same time then, as one part of that dichotomy, it would necessarily not exist. By definition, there would be no trace of this non-existent universe to measure or observe, and indeed we have no trace of such.

So from our viewpoint, there is no evidence to falsify the hypothesis that the universe actually does exist and doesn't exist at the same time. The presupper will jump on the idea of the universe not existing and extrapolate to suggest that this means your consciousness also doesn't exist. But what they fail to consider is that the original question is whether the universe (or one's consciousness) can both exist and not exist at the same time, not just whether it doesn't exist. As I have shown, this is not inconsistent with what we observe, as we do in fact exist, and we cannot measure our non-existence.

The very fact that this is difficult to understand or comprehend shows that the law of non-contradiction is a man-made entity, which describes reality with a high degree of precision, but is not necessarily universal or invariant.

To sum up, in my view logic is only applicable to human thought and reasoning, meaning it is not universal. Is logic necessary for a rock to exist or the sun to shine? No, it is only necessary for humans to think and reason about these things. Consciousness uses logic to interpret and interact with reality. Logic does not exist outside of consciousness. And even at that, in rare cases it does not always hold true, leading to paradoxes and contradictions. These contradictions refute the presuppositionalist's worldview, since they require the laws of logic to be universal and invariant.

In Part 3 I will discuss how the presuppositionalist's own position on such things as senses, reasoning and certainty is self-refuting and how their claimed presupposition that God is the source of logic and certainty is fallacious.


24 August, 2009

Who is the Intelligent Designer? - Elusiveness by Design

I recently received a few comments on an earlier post I did on a flaw in intelligent design (ID) theory. Essentially, my point was that knowledge of human design cannot be used as a basis for recognizing supernatural design. It can only be used as a basis for identifying other human design. The point was made by the commenter, Michael, that I was wrong in my approach as I was attacking the notion of a supernatural designer, something which ID does not necessarily claim.

At first glance, this may seem like a perfectly reasonable criticism. If you accept it, then you could say that I am committing the logical fallacy of attacking a strawman, as I am taking an argument that ID does not hold and attacking it. However, this is one of the core problems with ID. They do not publicly hold the position I am attacking for that very reason, because it is so open to attack. Rest assured, they certainly do hold the position privately - just ask any one of them and they'll probably admit it. It is this unwillingness to speculate on the identity on the designer in public, I will argue, that contributes to the status of ID as an unfalsifiable theory, thus rendering it pseudoscientific.

When asked certain questions, IDists claim that ID says nothing about this or nothing about that. This is because if they try to expand upon the theory of an intelligent designer it quickly turns into religion. So they prefer to make only one claim, and a flawed claim to boot, and then refuse to expand on that claim. This means that ID adopts an ambiguous position with regards any direct prerequisites or consequences of ID being true. Luckily, this does not stop others from exploring the shaky scaffold that props up the notion of ID.

Breaking it down, the designer has to be either supernatural or natural. Let's take these one at a time:

1) If the designer is supernatural, then ID is pseudoscience. Plain and simple.

2) If the designer is natural then this means that ID could potentially be tested.

The problem is, of course, that ID proponents don't claim that the designer is natural or supernatural, they simple say they are not concerned with the designer's identity. This automatically means that both options above are possible, rendering ID as pseudoscience because it doesn't reject the idea of a supernatural explanation.

It is, of course, obvious why they don't speculate on the identity of the designer. They are all creationists of one ilk or another and so they believe that the designer is God. Casey Luskin, the ID attack gerbil, has admitted as much to me in our email debate and several other ID proponents have also agreed that they believe the Christian God to be the designer. Why is this a problem? Well, as explained above, if the designer is God then ID is pseudoscience and legally has no place in the science classroom. So they don't admit it publicly and instead wallow around in ambiguity.

The only other alternative is that the designer is natural. Now if ID proponents were to come out and say as much, they would be lying to themselves, but it might actually benefit their cause in that, at first, it seems ID is now not necessarily pseudoscience. However, the problems don't end just because the designer is potentially natural because this is simply begging the question...

Who designed the designer?

An answer which necessarily asks the exact same question it is supposed to answer is effectively useless. So whether the designer is supernatural or natural makes no difference - ID is useless.

I'll explain why...

Saying an intelligent designer made a flagellum is unfalsifiable. Nothing can ever disprove this. If we were able to find the exact evolutionary pathway step by step, the ID proponent could simply say that the intelligent designer designed the step-by-step pathway.

The only way to refute, or even explore, ID is to imagine that it is true and then look at the prerequisites and consequences of that. This is the only way that ID could potentially be considered real science - if ID proponents try to disprove it. They don't (for obvious reasons) but others are happy to do so.

Many wacky hypotheses are dismissed simply by exploring their implications and realizing that they are untenable ideas. ID is untenable as it would require an infinite regress, so no questions are answered that do not ask the exact same question ad nauseum. Of course, if you do not explore these aspects of a theory, then your theory remains unfalsified, which is exactly the case with ID.

This analogy might help:

What if I say to you that I have formulated a new branch of mathematics where 5x10=51...?

You might explain that 5x10 actually equals 50 by showing me 5 separate bundles of 10 things and combining them all to give 50 things. But then I would just say:

"No, I didn't claim that 5 bundles of 10 things equals 51 things, just that 5x10=51."

You could try to convince me all day using logic but you can never prove me wrong if I say that this is a new branch of maths. It is unfalsifiable because any attempt to disprove it is not acceptable as it includes things that I did not claim.

This is the same as ID.

It is purposely designed to be impossible to disprove as it does not allow for any prerequisites or consequences of ID to be examined. This makes it pseudoscience.

So when someone, like me, attempts to explore the necessary conditions for ID to be true and finds error in it, I will always get someone telling me I am wrong because I have added extra unclaimed information.

Well, I propose that 5*10=51

Teach the controversy.


19 August, 2009


I don't read all that much fiction - perhaps reading the Bible as a kid in Sunday School put me off - but when I picked up Daniel Suarez's 'Daemon' in Newcastle airport about a month ago the blurb on the back intrigued me:

An infernal web of autonomous computer programs, Sobol's Daemon feasts on the lifeblood of our hyper-connected society: information. Gathering secrets and stealing identities, it soon has the power to change lives as well as the power to take them. Those who serve the Daemon are rewarded; those who defy it are eliminated.

Although it was probably the line underneath this from a Google employee that convinced me to reach for my wallet:
"Daemon is to novels what the Matrix was to movies. It will be how other novels that rely on technology are judged..."

If you like science-based techie fiction with plenty of twists and turns then this book is definitely for you. I certainly enjoyed it. It's going to be made into a movie, that's for sure. The science is mind-bending at times but never implausible. I won't say too much but, interestingly, the main bad guy is killed in the very first paragraph, an event which triggers pre-planned mayhem across the world. This means the police are left trying to shutdown a dead criminal's intricate series of cyber-booby traps with no chance of catching or punishing him.


13 August, 2009

Presuppositionalist Nonsense Part I

Following a few recent encounters with some presuppositionalists, I have given some thought to their position on the laws of logic. It seems clear to me that the laws of logic are simply general rules that we humans use to interpret the world around us. However, the presupper will have you believe they have some sort of transcendent mystical origins and are in fact a reflection of God's nature.

Let's just say I am skeptical of this.

A favourite starting point for their onslaught of idiocy is to ask a non-believer for an account of the abstract, universal, invariant laws of logic. This initial question commits the fallacy of the loaded question. For example it's like asking someone "Have you stopped beating your wife?". In this case, regardless of the answer, you are automatically insinuating that the person beats his wife when there is no justification for this. Similarly, presuppositionalists are loading their question with the 'fact' that the laws of logic are abstract, universal and invariant and then simply asking the non-believer to account for that fact, thus putting their opponent on the defensive. This makes a non-believer think that they should indeed have an account for these proposed properties of the laws of logic, even though the presupper has never actually proven their initial premise. It's just a devious deflection tactic.

As for these proposed properties of logic, I for one don't accept that the laws of logic are necessarily universal or invariant. I will, however, concede that they are abstract in that they are not physical entities but instead they are used as a tool for human consciousness to describe physical phenomenon. I will not say that I am certain that they are not universal or invariant, but I think there is room for debate. For starters, I doubt whether it can be proven that they are definitely universal or invariant as this would be an impossible task. On the other hand, if the laws of logic are not universal or not invariant, it can easily be proven by finding an example of such a case.

So, if it can be shown that a law of logic does not hold in any particular situation, then this would automatically refute the presuppositionalist position, as it would disqualify their claim that the laws of logic, and thus the character of God, is unchanging. This would be devastating for their position as it would not be consistent with their claims to certainty.

So are there any incidences where the law of logic do not hold?

Well, yes.

In fact, none other than Einstein himself provided a scenario where an object can be said to be both moving and not moving at the same time, violating the law of non-contradiction...

Imagine person A sitting on a train and a person B standing on the platform. Both are looking at an object on a table in the train carriage, let's say it's a flower in a vase. The flower is clearly visible to both A and B, albeit through the carriage window for B. As the train passes by the platform, the flower stays still from the perspective of person A and yet the flower moves from the perspective of person B. The flower is clearly both moving and not moving at the same time.

So is it moving or not moving? Which interpretation is correct? Well, the answer is that both are equally correct. That is relativity.

A more extreme example would be to say that although you think you are not moving right now (assuming you are sitting at a desk with your computer), from the theoretical perspective of someone looking at you through a telescope from outside our solar system you are travelling at 500,000-600,000 mph. That's a big contradiction!!

So, if you think about it, the law of non-contradiction is broken all the time. This law states that something cannot be both A and not A. Well if A is movement, then, due to relativity, many things are both moving and not moving at the same time when considered from multiple perspectives, and, crucially, all interpretations are equally correct.

Now some may say that this example doesn't matter because the perspectives of two different observers does not qualify for the law of non-contradiction. They would say that I am equivocating or deliberately misleading by using ambiguous definitions of the same word or concept. However, I am not doing this. Movement of the flowers from different perspectives is not an equivocation. It is an objective description of the flowers from two different, yet equally accurate, perspectives.

What this means is that the law non-contradiction is not universal - it does not hold in all places and at all times. In the above example of the train it holds for person A and it holds for person B, but when both A and B are considered at the same time, it does not hold. Hence, it is not universal. No further examples are needed - point proven.
(However, for those still in doubt as to the validity of this example, I will provide a different example of the law of non-contradiction not holding in part II)

How is this the case? Why does a law of logic not universally represent reality?

Well, this is actually consistent with the idea that the laws of logic are simply mechanisms our brains use to understand reality and process information. These laws of logic were necessarily subject to how reality was thought to be in the past. However, as we have now seen, the law of non-contradiction is not compatible with relativity. I imagine that this can be somewhat explained by the fact that relativity, in it's current form, is a modern idea and so it does not fit into the classical laws of logic.

Now that we have shown that the law of non-contradiction is not universal, how would the presuppositionalist respond? Here is a typical response:

Riiiight!!!! If the law of non-contradiction was proven wrong, it would also necessarily NOT be proven wrong as well.

Now the above is not a strawman (scmike says it here and Sye says something similar in the sidebar here). Let's examine what this means and if it's a rational response. Essentially, the presupper is claiming that if you show that the law of non-contradiction is wrong in one instance, then contradictions are universally acceptable. This means that that 'A' can equal 'not A' whenever you want it to, hence 'proven wrong' can become 'not proven wrong' - and hey presto, you have just proven that the law of non-contradiction is actually true!!!

There is one word and one word only for that position - pathetic

First of all, we did not show that the law of non-contradiction is wrong, just that it is not universal. It is still a useful law. It still works in most, if not all, cases from an individual's perspective. It only seems to break down when multiple perspectives are considered at the same time.

Secondly, extrapolating from this to say that any contradictions are now allowed is just a juvenile response. It leads to an infinite regression of absurdity as demonstrated here:

Non-believer - "The law of contradiction does not hold in this particular instance, therefore it is not universal"

Presupper - "If the law of non-contradiction is wrong, it would also necessarily NOT be wrong as well. Hence the law of non-contradiction is right"

Non-believer - "If the law of non-contradiction is right due to fact that it has been proven wrong, then it is also necessarily NOT right. Hence the law of non-contradiction is wrong"

Etc....ad nauseum

So the assertion that if the law of non-contradiction was proven wrong, it would also necessarily NOT be proven wrong as well is clearly absurd and should be dismissed as such.

To conclude part I of this post, I just want to re-emphasis that the original claim of the presupper is that the laws of logic are universal. This is impossible to prove, so there is a huge weight of burden on the presupper to back up this claim, and as such they never do. They simply say it, again and again and again.

What is possible though, and quite easy in fact, is to disprove this claim by simply finding one example of a law of logic not holding true. One single example from a whole universe of possibilities is all it takes to refute the presupper claim.

Well, relativity is a perfect example of this. It breaks the law of non-contradiction as it allows for an object to be both moving and not moving at the same time and in the same way. I stress that this is not equivocation, although the presupper will undoubtedly claim otherwise in a vain attempt to prevent their bubble of semantic lies from bursting.

In short, the presupper position is refuted.

More to follow in Part II


What Came First - The Snake or the Egg?

Well, in the case of the Arabian sand boa, Eryx jayakari, it seems that the answer is - both.

Although many species of snake lay eggs, boas generally give birth to live offspring. In the journal Evolution, Vincent Lynch and Günter Wagner used phylogentic analysis to show that two species of the genus Eryx re-evolved the ability to lay eggs, meaning that oviparity (egg-laying) to viviparity (live-birth) is reversible. Specifically, these snakes appear to have re-evolved oviparity nearly 60 million years after the initial transition to viviparity.

Evolution: Reinventing the egg

There is a short commentary on this study in the recent edition of Nature:

Many vertebrates have abandoned egg-laying for live birth. But despite some suggestive examples, convincing evidence for the evolutionary reversal of this trait has been lacking until now.

Vincent Lynch and Günter Wagner at Yale University, New Haven, carried out a phylogenetic analysis of 41 species of boa snake using recent DNA data. The most parsimonious explanation of the phylogeny, they conclude, is that the Arabian sand boa, Eryx jayakari (pictured ), one of only two species of egg-laying boa, re-evolved this ability some 60 million years after the transition of the group to live birth.

E. jayakari also lacks the egg tooth other oviparous snakes use to tear their way out of the egg, additional evidence that egg-laying was lost and reacquired, according to the authors.


10 August, 2009

Open Invitation to Scmike

This post is an open invitation to scmike to continue the conversation started over at Ray Comfort's blog. Of course, scmike has already been shown up for his dishonesty at several sites, including over at Ryk's. But that won't stop him. You see, scmike is a presuppositionalist and believes that God is the only possible source of logic. He has never proven this and simply repeats the same semantic dance again and again and again (see here for an example of a similar failed approach by Sye TenB). It's an easy method of argumentation but it lacks any substance and generally goes on for weeks as the presupper will refuse to answer certain questions.

For example, these:

1) Are your senses infallible?

2) If you answer no to the above, please explain how you discriminate between the times when your senses are reliable and when they are not?

3) How do you distinguish between an actual revelation and an imaginary revelation?

He will probably ignore this, but if he shows up, he will refuse to answer my questions.

Just watch....

Oh and scmike, Sye left with his tail between his legs but, for the record, here are the questions Sye refused to answer so feel free to address them too (apologies for the Gish Gallop but these have all been previously asked individually with no answer):

1. Explain how these two contradictory quotes of yours are compatible: "Impossibility of the contrary" with respect to your worldview and "I have never claimed that it would be impossible" with respect to a contrary worldview.

2. You consistently claim that your version of the truth is certain, but seeing as you have agreed in the past that there are people who are certain of truth but are in fact wrong, how can you know that you are not one of these people?

3. If you discount the validity of personal revelations as a source of truth (the contrary being that any hallucination can be considered as truth), how is it that you were able to arrive at the conclusion that presupposing God's existence is the foundation of rationality, since you wouldn't have been able to judge it to be the correct position without already having accepted it?

4. Give an example of an absolute truth, i.e. a truth that does not require a system in order to exist. When you provide your example, please include how you came to the conclusion that it was a valid example.

5. What is the evidence that your ability to reason is valid? (Note that the evidence must demonstrate your ability to reason but cannot use reason itself as this would presuppose the very thing you are trying to provide evidence for.)

6. Provide evidence that your revelation was not from Satan posing as God, or that it wasn't from a computer programmer or that it wasn't just a hallucination. All of these scenarios are possible.

7. What absolute standard did you use as your foundation to determine that God is an absolute standard?

8. How did you come to the conclusion that God has an unchanging character?

9. How do you know your senses or your extrasensory perception were reliable prior to and at the time of your revelation? If you claim your revelation wasn't sensory or extrasensory but that it was 'innate', how do you justify the assumption that your innate perception is reliable?

10. Occasionally, when a tough question arises, instead of answering you respond with a phrase like "you have no basis for that question/claim". If a person has no basis for one claim then he/she also must have no basis for any claim. So why do you answer any questions from anyone with a different worldview, since they never have a basis for their question?

11. As you have told us, God cannot murder or lie. This means that God is not all powerful or 'omnipotent', since it is conceivable to imagine a God-like deity that could also murder and lie. So, since God is not omnipotent, how can you be sure that he was able to reveal truth with absolute certainty to you?

12. Consider this claim: an all-knowing entity (e.g. the Invisible Pink Hammer) reveals knowledge to me in such a way that I know it to be certain? Part of this reveation is that your Christian God does not exist. I do not know how this happens, but it is innate and does not require senses or rational thinking. Through these revelations I have found the Truth and have also been told that you are a liar and that your religion is false. Please offer a refutation of this claim. If you cannot, you must concede that this claim is equally as likely to be true as your own, regardless of whether anyone actually believes it.

13. Have your senses and reasoning ever let you down? Have you ever misread something or made a mistake (including during childhood)? I imagine even you would admit that it occasionally happens. How do you explain these examples of your senses and reasoning failing you, when you have been gauranteed that they are reliable? Are they only reliable some of the time?

14. Please provide an example of an absolute truth which is not a systemic truth.

15. Seeing that we presuppose that you [Sye] have had a sudden blow to your head which has resulted in brain injury can you provide evidence that you can think rationally?

16. Explain why the qualifiers absolute, universal, and immutable apply to a discussion of logic.

17. How do you attribute any revelation to an omnipotent omniscient being, when any revelation could come from a source that is neither Omniscient or Omnipotent but simply capable of fooling you.


05 August, 2009

Email Scams - Or I'm a Triple Millionaire!!!!

I don't usually get spam in my email account. I don't know why as some of my friends with similar email accounts get hundreds a day. Anyway, a few months ago I received this email:

Dear Friend,

My name is Mr Clarence Edwin, an attorney at law chambers of Clarence
Edwin & Associates. A deceased client of mine whose name is the same last
name with you, who herein after shall be referred to as my client, died
together with his family on December 26 -2004 as a result of Tsunami Disaster.

I am contacting you because you have the same surname as my deceased client
and i felt that you could help me in the distribution of funding that were
left in my deceased client's bank account. This funding is closed to be
declared UN-serviceable by the bank as there were no indicated next of kin or
next of beneficiary of the funding in the bank account.

The total amount of cash in the bank account of my deceased client is
US$4.7 Million ( Four Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollar )
only. The bank had issued to me a notification to contact the next of kin of
my deceased client or account will be confiscated.

My proposition to you is to seek your consent, and to present your kind self
as the next-of-kin and beneficiary of my deceased client, since you have the
same last name with him. This means that the proceeds of his bank account
would be paid to you as his next of kin or the legitimate beneficiary. We
would share the percentage on a mutually agreed-upon 60% for me and 40% to
your kind self.

All the legal documents to back up the claim as my client's next-of-kin would
be provided by me. This will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that
would protect you from any breach of the law.

If this business proposition offends your moral and ethic values, do accept
my sincere apology. I must use this opportunity to implore you to exercise
the utmost indulgence to keep this matter extraordinary confidential, whatever
your decision, while I await your prompt response. Please contact me, if your
interested by replying the mail or ignore it if you are not.

Best regards,
Barrister Clarence Edwin

Obviously after the first sentence or two I knew it was a scam, but I decided to respond anyway:

Dear Clarence,

Many thanks for this news. I was not aware that any of my extended family were killed in the tragedy in 2004. This is quite a shock and I am surprised that I hadn't heard about it.

On closer inspection, I notice that you never mentioned my name, my family name or my deceased relatives name. It is also surprising that my father would not be the next of kin instead of myself, as any relations with our family name would be related to me through him.

In short, I think you are full of shit. You are a complete scumbag who is trying to rip people off. Not only are you a thief, but you are also preying on people's emotions which makes you a complete asshole. On top of that you are trying to profit from a natural disaster which killed thousands of people and left many more injured and homeless, which is deplorable. I will be passing this email onto the proper authorities. I hope you get whats coming to you.

Kind regards,

Strangely, Clarence never got back to me.

For the record, I received two more scam emails shortly after:

From:Maria Adams
Abidjan-Cote D'Ivoire.
(Old Ivory Coast)

Dearest one,
Compliment of the day.I'm Mrs.Maria Adams married to late Mr.William Adams from Sierra-Leone.I picked interest on you after glancing through your profile at my late husband's int'l business directory.I deemed it necessary to disclose this important issue I believe one thing in me that God will always make a way for the needy and helpless one.We were living in this country(CoTe D'Ivoire) where we are till now before the death of my husband.

We were blessed with an only son Peter.I lost my husband a couple of years ago.My husband was a serving director of the Agro-exporting board until his death .He was assassinated by the rebels during the political uprising here just the same thing that is going on in this country.Before his death he told me of a fund deposit of US$15.5M(Fifteen Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) he made in a private bank here in Abidjan Cote D'Ivoire with my name as the next of kin.He made this deposit for the purchase of cocoa processing machine and development of a factory before his untimely death.

This is a matter of trust, now I confide in you since I don't know anybody abroad.If you agree on this, I'll give you 25% of the total share when transferred, then extra 5% will be added to you if you make any expenses on the cause of the transfer hence I don't have any money may be to settle any expenses.My son is very sick at the moment but praying to God for his healing. Please remember us in your daily prayers.

Waiting to hearing from you, please once I hear from you positively,I'll send you more details on what you need to do.Wishing you a lovely day.

Maria Adams


REF NO:US/76841284672/09
BATCH NO:1305/08/EMS


This is to inform you on the release of the Espaсa Ђuromillones
Loterнa/international Promotion Program held on the 16TH February, 2009. Due
to mix up of some numbers, name and email, the results were released on the 4th
of March, 2009. Your name attached to ticket number X-0207142544-0Z with serial
number 02-04 drew the lucky numbers of 23-51-22-5-0 which consequently won the
lottery in the 3rd category.

You have therefore been approved for a lump sum payout of Ђ985.950.00 (NINE HUNDRED
Ref no:US/76841284672/09, Batch no:1305/08/EMS . This is from a total cash prize
EUROS ONLY) Shared among the international winners in this category. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

Your fund is now deposited with a security company and insured in your name. Due
to mix up of some numbers and names , we ask that you keep this award from public
notice until your claim has been processed and money remitted to your account as
this is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unwarranted
taking advantage of this program by participants. All participants were selected
through a computer ballot system drawn from 25,000 names from Asia, Australia,
Africa, Europe, South America and North America as part of our International
promotions program which we conduct once every year, to promote tourism. We hope
your lucky name will draw a bigger cash prize in the next year’s program.

To begin your lottery claim, please contact your claims agent Mrs. Anna Mendez
the Foreign operations manager of PROTECTIVE SECURITY COMPANIA SA , On
Tel: 34-634-035-103 Fax: 34-912-919-506 Email address: ppclaimdptmendez@yahoo.es
for the processing and remittance of your winning prize money to a designation
of your choice. Remember, all price money must be claimed not later than, 31st
of May, 2009. After this date, all funds will be returned to the MINISTERIO DE
ECONOMIA Y HACIENDA as unclaimed. And also be informed that 10% of your Lottery
Winning belongs to PROTECTIVE SECURITY COMPANIA S A. Because they are your claims
agent. This 10% will be remitted after you have received your winnings because the
money is insured in your name already.

In order to avoid unnecessary delay and complication, please remember to quote
your reference and batch numbers in every correspondence with us or your agent.
Furthermore, should there be any change of your address, do inform your claims
agent as soon as possible. Congratulations once again from all our members of
staff and thank you for being a part of our International promotions program.


I didn't bother replying and haven't received any more scam emails since, but I really can't understand how anyone would fall for this. Who in their right mind would think that a complete stranger is going to give them millions of dollars for nothing. What's sad is that it seems many decent people have fallen for these scams and hand over smaller amounts as 'release fees' in order to process the exchange of these imaginary big life-changing windfalls.

More info about email scams can be found here.


04 August, 2009

Ricky Gervais Explains an Alternative Theory