Community Profile: JamesBannon

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

I heard about IIDB when I was a member of apologetics.com, where I used to “discuss” religious belief with believers. Since then, I’ve joined FF, TR! and Secular Cafe. I’m also a member of a couple of private boards.

I enjoy discussion of all kinds and the community aspects. Most of all, I like just goofing around and being silly.

What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

Any of the above. I post about equally on all the boards. I don’t have any specific favourite areas, it depends on what I find interesting / controversial at the time.

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

What a question! There are many people whom I respect and / or regard as very good friends and who have given me much needed support. I guess my first choice would be maddog. We see eye-to-eye on many issues, she’s very intelligent and she’s one of the kindest & sweetest persons I’ve ever met on-line. However, I could say that about many people: Thalia, Puck, Garnet, MT, David B, Luis Garcia, Oolon Colluphid, Nephesh, Stormlight, Leesifer and many others. I love them all really.

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

I don’t read a lot of the modern thinkers, except snippets here and there on-line. My favourite philosopher is Hume because he makes us think about what it is to know something.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

Again, a difficult choice as there are so many one could condemn. I think, perhaps, my least favourite is the parable of the sheep and the goats. Think about what happened to the goats, through no fault of their own. Really, however, the whole Abrahamic edifice is based on the principle “might is right”, and that is something I would never agree with.

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

I think I would get rid of Pascal’s Wager. It is such a spurious piece of reasoning and has been debunked many times, yet it is still trotted out as if it had any meaning / relevance.

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Invisible Pink Unicorn, though my personal favourite is my invisible, pink bunny rabbit friend called Harvey. He’s rather a nice fellow. You should meet him. (And if I say he’s pink, then he’s pink, dammit!)

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

Not a great deal, really. I’m disabled, so I don’t work at the moment. When I can concentrate, I like to read, listen to some music, think and keep in touch with friends and family. Other than that, most of my time is spent on the boards.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

Difficult! I guess I would plump for 1984 by George Orwell. It shows what kind of dystopia could happen, given the right technology and people with the will to use it for those ends.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

Not sure about singing, but my favourite dance tune is “The Pursuit of the Woman with the Feathered Hat” by Weather Report from the album “Mr Gone”. I like a bit of head-banging too, Rage Against the Machine is my current favourite for that. Also, I couldn’t go without mentioning King Crimson!

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

I’d love to do a space walk! It must be absolutely awesome to look down through your feet and see the Earth. However, since that is out of the question, I’ll settle for a trip to see all my on-line friends.

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

Alas, I can no longer indulge in a tipple as it doesn’t mix well with my medication. My favourite used to be a good quality Brandy.

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

Maddog would make an interesting subject!

Community Profile: freemonkey

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

~ from Google and from members of one group or another. I don’t have the time to hang out at them much, but I have been reading a handful of atheist/freethought blogs when I can lately. My favorite things about them are the freethinkers! My favorite things about freethinkers are their wit, intelligence, sense of irony. I also like the feeling of connection to these people.

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Community Profile – LadyShea

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

The exact path from the sudden realization that I was atheist to joining a community is lost in the mists of time, but I know the writings of Acharya S were on that path! I found and joined IIDB pretty quickly, as it is the largest and easiest to find.

My favorite thing about freethought communities is the quality of the discussions and honing of my communication, research, and debate skills. Freethinkers don’t often accept mere assertions or argue from opinion.

What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

You can only find me at Freethought-Forum.com these days. I may be talking about parenting, educational philosophies, politics, and fluffy filler like hobbies and crafts. Whatever catches my interest that day!

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

I’d rather not choose three specific people, as I don’t want to exclude people. Let’s just say someone who makes me laugh, someone who makes me think, and someone who can cook, because I can’t.

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

George Carlin..he had great points to make, while being hilarious.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

Whatever one is used to justify anti-gay bigotry. It bothers me that Jesus’ talk of love thy neighbor and forgive and whatnot is overshadowed by what, one line about homosexuality? Hate is always ugly, but they feel their hate is dictated by their deity.

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

Any form of Pascal’s Wager. How good is your position if it requires mortal fear to keep or get people believing it?

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

IPU of course.

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

I have an amazing husband and 3 year old son, cool friends and family, a boat and easy access to the beach. You’ll find me enjoying one or a combination of them.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

I don’t have a fave, beyond whatever I am reading at that moment.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

Pretty Tied Up by Guns n Roses.

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

Mark off as many items as I can from my big list of things to do before I die. I have made good headway so far.

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

Champagne, I am pretty far gone after a bottle or so.

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

freemonkey.

Community Profile – jess

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

I was in a discussion with some family members about something obscure in the Bible, and I did a Yahoo search (yes, I used Yahoo then) and found IIDB. I was just coming off of 4 years of unsuccessful infertility treatments, and it really helped me displace my energy as well as help me heal.

I love how people on freethought boards don’t just smile and nod at you. I’ve learned a great deal about never simply stating something in casual conversation on a freethought board, because someone will demand proof. I now check pretty much anything I think is ‘common knowledge’ or that some one tells me ‘everyone knows’. People have stopped sending me informational emails as a side effect.

I also love how some posters are so incredibly tolerant and intelligent. So many other types of boards are full of people posting ”me too’, like some brain dead AOLers’.

What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

My current internet home is Ratpags , a great site that’s more tolerant of woo ideas than most other free thought boards, which gets some interesting conversations going. I spend the rest of my time at TR. I guess Ratpags is home and TR is my summer place?

When I started out, I was mostly in the ‘existence of God’ type fora. That was where my interest lay. After the community aspect started to be built at IIDB, I started to burn out of more serious discussions and just hung around to play. Without the community there, I would have sworn off IIDB completely after burning out of arguing with Christians.

I still read the heavier stuff, but mostly I have fun now. That means I’m in games or social fora, mostly. But I get most of my news at Ratpags.

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

Oooo that’s a hard one! Would I still have internet access?

In addition to these being simply great folks, I’d go for David B, because I know I’ll always eat well with his foraging capabilities, Jobar, because there’d be a roof over our heads… and ravenscape, because she’d keep everything running smoothly, somehow…

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

Heinlein. I started reading his stuff as a juvenile, and never stopped. Nothing else ever taught me to think as well.

Except Spock. I fell in love with Spock at about 3 years old.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

Judges 19: 22-30. It makes me sick to read it.

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

I’m not sure this counts, but I hate the ‘exclusivity’ of religions. If they’d lose the ‘but I’m right and you’re WRONG!’ aspect, they’d all be more tolerable.

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

IPU. The IPU is a much stronger parody, being both pink and invisible. And you can’t prove she’s not standing next to me right now, unlike the FSM.

Who did have a nice snapshot taken of him just a little while ago, though.

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

I’m a slave to our dogs. I’m home full time right now, and I am at their beck and call. It gets worse, though. Our older dog is 15 and senile. So he calls me over to him and then can’t remember what he wanted.

Other than that, I’m a stay at home mom because we’re working hard for that (we’re not ‘lucky’ as so many people put it) and I’m taking the chance to become an embroidery teacher. Because that’s where the big bucks are.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart. Karalora reviewed this at Ratpags and I’ve found it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s a fairy tale with a bite.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

I don’t. I learned a long time ago life is too short to worry about what other people think like that. I won’t do in private something I’m too embarrassed by in public.

But some people may laugh at me for bopping to Robbie Williams’ Rock DJ lately, but just because it gives new Halloween meaning to ‘take it all off!’

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

Get the damn novel I’ve been working on finished and published.

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

I’m one of the cheapest drunks you’ll ever meet. I’m gone a half glass of champagne. And was, after Obama won. I like wines, red and white but not in-between. I like good reds and porters and stouts, but not wheat beers. I like fruity girly hard liquor drinks, thank you kindly.

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

Livius Drusus, Lady Shea, ravenscape or Kassiana. I can’t count real well, can I?

Community Profile: Mason

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

I progressed on to freethought boards after I spent most of my time posting typo-ridden posts as a thirteen year old on videogame forums. IIDB really opened some doors for me intellectually.

Naturally the next step in quality discussion was RnR, and here I am now.

My favorite thing about these forums is that I can find like-minded people who share my thrilling sense of adventure and intrigue in life. People who possess the same qualities that I greatly admire about myself.

Over time we develop a bond in fellowship that just resonates, you know. Like this one time some of us were almost able to drive a schizophrenic poster to suicide. It’s just those great strides in achievement that really cultivate strong friendships. Like you think, “Hey, when we put our efforts together look what we can accomplish.”

That’s what makes it worth it to me.


What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

RnR, mainly. I can usually be found debating politics and discussing secular activism.

I used to post a lot on TR but I was banned by the staff members there. Their official reason given in the ban message was for me being “an intolerable little shit”.

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

Pavlov’s Dog, Red Dave, and TySixtus.

lol

ETA: I answered this question assuming that the age of consent laws in America still held.

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

I know it’s a cliche answer, but the first name that comes to mind is George Carlin. I usually hear this along with nothing but praise for the guy from the same zealous atheists that Carlin would have most likely laughed at and mocked, but I’d like to think that he would have merely sneered at me.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

Who cares? Honestly, repeating verses from any holy book that could incriminate any form of sanctity still doesn’t accomplish shit. If anything answering this would make me look like a major douchebag, and I have a reputable image to maintain.

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

Here we go…

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Oh man. Next question.

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

You’ll usually find me actively participating in secular activism. I also run an animal shelter in my spare time while planning bake sales to raise money and awareness for autism.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

The book I probably most enjoyed reading was Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. Every now and then you read a book that makes you want to write a book. Though 90% of the time this is based on the assumption that you think you actually have something interesting to say. That assumption is almost never correct for most people.

I will probably never summon the energy to write a book, but if Chuck Klosterman lets me I will be happy to plagiarize his work one day.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

I don’t sing or dance. Ever.

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

Life is a misery-inducing well of nihilistic chaos, or so I read in a poem once. We’re all going to die with no significant meaning one day.

In the meantime I just plan to aim for reading some good books, enjoying some good jokes, and having some meaningless sex. That’s all anyone really needs.

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

I am too young to drink and alcohol is a very bad thing.

That said, I don’t have a poison that springs to mind or an established amount. I’d just say that I know it’s enough when I start claiming to be a doctor to anyone who will listen.

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

Pavlov’s Dog.

Community Profile: halii

halii_cropHow did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

I found these forums through a friend. Like any community, the best parts about my favorite freethought communities (for me) are having experts on hand to answer questions for you, hearing different perspectives on ideas and of course, the humor and being brought down to earth when you start taking yourself too seriously. I also love the lack of censorship and the limited moderation that exists in at least some of the communities.

What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

Rants ‘n’ Raves, and I will be either trolling or talking about the American election/American politics in general.

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

Mason – and hopefully he’d bring his parrot with him. Mason’s humor would keep me entertained for quite some time. Also Mason is young and his flesh is best for eating (if we had to)

Damian – because as an IP lawyer he could help me patent my coconut radio or whatever else I invented while marooned on the tropical island. Also, if the time came he would be there to help me kill Mason.

Lola – one of the truest, nicest people I’ve met through this community, Lola really knows her way around the wilderness. She’d be great company and very helpful.

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

I’d say Kurt Vonnegut.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

When I was little I learned the story of Abraham from a children’s bible, and it really scared me. I hate that story half because it seems to be in a lot of children’s bibles and it isn’t really a story for children. Are there any children sitting around scared worried that every trip with their mom or dad to the store could end in them being burned on a mountain somewhere?

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

I’m most annoyed when people argue that the United States is a Christian nation or founded on Christian ideals when trying to argue for why religion should be allowed in schools, or basically any argument where they can claim the bible dictates our government act a certain way.

First, it’s an incorrect argument which is justified by bringing up the same random string of facts about the very few founding fathers who were actually christian and practicing, and interpreting the First Amendment completely incorrectly. It still masquerades like it’s a legit argument somehow.

But what makes it the worst argument ever, is even if it was correct, it’s fucked up to say that you want to live in a nation that gives preferential treatment to anyone due to their religion.

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Neither.

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

Legal stuff, mostly, and I’m on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization that helps those who have Lupus in this area.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

I have many favorites, but one of the least well-received would be A Separate Peace – which displays the impact of WW2 on younger civilian Americans quite well.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

Goodbye Horses, by Q Lazarus

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

I’d like to have some influence in healthcare or sex education reformation in this country. And not to piss off feminists, but I’d like to have some kids too. 🙂

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

Potato vodka. I used to be able to drink a lot, but now it seems about 3 shots worth is enough. Probably 6 to drive me under the table though. 🙂

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

I nominate Mason. 🙂

Community Profile: Nialler

Nialler and Aoife

Nialler and Aoife

How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?

I deliberately sought them out. I’d been hearing about the stuff that was being discussed by creationists and sundry evangelists over them and I thought that in exactly the same manner as the porn industry they would be to the frorefront of exploiting the newest technologies. I therefore felt moved to address that and through it found IIDB and its formerly excellent Evolution forum.

What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?

You’ll find me splitting my time between RantsnRaves and TalkRational, while I also browse at rationalresponders. I’m still searching and arguing down fundamentalists and atheism has its own share of that breed.

If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?

Mrs Nialler has to have a say in this along with my child; so I’ll answer that I’d share the island with them both, with the possibility that there would be a third at some stage. I’ll create sockpuppet accounts to make sure that they qualify as members of online communities if needed!

Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?

Godel. Any man who can prove that there are gaps even in the most rigorously constructed logical systems has my vote.

What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?

“And He saw that it was good”. As Gervais said, being your own critic is hardly a good idea.

If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?

Obviously, the “atheists have no moral framework” thing, but for novelty’s sake I’ll add the “But how could the whole universe have been created unless there was someone to create it?” canard.

Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?

I need neither. I’m disinterested in spaghetti and unsure that Unicorn meat is any more savoury. I’m quite happy to eat wild boar with a good sauce and with a better wine than went into the sauce.

So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?

Well, I work on and off as a contracting sysprog working on mainframe systems for banks. It’s incredibly interesting and vital stuff for all.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

I’ve really no idea. I’m teased by my wife that the best book I’ve read is always the last book I’ve ever read. In that case, the best is a biography of Gladstone and Disraeli that I’m reading right now. If it came to the crunch, though, it would be either of Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” or Rex Warner’s “Man and the Gods” – a beautiful translation of Ovid.

What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?

I seriously do not sing or dance on my own. Being a father of a baby, though, I’m forced to sing and dance sometimes and I’ll swing her around to the themes of her favourite programmes. That’s as far as it goes, though. I’m quite self-conscious that way.

What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?

It sounds bad to say this, but I’ve achieved a lot of what I wanted to achieve. I don’t have any major ambitions for the future, although I guess that flying an F-15 would be nice.

What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?

Guinness. Good Guinness. Lots of it. In Ireland. Sitting at a bar with a newspaper. It would be difficult to drink me under the table. That’s not possible with me and Guinness. I do love wine as well, and I have a good supplier in my father-in-law.

Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?

halii.