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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Beware of Cragslist late responders!

Inasmuch as my readers often arrive at this blog desiring that something they had heard either be confirmed or debunked (and it seems to usually be the latter), I offer this latest entry as a warning to those who sell items on Craigslist.

Craigslist, like fire, can either serve or destroy. Probably the most successful Craigslist users are those in search of something; it seems like most scams prey on those offering a product or service. This has been my experience. Some months ago I put an item for sale--let's call it a Gadget--on Craigslist. I got one phone call the first week, then nothing. My listing rapidly dropped to the bottom of the page and it was unlikely that I would hear from any more prospective customers. Then, after a couple weeks of silence, a steady trickle of emails started appearing in my inbox. They all had the same features:

1. Subject line--it was lifted directly from the listing. Gadget - $250 (Pokeyville)
2. Sender's email--always a gmail account with a made-up-looking prefix like jffbo42p or pdly6doo.
3. Text--always something vague, never mentioning the item or the price, such as:
"Do you still have it available for sale?"

After I respond, the second email is equally programmed but still vague as to any details. It goes something like this:
Glad you still have it! Hope it's in good condition like you have stated in the post, I want you to remove the craigslist advert and consider it sold to me. The price is fine. I would have love to come pick it up and pay you cash but am out of town. I don't want to miss out of this deal so am willing to cut you a certified check as payment. I'll have a pickup agent come to your location after you've cashed the check. I need the following information:
Full Name:
Postal Code:
Cell Phone:
Last Asking Price:

I need all this right now so that I can forward it to my secretary to mail out the payment to you ASAP.
Okay, by now alarm bells should be going off. The prospective buyer has provided nothing but randomly generated information (sometimes even using a different gmail address for the second response), but wants to know way more information on me than I will ever give out to a random person. My second email always says, "Sorry, cash only," and that ends the conversation.

So, here are thing things to watch for:
1. An email address that doesn't carry any information you could use to identify the person
2. Nothing in the body of the email to specify the item you are selling
3. Urgency/willingness to pay extra/desire to use an agent on the part of the buyer

If you see these red flags, DON'T give out any information not already in the listing.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

In which Kin Selection Theory is unsupported by real-world evidence

One of the pillars of Darwinian Theology is the doctrine that every organism is driven by a compulsion to pass on its own genes to a future generation. Now, meiosis means that only half of the parent's genes can ever be passed on at any given time. Famous evolutionist J B S Haldane alluded to this when he was asked if he would give his life to save his drowning brother. He is supposed to have said: "No, but I would to save two brothers, or eight cousins."

But what human realistically could be expected to make such a calculation? By this line of reasoning, the discovery that a pregnancy consists of twin fetuses would suffice to change any parent's mind against getting an abortion, when in fact we know that multiple pregnancies are even more likely to bring up the question of termination to those who hadn't otherwise considered it. And this report is just one of many to that could be offered in refutation the doctrine:
Eight-year-old Tyler Doohan will be laid to rest on Wednesday as the most honored of honorary firefighters, saluted by his local fire company as one of its own who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. . . . Tyler then heard calls for help and realized that his disabled grandfather and step-great-grandfather were still inside. Tyler had a particular bond with the grandfather, who was the kind of guy who was always quick to assist a neighbor or to help somebody in need even though he did not have all that much himself. The grandfather, 54-year-old Steven Smith, had lost part of a leg and got around in a wheelchair or on crutches.
So: a pre-pubescent organism risked, and as a result lost, his future ability to procreate in a rather ill-fated attempt to save the life of his grandfather, who was not only past the point of procreation, but even of the sort of organism that is typically selected for culling. Why would he do such a thing? There is no Darwinian explanation for his motivation, but it is exactly the same motivation behind the attempt of a father to save the life of his son--or a grandfather to save the life of his grandson. The evolutionary explanation is nothing but the hopeful figment of an unbeliever's imagination, and posts like this one show that even some evolutionists see Kin Selection Theory as simply a case of wishful thinking: a hypothesis in search of actual evidence.