Sunday, September 20, 2015

"You didn't build that!"

This is how absurd the internet can be.

Apparently there's a whole discussion going on out that about how Ahmed Mohammed didn't "invent" a digital clock because all he did was take apart a 30 year old Radio Shack digital clock and reassemble the components in a pencil box.

And since the 14 year old said "invent," he's guilty of heinous crimes including deluding the Irving police into arresting him and the White House into inviting him to come for a visit.

No, seriously.

I'm a bit baffled by the examination of a photograph from which one can make absolute determinations, and I want to ask if they also checked the kerning.  But whatever:  the kid took components and put them together into a clock.  Were the components assembled and he disassembled a 30 year old clock and made it work again?  Or reassemble it in a pencil box?  Do we have any idea where those components came from?  Can "M" only mean "Micronta"?  (is it even reasonable that that is what it means?)

Inquiring minds want to know.  Or, actually, they don't.*  The author of the dissection insists the point is to focus on our reaction to this story, not to the "hoax clock" itself.  So, of course, Richard Dawkins focusses on the hoax.

Given Dawkins' history of disdaining the non-white countries of the world, maybe not such a smart move for him.

I gotta say:  the internet is a really tiring place.  The trolls can have it; they seem to be the only people here anymore.


Not that this whole discussion is really any different from Frank Gaffney's paranoia:

A picture Gaffney tweeted with the quite reasonable question:  "How is a teacher supposed to know?  A Clock or a Bomb Trigger?"  (Maybe the first clue is:  who plugs in a "bomb trigger"?)


*The point of the "dissection" is supposed to be about our reaction to the device, but the analysis assumes so many facts not in evidence, and so obviously starts with a conclusion it then finds support for, that it's an exercise in futility.  I always assumed Ahmed assembled parts without a blueprint or instructions and figured out how to put a digital clock together from his own knowledge.  If he had the parts, did he know what they were?  How did he know how to assemble them to make them work?  Is it really a Radio Shack item from the '80's?  Did he have it assembled, and took it apart with minimal alteration to put it in a pencil box?

Does it really matter?


  1. If you ever had doubts about Dawkins' smarts, and I know you did, his tweets about a 14 year old teen age boy tinkering with electronics, ought to be enough to confirm the worst. The big red herring of media lies about Jeremy Corbin as an excuse for his asininity had me rolling on the floor.

  2. The tweets in response to Dawkins contain some really stupid non-thinking. The one that claimed that most "Christian" Nobel Laureates were atheists was worthy of an Ignoble award.

    Richard Dawkins is a rather typical upper class British racist, It was one of the more surprising things I learned when more Brit TV was coming here in the 70s how cavalier they were about expressing racism in ways that, before Andrew Dice Clay and the "anti-PC" fad was beyond the limits of tolaration. Even many highly educated Brits who are quite free in expressing racism, many of whom are also atheists, incluidng many who are scientists, as well.

    On the other hand, I'll bet that in most mainline Christian churches in Britain, the expression of racism would be far rarer than among the "secular".

    1. This is an example of what I meant about lawyers v. scientists. The narrative that this is a clock Ahmed disassembled requires too many assumptions for which there is no evidence. Why can't a scientist like Dawkins see that immediately?