Monday, November 26, 2012

Migration Patterns - Why Are @ProLifeCampaign's Followers Mainly American?

Cora Sherlock, deputy chair of the Pro Life Campaign, was kind enough to comment on a recent post where I discussed the organisation's Twitter stats. I encourage you to read both, but for those who can't resist skimming I'll summarise by saying that only ten per cent of this Irish organisation's followers are Irish, and 70% are based in the United States. I'll quote sections of Cora's response for context below.

Cora didn't specify if she was commenting in an official capacity or not. To my mind it is most charitable to assume her words were in a personal capacity and that is the interpretation I will take unless corrected. I should also add that at present I have no reason to believe that Cora runs the @ProLifeCampaign Twitter account - as such any criticism of the account should not be read as directed at Cora. Indeed I'm grateful to her for interacting; it is not a step taken by any other anti-abortion group I've covered.

I've taken the liberty of assigning headers to what I feel are Cora's main points.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pro Life Campaign - an end to carrots?

I approach this post with a certain amount of dread. Any time I look at the Twitter statistics of groups opposed to abortion in Ireland I invariably find myself beating a fresh path to the oft visited conclusion: they're mainly American. It grows harder and harder to provide entertainment to those willing to accompany me on this journey.

Finding the poverty of Irish numbers supporting Youth Defence in my initial post of this sort was quite amusing. But as I worked my way through the Life Institute, Ireland Stand Up, David Quinn and Ronan Mullen, seeing each one dominated by either Americans, men, or American men, using my unique method of pulling Twitter stats began to become more of a chore.

So, this will be my last check of Twitter geography of anti abortion groups in Ireland. My reasoning is simple - I'm out of material. The only two left are the Life Institute (stats given to the excellent Red Lemonader, looking forward to reading her take) and the Pro Life Campaign, which ran last night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Craig's List And The People Of The Law

Sometimes it's nice to start from a point of idle curiosity. In a previous installment I prepared a word cloud of the Twitter biographies of those who follow Stephen Law and William Lane Craig. I drew no conclusions from it; there really wasn't enough hard data.

Stephen Law was kind enough to take an interest and we had a brief Facebook chat. I showed him another post of mine on the Discovery Institute. For that one, I'd pulled a list of everyone who follows the Discovery Institute. They're an anti-evolution group with delusions of science, saying their belief in an Intelligent Designer is not motivated by prior theological conclusions. Taking this list of their followers I then found out what each Intelligent Design fan followed. I put the results into a matrix and found that the majority of Discovery Institute fans have a pronounced primary interest in Christian apologetics and no interest in science.

Much as I enjoyed writing that post I find it hard to approach Craig's followers in a similar manner. For one, it would be ludicrous of me to point out that their primary interest is in Christian apologetics and present it as some sort of unexpected finding. Secondly, having met a few fans of Craig I find they tend to be doing their best to work out this mystery called life and are in the main pleasant folk, willing to converse with those of different viewpoints and generally open-minded. That I do not share their conclusions does not mean I do not hold them in some respect.

Let's look at the top twenty for each. First we'll look at those accounts that are most popular with William Lane Craig followers:

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Are All Savita

The title of this blog post is not original. I saw it on a placard when I marched on Saturday. And the constituent parts of the image below are also not my work - they're the profile pictures of the Twitter followers of @ProudProChoice and @ChoiceIreland. Later, based on welcomed feedback in the comments section I added in 583 profile pictures from the march for Savita Facebook event. (Technical reasons prevent me from viewing more.)

It's a collaborative effort. I know many who grieve are not represented below; unfortunately there's no way for me to get images of everyone. It's flawed and imperfect, but in some small way it shows me that when we work together we can remember someone beautiful.

Now let's remember her through legislation.

Update December 5th, 2012: many more have supported or attended marches calling for legislation on the X case. I've rerun the procedure and produced an updated image - the increased number of supporters has resulted in a much sharper image:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Morbid Make It Happen Foundation

From the Make It Happen Foundation's YouTube channel: "We try to take as many children as possible each year on fun filled excursions and the sad part is some of these children don't make easter [sic] of the following year"

Given that the organisation has existed for less than a year I find this rather disturbing.

ChooseLife2012 twitter stats

I was asked to look at @ChooseLife2012 on Twitter. It's an initiative of the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference, is against abortion, and has a number of tweets on repeat that encourage prayer and talk of embryo development.

I like to think I approach these things with an open mind and listen to those with a different viewpoint. I've made information public on Youth Defence, but I've also made information public on Proud Pro Choice and Choice Ireland. I've offered my services to pro-life groups and feel there is nothing to fear from accurate data.

So what did I find on @ChooseLife2012? Nothing much. The accounts they follow are primarily based in Ireland, are a sane, reasonable and in some cases interesting bunch. Those following them are also based in Ireland. The gender balance seems fair. If pushed for a complaint I'd quite like it if their site didn't say "Volunteer for a pro-life group" without providing clarity on which groups they deem worthy of support. Still, hardly the worst I've encountered.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ronan Mullen Twitter Analysis

I checked @RonanMullen's Twitter account but find it far too dreary to warrant an extended commentary. If you like, reread my piece on David Quinn and do the necessary search and replace.

Instead I offer the stats and images to my fellow bloggers, regardless of position, to do with as they wish.

Do tweet me or comment with a link when done below. If I like, or strongly dislike your take on the numbers I'll be sure to publicise it for you.

Number of followers: 1,202.
Number of people followed: 20
Total number of women followed by Ronan Mullen: Two.(@MiriamOCal and @LCreighton)
Number of those women who follow him back: One. (@LCreighton)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Waterford Street Preachers Talk on Wednesday 28th

Delighted to announce I'll be making a field trip to Waterford on the 28th of this month to give a talk for Waterford Skeptics in the Pub. It will be an extended version of my Street Preachers talk, including oddities from the Hare Krishnas, Young Earth Creationists, Moonies, scientific miracles in the Qur'an, and the pictured representative if the Mormons.

It will be taking place at 7:30pm in The Munster Bar. I'm told I'm moderately amusing. I hope to see some of you there - if you know anyone in the Waterford area who might be interested I'd appreciate it if you passed it on.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

David Quinn - Voice of Irish Women?

Increasingly, when investigating a new Twitter account, I find it useful to start with a word cloud formed from the biographies of its followers. Take David Quinn's for instance. Those of you without laser enhanced vision may prefer to click the image for a larger view.

There is much I am sure he would welcome - Irish Catholic journalist are hardly words from which he would seek distance. Political, views, current affairs, Dublin and media all strike me as fair representations of his fans. I don't deny him his supporters.

But today I look with specific focus. David Quinn has been vocal on women's rights of late. Take his Independent column. Take his numerous tweets. I'm going to take a risk and assume he hasn't declined any media opportunities on the subject. It's clear that it is dear to him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stephen Law Vs William Lane Craig

I quite enjoy Stephen Law. Reading his books helped rid me of an irrational prejudice against philosophy while teaching me something new and in sections giving me a good laugh - do check out the free chapter of Believing Bullshit. I've mentioned William Lane Craig a couple of times on this blog.

They debated some time ago. It was rather good, and at ten to midnight I can't give it a worthy summary but I encourage you to track it down on YouTube if you missed it. About an hour ago the mood struck me to pull a list of each of their followers, pull each person's Twitter biographies, and do a word cloud of the results. No commentary, it's past my bedtime. I'll leave you to guess which is which. Click for big, feel free to reuse the images elsewhere if you like.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Do Youth Defence Really Care About Rape Survivors?

Some time ago I wrote a piece on the typical Youth Defence follower. It was intended to be lighthearted: I listed the various right-wing American personalities and groups followed and wondered aloud why a supposedly Irish organisation would find their members expressing such interest. As my source material I gave a list of other groups followed by those who deem Youth Defence of interest.

As a closing comment I mentioned that there were no Irish charities on the list. (There’s one US-based charity.) Shortly afterwards I was contacted by a new friend who asked if I could get her some more details. The script I used to pool the accounts followed by Youth Defence followers had a cut-off of 11 – it was conceivable that ten Youth Defence fans supported a specific Irish charity. Nick Beard wanted to know how many, if any, supported charities that work with rape survivors.

I’d like to frame the discussion by opening with a quote from, a front organisation based in the same building and using the same staff as Youth Defence:

“Victims need real support not a quick-fix solution like abortion. Rape is a terrible crime against women. Victims need our support and sympathy. We should be doing a great deal more to protect and help them.” -link

Do they live by this maxim?

Thoughts on Remembrance Day

I’ve spent all but a year of my life living within walking distance of Glasnevin cemetery. It’s a fascinating place, to my knowledge the first secular cemetery in this nation and a treasure trove of history. Last year I managed to find the final resting place of an aunt who’d died shortly after birth – the information had been lost for half a century. It was a very moving time and I commend the trust’s helpful staff and volunteers.

You may wonder at the relevance. It has a sizeable section dedicated to Irish war dead from WWI and WWII. Many had lain in unmarked and unremembered graves for decades. Between 2010 and 2011 Glasnevin Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected headstones for Irish servicemen and women, researching their past and contacting surviving relatives. Last year there was a rededication of war memorials in the cemetery.

It’s interesting to note that there are more names on the memorials than there are graves. This is in part because fighting for the British was often frowned on and it was not uncommon for volunteers to give a false name for fear of reprisal against themselves or their families. Our war dead are certainly fewer in number than those of other countries, and steady pay was of course a motive for some, but we can say that they were all volunteers and did not enlist against a backdrop of a war-supporting society.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Make It Happen Foundation and the Case of the Disappearing Hospitals

I've spoken of the Make It Happen Foundation before. Ostensibly a charity it was noted by its absence from the Revenue's list of approved charities. It seems key members of staff also worked on a previous venture which lost Revenue approval and was wound up for failing to pay suppliers. The sparse text on their website appears to contain content copied from the Make A Wish Foundation, a recognised, worthy charity.

Their front page advertises "Hospitals Associated with the MIHF":
A morbid sense of curiosity led me to click the link which delivered me to the following establishments. Click for a larger image:

You'll note "Bernardos", a misspelling of Barnardos, Ireland's leading children's charity. The entry is completed by the Dublin address of their teenage support programme and the Limerick phone number of their family support service. The prefix is incorrect.

Immediately below we find the Children's Sunshine Home. They also operate as the Laura Lynn house and are Ireland's first and only children's hospice.

I do quite enjoy programming as a method of finding information, but just occasionally it can be simpler to ask the question.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post: White, British and now a Muslim

Twitter can be a voyeuristic pursuit and I enjoy reading microupdates from those whose views are different from my own. I don't recall when or why I started following Rayyan, but I've enjoyed the experience. He's mid twenties, a doting father and a hardworking student. He has more on his plate than I do! Despite this he's spent a lot of time wondering about this great mystery called life.

I feel a little guilty having asked him to write a guest post. Knowing his schedule I've likely deprived him of many hours of sleep, but his is an interesting perspective and he was enthusiastic to share his thoughts here. About four months ago he embraced Islam. I've read a translation of the Qur'an and listened to those who I'd describe as professional speakers on Islam, but when following Rayyan I learned that the discussions generated by a recent convert can be amongst the most interesting and insightful.

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.

May God give you peace and bless you all, I would like to thank our friend Geoff for giving me the opportunity of writing here on his webpage. Today I aim to give a brief introduction as to who I am and God willing move on to three common misconceptions of Islam today.

My name is Rayyan, I’m a 25 year old man, blessed with a five year old daughter who lives with me full time (lone parent), and I lose my house keys at least three times a year. I invested a year self-studying religion and four months ago today declared I believe in one God and I accept Mohammed as God’s slave and final messenger. If I may, I ask you all to have an open mind and try to be free of all media influence such as the news and ask you not to associate culture with Islam e.g. forced marriages, honour killings etc.