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Mark Honeychurch

Coder, Skeptic, Humanist

WORK

I am an IT professional with 20 years in the field, focusing on both support and development. I have a passion for technology.

CODE

I write software for work and for fun, using modern tools. I like helping people to adopt new technologies, and I teach kids how to code.

PLAY

I am an active Skeptic and Humanist, with a common sense view of the world. I work to inform the public and protect them from nonsense.

My Recent Ramblings

  • August 18, 2021

  • Ouch!

    Today is the first day of a new lockdown, now that we have new COVID cases in New Zealand. It must be annoying for anyone who has a special occasion planned for today, like a birthday - hopefully they'll be able to make the best of it!

    8 min read, 1434 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Exercise

  • August 9, 2021

  • Hate Speech Submission

    The NZ Skeptics put together a submission for the Ministry of Justice in response to their new Hate Speech proposals. You can read the submission on our website, but I thought it would be fun to use EleutherAI's free online GPT-J-6G deep learning model to write a submission for us. I gave the software the first few paragraphs of our real submission, and then clicked the button to guess the next hundred or so words. I then fed the result back into the algorithm so that it could create the next block of text, and so on.

    7 min read, 1256 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Free Speech

  • QAnonsense

    Using an older algorithm, GPT-2, with a fairly small data set that it had been pre-trained on, I fine tuned this particular piece of software on the entire back catalogue of QAnon posts. Below are 6 QAnon posts - three are the genuine article, and three are fakes created by GPT-2. Can you figure out which is which?

    2 min read, 349 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy, QAnon

  • July 21, 2021

  • Conspiracy Farmers

    There is an increasingly vocal sub-set of farmers around the country who are buying into conspiracy theories. A group called the Agricultural Action Group - AAG - have been touring the country in recent months warning people about what they consider to be the real issues facing not just farmers but all citizens of our country:

    3 min read, 410 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy

  • Psychic Kelvin is on tour

    Sensing Murder psychic Kelvin Cruickshank is currently touring the country. He’s been down in the South Island recently, visiting Christchurch and a lot of smaller towns, and selling tickets at $65 a pop. Next month he’ll be touring the North Island.

    3 min read, 502 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Psychics

  • Famous actress jailed for her role in NXIVM

    Allison Mack was once famous for her role in the TV show Smallville, a spin-off show about Superman. However, a few years ago she joined a group called NXIVM (Nexium) who promised to help her on the path to enlightenment and happiness. The group pulled in more famous people, including other TV celebrities, the director of What the Bleep Do We Know, and the Bronfman sisters, heirs to the Seagram fortune.

    3 min read, 585 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Cults

  • When scientists go wrong

    Mahin Khatami looks at first blush to be a respectable scientist - she has a long history as a scientist spanning decades, used to work for the NIH (National Institutes for Health) in the US as a program director, and has not only been published in respectable peer reviewed journals but has also been a journal editor.

    2 min read, 361 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, Retraction

  • July 7, 2021

  • Birds aren’t real

    I’ve just learned about the absolutely fun conspiracy that is “birds aren’t real”. According to the theory, the CIA in the 1950s were trying to solve two hard problems. Firstly, they wanted to be able to secretly spy on the entire population of the United States. Secondly, they needed to stop birds pooping on their cars in the CIA headquarters car park. These two seemingly disconnected problems gave birth to the genius idea to replace all the birds in America with flying camera drones that look just like birds. As the Birds Aren’t Real twitter account states:

    3 min read, 445 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy, Poe's Law

  • June 30, 2021

  • Lady Crown

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago about lawyer Liz Lambert’s effort to claim a small part of New Zealand - the Abel Tasman National Park - as her own property, which she’s called New Freeland. Well, it turns out that she’s worried about an organisation who have not just claimed Allodial Title over a piece of land, but have claimed sovereignty over the entirety of New Zealand. Liz has been warning anyone who will listen that this rival group, the Crown of the Mauri Nation, have secretly entered into an agreement with the government to hand over the keys to our country.

    4 min read, 701 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Sovereign Citizen

  • Earth 2

    I enjoy playing computer games, and own a gaming PC and a VR headset. So when I heard about an ambitious new game for PCs, VR and phones, it piqued my interest. The game is called Earth2, and is pipped to be a 1:1 copy of earth, with a faithful reproduction of the entire planet in software. Their website makes comparisons to the movies The Matrix and Ready Player One, both of which feature VR environments that are indistinguishable from reality. This sounds pretty ambitious, maybe too ambitious!

    4 min read, 782 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Scam, Gaming

  • Fun With Numbers!

    While trawling conspiracy websites and videos, as I tend to do for fun, I stumbled across a recommendation for a local kiwi numerologist. But the recommendation said that, unlike the usual mystical nonsense, this particular numerologist uses science and maths to find real patterns that are actually useful.

    6 min read, 1097 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Numerology

  • June 29, 2021

  • Picking Locks the Movie Way

    For the last few months I've been honing my lock picking skills, by buying up as many cheap locks as I can find. Recycle shops have been great places to grab residential door locks, and I've found some bargains on TradeMe for padlocks. However, I got to thinking about the way that locks are often picked in movies, TV shows and computer games - with a bobby pin.

    3 min read, 418 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Random , Tags: Lockpicking, Fallout

  • June 23, 2021

  • Petition for a Military Coup in NZ

    Someone called Daryl Trask has recently placed a petition on change.org asking people to sign their support for an overthrow of our government. The petition says:

    4 min read, 707 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Coup

  • US Senator has novel plan to combat climate change

    US Senator Louie Gohmert, from Texas, has recently asked the country’s Forestry Service if they can look into a thought he’s had about how to combat climate change:

    3 min read, 552 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Climate Change

  • Proof of UFOs is “just around the corner”...

    Now that I’ve found out about Rebel Wisdom, I’m hooked. I usually have to go hunting for my nonsense, but the Rebel Wisdom website has everything in one place: Rupert Sheldrake (who has silly ideas about supernatural mental powers), Alan Watts (who has silly ideas about religion and philosophy) and Jordan Peterson (who has silly ideas about all sorts of things) are all featured.

    5 min read, 926 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: UFOs

  • June 19, 2021

  • Using AI to create a new religion

    I've always been fascinated by religious holy texts - they're such a product of the time they are written, and generally have little or no useful information for how to live one's life, unless you're willing to "interpret" them with a distorting lens that helps to bring them in line with modern ideas of how we should behave and treat each other. But, if I were to create a new religion, or cult, how would I go about it? Writing an entire book seems like hard work, so what if I could train some kind of deep learning bot on existing religious texts and then ask it to use its knowledge to create a new holy book.

    6 min read, 1029 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Code , Tags: Code, Religon