shhh. Do you hear the beast thrashing?

(Yes, I know the source. But I believe even Al-Jazeera can be right. And more often than some think.)

The Bitter Tears of the American Christian Super-majority, by Chase Madar.Myth-of-Persecution

The most persecuted minority in the United States is not Muslims, African-Americans or immigrants. It’s our Christian supermajority that’s truly oppressed.

Verily, consider three anecdotes from the past few weeks.

On March 2, three Baptist ministers in Akron, Ohio, arranged for the local police to mock-arrest them in their churches and haul them away in handcuffs for the simple act of preaching their faith. A video was posted on YouTube to drum up buzz for an upcoming revival show. A few atheist blogs object to uniformed police taking part in a church publicity stunt, but far more people who saw the YouTube video (24,082 views), in Ohio and elsewhere, took this media stunt as reality — confirmation of their wildest fears about a government clampdown on Christianity.

On Feb. 26, Arizona’s conservative Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to people who violate their sincerely held religious beliefs — for example, gays and lesbians. Fox News pundit Todd Starnes tweeted that Christians have been demoted to second-class citizenship in Arizona, an opinion widely shared on the right-wing Christian blogosphere, which sees Brewer’s veto as a harbinger of even greater persecution to come.

And the feature film “Persecuted,” a political thriller about a federal government plan to censor Christianity in the name of liberalism, is due out in May. Featuring former Sen. Fred Thompson and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, the movie received a rapturous reception at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on March 10 and is of a piece with other Christian films such as “God’s Not Dead,” about a freshman believer bullied into proving the existence of god by an atheist professor.

Far from reality

Needless to say (or maybe not) this news ticker of persecuted American Christians floats far and free from reality. More than 75 percent of the United States identifies as Christian; 57 percent believe in the devil, and nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe the Bible to be either the “inspired word” or literal word of God. Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, the government began under President George W. Bush to outsource social welfare programs to faith-based organizations (more than 98 percent, according to one 2006 study, of them Christian churches), and schools with religious ties (mostly Christian) in several states are now well fed by direct public subsidies. But then, American places of worship (again, most of them Christian) have long enjoyed a de facto public subsidy as tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations funded by tax-deductible contributions. Last month President Barack Obama himself held forth at National Prayer Breakfast about the importance of Jesus in his life.

To be sure, there are Christians in the world who face persecution, from Copts in Egypt to Catholics in northern Nigeria. But in the U.S., the Christian faith and its institutions have never been more pampered by the state.

And yet the persecution complex of American Christianity blares its sirens, well beyond the surly hype about a “war on Christmas” that has become as much a part of the yuletide season as eggnog. Take the Catholic bishop of Peoria, Ill., Daniel R. Jenky, sermonizing in 2012 against the Affordable Care Act, blasting it as of a piece with governments that “have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide within the confines of their churches,” not skimping on comparisons to Stalinism and Nazism. Texas Gov. Rick Perry asserted that “Satan is attacking the great institutions of America” and vowed to “end Obama’s war on religion” during his 2012 presidential campaign. Another former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney also accused Obama of waging a war on religion. Right-wing Christians have even had the gall to conscript anti-Nazi Protestant martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer to their cause, comparing his persecution to their hysterical simulacrum.

Overdogs

What accounts for this orgy of self-pity? Part of it is hard-wired into Christianity itself, says Candida Moss, a biblical scholar at Notre Dame University and the author of the recent book “The Myth of Christian Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom.”

The persecution of Christians is the historical equivalent of a false memory, she argues. Early Christians were persecuted by Rome only sporadically, less for religious heterodoxy than for political insubordination in an empire that was draconian across the board. Early Christian writers Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Tertullian chronicled such incidents as proof of the faith’s righteousness, laying a scriptural basis for a self-image of eternal persecution.

But it was Eusebius, bishop of Caesaria and the first important historian of the church, who “encoded the understanding of the church as persecuted into the history of Christianity itself.” His martyrdom stories and those of other fourth century hagiographers were written to shore up orthodoxy (writers used martyrs as sock puppets to denounce heretics) and drum up tourism for local shrines. These tales of persecution — full of blood, cruelty and dodgy “facts” — were enjoyed at the time, Moss writes, much in the way that modern audiences take in horror movies, and the lowbrow gore has long been justified by embarrassed exegetes as a response to the strain of persecution. Except, as Moss argues, the textual evidence indicates all these tales of persecution were composed after, not before, Christianity had become the favored religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century. In short, they belong to an invented tradition of victimization.

With mass alienation from both major political parties and a labor movement that appears to be expiring, the only institutional outlet for the shared grievances of millions of Americans is their church.

Historical record aside, who can resist the deliciousness of having both the upper hand of power and the righteousness of the oppressed? Such persecution mania is dangerous, writes Moss, because “martyrdom is easily adapted by the powerful to cast themselves as victims and justifying their polemical and vitriolic attacks on others,” as freshly empowered Christians swiftly proved by trashing pagan temples and punctuating the centuries since with internecine bloodbaths and the odd crusade.

Moss’ study has earned favorable reviews for its scrupulous scholarship; it has also aroused much nastiness from Christian critics. Even before the book was released, she told me via email, it was denounced by conservative Christian commentators and she has since received hundreds of angry messages, letters and phone calls. She wrote:

Most of these people appear not to have actually read the book but, rather, have heard about it and see it as a further example of persecution. Many of them write to the university and ask it to fire me. An alarming number think that I deserve to be beaten, raped or killed (although blessedly very few of them threaten me directly). Many of the comments are about my character and appearance, but I hear that’s very common for female writers. I’ve been called a “female Judas Iscariot”, a “demon,” possessed by Satan, evil, the Antichrist and a Holocaust denier. 

All of which only confirms Moss’ point about how belligerent some Christians can be in their dealings with heterodoxy — always under the pretense of a righteous response to an alien threat.

Apart from its roots in church history, this persecution complex also stems from day-to-day experience in 21st century America. The United States is, after all, a frequently humiliating place to work and live, with fewer social protections and weaker labor laws, compared with other rich countries, and an increasingly thuggish criminal justice system. “If all the cross marked was someone’s humiliation, then the pavement would be so thick with crosses, there would be no space to walk,” as the parish newsletter of St. Brigid’s in Brooklyn, N.Y., once put it — and quite accurately too.

With mass alienation from both major political parties and a labor movement that, bright spots aside, appears to be expiring, the only institutional outlet for the shared grievances of millions of Americans is their church. A great many Christian churches and other places of worship channel these social energies into mutual support and good works that add to the commonweal. But some of these energies also find expression in a centuries-old persecution mania, with its distinctly belligerent edge.

Posted in Atheism, Delusion, Ethical behavior, History, Mythology, Psychology, Religion | 4 Comments

Allegories Gone Stupid: More Homophobia Hiding Behind A Mask Of Love….

(Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist)choicestraight

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

It is a continual source of amazement for those of us who aren’t entirely too jaded: here we have a malevolent, nasty, petty psychopath who for the entire duration of the Old Testament behaved in such a way that by today’s standards, would be put under heavy antipsychotic meds and locked up in an asylum for the criminally insane.

“But wait!” we are told, “these are New Testament times!”

So this gawd character forces himself on some woman, has a kid, and suddenly he’s completely mellowed out?

How odd. How very….human.

And thanks to this outdated horse manure, we have the Christians to thank for polluting our children’s minds with anachronistic barbaric stupidity masquerading as heart-felt worry.

And here is the intro to the Day of Dialogue – a day where heteros get to gang up (nicely! with LOVE!) on LGBT folks.

As a high school or college student, do you wish your classmates could hear more of the story—like the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality?

The Iliad has more authenticity than that wretched grimoire.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a deeper and freer conversation could happen when controversial sexual topics are brought up in your school?

It’s called Sex Education – something most religious parents veto when presented with a permission slip.

The good news is, it can—and that’s where Day of Dialogue® comes in. In contrast to the whole idea of silence, this is a day that encourages open dialogue.

Christlation: “We’ll force our beliefs on you in the name of looovvveee

Watch the Day of Dialogue video Focus on the Family firmly believes that the truth will rise to the surface when honest conversations are allowed to happen.

My anecdotal experience is, that religious folks tend to run in the other direction when confronted with any truth.

And that’s why we’re so excited that we’ve become the sponsor for this event. The Day of Dialogue gives you, as a student, the opportunity to express the true model presented by Jesus Christ in the Bible—who didn’t back away from speaking truth, but neither held back in pouring out His incredible, compassionate love for hurting and vulnerable people.

The mythical man-child who contradicted himself consistently? Where the fuck was he during the Holocaust, anyways?

His example calls us to stand up for those being harmed or bullied while offering the light of what God’s Word says.

Yeah, because being mythical means you don’t have to do shit.

And the event gives you a chance to express this balanced perspective in a loving and peaceful way.

By telling people that some imaginary friend is going to shovel them into a furnace? Yeah, rrriggghhttt…

This year, Day of Dialogue happens on April 10—so make plans to participate in your school or college.

There should be a law keeping these hairy-eyed fanatics OUT of our schools.

You can also join us on our Facebook page and on Twitter to get updates, as well as to check out students’ feedback and interact with Day of Dialogue fans.

Well, it’s a few days late, but what the hey. Maybe some of us should go to their Facebook page, and start another ‘dialogue’, one where their utterly infantile nonsense is exposed as witless ignorance, not the youthful sweetness they hide behind.

Even after the event, you can still keep the conversation going at your school and in your neighborhood with the D.O.D. Weekly Challenges and teen-friendly articles and accompanying conversation-starter questions. Get the Dialogue started!

It’s more like the Day of Dipshits. It’s more frightening that they are brainwashing children (don’t get me wrong, I like kids, but for the most part, they’re thick as shit and believe everything they’re told, which is why we as adults make decisions for them, and why they don’t get to decide their own curricula).

The resources and manpower spent on these ludicrous displays of infantile servility would be best served focusing on eliminating hunger, and house the 10 million-odd children gone homeless world-wide. But oh no, here in America, we spend our resources like a drunken sailor on leave on idiocies like homophobia and stifling women’s reproductive rights.

The sooner we’re done with this nonsense, the better.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Bad God!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Gay Marriage, Religion, Sexuality, Stupidity, Superstition | 6 Comments

More On The Madness Of Muslims–The Thought Police Wear Thawbs

jesusandmomisapprehensionTo speak specifically of our problem with the Muslim world, we are meandering into a genuine clash of civilizations, and we’re deluding ourselves with euphemisms. We’re talking about Islam being a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by extremists. If ever there were a religion that’s not a religion of peace, it is Islam. – Sam Harris

Is anyone surprised at this?

Saudi Arabia’s New Law Defines Atheism as “Terrorism”, Bans All Criticism of Government

Humanist and secular organizations, as well as civil liberties and human rights groups around the world, have responded with outrage to the news that a new law in Saudi Arabia equates “atheism” with “terrorism”.

The Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing criminalizes as “terrorism” all free expression on a vast range of topics, including advocacy of “atheist thought”, criticism of Islam as it is understood by the state, and any expression deemed to “insult the reputation of the state”.

Saudia Arabia is a current and recently-elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Details of the law

Article 1 of the “terrorism” law prohibits “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.” The law was introduced by royal decree without judicial oversight.

Domestic “terrorism” is defined in the decree as “any act” (expressly including non-violent acts) which among other things is intended to “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “shake the security of society”. The terms are very broad, and and could be used to prosecute any criticism of the state, its king or officials, or the state conception of Islam.

The provisions of the “terrorism” law define and outlaw numerous acts and forms of expression as “terrorism”, including:

  • “Calling for atheist thought in any form”;
  • any disloyalty “to the country’s rulers”, or anyone “who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom]“;
  • anyone who aids, affiliates, or holds “sympathy” with any “terrorist” organization as defined by the act, which “includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form”;
  • contact with groups or individuals who are “hostile to the kingdom”
  • and the article on “Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion” prohibits all protest, without qualification as to its message or intent, by outlawing “calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form”.

Unsurprising. Also un-fucking-believable. The hypocrisy of it all. This group has tried multiple times to get special compensation for their particular fantasies.

Imagine that. A group of people who believe

    1. That a pregnant camel popped out of a stone,
    2. That their ‘profit’ (peanut butter and jelly be upon him) split the moon in half, but only for a select few,
    3. That their ‘profit’ (peanut butter and jelly be upon him) rode to the moon on a winged horse with a woman’s face.

This then is the epitome, the culmination of all the accomodationists’ fuzzy wuzzy feel good nonsense –theocracy. The iron fist in the metal-studded glove. The booted heel (in this case, the sandaled heel) brought down on the neck of the poor and uninformed. It is our worst fears realized.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, Blasphemy, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Free speech, Islam, Mythology, Politics, Religion, Stupidity, Superstition | 9 Comments

Rattling The Cages Of The Anthrocentric Anti-Intellectuals

antiintellectualismI’m tired of ignorance held up as inspiration, where vicious anti-intellectualism is considered a positive trait, and where uninformed opinion is displayed as fact.”
Phil Plait

Honestly, I have to admit that items like this fill me with a childish glee:

Cosmic terror: Why Neil deGrasse Tyson has religious fundamentalists so freaked

The new Cosmos TV series airing on Fox is a worthy reboot of Carl Sagan’s original. Following in Sagan’s footsteps, host Neil deGrasse Tyson takes viewers on a voyage through the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond, showing how our sun is just one star out of a hundred billion in the majestic spiral of the Milky Way galaxy, and even the Milky Way itself is a speck in the observable universe. As in the original series, he compresses the history of the universe into a single year, showing that on that scale, the human species emerges only in the last few seconds before midnight on December 31.

Sagan’s Cosmos was due for an update, and not just because our computer graphics are better. Since the original series aired, we’ve sent robotic rovers to Mars, sampling its rocks and exploring its history. We’ve detected hundreds of alien planets outside the solar system, finding them by the slight gravitational wobble they cause in their home stars, or by the brief dips in light as they pass across the star’s face as seen from Earth. We’ve found the Higgs boson, the elusive and long-theorized particle that endows everything else with mass. We’ve discovered that the expansion of the Universe which began with the Big Bang is accelerating, driven by a mysterious force called dark energy. All these scientific advances deserve to be recognized and celebrated.

The story of Cosmos is also the story of human beings. For the vast majority of our history as a species, we were wanderers, small hunter-gatherer bands. Civilization is a recent innovation, arising within the last few thousand years, and science is more recent still, appearing only in the last few hundred. But in just those few short centuries, we’ve made dramatic strides, from wooden sailing ships to space shuttles, bloodletting to bionic limbs, quill pens to the Internet. We’ve drawn back the curtain on ancient mythologies and glimpsed the true immensity of time and space. Compared to that vastness, we’re unimaginably small and insignificant; yet we possess an intelligence and a power of understanding that, as far as we still know, is unique among all the countless worlds. As Carl Sagan said, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

However, not everyone accepts this as a positive development. There have always been those who prefer a small, comprehensible cosmos, with human beings placed firmly at the center. The religious belief systems that posit such a universe were our first, fumbling attempts to explain the origin of the world, and they rarely share power gladly. Those who clash against conventional wisdom, who dare to suggest that the cosmos holds wonders undreamed of in conventional mythology, have always found themselves in grave peril from the gatekeepers of dogma who presume to dictate the thoughts human beings should be permitted to think.

The first episode of the new Cosmos graphically illustrates this with the story of Giordano Bruno, a 16th-century monk who argued that the sun was a star like all the rest, and that every star had its own planets and its own living beings. Bruno wasn’t a scientist, as the show makes clear: his cosmological views flowed from his mystical, pantheist theology, not from evidence. But that made no difference to the Inquisition, which imprisoned and tortured Bruno, and when he refused to recant, burned him at the stake. His statue still stands in the Campo dei Fiori where he was executed, facing the Vatican as if accusing those who murdered him.

There’s also Bruno’s contemporary, Galileo Galilei, the astronomer who discovered the moons of Jupiter and argued for the heliocentric solar system. As a reward for his revolutionary scientific work, he was judged suspect of heresy by the Inquisition and forced to abjure his own work under threat of torture; his books were banned and he was sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life. The story of Galileo’s persecution is so well-known that I’d hesitate to retell it yet again, if it weren’t for the fact that church apologists like Jay Wesley Richards are still defending and soft-pedaling it.

In fact, even Bruno’s torture and execution still have their defenders, like the creationist site Evolution News and Views, or professional outrage-monger William Donohue of the Catholic League, who ludicrously claimed that the Spanish Inquisition was a good thing. A Catholic cardinal, Angelo Sodano, likewise said in 2000 that the inquisitors who condemned Bruno “had the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life.”

And from Carl Sagan’s original series, one more cautionary tale: the story of Hypatia of Alexandria, a philosopher, astronomer and mathematician who lived in fourth-century Egypt in the waning days of the Roman Empire. Christianity was on the rise and bent on stamping out pagan ideas, and Hypatia was despised by the local bishop, Cyril of Alexandria, who hated her for her friendship with the governor and the different worldview she represented. Despite the personal danger she was in, she continued to study and to teach until, one day, she was assaulted in the street by a mob of Christian fanatics who dragged her from her chariot and hacked her to death with tiles. Her works were destroyed, her books lost. Cyril was made a saint. (Hypatia’s life and death were dramatized in the 2009 film Agora, starring Rachel Weisz.)

But this kind of persecution isn’t just a relic of ancient history. While we’re thankfully past the days when scientists could be stoned in the streets or imprisoned by church tribunals, the anti-science spirit is alive and virulent in the world today, waving away facts that disagree with its ideology and seeking to silence or intimidate those who speak inconvenient truths.

We can see this most clearly with one of the most urgent issues confronting the human species, the danger of global climate change. While it’s a matter of uncontroversial fact among scientists that the burning of fossil fuels is changing the Earth’s climate in perilous ways, climate science is far less accepted among the public, driven by fierce resistance from those who have an ideological reason for disbelieving it.

The renowned climate scientist Michael Mann, whose work forms the basis for United Nations climate reports and the famous “hockey stick” graph that illustrates global temperature rises, has been the subject of continual harassment by conservative legislators, including frivolous subpoenas by Ken Cuccinelli, the former right-wing attorney general of Virginia, accusing him of scientific fraud. In other localities, the right-wing response to climate change has reached epic levels of head-in-the-sand denial, such as when the North Carolina legislature passed a lawforbidding science to be used in forecasting future sea-level rise.

Religious groups have joined the banner of climate-change denial as well, calling the environmental movement a pagan religion and arguing that global warming is a nonissue because the Bible says God won’t allow the Earth to change too much. When moderate evangelical Richard Cizik argued that Christians should devote more time to environmental issues, he was pressured and eventually forced to resign his vice-presidential position in the National Association of Evangelicals by religious-right groups who said that talking about global warming would “shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time.”

The theory of evolution is, if anything, even more convincingly established than climate change—if only because it has the benefit of over a hundred years of diligent scientific work in support of it—yet it too runs into roadblocks of resistance from religious conservatives.

A Pew poll from last year found that a majority of Republican voters are creationists, and church-state separation groups routinely hear reports of creationists working as teachers in public schools and preaching their beliefs in the classroom. Just last month, Bill Nye the Science Guy publicly debated Ken Ham, a creationist who believes the universe is only 6,000 years old—which is, for the record, considerably younger than the oldest cities on the planet—and who wants to build a theme park dedicated to the genetically and geologically impossible proposition that every species on the planet is descended from just two individuals who sailed on Noah’s ark.

But while future generations will suffer the consequences of climate change, and rejecting evolution deprives us of a keystone in the scientific understanding of our place in the world, the deadly consequences of the anti-scientific mindset can most clearly be seen in the anti-vaccination movement.

Thanks to the unsubstantiated fear-mongering of celebrities with no medical or scientific credentials, vaccination rates are declining and herd immunity has weakened—with the entirely predictable consequence that highly contagious diseases like measles and whooping cough have reemerged, including in cities and countries that had long been free of them. Vaccination is one of the simplest, safest and most effective medical interventions ever invented, and the diseases it prevents are killers (yes, even chicken pox). There’s no reason whatsoever why people (mostly children) should still suffer and die from them, other than a foolish and tragic lack of trust in scientific knowledge.

These stories go on and on, from antichoice groups pushing the pseudoscientific myth that IUDs and other contraceptive methods cause abortions or spreading falsehoods about the health risks of abortion, to the gun paranoia lobby demanding prohibitions on using public money to study gun violence. But no matter the field or the discovery, the ideologically driven rejection of science diminishes and impoverishes us in ways even beyond the immediate, practical harm it causes.

Science is the most powerful tool ever invented for the expansion of our intellectual horizon, and even besides its concrete benefits, it’s done us the immeasurable service of helping reveal our place in a vast, ancient and wondrous universe. Through following the scientific method, we’ve learned that we are congealed stardust, the heavy elements of our bodies forged in supernovae; we’ve learned that we were shaped by evolution, our DNA reaching back in an unbroken chain of descent to the origin of life on Earth, expanding outward to bind us to every other living organism in a tree of kinship.

These profound revelations ought to have far more power to move and inspire us than any human-centered mythology — and they ought to expand our moral horizons as well, by showing us our fragility and fundamental equality at the genetic and cognitive level. While science can be misused to create tools of terrible destruction, there have been at least as many times when it resolutely refused to confirm popular prejudices, and so it’s no surprise that it’s so often hated by regressive, superstitious, authoritarian world views both religious and political.

Other than my perception of science as a tool in and of itself, a glorious point.

On a personal note, I recall when my family moved from a bad part of Union City into the pretty suburbs of Pleasanton. Thinking, “oh, but this place has got to be different”, I proceeded to show off the intellect I had had to go to great lengths to hide in my prior environment.

Boy, was I wrong. It resulted in some boyish bruises and more lessons hard learned.

My somewhat anecdotal point is this: tribalism has outlived its usefulness. Perhaps at some point in the collective gestalt/conscience of our species will rise past these inept, insane, unnecessary defense mechanisms. How many other children in the world have been harassed, bullied, horrendously mistreated, for the innocent crime of being smart? It’s a pre-programmed response in this country now, that dates back to whom knows when.

And that’s a whole lotta work for those of us who understand that – because if the bleat goes on, so does the struggle. And educating others can be exhausting sometimes.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in America's image, Catholic church, Climate Change, Crazy fundies, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Superstition, Values | 4 Comments

Are you deep in a hole? May I suggest you STOP digging???

(Infidel753 was kind enough to point his aggregator on atheistoasis.com and Naomi45. It seems I-753 found us on the blog “SquatloRant” who has us listed on HIS blog-roll. {Thanks, guys!})

Don't laugh at me! It's not funny!

Don’t laugh at me! It’s not funny!

Let’s look down in that hole I mentioned. Buckle up, please. We’re about to look at reputable scientists, issues of “conspiracist ideation”, “climate change”, libertarians and the weak-kneed publisher that accidentally gave “diggers” a bigger shovel.

The Paper They Don’t Want You to Read, by Pharyngula, via Infidel753. Teaser:

The climate change denialists are a bit thin-skinned; they’ve also been exposed as a bit on the wacko side. The journal Frontiers in Psychology is about to retract a paper that found that denialists tend to have a cluster of weird beliefs (NASA faked the moon landings, the CIA was in charge of the assassination of political figures in the US, etc.) because the denialists screamed very loudly.

This outrage first arose in response to a paper, NASA faked the moon landing–Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (pdf) which analyzed voluntary surveys submitted by readers of climate science blogs, in which the respondents freely admitted to having a collection of other beliefs, in addition to climate change denial. That paper found something else interesting, and was the primary correlation observed: a lot of denialists are libertarians. Are you surprised?

[...]By implication, the role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science did not simply reflect “convenience” theories that provided specific alternative “explanations” for a scientific consensus. Instead, this finding suggests that a general propensity to endorse any of a number of conspiracy theories predisposes people to reject entirely unrelated scientific facts.

Oh, how they howled.

[...]What they didn’t realize was that they were generating more data to support the hypothesis. The authors of the first paper then wrote a second paper, the one that is now being retracted by the cowardly publisher, called Recursive Fury: Conspiracist Ideation in the Blogosphere in Response to Research on Conspiracist Ideation, in which they scanned public posts and comments on the first article, and analyzed the text for evidence of conspiracist tropes (it’s a nefarious scheme, they’re out to get us, it’s an organized movement to defeat us, etc.) and found that yes, conspiracist reasoning was quite common on climate change denial blogs.

[...]

The squawking reached a new crescendo. Steve McIntyre wrote a strongly wordedformal letter demanding that the defamatory article be removed, and accusing the authors of malice. Further, they complained that analyzing the content of blog posts and comments, public, openly accessible work, was an ethics violation.

Ludicrous as those claims are, Frontiers in Psychology is apparently about to fold to them. For shame.

[...]All I can say is that, thanks to the denialist ratfuckers, now everyone is going to be far more interested in reading the two papers by Lewandowsky and others. I recommend that you read Motivated rejection of science (pdf) and Recursive fury(pdf) now, or anytime — they’re archived on the web. You might also stash away a copy yourself. You make a denialist cry every time you make a copy, you know.

__________

[...]

The first author on the papers, Stephan Lewandowsky, has a few comments.

The strategies employed in those attacks follow a common playbook, regardless of which scientific proposition is being denied and regardless of who the targeted scientists are: There is cyber-bullying and public abuse by “trolling” (which recent research has linked to sadism); there is harassment by vexatious freedom-of-information (FOI) requests; there are the complaints to academic institutions; legal threats; and perhaps most troubling, there is the intimidation of journal editors and publishers who are acting on manuscripts that are considered inconvenient.

So, there you have it: a “certain type” runs off his mouth about something he knows nothing about but believes it will inconvenience him (or cost him money or it involves a tax). When the mouth-running trips him up (foot in mouth syndrome?) and he finds he has been quoted, he first denies it, then says it’s all false (Conspiracy! The Kenyan!)  and then people (none of whom he respects — but, still) start to laugh and quote him even more. By now, he is thrashing about, howling about he “gets no respect”. Time to go online: deny, troll relentlessly, deny some more and begin an intimidation regimen. Finally, he chooses: threaten bodily harm OR threaten a lawsuit. What to choose? What to choose? It all depends on (1) how well he manages anger; (2) how powerful his friends are; (3) is this the time to clean his pistol; and (4) how low his lawyer is willing to go.

Cyber-bullying and its wicked step-brother, sadism, could carry the day. But I think, this time, the deep hole may well swallow him/them whole.

AND I had the choice to remove the tag “atheist” and turned it down. I have, on occasion, read blog posts written by “atheist” libertarians. Some made sense; most did not. I have, on one occasion, spoken with two “liberal” libertarians. This time, I never found the liberality. I now believe they thought DrinkingLiberally meant “drinking with libertarians” — or Liberally meant “drink til you pass out or puke”.

My take on libertarians is simple. They all have a menu with three long columns: A/Money Issues, B/Liberty Issues and C/Behavioral Issues. When they want to justify themselves or present themselves to others, they consult their menu. With them, not much is carved in stone. Their fungible menu is their bible.

Posted in Atheism, Climate Change, Ethical behavior, Libertarians, Politics, Psychology, Science, Stupidity, Technology | 4 Comments

Accomodationists Across The Pond

Theocracy‘A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything’ – Nietzsche

In a world where the faithful are rewarded for their willful ignorance, this is unsurprising news:

Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.

The documents, which would be recognized by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.

Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognize only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

  And if that wasn’t sufficient to cause a sputter of outrage, likely this will:

Christian beliefs should be ‘accommodated’ under law – top judge

Christians with traditional beliefs about issues such as homosexuality should be given “reasonable accommodation” in law, Britain’s most senior woman judge has said.

Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, said the UK is “less respectful” towards people with religious views than other countries, despite its long Christian traditions.

She questioned whether the current “hard line” approach to discrimination claims, based on EU law, could be sustained in the long term.

Her comments, in a lecture at Yale law School in the US, follow a series of cases in which British Christians claimed to be suffering religious discrimination but lost their cases.

They include Shirley Chaplin, a nurse from Exeter, who was banned from wearing a cross at work as well as Gary McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar, who both lost their jobs after resisted performing tasks they said went against their religious beliefs.

Belief is no commodity: its very ubiquity renders it meaningless. Yet its inflated value has been drummed into us from birth, another legacy of saturation. Should we then respect Aztec worshippers rights to sacrifice virgins? Why give preferential treatment then?

‘That’s the way it is’, by the way, should not be considered a sufficient answer.

As atheist, all I ask for, is that everyone be treated equally. Which dictates something of an ‘in for a penny in for pound’ dictum.

And since it is too much to ask for, apparently we’ll have to fight all the harder for it.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Islam, Politics, Religion, Skepticism, Stupidity, Women's rights | 10 Comments

Is there a connection between the Second Amendment and religious whack-jobs?

I only ask this rhetorically. I don’t give a shit if there is or not. But since there are so many right-threaded wingnuts who LURV the guns, I thought I would see what you think.

Two weeks ago, I slogged my way through a posting at DailyKos. It covered the previous week’s “accidental shootings” in America. To say it was “eye-opening” is to put it mildly. How low our country has sunk!

Today, I read yet another. It is prefaced with a statistical breakdown, which I am excerpting. Whether you read any farther than that is up to you. But the preface indicates we are in serious trouble — as if you and I didn’t already know. (I located two more posts by David Waldman, whose links you will find at the end.)

Spring Break, 2014: Girls gone to the hospital! GunFAIL LXI, by David Waldman, via DailyKos blog

Five of 38 guns discovered in carry-on bags by TSA agents across the country last week.

Five of 38 guns discovered in carry-on bags by TSA agents across the country last week.

Another week heavy on the accidental self-shooters. I’m getting the impression that this was always the case, since the stream seems fairly regular and consistent. But it wasn’t until recently that I really began counting them as a distinct category. This list includes 21 people who accidentally shot themselves, plus one 8-year-old injured by the recoil of a handgun he found and fired. In combing through the posts from early 2013, and keeping tabs as we go through 2014, it seems we can expect to find about 75 such cases each month.

All the regular categories were represented: four gun-cleaning accidents, one “home invasion” shooting (in which one “Second Amendments” a neighbor’s property), two holster accidents,four guns dropped and discharged, two cop and/or security guard mishaps, and an assortment of target shooting accidents, “just trying to scare someone” accidents, and “just wanted to show off my gun” accidents. On the more unusual side, we had our second gun show accidental discharge of the year, plus our first television set shooting in a little while.

The week also took a heavy toll on the kids, with 13 accidentally shot or otherwise injured, ages 2, two 3 year olds, 8, 9, 11, 12, two 13 year olds, 14, and three 17 year olds. Plus one spring break vacationer was accidentally shot with her fiancé’s gun, which discharged when the bag it was packed in was tossed from the trunk of the car onto the sidewalk upon arrival in Panama City Beach. Ah, young love!

In related news, the Seattle Times reported over the weekend that in 2012, more Washington state residents were seriously hurt in accidental shootings than in any year since 1995. It made for an interesting study, because when it comes to accidental deaths due to firearms, the trend is usually downward, which may have as much to do with improved medical care (and available airlifts to that improved medical care) as with improved safety features on modern guns. But injury has its own unique costs, and shouldn’t be ignored in our surveys. Especially if the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. (Though I suppose it’s possible that some of those who in the past might have been killed in their gun accidents were saved by the aforementioned improvements in medical care, only to end up boosting the injury statistics, which would make it hard to argue that such incidents are, on an individual basis, part of a trend in the “wrong” direction.)

I’ll leave that to you to debate, if you like. In the meantime, the latest list is [linked above].

It’s fun to accidentally discharge your handgun at the Y-M-C-A! GunFAIL LIX

Welcome to Hooters! Is that a gun in your pants, or… GunFAIL LX

(Comic relief, from me: Some years back, while I was still driving professionally, I had a bladder infection treated at a walk-in clinic at the Pilot Truckstop at Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. When I paid for my diagnosis and treatment, I saw that the payment invoice said “Hooter’s Inc.” Yep, it was THAT Hooter’s!)

Posted in Atheism, shooting, Stupidity | 9 Comments