Archive for the ‘Skepticism’ Category

What the big deal was about the #CFI statement.

June 18, 2013

To illustrate why the CFI statement was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad statement, I will use strikethrough for fluff; that which is without substance in this context. I will use bold to represent obvious falsehoods.

As background, this statement was necessary because CFI’s CEO, Ron Lindsay used his opening speech at the Women in Secularism 2 Conference to chide and patronize its attendees, while implying that feminism in the movement has gone too far.

Center for Inquiry Board of Directors Statement on the CEO and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

June 17, 2013

The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.

First, the statement title is in part “on the CEO and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference,” but the statement doesn’t address him in the context of the conference at all.

Second, they dare to say that Ron Lindsay is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, after he gave a speech that was patronizing and contemptuous of feminism and social justice issues in a slippery slope style, asking:

“Who decides what’s included within the scope of social justice anyway?”

“Is the destruction of capitalism considered part of a social justice program? If so, that position certainly has very significant implications,”

“Are there truly no significant divisions currently within the feminist movement?”

And which give the impression he just managed to stop from asking  ‘Isn’t it just too much work to be feminist and skeptical? I mean, we have Bigfoot to argue against here.’

Third, they say that the controversy was surrounding the conference, instead of Ron Lindsay and his speech of amazing inappropriateness. No. Just no. That is insulting to the intelligence of everyone involved.

Take a look at that statement, once all the fluff and nonsense is gone:

“The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy.”

And that is why they would have been better off not saying anything: because they aren’t unhappy with Ron Lindsay’s speech, nor with misogyny and sexism, nor with harassment nor inequality nor anything else addressed at the conference.

No. The CFI Board is unhappy with the controversy.

Mike Huckabee describes the political debate I want to see.

August 26, 2012

“This could be a Mount Carmel moment. You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will too.”

Mike Huckabee, rallying Southern Baptists to support Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) in his campaign.

This is very interesting to me even aside from the implication that “good Christians” should believe like Romney, Ryan, or Akin – and the Republican Party Platform – that abortion should never be legal, and like Akin and Romney that rape somehow isn’t rape if it results in pregnancy.

I mean, look at that quote: I am sold. I want to have these charlatans who claim to know the mind of god stand before the world and have a miracle competition. As the judges we can get The Amazing Randi, Penn and Teller and any other stage magicians willing to watch for fraud. To enter the competition, contracts must be signed saying that anybody who tries but can’t perform a miracle has to tithe to the National Center for Science Education for the rest of their lives.

Anybody who actually performs a miracle before all the world suddenly has a much greater reach and audience.

I can see no possible downside… except to charlatans.


Mike Huckabee quote found through Political Wire.

Atheism Plus Social Activism

August 19, 2012

Atheism Plus logo suggestions by Jadehawk

First, if you haven’t read Jen’s call to action, go read it and the follow up. I have to say: this is the movement I thought I had joined.

My reason for becoming an atheist- the reason I started losing my faith and questioning religion- was because of biblical passages that were anti women, anti homosexual, pro slavery and pro disproportionate response. Yes, I am an atheist because I don’t believe in god, but that is just the definition. I didn’t question the existence of god first. I questioned the morality of god:

I asked how could God kill children with bears just because they called someone baldy? Couldn’t the prophet have used a beneficial miracle or just good works to show that other things are more important than outward appearances? How could it be deemed appropriate by an omnibenevolent and omniscient being to create homosexuals and then declare homosexuality to deserve death by stoning? If it was a sin, why would God make some people have the urge and others without? And how could two adults being in love ever be a sinful thing?

I asked how God could make women the property of their fathers, to be bought for marriage. How could God decide that war and slavery was correct and that virgin women captured in battle were prizes for warriors? I asked how God could flood the whole world and kill everybody for being sinful when he made them to be sinful in the first place.

And the sick thing was, I wasn’t asking “how crazy is this god?” I was asking “how sinful am I that I can’t even begin to understand God’s Perfect Morality?” I was questioning God’s morality to understand it: and thought that it was evidence of my sinful state that I failed to understand.

But it wasn’t understandable as morality because it wasn’t morality. Even when I realized that, I didn’t stop believing in God. At first I simply decided that the bible didn’t properly record His morality. It took me a long time of exploration and questioning before I finally rejected the god hypothesis. But it was the immorality of the Christian Bible that started me questioning.

And it is my humanism that makes me blog as an atheist. My atheism itself might be just a conclusion about rejecting a premise because of insufficient evidence, but pointing out that lack of evidence is a means to an end: that of freeing minds from the shackles of religion, and undoing the social harms done in its name.

If you think that humans deserve equal rights, that women and men are equal, if you think that death sentences by stoning or otherwise deliberately carried out slowly are barbaric, and that love between consenting adults is something to be celebrated rather than to be opposed, if you think that distinctions in pigmentation are trivial and the social differences that result are profoundly terrible and that slavery and rape can never be justified, then you should oppose religion. But you shouldn’t stop at religion.

These wrongs exist outside of religion as well: religion is merely a transmission device that causes the ideas within to be more resistant to change. But we need to oppose misogyny and racism, homophobia  ableism and xenophobia wherever they may be. And while we are at it, we should fight the undervaluing of labor and the overvaluing of capital. Opposing these things helps everybody, whether you are privileged or oppressed on any particular question doesn’t change that: as a white person, it is in my interest to oppose racism just as it is in the interest of a straight person to oppose homophobia.

This especially goes for the situation of social movements focused on achieving progress in one facet of human rights: ignoring the other facets doesn’t work. You can’t claim to be working for human rights, and then say “Yes, but not for those people.” Just as the gay rights movement had to reform to include lesbians, the atheist community has to embrace women, the LGBTIQ community, people of color and has to embrace their issues as well. This should be a natural fit – as I pointed out, those issues are our issues – but I know we are going to have to work to make up for those activists who only care if an issue effects white straight males.

Godless good works

July 13, 2012

Maryam Namazie has a list of ways you can oppose people being sentenced to death by stoning. Only the Force Change and Facebook links worked for me, but try everything you can if you oppose this terrible practice.

The Deep Fried Freethinkers are raising money to get air conditioning units for people suffering from the heat in Mississipi – found through Friendly Atheist.

Ask an Atheist is doing a blogathon to raise money for marriage equality in Washington State – found through Friendly Atheist.

And once again, demand for Camp Quest is growing fast enough to demand a battle of the fund raisers. In one corner, cephalopod aficionado Pee Zed Myers, cockily declaring his imminent victory over all that is right and mammalian. In the other corner, a brave, valiant, daring and true… 12 people.

Donate for Camp Quest, do it for science, for reason, for truth and justice. But, most of all, do it for heightened emotional pleas.

Intelligent design – rejected by schools and Wikipedia.

July 8, 2012

Some creationists pretending to do science under the heading of “intelligent design proponents” are angry with Wikipedia, essentially because Wikipedia’s editors have standards too high for creationism in a lab coat.

Here are the words of the creationist making the complaint:

PLoS One has a highly technical study out of editing patterns on Wikipedia. This is of special interest to us because Wikipedia’s articles on anything to do with intelligent design are replete with errors and lies, which the online encyclopedia’s volunteer editors are vigilant about maintaining against all efforts to set the record straight.

Right, it isn’t at all because they are maintaining articles about science fact, and you are trying to advertise your Christ fanfiction.

Meanwhile, here is Wikipedia’s article mentioning “cdesign proponentsists.” But perhaps that’s not fair. Wikipedia is apparently run by a tyranny of the unemployed, what about the court of popular opinion? Urban dictionary gives this example of the use of the word:

Science says man evolved from other apes. Cdesign proponentsists say apes smell and prefer the scientific explanation “Goddidit”.

Ouch. Rational Wiki? Good luck there, creationism.

You know, maybe creationists should stick to editing Conservapedia, if they don’t want to deal with people pointing out nasty facts.

Found the story at Friendly Atheist.

Maybe sticking to reality is safer than believing in demons

July 7, 2012

If you are a pastor and one of your church members tries to beat the demon out of your head, maybe you should consider sticking to humanism and leave off the supernatural teachings.

And if you are in a congregation, maybe you should compare what you observe at every other point in your life to what you are told by someone with a financial incentive to keep you believing what they say.

Thanks to Jessica at Friendly Atheist.

This just in: Mermaids are NOT real, U.S. agency says

July 6, 2012

(Reuters) – This may not be much of a surprise, but mermaids aren’t real. No less an authority than the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has debunked the existence of the legendary half-woman, half-fish creatures.

Oh, goodness. The fact that a government organization felt the need to make this declaration is sad…

but I’m glad they are following a more sensible course than the U.K. National Trust.

That can’t be right, my graph shows dry land (blub blub blub)

June 21, 2012

North Carolina had a Coastal Resources Commission look into how fast the ocean level was rising. The resulting recommendation? Plan for a 39 inch rise by 2100.

However, planning that way would be bad for business in the short run. Let’s see, if we don’t limit ourselves to behaving rationally and in the best interests of people who are and will be living in the region over the course of this sea change, (sorry) how could we solve this problem for business?

“These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly…”

So says the bill which- by ignoring reality- allows the zoning of land which will then be built on and sold, but since the businesses doing the developing now don’t care, why worry?

Found through Political Irony.

The Popemobile and the power of faith

January 5, 2012

We will open now with Jesus words in Matthew 18:19: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth concerning anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven.”

So, why does the Pope have a bulletproof Popemobile?

Okay, so this picture does appeal to my sense of whimsy, but there is a serious point here: The existence of a (non-cartoon) bulletproof Popemobile means that either A) The Pope and the Vatican do not have faith in the words of Jesus or B) think that fewer than two people have ever prayed for the safety of the Pope.

Even I think he is more popular than that, and I think he is an enabler of the rape of multitudes of children.

To those taking aim at large targets, I salute you

November 29, 2011

To Rhys Morgan, who continues to call out quacks and medical con artists despite explicit legal threats and implicit physical ones:

Your use of the Streisand Effect is brilliant and well deserved.

To Emma Sullivan, who refused to bow to pressure from her school and the governor of her state:

The First Amendment needs more like you.

You are both younger than I, but I want to be more like you when I grow up.