Tuesday, November 17, 2009



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Church is Lies

This is in Springfield, at the corner of Cherry & Jefferson.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Fun Rant about Conservatives: A Great Excuse for a Research Paper by Lauren Lane

I had to write this for my Art History of Graphic and Applied Design Class, and I thought I would share. It was super fun to write! I'll let you all know what kind of grade I get! The topic we were supposed to write on was "The propaganda of traditional values in contemporary visual communication as a result of the current political climate" and he wanted us to write as if we were writing him a letter or talking to him. I think I did ok...

Whenever I read the topics for the research paper, I nearly squealed in delight. You see, I have what one would call, oh, I don’t know, an intense loathing of all things conservative. These strict ‘moral’ people continue to shock and anger me on a daily basis. There seems to be no end to their vortex of stupidity.

However, in many cases, I am more than content to blast apart their unsteady arguments that they push forth like screaming toddlers before nap time. So getting to write this paper for class about their rather mindless propaganda of their traditional values in contemporary design only gives me an excuse to feed the fire and spend even more time on the internet getting angry over the blatant piles of stupid I trip over. Let’s look at a few favorites, shall we?

The first type of propaganda I would like to discuss is the most recent commercial, and now youtube video phenomenon, to have hit the mainstream media about anti-gay marriage. Put forth by the National Organization of Marriage (or NOM…I’ll let that one sink in), this video claims that “a storm is coming, are we ready?” As individuals with rather sullen looking faces are telling the camera that “they are afraid” for us heathen liberals have taken the issue of same sex marriage “far beyond same sex couples.” One such individual goes as far as saying that they believe their “freedom will be taken away” and that “they will have no choice.” Yeah…what?

Anyone with half a brain can instantly see this is a load of complete bullcrap. It has become clear that, due to the current political climate turning continually more liberal out of both necessity and common sense, conservatives are becoming more and more nervous human beings. This seems to be causing them to lash out with any and all available resources with blatant disregard for rationale, logic, and honesty for they innately fear change and progress.

To endorse and implement gay marriage would happily and rightfully end in the redefinition of the basic family values that conservatives hold dear. Husband? Wife? Mother? Father? Male? Female? All going to change, but rightfully so and for the better. Unfortunately, trying to tell that to anyone who is a conservative is like banging your head against a brick wall. Their heads are so far deep in the sand that all they can really make out is some muffled noises.

In a similar vein, I would like to talk about another attack against the homosexual lifestyle that has been fully supported by the right wing, the ‘ex-gay’ movement. Designed to make people feel as if being gay is an unfortunate temporary lapse in judgment and a voluntary, conscious decision, this is another type of hateful propaganda spread by the right wing.

Perhaps one of my favorite organizations to roll my eyes at is called NARTH, which stands for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Sexuality. It is here, with the creation of these types of organizations, that misleading propaganda reaches the tipping point of irony. This organization claims to “respect the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny” and yet squashes and belittles the rights of those who claim to be homosexual . How, exactly, is this respecting the rights of all individuals? It’s this kind of double speak that conservatives specialize in that I find rather infuriating. They never seem to know the difference. Or will admit to knowing the difference, anyway.

Furthermore, this type of propaganda is even more so disgusting in that it claims to have actual research to back up its rather false and antiquated declarations. The use of people with doctorates from the smallest and most religious of schools is an old tactic that has as yet to go out of style. For example, the article written on the NARTH website entitled “Homosexuality 101: What Every Therapist, Parent, And Homosexual Should Know” is written by Julie Harren, who has the fancy titles of P.H.D and LMFT behind her name. After some quick Google stalking, I can find nothing about to which university this woman gained her degree or where she is currently at work. It’s strange how they have not included to which institution of higher education she has come from. I mean, if her views and opinions are legitimate then you would want her pedigree easily accessible from all us nay-sayers, right?

The fact that conservatives will fight so dirtily only further proves how completely misguided they are. They have to either fabricate facts and figures or skew them laughably out of proportion to find even the smallest of foothold to stand upon.

As an additional attack on sexuality, conservatives like to spew out misinformation galore when it comes to abstinence-only education and its benefits. It is a well known fact that any and all religious organizations adamantly lobby for youngsters of all ages to please keep it in their pants until marriage. Because you suddenly become mentally and emotionally ready for such a thing once you are wearing a certain ring on a certain finger and have spent way too much money on pomp and circumstance to please both your parents and society. It’s true! (Please be sensing the blatant sarcasm, here.)

Organizations, such as Abstinence Clearinghouse (which is a ridiculously ironic name), Chastity Call, and Generation Life attempt to show the validity of abstinence through their rather large and horribly organized website layouts. For example, Chastity Call’s ‘A Real Woman’ poem claims that females are “Modest, pure and chaste… Understands chastity, Values her sexuality, Appreciates her fertility, Controls her passions and desires, Knows her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Ok, ok, you’re going to have to give me a minute to stop giggling so much my sides hurt before I tear this faulty logic a new one…Alright, god-living aside, (for I could write you another research paper equally as long if not longer in support of atheism) this poem is so full of wrong it hurts my eyes.

Valuing people, especially women, on the basis of their sexual history is innately and severely damaging. What kind of message is this sending to let young people know that basically their entire worth is dependent upon the status of their no-no parts? This misdirected significance placed on their genitals is thoroughly antiquated and downright insulting to women everywhere. Ladies, are we not more than our lady parts? I know that I have a perfectly good brain over here. Anyone interested?

Also, this sad excuse for a poem asks women to basically suppress their physical urges, while at the same time asking them to value their sexuality. Umm...what? Do the makers of this propaganda not realize how confusing and contradictory they are being?

So, if I’ve got them right, I should love being sexual, but only when I’m supposed to when I’m married, and only if we’re doing it to have children. Right. These people don’t seem to understand that I am human and will have urges because, oh, guess what? They’re normal! Suppressing yourself and living in obtuse religious restraints is not normal. And what’s this stuff about my body being a temple for the holy spirit? Who is this guy/girl/thing? What the crap is he doing in my body without my knowing it? Is that a form of nonconsensual sex?

Yeah, well, I hate to break these people’s hopes, but it turns out that their, ahem, lovely poems, scary prom-gone-bad Purity Balls and abstinence pledges certainly aren’t winning anyone over or doing anyone any good. It turns out that “teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do” (Stein 1). So not only are the kids doing it, but if they say that they are saving it for Jesus, they are more likely to be unsafe about their reproductive health. I have one word for you, conservatives-FAIL.

Moving on, I mean, I wasn’t going to bring this up, but since we’re on the topic of women and their bodies, I might as well talk about it. Perhaps the most aggravating and sickening propaganda that the conservative right winger’s put out is information about the nature of abortions. Pro-lifers might as well be my sworn mortal enemy because I wish I could set them on fire with my eyeballs due to their disturbing lack of knowledge. You know, for people who seem to be fairly earnest and dedicated, you would think that they would at least research all of the information first, right? Wrong.

Conceivably the most ghastly tactic used to propagate misinformation about abortions by conservatives is the ‘bloody baby’ pictures. (I’d put one here in the paper for reference, but they are just too gross for sharing, even for academic purposes, really. But if you need to see what I am talking about, go to www.armyofgod.com and prepare to throw up in your mouth a little). Relying upon this kind of shocking visual as a crutch for your argument is pretty low in my book.

For the purposes of keeping this essay rather short, I’m just going to lay out the facts that republicans are more than likely to willfully ignore in order to stubbornly stay within their obsolete religious value system. One, a baby is not a baby until it has exited the womb. Two, yes, a fetus has the potential to become a human being, but so do a woman’s eggs and men’s sperm, and if you’re going to talk about how sacred a small collection of cells are, let’s not rule those out. Three, all evidence suggests that conscience is tied exclusively to a functioning brain, so no worries about losing a human soul-if they even exist. Four, having an abortion will not make women go crazy. Yes, they are going to be somewhat psychologically straining, but so is pushing a watermelon out of a hole the size of a quarter.

In the end, what it comes down to is that pro-choice wins. Abortion should be a viable option for any and all who should want and/or need it. This way, I can have it my way and you can have it yours. Even if I think your way is crazy.

I suppose it would be unfair of me to write a paper regarding the conservative wing’s use of propaganda to propel their traditional values in contemporary society without talking about every right winger’s favorite news channel, FOX News. Aptly dubbed ‘faux news’ to those in the know in more liberal circles, this twenty four hour news channel often times seems more like some sort of joke than it does actual news.

For example, let’s look at this whole ‘tea party’ phenomenon. Historically, tea parties were held in response to colonists being taxed on items, such as food, without having any representation in their presiding government across the Atlantic Ocean-The British. Settlers decided to quit being ignored and dumped a large amount of tea into the Boston Harbor as a mark of protest. No taxation without representation! Seems to be a fair and reasonable request, no?

Alright, now that we’re clear as to the history of the Boston Tea Party, we can move on to the newest incarnation that the likes of the FOX news community has brought to our attention. They, being the oh so clever little devils that they are, decided to throw their own little ‘tea party’ on tax day as a protest against the recent tax increases that Obama has implemented in order to stimulate the economy and work on stemming the already overflowing national deficit. Heck, they even had everyone’s favorite all-American man, Joe the Plumber out, to celebrate this recreation of a historical event that their beloved founding fathers did, and gosh darnit, they’re gonna do to.

But, that’s the thing. While the intentions of lowering or getting rid of taxes is the same between both events, that’s where the similarities end and the hilarity begins. These people all have representation. They are not being taxed against their wills and without any kind of voice to stand up for them in government like our forefathers, they have people they voted for in office!

To make matters worse, these tax increases that these teabaggers were protesting most likely didn’t affect them in the least. The modest (at best) tax increases that the president had implemented were to only affect those people who make more than $250,000 per year or big businesses (Tapper 1). Let me reiterate so I know that we are being perfectly crystal clear with one another. These tax increases, which prompted many working class families to protest in the form of mailing teabags to the White House and rally in the streets, were for people who make more than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. The average family makes about $46,000-$50,000 dollars a year. Yeah.

I can only speculate that, somehow, FAUX, I mean, FOX news was able to distort the facts so fully about the tax increases that it frightened a great many people into protesting something that they didn’t really understand. It is, without a doubt, deeply disturbing that such a great number of people are willing to digest what they see on news channels without a second thought. Having capitalized on this, FOX News is one of the biggest propaganda generators of our time. I kind of want to perform some kind of teabagging that I am not allowed to talk about in academic papers to the CEOs of FOX news, but I unfortunately lack a certain type of body organ to do so.

Isn’t is the job of journalists everywhere to remain true to the story at hand and present all the facts in a clear, fair, and balanced manner? I would argue that it is the role of news channels everywhere, regardless of affiliation, to present information in a truthful, accurate, and complete manner, something FOX news hasn’t done…well, ever, as far as I’m concerned.

OK, well, now that I am officially overly worked up from looking at all of the ridiculous piles of stupid that are permeating society due to right wingers, I need to go calm down before I end up setting something on fire. I think we can both safely say that conservatives are masters of misleading information in contemporary society. I don’t blame them for being scared, though, they rightfully should be. I will certainly leave not leave their inaccurate and faulty logic be, I plan on destroying it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sarah Haskins fills the Jesus Shaped Hole in My Heart

I realized today that I haven't shared the wonder and absolute joy that is Sarah Haskins. She has a regular spot CurrentTV online every Thursday called 'Target Women' that usually makes me laugh so hard I shit my pants.

Gotta love those feminists who kill you with humor! Enjoy this week's episode:

Hannity Acends to New Heights of Douchebaggery

Check out the first couple minutes of this video. Hannity says that he is against torture, but for 'enhanced interrogation' (whatever the hell that is) and then offers to be water boarded for charity. What. A. Jackass.

Go Keith Olberman for totally handing Hannity his ass to him:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miss America: An Epic Journey into the Unknown

So, I'm quite sure that you all have heard of this Miss California gay marriage thing that has been popping up everywhere as of late. And while I certainly do have a lot to say regarding gay marriage, right now there is only one thing on my mind:

Why the hell do beauty pageants still exist?!

Proponents of such moronic cattle calls really seem to rally under one point: that it gives scholarship money to young girls who would otherwise have no chance! OMG!

Apparently, these women are so spectacular that they can find the time to promote a platform of charity, be a part of a half dozen school organizations, hold down a job, and don't forget workin' the stairmaster for tight buns, keeping your hair nice for the boys, and having a big, fat, laser white smile and fake tan, but not so spectacular that they can't find other ways of paying for their education. More academic and meaninful ways. Right.

Just for shits and giggles, can we take a look at some of the contestants?

Nope! Doesn't look like they're trying to fit an idealized stereotype at all! Well thank goodness for that.

Anyway, being an extra special nerdy-type that I am, I decided to do a little research and see what, exactly, it takes to be Miss America. After all, for a place that advertises itself as being 'one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women' you know that they are going to be all inclusive, right? Wrong. Check it out:

A Contestant Must:
  1. Be between the ages of 17-24 years of age. Must be a High School senior or graduate and no older than twenty-four (24) years of age on December 31, 2009 (for Miss Missouri 2009 / Miss America 2010.)
  2. Must reside in; be enrolled and attending classes on a full-time basis at an accredited college or university in; or be employed on a full-time basis for six months in the state in which the young woman plans to compete.
  3. Must be a citizen of the United States of America at the time she enters her first pageant.
  4. Additional Requirements:
  • Must have never been married.
  • Must have never been pregnant.
  • Must not be the adoptive parent of any child.
  • Must never have been convicted of any criminal offense.
  • Must not have criminal charges presently pending.
  • Must be in good health and can participate fully and without limitations in any Program activities.
  • Must not use or consume any illegal controlled substances or abuse the use of alcohol or other dangerous substances.
* See contestant contract for additional requirements.

Apparently you can be Miss America, but only if you fit the bill of a stereotypically 'good' young woman. Forget it if you've ever been preganant or are turning your life around after a substance abuse problem, sucks to be you! And apparently there are more requirements in the contest contract...who knows what they are. And what if you have taken custody of a younger sibling?

Ok, so, maybe the requirements aren't as outrageous or as far fetched as we'd all like to think. I mean, asking young women to conform to these ideals is small potatoes, right? Like, who doesn't, like, have, like, this perfect idealized existence? OMG! So let's say that your springy young non-pregger and non-substance abuse loving body makes it into this pageant. What kinds of things do you have to do to prove that you are fit to represent the "not-for-profit organization (also known as the Miss America Pageant, LOLZ) that has maintained a tradition for many decades of empowering young women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talent and intelligence."

Phases of Competition:

1) Interview a.k.a 'Presentation and Community Achievement'

Alright, I see what they're doing here, they're seeing what these girls are all about. I can agree with there being some sort of interview to see if these girls got what it takes and are the upstanding, active, and intelligent people that they are said to be. Right on.

2) Talent a.k.a 'Artistic Expression'

Ok, so this is where the judges start to lose me a little. A talent portion? What for? Who cares if these girls can sing or tap dance? Isn't it about what's inside that counts? Actions speak louder than words? Plus, any kind of talent competition that only allows 'absolutely functional' props and bans talents 'involving safety hazards, such as fire batons, sword and/or knife twirling, bow and arrow skills' sounds really boring, anyhow.

3) Swim Suit a.k.a 'Lifestyle and Fitness'

Yeah...what? What the hell does my worth and integrity as a woman have to do with how well I look in a damned swimsuit? Does Sean Hannity have to look good in a swim suit to do his job well? How about Obama? Yeah, didn't think so. This is starting to be sexist, sexist shit.

4) Evening Wear a.k.a. 'Presence and Poise'

Once, again, what the HELL does looking good in evening wear have to do with empowering women?! How about asking them about public affairs? Relevant and controversial issues?

5) On Stage Question a.k.a. 'Knowledge and Understanding'

Well, ok, looks like the pageant people are attempting to be less superficial with this part. The questions are usually about a social issue-like binge drinking, so at least we're getting somewhere, here, but here's the thing: contestants are answering not for themselves but pandering to the judges to win. Straightforward and honest opintions will be hard to come by.

Well, there you have it. The Miss America Pageant in a nutshell. I can understand that these people are trying to give opportunities to young women...but there are much better ways to do so. What good can come from a place where one's personal worth is mostly based upon their outward appearance?

In a less eloquent way-fuck pageants.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today Show Proves Stupidity Yet Again

Why is that every news show will give airtime to views that are obviously wrong and/or destructive? Even if they are trying to be fair and balanced, they are surely doing a crap job of it.

Go Jessica Valenti for not flat out kicking these bitches in the face!

Jay Smooth PWNS Miss California

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We have the power to change minds.

Last Fall, I put together a skeptics event on my campus that was retroactively dubbed "Skepticon." And here we are, just a few short months later, preparing for Skepticon II, which will honestly make Skepticon I look like chicken feed.

Today, PZ posted a blog about a grateful e-mail he received from a student who attended the first Skepticon.

Last semester I took a Religions of the World course, and as an extra-credit assignment, I was given the option to attend an event at the Missouri State University, at which you spoke. I went, and let me tell you, it was probably one of the most jarring and terrifying moments of my life. I'd always known there were those who strongly opposed religion. In fact, one of my best friends in high school was an extreme skeptic, who constantly asked me the tough questions, you know, the ones that usually can only be answered with "He works in mysterious ways." But I'd never been in a room packed with people who whooped and cheered every time a stab was taken at the way I'd chosen to live my life. It was chilling and upsetting and I wanted to leave every second since you'd first opened your mouth. I didn't hate you for saying it. How could I? It was your belief and you were sharing it, which you have every right to do.

But what horrified me the most wasn't the room full of atheists, or the seemingly impenetrable arguments you provided that I should completely dump my faith and see the world in a different light. What turned my stomach and threatened to send me off the edge were the stories you told of Christians giving the rest of us a bad name, such as those at the Catholic Mass when the student stole the cracker and received death threats. I suppose hypocrisy is simply the nature of the conventional Christian. They act like children in a tree house that throw rocks at anyone who hurts their feelings.

Atheists ranting about how the past five generations of my family are superstitious crackpots I can handle, because the atheists are standing for what they believe, but when people who claim to have devoted their lives to furthering the love and compassion that Jesus showed start acting in ways that negate every message they've ever tried to present, or they choose which biblical rules they want to follow and which to ignore, and things like that, it really just makes me sick.

Anyway, I suppose this isn't terribly interesting to you in any event, but I've resolved to stop sitting in church and being spoon fed pre-cooked beliefs, and to start seeking answers by asking questions I was afraid to before. The founder of Buddhism once said, "Do not believe these things because I've told you to, but find truth through your own experiences." I've adopted that to the core of my beliefs.

I still believe in God, and I still consider myself a Christian, but I'm seeing things in a different light. I'm finding the meaning behind the rituals and traditions, rather than just believing there's power in "holy" water or an oyster cracker. I've begun searching for the reasons why certain rules are administered, instead of just saying "because the bible says so".

I don't know if you'll ever read this, and I don't know if I'll ever come in contact with you again, but I want to sincerely thank you. I know I completely missed the purpose of your speech, but whether or not you actually accept my thanks isn't the point. I hope that maybe others of my faith can learn the lesson I did, and I definitely think that it's a good idea to listen what nonbelievers have to say.

After all, knowledge never really hurt anyone, right?

So often I hear people say "What's the point of being an evangelist of reason, nobody's going to change their minds." That's pure bollucks, and it's precisely what the fundamentalists want you to say. People do change their minds.

The Skeptical Student was a Christian when I first met him here at MSU. He changed his mind.

In my five years of being a vocal skeptic and critic of religion, I've received over 40 e-mails from people who thanked me for helping them abandon faith. They changed their minds. Who knows how many more never e-mailed me?

Ben over at War on Error changed his mind.

I changed my mind.

Our nation is slowly changing their minds (and even our nation is only following the pattern of the world), and it's because finally, for the first time in the course of the human experiment, a large contingent of people are charging past the taboo of criticising faith and demolishing the pretensions of religion without apology.

Good reasoning is irresistible. If the case for any proposition is strong enough, you will helplessly believe it, whether you can admit it to yourself or not. We have the power to wake people up and expose them to the light of reason. And faith, like cockroaches, does not do well in the light.

"The premise of evangelical atheism is that you can introduce people to the importance of reason and they will come to a reasonable conclusion on their own. The premise of evangelical faith is that people must accept an arbitrary belief because an arbitrary judge, who the convert may not query, demands it. The former kind of proselytizer ought to be called a teacher, but is more often called an arrogant asshole; the latter ought to be considered a liar, a fraud, and an arrogant asshole in fact, but they actually believe they are humble servants of the lord." ~ PZ Myers

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Science, you're doing it wrong

It's come to light that one of the biggest names in anesthetics, Dr. Scott S. Reuben, fabricated data on 21 of his over 70 papers in peer review. This is huge because of the impact of Dr. Reuben's work. It is also huge because every anti-science theocratic wackaloon is going to begin flying this as a banner for how science is "just a bunch of theories" and contaminated with contingency. In short, Dr. Reuben has hosed countless patients whose anesthesia was administered based on his work; he has hosed the scientific community by occupying a bank of resources that could have been more productively used elsewhere; and he has hosed people like me, who take the time out of their lives to defend science, and must now blog about it rather than getting that extra thirty minutes of sleep. Dr. Reuben should have his ankles bound to a cement block, doused with oil, set on fire, and then just before he burns to death be kicked into a lake to drown. Such is the penance for aggravating me (commenters be warned).

Seriously though, the scientific world is simply baffled about how this type of thing could have slipped past peer review. Many religious people will cite this as some form of vindication for how peer-review surely fails to jettison bad science, with their implication being that it has failed to jettison scientific ideas they do not like based on ideology rather than even a cursory understanding of the scientific method. They'll probably also type their truimphant nonsense on a computer that could not function except for what peer-review has produced on the function of electromagnetism. Tools.

So before the following argument goes flying (and I'm sure it will), let's take note of something very important. Science is sadly, not contingency-free. No method is. And when we hear the shrieks of "Ha! Science got it wrong!" it's important to note that science actually got it right. When error like this does arise in science, who gets the credit for correcting it? Faith? Of course not. The credit belongs to good science. Even now, scientists are in the process of correcting this error, and our policy on anesthesia will change to cohere with what we do have a right to claim knowledge of. Remember, the world around you is a symphony spun by the fruits of science. It is not faith that has given us plentiful food, clean water, reliable medical treatment, computers, and so on, but rather the same processes that have caught Dr. Reuben (albeit, inexplicably much later than usual) and will abandon him to shunned obscurity henceforth.

The fact that peer review and the scientific process catches frauds and corrects errors is not a testament to the frailty of science, but rather to a strength that can only be acquired by such a scrutinizing process of self-improvement. It is what science has so right that religion has so wrong. And now we're about to get hit by a wave of stupidity, insisting that because scientists were slow to catch this fraud that the yarn about talking snakes and magical gardens somehow explains anything or has provided a single iota of human knowledge - which shows about how reliable their reasoning is. The truth is that science has the ability to admit that its talking snakes were mistakes. Good luck getting the same concession from a clergyman.

And now, a quote from my father in response to a religious person exclaiming that there's power in prayer (turns out, there's not):

"I'll pray for you" is a phrase some Christians use in order to make themselves feel smugly superior by doing nothing at all, especially when they are unable to defend their position through truth, reason, or logic. It is nothing but a form of one-upsmanship, usually heard as a last desperate shot when their arguments are lying in tatters around their feet along with all caps and lots of exclamation points.

Beautiful. I can tell I'm going to be using this one in abundance.

It is seven am...

But already the world has reassured me that religion, and those who stand behind the curtain, will do anything to protect themselves and care nothing of their "flock".

In short... they are trying to repeal the statute of limitations on sex crimes in NY. Guess who is opposed???

To be fair, there are some great arguments about playing shuffleboard with statutes of limitations on crimes.

But the church, an organization that has millions to lose if this passes, isn't worried about those arguments. They are just protecting their own asses.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Deliver us from evil

I spend an inordinate amount of my time shredding the bad arguments of religiously unreasonable people. Years of doing this has helped acclimate me to the horror of dogma and the way we can kick compassion to the curb for the arbitrary whims of a pernicious and mythological god.

However, some things still disgust me so much that they defy any attempt to find the right phrase or wording to convey how stupid, how callously inhuman they are. This is one of those times. Here's the title:

Brazil girl, alleged rape victim, aborts twins

The procedure on the 9-year-old girl draws complaints from Catholic church

And here's the text. Read ahead if you'd like to ruin your day and what faith you had left in mankind.

RIO DE JANEIRO - A 9-year-old girl who was carrying twins, allegedly after being raped by her stepfather, underwent an abortion Wednesday despite complaints from Brazil's Roman Catholic church.

Police said the stepfather has been jailed since last week.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, but judges can make exceptions if the mother's life is in danger or the fetus has no chance of survival.

Fatima Maia, director of the public university hospital where the abortion was performed, said the 15-week-old pregnancy posed a serious risk to the 80-pound girl.

"She is very small. Her uterus doesn't have the ability to hold one, let alone two children," Maia told the Jornal do Brasil newspaper.

But Marcio Miranda, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in northeastern Brazil, said the girl should have carried the twins to term and had a cesarean section.

"It's the law of God: Do not kill. We consider this murder," Miranda said in comments reported by O Globo.

Calls to Miranda were not immediately returned.

Brazil is home to more Catholics than any other nation.


What god could exist that would not be ashamed of Christianity? What god could possibly allow these faith-drunk madmen to speak for him? Irrationality is dangerous, and there is no more productive engine of irrationality, and no more impenetrable edifice of outlandish stupidity, than religion.

On the incompatibility of science and faith

An old voice teacher of mine, a brilliant friend named Marvin Murphree, linked me to this article the other day which suggests that science and faith are compatible. I think otherwise.

Non-overlapping Magisteria

The author of the aforementioned article went the route of saying that science and religion address different questions, with religion tackling the who and why and science explaining the what and how. However, I take issue with his use of the word "explain."

Religion just makes stuff up that is false by any sane definition of the word. That is not how science operates.

What's more, he bases religion's magisteria on implied truths that have no evidence supporting them. While we know there is a what and how to the operation of the universe, who says that there must be a who and why? I submit that there is no reason to assume there is a who or a why to the functionality of the universe, and most certainly not an omniscient, perfect intelligence. A look at the universe reveals it to be the work of a fairly incompetent engineer at best, as it took billions of years of trial and painful error to reach its current state. A perfect designer would not require such a system. It is also still riddled with a host of simple errors that are just what we would expect to see in a universe that operates on a series of mindless rules, but that are just bizarre if a god created anything. These are things like the existence of the appendix, babies heads being bigger than the birth canal, and the clunky nature of DNA.

Furthermore, everything that we have explained has been found to have a natural rather than a supernatural explanation. Everything. You may respond that surely some intelligence put into place those natural explanations, but how do you know this? Before answering, be sure to have a good explanation for why your reasoning doesn't apply to the creator you're suggesting as well.

The questions that religion purports to answer here are superfluous before any evidence is provided to show that they are legitimate.

Religion is based on scientific questions...it just gets the answers wrong

The author of the article says:

No amount of logic must deduce they oppose each other. They're asking different questions, which lead to different answers, but not necessarily contradictory answers.Religion errs when it seeks to dictate the range of answers science can discover.

But the question "Did a man rise from the dead 2000 years ago?" is a question of Biology. And the question "Did Jesus walk on water or transmute water into wine?" is a question about Physics. The Christian faith makes a magnificent glory of how these propositions fly in the face of science, which is why they're called "miracles". But science has the (obvious) answer to both of these questions, and religions have no sound evidence for why the natural order was abrogated in the ways they claim. The entire Christian religion is based on the truth of Jesus' resurrection, which could not conflict with science more.

Differences in Method

The very nature of making a truth claim implies some degree of testable prediction about the future. A simple example would be the statement "I own a chess set." The implication here is that if you sift through every possession I own, amongst them you would find a chess set. Science makes testable predictions in this vein;
  • If we add wings and the right type of engine, this vessel will fly.
  • If we use the proper type of filament and apply electricity, it will produce light.
  • If we replace a particular organ, this patient will live.
  • If we apply our hand to the knob and turn, the door will open.
Religion does no such thing, but the fact that religion attempts to make such claims is the reason that science has been a one-way erosion of religion from the get go. Don't believe me? Try this simple, two-question test:
  1. Think of one thing for which we once had a religious answer, but for which we now have a scientific answer (this one should not be difficult).
  2. Think of one thing for which we had a scientific answer, but for which we now have a religious answer (don't waste too much of your time).
The notion of faith is used, without evidence, to force assertions into areas we have not explained (argument from ignorance) and even into subjects we have explained. The idea that you can believe anything without evidence or good reasoning is anti-scientific, and this isolation of thought is why schoolboards everywhere are having to combat religious wackos who want to dilute science at best, but more often purge the parts of it that conflict with their faith. The fact that some scientists believe in a god or that some believers accept Evolution has everything to do with the partitionable nature of the human mind, and nothing at all to do with the idea that the two schools of thought are compatible. Scientific reasoning will lead you to conclude that men do not rise from the dead, and that they do not walk on water. It would be a terrible scientist that would accept either claim without evidence.

So the truth claims made by religions do not meet the criteria for being a legitimate truth claim by any sane standard. Science thrives on such things.

Also, science places a very high premium on overturning truth claims upon the discovery of new evidence. This is why if you were to revive a very well-educated man from the fourteenth century, his understanding of math, science, history, and any academic discipline would embarrass a modern five year-old. But his understanding about scripture would be spectacular, easily exceeding most religious people nowadays. Why is this? There are only two real possibilities:
  1. That we reached the zenith of our understanding of god at a time when our understanding of every other subject was completely inchoate. (not likely) or...
  2. Religion, and the faith that supports it, is the mere maintenance of dogma, and does not admit of change - even in the face of academic advance.
Religion does not overturn its claims because its truth claims are not falsifiable. The presumably liberal theologian who penned the article says theistic Evolution is compatible with his faith, but I'd be curious to know if there is any fact of the world that would not be compatible with his faith? That is not because his faith is strong, but because it is built on an idea that is not falsifiable (the way scientific ideas must be). Self-fulfilling prophesies are worthless as a means of explanation.

Moreover, even theistic scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller compartmentalize their scientific mindset by failing to hold their religious beliefs to the same standards they hold their science. If you are asking if an idea is merely possible given your presumptions, you will almost never be disappointed (my belief that pixies authored the universe and put all the natural mechanisms in place remains strong, as every new discovery confirms and strengthens my belief by revealing a mechanism of the universe, which I know was put there by pixies). Instead, if we are using scientific reasoning, we must ask if the best explanation for a universe that is pitiless and indifferent in its execution and laden with all manner of engineering flaws, is a loving, omniscient god (or pixies). Clearly, it's not.

Why this guy's outro was made of fail

This part made me want to claw my eyes out:

Sometimes, atheistic evolutionists annoy me. They overstep their bounds, confident that because they feel they have good answers for the what and how of creation, they do not need a Who or why.

The universe does not need a who or a why - it appears to be chugging along just fine with it's mindless processes and inanimate objects. We probably get annoyed with you because you insist it does need a who or a why without providing any evidence. That is not "overstepping our bounds," it is simply making a rational appraisal. Do you have some manner of evidence that the universe has an ultimate purpose or was blasted into being by a god? Show us. But in science it is never noble to pretend to know things you do not (it's even less noble to say we are overstepping our bounds by calling you on it).

He goes on:

But more than annoy me, they make me sad. For when they close their minds to the possibilities outside their sphere, they also close their hearts to a relationship with the God of love, Who has transformed my life and filled it with meaning and purpose. I feel sorry for them.

Ah, the old implications that atheists are forlorn people who are close-minded to their salvation. What crap. My mind is open to god the same way it's open to unicorns. If you take me out behind your house and show me that you have a unicorn tied up (and I can actually use its blood to heal my wounds), I will change my mind so fast it would make your head spin. The same is true with a god. My mind isn't closed, there's just no evidence. What there is, is an entire demographic of religious people who use crummy arguments to support a conclusion that is not bound by reason, even as they claim their faith is reasonable.

Don't feel sorry for us. The univere is a wonderous place full of unimaginable surprises. We are capable of seeing it for the magnificence it possesses in full, rather than through the blurry lens of fantasy. Furthermore, we don't have to deal with the cognitive dissonance, n00bs!

Ultimately, it all boils down to evidence and good reasoning. Science emobies them, and religion thrives on finding ways to avoid their constraints. This leaves about as much room for compromise as a coin toss.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Some Common Logical Fallacies (a.k.a. How Religious People Argue a.k.a Stop Presenting Me with Shitty Arguments that You Expect Me to Take Seriously)

After my recent atheist post, many friends have asked me questions in private about my beliefs, many arguing poorly in defense of a god. I’ve compiled this list of the numerous logical fallacies presented to me time and time again in the defense of a god because I am sick of individually refuting them. Well constructed and sound arguments are the only ones that are going to change my mind, people, so read up and learn!

(Just so you know, this is going to be quite the extensive list; you really won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t read it all. And-thanks to JT Eberpants for helping me out. :D )

  • Ad Hominem: Attacking the person instead of their presented ideas.
    • Ex: OMG! You are just a mean, evil atheist who is going to hell because you don’t believe in Jayysus.
  • Argument from Omniscience: Saying that all people, everyone everywhere think or believe a certain thing.
    • Ex: Everyone believes something! (Orly? How can you support this claim o’ omniscient one? I submit that you cannot.)
  • Appeal to Tradition/Belief: Saying something is true or good because it has been done for many years/decades/centuries.
    • Ex: Christianity has been around since, like omg forevers! So it must be true! Also-My parents raised me to believe in god so it’s what I believe.
  • Appeal from Authority: Using the words of an ‘expert’ on the subject to add credibility to your claim.
    • Ex: Ben Stein believes in god and he’s, like, really smart!
  • Argumentum Ad Baculum: Presenting an argument that is based on a threat.
    • Ex: If you don’t believe in god you will burn forever in the fiery depths of hell with no marshmallows, sucka!
  • Appeal to Ignorance: Assuming that someone will accept your argument because there is no proof of the contrary.
    • Ex: Because there is no proof that God doesn’t exist, you should accept that he does.
  • Appeal to Pity: Trying to get the other side to feel sorry for you to get them to agree with you.
    • Ex: I have nothing but god in my life, I was a bad person before and now I am good because I have accepted my savior, therefore religion is credible.
  • The Bandwagon: Arguing that just because lots of people are doing it makes it right.
    • Ex: Like, hundreds of people believe in god, so there must be one!
  • Begging the Question: Demanding your audience accepts whatever conclusion you come to without any sort of support or evidence to your case.
    • Ex: Worshipping a god improves the morals of society. (What proof do you have, Mr./Miss jesuspants?)
  • Burden of Proof: When one argues for something and then forces their opponent to prove otherwise.
    • Ex: You think god doesn’t exist? Prove it! (Apparently atheists are always on trial for their beliefs so we have to be well read motherfuckers while everyone else can skip around happily ignorant.)
  • Circular Reasoning: Stating in your argument what you’re trying to prove.
    • Ex: God exists because the bible tells me so, the bible exists because god created it.
  • Confirmation Bias: When one who is presenting an argument purposefully ignores the evidence that does not support their cause.
    • Ex: People of religion who expound upon the powers of prayer based on a few cases where it happened to work out rather than the millions of other ways it has not.
  • Confusion as to Correlation=Causation (Or Cause/Effect): Assuming that because two factors are linked when there is no verifiable proof that they are.
    • Ex: Stalin was an atheist and look at all the bad shit he did. Therefore, all atheists must want to do bad shit. (This can also be called ‘guilt by association’-all atheists are like Stalin)
  • False Dilemma/Dichotomy: Presenting only two options, one of which must be true.
    • Ex: Either the universe came about by chance or by design. It didn't come about by chance. So, it must have come about by design.
  • Hasty Generalization: Drawing a conclusion about a population using a sample that is not large enough.
    • Ex: That one atheist I met is a real jerk. All atheists must be jerks.
  • Non-Seqiutor: When a conclusion doesn’t follow what evidence has been presented.
    • Ex: We can't figure out how any natural process could account for the complexity of the human cell or whatever complex biological entity. Therefore, an intelligent designer must have put these parts together in the cell.
  • Middle Ground: Attempting to accept that the middle ground between two extreme ideas must be right simply because it is the middle.
    • Ex: Agnostics. (Suckers! Lol.)
  • Misleading Vividness: Allowing recent events to overshadow facts and evidence.
    • Ex: Person 1-I’ve been thinking about becoming an atheist. Person 2-What? No! Last week I talked to this atheist and they were really mean and spiteful and no one liked them at the church bake sale. Person 1-Oh! I guess I won’t, then.
  • Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Assuming that because one thing happens after another that the two are linked.
    • Ex: After you prayed super hard for a pay raise at work for a couple weeks, you got one. Therefore, the power of prayer has been proven.
  • Poisoning the Well: A type of Ad Hominem fallacy, this is where someone spreads unfavorable information about a person (true or false) in order to discredit whatever they should say.
    • Ex: Don’t listen to them, they’re atheists! *Gasp!*
  • Red Herring: When an arguer will change the subject in order to divert attention from their crap argument.
    • Ex: God exists. You don’t think so? You’re a bad person! Look at all the bad stuff you do!
  • Reification Fallacy: When someone treats an abstract belief or hypothetical construct as if it represented a concrete event or physical, tangible entity.
    • Ex: God.
  • Relativist Fallacy: When a person rejects a claim by asserting that the claim might be true for others but is not for them for whatever reason.
    • Ex: Person 1-You’re claim that a god exists is unjustified, unsupported by any evidence, and riddled with logical fallacies, therefore I cannot accept it. Person 2-Well that may be true for you but it’s not for me.
  • Slippery Slope: Presenting a chain of events and assuming that one will inevitably lead to the other and so forth so you must accept a claim.
    • Ex: If you don’t believe in god, then you are a bad person, bad people go to hell, in hell you burn eternally, burning eternally sucks, so you should believe in god.
  • Special Pleading: Someone applies standards, principles, rules, etc. to others while taking themselves (or those they have special interest in) to be exempt, without providing adequate justification for the exemption.
    • Ex: I am a Catholic. I follow the bible, as do my peers because it is what we believe is right. I use birth control, though, because I am a pretty princess.
  • Straw Man Fallacy: To distort or misrepresent the arguments that you are trying to refute.
    • Ex: You want to spread Atheism do you? You realize that Pilt-Down Man was a fraud of paleontology, right? So atheism is built on a series of fallacies.
  • Two Wrongs Making Right: Justifying one’s actions because another has done the same.
    • Ex: How can you give me crap for criticizing my religion when you do the same? (This has no relevance to an argument, people.)
  • Weak/False Analogies: Comparing two things that aren’t really alike in all of the relevant respects.
    • Ex: Atheists and religious people are the same because they both believe something.

Well, there you go. Feel free to add some, because I know I missed some, or let me know if I got something wrong.

Oh, and, YOURMOM!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Revulsed, but not surprised

You'll recall my recent entry about Republicans being petty and stupid, which I think was a very tame assessment of them. I think the stupidity of Buttars and Jindal especially, is so maladaptive and lacking of basic human empathy (opposition to science that prevents national disasters and extreme bigotry to normal people) as to be considered evil.

Yet, the Republicans never cease to raise the bar for harrowing amounts of doltish lunacy. Meet Dave Schultheis, Republican senator from Colorado. He thinks providing HIV testing to pregnant women, rather than being a necessary step towards the suppression of the disease, is a bad idea because it would promote promiscuity. However, the fun doesn't stop there...

“What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that,” he said. “The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”

Yes, he just said that bringing a child with AIDS into the world would be a suitable punishment for sleeping around. No real concern for the poor kid, but boy wouldn't it be a suitable punishment for the mother? Ah, family values.

This is reminiscent of when we released a vaccine for HPV, a disease that is responsible for 1 out of ever 4 cases of cervical cancer. Hard-lining religious kooks and their Republican mouthpieces opposed that one as well, also on the grounds that it would supposedly encourage promiscuity. That's right, they wanted to keep cancer as a detterrent for sex.

These people are batshit crazy.

We live in a world where you can have responsible sex with many different partners with almost certain safety, if you're employing all the protections available. Do it. If you're uncomfortable with even the amazingly small chance that something could go wrong in that case, work on your oral skills. There's no reason not to aside from paranoia brought on by silly notions about men in the sky, angels, and the evils a-dancin'. Sex is not a bad thing (in fact, it can be quite enjoyable). Educate yourself. Educate your kids.

There are, of course, other excellent ways to reduce your chance of pregnancy or contracting an std...

This cultish obsession that our various religions have with virginity was stupid enough to begin with, but if it's going to extend into an arena where we utilize children as pawns fodder in our culture wars to punish a mother for making mistakes (as if a disease that slowly kills her isn't punishment enough) it is unarguably time to send this rancid bit of ancient morality back to where it came from; it has separated us from our humanity at this point. Hell, it separated us from our humanity when we cast the first stone for paltry, imaginary crimes thousands of years ago...and here we are in the 21st century, dredging the ignorance of our ancestors into the present and voting for people who promise to continue doing so.

Really...I just can't even fathom this. Who but the devil himself could think that bringing a child into this world with a life-threatening disease, a child that will almost surely be orphaned in short order after the death of its mother from the same disease, is a fitting punishment for a single mistake? These people are monsters. Sadly, they're also your leaders.