Category Archives: Woo

Psychics Never See It Coming

I always find it funny when I come across stories like this.  Why is it that even when psychics say they “know something is happening”, they never get the hell out of the way?  Psychic Rachel Williams said that she “had a premonition” that something bad was going to happen and then it did when a truck crashed into her mobile home. She says it is the third time someone has run into her trailer, which also serves as her business.

Well dumbshit, if you knew it was coming, why were you home? Worse yet, why did you have your son there?  I guess it’s for the same reason that this supposed psychic is living in a mobile home, her “powers” are complete bunk.  If you could see the future, you’d win the lottery every single time and live in a mansion, wouldn’t you?

But oh yeah, it conveniently doesn’t work that way.  “Yes, I knew it. I didn’t know what time, but I had that spiritual feeling.” Then what the hell use are you?  If your so-called predictions can’t actually predict anything, why should anyone listen?  Oops, I forgot, she lives in a crappy little trailer because nobody does listen to her.  Bet she’s on welfare too.

This is how supposed psychics operate.  They can’t actually predict a thing.  They’re con artists who operate via cold reading, who can’t even see the future of their own lives, except in retrospect.  Okay Rachel, if you “had a spiritual feeling”, can you document that before the fact?  Did you tell anyone your “feeling”?  Did you document it in writing?  How specific was this “feeling”?  Did you know someone was going to crash into your pathetic little trailer, just not when?  Because this being the third time, you’d have thought that you might, I don’t know, *MOVE THE DAMN THING ELSEWHERE*?  Or are we supposed to think that bad drivers are drawn to screwy psychics like magnets?  Maybe we can use that to determine who is a real psychic and who is just a con artist.  Put the psychic in the middle of a field and if a car hits them, they must be real!

It makes about as much sense as the rest of this crazy woo nonsense.

 

More Bad Reasons to Believe in Jesus

15-reasons-fullEvery now and then I’ll find someone’s top 10 or top 20 list of reasons to take some absurd proposition seriously and discredit them.  Usually I don’t go looking, they just fall in my lap, as this one did, and the reasons are every bit as ridiculous as most of the rest I’ve taken a look at.  This one came up with an infographic, they must be special.  Well, short-bus special anyhow.  I’ve added it to the right, please click for a full-sized image but it doesn’t make any more sense visually than it does in text, I assure you.

Therefore, let’s jump into “15 Reasons Intelligent People Believe in Jesus“.

1. Other Smart People Do. Among the worlds smartest and most influential people are those who believe in Jesus. Faith is no barrier for intelligence, as illustrated by the enormous list of way-too-smart people that believed in Jesus. 65.4% of Nobel prize winners between the years of 1900-2000 identified themselves as Christian. From rocket scientists to biochemists, believers have proven themselves to be just as intelligent as the rest.

Hey, let’s jump in with a logical fallacy, the Argument from Authority!  Of course, they have to go back to the 1900s when science hadn’t progressed nearly as far, to find a decent list of believers for their list.  Usually they go back to the 1600s or so, when religious adherence was the norm and people believed because the church took a dim view of anyone who didn’t toe their theological line.  The fact is that in the modern world, more than 93% of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists and the religious are continuously losing ground in most of the serious sciences.  This will, of course, be entirely ignored by the zealots.

2. Jesus Likes Science. Zoology was the first occupation. (see Genesis) The formation and incubation of modern science began with believers in Jesus in the mid 1500s. The Christian passion for truth drove the early scientists, who were mostly theologians, to seek natural knowledge. Jesus is not scared of truth, and if Jesus is true then science will eventually point to him.

This is complete nonsense, it assumes that the Bible is factually true without demonstrating anything of the sort. Because the whole of the creation story is factually incorrect, the idea that zoology is the first occupation (who was paying Adam for naming all of the animals anyhow?) is just laughably absurd.  As I pointed out above, they have to go diving back into antiquity to have any hope of finding people who didn’t know about modern science, which has now answered most of the questions that kept older times mired in superstition.

3.  His Life Was Predicted. There were 353 precise predictions documented about the coming arrival and life of Jesus. Most were not clearly understood until after Jesus’ life. It was clear enough, however, that the Jewish people had been expecting his arrival for centuries.

None of which are actually demonstrable.  That’s the thing when you combine wishful thinking with an amazingly vague book that can be manipulated into meaning virtually anything.  I’m sure we  could come up with all kinds of predictions for alien visitation and multiple modern disasters, just like people have done with the writings of Nostradamus.  Oh wait, people actually have done that with the Bible, haven’t they?  Interestingly enough, they say the Jews have been waiting for the arrival of Jesus for  centuries.  Too bad they don’t consider Jesus to be the Messiah, huh?

4. The Disciples Were Convinced. The disciples believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, along with performing about a zillion other miracles. Scholars agree that the disciples found the tomb empty on the third day. Either they were all crazy, all deceived, or all right. One thing is for sure, they were convinced.

There’s no reason to think that the disciples ever existed, we have no independent historical verification of any of them, any more than we have independent historical verification of Jesus himself.  We only have the Bible, which is a book of religious mythology.  No credible scholars agree that the disciples, which haven’t been shown to exist, found any empty tombs, which also hasn’t been shown to exist.  There is no evidence of anything of the sort.

5. The Eye Witnesses Were Willing To Die. If the eyewitnesses had made the story up, they would not have sacrificed their lives to prove that the story wasn’t fiction. Eleven of the 12 disciples were murdered in ridiculously brutal ways for their faith.  All they would have had to do was shut up about it, but instead they were hanged, beheaded, boiled in oil, stabbed, stoned, crucified, beaten to death, to prove the story was true. Now that’s tenacity.

Again, they’re using a book of fiction to prove that fictional people died to prove the story in the book of fiction isn’t fictional. Even if it had been proven that these people ever lived and that they died in the ways described in the Bible, that isn’t proof that their claims were true.  We have records of lots of people dying for their faith, we have modern accounts of Buddhist monks immolating themselves for what they believe.  Does that prove that Buddhist beliefs are factually true?  Of course not.

6.  Historical Method Is a Trusted Process. Not only were the disciples convinced, but virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most Biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.

Actually, no they don’t.  Those who study the facts and not observe the faith are not so sure that Jesus ever existed, especially the Jesus as described in the Bible.  There are many who assume that some real person must be at the center of the Jesus myth, but the born-of-a-virgin, miracle-performing, raising-from-the-dead Jesus described in the Bible?  Nobody outside of religious believers buy into that load of nonsense.

7.  You’re betting your Life, you might as well play the odds. All humans are betting their lives on a wager, that God does or does not exist. The consequences of not believing if it turns out to be true, are far greater than if one believes and it turns out to be false. Therefore a rational person should live as if God exists and seek to believe in him. Mathematically speaking, it’s the safest bet.

Oh good, let’s play Pascal’s Wager, another fallacious position.  Complete and total refutations of this fallacy are available pretty much everywhere, it’s hard to believe that anyone but the utterly stupid or the willfully ignorant still use it today.  In short, it assumes that there are only two positions, that the Christian God is real, or that no gods are real.  It also assumes that the Christian God is so completely idiotic as to not know that someone is playing the odds and pretending to believe because it bears the best potential outcome.  If there are any other gods out there, then blindly believing in the Christian version is distinctly dangerous, when it turns out that Krishna is the one true god, those Christians are in deep doo-doo.

8.  He can’t just be a good moral teacher. He is either a crazy man, a compulsive liar, or he’s Divine. His teachings did not leave the option “Only a great teacher” open to us. If he’s a liar or a lunatic, his moral teaching is not to be trusted. However, his moral teaching has proven itself, so we are left with one option. Logically he must be Lord.

Let’s keep the stupidity rolling with C.S. Lewis’ “Lunatic, Liar or Lord” fallacy.  Again, they assume that there are only a limited number of possibilities, then they create weak excuses to throw out two of those possibilities and proclaim their favored answer to be true.  Of course, there are more reasons than just the three, the most logical being “Legend”.  There’s no reason to think the Biblical Jesus ever existed.

9.  It’s Effectiveness. The story of Jesus has proven to be unstoppable, as demonstrated by its growth throughout the world, constant cultural relevance, and intense personal acceptance. It overtook the Roman empire, and today 2.1 billion people, or about a third of the world identify themselves as Christians.

It wasn’t effectiveness that led to Christian supremacy, but force.  By converting Constantine, he declared it to be the official religion of Rome.  For more than a thousand years, the Catholic Church spread its religion via the sword, through Crusades and pogroms to wipe out and/or forcibly convert the pagan masses.  It didn’t spread because it had a superior message but because it’s followers had superior weaponry.

10.  Mythology Takes Time. Mythology takes time to develop. Jesus could not have gone from historical figure to folklore in the amount of time between his death, and the first writings of the Gospels. It would have been immediately rejected. Imagine someone trying to honestly claim that George Washington was a Ghost Hunter… Although it might make a fun Quentin Tarantino film!

In fact, Jesus remained relatively unknown for a significant amount of time after his supposed death.  The early Christian church was far smaller than most Christians want to believe, we have examples of modern religions reaching much farther, having many more members and much more influence than early Christianity did in a fraction of the time.  Look at Mormonism or Scientology today, both of which claim millions of followers within a few short years of their creation.

11.  He was accepted by his peers. The most scrutinizing audience would be the contemporaneous observers of Jesus’ life. However, his story was accepted as truth, by a large portion of that contemporaneous audience. Not only did a huge number of eye witnesses believe he was Divine but the story is not refuted by ancient sources.

We have no independent eyewitness accounts at all from antiquity, there doesn’t exist a single demonstrable eyewitness account of Jesus whatsoever.  This is, as with many of these absurd claims, just a bald assertion without a shred of objective evidence to back it up.

12.  He provided an adequate cosmology. “Why are we here,” you might ask. The teachings of Jesus provide an adequate explanation for the purpose for the existence of mankind and the universe. Theoretical Particle physicists are still trying to develop the theory of everything, but billions of people around the world have found Jesus’ explanation adequate.

There is quite a difference between homespun philosophical masturbation and legitimate science, yet these people seem not to comprehend that simple fact.  The teachings of Jesus provide an emotionally comforting answer for people who are not particularly interested in critically evaluating their beliefs.  It’s all faith, no fact.

13.  Faith in Jesus is good medicine. The belief in a loving benevolent Savior is a favorable perception that has measurable psychological, and emotional benefits regardless of his actual existence.

As are beliefs in other gods, having close friends and family and being part of a supportive community.  Having a pet also has measurable psychological and emotional benefits.  Give me a cat or dog any day.

14.  His moral teaching works. In societies where Jesus’ teaching are applied properly they have been proven to enhance human rights, improve education, elicit gender equality, increase the value placed on children, and break down class inequality.

All of which only proves the vague nature of the Bible which can be twisted and contorted to support virtually any position, depending on which passages you pay attention to and which ones you ignore.  However, the Bible is a host of horrors, supporting slavery, rape, murder, religious intolerance and social disorder.  Picking and choosing which parts you like and pretending the rest  doesn’t exist is absurd.

15.  He performed Miracles to Back his Claims. The claims he made about himself were so audacious, he would have had to prove his authority by supernatural means. Luckily he did. Even those who were against him recognized that there was something supernatural going on. His opponents described him as a miracle worker, or a sorcerer. you can bet if there was any way for them to claim that jesus did not perform miracles, his opponents would have. It was too obvious. It was too well known. The populace was too well aware of his miraculous actions for his opponents to deny it.  Multiple eye witnesses accounts verify that he performed supernatural acts, exercised demons, and rose from the dead.

Nope, no independent accounts of any of these things exist, there’s no better reason to believe that Jesus performed any miracles than there is to believe that Mohammed rode off into the sky atop a flying horse.  Harry Potter was as much a wizard because there are books written about him.  We find the religiously gullible believing things for which they get emotional validation without having any critical evaluation of the work in question.

So that’s 15 completely failed reasons why anyone should believe in Jesus.  It isn’t even intelligent people, if they do believe these things, they’re people who believe despite their intelligence.  There is no evidence for any of the claims, there is no logically laid-out reasoning to support them, it’s all blind faith and wishful thinking and only an idiot is going to fall for that, even if they are intelligent in other areas of their life.  Infographic or no, this list is laughable in the extreme.

Admiral, there be Raelians here!

UFOlandI mentioned over on Atheist Revolution that I had been engaged in a discussion with a self-identified Raelian.  You know, those crazy people who think that life on Earth came from the stars and we’re going to go home to these “gods” one day?  Well, Iamanatheist, who does the excellent I Am an Atheist and This is Why blog, asked me to write a post about it so here goes.

It is surprising that there really isn’t much difference in tactics between the Raelian and almost any theist you might pick. They make the same kind of irrational claims, they lack any evidence whatsoever for their beliefs and they misuse science.  In fact, this guy was only too happy to provide Christian creationist sources as proof against evolution.  He provided a “reading list”, including creationist frauds Michael Behe and William Dembski, as follows:

Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,”Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004) (HTML).

Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’”The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4):1-27 (December 2010).

Douglas D. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,”Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 341:1295–1315 (2004).

Michael Behe and David W. Snoke, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues,”Protein Science, Vol. 13 (2004).

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,”Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 (5):475-486 (2010).

Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway,”BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(1) (2011).

Ann K. Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,”BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (2) (2010).

Vladimir I. shCherbak and Maxim A. Makukov, “The ‘Wow! Signal’ of the terrestrial genetic code,”Icarus, Vol. 224 (1): 228-242 (May, 2013).

Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,”Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).

Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, “Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism,”Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, pp. 3047-3053 (October, 2009).

Douglas D. Axe, Brendan W. Dixon, Philip Lu, Stylus: A System for Evolutionary Experimentation Based on a Protein/Proteome Model with Non-Arbitrary Functional Constraints,”PLoS One, Vol. 3(6):e2246 (June 2008).

Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins,”Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007).

David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models,”Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 3:211–228 (2006).

Frank J. Tipler, “Intelligent Life in Cosmology,”International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 2(2): 141-148 (2003).

Michael J. Denton, Craig J. Marshall, and Michael Legge, “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,”Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 219: 325-342 (2002).

Stanley L. Jaki, “Teaching of Transcendence in Physics,”American Journal of Physics, Vol. 55(10):884-888 (October 1987).

Granville Sewell, “Postscript,” in Analysis of a Finite Element Method: PDE/PROTRAN (New York: Springer Verlag, 1985).

A.C. McIntosh, “Evidence of design in bird feathers and avian respiration,”International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(2):154–169 (2009).

Richard v. Sternberg, “DNA Codes and Information: Formal Structures and Relational Causes,”Acta Biotheoretica, Vol. 56(3):205-232 (September, 2008).

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig and Heinz Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangement and Transposable Elements,”Annual Review of Genetics, Vol. 36:389–410 (2002).

Douglas D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,”Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 301:585-595 (2000)

William A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Now I’m pretty certain he just pulled that list off a creationist website, he clearly hasn’t actually read many, if any of these books, he hasn’t understood the content and it’s absolutely certain that he’s never verified anything in any of these articles.  As with creationists, finding anything that purports to poke holes in evolution becomes their go-to source.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if those sources find your beliefs absolutely absurd.

So why does this guy believe in aliens?  His very first post spells it out.

I am tired of looking for evidence of aliens to explain my lack of belief in God and evolution. I think there is enough biological information out there to promote some sort of intelligence speeding up the process so that we don’t have to waste all this time and it makes the earth more ecologically diverse that way. Proteins can even create other proteins. What do you guys think?

Yeah, after the smoke stops coming out of your ears and you stop shaking your head at the abject stupidity, then he goes into why he believes in Rael and all of that crap.  Logic.  He’s doing it wrong.  But seriously, he looks for evidence of aliens because he doesn’t believe in God and he doesn’t believe in evolution.  God I can understand, but evolution?  Yes, it’s idiocy galore, exactly like the creationists.  It all goes downhill from there.  People ask him questions, he has no real answers, he just makes up more crap, just like Christians. It went into the same kind of irrational spiral that any discussion with theists goes in, with most people just giving up on having any kind of intelligent debate because the theist simply isn’t capable.

I really didn’t identify as many differences between this Raelian and your run of the mill theist, just as I don’t know that there’s much different between a theist and a conspiracy theorist or any other irrational believer.  It isn’t the specific beliefs that are the problem, it’s the inane irrationality underpinning it all and there are only so many ways to do crazy, regardless of what you believe.  Honestly, that’s kind of disappointing.

 

The Rules Don’t Apply to Religion

logicMaybe you’ve noticed this as well but it’s becoming absurdly common in my encounters with the religious.  A religious person simply cannot abide by the rules of evidence, logic and common sense that actually exist so they pretend they get to make up their own rules and insist that by following these imaginary rules, they can proclaim victory.

Bullshit.

That doesn’t stop it from happening every day though.  I can’t tell you how many theists I’ve run into recently who freely admit that they have no evidence whatsoever for their claims, yet they pretend they have no obligation to support anything they have to say because, well, they’re right and that’s all there is to it.  And, of course, they have “proof” but they’re not going to share it because we wouldn’t believe them anyhow.  Because we’re all materialists.  Well yes, we’re materialists, not because we have some quasi-religious belief in materialism, as they seem to believe, but because the material world is all that anyone has ever managed to find a shred of objective evidence for.  I’m a materialist for the same reason I’m a “gravitationalist”.  That’s where the evidence points.  If you want me to accept the supernatural, you’re going to have to make a convincing argument, complete with objective evidence and until you can manage to do that, I’m not going to take your claims seriously.  Of course, these people are convinced that we’re all somehow biased against the supernatural, that we practice some bizarre form of materialist religious belief, in fact I recently had someone make that exact accusation.  All I could do was roll my eyes at his stupidity.

There are reasons that we have established laws of logic and basic rules for rational discourse.  It’s because it is the only system we’ve found to date that produces demonstrable results.  We use it because it works.  If they can come up with another system that produces objectively true results as well, I’d be more than happy to use that as well.  Unfortunately, they simply cannot do that, all they can do is make things up, follow their emotions and when logic and reason shows their conclusions are faulty, instead of rejecting their conclusions, they just make fun of logic and reason, as though that makes their faulty beliefs somehow better.

So where did this load of nonsense start this time?  There were a couple of people arguing that “mysticism” was real yet they were unable, or more likely unwilling, to actually define what they meant by “mysticism”.  I therefore filled in the blanks from Google, producing the definition “belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender”, but suggesting it was closer to “belief characterized by self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought, especially when based on the assumption of occult qualities or mysterious agencies.”  Yeah, that didn’t go over too well.  However, they spent the next couple of days running all over the field with the goal posts, accusing me of being biased against “higher consciousness”, again without being able to provide a working definition, and finally one of them came up with that wonderful chestnut “well, maybe that’s how reality is for you, but it isn’t for us!”  Oh brother.  That was about the time I gave up, I had no more interest in dealing with complete and utter idiots.  Unfortunately, those people are not remotely alone in their inability to deal with reality or logically evaluate their own claims.  It’s also unfortunate that these irrational, illogical basketcases are among the loudest idiots on teh street corner, standing on their imaginary soap boxes, declaring how true the idiotic nonsense they believe really is.

Even Environmentalists Are Skeptical

Church of ClimatologyThe crazy liberal climate change idiots have been screaming for decades that the sky is falling and it’s all our fault. They claim that the ice caps are going to melt, that the beach-front property is going to flood, that there will be terrible tornadoes and hurricanes, fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!  Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave!  Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

But you know, when they even have people on their own side going “hey, it just doesn’t add up”, it’s clear that they’ve got issues. Recently, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore came out and admitted that anthropogenic global warming doesn’t make any sense.

Patrick recognizes something that I’ve pointed out many times in the past, that climate is cyclical, it changes naturally, no matter what we do to it.  We have heating trends and cooling trends which are often brought on by differences in solar radiation and volcanic cycles.  We can study the past and find ice ages and heat waves that occurred long before humanity was putting a drop of CO2 into the atmosphere.  In fact, Dr. Moore has now come to the conclusion that human industrialization has saved the planet by replenishing CO2 in the atmosphere that has been absorbed by millions of years of plant growth.  We’ve gone from 3,000 parts per million in the atmosphere to 282 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution.  An optimal level is 1,500 parts per million, something we currently rest at a quarter of.  Here’s Patrick Moore’s speech at the Ninth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtcNjoDe5Pg’]

So why does this keep going on and why do so many people buy into it?  The problem is, this has been going on for many decades now, the whack-a-loon environmentalists screaming that man is ruining the planet, yet the planet continues on just fine.  From the “global cooling” in the 60s and 70s to the “global warming” of the 2000s and now to “climate change” when they realized neither of their previous battle cries could be taken seriously, they keep getting everything wrong, yet they still keep making new claims because this is a religion, not a genuine scientifically valid position.  You can start with Paul Erlich’s crazy predictions, made in 1975 at a speech at the British Institute for Biology, where he argued “by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people. If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000 and give ten to one that the life of the average Briton would be of distinctly lower quality than it is today.”  He was entirely wrong.  You can look at the claims made by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2005 which claimed that imminent sea-level rises, increased hurricanes, and desertification caused by “man-made global warming” would lead to massive population disruptions and that by 2010, more than 50 million “climate refugees” would need to be rehomed elsewhere as those portions of the globe became unlivable.  They were entirely wrong.  Or the Pentagon report in 2003 called “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security” that claimed man-made “climate change” was actually a “national security concern” and predicted that within 10 years, California would be flooded with inland seas, parts of the Netherlands would be entirely unlivable, the polar ice would be all but gone in the summers, and surging temperatures would destabilize the weather system.  That was completely wrong too.  In 2000, David Viner, working at the time for the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), predicted that snow would become virtually unheard of in England and that “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”  Of course, since then, snowfall, both in the UK and abroad, has been quite healthy, making Viner’s words absurd at best.  Let’s not forget Al Gore’s dire predictions that the polar ice caps would be entirely free of ice by 2013, which is simply not the case.  I can go on and on and on but I think this suffices to show just how ludicrous these claims of anthropogenic climate change really are.

Well, I suppose I ought to address the claims made that scientists all agree that global climate change is happening.  It isn’t true.  Forbes magazine wrote an article where it detailed that the number of wildfires, a typical prediction made by the global warming fanatics, has has fallen more than 15 percent since 1950 and according the National Academy of Sciences, that trend is likely to continue to fall for decades. On droughts, a 2012 study published in Nature admitted there has been “little change in global drought over the past 60 years.” The UN’s own climate “specialists” had to admit that in many regions of the world, “droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter.”  Hurricanes and tornadoes and other severe storms are top of the Chicken Little routine for climate fanatics, but even those aren’t bearing out their claims.  Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. at the University of Colorado points out,  “when the 2014 hurricane season starts it will have been 3,142 days since the last Category 3+ storm made landfall in the U.S., shattering the record for the longest stretch between U.S. intense hurricanes since 1900.” The reality is, “global warming” actually stopped about 18 years ago but the fanatics are still running around the field waving the flag for their cause.  The UN had 73 “climate models”, every single one of which has been soundly discredited.  This isn’t a scientific position, it’s an emotional one, brought on by liberal self-loathing.

It’s also dishonest.  Liberal environmentalists have blind faith that this anthropogenic climate change is happening, just like theists have blind faith that their gods are real.  No matter what happens, it’s evidence for their fanatical beliefs.  If it gets hotter, it’s climate change.  If it gets colder, it’s climate change.  If it stays the same, it’s “climate change pause”.  More storms? Less storms?  More ice?  Less ice?  It’s all climate change.  Reality has no chance of changing their beliefs.

For people who don’t know, “climate change” is a massive business, clocking in at more than $360 billion dollars worldwide every single year.  Liberals have every reason to push it, it makes them money. The whole “green revolution” is a massive money-making campaign to make people feel guilty about the way they’ve been doing things so they can spend way more money on whole new technologies that really aren’t any better than the ones that came before.  Take electric cars.  I’m not going to talk about their inefficiency, I am going to point out that they are not better for the environment than gas-powered cars. The manufacturing of the batteries alone is much, much worse for the environment than just driving your regular automobile and the energy required to charge them comes mostly from coal-fired power plants.  The reality is, it not only isn’t better, it’s arguably worse for the environment but we’re talking about high-emotion and low-information consumers who listen to what their political ideologues say and don’t think a moment before whipping out their hipster wallets.  Politicians are only too happy to pass all the “carbon taxes” they can, they get more money to play with, plus it buys votes from the gullible.

We have environmental issues on this planet to be sure, we need to deal with them as best we can, but running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, spouting liberal alarmist drivel, doesn’t actually fix any of the problems we actually have.  Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, take a look at what the data actually says rationally, without all the emotional mumbo-jumbo that typically goes along with these discussions and see what’s actually true and what’s just not justifiable.

Are You Addicted to Religion?

jesus-shot-03It’s no surprise that there is such an overlap between drug addiction and extreme religious adherence, there are a lot of elements that are similar between the two. People who go to get clean of drugs or alcohol often exchange one addiction for another, either a religion or a religious 12-step program and sometimes, the cure is much worse than the disease.

So are you addicted to religion?  The following are symptoms, taken from The Two Faces of Religion: A Psychiatrist’s View, written by N. S. Xavier, M.D. in 1987.  How many do you see in yourself?

*Inability to doubt, think, or question information or authority. This cuts  directly to the core of any irrational belief, especially when you plug in fanatical attachment to the belief as well. If you cannot doubt your conclusions, if you cannot question your position and critically examine your belief, then you are lost.

*Avoidance of personal responsibility. You really can’t be personally responsible for yourself and your actions if you’re counting on a book of mythology to do it for you.  Religion tells you what to think and what to do, it is all too common for people to admit that without religion, they’d be totally amoral animals.

*Black and white, right or wrong, simplistic thinking. I think this is a hallmark of religious thinking, where something is good or bad, based on one’s beliefs, not on one’s critical thinking skills.  Believers think gods declare things sins and people embrace that idea without ever bothering to think about it intellectually.  The whole of religious thinking is very simplistic, by-the-book faith-based nonsense.

*Obsessive adherence to rules, regulations, routines, rituals; scrupulosity. Lots of theists simply adopt a life of ritual, going to church at a certain time, bowing for prayer at a certain time, they aren’t thinking about what they’re doing, religion encourages a life of habit, not thought.

*Bibliolatry – a worship of spiritual texts often to the point of manipulation or distortion. How many times have you heard “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”?  There are tons of theists who have no thoughts of their own, they can only throw around Bible or Qur’an verses to answer any question.  They’ve been brainwashed by these books.

*Unwillingness to accept ideas that may present conflicts or challenges to beliefs. How many theists simply reject anything that disagrees with their beliefs out of hand, not because they’ve carefully considered the points, but because it makes them uncomfortable to think they might possibly be real?

*Miraculous (magical) thinking that God will make it right (or fix the problem). Theists expect God to come along and solve all their problems, how many do you know that are on their knees constantly, praying for everything from winning lottery tickets to finding their missing car keys?  God becomes a solution to all problems and if the problems aren’t solved, they will rationalize some reason why God doesn’t want it solved.

*Unrealistic financial contributions. Theists give absurd amounts of money to their churches, the more fundamentalist that you are, the more likely you are to give money above and beyond your financial means.  Televangelists are famous for taking advantage of people, encouraging them to send in as much money as they can, all the while living the life of luxury off of the gullible.

*Progressive detachment from the “real” world. I’m sure you’ve seen those stupid “Not of this world” bumper stickers, there are people who seriously think that they don’t belong here, they’re just biding their time until they die and can get on with “real life”.  This is a completely delusional position, yet it is incredibly common among the religious.

*Rejection of individuals on the basis of differing beliefs, gender, race, and performance of rituals. Religions, by and large, are xenophobic.  They hate those that are different than them and belittle anyone who doesn’t fall into their little clique.  Racism, sexism and other forms of irrational hatred and distrust are very commonplace among the religious, not because they have any rational reason to think so, but because they’ve rationalized their way around it by declaring God’s stamp of approval.

*Inability to laugh at religious (or sexual) humor. Shooting cartoonists, burning down abortion clinics, the religious really have no sense of humor when it comes to their religious beliefs.  They lack the ability to step back and evaluate things from an outsider’s perspective.

*Believing that physical pleasure is evil and that sex is dirty. The religious are, by and large, afraid of sex, they have wrapped a large portion of their religious beliefs around sex and turned it into a means for control.  Some of this comes from the church leadership, people who make a living being a spokesman for God.  Some of it comes from a primitive understanding of the world around us.  Either way, if  your religion tells you sex is horrible and puts a ton of rules on it, you’re probably believing something ridiculous.

If three or more of those apply to you, you are addicted to your religious beliefs in an unhealthy way and probably need to seek professional help.

Americans Don’t Understand Ebola

ebolaIn a recent survey, 58% of Americans say they favor halting any and all air travel between West Africa and the United States to stop the possibility of ebola coming to America.  Something tells me they haven’t thought through this very well, which is hardly a surprise.  The fact is, they wouldn’t have to stop just direct travel between West Africa and America, they’d have to stop any and all air travel into the United States altogether.  I guess nobody bothered to think it through that people can go from Africa to Europe and then on to America, or Africa to Asia and then on to America.  In fact, with a 21-day window before symptoms start to show, you can go pretty much anywhere on the planet and then to America and still carry the disease.

But it isn’t even that simple.  I’ve heard people suggest that we don’t allow anyone who has been in Africa in a month into the United States, but what about those who have come into contact with someone who was in Africa and might carry ebola unknowingly?  All it takes is some contact with someone else’s fresh bodily fluids and you can be a carrier.  So how do we figure out who might have come into contact with a potential carrier?  Who might have bumped into someone in the supermarket?  Who might have been sneezed on.  Who might have kissed someone who was an unwitting carrier themselves?  How do we control for that?  The answer, of course, is that we can’t.  Therefore, the only way to be sure is to completely seal off the United States from any and all travellers so long as the ebola plague is a problem.  That’s not just air travel, that’s all travellers, regardless of where they come from, regardless of who they are or how they get here.  It means sealing our borders entirely.  We can’t even do that with our border with Mexico, I have no idea how we hope to do it nationwide.

This just proves that 58% of Americans aren’t that bright.  It doesn’t take an advanced medical degree to know how absurd such a suggestion actually is.  We might lessen our chances by stopping direct travel from West Africa but we won’t stop it entirely.  It will get in eventually.  We have to actually cure it and that’s something that’s proven difficult for a long time.  We can’t pretend that we can protect ourselves with any degree of absolute certainty, sooner or later it will reach our shores and will start to infect the general public.  It’s inevitable, it’s just a matter of time.

People need to look for better solutions than these ridiculous pie-in-the-sky, wholly unrealistic ideas that they come up with.  That’s not how basic virology works and people need to stop being so ignorant.

If You’re Stupid and You Know It…

Ghost-002I think I mentioned this in passing a while back, but I don’t just debate religion, I debate all kinds of ridiculous, irrational claims. The world is full of people who believe in really asinine things for really bad reasons and so long as they get an emotional high out of it, whether their belief is actually true or not is entirely irrelevant.  The same types of views are used for gods as are used for aliens, Bigfoot and ghosts.

Oh yes, ghosts.  That’s where I’ve spent an unfortunately great amount of time lately, trying to show the ghost believers that their beliefs are irrational and unsupported, yet, exactly like with the theists, they don’t care about the truth, so long as their beliefs make them feel good.

And the problem is, these people, who I’d say are at least moderately intelligent most of the time, completely fall into the abyss of stupidity when it comes to their irrational beliefs.  They do the same thing that we see among the creationists. One guy, seriously, just said that there is a difference between matter and energy.  Um dude, E=MC^2.  This is really, really stupid stuff, grade school science and they either don’t get it or don’t care.  They want to be right, even if they’re wrong and nothing anyone says is going to change their mind.  Eventually, rational people just have to throw up their hands and walk away because they can’t get through the thick skulls of the passionate believers.  And no, agreeing to disagree is not a valid position to take, as I’ve said in the past.  But then, believing something just because it makes you happy isn’t a valid position to take either and pretty much all theists and conspiracy theorists and pseudo-science believers take their position on blind faith.  They want it to be true, they really don’t care if it actually is.

The time to believe something is so is when there is actual, objective, demonstrable evidence for the thing and not a moment before. Believing that your house is being haunted by a beloved grandparent because you just don’t want to accept that they’re dead and gone is idiotic. Emotional comfort is never a good reason to believe something is so.  Neither are any arguments that start and end with logical fallacies.  Oh no, so many people can’t possibly be wrong!  Sure they can.  Even personal experience isn’t a guarantee, in fact, I’ve yet to see a single person who claims they had an encounter with a ghost not fail miserably when it comes to evaluating the supposed experience rationally.  The fact remains that there’s no good, logical, evidence-based reason to think these things exist, therefore intelligent people shouldn’t believe it. You know, just like religion.

It really is sad to see how many people are gullible and irrational, even if they keep proclaiming their own critical thinking skills, talking to them for a moment or two shows otherwise.  It’s not just religion, it’s every woo belief under the sun and they all share a lot of the same characteristics.  People need to stop being proud to be stupid and irrational.  People need to stop being gullible.  People need to start thinking with their brains, not reacting with their emotions.  This is why the world is so screwed up today.  There’s no reason to think there are ghosts, just like there’s no reason to think there are gods.  If anyone comes up with any hard evidence for ghosts or gods, present it.  Let it be evaluated.  Put up or shut up.

Of course they won’t and they can’t and I think they know it.  They just enjoy being stupid.

 

The Irrational Fear of Death

grave stoneI was in a discussion recently where someone suggested that we, as a species, might want to rethink the practice of burying our dead because it wastes valuable space that could be used for something better.  It’s not a bad question to be sure, although I don’t think we’re out of usable land quite yet so this might be a premature consideration, but one of the people in the discussion completely freaked out and said that we should never, ever do that, that anyone who doesn’t want to be buried and have their body preserved has something wrong with them and that everyone ought to go spend tons of time hanging around with their dead relatives and friends so they can remember them.  Nobody can be cremated, nobody can donate their body to science and nobody can possibly disagree because this woman is absolutely right in her assertions.

Yeah, not so much.  I had to point out that the only reason humans do this is because they tend to have this really irrational, bizarre fear of death so they want to keep their deceased loved ones close so they don’t have to feel they’re truly gone forever.  That’s why we, at least in the United States, tend to put dead people in a box, pumped full of chemicals to retard the natural decomposition process, with stone markers so you don’t forget where they’re buried.  People go out and put flowers on graves for years or decades after their death, just to let the dead know we’re still thinking about them.

But why?  It makes no sense.  Personally, ever since my father was buried over a decade ago, I have never once gone to his graveside, not since the funeral.  Why would I?  He’s dead.  I don’t need to stand in the vicinity of his remains to remember him.  And when my mother dies and gets put into the same hole, she’s got some over/under shared grave thing set up, I’m not going to go see her either.  So far as I know, she’s never gone to the graveside either.  What’s the point?  It doesn’t really matter what your perspective is on the whole thing, if you’re religious, then the soul has left the body and it doesn’t matter.  If you’re not, whatever brain activity that made that person who they were, that stopped at death, the piece of meat in the hole really doesn’t mean anything.

Let’s be honest, it’s all about fear.  You can claim that it’s about respecting the dead and all that but that’s bullshit.  If we’re going to be rational, there’s no point in respecting a hunk of dead meat, any more than we respect a hamburger.  Personally, I couldn’t care less what happens to my body after I’m dead because I’m dead and won’t be aware of it.  Therefore, what difference does it make what’s done with the dead bodies of others?  They’re gone!  What made them who they were isn’t there anymore.  It’s just a shell.  Use it for something worthwhile.

So let’s get back to fear.  I suppose I can understand that fear, although I don’t share it at all.  That doesn’t mean I want to die right this second but when that time comes, I’m not afraid of it, any more than I was afraid of not existing before I was born.  Death is a natural part of life.  Everything that is alive will die.  Everyone you know will die.  In 1000 years, it’s likely that nobody will know you were ever alive or care.  Learning to deal with the reality that actually is, rather than the reality they wish were true, is part of the maturation process.  People who have these strange beliefs and strange fears that make no sense whatsoever really haven’t grown up and become adults.

People really need to knock this stuff off and grow up.  Death isn’t scary.  Non-existence isn’t a big deal.  As Samuel Clemens said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”  Neither will you.

Different Levels of Irrationality

IrrationalThere’s a lot of irrationality in the world and lots of people who hold irrational beliefs who point at other people who hold different irrational beliefs in an accusatory manner, like their own silly beliefs are fine, but those other silly beliefs… HERESY! I ran into someone like that recently, whose hypocrisy was so utterly blatant, yet she was completely blind to it.  We were talking about supernatural claims, whether they were worth considering or not and one woman said that she recognized  belief in gods were irrational, but she  believed in ghosts for personal reasons and argued that belief in ghosts was less irrational than belief in gods.

I asked her how she could justify such a statement and she said that at least belief in ghosts caused no harm to the world, it didn’t order a particular set of morals, it didn’t require people attend services or read books or hold a particular worldview.  To her, the belief in ghosts was totally neutral.

Belief in anything irrational is still irrational and if you recognize that it is irrational at all, then you lose all credibility when you continue to hold that belief.  The level of irrationality is just a justification for a belief, it doesn’t make that belief any better than the true wingnuts out there.  You can’t argue that belief in ghosts is better than belief in unicorns, but worse than a belief in leprechauns.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Unfortunately, she’s convinced, as are many irrational people, that because there are a lot of irrational people in the world, that makes irrationality fine and dandy.  That’s like saying that because there are lots of racists around, that makes racism acceptable.  Essentially, she’s arguing that because other people are crazy, nobody can possibly complain about her own brand of insanity.

Bullshit.

Of course, the discussion isn’t going to go anywhere because she can’t be reasoned with, any more than a theist can.  She’s utterly convinced that her belief in ghosts is valid and true and beyond reproach and no amount of logic or reason is going to convince her otherwise because she doesn’t live in a rational world.  She lives in a world where wanting something to be true is all the evidence that she needs that it actually is.  Funny how much that sounds like religion, isn’t it?

We only need one standard, as I told her.  That standard is based on evidence and reason and logic.  It is based on the best supported position, determined by the best currently-available evidence and, at least so far, the factual existence of ghosts doesn’t meet that standard.  She chose to ignore me, which is hardly unexpected, the delusional don’t get their minds changed by rational arguments, especially when she lives in a world where rationality is fairly non-existent.

More sad insanity for the reader to consider.

The Solution to Frustration is Giving Up?

keep-strong-and-never-give-up-2I’ve become increasingly frustrated with stupidity of late, not just in the religious or political realm, but in dealing with people in general.  People are stupid cattle that I’m becoming convinced ought to be run off a cliff for their own good.  I took a look online, just to see what people suggested when you’ve come to the end of your frustration rope and can’t take the stupid any longer and you know what the #1 suggestion is?

Give up.  Lower your expectations.  Stop worrying about it.

I can’t tell you how stupid that idea actually is.  It’s like saying that when people are tired of being robbed and beaten and raped and murdered, instead of doing something to stop it, they ought to just give up and let it happen because it’s going to happen anyhow.

The whole point ought to be to fix the problem and I know that the problem is difficult to fix, at least as a whole in a single go.  In fact, if we remember back just a couple of years, most atheists, myself included, were convinced that religion would be with us for many centuries to come, but recently it’s become clear that religion in the first world is rapidly losing it’s grip and we’re seeing much larger changes than anyone, especially myself, would have ever dreamed of.

Of course, in that time period, I’ve also become convinced that the real problem is human irrationality. Religion is just  a symptom, it isn’t the cause of the problem  Once we throw off the shackles of religion, people are still apt to be stupid and irrational and that might go on for several centuries.

But isn’t that what we said about religion?  We were wrong there, maybe we’re wrong about irrationality too?  Maybe, in a mere 10-20 years, people will start to think more intelligently and more critically and all the other things, the conspiracy theories, the nonsensical woo, that’ll all start to go away too?  I certainly hope so

So what do we do in the meantime?  Just like I have no interest in dealing with the religious loony-toons, the people who haven’t an intelligent thought in their head regarding their faith, I also don’t want to deal with the other woo-mongers.  I don’t want to be around the anti-vaccers, the anti-GMO idiots, the conspiracy theorists, those that are so intellectually bankrupt that they’ll fall for anything that gives them an emotional ego boost.  It’s even absurdly prevalent among many atheists who are not interested in thinking intelligently about their beliefs, sometimes even about religion, they just want their egos stroked and they’ll believe any load of crap that comes floating down the river.

I’m hoping that, in very short order, we’ll start seeing rationalist communities online, just as we saw atheist communities a decade ago. People who are sick and tired of dealing with the morons that surround them and want to join together for intellectual discussions.  I’ll be the first in line to join, even though I am not a joiner by nature.

Anyone want to help start such a community?

The Woo is Strong in This One

pseudoscienceI was recently having a conversation with someone who is completely in love with various medical woo claims, from homeopathic nonsense to poking yourself with needles to chiropractic stupidity.  All of the failures of these various and sundry woo claims don’t work on him, he’s convinced that these things must work because credulous people that he knows who have used these things have said that they worked.  When you point out that science has proven them false, he doesn’t care because he’s convinced that someday, science will discover that the scientific method isn’t the only game in town.

Yes, he wants science to embrace a method of evaluating claims that has nothing to do with the scientific method.

I’ve seen it before, of course, woo-peddlers who think that there will come a day when they’ll be able to prove the supernatural and other absurd ideas and they just have to keep the faith until that day comes.  I pointed out all of this and now, he’ll no longer talk to me.  His final sad attempt was to claim that the scientific method changes and someday, we’ll all acknowledge that he was right all along.  No, sorry, the scientific method doesn’t change, scientific knowledge, gained through the scientific method, does as we learn more about the world around us.  This guy is seriously convinced that you can do science without the scientific method, as though they are two completely different things.  Maybe you can do science via religious faith?  Nope, sorry.  The clue is there in the name, “the scientific method”.  It is the method that is used to do science.  It is the method that has always been done to do science and will always be used to do science.  And here’s the kicker, it’s the only method that we’ve found so far that provides testable results and allows for demonstrable predictions.  That’s why we use it.

It always disgusts me to see how many of these absurd woo-peddlers try exactly the same thing, and it’s true of the religious as well, who think that their ridiculous ideas will some day be borne out by some magical change in science.  When you tell them that nobody should believe anything until it actually is supported by objective science, they give  you a dirty look and move on to discuss their stupidity with people who aren’t so grounded in reality.

This is really why I get so tired of debating these idiots.  It’s always the same.  I could write out the script before I even start.  They don’t respond well to rational arguments and expectations that they can actually back up what they claim.  It’s just arm-waving nonsense and when it’s clear that you won’t stoop to their irrational level, they insult you and go elsewhere.  Honestly, we need to have a plague that kills the stupid and gullible.

What’s Wrong With Medicine?

homeopathyI originally thought this was yet another one for the Religious Horror Show, but it turns out that there is no demonstrable link to religion.  There is, however, a very strong link to homeopathy and that’s yet another irrational belief that no intelligent human being ought to hold because, as we’re about to find out, it can and does lead to death.

A 44-year old mother, Tamara Lovett, from Calgary, British Columbia, is facing, and has probably already been convicted of, charges of negligence and failure to provide the necessities of life in connection with the death of her seven-year-old son, Ryan Alexander Lovett, who died of a treatable bacterial infection in March.  Lovett failed to take her sick 7-year old son to the hospital, instead choosing to treat him with homeopathic drugs, which are essentially water.  The boy, who had been sick for at least 10 days before his death, looked very ill and several of the mother’s friends had seriously advised her to seek immediate medical treatment.  On the boy’s final day, she called 911 and when paramedics arrived, he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Lovett“It should absolutely serve as a warning to other parents,” said Calgary Police Service Staff Sergeant Michael Cavilla. “The message is quite simple: If your child is sick, take them to see a doctor.”  According to officials, Ryan Lovett had absolutely no medical records, he has almost certainly never been to a doctor in his entire life. The autopsy revealed that Ryan died of a Group A Streptococcus infection which was easily treatable, had he been taken to a credible doctor.

I’m sorry, but why is that a message we have to give to parents?  Why are there still people in the world who can’t figure out that medical quackery and religion don’t actually solve any problems?  This shouldn’t be an issue in the modern world.  At least in Canada, it is illegal to deny children food, shelter, care and medical attention necessary to sustain life and protection from harm, regardless of one’s beliefs.  That’s something we really need to have in the United States and I’m not sure why we don’t.

“If you do not provide medical attention for your sick child, you will be held accountable,” said Cavilla. “The legal requirement is that she get medical attention through traditional western medicine to deal with the illness. And in this case it was a bacterial infection that could have been easily treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.”

So here’s another dead kid, killed by the woo-beliefs of his parent and while she’s likely going away for a long, long time, that doesn’t bring him back to life.  It really doesn’t matter if it’s religion or not, it’s all asinine, absurd and utterly indefensible.

Why won’t these people just recognize reality?