Archive for the 'Absurd religious wingnutery' category

Chopra, soul, and a big, insoluble mess

The recent arrests of the Hutaree cult here in Michigan are part of a tradition of militant separatism in this part of the country, beginning with the militia movements in the late 20th century and climaxing (hopefully) in the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. This latest incident is interesting in that it appears to share some qualities of the militia movement, the Christian Identity movement, and the Tea Party movement (although what sorts of ideologic connections there really are will take some time to figure out.)

Cults in general scare me. They scare me not just because of their acts and their ideas, but their attractiveness. They have the ability not just to attract those of similar ideas, but they also seduce those who may simply be vulnerable to their philosophies. The flames of hatred are being fanned by those on the right, including teabaggers and so-called mainstream right wing commentators. The economic times, an "ethnic" president who represents the future of the US population, and an utter failure of others on the right to speak out against the hate feed these right-wing violence cults.

But cults don't just feed on hatred. Cults, like street gangs, also seduce with love, with pleasant-sounding ideas that are congruent with and confirm one's own beliefs. The antivaccine movement (as opposed to individuals with their individual beliefs) are a cult. They have charismatic leaders (such as Barbara Loe Fisher, JB Handley, and Jenny McCarthy), they have their own beliefs that are impervious to the assault of actual facts, and they accrue followers, spreading their lies. Their lies have helped to lower vaccination rates and increase the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. And their success depends upon a general cheapening of the meaning of "experts", and a vilification of earned scientific authority when it disagrees with their beliefs.

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17 responses so far

So-called animal rights activists are evil and idiotic

Mar 15 2010 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery

I learned from a couple of colleagues (who I won't name) a couple of facts that reinforce just how hypocritical, hateful, and inane animal rights activists can be.
First, the terrorists are still targeting researcher Dario Ringach. Ringach, a former primate researcher, left the field due to violent pressure from these assholes. He's done. He is a former primate researcher. But for these goatfuckers, it has never been about helping animals but hurting people.
The Houston Press is reporting that those charged with participating in a large dogfighting ring in Texas served little or no time. As far as I can discover, none has received as much as a nasty postcard. (Nor am I suggesting they be harassed. The courts have spoken. If you're pissed, write your representative.)
So the animal rights anencephaly squad are spending their resources and hate on ex-researchers, people who used animals under close scrutiny and regulation for the betterment of humanity, instead of going after people who torture animals for pleasure and monetary gain. What a bunch of fucking idiots.

11 responses so far

Why I'm disappointed with Garrison Keillor

I don't know if Garrison Keillor is anti-semitic and I don't really care, but the question was raised by his Christmas editorial at Salon.com. After reading it last month I decided I had nothing to say about it. Who really cares what Garrison Keillor says, right?
This morning I was on my way to work and yesterday's Prairie Home Companion came on. I found my hand reaching for the dial to change the channel. Then I realized why I haven't been able to get this out of my head.
I've been listening to PHC for about 20 years. I always enjoyed the quirky humor and most of all the music. When I was younger and searching for my identity, I felt a real connection to the music, as an American and as a Midwesterner. We have a real streak of Appalachia in my part of the country despite being pretty far from the mountains and I love bluegrass and mountain music, even though much of it has a gospel theme. What Garrison reminded my last month is that the music isn't really mine. My connection to it is in my imagination. I may want it, but it doesn't want me.
I love the winter holidays, the light they bring to a dark time of year. My favorite is Channukah, given it's the one I celebrate, but I love my neighbors' Christmas lights, my wife and daughter love to listen to Christmas music on the radio. What I didn't realize, perhaps because of my own willful blindness, is that as much as I feel I am a part of all of this, I am not. Keillor took away my Christmas, took away my identity as an American, a Midwesterner, and a lover of bluegrass music.
Of course I'm not about to change, really. I still love music, I'm still a Midwesterner and an American. But now when I turn on the radio on Saturday evening, I'm not going to be tuning in to Keillor---he shattered my illusion of belonging, and I wish to guard that illusion a little bit longer.

76 responses so far

Fantasy is powerful, especially if you're a delusional idiot like Chopra

Wouldn't it be cool if after we died we didn't...die? Just like in the fairy tales, we could go to some place where we play harps on clouds and eat marshmallows for breakfast; we could play with our dead dogs, and somehow manage to live in harmony with all of our dead lovers. Unless we go to a place of flames and unending agony. Or maybe we become squid-like creatures in the oceans of Titan--all are equally (un)likely.

Except to those so mired in thanatophobia and fantasy that they can no longer reason properly. It's not like this is a new problem, but my eyes were bleeding after seeing Deepak Chopra on Larry King the other night (transcript here). Chopra launched into his usual vitalist idiocy.  The reason I even care about this is that Chopra promotes himself as a doctor and often applies his dualist religious beliefs to medicine.  Eww.  

Chopra's approach is always one of unfounded assertion and ridicule.  He asserts his belief, and then ridicules those who ask him what the hell he's talking about.  Here, let him show you:

There's a lot of interesting science that our consciousness, which is the place where we perceive, think, emote, imagine, have insight, intuition, choice-making -- that this part of us is not a product of our brain.
You know, scientists have, until recently, believed that, you know, just like your gallbladder secretes bile and your pancreas secretes pancreatic juice, your brain secretes imagination...

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41 responses so far

Death of a scam artist

Dec 16 2009 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery

Oral Robers, a man infamous for his televangelism and faith healing, died yesterday. The coverage of his life helps remind me why I'm a skeptic. There are many wonderful skeptical bloggers out there---I'm not one of them. Sure, I aim a skeptical pen at improbable medical claims, but my posts aren't dripping with skepticism in the same way some of my favorite blogs are. But from time to time, it's good to remember why skepticism is a very good way to approach the world.
Oral Roberts was a scam artist. He built an evangelical empire on the wallets of his victims. He famously told his marks that God would strike him dead if they didn't send him eight million dollars. The man was no better than a drunken carny keeping teddy bears from toddlers, but he had significantly greater reach.

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6 responses so far

Just a bit more on Merry Xmas

Dec 11 2009 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery

I guess I hadn't realized how attached people are to their holiday greetings. There are a number of comments that deserve some examination here, at least if you have any interest in living comfortably in a multi-cultural society. Since it's my blog, I get to yank the comments out of context and focus on some misconceptions.

  • "Christmas has become as much a cultural holiday as a religious one."  

    That is an opinion that may be shared by many majoritarians. But for many Jews for example, there will never be anything secular about Christmas. Sure, there are Jews who get Christmas trees and give presents as a secular winter celebration, but that's not the norm. I am not delivering an indictment of Christmas, holiday wishes, or Jews who do Christmas but simply letting you know that not everyone is the same as you.

  • "I think I'm beginning to get it. If the majority of people celebrate a cultural thing, it's bad because it's not sensitive to those who don't celebrate it."

    No, that would be stupid, and I suspect that this is a deliberate, defensive posture taken by many majoritarians when people point out that their assumption of a normative status actually has an effect on other people. People who are part of a minority get that they are a minority. We get that most people do things differently and always will. Many of us hope, however, that the majority will try to be sensitive to the fact that not everyone is the same. I strongly suspect that most African Americans don't expect white people to turn black, but would like the majority to recognize that being black comes with a different set of societal assumptions and experiences than being white, and that being white often confers a set of privileges not immediately available to others.

  • "I never understood why it would be bizarre or uncomfortable to wish someone a happy [your holiday but not theirs]. If you get a different happy [their holiday but not yours] back, it means you will have been wished an EXTRA happy day..."

    Yes, that's pretty much the point. If you grow up as part of the majority culture, you are unlikely to intuitively "get it", and there's nothing wrong with that. It's considered a polite part of living in a civilized society to try to "get it". I hope and suspect that most "Merry Xmas's" are benign and meant to convey a kind word. I also know that motives are not always benign.

I am trying to help you of the majority understand what we of the minority often understand: that when you assume that Christmas is some sort of normative default, you are implying, whether you mean to or not, that the rest of us are "other" or "abnormal".

I'm cool with being other. I'm part of a minority and I have no intention of changing that to increase my comfort level among majoritarians. Neither do I expect the majority to stop celebrating Christmas or stop saying "Merry Christmas". But, as a member of a diverse society, I would respectfully suggest that people try to be aware.

45 responses so far

Thank you for desecrating my grave

Oct 08 2009 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery

I try not to get involved over at PZ's place, but his post today just sucked me right in. To catch you up, in a case before the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia argued that a cross can actually be a secular symbol used to honor the dead.

"I assume it [the cross] is erected in honor of all of the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of ... of ... of the resting place of the dead."

Um, Tony? My cemetery doesn't have a single cross. In fact, none of my relatives is buried at a cemetery with crosses in it. What's up with that?
I must be some sort of freak. If these cross things are so common, how come none of my peeps have them on their graves? I shouldn't feel bad. According to Scalia, the cross is for Yids, to:

"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead the cross honors are the Christian war dead," thunders Scalia. "I think that's an outrageous conclusion!"

See, the symbol of the cross, whose only common use is to symbolize the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ in Christian mythology, is secular, and Jew-boys like me should feel honored that generous Christians might adorn my grave with one. How can I turn down a gift like that?

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27 responses so far

Sarah Palin's immoral rantings

Aug 10 2009 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery, Health care reform

The Right likes to hold up Sarah Palin as a beacon of morality and virtue in an irredeemably corrupt world. But with her latest words, she has shown herself to be either an immoral, lying sack of crap, or severely cognitively impaired.

And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Such as system, were it to to exist, or even to be proposed, would be evil. Since no one has proposed any such thing, Palin has Godwined herself even closer to irrelevancy.

21 responses so far

Mercy for father who murdered his child?

Aug 02 2009 Published by under Absurd medical claims, Absurd religious wingnutery

If you haven't heard by now, the parents who murdered their diabetic daughter are getting a taste of justice. This week Dale Neumann, the father of the diabetic girl whom he and his wife watch die in their home while giving only "prayer", was found guilty of reckless homicide. Death by diabetic ketoacidosis is not pretty. The symptoms start with extreme thirst and frequent urination. Then the person develops headaches, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Eventually, they become confused and lethargic, then lapse into a coma before dying. The discovery of insulin has made this event rare, at least for most diabetics.
But not for Madeline Kara Neumann, whose parents watched and prayed as she died painfully in their home. How should justice be done? The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reports:

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75 responses so far

Rush Limbaugh---America's spewing rectum of idiocy

Jun 11 2009 Published by under Absurd religious wingnutery, Politics

I know, I know, I don't usually do politics, but Rush is really chapping my ass right about now. His comments are always outrageously hate-filled diatribes, and he's getting harder to ignore every day. What's worse, his followers eagerly suckle at the teat intolerance, finding solace in his affirmation of their own bigotry. And finally, he is cynical beyond any hope of redemption.
First, he is virtually a Holocaust denier, and as we know, Holocaust denial is always a manifestation of hatred of Jews.

"He [Obama] is beating Germany up. He is ripping them to shreds over something they did 60 years ago. One day after praising all of Islam. Now can you imagine, there's of course Elie Wiesel gets up there and he does his thing but it's 65 years here or close to it...He's up there and he's ripping Germany for what it did 60 or 65 years ago, blah, blah, blah, blah. One day after praising to the hilt Islam, and talking about Islam, how America is a Muslim nation, so forth."

The German people have been rather careful to avoid forgetting their not-so-distant past, and I don't think they need Rush to tell them to "get over it". When your nation is responsible for a massive genocide committed in living memory, forgetting is rather dangerous. But Rush can play both sides of this one. Regarding the attack at the Holocaust Memorial:

The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, may have been one of the shooter's targets. You know why? Because the Weekly Standard is edited by "neocons," Jewish people who are big on US foreign policy and defense of Israel. Leftist-type conspiracy theories. This guy may have been targeting a conservative publication.
[...]
A hater, a nutcase who hates neocons -- i.e., Jews -- this von Brunn guy, attacks the Holocaust museum and has in his possession the address of the Weekly Standard, a publication that is run by neocons, a term invented by liberals as a code word to describe Jews who run American foreign policy for the express defense of Israel. So this hater of neocons, hater of conservative Jews, von Brunn, attacks the Holocaust museum. There is another guy who hates neocons. His name is Chris Matthews. And he works at MSNBC, which is a network of endless hate.

Somehow, in Rush's opiate-addled mind, neocon=Jew, and an attack on Jews is an attack on neocons, meaning that the attacker is a liberal. Got that?
I've got news for you Rush. The Jewish people aren't new at this. We can recognize exploitation pretty easily, and your tortured reasoning reveals your own bigotry. "Neocon" is not the same as "Jew"---it is a common trope touted by isolationist antisemites. Also, neocon views are not a common "Jewish value". The fact that some prominent neocons are Jewish and that you exploit this fact for your own political ends, makes you an idiot and an antisemitic bigot. And the Standard wasn't targeted (if it was even targeted) because it is conservative. If it was targeted, it was because, in the hateful mind of the shooter, the Standard=Jews---neocons are the "collateral damage", not Jews. Violent antisemites target Jewish victims, some of whom may be conservative. They do not target conservatives, some of whom happen to be Jewish. If you read the twisted writings of the shooter (whose name isn't fit to be typed), he was a violent bigot, not an MSNBC-driven hunter of neocons.
He's got a lot in common with you, Rush.

93 responses so far

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