Don’t argue, babe, it’s SCIENCE!

You know, my wife and I have been married for over 30 years now, and I’ve been trying to explain proper marital roles to her, and she never listens. But now she’ll have to, because I’ve got this.

Years of doing chores around the house, including ironing, dishwashing, vacuuming and dusting, could turn heterosexual men gay, according to the results of a study headed by Dr. Kareem Ongyz, Turkey’s most famous sexologist from the University of Istanbul’s psychology department.

See? He’s a Dr, and he does studies. Checkmate, feminists and gay rights activists!

[Update: no, it’s a spoof. Still funny tho, just slightly less ironic.]

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OMG, Biblical Christianity is dying!

Now this is more like what I was expecting yesterday: overblown Christian hysteria in reaction to Election Day’s free reality check. Writing for forbes.com, Bill Flax weeps and wails over the imminent demise of Biblical Christianity in America.

And it’s all a terrible misunderstanding. Christians never wanted a culture war, you see. They just wanted to be left alone. If only those mean old liberals had just given them the chance to stay quiet and neutral on issues of society and morality.

In the election’s aftermath, the culture war looks like a rout. Few ever relished this fight; most preferred simply to be left alone. We aren’t community organizers. Sadly, neutrality was not realistic. No, being Switzerland was never an option. By not defending America’s heritage of limited government, free markets and biblical morality, we’re being overrun a la Belgium.

Yes, those poor disorganized believers who were barely able to raise billions of dollars and initiate successful drives to add anti-gay amendments to the constitutions of roughly two-thirds of the states in the Union—they aren’t community organizers. They’ve never defended limited government, free markets, or biblical morality. They’re all just weak and helpless victims here.

Come on, work with me on this one.

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A persecuted church

I thought this story might be an amusing look at yet another Christian group hypocritically claiming martyrdom and persecution. It isn’t.

A decade ago, God spoke to Jane Whaley, and she says he told her to fight…

“God told me, ‘Jane, you are at the beginning of a holocaust,’ ” Whaley says. “Before … we turned the other cheek. We let them run all over us. And God said, ‘Jane, they’re going to close your doors if you don’t rise up and fight.’ ”

Sure, just another believer making extravagant claims that their “persecution” was going to be just like Hitler wiping out millions of Jews, right? I hope that’s all it is. Then again, even David Koresh had to start somewhere.

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Taking Back the Public Schools

Writing for The New American, Sam Blumenfeld has a plan for taking back the public schools from “the socialists” who, according to Blumenfeld, have been engaging in a decades-long plot to produce functional illiterates so that they will grow up to be Democrats. (Yeah, the whole piece is like that.) And his strategy involves, not better funding for public schools, or reducing the burdensome, irrelevant, and unfunded overhead imposed by Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative. No, his strategy is to get parents to push school boards to reject what he calls the “whole language” approach to reading education, and replace it with a phonics-based program instead.

But the parents who put their children in these schools want them to be taught to read. They are the natural allies of the conservatives who want to take the schools back. Just as Obama as community organizer organized the “have-nots” into a local political force, so must conservatives organize parents in their communities — White, Latino, and African American — to pressure school boards to start teaching their children to read with intensive phonics. They can be called Parents for Literacy.

Of course, a phonics-based reading program will need a curriculum specifically designed to teach phonics. I wonder where the schools will be able to find such a thing?

First, we propose that the school board authorize the creation of a pilot program in which Alpha-Phonics is used to teach the worst readers to read. The program will prove that all children can be taught to read provided the correct teaching method is used. Now there are other very good phonics programs in existence, but as the author of Alpha-Phonics, I know how well it works and how inexpensive it is. The board may claim that they don’t have the money for this project. Yet they have enough money for programs that don’t work.

Hey, that’s great, we’ll all just buy his book. Lucky for us we have this opportunity, eh? We don’t even have to give the school district any more money to do it, ’cause they can just use the money they’ve been spending on “bad” programs.

Personally, I’m all for quality reading education, because I had one. That’s one of the ways I can recognize a scam when I see one.

Feminism in outer space

I have a long-ish commute, and I drive an “affordable” car. Apparently, though,  it has a really good radio, because I think I was picking up a talk show from another planet. The guest and hosts were discussing feminism in the context of the guest’s new book about “God’s 10 Gifts for Women,” and the description of feminism was like nothing I’ve seen on this Earth. Did I mention it was a Christian radio station?

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Miracles and the power of suggestion

According to a story in the New York Times, the placebo effect isn’t just limited to a drug’s expected benefits. People can and do suffer negative side effects as a result of believing they are taking real drugs. It’s called the “nocebo” effect.

In a curious study, a team of Italian gastroenterologists asked people with and without diagnosed lactose intolerance to take lactose for an experiment on its effects on bowel symptoms. But in reality the participants received glucose, which does not harm the gut. Nonetheless, 44 percent of people with known lactose intolerance and 26 percent of those without lactose intolerance complained of gastrointestinal symptoms.

In one remarkable case, a participant in an antidepressant drug trial was given placebo tablets — and then swallowed 26 of them in a suicide attempt. Even though the tablets were harmless, the participant’s blood pressure dropped perilously low.

Is it any wonder that people have reported similarly astonishing effects produced from things like God, or demons? Influencing the imagination can and does produce measurable physical effects on the body, even in the absence of the things that are supposed to be causing them.

Something to think about the next time you’re flipping through the channels and find some shiny clean evangelist “healing” people.

My new favorite religion

For some reason I don’t seem to attract the kind of crank email that, say, PZ Myers gets, but now and then I stumble across a bit of good material. It happened to me this weekend: I was in the store buying vitamins, and noticed that someone had discretely slipped a copy of “Prophetic Observer” into one of the displays. (Talk about a bold witness, eh?) Published by Southwest Radio Ministries and the Southwest Radio Church of the Air, this was a full tabloid-sized four-page newsletter containing a single article: “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” by Noah W. Hutchings. And man, it brings the crazy.

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An odd response

My latest post at Evangelical Realism seems to have attracted the attention of a self-described “New Evangelist” named David Roemer. It’s an odd response, though. My post was about William Lane Craig’s problems with the doctrine of Hell and Christian exclusivism, and, well, see if you can tell what (if anything) Roemer’s response has to do with the post he’s responding to.

There are three theories about our purpose in life: 1) To serve God in this world in order to be with Him in the next. 2) Life has no meaning. Man is a “useless passion” is the way Jean Paul Sartre put it. 3) To achieve self-realization and serve our fellow man.

There is a considerable amount of evidence for #1, some for #2, but none at all for #3. # 3 is irrational because we can achieve self-realization in different ways. The problem of life is deciding how to achieve self-realization. Concerning # 1, we are not guaranteed salvation. It is something to hope for with “fear and trembling

That’s the whole post response, including the two missing punctuation marks at the end. But what does he mean by this odd response?

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ID creationists and their grasp of “reality”

The Coppedge v. JPL and CalTech lawsuit is living up to its early promise and perhaps even surpassing it. David Coppedge himself has submitted a deposition which includes—I am not making this up—a screenplay in which he fantasizes about his co-workers reduced to tears and desperately searching for a way to escape from the invincible correctness of ID propaganda. Here’s a tiny sample.

WEISENFELDER

…and there was a sticky note on the DVD package. It had names on it and – I think he’s trying to keep track of who he loans his DVDs out to. I don’t want him to offer me DVDs ever again. I can’t take it. I just can’t! …

You know, I’m an ordained minister in the Metaphysical Interfaith Church and I –

[NARRATOR (or something)]

According to Weisenfelder, she “feared” Coppedge would try to loan her another DVD when she did not want him to contact her again. (Weisenfelder Dep. Tr. 159:25-161-4). This is a difficult thriller to appreciate without more information, but that’s where Weisenfelder’s dramatic confrontation with Coppedge ends.

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