I Get Mail – Medicine’s A Killer? Only if you don’t understand how it works

There are people who honestly think that medicine makes the world a worse place to live in. That if somehow we replace it with the holy grail of alternative medicine then all our ills will be cured and we will live long healthy lives bereft of any problems and die happy.

But the fact of the matter is that many people simply don’t get how medicine works. [Read more...]

I Steal PZ Myers’ Mail

Dear PZ,

I’ve lurked since forever at Pharyngula, and wanted to ask so many questions, but feared ridicule and contempt. I wish there were room for folks like me at FTB.

There is. Plenty of room. Voices can be heard. Oh you may hear about us banning those who speak up but frankly? Only two people on my blog have been banned. One was an anonymous poster who spewed horrific racism and sexism and insults at someone I love and care for deeply.

The other was a man who quoted gigantic walls of highly bigotted text that bashed everyone and anyone who wasn’t white and Christian. Both had that coming to them. I welcome questions because it is by dialogue that we progress as a society.

I’m what you could call an extreme agnostic, and to the bone, a secular humanist. To keep peace in the family, I do not advertise. But here it is…I still find myself, in moments of extreme stress, essentially falling back on the “prayer” release.

You can be a secular humanist and still believe in a god you know. It just means you don’t invoke your religious view when you do humanist things.

I personally think that prayer is a safety blanket. Or like Duck and Cover. Duck and Cover doesn’t really protect you from the awesome power of a nuclear weapon. Your safety blanket only works against the fictional monsters that your mind creates. So when we are losing control we rely on prayer to trick ourselves into believing that there is some control over our lives.

Prayer has always been a method of control of the uncontrollable. It is like trying to convince a thunderstorm to do your bidding.

But it does provide relief mainly because we are told from a young age that it provides relief. Pray for x, y and z! A happened? Pray! You want B to happen? Pray! And that’s a part of how we think.

As in, “Dear God, if you do actually exist, and you are not actually an irrational, misogynist, kill-happy sociopath, could you please do something about X?”

Heh well Hindus like their sociopath gods. Makes em human and more easily relatable when you think that Shiva gets jealous of stuff and Krishna still has a love of sweets and sneaks em when no one’s looking. It also means that their gods are more “likely” to do something. Jesus died for your sins? Krishna died 9 times to save the universe.

Read about other faiths. It may surprise you on how much more there is to religion and indeed by association how much more there is to not believing.

How does a non-believer get past this NEED to do something, anything…when there really is nothing that can be done at all?

By realising that there are things we can do and things we cannot.

And by that sometimes impossible things are merely improbable and often just “difficult”. I am a firm believer of getting your hands dirty. Can’t be a human being without a bit of humanity after all and getting those hands dirty reminds you of the people who don’t have the choice and in some way gets you to think about others.

Sometimes you cannot do anything about the choice. Sometimes the two choices you have are bad. And at such times you can take the path of least damage. You cannot stop an earthquake.

But what you can do as a human is be selfless in that moment and make the lousy world a little bit better for someone with what you can do.

Thank You for your time.

No Worries.

A Response to Believerskeptic – It’s not racism, it’s blog architecture

It’s amazing.

If someone here on FTB starts a very hypothetical, very academic, “Gosh, does white privilege really exist?” sort of conversation, it will get 200+ comments.

Actually there is a reason for that.

Well two.

Academia is meant to create discussion. People discuss “Academia” all the time! This was a “What a tosser” post. What can you say here? I mean the discussion on this would boil down to “Yes Avicenna, this is Acceptable” and “No! You should join the Stormfront!”. [Read more...]

I Get Mail – Did you really write 18000 words on Afghanistani culture and the MRA who approves of it?

Yes. Yes I did.

It’s not exactly 18,000 words though. It’s around 14,000 words. The other 4000 or so are the words I have quoted from the MRA.

How long did it take?

7 hours or so.

I may have finished earlier, I was playing Football Manager at the time

Why?

Because the people of Afghanistan and indeed Muslims fight two battles. One against their theocrats, fundamentalists and their faith. They struggle to associate a clearly out of touch faith with a vibrant modern world while their “leaders” are often dangerous traps. They don’t want their kids growing up to “Hate the Great Satan” but their kids fall in with preachers who do.

When the 7/7 bombings happened in the UK, there was a lot of people who were puzzled. The Muslim community of Leeds and Bradford were stunned. The bombers were “Nice” kids. They were normal. Some of them were loved even. Sure they got into trouble but what lad hasn’t in the UK’s “male culture”?

How did you know so much about it?

Experience from talking to the few Pashtun and Afghan people. Reading about it helped too and ultimately paying attention to the region and to people coming out of the region.

It’s not a cut and shut case. We have been treating Afghanistan like a country when it really is a series of tribes. Asking them to pay allegience to a flag all of a sudden is not possible. The formation of the Sioux Nation required a cohesive movement among them to shift from tribes to a loyalty to the “Sioux”. Afghanistan has not had that yet. There has been no leader among all Afghans to make them unite nor has there been any external force since the Russians that made them unite (and that worked out poorly because they united under luddites who broke their nation apart).

There are a lot of stories coming out of Afghanistan. They involve progress but also chart the monumental fight we have on our hands to get people the things they need. And the problem is decades of Islamic Fundie rule has resulted in people losing the knowledge to understand that there are some things that they need. Sometimes you are trying to get them to accept ideas that aren’t all that clear to them.

The argument Karen Strachan made was one that was echoed by various “Anti-west” sentiments about the liberation of women.

I often say that women are complicit in the systems of abuse because of the preponderance of wife burning being committed by the Mother In Laws. We see it in the west with slut shaming to a lesser extent. We see it in Afghanistan too. We need a generation of women who will ignore what happened to them painful as it may be and throw open the curtain of purdah and push their girls out the door. Force them to be the generation of changes.

Many of the women who were burned by acid were sadly burned by other women.

As I said.. Both sides are oppressed by the Afghanistani culture.

It’s just that women are oppressed by the culture and by men too.

And it’s our duty to keep eyes on Afghanistan and try and keep them free rather than watch them backslide into the hands of forces lik the Taliban.

Why did you write so much?

Because it was needed. Because you have to see every side of the argument you were making without some MRA coming in to tell you that it’s because I was quote mining.

And nearly everything in there was horrible. It was hard to pick parts to quote.

I Get Male – Beta Blocker

I have generally stayed out of the whole anti-FTB malarky unless it lands on my door. For those who are unaware? There are a sizeable group of people on Reddit and a forum called the Slymepit who actively dislike pretty much anything Freethought Blogs does.

On Reddit this manifests as “guaranteed downvotes” to any posts that are hosted here.

This has manifest in some very bizarre posts. I had my “Stand on the street and provide healthcare for protesters during the Indian Rape Riot” reports downvoted into oblivion. Just a few days ago Rock Beyond Belief had a post about why DOMA needs to be repealed and what it meant to a soldier with a same sex partner who served. Also down voted.

Why? Well either r/atheism’s “protest” by down voting blog content is so “principled” that it is willing to stick to the notion that blog posts are less important than memes even when down voting actual useful content from people such as Rock Beyond Belief or it just doesn’t like the platform.

TIme and time again I have been told that I only blog for the money (All $1.5 to $2 a day) or that I am some sort of feminazi ruining atheism by my actions (If anything I would have thought people would be happy to have me represent atheism).

And so with that we come to some hate mail. [Read more...]

A Voice for Me – Now Sinking to a New Low

I got this on a link from someone who was also disgusted by this. (Some names have been changed to protect people)

I “know” an accidental paedophile. We met a lovely lady in a nightclub. My friend pulled that night and went out with her for a couple of weeks. She “looked young compared to him” but she said she was my age. I had suffered an accident recently and looked like death warmed over so I was in a poor state to judge appearances. [Read more...]