Lookout, it’s projecting!

This weekend, I’m happy to say I’ll be giving a lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I plan to explain what Texas deems ‘essential knowledge and skills‘ regarding instruction on evolution, as it is introduced -even to home school students- at the high school level.

Now why is a factual education so much better than politicized pseudoscience propaganda? Just today I saw the answer to that question beautifully-illustrated by an overtly hostile vitriolic reactionary blog, posted by a fundamentalist extremist presuppositionalist. According to this post by Dr. David Shormann, it is not those who ignore who are ignorant. It is not those who pre-judge who are prejudiced, but those who withhold judgement pending analysis. He says those who’s positions are tentative, malleable, and dependent on evidence are the biased ones, not the ones who have assumed their conclusions at the onset and won’t hear anything else. He says those who are governed by reason have actually rejected reason, while those who believe on faith -with no explanation or justification- are the ones who have and embrace reason. He says those who rely on evidence and logic are ‘irrational’, rather than those who assume their beliefs on faith, and then refuse to be reasoned with. In Shormann’s world, empiricists like myself are the ones who believe in magic, and not those who are convinced of an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source. The ‘bigots’ aren’t the ones who are obstinately or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions, (as explained in their statement of faith) but rather those who can still be objective, having no obligation to any a-priori conclusion.  Shormann’s post is attempting to reverse everything, just as I said in Kamloops. It really is the case that the creationists’ position has not progressed beyond the playground retort of “I know you are, but what am I”,

We are demonstrating to alert concerned home-school parents to the fact that the speakers at their event are frauds and con-men lying to children to undermine their education, and that there is no truth to be found in their pseudoscience lessons. Yet none of our number would bother the Woodlands Waterway Marriott for allowing such a sham to take place on their site. However Shormann has rallied his horde to harass the museum’s director of visitor services, trying to pressure him into cancelling our reservation. Shormann himself tried to do that by implying that advocates of education on evolution are secretly violently anti-semitic neo-Nazis. That’s what he said in his blog!

Now even though the word, ‘intolerance’ has historically rarely been seen without the word, ‘religious‘ as its usual prefix, most of these sort of sensationalist propagandists tend to accuse egalitarian lefty-liberal ‘Darwinists’ of being godless Nazi fascists from the far right. It doesn’t matter about the 1st foundational falsehood of creationism, nor the erroneous association of evolution and racism.  It doesn’t matter that many of the most historic evolutionary biologists were Christian. It doesn’t matter that Hitler was openly and obviously a self-proclaimed Christian creationist. Neither does it matter that Darwin argued that the word, ‘race’ was meaningless when applied to humans, that he expressed a preference for dark-skinned natives, that he protested eugenics, and vowed never to return to a country (like the US) that still allowed slavery. It doesn’t matter what the facts are if it doesn’t matter what the truth is. Religious fundamentalists can’t seem to compose any commentary on unbelievers without evoking Godwin’s law, and Shormann does that early on. But he breaks with tradition by demonizing me for being a capitalist, where most of his ilk might have accused me of being a socialist or a communist instead. Remember, this is while he accuses ME of intolerance.

Why are they behaving so reprehensibly? Because an animal is never more dangerous than when it is wounded, and by challenging creationism, we are killing a cash cow, sacred to those who would otherwise have to return to selling snake oil. By hurting the popularity of mystic woo, we are diminishing power and profits. We have struck a nerve, and it’s going to bite back. So expect more of this type behavior, because it’s only going to get worse.

Creationism is all about lies of equivocation, and projecting their own faults onto others who will not share them, while claiming our exclusive virtues as their own.  As you read Shormann’s blog post, remember that he is one of the presenters to the Texas Home School Coalition Conference alongside Ken Ham.  Now imagine how much more sense it would make this way: Take his reference to a venue hosting “a display of bigotry and intolerance with irrational, untrue, and downright goofy claims”, and swap the name of the museum hosting our event with the name of the hotel hosting his. Only then will his raving inanity be accurate at all.

Houston demonstration against creationism, 1st weekend in August

Update: Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, (who was featured in the movie, The Revisionaries) will join the rest of us at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Sunday August 4th for Answers In Science.

It’s a seminar to counter the claims of creationism being made by Ken Ham of answersingenesis to the Texas Homeschool Coalition on the same weekend. Ham still does not acknowledge the debate he retreated from, (mentioned in the preceding blog post) but he has warned his own conference about a ‘handful’ of protesters who may be outside the Hotel where he will be speaking.

courtesynoticeHouston Atheists will be there out on the curb this Saturday August 3rd in a peaceful demonstration promoting actual factual science over the dogmatic propagandizing going on inside. Appropriately silly costumes might be fun and are encouraged, but be sure to bring ice chests, water, shades, headware, etc. and especially SIGNS!

Here are some examples that were already made for this event. We don’t want to attack religion in general, nor homeschooling either, (we will explain why on Sunday) but our signs should criticize the wholly dishonest pseudoscience that creationism is. So what will your sign be?

The sudden suspicious silence of answersingenesis

To recap: My wife Lilandra found out that Ken Ham will be lying to the Texas Home-school Coalition on August 1st thru 3rd. She being a former creationist and now a science teacher, expressed her concerns about that. Ham heads answersingenesis, a disingenuous pseudoscience propaganda site that is listed as one of the top ten worst anti-science websites. It is a multimillion-dollar anti-science propaganda mill built entirely on distorted data, factless frauds, and deliberate deception. Obviously it is nothing short of shameful that any collective of concerned parents should be foolish enough to seek his guidance with respect to educating their children. Ham thought he could bully Lilandra, so he called her out for her comments, made fun of her on his blog, and tried to use her criticisms against him to rally gullibelievers into supporting his cause.

Houston Atheists responded by challenging Ham to debate myself while he is in their city. Ham initially accepted that challenge -at least in part.

hamballoon

Now, we’re not saying no to a debate with the Houston Atheists Association. In fact we want one of our PhD scientists on staff to debate a PhD scientist chosen by the Houston Atheists Association. This would encourage a more fruitful exchange on the merits of creation vs. evolution, the age of the universe, etc.

So good, they’ve accepted the challenge, provided Houston atheists can find a professional scientist with a doctorate to debate our side.  Prof P.Z. Myers PhD generously accepted their condition and added a proviso of his own, that I remain in the debate as his partner. However despite the fact that AiG has already clearly accepted our challenge, once PZ stepped up, answersingenesis has have fallen conspicuously silent. They continued to berate Lilandra -even on videos where our challenge was repeated, but otherwise they have cut off all communication and will not even acknowledge having initially accepted our challenge. it seems that they’re afraid of PZ, and they’re obviously afraid of me too. I wonder why?

The only minority Juror B29 leaves justice for Trayvon up to god.

As if the George Zimmerman acquittal is not galling enough already. I wonder if there was a secular jury, if we would have had the same result? At least they wouldn’t be pointing to an invisible deity hoping to absolve themselves of responsibility for justice for Trayvon Martin. And I quote

“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” Maddy said. “[But] the law couldn’t prove it.”

Get your barf bags ready if there is a book deal.

Get your barf bags ready if there is a book deal.

That’s right lady pawn your responsibility for justice for Travyon Martin, and his family, and the community off on your god. I want to yell at the screen.

“You don’t really know if anything will actually happen to Zimmerman after he dies. No one does!”

Let’s play Devil’s Advocate here, what if there is a god?

1. If that god was concerned about justice then it wouldn’t have an excuse for why people are still dying because of the color of their skin. While we are at it; how about the millions, who have died because of religion?

2. But if we can conveniently forget what we don’t want to know, let’s just say that this god does care about justice. How do you think it would feel about someone that might have done something just, but pawned responsibility for that on the afterlife? How do you think that god will feel, if it cares about justice, not just about how many more blacks have died without justice, but how many more will die as a result of this ruling and further abuse of Stand your Ground Laws?

• Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

and

• The number of cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using “stand your ground” in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described “vampire” in Pinellas County, a Miami manarrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myershomeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier.

If I still felt any sort of sympathy for her being on the jury in a tough case, it’s gone after reading this (Bold emphasis mine)

“It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death. And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much [as] Trayvon’s Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain,” she said.

At least your child is still alive, don’t thank god or the state of Florida for that.

Tonight on Dogma Debate

I found out on Friday afternoon that Rachel Brown and I were to run this week’s episode of Dogma Debate, because Smalley will be out-of-town. I wanted to line up a couple of science-heavy guests that she and I would like to talk to, but there just wasn’t enough advanced notice to set that up. Oh well. Maybe some pseudo-science weirdo will call in wanting to argue.

The Asian Panel at FTBCon has spawned a group for Secular Asian Americans

Our panel was composed of East and South Asians, and Hemant Mehta joked we were the only Asian freethinkers. We wondered why we didn’t see more Asian faces active in the freethinking movement. Yau Man Chan‘s theory is that culturally many Asians don’t want to rock the boat, and prefer to keep their heads down. Many may not want to clash publically, and put themselves out there opposing theism.  It was a great discussion, we had a great panel in addition to the people we already mentioned with Vic Wang, Cindy Cooper, Razib Khan. Shanon Nebo joined me as a fellow Nones co-host, which was brave of her. Some might be intimidated being the odd person out with that many Asians. It is so easy to make a misstep, and inadvertently offend on sensitive cultural topics.

Speaking of that I can’t resist saying that I was actually correct on one of the points of contention with Razib Khan. A viewer asked a question about women’s issues getting more Asians involved in secularism. My response was that Asians tended to vote Republican due to financial issues until relatively recently. Khan disagreed. He did add a lot of interesting points about the history of secularism in East Asian governments like China. Many Asian governments don’t have the entanglements of theocracy, for good reasons. The major Eastern religions don’t tend to be as dogmatic as Abrahamic religions can be. It was an interesting discussion, Damian Torres Reinhard of Background Probability did a fair review of the panel,other panels, and FTBCon’s room for improvement.

Some Asian freethinkers were interested in starting a group to continue the discussion. You can join the Secular Asian Americans even if you are not an Asian American in solidarity with what they face trying to have a voice in a society dominated by religion. There were people, who aren’t Asian, but curious about Asian freethinking issues and culture who joined too.

Wretched behavior

The FtBConscience conference happened to be on our 5th wedding anniversary, so the wife and I talked about how we met, and how we inspired each other’s activism. She’s a science teacher, so we have a common enemy in the creationist camp, and we talked a bit about our history with that too. I’m glad she’s finally stepped in front of the camera and has become more vocal on blogs and so on.

Somehow despite all my public appearances, speeches, various radio debates, podcast interviews, and spots on the Atheist Experience TV show, and all the videos I’ve made for 80,000+ subscribers, the creationist community still seems completely unaware of me. They don’t even know who I am. But let my soft-spoken diminutive wife say anything against Ken Ham’s multimillion-dollar annual scam on her 3rd podcast, and the creationists immediately tear into her.

Lilandra wonders why these Religious Right types are so dismissive of women. She noted that outspoken confident women (like Wendy Davis) are dismissed as ‘feminazis’, while gentler women are readily mocked with a condescending tone. Never is the content of their argument appropriately addressed.

Ken Ham himself tried to twist Lilandra’s message to promote his upcoming conference on how to brainwash children in home-school. Then through him, his minions of mystic nonsense try to pick up her trail. At 4:44 into the appropriately named Wretched Podcast, Todd Friel begins bashing “Lilanda”. They don’t say or spell her name correctly, and they don’t mention the name of her podcast either. Me they refer to only as “the Biker Monkey”.

Friel opens his attack against my half-Asian wife by making fun of Chinese names. Not kidding. They played a clip from her, and then edited it in such a way that they could criticize her grammar.  Of course they misrepresented everything she said, and the field of science she was referring to, which is what creationists habitually do. They praised their own ignorance of course, and ended their jeering by using silly voices -exactly the way we’d expect of typical 5th graders. This is the best they’ve got, and that’s why we never see anything better. The most important thing to them is being deceived by a twisted fantasy, and yet they say that it is we who have “no hope”.Oh the irony.

The surreal realm of creationism is a disorienting dreamscape of logical fallacies. As always it boils down to whether one would rather make-believe things that are definitely not true, or whether one would rather try to understand what really is true. Friel is of the wilfully-ignorant variety.

For example, he says we can’t be animals because we walk upright. However ‘animals’ are defined as ‘multicellular opisthokonts which must ingest other organisms in a digestive tract in order to survive’, and there are many animals -besides humans- who are bi-pedal. I’m sure Friel already knows this, but simply doesn’t care. He wants people to think that taxonomy is an arbitrary human construct rather than one that is governed, confirmed, and corrected by objective criteria. He also said that teaching taxonomy in the classroom leads directly to school violence. Once again, creationism is not like the truth and does not like the truth.

Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought?

This quote from John Xu…
“I have often remarked how little interest people of my ethnicity have for secularist and freethought issues. My theory is that this is because they are the product of very complicated and difficult social, political, and intellectual turmoils of the 20th Century. Most Chinese people I know are brought up with a single-minded concern about generating wealth and a general apathy about philosophical matters. This is likely because their parents lived through such hard times.”

It inspired the idea for the panel discussion tonight on ftbcon.org at 6:00 PM CST. Unfortunately, for us John can’t make it tonight because he is getting married today. We taped his part of the discussion, since his quote inspired curiosity about why this so.

We will be talking to Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist, Yau Man Chan of Skeptic Blog and Survivor Fiji, Razib Khan of Gene Expression of Discover, Vic Wang of Houston Atheists, and Cindy Cooper of Camp Quest Oklahoma and Texas. The topic is “Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought?”

Freethought is an ancient Asian tradition.

Freethought is an ancient Asian tradition.