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Because it’s all just so depressing, that’s why

I have, as many of you have doubtless noticed, been absent from the blog for most of August, preferring to concentrate on some other things and take a bit of a break from the whole atheist-activism thing. Mainly, this has been due to a real need to decompress. I am frankly in a state of despair regarding America as a whole. The right wing — duplicitous, self-serving and dishonest at the best of times — have simply descended into bugfuck insanity and psychosis. I mean, for Set’s sake, we’ve actually got Republican politicians openly “joking” about killing Obama. What the blue blazing phuque is wrong with these maniacs?

I’ve never seen anything like the mass insanity surrounding the health-care reform “debate,” which hasn’t been so much a debate as a mindless, frothing mob going absolutely apeshit over the most preposterous lies that such bobblehead demagogues as Limbaugh and Beck can cook up. Apparently, Obama is going to send the SS to kick down your door, gun down grandma, and hold you down while they forcibly administer HPV vaccines whether you’re a girl or not. That so many of these people just believe the shit they’re being spoonfed without so much as a pause for thought (a skill they evidently don’t possess) makes it dismayingly clear just how far this country has sunk into near-savagery. The neocon Christian right are no longer even recognizably human; they are simply wild animals driven into a Pavlovian rage at the mere sight of a sliver of red meat, even when (especially when) it’s a wholly imaginary sliver. (After all, as Matt Taibbi has pointed on in Rolling Stone, what kind of fucking morons must these people be to decry as “socialism” a health-care reform proposal designed to preserve as much of the private sector as it can?)

I just don’t want to be in the same dimension with these, um, “people.” I’d rather read lots of sci-fi or hang out with my dogs. Unreason, fear, hate, anger, racism, and literalist Christianity are sending America down the toilet fast, and I think we’re already too far down the U-bend to be drawn back up with even the heartiest application of a plunger.

So. How’s your day?

Comments

  1. says

    Here in Austin we have had GOP groups organizing to disrupt public dialogue and free speech. As Matt often says, to paraphrase, "I'm not infringing on your freedom by stopping you from infringing on other people's freedoms."Show up to a meeting. Carry a sign. Ask your question. You have just as much right to be heard and to have your questions answered as your fellow constituents. I support anyone's right to free speech.But the chairwoman of the Travis County GOP (Rosemary Edwards) published an article in the Austin American-Statesman stating she participated in showing up at a town hall where Lloyd Doggett was there to talk to constituents. She explains that she participated in shouting down the dialogue by screaming with her fellow GOP members "Just say no! Just say no!" They effectively shut down the meeting and halted public discourse so that _none_ of their fellow constituents were able to ask questions or have them answered. People who attended who weren't aware the demonstration was going to happen explained they couldn't hear the questions or the answers being asked. And when Doggett was unable to restore order, he, understandably gave up and left–but not before giving a hearty try to keep the dialogue going and useful.GOP letters to the editor then had the balls to condemn Doggett for walking away and not responding to protestors or answering questions. Pardon me, but WTF?! You show up and kill the meeting by disrupting and making discussion impossible–stopping the free speech not only of your representative, but of your fellow citizens, and then you have the audacity to blame the rep for why nobody was able to exchange information? Are you that stupid? I suppose so.AtheistUnderMask: Your question is not without merit. But please understand what we're seeing here in Austin (in case you're not in Austin–I have no clue). It's become a mad house here. We can't even have a public discussion. And my guess is that Martin's ire is probably mainly directed at the frothing mob that is the Texas GOP. The right to free speech, in my view, should not include the right to speak so long and so loud that nobody else can speak.Would that we could discuss the merits of the bills. The content. The pros and/or cons. But here in Austin, our GOP has effectively organized–and admitted as much–to make sure nobody gets to talk but them.That's not OK.

  2. says

    Trust me tracie, I understand what you're seeing in Austin. I've seen the video clips and I've heard the hysteria.I have a lot of hate for those idiots because they are making it impossible to carry out any kind of discussion, and most of them have no idea what it is they're actually against. They also make it harder for people who have legit concerns about the bill to be taken seriously.Have you heard about the religious group that said universal health care is against God's plan? Kind of hard to have legit concerns taken seriously when most people will just lump you in with them.It is also impossible to carry on a discussion or a debate with someone who is for it yet is ignorant about what the bill actually says.I suppose you could say it's impossible to discuss it if both sides are just as ignorant. If you don't know what you're talking about, I've found they end up arguing for and against an what they THINK universal health care is and not what is actually written.To me it seems like those who are for it have latched onto the phrase universal health care and gone no further and those who are against it just plain out don't want it, regardless of whether the plan is pitch perfect or not.I encourage reading of the bill because I've heard atheists ridicule Christians who are ignorant of The Bible, yet will rabidly defend it. There is no difference between the two as far as I'm concerned.I ask everyone who is for it and against if they've read it. It's really the only way to get a decent discussion.

  3. says

    I guess I should add that I feel both sides have been handling it poorly.In my opinion, sometimes ridicule is not a good thing as it only makes people react even more strongly, especially when it comes to emotional responses.My word verification was adgma. I suppose it's without dogma.

  4. says

    Canadian here: quick question, is there some sort of other Canada that the conservatives are talking about? Because otherwise, uh, not sure what they're talking about with the supposed nightmare here.Actually, a second question that I am seriously wondering — what was the US healthcare system like in the 60s and earlier? The current system as far as I know started in the 70s.

  5. says

    Zurahn,The current system here really started in the 30s and 40s. That is when people started demanding health care from employers…and getting it. Since then, we have had a system in which you either have to buy health insurance on the private market, or you get it from your employer (who negotiates a group of plans, generally all the same, for their employees. Being able to have the employers negotiate all the employees together as a group allows for the employer to get a cheaper cost per plan. Some companies require that the employee pay some amount of money per month to off set the cost of the health care plan, others absorb all the costs). It was in the 60s that we got a single payer system…for everyone 65 and over, Medicare, and a federal/state health care for those in extreme poverty, and Medicaid. What was it like before the 30/40s? I am not sure. I would imagine some people did have health insurance, but most did not. And a lot of people died from lack of medical care.

  6. says

    Is it just me?Whenever I hear a clip from Beck or Limbaugh I emit an involuntary FUCK YOU! It's not quite as satisfying as you might think, and it annoys my dogs.OTOH, whenever I see a Limbaugh or Beck clip I enter into an instant fantasy involving their head and an aluminum baseball bat (my fantasies are very specific) being put upside it.Should I seek professional help, or is this normal?

  7. says

    Don't mean to invoke a theist, but I remember once hearing Mahatma Gandhi say that the first step in getting rid of evil is to make it visible.This is intuitive, I know, but it's kind of behind what's going on here.The evil that has gripped our country in the recent past is finally starting to show itself.We have to remember we're actually exiting a horrible dark ages with the new administration. The last 30 years have really been pretty grim for practically everyone that makes less than several millions of dollars a year. The last 8 years have been particularly awful with basically most of the federal govt. having been practically non-functional. The rule of law has been promoted as outdated and really of no concern to the public (where "public" = the theocratic right wing) for years now and that's finally starting to come under question like it should be.The executive branch in particular has been under the total non-leadership of the GWB administration, itself one of the most lawless and dangerous administrations in US history.Now, of course, things have changed with the new administration, a liberal, rational justice having been appointed to the SCOTUS and a congress that's actually trying to consider legislation that doesn't cater to only the aristocratic and influential elements in our society.This is a HUGE change in our politics in a very short time – it's a real shock to the system to go from silent organized crime to if only a small hope of restoring our republican form of govt. to proper functioning.So it's normal, in my view, for the crooks who've been the beneficiaries of the past 30 years to come out screaming now that their privileged position is under threat. A goodly portion is still scandalized only by the mere fact that an African American now occupies the presidency. But really behind all the yelling and screaming is the initial attack upon the influence of organized crime (insurance among others) on our HC system and the theocratic elements that have been strangling the functioning of our republic.So yes, we do have to get out and do our own shouting, but I see the escalation of the screaming from the other side as a good thing.It means finally the silence is being broken. Now I think we at least have a fighting chance to break the grip of ignorance, crime and silence that's veiled everything in our country for decades now. LS

  8. says

    Another Canadian, here.I, too, am dismayed and discouraged by the sheer volume of ignorant howling that is distorting the political process in the USA. But I think you're pointing the finger in the wrong direction.There was an article in Slate, I believe, that quite rightly points out that the hysteria and insanity you're seeing from the right wing is nothing new. Paranoia, lies, and conspiracy theories have been part of the underbelly of US political culture for a very long time.The difference today is that you have a press that exercises no judgment in what it reports. The fact that Birthers get a slot in prime time on MSNBC to babble incoherently shows that the system no longer works. Once upon a time, such insanity would never get covered because it is insane, and so it would never become part of the larger political debate.This is corruption more serious than any money or sex scandal. The average person doesn't even know what a fact is, anymore, because partisan TV hacks are selling their own, private facts.The air itself is poison, guys. It doesn't matter whoch side of the fence you stand on — you're still breathing it in.

  9. says

    "Actually, a second question that I am seriously wondering — what was the US healthcare system like in the 60s and earlier? The current system as far as I know started in the 70s."The primary development in our HC system since 1965, basically, has been a massive increase in the reliance on _insurance_ to finance health care.It's important to note that Medicare is an _insurance_ program, albeit one that's ostensibly well-meaning – a kind of health care social security is what it was originally intended to be.Basically, this was a handing over of the reigns of health care and its financing to the insurance industry. This is akin to handing over the control of and responsibility for our society to the mob.I havn't actually read the new national HC proposal yet so I can't comment on whether it's a similar kind of thing. I hope it's not an institutional enforcement of participation in insurance of the type that's prevailed so far, but I really need to read the proposal before concluding that obviously.The alternative that's favored by the not-so-GOP is the same one that's dominated during the last 30 years – "deregulation". Basically a Laissez Faire system where organized crime like the insurance industry and HC industry themselves are under no legal restraints at all and are simply free to do whatever they want.This is what the not-so-GOP refers to as the "free market". All the screaming we're hearing about it is based only in this propaganda that lawlessness is a better system of governance than the rule of law is.That's the spine of idiots like Rush Limbaugh and etc. as well, which is why they should be instantly turned off when they come on the radio or TV.In any case, the Laissez Faire option is clearly bankrupt – it's sure done a bangup job for healthcare and the rest of our society in the last 30 years hasn't it?But I have to reserve judgement on the new public option proposal until I've actually looked at it.LS

  10. says

    As a slightly miffed Brit watching the healthcare "debate" from afar it is slightly distressing to see the UK NHS(National Health Service) being vilified as socialist system which leaves people of lists to die. This a enormous distortion. No UK citizen is forced to take NHS treatment. If you have the insurance (or the money) you can get private treatment. The fact is the NHS is pretty damn adequate for most people. There are problems in the system which no-one would deny. It is also a political fact of life that ALL the mainstream political parties try to outdo with pledges that the NHS is safe in their hands. Even with all its faults the NHS is one of the most beloved institutions in Britain. I must hope that a bit of sense wins through and proper debate can ensue and you are able to make decisions to increase the health of all US citizens.

  11. says

    This was too long, so I have to post it in parts.Part 1:Here's my personal anecdote about the U.S. Healthcare system and my experience with it.Two years after I was married, my husband developed a deadly form of cancer. I worked for an employer with under 30 employees. The first annual review that came up, the insurance company we were under hiked our company's group rate to the point that everyone had to drop out. I was not able to "drop out" because the treatment for my husband was more than I could afford without insurance.However, under the law, if less than a certain percent of employees sign on to the company policy the company loses the coverage. So, we were dropped from our insurance plan because someone at my company (my dependent husband) required medical treatment. Ironically, I thought the reason for insurance was to cover you in the case of serious illness. But I guess the actual reason for insurance is to please stock holders of insurance companies. It costs too much to provide medical care to sick people, so when someone in our plan god sick, we were dropped as a liability.In today's Austin American-Statesmen, there was an article by a NYT writer, Kristof, who describes recent revelations by Wendell Potter. The article describes ways in which these companies stay profitable. One method is rescission: "seizing upon a technicality to cancel the policy of someone who has been paying premiums and finally gets cancer or some other expensive disease."I thought of my own situation and considered our company insurer did not do this, but instead raised the company rates to out-price us so that nobody could afford the premiums and we lost coverage from losing sufficient participants. Imagine my chuckle to read the next paragraph:"…a third tactic is for insurers to raise premiums for a small business astronomically after an employee is found to have an illness that will be very expensive to treat. That forces the business to drop coverage for all its employees or go elsewhere."

  12. says

    Part 2:I was scared about what would happen to us. My husband was too sick to work, and no private insurer would touch us with a 10-ft pole. That company option was all that stood between me and being responsible for the cost of numerous surgeries and $80,000 of interferon therapy that I could not afford while I was also paying all our household expenses on my own.My employer, who cared a lot, found a Texas state option called the Health Insurance Risk Pool. We had not choice but to use it to continue coverage. If we dropped coverage, even if I went to work at another company with group insurance, my husband would have to prequalify due to the lapse. And how could he prequalify with cancer? So, it was the Pool for us.Let me tell you about the Risk Pool. It is a plan set up for people who can't get insurance any other way. And while I'm glad it's there, it's less than ideal. I paid _just about_ as much in monthly premium as I did in my monthly rent–over $600, per month, out of my personal funds–again, in addition to covering all household expenses. And guess what else? My deductible was around $7,000. My husband's was around $7,000, AND we had a "family" deductible on top of that, because we were married. AND, it also had a separate out of pocket requirement AND co-pays.On top of the $600 a month I was paying to make sure we didn't lapse and kill our chances of ever finding insurance again, I was bound to $200/month that I agreed to pay the hospital on my amount owed to them for what _I_ was responsible for paying.Think of that. My husband has a form of cancer that is deadly in 70 to 80 percent of the people who get it. And I'm paying all our living expenses, and $600+ in premiums, and $200 a month to cover what I owe on medical bills.Don't ask me how I got through those years, because, frankly, I don't know how I avoided a bullet through my own head at some points in that situation.My number one goal became to find a job with an employer large enough to not lose coverage over our situation, and to find it fast enough so that we didn't get too much further into debt. All I could think about was the very real scenario where I was in a pile of debt in a few years–and a widow in my 30s. That was my vision of my future, a dead husband and deep down in a financial hole.I finally left my job and found an employer who could get us out of that. But consider I had to leave a job I'd held for more than 10 years, to work somewhere else SOLELY because of insurance needs.My story is only one story, and I'm doing well now. However, I will NEVER forget those days and what that was like. And I don't accept that reform isn't necessary, although I respect what AtheistUnderMask is saying–that it has to be thoughtful reform.Still, when I read letters to the editor where someone asks, "I don't understand the big rush? Why the urgency?" I come very close to wishing they'd get cancer so that they'd begin to grasp what some people are going through RIGHT NOW in this country. Believe me–for them, it's all _about_ urgency. And if you ever went through it yourself, you'd never ask such an ignorant question or make such an ignorant comment. When someone you love is dying, you'll pay ANYTHING. And the fact that our system expects you to do exactly that is monstrous in my opinion.

  13. says

    "The difference today is that you have a press that exercises no judgment in what it reports"Well, no, not true. The judgment of the press is actually spot-on.Instead the press is actually doing exactly what it's being charged with – propagandizing the views of those who are supporting it.In fact, up until now healthcare has hardly been covered in the press as a serious issue, despite the fact that it has probably been the #1 concern of the US public (besides the economy) ever since the insurance mob assumed control of it 30 years ago.This is not an accident. In fact, much of the US press is very selective about what it reports and that selection is often guided carefully by special interests.Have you noticed that Fox news now virtually _never_ reports anything other than right wing perspectives? It's praise of charlatans like our friends Rush, Ann Coulter, and other not-go-GOP mouthpieces by the likes of Bill O'reilly is pretty much uninterrupted by anything else.Not coincidentally, it only reports the positives of the doctrines of Laissez Faire that are applied to virtually everything by the right wing.On any given night you'll see cowards like Newt Gingritch advocating the abandonment of law and order – the claim is the govt. is simply so corrupt that the only option is to simply do away with it.The other arms of the US press are a little less extreme but their orientation is similar. Pretty much we need to go to the BBC and other foreign press to find out what's really going on in our own country (or what our govt. is really doing abroad).I know I'm taking a bit of a Chomskyan position here but I think it's largely a correct analysis. It's not true that the misery of the last 30 years is all just some big accident that just kind of happened to our country. Instead, it's been a very deliberate effort on the part of American aristocracy/theocracy.Again, most of the yelling and screaming we're hearing right now is coming from that same camp, but this time because their influence is under attack. Most of them don't even know what the terms Socialism and Communism even mean, much less could they recognize such a system if it came up and bit them on the ass.They don't even know what their own form of govt. is, trying to call it a Democracy when in fact it's a Republic. So it's no wonder the rule of law is under such assault.LS

  14. says

    "And I don't accept that reform isn't necessary, although I respect what AtheistUnderMask is saying–that it has to be thoughtful reform."This is _exactly_ why human societies have governments in the first place: to constrain criminal behavior of precisely the type Tracie describes here.This is also why the far right proposal – merely a more extreme version of the Laissez Faire system we have now – simply doesn't hold water. At its core are the doctrines of "smaller govt" and the "free market" which, when analyzed with a little bit of care, boil down to little more than an advocacy of lawlessness and an economy based solely on the pursuit of individual wealth and power _at any cost_.As I said, turn on Fox news sometime and listen very closely to the commentators and you'll hear exactly this. More frightening still, listen closely to the not-so-GOP platform and that's exactly the same propaganda you'll discover underlyingly:- The government is simply too big and corrupt to govern anymore.- The constitution is old stuff, far outdated by our modern situation of being under constant attack by the "enemies of freedom".- We need to replace our republican form of govt. with a new, more updated system (again lawlessness).- the Free Market hasn't _really_ failed, we've just simply never actually had a "real" Free Market. Too much govt. intereference.- ours is a Christian nation/we need new laws that properly encode Chistian values, etc. etc.That's an overview of the propaganda.As for what has really been going on, that's been primarily an effort to institute this system of Laissez Faire. It reached a fever pitch under the Reagan administration with the "deregulation" effort and cowardly crookedness like the Contract With America (which was actually one of the largest _expansions_ in the size, power and cost of the federal govt. proposed in recent times).Then we had the utter leaderlessness and wilderness of the last 8 years where literally nobody was driving the ship.Anyway… whoa, that was a fun rant. Sorry I couldn't make this more applicable to atheism in particular, but I hope this goes to show what we're up against. And that with the new administration hopefully the silence has been broken.LS

  15. says

    Generally I totally agree with you there Martin. I'm getting really frustrated with people in general. I stopped posting on Ray Comfort's blog for example because I just couldn't take that stupidity anymore.I think it is a good idea to decompress and just do something else for a while. Left4Dead anyone?

  16. says

    "As a slightly miffed Brit watching the healthcare "debate" from afar it is slightly distressing to see the UK NHS(National Health Service) being vilified as socialist system which leaves people of lists to die.This a enormous distortion. "Speaking of that, a friend of mine at work is Australian. He also lived in GB for a while when he was attending university there.He reports the public healthcare available both in GB and Aust. is actually generally superior to the privatized system we have here in the US. He's said on several occasions he's never had trouble getting in to see a doctor and if there was a wait it was usually only a few days. If it's something major, sometimes there's a wait that extends to weeks. But generally access to the best quality HC there is not much of a problem at all.Having had to deal with a major illness personally here in the US, I have to say I'm rather envious….LS

  17. says

    Lies can spread like wildfire, especially when "balanced" news networks like Fox propagate this "information". Unfortunately, people would rather hear falsities like "death panels" than actually take the time and effort to really understand the issue.

  18. says

    As a foreigner, I find the news coming from America quite worrying. I naively thought that after Bush, the US would be more rational. But it seems that Obama's election has triggered another wave of madness: the frustrated by defeated one. It seems that the neocons are potentially more dangerous out of power than in power. Anyway, freedom of speech is not impunity of speech. Aren't there laws against bullying?

  19. says

    Not living in the United States I don't know how typical tracieh's personal anecdote is within the US health care system. Typical or not; it seems to me a shocking situation to deal with. I used to work for US company in the UK many years ago and one of the perks was a optional private health scheme which would have cost me few hundred pounds per year (it was classed as a taxable benefit). I had enough confidence in the NHS that I declined the option of private health cover. Also the idea of paying for health insurance seemed culturally strange to me.

  20. says

    Hi Raymond:One reason I added the news article quote from my morning paper was to demonstrate that what happened to me was no accident–it was a tactic that insurance companies use to drop unprofitable "members"–in this case my whole small workplace was sacrificed to improve an insurance company's bottom line.Recently an ex-insurance company executive, Wendell Potter, has been very vocal in describing his past role in making sure these companies remain/ed profitable. He's talking very openly and often, and I'm pretty sure that soon, if it hasn't already been done, he's going to be slammed with ad hominems to try and discredit his message–although he was retired on good terms (so, he's not a disgruntled, fired employee). He claims he quit when he could no longer live with what he was doing.My story is not rare. However, anyone who works for a large company would be insulated from what happened to me. So, there are a lot of people in the US who simply don't understand there actually _is_ a problem. These are people who are either working for large corporations where insurance is no issue; or the ignorant spouses of such workers who magically get their insurance simply via having married the right person. On the other hand, I worked at that small company and had wonderful insurance for 10 years–until my spouse got sick and we needed to use the insurance. So, if you don't get a major illness, this can insulate you from the problems that are happening as well.But I would be unable to fathom how anyone who has actually seen what happens when you don't have a large, corporate insulator, and you do get very sick, would argue that we have a great system that doesn't need an overhaul.And unfortunately, a lot of employed people who haven't gotten horribly ill, or who have large corporate insulation, think that if you get sick, it's your sick lifestyle (my husband was a personal trainer, runs and works out regularly; we also eat extremely healthy–my husband doesn't drink, doesn't eat red meat, no junk food, nothing with processed sugars, and so on). Or if you don't have adequate insurance it's because you didn't care enough to plan for your future by getting insurance (as if it's easy to get if you aren't working for a company that offers it!). Or you're a lazy, unemployed by choice, welfare case that wants everyone else to pay your way in life.It's really disturbing, the level of blaming the victims of illness or unfortunate circumstance–especially in a US market where I doubt anyone doesn't know a hardworking friend or neighbor who has not recently lost his/her job–that is going on. I can only guess it's how these idiots are able to sleep at night: "If you died of cancer, well, that was your own fault, I'm sure–not my problem."

  21. says

    "But I would be unable to fathom how anyone who has actually seen what happens when you don't have a large, corporate insulator, and you do get very sick, would argue that we have a great system that doesn't need an overhaul."Don't mean to keep jumping in, but this is actually exactly what you find when you look at the demographics of the 2 (or more) sides of the HC issue. Far, far and away those who are claiming that our HC system is the most advanced in the world, HC isn't a human right but only a privilege, that it should continue to be paid for by insurance and that enforced participation in insurance is the answer _themselves have access to healthcare_. OTOH, this particular viewpoint is exceedingly rare among persons who _don't_ have access to healthcare.In fact, I don't know anyone without access to it that praises it in any way at all.From what I've seen, this completely overrides the partisan separation on the issue – far and away the lines of opposition appear to correlate instead with those who have HC access vs those who do not.You know the old saying that history of warfare is written by the victors. Same thing with praise vs criticism of our HC system from what I can see.I recently had an email debate with a former work colleague on healthcare, specifically concerning the morality of access based on the ability to pay.He took the Republican view that HC access is better managed by Free Market forces; I of course took the contrary view that that position leads to horrifying moral dilemmas of the type I think we're all familiar with. My questioning to him very quickly converged on the moral issue ("do you think it's _right_ to put people's lives up for sale/allow people to suffer and die _merely_ because they lack the ability to pay?").Unfortunately, at that point he stopped responding and I haven't heard anymore from him since. It was shockingly similar to trying to extract a statement of evidence for the existence of god from a theist. If his position and line of reasoning is typical of the Republican/right wing position, it would appear to me that opponents of healthcare reform are basing their opposition on belief rather than reason and evidence.In fact, it was _extremely_ shocking to hear my friend – otherwise an exceptionally intelligent individual – proudly paint himself into a corner like that on a very basic question of ethics. By that token, I'm very perturbed that such a tenuous position regarding people's lives has so much political might behind it. The analogue to theism is really pretty stark when you look at it….LS

  22. says

    "Or situations like this…not healthcare related but it shows the influence those characters have.Ok, I'll stop now. I've just depressed myself."We should probably show them the one which concludes with the guy hunched over in a chair in front of a computer. That'll learn 'em…LS

  23. says

    GOP groups organizing to disrupt public dialogueI realize I'm breaking Godwin's law here, but I just have to say this: the above is exactly what the NSDAP did in Germany in the 1930s. And it was the reason why they were so successful in the murder of the Jews. Not because the Germans were such raging anti-Semites – most of them weren't – but because the public dialogue had been intentionally crippled to such an extent that it became impossible to assemble any true dissent.American society is heading down a very dangerous path.

  24. says

    Hi Tracie,Thanks for the clarification. It seems to me that my view of the situation in US healthcare is way off the mark.My simplistic understanding was that it was basically people who were unable to afford insurance were screwed.I never really thought of the implications of actually trying make a claim if you have a policy.It seems to be the biggest lie in the system. Many people who have acted responsibly to ensure they have adequate cover are then at the mercy of the insurance industry and are then f*cked over at the most vulnerable time in there life.

  25. says

    tracieh, that's a carbon copy of brownshirt tactics. These people are fascists. They need to be treated as such, in public and in no minced words.

  26. says

    I hate to say it, but I think it really boils down to the fact that these people cannot stomach the fact that a black guy is the president of the United States. Period. End.

  27. says

    Not to get under the "I'm a skeptic myself, but…" dirty tactic but I have to specify that I do love the idea of capitalism. I was a big proponent of the communism until I took the economics classes required and the teacher effectively convinced me with the logic that capitalism is a more effective system. However, I think all systems should be socialist in that their ultimate goal should be the social well being. A big problem I've had is that everyone cites for Laissez Faire capitalism the whole doctrine of the "invisible hand". To me, the notion of the hand is seemingly asserted like religious doctrine; it's stated to exist and no one goes to show that it does. In fact many times we see that the hand does NOT give the greatest good for society due to certain people being total ass holes. The hand did nothing to help worker's right not to be burnt alive in their own office, it did nothing to free the slaves. It took outsiders forcing "socialism" to incorporate externalizes into the system.

  28. says

    As an observer from 'Down Under', I wonder why more US citizens don't have exactly the same sagacious reaction that you have outlined.Your depression is entirely rational.We folk from the other side of the globe, whilst not immune to woo, right-wing or left, are collectively agog at just how STUPID and indoctrinated the average yank has apparently become.Even 4 year old Aussies are the intellectual superiors to the likes of the Sarah Palins and the Ken Hams of your universe.Oh, hang on, Ken Ham is Australian.I take that back.(At least we kicked him out of the FSM's country.)All joking aside, may extend my heartfelt comiserations at the plight of the even vaguely intellectual in the USA today.From the other side of the planet, it appears that the US has become a nation of dangerous buffoons, and criminal clowns, who would not look out of place in a scary science-fiction story.

  29. says

    Petros said… I hate to say it, but I think it really boils down to the fact that these people cannot stomach the fact that a black guy is the president of the United States. Period. End. No, it's the fact that he's a democrat. From reading various xian boards from when elections were held, they had automatic contempt for any democratic candidate (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton), etc.

  30. says

    "required and the teacher effectively convinced me with the logic that capitalism is a more effective system."The issue isn't whether a capitalist approach is the most effective, it's whether it's the _right_ approach. The simple answer is the answers aren't simple at all….In my view, for certain economic transactions a Laissez Faire capitalist approach is perfectly ok and actually preferable. But for others, like healthcare access, LFC is far from having been shown to be a _moral_ approach and in fact seems to run afoul of very basic human morality in how it does business.BTW, just FYI, the terms socialism and communism are not synonymous (socialism refers to an economic system, communism is a political theory that embraces a form of socialism, sort of). In any case, the radical right has hardly any idea what the terms mean at all and so have no idea what they're opposing or advocating. That in itself isn't disturbing to me as idiocy is just a natural feature of the radical right platform. But it's scary when it has so much political momentum.PS: the "invisible hand" seems to me just an attempt to mystify the law of supply and demand, a pretty well-defined and concrete principle of capitalist economics. I don't see it as a very useful term, therefore…..LS

  31. says

    "From the other side of the planet, it appears that the US has become a nation of dangerous buffoons, and criminal clowns, who would not look out of place in a scary science-fiction story."Well, rather, it has always been the central effort of the buffoons, crooks and clowns in our country to _portray_ us as being that way to the rest of the world.It just so happens that because these elements have had such strong control of US political policy in the recent past that we're now viewed that way. You're quite right that this perception of an apparent intellectual deficit in US thinking is widespread around the rest of the world. GWB and the rest of the religious/radical right that has preceded him has done its job in this respect very well of late.In fact, a good friend of mine at my office is an Aussie and his general opinion of the US is hilariously (but also disturbingly) very low.Then again, when you hear charlatans and intellectually stunted fools like Dennis Prager proudly (and ignorantly) declaring western Europe to be a completely "morally bankrupt society" over and over again on the internet, sure, it's natural to assume the rest of the US has those same moronic opinions.It's interesting that so far only a US citizen of european descent (C. Hitchens) has really been able to make a monkey out of Prager on this issue at least publicly. I don't think this kind of moronism really characterizes American intellectual thought, but then again the idiots, fools and criminals have much louder voices than they do.Pretty sad.But I'm very encouraged by the Obama administration. Perhaps our statesmen will stop saying "nucyular" and mispronouncing "saddam" for a while. Even that would go a long way towards restoring the US reputation abroad….LS

  32. says

    @lsYeah that was my point. Glen Beck and Hannity and them use the term "Invisible hand" and Lassie faire, as if they were invoking GOD. They cite the idea as if it were a bold asserted FACT and really I do want someone to say "How do we know such a hand exists?"

  33. says

    "Glen Beck and Hannity and them use the term "Invisible hand" and Lassie faire, as if they were invoking GOD. They cite the idea as if it were a bold asserted FACT and really I do want someone to say "How do we know such a hand exists?""Well they do that because they're idiots, not because they have some unusually in-depth familiarity with Capitalism or other economic theory.They've likely never read Marx, Engals, Trotsky, Lenin or any of the thinkers behind the system they oppose, nor does it seem they even have very good command of the system they're in _favor_ of.The real evil, tho, is how effectively these morons have positioned themselves as the spokespersons of US intellectual thought. They've done it the same way the religious have positioned themselves as the purveyors of US thought on religion: They've simply declared themselves to be the megaphones of the "majority opinion" in our country and simply spread their nonsense unencumbered as loudly and frequently as they can.This is how you get nonsense like the "morally bankrupt" situation of western europe, the US' status as spiritual/Christian nation, homophobia as an institution couched in very careful wording about "redefining marriage" and so on embedded so firmly into US popular culture.Most people think Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican party for goodness sake….. My point is, none of this has any basis in education or rational inquiry as is the claim. It's mostly just idiots declaring themselves our social/moral leaders without any opposition to their claims.But again, I think this is finally starting to change. Or I hope it is, anyway…..LS

  34. says

    "Most people think Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican party for goodness sake….. "Considering the technical "actual" leader kisses his ass and begs for apologies when Limbaugh is offended, I'd say that they actually have a good handle on the spiritual leader if not the political one.

  35. says

    "Considering the technical "actual" leader kisses his ass and begs for apologies when Limbaugh is offended, I'd say that they actually have a good handle on the spiritual leader if not the political one."RL is a good case in point. Far from being an American intellectual, he's really nothing more than just a semi-charismatic commentator who sort of ambled into a radio station off the street somewhere. Not to disparage college dropouts (I am one – I left graduate school to pursue employment in the computer industry), but apparently he's only completed a couple semesters of college and flunked out at that. Certainly not the typical profile of the typical intellectual, American or otherwise. Still, he basically set himself up as the putative mouthpiece of American political conservatism by simply repeatedly mouthing a kind of crypto Ku Klux Klan-style race, gender and social platform that appeals to a not-so-insignificant minority of America's conservative political base. A career was born.Now he's taken seriously by a large majority of the US population who're apparently none the wiser about the vacuum of intelligence behind most of what he says. It's easy to reel off a much longer list of self-appointed intellectuals of his ilk, like Dennis Prager, Matt Slick and any of your favorite conservative or religious leaders that have managed to hoist themselves into similar positions of consideration and importance.But as I said, the truly bizarre thing about all this is how little public opposition there's been to these fools and their foolish platforms. Perhaps that's what Martin is so disheartened by. It certainly has been a tax on my optimism for many years now.But again hopefully all the screaming and yelling will at least bring all this out into the light…..LS

  36. says

    what's even weirder about Limbaugh to me, is that most of his supporters I have found are not aware of the racism/sexism inherent in the doctrine. i have had people defend and insist that Limbaugh is not a racist and that it has nothing to do with race or sexism and that Limbaugh is a feminist (that one I think was on this blog actually).

  37. says

    Too long again, so another 2-part post:Part 1:In discussing similarities to reactions to this issue versus religious belief, what I find interesting is that you can take a group of people who spend their lives studying a particular aspect of reality, like cosmology. They go to great lengths to find really brilliant ways to gather data—launching huge telescopes, building observatories, finding ways to gage heat and light and atmospheric composition from different methods of observing other solar systems. They have to understand a great deal of complex math and physics. They put their heads together and find a way to demonstrate the age of the universe. And what happens?Joe Doe in a pew reads a pamphlet put out by an apologist with no training in math or science, and a certificate from Liberty Bible College on his wall, who says that ancient goatherds claim it can only be 6,000 years old, and they had a direct line to a spirit being who made it, and Joe instantly concludes these cosmologists don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground.The irony is that Joe believes reality doesn’t matter a hill of beans as far as figuring out what’s true in his life. If reality conflicts with belief, well he’s only humble Joe who can’t trust his human, flawed reasoning capacity—and he isn’t going to be so arrogant as to question god’s word that the whole thing is only 6,000 years old. And he’ll take this magical “authority” at whatever his preacher tells him it says. But he considers the cosmologists to be a bunch of arrogant fools who are misled by their own brilliance and don't want to admit god's right. And he’ll say they’re wrong.I think this is because the simplistic concept of god is something ignorant Joe can sort of understand. God is a guy–just like me, with motives I understand and a book I can read that isn't full of really hard math problems. But cosmology–that's just mumbo jumbo (sort of like a remote control to a tribe of Amazon Indians. It's just crazy!So, he will pit the word of goatherds and his preacher against the most informed and highly trained minds in the field. He doesn’t question the validity of _his_ source, but he utterly distrusts the best source known to mankind. The very people you’d go to for a cosmological answer, Joe rejects as “elitists” who are blinded by their own brilliance. But, in an odd twist, people with no demonstrably valid claim to any knowledge in this area, he won’t even question. God wrote the Bible, and he knows because he’s been told so. And if the Bible conflicts with reality—then reality is wrong.How is he determining the Bible is a good source of information about reality, when he has to argue against evidence and reason–reality–to make his source _right_? How, exactly, is he evaluating this book as a source of information?Here's an analogy that helps demonstrate how simple and obvious this problem should be: If you were using a map, and you found some of the streets it indicated weren’t where it said they are—on what grounds would you conclude the map is right, and the streets are wrong? That’s exactly what these people are doing.

  38. says

    Part 2:They reject “elite” authorities–basically anyone qualified to talk on the issue in an informed way. They actually seem to disdain real education, information, and dedication to study. And they have developed a cult of ignorance where they want to be able to talk like they’ve got answers, and they don’t want anyone to question them, but they don’t want to put in the research, study and time necessary to really inform themselves as _real_ authorities. They want to do no work and think of themselves as having opinions that are every bit as valid–or more valid, actually–than people who have spent their lives making sure their opinions really _are_ valid.And with regard to this issue, it’s the same attitude. It’s baffling. But as people are beginning to note in this thread, it’s similar to what we see in religion. This is, in my view, the common denominator between the two. Ignorant people who want to be treated like they’re smart, without having to work to become informed, who group themselves with others who don’t know shit, and tell themselves those smarty-pants PhDs studying the universe don’t know really how dumb they _are_.

  39. says

    In today's Statesman paper, there is an article about hospitals recommending to people that they divorce in order to avoid being responsible for insurmountable medical bills their spouses will incur due to progressive illnesses.But what really got me here to post was to add this comment from a letter to the editor from "Daniel Bright"–who opposes healthcare reform. Consider what I just wrote about the cult of ignorance and their hatred of all things intelligent, and check this language [he's responding to a column that appeared earlier]:"…he [the columnist] misses the fact that what the "ordinary Americans" he speaks of actually fear and loathe is not a black or multi-racial president, but the effective leadership of a very intelligent, articulate and inspirationally silver-tongued gentleman pushing something they have never wanted through a mostly fawning and complicit media and an arrogant congressional majority of people who are generally detached from the center-right views of the American public."See the derision tacked on to things like "intelligent" and "articulate" and how it ties in to "arrogance" and not being in touch with Daniel's peers–the self-described "center-right" (not center, but center-right). And how that's the "American public." Intelligence and intelligent delivery is looked at with fear and suspicion. Would Daniel be better served by an unintelligent president who is inarticulate? Is that the statesman model he wants for a national rep? Apparently that is his preference, and what he relates to. The president is not something Daniel can relate to and does not represent his peers. And yet the president is intelligent and articulate–by Daniel's own admission. Not much of a glowing implication for Daniel or his peers if he finds this distasteful or not representative of his own values and views…?

  40. says

    Just one more. I can't fathom someone literally writing in to say they fear and loathe our president for being intelligent, articulate, persuasive and an effective leader–then further saying, basically that these features in no way represent me or the majority of my peers.It's insane.He sums up my prior posts. I couldn't have wished for a more shining example of what I was describing. He's the poster boy for the cult of ignorance.

  41. says

    Tracie, I have to defend the statement you quoted from the statesman. I haven't read the article and cannot answer to anything else he says, but I remember a few years ago thinking that Carl Rove (or Karl Rove) is just too damned good at his job.I see the president's job as marketing. He does not write the bills, and the only say he has is that he can talk about (or advertise) the bill, veto, or sign treaties (ok, that gives him power to push some policies through the back door).So, if I had a choice between a president who has terrible ideas and is very good at promoting them, or one who has terrible ideas and barely has the charisma needed to hail a cab, then I would choose the later. (The more impotent of two evils).I think the GOP is beginning to see Obama as the guy with bad ideas and a brilliant marketing savvy. I disagree strongly, but I can see how the statement that he is "intelligent, articulate, persuasive and an effective leader" (with terrible ideas) can be frightening.

  42. says

    "intelligent, articulate, persuasive and an effective leader"The problem is that the above would indicate that his ideas are either not bad, or at least not so fundamentally idiotically founded that they can't be changed or negotiated.

  43. says

    The hospital system in Australia is pretty good when you have an emergency.I cut my fingertip off and went straight into the emergency ward, and then onto surgery to have it reattached. Spent 3 or 4 days in hospital, but the attachment didn't work. A week later I went back for the removal and tidy up. Following that was weekly hand therapy sessions to get used to the new finger. Total cost for me? $0 *Suck that up America!Should I also tell you about our two (7-8 week) premature children? Total cost for them was about $20 – $40* We actually pay around a 1.5% Medicare levy, and most people pay an Ambulance subscription (which gives free travel).

  44. says

    @ Ing"The problem is that the above would indicate that his ideas are either not bad, or at least not so fundamentally idiotically founded that they can't be changed or negotiated."In a perfect world, the voters would be intelligent and informed enough to assure that that is the case. Here in the US, however, an intelligent politician will spend most of his time trying to determine what beer to drink at the baseball game that he is attending only to prove to Americans that he is "one of us".I think Rove was a good example of a brilliant salesman who had a crappy product, and the only thing I can fault him for was not having the right employer. (Well, that and the evil shit he did).Now, if the word "integrity" were thrown into the original quote, I would have to concede.

  45. says

    @ ColBatGuanoI am jealous. My only concern is, how do you keep prices down? I, personally, wouldn't mind if the copay were large enough to hurt a little, so long as it was a related to the service provided. My son woke up one night with a fever of 103.Because all the doctor's offices were closed, and we did not want to let this wait until morning, we took him to the emergency room. The doctor did a few tests, and may have given him some aspirin. He then discharged him.I had insurance, but they refused to pay any of it, because their policy toward ER visits is that, if you live through it, then it wasn't really an emergency. It came out to around $1,000. I could see a 20% copay, if it is necessary to prevent people from abusing the system, but I would love to see us go to "socialized medicine", if it means getting insurance from someone who isn't going to try to screw me over the first time something goes wrong.

  46. says

    "I believe I agree with Ing. I'm unlikely to call a person with bad ideas "intelligent.""1. So would you say that there are no intelligent people working for companies that produce homeopathic medicine? How about the catholic church? It is possible for an, otherwise, intelligent person to get swept up in a bad ideology.2. I also see the possibility of an intelligent, but dishonest person who does not have your interests at heart. For example, someone who is in the pocket of special interest groups, such as Haliburton, or the Pharmaceutical Industry.

  47. says

    Thomas said…I am jealous.Don't be – losing a fingertip isn't that much fun :-)My only concern is, how do you keep prices down? I, personally, wouldn't mind if the copay were large enough to hurt a little, so long as it was a related to the service provided. My son woke up one night with a fever of 103.I'm not sure how the prices are kept down. Some of it is due to the government bargaining the prices down for pharmaceuticals. Some of may be due to less litigation.As I said most people pay 1.5% levy on your income (a basic insurance fee I guess). If you earn over 73K (individual) or 146K (couple) you have to take out private health insurance as well or face an additional 1% levy.I guess the government kicks in the rest. Mind you the hospitals are underfunded here – if you want elective surgery and you can't afford to pay in the private system, you end up waiting a while. But still better than the US by any measure.Because all the doctor's offices were closed, and we did not want to let this wait until morning, we took him to the emergency room. The doctor did a few tests, and may have given him some aspirin. He then discharged him.I had insurance, but they refused to pay any of it, because their policy toward ER visits is that, if you live through it, then it wasn't really an emergency. It came out to around $1,000. I could see a 20% copay, if it is necessary to prevent people from abusing the system, but I would love to see us go to "socialized medicine", if it means getting insurance from someone who isn't going to try to screw me over the first time something goes wrong.Hospital emergency rooms are free in Aus – very nice backup. I certainly never worry about health affordability/access like you unfortunate people have to…

  48. says

    @ ThomasI agree that intelligent is not the definer of morality, but I was more focused on the "Good leader" part. A Good leader would be definition have scruples. In fact I'd say good leader would require both a) charisma and b) scruples. If they just had A they'd be a conman. If they had just B they'd be an activist not a leader. An Intelligent Good Leader (combined three characteristics) is not going to intentionally damage his patrons (defined as create a net loss).If Obama were "bad" he could be unintelligent yet a good leader (honestly working for what he thought were good ideas and able to convince people/implement his ideas)or intelligent and a con man (intentionally implementing bad ideas) if he were both then he would not intentionally make a bad decision. Likewise I would say that Bush was both a bad leader and unintelligent since he did stupid decisions and refused to be corrected on those mistakes. Even when shown to be wrong he would stand behind his decision not out of malace but stuborness, thus he was a unintelligent bad leader.

  49. says

    Ing, I think I see your point. I think it is debatable whether an "effective leader" is defined by how he or she helps those being led, or simply by how effective he or she is at achieving his or her goals, but, your definition seems reasonable.

  50. says

    If he or she were just effective at achieving their own goals I'd say they were an effective ruler. Leader implies that you actually care about the group as a whole or the groups goals and are leading them rather than just being a demagogue. For example I'd say W was a poor leader but a good ruler.

  51. says

    >So would you say that there are no intelligent people working for companies that produce homeopathic medicine? How about the catholic church? It is possible for an, otherwise, intelligent person to get swept up in a bad ideology.If we were talking about him in the context in which he's believing or promoting unintelligent things, I'm going to feel comfortable calling this person an idiot.In other words, it wouldn't matter if Obama were a brilliant physicist. If he's making bad decisions based on bad ideas as president, and I'm writing a letter to the editor about his actions in his role as president, I'm going to point to his "bad" policy ideas, note why they're dumb, and say the guy is an idiot.This letter writer, I assume, does not know Obama personally, and is calling him "intelligent" based on what is popularly known about him–in his role as a politician. Most of us have no expertise of his competency of math or science or German history. Is he acting intelligently as president? This writer seems to think so. I.E., He is an "Intelligent President"–and that scares me.>I also see the possibility of an intelligent, but dishonest person who does not have your interests at heart. For example, someone who is in the pocket of special interest groups, such as Haliburton, or the Pharmaceutical Industry.He doesn't have to be in high places. I had a young relative who was a brilliant car thief. His school insisted he was above average "intelligence." I said, "No, he's an idiot."I understand he can score high in problem solving. And I get that as a label for "intelligence"–but anyone who cannot see the overall benefit to the individual in the benefit to society, who cannot apply standard ethics and moral models is not what I consider bright.I get what you're saying–they're intelligent in a very specialized or limited capacity–they aren't able to see a big picture–and in some microcosm where only tiny interests and concerns matter, they're acting in a way that benefits them. But on a larger scale, they're acting stupidly when judged as a social animal which seems void of the importance of social welfare and how that ultimately impacts the individual.It's like someone making billions of dollars with a factory that dumps toxins into the water–never really recognizing he's living on a planet where–oh yeah, he drinks that same water.That's what some people consider as intelligence, but I call it idiotic.

  52. says

    I think you're using an odd definition of the word intelligent. These people, when they say that a politician is intelligent, are not meaning "he has good ideas which are good for the country and that's why I fear him". Many of them mean "he has terrible ideas that are bad for the country, and he is smart enough to get them enacted".

  53. says

    >I think you're using an odd definition of the word intelligent. These people, when they say that a politician is intelligent, are not meaning "he has good ideas which are good for the country and that's why I fear him". Many of them mean "he has terrible ideas that are bad for the country, and he is smart enough to get them enacted".I guess my hangup is on _me_ labeling the guy "intelligent" if I think his policies are not wise.However, I thought more about your comments later, and I'm able to say this person probably did mean something along the lines of what you're trying to describe. So, in the context of the letter writer, I'm sure you have a point and are likely on target about what the writer _meant_. But I'd have to say I wouldn't express it that way myself.I think a great example of how I would view it would be like Francis Collins. I can't say that in some areas, Collins is not intelligent. But the idea of "can he be intelligent and be a Christian?" I admit, yes. But can he be an intelligent Christian? No.If I knew only about Collins in the context of his Christianity and not his record in science, I would judge him to be unintelligent–as much as any apologist. So, if all I knew of Collins was his apologetics, calling him "intellgent" would never be an option for me.With this letter writer, to call the President "intelligent" where the only context can be evaluating his policies–if I think they're stupid and destructive, I'd call him an "idiot."But I do see your point that a person could perceive the presentation to be good and label that "intelligent" (although I would consider that to be included under the "persuasive" and "articulate" labels the writer also used, and not the "intelligence" label he used–seemingly separately. That actually still baffles me.But I concede your point that it's undeniable he used "intelligent" in a way I would not have used it or interpreted it.

  54. says

    Tracy, I don't like to discuss semantics, but I wouldn't use intelligent in the way you do either. (Personally, I don't know if I have ever heard it used in your way.)I have a problem with your definition because you are not addressing one's actions, or ideas, but are instead implying that they are lacking in mental capacity. I feel that this line of reasoning makes it easy to forget that someone can have bad ideas on one subject and still be an intelligent person. If you disagree with someone, then you probably feel they have bad ideas about something. So, the notion that the word is relative to the context seems to imply that everybody who disagrees with you is an idiot.As for Francis Collins, I would describe him as an intelligent person, who is probably wrong about one thing. I don't care if we're talking about science, religion, or Guitar Hero, Francis Collins is a smart guy who is probably wrong about one thing.

  55. says

    >I feel that this line of reasoning makes it easy to forget that someone can have bad ideas on one subject and still be an intelligent person.I don’t see that as different than my statement;>> "can he be intelligent and be a Christian?" I admit, yes. But can he be an intelligent Christian? No.I agree he can be intelligent in some areas and unintelligent in others. Having “bad ideas” is not a sign of intelligence. If I’m capable of intelligent thought, but I don’t use that intelligence, am I “intelligent”? How do I differentiate the “intelligence” level of a person who can think and doesn’t, from that of a person who can’t think? In the area where I have “bad ideas” it’s fair to say I’m not intelligent. I can be intelligent when it comes to my job, but very stupid in regard to my personal relationships, can I not?To say I’m an “intelligent person” is meaningless. If I don’t use my intellect in some situations, then I am absolutely not “intelligent” in those areas. It doesn’t matter if I’m intelligent in other areas. An idiot savant is an exaggerated example of someone able to process problems at a genius level in limited areas, but useless in working out issues in most other areas. Is that an idiot who is sometimes intelligent or an “intelligent person” who is sometimes an idiot?Sometimes he’s intelligent. Sometimes he’s not. An intelligent person would be a person who can use their intellect. But if they’re NOT using it, then they’re not “being intelligent” regardless of whether they are, at other times, able to exercise intellect.>If you disagree with someone, then you probably feel they have bad ideas about something.Here, I would say you couldn’t be more wrong. I disagree with people often where I have great respect and regard for their logic and ideas.>As for Francis Collins, I would describe him as an intelligent person, who is probably wrong about one thing.Is he “wrong” about it—or stupid about it? He doesn’t use his intellect in evaluating his religion. His reasons for being wrong are that he’s not thinking properly. That’s unintelligent thought—or, stupidity. He’s not just wrong. He’s wrong for demonstrably fallacious reasons. That’s stupidity, not just “wrong.”

  56. says

    I hate to stirr the chamber pot but; just imagine how much smarter Frances Collins would be if he were not a christian. It's not just "one thing" he's wrong about, it's an entire model of knowledge and a bias on how the universe works. For example, I had a physiology professor who was a mormon creatonist (and brought it up in class). He was fine in his field of cardiology and I will defer to him as an authority on the subject…but any research he does I have to look more closely at due to knowing that he has a tendency to conformation bias. Him being "wrong about one thing" actually impacts how I'd view his research and his work. A psychologist who believes in demons or body thetans can't be the best psychologist they could be due to those beliefs. A holocaust denier can't be the best historian he could be if he was more honest in his research. A politician can't be the best public servant if he's a racist. Francis Collins can't be the best scientist due to his beliefs that are based on AMAZINGLY stupid reasons. Hell, I saw an UNFROZEN WATER FALL IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER!, Doesn't that by Collin's standards prove that Buddhism is correct!?

  57. says

    Sorry ing, I have a lot to do in the next few days and I know that if I make just one response, it will turn into several more.

  58. says

    OK Thomas. I will respect you letting it slide. But I have to add this. And let me preface, that I only add it because I only happened on this randomly, and it was really appropriate to our discussion. This quote from one of Martin's older blogs on this site:"If a former atheist suddenly became a theist, and did so on the basis of lousy arguments, that would not undermine the views of rational atheism. It would simply mean we had a stupid ex-atheist out there.)"I would say this is a reiteration of what I'm also saying. I understand you don't agree, and again, I'm not posting this to say "See, Martin thinks so too!" I just found it funny that I stumbled on the quote in the midst of our discussion on the topic.

  59. says

    Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!www.onlineuniversalwork.com

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