This talk of impeachment is scattered—it mattered
To very few people—near no one at all!
No major political figure so big you’re
Expected to answer the phone if they call!
No media darling whose speech meant impeachment
Was favored by some in the party of No
A sign that the don’t-tread-on-me-ers, the TEA-ers
Insist that it’s time for Obama to go!
Oh, no, it’s the Democrats, really, who feel he’s
A useful distraction and fundraising tool
Your typical voter won’t notice the POTUS
Is pulling their strings—cos a voter’s a fool!
Impeachment’s about raising money—it’s funny,
A truth they won’t tell on the idiot box.
Republicans don’t want distractions, but actions!
Just trust us—remember, you heard it on Fox!
It’s getting harder to tell the satires from the real opinion pieces. I thought I had stumbled upon one of the former, with the first paragraph here:
In a matter of days, Democrats looking to head off Republican gains in November have turned scattered talk of President Obama’s impeachment into a sustained rallying cry — even managing to fundraise off the perceived threat.
Scattered talk… from the former Vice Presidential candidate, from members of Congress, and with the support of 57% of Republican voters, according to a CNN/ORC poll. I’ve seen little handfuls of people gathered on street corners and highway overpasses with “Impeach Obama” signs, letters to the editor of our local paper, websites selling impeachment T-shirts… scattered indeed. Clearly a false flag operation.
The frenzied warnings have Republicans scratching their heads – after all, few if any in the party brass are openly pushing impeachment — and accusing the other side of ginning up the controversy for political gain.
“You know, this might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told “Fox News Sunday.”
Now, technically, “few if any in the party brass” is true. Palin is, as is her habit, no longer in an official position of power, and the party brass have very little connection to the rabid tea faction that actually drives their lurch to the extreme right. But by including the word “brass”, they can gloss this over and pretend that it must be the Dems who are behind this.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin kicked off the impeachment headlines earlier this month when she penned a column calling for it. But to date, most senior Republicans have shied away from that call.
House Speaker John Boehner stood by his decision to proceed with a lawsuit against the president over alleged abuse of executive power, but would not sign on to the impeachment idea. Even Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., one of the most conservative members of the House GOP caucus, would not get on board with impeachment (though she did back impeaching “certain officials in the Executive Branch.”)
Again, note the qualifiers in “most senior Republicans”–and let’s pretend that the silly Boehner lawsuit was anything but an attempt to appease the impeachment-hounds.
It seems that the only real way to tell the satires from the opinion pieces is that the former tend to be better written:
You don’t have to be a licensed distractionologist to see that the White House is trying to get the president impeached in order to draw attention away from how bad he is at his job.
Don’t believe me? Perhaps a little “history of Obama distractions” is in order.
When he was running for president, Obama tried to distract American voters from the fact that he is black by running for president. That should have been our first sign that this guy was an expert at diversions.
Once in office, Obama immediately ruined our economy by being president, so he distracted us from our financial woes by using death panels to reform the country’s health care system. To draw attention away from those death panels, the administration created the Solyndra solar panel company scandal, and the Fast and Furious federal gun-walking scandal.
Then, to distract from Obamacare, Solyndra and Fast and Furious, Obama selfishly released his long-form birth certificate, causing Donald Trump’s head to explode and sending the right-wing blogosphere into a monthslong apoplectic fit.
Nice to see Fox is there to keep us focused on the shiny thing.
Andrew Brown, writing in the Guardian, notices some interesting stuff about belief and disbelief, and nearly gets it right. Alas, no–but it is instructive to look at the interesting stuff, though.
There are as many atheisms as there are gods. We spend most of our lives disbelieving in things without wasting time asking why, and quite right too. So what is it that makes some particular forms of disbelief intellectually fertile or socially significant? Nick Spencer’s short history of atheism goes a long way towards answering this question, and anyone seriously interested in religion and irreligion today should read it.
Well… yes and no. As both my regular readers know, I like the privative definition of atheism; by that definition, of course, atheists did not and could not exist before believers did. “Godless” presupposes a god. There are no “flightless tables”, even though no tables fly; there are “flightless birds”, though.
What Brown gets wrong, though, is that he confuses “nonbelievers in god X” with “atheists”. There is already a perfectly good word for non-believers in the Christian God: heathens. Non-adherents to Islam are infidels; non-Jews are goyim. These are not different types of atheist, though–a heathen may well be a Muslim; a Jew may be an infidel; Christians are goyim. Not all religions have this us-them binary, but clearly a great many do.
Over in Greece, the logical difficulties of an omnipotent and benevolent God were clear as soon as people got the concepts of omnipotence and benevolence straight. Everything you needed to be an intellectually fulfilled disbeliever in the Christian God was in place by the birth of Christ.
And everything you needed to not believe in Zeus was available the moment Zeus was. All you need is something to create the positive category, and the privative, negative category is the logical consequence. But Brown doesn’t see that.
One answer, Spencer suggests, is that important atheism is always secondary to theism. For any particular atheism to matter, there must be an important conception of God to be rejected; in that sense, atheism is closely related to blasphemy. And the concept of God is itself extremely flexible: some are so strange as to be unrecognisable as gods to other worshippers, which is one reason why the early Christians themselves appeared as atheists to the pagans around them.
Arguments against God’s justice, such as those we see in Babylon, are not arguments against his existence: they are arguments about his character, which presuppose that he has one. Modern atheism, in the sense of a rejection of Christian monotheistic conceptions of God, doesn’t really get started until the 18th century. But by the French Revolution, modern western arguments were clear except for the faith in science, which emerged in the next 100 years.
Yes, of course, atheism depends on religion, logically, as I said above. But atheism does not require a rejection, nor does rejection of a religion’s tenets equate to atheism. As often as not, those who disagreed with a particular tenet of Christianity simply started their own denomination. Martin Luther disagreed with the Catholic church; by Brown’s logic, that makes him an atheist? Joseph Smith–atheist? Oh, hell–here’s a list of founders of religions; by Brown’s logic, each of them are atheists about whatever other religions they might have followed but did not. “[A]rguments about [God's] character, which presuppose that he has one”, are far more likely to be reasons for the splitting of and establishment of new religions, rather than reasons not to believe.
Of course, he is wrong. Being a non-believer in X does not make you an atheist. It makes you a non-believer in X, that’s all. Sometimes there is a label–heathen, infidel, goyim, or perhaps hundreds or thousands more–but there is no need.
The study of how these arguments spread and ramified into their modern forms turns out to be historical and political, rather than philosophical. It was impossible to separate a reaction against Christianity from a reaction against the Christian church, and so the forms this opposition took was determined by the role of the church in the societies involved.
“The” Christian church. See? He’s doing it again. There is not one Christian church, with those who do not believe all atheists. There are hundreds (or thousands, or tens of thousands, depending on how you define them) of Christian denominations, and they are not always even on speaking terms with one another. One can be a Christian and not believe that Catholics are, or that Mormons are. Or one can be a Christian and include those groups among one’s own ingroup. More importantly, one need not be an atheist to disagree with fundamental tenets of a religion. “[A] reaction against the Christian church” can lead to atheism, or to yet another version of the Christian church claiming to be the right one.
Too bad. His first two sentences showed promise. So close.
A Christian man once told me that I “disbelieve in God”;
That a claim of that proportion took some gall!
I corrected him, and told him (which he thought was rather odd)
That I don’t believe in any gods at all!
I asked him to consider whether other gods exist
Which was something that, it seems, he’d never done
In examining the reasons every one could be dismissed
It seems stranger to believe in only one!
There are gods he’d never heard about, but clearly did not follow—
Could he really claim he disbelieved in those?—
Demanding active disbelief is rather hard to swallow
But an absence of belief? Well, I suppose.
Gee, looks like I am not the only one looking at definitions of atheism:
One of the great oddities with regards to issues pertaining to Atheism is the ongoing debates about the definition of the term “Atheism” (and thus, “Atheist” as well).
Often, individual Atheists will concoct their own definitions, demand that the definition applies to all Atheists and authoritatively demand that their definition be adhered to as the only true one.
This quote has been brought to you by the makers of “No True Christian”, your trusted name in deflecting blame. If we can’t trust Christians to define atheism, who can we trust?
The writer cites half a dozen online dictionaries (it is a dictionary’s job to describe how language is used; in a majority Christian population, an online dictionary definition of atheism will not reflect the self-description of atheists themselves), and sums up:
The assertion which is clearly stated within academic scholarly definitions means that Atheism is the position of claiming to know that God does not exist.
The problem is threefold:
1) On this issue, Atheists prefer to run away from academic scholarly definitions and invent their own (or, appeal to weak aka negative aka implicit atheism).
2) The academic scholarly definitions require that Atheists provide evidence so as to prove that God does not exist.
3) Such proof would require Atheists to be omniscient (possessing all knowledge) but since omniscience is a characteristic of deity (it would identify one as a deity) then someone who is omniscient could not prove that God does not exist as via the omniscient claim, they would actually prove the existence of God namely, themselves as they are exercising a characteristic of God.
Ok… first off–”academic scholarly definitions”? Now, I cannot claim that I have never seen a dictionary cited as a source in a scholarly paper, but it is very, very rare; a dictionary definition is far more characteristic of a grade school paper. One of the key elements of scientific writing is the specific vocabulary used, which depends greatly on the subject at hand. The common language definitions of a great many things are far too fuzzy for academic use, and it is the common language definition that the dictionary provides. So… point one is a misrepresentation; what is more, the point it makes is precisely the opposite of what actually is happening in this case.
Secondly… Why “God”? Some of those definitions said “God or gods”; if we look at “gods”, then the “academic scholarly definitions” (well, dictionary definitions, actually) put the same burden on anyone who believes in only one of those gods. Like, say, the Christian writing the post.
Thirdly… Again, the writer presupposes the characteristics of one particular god. The Greek gods could be fooled (recall how Prometheus taught the people to offer two sacrifices–one with the good meat hidden in the stomach, the other with the bones covered with a layer of tasty fat, to fool Zeus), so omniscience is not a characteristic of all gods. Besides which, for the writer to believe in one god and not others would require the same degree of omniscience! To recognize omniscience in one’s own god, as opposed to merely “much, but not all, knowledge”, would require omniscience on one’s own part in order to comprehend the god’s knowledge!
But of course, the writer is not omniscient, and need not be; he can take his god’s omniscience on faith. And he does not need to actively evaluate every other god; not believing in them is sufficient. I won’t hold him to the standards he requires of me. Because he’s wrong, and those standards don’t apply to anyone.
Ohio State, it seems to me,
The answers to this latest quiz
Are biased toward the way things is,
Instead of, if I might be blunt,
A bias toward the things I want—
And so I’m going on the hunt.
I’ll call the press, and force the prof
To take this truthful question off!
This “science” can’t be in our book
(I must admit, I didn’t look,
Or I’d have seen the study there)
Or if it is, I do not care!
It makes me mad, so it’s not fair!
I don’t care what the study shows—
It’s crap, as everybody know!
Liberal bias, it’s plain to see
Pervades this “University”!
But I know best—I won’t be fooled!
This “published study”? Overruled!
You can’t teach me! I won’t be schooled!
This one is really quite funny. An undergrad at Ohio State University saw a question that reflected some uncomfortable research findings, and the shit has hit the fan:
An Ohio State University (OSU) class has apparently determined another fundamental difference between Christians and atheists: their IQ points.
An online quiz from the school’s Psychology 1100 class, provided to Campus Reform via tip, asked students to pick which scenario they found most likely given that “Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125.”
The correct answer? “Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.”
Except that the OSU class had nothing to do with the determination; the question is from an online quiz that is part of the book’s ancillary package, apparently. Chapter 10 of the class’s textbook examines intelligence, apparently including some of the empirical evidence on correlations between IQ tests and various demographics (The other possible answers seem to show that the book also mentioned correlations between IQ and political conservatism/liberalism, and between IQ and earning power, but those answers were phrased to be the opposite of what the studies actually show, and thus were clearly incorrect).
According to a student in the class who wished to remain anonymous, the question was a part of an online homework quiz. Students were required to complete a certain amount of quizzes throughout the course but were encouraged to finish all of them in order to prep for the final exam.
“I understand that colleges have a liberal spin on things so it didn’t surprise me to see the question, which is a sad thing,” the student told Campus Reform in a phone interview. “But how can you really measure which religion has a higher IQ?”
Well, my guess is that this question is answered in the textbook the student apparently did not read. A recent paper, likely the source of the information asked about in the quiz, was a meta-analysis of 63 studies that apparently were able to do what this student finds impossible. (The paper proposes a number of different causal mechanisms, none of which boil down to “Christians are dumber than atheists”, as the CampusReform article headline puts it.) The question also has a “report this question” button, but I suppose calling Campus Reform is more fun. Besides, martyrdom:
“Colleges will tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity,” the OSU student said. “If colleges really want to give everyone a fair shot, they should stay away from making comments about any religion.”
Oddly enough, Cuttledaughter worked in an OSU lab–a biological research lab, with some heavy hitter profs. She was the only atheist in the lab, and felt she had to keep quiet when various discussions took place around the lunch table (at which, btw, grace was said. every day. in a science lab. because colleges tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity), like talk about the War against Christmas or the Jackson, OH school portrait of Jesus. I also have friends who are faculty at OSU; every one of them is Christian.
In sum… the question reflected real research, and was fair game to ask. The student, uncomfortable, chose to go to newspapers rather than through available channels. And whether or not a University opposes or panders to a given religion may well be mostly in the eye of the beholder.
My view, it seems, has been dismissed
Because I am an atheist;
It’s strange—that’s not my view they list—
They call it mine; they quite insist,
Although I never said it.
They know the way the godless act
With lots of noise and little tact
Beyond debate, it’s known as fact
By learned types—to be exact,
Philosophers of reddit.
They’ve seen the way it always works
The utterly expected quirks:
When on his own, he merely lurks
But in a group, they act like jerks—
“My allies will protect me!”
I’ve seen it too—I won’t deny
They act like jerks; I don’t know why.
But think again (I hope you’ll try)
Cos here’s the funny thing—oh, my!
Those atheists reject me!
An amusing little thing happened yesterday. My previous post got linked to by two different subreddit areas (forgive me if my reddit vocabulary is incorrect; I am not a reddit regular. Cuttledaughter loves it, but I guess I have plenty to do here), with very different reactions.
First, it was posted on the “bad philosophy” area. I’ve never seen that subreddit before yesterday, so I don’t know any of their customs or traditions or characters, so I really have nothing to compare it to; I am not complaining about what was said, because I don’t even know if it was meant in earnest (as they say it is “not a place for learns”). But, that said, some of the comments were very dismissive of atheists. Not me in particular, mind you–indeed, those comments read as if they had never read my blog at all (which is overwhelmingly likely, as I am a very small fish in a very big ocean), including the post they were commenting on. Rather, they spoke of atheists and gave the example of the reddit atheism area–a very different place from here, I gather–and disparaged the typical atheist as represented by the reddit atheist.
Meanwhile, the other reddit link to my post was in the “atheism rebooted” area, where it gathered a grand total of two comments, only one on topic. The other, though, was the interesting one:
There is a reason I avoid FTB like the plague… A+ is a huge reason.
Now, you might have noticed that my blogpost itself had absolutely nothing at all to do with A+. Doesn’t matter.
The people giving atheism a bad name already reject us; it’s just too bad the outside world (well, in this case a philosophy subreddit) still groups us with them.
Dana’s right–the rifts aren’t deep enough yet.
Sorry, no verse. My aggregator threw a post at me that was based on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition of atheism. It used that definition for a lot of heavy lifting, showing that we atheist types are all sorts of illogical, given that definition. Thing is, it’s a shit definition, and moreover, it’s not *the* definition by any means.
Anyway, I responded there, and reprise it here in case (but why should it be the case?) it is not printed there:
You have good reason to cite the Stanford encyclopedia–it is convenient for your argument. Mind you, you could have cited any number of other sources that disagree, but this gives you one you can call FACT (appeal to authority, if you care) despite the existence of contradictory definitions.
Let me suggest another authority–the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (How does Oxford rank in comparison to Stanford?). It costs a bit, so here’s a site with the relevant bit quoted with permission: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/02/11/defining-atheism-an-excerpt-from-the-oxford-book-of-atheism/
In a nutshell, atheism is the privative category of religious belief, the “none of the above” answer when asked if you are catholic, lutheran, baptist, episcopalian, brethren, methodist… orthodox, reform… sunni, shia… sikh, hindu, buddhist, zoroastrian, Greek polytheist, Norse polytheist, Scientologist, Mormon, Heaven’s Gate Cultist…. “None of the above” is a perfectly reasonable answer, without any of the baggage of “strong vs weak” (consider–any strong Christian* believer is also a strong Greek Polytheism atheist). It has the added advantage of actually encompassing more atheists than the Stanford definition does, in terms of congruence with the statements of actual atheists; it includes (though the categories are not needed) both “strong” and “weak” atheists, both “accidental” and “deliberate” atheists.
Mind you, the Oxford definition means that much of the rest of your post is relatively irrelevant. Here, of course, you have a choice: You can keep your definition, and maintain that the atheists that don’t fit it are a problem of atheism, or you can recognize that the people you are looking at do not fit the definition you are using because it is a bad definition. In science, when good, hard data disagree with a theory, it is because the theory is inadequate. Here, the data disagree with your Stanford definition. The good news is… you have another, much better, definition sitting right in front of you.
(BTW, the Stanford encyclopedia also happens, coincidentally, to define my own particular are of science incorrectly. It’s a problem I have to alert my students to each semester. The problem with any appeal to authority is, it is only as good as the authority you appeal to.)
I guess I have seen one too many instances of “if X, then Y”, where X is “this is what atheists believe”, and is utter bullshit, and Y is “they must also think all this stuff”, which is more utter bullshit.
Edited to add!–do please click through to see the comments–as of this writing, no atheist comments (not mine, nor any of those of the commenters here) have been published. The site’s author, though, in charge of which comments get through, has commented:
Wow, this post just went up, and we had four atheists comment seeking attention for their personal mental states. This is a blog about evidence. This is not the place for deluded people to call attention to their delusions.For people who want to talk about their beliefs but not about the evidence for those beliefs, I recommend paying a psychologist to listen. The rest of us don’t care about your delusions, we are into arguments and evidence.
Please compare that comment to mine–I would suggest that mine was on topic, appropriate, and not at all about “seeking attention for [my] personal mental state.” I would also suggest that the statement “This is a blog about evidence” is, of course, a lie.
Oh Wintery Knight… I have linked to you, so anyone can see I am not misrepresenting you. Do you have the courage to do the same?
“Hate the sin, but love the sinner”,
So I do not hate the gays—
Their desires aren’t a problem
What’s a problem is their ways
It’s their actions, not their motives,
Which define a life of sin
What’s important is their conduct
Not what drives it from within.
If you act on your attraction
That’s what matters most, you see,
Not your motives but your actions
Are forbidden by decree
Thus, I treat them like pariahs
While I love them, every one—
I don’t hate their evil thinking,
Just the evil they have done
You might want to call it bigotry—
It isn’t, really, quite—
See, I’m practicing religion
So it has to be all right
Since my faith’s my motivation
There’s a fact you’ll have to face:
It’s my motive, not my actions
That’s important in this case
According to the Catholic News Agency, representatives of US bishops have made clear their position: When it comes to same-sex relationships, it is perfectly fine for someone to experience attraction, but acting on that attraction is beyond the pale. The problem is that “the bill does not differentiate between same-sex attraction and same-sex conduct, posing a problem to faith groups such as Catholics that affirm the dignity of homosexual persons but oppose homosexual actions.” That is, it’s ok to be gay, so long as no one knows it from what you do, like, say, getting married or actually engaging in a human relationship. It’s what you do that they have a problem with, not your reasons for doing it.
They also made clear their objections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which focuses on what you do, ignoring your reasons for doing it, which the bishops think is entirely unfair.
“Churches, businesses, and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity,” the bishops wrote in a July 17 blog post for the U.S. bishops’ conference.
They have religious reasons for discriminating, which means they can’t possibly be actually discriminating; it’s their reasons for doing stuff that is important, not the actual discrimination they are engaged in.
It’s all so simple, really.
Lionfish live in the ocean
Little Lauren gets a notion:
Might they live in rivers, too?
Would they thrive in brackish water?
Lauren, ichthyologist’s daughter,
Knows just what to do
Slowly starts desalination
Learns some brand-new information
Of which we’re now aware
New understanding’s always great
So, never underestimate
The sixth-grade science fair!
Via NPR, new information from a young scientist–a sixth grade science project demonstrates that invasive lionfish would be able to survive in brackish river water, widening the range of potentially threatened ecosystems.
“Scientists were doing plenty of tests on them, but they just always assumed they were in the ocean,” Lauren, now 13, tells NPR’s Kelly McEvers. “So I was like, ‘Well, hey guys, what about the river?’ ”
In the beginning, she wanted to conduct her test by placing the lionfish in cages at different points in the river, but she had to simplify the project.
“It was just a small, sixth-grade project, and I really didn’t have all the tools necessary,” she says. Her dad, who has a Ph.D. in fish ecology, suggested that she put the fish in tanks instead.
Now, there are a lot of problems with science fairs, and frankly, Lauren’s very good research points out some of them–for instance, the odds of any random kid from her class having access to six different aquarium tanks (and the equipment needed to maintain them) are remote. This sort of science fair shows the role privilege can play.
But it also shows that a great question, and an elegant test of the answer, can sometimes come from unexpected places. Reminds me a bit of Emily Rosa. And we should not be surprised in the least when kids’ science fair ideas are influenced by what they have grown up listening to around the dinner table.
If you want to play the market—
And to out-perform the Dow—
There’s an index fund that’s figured out
A brand-new method how!
If you recognize diversity
In leadership positions
You can make a great portfolio
From other funds’ omissions!
If you specialize in companies
Where women are in charge
You’re omitting eighty-nine percent
(Cos men rule, by and large)
See, women in the boardroom
Are a rarity, it’s true,
But investing in these women
Can be lucrative for you!
But! Addressing disproportion
In the modern business scheme
Means investing more in women!
(It’s a feminazi dream!)
So the MRA’s start screaming
“This is sexist, can’t you see?—
Why, such actions are atrocious…
They no longer favor me!
So… I found this by traveling backward, having seen the final product first–but I think it best to start at the beginning. There is, New Hampshire Public Radio reports, an index fund that focuses on companies with women in leadership positions:
There are 406 companies in Pax’s new index fund, including Microsoft, General Electric, and Estee Lauder. Besides being well-established brands, they have one thing in common: women in leadership positions. Ninety-seven percent of all the companies in the fund have two or more female board members. In a traditional index fund, says Pax CEO Joe Keefe, women sit on only about 11 percent of board seats.
You know there’s significant research at this point showing that where women are better represented on corporate board and where women are better represented in senior company management that those companies actually perform better.
So… 2 or more female board members. So most of the boards still have men, and may well have a majority of men. There’s no real threat to men here, nor is there any implied in the research:
It’s not that women are better at business than men. Sorry, ladies. “What the research points to,” Keefe says, “is that diverse groups make better decisions than non-diverse groups.”
Ok, I could do without the “Sorry, ladies.” What the research is telling us is what feminists have long realized: you don’t do your business any favors by excluding half of the potential brainpower. If the existing inequalities (seriously, 89% of companies have no women on their boards?) are there because men are naturally better at business, this fund should tank. But no, a fund that addresses institutional sexism is doing quite well!
The NHPR article is titled “Pax Index Bets Women-Led Firms Can Beat The Stock Market“. I’d probably have read it with that title anyway, but that was not the title I first saw. Via a box at the Union Leader, the first title I saw was “Pax World believes sexist fund can beat the market“.
That’s right–a fund that seeks inclusiveness and diversity, because it deliberately searches for the 1/9th of companies that have both men and women on their boards, and not the 8/9ths of companies that have men only, has been labeled “sexist”.