The Reason Rally ought to have some standards

Oh, joy. Senator Tom Harkin will appear in a video message at the Reason Rally. While he may be a lifelong Catholic, as he declares in the announcement, and while he is one of the biggest supporters of acupuncture, chiropracty, herbal and homeopathic ‘healing’, and all the alt med bullshit he can fling millions of federal funds at, we’re apparently supposed to grovel in gratitude that a sitting senator deigns to patronize us atheists.

Why?

This is a man who takes pride in being affiliated with a patriarchal, hierarchical, medieval institution that oppresses women, celebrates poverty, wallows in its own wealth and privilege, and has actively disseminated pedophiles into communities all around the world…and has worked hard to protect and defend these child rapists. This is an organization that is currently fighting for the right to refuse life-saving care to women, that even opposes making contraception available to men and women, that endorses discrimination against gay couples.

This is a man who pushed through the formation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative ‘Medicine’, a gigantic boondoggle that sucks federal research dollars out of the hands of qualified scientists studying real phenomena and into the hands of quacks and con artists peddling bogus therapies. This is a man who so poorly understands science that, when his pet quackeries all failed when examined, declared his disappointment because he said NCCAM was supposed to “validate alternative approaches”, and instead was “disproving things rather than seeking out and approving things.”

Yeah. That Tom Harkin.

Was Deepak Chopra busy on 24 March? Did Oprah have a hair appointment? Maybe it’s not too late to sign up John Edward — he could channel Ingersoll and Russell and Sagan for us, although of course we’d have to be content with him guessing at their words one letter at a time. Aww, heck, let’s go all the way: the Phelps clan is going to be there picketing anyway, let’s give one of them a speaker’s slot right after Nate Phelps.

You know, I’ve been working on my 15 minute talk for the event, and I’m kind of peeved that now I have to toss in some stuff sniping at this dumbass video Harkin is phoning in…which is scheduled to be shown two hours after me, which makes it hard to address. I’m sandwiched in at 1:40, in between Jamila Bey (yay!) and…

Bill Maher?

WTF, man. W. T. F. Yeah, I know he’s said some great pro-atheist stuff, but I’m planning to promote science and reason, and that anti-vax/anti-medicine stuff ought to be a big red flag at a Reason Rally.

Dave Silverman is going to hate me.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’m planning to promote science and reason, and that anti-vax/anti-medicine stuff ought to be a big red flag at a Reason Rally.

    Apparently it’s a reason rally for certain values of reason.

  2. evodevo says

    NCCAM is one of the biggest wastes of tax dollars since the MIC. On the other hand, they HAVE definitively disproved a LOT of the alternate therapy crap.

    There are waaay too many Congresscritters who support or are “undecided” about woo, in its many forms. And I’m talking about the more intelligent ones. Too bad.

    Fight the good fight, PZ

  3. says

    WTF, man. W. T. F. Yeah, I know he’s said some great pro-atheist stuff, but I’m planning to promote science and reason, and that anti-vax/anti-medicine stuff ought to be a big red flag at a Reason Rally.

    Some people – Richard Dawkins included – are hardly capable of distinguishing between someone being pro-atheist/anti-religious – and someone being genuinely pro-reason

  4. christophepetroni says

    Some people – Richard Dawkins included – are hardly capable of distinguishing between someone being pro-atheist/anti-religious – and someone being genuinely pro-reason

    What do you mean by that, exactly? The only connection I know between the two is Bill Maher’s receiving the Richard Dawkins award, and Richard has nothing to do with that; it’s just named after him. Of course, Richard has appeared on Maher’s show, but that’s hardly an endorsement of his views.

  5. says

    Crap. I just finished posting a comment to a wingnut who played the tu quoque about Maher being as misogynist as Rush Limbaugh. Most everyone I know considers Maher to be crap for his misogyny and anti-vax status.

  6. says

    Oh great. Just fucking great! Now ALL the literature related to the event is going to have to be changed. By adding questionable guests to the roster the organizers are now going to have to re-title the whole event from the “Reason Rally” to the “Reason Rollercoaster.”

    Just remember not to take in too much food or drink before getting on or you may end up vomiting on some of the other attendees.

    At least with a hardcore spawn of Satan gnu atheist like PZ at the event you know it won’t degenerate completely into an E-ticket ride.

  7. mattand says

    @christophepetroni #5:

    Maher received an award named for Dawkins from the Atheist Alliance International back in ’09. The award is given, for among other reasons, for promoting critical thought and science, something which Maher’s alt-med stance fails miserably at.

    IIRC, when finally pressed on the issue, Dawkins was pretty much “As long as Maher shits on religion, who cares what his other views are?” Going off the top of my head right now and searching for links on that.

    Plus, Dawkins’s reaction to Rebecca Wastson’s Elevatorgate dust up wasn’t exactly awash in critical thought as well.

  8. logic says

    It’s not just anti-vax. Maher has bought into the idea (popular in Hollywood, I think) that toxins in our food and medicine are making us sick.

  9. Abdul Alhazred says

    This is a man who takes pride in being affiliated with a patriarchal, hierarchical, medieval institution that oppresses women, celebrates poverty, wallows in its own wealth and privilege …

    The US Senate.

    … and has actively disseminated pedophiles into communities all around the world…and has worked hard to protect and defend these child rapists.

    Oh. You mean the Roman Catholic Church.

  10. readingwhilefemale says

    Bill Maher is going to be there? That’s just awful. He is anti-vax, anti-medicine, and a screaming misogynist to boot. I am really quite unhappy that he gets as much attention as he does. I would hate for people to think that my beliefs are associated with him in any way. Being reasonable doesn’t just mean being an atheist, it means applying reason to every aspect of your life. PZ, I hope that you will fight the good fight and preemptively give him, and people like him, the what-for.

    As for Tom Harkin, I wonder about his motivations for speaking. He’s Catholic, and generally pro-choice. Is he trying to separate himself from the conservative anti-woman side of Catholicism? Does he actually support the general idea of skepticism, and is just wildly uneducated and confused as to why alternative medicine is neither scientific nor reasonable? Or is he simply trying to woo potential voters who may be looking for an alternative to the Christian Right? It seems like a strange choice to me. I’m curious as to what he has to say and why the organizers are letting him speak.

  11. julian says

    I’m more comfortable with Senator Harkin than I am with Bill Maher. Senator Harkin has at least shown himself to be capable of following reasoned debate and providing helpful input, even if he’s unable to do this with his stance on alt-med. What exactly does Real Time have to offer, though? Some unfunny digs at how unreasonable any belief in god is? Yeah, we don’t need that.

  12. cry4turtles says

    I’m fixin’ to take a beating on this, but I think some alt Med is effective. This morning I woke with a throat so sore I couldn’t eat breakfast. I took a tsp. of honey and it worked! First time I tried it. Just finished my eggs and toast with pain of about a 1 (down from roughly 7). At least this NCCAM may be able to definitively expose the scam from substance. I think that would be useful to humanity. Now, commence to beating me down for trying the honey instead of the ER. Try to be gentle…I will be gargling warm salt water.

  13. julian says

    Now, commence to beating me down for trying the honey instead of the ER.

    I suspect you’re more likely to get put on blast for dismissing the many ways NCCAM has diverted funds from more worthwhile projects while continuing to test failed remedies the we have every indication do not work.

  14. mattand says

    @cry4turtles:

    You’re new here, aren’t you? This should be fun.

    Anyways, odds are you didn’t “cure” anything with the honey. Just temporary relief so you could eat. It is a shining example of the typical non-logic behind alt med thinking, however.

  15. says

    Re: christophepetroni

    What do you mean by that, exactly?

    PLENTY of things, over PLENTY of issues – perhaps too long and in-depth for me to want to lay out here – but the Maher issue is one (very small) hallmark of it. 

    The only connection I know between the two is Bill Maher’s receiving the Richard Dawkins award, and Richard has nothing to do with that; it’s just named after him.

    The AAI do very specifically ask for Richard’s blessing, when they select a candidate for the award – and Richard can generally be found handing the award over to said candidate. It may be issued by a third party, but that doesn’t mean that Richard is kept out of the picture, and can easily wash his hands clean of what that third party does in his name.

    Richard could have taken a strong and laudable stance for reason and science, by simply refusing to endorse the AAI’s decision – and making that stance crystal clear to the public. He didn’t. Instead he churned out shitty excuses and post-hoc rationalisations – which he still stands by.

    All unfortunately very much par for the course when it comes to Richard Dawkins’ reasoning doublethinking capabilities, and his advocacy of reason and science.

  16. danbraganca says

    Good for you PZ. We need to demonstrate that we promote reason and skepticism without bias. If we decided to shut up just because someone is an “ally” we’d set a dangerous and hypocritical standard.

  17. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    cry4turtles, do get off that cross. Everyone will want to have a poke and your sore throat is only going to get worse if you keep hanging out there the whole day.

  18. frankb says

    I’m glad Rebecca and others spoke up for my senator. I am disappointed that he is into alt medicine and a Catholic. But if that is the worst of his faults I can live with that. Of course his video is all political, trying to maintain a broad base.

  19. joed says

    Why not tell Sen. Harkin no thank you.
    He is politician that will only make a joke of the Reason Rally, but will garner votes for him.
    Is there any way to tell him no thanks? Somebody must have the power to stop Harkin.

  20. cry4turtles says

    Mattand, been blogging here for about 4 years now, definitely not new. I certainly could be wrong about the honey, but it did seem like a cause and effect thing. I’m going to have to research this NCCAM thing. Are they government or privately funded? Beatrice, I respect you as a fellow athiest, but please don’t put my name and “cross” in the same sentence. I almost threw up (another sickness coming?) I was just saying that it may be beneficial to put the woo to rest. I believe a portion of it can be scientifically tested. Who decides what gets tested anyway? The NIH? Hope to see you all on Saturday. No matter who speaks, I got my bus ticket!!

  21. cry4turtles says

    I feel the need to clarify that when I say alt Med I mean nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and some herbs (including my personal favorite:maryjane). I have no respect for ripoffs like spiritual BS, Rekki and the sort. Try to keep it real.

  22. says

    @cry4turtles: nutrition and healthy lifestyle aren’t altmed. Even herbal medicine isn’t.The altmed industry may try to tell you otherwise, all of these have long been part of science-based medicine.

  23. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Healthy lifestyle (definition of which doesn’t at all change depending on who’s talking, not at all, no way) is now alternative medicine? Ooookay.
    You don’t really give much thought to what you are writing, do you?
    Like, when you commented on NCCAM when you know nothing about it.
    Or calling nutrition alternative medicine.
    I’m sure there will be more to add to the list.

  24. says

    I’m ok (with what I’ve seen) of Harkin’s message:

    We also celebrate the freedom, tolerance, nondiscrimination and right of dissent that are enshrined in our Constitution — that define us as Americans and as a truly free people…”

    That’s a good message that I wish more politicians would express.

    I think good skepticism can separate the various positions that people promote instead of painting a person as good or bad.

    So I hope a number of speakers at the Reason Rally will recognize the value of this statement AND call out Harkin on his completely BS stance on alt-med.

    We should encourage and praise ideas that we value and criticize those that we don’t. Even if both ends of the spectrum can be attributed to the same person.

  25. says

    NCCAM is government funded.

    It makes me sick to have Maher trotted out as an example of a misogynistic liberal icon, because he’s not really a liberal icon. It makes me sicker to see him used as an example of an misogynistic woo-filled atheist icon, because he really is an atheist icon.

  26. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Yeah, I’m less upset about Harkin than I am about Maher and Krauss. Considering how difficult it is for atheists to get elected at all, I think having the open support of a Senator is a good thing. And calling out his support for homeopathy and other woo is a fairly simple thing. But calling out other atheist speakers about their blind spots regarding misogyny? Something tells me that a lot of people will regard that as beyond the pale.

  27. carlie says

    Good lord. Honey is sticky. It coats the sore membranes so that when other substances touch it, those don’t irritate the membranes because of the coating. That’s not alt-med.

    Seconding the comments that Harkin isn’t so bad, but Maher is just vile.

  28. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    I feel the need to clarify that when I say alt Med I mean nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and some herbs (including my personal favorite:maryjane).

    None of which is alternative medicine. A proper balance of types of calories, which oils one uses, and proper doses of vitamins and minerals have all been studied by researchers — y’know, scientists? — and have been shown to affect one’s health. A healthy lifestyle (and I presume you mean exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption*) has also been studied and shown to have definite medical benefits. And as for herbs? Many medicines come from compounds extracted from herbs. The big difference is, in herbal form, dosage control is almost non-existent. And yes, marijuana does have very definite and well studied pharmacological effects. You state that you use ‘some herbs.’ How do you decide which ones? Do you use those that have been studied in labs, subjected to double blind testing, and shitloads of research? If so, then it is medicine.

    Basically, medicine is alternative medicine that has been shown to work.

    I do use honey (specifically clover honey) for minor sore throats. It provides temporary (and possibly placebo) relief of a symptom. If it persists and comes back, I go to actual medicine.

    * Truth in commenting: I am overweight, I smoke the occasional cigar, I do not exercise enough, but I am a light drinker. One out of four ain’t bad.

  29. kiri says

    Harkin voted for DOMA. I know he has also voted to protect gay people in some scenarios, but has he actually changed his opinion about DOMA and such? I’m glad he’s not a horrible misogynist like many other Catholics, but that stance alone doesn’t really negate all of his other issues.

    As for Maher, I was also unhappy when I heard that he was going to have a video, as his anti-vax shit is the exact opposite of reason. I’ve only seen a bit of his comedy and such, but I haven’t really seen much that would lead me to think that he’s a misogynist. Could someone point me to some info I could read on this topic?

    I’m a bit confused by the way that some people defend Harkin while criticizing Maher. I’m obviously not a huge fan of Maher, but how can you overlook the fact that Harkin subscribes to a religion that is so horrible?

  30. mattand says

    @crys4turtles #25:

    You came off as new because, generally, no regular reader in their right mind would post here claiming there may be something to alt med because they thought honey cured a sore throat. Plus, as Beatrice pointed with her cross comment, the whole post has a martyr stink about it.

    I’m also having a hard time swallowing that if you’ve been posting here for 4 years, you have no familiarity with alt med. It’s been discussed enough at Pharyngula that even a causal reader will have read about it.

    Honestly, it sounds like you want to believe in this stuff but the evidence against alt med keeps slapping you upside the head.

    Like llewelly alluded to, go read Orac at Respectful Insolence. Whatever notions you’re holding that there’s something to alt med will be disabused quickly enough.

  31. cry4turtles says

    Ogvorbis, I’m 1 1/2 out of four. Did some research on NAACM. Seems like there’s a lot of research reviews, and they do research nutrition and lifestyle. Maybe it’s worthless, maybe not. There is an interesting study on nutrition and cognitive decline. Beatrice, you really don’t have to attack me. I’m just trying to converse.

  32. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    When I graduated from collage, back in ’89, our governor, John Sununu, was the keynote speaker. When he got behind the lectern, about 1/2 of the graduating class (though only a few of the law school graduates) stood up, turned around, and waited silently. We showed our disapproval of his stance on female rights and expressed ourselves without seriously disrupting the exercise. Our school president was not pleased with our protest but had no objection to the way we protested. Sununu was, apparently, very hurt and felt he had been subjected to a personal attack.

    Those attending the Reason Rally down in DC might want to consider the same silent but obvious protest? I know these will be video, not live, but it still may show the organizers that wooism and misogyny are not acceptable.

  33. says

    Being Canadian, I don’t know anything about Harkin, but I’ll guess he’s from the left-progressive side of Catholicism (there did actually used to be such a thing — guess they haven’t all been purged). And of course, alt-med seems to be one of the characteristic follies of the Left, the way creationism is on the Right. However, having a politician address an atheist event seems like a valuable statement of secularism, and the fact that he’s religious arguably makes it even more so.

    But, geez: Maher? Is this the Reason Rally, or the Atheist Rally? I’m not interested in a tribal event in which flying the Scarlet A flag is the ticket of admission. I am an atheist for the same reason as I’m anti-alt-med: because, at base, I’m anti-sloppy thinking and just generally anti-bullshit.

  34. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    cry4turtles:

    Odd. Beatrice wrote, basically, exactly what I wrote. Yet you seem to agree with me but think Beatrice attacked you. Odd.

  35. julian says

    I’m obviously not a huge fan of Maher, but how can you overlook the fact that Harkin subscribes to a religion that is so horrible?

    There is a huge disconnect between Catholics and the Church. Many Catholics don’t even understand the basics of papal infallibility which often make the arguments difficult to even start. (One woman I knew said the Pope was no better than anyone else and couldn’t make her stop being Catholic.) Which is why people like the Senator are so common on the left. Yes Senator Harkin is a Catholic but his voting record is not.

    I’m more than willing to criticize him for his failings but Catholicism is weird when we’re talking about left wing believers. They’re every bit as guilty as other believers are of insisting faith is a good thing and that if only we all followed Jesus the world would live in peace. But the liberal approach to picking and choosing the softest bits of any theology often strip Catholicism of anything but its shiny gold hats and stain glass.

  36. Tony says

    cry4turtles:

    I’m fixin’ to take a beating on this, but I think some alt Med is effective. This morning I woke with a throat so sore I couldn’t eat breakfast. I took a tsp. of honey and it worked! First time I tried it. Just finished my eggs and toast with pain of about a 1 (down from roughly 7). At least this NCCAM may be able to definitively expose the scam from substance. I think that would be useful to humanity. Now, commence to beating me down for trying the honey instead of the ER. Try to be gentle…I will be gargling warm salt water.

    Did I miss the memo that stated honey was a form of alternative medicine ?

  37. joed says

    Mixing politics with reason can only have one outcome and that be more unreasonable crap.
    Harkin can and will say anything to promote his desire to win an election and gain more voters.
    The lesser of 2 evils argument is evil in itself.
    The lo2e is the reason why the U S has turned into such a shitty country for so many hard working, concerned and caring people.
    Vote against incumbents always. Harkin has done his share to create the mess. there really is no difference between obama and santorum.
    obama is prez and women are staring back at the dark ages anyway. santorum will change nothing. Whoever is prez will take their orders from others.
    Harkin is one of them and having Harkin at the Reason Rally make a huge joke of the Rally and the other speakers. Can’t someone tell Harkin thanks but no thanks?!-

  38. Randomfactor says

    PZ, if they’re only giving you 15 minutes, a louder statement might be to decline the speaking engagement. I’m having the same feeling about the Reason Rally as a whole.

    It’s not just the questionable speakers; to me, something seems off-kilter about the whole thing.

  39. kiri says

    Julian (I’m having trouble quoting):
    I understand that there’s quite a disconnect between Catholics and Church, but the fact of the matter is still that Harkin adheres to at least some Catholic beliefs. Sure, it’s possible that he usually keeps those beliefs in his personal life, instead of letting them affect his voting. That doesn’t change the fact that we’re letting someone who, by calling himself Catholic, supports the Catholic church (at least to some extent), speak at the “Reason” Rally. I just don’t understand why some people are OK with Harkin but not Maher. Personally, I’m against having either of them participate.

  40. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    cry4turtles,

    You started off with a “oh, I’m going to be victimized for my controversial thoughts” post. Then you kept on offering nonsensical opinions on things you yourself confess to know nothing about. You could have been attacked for all that, but what I wrote was no attack. It was hardly even a proper poke.

  41. says

    @35: I’m a bit confused by the way that some people defend Harkin while criticizing Maher. I’m obviously not a huge fan of Maher, but how can you overlook the fact that Harkin subscribes to a religion that is so horrible?

    Can’t speak for anyone but myself, but my perceptions are:

    Harkin is a politician from outside our movement speaking to us. No one expects him to be on-side with our specific issues; simply being recognized as legitimate players in a multi-polar world is a good thing. What we have in common with (non-theocratic) religious people is an interest in *secularism* — we can have the debate with Harkin et al about religion, medical research, etc, later. (Though I await hearing his actual words before passing final judgement.)

    Maher OTOH, is billed as “one of us”, when in significant ways, he is not, and it seems like a betrayal of principle to have him on the playlist.

  42. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    I just don’t understand why some people are OK with Harkin but not Maher.

    Possibly because Harkin has a voting record that shows, with some exceptions, that he is on the side of progress, rationality and, despite his Catholicism, reality? We may not agree with everything he has done, but his votes show him to be an ally. Maher, on the other hand . . . . The only thing we have to go on is what he says and how he says it. His record is verbal, not legislative, so there is less to show which side of the reason divide he inhabits. His stance on vaccine and woomeds, though, tilt him away from progress, away from rationality, away from reality.

    This is just my useless opinion. You asked . . . .

  43. carlie says

    Eamon Knight – you speak for me, too. Especially this part:

    No one expects him to be on-side with our specific issues; simply being recognized as legitimate players in a multi-polar world is a good thing.

    Hell, anything more than “I don’t think that atheists should be allowed to vote” (a G.HW Bush statement) is a good thing in my book.

  44. cry4turtles says

    I don’t think anyone should allow a few speakers they disagree with ruin the rally. This is our chance to be seen and heard. If you stay home, your voice will be silent. Okay Beatrice, I concede your point. I’ll find few who agree with me on the aforementioned topic here, but that’s okay. As long as we stay unified in the greatest battle of our time.

  45. julian says

    Maher OTOH, is billed as “one of us”, when in significant ways, he is not, and it seems like a betrayal of principle to have him on the playlist.

    ugh

    I hadn’t thought of that. Senator Harkin would be there as a show of good faith (hopefully) with non believers and to make this less about atheism per se.

    Bill Maher would be there as supposedly shining example of (and no doubt lecture us on) what we stand for.

    *shivers*

    no. just…no..

  46. joed says

    @45 Randomfactor
    Exactly, thank you, excellent suggestion.

    Professor Myers, if you boycott the Reason Rally I would think you are standing up for the philosophy and ideals I hear you profess so often.

  47. Pinkamena, Panic Pony says

    joed @#44:

    The lo2e is the reason why the U S has turned into such a shitty country for so many hard working, concerned and caring people.
    Vote against incumbents always.

    So you fight un-reason… with un-reason? That’s some stupid, wholly-Internet-cultivated, anti-governmentist, lolbertarian ponyshit right there. That’s not reasonable. That’s not well-informed. That’s immature.

    You want a reason why the country’s going to shit? YOU. Take a look in the mirror. Grow the fuck up and take this teenage shit to the trash pile where it belongs!

  48. joed says

    @55 Pinkamena, Panic Pony
    I have voted against the incumbent since 1998.
    For many years I did vote for the lesser of 2 evils and therefore did my share to turn the U S into the shitty country it is today.

  49. tsig says

    Randomfactor
    18 March 2012 at 12:08 pm

    PZ, if they’re only giving you 15 minutes, a louder statement might be to decline the speaking engagement. I’m having the same feeling about the Reason Rally as a whole.

    It’s not just the questionable speakers; to me, something seems off-kilter about the whole thing.

    This^^^^^^

  50. says

    Randomfactor
    18 March 2012 at 12:08 pm
    PZ, if they’re only giving you 15 minutes, a louder statement might be to decline the speaking engagement. I’m having the same feeling about the Reason Rally as a whole.

    It’s not just the questionable speakers; to me, something seems off-kilter about the whole thing.

    QFT I jumped on my computer this morning to post a hell yeah post to this post of PZ’s but as a recovering cradle Catholic, I thought I’d give the senator the benefit of the doubt and check on his record. I found a story in an Iowa paper saying he had voted AGAINST the conscience clause thing on March 1, and then I was all “WTF?” but then I dug a little deeper and PZ is of course right- which raises more questions about “journalism” and the misinformation…

    But, ugh yes. My BS meter is going off now, too…

  51. Grumps says

    This is the Reason Rally, right? No-one, atheist or not, who is anti-vax should be a speaker there. It really is that simple. Sure an anti-vax atheist could speak at an atheist rally, but at a reason rally? No, no, no.

  52. says

    They should probably consider getting some moon landing hoaxers to appear. Maybe some hollow Earthers and historical revisionists as well.

  53. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    and historical revisionists as well.

    Totally off topic, but all historians are revisionists. When new material becomes available, we revise (as in revisionism) our interpretation of what happened and why. Historical denialism (holocaust denial, America is a Christian Nation, conservatives led the Civil Rights movement, etc.) is a whole ‘nuther pile of peas.

    Sorry. Back to our regularly scheduled thread.

  54. says

    Ogvorbis,
    After I posted that I thought that might get mentioned and I regretted using their term for it. To be people who call themselves revisionists are normally just people with an agenda and evidence be dammed. Historians that actually revise history are just historians.

  55. cag says

    Perhaps the choice of speakers is designed to exercise reason. If every speaker agrees with you then you might as well be in an echo chamber. It is important to be able to distinguish between reason and unreason. Churches preach the message, dissent is discouraged. Let’s not homogenize what we are exposed to. Remember that Westboro was invited, probably as a prime example of unreason, not accommodation.

    I’m sure that there is not another person alive who would agree with me 100%. Let’s not go all internecine here. Excluding Maher, Harkin and Westboro may be comforting but will it promote reasonable discussion? Their inclusion will promote dialogue, not stifle it. It is the difference between “nice day” and “I can agree with _______ about X but I disagree about Y”. We don’t hide, we reason, sometimes faulty reason leads us to wrong conclusions.

    Is my reasoning faulty?

  56. says

    UGH I have been stuck on the computer trying to understand these confusing bills for an hour. It appears that the Iowa paper may have been right but the wording is deucedly difficult to understand. It appears that Harkin did vote against the Blunt amendment, but he did it by voting FOR tabling the bill. So the news story says he voted AGAINST it – which threw me when I saw that he had voted YEA on MArch 1. Bloody obfuscating congressional launguage.

    Now I have to update my post, but the point remains that Harkin did vote for a whole raft of other anti-choice legislation and privileging of religion. THe quote in the Iowa paper makes me not think quite so badly of him, however:

    Sen. Harkin said the measure would undermine the whole health care law. Here’s what he had to say this morning, courtesy of Radio Iowa:
    “It would allow any employer or any health plan to deny women access to contraception, mammograms, prenatal screenings, cervical cancer screenings and much more,” Harkin says. “It would allow employers and health insurance companies to deny coverage of any health services they find morally objectionable.”
    Read more: http://www.qctimes.com/blogs/campaign-trail/religious-freedom-and-women-s-reproductive-rights/article_b98c966c-63f2-11e1-91ca-001871e3ce6c.html#ixzz1pUlByB9q

    I still agree with PZ that he is hardly a poster boy for Reason, but at least he is not quite as bad as I first thought. But yeah – what are these people doing speaking at a REASON Rally at all?

    I still find myself wondering if there is another agenda.

  57. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Excluding Maher, Harkin and Westboro may be comforting but will it promote reasonable discussion?

    From everything I have read about Westboro, I really don’t think they are capable of reasonable discussion. There is simply nothing reasonable about them. So, any discussion that doesn’t involve them should be more reasonable than one that does.

  58. Grumps says

    @ dangeroustalk

    This is not an atheist rally. It’s the REASON Rally. If one believes in stuff for which there is no evidence (e.g. gods, unicorns, compassionate republicans) or don’t believe in stuff for which there is a truck load of evidence (e.g. vaccinations, global warming, Brownian’s awesomeness) then one doesn’t belong there. Period.

  59. says

    Is my reasoning faulty?

    Cag, yes it is. Because reasonable people do not diminish legitimate, evidence-based ideas by treating them as equivalent to nonsense, superstition and woo.

  60. Grumps says

    aargh, grammar mistake, sorry; “or don’t believe in stuff..” should be “or doesn’t believe…”.

  61. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    If every speaker agrees with you then you might as well be in an echo chamber.

    I’m sure that there is not another person alive who would agree with me 100%.

    I’m assuming you consider the second true for others as well. Which would mean the situation in the first can’t happen anyway.
    /nitpicker

  62. says

    As far as so called alternative medicine goes it’s an equal opportunity fallacy. Plenty of right wingers are into it as well.

  63. julian says

    where do we go to fill out our atheist purity tests so that we can know if we are pure enough to go to the Reason Rally?

    This isn’t about atheism. Some of the most unreasonable thinkers out there are atheists who back 9/11 truthers, alt-med and ten million other kinds of hogwash. They sure as fuck don’t belong at a celebration of reason.

  64. says

    I hope it isn’t too sentimental to say that this thread has, if nothing else, finally given me a sense of belonging and vindication, as one of those cranky square pegs who dares to scoff from time-to-time at the supposed pro-reason, self-appointed leaders of our collective sceptical/rational/scientific/secular/liberal movement.

    That inclination may be pretty par for the course for our demographic – but it only serves to show how those ‘leaders’ of ours desperately need to avoid getting complacent, and letting their heads recede up their backsides. Because we are intelligent and principled, we won’t swallow the sweet-talking PR-speak, we won’t let it slip if you drop the ball or fuck us about, and we WILL savage you for YOUR out-and-out bullshit, as easily as we’d savage the religious fool for theirs. 

    Herding cats may be no mean feat – but it will always be made a lot easier by practising what you preach when it comes to critical thinking – and by not insulting the intelligence of your target audience. 

    If I may reiterate one particularly sore-point of mine – I can only say that I am continually impressed by how, within a fast-growing movement – Richard Dawkins and his namesake foundation have been taking such great strides in LOSING SUPPORT – completely by their own basic incompetence and hubris. It’s amazing. And long may they continue to lose support while they maintain and excuse those same individuals with those same sloppy standards. 

    They tell us they need more money, so that they may show us why they really deserve our money. They don’t need more money. They need more sense. They need more humility. They need more self-awareness. They need to stop hoping that their target audience is perhaps just a little bit thick – while alienating those who clearly are more intelligent than they are. They need to be genuinely professional and competent instead of trying to maintain a good front, and waving Richard Dawkins at people. They need to stop simply wanking their own status and self-importance – and actually find out what engages us hoi polloi. They need to show that they are willing to entertain criticism – even biting criticism – and to listen and respond appropriately. And if they simply can’t manage that competently, then they need to hand over their position to someone else who can. The problem is within themselves, and their own attitudes. Money will never cure that – and would be much better simply placed in more competent hands.

  65. says

    I have to say, that I am a little disappointed with you on this one PZ and with many of my fellow freethinkers as well it seems. I’ll have my blog up on this topic tomorrow.

  66. says

    This isn’t about atheism. Some of the most unreasonable thinkers out there are atheists who back 9/11 truthers, alt-med and ten million other kinds of hogwash. They sure as fuck don’t belong at a celebration of reason.

    Quire right.

  67. mikee says

    PZ,

    I vehemently disagree with those who have suggested you don’t turn up in protest. It makes no sense to remove one of our best voices for atheism AND reason, leaving more time for those who are anti-science.

  68. says

    where do we go to fill out our atheist purity tests so that we can know if we are pure enough to go to the Reason Rally?

    You start by recognising that it wouldn’t be an atheist purity test, so much as a reasoning purity test – and it’s not to attend the rally – but to stand as a speaker to the audience. At a Reason Rally – your atheism isn’t the qualifying criterion – your general reasoning ability is.

    And I’m personally going to give you a preliminary mark of C-, for what it’s worth.

  69. says

    dangeroustalk:

    I have to say, that I am a little disappointed with you on this one PZ and with many of my fellow freethinkers as well it seems. I’ll have my blog up on this topic tomorrow.

    This isn’t the Atheist Rally, nor the Freethinking Rally, nor the Liberal Rally, nor the Secular Rally – it’s the REASON Rally. It seems that you are just another one of those people who just can’t actually distinguish between atheism and reason. What a shame. Now, you go blog the hell out of your disappointment with me till your heart’s content…

  70. janine says

    where do we go to fill out our atheist purity tests so that we can know if we are pure enough to go to the Reason Rally?

    Wow! I did not know that there was an atheist purity test!

    Wait a second, you are just asking questions, aren’t you? You do not like what was posted so you jump to suggesting that there is oppression in the offing.

    Yawn.

  71. says

    @67: AFAIK, Westboro Baptist was not invited anymore than they are to military funerals, and will not be given a slot on the platform. They just decided all on their own to grace us with their marvelous presence. (To anticipate one possible source of confusion: You’re aware that Nate Phelps is estranged from his family, and is an atheist, right? He now runs CFI Calgary.)

  72. Grumps says

    I have to say, that I am a little disappointed with you on this one PZ and with many of my fellow freethinkers as well it seems. I’ll have my blog up on this topic tomorrow.

    Your little disappointment is noted. You expected so much more from him and he little let you down. How little disappointing for you.. aw!

  73. Amphigorey says

    PZ boycotting the rally would only dilute the real voices of reason and leave the attendees in the hands of Bill Maher and his ilk. It would not be useful. We need more reason there, not less.

    I think Maher is gross and I wouldn’t want to hear him speak, but since he’s going to be there anyway, maybe people can take the opportunity to chip away at his idiocy with regards to women, alt-med, and vaccines.

  74. cag says

    Beatrice, perhaps my wording was incomplete. The discussion would not be between Westboro and the rational but within the community. Westboro would just be the topic.

    As the subset of beliefs being discussed will be rather small, it is entirely conceivable that I or anyone could agree on the presented points. /nitpick (I will endeavor to be clearer, but…)

    niftyatheist, again I probably could have been clearer. My point was not to embrace the woo but to expose it.

    Thanks both for giving me the opportunity to refine my language.

  75. says

    @90: Well thankewverymuch, Jim Klawon! There are opponents worth engaging, but the Phelps clan-cult is *not* among them. Though I’m sure Nate will appreciate Klawon’s attempt to organize a family reunion [/snark]. However, the way I read that, it’s not the organizers of the Reason Rally itself deliberately inviting the skunks to the picnic, and they won’t be on the platform.

  76. chrisdevries says

    I’m actually pretty pleased they got Bill Maher; yes he is in with the alt-med crowd, and we should certainly call him on that (I actually remember Hitch doing exactly that on his HBO show), but he is also one of America’s most prominent atheist entertainers, and he has made perhaps the best-known documentary on the ridiculous nature of religion (aptly titled Religulous). He’s earned his spot at the rally, and his presence will draw many people out who wouldn’t come out otherwise.

    PZ you should be thrilled to precede this guy at the Rally, if for no other reason than that he’s popular, and will therefore draw a massive crowd of people there to see him, people who aren’t in the “community”. Yes Pharyngula already gets millions of visitors, and of course, you don’t give a squid’s ass about trivial things like popularity, but you have to admit that this is a tremendous opportunity for you to increase your audience. Just make sure you spell out the word Pharyngula for them so they can find the blog (or just go with “freethoughtblogs dot com”).

  77. says

    I would lose some respect for any rationalist who shares a stage with senator nccam or Maher. Unless they use the opportunity to point out how folks like senator nccam acknowledge the importance of reason and evidence-based medicine because they try to wrap themselves in its mantle (under false pretenses)…

  78. chrisdevries says

    Hmm, it might’ve been Dawkins who called him out on the alt-med stuff, not Hitch.

  79. deathweaver516 says

    If Bill Maher is such a “screaming misogynist”, no evidence was given on why, then why is it that he has no problems with getting women on his show and/or in his audience unlike the skeptic movement?

  80. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    If Bill Maher is such a “screaming misogynist”, no evidence was given on why, then why is it that he has no problems with getting women on his show and/or in his audience unlike the skeptic movement?

    Yeah, and like, if bills requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds are really misogynist, then why are there women sponsoring them in more than one state? Huh? Huh? Bet you can’t answer THAT!

    ^^^^
    Sarcasm

    Misogyny is more complicated than that. Maher has demonstrated a willingness to use gendered slurs and epithets to insult female politicians for their femaleness, rather than being creative and accurate and insulting them on the basis of their stupidity and mean-spiritedness. Plus he’s been making excuses for Rush lately. He’s a typical privileged liberal white guy who likes using women’s rights as a cudgel to beat his political opponents over the head with when it’s convenient. I wouldn’t personally characterize him as a screaming misogynist, more of a careless, arrogant, and hypocritical one.

  81. says

    It sounds as if Harkin is on the edge of “beautiful notion slain by ugly facts” territory. If he has the intellectual courage he will admit that his preferred notions were just a dream. Once NIC has finished disproving alt. med. with great authority, funds can be restored to improving medicine.

    Harkin voting to table an amendment is doubly confusing because in Parliamentary rules, tabling a bill means putting it out to be decided next, whereas in American rules, tabling a bill means putting it on the back burner to be ignored.

    PZ, go, make your planned speech and just slip in a statement that alt. med. that is proven to be effective is just med. <3

  82. chrisdevries says

    I just read through the comments and while I am unsurprised at the type of reaction people are generally having to Harkin and Maher, I’d like to point out that in a diverse community we don’t have to agree with everyone who speaks, and we certainly don’t have to agree with everything everyone who speaks has said and/or stood for in the past. Having a politician, even an unreasonable one like Harkin, support our efforts is valuable in and of itself. And having a few people who are known to Americans outside of the community will bring more people INTO the community.

    If you started sorting through participants in the rally and only let those who have stuck with reasonable, rational positions 100% of the time, you would not have any speakers. Even Dawkins, the man most people associate with the gnu movement was an unreasonable ass for his Muslima comments last year during elevatorgate. Do we prevent him from participating? Sam Harris used to be a Buddhist and still supports some types of “numinous, spiritual” activities that aren’t fully evidence-based yet…do we ban him from all future skeptical events? Bill Maher is a celebrity. He believes in woo that tends to attract the Hollywood type. So don’t let him get away with it! Show him why he’s wrong.

    Dissent within our community makes us all more reasonable because, as people who understand the value of evidence, we can change our minds. True skeptics will eventually be moved by evidence, even if it is only to concede that their woo works because of the placebo effect. The placebo effect is real…alternative medicine that performs better than placebo is no longer alternative. People who aren’t convinced by evidence are guilty of wishful thinking, and who among us is free to cast stones being totally innocent of this crime? The value of skepticism is that it is a cure for wishful thinking. Reality always intercedes to show us why we’re wrong, and the true skeptic will change hir beliefs when confronted with reality, thus becoming an object lesson in skepticism.

  83. says

    If Bill Maher is such a “screaming misogynist”, no evidence was given on why, then why is it that he has no problems with getting women on his show and/or in his audience unlike the skeptic movement?

    Gee, let’s see…you are aware that people have their reasons for wanting publicity and exposure?

    Lots of women don’t realize they’re soaking in sexism, we all grow up swimming in it. Other women like things the way they are, from where they sit, there’s no problem. See, here’s the thing: women are all individual human beings. There’s no convenient hive-mind, ya know.

  84. julian says

    @chrisdevries

    A celebration of reason should be just that. If the names being put forward to speak on the greatness of reason and how it can shape lives are people who apply reason in questionable ways or not at all it is every bit as hollow as the Moral Right holding an All American Rally. It would cease to have any real content reflecting only a hollow shell with ribbons meant to make it seem more appealing than what it really is.

    If we’re serious about this, the speakers should all be thinkers who have established themselves as concerned about advancing the basics of reason and fostering an environment where reason is held in higher regard than wishful thinking. Even if that means turning away those who, like Bill Maher, claim to speak from an informed position but have a dodgy history at best.

    Or at least that’s how I think about it.

  85. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    cag,

    I feel like I’ve been a bit mean with my nitpicking.
    More to the point:
    Believing in alternative medicine is quite a big fail when it comes to skepticism. I don’t think it can just be brushed off as somebody’s silly quirk. It’s not just about having different opinions on something, it’s about a person who holds very unreasonable beliefs being given a platform at Reason Rally.

  86. says

    @chrisdevries

    I’d like to point out that in a diverse community we don’t have to agree with everyone who speaks

    PZ already addressed that kind of shit argument in the post:

    Was Deepak Chopra busy on 24 March? Did Oprah have a hair appointment? Maybe it’s not too late to sign up John Edward — he could channel Ingersoll and Russell and Sagan for us, although of course we’d have to be content with him guessing at their words one letter at a time. Aww, heck, let’s go all the way: the Phelps clan is going to be there picketing anyway, let’s give one of them a speaker’s slot

  87. Grumps says

    If you started sorting through participants in the rally and only let those who have stuck with reasonable, rational positions 100% of the time, you would not have any speakers.

    Not true.

  88. says

    chrisdevries:

    I’m actually pretty pleased they got Bill Maher; yes he is in with the alt-med crowd, and we should certainly call him on that (I actually remember Hitch doing exactly that on his HBO show), but he is also one of America’s most prominent atheist entertainers

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Excuse me while I facepalm and let it resonate one last time:

    This isn’t the ATHEIST rally – It’s the REASON rally.

    There is actually a not-very-subtle difference between ATHEISM and REASON – and they are not simply interchangeable. And an ATHEIST with those flaws that you willingly acknowledge, doesn’t belong at a REASON rally.

  89. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Ok, I’m lost.
    Since when does “diverse community” mean you have to let every quack who is famous enough speak at your gathering?
    As PZ said, why wasn’t Chopra invited. There will probably be some in the audience who would like to hear him, at least if the number of commentators here who want more different views is anything to go by.

  90. deathweaver516 says

    Misogyny is more complicated than that. Maher has demonstrated a willingness to use gendered slurs and epithets to insult female politicians for their femaleness, rather than being creative and accurate and insulting them on the basis of their stupidity and mean-spiritedness

    At least how I understand it, misogyny is usually attributed to generalizations that undermines women, not an insult targeting a few named women. Thinking back on everything I have seen from Bill Maher, he has never attacked female politicians for their femaleness, rather he uses pejoratives that are usually attributed to women. I don’t see the different between those insults and calling a man a “dick” or the many other male only insults. Unless you are going to call out all the times men are called these words you are being a bit hypocritical. Also, he is a comedian who uses a lot of stereotype driven comedy, give him a break. Do we really need a completely politically correct world?

  91. deathweaver516 says

    Sorry, about citing the whole message, only the first paragraph is a cite.

  92. julian says

    Also, he is a comedian who uses a lot of stereotype driven comedy, give him a break.

    No.

    He’s an unfunny jackass who spends his time taking cheap potshots at people he doesn’t like, demeans women he disagrees with by accusing them of being trannys and having dicks, insists he has the right to call any woman he pleases a cunt and runs behind I’m a comedian when people start to criticize his inability to use nuance or actually provide insight into issues he has no issues moralizing about for hours at a time.

    Fuck him.

  93. says

    but he is also one of America’s most prominent atheist entertainers

    Wrong. Maher backs away from an atheist label. He’s stated he’s a deist, another time he said he could be considered agnostic. He has consistently demonstrated an allergy to atheist, when it comes to himself.

  94. says

    I don’t see the different between those insults and calling a man a “dick” or the many other male only insults. Unless you are going to call out all the times men are called these words you are being a bit hypocritical.

    Hmm, are you by any chance another man concerned about men’s rights™? This is ground that has been covered many times. People who decry gendered insults decry them all – male, female, and all the variations of gender in between.

  95. llewelly says

    Thinking back on everything I have seen from Bill Maher, he has never attacked female politicians for their femaleness, rather he uses pejoratives that are usually attributed to women.

    Rain isn’t wet, it just gets water on things!

  96. says

    Wrong. Maher backs away from an atheist label. He’s stated he’s a deist, another time he said he could be considered agnostic. He has consistently demonstrated an allergy to atheist, when it comes to himself.

    Caine, I thought I had heard this from Maher, too, but I was reluctant to say so because I could not find a source to cite.

  97. Pinkamena, Panic Pony says

    At least how I understand it,

    Let me make this easy for you: YOU DON’T.

    And “dangeroustalk”, are you quite through promoting yourself and clucking your self-righteous tongue? Yes? Good, now get out, because nopony gives a fuck about you.

  98. upagainsttheropes says

    Is Penn Juliet on the bill yet? Or have they not got around to asking him yet?

  99. says

    Unless you are going to call out all the times men are called these words you are being a bit hypocritical.

    If you weren’t so busy being a Cupcake and had the slightest familiarity with The Horde™, you’d know we call out all gendered insults. There are even handy dandy examples in a current thread. You might want to sit on your hands for a bit, try to read and think more.

  100. mattand says

    @113 and 116:

    If you search for the interviews Maher did with Letterman and Stewart while promoting Religulous, he makes a huge stink about not being an atheist. Maher makes the claim that it’s merely the reverse side of the coin from organized religion.

    When asked about his views, he makes some vague comment about there being some “thing” beyond our recognition that is greater than us, but that organized religion is wrong. You know, a weakly reasoned deist view.

    Lately, he’s been referring to himself as an atheist. Not sure when that conversion happened; he may change his mind again when it becomes expedient to do so.

  101. says

    mattand:

    Lately, he’s been referring to himself as an atheist. Not sure when that conversion happened; he may change his mind again when it becomes expedient to do so.

    I wouldn’t trust it. He does whatever he thinks will work best for him and change tack at any time. When it comes to reason and skepticism, I don’t consider him the least bit credible.

  102. says

    Yeah, I’m less upset about Harkin than I am about Maher and Krauss.

    ditto. not that I’m actually going, but still.

    where do we go to fill out our atheist purity tests so that we can know if we are pure enough to go to the Reason Rally?

    it’s not an atheist rally, it’s a reason rally; being as blatantly anti-reason as Maher is should self-evidently speak against his appearance.

    no one is served by the ridiculous conflation of “reason” and “atheism”

    he is also one of America’s most prominent atheist entertainers, and he has made perhaps the best-known documentary on the ridiculous nature of religion (aptly titled Religulous). He’s earned his spot at the rally, and his presence will draw many people out who wouldn’t come out otherwise.

    this is not an Atheist Rally, it’s a Reason Rally

    and even if it were an atheist rally, the fact that Maher is a misogynist should exclude him, unless you think he’s more important than female atheists.

    <If Bill Maher is such a “screaming misogynist”, no evidence was given on why, then why is it that he has no problems with getting women on his show and/or in his audience unlike the skeptic movement?The same way that Rush Limbaugh can’t hate women because he judged a beauty pageant once.

    If you started sorting through participants in the rally and only let those who have stuck with reasonable, rational positions 100% of the time, you would not have any speakers.

    aside from the fact that no one is against including speakers who’ve made mistakes in the past and have fessed up to them, this statement is incorrect, anyway. just because the default, old-fashioned choices all have aspects to them that are eminently unreasonable doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of non-defaults to pick from who don’t suffer from that problem.

    Since when does “diverse community” mean you have to let every quack who is famous enough speak at your gathering?

    it’s a common confusion, actually. Probably comes from the “unfortunate” fact that there’s only one reality, so on issues that are scientifically as-close-to-settled-as-things-get-in-science, people will tend to pretty much hold identical positions and only quibble over details. when you compare that to the “diversity” of all the ways in which you can be wrong about reality, it makes reality-believing look very non-diverse.

    As a result of that, you have religious skeptics whining because the influx of atheism into the skeptical community is “hurting” religious “diversity”; or you have libertarians whining because the exclusion of AGW-denialists is harming “diversity”; or you have assorted skeptics and atheists whining because the insistence that politics and social issues aren’t a matter of opinion is limiting the “diversity” on sexism, racism, and a whole host of political issues; and so on.

    Unless you are going to call out all the times men are called these words you are being a bit hypocritical.

    well, ain’t it unfortunate for you that people here do in fact call out gendered insults like “dick”, too.

    anyway, Maher’s position on women’s rights is “I’m for it, because it’ll get me laid more”, which is liberal sexism and not at all realistically supportive of women.

    Also, he is a comedian who uses a lot of stereotype driven comedy, give him a break.

    why would I do that? “it’s just a joke, don’t you have a sense of humor” is not ever a valid argument.

    Do we really need a completely politically correct world?

    considering that, when not being used as a strawman, “politically correct” just means “not punching down the power gradient”, the answer is obviously “yes”.

  103. says

    oops, blockquote fail in the middle of my post

    If Bill Maher is such a “screaming misogynist”, no evidence was given on why, then why is it that he has no problems with getting women on his show and/or in his audience unlike the skeptic movement?

    The same way that Rush Limbaugh can’t hate women because he judged a beauty pageant once.

  104. chigau (√-1) says

    dangeroustalk

    I have to say, that I am a little disappointed with you on this one PZ and with many of my fellow freethinkers as well it seems.

    I, for one, can live with your disappointment.
    .

    I’ll have my blog up on this topic tomorrow.

    Who are you?

  105. says

    On alt-med: “nutrition” is often claimed as part of it and people are dismissing that idea above. But it’s also partly true that nutrition is alt-med. It’s one of their obfuscation techniques. Nobody will deny that it’s good to eat your fruit and veg and keep the deep-fried and sugary stuff to a minimum. But then… gluten-free for all, not just the coeliacs and gluten-intolerant? Casein and gluten-free to cure autism? Diet for your blood type? Mega doses of supplements? Raw food only? There are plenty of food woo options out there. You want to beware of “nutritionists”; in many countries that’s a totally unregulated title that a dead cat can get certified in. Some of them are OK, using it in their work as a popularly understood title instead of their proper professional title of dietician.

  106. chigau (√-1) says

    If they are there only by video, how will they feel the rotten tomatoes thrown at them?

  107. chrisdevries says

    Okay, I’ve changed my mind. Maybe Maher doesn’t belong at the rally. But, to borrow a bad argument for religion, just because he doesn’t belong there doesn’t mean his presence is all bad. His fans will come out and be exposed to the raging of the horde against all things unreasonable (hopefully some speakers will even take a few shots at Maher and Dawkins for their respective irrational positions on women and, in Maher’s case, alternative medicine). And some of those fans who may consider themselves reasonable, skeptical people, will be offended by something (or many things) stated by other speakers, offended enough to get into an argument online with other skeptics. And at least some of those people will change their minds, like I have on Maher.

    As for #106, maybe not all of the speakers have publicly expressed their belief in something that is not based on evidence; but who among us can say that, in their life, every belief they have ever held was consistent with reality? I don’t believe anyone who makes the claim that they have been 100% rational 100% of the time. Heck, a good proportion of people here were Christians at one time! True skeptics are skeptics precisely because they are willing to change their mind when confronted with compelling reasons to do so. I have reversed my position on Maher because several commenters have shown that (a) he is not someone who values evidence all that much and (b) that it’s a reason rally, not an atheism rally. If Maher comes onstage and says that he has changed his mind about alternative medicine, stating that he wanted to believe in it but the weight of evidence is not there yet, and if it were, the medicine wouldn’t be alternative anymore, well, he would be doing something all of us have done privately at one time or another. I still hold out hope that he may do something like this, and if he does, I’ll respect him for it.

  108. says

    As for #106, maybe not all of the speakers have publicly expressed their belief in something that is not based on evidence;

    this being a public event, that’s sort of the only relevant part. if I’m secretly superstitious, but neither my actions nor my words betray this fact, how can it have any real-world effect?

  109. says

    Heck, a good proportion of people here were Christians at one time!

    I’ve already pointed out that this is a strawman, since past non-rational beliefs that one has abandoned are not relevant and aren’t what people are trying to exclude, anyway. people are talking about current non-rational beliefs, and past instances of non-rational beliefs without any sign that the person in question has changed their mind on that topic.

  110. Rip Steakface says

    In very, very light defense of Maher, he hasn’t mentioned alt-med bullshit in a while. He might be beginning to see that it is in fact bullshit. Hasn’t calmed on the misogyny though.

    I’m able to tolerate his show when he’s mocking the right and occasionally saying sane things. As soon as he starts talking food woo, he’s gone.

  111. Julien Rousseau says

    Wow! I did not know that there was an atheist purity test!

    As others pointed out it is off topic as we are talking about the Reason Rally, not the Atheist Rally and your comment is on point but I thought I would create a comprehensive Atheist purity test for any future Atheist Rally:

    Question 1: How many gods do you believe in.

    Question 2: there is no question 2.

    Answer:
    If you answered 0 your atheist purity is 100%.
    If you answered 1 or more your atheist purity is 0%.
    If you answered anything else your atheist purity is NAN.

    ;-)

  112. deathweaver516 says

    Thinking back on everything I have seen from Bill Maher, he has never attacked female politicians for their femaleness, rather he uses pejoratives that are usually attributed to women.

    Rain isn’t wet, it just gets water on things!

    Maybe I am mistaken, but it seems to me that a statement like “Palin is a boob”, which was stated by Bill Maher on his show Real Time, is quite different from the statement “she is stupid because she is a women”, or something more horrendous like Rush’s birth control rant. I understand that it is quite unlikely for a man to be called a boob, thus making the term a strictly female pejorative, but none the less, it illustrates her character for the audience, rather then giving a portrayal of women, as the second statement clearly does.

  113. anuran says

    There’s alt-med and alt-med.

    Homeopathy, reflexology, healing touch, reiki, magnetotherapy and so on are demonstrably garbage.

    There are plenty of herbal medicines which have demonstrable, repeatable effects. Much of the pharmacopeia is plant-derived, and the pharma companies have spent a fair bit of money paying ethnobotanists to strip-mine the worlds medicinal heritage (cf. patenting the Neem tree). But for every foxglove that has had its digitalis identified there are many for which nobody has invested millions of dollars and untold man-hours to do that research. And there is a tendency to find one compound with therapeutic action and stop.

    At that point you get into word games about whether something is “alternative”, “needs more research”, “unproven” or something else.

  114. says

    I understand that it is quite unlikely for a man to be called a boob

    that’s not quite the point, as men are often the targets of misogynist slurs (“cunt” and “pussy”; and sometimes, simply “girl” or “woman”, since being called female is supposed to be an insult, which makes it a misogynist insult)

    I’m also not entirely sure how comparing her to a breast is saying anything about her character; i don’t know that “boob” has a solidified alt-meaning in the way “asshole” does

  115. DLC says

    That Maher is paid to be a firebrand does not excuse his misogyny.
    You can tell from watching that he knows he’s gone over the top with it, because of his “fuck you I’m a comedian” stance he adopts when confronted on it. Well, he is a comedian, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior toward women or his irrational support of Alt-med. It is some partial palliation that he is right on about 3/4 of the political issues.

    As for Harkin: I feel rather like the character Major Hochstetter from Hogan’s Heroes of 60s tv. I want very much to scream “Who is this man!?” Unfortunately, it seems that Mr Silverman of American Atheists (or whoever invited him) is playing the role of Sargent Schultz: “I see nothing! Nothing!”

  116. says

    There are plenty of herbal medicines which have demonstrable, repeatable effects. Much of the pharmacopeia is plant-derived

    all of which is science-based medicine; nothing alternative about it.

    But for every foxglove that has had its digitalis identified there are many for which nobody has invested millions of dollars and untold man-hours to do that research.

    which makes it and untested factor with unknown (if any) effects; that may be called alt-med, but only insofar as it hasn’t gone through the process by which all alt-med that actually works simply becomes regular medicine.

  117. says

    I have to admit, from the outside it does look a bit confusing to have so many obviously unreasonable people speak at a Reason Rally. And I must agree with jadehawk, there seems to be a general conflation of atheism and reason going on that is probably not very helpful. Is the problem that the organisers have no clear concept of what they want to achieve ?

  118. kemist says

    But for every foxglove that has had its digitalis identified there are many for which nobody has invested millions of dollars and untold man-hours to do that research. And there is a tendency to find one compound with therapeutic action and stop.

    The thing is, most of what alt med proposes has been quite extensively researched and found to be largely bunk.

    There exist numerous banks of natural compounds around the world coming from plants and microorganisms, and previous, pre-scientific use, ie what would give alt med a leg to stand on, is a very poor predictor as to whether or not any active substance will be found in a plant.

    It’s very annoying to always find people conflating systematic pharmaceutical prospection efforts with what alt med calls “herbal medicine”, very little of which has any therapeutic effect at all. Those which have therapeutic effect are either integrated to real medicine (ex.: aspirin) or way too dangerous for use by fake doctors (ex.: ephedrine).

    Not that I’m defending pharmas. Pharmas have been doing nothing creative for more than 15 years, content to live on existing patents and stupid me-too drugs that they sell at higher prices for dubious benefits.

    However, the greed and short-sightedness of pharmas doesn’t magically make alt med true, and I wish everybody would understand that alt med is also a very lucrative, and often cynical, business.

  119. chigau (√-1) says

    However, the greed and short-sightedness of pharmas doesn’t magically make alt med true, and I wish everybody would understand that alt med is also a very lucrative, and often cynical, business.

    QFT

  120. says

    Penn Gillette is there. By video.

    Bill Maher, by video.

    Tom Harkin, by video.

    Hey! A pattern emerges!

    Arg! I forgot about Penn Jillette too! There really seems to be a pattern!

  121. says

    Bill Maher might have the good sense to stick to criticizing religion, where he makes some good points: New Rule: No Slippery Slope.

    “New Rule: Gay marriage won’t lead to dog marriage. It is not a slippery slope to rampant interspecies coupling. When women got the right to vote, it didn’t lead to hamsters voting. No court has extended the Equal Protection Clause to salmon. And for the record, all marriages are same sex marriages. You get married, and every night it’s the same sex.” —Bill Maher

  122. atheistpowerlifter says

    Hi Everyone,

    I’ve never really posted here before, though I have been a ‘lurker’ for some time.

    I wish I could afford to attend the Reason Rally, but DC is pretty far from the maritimes. To be honest, I am surprised by the intensity of some of the posts in this thread, though I understand and appreciate many of the commenters passion for reason and science. I know this is not an atheism rally – but I just ‘came out’ as an atheist in the last couple years, and have rediscovered my love of science…it’s how I found my way to this page.

    Personally, I’d be fine with seeing Maher or Penn Jillette speak, who am I to determine who is or isn’t fit to speak at such a rally? I am no fanboy of Maher, but have watched his “Real Time” show over the past few years. I did notice with some discomfort his unreasoned stance on vaccinations and red meat – but these haven’t come up for some time (which I understand does not dismiss them). I do agree with some of what he says, and he does seem to be largely rational (though it is curious that he criticizes scientific theists for ‘turning off’ their rational brains when it comes to religion – when he does the exact same thing himself for vaccinations). Maybe this does disqualify him from speaking, or tarnish the rally. I don’t know…but I respect what others are saying about him being unfit. (As a Canadian I have no idea who the politician is so can’t comment).

    I hadn’t noticed his mysoginistic comments – which I am very ashamed to admit. Reading a lot of these posts (and other sites) have enlightened me. As a Sports Therapist I live in a mysoginistic world (both male and female sports…though of course it seems to be more prevalent in male sports). It is very common for an injured male athlete to be called a ‘pussy’ (not by myself or my staff of course). I never thought much of this…many of the health professionals I have worked with seem to agree that women are more “sensitive” than men, which paves the way for these slurs. In my experience when I respond to an injured female athlete, 90% of the time they will cry and react emotionally to the injury. (Is this being “sensitive”? The more I read the more I am questioning these labels). That being said, their pain tolerance (in general) is VERY high compared to males, and they recover faster. I am glad that there are physiological differences between the sexes, but my eyes have been opened to the base stupidity behind comments such as “pussy”. And this does not even touch on the blatant homophobia which still exists (is lessening, but slowly) on both male and female sports teams.

    Anyways, I apologize for the long post – and if it rambled off topic. Just a few thoughts I wanted to express. I appreciate many of the comments here…if only I had been challenged and forced to think this much 20 years ago during my studies.

    AP

  123. kemist says

    Alt med is even more lucrative because you don’t have to spend $20 million proving that something is safe and effective and you don’t have nearly the same level of quality control–if any.

    Total drug development costs run around 5 billion, for a really new drug (not something that is essentially a copy of an existing one with molecular baubbles attached to get around patenting laws – a me-too drug).

  124. cry4turtles says

    I will certainly be attending the rally in support of reason, but I’m also going to let my voice be heard as an athiest. I want my legislators to know I’m sick of their religious encroachment on my freedoms. I want future generations to be free of religious bullying. So I guess I’m attending the rally foremost as an athiest (I’m always an athiest) who champions reason, even though I may not always be reasonable.

  125. nickhuebner says

    #22

    Aw man, seriously? The fact that Mr. Lawrence “Abuses Science to Defend a Pedophile” Krauss is speaking was bad enough.

    Shit. I must have missed this part of the news cycle. I really respected and liked Dr. Krauss. I need a drink after reading that article.

    On a broader note, I have been tangling with how much I should let things like Dawkins’ Muslima comment, this comment by Krauss, or Hitchens’ support for the Iraq war influence my view of them. I mean, is every prominent atheist and/or reason-promoting person eventually going to say some stupid shit and then proceed to defend it? On one hand I’d like to throw these folks overboard for such idiotic views/statements, but on the other I recognize all of the positive and insightful things they’ve said, written, and done. Maybe the best solution is to really start confronting these people much more head-on about their biases, but I really don’t know.

  126. Cyranothe2nd says

    atheistpowerlifter @ 150,

    Welcome! I think it’s great that you’re beginning to rethink assumptions about gender and difference based on your reading. That’s a very reasonable position to take!

  127. says

    There is a certain kind of maniacal cunning in the types of people that have been invited to the Rally. Use the arguments that were made for a broader spectrum approach with the atheist billboards as an example. By bringing in an array of lecturers that are going to attract differing fan bases, the Rally organizers are hoping to expose the diverse crowd to the more seasoned and enlightened campaigners for reason. They know they aren’t going to lose the enthusiasm of the crowd at the first ever festival-scale event for secularism, atheism and rational thought just because they wheeled out someone who is, to steal from an earlier comment, three-quarters right.

    The same can be said for appearances by a Catholic politician and hate-addled and oppressively stupid simps from Westboro, KS (even if they are just stalking from the sidelines). People expecting fireworks and cheering for the religious side are going to be exposed to thinking quite unlike what they are used to, and probably for many, exposed to that thinking for the very first time and for a very long time.

    And that brings up my complaint about this event, which piques me far more than the appearance of any or the more flakey guests. This was the ideal time to gain the attention of people who may not even be remotely interested in the topic of the Rally, but were hoping to see some sort of confrontation. Having the ‘crazies’ listening in on the sidelines still means they are listening. The organizers missed a golden opportunity by not getting some sort of television coverage for the event. The videos will be available afterwards, but they will only end up talking to people who are watching the Rally as an affirmation, not a challenge to thinking.

    It would be a wrong assumption, however, to say that everyone in attendance will be a strident defendant of reason. There will be some there who may be from a religious sect or have ideas that are considered woo. This is a prime argument against someone like PZ using the event to step down as a protest. This is a time when people like PZ have to take it a step higher and be a source of inspiration to the fence-sitters and those uncritical of woo. Ask them why they aren’t thinking about these things, why they aren’t using reason and logic when we have been fortunate enough to have evolved those processes, allowing us to see through the deception of self-interested parties trying to part people from their money, freedoms or underpants.

    It’s not the warts and pimples of a few speakers that will undermine the Rally’s effectiveness but the lack of exposure. Still, warts and pimples and all, I will still appreciate the event even if it only changes the thinking of a half-dozen people to the better. It’s a few less people that will cause problems for everyone in the future.

  128. carlie says

    I’ve read Jen and Hemant’s responses to this, and I still don’t get inviting Maher. Sure, he’s a big name; he’s someone that everyone knows and hates, for the most part. How is that any type of outreach or recognition? “Hey guys, know how you think you hate atheists? Well, here’s a guy you know who’s an atheist! Who… you think is a big jerk and already hate!” Yeah, that’s really going to help our image.

    And again, the whole point isn’t atheism, but reason. So why invite someone whose only claim to fame is as an atheist, and is actively, loudly anti-reason? I just don’t understand.

    Harkin I understand; it’s opening a dialogue, it’s trying to get involved in politics, it’s a strategically good thing to do. But what do they get out of Maher? I can’t imagine anyone deciding to come just to see a video of Maher, a lot of atheists don’t like him, most skeptics don’t like him, and a majority of the general public thinks he’s a smarmy self-important asshole. So…???

  129. Matt Penfold says

    Well Harkin is not being invited as a proponent of reason, whereas Maher is. The problem is that Maher cannot, if one is being honest, be considered a proponent of reason.

  130. pedantik says

    Gee, now I’m second-guessing my willingness to attend the rally. As freethinkers, it goes with the territory that we’re not all going to be in lockstep on every issue. But we can still make our voices heard from the crowd if Harkin or Maher start spewing bullshit.

  131. says

    @161: Hey, I’m coming a long way for this thing, plane tickets are bought and all. I intend to enjoy myself, despite a few clunkers on the programme.

  132. Mostly Harmless says

    Can someone explain why Penn Jillette is singled out too? I understand people’s problem with Krauss and Maher.

    Is it his libertarian economic bias? Other than that he seems to be a very outspoken critic of woo on his P&T Bullshit show. He’s a great speaker, I just wish he didn’t include things like taxes on the show as it makes him look a bit silly…

    I’ll be heading to the Rally from Kentucky (here on a medical research elective but I’m usually based in the UK). Anyone else using the DC bus from Louisville?

  133. tomr says

    PZ, I agree with you and have been trying to convince some atheists on Facebook to look at the term “reason” more broadly. I believe a strong point should be made that a thinking person arrives at atheism through use of reason and that many atheists are so without consistently applying reason. The Reason Rally is not truly such — it is an Atheist Rally to try to make political points. IMHO, in the long run, watering down reason in the promotion of atheism will harm the movement.

    To see what I have been attempting to do in this regard, check this out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/staks/posts/315193261878390?notif_t=share_reply

  134. David Marjanović says

    Many Catholics don’t even understand the basics of papal infallibility which often make the arguments difficult to even start. (One woman I knew said the Pope was no better than anyone else and couldn’t make her stop being Catholic.)

    ~:-| Well, there haven’t been any ex cathedra statements in a long time, and it’s only in those that the Pope is supposed to be infallible.

    there really is no difference between obama and santorum.
    obama is prez and women are staring back at the dark ages anyway. santorum will change nothing.

    Santorum would change a lot of things.

    And you know that full well!

    I’m also not entirely sure how comparing her to a breast is saying anything about her character; i don’t know that “boob” has a solidified alt-meaning in the way “asshole” does

    Once upon a time, it simply meant “fool”. Like Czech blb, I suppose.

    I think the two meanings have become mixed up by people who heard the first meaning being applied but didn’t understand it anymore.

    And I must agree with jadehawk

    How could that possibly happen! :-D

    Is the problem that the organisers have no clear concept of what they want to achieve ?

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  135. says

    Once upon a time, it simply meant “fool”. Like Czech blb, I suppose.

    I think the two meanings have become mixed up by people who heard the first meaning being applied but didn’t understand it anymore

    I don’t think this is a valid defense. “Pussy” meaning coward is derived from “pusillanimous.” It is unrelated to the term for a vulva, but someone got the meanings conflated at some point. Does that mean it’s OK to call people pussies?

  136. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    Can someone explain why Penn Jillette is singled out too? I understand people’s problem with Krauss and Maher.

    Is it his libertarian economic bias?

    Worse. His libertarian bias has caused him to become a science denialist regarding global warming.

  137. Brownian says

    “Pussy” meaning coward is derived from “pusillanimous.”

    That sounds like bullshit. Any sources for this?

    Wikipedia sez,

    It has been informally suggested in folk etymology that it is a shortened form of the word “pusillanimous”, which comes from Latin words meaning “tiny spirit” and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “showing a lack of courage or determination” or cowardly. Though this meaning would seem to be consistent with the intention of the word “pussy” when used as an insult toward a man, it is a false cognate unrelated to the Germanic derivations of puss and pussy.”

    …but, no sources, either.

  138. says

    I would have guessed that “pussy” was either a feline reference (because house cats are perceived as soft, timid, weak and lazy — and BTW effeminate — creatures. At least, by ignorant folk who don’t know actually know any cats) or as a contraction of “pussy-whipped”, ie. a man who is dominated by his female partner. Either way, it’s not a good lookout for women.

    A positive (though ambiguously so) variant is “pussy-cat”, ie. someone who is kind and will give you anything you ask for.

  139. says

    Just found out cause of death for my friend who died December 23rd: Atherosclerosis. She smoked and mostly sat around playing video games and was diagnosed with depression, but she was a healthy weight, not diabetic and ate a vegetarian diet without a lot of trans fat. She was only 29. This shit isn’t supposed to happen. She quit smoking for my birthday a few years ago because she had no money to get me a real present and I was worried about her health, but she took it back up. Still, she didn’t have money, so only smoked about 2 cigs a day. She shouldn’t have died from something like that so soon. I’m not sure if I should be relieved or disappointed that it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

  140. Brownian says

    I hadn’t heard about this before, so let me say I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, Ace of Sevens.

  141. Rey Fox says

    If having a member of Congress would be so good for the cause, what about Rep. Pete Stark? He’s an atheist and everything.

  142. Amphigorey says

    McCthulhu, Pete Stark’s been a congressman for a long time, and he’s been out as an atheist for a number of years. It’s not something he emphasizes, but he hasn’t tried to hide it, either.

  143. Mostly Harmless says

    Worse. His libertarian bias has caused him to become a science denialist regarding global warming.

    Thanks for the heads-up Lil, that’s… disappointing.

  144. Mostly Harmless says

    Hmmm. A comment by Penn Jilette on his stance on environmentalism: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/03/opinion/oe-jillette3 and his original comment at TAM6 that kicked up the shitstorm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE0UkL4tjpg

    Am I missing something else? He seems hugely ill-informed on the subject, but at least he admits as much.

    I think I’ll always be kinda sympathetic to Jillette after his appearance on the Piers Morgan show (sure you’ve all seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSJV8mC8GYk). Piers Morgan is from England. Sorry about that.

  145. V says

    I agree with you that the Reason Rally should have higher standards than that. However, there are very few people, it seems, who are true, pro-reason skeptics in the Michael Shermer sense. I find that almost everyone believes in BS of one form or another. I’ve met anarchistic atheists, for instance, who believe that the free market can completely replace government. Another atheist I know argued that all exercise was bad for you, even low/no impact activities like walking and swimming. I wonder, is anyone really delusion free?

  146. fenne says

    I am honestly quite surprised at the reactions about Maher here. So much that I even registered :) I thought he’d be a well liked figure in a community like this. I live in Belgium and am not as exposed to him of course. I’ve been following his show for a year now, saw some stuff on Youtube. Haven’t really ever cought him saying something unreasonable.. Perhaps in the past, that’s possible. Could you guys give some links to those statements?
    He is a bit of a contrarian, so the stance on vaccines doesn’t surprise me thàt much, even though it’s a shame. I do think he is honest enough with himself to change his mind, if he is presented with adequate evidence. About the misogynie (especially screaming misogynie).. duno, seems more like the opposite for the time I’ve been following him. Again, perhaps statements from the past (linky:)? And please don’t tell me it’s because he says stuff like ‘Sarah Palin is a boob’. That would make me a misogynist as well.

    Only I’m not.

    Anyway, look at it as an opportunity to point out his errors in reasoning in a civilized way. Wouldn’t that be a great thing for a Reason Rally to have one of its speakers speak up and admit publicly ‘I was wrong and let reason win instead of being closeminded about it’. Just don’t self-righteously go ridiculing him right away as an idiot.

  147. John Morales says

    fenne:

    Anyway, look at it as an opportunity to point out his errors in reasoning in a civilized way. Wouldn’t that be a great thing for a Reason Rally to have one of its speakers speak up and admit publicly ‘I was wrong and let reason win instead of being closeminded about it’. Just don’t self-righteously go ridiculing him right away as an idiot.

    You’re being serious, here?

  148. says

    Fenne,

    Hey! A fellow Belgian! Hello there.
    About Bill Maher, I’ve never really seen much of his stuff, but his anti-vaccine attitude does mean (to me at least) that he doesn’t belong in a ‘Reason Rally’. It’s not just an atheist rally, after all, it’s about REASON, and if Maher chucks reason overboard on important issues like health, then he just doesn’t belong there. It’s that simple.
    About his misogyny, again I don’t know Maher’s stuff all that well, so I can’t really say much on that front. All I know is he uses gendered slurs regularly and he has made some extremely dumb generalizations about women from time to time.

    Anyway, look at it as an opportunity to point out his errors in reasoning in a civilized way. Wouldn’t that be a great thing for a Reason Rally to have one of its speakers speak up and admit publicly ‘I was wrong and let reason win instead of being closeminded about it’. Just don’t self-righteously go ridiculing him right away as an idiot.

    Yes, it would be great if someone like Maher admitted he was being an unreasonable ass. Don’t really see it happening, though. Also there is nothing ‘self-righteous’ about ridiculing stupidity. Ridicule is a very effective weapon in the fight against bullshit.

  149. fenne says

    What’s not serious about it? Shermer was a fundie Christian. Isn’t that important for skeptics and new atheists, being able to change your mind in the light of (new) evidence? But we should present it nicely and not forget that the other guy is only an idiot in this certain respect. He might not be a complete idiot. But if you someone feel like that, he won’t be very receptive to what you have to say. This is actually my main gripe with Maher (and with PZ as well), he preaches to the choir. His rants (like those of PZ) are funny, for us. I doubt they will sway many people ‘infected’ with a mind virus. You need to show some care at first, help them. We don’t deride people for catching flu do we. Of course, guys like Ken Ham that are willingly ignorant or stupid and try to spread the nonsense, that’s something else. Deride them, sure, but don’t expect to convert them. Focus attention on the people they are targeting. Give them tools to defend themselves from their crap. /wentofftopicabit.

  150. John Morales says

    fenne:

    This is actually my main gripe with Maher (and with PZ as well), he preaches to the choir. His rants (like those of PZ) are funny, for us.

    So, lemme get this straight; you’re one of the choir, but you’re calling PZ out.

    Right?

  151. Therrin says

    fenne (on Maher),

    He is a bit of a contrarian, so the stance on vaccines doesn’t surprise me thàt much, even though it’s a shame.

    It’s more than a shame. See, there are two sides to this issue, the right side and the wrong side.

    I do think he is honest enough with himself to change his mind, if he is presented with adequate evidence.

    If that were the case, he would have changed it by now. No one is hiding data from him.

    Anyway, look at it as an opportunity to point out his errors in reasoning in a civilized way.

    Why do you think this hasn’t already been done? I am sure he knows many talented scientists. That he chooses to ignore them to let his brain fall out of his “open” mind is not for lack of effort on the scientists’ part.

  152. fenne says

    @Morales: yes? You’re making it sound like it’s a bad thing? I don’t need convincing when I read PZ or hear Maher. I shake my head sadly at all the bullshit they rightly vent against. I’m just saying: be careful that you don’t alienate the people you really want to (or should) speak to. Or you’ll just end up with a load of fanboys.
    Same for pantatomid: yes, ridicule can be very effective in pointing out flaws etc. But use it with caution. You can séém self-righteous because of it. It can get contraproductive. Some well-known skeptic (a bald guy, forgot his name) made this point awhile ago. I even think PZ made a post disagreeing with him and holding on to his hardline ridiculing position. Could it be, could it be that even Reason incarnate PZ is being unreasonable and dogmatic in this? :) Just a headsup.

    I actually do see Maher admitting to being wrong. Or he would be a major hypocrite. He said once ‘I didn’t say I don’t believe in God’ in a discussion about religion (he was anti), but lately he refers to himself as atheist.
    Gendered slurs.. meh. I don’t see the problem or fuss. I use them for men and women. It’s just a habit, it doesn’t mean I feel like that about all women or men. There’s more important issues than being stuck-up about this imo.

  153. Therrin says

    I actually do see Maher admitting to being wrong. Or he would be a major hypocrite.

    Hm, I missed the part where he conceded that vaccinations are effective. Could you link it, please?

  154. Therrin says

    Could it be, could it be that even Reason incarnate PZ is being unreasonable and dogmatic in this? :)

    Huh, you’re right, no one has ever brought that up before.
    (Hopefully that’s an appropriate amount of sarcasm. :) )

    Of course, if you actually want change, you’re going to have to hurt someone’s feelings. Lucky for you that you’re not living in a country actively working to lower living standards for its citizens.

  155. fenne says

    @therrin: yes, he’s wrong, which is a shame. Like I said, I don’t have the history on him. It seems to be heavy:) Unfortunate. I’m curious to see if and how his position has changed by now.. It should if he wants to taken seriously as a defender of reason and common sense. That being said, on other things he has valid points and he is reasonable.

  156. fenne says

    I am, actually Therrin. Not like in the US due to religious rightwing nuts trying to influence the state. Here it’s socialist lefties that are ruining it for the rest of us :) Basic principle is the same: pushing convictions, ideologies on people that don’t believe in them. I don’t mean we should be horribly politically correct (i hate that) and make sure never to hurt anyone’s feelings by speaking the truth. Just don’t go overboard with the ridicule.

    I suspected I wouldn’t be the first to beat that horse (unreasonable PZ) (new here).

    I meant that I think Maher will at some time admit to being wrong.

  157. says

    Same for pantatomid: yes, ridicule can be very effective in pointing out flaws etc. But use it with caution. You can séém self-righteous because of it. It can get contraproductive.

    Yes, different people will respond differently to different tactics and for some people ridicule won’t work, which is why multiple approaches are needed. Given Maher is supposed to be a comedian, I would think he’s able to understand the language of ridicule.
    As for PZ being unreasonable: If he is, then show it. Please direct me to the blogpost or whatever in question. He might have been, don’t get me wrong, but I’m afraid I can’t comment on the instance you brought up if I don’t know what you’re talking about. (I hope you’re not talking about that Alain de Botton chap, because he really is an idiot, worthy of all the ridicule thrown at him)

  158. says

    I am, actually Therrin. Not like in the US due to religious rightwing nuts trying to influence the state. Here it’s socialist lefties that are ruining it for the rest of us :) Basic principle is the same: pushing convictions, ideologies on people that don’t believe in them.

    Oh fucking please. I won’t go into detail here, because I don’t wish to derail the thread, but if anything is ruining the political landscape in our country it’s right wing, nationalist bullshit like Bart De Wever’s nonsense.

  159. Matt Penfold says

    I meant that I think Maher will at some time admit to being wrong.

    Well has not yet done so, and the evidence that he is wrong about vaccines is as definitive as it comes. If he has not changed his mind after learning that Wakefield faked his data I simply cannot understand your optimism.

  160. fenne says

    Sigh. Not at all nerd of Redhead. That reaction says more about you than about me.
    @pantatomid: I haven’t seen a post by PZ in which he is unreasonable in his arguments. Except for perhaps his response to that bald guy I was referring to.
    Ah yes, now that I think about it, there was a post about a commercial. One that differed in men’s and women’s magazines. He ranted on that. Didn’t see the need for that. You can go too far in being sour as well. Which needlessly turns sensible people against you. If you can’t see that, you’re not reasonable and leaning towards self-righteousness and smugness. Accusing me of simpering when I say something like that, only proves my point, and is fairly ironic.

    (You’re not one of those NVA-bashers are you? And you’re defending reason?:) Politics in our country is completely fucked due to particracy, corruption, incompetence etc by the traditionals. NVA isn’t the ideal solution, sure, but it’s a valid alternative. Vlaams Belang wasn’t. I don’t care much for nationalism, neither do most of their electorate. We just care for a change is this country. Besides, their ‘nationalism’ is mostly a call for responsability, they are very pro-europe as well. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone with a brain that’s not been tainted by political correctness can say De Wever talks bullshit and ruins the political landscape. It’s actually a good thing that he ruins it, because it’s rotten and needs a big make-over. Or would you say the governing parties are the ones talking sense ? :) Like when ‘de begroting met glans de toets van Europa zou doorstaan’.’ They are lying to you with a smile and you’d go along with them out of fear for being a ‘dumb populist’. Or that’s what I see of lot of so called intelligent people do, perhaps you have other reasons. I know a lot of NVA voters, they are anything but dumb or populist or extremist or racist or whatever prejudice. Excuse the derail).

  161. fenne says

    And you’re right Matt.. he should have already come out against his earlier statements about vaccines etc. Strange.

  162. Matt Penfold says

    And you’re right Matt.. he should have already come out against his earlier statements about vaccines etc. Strange.

    Well he should never had made them in the first place. There was never any proper evidence to support his claims.

  163. fenne says

    Matt, true that as well:) Like I said, weird. The mind’s a strange thing. People can be perfectly sensible in many things and be ridiculous and stubborn about it in other respects. He came off as a general smart guy the past year I’ve been watching him. Not thát generally smart it seems now hehe. Shame.

  164. Matt Penfold says

    Matt, true that as well:) Like I said, weird. The mind’s a strange thing. People can be perfectly sensible in many things and be ridiculous and stubborn about it in other respects. He came off as a general smart guy the past year I’ve been watching him. Not thát generally smart it seems now hehe. Shame.

    Well the only thing he seems to show any reason over is religion. And that quite simply is not enough to qualify him as being pro-reason. Not when balanced against the harm the anti-vax movement has done. Kids are dead, and other left disabled for life, because of the likes of Maher.

    We should not be promoting atheism just for the sake it. There is no point in replacing believers with irrational views with atheist with irrational views. We end up with a society that is no better, and I presume wanting a better society is what this rally is about.

  165. fenne says

    Agreed that it’s not just about atheism, which is just ‘lack of belief in (a) God’. Doesn’t mean that person doesn’t hold any other equally silly beliefs. Which is why New Atheists is a bad term. It’s about concern over the huge spread and succes of nonsense. And ‘regular’ atheists may buy into that (cfr de botton and also Maher apparently).
    Nothing new in saying this probably.

  166. reggriffin says

    Isn’t it disgraceful that they’ve organised the first ever Reason Rally & it wont be perfect? Get over yourself & just maybe you’ll enjoy a day out with some like minded people who have NEVER had a chance to be at something like this because, there’s never been anything like this.

  167. says

    Accusing me of simpering when I say something like that, only proves my point, and is fairly ironic.

    Uhm… I didn’t accuse you of anything and I really was just asking a question (about directing me to a post where PZ was unreasonable). You mentioned something where he attacked a bald guy, some well known skeptic? Could you direct me to that, because that’s really what I was asking.

    You’re not one of those NVA-bashers are you? And you’re defending reason?

    Yes, I am defending reason. And while I’m not an NVA basher per se, I really dislike their idea of doing politics. Sorry, but I guess we really disagree on that topic.

  168. fenne says

    Maybe I should have clarified that a bit, it was Redhead that made that accusation. So that quote wasn’t directed at you, pentatomid.

    It’s Phil Plait. This is the talk I was referring to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmP9XozKEV0

    Well, the NVA thing, it’s a heated topic nowadays here ey. I don’t see what’s wrong with their idea or way of doing politics. Plain and simple, factual. It’s the traditionals that lose themselves in spinning, irresponsibility, ignoring what has been voted for etc. Sure, they still have to prove themselves. But the other ones hàve proven themselves, and not in a good way.

  169. scifi says

    I can’t believe that PZ and others here are ragging on Bill Maher. I’ve heard his comments about religion and they have been right on. At least, unlike PZ and others here, he doesn’t make stupid statements that Jesus doesn’t exist. Check out Bart Erhman comment on the “mysticists” declaration that Jesus was an invention by Christians and didn’t exidst. Erhman is right on that Jesus was not the son of God, but he is able to show that he did exist. Erhman is an expert in this field. Check it out. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html
    PZ should stick to what he knows, Biology.

  170. consciousness razor says

    At least, unlike PZ and others here, he doesn’t make stupid statements that Jesus doesn’t exist.

    That’s hilariously dumb.

    First, I’m fairly sure PZ would only claim there’s insufficient evidence, not definitively stating it as a known fact that Jesus never existed. If he has made such a claim (which you haven’t cited), then it would be unreasonable unless he has evidence to substantiate it.

    Second, do children suffer or die because their parents have been persuaded by arguments about the historicity of Jesus? Even if it is in some way unreasonable to doubt historicity claims, I’d have a hard time coming up with a worse example.

    BTW, if you’re the same scifi who recently claimed to be an “agnostic” who didn’t follow an organized religion (while at the same time peddling the cosmological and fine-tuning arguments), then I’m inexplicably having laughing fits right now.

  171. fenne says

    How do quotes work here anyway?
    Soit, @pentatomid: Not saying you should be a fan orso. I don’t run about waving the Vlaamse Leeuw vlag :) But I absolutely can’t see which other option then is deserving of fandom or even just a vote. Now that I think about it, there might be parallels to how this community approaches religion and other nonsense. NVA is to (traditional) politics what PZ is to religion. Just like it is not done to criticize religion (especially Islam) in many intellectual and/or politically correct circles, so it is with being anti-traditional politics. Apparently, you ‘don’t get it’ then, just like when daring to be critical about Islam. Mind you, just critical (like PZ), not bigoted, overly intolerant or racist. But people are so sensitive to this, so afraid to be put in an extremist corner that they condemn and shun àny criticism. This is the nonsensical quasi dogma that pervades our political landscape and discussions. Being critical about a minority (be it Muslims or the Francophones or whichever) gets you labelled as intolerant or ‘calimero’. I’m asking, how far can a minority push it and demand privileges at cost to the majority before it’s ok to say enough? Isn’t it the majority that gets its way in a democracy? I don’t want to discriminate minoroties, and they should be protected in certain cases. But I do want fairness across the board. Which is what I hear De Wever say usually. I don’t understand how that’s bullshit or not getting it.

    But, feel free to propose a different perspective :)

  172. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    How do quotes work here anyway?

    Use <blockquote> what you want quoted </blockquote> to get

    what you want quoted

    Note: How I was able to show <blockquote> without engaging the HTML is left as an exercise for the student.

  173. fenne says

    Note: How I was able to show blockquote without engaging the HTML is left as an exercise for the student.

    I give up :/

  174. scifi says

    Consciousness Razor,

    Sorry Bunky, but PZ did state that Jesus didn’t exist and a number of those on the board also agreed. And as far as you stating that there is no evidence, that is just plain wrong. There are similar reports of Jesus in different Gospels where the information was gotten from independent sources. Laughing your head off when you have done no real due diligence just makes you look foolish. On the other hand, I have thoroughly researched this. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about. QED!

  175. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Since the only evidence for Jesus’ existence is the gospels, written long after his supposed death, then the evidence is at best ambiguous. And don’t tell me about Josephus. There’s good reason to believe the passage in Antiquities of the Jews was a forgery put in by a Christian apologist manufacturing evidence of Jesus’ existence.

  176. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, scifi not understanding evidence. Typical. Evidence for jebus works best if it is contemporaneous and noted by many sources independently. In the case of jebus, all alleged evidence was put to parchment well after the fact, and usually appear to be citing/distorting previous mythologies. Very hard to make the case jebus existed, except as a mythology in someone’s mind.

  177. KG says

    But people are so sensitive to this, so afraid to be put in an extremist corner that they condemn and shun àny criticism. This is the nonsensical quasi dogma that pervades our political landscape and discussions. Being critical about a minority (be it Muslims or the Francophones or whichever) gets you labelled as intolerant or ‘calimero’. I’m asking, how far can a minority push it and demand privileges at cost to the majority before it’s ok to say enough? Isn’t it the majority that gets its way in a democracy? I don’t want to discriminate minoroties, and they should be protected in certain cases. But I do want fairness across the board. – fenne

    Shorter fenne:

    I’m not a racist but…

  178. scifi says

    Tis himself OM,

    You don’t have to go outside of the Gospels to find evidence that Jesus existed. Virtually every expert on the planet who has studied the historic Jesus in all the ancient languages is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure, just not quite the way the Christians view this existence. Unfortunately, there is simply no way to convince conspiracy theorists that the evidence for their position is too thin to be convincing and that the evidence for a traditional view is thoroughly persuasive. Anyone who chooses to believe something contrary to evidence that an overwhelming majority of people find overwhelmingly convincing, whether it involves the fact of the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, the assassination of presidents, or even a presidential place of birth, will simply not be convinced. Jesus existed, and those vocal persons who deny it do so not because they have considered the evidence with the dispassionate eye of the historian, but because they have some other agenda that this denial serves. Before you go off half cocked believing in the conspiracy theories try doing some real due diligence. A great place to start is with Bart D. Erhman’s new book, Did Jesus Exist?

  179. Don Quijote says

    scifi: Apparently Bart Erhman’s “real due diligence” has evaded him.
    Take a look at Richard Carrier’s take.

  180. says

    scifi:

    A great place to start is with Bart D. Erhman’s new book, Did Jesus Exist?

    Ehrman’s entire proposition is that, since there are at least three sources on which the gospels are based, and those three sources agree on certain events, those events most likely happened, and can be attributed to the same individual.

    This is specious at best. There are other scenarios — those three sources may be themselves fragmented accounts of a single source, for instance. This basically voids crucial parts of his argument. Or, the Jesus represented by those texts are an amalgam of several different individuals, conflated together by oral tradition.

    While many historians believe Jesus was actually existed and was an apocalyptic preacher of the time (among many apocalyptic preachers), there is really no solid historic evidence that a real Jesus existed. There’s no way to draw the conclusions Ehrman draws with any kind of high probability.

    We have Paul’s letters, which were written many years after the church formed. Then we have the four gospels, also written many years after the church formed. While you can assume the church formed based on some preacher (or group of preachers), it’s impossible to attribute any certain actions or philosophy to that preacher. All we have is documents of the oral tradition of the time.

  181. says

    In any case, the actual existence of Jesus is completely irrelevant, just as the actual existence of Elvis makes no difference to the Church of Elvis. The individual as represented by the church is so far different from the actual individual (who may or may not have existed) as to be a completely different person.

    It’s like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The person represented by the novel and upcoming movie is nothing like the real, historic Lincoln. It’s fictional representation of a real person. In the end, the character is effectively entirely fictional.

    So, in that sense, it makes no difference whether or not Jesus is based on a real person. The character is effectively fictional.

  182. scifi says

    Don Quijote:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/03/responding-to-richard-carriers-response-to-bart-ehrman.html

    I believe you will find that the above response by scholar James F. McGrath successfully counters Richard Carrier’s argument against Bart Erhman’s book, Did Jesus Exist, in which Erhman shows that Jesus did indeed exist and that 99.9% of Biblical historians also believe he existed. I found it interesting that James F. McGrath pretty much said what I did when he stated “It is disappointing to find folks like PZ Meyers, who works so hard to defend science from internet attackers, applauding a similar attack on mainstream history.
    McGrath concludes with “It remains the case, Carrier’s lengthy blog post notwithstanding, that the evidence available leads most naturally to the conclusion that a historical Jesus more likely existed than not. The attempt to manufacture controversy about this is one of the reasons why mythicists are rightly compared to creationists and other denialists.”

  183. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, no evidence jebus existed. End of story, end of argument as far as I am concerned. Come back with new physical evidence if you want me even to listen to your idiocy.

  184. scifi says

    Nerd of Redhead,
    Don’t you ever tire of playing the Village Idiot? I went back and checked and I see you have said the same stupid thing over and over again. It was stupid then and stupid now. You are right Jebus never existed, but I’m not talking about Jebus, but Jesus, nitwit. The only idiot here is you. You are a complete waste. Time to get a life and leave your fantasy world where you imagine you are right when you are completely off base. Read my lips, the historic Jesus existed and your believing he was some sort of myth is right up their with the belief that we never landed on the moon and that the Holocaust didn’t exist and that the IDers belief that God created the world in 5000 years. Time to fade of this board and do some due diligence which obviously you short of.

  185. says

    The attempt to manufacture controversy about this is one of the reasons why mythicists are rightly compared to creationists and other denialists.”

    The only thing ahistoricists are denying is that the case for the existence of a man named Jesus who founded a wacked-out religious movement has been made beyond a reasonable doubt. It hasn’t. There is plenty of room for doubt when all the historicists have is a blip on the radar of an ancient historian, a madman’s rantings about his imaginary friend, and the cottage industry of Jesus snuff porn that we call the Gospels.

  186. scifi says

    Aratina Cage,

    The mythicist are claiming that Jesus was a complete invention, that he never existed. That simply is not the case. Also, unlike the religious claim, he was not the son of God but a failed prophet who believed that the world then as they knew it was going to end and the rich and powerful were going to be put down and God was going to bring his Kingdom to earth where all the poor and powerless were going to be elevated into. It obviously did not happen.

  187. John Morales says

    scifi:

    The mythicist are claiming that Jesus was a complete invention, that he never existed.

    Rather than claiming that the claim that Jesus was an invention (that he never existed) shouldn’t be ruled out yet?

    (You’re quite sure?)

  188. consciousness razor says

    I know scifi finds this incredibly unreasonable (worse than Maher’s anti-vaxxer nonsense apparently), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the evidence I’m aware of doesn’t lead me to be 100% sure Jesus existed.

    Anything less than that is of course equivalent to Holocaust denial, as any reasonable person would tell you in no uncertain terms, an equivalence which of course in no way diminishes the hateful garbage Holocaust victims have had to endure.

    I’m not sure why scifi hasn’t presented the evidence he or she finds significant. Perhaps reasonable people only comment here to troll and make themselves look like idiots.

  189. says

    The mythicist are claiming that Jesus was a complete invention, that he never existed. That simply is not the case. –scifi

    No, the historicists are claiming that he absolutely wasn’t an invention (comparable to the supernatural Mao) and that he certainly did exist. The historicists are the ones characterized by bravado and bluffing.

    The ahistoricist perspective is that the historicist perception is ill-founded as of yet and should not be taken as the only reasonably possible conclusion. The historicist perception is still too far a jump for reasonable people to take. Historicism is rushing what should be a more nuanced, tepid, agnostic position. The facts in this case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because of what little we know.

    You must admit we know very little about whether or not this man existed! The only ones being unreasonable here are the people calling themselves “historicists” with a gumption that is unmatched by the extant evidence.

  190. scifi says

    Guys, Many fondly invoke Ockham’s Razor here. I feel this is an ideal spot to do so. Ockham’s Razor makes sense in that it is most likely that when there are independent similar accounts of Jesus that the likelihood of his existence is greater than his not existing. Bart Erhman is probably one of the top scholars on the subject. In his latest book, Did Jesus Exist, one of his evidence he shows is that we are not dealing with just one Gospel that reports what Jesus said and did from sometime near the end of the first century. We have a number of surviving Gospels, he named 7, that are either completely independent of one another or independent in a large number of their traditions. These all attest to the existence of Jesus. Moreover, these independent witnesses corroborate many of the same basic sets of data, for example, that Jesus not only lived but that he was a Jewish teacher who was crucified by the Romans at the instigation of Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. Even more important, these independent witnesses are based on a relatively large number of predecessors, Gospels that no longer survive but that almost certainly once existed. Some if these earlier written texts have been shown beyond reasonable doubt to date back at least to the 50s of the Common Era. They derive from locations around the Mediterranean and again are independent of one another. If historian prefer lots of witnesses that corroborate one another’s claims without showing evidence of collaboration, we have that in relative abundance in the written sources that attest to the existence of the historical Jesus. And we have outside sources such as Josephus and Tacitus. Oh, and Jesus was attested clearly by Paul, independently of the Gospels, and in many other sources as well: in the speeches in Acts, which contain material that predate Paul’s letters, and later in Hebrews, 1 and 2 peter, Jude, Revelations, Papias,Ignatius, and I Clement. These are ten witnesses that can be added to our seven independent Gospels, giving us a great variety of sources that broadly corroborate many of the reports about Jesus without evidence of collaboration. And this is not counting all of the oral traditions that were in circulation even before these surviving written written accounts. Moreover, the information about Jesus known to Paul appears to go back the early 30s of the Common Era, as arguably does some of the material in the book of Acts. The information about Jesus in these sources corroborates as well aspects of the Gospel traditions, some of which can also be dated back to the 30s, to Aramaic-speaking Palestine. Together all of these sources combine to make a powerful argument that Jesus was not simply invented but that he existed as a historical person in Palestine. Erhman goes on to say that there is yet more evidence. The evidence shown so far show that the likelihood that Jesus existed to be huge and Erhman is far from finished.

  191. says

    We have a number of surviving Gospels, he named 7, that are either completely independent of one another or independent in a large number of their traditions. These all attest to the existence of Jesus.

    Scifi, there have been two threads here on that topic and several at other FTB blogs, too. If you had bothered to look into it, you would see that this has been discussed to death on those threads. I am left to wonder if you deliberately avoided those threads because your ass had already been handed to you on them several times over before you could even get a word in.

    Together all of these sources combine to make a powerful argument that Jesus was not simply invented but that he existed as a historical person in Palestine.

    This is more of the same huffing and puffing that historicists always do. You sound like a delusional Bigfoot crank going on about the numerous mysterious droppings and footprints in the woods.

  192. scifi says

    Aratina Cage,
    It obviously was not settled in the previous threads. To compare this with the bigfoot delusion which was a video of a giant in a suit for a insurance commercial that never was used, is just plain dumb. It is pretty obvious that you have done no due diligence on this subject what so ever. You only wish to believe in a fantasy along with your idiot guru PZ Meyers who also doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the historic Jesus. Please don’t insult me with your lack of knowledge. I know a whole lot more on this subject than most do here.

  193. says

    @Scifi

    It obviously was not settled in the previous threads.

    Settled? I didn’t say it was settled; I said that your position was shown to be untenable in those threads.

    To compare this with the bigfoot delusion which was a video of a giant in a suit for a insurance commercial that never was used, is just plain dumb.

    When you are left wrangling over which dropping proves that Jesus was a real person by its composition, then, no, it isn’t plain dumb.

    It is pretty obvious that you have done no due diligence on this subject what so ever.

    Like I said, read the other threads that were about this topic. Comment about it there where, when people see it in the Recent Comments list, they can accurately guess what it is about and respond to you if they wish.

    You only wish to believe in a fantasy

    Exactly wrong. I am perplexed about how you historicists cannot understand that it is you who are believing in a fantasy. You are stretching the already unbelievable thin evidence thinner than it was ever capable of being.

    along with your idiot guru PZ Meyers…

    Myers. Not Meyers (not Fred Meyers). He is a guru of sorts, though, yes. But an idiot? How?

    …who also doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the historic Jesus.

    Again, I’m perplexed. You are the one claiming that droppings in the forest prove that Jesus was a real person.

    Please don’t insult me with your lack of knowledge. I know a whole lot more on this subject than most do here.

    Spoken like a true historicist.

  194. scifi says

    Aratina Cage,
    “Spoken like a true historicist.”

    Yep. And one who knows what he is talking about unlike the conspirator theorists, here.