A pox on all of their houses

I hate this article from the very first paragraph.

Public discussion of evolution often turns into a nasty debate between young-earth creationists on one side and atheists who believe science disproves the existence of God on the other. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s a dishonest setup. It’s a game: let’s pretend that scientists only criticize young earth creationists, and then we’ll set up a bunch of Christian absurdity as the moderate position! Scientists never think of attacking the positions of reasonable Christians, you know.

It’s a lie. We criticize the follies of soft and fuzzy Christianity and old earth creationism all the time, as well as that young earth creationist nonsense. And do you know why we so often have to jump on young earth creationism?

Because the ‘moderate’ Christian jackasses won’t do it.

The article is an excellent example of that: it describes a discussion and joint publication of a book via Biologos between a diverse group of Christians, including young earth creationist Baptists, the Intelligent Design creationist Bill Dembski, and the gang of mushy apologists from Biologos…and how is their interaction described? As “gracious dialogue”. Please. If you’re going to sit there with a bugnutting freaky cultist with a literalist interpretation of every word of the Bible, and not be strongly critical of their freakin’ idiocy because you both believe in Jesus, then yes, I’m going to lump you all together.

Yes, it has to be that way. I see no point in regarding intellectual cowards with greater respect than I do the total fruitloops they associate with.

And further, it is no saving grace that the Biologos crowd can believe in an old earth, when at the same time they are arguing for the existence of a literal Adam and Eve, for the logic of salvation from original sin, for the blood pseudo-sacrifice of a god-man as somehow freeing me from guilt about a disobedient distant ancestor. It’s all garbage, through and through.

We get a succession of bullshit claims that we’re supposed to regard respectfully.

Keathley also points out that for some Christians, evolution presents a problem because it implies that suffering and death have been with the world from the beginning, rather than resulting from rebellion against God.

Right. Reality is a problem for some Christians. So?

“I think everybody recognizes this is an important topic and it’s not going to do any good to simply yell at each other across the fence,” he said. “They need to hear from us on the nature of Scripture, the nature of the fall and of salvation. And we need to hear from them on the nature of modern science.”

The only thing that makes it important is that it is a set of delusions held by powerful and influential people. Otherwise, the “nature of scripture”, the “fall”, and “salvation” are simply incredible and absurd concepts given weight by repetition and dogma.

I don’t just despise the blatant stupidity of young earth creationism. I also despise the equally blatant stupidity of Christian dogma and ‘sophisticated theology’.

“atheist chicks are easy”

Despite all the battling over sexism within the atheist community (which has the goal of making us better), it’s worse outside that group. Case in point: the Midwest Freethought Conference is getting some pushback in Omaha, where a right-wing talk radio host, Scott Voorhees, is frolicking in the slime. But then, he’s working in the milieu that made the term “feminazi” popular, one of the best indicators that you’re dealing with a cretinous thug.

In response to being informed by show guest Luke Hoffman of the UNO Secular Student Alliance that the UNO CRU Christian group had cooperated with the secular student group to put on a debate last semester, Voorhees declared: “You know why the Christian kids helped you out in your debate? Because atheist chicks are easy. And a lot of them are Goth and hot.”

The remark was recorded; you can hear it yourself at about the 14 minute mark. This is genuinely repulsive, but about what I expect of an obnoxious evangelical Christian. They do such a good job of smearing their own name.

Luke Hoffman has sent out a few letters of complaint. The first is to the program director at the radio station.

Gary Sadlemyer
Program Director
KFAB Radio 1110
garysadlemyer@clearchannel.com

July 18, 2012

Dear Mr. Sadlemyer,

My name is Luke Hoffman. I am the immediate past president of the
University of Nebraska at Omaha Secular Student Alliance. During a
radio interview July 10 with your talk show host Scott Voorhees,
Voorhees made a comment that I challenged on the spot and wish to
follow up on now. In reaction to the fact that a Christian club on
campus had networked with the UNO Secular Student Alliance to put on a
civil debate, Voorhees went so far as to say, “You know why the
Christian kids helped you out in your debate? Because atheist chicks
are easy. And a lot of them are Goth and hot.” (You can listen to this
remark at http://bit.ly/NmcGaG starting at the 14:16 mark.)

In addition to this being another example of what has been termed the
“war on women,” it also impugns the motives of the Christian group,
suggesting that their cooperation was insincere. I called this sexist
remark disgusting at the time (after which I was immediately
disconnected) and, in response to numerous calls for further response,
wish to readdress the matter now.

The reason that Voorhees was discussing this matter in the first place
was because of the forthcoming Midwest Freethought Conference and the
Omaha Coalition of Reason billboard on 72nd and Pacific here in the
city. This is the fourth Midwest Freethought Conference and, as such,
it contributes to Omaha’s economic development.

But instead of discussing this unique community event, Voorhees chose
to be dismissive while dehumanizing atheist women. Moreover, when
listeners called in to express their legitimate outrage at his
comments, he ridiculed them for lacking a sense of humor. But isn’t
that the usual cover for bigoted remarks against minority groups? How
many times have people tried to excuse racism, anti-Semitism, and
sexism under the cover of humor? Radio announcer Don Imus tried this
in 2007 with his “joke” about the Rutgers University women’s
basketball team and was fired as a result.

In the popular atheist blog “The Friendly Atheist,” Hemant Mehta
describes the interaction as “frustrating all around, and that was
even before he made his most inflammatory comment.” Voorhees’
misplaced hostility toward people with differing views was, I think,
demonstrated by his offensive remarks as well as his apparent
unwillingness to really listen to his guests on that occasion.

The membership of the UNO SSA and I, therefore, request that KFAB
repudiate Voorhees’ remarks against atheist women and that he
personally apologize.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Hoffman
Immediate Past President
UNO Secular Student Alliance

The second is to the president of the university.

President James B. Milliken
University of Nebraska
(402) 472-8636
president@nebraska.edu

July 18, 2012

Dear President Milliken,

As has already been brought to your attention by others, during a
radio interview of me on July 10 on KFAB Radio 1110 by talk-show host
Scott Voorhees, Voorhees made a comment that I challenged on the spot.
It was in reaction to the fact that the University of Nebraska at
Omaha CRU Christian group had networked with my group, the UNO Secular
Student Alliance, last semester to put on a highly-regarded debate.
Voorhees declared, “You know why the Christian kids helped you out in
your debate? Because atheist chicks are easy. And a lot of them are
Goth and hot.” (You can listen to this remark at http://bit.ly/NmcGaG
starting at the 14:16 mark.)

In addition to this being another example of the right-wing war on
women, it also impugns the motives of the campus Christian group,
suggesting that their cooperation was insincere. I called this sexist
remark disgusting at the time (after which I was immediately
disconnected). Now, in response to numerous requests for further
action, I wish to readdress the matter.

Reasonable people might have expected the UNO administration to act
swiftly and decisively in criticizing this remark against legitimate
UNO campus groups—especially after I brought it to the
administration’s attention last week. And not merely because the
remark attacked UNO students, both Atheist and Christian, but because
that broadcast also challenged UNO’s institutional reputation. After
all, Director of University Relations Tim Kaldahl appeared on the same
show and had to put up with attacks against UNO for hosting the fourth
annual Midwest Freethought Conference. Voorhees openly questioned
whether the university was still worthy of public support. And KFAB
pays UNO for rights to use the “N” logo and to broadcast Nebraska
football. The station calls itself “the Home of the Huskers,” which is
the UNO team. (For reference, KFAB is listed on the University website
as the Omaha affiliate for Nebraska football at:
http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=52 and,
on the KFAB website, the “N” logo is displayed on the homepage and at:
http://www.kfab.com/pages/Huskers.html .)

In an effort to resolve this internally, I talked with Tim Kaldahl,
spoke with Charlene Russel in the campus Equal Access and Diversity
office, communicated with Nancy in the Chancellors office, and sent an
email directly to the chancellor. I have also discussed the matter
with other student leaders on campus.

Adam Maley, immediate past president of the UNO Veterans Student
Organization, said: “This radio personality challenges a socially
unpopular category of people and, rather than discuss the issues, uses
prejudicial and disgusting stereotypes to distract.”

UNO Council for Humanist Thought President John Powers said: “Scott
Voorhees…clearly does not understand the issues of the growing local
secular community and the struggles of living an atheist or agnostic
life.”

Haili Copas-Starke, immediate past director for the Women’s Resource
Center, another student-run organization at UNO, showed her support
for the UNO SSA by saying, “Religion is a good background to formulate
your morals but it’s not the only method, and society allows for you
to do that without the guidance of religion.”

The UNO SSA provides valuable support for nontheistic UNO students, as
Nicole Miller, the current UNO SSA president, noted when she said:
“The Secular Student Alliance has helped me grow on a personal level,
where I’ve made lifelong friends, have become more open to talk about
the issues. Especially family problems with coming out as atheist. I
feel like I’m making a difference in my community.”

In the wake of this reaction, I must ask why the UNO administration
has so far declined comment on an affiliated radio station’s slur that
is prejudicial to UNO students and the university itself—and this in
the face of a reaction across the Internet. (Just Google the phrase
“atheist chicks are easy” and see the online response, which is now in
the thousands of hits when, at the time of the broadcast last week, it
only garnered two.)

As an atheist, my moral compass compels me to stand up to Voorhees’
dehumanizing remark. Is it too much to ask UNO’s administration to
reconsider this opportunity to do the same? Radio KFAB and Scott
Voorhees need to hear, in no uncertain terms, that UNO finds the
remark in question unacceptable. And UNO needs to demand a retraction
and an apology.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Hoffman
Immediate Past President
UNO Secular Student Alliance

Oh, this is going to be such a fun meeting!

Selective pressure for lockpicking skills?

This is bizarre and obscene.

A man in India kept his wife’s genitals under lock and key. He drilled holes on each side of her labia majora. Before leaving the house, the man used to put a small lock in the holes. He kept the keys inside his socks.

I don’t even…

Do you think he reciprocated by getting a Prince Albert and letting her put a padlock on him every morning? It would seem only fair.

Watch out for the GMWs: Genetically Modified Women

I’ve been hoping that someone would come out and explain how this claim that women are becoming smarter than men was accomplished. I need to know the scenario and the mechanism, so I’ve developed a few of my own that I hope to see appearing soon in the Daily Mail.

  • Late at night, when no one was looking, UFOs have been abducting our women and enslaving them in the Love Factories on Mars (because as we all know, Mars Needs Women). So that we don’t catch on, they’ve been replacing them with femdroids with cybernetic brains that are very good at cheating on tests.

  • Beginning in about 1980, all female infants were selectively injected with a Communist mind control virus that turned them into soulless, freedom-hating machines who were good at gymnastics and engineering. When the time is ripe, their programming will be activated and they will rise up to overthrow Western running dog democracies.

  • The government has top secret labs where clone babies with enhanced genetically engineered intelligence are being raised. Only females are used in this project for technical cloning reasons. They’ve been swapping out normal babies in maternity wards and replacing them with these Humanity 2.0 versions for years.

  • Big Pharma has been testing brain-enhancing drugs by hiding them in birth control pills. The recent results are the consequence of clandestine human trials. Little known, related fact: they’re also doping Viagra with a stupidity drug.

  • A select team of exceptionally intelligent pick-up artists have been using their talents to inseminate a majority of women around the world, cuckolding all the dumber men, and increasing the frequency of their super-smart alleles in the population to a remarkable degree. They also all fortuitously carry a Y-dominant allele that causes defective Y-bearing sperm, so all of their children are female. Which increases the frequency of babes, schwing!

Unfortunately, there’s one little problem with those scenarios: they’re all ridiculous, requiring large-scale changes in the genetic composition of a world-wide population numbering in the billions within a few generations, and that all of the positive changes would be selective for one sex. You simply can’t argue in any coherent way that women are becoming smarter than men or that women are the smarter sex. You can reasonably say that the evidence shows that women have higher IQ scores than men now.

Because, as I’ve been saying for a long time, there’s a difference between IQ scores and the actual potential for knowledge, learning, and that general poorly defined thing we call ‘intelligence’.

What this current study by James Flynn of worldwide intelligence test scores actually shows is that a) whatever intelligence tests measure is plastic, b) the variation in those scores is not a measure of biological limitations (although I’d argue that our intelligence is a biologically human property), and c) shifting cultural environments can induce relatively rapid changes in the responses of developing human minds.

Women aren’t getting smarter. They have the same biological properties in this generation that they had in the previous generation, and the generation before that. What’s changing is a culture that allows women to slip free of sociological limitations at a young age and encourages them to practice using those brains. Their grandmothers were just as smart, but were molded in ways that limited expression of their intelligence. I also suspect that there are factors emerging which are imposing limits on male behavior and experiences — there are some troubling signs that some social expectations are imposing a new kind of stereotype threat on men.

Of course, there is some anecdotal counter-evidence. I have a daughter who went from being totally reliant on Mommy and Daddy to being an independent young woman, almost overnight. The alien pod-person/cybernetic brain implant/radical brain-enhancement doping theories do have some attractiveness.

Tennessee’s embarrassing tea party

Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, recently appointed a well-qualified resident of the state to be the new international director of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Her name is Samar Ali. And you can guess where this is going.

The state tea-partiers and Republicans are hysterical. SHE’S A MOOOSLIIIIM!

They bought ads in the newspaper decrying the hiring of Ali because she’s Muslim. Various county leaders are outraged and are passing resolutions condemning Haslam because he hired a Muslim. Oh, and as long as the bigots are emboldened, they’re also tossing in complaints about the fact that Haslam hasn’t fired enough homosexuals.

You know, this is why government is supposed to be secular. As long as the people doing the work of administration keep their religion out of their work, as long as they are responsible to everyone in their state, as long as they are competent, I don’t care whether they’re Christian or Muslim or atheist. Unfortunately, our privileged, selfish Christian conservatives have this mistaken notion that the purpose of government is to act as an arm of the Christian church, and that evangelical fervor is an adequate substitute for competence, and that is doing us great harm.

I don’t want to deal with this any more

It’s too stupid. It turns out TAM had an anti-harassment policy after all (good for them), except that it was secret and implemented by hidden cameras and disguised security goons who would turn their entire focus on victims of harassment, rather than harassers.

I don’t understand at all.

All I can guess at is that this policy was kept secret so it wouldn’t discourage any creepy guys from attending. Their money is just as good as any woman’s, after all! TAM wants to be open to everyone, including gropers and PUAs and drunk fumblers, and doesn’t want to send any messages that might inhibit them. And I think it’s perfectly fair that there be a skeptics’ convention that caters specifically to frustrated, privileged men — I just didn’t think that TAM, with its history of inclusivity, was going to elect to be that conference.

The tragedy of Aquaman

It’s true: Aquaman has huge physiological problems. The temperature, the osmotic gradient, the pressure would all kill him, he’d never be able to maintain the caloric intake needed for his super-swimming ability, and the psychic screams from all those fish would drive him mad. But Southern Fried Scientist missed one, and this is the one that always ruined my childhood fantasies of growing up to be Aquaman: oxygen. The dissolved oxygen in seawater is much lower in concentration than in the atmosphere, so all that activity has to be carried out by an oxygen-starved brain and musculature. If Aquaman had gills, they were tiny and discrete, hardly adequate for the job; if he was using the respiratory surface of his lungs to extract oxygen, well, tidal breathing is incredibly inefficient, and using the delicate membranes of the alveoli to generate negative pressure in a dense medium like water, they were going to be shredded. Aquaman dies, twisted by osmotic shock, brain numbed by oxygen starvation, with a cloud of blood gushing out of his mouth.

I really did used to like Aquaman, and he was one of my favorite superheroes, just because I loved the idea of being able to dive off a dock and swim forever. But when I started thinking about it, on every page my brain would be shrieking, “HOW ARE YOU RESPIRING, AQUAMAN?” and I’d be distracted.

Lesson learned: less thinking.