Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to meeeeeee!

For some reason, those lyrics came to mind as I listened to this video, only, unfortunately, it’s not Freddy Mercury reaching for those notes — it’s Brian Dalton, and no, I’m sorry, you don’t have anywhere near the range.

Let us all consider what is wrong with this rather patronizing monologue.

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Looks like CFI got itself a winner

Robyn Blumner is busily defending Richard Dawkins now.

I think Richard Dawkins is purposefully misunderstood at times as a way to generate clicks on some bloggers’ page. It’s because his name brings page views and eyes so why not generate a lot of heat around something that is pretty tame if you really unpack it.

What is this? 2005? “Blogging for the clicks” is so last decade ago, and it was wrong even then.

Controversy doesn’t bring in long-term viewers. Consistency and frequent content builds an audience. Getting links from other big-time bloggers gets you traffic. This is remedial blogging 101.

What happens is that sometimes someone says something stupid, and when people notice and comment on it, they want to claim that there is some ulterior motive for their personal embarrassment, so they blame the blogger.

What Blumner is saying is simply a classic silencing tactic. You’re a bad person writing for money if you call attention to this other person’s bad behavior! So stop mentioning it!

And in my case, I dragged my heels for a long time, as regular readers can attest, trying and hoping that these outbursts on twitter and in blog comments were not representative of his views. I guess I should have cashed in on all those controversial clicks years ago!

I’ll also point out that criticizing the Heroic Leaders of the Atheist Revolution does not win you accolades and praise and money and appointments to leadership positions at major organizations. It gets you hate mail and stress and non-stop vilification and web sites dedicated to nothing but hating you. Blumner might want to think things through a little more if she thinks misinterpreting the biggest name in atheism is a fast-track path to success in the atheist community. It is a small tribal group that does not do introspection at all well.

What is a prayer?

I’ve heard a number of explanations: it’s a private conversation with the supernatural emperor of the universe, or possibly a moment of communion with all-that-is, or even just a quiet personal centering of the self. These are all lies. As we all know, prayer is actually an opportunity to posture publicly, promoting one’s own piety.

We have another example to illustrate the accuracy of my definition. Phoenix had a request from the Satanists to be allowed to give an opening prayer at council meetings, and the council struggled with their decision — whether to allow a Satanic prayer, which would cause a huge outcry from fanatical Christians; to prohibit certain faiths from participation, which would clearly violate the separation of church and state and lead to lawsuits; or to simply stop the prayer nonsense altogether, and instead have a moment of silence, in which individuals could freely have a private conversation with god, commune with all-that-is, center their self, or whatever.

Phoenix wisely went with the moment of silence idea. Seems smart to me; as an atheist, I wouldn’t object, and believers are still allowed to chat with god, commune, center, etc., if that’s what prayer is all about.

The majority of the council seem sensible and are willing. But others are willingly validating my theory that prayer is about loudly and publicly pronouncing the depth of their faith, and are melting down at the idea that they can’t get any more brownie points with the gods by babbling at others.

The objections have been emotional, loud and generally ignorant. Christians are pushing for their right to pray, but they don’t seem to understand the fact they can’t allow their prayers while banning others. The Phoenix council had an option of either allowing the alternate prayers, or banning them while facing a First Amendment-based lawsuit that is practically a guaranteed loss for them. They chose a third option of banning all prayer (the best option) completely. Now they are being threatened with even more lawsuits from Christians that want to insert religion into government – as long as it’s only Christian religion.

You can’t win with these people.

Bad arguments are bad arguments

Amidst all the chaos of the self-proclaimed atheist leaders exposing their flaws, it’s easy to forget that they’re right about atheism. There is no god. The arguments for god are pathetic and silly. Many religious beliefs are self-destructive and poisonous. I’ve been seeing a few articles lately that are basically gloating that atheism is dead or dying because Richard Dawkins said something stupid about women’s equality…but they ignore the fact that he also said many smart things about god-belief, and the regressive nature of one guy’s antipathy towards feminism does not discredit atheism, or provide any comfort to religious advocates. It’s also particularly ironic when Catholics wag a finger at a few atheists who are blinded by privilege, while studiously ignoring that one of the biggest threats to women’s rights in the western world has been Catholic doctrine.

But as far as arguments for religions go, Dawkins doesn’t matter, and neither do the criminal activities of the Catholic church. What matters on the topic of god-belief are the qualities of the arguments. and really, they are appallingly bad. I’m not talking about just the goofy crap that comes out of lackluster minds like that of a Hovind or a Comfort, but the Big Guns of religion, like Aquinas. They are impossible to take seriously, unless one is doped to the gills with bad theology.

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Maher and Chachoua get taken apart

Last Friday, Maher hosted cancer quack and HIV fraud Samir Chachoua on his show for an embarrassingly credulous segment, in which he claimed to have cured Charlie Sheen’s HIV with goat’s milk. This weekend, Virginia Hughes quickly put up a good takedown, and now this morning, as I expected, Science-Based Medicine eviscerates Chachoua and Maher at length.

If there’s one person who is living proof that being an atheist has nothing to do with being a skeptic, it’s Bill Maher. Touting himself as being supremely rational in comparison to those “God botherers” and Republicans, Maher has himself embraced antivaccine pseudoscience, other cancer quackery, and general pseudoskepticism about “Western medicine.” Nor is this the first time he’s embraced HIV quackery, either. Indeed, I’ve been pointing out for more than a decade now just how much pseudoscience Maher embraces. Unfortunately, in some circles, that doesn’t seem to matter. For example, in 2009 Atheist Alliance International awarded Maher the Richard Dawkins Award, which was likened to Jenny McCarthy receiving a public health award.

So I suppose it’s not that surprising that Maher went full quack. I just never expected him to embrace so quacky a quack so credulously. My bad.

This is not the first time, it won’t be the last, and sadly, it will not harm his career as a self-proclaimed skeptic one little bit.

I can’t take no more

I finally unfollowed and blocked Richard Dawkins on Twitter. He retweeted this, and that was just the final straw.

It’s two photos, one of Matt Taylor and his inappropriate shirt (and I suspect Taylor would rather his pals would stop showing it), and the other is of a Muslim woman being executed by a roadside, which is why I’m not posting it directly here, and why you may not want to follow the link. It has a caption: One of these two pictures upsets Feminists. The other one shows the execution of a woman.

It’s a lie. It’s a patently dishonest misrepresentation of feminist views, and it uses the murder of a woman to make a phony criticism of feminists. I can’t imagine how someone could be so insensitive to the crudity of the message and so oblivious to its rank deceit to consider it a worthwhile contribution to any discussion. He’s taken “Dear Muslima” and amplified it with a graphic image and an even more odious comment. And he’s still completely unaware of what’s wrong with it.

Done. No more.

At least it settles one thing: I won’t be attending the Reason Rally. Any movement with that man as its figurehead does not represent me.

Crap. Maher.

How much more atheist disillusionment can you take? At least in this case, the fall isn’t quite as far. Bill Maher used his show to promote HIV quackery. The man thinks you’re dumb to get vaccinated, but drinking the milk of arthritic goats…now that’s brilliant, and will cure you of everything.

Maher hosted—and seemed to take seriously—Dr. Samir Chachoua, who famously injected himself with Charlie Sheen’s blood while treating the HIV-positive actor in Mexico, as revealed on an episode of Dr. Oz that ran earlier this month. Chachoua is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., a fact glossed over by Maher, who repeatedly gave the “doctor” the benefit of the doubt as a beacon of hope in the fight against AIDS. Maher furthermore denigrated the usefulness of the antiretroviral drugs that are proven life-savers to promote Chachoua’s supposed miracle cure.

Chachoua claims his cure comes from the CAEV virus, which he says is present in the milk of arthritic goats. “This virus destroys HIV and protects people who drink it for life,” he claimed to Bill Maher. While he didn’t get into the exact science, what he’s offering is a cure not a therapy, which means that after Chachoua’s services, Sheen should be HIV free. Sheen is not HIV negative, which means that Bill Maher should not be taking this quack seriously, much less giving him ten minutes of airtime to spout his nonsense, which is full of evident contradictions. Chachoua, for example, claimed to Dr. Oz that Sheen was “the first adult in history to go HIV negative.”

If that isn’t enough for you, Chachoua claims the regeneration of new heart tissue, new cardiac valves, brain tissue in Alzheimer’s; the clinical improvement and new growth of healthy tissue in systems thought aged, damaged and unsalvageable, placed this therapy in an unparalleled bracket. Reversal of emphysema, cardiac disease, MS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, AIDS, ALS, diabetes, asthma, organ failure, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, gulf war syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory and degenerative diseases (with impact even on genetic diseases).

He injected himself with Charlie Sheen’s blood. Now there’s a valid scientific procedure for you, or at least Maher thinks so.

Feminism isn’t a side issue, it is a central issue in any movement with a pretense to rationalism

Richard Dawkins has issued a formal statement via CFI on his disinvitation from NECSS. It is civil, polite, and rational, and concludes this way:

The science and scepticism community is too small and too important to let disagreements divide us and divert us from our mission of promoting a more critical and scientifically literate world.

It misses the point.

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Iceland, you have disappointed Ken Ham

Good work, keep it up.

According to a new poll, less than half of Icelanders identify as religious. The other half, obviously, are religious—as everyone has a religion (atheism, for instance, is a religion. When people say they are not religious, it usually means they don’t identify with a church denomination). And the younger generation in Iceland is the least likely to identify as religious, with more than 40% of young people claiming to be atheists (which means they adhere to the religion of naturalism—atheism). And 93.9% of those under 25 believe the big bang created the universe and 0.0% believe it was created by God. Zero percent! Not a single young person they asked said that God created the universe—not a single one.

Well, that was incoherent. I guess that happens when you try to type through your tears.

I find the common accusation that atheism is a religion ludicrous. It’s simply a denial of a negation: not-X is a kind of X! Ham is basically rejecting the idea of a religion at all, since in his simple little brain, everything is a religion. If that’s the case, then I’m going to join the church of Deadwood, hooplehead.

It’s just the total Dawkins meltdown now

Oh god no. He hasn’t learned a thing. Lindy West is just running circles around him on Twitter right now, an embarrassment that David Futrelle has documented. There are signs of desperation everywhere. He’s grasping at every lifeline the MRAs toss at him: someone tells him that Futrelle is an abuser of women and liar, with A Voice For Men as a source.

Dawkins’ response is to say that’s interesting. Even smart people are prone to confirmation bias, I guess.

For the quality of argumentation on Dawkins’ side, I’ll just point out this response to me when I praised Lindy West’s arguments.

hahahahahaha, fuck off. you just like her because she’s as fat as you, loser

And now…you know you’re really in trouble when an atheist starts comparing himself to Jesus.

Jesus de-platformed. Heaven Gazette reports that the Second Coming is disinvited. Jesus had not a single woman or minority among 12 Apostles

This is how you know I’m not actually a cephalopod: I’m pining for more limbs to adequately facepalm myself.