Torture is bad science

Martin Robbins writes about how the US got suckered into playing torturer to the world. One reason is that we live in a culture that seems to celebrate torture: there sure are a lot of people wearing representations of an ancient torture device, where audiences will happily sit for hours watching torture porn in the guise of a religious movie, and where TV pretends that torture works every time as a way of getting results.

But here’s the thing: torture doesn’t work. Reason and evidence together ought to tell you that.

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BWAHAHAHA!

Answers In Genesis scuttled their big boat: it just became too obvious that the Ark Park was going to be a sectarian religious establishment to proselytize their weird little sect, so Kentucky will not grant tax incentives to the Ark Encounter. There goes $18 million!

“As you know, since the filing of the original incentive application in 2010, we have strongly supported this project, believing it to be a tourism attraction based on biblical themes that would create significant jobs for the community,” wrote Stewart in a letter to Ark Encounter’s attorney. “However, based on various postings on the Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Ark Encounter websites, reports from Ark Encounter investor meetings and our correspondence, it is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourism attraction to an extension of AIG’s ministry that will no longer permit the Commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives.”

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The end is in sight

One more class hour to go, and it’s a review. Then a unit exam on Thursday, a unit exam in another class on Friday, a final exam next Wednesday and one last final on the Thursday after that, which means I’m substituting hours of lecture prep for days and days of non-stop grading. I may have to rethink my syllabi in the future to avoid this last-week crush of tests, because grading exams is my very least favorite thing about teaching.

Can I just give them all a C and pretend I read their work? That would be fair, wouldn’t it?

Brandenburg is back

In case you’re curious, JE Brandenburg, the fellow who claims to have evidence of nuclear war between intelligent aliens on Mars, is commenting at length on my article criticizing his silly hypothesis. His arguments so far are 1) he’s a physicist, 2) there are radioactive deposits on Mars, 3) there was once lots of water and oxygen on Mars, 4) the mediocrity principle and the Fermi paradox, therefore…aliens.

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At last! Someone agrees with me!

For the last several years, the most common strain of complaint I see in my mailbox is the “atheism only means you don’t believe in gods” comment. Sometimes they try to say it politely, more often it’s accompanied by howls and threats and fuck-shit-cock profanity. It’s been like this for a long, long time — I recall hanging out on alt.atheism on usenet and getting exasperated because the whole forum was about dogma, and that dogma was that you got to shut down any discussion about complex social issues that you didn’t like by declaring atheism to be totally values neutral (the other thing they talked about that drove me mad was the distinction between “strong” and “weak” atheism, and how significant the difference between “I don’t believe gods exist” and “I believe gods don’t exist” was. Jesus. Hair-splitting atheologians.)

Anyway, the main thing people hate me for now is my declaration that atheism has implications and consequences beyond being an abstract philosophical statement that lets you skip church on Sundays, and that further, among those implications is a requirement for those good ol’ Enlightenment values of equality and justice (and that we do more than pay lip service to them, unlike many of those 17th century writers who argued likewise). It’s reassuring that a lot of commenters here at FtB are sympathetic to those ideas, but really, sometimes it’s a little depressing to discover how many other atheists elsewhere turn purple and start screaming if you dare to imply that women, for instance, are fully autonomous, thinking individuals, and that the Biblical tradition of treating them as secondary servants to The Man is invalid.

So it’s kind of a relief to see that James Croft agrees with me, even if he is at that blah pudding of religious pandering, Patheos.

And I think that responding to a post about the relationship between social justice and Humanism with forceful assertions about the values-free nature of atheism is bullshit.

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