Open thread on AETV 765

Tonight on the show, Don talked with Russell about the failure of Christian morality, then we immediately followed it up with a caller claiming that only Christians can have real morality.  Follow it up with a guy advocating learning about the spiritual realm through the use of psychedelic drugs, and it was a fairly interesting evening.

Prometheus: pandering to anti-science

So a lot of you have, by now, probably seen Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the highly anticipated “prequel” to his 1979 classic Alien. (Its actual goal seems more about hitting the reset button on the whole franchise.) And so I suspect a good many of you are seething about it in the way I and many of the people I’ve been discussing it with have been.

It’s a staggering disappointment, but I think those of us in the skeptical/atheist/pro-science community will find its script — co-written by Damon Lindelof, best known for the TV series Lost — especially insulting. This is a story that just plain shits on science, and how science works, in ways that openly pander to and reinforce American attitudes of religiosity, anti-science and all-around scientific illiteracy. And its sins go beyond the ludicrous dialogue mistake — called out by Neil de Grasse Tyson — where Charlize Theron’s character describes a voyage of 35 light years as “half a billion miles” from Earth, something the writers could have fixed had they not been too goddamn lazy to use Google.
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Hey you guys, alt med has like totally cured cancer!

I just have to say this: I hate responding to mail that alludes to massive conspiracies, possibly more than any other kind of mail.  When Lynnea and I talked to Guy P. Harrison recently, he explained a very interesting perspective on the difference between conspiracy theories and other popular but wrong beliefs.  Someone who believes in miscellaneous magical stuff like ghosts and young earth creationism is likely to be coming from a place of thinking too little.  Someone who believes conspiracy theories more likely thinks far too much: they invent patterns and create connections where none exist.  They also spend an enormous time chasing these ideas down a huge rabbit hole of confirmation bias, and generate way, way more spurious content than I can reasonably deal with as a newcomer to their ideas.

Therefore, you can probably imagine my trepidation when we received this email from “Clark Kent” (I’m assuming it’s a pseudonym).

This a response to the Feb 19 podcast. Rough quote “If someone had a cure for cancer why not come fourth and claim your million dollars..”. Instead of being negative perhaps you can review that podcast with this injection of evidence.

The evidence was presented in the form of a YouTube link, titled “Cancer Cured In Canada, But Big Pharma Says NO WAY!”

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We get email: Your weekend DIRP!

Enjoy, kids. It’s Russell and Don on the show this coming Sunday.

Subject: Tracie Harris is wrong!

The Argument from Ignorance is completely False. Why do Atheist need scientific proof to prove every event that happens or is not true. Thus why believe in any historical History events that can’t be proven. Tell me if Washington crossed the delaware, if gold was discovered in california, Did Billy the Kid actually exist ? Give me 100 percent validation( You can’t ) See you can’t pick and choose what you can’t prove. I really don’t understand what your organization stands for , if you don’t believe in god then why do you care about anyone else beliefs. What our your organization goals other than spewing CRAP out of your mouth. have you FED the homeless , Shelter the Poor, give hope to the Dying. Don’t Tell me what you done in the name of jesus, Tell me what your organization has accomplished ! Do you believe the SUN will Rise in the Morning, Scientist don’t know why this happens everyday, other than A hypothesis. It can’t be explained . open your eyes know the TRUTH.

Good luck.

Yeah, looks like we’ll need it.

Trolling with niceness

Texas pastor and Jabba the Hut impersonator John Hagee really, really doesn’t like atheists. Oh, why mince words? He fucking hates our guts, because we exist, period. He wants us all to leave and stop messing up his glorious vision of a fascist theocratic Amerika. Aww, poor ugly baby!

This is a mean, horrible little man who wakes up every morning full of fear, anger and hate; spends his day immersed in fear, anger and hate; and goes to bed seething with fear, anger and hate. What must it be like to be him? The thought of spending one day of my life as John Hagee, thinking the way he thinks (if you can even call the process that), fills me with the kind of light-headed revulsion I feel at the prospect of eating a cockroach pizza. Then again — and I mean this unironically — isn’t it wonderful to know our mere presence on the planet is a large part of the cause of his misery?

Here’s an idea. Let’s make a habit of reminding Hagee that we’re here, we’re American, we’re godless, we’re fabulous, get used to it. Here’s the contact form at his website. It’s unlikely he’ll see any emails sent, because nasty men like him like to isolate themselves from all but a carefully selected, doting inner circle. But it’ll be fun for whomever’s reading it, I’m sure.

Don’t be mean. Don’t be rude. Don’t use four-letter words. Send a little sweet snark thanking Hagee for the touching and gentle way in which he expressed the sentiments of John 13:34 towards his fellow Americans, who just happen not to believe as he does. Then regale him with how proud you are to be American, and how being a godless American is so much better, because atheism linked with humanism makes you compassionate towards all classes of people, and not simply hateful and vindictive towards anyone in your selected out-group. Then let him know about the wonderful things you hope to do to contribute towards making America a better place, by staying in it, and fighting for it, so that one day America is a place free from the shackles of ignorance and fear that religion binds it in, a place where we can move the human race forward with science and knowledge and reason and equality.

I’m sure it will just make their day. Think of it, atheists, being happy! Dogs and cats living together! What is Amerrrrikkkka coming to, baby Jebus!?

It will definitely make yours.

(PS: If you send something, copy-paste it in the comments to share with everyone.)

Open thread on AETV 763/764; NPR 11.6; GB 2.13

Sorry for the lack of open threads lately..

  • Atheist Experience episodes had Matt and Jeff; and Matt and Jerry DeWitt visiting, respectively.
  • There was one or perhaps three Godless Bitches episodes since the last open thread.
  • We did a seemingly successful experiment streaming a Non-Prophets episode over Google Hangouts.  The audio podcast isn’t posted as I write this, but you can see the video for now here.


That little problem you have? It’s you.

While we’re in the midst of the current course of conversation (you know what I mean), let’s not forget religion’s long list of crimes in the sex wars either. And speaking of Islam…

Here’s the latest stupid shit from Indonesia: They’re making miniskirts illegal because they “make men do things.”

"...Let's see, need to pick up cat food, put this check in the bank, then see about dinner plans, and...huh? what the... BLGGHAAAH AAAAARRGGG MUST RAAAPEE!"

What religion does under the guise of “morality” is rarely more than flat-out misanthropy. The thinking here is both idiotically misogynist (the old victim-blaming) and misandrist (because mehnz are such weak-willed animals that the mere sight of female thigh-flesh transforms us into rampaging sex-Hulks). And you know, I really get tired of people who are so determined to avoid a little thing called personal responsibility that they’ll trade in both victim-blaming/slut-shaming and the myth of male weakness in the same breath, when what they should be doing is looking in the goddamn mirror and saying, “You know, maybe I’m the asshole.”

Here’s a little PSA.

Miniskirts do not cause rape. Bikinis do not cause rape. Cleavage does not cause rape.

Rapists cause rape.

This has been a public service announcement from a human being with more than single-digit functioning brain cells.

Have a nice day, Indonesians.

I want to be Howard Wolowitz when (if) I grow up

Kazim asked me to repeat some thoughts about the sexism issue in the skeptical community. He’s right that it’s not fair to let him, Martin and Matt take the heat on the AXP side, while addressing these issues over at Godless Bitches, as if AXP isn’t part of the skeptic community and this issue. So, here I am.
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Remember Dennis Markuze/David Mabus?

After atheists and scientists online spent years putting up with a literal veritable tsunami [FTFY -Russell] of increasingly violent and unhinged death threats from Montreal resident Dennis Markuze (among whose many aliases, “David Mabus” is the best known), the authorities finally took reports of his stalking seriously and arrested the guy last year. Here is the latest.

Dennis Markuze, 40, recently received a suspended 18-month sentence after he pleaded guilty to uttering threats toward eight people. The case was heard at the Montreal courthouse.

Markuze, a resident of St. Laurent, was ordered to “abstain from participating in a social network, blog and discussion forum” during the sentence.

According to documents filed in the case, Markuze resided at Freedom House, a rehabilitation centre, to deal with problems he had with drugs and alcohol before he entered his guilty plea. According to the documents, he began consuming marijuana at age 15 and cocaine at age 23. At 25, he started drinking heavily, according to an assessment filed in his case in March.

The same assessment described Markuze as being motivated to deal with his substance abuse problems and mentions he completed a therapy program in March.

“He doesn’t want to return to prison nor have more problems with the law,” Freedom House’s Clement Proulx wrote in the assessment. “He takes responsibility for what he is charged with and takes his sobriety seriously.”

It all sounds very much like a wrist-slap, but I suppose it’s harder to get more decisive action taken on matters like these. Still, the law in Quebec can no longer say he’s not on their radar, at least. Can someone of Markuze’s dysfunctional mental health be trusted to abide by a ruling to stay away from the internet?

Keep an eye on your inboxes and comment threads, people. Be ready to report the very first violation.

(PS: FFS, when I said “literal” I didn’t mean “literally literal,” I literally meant “literal” like you mean it when you don’t mean “literal”! Why does everyone have to be so literal? It’s literally the craziest thing in the history of ever, and I do mean that literally!)

I can haz cognitive dissonance?

Good old religion.

It’s what allows people to abuse a child by teaching him to do this…

And then turn right around in the face of public outrage and make this statement on their webpage.

Yeah, but...the song...

If the spectacle of adults cheering homophobic hate they trained a child to sing doesn’t quite reconcile with their claims they don’t hate anybody, welcome to the bizarro world of Christianity. You know, as vile as this is, it’s also kind of awesome. Really. My hope is that by more and more incidents like this coming to public attention, Christianity will become further and further marginalized as this appalling, fringe community no decent, moral, emotionally mature and well-adjusted adult would be seen dead being a part of. The Millennial generation are already leaving the faith in droves, much to the chagrin of the fundie old guard, and it must be said that Christianity’s constant message of hate, ignorance, fear and bigotry has been a major factor in turning people off.

I would love for nothing more than to see this toddler, years from now as an adult, reformed in Nathan Phelps or Marjoe Gortner style, speaking before atheist and secular organizations about the evils of the faith. And the crazy thing is, it could just happen!