Open thread for AETV #802

Matt and Jeff’s latest episode.


  1. Curt Cameron says

    I would have liked to hear more from the Israel-end-times guy. So what if he was pimping his site/newsletter?

    So he’s done a deep-dive into world news, and correctly predicted that Japan would devalue the yen. Wow – that’s so underwhelming! This guy was so full of the crazy that it would have been fun to play with him for a while. You’d just have to set the conversation parameters so that it was a dialog and not just a one-way like it was at the beginning.

  2. says

    It’d be nice if we could get an introspective moment from the first caller, and get him to sit down and list every way that prophesies can appear to come true without any supernatural/unusual aid. He may begin to see a pattern.

    The Israel prophecy is probably the most dull/mundane one there is… about as fascinating as going to a restaurant, ordering a hamburger, predicting that you’ll get a hamburger “soon”, and then getting one 10 minutes later.


  3. John Quinn says

    What was that short call right after the biblical prophesies guy? I couldn’t make out what he was saying.

  4. ah58 says

    Please no. I found him painful to listen to. I had to pause the show and go read something else for a bit just allow me to tolerate him again. It appears Jeff had a similar reaction to mine.

  5. gfunk says

    I understand why they were reluctant to give the guy any more airtime, but I also cringed a bit at the silence followed by a dismissal with no response (at least, initially). It’s just too easy to misinterpret as an inability to respond.
    But, yeah, the fact of the matter is he supposedly made a paper with a bunch of vague predictions about lots of world events 33 years ago and he has been Looking For Confirmation ever since. Big freaking deal, 33 years of news to sift through.
    Then, let’s consider that his predictions center around an event that religious fanatics have been very actively working towards fulfilling (Jews returning to the Holy Land). I predict I will eat skirt steak marinated with a chipotle pepper seasoning tonight around 7pm. If that comes true, is it miraculous?

  6. jdoran says

    To the last caller who started to ask about being an atheist going to military basic training, the advice I’d give is to find the religious services that take the longest and “attend” those. Sit in the back and tune the service out, use the time to write letters home, etc.

    When I was in basic, the Mormon services took 3 hours because they also gave “so you want to be a Mormon” classes; it was an obvious attempt to lure in new members. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn just how batshit crazy the Mormon beliefs really are and about their extremely cultlike behavior.

    You can still put “none” as your religious preference on your paperwork. Just disregard any comments the drill sergeants may have, they’re just trying to get a reaction out of you.

  7. Tax says

    In reference to the Israeli newsletter guy,

    It should be noted that countries frequently devalue their currency and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are lots of good reasons to do that. There is a problem here where people who have not studied economics in any detail assume that doing certain things are always bad. Devaluing currency is bad, getting off the gold standard was bad, printing money is bad. If you study economics you find out that there are good reasons for doing these things based on the current state of the economy.

    For example, a sudden rise in the value of your currency makes your exports more expensive relative to that of other countries. If your economy is dependent on exports it makes sense to try to keep your currency at a certain relative value compared to other currencies or demand will fall for your goods and services, which could send your economy into a recession. An economy that is dependent on exports generally speaking wants their currency to be valued low compared to other currencies.

    It’s frequently stated by people who say the world is ending that governments devaluing currencies is somehow necessarily a bad thing, and that it’s a sign of the world doing downhill. That is not the case. Although it should be noted that whether or not it is wise to devalue a currency is a complicated issue, and that the example I gave does not take into account a lot of other factors that should be considered.

    I really dislike people like the Israeli newsletter guy because they take the limited understanding most people have of economic issues and use it to manipulate them. If you haven’t taken a few formal classes in economics or read some introductory textbooks, you should probably assume whatever exciting things most people want to tell you about it are not completely accurate.

  8. Tax says

    When I went to a catholic mass during my first week of basic training the drill sergeant was teaching a class on how you assemble your rucksack and other gear. I was not part of that class, I missed out on that training, and despite help from other people in basic, I never got that rucksack correctly assembled and it kept falling apart during marches. Between me and my battle buddies, I think we found three different ways to assemble it where it looked like everyone elses rucksacks. It was fine in formation, but as soon as we went on a long march it started coming off. This was a huge problem during the final march, I think I ended up having to carry it a good portion of the way, which was not good for my back.

    When I was still a believer and in the military, I went to a different religious service every week, and ended up learning a lot about what other people believe. It didn’t lead directly to me deconverting from Christianity, but it made me a lot more tolerant of other peoples beliefs.

  9. Rabid Antitheist says

    I also wish the caller had been allowed to finish, especially to allow Jeff or Matt to systematically dismantle his arguments, since in some ways, this show offers (hopefully) the viewer a template for how to dismantle other similar arguments. I also understand that the host’s patience runs thin after hearing nonsense ad nauseum.

  10. Rabid Antitheist says

    It seems like predicting the future is nothing new nor special. Most people who observe their surroundings and understand human tendencies can likely predict sufficiently vague and seemingly accurate events. For example, I predicted that Seth MacFarlane would offend many when he hosted the Academy Awards.

  11. Walter says

    Nice show. Some great callers and responses. I especially liked the 1st caller — did you set that up? The ‘israel proves end-times’ was annoying. Yeah, Jeff!

  12. rodney says

    When I went through basic training with the Navy in the late 80’s, from what I recall, Sunday mornings were ours to do what we wanted. You could attend services, hang out in the park, eating junk food you got at the base store, or just relax in the barracks. They called it “Ricky”Sunday (Recruit Sunday, officially). There was a flag that we could earn if everyone attended services at least one Sunday, so I went once, because all the brown nosers wanted the flag.

    Once I was out of basic training, I attended services anytime it got me out of work.

  13. LawnBoy says

    Whether it was just luck or an intentional effort by the screeners, I really enjoyed that there were lots of young women callers. Too often the show is men talking to men, but this time we heard young women talking proudly about being openly atheist. It was great.

  14. BlurPrint says

    I love the Israel prophecy argument.
    The fact being that the state of Israel was a religously opposed secular effort and even today, even religious factions participating in Israeli polotics are ideologically opposed to the secularity that made it possible, the prophey argument implies that the strict scripture religious Judaism is heretical.

  15. Psychopomp Gecko says

    I predict that the next pope will be *puts on the random guessing hat* Polish…perhaps called Pious. They’ll bring him in hoping he can do something about the sex and financial scandals, but he won’t be the man for the job. He’ll either be part of the problem as they still chose politically from the type of people who were part of the problem, or he’ll be too easily walked on. In the end, he’ll try to cover up his weakness with attempted good gestures that backfire.

    In 2016, he will be assassinated. One month later, the Vatican’s best cyberologists will have completed and he will rise again as MechaPope. Equipped with a holy water canon, Blessed Light of our Lord laser, and a cross-shaped shield capable of withstanding anti-tank rounds, MechaPope will soon run out of control when he realizes the past MechaPope attempts were melted down for their gold upon failure. His attacks on gold will do little to destabilize the market, aside from causing gullible people to buy up lots of gold since it’s becoming rare.

    In order to fight him, Ron Paul will be caught advocating for military intervention but one that doesn’t use Federal resources. To that end, he will call on the states to raise militias. He’ll also issue another round of newsletters, this time involving crude drawings comparing President Obama to a space chimp because he wants to use the money for things like NASA, which should clearby be handled by the states instead, just like abortion, marriage, integration, and poll taxes should have been in his view. Nobody but gun nuts bothers with the first wave, and even their numbers are reduced as many preferred to train to fight their own legal government instead. They will also be undercut by Wall Street lobbying against Ron Paul’s efforts because less gold is good for their portfolios.

    In the end, aided by Rand Paul’s cannibalistic hairpiece, the Paulits go to do battle with MechaPope when he attempts to attack Jerusalem, backed up by the FreeMarketeers, a mercenary group paid handsomely by Glenn Beck to not only fight but to change their name as well. The FreeMarketeers arrive late, however, as they wind up “accidentally” shooting the President’s motorcade before leaving the country without being prosecuted due to loopholes set up for private military contractors in recent years.

    Despite this, the three groups are all caught with their pants down when PETA sends wave after wave of stray dogs and cats rigged to blow with improvised explosives, which their website promotes as a humane way to euthanize strays.

    The North Koreans, fresh off their missile testing with their revolutionary new rubber band technology, will attempt to nuke Japan. The missile hits the site of the battle instead. When the radioactive dust is settled, the cardinals, distraught and driven by guilt, are torn between declaring a permanent Papal vacancy or having Kim Jong-Il named the first posthumous Pope for what North Korea claims is his divine intervention. As the ensuing chaos breaks out, Scientology makes its move while also secretly funding both sides in the conflict.

    33 years from this day, the Vatican Civil War rages on with no clear winner in sight.

    That ought to be specific enough.

  16. Psychopomp Gecko says

    I’m just saing, go big or go home, crazy prediction-making people. Look at it this way. We’re both going to be wrong, but people can actually have some fun with mine.

  17. Pete says

    The guy who thinks he is the first person to discover cyclical economics? The net is full of these wing nuts, they did the right thing, explained where he was wrong and cut him of art the ankles.

  18. says

    Even beyond that, there’s also a question of the “lottery winner”. We have lots of people across the planet who are making predictions. Guess who we don’t hear from? The losers. All it takes is one lucky person to have guessed something that came true, and everyone else is going to turn to that person as some kind of prophet. It’s essentially availability bias… they aren’t aware of all the incorrect predictions.

    … just one more way that prophecy can appear to come true without supernatural assistance.

  19. Unther says

    That dismantling could have taken an awful lot of time. That guy sounded like he had a very well constructed parallel universe and if that is the case, it takes a lot of time and arguments to poke enough holes in this “world view” so that it collapses. I doubt they wanted to spend that much time on this and I’m glad they didn’t. When have they ever had so many different callers in one hour?

  20. Grantus Maximus says

    I always experience a little frisson of pleasure when I check the description for the latest podcast and see that the Matt & Jeff tag team is back in action again 🙂

    Jeff – can we have some more anger please?


  21. porlob says

    Because I’m a masochist, I sought out the website of the prophecy dude ( ) to see if he had posted the full and original text of his famous 1980 “newspaper” in which he predicted everything.

    Surely, I thought, if it were jam-packed with irrefutable prophetic references to our current world economy and political climate, it wouldn’t need to be quoted in two-paragraph excerpts that kinda-sorta resembled something that could be interpreted to be similar in a way to current events.

    Oh wait, that doesn’t seem to be there.

  22. porlob says

    Yikes. I have to correct myself: The full 1980 original document is there, as a PDF, including the URL at the top and vivid descriptions of the Satanic rape gangs at war with the national guard in L.A. I’m convinced.

  23. sasa says

    The first caller got me thinking about something I have been pondering for a while. We are a critical minority of people. That by itself is a tricky position to be in.

    What we are critical of is a belief in a god. While I understand the connection between belief and action, I have doubts if it is within my right to criticize the belief itself. Many people believe many different things. Some think physical beauty is incredibly important, many people worship money, power…etc. Those are also beliefs that I don’t find to be rooted in human reality (the average person is not exactly gorgeous, influential and loaded) and can’t really call moral. But until those people start acting upon their beliefs in a way that is harmful to others I just think to myself “oh that’s really dumb, but it’s their life”.

    I’m all for atheism as a response to activist theism. When belief molds a person’s (or group’s) social, economical or political views I do feel passionate about arguing for reality. I also think all churches as “institutions of belief” are accountable to a lesser or greater degree, depending on the doctrine applied. But a private belief of a individual? It is his or hers to enjoy.

    The question is: is the difference between the theoretical, pondering, private theist and an active, preaching, fundamental theist greater than the difference between the ponderer and an atheist? Is consistency in action as well as in thought a result of the strength of one’s conviction or is it an independent personality feature defined by influences unrelated to a/theism?

    I live in Europe in a small and economically iffy country employing relatively new democracy. The state itself and public/professional life seem to be much less structured than in the US. People are nominally Catholic in a huge percentage. Yet everywhere I look there is inconsistency of thought and action in the “religious” to a startling degree. Many offer strong criticism against the very tradition that gave them their belief in the first place. The fundamentalists are few and far between. It is simply vastly impractical to rely on something so deeply. I guess people are always more skeptical when trust in institutions and politics is weak.

    All this makes me wonder if it will become necessary to discern between the theoretical and the practical believer because honestly, as someone trying to live my life according to my lack of belief and being in a minority doing so, I don’t want to waste my breath or brain activity engaging someone who just likes the sound of this god idea and really can’t wait for the next game of football to come on so he can relax and drink a beer (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that obviously) or it amuses him to mind masturbate around the notion that imagination actually has something to do with reality.

    And as much as I wholeheartedly love AE I feel that sometimes a big portion of us atheists don’t know when to back off because we’re in this perpetual “hey, wake up people” argumentative state, being a minority and standing against something as huge as religion. It’s like those questioneers that first ask “How much do you agree with xy statement on a scale?.” and then “How important is it to you on a scale?” I think belief in a god can sometimes hover pretty low on a scale of importance/involvement in other aspects of life.

  24. codemonkey says

    Many people believe many different things. Some think physical beauty is incredibly important, many people worship money, power…etc. Those are also beliefs that I don’t find to be rooted in human reality (the average person is not exactly gorgeous, influential and loaded) and can’t really call moral. But until those people start acting upon their beliefs in a way that is harmful to others I just think to myself “oh that’s really dumb, but it’s their life”.

    Every time you deny the right to hear other person, you make yourself a slave to your own current opinion. The right of the listener to listen is as much as part of the western tradition of freedom of speech as the right of the speaker to speak.

    I do unto others as I wish they would do unto me. I do hope that if I am wrong about something, someone would correct me. I don’t want to be a slave to my own current mistaken beliefs.

  25. sasa says

    I agree. And I do try to be informative but not overbearing or judgy. I was pissed when my close friends told an anecdote of a social encounter where the person thought something so drastically wrong they were left shocked and speechless that an educated individual could think such a thing. Yet they didn’t correct him. You don’t get to tell it and laugh about it if you did nothing to change the misconception, even if it would be embarrassing for everyone involved.

    But you can’t just “correct” years and years of someone’s religious belief. You can’t correct irrationality. Yes, you can offer your perspective but sometimes a very superficial insight is more than enough. I think we tend to overkill it many times with the assumption that people are actually consistent in trying to root their behavior patterns in their belief when in fact (this is me throwing around assumptions) a good chuck of them just think this afterlife idea is all neat and cool and don’t want to miss out on it. That’s as deep as it can go for some.

    I dunno. I was operating under my “discussion is always good, being open and involved is entirely positive” motto for a few years but now I’m thinking there are many times when backing off is a better option. People can be fickle creatures.

  26. edmond says

    Just finished listening to the show this week. Regarding the Israel/prediction guy, what is WITH these conspiracy kooks? Do they not hear the contradiction in their own statements? Here is HIS quote from the show, these are HIS words:

    “I’m very, very concerned about where the world is headed.”

    And then he goes on to talk about how God has promised this and that to Israel, God gave us these and those revelations from the Bible. Okay, well, if you’re so sure that God is doing all this, and that he’s in charge and has a plan…. then what exactly are you so “very, very concerned” about? Yes, the world is full of strife and war and disease and unstable economies. But if you’re a Christian believer, then don’t you believe that this is all ON PURPOSE? Don’t you believe that this is where God WANTS the world to be headed? Didn’t you just get done explaining how God has pre-ordained all this to happen, and yet you’re “concerned”?

    I see similar arguments on other sites, where Christians will piss and moan about the “decadance” of society, how homosexuals are destroying everything, morality is collapsing and sin is taking over, and how this means we’re in the End of Days, and WOE to the liberals who have caused it all! Except, shouldn’t Christians be EXCITED about the End of Days? Doesn’t that mean that the Rapture is near, and that they’ll all be sitting at Jesus’ feet soon, or whatever? Why COMPLAIN about all this? Are they hoping to postpone or cancel God’s plans? This should be eagerly anticipated, if they truly believe what they SAY they believe.

    Maybe that’s where their true beliefs shine through. Maybe they don’t really believe what they’re preaching, and they know that we’re all in the same dangerous basket, at risk of plagues or nuclear winter or terrorist attacks on the bus or the mall, Christian and atheist alike, and that NO ONE is actually going to “save” any us. I think this gives them the wiggle room they need to complain about something as if it were bad, while simultaneously promising that God’s violent, fiery, destructive plans for humanity are actually good.

    Such nonsense.

  27. Houndentenor says

    I read The Late Great Planet Earth as a kid. It scared the bejeezus out of me. I’d love to find an old (non-updated) version of that book from the mid 1970s. He had dates for when he thought various things would happen. Pretty much none of them did. Hal Lindsay ought to have about as much credibility as the guy who wrongly predicted the end of the world twice in one year. (See, I’ve already forgotten his name!)

  28. Houndentenor says

    Or find the services with music you like and sermons you can ignore. That might make that more tolerable. I suppose there’s something to be said for standing your grown but sitting through a non-Fundy church service seems preferable to cleaning out the johns.

  29. Newish Atheist says

    ok first off I love the show, kudos.

    Can you guys/gals please address the story of Noah in relation to the different races of people and different languages on the planet. My beef in particular is with young earth creationists (6000 year earth). I live with one, so good times :P. I feel like the vast differences in humans in regard to race, language, culture, and even location, absolutely destroy the whole “everyone came from noah’s family” assumption and even the story of adam and eve. (at least in regards to the timeframe) Not to mention different animal species. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  30. Lord Narf says

    I dunno. If he takes the flood story literally, he’s too ignorant to deal with, by yourself. There’s so much groundwork to do that I wouldn’t consider it worth the effort. I’d settle for mocking him any time he brought up his silly beliefs in your presence, if i was in your place.