Another myth debunked with Science

I have just received a message from The Almighty Lord on twitter, re the kinds of expletives people use when excited.

Strangely enough, you’re right. People shout My Name when they have sex, because I am all one can think of when they’re orgasmic.

This is all wrong, a myth that another patriarchal myth has promoted to his advantage. I have carried out extensive empirical research in this area for approximately 35 years, and not once have I encountered a woman who shouted out any deity’s name at any time during sex. However, I have discovered one consistent phenomenon, a remarkably robust pattern of behavior that I’ve seen over and over again, in almost ten thousand encounters. There is one name that godless women frequently evoke at the height of passion.


Next time some sneering, mocking Christian asks you what atheists say during sex, you’ve now got the data: they moan “…PZ…”. Who are you going to trust on this, some imaginary ghost in the sky or Science?


Thanks to all of your helpful clicking, I have just received this message from Eric Hovind of Creation Science Evangelism:

Congratulations, you logged the most clicks to and won an Apple iPod Touch complements of Creation Science Evangelism.

Good work, gang! I hope it’s full of creationist videos. I’ll have to bring it with me on my trip to the Creation “Museum” in August (I’ll fill you in on more details on that development later, when they’ve firmed up a bit more.)

Sanford’s very expensive fling

Some people have asked for a thread to laugh over the latest Republican hypocrite: Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, often considered a likely Republican candidate for president, has been caught with his pants down. He had an affair with an Argentinian mistress, and lied to his staff and public about his prolonged absence, saying he was hiking the Appalachian trail.

I hope it was an awesome six days in Argentina. It’s cost him his political career, his marriage, and his credibility. Maybe he and John Edwards should get together and form a club.

Latest entries in the accommodationist fracas

I’ve been away all day, shuttling family about, so I’ve been trying to catch up the ongoing drama in the conflict between those simpering accommodationists and us mean new atheists. If you’ve got a little time — there is a bit of tl;dr about it all — read Sam Harris’s exchanges with Philip Ball. Sam Harris we all know; Ball is a very reputable science writer who is also very much one of those “I’m an atheist, but…” fellows. It’s an infuriating conversation because, as usual, rather than talking about what us “New Atheists” actually think, Harris has to constantly go back and address the blithe misconceptions of the accommodationist.

But Harris’s conclusion in particular is worth reading anyway.

I realize that my tone of chastisement has probably grown very tedious and could be mistaken for hostility. But I can’t help but feel that there is a great asymmetry between our points of view – both in how fully they have been thought out and in their degree of the moral seriousness. I see the perpetuation of ancient tribalism and ignorance (read “religion”) to be a grave problem, and the source of much unnecessary suffering in the world; you claim that the problem is either not very serious or that it is unavoidable–in either case there is not much to be done. You do not seem to see what an astonishing number of the world’s conflicts and missed opportunities arise from people’s false knowledge about God, and when specific instances are pointed out to you, you deem them to be inevitable (if it’s not religion it would be something else), or you defensively say, well of course I object to that instance of religious stupidity: parents shouldn’t withhold blood transfusions from their children!… But the truth is, a comprehensive response to the problem of religious ignorance is possible, and a piecemeal response is totally unprincipled and bound to seem so. Our world has be shattered, and is reliably shattered anew with each subsequent generation, by irreconcilable claims about God and his magic books. Until we stop enabling these competing delusions–by our silence and by our silly attempts to change the subject–we will have no one to blame but ourselves when medieval ideas come crashing into public life–as they do, and will, to our great detriment.

It’s a weird thing to argue with an atheist who claims religion is unavoidable (Oh? So what’s so special about you?) and isn’t that bad or is actually beneficial (So why aren’t you going to church for your health?), but they’re out there and they are irritatingly inconsistent.

Then there’s the mischaracterization of outspoken atheists and the apparent contempt for theistic scientists. Here’s another example of that attitude.

We should not overlook the New Atheists’ support for science, progressive views and legitimization of non-belief as a viable alternative. Unfortunately, their record is also marked by an intolerance of religious people and the alienation of potential progressive allies.

That always baffles me. So if I say that I’m proud to be an atheist, I think theism is a profound fallacy that is incompatible with scientific thinking, that’s intolerance and then these religious allies are going to get pissy and decide evolution isn’t worth defending anymore? That’s an awfully broad interpretation of intolerance, and an extraordinarily dismissive opinion of the theistic evolutionists. I guarantee you that no matter how rude a New Atheist might be to religion, Ken Miller will never give up on teaching evolution or trying to explain science to creationists. The accommodationists can stop trying to scare us into silence with these goofy, unrealistic threats.

Mano Singham makes a similar point.

The accommodationists argue that it is a mistake to insist that science is antithetical to religion because if science is determined to be an intrinsically atheistic enterprise, then even so-called moderate religionists will turn away from science and not support efforts to oppose the teaching of religious ideas such as intelligent design in science classes. This kind of mistaken solicitousness for the sensitivities of religious people, the fear that they will take their ball and go home if others are mean to them, is not new. During the run up to the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925, there were many accommodationists of that era who did not want Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes because they felt that his scorn for religious beliefs would alienate potential religious allies. We now view Darrow’s performance in that trial as one of the high points in opposing the imposition of religious indoctrination in public schools.

There is no downside to godless vigor. Nobody has come up with a reason yet why we should sit down and shut up.

A serious theologian

It’s a novel argument, at least. This evangelist has a weird justification for the priority of Christianity: because we say “Jesus Christ!” when we wack our thumb with a hammer, instead of “Buddha!”, he must be the one true god.

Alas for that line of reasoning, I’ve noticed that more people are more likely to shout out a certain four-letter word when surprised or hurt or angry, which must mean that sex is god.

Good news about Daniel Hauser

The boy who was in the news recently for his Hodgkin lymphoma that his family wanted to treat with ineffectual homeopathy and herbs is actually getting better — now that the courts have ordered him to continue the medically functional chemotherapy treatments.

He doesn’t like chemotherapy, though (and who would?), and there are these interesting rationalizations going on.

Daniel Hauser was not at the court hearing but later told The Associated Press he had hoped he would be able to stop chemotherapy, which he said makes him ill.
“I get really sick when I do it,” the teen said during an interview at his family’s farm at Sleepy Eye. “You get so dizzy and I get a headache right away.”

Daniel said he believes his tumor’s improvement comes from alternative treatments he’s doing such as supplemental drinks and pills.

His parents also remain concerned about the risks of chemotherapy, which they initially rejected for religious reasons, saying it harms the body. But they told Brown County Judge John Rodenberg during the today’s hearing that they would take their son to a Wednesday chemo appointment.

Colleen Hauser told the AP at her home that doctors said it would take six months to treat her son’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was first diagnosed, but they’ve now seen improvement in the past few weeks.

“Wow,” she said. “Something’s working.”

But when asked if she credits the chemotherapy, she said, “I’m not going to say it’s not, but I just want to make it clear that I would like a better plan, a better treatment plan, for Danny.”

You just know that if Daniel is cured, and we all hope he is, he and his mother will blindly give full credit to whatever magic water she has him drinking…anything other than the icky chemotherapy that actually does the job.

Don’t you appreciate it when a politician seeks the will of the people?

Even if he does try to clumsily word his polls to drive answers towards the one he wants — we’re smart enough to see through that and boldly click where we want. Let’s surprise Congressman Duncan Hunter with the vigor of our response.

Do you support a government imposed healthcare policy?

Yes, even if it requires tax increases.
No, we can reform healthcare without a government-run plan that limits choice.

I’m getting under Ken Ham’s skin

He seems a bit peevish. He now has a blog post up complaining about me and my “inaccuracies”. His complaints are amusingly petty.

I object to the lies at the very heart of his “museum”, and he thinks he is rebutting me by whining over petty details.

For instance, he quotes me as regarding the idea of “Noah’s ark being built to carry off members of every species on earth”, and then he primly informs his readers that that isn’t true: it only carried every kind of “land-dwelling, air-breathing animal”. Oh, well, that fixes the logistical problems of the ark right up, doesn’t it? Here we have a great big flood that turns the globe into Waterworld, and he doesn’t have to worry about the effects of salinity changes on aquatic organisms, doesn’t have to think about the plants, and the birds can just stay airborne for a year until the flood recedes. I don’t care what fraction of life on earth the poop-shovelin’, travelin’ family of Noah squeezed onto their big imaginary boat — the whole story is ludicrous and unsupported by the evidence or by sense.

Then he complains that I mentioned his “dinosaurs with saddles”. He’s only got one, he says, and it’s out for repairs, and it wasn’t out in the exhibits anyway. But again, this is his whole schtick behind the museum: that like the Flintstones, humans and dinosaurs coexisted! He’s got exhibits with kids playing with carnivorous dinosaurs, and he specifically claims that dinosaurs existed within the last 10,000 years. The point is that the founding premise of his scammy little “museum” is false.

He also complains that he doesn’t make any direct accusations of “malice and dishonesty” against biologists in general, but again, that’s the implication he makes by calling evolution a lie and the work of Satan. He says he doesn’t blame Darwin for the world’s problems — that’s caused by sin, of course — but again, it’s pretending that a major focus of his “museum” is on how godless Darwinism leads people away from the true faith and into depravity.

He thinks the numbers I cited are wrong. Well, take it up with the source I cited, which tracks charitable organizations to give potential donors information on what the institution is doing. Mr Ham can always provide them with up-to-date information, and I’m sure they’ll make the numbers more current.

Finally, the most pathetic whimper of all: I called it “Ken Ham’s ‘museum'”. It’s not his museum, he says, it’s the Lord’s. Yeah, right.

Since Mr Ham is so concerned about my accuracy or lack thereof, and is obviously stressed at the poor publicity I’m giving his little monument to ignorance, I’ll make him an offer. I’ll give him a whole day of my time if he’ll fly me in and give me a personal tour, during which he can point out all the things I’ve gotten wrong about Creation, and I will dutifully write them down and post a complete report of his various rebuttals. Thorough coverage for the price of a plane ticket. How can he possibly turn down such an offer?

If he was really confident of the legitimacy of his museum, I could probably even gather a small group of mouthy, obnoxious, and culturally prominent godless scientists who’d also take advantage of such an offer, and he could shepherd us all through at once, evangelizing as much as he wanted. It would be great! Come on, Mr Ham, put a little bit of your money where your mouth is.