I may have found a mirror universe

In this essay by John Pavlovitz, a liberal Christian, he makes the argument that the path evangelical Christianity has taken is toxic — that the hatred of Muslims, the contempt for the LGBTQ community, and the rise of celebrity preachers and professional Christians is driving good people away. I have to agree with him, and I think most atheists would agree, that much of the institution of Christianity is purest poison to anyone with a social conscience.

In record numbers, the Conservative American Church is consistently and surely making Atheists—or at the very least it is making former Christians; people who no longer consider organized religion an option because the Jesus they recognize is absent. With its sky-is-falling hand-wringing, its political bed-making, and its constant venom toward diversity, it is giving people no alternative but to conclude, that based on the evidence of people professing to be Godly—that God is of little use. In fact, this God may be toxic.

And that’s the irony of it all; that the very Evangelicals who’ve spent that last 50 years in this country demonizing those who reject Jesus—are now the single most compelling reason for them to do so. They are giving people who suspect that all Christians are self-righteous, hateful hypocrites, all the evidence they need. The Church is confirming the outside world’s most dire suspicions about itself.

With every persecution of the LGBTQ community, with every unprovoked attack on Muslims, with every planet-wrecking decision, with every regressive civil rights move—the flight from Christianity continues. Meanwhile the celebrity preachers and professional Christians publicly beat their breasts about the multitudes walking away from God, oblivious to the fact that they are the impetus for the exodus.

I’m reading it and thinking that gosh, this sounds familiar. It was like looking in a mirror. I think that the path the atheist/skeptic movement has taken is toxic — that the hatred of Muslims, the contempt for the LGBTQ community (and women!), and the rise of celebrity atheists and professional skeptics is driving good people away.

So I have some reassuring news for Mr Pavlovitz, if his worry is simply about church membership. If the behavior of the church is making atheists, those shiny new atheists are arriving at the atheist/skeptic community and finding exactly the same behavior and will bounce right back. Or maybe wander about between, in the cynical “pox on both your houses” domain of the nones (which we atheists will eagerly, and unwarrantedly, claim as ours).

Of course, if we’re actually concerned about supporting good people with generous views about diversity and Nature and culture, rather than what building they spend their Sunday visiting and which public speaker they spend their money on, well, both sides are screwed. It’s almost as if we ought to care more about building broader communities with healthy, progressive ideas rather than which god they believe in, or don’t believe in.

Nah, that can’t be it.

Can organized skepticism do a more spectacular face-plant?

Jebus. Michael Shermer has just proudly announced that the next issue of Skeptic magazine will be dedicated to his fellow member of the Intellectual Dork Web, Jordan B. Peterson.

David Gorski has been scathing. I agree with him.

Whatever it is Shermer is peddling, it ain’t skepticism. It’s closer to cult-like dogma.

There was a time, in the ancient of days, when skeptical magazines would take a Cuisinart to the kind of incoherent babbling woo that Peterson spins. Now they dedicate whole issues to praising him.

Kent Hovind, the broccoli man

Remember when Ray Comfort went on and on about how the banana was clearly designed by a god, when the commercial banana is actually the product of human agricultural engineering? Now we’ve got another, similar example: Kent Hovind accusing people of being stupid for believing broccoli could have evolved.

You may know that Brassica was selected for a number of common agricultural products, but I guess Kent Hovind didn’t.

Go away, Jenny McCarthy

McCarthy is still around, and she has just issued a “call to action” — the anti-vaxxers are supposed to rush out and promote a book by JB Handley.

Yeah, JB Handley. Anti-vax, autism-obsessed crank. I think both of them can crawl back into the hole they crawled out of.

This JB Handley:

How did your life change when you discovered your son had autism?

Everything changed from the day it happened. It was an immediate nightmare. It was 30 days of six, seven, eight hours of nonstop crying by both me and my wife. It was the painful realization that my son may not have the kind of life that I expected for him. And once the grief had passed just enough to get up off the floor, it was a mandate to do whatever I could do with the rest of my life to give him the best possible life.

There’s a kind of annoying selfishness there. Guess what? Your children generally will not have the life you plan for them. Learn to appreciate them for who they are.

They just cried non-stop for a month? Over-react much? It’s like hearing that someone melted down when they discovered their child had a birthmark. Calm down. There are degrees of autism, and none of them are a death sentence.

Even more bizarre, he then declares that his son is now “recovering dramatically, getting all his words back, going to a normal school”. Maybe the diagnosis didn’t warrant a month of bawling? Autistic children are children — they grow and change. Freaking out over autism is just silly.

So this is the guy who has a new book. I don’t care, and am not interested. This is the guy who has Jenny McCarthy excited — I am unimpressed with the endorsement.

Will we really miss Alex Jones?

No.

Here’s a mind-blowing compilation of his conspiracy theories.

Unfortunately, what worries me most isn’t that this guy raves online all the time, and has some incredibly stupid ideas…but that there are people who believe him. They don’t disappear when Jones is banned from YouTube.

And you do realize there is now a large idiocy vacuum on YouTube that people will rush to fill?

Nice headline

From Forbes, no less: Ticket Sales Dry Up for Noah’s Ark Tourist Attraction.

It gets even better in the body text.

The Ark Encounter has sold just over 860,000 tickets in the past year, according to the (Louisville, KY) Courier Journal, which obtained the numbers via a Freedom of Information request. That’s just one third of the high-end estimates park officials made when the attraction opened in 2016.

Don’t worry for Answers in Genesis, though. Lying and spinning the facts are domains of creationist expertise.

Prediction: Lawrence Krauss will be resigning

Everyone knew that Krauss had been ill-behaved towards women, and there’d even been that story of him groping a fan at a conference. We all believed it, but it sure took a long time for the powers-that-be to get around to confirming it. Now they have: ASU has released their findings, and confirmed that Lawrence Krauss grabbed a woman’s breast in public.

Arizona State University has concluded that physics professor Lawrence Krauss breached the school’s sexual harassment policy by groping a woman at a conference in Australia.

The incident, which happened at a dinner in November 2016 in Melbourne as part of the Australian skeptics national convention, was revealed in February in a BuzzFeed News investigation that described allegations of unwanted sexual advances, groping, and inappropriate comments by Krauss over more than a decade.

The incident in Melbourne happened when one of Krauss’s fans took a selfie photograph with him. A witness, microbiologist Melanie Thomson, filed a formal complaint with Arizona State in July of 2017, stating that the professor had grabbed the woman’s breast. (The woman in the selfie did not complain to the university.)

Krauss made excuses that were not believed, and also tried to place the blame on his accuser.

Thomson told BuzzFeed News that she felt vindicated. “The original investigation was basically a ‘he said, she said’ scenario, where they believed him over me,” Thomson said. “And that’s the way these things often go.”

She still wants Krauss to apologize, she said, and to withdraw his claim, made to BuzzFeed News and in a nine-page response to the article, that her complaint was “fabricated with malicious intent.”

“I call for him to retract his retaliatory, inflammatory, libelous remarks,” Thomson said.

I find the whole affair disappointing. I’ve had people ask to take a photo with me, I’ve never felt any urge to fondle them in response. It’s just sad when a smart guy is stuck with an adolescent emotional brain that leads him to misuse people that way.

I’ve known of college professors in the past who’ve screwed up this way, and have had to accept restrictions, like denial of promotions and strictly enforced policies with students, but they’ve managed to keep their jobs. I don’t see them getting away with slaps on the wrist anymore — ASU is a respectable university, which isn’t going to want confirmed harassers on their staff. I’m going to guess he won’t be associated with them much longer.

Although I could be wrong — some people seem to lead a charmed life, or maybe Chapman University and Scientific American and the ACSH don’t seem to care what kind of scum work for them. Maybe Krauss can find a position in one of those institutions if his situation at Arizona falls completely apart?

Anyone got any ghost repellent?

I’m worried, if this is true: Fed Up With Mortal Men, Women Are Having Sex with Ghosts. I’m concerned because I live only a short distance from a cemetery, and even if I didn’t, it might give my wife reason to think she could improve her sex life by translating me to a different realm.

It’s got multiple testimonials from real women! Also, Elayne Riggs told me about it, so it must be true.

…a woman named Amethyst Realm appeared on the British daytime television show This Morning, claiming that she began having sex with ghosts in her home and has not had since with a human being since. Her first erotic encounter with a ghost occurred 10 years ago, while she was still in a relationship with her mortal fiancé. As can occur with affairs, Realm was caught mid-coitus when her husband-to-be returned early one day from a trip away. “He saw the shape of a man through the spare room window,” she explained.

Betrayed, Realm’s fiancé broke up with her, and she and the ghost then decided to fuck everywhere in the house: “Once my fiancé had left, [we had sex] everywhere, [but] always within the building,” she said. That particular ghost romance lasted for a time, until the entity “started to appear less,” and Realm ended the inter-dimensional affair.

After that, Realm began to have regular sex with a variety of ghosts, each as distinct in style and feel than any human mate might be. “I’ve got no interest in men now,” she proclaimed.

Now I’m reassured, though. She’s lying. There’s now way sex with ghosts could be better than sex with real men. After all, ghosts would be kind of gauzy and nebulous, weak and barely perceptible. The strongest kind of interaction they’d be able to have is delicate little butterfly kisses, soft ephemeral strokes along the skin like hummingbird down, quiet, barely audible whispers in her ears, and a bit of moaning — I’ll admit, they’re probably really good at moaning — and no one would enjoy any of that.

Just in case, though, I might want to stock up on bottles of Ghost-Be-Gone.

Oh, look, I just alienated another 42,000 atheists!

A few months ago, I called out a couple of atheist Facebook pages. I wasn’t a member of either “Atheist Safehouse” or “The Thinking Atheist Fanpage”, but stupid obnoxious Facebook kept pestering me with suggestions that I join them…and I’d tell it “no!”, it would leave me alone, and then a few weeks later it would start up again. I was annoyed.

The reason I wasn’t interested was that they advertised themselves with a photomontage of Famous Atheists, you know, the usual suspects, some of whom I’d rather not ever meet again, and they were almost all men. It was just stunningly bad advertising, for one, since they were clearly aiming at a target demographic that was rather narrow, but it was also shallow and cult-like. It was too much trouble to portray an idea or a principle, so hey, let’s just make it clear that we’re a boys’ club and that we adhere to a dogma promoted by these modern prophets.

As I said, I didn’t join, for obvious reasons. But what if someone did join? Atheist Safehouse apparently has over 42,000 members, and is one of the biggest special interest groups in Facebook atheism. And what if they were a woman? And what if they pointed out the sexism of their advertising?

Chrys Stevenson entered their lair.

The equal representation of women in public and private spaces matters. It matters because saving women’s lives and maximising their wellbeing requires a tectonic cultural shift in our society that starts with recognising women’s contributions. It is, frankly, inconceivable that a group which prides itself on intellect and reason would choose a composite photo showing eight men – mostly white – to represent its mixed-gendered membership of 42,114 members.

I joined the group last night in order to comment. Naively, I thought it would be a simple matter of drawing the issue to the attention of the admins and getting the photo changed.

(Note: the one non-white man in the photo is Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is not and does not want to be associated with movement atheism at all. It would be nice if people would at least respect that. But at least he gets to join Charles Darwin in the list of scientists uncomfortable with atheism who get coopted anyway.)

What she discovered is that, rather than make a simple change to the profile photo of the group, they have rules that you’re not allowed to talk about the photo. They have encountered this complaint so many times before that the regulars were bored and predicted that the suggestion would be squashed…and it was.

If an atheist group of 41,114 (41,112 members now Cushla and I have been booted) cannot take the simple step of removing a single photo and replacing it with a more representative image, what hope is there that atheism can be rescued from the grip of the immature, socially inept, MRA man-babies who seem to have colonised the movement.

They use a photo of 8 famous atheist men to illustrate their “Atheist Safehouse”: two of them are dead, two, maybe three, are libertarian jack-offs, one is under investigation and has lost his prestigious position for sexual harassment, and one doesn’t want anything to do with the atheist movement. They refuse to even consider changing it.

I can maybe see their point. One could argue that the picture is a fair and honest portrait of the atheist movement today, so they’re just practicing truth in advertising.

We haven’t heard from Comma in a while, have we?

You remember Comma, the demented Sovereign Citizen who used to write to me frequently, with his peculiar style of phrasing every statement as a question. He’s back. This time he cc’ed his email to a bunch of people, but it’s addressed to…Richard Carrier’s lawyer. I think he wants to form an alliance.

I encourage this consolidation of their forces.

Are you aware that the University of Minnesota is currently illegally withholding Freethoughtblogs CEO & University of Minnesota, Morris Associate Professor PZ Myers’ criminal investigative data for his vandalism of a UMM newspaper from me? The Mirandized audio statement in DSS format and the corresponding transcript along with Myers’ writing sample and the vandalized student newspapers must be extremely damning for Myers’ and the University of Minnesota for them to illegally withholding them, right? How would you like the look at the evidence for the criminal complaint that I filed with the University Police for the the U of M’s data compliance officials willful refusal to provide me with Myers data? See attached. Oh, I’ve also included the Auroa Center data request that the U of M is also illegally withholding from me, haven’t I?

Terry Dean, Nemmers (320) 283-5713

If you’re wondering what he’s talking about, the campus right-wing newspaper accused me, without evidence, of having stolen a bunch of their papers. They had the campus police take a statement from me in which I denied everything. That was it. Ever since, Comma has been absolutely convinced that there is deep dark evidence of some wicked conspiracy in that recording, which the university is now trying to cover up, even though they told him they would make a copy of the tape and give it to him for the fee of $43.50. I guess that’s all it takes to stymie a True Patriot’s defense of the Principles of the United States of America, is a $43.50 fee.

You know, Carrier’s lawyer could go ahead and use Carrier’s money to purchase that recording. I don’t mind. Anyone can get it.

He also included a bunch of pdfs in his email, including the UMM Incident Report about the university’s official response to Comma’s accusation that I was harassing him, and the various correspondence he had to obtain his proof of my perfidy. He’s a very silly, man.