New Mexico “teacher” annoyed by reality

Religiously poisoned teachers aiming to ruin young minds are, of necessity, bullshitters. But most of them aren’t especially good at it, and when taking up an indefensible position it’s generally a good idea to have loads of high-quality bullshit at the ready.
In Bloomfield, New Mexico, a publicly funded home-school operation has apparently been using Christian curriculum materals for the past 11 years. Recently, the state education secretary stepped in and said “knock it off, this is illegal.” Here’s a story about it, newspaper and here’s a complaint from the usual lying suspects.
There’s really not much mystery here. From the Las Cruces Sun article:

“Religion is not incorporated in my classroom.”

From the shitburst:

“Are there references to the Bible, to God in the materials? Yes, there are,” Harper explains. “You know, there might be a story about Jonah that the kids have to write. But as far as in the classroom, is it a place where we expound and preach and have worship or any of that? That does not go on in the classroom.”

Hmm. I may be slow, but I’m having a hard time reconciling these two quotes. Granted, I have no knowledge of what actually goes on in her classroom, and maybe there’s no genuine Christian slant. But I’ll go out on a limb and propose that Ms. Harper is a lying fucking twit, because she simply sees no problem with such a slant, laws be damned.
Finally, from the Web site of A Beka Books, the provider of the verboten “teaching” materials:

Our skilled researchers and writers do not paraphrase progressive education textbooks and add Biblical principles; they do primary research in every subject and look at the subject from God’s point of view. Of course, the most original source is always the Word of God, the only foundation for true scholarship in any area of human endeavor. Thus our publications are built upon the firm foundation of Scriptural truth.

Sure, no problem at all with using taxpayer money to fill kids’ minds with bullshit.
I think that liars for Jesus often don’t even know when they’re lying. They’ve been so pumped full of dishonesty from an early age that propagating it is the most honest thing they know. This makes them a menace, and I’m glad that Secretary Garcia stepped in and did her part to stave off the indoctrination of young minds with arrant lies and foolishness,

I’m afraid not

A gratuitous and superificial swipe, but on the heels of this sick-fuck insanity, I think it’s worth taking every possible shot at the stupidity of Catholics worldwide for pretending, year after year, that a guy who probably never lived, and is in any case long dead, has in fact gotten up after three days in the death-hole and started boogying around and judging people. Every year Easter rolls around, and every year people celebrate the same non-event. If you believe in the Resurrection, you are mentally challenged, organically or otherwise.
Actually, that button tells you everything you need to know about religion. It’s not the bullshit message that’s important, it’s the URL and the for-profit entity behind it. The AFA is a storehouse of evil, illiterate, lying cartoon characters and no amount of misfortune that could come to anyone associated with it would be enough.
The whole institution needs to die, albeit not as violently as the ol’ Christ Jesus himself.

Michael Egnor’s clumsy concern trolling

As many know, a “concern troll,” on the Internet, is someone who pops up on blogs appearing to give weight to one opinion while unabashedly favoring its opposite. The Discovery Institute’s Michael Egnor has admirably filled this role here. Ostensibly complaining about a state of Oklahoma’ legislator’s goofball move to try to keep Richard Dawkins from speaking on a university campus this month, he writes:

Dawkins himself has certainly been a vocal supporter of censorship in education
Dawkin’s [sic] intolerance and his personal support for censorship in academia
Ben Stein was recently dis-invited from giving the commencement address at the University of Vermont by Darwinist censors. Ironically, Dawkins himself was one of these censors

I know Dawkins can be insistent, but I’d like to see evidence that he is actually calling for censorship, or is in charge of it. There is none? Well, fuggedabout it–we’ll just keep ranting:

Dan Fogel, the President of the UVM, has been making it patently clear that supporters of intelligent design deserve second-class treatment at his school.

Yes, I’m sure students at my alma mater have been denied academic credentials thanks to the interference of atheists. Thank FSM I was there at a time when this couldn’t happen!
Egnor’s entire essay, as you can see, is a clumsy stab at equivocation–“The Darwninists have been wrong for squelching debate, so we shouldn’t make the same mistake.” He even manages to compare, with due inanity, the rise of King Henry VIII to the propagation of the therory of evolution. Left out of this, naturally, is the difference between presenting something in science class that qualifies as science and presenting something that qualifies as laughable bullshit.
Nowhere in this, of course, is a rationale for why ID creationism should be taken seriously. That’s no surprise.

World’s religions vying for loser’s attention

It’s true–I saw it on the Internet!

Owen Pritchard’s recent downward spiral into drug addiction, unemployment, and complete and utter hopelessness has sparked the intense interest of several top world religions, each of which is vying for his services as a devotee, the 39-year-old uncommitted prospective convert reported Monday.
“I’ve finally reached a point in my life where all the big religions want me,” said Pritchard, whose two failed marriages and mounting gambling debts have left him penniless and in a state of blind despair. “Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism–you name it, they’ve come to me. I have no job, no family, no direction whatsoever. So right now, I’m totally in the driver’s seat.”

I wish I could remember to read this publication every week rather than devote time to maddening myself through exposure to crap from the AFA and similar entities.
(Thanks, Brian)

Touch-tone terrorism

When I was a kid, long before the age of Caller ID, I and my friends would sometimes crank-call strangers chosen systematically or at random from the phone book and see how long we could keep people from hanging up. This became especially fun when I was about 12 and received as a Christmas present a combined phone/clock radio/cassette player that was capable of recording calls right off the line. This was wildly out of compliance with the FCC, but at that age this was the least of my concerns.
A man named Pete Dzoghi has taken this time-honored concept to a new level. He has secured over two dozen 1-800 numbers that differ by a digit from the customer-service numbers of large companies, including United Parcel Service. The idea, obviously, is to snare fumble-fingered folk who then unwittingly enter into conversations with any one of a number of characters comprising a group Dzoghi has dubbed “The Touch-Tone Terrorists.” Dzoghi records the calls, and after later securing victims’ blessings releases the conversations on DVDs and onto the Internet.
In 2002, Comedy Central started producing a show called Crank Yankers in which a group of comics (among them Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, and Denis Leary) would crank-call people and the producers of the show would then synchronize the audio with video of ad hoc puppets acting out the goings-on in the call. Inevitably, the Touch-Tone Terrorists and Crank Yankers began partnering occasionally, and a particularly amusing result can be seen below starting 1:30 into the video.
I was reminded of this by a recent unruly package-delivery situation of my own. If you like what you see below, there’s another “YPS” call 16:00 into this video (you’ll have to sit through a 30-second commercial about vodka or something first).

Obama conspiracy theorists are so cute!

Actually they’re repugnant, but in an interesting enough way.
As if it weren’t enough that Obama-haters were not only willing to blame him for all the problems he inherited but to apparently believe their own words to this end, some of them are now claiming he’s causing mayhem on purpose. Take this guy:

Is President Obama intentionally attempting to bring the stock market to its knees? Some argue that, indeed, he is.
The only plausible explanation is that Obama’s destruction of the economy is intentional.
It is based on a failed ideology that has never — and can never — succeed [sic].
And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

See the theme here? No explanation for why someone would want to act in a way guaranteed in the end to make his own life miserable and perhaps end it, but reassurances that other people agree. Yes, dumbass, we know that plenty of people are on board with every anti-Obama idea that’s been violently shat out of millions of puckered Internet bungholes in the past month-plus. The trick is providing reasonable evidence to back up these brazenly lunatic ideas. Or at least some useful speculation.
A little consistency would help too. If Obama’s out to bring America to its knees, then what was going through George W. Bush’s mind as he was watching America race into record federal-deficit territory and alienate the rest of the world? Hell, he must have been itching daily to land a few H-bombs in Washington.

If all of this comes as a surprise to you, I’m guessing you never saw The secret scrapbook of Barry Soetero.
Because if you had, you would’ve known.

Damn, if only I had the unfailing prescience of every mentally challenged blogger out there! They so smart. We ought to had listen to they. Them knew from start, what Score was.
That link is an internal one, by the way, and it’s appropriately pathetic. But it really is written in Comic Sans, proving that the fun really does never end.

Bragging on penis extenders: Spot the problems!

Earlier today I threatened to submit a sham report to just to see if I could sneak it past whatever passes for the editorial team there. This almost suggests that one of you has beaten me to it.

Men who wore a penile extender every day for six months were able to increase the flaccid length of their penis by up to 32% and their erectile function by up to 36%, according to an independent clinical study published in the March issue of BJU International.

So a real medical journal is claiming the same things the pecker-woos on late-night television, huh? Well, not exactly. There’s something missing in the above paragraph that would seemingly be of considerable importance to anyone willing to undergo this:

Continue reading “Bragging on penis extenders: Spot the problems!”

Posting to wingnut blogs: A step-by-step guide for the lazy, the irate, and the dishonest

The process goes like this:
1. Seat pimply ass before computer, brow furrowed in anger and mind jittering in confusion.
2. Load one from among of a trove of bookmarked news sites and blogs: Michelle Malkin, Fox News, and WorldNut Daily are favorites.
3. Scan article to the best of limited reading ability. No more than 30 seconds should be spent on this, and it is vital that all sourced items not be investigated or vetted for accuracy. Period.
4. Using the copy and paste function, transfer a key paragraph or two to own nascent post, inserting additional spelling and grammar errors as desired.
5. Create link to article accompanied by garbled paragraph containing references to the evil Left, and various mistruths, hypocrisies, and distortions. Make sure that claim bears as little relationship to reality as possible.
6. Generate post title that is not merely hyperbole or incendiary wordplay, but an utter lie.
7. Be, at best, dimly aware of own attitude and behavior.
8. Delete all dissenting input and ban dissenters outright if possible.
9. Transmit lies memetically through sizable wingnut community.
10. Repeat several times daily.
Here’s a great example. Gribbit, ever watchful of things to lie about, has generated a post called “Boxer: The UN knows better than you how to raise your child.” You’ll note after a look at the article Gribbit links to that Barbara Boxer, a Democratic U.S. senator from California, has claimed nothing of the sort, so right away Gribbit’s off to a great start.
Reaching ever further into his own ass, Gribbit produces this gem of an opener:

Continue reading “Posting to wingnut blogs: A step-by-step guide for the lazy, the irate, and the dishonest”

Women: Your toilets may be a mystery to you

I’ve been meaning to mention this for a long time. Not really, but here’s something women may wants to be aware of–your toilets may be grossly unclean, and you may not know it. The reason I am addressing this to females will become clear shortly.
First, let me describe a recent experience. I was in the home of a couple where the husband had recently undergone a routine colonoscopy. As a prelude to what I’m sure was a thoroughly enjoyable procedure, he had to consume some sort of electrolyte solution the day before that functions, I am guessing, as an osmotic laxative or otherwise acts to cleanse the colon. I’m sure the GI folks appreciate the convenience of this, but the upshot is obviously that the patient spends much of the 12 or so hours beforehand blasting geysers of something akin to faecal matter out of his ass, although I bet the output more closely resembles muddy water.

Continue reading “Women: Your toilets may be a mystery to you”

Drugs for Cocaines makes the sex a Not.

Here’s an example of why it’s a good idea to convey information in a language you’re facile with rather than a random one.

72.28 per cent of drug addict men admit to have consumed drugs to be able to have sexual relations and most of them (58%) choose cocaine to this purpose, the narcotic which increases the most sexual incapacitation.
On the other hand, only 37.50% drug addict women consume drugs to this purpose, and when they do, they resort to cocaine (37%), speed ball (25%) and alcohol (25%).
Those are the conclusions of a study carried out by Professors of the department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, where they have analysed the connection between drug consumption and sexual performance. They took a poll of 120 characters (104 male and 16 female drug addicts), aged between 17 and 23 years old and with an average age of 32.25, who were administered a poll together with the Addictive Behaviour Questionnaire, a test which assesses consumption seriousness.

Cocaine and alcohol to lose inhibition

Another conclusion of the work carried out at the UGR is that 50.98% of men use drugs to have sexual relations, as against 43.75% of women. This category also shows the differences by sexes, as men who consume drugs to lose their inhibition use alcohol and cocaine almost in the same proportion (43 and 37%, respectively), whereas in the case of women it is alcohol, with 72%, the most common substance.
The research work has been carried out by Professors Pablo Vallejo Medina , Miguel Pérez Garc?and Juan Carlos Sierra , who insist that, in the light of the results obtained, men present a paradoxical fact, “as cocaine, which is the most commonly used drug as an enhancer factor of sexuality, is also the most incapacitating drug at a sexual level”.
According to researchers, this fact could be due to that drug addicts use cocaine in order to increase their sexual power and performance which, as has been proved by authors such as Cregel and Mark, only happens when consumed in low doses and in the short term. Such conditions would be difficult to keep, as consumers, due to the habit and the dependence would tend to increase both the doses and the consumption time, seriously harming the sexual function.

It’s obviously difficult to figure out just what the hell’s going on here. Apparently, whether of not participants noted in this report were drug addicts was determined by a simple questionnaire alone. Also, there seems to be no control group, so there’s no indication of how these numbers relate to the percentage of non-addicted men and women who have used drugs or alcohol to loosen up for sex. I am going to venture that this figure approaches unity, even for pure masturbators. So in summary, this “study” suggests that altered consciousness and nooky are correlated to some extent. Who knew? It also implies that snorting a little coke (but only a little!) might make my next roll in the hay more pleasurable.
But the study, even if a wreck of bad research methods, isn’t as troubling as the article about it. This is the first time Ive been tempted to quote something in Comic Sans that doesn’t relate to a religious or conspiracy-theory idea. Based on where the study was done, I’m guessing that the person who wrote the piece speaks Spanish first and foremost. That’s fine, and my Spanish is worse than the author’s English, but when a medical news aggregator is willing to post things just as they’re received, it opens the door to quality-control issues a purveyor of this kind of information probably doesn’t want to invite. I’m half-wondering if I shouldn’t write up a nonsensical report of a fictional study concerning some lurid topic (ideas welcome) and e-mail it to the folks just to see if they’ll post it. I may have to unsubscribe to this particular feed, or only continue reading it so I can generate pointless and critical blog posts about the garbage I find there.

A brief (small-“r”) resurrection

Two months ago I posted about a short video created by a West Coast ministry depicting the alleged intervention of God in the life of a deeply troubled man, a presentation I discovered during a spin through Jared White’s site, “Finite Calls Infinite.” Jared’s observation:

Check out what this guy went through and how God intervened supernaturally to change his life. It’s amazing! I wish they’d include more of the details, but it’s nevertheless an inspiration. No matter how far you’ve gone into the realms of darkness, God’s light will still penetrate!

Given Jared’s enthusiasm, I expected to find that something remarkable had happened in Mike Leehan’s life–the “miraculous” curing of a disease, or even something as mundane as finding a winning lottery ticket in a bus terminal restroom immediately following a bout of prayer. If you watch the video, you find that what happened can fairly be summarized as: Man with clear mental issues and a history of conflicted feelings about God is visited by members of the ministry, and in their presence has a revelation in which God calls him to do His work for the rest of his life. Those are the facts.
Yesterday, Jared apparently discovered my post and left a comment in which he asked:

I have just one simple question for you: how do you know that whatever was described in this video isn’t actually true? On what basis do you accuse this man or this church of lying? Furthermore, aren’t scientists supposed to search out knowledge and meaning in spite of personal bias and follow the evidence wherever it may lead regardless of comfort level or preference? It seems to me that you’ve already decided how reality is framed, and thus anything that contradicts your predetermined conclusion you dismiss out of hand.
I fail to see how that is scientific, open-minded, or free-thinking.

I left a long reply, but it’s worth visiting what is going on here. Originally, I posted about this because Jared’s enthusiasm represents a classic example of confirmation bias. Religious folk often exemplify this interpretive flaw, which only makes sense; one who spends much of every day praying to or thinking about Jesus will naturally attribute events they perceive as remarkable in some way to divine authorship. In a world in which gods cannot be troubled to actually show themselves, this is understandable. Yet aside from the fact that private visions cannot constitute evidence for anything, the fact that non-Christians can and do have exactly the same kinds of “awakenings” as a result of a nearly infinite variety of experiences (praying to other gods; running 26 miles flat-out; dropping acid; transcendental meditation) underscores the reality–that people simply view “life-altering” experiences through the lens of their pre-existing beliefs.
Note the gross error in Jared’s thinking. He sees a skeptical viewpoint as being not only mean-spirited but unscientific. In other words, because I dismiss the likelihood of God having anything to do with an event in which there is no evidentiary reason to suspect deities playing a role, I am being close-minded. Yet I doubt that he would consider himself closed-minded if he laughed off my claim that my own “salvation” from, say, a lengthy spell of depression is undeniably attributable to blessings from aliens from Altair-6. He would, I presume, expect me to support this claim in some way before accepting it. But he makes an exception, and a grossly unjustifiable one, for himself and other Christians. It’s that simple.
I am also confident that Jared believes that he indeed arrived at his belief in the Christian deity because he was willing to “follow the evidence, wherever it may lead.” I don’t think he’s lying when he claims to have evidence for his god, as he implicitly does, but I would certainly invite him to present it. I am sure he will not–possibly with the observation that I’m a mocker who won’t change his mind anyway–and equally certain that he cannot.
The point here is not to denigrate something that made Mike Leehan feel better or mock, in a throwaway manner, something that makes Jared and millions of other people feel better. It is to point out what a huge divide exists between religious believers and others in terms of what represents “freethought” and rational inquiry. People like Jared epitomize close-mindedness when they basically try to insulate their ideas from criticism despite having no evidence to support them. If you were to give all the Jareds of the world truth serum, some of them might admit that they arrived at their religious convictions–Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian or animist–first and have spent years since then trying to come up with justifications for their beliefs when challenged. But I think there’s something deeper at work; I think Jared (clearly an intelligent man) does think he has evidence for what he believes. But naturally he cannot articulate this, because he’s wrong.
Watching people like Jared talk themselves in bumbling circles, if nothing else, provides an object lesson in how religious programming can forcefully disrupt or ruin someone’s ability to not only apply logic, but to comprehend it. To posit that something is true yet be unable to support this claim with evidence, yet label someone closed-minded for not accepting the same thing (one of countless takes on a basic delusion) at face value, is obviously loopy. But it’s part of the way millions of people approach the world every day.
Anyway, if nothing else, maybe he and other Christians can read this and understand the real basis for skeptical inquiry. I have no more of an inherent commitment to denying a divine Jesus than I do my putative aliens or any other extraordinarily unlikely construct. But refusing to start from a conclusion and work backward is not closed-mindedness, however accompanied it may be by gratuitous jocularity.

Why Gmail is great

I don’t always remember to look at the content-driven ads in the sidebar, but when I do it’s usually interesting.
One recent conversation that became a little raucous drew this ad:
Over Your Ex?
Find Out How To Get Over Your Ex With These Helpful Tips.

But right underneath was this:
How To Get A Girl Back
Get Her Back With These 5 Tips. Free Report – Instant Email Access.

Come on, man, that’s like links to a fertility clinic and a home vasectomy kit stacked on top of each other.
The interesting thing is trying to figure out what words or phrases in this e-mail string kicked off this pair of ads–this was no break-up chat, so I’m thinking that despite the contradictory content, the algorithm involved here is pretty sophisticated. Generally, as here, I can see how Gmail got its “ideas,” but were a human in charge of figuring out what to offer one or both people involved in this conversation, he or she probably would have provided ads for sedatives, George Carlin DVDs, and anthrax bacteria, in no special order.

I’ll take a whack at this one

Someone in the SB community may have already noted this site. Maybe I even have, but my memory’s not so good as a result of too many years outside the P4CM ranks.
Anyway, it and its videos speak for themselves. As always, the gratuitous caps and homophone confusion are of high caliber (“The Pornography Industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. You can see its affects from Playboy to XXL Magazine to Porn Videos”) and there’s no shortage of people willing to admit to having quit something sinful thanks to God’s grace.

Is war a natural disaster? If you need to hate Obama, it can be

Contentious bazillion-visitor juggernaut that it is, Pharyngula has dozens of nutbags commenting at any given time. Many have their own blogs, and I need to stop following links to these sites.
Here’s a stardard right-wing faithbot bitching about Obama’s fiscal irreponsibility and blaming the ballooning deficit under Bush on congressional Democrats’ hamstringing of the president. A snippet:
“Oddly, hypocritically, we heard about the staggering budget deficits and national debt being all GWBush’s fault –yet congress would not let him reform Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or any other entitlement program. AS YOU CAN’T GET ELECTED BY GORING ANYONE’S OX! RIGHT? They could not cut their earmarks, reduce spending –and some of them like Daschle, couldn’t even pay their taxes! Additionally, as a nation, we were generous beyond belief for all the natural disasters, rebuilding Iraq to better than pre-war infrastructure.”
There you have it, folks. The stimulus bill is tragically unjustified, but the money the U.S. spent in Iraq was money well spent because we helped the Iraqi people overcome the natural disaster that was our own invasion of the country.
None of these people complained about the money being bled away on a very questionable war. I didn’t hear a whimper from them last year when Uncle Sam flat-out handed over $700 billion to a banking industry that was reaping precisely what it had sown.
Now, we don’t know what the net impact of the stimulus package will be, but to write it off as a failure already is farcical. Then again, so are these fundagelical voters’ entire through processes–as with their god, there’s no amount of denial or hypocrisy to great or glaring to cow them. They simply repeat talking points they hear on a limited subset of news channels or from other wingers and proceed in pidgin English as if both deaf and blind.
I’m no economist, by the way, and have no idea how things will pan our under the current administration. But watching these dolts just continue their mad, apologist shuck-and-jive of denial is really something. They really do hate the fact that they lost control of the federal government enough to not even pretend to behave like serious critics; they just spew and pretend as though the liberals were running the whole show under Bush. But it’s a lot more entertaining watching remotely educated people lose it–even when they’re hypocrites–than a nation of pig-eyed lunatics and dark-minded bitterheads.

Misanthropy and a fondness for animals: a connection?

I did a half-assed Internet search on this and came up dry.
By “this” I mean: Do people who have difficulty forming or maintaining relationships with other people develop an unusual fondness for animals? I ask because I’m regularly in contact with people who have frail, frayed, or failed relationships with human beings (above and beyond the norm, you understand) and as a group they seem to harbor a particular fondness for pets–especially whose with which (whom?) one can interact, which basically means dogs. (Not to knock cats, cockateels, gerbils, or turtles, but I think most people would agree that among common pets, dogs are are really the only ones you can “talk to” and retain any sense of reciprocation.)
Actually, the very title of this post is misleading, though I won’t change it since I prefer to shamelessly personalize everything. Misanthropes, by whatever definition, are often able to form stable, mutually compassionate relationships with other people in spite of spiting humanity as a whole, as I know well from my own experience with forming bonds with people that ultimately result in homicidal forms of resentment. Included in the aegis of those who don’t do well with other people are those with various forms of mood disorders, including people with deep depression, derangements involving mania, and so on; members of this group might not hate people, but generally don’t deal well with them.
I propose this mainly because my empathy toward animals seems disproportionate in comparison to that I summon up toward people. I recoil at the idea of abject human suffering, but am, I’m afraid, much less apt to do anything about it than I am when faced with the idea that a random dog or cat is under duress. I see human homelessness as a fact of life, but have a difficult time with the idea of a stray pet wandering around in the cold streets scrounging for food and basic survival.
Why is that? Well, from a blunt and largely irrational personal perspective, I see people as having generated their own circumstances. If they are in trouble or disliked, they have likely invited it. Animals, on the other hand, don’t ask for any of this, and have merely been cast into nothingness as a result of asshole human beings. And there’s a patronizing element, not necessarily a bad one: I can regard animals as so supremely stupid and helpless that I look at them as people with cut-and-dried forms of mental retardation, and can therefore “absolve” them. There’s no self-comparison at all, no sense of “Well, if that were me…”
This stance encompasses both bias and reality, I know. I suppose it makes sense that someone who thinks that people as a group should do better would be more forgiving toward those with literally no choice in things. But this gets at the heart of a deeper idea: Don’t we all need to care about something living?
I suspect that this is the case–that with the exception of genuine psychopaths, everyone needs an outlet for his or her affection and concern. And though I write this post from a glaringly cynical perspective, maybe that speaks to the inborn coolness evolution compels us to embrace.

What is a “midlife crisis” and why should I care?

In contrast to my last five or ten posts, all of which were desultory criticisms of religious belief and inclinations, this one is really bad. It’s all about me, or worse yet, men approaching 40.
In an unusually intense conversation earlier tonight with someone more comfortable with Earth than I am, it was suggested (don’t you love the passive voice?) that I was having a “midlife crisis.”
As usual, I balked at this not so much because of the implications but because of my lack of understanding. I know there is no hard-fast definition of “mid-life crisis,” but it appears fair to ask others for their opinions on the matter. (I refuse to consult Wikipedia just yet.)
See, I always thought this appellation was reserved for men (and men only) approaching 50 who had achieved marriage and career status and had become bored or disillusioned with their real or perceived path in life. And wanted really flashy cars, or a new chick. Put differently, a version of the “empty-nest syndrome” as applied to men, ordinarily not the chief caregivers in the family. Something therefore only applicable to those enjoying a certain SES and relationship status and therefore applicable to people other than, well, me.

Continue reading “What is a “midlife crisis” and why should I care?”

18.95 percent of poll respondents are officially insane

Whereas most of the remainder probably consists of delusional people.
An annoying corollary of news sites that are actually propaganda outlets is that the polls they feature very rarely offer sensible set-ups. This can actually be a tricky thing to accomplish even when the poll source isn’t intent on driving respondents toward a single choice among answers, but when bias is built-in and obligatory, real problems ensue.
This poll asks, “Can one believe the biblical account of creation and still believe in evolution?” Realistically this is a non-starter. Regardless of whether a respondent is a creationist, it is logically impossible to treat either of the Genesis accounts as factual while also accepting evolution. I should not have to explain why this is the case. “Theistic evolutionists” are a sketchy lot in any event, but not treating the Bible as literally true does allow for significant compromises, even if some of these involve risible transmogrifications of scripture en route to some semblance of reconciliation. So anyone who answers “yes” to this question is completely lost.
For what it’s worth, I don’t personally believe that any one religious account meshes with evolution. I can allow for the logical possibility of a creator-deity setting evolution in motion and standing back to watch the chaos unfold, but the failure of individual creation stories tends to give the lie to the idea of any of them being true.
Anyway, had I answered this poll, I would have answered “no,” but not for the reason the vast majority of readers surely did. I would have set up the poll like this:
What are your beliefs about creation and evolution?
A) Creation is true, making evolution a lie
B) Creation is true and the best explanation, but evolution could still be true as well
C) Evolution is true and the best explanation, but creation could still be true as well
C) Evolution is true, making creation false
Even that is unsatisfactory, but beats what the twists came up with,

Sorry, their bad

Pursuant to this, an afterthought:
It’s always struck me that religious traditions are, as far as I know, the only things on behalf of which truth claims are made that require an entirely distinct means of defending those claims–“apologetics.” (I know the word derives from the Greek apologia and is used in other contexts, but I’m referring here to Christian apologetics.) In fact, the word itself cracks me up: “Evidence? Nope, sorry, but we’ve got these mammoth piles of convoluted sophistry instead.”
With other disciplines–supposedly objective ones, that is; I’m leaving aside attempts to persuade in legal, philosophical, even romantic realms–there’s no imperative to develop a means of arguing solely for the sake of winning, by some measure, the argument. When people identify as apologists, it’s an implicit admission that it is their job to convince others that a suspicious-looking proposition with no evidence to support it is in fact true. Even more simply, it’s self-identification as a bullshitter–hell, Christianity makes no pretense at lacking ulterior motives to convince people to sign on.
Nothing profound or unique here, just something that seems funny.

“The glaring errors that pervade all anti-biblical arguments”

I stumbled across this “debate handbook” written by a Christian apologist of the “presuppositionalist” stripe. In a nutshell, these people are far more concerned with winning arguments than they are with entertaining what their opponents have to say, or even with merit. The “presupposition” is simply that the Christian, having God is his side, is right, and all strategy and attitudes appear to flow from this unyielding idea.
Because this is an especially aggressive brand of debating people, and appears to rely even more strongly than usual on intentional obfuscation, those who are fans of it can produce some interesting stuff. For example, here’s the beginning of Part 2 of the manual in question (page 13):

Some of our opponents are outwardly hostile. They might insult us, mock us, and call us names. They regard us as fools, fanatics, and the scum of the earth, and they are not afraid to tell us. Others appear more normal, and they will talk to you about religion seemingly with the same attention and respect that they will show when speaking about serious matters with non-Christians. Then, some appear so polite that they sound patronizing and obnoxious.
However, as long as they are all unbelievers, these are all superficial differences. Many Christians wish to consider their religious discussions with non-Christians as friendly
dialogues between fellow human beings who are both interested in discovering truth
through rational investigations. But this is unbiblical and unrealistic. It is true that many unbelievers appear sincere and courteous, but God looks at the thoughts and intentions of men, and not just their appearance and demeanor.
You might protest that, unlike God, we cannot directly perceive people’s hearts; however, it does not follow that we must therefore judge people according to their appearance. In another context, Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). Indeed, we cannot directly perceive people’s hearts, but we do not need to, because Scripture tells us what is in their hearts. Scripture tells us what God perceives when he looks pass their appearance. When God looks at them, he does not see a group of civilized and educated gentlemen, but he sees a generation of vipers, lewd beasts, stubborn mules, and vicious dogs. He sees a group of morons, idolaters, and Godhaters.
All humans are born sinful and rebellious, and because all unbelievers have never been converted by God, they remain sinful and rebellious, no matter how sincere and
courteous they appear to you. As Christians, we are indeed intellectually and morally
superior, but we are superior only because God has changed us and made us superior by his sovereign grace, and not by our own will or work. We freely admit that we were just
as stupid and evil as our non-Christian opponents, but this does not change the fact that
they are indeed stupid and evil, that their friendly appearance is superficial, and that their gentle speech is insincere.

This is an interesting collection of ideas: non-Christians are shit, Christians are basically shit without God’s help, God hates everyone, and God is cool. It certainly can’t be faulted for false optimism.
The writer, Vincent Cheung, goes on to emphasize the raw grudge-driven nature of his approach:

Continue reading ““The glaring errors that pervade all anti-biblical arguments””

Ten minutes you’ll never get back

This video is essentially a contest to see who can appear more absurd. Norm Geisler is ludicrously unsophisticated, while Brannon Howse is simply a liar (“atheism has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 200 million people”) who, in an amusing if pitiful turn, tries to paint his interlocutor, who can barely speak in complete or coherent sentences, as an expert in both logic and cosmology.

Listen to Geisler’s strategy for turning skeptics’ words against them. He claims that skepticism is a form of certainty in itself and that skeptics therefore make self-defeating arguments. Seriously–that’s the beginning and the end of it; no mention of the value of evidence in arguments and no admitting to, or awareness of, the rank hypocrisy of stipulating “(The Christian) God exists” as a default condition
Every common canard is in there, albeit in tabular form–Second Law of Thermodynamics, “moral law giver,” the fact that the universe exists is evidence for an intelligent designer. Geisler has apparently written 70 books (most likely the same one 70 times) yet both these guys seem unaware that they are supposed to keep mum about the fact that ID creationism is, well, creationism. And I find it very hard to believe that someone capable of this really holds a doctorate degree in philosophy.
This kind of yammering would be an embarrassment to a couple of high-school freshmen giving a class presentation, to say nothing of a couple of adults.