Archive for the “Fuzzy Thinking” Category

Examples of fuzzy thinking, illogic, absurdity, etc.

The End is Not NearI’ve already blogged a couple of times about Christian crank David Meade, who claims a “Biblical prophecy” (bolstered by numerology, pseudoastronomy, solar eclipses, the Egyptian pyramids, Bible codes, and conspiratorialism) predicts “the End of the World” will start this coming Saturday, September 23, 2017. Initially these stories were found only in Rupert Murdoch’s outlets, but many others have picked up this story. Some relay it as breathlessly as Murdoch’s papers, channels, and sites, but others treat it more dismissively (recognizing it as the bullshit it is).

One outlet that dismisses it is Christianity Today, which protested this kind of crap (Archive.Is cached article):

Again, we must deal with fake news. I’ve written on this numerous times before here and here and, undoubtedly, this won’t be the last time.

In this case, it’s making Christians look silly.

Again.

But there it is on the front page of Fox News, “Christian doomsdayers claim world will end next week.”

It’s under the heading “Science.” When you click on it, the article headline proclaims, “Biblical prophecy claims the world will end on Sept. 23, Christian numerologists claim.”

Note, first of all, that CT‘s chief objection to this “Biblical prophecy” is not that it’s all bullshit, predicated on distortions and lies. Oh no. Their initial objection is “it’s making Christians look silly.” Well, duh. Of course it is! It’s making Christians look silly, because this sort of bullshit is entirely consistent with Christianity’s long history of trotting out “prophecies” which are dire scenarios of death and destruction. Arguably, Christianity itself was clearly inspired by 1st century CE apocalyptic Judaism … so the propounding of apocalyptic doom is entirely within its wheelhouse! If Christians don’t want to look silly, they need to alter their religion so it doesn’t lead to this kind of doomsaying, and they need to shut down — and shut up — anyone in their religion who does so.

Yeah I know, good luck with that. Clearly Christians have no desire to do this … hence, if those crankish doomsayers make them look bad, they have no one to blame but themselves for allowing those doomsayers to run amok for the last two millennia.

But on top of that “boo hoo hoo, this crank makes us look bad” whine, CT goes on to explain:

No, the world won’t end on September 23rd and, Fox News, believe it or not, there is no such thing as a ‘Christian numerologist.’

Note the claim at the end of this sentence: “There is no such thing as a ‘Christian numerologist.’” That, unfortunately for CT, is simply not true. There absolutely are “Christian numerologists” because numerology is embedded within the religion.

Consider the significance of certain numbers, in Christian scripture: The numbers 3, 7, and 12 (for example) figure in repeatedly. Adam and Eve had 3 sons, and so did Noah; Jesus was accompanied by 3 apostles in the Transfiguration; Peter denied him 3 times; Jesus was dead 3 days; the world was created in 7 days; the book of Revelation begins with 7 letters to 7 churches of Asia; later in it, there are 7 seals and 7 trumpets; Jacob/Israel had 12 sons who founded 12 tribes; Jesus had 12 apostles; 144,000 (or 12×12) “sons of Israel” appear in Revelation; and on and on it goes. Numbers clearly matter in the Bible. They have metaphorical and metaphysical meaning, on many levels. This inevitably leads to numerological analysis.

What’s more, there’s actually explicit numerology in scripture. Specifically, it’s found in Revelation:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. (Revelation 13:18)

But some early manuscripts say “the number of the Beast” is 616, not 666 (fortunately, some modern Bible translations indicate this). This is hard to make sense of, if one assumes (as many Christians do) that Revelation’s Beast is some future person; but if one is looking for historical figures whom the author of Revelation knew about (it was probably composed in the 90s CE), there’s one obvious candidate that could explain this coincidence. That infamous person’s name, in Greek, when transliterated into Hebrew and rendered using Hebrew gematria, is 666, but his Latin name (also transliterated into Hebrew) becomes 616. That infamous person is none other than the Roman emperor Nero. Nero was said to have persecuted Christians (both Christian and non-Christian authors report it). He is also said to have martyred the apostle Peter. He was, to put it briefly, a common bogeyman among Christians (not wholly unreasonably, it seems). So it makes sense for him to have inspired the figure of “the Beast.”

At any rate, to say there’s no such thing as a Christian numerologist is to assert there was no special use of numbers within Christian tradition, and especially in the Bible — which on its face is foolish. All by itself, “the number of the Beast” is numerology. Period.

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'NASA warns disaster is near as Nibiru heads for Earth' / satire site News4KTLA, via SnopesI just blogged about Christian “prophet” David Meade, who claims “the End of the World” was predicted to happen — by the Bible, the Egyptian pyramids, and a wicked conspiracy, woven together with numerology and assorted screwy pseudoastronomical notions — just under a week from now (on September 23, 2017, to be exact).

Since posting that, I’ve seen stories trumpeting Meade’s asinine and laughable “discovery” that add an additional point to his insane scenario; namely, that he’s supposedly seen actual photos of this “Planet X” (aka Nibiru). The (UK) Sunday Express, for example, reports on this amazing claim (Archive.Is cached article):

Christian conspiracy theorist David Meade, who claims the alleged giant planet Nibiru – which is officially unknown to astronomical science – will pass the Earth causing a global apocalypse in October, says he has been shown secret footage which proves it exists.

Speaking on Late Night in the Midlands, a US conspiracy theory radio show, Mr Meade said: “The sightings are increasing in my opinion.”

He claimed he had spoken to a professor of astronomy in Paris based at a large observatory, who told him Nibiru was real.…

“I’ve seen it and he told me the name of the observatory he has seen it at, and he said he had a secret film of it, which he later sent me.

“He had taken it with his phone and it is an actual photo of the system, he got out of the observatory at a very high level, and he has shared it with me since.

“I have not shared it with the public, but I have seen it.”

He said a fellow conspiracy theorist had also shared a new snap with him.

Mr Meade added: “A colleague of mine recently sent me photo which makes it appear Planet X is currently right over the North Pole.

Meade’s breathless assertion is truly fucking hilarious, and fully in line with how conspiratorialists work. He assures us the photos are “real,” and we can be assured of that, because:

  1. He has seen them (although he won’t release them)
  2. They came from a real, working astronomer (whose name and credentials he won’t disclose)
  3. That astronomer works at a real, working observatory (whose name he likewise won’t disclose)
  4. The existence of these photos was backed up by another conspiratorialist (whom Meade won’t name)

All of this is a steaming load, heaved right out the back of the barn. I will say this outright: Meade is lying. He hasn’t seen the photos he said he saw, and they don’t exist. He made it all up in a desperate effort to bolster his fucking ridiculous scenario and sell more books before his “Biblical prophecy” proves false, this coming Saturday.

I’ll conclude this post by repeating what I’ve said for many years now: “Biblical prophecy” is bullshit. Fraudulent. Lies. All of it, all the time, everywhere, every time, without exception. There is, simply put, no such thing as a valid “Biblical prophecy.” It. Does. Not. Exist. Period.

Photo credit: Satire site News4KTLA, via Snopes.

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Sumerian seal / via Doug's DarkworldIf you pay any attention to Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlets, then by now you’ve come across a report or two about how the world is going to end this September 23. Perhaps the most alarming and expansive of those reports comes from the (UK) Sun, but similar stories are on most of Murdoch’s sites (Archive.Is cached article):

DOOMSDAY could be sooner than you think if you are to believe conspiracy theorists claiming a planet will collide with Earth on September 23, 2017.

Bible passages apparently supporting a centuries’ old prediction of the end of the world have intrigued many around the world – but what’s it all about?

A Christian numerologist claims a verse in the Bible proves that the world will end on September 23.

In Luke’s passage 21: 25 to 26, there is a quote which apparently matches the date of the Great American Solar Eclipse, when Hurricane Harvey hit and when Texas was flooded.

September 23 was pinpointed using codes from the Bible and also a “date marker” shown by the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

This alarming report goes on … and on and on and on … from there. This is just idiotic, maddening bullshit.

Christian “prophet” David Meade’s scenario checks off all the requisite points of pseudoastronomy, pseuodohistory, and “End Times” caterwauling. It has Bible verses, Nibiru aka Planet X, numerology, solar eclipses, the Egyptian pyramids, and Bible codes, among many other features. It’s as though Meade used the shotgun approach, trying to weave every crackpot feature he could think of, into his “prophecy.”

But none of that matters, because as I said, it’s all bullshit. First, there is no Nibiru or Planet X. It was cooked up by the late crackpot pseudohistorian Zechariah Sitchin, of The Twelfth Planet fame. Sitchin’s scenario is a brazen lie.

Second, numerology is bullshit, plain and simple. There’s nothing behind it — period. Nor is there any veracity in any “Bible codes.”

Third, there’s nothing magical or supernatural about the Egyptian pyramids. And yes, in fact we do know how the pyramids were built … and humans did it, not gods or extraterrestrials. There’s also nothing magical or supernatural about eclipses. We know how they happen … and again, neither gods nor aliens have anything to do with them.

But lastly, what really makes this “Bible prophecy” bullshit, is that it’s “Bible prophecy”! As I covered in my static page on the subject, all Biblical prophecies are rotten, stinking lies. Every last one of them: All the time, every time, by definition and with no exceptions.

Sure, believers can produce all kinds of scriptural passages that they say predict the future. Most of these are interpretations, usually extracted via convoluted analysis, and employing lots of cherry-picking. The real problem with it all, as I explain, is that the Bible simply can’t be used this way. As it turns out, it contains at least one specific, explicit prediction of the future, which absolutely failed to come true, and is recorded in all three synoptic gospels (emphasis mine):

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (Mk 9:1)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

Almost two millennia have passed since Jesus supposedly said that, and all those people to whom he said it have been dead almost as long; yet “the kingdom of God” has not come (“with power” or without). Jesus’ prediction literally cannot ever possibly come true.

If an explicit prediction — which doesn’t require any analysis or interpretation — has failed so obviously, then how can the rest of the Bible be viewed as a credible source of “prophecy”?It just doesn’t work. Period. End of discussion.

Note: This the first of two posts about this “prophecy.” The crank who cooked it up is still desperately trying to sell his book before it’s proven false by his “prophecy’s” impending failure. So if you want more laughs, read on!

Photo credit: Doug’s Darkworld.

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Vatican flag (8583012024)The Roman Catholic Church obviously has a major problem. It’s been decades in the making, and has been on the front burner of occidental society for going on 20 years now. But it doesn’t seem to go away … because Church personnel just won’t stop doing shit they know they’re not supposed to do.

The latest case doesn’t involve abuse of children by a priest … but it’s close. As the New York Times reports, the Vatican has recalled one of their diplomats from their Washington Embassy due to kiddie porn (Archive.Is cached article):

The Vatican has recalled a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat in the Holy See’s embassy in Washington after American authorities sought to strip his immunity and potentially charge him with possession of child pornography, the Vatican said Friday.

In a statement, the Vatican said that it had been notified by the State Department on Aug. 21 of “a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by a member of its diplomatic corps.

The Vatican said the priest would face an investigation and potential trial in Vatican City. But some critics saw in the Vatican’s move a reflexive step to protect its own by whisking a priest away from a justice system in a foreign land.

The statement did not identify the cleric, but Italian news media reports and an American official familiar with the investigation said it was Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, who was ordained in Milan in 1993 and entered the diplomatic corps in 2004. He has also worked as a diplomat in Hong Kong and as the Holy See’s liaison to Italy.

The article suggests this is standard practice for diplomats accused of crimes, but let’s be honest here: It fully coincides with the well-worn, and well-known, Church policy of vacuuming up clergy accused of wrongdoing and shuffling them off someplace else. The Times relates a story of another Vatican diplomat — an archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, nuncio to the Dominican Republic — who was similarly brought back to Vatican City and was supposed to have been “tried” for his crimes, only to die (conveniently) before that trial. I expect something similar to happen in this case; it will languish in the bowels of the Vatican Curia long enough for the just-recalled diplomat to die or to become so old or infirm that he ends up never being tried. Guaranteed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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‘Terrorism is still terrorism … even if your God does it!’ / PsiCop original graphicGiven the wave of similar stories I’ve blogged about the last couple weeks, I just created a static page dedicated to the topic I call “disaster theology” (and the closely-related “massacre theology”). This is when some sanctimoniously-outraged religionist declares that some catastrophe was caused — or permitted to happen — by their all-powerful deity, who’s pissed off about something.

In the US, this is a common refrain among Christianists and the Religious Right. Just recently, for example, they told us that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were caused by the expansion of gay rights in the US. Previously, all sorts of terrible events — the earthquake in Haiti, massacres in Newtown, CT and in Aurora, CO, and much more — have been attributed to God being outraged over something.

The unstated assumption behind all this, as I’ve remarked, is that the Almighty inflicts destruction and death wantonly on people (the innocent and guilty alike) in order to get them to do what s/he/it wants (or, perhaps more importantly, whatever the religionist promoting this notion wants). In other words, it assumes God is an almighty cosmic terrorist … no different, really, from all sorts of other terrorists we’ve heard about over the last couple decades.

I find it difficult to believe that any rational person would want to venerate and worship a being they obviously believe to be this horrific and malevolent. It defies reason to wish to do so. Only irrational people could actually support such a being — angry, nasty people who have no morals to speak of. It’s disturbing to live in a country where this sort of malevolent-deity worshipper is this common. In fact, it’s downright scary.

P.S. Given what his/her/its followers commonly believe about him/her/it, it’s not really all that difficult to conclude that the Abrahamic God is actually a malevolent being.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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WTC smoking on 9-11Update: Since I first posted this, another instance of Moore’s “massacre theology” has come to light; please see below.

I’ve blogged a few times already about Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore, who’s famous for having been thrown off that state’s Supreme Court twice for judicial misconduct, as a result of his dour and angry Christofascism.

Never one to be ashamed of anything he says he does in the name of his Jesus, Moore is running for US Senate this year. So far, he’s doing very well — which shouldn’t be surprising, Alabamans sure love their Christofascists.

During a speech in a church (where else?) earlier this year, as CNN reports, Moore engaged in some disaster theology (Archive.Is cached article):

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested earlier this year that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God.

Moore, a hardline conservative running against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff primary race, made the comments in February during a speech at the Open Door Baptist Church, a video reviewed by CNN’s KFile shows.…

“Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance,'” Moore said, quoting Isaiah 30:12-13. Then he added: “Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn’t it?”

Moore, continued, “If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”

Later in the same speech, Moore suggested God was upset at the United States because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”

CNN goes on to explain that Moore is hardly the first militant Christianist to play this particular game. Rather famously, the late Jerry Falwell and Marion “Pat” Robertson did so, just a couple days after the attacks (cached). And Moore himself had previously said the same thing.

The tendency of sanctimonious religionists to use catastrophes in this way, claiming they’re God’s way of getting people to do what they (the religionist, that is) wants, is truly hideous. Essentially they’re admitting their deity is nothing more than a cosmic terrorist — no different, really, than the terrorist who struck London earlier today (cached). I’m not sure why people actually want to worship a cosmic terrorist, and not only give in to his/her/its demands themselves, but force the rest of humanity to do so as well — but clearly they do.

And that, I’m afraid, is the problem here. This kind of talk is only going to help Moore’s campaign for Senate. There are a ton of people in Alabama, as well as the rest of the country, who love hearing that their deity is an almighty cosmic terrorist, and who will conclude that Moore is a righteous and holy man for having said so. We live in a dangerous country, folks. Very dangerous!

Update: CNN’s Kfile continued delving into Moore’s past material, and uncovered another example of his raging “massacre theology” (cached):

“We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I’m standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I’m telling you we’re losing the acknowledgment of God,” Moore said, before reciting several verses from the Old Testament book of Hosea that deal with lack of knowledge of God.

“You wonder why we’re having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it,” Moore said. “We’ve taken God out of everything. We’ve taken prayer out of school, we’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Moore lies, of course, when he says that “we’ve taken God out of everything.” No such thing has happened —
anywhere in the US. There’s still plenty of God all over the country. And he fucking well knows it, too. (Hat tip for this update: Friendly Atheist.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Leah Remini & her Emmy / David Crotty, Patrick McMullan/Getty Images, via PeoplePardon me, Dear Reader, for taking the time to rectify a major omission. I haven’t mentioned Scientology or “dianetics” (which is its core) in quite some time. And it shouldn’t have gone so long below my radar.

It’s not as though the Church of Scientology and its minions haven’t been up to no good, all this time. Oh no. Just a month ago, The Hollywood Reporter revealed yet more forged court orders directing Web search engines to purge themselves of links to sites and pages critical of its Narconon* wing (Archive.Is cached article). No, CoS is still up to its usual shenanigans, and likely will continue to be, for quite some time.

I’d just like to point out that ex-Scientologist Leah Remini’s anti-Scientology series — which just started its second season — won an Emmy award (for Outstanding Information Series), as People magazine reports (cached):

On Saturday night, Leah Remini won her first Emmy for her A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Remini, 47, teared up as she accepted her award at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.…

Back in the press room, Remini told reporters about how moving the experience of winning was — and how the award doesn’t really belong to her.

“Well, it’s — as an actress, you always want to get an Emmy nomination or win an Emmy and as you get a little older you realize what’s really important and you are exposed to stories like this,” Remini said. “It becomes more about doing the right thing and so it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to our heroes and so it’s so much more fulfilling.”

Remini called her contributors “heroes” is because many of them face harassment by CoS. If you doubt that CoS is capable of destroying people, look no further than “Operation Freakout,” a plot in which they framed author Paulette Cooper, who’d written a magazine article and then a book critical of Scientology, for a felony (cached). She only got out from under this due to another CoS plot, “Operation Snow White,” in which CoS agents tried to remove unflattering information about CoS from government files. The thefts of some documents was discovered, CoS offices were raided, and documents found there laid bare the whole scheme to destroy Ms Cooper (cached). Some CoS personnel (including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of founder Lafayette Ronald aka “L. Ron” Hubbard) were jailed, and the “Fair Game” policy which had spawned both “operations” was ostensibly rescinded.

But CoS still hounds anyone who crosses them. And for years they’ve worked to purge the Internet of anything unflattering about CoS or “dianetics.” Fortunately, that hasn’t entirely worked … in spite of things like fraudulent court orders (as I mentioned).

At any rate, I’m glad to see Ms Remini’s series was renewed, and has been getting good ratings. Hers is hardly the first exposé of Scientology’s excesses … there’s been no shortage of articles, books, or documentaries on the subject, going back almost to CoS’s origins. But this is, arguably, the highest-profile production of its kind. She’s shining a brighter light on the fetid swamp of Scientology than it has ever had to endure. Let’s hope it leads to meaningful changes, or better yet, to the destruction of CoS.

P.S. CoS only has itself to blame for having made Ms Remini their enemy. She has said her exit from Scientology was chiefly triggered by the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige, CoS agent and wife of its leader David Miscavige. Ms Remini had asked about Ms Miscavige’s whereabouts, and was harassed by CoS personnel because she’d asked about her (cached).

*Note: Even though it looks like a shortened version of its name, Narconon isn’t connected in any way with Narcotics Anonymous or NA. Both programs are bullshit, of course; Narconon is based on “dianetics,” while NA is a religion-based 12-step program.

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