Archive for the “Fuzzy Thinking” Category

Examples of fuzzy thinking, illogic, absurdity, etc.

Dr. Oz at ServiceNation 2008I’ve blogged a couple times about the woo and nonsense spewed by the famous “Friend of Oprah” Dr Mehmet Oz. The insipid nonsense he reels off has been questioned both by journalists and by US Senators. But he’s been able to keep his TV show and his jobs at Columbia University … feathers in his cap which grant him more apparent credibility than he deserves (WebCite cached article). The Associated Press reports a number of physicians have petitioned Columbia to remove him due to his pseudomedical advice (cached):

Columbia University has not removed TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz from his faculty position as a group of top doctors has demanded, citing his “egregious lack of integrity” for promoting what they call “quack treatments.”

“Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” said a letter the 10 physicians sent to a Columbia dean earlier this week. They say he’s pushing “miracle” weight-loss supplements with no scientific proof that they work.…

The doctors wrote that Oz, for years a world-class Columbia cardiothoracic surgeon, “has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” They said he has “misled and endangered” the public.

But Columbia clearly has no problem with one of its faculty peddling pseudoscience and gibberish, and refuse to heed this petition:

The New York Ivy League school responded Thursday, issuing a statement to The Associated Press saying only that the school “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.”

Yes, Columbia University thinks “academic freedom” is a license to dole out lies and misinformation. I don’t see those in any definition of the phrase that I’ve been able to find, but they’re the ones who run an ivory tower, so I have to assume they know more about it than I — or the doctors who signed the petition — do.

Let’s face it, the man makes a shitload of money and has a daily nationally-syndicated TV show; he probably attracts a lot of attention for the college. That must be a lot more important than valid science.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Note: There’s been more news about this; see below.

Bill O’Reilly is one of those sanctimoniously-outraged Religious Right nutbags who, sometimes, I think can’t possibly actually believe the lunacy, stupidity, and childishness he spews. Every year, for example, he blusters and fumes about a putative “war on Christmas” that he claims exists, but which most certainly is not happening — no matter how often he or any other furious Christianist insists otherwise. I fail to see how someone could actually believe there truly is an effort underway to outlaw Christmas in the US.

But recently the Billster ran up against one of his own Fox colleague and fellow Rightist (though not of the religious sort) John Stossel, and as Raw Story and other outlets explain, O’Reilly inadvertently revealed the depth of his insanity (WebCite cached article):

Self-avowed “secularist” John Stossel challenged Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday, arguing that the Factor host was overstating his allegations that Christianity was under attack in the U.S.

“Your ‘war on Christianity,’ you’re just a 10-foot-tall crybaby,” Stossel told O’Reilly. “It’s not so bad. Christians aren’t being killed.”

“Not yet,” O’Reilly replied.

“Not in America, and they’re not going to be,” Stossel countered.

“They’re verbally being killed,” O’Reilly insisted. Stossel scoffed in response, asking, “So what?”

In case you find it difficult to believe a grown adult could reel out something this asinine, here’s video of their exchange, courtesy of Media Matters:

Now, I’m not precisely a fan of Stossel. He’s far too close to the Teabaggers for my taste. Yeah, he was once a talented investigative reporter for ABC News, but that was long ago; since then he’s made himself into a corporatist shill. Even so, I appreciate that he stood up for secularism and was willing to call his own colleague on the carpet for his religionist lies. So thanks, Mr Stossel!

It’s true that Christians are, in fact, being persecuted in other parts of the world, which makes it all the more obscene that the Billster would dare equate their tribulations — which are very real, to the point of sometimes being lethal — with US Christians merely feeling “persecuted” because they’re not always obeyed, by claiming American Christians are being “verbally killed.”

I mean, seriously … “verbally killed”? Really, Bill!?

As for “respect,” that’s a two-way street. It can’t be demanded of someone — not any more, anyway. These aren’t ancient or medieval times when monarchs would order people hacked to death for failing to kneel quickly enough before them. Christians have no right to stomp around and dole out orders with the expectation those orders will automatically be obeyed out of “respect” which they think is owed them by virtue of their beliefs. To presume so is childish and needs to fucking stop already.

As I’ve mentioned many times previously, I understand what’s happening here. I get why Billy-boy wants to think he’s being persecuted for Jesus. It’s because a desire to be martyred is embedded deep within the psychopathology of his religion. He and his fellow Christianists really and truly can’t help themselves. They want to feel persecuted, so in the US, which is majority-Christian and therefore there is no persecution of Christians, he and they are required to invent it. The problem comes about when they try to impose their self-delusion on other people and punish them for something they haven’t done. It just doesn’t work, because rational thinkers know this delusional thinking for what it is, and don’t subscribe to it. The Billster and other Christianists can stamp and fume and screech and holler until they’re blue in the face, but no amount of them claiming to be persecuted can ever make them actually persecuted.

Honestly, it’s long past time for the Billster and his fellow Christofascists to fucking grow the hell up already and start living in the real world … in which “respect” is earned, not demanded or coerced.

Update: The Billster did precisely what any crazed paranoid lunatic would do, after being called out as a crazed paranoid lunatic: He doubled down on his persecutorial delusion, declaring that white men like him are “under siege” and about to be wiped out (cached).

Photo credit: Based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist, Salon, RationalWiki, and many more.

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Grundy Cty High School / WCRB-TVThe problem of Christofascists imposing their religion on public school kids is an old one. It continues, especially in the South, in spite of court decisions like Engel v Vitale (1962) and Abington SD v Schempp (1963).

Let’s face it, people who are fanatic enough tend not to fucking care whether their desire to impress their religious beliefs on other people is legal or not. All they’re aware of is their rabid impulse to spread the gospel — which, they fantasize, no on else on earth could ever possibly have heard before. And when these fanatics are thwarted, they don’t take it well. The latest example of this, as WCRB-TV in Chattanooga TN reports, illuminates this tendency quite clearly:

“Bible Man” is known as a staple in Grundy County Schools. His name is Horace Turner, and he’s been visiting there for decades. But now his visits are raising legal red flags.

National groups warn that his message is unconstitutional. Many local supporters are fighting to keep his mission alive. But not everyone is comfortable with “Bible Man” in the classroom.

“We don’t want people to be mad, we just want people to make sure there’s an alternative something for the kids to do,” said one Grundy County mom. She didn’t want to be identified for fear of community backlash for her non-Christian views.

She said Bible Man’s religious convocations at her son’s school were uncomfortable. They included religious teachings like songs and Baby Jesus displays. Their family is Atheist.

“At first he did not know that he didn’t have to go,” she said. “As he got older, it bothered him that he had to sit through this because it’s not his religion.”

The good folk at WCRB helpfully tried to make it seem as though this unconstitutional practice was just fine:

Bible Man has been visiting Grundy County Schools for nearly 40 years without any problems, until recently.

The problem with that defense, of course, is that just because something has been done — even for a very long time — cannot and will never automatically make it right or legal. To think so is to fall for an appeal to tradition, and it’s fallacious. This ought to be glaringly obvious: For instance, for thousands of years, humanity thought the earth was at the center of a universe only a few thousand miles in diameter. We now know this not to be the case. Are we to dispense with modern astronomical science, because it conflicts with thousands of years of tradition? Of course not!

But really, all of this is an old story. As I said, Christianists hammering their Jesus into public schools is old news in many parts of the country. That it was happening in Grundy county, TN is unsurprising at best. The real point of this story, though, is this:

While the concerned mom says she’s glad it’s being addressed, she still worries about the lack of acceptance for those who don’t support Bible Man.

She points to threats made on Facebook against her child that include pictures of a burning house.

“We just can’t get over how much hate there is in their loving, Christian hearts,” she said.

Ah yes. There we have it. “Christian love” at its finest: Threatening people. Indeed, this is the “religion of love” doing what it does best — demanding deference, if not abject surrender, from everyone and everything else, and launching into full-bore sanctimonious rage when it doesn’t get it.

I can’t think of a finer example of the utter failure of Christianity to live up to its own professed ideals. Can it really be the divine religion its followers say it is? I can’t see how. It just doesn’t work.

All I can say to you Christianists is: By all means, please keep up your whining, bellyaching, sniveling and threatening! I can’t think of any better way for you keep showing — for the entire world to see — what’s really wrong with your fierce, dour religionism.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: WCRB-TV.

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baby cryingPope Francis is, in a lot of ways, refreshing. As I’ve noted a number of times, he frequently walks to the beat of a different drummer. Sometimes he steps on the toes of his own Church, but other times it’s someone else he pisses off. The latest example is of this latter sort. This past weekend, as CNN and many other outlets report, he dared refer to the Armenian Genocide which kicked off in 1915, a century ago now (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis risked Turkish anger on Sunday by using the word “genocide” to refer to the mass killings of Armenians a century ago under the Ottoman Empire.

“In the past century, our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies,” the Pope said at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacres.…

His use of the term genocide — even though he was quoting from the declaration — upset Turkey.

The nation recalled its ambassador to the Vatican for “consultations” just hours after Francis’ comments, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Earlier, Turkey summoned the ambassador from the Vatican for a meeting, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.

As a matter of national policy, Turkey has denied the Armenian Genocide since it occurred, and never tolerates anyone suggesting it did happen. Not only do they deny the word “genocide” applies (using any number of specious, convoluted semantic arguments to do so), they’ve downplayed each and every specific aspect of this atrocity, making it seem as though it was “no big deal,” that not many people were killed, and some of the Armenians killed had rebelled, and that some Turks were killed, too. Note that most of these arguments resemble those used by Holocaust deniers, who are similarly fact-deprived and deluded.

Turkey was so angry over this, that country recalled its ambassador to the Vatican over this … as though this were some kind of meaningful event. If I were Pope Francis, I’d say, “Good riddance! Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!” Perhaps it’s appropriate that the Turks used this childish tactic; the Vatican pulled the same stunt a few years ago, recalling their nuncio to Ireland after Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny criticized the Holy See after the Cloyne Report‘s release.

At any rate, it’s long past time the Turks grew up, accepted what happened a century ago, and admit their ancestors tried to wipe out the Armenian people. There’s no reason for them not to own up to it; after all, 100 years later, no one who took part in this genocide is still alive to be tried for “crimes against humanity.” If Canada could apologize for the residential school system, and if the U.S. could apologize to Hawai’ians for seizing their kingdom, then Turkey certainly can grow up, suck it up, admit the truth of its own past, and stop childishly denying historical reality.

Photo credit: e OrimO, via Flickr.

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Idaho Capitol BuildingAmerican Neocrusaders continue to obsess over the idea that what they call shari’a law” will be imposed on the US in the very near future. Toward that end, they repeatedly contrive all sorts of maneuvers they think will protect them from Islamic law’s relentless creep into American life. That they don’t even know what shari’a is, that it’s not uniformly recognized by all Muslims, or that no religion’s law-code can ever be forced on Americans against their will, isn’t enough to dissuade them. They’ve gone as far as to enact state constitutional amendments forbidding it, which is every bit as ridiculous and extreme as it sounds.

But they also use lesser measures to throw hurdles in its path. One of the latest examples of this comes from the Idaho state legislature. On top of the inherent ridiculousness of trying to prevent a form of law from being enacted which can’t ever be enacted here, as the Boise Weekly reports, Christianists there actually derailed productive and effective legislation (WebCite cached article):

A bill that would have helped Idaho track and enforce child support payments stalled Friday in the House Judiciary and Rules Committee over concerns that it would allow Sharia law into the U.S. Court system.

Senate Bill 1067 [cached] would have brought Idaho up to date with federal regulations, allowing the Gem State to use the government’s system for tracking and enforcing child support payments.

The Christianists’ objection has something to do with the fact that this bill would align Idaho with federal law, which recognizes the Hague Conventions, to which the US is a party. This, apparently, is the mechanism by which “shari’a law” would be imposed on Idaho:

Amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act include agreements with the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Family Maintenance, which has among its members Muslim-majority countries such as Bosnia and Albania.

That was enough for [GOP state Rep. Sheryl] Nuxoll and others to see an inroad for Sharia law into Idaho’s justice system.

Quoted by the Associated Press [cached], Nuxoll told House committee members, “There is no specific language in the bill that would protect the rights of those dealing with parentage, child support and support orders from a foreign country that would contradict our laws here. There are other countries listed in the treaty—France, Belgium— that have recognized Sharia courts as quasi-courts. So I just feel that you should be aware of those facts.”

The problem with the failure of this bill is that the state of Idaho will remain hamstrung in its efforts to recover back child support from delinquent parents. All because a bunch of delusional Christofascist wingnuts think passing it will lead to shari’a law in Idaho. What a fucking joke. Well done, Christianists! You must be so proud of yourselves! You protected your state from an affliction that can never come its way. My hat’s off to all of you for that major accomplishment.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Lake of Fire by BenRR / via DeviantArtHere’s something that’s not surprising, way down south in the Bible Belt Bobble Bayelt state of Mississippi. As the Biloxi Sun Herald explains, a judge there assigns Bible essays to youthful offenders (WebCite cached article):

Judge Albert Fountain offers youths found with alcohol an offer most don’t refuse.

In part, they must write him a 1,000-word essay in order to to keep the conviction off their records and avoid hefty costs.

They can write the entire essay about the effects of alcohol, but Fountain recommends they give him 500 words each on that and on the Book of Revelation, one of the most feared books in the Bible.

This is such an obvious violation of separation of church and state, that I can’t see why a sitting judge could even be allowed to get away with it. Then again, this is Christocratic Mississippi … where little things like the First Amendment just aren’t all that important.

The good judge claims there’s no force involved:

“I don’t force them to do it. It’s their choice.”

However, as explained in the article, there actually is force involved:

Those who accept the plea offer must hand over their driver’s license for 10 days and maintain good behavior, and are placed on 90 days of non-reporting probation. The case is then non-adjudicated and it stays off their record.

Those who don’t accept the offer are fined $500, ordered to pay a state assessment of $155.75 and lose their license for 90 days. And the conviction stands as a misdemeanor record.

So these kids have a choice: Write the essay, and skate on the charges; or not write the essay, and be punished (in not just one, but three different ways). To say there’s no coercion here is a clear lie on the judge’s part. That places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Why Revelation, one might ask? Because, as the judge himself admits, it’s the most terrifying book of the Bible:

“When they read Revelation, they can’t help but think about what we’re heading for in the future if we don’t do the right thing,” Fountain said.

“I’ve had them come back with tears in their eyes,” he said.

“They tell me it’s a scary book to read. I can’t force them to do it, but all I can do is plant a seed.”

Yep, that’s good old-fashioned Christian psychological terror: “Say, do, and believe what we order you to … or you’ll BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!” Of course, neither Judge Fountain, nor the rest of his fellow Christofascists, see this as a problem. They’re willing to say and do anything in order to make “believers” out of others. They truly think the end justifies the means. As long as they’re saving souls for their precious Jesus, nothing else is important … even brazenly violating the Constitution, then lying about it, are acceptable for this sort of militant Christianist.

Photo credit: BenRR, via DeviantArt.

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Christian Right Propaganda Posters / This is the enemy: Godless Sodomites are Enemies of Christianity & the Bible. Photo Credit: Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: Northwestern UniversityNote: There have been a few updates on this. See below.

Indiana is poised to make discrimination against gays legal. As the Indianapolis Star reports, that state’s legislature just passed SB 101, which will do precisely that (WebCite cached article):

Controversial religious freedom legislation that could protect business owners who don’t want to provide services for same-sex couples is poised to become law in Indiana.

The Republican-controlled Indiana House approved the measure Monday on a 63-31 vote, largely along party lines. Five Republicans joined 26 Democrats in opposing the bill.

The vote likely clears a path for the hot-button legislation to become law. The Senate already approved a slightly different version of the bill last month and Senate author Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said he plans to concur with the House version, possibly later this week.

The bill will then go to Gov. Mike Pence, who said Monday he plans to sign the legislation.

Once this law is passed, it will grant relief to a large number of militant Indiana Christianists, because until now they’ve been deathly afraid of catching gay cooties or something. Now, they’re free to treat gays as non-human or even non-existent. Woo hoo! What freedom that must be!

It looks as though this law is going to cost Indiana, though. They stand to lose a couple of conventions over it: the annual gaming convention Gen Con (cached), as well as the 2017 Disciples of Christ convention (cached). I don’t expect either of these will make the Christofascists in Indianapolis change their minds, but it will cost businesses a lot of money (especially the annual Gen Con). I haven’t quite figured out why Christianists are so willing to pay this price, just to not have to deal with gays.

Update: Governor Mike Pence did sign this bill; it’s now law in Indiana (cached). His position — ridiculously enough — is that the principles in this law are already the law of the land (he said, according to federal law and the state constitution). That only leads to the obvious question of why this law was even needed in the first place. To date, neither Pence nor anyone else has summoned the courage to explain this.

Also, the pushback against Indiana has begun: The well-known could-computing company Salesforce will terminate its activities in Indiana (cached). Actor George Takei has called for a general boycott of the state, as well (cached). Obviously, neither of these is going to help much. The militant Christianists who enacted this law are not going to be influenced by vile “Left Coast” CEOs or gay actors. If anything, this sort of pushback is likely only to further convince them they’re right, because — in their minds — these are merely agents of the very same Forces of Darkness who’ve been persecuting them relentlessly for centuries. They can’t break free from their “Christian martyr complex” because it’s embedded within the psychopathology of their religion. The bottom line is, they think their Jesus outlawed homosexuality (which he absolutely did not do; homosexuality is not mentioned even once in any of the gospels); they think treating gays as sub-human is a way for them to worship their deity; and they’re not going to stop hating teh gayz — not for any reason.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: Northwestern University.

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