Archive for the “Fuzzy Thinking” Category

Examples of fuzzy thinking, illogic, absurdity, etc.

Clocks / Santi Villamarín, via FlickrSomething I’ve blogged about over the years is the insane con-job which is daylight saving time. As I’ve said many times, it’s a fraudulent scheme. Nothing you’ve ever been told about it is true — not one single fucking thing. It’s a ridiculous twice-annual exercise that accomplishes nothing useful.

About a year ago I mentioned that the nearby (to me!) commonwealth of Massachusetts was considering changing time zones, in a way that would eliminate daylight saving time altogether and improve timekeeping there. Well, as The Republican of Springfield, MA reports, that suggestion just advanced a tiny bit (Archive.Is cached article):

A commission looking at changing Massachusetts’ time zone voted Wednesday to approve a report that recommends moving to year-round daylight savings time — but only if a majority of other northeastern states do as well.

“I don’t think we can do it Massachusetts alone,” said Tom Emswiler, a health advocate living in Quincy who convinced lawmakers to study the issue and sat on the commission. “We need to find a majority of New England states, we have to go to the federal government to ask. There’s still a number of steps left in the process.”…

The shift would keep Massachusetts year-round on the same time it uses in the spring, summer and fall. This would, for example, both boost shopping and lower street crime by giving people an extra hour of daylight after work, the report found. It could reduce workplace injuries around the time of the spring clock change.

Being on DST year-round would have the effect of putting Massachusetts on Atlantic Standard Time year-round. It would also have the same clock it currently does, eight months of the year. Only the winter months would be different — and since daylight is more precious then, it’d have a profoundly beneficial effect.

I hope Massachusetts — and my home state of Connecticut, and the rest of New England — makes this move. It’s for the best … and would relieve us of the ridiculous game of changing clocks twice a year. So what if the rest of the country doesn’t follow suit? They shouldn’t have to. Let us match our clocks match the sun’s position, and let them do the same for themselves.

Photo credit: Santi Villamarín, via Flickr.

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'Trail of Terror in the Manhattan Truck Attack' / Source: Aerial image by Google, via the New York TimesIt’s taken a long time — over 16 years, to be exact — but yesterday, the “Religion of Peace” finally managed a terror attack in New York City. The New York Times reports on this cowardly maneuver (Archive.Is cached article):

A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.

The rampage ended when the motorist — whom the police identified as [name redacted], 29 — smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.

Note, I edited out the name of the perp because I don’t think he should get any publicity than he already will. What makes this attack unusual is that the attacker survived and will be put on trial; in the past most of these “lone wolf” Islamoterrorists have ended up dead, either shot by police or by their own hands.

I’m sure all the country’s Neocrusaders (that’s my term for Americans who want Islam abolished in the US) are jumping for joy at this. It will — they think! — add fuel to their movement, and provide evidence — they think! — that Islam is too inherently dangerous to permit here. They do this because they view detrimental aspects of Islam, including the existence of radical, militant Muslims, as a “plus” for their own religion, which in most cases is fundamentalist Christianity. They purposely ignore that there is such a thing as domestic, Christian-inspired terror, too. Eradicating Islam from the US will not prevent terror — not even close!

By the same token, having posted this story, I’m sure I’ll get correspondence from someone who accuses me of being “Islamophobic.” As though mentioning such events, as well as the existence of radical, militant Muslims, somehow makes me a Neocrusading racist, myself. Sigh.

Photo credit: Google, via the New York Times.

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Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517, by Ferdinand Pauwels [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsToday is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, Germany is celebrating “Reformation Day” as a holiday (Archive.Is cached article).

The history of Luther, his Theses, and the resulting schism — which continues to this day and is as entrenched as ever — is well known. The point of the Augustinian monk’s protest was to criticize the sale of indulgences. These are ways of reducing the time one must spend in Purgatory, after death, atoning for sins before reaching Heaven. It wasn’t indulgences Luther objected to per se, but rather, the Church’s sale of them.

This objection led to Luther, and others (including his friend Philip Melanchthon, who arguably was Luther’s intellectual superior and had more to do with the direction Luther’s movement would later take) to differ from the Church on more topics than just the sale of indulgences. Among the more important of these were the so-called Five Solas, declaring that salvation came from 5 interconnected sources — none of which was the Church itself or any of its personnel. The Christian didn’t need a priest, a church, or anything of the sort.

This approach to Christianity knocked the theological legs of the Church right out from under it, rendering it useless. Those who disliked the Church and competed with it for power, certainly found this sort of thinking attractive. Luther and Melanchthon made their reform movement more appealing to the numerous princes in Germany by advocating nationalizing Church treasuries within each realm. Many of them ultimately signed on, and effectively became heads of both church and state within their domains. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII of England would follow a similar philosophy in seizing control of the English Church.

But for all that came of the movement Luther launched (and for which Melanchthon, then John Calvin became the chief proponents, along with many other reformers like Ulrich Zwingli), what’s forgotten are the reformers who came before Luther and had raised similar issues themselves. Perhaps the most important of these was Jan Hus, executed for his “heresy” just over a century before Luther posted his “95 Theses,” who in turn had been inspired by John Wycliffe of England. The ideas of both these men actually continued on, through Luther’s time, and even beyond. Hus’s movement led to the establishment of a separate organization (i.e. the Moravian Church), which still exists.

And these, in turn, had forebears in the Waldenses of France in the late 12th century. Church reforms, you see, were not new. Some reform movements were internal, taking place within and inside the Church, such as the Cluniac reforms, the rise of the mendicant orders, etc.

It is true that the Church’s power was broken by the onset of the Reformation sparked by Luther’s protest, but the stage had been set for him, already, by others. What’s more, the Church had, by then, already undermined itself and its credibility as an institution, e.g. the Great Western Schism and its other attempts at meddling in European politics, like Boniface VIII’s issuance of Unam Sanctam. It’s possible to make too much of what Luther did, and to fail to realize that it’s the inherent irrationality and uncertainty of the many precepts of Christianity which helped the Church grow in power and become mighty in the first place, then to collapse as an institution subsequently as European Christendom fractured into many competing sects.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Jack-o-lantern Pumpkins, via PubliDomainPictures.NetFolks my age will remember the panics that kicked up, back in the ’70s and ’80s, about trick-or-treat candy being tampered with at Halloween. Either they were injected with poison or drugs, or had razor blades shoved in them. Every year, the media ran stories about this “danger” and advised parents to check their kids’ Halloween candy (as though the average parent would be able to easily detect any sabotage). That this annual scare was an urban legend with no basis in truth, didn’t matter; reporting on this danger was a reliable annual affair.

Over the last few years, with several states permitting the sale of marijuana, including what are called “edibles” containing the herb, the focus of this annual panic has shifted a bit. As reported, for example, in Philadelphia magazine, warnings are out that kids might be given marijuana treats (Archive.Is cached article):

New Jersey officials are warning parents to beware of a little “trick” this Halloween – marijuana-laced candy.…

According to the state Department of Health, there is “a significant presence of marijuana candy and other edible forms in New Jersey and nearby states.”

Wes Culp, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said the department “is on high alert for any number of things that could affect children” during this time of year, but the department hasn’t seen any issues with weed-laced candy yet.

I appreciate that Culp admits officials haven’t “seen any issues with weed-laced candy yet.” But that’s the real point here: There’s no evidence any children have ever gotten “edibles” in their trick-or-treat bags (cached). None!

People really need to stop with all of this bullshit. Yes, it’s at least plausible that, given the existence of pot-laced “edibles,” some idiot might give it out to a trick-or-treater. Yeah, it could happen. But that it’s plausible does not mean it will happen. It just doesn’t. Let’s stop panicking already over something that’s never even happened. OK?

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures.Net.

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Group photo of women wearing bikinisWe all know religionists tend not to think highly of women. This is true across religions; many Muslims are notably misogynistic, as I’ve noted many times, but a lot of Christians are, too. And Orthodox Jews are no better.

But as poorly as these religions treat women, they obviously don’t think very highly of men. The idea that women must dress modestly — sometimes so modestly that they barely even seem to be human — results from their assumption that men are too primitive to exercise restraint in the presence of women who actually look like women. Usually these modesty-rules are promoted in the name of treating women with “dignity,” but honestly, there’s no “dignity” in forcing women to cover themselves up that much.

So it’s rare that any religionist openly and explicitly admits s/he thinks men are slaves to their raging libidos, but once in a while one of them lets the cat out of the bag. This happened recently when, as Right Wing Watch reports, a Christianist pastor claimed that women who dress provocatively are “sexually assaulting” men (Archive.Is cached article):

Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election, spent a portion of his radio program on Friday discussing the idea that women are “sexually assaulting” men by dressing in a provocative manner.

Gallups interviewed Mike Shoesmith, who recently wrote a piece [cached] in response to the Hollywood sexual assault scandals arguing that women who wear “sexually suggestive clothing around a man” are legally guilty of sexual assault. While Gallups and Shoesmith repeatedly made clear that they were not excusing or condoning sexual assault against women in any way, they were nevertheless outraged that women are allowed to torment men by “walking around in their little sister’s skirt.”

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault,” Shoesmith said, asserting that women who dress in a suggestive manner are “guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment.”

These two bastions of wisdom went on to relate that men are (as I mentioned above) helpless in the face of their neurophysiology and biologically incapable of resisting feminine wiles. Oh, the poor little things! How dare those awful women insolently allow others to see their bodies! How horrific!

Oh, and as for the idea that these two Christianist pricks weren’t “excusing or condoning sexual assault against women” … well, here’s what that is:*cough* Bullshit! *cough* / JaromirAzarov, via Imgur

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. I wish RWW would stop identifying outspoken evangelical pastors as supporters of the Groper-in-Chief. American evangelicals in general overwhelmingly support the GiC (cached); there’s no need to point this out when discussing them.

P.P.S. This is one of those times when the phrase “Christian Taliban” isn’t without merit (cached).

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Photograph of Leah Remini, via Wikimedia CommonsA month ago I blogged about Leah Remini’s documentary series exposing the excesses of Scientology, on the occasion of it winning an Emmy. As I said then, Remini’s series is by no means the first major exposé of the Church of Scientology and its abusive practices. There have been many of them over the last several decades. One of the more noteable early exposés was a book, The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper, published in 1971 (which resulted in her being “fair gamed” and nearly destroyed by CoS). A biography of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller, was published in 1987. Much more recently there was Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, published in 2013. There was also BBC’s Scientology and Me in 2007, and Going Clear on HBO in 2015.

Really, the inanity of Scientology has been well-known since Martin Gardner released Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science in 1952 (before the CoS existed and Hubbard’s bullshit was known only as “dianetics”).

So none of what Remini (and co-presenter Mike Rinder) reveal in the series is news. It’s not. But Scientology and the Aftermath reaches more people than ever and shining a much brighter light on CoS than before.

As far as I know, CoS’s main response had been to draft Web sites critical of Remini, Rinder, and some of their contributors. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the popularity of her series has forced CoS to ramp up that response a bit (Archive.Is cached article):

Scientologists are emailing advertisers and demanding they boycott the A&E show “ Leah Remini : Scientology and the Aftermath,” claiming the documentary series is inciting threats and acts of violence against members of the church.

Individuals who say they are Scientologists sent multiple versions of the letter in recent months to advertisers and ad buyers, according to people familiar with the matter. The group behind the effort, Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination (STAND), also posted a handful of letters addressed to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler brand and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico, among others, on its website.

I have no idea how “Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination” extracted the “STAND” acronym from their name. I mean, “STAAD” works better. Maybe they avoided that because putting a “G” in front of it might confuse them with a ski-resort town in Switzerland. But hey, what could I know about it?

As the WSJ explains, at least one advertiser (Geico) did bend over for CoS and they’ve pull its ads from the series — but not from the network (which kind of makes clear that they’re specifically avoiding Remini’s show). Way to go, Geico. I knew geckos are flexible, but I didn’t know they had no backbones.

With this development, it’s clear Remini and Rinder have had an effect on Scientology. Good for them! The more is revealed about CoS’s shenanigans, the better.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Free vector graphic: Ghost, Spooky, Cheeky, Ghostly - Free Image on Pixabay - 156969, via PixabayIt’s been quite awhile since I blogged about the inane journalistic phenomenon of “hauntings as news.” That’s when some otherwise-reputable journalist pens a story telling the world that some place is haunted. I just saw another example of this in a nearby newspaper, the (Torrington, CT) Register-Citizen, reporting on an astonishing “revelation” (Archive.Is cached article):

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is believed by many to be haunted by ghosts, and one family’s photo is the latest to attempt to give credence to the ghostly claims.

The Mausling family of Aurora, Colorado was on a “spirit tour” of the 108-year-old hotel on Sept. 16 when John “Jay” Mausling claims to have snapped a photo of what he says appears to be two ghosts.

It’s really funny that anyone would be astonished at seeing a “ghost” while on a “spirit tour” of a supposedly-haunted building. Why, of course they did! Why, of course the people running this “spirit tour” set up that illusion! I can’t handle relaying any more of this laughable dreck.

Let me be perfectly clear: There are no ghosts. Buildings cannot be haunted. No one can speak with the dead. This is outrageous fucking bullshit … period, end of story.

The reason newspapers resort to “hauntings as news” should be obvious, and that’s because it’s easy reporting. Either people come to reporters with their “tips” directly, or they post them online, but either way, they basically package the story for the reporter, making it simple, easy, and quick. In an age of shrinking newsrooms, hauntings are a fast and ready way to fill up the newshole. In this case, there was the added plus of an association between the place of this claimed “haunting” and the famous movie The Shining. That makes it “catchy” and will help collect eyeballs.

But none of that grants this story — or any other like it — merit. It doesn’t mean the Stanley Hotel is haunted. It doesn’t mean anyone photographed an actual “ghost.” Stories like this one are massive journalistic “fails.”

Photo credit: Pixabay.

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