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Comments by discipline

Go to: Interview with Sam Harris

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by discipline

Smith #14:

Thanks for the excellent link to the Sam Harris interview. I encourage everyone to listen to that one. It contains such interesting/surprising factoids as this: his current path to atheism/neuroscience was inspired originally by the drug Ecstasy (MDMA)!

I like Sam, probably because his story somewhat parallels my own. (I substituted Ecstasy for other controlled substances, however!)

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 13:31:00 UTC | #276152

Go to: New legal threat to school science in the US

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by discipline


Just give up already. Your country is fucked.


Possibly. Or this sort of law may be the best thing that's happened to science education since Sputnik.

Teaching ID side-by-side with evolution is a perfect way to educate students about what the scientific method is, the ubiquity of logical fallacies, the nature of human irrationality, and the varieties of magical thinking. Debunking ID is like shooting fish in a barrel, after all.

For the same reason, I would definitely also support teaching astrology alongside astronomy, geocentrism alongside heliocentrism, homeopathy alongside medicine, free energy alongside thermodynamics, etc. This could be a fun way for students to get something out of high school that they evidently don't now: critical thinking skills.

I say bring it on!

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 18:55:00 UTC | #196857

Go to: PZ Myers - Expelled from Expelled

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by discipline

#16 Roger Stanyard:

'Organisations such as the Christiann Coaltion, the Moral Majority, Focus on the Family, the National Association of Evangelicals, Truth in Science and the Discovery Institute are deeply political organisations."

Precisely! The actual substance of the evolution debate is almost irrelevant. The "god question" was solved centuries ago -- what remains is a tactical/strategic/PR battle. And the pro-science crowd isn't winning, at least here in the US.

As I said in another post, the ID movement is inextricably entangled with conservative American politics. Thus, they are also anti-environmentalism, anti-abortion, anti-gay, climate change deniers, etc.

When the Discovery Institute rants about "materialism" what they really mean is "liberalism." This is why they are so persistent and attract so much funding. It's all about propagating the right-wing agenda (which ultimately comes down to protecting their economic interests). Whether or not they actually believe what they say about god/evolution is a mystery.

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 08:12:00 UTC | #191622

Go to: The Latest Wedge Document

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by discipline

Reminds me of a classic...

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

Thu, 26 Jun 2008 19:48:00 UTC | #190023

Go to: On the Origin of a Theory

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by discipline

Interesting stuff... yet more evidence against the feeble attempt by creationists to tar evolutionary biology as "Darwinism."

Funny too: "I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before."

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 20:07:00 UTC | #185894

Go to: Only a Theory

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by discipline


The Wedge ... addresses the need to replace a "materialistic worldview"


Going one step farther back: why do IDers and the Discovery Institute care about the threat of "materialism"? The key point is that the ID movement is obviously an evangelical Christian movement, which is obviously inextricably entangled with conservative American politics. (Thus, they are also anti-environmentalism, climate change deniers, anti-abortion, etc). More and more, it's clear that the anti-evolution movement is not about science, but about politics and economics. As usual in the US, it all comes down to power and $$. When the DI says "materialist" what they really mean is "liberal."

It's very similar to medieval Catholicism -- anybody ever read a history of the papacy? Do most Popes really believe or even care what they are saying? No, it's all about retaining economic power by exploiting the habits and ignorance of the masses. I'd say there's a dissertation for somebody who can draw the clear parallels between that history of corruption and debauchery and modern American televangelists.

By the way, Ken Miller is a really great spokesman: so articulate and confident. The power of compartmentalization is really something to behold.

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 05:48:00 UTC | #184165

Go to: The Great Evangelical Decline

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by discipline

> evengelicals are definitely having a hard time up here!

I see no evidence of this here in rural Virginia. I not only have yet to ever see a church close, but new churches are being built all the time. Evangelicals may not be growing in number, but they still retain massive power to influence education and other social policy issues.

Evangelicalism is all about financial and political power -- the actual beliefs and practices are secondary. Just as I don't see a decline in right-wing Republicans, I don't see evangelicals fading away any time soon.

Don't forget that 40-50% of Americans are creationists. It's going to literally take generations to achieve Dawkins-style scientific rationality. It's too early to celebrate yet.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 12:39:00 UTC | #179627

Go to: Louisiana's latest creationism bill moves to House floor

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by discipline

The re-branding of creationism as an academic freedom issue is a brilliant PR/marketing scheme by the Discovery Institute et al. It is perfectly designed to hit Americans in their sweet spot. I predict that even moderate Christians will be swayed by the "freedom" argument. I'd be surprised if bills like this don't pass in multiple states.

Obviously, the "god question" was solved centuries ago -- what remains is a tactical/strategic battle... and science and reason aren't winning.

Tue, 27 May 2008 19:28:00 UTC | #176029

Go to: Animal Science Without Evolution

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 90 by discipline

I used to mock and dismiss Christian homeschooling texts like this. Now that I have children, they disgust and infuriate me.

Christian homeschooling is rapidly growing: millions of US children are already homeschooled. Since only a certain (probably small) percentage of these kids will ever escape the indoctrination, homeschooling is a clear danger for the future of US competitiveness -- not to mention being just plain wrong. California recently made some tentative progress in regulating these people: (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1720697,00.html?imw=Y), but there are 49 other states.

It's often said that organizing atheists is like herding cats, but this seems like an issue that most of us can agree upon -- and get politically active about.

Who's with me?

Tue, 27 May 2008 13:00:00 UTC | #175920

Go to: That's it. Texas really is doomed.

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by discipline


Honestly, have some of you even been to America?


FightingFalcon: While I agree that we are "diverse nation of diverse opinion," I think you should tone down the knee-jerk patriotism a bit.

I live in the rural US South and obviously not everybody is a gun-toting, right-wing racist Bible thumper -- but let's face it, the percentage is much higher in the South than, say, Massachusetts. My neighbors are very friendly, but I wouldn't want them making educational policy.

This particular story from Texas may not be the end of the world, but it doesn't deserve to be minimized: the Christian Right's strategy seems to be "death by a thousand paper cuts." Each of these incidences is indeed a threat to secularism and our tradition of church-state separation.

People like McLeroy have constructed an elaborate alternate version of reality, where lies are truth and black is white, and that, together with their financial power, is what makes them dangerous. We ignore them at our peril.

Tue, 27 May 2008 07:22:00 UTC | #175811

Go to: Trouble ahead for science

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by discipline

#37: Exquisite Truth: "People in more enlightened regions have no idea how ubiquitous faith and religion are in this region."

Indeed, I've been harping about that on this site for some time. I live in rural Virginia and I think that the outlook is quite grim. Yes, truth/reality may triumph eventually, but not necessarily before the U.S. goes down in flames.

The fundies long ago realized that the most effective way to retain their economic/political power (which is really all they care about), is to focus their energies on 1) childhood indoctrination via homeschooling, 2) proselytizing in developing countries (eg, China, Africa), and 3) creating a cradle-to-grave alternate society (Christian universities, Christian "scientific" journals, Christian TV and radio, Christian banks, Christian phone companies, etc, etc). They've been incredibly successful doing all these things.

These people have a LOT of motivation and money ... and guns. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Thu, 08 May 2008 19:11:00 UTC | #168175

Go to: Evolution's Critics Shift Tactics With Schools

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 115 by discipline

As I predicted from the start, the re-branding of creationism as "academic freedom" is working. This new strategy from the Discovery Institute is brilliant marketing, which is one thing that Christian fundamentalists excel at.

I would be surprised if these sorts of bills don't pass in all conservative red states (ie, the majority of the US).

The only hope left is that when ID is taught alongside evolution in public schools, it'll fail under the weight of the evidence -- if the biology teacher is not a stealth creationist, that is.

The US is clearly in a downward spiral, and this is just yet another example.

Mon, 05 May 2008 07:30:00 UTC | #166373

Go to: Science leads to killing people

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by discipline

Cartomancer: "Day is night and night is day, the truth is a lie and the lies are true."

The doublespeak among the Christian Right is truly a wonder to behold. I've been browsing some of their blogs lately, such as (WARNING: don't click on these if you have high blood pressure)...

http://voxday.blogspot.com/
http://reasonablekansans.blogspot.com/
http://blog.coincidencetheories.com/

...and it's really amazing how inverted their thinking is. Whatever they are accused of, they project onto their accuser. They call evolution a "fairy tale for adults" whose proponents exhibit "confirmation bias." Sound familiar? It's breathtaking, really.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

Mon, 28 Apr 2008 06:12:00 UTC | #162390

Go to: Investigating Atheism

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by discipline

I've only slogged through parts of this site, but I'm unimpressed. I would expect better from an esteemed university than the familiar apologetics -- however nicely they are dressed up as "intellectual" theology.

Theology must be great for self-esteem: it gives people with pre-existing certainties the warm and fuzzy feeling that they are open-minded and educated.

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 12:56:00 UTC | #158675

Go to: The Child Preachers

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by discipline

Despicable indeed. I'm (once again) embarrassed to be an American... and a human being.

This psychological abuse is likely enforced with physical abuse. After all, US evangelicals like James Dobson advocate beating children into obedience (see his book "Dare to Discipline"). A perfect summation of the Christian worldview.

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 20:53:00 UTC | #155633

Go to: Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by discipline

Here's another gem from the comments section in the New Scientist:

http://www.askdarwinists.com/

It appears to be written by a Turkish creationist -- you know, from the only country more ignorant of evolutionary biology than the US.

Looking at that site reminds me of our friend Dinesh D'Souza's immortal phrase: "I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony." Where to start?

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 06:12:00 UTC | #155231

Go to: Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by discipline

Ygern: "The comments section on New Scientist are a bit depressing."

Indeed. My favorite is this one:


Physical fields propagating at the speed of light are preceded by nonlocal electric and magnetic potentials.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aharonov-Bohm_effect )

God is the sum of these potentials. Subtle is the Lord.


That's a new one! It's amazing how adept creationists are at sounding scientific without needing to do any actual science. It's all about marketing the meme -- which they've had 2,000 years to perfect.

Great series of articles though -- succinct and convincing.

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 05:59:00 UTC | #155227

Go to: Evolution fray attracts top scientist

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by discipline

Recent interview/podcast with Kroto:

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/sir_harold_kroto_science_education_and_freethinking/

Great to see somebody battling the forces of ignorance in the trenches... especially in a god-awful place like Florida.

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 11:44:00 UTC | #154228

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by discipline

Comment #67, macspoofing:

"real shame here is that atheism has been co-opted by the left"

Mostly true, but let's not forget that atheism is a "big tent" with right-wingers (Chistopher Hitchens) and Libertarians (Michael Shermer, Ayn Rand objectivists) playing a significant role. Obviously, not believing in gods should have no inherent relationship to politics.

That said, I doubt atheism is going to take hold in the US Republican Party any time soon, since independent thought is so actively discouraged there. Ditto with most Libertarians, since they are mostly corporate apologists or loony eccentrics (eg, Ron Paul).

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 06:38:00 UTC | #154098

Go to: The List: The World's Worst Religious Leaders

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by discipline

Where the hell is James Dobson on this list?

He's the extreme right-wing Christian fascist homophobe who advocates beating children into submission.

Oh, and his organization has 2 million members and his media outlets reach over 200 million people per day:

http://www.slate.com/id/2109621/
http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=4257

And he enthusiastically endorses Expelled, of course:
http://listen.family.org/miscdaily/A000001036.cfm

He's the worst of the worst (in the US at least).

Fri, 11 Apr 2008 18:54:00 UTC | #151356

Go to: Reviews of Expelled

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by discipline

Lucas (#158197):

Yes, I admit that my views are colored by the fact that I live in the beating heart (or, as I call it, the open sore) of the Bible Belt.

The recent surveys I've seen are indeed encouraging (eg, the Pew study), but even your USA Today graphic shows that non-believers range from about 7% to 20% of the population, depending on the state. Good, but still far below European levels. Don't forget that surveys also show that 50-60% of Americans are creationists, and that's scary.

I assume that you live in the West coast or New England, so you may not realize the power that the Christian Right still holds on local and state politics and culture across the country. And the rise of Christian homeschooling promises more generations of brainwashed clones in the future (statistics here: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/statistics.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling#United_States)

You're right about the key question: how can US secularists/atheists organize and lobby more effectively? Thanks to the success of Richard et al., we're making progress, but it's going to be a long road...

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 07:54:00 UTC | #150368

Go to: Reviews of Expelled

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by discipline

As I wrote in another thread, the dismissive, derisive comments about Expelled on this site and other science blogs are irrelevant. In the US, agnostics/atheists/secularists/scientists are a tiny band of underfunded eccentrics in comparison to the mind-boggling financial power of the Christian Right.

The ID movement has hit upon a brilliant PR/marketing scheme: freedom. Check out the Discovery Institute home page, with titles like these:

"ANTI-FREEDOM ACTIVISTS TRY TO CENSOR SCIENCE EDUCATION IN FLORIDA"

This is an ingenious "re-branding" of creationism and is perfectly designed to hit Americans in their sweet spot. I predict that even moderate Christians will be swayed by the "freedom" argument. These people are genius marketers. (More evidence of this is the pro-Expelled "Beware the Believers" viral video, which fooled most on this site that it was actually pro-science!)

This film is not only outrageously offensive (exploiting the Holocaust -- wow!) but it's also very, very dangerous. Mocking it in blogs is fun but we need serious, measured, detailed responses to the film in every media outlet possible. The Shermer review is the best example of this I've seen so far.

Obviously, the "god question" was solved centuries ago -- what remains is a tactical/strategic battle.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 05:55:00 UTC | #150287

Go to: Anti-evolution bill clears another hurdle

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by discipline

As a former resident of New England now living in rural Virginia, I often wish that the South had perhaps not won the Civil War, but at least been allowed to secede from the union. Problem solved....

I'm reminded of the "Jesusland" map from the 2004 election:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesusland_map

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 06:30:00 UTC | #149637

Go to: Get out of here, atheists!

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by discipline

As somebody on the Rational Responders site wrote: contrary to what this dimwit might think, Abraham Lincoln was an atheist (most of his life anyway). Here are some choice quotes:

"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."
-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death, quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker."

“What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Mary Todd Lincoln in William Herndon's Religion of Lincoln, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

“It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, Manford's Magazine, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 144

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker"

“The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Victor J Stenger in Physics and Psychics

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not that we be not judged.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, sarcasm in his Second Innaugural Address (1865)

“It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper, quoted from Antony Flew, How to Think Straight, p. 17

“Oh, that [his Thanksgiving Message] is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge James M Nelson, in response to a question from Nelson: "I once asked him about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published." Quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 138

“The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.”
-- Abraham Lincoln, regarding the Churches, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 143

Mon, 07 Apr 2008 10:25:00 UTC | #148505

Go to: Anti-gay Okla. lawmaker attracts 1,000 backers

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by discipline

"her beliefs are rooted in biblical passages that she said characterizes homosexuality as a sin. "

She's right about that at least. I never understood why moderate Christians don't understand the condemnation of homosexuality in Leviticus. Seems pretty clear to me.

The more Sally Kerns, the better, in my opinion. The more laughably extreme the Christian Right becomes, the more quickly they'll fade into well-deserved obscurity.

Thu, 03 Apr 2008 08:27:00 UTC | #146663

Go to: CEAI Action Alert for Science Teachers

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by discipline

Shuggy: "They're anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-gay-marriage, and associated with a pro-beating-of-children group"

Correct. James Dobson is the perfect storm of ignorance, arrogance and greed -- the Unholy Trinity. If I believed in evil, he would personify it. And yes, he actually does advocate physically beating children into obedience. A perfect summation of the Christian worldview.

Dobson is even farther to the right than the typical American evangelical -- he opposed their recent push to start recognizing the importance of global warming and other environmental issues.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/14/evangelical.rift/index.html

A truly frightening and despicable character.

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 18:49:00 UTC | #146404

Go to: Faith healing church parents charged over toddler's death

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 71 by discipline

SweatyPalmSunday:


If we decide that humanly killing a 6 month old fetus is against the law, then surely humanly killing a 25 year old chimpanzee should be too.


To muddy the waters a bit more, the Australian utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer brings up this same point -- and concludes the exact opposite.

He argues that the "right to life" scales with rationality and self-consciousness. In other words, an adult chimp has more "ethical value" than a newborn human. He uses similar reasons to argue that that brain-damaged humans should be used in medical research (eg HIV experiments) rather than chimpanzees.

Needless to say, he's a controversial figure.

Tue, 01 Apr 2008 18:46:00 UTC | #145910

Go to: Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 97 by discipline

Disgusting.

I encourage everybody here to write a (calm, civil) letter to the Police Chief mentioned in this story. Urge him to bring charges against these idiots. The contact info:

http://www.everestmetropolice.org/empd_contact.htm

24 Hour Non-Emergency - 715-261-1200

Department Office - 715-359-4202 (8am-5pm Monday - Friday)

Crime Stoppers - 1-800-559-4203

Schofield & Weston Municipal Court - 359-3333

District Attorney's Office & Victim Witness - 261-1111

Email Us - empd@everestmetropolice.org

Wed, 26 Mar 2008 13:14:00 UTC | #142520

Go to: Expelled Overview

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by discipline

Dr. Benway: "The idiocy of this movie is an event in our little bubble. But the rest of the country will sympathize with Ben Stein."

Correct. The dismissive, derisive comments on this site and other science blogs are irrelevant. In the US, agnostics/atheists/secularists/scientists are a tiny band of underfunded eccentrics in comparison to the mind-boggling financial power of the Christian Right.

The ID movement has hit upon a brilliant PR/marketing scheme: freedom. Check out the Discovery Institute home page, with titles like these:

"ANTI-FREEDOM ACTIVISTS TRY TO CENSOR SCIENCE EDUCATION IN FLORIDA"

"ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND EVOLUTION"

This is an ingenious "re-branding" of creationism and is perfectly designed to hit Americans in their sweet spot. I predict that even moderate Christians will be swayed by the "freedom" argument.

This film is not only outrageously offensive (exploiting the Holocaust -- wow!) but it's also very, very dangerous. Mocking it in blogs is fun but we need serious, measured, detailed responses to the film in every media outlet possible. I don't think PZ calling them "fuckwits" will get us anywhere in the marketplace of ideas.

Tue, 25 Mar 2008 21:19:00 UTC | #141949

Go to: Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90

discipline's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by discipline

FYI...

Clarke to have secular funeral

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/03/19/obit.clarke.ap/index.html

"The famed science fiction writer, who once denigrated religion as "a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species," left written instructions that his funeral be completely secular, according to his aides."

Wed, 19 Mar 2008 07:19:00 UTC | #139077