atheist news feeds
An excerpt from The Happy Atheist has been published on Beliefnet. Now you can make up your mind easily: if you hate it, don’t buy it (although from what I’ve seen, the people who hate it don’t need to read it to make up their minds). If you love it and can afford it, sink some cash into the book (it’s quite pretty, white with blue trim, it might fit the decor in your bathroom quite well). If you’re kinda meh about it, or too poor to pay for it, enter the contest to win a free copy!
Oh, also, if you’re a group interested in bringing me out to your city to talk about the themes in the book, you can contact my publicist at Random House, Josefine Kals. I asked her if she was sure she wanted me to put her contact here, and she said yes — she knows not what she does, so be kind and circumspect.
The faculty were melting down. It’s going to be a busy week — I have syllabi to finalize and multiple meetings to attend and cranky fish to fuss over (Morris has toxic water everywhere, full of minerals, and we’re dependent on the RO system to clean up the crap…and they’re shutting it down and flushing it with chlorine this week. What? Yikes!). And then I have other things I’m stuck with.
Tomorrow evening at 7:30 I’m doing a book event on KFAI radio. There goes my afternoon and most of the evening.
This weekend we have our Bridge to Biology program — a huge number of our incoming first year students in biology get taken out to the Lake Itasca Field Station, where we try to lose them in snipe hunts get them enthused about science and biology. I’ll be out there with a microscope and cameras and embryos (I hope, if the RO system doesn’t poison everything).
Oh, yeah, I’m preparing all my class stuff. I’m teaching cell biology and cancer biology this term. Any students reading this? You can get a jump on everything by reading the first couple of chapters of Life by Sadava et al., we shall be marching through the first third of this book in the cell biology class. In cancer biology, we’re going to focus on The Emperor of All Maladies by Mukherjee for the first few weeks, so read that whole thing now. Then once you all know what horrible things cancer does to people, we’ll dive into the mechanisms. You’re fortunate, too: last time I taught this, we used Weinberg’s Cancer Biology text, which is really aimed more at graduate level work; this time around we’re using Hesketh’s Introduction to Cancer Biology. The first two words in the title will make it a less daunting exploration, I hope.
Tell them to go read this article summarizing the case for vaccinations.
How do we know that scientists and doctors are right?
I’ve been asked about this quite a bit lately. One person asked me “why aren’t we getting peered reviewed research from other points of view?” The reason is quite simple: there isn’t any.
Darn it. For a brief moment, I thought there was a chance that Ken Ham had said one thing that was true and honest. RawStory is running this article, Creationist radio ad: Evolution cannot be debunked with reason, and Addicting Info echoes the sentiment, with Creationism Advocate Admits That Science Proves Evolution, But Says We Should Believe The Bible Anyway. They say Ken Ham has suggested this:
You cannot convince people that evolution is false with logic, according to the founder of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
In a 60-second radio ad released Thursday, Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham admitted there was no scientific evidence that conclusively demonstrated that evolution was a lie.
They’ve completely misread his statement. What he actually said is familiar creationist dogma, and comes nowhere near their interpretation. Listen for yourself.
The hopeful rational websites are focusing on this statement:
We have solid proof in in our hands that evolution is a lie: the Bible. You see, we can’t depend solely on our reasoning ability to convince skeptics. We present the evidence and do the best we can to convince people the truth of God by always pointing them to the Bible.
It doesn’t say what they think it says. Notice the “solely”; creationists will claim that they are using their reason, even when they aren’t. Notice also that he says they “present the evidence”; they don’t, they ignore most of it and distort the rest, but they claim to be presenting scientific evidence to support their arguments.
What was also cut out of that particular quote was this little preamble: “Romans chapter 1 tells us that God has revealed himself in nature”. Ken Ham argues all the time that his view of nature and the physical evidence supports the claims of the Bible. He just also claims that the Bible itself is powerful evidence against evolution.
Look, I know that Ken Ham is an ignorant fool, and I know that his museum is a craptastical pile of lies and nonsense, but you will make no progress in an argument with creationists if you try to pull this misleading “gotcha” garbage and distort their words. Ken Ham did not say that “You cannot convince people that evolution is false with logic” — he firmly believes that the convoluted rationalizations he performs are logical (for years he’s been pushing this deadly dull book by Jason Lisle that claims to be a logical analysis of science, for instance).
He does not admit that “there was no scientific evidence that conclusively demonstrated that evolution was a lie”. Again, he is convinced otherwise. These non-scientists have deluded themselves thoroughly into believing that putting up a cast of some dinosaur bones and then saying that the animal died in the Flood means they have “scientific evidence” that evolution is false.
I’d love it if a creationist were to come right out and admit that the evidence kills creation and that they hold to their faith in spite of the evidence (one that I know of has done exactly that, Kurt Wise, but he’s an exception, and Ken Ham is no Kurt Wise). I do not think putting words in the mouths of creationists helps. I hate it when creationists twist our words (*cough*Ray Comfort*cough*), and I don’t appreciate it when people on my side twist their words. Deal with their arguments fairly, they’re easy enough to crush.
[Turing 2013] Atheist Entry #8
This is an interesting prospect, and it appears to be a largely cultural phenomenon. For centuries, the basic familial unit has been bi-parental. This applies primarily in the West, however. Other cultures, such as Islam or certain sects of Hindu ...
Government Lawyers Advocate For Atheism As A Religion
The litigation between the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the United States over the parsonage exclusion has taken an odd turn. The Government is trying to convince a couple of atheists who get housing allowances from FFRF that maybe they ...
Atheist's wishlist for Christian faith
In the same way, as an atheist, I don't see a world 'united' under one religion being the answer, because as we know, conflict is actually the worst amongst people of the same faith that disagree on the details. The Arabs have the same version of this ...
Are atheists the most hated group in America? (Videos)allvoices
Hemant Mehta on rising atheism among millenials: 'It's not that Christianity ...Raw Story
Millennials and the Church (Rachel Held Evans, Hemant Mehta, and Admiral ...Patheos (blog)
all 6 news articles »
How I went from atheist to minister in the Shire Free Church.
Also at sixteen, I “came out” to my parents as an atheist. I'd questioned the Presbyterian daddy god for years, and I did not want to continue going to church. My folks were cool about it, telling me they supported me no matter what. I'll come back ...
An Atheist Down Under Report: Strangler Figs
Greetings from Australia, I wrote this after I took some photos in one of our local wilderness Area. I hope you can use for the FA blog. Jim Wilson. Our Amazing World: Strangler Figs. I recently had the opportunity to explore the Australia's Nightcap ...
I must call attention to this article on Salon.
How Google flushes knowledge down the toilet
Search engine optimization is filling the Internet with misinformation about human bathroom habits and more
In the sidebar: 5 pointless pop posts from the Huffington Post. 10 listicles from Buzzfeed. 8 more random links from aggregators Upworthy and GigaOm.
Below the article: 3 more listicles. An ad for Biblical Money Code. Pictures of Kate Middleton. “We recommend” money advice from the Bible, cheap auctions, health benefits of blueberries, etc., etc., etc.
And more! The week in 10 pics, 10 summer food festivals, you get the idea.
I know, we have annoying random ads on this site, too, but we’re pathetic pikers compared to anyone who intentionally taps into the HuffPo/Buzzfeed Vortex of Misinformation.
An article marvels at the bad information infesting the internet, and all the advertising clutter in which it wallows demonstrates exactly why it’s such a mess.
Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.
“Ask an Atheist” Tucson Edition Plays today.
Ask an Atheist On Sundays at 3:00 PM, the “Ask an Atheist” podcast airs as a live radio broadcast in Tacoma, WA. We can hear it here. Today hopefully, they'll run the episode that they recorded here at the Best Western on Stone on July 19th. There was ...
[Turing 2013] Atheist Entry #7
I get a little fed up with trendy atheist apologists who pretend that bourgeois Christian morality is the atheist thing to do. If I don't believe in a deity, it doesn't make sense for me to talk absolutely about what we “ought” to do, or what is “ok ...
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There are advantages to being a skeptic. The most commonly cited one is that you don't have to worry about being abducted by aliens, but there are other advantages that make a skeptical world view appealing.
You don't have to worry about being crucified, sealed in a tomb rising three days later having not taken a shower, and upon arriving home find that your house has been burglarized. *
You don't have to worry that when your friends arrive to commiserate that they will give you that what the fuck look, and note that you have been wearing those same clothes now for three days. If you are a skeptic they wont have to offer to take you to the Jesus Saves Thrift Store where you can purchase lightly used, and thankfully recently laundered attire.
If you're a skeptic you don't have to worry about running into Big Foot on a camping trip or Yeti if you're in the Himalayas, nor should you worry about being attacked by a giant snake like critter named Nettie.
When you gaze into the sky you won't have to put your imagination into hyperdrive when you see some object you can't identify. You'll go through life unable to identify many things, both in the sky and on the ground and feel okay about it.
And you won't ever get lost inside the sound stage where the moon landing was filmed, or look for multiple gunmen where there was only one, or join the ranks of the thousands of people keeping the secret of the World Trade Center bombing conspiracy.
You won't have to sort through thousands of supplements wondering if this time you've found the magic pill that will rescue from all those nasty diseases discovered by man, granting immortality in this world or another.
You may however be left out of the more popular groups, the naive and the gullible, you'll feel a bit like an alien. There are not many like you.
Do I place a higher value on reason, critical thinking, and skepticism or on the interpretation of feelings as accurate indicators of truth (e.g., if I feel harassed, I was harassed), arguments from experience, and the uncritical acceptance of third wave feminist ideology?
Some tendentious derpwad on the internet
All claims require evidence, whether they are extraordinary or not. And a claim, in and of itself, is not, by definition, evidence.
Some other derpwad on the internet
I don’t know what it is, but some skeptics have adopted this calcified attitude towards what constitutes reasonable evidence and reasonable claims. It seems to me that these are nothing but excuses contrived to justify denying reality, and that they are actually toxic to any kind of functional, societally useful version of skepticism; this is the skepticism of the status quo.
What if people actually operated as these advocates for purblind skepticism suggest? So I paid a call on SkepticDoc, M.D., the very acme of this form of skepticism. Here is how the visit went.
PZ: Doctor, lately I’ve been experiencing shortness of breath and an ache in my left shoulder when I exert myself…
SkepticDoc: Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down! See the name on the shingle? It’s SkepticDoc. Do you have anything other than your feelings to justify wasting my time here?
PZ: What? I’m telling you my symptoms…
SkepticDoc: Yeah, yeah, your feelings. Do you have some physical evidence that you felt pain? Some independent corroboration that you felt this remarkable “ache”? So far, this is just gossip.
PZ: It prompted me to come here, pay money, face some physical discomfort, and apparently have my condition mocked and dismissed. But what you’re supposed to do now is test me, find evidence of the cause of the problem and help me get better.
SkepticDoc: Right. Sure. But why should I bother? Look, people live to be about 70 years old on average, that’s over 25,000 days without dying of heart disease. The odds that you’re actually experiencing these symptoms is really, really low, so it’s a waste of my time to take you seriously. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
PZ: But I’m a 57 year old man with a family history of heart disease and a prior incident that required hospitalization! This isn’t extraordinary!
SkepticDoc: A professional victim, eh? Your kind are always in here giving me your sob story. Well, boo hoo hoo. Look at all the people who aren’t having trouble with heart attacks, and try to be like them. They aren’t in here taking up my office hours.
PZ: So you aren’t even going to examine me?
SkepticDoc: Oh, all right. I’ll take a look at your chart.
Says you’re a college teacher, right? Made these same complaints a couple of years ago, same time of the year…right before classes start? Interesting.
Your job is a little stressful? You think another couple of cushy weeks in a bed with pretty nurses waiting on you hand and foot is looking pretty good right now? Yeah, I’ve seen your type.
PZ: Getting stuck in a hospital isn’t a vacation! And I like my work!
Wait, what are you doing? You’re supposed to be interpreting my medical history, not trying to psychoanalyze me. Yes, I have a history of heart disease. That’s why I’m being careful and coming to you now.
SkepticDoc: Aha, you admit it!
PZ: I admit what?
SkepticDoc: That this is your personal problem, and that you’re expecting someone else to help you. It seems to me we have a little problem with personal responsibility here. Grow a spine!
PZ: But…but…you’re a doctor. This is your job.
SkepticDoc: That’s right. I’m in charge. But my first job here is to find a reason and place the blame. By the way, I notice you’re a bit overweight.
SkepticDoc: Stop it. Just stop eating. When someone comes by with a cookie or a hamburger or a carrot or something, just don’t eat it. If you find it hard to say no to a second helping, just leave some food on your plate. It really is that easy.
PZ: OK, mea culpa. I’ll watch the diet more closely. But this is a problem right now, I’m worried and I need your help.
SkepticDoc: What problem? I just checked the heart transplant registry, and your name isn’t on it. If this were a really serious problem, you’d have gone all the way to applying for a transplant immediately, so I think the fact that you’re taking a lesser step means your problem can’t possibly be that bad.
PZ: Huh? Are you suggesting I need a heart transplant? You haven’t even looked at me! I’ve detected symptoms of an onset of a possible problem, and I’m here taking an appropriate first step to diagnosis and treatment.
SkepticDoc: I don’t know. You look fine to me — you don’t seem to be having a heart attack now, your color’s good, if a little flushed, all the observable evidence says you’re not in need of any kind of medical attention. Why are you bothering me?
PZ: I told you! Chest pains!
SkepticDoc: And I told you, I don’t believe this personal testimony nonsense. And hey, didn’t you earlier say the pain was in your shoulder? Now you claim it’s your chest? You’re not very credible, liar.
PZ: <storms out>
A few minutes later…
Nurse: Dr. SkepticDoc! Dr. SkepticDoc! That man who just left your office … he has collapsed by his car, his face is turning purple, I think he’s having a heart attack!
SkepticDoc: You say. Do you have any evidence to back up that unusual claim?
This story has been entirely fictional. There is no SkepticDoc, M.D. in my town, and no humane and responsible doctor would express the kind of absurdly hyperskeptical attitude we see in the cited derpwads. Also, I’m in fine health and am not experiencing any chest pains…I mean, shoulder aches!
Los Angeles Times
He wants to be the Navy's first humanist chaplain
Los Angeles Times
John Fleming (R-La.), designed to prevent the Pentagon from accepting atheist chaplains. "The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical — it's an oxymoron," Fleming said. "It's absurd to argue that someone with no spiritual inclination should fill ...
It’s 7:30am, I’m about to plunge deep into the twin cities, and at 9am I’ll be live on KTNF 950am, Progressive Radio, and Atheists Talk. Wake up to some sweet, sweet heresy…or roll over and snuggle up to a loved one while my voice enters your ears and does strange provocative things to your brain.
Or don’t. These things are archived somewhere on the Minnesota Atheists site, so you could just sleep through the whole thing and catch up at a less bracing hour.
[Turing 2013] Atheist Entry #6
The partnership aspect of a marriage becomes a case of shareholders with legally recognized polyamorous relationships. I'd have difficulty finding ground to ethically criticize 3 or 4 or 5 people having an equal stake in a shared life, however this ...
They’re everywhere. I hate them. There are entire networks dedicated to creating goddamned lists, trusting in the human compulsion to go through each entry in the list…which are usually on separate pages, with separate ads, all calculated to increase advertising clicks. And at the end, they’ll present you with a list of more lists, with provocative titles, and they try to get you on the obsessive mindless click trail. They’re evil, manipulative, and almost always vapid. They’re the slot machines of the web. I’m looking at you, AlterNet, Salon, Huffpo, Gawker, whatever — you’re all padding miniscule content and increasing the noise level on the internet.
Even sites that are fun play the devious SEO game. The Oatmeal is one of the worst. I’m not talking about the content, I’m condemning the psychological trickery of the presentation.
The latest example that got me was on Salon: it’s an article titled “9 scientific facts about breasts”; it was originally on AlterNet as “The 9 weirdest facts about boobs”. Notice the linkbait title? (Linkbait that worked, by the way.) And as usual, when you actually read the article, it’s nonsense through and through.
Here are the 9 “facts”.
Poor men like big breasts while financially secure men prefer smaller breasts.
Simplistic reductionist drivel which regards people by a single parameter and draws decisive conclusions from it. Source: Psychology Today. Anytime you see “science” presented in Psychology Today, just ignore it and throw the magazine in the trash. It’s a garbage source, a kind of pseudoscientific Daily Mail.
Hungry men desire big breasts while satiated men prefer a smaller chest.
More of the same. Source: Psychology Today.
Fuck you, Psychology Today.
Men not interested in fatherhood find large breasts less attractive.
An evolutionary psychology study based on asking 67 college men about their preferences. In Psychology Today. Goddamn, Psychology Today, but you suck.
Squeezing breasts may prevent cancer.
Not from Psychology Today! An actual scientific source! COMPLETELY MISINTERPRETED AND MISREPRESENTED. There’s this thing called contact inhibition, and cells also respond to distortion with changes in their cytoskeleton that can cause changes in activity. This study was done on cultured cells, confining them tightly with an artificial matrix. It has no relationship at all to the mechanical factors in squeezing breasts.
Women who get breast implants are three times more likely to commit suicide.
OK, this is one I can believe. It’s based on a statistical analysis of women who’ve undergone plastic surgery and committed suicide.
What it means, though, is the question. Women with self-esteem problems that try to solve them with surgery are more prone to suicidal thoughts? Women compelled by financial burdens to acquire more appeal by breast augmentation are more prone to suicide than economically secure women? Who knows. You’re not going to find out on a blitz through a link farm!
Sexist men preferlarge breasts.
British white men showed cartoons of breasts have a preference. Whoa, I never saw that one coming.
Reported in the Huffington Post. Fuck you too.
Bras accelerate sagging.
Based on one 15-year old study that has not, as far as I can discover, been replicated, women who stopped wearing bras saw “their nipples lifted on average seven millimetres in one year in relation to the shoulders”. Strangely, while I was easily able to find 23 papers in the databases which had Jean-Denis Rouillon as an author, none of them say anything about bras or breasts. Exercise physiology, yes; massive studies applying calipers to hundreds of women’s breasts, no.
Men who like small breasts prefer a submissive partner.
“You may get the psychological hint that she’s not trying to compete with other women who have larger breasts, and therefore she’ll be loyal to you. Or maybe the very first girl you had a crush on had small breasts, and if she constructed your earliest example of what’s sexy, her memory may still lead you to find small-breasted women exciting.” Barf.
Published in Men’s Health. There’s another one to toss on the fire.
Staring at boobs extends a man’s life by five years.
A discredited urban legend, and the article admits it. They knew the story was garbage, but hell, no one will care…throw it in the list.
“Clearly, not all online “scientific studies” are authentic or even convincing, for that matter,” they say.
Well, duh. And this article is an example.
Join me in vowing to never again follow a listy link trail. Just say “no”. Recognize that they’re very, very bad and represent the worst of manipulative SEO tricks.
Also, unsubscribe from Psychology Today, Men’s Health or any of these ghastly pop psych and trendy “health” magazines. They’re lying to you.