In 1906, two laws were passed that laid the groundwork for what would become the Food & Drug Administration. There was a book written by Upton Sinclair a progressive/socialist muckraker that was intended to show the plight of poor immigrants in the US called "The Jungle". The book became quite popular, but much to Sinclair's surprise the public reaction to it pretty much ignored his economic points. Instead, the focus was on the vivid descriptions of unsanitary conditions in meat packing houses.
President Roosevelt was reportedly suspicious of Sinclair but decided to dispatch two people he trusted, Charles P. Neil and James Reynolds, to inspect meat packing plants in Chicago. The Neil-Reynolds report found that the worst of Sinclair's accusations were complete falsehoods (Sinclair had claimed that people fell into vats and were ground up as burger while no one did anything, rat infestations etc.). However, they did report on various unsanitary practices such as failure to regularly clean certain rooms. A transcript of their testimony to congress is available here.
I'm sure at some point we've all run into those most clever of theists who use "logic" to "prove" the existence of god. In this scenario, the demands of evidence for god's existence are usually met with some kind of explanation beginning with something generally accepted as truth which is then manipulated step-by-step resulting in some kind of "proof" that god must exist, based on the fact that the root argument is in some way irrefutable. They tend to rely on philosophical doublespeak, and are meant to confuse the person on the receiving end into thinking they've been provided with an argument for which there is no other answer, which in actuality is not the case. The following (taken from www.godlessgeeks.com. I thank them for this list, some of which is absolutely hilarious) are some prime (albeit skeletal: when presented during an actual argument, they are often made to look much deeper and more poetic, which is part of what makes them so confusing to some people) examples which I will break down, discredit, and reject:
1. ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) I define God to be X.
(2) Since I can conceive of X, X must exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
I'm aware that many things have been said and written on the burden of proof, and why it does not rest on the side of the atheist. That said, I'd like to put my two cents in.
I am often asked by religious folks to prove definitively that there is no god. Whenever I reply that I cannot absolutely and irrevocably prove that god does not exist I am often rebuked, scoffed at, and told that I must be wrong.
Now I can go on about the burden of proof and how it's not my job to disprove god, but it always comes back to the rather superficial argument that I'm merely trying to back out of the argument and claim victory without doing any work. This is simply not so. I am following a standard of scientific process. If you make a claim, I'm going to ask you to prove it. If you are going to propose god, you've got to follow up accordingly. This is rarely the case, I am again told that I am the one who needs to provide evidence.
Reposted here from my tumblr as a first contribution.
So I’m thinking about this today. Don’t know why but here it goes.
So someone said to me the other day that because I’m an atheist, I’ve got no humility. I must think I’m all powerful and have no morals because I’m not humbled by any power greater than myself. Because I believe in evolution and not creation then I must believe the world must have no intelligence to its design. I must see no meaning in life and I must not see the good in the world. Ha, how wrong could you be?
I can’t disprove your superstitions any more than I can disprove Mother Goose. I can express sincere doubts however, about the likelihood of a cow making lunar orbit.
I have deep misgivings about the existence of invisible, intangible beings from an alternate dimension who used magical powers to create and interfere in this universe.
Further, I have my doubts that these magnificent beings would need to contact an illiterate, murderous pedophile in a cave to send their message, or, for that matter, make small talk with a would be genocidal conqueror via flammable shrubbery.
Let’s face it, impregnating a Jewish teenager with yourself, then bumping around doing third rate miracles and magic tricks for the primitives , finally getting yourself lynched so you could change your own admission policies for your alternate dimension/cosmic amusement park is a pretty silly notion.
In the end, it’s not about what you are able to prove or disprove but rather how far you are willing to prostitute reason in order to believe any of it…
In the mid to late 1800's railroads were the cornerstone of the US economic boom since they quickly became the dominant form of transportation. Naturally, a good portion of the wealthiest Americans were men who owned railroads, since no matter what sector of the economy was growing products, people and raw materials had to be shipped from one side of the country to the other. By the end of the century, small railroads were failing or being bought up by the larger railroads and the industry was in the process of consolidating. This left many parts of rural America with a single railroad providing service either because they didn't have enough to ship to make two railroads profitable or all the railroads in the area were owned by a single person/corporation.
It was common practice for large shippers like Rockefeller's Standard Oil to get discounts well below the normal freight rates say a small farmer would get. I'm sure you can see why a railroad would be willing to accept a much smaller profit per car from a company that filled a predictable and large number of trains on a daily basis and the farmer who purchased a few cars irregularly. Most railroads also charged more for short distance hauls than for long distance hauls, which many small/regional businesses saw as discriminatory towards them. While Rockefeller had more money to negotiate with, the farmers had more votes and was a pretty powerful constituency, demand for railroad regulation became prevalent by the end of the 1800's.
In 1998 I was diagnosed with NHL. So much easier to type that than non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, not only because of its brevity but it seems to make it easier to disassociate myself from it. I went though 6 chemo treatments and went into remission for a decade plus.
I think your god is too small for me, too weak, too…human.
He has anger issues, and jealousies. He needs constant reassurance of his own godliness. He’s petty and cruel (just ask Job’s family). He’s a poor judge of character, just look at his favorites, his patriarchs, Murderers, liars, thieves and incestuous to boot.
He’s a sexist, misogynistic in the extreme.
He seems obsessed with genitalia, snipping, clipping and hiding them. He’s capricious and malign, hardening hearts for the sheer pleasure of meeting out punishments. His sadism knows no bounds (Here, Abe, kill your only son for me…just kidding, slaughter this sheep instead.)
I Love the Scientific Method…
You get an idea, a grand inspiration and you spend years nurturing it, developing it, testing it over and over and examining it from every angle you can think of. Finally, after exhausting all your physical, emotional and frequently financial resources, you present your idea, your theory; your baby to the world.
The first thing that happens, the VERY first thing is a whole raft of other people in your specialty, friends, colleagues perhaps even your old grad school room mate do everything in their power, bring all their collected intellects, resources and time and focus it all on ripping your baby to shreds before your eyes .
Before the ink is dry on the publication, before you can say ‘peer review’, your life’s work can lay in tatters at your feet.
And if it still lives… if you can retrieve the pieces of your professional dignity and the remaining bits of your masterpiece… even if it survives the feeding frenzy that is peer review, there will always be critics, trailing like remora, feeding off of any tasty chunks they can pry off.
That’s the way it works… only the strong survive, Darwin’s Theory in academia. Speaking of which…
Post Civil War America created the perfect conditions for the development of massive corporations and the emergence of a few men as the captains of industry or the more derogatory term robber barons. This is due to a variety of factors- labor became extremely cheap with a multitude of former slaves now faced with the unenviable position of having to provide for themselves and their families with no education, facing extreme racism and absolutely no significant personal property. Many of them headed north in hopes of getting jobs in factories or west in hopes of getting jobs building railroads and were willing to work far cheaper than whites. Add in large populations of Chinese were immigrating in due to economic problems in China and soldiers returning from war looking for new work and you have the ingredients of a depressed labor market.
Another key factor was the railroads which had expanded dramatically to assist the war efforts of both sides leaving a new, faster and cheaper form of transportation throughout most of the east and was ready to expand west. Taking advantage of the cheap labor railroads quickly expanded, both privately and through government projects making it possible to exploit the natural resources in large areas of the midwest and eventually the rockies that were previously too far away to be useful. Areas that once took months to reach by wagon were could now be reached in days. Led by the railroads, virtually every industry experienced a boom; especially agriculture, steel, coal and oil.