News From Around The Blogosphere 10.1.08

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION & DENIGRATION:

Atheists in Foxholes – Another soldier, Spc. Dustin Chalker, has charged the U.S. military with discriminating against him for being an atheist.

Not that this idiotic hate-mongering comes as a surprise from the mouth of Bill O’Reilly but Bill-O had this to say:

“Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know a bold, fresh guy, a barbarian who was raised in a working-class home and retains the lessons he learned there.

“Then mention to that atheist that this guy is now watched and listened to, on a daily basis, by millions of people all over the world and, to boot, sells millions of books.

“Then, while the non-believer is digesting all that, ask him or her if they still don’t believe there’s a God!”

Process of gradual change over time–hmm, sounds a lot like Evolution to me. But yeah, Bill, I still don’t believe there’s a god. Try presenting some evidence next time. Thanks. But what bothers me about this really comes down to the total double standard in our society. If Bill had said something like this bigoted about women, blacks, gays, Jews, Muslims, or any minority group it would be followed by a major media and public out lash. Remember Mel Gibson? Don Imus? But because Bill’s despicable and hateful rhetoric happens to be towards the least respected minority group in the country (correction: now the second least respected minority in the country–thanks Scientology), it goes unacknowledged in the media. Though this isn’t nearly as bad as Paula Zahn’s infamous panel on atheism last year on CNN:

ANTIVACCINE NEWS:

Speaking of CNN and stupidity, guess who paid CNN a little visit? Yup, the woman who is single-handedly keeping the dumb blonde stereotype alive: Jenny McCarthy – What really irks me about this the most is that whenever a skeptical voice gets heard the media feels compelled to invite a pseudo-scientist on as well in a misguided attempt to seem “fair and balanced” when it’s really a false balance given that the evidence is clearly far on more on the side of the skeptic than the true believer who’s got nothing but anecdotes. And yet, when they invite on cranks like McCarthy, the media’s “need” for balance is suddenly non-existent. Like with the panel on atheism embedded above where Paula Zahn didn’t see the need to invite an actual atheist on to contribute to the discussion, here CNN seems to have made no attempt to invite, say, Dr. Paul Offit on even though they’re discussing his book. How do I know they didn’t contact Offit? Cause if they had he’d certainly be there given that he’d get to promote his new book on CNN while getting a rare opportunity to demolish antivaccination claims in front of the entire CNN audience.

And of course this segment brings up another issue I have with the current state of mainstream news media: where are the hardball questions?! What happened to the days of Edward R. Murrow, Woodward, and Burnstein when reporters would actually INVESTIGATE and ask tough questions. Jenny says her son is cured of a disorder with no known cure and this dumbass reporter doesn’t think to inquire further about it?? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! I took some reporting and journalism classes at NYU and I happen to know for a fact that they teach this shit in the most basic Journalism classes. Where did this moron get her degree? Liberty University? If Jenny’s kid is cured why’d she say she was considering chelation therapy only a few months ago? And if as she says, she’s not antivaccine then why does she say that if she had another kid she would never get them vaccinated? And why won’t she explain exactly what needs to be done to convince her vaccines are safe? These are basic questions!

Jenny McCarthyism – Oh, and about that Jenny story I blogged about yesterday where she attacked Amanda Peet again, the antivaccinationists didn’t waste much time before employing their standard McCarthyist (as in Joe McCarthy) tactic of accusing Amanda Peet of being another paid plant by the monolithically, maniacal evil “Big Pharma” that gets applied to EVERYONE who disagrees with them. So yeah, I’m coining the phrase “Jenny McCarthyism” to distinguish the antivaccinationist use of this age-old intimidation tactic.

CENSORSHIP NEWS:

Pat Condell’s latest video removed from YouTube – Oddly, this particular video was nothing new for Condell. Like so many of his other videos, it featured him intelligently and humorously railing against religion, Islam, and particularly against the UK’s recent adoption of Sharia law. The video was titled Saudi Britain. Condell responded to the censorship by saying:

“THE VIDEO HAD OVER 40,000 HITS IN THE 24 HOURS IT WAS UP, AND IT WAS THE TOP RATED VIDEO ON THE WHOLE OF YOUTUBE. YOU CAN STILL SEE IT AT MY WEBSITE:
http://www.patcondell.net”

And speaking of YouTube censorship. . .

Did YouTube attempt to ban the Eucharist desecrating videos? – 2 days ago, I blogged about Catholic outrage over YouTubers making their own videos “desecrating” the Eucharist along with their attempts to pressure YouTube to ban the videos. Well earlier today, PZ Myers posted a blog that indicated that YouTube had removed the offending videos and had suspended the most prominent offender’s account. But now the account and the videos seem to be active. Maybe YouTube came to their senses or maybe PZ’s readers pressured YouTube to restore the account and videos (PZ’s poll-crashing entries tend to show he’s got an enormous like-minded readership) or maybe PZ made a mistake. I think the second option sounds most likely. Either way, last I checked, anyone in the world could still view FSMdude’s cracker “desecration” videos and free speech has won the day.

QUACK NEWS:

Vitamin C supplements can actually blunt the effects of chemotherapy drugs by 30-70% – Take that, Tom Cruise! And take that otherwise brilliant multiple-Nobel-Prize-winning Linus Pauling! More details here. And on a related note, you can read about the potential uselessness of vitamin supplements in general right here.

A personal story of alt. med. obsession – If the true believers get to use emotional appeals through personal anecdotes, why can’t we? Especially since we have the evidence as well.

Defining Holistic “Medicine”

On cognitive dissonance & CAM

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Bill Donohue & his Catholic League goons compile Bill Maher’s greatest hits – In anticipating for Maher’s film, Religulous, they compiled a list of quotes of Maher’s most strident attacks on irrational thinking, particularly against Catholicism. And once again these guys’ attempts to harm their critics is likely to backfire and draw more attention and publicity to the film. Thanks Catholic League!

Speaking of Bill Maher, he was on The View to discuss his new film Religulous. Hilarity, of a sort, ensued.

The ubiquitousness of the spiritual memoir – Here is a review of Danya Ruttenberg’s “Suprised By God” as well as a comment about the growing number of similar mediocre spiritual memoirs growing in popularity these days.

OTHER SKEPTICAL NEWS:

Why Psi is not recognized by mainstream science – Steve Novella addresses ESP researcher Dean Radin’s response to one of Novella’s earlier blogs. Specifically, he points out that mainstream science’s acceptance of dark matter and dark energy, both phenomena that were once outside of what was known by science and which are still a mysterious, debunks the classic straw man argument from true believers that skeptical scientists just refuse to accept that anything outside of current scientific understanding.

Texan scientists have organized under the banner of The 21st Century Science Coalition to ensure nothing less than the best education for their kids – Hopefully we’ll see this action repeated in the other 49 states as well.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Canada’s Shores Saved Ancient Animals – “The shorelines of ancient Alberta, British Columbia and the Canadian Arctic were an important refuge for some of the world’s earliest animals, most of which were wiped out by a mysterious global extinction event some 252 million years ago.”

Disease Diagnosis In Just 15 Minutes? – “Testing for diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis could soon be as simple as using a pregnancy testing kit.”

‘Hub’ Of Fear Memory Formation In Brain Cells – “A protein required for the earliest steps in embryonic development also plays a key role in solidifying fear memories in the brains of adult animals, scientists have revealed. An apparent “hub” for changes in the connections between brain cells, beta-catenin could be a potential target for drugs to enhance or interfere with memory formation.”

Nanoparticles Can Breech Body’s Skin Barrier – “Scientists are finding that particles that are barely there – tiny objects known as nanoparticles that have found a home in electronics, food containers, sunscreens, and a variety of applications – can breach our most personal protective barrier: The skin.”

Artificial Nose: Engineers Make Smell Receptors – “MIT biological engineers have found a way to mass-produce smell receptors in the laboratory, an advance that paves the way for “artificial noses” to be created and used in a variety of settings.”

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