News From Around The Blogosphere 11.29.09

November 30, 2009

1. Michael Egnor & the Discovery Institute expose their anti-science bias – I’ve blogged about Egnor before, linking to the blog debate where Steven Novella refuted his every flawed, ridiculous argument in favor of a “soul.” Now he’s jumping on the so-called “ClimateGate” fiasco, where he insists, like so many other denialists, that a whole lot of private, innocuous emails climate scientists is somehow the smoking gun evidence that global warming is false. Of course he doesn’t pinpoint any statements in any of the emails that would lead any rational person to this conclusion. But who needs facts when you’ve got faith? Egnor proves once again how egnorant he can be.


Is that a serious headline?

2. Uganda proposes death penalty to HIV-positive gays – It suddenly becomes very clear why Uganda is known for having the best medical care in the world. Oh wait. No, it doesn’t. The positive news is that this suggests that maybe not all the Neanderthals did die out after all. Though it’s not really fair to blame Uganda. Stupidity this large can only come from one source:  the U.S.’s own THE FAMILY. I’m looking at you Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Bart Stupak and Rep. Joe Pitts. Can we please lock these psychopaths up now?

3. Ray “The Banana Man” Comfort gave a full interview to the Friendly Atheist – You can read the whole thing in all its idiocy in the link above.

4. The first honest homeopathy product? – As you can clearly read on the packaging, homeopaths have developed the first ever non-drowsy sleep aid. May I be the first to congratulate them on this amazing breakthrough. Good job, guys. Good job.

5. The official wine of woo – Age of Autism took some time off from shilling bogus autism treatments for profit to shill some silly wine site called “Wines For Autism.” Now at first the site might seem fine. It’s supporting autism awareness after all. So how bad could it b–oh:

From witnessing my son’s significant progress I have made it my goal to spread awareness of the effectiveness of biomedical interventions while supporting charities that share my beliefs.

In other words, she wishes to promote those who support her particular delusion and no actual scientific organization researching autism will receive a dime. In other words, she’s going to exploit autism pseudoscience to make money.

It’s sort of like my business where I sell used cars and give some of the profits to cancer research (please note:  cancer research means those promoting trepanning as an effective cancer treatment). Actually, now that I think about it, this whole story makes me feel like bludgeoning my skull with a large stick so that all that stupid can seep out of my brain.

6. Iron Jesus!

Natural disasters blamed on porn?

November 29, 2009

Okay, porn isn’t directly mentioned in the article but it’s safe to say that the “immorality” being blamed for Indonesia’s problems probably includes porn in addition to just about everything else that’s associated with either pleasure or modernity.

The Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information (yes, that’s actually his title) Tifatul Sembiring knows what’s responsible for all of Indonesia’s recent natural disasters. It’s gotta be all that “immorality.”

Apparently, Sembiring comes from the Bronze Age school of thought that says that bad fortune is caused by angry gods who are punishing us for our immoral behavior:

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that there were many television programmes that destroyed morals.

Therefore, the minister said, natural disasters would continue to occur.

His comments came as he addressed a prayer meeting on Friday in Padang, Sumatra, which was hit by a powerful earthquake in late September.

Well maybe that’s your problem, Minister. Maybe you’re praying to the wrong gods. Or maybe you’re praying to the right gods but they’re either modest or simply don’t want to be disturbed with every chicken-shit problem you come across, and so don’t want you to pray to them. Or maybe this is punishment for wearing pants. Ever think of that? Notice how there are no natural disasters happening when you’re not wearing pants. Coincidence?

My favorite part of the BBC news piece is this little gem:

According to the Jakarta Globe, his comments sparked an angry reaction on the internet, particularly among those who followed him on social networking site Twitter.

This guy fears the wrath of ancient, angry boogymen but he’s got Twitter? Well I think we’ve found the culprit right there. No primitive deity can be okay with Twitter.

The heroes of autism?

November 29, 2009

I noticed the person who made this video forgot to mention all those, you know, medical researchers who actually work on finding effective autism treatments every single day, opting for these intellectual deficients instead.

If these are the “autism heroes,” I have to say that the person who made this video has extraordinarily low standards for hero worship.

Atheists winning the ‘War on Christmas’?

November 28, 2009

Church and State separation is being followed in Washington:

It’s also being followed in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania:

Poor Fox News.

And also in Pennsylvania, the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, which my brother is involved with, has put up their new annual holiday display, the Tree of Knowledge.

This is my favorite of all the holiday season displays because it says all the right things. It’s not even an atheist display. It’s about promoting the free marketplace of ideas. On the tree are the covers of numerous books including philosophy texts, various religious holy books, and books of religious criticism by the so-called “New Atheist” aurthors. I hope that next year, other cities will follow suit with their own Tree of Knowledge displays, particularly New York. This definitely looks like a job for New York’s Center For Inquiry.

Happy Season of Reason everybody!

Even more sexual abuse news in Catholic Church

November 27, 2009

Yesterday, I blogged about how the Catholic Church was getting away with covering up hundreds of child abuse cases despite investigators’ having no reasonable doubt of their crimes.

And now it seems that a former Catholic nun, Sister Jesme,  in India is releasing an autobiography called Amen, which alleges that church officials of both genders regularly broke their vows of celibacy as well as regularly forced novices into sex.

The author reveals that she herself was such a victim of sexual harassment, having been propositioned in the confession box by a priest who cited biblical references to “divine kisses.”

Later she was cornered by a lesbian nun at a college where they were teaching. “She would come to my bed in the night and do lewd acts and I could not stop her,” she claims.When she was sent to Bangalore to stay with a priest known for his piety, he lectured her about the need for “physical love” and later assaulted her.

“Back in his room, he tried to fondle me and when I resisted, got up and asked angrily if I had seen a man. When I said no, he stripped himself, ejaculated and forced me to strip,” she writes.

According to Sister Jesme, senior church officials twice tried to admit her into rehabilitation clinics and claimed she had mental problems after she complained about the scale of sexual abuse and the number of illicit affairs between nuns and priests.

And like in Ireland and the rest of the world, this is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to Catholic sex abuse:

The Catholic Church in India is mired in a series of sexual controversies, and has only just begun to recover from the dismissal of a senior bishop who “adopted” an attractive 26-year-old female companion as his “daughter”.

Oh, and the best part comes at the end of the Telegraph article, when one church official is quoted as saying something so delusional and repulsive that it just further proves yesterday’s thesis that Catholic Church is an evil organization that must be destroyed:

Dr Paul Thelekkat, a spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Catholic church said he had some sympathy for sister Jesme, and respected her freedom to express her views, but he believed her claims were trivial. “How far what she says is well-founded I can’t say, but the issues are not very serious. We’re living with human beings in a community and she should realise this is part of human life,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

You said it, Dr Paul Thelekkat. What’s this chick’s problem? Rape is such a trivial matter hardly worth anybody’s attention. It was probably her own fault anyway for being such an attractive temptation. Besides the Bible clearly says women ought to be submit to men.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Catholic Church.

Irish officials say there’s ‘no doubt’ high-ranking Catholic officials covered up massive child abuse

November 27, 2009

I’ve blogged before about the case of the Catholic-run reform schools in Ireland that were exposed to have covered up many decades of child abuse (here, here, here, and here). And that’s when I guess Ireland concluded that while massive conspiracy to cover up child rape is bad, it’s not nearly as bad as criticizing the organization responsible for said conspiracy and child rape, so they decided naturally to pass blasphemy laws forbidding the insulting of such an institution.

Well, the latest update on the story is that the Catholic Church has been given immunity for covering up the child abuse. . .despite, you know, the fact that the commission investigating the case overwhelmingly concluded that they had “no doubt” that high ranking Church authorities did in fact cover up the abuse to protect their own asses:

Authorities enjoyed a cosy relationship with the Church and did not enforce the law as four archbishops, obsessed with secrecy and avoiding scandal, protected abusers and reputations at all costs, the report said..

Hundreds of crimes against children from the 1960s to the 1990s were not reported while police treated clergy as though they were above the law.

In a three-year inquiry, the Commission to Inquire into the Dublin Archdiocese uncovered a sickening tactic of ”don’t ask, don’t tell” throughout the Church.

”The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities,” it said.

”The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up.

”The State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes.”

Four archbishops – John Charles McQuaid who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara who died in 1987, and retired Cardinal Desmond Connell – did not hand over information on abusers.

The first files were handed over by the Cardinal in 1995 but even then he had records of complaints against at least 28 priests.

The primary loyalty of bishops and archbishops is to the Church, the report said.

Bishop James Kavanagh, Bishop Dermot O’Mahony, Bishop Laurence Forristal, Bishop Donal Murray and disgraced Bishop Brendan Comiskey, a reformed alcoholic who failed to control paedophile priests when in charge of the Ferns Diocese, all knew about child abuse for many years.

The inquiry, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, said the hierarchy cannot claim they did not know that child sex abuse was a crime.

The facts are these:

While the Dublin Archdiocese inquiry found no evidence of a paedophile ring, some of the most shocking findings included:

  • One priest admitted sexually abusing more than 100 children;
  • Another accepted he abused on a fortnightly basis during his 25-year ministry;
  • One complaint was made against a priest who later admitted abusing at least six other children;
  • It took police 20 years to decide on a prosecution of one priest.

The inquiry said it uncovered inappropriate contacts between authorities and the Archdiocese.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s so many more examples of Church officials and police officials looking the other way while children were raped and abused at the hands of this organized crime syndocate known to the world as the Catholic Church. Nowhere but the Catholic Church will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

After the recent news of Australian government officials going after Scientology’s tax exempt status and labeling them a criminal organization, the more we learn about the mass child abuse cover-ups by the Catholic Church, the more obvious it becomes that Scientology’s abuses are a drop in the bucket next to that of the Catholic Church. Not only does the U.S. have a moral responsibility to revoke Catholic tax exemption but anyone who continues to support the Church after learning how willing its high-ranking officials are to sacrifice hundreds if not thousands of children to protect the Church’s reputation, should be considered complicit in these crimes. It is no wonder that Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry were so effective in convincing a recent debate audience that the Catholic church is far from a force for good in the world. Every Catholic should be outraged at their church’s hypocrisy as well as its utter lack of humanity and remorse for the unspeakable, unforgivable atrocities it’s committed.

Every sane individual on Earth should be demanding justice for these victims of Catholicism. It shouldn’t just be the atheists calling for action. Every person with even an ounce of compassion should be shouting for the Church leaders to stand trial for their crimes against humanity. Where is the outrage?

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.09

November 26, 2009

1. Suicide bomber Barbie – Okay, actually it’s just Barbie in a burqa. This only goes to show that Barbie will never stop keeping women down in society. But I guess at least it’s for a good cause:

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

2. War on Christmas continues with new athvertisement – And though I really shouldn’t have to say this, of course there’s no such thing as the “War on Christmas.” But it’s fun to play along with Fox News’ little conspiratorial delusion. The American Humanist Association is sponsoring a new nation-wide campaign involving ads with the slogan, “No God? …No problem! Be good for goodness’ sake.” This is the latest variation on a common theme. And despite the fact that it doesn’t say anything negative at all about anyone’s religion, I guarantee that it won’t be long before we hear from outraged Christians who feel personally slighted by the ad.

3. Marietta, Georgia considers dropping “so help me God” from police officer oath – Of course there’s some strange controversy over it. Councilman Van Pearlberg apparently just inquired as to whether it had ever been challenged, which somehow led to the option to remove it being considered. Pearlberg, however, claims he never actually objected to it and thinks it should not be removed, while also saying, “I don’t think anybody should be forced to say anything…I just don’t know what the alternative would be.” Keep it as part of the oath or give people the freedom to say what they want? Which is it? They’re mutually exclusive positions. If what you’re saying is that people should not be required to say it but they can should they be so inclined, then why not just obey the Constitution and remove it while leaving open the option for individuals to unofficially include it should they desire to do so?

4. Matt Barber blames everyone for Will Phillips’ decision except Will Phillips – Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right organization, has publicly come out to respond to 10-year-old Will Phillips’ decision to not stand for the Pledge until gay marriage is legalized. Basically, that response is simply ranting about how all of Barber’s ideological opponents are responsible for brainwashing the kid. He’s apparently a pawn of his evil parents, liberals, atheists, gay activists, Hollywood, etc. To whoever that newscaster was who asked Will Phillips what a gay-wad was, Matt Barber’s your man. Hopefully Jon Stewart can dispatch some pro wrestlers to force an apology. What I want to know is, who is responsible for Matt Barber’s being a flaming moron?

5. Small children prove more knowledgeable about evolution than Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron:

6. Chris Matthews vs. Bishop Tobin over recent Catholic extortion tactic:

Hitler makes a good point about peer review

November 26, 2009

Orac also has some comments about this.

Skeptical All-Stars turn out for Skepticon 2

November 26, 2009

Can’t wait to see some of that footage.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.24.09

November 25, 2009

1. Happy 150th Birthday, Origin of Species! – That’s right. The little book that changed the world, single-handedly rendered even a deist god unnecessary, and made it truly possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist has just turned the Big 1-5-0! CNN’s published a brief retrospective from Richard Dawkins. Suck it, Kirk Cameron!

Then again, CNN also published some creationist nonsense from Stephen Meyer. In his bio, they claim the Discovery Institute “supports research challenging ‘neo-Darwinian theory’ and supports work on the theory of ‘intelligent design.’ “ Of course this isn’t actually wrong because it never says the D.I. actually DOES any research; it just supports the idea of research. Of course cdesign proponentsists have yet to ever present a means of properly testing their claims or of showing any practical applications of their “research.” And of course if you limit your “research” to a taking a specific position on a scientific argument, you’ve already exposed your bias. But let’s not quibble over small details like that.

2. LHC creates its first collisions – They grow up so fast, don’t they. It seems like only a year ago that people were freaking out that it’s going to destroy the world and now our boy’s all grown up and smashing shit. Before you know it, it’ll be married and having its own baby colliders.

3. Study finds cannabis little more than placebo in cancer patients – This will no doubt come as an even bigger disappointment to the 4/20 crowd.

4. Iraq bribes citizens to get married – American conservative Christians pay attention. THAT’S TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE. But it’s not just any marriage. The Iraqi government is trying to promote interreligious marriage specifically, which is almost kinda progressive when you think about it, as ill-conceived as the overall plan seems to be.

About a dozen mixed couples will take part in a mass wedding Friday and will receive their $2,000 gifts, Mohammed said. An additional 375 same-sect couples will join the celebration, but they’ll receive $750, Mohammed said. The government wants to help those cash-strapped couples in getting their start, he said.

Did they say “same-sex” couples? Oops, my mistake. I misread it. But at least the government sees value in encouraging hetero-sect-ual relationships in an effort to heal tensions.

5. Michael Jackson’s trapped in someone’s womb! – That’s what expecting parents Dawn Kelley and William Hickman see in Dawn’s latest ultrasound. But even though you don’t think it looks like Michael Jackson, they’re not crazy. Even their six-year-old daughter agrees that it looks like Michael Jackson. And who’d know Michael Jackson better than a small child (That’s right. I went there)? But I guess we won’t know for sure until Dawn starts to feel the baby moon-walking.

6. Pennsylvania Avenue turns to Sesame Street to promote math and science

To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists.

I think we all know that The Count was born for this job.