News From Around The Blogosphere 2.22.10

February 23, 2010

1. Sign the online petition to support libel reform in the UK – You don’t have to be from the UK to sign it. And you can find out more at the Libel Reform website.

2. Why loved ones of Andrew Wakefield should maybe go on suicide watch – Okay, this article by David Gorski doesn’t actually announce any breaking news about Dr. Evil but it’s an excellent summation of why these have been the worst two months of his life as well as the worst two months of the whole anti-vaccine movement since the initial publishing of Wakefield’s now retracted Lancet paper twelve years ago.

Now that even Wakefield’s own Thoughtful House has told him to leave, there’s really not much of a chance that he’ll ever work in anything resembling the medical field again. At best, he’ll have to make his leaving going on speaking tours where he’ll just be speaking to his slowly diminishing echo chamber of followers. This cannot be where he thought his life would end up. Now I’m not saying I’m hoping for him to kill himself. Zeus knows he’d only become a bigger martr to the anti-vax crowd. But it’s really looking bleak for him so I can’t say I’d be surprised if it happened.

And in other good news in the fight against bogus medical quackery. . .

3. UK’s NHS is expected to stop funding homeopathy with tax dollars – 2010 is already shaping up to be as crippling to homeopathy as 2009 was to $cientology.

4. And guess who’s dismissing the recent Pediatrics study on autism – That’s right, it’s our old friend Jenny McCarthy.

5. Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized for saying people with disabilities are punishments from “God” against women who had abortions

Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized Monday to people with disabilities for remarks suggesting that women who have abortions risk having later children with birth defects as a punishment from God.

Marshall (R-Prince William) made the comment Thursday at a news conference calling for an end to state funding to Planned Parenthood. Calling the nonprofit group “Planned Barrenhood,” Marshall joined the Virginia Christian Alliance, several African American ministers and others who blamed the abortion provider for a host of social ills.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Marshall said.

But don’t worry. I’m sure Sarah Palin, defender of the disabled, will speak out against this Republican any moment now for his insensitivity. Yup, any moment. It’s coming. Just gonna keep waiting for that condemnation from Sarah Palin, the only politician who wouldn’t dream of exploiting sympathy for her Down Syndrome kid. Sarah, we’re waiting! I definitely recommend everyone literally hold their breath because, based on the recent Family Guy incident (which incidentally that episode had an awesome skeptical plot about psychics), that’s how soon we should expect to hear Palin’s moral outrage about insulting the disabled.

Well while we wait, let’s watch Angie the anti-theist, who’s having an abortion. . .right now:

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.5.10

January 6, 2010

1. Maybe the G-spot issue isn’t settled afterallYesterday, I posted a story about a study that suggested the G-spot is a myth. And today I saw an interesting response to that study, so I figured I’d link to it.

2. Why is Barbara Loe Fisher suing Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Wired Magazine in Virginia? – Another story I blogged about yesterday was the libel lawsuit anti-vaccinationist from Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center against their critics. It seems that she’s suing them in Virginia even though Offit resides in Pennsylvania, Wallace resides in California, and Conde Nast’s offices are in New York. And though this is pure speculation at this time, Orac thinks he may know why? Those states have laws against strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). But Virginia doesn’t. Of course I don’t think it will help her case for the reasons explained in the previous blog on this case linked to above.

3. Christopher Hitchens debates with Unitarian Minister Marilyn Sewell – Well worth the listen. The transcript is also available.

4. Margaret Downey trying to organize atheists in Washington – Margaret Downey of Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia has proposed organizing a Unity Convention to assemble members of all the various atheist organizations around the country in the nation’s capitol. I guess this would be a kind of atheist “Million Man March.” I’m all for it but I have to admit that I’m very impatient. I’ve heard some say it can’t happen until 2014 but I’d like to see it happen in 2010.

5. Is sex the best way to prevent crime and war?

If our distorted relationship with human sexuality is the source of much of this frustration, confusion, and ignorance, societies with less conflicted views should confirm the causal connection. Developmental neuropsychologist James Prescott found that bodily pleasure and violence seem to have an either/or relationship—the presence of one inhibits development of the other.

6. What’s the harm in “alternative” “medicine”? – Remember the story of Daniel Houser, the kid with Hodgkin limphoma who was court ordered to receive chemotherapy, which eventually saved his life after a short period when his mother kidnapped him to prevent evil medicine from saving him? Well, for every Daniel Houser there’s at least one Tamar Stitt. Ten-year-old Tamar wasn’t so lucky. She died because her alt-med-loving parents smuggled her out of Australia following a court order to get her chemotherapy for her rare liver cancer. THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT! THIS IS THE HARM DONE BY “ALTERNATIVE” “MEDICINE!”

7. Clusters of autism cases in California may point to possible environmental factors – We’ve been down this road before. There have been other clusters of autism and it’s not uncommon for randomness to result in the appearance of clusters. But it’s definitely worth investigating.

Oppose H. Res. 397: Affirming the “Religious History” of our Nation

May 6, 2009

shredding-constitutionRep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, the Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sponsored House Resolution 397:

Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as “America’s Spiritual Heritage Week” for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

This guy is willing to waste federal time and money on this bullshit during an economic crisis. Guess which political party he belongs to. I bet you can.

Of course the bill is full of cherry picked facts that bare no resemblence to the reality of this nation’s history but were themselves just earlier examples of the Religious Right succeeding in pushing their agenda forward one small legislation at a time, which is obvious when you look at their 75 “Whereas” statements. Here’s a few examples:

Whereas in 1853, the United States Senate declared that the Founding Fathers ‘had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people . . . they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy’;

Whereas in 1954, Congress by law added the phrase ‘one nation under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance;

Whereas in 1954, a special Congressional Prayer Room was added to the Capitol with a kneeling bench, an altar, an open Bible, an inspiring stained-glass window with George Washington kneeling in prayer, the declaration of Psalm 16:1: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust,’ and the phrase ‘This Nation Under God’ displayed above the kneeling, prayerful Washington;

Whereas in 1956, Congress by law made ‘In God We Trust’ the National Motto, and added the phrase to American currency;

This illustrates quite well why atheists need to fight the little battles others deem not worth the effort, like the “Under God” in The Pledge or the “In God We Trust” on the money. As long as they exist, they’ll always be exploited by douches like this who dishonestly try to paint our secular nation as a Christian one.

This bill is an insult to both the Founding Fathers and the 15% of Americans who have no imaginary friends in the sky and who are sick of bigoted assholes like this rewriting our nation’s history to suit their religio-political agenda.

If you want to get involved, just click here to go to the Secular Coalition for America’s action alert.