TV ghost-hunters have raided electronic stores for every possible piece of testing equipment that can produce pseudo-scientific drama with speculative data. They use them to span the intellectual and logical gaps –to attribute perfectly natural phenomena to the paranormal or supernatural without any further explanation as to why. Anecdotal evidence is not research. So, it’s no surprise to learn that the GhostHunterStore sells Geiger counters:
A geiger counter can be very useful in an investigation for monitoring the changes in the background radiation of a location. Researchers have found that ambient radiation seems to be drained or increased in the presents [sic] of ghosts. Geiger counters have been shown to be effective in paranormal investigation since the 1970′s and are recommended by ghosthunters such as Troy Taylor and Peter Underwood. [my emphasis]
Yes, what a wonderful “present” a ghost would make. It’s better than a pet rock, and no wrapping is required. And it’s value and size are left up to the imagination. Splurge if you wish, give a friend a dozen ghosts for their birthday. You can easily confirm your ghostly “purchase” (wink, wink) because radiation levels increase or decrease in their presence. Talk about hedging your bets. Up or down and you win. If the level remains steady, I guess it means that your ghost is dead or just resting after a long haunting.
OK, Ricky Gervais thanked god for his atheism, at the end of the Golden Globe Awards as the credits were rolling. So what? We’re always subjected to performers thanking god for their success. Fair is fair. A little equal time is nothing to be afraid of. Well, I guess it is if you’re a Christian proselytizer or politically correct douche. The NY Daily News melodramatically summarized Ricky’s comment:
Gervais insults religious contingent: As the credits were about to hit the screen, Gervais couldn’t help but get in one last jibe. “Thank you to God for making me an atheist,” he said before signing off.
So when an atheist proclaims his lack of belief it’s an insult to all the believers in the room? Religious belief is ironically fragile –even when it’s in the majority, it still seems to feel threatened by one dissenting voice in the crowd.
In Kirk Cameron’s stunted imagination, “if evolution were true”, we ought to see “one animal transitioning into another”; for example, an individual crocodile literally transforming into a bird, with the intermediate being a Crocoduck, a perfect half-and-half creature, like a decimal half way between two integers. Well, tucked away in my childhood, toy depository, I have just such a creature. No, I have three such creatures. Welcome to the Kirk Cameron Zoo.
Behold, the magnificent Chickow
Recoil before the teetering Giraffant
Gaze upon the creepy Catogator.
The tragedy of Kirk Cameron is that he’s fixated on a definition of evolution that doesn’t exist in the real world, the adult world. Kirk, here’s a bit of advice from your own medicine cabinet –the Bible.
Corinthians 13:11 — “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
A survey asking about people’s knowledge of religion has some not-so-surprising results. Protestants and Catholics are less knowledgeable about their own religion’s doctrines than atheists, Jews, and Mormons.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. [Yahoo News]
In addition, Americans don’t grasp the secular laws that protect both government and religion, the separation of church and state.
The study also found that many Americans don’t understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.
“Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are,” Pew researchers wrote. [Yahoo News]
Questions concerning Charles Darwin and evolution were included in the survey.
Respondents were also asked, “And which of these court trials focused on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?” and offered the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education, 3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn’t know. [Nation center For Science Education]
Nothing particularly surprising in the results. The Pew Research Center’s report is here (PDF).
No matter how well a person states something, no matter how eloquent, mild mannered, and straightforward they are, religious drones will find some way of belittling and warping the initial message. Promoting a reverence for Christianity only protects Christians; promoting freedom of speech protects everyone. But some Christians miss this point entirely and criticize writers like Philip Pullman for writing an “offensive” book they don’t have to buy or read. And then some of them sometimes ask why Western atheists don’t speak blasphemously of Allah, too. What’s most disturbing is the envy that question betrays.
What in the world is it? It’s not a dinosaur that’s for sure. It’s of the genus Dimetrodon, and lived during the Permian Period, 280 to 265 million years ago, predating dinosaurs by a good 35 million years. More closely related to mammals than to reptiles, Dimetrodon measured about 1o feet long, and had two types of teeth, hence the name Dimetrodon, which means Di (two)- metro(measure)-odon(tooth). Having a variety of tooth types, with multiple cusps, is a characteristic of mammals, not reptiles, to name just one of the many differences between the two groups. And finally there’s the NEW T-Shirt that tells the world that you know that it’s NOT a dinosaur. Unfortunately, the vagueness of the shirt may lead the uninitiated to think that you’re declaring that you’re not obsolete just yet.
To the person who shouted ‘Baby Killer’ in the US House Of Representatives at Congressman Stupak from Michigan. Unless you come forward and own your outburst, you are a COWARD of the highest order.
And the shouter comes forward, sort of. It’s Rep. Randy Neugebauer from Texas. But his backbone’s jelly-like consistency prevents him from standing up fully.
I invariably regret it when I check out the insipid stories linked through AOL News. (Old e-mail accounts are a burden.) Not only is the quality of the reporting from these junior outlets surpassed by that of any high school newspaper, the comments left, which I can’t help from browsing — are inherently vacuous. This time the story I fell upon is about an unfortunate 4-year-old boy, named Luke, who was struck by a foul ball at a baseball game. He suffered a skull fracture and is currently in a medically-induced coma. The reporter and several of those who left comments couldn’t help but stick religion in the reader’s face. The reporter said:
Luke was hit Sept. 2 at a minor league game in Niles, Ohio. We may never know why it happened, but what’s happened since should restore your faith in people. It might even restore your faith in faith.
Maybe this nutwing will never know why it happened, but I already know. And I think I may speak for all reasonable people when I say they know, too. It was a mere accident. Even the distraught mother said so in the video. And why would a well trained and responsive medical team restore my faith in faith? A commenter took the god slant further:
May God’s healing hand touch this precious young boy. I pray God is with his parents, giving them strength and faith in this critical time of his recovery. Also, prayers for the ballplayer, may he find comfort and peace.
In tragic cases such as this, religious minions are quick to grab credit for their non-existent deity. If the boy survives god will receive their praise, even though god didn’t prevent the accident. But if the boy dies, I’m sure the same minions will lay blame elsewhere, on the non-existent devil, perhaps. It’s not like the god of the Old Testament ever killed a child –well, except in some of those fire-and-brimstone stories, which are simultaneously and conveniently open to wide and narrow interpretation. That worldwide flood must have killed millions of innocent children. On the other hand, modern medicine has saved countless. Who to trust?
When tragedies occur and people insist on praying for deliverance, the one thing I find most insufferable is that humans can’t admit to themselves that they are sometimes helpless. Prayer is the delusion of certainty that humans have control over everything just by asking the Sky Daddy to intervene. And encouraging children to believe in prayer sets them up for disappointment when god doesn’t provide. Pray to your heart’s content, but don’t expect me to join in, and don’t condemn me as a heartless bastard when I don’t. Supporting modern medicine and reason is the best way to help children like Luke.