Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: fairy tales

Facepalm #56,751,331

From today’s NY Times headlines email:


“Science is like a compass. It can tell us where north is, but it can’t tell us if we want to go north. That’s where our morality comes in.”

NATHANIEL P. HITT, a fisheries biologist, on religion’s role in addressing climate change.

How many ways does a biologist manage to get THIS wrong?  I am going to point to just two.

  1. Climate change is nothing but a question of the continued survival of the human species – as well as a few thousand other species we’ll likely take down with us.  Do you need an appeal to extra-scientific concepts of morality for this?  Do you think there’s a difficult philosophical debate here?  Hmmm… should we choose a course that allows our species to continue to exist longer than two or three more generations? 
  2. If that question is your struggle how do you possibly think religion will help with it?  Name one moral question religion has ever gotten right.  Slavery?  Nope.  Treating women as if they were human?  Nope.   But a Pope gets on the bandwagon thirty years too late and everyone swoons.  
That’s not dealing with the question.  That’s abdicating it to “the mystery of the universe.”  To me the greatest mystery of the universe is this:  Year after year, these fuzz-brained faith-based lunatics, who obviously don’t give a damn about evidence as a way to answer important questions, get awarded science degrees.  How do they continue to fake it long enough to pull that off?

And if you think I am being harsh on Hitt and the quote might be taken out of context, the full article is much, much worse.  It’s as if a NY Times editor said, You know what this major USA newspaper really needs?  An article sucking up to Christianity!  Yeah, baby!  That’s courage!  Oh, Pulitzer committee….

In it for the Money

As I wrote earlier, the typical Republican presidential candidate has no real hope of getting the nomination, let alone the Presidency.

But this article from the Wall Street Journal makes it plain that they are still quite rational to pretend.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife, Candy, earned between $8.9 million and $27 million in a recent 16-month period, largely fueled by book royalties, speaking engagements and Mr. Carson’s service on the board of directors for two big companies.

When it’s worth this kind of money just to be this TEA party kind of famous, you’d be kind of crazy not to.
Not that Carson isn’t a few other kinds of crazy.

Betty Explains Religious Freedom

Religious freedom: Only for privileged religions, if you follow the Christian conservative rhetoric in the USA.  Here, the privileged religion is Christianity.  Over in most of the Middle East, it’s Islam.

They have more in common than you’d think, and could benefit well from comparing notes.  Here’s America’s Best Christian, Mrs. Betty Bowers, with a summary.

When to Snopes

At least three or four times a week, I respond to someone’s social media posting with a link to an article on www.snopes.com .  Yes, I am that guy.  Snopes is the single best site I know for debunking urban legends – those compelling, seemingly relevant stories that spread like wildfire just by word of mouth.  The Internet takes “wildfire” and accelerates it to “nuclear chain reaction.”

These are the kinds of stories that you read or hear and then you never really seem to feel like putting in the effort to verify.  They may be short on specifics or they may cite the teller’s friend, or friend’s cousin.  They may be very specific and quote the police chief of a certain town in California.  When told on the East Coast.  Or Massachusetts when told out west.

I think these stories tend to be at their strongest when they reinforce fears we already have.  Gang initiation rites spun out of thin air because of some driver randomly clicking his brights.  Or spiders spilling out of cacti because… Ewww! Spiders!

If you see a story that gives you that little chill of fear you just felt reading “Spiders!” and it manages not to cite a source you’re familiar with, then please o please!  Before resharing or retweeting or reposting or even Liking, please do a quick search for it on www.snopes.com .  You too can be that guy.

Additional Info: http://people.howstuffworks.com/urban-legend.htm

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_legend

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