Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

I’m sorry, do I offend you? Too fucking bad!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 28, 2009

What is this nonsense from the United Nations trying to pass a binding anti-blasphemy resolution that would make it illegal, in the US, to be blasphemous? I don’t care, no let me rephrase that, we as Americans should not care, if anyone is offended by anyone else expressing an opinion. We don’t care if you are Muslim or Christian, Jew or Hindu, believer or atheist, black or white. Who you are, and what you believe in or not, are of no consequence when matters of freedom of expression are concerned. We must not allow free speech to be curtailed to protect the fragile egos of those who want to trample all over other people’s rights without so much as a critique being thrown their way.

They want not to be criticized? They want not to be called out for their stupidity? Well fuck that I say, because you will be criticized, ridiculed and called idiots so long as you insist on engaging in idiotic behavior. And I for one am appalled that the UN in its wisdom (or in this case complete lack thereof)  should bend to the pressure of the Islamic nations, the ones that are responsible for the most horrific trespasses against human rights being perpetrated today. These are the countries were honor killings and sexual mutilations are the order of the day, where bloggers get imprisoned for daring to write what’s on their mind, where people are killed over cartoons in a newspaper thousands of miles away!  And they are the ones who are offended? We as humans should be offended by their actions! We should pass a resolution that forbids them from being such assholes in the name of their religion and their backwards traditions, not cut our own balls, hand them over to these fucktards so that they can stuff them back in our mouths! Because that is what in effect the UN is doing.

I am offended by their very existence. I am offended that people like them belong to the same species as we do. I am offended by their actions. I should not be forced to shut up or pay the consequences. Not in a democracy! Not in a civilized country! Not in the United States of America!

UN anti-blasphemy measures have sinister goals, observers say

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 27, 2009

UNITED NATIONS – Islamic countries Monday won United Nations backing for an anti-blasphemy measure Canada and other Western critics say risks being used to limit freedom of speech.

Combating Defamation of Religions passed 85–50 with 42 abstentions in a key UN General Assembly committee, and will enter into the international record after an expected rubber stamp by the plenary later in the year.

But while the draft’s sponsors say it and earlier similar measures are aimed at preventing violence against worshippers regardless of religion, religious tolerance advocates warn the resolutions are being accumulated for a more sinister goal.

“It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy,” said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund, a think tank aimed at promoting religious liberty.

“Those arrests are made legitimate by the UN body’s (effective) stamp of approval.”

Passage of the resolution is part of a 10-year action plan the 57-state Organization of Islamic Conference launched in 2005 to ensure “renaissance” of the “Muslim Ummah” or community.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “CANADA.COM”

Good thing Mohammed never said anything censorious about oil

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on February 27, 2009

Now this is just getting silly. An Islamic theologian has declared that using ethanol as a fuel is sinful.

As if the debate around using ethanol to fuel cars weren’t already complicated enough, now an Islamic scholar has suggested that driving or even riding in a vehicle fueled by ethanol could be considered a sin for observant Muslims.

The opinion comes from Sheikh Mohamed al-Najimi, of the Islamic Jurisprudence Academy in Saudi Arabia. It is based on the part of Islamic law derived from a statement by the prophet in which dealing with alcohol in any form–including purchase, sale, transport, consumption, and manufacture–is strictly prohibited.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “PHARYNGULA”

Placebo Effect: A Cure in the Mind

Posted in Uncategorized by Jeff Randall on February 27, 2009

[Originally posted at: Scientific American]

Belief is powerful medicine, even if the treatment itself is a sham. New research shows placebos can also benefit patients who do not have faith in them.

A man whom his doctors referred to as “Mr. Wright” was dying from cancer of the lymph nodes. Orange-size tumors had invaded his neck, groin, chest and abdomen, and his doctors had exhausted all available treatments. Nevertheless, Mr. Wright was confident that a new anticancer drug called Krebiozen would cure him, according to a 1957 report by psychologist Bruno Klopfer of the University of California, Los Angeles, entitled “Psychological Variables in Human Cancer.”

Mr. Wright was bedridden and fighting for each breath when he received his first injection. But three days later he was cheerfully ambling around the unit, joking with the nurses. Mr. Wright’s tumors had shrunk by half, and after 10 more days of treatment he was discharged from the hospital. And yet the other patients in the hospital who had received Krebiozen showed no improvement.

Over the next two months, however, Mr. Wright became troubled by press reports questioning the efficacy of Krebiozen and suffered a relapse. His doctors decided to lie to him: an improved, doubly effective version of the drug was due to arrive the next day, they told him. Mr. Wright was ecstatic. The doctors then gave him an injection that contained not one molecule of the drug—and he improved even more than he had the last time. Soon he walked out of the hospital symptom-free. He remained healthy until two months later, when, after reading reports that exposed Krebiozen as worthless, he died within days.

[Read the rest of this post at: Scientific American]

Moral Disgust Linked to Primitive Emotion

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

Feb. 26, 2009 — A new study reveals insights into the ancient roots of our modern-day sense of moral disgust.

Research from the University of Toronto suggests that our sense of right and wrong appears to be directly linked to a primitive survival instinct that caused our ancient ancestors to find foul-tasting, poisonous foods disgusting.

The study appears in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Science.

“These results shed new light on the origins of morality, suggesting that not only do complex thoughts guide our moral compass, but also more primitive instincts related to avoiding potential toxins,” principal investigator Adam K. Anderson, PhD, says in a news release.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “WEBMD”

Popular Pastor Encourages Child Suffering

Posted in Unreasonable Faith by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

A popular Christian pastor, John Piper, thinks spanking is okay. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. He’s really excited about spanking.

He believes God makes us suffer, so we should imitate him and make our children suffer by spanking them.

No, I’m not kidding, and no, this isn’t a parody.

Here are some quotes from “Would Jesus spank a child?“:

If Jesus were married and had children, I think he would have spanked the children.

Actually, I think the wonder-working Jesus would have been able to control his kids without hitting them, don’t you? If he could walk on water and rise from the dead, it seems doubtful he’d need to spank his children to keep them in line.

But why would someone think it’s a great idea to hit children? For Piper, it’s a view of God who hurts his children because he loves them:

Deep down, does this person believe that God brings pain into our lives? Because … God disciplines every son whom he loves, and spanks everyone that he delights in (my paraphrase). And the point there is suffering. God brings sufferings into our lives, and the writer of the Hebrews connects it to the parenting of God of his children….

God uses suffering to discipline his children. So do we.

Oh, so God’s like an abusive husband who hits his wife because he loves her! I get it now. He’d be gentle and kind, but that just wouldn’t be as effective, you know?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “UNREASONABLE FAITH”

Pure Water Fetishists

Posted in Thinking is dangerous by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

What is it with Complementary & Alternative Medicine communities and their crazed fixation on only ever coming into to contact with absolutely, scrupulously and perfectly pure water? And why does no-one ever point out that the minute they pour it into a glass, kettle or pot of dried lentils, all the effort to purify it has gone out the window?

The company I’d like to introduce you to is PureH20. Alas, the interweb has ensured that ‘2’ rarely gets to be subscript.

The website has a myriad of bullshit, fear-mongering, pseudoscience and amazing state-the-bleedin-obvious facts like

Water is absolutely vital for health

I would honestly like to know if there is anyone to whom that comes as a revelation. And I mean anyone in the whole world.
Did you know that

most of us have lost our proper thirst reflex by the end of our childhood?

or that

Bottled and tap waters contain many impurities like heavy metals and inorganic minerals that are likely to have an adverse effect on your health

So no shortage of bullshit to keep you entertained. Their purification system is definately a first in chemical synthesis though:

Water filtered using our patented system removes all the chemicals and impurities, both organics and inorganics, to provide you with one hydrogen atom and two oxygen atoms

(my bold)

Oh. I assumed they were selling water rather than HO2, who’d have thunk? As if all the sillyness wasn’t enough we get:

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “THINKING IS DANGEROUS”

No, I’m not angry at God

Posted in Uncategorized by Jeff Randall on February 26, 2009

[Originally posted at: That Guy From China]

This last week, I was talking with a fellow (quite a nice guy), and the topic of religion came up.  He’s a born-again Christian.  I’m an ex-Christian, atheist, and Humanist.  We talked and debated our beliefs, and for the most part it was quite amicable, but there was one part that really kinda’ pissed me off.  It’s a pet peeve of mine.  That is, whenever Christians realize that I’m an ex-Christian who’s rejected Christianity and become an atheist, the immediate response is A) “Why are you angry with God?” or B) “Why are you rebelling against God?”.

Now, I understand…I grew up indoctrinated to think that those who abandoned Christianity were doing so out of rebellion and/or anger (and if confronted with an atheist, I would have responded in the same manner).  And certainly, there are plenty of ex-Christians who are quite angry at their previous religion (often for very justifiable reasons).  But this automatic assumption that it must be an emotional or personal reaction against something in Christianity really irks me.

I have tried in the past to explain this, but have generally not done a very good job.  However, after my discussion with him, while thinking about this, I came up with what I thought was a very good illustration of my ‘conversion’ to atheism (or my rejection of Christianity, however you want to look at it).

[Read the rest of this post at: That Guy From China]

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

Normal people, faced with such an unrelenting stream of scientific and other evidence strongly refuting their beliefs, would start to think that maybe their beliefs need readjusting. Not Generation Rescue. The reality warp field surrounding J.B. Handley, Jenny McCarthy, and their Kool Aid drinkers is too strong. Given their cultish certainty that, no matter what the science says, it absolutely, positively has to be the vaccines causing autism, they can never retreat, never surrender, and, above all, never, ever even entertain the possibility for a minute that their most fervent belief is based on on the scientific equivalent of smoke and mirrors.

………………………………………………….

If stupid were a poison, all life on earth would be dead and rotting from the emanations of the two articles contained under the above link. And if stupid really did burn, the surface of the earth would consist of nothing more than charred rock, with the oceans themselves vaporized.

Respectful Insolence

Hitchens vs. D’Souza 01/2009

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 26, 2009

I just got done listening to the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza they just had this January. The video is available here. I suggest anyone interested in the God issue needs to listen. Hitchens is simply fantastic and besides the pre-writen opening and closing statements, D’Souza comes across as a illogical, babbling, incoherent, defensive, My-god-is-greater-than-your-god-cause-the-bible-says-so, pathetic looser really. Hitchens in my opinion completely overshadows him on the head to head and the audience Q&A portion. I only managed to listen to the audio during my daily commutte, but I must make time to watch the video, I think the body language and facial expressions will make me enjoy it even more.

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