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This Must Be the Most Uncomfortable Math Class Ever

Posted in Friendly Atheist by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

Take a look at this sign:

I was thinking of hanging that banner in my high school math classroom…

That shouldn’t be any cause for concern, right?

Isn’t it just my freedom of expression?

Of course not.

Even if you agreed with me, you’d say my banner should be taken down and I should be reprimanded. Who am I to force my views upon my students? Students would feel intimidated by me (if they were religious). They would rightfully be concerned that their grades would be affected if they dared to disagree with me.

The banner has no business hanging in any classroom. What does it have to do with math, anyway?!

Conservative Christians would agree, too, I imagine.

But what if I Jesufied my banner?



Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

We have a little argument going on in one of the pointless poll threads. The question being asked is, “Do you believe in the Big Bang?” Some people are indignant (and correct!) and protesting that their views on scientific matters are not a matter of opinion, but of impartial assessment of the evidence; these views are independent of personal belief, and are also held provisionally, subject to revision in the face of better evidence.

These people are also being infuriatingly pedantic, and are expressing an attitude that interferes with the communication of ideas. Don’t sputter out a bunch of reservations and refuse to answer, state a general position and then drill down into the details and qualifications. Pound this into your heads, and stop boring people with irrelevant musings that only detract from the central point.

Here’s an example. Imagine you’re at a party with a bunch of normal people, not the kinds of nerds who hang out in Pharyngula comment threads. Ordinary people, drinking beer, talking about sports and the weather, and one of them has heard that you’re kind of an egghead, so they ask a simple question in terms that they understand (just like the phrasing in that poll), and they ask it in a tone that suggests they have doubts, but they’re willing to talk with you about it. They ask something like, “Do you believe evolution is true?”


The Great Surrender: How Britain has given in to the religious fanatics intent on destroying our way of life

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

The growth of Islamism was first noted by the West with a mixture of indifference and incredulity. Had not the Islamic world always thrown up occasional figures such as the Mad Mahdi in Sudan, whose followers murdered General Gordon of Khartoum in 1885?

Then they always faded away and the Muslim world resumed its peaceful, sleepy existence.

That was the romantic idea. But ever since the West linked itself to dependence upon oil, and ever since large numbers of poor Muslims from the former Pakistan and elsewhere migrated here, it had not been a very realistic one. How unrealistic became clear on September 11, 2001, when Islamist suicide-murderers crashed hijacked planes into the Twin Towers.


Girls escaping abusive father come to dead end

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

JEDDAH: Three sisters who have repeatedly fled their father’s home after 10 years of physical and psychological abuse and sexual molestation reached a dead end.

The girls’ last escape was five months ago. Mona, Nadin and Lina took refuge in the home of their mother, who had been divorced from their father nine years ago. According to a court verdict issued in 1999, the mother can only see the girls on Fridays from the afternoon until early evening. She tried to get custody of her daughters, but all her attempts were unsuccessful. She was hesitant to speak to the press until she realized it was her final recourse.

“Five years and I’ve been trying to have my daughters live with me. My ex-husband is an imam and member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. He uses his religious appearance as a green light to get under people’s skin and get what he wants,” said the mother in anguish.