Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Slave Brides

Posted in Muslims Against Sharia, Religion, Religious Extremism, Religious Idiocy, Sexism by Skepdude on August 21, 2008

“Shaikha,” a 16-year-old Saudi girl, drank bleach in an attempt to kill herself because her father was forcing her to marry a 75-year-old man. And why? So that Shaikha’s father could himself marry the elderly man’s 13-year-old daughter! Shaikha begged and pleaded not to be forced into this marriage–even her mother supported her plea; all to no avail.

While such normalized atrocities continue in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Muslim world, Random House cancels the publication of a novel, The Jewel of Medina, based on the life of Aisha, the prophet Mohammed’s beloved wife whom he married when she was either six or seven years-old. The marriage was presumably consummated when Aisha was nine-years-old.

Can there possibly be a connection between what Mohammed did and what other Muslim men do? Is the mere suggestion heretical? Is telling the truth about Mohammed heretical?

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Jesus loves you! And he’ll show you just how much he loves you by lowering gas prices!

Posted in Religion, Religious Idiocy, Respectful Insolence, Skepticism by Skepdude on August 18, 2008

Back in the spring, when gas prices shot up to well over $4 a gallon in many markets, a level from which they’ve fallen back somewhat over the last month or so, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Never before in U.S. history had gasoline cost so much, and we were starting to get a taste of what our European friends have had to put up with for a very long time. But just a taste. After all, I remember from my trip to the U.K. last August that gas was around £1 per liter, which at the time translated to over $7.50 a gallon. For those who lived in isolated areas or had low incomes, this spike in gas prices was a disaster, especially for truckers, cab drivers, and others whose jobs involved driving. On the other hand, I had little sympathy at all for all the yuppies who had bought enormous SUVs during the years when gasoline was cheap.

Naturally, when faced with a disaster of such proportions, some Americans, being the highly religious people that they are, had the perfect response. Indeed, to them it was the only response possible. No, it wasn’t to purchase more fuel-efficient cars (although some did start to drive less). No, it wasn’t to lobby the government to support the development of alternative fuels and to increase the CAFE standard. No, it was to Pray at the Pump for lower gas prices. And now that gas prices have come down around 20-30 cents from their historic highs, perish forbid that the fall in prices at the pump or the recent fall in price for a barrel of crude oil had anything to do with the economic principle of supply and demand or the recent strengthening of the dollar. Oh, no, it was clearly Jesus at work:

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE”

Prayer Fails Again

Posted in Religious Idiocy, Skeptico by Skepdude on August 18, 2008

Gas Prices boardSee the gas price board on the right? This is from April, aka “the good old days,” when regular was under $4.00 a gallon even in San Francisco. Back then, someone called Rocky Twyman decided the solution to high gas prices was to ask God to lower them:

Twyman […] staged a pray-in at a San Francisco Chevron station on Friday [April 25], asking God for cheaper gas. He did the same thing in the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday [April 23], with volunteers from a soup kitchen joining in.

He repeated the performance again on May 28. Well guess what, he was successful! Yes, according to The BBC, Twyman is claiming:

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “SKEPTICO”

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Meet the Flat Brainers!


When it comes to science, the rule of thumb is that we should always challenge everything, in order to make new discoveries and advance our knowledge. After all, if we were to sit around content with the knowledge we have, there would be no drive towards the unknown. Nevertheless, there are certain scientific facts that are so well established, that they just can’t be challenged, unless by a brilliant genius who sees what everyone else misses. Read this carefully : An average Joe, with no training in the field he’s seeking to reinvent has just as much chance of succeeding as an ID proponent has to make sense. And those are pretty slim odds.

One of those well established facts in science is that the Earth is round, not flat. That was established eons ago. There are countless photos, videos and what have you to demonstrate that. Anyone who’s ever set foot on a plane has seen with their very own eyes the slight curvature of the earth’s surface. Yet, as unbelievable as it may sound, there are still people out there who think this whole round Earth thing to be nothing but a vast, world-wide conspiracy. They still believe the eart is flat, infinite and 9,000 kilometres deep (about 5,600 miles) and get this, it stretches infinitely horizontally! You can’t make this stuff up. You can only whole-heartedly believe it.

Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the “conspiracy” that the Earth is round.

“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers,” says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.

Why are people so fascinated with the idea of a “conspiracy”? How many of these so-called conspiracies can the world governments have going at the same time anyway? The UFO proponents cry conspiracy. The flat earthers cry conspiracy. Almost any thing can be imagined and the lack of evidence blamed on a governmental conspiracy. These folks believe in their weird hypothesis precisely because they can’t find any evidence to back it up. Talk about weird! String theory has got nothing on these nuts!

Prejudiced? Of course I am prejudiced against flat earthers. They are,at the worst complete idiots, and at the best, self deluded, hallucinating, mentally ill people. There is a certain egotistic trend with all such people. They seem to think to be in on something that the general public doesn’t see. They seem to think they’re smart because they have “uncovered” these hidden secrets that “normal” people were never meant (and thus they are better than normal people) to uncover. To me they are like little boys pretending to be superheroes and getting that instantaneous gratification.  All the guys out there know what I’m talking about.

“Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Blind faith…check! Ignorance…check! Anti-intellectualism…Double check!  The fascinating thing however, is that they blame us, the sane ones, of blind faith, ignorance and anti-intellectualism, because you see we aren’t smart enough to see through the veil that the world governments have woven over our eyes. But they can! And they have no evidence to back it up. And that is precisely how they know they’re right. You get the (il)logic there?

“I came to realise how much we take at face value,” he says. “We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses.”

And he offers a perfect example of accepting what we are told at face value…himself!

Mr Davis now believes “the Earth is flat and horizontally infinite – it stretches horizontally forever”.

“And it is at least 9,000 kilometres deep”, he adds.

And here’s another, slightly different take:

James McIntyre, a British-based moderator of a Flat Earth Society discussion website, has a slightly different take. “The Earth is, more or less, a disc,” he states. “Obviously it isn’t perfectly flat thanks to geological phenomena like hills and valleys. It is around 24,900 miles in diameter.”

I see it’s either infinite or 24,900 mile disc. I guess they both think the other is part of a conspiracy to hide the true “truth” about our beloved planet.

What about all the photos from space that show, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the Earth is round?  The space agencies of the world are involved in an international conspiracy to dupe the public for vast profit,says Mr McIntyre.

John Davis also says “these photos are fake”.

Of course, the folks at NASA are all millionaires and getting richer by the day.

And what about the fact that no one has ever fallen off the edge of our supposedly disc-shaped world?

Mr McIntyre laughs. “This is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions,” he says. “A cursory examination of a flat earth map fairly well explains the reason – the North Pole is central, and Antarctica comprises the entire circumference of the Earth. Circumnavigation is a case of travelling in a very broad circle across the surface of the Earth.”

Oh the humanity! The poor, poor humanity!

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Atheism Requires No Faith

Posted in Religious Idiocy, Skeptico by Skepdude on July 22, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL POST AT “SKEPTICO”

This is another piece of flawed reasoning the religious have been throwing around a lot recently – “it requires more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God.” I guess there must have been a memo sent round or something. Talking points. That’s the only explanation. It’s certainly not because it’s a valid argument.

The usual rebuttal given is that atheism just means no belief in God, and it doesn’t require any more faith to have no belief in God than it does to have no belief in Russell’s Teapot. That’s obviously true but I think it misses the point the theists are trying to make.

What they’re really saying

I think what they’re trying to say is this. Atheists think matter just appeared out of nowhere, that something came out of nothing. But where did the matter come from? To think that matter appeared out of nowhere requires more faith than to think a creator made everything. The theists quite often mess up the argument further by misunderstanding the big bang, or with dodgy statistics, or with appeals to ignorance of abiogenesis. But that’s the basic argument. Why is there something rather than nothing? To think that matter just appeared by itself, requires faith.

The flaw in their argument

Atheists don’t think matter came out of nowhere. Atheists say we don’t know where matter came from; we don’t know why there is something rather than nothing. Maybe one day we’ll know, or maybe we won’t. But we don’t know now. Theists are exactly the same. They don’t know either, but the difference is they make up an explanation (God). But it’s just a made up explanation – they have no reason to suppose it’s true, other than that they just like it.

And it’s a useless explanation. Unless they know something about this “God” – how he created everything; why he created it; what he’s likely to do next – it’s a lack of an explanation. It’s just a placeholder until a real explanation comes along. Except that the theist won’t be open to the real explanation when and if science is able to provide one. The placeholder prevents investigation into the real explanation. The theist is the one with the faith – faith that “God” is the explanation and that no other is possible. The atheist is content to say “we don’t know”. For now, anyway. And it’s obvious that saying “we don’t know,” requires no faith.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL POST AT “SKEPTICO”

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