Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trigger Warning

This blog post contains words that some may find objectionable. These words include quotidian, and often "vulgar" words that are substitutes for ideas like "non-consensual sex", or "sex", coitus, anus, "mankind" (as opposed to "wymynkind" or "human-kind"). This post will also contain words that others may find offensive, such as expletives denouncing or repudiating a belief in god or gods. The reasons for these inclusions are many and varied, but include the legal right to contain such words, the moral imperative to hew as closely as possible to accurate depictions of reality, including the connotation of such depictions which might include "negative" impressions of such realities, and frankly, the click-bait necessary to compete with the entirety of the internet and its assorted hate, sex, political and grievance industry websites.

fat bitch
fat fuck
teach men not to rape
christian conservative
gay marriage
safe word
trigger warning
punched her in the face
penetrated her
she rolled him
fudge packer
anal beads
gay sex
gang bang
gang rape
prison sex
prison rape
'gender feminist'
anal beads
butt plug
social justice warrior

are you beginning to see the problem yet?

Why You Should Hate the Police

Some of you won't like this post because, well, reasons. That's fine. If your head holds some utopian ideal of who and what I am that doesn't conform with a little thing I like to call "Truth", or the other little thing I like to call "Reality", stop reading now if you wish to preserve that idea you have of me as whatever the hell I'm supposed to be. If, on the other hand, you don't mind examining unpleasant truths or living in RealityLand™, read on...

I HATE cops. I despise them. They, along with Glenn Beck, Wars-For-Profit™, "3rd Wave Feminism"™, and organized religion, are easily the top 4 spots on the "Top 10 Worst Inventions of Humanity" list. I prefer the Mafia to cops. Whether it be the NYPD-the "gold standard" for thugs-, or the Podunk County Sheriff, I HATE cops. Cops are the worst humanity has to offer--at least criminals tend to be up front about who they are and what they're doing. Cops on the other hand, on top of being criminals, to the last man and woman on the beat, are cowards who wouldn't confront a little old lady without a taser handy. Cops are so bad that each and every single person who's been a cop more than six months or so (OK, maybe a year), is literally a criminal. I understand what makes them criminals, and I don't necessarily fault them for it, but in reality, being a cop should be much like flipping burgers at a fast food joint used to be- a way station job on the way to becoming a grown up, and not a career (and in terms of quality of people that's a bit insulting to McDonald's employees, frankly). No one should EVER have to be a cop for more than six months, and really, it should be a punishment for DUI or something.

A person who is a cop witnesses crimes daily. A great many of the crimes they see committed are committed by fellow cops. And they say nothing. That is to say, by not reporting the criminal activities of their fellow cops that they know to be, or believe to be, criminal, they become accessories to all sorts of crimes from letting off a fellow cop with a 'warning' after pulling them over for speeding (yeah, they call it 'discretion' sometimes, I know. I call it a cop out--see what I did there? Who says I'm not funny?), to raping someone, or beating someone who has done nothing, or killing an unarmed black or Hispanic kid. They do these things, and other cops cover them up. ALL cops do it. Which makes them all criminals. Covering up a crime is itself a crime, see how that works? You can now go back to pretending your excuse of choice makes any sense at all (although you pretending what I said isn't true renders it no less true):

  1. The "Job" is Hard™-- Then don't fucking do it.
  2. Cops have 'discretion' in deciding to give/not give a speeding ticket--and in reporting graft, tasing an old lady, putting a teenager through a plate glass window, corruption, rape, murder, and extortion, too?
  3. Criminals Outgun cops--Then don't fucking do the job. Become a meter reader.
  4. Criminals do it-- So?
  5. The pay is too low--THEN DON'T DO THE FUCKING JOB.
Now, does that mean I don't understand cops? No. I "Get It"™. It IS tough sometimes. You DO deal with motherfuckers who would just as soon kill you as look at you. It IS scary to have someone come at you with a knife or gun. You DON'T know what's waiting behind that door. You also swore an oath. You are PAID to encounter these dangers. You are also not supposed to be above the law. So...don't come crying to me for sympathy.

One of Hemingway's characters, in A Farewell To Arms, said that "all thinking men are atheists", which means that a rational mind, unimpeded by any outside considerations, will come to the rational conclusion that because there is no evidence to support the idea of a deity, the only intellectually honest position to hold vis-a-vis the existence of such a being, is that it doesn't exist (however emotionally unsatisfying that may be for any given individual). In the same vein, every thinking man should detest the power of life and death in the hands of any government thug, especially those bereft of accountability (as so many cops are), bereft of compassion (ditto), and bereft of the higher faculties of learned people (ditto again). It isn't who they are that's disgusting and reprehensible, it's what they are.


  A Final Word On "Discretion":

You're given discretion, damn you, because you're supposed to arrest or ticket that friend of yours on the day shift for driving drunk, or at least get them out of the fucking car so they can sleep it off safely, NOT so you can tase a pregnant woman in the belly for sitting on the subway steps because her back hurts, or any of the umpteen bazillion things you assholes have been caught on video doing. You're given discretion because you are supposed to exercise the power of good judgment, not so you can indulge your petty hatreds, feed your ego, or take revenge on the high school bully. The 21 foot rule is not carte fucking blanche for shooting anyone you damn well please. Oh, and your safety?

"Yeah, I said it. It had to be said." - Chris Rock

If you want to help a brother out, you can purchase "A Farewell to Arms", the Hemingway novel I referenced above, at Amazon--it doesn't cost you anything extra, and Amazon sends some love my way:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Myth of the Moderate Theist

There is a pernicious and persistent myth out there (well, there are scads of them, but let's try and tackle them one at a time). The myth is that christians who don't live in bunkers and prepare for the coming 'race war', or a new reich, or the downfall of the world's governments, or the 2nd coming of the messiah, or whatever, are somehow "moderate". You likely know a few of these people, and you certainly encounter many of them on your daily rounds. You put up with their craziness because they fix your computer, or they pump your gas, or change your oil, or put  out the fresh produce, whatever.

The problem, like so many human problems is one of perspective. The DSM-V lists "delusional disorder" as a mental illness that in point of fact does include religion,  and we know this because the authors take great pains to exempt religious belief from the differential diagnosis, because otherwise, religion fits the diagnostic criteria:

Additionally, personal beliefs should be evaluated with great respect to complexity of cultural and religious differences: some cultures have widely accepted beliefs that may be considered delusional in other cultures.

clearly, delusional disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV and modified by the DSM-V includes religion. that's why they have to take great pains to specify that it doesn't. if you take this lilly livered proviso out, then religion is crazy--literally by definition. The only rationale offered for the religious exemption is the implicit notion that lots of people might then exhibit symptoms of the disorder. which again, is the same as saying that if enough people are lepers, leprosy isn't a disease. so pick your poison. either the APA has something else to answer for, or if you go to church for anything other than the Bingo game, you're a nutcase. See the relevant entry from the DSM-IV and the relevant changes in the DSM-V, below.
Delusional disorder is an illness characterized by the presence of nonbizarre delusions in the absence of other mood or psychotic symptoms, according to the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). It defines delusions as false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary and these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture. (my emphasis, and note, how w/o this bandwagon fallacy, religion fits the differential quite nicely)
Nonbizarre refers to the fact that this type of delusion is about situations that could occur in real life, such as being followed, being loved, having an infection, and being deceived by one's spouse.
Delusional disorder is on a spectrum between more severe psychosis and overvalued ideas. Bizarre delusions represent the manifestations of more severe types of psychotic illnesses (eg, schizophrenia) and "are clearly implausible, not understandable, and not derived from ordinary life experiences".[1]
On the other end of the spectrum, making a distinction between a delusion and an overvalued idea is important, the latter representing an unreasonable belief that is not firmly held.[1] Additionally, personal beliefs should be evaluated with great respect to complexity of cultural and religious differences: some cultures have widely accepted beliefs that may be considered delusional in other cultures.
Unfortunately, patients with delusional disorder do not have good insight into their pathological experiences. Interestingly, despite significant delusions, many other psychosocial abilities remain intact, as if the delusions are circumscribed. Indeed, this is one of the key differences between delusional disorder and other primary psychotic disorders. However, the individual may rarely seek psychiatric help, remain isolated, and often present to internists, surgeons, dermatologists, policemen, and lawyers rather than psychiatrists. Despite this, their prognosis, while not good, is not as bad as other more severe disorders.

Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5

 Delusional Disorder

Criterion A for delusional disorder no longer has the requirement that the delusions must be nonbizarre. A specifier for bizarre type delusions provides continuity with DSM-IV. The demarcation of delusional disorder from psychotic variants of obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder is explicitly noted with a new exclusion criterion, which states that the symptoms must not be better explained by conditions such as obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder with absent insight/delusional beliefs. DSM-5 no longer separates delusional disorder from shared delusional disorder. If criteria are met for delusional disorder then that diagnosis is made. If the diagnosis cannot be made but shared beliefs are present, then the diagnosis “other specified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder” is used.
How does the above, in turn, translate into the 'religious moderate' being anything but moderate? Well, that's pretty damn simple too. If you, or someone you love suffers from a mental illness, would you want them to get help? If a doctor told you 'yeah, we can cure that, but everybody's got it, so what's the BFD?', would you be satisfied with that answer? If you answered 'no' to either question I just posed in the abstract, what is it about the word 'religion' that magically invalidates your answer?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dear Mr. Aslan:

I will not reproduce here the text to which I will be referring because the excerpt is available here. It is from a year old book titled Zealot, the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by scholar Resa Aslan. It was or is a bestseller, and I can understand why. What theist would not want to grasp any straw to defend their faith?

So.....long story short: no one during Jesus' lifetime wrote about him. Not even the man who supposedly had him put to death. There exists one 'reliable' extrabiblical reference to Jesus-Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews (Kindle version here) .mentions something about James, the brother of Jesus, 'who they call messiah'. To be sure, there is much debate over how and why the text has been interpolated, but because it remains contentious and the text unclear at best, it can hardly be called evidence-at least not evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus. You can read more about that here.

The greatest thing of interest in the excerpt from the book is this little trio of snippets (note the ellipses)

 The problem with pinning down the historical Jesus is that, outside of the New Testament, there is almost no trace of the man who would so permanently alter the course of human history...In a brief throwaway passage in the Antiquities...Fleeting and dismissive as this allusion may be (the phrase “the one they call messiah” is clearly meant to express derision), it nevertheless contains enormous significance for those searching for any sign of the historical Jesus

Aslan, in this little bit, covers his academic gonads supremely well. I cannot fathom the level of cynicism that it must take to simultaneously acknowledge the overwhelming lack of any credible evidence to support your thesis, the importance of the character whose reality you champion but cannot even remotely demonstrate, and the mealy mouthed admission that the contemporaries of that character disbelieved his wild and clearly incoherent claims about himself, all the while fleecing your followers and convincing them to once again dole out money for their belief in a fictional character.

Now, the emphasis in the above is mine. I put it there because this is the entire lynchpin of Mr. Aslan's argument. The Sine Qua Non so to speak. The argument Aslan puts forward is this: because Josephus mentions Jesus once and only once, he must have been a real person-because why would a historian mention someone if they didn't exist? The rest of the argument is really much ado about nothing. it's a rehash of why Josephus is important to Aslan's argument, and apparently a call to fundamentally change the epistemology of historical studies, and really, of everything else human beings study. We should now, on Mr. Aslan's view, begin accepting things not on the basis of having more evidence, but less.

Let's take a look at the only two possible destinations using Mr. Aslan's roadmap:

If we want to agree with Mr. Aslan, that one credible historical mention is sufficient to establish the existence of something, we can then say that therefore anything with a 'credible' historical mention is or was real, or that the more something is credibly mentioned, the more likely it is to be real (this last one is what we actually do, that is, those of us in RealityLand™. On the first account, it would then follow that Red & White, Invisible Boogieboos exist. And they do. I just mentioned them, and you've no reason to doubt the veracity of what I just claimed, nor can you establish that I've some sort of mental illness, or other reason for creating a fictional character out of nothing. In fact, I'm  so credible on the Boogieboo question that to even question my credibility on the subject labels you a horrible bigot.  On the latter account, something like George Bush's "Axis of Evil" ™ or WMDs™actually exists-because there is little to no evidence that they do or did.

No, Mr. Aslan, you're going to have to do better. A professor indeed.

PS: support this blog by clicking on the text links, or the links below to get the source materials mentioned. You buy on Amazon, they pay me. Easy Peasy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Internet Hate Machine and the Existence of God

I don't know about you guys, but I've had just about enough of the petty squabbling that feminist atheists and "dictionary" atheists have been having for nearly three years--well, for me it's been about three years, and I'll be damned if it isn't one bullshit story after another: elevatorgate, shermergate, gamergate.  I don't see an end to it, and have to finally come to the conclusion that like the Tea Party, atheists online have their version of loud and crazy, and the online femitheists and 'dictionary' atheists are that version of atheist . (I'll skip the rather obvious portmanteau that suggests itself for that last one).

So, in light of the queasy feeling given me by David Futrelle, Paul Elam, and others in the gendersphere, I elect to provide this (because SOMEBODY has to be talking about atheism instead of throwing shit fits over the latest lover's spat):


In Atheists Fail to Understand Both God and Man by Graham Noble on October 21, 2014, Noble writes:

"A fair starting point in the argument over the existence of God – a Creator, a higher power, a supreme being or whatever label one chooses to apply – is the acknowledgement that the existence of such a being, or deity, has never been scientifically proven and, perhaps, never will be. Such a statement, however, demands the caveat that the non-existence of God has also never been proven, nor could it ever possibly be proven."
the underscore is the portion relevant to this post, though the rest provides some context. The central concept here is that you can't prove a negative. And as a matter of course, you can't. But the problem here isn't that atheists bear the burden of proving a negative. The problem here is the rather straightforward (so to speak) circular reasoning by the religionist (what a surprise). Let's take a look:

the idea creationists and other religionists put forward (and IS true) is that we can't know everything. Their argument then says, since we can't know everything, we can't prove that god isn't real, since he might be hiding in whatever corner of the universe you haven't yet checked. the problem is that before dismissing the notion of a deity, we're asked to accept the existence (or the possible existence) of a creature that KNOWS EVERYTHING. Which of course, is to posit the possibility of a god-like being.  Since it isn't possible for a being of any kind to know everything, to require a being who does before dismissing the possibility of its existence is to argue in a circle. You're asking me to assume the existence of a god, before I am allowed to dismiss the existence of a god, because after all, what is an all knowing creature but a god?

a second problem is also related to the standard of proof: we don't require absolute universal truth from science in any other realm, do we? we don't KNOW our seat belt will save us from a crash, nor do we KNOW that we won't slip in the shower and snap our necks. We operate under the presumption that these things won't happen because statistically, the odds are in our favor.

Let's not forget that almost every human activity requires the tacit acceptance of the validity of the scientific method. If you believe your computer will work today, it's because someone, somewhere, did their job, and made sure that a CPU operates thusly, a keyboard in such and such a manner, and your desk chair will hold your fat ass up (among countless other things, like light switches, car brakes, accelerators, and traffic lights). Without this tacit acceptance of the scientific method, we'd be left to close our eyes on the street corner, and pray to yahweh that we don't get hit by a drunk driver. BUT. WE. DON'T. short: as an atheist, I deny the possibility that we can know EVERYTHING, so the question of whether or not we can know definitively whether or not there is a deity is non-sensical. Moreover, if you're even asking the question, then you can't set the standard at ABSOLUTE knowledge, because you don't have that knowledge, nor does anyone else--nor could that ever be verified, nor do you expect that level of proof for anything else, so why is it the default standard for disproving god? No, the bottom line is that god doesn't exist, and under any reasonable interpretation of the terms 'god', and 'knowledge', and 'knowing', that proof has already been provided.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Get 'Em While They're Young!

I've noticed the disturbing trend of religious zealotry targeting ever younger (and in the case of college students, somewhat inexperienced) crowds. It's pretty clear the reason for this is that the more religion's drawbacks are exposed to the light of day, and the easier it becomes to shed light into its dark little corners, such as ethnic cleansings (like in Eastern Europe, for example), the theft of children from their birth parents for whatever imagined sins the single mother might have committed (like in Spain), and so on, the religious, being aware of the ease of indoctrinating children into their warped belief systems, are focusing their efforts at universities, both on and off campuses, public elementary schools, and re-education camps that exist offshore and in the "heartland", two of which are depicted in the documentaries Jesus Camp and Kidnapped for Christ .

They are making inroads into our children's brains, and destroying their ability to think critically at ever younger ages, and this is the plan: check out the so called "Wedge Document". A recent study even suggests that exposure to religion can make it more difficult for children to distinguish reality from fiction. This post then, is a call to atheists to relinquish the bullshit narrative, and ironically dogmatic view that they should allow their children to "choose for themselves" whether or not they are going to be religious or not. These atheists, and you might just be one of them, seem to think that if you teach a kid to like science, and to value the use of the scientific method (however formulated), that they'll just "choose" atheism or its weak sauce cousin, agnosticism, and that this is proof enough against the woo they will likely encounter on a daily basis. The facts on the ground, as they say, are very, very different.

Several years ago I read a book titled Ethnic Conflict and Indoctrination that got me to thinking about my own experiences with indoctrination, education, and phys ed. As it turns out, it's frighteningly easy to indoctrinate anyone, let alone a child. More to the point, religions have been doing it for millenia. The battleground is shifting, brothers and sisters: now it's not enough to hope that our kids don't fall victim to religious hocus-pocus. It's the time to teach our kids all the evil things religions do and all the good things they promise, but fail to deliver on. You aren't indoctrinating your kids by telling them the truth. By shielding them from the truth, and by whitewashing these things, i suppose, ostensibly to protect your kids from the violence that exists in the world (and believe me, with 5 kids i totally sympathize), what you are really doing is exposing them to possible infection by the mind virus that is religion.

Let's be clear: this isn't the party line within internet atheist circles, dominated as they are by ideologically driven players on both sides of the fictional political divide. This is the call that a pragmatic atheist, led by the evidence available, arrives at, whether we want to go there or not.

PS: below are amazon links to the works I mentioned in this piece. If you care to purchase from Amazon through those links, Amazon shows me some love, and it doesn't cost you anything.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crayons and Condescension

I have told many a believer that they'd probably have no problem reading the bible if it had been written in crayon (being that most believers can't believe me when I tell them what's actually in the bible). The insult in that is unmistakeable--children like crayons, and wanting to read the book you venerate as the Inspired Word of God (tm) is best encouraged by making it more palatable to children, which is to say that believers are very much like children.

It is no less an insult when it's couched in more politically correct terms: when Jen McCreight offers to make the online atheist community more receptive to minorities, she is doing the same thing. There is nothing that makes atheism more accessible than the fact that there are no deities. To suggest that minorities don't like atheism, or don't consider it a viable choice of non-belief system, because it is somehow inaccessible to them, is to say that minorities have a difficult time with the scientific method or basic logic. Perhaps it is true that all us coloreds are too dumb to understand science. Perhaps it is true that we are driven to religion by bright shiny objects of veneration and worship. Perhaps the largely white leadership of modern internet atheism can't attract minorities to the cause because we are too stupid to understand the pernicious effects of religion and religious communities. Or... maybe we are just as intellectually capable of understanding what it is that mccreight wants to sell us--and we don't want it.

The fact is that for many of us, growing up in working class and poor single parent homes, just making it through high school in the inner cities is a badge of honor. It isn't easy to make good use of ancient textbooks, and to get something out of teachers that don't care or are too inexperienced to be good educators. For us, the mewling about tshirts and 'fake jewelry' rings rather false. it smacks of white privilege, and yes, when kids are being mutilated every day by the jewish community, and countless others are marginalized, attacked, and have acid thrown in their faces, it DOES IN FACT MEAN THAT YOUR PROBLEMS ARE JACK SHIT AND SHOULD BE IGNORED UNTIL THESE OTHER PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN HANDLED. I'm sorry (/S) on this one, but I'm going to have to throw my lot in with Richard Dawkins- The Grand Old Man of the New Atheism, and say that his letter to Muslima was EXACTLY what white, neo-liberal internet femitheists like Rebecca Watson need to hear.

Maybe us colored folk could use a fresh infusion of blood into the ranks of the godless. Maybe it's time that internet feminists like McCreight stopped offering us a watered down version of atheism in lieu of actual atheism.

The fact is that outside of a few bloggers and vloggers, minority voices are silenced in the online atheist community. For my part, after the evidence-less accusations and counter accusations surrounding elevatorgate (3 years or so on), I was mistaken for an angry white man more than once, and by rather prominent ftb-ers and their allies. which goes to show how far atheism "plus" has devolved into a religion of its own--either you're 'with them', or you're a CHUD, as Richard Carrier has averred, and therefore an Angry White Man (tm)--even when your objections are legitimate, and your concerns valid. You'll note the binary thinking inherent in that, for the record.

I for one am not content to sit on the sidelines anymore. There needs to be a group of authentic atheist voices from minority communities, instead of rabid internet feminists masquerading as atheists and trying to infuse everything with the particular imprimatur of illogical thinking that is so characteristic of internet femitheism.