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Aggregating Skeptical Thought

Pat Condell on the movie, Fitna

As you can imagine Pat Condell has something to say regarding the Dutch movie, Fitna. I had previously posted on the subject and even provided the video links to it, which are now removed from YouTube, cowards. 

 Here’s the Youtube video.

Found via FriendlyAtheist

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Filed under: Internet, Religion, , , , ,

Geert Wilder’s Fitna (strife) released

Something that continues to fascinate me since hearing of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s life is Dutch politics. In recent weeks a “right-wing” Dutch politician, Geert Wilder, has produced a short film, called Fitna (the word strife in arabic). It portrays Islam in a rather negative light. Actually it’s pretty blunt about the problems with Islam within a democratic, pluralistic society. Ok, fine, it’s actually a bit Michael Moore in its portrayal of Islam. Like Michael Moore’s filmmaking, the truth is all in how you tell the story, or put that story together. Each individual part can be true but when put together it may not tell the whole picture.

Geert Wilder’s Fitna, basically says that Islam is a religion of hate. One could certainly make that argument (and he does) but I wonder if his approach, a) won’t change anybodies mind and b) will likely get him killed. Of course, if a muslim kills him it only goes to reinforce the point, but still. As a film, it’s more like a PowerPoint presentation. The Hirsi Ali/Van Gogh film, Submission Part 1, was much more artisticly done.

Here is the only English Version link I could find, http://www.liveleak.com/e/7d9_1206624103, and WordPress doesn’t let me embed from there (at least I can’t figure it out).

Edit: Ooh, originally it looked like YouTube were going to be a bunch of chicken shits (like Network Solutions) but here it is.

Double Edit: Guess what? YouTube are a bunch of chicken shits. These videos don’t work anymore, I’ll see what I can do to get them from BitTorrent and then post them for good. Ah, Google Video to the rescue (ironic that Google Video has it but YouTube, owned by Google, won’t play it).

Filed under: Atheism, Internet, Religion, , , , , , ,

He was only 15

I hesitate to post this because well just watch… I know I can’t watch it again because something will get stuck in my eye again, stupid… um… eyelash.

Found via UDreamOfJanie

P.S. Looking for someone to blame? Start with this fucker (I’m talking about the guy in the picture, not the blog).

Filed under: Internet, , , , ,

Don’t be a Dick

I need to rant and since none of my family knows about this blog (except the wife, who will yell at me for posting this) I feel safe in ranting about them. This is specifically about a family member who has become religious and recently joined the Catholic Church.  We’ll call him Dick (seems appropriate).

1) We (and most of my wife’s family) recently attended Dick’s confirmation in the Catholic Church. It was 3 freakin’ hours long but we were there to support him so that’s not my issue. My issue is that at the end of the service (which did I mention was in hour 3 @ 10:00 at night) they were doing communion. Dick’s brother, a practicing Protestant, went forward to take Communion and was BLOCKED from attending communion by Dick, because he wasn’t a Catholic and therefore unable to take communion*.

He was BLOCKED from taking part in a ritual affirming the divinity of Jesus and therefore in some small part BLOCKED from his own god, simply because he was “Them” and not an “Us”. What kind of arrogant, assbaggery is involved in Dick’s thought process. He later justified it by saying he stopped his brother because of how much “reverence the Church has for communion”. Oh, that makes sense… WTF? What does that even fucking mean?

Needless to say Dick’s brother was pissed but he blew if off and chose not to make a scene during Dick’s special day (all 3 freakin’ hours of it, not sure if I mentioned that).

2) Second, another Dick story. Since I’m venting I might as well let it all out. My wife was speaking with Dick on the phone about their father. Somehow in the conversation Dick thought my wife was talking about me (little ole’ heathen Skeptigator) being depressed, instead of their father. Dick proceeds to tell my wife that he can understand why I would be depressed since I don’t believe in God and therefore don’t have any reason for living my life. He actually said that, wait, let me bold that, ok done. Again my question stands, what kind of arrogant, assbaggery is involved in Dick’s thought process?

You know, Dick, if YOU don’t have a reason to live your life without an imaginary dictator in the sky, fine. But don’t tell ME I don’t have a reason for living my life, OK?….Dick. I have a gorgeous loving wife, and 2 of the most beautiful children on the planet (that’s an actual established fact).

You can pin a lot of this arrogance and Dick-ish behavior on Dick but let’s be honest. #1 is built-in to many religions, not the least of which is the Catholic church. So in all honesty Dick was being intellectually honest in his blocking of his brother’s access to their supposedly shared god. #2 is way too common among the masses. I’ve seen this exact statement made in other places but never thought it was more than hyperbole. How naive am I? Oh and to the religious who read this, most of you don’t comment but I do get emails. Before you tell me that this is not “True Christianity” or Dick isn’t living a Christ-like life, at least, read Matthew 15:22-28. I know the apologetics and I don’t buy it for a second, a dog is dog, the translation is correct, even if you take dog = pet approach it’s still an insult showing Jesus preference was to the Jews (or again just the disciples, depending on apologetic).

 * I understand that there are rules for allowing non-Catholics to take communion, some kind of blessing or something, either way, it’s not the point.

ETA: Credit for the updated title goes to hoverFrog.

Filed under: Atheism, Religion, ,

Arthur C. Clarke has died

I just read that Arthur C. Clarke has died (1917-2008) in his home in Sri Lanka. He is of course most famous for 2001: A Space Odyssey but I remember his work in the Rendezvous With Rama and the subsequent sequels.

The article reports that Clarke expressed the following three wishes,

for ethnically divided Sri Lanka to find a lasting peace, for the world to embrace cleaner energy resources, and for extraterrestrial beings to “call us or give us a sign.”

Interesting that he would wish for something better the people locally, something better for mankind in the present and for something amazing for mankind in the future.

On top of all of that I hear for the first time (which isn’t surprising since I don’t keep up with these things) that Rama is being made into a movie starring Morgan Freeman. I’m not holding out much hope, there is so much in those books that I don’t know how they are going to make them into a decent movie.

Filed under: Internet, Science, ,

Christopher Hedges doesn’t believe in atheists

Somehow I missed this really good interview with Christopher Hedges the author of American Fascists, a scathing attack on the Religious Right in America, about his new work I Don’t Believe in Atheists.

Christopher Hedges has debated by Dawkins and Hitchens,

I haven’t read the new book but it’s now on my evergrowing and seemingly never shrinking list of books to read. In his debates, watch the youtube video to see an example of this, his primary criticism is that there is this belief among the New Atheists, or Secular Fundamentalists as he calls them, is that once you remove religion the world will be great and that Religion was holding us back. And I have to agree that that criticism is legitimate in the sense that that does seem to be the way many of the New Atheists arguments seemed to get boiled down to. In addition, if you simply replace Religion with Atheism as the new set of “moral” standards you have essentially replaced something (religion) with a nothing (atheism) and therefore that criticism stands as well.

What I think perhaps Christopher Hedges best illustrates is that many of the New Atheists arguments are “against” religion but not specifically “for” anything and therefore leave a whole that must be filled. I personally think that is a legitimate criticism. There is a basis for morality or at least a basis for how we determine that morality.

What I anticipate happening in the coming years is a flood of books by authors whole we be dubbed as the New Moralists or New Philosphers. These books will actually put forward in laymen’s terms the basis for a new morality which anybody who reads this stuff will recognize as simply Humanism or some variant of it. These books will also come under attack as well but for different reasons. These new books will actually make “positive statements of belief” that can be directly attacked as opposed to the current batch of books whose “negative statements of belief” are really just attacks themselves. Of course, you will also have these new beliefs attacked as being morally relativistic however the current books by the New Atheists do a pretty good job of showing religions, particularly Christianity, are morally relativistic as well, although the phrase “subject to interpretation” is more appropriate, such as the rights of women, slavery and racism.

I think Hedges makes some great arguments that I hope some of the New Atheists and others will take to heart and  move the debate forward away from the irrational basis of religion and towards this so called “New Enlightenment”.

Filed under: Atheism, Internet, Politics, , , , , , ,

The true meaning of Islam, Submission Part 1

Since I just posted on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel I thought I would provide a link to the short film that her and Theo van Gogh created, called Submission, Part I. It is a damning commentary on muslim attitudes towards women. The video was so inflammatory that it ended up getting Theo van Gogh killed.

If you read Infidel this short film will have so much more power for you. You will also have a better understanding why this film pissed off so many muslims (the truth hurts).

Filed under: Atheism, Internet, Politics, Religion, , , , ,

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, A Review

Now that my work and a number of side jobs have slowed down in the last week or so I have been able to work my way through the backlog of books that I have been itching to read. My latest book was Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel.

Wow, wow, wow. I am utterly blown away about this book. I read it in two evenings and obviously couldn’t put it down. I was so engrossed in this other world. And let’s be honest she came from an entirely different world that Westerners like myself could hardly dare imagine.

There are a zillion reviews of the book so I’m not going to bore anyway with the same review, here’s the NY Times review. I actually don’t want to talk about the usual things that a reviewer might such as genital mutilation, refugees, immigration politics, islamic fundamentalism or honor killings.

I do want to talk about something that stuck out to me, the almost total lack of coverage in the U.S. of what was happening in the Netherlands over the last 5-7 years. We have been wall-to-wall coverage of WMDs and Iraq and Iran and Iraq and Britney Spears and Iraq and Eliot Spitzer and Britney Spears and Iraq and the 2008 elections. During all of this there was this major shift in Dutch politics, political upheaval surrounding Islam and a significant and growing muslim population in the Netherlands.

For years, the Dutch supported (and continue to support) a large refugee population, many from muslim populations. The Dutch went out of there way to accomodate the muslim faith of these refugees, but in that accomodation and tolerance they also facilitated the same isolation and lack of integration that inevitably plagues a large immigrant population. Even worse this immigrant population harbored a cultural hatred for the very country and Western culture that was signing their welfare checks. Here’s a rather lengthy quote from the book,

In those days, especially in Labor Party circles, people were always positive about Islam. If Muslims wanted mosques and separate graveyards and ritual slaughterhouses, such things were built. Community centers were provided. Islamic fundamentalist ideas were swelling in such centers, but Labor Party people usually dismissed this as a natural reaction. These immigrants had been uprooted, they said; they were clinging temporarily, to traditional ideas, which would gradually fade away. They forgot how long it had taken Europe to shake off obscurantism and intolerance, and how difficult that struggle was.

When Somalis told me they didn’t want to live in gaalo neighborhoods, I knew they wanted to avoid contact with the ungodliness of Holland. But Dutch officials always saw it as a natural desire to form a community. When Muslims wanted their own school, I saw it as forcing children to obey ideas unquestioningly; the Dutch saw no harm in funding them. When satellite dishes began bristling from every apartment in municipal housing projects, tuned to Moroccan and Turkish TV, my Labor Party colleagues saw this as a natural desire to maintain contact with home.

But with the dishes came preaching, indoctrination. There were door-to-door preachers passing out cassettes in most Dutch cities… Most migrant neighborhoods had shops selling traditional clothes and carpets and tapes, DVDs, and books on how to be a good Muslim in infidel territory. When the number of women wearing headscarves on the street became impossible to ignore, my Labor Party colleagues thoght it was only recent immigrants, who would soon abandon the practice. They failed to realize that it was the second generation, who were rediscovering their “roots,” brainwashed by jargon I recognized: tawheed, kufr, the evil Jews.

Unfortunately at the same time that the U.S. was bombing Iraq back into the Stone Ages, the Dutch people were being confronted with a culture seemingly still stuck in the Stone Ages right in their backyards. And Ayaan Hirsi Ali played a significant role in bringing this other culture into the light, and to borrow the metaphor, evil cowers from the light.

I won’t go into the details but Ayaan tried to convince the Labor Party that there were things happening in this muslim population that were completely and utterly outside of the moral values of the Dutch culture that harbored them. Ayaan eventually got herself elected to the Dutch parliament where she was able to bring these issues into the public square.

One issue that Ayaan wanted to bring to the light were the honor killings that were taking place in Holland every year. And here’s the important lesson, instead of posturing, politicking or going on an endless “trust me it’s happening” campaign she did what any good scientist or skeptic would do. She was able to get 2 of the 25 Dutch police precincts to simply document how many murders were considered “honor killings”. This was significant because previously the police weren’t allowed to document that information for fear of “stigmatizing” a population. After a mere 6 months or so, 11 girls, many teenagers, were documented as having been killed as a result of an honor killing. 11 girls in 6 months from only 2 of 25 precincts. This horrified the Dutch people.

The Dutch people were being confronted with the reality that their religious tolerance which had worked so successfully with the native Catholic, Protestant and Secular populations was utterly failing them. In one respect they were maintaining the value of religious tolerance while unwittingly withholding the value of individual liberty and freedom from women and children.

Ayaan Hirsi realized that the only way to bring freedom to half this immigrant population was for the Dutch to actually pursue integration. Not necessarily forced integration but at least stop funding so many of the self-segregationist policies that the Muslim community was creating, such as separate Muslim schools. She also later on convinced the Liberal Party (which could be loosely compared to Republicans here in the States but that would be unfair to the Liberal Party) to provide separate residence papers to women brought to Holland by legal immigrants, it wasn’t easy but she sold it by,

“…talking about the women themselves brought to Holland by men they barely know, after arranged marriages, beaten until they ended up in the hospital, but who cannot file for divorce because if they did, they would have to leave Holland and return to their families, where they would be punished. The motion was passed by a majority of the parties in Parliament, although we had to do without the Christian Democrat’s vote. (So much for brotherly love.)”

Ok so that last part might have been a cheap shot but they so deserved it. I admire her restraint.

 And perhaps most disturbing of all is that there was little if any coverage of any of this here in the States. I remember Pim Fortuyn being shot and killed but he was portrayed as some kind of xenophobic, right-wing, neo-fascist. That guy was more liberal than Hillary Clinton. I am sorry I didn’t know any of this was going on. I am the typical Ameri-centric citizen after all.

I could go on and on (and it looks like I already have) but I did want to leave you with some more information.

Here’s Christopher Hitchens thoughts on the Dutch treatment of Ayaan (her citizenship was revoked while still serving in Parliament, seriously, I couldn’t possibly make it up)

Interview with Ayaan at ReasonOnline.com

Lengthy article over at the Washington Post

and, of course, her personal website.

Filed under: Atheism, Politics, Religion, , , , , , ,

Can you spot a “Delayer 1000”?

Great article over on grist, Please stop calling them ‘skeptics’. It is the third in a series of articles specifically targeting mass media treatment of people who deny global warming (Part 1 and Part 2).

The gist of the grist story (aren’t I clever) is that calling these people global warming skeptics is actually beneficial to their cause. It makes them seem rational and reasonable and not some kind of tree-hugging alarmist. The term implies a wait and see approach. Of course, these people have made up their minds and it isn’t determined by the evidence.

However trying to brand them as global warming deniers hasn’t taken off. It’s probably because the media in general finds that it too closely resembles holocaust denier which can make a journalist a little gunshy. And quite frankly some of these so called skeptics don’t outright deny that global warming is real, so the label simply doesn’t apply. And if the media can’t use a single label then they won’t use it.

The author proposes a “third-way”. He advocates for global warming “delayer”. Since that is the more appropriate term and applies to the commonality of all different brands of global warming skeptics. There are those that acknowledge that global warming is real but that it’s either natural or we don’t have the technology to actually do anything about it. There are, of couse, those that deny that global warming is even a real thing but just some fabricated thing that liberals want to use to control mankind or scientists concocted to get federal research dollars. I think the Jews might be involved in some of these conspiracies somewhere as well but I could be wrong.

The author, Joseph Romm, actually would like to expand the term to “delayer-1000”, the 1000 indicates the level of concentration of CO2 (1,000 parts per million) that will be in our atmosphere by 2020 if current trends continue. Therefore, people like James “Dinosaur Farts” Inhofe and Michael “hasn’t written a decent book since Jurassic Park” Crichton are really global warming “delayer-1000’s”. Of course, a term like that begs for a definition. This seems like a good idea because the definition can begin to put these numbers, and more importantly what it means, into the public consciousness.

While I agree wholeheartedly with the series of articles, “delayer-1000” just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way Global Warming Skeptic does. I also wonder if a science writer at a newspaper or magazine will want to constantly be defining what “delayer – 1000” means. I guess that depends on how quickly that meme takes hold.

Filed under: Environment, , , , , , ,

Who was Frederick Seitz and why would I care?

I kept seeing these new items popup…

…and never quite connected the dots. When I took a moment to actually read one of the articles I realized now why that name seemed familiar. He was the guy who conned rounded up a number of other global warming skeptics and got them to sign a petition stating that global warming was not only not caused by man but that it isn’t even happening.

I remember looking into this guy a number of years back and found out that he was employed by RJ Reynolds to dispute that smoking does not cause 80-90% of all lung cancers. Oops he picked the wrong side of that debate. But it’s interesting that a doctor would be so misinformed. What’s that? Oh he wasn’t a doctor he was a physicist? Okay that seems a bit of an odd choice of an expert to pick for your medical review committee.

Actually that seems a bit odd that your leading scientist in your list of scientists who deny global warming isn’t even a climatologist or related field. I distinctly remember something smelling fishy about that whole publicity stunt.

Filed under: Environment, , , ,

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