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Where Are You From? 31 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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To anyone who reads this blog…shout out where you’re from! We may be closer than you think. Duke Wankins, I’m talking to you too!

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Obama = Hitler?? 30 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics.
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2 comments

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wait. What? Is that Stein’s thing now? Comparing everything he dislikes to Nazis?

Know Your Logical Fallacies 20 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion, Science.
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28 comments

Today’s lesson: post hoc ergo propter hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc (translation: “after this, therefore because of this”), often shortened to just “post hoc“, is an attempt to apply a cause and effect relationship to two events that happen in temporal succession.  This fallacy is generally expressed as:

X happened, then Y happened.
Therefore, X caused Y (or Y was caused by X)

Here’s a example, straight from my inbox:

DID YOU KNOW THESE FACTS?
I SURE DIDNT TILL NOW
Death is certain but the Bible speaks about untimely death!
Make a personal reflection about this…..
Very interesting, read until the end…..

It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7):
‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sow,that shall he also reap.

Here are some men and women who mocked God :

John Lennon (Singer):
Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said: ‘Christianity will end, it will disappear. I do not have to argue about that. I am certain. Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more famous than Him’ (1966).

Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil ):
During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.

Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):
During A show in Canecio ( Rio de Janeiro ),while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said:’God, that’s for you.’

He died at the age of 32 of LUNG CANCER in a horrible manner.

The man who built the Titanic
After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic would be. With an ironic tone he said: ‘Not even God can sink it’

The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic

Marilyn Monroe (Actress)
She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show. He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her. After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said: ‘I don’t need your Jesus’.

A week later, she was found dead in her apartment

Bon Scott (Singer)
The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang: ‘Don’t stop me; I’m going down all the way, down the highway to hell’.

On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

Campinas (IN 2005)
In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend….. The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car: ‘My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You.’ She responded: ‘Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause Inside Here…..It’s Already Full ‘

Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died, the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact. The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken

Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer)
said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.

In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.

Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive.

——SNIP——–

See the fallacy?  These people mocked God (X happened), then they died untimely deaths (Y happened).  Therefore, they died untimely deaths because they mocked God (Y was caused by X).

Although the fallacy is pretty easy to spot in this example, sometimes it’s more difficult to see.   A good first step to try to determine if you’ve encountered a post hoc argument is to turn the argument around to see if it holds true.  In this case, the reverse would be:

“You can prevent dying an untimely death by not mocking God.”

Clearly, this doesn’t make sense.  Plenty of people who have died untimely deaths did not mock God.  The connection between the two events has not been established, so it’s a post hoc argument.

It is important to note that not all links between earlier and later events fall into the post hoc fallacy category.  Many scientific hypotheses start out as post hoc ideas.  But the causal relationships outlined in a hypothesis are then supported (or disproven) by evidence from properly-conducted experiments.  If it hasn’t been confirmed by evidence, proceed with skepticism.

Quickies 20 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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joe lieberman, senator palpatine, star wars

PZ’s Greatist Hits 14 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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Here.  But he left out my favorite.

The Great Cracker Conflagration of 2008 12 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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Regular readers of this blog (hi to all four of you) probably already know about this – PZ Myers has found himself in a bit of an internet uproar over a communion wafer.

A condensed timeline:

  • A student at the University of Central Florida takes a consecrated communion wafer home with him.  Much outrage ensues, including accusing said student of a “hate crime” and “kidnapping”, and e-mailed death threats.
  • PZ writes about it, and includes a call for people to send him wafers to desecrate.
  • Bill Donohue (of Catholic League fame) gets wind of it, and acts typically by issuing a press release calling for people to write to the University of Minnesota president to demand that PZ gets fired.
  • PZ responds and fights back.
  • Meanwhile, he’s getting his own batch of hate mail, some with death threats.
  • The Catholic League issues another press release calling for extra security for Catholics at the upcoming Republican Convention in Minneapolis, despite the fact that Morris is 150 miles away from Minneapolis and PZ has not threatened anyone.

Whew. What drama.

I’m somewhat undecided about PZ’s pledge to desecrate a cracker.  On one hand, I think it’s a fairly juvenile stunt.  On the other hand, actions like his can open up a dialog (if somewhat heated) about important issues.  Some of the most important insights I’ve had in my life have come from getting offended and then examining why I was offended.

But what I did find interesting was the thread that ran among the comments from those supporting the Catholic outrage.  Most of them either implicitly or explicitly included the idea that an individual has a right to have their beliefs respected.  Um, no.  Your right to hold a belief should be respected, but the belief itself has no right to be respected.  The idea of respecting beliefs sounds like a good one at first blush, but it’s totally unworkable.  There are some sincerely held but genuinely silly beliefs out there.  Anyone who has spent any time on the internet can come up with at least 5 examples off the top of their head.  By the rationale of the “respect beliefs” argument, we must respect the belief that aliens built the Great Pyramids.  Or that the moon landing was a hoax.  Or that the US government was behind 9/11.  There are people out there that believe these things just as deeply as Catholics believe that a priest can, with appropriate hand gestures and incantations, turn a wafer into the Body of Christ.  See how respecting all beliefs just won’t work?

But the “respect beliefs” commenters don’t really believe that all beliefs should be respected.  A great number of them are calling for PZ to desecrate a Koran instead.  So apparently they have no problems with disrespecting the beliefs of Muslims.  I guess “respect beliefs” really means “respect the beliefs with which I agree”.

Mmmm…I love the smell of hypocrisy.

Who’s Arrogant Now? 08 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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One of the most common insults that I see hurled at scientists is that we are arrogant.  We “think” we “know” everything because we have ed-yoo-kay-shun.

True, I have met some arrogant scientists, but they can’t hold a candle to Ray Comfort.  You may remember Ray from his unintentionally hilarious video claiming that bananas were proof of the existence of God.  In his latest blog post, he compares himself favorably to Albert Einstein.  Seriously.  He claims that he has made a discovery that will “trump” the Theory of Relativity.  He has even included an animated image that shows his face morphing into Einstein’s.

Looks like we know who the truly arrogant one is.

HT: PZ

VA Complies With Establishment Clause; Christians Cry Discrimination 06 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics, Religion.
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Yet another example of “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed because the government doesn’t grant my religion special privileges over other religions!”:

North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes says some officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs are engaging in anti-Christian discrimination.

Last year officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs ordered the VA Hospital in Fayetteville to remove all Christian religious symbols from its chapel – crosses, Bibles, and stained glass windows. According to the VA, the chapel must remain “neutral” in order to make worshippers of all faiths “comfortable.” Chaplain Archie Barringer retired from his position as service chief at the hospital in protest.

Congressman Hayes takes issue with the hospital’s actions. “This is the very basic and crux and core of our religious faith and of who we are in this country. And it has certainly offended me, as I know it has a number of other people, to see these articles of faith removed that our veterans have fought, bled, and died in order to preserve,” Hayes explains.

So the VA, in order to make a publicly-financed space inclusive of all faiths represented in our military, decide to remove symbols that are specific to a particular religion.  That’s not anti-Christian discrimination.  Anti-Christian discrimination would be to put a sign on the chapel door saying “No Christians Allowed”.   What they’ve done is remove the pro-Christian discrimination, in compliance with the Establishment Clause.  You’re still free to worship there as you please.

And our veterans “have fought, bled, and died in order to preserve” Christian religious symbols?  I’m sure that would come as news to  the many non-Christian soldiers out there (and, yes, they exist).  Let’s see what the Oath of Enlistment has to say:

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God.)

Hmmm.  I do see a mention of “God” in the optional part at the end, but it doesn’t say which God.  It mentions defending and maintaining allegiance to the Constitution and obeying the President and superior officers.  I don’t see any reference to crosses, Bibles, or stained-glass windows. It seems that Mr. Hayes was wrong.  Color me shocked.

And for those Christians out there who don’t understand why the VA wisely decided to remove the crosses and Bibles, ask yourself how comfortable you would feel praying in a chapel (paid with your tax dollars) that contains exclusively Muslim (or Jewish, or Hindu, or Buddhist, etc.) iconography.

Stimulus Package Causes Increase in Package Stimulus 06 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Humor, Politics.
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An amusing result of those $600 stimulus checks: it appears that they have led to an increase in online porn usage:

An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will “boost our economy and encourage job creation,” has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans’ mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, “Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market.”

And it apparently is no coincidence:

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for LSGmodels.com, one of the sites reporting figures to AIMRCo, added, “In a June 15, 2008 survey to our members, thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership.”

I wonder how Dubya and his religious-right supporters feel about this interesting development.  It does bring a new level of hilarity to the term economic “stimulus”. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Two Woos in One 05 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Wacky.
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Yesterday, the History International channel was showing a “documentary” called “UFOs in the Bible”.  Apparently it’s a popular idea.  Basically any biblical reference to something in the sky or something supernatural is “proof” of aliens.

Wow.

Take one part “God did it”, one part “Aliens did it” and mix to get “Aliens did it, but the guys writing the Bible mistook them for God”.