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Vandals for Jesus 13 Jul 2011

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion.
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Way back when I was in college, one of my friends had a car emblem that I’d never seen before.  It looked like a Christian fish, except it had feet and said “Darwin” in the center of it.  I thought it was amusing, even though I was a Christian at the time.

Apparently somebody didn’t like it.  One morning, said friend came out to his car to find the emblem missing and the air let out of all four tires.

It appears that times haven’t changed much. (more…)

On Elevators and Schrödinger 10 Jul 2011

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Feminism, Skepticism.
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I’m resurrecting this long-neglected blog by jumping right into the deep end.

If you follow the skeptic/atheist blogs, you probably already know about The Elevator Incident.  While at a conference in Ireland, Rebecca Watson found herself on the receiving end of some unwanted attention while in an elevator at 4 AM.  She talked about it in a vlog post, relevant part transcribed below:

So, thank you to everyone who was at that conference who, uh, engaged in those discussions outside of that panel, um, you were all fantastic; I loved talking to you guys—um, all of you except for the one man who, um, didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel…? Because, um, at the bar later that night—actually, at four in the morning—um, we were at the hotel bar, 4am, I said, you know, “I’ve had enough, guys, I’m exhausted, going to bed,” uh, so I walked to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me, and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more; would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?”

Um. Just a word to the wise here, guys: Uhhhh, don’t do that. Um, you know. [laughs] Uh, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and—don’t invite me back to your hotel room, right after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

So, yeah. But everybody else seemed to really get it.

And after that, things just seemed to explode.  See here for a fairly exhaustive link farm of the whole debacle.  Basically, a lot of people felt that Rebecca was making a big deal out of nothing, that the guy didn’t mean any harm, etc.  Many others tried to explain, some very politely and with relevant links,  why Elevator Guy’s behavior was inappropriate.

In an ideal world, what followed would have been a back-and-forth conversation until the “no big deal” people at least understood that the situation would make many women uncomfortable, even if they really couldn’t fully grasp why.  What happened instead is that those who were trying to explain Rebecca’s reaction were caricatured as overreacting misandrist wet blankets who think that all men are rapists and who also think that men should never, ever, ever hit on women.

So, even though eleventy-billion electrons have been exchanged over this issue, I’ll try to explain, yet again, why The Elevator Incident was creepy.

First, some background.  One in every 6 women in the US has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (link).  And the unfortunate thing for you good guys out there who would never harm a woman is that the vast majority of the bad guys look exactly the same as you.  Until a woman gets to know you better, she has no idea whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy.  So there will always be a baseline level of wariness at first.  This does not mean that you can never approach a woman you don’t know.  There are ways to approach women in a non-threatening manner (see here for a very good primer), and there are behaviors that will raise mental red flags.

Elevator Guy’s problem is that he raised a lot of red flags.

First, the time and location.  In an elevator at 4AM.  Most women have been taught all of their lives to avoid isolated spaces, especially late at night, in order to reduce the chances of getting sexually assaulted.  Many, many, police department safety tips specifically mention avoiding elevators.  So when a woman finds herself alone in an elevator with a strange man, her guard is higher than normal.  Elevator Guy may have been a perfectly nice guy and not a threat at all, but Rebecca had no way of knowing that at the time.  Remember that, for the most part, dangerous men look exactly the same as non-dangerous men.  And at 4AM, if something had gone wrong, the chances that someone else might be around to stop an assault are pretty much nil.  So, even more wariness.

Second, no prior contact.  Even though he had ample opportunity earlier in the evening, Elevator Guy apparently made no attempt to engage in conversation with Rebecca prior to The Elevator Incident, and took the first opportunity to talk to her to proposition her.  Big red flag.

Third, disregard for her previously-expressed desires.  She had stated earlier in the day that being sexualized made her uncomfortable.  Elevator Guy supposedly heard it, but decided to disregard her stated wishes by propositioning her.  Or, for those who insist that “coffee” really meant coffee (despite the fact that they both just left a place that was serving coffee), he decided to disregard her expressed wish to go to sleep.  If he disregarded those wishes, what else is he likely to disregard?  Another red flag.

Three big warning signs in the space of a short interaction.  That is why it was creepy.



I Call Poe on ChristWire 23 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion.
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Here’s their 404 error message:

Our holy servers are currently experiencing miraculous amounts of high traffic and atheistic evils.

Why do 404 error messages occur?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe 404 Error message was created by an unholy menagerie of vile atheists, Democrats, liberals and Godless Soviets in the Year of our Lord 1992. We’re told through electronic pathogens and demonic incantation rituals, they managed to create ways to electronically limit the amount of lost souls and seekers of truth that ‘web servers’ could process in a given minute.

Though their machinations are evil and everlasting, through hope, prayer and clicking refresh you can eventually overcome these wicked limits during times when tens of thousands of people flock to ChristWire per hour to discover the works of True Christians.

Just Nisbet Being Nisbet 30 Mar 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion, Science.
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Poor Matt Nisbet.  He still doesn’t get it.

First off, he wags his finger at Richard Dawkins for sharing his opinion on religion:

Dawkins, for example, argues as a scientist that religion is comparable to a mental virus or “meme” that can be explained through evolution, that religious believers are delusional, and that in contrast, atheists are representative of a healthy, independent, and pro-science mind. In making these claims, not only does Dawkins use his authority as the “Oxford University Professor of the Public Understanding of Science” to denigrate various social groups, but he gives resonance to the false narrative of social conservatives that the scientific establishment has an anti-religion agenda.

How dare Richard Dawkins speak an opinion about anything other than science!  It’s not like there’s some sort of clash between science and religion.  Oh wait, there is.

The whole NOMA thing doesn’t work.  Religion has tons to say about things that are within the “science magesterium”, and scientists have every right (and, I might add, an obligation) to push back at statements that flatly contradict scientific observations.  And the people who think that “the scientific establishment has an anti-religion agenda” have had that belief cemented into them long before Dawkins came along.

And then he goes off about Expelled, and how awful it was for the cause of science:

The conflict narrative is powerfully employed in the 2008 anti-evolution documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. By relying almost exclusively on interviews with outspoken atheist scientists such as Dawkins and the blogger PZ Myers, Expelled reinforces the false impression that evolution and faith are inherently incompatible and that scientists are openly hostile to religion. In the film, the comedic actor Ben Stein plays the role of a conservative Michael Moore, taking viewers on an investigative journey into the realm of “Big Science,” an institution where Stein concludes that “scientists are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator.”


One leading example from the film is an interview with Myers, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris, and author of the Pharyngula blog. Myers’ comments in the film reflect much of the content of his blog, which is estimated to receive over a 1 million readers per month. Interviewed in his laboratory, against a backdrop of microscopes and scientific equipment, Myers offers the following view of religion (see YouTube clip):

Religion is naiveté that gives some people comfort and we don’t want to take it away from them. It’s like knitting, people like to knit. We are not going to take their knitting needles away, we are not going to take away their churches, but we have to get it to a place where religion is treated at a level that it should be treated. That is something fun that people get together and do on the weekend, and really doesn’t affect their life as much as it has been so far.

In a follow up, when prompted to discuss how he believes this goal might be accomplished, Myers offers a line of reasoning that reflects the deficit model paradigm, arguing that science literacy is in direct conflict with religious belief:

Greater science literacy, which is going to lead to the erosion of religion, and then we will get this nice positive feedback mechanism going where as religion slowly fades away we will get more and more science to replace it, and that will displace more and more religion which will allow more and more science in and we will eventually get to that point where religion has taken that appropriate place as a side dish rather than a main course.

How quickly Matt forgets.  Dawkins and Myers were duped into talking about religion during their interviews.  They were told that the film was about the intersection of science and religion, so it’s not as if their opinions about religion were unsolicited.  I’m sure that, if asked only about science, they could probably manage not to veer off into an anti-religious screed.  Matt apparently thinks that they are incapable of  refraining from unsolicited statements about religion.

So how, exactly, are people like Dawkins and Myers supposed to act in Nisbet-world?  Are they just supposed to sit idly by as people try to push religion into science?  Are they supposed to act like it’s okay for people to say that the earth is 6000 years old?  That humans and dinosaurs co-existed?  That evolution is false?

This Week in Stupidity 22 Mar 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Humor, Religion.
Tags: , , ,
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And the winner is….Pastor Chris Fox of Kendalls Baptist Church in New London, NC.

He tried to pull a reverse-Poe at a blog written and read by atheists.  Hilarity ensued.

PROTIP:  You will get caught if you Lie for Jesus.

On a related note, lolcats nail it: