Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

So wedding-day virgins deserve to die of cancer?

Pandagon reports that yes indeed there are some misconceptions about HPV out there, namely that anyone who contracts it must be a 'person of loose morals' and that by preventing one of the consequences of extra-marital sex by vaccinating against HPV, all we really accomplish is that we give permission for our tender teenage girls to grow up to be a 'person of loose morals.'

What's not said, of course, is that HPV is far more prevalent than one might expect.  It's not just prostitutes and twelve-year-old non-virgins who get it.  Practically everyone who has sex contracts it at some point, usually asymptomatic, and with no long-term consequences. You can be a wedding-day virgin marrying a man who's had consensual sex with just one other person, and whoops, you've got HPV, but you'll never know it. But to hear religious conservatives like Thomas Peters tell it, you now deserve to die of cancer because you didn't follow the rules properly.

HPV is like the common cold in terms of severity. Most people are fine, but a percentage of people get sicker and die. That's why we vaccinate against the flu, and why we should vaccinate against HPV. But that doesn't mean we need to have some society-wide panic about the flu. Just get the shot and get on with your life. Sheesh. The only reason to freak out about HPV---and about the vaccine---is that we can't handle the fact that people fuck. Even though pretty much everyone fucks. It's bizarre, it really is.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

"A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie."

--Robert Green Ingersoll

This quote reminds me of the people who look at a scientific discovery and get the sinking feeling that the discovery removes one more item off of God's list of accomplishments. Then they scour their scriptures to find something--anything--that might suggest that it was God pulling the strings behind the discovery all along.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Atheist myths debunked

Nice debunking article by Amanda Marcotte on ten common myths about atheists and atheism.

Debunking these myths about atheists in print can only do so much to quell believer fears about the supposed atheist menace. Even better would be for believers to find themselves an atheist, and instead of simply attacking them with these myths in an effort to frustrate them into submission, instead get to know them better. You might find they’re basically like everyone else, except more rested on Sundays and less afraid that invisible beings are judging them for masturbating.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Episode 24 - Daniel Dennett - Thank Goodness

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Daniel Dennett, philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist.  Today's excerpt comes from his essays called "Thank Goodness," which can be found in the recent publication, "Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life," published last year by Oxford University Press.

You can subscribe in iTunes or download it directly from here.
I hope you enjoy it.

Thought for the Day

This from PZ Meyer's blog Pharyngula, when he responds to a religious apologist's complaints about "New Atheists" and their lack of belief in objective morality.  I acknowledge that the handful of readers of this blog are no doubt already subscribers to Meyer's writings, but as the saying goes, this bears repeating:

Let’s assume that Stephens is right, and there actually is a god who somehow is the source of all good. One of the unfortunate qualities of this god, however, is that he’s unknowable: we have many religions on earth claiming knowledge of god’s desires and plans, but we have no way of determining which, if any of them, is right. Perhaps the congregation of some odd sect in a small town in Saskatchewan are getting clear instructions beamed right into their heads by the one true god, but we have no way of telling, and they look just as random as the Mormons or Buddhists or Jews or Muslims, who are just as adamant that they have the truth. Maybe we atheists are poor unfortunates who have our god-antennas broken off, so we don’t hear the celestial transmissions everyone else is getting.

What should we do?

I think it’s clear that one thing we broken receivers should not do is blindly accept an absolutist morality based on the authority of a religious source — that would be irresponsible, and given that there is absolutely no consensus on which one is right, and that there are so damned many of them, most likely to be wrong. We should, instead, do as we have been doing, and use reason and evidence to assess beliefs and choose to follow the ones that make objective sense and help us get the business of living done. That does kind of rule out Stephens’ penis-obsessed genocidal racist deity who believes in proxy sacrifices and magic chanting, though.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ACLJ: Money funnel for lawyers in the guise of religious liberty

Fred Clark of Slacktivist has a new piece on the the ACLJ, the American Center for Law and Justice, or the ACLJ.  The ACLJ poses itself as an alternative to the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, except the ACLJ doesn't stand up for anyone whose religious freedoms are being curtailed in America, only those who are evangelical Christians.

Not only does the ACLJ have the freedoms of only one religious group in mind, but it also stands against the freedoms of other competing religions, such as when it joined the resistance against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque.) 

But Clark has highlighted how perhaps the true purpose of the ACLJ is to keep its head, Jay Sekulow and his family, rolling in the dough.  Sekulow also runs charities, and according to Bob Smietana writing for The Tennessean:

Since 1998, the two charities have paid out more than $33 million to members of Sekulow’s family and businesses they own or co-own, according to the charities’ federal tax returns, known as form 990s.

One of the charities is controlled by the Sekulow family — tax documents show that all four of CASE’s board members are Sekulows and another is an officer...

Who knew that pretending persecution could pay so well?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Episode 23 - Robert Ingersoll - Freedom

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Robert G. Ingersoll, popular American political leader and orator during the nineteenth century. This excerpt comes from his essay, "Why I am an Agnostic."

You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or download it directly here.
I hope you enjoy it.