Category Archives: Skepticism

But He Loves You

I miss George Carlin. Nobody could tell it like it was  better than he.

Carlin could be vulgar, but this short video is entirely clean. It’s one more example of how a vulgar funny man can still be funny without being vulgar. But even more than that, it’s one more example how somebody like him or Bill Maher can just state the obvious and make it hilarious.

A cousin of mine recently sent me this. (Thanks, Johnny.) Watch as George once again demolishes our favorite adult fairy tale.

First Santa Clause; now Him.

Similies

PHILOSOPHY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
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METAPHYSICS is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
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THEOLOGY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting, “ I found it!”
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SCIENCE is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that may or may not be there . . . using a flashlight.
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From the Internet
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And that’s no joke. Sorry.

Be wary of this man.

blame I think this may be the guy I wrote about yesterday. Remember? The one who said, “God is watching over us” while eleven people died? Be wary of this man.

I just found this guy’s picture on Facebook and thought I ought to post it here, because you probably know him. If not, you almost certainly know somebody like him.

He’s conservative; he probably votes Republican, though he’ll tell you he’s politically independent; and he thinks the United States is a Christian nation, even though our Constitution never mentions Christ. He loves sinners–well, except maybe faggots and godless, atheistic secular humanists–and wants to save them from themselves and the world from them. He honors the presidency of the United States, but despises our President; and he loves our country so much he wants to tear up the Constitution and establish a theocracy. By force, if necessary.

He’ll tell you climate change is “the biggest fraud ever perpetrated against the American people,” even as we complete the hottest year in the history of climate studies. He’ll lie to your face and claim it’s not true that 13 of the 14 hottest years on record have been since the turn of this century and the other one was 1998. He’ll laugh about the possibility that sea level could rise enough to notice, even while small island nations prepare to be swallowed up by the waves.

He’ll say that “if you tell your kids they came from animals, they’ll act like animals.” Then he’ll claim we were all made out of dirt.

This man is a Fundamentalist. What makes him dangerous is not just that he’s so wrong about so many things, but that he’s absolutely certain he is right about them. Ask him what could potentially shake his faith in his beliefs and he’ll probably answer truthfully, “Absolutely nothing.” He is so certain, in fact, that he wants you to live your life according to the dictates of his conscience.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. Iran is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. North Korea is ruled by a man just as certain of his wrong ideas. America needs leaders who get their ideas and ideals from science and reason and compassion, and who understand they might be wrong about anything they believe and willing to learn better.

Be wary of this man. Be very wary of this man

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“God is watching over us.” Really?

Devastation from Saturday's tornado in and near DallasViolent storms ripped through the North Texas area late Saturday, spawning tornadoes that killed 11 people, damaged more than 100 homes, and destroyed at least 39 others. Destruction was widespread and terrible in Dallas, GarlandRowlett, and nearby areas.

I found this post on Facebook, and it expresses my thoughts perfectly.

Joyce Rutter quote from Facebook

I couldn’t find the quote, but I have no doubt somebody said it. It’s the kind of stupid thing somebody always says.

Tornado damage Decembr 27, 2015 in Rowlett, TXGod gets thanks but not blame?

A tornado kills people and wrecks homes and property and God gets thanks because it wasn’t worse. People forget God is reputedly the One Who sent the tornado in the first place.

If He gets credit for the good, why doesn’t He get blame for the devastation He apparently sent?
Heavily damaged area in Rowlett, TX December 2, 2015If God was “watching over” somebody, it must not have been those eleven people who died. Or the many more who were injured. Or those who lost their homes.

An all-powerful god who could help a few people could just as easily have saved everybody, if He wanted to. So the question has to become, “Why didn’t He want to?”Debris of homes after tornado in Garland, TX December 27, 2015

Why did God only “watch over” some people?

Isn’t He supposed to be a god of love? Well, do loving people let other people suffer and die when they could easily prevent it?

And that’s not all.

Heavily damaged residence is seen December 27, 2015 in the aftermath of a tornado in Rowlett, TX

Days of violent storms caused chaos on highways across the South and raised the death toll to at least a total of 28.

Yeah, God was watching over us, all right.

If a loving, all-powerful god had been watching out for us, there would have been no tornado. Any 8-year-old ought to understand that.

Car in a flooded drainage ditch after Saturday's tornado in Rowlett, TX, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015

Yet leaders and followers alike feel their faith has been strengthened after every disaster. Why? Because THEY didn’t die. So they “know” their Imaginary Friend was looking out for them.

Just them, and nobody else? Well, them and whoever else was lucky enough to have survived.

Damaged mobile home park after Saturday's tornado in Garland, TX, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015

Most of us were just lucky. That’s all.

Why can’t people just realize they were lucky? Lots of people were lucky, but others suffered and died. No loving God watched over North Texas Saturday night.

In fact, there is not the slightest shred of convincing evidence that any god even exists.

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“It looks like a bomb.”

Ahmed's clock

Nearly everybody seems to say “It looks like a bomb.” Of course, I’m talking again — hopefully for the last time — about Ahmed Mohammed’s clock (above) that caused all the commotion recently.

Ahmed didn’t “invent” a clock. That seems clear enough. What was different about this clock that made him think he had invented something is not clear. Nevertheless, he was proud enough of it that he wanted to show it off to his engineering teacher.

Unfortunately, the alarm went off during English class, and the English teacher and Principal went bonkers. You’ll remember, I’m sure, that nobody thought it was a bomb. The boy was arrested and taken away in handcuffs because they thought it was a “hoax bomb.” They said it looks like a bomb!

suitcase bomb

Here’s a real suitcase bomb on the left and another on the right. See the difference?

These bombs have actual explosives, which you can see in both of them. Ahmed’s “hoax bomb” doesn’t have anything to explode. It’s just a tangle of wires and electronic elements.

Hackett Suitcase Bomb

I wonder what an actual hoax bomb clock would look like? Here are a couple I found on Google.

The clock on the left definitely looks like a bomb to me. It was meant to.

clock hoax bomb

The “hoax dynamite” explosive is just wooden dowel pins covered with brown paper and bound with electrical tape, but it looks real to me. This definitely looks like a bomb.

The clock on the right (below) is designed to look like a C4 bomb.

clock hoax bomb

The fake C4 plastic explosive is nothing but gray modeling clay, but it looks like a bomb.

Ahmed Mohammed has a reputation as a tinkerer and likes to think of himself as an “inventor.” His friends pay him actual money for some of his gadgets. So nobody should have been alarmed (no pun intended) when it dinged. This “model student” who had never been in trouble before brought his current project to school to show it off to people he thought would appreciate it.

Who would have thought so many supposedly intelligent, educated, and trained people would have thought it looks like a bomb? Who would have thought such an exceptionally bright and well behaved student would have been (mis)treated like a terrorist by people he trusted? People he thought were on his side?

Objective Morality? You Can Have Mine.

Objective morality?

Many religious people like to claim there can be no “objective morality” — whatever that is — without a god. If by objective morality they mean universal or unchanging morality, well, very few of them want that any more than I do. They just think they do. More accurately, they don’t think about it. Stoning for picking up sticks on the Sabbath Day? (Saturday, by the way. Sunday has never been the Sabbath.)

Stoning non-virgin brides? Or for unruly children? Slavery? Forced marriage to their attackers for rape victims? Slaughter of every individual — old men, women, children, tiny babies, and even the livestock and pets — in the country of your enemy when you win a war?

This is objective morality.

This is the “objective morality” of the Old Testament. It isn’t good now, and it wasn’t good then. It was horrible! It’s the kind of “objective morality” you get from the Christians’ god. From some other gods, it’s even worse!

We’ve improved our morality considerably in the last 3,000 years, because it’s not eternal. It’s not “objective.” We’re able to change it as we better learn what’s good for people and societies. We still have a long way to go, but we’re gradually getting there.

Let’s hear it for a better, more flexible morality.

I’m glad we have a morality that can mature and improve as we learn and think. Who cares whether it’s “objective” or not?

Megyn Kelly Laughs at Guest Who Blames ‘Passive Aggressive’ Ahmed Mohamed for His Own Arrest

Here are both sides of the story, though a little short on facts. But that’s OK. We’ve already heard the facts about 17 zillion times in the past few days.

For some reason, Fox News brought in a lying racist who had already been thrown off the police force for racist comments and perjury to tell the school’s and cops’ side of the story. Then Megyn couldn’t keep from laughing at his dumb remarks. (For background, see here and here.)

A former police officer — who was booted off the force for racist comments and perjury — was on the receiving end of some mockery from Fox News host Megyn Kelly after he said that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was to blame for his arrest by Texas police because he was “passive aggressive.”

Alternet

According to all reports, there was no passive aggression. There was no aggression of any kind. Everybody seems to agree that when he was asked about his gadget, he said it was a clock; but the cop said his answer was not reasonable. Go figure.

Megyn Kelly

This kid put a few scrap electronic parts together and made a digital clock. It wasn’t very neat, but it worked.

He was proud of what he had done, so he took it to school to show his engineering teacher. If I had been he, I would have done the same thing.

Ahmed MohamedHis confidence in his engineering teacher was evidently well placed. The teacher expressed his approval, but advised Ahmed not to show it to anybody else. Ahmed followed his advice and didn’t show the clock to anybody else until he was required to. But it beeped at an inopportune time.

His English teacher heard a beep, asked what it was, and demanded to see the clock. She said it looked like a bomb and notified the principal, who called the police, who came and arrested Ahmed and took him away in handcuffs.

Ahmed was described as a model student who had never been in trouble before. Do you think maybe somebody besides his engineering teacher should have thought maybe he was telling the truth?

Ahmed's clockSo okay, the English teacher thought it looked like a bomb. Here’s the alleged “hoax bomb.” Do you see any sticks of dynamite? Do you see any glob of clay that might have been an explosive? Me neither. All I see is a mess of wires and electronics stuff. Wires and electronic stuff don’t usually explode.

I guess maybe an English teacher — or some English teachers — just wouldn’t know. She had to use her best judgement. But Ahmed already had a reputation for building “crazy contraptions” like this.

Last year he attended Sam Houston middle school, where everyone knew him as the kid who makes crazy contraptions. His classmates brought him electronics to fix and even bought some of his gadgets. He had an identity. He was the Inventor Kid.

The Guardian

Don’t you think somebody should have known?

Big Ben bombAhmed didn’t invent the clock, as some have reported. Clocks were invented centuries ago. Electronic digital clocks were invented decades ago. But he built a clock, using a lot of wire. That’s all it was.

Nobody thought it was a bomb.  They said it looked like a “hoax bomb.”  There was no evacuation of the school. They just thought putting a really smart kid with the potential to accomplish a lot of good for our country in handcuffs it was a good idea. I disagree.

As I said before, I stand with Ahmed.


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Ouija Boards: No, We Don’t Believe

Skeptics always knew Ouija boards couldn’t work. Here’s proof.

In 1886, spiritualists in Ohio invented a new device described as a “talking board” or “spirit board.” They said they used it to communicate with spirits of dead people.

When businessman Elijah Bond began selling them as Ouija boards in 1890, they were supposed to be innocent parlor games, unrelated to the occult; but spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized their occult use again during World War I.

The Ouija board is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet and the numerals 0–9, as well as the words “yes”, “no”, and sometimes “hello” and “goodbye.” It may also have various symbols and graphics. It uses a planchette (a small wooden or plastic pointer) as an indicator with which to spell out a spirit’s message during a seance. Participants place their fingers on the planchette, and it moves around the board to spell out words. Spirits are said to do the moving.

Ouija boardsThe scientific community has always criticized the paranormal and supernatural beliefs associated with the Ouija boards. They say the action of the device is just unconscious movements of the user’s hands.

Some Christian preachers warn that using Ouija boards can lead to demonic possession. They say the spirits controlling the movements are actually demons; not dead people.

This stuff is nonsense, of course.

There are no spirits of any kind moving the planchette. No dead people. No demons. No nothing. The users are doing it themselves, unconsciously.

The video shows that the spirits couldn’t talk to the users when they were blindfolded. We knew that already, because, after all … spirits aren’t real. Dead people can’t communicate. They can’t do anything. Because they’re dead. And demons are just a bad fairy tale. But not everybody understands that.

Every time supposedly paranormal or supernatural effects have been scientifically studied by appropriate experts under controlled circumstances, they have failed. The evidence is so overwhelming that we should consider it convincing. There are no paranormal beings or powers or effects. There is no supernatural. There is only nature.

But that’s OK, because there’s more wonder in nature than any of us could ever experience, no matter how hard we try.

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