As preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough are reappearing in the United States, many anti-vaxxers are re-evaluating their opposition to immunization, and others are questioning nonmedical exemptions from vaccine requirements. The California state Senate, for instance, just overruled a long-standing law that permitted parents with religious and philosophical reservations to send their children to public and private schools without their shots.
This is a sound decision: Vaccinations are safe and essential for the health of our society. We cannot allow philosophy or faith to trump public health. But denying children potentially life-saving vaccines is just one part of the problem; I’d like to eliminate even more exemptions: those now enshrined in many laws permitting religious parents to withhold scientific medical care from their children in favor of faith healing.
Forty-eight states—all except West Virginia and Mississippi—allow religious exemptions from vaccination. (California would be the third exception if its bill becomes law.) A similar deference to religion applies to all medical care for children. As the National District Attorneys Association reports, 43 states give some kind of criminal or civil immunity to parents who injure their children by withholding medical care on religious grounds.
Children who die from refusing blood transfusions are extolled as “Youths who put God first.”
If your faith mandates spiritual healing and your child dies because you offer prayer instead of insulin or antibiotics, your chances of being charged with a crime are slim. There are religious exemptions for child neglect and abuse, negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter. Several states allow parents to use a religious defense against charges of murder of their child—and in some places they can’t be charged with murder at all. And even when parents are prosecuted, acquiescence to religious belief often leads to their being acquitted or given light sentences, including unsupervised parole. None of this, of course, applies to parents who refuse medical care on nonreligious grounds; those individuals get no immunity from prosecution.
More genius from Texas’s leading advocate of sanity, Allen Clifton
Let me go ahead and explain what you’re about to read. I wrote an article titled 10 Questions Everyone Who Believes in Science Should Ask a Creationist, which simply featured 10 questions I think people should present to creationists to see if they have a response that makes any sense.
Well, somebody I presume to be a creationist decided to answer my questions. Here are the unedited results:
1) Do you understand the difference between science and faith?
Right back at you! It takes more faith to believe in evolution, and may scientists even use the term faith to describe their believe in “missing links”. The real question is “Where you there?” Did you observe the beginning of creation? I thought that was necessary for science apparently not … especially when science needs to take a “leap of faith!”
2) If Noah really lived for 900 years, do you realize that means he lived for nearly 1/6 of the time you claim the world has existed?
If the dinosaurs lived for billions of years as you suggest, isn’t it interesting that they existed for 1/6 of your age of the earth? What kind of science can prove either? It takes faith to believe both. I see you’re still struggling with that “faith” thing!
3) If God could create the Earth in 6 days, why couldn’t he have just given Noah an ark instead of making him build one?
He could have! But He didn’t because God wanted Noah to preach the gospel for 120 years. Yes that is the kind of merciful God that we have “faith” in! The people had a chance to believe even though none did. And the evidence of a world-wide flood is staggering! And it totally destroys anyone’s ability to know the age of the earth! In other words, Carbon 14, etc. results are all wrong because of the flood!
More mirth, hilarity, and fun for the whole family at A Creationist Decided to Answer My 10 Questions and the Results Are Hilarious
Despite the constant whining by people like Glenn Greenwald & the Tea Party about the intolerably oppressive government we Americans supposedly live under, all it takes is one article like this to remind me of how extremely fortunate we are to have been born in a place where situations like the ones in this story are so far from anything we’ve ever experienced as to make them nearly incomprehensible.
Dr Hab’s advert runs up to three times a day on Mogadishu’s radio stations.
“He’s gone crazy! He’s running away!” screams the actor. “Chain him down!”
The scenario is familiar in Somalia. A man has become possessed by spirits and the only option for his family is to restrain him and call the sheikh. But as the young man protests, a voice that challenges Somali tradition booms out. […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services.Dr Hab is not actually a real psychiatrist. Rather it’s the persona of Abdirahman Ali Awale, a nurse who after three months of specialist training from the World Health Organization (WHO), has made it his mission to rescue Somalia’s mentally ill. He claims he is able to treat everything from post-natal depression to schizophrenia.
But the alternative to a trip to Hab could be a visit to one of Somalia’s popular herbalists or sheikhs who still advocate traditional - and sometimes barbaric - cures.
“There is a belief in my country that hyenas can see everything including the evil spirits people think cause mental illness,” says Hab. “So in Mogadishu, you will find hyenas that have been brought from the bush and families will pay £350 ($560) to have their loved one locked in the room overnight with the animal.” […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services. He even carries a letter from the minister of health that says so. […]
More detail on homoeopathic dilution
Forer, B “The fallacy of personal validation: a classroom demonstration of gullibility” 1949 Journal of Abnormal Psychology 44 (1): 118—123
Kaptchuk, T et al “Placebos without deception” 2010 PLoS ONE 5(12)*
Skinner, B F “Superstition in the pigeon” 1948 Journal of Experimental Psychology 38 (2): 168-172
*Though the notion of placebos without deception opens up an interesting line of enquiry, the methodology of Kaptchuk’s particular study has attracted some criticism which seems valid and reasonable.
This is one of the smaller and more superstitious Lutheran splinter groups.
A conservative Lutheran group is reprimanding its pastor in Newtown, Connecticut, for participating in an interfaith vigil after the Sandy Hook massacre.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod says the Reverend Rob Morris inadvertently gave the impression that he was involved in joint worship with clergy from other religions. The denomination bars joint worship because it doesn’t want to appear to mix its beliefs with those of other churches.
The December 16th vigil included Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other leaders. President Barack Obama and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy attended.
The church says Morris has apologized for taking part in the event.
Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria, is a notorious witch hunter who targets children with accusations of witchcraft. This filth is coming to the United States this summer to spread her poison to a well already sick with superstition and myth.
Yeah, the faitheists and believers think I’m a bad guy, for the reasons above (and I’m OK with that). My other sin, though, is that I encourage other atheists to join me, I reinforce my kind of rudeness in a large group of people, and I do that community building stuff. I foster my tribe. We grow stronger and louder and bolder, we are all bad guys together.
Of course, the kind of bad guys we are are the ones encouraged by Carl Sagan: the critics of mysticism and foolishness who do not sit silent when a god-botherer says something stupid. We misbehave because it’s about damn time someone did.
“…if we offer too much silent assent about mysticism and superstition ‐ even when it seems to be doing a little good ‐ we abet a general climate in which skepticism is considered impolite, science tiresome, and rigorous thinking somehow stuffy and inappropriate. Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom.”
That’s us. No silence. We fight the idea that skepticism might be impolite by being impolite all the time, making the questioning of dogma commonplace and frequent. After all, why should it be considered so awful for a horde of atheists to point out that Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism are ridiculous? The are ridiculous and are going to get ridiculed.
Here’s something else I think atheists should be:
The Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Mal?
Mal: Aw, hell, I’m a fan of all seven. But right now, I’m gonna have to go with wrath.
I see priests raping children. I see a publicity-seeking nun praising pain and suffering, poverty and sickness. I see politicians pandering for votes by demanding the persecution of gays in the name of Jesus. I see godly men declaring that the role of women is to be silent and subservient…and brood a quiverful of children. I see fanatics strapping explosives to their bodies and killing randomly in the name of their god. I see lobbyists hard at work, trying to dilute science education, and suggesting that we teach the Flintstones as fact in our biology classes. I see a pope in fancy silks and gold-bedecked palace urging people to shun materialism and savor the simple life. I see deluded people opposing work to alleviate climate change because they’re sure God wouldn’t let it happen. I see ordinary people certain that these are the End Times, rejoicing in our imagined imminent apocalypse, and actively working to bring it about.
If you aren’t angry, there’s something wrong with you.
Vehicle licensing officials in troubled Afghanistan have hit a new pothole - a curious aversion for registrations containing the number 39.
The new plates are stacking up at the Kabul traffic police department and car prices and sales have been hit.
For some reason number 39 is held as a mark of great shame by Afghans.
It is thought the taboo started because a pimp had 39 on his number plate. Others say it dates from an old way of calculating numbers called “Abjad”.
Whatever the explanation, the aversion has spread around the country and seems to be growing.
“I am gutted that my car has a 39 number plate. I have had enough of people’s taunts,” said Ahmad Ghafor, a taxi driver in Kabul.
They see ‘em rolling, they hating…
This model tests the robustness of superstitions, and how they might persist in the face of contradictory evidence. The more times you carry a lucky charm the more likely you will be convinced it doesn’t work, surprisingly only if you originally believed it would. If you doubted it in the first place, a large number of trials might present you with enough positive experiences so that you might very well begin to believe.
“Their work is helpful,” said Marc Mangel, an applied mathematics and statistics professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It shows how these adaptive learning mechanisms can be leading us to places we shouldn’t go.”
But Killeen thinks something is left out of their model, elegant as he thinks it is.
“Sometimes simpler answers suffice; for beasts like us who are never quite sure that we are well enough informed, taking that multivitamin and knocking wood puts the semblance of control back in our hands, and that feels good,” Killeen said.