Stuart Vyse at Skeptical Inquirer wrestles with the whole atheists-are-smarter-but-believers-are-happier thing, and concludes that either way you look at it, you have a “mixed blessing”:
… according to the evidence, atheism appears to be a choice to be sadder but wiser, but, in fact, we are not justified in drawing that conclusion. It is important to recognize that all the evidence cited in this column is correlational, which means we cannot identify what causes any of these relationships—only that certain variables travel together. In the case of intelligence and religious belief, it seems more likely that intelligence pulls people away from religion rather than religion or atheism influencing level of intelligence.
Byron Wood, the atheist Canadian nurse who fought his employer’s requirement to take part in a religiously-based 12-step addiction recovery program, has won his case. CBC reports:
Vancouver Coastal Health employees who require addiction treatment will now have a way of “meaningfully registering their objection” to 12-step programs.
They won’t have to attend AA and similar programs “if that approach to treatment conflicts with their religious or non-religious beliefs,” Wood said. …
… Six of AA’s 12 steps directly refer to God or a higher power, including one that requires members turn their will and lives “over to the care of God.”
“The 12 steps are a religious peer support group, not a medical treatment. They shouldn’t be imposed on anyone,” Wood said.
I keep thinking there’s nothing about Trump that can surprise me anymore. And then we get stuff like this (NYT reporting):
President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday. The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion …
… critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism.
Danny Gallagher at the Dallas Observer goes to meet the Flat-Earthers. Good lord I love this piece, which even has a zinger in its title, “Dive into Flat Earth Culture at their Global, Sorry, International Conference”:
They claim to know (not believe, but know) the Earth is a flat object surrounded by a wall of ice. The sun and moon circle above it like the world’s saddest baby mobile, and we’re all just pawns of the government, the Vatican and/or Bill Nye the Science Guy and their twisted game of “keep away” with the truth.
He goes on to tell us that due to a previous article about the Flat-Earth movement, he became sort of a supervillain to them, calling him, and yes this is real, “globecuck,” “globehead” and “globetard.” And yeah, the Flat-Earth types attract the Alex Jones-worshipers, Christian uber-fundamentalists, and these guys:
[Comedian] Owen, who is white, explains during the Q&A portion of his show that he doesn’t call African American people the “N-word” but wanted to use a shocking word to make a point about how the word is absurd and getting upset at it is “treating black people like children.” As the evening progresses, Benjamin reveals he believes “dinosaurs were a Smithsonian lie.” When he discounts the idea that Bigfoot isn’t real, someone from behind me shouts “Dogmen are real!”
And on their awards ceremony for videos:
… they could have added categories like Best Use of an iMovie Transition, Best Jump to Conclusion and Best Conclusion to Jump.
Meanwhile, Israel has its own Flat-Earthers, and The Times of Israel reports that students at Amit Bar Ilan technological high school were subjected to a presentation by Flat-Earther Matan Gorodish. “The school said in response to the report that the lecture was not compulsory and that students argued with the presentation.” I bet they did.
On the real Earth, the Arctic is now belching out carbon from its melting permafrost. The Post reports on a federal study that “paints an ominous picture of a region lurching to an entirely new and unfamiliar environment”:
… the report concludes permafrost ecosystems could be releasing as much as 1.1 billion to 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is almost as much as the annual emissions of Japan and Russia in 2018, respectively. “These observations signify that the feedback to accelerating climate change may already be underway,” the report concludes.
It will not surprise you to know that Whole Foods is a supplier of anti-vaxxer propaganda. Maddie Stone at Business Insider reports:
Insider recently found several magazines that have run articles raising unfounded concerns about the safety or efficacy of vaccines. These messages are not only out of line with the mainstream medical consensus, they are actively dangerous, according to public health experts. … [such as] Well Being Journal, a bi-monthly publication sold at Whole Foods stores in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, among other locations. It has published articles that tout medically unsupported homeopathic therapies as “non-toxic” alternatives to vaccination. Others promote the debunked link between the MMR vaccine and autism. One particularly egregious article in a 2017 issue, adapted from a defunct anti-vaccine website, is literally titled “MMR Vaccine Causes Autism.”
If you look past the colorful organic produce displays and sustainably-sourced seafood counter, however, you’ll start to notice incongruities. There’s nothing particularly healthful, for instance, about the homeopathy aisle – a section of Whole Foods’ Whole Body Department that sells 19th century pseudoscience masquerading as cold and flu remedies – or the shelves filled with supplements and probiotics making claims that often don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny.
Julie Ingersoll looks at what evangelical “purity culture” has done to a generation of young women, writing that “a dark picture has emerged of a movement that has promoted shame and sexual ignorance.”
Religion Dispatches interviews Chrissy Stroop and Lauren O’Neal who have released a collection of essays called Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church:
… we want people who grew up or are growing up in right-wing Christian environments to understand that it’s okay to trust their doubts, to break away and move toward healing, that there are other possibilities out there. They’re not alone.
… there’s still a pretty strong taboo in the American public sphere against criticizing any large Christian group that we hope this book will help smash. The press tends to coddle conservative, mostly white evangelicals, and to some extent radical traditionalist Catholics and Mormons, much to the detriment of our democracy. The Christian Right is, after all, Trump’s base, and as a bloc they represent the single greatest threat to democracy and human rights in the United States.
A taxi driver in the UK likes to give psychic readings to passengers. Then he had to go and tell a teenage girl about her getting dressed in the morning, and yeah, that wasn’t cool. Gazette Live reports:
“I picked a customer up and I must have been telling them stuff, I have scared the life out of them, they have gone into the college crying, the teacher has said I must have been stalking her.
“The teacher has said ‘oh my god he must have been in your bedroom’.”
Way to go, genius. Oh, and, “he openly admits he’s been in prison ‘four or five times’.” I think I’d be able to nail that number down more specifically, especially if I were psychic.
Speaking of stalkers, have you accepted Disembodied Head Lifeguard Jesus as your lord and savior?
Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.