A Single Menacing Blur

June 12, 2012


Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

CFI chief Ron Lindsay blogs about balls. Okay, get it out of your system. Now. Once you’re done tittering about it, read the thing, because there’s an important message:

Language is powerful. Language not only expresses our thoughts, it shapes them. “Balls” is in common use, and that’s precisely part of the problem. It’s embedded so much in our language that we don’t notice it, but that simply means our sexism is burrowed in deep. 

Big thinkers do some mulling over the disturbing realization that 46% of Americans reject evolution in favor of creationism:

Andrew Sullivan thinks it’s more about culture than science literacy, but that it bodes very ill for democracy:

I’m not sure how many of the 46 percent actually believe the story of 10,000 years ago. Surely some of them know it’s less empirically supported than Bigfoot. My fear is that some of that 46 percent are giving that answer not as an empirical response, but as a cultural signifier. That means that some are more prepared to cling to untruth than concede a thing to libruls or atheists or blue America, or whatever the “other” is at any given point in time. I simply do not know how you construct a civil discourse indispensable to a functioning democracy with this vast a gulf between citizens in their basic understanding of the world. 

Kevin Drum, I think mind-bogglingly-wrongly, downplays the numbers:

. . . belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. 

Robert Wright hypothesizes (he’s careful to say that he is not “theorizing” but “hypothesizing”) that part of the blame lays with the New Atheists’ violation of an unwritten “nonaggression pact“:

My fear is that . . . fundamentalist Christians, upon being maligned by know-it-all Darwinians, are starting to see secular scientists more broadly as the enemy; Darwinians, climate scientists, and stem cell researchers start to seem like a single, menacing blur.

I’m not saying that the new, militant Darwinian atheists are the only cause of what is called (with perhaps some hyperbole) “science denialism.” But I do think that if somebody wants to convince a fundamentalist Christian that climate scientists aren’t to be trusted, the Christian’s prior association of scientists like Dawkins with evil makes that job easier. 

Sikivu Hutchinson responds forcefully to those belittling her exposing of the white privilege she sees in the secularism movement:

Humanism won’t mean a damn thing in their world [black young people] without the right to self-determination. It has no weight or relevance without a social and gender justice movement that demands equitable access to education, living wage jobs, housing, reproductive health and universal health care as a moral human right.   

WSJ looks at freethinker groups in India 

The latest Point of Inquiry podcast is up, with HuffPo’s Cara Santa Maria, she of the “Talk Nerdy to Me” video series 

Dren Asselmeier realizes that the Vandals may actually think people will spend eternity in a terrible, hot place that isn’t Florida  

Bouncing off the recent Dan Dennett video on how “you might be an atheist,” CFI’s John Shook asks us to welcome these unsuspecting nonbelievers with enthusiasm 

In a guest post for Friendly Atheist, Alise Wright asks atheists to give Christians a little slack as their views evolve on “sin” and equality

Appignani Humanist Legal Center challenges North Carolina using churches as polling places; from the AP piece:

A church signboard reading “A true marriage is male and female and God” greeted precinct W28 voters who walked up to the voting both to cast ballots on a state constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage. 

Part 2 is up of the “Face-Off in Florida” Center Stage podcast with Ron Lindsay, Tom Flynn, Steven K. Green, EllenBeth Wachs, and David Silverman 

Sweet Jesus. Rick Warren has a biblical weight loss plan 

Columbus, OH mayor will go ahead with interfaith National Day of Prayer-themed event despite FFRF challenge 

Tunisia, you just can’t win:

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party has “violated” the Quran by accepting a constitution that is not based solely on Islamic law, Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has said in a new message. 

With the Romney ascent to the top of the GOP ticket, Evangelicals say on Mormonism, “Fine, it’s a real religion.” 

NYT on the rift within the LDS church on gay marr

Champion of brain-dead bitherism, Orly Taitz, will not be Dianne Feinstein’s opponent for the US Senate this year, which kind of breaks my heart.  

Vic Stenger posts an interview from an upcoming book in HuffPo: “The universe is not fine-tuned for us–we are fine-tuned to the universe.” 

Happy Science on those reliable, fact-based, peer-reviewed journals:

Women’s fashion and lifestyle magazines have a bad habit of spouting pseudoscientific guff to their readers in in order to raise revenue through product placement, and advertising. 

Walking in “Bigfoot’s” snowtracks in Alaska 

There’re a lot of Bigfoot believers out there:

According to a 2011 Northwest poll by PEMCO Insurance, 40 percent of Washington [state] residents believe Sasquatch could be a reality. In that same poll, 13 percent say they’ve either seen one or know someone who has. If that number seems high — 13 percent of nearly 7 million? seriously? — consider this: The number of reported Sasquatch sightings or other “close encounters” over the years is upwards of 40,000. 

This Examiner headline, “North Carolina stake out uncovers alien-like orange cylinder spacecraft,” begs the question: How do you know what is and is not “alien-like”? 

Quote of the Day      

Phil Plaitt, in Slate, wants to spread the message of the joy of science to kids:

I love science. Love love love it. I love the universe and all the things in it, from the tiniest subatomic particles to the grandiose galactic superclusters. It all makes me slack-jawed in wonder, and I will happily and joyously share that feeling with anyone at any time, without feeling any nerd-shame. 

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. 

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