left biblioblography: August 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Because Some Madness Transcends Barriers…

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!


On the heels of horror, the poisonous concept of the afterlife taints the healing:

The children of Beslan five years on

Russian teenager Chermen has his own assessment of why he survived the attack on School Number One in Beslan in which 326 people, 186 of them children, died.

"God wanted to save everyone but He saved only those who had the highest purpose in life. So I know that when I grow up I will become someone great," he said.

On the morning of 1 September 2004 Chermen was just eight years old and running late for the Day of Knowledge, as the traditional start of the school year is known in Russia.

Chermen made it to the commencement celebrations in time, but in doing so was in the school when a group of Chechen gunmen attacked, taking more than 1,000 people hostage.

The militants herded the hostages into the school gym, and there they held them for three days.

Inside the sweltering gym the terrorists refused to give hostages food or water, forcing them to take drastic measures.

"I drank pee. It was tasteless. I also found a piece of pear skin on a floor. It was really good," Chermen told me when we first met. "But mostly I slept."

At one point he was woken by the sound of an explosion inside the gym. Chermen saw how one of the militants had blown himself up with a grenade attached to his body:

"A terrorist grenade was hit by a bullet. He blew up and his brains hit me in the face. It was horrible. It was fatty and slippery," he said.

The explosion triggered a fierce gun battle between the hostage takers and the Russian Special Forces, who stormed the school in a desperate rescue bid.


"I can't forget how the terrorists were killing children, mothers and fathers right in front of us," she said. "They caused us so much pain. I am so angry with them I could kill them. They took the most precious things in my life, my brother and my father."

Laima, another survivor who is also now 14, has made a ritual of her visits to the grave of her best friend who was killed.

"I go to visit Zayka at the cemetery. I sit by her grave and talk to her. I ask her 'how is life over there? How are you doing?' I believe she is still near me. For me she isn't dead."

But others, like Christina, are still troubled by thoughts of those who died.

"I am scared of my dead friends. They come to me in my dreams. They have changed. They are dressed in black. They are angry and say 'Why us? We wanted to live too!'"

Is the belief in ghosts an aliment to the scars of survivor guilt? No, it is not. And just who was responsible for this act of terrorism? Surprise! A religious extremist by name of Basayev:

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the Russian school hostage siege in which at least 320 people were killed. He blamed the Russian authorities for the deaths in Beslan. He further claimed recent bomb attacks on two Russian airliners and a Moscow metro station.  

And sure enough, who does he thank for this bullshit? Yep, you guessed it:

In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate... Who is responsible for the attacks on Rusnya [derogatory word for Russia]? By the Grace of Allah, the Shakhid [martyr] battalion, Riyad us-Saliheen [Gardens of the Righteous] has carried out several successful operations on the territory of Rusnya.

And like any good apologist – the blood is on someone else’s hands, not his own, or his contemptible genie:

What happened in Beslan is a terrible tragedy: the bloodsucker from the Kremlin killed or wounded 1,000 children and adults by ordering the storming of the school to satisfy his imperial ambitions and to keep his job. In the most impudent manner Putin is now trying to blame us for that, accusing us also of international terrorism and appealing to the world for help.

And of course, his demands were reasonable (that is, for a blood-soaked, froth-flecked zealot):

There are facts to prove that:

The mujaheddin made clear-cut and precise demands:

- We demand that the war in Chechnya be stopped immediately and that the withdrawal of forces be carried out;

- We insist that Putin immediately resigns from his post as president of the Russian Federation;

- We insist that all hostages, be it children or adults, go on hunger strike in support of our demands;

Also, the mojahedin set the following conditions:

- We will give water to everyone provided Putin immediately stops the war, sends all his troops to the barracks and begins the withdrawal of his troops;

- We will give food to everyone provided Putin begins the withdrawal of his troops in reality;

- We will release children under 10 as soon as they start withdrawing the troops from mountainous areas;

- We will set others free after they complete the withdrawal of the troops;

- If Putin submits a letter of resignation, we will release all the children and go back to Chechnya with others...

It is blaringly obvious to these crazed monsters (if they had the slightest bit of a brain cell between any of them) that none of these demands would be met.

And all of it palls in contrast to the ridiculous concept that some sort of justice will be meted out by a higher power, that all debts incurred in this life will be settled in the life after, that life unprovable, unsupported by any evidence outside of fuzzy feelings.

It is to weep.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is There A Gullibility Gene That Gets Activated By Religion?

Recently I got on Facebook. And of course, one of the ‘friends’ I seem to have is religious, and she’s posting her Christian nonsense under ‘causes’. So I answered this poll, and said that “There is no god, JC never existed, and the bible is a load of crap.” The results were predictable. I was threatened with gawd’s wrath, damnation, asked if I’d read the bible, accused of being a psychopath (and everything else up to being a pedophile), and told that if America is 90% Christian, I should pack my shit up and move to Iran or Iraq. Oh, and some guy offered the crazy lady (same one who told me I should pack up and leave, who also accused me of being a perv) my home address.

Religion. Ain’t it wonderful? How it brings out the best in people.

The video above showed up. I threw this in the ring (so to speak, I provided the link to it, not a full quote):

Summary of Rumor
A notorious atheist professor at the University of Southern California is known for challenging students about their faith.  He dramatically drops a piece of chalk to the floor saying that if God existed, he could prevent the chalk from breaking.  This happens year after year until a particular Christian student becomes a part of the class.  This time, when the professor drops the chalk, it bounces off his clothing and ends up harmlessly on the floor.  The stunned professor runs from the room in shame and the student preaches the Gospel to the remaining class members.

The Truth
This has been one of the most commonly circulated inspirational stories on the Internet and one of the most commonly asked-about at TruthOrFiction.com.
We've never found any evidence that an incident of this nature has taken place involving a piece of chalk, but there is a first-hand source of a similar, older story, which the chalk tale may be based upon.
First, the University of Southern California has officially denied that this ever happened there.  Dr. Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor at USC, has told TruthOrFiction.com that he's never heard of it happening in his more than 30 years at the school.
There is a related story, however, told by author Richard H. Harvey in his book 70 YEARS OF MIRACLES.  It's a first-hand account of his experience in a Chemistry class at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in the 1920's.  Harvey says the professor, a Dr. Lee, was a deist who annually lectured against prayer.   In one of the class sessions, Dr. Lee said he was going to drop a glass flask on the floor and asked if anyone would like to pray first that the flask would not break, therefore demonstrating the reality of prayer.  Richard Harvey volunteered and prayed.  The professor dropped the flask and it rolled off his shoe to the floor without damage.  The class cheered and the professor stopped his annual lectures against prayer.  TruthOrFiction.com has confirmed with Allegheny college that Richard Harvey was a student there and that Dr. Lee was a professor.  Richard Harvey's son, Rev. John Harvey, a minister in Toccoa, Georgia, says this all happened before he was born, but confirms that the story was told by his father.

USC confirms it.

I’m thinking there has to be a gullibility gene. Maybe it helps the species propagate. How many women have gotten pregnant by believing some crazy story a guy told, anyway?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Mystical Magical Martial Arts Horseshit – Monkey See, Monkey Do…

When people do this sort of nonsense to my art, I get very, VERY aggravated. The embedded video demonstrates a number of cultic parameters:

1. All the students have some sort of dress code (at least in the video),
2. The students are obviously throwing themselves around to impress the ‘master’(willing to bet whoever flails around the most gets complimented on his ‘sensitivity’ by the ‘master’).
3. Claims of trophies and medals without an exhaustive list of both students and specific tournaments
4. No demonstrations of ‘chi power’ on outsiders

Now, I’ve watched some of the videos on lama Dondrup Dorje’s website, and while he looks to be a high level martial arts expert, this utter nonsense where the students throws themselves all over the place when the sifu touches any of them is just crap. If you watch closely (and you develop an eye for body language when you practice martial arts of any variety), you can actually see these folks tensing up to toss themselves about. I’ve seen this sort of nonsense before:


The martial arts is rife with this mystical, bordering on religious, nonsense – stories abound with flying Taoists, strange mental powers, chi from a distance. And of course, gullibility helps a lot. Usually when you challenge one of these guys, it goes a little something like this:


And like psychics, miracle workers, faith healers, and all those other frauds, there’s always some excuse when it fails when used on a non-believer. The reality? Doesn’t work.

Martial arts, like religion, does not a better person make. Obviously these folks are trying to solicit some business with EXTREMELY dubious and unethical marketing practices. Obviously derived from some Dragon Ball Z idiocy.

It chaps my hide, it does.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Allegories Gone Wild - Of Wheat Fields, Wallabies, And Wackaloons From Lake Woebegone


There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They've ploughed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead – John Barleycorn Must Die

Among UFOlogists, crop circles are considered to be actual evidence of alien visitation.

Mysterious phenomena reported from Great Britain beginning in 1980. Large, wide circles, sometimes more than 100 feet in diameter, have appeared overnight in fields of grain. The grain in the circle is not dead, but the plant stems are flattened and sometimes darker in color than the surrounding grain. The first report of the circles appeared in the Wiltshire Times on August 15, 1980. It told of several circles that had appeared in the oat fields of John Scull farm near the town of Bratton. A year later a set of circles was discovered in Hampshire, near Cheesefoot Head. Unlike the earlier set, which had been randomly placed, this second set of three circles was in a straight line.

So…the pattern became more intricate.

Most of the circles have been reported from the southern counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire, the same area already noted for its monolithic structures such as Stonehenge and Avebury. There are some occasional reports of similar phenomena in France, Canada, Australia, and the U.S. Between 1980 and 1987 approximately 120 circles appeared in the original area west of London. Then a dramatic increase occurred in 1988 with 112 reported. Over 300 were reported in 1989 and in 1990 over 1,000.

More patterns emerge. It seems that the media attention fanned the fires, so to speak.

Over the years, the original circles gave way to ever more complex patterns, called "pictograms," which included circles arranged in geometric patterns, rectangles, crescents, and dumbbell shapes. In the case of concentric rings, the grain is sometimes flattened uniformly, at other times in contrary directions.

Explanations of the phenomenon include giant hailstones, crazed hedgehogs, too much or too little fertilization, and UFOs. There was even a suggestion that the circles may have been formed by helicopters flying upside down, but the absence of widespread helicopter wrecks disproved any dangerous practice of this kind. It is well known that small rings in grass meadows and lawns are known to be caused by mushrooms, but there is no evidence that the giant crop circles result from any known fungi. One theory that is distinct from speculations of paranormal effects is that of physicist George T. Meaden. He proposes a theory of atmospheric vortices that are electrically charged.

And here’s a real kicker for ya:

In 1991 Doug Bower and David Chorley claimed to have personally produced more than 250 of the circles. With the assistance of the British tabloid Today, they created a circle and invited Pat Delgado, the author of a popular text on the phenomenon, to inspect it. Once he pronounced the new circle genuine, the hoax was revealed. Other hoaxers had also produced circles that were judged genuine. However, those who believe in the mystery of the circles have suggested that hoaxing would only account for a few of the more than 2,000 circles. No one has been caught making a crop circle and none appear to have been left half finished. Additionally, it seems difficult to create some of the more complex pictograms in the dark. To date, monitoring of the area has failed to catch the formation of a circle on film or instrumentation.

I just have to shake my head at those last three sentences. Firstly, none of these blokes are taking an advert out in the local column, are they? Second, why would any of them be half-finished? Thirdly, I can give this about 5 minutes of thought and answer the ‘more complex pictograms’ query.

You build a model, like someone designing a city. Wouldn’t need to be that complex, it’s a matter of scale. Once you figure out the pattern you want, you can use thread, spools, and rulers (and any other small measuring devices) to plot it out. In programming, it’s called pseudo-code – you put a skeleton together and flesh it out. Besides which, it’s easy to see that the fellows doing it (obviously it’s not just Bower and Chorley) have gotten better as more circles were drafted onto fields.

This is a basic skeptics model: you test to see if a human being can replicate the event. If this is so, you then assume a human did it. Because 10 out of 10 times, that’s exactly what happened. In this case, it’s more like 99.99%, because on a humorous note, there IS one other species who has been at the root of this phenomenon (huge hint here: it wasn’t ET, baby):

"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Giddings told those assembled. "Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

For a less humorous (and more bizarre extrapolation), check this site out. Just a taste, mind you:

According to the theory of Fosar and Bludorf these crop circles appear precisely as a result of hypercommunication through magnetized wormholes in the DNA, and this would explain the magnetized anomalies aspect of this phenomenon.

And I’m pretty sure that one’s not a Poe.

This the Apostate, shaking his head, signing off


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Allegories Gone Wild: Palin And The Third Wavers – Warning! Don’t ‘Transform’! Muthee’s A Crazy Mother…

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

I stumbled across this shudder-inducing tidbit, and it is recent enough to be of serious concern:

Spiritual Mapping and Spiritual Warfare - Muthee and the "Transformations" Franchise / 1

A video starring Thomas Muthee as a prayer warrior and witch hunter was released in 1999. "Transformations" was the first in a series of videos that would soon become the heart of the Transformations franchise, a network of prayer warriors, ministries, organizations, and businesses, brought together for the purpose of promoting Christian theocracies. They share the goal of bringing their own communities and nations into the "Kingdom." These videos would play a major role in the teaching and promotion of spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare. Following is the story of those videos and how the Transformations brand has propelled the development of an emerging international belief system, the New Apostolic Reformation, and how it is bringing that movement into your community and your government.


The Transformations videos are advertised as having been viewed by 200 million people in 70 languages. A star of the videos is none other than Thomas Muthee - the same man whose anointing of Sarah Palin has become an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. But the videos are important for far more reasons than Palin and Muthee. Muthee's words, just prior to anointing Palin, on invading and infiltrating society and government are not aberrations. They reveal the disturbing ideology of a growing and powerful religio-political movement in the U.S. and around the world.

An international explosion in "taking communities" through spiritual warfare and expulsion of demons, from individuals and from entire geographic areas, has impacted denominations around the globe. The popularizing of these methods is sourced in the massive effort to evangelize the world in the decades prior to the year 2000. Much of the dissemination of these ideas was through parachurch organizations (religious organizations not associated with a particular denomination), that emerged from Pentecostalism and developed networks around the globe. In the 1990s, a missions and church growth expert named C. Peter Wagner found a way to coalesce these activities into an organized structure now called the New Apostolic Reformation. His colleague, George Otis, Jr. simultaneously developed the Sentinel Group which has produced the series of Transformation videos and resulting Transformations organizations promoting these spiritual warfare ideas. The videos have been a major factor in the global promotion of "prayer warrior" networks specifically linked to these efforts.

Are you getting pissed? Not to mention a little nervous? I know I am.

The franchise has been so successful that the "Transformations brand" has a distinct meaning to many worldwide. The videos, which have been used as the central teaching tool of the movement for nearly a decade, reveal not just another grandiose program of global evangelizing -- but an explicitly theocratic political movement of consequence in a number of countries - including the United States. There are Transformation-related groups in almost every state and every major city.

I say you’ll pry my freedoms from my cold dead fingers first.

The New Apostolic Reformation and the associated Transformations "franchises" aim to unify the church around the globe and take control of the world for the "Kingdom of God." This movement has evolved into its own distinct structure with networks of Apostles and Prophets around the globe who believe that that Christendom should be restructured under their authority to accomplish the task of bringing together a unified end time church that will help to usher in the Kingdom of God.

Insane is the word that springs to mind. And the video highlights just how gratuitously horrible the end result will be.

These believers are not waiting for the Rapture but believe they must combat evil themselves through aggressively taking control of society and government. The Transformations videos have been used as a major promotional tool for the advancement of the methods for taking control - spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare. The videos demonstrate the taking control of communities and nations through large networks of "prayer warriors." whose spiritual warfare is used to expel and destroy the demons that cause societal ills. Once the territorial demons, witches, and generational curses are removed, the "born again" Christians in the videos take control of society. The videos then claim that these communities experience an "alignment with God" which allows for miraculous curing of poverty, disease, environmental degradations, and other societal ills.

Demons and Witches and Curses? Oh my! Seriously, we’re going to have to take some sort of action on this – because we’re  talking the Inquisition times ten.

And of course, the spin:

The video series glorifies the movement towards theocratic governance, real or imagined, in Uganda, Fiji, Colombia, and Guatemala, as well as the U.S. They are used as a tool for building "Transformations" brand organizations that in turn glorify the concept of authoritarian religious social engineering. The "stars" of these videos have already played a role in promoting witch hunts in Africa, endorsing death squads in Guatemala, the de-Catholicizing of Brazil, and the mythology of miraculous curing of AIDS in Uganda. The Transformations promote a complete merger of church and state and offer a glimpse of the "Kingdom" to come, when the world is purged of all other religion, and "Spirit-filled, born again" Christians take control of the leadership of all societal and government institutions.

Oh yes, and we know that these things tend to end badly.

In case this sounds esoteric and far away, it is important to underscore that this movement is influential and powerful enough to have encompassed not only the Governor of Alaska, but also Ted Haggard, the now disgraced but once nationally renowned head of the National Association of Evangelicals. These leaders are not the exceptions, but the rule, as the movement comprises hundreds of organizations and thousands of churches across the country. Their activities fly under the radar of popular media by operating through hundreds of stealth evangelizing programs, with the goal of fulfilling this dream. However, the movement is currently receiving more scrutiny due to the revelation of the anointing ceremony of Sarah Palin by Thomas Muthee and other ties between Palin and the New Apostolic Reformation.

There is no better term for this than terrorism. Monotheistic religions rely heavily on argumentum ad baculum, and there is no need to read between the lines of the rhetoric here: it is clear that these people have no other agenda than to force their religion upon any of us who don’t believe. And as there is no spelled out dispensation of punishment for those who resist, we can only assume the worst. Exile is the pleasantest we can expect at the hands of these zealots, and the mind shudders at the worst imaginations. Visions of strappado are dancing through my head right now, because this is no less than belief at gunpoint, and beatific love at the end of a branding iron.

And while I hope against hope that this post is misdirected, that this will never come to pass, that reason will have sway over the savage heartbeats of our fellow men, I would also suggest that it may be prudent to keep some firearms on hand, and get some combat training under our respective belts.

Again, it may come to nothing, but the adage of the ounce versus the pound springs to mind.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frida – A Movie Review On A Movie About An Atheist

I just got done watch Frida – and wow, this is one great film.

After being attached to a number of actors, directors, and producers, this long-gestating biography of one of Mexico's most prominent, iconoclastic painters reaches the screen under the guiding hand of producer/star Salma Hayek. Hayek ages some 30 years onscreen as she charts Frida Kahlo's life from feisty schoolgirl to Diego Rivera protégée to world-renowned artist in her own right. Frida details Kahlo's affluent upbringing in Mexico City, and her nurturing relationship with her traditional mother (Patricia Reyes Spindola) and philosophical father (Roger Rees). Having already suffered the crippling effects of polio, Kahlo sustains further injuries when a city bus accident nearly ends her life. But in her bed-ridden state, the young artist produces dozens upon dozens of pieces; when she recovers, she presents them to the legendary -- and legendarily temperamental -- Rivera (Alfred Molina), who takes her under his wing as an artist, a political revolutionary, and, inevitably, a lover. But their relationship is fraught with trouble, as the philandering Rivera traverses the globe painting murals, and Kahlo languishes in obscurity, longing to make her mark on her own. Frida was directed by Julie Taymor, whose Broadway production of The Lion King won her international acclaim. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

And not only does Salma Hayek manage to make the uni-brow sexy (Salma being one of the women closest to being a goddess in my book), she also does a fantastic job in this film. Some critics say that Alfred Molina nearly steals the film, but I disagree. That Frida is crippled at the age of 15, and is in chronic pain is well conveyed by the actress, the seemingly indefatigable lust for life of the artist is well portrayed, and I say Salma should’ve gotten the Oscar for this.

Moments I particularly enjoyed:

Prior to Frida’s marriage to Rivera, her father (a German born Jew) and her mother (a Mexican Catholic) are discussing the impending nuptials. Her mother says (of Rivera), “How can you approve of this wedding? It’s like an elephant marrying a dove. He’s a communist and, “ spitting the word out “an atheist!”

At one juncture, Leo Trotsky (played by James Woods) is staying at the Rivera’s villa, accompanied by armed guards. The guards on the wall start shouting, “Back away! Get away from the bag!” Hub-bub ensues. Frida calmly waltzes to the gate, effortlessly lifts a revolver out of a guard’s holster, and goes out. Two old women are kneeling at the porch. “I’ll give you to the count of five to get out of here! One, two” BAM! off goes the gun, and the two women run off shrieking. She goes back in. “I’m sorry, it was my two aunts. They’re convinced you’re the Antichrist.” (Meaning Trotsky.)

Interspersed throughout the movie are wonderful illustrations of Kahlo’s work. Well written, well plotted, and chock full of talent (I kept recognizing people right and left: I rarely read the reviews or the cast list, because I like to be surprised), I highly recommend this movie.

(Note that it states here that Frida was an atheist, but in small print)

Two fists way up.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Profiles In Atheism – The Mexican Necromancer

"No hay Dios; los seres de la naturaleza se sostienen por sí mismos" (There is no God: Natural Beings Support Themselves") - El Nigromante

Ignacio Ramírez Calzada (23 June 1818 - 15 June 1879) was a Mexican writer, poet, journalist, lawyer, atheist, and political libertarian from San Miguel de Allende who used the pen name, El Nigromante (The Necromancer). He defended the rights of Indians. He was known as, “The Voltaire of Mexico” and worked with Guillermo Prieto to start the satirical periodical, Don Simplicio. In 1844, he wrote, "No hay Dios; los seres de la naturaleza se sostienen por sí mismos" (There is no God: Natural Beings Support Themselves").

According to the web site of the Mexican government, “He was persecuted and imprisoned for his ideas, but managed to promote various changes to the law, such as that guaranteeing the autonomy of the municipality. He was named Minister for Instruction and Promotion, instituting important educational and economic reforms. During the reign of the Emperor Maximilian, he was banished to California, but on his return to the Republic, he was elected to the Supreme Court of Justice as a magistrate. He died on June 15, 1879, in Mexico City.

Ramírez founded the Instituto Literario de Toluca, where he mentored the famous novelist Ignacio Manuel Altamirano. The Mexican Government named a town in the Northern State of Durango after Ignacio Ramírez, which is the birth place of Oscar De La Hoya the famous Mexican Boxer.

His atheism was the subject of a scandal in 1948 when the muralist Diego Rivera painted a mural at the Del Prado Hotel with Ramírez holding a sign reading, "Dios no existe"  ("God does not exist"). Rivera would not remove the inscription, so the mural was not shown for 9 years – after Rivera agreed to remove the offending words. He stated: "To affirm "God does not exist", I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis. I am not an enemy of the Catholics, as I am not an enemy of the tuberculars, the myopic or the paralytics; you cannot be an enemy of the sick, only their good friend in order to help them cure themselves."


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dune And Children Of Dune – Definitely Two For The Collection

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.

So I got these two films from Amazon – and wow! Talk about first-rate.

Bear in mind, that I’m not talking about David Lynch’s utter travesty from 1984. That one sucks like an Electro-Lux (note: don’t care if Herbert was involved in the production or not, so don’t bother).

I’m talking about this one. For one thing, I’m a bit of a bear about sticking to original story lines – the adage about ‘not broken, don’t fix’ may be a trifle cliché, but it stands the tests of time. And oh wow, these films are faithful to the original three novels, and still worth multiple watches.

I say three, because Children of Dune as well as the first Dune film also incorporate Dune Messiah, which was the bridge between books 1 and 3.

Obviously there is a lot of parallels between the Middle East and the planet Dune: the spice is clearly a variable subtext for oil (no spice, and the universe becomes crippled), the Fremen are obviously Arabs, but the analogies break down a bit, because I don’t see a lot of resemblance between Paul/Muad’Dib and Muhammad. There’s a few vocabulary parallels (jihad, maybe one or two others), and of course, it’s a desert planet. I suppose the Bene Gesserit could be an analogue for the Catholic Church, but again, the resemblances are barely superficial.

Anyways, I'll be watching this again sometime soon.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

And The Word (Or Insult) For The Day Is…Pseudoskeptic!

Cross posted @ God is 4 Suckers!pseudoskeptic

“A neurotic is a man who builds a castle in the air. A psychotic is the man who lives in it. A psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent.” – Jerome Laurence

I have always been interested in psychology – and the human mind, regardless of ideology or epistemology, not only loves to be tricked, it will also insist that the illusion played upon it is reality incarnate,  and will fight tooth and nail to defend it. To be fair, I’ve encountered this with close to every group on the internet, and alas, atheists are not exempt.

Over the past few years, outspoken and vocal atheists have been going about deflating warm and fuzzy feelings, crashing castles in the sky, and in general blowing delusional fantasies to itsy bitsy teeny weeny tiny bits. So it stands to reason, that we’ve made more than a few enemies.

So when I chanced across this little temper tantrum, well, it was amusing enough to share and fisk:

Ever get into an argument with a skeptic only to end up
exasperated and feeling you've been bamboozled?  Skeptics are
often highly skilled at tying up opponents in clever verbal
knots.  Most skeptics are, of course, ordinary, more-or-less
honest people who, like the rest of us, are just trying to make
the best sense they can of a complicated and often confusing
world.  Others, however, are merely glib sophists who use
specious reasoning to defend their prejudices or attack the ideas
and beliefs of others, and even an honest skeptic can innocently
fall into the mistake of employing bad reasoning.

This distinctly sounds like somebody got spanked very badly, at least to me.

In reading, listening to and sometimes debating skeptics over the
years, I've found certain tricks, ploys and gimmicks which they
tend to use over and over again.  Here are some of 'em.  Perhaps
if you keep them in mind when arguing with a skeptic, you'll feel
better when the debate is over.  Shucks, you might even score a
point or two.

Take notes, people.

consists of demanding a new, higher and more difficult standard
of evidence whenever it looks as if a skeptic's opponent is going
to satisfy an old one. Often the skeptic doesn't make it clear
exactly what the standards are in the first place.  This can be
especially effective if the skeptic can keep his opponent from
noticing that he is continually changing his standard of
evidence.  That way, his opponent will eventually give up in
exasperation or disgust. Perhaps best of all, if his opponent
complains, the skeptic can tag him as a whiner or a sore loser.

Skeptic:  I am willing to consider the psi hypothesis if you will
only show me some sound evidence.

Opponent:  There are many thousands of documented reports of
incidents that seem to involve psi.

S:  That is only anecdotal evidence.  You must give me laboratory

Right here, we now have an insight into the plaintiff’s core complaint: this person believes strongly in psi/paranormal/parapsychology.

0: Researchers A-Z have conducted experiments that produced
results which favor the psi hypothesis.

S:  Those experiments are not acceptable because of flaws X,Y and

0: Researchers B-H and T-W have conducted experiments producing
positive results which did not have flaws X,Y and Z.

S:  The positive results are not far enough above chance levels
to be truly interesting.

0: Researchers C-F and U-V produced results well above chance

S:  Their results were achieved through meta-analysis, which is a
highly questionable technique.

O:  Meta-analysis is a well-accepted method commonly used in
psychology and sociology.

S:  Psychology and sociology are social sciences, and their
methods can't be considered as reliable as those of hard sciences
such as physics and chemistry.

Etc., etc. ad nauseum.

So many problems to address on this. First, there’s three different definitions in sociology for meta-analysis. Secondly, which one of three formats does one use? Thirdly, who does the meta-analysis? I am far more likely to go for a series of  independent studies than say, control groups for Tarot card accuracy by the Divination By Cards society. Also, one human being alone contains so many hard-to-adjust-for idiosyncratic variables that it renders this approach…well, variable.

2.) SOCK 'EM WITH OCCAM:  Skeptics frequently invoke Occam's
Razor as if the Razor automatically validates their position.
Occam's Razor, a principle of epistemology (knowledge theory),
states that the simplest explanation which fits all the facts is
to be preferred -- or, to state it another way, entities are not
to be multiplied needlessly.  The Razor is a useful and even
necessary principle, but it is largely useless if the facts
themselves are not generally agreed upon in the first place.

Well, I invoke Occam when I encounter someone who’s ‘theory’ is all over the place. For instance, a Wiccan-Buddhist-Liberation theologist who blames UFO sightings for global warming (just an example: I doubt such a creature exists). But when someone claims they can read my mind, or pass a Rhine test with flying colors, well, it’s smock-and-lab time, baby.

And of course, something about being tested seems to make all these magical powers magically disappear.

3.) EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS:  Extraordinary claims, says the
skeptic, require extraordinary evidence.  Superficially this
seems reasonable enough.  However, extraordinariness, like
beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder.  Some claims, of
course, would seem extraordinary to almost anyone (e.g. the claim
that aliens from Alpha Centauri had contacted you telepathically
and informed you that the people of Earth must make you their
absolute lord and ruler).  The "extraordinariness" of many other
claims, however, is at best arguable, and it is not at all
obvious that unusually strong evidence is necessary to support
them.  For example, so many people who would ordinarily be
considered reliable witnesses have reported precognitive dreams
that it becomes difficult to insist these are "unusual" claims
requiring "unusual" evidence.  Quite ordinary standards of
evidence will do.

Oh yeah – like who? Edgar Cayce? Allison Dubois? Uri Geller? The list of frauds is long and odious, and in fact, there are so many of them, Houdini made a career out of debunking them.

4.) STUPID, CRAZY LIARS:  This trick consists of simple slander.
Anyone who reports anything which displeases the skeptic will be
accused of incompetence, mental illness or dishonesty, or some
combination of the three without a single shred of fact to
support the accusations.  When Charles Honorton's Ganzfeld
experiments produced impressive results in favor of the psi
hypothesis, skeptics accused him of suppressing or not publishing
the results of failed experiments.  No definite facts supporting
the charge ever emerged.  Moreover, the experiments were
extremely time consuming, and the number of failed, unpublished
experiments necessary to make the number of successful, published
experiments significant would have been quite high, so it is
extremely unlikely that Honorton's results could be due to
selective reporting.  Yet skeptics still sometimes repeat this

Here’s a little bit on the Ganzfield experiments:

Isolation — Richard Wiseman and others argue that not all of the studies used soundproof rooms, so it is possible that when videos were playing, the experimenter (or even the receiver) could have heard it, and later given involuntary cues to the receiver during the selection process. However, Dean Radin argues that ganzfeld studies which did use soundproof rooms had a number of "hits" similar to those which did not.

Randomization — When subjects are asked to choose from a variety of selections, there is an inherent bias to choose the first selection they are shown. If the order in which they are shown the selections is randomized each time, this bias will be averaged out. The randomization procedures used in the experiment have been criticized for not randomizing satisfactorily.

The psi assumption — The assumption that any statistical deviation from chance is evidence for telepathy is highly controversial, and often compared to the God of the gaps argument. Strictly speaking, a deviation from chance is only evidence that either this was a rare, statistically unlikely occurrence that happened by chance, or something was causing a deviation from chance. Flaws in the experimental design are a common cause of this, and so the assumption that it must be telepathy is fallacious. This does not rule out, however, that it could be telepathy.

Shorter version: telepathy’s out unless it can be shown to score higher than the occasional statistical hit.

5.) THE SANTA CLAUS GAMBIT:  This trick consists of lumping
moderate claims or propositions together with extreme ones.  If
you suggest, for example, that Sasquatch can't be completely
ruled out from the available evidence,the skeptic will then
facetiously suggest that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can't
be "completely" ruled out either.

That’s only an example (however, if it isn’t, then this cat’s got a baroque meritocracy the size of the great wide open spaces). The phrasing of course, is it ‘can’t be completely ruled out’, suggesting that the question is invoking an absolute that can’t be established.

6.) SHIFTING THE BURDEN OF EVIDENCE:  The skeptic insists that he
doesn't have to provide evidence and arguments to support his
side of the argument because he isn't asserting a claim, he is
merely denying or doubting yours.  His mistake consists of
assuming that a negative claim (asserting that something doesn't
exist) is fundamentally different from a positive claim.  It
isn't.  Any definite claim, positive or negative, requires
definite support.  Merely refuting or arguing against an
opponent's position is not enough to establish one's own
position..  In other words, you can't win by default.

Ah, no no no no. This is an argument from ignorance AKA shifting the burden of proof. The legal definition states it as ‘The process of transferring the obligation to affirmatively prove a fact in controversy or an issue brought during a lawsuit from one party in a legal controversy to the other party. ‘  You want to prove Bigfoot as fact? You need to prove it, I don’t need to disprove it. Simple as that.

As arch-skeptic Carl Sagan himself said, absence of evidence is
not evidence of absence.  If someone wants to rule out vistations
by extra-terrestrial aliens, it would not be enough to point out
that all the evidence presented so far is either seriously flawed
or not very strong.  It would be necessary to state definite
reasons which would make ET visitations either impossible or
highly unlikely.  (He might, for example, point out that our best
understanding of physics pretty much rules out any kind of
effective faster-than-light drive.)

Appeal to an authority the skeptic approves, then another negative proof fallacy.

The only person exempt from providing definite support is the
person who takes a strict "I don't know" position or the agnostic
position.  If someone takes the position that the evidence in
favor of ET visitations is inadequate but goes no farther, he is
exempt from further argument (provided, of course, he gives
adequate reasons for rejecting the evidence).  However, if he
wants to go farther and insist that it is impossible or highly
unlikely that ET's are visiting or have ever visited the Earth,
it becomes necessary for him to provide definite reasons for his
position.  He is no longer entitled merely to argue against his
opponent's position.

I’d be happy to go the extra mile (and indeed, I’ve done so on different topics). I think it was George Carlin who stated, “We engage in necrophilia and kill each other, gee, wonder why aliens don’t visit us?” (paraphrase) There’s a multitude of reasons why ET’s don’t visit us, and among them is that opinion that is anathema to the highly incredulous: they may not even exist.

There is the question of honesty.  Someone who claims to take the
agnostic position but really takes the position of definite
disbelief is, of course, misrepresenting his views.  For example,
a skeptic who insists that he merely believes the psi hypothesis
is inadequately supported when in fact he believes that the human
mind can only acquire information through the physical senses is
simply not being honest.

Ah yes, the fallback position of the true atavism: if you’re a skeptic, you’re a skeptic about everything, including the fact that you’re a skeptic! Prove the human mind culls data from external sources, or STFU.

7.) YOU CAN'T PROVE A NEGATIVE:  The skeptic may insist that he
is relieved of the burden of evidence and argument because "you
can't prove a negative." But you most certainly can prove a
negative!  When we know one thing to be true, then we also know
that whatever flatly contradicts it is untrue.  If I want to show
my cat's not in the bedroom, I can prove this by showing that my
cat's in the kitchen or outside chasing squirrels. The negative
has then been proven.  Or the proposition that the cat is not in
the bedroom could be proven by giving the bedroom a good search
without finding the cat.  The skeptic who says, "Of course I
can't prove psi doesn't exist.  I don't have to.  You can't prove
a negative," is simply wrong.  To rule something out, definite
reasons must be given for ruling it out.

Sure, you can prove a negative. No argument. Prayer doesn’t work. No one has proof that Bigfoot exists. 75% of UFO sightings are mundane explanations. The Exodus and the Deluge never happened. God ain’t there. There’s a laundry list of non-events and delusions that these people flock to.

Of course, for practical reasons it often isn't possible to
gather the necessary information to prove or disprove a
proposition, e.g., it isn't possible to search the entire
universe to prove that no intelligent extraterrestrial life
exists.  This by itself doesn't mean that a case can't be made
against the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, although
it does probably mean that the case can't be as air-tight and
conclusive as we would like.

And again, the case can’t be made for the damn thing. It doesn’t NEED to be ‘air-tight’ – I’d settle for conclusive, though.

8.) THE BIG LIE:  The skeptic knows that most people will not
have the time or inclination to check every claim he makes, so he
knows it's a fairly small risk to tell a whopper.  He might, for
example, insist that none of the laboratory evidence for psi
stands up to close scrutiny, or he might insist there have been
no cases of UFO's being spotted by reliable observers such as
trained military personnel when in fact there are well-documented
cases.  The average person isn't going to scamper right down to
the library to verify this, so the skeptic knows a lot of people
are going to accept his statement at face value.  This ploy works
best when the Big Lie is repeated often and loudly in a confident

Translation: “OOOH! Those nasty ole pseudoskeptics make shit up! Big poopy-heads!” Please. This is a poison the well tactic. Besides, the internet will allow the average joe (or josephine, if somebody nitpicks) 5 to 10 minutes to eviscerate any of these claims.

9.) DOUBT CASTING:  This trick consists of dwelling on minor or
trivial flaws in the evidence, or presenting speculations as to
how the evidence might be flawed as though mere speculation is
somehow as damning as actual facts.  The assumption here is that
any flaw, trivial or even merely speculative, is necessarily
fatal and provides sufficient grounds for throwing out the
evidence. The skeptic often justifies this with the
"extraordinary evidence" ploy.

That’s a strawman argument, but of course, this guy runs to the library to do research, so I’ll cut him a break.

In the real world, of course, the evidence for anything is seldom
100% flawless and foolproof.  It is almost always possible to
find some small shortcoming which can be used as an excuse for
tossing out the evidence.  If a definite problem can't be found,
then the skeptic may simply speculate as to how the evidence
*might* be flawed and use his speculations as an excuse to
discard the information.  For example, the skeptic might point
out that the safeguards or controls during one part of a psi
experiment weren't quite as tight as they might have been and
then insist, without any supporting facts, that the subject(s)
and/or the researcher(s) probably cheated because this is the
"simplest" explanation for the results (see "Sock 'em with Occam"
and "Extraordinary Claims"; "Raising the Bar" is also relevant).

Ahem…SMALL SHORTCOMING? Are you kidding me? So, when do I get to see an actual telekinetic feat? Get someone to read my mind? Pick 10 out of 10 cards accurately? I mean, when it’s not a Las Vegas act?

10.) THE SNEER:  This gimmick is an inversion of "Stupid, Crazy
Liars."  In "Stupid, Crazy Liars," the skeptic attacks the
character of those advocationg certain ideas or presenting
information in the hope of discrediting the information.  In "THE
SNEER," the skeptic attempts to attach a stigma to some idea or
claim and implies that anyone advocating that position must have
something terribly wrong with him. "Anyone who believes we've
been visited by extraterresrial aliens must be a lunatic, a fool,
or a con man. If you believe this, you must a maniac, a simpleton
or a fraud." The object here is to scare others away from a
certain position without having to discuss facts.

Really, outside of the spelling errors, this is known as the Ad hominem attack. And really, this fella’s something else again. Bigfoot, UFOs, Psi phenomenon? How can I NOT snark at this person?

To be fair, some of these tricks or tactics (such as "The Big
Lie," "Doubtcasting" and "The Sneer") are often used by believers
as well as skeptics.  Scientifc Creationists and Holocaust
Revisionists, for example, are particularly prone to use
"Doubtcasting." Others ploys, however, such as "Sock 'em with
Occam" and "Extraordinary Claims," are generally used by skeptics
and seldom by others.

Because of course, skeptics are usually less prone to cognitive dissonance.

Unfortunately, effective debating tactics often involve bad
logic, e.g. attacking an opponent's character, appeals to
emotion, mockery and facetiousness, loaded definitions, etc. And
certainly skeptics are not the only ones who are ever guilty of
using manipulative and deceptive debating tactics.  Even so,
skeptics are just as likely as anyone else to twist their
language, logic and facts to win an argument, and keeping these
tricks in mind when dealing with skeptics may very well keep you
from being bamboozled.

‘Bamboozled’?  I don’t know abut that (it invokes an image of taking someone’s wallet)…but what is a ‘loaded definition’? Usually in any debate, the definitions as well as the premises have to be agreed upon. English is like Greek in one respect – one word has multiple definitions, which we all wrestle with on a regular basis.

Here is my issue:

I would love to live in a world where aliens dropped down from the skies for a bit of a natter, or there was a Bigfoot, or paranormal powers actually existed. And there are such worlds. Unfortunately, they exist in science fiction stories, graphic novels, movies, or in anime. The fact is that the human brain is a huge receptor, and it loves to be deceived. Especially by itself. So, yes, the bar by necessity HAS to be high. I for one do not require 100% certainty. I’d settle for 90%. Hell, I’d be ambivalent at 50%.

Sadly, such percentiles are not forthcoming.

Till the next post then.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

'The Haunting In Connecticut' - A (Non) Movie Review

I can't help but get more than a little irritated when this sort of thing happens. ‘Based on a true story!’ trumpets the trailer (and/or headline). And when you delve into it? Utter horseshit:

The Real Story Behind 'The Haunting in Connecticut'

The new film "The Haunting in Connecticut" tells the story of the Snedeker family, who in 1986 rented an old house in Southington, Connecticut. Allen and Carmen Snedeker moved in with their daughter and three young sons. While exploring their new home, Carmen found strange items in the basement: tools used by morticians.

The family soon discovered — to their horror — that their home had once been a funeral parlor, and the eldest son began seeing ghosts and terrifying visions. The experiences spread to other family members and got worse: Both parents said they were raped and sodomized by demons; one day as Carmen mopped the kitchen floor, the water suddenly turned blood red and smelled of decaying flesh; and so on.

So – insanity’s hereditary, right?

Finally the family contacted a pair of self-styled "demonologists" and "ghost hunters," Ed and Lorraine Warren, who arrived and proclaimed the Snedeker house to be infested with demons.

The scariest part? It's all true, supposedly.

The Snedekers have told their story many times, including on national talk shows and in a Discovery Channel TV show. The film's poster states in capital letters at the top that the movie is "based on true events." Yet others aren't so sure.

Cue X-files weird ominous foreshadowing music. So, is there anything to it? Guess what:

Investigator Joe Nickell reports in the May/June issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine that the Snedeker's landlady found the whole story ridiculous. She noted that nobody before or since had experienced anything unusual in the house, and that the Snedeker family stayed in the house for more than two years before finally deciding to leave.

Apparently being assaulted and raped by Satan's minions for months at a time wasn't a good enough reason to break the lease.

No doubt, there’s probably some nimbulb on a discussion board floating out on the internet who’s trying to float the argument that somebody’s trying to censor reality. I can hear it now: “Of course the landlady claims otherwise! She wouldn’t be able to rent the place if she told the truth!” Anyways, yes, insanity’s hereditary:

The Snedeker's story first came to light in horror novelist Ray Garton's 1992 book "In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting." In an interview in "Horror Bound" magazine, Garton discussed how the "true story" behind "The Haunting in Connecticut" came about.

Garton was hired by Ed and Lorraine Warren to work with the Snedekers and write the true story of their house from hell. He interviewed all the family members about their experiences, and soon realized that there was a problem: "I found that the accounts of the individual Snedekers didn't quite mesh. They couldn't keep their stories straight. I went to Ed with this problem. 'Oh, they're crazy,' he said.... 'You've got some of the story — just use what works and make the rest up... Just make it up and make it scary.'"

I guess pandering is a true American art form.

Garton, who had accepted the job expecting to have a real "true story" to base the book on, did as he was told: "I used what I could, made up the rest, and tried to make it as scary as I could."

Though the Snedekers stand by their story, it seems there is little or no proof that anything supernatural occurred at the house. Whether or not the Snedekers actually believed their story, they stood to make money from the book deal. They were aware that the Lutz family — of Amityville, New York — profited handsomely from selling the rights to their "true story" of a haunted house. "The Amityville Horror" has long since been revealed as a fiction by investigator Ric Osuna and others. Interestingly, the Warrens were also involved in the Amityville case.

Fiction passed off as memoir or true story is certainly nothing new, from William Peter Blatty's book and film "The Exorcist" to James Frey's debunked bestseller "A Million Little Pieces." Filmmakers have a long history of touting movies as being based on true stories, when in fact they have little or no connection to any real events.

As for "The Haunting in Connecticut," Garton notes, "I suspect the movie will begin with the words: 'Based on a true story.' Be warned: Just about anything that begins with any variation of this phrase is trying a little too hard to convince you of something that probably isn't true."

So – caveat emptor and all that. I’ll be skipping this bit of skullduggery grounded on my principles: I ain’t throwing money to liars.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Suffer The Children? Usually, It Is The Children Who Suffer – Sometimes Unspeakably


Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

QUICK ADDENDUM - as I was unable to implement the (read more) widget at all, I have modified post so it can be read in its entirety (and please do read it all the way down before commenting!).

Just horrendous:

San Antonio baby found stabbed, decapitated

Police say mother, whose bail is set at $1 million, told them devil made her kill newborn

Update: San Antonio police say a woman accused of beheading her 3½-week-old infant son used a knife and two swords in the attack and ate some of the child’s body parts, the Associated Press reports.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told reporters Monday that Otty Sanchez’s attack on her son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez, was “too heinous” to fully discuss.

But he says Sanchez ate part of the newborn’s brain and bit off three of his toes before stabbing herself twice.

Police say the 33-year-old Sanchez told officers who were called to her house early Sunday that she killed her son at the devil’s request.

Sanchez is charged with capital murder and is being held on $1 million bail. She is recovering from her wounds at a hospital.

In what police described as one of the most gruesome crimes against a child in recent memory, a newborn boy in San Antonio was stabbed, decapitated and mutilated early Sunday.

His 33-year-old mother claimed responsibility, police said.

Otty Sanchez told police that she was "hearing voices" and that the devil made her kill Scott Wesley Buchholtz Sanchez, whom she gave birth to on June 30, San Antonio police spokesman Joe Rios said.

A knife and two swords?

Is there a biblical precedent? Yes, there is:

  1. Leviticus 26:16 "I also will do this unto you... You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it."
  2. Leviticus 26:29 "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat."
  3. Deuteronomy 28:53 "And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters."
  4. Deuteronomy 28:57 "And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them."
  5. 2 Kings 6:28-29 "This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him."
  6. Isaiah 9:19-20 "Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm."
  7. Isaiah 49:26 "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine."
  8. Jeremiah 19:9 " And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend."
  9. Lamentations 4:10 "The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat."
  10. Ezekiel 5:10 "Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers."
  11. Micah 3:2 "Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Micah 3:3 Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron."
  12. Zechariah 11:9 "I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another."

Yes, each of these practices/verses are debatable. No, there’s not enough evidence to suggest any of these passages inspired the crazed woman. There is sufficient evidence the world round that religion (AKA superstition) provides a safety umbrella under which the mentally ill can seek shelter, regardless of ideology (I’d restrict it to monotheism: pantheists are likely too confused to act upon their ‘voices’).

I’ve mentioned this before, that religion is NOT a force for good in this world. I have also maintained (much to the chagrin of some of my cohorts here) that I consider religion an excuse, and that mental illness is a biological not an ideological affliction.

Having all this logic and data well in hand, I posit that it’s the societal taboo against religious criticism that enables people like Mrs. Sanchez to fall beneath the radar. Where obvious issues like glossolalia are glossed over, and the hearing of voices if ignored, usually ends in deep tragedy.

It is a constant  battle – but religion must go. It is an anachronism that costs lives, psyches, and enormous resources better used to improve the life of our species.

Till the next post, then.