left biblioblography: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The P-Spot: How Anal Are The Religious Right About Certain Behaviors?


Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

One of the stranger fixations of the religious is on behavior - specifically sexual behavior. It is, after all, why they're so threatened by evolution. Sex is at the heart of evolution, and as a by-product, it is also at the heart of the human condition.

One of the constant nonsenses that the religious spout is that specifically, anal sex is 'unnatural'. One protest among many against the homosexual lifestyle.

While this is an unhealthy practice, anyone can skew an analysis to show that all sexual behavior is unhealthy. Because let's face facts, we're pretty much an unsanitary species. We're shot through and through with bacteria, benign and malign. Hell, human bites are among the top 10 percentile of infectious bites (among mammals). Our entertainment centers are located smack dab in the middle of a waste disposal plant. Having sex with the wrong person in the wrong way regardless of gender can wreck your liver. The list goes on.

Still, I try to abide by Tennessee Williams' words, "Nothing human disgusts me."

So I was flashing back on an old blogversation from about 3 years ago. I challenged the religious fellow to try out the old Asian pearl trick. (This is an item I read about 30 years back in Penthouse - yes, some of us DID read the articles!) I have on occasion used this on religious bloggers, when they whip out that tired refrain that the 'anus is only for one thing!' I challenge them to try it out with their wives. 9 out of 10 times, there's a vast silence.

Being a 50 year old male, I've been researching the prostate, as it is a danger zone for men. (No, not that kind of research, getcher mind outta the gutter. Let's just say, that when my doctor examined me, I'm surprised I didn't break his finger, and leave it at that.)

Somehow, I stumbled on the subject of prostate massage.

For something that's designated for only one purpose, this comes as a surprise to most men, I'll warrant:

Prostate massage and prostate milking are terms used to describe the massage or stimulation of the prostate gland in males, either for medical or sexual purposes.

The prostate, also known as the "P-spot" or the "male G-spot," takes part of the sexual response cycle in males, and is a key contributor to male orgasm. Located adjacent to the anterior rectal wall, it can be stimulated manually. Fluids collected in the prostate are released during orgasm.

And, like any sexual behavior, it involves some serious risk factors:

Prostate massage is part of the digital rectal examination (DRE) routinely given to men by urologists in order to look for nodules of prostate cancer and to obtain expressed prostatic secretions (EPS) for examination under microscope.

In the late 1990s, some doctors tried prostate massage in conjunction with antibiotics for the treatment of chronic bacterial prostatitis with uncertain results.[1][2] In recent trials, however, prostate massage was not shown to improve outcomes compared to antibiotics alone.[3] As a consequence of these findings, prostate massage is not used in the treatment of any medical disorder today, and prostate massage should never be performed on patients with acute prostatitis, because the infection can spread elsewhere in the body if massage is performed.[4]

In addition, prostate massage can be risky. Some of the documented consequences are life-threatening periprostatic hemorrhage,[5] cellulitis, Fournier's gangrene,[6] septicaemia, possible disturbance and metastasis of prostate cancer to other parts of the body, and hemorrhoidal flare-up.

This specific paragraph caught my eye, however:

Electroejaculation is a procedure in which nerves are stimulated via an electric probe, which is inserted into the rectum adjacent to the prostate. It is most commonly encountered in animal husbandry for the purpose of collecting semen samples for testing or breeding.

I'd say we can fairly rule out the Amish in regards to this practice, but I wonder - how many good Christian farmers utilize this technique? (Somehow, I get this image of these two 'good ole boys' chewing their wheat stalks and watching 'Will And Grace' - "Goddam queers", "Yup, hey Jebediah, time to go milk the bull. C'mon.")

The long and short of it is - we are highly complex creatures, both physically and mentally, and no amount of simplistic reductionism can change that.

So - let the innuendo begin.

This is the Apostate, signing out.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why ARE Atheists So Darned Disagreeable? There Are Only So Many Times...

Let's be brutally blunt here: online atheists (myself included) tend to be...far less polite than most folks. The religious tend to blame it on our epistemology (or lack thereof), but there's some very good reasons for it. I'll nutshell it in one, and expand from there:

Human nature.

Now for the bullet points:

1. There are only so many times that a religious person can refuse to understand your point, no matter how clearly you expound on it. I've had a variety of discussions over the years, where I've carefully laid out my POV, dissected it, and explained it in minute detail (here and on other blogs). Example: I once had a loonngg discussion with a zealot outlining how gay marriage was NOT going to open the door for people to marry their poodles, children, and/or furniture (there is NO STUPIDER ARGUMENT EXTANT). Read it for yourself. What makes it more infuriating, is that it's a fairly common trope among the religious.

2. There are only so many times  you can be told 'we're all the same inside'. The Tu Quoque. This sets my teeth on edge. Sharing a common biology is not indicative of a common ideology. Atheism's a commonality among those who simply don't believe in superstition. Amazingly enough (or perhaps really not), just speaking up against religion somehow makes you religious. May as well claim that speaking against communism makes you a self-loathing communist. It's stupid.

3. There are only so many times that a person can be told that they simply don't understand the POV of the other person, and that if they did, well, hey! You'd change your mind on the spot if you did! It's insulting on multiple levels.

4. There are only so many times you can be told what you actually believe, even if it's so grossly off the mark it's ridiculous. I've had numerous conversations (online and realtime) where I've been told I actually believe in God, I just didn't want to admit, I'm in rebellion, I want to be God, [insert your 'you believe, it's just that...' phrase here], etc.

5. There are only so many times that folks can try to play tricks on you, before you take it personally. The argument from semantics, or Loki's Wager, moving the goalposts, call it what you will. For a clearer example, read this post, where a theist showed up, tried to tie me up in knots in a discussion about physics (at the time, I knew next to nothing about the subject), and it got rather...acrimonious. Later on his own blog, the fellow claimed he thought I was proposing a static universe. (I had no inkling of the topic whatsoever, then)  Allegory is conversation's pollution.

That's only 5. There are plenty more, feel free to share some of your knuckle-whiteners here.

And for the record - the politer efforts have been tried. Robert Ingersoll, for instance, went after the epistemology rather than individuals. And lo and behold, they cooked up a death-bed conversion story! Darwin, Paine, Voltaire, all of these men were set up with a deathbed conversion story. So much for the old 'the truth shall set you free!' trope.

Combine the free-flowing fables cooked up against the opposition (us) with the inevitable discrimination against atheists, and well, courtesy falls by the wayside toot sweet.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hate - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!


I received this in an email:

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars has gone on record for the following remarks:

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars recently called the LGBT community "probably the greatest threat to America...I know of."

He went on to spew a series of vile insults including:

  • Lesbian and gay relationships are "abominations."
  • LGBT people are moving America "toward a society that has no morals."
  • LGBT people will "destroy the foundation of American society."

I looked up this ignorant old fuck, and well, the flurry of xenophobia is enough to make a person ill.

Buttars has sponsored legislation banning gay straight alliances in public schools, has introduced a resolution urging companies to have their employees say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays" to customers, as well as an Intelligent Design Bill. Buttars has sponsored legislation to fund drug treatment programs, supports raising the minimum wage and assisting child crime victims.

During the 2006 General Session of the 56th Utah State Legislature Buttars sponsored S.B. 96, an Intelligent Design Bill. The bill would have forced instructors to teach students that evolution is a controversial theory and counter the theory with that of Creationists, using the term "Divine Design" . The New York Times called the bill "Anti-Darwin" and critics have pointed to Buttars' words "Divine Design" as evidence for its religious undertow. The bill failed.


During a debate of a school-funding bill on the floor of the State Senate in February 2008, the bill's sponsor compared the bill to the baby involved in the Biblical story of King Solomon. Buttars responded saying, "This baby is black, I'll tell you. This is a dark, ugly thing." Buttars apologized for a remark on the State Senate floor,[12] saying, "I got a little carried away, and I made a comment that I think a lot of people could take as racist. I certainly did not mean that in any way, but it was wrong and could easily be taken in just that way. I apologize to anyone who took offense."[13] In an interview, Buttars said, "We live in a very, very sensitive world. Although what I said had literally nothing in my mind to do with a human being at all — we were talking about an ugly bill — I made a statement that could be easily misinterpreted, and it was."

Yeah, I don't think so, Butterball.

Buttars has been outspoken on issues dealing with homosexuality, and co-sponsored Utah Constitutional Amendment 3 with Utah Boys Ranch colleague LaVar Christensen, which defined marriage in Utah as consisting "only of the legal union between a man and a woman." Buttars criticized the domestic partnership executive order signed by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Buttars also introduced legislation that would ban gay clubs and gay-straight alliances in public schools. In 2008 Salt Lake City's newly elected Mayor Ralph Becker introduced a domestic partnership registry that was unanimously approved by the City Council. On February 11, 2008 Buttars introduced a counter bill, SB0267, designed to prevent cities or counties from operating any kind of domestic partnership registry, alleging such registries would violate Utah Constitutional Amendment 3's ban on same-sex marriage and domestic unions. Buttars became the subject of even more criticism on February 17, 2009, when in an interview with KTVX reporter Reed Cowan he compared homosexuals to radical Muslims and claimed that the gay rights movement is "the greatest threat to America". Buttars might be headed for trouble after these last remarks with the Senate vowing to "deal with Buttars publicly" for his anti-gay statements. On February 20, 2009 he was removed as chairman and member from the Judicial Standing Committee due to these remarks.

Senator Butterball is emblematic of the old guard, the good old boys who require the status to remain perfectly quo. The 'Ozzie and Harriet' days are something they yearn to return, unaware that

  1. The good old days weren't always so good (as per Billy Joel), and
  2. 'Turning the clock back' is a metaphor, not a literal event, and can only be done during Daylight Savings Time.

Butterball is considered something of a crazy lunatic by the Huffington Post, but in this regard, we have raging homophobes all over - from Rick Warren to the Reverend Don Wildmon of the execrable AFA, there's a long standing tradition of homophobia from the elephant shitters on the right wing. (Let's never mind that a large percentile of these 'family values' sycophants have electrified the headlines over the last decade with gay behavior).

This is (and has been for some time) a specific bugaboo of mine - because when you tell a specific group of people that they aren't allowed specific rights that are accorded to everyone else...there's a very specific word that defines that act:


And while we're all aware of the fundamental definition of the term civil rights, it bears repeating:

The rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including civil liberties, due process, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination.

Till the next post, then.


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Illogic of Anti-Zionism - How The Liberal Leftie Atheists Have No Legs

I think I've made this fairly clear in the past: I am Pro-Israel. I feel that not only is anti-Israel sentiment a hold-over of a Christian meme, there is no, I repeat NO conflict between my non-belief and support of Israel, and furthermore, I have solid valid reasons for supporting that country.

I am currently engaged in a(nother!) pissing contest at the Nogodblog.

In the past, I've striven to have logical, consistent debates on the topic. I have endeavored to answer any and all objections without resorting to the usual schoolyard tactics ('hey shithead, yer mamma!' that sorta thing). Usually, it ends badly, mostly because there's only so many times I can wring the piss out of my shoes before I lose my temper.

So, without resorting to any logical fallacies whatsoever, I will expound on two (yes, two! Only two! I am also striving to be less logorrheic, yay!) simple principles that should convince the less stubborn of the illogic of it all.

Point number one: moral relativism. By it's very definition, as follows:

Philosophical view that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances, or social situation. Rather than claiming that an action's rightness or wrongness can depend on the circumstances, or that people's beliefs about right and wrong are relative to their social conditioning, it claims (in one common form) that what is truly right depends solely on what the individual or the society thinks is right. Because what people think will vary with time and place, what is right will also vary. If, however, changing and even conflicting moral principles are equally valid, there is apparently no objective way of justifying any principle as valid for all people and all societies. This conclusion is rejected by consequentialists (see consequentialism) and deontologists (see deontological ethics) alike.

As I have stated in the past, I've pretty much chucked moral relativism in the trash. If this is your particular -ism, then you can simply restrict your trenchant criticisms to the society and environment you find yourself in. Of course, you can tailor this definition to suit your needs, but then it becomes dangerously close to Loki's Wager, so best to be careful on this one. It's thin ice.

Point number two: the Is/Ought problem. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, it is as follows;

In meta-ethics, the is-ought problem was raised by David Hume (Scottish philosopher and historian, 17111776), who noted that many writers make claims about what ought to be on the basis of statements about what is. However, there seems to be a significant difference between descriptive statements (about what is) and prescriptive statements (about what ought to be).

Hume discusses the problem in book III, part I, section I of his A Treatise of Human Nature:

“In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, that expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.

Hume then calls for writers to be on their guard against such inferences, if they cannot give an explanation of how the ought-statements are supposed to follow from the is-statements. But how exactly can you derive an "ought" from an "is"? In other words, given our knowledge of the way the world is, how can we know the way the world ought to be? That question, prompted by Hume's small paragraph, has become one of the central questions[citation needed] of ethical theory, and Hume is usually assigned the position that such a derivation is impossible. This complete severing of "is" from "ought" has been given the graphic designation of "Hume's Guillotine".[1]

A similar (though distinct) view is defended by G. E. Moore's open question argument, intended to refute any identification of moral properties with natural properties—the so-called naturalistic fallacy.

How do the ruminations of a 17th century skeptic tie in to the current crisis in the Middle East? It's incredibly simple.

At no other time in history, has there ever been a liberal democracy (yes, I used the code words, don't whinge on about it) founded and maintained by Jews in the history of the world. Yes, there IS discrimination, there IS racism, yes there ARE theocratic elements involved, yes, Israel is in NEED of reform. None of these detract from the reality of the situation. And also, never has there been a Jewish founded democracy smack dab in the middle of a bunch of crazy assholes hell-bent on their destruction (and this has been so for the past 60 years or so).

So the Is/ought problems is applied thusly: there is no criterion for a Hebrew democracy aswim in the waters of genocidal madmen, as to how they should respond to every situation.

This is not a cart blanche waiver releasing the Israelis from critique. It is a democratic country, and there are standards to abide by. I feel they responded badly in the 2006 Hezbollah debacle: there was an instance where the term ethnic cleansing can be applied ( the Palistinean exodus, which I think both sides are culpable), and I've always considered Ariel Sharon something of a piece of shit.

But when it's a limited democracy (I use the word limited to capitulate to those who adhere to an absolute definition of the term) that is under fire on a daily, almost hourly basis, when survival is meted out based not on constraints formulated by those who are detached from the conflict, but based on the minute-to-minute reality of the process, then who among us would perform better, all arm-chair analysis aside?

Principles are a hard thing to adhere by, when the messy business of survival interferes. And yet, in the humble opinion of this deponent, the Israelis have somehow managed to maintain enough of a yardstick to be able to measure by.

Till the next post, then.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Counting, Counting...Count The Count Out - More Astrological Foolishness

When last I posted on astrology, I actually got a poster who basically copy-pasted/botted this into my comments:

Zodiacal Western Sidereal Astrologer
San Francisco School of Sidereal Astrology
Spiritual Evolution Self Realization Truth Seeker
Attention Pattern Manipulates Mystic Law Creating Experience Attentions on God or Not
Reprogram Attention to Perpetual Meditation and Create Miracles in Your Life
1 877 322 7238 Toll Free - http://www.CountGramalkin.Com - Gramalkin@Gramalkin.Com
"Astrology Realities Manifesto"
Dearest Truth Seeker Disciples:
Everyone is welcome to have a go at the San Francisco School of Sidereal Astrology Delineation Technique. For example FEEL FREE to CALL your BOOKIE BROKER and BET that MORTGAGE MONEY on anything on the ZERO RELEVANCE LIST such as get yourself a nice Comet all lined up and take it to the HORSERACE TRACK when you get tired of being HOMELESS reread the list. Everything in the San Francisco School Technique got there by PROVING itself with the CASH on the LINE. "This is real life school one either gets it or not the proof of the pudding is in the eating either you have the money or they have the money if it doesn't work at the track it doesn't work in your daily life” Mazurek.
There is some natural curiosity about how The Reverend Professor John Mazurek (1919-2oo3) the San Francisco School and I came to be heirs of the modern day father of astrology Cyril Fagan (1896-1970) legacy linage when Cyril said it was so we took his word for it. Observing astrology including prominent Siderealists wandering lost in misinformation shows us why he did details on Gramalkin.Com. In order to fulfill the mantle mandate that Cyril laid on the San Francisco School of Sidereal Astrology and therefore I that it is up to us to see to it that the knowledge is not lost again what may be done is done to give the public access to astrological information

There was a great deal more, but it was long and lengthy. I thanked the 'Count' (unless you're European royalty, this is a prefix of arrogance) for providing me with some material to deconstruct.

Good as my word, I went right to the horse's mouth. Truly, some metaphorical halitosis.

And sure enough, right at the top, it claims it provides a horoscope for Marilyn Monroe. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies. However, on clicking on the 'scroll', one is sent to a page that says nothing about Ms. Monroe, but rather is a lengthy dissertation on how this specific mumbo jumbo is the 'one true astrology'.

The Astrology most often associated Western Civilization is INCORRECT and MISLEADING. The fundamental problem stems from Classical Greek and Moorish Astrologers who translated the Zodiac they inherited from the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians incorrectly. Nothing has been right since.

Actually, this is incorrect. The Egyptians practiced a Hellenistic form of it, and the ancient Greeks actually thought it was bit of rubbish, but it took off in the Roman era.

However, in 1949 the modern day father of astrology the great Astrologer and Astronomer Cyril Fagan of Dublin, Ireland, (1896-1970) discovered the mistake. Modern Western Sidereal Zodiac Astrology was born.

Before any understanding or education of astrology can take place one must first understand and agree on what the Zodiac is. Galaxies make up universes; universes make up Cosmic Spheres. Our cosmic sphere is the matter of which our sun is the center. Rather than being like a molecule with particles whirling about every which way all the planets orbit the sun in the same zodiacal ecliptic path of celestial longitude and that path is the zodiac. The Zodiac is the baseline of the three dimensional model of our cosmic sphere.

Now that is an argument that makes a little sense. Most modern astrologers are working off texts that have the planets/stars in a fixed delineation. Whereas any savvy individual knows that such things are constantly in flux.

The PATH the planets are orbiting through around the Sun is the Zodiac ecliptic and the path or orbit itself is not moving. For all practical purposes the path is sitting still and the planets are moving through the zodiac path around the Sun. The stars and space are in a fixed position and the planets are orbiting through the stars and space around the Sun. This is physical reality and Zodiacal Western Sidereal Astrology. When you look at the night sky what you see is Zodiacal Western Sidereal Astrology as Sidereal astrology reckons celestial longitude from the fixed star positions and Zodiacal Sidereal astrology reckons horoscopes in celest ial longitude. The 12-constellation system validity with fixed star Spica at 29 Virgo 6'5" epoch 1977 is shown by properly done Ingress horoscopes.

Which is an apology for the GEOCENTRIC format of ancient astrology. It's all just a 'cosmic misunderstanding' then, I suppose.

'Count Gramalkin's' resume is a who's who of who the hell is that? A lot of names that nobody would recognize (and of this rogue's gallery, only Fagin has an answers page).

Oh, and when one clicks on the 'Daimoku Mantra' link, one stumbles across the old 'Nam dyo renge kyo' chant. I have mentioned that little gem before.

So good old Count Graham Cracker also has references to the following nonsenses: Tarot cards, homeopathy, and angels.  And his statement as follows:

The author has had many very real major experiences in dealing with the Angelic experience. They have definitely saved my life on a good many occasions. More than enough Angelic contact to realize how real and cosmic they are.

Why some people don't just admit to themselves they're hallucinating still throws me to this day. Everyone hallucinates. It's called dreaming. And sometimes you dream in realtime, due to a chemical imbalance.

Still, it seems that some folks actually can make moola off their delusions.

The disclaimer(s) say it all:

   This web site is designed to provide information on "Self Realization Spiritual Evolution Truth Seeking. It is published with the understanding that the publisher and author are not engaged in rendering legal, financial, accounting or medical services. This is an attempt to deliver information that is actually true and according to the authors understanding of the situation is true. Best legal advice insists for readers to protect ones self from lunatic lawsuits this statement must be included in the disclaimer. If legal, medical, financial, philosophical or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

And so, I leave with this parting shot, this parting thought:

 Your 'destiny' is not written in the stars, nor does it lay in the spread of cards, or in some charlatan's hands. It lays in your own palms, to mold as you best you can in given circumstance.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some Lonely Hearts Clubs Think They Have A Prayer?

Cross posted @ God is for Suckers!

llama-sutra2 I stumbled across this the other day, and it tickled my funny bone just a little.

St Valentine 'not saint of love'

If roses won't do the trick, try Saint Raphael suggests the Catholic Church

Britain's Roman Catholic Church is advising lovelorn singles to direct their 14 February requests for love to St Raphael, rather than St Valentine.

Over the years St Valentine has come incorrectly to be associated with finding love, the Church says.

Personally, I'd have to say that there isn't any 'saint' for love, as they were all deluded (if benign) folks, that is if they weren't adopted or co-opted from other mythologies.

And the answers.com version is telling:

The origins of Valentine's Day, like the origins of love itself, are somewhat obscure — a combination of myth, history, destiny, chance and marketing.

Legend has it that a certain third-century priest named Valentine persisted in performing marriage ceremonies despite a ban by the Roman emperor Claudius II (Claudius was persuaded that single men made better soldiers for his army). Thrown into jail, Valentine formed a relationship with his jailor's daughter (some say he cured her blindness) and he signed his last message to her "From your Valentine," a phrase which still gets a lot of mileage.

St. Valentine was executed on February 14, circa the year 270, and his remains (probably his, but there were two other Christian martyrs called Valentine) are now on display in the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin.

There are also reports of an ancient pagan custom that took place in preparation for the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which started February 15. The names of the town's maidens would be collected and then drawn at random by the local bachelors; in this fashion couples were paired off for the year.

Third, medieval Europeans thought February 14 was the date on which the birds started to mate. (There's no record of when the bees started.) From "Parlement of Foules," a poem by Chaucer:
"for this was on seynt Volantynys day/ Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his mate.

While this is a fairly borderline 'holiday', I think it is symptomatic of the invidious nature of religion. I have spoken before of this  - and so we have a Hallmark holiday with religious overtones.

The final part of the original article says this:

Spiritual networks

Those hoping for divine intervention to help their love lives may well appreciate the correction in target for their prayers, but Miss Ward also had some more advice.

"There is a lot of evidence to suggest that young people who have tapped into prayer groups have found partners," she said.

"Those who have exhausted traditional routes like online dating should try spiritual networks.

"Why not come along to a prayer group - it could be your lucky night."

 Hmmm...the pickup lines that spring to mind! "Hey, kneel here often?" "Hey, which bible version are you using?" And of course, the audience selects as the number 1 pickup line at a personals prayer meeting (drum roll please)...."So, while you're down there, wouldja do me a favor?"

Till the next post, then.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin's Bicentennial.

Today marks 200 years since Darwin's birthday. When the bearded gentleman on the left used the scientific method and intensely scrutinized the world around him, and formulated a system that shook the hearts and minds of the world for centuries to come.

I will likely do a few posts over the next few days honoring Darwin's discovery, and then I will again go on my merry way.

(As a side note, I've been laid off, but with a promise of return. Ergo, you will be hearing more from me, no doubt.)


Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Debunked Cry To The Stars Above..."I Don't Get No Respect!"


Cross posted @ God is for Suckers!

I found a fairly amusing article entitled 'Debunking the debunkers'  - it's fraught with all sorts of standard biased objections, simply substitute 'Islam', 'Judaism', or or any other relusional 'system', play the words, it becomes pretty much the standard recipe.

These quotes are just a few of the typical statements made by debunkers against astrology, printed every day in newspapers, magazines and books; voiced on the radio, the Internet, and in the classroom. Despite the widespread prejudice against astrology, most of us continue to practice our "forbidden" art. Within our own little community, isolated from the war being waged against us and our discipline by scientists, the media, and religious fundamentalists, we are content to mind our own business and preach to the choir. So long as we maintain our client-based profession or write articles for our limited audience, why should we be concerned about the relentless debunking of astrology that goes on in the real and much larger world?

Because, well, it's not founded in reality. It costs millions of dollars of hard-earned human labor, and for what? Pseudo-psychoanalysis, that' s what.

The surprising answer is that it will make us better astrologers. Astrologers can profit from a critical view. It is valuable for us to understand the objections made by debunkers because they raise important questions that we should ask about ourselves, our practice, and astrology itself.

This is actually a valid point.

First, we must distinguish debunkers from the other types of critics and opponents of astrology. Debunkers are not the historians and philosophers of science who are open to considering astrology as an alternative paradigm and recognize its importance in past cultures, but who believe it has since deteriorated.[5] Debunkers are also different from the revisionists, who were discussed in a previous issue of TMA.6 Religious fundamentalists are another special category which will not be discussed here. It should be noted, however, that despite the general lack of intelligence in their weak arguments, fundamentalists constitute a growing threat to astrology.[7]

Can't help but chuckle at that last sentence.

True debunkers are the diehard skeptics who claim to be scientists using rational arguments, asserting their authority in areas where they have little knowledge. If we carefully examine the debunkers' arguments, we find serious flaws in their "logic" which is ostensibly based on an "objectivity" which is supposed to be characteristic of science and the rational mind.[8] We find that their criticisms are based on misinformation and ignorance. Observing these flaws can lead us to a better understanding of both what is science and what is astrology.

Ah yes, the flawed logic of the 192 scientists who signed the famous Objections to Astrology?

In today's world, science is upheld as the primary measuring rod, and any claim can be falsified or verified according to scientific criteria. According to this rather limited system of analysis, literally anything can be defined as either science or non-science. In most situations, unscientific claims are considered benign and are ignored (debunkers do not bother to "disprove" or "refute" music or the art of parenting, which are clearly non-scientific endeavors practiced daily throughout the world). So long as everybody minds their own business (i.e., scientists attend to science, musicians play their music, parents raise their children), there can be peaceful coexistence between the "two cultures."[10] But in certain cases, debunkers feel compelled to define a non-scientific endeavor such as astrology as "pseudoscience," a special category of non-science that carries the connotation of false, evil, and threatening to the goals of science.

A 'rather limited system of analysis' that has a far better track record than astrology itself. Note the conflation of 'parenting' and 'music', as if there are parallels here. Music is real, parenting is as well.

Just exactly how one is supposed to distinguish between what constitutes science, benign non-science, or pseudoscience is a very debatable topic.

Ah, no it's not.

 Philosophers and social scientists have been arguing about this for at least fifty years, and the only consensus they really have is that "science is what scientists say it is." Yet debunkers have decided they can determine not only what is science and what isn't, but also what portions of non-science deserve to be attacked as pseudoscience.

Testable, falsifiable hypotheses? Claiming to be science when it meets none of the criteria? No, the only debate is whether or not we should allow these people a valid opinion without anything to back it up.

What are some of their methods of attack? (1) One is the "Let Them Eat Cake" argument, and it goes like this: Astrology is criticized for failing to design research and run controlled tests to supply evidence for its concepts.

There ya go. Pseudoscience. Argument settled.

 But ever since scientists threw astrology out of the Academy in the 17th century, astrologers have been outside the intellectual mainstream with no access to academic funding.

Oh please. There's PLENTY of literature on the subject - centuries worth. It's just a matter of whether it's Western or Eastern, or Middle-Eastern. This is what - the third century or so that it's been banned? Why hasn't some intrepid researched proven it anyways?

Research is an extremely time-consuming and expensive endeavor. If academic scientists didn't have corporate-supported funding and posh jobs (complete with tenure, sabbaticals, grad students to teach their classes, and all the rats or Macs they need to run their experiments), how many do you think would dip into their own pockets to finance the research that "justifies" their existence? Yet they demand that astrologers should somehow find the time and money required to prove the validity of astrology.

Uh, academia in the US is infamous for lack of funding. Jobs and Gates started in their own garages, why can't you?

The catch-22 here is that even if you manage to get inside the academic establishment, astrology is generally considered a taboo subject for investigation, so who is supposed to be doing all the research demanded by the debunkers?

Howzabout all you star-stricken martyrs?

 Meanwhile, however, there is plenty of funding available for studying such matters as how goldfish behave under the influence of alcohol, or the effects of gravity on toilet paper.[11]

Or the reconciliation of quantum mechanics as opposed to the scalar laws of weak and strong nuclear forces, magnetism, gravity, etc? Note the lack of citations. Strawman.

(2) The "Pot Calling the Kettle Black" argument: Astrologers are also criticized for doing precisely the same things that scientists do.

My only response is that of hilarity.

 Debunkers claim that astrology is invalid because there is disagreement among astrologers over basic ideas such as which celestial configurations are relevant and how these are to be interpreted.

Duh, yeah, you have one thousand and one ways to interpret how one star in the sky impacts the individual, you have no standardization, no boilerplate, and no damn way to prove this is relevant.

Whereas, in science, a lack of mutual agreement over very basic premises is considered a healthy expression of intellectual debate and is called different "schools of thought."

Note the distinct lack of applicable analogies.

 Astrologers using geocentric or sidereal or Koch house systems are accused of inconsistency, while in physics, one can discuss whether light is a wave or light is a particle; and in behavioral genetics, one can formulate competing theories like "nature-versus-nurture," and in medical science, doctors can make a respectable income by giving second opinions.

Because light can be both, that's a false dichotomy - and if you're using a geocentric system in anything, well, it's about time that person got wind that they're in the 21st century.

Another way that Scientist debunkers project their own behavior is by accusing astrologers of using their art to control their clients' lives.

Stupidly broad generalization.

 You can see how absurd this is if you try to think of some part of modern life that is not depedent on (controlled by) science/technology. Contrast this with humanistic astrology, which is devoted to the process of self-awareness. Science searches for order with the ultimate goal of dominating nature, while astrology searches for an order that connects man with nature. In this sense, astrology constitutes a much more environmentally-friendly discipline than science.

Really? Which scientists? Is this author drawing on some crazy Doctor Cyclops imagery or what? Dominating nature? Would that be the physicists, or the molecular biologists?

And speaking of mythologies, another method of attack is based on the (3) "Myth of Objective Consciousness."[12] This is the idea that the scientific method or rationalism is the best way to gain knowledge about the world.

Because it shows patterns, it has a proven track record, and the supernatural fails the tests every time.

 There are just a few assumptions going on here. Debunkers have extended the meaning of best to indicate "only" and knowledge has been equated with Truth.

More strawman crap.

 The world is limited by scientific definition to mean the material, physical world, which in turn is assumed to mean "reality."

More new age nonsense.

 Astrology functions in a much broader way like philosophy; it is an alternative form of perception that seeks knowledge of a reality that includes the metaphysical world, yet scientists insist on testing it with the scientific method. Analyzing astrology with the tools of science is as inappropriate as trying to measure consciousness with a spoon.

So, what? We're supposed to take her word for it? Or the one hundred thousand other starry-eyed savants who can't seem to agree on one thing?

Skipping a little bit:

Another reason the scientific method will not work with astrology is that the rationalist view assumes that the whole equals the sum of the parts.

Only if you're Michael Behe.

 When the scientist tries to break down a person's birth chart into separate components to test the individual parts (like whether sun signs can translate directly into specific, isolated, predictable behavior traits), the astrologer rightfully objects that this is ignoring the wholeness of a chart, and of the person. If psychology is allowed to acknowledge the complex unity of the Self, why can't astrology be granted the same right?

Because you've pretty much admitted that this is not a science, for one thing. For another, if you divide an abstract concept into pieces, and all the pieces disappear, what's the final verdict?

Scientists also insist on statistical analysis using random samples. But astrology cannot be "proven" or falsified by random statistics because astrology is based on the premise that conditions are never random. Take, for example, random conditions at the time of testing. Scientists might assume that any old time is just as good as another to perform a test of astrology, but what if you're testing whether Pisces is less aggressive than Aries and it so happens that Mars is rising during the time of the test? Or suppose that a certain test is performed that shows some validity to astrology, but in a later attempt at replication, the Moon is void-of-course during the test, or Neptune is rising, and the results are all vague.

Because randomnicity is a way of testing for repeating patterns. For structure. Because when a pattern repeats itself, it's no longer random.

But enough. Vaughan cites 10 points, all of which suffer in the morass of subjective bias. Further investigation shows that she uses astrology as three different revenue streams, therefore staining her protestations with observer bias.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

In The Window Of The Soul, Something Burrows...


Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm. - Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Conqueror Worm'

In Africa, there is a child. In the eye of the child, a worm burrows.

The worm is called the Loa loa filariasis, AKA the African eye worm.

Read of it and shudder. It's horrifying, to think that such a creature can infest our bodies, and cause such horrors.

I have spoken of such before. But the world abounds with these creatures; so much so, that it beggars the imagination that anyone would proclaim the planet earth as having been designed for us, when it is so clearly inimical to our presence.

This is why an honest, critical eye (no entendre intended) to the alleged 'design' of the world punctures the balloon of ID, reduces the religious swoon to simple melodramatic fainting, and demolishes this notion of an 'all-loving' gwad into dust.

It is not enough that we are wormfood after we die, but that we are wormfood while we are alive as well.

And, as we are coming close to Darwin's birthday, I will close this post with his words:

"I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars"

Till the next post, then.