I wonder if readers here could help me out with a favor. Leslie Botha is the public relations director for SANEVax. She also has a radio show during drive time on 88.9 FM KRFC Fort Collins in Colorado. The show is called Holy Hormones Honey! and it’s a rather blatant propaganda tool for SANEVax and the anti-vaccine movement in general. My show, Rational Alchemy, is also on this station. I have been increasingly incensed that she is allowed to spew this (in my opinion) murderous nonsense over the air. I have complained about the content of her show many times, but the station management, like so many people, believes the CAM community is legitimate science. This may change if people in greater numbers than just me make their voices heard to the management.
I haven’t taken this to others before now out of a misguided sense of family amongst programmers, but she continues to cross the line, her show started off as a general topic alt-med show, it is purely anti-vax nonsense and anti-science hatred now. (Her episode calling for people convicted of shaking babies to death to be released because it was actually vaccines that killed them is a classic.) Like the management, people who are not exposed to science are prone to believe she is citing accepted science.
Please help by calling, E-mailing and tweeting KRFC and making your opinion heard. Calling would be by far the most effective. Ending such a loud voice for SANEVax would certainly be a tremendous blow. Also, if anyone has a suggestion on how to take this plea to a wider audience, please let me know. Thanks.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice ….”
Vindictive behavior is one of those things that people do that we often want to believe is rational, but I think most people acknowledge that it is not. But it is so common. Recently, I’ve seen this idea of vindictiveness come out in two court cases that the media pretty much went nuts over.
In the Casey Anthony trial, the media had her tried and convicted before very much evidence was presented against her. In fact, the most compelling evidence in the case could be linked to several people and wasn’t even presented until near the end of the trial. By that time, though, the popular opinion was that Anthony was guilty. But the purpose of our courts is not to make decisions based on popular opinions. Instead, criminals facing trial are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty. In the Casey Anthony trial, there was not sufficient evidence to prove guilt. Thus, Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the murder of her daughter. When the public heard the news, though, there was little recognition for a trial that went the way trials are supposed to do. There was no commendation for a Jury having performed their duties well or for a nation that was proud that, in spite of all the media attention and twisting of information, our court system functioned properly. We did not send an innocent person to death.
Of course, we cannot know if Anthony is guilty or innocent. We can only know that there was not sufficient evidence against her. This makes the default opinion in court one of innocence. The courts function this way on purpose. Our system of justice is intended to protect the innocent and that includes protecting the innocent from false accusations. Yet, in the wake of the Casey Anthony trial, there were death threats, people expressing sadness that she wasn’t put away, people wishing harm upon Casey Anthony and many other shameful comments based entirely on people’s personal opinions regarding Anthony.
Just the other day, Warren Jeffs was found guilty of sexual assault on minors. This ruling was made, as well, based on the evidence. During the trial, many different issues came into play. Things were discussed, both in the media and even in the trial, regarding religion, cults and polygamy. The trial, though, was over the question of if Jeffs had sexually assaulted two young girls. He was found guilty based on the evidence, not based on the cult he led or the fact that they practiced polygamy. Polygamy is not what is to blame for his horrific behavior. When Jeffs was found guilty, the reaction that most struck me as problematic was the vast number of people who commented that they wanted to see Jeffs raped in prison. They said things like, “Bubba will take care of him,” and “well, he’ll get what he deserves, we all know what happens to child rapists in prison.” Essentially, these kind of comments acknowledge a serious problem in our prison system and use it as if it should be a correct and lawful method of punishment for those who go to prison. Prison rape happens. It isn’t just people guilty of sex crimes who experience it, it isn’t just people who are bad who have to endure it. It is a terrible flaw in our criminal justice system that we are unable to keep people safe while we attempt to rehabilitate them and/or their peers. Yet, we’re so used to this flaw that people have forgotten to see it as a flaw and would, instead, prefer to use it as if it is a part of our penal system.
I’m a fan of our judicial system doing their jobs in these two cases. I’m glad the proper decisions were made. I’m not, however, happy with people’s reactions to the cases. This kind of vindictive behavior is something we need to be wary of, in ourselves and others. How can we expect peace of we set our focus on irrational punishments? How can we make the world a better place if we don’t stop and think about what processes must come into play when there is a problem to address (like a criminal accusation). Vindictiveness, in these cases, does very little to bring us closer to a better society – it does nothing at all to help the victims or to help protect us.
Yes, you read that right. I am going to, in a way, defend Ted Haggard. Sort of. He is still culpable for all of the distress he caused himself, his family, his congregation, and everyone else. But there may be more at work here. What I’d really like to do is try to answer a few simple questions. Whenever a popular anti-gay activist is exposed as obviously gay a few questions come up: How can he be gay and married? Isn’t homosexuality a choice? Why are so many people turning gay these days? Let me take a crack at it.
First things first. A man who is attracted to, or has sex with, men is a gay man. Or at least a bisexual. There really isn’t anything else to it. A bisexual can very easily be married to a member of the opposite sex – for a strictly gay man it is harder. But if you live in a community that believes that the gay is the work of Satan, you are going to have to adapt or leave. For men like Haggard, perhaps leaving isn’t an option. How hard is it to marry someone you don’t love? Ask most married people. But this is an easy question, I think. The harder question is next. Why are men like this convinced homosexuality is a choice if they (apparently) didn’t choose it?
I lied, this is dead simple. They’re gay. Sure, you knew this already but they didn’t! They grew up in a culture that believes that homosexuality is a desire sent to them by Satan. What’s more, they think it happens to everyone! Straight men, let me ask you a question. Do you wrestle with homosexual desires? Of course not, you’re not gay. This is the disconnect everyone forgets about. Most men don’t wrestle with homosexuality because they aren’t gay. This is the simple answer no one ever thinks of. Anti-gay leaders think homosexuality is a choice everyone needs to make because they are gay. And not just living in the closet, but a bathroom stall like Larry Craig.
But why are there so many of them? Well, this is another easy answer. Gay people are everywhere. But you thought it was only 10%? Remember something important: to determine the number of gays and bisexuals, they must self report. Is a guy like Ted Haggard going to self identify? Of course not. But he’s still gay. Or bi. There aren’t any more gay people now. We have always been here. But we’re not afraid to say so anymore. At least not those of us who aren’t living under the heel of some absurd fairy tale.
To sum up, if you are anti-gay and struggling with homosexuality, you aren’t going through something everyone goes through. You’re gay. I used the masculine pronoun here both because it’s mostly men who get caught and because it saves me on typing. But switch the pronouns and change gay to lesbian and it’s still true. Ted Haggard is still at fault, but so is the absurd religion that allows people to bully and intimidate others into becoming complete assholes. If you’re gay, it isn’t Satan’s fault or the fault of anyone else. You’re just gay and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Andrew Gould (aka. arthwollipot) and I will be your host for this blog. I am a humanist and a skeptic, having been through both Pentecostal Christian and Neo-pagan phases in my youth. However, I finally discovered science and cut my skeptical teeth debating with creationists on a number of forums, now sadly defunct. I have been a member in good standing of the JREF Forums since 2005, at times acting as a moderator. I have been host or co-host of the Nonsense and Rational Capital podcasts, and had occasional contributions on The Pod Delusion. I have also made a few posts on this very blog.
Why am I telling you this? Well, Jeff Wagg has recently found that he no longer has the time to maintain Indie Skeptics the way it was intended. So, a couple of weeks ago, I offered to take over. That’s right, we’re back in business! Any existing or new contributors are more than welcome to submit new content – there will be no change in the stated editorial policy – I will post anything that doesn’t break any laws without editing beyond spelling and grammar. You can log on to the site and submit draft pages if you know how, or you can just email your contributions straight to me. Let’s get this thing going again!
Furthermore, I did mention above that I have some podcasting experience. I have proposed to produce a podcast based on this blog. For more information, see the Indie Skeptics Podcast page – all details on becoming a contributor are there. I’m going to be looking for contributors in the next few weeks, so break out those microphones!
So that’s me – I’m eagerly anticipating your future contributions to this blog and to the podcast.
If water has memory, why doesn’t it remember all the poo?
The simple answer, that any homeopath should be able to tell you, is that the poo hasn’t been succussed. Succussion is the method by which a homeopathic remedy is ‘potentised’ – ie. it acquires the ‘memory’ of whatever it is that is being diluted. You can dilute something as much as you like, but unless it is potentised, it won’t have any effect. Well, that’s what the homeopaths claim, anyway.
There are enough problems with homeopathy without us having to make stuff up about it. continue reading…
I am currently looking for a new job. With the search comes some standard scams, one of which I will illustrate below. I have received quite a few but I decided to post this one because it was subtle and fairly well composed. My comments will be inserted within brackets.
How are you Brian it is wonderful to hear from you.
[This is better than most already. Though the e-mail is in English and spelled correctly, it is grammatically incorrect.]
I appreciate you e-mailing us. In case the posting was not clear, the responsibilities of this position are as follows: you will be answering the phone and taking messages whenever applicable, you will be scheduling the company meetings, and running errands for the company for things such as purchasing supplies and making bank deposits (you will be provided with a company car). While you are running errands, you will also be given one of our company credit card(s)
for all business purchases.
[I admit, at this point I was cautiously excited. If this job were real, I think I might like it. Considering I had applied for a simple customer service job though, I was a bit suspicious.] continue reading…
I genuinely applaud the enthusiasm you have shown in the article calling for more open wifi routers. Many of your sentiments I share. However there’s one huge problem I see with gaining wide-scale public support in this endeavour.
Objections based on bandwidth sharing aside (I don’t personally care if others use my connection on a bandwidth basis, I can throttle/traffic shape my routers), the big issue I see is the FBI knocking down doors and confiscating equipment and rarely if ever returning it while also inflicting a huge cost on the accused both in money and time with no guarantees of vindication in the event of innocence. continue reading…
Skepticism and ethics are related concepts, but just what is the relationship of one to the other? In order to foster discussion on this topic, some members of the skeptic community (who wish to remain anonymous for the time being) have created a new blog and a contest. The site is called Skepticism and Ethics, and they’re hoping for some down-to-earth honest discussion about the ethical responsibilities of considering yourself a skeptic.
I find this concept fascinating, because to me… skepticism demands ethics. And yet when I sit down and enumerate the two, I don’t find any specific overlap. There are certainly skeptics who are unethical (con-men) and I know that many non-skeptical people behave ethically. And yet skepticism has always seemed closely related to ethics in my mind. continue reading…
A couple weeks ago, after going on a trip with a group of skeptic friends, I posted several pictures of the vacation on a picture-hosting site I use. After posting the pictures, I received a comment from someone about my appearance in a swimsuit. I am well aware that it wasn’t a flattering picture, but it was a fun scene with my friends. Even though I considered the source – who will remain anonymous – it still made me sad and a little embarrassed. Like many people in the online skeptic group, I get “Mabused” on a regular basis. It goes with the territory, and you need a thick skin.
I normally do not post much of a personal nature – I don’t mention every time I go out of town, I don’t tweet about everything I eat (unless I have a really cool or unusual meal, then I post a picture), I don’t use Foursquare. Most of my tweets are news stories I think will be interesting to my friends. Although I’m not a big user of Facebook, other than to converse with my friends and family, I have friended people involved in the skeptical community.
Last year, I wrote a blog post on this site “A Bigger Tent” about the need for our community to not make assumptions about the political or religious beliefs of people who attending TAM or other functions. A close friend of mine reviewed it, and asked that I make sure I didn’t mention his name in relationship to atheism. Clients and business associates don’t always take kindly to Godless Infidels in the South and Midwest. continue reading…
After thirteen years, I can’t say that I’m a fan of Bolingbrook, IL Mayor Roger Claar. He built a million dollar campaign funded in part by companies that do business with the village. The village trustees are members of his political party, and rarely, if ever vote against him. His supporters run or strongly influence the local governmental bodies. He has dominated local political since the 1990s, and ran unopposed for most of his 24 years as mayor.
He’s also responsible for three very controversial projects. The village bought Clow Airport, in 2004, and it has yet to break even. He approved construction of a luxury golf club that opened in 2002, and a high end subdivision. The golf course has only made money once, and The subdivision consists of McMansions, surrounded by empty lots. These projects are one of the major reason the village is millions in debt.