Put up or shut up

All you freaks who believe in the paranormal, all you have to do is prove it, in the James Randi Educational Foundation’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and you’ll get a million bucks.

At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.

No takers so far. That’s so odd.

Put up or shut up

Bush fails to kill PBS and NPR

House protects public broadcasting

The House on Wednesday evening overwhelmingly rejected President Bush’s plan to eliminate the $420 million federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The 357-72 vote demonstrated the enduring political strength of public broadcasting. The outcome was never in doubt, unlike a fight two years ago when Republicans tried but failed to slash public broadcasting subsidies.

So far, anyway. Never underestimate the will of the Republicans to work against good things.

Bush fails to kill PBS and NPR

Christianity vs. Islam

This article, The New New Atheism, is wrong in a whole bunch of ways. But this paragraph, to me, is particularly unsupported:

Playing into the anger and enmities that debase our politics today, the new new atheism blurs the deep commitment to the freedom and equality of individuals that binds atheists and believers in America. At the same time, by treating all religion as one great evil pathology, today’s bestselling atheists suppress crucial distinctions between the forms of faith embraced by the vast majority of American citizens and the militant Islam that at this very moment is pledged to America’s destruction.

So these “crucial distinctions” — what are they? I am no fan of Islam, but the notion that it supports terrorism is nonsense. It’s that same old backwards thinking: while many “terrorists” may be Muslim, most Muslims are not terrorists. Furthermore, Christianity has terrorized the world in the past and, IMHO, continues to this day, by fighting against birth control, stem cell research, women’s rights, gay rights, etc, etc, etc.

Look, I know, there are many, many, many fine, smart Christian people who agree with me on politics and science. But the notion that Christianity is “better” than Islam is far from proven.

I’ll leave to my more eloquent colleagues the task of ripping apart the other inane arguments in this article.

Christianity vs. Islam

Atheists have picnics, too

Whatcha doing tomorrow? Stop by the Minnesota Atheists Summer Picnic.

I may stop by. Usually I find atheists to be incredibly smart, funny and genuine people. I pretty much think that the more atheists we have, the better. I totally believe in your right to believe in silly, ancient mythologies. I don’t think it is correlated in the slightest with morality. Yes, religious institutions do a lot of good in the world, but they also do a lot of bad. On balance, I think that we would be better off without it.

You’ll note, perhaps, that this post is listed under politics. That is because the important part about this stuff is not what you do in the privacy of your room or your church. It’s what you do in the public space, with our laws and our elections.

This is what bothers people like Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and myself: the notion that religious ideas are supposed to be “respected” in arguments about politics or science. I do respect your right to your religion. I do not respect your right to introduce completely subjective mythologies into the debate. Nor do I approve of litmus tests for electoral candidates based on these completely subjective mythologies.

Religion would be fine except that it teaches us that all completely unjustified beliefs should be respected and accepted. They shouldn’t be. What internal rationales you use to reach your opinions is your business, but when it comes to the public debate arguments will all be held to the same scrutiny. Religious ones do not get a free pass.

So throw down those chains of silly superstitions and come have a hotdog.

Atheists have picnics, too

Immorality in the White House

micadelic completely fucked up and said:

And while I’m here… Bush just commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence. Good for him, that’s the first good thing he’s done in a while by my reckoning. That’s a little “amnesty” that I can live with.

First of all, let me take on the “Clinton pardoned Marc Rich” bullshit. When Clinton did that, I was appalled. The Right Wing, of course, went completely nuts. No one though that was a good thing. Let me repeat: I was appalled. I thought it was a horrible decision by Clinton and shady as hell. So, apparently, did the Republicans.

Now we have a similar situation AND MY VIEWS HAVE NOT CHANGED. I think that Bush’s interference with this case is absolutely appalling and shady as hell. The White House (read: Cheney) basically said: “Go on boys, lie your ass off and if you get caught we’ll just pardon you!”.

So, the Righties should be justifiably appalled at this situation, right? I mean, law and order and high crimes and all of that, right?

Fuck no. Instead they defend Bush, claim that the crime is minor and the punishment too harsh. Yet, they impeached Clinton for the same thing.

This is my core point: the Right are a bunch of pussies who flip-flop on the issues so that they are always right, no matter what, and the Left always wrong. Impeachable if it is our guy, no big deal if it is their guy.

What a bunch of ridiculous crap. There is exactly one reason why Bush interfered on Libby’s behalf — cronyism.

Immorality in the White House