Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.


Sep 7th, 2011 8:28 am | By

Out of the closet at last.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A whole future spread out before me

Sep 6th, 2011 5:52 pm | By

There are a lot of them – which is good, because it means some escape, but bad, because it means this is happening to a lot of people. There’s Sierra at Non-prophet Message. She is amusing on the subject of Jezebel and makeup and faking it.

 Shaping your eyebrows can go a long way towards that neat, meticulous, hyperfeminine look that screams, “I read my Bible so much, my eyebrows shape themselves!”

When she finally went to school – which was a community college – she discovered that she had a brain.

I turned in my final math exam with the lightest heart I’d felt since I was a little child, since before I’d ever heard of the Message or William Branham. I felt like a little girl again, with a whole future spread out before me for the taking. “I want to be an astronaut and an archaeologist,” the small child in my head whispered. “I want to write a book, travel the world and swim with dolphins. I want to do everything when I grow up.”

Weeks later, the final grade came in. I’d passed the math course with an A.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Breaking a daughter

Sep 6th, 2011 3:36 pm | By

One way crazy religion is crazy is in putting massive pressure on people to distort their own natures and aptitudes and wants. The fancy name for this sadistic habit is “dying to self.” A “broken daughter” tells us what it feels like.

Some people don’t seem to bother that much, but it’s always been hard for me to be as selfless as I was expected to be. You see, I’m a very private, calm, introvert kind of person. Though I grew up in a big family, I always liked being alone. I’m not much of a team player, I prefer doing things all by myself. I didn’t hate having a big family where there was always somebody, quite the opposite, I loved it. But I always tried to make room for myself in some way. That didn’t mean that I wanted to do things I liked, it was more like just being by myself doing ANYTHING really. I hated washing dishes. I loved doing it alone. I didn’t like vacuuming. It was ok as long as I was alone. Everything I didn’t like in a group I usually liked if I could just do it by myself. I treasured the quiet moments, though my hands were busy, my mind was free to wander, not occupied by yet another conversation, prayer, training or anything like that.

In other words her brain wanted periods of rest. It’s perfectly natural and reasonable…but oh no, it’s not what Jesus would have done.

Now my Dad was eager to teach all of us, especially the girls, that dying to self is key to life and salvation. You weren’t allowed to do anything fun, you were asked to serve others every moment of your life. If you didn’t listen to him, he’d have a speech prepared. “It always about ME ME ME. Do you think Jesus was like that? Do you think he would have died on the cross for us if he cared about himself? NO! He would have hidden somewhere and lived happily ever after! He wasnt about ME. So why are YOU?” and so on. I felt really bad every time I heard that. I started wondering if Jesus could even love me if I kept acting like this. I tried to train myself. I didn’t allow myself to do things alone. When I had to wash dishes, I called one of my smaller sisters over to help me, to teach her to be a servant and a good housewife. How to keep things in order. When I was working in the garden, I asked my brothers to do boy stuff, like carrying the heavy water buckets for me. I desperately waited for God to reward my selflessness. I gave up what I liked in order to feel as good as the people who kept raving about how great it feels to be selfless, how God rewards you for it. But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel any different at all except that I was more stressed out than ever.

And for no good reason; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone while washing the dishes, but the patriarch had to fiddle and fidget for Jesus.

Right now, I’m sitting here in complete silence. I’m all alone, doing stuff by myself. I’m selfish. I’m detestable. I’m lost. And I like it. God is quiet, he doesn’t bother me with his voices anymore. I now will go into the kitchen and have a coffee in complete silence, closing my eyes and enjoying nothingness. And I know that God will still be quiet.

And no harm will be done to anyone. Free at last.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Sep 6th, 2011 12:31 pm | By

PZ wants help finding the right adjective for the title of his book…but I don’t think it can be done. I think The _______ Atheist is a boring title no matter what ________ turns out to be. I think this because I tried to think of something interesting and then I read other people’s attempts and there’s just no spark, no matter what. This tells me that the formula is a dud – at least, it’s a dud if they (the publishers) want a buyer-thrilling title, which of course they do.

The Something Atheist. I just don’t think there’s a word that can make that sound exciting.

Unless they go absurdist or something. The Ruritanian Atheist. The Pioneer Atheist.

Think of something. Something not boring.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Fully shit

Sep 6th, 2011 12:04 pm | By

The Vatican and equivocation…it’s always been a dab hand at it. Michael Nugent points out another example.

The most significant sentence in the Vatican’s response to the Irish Government about the Cloyne Report comes on the second-last page, just before the concluding remarks. It says: “From the foregoing considerations, it should be clear that the Holy See expects the Irish Bishops to cooperate with the civil authorities, to implement fully the norms of canon law and to ensure the full and impartial application of the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland.”

This sounds reasonable on the face of it. But it conceals a vital distinction that the Catholic Church has already used to mislead people in Ireland on the same issue. Look again carefully at the wording: the Bishops should implement “fully” the norms of canon law, and ensure the “full and impartial” application of the Church’s child safety norms. Yet when it comes to cooperating with the civil authorities, as opposed to the internal rules of the Church, the important word “fully” is missing.

Oh good god. But…it’s just an oversight, or a quirk of style. Isn’t it? No of course it fucking isn’t.

This missing word “fully” is the exact formulation that the Dublin Archdiocese used in 1997 to mislead people about its response to the sexual abuse of Marie Collins. When the priest who had abused Collins was convicted, the Archdiocese issued a press statement claiming that it had cooperated with police in relation to her complaint. Collins was upset by this and told her friend Father James Norman. Father Norman told police that he had asked the Archdiocese about the statement and the explanation he received was that “we never said we cooperated ‘fully’, placing emphasis on the word ‘fully’.”

Are you kidding me? Is the Vatican 5 years old? Is the Vatican a spoiled brat who just ate all the cake after promising not to? [bratty voice] – “We never said we cooperated ‘fully’” – oh well that’s all right then you petulant lying child-raping thugs. It’s enough to make you want to claw their faces off.

H/t PZ.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It is time you resigned as chairman of the universe

Sep 5th, 2011 4:44 pm | By

Here’s a pretty item from Michael Pearl -

A woman wrote to him about her devastation at a miscarriage.

Even now I have nightmares every night. I dream that my baby is crying and when I go to take care of him, I can’t find him. I look everywhere but I can’t find my baby. I have even woken up my husband asking him to help me find our baby. I have dreamed that my baby was beautiful and healthy. I would wake up deciding how my baby and I are going to spend the day and I realize that there is no baby.

He set her straight.

Your anger is based on the assumption that you know better than God what is best. Your child is now in the presence of God beholding the face of the Father (Matthew 18:10). “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:14). Your child will appear again in the Millennium as a child to be raised by someone—possibly you—to maturity, and so make a choice concerning the Savior. In reference to the Millennium the Bible says, “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof’’ (Zechariah 8:5). One of those playing children is your little one. Jesus held your child before your did. Are you angry at him for drawing this little one to himself? He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).

She wanted to have a baby, and Jesus decided he wanted that baby for his own self so he took it, and Michael Pearl scolds her for being unhappy with this arrangement.

 Like Job you need to be humbled and face the fact that your world has revolved around you. It is time you resigned as chairman of the universe and leave it to God to do a little “baby sitting” until you get there to take over for him. I am sure your baby is in the best of hands.

Christian compassion.

h/t to PaulG. (more…)

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Charlatans preying on the vulnerable

Sep 5th, 2011 11:08 am | By

Oh hey, a good idea.

Chanting to cure snakebites, claiming to be a reincarnated spouse to obtain sex, and charging for miracles could soon be banned by an Indian state seeking to stop charlatans preying on the vulnerable.

Many superstitions are widely held in India but a campaign group  is lobbying hard for a new law in the western state of Maharashtra  to outlaw several exploitative activities, with penalties of fines or up to seven years in jail.

But………not so fast, pardner.

But the push to pass the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication  of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil Practices and Black  Magic Bill has not received unanimous support.

Some Hindu nationalists fear the legislation seeks to move  beyond the excesses named in its title and might be used to curb cherished religious freedoms.

One right-wing association, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, called  it “a draconian law targeting faith”, denounced its proponents as  “atheists” and called for supporters to lobby assembly members to  oppose it and demand amendments.

Because only atheists have any problem with claiming to be a reincarnated spouse to obtain sex or charging money for “miracles”; decent normal respectable people think that’s a fine way to carry on.

Some critics, however, say the draft law does not go far enough and has been watered down since it was first mooted way back in 1995 due to protests from pro-Hindu groups.

“In my opinion the bill that has ultimately come into Maharashtra suggests nothing new. It doesn’t give anything  additional,” said Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association.

Concerns about the draft law’s impact on legitimate religious practices from Hindu nationalist groups such as the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have delayed its  passing.

A semi-good idea, endlessly delayed, that might become law, some day, perhaps.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Redacted v unredacted

Sep 5th, 2011 10:33 am | By

One WikiLeaks staffer says why he felt he had to leave.

The final straw for me came on Friday. By drawing attention to, and then publishing in full, the unredacted cache of documents, WikiLeaks has done the cause of internet freedom – and of whistleblowers – more harm than US government crackdowns ever could.

Before the first publication of carefully redacted cables, human rights activists, NGOs, and organisations working with victims of horrific crimes contacted WikiLeaks begging us to take steps not to publish any names. To be able to assure them details would be protected was an immeasurable relief.

These cables contain details of activists, opposition politicians, bloggers in autocratic regimes and their real identities, victims of crime and political coercion, and others driven by conscience to speak to the US government. They should never have had to fear being exposed by a self-proclaimed human rights organisation.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More Debbi Pearl

Sep 4th, 2011 5:38 pm | By

More from “how to be a really high-quality doormat for God.”

This past week the local Preparing class invited two older mothers to share their experiences in marriage. It was quite sobering, and some of the girls came away from class unnerved by the burdens of marriage. What the mothers wanted to convey to the girls was, “Learn now while you are young to honor your husbands. Learn patience to continue in your role as a Help Meet, and commit yourself to God now while you are young so you can avoid some of our trials and errors as we struggle to find our way.”

Great. The girls were “unnerved” by the prospect of lifelong slavery, and what “the mothers” want to convey to them was “learn now while you are young how to be a good obedient self-denying self-immolating slave to another human being who gets to be the boss of you because he has testicles.” Learn that you don’t matter; learn that your dreams and hopes and plans are just fluff inside your head; learn that you are never going to have a full life of your own, but only a share of someone else’s; learn that you have no rights, no authority, no power, no autonomy; learn that you have to put up with whatever is handed to you. Learn what it is to be an inferior.

Today’s culture, our own selfishness, and our lack of knowing God’s Word all play a part in making marriages miserable. What you learn as a young unmarried woman can change your life more completely than you can imagine. If you are wise you will learn to become a many colored girl. Don’t say to yourself, “I am a go-to girl and not a servant.” Rather say, “I am learning to be anything I need to be. I want to be a servant, I need to learn to lead and teach, and I will learn to be creative because my husband may need me to be all of these.” Practice being flexible in your likes and dislikes, how you feel about things, and what you hope to accomplish. Start striving to shape your life to help others, and hide God’s Words in your heart concerning becoming a wife. Lastly, make a written commitment to honor the man God provides for you.

What an absolute horror that is. Practice being flexible in your likes and dislikes, how you feel about things, and what you hope to accomplish - in other words just forget all about wanting anything, feeling about anything, and hoping anything; just prepare to do what you’re told for the rest of your sad diminished life.

That is such an outrageous thing to tell anyone. This terrible woman is telling all the women she can reach to obliterate themselves in this way. It’s evil. It’s not just mistaken, deluded, unfortunate – it’s a moral outrage.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Women are faint copies of men

Sep 4th, 2011 4:14 pm | By

Libby Anne’s parents always taught her that women and men are equal…sort of.

My parents taught me that men and women were different and had different roles to play, but that men and women and their roles were also equal and of equal worth. The male role is to provide for his family and protect them, to engage in politics and spiritual warfare, to have a career and make the decisions for his family. The female role is to keep the house and home, raise and teach her children, exercise hospitality and offer service to others, and support her husband. I was taught that these two roles are equally important and that men and women were thus different, but equal.

Except that, as she goes on to say, that’s bullshit. Just read Debbi Pearl, author of (I’m not making this up) Created To Be His Helpmeet and Preparing To Be A Helpmeet. Read her article “Learning To Become A Multi-Colored Girl.”

As Adam was created in God’s image, Eve was created in Adam’s image. God could have shaped two clay figures and breathed life into both, but he chose to take the woman from the man’s own flesh and bone. I have come to see that tiered process as very significant, making it consistent with nature that the woman should be the helper in the chain of command.

Oh it’s significant all right, and it’s very damn convenient. On the other hand, it’s not true. It’s a sentence in an old book. That’s all it is. It’s not even the only account of human origins in Genesis; there are two, which contradict each other. In Genesis 1:27 god creates humans “in his image”; male and female. In 2:22 god makes a woman out of a rib of the already created man. Pearl is treating the second as if it amplified the first instead of contradicting it – all for the sake of declaring her own inferiority, and ours and mine.

Libby Anne quotes more:

God did not create women as he did men, strongly fixed in one type or another. Being created in the image of man, we are more muted and flexible in our types.

More muted? More muted?  

That’s a truly extraordinary thing to say – it’s just an outright claim that there is less to us than there is to men. This of course is what a hell of a lot of people assume or pick up from the ether without realizing it; it must be, or the women in movies and tv shows and novels wouldn’t so often be non-entities compared to the men; but it’s an astounding thing to spell out.

Libby Anne goes through the whole thing, to excellent effect.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The fawning glitterati

Sep 3rd, 2011 6:14 pm | By

Terry Glavin doesn’t think much of Julian Assange.

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks archgeek, radical-chic avatar, the Chinese
Communist Party’s nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Michael Moore’s
joint-venturer, absconding debtor, American celebrity pornographer Larry Flynt’s fair-haired boy, darling of Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Bianca Jagger…

Lo, Assange hath now been found to have released more than 1,000 cables outing individual political activists – several thousand tagged as sources who could be placed in danger – and more than 150 cables outing whistleblowers, people persecuted by their governments, and victims of sex crimes.

Such is his courage in speaking truth to power that Assange had already prompted Zimbabwe’s chief executioner to set up a commission to pursue treason charges against the dissidents so bravely outed by Wikileaks. Assange had already equipped the Cuban regime with evidences to mount investigations of that poor country’s subversive youth. In the police state of Belarus, where hundreds of journalists and opposition activists were already languishing in prison, Assange’s official “gatekeeper,” a holocaust-denying antisemite, was happy to meet with officials of the regime after boasting of being in possession of documents proving ties between Belarussian democrats and the foul American imperialist aggressor.

But lots of people thought he was great anyway, until just a few days ago. Be careful whom you admire.

Update: But see also Glenn Greenwald and Spiegel Online.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Read this article

Sep 3rd, 2011 4:59 pm | By

In case you’ve missed it – I posted an article at Other B&W by the author of the Love, Joy, Feminism blog. It’s a must-read. She tells us what it’s like to grow up in the Patriarchal/Quiverfull world, and what it’s all about, and what it took away from her.

A wife and mother was all I wanted to be, because any dream of anything else was nipped in the bud before it ever took root. I truly believed that this was what God wanted of me, and that serving my family and raising my siblings was serving God. And I gloried in it.

That’s one of those philosophy thought experiments it’s interesting to puzzle over – if you think you’re happy, does it make any sense to say you’re wrong? If we could know that all Quiverfull children are blissfully happy, should we just leave them to it?

… by homeschooling us my parents could completely control what we learned. I studied from creationist textbooks and learned history from a curriculum that taught “His Story,”beginning with creation, Noah and the flood, and Abraham and his covenant with god, showing the hand of God moving through the six thousand years of the earth’s history. I never had anyone tell me to dream big, or to think outside the home, or that with my talent and intellect I could have a brilliant career. Everyone around me believed the way my parents did, including all of my friends, who, after all, were without exception children of my parents’ friends. They encouraged me in my steadfastness of belief and held me up as a paragon of virtue. Why would I desire anything else?



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A pox on compassion

Sep 3rd, 2011 11:43 am | By

Eric has a post on Christian interference and coercion with respect to assisted suicide. One aspect in particular hooked my attention.

Christians who are anti-choice-in-dying have been complaining for some time now that it’s not just about pain. In fact, they point out that of those in Oregon who choose assisted suicide very few are in intense pain. It is, they say, because of loss of independence, loss of dignity, loss of control that people choose to end their lives, not just because the pain is unrelenting and uncontrollable. And that is true. Choice in dying is not just about pain. It is about choice. It is to provide choice for people who do not want to go on living with the kinds of disabilities and distresses that make their lives no longer worth living — for them, not for others. It’s about individual life choices. And they are choosing only for themselves, not for others. It is about their sense of the worth and value of theirown lives, not about the lives of others. And Christians don’t want people to have that choice. They are determined, along with many of their Muslim and Jewish partners in crime, to make their will felt somewhere and by someone. Let it not be said that their influence does not stretch to some suffering person. They are still a vital force in society. Indeed, they say, they should be given a greater part to play in decisions regarding social policy, for religion is, after all, as the fatuous Karen Armstrong keeps repeating like a dripping faucet, about love and compassion, and about compassion and care for the sick and the dying especially. And they want someone left to have compassion on.

And that’s exactly what I don’t want, and I’m not the only one.

It’s pretty much the last refuge of the piously-inclined to say that slow miserable death provides a wonderful opportunity for compassion to roll up its sleeves and get to work. But here’s the thing: I don’t want compassion. I want to be in no need of compassion.

I don’t want to be helpless and dependent. It’s that simple. Being that way and getting lots of compassion doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse. It just underlines the helplessness and dependency.

Compassion is a very over-rated virtue. It’s good in emergencies, to motivate people to act, and that includes slow-motion emergencies like chronic poverty and underdevelopment and exploitation. But it’s lousy as a permanent fixture, and it’s nightmarish as a reason to keep people alive who would prefer to escape precisely the condition that is the object of compassion.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How to patronize the wimminz

Sep 2nd, 2011 5:16 pm | By

William Hamby has a rather annoying article on women in atheism. (The annoying quality is probably inevitable. We get tired of being written about. We get tired of men saying about women. That’s probably unfair; we’d probably get tired of men not saying, too; but all the same – it gets tiresome having men say about women.) He bases it, for some reason, on the elevator thing – and as G Felis points out, he does it rather snidely. He makes an arbitrary and unexplained distinction between “radical” and “mainstream” feminists that boils down to agree-with-Watson and disagree-with-Watson respectively, and I have to say that’s not consistent with usage over the past four decades or so. Agreeing with Watson or anyone that a man hitting on a woman in an enclosed space at 4 a.m. is not entirely civil is really not a very good definition of “radical” feminism. Feminism gets a whole fuckofa lot more radical than that.


I’ve found myself wanting to say something constructive about women in the atheist movement.  It pains me to see what religion does to women, and now that the  dust in the elevator shaft is settling, we seem no closer to the original  question.  If anyone happens to remember, we used to be very interested in  figuring out how to attract women to the atheist movement, and encourage them to  be actively and openly involved in secular causes.  Like practically every  other person in the “atheist movement,” I’d like to see more women at  conferences, more women on podiums, and more women getting involved in any way  they would like.  But what is there for this one male atheist to say that  hasn’t been said?

Nothing. That’s kind of where the annoyingness comes in. It can’t help sounding as if atheism belongs to men and they’re patronizingly inviting us to join in if we’d like. I know that’s not what Hamby intends, but it can’t help sounding like that. I’ve never thought of it that way. I guess that’s one of the advantages of doing one’s atheism via the internet: you don’t need anyone’s permission or invitation, you can just do it. (Well, in my case with masses of technical help, but that’s a completely different kind of thing from permission or invitation.) You can just do it, and then there you are doing it, and you don’t need men liking to see more people of your type doing it.

One of my favorite atheist bloggers, Greta Christina, has been saying it for months, and PZ Myers has been acting as a megaphone, spreading the meme  all over the internet.  “Listen to women.”  If you want to  know what women are interested in, and what will draw them into the atheist  movement, listen to them.  What bothered me about that approach,  however, was that the only women speaking loudly about women in the atheist  movement were… Rebecca Watson and her stump-mates.  And while their  opinions are certainly important, they are not representative of all women. I  know that because I’ve listened to a lot of women say so.

What? What? Where’s he been? Rebecca and her (what are stump-mates?) are not the only women talking about women in atheism; not even close. That’s no closer to true than the claim about who “radical” feminists are.

So then what he did is, he collected his atheist women Facebook friends and looked at their comments and did a table or something of what they were interested in – and what they’re interested in is politics, family and sex.

Based on my little survey in my little corner of the Facebook Universe, it  appears that we may not be on the best track if we continue stressing feminism  and gender politics.  Above all else, these atheist women are talking about  three things:  Traditional politics, family, and sex.  Not sex-roles,  or sexual politics.  Politics, family, and sex. The topics that get the  most female commentary are those which intersect at least two of these.

So that’s what atheism should be about more, so that it will attract more women. Not feminism and gender politics, but traditional politics, family and sex. Atheism should be less radical and weird, and more mainstream and normal, to attract those stupid boring conservative traditional women.

I hope nobody pays any attention to his advice.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Snipping around the edges

Sep 2nd, 2011 4:37 pm | By

Suzanne Moore is not persuaded by the new gang of anti-abortionists.

Now this new breed of anti-abortionists snip round the edges of the process with their strategies of delay … er, sorry, “independent counselling”. But beware their language of care. This is not about care but about control. This control absolutely depends on shame: sexual shame. This shame keeps us quiet. Shame keeps us locked into individual guilt. Shame even makes us stupidly grateful that we are allowed to have any choice at all.

This whole debate around counselling pivots on the idea of deep and private shame, positing the idea of counselling being used to sell an evil procedure. Women are always “vulnerable” dupes, never simply adults who have made decisions.

Sexual shame and worse – something more like witch-shame. A woman who doesn’t want to have what would be her own baby is some kind of terrifying violation of nature. Women don’t get to be just people, who can make choices; women are always a special case.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A thoroughly disreputable approach

Sep 2nd, 2011 3:45 pm | By

Oh honestly. Bad scientists, no cookie.

The editor of a science journal has resigned after admitting that a recent paper
casting doubt on man-made climate change should not have been published.

The paper was outside the journal’s field.

Publishing in “off-topic” journals is generally frowned on in scientific
circles, partly because editors may lack the specialist knowledge and contacts
needed to run a thorough peer review process.

“The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted…, a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

“In other words, the problem I see with the paper… is not that it declared
a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public
media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its

“This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I
perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.”

Mr Ward described the tactic of publishing in off-topic journals as a
“classic tactic” of scientists dismissive of man-made climate change.

“Those who recognise that their ideas are weak but seek to get them into the
literature by finding weaknesses in the peer review system are taking a
thoroughly disreputable approach,” he said.

How tacky is that?! They ignored the scientific arguments of their opponents and they submitted the article to an off-topic journal. Tacky tacky tacky – and the editor is falling on his sword.

Note the caption under the conspicuous picture of one of the authors.

Dr Spencer is a committed Christian as well as a professional scientist.

Zap. For once the BBC connects the dots.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Elsie Dinsmore

Sep 2nd, 2011 3:03 pm | By

Ever read any Elsie Dinsmore books? No, neither have I. I know the name, because it’s a byword for slushy pious Victorian dogoodery, though I don’t remember where – Little Women? Which is no slouch in the slushy pious Victorian dogoodery department itself, so maybe not. Mark Twain? Possibly.

They’re now big with the Incredibly Christian set. Rethinking Vision Forum is not impressed. But the part I really liked is from a comment there. The commenter read the first Elsie when she was a child and asked her mother what she thought of it.

“What a wet blanket.  That girl did nothing but cry all the time.  I think every page her eyes filled with tears and her tiny chest heaved with sobs.”  She started to laugh.  “Her tiny chest HEAVED with SOBS!”

I love her. My tiny chest HEAVED with LAUGHTER.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

He taught me critical thinking

Sep 2nd, 2011 11:24 am | By

Another escapee is Libby Anne. She gives a ten-part account of being a good child of Patriarchy and then of being turned around.

The childhood is by no means all horrible, even seen from the outside. Much of it is quite appealing.

I also enjoyed gardening. We always had large gardens, and we children did a great deal of the tending and weeding, sometimes waking at dawn in the summer months to weed before the summer heat. In addition to learning to garden, I found books at a homeschool convention about edible plants and medicinal herbs and set out to teach myself these important skills. I learned that dandelions could be eaten in salads, that plantain was good for mosquito bites, and that raspberry leaves made an excellent tea for pregnant women (such as my mother). I even tried to make flour out of clover. I loved walking through marshy areas or abandoned lots looking for plants that matched the pictures in my books, becoming excited at each new find. I knew that a proper wife should be able to forage for food and prepare herbal remedies, especially if the government collapsed and the country descended into anarchy as we always feared it would.

The proper wife bit and the descent into anarchy bit are a downer, but then that’s apparently what it was like: a mix of patriarchal doctrine and pleasantly industrious rural life.

But the patriarchal doctrine had some thorns even then.

My mother was constantly reading books like Me? Obey Him? as she strove to be a better, more submissive wife. This was difficult for my mother, for she was a very strong woman. I watched her war with herself as she tried to reconcile her strong spirit with the submission she believed in so steadfastly. I watched her cry over it, watched it eat away at her. My father, usually a reasonable man, became quite upset with my mother if he felt she was infringing on his authority. His most common response was to give her the silent treatment, and that was enough. In response, my mother generally first felt indignation and then blamed herself for not submitting enough and resolved again and again to do better. While my parents loved each other dearly, this tension added strain to their relationship, and I could see it.

The sad thing is that it’s an artificial strain, a worked up strain. A reasonable man has no need to think he has an authority that his wife shouldn’t infringe on. If both had thought of each other as partners and equals, they would still have disagreed about things, but without doctrinal anger or resentment or guilt. Nonsense about authority and submission is an extra element. It’s truly sad that people mess themselves up this way. It’s a disaster that they teach their children to do the same.

In addition to teaching me about theology, politics, and current events, my father taught me to think. He taught me critical thinking, and told me never to believe something just because someone says it, but to always question everything and follow truth wherever it leads. He taught me to never trust authority for authority’s sake and to never be afraid of truth. He taught me logic and how to recognize logical fallacies. Of course, the context of all this was learning to rebut worldly ideas and bogus concepts like global warming and evolution.

Not patriarchy or submission or god.

But then Libby Anne went to college…and as so often happens, the doors opened.

I began to have theological and political conversations with a number of non-Christians. I worked hard to show them the perfection of the Bible, the evidence of young earth creationism, the evils of abortion, and the love of God.

Strangely, I found a surprising number of my arguments rebutted by arguments I had never heard before. I was told that there were serious problems with creationism, ethical issues with the Bible, and more affective ways to decrease abortion than banning it. I turned to my resources, my books and websites on creationism, theology, and conservative politics, and I tried again. And again. And again. But some things just didn’t add up. I paused my arguments to do some serious research, and I was astounded by what I found.

An open door.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

My faith dispels any doubts

Sep 1st, 2011 4:40 pm | By

And by the way three cheers for female genital mutilation.

…some communities see the practice as an integral part of their culture. “I have two daughters and five nieces, all circumcised by doctors. I do not consider it a human rights violation because, according to our religious teachings, it has been divinely ordained. My faith dispels any doubts that some might put in my mind,” says Shaheen Abdullah.

Good old god! “He” designed us the way we are and then ordained that the females of us have to have our genitals chopped off. Why not just not include the genitals in the original package then? Why construct the thing only to ordain that it should be carved up and peeled away and stitched closed?

Human rights v divinely ordained – that’s what it keeps coming down to, time after time. “Divinely ordained” turns a stupid, brutal,  destructive mutilation into a good thing and “an integral part of their culture.” A pox on “divinely ordained.”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Get out

Sep 1st, 2011 4:14 pm | By

One woman escaped the “Quiverfull” nightmare. First she entered the trap -

I remarried, found a “bible-believing” church, and worked hard
within the Quiverfull counterculture to implement the best of the best biblical
family values into our home life.  I had six more children. I homebirthed,
homeschooled, and home-churched. I submitted to my husband and joyfully
sacrificed my time, energy and talents to build him up and help him to succeed.
I published a “pro-life, pro-family” Christian family newspaper to inform and
encourage other Christians to defend “Traditional Family Values.”

In 2003, we were honored as Family of the Year at the Nebraska Family
Council’s “Salt & Light” awards.

Then she noticed how bad it was -

…perpetual pregnancies destroyed my health, and my indiscriminate acquiescence to my husband’s every whim transformed him from a loving father into a tantrum-throwing tyrant. Burnout and disillusionment led to abuse, neglect, family disintegration and a particularly nasty divorce.

And then she got out, and stopped quivering.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)