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Nov. 30th, 2006

Atheism

Reason NOT to believe.

I hate phony psychics.

I really, really do. I think they are like vultures, picking the corpses of people who are sad and upset. They take advantage of people's desires to believe that they'll see their loved ones again, claiming false "messages" from them. They even "help" police investigations, all that despite having no greater a success rate at doing so than blind chance.

This video, which I recently saw, sums it all up plain as day:

Sylvia Browne on Montel

Read through the comments on YouTube and you'll see so many people who REALLY want to believe in Sylvia Browne's "abilities," despite these "abilities" being limited to run-of-the-mill charlatanism and a per-hour consultation rate higher than most doctors. You'll also find many skeptics, not all of whom are as polite as I am at this, my least polite.

Even if you believe in an afterlife, there are better people to talk to than so-called psychics. There are priests and pastors who won't charge you money (other than the tithe/collection plate, that is) and, despite my disagreements with the assertions of their faith, most of them are earnest, decent people who can really help people of faith cope. There are also counselors, psychologists, therapists, and social workers who are not terribly expensive and can actually promote reasonable healing practices. The worst option is to rely on someone who charges a lot and only tells you what you want to hear, relying on false methods and taking advantage of your willingness to believe the impossible.

Our brains are hard-wired to form patterns and make connections about things in the world. We learn, but we also collect beliefs based on other people's knowledge. When we are vulnerable, these in-born mechanisms can be tricked into creating the wrong pattern, or can be taken for a ride by someone unscrupled enough (or deluded enough) to manipulate us. As such, it is unlikely that carrion fowl like Ms. Browne and her ilk will ever be totally discredited. All we can do is spread the word that, whatever else you may believe, believing in frauds is bad for the heart and for the pocketbook. Maybe we can keep these liars to the fringes instead of keeping them wealthy and well-fed on our tears.

(thanks to Rebecca at Skepchick and Robert at Stop Sylvia Browne for the info and (infuriating) inspiration)

Nov. 5th, 2006

Atheism

A Set-Up For a Fall

If you follow the news, or at least that which is presented as such by our major news outlets, you've no doubt heard about the recent controversy surrounding Pastor Ted Haggard. Haggard is a Born-Again Christian, formerly the head of the National Association of Evangelicals and the founder of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. New Life is a mega-church with membership in the tens of thousands.

Rant to follow...Collapse )

Oct. 25th, 2006

Tyger

What if...

...the Superfriends were in Office Space?

(For any of you who read Fark this might be old news, but I almost peed ALL UP IN my pants when I saw this, so I thought I'd post anyways.)
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