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As noted at Shakesville, Halloween is great time of year to watch all the conservative christian projection going on.

“They whinge incessantly, with precious little evidence (that is, none), about how pro-choice advocates lie and fearmonger to try to talk pregnant women into abortions, but then they celebrate Halloween with Hell Houses, which are nothing but mendacious fearmonging on steroids.”

Child-targeted religious mendacity.  The lengths people will go through to get one to believe in their particular bogyman.   Appalling. :(

I am going to use the discussion points found on RichardDawkins.net as the basis of this feature.

Calilasseia is the author of the post and deserves many rich accolades for assembling so much useful information in one spot. This constitutes an open thread of sorts, please leave your opinions and observations in the comment section.

Enjoy!

The asinine “were you there?” canard.

This canard is particularly loathed here, not only because it is about as palsied and cretinous a canard as it’s possible to erect, but because it is also manifestly dishonest. Dishonest because of the inherent double standard that supernaturalists in general, and creationists in particular, adopt when deploying this canard. Namely, that they think it is perfectly legitimate to hand-wave away massive amounts of hard evidence from observational reality using this duplicitous rhetorical device, yet expect the critical thinkers to accept without question the unsupported blind assertions of their mythology, which makes fantastic claims about the past history of the universe that by definition were not only unobserved, but impossible to verify empirically because those claims involve magic. If you think that this double standard is legitimate, be prepared to have your discoursive dishonesty subject to withering critical scrutiny.

Now, having dealt with the dishonesty at the heart of this canard, I’ll deal with why it is asinine. This canard is beneath deserving of a point of view for one simple reason. Physical processes leave behind them physical evidence of their having taken place. This is a basic scientific fact, one that science has relied upon for 300 years in order to make sense of the real world, and denial of this basic fact once again merely demonstrates that you are more interested in propping up a doctrine than learning about the real world. Furthermore, physical evidence of the occurrence of particular processes is frequently persistent, which means that said evidence remains in place for a long period of time, including periods of time that are orders of magnitude greater than that asserted to have existed by your ideology. Once again, scientists, and those here who accept the results of the diligent labours of those scientists, aren’t interested in doctrinal assertions, they are interested in reality, and if reality sticks the middle finger to doctrinal assertions, tough.

That physical processes leave behind them evidence of their having taken place, and that said evidence is persistent enough to await our attention, are basic principles that are relied upon by branches of science as diverse as geology and forensics, and if you want to assert that those principles are false, good luck with this, given the massive amount of evidence supporting those basic principles. As a corollary of this, if you erect the “were you there” nonsense in a thread, you will be in no position to complain when the critical thinkers subject the combination of scientific ignorance and discoursive mendacity inherent in this canard to withering attention.

Indeed, in order to deal with a particularly retarded variant of this argument, I’ll state another elementary principle applicable to the refutation of this cretinous piece of creationist apologetic fabrication. Namely that physical phenomena exist independently of our observing or measuring them. And, since those independently existing physical phenomena leave behind them physical evidence of their having taken place, which we can alight upon at any time provided the evidence is persistent enough, this palsied, encephalitic canard should now be well and truly dead with a stake through its heart.

This is a rather tragic story of a young woman who fell into an structural blindspot of the correctional system of Canada.  Because her behaviours were so extreme, she was passed around from institution to institution, always segregated and alone with herself, often 23 hours a day.

Home for 23 hours a day?

“The death of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old woman from New Brunswick who died of asphyxia in an Ontario prison cell while guards watched, was likely an accident, not a suicide, according to a report from a psychologist retained by the Correctional Service of Canada.  Smith was in solitary confinement — and on suicide watch — when she strangled herself with a piece of cloth in October 2007 at the Grand Valley Institute for Women, a federal prison in Kitchener, Ont.”

Ashley was escalating her self-harming behaviour.  The guards had been instructed not to intervene until she had stopped breathing, and they did not.  A sad end for a youth with serious mental health issues.

“Smith had been transferred 17 times in the final year of her life, and spent most days in isolation, shackled and handcuffed.”

Corrections Canada shuffled her around to avoid broaching the 60 day isolation cell limit.  In each new institution the 60 day clock was reset allowing her isolation to continue.  When you strip out hope and human contact nothing good can come, Ashley’s diary reflects her misery:
“If I die then I will never have to worry about upsetting my Mom again… It would have been nice today to stick my head in the lawn mower blade. F***, I really did have to hold back the urge. Maybe the next time I will give it a try.

Most people are scared to die. It can’t be any worse then living a life like mine. Being dead I think would just suit me fine. I wonder when the best time to do it would be. I’m not going to get locked because then I’m back on checks and they will expect me to act up then. I will call my Mom before bed and have one more chat. Somehow I have to let her know that none of this is her fault. I don’t know why I’m like I am but I know she didn’t do it to me. People say there is nothing wrong with me. Honestly I think they need to F***off because they don’t know what goes on in my head. When I use to try to hang myself I was just messing around trying to make them care and pay attention. Now it’s different. I want them to f***off and leave me alone. It’s no longer a joke. It kind of scares to think that they might catch me before it’s done and then I will be a vegetable for the rest of my life. That’s why the most important thing right now is to stay unlocked so they don’t think anything is up. It’s over.

Maybe I will use a brand new pair of socks. Fresh for me. No I don’t f***ing deserve a new pair of socks. I will use the old dirty ugly ones. Ha Ha that kind of explains me. Dirty and ugly. Two peas in a pot (sic). F*** THIS WORLD!!! Ha Ha. When [name omitted] told me she took me off fifteen minute checks I almost s**t myself. Can she help me anymore. I should ask her for a razor blade. Maybe she will give me that to. Joke of the day. Ashley Smith is no longer on checks. 12345 what the F*** is the point of being alive…. I can’t have another apartment visit because I’m f***ing DEAD! I want to die. I went to court yesterday and I though he was going to send me to adult! Time is running out. My chances are getting fewer and fewer. F***. I give up! I’m done trying.”

[Excerpt, Ashley Smith journal entry (September 4, 2006) New Brunswick Youth Centre]

This is an extreme case, but needs to brought into the public light so people can better understand what is being done on the correctional side of things.  Society needs to realized that more prisons and more guards are not the answer, but rather the front end social programs that help people when they are in need and help get them established in society.

 

This video on Stephen Hawking also carried another message about the state of American society.  It would seem by the way he phrases his final question, that a lot of people actually believe that god(s) created the Universe.  It is shocking to see the evidence of the depth of the religion delusion and how tightly it has people in its grip.

Still a good vid, but the implications are depressing.

Do we really need to follow this particular mode of thought?

The idea that ideology as opposed to reality being in the drivers seat when it comes to decisions that the Federal Conservative government makes is scary.  Since when did making policy based on fact become sacrosanct?  Did Steven Harper need his own noun to make war on?  I propose we give Steve his war, let us call it the “The War on Evidence“.

It certainly seems to be a war with recent policy decisions that are based on what seems to be the zany ideas Harper pulls out of his ass.  Cancelling the long form census is the most notable example of policy that seems to have come out of deep right field.   I mean the Census is the tool we use to gather data about our country and are people; lets get rid of it?  The notion that the mandatory long form census is some sort of violation of privacy rights is clearly absurd.  People have lost more private information on facebook in one day than the ‘intrusion’ the long form census presents.

How are we to make rational policy decisions without data? The canaries are already chirping a warning on this topic:

“OTTAWA – The union representing federal scientists says “confusing policy decisions” highlight the need for evidence-based decision-making in Ottawa.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the work done by government science researchers.

Union president Gary Corbett says the Harper government’s controversial decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census is an example of a long-term trend in devaluing government-funded research.

Corbett says program review and departmental budget pressures are putting the squeeze on federal scientists who are also muzzled by a restrictive communications policy from sharing their research with the public.”

Our government is waltzing away from reality and no one seems to really give a damn.  At least not yet.

“The Conservative government has come under repeated attack for shelving or ignoring research from its own bureaucracy on issues such as climate change and criminal justice policy.”

The entire unreported crime fiasco looms large but largely unnoticed by our recalcitrant media.  We are set to build new prisons for theoretical crimes and theoretical prisoners.  All of this despite the fact that we know that building more prisons is clearly not the answer.   Since when did doing things we know are wrong become policy choice #1?

Cynically speaking, I would chalk the systematic ignorance and neglect of science and evidence as a structured part of Conservative policy.  Why?  Because much of what they support is bug-frakking crazy and faced with evidence and fact that tells them and everyone else so is not particularly good PR.  The solution?  Move closer to reality and evidence based policy?  Hell no!  Lets muzzle and undermine scientists and science so we can pass our wack-a-loon policy with no hindrance from reality.

The pit of human despair known as Haiti just got a little bleaker.  Cholera, a result of the non-existent sanitation and waste disposal is becoming more widespread.

“An outbreak of cholera is worsening in Haiti, and moving closer to the country’s earthquake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.As of the most recent reports on Saturday evening, the disease has killed at least 208 people and sickened another 2,674.

There are concerns tens of thousands of people made homeless by January’s earthquake could be at risk.”

Haiti has return to the memory hole, resurfacing only recently as more grim news besets the population.

“If the epidemic makes its way to Port-au-Prince, where children and families are living in unsanitary, overcrowded camps, the results could be disastrous,” said Dr. Estrella Serrano, World Vision’s emergency response health and nutrition manager.
What the West needs to do is immediately negate any debt owed to them.  France, Canada and the US are all partially responsible for the wretched state Haiti is in.  Consider small portion of the historical record (from the comments section of the CBC article):
“69% of Haitians voted for Aristide. Then the elites together with American and Canadian governments ensured that he was maligned and then whisked off to Central African Republic in the middle of the night. 

Why? Because he actually wanted to help the huge poor majority with radical things like increasing minimum wage and organizing better housing. Not so good for profits if you are an American garment maker. Dangerous stuff if you are a wealthy Haitian enriched by the status quo.”

We broke it, we need to fix it.  Debt forgiveness would be only the first step.
For a detailed breakdown of the relief effort in Haiti please see the Wiki article. – H/T tildeb.

 

It is nice to see a video not made by the fetus-fetish crowd.  Who thought that bodily autonomy for women would be such a radical idea?

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