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Fault Line: Why Pat Robertson and his boosters are either ignorant, racist, or both. PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:44

It was heartening to see the hand-wringing of the world’s religious apologists in response to the unfolding Haitian tragedy of the last two weeks: It meant that the believers still have the capacity to ask questions when the situation demands. More heartening still was the swiftness with which that behavior ceased. There were perhaps five or six days when it seemed every news organ in the universe felt compelled to address the role a deity might have played, or failed to play, in the earthquake and its aftermath. Then sleeves were rolled up, and the most bizarre plurality of people — basketball players, Reese Witherspoon, the hapless Pat Robertson — set about doing the good work no deity has yet attempted. (It has been suggested, here and there, that the human response was “God’s” work. If so, “God” isn’t very discriminating in choosing His implements.)

For the believers themselves, the hand-wringing may, in retrospect, prove at least a little embarrassing. Their sophistry had the look and feel of hasty improvisation. As Randi’s article about Bishop Sentamu of York demonstrated, serious tragedy has the ability to turn even the most erudite believers into little children. (Unless I am very much mistaken, Semantu’s argument was that the Christian god allows earthquakes to occur specifically so he may share in our suffering, thereby enjoying a bonding moment with his creatures. Counselors who work with battered women might have something to say about that relationship dynamic.) But that’s okay. Stress brings out the worst in plenty of people, and Bishop Semantu seems like an otherwise good guy. Perhaps the decent thing would be to let go of last week’s sillier theological questions and pious proclamations, and to write off Pat Robertson’s hateful early stance on the tragedy as a product of senile dementia. I’d like to — especially since I’m on vacation right now, and find thoughts of Pat Robertson inclement to the pursuit of R&R — but I can’t, quite, until someone points out two obvious facts. (Missed by both Robertson's critics and the small few who actually defended his stance.)

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Last Week In Science-Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Newsflash
Written by Harriet Hall, MD, The SkepDoc   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:22

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.

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For Good Reason with D.J. Grothe Premiers PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Monday, 25 January 2010 16:35

D.J. Grothe, host of the weekly radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry for the last four years, has launched a new podcast in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation. Each episode of the new show will feature long-form interviews with leading thinkers on issues at the intersection of skepticism and belief. For Good Reason will also feature regular audio essays by acclaimed magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, The Honest Liar. Grothe's podcast compliments the format of the popular Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, which is also produced in association with the JREF.

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FURTHER SUPPORT OF QUACKERY EXPRESSED! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Sunday, 24 January 2010 21:22

Concerning the current ADE-651 dowsing-rod brouhaha in which the “inventor” and manufacturer James McCormick was arrested and then released on bail, BBC news has just quoted a senior Iraqi interior ministry official, Assistant Deputy Minister General Tareq al-Asl, as stating:

The reason the director of the company [James MCormick] was arrested was not because the device doesn't work, but because he refused to divulge the secret of how it works to the British authorities, and the Americans before them.

Well, I don’t think so.

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THE IDIOT'S TALE PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 10:59

I give you here a transcript I prepared of an exchange between a BBC commentator and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. It was sent to us by our UK friend Ian Rowland. I present it verbatim, with the bad grammar, wrong verb tenses, and the uncertain umms and ahhs of the actual interview. You may listen to the audio here. (Scroll down to minute number 0831.) The archbishop’s responses are so infuriating, disconnected, vapid, meandering and evasive, that he sounds like a child — an uninformed one. If this is the best that the Church can do, I suggest that they stick to Bingo…

Just as we post this, it seems that God sent Haiti another earthquake, strength 6.1, as his reminder that he has a sense of humor. Very funny, you capricious, malicious, merciless, vengeful, egomaniacal deity… But I’ll let your quavering servant Sentamu speak for you.

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