Maybe I’m Comparing Apples and Oranges Here…


…but Gallop recently issued their survey on the most and least religious states in the good ol’ US of A, based on the frequency of church attendance. I wasn’t surprised to see Utah top the list (because Brigham Young will personally fly down from Kolob and punch you in the face if you don’t attend Temple), but I was surprised to see that the highest percentage was only 51%.

This top 10 list, of course, contains no surprises:

State %
Utah 51
Mississippi 47
Alabama 46
Louisiana 46
Arkansas 45
South Carolina 42
Tennessee 42
Kentucky 41
North Carolina 40
Georgia 39

Just missing the list are Texas, which is it’s own special brand of crazy and Oklahoma, which is currently in the process of trying to rewrite Advanced Placement history for high schoolers, to make America sound even more awesome.

It also goes without saying that of the 10 States, only 1 (Kentucky) isn’t Republican-led across the board; Governor, Upper and Lower Houses.

So, what else do these Top 10 GOP-led, most religious states have in common?

How about the poorest states in the country?

State Poverty Rate
Mississippi 24.1
New Mexico 22.0
Louisiana 19.8
Georgia 19.0
Washington DC 18.9
Kentucky 18.8
Alabama 18.7
Arizona 18.6
South Carolina 18.6
West Virginia 18.5

Six out of the 10 most religious states are also the poorest. None of them cracked the list of top 10 richest states.

When it comes to unemployment, we find most of the usual suspects right up there:

State Unemployment  %
Mississippi 7.2
California 7.0
Georgia 6.9
Nevada 6.8
Rhode Island 6.8
Arizona 6.7
Louisiana 6.7
Oregon 6.7
Tennessee 6.6
South Carolina 6.5
Connecticut 6.4

Of course, these religious states are all about being pro-life, and abstinence education, but guess which ones have the highest teen pregnancy rates:

1. New Mexico – 80/1,000
2. Mississippi – 76/1,000
3. Texas – 73/1,000
4. Arkansas – 73/1,000
5. Louisiana – 69/1,000
6. Oklahoma – 69/1,000
7. Nevada – 68/1,000
8. Delaware – 67/1,000
9. South Carolina – 65/1,000
10. Hawaii – 65/1,000

Once again the same old names keep cropping up.

Of course, I’m really just being ass and throwing numbers around, but you’d think that if these people were praying so hard, their god would be helping them along a bit more. Like he is the Mormons, so maybe Joseph Smith was onto something. Or maybe God’s punishing Mississippi, because those damn gays can get married in New York?

Posted in Conservatives, Republicans | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Teabagger guide to the Civil War…


…or something

So, to alleviate the pain of watching the Proteas getting thrashed by the Indians, I turned to my browser, and because I have a very strange definition of “alleviate pain,” I decided to browse that hive of wing-nuttery known as the Tea Party Community. For those of you not in the know, this is the Facebook-esque clone/rip-off/what-not those Americans that are slightly to the left of Hitler, and who think that Obama is the anti-Christ, coming to take away their guns and herd them into FEMA death any day now.

It was essentially created by people who were butt-hurt that their racist rants were constantly being taken down on Facebook… because they can’t seem to grasp that having the First Amendment right to spew racist bullshit doesn’t mean you can’t be held accountable for spouting racist bullshit. And in true libertarian style, they beg their 147,107 members (although this includes all dead accounts, because you can’t delete your account) every month for the $4,500 they need to keep going. And every month, the picture looks like this:

Tea_Party_Community_-_Tea_Party_Hub_-_2015-02-22_14.20.48Needless to say, there were tons of posts about Second Amendment rights, about how God defines marriage, how evil them Mooslems are, how the UN are going to use foreign troops to take away their guns, and how Scott Walker is next Great White Hope (no, really)… and then there was this:

snowI laughed. Slightly manically, I confess because by this time watching our cricket team getting smashed was a far more pleasing prospect than reading any more of this drivel.

And then I read the comments… dear goddess… why did I read the comments. I’ve posted samples below, because the screengrab is a bit large to post, but you can grab it in all its glory here, if you must:

  • blackyb b: Well, I suppose it is not as bad as thinking ‘global warming’ is happening when -12 degrees is going on and then panicking when it warms up enough to go swimming in the creek, or the ‘climateers’ thinking the end is near because it is mid summer and hot enough to sweat a bit. I am thinking that people thinking is overrated. Perhaps we need to watch the animals more. Animals can tell you a lot without a degree at some liberal college where professors teach anyone who is gay, black, or any religion othar than of that of those who founded this country is fine no matter their criminal background. They will give the impression that the founders of this country were totally ignorant in their beliefs and did not want present day ‘youth’ to have any fun. Liberals must have their fun at all costs. Nothing else matters in this world to them, but their smoozing and their fun.
  • Hal Smathers: Civil war? Do you mean the War of Northern Aggression?
  • Flash G: BINGO!!!!……..HAL!!!!….ge eeezzz….
  • Hal Smathers: It was about States rights.
  • Amos Elvis: Partly, but mostly the price of COTTON, not slavery.
  • Dale Kirkley: Y’all be careful now. Some liberals may see this and their little head may explode.
  • Joel James: Yes, and there was a double taxation on goods from the south, mainly cotton. It was also about how they counted the representation in congress, which allowed the north to have more votes on matters than the south per capita.
  • Joel James: I learned about it from historians in the sons of the CSA and local museums in Virginia and North Carolina. But then I truly became a believer when I was studying the journals of General Benjamin Butler, who was a Union officer and commandant of Fort Monroe when the war broke out.
  • Joel James: Hal, I wouldn’t be too hasty in declaring a winner with this one. The boys from the southern states just stopped shooting at the boys from the northern states.
  • Bill Knight: Abraham Lincoln was one of the worst presidents in history. No wonder Obama looks up to him. Both had/have a knack for wanting to trample people’s rights.
  • Arwen Undomiel: No worries, Joel. I promise I won’t let my kids be lied to by Southern revisionists.
  • Amos Elvis: Lincoln was a Tyrant!
  • J. J. Mooney: “I loved the old government in 1861. I loved the old Constitution yet. I think it is the best government in the world, if administered as it was before the war. I do not hate it; I am opposing now only the radical revolutionists who are trying to destroy it. I believe that party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst men on Gods earth-men who would not hesitate at no crime, and who have only one object in view-to enrich themselves.” — Nathan Bedford Forrest, in an interview shortly after the war.

The American Civil War… oh sorry, War of Northern Aggression. Nothing to do with emancipation at all.

No wonder these guys are so upset about that uppity Negro in the White House.

Posted in Teabagger | Tagged , | 7 Comments

The Plural of Anecdotes is not Data


I’ve had run-ins with anti-vaxxers before – ironically, the first big argument was with people I’d considered acquaintances, if not friends. We’d been to parties together, had drinks together, then suddenly, they lost their shit over a Facebook post of mine and that was that. I had attacked their sense of privilege and their smug ignorance (ok, I’d also called them idiots and that their little disease vectors were potentially infecting innocent people), but they clicked the “unfriend” button on Facebook and stomped off into the sunset.

Because if there’s one thing more intolerant, or resistant to pesky facts, or completely out of touch with reality, than a creationist, it’s an anti-vaxxer. And let’s face it, you can spread Creationism around Disneyland, and nobody gets hurt. These people, however, are a fucking menace to society.

So yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to the article where an immunologist takes down the dribbling idiot who complains that “if you injected mercury, ammonium phospat (sic) and formaldehyde with VIRUSES (!) you’d be arrested for abuse, but doctors can do it legally.” I just posted it, didn’t make any comment, let it speak for itself, and a couple of friends “liked” it. All was well in the world.

Then, from out of the blue – and from somebody I didn’t know, thankfully – comes the message:

just because a “scientist” said it does not make it true

Uh-oh. Scientist in inverted commas, and of course scientists lie – mostly because they’re saying sane, rational things that are diametrically opposed to whatever germ-ridden fantasy land anti-vaxxers live in. Honestly, I probably should have just left it there. Made a snide remark and walked away. But, I didn’t.

“Ok then, I’ll bite, let’s hear your refutation of his facts. And please don’t let it be a YouTube video,” I said. Because we all know that these people all have Masters in Internet Videos from YouTube University, and if it’s in a video, IT MUST BE TRUE!

Immediately, she goes on the defensive. Maybe because she wasn’t expecting me to ask for facts, maybe because she’s used to throwing around one-liner “refutations” of articles and walking away, satisfied with her own smugness. I dunno.

do you really want facts or is this another vac bash

I’d just asked her for facts, but – again like with creationists – the need to feel persecuted is high in these ones. They feel that if their insane ideas are being torn apart in front of them, that it somehow justifies their ideas, and the more you show them how wrong they are, the more they know they’re right. It’s the Backfire Effect (When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger), and I’ve run into it often enough in dealing with creationists and right-wing nutters, to know that I should have just walked away. Buy hey! It was late, I’d had a beer, and it was either tear her a new one, or go to bed. And I wasn’t tired. However, I thought that it would be fair to warn her that I held her kind in very low regard, so she would have her work cut out convincing me, but that I was willing to be enlightened if she provided the evidence.

Given that I’ve yet to see an anti-vaxxer come up with anything resembling scientific, proven, tested results (and Wakefield can be safely ignored for the fraud that he is), go ahead and enlighten me. I should also warn you that I think people who don’t vaccinate are despicable creatures who put their own unfounded paranoia above the safety of their children and people around them. So there’s your caveat.

I don’t think I could be fairer than that. Plus, I’d also taken the precaution of taking the old favourite of Andrew Wakefield out of the equation. I shouldn’t have bothered:

exactly why is wakefield a fraud? and what is your personal qualifications

It was around this point that I facepalmed for the first time. Not only was here somebody still clinging to the lies spread by that evil, evil man – he has a lot to answer for, and if there is a Hell, I hope they’re keeping an extra warm spot just for him – but there’s suddenly an appeal to expertise too? Presumably because her qualification of “having produced small human from my loins” trumps any qualification I might have in refuting her medieval beliefs. Sorry, but “speaking as a mother” is crazy talk for “talking out of my arse.” Or “Suspending rational thought for a moment.” (To paraphrase Bill Bailey)

Still, I took my hand away, and politely and succinctly pointed out everything that was wrong with Wakefield and his fraudulent research, complete with a handy link, because these guys love the “Look it up!” route. Of course, that was my mistake – I have dared to provide facts and kick dirt on her shrine to Andrew Wakefield. Immediately, we see another trait that creationist display: the “oh, I have so much information for you, but you’re too closed minded to even listen to it” tactic of running away.

I am sitting here with so much data and just realised that i have no desire to educate someone who has already closed their mind to a world different to your own. I have no personal qualifications,but mom in law was head of research at glaxo for years and refused to vaxx kids, sister is head of a lab as microbiologist and guess what refuses to vaxx kids.so if you really wake up tomorrow and want the truth,you know where to find me.by the way,go back and research wakefield again without the propaganda.

“Go and research Andrew Wakefield without the propaganda.” And you’re going to provide anecdotal evidence?? Excuse me for a moment…

Headdesk

Why, dear goddess, is it that those who are always totally closed to any idea – and especially evidence – that contradicts their own worldview, are the first to accuse you of being close minded. I’ve asked her twice to produce evidence and twice told her that I’m willing to be enlightened – provided her evidence stands up to scrutiny. Of course, given that she’s wheeled out Wakefield straight off the bat, my hopes of such enlightenment happening were diminishing fast.

Luckily at this point, one of my friends stepped into the fray, who happens to have a Ph.D in chemistry (thus also handily solving the Appeal to Expertise argument). (He blogs too. About stuff. Read it. It’s good.) His take-down of the belief in Wakefield is so good, and so simple that it bears repeating:

We’ve known for 17 years that Wakefield’s 1998 study didn’t prove vaccines cause autism (this information brought to you by the people who actually read it).

We’ve known for 11 years that he had financial conflicts of interest in publicising his apparent work that meant he stood to profit significantly from scaring people away from a triple-vaccine.

We’ve known for 8 years that his infamous study was performed unethically, from unnecessary procedures performed on children to blood samples being collected at a birthday party.

We’ve known for 5 years that his ethical violations were deemed sufficient for him to be banned from practising medicine in the United Kingdom.

We’ve known for 4 years that the BMJ have declared that his work on the MMR vaccine was not just unethical, but outright fraudulent.

It’s 2015 now. There is literally no excuse for believing his shit anymore.

Of course, arguing with these people is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. Having had Wakefield trashed, but without acknowledging that fact, she suddenly swing tact, posting a link to the – also discredited Dr Hooker “whistleblower” who claimed the CDC falsified the data. Again, a very familiar anti-vaxxer trope and one that is equally easily debunked as being a storm in a petri dish.

Along the way, I’d also asked her if she’d be happy if people still suffered from smallpox and polio. Yeah, I know, puerile argument really, but by this point it was clear we were being faced with the usual anti-vaxxer standard talking points, so why play nice? The reply was a special kind of crazy:

people still suffer from polio, we just call in guillian barr now, look up

No. Just no. At this point, I’m indebted to another commentator who pitched in:

Umm Guillain-Barré syndrome is not another name for polio, it’s another name for Guillain-Barré syndrome. I always heard people like you existed but I assumed you were a myth, like unicorns or human kindness.

Because by now, we’d reached plutonium levels of stupidity and really, being nice wasn’t going to help anyway.

But once again, we switch tack – back to the ingredients of the vaccines. Because, in true Food Babe style, if something sounds bad, then it must be bad. The irony of this is that by going this route, she immediately validates the point raised the the OP that she started out criticizing.

guy in lab coat did not say they did not use aluminium in vaxx he said they had to use it, look up aluminium in the child brain,formaldehyde in the system,and the insert of any vaxx you are putting in your kid

aluminium phosphate is a poison with level 2 warning,maybe not for injecting?


all you are doing is quoting povaxx and not considering the important facts here,like what is in the vacines

So, clearly she’s done her research, so I asked for a bit more clarity. I also lost my shit with her repeated “look it up!” claims. And yeah, if you’re using “provax” as a snarl word, we might need to revisit your “close minded” claims.

Stop saying look it up – seriously, that is the most infuriating thing with you lot – “look it up!” ‘Google it!” – because it means the other person has to waste time looking for stuff and you get away without providing citations for your claims.

No, instead of look it up, provide the information yourself. You’ve made the claim. Back it up.

Tell me, what’s the LD50 for AlP04? What’s the concentration in the average vaccination dose? Are you doing a Food Babe and going the “ooh! scary word! must be bad!” route, or do you actually know the chemical make-up and concentrations of the chemicals in a vaccination? Saying ‘But there’s formaldehyde in it!” isn’t enough? How much is in it? What are the allowable tolerances in the human body for that? That’s the big difference that the Op pointed out – if you mixed up the chemicals listed on a vaccine and injected yourself, you’d probably die. That’s because you’re not a pharmacist and don’t know the first thing about how these are actually made, apart from the ingredients listed on the side.

Still waiting for a reply. Maybe her kid needed it’s latest dose of 100% organic, gluten-free soy milk, or something.

But I’m also indebted to two more commentators. The first posted a link to the wonderful article “What Everyone Gets Wrong About Anti-Vaccine Parents,” which states what I think we all know already – being an anti-vaxxer has nothing to do with the welfare of the children. It’s about the parents’ sense of privilege, their denial of authority – hich really, you’re only allowed to do if you’re 14 and emo, and a misbegotten need to feel “empowered’ – that they’ve “done the research” and that they know best. It’s about ego, not lives. And because of that, lives are at risk.

I’m going to close off this with one of the final comments posted by another commentator on the thread, with which I agree 100%. By all means, don’t vaccinate. But then, don’t complain when society excludes you and your little disease vectors from public spaces, where they put people at risk.

I’ve taken on the anti vac donkeys numerous times. The question is, why bother? The choice should be theirs. But that choice should have a direct consequence. Access to public buildings, schools, transport systems, theatres, stadiums, work places… If you’re not safe to be in a crowd, you don’t get to be in a crowd. Kennels ask to see my dog’s vaccination certificate before they let him stay, for the safety of the other dogs. Why aren’t we as demanding of protection for vulnerable people? I’m glad to see this attitude coming into being at doctor’s surgeries, schools and work places in the States. I hope we follow suit. Leave the muppets the choice, but they feel the consequences of their choice, not others.

 

Posted in Anti-vaccine | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Ray Comfort’s World of Wonder


Either Ray Comfort really is a complete ignoramus, with absolutely no understanding of how the world around him actually works, or he is a first-class fraud, happily pissing on the pig-ignorance of his flock and treating them with the contempt they deserve. Sadly, I feel the latter the true, because I find it hard to believe that somebody can be so consistently, fantastically stupid, as still manage to get where Comfort has. Then again, Louie Gohmert is in Congress, and might even be the next Speaker of the House, so who the hell knows?

I haven’t followed Comfort that closely of late, because, let’s face it, there’s only only so much stupid a person can face, and after his last “movie” turned out to be an almost exact replica of every other “movie” he’s ever done, it’s clear the man is a one-trick-pony, whose sole interest is fleecing his gullible flock for money, and has no interest in converting the non-believer. The only way Comfort could really become interesting, is if he followed in his little partner Kirk’s footsteps and started making “proper” movies. I’m sure Ray would have no problem pushing Kirk’s last effort off the top (or bottom, as it were) of the worst movies of all time. Surely, 2 hours of Ray pushing a phallic microphone up to random people’s mouths would be worse than “Saving Christmas,” right? Right?!

Still, one of Ray’s recent posts turned up on my timeline, that displays this apparent complete lack of understanding wonderfully. Not to mention the complete inability to actually make a point. Then again, having seen how his flock respond to whatever Comfort posts on his Facebook page, dribbling and simpering wildly, without ever once going “Hang on…” – then again, any dissent to Ray’s Word is most likely a banable offence these days. One thing Comfort doesn’t like his having his Word questioned:

RayIt’s hard – nay, impossible – to actually derive any sort of meaning from what he said. Starting off from the implication that having faith means happily ignoring the “look left, look right, then look left again” rule we had hammered into us from childhood, to the fact that we might all be insane and so shouldn’t trust ourselves… just a book written by Bronze Age goat herders. Or Ray Comfort, which is an even scarier proposition.

However, it’s his second paragraph that I want to focus on, where he displays yet more ignorance about the world and its workings (stepping up from his “gravity doesn’t exist in space” post from 2014). I find it hard to believe that Comfort and see that familiar “water” mirage on a hot road and firstly not know it’s a mirage and secondly, not know that it has to do with the refractive index of hot air, and the “water” is actually a reflection of the sky, because the hot air at the surface of the road is bending the rays of light reaching it, far more than they would be bent by the cooler air they pass through. Then again – just re-reading that explanation, I can see what passes for Comfort’s brain oozing out of his ears.

Likewise, his idea that the sky being blue is somehow our eyes “fooling” us, whereas, anybody with half a rain knows that it’s because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light, and so that’s what reaches our retinas. Of course, when the sun is close to the horizon, the blue light is scattered too much, hence we see red and orange sunsets and sunrises.

And as for the bit about Australians standing upside-down… well, like I said at the start, there’s only so much stupid you can take.

It’s not magic, it’s not our eyes playing tricks on us, it’s not a sign of dodgy faith and it’s certainly not a sign of insanity.

However, posting shit like this, is a sign of insanity (not to mention Ray’s target audience):

how-do-you-explain-a-sunset-if-there-is-not-god-2Also, THERE!! THERE!!

Oh good grief, I give up.

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2015 – what the frauds see in their crystal balls


No, I’m not making any more promises about cranking this blog back into life. If it happens, it happens… although the Republican Party likely to wheel out another clown car of idiots ahead of the 2016 elections, I’m sure there will be slightly more material to blog about.

In the meantime, I thought I’d draw up a short list of some of the predictions being made by various frauds, who call themselves psychics, for 2015. I might make a few comments alongside them, but mainly it’s going to serve as something I can come back to at the end of the year and see just how far from the mark these hucksters were. I’ve chosen three for no more scientific reason than they’re the ones Google threw at me, when I typed in “psychic predictions for 2015.” I’m posting the predictions as they appeared, with any of my own comments appended thus.

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The Latest Obama Manufactroversy


I’ve lost count of the ways the dribbling idiots over on the rabid religious right in the U.S. have found ways to display their hatred for the Black Man in the White House. From the birth certificate, to him being a Muslim, to him coming for your guns, to FEMA death camps, to death panel on Obamacare, to conjuring up Hurricane Sandy to win the 2012 election… the list really is endless. And all it is with these mindless bigots is that it’s just an indication that they have no interest in – nor, for that matter, do they understand – Obama’s policies, it’s an almost visceral hatred for somebody who doesn’t look like them and therefore by default, everything he does or says or enacts must be bad.

The problem is that we’re coming to the end of his 8-year term and all the stuff they’ve been howling about hasn’t even come to pass. Hell, the government hasn’t even served wing-nut tax dodger Cliven Bundy a summons yet. Let alone go after the gun-mad idiots that flocked down to Bundy’s ranch, to point their weapons at Federal officers. Although they were all white. Given the recent history coming out of America, if that had been a stand-off with black citizens, people would have died. So, so much for martial law, etc, etc. This means that – outside of their own perceived persecution complexes, the rabid right actually have nothing valid to rant about. So they’re casting the net wider – and in more disgusting ways.

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Bryan Fischer sees being a lesbian as an abuse of power…


… or something.

For those of you who aren’t aware of Bryan Fischer, he’s a fantastically bigoted and homophobic wingnut, who’s currently the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the equally loathsome “American Family Association.”

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