Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 8.4

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. It’s nice to see a article skeptical of the current anti-oxidants fad. But when that article says something as dumb as :

    Electrons are compelled to travel in pairs; an unpaired electron therefore will greedily grab the next electron it meets,…

    I really, really, worry about the state of science education.

    1. Actually, that description is pretty accurate. Radicals have unpaired electrons which make them highly chemically reactive. They want to grab an electron from any molecule or atom they can. They particularly like double bonds.

  2. Evangelicals don’t have a bad rep because of a few bad apples. Pat Robertson wouldn’t have gotten his enormous following unless people truly believed what he said. Evangelicals may be brave, but it’s coming from a paternalistic desire to change everyone to be like them. I love my family, they tithe, do mission trips, and are some of the most intelligent people I know. However, they are still homophobic, slightly racist, anti-evolution, anti-choice (even contraception), patriarchal, and can’t wait for the day when America becomes a theocracy (And yes, thanksgiving is a special kind of hell, thanks). I would love to see more evangelicals like Stott, but unfortunately, Dobson and crew are far more popular.

    1. Thanks! That was one of those ideas that really wrote itself and made me giggle loudly while writing it. I was sitting on my patio in the sunshine, and my neighbors often think I’m crazy when I do that…

  3. The evangelical article is that same old chestnut: “What about all the good religions do?!?”
    The answer is, none of the good they do couldn’t be done by a secular organization without the prostletizing.
    Reminds me of the Atheist Community of Austin’s challenge for a theist to give them a good deed that churches do that could not be done by secular means.

  4. When I think of evangelical charity, I often think of some of my relatives who went to South Africa with the ostensible goal of helping with the AIDS epidemic. This organization produced a lot of material about how condoms were an ineffective way to combat the spread of STDs, and how the answer was instead to get teens involved in Christian churches and clubs that would help them be abstinent until marriage.

    Or the Salvation Army, which has had a problem with underhanded homophobia for a long time.

    Even Sojourners got in trouble recently for refusing to run an ad about how churches should not ostracize gay people, and they are the most prominent “progressive” evangelical group out there.

    And then there are the various conservative Catholic groups. Healthcare related charities that fight women’s access to birth control and abortions. Adoption centers that fight any recognition of same-sex relationships. Homeless shelters that use their services as leverage to try to get LGBT kids to change.

    The problem isn’t that there are these “bad” televangelist types like Falwell and Robertson, pitted against “good” charitable people like Stott and Wallis who seek social justice. The problem is that a lot of the same “good” charities that are trying to help people, are hurting the same sorts of people that the blowhards rail against. Sometimes it’s even the same people doing both, sometimes even at the same time.

    I agree that we shouldn’t think of evangelicals in general as hateful monsters of the Falwell/Robertson type. But it’s unrealistic to pretend that evangelical Christianity doesn’t have a close relationship with oppression of women, especially with respect to female sexuality, rampant homophobia, and completely unworkable faith-based solutions to social problems (abstinence-only sex ed, getting people out of poverty and crime through little more than increased churchiness).

    I don’t think we should cut evangelicals a break on this one. To the contrary, I think it should be pointed out more often that there’s a clear mismatch between the lofty goals of many of these organizations and the damage they often do to people. Because the people who really do put compassion first are the people who are reachable. The blowhards of the world don’t really care that much about our objections. But the more compassionate and reasonable evangelicals are the ones who seem likely to actually stop and think more carefully about how their actions (and organizations) impact others.

    And if those people decide to either leave their evangelical communities, or try to change them from the inside, that’s win-win for us.

    (Sorry for the massive post.)

  5. Pffft.

    I am so pissed at the canard that “libruls” are engaged in “reverse discrimination” against people involved in actual oppression and repression.

    If gays were prejudiced against evangelicals, as Kristoff insists in his ridiculous and largely useless homily, there why have I heard of a total of NONE, ZERO, NADA, NO efforts to single out evangelical christian marriage rights? Where is the blue state that has even **considered** passing a constitutional amendment insisting that the state government will not recognize the marriages of evangelical christians?

    There are certainly many people who use the phrase, “I’m tired of evangelical christians ….” [or, “I hate it when ….”], being pissed off that someone is attacking you out of prejudice and, while denouncing it, using over-broad language (b/c of course the people at Sojourners never vote press to teach creationism in science class or to preserve the separate-and-unequal DOMA scheme, so the language is of course unfairly overbroad without Kristoff having to prove it so). However, just because the use of [supposedly] over-broad language exists does not mean that evangelical christians are encountering “prejudice”. Prejudice is judging people before you have the facts based on some trivial characteristic. If you make a conscious choice to ally yourself with the republicans, it is not prejudice to assume that you have no fundamental problem with the behavior of republican leaders and that therefore it is reasonable to assume that you believe such behavior is at least acceptable and possibly desirable. That’s JUDGING WITH EVIDENCE.

    The same is true when people make a conscious choice to join the evangelical movement.

    Now they may say, but wait, if that’s fair, then what about declaring oneself “gay” or “queer” and other people using that to assume that you believe in the actions of the leaders of HRC.

    A couple things:

    1) Saying that one is attracted to people of a gender other than what is considered appropriate for your gender by the evangelical christians is not the same as joining a political movement. There has to be a fair way to make a statement of sexual orientation separate from a statement of political membership.

    2) criticism of the goals of gay activism ROUTINELY takes the form of charging things that are demonstrably false – these false things being assumed by virtue of membership in the group of gay people who are politically engaged.

    3) criticism of the goals of evangelical christian groups is based on what they actually do. It’s not an assumption without evidence -or in the presence of a small amount of evidence that, when examined, is easily and thoroughly undermined by a much larger body of evidence. ECs are willing to curtail the political rights of others in order to impose their social and religious order on others. Queer folk wish no curtailment of the rights of ECs – only the vindication of their own rights.

    Big Effin Difference. This is not prejudice. ECs are not singled out.

    Kristoff is being ridiculous.

  6. Kristof’s support of John Stott is hard to comprehend. The man did not believe that women should hold positions in the church equal to men, thought that gay/lesbian people were sinful and should stay celibate and supported the death penalty. Much of his so-called charitable work that Kristof seems so enamored with involved training missionaries to go out and spread this message. He preached the inherently violent belief that born-agains were going to paradise while the rest of us would simply be annihilated. Wow no burning in hell, thanks alot!
    Kristof’s main defence of Stott seems to be that he wasn’t as bad as Falwell or Robertson, in other words Stott was only practicing “discrimination lite”. I used to be a fan of Kristof because of his unrelenting push for attention to problems in largely ignored parts of the world. But so many of his recent columns have been about defending religion just because (some) of its adherents (sometimes) do good works. I’m done with him.

  7. All right. I’ll say it: I fucking love pomegranates, and I love them enough that I’m willing to say the irrational obsession of the public with antioxidants (something they don’t understand) is worth it to me.

    I’ve loved pomegranates since I was 10 years old, and you know what? I couldn’t hardly find them anywhere then, and when I could, they were usually overripe, small, and expensive as hell. Sometimes they’re still that way, but at least now I can find them at any grocery store. And when they’re not in season, I can even still get the juice!

    (Though I do admit there is a general problem of utter lack of skepticism in the field of nutrition, where it’s basically become a ‘she said, she said’ mess.)

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