Skepchick Quickies, 2.4

Happy Monday, everyone. Not that you missed it because we’re just starting out with this – but I had intended to post Quickies over the weekend, as well as a weekly round-up on Friday. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit under the weather and didn’t get to it. Next weekend, you shall have all the Quickies you desire. At least, of the Skepchick variety.

  • Presenting Julia Sweeney – A wonderful speech excerpt from Sweeney about freedom from religion – and there’s audio available, too.
  • Hollywood Prayer Network – I think they might be facing some tough competition from Scientologists.
  • New Atheists or Anti-Dogmatists? – An interesting discussion on what the term “New Atheist” might mean after all.
  • Oscarology – A new form of astrology that was made up revealed by spirits. Find out who you are based on which movie won Best Picture in your birth year!


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. From the “New Atheists” article:

    “Dawkins and Hitchens are the two who most often conflate religion and faith in their use of language – and they are also the two most well known. In my view, this is unfortunate. By being sloppy in their language, I fear the new anti-dogmatists are driving away potential allies.”

    Argh! What’s with this “Let’s keep religion around but get rid of dogma” idea? Do people feel the same way about homeopathy? I wonder if the author would say, “I don’t have a problem with the idea that water has magic memory powers, I just think the specific homeopathic remedies sold today are ineffective. I see nothing illogical about believing that water may have memory in some way that we could never measure or falsify. I am attacking the dogma of homeopathy, but I have nothing but respect for those who believe in water memory.”

  2. Oops, the quote is supposed to read: “Dawkins and Hitchens are the two who most often conflate religion and faith in their use of language – and they are also the two most well known. In my view, this is unfortunate. [SNIP] By being sloppy in their language, I fear the new anti-dogmatists are driving away potential allies.”

    The blog thuingie ate my inequality signs. Here, we are made equal by fiat!

  3. Well, let's give this the full skeptical treatment:

    1968: Oliver!

    "Oliver!s have to struggle against great obstacles, especially class divisions and financial difficulties, and especially early in life."

    Miss. My upbringing is middle-middle to upper-middle class.

    "However, they are usually successful in the long run, both through their own ingenuity and the help of others."

    Hit. I think I manage my life fairly well, but I have been fortunate in many ways that have made my life easier.

    "They need to be watchful about depending on others too much, however, as well as about making good choices about who to depend on."

    Miss. My problem is the opposite. My own sense of personal independence sometimes stands in the way of personal relationships.

    "Music and dancing are very important to them, strengthening social bonds and sustaining them through difficult times."

    Miss. I don't mind dancing but it ain't all that pretty. I don't even own an iPod.

    1/4, a fairly miserable showing.

  4. Mine was fairly accurate, like not spookily but I could see it. But my Mom's was totally off, to the point where it was very funny.

    I'm not sure how I feel about religion vs. anti-dogma. On the one hand some of my friends are very rational christians. But on the other hand I really hate some christians.

  5. I think O’Donnell hit the nail on the head. By and large most folk (statistically)are either religious or “spiritual” in the U.S. and I agree there is much to condemn about many belief systems. However there is also a significant amount of altruism and generally positive community that takes place among religious folk. A rational argument against religion or any form of belief in a deity or “otherness” is fine and something that I would find compelling and agreeable. However if we desire others to be rational and evidence based in their beliefs, then we are making a bigger point than taking issue with component parts of their faith/religion/dogma. I think we (skeptical, rational non believers) should have a general argument against all faith and religious beliefs and take issue with their derivative philosophies and institutions when we disagree. I don’t think we should ask the religious to change the particulars of their beliefs…, what’s the point??? When the bigger issue is, if there is any evidence at all that any kind of religious or spiritual belief is plausible as a primary argument. I think a religion can have social merit and not be true in the slightest with regard to it’s primary tenets of faith.

    I don’t think that ImaginalDisc’s argument above is valid as the analogy is tenuous at best and s/he misses O’Donnell’s main point. The authors O’Donnell is critiquing have made statements in support of some of the societal benefits of religion but have bigger problems with dogmatic belief systems. O’Donnell states that the real argument concerns the primary underpinnings of all religious beliefs rather than their specific problem with some end point of a faith system. And that atheists can be as dogmatic/intractable/stubborn/closed minded and snarky (my words)as the religious. Who would disagree with that?

    If there is/are no gods, which I doubt there are given the available evidence, then it matters not if we offend the gods. The believers however are real people and if we can not find some level of respect for our fellow citizens and appreciate their right to have a different belief system…’ then we will hardly have our religious friend or relatives ear when we want to discuss their impending trip to a Laetrile clinic in Mexico or when they have withdrawn money for a fortune teller/healer or some other quack we want to protect them from.

    ~James “Ben Hur” (It must all be true!!!) Fox

  6. Ooh, this is fun:

    1981: Chariots of Fire.

    Chariots of Fires are hard-working, goal-oriented, and willing to battle prejudice and social pressure in order to meet their goals.

    Partial hit. Does anyone think they aren't hard-working? I am in grad school…my ass belongs to them. However, I am not in a place to battle anything.

    "They are very competitive, and willing to suffer criticism for their competitive natures."

    Partial hit. I think "competitive" is a fairly vague descriptor that a lot of people would say describes them and I do not like to suffer anything.

    "However, they are also principled, and are unwilling to go against their own principles merely in order to win, even when pressured to do so."

    Hit. However, again, I think most people would say that they don't waffle on their most cherished principles.

    "They are very physical, and find great personal inspiration in physical activity."

    Miss. Hahahahaha! They blew it here. I walk to and from school daily only out of necessity. I go to the gym once a month on my fat days to make myself feel like I'm actually doing something. I am in karate, but I often have to miss it because of my busy schedule (and it doesn't bother me that much). That doesn't sound like great personal inspiration to me.

    2/4 (counting partials as half rather than zero – thought I'd throw them a bone) – not that impressive a performance, considering the paragraph was laced with very positive descriptors that I think a lot of people would identify with

  7. Little Bald Bastard wrote:

    Oh, man. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. I can’t decide how to feel about that.

    Hehe, you're my age.

    And I can't believe that movie is that old …

    Actually, I can't believe *I* am that old :(

  8. MY movie was In the Heat of the Night. What the hell-? Utterly inaccurate. I never even cared for that movie. I feel cheated.

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