Skepchick Quickies 5.15
- All-girl team wins science competition with ingenious pasteurization contraption – The team developed their invention to be used by Nicaraguan women to pasteurize their milk.
- Edwina Rogers – Greta Christina on the new executive director of the Secular Coalition for America: “But the problem isn’t just her denial of the political reality of the Republican Party. The problem is also with the way she denied it.”
- Dangers of chiropractic under reported, study finds – Edzard Ernst lead the study.
- Clementine Churchill eloquently pwns a sexist dude – In response to a article about how women should be kept away from all politics, Clementine Churchill responds with the logical continuation of that line of thought. “Ought women not to be abolished altogether?” From Ron.
Go Hippie Pandas!
That said, I’m in CA right now. I live in a largely Mexican community and travel to Pasadena for work. It’s crazy how many people I meet in Pasadena (not everyone) who promote raw milk as a “miracle food.” (I’ve been told it cures cancer). I’ve been accused of falling for the Big Pharma con when I mention that it’s potentially dangerous and a good way to get diarrhea. Then again, these same people are the one who tell me not to vaccinate :P. In general, I’ve run into a lot of woo there. It’s really weird because they are a lot wealthier over there, so one would think they would be more educated about these matters. Is it wrong that I hope they get campylobacter?
Hm. About being told not to vaccinate… After arguing with a friend about her giving anti-vax advice (and me providing the counter argument), I see another contact managed to post an article that makes me want to bang my head against the wall and scream in frustration:
Can someone please send a qualified MD down to Italy asap? *sigh*
I hadn’t realized how dangerous chiropractic treatments can be. I knew the potential benefits were being way overstated, but I figured the results were on par to seeing a massage therapist. It’s downright negligent to fail to report adverse effects as serious as potential risk of stroke, and I’m really glad that someone is studying this.
Can an atheist operative of the Republican party be the executive director of a secularist organization?
Let’s ask a similar question. Can an atheist who had unceasingly supported the Iraq war, supported George Bush’s foreign policy, be pro-life represent the values of most atheists? Indeed, Christopher Hitchens was such a person and he was a representative of the atheist community.
I am therefore somewhat troubled by Greta Christina’s vetting of Edwina Rogers. No atheist (or nontheist like Edwina Rogers) is going to nicely fit into strict categories. So she is a member of the Republican party. So what? Does that mean her pro-gay, pro-choice, etc. attitudes are disingenous? Should she be disqualified simply because some of her views (likely fiscal) are conservative or libertarian? If that’s the case, I would kick out all atheist representatives beginning with the current 3 horsemen. Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett have an unbridled support for evolutionary psychology and sociobiology which gels very well with many conservative values. Sam Harris has a total support of Israel and ignores the plights of secular Palestinians. Conservatives just love that. But I seriously don’t advocate giving them the boot.
We are not going to agree with all views of every atheist. Sure, Ms. Rogers may live in a Republican universe that is at odds with the mainstream Rick Santorum ilk. But isn’t having someone from across the isle with her progressive views the very person we want to change the status quo?
Except Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, and Sam Harris were not selected as executive director of a secularist organization. They have been largely embraced by the atheist community for the things that they say/write, but their position as the ‘Four Horseman’ is HONORARY. Inasmuch as they are leaders of the atheist movement it is because people follow them in an essentially grassroots manner, which is a different thing from being given a leadership position in an organized advocacy group.
As firbrand atheists Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett were/are leaders of the movement and influence the attitudes of several of its members. Sure you can call it a grassroots movement but so is the Tea Party organization that heavily shapes the sociopolitical discourse. So they may not have been elected as heads of organizations such as American Atheists but their attitudes sway the atheist/secularist public opinion as if they were. Indeed, if he was asked to be an official leader of a national atheist organization and he agreed, Hitchens would have likely faced zero protest from Greta Christina.
Here’s an example of a famous historical atheist to which a similar critique could be levied. WEB Dubois was an atheist and a leader of the civil rights movement. Yet he wrote a eulogy for Joseph Stalin on what a great man he was. Did atheists and civil rights activists then proceed to toss him out? Did he not live in a socialist bubble that ignored the totalitarian reality of the Soviet Union? Was he therefore unfit to be a civil rights leader? Indeed, I can disagree with his views on Stalin and fully embrace him as a leader of an organized social justice movement. Why not the same for Edwina Rogers who lives in a universe that shields herself from the mainstream Republican discourse? Does the fact that she defines Republican values based on her personal interactions with progressive members of the party base that share her views and contradicts Santorumism make her unfit to be a leader of a secular organization?
Sorry for the run on sentence.
My problem, and Ms. Christina’s from what I can see, with Edwina Rogers is not that she is a republican, that was merely the reason to ask some questions.
The inadequate answers to those questions are the problem I have. She has been hired to represent a leading secular organization that reflects upon the community at large yet when asked to explain why she supported (and even gave money to) those who have tried to stand in the way of her new employer, those who are opposed to the desires and values of most of its members, and those who would further an ANTI-secular society, she answers as if it appears she would wish to return to lobbying for those same people. That is unacceptable to me if the SCA expects my continued support. I am not calling for Ms. Rogers’ head I am simply calling for answers. Answers that are not forthcoming and until they are or Ms. Rogers is gone the SCA can expect no help from me, and that goes for all member organization that don’t express their concerns in this matter.
Your comparison to the four horsemen and WEB Dubois is not relevant as they are (and were) leaders by virtue of being followed rather than by being hired, the distinction is subtle but important.
Imagine if a former lobbyist for the oil industry were to come out as a proponent of Anthropogenic Climate Change, but imagine it in two separate scenarios.
-In the first instance this former lobbyist holds a press conference or writes an op/ed to reveal their new position. Skeptics would have reason to be wary and, after asking questions, could decide whether to believe the change of heart or not. There would be no need to look into their former beliefs, or expect any denunciation of previous clients, beyond using it (and the answers given) as information in deciding whether to believe that the new position is truly felt or not.
-In the second instance the former lobbyist is hired as the spokesperson for a climate change organization. Would it not be fair for that person be held accountable for the positions that their former employers took? I would go as far as to say in that instance a complete break from all former positions would be in order if the new employer were to expect to be taken seriously. If however that former lobbyist were to continue to hem and haw about distancing themselves (as if they had designs on returning to their previous position say) from their former employers it would be more that reasonable to hold this person and their new employer to added scrutiny until the sincerity of the new spokesperson could be verified.
I am not asking for a denunciation of her republican roots, I would simply like an answer to a question that does not sound like lobbying for the Republican Party, and against the secular society in large, is simply a matter of a larger paycheck.
I also think you attribute far too much power to unofficial leaders of the movement, and you seem have added Ms. Christina to that level by implying that she can vet anything the SCA does. Asking questions and being unconvinced by the answers are not an unreasonable position.
The actual problem is that Rogers is either extraordinarily ignorant of the Republican party platform, and thus too politically inept to manage any organization that needs to do substantial outreach, or she’s lying. The latter is much more likely when you consider how consistently the media portrays and furthers anti-gay, anti-atheist, and anti-science perspectives that are often sourced directly or indirectly from Republican politicians.
oh, i juste love the clementine churchill letter!
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