What we’re up against

February 5, 2014 • 12:13 pm

BuzzFeed’s Matt Stopera (who also took the photos shown below ) collected 22 pictures of people who attended the Ham/Nye debate in Kentucky and identified themselves as creationists.

Stopera asked each of them to write down their “message to people who believe in evolution.”  See the link for all the questions (many of them predictable), but I’ve chosen a few examples to post. The sad thing is that nearly all these people are young—the target audience for science educators.  It’s not clear whether they’d already seen the debate or not, but, being creationists, that probably wouldn’t have affected their questions.

Read and weep, o brethren:

First, someone who doesn’t know the hominin fossil record:

Picture 6

The very concept of  this sort of “purpose” implies God, yet she has no evidence for Him:

Picture 10

Noetics? What does that have to do with evidence?

Picture 1

Answer: because of the laws of physics. (BTW, it’s “there”.)

Picture 2

That’s not how the big bang started, dude! Learn some cosmology!

Picture 11

Attempted humor is not evidence:

Picture 7

This smiling woman needs to learn what a “theory” is. And does she want homeopathy taught in medical schools, astrology in psychology class, and alchemy in the chemistry department?:

Picture 9Here’s an ebullient God-of-the-Gapper:

Picture 3

Yes, it is amazing, but how can you look at the world and think it was made by an all-loving, all-powerful God? What about the Holocaust, or, for that matter, natural selection?:

Picture 12

If this guy isn’t joking, he needs a biology class, stat!:

Monkeys

275 thoughts on “What we’re up against

  1. Every time I see or hear someone use that silly line, ‘If we came from monkeys why are there still monkeys?’ I keep wanting to ask if they are an only child of only children. Its the only way I can think of where that question MIGHT seem reasonable.

    1. I actually used that the other day and it made the point.

      The guy I was talking to was actually very intelligent and wasn’t particularly religious, but he gives equal credence to science and all sorts of woo.

      1. Mine is Germans. If I came from Germans (as my real-life surname would indicate), why are there still Germans?

        1. If the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower, why are there still Englishmen?

          Aye, laddie, ye may verra well ask. It’s a question we Scots hae been trying tae answer for centuries noo.

              1. Unfortunately long-term planning has never really been our strong suit.

                It was fun while it lasted though.

    2. Richard Dawkins has said (in his Channel 4 documentary “Faith School Menace?”) that is actually one of the most common questions he gets asked.

      (I’d link the Rationalwiki article on the question, but we’re getting absolutely hammered – I have a nasty feeling Reddit just linked us again …)

    1. Yeah, that reference to “noetics” is weird. That’s a New Age dog whistle. What is it doing in a YEC Christian fundamentalist audience?

      Over on Pharyngula there’s speculation that she could be a Spiritual Seeker who wandered over (possibly attacking Nye’s atheism instead of evolution); an “I-used-to-be-a-Wiccan” convert to Jesus; or an unusual but not unheard of combination of New Age and Christian Fundamentalism.

      1. The current Noetics-fanciers are all about the universe being conscious, which I suspect is an idea that can marry itself very happily to ID if not YEC.

        You can follow some of the hot-topic discussions here:
        [Trigger Warning: unrelenting woo field]
        http://www.noetic.org/discussions/

            1. It’s worse. The two things NPR can’t seem to get right are medicine and religion. So thinking positive thoughts about healing somebody must trigger the woopocalypse.

    2. Yeah, this post is depressing with pronounced notes of horrifying.

      I’d bet, maybe not my last dollar, but close to it, that “noetics” appears mostly because the woman who wrote it wanted to show that she knows the word “noetics”.

      1. That’s what I thought too. All her friends think she’s the smart one because she uses words like, “noetics” to put atheists in their place.

  2. That last one about the monkeys is ALL over the Twittersphere. I cannot believe who many times this question is asked! Maddening.

    1. I stole this response from someone, I don’t remember who:

      If god made us from dirt, why is there still dirt?

        1. I was going to make a smart ass comment about men having less ribs but my dad told me he was actually told men had one less rib than women because of Adam! Give me a break, it’s so easy to prove that is a false claim!

  3. I know these people are victims, and I’m angry with the people who indoctrinated them, but some part of me can’t help but be angered by the arrogance of ignorance on display here.

    1. Surely the people who indoctrinated them are just as much “victims” as those they indoctrinated, so why the anger at them?

    2. Yes, the Dunning-Kruger affect is powerful in the YEC community. Yet, the atheists are called arrogant & strident.

    1. I noticed a few people in the pictures above have that “Michelle Bachmann crazy stare” (it creeps me out). In your link, only #20 does.

    2. Interesting. But some of them just come across as dogmatic or unsupported assertions – mostly because they’re so brief. It’s just very hard to make a reasoned argument in ten words.

      Some of them are thought-provoking, though.

      But on the whole, to a creationist, would they be any more persuasive than the creationists’ questions were to us? I don’t know.

      But the best-looking of the whole lot has to be the young lady holding up ‘Science rules’. So on perfectly irrelevant grounds I’d chalk up a win for evolution. 😉

    3. I loved the Flinstones one and the raping one about god. I always think of Ricky Gervaise when his mom got him a book about Noah’s Ark when he was a kid and how it said that god destroyed everything because men were wicked and Ricky’s reply is, “but what did the squids do?”. That would be my question to the creationists. What did the squids, fish, butterflies, trilobites, etc. do?

          1. I looked that “te” over for a good minute. It doesn’t help that I’m totally exhausted and not at all feeling on my game. I’m glad you clarified. 🙂

  4. In reverse order:

    If you came from your parents, why are your parents still here?

    How can you look at (take your pick: spin bifida, cystic fibrosis, conjoined twins, progeria, tsunamis, etc.) and believe a benevolent God created it?

    Oh, please!

    Welcome to the land of opposites: Science is befinition testable, repeatable, observable. Why do we object to the teaching of creationism?
    Exhibit 1: Look in the mirror

    Are you sure Satan didn’t say it?

    Where did you ignorance come from?

    Uh, sunsets had to happen because if they didn’t, there’d be no sunrise? (Can I has cheezburger?)

    What about noetics?

    For the time being, my purpose is to mock your ignorance.

    There is no purple, only red and blue.

  5. I’ve always liked the choice of WEIT as a title because it removes the implications of I ‘believe’ in evolution. They use the word believe to equate it to creationism.
    The fact is they have much more experience in propaganda than any other group in society. And even though Voltaire said it wasn’t holy, Roman or an empire… As a financial/political/ideological machine, it kind of is an empire.

  6. I’ve never understood the purpose of life question the poor thinkers throw at non-religious people. If there is slavation and we get to spend eternity in heaven after we are dead then there is very little purpose to living life. My life has purpose because it is so small and finite, I need to do stuff, experience life and meet it. I have nothing to die for, everything to live for. If you were to get an eternal existence in Heaven then everything that can be seen will be seen, everything that can be experienced will be experienced, everything that can be learned will be learned, and you would still have eternity left. How can there be any purpose to living life with an eternal afterlife?

    I’m guessing that the sunset person also believes the Earth is flat.

      1. Given that the supposed outcome is sitting around on clouds for eternity praising a profoundly insecure entity (or endure infinite pain for infinity), I think “slavation” is a very apt description.

    1. I think the answer to this problem will also explain why religion can turn ordinary people into murderers.

      g-d said: “Kill this group of people people”, and if I do it, my life will not be small & finite….

    1. Indeed. These photos are jarring precisely because unconscious, and wholly unjustified, extrapolation from good looks to good thinking is thrown into such painful contrast.

          1. But I still worry about my sisters. There aren’t enough atheist women and that troubles me.

            It’s cos ribs is naturally godfearing, Diana.

            Femurs — them’s rationalist to the core. And I’ve known an agnostic tibia-fibula or two. But ribs? They’re the fundies of the skeletal world.

  7. One of the comments on Buzzfeed in response to the silly “sunset” question caught my eye:

    How do you explain sunsets that sort of fizzle out where the sun goes behind the clouds and nothing happens? Is that God having a bad day? It is God just phoning it in? Or is God saying, “Hey, dude, you think it’s easy making sunsets with all these crazy colors and shit? Some days I just want to throw dinner on the table and not have to be all Emerile Lagasse about it and stuff, you know. There’s no pleasing you people.” . . .

  8. These pictures make me sad.

    But at the same time (and at the risk sounding too nasty here), they also remind me of those dog shaming pictures:

    -I HUMPED THE MAILMAN’S LEG
    -I ATE THE CONTENTS OF THE BATHROOM GARBAGE CAN, AND THERE WAS SOME GROSS STUFF IN THERE
    -WHY THIER STILL MONKIES?

    And that’s pretty funny.

  9. This illustrates the rank dishonesty of the average Creationist. These are their best knock-down arguments, produced with a happy smile at their own cleverness. (“Cleverness” for the given value that cleverness means repeating what someone else told you was a knock-down argument without bothering to check if they were right.)

    Not one of them has bothered to ever do any independent research on the internet to see if these questions have been answered. Does anyone seriously think that any of them absorbed a single thing that Nye said last night? I’d lay money on them all happily asking the exact same questions next week and next month and next year, smiling the same smiles, delighted with their own ignorance.

    /I’m in a ranty mood tonight.

    1. I feel the same way and I think what you said is especially poignant when you hear the stories of people who have come to atheism and have accepted science after living a religious fundamentalist or evangelical life. I’ve heard it over and over how they feel that they’ve wasted their lives and that they feel stupid. It’s really quite sad that people had to live in ignorance through little fault of their own.

  10. how do you explain a sunset if their(sic) is no God?

    The sun doesn’t actually “set.” Rather, the earth spinning on its axis occludes the sun from your view on the surface of the earth. Sorry to break it to you, but geocentricity is no longer scientifically respectable.

    1. And therefore evolution is true? I don’t think your response comes close to addressing her question. But it does show why rationalists find it so hard to respond to creationists’ easily answered (on the face of it) questions.

      FWIW I took her question to mean “how do you explain the beauty of a sunset”, which is much harder to answer in terms of simple physical facts. Of course, our answer would be that we evolved to find them beautiful, but you’d still have to come up with a convincing selection advantage to it, or at least what trait it might be a spandrel or over-zealous application of.

  11. I think people are missing the meaning behind the “how do you explain a sunset if (there) is no God?” question. It’s not about the relationship between the earth and the sun. In all likelihood it’s a version of the Argument from Beauty.

    It’s similar to “how do you explain this flower?” If you try to answer with a lecture on evolution or botany you’re missing the point.

    While it sounds naive and childish, it’s actually quite tricky to reply to in a way which gets to the heart of the argument — partly because the Argument from Beauty morphs all over the place into sometimes being about what can and can’t evolve; sometimes being about Platonic essences and Transcendence; sometimes being about the subjective/objective distinction and universals, and so forth. It’s a muddled mess and there’s no way Jerry got out of it with a simple “because of the laws of physics” as if this was another “explain the tides” gotcha.

    If you try to explain “Beauty” with “physics” you’re leaving out waaay too many steps.

    1. That is the argument David Bentley Hart makes – transcendence = god. If I have feelings of awe, inner peace, giddy joy and so one, then I have met god face to face.

    2. “it’s actually quite tricky to reply to in a way which gets to the heart of the argument ”

      I think it’s pretty easy to respond to.

      There is no such thing as beauty, there are only things that you find beautiful.

      1. I think that’s a great reply, but now the argument will change into “but WHY do we find things beautiful?” If you give an evolution-style answer, then they’ll complain that this is a ‘how’ answer, and not a ‘why.’ But if you fail to give an evolution-style answer, then that was what they wanted: in detail. And don’t think that Platonism and a capitalized Beauty won’t rear up again.

        My point wasn’t that the Argument from Beauty has no good answers, but that it’s more complicated than it looks. And, of course, that it’s more complicated than — and different from — “explain a sunset,” which is a poorly-formed question if that’s not what you’re asking (and she probably wasn’t.)

    3. You’re right, that is a strong possibility. But I think one shouldn’t assume meaning where it isn’t clear. It’s best to ask someone asking that question to clarify what they mean.

      I say this only because an evangelist just this weekend tried to prove God (well, the Jesus version) by argument of night and day. It was a version of “tide goes in, tide goes out, never a mis-communication”.

      1. True. Remember, I knew enough to say “the likelihood is …” and not “this obviously is…”

        Too many years in IRC debate rooms have made me cautious as hell about assuming what people mean. I am similarly cautious about assuming that people themselves know what they mean. Clarity and “religion” (or “Spirituality”) are not comfortable together.

        Plus, people often aren’t very clear even without the added problems with faith in the supernatural. That just makes it extra-special-confusing.

    4. Right.

      But I think Jerry’s response is a tongue-in-cheek dismissal, deliberately misconstruing the argument as one of physics because the alternative is subjective and not relevant to the question of evidence for god.

      1. Maybe. But plenty of others seem to be taking the question as written.

        I disagree though that the Argument from Beauty is ‘subjective and not relevant to the question of evidence for god.’ It’s irrelevant for evolution vs. creationism, certainly. But when I was a Spiritual-but-not religious believer in the God which was not-an-old-man-in-the-sky-with-a-beard, it was the argument which most convinced me.

        I still find it powerful — but not convincing. I daresay we all have our own favorites. The Argument from Beauty is used by fundamentalists AND sophisticated theologians. Ignore it at your peril.

        1. Might as well ask why getting drunk (in moderation) feels good.

          Aside from pleasure in eating and in sex, it’s pretty hard to assign “fitness” reasons for most of what we enjoy. (Books, music, plays, movies, fireworks, stamp collecting, etc. ….)

          1. Intoxication is evidence of god. I like that. If the creationist thinks this is a good question too then, at least, when we are done arguing, we can adjourn and “pray together” at the nearest bar.

            1. He who drinks gets drunk
              He who gets drunk falls asleep
              He who sleeps does not sin
              He who does not sin goes to heaven
              So let’s all get drunk and go to heaven!

              (Well, it’s no less convincing than those creationist arguments ;-))

        2. I think its subjectivity is precisely what makes it irrelevant. One person might say “look at that fiery orange and yellow sunset. This kind of beauty is proof of god!” Someone else could well say “I don’t like it. I prefer red and purple sunsets.”

        3. Hmm. Upon further reflection, I think we’re at cross-purposes.

          My characterization of the AfB as irrelevant is how I engage it, how I think it is best refuted. It’s not that I’m ignoring it.

          1. It may be wrong, but I don’t see how it’s “irrelevant” in the sense you seem to be using it. If someone says that they believe in God because they think a divine, transcendent Being best explains why we can sense beauty — and why there is beauty to be sensed — then they’ve given a reason. A bad reason maybe, but it addresses the point.

            You refute it with “that’s irrelevant?” I don’t understand.

            1. What I mean is that it is wrong because it’s irrelevant. Beauty can’t be invoked as evidence because first everyone would have to agree on what beauty is and what is beautiful. We don’t even make it to the point of evaluating whether beauty is good or bad evidence. It just can’t be evidence. There’s no relationship between beauty and evidence for god.

              I guess I’d concede that it’s relevant in the sense you’re using the word, ie, that the argument exists and people make it.

              1. musical beef wrote:

                Beauty can’t be invoked as evidence because first everyone would have to agree on what beauty is and what is beautiful.

                Not necessarily — you run into the same problem with “good” and “evil” and they’re often used as evidence for God. What people who use the Argument from Beauty point to is the consensus that there is such a thing as “beauty” — or responses to or feelings about what is beautiful. The details aren’t supposed to matter; after all, it’s even less important that there’s agreement here with the Beautiful than with the Good because the moral component isn’t there.

                There’s no relationship between beauty and evidence for god.

                The claim is that beauty IS the evidence for God, for it must have its source in a divine Mind which is itself the essential nature of Beauty. Or some such tripe.

                There are some arguments for the existence of God which I do consider ‘irrelevant.’ For one thing, all the variations of the Argument from Shut-Up are gloriously beside the point. Those consist of reasons why atheists shouldn’t bother the religious: it’s mean, it’s pointless, it’s disrespectful, etc. No connection.

                I also think the Argument from Negative Consequences (also known as the Argument from Boo-Hoo) are irrelevant. Those are the reasons which go “But if there is no God, then there is no (afterlife; eternal justice; reason to be moral; meaning to life)! That’s terrible! That’s why I believe in God!”

                The hypothesis doesn’t explain anything: it’s comforting. Irrelevant. The Argument from Beauty at least engages with evidence and inference to make a case. It’s a good-faith attempt, anyway.

              2. Ok. I guess I’d argue that “evil” isn’t analogous to “beauty”. When we atheists cite evil as a problem for theists, we do so as shorthand for specific ills like childhood cancers. It’s not as nebulous a concept as beauty. While you’ll never get a consensus about the beauty of a given piece of music, I don’t think you’ll find anybody who days childhood leukemia is a great thing and we need more of it.

                I think this makes “evil” more legitimate as negative evidence than “beauty” is as positive evidence.

              3. I’ve washed down animal confinement pens and slaughterhouse kill floors, spattering myself with bits of shit from head to toe in the process. I’ve laid on the kill floor in a puddle of shit to reach the liver blocking the drain in the waste sink. I’ve scooped out the waste trough trench in the pig parlor, thrown yellowish year-old runny pig shit out a window into a manure spreader and been hit in the face, neck, and chest by the gallon or so of the slop a strong wind blew right back onto me, just like that! I twisted a steer’s tail to force it up against the rear gate of the vet’s mobile dehorning chute, and the smell off the branding iron singeing the hide of the critter clamped inside caused the steer whose tail I held to shit a liquid stream right into my front pants pocket. People sometimes remark about the beautiful steaks or spare ribs placed on their table.

                I’ve wiped butts of children, sick, and elderly who are unable to clean themselves, including nasty dhiahrea(sp check ain’t workin’) discharge.

                Shit is like anything else. Just a bunch of atoms arranged in molecular combinations.

                As for awe and beauty and wonder, and all the other nouns humans invent to describe things that engender brain activity I experience as unusual and pleasurable physiological sensations, those also only describe — wait for it — atoms arranged in molecular combinations.

                Whether the combination results in something one enjoys/loves; or instead, mundane daily existence one rather indifferently takes for granted, and mostly mindlessly experiences as the predominant life normative state; or if the molecular combination manifests as a reality loathed due to discomfort, or danger to safety, or to health: basically, whatever an individual perceives a thing to be, be it good/indifferent/bad, it’s still all the same ol’ shit. And if the good shit, the likeable shit, can only be explained with “Proves God!”, accompanied by a beatific smile, the same has to go for both the ordinary and the bad.

                Just have a beautiful healthy baby? “Congratulations, God blessed you!” Just diagnosed with terminal brain cancer? “Congratulations, God blessed you!” Just be consistent. Please.

        4. Hello,

          Isn’t the answer a few close-up photos of the aftermath of the last big tsunami in SE Asia, or the piles of bodies found in the Nazi death camps, or mud with medical waste floating in it, or this that or the other? That certainly doesn’t prove there is not a ‘god’, but I think it nullifies the question, no question.

          -1 + -1 = 0 : 1 – 1 = 0, don’t show me your dumb proof, I won’t show you mine!

          What’s the next question?

      1. I think the human race was deprived of a wonderful thing when the Truth and Beauty quarks were renamed Top and Bottom. Booooring!

  12. Aaaah, members of the great unwashed mass of booboisie shows its ugly face.

    Yep, that’s what we’re up against all right.

    I say we make everyone first pass an IQ test before gaining membership to the human race. Let’s make it the first amendment to the Constitution….. and renumber the others.

    1. No, the frightening thing about these pictures is that the people in them look nice, normal, friendly, and intelligent. This is probably because they ARE nice, normal, friendly, and intelligent.

      They are not stupid. They are misinformed.*

      (*Dawkins would say “ignorant” but in the U.S. that term is used as a common substitute for “stupid” so the distinction is lost.)

      1. I think the difference between “stupid” and “ignorant” is that the former can’t learn, while the latter can but won’t. So it would be better to be called “stupid”, at least you’d have an excuse.

      2. If they are intelligent and misinformed, there is reason to hope. And all Jerry’s efforts might eventually pay off.

        1. I agree. There can be movement in the right direction — as with any other improvement.

          There’s a popular misconception that gnu atheists think religious people are all “stupid.” But gnu atheists are also criticized for trying to “convert” people to atheism — iow trying to change people’s minds through reason, evidence, and science and get them to abandon a very bad hypothesis.

          Those two conflict. Atheists who really believe that theists are ‘stupid’ think it’s stupid to bother trying to change any of them because stupid people can’t change. The religious are intractable, a lost cause. These atheists seem much closer then to accomodationists: leave faith alone because ‘they’ need it.

          ‘Mean-spirited Accomodationism,’ maybe.

      3. If they ARE…intelligent, then we wouldn’t be discussing their obvious LACK of intelligence. Either that or they’re willfully ignorant.

        “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
        ― Søren Kierkegaard

        1. Smart people believe weird things because they can be very, very good at rationalizing, at coming up with good reasons why the weird thing is not so weird at all. When you add in upbringing, peer pressure, and being surrounded by a warm cocoon of agreement and approval then intelligent people may not even know they’ve gone outside of what’s considered smart. In their world, ALL the really smart people believe the weird thing, too. They think the other side is willfully ignorant. Evolutionists are dummies.

          Come on. You know you don’t believe that creationists are literally mentally handicapped. They don’t lack intelligence — not as a group. That’s exactly why it’s so frustrating.

          1. It’s not a matter of my belief. It’s what they demonstrate – creationists are literally mentally handicapped, regardless of how “smart” they may be.

            Cordially…

          2. This is exactly what makes these pictures sad for me. These people are young and have a bright future but they’ve been indoctrinated in a way that will have them miss out on that bright future. It sounds like I’m being alarmist, but I really believe it you believe bad things, think badly and do not learn to reason in this modern society, you will not live a full life. You will be left behind (and I’m not talking revelations).

        1. My vote is for willful ignorance. And, as I’ve posted several times, “ignorance can’t be pardoned, only cured” (Robert Silverberg).

    1. I’d expect most if not all of them to be sincere. The event was hosted by AIG and AIG sold the tickets; its reasonable to assume most of them went to AIG supporters. But see my comment below regarding how much value we should put on this data.

  13. Read and weep, o brethren

    I don’t weep. The live audience was a couple hundred people while the live web hits topped out around 500,000. That doen’t even count people who watch it later, like through CNN.

    So, the live audience’s opinion is in the noise.

  14. I’m reminded of that line from Time Bandits: “Dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.”

  15. Or this could be trolling on a grand scale. It would be pretty epic if this were trolling.

    It’s also curious how those people don’t know the difference between evolution and other areas of science. It’s quite sad that what you’re up against is people who don’t even understand the basics of the science.

  16. People should have the right to choose what they believe in and teach it to their children, even if you or I disagree with it.

    Creationism and intelligent design is dumb. But this crowd and their smug self-righteousness debating easy targets is worse.

      1. He means WEIT commenters. ‘People should have the right to choose what they believe in and teach it to their children.’ Hmmm. I disagree. At least in regard to the children. If the goal is not to teach your children to think on their own, then perhaps your goals fall regretfully short. I imagine the thinking here is, I teach this to my children in order to save them from the ravages of hell and immorality. But you haven’t saved them from anything by doing this. What if you’re wrong? You’ve passed that wrongness on to them. What if I’m wrong? Then my children will have a chance at discovering why because I haven’t locked them into believing lies. I’ve taught them instead to question lies, to question absolutes, to question whatever stirs their curiosity, which will likely be far afield of my own questioning tack. This gives them not only the best chance for survival in a brutal world, but a good chance to flourish. They cannot flourish if their spirit is dampened by the need to gain access to heaven, or, at best, to avoid gaining access to hell according to the rules handed down by whoever today is interpreting and/or establishing religious law in your neck of the woods, which will be significantly different than the laws espoused at the church across the street, much less across the country.

    1. I actually have some sympathies with your second paragraph, even if I don’t entirely agree with it. But I’d pick you up on your first:

      People should have the right to choose what they believe in and teach it to their children, even if you or I disagree with it.

      I don’t think they do have the right to teach it to their children. I stick up for the children’s right not to have their lives damaged by early indoctrination with ignorance and misinformation.

    2. People should have the right to choose what they believe in and teach it to their children, even if you or I disagree with it.

      This is a recent subject of fascination for me. When someone gives me the line about how parents have a right to indoctrinate their children as they see fit, I want to know that person’s position on abortion, and when personhood begins. My hypothesis is that most of the people who think personhood begins at conception think that post-birth children are somehow the property of their parents. Don’t post-birth children have rights that supercede the rights of parents?

      1. Don’t post-birth children have rights that supercede the rights of parents?

        Not in America. Children are property of the parents in America, up to and including the right to deny children medical care in the name of religion.

    3. People commenting here about ignorant “Checkmate, atheists!” sign content are not technically engaged in any sort of debate contest, Massimo, but don’t let that diminish your level of indignation.

      No one’s right to choose beliefs or teach them is impacted by interweb commentary. And the right of freedom of speech does not include a prohibition against criticism of what one says.

    4. Creationism and intelligent design is dumb. But this crowd and their smug self-righteousness debating easy targets is worse.

      Creationism isn’t an “easy target.” If you look at the faces above the “dumb” arguments you will see ordinary people who are NOT “dumb.” They are capable of better, of learning and wanting to learn.

      Since when is ‘changing people’s minds’ the same as preventing them from doing what they want? Nobody’s “rights” are being challenged.

      After all, if “people should have the right to choose what they believe” precludes criticism, then why did you come in here and criticize us? Aren’t you taking away our rights???!!!

      No, of course you’re not. Which is why your point is a bad one: you don’t even believe it yourself.

    5. I think people should be guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience but in a modern society, people do not get to teach their children whatever they want. An example is a sect of Haredi in Ontario (from Quebec) that besides bringing up their children in absolute squalor, were not teaching them basic language and math skills AND were opposed to teaching them about evolution or accepting homo sexuality. They’ve been busted for it. I wrote about it.

      You don’t get to teach people lies.

      1. In the bed, a boy. “Daddy. There’s a monster under my bed.” “Hush, child. Daddy will take a look.” Under the bed, a boy. “Daddy. There’s a monster /in/ my bed”

        /@

  17. I feel really bad for the children. I want to call the adults idiots but they are probably victims of indoctrination. (As I was)

    The woman with the sign that say’s to the effect that theories are not testable just blows my mind. Even if you whole heartedly reject modern science you have to know that some theories are testable????

    My Theory: “If I drop this ball gravity will pull it towards the earth”

  18. Referring to the Buzzfeed post, what one Earth are #4 and #16 talking about? I’ve never even heard these arguments from creationists before.

    1. I think #4 supposes that something, scratch that, someone had to start it all.

      #16 Seems to be under the impression that evolution by natural selection can’t result in genetic variation. She appears to be looking for a certain mechanism ( sex, maybe ) that controls and regulates development of genetic material. Which one is anyones guess, I guess…

  19. “Read it and weep.”

    You were definitely not joking were you? Looking at these both pisses me off and makes me sad. This level of ignorance verges on criminal.

    It is not hard to understand why Richard Dawkins characterized a religious upbringing as child abuse when you see this level of ignorance displayed with such proud smiles.

  20. It’s not that I’m sympathetic toward creationist ignorance about the difference between theory, hypothesis, and musing/ruminative speculation/WAG (or any other form of conjecture not amenable to tests that may lead to repeatable results). After all, the definitions are readily available, and if I can understand them anyone can.

    However. While scientists/journalists consistently adhere to the precise definitions of both “hypothesis” and “theory” in print publications, at least in the fairly limited range I access, the same is not the case for the vocabulary employed elsewhere.

    I listen to a lot of science radio programs, podcasts, and youtube presentations, and for the last few years I’ve been particularly sensitive to the misuse of “theory” where “hypothesis” is wanted (or even “wild-assed guess,” from time to time). In non-scripted formats — which comprises a huge amount of available programs — this happens. A lot.

    Which confuses the well-intended, earnest, but ignorant. Both in the Religious Right, put-God-back-in-schools crowd, but as well in the somewhat more secular pluralist community.

    Worse, it provides fuel for the scriptural literalist fire the Christian Right and its devious faction constantly stokes. Confusion of terms is one of their best weapons. They seize upon these terminology errors and exploit them for all they’re worth.

    Every election cycle this bites skepticism/critical thinking/science in the ass from local school board elections straight on up to presidential elections. We never get smart and clean this language up.

    1. My New Age friends believe that “theory” means the same thing as “opinion.”

      Of course, they also think “fact” means the same thing as “opinion” because we create reality with our minds and so there are many truths, not one.

      So they may not be the best example. But otherwise, yeah.

  21. Question:

    There are over 3,000 comments on the BuzzFeed site which features these pictures of “self-identifying creationists.” Does anyone know if any of the people in the photos (or people claiming to be in the photos) have come in to respond to the comments in any way?

  22. I’d like to ask them back: “We are skeptics and you know it. Why do you waste your time holding up some handwritten artefact whilst smiling naively into the camera?”

    1. Hardly fair. Because someone asked them to. If someone asked you to write why you’re an atheist in a few words for a photo, what would you do?

      1. You are correct. I wasn’t attempting to be fair. Seeing those pics, my ironic comment was what sprang to mind. If I was asked to scribble up a message for atheism and have my photo taken with it? I would decline. And take that as an opportunity to think of another, better way of doing it that doesn’t try to make use of my smile as an endorsement, because that isn’t an endorsement at all.

    2. They wouldn’t consider it a waste of time because they are Christians and thus believe that sinners can be prompted to consider Jesus and thus be saved.

      I also hope they wouldn’t consider it a waste of time because they are people who believe that even skeptics can be prompted to start doubting when they meet with a stumper question just like the one they imagine would stump them, if they believed in evolution.

      Your own question sounds like Christians ought to know that it’s a waste of time to address skeptics. At least a (bad) question is better — and more to the point — than holding up a bunch of “Jesus LOVES YOU” nonsense.

      1. “… At least a (bad) question is better — and more to the point — than holding up a bunch of “Jesus LOVES YOU” nonsense.”

        In which way is it better? Because it seems to indicate a greater possibility that the person posing the question can be reasoned with than if they held up a sign reading “Cookiemonster loves you”? If that were the case, then there would be all the more reason to cheer this photo initiative. I somehow doubt it.

        1. Yes, I DO think asking a question indicates a greater possibility that the person posing the question can be reasoned with than holding up a witnessing sign.

          Not a guarantee, not by a long shot. But they’re at least following the form of honest discussion and debate, trying to use reason to their advantage and make a persuasive case — which forces them to assume a common ground with us, and us with them. Rational theology — even Ham’s, as bad as it is — is imo an improvement over presupps or appeals to faith.

          Of course, they usually use it in addition to presupps or appeals to faith — but the better approach is to be encouraged.

  23. I saw those on a link from a previous page (there are actually 22 of them, CC hasn’t quoted them all).

    Quite a few of them are on AIG’s own list of “Arguments we think creationists shouldn’t use”. (Yes, even AIG has standards, and some of those smiling folks fall short).

    My choice of the least painful would be the first – at least she’s heard of Lucy. Most painful – ‘how do you explain a sunset’. That must be the ultimate non sequitur. How does she explain a sunset – God personally drags the sun down outa the sky or what?

    1. It’s even a bumper sticker. I saw it more than once at the church I used to attend. Apparently, religious people think that a snappy statement, an anecdote, or a clever play on words suffices.

      On the other hand, the thought of engaging in rational discussion, learning facts and how they fit together, and examination of one’s own beliefs terrifies them.

  24. They all seem very cute and I’m sure I could introduce them to some “evolution” that would have them screaming, “Oh, Darwin! Oh, Darwin!”

    Converting the credulous, one night at a time.

    I know, it’s a thankless job, but somebody’s got to do it.

    p.s. The scratches on your back are from Kink. Promise.

  25. Ah, now I have proof that mushrooms are a happy lot. All those good-looking smiling faces, every one of them feeling so proud of himself/herself…. while I’m full of embarrassment for them…. So sad.

    This is a clearly a case of people not doing their own thinking, only parroting what drivel they were taught. Holding up faith and the strength of faith as a badge of honour that precludes any critical thinking is a form of mental disease.

  26. If _science_ wouldn’t have been repeatable, we wouldn’t have any.

    If _nature_ wouldn’t have been repeatable, we would have any life.

    Refuted by laws such as gravity, or consistencies such as oxygen being O2 always. (I’m wanting to ask that person if she isn’t breathing regularly…)

  27. What you see in some of these photos are the talking points that have been regurgitated by Creationists over the past 4 decades. Many Protestant Evangelical churches bring in these guest speakers, similar to Ham, to teach their youth pseudo science. Meanwhile, in the academic realm, seminary and Christian college professors want to teach their students, who are the ministers of the future, proper hermeneutics. They want them to know that Gen 1 isn’t supposed to be interpreted literally. They just can’t, because if they do, then their college will lose funding. Academic freedom does not exist in many Christian institutions, so these professors are what we refer to as Closet Theistic Evolutionists. So until the cycle is broken, church youth will continue to be misled on origins.

  28. Didn’t Saint Saens write a musical suite about these people? “Carnival of the Blithering Idiots” I think it was called.

  29. I had no P.C. for 2weeks got it back now and quite happy.Missed this site,but not that many others. These folks are set on their ideas and not much will change .They are young though.Iremember being 21 or so and believing that you could have eternal life.I never questioned the idea at that age .Suppose it sounded good.Older and wiser now well just older it sounds way to far fetched. More like wishful thinking or a means to an end. Anyway love being back reading this site.Hate that i have 4000 emails from 2weeks have to go and delete-fun.

  30. For those of you who don’t follow the tweed of God (yes, the actual Himself), here’s what he wrote: “@TheTweetOfGod: Debating a creationist is like negotiating with a terrorist.”

  31. And yet, the malice sometimes exposed in the comments on this website about how stupid these people are, sometimes puts me off. Makes me think: If the statistical data is correct, the majority of you comes from a wealthy background who could afford a proper education. So please take your smug remarks about those, who didn’t have that opportunity and possibly were religiously indoctrinated since their childhood, and shove them back where you probably pulled them out (hint: it’s not located in the head).
    Those pictures make me feel rather sad instead of superior.

          1. Now I see what you’re getting at … *that* sentence …

            Maybe you could tell from my comments anyway, but English is not my first language. I realise that, language-wise, I’m rather influenced by British movies &c., and what I wrote didn’t seem rude to me. Forthright maybe but not offensive. So there’s a foreign-language issue.
            The other thing is, that the expression which you refer to is actually something I would say in my native language (German), and again, it would be blunt rather than offensive. (Actually, it would even be funny.) I probably shouldn’t have literally translated this …

            1. what I wrote didn’t seem rude to me. Forthright maybe but not offensive. So there’s a foreign-language issue.

              The expression seemed amusing and perfectly innocuous to me, too, despite English being my native language. I think anyone who finds the word “shove” offensive is either an extraordinarily delicate soul or a poseur for effect.

              Or is it so much more decorous to suggest that a head should be pushed back into the appropriate orifice?

              1. There is nothing wrong or offensive with the word “shove”; what I said was that it was offensive in the context that it was given.
                I am an Australian from a lower working-class background, from a family of poor immigrants who never made it past junior high school in the previous generation. Like me, some of my many cousins managed to get an education, some weren’t interested, but none of them have ever demonstrated the pride in ignorance that seeps out of the faces in those photos. To be told, then, that “the majority of you” (wealthy background, proper education, etc.) need to “shove” “your smug remarks” “where you probably pulled them out” was like a slap in the face. I am neither a delicate soul, nor a poseur for effect.
                I have, however, spent decades coping with foreign-language issues (I speak Japanese more often than English now), and will promptly forget my momentary indignation, and hope that three14159265 may do me the favor of doing so too.

    1. I’d ask you to lighten up a bit, but am afraid you might misinterpret it as smug so I won’t.

      I can’t speak for everyone else, but those pictures certainly doesn’t make me feel superior or better than them.

      And no, I’m not rich or even properly educated and your assumption is slightly….well, arrogant.

      Yes it sucks that these people aren’t well informed about the natural processes occuring and the logical fallacies their questions represents, but let me ask you; Why is it wrong to laugh and comment on pictures of people holding up signs that are somewhat funny?

      How would you prefer we react?

      1. I didn’t make a remark about you (personally). My assumption is that the majority of people who read this website is well educated and scientifically interested and thus come from a background thats privileged. (And I would agree with you that a good education – scientific or otherwise – should not be a privilege, but right now, it is.)
        If my assumption is wrong in your case, then that’s good to hear. If my assumption is just plain wrong, then I apologise for my out-of-line remark.

        Also, it’s not wrong to laugh at the pictures. Actually, I did too. But there’s a difference between laughing and despising. I think it’s perfectly healthy to despise the institutions and leading figures who try to/have the means to keep people from examining the evidence themselves.

        Apart from that I have few preferences – I think comment #7 links to a good response. I laughed at all *those* too, even though I *do* agree with them. The remark “I require my textbooks to be newer than 400 years old.” is simply more satisfying than “I can’t believe how stupid you are.”
        And I also liked comment #13.

        1. No offence taken, so no apologies necessary, but thanks anyway. 🙂

          I suspect that most readers here are interested in the science as well as the other stuff, and it may very well be that many are well-educated, but I wouldn’t equate that as a special privilege compared to the folks on the photographs.

          They look fairly well fed and looked after, and the ability to open some books or googling for info on the web isn’t beyond their capacity….if you catch my drift.

          Pictures like this doesn’t make me sad and angry at anyone.

        2. Well I can tell you that I don’t come from a privileged background but I did make sure I was educated both formally and informally.

          I think this site’s comments are on the majority well thought out and not pervasively full of the snarky comments you reference. However, since you are seeing things from the other side (the side of those harmed by religion), perhaps you should also consider that many of the people that read this site have been directly or indirectly harmed by religion and they are entitled to express anger when they see harm of this sort done to others. That may come off as snarky but I don’t think it is, compared to other places on the interwebs.

          1. I often read the comments on this site, and I know that there is a multitude of intelligent commenters underway here … such as yourself or Jesper, for instance.

            If I’m completely honest, I may just have had the bad luck of picking out all the wrong comments, minus the presence of mind to reply to those directly. The majority of comments and replies for this article is (are?) indeed not of that kind! As if to prove that point, my somewhat rash original comment seems to have prompted some interesting posts further down …

            1. I’m far more interested in seeing you provide examples of “malicious” comments, since that is the root of the problem.

    2. While I also felt extremely depressed after seeing these, you can’t just ignore the willful ignorance. A complete and utter unwillingness to learn is something to be disdainful about, in my opinion. Perhaps that disdain is partially misdirected, as they are the product of their upbringing and experiences, but these people aren’t completely blameless when they’re only going to perpetuate their misguided beliefs.

    3. Seriously? Most of these questions could be easily answered with a simple google search and reading a wikipedia page. Sure, there could be some primary references behind a paywall, but nonetheless they demonstrate a willingness to stay ignorant. Not all highly educated persons are from a wealthy backgrounds, either. Sure we might be in the minority, but that is true for many occupations and not in any way restricted to academia.

    4. My parents were poor immigrants that couldn’t speak the language when they came to this country (USA)… ya these people aren’t too bright 😉

      While I believe most of their problem is that they’ve been brainwashed, they should be smart enough to know how to use Google.

      1. While I believe most of their problem is that they’ve been brainwashed, they should be smart enough to know how to use Google.

        This comment has turned up once or twice without challenge. Hm.

        I’d suggest Google is part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you go googling for information on climate change, the chances are that most of the sites you turn up are denialist ones, like Watts Up With That. If you go googling for information on evolution, it’s likely you’ll find lots of creationism. Google and the other search engines (I recommend GoodSearch, which aids charities) exercise no form of quality control over the results they give you. If the people in the photos turn to the internet for enlightenment, chances are they’ll simply find stuff that reinforces their misguidedness.

        Remember, Jenny McCarthy proudly boasts that she learnt all that fine information she has on vaccination by attending the University of Google.

        1. This is a good point. I often make the remark, “In the information age, ignorance is a choice” but I recognize that there is a strong confirmation bias that Google can’t always breach. Further, people who spout this tripe are not usually taught critical thinking skills or encourage to challenge authority.

        2. Right: “just google it” doesn’t solve the higher order problem, namely these poor folks do not know how to evaluate arguments, assess claims, etc. It is a bootstrapping problem, and I dont’t know how to teach it, especially to adults who haven’t been lucky enough to get what I got. (I have a saying “science begins at home”.)

          1. I agree that the web and all its pitfalls of misrepresented facts and outright lies can be a tricky partner, but with minimal computer skills and a bit of curiosity you can obtain quite a lot of facts.

            It goes without saying that some, maybe most, never look further than to AiG, evolutionnews or the sort, but the first step is to make the information available. The internet has made that possible and I am one those web-hippies who genuinely believe it primarily is a force for good.

            The more open floodgates of communication, the better, even though it requires you to sort out you garbage once in a while.

            1. Well, put it this way. Suppose I found both this site and AiG. Which one do I believe, assuming I do not remember the first thing about science?

              What I’ve called the “Chomsky fallacy” is assuming that the truth will somehow be convincing, and that logically and epistemologically correct will win. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. That’s why it is a bootstrapping exercise, and why I remember fondly hearing from my father how to figure things out, when I was presumably impressionable.

              An example I remember was when there was supposedly a “haunted house” just out of normal walking distance from our school growing up, and my sister and I wanted to go and check it out; I was already skeptical (having watched enough _Scooby Doo_ and _3-2-1 Contact_ and such, I think) that there could be such a thing. So one weekend my father sister and I walked over to check it out, at his request, and we spend 30 minutes poking around (carefully, outside only) an old boarded up building – later demolished. Other students in my school believed the story about the haunted house because they didn’t seem to know how to investigate, how to evaluate the claims, etc.

              1. Well, put it this way. Suppose I found both this site and AiG. Which one do I believe, assuming I do not remember the first thing about science?

                I think it depends on several factors and that it isn’t necessarily a given that a believer will choose the bible. If it was so I’d reckon creationism would overwhelmingly dominate the current understanding of biology.

                My point is there’s no real answers in genesis for those who keep looking. In other words, I think you’re underestimating the potential curiosity some of these people might have.

                What I’ve called the “Chomsky fallacy” is assuming that the truth will somehow be convincing, and that logically and epistemologically correct will win. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. That’s why it is a bootstrapping exercise, and why I remember fondly hearing from my father how to figure things out, when I was presumably impressionable.

                Again, I think you’re being a bit pessimistic. Speaking as someone who’s father didn’t inspire any critical or skeptical thinking in particular, I think it’s fairly common that people learn these things along the way, not as a bootstrapping exercise, but as a relatively gradual process with all kinds of different inputs along the way..

                In short, most people live and learn, imo.

        3. What I ment by using Google was to look up the specific questions in these photos… while they will get creationist hits, they will also be exposed to the other side.

      2. I don’t think the ability to use Google is a sufficient condition for being able to educate yourself. Try googling “do vaccines cause autism?” to see how well educated it will help you to become on that question.

  32. Note that homeopathy is recognized, approved and taught in many medical schools in Europe.

    In Switzerland, the compulsory health insurances also cover acupuncture, homeopathy and a few other “alternative” medical treatments as long as the doctors dispensing them have been properly trained in these disciplines:

    http://tinyurl.com/nwdg8vh

    See also:

    1. I added the video for comic relief. Nevertheless, homeopathy has been fully accepted as valid both in Switzerland and several other European countries, Germany among them.

        1. Satire asaide, homeopathy is not for emergency and acute medical problems – for those, surgery and allopathy are necessary. Homeopathy works best in treating patients with a tendency to various and recurring conditions.

            1. Bull! It is very effective against sinusitis, bronchitis and a large number of other chronic conditions. Don’t mock what you don’t know anything about. It even works on animals and many veterinarians here in Switzerland use it on dogs, cats and horses, among others, with great success.

              1. Yes, you can always rely on a publication dedicated to the subject of homeopathy to give an unbiased account.

                I see others have replied to you so I won’t belabor the point, other than to point out that for homeopathy to work, several fundamental aspects of our understanding of physics would need to be wrong. No-one has ever shown in a replicable way, for example, that water has the necessary “memory effect” required for homeopathy to work (and don’t try to wriggle out of it by citing “quantum” explanations; they’re the worst of the worst pseudo-science).

                The bigger and better controlled studies of homeopathy are, the closer the effects are to pure placebo. It is interesting though that apparently lack of god-belief doesn’t necessarily translate into a healthy skepticism of other magical claims.

              2. “It is interesting though that apparently lack of god-belief doesn’t necessarily translate into a healthy skepticism of other magical claims.”

                Yes. There’s this claim for homeopathy, and earlier the same poster claimed to have a secret cure for burns…

                And yet some atheists refuse to believe that not all atheists are rational…

              3. Regarding your 4 links.

                Two of those studies are from the 90’s, and one of them looks like it’s from a homeopathy journal. One is a preclinical study. They go all over, a huge warning flag that we’re dealing with a placebo: pain, allergies, depression. Those are subjectively evaluated, another red flag.

                Does this mean we should dismiss them? No.

                But I think you fail to understand the major problem here. It has to do with the impressive nature of the claim — and the paucity and inadequacy (not the total absence) of good evidence.

                There have been studies which purport to show that homeopathy is “more than placebo.” There have been many more studies which do not. And the studies which seem to have shown success have often been questioned — or ripped apart — for methodological flaws.

                These flaws are not ones which you or I can catch because we are simply not qualified. That is, I don’t know that you are not a qualified medical research scientist but I’m taking a leap and guessing that if were, you would have mentioned it earlier.

                Going to the University of Google and typing in “homeopathy studies” or whatever does not confer expertise in this area. For either of us. But only one of us is going against the major consensus of scientific experts in multiple fields. Remember, if the principles of homeopathy are true, then it will change both physics and chemistry. Homeopathic laws would not be limited to just people who

                Have any of the Science-Based Medicine proponents gone to the trouble of going through the 4 homeopathy studies you cite to catch weaknesses, mistakes, or misrepresentations? I don’t know. I know I’ve seen them do so for some studies, as an exercise in scientific methodology, but I don’t have the time/interest to spend an hour or two checking up.

                I did, however, find the Lancet one addressed in the link I gave you earlier:


                “The best this supposedly positive review could say was that while homeopathy did not appear effective for any specific medical problem, it looked like it might have some effects beyond that of a placebo. (quotation) …
                However, even this tepid conclusion did not stand up to further analysis, which revealed that this apparent effect was an illusion created by the inclusion of poor quality studies with inadequate controls for bias in the initial review. When the original authors re-analyzed their own work, they showed that the better one controls for bias, the less likely one is to see any effect of homeopathy, exactly as one would expect if homeopathy is a placebo.”

                Stop running around looking for articles to cite. Read some of the links which address why scientists are skeptical. It is not because this 18th century theory on the One Cure for All Disease is so cutting edge, cheap, or harmless.

              4. Maybe it doesn’t work on Americans – something in their drinking water, perhaps – but it works perfectly well on countless Europeans which is why in Switzerland it is recognized and covered by health insurance.

              5. It must work on Europeans because it’s covered by medical insurance?

                I’m assuming that is a joke.

                One of the common rationales for using homeopathy even though it is a placebo is that it siphons off what is called “the Worried Well.” This is the large group of folks who have aches and pains and vague and non-specific problems which don’t seem to have any obvious cause … but they’re not life-threatening. It also includes people with chronic conditions like auto-immune diseases which have no cure or useful treatment. Doctors don’t know what to do, they don’t want to keep giving them medicine or tests, so they send them to an Alternative Center where a homeopath holds their hand, takes their history, and gives them something which won’t actually hurt them because it’s evaporated water on a starch pill. The placebo effects often make these patients feel that they got something for their money.

                Insurance companies probably figure that the few lives lost due to using homeopathic treatment vs. spending more time & money to discover what is really wrong is balanced out by the large demand. Don’t kid yourself, there is money in homeopathy — especially considering the complete lack of actual ingredients.

                Seriously, please look around at some of the articles in the link I gave you. This is not a serious scientific debate where there is credible experts and evidence on both sides. Homeopathy is about as extreme a version of pseudoscience as you can get — and it is popular despite this (or perhaps because of this.)

              6. In Switzerland, health-insurance coverage of homeopathy (whose medicine are very, very cheap) is mandatory – it is not the choice of the insurances (they would rather not pay for them), it has been imposed on them by the government after extensive research on the subject. Only doctors who have studied homeopathy and are registered and authorized in that discipline are allowed to dispense homeopathic remedies and are listed as such are included in the insurance coverage. If a doctor is not in that official list, they are not allowed to dispense homeopathy remedies.

              7. Yet the list of authorized doctors is very long indeed. Go figure! We receive the list of authorized doctors in the canton of residence, and there are hundreds of authorized doctors in the Geneva canton alone – Geneva canton is one of the smallest Swiss cantons.

              8. I have seen this before – it is written by anti-homeopathy sympathizers quoting other anti-homeopathy sympathisers. Give me the actual report and not what anti-homeopathy writers think of it.

              9. Let’s apply the Ham test then. We’ve already said what it would take to convince us that homeopathy works: a large and growing body of high-quality clinical trials with positive results that stand up to critical scrutiny. (A coherent, non-magical theory of how it works wouldn’t hurt either.)

                Now it’s your turn, vierotchka. Given that you’ve dismissed the scientific consensus on this as an anti-homeopathy conspiracy, is there any conceivable evidence that could convince you that you (and the Swiss government) are wrong and that it doesn’t work after all? And if so, what sort of evidence would that be?

              10. The evidence for me would be that it has no effect on me, on my children, on my grand-children, on my brothers, their wives, children and grandchildren and on my cats.

                But it does have and always has an effect on all of the above, with great success where allopathic drugs were not having an effect.

              11. And if that alleged effect could not be reliably replicated under controlled conditions in laboratories or clinical trials, you’d still be comfortable trusting your own subjective judgment over the best available scientific evidence?

                Remember what Feynman said: “The most important thing is not to fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

              12. It is extremely difficult to fool me, neither have I fooled myself, and placebo effects do not work on cats but homeopathic remedies have cured a number of my cats when ordinary medicine did not work.

                But still, whatever rocks your boat…

                Scientists adamantly didn’t believe that sounds or images could be transmitted over vast distances, until Guglielmo Marconi and John Logie Baird proved them wrong.

              13. “It is extremely difficult to fool me, neither have I fooled myself”

                You’ve just given us an excellent example of a self-refuting statement.

                But hey, whatever floats your world.

              14. “Scientists adamantly didnt believe that sounds or images could be transmitted over vast distances”

                Citation please!

                And – – where is your homeopathic Marconi or Baird?

                /@

                >

              15. About the scientists, that’s something I read in a book many decades ago in school.

                There is a plethora of homeopathic Marconis and Bairds in Europe, which is why it is widely accepted here.

              16. I have seen this before – it is written by notorious homeopathy haters quoting other homeopathy haters. Give me the *actual* report and not what anti-homeopathy writers think of it.

              17. vierotchka wrote:

                The evidence for me would be that it has no effect on me, on my children, on my grand-children, on my brothers, their wives, children and grandchildren and on my cats.
                But it does have and always has an effect on all of the above, with great success where allopathic drugs were not having an effect.

                This misconception that personal experience is the gold standard goes right to the heart of what science is. There are just too many confounding factors in any individual’s health and life to be sure that it was the homeopathic remedy which was responsible for apparent improvement. So we test it.

                Believing that one is too smart, too careful, and too skeptical to be fooled has misled many brilliant people throughout history. It was only when we slowly evolved careful and rigorous checks and balances that human beings had a method which allowed them to escape being seduced by ‘what they had seen for themselves.’

                When you talk about the “anti-homeopathy sympathizers” you’re not talking about a few disgruntled cranks who won’t accept evidence no matter what. You’re attacking the overwhelming scientific consensus of experts in multiple fields for hundreds of years. These are people who have every incentive to jump on new discoveries and no reason to suddenly and inexplicably enmesh themselves in a conspiracy to ignore the truth.

                In other words, you’re not on the side of the angels on this one.

                And if you are serious about this issue, then I suggest you get yourself to forums where medical professionals hang out — like here or here or my earlier link — and make your demands to them. Because if you care about the process of honest critical thinking — and not just about jumping on the scientific bandwagon when it suits you and jumping off when it doesn’t — then this matters. Meet the appropriate experts on their own turf and give them the opportunity to respond.

              18. So now you believe in angels? Who’d have thunk it… you’re full of surprises!

                As for the rest of your post – I will no longer comment on the subject, faced with the fundamentalist extremism y’all have shown against things you cannot comprehend.

              19. Wait, you’re saying you do comprehend the mechanism of homeopathic cures? Please tell us what it is, along with the citations to the double-blinded controlled studies that prove the efficacy of those cures. Or are you saying that although you don’t understand how it works, you’re willing to go along with homeopathy on… faith? Because as we all know, Σ(anecdote) != proof.

              20. [Aconite in homeopathic relief of post-operative pain and agitation in children].
                [Article in French]
                Alibeu JP, Jobert J.
                Author information

                Département d’anesthésie-réanimation, CHU de Grenoble, France.

                Abstract

                Despite the use of modern analgesic methods and an improved use of narcotics, the combination pain-agitation sometimes persists in the recovery-room. Aconit seems to be an appropriate homeopathic treatment in this case. To prescribe it, the following conditions must be combined: violence and suddeness of the stress bringing about intense and anguish. The study included 50 children with such symptoms; it was carried out double-blind, the children being given either placebo or Aconit. Aconit proved to be effective for children’s postoperative agitation with 95% good results. It is usually stated in such studies that the placebo effect is high and may reach rates higher than 30%. Aconit is an amazing cure when well prescribed, as much for the speediness of its action as for its efficiency. This remedy has a place in the recovery-room and should be in every physician’s emergency case. The fundamental research could specify how the remedy works and may be discover other molecules effective for stress.

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2170921

              21. 1. Aconit (aka Wolf’s bane etc.) is a “herbal” medicine, not a homeopathic one. Unless the extract was diluted such that no molecules would statistically exist in whatever was given to the children, this wasn’t a study of homeopathic treatment. Unfortunately the abstract doesn’t mention the dilution ratios.

                2. The abstract only mentions “general” placebo effects, not the specific results for patients on the placebo arm of the trial.

                3. The abstract ends with, “The fundamental research could specify how the remedy works and may be discover other molecules effective for stress.” The fact that it’s even talking about “molecules” implies this abstract wasn’t diluted to a homeopathic degree.

                I think these study shows that low concentrations of an extract of a known poison can have an analgesic (+placebo) effect, just as willow tree bark does.

              22. Sigh. And you believe any concentration between pure extract and pure water (which is the homeopathic concentration) is lethal, do you? Clearly I know it’s a poison, because I mentioned it in my post! Warfarin can be pretty fatal too, especially to non-resistant rats, but that doesn’t mean low dosages can’t be beneficial, e.g. as an anti-clotting agent.

            1. It is not dangerous if used properly with doctors’ supervision. It works on animals too. Many veterinarians here in Switzerland successfully use it on dogs, cats, cattle and horses – where is the placebo there, eh?

              1. Fortunately in the UK we do know what we are talking about: > In December [2010] the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which governs the use of medicines in animals made clear that homeopathic treatments could only be classed as medicines, and thus prescribed by vets, if they were able to demonstrate efficacy. > > Homeopathic products cannot demonstrate efficacy to any satisfactory degree and so this means that they can’t be used by vets to treat animals. The use of homeopathy to treat animals “there’s no placebo effect in animals, is there, so it must work” the homeopaths claim has long been a mainstay of the homeopathy industry’s argument. > > The logic of the VMD’s decision is unquestionable. If it doesn’t have efficacy, it can’t be a medicine. And, ethically, if a medicine doesn’t work then a sick animal deserves to have real treatment not sham treatment. The danger of course is that people may be lulled into believing a homeopathic remedy is actually treating their pets or livestock, when in fact a treatable disease is being allowed to get worse. This is avoidable harm in other words, irresponsible behaviour or even animal cruelty. > http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2011/jan/05/homeopathy-ban-prescription-pets

                /@

              2. Whatever. A large number of farmers swear by it and have their vets apply it. If it didn’t work, they would stop doing so. Anyway, let’s agree to disagree. I have seen it work on animals and on children, as well as on myself.

              3. “I have seen it work”

                No, you haven’t, unless you’ve conducted a properly controlled, double-blind clinical trial. That’s the only context in which the true efficacy of treatment can be reliably discerned.

                No doubt you’ve seen people getting better (or at least looking better) after homeopathic treatment. But such anecdotes do not justify the conclusion that homeopathy caused the improvement. For that you need real science, and (as others have said) such science shows that homeopathy is no better than faith healing.

              4. Pointing out that homeopathy is popular in certain areas doesn’t address its credibility. When it comes to the science, it’s an epic fail. You may find this very informative. Homeopathy is the poster child for medical pseudoscience.

                Keep in mind that the “placebo effect” involves all sorts of things which would and could apply to animals — like regression to the mean. And while animals may be ‘blind’ to the method which has been used, the people who evaluate its effectiveness aren’t. Unless, of course, it’s a serious study — in which case the results show it doesn’t work.

              5. @ vierotchka

                “let’s agree to disagree”

                No, let’s not.

                You’re robustly skeptical on religion, it seems, but take a widely different tack re “alternative” medicine (the Gift before, homeopathy now).

                Would you agree to disagree with religionists? Clearly not.

                So, don’t expect me (and evidently others here) to agree to disagree with you on this!

                /@

              6. vierotchka wrote:

                Anyway, let’s agree to disagree.

                Since we’re so far down in the reply hierarchy we can no longer reply directly, the likelihood is that the subject can easily be dropped, if you so choose.

                But Ant’s point is valid. This is a scientific issue, not a disagreement about tastes or lifestyles. Your personal experiences do not lie outside of objective analysis and you apparently care enough about the topic to be open to exploring it.

                Take a look at my link in my earlier reply: it contains an exhaustive list of articles which explain why homeopathy seems to work, but does not and for all practical purposes can not. If it DID work, it would change our fundamental understanding of physics and chemistry and rewrite everything we think we know about the nature of reality.

                That makes it important. If your interpretation of your experience is right, then it would not be like finding out that willow bark is good for inflammation. It would be the equivalent of discovering that the earth does not move round the sun after all and the stars are small lights in the firmament.

                Among the articles at my link, here is a recent one which deals with the objections the pro-homeopathy vets make.

                WE can drop it. But you shouldn’t.

  33. To me there is something sinister about seemingly normal, friendly-looking people revealing their fundamentalist lunacy. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers comes to mind.

  34. If those pics represent creationism’s best arguments, why the $%#@ are the creationists converting anybody, instead of abandoning it in droves?

    Dave Lerner
    gophergold.wordpress.com

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