"It begins, I suspect, with religion."

Jim Downey's picture

Buddy of mine sent me a link to an excellent article that I'd missed. It's an opinion piece from the UK paper The Independent, and is trying to explain to the average Brit the hows and whys of the health care debate happening in this country. It's usually insightful to see how others see you, and this piece in particular is quite good. An excerpt:

Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason
How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?

* * *

Since Obama's rise, the US right has been skipping frantically from one fantasy to another, like a person in the throes of a mental breakdown. It started when they claimed he was a secret Muslim, and – at the same time – that he was a member of a black nationalist church that hated white people. Then, once these arguments were rejected and Obama won, they began to argue that he was born in Kenya and secretly smuggled into the United States as a baby, and the Hawaiian authorities conspired to fake his US birth certificate. So he is ineligible to rule and the office of President should pass to... the Republican runner-up, John McCain.

* * *

You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here's what's actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves – and 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" – and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

* * *

This tendency to simply deny inconvenient facts and invent a fantasy world isn't new; it's only becoming more heightened. It ran through the Bush years like a dash of bourbon in water. When it became clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, the US right simply claimed they had been shipped to Syria. When the scientific evidence for man-made global warming became unanswerable, they claimed – as one Republican congressman put it – that it was "the greatest hoax in human history", and that all the world's climatologists were "liars". The American media then presents itself as an umpire between "the rival sides", as if they both had evidence behind them.

OK, that sets the stage. Go read the whole article - it is quite good. But another paragraph towards the end is the reason why I mention it here. This one:

How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? It begins, I suspect, with religion. They are taught from a young age that it is good to have "faith" – which is, by definition, a belief without any evidence to back it up. You don't have "faith" that Australia exists, or that fire burns: you have evidence. You only need "faith" to believe the untrue or unprovable. Indeed, they are taught that faith is the highest aspiration and most noble cause. Is it any surprise this then percolates into their political views? Faith-based thinking spreads and contaminates the rational.

Bingo. "Impervious to reality", indeed.

Jim Downey

Thanks to Jerry for the link!

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Sudo's picture

Atheist, ++ ?

Is it axiomatic that an atheist must also accept the idea that the current health care bill is a good one? Or that gun control is a good idea? That man-made global warming is pushing us toward a real Armageddon? Must an atheist automatically accept every agenda item on the Democratic party platform?

I know my dad did when he decided to convert from Ron Paul-ism to Obamism. Every opinion the man held previously was thrown out and he adopted every agenda issue of the Democratic Party lock, stock, and barrel. I could predict his 'view' on a subject before hand by reading the official Obama party line. It was literally overnight, like a real bona-fide conversion. His talking points changed from one day to the next.

I'm not sure this is the appropriate place for this post, but the comments in the article seem to support the idea that everything 'conservative' is bad, and everything 'liberal' is good, without actually examining the merits of each position individually.

Is there anybody here (atheist or agnostic?) who has a concealed carry permit? Who thinks the current health care bill is a bad idea? How about Cash for Clunkers?

Please take me to task if I am way off base.

Regards,
Sudo

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Um...

Is there anybody here (atheist or agnostic?) who has a concealed carry permit?

*raises hand*

But since I live in Arizona, I just carry on my belt, mostly.

Hank Fox's picture

Oh, Crap.

First, my atheist bona fides: I’ve often felt I may be one of the most definite atheists alive. Because to me, religion is not some fluffy-bunny neighbor who happens to have not thought very much about reality. I think religion is a deadly fucking nightmare that has literally destroyed human civilization ... the one we MIGHT have had if reason and science had been the dominant force over the past 50,000 years or so.

That being said, my approach to the two parties is that they BOTH piss me off. A lot.

The difference, in the GW Bush and post-Bush era, is that the Democrats are usually merely incompetent, while the Republicans seem actively evil ... when they're not being batshit insane.

An example of incompetence in the health care reform debate:

If I'm understanding it (and I admit I've ignored as much of the mess as possible, so I may be ill-informed), a basic idea of reform is that EVERYBODY will be REQUIRED to be covered by insurance. Like the auto insurance laws (at least in my state), it will essentially be illegal not to have health insurance.

Mull that over with the idea of the public option, some sort of government sponsored insurer-competitor, which may or may not happen.

Then consider this: You currently have the freedom to not have insurance. Under the new law, if and when it passes, you won't have that freedom. You'll be REQUIRED to get it.

Without the public option, what we'll be getting is a blinding windfall for insurance companies: 50 million new customers in one whack.

I picture insurance execs dancing in glee to see it, and stockholder boards voting them multi-million dollar bonuses the next day.

The incompetence comes in that nobody is saying that. How much clearer can it be?

Yes, it's better to be insured. Everybody should have health insurance. The only question about the public option is whether you want to think of 50 million people now being forced by law to hand their balls to an insurance company, or to have the choice of thumbing their noses at the big corporations and get coverage from a government-sponsored competitor?

"Socialism" seems to work in providing roads and airports and parks and schools and military protection. I'm willing to try it in health insurance. (Bearing in mind that the very idea of “trying it” is nonsense, considering that it works elsewhere.)

........

And as to atheists toeing some party line, Sudo, I'm not sure you understand just how most people get to be atheists.

Regarding "Obamism" and "the official Obama party line," for instance, how can I put this gently?

Oh, yeah: Argh.

Forgive me, but you sound like someone who's been listening to a lot of right-wing radio and not using his own brain very much. The very use of the word "Obamism" -- as if this president is the center of a new religion -- is an expression of thoughtless bullshit.

Jeezus Farking Christ, if ANYONE was the center of a church-level brainless personality cult, it was George W. Bush. I kid you not, I asked a number of Bush-fans this question: "Can you tell me ANY mistake Bush ever made, ANY lie he ever told?" and not one of them had an answer. One guy was actually speechless -- it was like he couldn't even process the nature of the question. I lost friends during the Bush administration -- very old, very good friends -- for what I considered very mild criticisms of the man, and I don't know if I'll ever get them back.

Whatever adulation surrounds Obama is like minnows compared to whales. (The difference is that media scrutiny has changed from a telescope to a microscope: A member of the Bush White House could shoot a man in the face and walk away with an apology from the victim. Obama, on the other hand, is compared to Hitler -- fucking HITLER!! -- by prominent conservative voices simply for SPEAKING about public policy. AND NOBODY IN THE GOP CALLS THEM ON IT.)

What most of us have, what I suspect you're mistaking for worship, is HOPE. Hope that after 8 nightmare years of Bush and the massive damage he and the GOP did to America, that things will be different.

Yes, hope is a little bit irrational. Even so, it's about as far from religion as you can get.

....

Finally ... do you really NOT think global warming is happening? Or that it’s going to make, is already making, some radical differences to the livability of Planet Earth, and that the price to us all is going to be huge?

Sudo's picture

Third side of the coin

Hi Hank
Reading your post, I am reminded of many conversations I've had with my dad. He answers any criticism of Obama / Democrats with something about Bush. I have had to explain to him many times over that I don't like Bush, either. If one is just making comparisons between the two, then I suppose one can say Obama this / Bush that. But I prefer to see each issue on it's own merits, regardless of who proposes it. So when I dislike something about Obama, whether it's the cult of personality around him, it doesn't phase me or dampen that argument when someone says 'Well, BUSH...!!!' I can agree with you that the Christian Right loved Bush and still does... which doesn't mean that Obama does not have his own cult of personality, for example.

It's like saying Fox News is biased towards Republicans, while thinking at the same time that the rest of the news is not biased at all, they're just 'reporting the news.' In my opinion, they're all biased to some degree. That's why it's important to try to get your information from as close to the original source as possible, like reading the actual health care bill.

As to global warming, I can't answer yes or no cause I don't know what you mean by it. So I'll break it down - 1) global temperatures may be warming; 2) I don't think mankind has anything to do with it; 3) and no, I don't see a weather-caused Armageddon in our future, not real soon anyway (and soon I'm speaking in billions-year old Earth time. What usually happens is that I would offer some sources, you'd offer some sources, we'd both read what we want or discredit the others sources, and we'd be left holding the same opinion, so we'll skip that step. The next question is, is cap and trade the obvious and best solution to fixing this problem, even if it is exists. And that's another topic entirely.

I don't mean to step on any toes and if I offended you (or anyone here) by questioning about the stereotypical atheist values, I apologize. I don't know any atheist besides my dad in real life, so most of the opinions I see posited by atheists are from the web. I suppose I'd like to see a poll taken, with participants separated by religion or lack thereof, and see where they stand on the various hot topics of today. It'd be interesting to see how far off the stereotype the answers would be.

Cheers!

Hank Fox's picture

A Few Questions

I’m curious about a few things:

Black conservative Thomas Sowell once made the point that every human alive could fit within the borders of the state of Texas, with room for a house and yard.

Global warming is a single issue contained in the larger subject of environmental impacts. Just out of curiosity, do you think there are ANY damages humans are doing, or capable of doing, to the planet? Like, you know, extinctions, overfishing to the point of species collapse, leaving persistent poisons in the water supply, or possibly changing formerly forested areas into broad deserts?

Just off the top of your head, how many humans do you suppose the Earth can comfortably support?

....

You keep using the word “Armageddon.” Are you using it deliberately in the religious sense, or do you intend it more as verbal shorthand for a non-religious meaning of “massive catastrophe”?

You did say that your father was the only atheist you knew personally. Does this mean you yourself are religious? What faith tradition do you follow?

My own brother once told me that there was nothing to worry about, because if humans actually WERE capable of harming the planet, God could fix it up with a wave of his hand.

Is this something you find believable?

....

Finally, I’d be curious to know how you feel about evolution, or science in general.

Sudo's picture

A few answers

Hi Hank
Thanks for the thought provoking questions. I'll do my best to answer.

Do I think there ANY damages humans are doing, or capable of doing, to the planet?
Yes, I do. Pollution would be at the top of my list. After that, things like whaling, factory farming, etc. We are damaging the planet, but even if we are causing a centigrade raise in the temperature I do not believe it will cause global catastrophe.

Which is a segue into your next qustion, am I deliberately using the term 'Armageddon' in the religious sense. It's a bit of a tongue in cheek response to an article about global warming that said New York would be swallowed by tidal waves, polar bears hunting in the Everglades, etc. I don't believe in the Christian Armageddon, or the environmental one, either. The effects of it almost certainly amount to the same thing though, i.e. the destruction of life as we know it.

I should have clarified: my father is the only atheist I know personally other than myself.

I don't think there is a God that can fix everything with a wave of his hand (why hasn't he done it already, is my reply).

I think it's obvious that evolution has occurred, but I'm not as certain about some aspects of it as others are. I think there is a lot left to be explained, such as the 'how' of punctuated equilibrium and so forth occurred. Joe Rogan once commented about the amount of DNA we share with chimps, something along the order of 98%? He said if you don't think 98% is a lot, if he offered you a sandwich made of 98% shit and 2% beef, would you say it's more like a shit sandwich or more like a beef sandwich? All one has to do is look around them to realize we live in a real life 'Planet of the Apes.'

I accidentally passed over the question about how many humans the planet can support. I can't even begin to hazard a guess. Given optimum conditions, I think it would be a lot more than we may think, but that means no wars, no one interfering with food supply, no drastic water shortages, etc. We haven't hit the limit yet. I believe many of our problems such as starvation and so on are man made, rather than 'natural' or what have you.

There are other questions you didn't ask, but I'll answer anyway:
War - I want our troops home now. That's one promise I'm waiting on the President to fulfill. I hope it happens soon but it certainly doesn't look like it.
Guns - I am a lifetime NRA member.
Immigration - I would like to see a moratorium on immigration until we get the problem under control. 10% unemployment is too high to still continue to import people to work on H-2 visas in tech, medical, and other jobs, imo.
Taxes - Like you said about health care, I'd like to 'try' a national sales tax and lifting of the income tax. Or maybe a VAT tax.
Empire - I'd like to see a closure of our foreign military bases and the troops brought home; and the cessation of foreign aid.
Health care - I'd like to see a single payer system, but that doesn't mean the bill we have before us right now is the way to go. However, I know for a fact that Medicare and Medicaid fraud is RAMPANT. Without some type of provision to prevent fraud, the costs will kill us.
Welfare - I'm all for helping a man when he is down. But multiple generations of folks using the system has to stop. I'd like to see an end to birthright citizenship and 'anchor babies.'
Abortion - I don't think it should be illegal but I do wish there was some way to secure rights for the father. I don't know how this could be done, but right now I think fathers are screwed either way.
Environment - No cap and trade. No Kyoto. If the Chinese, Indians, and everyone else aren't signing on, we shouldn't either.
War on Drugs - Legalization of marijuana, and elimination of three strikes laws for drug offenses other than 'trafficking.'
Vice - Legalization of prostitution, gambling, etc. It's ridiculous the state can run legal gambling operations (lottery) but I can't bet on a football game outside of Nevada or Atlantic City.

As you know, all these are just opinions and our values are all subjective, so I'm sure we'll disagree on some of these. I added these other points so you and other folks here on the Inscrutable can see where I'm coming from, if you're interested.

Thanks again for the questions.

Cheers!

Jim Downey's picture

Uh-oh, Sudo . . .

. . . it sounds like you're one of us. I know, it takes a bit getting used to - I hardly ever commented here before an opening came up for a regular contributor, because I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that there were actually other people kinda-sorta like me out there. ;)

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

Hank Fox's picture

Heh.

Great answer!

I think you're missing some important understandings on environmental damage and the limits to human population, but we think alike on most of this stuff.

...

Re: "Armageddon" -- If a word has one meaning in your head, but a completely different one in the head of the person you're talking to, they always hear their meaning when they hear the word. You can think you're communicating, they might even nod and agree, but if the meaning you intend doesn't get across, you're not ... and the misunderstanding will eventually show itself.

That makes me over-careful with making sure I know what people mean when they use certain words. (I also know that the practice can be deliberate, and manipulative. The right-wingers are masters of it -- if they sponsored the "Save the Kittens" bill, you can be sure there'd be blood somewhere along the way, and probably kitten-fur coats for GOP wives.)

Regarding my own language, as I began to understand more about my own atheism, I discovered I could no longer use certain words. Because semantics is so closely tied into how and what we're able to think, I wanted to find out what thinking might be like with NO goddy words at all involved.

I'm still working on it.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Enjoying This

Man, what a great discussion! Thanks Hank and Sudo for prompting it. And Thanks Jim for writing the OP!

Jim Downey's picture

Um, you haven't been paying attention.

Is there anybody here (atheist or agnostic?) who has a concealed carry permit?

We'll just go with that, though I could address several points where I and others diverge from adherence to the traditional Democratic party beliefs.

Yeah, I have a CCW. If you didn't know that, then either you haven't been paying attention, or I haven't been as obnoxious on that point as I thought I had. Had mine since shortly after my state implemented "shall issue". And I carry *ALL THE TIME*, from the 642 currently in my lounging pants to a Para Ordnance Carry-12 .45 (with other options of a 9mm Rohrbaugh, a Steyr S9, a Steyr M357, a Colt Python .357 mag and a Colt Anaconda .44 mag - and that is ignoring half a dozen other pistols I consider un-viable options for CCW). In fact, I am best known around the world now for my participation in Ballistics By The Inch, a study of barrel length vs. velocity which sought to help everyone understand what the best options are in trading off conceal-ability for effectiveness. To date, we have had 1.2 million hits to our site (and it was launched less than a year ago), and is now referenced by countless gun forums around the globe.

For more about this, visit this blog post, which is something I wrote for a major regional newspaper 16 years ago. Or check out the BBTI blog. And that's just me - several others here are much more Libertarian than anything else.

Sheesh.

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

Sudo's picture

Attention

You're right, Jim, I haven't been paying attention. My apologies for posting a question for which the answer should have been obvious.

I certainly can appreciate your taste in firearms, though. :)

Jim Downey's picture

No worries.

That's OK, Sudo. At present my politics may *seem* to be in line with Democratic positions, but that's mostly just due to the fact that the GOP has gone so completely insane over the last decade or so. I've always considered myself an independent, and have worked to get both Dems and Repubs elected over the years. It can be a bit frustrating to only have these two (viable) options.

I snapped a bit at you because I have gotten sick and tired of the idiotic equation of "atheist" = "crazy liberal". And that "crazy liberal" = "hoplophobic". It gets old.

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

Sudo's picture

Snapped?

No worries, I didn't take your reply as harsh at all. Thanks though, for saying that.

Cat Faber's picture

I have no idea how Sudo got

I have no idea how Sudo got the impression those things are related.

No, I don't think the current health care plan is a good idea; it doesn't go far enough. What we really need is single-payer, like Britian and Canada have. It is remotely possible the current health care plan will be enough of an improvement to be worth the effort, but that's as far as I will go. But I'm sure there are atheists who will disagree with me.

I don't worship anything, not even guns. But there are atheists who like guns: heck, I had the impression that Jim likes guns, but I may be misremembering.

I'm a scientist and the science on global warming is clear, so yes, I believe in anthropogenic global warming. I'm not sure I would go so far as to predict Armageddon--especially since I thought Armageddon was supposed to be a war--but we're about to find out just how much raising the greenhouse gas concentration of the atmosphere by 50% really is going to change the planet. There are some large scale natural features and processes (Greenland ice sheet, North Atlantic thermohaline circulation) that bid fair to be seriously disrupted.

Many of these things the Republican party denies or outright spits on, so of course I'm not a Republican. But I don't believe these things and hold these attitudes because I'm a Democrat; the cause and effect runs quite the other way.

So maybe that's how Sudo got the impression those things are related; people who believe the science on global warming, think the worship of guns is overblown, or believe that a civilized country does not leave its people without basic medical care are not welcome in the Republican party so we tend to move on. Atheists are likewise not welcome in the Republican party, so there you go.

Sudo's picture

Related

They're all related in that they're standard Democratic talking points. The article linked Republicans and religion to the apprehension of the current health care bill, and I was linking Democrats and lack of religion to support of the health care bill, among other favored issues.

Karen's picture

Related

I think atheism and the Democratic talking points are related because they all represent wrestling with Reality. You may disagree with the solutions the Democrats offer -- and indeed, they do tend to be an inept bunch -- but the issues they're trying to address are real. (I'm sorry, I don't consider anthropogenic global warming to be a matter of opinion; but then there are lots of scientific facts, like evolution, that people don't "believe" in. This is sometimes through ignorance and sometimes through bullheadedness, religious or secular.)

The Republican voices I hear in the debates don't accept the reality of the issues. Therefore, they can't even get to the point of being useful, and offering alternate solutions to the problems. There's this vast area of non-debate that could be extraordinarily helpful to our country and our planet if it were being discussed, but we can't get the discussion going!

Sudo's picture

Global Warming

The only thing I'd suggest about global warming is to be as informed about the subject as you can, on both sides of the issue, before forming an opinion. I've come to my own conclusions after exhaustive research on both sides of the issue; in short, there doesn't seem to be enough CONCLUSIVE evidence to resort to programs like cap and trade.

If the scientists themselves are still debating the facts, we shouldn't remake public policy based on their initial conclusions.

And one always has to be mindful of who is sponsoring what study. Always follow the money.

Jim Downey's picture

As I was writing . . .

heck, I had the impression that Jim likes guns

Jim does indeed. Some people would call Jim a gun nut. Jim likes to tweak people's pre-conceived notions of where an appreciation of the 2nd Amendment lies within the conventional left-right dichotomy. Me, I see my position as consistent (no surprise), and I like things that go *BOOM* :)

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

Hank Fox's picture

More On Guns, But Not Really

Another atheist-"Democratic party line" dichotomy:

I've probably related it here in the past, but I have the fond memory of going out on the bayou in Houston and shooting a friend's .44 Magnum after the first Dirty Harry movie came out. He was 15 or 16, none of the rest of us were older than 18. Later, I took sharpshooting in college.

I happen to like Jim Downey here very much; he's a kindred spirit I know I could happily have, guns and all, as a neighbor now and into the indefinite future. (Hell, Jim, when I get out of this financial hole I’m in, I hope to have a beer with you some day ... AND get to admire your collection.)

Yet I don't own any guns myself. Worse, I think those people showing up at presidential town hall meetings with semi-automatic weapons are mouthy showoffs, and probably cowards to boot.

In the Real World, the actual freedom demonstrated at an Obama town hall meeting -- where people obviously CAN show up with handguns and rifles without getting arrested -- is about a thousand times more free than during the Bush administration ... where protesters carrying mere signs were not allowed within blocks of Bush, and where people doing nothing more than wearing critical t-shirts were instantly arrested.

If anyone had attempted to show up at a Bush public appearance with a semi-automatic rifle, he would STILL be in jail with a Secret Service telescope up his ass.

The Bush administration were obvious fascists. Yet in simple psychological projection, the fellow-traveler fascists who are still with us on radio and TV have to make Obama look like a dictator instead.

Every possible issue they can throw up to divide Americans, they throw it up. Because it's all about controlling people, and because that's all fascists care about.

davidmabus's picture

impervious to reality, eh

impervious to reality, eh Jim!

Jim Downey's picture

Well, hello, Dave.

I thought you were much to busy spamming people with your inane and insane rants to show up and post, but I'm glad to see that isn't the case. We miss you, and your, um, unique perspective on reality. Please, my good man, tell us more of your efforts to prove all us godless heathens wrong - it is such good comic relief. You really should take that show on the road, you know.

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

davidmabus's picture

jim is a liar

you are just a little liar like you have always been, jim

Jim Downey's picture

Hmm. My doctor would disagree.

Little? At 6' 2" and 245 pounds, my doctor would disagree there, Davey-boy. But I do appreciate the encouragement! Thanks!

Jim Downey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like Science Fiction? Read *or listen to* my novel, Communion of Dreams, for free.

davemabus's picture

you're FINISHED

nothing you liars ever say or do means anything:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/640-million-dollar-challen...

HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=264

the objective was simple:

1) to reveal that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet who could predict
the future with 100% accuracy;

2) to demonstrate that prophecy and atheism are not compatible with
each other and are mutually exclusive;

3) therefore dawkins, pz, randi and their skeptic atheist followers
were deluded liars...

and we achieved our MISSION 100%...

http://www.zerotime.com/lostbook/nospre.htm

"For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son,
until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfillment
is complete. Then *****several times***** in the course of the doleful
tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and
show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods
and continual rain of which I have written more fully in my other
prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence,
in prose, limiting the places and times and ****EXACT DATES**** so
that future generations will see, while experiencing these
****inevitable events****, how I have listed others in clearer
language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be
understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the
matter will be clearer still."

UNDERSTAND?

RodM's picture

You're delusional

You're delusional

Nemo's picture

Taking Mabus more seriously than he deserves...

Nostradamus is mostly gibberish. He requires strained interpretations to make his "prophecies" apply to anything at all. But the biggest problem with "validating" Nostradamus is that you're doing post-diction: you take things that you already know happened, and see if you can find them in his writings.

The real test of prophecy is to make an unambiguous prediction of a future event -- something both improbable (it can't just be a natural, obvious progression of events already occurring) and specific (not vague poetic ramblings that allow for later reinterpretation) -- and wait for it to happen. No prophecy has ever passed this test.

If the prophecy can only be "understood" after it's come to fulfillment -- it's bullshit.

Hank Fox's picture

Nostrildamus Predicts Bumper Crop of Christian Nose Hair

But how does all that fit with the fact that Nostradamus recanted on his deathbed and became an atheist, because he foresaw the withering-away of religion and the eventual relegation of all ardent faithheads to mental health care facilities?

On a totally different subject, mainly because you've moved at near-light-speed past boring into the zone of "I think I'll have a cerebral hemorrhage if I have to read another one of that guy's listlessly dull and repetitive rants," there's this much more interesting tidbit from the British faux-news:

"'Octomom' Squirts Black Ink at CBS Anchorwoman"

frankmoorman's picture

ooooh, it just hit me

A match to die for: Octomom and Sarah Palin ... nutwing super-heroes

Frank Moorman, skeptic
"what is the point of giving persons Freedom of Speech... if you then say they must not utilize same? And is not the Power of Speech the greatest Power of all? Then surely it must be exercised to the full." --Salman Rushdie

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