Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XVIII

15 06 2008

The week in fundie:

  1. In Tanzania, albinos used to be the object of simple persecution, for much the same mindless and irrational reasons that such people would be ostracised anywhere in the world: because of their physical appearance. Now, because of a belief across Africa that albinos have magical powers, and because witchdoctors are promoting the belief that potions containing albino skin, bones and hair can make people wealthy, albinos are being hunted for their body parts. The New York Times reports one such case:

    The young are often the targets. In early May, Vumilia Makoye, 17, was eating dinner with her family in their hut in western Tanzania when two men showed up with long knives.Vumilia was like many other Africans with albinism. She had dropped out of school because of severe near-sightedness, a common problem for albinos, whose eyes develop abnormally and who often have to hold things like books or cellphones two inches away to see them. She could not find a job because no one would hire her. She sold peanuts in the market, making $2 a week while her delicate skin was seared by the sun.

    When Vumilia’s mother, Jeme, saw the men with knives, she tried to barricade the door of their hut. But the men overpowered her and burst in.

    “They cut my daughter quickly,” she said, making hacking motions with her hands.

    The men sawed off Vumilia’s legs above the knee and ran away with the stumps. Vumilia died.

    The article also refers to the murder in Kenya of an albino woman, whose eyes, tongues and breasts were gouged out. This is where magical thinking can lead, people. It can lead to superstitious thugs breaking down the door of your house and hacking your children to death. (HT: Dogma Free America. See also The Standard.)

  2. A Saudi government-controlled school in suburban Washington DC uses textbooks that instruct that it is OK for Muslims to kill ex-Muslims, adulterers and polytheists. (AP)
  3. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on The Family, the “most influential and enduring religious force” in US politics that you never knew existed.
  4. Mark Steyn may be a hysterical moron, but that doesn’t justify his Orwellian-cum-Inquisitorial treatment at the hands of British Columbia’s “Human Rights” Commission. (CBC News)
  5. But things aren’t all bad in British Columbia. In a Supreme Court ruling, a Jehovah’s Witness couple has been denied the right to murder their children in the name of religious dogma. (AFP)
  6. The Church of Scientology has employed “fair game” tactics against a disabled critic, filing a false report of “assault” against him, and reporting his cultivation of medical cannabis. (Bay Area Indymedia)
  7. Scientologists have also employed deception in order to proselytise to students at a Catholic school assembly in Vancouver. A CoS front-group, “Youth for Human Rights International,” held a presentation at the assembly without disclosing its links to Scientology, and distributed pamphlets listing L. Ron Hubbard as a “famous human rights leader.” (Media Syndicate)
  8. And because I know you can never get enough Scientology nuttery in a single day, HULIQ reports on a leaked 1968 recording of L. Ron Hubbard in which the Scientology founder advances the thesis that stories about Jesus are “alien implants.” Hubbard also expounds on Scientology’s creation myth, for which see the South Park episode “Trapped in the Closet.” MP3 recordings and transcripts of the 1968 lecture are available at Wikileaks.
  9. A whiny Christian student who (a) thinks she has a right not to be offended, and (b) regards critical thinking (especially about one’s own beliefs) as offensive to her beliefs, filed a complaint with the American Center for Law and Justice (a Christian fundamentalist law firm founded by Pat Robertson) after her philosophy professor projected a “C” grade based on her resistance to “providing any reasoning to support her assertions.” Said law firm then told lies, contra Biblical Commandment number 8 (if you’re Catholic) or 9 (if you’re Protestant), claiming that its intervention (it sent a strongly-worded letter to the nasty evil oppressive philosophy professor) had saved the student from a failing grade she was never projected to get in the first place, and falsely accusing the professor of hating “the very idea of Christians.” (7thSpace; see also Friendly Atheist)
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8 responses

16 06 2008
Albinos und Wurzelgemüse | DER MISANTHROP

[…] Wie also soll es möglich sein, das eine ohne das andere zu bekommen? fivepublicopinions – Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XVIII [↩] « Engel in ihrer Kehle Dieser Eintrag wurde von Benjamin B. verfasst, in der […]

16 06 2008
Bruce

#1) That’s just nasty. Absolutely horrifying.

When arguing generally with religion and/or woo, the “supernaturalists” (for a lack of a better word) a quick to remind us that they aren’t all killers and assorted nasties and that exaggerations are being made. I think perhaps the opposite may possibly be the case, at least globally speaking.

16 06 2008
arthurvandelay

They would probably also remind us that there would be several other factors at play in the Tanzanian story: namely poor access to proper health care. (I would add traditionalism and a lack of education, particularly human rights education. If someone wants to accuse me of being a Western cultural imperialist for saying that, they should take it up with those Western cultural imperialists in the Tanzanian government, who have condemned the killings of albino citizens and are providing them with police escorts.)

Anyhoo, as Brian Dunning pointed out in a recent episode of his Skeptoid podcasts, alternative medicine apologists–and what is alt med but witchdoctory in a cheap tuxedo?–will make a parallel case to that set out above: they cite the prohibitive costs of reality-based medicine (Skeptoid is a US podcast) as a reason for opting for untested snake oil.

17 06 2008
Bruce

…and what is alt med but witchdoctory in a cheap tuxedo?

Depends on your definition of alt-med. If you include things like St John’s Wort for depression (which in double blind placebo trials has been shown to be marginally, but statistically significantly more affective than the placebo to the same degree as most SSRIs) then no. Some alt-med in such cases is science based.

Same goes for things like glucosamine and chrondroitin, which both demonstrably ameliorate the symptoms of arthritis. Ginger re:high blood sugar, Ginkgo re:peripheral circulation and some impotence, Saw Palmetto re: prostate health (a lipid in Saw Palmetto berries is a DHT inhibitor and a mild aromatase inhibitor), Lycopene re: prostate health, soy isoflavones re: menopause and so on and so forth.

There is no formal demarcation around “alt med” which has allowed cowboys to operate on both sides of the debate. On one hand, marketing and hype surrounding homeopathy and “scienciness” has enabled snake oil salesmen to borrow from the respectability of research into similar (from the consumer’s perspective) products.

Conversely, people with either a chip on their shoulder about anything alternative to drug company manufactured, or indeed, an interest in the drug industry, to engage in pseudo-skepticism. St John’s Wort vs SSRIs is a classic example.

This of course doesn’t save the supernatural-based, woo products and services.

17 06 2008
AV

Fair enough.

17 06 2008
ozatheist

3. I read that article in the SMH about ‘the family’ really quite scary.

17 06 2008
ozatheist

9. OK, it’s late, I’m tired, I’m BUI; but I think even in the sober clear light of day that story still won’t make any sense.
Why do we pander to these idiots?

17 06 2008
AV

Is it the story that doesn’t make sense, or my re-telling of it? (Both are possible.) Anyway, these idiots are pandered to in the US because they are numerous enough to constitute a powerful voting bloc. So it is in the interests of Christian Right culture warriors to push the “nasty-atheist-professor-persecuting-the-poor-meek-little-lamb-of-Christ” meme, whatever price honesty and integrity.

The question I’d like an answer to is this: why do self-professed Christians tell lies?

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