Archive for December, 2010

The Erosion of Antipathy Against Atheists


Coyne was having a tiff with an accomodationist type, again, and he pondered whether anyone could show any impact of the GNU Atheism on public opinion–has it become more respectable to be an atheist? You can’t really pinpoint dates for things regarding the current uprising against religious hegemony, but the defeat of  Bush the elder was partly motivated by people standing up to the religious right. Above I present four representative years at ten year intervals charting the proportion of Americans in the General Social Surveys who thought that people who were anti-religious should not be allowed to teach in a college or university. I always like to keep track of how many of my fellow Americans think I should be fired.  While Americans are quite intolerant with over 59% favoring discrimination against atheists, there is a strong dip in anti-atheist sentiment after 1988–where it plummets from 52% to 38% a decade later.  After that, it is pretty stable through the 2000s at around 37%. That’s pretty good, given that about 30% of Americans are raving fundamentalists who think that people who don’t accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior should not be allowed to vote or be employed in any public office. That isn’t going to change. So, what this means is that almost EVERYBODY who isn’t a fundy respects the right to be irreligious.

Social Pseudoscientific Regurgitation Council


Bertrand Russell Says: Theology isn't even Philosophy, much less Science!

I feared the worst the first time a couple of religion graduate students approached me regarding the new focus on religion at the Social Science Research Council. At first, when contacted by e-mail, I was somewhat excited, and thought that maybe it could provide research support for scholars doing actual social scientific research on religion. But, when I hooked up with a couple of the boys at ASA that year, I immediately began to worry. I thought to myself, Why is someone from the Graduate Theological Union running something at SSRC? Back in the day, SSRC provided a lot of support for real research, most of it comparative and historical. Maybe they still do that so long as you aren’t trying to study religion.

For religion, the SSRC seems to have become yet another foxhole for liberal religious people who like to muse about various things and rag on atheists. They had an entire fucking segment on redefining secularism, and as near as I could gather from the fuzzy thinking by various religious types, they wanted to redefine secularism into religion. Wow! That’s Great! What the fuck kind of “social science” is that? Religion people are like germs, they infect things and take over. The SSRC transformation is right in line with the cooptation of other scholarly organizations by religious entrepreneurs. They’re well networked, willing to volunteer, and they lack other employment opportunities.  They’ve put together a few interesting things which were genuinely social scientific (for the most part), and I’ve even contributed a couple of posts. But, the vast majority of contributions are nothing short  of theological drivel, with no social scientific import or content. Most of the segments and featured books are works by theologians, bullshit philosophers (theologians who are no longer employed in divinity schools), and English professors (theologians who don’t even know anything about theology). On the rare occasion that a sociologist or political scientist addresses an issue at the Immanent Frame, it is almost always someone who thinks “scientific” and “empirical” are epithets.

What bugs me is what coulda, woulda, shoulda happened at SSRC. They don’t have the bucks of some of the conservative foundations like Pew and Templeton, but maybe they could have at least countered some of the bullshit that passes for social scientific research. Just recently, real researchers once again showed that right-wing nutcase christianist pseudoscholars made up analyses claiming to show adverse effects of  abortion on women’s health.  The christianists benefit from a huge wad of money funding their fake research, and a gigantic megaphone touting their fictitious findings—which even influenced recent Supreme Court decisions on abortion. The real researchers did it on their own dime, and the “press release” from UCSF was only picked up on a WaPo blog by chance, months after the article appeared in Social Science and Medicine. In the meantime, the right wing pundit classes are now drooling over the latest bullshit fake studies from rightwing tools claiming to show that the decline in women’s submission to their husbands created the rise in inequality in the United States. In the meantime, over at SSRC’s Immanent Frame, the feature is how liberal education is like soulmaking (huh? I didn’t know science had discovered souls!), and the mediation of culture and nature (huh?). Wow.  SSRC is now using scarce resources to tout wackjob theology that looks like something cooked up as a parody by Alan Sokal. Thanks.

The Torture Has Stopped: Captain Beefheart Don Van Vliet: 1941-2010


The torture finally stopped, at least for Don. For the rest of us, it goes on and on….

Variation. Zappa. Variable.



Shut Up!!!!

Black Napkins soaking up Zappadan Puddin’ sauce spillage




First Miracle of Zappadan:A White Zappadan with Black Page


Gee, looks like snow. Not even yellow. I’m so cute.

Knocking the Jockies Off the Lawn, Can You Redeem Us?



These kids made me cry. Uncle Remus.  Always a point of reflection, especially in the unholy, not-nearly-a-month of Zappadan. Keep your nose to the grindstone. It may redeem you, and it’ll definitely give you this wicked kind of sneezy feeling when the grindstone starts honing through your nasal cavity.

We’re still dumb all over—Aún estamos mudos de todo–Viva Zappadan!


Yes, the most important irreligious festival of the year, the unholy days of Zappadan are now here. Eat that Pork, eat that ham, laugh till  you choke on Billy Graham. Religious fanatics continue to steer the planet into oblivion to please their sadomasochistic gods.

Beginnings and ends on the cusp of Zappadan



Strange days. A friend died suddenly. Just out shopping, never sick, always healthy, always happy. She really liked Owen, and was playing with him just that week. You never know.

Mom turns 80 on the first day of Zappadan. I’m gonna see if Sears still has any ponchos, and if they do, I’ll buy one from the Mexican grocery.