Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

High School Censors RichardDawkins.net

Granted, it might have been more beneficial for me to be paying attention in class, but I’ve always thought that the RichardDawkins.net website was pretty darn educational (it is the website of an educational foundation, after all). They have podcasts about evolutionary science, links to stimulating articles, a banner asking non-believers to donate to Haiti. Today when I tried to access RichardDawkins.net today from my school’s Internet network I got a message that said that the website was blocked.

Observe (click to embiggen)

Perhaps it was an honest mistake… I’ve very politely e-mailed the peeps who do this stuff so maybe they will unblock it. If not, I shall update here.

Update: Somewhat unrelated, but I just thought I’d share the mission listed in my school district’s twitter page.

To inspire every student to think, to learn, to achieve, to care

Far as I can tell RD.net does three of the four.

Update: So the school unblocked it (yay!). The e-mail I got was that the site was categorized as “social opinion” which ordinarily wouldn’t have been blocked for the high school but apparently the network was accidentally set on the elementary school filter which does block social opinion.

So…

  1. By bringing this to their attention I actually fixed a broader mistake
  2. I’m wondering how corrupting an influence a social opinion website really can be on the elementary schooler mind… Given the assumption that critical thinking is generally not present in elementary school (not that it becomes rampant in high school) I shall tentatively accept that somehow RD.net and other websites of a similar vein are inappropriate in elementary school.

ABC Article on Creation Museum Visit Misrepresents Atheist Bus Slogan

The recent Creation Museum visit taken by 300 secularists has been getting lots of attention and even an article from ABC. While overall I found the article to be pretty fair and balanced, I couldn’t help noticing that there was an error. You may have heard the story of Derek Rodgers (namedrop: I knew him personally before he became famous!) who got kicked out for wearing a shirt that said “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” In the article, the shirt, and the bus campaign slogan, is quoted as saying “There’s probably no God, so get over it.”

Now, a quick Google image search, and the above photo (although you still can’t really see the shirt all that clearly) are evidence that that’s not what the slogan actually says.

Minor error? You might say that, but there’s also some cheesy saying about the devil being in the details.

I would say that there is a big difference between saying that the shirt said “stop worrying and enjoy your life” and “get over it.” The devoutly religious will probably still be offended either way, but the average passerby who reads “get over it” probably thinks to himself or herself “humph, those rude Atheists are at it again being rude” whereas they’d be less likely to react negatively to the former.

So what did I do about it besides hash out a blog post? I sent ABCNews.com an e-mail using this comment form with the category of “Inaccurate Information”, told them I was an acquaintance of Derek Rodgers and happened to know what the shirt said, and politely suggested that they Google-image searched the Atheist Bus Campaign.

What I’d like to know is why more people don’t seem to get worked up about this sort of thing. My experience with a few non-atheism-related errors in articles in the past is that they get fixed. The BBC once did a sloppy job of changing an article that said the Columbine shootings occured “in Denver, Colorado” by saying they occured “near Denver” but these people pay attention to these things nonetheless. They do have reputations at stake.

And Atheists have reputations too.

News sources usually do have means of contact for tips like these from the general population and they’re not hard to find. What I don’t understand is why more people don’t do that. If you can write a letter to a senator, or, hell, if you can get worked up because somebody once spread a nasty rumor about you at school, you can find the motivation to fix errors in widely read news sources where people get their information from.

And again, here’s a link to that small little contact form.

Look to Norway!

Today this comic showed up on RichardDawkins.net:

lol.

Well, yeah, it’s funny, but something here caught my attention and made me flex my Google muscles and that is…

Norway is ranked first in the world in life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living.

Hold on… Norway has the highest life expectancy, literacy rate, education, and standard of living? Well… let’s take a look at a few links.

Well, it’s not actually first at any of the things listed in the comic so it’s not exactly honest, is it? But yes, that is damned good, and it shows that nations can be just as good as the U.S. with a primarily atheistic population…

But might I point out one thing? Canada ranks higher in life expectancy than Norway, ranks equally in literacy, is in first place for most educated, and is also among the top ten countries with highest living standards. The U.S. also doesn’t do too shabby with a life expectancy of 78.06 (so Norwegians get one or two more years), a shared literacy rate, second place in education, and also has a place on highest standards of living.

I’m going to go ahead and say, though it’s not as secular, statistically speaking…

Canada > Norway

Update: I present a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.

You know what this means? FDR had the foresight to know that Norway would be the cause of the Iraq War! Another reason why Canada > Norway!

Putting it Simply

Recently this article appeared in the Guardian which appears to be accusing Hitchens, Dawkins, etctera of wanting to take away the liberty of freedom of religion and, therefore, not being liberals.

Russell Blackford has a great response here but as it is something that people could potentially accuse the Atheist movement in general of, I thought I’d sum up Terry Eagleton’s error in one sentence:

In all his fancy wording about the “liberal state” he makes it clear that his flawed assumption is that Atheists want to make our beliefs about the harmfulness of religion public policy.

Well, he’s right insofar as we want a secular state in which religious beliefs which require “faith” don’t form public policy. This is for a good reason. We shape our morality around our perception of reality. If your morality is shaped around something that can’t be empirically demonstrated to people  who don’t share that faith (i.e. God told me that gay marriage is wrong), then you can’t expect them to form morality around your perception of reality.

Yeah, I’d like there to be more Atheists in the world (at least fewer fundamentalists), but I don’t plan on doing that by taking public office and banning religion (although I may tax churches). I plan on doing that by the less effective, but “liberally” permissible means of free speech through debating Christians, writing blog posts, while others add to Atheist literature.

That’s it. All we want. Tell me about how us Atheists are just-as-bad-as-fundies again? “Militant” rationalists? Western supremacists? kthx

Blog Rankings and Stuff

The Atheist Blogger has recently created his own Atheist Blog ranking system. I’m not in one of the top 30 spots anymore, but that’s perfectly fine with me. I got a better spot.splendid42

If you don’t get why that’s better than 27, go pick up a copy of Hitchiker’s Guide and don’t you dare set foot back here until you’ve read it cover to cover.

I’m Popular*!

*In the blogosphere. Not by far at school.

Yesterday Hemant Mehta put out a list of the 30 Most Popular Atheist Blogs. Yours truly managed to squeeze herself onto the list at number 27, with Teen Skepchick just a few spaces up at number 25.

Well, that was a surprise. There was a point in time when I checked my Technorati Authority somewhat regularly but I haven’t done that in a while.

Anyway, this is cause for celebration.

But wait! There’s more! Apparently my Technorati Authority is exactly 42!

On a completely unrelated note, I frequent a chatroom called Secular Chat. It’s a great place to socialize with Atheists, agnostics, the occasional secular theist, and general skeptics of religion. Discussions aren’t just centered around religion but cover a wide range of intellectual to casual topics. Pop in and say “hi” to me sometime if I’m there.

Buses and Things

I just thought I’d share two of the bus ads I made through the bus ad generator of win.

It turns out that I also have an obsession with the Obamaicon generator

Okay, say it. “Darn kids with your new-fangled online image-generating devices!”