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Lying For Jesus [Part III – The Sneak-Attack Baptism]

Thursday September 10, 2009 3 comments

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

That’s Mark 16, verse 15 (KJV). It also happens to be the impetus behind Christians going out and knocking on doors at 9:00am on Sunday mornings. As bad as that is, I don’t have a problem with it. I think if they’re that compelled by an ancient book that can’t even maintain internal consistency, then bring it on.

What I’m not ok with is lying to gain converts. Deceiving children, no less. Lying to parents and the children in order to get a few more baptisms under your belt. I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t keep a scorecard, or a running tally on what church gets the highest number of baptisms or converts.

Last month (August 26, 2009) Breckinridge County High School (Kentucky) football coach Scott Mooney led a group of players from their school’s football team to see what he told the parents and children would be a “motivational speaker” and a steak dinner. What Mr. Mooney failed to mention to anyone was the fact that this “motivational speaker” was the pastor of his church, Ron Davis (Franklin Crossroads Baptist Church). And the “steak dinner” was, in fact, a mass baptism and the teammates were to accept Jesus Christ as their “Lord and Savior” as a way to, as coach Mooney said, “bring the team together.”

So coach Mooney used peer pressure to get all of those teammates baptized in his church. He lured them under a false premise of going to see a “motivational speaker.” Not only this, but he used a public school bus, with the expressed permission of superintendent of the district, Janet Meeks.

What seems to be at issue here is the fact that believers take Mark 16:15 and use it as an excuse to do whatever is in their power to force their religion on everyone they can, honestly or not, willfully or not. If you have to lie, cheat and deceive to get a few more converts, then all the better for the receiving church.

Thankfully, one of the teammates parents is considering legal action against the school district. A lawyer, Bill Sharp, from the ACLU was contacted and he said that…

The message conveyed to the students is there’s an official endorsement.

And also that…

There’s certainly a coercive element. He’s in a position of authority.

I think one of the biggest tragedies of all wasn’t even the fact that these kids were corralled into a big baptism fest. The biggest problem for me was the fact that when one of the kids was asked by his parents, after returning from the trip, what baptism actually means, he hadn’t a clue. This entire process was nothing more than a “getting saved” assembly line. Pump ’em through the system and get them into the fold as quickly as possible, before they realize what’s happened to them.

I think this is a big problem with the mentality of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. They’ve got this mindset that they have to get everyone saved as quickly as possible. They just need to get as many people  as possible to say a certain prayer as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not they understand what’s going on. The important part is that the person says the words just right.

Anyway, if all goes well and the parents follow through with their legal action, hopefully any faculty involved in this incident will be fired, including the coach and the superintendent.

The public school system is not a place to push your religion on children. And more importantly, without permission from their parents – and that means ALL of the parents… not just the Jesus lovers of the group.

My conclusion? Believers, stick to knocking on doors at 9:00am on Sunday morning. Keep your religion out of the school system. Also, Mark 16:15 doesn’t condone lying, cheating or deceiving in order to follow through with that verse. Remember the 10 Commandments? Bearing false witness?

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Reflexology Is A Science? So Says “The Citizen” (Auburn, NY)

Thursday July 23, 2009 81 comments

So I was browsing through “The Citizen,” the online local paper from Auburn, NY and stumbled upon an article about reflexology. You know, the “holistic,” alternative mode of treating basically any disease by rubbing your feet? Yeah, I was caught off guard, too.

According to this article, reflexology is a science. Oooh. Sounds scientific… until you get into what reflexology really is.

Reflexology (zone therapy) is an alternative medicine method involving the practice of massaging or applying pressure to parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, or to improve general health.

Improve general health? Wait a minute. That sounds pretty vague. I think I’ll need some more information before I buy into something like that.

The article says that…

It is a science because it is based on physiological and neurological studies…

Really? I’d be curious to read about those studies. Where will I find them? The New England Journal Of Medicine? The Journal Of The American Medical Association? A quick search on PubMed doesn’t reveal any studies concerning the efficacy of reflexology, or that even address the claims that reflexology makes. So much for that claim.

What I want to direct your attention to is the following statement from this article

…but the art of reflexology must not be confused with a basic foot massage. It is a pressure technique which works on precise reflex points of the feet. This is based on the premise that reflex areas on the feet correspond with all body parts.

Reflexology

Put simply, this whole “science” of reflexology is based on a false premise. There are no “reflex points” on the feet which correspond to any other body parts. This is simply New Age, woo woo, nonsense.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D. points on in an article on QuackWatch that…

The pathways postulated by reflexologists have not been anatomically demonstrated; and it is safe to assume that they do not exist. Similar rationales are used employed by iridologists (who imagine that eye markings represent disease throughout the body) and auricular acupuncturists who “map” body organs on the ear (a homunculus in the fetal position). The methodology is similar in both of these; and some commentators consider pressing on “acupuncture points” on the ear or elsewhere to be forms of reflexology, but most people refer to that as acupressure (“acupuncture without needles). The Reflexology Research Web site displays charts for foot and hand reflexology. The fees I have seen advertised have ranged from $35 to $100 per session.

Strange. This supposed “science” has not been anatomically demonstrated. Not much of a science, if you ask me.

Now, the author of this article, Diane DelPiano gives a decent, although short, account of the history of reflexology. But, the article is altogether credulous of the claims made. She goes on to say that…

Reflexologist’s believe that granular accumulations of waste matter called uric acid crystals concentrate around reflex points. With training, you can feel these accumulations. The goal is to break these accumulations down to open the energy pathways and improve the blood flow to the reflex organs. It is also intended to open blocked nerve pathways and helps to flush toxins out of the body.

The good ol’ “toxin” gimmick. Nobody wants toxins in their body. But, what toxins? You’ll never hear a reflexology, or any New Age, alternative medicine practitioner mention specific toxins. Just the general term. Even the term “uric acid crystals” is bunk. Here’s some information about uric acid from a Wikipedia article on the subject.

In humans and higher primates, uric acid is the final oxidation (breakdown) product of purine metabolism and is excreted in urine. In most other mammals, the enzyme uricase further oxidizes uric acid to allantoin.[2] The loss of uricase in higher primates parallels the similar loss of the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid.[3] Both uric acid and ascorbic acid are strong reducing agents (electron donors) and potent antioxidants. In humans, over half the antioxidant capacity of blood plasma comes from uric acid.

Don’t alternative medicine practitioners go on and on about how important antioxidants are? This is simply an example of stupid. Or FAIL, if that’s your favorite pejorative term. Not only is uric acid not a toxin, but it’s also necessary for the human body.

The stupid!! It hurts!!

There are no toxins in your feet, or anywhere else in your body. The kidneys, the liver… they’re purpose is to remove those things automatically. And how much more natural can you get than that?

I found an interesting quote from a blogger on the Fighting Spurious Complementary & Alternative Medicine (SCAM) blog that speaks well to the “detox” myth.

Detoxification is a common feature of alternative medicine, but I have yet to find anyone who can name the toxins that need to be removed from the body or explain how each treatment will remove these toxins.

If toxins accumulated in the body as is now suggested by practitioners of “natural medicine” then the human race would have died out centuries ago. There were no detox diets for the knights of the middle ages.

Before this post gets to be too long, I’ll just finish with addressing the final part of this article which deals with the “benefits” of reflexology.

Further benefits of reflexology include: relaxation and stress reduction, improved circulation and oxygenation, improved lymphatic flow and stimulation of the immune system. Additionally, by stimulating the immune system, reflexology helps the body take up more nutrients and helps to revitalize and energize the body.

While these seem to be evidence of an effective modality, a close look reveals something quite different. It’s relaxing. It “improves” circulation and oxygenation, “improved” lymphatic flow, and it “stimulates the immune system.” These claims are so vague and general that you couldn’t even begin to test them. What does “improved lymphatic flow” even mean, in a medical sense? How specifically does it “stimulate” the immune system? Does it inject foreign bodies for it to attack, similar to how immunizations work?

No, there is no mechanism. It’s just New Age, magical energy nonsense. The reason for such vague and non-specific claims is, as I said before, to avoid lawsuits for false medical claims. Reflexology is nothing more than a massage.

But don’t take my word for it. The next time you see your podiatrist, ask him about “energy flow,” “toxins” and “reflex points.” I bet you’ll get a little chuckle before he tells you that alternative medicine is dangerous to your health, simply for the fact that it doesn’t actually do anything.

If you’ve got something seriously wrong with you, and you go see a “naturopath,” or an alternative medicine practitioner before you see a real doctor, you could end up seriously injured, or dead. Just take a look at WhatsTheHarm.net. You can read all about people who have suffered (or died) at the hands of those practicing “alternative medicine.”

It’s not just a “different kind of medicine.” It’s wrong.

Again, here is the link to the article in question.

John "One Thing At A Time" McCain For President?

Friday September 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Just watch this first… McCain lies to Letterman about why he can’t be on the show (9/24/2008).

So, McCain has to be in Washington to “save the economy.” Yet, there he is being interviewed, live, with Katie Couric?

Apparently, John McCain has to cancel his campaign because the economy is failing. Isn’t part of being the President being able to handle more than one situation at a time?

I have to say that I was never really a huge fan of David Letterman, but he’s moved right on up there in the “Late Show” favorites category. He really let loose on McCain.

I mean, really? What is McCain thinking? He bails, last minute, on Letterman to do an interview with Couric. He’s suspending his campaign to “save the economy,” and he wants to delay his debate with Obama.

What’s going on here? This doesn’t sound like a “take action” type of man. As the Daily Journal article says…

After all, the leader of the free world may have to meet with congressional leaders to negotiate key legislation, respond to a military flare-up in the Middle East, and then quickly and effectively deal with an economic crisis during any given 48-hour period or less.

Is McCain going to tell the world to “hold on” because there’s too much going on all at once?

I submit that this is not the man we should be looking to as our next President. Letterman makes a great point: Where is Palin in all of this???

Read a book. It’s good for you.

The Foo Fighters And HIV Denial

Saturday May 10, 2008 2 comments

The Foo Fighters had been one of my all-time favorite bands. I bought their self-titled album (their first album, released in 1995) the day it came out. I figured that since Dave Grohl was part of Nirvana, the band must be awesome. I had been right.

The Colour And The Shape was one of my favorite albums of all time. There still isn’t a time when I can’t just listen to it straight through. Each song is great.

That being said, it’s sad that I have to say this, but I have suspended my “fan-ship” of the Foo Fighters until further notice. I cannot support a band that denies solid science… or for that matter, supports nonsense along the lines of craziness equal to that of Tom Cruise and his belief in Scientology.

If you look on the Foo Fighters’ Official site, on their “Official Causes” section, you’ll find a link to “Alive & Well,” an HIV Denialist group. Basically, these people claim that HIV does not cause AIDS, and that people should stop taking their HIV medication. It’s simply outrageous. It’s putting people’s lives at risk.

The band was even handing out fliers at concerts which claimed that HIV is in no way connected with AIDS! This sounds rather cult-ish to me. What business do they have, not being scientists, claiming that they have the answers to the AIDS epidemic? This is just as ridiculous as Jenny McCarthy and her Autism and Vaccination link garbage.

Here is an excellent article on the situation.

So, I will conclude by saying that I am suspending my status as a fan of the Foo Fighters indefinitely, until this mess is cleaned up. I will not consider myself a fan until the band completely disavows itself from this conspiracy theory nonsense. As a Skeptic and an adherent to science and reason, I will not stand for this blatant attack on the medical community. So, as much as it pains me to say this…

The Foo Fighters SUCK!!!

Read a book.

Categories: All, Music, News, Science, Skepticism

Do "Terrorists" Care Who Wins The Mid-Term Elections?

Saturday November 4, 2006 Leave a comment

I have to say, this news story I heard the other day has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

So according to Dick Cheney (The Vice President), the whole reason the insurgency has stepped up the violence in Iraq is because of the mid-term elections coming up in the United States.

You’ve gotta be kidding me. How stupid does someone have to be to believe that? What is Cheney trying to say? If you don’t vote Republican, you’re a terrorist? C’mon now.

And the reason I put the word “Terrorists” in quotes for the title of this post is because… well, if Canada invaded NY State and we decided we should kill them and take some of them hostage, would we be considered “Terrorists?” No. So why are they considered Terrorists? Defending their own country.

No matter what Canada’s reasons for invading us, in our view, they would be wrong for doing it. Why is it so hard for us to see that in most Iraqis’ eyes, we are wrong for invading them??? It’s got a lot to do with our egocentrism. Most Americans don’t realize that there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t involve us. It’s very true in the Iran situation. And that also speaks to American ignorance.

It’s really funny how easily influenced people are. We’re like puppets. Put something on TV and everyone believes it. If you don’t believe me, just look at what happened with Iraq. We were blindsided by all the lies about WMDs. We believed every single word that spewed out of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice’s lips. Not to mention the President.

So yeah, I’m sure the “Terrorists” care who wins the mid-term elections. They’re dealing with no electricity, sewage and massive unemployment. I’m sure they give a shit if Randy Kuhl (R) is defeated by Eric Massa (D) in NY. Do they even know what an election is?

Categories: All, Media, News, Politics, Rant

The Pluto Debate and Discovery of "Dark Matter."

Saturday August 26, 2006 Leave a comment

So Pluto is no longer a planet. Now we have to rewrite all the Astronomy books. I guess that makes it a little bit easier to memorize the planets.

In the recent meeting with the IAU, or the International Astronomical Union, they decided on Thursday (8/24/2006) that Pluto was now termed a “Dwarf Planet.” So we now have 8 planets and 3 of these (thus far) dwarf planets: Pluto, Charon and 2003 UB313.

I actually like this change. Even though it seems only to be a change in nomenclature, it’s gotten people to think more about the Solar System and the Universe we live in, which is always good. Before this debate, when was the last time you thought about the planets?

In other interesting astronomical news, scientists say they’ve actually discovered the so-called “Dark Matter” they’ve long been speculating about. Apparently, in a rare occurrence , Nature has made this Dark Matter readily visible to us by the collisions of 2 galaxies. The result was the “regular” matter clustered in the middle, with the Dark Matter on either side. It wasn’t actually visible, but its effects were clearly seen.

Pretty interesting stuff. It’s amazing what technology can do for us.

Categories: All, News, Science

Happy Birthday To Me! A CNN Poll and Airport Security.

Wednesday August 23, 2006 Leave a comment

Happy birthday to me! I’m now 26 years old. I don’t really feel any different, and I suppose that’s the way it is every year. Just another year older. In mathematical speak, I am: f(x)=age+1. That’s about it.

What’s in the news? CNN’s newest poll on Bush says that 61% of Americans oppose George Bush’s handling of/the relevance of/the “good idea-ness” of this Iraq war. “Additionally, 51 percent of those polled said they see President Bush as a strong leader, 54 percent said they do not consider him honest, 54 percent said they do not think he shares their values, and 58 percent said the president does not inspire confidence.”

And here’s the rub. “Americans are about evenly split on whether their commander-in-chief understands complex issues, with 47 percent saying yes, and 51 percent saying no.” This isn’t the fact that he isn’t handling the issues properly. 51% of Americans believe he doesn’t even understand the issues he’s confronted with. This is the person we elected to lead us.

In speaking of leaving Iraq “early,” he says, “In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster.” When have you EVER heard a news story of ANY terrorist attack originating from Iraq? I’m talking about before we invaded. Iraq was never a terrorist state until we went there! Now it’s the biggest source of terrorism on Earth.

Speaking of us electing him. In that same article, Bush says that “I’m going to do what I think is right, and if, you know, if people don’t like me for it, that’s just the way it is.” What exactly is he thinking? He just had to appeal to what people wanted until he got elected? After that he just does whatever he wants? I don’t know what’s going on here. What I do know is that he has totally screwed this country up, and he’s done the same thing to his Republican cronies, who are, incidentally, looking at (hoping/praying for) reelection bids. Will we ever be able to trust a Republican again? Who knows?

I’m tired of talking about Bush on my birthday. Today should be a good day.

In other interesting national news, Time magazine had an article back in May (I just stumbled upon this) about a new technique for screening airline passengers. It’s called SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques). Aside from high-tech bomb detecting devices, metal detectors, etc., screeners will be looking at people’s behavior, eye movements, and other indicators to determine whether someone is “of interest.” The article says, “Here’s how it works: Select TSA employees will be trained to identify suspicious individuals who raise red flags by exhibiting unusual or anxious behavior, which can be as simple as changes in mannerisms, excessive sweating on a cool day, or changes in the pitch of a person’s voice. Racial or ethnic factors are not a criterion for singling out people, TSA officials say. Those who are identified as suspicious will be examined more thoroughly; for some, the agency will bring in local police to conduct face-to-face interviews and perhaps run the person’s name against national criminal databases and determine whether any threat exists. If such inquiries turn up other issues countries with terrorist connections, police officers can pursue the questioning or alert Federal  Counter-Terrorism agents. And of course the full retinue of baggage x-rays, magnetometers and other checks for weapons will continue.”

Pretty interesting stuff. It seems a little more relevant than taking shoes off and not letting me bring a book on an airplane. Not that I fly on a regular basis, or have ever flown. The TSA just goes too far sometimes.

And finally, for this entry, you need to take a look at this video. Just how secure are our airports?

Read a book.

Categories: All, Life, News, Politics