Rodibidably will be blogging elsewhere

I, along with a few other people in the free-thought community, have begun a new blog, Thinking Critically. I will be blogging there regularly from now on. Currently I’m unsure what I will do with this blog; but at least for the time being it will remain up, however I will probably not be updating here or adding new posts here for a while.

I do hope all of my “regular” and not so regular readers will come over to the new URL ( http://thinking-critically.com/ ) and join in the discussions, posts, etc going on there…

What is Thinking Critically, you ask… Well from the site:


Welcome to Thinking-Critically.com, the website for the blog (and upcoming podcast) which will feature individuals tackling issues from a skeptical point of view. Thinking-Critically’s contributors will use analytic and scientific methods to examine these issues and attempt to unearth the truth.

We stand by the idea that no subject is off limits to scrutiny and skeptical inquiry. We plan to cover topics from a wide variety of fields, including: culture, economics, education, health care, history, medicine, neuropsychology, the paranormal, philosophy, politics, pseudoscience, psychology, religion, science, sexuality, and more.

We subscribe to no dogmas, respect no sacred cows, accept nothing on faith, and believe “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Yet, we also maintain open minds and intend to follow the evidence wherever it may lead us.

We strive, in short, to always be Thinking Critically…

Posted in Website | 4 Comments

Australia’s New Prime Minister is an ATHEIST! (via Proud Atheists)

WOW… This is something that just could not happen here in the US right now…

Australia's New Prime Minister is an ATHEIST! Congratulations Australia! Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic. In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God. Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics inc … Read More

via Proud Atheists

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Quote Of The Moment

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” – Albert “Skippy” Einstein

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Praise the lord I have found jebus…

Through facebook of all places. Who knew that is where I should have been looking all along.

Of course it was only a matter of time before I would “see the light”, but today is the day that the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in him…


So today somebody (James Rodney Crosby) messaged me on facebook. He is not a friend (facebook or otherwise) he just apparently found my name in a group and wanted to talk:

HEY I FOUND U IN ATHEIST GROUP READ THIS OK.

Which started a little back and forth (me in blue, him in black):

I’m curious…

Do you think the only reason I’m not a christian is because I have not read the bible? Because I’m sorry to disappoint you, I’ve read it multiple times and would be willing to bet I know it better than you do.

Do you think that because I’m not a christian my life is somehow less than if I was a christian? Because my friends and loved ones make my life as full and amazing as any life can be.

Do you think that my reading this I’ll suddenly become a christian? Because I could just as easily quote horrid passages from the bible that condone slavery, genocide, rape, pedophilia, etc…

What EXACTLY is your goal in sending me this?

—–

U NEED READ THE BIBLE MORE I HAVE READ IT 8 TIMES ALL THE WAY THROUGH NO I KNOW IT BETTER THAN U IF U SOO SMART THEN WHERE DOES THE WORD EASTER BE FOUND IN THE BIBLE WHAT BOOK?

—–

Like I said, I have read the bible multiple times. And I find it to be a poorly written book of horrendous tales…

Perhaps you enjoy submitting your life to a book of fantasies written by ignorant men trying to gain power by forcing others into submission, but I don’t.

As for your “test”:
The Bible The name “Easter” is never mentioned in the original Scriptures. However, one English translation of the Bible does use the word. The King James Version chose to translate Acts 12:4 like this:
“And when he [Herod the King] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

Now, can you answer my question:
What EXACTLY is your goal in sending me this?

—–

its to get u saved to see if somebody like u has read the bible yea the book of acts is where EASTER IS MENTION u need JESUS U CAN STEEL GO TO HELL IF U NOT BORN AGAIN OK JESUS LOVES U TO.

—–

Re Easter in the bible:
Easter was NOT mentioned in the original texts at all.
The King James version added it, while it had not appeared in any earlier versions of Acts.

You’d be interested in Bart Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus”, as it takes a very in depth look into the ways the text of the bible has changes over the centuries to what we have today…
—–
Re “to see if somebody like u”:
What EXACTLY is “somebody like me”?
—–
Re: “u need JESUS”
No, sorry but I don’t. I live a perfectly happy life without belief in ignorant fairy-tales…
—–
As for your “reason” for engaging me:
You want to “save” me. Ok.
Show me the evidence that the stories in the bible are true.
Show me how the bible does not contradict itself in multiple issues (the first two chapters of Genesis disagree on which was created first: man or animals).
Show me how it’s scientific inaccuracies are in fact not proof of it’s flawed writers (like when it claims bats are birds when they are in fact mammals or when it claims Pi is exactly 3 when in reality it is 3.141529…).
Show me how a book that condones slavery (and the beating of slaves the rape of women the slaughter of those of different faiths, etc) is not a horrendous example of some of the most depraved immoral things mankind has ever done.
Show me evidence that it is anything other than just a work of fiction.

I require evidence to base my beliefs on. Without evidence, the bible is nothing more than a collection of stories…

—–

EASTER IS IN THE BIBLE OK JESUS SAVES I HOPE U GO READ THE BIBLE FOR SURE STOP LIEING SAYING U HAVE READ IT WHEN U HAVENT AT ALL .

—–

THE BIBLE IS TRUE WHEN IT SAYS MANY WILL COME IN MY NAME SAYING I AM CHRIST JESUS SAID THAT 2,000 YEARS AGO SO THE BI LE IS NOT STORIES IT IS GODS WORD TO US AND IT IS A TRUE THING U BE JUDGED TO . THE BIBLE IS BEING FULLFILLED I HOPE U GET SAVED BYE

Unfortunately as this point my new “friend” changed his privacy settings so that he got the last word in (since I am no longer able to reply).

But at the very least, he gave me something to blog about today… Oh, and he saved my soul from hell… What a swell guy!

Posted in Religion | 4 Comments

Quote Of The Moment

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” – Lloyd Dobler

Posted in Movies, Quotes | Leave a comment

A Response to “Students AGAINST Universal Health Care”

I recently came across a facebook group “Students AGAINST Universal Health Care” and being a proponent of health care for all, I thought I’d respond to their “reasons” for opposing it.

Universal health care seems to be the new thing that students are pushing for, and rightfully at that-because most of them are unaware what UHC really means:

I think many (if not most) people who are FOR Universal Health Care, understand exactly what it is that they are for. At least from the media, it’s been painfully obvious that those against it are the ones who are arguing against a straw-man (death panels, it will cause rationed care, Canadian style health care, etc), showing their ignorance of what the actual health care reform has been all about.

1. There isn’t a single government agency or division that runs efficiently; do we really want an organization that developed the U.S. Tax Code handling something as complex as health care?

Well the simplest example would be Medicare. While Medicare has many flaws, if you’re looking at just efficiency, only 3% of Medicare’s premiums go for administrative costs. By contrast, 10 to 20% of private-insurance premiums go for administrative costs.

But that also ignores two other issues about government that typically hurt it’s efficiency, but don’t hurt it’s value.

The federal government is unrivaled at completing seemingly impossible tasks (Manhattan Project, NASA, Interstate Highways). These types of tasks are astronomically expensive and require massive investment for little or no forseeable payback. So, they are very efficient at completing insurmountable tasks with unprecedented price tags. Private enterprise can’t do this type of work, because private enterprise has to focus on the bottom line.

But the more important point regarding efficiency is that efficiency isn’t the only concern. Many would argue that although capitalism is incredibly efficient, the efficiency just isn’t always worth it, since it does not take into account the needs of the people. A corporation’s primary goals are profit and stock price. A government’s primary goal is the well being of it’s citizens.

2. “Free” health care isn’t really free since we must pay for it with taxes; expenses for health care would have to be paid for with higher taxes or spending cuts in other areas such as defense, education, etc.

I’ve not heard ANYBODY claim that UHC would be free. In fact, when it comes to to the economics of it, I’ve heard nothing but those against it exaggerating, misstating, and outright lying about how it will bankrupt the country. To say that it’s not free as a negative would imply there is some claim that it would be free or that the alternative (what we have now) is free (which obviously it’s not).

Essentially this boils down to being EITHER a straw-man about the claims of UHC OR it is a outright lie about the current health care system, and either way, it doesn’t hold water.

3. Profit motives, competition, and individual ingenuity have always led to greater cost control and effectiveness.

I’ve always loved this line. It’s seemingly parroted word for word by Libertarians discussion virtually any topic.

For many decades (pre-1934, to be specific, at which time it become a government sanctioned monopoly), AT&T / “Ma Bell” seemingly showed that competition does not always lead to better prices or service. In fact, they did the smartest thing any company would do in a pure Libertarian society, they bought out the competition that would sell, and ran the others out of business; then raised prices and abused their monopoly until the 1980′s when it was finally broken up.

Standard Oil is another great example of Libertarian ideals taken to their natural conclusion. Rockefeller bought or put out of business every competitor he came across for decades; until stopped by the Feds.

So to claim that left alone businesses will lead to lower prices and/or better service for customers (which would be the ideal according to CATO) ignores a history that clearly shows otherwise…

4. Government-controlled health care would lead to a decrease in patient flexibility.

I’m curious here what exactly is meant. As I see it, there are two options, and I’m not sure which they mean (or if there is a 3rd option I’m not aware of).

If by this the group means that the UHC will be the ONLY option, that is just flat out wrong. Every serious proposal of UHC has positions a government option as an alternative to current health care insurance options. If somebody likes their current insurance company, they are free to keep it.

If the group means that once UHC is implemented that the actual choices we have for medical care will diminish, I fail to see how that would happen. If UHC becomes, in effect, another health care insurance provider (similar to Medicare), that will not change the options medical professionals make available to their patients.

5. Patients aren’t likely to curb their drug costs and doctor visits if health care is free; thus, total costs will be several times what they are now.

Actually, ensuring that all Americans have the right to health care will decrease health care costs by allowing people to receive regular and preventive medical care and not wait until they are chronically ill to seek treatment when medical costs are much higher.

As well, providing all citizens the right to health care is good for economic productivity. When people have access to health care, they live healthier and longer lives, thus allowing them to contribute to society for a longer time. The cost of bad health and shorter life spans of Americans suffering from uninsurance amounts to $65-130 billion annually. And lacking health care can lead people to suffer from anxiety, depression, sickness, and stress, and other symptoms that affect not only individuals, but families and communities of that individual as well.

And since we’re talknig about the finances of UHC, currently health care costs are unaffordable and bankrupting Americans. In 2007, 62.1% of all US bankruptcies were related to medical expenses and 78% of these bankruptcies were filed by people who had medical insurance. Also, guaranteeing the right to health care will encourage entrepreneurship, which is good for job creation. Currently people are afraid to start their own business for fear of losing the health insurance provided at their existing job.

6. Just because Americans are uninsured doesn’t mean they can’t receive health care; nonprofits and government-run hospitals provide services to those who don’t have insurance, and it is illegal to refuse emergency medical service because of a lack of insurance.

And currently we are paying for this with increased health care costs for the rest of us by hospitals, doctors, etc passing the costs on to those who can pay. Here in the US, hHealth care costs have been rising for several years. Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980.

In 2008, U.S. health care spending was about $7,681 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Total health care expenditures grew at an annual rate of 4.4 percent in 2008, a slower rate than recent years, yet still outpacing inflation and the growth in national income. Absent reform, there is general agreement that health costs are likely to continue to rise in the foreseeable future.  Many analysts have cited controlling health care costs as a key tenet for broader economic stability and growth, which is why massive reform is needed (and UHC is one part of that reform).

7. Government-mandated procedures will likely reduce doctor flexibility and lead to poor patient care.

This is easy to conform of deny by looking at a country that has already gone through the type of health care reform those who support UHC are interested in:

A 2007 review of all studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the US in a Canadian peer-reviewed medical journal found that “health outcomes may be superior in patients cared for in Canada versus the United States, but differences are not consistent.” Life expectancy is longer in Canada, and its infant mortality rate is lower than that of the U.S., but there is debate about the underlying causes of these differences. One commonly-cited comparison, the 2000 World Health Organization’s ratings of “overall health service performance”, which used a “composite measure of achievement in the level of health, the distribution of health, the level of responsiveness and fairness of financial contribution”, ranked Canada 30th and the U.S. 37th among 191 member nations. This study rated the US “responsiveness”, or quality of service for individuals receiving treatment, as 1st, compared with 7th for Canada. However, the average life expectancy for Canadians was 80.34 years compared with 78.6 years for residents of the U.S.

8. Healthy people who take care of themselves will have to pay for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc.

And this is different from how things work today?
If you have insurance, you’re currently paying for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc who have the same insurance company…
If you don’t have insurance, and you visit a doctor, hospital, etc, you’re currently paying for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc by paying more than you would otherwise to offset the financial burden the uninsured have given to the hospital, doctor, etc…

This is true regardless of UHC, and with UHC it makes the cost easier to manage, and as mentioned above, can help reduce the overall cost of health care in this country, thus reducing this burden..

9. A long, painful transition will have to take place involving lost insurance industry jobs, business closures, and new patient record creation.

First of all, you’d have to show evidence of lost jobs and businesses before I’d even buy this argument as legit. Nothing about the UHC plans have abolished Blue Cross or any other insurance company or closing businesses.

But even if we grant that it would be difficult as true:
The same argument was made about keeping schools segregated.
The same argument was made about keeping minorities out of the military.
The same argument was made about keeping women out of the workplace.
The same argument is currently being made about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
Yeah, we’d never want to move forward, progress is hard…

10. Loss of private practice options and possible reduced pay may dissuade many would-be doctors from pursuing the profession.

There would be no loss of options. The health care reform plans that have been brought forward have essentially been creating another insurance company, but one government run and funded (much like Medicare) or just allowing everybody the option of Medicare. This would in no way reduce any option, what it would do is ensure that doctors and hospitals get paid for EVERY patient they see and that nobody goes bankrupt due to health care costs…

11. Like social security, any government benefit eventually is taken as a “right” by the public, meaning that it’s politically near impossible to remove or curtail it later on when costs get out of control.

The right to health care should be considered a civil right. People should not be discriminated against for being sick. Americans who are ill should not have to make the choice between financial ruin or paying for the medical treatments they need to stay alive. In fact, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including… medical care.”

Posted in Debate, Politics | 6 Comments

Penn and Teller Sometimes Argue Really Badly

I don’t know how I had not come across this blog previously, but it seems there are still many great resources out there I have not yet tapped…

[Originally posted at: The Gotham Skeptic]

<snip>

And now that I’ve praised them a little… I have to make a complaint.  I recently watched the first two episodes of this new season (their eighth) and I really thought the arguments they were using were pretty weak.  There may be folks out there who feel that, because they’re ostensibly on the same side as we are, we should give them some slack.  I would disagree with that view.  I think because these guys are probably the highest profile skeptics in the mainstream world, we need to point out when they start arguing badly, and we need to try and figure out what the reasons those argument failed are.

The first two episodes are on cheerleading and Fast Food respectively.  Specifically, the first episode is about how cheerleading is not officially considered a sport, but it should be, and also that it’s a very dangerous activity.  The second is about how fast food is “the new Public Enemy #1,” and that bashing fast food is bullshit.  I’m mostly going to discuss episode 1, as I think the logical flaws are more blatant, but don’t be surprised if I slip a bit into discussing episode 2 as well.  Also, and I’m just going to mention this up here – if anyone wants to see, I’ve written up point-by-point summations of both episodes.  They’re pretty long (2255 words and 1763 words), but if folks express a desire to see them, I have no problem putting them up in the comments.

The major problem with the cheerleading episode is, to be frank, that it’s made out of really poor arguments.  I don’t disagree with either their conclusion that cheerleading should be considered a sport or that cheerleading needs better safety standards, but there is an attempt to link these two points together combined with an assertion that the people behind Title 9 are feminists who don’t want to make cheerleading a sport because they don’t like activities where women are feminized that just isn’t proven.  At all.

<snip>

[Read the rest of this post at: The Gotham Skeptic]

Posted in Politics, Skepticism | 2 Comments

Is the Bible reliable? Dr. Bart Ehrman sums it all up…

Today I’d like to give a few good videos from Bart Ehrman, about the reliability of the bible, the historicity of jesus, and other related topics…

Dr. Bart Ehrman Sums it all up BIBLE NOT RELIABLE

Dr Bart D Ehrman – Bible Scholar – The Truth about The Bible

Misquoting Jesus A Talk By Bart Ehrman

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead -Bart Ehrman Vs William Lane Craig

Posted in Debate, Religion | 1 Comment

Christian love

Sometimes there is no need to add further comment, you can just let others speak for themselves… This, is one of those times…

YouTube’s Christians, in their own words.

The music is http://www.musopen.com/music.php?type…

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What Is A Religion (And What Is NOT)

This is taken (mostly) from a post I did a while ago ( Is Atheism a (Religion/Faith/Belief System/etc)? ), but one point I made in that post has come up again in a different context, so I thought I’d expand on one section of my earlier post.

A frequent commenter on my facebook page makes the claim that the United States is a religion. Not a christian country, but a religion itself (based at least in part on christian, roman, greek, egyptian, and possibly other influences). I find this position to be not only laughable, but his insistence on this point, despite being shown evidence to the contrary) has caused me to wonder if he truly understands what a religion is.

So, I’d like to answer two seemingly simple questions:
What exactly is a religion?
What is NOT a religion?

And from those answers, hopefully we can determine if the US really is a religion or if my first impression of this commenter was accurate.

First of all to give us a starting point we should define the word religion:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

The definition I have posted here is from that link above, and is the FIRST definition given, and I think the most commonly accepted and widely used definition.

So let’s break it down a bit.

a set of beliefs
Well many groups of people hold beliefs. I (along with millions of other people) own an iPhone. I own one because I believe it to be the best combination of phone, MP3 Player, PDA available in the price range that I was willing to spend. I would assume that among the many millions of other iPhone owners, some percentage of them also hold this belief. So are iPhone owners a religion?

concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe
Well nothing about my owning an iPhone or my beliefs associated with the iPhone is related to the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Ok, I am also an atheist. While being an atheist tells you very little about me (for instance it’s possible to be an atheist and still not accept evolution; that position makes no sense to me, but there are those who hold it) it does mean that you do not believe that “god” created the universe (since atheist lack a belief in god). So is atheism a religion?

when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies
Well as I stated in my original post (which this one is based upon) atheism rejects all claims of “creation of a superhuman agency or agencies” (and as I’ll get to in a moment, has no “devotional and ritual observances” or “moral code governing the conduct of human affairs”). So I guess atheism does not count as a religion either.

usually involving devotional and ritual observances
Well many groups have rituals. As a baseball fan, when at a game, we have the “7th Inning Stretch”. As a Dylan fan, at concerts, many of us do what I call the “Hippie Dance” (and no, I won’t do it for you, do don’t bother asking). As a person who loves astronomy, many of us ritually look up in the sky on a clear night. All of these could be considered rituals or possibly acts of devotion. But are they religions? Of course not.

and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
There are two primary institutions that govern conduct of people: religions and governments. So how is somebody to tell the difference between the two, especially since in some cases the line can be quite thin (theocracies for example). But for me, the difference is obvious, where does the institution get (or claim to get) it’s authority from. The United States, and all other democracies, get their authority and power from the citizens they govern. Religions get their authority from a god or gods (or at least claim to). Think back to the earlier parts of the definition; Does the United States have anything to say “concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” or is it “considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies“? While some people may set George Washington up on a pedestal, nobody claims he was anything other than a mortal man. While Jefferson may have written one of the greatest documents of his time, nobody claims he was divine (and as an aside, I think he’d clearly be offended if anybody did make that claim of him).

—–

As we can see, if you remove the supernatural aspect of the religion, than ANY club or ground would be a religion.
The religion of democrats or republicans.
The religion of NAMBLA (well, some of there members may overlap with the catholic church).
The religion of people who follow the Atlanta Braves, or the Washington Nationals.
Etc, etc, etc, you get the point…

So what is a religion? It is an organization that claims to be created by or inspired by the divine that concerns itself with the creation of the universe, has something to say about the creation of the universe, and rituals.

And what is not a religion? Everything else. Including the United States.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Leave a comment