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yes, we have it in BC.
@Pthalo: As I understand it a major problem is when people treat black peoples' hair as community property and intrude on personal space to touch their hair. This is one of the things on the privilege checklist, incidentally - that hairstylists would treat your hair as "normal" and not as something "exotic" or "to be tamed into normality".
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
And as to the weighting.....wow, have a conversation with officials at the US census before you sign off on any poll that is weighted. When we asked (for the purpose of our study) exactly how the census came up with the number of African-American males in the US their answer was basically a wish and a prayer. Gallup is weighting it data (which undermines its statistical value) to a number which itself is arrived at with a fair amount of guess work. Incidentally, Republicans in Congress have been playing games with this by trying to make the Census Bureau not use statistical techniques to try and measure minorities who are typically underrepresented in census counts.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
Sorry, I meant to add an @Literata: before the blockquote.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
@mmy: Did you ever by chance read about preference falsification? Fascinating. I also am intrigued by the issue of weighting data in the social sciences. In the physical sciences, we're taught that data with large uncertainties should be weighted less than data with small uncertainties - which makes sense a lot of the time, since usually an experimental technique that didn't give good results should be given less consideration than a better one. That said, there is the danger that an experiment that has a very low uncertainty nonetheless produces a data point that seems to be at variance with others that cluster about some other value. And thus is born the rat's nest of statistical tests to reject outliers. :P If you've been told a thousand times before that most atheists disregard or denigrate adherents of non-Abrahamic monotheist religions, and people are still telling you, maybe you should listen. And how does my saying I simply disbelieve in all gods/supernatural beings/helpers/other entities do that? I'm also feeling that you're making a lot of assumptions about who I've interacted with that aren't warranted.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
*points* What Ruby said. I reiterate that I dislike the feeling that I have to walk around on eggshells when discussing religion with others. Some people seem to take it even worse when it's an atheist speaking disbelief than when it's someone from another religion. It's as though being in any religion somehow makes it acceptable to express disbelief in someone else's gods, deities, helpers, or otherwise beings that they communicate with who do not deign to make themselves unequivocally visible to all - but lack of any belief in any of that? At all? *PEARL CLUTCH* This is my perception. It is probably not universal. Someone will no doubt contradict me on this point and relate their experiences. That's fine, as long as it's not used to invalidate mine.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
Hi, just a heads-up that I also added an entry on part of chapter 35 - http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/eoa-meet-the-pastor/ TW: Discussion of possible elements of dubious consent in relationships.
@Leum: That's actually a pretty succinct summary of the problems with imbuing "commonplace" words with new and deeper meanings that need to be explained and re-explained to people who aren't familiar with its usage. That said, grain of salt, and so on. I'm quite privileged by the definition of the word as used by anti-oppression groups, so what I have to say on the matter may not be as helpful as others' statements.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
@Ruby: He just came off all hella self-righteous about it and sounded a lot like people who say in their hearts they have the right intentions but keep falling into the trap of being able to disregard fundamental aspects of white and male privilege.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
And you're missing the point: what does any of this horrible stuff have to do with me? And the answer seems to be: I benefit from it. Which, no, I don't. It does me no good when Nancy Grace wants to talk about a missing white woman. I'm the first in line to complain about it. But you seem to be taking a general problem (society is racist) and applying that in the specific: "You benefit from racism and are therefore...something." Yes, I benefit from racism. What I'm saying is this, on the subject of racism, this is my final word. You know, the last time you got this strident and pushy and - well, generally just combative? It got to the point where I had to bow out because I couldn't be arsed to deal with your shit. Jim Sting: Remember you told me to tell you when you were acting rudely and insensitively? Remember that? You're doing it right now. - Quote here
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
@Caryb: Ok, I get that it can feel like you're in a high school class and the whole class got detention because one person acted up and wouldn't own up, so the teach overreacted and put the WHOLE CLASS in detention. Now you can narrowly argue it and say well, you shouldn't be subjected to collective punishment - and in general, society recognizes this. But there's another aspect to this as well: recognition of our shared circumstances and obligations. Here's how: 1. Someone should have spoken up and named the culprit. Our society, in fact, demands this of adults by creating specific legal principles relating to criminal offences that exist because of concealment of knowledge of a crime, as well as rewards for naming a suspect if one finds out about a crime after the fact and who did it. 2. In high school, it's often considered socially unacceptable to "rat". If that's the case, then in effect the non-offending classmates are breaking principle* #1 by collectively covering up, even if just by omission, for the rulebreaker. So what you're seeing is that the teacher and students are both struggling against conflicting "instructions", if you will. They're dealing with the reasonable expectation that the offender against the rules be punished individually but also an expectation, created by social circumstances, that prevents individual punishment. Now you might be a little off-put by my use of the word "punishment", so rest assured I'm not trying to frame white privilege as a punishment. But what I am trying to do is to get you to see that the narrow view you're taking - that you as an individual are doing all the right things in isolation - is running up against the fact that you're also taking a stance that discounts collective experience. If you like, reframe the entire above: Think about it as the anonymous kid who saved the school from burning down and has managed to convince their friends to not bring up the person's name, and the principal* wants to reward that student, but again, conflicting obligations - the principal can't reward all the students, but at the same time, nobody is stepping forward. --- * Notice that a principle and a principal are different. :)
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
TW: Continued discussion of rape and assault You're arguing that what was done was wrong Specifically because it was done to Native Americans. I'm arguing that things are either bad, or not. Native americans were sterilised up until the 1970s in the name of Eugenics. http://www.ratical.org/ratville/sterilize.html Bad because forcibly sterilizing anyone is wrong. Not because forcibly sterilizing Native Americans is wrong. Native american woman (today! in our ultra modern society!) are much more likely to be raped http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/25/AR2007042502778.htm And this is wrong because raping people is wrong. No-one disputes that the acts are wrong in and of themselves. What makes them uniquely worse is that they intersect with a perception that since Native Americans are inferior or can be devalued and ignored, the acts can be committed with greater chance of impunity than had they been done to white people. Up here in Canada, several First Nations women have disappeared and this has been ignored for years until finally it was found that Robert Pickton had been murdering them. (and I believe he is not the only one to have done so) Just the fact that nobody pays attention to Indians or takes them seriously whereas if an attractive white woman disappears STOP THE FUCKING PRESSES THE WORLD WILL NOW IMPLODE I think I need not belabor the point to illustrate why the qualifier "Native American" adds a dimension to the discussion that isn't going to be there when discussing white people.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
@hapax: I find the Flying Spaghetti Monster / Pastarfarian concept to be a very illustrative example of the privileging of some religious beliefs over others. We are, in effect, asked to give credence and succour to the beliefs of Christians in particular and to a lesser extent, Judaism and Islam, because their God has a certain cachet in society. Yet when someone else comes along and insists on the same social imprimatur being given to their chosen deity of whatever form, it is treated with scorn and ridicule even though much the same expectation of suspension of disbelief is in play. This feels like a digression, but if you want to continue, though, I have no trouble continuing if you wish.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
That saying "Hey, I totally got raped playing Call of Duty last night" is trivializing rape? Actually, it is.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
Caryb? I really don't know why you're saying what you are, but you remind me of the kinds of people who believe they are, in good faith, endorsing principles of equality without taking into account differential effects on people due to historical events. Society doesn't exist in a vacuum. We are affected by the past as much as the present; society is not presented to us ex nihilo*. So you remind me of the guy whose ancestors were Polish, who got out of Europe not long after the Second World War, and who loudly and longly railed against the notion that he was in any way responsible for slavery because his ancestors never owned any (and he could actually prove the point, unlike others). The thing he didn't grasp is that by being white he still benefitted from the differential treatment accorded whites generally in the USA - even just the fact that people would take him seriously over LOL SLAVERY REPARATIONS HUK HUK WUT A JOEK thing, as opposed to a black person whose ancestors were slaves and who would have just been happy with a fucking acknowledgement that slavery was bad**, if compensation were never forthcoming. This sort of thing is why I want to say I disbelieve in religions and deities or (super)natural beings attached thereof without turning it into a vehicle for dismissiveness towards minority religions. -- * "out of nothing". i.e. it has come from nowhere and been suddenly formed. ** Consider that even today, education in the American South tends to soft-pedal the notion that the Civil War was about anything but nebulously-named "states' rights".
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
@Caryb: There are dicey issues when white people start making pronouncements about Aboriginal/First Nations religious customs; it behooves us to remember that there's an inherent power asymmetry at work here. Until recently, the federal governments of Canada and the USA haven't taken Indian (you're in the USA, so I'll use that term) concerns very seriously. Now, they do. There are certain reserves which are barred to non-members at certain times of the year and trying to go in without permission is, in fact, trespassing. Similarly, some will charge fees for you to even just bring a camera. There's two reasons for that: 1. Some tribes have cultural customs that do not allow reproduction of a human's face on any medium. 2. Exoticizing Native Indian culture by snapping away at everything could be considered disrespectful and the tribes would like to get at least some compensation for that. Religious customs have a similar issue about power asymmetries, which is what cultural appropriation tends to involve - a dominant culture snapping up bits and pieces of a minority culture with little or no appreciation for the origins and methods of those aspects of the minority culture. It behooves us atheists to be willing to criticize not just the dominant religion in our cultures, but also ways in which that dominant religion creates a "lens" through which to view minority religions. However, I don't see what is wrong or problematic with simply saying, "I do not believe in any religion nor any deities that are part and parcel of any religion".
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
Pthalo: That sounds like serious hokum to me. My mom has had allergy tests - legitimate allergy tests - done, and what they did was put dots on her arm with solutions of different things to see what she responded to, and the one that flared up was the hay fever one, if I recall correctly, and a couple others. Those are usually treatable with standard antihistamines, but she can't use certain laundry soaps either, since she has a reaction to... um, the phosphates? I forget. Also, considering homeopathy involves massively diluting things until they're basically pure water, I have a hard time taking that seriously. For all that I speak experimental nuclear physics, I freakin' majored in Chemistry for my undergraduate degree! They teach you about the effectiveness of dilute and concentrated solutions in it. (>_
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
The cat my roommate has is exceedingly mild-mannered. He uses the litter box exclusively, drinks ONLY from his water bowl or other water containers placed near it, and rarely throws up. Has not been declawed either. (apparently the claws are roughly equivalent to the very tippy-bones of your fingers, or perhaps your fingernails. Either way, you wouldn't want someone taking THOSE off!)
Getting into the question of religion/"woo"/etc: It is certainly true that a wide cultural latitude is often granted to someone who can believably take on the trappings of religions, particularly if appropriating the basic tradition(s) of other belief systems in bad faith. Religion is sometimes bound up deeply with culture, particularly in Aboriginal culture in Canada. It still defies belief in my mind that a potlatch was banned in Canada until the 1950s. It, as far as I am aware, is simply a ceremony in which there is a feast and people give gifts or redistribute goods. A ban, I note, which was originally pushed by Christian missionaries. Christian missionaries who, in Canada, have gone to great lengths in the past to get state approval for their cultural destruction wrought upon the First Nations here. Both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches are very guilty of this. I would make the case that there is a very definite possibility for cultural appropriation, by adopting First Nation rituals and customs with little or no understanding of their uses, limitations, and history.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
**The school I went to made us choose between calculus and statistics, and I picked calculus. I don't regret this decision, as I loved calculus and had a wonderful teacher who from the start helped us to see the beauty of the mathematics involved, although I do question the presumption that a person studying calculus has no need for a cursory understanding of statistics and probability. The fun part is that to do statistics you need calculus at a certain point unless you're willing to always trust numerical tables of integrals of normal curves. Re: alt medicine It has also been quite to my surprise that alternative medical practitioners recommend conventional (usually also termed "Western") medicine, as my usual impression has been seeing alt-med advocates trash Western medicine (admittedly most of my experience of this is second-hand, from reading the occasional laetrile-cures-cancer book and people writing in the student newspaper and/or alternative "zines"). I feel very upset when people trash science and the scientific method, especially because very often we rely heavily on exactly the techniques of science to show that evolution is a fact and that creationism/"intelligent design" is hokum. It strikes me as a little bit selective to rely on science for debunking certain things put forth, but not others. The fault in Western medicine, from what others have said here, seems to lie far more with the practitioners of medicine than the basic principles of science: consistent and persistent refusal to listen to what a patient has to say, misapplication of out of date methods or techniques, as well as overreliance on the prestige socially accorded a medical doctor. We do not condemn all of biology because of Trofim Lysenko.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
Not to mention, I and a lot of other atheists have encountered a lot of double-standards and moving goalposts on politeness: No matter how nicely you put "No gods exist and all religions are human cultural constructs," you will be accused of rudeness by someone. A lot of someones, most of the time. My atheism basically runs as in the quotes. Even so, I always end up being made to feel like I've got to walk on eggshells when I say things like that. As for quantum mechanics? Ugh Calabi-Yau manifolds the very idea hurts my brain. Six-dimensional constructs, indeed.
Toggle Commented Sep 2, 2011 on (Not Yet) Atheism 101 at The Slacktiverse
I don't remember when I started reading I Can Has Cheezburger? but I've loved it ever since. XD
Back in the 1980s, when Japan looked to be the world's next biggest economic power, everybody in the USA was scrambling to find out how to imitate the Japanese. Too bad that drive isn't there anymore, since capitalism in Japan has always had a bit more of a human face due to cultural constraints on the idea of ruining a bunch of Christmases for a big huge pot of gold for the CEO (or should I say 30 pieces of silver?).
*thumbs up to Jon Maki* A note: Canadians in Atlantic Canada may still be at risk from the storm so if any of you are in the Atlantic provinces, stay safe!
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2011 on Preparing for Irene at The Slacktiverse
Best of luck, everyone, and please be safe and well.
Toggle Commented Aug 27, 2011 on Preparing for Irene at The Slacktiverse