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Archive for July, 2008

Before I go on please let me introduce this is a theoretical concept to which some of it is based on the truth, while other facts are just media excitement about Haggard to which they might not have any truth about them, I don’t want to be sued. He was the spiritual and religious leader to many being the head of a form of evangelical Christianity in America and by creating energy he turned faith into a business where millions of dollars came in. In a lot of European countries churches, especially more traditional versions of religion, are finding it difficult to get funding to stop the walls falling down however, the new life church had an ‘campus’, so ignoring the personal investment for the moment there was a lot of money going into these places. Haggard himself attacked evolution and in Dawkins’ documentary told him to get out, after saying that Dawkins was arrogant, a word which would very closely reflect my opinion of Haggard. So let us turn to what this man of God has to say about people who are gay, don’t worry this is not the normal attack of me calling him a hypocrite that would be easy to do, he said that the bible is the word of God we don’t need to discuss what we believe since it is already written and therefore, it is not necessary to discuss ‘gay people’ because we all know what our position is. The bible says that it is a sin and those that are gay should be put to death, of course this is not word for word still it is the overall feeling of both Haggard and the bible. A couple of years ago the New Life Church had this to say about Haggard “Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.” (1) In other words he took drugs and had sex with a man which, let me check, yes is a sin in the eyes of religion (all not just the version Haggart promoted). The focus is very much on the gay act rather than the drug taking. This is very sad and I mean that!

These are some of the words Haggard uses in a letter to the New Life Church which is reported in the Gazette of Colorado Springs on 5th November 2006 about his demise as the religious leader of about 30 million people: betrayal, horrible example, embarrassment, guilty of sexual immorality, problem, I am a deceiver and a liar, dirt, repulsive and many other terms which are all basically the same as going I did something really bad all of which are directed at the gay sex thing not the drugs (2). So let me be the judge, I find Haggard Not Guilty on the following accounts; taking drugs, having sex with a man and telling lies. Of course drugs and lying are very bad things still I don’t hold him accountable to his mistakes if he intends to work on them and change. He had every right to do those things if that is what he chooses to do, as long as it does not end up hurting anyone else in the process. There is no guilt with being gay and it is not immoral on any account, so I will reject the notion that Haggard as a free man should not do that sort of thing if he wants. Haggard is not guilty of being human! He is Guilty of promoting fear and hate being the former head of the New Life Church, it is an assumption if he did not believe and promote those things then he would be openly gay and perhaps remove the drug taking and lies which could be considered evidence of internal difficulties after the denial of himself. He is a prick don’t get me wrong and hypocrite along with arrogant; still he would be more of a man if he admitted the Church was wrong and his feelings are justified. Of course he will be forgiven has long as he keeps on denying himself after all there is only one ‘sin’ that could not be forgiven being that of denying the holy ghost. I think that it is very sad that he just cannot be who he is and the only reason I can tell stopping him from doing this is a dishonest, unjust, unclear book filled with lies and made up stories.

The route of Ted Haggard demise is inbuilt into the evangelical church, if not all religion, since it offers denial at all levels. Children are infected within this church to believe that gay people are at the subject of disgust and fear. The church also teach that abortion is wrong, Good things come from Jesus, bad things come from evil, that Global warming is not happening, that nonbelievers are subhuman, ghost or magical stories are disrespectful (apart from the magic that happens in the bible), that science is wrong and anyone not like they are should be punished. If children do things naughty they are accused of walking away from Jesus and will be punished at the highest level. They call this the Jesus Army and if you preach such things then of course children will grow up to deny themselves and hating others. There version of Jesus is not love, compassion and forgiveness! Whatever comfort or community that is created by the church is at a price that is too high. Where will it end? Artax13 points to the most disturbing result but conceivably the clearest perspective I have heard from in a while, responding to Haggard’s views about gay people, commenting that anti-Gay is just the same notion the Nazi’s had about Jewish people (3). That is where this will end; the parallel between anti-Jewish feelings promoted in Europe for a long time that caused the final solution among other acts and the views on every single person outside the evangelical church being directed towards children within the church is very much alike. That scares me and it shows we have not learnt what we should have. It also makes me sad that children are filled with foolish nonsense they did not ask for and do not need.

Sources:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Haggard
2. http://www2.gazette.com/display.php?id=1326184
3. http://youtube.com/watch?v=3XsCcKiCL2c

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https://i2.wp.com/i126.photobucket.com/albums/p109/Arthur_Vandelay99/fallacy2.gifLogical fallacies are errors in reasoned thinking and they happen to appear a lot, these are simply the result of a method of argument that appears to work on the surface but which does not stand up when questioned. I tend to view fallacies not as bits of knowledge that have been created rather they are concepts direct from intelligence, so the more you learn about them the better you will be able to think. It also links with critical thinking which is something that I tried to do although don’t always succeed in and something that I hope will remove the ideas of religion and superstition. There are both informal and formal fallacies, the former describes mistakes in reasoning based on interferences and the latter arguments to which will always be wrong from the way they have been constructed, both are forms of deductive reasoning. See my earlier post on how science uses induction; it explains the difference between the two forms of reasoning. An example of an informal fallacy would include differing definitions and concepts, such as freedom must be preserved at all times, freedom is relative when dealing with freedom of religion since it also includes freedom to live without religion. This is why I don’t really like using the word freedom. Formal on the other hand might be; all men are born free therefore, all women are born free. Since the original statement only refers to men, it is illogical to conclude that women are born free based on the original statement. Both of these are present in the ideas of religion and these are some of the ones that I have come across during my travel of blogs and websites.

Ad Hominem – attack the person making the argument rather than the argument, this includes saying the person is a racists therefore, anything that person produces is the result of that. Atheists get accused of this; there unwillingness to believe in a God is more important than their arguments to why they should not believe. Even within this blog I have been accused of being an “atheist” so the things I say are implied to be less relevant still if I was a believer and made the same comments it is sort of suggested that they would be worth more. The arguments are the arguments deal with them rather than who I am. Of course people tend to seek justifications so they can place a comment or article within a larger perspective, this is normal still they should self ban involvement rather than encourage it, after all if you cannot deal with others that don’t think like you do then you are simply unable to understand the points that are being raised. There are two fallacies in this area; the first is that of abusive which Pat Condell if he was a weaker man would react to! The death threats or personal attacks force someone into defending themselves rather than discussing the arguments. The second is Circumstantial which is the attack of a position, as I said being an atheist of course I would not understand metaphysical feelings of God; this is often an assumption and allows the argument to be dropped. Overall it is a distraction of the topic!

Circularity – as the name suggests it is just an argument that goes around and around, if you believe something then you already know the reasons to why you believe it, if you don’t believe then nothing will be able to convince you that the argument is true. This is what a lot of arguments about the metaphysical are based upon, you have to believe that there is something if you don’t then you cannot just understand it so the implication is that you have to assume that it is true before it can be justifiable. This could include believing in something and then seeing the arrangement of life in accordance within that belief, in other words using evidence to support your conclusion rather than the correct way in looking at the evidence and then coming to a decision. The original argument is the purpose of any further argument for example; the bible is God’s word therefore God is real, the notion of God’s Word is required in order to show the God is real. God is required to be real in order for the bible to then be God’s word; this does not say or add anything. Likewise saying we do something since it makes us lucky is often based on this type of logic, a lucky rabbits foot is a useful thing since it brings me luck, is all based on the first assumption in the first part of the sentence of ‘lucky rabbits foot’. I have also heard that Reiki will only work if you give it a chance, this is a notion that should always be rejected, it only assumes that it will work if you have belief in it. We should always reject this if Reiki works then it will work regardless of the level of belief that is invested into it

Correlation not causation – my favourite saying is that religion is not born from poverty, it simply benefits from it. They are found together still it cannot be said that either one causes the other. Let’s go one further and argue that religion causes good things to happen; they might be found together in some cases still this does not promote the goodness of religion. If it is a causational relationship then religious people should only be the ones that commit good actions, this is not the case plus religion can cause really negative acts as well. People sometimes commit good acts while others sometimes commit bad acts, this is a far more honest statement. There might be many reasons behind good acts and to simply assume religion is the cause is to ignore a great deal of other factors. It is like saying the more music I listen to the more cavities I get in my teeth, since the older I get the more my teeth get damaged although it is also true the older I get the more music I have listened to, the two have nothing to do with each other. Likewise when people say they have had a metaphysical experience when they walk into a cathedral it does not necessarily have anything to do with the cathedral being a religious place. The authoritative aspect, the size, the colour, the music, the smell and many other factors could set off a reaction inside your head which you think has to do with God but to assume that it is, even if you strongly believe it so, does not add weight to those feelings.

Generalisations – we take the small cases and apply them to the whole situation, this is something that I am at times guilty of. It differs in some situations, still normally when the particular cases are somehow very different to the normal process. Someone pointed out to me that I was using a small number of occasions where Islam mistreated women causing me the formation of opinion and I have to reject their arguments on this one. What I always am referring to is the scope of things that is allowed for under a set of believes still I use statistics to show the general trend of things. Of course it is always wrong of anyone to say Islam is bad because something happened, that was not my point rather it was to show that the core belief is different from my own and perhaps under the banner of human rights certain things are wrong. It does bring us to the question though of how to deal with religious people since they are meant to believe the same things but often don’t. Still generalisations are conclusions only based on a small number of cases so if you can include a larger base then you will never be guilty of this although it is sometimes justifiable to look at small numbers.

Straw Man – is a misrepresentation of a position in order to reject it, although it leaves the position alone and does not address the necessary issues. The misrepresentation does that, it shows the real situation in a different light and thus ignores the original factors or effects the caused the situation in the first place. This differs from Ad Hominem since rather than attacking the person making a statement, the statement is taken out of context or further along than it was meant to. Conclusions are made from the first statement to which nothing ever referred to them and then these conclusions are rejected on perhaps better grounds than could be achieved on the first statement. The line of reasoning would first start off with a particular statement about Jesus being able to forgive your sins then making further reasoning on the matter by saying it does not matter what you do since Jesus will forgive your sins anyway. It is a lot easier to see why we should reject Christianity based on the further reasoning even though the original statement never said this.

These are just a few of the ones that I liked still there are many more, watch out for them since we are all guilty of making logical errors.

A little more on this matter…

The amazing atheist did a video about this and he goes through a lot of other logical fallacies in his usual manner. It is interesting to watch…

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MMR image from retiredrambler.typepad.com The MMR vaccine, an all-round method for protecting children against measles, mumps and rubella, was first used right at the end of the 1960’s it was clear to see it was an ever effective method of disease control. This vaccine was the result of scientific methods and the empowerment of people to see something that required effort & attention in so dealing with it; this has saved around an estimated 1.8 million people. As well as stopping these diseases from causing death it also had the effect of removing some of the other common results of the illness such as mental defects. So when the level of measles starts to rise and the first child died from it in 2006 in the UK after 14 years of no measles related deaths, we have to really start to understand why. Most of the answer was due to Dr Andrew Wakefield who was guilty of bad science in his report suggesting that there was a link between MMR and autism. Is it right for me to blame just one person for the increasing measles cases or do we all need to bare some of the responsibility? Wakefield’s report argued that there was an inherent risk from the MMR vaccine and suggested that single vaccines would reduce the risk to the child. The conclusions were based on the observation of 12 children all of who were determined to have shown symptoms of autism type behaviour 8 of which were reported within two weeks of the MMR vaccination. This is bad science in two main ways; the first is no control group which is the base of children that have received the vaccine without showing any symptoms of autism without this group it is impossible to determine whether the MMR vaccine did cause autism. The second problem is that if you are only dealing with 12 children all of which are showing symptoms, of course this will alter anyone’s perception of what is going on, since we tend to see patterns naturally even if they are not there.

The Man – the threat was simply based on a theory, he suggested that the combined vaccine overloaded the immune system of the child which in turn caused a bowel disorder and later a form of autism. Wakefield views were dismissed time and time again by experts in the field, as he never proved clear evidence to link the vaccine to autism, even though there was an increase in the reported levels of autism. In most studies cited by Wakefield there were children who had autism which also received MMR although a smaller number had also received the single vaccines. Although it could be suggested that the measles vaccine could trigger the onset of autism this would also indicate the single vaccine could also possibly be a trigger. Wakefield used bad science since he only ever looked at small numbers which violates the conditions of the scientific method of reliability and validation. Wakefield faced professional misconduct charges for performing unnecessary procedures on children and he was also questioned about his position in research in this area and his role as an expert in MMR litigation. The parents of the 12 children used by Wakefield in his initial investigation were seeking to sue the producers of the vaccine. The GMC described him as dishonest and brought a number of charges of wrongful conduct.

The Media – the media ran with the story and like any good business they used it to sell the media they were producing. They helped to present a confusing picture for parents by introducing doctors that backed the withdrawal of the MMR vaccine without ever considering the level to which they should be placed in context. In a sense those doctors who back each side were given equal weight and offered a personal dilemma that parents had to face, despite the fact the official position as always been there is no link between the vaccine and autism. The focus was on autism and not the potential harmful disease that the vaccine would protect against. The Parents – often people react more to the thing which is less likely to happen but offers more worrying and unknown consequences. The threat of something that is unknown is much more powerful as a fear than that to which we think that we know more about. As the result of the fear of MMR fewer children were protected from the known diseases, the disease increased and children suffered as a result. Of course, the single jabs were always available still these left gaps between when the first vaccine was given and the last one, this was sometimes the only opportunity required for illness. Countries like the UK also refused to pay for the single vaccinations since there was no evidence MMR was linked to autism and the extra cost could not be justified within a limited budget. This left many children without any protection!

The truth – A couple of months after Wakefield suggested a bowel disorder could cause autism a 14 year long study found that around 0.001% of the children given the MMR vaccine suffered any bowel problems, all of which never showed any signs of autism. Even if we take that number, 0.001% as having the possibility of developing autism and let’s assume that they do, this is still less likely than the other two major results of measles. There is a 0.033% chance the measles will result in mental retardation and there is a 0.01% chance that someone will die from measles (this is an estimate; this is reduced to a degree with modern medications although those children unprotected from measles often end up in hospital). There is a higher chance of dying from measles than from the assumption that every bowel disorder will cause autism. Reported cases of autism numbers are on the increase this might be due to many factors, only a small percentage of the cases have strong genetic links. In a Japanese city were the vaccine was withdrawn the numbers of reported autism cases still showed an increase. If the MMR vaccine was to blame then the trend should have started to go down rather than up, as it did. There is a real issue of genetic predispositions and environmental factors which is still unclear, to say that is more acceptable than spreading fear and concern for something that might not be the real cause, MMR has shown to not be the real cause. The truth is the more parents that don’t have their children vaccinated then it puts everyone else at risk, only one person needs to bring the disease into a community to infect all the unvaccinated children. While medical resources are used to treat the outbreak it is not being spent on other things, so if there is a known cure being that of the MMR vaccine can anyone be justified at putting other people at risk by diverting money away from treating other conditions? There is perhaps a more worrying end to all of this, while antibiotics are losing the battle with disease why should we risk using them to treat diseases like measles when that could result in them being less effective for other illnesses that we currently have no proactive defence for. It is clear that the benefits of the MMR vaccine outweigh the risk!

This is a prime example of risk taking behaviour by large parts of our own societies, the risk from measles, mumps and rubella has always been greater than that of autism. So why did we act in such a strange way? This is not just about awareness of the issues that are at play it is about how we perceive information, it was the fault of Wakefield, even though he acted against what doctors are meant to uphold, he was perhaps stupid and dishonest. It was not the fault of the media after all they represent things in such a way that allows them to get people’s attention. It has to do with us and how we use critical thinking in order to understand things. It might be argued that we cannot all understand such medical terms and its language; we can use our brains and go find the information though. We could go and look at logical fallacies for ourselves. At the heart of it, it is about how we come to understand risk we see ourselves in and for the most part inaction appears like the most sensible course of action, still this is not! If you can understand why a loving and caring parent would make such an error in judgment then perhaps you can also see the reflection when it comes to Reiki or homeopathic medicine, or even maybe the relationship we might have with horoscopes. Things might appear to hold less risk than they actually do while others are more dangerous than they are given credit for.

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iceIt would be nice to think that each of us is different; each with differing views, differing opinions and perhaps the uniqueness of us is perfectly that. This is the explicit lie; if we all were different none of us would even be alive. At birth the bunch of neurons that later create the useful mental functions and the delusion of ourselves start to form. At this point there is very little to determine whether we like fish or hate the stuff, there is little to decide whatsoever. We only know we are alive since we are told we are, once we remove the idea of alive or dead, none of us are either. Removing pain, love or hate removes the ability of feeling those things. It was not until the flash of light that happens to some of us, some of the time, that things started to exist. Neither the world nor anything held within it was there until it was created in the mass understanding that started to be created, once the first thing created the second followed, nothing was there until it was slowly fashioned imperfectly and shared. Heat is not created by fire; it started its own survival because it understood the remuneration of being beneficial, then it carried on only because it then created an alternative to itself. Once it created itself and it created the cold, it started to live and has been living all this time. If it never created itself, then we would not need heat or the cold, because we simply would never understand the difference or desire the need for being something different. If all our dreams were to turn out true, then why would anyone create heaven and if heaven was never created then would we have ever understood what being dead is?More importantly, do you know what alive is? I have never felt it, so how can something people can’t feel and is more or less untouchable be real. No one has ever been anything else than alive, it’s easy to say being alive is not being dead. That is just not a good enough answer to anything. Would we be led to believe the only way to understanding what being set on fire feels like, is to immerse in ice. Wait… let’s see. If heat created itself first to only then have to create cold, would death have been created before life, life only being understood as it provides death with the benefit of what it is like to be dead. Most people don’t know what life feels like, until they almost die. Only when understanding what dead is, can you understand what life is. It should be always our aim to almost die every day, only avoiding its completion.

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