Monthly Archives: May 2014

Why Are the Atheist Books in the Science Section?

This is something that has always confused me. If an atheist writes a book about science, like the many written by Dawkins, then it makes sense to find their books in the science section. But why would someone’s memoir, like Seth Andrews Deconverted, be in the science section? Shouldn’t that be in the memoirs? What about The God Delusion? That is a book specifically aimed at debunking the belief in a god. Shouldn’t that be in the religion section? Or the philosophy section?

I know not all book stores are the same, but I have found this trend in a lot of places. When I was on Goodreads, half of the science section was books on atheism. I’ve found a similar trend on Amazon. When I go to Chapters, I often have to search half the store for a particular atheist book. 

So why does this happen? Why is it just assumed that atheism and science go together?

Stupid vs Ignorant

What is the difference between being stupid and being ignorant? Lately I have heard a lot of people saying that it is better to be ignorant then to be stupid because stupid is forever, but ignorant can be changed. I don’t think that that it true. In my mind, stupid is perfectly changeable. We say someone is stupid when they don’t know something that we view as common knowledge, but once we tell them about it, they know. I liken it to someone given a book. A stupid person reads the book, but doesn’t fully understand it. It needs to be explained to them. But an ignorant person will do one of two things: either they’ll read the book with the knowledge necessary to understand it fully, but they will ignore it, or they will refuse to read the book. Refusing to read the book is willful ignorance, where as ignoring some fact is usually subconscious and is caused by bias. Either way, it is much more difficult to educate the ignorant one than it is to educate the stupid one.

The reason I am writing this is because “stupid” is a terrible insult. We are all “stupid” at some time or another. None of us know everything. But we can be taught. I do not like to call people stupid for that reason. However, ignorance is my pet-peeve. Especially willful ignorance. I do not expect everybody to know everything that I do, but I do expect them to take what I say into consideration and be willing to learn. I am perfectly willing to afford others the same respect. But I have found that there is a culture surrounding being proud of ones ignorance. People are proud of not knowing and they see learning as a waste of time. I really hope that culture dies out soon.

An Atheist Movie?

There have been a lot of Christian movies released lately, and there are more to come. That got me thinking: why are there no atheist movies? With the exception of The Ledge, there are really no movies aimed at atheists. I haven’t really seen any movies about any other religious/ non-religious group either. Most media aimed at atheists are in the form of documentaries, and I enjoy watching most of them, but there have to be some atheists that are more interested in entertainment than education when it comes to films. So why aren’t there really any atheist movies?

I have heard it posited that it is because bible stories are good stories in the sense that they are entertaining. Atheists don’t have any entertaining stories ready to go. So what would an entertaining atheist story look like? What would count as an atheist movie?

Feminism: a slightly different take on how we can describe the word.

Withteeth here with a short post,

First for the sake of clarity. There is nothing wrong with the word and it’s normal definitions. As well I’m one who thinks that the feminism movement is awesome over all. I’m just bringing this up do to some really annoying comments I came across today.

I’ll first copy over a segment of what I wrote today to get to the point of this blog post.

Also a different take of why calling it feminism might not be such a bad thing. Given society mostly looks down or marginalizes femininity. Sure it benefits some women to be stereotypically feminine in some areas of life, but not over all. As well men are not typically allowed (it’s frowned upon) to show “feminine” traits like, you know, showing emotions, being compassionate, cooperative, showing moments of weakness, asking for help, caring for children, and taking paternity leave. There are likely many many more I’m missing, so would it be unfair to say that feminism is a fine word ant that we apply it to tackling the oppression of the “feminine?”

I made this reply to someone making the argument that if feminism is about creating equality then why is it called “feminism.” Firstly looking at the history of the word, of course it’s called feminism. Women had to fight to become legal persons let alone get equal pay or not be abused by the men in their lives. But more over I think it might be useful to throw this extra definition in the mix to help give a little egalitarian context to those people corrupted by the ideas thrown about by the MRA movement.

Criticizing Others

When I was at LogiCON on Saturday, one of the speakers mentioned how saying “you’re wrong” can easily be translated as “you’re stupid” or “you’re bad.” I think that this is a good point. I talk to a lot of people who believe things that I disagree with. Normally I ignore the belief, because it tends to only affect them. If someone wants to believe that aliens built the pyramids, whatever. As long as they aren’t forcing their beliefs on anyone else, I don’t really care. But sometimes I can’t not speak up. If I think that someone is doing something that will cause harm, then I want to at least encourage them to do otherwise.I cannot not speak up when someone wants to get rid of GM food altogether. If they want to eat organic, fine. But the organic food industry cannot support 7 billion people. I cannot not speak up when someone wants to give up necessary medicine and take alternative medicine instead. And I cannot not speak up when someone wants to force their religious beliefs into politics. 

I’m fine with people believing whatever they want, but I’m not okay with them using their beliefs to cause harm. We all deserve to be treated with respect. That means that I respect their right to believe, but that also means that they respect my right to not believe. Keeping that in mind, how do we let someone know that they are wrong without making them feel stupid? Everybody does stupid things now and again, and we all hold certain beliefs that we aren’t willing to examine closely. But that doesn’t mean that we are stupid. It simply means that everybody is wrong sometimes. 

I want to help people think critically about their beliefs. I want to encourage them to look more closely when I think that they are wrong. That doesn’t mean that I want them to change their mind. I simply want them to support their beliefs with concrete evidence. And I want them to do the same for me. I want them to point out when I am wrong and help me abandon the beliefs that I cannot support with evidence.

But this doesn’t seem to be how most people think. Most people seem to hold their beliefs up on a pedestal and won’t allow anyone to touch them with a ten foot pole. They take it personally when their beliefs are questioned. They also refuse to question others beliefs. They let their loved ones believe things that they see as wrong. This seems odd to me.

So how do we question peoples beliefs without putting them on the defensive? How do we assure them that we don’t think they are stupid? And how do we encourage them to do the same for others?

Show Some Respect

Today on Facebook I came across a post by an old friend of mine. It was a picture of Angalina Jolie and it said, basically, ew, that’s gross. She was commenting on the actors thinness. When I commented that Jolie has an eating disorder, according to magazines anyway, she replied “who cares. It’s just another actress with an eating disorder.”

This is an incredibly problematic thought process. Eating disorders are mental disorders and mental disorders are highly stigmatized. And who can blame actors, people who are judged daily, and by millions of people, on how they look. Magazines tell us whose fashion to idolize, they mock those whose fashion they dislike, they praise the stars who lose baby weight quickly, and they criticize any celebrity who doesn’t meet the unrealistic standard of beauty. At least the rest of us can hide behind a shield of anonymity. Celebrities don’t have that luxury.

So why do we continue to perpetuate these problems? Why do we shame people for something they can’t control? How many people would be willing to mock someone with a physical disability the way my old friend mocked Jolie’s mental disability? We need to put an end to this stigmatization of mental disorders. I am no less human because of my anxiety disorder. I still have feelings. I still have hopes and dreams. I still work, go to school, and pay the bills. My anxiety disorder just makes things a bit more difficult. I have one more thing to be mindful of than most people. I assume it’s the same for Jolie. She is a working mother with her hands full. She deserves some respect. We all do.

My Current Obsession

I have this tendency to get incredibly focused on my latest project to the detriment of everything else. Lately my obsession has been the conference that I want to put on. I have been researching fundraising strategies, which I’m not very good at, and how to plan a conference. I have even been planning how to write a narrative for the conferences “story.” Most of it is easy enough: it will be held at my university, it will be mostly teleconference, there will be food and drinks available, we will sell t-shirts, and it will focus on activism in freethought. We even have a name for it already. But there are some fundamental things that we don’t have. We need a reason for people to care about our conference. That is why we need a story. We need to get peoples attention. We also don’t have any money. We need to get some before the conference. That’s why we need to fund-raise. Finally, we don’t have any speakers. We need to attract people’s attention and make them want to speak at our conference. We aren’t intending to have the conference until January/February, so we have time. But we want to have it planned, as much as possible before going back to school. 

I should really be writing, but it’s hard to care when I have such a massive project in the works. Has anybody else undertaken such an event? How did you accomplish everything? Does anybody else get so obsessed over one thing that they ignore everything else?

%d bloggers like this: