Category Archives: Atheism

Count the Oxymorons


I see two.

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Crybaby conservatives: facts need a “counterweight”

Paging through Toronto Life’s May 2011 edition I came across an interview with this guy named Ezra Levant. It’s a name I felt like I’d seen somewhere before, but I’m not a media junkie due to time constraints, so I knew nothing about him. I was fascinated though, and not in a good way. He complains that the CBC doesn’t include enough conservative “pundits” on their programs. He also said something about advocating for “freedom” and “freedom of speech.” And it occurred to me that this is the conservative attitude: that no matter how ridiculous and unbacked by facts their ideas may be, they should have the right to express themselves as much as those who discuss things that are actually true.

In other words, I have an opinion based on science, e.g., climate change is actually happening. But some rightwing nutbar comes along and says he believes it’s not happening – that’s all it’s got to be, some deepseated belief this guy feels somewhere behind his sternum – and it’s a denial of his right to freedom of speech not to give him equal billing to declaim his viewpoint.

I assume this attitude stems from religion, where your belief in something that doesn’t exist is unquestionable, and to be considered as valid as things that are empirically provable. Levant says, “There is no counterweight in the official consensus media narrative. I think there are plenty of people who are just desperate for the other side of the story…” The thing is, this “counterweight,” the “other side of the story,” is nothing but emotional fiction. People want their unsubstantiated feelings to be legitimized by some talking head on TV. Enter Levant.

He’s given about 300 words in total, and he can’t even manage these without contradicting himself. In describing Sun News’s format, he says they “won’t have the typical set-up, with one Liberal, one Tory and one New Democrat.” But the whole purpose of his rant is to say that CBC doesn’t include the Tory. And yet here he says it’s the “typical set-up.” I guess this guy feels like he’s being consistent…and that should be good enough for any conservative.

Debunking the paranormal – with science

Listening to Definitely Not the Opera today on CBC I was excited by an interview with Susan Blackmore, a UK writer and professor who began with a PhD in parapsychology and ended up, after years of experiments failed to turn up any evidence that the paranormal has any existence in reality, abandoning her field of study. I went to her website and read “Why I have given up,” a chapter from Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World’s Leading Paranormal Inquirers (edited by P. Kurtz). Her career path is bit like that of a zoologist specializing in a particular creature, only to discover that it doesn’t exist. What’s especially enlightening about Dr. Blackmore’s odyssey is that she could have – like the subjects she has studied – turned her energies into explaining why she wasn’t getting the results she expected, rather than facing the reality of her scientific conclusions. Amazing person. (And I’m always pleased to see another nail in the coffin of superstition.)