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Posts Tagged with ‘This Week in CrackPottery’


The Agony of Mike Daisey

March 23rd, 2012 by

Back when I was a kid, my parents explained Mutually Assured Destruction to me. They thought telling a kid they might be blown up in a nuclear attack (or, more likely, slowly eaten away by fallout radiation) would be a cool thing to do. They said that the Soviet Union was run by a corrupt oligarchy and that I should probably know they might kill everyone I knew at a moment’s notice.

So I asked who was in charge of our nuclear weapons. Well, it turns out he was an actor. And he was a very old actor whose brain was probably deteriorating. It wasn’t very reassuring. (more…)

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Help, Help, I'm Being Repressed!

March 16th, 2012 by

The persecution complex goes back to the roots of Christianity. It’s one of the few ideas an early follower would recognize from today’s Christianity. If memes are like genes, then the idea that Christianity is so dangerous to the status quo and must be stamped out is like the genome of a shark or a crocodile. It plays its role so well in its own proliferation that very little adaptation has been required regardless of changes to its environment. As far as the New Testament goes, it starts in what biblical scholars consider to be the earliest of the four Gospels:

¬†And¬†ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (more…)

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TWiC #10: Free Will and Other Fairy Tales

March 9th, 2012 by

[I should probably point out that I started writing this post before I heard that Sam Harris just released a short book / long pamphlet about this subject. You'll just have to take my word for it.]

Being a connoisseur of crazy ideas carries with it a sort of demarcation problem. Is there a clearly defined line between a belief being totally unreasonable and kooky, and a belief which is just simply wrong? What kind of method can we use to tell the difference?

Sometimes it can be tough to distinguish between one unjustified belief categorized as crackpottery while another equally unjustified belief escapes unscathed simply because it’s popular. As it goes with pornography and Supreme Court justices, we might not be able to clearly define woo, but we can know it when we see it. As hazily defined a term as it is, maybe it would help the cause to expand its definition to the point where it makes more people re-examine their positions. (more…)

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TWiC #9: David Icke's 5 Most Hilarious Fantasies

March 2nd, 2012 by

So I’ve almost got to the double digits of this column about crackpots and craziness without even having addressed David Icke. He’s probably best known for spreading the idea that European royalty and other powerful elites like George Bush and Boxcar Willie are secretly the descendants of reptilian shape-shifters from another planet who interbred with humans in ancient times to create special bloodlines… Bloodlines of evil! And they eat babies! And stuff. It’s an extension of the Ancient Aliens hypotheses you get from guys like Zecharia Sitchin and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (who I hear is actually a really nice guy, for what it’s worth) with a little interplanetary erotica thrown in for fun.

(more…)

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TWiC #8: Alex Jones is the King of All Crackpots

February 24th, 2012 by

I first heard about Alex Jones during one of my first breaks home from college, catching up with a friend from high school. He went to college in Meadville, PA, at the same school which after one semester drove Trent Reznor into the happening nightlife of Cleveland and probably fueled his angst-based career for the next 20 years.

(more…)

20 Comments

TWiC #7: Flat Earthers Are Probably Smarter Than You

February 17th, 2012 by

… But they’re still wrong.

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” -Thomas Paine

Last weekend my Twitter timeline blew up when Kirk Cameron showed up at CPAC to lecture at the attendees about creationism and the worldwide mad deadly evolution conspiracy. But the mocking wasn’t coming from scientists or secular activists who work at keeping religion out of science classrooms. Those people tend to not show up at events like CPAC. No, it was coming pretty much exclusively from liberal political activist bloggers and journalists. And not only that, it was also exclusively coming from bloggers and journalists who, as far as I could tell, have never once written about biological evolution or the fallacies involved in creationist arguments. I speculated that most of them have never even opened a text on evolution before. (more…)

11 Comments

TWiC #6: Obama is a Secret Pharaoh Clone

February 9th, 2012 by

“OBAMA! And BIDEN! The Three Musketeers!”

So it looks like birtherism is about as dead as we could hope. Sure, the WorldNetDaily and Washington Times crowd will never be convinced Barack Obama is an American human, but the public consciousness has at least shifted enough around this issue that when someone admits to being a birther it’s pretty much the end of any serious conversation. So now the would-be birthers who still want to be taken seriously have to limit their race-baiting to the kind of dog-whistle buzz words and phrases that people like Newt Gingrich are so fond of. (more…)

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TWiC #5: Sally Morgan and other frauds

February 3rd, 2012 by

“Gimme all your money or I’ll crush your head for Jesus!”

One of the more celebrated debunking instances among skeptics is when James Randi and his cohorts caught the notorious scam artist / phony “faith healer” Peter Popoff red-handed lying to his audiences. For those who don’t know this story, Popoff’s staff would ask the audience as they were arriving to fill out “prayer cards” with their names, contact info, and which ailments they were hoping to cure by showing up. Popoff’s wife would collect them and during the performance, she would read some of the more promising entries and transmit the information to a receiver Popoff had hidden in an earpiece. (more…)

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