The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘girls’

Catholic Bishops Decide to Declare War on Women Early… by Attacking the Girl Scouts

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 11, 2012

Oh dear evil Jeebus.  As if the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops – also known as the 21st century Inquisition – hasn’t done enough damage attempting to drag us back into the 19th century with their recent, moronic attacks against birth control and women’s reproductive rights, they’ve decided to go a few steps even further down the rabbit hole.  They have decided to declare war on women early… before they’re even women… by going after the Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts under scrutiny from Catholic bishops

NEW YORK — Long a lightning rod for conservative criticism, the Girl Scouts  of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry  by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find  offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups  espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have  numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their  alliances.

The inquiry coincides with the Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebrations and  follows a chain of other controversies.

Earlier this year, legislators in Indiana and Alaska publicly called the  Scouts into question, and the organization was berated in a series aired by a  Catholic broadcast network. Last year, the Scouts angered some conservatives by  accepting into a Colorado troop a 7-year-old transgender child who was born a  boy but was being raised as a girl.

Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that  have been denied by the Girl Scouts’ head office repeatedly and categorically.  It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take  positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion.

“It’s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when  distortions get repeated over and over,” said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl  Scouts’ director of inclusive membership strategies.

In other instances, the scouts have modified materials that drew complaints  — for example, dropping some references to playwright Josefina Lopez because  one of her plays, “Simply Maria,” was viewed by critics as mocking the Catholic  faith.

The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity,  Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ “possible  problematic relationships with other organizations” and various “problematic”  program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop  Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.

The bishops’ conference provided a copy of the letter to The Associated  Press, but otherwise declined comment. …

This is really starting to piss me off, and it makes me want to buy an assload of Girl Scout cookies in response to this B.S.  And then I want to get a bunch of friends together to put on a very public display of eating those cookies in front of a Catholic church in protest.  Sound like a plan?

Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Fallibility of Prominent Skeptics: The Lawrence Krauss Fiasco

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 10, 2011

Every now and then there is a controversy which rips through the skeptical community, because – whether we like to admit it or not – skeptics are humans, too.  As such, we are subject to the same limitations & failings as are all people, and this latest frackus has certainly put that on display.

Apparently, prominent skeptic and defender of science Prof. Lawrence Krauss – a man whom I have admired for many years – has, how shall I put this, rather stupidly inserted not only his foot but the majority of his leg pretty firmly into his mouth.  He did this by coming out and at least giving the impression that he is publicly defending a known & convicted pedophile – oooh, ick.

I’m not going to spend a huge amount of time writing on this topic, and I’m certainly not going to get into the whole issue of underage sex, prostitution, pedophilia, and that related morass.  I choose to leave it to the reader to check out the Skepchick link on the matter (as well as the rather colorful comment section in which Krauss defends his remarks and others respond) and come to their own conclusions.  Suffice it to say, I think Krauss is on the losing side on this one, and rightly so.

What I’d like to speak to is something more general and, in my opinion, far more important that what I’ll call the Lawrence Krauss Fiasco has illustrated: even prominent skeptics & scientists are capable of making horrendously stupid mistakes, especially where emotions (such as one’s allegiance to a close friend) are involved.  In this, they are every bit as human as you and me.

I like the way in which the question was put on this post to the JREF Forum:

One reason I find this so disturbing is because it seems so obvious to the rest of us that Krauss is relying on nothing more than gut feelings right now, yet he’s 100% sure that this is enough to support his personal opinion. In other words, a well-known and well-respected skeptic is acting like a complete woomeister, it’s been pointed out to him repeatedly, yet he’s refusing to acknowledge it. Does this mean that any one of us could be subject to the same embarrassing lapse in judgement?

My response… in a word: yes.

We are all subject to cognitive dissonance, in one form or another.  I’m sure we can all relate to experiences in our lives where, upon looking back on them, our cognitive dissonance and lack of skepticism & critical thinking was obvious.  Thankfully, though, I’m guessing that most of us don’t take it to the extreme or do so as publicly as Prof. Krauss has done in this case.

This is why having a community of critical & skeptical thinkers is so important – it gives us the capability to hold each other to a higher standard.  By doing so we root out loose, sloppy, and – sometimes – downright repulsive argumentation & reasoning.  By not putting all of our intellectual eggs in one basket and engaging in demagoguery via some kind of twisted hero worship, we as a community can sit back & objectively examine the reasoning & opinions of our leaders.  And, as in the Lawrence Krauss Fiasco, we have seen that it can be a very useful method of calling out even our most prominent skeptics when they are dead, flat wrong.

And, for the record, the day the skeptical community ceases to engage in this necessary & vital form of self-reflection & criticism, then that’s the day I call it quits.  But that day isn’t anywhere close, from what I can see 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

AAP Follow Up Statement on Female Genital “Cutting”

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 17, 2010

I blogged a few days ago, in my post Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Women & Science, about how I thought the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) really frakked up by appearing to give cover to some doctors who want to cater to some parents that want to engage in female circumcision (what I and others refer to as FGM – female genital mutilation).  It is worth noting that this new position on the part of the AAP is particularly striking, seeing as how FGM is against federal law in the United States.

Well, thankfully, the AAP has come out with a statement clarifying its position…

The traditional custom of ritual cutting and alteration of the genitalia of female infants, children, and adolescents, referred to as female genital mutilation or female genital cutting (FGC), persists primarily in Africa and among certain communities in the Middle East and Asia. Immigrants in the United States from areas in which FGC is common may have daughters who have undergone a ritual genital procedure or may request that such a procedure be performed by a physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that pediatricians and pediatric surgical specialists should be aware that this practice has life-threatening health risks for children and women. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes all types of female genital cutting that pose risks of physical or psychological harm, counsels its members not to perform such procedures, recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC, and urges its members to provide patients and their parents with compassionate education about the harms of FGC while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters.

It looks as if saner heads have prevailed over at the AAP.  You don’t put an end to a destructive, misogynistic practice based upon superstition like FGM by kow-towing to the people who engage in the superstition, and I’m glad the AAP has realized that.

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Women Thinking Free Foundation Kickoff Event!

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 6, 2010

There’s a groovy new skeptical group in the Chicago region called the Women Thinking Free Foundation (or WTFF) which has the following mission: Our goal as an organization is to bring science, skepticism and critical thinking to the women of the Midwest. We’re planning some great events, campaigns and outreach programs to help provide women with the tools to fight pseudoscience.

Our first event is to host skeptical activist Jen McCreight, the author of the Blag Hag blog and creator of Boobquake…

Saturday, May 22 @ 7pm

Galway Arms – upstairs banquet room

2442 N Clark St

Chicago, IL

No ticket will be issued, names will be added to the guest list.

Limited metered parking available, $13 unlimited parking available in the Children’s Memorial Hospital Parking Garage at 2515 N Clark.

Tickets will be available at the door, as space permits, and may be purchased with cash or credit.

Questions? Please contact Elyse Anders – elyse@womenthinkingfree.org

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal, Papal “Infallibility”, and Free Inquiry

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 31, 2010

In the last week, a storm of controversy has raged concerning the Roman Catholic Church and its ongoing sexual abuse scandal. For almost a decade this controversy has gone on, taking up space on newspaper pages here and there.  But now the whole sordid affair has taken on a new dimension with the revelation that Vatican officials, including the current Pope Benedict XVI (whom I call, with good reason, the “Rat in the Hat”), not only knew about such systemic & widespread abuse but also actively worked to cover it up.  According to a recent New York Times article…

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

What is almost as horrifying as these revelations of the systemic sexual abuse of children by pedophile priests and the effort on the part of Church officials to cover it up, apparently going all the way to the upper echelons of the Vatican, is the reaction from the Vatican in the last week.  Specifically, I am referring to the absolutely staggering level of cognitive dissonance being displayed by the Vatican regarding any responsibility their institution has in this scandal.

Consider, if you will, the various reactions from the Vatican as it attempts to spin its way out of this mess, outlined by this NYTimes Op-Ed…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in free inquiry, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

 
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