The Skeptical Teacher

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

Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Scientologists Run Their Scam Again… In Haiti

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 7, 2010

So it seems that the folks living in Haiti have had quite a bad streak of luck lately.  First, they get hammered with a devastating earthquake which kills thousands and leaves millions homeless, and in the process their government – for all practical purposes – collapses & is virtually non-existent to deal with the crisis that follows.  After that, Uber-Asshole Pat Robertson heaps scorn upon them for their cultural heritage, and now this… the Church of Scientology has arrived to “save” the Haitians.

As this article from states…

Our Scientology sources tell us there’s an interesting reason that some members of the church are swarming into Haiti. And it’s even more appalling than you might have thought — tragedy profiteering.

John Travolta arranged for one plane of supplies to get to Port-au-Prince, and personally flew another Boeing 707 there himself. Those planes contained much needed food and equipment and genuine doctors. But they also contained volunteer ministers, ready to spread the word of Scientology.

Many Scientologists, says one of our sources, a longtime veteran of the church, “genuinely think that only they can help in an emergency.” They are misguided, but well-intentioned. But there are others who “are just total buzzards.” Those, he says, are engaging in a vain attempt to profit from the tragedy — a tale corroborated by another former church member. This email is doing the rounds:

By ‘help’, they mean money. And if those seminars result in confused and vulnerable Haitians signing up for any further courses in Scientology — unlikely as that seems, given the poverty in that country — these Global Pioneers get a 12 per cent cut of their future course fees. Our source says that over 100 plan to go to Port-au-Prince, and that he gets email and Facebook spam all day from ‘Pioneers’ seeking donations.

UPDATE: It seems, according to a tipster, that this email had done the rounds before the earthquake as well, apparently, as after. As such it’s not the smoking gun we first thought. But this may be. It’s a press release from the Global Pioneers, sent by the same man who sent the above missive — a Cary Goulston — outlining their achievements in Haiti since the earthquake:

I’m all for people helping out the Haitians in their hour of need, but from these documents I get the eerie sense that the Scientologists are looking to use this tragedy as a way of 1) raising money for non-relief efforts, and 2) spreading their twisted ideology. One reason I say this is the constant reference in the above documents to VMs – also known as “volunteer ministers”.  The VMs are the folks who will be spreading the Scientology doctrine among the vulnerable population in Haiti.

My advice: people of Haiti, beware.  Fortunately, there is a silver lining, because it seems that Anonymous is on the case.

Posted in cults | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Secular & Skeptic Help for Haiti

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 21, 2010

**Note: This is essentially a repost of Phil Plait’s recent entry at Skeptiblog, but it is worth spreading the message far and wide; so please take a moment to read it and pass it on…

The James Randi Educational Foundation has teamed up with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and a dozen other secular groups to set up a way to donate money to help out the people of Haiti after the huge earthquake last week.

As Randi says,

We at the JREF are very proud to be part of the concerted effort to aid Haiti to recover from this catastrophic event. To my mind, there is nothing more disturbing than hearing the distressed cries of children who are subjected to grief and/or injury, and my personal contribution has already been added to the encouraging total that mounts hour by hour. Please be generous and help us to reach out to Haitians of all ages, of any and all philosophical orientations.

Richard Dawkins will cover $10,000 of PayPal fees, so if you use that method 100% of your donation will go to help.

You can donate here. Please help.

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pat Robertson is an Asshole

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 14, 2010

I’m taking a bit of a departure from my usual routine to state something which should be patently obvious to anyone with even a shred of common, human decency: Pat Robertson is an asshole. Actually, to say as much would be an insult to assholes, but I cannot think of any other way to put it.

Of course, I’m referring to his recent comments regarding how the people of Haiti somehow deserved the earthquake which has killed & maimed so many because it is a punishment from God for Haitian slaves practicing voodoo (and swearing “a pact with the devil”) hundreds of years ago when they revolted against the French.  But don’t take it from me, take it from the Big Asshole himself…

Wow… I… am… speechless… well, not quite.  But these comments are truly shocking in their insensitivity, immorality, and intellectual vacuity.  They are insensitive for obvious reasons.  I contend that they are immoral because Robertson is using this tragedy to push his own narrow, fundamentalist version of Christianity – while neglecting the fact that roughly 85% of the population of Haiti is Catholic!  Of course, some jerks like Robertson will rationalize the argument by saying something like “Catholics aren’t real Christians” (which is a version of the No True Scotsman logical fallacy) while conveniently ignoring the fact that Catholics (with the exception of Eastern Orthodox Christians) were the only Christians for about 1500 years of history!  Arrgh!

**Aside: not that it should matter what the victims’ religious, or lack thereof, beliefs are; basic human decency should sway us to help them in their hour of need.

The comments are intellectually vacuous because they display the logical extension of a worldview rooted in superstition instead of science, reason, and rationality.  In Robertson’s worldview, there is absolute good and absolute evil (personified in his versions of God and Satan), and he creates a false dichotomy of a pure black-and-white world where those who share his beliefs are on the side of good (God) while those who disagree with him are on the side of evil (Satan) – recall how he made similar comments right after 9/11 about how the U.S. “deserved” to be attacked. Of course, his ignores the reality of how the world is rarely so simplistic, and there are complexities & shades of gray that pop up in many aspects of life.

Another aspect of Robertson’s commentary is disturbing: it views the world through the lens of supernatural forces beyond the understanding of humanity.  There isn’t a natural world which can be examined and understood through a reasoned analysis of natural causes (i.e. the scientific method); rather, the world is governed by good and evil spirits.  It’s all about God & angels versus Satan & demons – a view which, more than anything, propagates fear, ignorance, division, and humanity’s most negative tribal tendencies.

Alas, now that I’ve vented my spleen about Robertson’s stupidity, I shall cease cursing the darkness by lighting a candle (to use Carl Sagan’s analogy)… perhaps the best way to deal with assholes like Pat Robertson is to stay rooted in the real, natural world and actually deal with problems using reason & rationality as opposed to moaning about ghosts, goblins, fairies, and other vestiges of superstitious nonsense.  In other words, we are empowered and can actually do something because we realize that we live in the real world and can change it for the better – we are not slaves to supernatural powers beyond our control and/or comprehension.

If you want to help the people of Haiti (and I sincerely hope you do), a good start is to consider making an immediate cash donation to a reputable international relief agency, such as the Red Cross.

Go forth and light candles.

Posted in philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

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